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, October 20, 2015

 Workers Fight Back Against Racism, Wage Theft, Toxic Hazards, and Chronic Overwork at Brooklyn B&H Warehouse

This workweek got off to an unusual start for Jorge Lora. In recent months at his workplace, a Brooklyn warehouse run by photography-equipment retailer B&H, he and his coworkers had become resigned to a miserable routine of working to exhaustion while subjected to injury, racial abuse, and wage theft. But he was surprised when he arrived this week. The atmosphere was calmer, supervisors weren’t hassling them, and, best of all, his workday was shorter: Instead of the usual 13-to-18-hour shift, he worked “only 12 hours.”

Gagnier scandal reminds us that lobbyists love Liberals

The Dan Gagnier affair is not merely a matter of one person's lack of judgment.
It undermines Justin Trudeau's narrative that his party is no longer the instrument of the lobbyists and special interests groups that exerted such huge influence in the days when the Liberals were the so-called natural governing party.
In light of the Gagnier revelations, voters now have a right to wonder who would determine the course of a Trudeau-led government.

Trudeau's Co-Chair Once Pushed Oil Plan with Harper Insider Now Facing Charges

Dan Gagnier, the former co-chair of Justin Trudeau's national campaign, played an active role in a controversial energy industry-funded group that employed Bruce Carson, a disbarred lawyer who was one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's longest serving aides and is facing trial.

Carson is charged with three counts of lobbying and one count of influence peddling by the RCMP in a national political scandal involving call girls, Big Oil and millions of taxpayer dollars.

Demonizing Trudeau with ‘brothel’ ads is Conservative racism

There are lies, and then there are absurd lies so ludicrous that no one could possibly believe them. The Conservatives are spreading the second kind of lie: they’re telling new Canadians of Chinese and Punjabi origin — in their first languages — that Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are going to put brothels and safe-injection offices in B.C. and in Ontario neighbourhoods like Richmond Hill and Markham.

The number of homeless veterans in Canada is soaring

The number of homeless people identified by Veterans Affairs Canada has skyrocketed over the last five years, jumping from just 35 in 2009-2010 to 236 last year.

But the true figure could be much higher. Experts suggest there could be thousands of veterans living on the streets yet to be located by government and volunteer organizations. A City of Toronto report released last year revealed that 16 per cent of the 447 people sleeping on Toronto’s streets identified themselves as veterans.

Why Is the CBO Concocting a Phony Debt Crisis?

All the serious people in Washington know we have a debt problem. “Rapidly Growing Debt Threatens America’s Economic Future” blared a typical press release from Senate Budget Committee chairman Mike Enzi. “It is clear from [Congressional Budget Office] analysis that rapidly growing public sector debt threatens America’s economic future,” he said.

There’s just one problem. The numbers relied upon by Enzi and far too many others inside the Beltway, including the Congressional Budget Office itself, are completely bogus. The methodology used by the CBO to create these projections exaggerates the federal government’s long-term debt projection by as much as 440 percent, creating a phony fiscal crisis where none exists.

Harper: Tension Between Courts, Government Part Of Canadian System

QUEBEC — For nearly a decade, Stephen Harper's government has found itself at odds with a judiciary that often strikes down laws and regulations crafted to reflect Conservative ideology and values the party says are shared by most Canadians.

And while court decisions have also forced the Conservatives to confront difficult social and moral questions about drug use, prostitution and doctor-assisted suicide, the relationship between the two branches of government is as it should be, Harper said Friday.

Kardinal Offishall On Carding, Black Lives Matter, And The Politics Of Racism

The U.S. election is still 13 months away, and yet the issue of racism against African-Americans in general, and Black Lives Matter specifically, has come up repeatedly. But in our federal election? Not so much.

While the issue of carding — police collecting information from people who have done nothing wrong in primarily poor, minority neighbourhoods — came up briefly in the Toronto riding where former police chief Bill Blair is running as a Liberal, concerns about racism affecting black Canadians have gone unmentioned on the campaign trail.

This is not a campaign on the rocks. This is a campaign in flames.

If the sight of Rob Ford in a thong would drive the bears out of the woods, the notion of Ford arranging a political rally for Stephen Harper will drive the law-abiding and sane away from the Conservative party — never to return.

The idea of standing in front of a campaign rally in a half-filled room with Rob and Doug Ford in the front row — glaring with their tiny, mad eyes — would be enough to scare the pants off a hitman.

And yet, that’s the humiliating scene to which Stephen Harper submitted himself like a lamb in Etobicoke earlier in the week. On Saturday, the Fords will do it to him again when they host the Conservative leader at another Toronto party rally. The Conservative campaign has now passed beyond putting out fires, into the realm of flat-out, hair-pulling desperation.

Harper government withholds millions budgeted for crime prevention

The Harper government has withheld millions of dollars for crime-prevention programs — the same programs it cited in pre-election events as proof of its tough-on-crime policies.

About $28 million in promised spending for the National Crime Prevention Strategy was allowed to lapse over the last three years, an internal document shows.

From Marois to Harper, niqab debate plays with xenophobic fire

The election is coming to an end. All the way, I resisted the urge to write about the niqab. Why? I didn't want to create more controversy and stir the already ugly pot simmering in many people's minds. But then, it became stronger than me. My brain isn't as disciplined as my fingers so I found myself typing out thoughts about the niqab.
Who would have thought that "niqab" -- a word not well known or used in the Muslim world -- would find its way into political debates among party leaders and hundreds of articles in the North American context?! Even the U.S. and U.K. newspapers that covered the Canadian election did so from the perspective of the niqab.

Contemplating Post-Harper Healing

Stephen Harper, the most anti-democratic prime minister in our history, may have done democracy a favour by mandating the longest election in Canadian history.

One-month elections only exposed our broken democratic system for a relatively short period. They didn't last long enough for us to really sicken of the spectacle, and then we switched our focus to the lies, manipulations and corporate sell-outs of those newly elected to run the country. But this time we have experienced what amounts to a full-immersion baptism in our truly absurd and pathologically unresponsive system of "representative democracy."

Canada Should 'Get Tough' on Political Crimes, Say Watchdogs

A new round of Conservative Party advertisements return to a familiar tough-on-crime refrain.

Radio ads released last week target a B.C. man who was found not criminally responsible for killing his three children in 2008 because of mental disorder.

The ads call Allan Schoenborn a criminal before Canadian courts have decided whether the man is a high-risk offender, according to new legislation passed two years ago. The Crown is seeking to label Schoenborn high-risk, which could lock him up for life.

Tory tax breaks benefit the wealthy few

We are the one per cent. Robbie is an economist; he makes a comfortable salary. Joanna is a physician who makes several times that amount. As young, wealthy Canadians, we stand to benefit the most from Stephen Harper’s policies.

When we (hopefully) have children in the next couple of years, we will get to split our incomes, saving $2,000 per year by reducing the tax Joanna pays. If we have two kids, two years apart, then we will get to claim the benefit for 20 years, saving us $40,000 in total.

Nine stupid things the Harper government spent tax dollars on

Since the Conservative prime minister came into power in 2006, his government has been harshly criticized for gutting federal science libraries, speeding massive omnibus bills through parliament, and making legendary cuts to support for veterans.

In the lead-up to the 2015 federal election, Conservative finance minister Joe Oliver has been scrutinized for his expensive travels. In the last nine years, the federal government has also come under fire for partisan promotion, and a number of odd investments. In no particular order, here is a list of nine strange things on which the Harper government has spent taxpayer dollars.