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.]

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Net Neutrality Supporters Raise Questions About FCC Delay

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will not be voting on net neutrality in December, instead delaying the decision until sometime in 2015 when Republicans will have full control of Congress. The decision, which the agency confirmed Monday, is drawing criticism from net neutrality supporters, who say the delay is unnecessary and raises concerns about the possibility of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler bowing to pressure from GOP lawmakers and telecom and cable companies.

When Mega Corporations Get Mega Tax Breaks, We All Pay

Is corporate CEO pay really out of control? Well, consider Fleecing Uncle Sam, a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies and the Center for Effective Government. Of the 100 highest-paid CEOs in the US, the study finds, twenty-nine of them received more compensation than their companies paid in federal income tax.

Take American Airlines, for example. CEO W. Douglas Parker took home $17.7 million in total compensation in 2013, while his company received a $22 million tax refund. It makes you wonder. After all, American didn’t have a lot of income on which to pay taxes—the company’s pre-tax income in 2013 was negative $2 billion—so is AA sending us a message that tax avoidance, and not air transport, is their real business? Parker certainly piloted his company to be more success at the former than he did the latter.

Canada Should Remember the Afghanistan War With Shame

It was five years ago today that Richard Colvin delivered his explosive testimony to a House of Commons committee examining Canada's role in the torture of Afghan detainees. Colvin, a diplomat at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), had served in Afghanistan for 17 months, first as a senior representative at the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team run by Canada, and later as the acting ambassador in Kabul. And in no uncertain terms, he told the House committee on November 18, 2009, that Canadian Forces personnel were capturing Afghans and turning them over to Afghan authorities to be tortured in contravention of the Geneva Conventions.

New Commercial Promoting Tory Tax Cuts Paid For By Taxpayers

An ad touting the Conservative government's new tax cuts has hit the airwaves and it's being paid for by Canadian taxpayers.
The ad, set in suburbia, promotes four tax measures that have not yet been approved by Parliament and which are aimed at families with young children. The tax cuts are expected to cost $26.8 billion over six years and to benefit around four million families, according to the government's own figures.

The 'opportunity' to work for free

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz has a suggestion for the 200,000 young Canadians who are un-or-underemployed: offer your services for free. Brilliant! Why haven't young people thought of this already? What possible basic human need for sustenance and dignity could be keeping them from working for free?

Massive crowd on Burnaby Mountain, as Kinder Morgan injunction takes effect

What started as a trickle of oil-pipeline protesters two months ago has spilled into a massive anti-Kinder-Morgan movement on Burnaby Mountain, if Monday night's crowd is any indication.

More than 800 people showed up at 4pm – the exact time a B.C.-Supreme-Court-ordered-Kinder-Morgan injunction took effect.

It is now illegal for protesters to interfere with the company’s controversial pipeline survey work for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.  The RCMP were everywhere, but neither they nor the court order seemed to stop the crowds from expressing their anger at the project.  Youth, seniors, native, non-native all showed up in force.

More notably, First Nations leaders led the fiery speeches.

Obama's Claims About Canadian Oil Exports Earn Rating Of 'A Lot Of Baloney'

WASHINGTON - Because U.S. President Barack Obama will have to make a decision about the Keystone XL oil pipeline as early as this week, his comments on the hotly debated project tend to get plenty of scrutiny.

He's been increasingly dismissive of the importance of the project for his country, suggesting he'll make his choice purely on environmental grounds because it means so little to the U.S. economy.

Competition provides the best results

With its current fleet of frigates and destroyers getting close to the best before date, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) is at an important fork in the road.

The Harper government has plans for the construction of 15 Canadian Surface Combatants (CSC) to replace the old fleet and has chosen Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax to construct them.

But the prime minister has yet to decide how his government will pick a contractor to oversee systems integration and ship design for the project.

TransCanada public relations documents on Energy East raise concerns

TransCanada PipeLines acknowledges it considered aggressive tactics such as using proxy groups to attack opponents of the company's proposed Energy East pipeline.

But the Calgary-based pipeline company (TSX:TCA.PR.X) says it did not accept those recommendations outlined in leaked documents from the Edelman public relations firm obtained by Greenpeace.

"Everything that Edelman put forward we've considered," said James Millar, TransCanada's director of communications. "But then it comes down to implementation, and that's not something that we've implemented."

Private clinics are not the solution to health-care cuts

One in seven private health-care clinics in Ontario havefailed provincial safety inspections. Since 2011,Hepatitis C outbreaks at three colonoscopy clinics have caused at least 11 patients to become critically ill. And the second and third outbreaks could have been prevented if the first one had not been kept secret. People concerned with the state of health care in Ontario are left with many questions: how did we get into this situation? Who's to blame? And finally, how do we stop the off-loading of hospital services onto privately run clinics?

Canadians deserve a universal early childhood education and childcare system

Last week hundreds of educators, academics and activists gathered in Winnipeg for the fourth national childcare conference. They are united by a vision of a universal early childhood education and childcare system in Canada. Here in Manitoba, we have made steady progress toward this goal. A strong federal partner at the table would take things to the next level.

7 Big U.S. Corporations Paid More To Their CEOs Than To The IRS

WASHINGTON, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Seven of the 30 largest U.S. corporations paid more money to their chief executive officers last year than they paid in U.S. federal income taxes, according to a study released on Tuesday that was disputed by at least one of the companies.

Amid talk in Washington about corporate tax reform, the study said the seven companies, which in 2013 reported more than $74 billion in combined U.S. pre-tax profits, came out ahead on their taxes, gaining $1.9 billion more than they owed.

Who Put the 'Merit' in 'Meritocracy'?

We love to think of the US -- every last red, white and blue nook and cranny of it -- as a meritocracy. Want to get ahead in life? Just be excellent. Show merit. Or just, you know, possess merit. Or develop merit. Or be filled with merit? Soaked in merit? Steeped in merit?

Former CIA Director Warns Torture Report Release May Endanger Overseas Personnel

WASHINGTON -- As the nation’s intelligence communities brace for the Senate’s explosive report on the CIA’s now-defunct torture program to be made public, officials are warning that its release in the midst of the Islamic State fight could put American lives at risk, according to former CIA Director Michael Hayden.

“American embassies and other installations around the world have been warned to take defensive action in anticipation of this report being released,” Hayden cautioned Monday on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe." “That is somewhat troubling.”

System Change, or There and Back Again: Capitalism, Socialism, Fascism

Societies today where capitalist economic systems prevail confront government gridlock. Facing serious and deepening economic problems, even when their leaders can sometimes agree on particular policies, the policies are frequently inadequate to solve the problems. Therefore, questions challenging capitalism occur now more often and more influentially than they have for many decades. Renewed interest in systemic changes, both socialist and fascist, agitates many societies.

Historically, capitalism's problems often led its leaders (economic and political) to make adjustments and changes in income and wealth distributions, government regulations affecting enterprises and markets, international relations, and so on. For example, progressive income taxes and minimum wages were legislated, anti-monopoly rules were enacted, and tariffs and foreign wars were imposed. Sometimes, capitalism's leaders lacked the capacity to execute such solutions or else those solutions proved insufficient. Then, more systemic changes arrived on social agendas. The two most important of such systemic changes were traditional socialism and fascism. These were achieved by peaceful or violent means, by parliamentary reforms or by revolutions, depending on the circumstances of time and place.

If You Want to Know What’s Happened to Our Democracy, Follow the Richest .01 Percent

The richest Americans hold more of the nation’s wealth than they have in almost a century. What do they spend it on? As you might expect, personal jets, giant yachts, works of art, and luxury penthouses.

And also on politics. In fact, their political spending has been growing faster than their spending on anything else. It’s been growing even faster than their wealth.

According to new research by Emmanuel Saez of the University of California at Berkeley and Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics, the richest one-hundredth of one percent of Americans now hold over 11 percent of the nation’s total wealth. That’s a higher share than the top .01 percent held in 1929, before the Great Crash.

Americans Are 64 Times More Likely to Be Murdered Than Die in an Act of Terrorism

The Institute for Economics and Peace in the UK has released a report on terrorism in 2013, which it maintains was substantially up.

There are virtues of the study.  It shows that 80% of the victims of terrorism in the past year are Muslims living in just five countries– Nigeria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan.  That is, by far the most numerous victims of terrorism are not Americans or Westerners but Muslims.  Likewise terrorism is not very important in much of the world.  In the UK a person is 166 times more likely to be the victim of criminal homicide than of terrorism.  In the US, a person is 64 times more likely to be murdered than to be the victim of political terrorism.

If Government Is Committed To Transparency, Why the Steep Search Fees?

According to recent news reports, the federal information watchdog says her office is almost broke.

While I appreciate her frustration with dwindling funds for her important work, the problems with public access to government information run much deeper. In my experience, accessing government information often requires thousands of dollars and oodles of time. And really, who doesn't have plenty of both?

Justin Trudeau bill would open up secretive Board of Internal Economy

Just hours after the all-party Board of Internal Economy went behind closed doors to discuss sexual harassment complaints lodged against two Liberal MPs, Justin Trudeau got his first chance to promote his bid to hold future board meetings in public.

The Liberal leader presented his private member's bill to the House Tuesday night.

Missouri governor declares state of emergency as national guard called in to Ferguson

The governor of Missouri declared a state of emergency on Monday, authorising the national guard to assist the policing of protests expected in Ferguson after it is announced whether a white police officer who shot dead an unarmed black 18-year-old will face charges.

Jay Nixon signed an executive order on Monday activating the national guard to support police “during any period of unrest that might occur following the grand jury’s decision concerning the investigation into the death of Michael Brown”.

Five Israelis killed in deadly attack on Jerusalem synagogue

Five Israelis were killed and eight more wounded in a frenzied assault by two Palestinian men on Jewish worshippers praying at a Jerusalem synagogue in the most lethal incident in the city in years.

The two assailants who launched their attack with meat cleavers and a gun during early morning prayers were then killed by police officers in the ensuing gun battle at the scene of the attack.

The deaths occurred as the two men – identified by family members as cousins Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal from the East Jerusalem district of Jabal Mukaber – burst into the Bnei Torah synagogue in Har Nof, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood of West Jerusalem.

THE UNBLINKING STARE -- The drone war in Pakistan.

At the Pearl Continental Hotel, in Peshawar, a concrete tower enveloped by flowering gardens, the management has adopted security precautions that have become common in Pakistan’s upscale hospitality industry: razor wire, vehicle barricades, and police crouching in bunkers, fingering machine guns. In June, on a hot weekday morning, Noor Behram arrived at the gate carrying a white plastic shopping bag full of photographs. He had a four-inch black beard and wore a blue shalwar kameez and a flat Chitrali hat. He met me in the lobby. We sat down, and Behram spilled his photos onto a table. Some of the prints were curled and faded. For the past seven years, he said, he has driven around North Waziristan on a small red Honda motorcycle, visiting the sites of American drone missile strikes as soon after an attack as possible.

Almost 36 Million People Around The World Live As Slaves

LONDON, Nov 17 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Almost 36 million people are living as slaves across the globe with an index on Monday listing Mauritania, Uzbekistan, Haiti, Qatar and India as the nations where modern-day slavery is most prevalent.

The Walk Free Foundation, an Australian-based human rights group, estimated in its inaugural slavery index last year that 29.8 million people were born into servitude, trafficked for sex work, trapped in debt bondage or exploited for forced labor.

Secret Tapes Suggest Regulators At JPMorgan Were Blocked From Doing Their Jobs

As the Federal Reserve Bank of New York moved to beef up its oversight of Wall Street two years ago, the team charged with supervising the nation's largest bank, JPMorgan Chase, was in turmoil.

New York Fed examiners embedded at JPMorgan complained about being blocked from doing their jobs. In frustration, some requested transfers. Top New York Fed managers knew about the problems, according to interviews and secret recordings of internal meetings obtained by ProPublica. Similar frustrations had surfaced among examiners at other banks as well.

HSBC Accused Of Fraud, Money Laundering, Forming Criminal Organization

BRUSSELS - A Belgian investigating judge has charged a Swiss private banking branch of HSBC with massive organized fiscal fraud, money laundering and forming a criminal organization to the benefit of over 1,000 wealthy clients that cost the Belgian authorities "hundreds of millions of euros."

How Will Falling Oil Prices Affect Alberta?

A slump in Alberta's crude oil prices means the province's economy is slowing down, and many want to know what the future holds.

Todd Hirsch, chief economist at ATB Financial, told Bloomberg News that in 2015 Alberta will see the slowest economic growth it's faced in five years, and that the province's economy is forecast to grow about half a percentage point less than in 2014.

Was Hubert Lacroix Hired To Dismantle The CBC

CFN – It seems that there’s a move a foot to kill the CBC.  And it’s coming from within.

Hubert Lacroix, the reigning President of our Nation’s broadcaster looks like Gordon Gekko a business guy/bureaucrat brought in to dismantle the CBC one block at a time.

He didn’t work his way up the broadcaster, but was appointed by Stephen Harper who clearly is no fan of public broadcasting.

The big question is why are the staffers so quietly walking the plank as layer after layer of lay offs occur?

The End of Online Anonymity?

If you could change or enact one internet law, what would it be? For some Canadians, it might be new rules to promote greater competition among internet providers or increased copyright flexibilities matching the U.S. fair use provision. For others, it would mean toughening online privacy protection or examining whether Canadian net neutrality rules are sufficient.

When Scott Naylor, a detective inspector with the Ontario Provincial Police was asked the question during a Senate hearing earlier this month on Bill C-13, the government's lawful access legislation, he responded that he would eliminate anonymity on the internet. Naylor likened internet access to obtaining a driver's licence or a marriage licence, noting that we provide identification for many different activities, yet there is no requirement to identify yourself (or be identified) when using the internet.

Tumbler Ridge Residents Fear for Town's Future

Two years after politicians rushed to defend a mining company that was hiring workers from China over locals in Tumbler Ridge, B.C., residents are worried about their town's future after layoffs at two nearby mines.

"It's not nice," said Clayton Knowles, who lost his job at Wolverine mine seven months ago. "Every day I'm counting the hours I get to make sure I can pay my mortgage."

As residents fret about their economic futures, local politicians are conspicuously silent.

California Tells Court It Can’t Release Inmates Early Because It Would Lose Cheap Prison Labor

Out of California’s years-long litigation over reducing the population of prisons deemed unconstitutionally overcrowded by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010, another obstacle to addressing the U.S. epidemic of mass incarceration has emerged: The utility of cheap prison labor.

In recent filings, lawyers for the state have resisted court orders that they expand parole programs, reasoning not that releasing inmates early is logistically impossible or would threaten public safety, but instead that prisons won’t have enough minimum security inmates left to perform inmate jobs.

Harper Government Wants Better Use Of Secret Intelligence In Court

OTTAWA - The Harper government is looking for ways to better use secret intelligence in court proceedings as a means of countering homegrown terrorism, says a senior federal official.

The goal is to introduce intelligence in criminal trials while protecting the sensitivity of the information, John Davies, a director general with Public Safety Canada, told a Senate committee Monday.

First Nations students in Ontario and Alberta failing in literacy, math

The majority of First Nations students on reserves in Ontario and Alberta are failing at reading, writing and math, according to 2013-14 standardized test results recently published by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. Students in Atlantic Canada and Manitoba are also struggling.

The results of First Nations students who participated in provincial standardized testing were quietly made public in a 130-page departmental performance report published earlier this month.

Chemical Plant Where 4 Workers Died Hadn’t Had Workplace Safety Inspection In 7 Years

On Saturday morning, four workers died at a DuPont chemical plant that manufactures the pesticide Lannate in La Porte, Texas after a leak of the poisonous gas methyl mercaptan. A fifth was hospitalized but later released. The plant hasn’t been visited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration since 2007.

Such a deadly accident without an explosion or fire is unusual, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Only Tory politicians and TV stars are allowed to play military dressup in Canada

Didn't the unfortunate Franck Gervais understand you have to be an elected Conservative politician or a TV star before you're allowed to dress up in a uniform and pretend to be a soldier?
I speak, of course, of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino and right-wing hockey commentator Don Cherry, all of whom are known to dress in military drag and prance around as if their power and status derived from something other than the inattention of voters and television viewers. There are many others, I have no doubt.

Joe Oliver's $800-per-table fiscal update raises NDP ire

Finance Minister Joe Oliver's decision to deliver his fall economic update in front of an $800-per-table Canadian Club crowd has raised the ire of the opposition New Democrats, who say the move could constitute contempt of Parliament.

"As legislators, MPs must have access to this information to be able to do their job," Cullen told the House of Commons Monday. "We must be able to analyze the state of the finances of this country."

Two Detroits, Separate and Unequal

In late October, a few days after local news cameras swarmed Detroit’s courthouse to hear closing arguments in the city’s historic bankruptcy trial, “Commander” Dale Brown cruised through the stately Detroit neighborhood of Palmer Woods in a Hummer emblazoned with the silver, interlocking-crescent-moon logo of his private security company.

Brown rolled down the window to ask a middle-aged woman walking her dog whether everything was okay (it was), and whether she had seen anything out of the ordinary (she hadn’t). Satisfied, he continued on, guided by a futuristic tablet map of the neighborhood’s languid streets. These had become even more impenetrable last year when the bankrupt city paid for and constructed a series of traffic barriers on the community’s edges. On his right, he pointed out, was the Bishop’s Residence, a 30-room Tudor Revival castle originally commissioned by a family of fabulously wealthy automobile pioneers who later sold their company to General Motors.

On Remembering 'Democracy'

There's an old joke about memory loss.

A couple in their nineties are both having problems remembering things. During a checkup, the doctor tells them that they're physically okay, but they might want to start writing things down to help them remember.
Later that night, while watching TV, the old man gets up from his chair.
'Want anything while I'm in the kitchen?' he asks.
'Will you get me a bowl of ice cream?'
'Don't you think you should write it down so you can remember it?' she asks.
'No, I can remember it.'
'Well, I'd like some strawberries on top, too. Maybe you should write it down, so as not to forget it?'
He says, 'I can remember that. You want a bowl of ice-cream with strawberries.'
'I'd also like whipped cream. I'm certain you'll forget that, write it down?' she asks.
Irritated, he says, 'I don't need to write it down; I can remember it! Ice cream with strawberries and whipped cream - I got it, for goodness sake!'
Then he toddles into the kitchen. After about 20 minutes, the old man returns from the kitchen and hands his wife a plate of bacon and eggs. She stares at the plate for a moment.
'Where's my toast?'

5 Reasons the Senate Must Protect Our Communities from the Keystone XL Pipeline

On Tuesday, the Senate will vote on a bill forcing President Obama to green light the Keystone XL pipeline for dirty tar sands oil. Keystone threatens our air and water and would intensify the climate change already pounding our communities. The bill is a gift to the oil and gas industry, but if it passes, the American people will be stuck paying the price.

This bill would bypass essential reviews, skip safety assessments, and fast track a dangerous project. This has sweeping implications for future generations. And yet it is entangled in the politics of the moment.

Haaretz obtains full document of EU-proposed sanctions against Israel

An internal European Union document on proposed sanctions against Israel, which Haaretz obtained in its entirety on Monday, reveals new details on the suggestions being made in the internal discussions among EU member states that have been taking place in Brussels. Among the options under consideration are measures against European companies that work in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

How CEOs Are Rigging The Game To Get Paid More

The paranoid water-cooler lament that the boss has rigged the rules so that he will get paid even if he screws up is mostly true, according to new in-depth research on executive compensation rules and company performance.

Analysts from Organizational Capital Partners (OCP) found that a company’s economic performance bears only a fleeting influence on how it pays its top employee. Performance “explains only 12 percent of variance in CEO pay,” the report says, while the other 88 cents of every dollar of difference is explained by factors that have nothing to do with how the chief executive does his job. The size of the company, its past pay levels, the industry in which it operates, and basic inflation combine to explain almost two-thirds of the variation in pay between CEOs at comparable firms.

Quoting Hobby Lobby, Federal Appeals Court Hands Down Big Victory For Birth Control

A federal appeals court in Washington, DC handed down a decision on Friday that could neutralize some of the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby if it is upheld on appeal. Hobby Lobby held that employers with religious objections to birth control have broad immunity from federal rules requiring them to include birth control in their employer-provided health plan. Judge Nina Pillard’s decision in Priests For Life v. Department of Health and Human Services, however, indicates that there are limits to an employer’s ability to deny birth control coverage to their employees.

Catholic Church Argues It Doesn't Have to Show Up in Court Because Religious Freedom

When Emily Herx first took time off work for in vitro fertilization treatment, her boss offered what sounded like words of support: "You are in my prayers." Soon those words took on a more sinister meaning. The Indiana grade school where Herx was teaching English was Catholic. And after church officials were alerted that Herx was undergoing IVF—making her, in the words of one monsignor, "a grave, immoral sinner"—it took them less than two weeks to fire her.

Alain Saulnier, Ex-CBC Exec, Says Broadcaster ‘In Danger Of Disappearing Forever'

As protesters marched on Sunday to oppose funding cuts to CBC/Radio-Canada, a former executive at the broadcaster is warning it’s “truly in danger of disappearing forever.”

Alan Saulnier says years of successive governments playing politics with the CBC’s budget has left the broadcaster vulnerable.

In an editorial in the Toronto Star, Saulnier says both Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Prime Minister Jean Chrietien in their day used threats to the CBC’s funding to pressure the network into more favourable news coverage.

Number Of Homeless Children In America Surges To All-Time High: Report

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The number of homeless children in the U.S. has surged in recent years to an all-time high, amounting to one child in every 30, according to a comprehensive state-by-state report that blames the nation's high poverty rate, the lack of affordable housing and the impacts of pervasive domestic violence.

Titled "America's Youngest Outcasts," the report being issued Monday by the National Center on Family Homelessness calculates that nearly 2.5 million American children were homeless at some point in 2013. The number is based on the Department of Education's latest count of 1.3 million homeless children in public schools, supplemented by estimates of homeless pre-school children not counted by the DOE.

Mideast Conflict: Palestinian Bus Driver Found Hanged In Jerusalem Bus

JERUSALEM, Nov 17 (Reuters) - A Palestinian bus driver was found hanged in his vehicle on Monday, an incident that led to stone-throwing protests by Palestinians suspecting foul play but which Israeli police, citing autopsy results, termed a suicide.

Youssef al-Ramouni, 32, was found dead at the start of the route he was supposed to have driven late on Sunday, in a district of Jerusalem close to Jewish settlements and Palestinian neighborhoods.

Harper has been losing friends for a decade, now he’s losing his base

Conrad Black says Stephen Harper has “run out of steam.”

Among moguls, that’s code for a guy who doesn’t know what to do anymore but likes the job a lot. And yes, this is the same Conrad Black who founded the National Post to advance the fortunes of the Conservative Party.

John Ralston Saul thinks Mussolini would have admired the way Stephen Harper does business. Ralston Saul is one of the country’s great public intellectuals, a man at the very centre of the cultural establishment.

MPs like ‘kings, queens in their little domains,’ contribute to ‘culture of silence’: Clancy

An arm’s-length process needs to be established to deal with allegations of misconduct or harassment—sexual and otherwise—on Parliament Hill, say experts, as the culture on the Hill is more conducive to inappropriate behaviour than the average workplace.

“The combination of power and testosterone often leads, unfortunately, to poor judgment, especially in a system where there has been no real process to date,” said Nancy Peckford, executive director of Equal Voice Canada, a multi-partisan organization focused on getting more women elected.

Most families lose out in Harper's new tax plan

Heading into the 2015 election season, the Harper government recently unveiled a bundle of what have been referred to as "family-focused" tax cuts. However, with several figures and complex lingo to sift through, many families across Canada are wondering what types of families these policies are going to benefit and how.
The plans are worth approximately $4.6 billion annually and incorporate income-splitting for families with children under 18. Firstly, the Universal Child Care Benefit will increase from $60 per month to $160 per month for youth under six years old. If your child is aged 7-17 your benefit will be $60.

Trans Mountain Pipeline: Big Bucks for US Investors, Peanuts for Us

Kinder Morgan, the Texas-based multinational that owns and operates the Trans Mountain Pipeline System, claims Trans Mountain is a significant contributor to federal and provincial income tax revenues. The company is relying on this as proof it deserves a public licence to triple its pipeline capacity in Western Canada.

Pouring tax revenues into Canada is not the story Kinder Morgan tells its U.S.-based shareholders. Promoting Trans Mountain south of the border, Kinder Morgan boasts of tax refunds -- two in the past five years. From 2009 to 2013 Trans Mountain's combined federal and provincial Canadian corporate tax contribution averaged just $1.5 million per year.

Dean Del Mastro legal fees subsidized by taxpayers

Canadians subsidized the legal fees of Dean Del Mastro, the former parliamentary secretary to the prime minister, through a fundraiser organized by his riding association that allowed it to provide tax receipts to contributors.

Political contributions are eligible for a tax credit of up to $650, depending on the amount contributed. A spokeswoman for the commissioner of Canada elections says there are no guidelines for how a riding association spends its money outside of an election period. That means the Peterborough Conservatives broke no rules.

Edwin and Elise Britton battle Canada Revenue Agency over $18K tax bill

It was Benjamin Franklin who said, "in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

But in the case of Calgary residents Elise and Edwin Britton, an $18,000 tax bill from the Canada Revenue Agency that questioned their Canadian residency for tax purposes came as quite a surprise.

The family went to China in 2004 after Edwin Britton accepted a two-year contract with an English training school there.