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.]

Friday, September 14, 2012

Do corporate tax cuts really pay for themselves?

A new paper by Jack Mintz (with Duanjie Chen) argues that "corporate tax reductions of more than 30 per cent since 2000 have, contrary to the critics' cries, failed to make an appreciable dent in tax revenues thanks to multinationals' habit of shifting profits to Canada to take advantage of lower rates."

This is the subject of a report in ipolitics, contrasting the argument of Mintz and Chen report to last year's "Corporate Tax Freedom Day" report by the Canadian Labour Congress.

'New Generation' Tanks Announced By MacKay At CFB Gagetown

Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay announced what he's calling a new generation of tanks at CFB Gagetown Thursday.

Members of the Combat Training Centre’s Armour School showcased the capabilities of the latest tanks — the Leopard 2A4 Canadian tank.

Ottawa bought the tanks from Netherlands in 2007 as part of a $650-million tank replacement project.

A total of 42 Leopard 2A4 Canadian tanks will be delivered to the Canadian army by the end of 2013, with the first five now serving at the Armour School at Gagetown.

“Our government’s procurement of this impressive platform will ensure the Canadian Forces have the capability they need to support future operations," MacKay said in a news release.

According to the federal government, recent military operations in Afghanistan proved that tanks like the Leopard 2A4 Canadian tank are essential in providing protection, mobility and firepower to soldiers.

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: cbc

Canadian Auto Workers Strike? CAW's Battle With Big 3 Marks Pivotal Moment For Unions In Canada

One of the most intense rounds of auto-sector contracts talks in recent memory could become a defining moment in the struggle of Canada’s labour movement to regain its footing amid flagging membership, a decline in public support and a tougher corporate stance.

If the Canadian Auto Workers union (CAW) cannot reach an agreement with Ford, Chrysler and General Motors by 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday, more than 20,000 hourly auto workers could walk off the job in what would be the first CAW strike at an auto plant since 1996.

There’s Nothing Inevitable About Eduflation

It might have been my imagination (or perhaps wishful thinking), but in the midst of this year’s back-to-school media coverage, the issue of student debt seemed a little more prominent than usual.

At least two surveys identified high levels of debt ($28k on average), and the stress—more than that of finding a job or getting good grades–this is causing students. The federal government estimates the cost of a university degree (including accommodation, tuition, food and other expenses) to be $60k for a four-year degree, while a separate survey put that figure at closer to $80k.

And every year around this time, Statistics Canada releases its revised tuition fee figures for the previous year and makes projections for the next, along with the annual percentage increase.

Dead Gitmo Prisoner's Tragic Letter About Why He Gave Up on Life

Adnan Latif was found dead in his cell on September 10th, 2012, just a day before the eleventh anniversary of 9/11. He was 32. Latif, a Yemeni citizen, had been detained at Guantanamo Bay for over a decade, despite a 2010 court ruling that ordered the Obama administration to “take all necessary and appropriate diplomatic steps to facilitate Latif's release forthwith," due to lack of evidence that he had committed any crime. He suffered at the hands of the US government in ways that most people can't begin to comprehend, and his death should be a reminder that the national shame that is Guantanamo Bay lives on and now enjoys bipartisan support.

Enviros plan mass sit-in at BC legislature over Gateway pipeline

VANCOUVER -- Environmentalists are organizing what they're calling the "largest act of peaceful civil disobedience" in Canada to protest the proposed Northern Gateway oil pipeline from Alberta to the B.C. coast.

Greenpeace Canada says a mass sit-in planned for the front lawn of the B.C. legislature in Victoria on Oct.22 is backed by more than 80 leaders from the business, First Nations, environmental, labour and academic communities across Canada.

The group says those supporters include environmentalist David Suzuki, former Canadian UN ambassador Stephen Lewis, Council of Canadians chair Maude Barlow, lawyer Clayton Ruby, author Naomi Klein and economist Mark Jaccard.

Barlow says the protest will show that you can’t gut Canada’s environmental laws and try to put a price tag on the B.C. coast without a public response.

Environmentalist Tzeporah Berman says the risk of oil spills from pipelines and tankers is too great and it's time to take a stand to defend the B.C. coast.

The sit-in is aimed building on similar protests last year, including one in Ottawa in September and another in Washington D.C. in August that opposed the Keystone XL pipeline.

Original Article
Source: the tyee
Author: The Canadian Press

Opposition parties ready to battle another omnibus budget bill as Parliament resumes

Here we go again.

Parliament resumes next week and it looks as if the Harper government is set to introduce another large budget implementation bill.

According to PostMedia News, the new bill will likely be introduced early in the Fall session and will include "changes to pension plans for federal employees and parliamentarians, a potential sell-off of government assets, and 'refocusing' the National Research Council to concentrate more on demand-driven research that's relevant to industry."

Lucien Bouchard says PQ’s ‘radical’ election platform led to minority government

MONTREAL—If it is hardest to take criticism from those you love, then the strip that Lucien Bouchard has torn off his former party this week must be really stinging Pauline Marois’ newly elected Parti Québécois government.

The former Quebec premier from 1996-2001 — one of the architects of the 1995 referendum — is making the rounds this week to promote a new book about his reflections on a life in politics. He has been weighing in heavily on last week’s provincial election, which resulted in the PQ winning a weak minority government.

Rob Anders Newsletter Slammed By Canadian Islamic Congress For Comparing 'Islamic Terrorism' With War Of 1812

Tory MP Rob Anders is under fire for comparing the War of 1812 with "Islamic terrorism" in a newsletter to constituents.

The Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) issued a statement Wednesday condemning Anders after HuffPost Canada reported on the mail-out from the MP for Calgary West.

Concessions from CAW come with a Canadian catch

The Canadian Auto Workers union wants new investments at the Canadian plants of the Detroit Three auto makers in return for the concessions it has put on the table.

“We think the proposal we’ve made keeps us competitive with the U.S. plants and the all-in active wage costs in the U.S. and it won’t handicap or hurt us in terms of investments in Canada,” CAW secretary-treasurer Peter Kennedy said Thursday.

Alberta backs foreign oil deals

Alberta Premier Alison Redford voiced pointed support for foreign investment during a trade mission in China, just as Ottawa is reviewing the merits of China’s ambitious bid to acquire Canada’s Nexen Inc.

Ms. Redford and other Canadian leaders assembled Thursday in Beijing with senior Chinese government and business officials, who made the case for the $15.1-billion (U.S.) deal to serve as a catalyst for greater economic ties between the nations.

In the CNOOC-Nexen decision, less strategy might be more

The overwhelming reaction from experts to the friendly bid by China National Offshore Oil Corp. for Calgary-based Nexen Inc. has been to urge Canada to be “strategic” in its response to the deal. Indeed, we should be – but being strategic should not mean making policy on the fly.

In late 2007, the Canadian government issued guidelines regarding how it would apply its “net benefit” test, used to screen large acquisitions of Canadian entities by foreign-owned entities, when the latter are state-owned enterprises such as CNOOC. These guidelines require the government to consider whether the state-owned enterprise adheres to Canadian standards of good corporate governance and whether the acquired entity will be able to continue operating on a commercial basis.

Corporate welfare flourishes in lean times

For five years, Mark Milke, a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute, has been churning out highly critical reports on “corporate welfare.”

The right-wing Albertan is an odd successor to former New Democratic Party leader David Lewis, who launched the crusade 40 years ago. Milke is not motivated by a desire to invest in social programs, redistribute wealth, give labour a larger share of the pie or move toward a planned economy. His primary goal is tax relief.

But he is a skilful researcher who uncovers information governments would prefer to keep hidden.

Defence Department Workers to Protest In Peter MacKay’s Riding

The Union of National Defence Employees (UNDE) has been conducting an ad campaign across the country to raise awareness about the layoffs of DND civilian workers.

Union officials are now turning their attention to Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s region and will be hosting a press conference in Halifax on Friday, at 2:30 p.m. to outline their activities there.

“The event is an opportunity for the public to learn about significant cuts to civilian defence workers at military installations across the country and the impact on the communities like Halifax,” UNDE said in a statement.

Tories ask judge to toss pollster’s evidence in robo-calls court challenge

Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are asking a judge to throw out all evidence provided by pollster Frank Graves in support of a legal bid to overturn Tory election victories in seven federal ridings.The Conservatives say Mr. Graves, president of Ekos Research, is unfit to be an expert witness because, they charge, he’s biased against their party.

Rather than being an impartial source, they allege in a notice of motion filed on Sept. 11 in federal court, Mr. Graves is “personally invested in the narrative that voter suppression did take place.”

Unbalanced economy fuelling Ontario job losses, Thomas Mulcair says

OTTAWA—Canada’s unbalanced economy has had a “devastating” effect on southern Ontario with the loss of thousands of good-paying manufacturing jobs, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair says.

After spending four days touring the region this week, Mulcair said he’s not backing down on his view that the failure to develop Canada’s resource riches in a sustainable fashion is costing the economy.

“We’re always going to have a resource-based economy. We always have had and always will have . . . We also had a very strong secondary sector. We built up manufacturing. Those were choices that were made,” Mulcair said in an interview Thursday.

Harper: Economy is top priority

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper says shielding the economy from a global broadside is his top priority even if it means balancing the books later rather than sooner.

In an exclusive interview Thursday with Brian Lilley, host of Byline on Sun News Network, Harper said he's surprised at the extent world economies continue to struggle following the 2008-09 financial collapse.

F-35 auditor’s links to defence firm highlights potential conflicts

The company selected to audit figures for the government’s fighter jet secretariat is tied directly to BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin’s UK development and manufacturing partner for the F-35.

While the government maintains there will be no conflict of interest, and outside experts maintain KPMG is credible and capable, the situation presents a familiar problem for the government. With so few major auditing firms, how are apparent conflicts of interest avoided?

The Occupy movement one year on: What is left?

In few days, on September 17, we will commemorate one year since the start of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement -- a movement that many said was inspired by the Arab revolutions and the Indignés movement of Europe. Many activists, including me, thought that this movement would have a long breath and might even bring social change to America and to the world.

One year later, can we still believe so? What worked and what went wrong?

In Controversial Death Row Case, Pennsylvania Prepares to Execute Man Who Killed His Sexual Abusers

Advocates for child victims of sexual abuse are calling on Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett to grant clemency to Terrance "Terry" Williams, who is scheduled to be executed on October 3. In 1986, Williams was convicted of killing Amos Norwood. What the jury in that case did not know is that Norwood had sexually abused Williams and had allegedly violently raped him the night before. Furthermore, Williams had suffered years of physical and sexual abuse by older males. Most recently, evidence has emerged that prosecutors tried to make robbery seem like the motive for the murder, even though Williams’ co-defendant knew about the sexual abuse. A hearing on this part of the case is set to take place today in Philadelphia. Now, as Williams’ execution is set to take place in less than a month, five of the jurors in his case have since come forward to say they believe life without parole would have been the appropriate sentence because they did not know all the facts.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Only teachers and their unions can save public education

Who will save our schools, and public education?

Not Premier Dalton McGuinty, who's bought into the common obsession that the money "just isn't there." So he freezes public sector wages, pulling even more money out of the economy, assuring there'll be even less in taxes to spend on programs, leading to the same death spiral that Europe is following. I know high-school kids who understand this better than Dalton, but maybe it's because they can still take economics and business courses -- although his stress on standardized tests in the "basics" is undermining all that.

AG’s spring report on feds’ F-35 fighter jets attracted ‘massive’ media attention: documents

PARLIAMENT HILL—Auditor General Michael Ferguson’s explosive report released in April on the government’s $25-billion plan to acquire 65 F-35 stealth fighter jets received “massive” media coverage for two weeks after its release and was one of the top three most controversial auditor general reports in the past decade, according to newly-released documents and a ranking of audit report news coverage from the AG’s office.

There were more than 1,000 news stories on the internet about the F-35 audit from its April 3 date of release until April 18 and thousands more “hits” on television and radio news programs, as well as emailed letters from citizens, most of whom expressed support for Mr.  Ferguson as the controversy began raging, according to copies of emails and documents released by the Auditor General’s Office under the Access to Information Act.

Could Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Help Romney Win Race? Up to 1 Million Voters Face Disenfranchisement

With less than two months to go before the November election, we look a new voter ID law in the battleground state of Pennsylvania. Studies have shown as many as one million eligible voters in the state do not have an acceptable identification under the new law, which requires all voters to show a state driver’s license, government employee ID or a non-driver ID card issued by the state. In Philadelphia, it has been estimated that 18 percent of voters lack the proper ID. At least one Republican politician, Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, has already boasted that the new voter ID law will help Mitt Romney win the state. On Thursday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard arguments on whether to allow the controversial law to go into effect or to approve a preliminary injunction. For more, we speak with two guests: Vic Walczak of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and one of the co-counsels who argued the case, and Jessie Allen, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Severing ties with Iran ‘stupid,’ Canada’s envoy from 1970s says

The man who predicted the Islamic revolution in Iran more than three decades ago says he stands strongly opposed to the Harper government’s decision last week to sever diplomatic relations.

“It’s stupid to close an embassy in these circumstances,” said James George, who served as Canada’s ambassador to Iran between 1972 and 1977. “We need to keep an ear open there – our own ear.”

Mr. George, who turned 93 this week, said it is important for Canada to have its own voice “in defending our citizens who are on death row in Iran, and not have to go through another embassy that has other priorities.”

As U.S. opens the vault, Harper warns: Uncertainty is ‘the new norm’

Stephen Harper is warning Canadians that global economic unease is here to stay – a message he’s delivering just as MPs prepare to return to Parliament to pass the remainder of the Conservative restraint budget.

“I am sort of coming, and I think many Canadians are coming, to see a lot of this uncertainty as the new norm,” the Prime Minister said in an interview with the Sun News Network on Thursday.

The Conservatives owe it to voters to explain cutting ties to Iran

OTTAWA—If Stephen Harper and John Baird had a sliver of confidence in the ability of Canadians to absorb information and come to rational judgments, we would not, one week later, still be asking questions about the closing of our embassy in Iran.

Instead, aided and abetted by their friends in some quarters of the Canadian media, we are now being asked to believe that the Conservative government was clairvoyant in shutting down the Tehran embassy.