Friday, 29 January 2010

Excellent summary of the issues around Prorogation 2 by the Harper government

by the Real News

Correction: They state that about 5,000 people showed up at the Jan 23, 2010 rally in Toronto. Actually, about 10,000 were there.

Note: one of the people they spoke to said that this issue would all blow over by March when Parliament re-opens. However, the protest movement is still growing and Harper's conservatives are still dropping in the polls. I don't think this will blow over. I think it is blowing up in Harper's face.

Protests against the Harper government continue

Unprecedented abuse of power by Canadian PM Harper spawns
Further national and local protests are
expected in the coming weeks, including a torch relay planned to
coincide with the Vancouver Winter Olympics. A new forum site, was created
on the day of the national demonstrations to support the efforts of
protesters around the country. In addition to providing a platform for
sharing and preserving records of the January 23rd protests, these
forums will give participants an opportunity to organize further events,
discuss concerns about the Prime Minister, and educate the public about
the threat to Canadian democracy on a national and international scale.

noprorogue at :
Visit :

Peace to be negotiated in Afghanistan

Supreme Court declares that the Canadian Government clearly violated Charter and International Human Rights laws regarding the Omar Khadr case

But, they overturned the previous decision of the Federal Court that ordered the Harper government to request Khadr's return.

The Supreme court ruled against ordering the Canadian government to request that Omar Kadr be returned to Canada. But, they also declared that there is a clear breach of section 7 of the Charter, and that Canadian officials have violated their international human rights law obligations. It issued a “declaration” that stated clearly the actions of Canadian officials contributed to the continued detention of a young person who had no access to legal counsel, was subjected to “improper treatment” through sleep deprivation, likely aided his upcoming criminal prosecution, and violated principles of fundamental justice.
Court refuses to order Khadr home.

More on this news item:

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

The main whistle-blower in the Afghan scandal having his legal funding halted

Diplomat-whistleblower says he faces government reprisal -
First the Conservatives prorogue to run away from the demands for the documents in the Afghan Detainee Torture Scandal, then they stop the legal funding for the whistle blower in hopes that he will go away too.

Pie throwing a terrorist act? Ridiculous!

Pie tossing is terrorism, MP says
Although I don't agree with much of what PETA says and does, I think anyone is an idiot for thinking that PETA is a terrorist organization (or that they should be investigated to determine if PETA is a terrorist organization under the definitions of the terrorist act). Stretching the terrorist act to include pie-throwing would be an abuse of the law. I think it should result in maybe overnight jail time with a conditional discharge (if anything) when it is done to a member of the government.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Questions for the PM

Questions for proroguing PM -
The Star published a decent set of questions for the PM to answer, including things like "When will you release the documents demanded by Parliament showing communications among officials about the risk of torture for detainees handed over by Canadian troops to Afghan custody?", and others covering if he will recall Parliament earlier than planed, cutting off funding to KAIROS, how his GST Tax cut has helped create the deficit (the Star should have included the larger corporate tax cuts here as they are the largest contributor to the deficit, along with the mis-managed recession spending), unemployment, environment, and pensions.

This is a good starting point. It's unfortunate that Harper has prorogued Parliament because these are some of the urgent questions and issues that would be covered in Parliament were it up and running. So far Harper and members of his party and the MSM for the most part have brushed off questions about recalling Parliament and about the rising numbers of concerned Canadians speaking out and showing their disagreement with the prorogation of Parliament. it will be interesting to see if Harper and his team and the MSM continue to ignore the growing unrest in Canada.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Harper changes the mandate of the Rights and Democracy agency to support violators of human rights

Siddiqui: Stephen Harper's homegrown human rights problem -
This is a most horrible situation and all Canadians should be made aware of this vicious and uncaring side of Stephen Harper.

More insight on this:
Right and Democracy: dirty work at the crossroads

and here:
Rights and Democracy: The Brauning continues

Rights group's new head hires investigation firm

Typo in the Toronto Star?

Thousands protest the prorogue -
In Toronto, the estimated 3,000-strong turnout briefly forced the closing of Yonge St.
Yesterday, police estimated that there were about 7,000 people at the Toronto rally. Orgnizers estimated about 15,000. Other professionals estimated closer to 9,000 to 10,000.
The crowd in Ottawa was estimated about 3,000-4,5000.
Did the Star say 3,000 for Toronto by mistake? Or, are they lowering the numbers to make the rally look less than it was?

I was at the rally. I would say it was much much bigger than 3,000. I've been to many large assemblies and concerts in my life and estimate it was about 10,000.

For more details on the rallies, with more accurate reporting on the numbers, see:
Anti-Prorogue Rallies across Canada - Jan, 2010

Any responsible media organization would find out how many people showed up by talking to at least one professional source. For most things like this, the source is the police who are at the event. They estimated 7,000. One of the organizers made a good point that the total must have been 10,000 to 12,000 as he said that they only close off all of ... See MoreBay St if the crowd is over 10,000. So, by the time of the march, the crowd had grown larger (than the 7,000 the police initially estimated). We were there. We know that the march filled the street for many blocks - segments of the route on Yonge, Queen, Bay and Gerrard were all totally closed to traffic as we filled the streets for many blocks, spilling onto the sidewalks.

So, this begs the question - the Star must have got the number of at least 7,000 for the Toronto rally, so - why did they report much less? Either they got it mixed up with the Ottawa number, which was about 3,000, or, they want to downplay the rallies. Or, maybe it was both these reasons. Regardless, if they do publish a correction, it will be buried and un-noticed by most readers.

Reason for downplaying the rallies? They, like the other large media companies, are large corporations. And Harper gave large corporations many billions of dollars in tax decreases over the past few years. (So much so that we will now see a great reduction in services as a result). The Star does not want to bite the hand that feeds it.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Anti-Prorogue Rallies across Canada - Jan 23, 2010

I got there at about 12:45 and Dundas Square was already full. I went upstairs across the street to a 3rd floor flower shop window and took a photo of the square. Within an hour there were many thousands more people. I wandered all around the square taking pictures and talking to people. Everyone seemed pretty excited and well-informed about the issues surrounding this prorogation by Harper.

Of the various big TV news stations/networks I only saw Global and CBC - no CTV. Maybe the CTV crew was there before 1pm and that is why they estimated the crowd was only 1,000 people (It must have been only 1,000 people around 12:30pm - half an hour before the rally began.)

It was a very peaceful and well-mannered protest rally.

There were people of all ages and political preference at the rally.

Just before we marched, we all sang the national anthem (about 10,000 Canadians singing the anthem together!). I don't think there are many other times I've ever felt more proud while singing our anthem than at the rally today.

Here are the photos I took at the Rally.

Here is a video of the protest march princesssparkle posted to Youtube.

Toronto rally video

Toronto march up Bay St video - 7 minutes long - gives you an idea of the numbers of people there.

A headcount on the Toronto Rally - over 18,000 people

National Anthem video

A follow-up by Judy Rebick (Judy Rebick is a Canadian  journalist, political activist, and feminist. She is currently the Canadian Auto Workers–Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy at Ryerson University in Toronto.)
A great day for democracy in Canada
and video of her speech at the Toronto rally

Patricia reported on the CAPP FB page: We met an old friend, retired pro cameramen, who stopped to watch: said his pro opinion was up to 10,000, minimum 5000 on the march in Toronto. Woo-hoo!
CTV: "There are so many demonstrators, they cannot fit inside Yonge-Dundas
Square. Police shut down Yonge Street between Queen Street and Dundas.

Justin Arjoon of CAPP(Toronto chapter) said Jan 24th of the Toronto Rally: Thank you all for showing up and providing your support to us. We estimate there were about 10-12 thousand people there (the square holds 7, we were over capacity, and they only shut down all of bay st if there's more than 10,000 people).

I read that Steve Pakin of TVO estimated that about 10,000 people were at the Toronto rally.

Photos by Todd Claydon on FB

Vote in the on-line CTV poll!

Trevor Strong performing The Wild Proroguer at the Ottawa rally.

Lots more photos from rallies

The NoProrogue - Why We Protest site

US Health Reform a great idea, but the legislation is seriously flawed

Kucinich: Health reform legislation ‘a bailout for insurance companies’ | Raw Story
Under the revised public option, "Pelosi and her team have proposed a plan that would not make payments for care based on Medicare rates ..." CBS News's John Nichols noted. "Rather, under the Pelosi plan, the rates be tied to those of the big insurance companies. That's a big, big victory for the insurance industry, as it will undermine the ability of the public option to compete -- and to create pressure for reduced costs."
"I think we need the support of the American people to say, look, you need that state single-payer amendment in the bill to make it credible," the congressman said. "I mean, what are people giving up already? They're being mandated to buy private insurance. If you read the bill, the people are going to end up paying -- the insurance companies can raise rates 25 percent right off the bat, if you read the bill."
Schultz called the bill a "sellout" to insurers because the bill only allows 11 million people into a limited government-run health insurance option, and includes a mandate for Americans to buy private policies.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

NDP to push for reforms regarding prorogation of parliament

NDP propose restrictions on Harper’s powers | NDP
“Today I am announcing that the New Democrats will bring proposals for legislation to limit the power of prorogation so the Prime Minister cannot abuse it. The government should only prorogue Parliament on a vote in the House of Commons. This will inform the Governor General of the will of the majority, so that prorogation happens when it is needed – not simply when the Prime Minister feels like it.
“In five days, on January 25, we will be here on the Hill, ready to do the jobs Canadians elected us to do. We will have MPs on the job, here in Ottawa, but we’ll be fanning out across the country too. Teams of our MPs will visit ridings and talk to Canadians about EI and pensions, climate change and credit card protection, all the critical issues facing our country.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Greenspiration News Jan 20, 2010

Greenspiraton News

I receive an email regularly called Greenspiration News
Here is the latest edition:

Help Haiti - Drop the Debt - Sign the Petition

Cancel Haiti's existing debt and ensure new aid is provided in the form of grants.

Statement by the Canadian Peace Alliance

Humanitarian relief urgently needed in Haiti, not militarization of aid

Where Was the World When Haiti Really Needed It?

Why did it take a natural tragedy for this? Haiti's sorry history of American occupation, brutal dictatorial and military rule, the flood of refugees trying to escape the nation's destitution, the perennial food crisis's, the wave of devastating hurricanes that tore through the country in one month in 2008, the US, Canada and France's meddling in the nation's internal politics, and the grinding poverty is well known.

Haiti's corrupt, repressive military rulers and government officials get standard blame for the country's chronic poverty and bankruptcy. There's much truth to that. But Haiti is also a relentless victim of crushing and never ending debt servitude to the IMF and foreign banks, vicious labor exploitation, and the blind eye US aid policies that stunt Haiti's farm and manufacturing growth.

The nation's debt burden would sink virtually any developing nation. Haiti is compelled to shell out nearly $1 million a week to pay off its debt to the World Bank and the IMF; debt incurred by the Papa and Baby Doc Duvalier regimes and their successor military governments in the early 1990s propped up by the US.

Our role in Haiti's plight
Much of the devastation wreaked by this latest and most calamitous disaster to befall Haiti is best understood as another thoroughly manmade outcome of a long and ugly historical sequence.

The Right Testicle Of Hell: History Of A Haitian Holocaust

There's no such thing as a 'natural' disaster. 200,000 Haitians have been slaughtered by slum housing and IMF "austerity" plans.

Cuba is Missing... From US Reports on the International Response to Haiti’s Earthquake

In fact, left unmentioned is the reality that Cuba already had over 400 doctors posted to Haiti to help with the day-to-day health needs of this poorest nation in the Americas, and that those doctors were the first to respond to the disaster, setting up a hospital right next to the main hospital in Port-au-Prince which collapsed in the earthquake.

Far from “doing nothing” about the disaster as the right-wing propagandists at Fox-TV were claiming, Cuba has been one of the most effective and critical responders to the crisis, because it had set up a medical infrastructure before the quake, which was able to mobilize quickly and start treating the victims.

Haitian Earthquake: Made in the USA
Why the Blood Is on Our Hands

In Haiti this week, don't blame tectonic plates. Ninety-nine percent of the death toll is attributable to poverty.
So the question is relevant. How'd Haiti become so poor?


Naomi Klein Issues Haiti Disaster Capitalism Alert: Stop Them Before They Shock Again

Journalist and author Naomi Klein spoke in New York last night and addressed the crisis in Haiti: “We have to be absolutely clear that this tragedy—which is part natural, part unnatural—must, under no circumstances, be used to, one, further indebt Haiti and, two, to push through unpopular corporatist policies in the interest of our corporations. This is not conspiracy theory. They have done it again and again.”

Food Not Troops for Haiti! End the Military Occupation!
Sign the petition:


NO to prorogation!
YES to democracy!
Pissed off about the prorogation of Canadian Parliament? Help send a clear message to Prime Minister Harper: take to the streets on Sat. Jan. 23.

Sat. Jan. 23 Nationwide rallies - 50 cities across Canada take to the streets!


First Prorogue, then Eviscerate

Harper's agenda has a simple goal: destroy the Canadian social safety net.


‘Petro-pirates’ robbing Alberta’s resources

Flushing justice down the pipeline with Wiebo Ludwig’s arrest

Why is a bomber targeting EnCana's oil facilities and why is the RCMP targeting Wiebo Ludwig? Because Alberta is not a democratic province. It is a province controlled by international corporations that see profit and extraction of natural resources as their prime object.


Mawkish, maybe. But Avatar is a profound, insightful, important film
- By George Monbiot

Cameron's blockbuster offers a chilling metaphor for European butchery of the Americas. No wonder the US right hates it


Investors urge governments to act on climate change

Investors say hands are tied until governments act

Investors representing $13 trillion in assets are calling on governments around the world to act more decisively to adopt policies to address climate change, saying they are vowing to respond with a windfall of private investments to finance renewable and efficient energy.

"We are ready and willing to up the ante to finance the transition to a low carbon global economy, but you need to have the courage to act," Mindy Lubber, the president of investor-environmentalist coalition Ceres, said at the Investor Summit on Climate Risk.
Pick-your-own vegetables to replace flowers in high street
Climate change and food shortage issues prompt Lancashire town to consider growing edible crops in public


The first decade of the twenty-first century was the hottest since recordkeeping began in 1880. The year 2005 was the hottest on record, while 2007 and 2009 tied for second hottest. In fact, 9 of the 10 warmest years on record occurred in the past decade.


Landmark Ruling: animals fed on GM components ARE different

In a landmark ruling, the NZ Commerce Commission has accepted evidence from Prof Jack Heinemann, from an exhaustive review of the literature and on the basis of his own extensive professional experience, that animals fed on GM components ARE different from those which are reared using non-GM feed. This is a direct challenge to EFSA and FSA, who have maintained consistently that there are no differences between GM- fed and non-GM-fed animals, and that there is therefore no need for labelling or segregation of feed supplies to meet consumer demand for GM-free products.


MSC/ES – Multiple Chemical Sensitivities /Environmental Sensitivities
People with any other disability are allowed appropriate health care and related aids, tax breaks, subsidies, insurance benefits, accommodations, and accessible housing. People with chemical injury, with MCS/ES, are denied access and even obstructed at every turn.
Linda Sepp lives in Toronto, disabled and housebound from severe Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Environmental Sensitivities, Fibromyalgia, and Electro HyperSensitivity. Read her blog here:
Naomi Klein: How Corporate Branding Took Over the White House

Ten years after the publication of "No Logo", Klein looks at how Obama created a brand that won him the Presidency. Will his failure to live up to his lofty brand cost him?


For those who have not yet seen this movie, "Home" is a visually stunning, educational and brutally honest depiction about the impact of our lifestyles on our planet. I’ve circulated the link before, but it deserves a second announcement.
It’s 93 minutes, and you can watch it online here:

Opposition fights back on Prorogation

Opposition fights back on prorogation -
Both the Liberal and NDP leaders are in support of the Facebook group Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament and what it stands for.

The Liberals are going to hold hearings, with key speakers who were silenced by Harper.


Opposition critics say the latest move was a deliberate attempt to muzzle a parliamentary committee’s probe into the treatment of Afghan detainees.

But Layton said today that the three opposition parties have agreed to continue their investigation unofficially with hearings scheduled to resume Feb. 3.

The prorogation also meant the end of more than 30 pieces of legislation. Parliament had been due to resume Jan. 25.

In a speech attended by NDP MPs and party supporters, Layton ripped Harper’s decision to suspend Parliament, accusing the prime minister of showing “disdain” for MPs and Canadians.

“With so many challenges facing Canada – job creation, climate change, the war in Afghanistan – Parliament must be able to do its work,” Layton said.

“The Prime Minister must be held to account,” he said.

Layton suggested that Harper may pay a political price for his decision to prorogue Parliament, extending a Christmas recess for MPs until Mar. 3.

“There’s been a real uprising of Canadians against this notion that you simply shut down Parliament whenever you feel like it as Prime Minister,” Layton said.

He said that NDP members will be active participants in cross-country rallies planned for this Saturday to protest the prorogation and called for a “new politics.”

“The new politics says there’s a better way forward – an end to secrecy and arrogance, the beginning of openness and accountability,” Layton said.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Responsible accountable government is worth defending

Goar: Parliament is broken, not worthless -
Since Harper was first elected four years ago, he has systematically silenced inconvenient voices. He began with his own MPs and cabinet ministers – they can no longer speak without authorization. Next, he shut down parliamentary committees. Then he fired or cut short the mandates of independent public watchdogs. Then he turned on public servants who tried to sound the alarm. And now he has prorogued Parliament twice.

This may all seem distant and theoretical to you. How does it affect your life if an irritating, dysfunctional debating forum is shuttered?

• It means the government will operate behind closed doors this winter. When Parliament is closed, Harper and his ministers can avoid public scrutiny. The government can spend taxpayers' dollars unwatched. It can act unilaterally.

If you trust Harper implicitly, this is not a problem. If you don't, it is.

• It means your taxes will be used to provide each of Canada's 308 MPs with a 12-week paid Christmas break. They'll earn $35, 867.62 during this hiatus. They could work in their constituencies, of course. But they could also do party business, look after their personal affairs or take it easy. You have no way of knowing.

If you consider this good value for your money, you're not affected. If you don't, you are.

• It means you and 34 million other Canadians are involuntarily relinquishing your say in the nation's affairs. It was already pretty tenuous. For the past 35 years, Liberal and Conservative prime ministers have weakened Parliament to strengthen their own grip on power. Harper has gone further than any of his predecessors, capitalizing on an ineffective opposition and a tuned-out populace.

If you think this slide toward one-man government is fine, a shuttered Parliament is no problem. If want to preserve the fragile safeguards that remain, it is.

The stakes go beyond the here-and-now, beyond Harper's political tactics, beyond the ill-tempered, unproductive wrangling in the House of Commons.

If Parliament loses its legitimacy, your children and their children will have no institution capable of reining in an autocratic leader or a government that is out of control.

If people with talent, fresh ideas and clear principles give up on Parliament, the best hope of fixing it will be lost.

It may not bother you if democracy is diminished.

It does trouble Canadians who believe the rights their forebears fought and died to protect are worth defending.