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Elisa Hategan Comments on Danger of Giving More Power to CSIS

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

We later received the following comment:

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

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

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Harperian Hypocrisy: The Family Values Regime Disappoints Yet Again

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

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

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

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

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

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More Harper Lies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He also raises these valid points.

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

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

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

It's Baaaack: Unborn Victims Bill, C484

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what does Official Fetus Freakdom have to say?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On motivating factors

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 07:48
Andrew Coyne offers what's probably the most reasonable argument to treat the negligible threat of terrorism differently from the other risks we so readily accept (and indeed which are regularly exacerbated by deregulation).

But Coyne's argument falls well short of justifying the response actually on offer from the Cons - and indeed looks questionable on its own merits.
(M)otive comes up at many points in the criminal law - if the motive is self-defence, for example. And motive, in the case of terrorism, is inseparable from the act. The terrorist does not seek only to kill for killing's sake, or for reasons internal to him, but to intimidate others - to send a message - to alter behaviour - not only on the part of governments, but of citizens. More to the point, he might just succeed.

It is that possibility that truly separates terrorism from other crimes of violence. There is no way to lessen your chances of being killed by a random lunatic. As such, there is no reason to alter your behaviour. But there is, or at least so you might reason, so long as you, or we, do as the terrorist demands, and the more any of us do, the more likely it is that such demands will be issued. We do not want our society to be run by violence and threats. Hence the need, at the least, for a separate category of crime.

And a separate category of response? Here the scale of the threat enters into it. An organized movement, with a coherent ideology, capable of raising funds, recruiting others, planning, training and so on, is capable of much greater mayhem than a stray lunatic - especially now that the technology of mass death has escaped the control of state actors. Never has it been more easily available, and never have there been so many willing to use it. (The crossover case is the so-called "lone wolf," acting alone but guided or inspired by an organized terrorist group. It is not the voices in his head we need to worry about so much as the voices in his ear.)Now, let's start by highlighting Coyne's distinction between a "random lunatic" whose actions are in no way related to terrorism-related policy, and a "lone wolf" who draws some inspiration from terrorist groups.

At best, that distinction looks like an exercise in begging the question. At least, I don't think there's much room for doubt that people who engage in random violence would generally do so based on the influence of a combination of internal and external "voices" - and to assert that some people may include organized groups among the latter is utterly unhelpful for any purpose.

In fact, if our goal is to establish policy with the goal of minimizing the external voices which might lead people to violence, Coyne has it exactly wrong.

The motive of a speaker or group whose message might drive an individual to violence should be utterly irrelevant. A message which has an equally strong likelihood of influencing an individual to pose a threat is no less and no more threatening whether it originates with a group dedicated to the same end, or another source with entirely innocent intentions.

That doesn't answer the question as to how to address the relationship between mental health issues and security threats. And there would be alarming implications to any policy that speech which could possibly provoke violence (even if only through misinterpretation) should be suppressed - which is in large part why the virtually unlimited powers contained in C-51 are so worrisome.

The more reasonable means of addressing individuals who might be prone to acts of violence is thus intervention at the individual level to ensure that some pro-social voices and connections are in the mix. That's exactly the part of the system which broke down in the case of last year's Ottawa shootings - and it's the aspect of threat management which the Cons are downplaying in order to push widespread surveillance and interference.

But there's no reason to think we're safer if public policy is oriented toward stopping the speech of groups who might shift a would-be attacker from "random lunatic" to "lone wolf" status.

More plausibly, one might give some weight to Coyne's point about the potential for the organized use of technology capable of causing significant harm. Here too, though, we run into the Cons' highly selective choices in seeking to make that very technology far more widely and easily available than their political opponents. 

Moreover, the same phenomenon which Coyne considers worrisome solely in the context of intended intimidation applies equally to the distribution of threats with entirely different motivations. Weapons in the hands of groups aren't the only dangerous materials which have the potential to cause widespread harm to innocent individuals, and one doesn't have to be motivated by a desire to hurt people to actually cause significant damage - as is obvious from the examples of contaminated goods and transportation accidents which have caused far more real harm to Canadians in recent years.

And Coyne is one of the most fervent advocates in Canada for the position that those types of dangers should be subject to minimal supervision in the business sector, permitting the market sort out any problems with little government involvement. Or at the very least, I'd be shocked to see him advocate an equivalent system to C-51 - featuring no-notice access allowing secret government agencies to access and change the operations of businesses, or immediately stop corporate operations on bare "security" grounds without notice or an opportunity for explanation - to guard against the deadly consequences of regulatory failure.

Finally, we get to motive as a factor in sentencing - which is an entirely valid consideration in the criminal law context. But there, motive surfaces as a relevant factor only after a crime has been demonstrated - meaning that one can't use it as a reasonable analogy for intruding on the daily lives of Canadians in the absence of evidence. 

In sum, then, Coyne's arguments for treating the motive behind terrorism as reason to intrude on individual freedoms ultimately serve only to provide a couple more twists on the same fatally-flawed argument. But as I wrote in yesterday's column, if our goal is to ensure public safety, any focus on motivations rather than actual threats is at best an unhelpful diversion - and at worst an opportunity for gross abuses of power.

[Edit: fixed wording.]

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 06:34
Assorted content to end your week.

- Nicholas Kristof discusses how U.S. workers have suffered as a result of declining union strength. And Barry Critchley writes that Canada's average expected retirement age has crept over 65 - with that change coming out of necessity rather than worker choice.

- Alex Andreou rightly slams the concept of "defensive architecture" intended to eliminate the poor from sight rather than actually addressing poverty:
“When you’re designed against, you know it,” says Ocean Howell, who teaches architectural history at the University of Oregon, speaking about anti-skateboarding designs. “Other people might not see it, but you will. The message is clear: you are not a member of the public, at least not of the public that is welcome here.” The same is true of all defensive architecture. The psychological effect is devastating.
Defensive architecture is revealing on a number of levels, because it is not the product of accident or thoughtlessness, but a thought process. It is a sort of unkindness that is considered, designed, approved, funded and made real with the explicit motive to exclude and harass. It reveals how corporate hygiene has overridden human considerations, especially in retail districts. It is a symptom of the clash of private and public, of necessity and property.
This tripartite pressure of an increasingly hostile built environment, huge reduction in state budgets, and a hardening attitude to poverty can be disastrous for people sleeping rough, both physically and psychologically. Fundamental misunderstanding of destitution is designed to exonerate the rest from responsibility and insulate them from perceiving risk. All of us are encouraged to spend future earnings through credit. For the spell to be effective, it is essential to be in a sort of denial about the possibility that such future earnings could dry up. Most of us are a couple of pay packets from being insolvent. We despise homeless people for bringing us face to face with that fact.

Poverty exists as a parallel, but separate, reality. City planners work very hard to keep it outside our field of vision. It is too miserable, too dispiriting, too painful to look at someone defecating in a park or sleeping in a doorway and think of him as “someone’s son”. It is easier to see him and ask only the unfathomably self-centred question: “How does his homelessness affect me?” So we cooperate with urban design and work very hard at not seeing, because we do not want to see. We tacitly agree to this apartheid.- David Climenhaga calls for the media to stop enabling the Fraser Institute's propaganda mill. But Tyler Cowen points to research showing that even by the warped definitions applied by the Fraser Institute and other similar corporate mouthpieces, increased tax levels tend to lead to greater economic freedom.

- Finally, Jean Chretien, Joe Clark, Paul Martin and John Turner join a group of distinguished Canadians in criticizing the Cons' terror bill - though sadly their former parties are rather less interested in the public good. And while Aaron Wherry leaves open the possibility that Parliament might be given the opportunity to meaningfully discuss whether C-51 is either needed at all or adequately tailored to its supposed purposes, Michael Harris is right to worry that a Con majority will refuse to let that happen.

The Supreme Narcissist

Northern Reflections - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 06:12

Stephen Harper hates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He says that Bill C-51 is all about fighting terrorism. But Michael Harris writes:

Here we have a piece of legislation that advances the prime minister’s favourite project: undermining the hated Charter of Rights that circumscribes his power and remains a monument to his most hated rival — Pierre Trudeau.

Which is why this PM despises the Supreme Court of Canada, why he continues to bombard it with unconstitutional legislation and provokes personal confrontation with judges. It’s the SCC and not the PM that’s charged with the momentous task of interpreting the Charter — and that’s what frosts his socks. If Harper can’t go through the Charter, he’ll tunnel under it until the underpinnings give way.

After this latest piece of “anti-terror” legislation passes, CSIS will join the Canada Revenue Agency as an organization not bound by the Charter. It will be restricted only by the vague words in the legislation that give the hush-hush boys extraordinary powers whenever the economic, social or political security of Canada is at stake.
Harper's objective is to make what he calls "Conservative values" unassailable. And institutions like the CBC -- or, at least, its French language service -- are obstructing that objective:

Perhaps that’s why he slandered CBC employees at Radio-Canada in the way he did. While campaigning in Quebec, he told a private radio station host that many people at Radio-Canada “hated” Conservative values. To what Conservative values was he referring? The ones held by Dean Del Mastro, Bruce Carson, Peter Penashue or Dimitri Soudas? The ones that gave us robocalls or the Senate expenses scandal? The ones that serve up omnibus bills and muzzle freedom of speech? Which ones?
The prime minister is the supreme narcissist:

Most people have forgotten how Harper took down all the portraits of previous prime ministers from his party’s lobby room — including paintings of Sir John A. MacDonald and John Diefenbaker. What did he replace them with? Green Party leader Elizabeth May gives us the answer:

“Photos of Stephen Harper in different costumes, in different settings, dressed as a fireman, in Hudson Bay looking for polar bears, meeting the Dalai Lama … even the portrait of the Queen had to have Stephen Harper behind her.”
Bill C- 51 is the legislative expression of that narcissism, writes Harris. It's now all Steve, all the time.

At Issue - Harper's Terror Bill

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 05:23
I happened to catch last night's At Issue Panel discussing Harper's (anti) terror legislation, Bill C-51. One of the interesting points that emerged was that although polls show the vast majority of Canadians seem to support this legislation (based, I suspect, on little or no knowledge of what it contains), another poll shows that Canadians put at the top of their concerns jobs and the economy. This led to the observation that simply because Canadians back the bill does not readily translate into a vote for the Harper regime in the next election.

All in all, an interesting parsing of the politics surrounding Bill C-51 by Andrew Coyne, Chantal Hebert and Jennifer Ditchburn.

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Jason Kenney and the Strangelove Cons

Montreal Simon - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 03:18

It was just a coincidence that the Turner Classic Movie channel should be running Dr Strangelove yesterday.

On the same day that Jason Kenney made his first major speech as the Con regime's new Defence Minister.

But in a way it seemed strangely appropriate, because I did have trouble distinguishing between the two movies. 

Or deciding which one was more hilarious or more deeply disturbing. 
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The Madness of Stephen Harper and the C-51 Revolt

Montreal Simon - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 22:21

By now it should be obvious that Stephen Harper is not going to allow any changes to his infamous anti-terrorism bill C-51.

That he is now so crazy and so desperate that he will not let anyone or anything stop him from getting his hands on another weapon to go after his enemies.

And has finally arrived at the state the first Harper to arrive in Canada was in, when he had to be removed from his magistrate's position for "violent and oppressive measures" vindictive beyond the point of reason.

He made that very clear yesterday, when Tom Mulcair asked him why he was lumping legitimate dissent in with terrorist activity? 

And today he made that even clearer by moving to shutdown debate on the bill. 
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Kenney : CPC faces high risk of terrorist attack

Creekside - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 17:28
The Conservative Party of Canada faces a “high probability” of a jihadist attack from homegrown terrorists, Defence Minister Jason Kenney warned Thursday as he defended toughened security laws and hinted that Ottawa will extend its military mission in Iraq into the inevitable quagmire of jihadist reprisals."The threat of terrorism has never been greater."In his first major address since taking over the defence portfolio several weeks ago, Kenney explained the growing danger of terror :"We've got the Del Mastro election fraud trial, the Duffy trial, the Jason MacDonald trial, and the insecurity of an election is only months away."“There is a high probability of future jihadist attacks from within,” Kenney said, citing attacks in Paris and Copenhagen. "And let's not forget that two Canadians have been killed in terrorist attacks on Canadian soil in the last 12½ years since 9/11."Kenney spoke as Parliament begins debate on Bill C-51, sweeping new anti-terror legislation that contains measures that would for the first time allow the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to actively disrupt emerging terror plots. Kenney said concerns about the bill are “much exaggerated.” “We are taking all of these steps while respecting the rights of Canadians,” Kenney said as his party closed down parliamentary debate on the controversial bill after only two hours.He said the new powers are “necessary” to meet the evolving terror threat. 
"It could come from anywhere - muzzled scientists, enviros, FNs, birdwatchers, other parties - you name it."“This is a threat that is going to keep mutating. We can’t have a permanent policy setting. We have to be flexible,” he said.  "We were going to run on having transformed the Canadian economy into a 1950s-style strong stable single resource extraction state but that hasn't exactly panned out for us so now we're going with this terror terror terror thing."

Recent polls have shown 25% of Canadians believe jihadist terrorism is the number one problem facing Canadians today. "We'd like to scare that number up a little higher," said Kenney. "With only 60% of Canadians voting and 40% of that 60% voting for us, we could win the next election on terrorism alone."Kenney advised all Canadians to be on alert in the upcoming months. "Duck and cover", he quipped, "it's the CPC way."

h/t Toronto Star for original article : Canada faces high risk of terror attack, Jason Kenney says   Check it out - it's kinda scary how little I changed it..

I am so, so proud of my neighbour!

Trashy's World - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 16:41
Some call her Crystal. Others know her as “Snowflake”. But in the highlands and lowlands of South-east Ottawa, she is known as a dedicated volunteer, a good and honest friend, but most of all, a fan of the Detroit Red Wings. Which is why I was shocked to see her sudden and complete buy-in of […]

The Strategy of Permanent War. . .

kirbycairo - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 14:30
We live in difficult times for anyone who is wants to promote justice and equality. We are living through an era in which large, globalizing corporations have overwhelmingly dominated the political discourse for more than 30 years. And as the Neo-Liberal consensus has begun to show cracks and is basically breaking down, the rightwing has begun to ramp up its strategies of fear: fear of change, and fear of 'the other.' The primary target of this strategy of fear has been the relatively soft target of Islam. I call this a soft target because this has been a pretty safe target for Western leaders for hundreds of years. It is easy to feed on people's underlying bigotry, particularly religious bigotry. And the Neo-Liberal leaders of the West, desperate to consolidate their power and narrow our political discourse, thrive on religious bigotry. Oh, of course they will never admit that this is their strategy because that has become socially unacceptable. But they are fully aware that this is what is going on.

The most interesting (and tragic) part of this strategy is that for a long time now, Western leaders have been quite intentionally aggravating so-called Islamic extremism with the clear knowledge that they need this "enemy" to drive their economy of war and their politics of fear. The grandest deception of modern times is the portrayal of Israel as "victim." But the focus of political Zionism has been fairly clear from the beginning. The creation of Israel was orchestrated by violent "terrorists" like the Stern Gang who intentionally created as much conflict as possible with Palestinians in order specifically to create an image of Middle Eastern Jews as victims. They did this because it was the only ideological shield that they could use to hide behind as they took more and more Palestinian land. This strategy among Israeli leaders has continued unabated now for generations. Take Palestinian land, lock them up in giant prison camps and then portray yourself as a victim on the defensive every time the Palestinians fight back, meanwhile continue to take Palestinian land (in clear violation of international law) while everyone is looking at and blaming the Palestinians. It is a strategy has even deceived many Israelis as so well illustrated by the Israeli peace activist Miko Peled.

But our own leaders have more or less adopted the very same strategy. Part of this has been the simple and clear knowledge that failure to support the Palestinian people will continue to feed the ranks of desperate and angry groups who actively, and understandably, use any means at their disposal to fight back. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have also been central to this strategy. The strategy is this - create conflict, ignore or exploit religious and ethnic differences, arm and incite these groups either directly or through proxy states like Saudi Arabia, and then use these enhanced conflicts to further expand war, military spending, and increased security powers in our own countries. It is, in fact, an age old military/political strategy; create conflict and then use that conflict as the excuse to enhance your power, military might, and surveillance or our own population.

It is a sad strategy in every possible sense. It destroys lives, creates chaos and death, and it is easily sold to a surprisingly gullible population. Part of the problem is that there is a significant conceptual deficit among people when it comes to the issue of power. Most people have only a one dimensional view of power which sees power moving in only one direction and misses the subtleties of how it is used to deceive and how it moves through structures and can expand backward toward the source. Thus, people in the West will, for example, demonize Islam or Islamic nations, failing entirely to see how Western nations not only created these countries (mostly during the First World War) and then exploited thees nations to enhance the need for continual war. It really is just a more complex version of using provocateurs, which governments and capitalists have been doing forever.

Arguably the worst by-product of this strategy of fear and one dimensional view of power is bigotry. You see it all the time and it is profoundly frustrating. People will see the terrible actions of 'the other,' (in this case Muslims) as the main source of conflict and evil, meanwhile they will ignore not only our own Western history of violence and evil, but completely ignore the active part that our governments and arms dealers play in the sustaining this history of violence etc. Thus people will ignore the fact that George Bush started a war almost solely for personal vengeance that killed over half a million innocent people, but they will drone on and on about a single murder perpetrated by 'the other.' This is the kind of ignorance that our leaders are actively promoting.

As Bertrand Russell once said, "Most people would rather die than think; many do."

Desperate Crisis Pregnancy Clinics: Healthcare or Counselling?

Dammit Janet - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 12:46
These are trying times for fake abortion clinics.

First, the old styling -- "crisis pregnancy centre (CPC)" -- has become so indelibly associated with lies, manipulation, and slut-shaming, they've taken to rebranding themselves as Options/Choice/Life/WhatHaveYou Centres.

Then they were getting dinged by false advertising claims and lawsuits.

According to an analysis by NARAL [US pro-choice organization], 79 percent of the crisis pregnancy centers that advertised on Google indicated that they provided medical services such as abortions, when, in fact, they are focused on counseling services and on providing information about alternatives to abortion.
In response, they began vociferously denying they were medical facilities.
"We aren’t a medical facility,” explains [Lambton Crisis Pregnancy Centre's executive director Kim] LeBlanc.  “We don’t refer people to pediatricians and we don’t refer them to abortion clinics. We aren’t qualified.”
So what then to make of fake clinics acquiring medical equipment and advertising "healthcare services"? Here we reported that we'd found only one such ultrasound-enhanced CPC in Canada.

Now, spurred by a virtual brown envelope over the transom, we report on another, Crossroads Clinic in Brooks, Alberta.

From its Services page:
More than just a pregnancy care center, Crossroads Clinic is a medical facility focusing on all aspects of sexual [!] health.It lists the usual "Pregnancy Options Counselling," "Abortion Recovery," "Pregnancy Testing" (drugstore pee-on-a-stick type), but also includes "Sexual Abuse or Trauma Recovery" and "STI or STD Testing."

(Anyone ever heard of a CPC offering sexual abuse counselling? Let us know.)

We accessed its charitable status to check on its funding. It reports government funding running at 4-5% of total revenue for the past four years. (No specific sources given.)

Canada Revenue Agency asks its lucky participants to inform them of "new services" and in 2013, Crossroads reported one such.
HEALTH CARE SERVICES ==> Medical professionals provide pregnancy test and sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and treatment.Okey-dokey, now they provide healthcare services and indeed ask that "patients" bring their Alberta Health Care number and a photo ID. (Maybe a DJ! reader would like to undertake a query to Alberta Health over that oddity.)

So, beyond aiding patients' peeing on a stick, what do these services entail?

A magic ultrasound machine!
Women come to Crossroads Clinic both to confirm pregnancy and review their options. Having an ultrasound scan by trained medical professionals gives a client the accurate and timely information she needs to make educated decisions about her pregnancy and her future.

We are so blessed to have ultrasound technology on-site.
Blessed, indeed. While its website is all very secular and professional, its Facebook page is way more jesus-y.

As of course it should be since Crossroads is a member of Canadian [formerly Christian] Association of Pregnancy Support Services (CAPSS), whose "core documents" (well worth the read for the Bible verses alone) can be downloaded here.

Regular DJ! readers might remember that it was the affiliation with CAPSS that got the above-mentioned Lambton Crisis Pregnancy Centre stripped of the second part of its Trillium Foundation grant, according to the Sarnia Observer.

Upshot: no matter how they style themselves, what services they try to offer, who they associate with, CPCs in Canada are on the ropes.

And here ends, for now, DJ!'s survey of fake clinics in Alberta.

But we're on a mission here at DAMMIT JANET! We want to see the closure of all fake clinics in Canada.

And we'll do whatever we can to effect that.

Up next, British Columbia, and perhaps more surprisingly, Quebec.


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