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The CBC: The Ethical Slide Continues

Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 01/13/2015 - 05:55

H/t Canadaland

The once-prized principle of journalistic ethics continues its precipitous decline at the CBC. Following last years's timid management response to conflict of interest allegations against chief correspondent and resident sycophant Peter Mansbridge and its sophistic treatment of oil shill/resident crank/climate-change denier Rex Murphy, the Corporation's management is at it again in defending its senior business correspondent, Amanda Lang.

Two days ago, Canadaland reported the following:
Multiple sources within CBC News have revealed to CANADALAND, under condition of anonymity, a shocking campaign Amanda Lang undertook in 2013 to sabotage a major story reported by her colleague, investigative reporter Kathy Tomlinson.The story that Lang tried to block was uncovered by reporter Kathy Tomlinson and her Go Public team. It revealed that the Royal Bank of Canada was
using an outsourcing firm to bring in temporary workers for its Canadian employees to train... in order to sack those Canadian employees and ship their jobs overseas.
Canadaland reports that as CBC journalists across the country were gathering more information to follow up on the story, they were summoned to a conference call with Tomlinson and Amanda Lang:
Lang, they recall, relentlessly pushed to undermine the RBC story. She argued that RBC was in the right, that their outsourcing practices were “business as usual,” and that the story didn’t merit significant coverage. She and a defiant Tomlinson faced off in a tense, extended argument. Two of the CBC employees we spoke to recall a wave of frustrated hang-ups by participants.

“I cannot emphasize enough how wrong it was,” said one CBC employee we spoke to. “That another journalist, not involved in a story, would intervene in the reporting of others and question the integrity of her colleagues like that. I haven’t seen anything like it before or since.”Lang's efforts did not end there, and extended to on-air efforts to undermine the story, as you will see if you read Canadaland's full report.

Canadaland has since learned the apparent reason for Lang's efforts to subvert the story:
CANADALAND can now confirm that CBC Senior Business Correspondent Amanda Lang’s ties to RBC go beyond sponsored speaking events.

Sources close to Amanda Lang, who spoke to CANADALAND on the condition of anonymity, confirm that she has been in a romantic relationship with RBC Board Member W. Geoffrey Beattie since January 2013 at the latest. This relationship is ongoing, and the two were involved in April 2013, when Lang acted within the CBC to scuttle a colleague’s reporting on abuses of Canadian labour law by RBC.Predictably, CBC management is circling the wagons.
CBC News Editor-in-Chief Jennifer McGuire said in a memo to staff Monday that the allegations about business reporter Amanda Lang’s involvement in the story on RBC’s use of temporary foreign workers were “categorically untrue.”End of story. Or so the CBC might wish. But with the kind of fine investigative work being done at Canadaland (they were, in fact, the first to uncover the Jian Ghomeshi accusations), I suspect that this story is far from dead.

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Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 01/13/2015 - 05:51
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Hugh Segal discusses the need for an open and honest conversation about poverty and how to end it. And to better reflect Canadians' continued desire for a more fair society, Roderick Benns makes the case for a basic income as Canada's next major social program.

- Matt Bruenig writes about the U.S.' income inequality as compared to other developed countries- and it's well worth noting that Canada's distribution is only slightly less distorted than the U.S.'.

- Margo McDiarmid reports on the Cons' latest steps to block any evaluation of the environmental damage done by the tar sands. Dennis Gruending rightly points out that environmental activism will be of limited use if it can't influence government policy, as the major challenges we face demand more coordination than citizens alone can muster. And PressProgress notes that Canada is missing the boat when it comes to developing the renewable energy which will power the world in the decades to come.

- Finally, Jennifer Hollett argues that it's long past time to get rid of our embarrassing leaders. And Michael Harris observes that Stephen Harper remains at the top of that list, with his party's "rage over reason" attitude serving as a particularly important basis for concern.

Stephen Harper's Sinister Plan to Kill Our Medicare System

Montreal Simon - Tue, 01/13/2015 - 03:32

Over the years I have written dozens and dozens of posts about the way Stephen Harper is planning to slowly strangle our precious medicare system.

This one being the latest.

And the reason I have is because NOTHING he is doing bothers me more. For it would cause mass misery, and be the end of the Canadian dream.

So I'm really glad to see that people like Linda McQuaig are also raising the alarm. 
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Stephen Harper, Joe Oliver, and the Latest Porky Ad Scandal

Montreal Simon - Tue, 01/13/2015 - 00:27

As you may have noticed, Stephen Harper has stopped bragging about his government's economic record.

Now it's all about the Great War on Terror, and the dangerous jihadis Justin Trudeau and Tom Mulcair.

But then who can blame him?

If I had screwed up the economy like that, I'd also be hiding in a closet.

But sadly that still hasn't stopped him from using OUR money to pump out even more porky ads like this one...

Even if it is totally fraudulent.
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New Harper Stooge Goes After a Veteran's Group

Montreal Simon - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 15:59

Last week I predicted that Erin O'Toole, who replaced Julian Fantino as the Con Minister of Veteran Affairs would turn out to be no better than his predecessor.

Or just another Harper stooge.

And sure enough it hasn't taken long for him to show his true colours.
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"Dirty Secrets From The Man Who Worked For Harper"

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 14:35
This needs to be watched by all Canadians concerned about our country's future. Please circulate widely:

H/t Operation MapleRecommend this Post

Fey and Poehler at Their Best

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 13:10
As a human rights lawyer, she's represented Wikileaks' Julian Assange and former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.  She's served the UN and has investigated both the Egyptian judiciary and the assault on Gaza.  And, after all that and so much more, Amal Clooney gets this:

New Year resolution

Cathie from Canada - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 12:47
Our one-word resolution this year: Clean.
We have had a difficult fall and winter due to dealing with the illness and long term care of a relative, including cleaning out a two-bedroom apartment, and it was even more complicated because we needed to travel to another city to deal with it. But everything is handled now, at last.
As a result of this experience, my husband and I have adopted a firm resolution: we will clean up after ourselves.
We will not leave a tangled mountain of stuff for our kids to have to sort out, clean up, or throw away. Deciding what to do with the furniture and so forth was hard enough, but then came the closets and the shelves and the drawers -- old photos and pictures, mementos of trips that nobody can remember, clothes unworn for twenty years, fabric for projects unstarted, Christmas cards a decade old, chequebooks and statements for accounts long-closed, stacked sets of forgotten linens and towels, dishes and cookware last used before the turn of the century, tchotchkes and geegaws and ornaments of all kinds.
We promise we will never say "but its still good" or "maybe I will use this again someday" or "we can't throw this out until we check with ...." -- any of these are a license to put something back on a shelf and never pick it up again. We are going to get rid of our extra stuff come hell or high water -- come to think of it, high water might be the answer!
And if you are in the habit of opening your mail, perusing the contents, carefully folding everything up again, putting it all back in one of the envelopes, and tucking it away into a drawer -- please STOP!

The Harper Strategy Strikes Again

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 11:47
To which of the myriad Machiavellian Harper strategies do I refer? It's the one that says if you don't like what a group is saying, muzzle them or shut them down.

The Hill Times today reports the following:
Newly-appointed Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O’Toole has informed an advocacy group for wounded and psychologically injured veterans that it is no longer a stakeholder adviser to the Veterans Affairs department.

Mike Blais, who helped launch Canadian Veterans Advocacy in 2011 to advocate for veterans and serving Canadian Forces members who did combat tours in Afghanistan and their families, told The Hill Times that Mr. O’Toole (Durham, Ont.) gave the bad news to the group in a voicemail he left on Mr. Blais’ phone service Jan. 7.Mr. Blais' group, which had been part of a Veterans Affairs Canada Stakeholder Committee established in 2012,
had been one of the most vocal critics of the department’s treatment of injured veterans and Canadian Forces members in the months leading up to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) decision to shuffle former Veterans Affairs minister Julian Fantino (Vaughan, Ont.) out of the post last week, following scathing criticism from Auditor General Michael Ferguson for delays in treatment for veterans.What prompted the termination, which the 'classy' Mr. O'Toole left in a voicemail message to Mr. Blais? Here is what the former said last June in the House:
“As a veteran myself, I have been quite offended by some of the work that group does. It is not sincere. It is not based on sound policy. I understand, at committee, that they have acknowledged that their funding has come from unions”.Setting the record straight, Blais offered the following:
The advocacy group lobbied against government budget plans in 2012 that would have resulted in job losses at Veterans Affairs Canada, he said, after which the union representing the employees provided Canadian Veterans Advocacy a donation of $2,000.

“Every department at that time took a 10-per-cent hit except Veterans Affairs Canada,” Mr. Blais said.

“We worked hard on that and the Union of Veterans Affairs Employees made a donation of $2,000, no strings attached, just a donation to the war chest. There is not tit for tat, no, nothing, right. As a consequence to that, even though it was three years ago and a meagre $2,000, they’ve been attempting to label us,” Mr. Blais said.Julian Fantino may have been replaced as Veterans Affairs minister, but his malignant, vindictive spirit clearly lives on.

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"Wicked and Tragic Events" Do Not a War Make

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 11:17

The first instinct of the chickenhawk is to proclaim the existence of a state of war where none actually exists.  By "chickenhawk" I mean Canada's very own prime ministerial closet croucher, Stephen Harper, who exploited the Paris massacre as proof that radical Muslims are waging war against Canada.

A Canadian who knows a few things about war, Gwynne Dyer, says the Charlie Hebdo attacks were tragic, to be sure, but war?  Not hardly.

This is not a “war of civilizations”. Seventeen innocent people killed in Paris is not the equivalent of the Crusades. For that matter, neither was 9/11. These are wicked and tragic events, but they are not a war.

There is a war going on, but it is a civil war within the “House of Islam” that occasionally spills over into non-Muslim countries. As foot-soldiers in that war, the three killers in Paris probably did not fully understand the role they were playing, but they were serving a quite sophisticated strategy.

Two of these Muslim civil wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq, were ignited by U.S.-led invasions in 2001 and 2003. Four others, in Syria, Libya, Yemen, and the northern, mostly Muslim half of Nigeria, have begun since 2011. Others go back even further, like the war in Somalia, or have flared up and then become dormant again, like Mali and Algeria.

In every one of these wars the victims are overwhelmingly Muslims killed by other Muslims. From time to time non-Muslims in other countries are killed too, as in New York in 2001, in London in 2007, in Bombay in 2008 and last week in Paris, and these killings do have a strategic purpose, but it’s not to “terrify non-Muslims into submission.” Quite the contrary.

The great Muslim civil war is about the political, social, and cultural modernization of the Muslim world. Should it continue down much the same track that other major global cultures have followed, or should those changes be stopped and indeed reversed? The Islamists take the latter position.

Some aspects of modernization are very attractive to many Muslims, so stopping the changes would require a lot of violence, including the overthrow of most existing governments in Muslim countries. But that is the task that the Islamists in general, and the jihadi activists in particular, have undertaken.

As they are minorities even in their own countries, the Islamists’ hardest job is to mobilize popular support for their struggle. The best way to do this is to convince Muslims that modernization—democracy, equality, the whole cultural package—is part of a Western plot to undermine Islam.

This will be a more credible claim if Western countries are actually attacking Muslim countries, so one of the main jihadi strategies is to carry out terrorist atrocities that will trigger Western military attacks on Muslim countries. That was the real goal of 9/11, and it was spectacularly successful: it tricked the United States into invading not one but two Muslim countries.

...There is a sub-theme in some of the Middle Eastern wars that muddies the waters a bit: in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, the general radicalization has also revived and militarized the age-old conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims. But even in these countries most of the killings are of Sunni Muslims by other Sunni Muslims.

There will be more attacks like the ones in Paris, because lost young men seeking a cause abound in every community, including the Muslim communities of the West. We can't arrest them all, so we will go on having to live with a certain amount of terrorism from both Muslim and non-Muslim extremist groups and trying not to over-react—just as we have been doing for many decades already.

Israel's Unanswered Questions

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 10:58

Just like every other US client state (except us, for now), Israel was quick to sign up to buy the Lockheed F-35 light attack bomber.  The Israeli air force inked the papers for 19 of Lockheed's controversial warplanes and then went back to the trough to order another 32.  At this point something quite curious happened. Powerful voices such as the Minister for Intelligence Yuval Steinitz, began asking some very awkward questions.

The opposition's stand was related to Aviation Week by a senior Israeli official:

"For maintaining stealthiness, this aircraft has compromised maneuverability, shorter operational range and significantly less payload capability.  ...We shouldn't be buying so many of them when it is unclear whether the stealth is effective, or there is a countermeasure that would negate it.  There are vast gaps in performance between the [fifth-generation] F-35 and fourth-generation fighters."

As the opposition turned tenacious a deal was brokered that will see Israel's follow-on buy cut from 32 to 13-aircraft.

When the head of Israeli intelligence calls out the F-35 for its compromised maneuverability, meager operational range and limited payload and questions whether its supposed stealth cloaking even remains viable then Canada needs to listen and get some answers before we too leap into the F-35 pit of uncertainty.

Holding Police to Account

Politics and its Discontents - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 06:28

Late last month I wrote a piece for The Paper News examining the nearly impenetrable 'blue wall' that is an ever-present barrier to justice and accountability whenever the police abuse their authority, violate the public's rights, or otherwise brutalize them. One of the cases I wrote about was the disabling beating OPP Sgt. Russell Watson administered to Tonie Farrell, a 48-year-old Orillia ‘Good Samaritan’ whose only 'crime' was to try to help a woman who had been assaulted by three thugs.

The SIU (Special Investigations Unit) did its usual 'stellar' job. It found there were no reasonable grounds to charge the offending officer.

In today's edition of The Star, readers weigh in with their usual penetrating insights. I reproduce a few of them below:

Re: Good Samaritan brutally beaten by OPP officer, Dec. 30
Officer assaults citizen, causes serious, permanent injury. Officer charges citizen with assault and obstruction. SIU investigates officer but lays no charges. Judge dismisses charges against citizen, condemns officer’s actions.

Sadly, this case is not unique; it demonstrates the double standard that exists when the citizen victim of the assault is charged while the police perpetrator suffers no legal or disciplinary consequences. By setting the bar for charging police far too high, the SIU is failing its duty to protect Ontarians from the “bad apples” who perpetuate a culture of violence in police forces across the province.

How many more victims will it take before citizens take to the streets to demand accountability?

M. Goldstein, MississaugaI was appalled to read about OPP Sgt. Russell Watson’s life-shattering assault on Tonie Farrell, and even more appalled to hear that he will face no consequences. This is another in a long line of incidents proving that our police are a law unto themselves.

If they are particularly stupid or their acts particularly egregious, judges may scold them, but the SIU will find there’s no grounds to lay a charge, and their superiors will not even discipline, much less dismiss them. Evidently Watson’s OPP superiors consider punching and kicking women to be all in a day’s work.

When police officers lie under oath, they are not charged with perjury. When they conspire to cover for each other and subvert the course of justice, they are not charged with conspiracy. That “blue wall of silence” seems to reach around the entire justice system.

If an individual’s safety is based on happening not to cross a police officer’s path at the wrong moment (or in the “wrong” skin), we’re in serious trouble. Governments at all levels must take steps to bring police under the rule of law. We cannot trust our justice system or our police if they can break the law with impunity.

Nina Littman-Sharp, TorontoAnd about that curious provision in the law that allows the police to obstruct SIU investigations by refusing to turn over to them their investigation notes:
As I read this article, I became ever more appalled as Tonie Farrell was transformed from Good Samaritan to an abused victim to an accused defendant and then the SIU finding of no wrongdoing. Truly a disgrace.

The most infuriating and confusing aspect of this sorry tale is present in the following passage from the Dec. 30th article: “The SIU conducted a month-long investigation in 2013 and interviewed Watson, but he did not provide his notes, as is his legal right.”

This is a mind-boggling situation. I have never been a police officer nor faced violent danger in my employment. Nonetheless, I have never for one second considered the notes that I took with the pen and paper or computer (supplied by the employer and used during a paid workday) to be my property or facts that I could keep secret.

I worked as a quality assurance manager, and as such I performed investigations into quality issues, and as a member of the joint health and safety committee also conducted investigations on safety incidents. I cannot imagine a circumstance where my refusal to fully co-operate with my co-workers and management supervisors would not result in disciplinary action, which would appear on my HR records and, if there were repeat infractions, result in my dismissal.

My wife and close friends with whom I discussed this issue were similarly confused at learning that the rules appear to allow police officers to withhold information and not fully and completely assist and comply with investigations.

I wish to request the Star to prepare an article to explain to readers like myself the legal logic behind the ability (or “right”) of officers to withhold their field notes. This article should include a complete review of the pros and cons of this “right.” It would be very enlightening to learn of situations where the exercising of this “right” is clearly the correct course of action as well as the flip-side, such as the Farrell vs. Watson case and others like it.

Stan Taylor, BramptonRecommend this Post

It's Come Back To Haunt Us

Northern Reflections - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 06:23

After events such as those in France last week, it's natural for people to feel anger. But when anger turns to rage, and rage spawns ignorance, we are in dangerous territory. In Europe, the parties of the Far Right are counselling ignorance. Michael Harris writes:

The leader of the Front National party, Marine Le Pen, is stoking the view that immigration is an “invasion” — a coinage of her father, the party’s founder, Jean-Marie LePen. Her ‘ban refugees’ message is aped by the leader of the United Kingdom Independent Party of Nigel Farage, and the Dutch Party of Freedom led by Geert Wilders.

Among other things, Le Pen wants to bring back capital punishment to protect what she calls the “countrymen.” Islam, she proclaims, is an evil ideology. Perhaps that’s why her father wanted Muslims expelled before they “took over” France.
Predictably, the Harper Right is also counselling ignorance. Enter Michelle Rempel:

Calling the opposition’s position “deeply ignorant,” (both the NDP and Liberals voted against the latest war in Iraq) Rempel went on to advise total ignorance in dealing with ISIL. Don’t bother trying to understand what happened, just experience the horror of it all. Channel the victims. Rempel’s advocacy comes down to this: kill the evil-doers before they kill us. Where have you heard that before?
Stop, for a minute, and consider where ignorance has got us:

After 13 years of the War on Terror, the Rempel Doctrine has given the world a fractured Iraq never far from civil war, a dysfunctional Afghanistan, chaos in Libya, horrendous civil war in Syria, excruciating pain in Gaza, and radicalized an even more vicious strain of fundamentalism that is so bad that it makes Al Qaida look moderate.
That ignorance is most evident in our refusal to consider history and the context that it provides. Eric Margolis, Harris writes, provides both history and context:

Starting with the premise that absolutely nothing justifies the savagery that took place in Paris last week – (and let me stress those words “absolutely nothing”), Margolis educates rather than incites. He points out that France has emerged as one of the most active interveners in the Muslim world, with military operations in Libya, Mali, Ivory Coast, Central African Republic, Djibouti, Abu Dhabi, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

And behind all that, there is of course the bloody legacy of Algeria, where liberation fighters were tortured by electro-shock occasionally with the assistance of psychiatrists. The French military presence has been so pervasive, Margolis points out that critics have accused the country of a new era of Mideast and African colonialism.
The old adage what goes around comes around applies now as it has always applied. Our problem is that we have forgotten what we sent around the first time. And we fail to understand why it has come back to haunt us.

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 05:35
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Stephen Burgen reports on Thomas Piketty's view that it's long past time for voters to have anti-austerity options where none existed in the past. And along similar lines, Murray Dobbin sets out the stark choice facing Canadians:
Canadians will have to continue to watch their Scandinavian neighbours use the wheel and prosper while we remain captives to the free market priesthood. Norway is the logical choice of neighbour to compare ourselves to, if you can stomach it. In Canada we have virtually given away our energy heritage through criminally low royalty rates over a period of some 70 years. Norway bargained hard with oil companies to develop its relatively newfound resource -- and kept ownership of it. The result, as reported in The Tyee last year, is a heritage fund of (as of a year ago) $909,364 billion (Canadian). That puts tiny Norway $1.5 trillion ahead of us and while each Canadian has a $17,000 share of our $600 billion debt national debt, each Norwegian has a $178,000 stake in their surplus. Norway puts aside a billion dollars a week from its oil resource.

But all that oil money aside (literally), Norway actually funds its government services through taxes which its citizens gladly pay. And why not? As Mitch Andersen reported, "Norwegians enjoy universal day care, free university tuition, per capita spending on health care 30 per cent higher than Canada and 25 days of paid vacation every year." We, on the other hand, live in a country where a third of citizens believe in Harper's fiscal self-flagellation, in an extremist religion that calls upon us all to deliberately impoverish ourselves. Hallelujah.- Meanwhile, Carol Goar notes that we could build a stronger society by ensuring that the wealthiest among us pay their fair share:
For decades there have been sporadic calls from economists, think-tanks and opposition MPs to jack up tax rates for the privileged elite. The response of the finance department is best captured by a 1985 remark from then finance minister Michael Wilson. “Canada has an acute shortage of rich people,” he told the Canadian Economics Association, dismissing the budgetary impact as negligible.

That mindset prevailed through five Conservative and Liberal governments although no politician has expressed it as bluntly as Wilson. It still holds sway, despite a dramatic widening of the gap between rich and poor; a proliferation of self-styled “supermanagers” who rake in 170 times as much as the average worker; and a deepening sense of injustice among young people, victims of corporate cost-cutting, struggling wage earners and worried middle-class families.

It is true, as Wilson observed, that imposing higher taxes on the ultra-rich wouldn’t produce a fiscal bonanza. But it would slow the growth of inequality, ensure high-income earners pay their share of the cost of running the country and give the stalled majority a stake in Canada’s economic success. It would also bring Canada’s tax code into the 21st century. When the current rules were enacted, a salary of $137,000 put an individual in the economic stratosphere. Stock options were unheard of. The distribution of wealth was relatively stable.

None of those assumptions pertain to today’s socio-economic landscape. - Keith Reynolds discusses another scathing report on P3s - this time from British Columbia, where a provincial cheerleading agency has regularly avoided considering publicly-owned options in order to make privatization look palatable.

- Aurin Squire notes that many in New York are far better off as a result of police refusing to enforce "quality of life" offences.

- Finally, Lana Payne comments on the broken relationship between the Harper Cons and the veterans who were used as political props for so long. And Tim Naumetz reports that a minor cabinet shuffle has done nothing to change the Cons' preference for silencing veterans rather than listening to them.

Stephen Harper, the Terrorist Menace, and the Web of Deception

Montreal Simon - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 04:27

One thing I learned long ago is that if you want to know what Stephen Harper is really up to, you can't just cover one story and move on, like so many other bloggers like to do.

You have to put them all together like a jig saw puzzle, or the strands of a monstrous spider's web, to understand what sinister plan he is stealthily spinning.

Understand for example, that in the case of the Great Terrorist Menace that he is trying to whip up to try to scare Canadians into voting for him, he is spinning a giant web of DECEPTION.
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