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.]

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Name Calling

In the summer of 1988, in the University Town neighborhood of Peshawar, Pakistan, Osama bin Laden founded Al Qaeda, which means “the Base,” in Arabic. As a calling card for terror or revolution, the name lacked pizzazz. Bases are safe places, not threatening ones. We can infer from the historical record that bin Laden’s comrades either couldn’t come up with a better idea or didn’t want to annoy him by questioning his brainstorm.

A decade later, Al Qaeda announced itself as a global menace by bombing two American Embassies in Africa. The group’s ambitions escalated until the apex of September 11th. That day’s mass murder assured Al Qaeda’s notoriety, but the Bush Administration raised its profile further by embarking on a Global War on Terror, in which Al Qaeda figured centrally. For a time, bin Laden’s brand thrived.

Racial Wealth Gap Tripled Since Reagan Era As Whites Increase Large Lead Over Blacks: Study

The wealth gap between blacks and whites has ballooned since the middle of the Reagan administration, nearly tripling between 1984 and 2009, according to a new Brandeis University study.

The study, released Wednesday, found that the median white household held a net worth of $265,000 by 2009, eight times more than the median black household's net worth of just $28,500. That division will continue to haunt black Americans for years to come, according to Tatjana Meschede, a co-author of the study.

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.

9 Surprising Facts About Junk Food

Riffing on his new book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Industry Hooked Us, ace New York Times investigative reporter Michael Moss is suddenly everywhere—he's out with a blockbuster article in the Times Magazine and just appeared on Fresh Air.

I haven't had a chance to read the book yet, but I've skimmed it, and it looks excellent. Here are nine quick takeaways:

1. The Cheeto is a modern miracle. Made of corn, fat, and something called "cheese seasoning" (which itself is made of 11 ingredients, including canola oil and artificial color "yellow 6"), this ever-popular snack, which now comes in no fewer than 17 different flavors, may be the food industry's creation par excellence. Here's Moss:

"It Seems Like Yesterday That Trayvon Was Here"

A few hundred demonstrators chanted "Hoodies up! Hoodies up!" in New York City's Union Square earlier tonight to mark the exact minute that Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, was shot and killed by Florida neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman one year ago. Zimmerman was ultimately charged with second-degree murder in the case, which sparked a national debate over racial profiling.

More Than Half of Mass Shooters Used Rapid-Fire Weapons

The political fortunes of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 have looked dim from the start. But as Congress considers the new legislation put forth by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), one thing is clear: If it were to pass, the bill would outlaw highly lethal firearms that dozens of mass shooters in the United States have used to unleash carnage.

More than half of the killers we studied in our investigation of 62 mass shootings over the last three decades possessed weapons that would be banned by Feinstein's bill, including various semiautomatic rifles, guns with military features, and handguns using magazines with more than 10 rounds. The damage these weapons can cause has been on grim display since last summer, from Aurora to Milwaukee to Minneapolis to Newtown, where attacks carried out with them left a total of 118 people injured and dead.

Union halts home visits to EI recipients

The union that represents Service Canada integrity workers – or the so-called ‘pogey police’ – says they shouldn’t be going door-to-door to check up on employment insurance recipients.

Federal employees have been making unannounced visits at the homes of EI recipients as part of an audit as the program undergoes changes, but the house calls are making for some uncomfortable moments.

Harper’s hierarchy of human rights

So Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservatives have launched an Office of Religious Freedom.

One question: why not just celebrate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? It’s right there at the top of the charter’s Fundamental Freedoms section: “freedom of consicence and religion.” Were the Conservatives unaware? Had they read it? Or are they elevating “freedom of conscience and religion” above other fundamental human rights and freedoms — creating a hierarchy of human rights?

Senator says budget watchdog could be ordered to drop legal challenge

Undaunted, it seems, by the virtually unprecedented level of sceptical public scrutiny currently aimed at the Red Chamber, perennially independent Senator Anne Cools is calling on her colleagues to issue an unprecedented rebuke against Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page by ordering him to cease and desist his ongoing legal action against the federal government.

Alberta education minister's bluff called by apoplectic schoolteachers! Now what?

OK, Alberta Education Minister Jeff Johnson’s bizarre attempt to bluff the province’s 35,000 unionized schoolteachers into signing a contract has failed. Now what?

One week ago, Johnson mailed the president of the Alberta Teachers Association and the Chair of the Alberta School Boards Association a rambling letter setting out the government's latest bargaining demands in what's turned out to be a rocky round of negotiations with the province's teachers.

One year later: Vigils across the U.S. mark anniversary of Trayvon Martin's death

On Tuesday there were protests in a number of U.S. cities, marking one year since the killing of Trayvon Martin, a 17 year-old African-American, in Sanford, Florida.

The Stop Mass Incarceration Network, which originally criticized the quick release of George Zimmerman after Martin's death last year, issued a call to protest on the one year anniversary, stating: "Trayvon's parents heroically stood up and called for justice for Trayvon, and in response people poured into the streets all across the country. This is the only reason Zimmerman was re-arrested and charged for his crime."

Wave of indignation returns to Spain: Hundreds of thousands protest austerity

Europe's 2013 protest season finally kicked off this week. On Saturday, three days after the umpteenth general strike paralyzed Greece, a "citizens' wave" of indignation washed over Spain with hundreds of thousands of protesters swarming onto the streets of Madrid and over 80 cities in yet another major popular outcry against the ongoing financial coup d’étât. In Madrid, clashes broke out and at least 40 were arrested after police sought to disperse protesters who had once more encircled Parliament.

This Is Huge': Sweeping Forest Bill Gathers Foes

A British Columbia government bill that would radically shift the management of public forests is drawing criticism from environmental groups, the head of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and opposition politicians.

The bill, however, is in the middle of a legislative log jam and may not pass before the province's politicians leave the legislature to hit the campaign trail.

United by Loss, Israeli & Palestinian Dads Call for a Joint Nonviolent Intifada Against Occupation

As protests grow in the West Bank over the death of a Palestinian inside an Israeli prison, we speak to a pair of Israeli and Palestinian fathers who’ve responded to personal tragedies with activism for peace. Bassam Aramin and Rami Elhanan united after the killings of their daughters — Aramin’s at the hands of an Israeli officer and Elhanan’s in a Palestinian suicide bombing. Once dedicated fighters for their respective causes, they have since renounced violence and become leading voices for peace. Their stories are told in the new documentary film, "Within the Eye of the Storm," produced by Nisan Katz and Shelley Hermon. With talk of a third intifada potentially breaking out in the occupied Palestinian territories, Aramin and Elhanan join us to discuss their shared journey and why they believe both Israelis and Palestinians should join a nonviolent uprising against the Israeli occupation.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: -

Can We Live again in 1964's Energy World?

"Everything has to get worse. We are behaving so badly."

Vaclav Smil, you should know, talks very fast in staccato bursts and doesn't own a cell phone.

The University of Manitoba professor, perhaps one of Canada's most precise energy analysts, also doesn't want to be the servant of a communication machine.

‘Systemic racism’ toward natives in justice system, Frank Iacobucci finds

Former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci says he is not an alarmist by nature, but the lack of First Nations civic rights in the justice system has disturbed him to his core.

After 50 years of practising law, Iacobucci says his work surrounding the residential school settlement and probing a lack of aboriginal representation on juries are two issues that have perhaps meant the most to him as a Canadian.

"Makers: Women Who Make America": New Film Chronicles Past 50 Years of Feminist Movement

We look at a major new documentary that tells the story of how women have shaped the United States over the last 50 years through political and personal empowerment. It’s called "Makers: Women Who Make America," and it premieres tonight in a three-hour special on PBS. Narrated by Meryl Streep, the film explores the women’s movement from the publication of Betty Friedan’s "The Feminine Mystique" published 50 years ago this month in 1963 to the Anita Hill v. Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991. "Makers" shares the story of legendary figures such as Gloria Steinem and Oprah Winfrey, to lesser-known pioneers such as Kathrine Switzer. In 1967, Switzer became the first woman to officially enter and run the Boston Marathon. Her run made headlines when a top race official tried to forcibly remove her from the race. She finished the race.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: -

Senate crisis: Prime Minister Stephen Harper backs off his defence of Senator Pamela Wallin

OTTAWA—Canada’s Senate is facing an unprecedented crisis of confidence as a spending controversy deepens, the prime minister mutes his defence of one big spender and details of a Quebec senator’s alleged brutal assault spill into view.

On Tuesday, the images of Senator Dennis Patterson fleeing from a television cameraman best captured the crisis now gripping the upper chamber as Senate leaders struggle to contain the controversy around spending and residency.

Surplus wind power could cost Ontario ratepayers up to $200 million: IESO

Coping with surplus wind power will cost Ontario electricity ratepayers up to $200 million a year if market rules don’t change, says the power system operator.

Moreover, it says, if it can’t control the flow of wind and solar power onto the Ontario grid, then “reliable and economic operation of the power system is, at best, highly compromised and likely not feasible.”

Conservatives in power, but out of step

It is asserted, by some of the learned and the great, that Canada has become a more conservative country. The Conservative Party has been in office since 2005 after all, with minority and majority governments.

The party possesses an irreducible base of 30 to 35 per cent of the electorate that, during an election campaign, can be pushed into the 35 to 39 per cent range. It has certainly tried to change the way Canadians see their country, its present and its history.

Is Stephen Harper set to move against the CRTC?

Last year, as revealed by The Canadian Press, Prime Minister Stephen Harper lunched in New York with Roger Ailes, president of Fox News, and Rupert Murdoch, who owns it. Kory Teneycke, Mr. Harper's former spokesman, was also present at the unannounced event.

Mr. Teneycke later became the point man for Quebecor's Pierre Karl Péladeau in his effort to create a right-wing television network modelled along the lines of Fox News. The new network is a high priority for Mr. Harper, for whom controlling the message has always been - witness his government vetting program - of paramount importance.

Harper dodges questions over bonuses for government workers who meet EI fraud targets

Prime Minister Stephen Harper dodged questions in the House of Commons Tuesday over whether the government is handing out bonuses to managers who catch Canadians committing employment insurance fraud.

The Harper government is under opposition fire amid a crackdown on EI claimants that includes sending government inspectors to people’s homes and establishing annual dollar quotas for EI investigators — two practices that only came to light after media investigations.

‘Kevin Page might well be the best friend the Canadian taxpayer has’

The parliamentary budget officers of the OECD are meeting in Ottawa this week. NDP MP Pat Martin, as chair of the government operations committee, gave a keynote address to the gathering last night. Here is the prepared text of that speech.


    Great to be here with you today.

    Sunlight is a powerful disinfectant, and Freedom of information is the oxygen democracy breathes. These are two of my favorite cliché’s and they find their way into a lot of my speeches so I might as well get them out of the way right off the top.

To Beat Austerity, Obama Must Campaign for Democracy

President Obama, who famously used his 2010 State of the Union address to rip activist Supreme Court Justices for removing longstanding barriers to corporate control of the political discourse, did not mention the Court’s wrongheaded Citizens United decision in his 2012 State of the Union address.

That was concerning.

Not just because the president’s support is needed to expand the campaign to amend the Constitution so that it is clear free speech rights are afforded citizens, not corporations. But because this is a moment when it is essential to explain how Wall Street is using its “money power” to thwart the will of the people when it comes to debt and deficit debates.

Billionaires for Austerity: With Cuts Looming, Wall Street Roots of "Fix the Debt" Campaign Exposed

With $85 billion across-the-board spending cuts, known as "the sequestration," set to take effect this Friday, a new investigation reveals how billionaire investors, such as Peter Peterson, have helped reshape the national debate on the economy, the debt and social spending. Between 2007 and 2011, Peterson personally contributed nearly $500 million to his Peter G. Peterson Foundation to push Congress to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — while providing tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy. Peterson’s main platform has been the Campaign to Fix the Debt. While the campaign is portrayed as a citizen-led effort, critics say the campaign is a front for business groups. The campaign has direct ties to GE, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. Peterson is the former chair and CEO of Lehman Brothers and co-founder of the private equity firm, The Blackstone Group. For more, we speak to John Nichols of The Nation and Lisa Graves of the Center for Media and Democracy.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Handcuffing 7-Year-Olds Won't Make Schools Safer

Outrage over the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre may or may not spur any meaningful gun control laws, but you can bet your Crayolas that it will lead to more 7-year-olds getting handcuffed and hauled away to local police precincts.

You read that right. Americans may disagree deeply about how easy it should be for a mentally ill convicted felon to purchase an AR-15, but when it comes to putting more law enforcement officers inside our schools, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and liberal Democrats like Senator Barbara Boxer are as one. And when police (or “school resource officers,” as these sheriff’s deputies are often known) spend time in a school, they often deal with disorder like proper cops—by slapping cuffs on the little perps and dragging them to the precinct.

Why Workers Should Be Wary About Corporate 'Wellness'

A growing number of US companies are now urging their employees to slim down, exercise more, reduce their cholesterol and blood pressure levels, or quit smoking—all socially desirable goals. But if these workers fail to cooperate with the new corporate “wellness” regime and adopt a healthier lifestyle (under the tutelage of their employer), the penalty, for many, will be higher out-of-pocket payments.

GM proposes to pay CEO $11.1 million in '13

Washington — General Motors Co. wants to pay its chief executive $11.1 million in total compensation this year — an increase of more than 20 percent over 2012— and offer raises to most of its highest paid executives, according to a document turned over to Congress.

The Detroit automaker, which received a $49.5 billion bailout in 2008 and 2009, must get approval for the pay packages for its top 25 executives from the Treasury Department, as a condition of its government bailout.

Alberta Health Queue Jumping: Inquiry Hears Doctor Told Clerk To Let Patients Jump Line

CALGARY - A high-ranking Calgary doctor at the centre of queue-jumping allegations conceded Monday he booked his patients outside the normal routine, but said he didn't realize that would move them to the front of the line.

Dr. Ron Bridges told Alberta's preferential access inquiry Monday that he was not clear on the rules for booking patients into the publicly funded Colon Cancer Screening Centre, which he founded in 2008.

National Defence hit hard as government to slash discretionary spending by $4.9 billion

OTTAWA — The federal government plans to slash $4.9 billion in discretionary spending in the next year — with the Department of National Defence bearing the brunt of cuts, while departments involved in the Conservatives’ law and order agenda are spared.

The plan was unveiled Monday as Treasury Board Tony Clement tabled the government’s main budgetary estimates for 2013-14 in the House of Commons.

Treasury Board and PBO in standoff over calculation of cuts to front line services

OTTAWA — Parliament’s budget watchdog Kevin Page has landed into another dispute with the Conservative government, this time over conflicting calculations of costs that have left Treasury Board wanting to vet his reports and some MPs questioning the reliability of the numbers they’re given to hold the government to account.

The latest uproar was triggered when the Parliamentary Budget Office released a report last month which concluded that spending cuts are hitting front line services for Canadians while overhead — or the “internal services” costs of the bureaucracy — rose over the past three years.

Canadian Senate expenses must be fully detailed

Canadian politicians will now forever resist ordering pricey glasses of orange juice from hotel menus.

That’s a direct result of publicity that arguably led to last year’s resignation of free-spending Conservative cabinet minister Bev Oda.

In other words, the best way to prevent irresponsible spending is through full and detailed disclosure — which is almost always required in the private sector.

Lying time in Harperland

John Kenneth Galbraith identified "the conventional wisdom." Gore Vidal talked about "received opinion (henceforth RO)." Noam Chomsky wrote about how the media "manufactured consent." George Lakoff showed how "framing" is used to structure debate.

None of these commendable efforts to open our eyes to what high-placed people want us to believe (for their benefit, not ours) captures adequately the current attempts by the Harper government to mislead and fool Canadians about issues that matter to their well-being: resource exploitation and environmental protection.

Shelving Bill C-30 Didn't Save Your Privacy

The government's recent decision to kill its online surveillance legislation marked a remarkable policy shift. The outcry over the plan to require Internet providers to install surveillance capabilities within their networks and to disclose of subscriber information on demand without court oversight sparked an enormous backlash, leading to the tacit acknowledgment that the proposal was at odds with public opinion.

While many Canadians welcomed the end of Bill C-30, the year-long battle over the bill placed the spotlight on an ongoing problem with the current system of voluntary disclosure of subscriber information: Internet providers and telecom companies disclose customer information to law enforcement tens of thousands of times every year without court oversight.

Behind the Brands: On Food Justice, Oxfam Gives Coca Cola, Kellogg’s, Nestle & Pepsi Failing Grades

Oxfam has released a comprehensive report that measures how the world’s 10 largest food companies perform on food justice issues. No company emerges with passing grades. The 10 companies Oxfam scores are Associated British Foods, Coca Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez, Nestlé, Pepsico and Unilever. Collectively, these companies make $1 billion a day. Oxfam based its report seven criteria: Small-scale farmers, farm workers, water, land, climate change, women’s rights, and transparency. We’re joined by Chris Jochnick, a lead researcher for Oxfam’s new report, “Behind the Brands.”

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Stress Is Killing Gender Equality in Canada

If you ask Stephanie Coontz, gender equality in the U.S. has stalled. Co-chair and director of public education at the Council on Contemporary Families, Coontz's opinion piece in the Feb. 16 edition of the New York Times slams America's lack of family and women-friendly work policies for keeping women in the domestic sphere.

Without paid parental leave, affordable childcare, and salaries high enough to keep families out of debt, Coontz says the work/life balance of Americans, especially women, is bringing their stress levels to a breaking point.

Refugee health cuts: Doctors launch Charter challenge in federal court

Ahmad Awatt is a failed refugee claimant from Iraq, a country that has been declared too dangerous for him to be deported to since 2003.

He has Wilson’s disease, a genetic disorder that puts him at risk of life-threatening organ damage.

But since the federal government cut the program that covered his health care last June, he can no longer get the monthly blood and urine tests and liver ultrasounds he needs to control his condition.

Senate won’t disclose Senator Mike Duffy’s expense claims

OTTAWA—The Senate is refusing to tell Canadians how much Mike Duffy may have improperly pocketed in living expenses even as it steps up its probe of other senators and their expense claims.

While Duffy has offered to repay the cash he says he “mistakenly” collected for his Ottawa home, neither Duffy nor the Senate are saying how much this is.

Manning and Broadbent find common ground

A political odd couple is backing an opposition motion allowing Canadians to sign online petitions, and even trigger a House of Commons debate, on issues that concern them.

Reform party founder Preston Manning, one of the most respected voices in the Canadian conservative movement, is endorsing B.C. New Democratic Party MP Kennedy Stewart's motion to be voted on before the summer break.

He joins former NDP leader Ed Broadbent as well as 20 MPs, including two Conservatives, who have formally endorsed the motion.

UNC Sexual Assault Survivor Faces Honor Code Violation After Speaking Publicly About Abuse

A University of North Carolina student says she faces possible expulsion for "intimidating" her alleged rapist by speaking publicly about her assault and how the school has handled it.

Landen Gambill, a sophomore at UNC, was part of a group that filed a complaint in January with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, alleging the university has routinely violated the rights of sexual assault survivors and failed to assist them in recovery after the reported abuse. Ten days after they filed their complaint, the graduate student attorney general sent a warning to Gambill that she may have violated the school's Honor Code, Jezebel reports.

Selling the White House? Obama-Linked Group Promises Top Donors Access to President

The watchdog group Common Cause is calling on President Obama to shut down the outside group Organizing for Action after revelations the group is promising high-end donors access to the White House. According to the New York Times, donors who contribute $500,000 or more will be appointed to the group’s national advisory board, which meets four times a year with the President. Organizing for Action was set up by former Obama campaign officials in order to push the president’s agenda. The group’s 501(c)(4) tax status means it can accept unlimited donations from corporations and individuals without revealing their identity. We speak to Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Colorado Lawmakers Get Threatened Over Gun Control Legislation

When debating gun control and the rights granted by the Second Amendment, heated arguments are expected -- but a few people have gone too far by threatening some state lawmakers over the gun control bills currently being considered by the state legislature.

Fox31 was the first to report that Franklin Sain, a 42-year-old Colorado Springs man, was arrested for making threats against Rep. Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora), the sponsor of two of the four controversial gun measures that passed the state House last week.

Sequester Cuts Outlined By Obama White House As March 1 Deadline Looms

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Monday said looming automatic spending cuts are already affecting the economy, while a top administration official warned that the nation's borders would be less secure if billions of dollars are yanked from the budget Friday.

Rape Victim Arrested In Edmonton After Calling To Report Sex Assault

An 18-year-old aboriginal girl told an Edmonton courtroom that she had been raped, but when police arrived she was the one put in cuffs.

The young Edmonton woman claimed last week that she was arrested and denied a rape kit by police after her mother called law enforcement on her behalf.

Strike Canada's blasphemy law as a sign of good faith

Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week launched the Office of Religious Freedom, a new branch of the Department of Foreign Affairs, to promote religious tolerance internationally. He appointed Toronto academic Andrew Bennett its "ambassador," and repeatedly underlined religious persecution is an urgent and ongoing global problem.

Harper has said the idea for the new branch arose, in part, from his meeting with Pakistan's late minister for minorities, Shahbaz Batti, shortly before his murder by Islamic extremists in March 2011.

Finley says Conservatives have set dollar 'targets' for EI fraud but not quotas

OTTAWA - Service Canada investigators have been given annual "performance objectives" to find $485,000 each in fraudulent or ineligible Employment Insurance claims per year, the Conservative government confirmed Monday.

However, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley vigorously denied that the targets amount to "quotas" — something Finley assured the House of Commons earlier this month do not exist.

Mike Duffy’s housing allowance sideshow deconstructed — 80 days to a non-apology

Eighty days.

That’s how long it took between the first questions raised about Mike Duffy’s housing allowance by Ottawa Citizen journalist Glen McGregor and the senator deciding that he might have been confused by Senate forms in listing his primary residence.

Others might have gone back and taken another look at what box they ticked on their Senate form when the charges were first levied.

The Commons: Senators need not fear unemployment

Thomas Mulcair stood first to mock.

“Mr. Speaker, Conservative Senator Mike Duffy has now admitted he mistakenly collected, maybe, about, $100,000 in Senate housing allowances. How does one accidentally claim $100,000 in living expenses? He says the form was too complicated,” the NDP leader reported sarcastically. “We also have Senator Pamela Wallin who has an Ontario health card while claiming to be a resident of Saskatchewan. She told the federal government that she lived in one province but told the provincial government that she lived in another. This would be unacceptable for any other Canadian. Why does the Prime Minister seem to think it is acceptable for his Conservative senators?”

Former PMO chief joins call for federal ethics crackdown

The prime minister's former right-hand man has joined the chorus calling for more stringent conflict of interest rules for cabinet ministers, parliamentary secretaries, political staffers and senior civil servants.

During his appearance in front of the ethics committee as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association, Guy Giorno urged MPs to give the ethics commissioner the power to punish contraventions of the Conflict of Interest Act, noting that, under the current regime, not one of the provisions related to prohibited behaviour -- which cover everything from furthering private interests to attempting to influence another public office holder -- carries a penalty.

No sign of peace or reconciliation in Mali

France perpetrated two large deceptions in conducting its military intervention into Mali six weeks ago. These have been universally accepted in mainstream media reporting.

The first is that the unilateral decision to invade Mali on January 11, 2013 was hastily made, prompted by imminent military threats by Islamic fundamentalist forces against the south of the country where the large majority of Malians live.

Supreme Court speeds up hearings into Harper government's Senate reform questions, Quebec argues against the rush

PARLIAMENT HILL—The Supreme Court of Canada is expediting hearings into the federal government’s request for an opinion on whether Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s plan to unilaterally begin reforming the Senate without provincial approval is constitutional, according to Supreme Court documents.

The Supreme Court has set aside three days in mid-November to hear arguments in a reference that Mr. Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) and his government filed unexpectedly earlier this month, with a series of questions for constitutional advice on Parliament’s authority over key Senate changes, from limiting terms of Senators, to abolishing the Senate entirely.

Tories set 'targets,' not quotas for EI fraud

The federal government denies it has given civil servants quotas for catching employment insurance fraud — but now says there are performance objectives in place.

Human Resources Minister Diane Finley had flatly denied previous reports that EI investigators have been given monthly dollar quotas.

Robert Gibbs Told Not To Acknowledge Drone Program Exists As White House Press Secretary

Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Sunday that he was told not to "acknowledge" or "discuss" the secret drone program when becoming the government's top spokesman.

Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC's "Up," played a video clip of Gibbs and current press secretary Jay Carney dodging questions about drones in the White House briefing room before asking if the Obama administration has been sufficiently forthcoming about the controversial targeted killing program. Gibbs, who recently became an MSNBC contributor, recalled the instructions he was given upon taking the job.

Expansion of B.C. natural gas industry raises concerns

B.C. Premier Christy Clark's proposal to raise $130 billion to $260 billion from liquid natural gas royalties and taxes over the next 30 years is raising many questions among her critics.

Yesterday during the speech from the thone, Clark said the money raised from expanding the province's natural gas export could be use to pay down the debt through a new B.C. Prosperity Fund.