Posts from our progressive community

Dear "Fair Vote Canada" - Back the Hell Off

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 13:52
Fair Vote Canada has launched a campaign seeking volunteers to circulate petitions demanding the Liberal government implement proportional representation. They're piggybacking their preferred option, proportional rep., on the back of Justin Trudeau's promise to introduce some sort of electoral reform.

I'm more than a bit leery of Fair Vote Canada and their campaign for pro-rep. Part of that is because I don't know enough about proportional representation or any of the other options such as the single, transferable ballots and all of their permutations. I have read that the option FVC is pushing would favour the NDP while the weighted ballot might favour the Libs.  I don't know but I'd sure like to understand the ramifications of all the options before I throw in with any one of them despite Fair Vote Canada's strident urgings.

At the end of the day I want Canadians to have their say and I'll live with that. We should all get a democratic voice something we won't have if we give in to the squeaky wheels.

First past the post is a deeply flawed system in any multi-party Parliament. Convincing voters of the obvious failures of FPTP shouldn't be difficult. Giving them full information and a suitable slate of alternatives also should not be difficult. If you can't sell that at this point you never will but if Canadians choose FPTP then that's their will and you can't further democracy by defying their democratic choice.

My difficulty with proportional representation is that it provides for political parties to appoint MPs who have never faced the electorate. To whom are these people accountable. How can we have a Parliament with two classes of members, those chosen by voters and others chosen by party hacks in backrooms? By what moral right are these unelected place holders to vote on issues affecting my life and my children's? There's something unsavory to that.

I take the new prime minister at his word that he will deal with this during his term of office. The squeaky wheels of Fair Vote Canada can get by squeaking a little longer.

Great line of the day

Cathie from Canada - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 12:12
The Mound of Sound writes about The Moral War and our new wars of the 21st Century:
All I've garnered out of those studies has led me to formulate a precautionary rule. Don't get into wars that you're not willing to win and, even then, not without knowing how you will win, how long that will take, at what cost, how you will know if you've won and if you've lost, and how you will get out. Those preconditions all sound so reasonable and yet, if applied to our military adventures in the Muslim world since the turn of this century, we would have stayed home.
Forget this bullshit about moral wars for it's the most heinous, most barbaric side that sets that morality bar in these new wars. There's no moral consolation prize that doesn't leave mountains of suffering and dead in its wake.
Emphasis mine.
I hope Trudeau withstands the twin pressures he is under now to continue showing off in the middle east with meaningless Canadian air strikes, while simultaneously running away at home by not admitting as many Syrian refugees as he promised.

Here's a Thought.

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 11:31
An observation this morning from regular commenter, Toby:

At the barber shop this morning I got an earful of nonsense about the Paris attacks, about Trudeau doing everything wrong, about awful immigrants (Syrian, East Indian) gang warfare and how Harper did such a good job. Very little actual facts. One wonders how the eternal gabfest creates the fantasy.

One thing is obvious: if the Paris attacks had happened two days before the Canadian election Harper would have another majority.

Let that sink in for a couple of minutes and then breathe a deep sigh of relief.

Are we headed for a third world war?

LeDaro - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 10:42
What is going on in the Middle East has reached a very dangerous cross-road.

The Moral War

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 09:48

I'm deeply confused by the outpouring of sentiment over the Paris terrorist attacks, especially the resounding clamour for prime minister Trudeau to reverse his decision on withdrawing Canada's six-pack of CF-18s from the air campaign in Iraq and Syria.  This is a sentiment that seems widely shared among Liberals and Conservatives alike although the Tories, true to form, are decidedly uglier and more racist in their criticisms.

Most of this stuff I just dismiss as the sort of emotionalism that always follows atrocity, excepting instances where our side is at fault (ask Medicins sans Frontieres if you need clarification). That goes for most of our populist journos also. The Star's Rosie Dimanno is a perfect example along with the editorial staff of the Globe and PostMedia.

I tend to make an exception for people like the CBC's Neil Macdonald who, in my opinion, seems to bring a bit more reason and balance to his punditry. When it comes to our hapless air campaign, Macdonald boils down the West's options as just keep going (i.e. bombing) indefinitely or leave.

"Everyone knows airstrikes will not decide this fight. And the U.S.-led campaign to arm and train "moderate" rebels in Syria and troops in Iraq has been an embarrassment, to put it mildly.

"Generally, whenever ISIS or its affiliated extremists have shown up, America's proxies have cut and run, often leaving their U.S.-provided guns and hardware for the enemy to scoop up.

"But disengaging and letting the Middle East sort itself out would involve a hideous price for the populations on the ground.

"ISIS operates by its own grotesque set of the Hama rules, and the massacres that would without question follow an ISIS expansion would validate Pope Francis's observation that what we are seeing today is a piecemeal version of World War III.

"For Washington and Paris and London and Ottawa and all the other coalition members, this is a horrible set of options.

"There is no Solomonic solution available, and, to make it worse, the brutal truth is that America's so-called coalition of the willing, which invaded Iraq on a false pretext, effectively created ISIS (which, unsurprisingly, has several of Saddam Hussein's former generals among its commanders).

"The West sowed dragons' teeth, which grew into armed fanatics now bent on taking the battle back to the West. And ahead of them, massive rivers of miserable refugees are trudging toward Western soil.

"We can pray for Paris to our hearts' content, and light up monuments in the colours of the French flag, and trade peace sign memes of the Eiffel Tower. But what Western militarism created cannot be sung or wished away.

"Hafez al-Assad and his Baathist colleague Saddam Hussein were both monsters. But compared to what the West unleashed on itself, they seem, in retrospect, like incarnations of stability."

Macdonald cites the "Hama Rules." The name comes from a campaign waged by Bashar's dad, Hafez.
"After surviving an assassination attempt by the militant Muslim Brotherhood, Assad sent out death squads with orders to slaughter every Brotherhood member held in Syria's prisons, of which there were hundreds.

"And he was just getting started. His security forces initiated a lethal crackdown that culminated in February 1982 when Syrian tanks and artillery units arrived in Hama, a Brotherhood stronghold.

"Over the next few weeks, the army destroyed entire sections of the city, killed tens of thousands of people, and bulldozed the rubble flat.

"Hafez al-Assad never had another problem with the Brotherhood."

Such may be the tactical lingua franca of the battle against Islamist radicals. If you want to win you must be prepared to resort to barbarism an order of magnitude greater than your adversary. You must not hesitate to kill innocents as well as your enemies. Of course it's one thing when it's Muslim on Muslim butchery.  
Which brings us to the strategy currently in vogue with Israel's political and military leadership, Dahiyeh. It's a policy of deliberately targeting civilian populations instead of military units or installations that was widely practiced on all sides during WWII (i.e. carpet bombing, firestorms and, of course, nuclear attack) but which was thereafter outlawed as inhumane. The thinking is that those civilians provide support to the enemy and whether that's voluntary or under compulsion is irrelevant.
This is all well and good except we have forsworn that sort of barbarism and readily condemn it in others (except our ally, Israel, of course). Besides, it's one thing in the Muslim on Muslim context, quite another when it becomes Infidel on Muslim. That might reverberate for a while with unwelcome results.

It would help if we could come to a working understanding of what warfare has become in the 21st century. We go to these affairs prepared to engage in "old war" - the state-on-state stuff with standing armies vying for victory ending in peace on one side's terms. Instead we're embroiled in "new war" in which there's a confusing mix of state and non-state actors, pursuing what are often distinct agendas leading to drawn out conflicts in which there is neither victory nor peace to be had at the conclusion.  The age of unwinnable war without end may be upon us. All the King's horses and all the King's men can't be relied upon to produce favourable outcomes.
What is the moral dimension of waging war without end? Where is the morality in going to war until the voters at home finally grow bored with it and the political caste finds it necessary to call the whole thing off? What is our moral obligation to the defenceless hordes we leave in our wake as we depart? How do we deny them sanctuary as refugees?
Is this a function of original sin? You lied your way into this war and now the Pottery Barn rule applies (you broke it, you own it).
I'm hopelessly confused and yet I have studied this "new war" theory and have some grasp on what it portends. It's one of those things that the more you explore it the murkier it becomes. All I've garnered out of those studies has led me to formulate a precautionary rule. Don't get into wars that you're not willing to win and, even then, not without knowing how you will win, how long that will take, at what cost, how you will know if you've won and if you've lost, and how you will get out. Those preconditions all sound so reasonable and yet, if applied to our military adventures in the Muslim world since the turn of this century, we would have stayed home.
Forget this bullshit about moral wars for it's the most heinous, most barbaric side that sets that morality bar in these new wars. There's no moral consolation prize that doesn't leave mountains of suffering and dead in its wake.

Gregor Mortis at the Hall?

Left Over - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 08:57

Can Gregor Robertson keep going? New ideas needed for age-old problems of housing and transit after eventful 1st year of 3rd term

By Chad Pawson, CBC News Posted: Nov 16, 2015 7:42 AM PT Last Updated: Nov 16, 2015 8:05 AM PT


The problem at City Hall isn’t just the need for fresh blood, it’s an ongoing saga of  deadwood in the bureaucracy..
As a former civic employee, now retired, I watched over a twenty year period as the same tired sycophants progressed up the management ladder..and if you were an anti-union worker abusing type, so much the better, especially under such regimes as Sam Sullivan’s..
There has been labour peace since Robertson got elected, yes, but the same miserable rightwing bureaucrats are still there, I see some of them as spokespersons during media chats, and it is disheartening to know that they will do everything in their power to keep the old status quo going..
Not only are key positions going begging, some internal house cleaning is needed…otherwise Vancouver will continue to be in stale orbit with no progressive ideas on the biggest issue in Vancouver – affordable housing, of both kinds, rental and ownership – being made in the foreseeable future..
That  publicity-seeking hack, Gordon Price,  has set himself up to be some sort of spokesperson for the universe, but the truth is he was part of the crew that kept the corporate tools going when he was in office, as an NPA member..thankfully, they have not regained power, but they are always lurking there in the shallow end of the political swamp, waiting to resume their regime of 1%er something, Gregor, while you still have a mandate.  To paraphrase  flamboyant   editorials of the past, Gregor, have to say that you might want to take a look around   the  Hall and  see just who deserves to be  given a one-way ticket to Palookaville, for their numbers are legion….

Collective Amnesia

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 07:05

In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, it seems that the world is about to embark on even greater military intervention in the Middle East, intervention that will undoubtedly be aided and abetted by a fog of amnesia about recent history.

While I do not consider myself particularly well-versed in international politics, especially as it pertains to the Middle East, it hardly takes a Ph.D to know that every time an outside force enters the region, disaster ensues. Consider, for example, the Soviet Union's failed incursion into Afghanistan in the 1980's, which essentially gave birth to Al Queda thanks to the U.S. arming of the mujahideen. That the Soviets found the country uncontainable in no way deterred U.S. adventurism there, which only made the world's situation much more precarious.

But U.S. aggression in Afghanistan was merely prologue to even greater disaster in Iraq. Indeed, writer Oliver Willis suggests that George Bush's inept decisions led directly to the creation of ISIS:
1. The decision to invade Iraq, which had been contained by the no-fly zone created by the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations and unable to threaten its neighbors or the West, created a power vacuum in the Middle East which had been filled by Saddam Hussein until the invasion in March o 2003.

2. The Bush administration believed it could install Ahmed Chalabi – part of the public relations campaign to sell the Iraq War to America – as leader of the new government, but he had been outside of the country so long they never accepted him. He was viewed as a “western stooge.”

3. Almost all of the leaders of ISIS have connections to the former Iraqi government, mostly coming from the military of the Saddam Hussein regime.

4. Paul Bremer, who was the appointed head of Iraq by the Bush administration, passed the de-Baathification law which sent Iraqi army members into the populace, eventually becoming insurgents and terrorists:

The de-Baathification law promulgated by L.­ Paul Bremer, Iraq’s American ruler in 2003, has long been identified as one of the contributors to the original insurgency. At a stroke, 400,000 members of the defeated Iraqi army were barred from government employment, denied pensions — and also allowed to keep their guns.

5. ISIS leaders’ training as part of Hussein’s regime gave them the knowledge they’ve needed to be deadly:

Even with the influx of thousands of foreign fighters, almost all of the leaders of the Islamic State are former Iraqi officers, including the members of its shadowy military and security committees, and the majority of its emirs and princes, according to Iraqis, Syrians and analysts who study the group.Some might admit that "mistakes were made," but no one seems to want to take any lessons from those mistakes.

There are now calls for long-term and intensive military build-ups in the fight against ISIS: Some also speak of a much more aggressive military option. Experts say it would require 150,000 U.S. troops, could last decades and cost trillions.An enthusiastic Thomas Donelly of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute is calling for such an implementation in Syria and Iraq: It would take “more years of heavy combat than we’ve seen before” and “decades,” to properly re-integrate alienated Sunni populations that have sometimes backed Islamic State. The initial stage would cost more than $1 trillion over several years, he estimates, and 150,000 troops.

“Anything less than military engagement is likely to be useless,” Donnelly said. “It’s a war.”Justin Trudeau has mounted the world stage as an emblem of soft power. We can only hope that he manages to keep his head as so many others in the 'civilized' world are losing theirs as they frantically beat the war drums, the reverberations of which are likely to grow louder and louder over the next weeks and months.Recommend this Post

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 06:54
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Tony Atkinson offers reason for hope that it's more than possible to rein in inequality and ensure a more fair distribution of resources if we're willing to put in the work to make it happen:
(T)he present levels of inequality are not inevitable; we are not simply at the mercy of forces beyond our control. If we want to reduce inequality, and that is a big “if”, then there are steps that we can take. They are not necessarily easy and they have costs. We would have to discard economic and political orthodoxies. If our leaders are serious about tackling inequality, then they have to move outside their comfort zone and to consider a wider agenda. But there are concrete measures that can be tried if we are serious about tackling inequality.

At the same time, I should emphasize at the outset that, while I make far-reaching proposals, I am not seeking to go to the opposite extreme: from dystopia to utopia. Rather, I am concerned with a reduction in inequality below its current level — that is with the direction of movement, not the ultimate destination. My reading of the current state of opinion is that many people feel that present inequality is excessive, while having different views about how much they would like to see it reduced. My book is directed at this broad coalition, allowing the reader to choose how far they wish to go along the road described.
Reviewers have accused me of being nostalgic for a bygone-era that never will be repeated. But much of the book is concerned with how the world has changed and how it will change in the future. I devote considerable space to the role of technology and robotisation; I stress how the labour market is changing so that we can no longer focus on “jobs”; I discuss the shifting relation between the ownership of wealth and the control of capital. These developments potentially have profound distributional implications. But they are not necessarily grounds for pessimism. The citizens of OECD countries today enjoy a standard of living that is much higher than that of their great-grand-parents. The achievement of a less unequal society in the period of the Second World War and subsequent post-war decades has not been fully overthrown. At a global level, the great divergence between countries associated with the Industrial Revolution is closing. It is true that since 1980 we have seen an “Inequality Turn” and that the 21st century brings challenges that I have not discussed — such as population ageing and climate change. But the solutions to these problems lie in our own hands. If we are willing to use today’s greater wealth to address these challenges, and — crucially — to accept that resources should be shared less unequally, there are indeed grounds for optimism.- David Dayen argues that we need to revive the use of antitrust law to rein in corporate abuses. And CBC exposes another galling example of pharmaceutical profiteering, as an off-patent drug needed to treat childhood epilepsy on an urgent basis saw its price rocket from $33 per vial to $680 after a multinational purchased its previous manufacturer.

- But David Schneiderman points out that the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other corporate control agreements are instead designed to tie government hands - and makes the case that we need a serious public debate before signing on.

- Anne Farries discusses how ill-advised austerity has affected basic public protections such as firefighting - and the problem extends well beyond Farries' focus on rural Cape Breton.

- Finally, Andrew Potter nicely sums up the Harper Cons' philosophy as setting up provincial firewalls from the federal level - rather than allowing for the exchange of money and knowledge necessary for a federal system to function.

Justin Trudeau and Those Who Would Destroy the Dream

Montreal Simon - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 05:24

He's at the G20 summit in Turkey, doing a great job of repairing this country's soiled reputation, and getting mobbed by his many admirers.

And making us look cool again in the eyes of the world, instead of the slack jawed residents of the insane asylum Harperland, or the Army of the Walking Dead.

But back home his enemies are already using the bloody tragedy in Paris as a weapon to try to destroy him.

Led of course, by the chunky chicken hawk and religious fanatic Jason Kenney.

Read more »

Let's Hope He's No Fool

Northern Reflections - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 05:13

It didn't take long for Justin Trudeau to be tested. On Friday night, the gauntlet was on the ground -- thrown, not by Canadians, but by terrorists in the streets of Paris. Michael Harris writes:

For Justin Trudeau, mass murder in Paris is his trial by ordeal as prime minister. It didn’t take very long. At the end of the month, Paris was supposed to be the glittering venue where a new, young prime minister, and an impressive delegation, would announce to the world that the old Canada is back. No more fossil awards, no more climate change denial on behalf of oil companies or the Koch Brothers, no more corporate-driven “facts” on the environment, no more beating the war drums. Canada was not shaking its finger at the world anymore, but offering an embrace.
But that's the kind of world we live in -- a world where someone else's mistakes come back to bite you. Now the French, unsurprisingly, have vowed to conduct a "pitiless war." But Andrew Bacevich, writing in the Boston Globe, reminds us where pitiless war in the Middle East has gotten us:

“It’s not as if the outside world hasn’t already given pitiless war a try. The Soviet Union spent all of the 1980s attempting to pacify Afghanistan and succeeded only in killing a million or so Afghans while creating an incubator for Islamic radicalism. Beginning in 2003, the United States attempted something similar in Iraq and ended up producing similarly destabilizing results. By the time the US troops withdrew in 2011, something like 200,000 Iraqis had died, most of them civilians. Today Iraq teeters on the brink of disintegration.” 
There will be all kinds of pressure on Trudeau to join the continuing March of Folly. He's young. But let's hope he's no fool.

Ezra Levant's Grotesque Visit to Paris and the Wages of Bigotry

Montreal Simon - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 00:22

As if the people of Paris hadn't suffered enough, as if they hadn't seen enough ugliness.

Well now that horror show just got a little uglier.

Because the self styled Rebel Commander Ezra Levant is in the City of Light, sowing his darkness.

And he couldn't be more disgusting. 
Read more »

A Must-See. The Charlie Hebdo Cartoons

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 11/15/2015 - 12:39
The Independent has reprinted the cartoon responses of  Charlie Hebdo's Joann Sfar. They're really inspirational. A lot of us can use a bit of this wisdom.

The Sea is Coming. Vancouver is Fighting Back with Sand Bags - For Now.

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 11/15/2015 - 12:22
Take pity on the multi-millionaires whose homes line the waterfront in Vancouver's West Point Grey neighbourhood. Those magnificent homes are generally low lying and the rising sea is closing the gap.

Rising sea level, high tides and the threat of storm surge recently had Vancouver municipal crews out sandbagging beautiful Locarno Beach.

It held, this time.

But sandbags won't hold the sea back forever and, as seen from these photos, the beach itself wasn't defended from inundation and erosion. It's the erosion from successive and worsening events, not flooding, that causes the real and lasting damage. It's the erosion that sculpts the shoreline.

It could be worse. Think of all those stars in Malibu who built their incredible mansions along the once spectacular beaches.

Those beaches are now gone, taken by the rising sea.

Now the seas reach out to the concrete barricades at the edge of their lawns. In some areas the sea has taken the lawns as well. Not hard to figure out what's next.

It's hard to imagine what the salt spray is doing to their houses. I live a block from the sea and I have to deal with a bit of corrosion. These places in the picture above, they'll have saltwater corrosion everywhere inside their homes and out. Their window glass must be horribly etched.

It's a curious thing to observe. We have a neighbourhood of fine but low-lying waterfront homes at the south end of town and a row of far bigger but also quite exposed and low-lying "McMansions" just north of me. The homeowners to the south are in a jam. Once or twice every year a high tide worsened by a storm surge and a mountain river overflowing its banks leaves them inundated and cut off. The municipality won't grant a permit for any construction in that area, not so much as a garden shed. And, if your house burns down or eventually succumbs to the effects of repeated flooding, your only option is to leave. Doesn't do much for the property values.

There's an article in the Toronto Star about the American experience. That's where you see living, breathing socialism for the rich in action in the Carolinas.
Another report in the series lightly explores the reality of sea level rise in Canada.

Provincial and local governments are still working from the now very old estimate of 1-metre of sea level rise this century. One municipal engineer I discussed this with said it's probably going to be 2-metres, perhaps even 3, but no one wants to go there because preparing for 1-metre is more than we're prepared to tackle.

Cognitive dissonance? Sure, especially in places like Miami where they're building condos and shopping malls with abandon even as sea level rise threatens to take down the local sewer and water systems. We're somewhat better but not very much.

People don't want to pay taxes to build systems that may protect some rich dude's waterfront property twenty years from now. Politicians, looking at their finite terms in office, don't have much incentive to bring down upon themselves the wrath of reluctant taxpayers just to "do the right thing."

It takes a good while for reality to set in. The Dutch struggled for decades to hold back the sea from land they had reclaimed in the past. Only recently have they begun to accept that parts of their shorefront is going to have to be surrendered to the sea. That is notional wealth lost, destroyed. There is no salvage. Folks have to write off their assets and start over. Governments aren't going to be able to cover their losses, not for very long.

An Encouraging Sign Amidst The Terror

Politics and its Discontents - Sun, 11/15/2015 - 12:07
While the right seems hell-bent on exploiting the Paris massacre, it is heartening to see that some of the people most affected, the French, are demonstrating that they won't be so easily manipulated
French mourners in the city of Lille, which is north of Paris, sent anti-immigrant bigots scurrying away after they tried to intrude on a vigil for victims of Friday night’s terrorist attacks, the Independent reports.

The vigil began at 3 p.m. local time but was quickly interrupted by about 15 members of far-right group, the French National Front. The group angered grief-stricken vigil attendees by shouting, “Expel Islamists,” throwing firecrackers and unfurling an Islamophobic banner.

But the bigots were quickly forced to leave when the crowd of hundreds turned on them and forced them to retreat. Security forces intervened before tensions escalated further, according to the British publication.
Recommend this Post

Of Courage and Cowardice

The Disaffected Lib - Sun, 11/15/2015 - 10:22

I'm beginning to fear that our society is more seriously, intractably divided than I had imagined.

The Harper Decade of Darkness was spent focusing on the dark art of wedge politics  with fear mongering and appeals to base instincts and biases. These are the tools Harper employed on his supporters. He made them fear the "other" lurking about waiting to pounce on rightwing righteousness.

Harper knew that he didn't have to get that many voters to claim power, even an outright majority. He knew that, with the fearful and the bigots, he was a shoo-in.

In the wake of the Paris bombings I've read a lot of rightwing reaction to Justin Trudeau's decision to end Canada's participation in America's hapless bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria. They uniformly slam Trudeau for cowardice.

Cowardice? What is that but a fear reaction in the face of some threat of death or bodily harm? If withdrawing those six CF-18s is cowardice then sending them must somehow be courageous. When it came to Harper I never saw any sign of courage. In fact the only event I can remember is when Harper bolted into the janitor's closet leaving his caucus to possibly face the gunman firing outside. That was cowardice. Ordering a little dollop of jet fighters hither and yon isn't courageous, it's politically expedient.

Yet as I read these remarks there was something almost Tea Partyish to them. They seemed disconnected from fact. I began to sense that Harper may have actually radicalized at least a good segment of the rightwing base which may ensure that we'll remain a sharply divided society. These types are quite venomous. We've had their kind on the Left also but we didn't really tolerate them much less cultivate them. The Right, however, may see these radicals as the building blocks for their restoration and I think that should worry all of us.

The presence of a radical right could well surface if the moderates seek to reclaim the Conservative Party from its Reform wing. We'll just have to wait as the leadership candidates emerge.  If the radical right is cultivated, mobilized for the leadership contest, then I think we're looking at the continuation of a sharply divided society for years to come and just at a time when we need social cohesion more than ever.

A divided society is not simply unpleasant. It's a weakened society, one that invites, even rewards, somewhat more extreme political ideologies. This, in turn, makes it more difficult to find the common ground that unites all of us. Politics becomes a feud. I so hope we don't succumb to that.

Cross your fingers.

Where Is Justice To Be Found?

Politics and its Discontents - Sun, 11/15/2015 - 08:10
For Adam Nobody, the answer appears to be 'nowhere.' Last week retired judge Lee Ferrier ruled at a police disciplinary tribunal that Toronto police Const. Babak Andalib-Goortani should lose five days' pay for his brutalization of Nobody, characterizing it as fleeting and physically minor. a strange way indeed to regard Nobody's broken nose and broken cheekbone.

The judge felt that Andalib-Goortani has already "suffered enough."

It is an assessment at odds with Toronto Star readers, a few of whose missives of outrage I reproduce below:
Police officer Babak Andalib-Goortani has essentially had his allowance docked as a punishment for his behaviour during the G20 protests in Toronto. The judge who heard his appeal apparently felt that the man wasn’t really bad, just naughty, “barely over the line of wrongfulness.” After all, he wasn’t the only police officer to wade into crowds after hiding or removing his name badge, and he’s suffered a marriage breakup, mental stress due to his criminal prosecution, and the loss of his home.

None of these hard times, it seems to me, came about because of what he did. They happened because he was caught, and that only if we discount all the other people in the world who suffered the same troubles without the excuse of legal proceedings in their lives.

If all we want from our justice system is punishment for criminals, which is what legal proceedings did determine the man is, then it’s arguable that he has already paid a price. If we want an offender to take responsibility, feel remorse, and genuinely try to address whatever in him lead to his mistake, with the goal of being welcomed back into a supportive community, neither Andalib-Goortani nor the rest of us are served by this judgment.

He has been judged to be a victim of an attempt to hold our police to civilized standards of behaviour. This does no favours to the man himself, our police, or the rest of us.

Jim Maloy, Barrie

Well, I guess it’s official: we live in a police state.

That a police officer, convicted of brutally beating an innocent, passive fellow citizen, should keep his job is utterly unbelievable – that is, assuming that we do live in a “free and democratic society,” as our constitution proclaims.

What’s happened in this case is called police impunity: the right of police officers to do anything they wish, no matter how criminal, with little or no consequence. The text of Judge Ferrier’s ruling could have been read out in Moscow or Beijing without anyone thinking it abnormal.

Because it’s poppy-time, I cannot help asking: Is this the kind of society that our brave soldiers, sailors, and aviators fought and died for?

Steven Spencer, Pickering

Like prosecutor Brendan Van Niejenhuism I was stunned that convicted Andalib-Goortani was simply docked five days pay for his assault with a weapon.

The retired judge assigned to the Police Tribunal, Lee Ferrier, simply confirmed by his irrational and unfair decision that justice is certainly not for all, but that there is one law for the police, and another for the average citizen.

It’s telling that in the 47-paragraph decision, not one line addressed the impact on the victim of the assault or the impact on public confidence in policing, but was devoted entirely to how Andalib-Goortani is a victim because of his assault on Adam Nobody. Too bad he lost his house and marriage because of his criminal actions, he should have lost his badge and his job too, if not sent to jail.
Until the police complaint system is overhauled, and pro-police biased judges are removed from the process, justice is just a catchphrase for unfair, and worthy of nothing but ridicule.

Gerry Young, TorontoRecommend this Post

Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sun, 11/15/2015 - 07:26
This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Robert Reich writes about the growing disconnect between the few well-connected people who have warped our political and economic systems for their benefit, and the rest of us who are on the wrong side of that system:
(C)orporate executives and Wall Street managers and traders have done everything possible to prevent the wages of most workers from rising in tandem with productivity gains, in order that more of the gains go instead towards corporate profits. Public policies that emerged during the 1930s and the Second World War had placed most economic risks squarely on large corporations. But in the wake of the junk bond and takeover mania of the 1980s, economic risks were shifted to workers. Corporate executives did whatever they could to reduce payrolls: outsource abroad, install labour-replacing technologies and use part-time and contract workers.

A new set of laws and regulations facilitated this transformation. Trade agreements, for example, encouraged companies to outsource jobs abroad, while enhancing protections for the intellectual property and financial assets of global corporations. Government budgets that prioritise debt reduction over job creation have undermined the bargaining power of average workers and translated into stagnant or declining wages. Some insecurity has been the result of shredded safety nets and disappearing workforce protections.
Given these changes in the organisation of the market, it is not surprising that corporate profits have increased as a portion of the total United States economy, while wages have declined. Those whose income derives directly or indirectly from profits – corporate executives, Wall Street traders and shareholders – have done exceedingly well. Those dependent primarily on wages have not.

Britain is not as far along the path toward oligarchic capitalism as is America, but it is following the same trail. Markets do not exist without rules. When large corporations, major banks and the very rich gain the most influence over the composition of those rules, markets invariably tilt in their direction – adding to their wealth and their political influence. Unaddressed and unstopped, the vicious cycle compounds itself.- Meanwhile, Brent Patterson notes that even the Globe and Mail is calling for the Libs to put the brakes on the Trans-Pacific Partnership before we sign away even more decision-making authority to the corporate sector.

- Mariana Mazzucato points out that everybody can benefit from an entrepreneurial public sector. And Katie Herzog reports on the massive economic development and job growth we'd expect from a transition to renewable energy.

- Andrew Jackson reminds us that the Libs' much-hyped "middle class tax cut" serves mostly to shuffle money around the top 10% of the income scale, and suggests using any increased revenue to actually help the people who need it most.

- Finally, Andrew Defty examines the causes and effects of reduced party membership in the UK. And David Ball discusses the snowflake organizational model which offers one means of reaching more people than the relatively small number already engaged in politics.

A half-pregnant pause

Trapped In a Whirlpool - Sun, 11/15/2015 - 05:35
It seems the new government is intent on keeping it's promise to end Canada's participation in the IS bombing mission, that's a good thing. A kept promise is usually so.
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Justin Trudeau and the Day the Cons Came Back From the Dead

Montreal Simon - Sun, 11/15/2015 - 05:26

It seems only too tragic that just ten days after being sworn in as Prime Minister after promising to restore our Canadian values, and bring back sunnier days, that Justin Trudeau should be hit by the darkness of the Paris massacre.

Only too ironic that the son of Pierre should have to choose so soon between emotion and reason. 

The deadly terror attacks in Paris will not lead Canada to change course on its two main policies in relation to Syria: welcoming 25,000 refugees this year and ending Canada’s bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria.

And of course only too ghastly that the horrible tragedy in the City of Light should bring the Cons back from the dead.
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Closer To Home Than They Realize

Northern Reflections - Sun, 11/15/2015 - 03:15

It's been surreal to watch and listen to Stephen Harper's former cabinet ministers distance themselves from their boss. Bob Hepburn writes:

Let’s start with Rona Ambrose, the new interim party leader. Without a hint of insincerity, Ambrose insists her caucus will no longer engage in the “nastiness” of the old Harper government and will be more “constructive, effective” in working as the Official Opposition.Also, Ambrose has completely reversed herself on the need for a public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women. For years, the Tories refused to hold an inquiry into what the RCMP says are more than 1,200 cases of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. Now she is all in favour of an inquiry, saying it “is an absolutely non-partisan issue, it should never be political.” 
And then there's Tony Clement, who deep sixed the long form census:
Next is Tony Clement, the former industry minister who cancelled the long-form census of 2011, a move widely denounced inside and outside of government. Clement was relentless in implementing the change, insisting it was needed to protect citizen privacy.Now Clement is expressing regrets, saying in hindsight that “I would have done it differently.”
And, of course, there's Kellie Leitch, who -- academically at least -- is supposed to be very bright:
Then there’s Kellie Leitch, the former labour minister at the centre of one of the lowest points in the Tory campaign. She hit that point when she joined cabinet colleague Chris Alexander in announcing “a snitch hotline” to report “barbaric cultural practices.” In reality, Leitch was urging Canadians to target Muslims in their neighbourhoods.Now Leitch, who apparently dreams of succeeding Harper, says the plan was misunderstood and not communicated very well.
Hepburn writes that the Conservatives must really think voters are stupid. Given the results of the election, and their own pronouncements, it's pretty clear that stupidity is closer to home than the former Harperites realize.


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