Agrégateur de flux

action bronson, hate speech, and protest: rape culture vs. freedom of speech

we move to canada - il y a 2 heures 46 min
As part of the NXNE concert series in Toronto, rapper Action Bronson was slated to perform a free concert in Dundas Square. Bronson is apparently known for lyrics and videos that degrade women and glorify rape. He has also bragged about assaulting a trans woman. Many people felt that this performer was inappropriate for a headliner act and a free event in the heart of Toronto.

A petition was circulated calling for NXNE to cancel the Dundas Square show. Eventually they did. Their statement says they will try re-book Action Bronson as a ticketed event in a different venue.

That seems like a good decision.

However, I was less disturbed by another misogynist shock act than by some of the reaction I read on Facebook, from friends and their contacts. It seems that many progressive people believe that what Action Bronson does should be illegal. Others believe that even speaking in support of such expression should be illegal. I find that deeply troubling.

The people in this discussion seemed not to distinguish between a hate crime and hate speech - or indeed between expression and act, at all.

Most were willing to concede that expression condoning and celebrating rape is not the same as rape itself. But because this expression contributes to rape culture, because it perpetuates and normalizes violence against women, it should be illegal.

I recognize rape culture. I resist it and I detest it. And that's one reason I believe we shouldn't criminalize speech.

Shutting down hate speech doesn't make hate go away. But it does shut down all possibility of education. It allows the speaker to play the victim. It may make our society more polite and pleasant - on the surface - but it does nothing to further a society where all women are valued as equals. And inevitably, it will be used against us.

Throughout history, laws banning or criminalizing expression have been used by the powerful against the less powerful, by the dominant culture against the minority. That's why gay literature was labelled as pornography and banned, while male-dominated, heterosexual porn flourished. It's why the Harper Government can call David Suzuki an extremist, and try to ban criticism of the state of Israel.

When speech and expression are curtailed, history shows us who suffers: radicals, dissidents, peace activists.

If we want to be free to protest and to express political views that are offensive to the powerful, we should be prepared to defend potentially offensive expression for everyone. Criminalizing any expression threatens all expression - and it threatens progressive activists most of all.

And what of fantasy? For many, erotica/porn includes bondage, simulated rape, and all manner of acts that would be criminal if nonconsensual. And of course these acts are depicted in literature, photography, video, and the like. Many people find it triggering and offensive. Shall we ban that, too? (Or is it only offensive if it subjugates women?) If we roll back that clock, all our rights are going with it.

Here is some of the Facebook conversation. Indented text is quoted from commenters. I'm quoting liberally in order to not quote out of context, with my own comments below.
If he wrote that song for an individual, and sent that video to them in the mail, it would be considered a hate crime. So what's the difference between that, and releasing his song to the public? The fact that it's not targeted to an individual? His hate is targeted towards the entire female gender. I think we're talking bullshit loopholes and technicalities here.Protection of public expression is much more than a technicality. If an individual is targeted - threatened, harassed - that is a crime. (Although not rape. Still not rape.) But we distinguish between those private, targeted actions and public expressions - songs, movies, books, poetry, video. In my view, people must be allowed to express whatever they want in those forms, and not do so in fear of arrest.
Hate speech impedes on people's right to live a life free from worry of abuse. You can't be pro freedom of anything if you support hate speech because it prevents people from having certain freedoms - one of those freedoms is the right to feel safe. Bronson's lyrics are hate speech and add to the pre-existing rape culture problem that is plaguing our society. Bronson also publicly admitted to assaulting a trans woman and misgendering her. THIS IS AN ACT OF VIOLENCE. He's a white man whose violent, misogynistic lyrics and music video imagery specifically target women of colour. . . . The KKK are still allowed to have their say, and operate under the guise of "freedom of speech" and look what's happening! You have cops who are KKK members on the Ferguson police force spreading their views and encouraging whites to shoot up innocent black kids by constantly portraying them as thugs. They get away with it because the media has done everything in its power to instil anti blackness into the minds of whites and non-black people of colour.

The freedom to protect hate speech under the guise of freedom of speech only benefits and serves the white rich cis straight able bodied man. They do not suffer from any forms of systematic oppression. In the society described above, which I readily recognize as reality, which hate speech is more likely to be protected, "Women are bitches" or "Death to cops"? Once certain expression is illegal, who defines and decides what stays and what goes?

Commenters also noted that the expression in question is without artistic value. That may be true, but in my opinion that is (a) subjective and (b) irrelevant. One person's erotica is another person's smut, and to someone else, it's all garbage.

Other commenters noted that speech that promotes rape culture is as bad as rape. What can I say. It takes a luxury of ignorance to express such hyperbole, and it minimizes the trauma and suffering of every rape survivor.

Some commenters mentioned the general offensiveness of the Action Bronson act. Well, freedom of expression is easy if you're raising money for kids with cancer or posting cute puppy videos. Freedom of expression is tested when the expression is most offensive. A society that values freedom of expression allows space on the fringes. A society that values conformity and politeness more than free speech narrows the field.

That's when I realize that Canadians, as a society, do not really value freedom of expression. They value a quietly polite society, where hate is ignored and so said not to exist.
A few of my classmates were having a discussion about "Game of Thrones" One of the women said "I don't like the show, it glorifies rape." One of the men responded, "what is the big deal, rape is everywhere..." The fact that those words flowed so easily from his tongue..... I am an artist, a woman and someone who has been victimized. Free speech, like art, comes with responsibilities and to abuse that freedom is demonstrating a reckless disregard for others. THAT is a crime. It is no different, in MY opinion, than knowingly getting in a car and driving while drunk.Criminalizing speech completely shuts down the possibility of education. If we arrest the man who said "What's the big deal about rape?" we lose all opportunity for dialogue, not just with that one man, but with every person who now must suppress his or her speech in order to avoid arrest.

These rape-culture thoughts don't go away, but they remain unchallenged. All the arrest teaches is forced conformity. As much as "what's the big deal about rape" pains me deeply, I would rather that thought be expressed openly - I would rather see an atmosphere cultivated where people are free to express any thought - so those thoughts can be challenged, examined, and potentially changed. Perhaps the person who expressed the thought would not be changed, but some listeners to the debate might be.

There is also the very huge issue of who decides what speech is criminal. In our society, it will usually be people like Stephen Harper.
but I think if enough people boycott and protest against his music, it will send the message that this type of hate speech is not tolerated.Boycott and protest? Absolutely! We should, and we must. But if the expression is declared illegal and banned, we lose the opportunity to protest. We lose a huge opportunity for education. Plus the speaker becomes the victim. The only thing we gain is not having to hear something - but those thoughts are still in the person's brain and heart. The hate hasn't gone away.

On cooperative priorities

accidentaldeliberations - il y a 2 heures 52 min
As part of their new "Hope and Wild Flailing" campaign theme, plenty of Libs are looking for any pretext - however lacking in reality - to attack Tom Mulcair. And Mulcair's latest comments on a coalition offer the latest flimsy excuse. So let's look at how there's still a huge difference between the NDP and the Libs when it comes to a willingness to talk about coalitions - but how Mulcair could do far better by working with the NDP's longstanding willingness to cooperate.

To start with, let's look at the obvious distinction between the parties' respective stances.

Trudeau's position has been to declare that he is "unequivocally opposed to any sort of coalition". In other words, if one believes Trudeau's public statements (and once again, we shouldn't), the Libs don't care what kind of terms they could agree to on policy, cabinet positions or any other area, but are opposed to cooperating with any other party as their lone inviolable principle. And if that means propping up the Harper Cons, that's a result Trudeau is happy to accept.

In response to that position, Mulcair is now saying that he's not going to talk any more about a coalition in the period leading up to the election:
On était prêt à mettre beaucoup d’eau dans notre vin, parce que notre priorité est de nous débarrasser de Stephen Harper. M. Trudeau a dit qu’il serait peut-être prêt à travailler avec le NPD, à condition que je n’en sois plus le chef. J’ai soulevé le projet à quatre reprises. À un moment, on se lasse. C’est fini ces histoires-là. On regarde l’électorat et on leur dit que s’ils veulent du vrai changement, ça passe par le NPD. C’est dorénavant le seul propos que l’on tiendra là-dessus.So the Libs have stated their bare refusal to even consider talking about any coalition, and have indeed stated that they'll never accept one in any shape or form. And in response, the NDP has said it won't bother continuing to make an offer that's been rejected.

Which isn't to say that I agree with that choice.

In fact, it should be clear that the period leading up to the election isn't the point where any deals would be reached in any event (since pre-election collusion along the lines of the Red Green pact has never been on the table). Instead, coalition discussions would happen only after the party standings are determined in October. And I'm at a loss as to why Mulcair is backing off any preparation for that discussion as the election approaches.

As I've pointed out before, any party presenting itself as focused on ending the Harper Cons' stay in power should be zeroing in on why that goal is important, rather than leaving any room for implication that working together isn't worth the effort. In the "change" versus "more of the same" argument that will ultimately determine whether the Cons cling to power, it doesn't serve the public interest to hint that there are circumstances where a party would turn down an opportunity for change.

Moreover, as has been clear for some time, a strong majority of voters - and particularly the ones likely to be choosing between the NDP and Libs as their options - prefer a coalition to the alternative. So it's hard to see why Mulcair would be backing off of his predecessor's strong stance that a narrow-minded focus on false majorities and resulting refusal to cooperate represents part of the broken Ottawa that the NDP is trying to fix. And indeed, a departure from that party-first mindset represents part of the change that voters are most likely to prefer even in choosing among their opposition alternatives.

In sum, Mulcair's stance is far from the outrage that the Libs' spin machine wants to present it to be, and in fact leaves open the possibility of a later coalition which Trudeau has repeatedly tried to shut down. But it does involve needlessly forfeiting what should be an important issue for the NDP and for the broader political scene alike.

[Edit: fixed typo, wording.]

This is What Happens When You Play With Children With Guns

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 3 heures 27 min
What happens is that you get dragged into futile combat missions in distant corners of the world with what are almost always lousy outcomes.

America's foreign policy in the Middle East/South Asia isn't confused, it's delirious.  It simply makes no sense.  It defies reality.  It's taken a variety of forms - the invasion of Afghanistan, the conquest of Iraq, the bombing campaign to achieve regime change in Libya.  Each and every time it's ended in failure to accomplish anything remotely worthwhile.

Afghanistan remains one of the world's very worst failed states, a criminal enterprise beset by warlordism and tribalism and plagued by insurgency (the Taliban) and terrorism (al Qaeda and now ISIS).  It's gotten so bad that the Taliban are now seeking help from Shiite Iran to tackle their new rival, ISIS. The Afghan Hazara (Shiite) must find that hilarious.

Libya?  Well we did help the opposition defeat Gaddafi's forces.  Yet it took so long to get the result and so confused was the fighting that al Qaeda had ample opportunity to set up shop in North Africa.  Now, ISIS has jumped aboard. Oopsie.

Then there's Iraq, the birthplace of ISIS.  You could say that the radical Sunni Islamist movement was spawned by the very government that the United States helped create, the Shiite regime in Baghdad.  Nouri al Maliki laid the groundwork for revolt by refusing to share power with Iraq's Sunnis who formerly ruled the place.  These former Baathists were Saddam's people and included the guys who commanded Iraq's once powerful army.  Those same guys are now commanding ISIS.  Along the way they had a lot of help from the anti-Shiite, anti-Iran Sunni princes and sheikhs of the Gulf States, especially the House of Saud.

So now we're over yonder again, this time waging an air war against ISIS.  In the course of our martial exercise programme we're loosely allied with Syria's ruling Assad regime and with the Shiite militias of Iran.  I wonder how that's going to turn out.

To complicate matters, the Iranian forces in Iraq seem to be better, by an order of light years, in fighting the Sunni Islamist ISIS forces than the Iraqi army itself. The US defense secretary recently lambasted the Iraqi army for refusing to fight.

Ours is a curious war.  We've smartened up a bit over the past 10 plus years. This time we're not fighting for democracy or human rights or any of that noble stuff we so singularly failed to achieve the first, second and third time around.  This time we're simply out to "reduce" the effectiveness of ISIS forces.  Dropping a bomb within twenty yards of an ISIS pickup truck accomplishes that.  Yippee, a war we almost can't lose because we're not even pretending we're hoping to win. When it comes to war you can't set the bar any lower without gathering your generals in a railway car to sign instruments of capitulation.  Does that make any sense to you?

There may be a way out.  It would come at a cost.  We would have to give up our post-war commitment to the inviolable territorial integrity of nation states.  In other words partition Iraq.  A Shiite state in the south.  A Sunni state in the middle.  A Kurdish state in the north.  Give the guys who are so successfully running ISIS a country to run, oil resources to manage, all that good stuff.  See how long they cling to this "caliphate" nonsense if they're offered a sovereignty deal.

You see Iraq never made any sense except to the Brits and French in the wake of WWI.  The spoils of that nightmarish bloodbath included all the territories that once were the domain of the Ottoman Empire which had imprudently backed the Kaiser.  New countries were created by the drawing of lines on a map to reflect British and French interests, lines that ignored ethnic and religious realities in the region.

The fanciful notion of the territorial integrity of Iraq is based on perpetuating the sins perpetrated on the region by the victorious Brits and French almost a century ago.  After all, Iraq functioned as a state only by the brutal repression of the majority Shia population by the minority Sunni forces that became the Baathist Party of Saddam Hussein.  What's not to like with that?

We didn't let territorial integrity stand in the way when we carved off the ethnic Albanian state of Kosovo from Serbia just as we allowed, even facilitated, the dismemberment of Yugoslavia into its constituencies.

Why then do we so stubbornly reject the partition of Iraq?  Is it because Iraq has vast reserves of oil that we want under unified management more or less beholden to us for its security?

After Afghanistan and Libya, Canada should use this adventure in bombing Iraq and Syria as an object lesson of the perils of enlisting in America's Foreign Legion.  Lesson Number One - just because you have all the King's Men and all the King's Horses doesn't mean you're going to win without plenty of statesmanship and good political and military leadership.

Lesson Number Two - America is currently in a very weird place as its brief unipolar dominance is eroded by the ascendancy of new states, the BRICS. History shows this sort of transition can be (usually is) destabilizing and very dangerous.  We're now at risk of major war breaking out, even if inadvertently, with Russia or, more likely, China.

Lesson Number Three - the world is caught up in several, high-risk arms races. The biggies are in Russia which is rearming against the West - new missiles, new warheads, new subs, new ultra long-range cruise missiles, new bombers, new stealth fighters; China with its new missiles and cyber technologies, new stealth warplanes and rapidly expanding 'blue water' navy for repelling (area denial) American intimidation,  countering the rise of India and expanding its domination (sphere of influence) of southeast and east Asia; and the Middle East which has collectively become the largest importer of Western and Russian armaments and may soon host a nuclear arms race.  This is not a good time to be tied too tightly to a nation that seems too ready to get into wars it's not prepared to win.

Lesson Number Four - we need to focus on our domestic defence needs, sovereignty and security, rather than squandering our forces and treasure on pointless and ineffective adventures on the far side of the planet.  This Foreign Legion role merely drains our resources and leaves us defenceless.  Under Harper our defence budget has fallen to just 0.89% of GDP while, on his watch, every branch of our armed forces has become operationally degraded.

We may be selling $15-billion worth of armoured fighting vehicles to Saudi Arabia for the looming religious holy war but our own army's kit is worn out from our failed mission in Afghanistan.  Our navy is at its lowest state of readiness since pre-WWII and we cannot sail even one task force to defend any of our three coastlines.  Our air force is completely misaligned with the task of securing our vast, sparsely populated north while Putin is vigorously remilitarizing Russia's north in anticipation of his nation's dispute of our territorial claims to the Arctic seabed.  Did we learn nothing from Georgia/Ossetia or Ukraine?  This guy can smell weakness and he's ruthless when it comes to exploiting it.  Harper has reduced Canada to Putin's lawful prey.

Harper may like to play warrior by sending penny packets of jet fighters to carve holes in the sky over the Baltics (now outdated warplanes that would last perhaps 10-minutes against Su-35s) or to drop bombs on ISIS units in Iraq and Syria but with every patrol, every bombing mission he's squandering money badly needed by a defence establishment whose funding he's choking into unconsciousness.  That's what happens when you play with children with guns.




Saturday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - il y a 4 heures 10 min
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Andrew Jackson weighs in on the need for our public policy to ensure a fair initial distribution of income and power in order to ensure that further redistribution is sustainable:
The issue of how to deal with rising inequality and the squeezed middle-class has recently moved to the centre of political debate, with the various parties proposing significant policy changes. International experience suggests that a more equal Canada will require major changes to a wide range of policy levers and not just to the tax and transfer system.

Work by the OECD and others shows that the rising income share of the affluent, especially that of the top 1%, has been mainly driven by rising incomes from the market. Senior executive salaries and bonuses as well as investment returns have grown much more rapidly than the wages of the middle-class and those at the bottom of the income spectrum.

Inequality is mainly an issue of a more unfair “pre-distribution” of income and wealth by the market, driven by such economic forces as globalization, technological change, the decline of union bargaining power and the growing proportion of low paid and insecure jobs.

That said, inequality of after-tax income has been compounded by a trend towards reduced re-distribution through the tax and transfer system. In most countries there has been a move to lower top income tax rates and reduced taxation of corporate profits, as well as cuts to income support programs such as unemployment insurance, welfare and public pensions.
...
Rising inequality is politically self reinforcing to the degree that it increases the political weight of the rich as well the distance between the well-off and everyone else. Extreme inequality sets the stage for a “secession of the affluent” to gated communities and private elite universities and high quality privatized health care.

If market income inequality is allowed to inexorably rise, one can expect even more resistance by the well-off to redistributive policies. This suggests that more must also be done to equalize market incomes. - Scott Santens responds to a laughable set of calculations from the Economist by pointing out how a basic income is entirely affordable. Paul Krugman comments on the disconnect between the privileged few who constantly call for flogging the poor as the answer to any policy question, and the people who are already facing insecurity far beyond what the elites would understand. And Brad Wassink discusses how we should recognize the value of taxes as a means of funding our social rights and responsibilities, while also pointing out that we've allowed our tax system to become unfair by giving in to calls for top-end and corporate giveaways:
In 2005, the total tax rate was an inverted U-shape, progressive from the bottom to the middle, but regressive thereafter. So much so, that the top one per cent paid a lower tax rate (30.5 per cent) than the bottom 10 per cent (30.7 per cent). As our tax code exacerbates income inequality, we fail in our responsibility to protect the rights of low-income Canadians to live in dignity.

Canadians get a good deal when we pay our taxes. By pooling our resources, we are able to purchase better and more efficient services than we ever could on our own. And the benefit most Canadians receive from public services exceeds the amount we contribute.

So where do we go from here?

First, we need to be less squeamish about discussing taxation. According to data from the OECD and the UN, countries that invest in public programs enjoy higher levels of well-being. This story is not always being told, but it needs to be emphasized.

Second, we need to engage our political representatives in this discussion. Their policies and actions are usually a response to what they hear while out canvassing or reading their mail. So when they promise us lower taxes, it's likely because it's what they think we want from them. They won't know any better until we tell them otherwise.

Third, we need to vote. Polls have shown that Canadians support progressive taxation, yet our tax code doesn't reflect this. This isn't hard to comprehend when we think about the fact that just 61 per cent of registered voters cast a ballot in 2011. Low voter turnout is yet another way in which we are not living up to our responsibilities to each other.

We each owe it to the rest of Canadians to contribute our time, our energy, our money, and our vote to contribute to the common good.- Hassan Yussuff makes the case for the federal government to genuinely expand the universal Canada Pension Plan to ensure a secure living upon retirement. And Lana Payne makes abundantly clear that the Cons' last-minute trial balloon about allowing people with spare money to put it into the CPP without employer contributions falls far short of offering a real alternative.

- David Howell and Bill Mah report that Rachel Notley's NDP government is following through on its campaign promise to increase Alberta's minimum wage to $15, with a first step to be taken by this fall. And David Olive argues that Canadian workers need to make more use of holidays already provided to them by law.

- Finally, Alexander Knight offers a thorough review of the dangers of the Cons' terror legislation. Janel Johnson reports on the Canadian Bar Association's call for Canadians to protest and be heard before their ability to do so is taken away. And Andrew Mitrovica highlights the need for citizens to keep challenging the lack of justification for C-51 and the risks of abuse even as the Cons ram it through Parliament.

MacKay and the road dishonestly taken

Dammit Janet - il y a 4 heures 27 min

I gather that Peter MacKay is leaving politics, and some folks appear to be doing the dutiful "nice opponent" farewell hymns. For my part, I have absolutely zero respect for Peter MacKay -- and not just because he's been a loyal Harper toady as well as being a completely embarrassing clown and incompetent. Rather, every single moment of his career since he signed the agreement with David Orchard that he never intended to keep has been bought with that very colossal lie. If he felt he could not keep that agreement with Orchard, he should have resigned and left politics. We would, mercifully, never have heard of him again, but at the very least, he would have kept some measure of integrity. But it's long been clear to him that that matters not a whit. At least we can say of Stevie that he believes in something. I'm guessing that this is just about Petey being bright enough to see the writing on the wall.

He Won't Be Missed

Politics and its Discontents - il y a 6 heures 32 min

H/t Michael de Adder

Anyone who regularly reads this blog will know that I (along with guest posters The Salamander and The Mound of Sound) regard Peter MacKay as just one of far too many blights on the political landscape, perhaps distinguished only by his less-than-pedestrian intellect and very public absence of integrity. The most egregious example of the latter occurred during a very public soul-selling transaction (most such deals, I assume, go on behind closed political doors). After promising David Orchard during what turned out to be the final leadership convention of the federal Progressive Conservatives that he would never merge the party with Alliance/Reform if he backed him for the leadership, a scant few weeks later MacKay showed the stuff of which he is made and did just that.

And with no apparent shame.

Undoubtedly, as occurs when a politician leaves the stage, a certain hagiography will develop around the departing MacKay. Happily, Andrew Coyne has no intention of joining in such an disingenuous charade. The title of his National Post piece says it all:

Peter MacKay was a politician of many titles, but little achievement
Harper made him his first foreign affairs minister, an appointment that caused great puzzlement in Ottawa, though not nearly as much as in other capitals, where the notion that the foreign minister should be something other than a placeholder for the prime minister still holds.

After 18 unmemorable months at Foreign Affairs, he replaced Gordon O’Connor at National Defence, where he oversaw a string of procurement bungles culminating in the F-35, whose costs the government understated by a factor of five, staving off Parliament’s demands for the real figures just long enough to win re-election.Yet McKay's incompetence seemed to propel him to even greater heights of imeptitude within the Harper cabinet:
Then it was off to Justice, where he was responsible for shepherding a number of bills through Parliament that seemed almost designed to be found unconstitutional, even as Justice department lawyers were losing case after case at the Supreme Court. Other than that, he is best remembered for his commandeering a military helicopter as personal transportation back from a fishing lodge, plus his broken romance with Belinda Stronach, after which he posed in a photo-op with with a borrowed dog as he 'licked' his romantic wounds.

Oh yes, according to Coyne, he also likes to play rugby.

What does MacKay's 'peter principle' rise ultimately tell us? Here is Coyne's uncompromising take:
His career at the top of Canadian politics tells us more about the state of Canadian politics than anything else. That such a palpable cipher could have remained in high office for nearly a decade is a testament to many things: the thinness of the Tory front bench, the decline of cabinet, the prime minister’s cynicism, the media’s readiness to go along with the joke. The one thing it does not signify is his importance. He had all of the titles, but little influence, and less achievement. For me a cathartic article and post and a very welcome but overdue political departure.

Recommend this Post

He Will Long Be Forgotten

Northern Reflections - il y a 7 heures 59 min
                                             http://www.thestar.com/

Peter Mackay's departure has generated a lot of commentary. Michael Harris writes that another brick has fallen out of the wall:

Fortress Harper has just seen another huge breach blown in the castle walls. Peter MacKay, the last of the former Progressive Conservatives serving at the time of the Canadian Alliance/PC merger, is walking away from the Harper government just months before the biggest battle of the party’s life.
And, in case you've forgotten, his exit mirrored Stephen Harper's:

Oddly enough, Stephen Harper did the same thing himself back in 1997 when he quit the Reform Party. Harper quit because he believed Reform was going to lose. (They actually became the Official Opposition.) And MacKay was the cabinet minister who said the Tory caucus was like a “morgue” after the recent Alberta election went to the NDP — perhaps a sign for him that big political changes were on the horizon.

Something is happening in Harperland. Over the last two years, the prime minister's A team has simply got up and walked away. Andrew Coyne, however, believes that Mackay really wasn't A team material:

Harper made him his first foreign affairs minister, an appointment that caused great puzzlement in Ottawa, though not nearly as much as in other capitals, where the notion that the foreign minister should be something other than a placeholder for the prime minister still holds. More importantly, he was given responsibility for ACOA, his father’s old firm, in which he carried on the family tradition with alacrity.

After 18 unmemorable months at Foreign Affairs, he replaced Gordon O’Connor at National Defence, where he oversaw a string of procurement bungles culminating in the F-35, whose costs the government understated by a factor of five, staving off Parliament’s demands for the real figures just long enough to win re-election.

Then it was off to Justice, where he was responsible for shepherding a number of bills through Parliament that seemed almost designed to be found unconstitutional, even as Justice department lawyers were losing case after case at the Supreme Court.
Mackay was, like Harper himself, all hat and no cattle:

That such a palpable cipher could have remained in high office for nearly a decade is a testament to many things: the thinness of the Tory front bench, the decline of cabinet, the prime minister’s cynicism, the media’s readiness to go along with the joke. The one thing it does not signify is his importance. He had all of the titles, but little influence, and less achievement.
He will long be forgotten.


The Desperate Loneliness of Stephen Harper

Montreal Simon - il y a 8 heures 44 sec


I've watched a lot of Stephen Harper speeches over the years, but the farewell speech he gave for Peter MacKay yesterday had to be one of the most bizarre.

For not only was Harper strangely agitated, and managing to look both cheerful and horribly lonely at the same time.

What was supposed to be MacKay's political obituary ended up sounding like an obituary for his own government.

As well it might be. 

Because yesterday couldn't have been more of a disastrous day.
Read more »

Did the RCMP Release the Zehaf-Bibeau Tape for Political Reasons?

Montreal Simon - il y a 11 heures 14 min


I'm not big on conspiracy theories, although I do believe that when living in Harperland paranoia can be a higher state of consciousness.

But here's one for you: 

Why did the RCMP choose yesterday to release the unseen video of the crazed gunman who stormed Parliament Hill? 
Read more »

6,000 aboriginal children died in residential school system, report finds

Metaneos - ven, 05/29/2015 - 20:20
CBC News
A number. A concrete number. 6000.
Of tens of thousands of students, 6000 or more, didn't return home.
Y'know, I can't even imagine the first generation of students, what they thought, experienced. Perhaps they had some hope, some trepidation of this new institution. They, at least, had some genuine curiosity.
It was an entrance to the white man's world. Well, it was supposed to have been.
Instead, it was a meat grinder for the mind. And a bloodstain on the soul.
6000 stories, untold.

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - ven, 05/29/2015 - 17:50
Royksopp & Robyn - Monument

The Abominable Legacy of the Con Clown Peter MacKay

Montreal Simon - ven, 05/29/2015 - 14:46


Well I see Peter Dumbo MacKay is going to have a lot more time for fishing, and has  announced that he is finally resigning.

And since politicians of all parties are falling over themselves to praise him, I thought I should take some time to set the record straight.

And remind everyone of his abominable legacy. 
Read more »

Socrates: One of my favourite philosopher

LeDaro - ven, 05/29/2015 - 11:55
As a university student I never took a course in philosophy but I have great interest in philosophy. One of my favourite philosopher is Socrates. Here is an interesting quote:


Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - ven, 05/29/2015 - 09:28
Assorted content to end your week.

- Dylan Matthews reports on Joseph Stiglitz' work in studying what kinds of systemic changes (in addition to more redistribution of wealth) are needed to ensure a fair and prosperous economy. And Martin O'Neill discusses James Meade's prescient take on the importance of social assets:
Meade therefore came to endorse the extension of the traditional welfare state through the parallel pursuit of both the spread of private property-ownership across all members of society – his ‘property-owning democracy’, which would involve steep taxation of inheritance and capital transfers – and at the same time building up the state’s store of democratic, public capital. If the future were to bring a shift in the sources of prosperity from labour to capital, then we would need to construct an economy in which everyone could benefit from that shift, both as individuals and collectively as democratic citizens.

While Meade’s diagnosis of the central distributive problems of capitalism largely predicted Piketty’s, his proposals were in some ways rather more radical. Rather than the state having continually to keep running faster and faster to suppress growing inequality through more ambitious forms of redistributive taxation, Meade instead wanted to reform the rules of property-ownership so that trends in capitalism’s development could be made to work for all. Instead of accelerating redistribution, Meade’s proposal involved a radical form of predistribution – a reallocation of property-rights that would completely restructure each individual’s position and bargaining power within the market economy, through giving everyone both a capital stake and a non-labour source of income.- And Zack Beauchamp charts Branko Milanovic's findings on the massive unfairness and inequality for workers between countries.

- Rowan Lee points out that Bill Gates for one doesn't buy the argument that low taxes have anything to do with economic growth.

- Murray Dobbin examines the place of free trade deals in converting our commonwealth into private profits, with no room for democratic responses. And Sunny Freeman notes that Joe Oliver is trying to push countries to make it even easier for employers to shed any obligation to workers. But David Dayen offers an interesting (if only partial) fix, suggesting that trade agreements should be paired with the ability for workers to sue multinational corporations along with their international affiliates and contracting partners for abuses.

- Finally, Duncan Cameron argues that the NDP is now the obvious choice for Canadian progressive voters from both a strategic and a principled standpoint. And Lawrence Martin echoes the theme that the election may come down to the question of which opposition leader serves as the rallying point for change - with Tom Mulcair ranking as the better option.

Harper is pandering to the victims of communism…

Trashy's World - ven, 05/29/2015 - 05:37
… in fighting tooth and nail to have it located in one of the most iconic spaces in the Parliamentary Precinct. That is obvious and typical Harper. And City Council thought they should have at least been consulted about this. After all, the proposed redevelopment of Tunney’s Pasture and the old Rockcliffe air base have been through […]

Omar Khadr: A Powerful Refutation Of The Harper Narrative

Politics and its Discontents - ven, 05/29/2015 - 05:31
If you saw last night's documentary on Omar Khadr, like me, perhaps you came away feeling some awe at the remarkable resilience of the human spirit. Unless you believe Khadr is a master actor manipulating all of us, you could not have seen the film without a resulting deep respect for his maturity, intelligence, and remarkable insights that one could only hope to see in a much older person; I daresay many of us (me included) cannot claim such insightful equanimity. That those qualities could have emerged out of the crucible of his horrendous years in Guantanamo almost defies understanding.

Toward the end of the interview, Khadr reflects on a question he is often asked: if he could change the past, would he? His answer was that except for the firefight (in which he may or may not have killed Christopher Speers), he is not so sure he would change things, as it was through his years of imprisonment that he learned about himself and became the person he is today,

All of which stands as a powerful refutation of the Harper narrative of the former child soldier as an irredeemable terrorist who poses an ongoing threat to the Canadian public.

It occurs to me that Omar Khadr serves as a kind of personal Rorschach test; to reject him out of hand is perhaps to mirror something cold and dark within one's own psyche; to admit the possibility of his redemption perhaps points to something powerful and positive that resides within.

The former child soldier also challenges us as a country. Do the values that have traditionally made Canada such an enviable country still reside here? Are tolerance, acceptance and compassion still some of the markers of our national character? Or have they been fatally subverted by a federal government all too content to demonize, divide, and stoke hatred and intolerance of "the other'?

My own description of the documentary has purposely been brief; watch it as time permits and form your own view of Omar Khadr:

Recommend this Post

The Wright Thing

Northern Reflections - ven, 05/29/2015 - 04:19
                                               http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/

The Duffy trial is about to resume. The question hanging over the proceedings is: What will Nigel Wright say when he takes the stand? Michael Harris writes:

It is doubtful that Nigel Wright will endorse [Donald] Bayne’s argument that the demonizing of Duffy was a “fraud, a fiction and a lie.” But will he cover for the prime minister?

People who know Wright say he will not. For one thing, he’s a lawyer who understands the oath and, at the best of times, uses language like a man defusing a bomb. This is the worst of times, so Nigel will be checking his zipper twice before leaving the loo. For another, he’s a businessman who could be ruined by taking one for the team, because the truth might seep out elsewhere.

People who know Stephen Harper suspect that prime minister is in for a rough ride:

One iconic Conservative player (who once described the PM as a “lying weasel”) told me Harper might be able to survive Duffy’s acquittal — but not being caught telling a big lie. In that player’s opinion, Harper is in for a rude awakening. Under oath, with the right questions, and with a judge who will allow some latitude in Bayne’s questioning, the truth will come out. It’s one thing to be thrown under the bus. It’s quite another to crawl under it yourself — with your hand on the Bible.
Meanwhile, the Senate is doing its best to close the closet door:

Now, in a state of decorous pandemonium, the Senate is disgracing itself yet again — trying to use parliamentary privilege to keep information vital to Duffy’s defence secret. The Senate leadership is stepping on old men, women and children in a mad rush for the lifeboats. They are devising an escape for the forty or so other Duffys and Wallins and Brazeaus who will soon be thrashing around in the wider net cast by Auditor General Michael Ferguson and his $21 million audit.
It will be fascinating to watch and listen when Nigel does the Wright Thing.


Michael Harris: The Three Ways Nigel Wright Could Hurt Stephen Harper

Montreal Simon - ven, 05/29/2015 - 03:33


As you know the trial of Mike Duffy resumes on Monday, and as you imagine Stephen Harper must be shaking like a leaf, or a coward in a closet.

Or tossing and turning in his bed at night, wondering when Nigel Wright might be called to the stand. 

And asked to explain, among other things, what exactly Boss Harper meant when he told his faithful henchman that the plan to bury a scandal  was "good to go."

Because as Michael Harris writes, while the trial may be farcical.
Read more »

Apologies for the error in the previous post.

Metaneos - ven, 05/29/2015 - 02:21
Fixed. I meant to swear at the BC Liberals.

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