Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Doug (In-AndOut-Scandal Finley) Tells Us To Relax and forget About Robocalls

Senator Doug Finley, the mastermind behind the in-and-out crimes committed by the Harper Conservatives, and husband of the Tory's go-to-girl, Diane Finley, narrowly escaped justice in those illegal acts thanks to a plea bargain by the Conservative Party.

Now this same paragon of virtue is telling us to all rest easy, that any instances of (voter suppression) wrongdoing will be unveiled as isolated incidents carried out by local volunteers.

Thanks Doug. I for one can rest easier tonight, knowing that you are on the job protecting our democratic freedoms.

Rick Mercer Has Harper's Number

Voter Suppression: Canadians Continue To Vent Their Fury

While the rogue Prime Minister continues to deny his party's involvement in voter suppression, Canadians continue to vent their fury.

And While We Were Concerning Ourselves About Tory Crimes of Voter Suppression

...That go-to party loyalist, Tory minion Diane Finley, has just made it harder for our young people to find summer employment.

The Tory Strategy of Fostering Voter Disengagement

I have long believed that a good part of the Conservative strategy to become Canada's natural governing party rests on a strategy of disenfranchisement. By lowering the tone of public debate, by acting in high-handed and undemocratic ways, by hobbling data-gathering apparatuses, and by employing a myriad of other tactics very ably outlined recently by Lawrence Martin, Harper and his wrecking crew have been systematically convincing more and more people that politics is not worth their time, and that their vote doesn't count. As I have written previously, that leaves the voting field open for Conservative true-believers to wield a disproportionate influence on election outcomes.

Tim Harper has written an important piece on this problem in today's Star, must-reading for those concerned about this very dangerous trend.

The Star Continues Digging into Tory Voter Suppression Crimes

While Canada's so-called newspaper of record continues doing only a perfunctory job in its coverage of the voter suppression crimes that may very well have affected the outcome of the last federal election, The Toronto Star continues to dig deeply and widely, bringing readers a very comprehensive picture of what one would like to hope will be the beginning of the end of the Harper regime.

Today's coverage, for example, confirms that attempts at election-rigging were not restricted to a putative rogue party functionary in Guelph. Indeed, the crimes seem to have extended all the way to the West Coast, where Ken Hancock was told that his voting location had been changed from the usual location — a local school not far from his Pender Island, B.C., home — to the municipality of Saanich on Vancouver Island.

The supposed new location meant that Hancock would have to drive to the ferry dock at Otter Bay on the northwest side of Pender Island, take a 40-minute ferry ride south to Vancouver Island, and then drive another 30 kilometres to Saanich to cast his ballot.

As citizens of this country, we have a responsibility to commit the time and effort necessary to educate ourselves fully into the extent and range of these very serious crimes. Fortunately, The Star is doing much of the legwork for us.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Sound of Subversion - A Robocall Recorded

So this is what subversion sounds like. The Star has obtained a voice recording of one of the fake calls in Guelph, giving instructions to the recipient to go to the wrong polling station.

What is that old saying about the banality of evil?

The Harper Conservatives: A Scapegoat For Every Occasion

I just finished reading a thoughtful piece by Michael Ignatief's former chief speechwriter, Adam Goldenberg, suggesting that those Tory functionaries who are scapegoated for the government's crimes often go on to their reward - reinstatement within the party hierarchy.

A reposting of a reader's comment following the article speaks volumes:

I am 91 years old and have voted for the Conservative Party all my life. I fought over in Europe during the second world war to defend Canada's freedoms from tyranny, and now the nazi jackboot is descending on Canada. Some of my friends died in battle long ago as I live to watch Canada being slowly turned into nazi Germany by this group in Ottawa that I voted for. I hope I live long enough to see them out of power. These people in Ottawa are dangerous to our cherished freedoms and are a danmation to those who died preserving Canada's freedoms from people like them.

From A Repentant Ex-Conservative

This sobering reminder from Victor Pocaterra of the price we pay for a corrupt government should give everyone pause:

A few months ago I was a card carrying Conservative, serving as a director on both the Guelph and Kitchener-Center Conservative electoral district association boards. I succeeded Michael Sona as president of the University of Guelph Campus Conservatives and I can tell you I deeply regret all the work I have done for the Conservative Party of Canada.

They have gone against Canadian values and have made a joke out of our democracy. I believed I was working for a cause to bring greater accountability, transparency and respect for the taxpayer; the result was just the opposite.

Canada is a great nation, built by a people who value hard work, taking responsibility for one’s actions and above all honesty. The government that sits in Ottawa values only power and cannibalizes its own in order to save face.

As someone who has seen what is talked about in the party, I can only say God help Canada in the next four years. Because it won’t be the country that veterans, like my grandfather fought so hard to protect.

Victor Pocaterra, Kitchener

For Anyone Inclined to Give Harper The Benefit Of The Doubt...

I urge you to read Lawrence Martin's damning assessment of his dirty operations.

“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: / Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

The face of unrepentant smarm:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Is The Channel About To Be Changed?

Always adept at averting attention from their criminal acts, look for a Harper push to change the channel with this information.

In my humble opinion, neither Towes nor any other member of his 'rat-pack' deserves any gesture of contrition, only contempt.

The Conservatives: Farther Gone Than I Had Realized

The Harperites are more out of touch with reality than I realized if they think this Tory bought-and-paid-for hack is going to do them any good in their voter-suppression crimes.

The Public Responds To Conservative Voter-Suppression Crimes

While I normally spend little time reading readers' on-line comments in The Globe and Mail, these, I think, help to capture the fury more and more of the public is feeling over Harper-inspired malfeasance.

John Ibbitson's Faith In Stephen Harper

While acknowledging the seriousness of the voter suppression crimes being uncovered, The Globe's John Ibbitson writes the following:

... we can be reasonably certain that Mr. Harper, who is Leader of the Conservative Party as well as Prime Minister, knew nothing about what was going on in Guelph or elsewhere. Campaign officials protect their leaders from that sort of direct knowledge.

To put it mildly, his is not a faith I share.

Is That Pungent Odor Coming From A Smoking Gun?

If the Canadian media and the Oppositions parties do their jobs, perhaps we'll soon have an answer.

The following is reported in today's Star:

Callers on behalf of the federal Conservative Party were instructed in the days before last year’s election to read scripts telling voters that Elections Canada had changed their voting locations, say telephone operators who worked for a Thunder Bay-based call centre.

The story goes on to report that three employees of a call centre in Thunder Bay, operated by Responsive Marketing Group Inc., were very concerned about the nature of their scripts; one of them, Annette Desgagné, 46, was so distressed over the fact that the calls were misdirecting voters to the wrong polling stations that she reported her suspicions to her supervisor at the RMG site, to the RCMP office in Thunder Bay and to a toll-free Elections Canada number at the time.

Desagne's response from the RCMP is troubling. She was told by an officer whose name she can't recall that there was nothing they could do. Nobody else followed up with her.

Given the politicization of the federal police that has taken place under Harper, one senses there is much more to ferret out here under the heading of Harper crimes and misdemeanors.

Let's hope that both the press and the polticians have the fortitude to follow this through.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

You Know The Conservatives Are In Trouble When

....they start losing some of their biggest cheerleaders.

Another Kind of Power Abuse

Although the political abuse of power is endemic in this country, especially at the federal level, it is sadly not the only one in which innocent people are victimized.

While I have frequently written on police misuse of power, the instances of that abuse, and the difficulty in bringing the perpetrators to account, seem only to be growing. Both Susan Clairmont, of The Hamilton Spectator, and The Star's Rosie DiManno, in an especially hard-hitting piece, offer some important insights into the obstacles faced by those seeking to bring rogue authorities to justice.

Harper's War On Democracy

Whether or not one believes that Stephen Harper had a direct hand in the robocall efforts to subvert the last election, one thing is perfectly clear: given his well-known contempt for our democratic traditions, he needs to recognize his responsibility in setting a tone that is odious to most Canadians, a tone in which dissent leads to ridicule, dismissal and muzzling, and results in a demoralized population less inclined to participate in the electoral process, thereby giving undue influence to the true believers turning out at the polls.

The Star has an excellent editorial today, putting the blame squarely at the Prime Minister's door, where it justly belongs.

Rob Ford's Influence Grows

Rob Ford, long known for his antipathy towards those pedestrians and bikers and other eco-freaks who have conducted a war on cars, may have found an ally (or perhaps a relative) in Florida.

One wonders if he regrets not sending Gary Webster on a junket there.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Spirit of the People is not Dead in Toronto

For someone who believes in the potential power of the people, this small demonstration against Rob Ford's brutish abuse of power is heartening.

More on Election Fraud

For anyone concerned about the rapidly deteriorating system we call democracy, I urge you to read Dr. Dawg, who has done his usual excellent job of putting the pieces together, this time on Conservative criminal acts that appear to have compromised the last federal election.

Peter Has Some 'Splainin' To Do

Peter "The Prevaricator' MacKay apparently has some 'splainin' to do to Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk regarding his misuse of military resources for political purposes.

However, don't expect MacKay, an emblem of the amorality that pervades the Harper regime, to be offering his resignation anytime soon. That kind of action tends to be reserved either for people of integrity or when demanded by a leader with principles.

One positive for MacKay in this embarrassment: he is apparently improving on his aerobic fitness.

A Crippled General Laid Bare

That is the phrase Star columnist Royson James uses to describe Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Even if you live nowhere near the city, his analysis of power misused and abused makes fascinating reading for anyone interested in the mentality and tactics of the right-wing.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Dark Master Speaks

Regarding the robo-call criminal acts, did Stephen Harper actually deny any involvement with a straight face?

Meanwhile, a young Tory staffer has apparently been chosen to take the fall.

Another Bald-Faced Lie From The Defense Minister

Not that he has any credibility left, but Minister of Defense Peter McKay has told yet another whopper, this one at the Conference of Defence Association's annual meeting.

New From The Police Beat

Ryan Tocher, a Hamilton police officer who the SIU likely has on speed dial, is being investigated for a third time by the ostensibly impotent unit, this time for his involvement in the death of an unarmed Phonesay (Pun) Chanthachack, who was shot earlier this month while behind the wheel of his van.

What's the old saying, Three strikes and you're out?

Meanwhile, police in Toronto are outraged over the fact that one of their own, Const. David Cavanagh, has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Eric Osawe, who was shot in the back two years ago.

Toronto Police Association union president Mike McCormack called the murder charge “over the top,” saying there is no new evidence against the 35-year-old officer. “The Crown has had this case for two years. Nothing has changed,” he told reporters.

“My concern right now is that membership and police officers who work in the city have lost confidence in the process.”

Perhaps this loss of confidence McCormack refers to will lead to some empathy on the part of officers, as now they might begin to understand what the public has felt after being witness to some very questionable police actions these past many years.

The Toronto Star- Another Winning Editorial Cartoon.

One of the many reasons I love The Star.

Harper's Continued Debasement of Democracy

For those with a naive trust in the 'integrity' of the Harper regime, I heartily recommend that you start educating yourselves about the machinations being orchestrated in Ottawa by our dark lord. Here and here would be two good places to start. As well, The Galloping Beaver has some interesting insights on the military maneuvers of our offensive Minister of Defense, Peter McKay.

Otherwise, continue to bury your head in the sand while our country's proud traditions are being destroyed by a rogue government.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Criminals In Ottawa - Why Am I Not Surprised?

Based upon a report in The Ottawa Citizen, it appears that Stephen Harper and his crew, through a company called Racknine Inc., engaged in fraud aimed at voter-suppression in the last federal election by attempting to send voters to the wrong polling station.

Elections Canada is investigating. Interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmel calls the tactics a disgrace. I call them criminal acts.

Thomas Walkom Warns About The Real Cost of OAS Reform

While Stephen Harper stooge Diane Finley does her master's bidding by sowing the seeds of conflict between young and old over Old Age Security, Star columnist Thomas Walkom warns that it is the young who will pay the price for Tory tampering.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Toronto's Thuggish Mayor

The thuggish mentality of the Ford crew is captured rather nicely here, I think.

The Latest Conservative Effort at Fostering Division and Discord

It would appear that Human Resources Minister Diane Finley is in the vanguard of the Harper regime's latest ploy to sow dissension and suspicion, the ultimate goal being to pit Canadians against Canadians.

Finley, whose inept handling of the Employment Insurance backlog earns her zero credibility in my book, seems now to be trying to ignite a war between younger and older Canadians. Using the now familiar Tory ploy of absolutism, she gave an address yesterday to students from Jean Vanier Catholic Secondary School of Scarborough in which she painted a grim picture of their future supporting retired Canadians unless her government acts decisively on the OAS file. You can read the full account here.

By the way, we don't know how the students reacted to her hyperbole - they were barred from speaking to the media, presumably another example of the muzzling this government is becoming infamous for.

An Elephant in the Room

I had a dream last night that Rob Ford and his brother were in my home, and everywhere they sat, the furniture broke. Could it be a metaphor for the policy impoverishment now afflicting Toronto, and accelerated by the firing of Gary Webster?

But then again, I suppose a literal interpretation would not be out of order either.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Video of a Sad Performance

See Ford bark, see ttc commissioners run.

Ford Gets His Way

The blowt king, aided and abetted by his minions, has gotten his way.

Toronto is the poorer for it.

Christopher Hume's Withering Assessment of Rob Ford and His Enablers

That Ford can still find five members of council willing to do his bidding, no matter how transparently shabby it may be, also speaks volumes about the sorry state of Toronto politics. The members of this odious quintet — TTC commissioners Norm Kelly, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Frank Di Giorgio, Cesar Palacio and Vincent Crisanti — shame all Torontonians, including the mayor.

And that's only a small excerpt from an excellent analysis.

A 'Dwarfish Thief' At Toronto City Hall

For those who think Shakespeare has lost his relevance in our time, try out this quotation from Macbeth when you think of Mayor Rob Ford and his abuse of power:

He cannot buckle his distempered cause
Within the belt of rule...

Now minutely revolts upbraid his faith-breach.
Those he commands move only in command,
Nothing in love. Now does he feel his title
Hang loose about him, like a giant’s robe
Upon a dwarfish thief.

The bard was, indeed, a man for all seasons.

The Arrogant and The Obsequious

For those both fascinated and repelled by the abuse of power happening in Toronto, and the obsequious who make possible that abuse, I highly recommend today's column by Royson James, who speculates on the qualities of pusillanimous appeasement that will be required in Gary Webster's replacement.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tim Harper on the Vic Toews Debacle

In my opinion Tim Harper, a Star columnist with whom I tend to agree more often than disagree, misses the mark with his latest piece.

Entitled A mean town just got a whole lot meaner, the article laments the ugliness that has ensued in reaction to Toews' attempt under Bill C-30 to erode our online privacy under the pretext of ferreting out child pornographers. Toews and his government's resort to ad hominems, absolutism and other acts unworthy of a democratic government against those with reservations to the bill have provoked a furious response from the Twitterverse, including revelation of the ugly details of the Public Safety Minister's messy divorce.

Tim Harper suggests that those details should have remained private, arguing that Toews has done nothing criminal, hypocritical, nor unethical in his Parliamentary position:

In other words, there was no need to pull back the curtain on a family mess that involved others who did not choose politics as a vocation.

What the columnist ignores here is that the Twitter tactics were perfectly predictable, given the debased public climate fostered and promoted by Stephen Harper since assuming office six years ago.

In the Harper world, anyone who questions or impedes his government's vision is regarded as an enemy of Canada, a Taliban sympathizer, or disloyal to our troops. In Harper's Canada, anyone with a competing vision is villified, marginalized, muzzled, mocked or otherwise neutralized. And in Harper's world, if all else fails and real democracy threatens, there is always the prorogue option.

After six years of exposure to these abuses of power and with no recourse, is it any wonder that people, not only feeling impotent rage at their marginalization but also victims themselves of this government-led warping of public morality, are resorting to measures that in normal times would have been considered beyond the pale? Indeed, haven't more and more Canadians lost hope of legitimately influencing a government that no longer even pretends to represent the best interests of the people?

The Dark Ford Forces Prepare

Were I given to rhetorical flourishes, which of course I am not, I might refer to the gathering tomorrow of Mayor Ford and his good soldiers as a mini-Wannsee Conference as they prepare their plan to dispatch not just TTC head Gary Webster but up to five TTC executives.

Says good soldier/Ford loyalist/TTC commissioner Frank Di Giorgio:

“We will discuss whether removing some managers — and it may in fact be three, four, five — we may discuss whether that’s the way to go,” ...“We’re trying to eliminate some of the problems that surfaced over the last month that should not have surfaced and need not have surfaced.”

In his quest for a final solution to the vexing problem of bureaucrats thinking independently as they search for the best transit options for Toronto, Di Giorgio said the responsibility of the city’s bureaucracy is to follow the will of the mayor and achieve the objectives set out by his mandate, which TTC managers have failed to do.

Put another way, I suppose that grovelling obeisance has suddenly become the prime qualification for employment in the upper echelons of the TTC under the Ford regime. Next stop? Fealty oaths, anyone?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Torontonians Rising to the Challenge Presented by Mayor Ford's Fascism

Although I don't live in Toronto, I am riveted to and outraged by stories of those who abuse their power. As discussed in my previous post, that is precisely what is transpiring in 'the big smoke' under the direction of Rob Ford and his acolytes.

Fortunately, however, people are fighting back. Despite the fact that the meeting to unjustly fire Gary Webster will take place behind closed doors, citizens are planning to show up at City Hall:

Community organizer Dave Meslin, who is part of one group calling on people to attend the meeting, said the frustration and anger among transit riders on Facebook and Twitter is “unlike anything I’ve seen before.”

“That’s because this goes beyond a simple debate about policy,” Meslin said. “This is now a debate about procedure, about governance, and about whether the City of Toronto uses evidence or ideology to make decisions.”

Meslin said firing Webster will create “a climate of fear” among the city’s senior staff, which “will effectively silence all our experts across the city.”

For those who live in Toronto and want more information, Meslin has started a Facebook page.

Good luck to all people who believe in the primacy of reason over ideology.

Fascism Spreads To Toronto

Although Canada will likely never see executions for wrong-thinking, the career equivalent of such is very much evident in Toronto, under the benighted 'leadership' of Rob Ford and his cabal of retrogressive 'thinkers' and Ford loyalists (aka TTC Commissioners Norm Kelly, Vince Crisanti, Frank Di Giorgio, Denzil Minnan-Wong and Cesar Palacio).

A special meeting of the commission has been called to discuss one thing: the fate of TTC general manager Gary Webster, expected to result in his termination. His 'crime'? Refusing to surrender his integrity by endorsing Ford's obsession with subway extensions that Toronto neither needs nor can afford. Webster's termination will send a strong message that the job requirement for city staff members has changed from that of offering the best and most impartial advice on the issues to being sycophantic toadies doing the bidding of their political masters.

For a full accounting of the situation, I highly recommend today's editorial in The Star.

How the aforementioned councillors can even pretend to be representing the best interests of their constituents instead of their own venal political ambitions is beyond me, but like another man of integrity, Munir Sheik, I suspect people will remember Gary Webster long after the people acting like fascist thugs are political dust.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Contemporary Fascism: Harper Government Suppression Of Information Continues Unabated

In reviewing some of the traditional hallmarks of fascism, it is frightening to observe so many of them on the Canadian landscape, not the least of which is the Harper muzzling of federal scientists, who can no longer talk about their discoveries without government permission.

Do these other characteristics of fascism look familiar?

1. Watch for signs of extreme nationalism. One of the key components of fascism is a heavy emphasis, by the government, on patriotism and national pride, often through propaganda. Pride is often encouraged above all else, especially in the military.

2. See if there is denial of civil rights. In fascist regimes, civil rights are often ignored or not adhered to. The people under the leadership of the fascist leader are persuaded to allow drastic reductions of civil rights for the good of the state.

3. Note if there is censorship of the media. Key to the definition of fascism is control of public information. In fascism, the media is either run by the government, controlled by the government or in cooperation with the government through corruption.

4. Look for signs that religion and government are strongly linked. Fascist regimes use religion as a propaganda tool to influence citizens and gain their admiration.

5. Recognize if there is suppression of organized labor. Fascist government are often placed into power by the corporate powers of a nation. The government provides for the corporate interest and either disallows to heavily suppresses the laborers in order to keep business on their side.

6. Take note of any suppression of free expression. Part of the definition of fascism is the government's need to control the thoughts and actions of the citizens. To achieve this, fascist regimes will limit freedom of expression by disallowing the arts and free speech. High levels of education are also sometimes discouraged or eliminated.

For further reading on a very worrisome trend, I highly recommend this article by Nick Fillmore.

Oh, one more thing, and I suppose I state the obvious here: I have nothing but bottomless contempt for all of the Conservative backbenchers and ministers without whose collaboration this insidious assault on our rights and freedoms could not be taking place.

Heather Mallick on Vic Toews

Heather Mallick offers an entertaining yet perceptive analysis of the Twitter woes afflicting the man who would be our Lord and Master in today's Star that is well-worth reading. Her opening reads thus:

As Public Safety Minister Vic Toews demands an investigation into how the story of his alleged infidelities, love child and subsequent divorce ended up on Twitter, I am demanding a different investigation entirely.

How did a man like Toews find not one, but possibly three women who found him attractive enough to go the distance, so to speak? I would have thought it would be just the long-suffering one, Lorraine, to whom he was married for more than three decades.

A good question indeed.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Some Good News About Lucene Charles

Having attended a rally this afternoon in support of Lucene Charles, I was pleased to learn that things are starting to look up for her. Her deportation order, which was supposed to be put into effect on Monday, has received a six-month stay by a federal judge. You can read the full details here.

If you haven't already done so, please consider signing this petition as well.

The Parliamentary Pitbull

Doesn't John Baird ever get tired of hearing himself harangue?

Tories Unleash Attack Dog To Divert Attention From Poor Vic

Who could have anticipated this coming?

Sun TV's Alex Pierson On Tabloid Journalism

Given the station's sleaziness, Sun TV's Alex Pierson, in high dudgeon over the Twitter 'attacks' on poor Vic Toews, has an especially rich comment about 'tabloid journalism' at about the 3:15 minute mark on this video.

UPDATE: The video link no longer works, but Pierson, in the segment, professes shock at the kind of tabloid journalism at work in the Twitter 'attack' on Towes. I guess they don't allow mirrors in the Sun TV studios.

Rick Salutin On Happiness

Our self-absorbed society could do worse than read Rick Salutin's thoughts on the pursuit of happiness found in today's Star.

We Have The Fraser Institute, They Have the Heartland Institute

Adding the word 'institute' into one's 'think-tank', a measure devised to give the patina of legitimacy to what is frequently simply a right-wing propaganda machine, is nothing new, given their ubiquity on both sides of the border, the Fraser Institute and the Macdonald Laurier Institute in Canada, the American Enterprise Institute and the Heartland Institute in the U.S. being but four examples.

For whatever reason (and a lower collective intelligence may be one of them, he opined snarkily - my abject apologies to any intelligent Americans who might read this), American citizens seem to be more easily swayed by the blandishments masked as researched offered by these organizations.

As reported in today's Star, the Heartland Institute has plans to push for a public school curriculum questioning climate change. The leaked papers from the Heartland Institute has created a controversy within the scientific community as the American Association for the Advancement of Science gathers in Vancouver. This is the first time it is holding its annual meeting outside of the United States:

The documents, which were released via email and then reposted on blogs, say school teachers and principals are “heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective.”

Scientists say it is a frightening sign that much of the public remains skeptical about global warming.

“There are forces at work,” said Nina Fedoroff, president of the AAAS. “The polling data show that the fraction of citizens who believe that climate change is real has declined since 2006. Even as the scientific consensus has increased, the belief in it has declined.”

One can only hope that American teachers are able to put up a strong resistance to this well-funded propaganda machine.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Confess Now, Before He Finds Out

Tell Vic Everything. You'll feel better for it.

More Enemies of the People Identified by Harperites

The Harper regime's security forces have identified new threats to the people: Greenpeace and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals:

In a series of documents from 2005 to 2009, the RCMP and CSIS assess “threats from terrorism and extremism” and report growing concerns about environmental and animal-rights groups, as well as militants from first nations.

Not everyone, however, sees this assessment in a proactive light:

“With a lot of the government’s rhetoric around Gateway and the government’s frequent use of ‘radicalism’ and ‘extremism’ to characterize opposition, these kinds of [counterterrorist] categories are used to justify a surveillance campaign,” said Jeff Monaghan, a Queen’s University sociologist who co-authored a paper on the threat assessment after receiving the documents under the Access to Information Act.

I suspect that unless you are one of those who supports the Harper initiatives, this news will not help you to sleep better at night.

When The Right-Wing Offends The Right-Wing

I have to admit, flawed human being that I am, I'm loving every minute of this.

Lawyer Sues Police For Unlawful G20 Arrest

In a world where injustice seems to prevail, I suspect we have to be content with the small victories. Nicholas Wright looks like he is well on his way to achieving one.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Not a G20 Criminal-Cop, But A Good Start

Once in a while, justice is finally served, however imperfectly.

Curious About The Man Who Wants To Invade Our Privacy?

Then check out this and this.

Did they Use The Harper Government In The Study?

This would seem to explain a great deal about our Conservative overlords.

In the NDP Quest For Votes, Nothing Is Sacred, Not Even The Canada Health Act

I am well past the age where disillusionment comes easily, so it did not really surprise me to read of Peggy Nash's willingness to abandon the principles of the Canada Health Act in her quest for Quebec support.

Just another reason to regard 'political integrity' as a contemporary oxymoron.

What Do Stephen Harper and Rob Ford Have In Common?

Both, it seems, have a constitutional aversion to being honest with the people they purport to represent. Click here for a story on Harper's folly (i.e., the F-35 fairy tale Haper Inc. is fond of spinning to benighted voters) and here for how Toronto Mayor Rob Ford tried to bury the truth about the Sheppard subway line he is so passionate about.

By the way, The Toronto Star has announced that it is raising its subscription rates by an average of seven cents a day for seven-day-a-week delivery. The above stories demonstrate the excellence of its investigative reports and overall journalism that I am happy to pay a little extra for.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Conservatives Insult Canadians' Intelligence Once Again

While the Harper government has repeatedly shown its contempt for facts and statistics as it treads its demagogic path with abandon, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has achieved a new low. In language almost identical to that of George Bush after the terrorist attacks in New York, the Harper minion has told those who fear the erosion of privacy rights through the expansion of online monitoring, ostensibly to catch child pornographers, that they are either with the government, or “with the child pornographers” prowling online.

This shocking affront to logical thinking, known as absolutism, is a tool frequently used by the right-wing to advance causes that can't withstand scrutiny. People may recall the sobriquet that Jack Layton earned (Taliban Jack) for daring to ask questions about Canada's involvement in Afghanistan, or recent rhetoric about those opposing the Gateway Pipeline as 'enemies of the people.'

Once more, these kinds of cowardly tactics amply demonstrate why the Harper government is both unfit and unworthy to govern.

G20 Toronto Police Not Paid for Overtime?

Perhaps next time they will be more selective about the number of law-abiding citizens against whom they wield their batons and arrest.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Department of National Defence Follies: $21 For A Bag Of Concrete Worth $2.67

While the Harper regime tells the rest of us that we must tighten our collective belts, its military arm, the DND, is spending, well, like drunken sailors. May I suggest that a trip to Home Depot might save about $18.50 per bag of concrete?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Why The F-35 Won't Fly

If you are interested in why the F-35 is an exceedingly poor choice for our next generation of fighter planes, read this article, where you will also see the infantile way in which Harper government toady Julian Fantino dismisses reasoned arguments against the purchase.

Conservative Ethos: Caviar for Corporations, Cake For Canadian Masses

Stephen Harper and his wrecking crew continue their agenda of altering the fundamental nature of Canadian society. By engineering an ever-dwindling supply of government revenue through corporate tax cuts that neither attract nor keep jobs in Canada, making huge expenditures on jet fighters we don't need, and building super-prisons during a time of record low crime rates, the neo-liberal cabal seems to think that it will be easy to convince us of the need to make ordinary people pay the price of their folly.

And they are probably right, unless Canadians wake up and begin critically evaluating the nonsense coming out of Ottawa in a steady stream. A good place to start might be the editorial in today's Star that lays bare the ideological underpinnings of the current Conservative assault on Old Age Security, which the Harper regime has deemed to be unaffordable in its present form, despite solid evidence from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

2012 - A New Year, But For Peel Police, The Malfeasance Continues

2011 was not a good year for the Peel police. Racial profiling, harassment of citizens and fabrication of evidence seemed to be the order of the day. The new year brings new dishonour to the force, this time in the form of perjury.

As reported in today's Star, members of the Peel drug squad lied in court about a beating they administered to a suspected drug dealer, Tan-Hung Dinh. Const. Ian Dann, along with constables Jason Hobson, Jay Kirkpatrick and Steve Roy, were part of a sting operation that for no apparent reason resulted in their thrashing Dinh inside of a hotel room. Dinh's lawyer, Leora Shemesh, applied to have the drug charges stayed or evidence excluded. She alleged there were numerous Charter violations during the arrest.

Having no choice but to throw out all charges except for one relating to possession of cocaine, Superior Court Justice Deena Baltman gave the following damning assessment of the officers involved:

“The police lied under oath in order to cover up (an) illegal search and persisted in their lying when confronted with the most damning of evidence. All these misdeeds were calculated, deliberate and utterly avoidable,” and then added,

“The police showed contempt not just for the basic rights of every accused but for the sanctity of a courtroom,” ... referring to four officers from the force’s drug and vice unit, who are involved in a multitude of other narcotics cases in Peel.

Despite the ordering of an internal investigation by Peel Police Chief Mike Metcalf, critics are not holding their breath that anything will change, given the failure of past investigations to yield any results. Indeed, one assumes if the force were really serious about cleaning up corruption, they would ask an independent force to investigate.

Perhaps the most damning indicator that nothing will change is that even though the judge's findings have been known to the Chief since last fall, the malefactors remain on active duty.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Never Let Facts Get In The Way Of Ideology: The Conservative Credo

That's the only inference I can draw after reading about the report by Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page that there is no crisis in the current funding of Old Age Security, despite proclamations by Human Resources Minister Diane Finley and her dear leader, and hence no need for raising the age of eligibility.

Does It Run In Their Genes?

I guess the ideological apple doesn't fall far from the tree. While contempt for democracy is egregiously evident in the behaviour and pronouncements of Stephen Harper and his minions, it seems that young Tim Hudak, the Ontario Conservative leader, has also become infected.

In his latest column, Christopher Hume observes the essentially anti-democratic nature of the conservative mentality, using the example of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's assertion that the city council vote to defeat his transit vision is 'irrelevant.'

He adds:

Within hours of Ford’s dismissal of council’s decision, Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak and one of his legislative bright lights, Peter Shurman, were adding their voices to the din.

Council, they argued, should simply be ignored. Like Ford, they believe it is irrelevant, a body that can be forgotten.

Though Hudak’s anti-democratic sentiments come as no surprise, it isn’t often we are treated to the spectacle of a senior leader of a mainstream political party so openly displaying his contempt for civic democracy.

Is there a common source of the water or the kool-aid that the right-wing true believers are drinking from?

All The World's A Stage: Harper Hypocrisy in China

Harper blasts foreign money in oil sands debate while welcoming China

Prime Minister Stephen Harper blasted “foreign money and influence” behind critics of Canada’s oil sands even as he welcomed Chinese investment in Canada’s energy sector.

... he made clear he does not equate Chinese foreign investment in oil sands development with the unwanted “foreign money” behind environmental groups, and that he sees no irony in the contradiction.

'Nuff said, I think.

Musical Chairs Belong At Children's Parties, Not In The Senate

I really have nothing to add here. The absolute puerility of the Conservatives speaks for itself:

OTTAWA—The so-called house of sober second thought witnessed the kind of contest normally associated with first-grade birthday parties, as a showdown erupted over seating arrangements this week.

The newly elected chair of the Senate banking committee, Conservative Irving Gerstein, didn’t want the vice-chair, Liberal Céline Hervieux-Payette, sitting next to him.

When he asked her to step away from the head table, she refused.

So Gerstein, elected this week as chair, called a vote to kick Payette out of her seat.

With a Conservative majority on the committee, the motion passed Wednesday and the game of partisan musical chairs ended with Payette being forced to sit farther away.

Will the Conservatives next be claiming that girls have cooties?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Haper's Trade Deal With China: Less Than Meets The Eye

Stephen Harper's pending foreign investment protection agreement with China, hailed as a breakthrough that will one day make a “very practical difference” for Canadian companies seeking to invest here, (more outsourcing?)has been summed up very nicely by an astute Star reader:

We get the pandas. They get the manufacturing jobs. Sounds like a good trade to me!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Is Werner Herzog Really Talking About Chickens Here?

Given Canadians' apparently prodigious tolerance for the abuses being perpetrated by the Harper regime, it seems Werner Herzog's comments in this video could apply equally to our credulous/disengaged/apathetic domestic populace:

Werner Herzog on Chickens from Tom Streithorst on Vimeo.

Protection, Patriotism and Punishment - the Harper Credo

By now, most have heard about Sun TV's faux citizenship ceremony orchestrated by the Harper regime to help promote its brand of Canadian patriotism. Putting aside questions of the ethics of a Canadian broadcaster allowing itself to be a propaganda arm of a government increasingly hostile to the traditional values of Canadians, I recommend Thomas Walkom's article in today's Star.

Entitled What the fake citizenship scheme says about Harper, the article offers the following insights on the deviant path the Harperites are treading:

The old Conservative brand, associated with prime ministers like John Diefenbaker and Joe Clark, emphasized practicality melded with compassion. The new one focuses on pride, patriotism and toughness.

Martial valour is an integral part of this new image. From that stems Harper’s emphasis on the military...

Toughness is expressed by the government’s emphasis on jails and mandatory sentencing, as well as its take-no-prisoners approach to political foes.

But above all, the Conservatives want to brand themselves as the party of patriots.

Recent reports of seismic disturbances in Saskatoon are undoubtedly due to John George Diefenbaker proving restive in his grave.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Liuna Local 183 Continues Its Bad Behaviour

Yesterday I wrote about the scuffle that broke out at a meeting of Liuna Local 183, a meeting that saw members demanding answers to the strange tale of the firing, rehiring, and resignation of John Manadarino, the training centre executive who misappropriated union funds but whose union executive defenders claim is merely the victim of a political vendetta against the executive.

The latest news reveals that the union is now considering legal action against those who were expecting and demanding some forthright anwers from the executive about Manadarino and his current role as the head of the Canadian Tri-Fund, a LIUNA agency that promotes industry safety and employment.

In what sounds suspiciously like the union equivalent of corporate libel-chill,

John Evans, the lawyer for Labourers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 183, said Monday the union is looking into the conduct of members at the rowdy meeting which prompted the physical removal of the two workers.

“The local is presently investigating and will determine shortly what further action, if any, will take place,” said Evans, who also acts as a spokesman for the local.

Meanwhile, Ontario Federation of Labour president Sid Ryan said he won’t intervene in the affairs of the union, an affiliate of his umbrella organization.

“It’s not going to happen,” he said. “I don’t know nearly enough to wade in.”

Solidarity forever, eh brother?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tim Harper on Caterpillar's Betrayal of Canadian Workers

As it hauls its billions in profits south of the border, Caterpillar executives should make a detour and stop in Ottawa to drop off the money they owe Canadian taxpayers.

Failing that, the Conservative government should be waiting for them at the border demanding the tax break and handout cash looted from the federal treasury.

But since both scenarios are highly fanciful, it is time for an end to the scattershot, no-strings-attached tax breaks being tossed from Stephen Harper’s government to large multinationals that are using it to drive down the standard of living in this country.

And those are just the first three sentences in Tim Harper's excellent and trenchant analysis of the Electro-Motive debacle, which I highly recommend.

Liuna Fails Its Members

The Labourers’ International Union of North America Local 183 seems to be playing right into the hands of neoconservative forces that would like nothing better than to see right-to-work legislation that would make union membership optional.

The problems at the union, which I wrote about previously, escalated into violence yesterday at a meeting in which members demanded answers about John Mandarino, the training centre executive who showed his contempt for the members' dues in a variety of ways, including misappropriating funds.

In addition to physically removing those who wanted full disclosure about the Mandarino debacle, the union executive threatened legal action against the questioners:

Local 183 business manager Jack Oliveira told the meeting that members who asked questions about Mandarino are linked to the union’s previous leadership and are “politically motivated.” Those leaders lost a close, bitter election fight last summer.

“If there is any undermining of this organization, steps will be taken to stop this once and for all. . . . I will bring charges against you,” Oliveira warned.

At a time when union membership is at an all-time low, Liuna Local 183 seems primarily concerned with concealing cronyism and possible corruption, hardly inducements for workers to surrender hard-earned dues to an organization that seems to have lost sight of its very reason for existence.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Martin Regg Cohn On The Wider Implications of the Electro-Motive Debacle

So the first lesson of the London massacre: Ottawa must be vigilant about vetting foreign investment and retaining jobs, but also mindful of valuing — and anchoring — our homegrown intellectual property. Why underwrite our companies if we willingly sell off our embedded brainpower to foreign bidders who leave Canada cash-rich, patent poor and jobless?

That, and the following, essentially sum up an excellent article by Cohn found in today's Star:

Another lesson: When it comes to the economy, empathy isn’t enough. Premier Dalton McGuinty adopted a reflexively tepid tone from the start, expressing the vain hope that both sides would come to their senses. Belatedly last week, he ratcheted up the rhetoric by exhorting the plant’s owners to play fair.

But he never picked up the phone to the employer. Nor did he reach out to Prime Minister Stephen Harper to forge a non-partisan common front. When a company treats its workers like dirt, a premier should leave no stone unturned.

But of course, the one error Cohn makes in his piece is the underlying assumption that either Harper or McGuinty really give a damn about ordinary people in this country. Proof that this is a misguided assumption: our 'leaders'' virtual silence on yet another instance of unfettered capitalism wreaking havoc in this country, and the aiding and abetting role they played.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Educate, Educate, Resist

I have to admit that nowadays I am feeling the pessimism of old strongly reemerging, not to the point of giving up my blog and whatever value it might serve in the fight against the extremists who now control the Canadian government, but to the point where I realize that the battle is lost without the willingness of Canadians, no matter how hard their daily struggles might be, to educate themselves about the issues and keep current with as many facets as possible of the neoliberal agenda being relentlessly advanced by those who pretend to represent us.

To that end, I list the following for your consideration in today's Star:

Caterpillar shutdown: U.S. company bails from London, Ont.’s Electro-Motive Diesel plant

Walkom: Caterpillar closing part of a coordinated attack on unions

Chantal Hébert: Conservative reform plans aimed beyond 2015 election

To be passive, to excuse our lack of activism with a facile dismissal of politics as 'not being interesting,' to continue to narcotize our minds and infantalize ourselves with the latest electronic gadget or reality show diversion is to reject both the rights and the responsibilities of citizenship, and to condemn future generations to a hardscrabble existence.

Thus endeth the sermon.

Friday, February 3, 2012

I'm Back - Nothing's Changed, Just Getting Worse

After a week out of the country with limited access to the Internet and Canadian news, I see things keep getting worse. First thing I read this morning was how the Harper regime faked a Citizenship ceremony staged on Sun TV, the ever-faithful tool (and I mean that in the full sense of the word) of government propaganda. Now that the truth has gotten out, I'm sure the government will find some way to burnish Sun's up-to-now- unblemished reputation for journalistic integrity.

Next comes word that Caterpillar Inc. is closing down its Electro-Motive plant in London because the workers wouldn't accept a 50% reduction in their wages and the gutting of pensions and benefits. Expect the usual suspects to lay the blame on an intransigent union, while those of us who can think will see yet another sad result of Harper and McGuinty's corporate appeasement policies.

And finally for now, despite the fact that Old Age Security is on pretty solid financial footing, Harper and Flaherty, that dynamic duo of despair, show no signs of backing down, despite widespread anger, in their plan to raise the age of entitlement to the pension, regardless of how that will affect countless Canadians.

I keep asking myself when my fellow citizens will finally rouse themselves sufficiently from their apparent inertial indifference and have a strong and unequivocal reaction against this tide of neo-liberalism, a reaction that can't be ignored even by the fascists now in control of our collective fate.