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Stephen Harper - Just Another Tory Dirtbag

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 14:26

Duffy's clean. Which means somebody has to be dirty. Somebody orchestrated this political show trial. Somebody decided to go for a full-bore prosecution with no fewer than 31-charges. Somebody has been lying ever since the day that Duffy's unfortunately email was leaked to CTV.

There's no plausible denial left for Stephen Harper. Not this time. Not after Duffy was acquitted of all 31-charges. Not after what Justice Vaillancourt had to say about this "mind-boggling and shocking" scheme. The judge didn't just pronounce Duffy "not guilty," he found him not remotely blameworthy. Duffy wasn't acquitted, he was exonerated. There's a legal dynamic at play in that.

Nigel Wright is no longer everybody's Boy Scout. No, now he's another Tory Dirtbag. Ray Novak? Ditto. The Senate Tory leadership who participated in this scheme, including LeBreton, Tkachuk and Stewart-Olsen? Oh yeah, them too. Arthur Hamilton? Probably. About the only one of the principals who comes out unscathed is Ben Perrin, the whistleblower. Whether he acted out of principle or merely saw the writing on the wall we may never know. Perhaps it doesn't much matter.

What a fitting way for Stephen Harper to leave federal politics - in utter disgrace.

Duffy Walks, Harper Convicted

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 14:01

For Prince Edward Island senator, Mike Duffy, it was a 31-0 shutout. For Stephen Harper, it's a legacy of disgrace.

Mr. Justice Vaillancourt acquitted Duffy of all 31 charges. He found Duffy to be "a piece on a chessboard" of a scheme orchestrated by a prime minister's office he condemned as "mind-boggling and shocking."

It should be a matter of days before the announcement of the retirement of RCMP Commish Bob Paulson. He was at the helm when the "immaculate bribery" charge was orchestrated.

The next question is how does Duffy recoup the roughly half-million in legal fees this trial has cost him? There are a lot of Tory senators and other party officials who are probably searching for transcripts of what unfortunate remarks they might have made back when they were in thrall to Harper. Not all of their comments were defamatory but a good many were and they were dripping with malice.

Will his fellow senators be collegial when the Cavendish Cottager arrives to reclaim his seat in the upper house? Are we about to see the Tory ranks in the Senate hastily thinned out?

UPDATE -  31 acquittals, straight across the board. The most impressive aspect to that is the rarity of it. Who gets charged with 31-crimes and gets found "not guilty"? But this judge, Vaillancourt, went further than that. Time and again he found nothing wrong in Duffy's conduct. That's not an acquittal. It's exoneration.

This raises the question that won't go away. When there was no blameworthy conduct, nothing approaching criminal conduct, in so many of these charges, whose idea was it to lay the charges? Why did the Crown even proceed? Who was pushing this all along? Yeah, you're right.

What now? There's a dandy tort anchored in the ancient Common Law, the tort of "malicious prosecution." A 31 to zero acquittal outcome certainly establishes a prima facie case of malicious prosecution. Not even one conviction? None?

And who will be the defendants? Stephen Harper, Nigel Wright, Ray Novak, LeBreton, Tkachuk and Stewart-Olsen, Hamilton? Probably.  Ooh, we might finally get to see Stephen Harper being cross-examined under oath.

Sweet dreams.

Is Christy Clark Selling Out British Columbia?

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 08:52

We thought the Northern Gateway pipeline initiative was dead. We thought that northern British Columbia was safe. Maybe not.

Has Christy Clark cut a quid pro quo deal with Alberta that would see the Northern Gateway pipeline brought back to life? A report in the National Observer claims that the BC and Alberta governments are in negotiations that would see Northern Gateway cleared for operation in exchange for which the Tar Sands would buy hydro-electricity from Christy's Folly, the Site C dam.

DDD - Duffy's Date with Destiny, But Who's That Sitting Beside Him in the Prisoner's Dock?

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 08:43

Mike Duffy isn't the only Conservative on trial today. With him in the prisoner's dock are Stephen Harper, Nigel Wright and the cast and crew of Harper's PMO.

From the conflicting evidence given during the six-week trial, it was obvious that somebody was telling the truth and somebody, or a lot of somebodies, were, shall we say, less than truthful.  We've already got a hint how that's likely to play out. That came when the presiding judge, Justice Charles Vaillancourt, found the Cavendish Cottager to have been an "overall credible witness."

The judge also pointed out that on a number of charges the Crown chose not to lead evidence or even cross-examine Duffy which means that, left uncontradicted, Duffy's account stands.

What I'm waiting for is the point at which Justice Vaillancourt gets to the hand grenade in the story - Benjamin Perrin, former counsel to the Harper PMO and Harper's personal lawyer. Among other things, Perrin testified that it was clear what Nigel Wright's "good to go" email meant - that Stephen Harper had approved Wright's 90K payment to Duffy. With that bit of evidence, Perrin not only contradicted Nigel Wright but also the evidence of Harper's sockpuppet/valet, Ray Novak.

You may recall that, during the election campaign, Perrin made it known just what he thought of Stephen Harper when he issued a blunt statement that the prime minister and "lost the moral authority to govern."

It's Perrin's evidence that defines this entire prosecution, not only as a run of the mill criminal case, but as a political persecution aimed at transforming Duffy into Harper's sacrificial goat.

Duffy may still be convicted for funneling Senate monies to his disabled pal. That might explain why judge Vaillancourt described him as an overall credible witness.

Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 08:01
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Owen Jones argues that public policy and social activism are needed to rein in the excesses of a corporate class which sees it as its job to extract every possible dollar from the society around it:
A financial elite plunged the country into calamity and effectively got away with it unscathed, while workers suffered the longest period of reduced pay since the Victorian era. Meanwhile public services, social security and secure jobs were slashed. It has become increasingly clear – as the Panama Papers underscored – that a significant chunk of our economic elite simply do not like paying tax in this country.

The problem is that this injustice is met with resignation, rather than anger. While rage at the smaller misdemeanours of the poor – such as benefit fraud – seems easy to stir, destructive behaviour on this far greater scale is discussed like the weather. The rich pay themselves ludicrous sums of money, major corporations avoid tax, sometimes it rains. It’s this resignation – stemming from a lack of faith in any viable alternative – that feeds the triumphalism of the powerful, enabling them to engage in behaviour that is ultimately destructive to the health of their beloved capitalism itself.
The High Pay Centre is right to argue for workers’ representation on remuneration boards. Stronger trade unions would also mean countervailing pressure against the concentration of wealth and power in such few hands. And protests by the likes of UK Uncut highlight the injustice of tax avoidance. All this could be helpful.

But the problem with executives such as Bob Dudley isn’t just them – it’s also us. For until we shake off this weary resignation, the well–heeled will continue to enjoy their decadent party – in the knowledge that we’re the ones paying for it.- But of course, the Libs are headed in the direction of further privileging the corporate sector. On that front, Steven Chase reports on their refusal to allow any Parliamentary study of arms exports, while Peter Mazereeuw notes their demurral on any discussion of accountability for exploitative mining operators. 

- PressProgress highlights the fact that the underpayment of women is a matter of systemic discrimination, not personal choice. And Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood examines how the Trans-Pacific Partnership will entrench a corporate right to low-wage labour at the expense of workers throughout the Pacific region.

- Which should be a problem for all concerned, as Duff McCutcheon argues that a living wage can be just as beneficial for the employer who provides it as for the employees who earn it.

- Finally, Susan Peters discusses how poverty and other social determinants of health are finding their way into patients' medical evaluations.

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 07:47
Here, on how political fund-raising scandals in Ontario and British Columbia only highlight the complete lack of rules governing donations in Saskatchewan.

For further reading...
- SCOTUS' Citizens United decision is here (PDF). And Michael Hiltzik discussed its effect after the fact, while Charles Wohlforth offered a personal view on how fund-raising affects political decision-making.
- Martin Regg Cohn broke the news about Ontario's fund-raising quotas for cabinet ministers here. And Adrian Morrow followed up by exposing both a fund-raiser closely tied to the Hydro One privatization's beneficiaries, and the connection between corporate subsidies and donations.
- Meanwhile, Gary Mason reported on Christy Clark's five-figure access fees. And the CP reported on the dividing line between the B.C. Libs who want to keep the status quo as long as they can, and the NDP which is pushing for limits.
- The Globe and Mail's series on money and politics featured a column on Saskatchewan's particularly outdated rules governing political donations. And Tammy Robert has been reviewing the current state of donations in Saskatchewan.
- Finally, the CP surveys fund-raising rules across Canada. And Duff Conacher points out that any province looking to remove big-money donations from its political system will find a prime example in Quebec.

Obama: On Bended Knee To The Saudis

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 07:12
I'll defer to others much better versed than I am in the vagaries of international politics to offer a more informed analysis, but the recent deference of the U.S. toward Saudi Arabia warrants a closer look. Despite, or perhaps because of, an unfortunate recent characterization by Barack Obama of the repressive Middle East kingdom as free riders eager to drag others into the region's sectarian conflicts, he has made a 'mea culpa trip there to soothe over tensions.

But why the apparent deference? The obvious answer involves the Saudis' massive oil deposits as well as their strategic location, but another issue has arisen in which the American president is acting as a hindrance to those 9/11 survivors who want to sue Saudi Arabia:

As you can see, a real fear is the Saudis' threat to liquidate $750 billion in American holdings. That fear has likely prompted this deferential visit by an American president. Better, it seems, to deny your citizens justice than to face an economic upheaval.

The argument that Obama gives for trying to impede the bipartisan bill that would allow citizens to sue the Saudi Arabian government seems weak to me. He claims it could open the floodgates to other countries suing the U.S., but as far as I know, there is nothing to prevent such action now. The following report probably offers the most realistic assessment of the sorry situation:

The Saudis have consistently received special and deferential treatment from the U.S. Some will recall that shortly after 9/11, when all air traffic in the U.S. was grounded, a group of Saudis, including relatives of bin Laden, was whisked back to their kingdom. And as indicated in the above video, now it is trying to keep classified 28 pages of a congressional report into the attack.

Vox says this:
In 2002, shortly after a Joint Congressional Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks concluded its report, the Bush administration ordered that the inquiry permanently seal a 28-page section that investigated possible Saudi government links to the attack. It has remained sealed ever since.

Some members of Congress who have read the report, but are barred from revealing its contents, describe it as potentially damning. An unnamed member of Congress told the New Yorker, "The real question is whether it was sanctioned at the royal-family level or beneath that, and whether these leads were followed through."

"The 28 pages primarily relate to who financed 9/11, and they point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier," former Sen. Bob Graham, who is leading the charge to release the document, said in February.It is an unwarranted protection of Saudi interests that must end, according to Andrew C. McCarthy, who, as described in a Wikipedia entry, led
the 1995 terrorism prosecution against Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and eleven others. The defendants were convicted of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and planning a series of attacks against New York City landmarks.[4] He also contributed to the prosecutions of terrorists who bombed US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He resigned from the Justice Department in 2003.Says McCarthy,
it is long, long past time — for the United States government to come clean with the American people, and with the families of Americans slaughtered on 9/11 by 19 jihadists, 15 of them Saudis. The government must disclose the 28 pages of the 2002 congressional report on the 9/11 attacks that it has shamefully withheld from the public for 14 years. Those pages outline Saudi complicity in the jihad.

It is nothing short of disgraceful that the Bush and Obama administrations, relying on the president’s constitutional authority over foreign intelligence and the conduct of foreign affairs, have concealed these materials.
Injustice frequently prevails in our fractured world. Despite all of the public clamour, I somehow doubt anything will soon change for those victims of terrorism currently seeking redress.
Recommend this Post

New Pipelines Don't Make Sense

Northern Reflections - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 04:53

 "Tidewater." For the oil industry, that's Nirvana. Get Canadian oil to tidewater, the barons say, and our economic future will be rosy. But that argument no longer holds water -- or oil. Eugene Kung writes:

A number of years ago this argument may have been true, especially when you ignore the economic, environmental and social costs not captured by market prices (which economists call "externalities").

But we live in a different world today. Oil prices have plummeted and are forecasted to stay low for some time. The U.S. is now a major producer of oil that is cheaper than that from the oil sands, and it recently lifted its 40-year ban on exporting oil. In addition, solar and wind power are now "crushing" fossil fuels, with investment nearly double that of oil and coal combined in 2015. And finally, the world came together in Paris and agreed to aim to hold global temperature increase to 1.5 C, which necessarily requires a decarbonization of the global economy.

All of these factors mean that the economic case for getting oil to tidewater by pipeline in Canada has evaporated.
Even some of the oil barons are beginning to sing a different tune:

Last month, a brief from Oil Change International debunked the economic myth of tidewater access and concluded that producers of Canadian oil are already getting the best possible price through existing pipelines to the U.S., which access the largest heavy oil market in the world.

The brief discusses why Western Canadian Select (WCS) -- the key Canadian benchmark for heavy oil -- trades at a discount to other benchmarks such as West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the primary benchmark for U.S. Gulf Coast and Midwest oil. The two key factors are quality and geography: WCS trades for less than WTI because it is lower quality crude that is more expensive to refine, and it must travel longer distances to refineries.
Economics has caught up with the oil sands. And Alberta is in for a rough ride. But the sooner everyone gets used to the idea that there will be no new pipelines, we can move forward.

Image: nationalpost.com

The Con Propaganda Machine's Latest Assault on Justin Trudeau

Montreal Simon - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 01:44

It seems a long time ago since the days when the Cons were bombarding us with their foul attack ads.

Attacking Justin Trudeau over and over again, with ads that always ended by claiming that he's "just not ready."

Until the day he proved he was indeed ready, and crushed them beyond recognition.

But their ghastly propaganda machine survived the onslaught, and is still grinding out the same old garbage.
Read more »

The Liberals and the Legalization of Marijuana

Montreal Simon - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 20:02

Wednesday was National Weed Day or 4/20 day, when all over Canada and the world people gather to celebrate cannabis culture and smoke up.

So one has to commend the Liberal government for the timing of this announcement. 

Federal legislation to legalize marijuana will be ready in a year, Canada's health minister told the UN at a special session of the General Assembly in New York today.

"We will introduce legislation in spring 2017 that ensures we keep marijuana out of the hands of children and profits out of the hands of criminals," Jane Philpott said in her prepared speech to delegates. 

Even though the timing for legalization does seem to me to be a little on the slow side.
Read more »

Who's Singing Ukraine's Praises Now?

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 18:58

The easy answer is - nobody. Everybody in the West was solidly pro-Ukraine during the Euromaidan revolution that swept from power the country's elected, corrupt and pro-Moscow president Yanukovych. We were all chanting "Ukraine forever" as the country descended into civil war. We talked about war when Putin boldly annexed the Crimea territory.  Shifty Steve even gave Putin a face-to-face "Get out of Crimea" smackdown in Australia.

That was then, this is now. We were reluctant to acknowledge what Ukraine's critics were telling us but now we sheepishly accept that the post-revolution Ukraine government is hopelessly corrupt and in the iron grip of oligarchs with shady credentials. The hope for democracy in Ukraine is on the ropes, perhaps about to go down for the count.

In February, leading reformers in the economic ministry and the Prosecutor General’s Office resigned in frustration, accusing officials tied to President Poroshenko of blocking their efforts to rid Ukraine of the scourge of corruption. Although Poroshenko finally sacked his widely hated prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, this was primarily thanks to growing pressure from Western officials. Even still, Shokin managed to do plenty of damage on his way out the door, firing his only remaining reformist deputy and forbidding prosecutors from referring cases to new anti-corruption institutions.
What’s more, Ukraine’s old guard — left over from before the Euromaidan revolution swept away President Yanukovych in 2014 — appears increasingly willing to subvert the country’s democratic development to silence critics. Using a much-criticized law enacted in February, President Poroshenko’s own party expelled two critical lawmakers from the parliament. The cabinet of ministers banned civil servants from criticizing the country’s leaders. Perhaps worst of all (and despite Shokin’s departure), the prosecutor’s office took a page from the Kremlin’s playbook when it used trumped-up charges of misappropriating American aid money to raid the offices of the Anti-Corruption Action Center, Ukraine’s leading non-governmental anti-corruption group.
On February 10, [IMF chief, Christine] Lagarde warned that Ukraine could lose aid if it didn’t take stronger steps to fight graft — but on the next day, she backtracked after what she termed a “constructive” conversation with Poroshenko. Biden also told Poroshenko to speed up reforms, but guaranteed another $335 million in aid during the same meeting. These kinds of mixed messages simply won’t cut it anymore. Western donors have already spent tens of billions of dollars propping up Ukraine. It’s time to use that leverage to force Kiev’s recalcitrant officials to implement the anti-corruption reforms its own citizens are demanding.

One of their top demands is fixing Ukraine’s horrifically corrupt judicial system. Only five percent of Ukraine’s citizens trust their judges — and no wonder, since so many take bribes. The Interior Minister even argued that the entire court system be shut down for three months while a new one is built from scratch. While this isn’t realistic, RPR has laid out an agenda for judicial reform that involves restructuring the courts and establishing new procedures for selecting judges and evaluating their performance. The RPR also proposesan agenda to reform the country’s prosecution service. The implementation of these or similar reforms must be an absolute condition for any further financial assistance for Kiev.

What to do? There's some suggestion that the U.S. should go back to its time-honoured approach and start meddling in Ukraine's domestic affairs again, this time by pouring money into the opposition. Sort of like the same thing they did when they intervened to topple Yanukovych. Maybe it'll be third time lucky.
I'll bet old Vlad Putin is getting a chuckle out of this.

Neoliberalism - Time to Cut Deep and See What's Really Inside

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 15:03
I've been caught up in a lot of musings lately about neoliberalism and the vice-like grip it has taken on Canada and other Western democracies. From everything I've read, learned and experienced, I think it is a grave threat to liberal democracy, Canadian society and the future of our children and grandchildren.

How do we deal with this neoliberal web? How are we going to come to grips with what it was intended to be, back when it was sold to us, and what it has instead become? How are we to understand the workings of what's falsely labeled "free market capitalism" and how much of our national sovereignty has been surrendered in our names under a succession of free trade agreements, each seemingly worse than the last?

I've got an idea, one from the now distant past. Why not convene a Royal Commission of Inquiry. It's a wonderful resource that Canada has been employing since 1868. It's a rich history of inquiries into such things as the railways; labour and capital; the transportation of goods through Canadian ports; the penal system; regulating the banking industry; industrial relations; radio broadcasting; revision of the criminal code; health services; taxation; the status of women; media concentration and newspapers; reproductive technologies and aboriginal rights and more.

Why not a top to bottom exploration of neoliberalism, what it has done for and what it has done to Canada and what it holds for our future? There are a lot of interests that would not welcome that sort of scrutiny and exposure, perhaps our own government among them.

Many of us don't recognize it but neoliberalism is a huge and pervasive part of our lives and it is shaping Canada into something we may not like and might come to regret - if only too late.

Yes, let's demand from this government a Commission of Enquiry into neoliberalism in Canada. The sooner, the better.

Update: if you're not up to speed on neoliberalism, you could do worse than to read this piece by The Guardian's George Monbiot.

MOAR Silent No More

Dammit Janet - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 13:06
Found on the Saskatchewan Pro Life website (bold mine):

Canada Silent No More needs Testimonies.

URGENT: We are collecting testimony declarations from women who have been hurt or damaged physically, emotionally or who got breast cancer, cervical damage, had a subsequent pre-term birth, infertility, suffered depression, turned to alcohol and drugs, had suicidal thoughts or attempts etc? We want to hear from you. We are looking for brave and courageous women to testify to the Supreme Court of Canada on how legal abortion has hurt them. You are not alone. If you know any former abortion patients, please have them message me, k. Also we need pro life groups to distribute our declaration forms...the US has over 5,000, we would like to get at least 500. We have over 100 declarations so far. Thank you so much for your prayers and support!! God bless you!Plus a link to Denise Mountenay's Facebook page, where she says she is the "Founder/President" of Canada Silent No More.

And a link to a pdf form to fill out. The form is titled "Testimony Declaration" and stipulates that it is to be filled out by women who have had an abortion.

(Click to embiggen)

It asks for age, dates(s) and location(s) of abortion(s), whether the testifier (is that a word?) was adequately informed of the risks of abortion, whether she was coerced into it/them.

Then there's this: "Were you ever informed of any link between abortion and Breast Cancer (BC)?" (yes, capitalized) with yes/no boxes to tick.

Follow-up question: "Have you had Breast Cancer, or any lumps or cysts removed, or cervical cancer since your abortion(s)?" Yes/no boxes, with request to give details.

Then three more questions on Physical Complications (yes, capitalized again), "depression, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, etc." Some space to give details.

Signature/date lines, some boxes to tick about whether the person is willing to let her name be used etc., then an identification section asking for full name, email and mailing address, phone number.

If this were a poll, which it is in a way, it would be called a "push poll."

I don't think I need to remind DJ! readers that THERE IS NO LINK BETWEEN ABORTION AND BREAST CANCER.

But I had never seen abortion connected with cervical cancer before and googling "abortion cervical cancer" returns only fetus freak sites.

Further inspection of the Canada Silent No More site reveals a "testimonies" section, which is three pages of snippets of stories with links to their continuation, oddly, all posted on January 26, 2016.

There is no mention anywhere on the site that I could find of the Supreme Court of Canada and I feel pretty confident in saying that if there were an abortion case coming up before the SCC, I'd know about it.

So WTF is this about? Who is Denise Mountebank, er, Mountenay, and why is she collecting this information? Why is she leading people to believe they will have a chance to "testify" about their abortions to the Supreme Court?

And while we're asking questions: What *is* Canada Silent No More?

There already is a Silent No More organization with a Canadian chapter. Angelina Steenstra is National Coordinator for Canada.

On the Canadian page, there's this repressive little note at the end:
Canada Silent No More is a separate organization and is not affiliated with Silent No More Awareness Campaign Canada.
Oooh, dissent in FetusFreakLand?

After all, there is room for just so many *inspirational* "I had an abortion boohooooo" speakers in the market.

Will both organizations make an appearance at the upcoming Futility Fest on the Hill? Will unpleasantness ensue?

Angelina: I'm Silent No More!

Denise: No! I'm Silent No More!

Angelina: I'm More Silenter No More than you are!

Denise: I'm the Most Silent No More!



Trump Support Falters

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 10:30

Okay, well not so much. Still it's one sure vote that DJT can no longer count on. And for the record, it wasn't S.J. Harper, it was J.J. Harper, and, no, there's no relation as far as anyone can tell.

J.J. Harper was, until today, the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan in Georgia. J.J. died of lead poisoning today after a shootout with law enforcement. The cops were called to a domestic dispute.

Law enforcement confirmed Harper's involvement in the white supremacy movement.

"Yes, he was. He had a membership drive on the courthouse steps," said Deputy David Grantham with the Dooly County Sheriff's Office.

During the standoff, Harper told officers and various news outlets that "someone was going to die today".

Harper shot multiple rounds at officers before walking back inside his home.

Agents confirm they fired a round at Harper before a gunshot was heard inside the home.

The local cops called the incident a "stand off" which is a curious term to describe an 8-hour confrontation in which Harper was said to come out of his home several times to launch a fusillade of fire at the officers.

What we have wrought

Trapped In a Whirlpool - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 09:50
Far too many Canadians are blind to our colonial past, many willfully so, but nothing demonstrates our colonial legacy as the residential school system does.

Case in point: they were taken away from their parents at age five or six for 10 months a year. They were forced to eat vomit, subjected to sexual and physical abuse and put in an electric chair.
“The little ones first,” recalls Edmund Metatawabin to the Wawatay News in July. “And I was, I think, about number seven or eight, meaning I was one of the smaller ones.”
The children sat on a wooden seat with their arms strapped to a metal chair. A Brother held a wooden box with a crank ready to send the electric charge.
“Your feet is flying around in front of you, and that was funny for the missionaries,” Metatawabin says. “So all you hear is that jolt of electricity and your reaction, and laughter (of the Catholic school administrators) at the same time. We all took turns sitting on it.”

 Think about that folks, we snatched kids from their families and tortured them in the name of assimilation, stripping them of their language and culture. Also think about the Catholic church reneging on compensation for these crimes.

It will take much more that a mealy mouthed apology from the PM to address the great harm we have wreaked on the indigenous peoples whose land we stole and profit from to this day.

When we look at the issues facing First Nations today we must always view them through the lens of our colonial past and present. These issues just didn't spring up in isolation, they are a direct result of our actions as such we have a huge debt to repay.

We cannot begin to address the suicide crisis and other issues plaguing First Nations across the land until we as Canadian own up to our role in creating these issues. We need to do whatever it takes to help indigenous peoples and communities to heal.

However we cannot simply impose solutions, we need to ask those affected by our actions what they want and need to begin the process of healing. Let them dictate the process while we support those solutions with every ounce of resources we have.

What's Coming Canada's Way??

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 09:49

"Hey, dad, what's that in the backyard?"

"Oh that? Don't worry son, it's a rhino."

A few months back I discussed this idea as a business concept with a friend in the environmental business. It's a form of climate change adaptation that we've previously experienced in the form of invasive species. It's how Australia found itself overrun with rabbits and cane toads.

However, today, species are on the move. Even plant species are now migrating away from the equator at a rate estimated at 8-inches per year. The fastest migrating species are, naturally, the most mobile - birds and marine creatures. Where I live we see that on our doorstep. Bait fish - southern herring and sardines - have moved northward bringing their natural predators, their food chain, in pursuit. In our local waters, humpback whales were rendered extinct a long while ago. Now they're back, in big numbers, along with everything from big schools of white-sided dolphins to brown pelicans, the latter having taken up residence in the area between Victoria and Race Rocks. Large numbers of sea lions that once turned up her briefly every year for the annual herring run have now taken up permanent residence indicating an ample supply of year-round feed has entered the area.

But what about species that, for one reason or another, cannot migrate? Some terrestrial creatures are blocked by oceans, rivers, canals, fences, walls, even highways that they simply cannot cross in any meaningful numbers. Then you have the alpine species whose only option is to keep moving up the mountainside until they either run out of food or simply cannot go any higher. With biodiversity already reeling, can we afford to lose species, plant and animal, that cannot migrate?

There's a new term for species rescue called "translocation." The idea is to preserve an endangered species by relocating a suitable number of them to a carefully selected habitat elsewhere.

One of the top experts on the process is a German-born conservationist, Axel Moehrenschlager, who works out of the Calgary Zoo.

Dr Axel Moehrenschlager said cases of “translocation”, such as India’s plan torelocate tigers to Cambodia or South Africa’s scheme to airlift rhinos to Australia, have increased exponentially in recent decades and will become more common due to human pressures driving species closer to extinction.

...“The impact that people have on the planet is ever-increasing,” he said. “The times when we could simply hope that we could set areas aside for species are increasingly disappearing. We are in a situation of emerging threats due to climate change that we need to more actively manage species otherwise we will lose them.”

“To me this is not controversial as long as the correct process is followed. Success is not guaranteed, but the alternative of not acting is guaranteed - and that is extinction. We have to remember the reason this is done is primarily because one is trying to avoid extinction, but also because one isn’t able to restore species within their indigenous range because the threats in those zones are so pervasive and can’t be avoided.”

Whether migration occurs naturally or through translocation, Canada will increasingly become a destination for new species. It's great to have big numbers of whales and dolphins showing up but it's not so great when it comes to a possible infestation of Humboldt squid.

No Simple Solutions

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 09:46
Over the years, I have learned to be wary of those who promise simple solutions or argue issues within a black and white framework. People who embrace, for example, Donald Trump's promises to 'bring jobs back to America' without asking the key question, 'How?' are acting like those religious fundamentalists who accept The Bible as literal truth. Similarly, when a particularly contentious issue arises in public policy, to reflexively embrace or reject it based on personal values, beliefs or ideologies is to negate the crucial role that critical thinking must play in informed and effective policy formulation.

Such, I believe, is happening in the assisted-suicide legislation introduced by the Liberal government. It is, admittedly, very cautious and conservative legislation:

The government’s proposal is more restrictive than some proponents of legal assisted suicide had sought. It does not include provisions for minors who may be capable of making decisions about their own medical care to choose to end their lives, nor does it allow for people in the early stages of illnesses like dementia to request an assisted death while they are still competent.
As The Star's Tim Harper points out, this compromise legislation satisfies few:
It created a void that is rapidly being filled by progressives who are understandably upset that the rights of those suffering grievously from mental illness, mature minors, or those who wish to provide advance directives have not been respected in this legislation, providing two tiers of those who are eligible to die with dignity.

It also left enough holes in the legislation for conservative opponents, in this case, many of Canada’s churches, to exploit concerns from their perspective.In other words, almost no one seems satisfied with the proposal as it stands, including many Liberal senators, who want a bill that grants far greater accessibility.

But I am satisfied with the bill as it now stands.

I have given the issue a lot of thought, and although my position is perhaps no more valid than that of others who have devoted similar time to considering the notion of assisted death, allow me to state my view, for whatever it is worth.

First, I am totally in favour of the right to choose death for those who have terminal conditions and are facing a great deal of suffering as their disease progresses. ALS is one of the cruel diseases that comes to mind. Without any effective treatment or symptomatic relief, its terminal stages are terrible to even contemplate.

That said, I am also in favour of the very cautious approach evident in the proposed legislation. I have surprised myself by also being in agreement at this point not to allow those in the early stages of dementia to request assisted suicide after their disease has progressed.

This position, which I have come to after much thought, is not the one I thought I would hold.

I suspect that the majority of us fear dementia more than almost anything else. I certainly do, and for a long time I agreed with the notion that it would be good to be able to prearrange one's exit from a hopeless situation. However, two experiences, upon reflection, have altered my view and caused me to ask a fundamental question: Whose interests are really being served by allowing a dignified demise to the demented?

My mother suffered from dementia for the last five years of her life. Additionally, due to protracted stays in the hospital, she developed gangrene, first in one leg and then the other, both requiring amputation. During her full-blown dementia, which seemed to manifest itself with her first hospital stay for a broken hip, she was quite delusional, never really aware, it seemed to me, of her actual situation. Objectively speaking, by most people's standards, she had little quality of life - bedridden, confused, a mere shell of who she had been.

Yet she was sufficiently aware, until the last few months of her life, to know us whenever we visited her, and I like to think that those visits brought her some pleasure. Although she had been having earlier memory problems, my mother's abrupt transition into dementia seems to have also protected her from any awareness that would have produced profound suffering. If anything, she seemed always to be in good cheer.

Unlike my mother, my mother-in-law was aware that she was developing dementia, something she had always feared. Her descent was gradual, as is usually the case. It caused her some distress for a time as she realized what she was losing. Yet again, after being in assisted living and eventually a nursing home, as her disease progressed, she no longer seemed in distress, as her awareness of what was happening decreased to the point where it was ultimately non-existent. Again, I can't say that she was suffering, except perhaps due to what she once told me was her discomfort over 'communal living.'

Eventually, at some level, my mother-in-law decided it was time to die; she no longer ate, and drank very little. Quite rightfully, the family respected her wishes and allowed her a dignified exit without imposing a feeding tube, etc. to keep her alive. It was the right choice.

So I now return to my earlier question about whose interests are being served by allowing a dignified demise to those suffering from dementia. As my two examples suggest, it is not necessarily for the one suffering such a terrible fate. Could it not, at least in some cases, be for those loved ones who are distressed to see a parent, husband, wife, brother or sister in such a broken state, assuming theirs are lives no longer worth living?

My point in writing this is a simple one: while currently in our right minds, we may indeed feel that it would be best to prearrange our assisted death to avoid a protracted and undesirable demise. However, can we really know what we will feel like once the acute awareness stage of early dementia passes? If we cannot answer that question with any degree of certainty, it is best, I believe, to err on the side of caution, as the Trudeau government is currently doing.Recommend this Post

Just What Are You Thinking?

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 09:18

Maybe you don't want to believe that the deck is stacked. Maybe you don't want to believe that you live in a Predator State. Maybe you don't want to believe that the social scourge of our day, inequality, is a Frankenstein's monster stitched together in Parliament and the legislatures of every province. Maybe you don't want to believe that they have effected a massive transfer of both economic and political power - that once belonged to you - to a new, very small class of people. Maybe you don't want to believe that liberal democracy is on the ropes and will be finished off by those you have put in office.

Maybe you just can't hear. Maybe you don't want to hear the reasoned and compelling message of people such as Nobel laureate economist, Joe Stiglitz; or economist James Galbraith, son of John Kenneth Galbraith; or Senator Elizabeth Warren or Robert Reich or lesser known voices trying to warn you that the fix is in and this does not end well. Maybe you hear but don't heed.

Maybe you have become so inured to neoliberalism that you cannot imagine anything else. Maybe you have become so tightly enmeshed with this malignant scam that you think it as immovable as the mountains, as unstoppable as the tides. Maybe a "that's just the way it is" attitude is the best thing that very small class of people has going for it.

Maybe you think this isn't going to get worse if something isn't done to make it get better. Maybe you can't imagine your children and theirs becoming indentured to an illiberal democracy far worse than anything you've known. Maybe you're their last, best chance.

But, Wait, Those Are Our Friends !!

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 09:09

I remember when a certain nation, whose name will go unmentioned lest I be denounced an anti-semite, began to go after a bunch of militants who had gone to hide in a refugee camp. That nation's forces didn't go in after them with vehicles and soldiers to clean them out. That nation simply attacked the entire camp with vicious, indiscriminate aerial bombing.

This was well before 9/11 when we had much different sensibilities about these things. Back when we believed it wrong to attack civilians indiscriminately. We even had laws prohibiting that very thing. We still do only they don't matter much any more.

Did I mention America has a new drone policy governing acceptable civilian casualties. The new Butcher's Bill provides that, if the target - or what you suspect to be the target - is of sufficient value, it's okay to whack up to 10 innocent men, women and children - from your air conditioned drone console just outside of Las Vegas.

David Deptula, a retired three-star Air Force general who led its intelligence and surveillance efforts, said easing the restrictions was a necessary but insufficient step toward defeating the Islamic State, or ISIL.

"The gradualistic, painfully slow, incremental efforts of the current administration undercut the principals of modern warfare, and harken back to the approach followed by the Johnson administration," said Deptula, who now leads the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.

General Deptula seems to think America lost in Vietnam due to insufficient mass mayhem, a shortage of bombing. That is twisted thinking.
The officials all say commanders go to great lengths to avoid killing innocents. They attack at night, for example, when buildings are less likely to be occupied.
Okay, did you get that? You avoid killing civilians by bombing buildings at night because there's far less chance of killing innocents at night when everybody has come in to sleep than during the day when they're outside in the fields ar at their shops trying to eke out a subsistence living. Shit, oh dear.
So much for our American friends. What about our Egyptian friends, the guys who deposed democratically elected Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government. al-Sisi's bunch even managed to get Egypt a seat on the UN Security Council. I wonder how that's going?
The move last month to prevent the appointment of Yemen specialist Said Boumedouha, which has not been reported previously, comes as Cairo enters the fourth month of its two-year term on the U.N. Security Council. In that time, Egypt has watered down Security Council measures designed to combat rights abuses from Burundi to the Central African Republic. During its presidency of the 15-nation council in May, Egypt plans to host a public debate on the need to fight incitement to terrorism and extremism, a move that Western diplomats suspect is aimed at securing international legitimacy for squelching free speech at home.

The behind-the-scenes diplomatic activism has fueled concern among human rights advocates and some Western governments that the Sisi regime is using its newfound powers at the U.N. to extend its crackdown on dissent beyond its own borders while weakening international human rights norms abroad.

Geez, I like that "not previously reported" line.  See no evil, hear no evil, speak... you know the rest. That seems to be today's foreign policy operating system. Seriously, we have to find a better class of friends. We're running with the wrong crowd.
Hey, what about Saudi Arabia. You know, the House of Saud, the guys Canada is giving the armoured vehicular lap dance. Even as Canada has been cozying up to that bunch of thugs, America's once incestuous relationship with Riyadh has been steadily cooling.
Obama will meet King Salman in Riyadh on April 20, during what will likely be his final trip to Saudi Arabia during his presidency. Such meetings between national leaders are usually used for discussions about common interests rather than detailed agendas. The common question is: Are the allies on the same metaphorical page? But with the United States and Saudi Arabia today, it will be more interesting to see whether they can plausibly suggest they are still reading from the same book.
Although the upcoming visit is being touted as an effort in alliance-building, it will just as likely highlight how far Washington and Riyadh have drifted apart in the past eight years. For Obama, the key issue in the Middle East is the fight against the Islamic State: He wants to be able to continue to operate with the cover of a broad Islamic coalition, of which Saudi Arabia is a prominent member. For the House of Saud, the issue is Iran. For them, last year’s nuclear deal does not block Iran’s nascent nuclear status – instead, it confirms it. Worse than that, Washington sees Iran as a potential ally in the fight against the Islamic State. In the words of one longtime Washington observer, "Saudi Arabia wanted a boyfriend called the United States. The United States instead chose Iran. Saudi Arabia is beyond jealousy.”
Quick, the Saudis are feeling jilted. Dion, you're going in.

Wednesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 07:38
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Aditya Chakrabortty comments on how massive amounts of wealth are both being siphoned out of our social systems, and used to buy the politicians who facilitate those transfers:
(A)t root, the Panama Papers are not about tax. They’re not even about money. What the Panama Papers really depict is the corruption of our democracy.

Following on from LuxLeaks, the Panama Papers confirm that the super-rich have effectively exited the economic system the rest of us have to live in. Thirty years of runaway incomes for those at the top, and the full armoury of expensive financial sophistication, mean they no longer play by the same rules the rest of us have to follow. Tax havens are simply one reflection of that reality. Discussion of offshore centres can get bogged down in technicalities, but the best definition I’ve found comes from expert Nicholas Shaxson who sums them up as: “You take your money elsewhere, to another country, in order to escape the rules and laws of the society in which you operate.” In so doing, you rob your own society of cash for hospitals, schools, roads…

But those who exited our societies are now also exercising their voice to set the rules by which the rest of us live. The 1% are buying political influence as never before.
Hirschman argued that citizens could protest against a system in one of two ways: voice or exit. Fed up with your local school? Then you can exercise your voice and take it up with the headteacher. Alternatively, you can exit and take your child to a private school.

In Britain and in America, the super-rich have broken Hirschman’s law – they are at one and the same time exercising economic exit and political voice. They can have their tax-free cake and eat it.- Meanwhile, Jared Bernstein offers new evidence that tax cuts for the rich bear no relationship to economic development. And David Lawder reports on what looks to be a start in developing international standards to rein in tax evasion, while Rajesh Makwana points out that a global tax body may be needed to overcome corporate resistance at the national level in developed countries.

- Richard V. Reeves, Edward Rodrigue and Elizabeth Kneebone write about the multiple dimensions of poverty and inequality which put people at a fundamental disadvantage in seeking social inclusion. And Dave Lieber laments the use of the criminal justice system to lock offenders into perpetual debt servitude.

- Finally, Thomas Walkom writes that a time of low oil prices and reduced public revenues is exactly the point when it makes sense to implement consumer-level carbon pricing.


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