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.]

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Union refuses to participate in National Public Service Week events

Since 1992, National Public Service Week has celebrated the achievements and contributions of Canada’s federal public sector employees.

But this year, with billions of dollars slashed from public services and more cuts on the way, Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) members aren’t exactly in a celebratory mood.

“People feel very disrespected (because) the whole process is not transparent,” said one worker, who wouldn’t give his name.

Severely disabled Toronto man has rich life thanks to home care

Gabriel West loves to ride the subway. So I rode it with him and his two dear friends Steve Lappano and Ryan Blakely, the other day, all the way from Broadview to Kipling and back again.

Sitting in his wheelchair, West giggled — it sounded like a high-pitched whine — and cracked jokes about how he was going to take off to Ottawa. He barked like a dog and pretended to chew his friends’ doughnut cheeks. The three of them cuddled and held hands like a pack of giddy 4-year-olds.

Except West is 35, and his friends are around the same age.

Sheldon Adelson To Lavish $71 Million In Casino Money On GOP Super PACS, Nonprofits

WASHINGTON -- Casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, whose net worth makes him one of the world's richest men, is on a check-writing spree that will soon bring his total political contributions in this election cycle to at least $71 million, according to sources familiar with his spending. That money is spread across the spectrum of GOP super PACs, which are required to disclose donors, and nonprofits, which are not.

Adelson and his wife, Miriam, along with other family donations, have already reached $36 million, including $10 million to the Romney-backing super PAC Restore Our Future that was reported this week. But two GOP fundraisers familiar with his plans say that Adelson has given or pledged at least $35 million more to three conservative nonprofit groups: the Karl Rove-linked Crossroads GPS, another with ties to billionaires Charles and David Koch and a third with links to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

Egypt Elections: One Day Before Vote For President, Many Doubt Success Of Revolution

CAIRO -- As Egyptians prepared to go to the polls on Saturday in what was supposed to be the triumphant culmination of their year and a half old revolution, a sense of despair and frustration settled over the city that helped set the Arab Spring in motion.

The final vote in the presidential election, which is set to take place on Saturday and Sunday, should have been a cause for celebration. Eighteen months after an uprising in Cairo's Tahrir Square brought the end to the dictator Hosni Mubarak's 30 years in power, Egypt would for the first time be choosing its own leader.

Ottawa airport wired with microphones as Border Services prepares to record travellers’ conversations

OTTAWA — Sections of the Ottawa airport are now wired with microphones that can eavesdrop on travellers’ conversations.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is nearing completion of a $500,000 upgrade of old video cameras used to monitor its new “customs controlled areas,” including the primary inspection area for arriving international passengers.

As part of the work, the agency is introducing audio-monitoring equipment as well.

Canada Auto Industry Returning To Pre-Recession Norms, Minus Jobs

Canada’s battered auto and transportation sector is bouncing back to life, but jobs in the sector aren't, new data suggests.

In a note to investors on Thursday afternoon, Bank of Montreal economist Robert Kavcic observed that capacity utilization in the auto industry rose to nearly 81 per cent in the first-quarter, not far off the pre-recession level of 83 per cent.

Keystone XL Pipeline: New Review Begins In U.S.

CALGARY - A new review into TransCanada Corp.'s politically-charged Keystone XL oil pipeline has begun.

In a notice posted to its website Friday, the U.S. State Department said the new environmental assessment will consider a different route through Nebraska to avoid the ecologically-sensitive Sandhills region.

Agencies, organizations and members of the public have until the end of July to comment on possible environmental issues, ways to lessen those impacts and the scope of the study.

Cuts to silence radio’s Voice of Canada broadcast

OTTAWA — In apparent collaboration with the Conservative government, CBC is slashing 80 per cent of Radio Canada’s budget and busting the venerable Voice of Canada international shortwave service down to an Internet radio station.

The $10 million cut — from $12.3 million to $2.3 million — will shut out access to Radio Canada broadcasts for swaths of the world’s population — including China, where RCI’s Internet site is blocked, and to millions of people in India and South America — all major Canadian trading partners.

Why China’s slowdown could mean big trouble for Canada’s economy

A comforting narrative has emerged about our fair northern nation. It goes something like this: While the United States has been reckless in its lending, Canada is the smaller, prudent neighbour. So as the U.S. housing bubble burst and financial crisis ensued, Canada remained a well-regulated rock.

And speaking of rocks, the great northern land just happens to have the commodities required for the fast-growing economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Science, not politics, should be at the heart of fisheries

Four good men with extensive government experience tried to stop the Harper government. Predictably, they failed – predictably, because this government listens to almost no one who actually knows about given policy fields.

In this instance, four former ministers of Fisheries and Oceans from previous Progressive Conservative and Liberal governments pleaded with the Harperites not to water down environmental protection for fish habitats.

Harper’s chief of staff takes lead on Trans-Pacific talks, irking cabinet members

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has parachuted in chief of staff Nigel Wright, a former Bay Street deal-maker, to help steer efforts aimed at winning U.S. approval for Canada to join talks on a trans-Pacific free-trade zone.

It’s an unusual move given that International Trade Minister Ed Fast normally leads the file, and it speaks to the urgency of Canada’s desire to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks.

Canada’s immigration minister, Jason Kenney, shouts for a living

Surrounded by speech writers skilled in the toadying arts, politicians can be as sonorous or affectionate, even slightly scolding, as they wish. Or they can just be themselves, which is never advisable.

If your public communications reveal you as greasy or possibly unwell, you have caring staff on hand to save you. But you don’t have to listen!

A federal minister of the Crown sent out a press release last week that I downloaded and read with great joy. Aimed at every journalist in the country, it throbbed with large rage, it bellowed and blew. The statement had a red swollen face. Its jaws were so clenched it had temporal mandibular syndrome.