Democracy Gone Astray
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Five of the six people appointed to the Nutrition North advisory board have donated money to the Conservatives. One of the five Conservative donors also gave to the Liberals, while a sixth member has not contributed to any party.
The individual donations range from $20 to $1,200 and span a time frame of February 2007 to July 2014.
Naomi Klein has done it again with her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate. She challenges the existing ignorance and denial on climate change and administers her own form of shock doctrine on that all-consuming issue. I do find, however, that her complete reliance on the power of social movements to bring about needed and urgent change is flawed and incomplete.
By way of background, there is by now widespread scientific consensus that climate change is occurring as a result of human activity. Carbon emissions are being trapped in the atmosphere and warming the planet. If we do not reduce fossil fuel consumption, scientists say, the results will be catastrophic. In fact, the collapse of ice sheets and the ensuing rapid rise in sea levels has already begun.
In an emotionally charged public meeting on November 18, 2014, Portland residents bombarded two of their city commissioners with questions about what they believe is a cronyism-driven plan to kill the elegant, gravity-fed, open water reservoir system that has reliably served their city safe, clean drinking water for more than 100 years.
In some cases, they say employees must make special requests to the government department they work at to get websites unblocked in order to view the material they require.
The government has argued that it blocks certain sites to protect its system from viruses and to prevent workers from viewing illicit material.
The Volcker Rule is a key reform adopted after the 2008 financial meltdown that bans banks from gambling in securities markets with taxpayer money -- a tactic known as proprietary trading. But under legislation slated for a Wednesday vote, banks would be given a two-year reprieve from unloading some of their riskiest holdings -- known as collateralized loan obligations.
“This is outrageous conduct,” Blacklock publisher Holly Doan wrote on her publication's site after learning about the ban. “This is not only Orwellian, it appears to breach the government’s own guidelines on workplace internet use.”
According to the latest consumer confidence index from Nanos Research and Bloomberg, the number of Canadians expecting house prices to keep rising has fallen to 31 per cent, from a high around 47 per cent last summer.
The country is facing an election that will be nasty, brutish and long — from now until the vote occurs, whenever that may be. The writ period is essentially meaningless. Under the Conservatives, it is always political game on.
True to his word, Stephen Harper has transformed the country, largely by stealth. Canada is now a nation that spies on its friends, guests, and citizens. It accepts foreign intelligence even when there is a likelihood that it was obtained by torture. The government lies to the electorate on policy matters. It accuses veterans of exaggerating their injuries in order to take the taxpayer for a ride. It washes its hands of any stake in the fate of 1,200 missing or murdered Aboriginal women. It does not practise unite-and-lead politics, but divide-and-conquer stratagems. A government, by any democratic measure, in disgrace.
Canada has refused to sign or ratify this landmark agreement, which will begin to stem the vast tide of armaments, from pistols to rocket launchers to tanks, which sweeps over the world every day.
Most arms come from rich industrial nations like Canada and the US and go to poor countries with undemocratic governments.
With federal Employment Insurance, of course, it’s usually not optional — most working Canadians must pay EI premiums — but the basic concept is the same. If someone loses his job, EI is supposed to kick in after a couple of weeks to help pay the bills until that person can find alternative employment.
That means the federal government has a tremendous duty of care to ensure the EI system is functioning as expected. Legitimate claimants who’ve paid into the system expect — indeed, count on — the program to work when needed. Discovering it doesn’t can inflict real damage in people’s lives.
“All convicted criminals belong behind bars.”
We know of no person knowledgeable about criminal justice in any democratic society who has ever proposed imprisonment for all convicted offenders. But earlier this month, Canada’s Public Safety Minister, Steven Blaney, who oversees our penitentiaries, bluntly told Parliament that “Our Conservative government believes that convicted criminals belong behind bars.” No qualifications, no exceptions.
Tensions have been taken to a new level by US threats of retaliatory action for Russian development of a new cruise missile. Washington alleges it violates one of the key arms control treaties of the cold war, and has raised the prospect of redeploying its own cruise missiles in Europe after a 23-year absence.
The Palestinians announced earlier this week that they are joining the International Criminal Court in the Hague to pursue war-crimes charges against Israel. The move is meant to pressure Israel into withdrawing from the territories that Palestinians demand for a future state.
The failure to act, they say, proves the inability of government to keep the Pacific Coast safe from pollution.
New video acquired by The Tyee, shot by Pacific Wild Executive Director Ian McAllister and April Bencze on Dec. 10, shows a timelapse of the 570-tonne Chilcotin Princess loosely moored to the dock of the former BC Packers salmon cannery at Namu and crashing against crumbling foreshore buildings known to hold barrels of oil and other waste. (Play the video at the top of this story.)