Agrégateur de flux

Another MSM blackout

Dawg's Blawg - il y a 1 heure 34 min
Here is a 30-second video from Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, urging citizens to get involved against political interference at the CBC. Funny thing. The big corporate media have refused to run it. I wonder why that might be? Speculation invited.... Dr.Dawg http://drdawgsblawg.ca/

What's Going On with the Senate?

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 1 heure 37 min

It seems there are a good many senators anxious about the already overdue audit reports into their expenses.  Complicating matters is the letter they were cajoled into signing that waives all privilege, both Parliamentary and solicitor-client.

Suddenly we seem to have a Senate packed full of Mike Duffys in waiting. From what I'm hearing they're bringing in sawdust by the truckload to cover the floor of the Red Chamber.

The trick now is to figure how this is going to play out in Stephen Harper's election planning.  He's got that place heavily larded with his own appointees. 52 Conservatives versus 30 Liberals and 6 independents.

It's hard to see where this is going but we know that this prime minister never turns his back on something that he can transform into an opportunity.

Heads up.

You Play Ball With Me and I'll Stick the Bat Straight Up Your....

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 1 heure 53 min
There's a scenario unfolding that's pretty amazing.

The White House has been negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran.  Obama has apparently kept his Israeli counterpart, Netanyahu, briefed on the negotiations and terms of the proposed deal including some concessions offered Iran.

Netanyahu doesn't like the deal.  He's been pushing for war against Iran - American war against Iran - for a long time.

The Israeli prime minister, facing a difficult election in just two weeks, has come to Washington claiming he needs to let Congress in on details the White House isn't revealing to them.  Netanyahu wants to stoke Congress up to resist a presidential veto.

There's no stepping back from this.  Either Netanyahu is flagrantly breaking White House confidences - he's spilling details Obama provided him - or else Israel has been spying on the negotiations - or Netanyahu is simply making stuff up and playing the Americans for suckers as he has so routinely in the past.

There are some observers speculating that the White House has a surprise or two of its own awaiting Netanyahu.  The sparks may fly tomorrow afternoon.

Can’t Tolerate Bigotry…

Left Over - il y a 2 heures 10 min
Time to put the brakes on our slide to intolerance: Tim Harper A government which deals with only symptoms and refuses to look at root causes is part of the problem.

By: National Affairs, Published on Sun Mar 01 2015

(with thanks to Montreal Simon’s blog for the reference:  montrealsimon.blogspot.ca)

 

What has always bemused me is the fact that a ‘Christian’ like Timothy McVeigh who was an admitted terrorist and murderer, homegrown in the late great USA, was never ever called a Christian terrorist or a Christian fundamentalist, etc. nor was his religious affiliation even considered in light of his actions..
This bigotry against The Other has always been with us..as any First Nations person in this country can attest…or any person of any colour other than lily-white, preferably male, preferably Protestant, heterosexual, etc etc…
Do we hear anything of the forced sterilization of males, or any form of birth control for men other than the 2000 year old condom or  a snip of the testicles? Nope….but abortion? A woman’s right to choose?  Seems safe for now, doesn’t it…but, just like gay marriage, our rights can be challenged on the basis of any sort of ‘moral imperative’ including that of religious belief..but don’t  whatever you do call it  fundamentalism, or intolerance..especially when  it flows from an avowed Christian source… 

During WW2, in the US,   which was the nationality that was put in concentration camps, had their belongings stolen, etc.  but let us never forget that the Japanese, and to a much lesser extent, the Italians and Germans….the Other, no matter that the President considered the Great Progressive, my  90 year old mother’s  hero,  FDR, was in office….
Harper is grasping at the same old straws, with much less reason to do so..and yes, it is gonna bite him in the bum…
In Britain, when the rightwing yahoos in “Pegida’ decided to stage an anti-Muslim march, around 300 showed up for their side..several thousand showed up to march against that principle..think that would happen here? I dare to hope so, but doubt it…and I’m an avowed pagan who really doesn’t have  time for organized religion..but my tolerance is supposedly guaranteed in this  one-time democracy we live in…
We are in the infancy of anti-Muslim rhetoric and bigotry, and, like every other anti-religious movement in the West, any excuse to scapegoat will be utilized to benefit whoever is pointing the finger, or, in the case of Harper, if his lips are moving, ya just know he’s lying…


On full information

accidentaldeliberations - il y a 4 heures 31 min
Michael Harris' latest is well worth a read in offering a guide to avoiding the worst consequences of election-year spin. But it's worth noting that his most important advice is only presented as an afterthought:
Final note on street-proofing your vote? Inform yourself. Look at what the people who want their power renewed have done with it so far, and at what those who seek power say they will do if they get it.

Above all, don’t cast your ballot out of fear.While the warnings found earlier in Harris' piece may be helpful as examples of what candidates shouldn't do and what the public may want to avoid, any voter's election-year calculus should be based on one core question: which candidate and government will best represent the interests of one's self and one's fellow citizens?

The combination of horse-race talk, partisan spin and one-way messaging which we know all too well is then problematic precisely because it's designed to push voters down self-serving shortcuts in answering the core question. But by focusing more on avoiding the former than addressing the latter (as Harris seems to suggest as his order of priorities), voters may well leave themselves vulnerable to different forms of manipulation.

The inevitable end result of each elections is that somebody will be elected to represent each riding. While parties and candidates will have their own ideas as to how people should decide who that will be, it's the civic duty of each voter to decide what matters most, compare the parties' and candidates' positions, and cast a ballot accordingly. And shutting out the spin is only a small part of that process.

Too Good Not too Share

Politics and its Discontents - il y a 4 heures 56 min
Although I'm not sure that the benighted Progressive Conservative MPP Rick Nicholls will completely get it:


H/t The Toronto StarRecommend this Post

Caveat Emptor

Northern Reflections - il y a 4 heures 57 min

                                          http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/


We should approach the next election with caution. That's because the nature of electoral politics in Canada has changed. Michael Harris writes:

The old electoral politics of presentation, explanation and proof are mostly dead. Politicians no longer court you, they stalk you. They don’t campaign, they spy, cheat, chisel and connive their way into office.

There have always been rainmakers, fixers, and crooks hanging around politics like flies in a barnyard. But the new technologies, and the access to personal information they bring, have turned them into pure predators. American conservative strategist Vincent Harris is the latest incarnation of this phenomenon, though he has many predecessors like Frank Luntz and Karl Rove.

For public consumption, people like Vincent Harris say they advise the media teams of politicians. Their real task is to create public opinion and herd the masses by way of distortion. They push and pull voters as if they were an accordion.
The folks who run campaigns are essentially running cons and we are the marks. They consider most of us easy marks. Therefore, Harris recommends a few strategies to keep the con men at bay:

Your first line of defence against the election bandits is your telephone. Never, I repeat, never listen to a telephone recording, let alone act on one. A lot of people who did in the last federal election exercised their legs, not their franchise. Now that Harper’s strategically weakened new elections legislation makes life markedly easier for would-be cheaters, we are certain to see the sequel: Son of Robocalls. When you know it’s a recording, just hang up. Don’t let them use your telephone as a Trojan horse to enter your head.

Vote for somebody who actually appears and answers your questions, face-to-face, in a way that satisfies you. As for the one who shoves his literature in your face while asking if he can expect your support, all in 30 seconds, tell him to come back in a week and you’ll talk about it. If he doesn’t come back, line the bird-cage with his bumph.

Take pollsters with a grain of salt – and make that a five-pound bag when they are doing their surveys for an election that hasn’t been called. Remember that not all polls are created equal. There are real pollsters with proven methodologies and there are those who fly by night. There are professionals who aim to reveal public opinion, and partisans in pollsters’ clothing who use pretend polls to generate their own public opinion.
Technology has made it easier to con voters. But there is one rule that remains true:

Inform yourself. Look at what the people who want their power renewed have done with it so far, and at what those who seek power say they will do if they get it.
Thomas Jefferson was an advocate of public education because he believed that democracy couldn't function without it. The people running the show assume we wish to remain stupid.

Caveat emptor.

 

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - il y a 5 heures 26 min
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Janine Berg writes about the need for strong public policy to counter the trend of growing inequality. And Gillian White traces the ever-increasing divergence between worker productivity and wages in an interview with Jan Rivkin:
White: Some say that the decrease of collective bargaining has played a role in creating the gap, how true do you think that is?

Rivkin: There are a number of causes, one is the underlying shift in technology and globalization. Another is systematic underinvestment in the commons, which is a set of shared resources that every business needs in order to be productive: an educated populace, pools of skilled labor, a vibrant network of suppliers, strong infrastructure, basic R&D and so on. A third is shifts in institutions and politics and bargaining power, which is embodied in the decline in collective bargaining and the weakening of labor unions. There's no question that that is part of the story. How large a part? I don't think anyone has a well-informed perspective.
...

White: Is there a way to rectify the situation, to close the gap or at least create better outcomes for workers?

Rivkin: There are some forces at work that are unstoppable and we probably wouldn’t want to stop them even if we could. Forces of globalization, technological change—those genies are out of the bottle. But there are other parts of they dynamic that are purely choice. The damage done by underinvestment is a self-inflicted wound.

We need a movement toward cross-sector collaboration for rebuilding the commons and for sharing prosperity. We're seeing multiple examples of businesses that have realized that it’s in their interest to make sure that their workers are well educated, are skilled, that their supply networks are healthy, that the infrastructure in the cities where they operate is strong.

Investing in the commons should not be a substitute for raising wages, but wages are determined in a competitive market. It's impossible, for a company to justify paying an employee more if that employee hasn't been appropriately productive for the company. I think that business leaders just need to recognize that companies can't thrive for long if their communities are struggling.- But of course, it's rather difficult to encourage public action to solve a serious problem when individuals can be punished merely for pointing it out. And Alina Tugend reminds us that without the protection of either a union or a constitution which limits the action of a government employer, workers may be risking their jobs merely by commenting on political matters. 

- Kate McInturff answers some key questions about the wage gap between male and female workers. And Heather Mallick decries the increased expectation that young workers will put up with providing unpaid labour.

- Ted Fertik and Dan Cantor offer some lessons which progressives in the U.S. and elsewhere should draw from Syriza's rise in Greece, with these in particular standing out:
Lesson 2: Against the oligarchs and the "totalitarianism of the market" which serves as a cover for their interests, we, the forces of democracy, have to fight back.

Only a few benefit from the oligarchs' policies, but they have the power and they have a grip on the political system. The oligarchs prevent the creation of a genuinely fair electoral playing field via a rigged campaign finance system and the rollback of voting rights. The oligarchs bring in cheap immigrant labour but prevent immigrants from getting citizenship. The oligarchs buy politicians.
Democracy -- real democracy -- is a threat to them.

America gave birth to the idea of popular sovereignty, but who in America today believes that it is the people who rule? We will get policies for the rest of us when the rest of us have real political power.
...
Lesson 8: No mourning for the golden days.

The immediate policies that the new Greek government proposes to implement are all rollbacks of "reforms" that were forced on them by their creditors. That could have been presented as going back to some tolerable previous status quo. Instead, the new government has denounced the old as corrupt and undemocratic, saying that it intends to destroy once and for all the grip of the country's oligarchs on power.
In the U.S., even as the "great compression" of the post-Second World War era produced steadily rising living standards for the (mostly white) middle class, it will be not enough to merely "restore the middle class." That slogan may poll well, but the challenges we face require new thinking and a new level of political energy. 
There is no going back to 1965. Young people in particular -- and who can deny that the youthfulness of Syriza and Podemos is part of their appeal? -- will not be moved by policies purporting to return us to an America of which no one under 45 has any living memory.- Finally, Tabatha Southey laments the surface popularity of a terror bill whose glaring flaws would almost certainly sink in with a reasonable amount of study. Tonda MacCharles discusses the type of more-effective soft security which is being ignored in favour of the Cons' push for barely-fettered secret police. Michael Geist points out how dishonest the RCMP has been in exercising far less power than security services would have under C-51, while Jim Bronskill notes that the Cons are seeking to foist sweeping powers on CSIS after having broken a promise to create effective oversight. And Pete Dolack comments on the criminalization of dissent in Canada.

Why Stephen Harper's Bigotry Will Come Back to Haunt Him

Montreal Simon - il y a 5 heures 31 min


As you know I am having a hard time accepting that Stephen Harper would actually use fear and bigotry to try to win himself another bloody majority.

Because even though he is a grubby creature, it's the lowest thing I have ever seen. And I fear what might happen to this country should he get away with it. 

So it's really good to see some in the MSM finally starting to criticize his dirty game.

And like Tim Harper, start saying enough is enough. 
Read more »

Michael Harris' Guide to Street-Proofing Our Votes

Montreal Simon - il y a 6 heures 51 min


As you may have heard, Ottawa has been swirling with rumours that Stephen Harper could be getting ready to call a very early election. 

So he can strike before the flames of fear and bigotry he has been fanning die down. And before the Duffy Trial.

And although those rumours seem to have subsided, his performance during his year end interview with Peter Mansbridge was less than reassuring in that regard...



And now that he's even crazier than he was back then, he is capable of ANYTHING.

So just to be safe, or as safe as you can be in his monstrous Harperland, I thought I'd pass on Michael Harris' guide to street-proofing your vote.

Or his Hitchhiker's Guide to the 2015 Election. 
Read more »

Why Benjamin Netanyahu Could End Up Hurting Stephen Harper

Montreal Simon - il y a 10 heures 21 min


Oh. My. Gorilla. I see Benjamin Netanyahu has begun his controversial visit to the United States.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has arrived in the US to argue against a possible nuclear deal with Iran. Mr Netanyahu says the deal would be inadequate to prevent Tehran from acquiring a nuclear bomb. He is due to give a speech in Congress on Tuesday which was not agreed in advance with the Obama administration, angering the White House.

And although he has spent the last few days trying to portray it as a "sacred mission."



And claiming to speak for the "entire Jewish people."

He not only risks making a fool out of himself, he could also end up embarrassing his faithful stooge Stephen Harper.
Read more »

Still awaiting confirmation that his birth, prophesied by a swallow, ignited a bright star in the sky that immediately changed the season from winter to spring and caused an awe-inspiring double rainbow to appear

accidentaldeliberations - dim, 03/01/2015 - 14:38
There are reasonable responses to a Prime Minister's being unable to attend the Canada Winter Games. And then there's Bal Gosal's reply, which sounds much more like the type of understated message we'd expect from a toady of your neighbourhood megalomaniac dictator:
Speaking at the Otway Nordic Ski Center Saturday, Gosal insisted Harper is "probably the greatest sports fan in our country."

They'll Nip This in the Bud

The Disaffected Lib - dim, 03/01/2015 - 11:50


It's enough to give an oligarch chest pain.  Barely a month in power, popular support for the left-wing, anti-austerity government in Greece is soaring.  Syrzia won the January polls with 36% of the votes.  A few weeks later and there's no sign of buyers' remorse.  Instead the party's support has climbed to almost 48%. Not bad for a movement that came out of nowhere just three years ago.

It's not so much the Greek government digging in its heels on debt repayment and austerity demands that will be infuriating the Euro bankers.  It's the attitude of the Greek people that they'll find unnerving.

On the street, optimism has returned. People worn down by gruelling austerity, on the back of unprecedented recession, are smiling. Government officials have taken to walking through central Athens, instead of ducking into chauffeur-driven cars to avoid protesters. Last week, finance minister Yanis Varoufakis – a maverick to many of his counterparts – was mobbed by appreciative voters as he ambled across Syntagma square.

“They’ve given us our voice back,” said Dimitris Stathokostopoulos, a prominent entrepreneur. “For the first time there’s a feeling that we have a government that is defending our interests. Germany needs to calm down. Austerity hasn’t worked. Wherever it has been applied it has spawned poverty, unemployment, absolute catastrophe.”

If there's one thing the ECB and IMF realize it's that this sort of thing can be contagious.  It can spread.  In other countries those populations are also feeling "worn down by austerity" and saddled with governments that are not defending their interests.
It's already taking hold in Spain.  Italy, Ireland, France and even Britain could be susceptible.  I expect the conservative lenders won't sit by idle.  They need the Greek people back in harness to austerity or, before long, everyone will be kicking over the traces.  Optimism, left unchecked, can be a very, very dangerous thing.

There's a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea

The Disaffected Lib - dim, 03/01/2015 - 11:28

In a decade or so the government of Canada will be in the market for new submarines for the Royal Canadian Navy.

In the 17-years since the Chretien government snapped up four used British boats, supposedly a bargain, we haven't seen much use out of them.  In fact we've about doubled the purchase price in maintenance bills trying to get the damned things seaworthy.

One of them, just one, has actually fired a torpedo.  That's 68-service years, one torpedo.  But wait, there's news.  HMCS Victoria took some guest journos aboard, sailed out of Esquimalt, dived and demonstrated a simulated torpedo launch.  They flooded one tube with compressed air and "fired" it.  It's sort of like a giant bathtub fart at 60-metres.

Now the navy proclaims that it has three of the four nearly ready to go, even if they all can't fire torpedoes.  Still that qualifies the fleet as operational.

So, why are we investing all this effort and money into these old boats? Advances in submarine technology have overtaken Canada's subs.  They're not remotely approaching what is "state of the art" today.  They don't seem to be particularly reliable and their safety record is pretty extensive - just not in a good way.

Michael Byers has come up with the best explanation.  The RCN is keeping these boats active to keep the door open for the purchase of new subs, real subs, the working kind.  That's around 10-years off so the navy wants to keep the capability alive lest the pols decide we can get by without submarines altogether.

One thing we know is that there'll be no money for new subs anytime soon.  Not since the collapse of the Soviet Union has a navy been allowed to deteriorate as the Canadian navy has under Chairman Harper.  We need provisioning ships. Ain't got'em.  We need air defence destroyers.  Ain't got those either.  We need Arctic patrol vessels - soon, eventually, maybe.  We have a three ocean coastline and we can't put one task force to sea because we're flat out of the necessary ships.

Know who's building ships?  Vlad Putin, that's who.  And he's planning to establish a significant Russian naval presence in the Arctic where seabed rights are contested.   Sure, there's the Law of the Sea and all that but Putin has been giving signs that he might prefer "finders, keepers."

But we've got three submarines to keep Putin at bay, don't we?  Yeah, right.

Netanyahu Has Screwed the Pooch for Israel

The Disaffected Lib - dim, 03/01/2015 - 10:06

Even if the next US president is a Republican, what Netanyahu is doing this week will cost Israel far into the future.  What the Israeli prime minister has somehow failed to grasp is that he is targeting the office of the president.

Even those who wish him luck now will never look on him, or Israel,  the same way again. He's a handy snake to have around - for Republicans, this time - but, afterwards, everyone gets a stick.

There are lines and Netanyahu is crossing one, a big line.  It's the sort of thing that isn't forgotten and even a future Republican president won't readily forgive.

Americans are all about their presidency.  Hell, they campaign for the office for two years.  They crave it and getting it means everything yet here's this Israeli yahoo coming right into their own backyard to undermine it.  Oooh, that leaves scars.

Leonard Nimoy

Cathie from Canada - dim, 03/01/2015 - 10:05
I don't know where this is, but isn't it great?
It was posted on the #LeonardNimoy thread at Twitter, where William Shatner is doing a tribute.

Saw this a few minutes ago. I involuntarily gasped and had a hard time holding it together. #LeonardNimoy pic.twitter.com/3XYy69gkGg

— Neil Shurley (@ThatNeilGuy) March 1, 2015

I'll See Your Cult and I'll Raise You One

The Disaffected Lib - dim, 03/01/2015 - 09:59

They're dying to get at each other or at least they would be if only we gave them a chance.  Radical, fundamentalist Islam versus radical, fundamentalist Christianity - the End Times grudge match right there on the floor of the desert of ancient Mesopotamia.

An article in today's Independent explores what there is about ISIS that's drawing so many young Britons to the cause.  It suggests that ISIS is essentially a messianic cult with heavy End Times overtones.  The report identifies two areas in which ISIS has succeeded where others before it failed.

First, it’s come closer than other Salafist organisations to creating a “caliphate”, a geographical location where teachings of the Prophet Mohamed govern every aspect of existence. In that sense, it offers a homeland where disaffected young Muslims can turn their backs on everything they dislike – or have been encouraged to dislike – about the modern world.

Second, it understands the power of slick propaganda videos and wanton destructiveness.

...we are dealing with an eschatological movement of a type that became common in the Middle Ages. You and I may be looking forward to a long and peaceful existence, but these guys are eagerly anticipating the apocalypse.

In November, when the American hostage Abdul-Rahman (formerly Peter) Kassig was about to be murdered, his killers deliberately chose Dabiq as the site for their latest gruesome exhibition. “Here we are, burying the first American Crusader in Dabiq, eagerly waiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive,” the man we now know to be Emwazi says in the propaganda video. It’s tempting to dismiss this as empty rhetoric, but it refers to prophecies that the final showdown between Islam and its enemies will begin in Dabiq; members of Isis are expecting the imminent arrival of the Mahdi, a messianic figure who will lead a Muslim army to victory before the end of the world.

I don’t know whether the story is apocryphal, but, according to some sources, Osama bin Laden was warned in 2008 that the founders of what would become Isis were obsessed with the Mahdi and the end-of-days. He’s supposed to have written to them, saying, “Cut it out.” Sadly, this eschatological movement took no notice.

It has now eclipsed al-Qaeda as the go-to terror organisation of the day, with the added attraction of controlling an area larger than some long-established countries. Running away to join Isis isn’t an attractive option for most of us, but the picture might look different if you believe the world is about to end. People do remarkable things under the influence of millenarian ideology, and Isis is something new in the field: an apocalyptic movement that offers a temporary refuge from the modern world and a last chance to be saved.


Well that sure sounds like a cult to me. Messianic, eschatological, End Times, afterlife stuff laid on pretty thick. But we've got messianic, eschatological, End Times, afterlife (Rapture) folks of our very own only they're Christian. So why not match them up - our cult versus theirs? Something akin to a desert cage match. Two great religions enter the cage, only one will come out. One night, in Dabiq - winner takes all.  The pay TV rights alone should be astonishing.

subway tokens, greek coffee cups, and me: missing nyc

we move to canada - dim, 03/01/2015 - 08:00
This week I received email from my friend Alan, formerly known in this blog as Alan with one L, or AW1L.
Subject line: Re: 34th Street/Penn Station Just Now

Out-of-Towner [leaning into packed Uptown Express [2 or 3] train]: "Does anybody know if this goes to Times Square?"

About 10 Passengers [as one--all with exactly the same *annoyed* tone]: "Yes!"

It was *excellent*! [I *love* this town!!]I loved this little story! I loved that AW1L thought of me when this happened. It also made me feel homesick and wistful for my old hometown. I replied, in part, "Sometimes I miss my old life. No one I know now would even understand what's so great about this!" I don't know if that's true, but sometimes I'm astonished by how much my life has changed since moving to Canada.

Now I'll use this email and those wistful feelings as an excuse to post these NYC items. One has been sitting in Blogger drafts for five years!

From 2010: A History of New York in 50 Objects, worth a click, including some comments. Coffee cups, sewing machine, an oyster. But... a Metropass and no token??

From 1904 to 1948 subway riders paid their fare with ordinary coins. But since its introduction in 1953, the token has been an absolutely iconic feature of the City. It was phased out when the Metropass was introduced in 2003. Thumbs down for Metropass-but-no-token on this list!

Also from The New York Times, although much more recently, some features on NYC time travel. If the New York Times is writing about it, you can be sure it's on its way out, but they're good stories just the same: Regilding the Gilded Age in New York, and Five Ways to Time Travel (and Party) in New York.

Here's another bit of New York City time travel, something once iconic, and now seldom seen.


See also: leslie buck, we are happy you served us and, further back, we are happy to serve you.




On The Politics Of Fear

Politics and its Discontents - dim, 03/01/2015 - 06:30


Regular readers of this blog will have noticed the relative frequency with which I provide links to and samples of Star readers' letters. One of the obvious reasons is that they tend to have the same political sensibilities as all progressive bloggers, i.e., they are acutely aware of the ongoing damage to our country that Mr. Harper and his acolytes are the engineers of. The other reason is the hope that these missives will be disseminated as widely as possible on others' social networks, be they Facebook, Twitter, or whatever. It is only by spreading the word on networks of friends and associates who may not be especially interested in politics that we have a chance of ousting this hateful regime in the upcoming election.

Right now we are living in politically perilous times, of course, owing to the fact that the regime has gotten a boost from people's fear of terrorism, a fear that Harper is exploiting to maximum advantage. Here is what a few readers have to say about this morally reprehensible tactic. You can see the entire set of letters, all excellent, here.)

Re: Leader’s words should strengthen, not scare, the nation, Opinion Feb. 25
Having watched the deplorable performance of Stephen Harper in regard to Bill C-51, culminating in a disgraceful motion to limit debate, I share the following: Wikipedia defines “demagogue” as: a political leader in a democracy who appeals to the emotions, fears, prejudices, and ignorance of the lower classes in order to gain power and promote political motives. Demagogues usually oppose deliberation and advocate immediate, violent action to address a national crisis; they accuse moderate and thoughtful opponents of weakness. Demagogues have appeared in democracies since ancient Athens. They exploit a fundamental weakness in democracy: because ultimate power is held by the people, nothing stops the people from giving that power to someone who appeals to the lowest common denominator of a large segment of the population.

Michael Hayes, Victoria, B.C.

I am stunned that over 80 per cent of Canadians would back Bill C-51. Obviously, these Canadians have not studied what is in this bill. Why would we give up close to 150 years of freedoms over two mentally imbalanced people killing three Canadians?

I notice when Robert Pickton was arrested in 2007 for the murder of close to 50 women no laws were forthcoming to protect the aboriginal women or the prostitutes involved. For that matter, Harper still seems to be refusing to do much regarding the safety of aboriginal women or prostitutes.
CSIS actually seems to be doing a good job of infiltrating these cells of disaffected Canadians, so why should we give up any freedoms? I believe Harper should be doing more to help create good jobs for young people instead of taking our freedoms away.

Looking at history, the last group of people who gave up their freedoms were the German people in the 1930s. We all know how that turned out.

Gary Brigden, Toronto

Do we never learn?

Its saddening that the majority of Canadians aren’t even following the recent attempts by the Harper government to pass Bill C-51 without any public debate. However, it shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering Prime Minister Harper’s noted stance against freedom of the press. However, this begs the question: considering that a large portion of Canadians came to Canada to avoid oppressive dictatorial regimes elsewhere, why are these same Canadians so eager to go back to such a “nanny state”?

Hussein Mohamedali, Vaughan

The big question I think Canadians deserve answers to is this — why is the Conservative Party afraid to add oversight to its anti-terror bill?

Such oversight will not affect the terms of the bill. It will just give each and every Canadian the assurance that CSIS or the government will not be allowed to break Canadian laws and the terms of our Constitution.

The prime minister and his spokespeople have succeeded in scaring many Canadians; making them fear that the hordes are at the gate and only the CPC and Bill C-51 can save us.
Fear is a great motivator and Stephen Harper trots it out at every opportunity. I don’t care if you are left, right or centre. It is disgraceful conduct on the part of any politician to try to use power through fear.

American president Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” He said this in reference to America being struck at Pearl Harbour on Dec. 7, 1941. He didn’t tell Americans to be afraid as our government is now telling us we should be. Roosevelt said don’t be afraid.

Canadians are good strong people; we are not fearful people and it’s time politicians stopped using fear as a policy.

Joe Spence, KanataRecommend this Post

Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - dim, 03/01/2015 - 06:11
This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Armine Yalnizyan counters the Cons' spin on tax-free savings accounts. And Rob Carrick points out that raising the limit on TFSAs would forfeit billions of desperately-needed dollars to benefit only the wealthiest few in Canada:
TFSAs are Swiss army knives – a financial knife, corkscrew, screwdriver and more. But doubling the annual contribution limit of $5,500 is a bad idea.

Message to the federal government: Please don’t, because we can’t afford it.
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A report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer this week says the federal government would lose $14.7-billion a year in revenue by 2060 and the provinces would lose $7.6-billion a year. That’s a tremendous amount of money to forgo in a country with a population aging as quickly as ours.

The latest population estimates from Statistics Canada suggest that seniors will account for 25.5 per cent of the population by 2061, up from 14.4 per cent in 2011. You can imagine what this trend will mean for government spending on health care and income programs such as Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

In fact, Ottawa was so concerned about the sustainability of OAS – it’s funded from general government revenue – that it announced that it would gradually increase the age of eligibility to 67 from 65 starting in 2023. Ottawa saved a whack of money doing that. Now, it’s looking at depleting the savings it realized with a higher TFSA contribution limit.- Thomas Walkom offers some suggestions to save Canadian capitalism from its own most destructive impulses. And Don Lenihan discusses another set of big ideas worth considering, while recognizing that none of them will come to pass without a more effective political process.

- Elizabeth Douglass writes that between plunging prices and increasing recognition of safety and climate risks, 2015 is off to a rather rough start for the oil industry. And that's before doctors start highlighting pollution and climate change as serious health issues - which Kyle Plantz reports to be a foreseeable and desirable possibility.

- Meanwhile, Bruce Johnstone reminds us that farmers are still suffering from the Cons' choice to prioritize the use of rail to transport oil.

- Aarian Marshall discusses what the Cons' census vandalism has cost Canada:
Though Peterborough’s situation is particularly difficult, it’s not an anomaly. In 2006, 93.5 percent of Canadians responded to the then-mandatory long-form census. In 2011, 68.6 percent returned the NHS. This is despite the fact that census officials distributed more surveys to compensate for the predicted drop in response rates—to one in three Canadians in 2011 instead of the one in five in 2006. Still, Statistics Canada withheld 2011 NHS data for 1,128 of 4,567 Canadian census subdivisions. “[A]pproximately 25 percent of geographic areas do not have reliable National Household Survey data available for their use,” Canada’s auditor general wrote in a 2014 report.
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“Because of the move to the voluntary NHS, Canada is a richer, whiter, more educated country now,” says Ryan Berlin, a Vancouver-based economist and demographer with the non-profit Urban Futures Institute. Berlin is making a joke here, one that’s been making the rounds in Canadian academic conferences for the past few years. But he’s not wrong. Certain populations—low-income residents, immigrants, the disabled, aboriginal peoples, and those without a firm grasp of the English language—were far less likely to return the voluntary census. These are also often the communities most in need of social programs. The question marks are particularly disconcerting in the wake of the worldwide  recession. Where are the needy? Canada isn’t entirely sure.

While statisticians with the Canadian government do have sophisticated mathematical tools to help estimate how many underserved citizens they missed, the 2011 still survey left glaring uncertainties. In one example, the NHS found that Filipinos were the most represented group among immigrants who entered Canada between 2006 and 2011. But a footnote in the Statistics Canada release notes that this result is “not in line with administrative data from the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada which provides the number of recent immigrants by their country of birth settling in Canada each year.” Why the gap? It could be sampling errors, it could be response patterns, or it could be an “under or over estimation of certain groups of recent immigrants in the NHS.” Officials say they just can't be certain why they don’t know what they don’t know.
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Academics also stress that census data is often used as a benchmark, to check whether other data sets derived from alternative sources are correct. Now there appears to be no universally-acknowledged set of numbers against which to check one’s own work. - Finally, PressProgress points out that the Harper Cons and their mouthpieces seem to be the only people alive - whether in Canada or elsewhere - who don't think the tragic and ongoing history of missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada merits a public inquiry. And Stephen Maher highlights the complete disconnect between the Cons and Canada's First Nations who rightly expect far better.

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