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, March 22, 2013

Lake Erie Prison Plagued By Violence And Drugs After Corporate Takeover

A new report detailing a state inspection of a private prison in Ohio describes gang-related violence so commonplace and drug use so rampant that many guards are afraid to intervene -- instead, they are leaving their jobs at an alarming rate.

The harrowing report released last month on conditions inside the 1,700-bed Lake Erie Correctional Institution describes a tableau of dysfunction, lending confirmation to two previous audits that identified widespread problems at the facility.

Manning Conference III: The right's strategies for dominating cities and wrecking medicare

Preston Manning and his self-titled hothouse for conservative scheming March 7-9 in Ottawa didn't really help the credibility of Canadian conservatism by scheduling speakers from the fringiest fringes of their movement.

But then, why worry? After all, the mainstream media that attended the conference in large packs treated everything that went on -- seminars on how to sell a kidney and all -- with the utmost seriousness and respect.

Report For NATO Justifies Killing Of Hackers In A Cyberwar

The U.S. government has taken a hard line on hackers lately, charging them with federal crimes that carry lengthy prison sentences.

But a new report argues that a hacker who helps a hostile country commit computer sabotage could face a much a harsher penalty: death.

Health Insurance Premium Increases Vowed By Companies For 2014

Big health insurance companies are predicting huge premium increases next year for small employers and people who buy coverage on their own, citing rising health care costs and new mandates from President Barack Obama's health care reform law.

The Wall Street Journal reports companies including UnitedHealth Group, Aetna and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina say health insurance premiums could rise from 25 percent to 116 percent for some people. Part of these cost increases are due to Obamacare's requirements that health insurance companies provide better benefits including maternity care and prescription drugs, accept any customer regardless of pre-existing conditions, and not charge older people more than three times what younger people pay.

JPMorgan Chase Wins Actual Award For Its Handling Of The London Whale Debacle

What's dumber than JPMorgan Chase losing $6 billion in credit derivatives, along with its sterling reputation for crisis management? Giving JPMorgan an award for its crisis management, that's what.

Yes, JPMorgan has won an honest-to-goodness, great-job award for its handling of the London Whale trading debacle, and it is not a Golden Raspberry or a Dubious Achievement Award. At a black-tie awards ceremony on Thursday that was the Oscars of investor relations, IR Magazine gave JPMorgan the prize for "best crisis management," reports Anton Troianovski of the Wall Street Journal.

Federal Budget 2013: Experts Question Whether Numbers Add Up

Stay the course, snoozer, unsurprising: Canadians hoping for more support or even excitement in Thursday’s federal budget found many words to describe the government’s 2013 fiscal plan. What they didn’t find were convincing details behind its hallmark initiatives.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has been vocal about his government’s priority to balance the books by 2015-2016, and this budget suggests the Conservatives are on track to go even further and post an $800-million surplus that year.

Harper Government Highlights Self

The Conservative government this week was required to quantify its obsessive use of the phrase “Harper Government” to brand just about everything it does.

Liberal MP John McCallum asked the government, via an order table question, for a complete list of every press release to use the phrase from every department or Crown agency last fall.

Elections Canada to recruit up to six new investigators for violations probes

OTTAWA — Faced with an unprecedented number of politically-charged investigations, Elections Canada is recruiting up to six new investigators to probe alleged violations of elections law.

The agency has issued a tender for a standing offer list, so investigators can be called on to work for Elections Canada when required.

The standing offer details list all the duties performed by investigators working for the Commissioner of Canada Elections — interviewing witnesses, obtaining search warrants and production orders, and working with federal prosecutors to bring charges, where necessary.

Are Conservatives stonewalling trade committee with the Pacific Alliance?

Earlier this week, we issued an Action Alert asking Conservatives on the trade committee to stop blocking requests from the opposition to hear from Canada's CETA negotiator on the state-of-play of the Canada-EU trade talks. Now opposition members on committee are asking why they are studying Canada's possible participation in an ambiguous and possibly redundant Pacific Alliance trading bloc made up of Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico -- all countries with which Canada has free trade agreements and three of which are part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

In B.C., Northern Gateway has poisoned the well

When Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver announced plans this week to strengthen Canada’s oil-spill defences, critics were swift to disparage the proposed measures.

It was just a cynical effort to deflect widespread criticism the government was receiving in Vancouver for closing the apparently much-loved Kitsilano Coast Guard station, some groused. It was a too-late PR ruse designed to salvage the Northern Gateway pipeline initiative, others said. B.C. New Democratic MP Nathan Cullen maintained that the initiatives were an exercise in greenwashing – a term for efforts designed solely to propagate the perception that an organization’s goals are environmentally friendly.

The perils of populism: Andrea Horwath, taxes, road tolls and the 'war on the car'

History is ripe with irony, though the irony is generally lost on those in the midst of it.

Today we have the irony of an Ontario New Democratic Party (ONDP) running on a "pocketbook"-driven right-wing populist platform that is antithetical to the founding principles of their own movement, and doing so with seemingly no sense that they are, in reality, engaging in the final sacrifice of these principles on the alter of the moral false god of power.

Recently, in the Toronto Star, Trish Hennessy and Hugh Mackenzie argued very persuasively that austerity, the lack of economic growth, and tax cuts are inextricably linked (as I have previously, among others, argued on the pages of rabble)  and they outlined a list of entirely responsible changes to taxation policy that, sadly, absolutely no one at Queen's Park is remotely interested in implementing.

Higher Alberta oil costs drag CNOOC profit 9% lower

State-owned CNOOC, which made China's biggest-ever overseas energy acquisition last year, said Friday that annual profit fell 9.3 percent because of higher costs for exploration and for operating in Canada's oilsands.

CNOOC Ltd.'s $15.1 billion purchase of Canadian energy producer Nexen was part of a broader trend of Chinese resources companies making foreign acquisitions to get better access to key commodities as well as become global competitors.

CIDA’s sudden demise shifts control to PMO

For 45 years, the Canadian International Development Agency has been synonymous with Canada’s efforts to alleviate poverty and respond to disasters abroad.

That brand – as Canada and the world know it, at least – is no longer. On Thursday, the Conservative government announced that CIDA, once a standalone agency, will be absorbed into the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The change, which was spelled out in the budget, is a bold and symbolic final step after years of efforts to more closely align the agency’s priorities with other government objectives.

Tensions rise after murder of Guatemalan indigenous activist opposed to Canada’s Tahoe Resources silver project

An indigenous Guatemalan activist opposed to Canadian mining company Tahoe Resources’ plan for a silver mine was found dead on the morning of Monday, March 18.

Four indigenous Xinca leaders, including the President of the Xinca Indigenous Parliament, were abducted by a group of heavily armed men shortly after 8 pm on the night of Sunday, March 17. Two of the kidnapped men escaped, and Roberto González Ucelo, President of the Xinca Parliament, was freed a day later.

Why the Rich Don't Give to Charity

When Mort Zuckerman, the New York City real-estate and media mogul, lavished $200 million on Columbia University in December to endow the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, he did so with fanfare suitable to the occasion: the press conference was attended by two Nobel laureates, the president of the university, the mayor, and journalists from some of New York’s major media outlets. Many of the 12 other individual charitable gifts that topped $100 million in the U.S. last year were showered with similar attention: $150 million from Carl Icahn to the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, $125 million from Phil Knight to the Oregon Health & Science University, and $300 million from Paul Allen to the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, among them. If you scanned the press releases, or drove past the many university buildings, symphony halls, institutes, and stadiums named for their benefactors, or for that matter read the histories of grand giving by the Rockefellers, Carnegies, Stanfords, and Dukes, you would be forgiven for thinking that the story of charity in this country is a story of epic generosity on the part of the American rich.

Democracy Index 2013: Global Democracy At A Standstill, The Economist Intelligence Unit's Annual Report Shows

While some of the most oppressive parts of the world have made significant gains in democracy in the past year, the overall pace of democratic change remained stagnant in 2012. That is the conclusion of The Economist Intelligence Unit's recently published annual report on the state of global democracy for 2012.

"In 2012 global democracy was at a standstill in the sense that there was neither significant progress nor regression in levels of democracy worldwide," Laza Kekic, the main editor of the report, said in a press release.

Calvin Beisner, Evangelical Christian, Claims Environmentalism Great Threat To Civilization

A representative for an evangelical group that doesn't believe in man-made climate change has suggested that the modern environmental movement is harming civilization.

Speaking on the Janet Mefferd Show on March 18, Dr. Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance laid out four reasons why environmentalism is "the greatest threat to Western civilization."

Environmentalism is insidious, Beisnser explained, and it dangerously "speaks to the inherent spiritual yearnings of human souls and it provides plausible answers to dogged questions." It also incorporates the similarly dangerous threats of utopian Marxism, the secular humanism and the "religious fanaticism of jihad."

Small ACLU Team Fights Drone Strikes' Veil Of Secrecy

NEW YORK -- The Obama administration, in the face of harsh criticism from members of Congress, has recently promised more transparency surrounding the government's use of drones.

Yet long before the targeted-killing program threatened to derail the nomination of John Brennan to be director of the CIA, before Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) took to the Senate floor for an epic filibuster, a small team of lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union was fighting to pry more information about the use of unmanned aerial vehicles out of the administration. The handful of small steps the government has taken -- or been forced to take -- to increase oversight of the program hasn't satisfied them.

Hate Crimes Study Finds Nearly 2 In 3 Occurences Unreported

WASHINGTON -- Despite growing awareness of hate crimes, the share of those crimes reported to police has fallen in recent years as more victims of violent attacks express doubt that police can or will help.

Nearly 2 of 3 hate crimes go unreported to police, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics reported Thursday. For the years 2003-06, 46 percent of hate crimes were reported to police. But more recently, in 2007-11, just 35 percent were reported.

Unreal Choices: On The Feminine Mystique

In an afterword to the fiftieth anniversary edition of The Feminine Mystique, the novelist Anna Quindlen recalls seeing her mother, a housewife, sitting at the kitchen table engrossed in the book. I have no comparable memory, but I did inherit my mother’s paperback copy of Betty Friedan’s 1963 manifesto, complete with underlining and exclamation points.

Rethinking Israel-Palestine: Beyond Bantustans, Beyond Reservations

As President Barack Obama embarks on his listening tour in the Middle East, he is likely to witness the impact of two decades of the Oslo peace process. Twenty years, dozens of summits and millions of dollars have brought Palestinians and Israel no closer to establishing a viable peace.

The US-brokered agreement has been associated with a mantra of establishing two states for two peoples, living side by side. In fact, Israel has existed as a state since 1948 and Palestinians have remained internally displaced within that state, exiled from it and occupied by it in adjacent territories. More significantly, Jewish Israelis and non-Jewish Palestinians, Israeli citizens and stateless civilians alike, are inextricably populated throughout a single territorial entity under Israeli control. The call for two states is really a call for the separation of two populations based on ethno-national homogeneity. The proposal has failed, not just because of a lack of accountability, but because it is fundamentally flawed. Like prescribing aspirin to deal with cancer, Oslo offered truncated self-rule as a prescription for Jewish-Israeli settler-colonialism and domination.

Kimani Gray: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

The only thing anyone can agree upon is that on Saturday, March 9, 16-year-old Kimani Gray was shot seven times by two New York Police Department officers in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. The police fired eleven shots. Four hit him in the front and side of his body, three in the back.

Gray’s mother says he and his friends were on their way back from a birthday party. Police saw a gang. A neighbor watching from a window says Gray was unarmed, and multiple witnesses say that Gray pleaded for his life. Police say he pulled a loaded gun. Some media reports say the officers were highly decorated for bravery. Other reports note that they had cost the department more than $215,000 in payouts for at least five lawsuits alleging civil rights violations. Police say they found a gun at the scene. A witness says she never saw a gun, and skeptics wonder whether it was a “drop” by corrupt officers.

On the Politics of ‘Scandal’

I freely admit I was late to the wackadoodle political party that is ABC’s Scandal, now hurtling toward a second-season finale on a TV screen near you. After all, it was created by Shonda Rhimes, who managed with Grey’s Anatomy to make both General Hospital and Paddy Chaevsky’s 1971 film screed The Hospital look like models of medical-drama accuracy and decorum. But in chronicling the exploits of Olivia Pope, a political operative-for-hire who has conducted a torrid affair with a married Republican president, Rhimes has built a show that can accommodate election rigging, assassination attempts, Supreme Court Justice–bullying and a gay chief-of-staff who’s married to an investigative reporter. Who would pass up all this for high-minded competition like CBS’ Sherlock Holmes pastiche Elementary? One of the best things about Scandal is that its multilayered storytelling and pacing are as sophisticated as any of the more classy, high-falutin’ cable shows like Mad Men or Game of Thrones.

Sneaky House Bill Would Gut Financial Reform

A bipartisan group of four representatives introduced a sneaky little bill Wednesday that would dismantle a huge chunk of the historic financial reform laws enacted after the financial crisis.

The Swap Jurisdiction Certainty Act, introduced by Reps. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), Mike Conaway (R-Tex.), John Carney (D-Del.), and David Scott (D-Ga.), all of whom sit on the House Financial Services Committee, would allow big banks to shift risky activities to foreign subsidiaries in order to avoid US regulations. Part of the landmark 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform act requires that derivatives—financial products whose value is based on things like currency exchange rates and crop prices—be traded in public marketplaces, instead of in private. The new bill could exempt foreign companies from these US derivatives rules, which sounds reasonable; the law purportedly just affects other countries. But what it would mean is that huge US-based banks that operate internationally could just do their paperwork through their international arms to avoid US regs, effectively gutting the section of Dodd-Frank that gave federal regulators the authority for the first time to regulate derivatives such as the credit default swaps that helped cause the 2007 bank failures.

Changes on books for controversial Temporary Foreign Worker program

The federal government plans to make it tougher for employers to use the controversial - though popular - Temporary Foreign Worker program.

The program has been heavily criticized after a consortium of Chinese companies announced plans last fall to use only Chinese nationals for proposed underground coal mines in B.C.

Employers will have to make a greater effort to hire Canadians before they can apply for TFW permits, "including increasing the length and reach of advertising," according to Thursday's federal budget.

The Harper government is radicalizing First Nations

Brace yourself for the Indian Wars, Stephen Harper style.

This federal government doesn’t give a flying fornication about indigenous issues, and the way the stars are lining up, there will be a price to pay for their disdain.

The Indian Wars of history were actually comprised of 40 major military actions against American aboriginals under the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Dropping the John Wayne factor from the chronicle, they amounted to a continental eviction notice. It was served on indigenous peoples by wave after wave of European settlers and squatters backed up by the U.S. Cavalry.

All rights, including speech rights, are subject to limits

It is with consternation that we read commentary condemning the Supreme Court of Canada’s unanimous decision in the William Whatcott case. The media are not disinterested parties and have a pressing and substantial interest in their own position. It is also disturbing to see the misinformation that has been circulating for years about human rights laws and human rights commissions now being recycled.

First, several comments suggest that the case poses a “danger” to free speech, and that the court failed to consider meaningfully the interests of free speech. The reality is that the court held that portions of the hate speech provisions in Saskatchewan’s human rights code did violate free speech rights, and that the violation was an infringement of Charter rights.

Jim Flaherty’s wishful thinking budget

There were no surprises in Budget 2013. Minister Flaherty did an excellent job of pre-conditioning everyone on what to expect: a commitment to eliminate the deficit by 2015-16, no new ‘risky’ spending, some funding for infrastructure and skills training and further restraint measures to offset revenue losses due to slower economic growth in 2013.

But is this the right budget for the current economic circumstances and is the plan to eliminate the deficit in 2015-16 credible? The answer to both these questions is no.

Federal budget 2013 points to Conservatives’ tax-and-spend strategy

OTTAWA — Jim Flaherty is the Conservatives’ conservative. His enemies know him as Stephen Harper’s hit man. His friends see in him a paragon of fiscal virtue.

That’s why it is so interesting, and not a little odd, that the federal finance minister has just come up with something conservatives should hate — a tax-and-spend budget.

A tax-and-spend budget with an eye to the next election.

Federal budget signals major public service workforce overhaul on the way

OTTAWA — Finance Minister Jim Flaherty signalled plans in his budget Thursday for a major review of the way the federal government pays and manages its $43-billion-a-year workforce to make overall compensation “affordable” and bring it more in line with the private sector.

The review will examine policies, practices and laws governing the management of the public service, including pensioner benefits and the way it negotiates with the 18 unions representing Canada’s bureaucrats. The budget provided no details on the review other than to signal that everything is on the table for discussion with unions and employees.

Jim Flaherty's wish-list budget

Canadians hoping the federal budget would explain exactly how the Harper government is planning to spend all the money it filches from their weekly paycheques might as well hit themselves over the head with a duty-free cricket bat.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's eighth (and possibly last) budget eliminates the import duties on baby clothes and a wide range of sporting goods from skates and skis to cricket bats.

New $49M Guantanamo Prison Proposed By Pentagon Official

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is weighing a proposal to build a new $49 million prison for special detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- another sign that the base President Barack Obama promised to shut down will remain open indefinitely.

The new prison proposal is in an early stage, unlike proposed upgrades that include a new dining hall, hospital and barracks for prison guards, which are more advanced. A spokesman said all of the facilities proposed for replacement are deteriorating because they were never intended to be permanent.

Government favours traditional ‘war memorial’ for 1812 monument, artist says

OTTAWA — The federal government wants its new War of 1812 monument to be a traditional 19th century war memorial rather than a piece of contemporary public art with a message of peace, says a Toronto sculptor who entered the design competition.

Eldon Garnet was of the six finalists chosen last December by the competition jury. But his design and those of three other artists were eliminated last week when the jury abruptly cut the number of finalists to two.

The story behind Ezra Levant's 11th hour 'apology' for Roma rant

Apologies are coming fast and furious from Ezra Levant and Sun News Network. Just this week, there have been apologies for comments made about the publication Vancouver Observer and for a rant directed against the Roma people. Our parliamentary reporter Karl Nerenberg, who has been closely following the story of Roma refugees in Canada, has uncovered information about just how close Levant actually came to facing prosecution for hate crimes over his comments about the Roma. The office of the Attorney General of Ontario was contacted for comment on this story, but did not reply by deadline.

And so, Sun News' resident bad boy and low-rent, ersatz Rush Limbaugh, Ezra Levant, has apologized.

Federal Budget 2013: What's in it for working people?

Municipalities across Canada need stable, long term funding to help replace crumbling roads, aging waste water treatment plants and to build vibrant community centres, libraries and green spaces.

The price tag attached to addressing our infrastructure needs is 126 billion dollars. Federal funding has been stagnant recently, and this year’s federal budget needs to commit significant increased funding for a long term, predictable and flexible public infrastructure.

The catch?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is inexplicably moving towards tying all federal infrastructure funding to a condition that they be private-public partnerships.

Another Alberta Family Flees Oil Sands Pollution

Another Alberta family has abandoned their home due to air pollution from bitumen drilling and storage facilities in Alberta's Peace River region.

Thera Breau, a 36-year-old physiotherapist and mother of four young boys, says she moved her family to central Alberta this week and won't be coming back.

Budget 2013: Austerity through infrastructure cuts

One of the most amazing things about this budget is that one of its three focuses is actually the opposite of what it's touting. You'll likely hear that $14 billion will be spent on infrastructure over the next 10 years (actually you may hear much bigger numbers, but they're just re-announcing existing programs like the gas tax transfer). What you won't hear is that 75 per cent of that money is going to be spent in or after 2020. In fact, there will be an affective $1 billion cut to infrastructure transfers to the cities in 2014-15.

Budget 2013: Idle Some More

This budget marks a tactical retreat by a chastened government whose recklessness a year ago bought it a year of trouble it did not want.

Advisors to Stephen Harper say most big departures from business-as-usual in his government come straight from the big guy. This includes both the exploits of diplomacy and the excesses of bitterness. His budget last year was an example of the latter Harper. My blog post a year ago called it a Very Political Budget: the document sought to institutionalize Harper’s sense of outrage at Barack Obama’s decision to delay approval of the Keystone XL pipeline project. That delay was announced in November. By December Harper was promising “major transformations” and a shift in Canada’s trade strategy from the U.S. to Asia. In January Harper visited China and delivered his Davos speech. In March the budget featured, for the first time, a chapter on natural-resource development and included language about reducing environmental protection, penalizing environmental groups that tried to meddle in resource extraction, and speeding the approval of big resource projects.

Public Library Inc.

In the heady days of 2011, it looked as though Rob Ford really, really wanted to close libraries. Or at least that library branch closures were a very real possibility, given budget reduction targets.

But other than the Urban Affairs branch – which had the misfortune of serving as a spectacular metaphor – the Toronto Public Library system remained pretty much as it was.

Except that, as of earlier this month, the library website now directs patrons to

Transit tax fix

Another bold indication that we’re finally getting past the conservative tax phobia: the Toronto Board of Trade’s document this week strongly arguing for a package of new charges to fund regional transit.

The business community’s willingness to advocate for more revenue is a refreshing rebuke to Rob Ford and his hostility to transit fees and taxes.

Snake Eyes -- Bay Street’s big bet on a downtown casino craps out

It was hard not to notice Ralph Lean, holder of the purse strings on Bay Street, jumping in to defend Rob Ford (who was busy hiding from the public) in the damage-control offensive that followed Sarah Thomson’s ass-grab accusation a week back. When the big guns come out into the open, it’s a sure sign of trouble.

I mean, when the media are openly debating whether the mayor has a substance abuse problem, the issue of his professional competency must be coming into question for the Bay Street honchos who’ve bet serious money on him.

Cabinet ministers fan out across Canada to sell Flaherty’s budget

PARLIAMENT—Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s top Cabinet ministers, including heavyweight political ministers for the provinces and major cities, were fanning out Thursday night and Friday in their fleet of Challenger executive jets to begin selling the federal budget before the opposition parties had a chance to leave the starting gate.

While the government issued a string of news releases announcing morning news appearances and speeches by Cabinet ministers from Vancouver through to the Atlantic provinces, opposition MPs and media reporting on the budget were in lockup mode poring over the documents.

Just what did Flaherty mean?

A reporter noted a slight contradiction in the finance minister’s rhetoric. It was just after 2:30pm on budget day, and Jim Flaherty had arrived at the Government Conference Centre across from the Chateau Laurier to give his pre-budget speech press conference to the waiting, locked-in, media.

For months, if not years, those on Parliament Hill and around the country have listened to the finance minister and his cabinet colleagues issue lectures about the rest of the world. Euorpe, in particular, comes under great scrutiny for its current financial hellscape. “If some of the European countries could achieve the balance that Canada has, it would be ideal for those countries,” Flahety told a Commons committee back in November. “We’ve been pressing Europe for a long time, the eurozone countries, and sometimes we’ve created a chill in the room by not going along with everybody.”

The Commons: Jim Flaherty toasts his fine work

Stopping by the House of Commons on his way to China, Jim Flaherty received the customary ovation afforded a finance minister upon him arriving to deliver the budget. He received another standing ovation when he stood to table the four books that apparently comprised this year’s Action! Plan!

The Conservatives did not stand to applaud again for another 400 words. Until precisely this.

CIBC, Scotiabank Overtime Lawsuit Gets OK From Supreme Court

OTTAWA - The Supreme Court of Canada has cleared the way for two class-action lawsuits against CIBC and Scotiabank seeking hundreds of millions of dollars for unpaid overtime to go ahead.

The banks had sought leave to appeal for a lower court decision allowing the cases, but the Supreme Court dismissed the application.

Laywers David O'Connor and Louis Sokolov who represent Cindy Fulawka and Dara Fresco said their clients were pleased that the cases could now move forward on their merits.

Ontario Minimum Wage Should Be Raised To $14, Say Advocacy Groups

TORONTO - A mock $10 bill — frozen in a block of ice — was presented to a representative of Ontario's Ministry of Labour on Thursday afternoon in protest of the government's minimum wage freeze.

The protest was organized by The Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage, a coalition of several advocacy groups in Ontario.

Quebec Reacts To Federal Budget 2012: 'Economic Sabotage'

QUEBEC - Quebec's sovereigntist government expressed fury Thursday over a budget it called a "frontal attack" on the province's economic interests.

The provincial finance minister rattled off a list of grievances, including changes to the skills-training program which he said he hoped to see quashed.

"This is an economic sabotage exercise," Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau said in Quebec City.

Federal Budget 2013: Government Stays The Course On Cuts, 2015 Balanced Budget

The federal budget for 2013 has landed.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty stood up in the House of Commons Thursday afternoon after markets closed to deliver the budget speech. Flaherty had telegraphed for several days that he would not stray from an agressive 2015 deadline to balance the budget despite falling revenues and a lower-than-expected GDP forecast for the rest of 2013.

The Osborne Files: Britain’s Mr. Austerity Goes Socialist

George Osborne, Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, has been called many things since 2010, when he turned the United Kingdom into a petri dish for his experiment in austerity economics: arrogant, incompetent, supercilious, right-wing, cruel, antediluvian, deluded. Until now, though, nobody has described him as a socialist.

Let me be the first. Yesterday, in his annual budget presentation to the House of Commons, a desperate (there’s another frequently applied adjective) Osborne launched a scheme to socialize a significant portion of the U.K. mortgage market. Taking his cue from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, those two great American bastions of state socialism, he said that the U.K. government would enter the mortgage business, lending British homebuyers up to a fifth of the cost of newly-constructed houses and guaranteeing the mortgages of people who are struggling to raise enough cash for a down payment. Hitherto, mortgage finance in the U.K., unlike in the United States, has been exclusively a private-sector business. Now, Osborne, a self-described apostle of Adam Smith and Margaret Thatcher, has decided to change all that.

‘Entire US ruling class responsible for Iraq war’

The US invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a “willful and consolidated” decision by the American ruling elite rather than a one-off mistake, believes senior Russian official Aleksey Pushkov.

The occupation of Iraq launched a decade ago was “an implementation of the idea to create of a mono-polar world,” said Pushkov, the head of the State Duma Committee in International Affairs.

Sarkozy charged over campaign donations

France's former president, Nicholas Sarkozy, has been indicted over claims he accepted thousands of dollars in illegal donations for his election campaign, reports have said.

Sarkozy allegedly took funds from L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, France's richest woman, for his 2007 election campaign.

Lawyer Antoine Gillot told French TV i-Tele that Judge Jean-Michel Gentil in the southwestern city of Bordeaux had placed Sarkozy under investigation, after hours of questioning on Thursday.

Trudeau predicts federal-provincial friction over Budget 2013

Justin Trudeau, the prohibitive favourite to win the leadership of the federal Liberal party next month, says the new federal budget’s plan for training sets the stage for a friction between the Conservative government and the provinces over job training.

A centrepiece of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s budget is a plan he says will “transform” the way Canadians are trained, by establishing a new “Canada Jobs Grant.” Under the plan, Ottawa would provide up to $5,000 for an employee being trained on the job, as long as the employer and the province each put up an equal amount.

New shoes and a haircut: Budget 2013 not so pretty for women in Canada

The Finance Minister got a new pair of shoes. Canadians got a new federal budget. And women in Canada got another haircut.

Budget 2013 is all about Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! And who wouldn't like a job. Maybe some training. Maybe even a full-time job. With benefits. And a pension plan. Oh go crazy, let's throw in equal pay.

Not so fast girls! NO JOB FOR YOU!

Why not?

Anarchists in the boardroom

Anarchists in the boardroom
by Liam Barrington-Bush
(Concrete Solutions ,2013;)

'The Left' has a funny relationship with the world of management.

On the one hand, it can be a dirty word; something the 'bad guys' do, a tool of 'the system.'

There's good reason for such associations.

Since its birth, the management field has largely served to reinforce the social and political status quo, manipulating the vast majority of those who fall victim to it, to work ever-longer hours and give up any sense autonomy, as well as both literal and symbolic ownership over the fruits of their labour.