Posts from our progressive community

Impeach the Prime Minister

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 02/21/2015 - 17:15
Stephen Harper has lost the right to govern Canada.  He has deliberately exposed the country to great peril and left the nation and our people vulnerable to war and terror at a time of grave and looming dangers.

Allow me to explain.

ISIS and Putin, keep those two in your mind.

We're told that Vlad Putin presents an immediate and 'existential' threat to NATO.  That we believe it is apparent in our prime minister's decision to send the standard six-pack of CF-18 fighters to defend the airspace of the Baltic States, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.  We're there with armed fighters on a war footing.  Threat One.

Canada is also confronting Putin over Ukraine.  We've levied sanctions against the Russians.  We've provided aid and non-lethal military equipment to the Kiev government.  We're considering requests for weapons supposedly needed to keep the pro-Russian rebels at bay.  Many observers believe NATO may be on the cusp of a shooting war with Russia, our first peer-on-peer war since we fought the Chinese in Korea.  Threat Two.

Having given up on defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan, Canada is in a shooting (okay, bombing) war against ISIS in Iraq.  Again the now ubiquitous six-pack of CF-18s. Today the newly minted DefMin/seminarian Jason Kenney says Canada will consider taking the fight to ISIS in Syria and Libya.  We would need a lot more than two more six-packs for those gigs.  Threat Three and potential Threats Four and Five.

Putin is now quite fond of sending Russian bombers to cruise the perimeter of NATO airspace, including Canada's far north.  Make that Threat Six.

Putin is also getting pretty aggressive with his submarines, intruding into Swedish coastal waters and twice getting boats up to the approaches of Britain's submarine base at Faslane, Scotland.  How long will it be before we sight one of Russia's subs in Canadian waters, especially our vast, marginally undefended Arctic waters?  Threat Seven.

By the governments own contention, we're staring at serious threats up the wazoo.  We're not even talking China or North Korea.

With all these threats stacking up and growing, what is this government's focus? It's on balancing the budget in time for the 2015 election.  We're in a state of war, and a Cold War, and in what could become the mother of all peer wars, and our government wants to focus on balancing its budget.

The budget priority could be defensible if Canada had its military in good order to meet all these threats.  However the prime minister has gutted the defence budget.  In terms of GDP, Harper's defence budget is half what we had under Pierre Trudeau.

We have the longest coastline of any nation yet our navy is at its weakest since before WWII.  We can't send a task force to defend any of our three coasts because we don't have functioning provisioning ships nor do we have air defence destroyers to protect a fleet against the sophisticated threat that Russia could present.  Our submarines?  Best we leave that for another day.

Our CF-18s are exceedingly long in the tooth.  What remains of the considerable force Pierre Trudeau bought for Canada is not up to the tasks that we might have for it at home and abroad.  There's a reason why we send six-packs of CF-18s to the Baltics and Kuwait.  We'd love to send a squadron but we can't.

So, we've got a navy so neglected that it can't deploy a task force.  We've got an air force that has to send fighters in penny packets.  The army?  Much of their kit is worn out from our adventure in Kandahar and money isn't exactly pouring out of Harper's treasury to make good their needs either.

Stephen Harper is counting on the gullible segment of the population to return him to power out of fear of the Russian and Islamist threats.  He's also counting on them not to realize how much he's done to leave Canada unequipped and unprepared to defend against these threats.

Stephen Harper will kick the defence of Canada and the security of the Canadian people into the gutter before he'll give up on balancing the budget for the next election.

No one knows where this Putin business is heading but even the best informed observers won't rule out an inadvertent war with Russia.  That's where we're at today and yet we have a government obsessed with defunding our military and sapping what remains of our ability to defend our country.

Now you might think the opposition, staring at an election, knowing that Harper is going to gin up these threats to terrify the gullible into voting for him, would be beating Harper over the head with this like a Newfie on a baby harp seal but you would be wrong.  Trudeau and Mulcair - the best thing Harper has going for him.

Ralph Nader On Harper's Politics Of Fear

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 02/21/2015 - 12:09

The following is a letter that the iconic American activist Ralph Nader has written to Stephen Harper regarding his 'war on terror.' Following the letter is a video of an interview Evan Solomon had with him. As you will see, there is little doubt that Nader views Harper's exploitation of fear as decidedly unCanadian.
Many Americans love Canada and the specific benefits that have come to our country from our northern neighbour’s many achievements (see Canada Firsts by Nader, Conacher and Milleron). Unfortunately, your latest proposed legislation — the new anti-terrorism act — is being described by leading Canadian civil liberties scholars as hazardous to Canadian democracy.

A central criticism was ably summarized in a February 2015 Globe and Mail editorial titled “Parliament Must Reject Harper’s Secret Policeman Bill,” to wit:

“Prime Minister Stephen Harper never tires of telling Canadians that we are at war with the Islamic State. Under the cloud of fear produced by his repeated hyperbole about the scope and nature of the threat, he now wants to turn our domestic spy agency into something that looks disturbingly like a secret police force.

“Canadians should not be willing to accept such an obvious threat to their basic liberties. Our existing laws and our society are strong enough to stand up to the threat of terrorism without compromising our values.”

Particularly noticeable in your announcement were your exaggerated expressions that exceed the paranoia of Washington’s chief attack dog, former vice-president Dick Cheney. Mr. Cheney periodically surfaces to update his pathological war mongering oblivious to facts — past and present — including his criminal war of aggression which devastated Iraq — a country that never threatened the U.S.

You are quoted as saying that “jihadi terrorism is one of the most dangerous enemies our world has ever faced” as a predicate for your gross overreaction that “violent jihadism seeks to destroy” Canadian “rights.” Really? Pray tell, which rights rooted in Canadian law are “jihadis” fighting in the Middle East to obliterate? You talk like George W. Bush.
How does “jihadism” match up with the lives of tens of millions of innocent civilians, destroyed since 1900 by state terrorism — west and east, north and south — or the continuing efforts seeking to seize or occupy territory?

Reading your apoplectic oratory reminds one of the prior history of your country as one of the world’s peacekeepers from the inspiration of Lester Pearson to the United Nations. That noble pursuit has been replaced by deploying Canadian soldiers in the belligerent service of the American Empire and its boomeranging wars, invasions and attacks that violate our constitution, statutes and international treaties to which both our countries are signatories.

What has all this post-9/11 loss of American life plus injuries and sickness, in addition to trillions of American tax dollars, accomplished? Has it led to the stability of those nations invaded or attacked by the U.S. and its reluctant western “allies”? Just the opposite, the colossal blowback evidenced by the metastasis of Al Qaeda’s offshoots and similar new groups like the self-styled Islamic State are now proliferating in and threatening over a dozen countries.

Have you digested what is happening in Iraq and why prime minister Jean Chrétien said no to Washington? Or now chaotic Libya, which like Iraq never had any presence of Al Qaeda before the U.S.’s destabilizing military attacks? (See the New York Times’ editorial on Feb. 15, 2015, titled “What Libya’s Unraveling Means”.)

Perhaps you will find a former veteran CIA station chief in Islamabad, Pakistan, Robert L. Grenier more credible. Writing in his just released book, 88 Days to Kandahar: A CIA Diary, he sums up U.S. government policy this way: “Our current abandonment of Afghanistan is the product of a . . . colossal overreach, from 2005 onwards.” He writes, “in the process we overwhelmed a primitive country, with a largely illiterate population, a tiny agrarian economy, a tribal social structure and nascent national institutions. We triggered massive corruption through our profligacy; convinced a substantial number of Afghans that we were, in fact, occupiers and facilitated the resurgence of the Taliban” (Alissa J. Rubin, Robert L. Grenier’s ‘88 Days to Kandahar,’ New York Times, Feb. 15, 2015).

You may recall George W. Bush’s White House counterterrorism czar, Richard Clarke, who wrote in his 2004 book, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror — What Really Happened, “It was as if Osama bin Laden, hidden in some high mountain redoubt, were engaging in long-range mind control of George Bush, chanting, ‘Invade Iraq, you must invade Iraq.’”

Mr. Bush committed sociocide against that country’s 27 million people. Over one million innocent Iraqi civilians lost their lives, in addition to millions sick and injured. Refugees have reached five million and growing. He destroyed critical public services and sparked sectarian massacres — massive war crimes, which in turn produce ever-expanding blowbacks.

Canadians might be most concerned about your increased dictatorial policies and practices, as well as this bill’s provision for secret law and courts in the name of fighting terrorism — too vaguely defined. Study what comparable practices have done to the United States — a course that you seem to be mimicking, including the militarization of police forces (see The Walrus, December 2014).

If passed, this act, piled on already stringent legal authority, will expand your national security bureaucracies and their jurisdictional disputes, further encourage dragnet snooping and roundups, fuel fear and suspicion among law-abiding Canadians, stifle free speech and civic action and drain billions of dollars from being used for the necessities of Canadian society. This is not hypothetical. Along with an already frayed social safety net, once the envy of the world, you almost got away with a $30-billion purchase of unneeded costly F-35s (including maintenance) to bail out the failing budget-busting F-35 project in Washington.

You may think that Canadians will fall prey to a politics of fear before an election. But you may be misreading the extent to which Canadians will allow the attachment of their Maple Leaf to the aggressive talons of a hijacked American Eagle.

Canada could be a model for independence against the backdrop of bankrupt American military adventures steeped in big business profits . . . a model that might help both nations restore their better angels.

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Bangin' that Old War Drum, Again.

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 02/21/2015 - 09:57
Maybe it's because they're still smarting from getting their asses handed to them in Iraq and Afghanistan, maybe not.  Either way it's getting a bit embarrassing listening to Western military leaders banging the war drums over Russia.

NATO, especially, is sounding the alarm of an all-out shooting war with the Kremlin.  The Russians fly their bombers were we don't want to see them, that's a provocation, a threat, even if they're well inside international airspace.  The Russians send their subs into our territorial waters.  We can't find them anyway.

Now Britain's top general in NATO, Adrian Bradshaw, is warning that Russia poses an "existential threat to our whole being."

Gen Sir Adrian Bradshaw, deputy commander of Nato forces in Europe, said there was a danger Vladimir Putin could try to use his armies to invade and seize Nato territory, after calculating the alliance would be too afraid of escalating violence to respond.

His comments follow a clash between London and Moscow after the Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, said there wasa "real and present danger" Mr Putin could try to destabilise the Baltic states with a campaign of subversion and irregular warfare.

The Kremlin called those comments “absolutely unacceptable".

Sir Adrian, one of the most senior generals in the British Army and a former director of special forces, went further and said there was also danger that Russia could use conventional forces and Soviet-era brinkmanship to seize Nato territory.

He said Russia had shown last year it could generate large conventional forces at short notice for snap exercises along its borders. There was a danger these could be used “not only for intimidation and coercion but potentially to seize Nato territory, after which the threat of escalation might be used to prevent re-establishment of territorial integrity. This use of so called escalation dominance was of course a classic Soviet technique.”

Curious, ain't it?  We drive NATO's military presence right up to Russia's borders and then get offended when Russia shows that it can "generate large conventional forces at short notice for snap exercises along its borders."  What would any country want to do if a powerful adversary showed up on its borders?
This may sound like so much hot air but the path of Cold War is heavily influenced by the parties' confidence.  If one side is relatively confident it's safe from hostilities from the other side, tensions abate.  That confidence is pretty fragile and can be readily, perhaps even irrevocably, undermined by provocative actions and pronouncements from the adversary, statements just like Sir Adrian's.
It's not that Vlad Putin isn't a dangerous thug.  He's all that and more.  It's just that a shooting war with Russia, of the very sort these NATO leaders are so quick to envision, could well be the end of everything and everyone, possibly even yourself.

Update - gasp.  Is general Adrian making the rounds of some German online dating site?

Saturday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 02/21/2015 - 09:38
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Danyaal Raza highlights how Canadians can treat an election year as an opportunity to discuss the a focus on social health with candidates and peers alike:
Health providers are increasingly recognizing that while a robust health care system is an important part of promoting Canadians’ health, so is the availability of affordable housing, decent work, and a tightly knit social safety net. Upstream-focused clinical interventions, like the income security program available where I practice, are increasingly meeting that need – but no such program works in a vacuum.
Thinking differently requires speaking differently. Each of the presenters shared meaningful stories of their own experiences and stories of the impact of the social determinants of health on the lives of patients they’ve cared for during their careers. From this ‘SDOHrytelling’ to advocating trading the GDP for a measurement of greater meaning like the Canadian Index of Wellbeing, reframing public discourse is an act of social change.
As Canadians head into a federal election year, we need to put this perspective into practice. Upstream thinking and action on the social determinants of health should not be a single election issue. Rather, this should be the lens we apply to the promises and platforms of all parties, as we ask the key question “what is your plan to improve the health and wellbeing of the people of this country?” That is the standard by which any prospective leader should be judged, and when they are it will empower them to work with Canadians to build a truly healthy society.  - Meanwhile, Janelle Vandergriff rightly argues that it's time to shift from talk to action in eliminating poverty. Bryce Covert notes that care workers are particularly likely to face precarious job conditions and low wages. And Keith Naughton, Lynn Doan and Jeffrey Green write that the labour movement may be poised for a significant comeback in the U.S., while Joanna Mack discusses the connection between union strength and greater equality.

- But of course, any effort to actually improve the lives of the non-elite is bound to meet well-financed (if untrustworthy) opposition. On that front, Andrew Jackson slams the Cons' bluster about balanced budgets as being destructive to responsible fiscal management. And Lana Payne points out that the corporate lobby is only increasing its attacks on unions even as the disastrous effects of disempowering workers become obvious:
The global lobby against workers’ rights is among the fiercest and best financed. And it has reached a fever pitch, including an assault by employers at the International Labour Organization (ILO) against the right to strike. Corporate power and employer organizations have had a good friend in right-wing governments (and some not so right-wing) around the world. It is no coincidence that the attack on workers’ rights and freedoms, such as the right to join a union and to fair and free collective bargaining, have gone hand in hand with unparalleled growth in inequality. Unions, organized labour, remain the single greatest counterbalance to corporate power. Simply, they force wealth to be shared. No country on the planet has achieved shared prosperity without strong unions and decent collective bargaining coverage for workers.

A 2012 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report looking at the growth in income inequality concluded: “arrangements that strengthen trade unions also tend to reduce labour earnings inequality by ensuring a more equal distribution of earnings.”

This is important for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is inequality hampers economic growth (even the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank now agree) and damages civil engagement and democracy.- Doug Cuthand examines the tragic fires at Makwa Sahgaiehcan and other reserves as just the latest examples of how chronic underfunding and neglect affect First Nations.

- Finally, Stephen Maher comments on the ugly, bigoted campaign the Cons are planning to run in order to cling to power, while Andrew Coyne notes that Stephen Harper's eliminationist rhetoric only serves to make Canadians less safe. And Ralph Surette discusses how the Cons' work to terrorize Canadians fits into their broader focus on electoral propaganda over good governance - and how there's plenty of work to do in countering it.

You'll Need More Than a Six-Pack for That Job.

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 02/21/2015 - 09:09
Well, that was the idea anyway.
Brace yourselves.  In a move that could send chills down the spine of every member of ISIS, it's been revealed that Canada is 'considering' expanding its war effort to Syria and, gasp, Libya too.

Libya?  That's that place that Gaddafi guy used to run.  We bombed the hell out of him three or four years ago.  It was "mission accomplished" all around.  We even had a victory flypast over Ottawa brought to you by the ever-triumphalist Harper government.

I know we won because Steve and Mrs. Steve and Peter MacKay and that Army guy and Steve's ceremonial valet all gathered on the front steps of the Centre Block to bask in the glory of our great victory.

Except it turns out that the Canadian Armed Forces, under Steve's management, proclaim victory a lot more than they achieve it.  But how were they to know that, by dragging out the air war in Libya by a staggering 161-days, they would leave the place in a state of chaos just perfect for al Qaeda and, eventually, ISIS to get established in North Africa.

So now we're tossing the idea around of another grand victory in Libya, Syria too, in an expansion of "our" war against ISIS.  I know because our newly minted Defence Minister, the oh so martial Jason Kenny, said as much to CBC's Evan Soloman.

Not only that but our Closet Clausewitz says there's 2,000 other countries ready to stand up with us.

"Obviously there are practical limits to our ability to operate around the world, but we will look at our options to see where we can have the most impact, where we're most needed," he said. "That requires ongoing consultation with our allies. We don't just decide these things unilaterally."

"Obviously we're in Iraq at the invitation of that government in a mission of, I think, over 2,000 countries being coordinated by the United States. If we can help meaningfully in the fight against ISIL elsewhere we'll give that consideration," the minister said.

Jason, this one is for the luxury lawn furniture set and the Caribbean cruise. Name 500 of those 2,000 countries and their capitals. (psst - don't tell Wiki.  they think there's only 206 countries, the damned fools.)

Yes, Jason, you hit it on the head when you pointed out that, "there are practical limits to our ability to operate around the world."  Your government has slashed our defence budget to levels not seen in generations.  You have given Canada a navy smaller than at any time since prior to WWII.  Our aircraft and helicopters are old and worn out.  When we do go to defend the Baltics or bring the Hammers of Hell down on the heads of ISIS, we send a paltry six-pack of CF-18s because it's all we can afford. There are practical limits and your government's neglect has been setting most of them.

Burning question

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 02/21/2015 - 08:26
C-51, the Cons' terror bill, allows CSIS to covertly intrude on personal freedoms in two obvious ways.

First, it enables CSIS effectively unfettered authority - without a warrant - to engage in any action which is not contrary to the Charter or other Canadian law, and which does not:
(a) cause, intentionally or by criminal negligence, death or bodily harm to an individual;
(b) wilfully attempt in any manner to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice; or
(c) violate the sexual integrity of an individual. Second, it enables CSIS - with a warrant - to violate the Charter and other Canadian laws, including to "install, maintain or remove any thing".

With that in mind, would the responsible gun owners who have fought so hard even against the mere registration of firearms consider it desirable for CSIS to have the general power to remove, install tracking devices on or tamper with their firearms, especially if (as seems possible) that can be done without a warrant?

So Let It Be Written. So Let It Be Done

Northern Reflections - Sat, 02/21/2015 - 07:14


Stephen Harper hasn't shown up to debate Bill C-51. He just announced it at a campaign rally. And he's letting Joe Oliver do the talking about the economy. Heading into a meeting of finance ministers last week, Oliver declared:

Our Government’s sound economic management and unwavering commitment to balance the budget this year — while creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canadians — has resulted in a resilient economic performance in a challenging global economy. 
But, given the facts, what Oliver has been saying is pure gibberish. Scott Clark and Peter DeVries write:

This government has adopted an austerity-led growth strategy. We got the austerity — we just didn’t get the growth. Annual economic growth has fallen in every single year since 2010. Forecasters, including the Bank of Canada, are lowering their growth forecasts for 2015 to below 2 per cent, a far cry from the almost 2.5 per cent they were forecasting only a few months ago. The Canadian economy is in a deep freeze, and the only thing Oliver and Prime Minister Harper can think to do is more of what they’ve done: cut spending.

The drop in oil prices has forced economists to revise down their outlook for inflation. Nominal GDP — the broadest base for calculating government revenue — is now expected to be significantly lower than the earlier forecast. In the November 214 Fiscal Update, Oliver forecast nominal GDP growth at 3.7 per cent for 2015. Now, most private sector economists expect it to be around 2 per cent. This will result in much lower federal revenues going forward.Oliver says the government has an “unwavering commitment to balance the budget.” Trust us — absolutely no one in a position to know believes that Oliver can do it without some budgetary voodoo.
Apparently, Mr. Harper believes he is the New Pharaoh. Facts like these simply don't matter:

The unemployment rate is stuck between 6.5 and 7 per cent. The labour force participation rate is at its lowest level since 2002. In January, the increase in employment was due primarily to part-time and self-employment. Full-time employment actually fell. And we can expect things to get worse in the coming months, as we begin to see the direct impact of falling oil prices on employment.
Last year, the G20 agreed to boost spending on infrastructure "to raise global GDP by 2.1 per cent by 2018." But Oliver insists that balancing the budget comes first.

So let it be written. So let it be done.

Stephen Harper and the Big Freeze

Montreal Simon - Sat, 02/21/2015 - 04:59

His icy contempt for Parliament couldn't be more obvious.

Despite hailing new anti-terror legislation as fundamental to the fight against “the most dangerous enemies our world has ever faced,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper did not attend either of two days of debate on the bill in the House of Commons this week.

Or maybe he's just confident he's done enough for now to scare Canadians into supporting his fascist bill. 

Because he knows Tom Mulcair can't stop him...

Patrick Corrigan/Toronto Star

No matter how bravely he tries.

But what must be driving Stephen Harper crazy or crazier, is that his monstrous march to a another bloody majority, appears to be stalled, or in a deep freeze.
Read more »

The Truly Pitiful Latest Misadventure of Ezra Levant

Montreal Simon - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 23:00

Well you've got to give Ezra Levant credit. It's only been a week since his ghastly TV show, and the entire Sun News Network, went down the toilet.

Glug. Glug. Glug.

But already he's back on the air again. 

Or at least living under this rock. 
Read more »

Stephen Harper and the Child Pornographers

Montreal Simon - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 19:35

As I'm sure you know, Stephen Harper likes to pose as a great friend of children, or a Great Mother Leader.

When he's not posing as a Great Warrior Leader.

And fighting child pornographers has always been a big part of the Con political platform...

But sadly like so many other Con promises or threats, there's the ugly rhetoric and then there's the ugly reality. 
Read more »

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 16:43
Seabound - Everything

Elisa Hategan Comments on Danger of Giving More Power to CSIS

Anti-Racist Canada - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 13:23
We posted an article on the blog earlier this month where we suggested that government legislation that would provide CSIS more powers wasn't in the best interests of the Canadian people. We based that conclusion on the role CSIS and their mole Grant Bristow played during the early years of the Heritage Front. It was during the years that Bristow was involved (1989 - 1994) that the Heritage Front was at it's most dangerous.

We later received the following comment:

Personally, I don't think that Heritage Front has anything to do with CSIS. The Heritage Front was a Canadian neo-Nazi,white supremacist organization founded in 1989 and disbanded around 2005.

That isn't an entirely accurate sentiment unfortunately, and Ms. Hategan goes into a great deal of detail outlining the role CSIS played in the first five years of the Heritage Front. We'll provide the link to Ms. Hategan's here and at the end of our part of the article. First, we need to make the following points:

Read more »

Harperian Hypocrisy: The Family Values Regime Disappoints Yet Again

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 13:02
While the Harper regime always touts itself as a government that stands up for family vlaues, evidence once more indicates this is little more than rhetoric and rank hypocrisy, aided and abetted by an almost completely politicized RCMP.

The CBC reports
RCMP have been holding back millions of dollars from the force's vaunted program to fight online child pornography, partly to help the Harper government pay down the federal deficit. CBC News has learned that over a five-year period, Canada's national police force Mounties withheld some $10 million in funds earmarked for its National Child Exploitation Co-ordination Centre and related projects, linchpins of the government's anti-child-pornography agenda.

The cuts, made partly as an RCMP contribution to the government's so-called deficit reduction action plan, have occurred even as the number of child-exploitation tips from the public increase exponentially.

The systematic underfunding is highlighted in a draft report prepared for Public Safety Canada, and obtained through the Access to Information Act.For its part, the Harper regime denies that the underexpenditures have anything to do with fiscal matters; it's just that the force can't find good people to do the job.

Really? And this problem goes back to 2008? Past evidence suggests that explanation simply won't fly.

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More Harper Lies

Dammit Janet - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 11:09
DAMMIT JANET! should have been doing this on a weekly, if not daily basis since Harper took power.

Since 2006, his regime has perfected the art of ideological spin to an artistic apex that surely has Goebbels clapping wildly in his grave.  Here's one wrap-up of obfuscations deployed by his thousands of communications flunkeys.

Remember Vic Toews' _line in the sand_ ...?

Boy, that sure was some hugely volatile speaking point, charged with insinuations that had previously worked momentarily for Harper in the 2005 election campaign.

Only it backfired again, this time with a MASSIVE pushback.

Here's the reality with regard to the Cons' disingenuous, desperate tactic.  It turns out that Harper's government isn't really all that committed to providing the RCMP with adequate resources to investigate, gather evidence, charge child pornographers and bring them to trial.

In fact, Harper and the RCMP dropped the ball as soon as it was evident that their regime could pursue other avenues for spying upon, harassing and destroying organizations and the lives of people who didn't agree with them, or openly opposed their policies as is allowed in a democratic country.

The CRA has been directed by Harper to audit specific organizations. The RCMP has been told to focus on First Nations, Métis and Indigenous resistance movement and its leaders, as well as environmentalists.  CSIS will be empowered to disregard constitutional rights as it spies on those identified as *terrorists* by Harper and MacKay.

And now, it appears that Harper/Kenney monstrosity, the _Monument to Victims of Communism_ might allow Nazis and Third Reich officials to be remembered, since the figures cited include these people.
[...]memory squares will be embedded in a series of ascending folded concrete rows, rising 14.5 metres at their highest point. Visitors will be able to walk among the rows and touch the memory squares to “viscerally experience the overwhelming scale of the Communist atrocities,” says the winning team’s statement of design intent.
At Thursday’s announcement, Kapusta referenced Josef Stalin’s infamous statement that “one death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.”As our friend Jay Watts III notes:

He also raises these valid points.

For the modest sum of $1000, folks who admire the work of Wilhelm Kube could have his name inscribed on one of the Memory Squares.  He is one of those "victim of Communism"... included in the statistics deployed by the Harper Cons.

The Contempt of Harper Conservative Reformists: enabling child pornographers, glorifying fascists and eventually jailing Canadians who disagree with them.

If things continue his way, Harper will be remembered for human rights abuses as egregious as those of Joseph Stalin or Robert Mugabe.

It's Baaaack: Unborn Victims Bill, C484

Dammit Janet - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 10:09
Here we go again. Another brutal murder of a pregnant woman and people are again braying for vengeance.

Firefighters discovered [Cassandra] Kaake’s body Dec. 11 after she was murdered and mutilated. Kaake, 31, was seven months pregnant. She planned to call the baby Molly.

Police said Kaake died from blood loss caused by severe trauma. The killer also allegedly torched Kaake’s Benjamin Avenue home with her body inside.

Matthew Brush, 26, from LaSalle, is charged with break and enter, arson causing property damage, possession of incendiary material for arson, arson with disregard for human life, first-degree murder and indecent interference with a dead body.If found guilty, I think it's pretty safe to say that this fella will have the book thrown at him, including a very harsh sentence based on Canada's sensible notion of aggravating circumstances.

From a 2007 Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada Position Paper on "Fetal Homicide" Law (pdf):
In Canada, the judicial system routinely takes aggravating circumstances into account. In the case of an assault or murder of a pregnant woman, even though a third party cannot be charged separately with harm to the fetus, prosecutors may recommend more serious charges (such as first degree murder or aggravated assault), judges may impose harsher penalties, and parole boards may deny parole to convicted perpetrators.

Perhaps we want a new law that codifies such practices. Thirteen U.S. states have laws that simply apply stiffer punishments for murdering a pregnant woman, but do not make the death of the fetus a separate crime. Such a solution would avoid the controversy about giving rights to fetuses or interfering with abortion rights, and would ensure that women do not lose their rights while they are pregnant.No doubt this has been explained to the grieving family and friends, but is apparently not enough. A woman named Kim Badour started a petition to bring back Ken Epp's ill-fated private member's bill, C484.
The bill would have made it a criminal offence to cause harm to an unborn child during a crime against the mother. It passed second reading in the House of Commons but was later dropped. Badour wants to bring it back.As the ARCC quote indicates, there are tons of problems with "fetal homicide" laws, however well-intentioned they are. (We do not believe that Epp and other fetus freaks were well-intentioned. We believe they were and are crass anti-choicers preying on the grief and outrage of bereaved families in order to bring in anti-abortion legislation by the infamous back door.)

So what does Official Fetus Freakdom have to say?

Perhaps surprisingly, it is quite clear-eyed and balanced (!!!!) in its response. First the obligatory whine.

[Mary-Ellen]Douglas [spokesperson for Campaign Life Coalition] hopes a pro-life MP will take up Bill C-484 but doesn’t give it much chance of passage. “Harper stopped it the first time,” she said, and there is no reason to believe he won’t do the same again.
But next, a pretty straight account of the other side.
The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) opposed Bill C-484 then and still does, seeing it as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. While it appeals to all concerned about violence against women, according to ARCC, it really targets women’s “reproductive rights.” ARCC’s Joyce Arthur told LifeSiteNews that 38 U.S. states (and the U.S. federal government) have passed unborn victims laws or other “fetal personhood” measures that have “resulted in hundreds of pregnant women with wanted pregnancies being arrested or prosecuted, or subjected to forced interventions, for behavior perceived as potentially harmful to the fetus.”

Arthur cites a study titled Arrests of and Forced Interventions on Pregnant Women in the United States, 1973–2005: Implications for Women’s Legal Status and Public Health, and further studies by the same researchers, Lynn Paltrow and Jeanne Flavin. They count 780 instances since 1973 (380 of them since 2005) of women jailed or institutionalized by the courts either to get them off drugs during their “wanted” pregnancy or on suspicion they deliberately caused themselves to miscarry, but sometimes when women merely resisted doctors’ wishes that they deliver by caesarean section. 

None of the laws used were intended to jail pregnant women, the researchers report, and about 10 percent of the arrests fell under unborn victims of crime laws.The piece ends with another obligatory whining flourish.
Mary Ellen Douglas countered, however: “Joyce Arthur and her crowd will do anything to avoid talking about the 4 million unborn children that have been legally aborted in Canada. They can’t face that reality.”Here's a link to the executive summary of the study Arthur cites. It is a chilling documentation of the criminalization of pregnancy in the US, resulting in arrests, trials, and imprisonment of mostly poor, vulnerable women.

Two recent examples show the gross injustice these laws enable, both cases targetting women of colour: Purvi Patel and Bei Bei Shuai.

But however tragic these cases are -- whether they involve murder, spousal abuse, sustance abuse, or mental health issues -- there will always be the opportunists.

Like Mike Schouten of We Need a Law (Like a Hole in the Head).

It is particularly rich that Schouten with his astroturf organization -- set up by Dominionist Association for Reformed Political Action to jump on "gendercide", or the alleged MASSIVE phenom in "certain" communities of aborting female fetuses -- would attach itself to a proposed law that would target poor, vulnerable women like Patel and Shuai.

Ah well, "gendercide," "fetal homicide," criminalized pregnancies, grieving families, targetted "communities" -- what does it matter to people on a Mission from Gawd?

Here's our Minister of National Defense at ARPA's "God & Government 2014" bunfest.

(Yes, I realize that photo is irrelevant, but I like it.)

This is Canada. Of Course We Live In a Democracy. Right? Think Again.

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 10:06

Do you know the difference between liberal democracy and illiberal democracy? It can be a complex issue.  There are oodles of papers to read if you really want to get a handle on it but, for now, here's a somewhat useful explanation taken from Wiki.

An illiberal democracy, also called a pseudo democracy, partial democracy, low intensity democracy,empty democracy or hybrid regime,[1] is a governing system in which, although elections take place, citizens are cut off from knowledge about the activities of those who exercise real power because of the lack of civil liberties. It is not an 'open society'. There are many countries "that are categorized as neither "free" nor "not free," but as "probably free," falling somewhere between democratic and nondemocratic regimes."[2] This may be because a constitution limiting government powers exists, but its liberties are ignored, or because an adequate legal constitutional framework of liberties does not exist.[3]
There's no neat definition, no universal litmus test, that reveals illiberal democracy but, make no mistake, it's spreading quite fast around the world.  The United States has, in many aspects, become an illiberal democracy.  Its dysfunctional, "bought and paid for" Congress is a manifestation of this.  The United States Supreme Court with its outrageous rulings such as Citizens United is another telltale.  The influence of shady operators like the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson leave little doubt that government "of the people, by the people, for the people" has been reduced to a quaint and disposable notion.
Bill C-51 is a tribute to illiberal democracy.  It's the very sort of stuff that defines illiberal democracy.  Here's another example from the morning papers:
Washington State has documents outlining emergency response plans for a Kinder Morgan pipeline – plans similar to those British Columbians have been told by Canada’s National Energy Board they’re not allowed to see due to security concerns.

The B.C. government lost a battle with the National Energy Board in January to have greater access to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline emergency response plan (ERP). Kinder Morgan had already provided B.C. with a version of the plan, but significant portions were blacked out.

The denied information included specific response times, valve locations, and evacuation zone maps. The government had argued it needed the entire plan to be able to understand Kinder Morgan’s ability to respond to an oil spill. The proposed $6.5-billion Trans Mountain expansion would twin the pipeline and triple the capacity for Alberta oil intended for Asian markets.

But in Washington State – where the pipeline would cross through to Puget Sound – Kinder Morgan has provided a more comprehensive response plan.

...The U.S. plan includes information on response timelines, the availability of emergency equipment near specific pipeline sections, and a list of companies that could help out after an oil spill.

Yes, we still get to vote every now and then but, in the aftermath, government operates behind closed doors.  Harper was onto that from the get go, severing the public's and the media's access, to the public service and the armed forces to boot and transforming them into the prime minister's personal, partisan political agencies.  This veil of illiberal democracy descended over Canada upon Harper's first minority win and remains even stronger today.  The media whined and whimpered for a while but they've long been tamed.  Even our opposition parties, those who tell us they would like to run the country, go along with it.

Rex Murphy Praises Thomas Mulcair's Stand on Bill C-51

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 09:47
Regular readers of this blog will know that I have no particular use for Rex Murphy. Yet last night I found myself in total agreement with him as he offered an eloquent rebuke of Harper's Bill C-51 by praising NDP leader Thomas Mulcair's opposition to it. You can watch his reasons below:

Recommend this Post

Even the Fraser Institute Can't Look the Other Way But It Can't Tell the Truth Either.

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 09:16
There's a bumper sticker line that could double for the provincial motto of Alberta:  Dear God, Please Give Us One More Oil Boom and, This Time, We Promise We Won't Piss It Away.

Now, with another boom gone bust, Alberta has fallen back into a raging deficit and even the uber-Right Fraser Institute can't bite its tongue.  Naturally, the neo-liberal Fraser Institute sees workers' wages, especially government workers' wages, as the culprit.

Ten years ago, before the boom started in earnest, Alberta spent $8,965 (in 2013 dollars) per person in program spending. This does not include capital spending on items like hospitals, schools and roads.

The report argues that had the province increased program spending in the following years at the rate of inflation plus population growth, it would have spent $295 billion on programs over the next nine years.

Instead it spent $345 billion, a $49-billion difference.

So where did the money go? Mark Milke says a lot went to public sector wage growth, which in some years grew at nearly twice the rate of inflation.

"When you take these wage deals and unreformed pensions and start to multiply them by 200,000 people in the provincial public sector in Alberta, then over time, you get these big numbers."

Between 2006 and 2008, Alberta contributed $4.5 billion to the Heritage Savings Trust Fund. Nothing has gone in since then, and the fund's total sits at $15 billion.

In Alaska, a minimum of 25 per cent of resource revenues are deposited into its Alaska Permanent Fund. The income generated from the fund can be used by the state government, but not the principal. As of June 2014, the fund stands at nearly $64 billion US.

In Norway, 100 per cent of net proceeds from resource revenue are supposed to flow into a fund. According to Milke, that doesn't happen every year, but Norway has gotten close to that ideal. The Norwegian Petroleum Fund sits at $759 billion as of Sept. 30, 2014.

Of course, being the consummate neo-liberal Hack Shop, the Fraser Institute steers well clear of facts that don't fit its 'blame the workers' narrative.  While the Fraser report extols the success of Norway, for example, the authors deceivingly avoid the heart of that story - that Norway negotiated far higher royalties for its oil; that the government wisely (and in keeping with Peter Lougheed's advice) did not take oil revenues to into current accounts but, instead, used hefty income taxes to support the generous services it provides to its people. 
Lougheed, perhaps the last sensate premier Alberta has seen, knew that taking oil royalties into general revenue would create a dangerous government dependency on an insecure source of funding.  When boom turned to bust the government and people of Alberta would be dropped into a stinking mess.  Lougheed also warned that injecting that windfall revenue into the economy would overheat the economy, cause real wealth to evaporate as prices soared, and leave the province already wounded when oil prices plummeted.
Everything Lougheed foretold has been demonstrably proven - by both Norway and Alberta.  Too bad the Fraser Institute is so intellectually compromised that it can't tell the simple truth.


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