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.]

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

'Working premise' that Canadians don't engage in vote suppression wrong, says Wrzesnewskyj

PARLIAMENT HILL—The former Liberal MP awaiting a Supreme Court of Canada ruling on whether he should have a second chance to contest the Toronto riding he lost to a Conservative by only 26 votes last year claims his experience with voting irregularities and other allegations from the 2011 election demonstrate the “working premise” of fair voting in Canada “no longer holds.”

Borys Wrzesnewskyj, a businessman who has spent more than $250,000 of his own money in a long court battle to get the razor-thin result overturned, says regardless of whether the Supreme Court agrees with an earlier court ruling there were enough voting irregularities to set aside the victory by Conservative MP Ted Opitz (Etobicoke Centre, Ont.), the ground has shifted dramatically in Canadian politics and a massive overhaul of federal election law is required.

Road scholars: B.C.’s cash-strapped students take to living in their cars

As Vancouver’s university students stare down the final weeks of August, attention turns to where to live come Sept. 1. For some, faced with rising rents and long waiting lists for on-campus housing, the solution is extreme: Moving into their cars.

“I decided, to save money, I’m going to try living in my van as long as I can,” said Anna Baignoche, a master’s student at the University of British Columbia. She lived in her van part-time during the past three years.

Enbridge pipeline saga shows limits of Stephen Harper’s bully-boy tactics

Back in January, Stephen Harper made the strategic decision to bulldoze through a proposed pipeline from Alberta’s oilsands to the British Columbia coast.

Eight months later that Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is in mortal danger, in large part because the prime minister’s take-no-prisoners approach has had the perverse effect of galvanizing the project’s opponents.

But the pipeline saga has also revealed the limitations of Harper’s particular brand of deceitful politics.

Rogers Misleading Advertising Case Heads To Ontario Court

Call it a case of Tea Party thinking infecting Canadian business.

Rogers Telecommunications, having been ordered to pay a $10-million penalty for misleading advertising, is arguing before an Ontario court this week that regulations preventing it from providing false information violate its Charter right to freedom of expression.

If the Ontario Superior Court of Justice rules in Rogers’ favor and against the Competition Bureau -- which levied the penalty against Rogers -- it could open the door to an anything-goes approach to advertising in Canada.

Private garbage collection begins west of Yonge

A private company began collecting household garbage west of Yonge St. and east of Etobicoke on Tuesday morning, taking over from city workers.

The company, Pickering-based GFL, was awarded the job in October. Its seven-year contract is expected to save the city $11 million per year.

The outsourcing of garbage collection was one of Mayor Rob Ford's key campaign promises. Council's 32-13 vote to approve outsourcing for 165,000 households west of Yonge was one of his most significant victories.

Rupert Murdoch: Paid Sick Leave Rules Will Kill Small Businesses

Rupert Murdoch doesn’t care if you’re feeling under the weather.

The billionaire head of News Corp. on Sunday came out against a proposed New York City law that would force some local businesses to grant employees more paid sick time. Murdoch criticized The New York Times on Twitter for a Sunday editorial in favor of the city proposal, which would affect more than 1.2 million workers.

Israel Arrow Missile Defense System Upgraded

JERUSALEM -- Israel has upgraded its top-tier Arrow II missile defense, a Defense Ministry official confirmed Sunday, as the country girds for possible attacks from Iran and Syria.

Sensors, command and control equipment and radar have been enhanced to improve reach and accuracy, the official confirmed without elaborating. He would not say how many Arrow II batteries are deployed around the country and spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the military's preparations.

Nigeria Violence: Gunmen Storm Church, Kill 19 Worshipers

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Gunmen fired on a worship service in a church in central Nigeria, killing at least 19 people — including the pastor — and wounding others in a nation often divided by religion, the military said Tuesday.

The attack targeted a Deeper Life church in the town of Otite in Kogi state, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) southwest of Nigeria's capital Abuja. Blood stained the floors of the church as police and soldiers surrounded it Tuesday morning, witnesses said. It was unclear how many people were wounded in the attack Monday night.

Food prices set to skyrocket thanks to U.S. drought

WASHINGTON - Drought in the U.S. farm belt may result in higher prices for poor people around the world, according to the head of an agricultural think tank who on Monday also recommended a halt to ethanol production from corn.

Shenggen Fan, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute, said the global spike in food prices in 2008 showed how poor crops and tight supplies have wide impact. I FP RI is the analytical arm of a coalition of agricultural research facilities.

The real legacy of 1812? It never happened again

Canada, as a nation of immigrants (many of them recently arrived), is constantly reinventing itself. Part of this is an ongoing effort to reinvent the past, so as to make it fit with a desired present and a hoped-for future. Our current government is doing this, at least in English Canada, around a 1950s ideal of deference to the monarchy and to a military legacy that most Canadians do not know much about.

While this may not be to everyone’s taste, there is nothing inherently Conservative in trying to manipulate the past for political purposes. The Liberals spent many years trying to create an image of Canada that revolved around supposedly historic attachments to concepts of multiculturalism and “peacekeeping,” both of them frequently misunderstood ideas that had little to do with Canadian history until relatively recently.

Competition, not co-operation, is the key to energy development

Many see the emerging rift between Alberta and British Columbia over compensation for the Northern Gateway pipeline as hampering energy development by stalling the creation of a national energy strategy. However, calls for a strategy may themselves be the fundamental cause of the political fallout.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford has been leading the charge for the provinces to agree to a common plan for developing Canada’s energy resources. The outcome of the latest meeting of the premiers is that Ms. Redford will be part of a working group to develop the strategy. Meanwhile, B.C. Premier Christy Clark promised not to sign on to any such strategy until the province receives “its fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits” of the proposed Northern Gateway project.

Quebec election 2012: Charest will not repeal Bill 78 if re-elected

SAINTE-MARIE, QUE.—Two thousand professors in Quebec and around the world have signed a manifesto declaring their support for striking students in the province, a move that forced Premier Jean Charest on Monday to once again defend his controversial Bill 78.

Making a pro-student statement in the midst of a heated provincial election campaign, lecturers from the province’s colleges and universities are criticizing the emergency legislation for forcing students and teachers back to school next week.

Federalism upside down: Who speaks for Canada now?

Something strange is going on. It is as though a ventriloquist had taken control of our federal and provincial leaders and was making them speak with each other’s voices.

While the federal government defends classical federalism, the provinces rise to argue for pan-Canadianism. Veterans of the constitutional wars must be shaking their heads in disbelief.

However, while this role-reversal may be disorienting, it is not just a muddle. The premiers are quite literally re-inventing the federation — and, in our view, not a moment too soon. To see why, let us start by providing some context.

Medical insurance needs rethink

A recent guest editorial (We tinker with the Canada Health Act at our peril, July 24) relies on ill-founded arguments in suggesting that the nearly 30-year-old Canada Health Act should remain unchanged.

Perhaps the most troublesome and outdated aspect of the act is the fiscal punishment it allows the federal government to mete out if patients con-tribute to the cost of their own medical care. In order to comply with the Canada Health Act, the B.C. Medical Services Plan (MSP) prohibits such payments for some (not all) medical care. MSP does so because other-wise the federal government can claw back its fiscal transfers to B.C. under the Canada Health Act, to punish the province if patients pay directly (instead of indirectly, through their taxes) even a small part of the cost of their own care.

Harper skirts oil pipeline issue at Tory barbecue

VANCOUVER - Prime Minister Stephen Harper successfully avoided any public discussion about the controversial proposed Northern Gateway project Monday during a visit to the heart of anti-pipeline territory.

Supporters attending an annual barbecue hosted by Conservative Sen. Gerry St. Germain surrounded Harper, who took to the podium late and didn't take media questions. His speech skirted the topic of Asian-Pacific trade and environmental review.

No buyout for former Alberta Health CFO? Really?

Alberta Health Services CEO Dr. Chris Eagle announced categorically in a news release today there will be no buyout for Allaudin Merali, the health care agency's former chief financial officer whose controversial expense account practices in a previous job were at the centre of a storm of controversy last week.

But are we seriously expected to believe a man who would claim a single loonie plugged into a parking meter is going to say goodbye to a buyout of $500,000 without a fight?

And Merali would seem to have a case. After all, Health Minister Fred Horne got up on his hind legs in front of a room full of reporters on Thursday and stated Merali broke no rules when he filed his $346,208 in expenses to the now-defunct Capital Health Region between 2005 and 2008, the time period in which CBC investigative journalist Charles Rusnell was writing about in his shocking report.

A nightmare on Main St: The CMHC and the Canadian housing bubble

The numbers are becoming increasingly clear; the bloom is off of the Canadian real estate bubble and boom.

Among a variety of indicators, sales of condos in the second quarter of this year in Toronto have fallen by half and a record number of units were left unsold. In Vancouver July residential sales were the lowest for any July in ten years and fell 11.2% from the month of June.

While prices are not dropping yet, the fact that commentators from the business and real estate communities themselves believe a 15% downward adjustment in prices is imminent means that we can likely expect a greater decrease. These are, after all, people whose best interests are served by minimizing any potential housing market panic.

Murder trial of fallen Chinese politician’s wife tightly controlled to keep out corruption claims

HEFEI, CHINA—The wife of a fallen Chinese leader goes on trial Thursday on charges of murdering a British businessman in a politically charged case that may have little to do with whether she really killed him.

Instead, the trial of Bo Xilai’s wife, Gu Kailai, is seen largely as a tightly managed way for the leadership to cauterize a political scandal that has embarrassed the Communist Party.

Toronto police TAVIS stop of four teens ends in arrests, captured on video

Four teenaged men — three with braces in place to straighten smiles — drape their sprouting frames over chairs in a stuffy second-floor room overlooking a common area in the Neptune Dr. public housing complex, where a police encounter they had went dangerously wrong.

No, they agree, they will never again try to exercise their rights when confronted by police.

Honoring America's Veterans Act Signed By Obama, Restricting Westboro Military Funeral Protests

President Barack Obama signed the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 into law on Monday, providing a wide-ranging package of benefits to military personnel and enacting new restrictions on protests of service member funerals.

"We have a moral sacred duty to our men and women in uniform," Obama said before signing the bill, according to a pool report. "The graves of our veterans are hallowed grounds."

Adam 'Ademo' Mueller, Journalist And Founder, Faces 21 Years In Jail After Reporting School Police Brutality

Adam "Ademo" Mueller, a journalist and co-host of radio show Free Talk Live, is facing 21 years in prison for reporting on police brutality toward students at a Manchester, N.H. high school.

Mueller, also founder of, has been charged with three felony counts of wiretapping, each of which carries a 7-year maximum penalty. is an online project that, according to its site, seeks police accountability and "curtail the all-too-common rights-violations and unaccountability that today exists."

Trayvon Martin's Family Sued By Insurance Company Disputing Mother's Claim Against Homeowners

Trayvon Martin’s mother is being sued by an insurance company trying to absolve itself from any liability in the teen’s death, according to an attorney for Martin’s family.

Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America has sued Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, and The Retreat at Twin Lakes Homeowner’s Association, the gated community where Martin was shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in late February.

Winchester, Connecticut 'Systematically' Discriminated Against Minorities: Lawsuit

A Connecticut town has been accused of working to keep predominately white neighborhoods just that way.

The Housing Authority of Winchester, Connecticut, "systematically and unlawfully" discriminated against minorities in its administration of a federal housing subsidy program, according to a new lawsuit. By giving housing vouchers to mostly white people, the town was "ensuring that overwhelmingly-White communities remain overwhelmingly-White," the lawsuit says (h/t Courthouse News).

Romneys, caught in housing bust, got tax cut in La Jolla

Mitt and Ann Romney were easily able to afford a $12-million La Jolla home.

But that didn't insulate them from the winds buffeting the real estate market in the months following their purchase in 2008.

After paying cash for the Mediterranean-style house with 61 feet of beach frontage, they asked San Diego County for dramatic property tax relief.

Student Associations Issue Election Wish List

Student leaders have released a 20-page election wish list to help fellow students make an informed decision when they cast their ballot on Sept. 4.

The college students association (FECQ) and the university students association (FEUQ), which together represent over 200,000 students in the province, have made about 30 demands for political parties to consider during the campaign.

Wade Michael Page Identified As Sikh Temple Shooting Suspect

The suspect in the Sikh temple shooting who killed six in Wisconsin on Sunday has been identified as 40-year-old Wade Michael Page.

Authorities told CBS News this morning that Page -- who was also killed in a shootout with cops -- opened fire at a suburban Milwaukee temple, critically wounding three and killing six worshipers during Sunday services.

Page is reportedly a former U.S. Army soldier, once attached to the Fort Bragg Army installation in North Carolina, Fox News reported.

Police and the FBI haven't revealed a possible motive in the Sunday morning rampage that shocked Oak Creek.

A man claiming to be Page's landlord told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said that he was white and single. The duplex Page rented from Kurt Weins was searched by police on Sunday.

An agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms told ABC News that the shooter had tattoos. The station also cited unnamed sources who alleged that the shooter was possibly a "skin head" or "white supremacist."

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: --

Quebec election: Marois says ‘odious’ federal EI overhaul is more reason for independence

ÎLES-DE-LA-MADELAINE, QUE.—The federal government’s overhaul of the employment insurance system is yet another example of why Quebec needs independence, says Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois.

In an region that relies on tourism and fishing for its survival, many people here are preoccupied with Ottawa’s plan to force repeat users of the EI system into a similar occupation with a comparable wage if they can’t find a job on their own.

Ottawa’s plan to allow private property on reserves re-ignites debate

With Ottawa signalling it plans to table a new law allowing first nations to sell reserve land – to members and outsiders alike – it marks the end of a campaign years in the making. Critics warn it will only alienate many first nations groups while serving no real purpose, arguing adequate land ownership laws already exist.

The debate centres on whether first nations need full land ownership, known as fee simple, to trigger housing and economic development on more than 600 reserves. In doing so, they risk giving up control of parcels of reserve land.

Fearing advocacy, Ottawa rejects HIV/AIDS funding proposals

Health Canada has turned down funding for an HIV/AIDS charity for fear it might result in advocacy – an indication of a growing tendency within the Conservative government to steer clear of groups pushing causes out of step with its policies.

The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, whose mission is to promote the human rights of people living with or at risk of contracting the virus, has received a significant portion of its funding from Ottawa over its 20-year existence.

Growing opposition to northern British Columbia pipeline will test Canada PM Stephen Harper

The small northern B.C. town of Smithers, population 6,000, is thousands of kilometres from Battle Creek, Mich. But the spill from an Enbridge Inc. pipeline that dumped 840,000 gallons of heavy crude oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River on July 25, 2010 was very much on the minds of people in Smithers when Ottawa’s regulators came to town.

“There will always be a question in our minds,” Mayor Taylor Bachrach this week told the federal hearings on a pipeline to carry Alberta oilsands crude to supertankers on the B.C. coast.

Canadian miltary intends to spend $1 billion on armed drones

Senior Canadian defence leaders pitched the idea of spending up to $600 million for armed drones to take part in the Libyan war shortly before the conflict ended, according to documents obtained by the Citizen.

And while the death of Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi effectively ended the war and scuttled the Defence Department’s plans, the military has now relaunched its program to purchase unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that can be outfitted with missiles and other bombs. According to DND documents the military intends to spend around $1 billion on the project.

Racism and violence, past and present: Understanding the Wisconsin shooting

Yesterday morning the orgies of the lone gunman took hold in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, a town in the dragnet of Milwaukee. He targeted a Gurdwara, the religious home of the local Sikh community. The gunman entered the Gurdwara, and as if in mimicry of the school shootings, stalked the worshippers in the halls of the 17,000 square foot "Sikh Temple of Wisconsin."

Police engaged the gunman, who wounded at least one officer. The gunman killed at least seven Sikhs, wounding many more. He was then killed. A few hours after the shooting Ven Boba Ri, a committee member of the Gurdwara told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "It's pretty much a hate crime. It's not an insider."

UN ignores abuse by peacekeepers in Congo

What do we do when those we entrust with our greatest hopes betray that trust? If the betrayers are United Nations peacekeepers, the answer seem to be nothing at all. There is distressing new evidence, most of it reported here for the first time, that foreign soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo can sexually and violently violate young girls with impunity so long as they wear that iconic blue beret or blue helmet.

This is not, alas, a unique story. Documented cases of girls being victimized by UN forces -- or, more precisely, the troops from the many countries who serve in UN missions -- has a long and squalid history. The landmark 1996 UNICEF study The Impact of Armed Conflict on Children reported that "In 6 out of 12 country studies, the arrival of peacekeeping troops has been associated with a rapid rise in child prostitution." A review eight years later concluded that prostitution and sexual abuse followed most UN interventions. "Even the guardians have to be guarded," it concluded.

Majority of Quebeckers feel their government is corrupt: poll

A large majority of Quebeckers feel their provincial government is corrupt, according to a new Léger Marketing poll,.

The results confirm that the issue of corruption is at the heart of the ongoing election campaign, and will remain so with the arrival in the race of anti-corruption crusader Jacques Duchesneau as a candidate for the upstart Coalition Avenir Québec.

Swiss fight reputation as dirty money haven

Valentin Zellweger is on a mission to fight a perception shared around the world by the rich and penniless alike: that Switzerland is a haven for dirty money.

As of the head of international law at the Swiss foreign ministry in Bern, Mr. Zellweger has become the public face of the Swiss campaign to identify and return hundreds of millions of dollars in assets linked to the regimes thrown out of Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt last year. Some 570 million Swiss francs ($588-million) linked to the regimes of Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, Moammar Gadhafi and Hosni Mubarak is currently frozen, and another 550 million francs has already been released.

China: Is it really our economic saviour?

It might seem that for Canada, the commercial stakes in China have never been higher. Same goes for our European and American peers, all eager to crack a Chinese market of burgeoning affluence.

The Tangier Lobster Co. of Nova Scotia, whose seasonal workforce ranges from 14 to 22 employees, is determined to boost Chinese exports to compensate for a drop in sales to a U.S. mired in economic malaise.