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, July 14, 2012

A Word from Our Sponsors

In his novel “Infinite Jest,” published in 1996, David Foster Wallace imagined a near future in which the Organization of North American Nations—a single nation-state comprised of the former Mexico, United States, and Canada—had for various reasons adopted a policy known as “Revenue-Enhancing Subsidized TimeTM.” In this scheme, calendar years are sponsored by corporations; as a result, they are no longer identified by sequential numerals but instead by product names. Subsidized time began with the “Year of the Whopper.” The action of the novel takes place several product sponsorships later, in the “Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment,” which came after the “Year of Dairy Products from the American Heartland” and before the “Year of Glad.”

Enbridge Ethical Oil Cartoon: Picture Used By Enbridge Showed Scowling Persian Gulf Gas Pump

A presentation by energy firm Enbridge Inc. at a private conference included a drawing of a scowling cartoon gas pump that labelled Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Persian Gulf countries as unethical oil sources.

However, the company says it wasn't singling out those countries for allegedly producing less ethical oil than the Alberta oilsands.

Enbridge fiasco becoming political touchstone

If they haven’t already, executives at Enbridge may want to commence action on Plan B – if there is one.

The company’s dreams of building a pipeline from the oil sands of Alberta to the Pacific are fading fast. Public support for the project in British Columbia is diminishing by the day. And the company can’t find many who want to champion its cause outside of Alberta.

Stephen Harper is blind to science

Ottawa has seen countless demonstrations over the decades, none more poignant or disturbing than what unfolded Tuesday when hundreds of scientists took to the street to protest what they call “the Death of Evidence.”

Though the global media covered the event — complete with images of lab-coated geeks wandering the capital wide-eyed in shock and disbelief — it could only hint at the full import of the event.

Canada's reality suffers from Tory spin

In a 2004 New York Times Magazine article, journalist Ron Suskind recounts a conversation he had with an aide to former U.S. President George Bush:

"The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who believe 'solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works any more,' he continued. 'We're an empire now and when we act, we create our own reality.'"

The dangers of defying democracy

If we've learned just one lesson from the last federal election, it is that voters don't define democracy by what happens on Parliament Hill.

Were this the case, surely then minority-government Prime Minister Stephen Harper would have been either tossed out (or at least returned to the purgatory of another minority government) for being found in contempt of Parliament. While this might make Harper the undisputed most-anti-Parliament prime minister we've ever had, does that make him the most anti-democratic? Well, not necessarily. Not according to the voters.

That voters, in their infinite wisdom, 14 months ago decided to give Harper his long-sought-after majority should tell us that the gamesmanship of Parliament is not the aspect of democracy most important to voters. One can see why. Parliamentary fights are seen as the politicians' fight - a scrap over power.

Tory control of Senate could last years, analysis suggests

OTTAWA — Unless Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Senate reform plans succeed, New Democrats and Liberals could be in for a decade — maybe even two — of Conservative rule in the Senate.

A Postmedia News analysis of the current retirement dates for the country's senators suggests the NDP would have to win, at minimum, two consecutive election victories to end Conservative dominance of the Senate. The same is true for the Liberals.

Corporate secrecy and personal privacy are opposites

The ubiquity of digital gadgets and sensors, the pervasiveness of networks and the benefits of sharing very personal information through social media have led some to argue that privacy as a social norm is changing and becoming an outmoded concept. In this conclusion of his seven-part series, Don Tapscott argues we each need a personal privacy strategy.

The issue of personal information has been muddled with the opportunity for corporations to become more transparent. To be sure, as I wrote almost a decade ago in The Naked Corporation (co-author David Ticoll), firms can gain huge benefits from sharing pertinent information with customers, employees and other stakeholders. Corporate secrecy is highly overrated and increasingly companies will become more open in many areas — simply to perform better.

Calgary Stampede Chuckwagon Accident: Vancouver Humane Society Wants Races Stopped After Crash Kills Three Horses

CALGARY - An autopsy has revealed what caused a horse to collapse and die at the Calgary Stampede Thursday night, leading to a crash that killed two others and hurt one more.

The wall of a major blood vessel leading away from the heart weakened and then burst, causing blood to fill the horse's abdomen, Stampede officials said in a release Friday afternoon.

How should liberal democracies deal with China and Russia?

Twenty years after the end of the Cold War, we face a new challenge: how to conserve liberal freedoms once our citizens feel safe enough to take them for granted. Totalitarianism of the left and right, which defined liberalism throughout the 20th century, is no longer there to remind us how precious freedom is. It is up to us all to remember who we are, why liberty matters, why it is a discipline worth keeping to, even when our own sinews tell us to relax.

Harper’s plugged pipeline policy -- Time to change the agenda–again?

What if the major policy initiative of Stephen Harper’s majority mandate is a non-starter?

This will take some explaining. Let’s begin with a pop quiz. You’re in charge of a big pipe that carries liquid a long distance. One day you notice the pressure inside the pipe is dropping. What on Earth could be making the pressure in your pipe fall?

Assisted-suicide ruling to be appealed by Ottawa

The federal government will appeal last month's ruling by the British Columbia Supreme Court that partially struck down Canada's ban on assisted suicide, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson says.

The ruling declared that the Criminal Code section targeting anyone who "aids or abets a person to commit suicide" should not apply to physicians in cases where terminally ill patients request to die.

Natural resources to define first nations leader’s next term

Two months ago, 23-year-old Brendon Grant left his northern British Columbia hometown for San Diego, where he now lives a 10-minute jog from La Jolla beach. He moved south to start work as a junior analyst with RA Capital Advisors LLC, a private investment bank that has worked on more than $60-billion in financial transactions. Next month, he intends to start training toward becoming an investment banker.

Mr. Grant is Haisla, and his is not a traditional career path for a young person whose grandfather taught him to fish salmon and halibut.