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.]

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Happy birthday to Canadian multiculturalism

It was on Oct. 8, 1971, that Pierre Trudeau announced the policy of multiculturalism. Saturday was its 40th anniversary. Being Canadians, we did not celebrate.

Yet an overwhelming majority of Canadians are quietly proud of it and view it as a defining feature of Canada.

The policy has not been free of controversy. Right-wingers keep sniping at it. Periods of economic insecurity and fear of terrorism produce a backlash against it. But such phases prove “transient,” says Barry Watson of Environics Research Group. With each passing year, more Canadians approve of multiculturalism. Tellingly, the Canadian-born and the foreign-born endorse it equally. They also overwhelmingly approve of immigration and only 9 per cent want Canada to bar non-whites.

Such broad acceptance of multicultural equality partly explains why Tim Hudak bombed with his attack on a provincial job-training program for new immigrants, “foreign workers.” It also explains why Stephen Harper succeeded in the federal election with his strong defence of multiculturalism when wooing “ethnic voters,” whereas Michael Ignatieff failed with the same bloc by being lukewarm about the trademark Liberal policy.

Support for multiculturalism now crosses ideological lines.

For Women, Parity Is Still a Subtly Steep Climb

ISN’T it just a matter of time before women reach parity with men in the upper ranks of the corporate world?       

After all, women in the United States now collect nearly 60 percent of four-year degrees and they make up nearly half the American work force.

But despite headline-grabbing news like the recent naming of Meg Whitman as chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, a look at the numbers shows that progress at the very top has stalled. Last year, women held about 14 percent of senior executive positions at Fortune 500 companies, according to the nonprofit group Catalyst, which focuses on women in the workplace. That number has barely budged since 2005, after 10 years of slow but steady increases.

So what’s the holdup? Ilene H. Lang, president and chief executive of Catalyst, says one factor can be traced to an “entrenched sexism” that is no less harmful for being largely unconscious.

“I don’t want to blame this on men,” Ms. Lang said. Rather she cites “social norms that are so gendered and so stereotyped that even though we think we’ve gone past them, we really haven’t.”

Listeriosis Victims, Families Still Waiting For Compensation

Three years after tainted meat led to a deadly listeriosis outbreak and the largest food recall in Canadian history, victims and their families are still waiting to receive compensation agreed to in an out-of-court settlement.

As she prepares for a big Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends, Karen Clark is still haunted by the vision of her mother Francis lying in a Belleville, Ont., hospital gasping for breath in the summer of 2008.

Francis Clark was one of 23 people who died of listeriosis after eating meat from a Toronto-area Maple Leaf Foods processing plant.

"It was awful. The stare. She wasn't even blinking. She looked like a fish that had been laid up on the shore."

The tragedy resulted in two investigations and a settlement. Though he had disparaged lawyers in the case who were planning to sue, Maple Leaf Food president and CEO Michael McCain agreed to pay out up to $27 million to victims who got listeriosis that summer, and their family members. The settlement was announced in January 2009.