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, February 08, 2013

Indigenous sovereigntists speak

As myopic pundits declare the end of Idle No More and questions abound about Idle No More's focus and vision, I sat down with three Indigenous land defenders -- Sam McKay, Freda Huson and Toghestiy -- to talk about Indigenous sovereignty, exercising inherent rights and responsibilities, and protection of the lands and waters.

As Mohawk author Taiaiake Alfred writes, "[T]he only way to keep this movement going is for us to see our actions in Idle No More as part of a larger and long-standing commitment to the restoration of Indigenous nationhood... In practical terms, we need to go beyond demonstrations and rallies in malls and legislatures and on public streets and start to reoccupy Indigenous sacred, ceremonial and cultural use sites to re-establish our presence on our land and in doing so to educate Canadians about our continuing connections to those places and how important they are to our continuing existence as Indigenous peoples."

Bizarre coup plot lands Russian folk hero in jail for 13 years

MOSCOW—A retired Russian military intelligence colonel has been found guilty of leading a bizarre plot that envisioned a group of elderly people taking over the government.

Prosecutors say Vladimir Kvachkov, 64, organized a group who planned to seize power by training crossbow-wielding men to seize military depots and then descend upon Moscow with tanks.

Moscow City Court on Friday sentenced him to 13 years in prison for attempting to organize an armed uprising. A retired police captain, 62-year-old Alexey Kiselev, was sentenced to 11 years as a co-conspirator.

Kvachkov, who denied the charges, became a nationalist folk hero after twice being acquitted for a 2005 assassination attempt on former deputy prime minister Anatoly Chubais, the mastermind of Russia’s 1990s privatization drive.

Original Article
Author: AP

Open letter to Stephen Harper: We need to talk about Senator Brazeau

This is awkward, Stephen. But I think we both need to stop tiptoeing around the issue and just bring it up. When you pass legislation that basically assumes that all the band councils and chiefs in Canada are corrupt, entitled freeloaders, your most visible indigenous spokesperson about the pressing need for legal reform should probably not be Senator Patrick Brazeau. Points for irony, though.

However you feel about Mr. Brazeau -- maybe he’s your best bud, maybe not -- even you have to admit he has some spin issues: Twit spats with reporters, alleged accusations of sexual harassment, losing to Justin Trudeau on a technical knockout, asserting that we don't need a national enquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal woman in Canada, having a guaranteed six-figure income for life and not having to show up to work to collect it. The latest incident at the legion fundraiser where Mr. Brazeau mocked Theresa Spence for being fat and the other Conservative guy joined in by saying the Idle No More movement isn't brown enough for his taste risk being construed as, at the very least, size-ist.

Obama’s Drone Man Escapes the Senate Unscathed

With his broad shoulders, cauliflower ears, big nose, and hooded eyes, John Brennan looked a bit like a farmer or a burly priest, perhaps, from Roscommon, the county in central Ireland from which his father emigrated sixty-five years ago. When he spoke, though, it was in the rapid-fire diction of someone brought up in North Bergen, New Jersey, a few miles west of the Hudson. Several times, he said that he was known for speaking his mind regardless of the consequences. But this was not the occasion to exhibit such candor. For President Obama’s nominee to head the C.I.A., a veteran spy known principally for his role as the keeper of the White House’s “kill list,” It was a day for keeping his own head down and flattering his inquisitors.

Obama And The Drone Awakening

A strange thing happened in America this week: The country started to show signs of outrage over the Obama administration's targeted killing program. The occasion: the leak of a now infamous Department of Justice white paper to NBC's Mike Isikoff outlining the legal arguments the administration has used to justify the secret killings of three American citizens — one of them a 16-year-old boy — since 2009. That memo became the basis for today's confirmation hearings of drone program architect John Brennan, the Obama administration's intelligence guru who is currently chasing David Petraeus' old job as director of the CIA. (Brennan reportedly was the first to tell Petraeus he needed to resign.)

Federal Prison Population Soars By 790 Percent Since 1980: Report

The number of federal prisoners has ballooned from 25,000 inmates in 1980 to 219,000 today, according to a new Congressional Research report. That's a jump of almost 790 percent.

Think Progress notes that the report blames a sharp increase of "draconian mandatory minimum sentences, the elimination of parole for any federal crime committed after 1987, and increasing enforcement by federal officials."

Since 1980, the number of inmates in federal prison skyrocketed by about 6,100 annually.

Why Are Conservatives Trying to Destroy the Voting Rights Act?

In 2006, Congress voted overwhelmingly to reauthorize key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for another twenty-five years. The legislation passed 390–33 in the House and 98–0 in the Senate. Every top Republican supported the bill. “The Voting Rights Act must continue to exist,” said House Judiciary chair James Sensenbrenner, a conservative Republican, “and exist in its current form.” Civil rights leaders flanked George W. Bush at the signing ceremony.

Seven years later, the bipartisan consensus that supported the VRA for nearly fifty years has collapsed, and conservatives are challenging the law as never before. Last November, three days after a presidential election in which voter suppression played a starring role, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to Section 5 of the VRA, which compels parts or all of sixteen states with a history of racial discrimination in voting to clear election-related changes with the federal government. The case will be heard on February 27. The lawsuit, originating in Shelby County, Alabama, is backed by leading operatives and funders in the conservative movement, along with Republican attorneys general in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas. Shelby County’s brief claims that “Section 5’s federalism cost is too great” and that the statute has “accomplished [its] mission.”

Judith Butler's Remarks to Brooklyn College on BDS

Usually one starts by saying that one is glad to be here, but I cannot say that it has been a pleasure anticipating this event. What a Megillah! I am, of course, glad that the event was not cancelled, and I understand that it took a great deal of courage and a steadfast embrace of principle for this event to happen at all. I would like personally to thank all those who took this opportunity to reaffirm the fundamental principles of academic freedom, including the following organizations: the Modern Language Association, the National Lawyers Guild, the New York ACLU, the American Association of University Professors, the Professional Staff Congress (the union for faculty and staff in the CUNY system), the New York Times editorial team, the offices of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Brooklyn College President Karen Gould whose principled stand on academic freedom has been exemplary.

Sheriff Richard Mack Aims to Save America From Gun Control

When I get on the phone with Richard Mack, better known as "Sheriff Mack"—NRA darling, militia hero, and former sheriff of Graham County, Arizona—he tells me he doesn't personally own that many guns. But he won't say how many: "That's between me and the good Lord."

Mack isn't a hunter either. For him, the specter of new gun-control legislation is all about the Constitution. Which is why he has been leading an all-out crusade to prevent the federal government from taking away your firearms—if they ever were taking away your firearms. The idea is to convince  county sheriffs around the nation to refuse to enforce any new gun laws.

The Big House That Wayne LaPierre Built

It sounded like a throwaway line. Toward the end of a four-hour Senate hearing on gun violence last week, Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association’s executive vice president of over two decades, took a break from extolling the virtues of assault rifles and waded briefly into new territory: criminal justice reform. "We've supported prison building," LaPierre said. Then he hammered California for releasing tens of thousands of nonviolent offenders per a Supreme Court order—what he'd previously termed "the largest prison break in American history."

Polls Show Christy Clark Isn't Exactly In B.C.'s Good Books

The polls continue to look rough for B.C. Premier Christy Clark and her beleaguered Liberal Party.

A poll from B.C.-based Justason Market Intelligence conducted by telephone and online between Jan. 25 and Feb. 1 gives Adrian Dix's New Democrats a 22-point lead over the governing Liberals, with 48 to 26 per cent support. Contrary to what some earlier polls had shown, the Liberals appear stagnant. They are down two points compared to Justason's last poll four months ago.

Oil and gas industry seeks billion-dollar tax break to lure LNG plants

The Canadian oil and gas industry is asking Ottawa for subsidies that could be worth $2 billion in tax savings to encourage the development of liquefied natural gas plants in British Columbia.

Giving the industry a tax break would make the LNG export industry more competitive and influence investment decisions favourably, David Collyer, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, argued in an appearance last fall before the standing committee on finance. The committee was holding pre-budget consultations in advance of the 2013 federal budget, expected to delivered next month. It has since recommended “that the federal government expeditiously encourage and support the development of infrastructure in relation to liquefied natural gas exports.”

Canadians ‘comfortably blind’ about residential schools’ damage

MONTREAL — Canadians have a blind spot when it comes to facing, and responding to, the extensive damage done to this country’s native people through the residential school system, a commissioner with Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission said Thursday.

“Canadians have good hearts,” commissioner Marie Wilson told The Gazette in an interview. “We are the first to jump up to help in places like Haiti and other places around the world where there are tragedies. But we have been taught to be comfortably blind to need when it is in our midst.”

Shea leaves before EI vote

National revenue minister and Egmont MP Gail Shea is taking heat for leaving just before being asked to vote on an Opposition motion in the House of Commons Wednesday calling on government to reverse its EI reforms.

The NDP motion called the controversial changes made over the last several months to employment insurance eligibility and benefits 'devastating.' NDP members in the House at the time stood one by one and voted to support the motion.

New policy gives government power to muzzle DFO scientists

“Everything has a crack in it; that’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen, take a bow.

Another crack has appeared in the Harper government’s surreptitious but merciless war to muzzle Canadian scientists — and just about everyone else.

The light entering through this particular crack shines on a disturbing fact. Canada, the only parliamentary democracy in the Commonwealth where a government has been found in contempt of Parliament, is now the only democracy in the world where a government bureaucrat can suppress scientific research.

Kerry, Baird to discuss Keystone XL pipeline at 1st meeting

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline is likely to be discussed when Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird meets with newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Friday afternoon in Washington, D.C.

With the fate of the controversial $7-billion proposed pipeline still up in the air, there's "no doubt that that subject will come up, as it always does with our Canadian counterparts," said U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland during Thursday's daily U.S. press briefing.

The slippery slope of revoking citizenship

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney was accused this week of making policy on the fly when he told reporters the government would look into stripping dual citizens of their Canadian status if convicted of terrorist acts in other countries.

He wasn't.

Company that sent controversial Saskatchewan robocall affiliated with ‘Pierre Poutine’ firm, CRTC confirms

OTTAWA — The CRTC has confirmed that the company behind a Conservative party push poll in Saskatchewan last week is affiliated with RackNine Inc., the voice-broadcasting company used to send out the infamous Pierre Poutine robocall in the 2011 election.

Chase Research, identified as the source of a robocall opposing changes to Saskatchewan’s riding boundaries, is listed with the telecom regulator as a trade name registered by Edmonton-based RackNine Inc.

The real reason upgrading bitumen in Alberta 'doesn't make sense'

The government of Alberta is "desperate" to get the province's bitumen resources to market, as its media echo chamber relentlessly informs us.

And it says it's equally desperate to pop the "Bitumen Bubble," the alliterative but misleading term Premier Alison Redford has coined to describe the price differential between bitumen from Alberta's oil sands and easier-to-refine lighter crude from the United States or the North Sea.

Getting it all wrong: Kenney proposes revoking Canadian citizenship in cases of terrorism

Time and again, the Conservative government is getting it all wrong.

Jason Kenney recently announced that his government is exploring the idea of stripping Canadians of their citizenship if they were found to have gone abroad and committed acts of terror.

Of course, this project fits perfectly with the "law and order" agenda of Harper's vision for Canada but it hides a discriminatory and a two-tier system that Canada has been gradually adopting: a health system for Canadians and a second-class one for refugees, a legal system for the rich and a legal system for the poor, open trials for Canadians and secret trials for immigrants and refugees; the list is long.

Canada loses 22,000 jobs in January

Canada's economy shed 22,000 jobs in January, but a corresponding drop in the number of unemployed people looking for work caused the jobless rate to also drop, to seven per cent.

Statistics Canada said the jobless rate ticked 0.1 percentage points lower as 57,500 people stopped looking for jobs — more than enough to offset the decline in the number of jobs.

Woman accused of witchcraft tortured, burned alive by mob

PORT MORESBY, PAPUA NEW GUINEA—A mob stripped, tortured and bound a woman accused of witchcraft, then burned her alive in front of hundreds of horrified witnesses in a Papua New Guinea town, police said Friday. It was the latest sorcery-related killing in this South Pacific island nation.

Bystanders, including many children, watched and some took photographs of Wednesday’s brutal slaying. Grisly pictures were published on the front pages of the country’s two largest newspapers, The National and the Post-Courier, while the prime minister, police and diplomats condemned the killing.

Intent of calls not feedback

Despite the rationalizations of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the bluster of cabinet minister Gerry Ritz and earlier denial of responsibility by MP Tom Lukiwski, there's no excuse for the anonymous automated calls made by the Conservative party to discredit the work of the federal boundaries commission.

That it took until Liberal MP Ralph Goodale filed a complaint with the CRTC and Postmedia News enlisted the help of an audio expert to identify the voice on the robocall message before the Conservatives finally claimed ownership of the calls is a sad commentary on a party that took office with the promise of transparency and accountability in government.

'Country pricing' a cause of Canada-U.S. price gaps

Canadians are paying far more than Americans for the same products because of a systemic and unjustifiable markup scheme by many manufacturers, a retail expert says.

A Marketplace report on Canada-U.S. price gaps found Canadians paying higher prices — more than double in some cases — for the same retail goods because of an industry phenomenon called "country pricing."

Gulf War Syndrome, Other Illnesses Among Veterans May Be Due To Toxic Environments

In 1991, as part of Operation Desert Storm, former U.S. Army Spc. Candy Lovett arrived in Kuwait a healthy 29-year-old eager to serve her country. Two decades later, she's accumulated a stack of medical records over five feet high -- none of which relates to injuries inflicted by bullets or shrapnel.

Karl Rove Is Done

WASHINGTON -- Somewhere in my files I have a snapshot of a skinny young guy named Karl Rove running for president of the College Republicans. The year is 1972. He is standing at a podium on an empty lawn of a college somewhere, and there is exactly one person in the audience: a bored coed stretched out on the grass.

She does not seem to be listening, but in the end it didn't matter that Rove had no magnetism. He had Lee Atwater as his Southern campaign manager, and Rove later got help from a big shot named George H. W. Bush. Rove beat the right-wingers for the post, which earned him the privilege of being able to perform dirty tricks for Richard's Nixon's legendarily dirty 1972 presidential campaign.

Thousands to Rally in Washington DC Against Keystone Pipeline

WASHINGTON – On Sunday, February 17, thousands of Americans will gather on the National Mall to make #ForwardOnClimate the largest climate rally in history, calling for rejection of the mammoth Keystone XL pipeline and limits on power plant carbon pollution to prevent disastrous climate change.

"Join this historic event to make your voice heard and show President Obama we can't afford to wait any longer for strong climate action." Said organizers in a statement.

Several American Indian leaders stand in opposition with environmentalists against the Keystone XL pipeline. The proposed pipeline coming down through the Plains states has caused great concern, particularly among the Oglala in South Dakota.

U.K. Lesson: Austerity Leads to More Debt

Yesterday, I argued that U.S. fiscal policy is heading in the wrong direction, toward the economics of austerity. If you want to know where this path can lead, look across the Atlantic to poor old Blighty. For almost three years now, since the election of a Conservative-Liberal coalition, the British government has been slashing government programs and raising taxes, supposedly to reduce a big budget deficit. As I’ve written previously, the results have been pretty disastrous—both for ordinary Britons and for the public finances.

Ontario’s tar sands trouble

As first visits go, premier-designate Kathleen Wynne’s with Alberta Premier Alison Redford last week was as loaded as they get.

A high-five was exchanged for the cameras to celebrate Wynne’s addition to the girls’ club running provincial governments across the land. But behind closed doors there was serious business to discuss. Like the tar sands, and Ontario’s role in Alberta oil’s future economic viability.

Idle No More: Is this just the beginning?


Mi’kmaq from Eel River Bar First Nation in northern New Brunswick, doctor of law, academic director, Ryerson University’s Centre for Indigenous Governance, former candidate for national chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN)

You may not see the next stage of Idle No More in public – it might not take the form of a round dance. Rather, it will take the form of now educated aboriginal community members working with leaders to shut down a mine until the government consults, or withdrawing from a process with government, or opposing a business licence on aboriginal land. People won’t call these actions Idle No More, but they’re all connected.

The government requires us to participate in its processes in order to legitimize what it does to us. We’ve been participating because we’re under undue duress: the most impoverished communities in the country have very little choice.

So we’re trying to educate people to help each other on the ground, because we have much more to gain in the long term if we pull out of those processes. All of them require our assimilation, our surrender of land or our giving up of rights in exchange for a little bit of money.

All those federal policies – and I speak from experience, I used to be legal council for the Justice Department and worked in Indian Affairs – have surrender as their end goal. What Idle No More is saying is ‘Pull back from those processes and demand our constitutional rights.’

Canadian social justice advocates, environmentalists and anti-poverty advocates need to stand beside us because First Nations are their last best hope of accomplishing what they want, too. Our rights are constitutionally protected in the way those of non-native Canadians are not because we’re the First People. Treaty rights act as a trump card over environmental destruction. If people stand beside us, we all win. We will all make sure the land is farmable in the future and the water drinkable for our kids. If it’s not for First Nations, it’s not for all Canadians.

We’re willing to be on the front lines and take all the abuse and hatred from the right-wingers out there. But Canadians have a role, too, to help in any way they can.

The movement was grounded from the beginning in our traditions – we always have drummers and elders, and prayers and sweetgrass. It’s about sharing that with Canadians, to show we have beautiful ways. Instead of our following Canadians all the time, here’s an opportunity for Canadians to follow us.


Mohawk Nation, Kahnawake, Quebec, policy adviser, Algonquin Nation Secretariat

The Idle No More movement is unprecedented. There were national protests across the country in 1969 against the Liberals’ White Paper, which tried to extinguish aboriginal rights. We organized to fight that policy, and that’s where the modern aboriginal organizations came from.

The next was 1990, when my community, Kahnawake and Kanesatake, were surrounded by the army. That led to Brian Mulroney’s Royal Commission, the acceleration of the settlement of native land claims and all that stuff. And now this wave. The third time around we’ve got smartphones and Twitter.

But if If Idle No More is going anywhere, it has to know more about what it’s up against: the plan to terminate aboriginal title. The Conservative legislation is part of that plan and of the policy framework for current negotiating between [First Nation communities and the federal government]. The government is trying to empty the constitution’s Section 35 [protecting aboriginal and treaty rights] of any real meaning.

Stephen Harper thinks he has the chiefs in his hands because he has 93 bands at the negotiating table. It would be prudent for chiefs to cease these negotiations.

By participating, these leaders are giving legitimacy to the very policies that are terminating Section 35 rights. But they are unlikely to leave the table. In British Columbia, bands borrowed money for these negotiations. It’s owed to the government, so if bands pull out of talks they will be asked to pay it back. The government has them over a barrel.

The government says it wants certainty and finality in these negotiations. That’s code for extinguishment.


Mohawk Nation, Kanesatake, Mohawk spokesperson during the 1990 Oka crisis, former president of the Quebec Native Women’s Association, former candidate for national chief of the Assembly of First Nations

It’s unfortunate we only get together over crisis, but our people have been in crisis for over 500 years.

Idle No More is about the same things we’ve spoken of for centuries. During the Oka crisis we wanted to protect our land, the environment and sovereignty, only back then we were under siege and surrounded. The issues remain the same.

The residential school system has influenced every aspect of our identity, our language, our culture. Our families were ruptured by residential schools and the Indian Act, and our land base is shrinking.

We need to restore all the institutions that were attacked. The framework for reconciliation and restoration is the UN Declaration On The Rights Of Indigenous Peoples. We also need reconciliation among ourselves. And we need more than parity with the English and French to restore and revitalize our languages and culture. It will require openness and political will, and the removal of the tyrant in Ottawa who is laughing at us all.

It took many generations for us to become the dysfunctional people we are, and it’s going to take many generations to get out of it. It will require more than just money. But there’s a lot of hope.


Cree Nation in British Columbia, now living at Six Nations, motivational speaker and spoken word performer

I started to write a book about my life and began to understand the complex traumas I endured. I got a sense of how the experience of the residential school era went from one generation to the next. It helped me feel compassion for the people I was a victim of, people who had inflicted hurt and pain on me, and I was able to forgive them, let go of the past and look forward to a greater future.

I started to give workshops; I wanted aboriginal kids to talk to someone in their shoes. But with the introduction of Bill C-45 and Harper’s hidden agenda, I knew I had to be involved in Idle No More.
Idle No More is political, but it’s grassroots-political rather than leadership-political. It gives people who feel they don’t have a voice a chance to speak. The seed is being planted and nourished. In the springtime, the spirit of creation comes alive, and so will the spirit of the people. The spirit is ageless and timeless.

But we have to maintain the unifying thread that this is a peaceful movement. If we move toward acts of aggression or transgression, it will fizzle. We can only overcome darkness with light, not with more darkness.
My personal and my professional life have unified in Idle No More. My heart and my soul as well as my mind and intelligence. When the spirit speaks, it speaks passionately. My role is to allow people to scream and yell, to get out the energy that’s been idle for a long time.


Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation, Northwest Alberta, Treaty 8, law school graduate, Idle No More activist

Idle No More never intended to be a gendered movement; it just happened that way. We never said, ‘Let’s get the women together.’ The beautiful thing about it is that it’s uplifting; women have such a different approach.

It’s all about the kinds of things I’ve been taught about treaty relationships and where my ancestors’ minds were at the time they signed Treaty 8. They had such a deep feeling of love. They were thinking of me 100 years ahead. That’s where women are coming from in this movement: a place of love because of our children.

When I set out to do my first teach-in on the omnibus legislation back in November, I didn’t expect what happened. The meeting was being streamed, and I decided to use Twitter so that those watching online could engage in the conversation. That’s how the Idle No More hashtag came to be.

Now the movement is in a transition phase. People have gone back to their communities to educate, and there won’t be as many public events. The February 14 day of action for missing and murdered aboriginal women will be the next.

I am going up north to speak, and I intend to say that not only do aboriginal people have to fix our relationship to the country, but also our relationships within our communities. We have to deal with the fallout of residential schools, a century or more of assimilation efforts and how that’s impacted individuals, families and communities.

This movement is not just about indigenous people or Bill C-45. It’s about our relationship to the whole country. First Nations people have always been willing, but we’ve never had a willing partner.

Original Article
Source: NOW

Northern Gateway Pipeline Hearings: Haida Grill Experts On Oil Spill Plan

PRINCE RUPERT, B.C. - An oil tanker spill in the ocean off British Columbia's Haida Gwaii islands would have adverse effects on marine plants and mammals, Northern Gateway experts told a federal panel Thursday under questioning from lawyers for the Haida Nation.

While opponents of the project predict disaster, Al Maki, who was the chief scientist for Exxon at the time of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill off Alaska, said those effects would not be permanent or catastrophic.

Toronto Condo Overbuilding Has Reached 'Ridiculous' Proportions: Analyst

Toronto’s housing market may not be in as bad shape right now as it was a few months ago.

The latest numbers from the Toronto Real Estate Board show sales in January were down 1.3 per cent year over year, a considerable improvement from the 22 per cent drop in December.

However, as BMO analysts pointed out in a recent note to clients, this January had one more business days than last year, and the data wasn’t adjusted for this.

Meet the new crime agenda, same as the old crime agenda

There’s a line in a classic Who song which seems to sum up Justice Minister Rob Nicholson’s recent announcement on the government’s tough-on-crime plans for 2013: “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

Or rather: check out the new plan, same as the old plan. The question is how many of us will get fooled again.

Senator Patrick Brazeau kicked out of Conservative caucus

After weeks of being one of the most high profile Conservative Party critics of the Idle No More movement, Senator Patrick Brazeau has been kicked out of the party's caucus.

The Canadian Press is reporting that a member of Brazeau's staff was informed of this decision earlier today by the office of Senator Marjory LeBreton. There are also reports that Brazeau was taken into police custody following a call about domestic violence in Gatineau.

Canadian CEOs paid in line with performance

Canadian CEO pay is in line with stock performance, according to a report by the University of Toronto's Clarkson Centre for Board Effectiveness.

In a study of 52 major Canadian companies listed on the TSX 60, executive pay and stock performance moved in the same direction at 81 per cent of them over an 8-year period from 2004 to 2011.

HD Mining Offers Unions a Deal in Open Letter

A day after the mayor of Tumbler Ridge made a public plea for HD Mining and two unions to find a solution to a dispute regarding miners brought from China to B.C., the company has written an open letter to the unions offering a deal to end the dispute.

The case has been an open pit of controversy since it was discovered by the United Steelworkers union the company had listed Mandarin as a language requirement in job advertisements.

HD Mining seeks talks with unions over temporary foreign workers

An B.C. mining company says it wants to end its legal battle with labour unions and resume preliminary work opening up a coal mine in Tumbler Ridge with temporary workers from China.

In a letter to addressed to two B.C. labour unions involved in the dispute, HD Mining Chair Penggui Yan said the company is prepared to continue its legal defence of its decision to import 201 temporary workers from China under a federal program, rather than hire Canadians for the highly specialized job.

Taser use on hearing-impaired boy preventable, report says

The police use of a Taser on a hearing-impaired 11-year-old boy in Prince George, B.C., could have been prevented, a new report by the B.C.'s representative for children and youth has found.

The unidentified boy was hit with the stun gun in April 2011, in a stand-off with police after he allegedly stabbed a 37-year-old man. He had been in the province's residential care system from an early age.

John Brennan Refuses To Say Whether Waterboarding Is Torture

CIA nominee John Brennan refused to say whether he believes the controversial practice of waterboarding constitutes torture, insisting he is not a legal scholar and therefore cannot answer the question.

"I have a personal opinion that waterboarding is reprehensible and should not be done," Brennan told Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), when asked whether he personally believes it is torture. "And again, I am not a lawyer, Senator, and I can't address that question."

Think-tank says trade deal between Canada, Europe could kill Manitoba jobs

WINNIPEG - A left-leaning think-tank has issued another warning that a free trade deal between Canada and Europe could kill jobs rather than create them.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement could cost Manitoba up to 3,800 jobs.

Robocalls: Does the fish rot from the head down?

Will Tory political director Jenni Byrne get the heave over the latest robocalls scandal? As an NDP official cracked, “How can they throw her under the bus. She is the bus!”

Conservative MP Tom Lukiwski fingered Byrne as the figure ultimately responsible for the party’s surreptitious and deceptive telephone campaign in Saskatchewan in a dispute over the changing of riding boundaries. We can bet loyalist Lukiwski didn’t speak without the prior approval of the Prime Minister’s Office.

Operation Thunderbird spreads its protective wings

Operation Thunderbird launches a map recording the number of violent encounters Indigenous women have in Canada.

As Canadian activists gear up for another round of February 14th memorials for justice for murdered and missing Indigenous women, a new tech tool has been released to help track Indigenous women's violence and death across Canada.

Conservatives used 'robocalls' to keep electoral advantage in Saskatchewan

This past Tuesday Ottawa journalists received a strange, almost out-of-context e-mail from Fred DeLorey, Director of Communications for the Conservative Party of Canada.

With no background narrative, DeLorey launched straight in with his message:

"In regards to the calls last week that went into Saskatchewan concerning redistribution, the calls came from the Conservative Party."

Lockheed Martin’s top sales guys pitch F-35s in Ottawa; Canuck test pilot says fighter jets have 50 per cent further range than CF-18s

PARLIAMENT HILL—Two of Lockheed Martin’s top salesmen for the F-35 stealth fighter jet were in Ottawa Thursday for a round of media interviews, in the wake of a recent U.S. government report about development glitches for the trouble-plagued warplane and opposition criticism about high costs, to argue the F-35 is not only the best buy for Canada but also for future protection of Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic.

Pipeline delays 'devastating' to Canadian economy, says report

The inability to get oilsands crude to the right markets is costing the Canadian economy dearly, according to a new report paid for by the Saskatchewan government.

Each stalled pipeline project means a loss to the Canadian economy of between $30 million and $70 million every day, said the report penned by the Canada West Foundation, a Calgary-based think-tank.

Troubled by the mayor’s apparent rule-bending? More troubling is what’s allowed

Sometimes, the shocking thing is not the way people break the rules, it’s what the rules allow. This has been one of the themes of Rob Ford’s career as a self-appointed protector of the public purse: When he shouted about bunny suits and coffee machines charged to expense accounts, $12,000 retirement parties paid for from office budgets, development negotiations under Section 37 of the planning act being a “shakedown,” or sole-sourced contracts that “stink to high heaven,” Ford wasn’t decrying illegal behaviour, but the things routinely permitted that ought to cause us all to raise an eyebrow.

Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau arrested over domestic violence allegations

OTTAWA — Senator Patrick Brazeau was removed from the Conservative caucus Thursday after he was arrested at his home in Gatineau, Que. following what police say are allegations of domestic violence.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper removed Brazeau, 38, from caucus Thursday in relation to an incident at his Gatineau, Que. home, which local police were considering a crime scene as they prepared to search the premises and interview the man they had in custody.

Senators abusing housing allowances should repay taxpayers, NDP MP Charlie Angus says

OTTAWA—Senators found cheating on their housing allowances should be forced to repay taxpayers, an opposition MP says.

But NDP MP Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay) says he’s got no faith that the “Old Boys’ club” in the Senate will crack down on their own members or toughen the rules.

“We’ve never seen the Senate police itself. It’s always been an Old Boys’ club,” Angus told reporters Wednesday. “If an ordinary citizen hit up the Canadian government for $41,000 that they weren’t entitled to, the government would come down on them like a ton of bricks.”