Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Ex-Revenue Canada lawyer advised how to hide money offshore

An exclusive CBC News hidden camera investigation into the world of offshore banking uncovered a former executive with the Royal Bank of Canada and a former lawyer with the Canada Revenue Agency offering advice on how to hide money from Canadian tax authorities.

As part of the joint investigation with Enquête, the CBC’S French-language investigative program, CBC News hired a private investigator, who is also a restaurant and bar owner in Toronto, to test 15 different offshore service providers in Canada and abroad.

Shouldn't Digital Access to Our History Be Free?

The need for a large-scale Canadian digitization strategy has been apparent for many years, with experts repeatedly pointing to the benefits that would come from improved access to Canadian history and culture. While other countries have marched ahead with ambitious projects that often incorporate historical text records, photographs and video, Canada has fallen behind.

Library and Archives Canada, which is charged with preserving and making accessible Canada's documentary heritage, has led the digitization effort but most of its work over the past decade has failed to bear much fruit.

Gov't Reneged on Wage Promises, Say Community Social Service Agencies

Lilla Tipton says she was misled in last spring's pre-election bargaining between the provincial government and agencies like hers, the Powell River Association for Community Living.

Now, her agency and the other 200 community social service-sector agencies across British Columbia are whipsawed between the higher wages they've been paying since April -- on the basis of what they believed was a government funding commitment -- and budgets already diminished by earlier cuts.

The crunch may lead to a reduction in services to vulnerable and often developmentally-challenged B.C. residents, Tipton said.

'Pipeline or rail, the oil will flow' say Alberta oil industry and Canada's petro-government

Popular opposition in Canada to limitless fossil fuel projects is on the rise. The latest (eighth) comprehensive report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is warning of dire consequences if the world doesn't begin to sharply reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The number of derailments in crazed oil-by-rail schemes is mounting.

But none of this is slowing the frenetic efforts of Canada's business elite and petro-state to expand fossil fuel production and transport. They are setting the stage for sharp political struggles in the coming years between those who care for the fate of the Earth and the humans who inhabit it, and those who care only for money and the accumulation of personal wealth.

A number is never just a number: Pseudo census

The year the federal government scrapped Canada's mandatory long-form census, replacing it with a voluntary survey. It sparked a Save The Census campaign that drew the support of no fewer than 488 organizations and individuals. (Source)

July 21, 2010          
The date on which Munir Sheikh released a media advisory explaining his decision to step down as Statistics Canada's chief statistician, saying the new voluntary National Household Survey would be no substitute for the mandatory census. (Source)

A Flawed Understanding of Parliamentary Democracy

Michael Ignatieff may be one of the English-speaking world’s public intellectuals, but he has a flawed understanding of the most basic tenet of British parliamentary democracy: that parliament — not the prime minister, not the cabinet, not the governing party of the day — is supreme.

In his newest book, /Fire and Ashes/, the former Canadian Liberal leader who took that party to its most humiliating defeat ever in the 2011 federal election, unleashes a bitter personal attack on his immediate predecessor, Stephane Dion, over the latter’s attempt, along with former NDP leader Jack Layton, to forge a coalition government supported by the Bloc Quebecois in December, 2008.

Ignatieff, it appears, has some unparliamentary views on parliamentary government.

Federal inmates go on strike to protest pay cuts

Inmates in several federal prisons across Canada have gone on strike to protest against a 30 per cent cut in their pay that took effect this week.

The government began deducting the money from prisoners’ paycheques as part of a move to recover costs under the federal government’s Deficit Reduction Action Plan. The move was first announced in May 2012 by Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.

EI crackdown already felt across Canada

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - A disproportionate drop in employment insurance recipients in Atlantic Canada suggests federal EI restrictions are having a negative impact that will only get worse as seasonal industries lay off staff, critics say.

"Those changes target seasonal workers," said Erin Weir, an economist with the United Steelworkers Canadian national office. "We've already seen in the data that the number of employment insurance recipients has been cut more sharply in the Atlantic provinces than nationally.

No bugs found in former Nortel building, Defence officials now say

OTTAWA — The Conservative government says Defence officials have assured it that no listening devices have been found at the former Nortel campus, contradicting previous security concerns raised by both former Nortel and government intelligence employees.

Former Nortel employees have contacted the Citizen to say that the listening devices were found when Department of National Defence officials did their initial security sweeps of the facility, purchased for DND’s new home.

Russia: Greenpeace Activists Charged With Piracy

MOSCOW - Greenpeace said Wednesday that five of its activists who were detained after protesting at a Russian oil platform have been charged with piracy and could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.

The environmental group said in a statement that activists from Brazil, Britain, Finland and Sweden as well as a British videographer have been formally charged with piracy.

Arms Trade Treaty: Canada's John Baird Warned About Signing Landmark UN Arms Deal

OTTAWA - Canada's recreational firearms lobby is telling the Harper government to avoid signing a landmark United Nations arms trade treaty, arguing it could lead to an insidious return of the federal long-gun registry.

That's the message Canada's National Firearms Association and the Canadian Shooting Sports Association are delivering to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird as he weighs whether Canada should follow the United States in signing the Arms Trade Treaty, which aims to regulate the multibillion dollar global arms trade.

Jim Flaherty Retreat: Finance Minister Flaherty's Annual Policy Getaway Cost $16,000

OTTAWA - Jim Flaherty's two-day retreat for Canada's brain trust in the summer cost taxpayers more than $16,000.

The two-day gathering in August for 17 movers and shakers, hosted by the finance minister, was held at a country inn this year in nearby Wakefield, Que.

Hospitality cost more than $6,800, including meals and wine, while facilities and rentals were almost $8,000.

Travel and accommodation for some participants was another $1,500.

Flaherty had to personally approve the hospitality expenses because they exceeded the $5,000 threshold set by government policy — and because alcohol was served.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's Friend, Alessandro (Sandro) Lisi, Arrested: Reports

Mayor Rob Ford’s occasional driver and friend was arrested last night by Toronto police at an Etobicoke dry-cleaning business, according to several published reports.

Alessandro (Sandro) Lisi, 35, was taken into custody at around 8 p.m. ET Tuesday after officers in plainclothes and unmarked cruisers arrived at the Richview Cleaners, located at Eglinton Avenue and Wincott Drive, according to the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail.

Sean Noble, 'Wizard' Behind Koch Brothers' Donor Network, Now On The Outs

In 2009, as conservative consultant Sean Noble was poised to launch the Center to Protect Patient Rights, an Arizona-based advocacy group, he was invited to one of the secretive conferences for wealthy donors and prominent politicos hosted by multibillionaires Charles and David Koch.

Noble’s entree to the Kochs’ fundraising kingdom came via Randy Kendrick, a conservative philanthropist and a regular attendee at the Kochs' confabs. Kendrick, a fellow Arizonan, proved to be instrumental in building and financing Noble's outfit. She helped introduce Noble to the Koch donor world and has kicked in previously unreported seven-figure checks to the center, multiple GOP consultants familiar with the group told The Huffington Post.

Netanyahu warns west against Iranian president Rouhani's charm offensive

The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, launched a sustained attack on the new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday, deriding his recent charm offensive with western leaders as a "ruse and a ploy" that was designed to fool the international community into dropping its guard against Iran's development of nuclear weapons.

At the end of a week of intense diplomacy at the UN compound in New York in which the overriding focus has been the growing hope of meaningful negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme, Netanyahu sounded a starkly conflicting note in his address to the UN general assembly. He pounded the Iranian regime and its newly elected president, accusing them of sponsoring terrorism and lying repeatedly over their nuclear weapons ambitions, and exhorting the rest of the world not to be hoodwinked into lifting sanctions on Tehran.

David Cameron: profit and tax cuts are not dirty words

David Cameron will on Wednesday attempt to lay down clear battle lines for the general election, with Labour cast to the left and the Tories occupying the centre right, when he launches a defence of business with a declaration that profit will never be a "dirty, elitist" word under his leadership.

In a riposte to Ed Miliband, who alarmed the Tories with his populist pledge last week to freeze fuel prices for 20 months, the prime minister will warn against "quick fixes" as he seeks to rebuild the economy after the downturn.

Harper government says bureaucrats cut organized crime unit at Canada Revenue Agency

OTTAWA — The Harper government says bureaucrats are responsible for making a decision to eliminate a special unit at the Canada Revenue Agency tasked with cracking down on organized crime.

National Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay defended the decision Tuesday, explaining that she believed officials at the agency wanted to improve efficiency.

A U.S. presidential 'no' does not mean 'no' for Stephen Harper

Stephen Harper surprised and upset fans and adversaries alike when asked what he would do if the U.S. administration said no to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. "You don't take no for an answer," replied Harper. Elaborating, the prime minister described himself as an optimist, and said he believed the case for approval was overwhelming.

Harper's live television discussion with CNNBC reporter Maria Bartiromo was hosted by the Canadian American Business Council in New York. It took place during the opening session of the UN General Assembly, which the Conservative leader chose not to address.

House GOPer on Government Shutdown Strategy: "I Don't Know That There Is a Plan to Win"

As the nation began grappling with the effects of the first government shutdown in 17 years—lost nutrition assistance, padlocked research labs, and the shuttering of virtually the entire Environmental Protection Agency—House Republicans met behind closed doors on Monday afternoon to sort out their differences and chart a new path forward. They still have some work to do.

The House GOP members who stubbornly insisted on blocking the Affordable Care Act as a condition of any funding resolution "are not tea party, and they're not conservatives," lamented a visibly upset Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), launching into his now-standard riff about North American tundra hamsters. "They're anything but that. I mean, if you're a conservative, you're actually trying to do something. These people are just flat-out lemmings. That's all they are. It's like the lemming caucus."

Ilija Trojanow, German Writer, Banned From US For Criticizing NSA

According to Der Spiegel, German-Bulgarian writer and activist Ilija Trojanow was barred from entering the United States on Monday. Trojanow was to speak at a literary conference. HuffPost Live’s Ahmed Shihab-Eldin took a closer look at the story, which has yet to be covered by most major news sources in the U.S.

While U.S. authorities did not provide Trojanow with a formal explanation, he believes he has been banned from the US because of his outspoken criticism of the NSA’s surveillance programs.

House Shutdown Battle Could Go On For Weeks

WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON (AP) — First slowed, then stalled by political gridlock, the vast machinery of government clanged into partial shutdown mode on Tuesday and President Barack Obama warned the longer it goes "the more families will be hurt."

Republicans said it was his fault, not theirs, and embarked on a strategy — opposed by Democrats — of voting on bills to reopen individual agencies or programs.

The Shutdown Question: Madness, Anarchy, or Ideology?

“We had a good day for the anarchists,” Harry Reid said Tuesday morning, when the Senate met briefly to deal with the House’s final, late-night act of legislative vandalism. Twice Monday the House Republicans were sent a bill, approved by the Senate, to keep the government open for about six weeks. The first time, they added a measure to put off much of Obamacare for a year. The second time, the Republicans effectively threw the thing over their shoulders, muttering about maybe sending it to a conference committee. By then midnight had come, the fiscal year had run out, names were being called, and reporters were tweeting about the smell of alcohol. Within hours, there were barricades up around museums and libraries in Washington; eight hundred thousand federal workers had been told to stay home while others got messages saying that they were essential to the preservation of life and property and had to come in—it just wasn’t certain when or if they’d get paid. Is that how anarchists operate, or people who don’t care, or are simply somewhat mad? (If real anarchists were in charge, one of the first federal-government operations to go down—the panda cam at the National Zoo—might have been the only thing left running.) Who are these House Republicans, and what have they done with our government?

What Happened to Egypt’s Liberals After the Coup?

Khaled Dawoud worked hard to remove Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, from office.

As the spokesperson for the National Salvation Front, a loose coalition of non-Islamist parties and groups formed last November, he was a well-recognized voice of opposition to Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. In the weeks leading up to June 30, Dawoud traveled across the country, helping to drum up support and organize logistics for the massive anti-Morsi protests.

Fred Tufnell, Parole Board Appointee, Mysteriously Demoted By Conservatives

OTTAWA - The Harper government has mysteriously demoted a parole board member it once named to a senior position.

Cabinet orders-in-council show the government recently bumped Fred Tufnell from his position as vice-chairman of the Ontario regional division of the Parole Board of Canada.

The Conservatives named Tufnell, a former police officer, to the board in 2009 and elevated him to the vice-chairman's job two years later.

The cabinet order reveals that last November, then-public safety minister Vic Toews asked Tufnell to explain why he should not lose the posting.

Tufnell's response apparently did not satisfy the government, prompting his demotion to the rank of board member.

Both the parole board and the office of current Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney declined to comment on the circumstances — citing federal privacy legislation — and Tufnell could not immediately be reached.

Original Article
Author: CP

Parliament shut down, but Harper Cabinet continues to meet on Hill

PARLIAMENT HILL—Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his top Cabinet ministers hunkered down in their ultra-secure meeting room off the Prime Minister’s Centre Block office all day Tuesday, with the new session of Parliament still two weeks away and opposition parties furious over their inability to grill the government over the effect a U.S. shutdown of government services involving 800,000 U.S. public servants could have on Canada.

Liberal and NDP MPs told The Hill Times the shutdown of non-essential U.S. federal services caused by a budget deadlock between the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives was the latest critical event that has emerged since Mr. Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) announced last month he was asking Governor General David Johnston to suspend Parliament until Oct. 16, when the government intends to launch the second half of its majority government mandate with a Speech From the Throne framing the Conservative agenda into the 2015 federal election.

Mammoliti, Shiner get rent deals from Toronto developers

Two Toronto councillors have been paying well below the market rate to rent apartments from developers that have millions of dollars in contracts with the city, a CBC News investigation has found.

David Shiner and Giorgio Mammoliti each leases a two-bedroom suite at 88 Erskine Ave., near Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue, an apartment building run by Greenwin Property Management and owned by its sister company, Verdiroc Holdings.

The Government Shutdown Could Cost $300 Million Per Day

The price of political incompetence? About $300 million per day.

That’s how much a government shutdown will cost the U.S. in lost economic output, according to an analysis from IHS Global Insight. As Bloomberg notes, that’s less than a fraction of a percent of nation’s $15.7 trillion economy, but it’s not an insignificant amount of money.

To put that in perspective: $300 million is about what Beyoncé is worth. It's also about equal to the cost of 65.8 million Big Macs, the profits from the first Hunger Games movie and about $50 million less than Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos paid for The Washington Post earlier this year.

Tories mum on why they fired high-profile Parole Board appointee

OTTAWA — The Conservative government is refusing to say why it fired a high-profile appointee from his position with the Parole Board of Canada.

The government last week removed former police officer Fred Tufnell from his job as vice-chairman for the parole board’s Ontario region, saying he “no longer enjoys the confidence” of the federal cabinet.

Tufnell remains a member of the board, however.

Sen. Carolyn Stewart Olsen Promises To Pay Back Wrongly Claimed Expenses

OTTAWA — A Conservative senator with close ties to Prime Minister Stephen Harper is pledging to return money she says she should not have claimed as living expenses while she owned property in Ottawa.

After serving in Harper's PMO, Carolyn Stewart Olsen was appointed to the Senate on Aug. 27, 2009 to represent her home province of New Brunswick. But the long-time Ottawa resident — she moved to the capital in the 1980s to work as a nurse before serving as Harper's press secretary and later director of strategic communications — kept her Carling Avenue condo for nearly two years, before she sold it for $465,000 on May 2, 2011.

With 2.3 Million People Incarcerated in the US, Prisons Are Big Business

I don’t know how many times I heard the same robotic voice speak these words since last fall. I was researching the story of Timothy McKinney, a Memphis man facing his third death-penalty trial for the killing of an off-duty police officer in 1997. Tim would call from Shelby County Jail, to answer my questions and to do what anyone facing trial would want to do: air concerns about his case, vent. Sometimes he would call multiple times a week. Because the phone calls were limited to fifteen minutes at a time, a couple of times he hung up and called right back, so we could keep talking.

America Gets Primaried

Very early Tuesday morning, just after the Office of Management and Budget told agencies to begin “the orderly shutdown” of the federal government, a frustrated Harry Reid went to the floor of the United States Senate.

The Senate—with its Democratic majority and its reasonable number of reasonable Republicans—stood ready to take action to prevent the shutdown from moving forward, he said.

But, the Nevada Democrat admitted, there was no indication that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives was prepared to join in a serious discussion.