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.]

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Billions in Hidden Riches for Family of Chinese Leader

BEIJING — The mother of China’s prime minister was a schoolteacher in northern China. His father was ordered to tend pigs in one of Mao’s political campaigns. And during childhood, “my family was extremely poor,” the prime minister, Wen Jiabao, said in a speech last year.

 But now 90, the prime minister’s mother, Yang Zhiyun, not only left poverty behind — she became outright rich, at least on paper, according to corporate and regulatory records. Just one investment in her name, in a large Chinese financial services company, had a value of $120 million five years ago, the records show.

Omnnibus Budget Bill C-45 Fastrack: Government Limits Debate To Speed Passage

OTTAWA - Just one week after introducing it, the Conservative government is moving to fast-track its controversial omnibus budget bill.

The House of Commons passed a motion Thursday to impose time allocation on Bill C-45, essentially limiting how long it can be debated by MPs.

"They've introduced a law and then right away they introduce time allocation," interim Liberal leader Bob Rae said after the motion passed.

Permanent campaign means no rest in target ridings

The Conservatives are undoubtedly effective at targeting and winning swing seats, taking two-thirds of the ridings they set their sights on in 2011.

The opposition MPs who beat them back may be inclined to breathe a sigh of relief. For at least a day, anyway. And then the unofficial campaign begins.

If the intensity of that campaign is a sign of how badly the Conservative Party wants a riding, Liberal MP Irwin Cotler's Mount Royal may be the most coveted riding in Canada.

Flawed Jubilee

The Diamond Jubilee Medal is turning out to be an odd way to honour the Queen: a secretive, ad hoc and politicized national embarrassment. Maurice Vellacott’s nomination of anti-abortion activists Mary Wagner and Linda Gibbons has drawn a lot of criticism. But within the parameters of the program, Vellacott’s choice is defensible. As an MP, Vellacott had the opportunity to nominate a number of people and he thinks the two women have done something noble for their country, even though Wagner is currently in jail.

The problem isn’t that Vellacott thinks these women are heroes or that the medals have gone to people who’ve been charged with crimes. Many activists have sacrificed their freedom in acts of civil disobedience, and many former criminals have gone on to greatness.

Gwen Moore, Congresswoman And Rape Survivor, Reacts To Richard Mourdock's Abortion Remarks

During an appearance on MSNBC on Thursday, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisc.) reacted to Indiana GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's suggestion that pregnancy resulting from rape is "something God intended."

"I have to say of experience that many women and many rape victims and rape survivors have, that there is a visceral reaction," Moore said on Thursday of Mourdock's remarks on the issue of abortion. "I can tell you, after his comments I had to take a lot of deep breaths, to collect myself. A lot of people have sleep problems. Rape survivors, men and women, find that they have a higher degree of alcohol and drug abuse, thoughts of suicide, rape is very serious."

Mike White, Rite-Hite CEO, Warns Employees Of 'Personal Consequences' If Obama Reelected

Employees at Milwaukee manufacturer Rite-Hite better watch out if they vote for President Barack Obama.

The company’s owner and chairman Mike White sent an email to employees this week warning workers of the “personal consequences” they’ll face if Obama is reelected, according to Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel website.

The email told workers that they “should understand the personal consequences to them of having our tax rates increase dramatically if President Obama is re-elected, forcing taxpayers to fund President Obama's future deficits and social programs (including Obamacare), which require bigger government.”

Iraq, Afghanistan War Wounded Pass 50,000

WASHINGTON -- More than 50,000 Americans have been combat-wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001, a grim measure of the cost of more than a decade of war.

According to Defense Department accounting, the number of wounded reached 50,010 on Thursday.

The names of the wounded are not released. Unlike those killed in combat, whose names are released and whose remains are brought home in sober, white-glove ceremony, those who are wounded are flown home on medical evacuation aircraft and carried off on stretchers in anonymity.

Richard Mourdock Backed By GOP Leaders Mitch McConnell, John McCain After Rape Remarks

WASHINGTON -- After initially keeping Richard Mourdock at arm's length for his assertion that pregnancies produced by rape are intended by God, prominent Republicans rallied around the embattled Indiana Senate candidate.

Top among them was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whose chances of taking over the Senate next year could be sunk by Mourdock's intemperate remarks.

Colin Powell Endorses Obama For President

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed President Barack Obama for a second term Thursday.

"You know, I voted for him in 2008 and I plan to stick with him in 2012, and I'll be voting for he and Vice President Joe Biden next month," he said on CBS' "This Morning."

Asked whether it was an endorsement, he said, "Yes."

Powell praised the president's handling of the economy and ending of the Iraq War.

'Israeli attack' on Sudanese arms factory offers glimpse of secret war

No one in Israel is admitting that its pilots carried out a long-range raid against a munitions factory in Sudan, said to be supplying weapons to the Palestinian movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

But no one is denying it either. Amos Gilad, a senior defence ministry official, ducked a direct question, praising the capabilities of Israel's air force and calling Sudan "a dangerous terrorist state".

This is one of those episodes where motive, capability and precedent all matter. Sudan's angry accusation that Israel bombed the Yarmouk factory in Khartoum is highly plausible. The attack appears to offer a rare glimpse of a secret war that has been going on for years.

City Hall’s conspiracy of disgrace

On Oct. 3, retiring city CFO Cam Weldon gave a farewell address to city council. “You need to be nicer to each other,” he said. A couple of hours later, two councillors were on the verge of coming to blows, which tells you all you need to know about the state of civic discourse in Toronto.

Here’s how it happened: At the same meeting, independent ombudsman Fiona Crean was scheduled to formally present her report concluding that Rob Ford’s office had compromised the integrity of the public appointments process by shrinking timelines and interfering with staff. Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti suggested that her report was a politically motivated hatchet job. Questioning the integrity of a city-staff member is a breach of council’s code of conduct, so Mammoliti needed to apologize or be expelled from the chamber. Instead, he argued belligerently for several minutes, then said he’d voluntarily leave the chamber rather than be kicked out.

Dalton McGuinty’s disgraceful exit

From where I sit, Dalton McGuinty had some ups and downs as premier of Ontario for nine years. On the plus side of the ledger: The performance of the education system was shit-hot under his leadership; he introduced a feed-in-tariff for clean energy; passed the City of  Toronto Act; committed to a big investment in Toronto transit construction; began the process of coordinating a regional transportation strategy in the GTA under Metrolinx; and delivered labour peace for a couple terms of office. On the minus side: he presided over—and passed the laws that enabled—the G20 policing fiasco; stood by scandal after scandal in his ministries; mismanaged the introduction of the FIT; backed off, repeatedly, his investment in transit building (an investment already inadequate to our needs); saw Metrolinx turn into a do-nothing-fast process shop; and brought an abrupt end to the labour peace he’d created by becoming bad cop to the same unions he’d been good-copping for so long. And I’m not sure if it was a good or a bad thing, but he sure rained money down on tech and innovation startups to compensate for a weak-ass venture-capital climate here in Canada.

Doug Ford doesn’t understand much about the private sector

In the City Hall drinking game, every time Councillor Doug Ford gets up and starts a speech with the words “folks, let me tell you how it works in the private sector…” you have to chug. Which is why there is so much drunkenness around the Bay and Queen area.

A lot of Ford opponents most loudly object to this rhetorical crutch on the grounds that you cannot and should not run government like a business, since they are two different types of enterprises with two very different goals. (Short version: for most government enterprises, the smart business move would be to shut them down, since they will never be profitable, since the very reason they exist is to deliver services that are not profitable to deliver.) But when we get hung up on that point of principle, we also let slip another major observation, which is that Doug Ford appears to be completely financially illiterate.

Rob Ford’s big lie

At Rob Ford’s executive committee meeting last week, city councillors had a long (and long overdue) discussion about ways to pay for public transit expansion in Toronto. A staff report put a lot of options on the table: a one per cent city sales tax, a one per cent personal income tax, road tolls, fuel taxes, parking taxes, vehicle registration taxes…

So, which option, the mayor was asked, would he support? None of the above, he told the press. “There’s other options, and a P3’s the way to go,” he said. “I’m not going to implement a new tax or a new user fee.”

By “P3,” he meant “public-private partnership.” But, as the staff report made clear, such partnerships are just one method of building things, not a source of funding. It is as if, asked to name his favourite vegetable, Ford had answered, “Fork!”

Why suburban commuters benefit most from our downtown subways

Under Mayor Rob Ford’s well-established transit policy, the vehicle of choice is “Subways! Subways! Subways!” and the funding plan is a literally incredible combination of happy thoughts and private-sector pixie dust. Earlier this year, that thinking led Ford to a bitter showdown with city council, in which his underground scheme was struck down by the power of city council’s reality-based LRT plan.

Now that council has returned for the fall, transit is again dominating the agenda. A report on funding options—waved away by Ford as unnecessary taxes and user fees—seems likely to continue the City Hall antagonisms. But this week, TTC staff revealed to council that we’re in desperate need of—get this—a new subway line known as the  “Downtown Relief Line.”

Ladies, Don't Fall for Moderate Mitt!

Dear Undecided Women Voters of America: It’s been fun watching you force the candidates to pay attention to the stuff men really don’t like to think about—equal pay and abortion and “legitimate rape” and all that. I love you, women! as Ann Romney likes to say. But we’re getting down to the wire now, and it’s time for you to make up your minds. Because face it, expecting to figure it out in the voting booth is not very considerate toward all the people who will have been waiting in line for hours to cast their ballot. Fortunately, despite Mitt Romney’s multiple, changing and contradictory statements, there are major differences between him and President Obama on all these issues.

Nexen: CNOOC Takeover Will Close This Year

CALGARY - Calgary-based oil and gas producer Nexen Inc. (TSX:NXY), the target of China's largest foreign takeover bid to date, said Thursday it continues to expect the $15.1-billion deal to be completed by the end of this year.

There has been intense interest in the deal, both because of its size and because it may finally shed some light on the Canadian government's policy towards major foreign takeovers — particularly when state-owned companies are involved.

Stephen Harper’s government deletes ‘environment’ from Transport Canada website

OTTAWA-Transport Canada has deleted references to protecting the “environment” from its website in support of a proposed overhaul to a law that was designed to protect navigable waters.

The environmental issues were highlighted in a background web page explaining the role of the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the government’s commitment to consulting Canadians to review its effectiveness.

The page previously explained how the legislation, first adopted in 1882, triggered federal environmental reviews of projects that threatened to disrupt bodies of water.

Mayor Rob Ford, Councillor Doug Ford criticized again by integrity commissioner

Mayor Rob Ford and Councillor Doug Ford violated council’s code of conduct when they disparaged the city’s chief medical officer on their radio show in April, the integrity commissioner has found.

The brothers made their comments on NewsTalk 1010 in discussing Dr. David McKeown’s recommendation to lower speed limits. Rob Ford called McKeown’s $294,302 salary an “embarrassment”; Doug Ford referred to him as “this guy” and twice asked, “Why does he still have a job?”

Navigable Waters Protection Act: 'Environment' Disappears Overnight From Web Description Of Federal Bill

OTTAWA - The word "environment" was suddenly deleted from a federal government website that described Conservative proposals to change the law protecting Canada's navigable waterways.

The Navigable Waters Protection Act is being altered as part of the government's latest omnibus budget bill.

The proposed changes would make the Act apply to fewer bodies of water than before, in a bid to make the system more efficient.

New Canadian Passports: Tories Pushed Design In A Historical Direction

The Conservative government’s fervour for Canadian history will play out on the pages of your new passport, soon to be unveiled after nine years of delays and cost overruns.

After a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign for the War of 1812 and the announcement that they plan to rename the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa as the Canadian Museum of History, the Tories are set to unveil new designs for Canada’s electronic passport that focus on key historical moments, HuffPost has learned.

Bureaucrats at first recommended that the government adopt images of fauna and flora to grace the inside pages of the new travel document, similar to the United Kingdom’s passport, but the Conservatives chose instead to focus on history and follow the example of the United States’ passport with its iconic images from history such as the Declaration of Independence and Mount Rushmore.

“It will be something that Canadians can be proud to carry,” said Rick Roth, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. Roth refused to elaborate on the design sketches that will be part of the new electronic passport, which will be issued for five- and 10-year time periods.

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author:  Althia Raj

None dare call it treason: Jeffrey Delisle's secret sale and Stephen Harper's secret treaty

Is it only me that sees a certain irony in the fact a naval officer who sold military secrets to the now-thoroughly-capitalist Russians for a few thousand dollars has been tossed in the slammer as a traitor by a government that would sign away our country's sovereignty in an all-but secret treaty with the still-Communist Chinese?

It certainly shows the difference a big impact on the right people's bottom lines can have on how the world sees you and your deeds!

Employees beware: The perils of posting on Facebook

The dramatic growth of social media use in Canada on such sites as Facebook has raised novel legal issues for employers and employees. One such issue is whether or not an employee's off-duty conduct online (i.e. posting personal status updates, photos or comments on Facebook at home) can get that employee fired. In short, the answer is yes.

Many Canadians still erroneously believe that what they post on their personal Facebook page is private. They feel little hesitation in coming home after a difficult day at work and griping publicly about their company, boss, co‑workers or quality of work. While it is important to protect freedom of expression and healthy discourse on labour relations issues, posting this type of content online may have serious consequences.

Why I am excited for PowerShift

About a year ago, I held up a sign to Stop Harper. I first got this idea when the Conservatives rejected the climate change bill. I felt helpless because the Conservative government was showing no intent to confront climate change - threatening the very survival of humanity.

While working as a page in the Senate, I felt alone, afraid, and hopeless in the face of a Harper agenda set on attacking people and the environment that sustains us. I witnessed Harper withdrawing funding from social services we value, and handing that money over to rich oil and gas companies. I saw the rejection of the Kyoto Protocol and the expansion of the tar sands.

What I did not see was an investment in a green and just future for all of us.

Why political humour is good for democracy

Political humour has always been an important part of the democratic process. For centuries, political cartoons have channeled dissent, lampooned politicians, and even educated readers. Satire can broach uncomfortable topics, shake up rigid beliefs, and make us more receptive to alternatives.

As Ian Ellis writes, "Political humour, in the hands of our finest satirists, involves delving and questioning, thereby unveiling truths and alternative perspectives the political establishment would prefer kept hidden and unspoken."

In recent years, the U.S. has seen a major resurgence in political humour with The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and to a lesser extent Saturday Night Live serving up savage satire to a huge fan base. These political humour shows are producing more than just chuckles. Academics in the US have found that watching these shows actually improves political engagement among audience members. Viewers are more likely to closely follow the events lampooned by the programs, to attend campaign events, and join political organizations. In some cases, the likelihood of voting even increases among the audience.

U.S.-Israel Military Drill Largest Ever

TEL AVIV, Israel -- The U.S. and Israel simulated rocket attacks during their largest-ever joint military drill Wednesday, just as as real ones fired from Gaza exploded in southern Israel.

U.S. military officials insisted the joint exercise, called Austere Challenge 2012, was planned long before the latest flare-up between Israel and Hamas-ruled Gaza and a long-running debate over how to deal with Iran, unrelated to specific threats facing Israel.

Photos Of Dead Sperm Whale Found In Gulf Raise Questions About Truth Of BP Oil Spill Disaster

Photographs of a dead sperm whale found in the Gulf of Mexico a few weeks after the BP Deepwater disaster have reignited a debate as to the extent of the oil spill damage and the lasting consequences of the ecological tragedy.

On Wednesday, environmental organization Greenpeace released a series of long-anticipated photographs of a bloated and burned juvenile sperm whale that had been found dead on June 15, 2010 -- seven weeks after the start of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster:

The Guardian notes:

    It was the first confirmed sighting of a dead whale since the BP oil spill… a time of huge public interest in the fate of whales, dolphins, sea turtles and other threatened animals -– and yet US government officials suppressed the first reports of the discovery and blocked all images until now.

Paul Ryan Poverty Speech Proposes Reforming Programs For The Poor

In his first policy speech since becoming the Republican vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan said he and Mitt Romney will restore upward mobility and fight poverty in part by limiting the federal government's commitment to safety net programs.

"Upward mobility is the central promise of life in America," Ryan said. "But right now, America’s engines of upward mobility aren't working the way they should. Mitt Romney and I are running because we believe that Americans are better off in a dynamic, free-enterprise-based economy that fosters economic growth, opportunity and upward mobility instead of a stagnant, government-directed economy that stifles job creation and fosters government dependency."

Ending Rape Illiteracy

This week, a DC-based feminist group projected the phrase “rape is rape” onto the US Capitol building. The action was meant to highlight survivors’ stories and bring attention to the way rape is often mischaracterized. The sentiment may seem an obvious one—who doesn’t understand what rape is?—but the message, sadly, is much needed. Tuesday evening at the final Indiana Senate debate, Republican Richard Mourdock explained why he opposes abortion with no exceptions by calling pregnancy from rape "something that God intended"- the latest in a long line of "gaffes" by male politicians about sexual assault. It was only this January that the FBI updated its archaic definition of rape and victim-blaming in the culture and courts runs rampant.

Why the GOP Should Fear a Romney Presidency

What kind of president would Mitt Romney be? And what should we expect from Barack Obama's second term? To answer these questions, I'll draw on the work of Yale political scientist Stephen Skowronek, who has argued that presidents' fortunes depend on how they establish their political legitimacy in the particular circumstances under which which they assume power. In this essay, I'll discuss the prospects for a Romney presidency; in the next, I'll discuss the second term of an Obama presidency.

Sean Eldridge Wants to Curb the Influence of Big Donors—Like Himself

On a Tuesday afternoon in early September, the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte, North Carolina, hummed with the sound of well-heeled Democrats chatting amiably over white wine and hors d'oeuvres. It was the first day of the Democratic National Convention, and donors, lobbyists, and party heavyweights had commandeered the Ritz as their de facto headquarters. Two silver-pated politicos, House Democratic Caucus chair John Larson and former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, now Hollywood's top lobbyist, shared a hug before gliding toward the lobby bar. American Bridge 21st Century super-PAC founder David Brock huddled with an aide near the cupcake bar, waiting for a pause in the pouring rain outside.

Robert Bork? John Bolton?? 9 Advisers Who Have Romney's Ear

One way to understand what a presidential candidate might do if elected is to look at his advisers. Here are nine advisers who are shaping Mitt Romney's views—and could end up shaping his presidency. You may not have heard of them, but you should know about them.

John McCain Pledges To Withdraw Richard Mourdock Support If He Doesn't Apologize

WASHINGTON -- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Wednesday night he will no longer support Richard Mourdock, unless the Indiana Senate candidate apologizes for his recent comments on rape.

"I think it depends on what he does," McCain told CNN's Anderson Cooper, when asked if he still counts himself among Mourdock's supporters. "If he apologizes and says he misspoke and he was wrong and he asks the people to forgive him, then obviously I’d be the first. ... But, you know, in the years that I’ve been around, I’ve made a few, Anderson, and I’ve asked for people's understanding and forgiveness when I won't -- when I own up to it," he continued. "It’s when you don't own up to it when people will not believe you."

DND Budget: Harper Sends Letter To MacKay Saying Cuts Must Go Deeper

OTTAWA - A leaked letter shows the prime minister told Defence Minister Peter MacKay last spring that his initial budget proposals did not cut deep enough on the administrative side of National Defence.

The three-page letter — dated June 15, 2012, and obtained by The Canadian Press — was written to provide "guidance" to MacKay and General Walt Natynczyk as the Conservatives embarked on a rewrite of their marquee defence policy.

With no payoff for politicians, who will reform the system?

It’s a bad time to be on welfare in Ontario. And a tough time to be writing a report on it.

The economy is stalling and the deficit is crippling. The legislature is prorogued and the premier is a lame duck.

Quite a time for Frances Lankin to co-author a landmark report on how to save Ontario’s system of social services from itself.

No special treatment for Rob Ford? Deco documents put the lie to that

When The Globe and Mail first reported that Mayor Rob Ford pressed city staff to make repairs outside his family business this summer, he insisted that “Deco didn’t get any preferential treatment.” That claim now lies gutted like a trout on a dock.

The documents obtained by The Globe’s Elizabeth Church through a freedom of information request show that in fact city staff jumped through hoops – and crawled under backhoes – to accommodate him.

Ontario Liberals reject democratic voting system

As they get over the shock of Dalton McGuinty’s sudden resignation, Ontario Liberals are starting to talk excitedly about the need for “renewal” and “transformation.”

But despite their bold rhetoric, Ontario Liberals are stuck firmly in the past with a leadership selection process complete with an old-fashioned delegate convention that is an affront to modern democracy and a throwback to an era when elite “old boys clubs” ruled our politics.

That’s because the party has refused to heed appeals to change and will instead allow barely 2,000 people to vote at the party’s Jan. 25-27 leadership convention to elect McGuinty’s successor — and Ontario’s next premier.

Ottawa favouring public opinion over rational thought

State-owned enterprises have been active participants in the global economy for decades. In fact, they drive 70 per cent of activity in the global energy sector.

Canada knows a thing or two about so-called SOEs. Not so very long ago we had Petro-Canada, Canadian National and Air Canada. We still have Canada Post, which acquired Purolator Courier to compete with UPS and FedEx. We own “Crown corporations,” such as Ridley Terminals (for which I used to be chairman), which fulfills no discernible public policy purpose other than to generate profits for their owners, the taxpayer.

Kenney explains how feds would use new power to block foreign criminals

OTTAWA - As the federal government seeks new power to block foreigners who present "public policy concerns" from entering Canada, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has drafted guidelines for how the new power would be used.

Kenney tabled the guidelines Wednesday before the Commons immigration committee studying Bill C-43 -- the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act.

Canadians are getting the democracy they deserve

Because most of us take our democracy for granted, Canadian politicians have begun playing fast and loose with some pretty key parliamentary traditions.

No fewer than three premiers, B.C.’s Christy Clark among them, have shuttered their legislatures this fall, all to serve their partisan interests — in actions reminiscent of Stephen Harper’s 2008 and 2009 prorogations of Parliament.

And for the second time this year, Harper’s government disgracefully has introduced an unwieldy omnibus budget bill. It is more than 440 pages in length and features far more than budgetary provisions.

Prison chaplain cutbacks condemned in open letter

Pressure is building for Ottawa to reverse its decision to eliminate part-time prison chaplains across the country.

In a cost-cutting move revealed by CBC News in early October, 49 chaplains' contracts are not being renewed.

Now, 17 of the remaining 71 full-time prison chaplains have signed a letter to the federal government, asking that it reconsider the decision.

There should be no prize for anti-abortion activists who break the law

It was certainly an act of conscience when an opponent of abortion, Mary Wagner, tried to force her way into a Toronto clinic’s inner rooms, got into a physical struggle with a woman as she attempted to do so, and refused to leave when asked to do so by a police officer.

But it was also a crime – mischief – and a violation of her terms of probation that she not be within 200 metres of this particular clinic. And she had a criminal record for committing similar acts of mischief – twice in Vancouver in 2000 and 2001, and twice in Toronto in 2010 and 2011.

For Canada’s “Chronic Condition” no end in sight

Under the Conservatives, the federal government, as we know, is retreating from the field of health care oversight. While the funding is still doled out, it now comes with no strings attached. Such an approach is in contrast to previous governments who tried to get something in return.

The new Conservative approach is a good fit for party ideology, much in keeping with Stephen Harper’s preference for keeping his paws out of provincial jurisdiction. Politically it’s not bad either. One less thorny problem for the prime minister. Notice how, despite the concerns that the current system may be unsustainable, that health care is far from the top of the national discussion.
Jeffrey Simpson’s new book – “Chronic Condition; Why Canada’s Health-Care System Needs to be Dragged Into the 21st Century” – will hopefully help bring the debate to the forefront. The book is a perceptive and penetrating synopsis of the medicare story – where we’ve been, where we are and where we might be going.

Ottawa’s long-term debt plans shelved

The Conservative government no longer has targets for erasing Canada’s federal debt, which grew by $125-billion since the recession.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty confirmed Wednesday that the recession has derailed Ottawa’s long-term debt plans and new targets won’t be set until the government starts posting yearly surpluses again – which is not forecast to happen for three more years.

Feds locked into F-35 fighter jets, despite Ambrose’s promise to consider alternatives, say opposition MPs, point to DND's requirements

PARLIAMENT HILL—Opposition MPs say the federal government is locked in to only one choice for Canada’s new fighter jet—the hotly contested F-35 stealth warplane—despite a pledge from Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose that the Department of National Defence will consider other alternatives.

Ms. Ambrose (Edmonton-Spruce Grove, Alta.) made the promise in Commons Question Period on Tuesday, when NDP MP Matthew Kellway (Beaches-East-York, Ont.) asked for a straight yes-or-no answer about whether the government intends to look at alternatives to the Lockheed Martin F-35, which Auditor General Michael Ferguson disclosed in April would cost a minimum of $25-billion to acquire and operate over 20 years.

Quality concerns arose before TransCanada pipeline blast

A CBC News investigation has learned that TransCanada Pipelines — the Canadian company behind the controversial U.S. Keystone XL pipeline proposal — was troubled by quality-assurance problems on another recent American pipeline that exploded.

The Bison natural-gas pipeline exploded in a remote area near Gillette, Wyo., on July 20, 2011, six months after it went into service.

The explosion blew out a 12-metre section of pipeline and shook buildings more than a kilometre away, but caused no injuries or death.

The Iranians we left behind

When Canada closed its embassy in Tehran last month, it wasn’t just Canadian diplomats who were affected. We left behind a small number of local staff, and their plight deserves attention. Blindsided by Ottawa’s decision, they’re now in danger of becoming collateral damage in the dysfunctional relationship between Canada and Iran.

Canadian embassies are made up of both Canadian and local staff. The Canadians are sent from Canada as diplomats, and locals are recruited to support them. Sometimes local staff are also Canadian citizens – this is the case for some of our former Iranian staff – but they don’t have the same privileges as Canadian staff and are not subject to the same protections.

Securities violations cost Conrad Black $6.1-million

Conrad Black’s scathing critique of the American justice system in his book A Matter of Principle has come back to haunt him in a Chicago court.

A U.S. federal judge has cited comments Lord Black made in the book in ordering the former media tycoon to pay $6.1-million in penalties for violating U.S. securities laws during his time at Chicago-based Hollinger International Inc.

In race to export LNG, a new Atlantic plan

The vision to export natural gas from Canada is taking a sharp turn to the east.

Alfred Sorensen, president of Pieridae Energy Canada, has a dream to build a major liquefied natural gas export facility on Canada’s East Coast, the first of its kind. The $5-billion (U.S.) project is an eastern addition to a race unfolding in Western Canada to build LNG infrastructure that would allow major exports from the coast of British Columbia to global markets.

Conservatives put language rights, bilingualism back into the spotlight

With internal debates over abortion and pension benefits just behind them, the solidarity of the Conservative caucus is about to be put to the test again, this time over language rights.

Within weeks, the House of Commons is expected to vote on an NDP bill that would make fluency in French and English a prerequisite for all future officers of Parliament.

The measure would apply to a list of 10 officials ranging from the auditor general and the chief electoral officer to the privacy commissioner.

Stop vilifying Roma refugees

Something dangerous is happening in our public debates about immigration and refugee policies.

In a recent video segment vulgarly titled “The Jew vs. the Gypsies,” conservative media pundit Ezra Levant went on a diatribe about Roma refugees in Canada.

“These are gypsies,” he tells us, “a culture synonymous with swindlers. The phrase gypsy and cheater have been so interchangeable historically that the word has entered the English language as a verb: he gypped me. Well the gypsies have gypped us. Too many have come here as false refugees. And they come here to gyp us again and rob us blind as they have done in Europe for centuries. . . They’re gypsies. And one of the central characteristics of that culture is that their chief economy is theft and begging.”

Roma group’s complaint against Ezra Levant prompts Toronto police investigation

A complaint about broadcaster Ezra Levant’s rant that likened Gypsies to “swindlers” has prompted a Toronto police investigation.

Toronto’s Roma Community Centre, which has called the rant “overtly racist, prejudicial, and demeaning,” lodged the complaint with police on Oct. 11.