Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Oh, suddenly Rob Ford DOES have something to hide.

Ford asks court to halt audit of his campaign finances - thestar.com
Last week Ford told the Toronto Sun "There is nothing to hide so let them audit all they want".
This week, he asked his lawyer to ask the court to halt the audit of his campaign finances.

Ford’s lawyer Tom Barlow filed notice alleging the compliance audit
committee “erred in its interpretation and application of the
provisions” of the Municipal Elections Act and “in determining that the
application satisfied the threshold for granting a compliance audit.”

The committee’s three citizen appointees, all with expertise in election rules, voted unanimously to launch the audit based on a detailed request by Toronto residents Max Reed and Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler.

Reed and Chaleff-Freudenthaler
focused on questions about Ford’s family company, Doug Ford Holdings
Inc., paying more than $77,000 in early campaign expenses. The campaign
cut the company a cheque for the full amount one year after the current
mayor declared his candidacy.

If that was a loan, Ford may have
broken a provincial law stating candidates can borrow from banks and
other recognized lending institutions, they said. If the no-interest
terms constitute a donation, Ford broke a city ban on corporate

Barlow argued at the meeting the
holding company was merely one of the campaign’s many “suppliers” of
goods and services, including the salary of the campaign’s policy

But committee member John Hollins, a
former chief executive of Elections Ontario, said that, without interest
or a markup, payment coming that long after the initial outlay “looks
like it’s just a throughput of cash.”

He also agreed there were questions
about whether some events listed by Ford’s campaign as fundraisers, and
therefore exempt from a legislated $1.3 million spending cap, had
fundraising as their primary purpose.

In his four-page appeal notice to the
Ontario Court of Justice, Barlow repeats an argument the committee
rejected — that Ford’s extension from the city until June 30 to file
campaign documents makes an audit order now premature.

Chaleff-Freudenthaler, a Toronto
Public Library board member who has challenged Ford’s spending cuts,
said an appeal on the last day possible shows the mayor “fears greatly
what’s going to come out in an audit.

“He’s pulling out all the stops, after saying the contrary.”

If the court allows the audit to
proceed, and the findings lead to a successful prosecution, possible
penalties for breaching the Municipal Elections Act range from a fine to
removal from office.

The committee declared at the May 13 hearing that a similar request from another resident, Ted Ho, was moot because it raised the same issues.

Since then, another Toronto resident, David DePoe, has filed another request, which the compliance audit is scheduled to hear June 6.

And, you'll never guess what Ford's response was when asked about this:

Ford could not be reached for comment.

See also:
"This Stinks to High Heaven" - Ford's disrespect for taxpayers.

Torontoist: Citizens call for an audit of Ford's campaign finances

Monday, 30 May 2011

NDP support continues to grow after the election

Lack of buyer’s remorse over Tories and NDP bodes ill for Liberals and Bloc - The Globe and Mail
Results from the latest Harris-Decima poll:

Conservatives: 38% (down 1.6%)
NDP: 33% (up 2.4%)
Liberals: 15% (down 3.9%)
Bloc (In Quebec): 22% (down 1.4%)

Quebec: NDP at a new high of 49%
Ontario: NDP 32% (Conservatives 39%, Liberals 19% (Libs down 6% here))

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Rob Ford's lies and bad math catching up to him

Road toll ‘reality check’ stirs up Toronto council - thestar.com
Rob Ford reduced the city income, cancelled a cross-city fully-funded transit plan and then expected to pay for his subway dream with what? In his campaign promises his math was obviously lacking. So was the math of the denizens of the suburbs. Now, when Rob promised no new taxes, tolls or congestion charges, we are to see new taxes, tolls and congestion charges. People with any math skills knew that his plan would cost the citizens of Toronto a lot more money. Unfortunately, we are saddled with this dolt who is royally screwing the finances of the city. Welcome to Ford Nation.

Can I have my old Toronto back please. Oh, sorry, we have to wait until next election before we can get rid of this idiot and his drooling followers who vote to support his destruction. Maybe you people who voted for Rob and are now seeing what a mess he is making could start putting pressure on your councillors, and call Rob (you know, he is supposed to be good at returning his calls - but not to the Toronto Star or any citizens with a beef with his policies), and let him know that his plans stink and to please stop destroying Toronto.

Read the link. Shake head. Make the call.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

US Congress to Palestinians - You do not exist

Congress to Palestinians: Drop dead - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
by MJ Rosenberg, Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at Media Matters Action Network.

If anyone had any doubt about whether the Palestinians would declare a state in September, they can't have them now.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu delivered a speech to
Congress that essentially was a series of insults to Palestinians and
every insult was met by applause and standing ovations.

In fact, Netanyahu's appearance itself was an insult.

In the entire history of the United States, only four foreign leaders have addressed joint sessions of Congress more than once.

Minister Winston Churchill, America's great ally, addressed Congress
three times during World War II. President Nelson Mandela was honored
for destroying apartheid and freeing South Africa. Prime Minister
Yitzhak Rabin was recognised for opening negotiations with the
Palestinian people.

And now Netanyahu. For what?

In his
entire term in office he has done nothing but reject every request by
the United States that he take some action (like freezing settlements)
to promote Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. In the history of Israel,
there has been no prime minister as hardline on Palestinian rights and
as indifferent to the wishes of the United States as Netanyahu.

So why was he invited to address a rare joint session?

was invited because the new Republican leadership of the House of
Representatives wanted to demonstrate, loudly and clearly, that Congress
will not support President Barak Obama in the event that he tries to
achieve an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.

And that is exactly
what the Netanyahu appearance today did demonstrate. The prime minister
unambiguously stated that he had no intention of making peace with the

He began by saying that, in point of fact, there is
no occupation, stating, that "in Judea and Samaria [the term Israeli
right-wingers use for the West Bank], Israelis are not foreign
occupiers" but the native inhabitants. (He cited Abraham and Isaiah from
the Bible!)

He said he might consider giving up some of that
land but not an inch of Jerusalem. Additionally, he said that Israel
would retain most settlements and insist on a military presence in the
Jordan Valley (thereby ensuring the any State of Palestine would be
locked in on both sides by Israel).

He said that Israel would
never negotiate with a Palestinian government that included Hamas,
whether democratically elected or not. He declared that not a single
Palestinian would be allowed to return to Israel; not even a symbolic
return would be acceptable to him.

There is little reason to
elaborate. Netanyahu today essentially returned to the policies that
Israel pursued before Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat agreed on mutual
recognition and the joint pursuit of peace.

And the worst part
is not the appalling things Netanyahu said, but how Congress received
them. Even Netanyahu's declaration that there is no Israeli occupation
was met with thunderous applause with the Democrats joining the
Republicans in ecstatic support. Every Netanyahu statement, no matter
how extreme, was met with cheers.

Netanyahu was also applauded
wildly when he invoked Palestinian terrorism over and over again, even
seeming to lump his former "partner," President Mahmoud Abbas with
people who "educate their children to hate, [who] continue to name
public squares after terrorists. And worst of all continue to perpetuate
the fantasy that Israel will one day be flooded by the descendants of
Palestinian refugees."

His bottom line, which Congress fully
bought, was that all Palestinians are terrorists who haven't earned a
state. And probably never will.

Congress cheered and cheered and when Netanyahu was finished, they climbed over each other to touch the hem of his garment.

was as if Congress thought that no Palestinians or other Arabs (or
Muslims) would be watching. It was as if it believes that it can shout
its lungs out for Netanyahu (and thereby secure those campaign
contributions from AIPAC), without any consequences to US policy and
national interests in the Arab world.

But Congress is wrong. The
message it sent to the Middle East today, to the whole world, in fact,
was that Palestinians cannot count on the United States to ever play the
role of "honest broker" between Israel and the Palestinians.
Even if
President Obama was inclined to, Congress would stop him. And AIPAC,
using the leverage its campaign contributions gives it, would hold
Obama's feet to the fire too. As far as Congress is concerned,
Palestinians do not exist. They have no rights, to a state least of

And that is why Palestinians have no choice but to
unilaterally declare a state in the fall. They cannot count on America.
As David Ben Gurion understood when he went to the General Assembly to
achieve recognition of Israel, a small, powerless people must take its
destiny into its own hands.

The good news is that, although
Congress is in Netanyahu's pocket, the Obama administration isn't.
Netanyahu insulted the President at the White House last Thursday and
then again in the halls of Congress by eliciting support for policies
Obama rejects. And the administration is furious.

That means that
although Palestinians can and should ignore Congress, the White House
and State Department are still in play. Yes, they will both go along
with Netanyahu, but, probably, without much enthusiasm.

And they
can send a signal to our allies that although the United States cannot
openly oppose Bibi's policies because of Congress - and AIPAC's control
of it - the allies can. The Palestinians should not give up on Obama or
on Secretary of State Clinton either who cannot abide Netanyahu and made
sure she was out of the country to escape being present for his speech.

And so we can look forward to a unilateral declaration of
statehood in September. The Israelis who refuse to negotiate with
stateless Palestinians will have no choice but to negotiate
with the state whose land it is occupying. And those negotiations,
state to state, may produce peace and the "two states for two peoples"
that most Palestinians and Israelis aspire to. In any case, it's the
only hope.

Palestinians should thank Prime Minister Netanyahu
and, even more, the United states Congress for making their choice so
much easier. Together they helped create the Palestinian state today.
And that is a very good thing.

As for Americans, we should be deeply ashamed of our Congress. It has been sold to the highest bidder.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Ontario NDP on the rise as an election looms in Ontario

Ontario provincial NDP has momentum - The Globe and Mail
Nanos polling shows that since Feb. 2011, the NDP has risen 6 points from 13% to 19%.
During this same time period, the Conservatives have dropped 2 points to 41% and the Liberals have dropped 5 points to 34%.

In the last week before the federal election, the NDP support rose significantly in Ontario, passing the Liberals.

This rise in Ontario for the NDP could be attributed to the federal orange wave effect. The Ontario election is some months away. It will remain to be seen how things will play out. This is a good start for the NDP.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Netanyahu and the one-state solution

Netanyahu and the one-state solution - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

At this new intersection, there are two signs. The first points
towards the west and reads "viable and just two-state solution", while
the second one points eastward and reads "power sharing".

The first sign is informed by years of political negotiations (from
the Madrid conference in 1991, through Oslo, Camp David, Taba, and
Annapolis) alongside the publication of different initiatives (from the Geneva Initiative and the Saudi Plan
to the Nussaiba and Ayalon Plan), all of which have clarified what it
would take to reach a peace settlement based on the two-state solution.
It entails three central components:

1. Israel's full withdrawal to the 1967
border, with possible one-for-one land swaps so that ultimately the
total amount of land that was occupied will be returned.

2. Jerusalem's division according to the
1967 borders, with certain land swaps to guarantee that each side has
control over its own religious sites and large neighbourhoods. Both
these clauses entail the dismantlement of Israeli settlements and the
return of the Jewish settlers to Israel.

3. The acknowledgement of the right of
return of all Palestinians, but with the following stipulation: while
all Palestinians will be able to return to the fledgling Palestinian
state, only a limited number agreed upon by the two sides will be
allowed to return to Israel; those who cannot exercise this right or,
alternatively, choose not to, will receive full compensation.

Israel's continued unwillingness to fully support these three
components is rapidly leading to the annulment of the two-state option
and, as a result, is leaving open only one possible future direction:
power sharing.

The notion of power sharing would entail the preservation of the
existing borders, from the Jordan valley to the Mediterranean Sea, and
an agreed upon form of a power sharing government led by Israeli Jews
and Palestinians, and based on the liberal democracy model of the
separation of powers. It also entails a parity of esteem - namely, the
idea that each side respects the other side's identity and ethos,
including language, culture and religion. This, to put it simply, is the
bi-national one-state solution.

Many Palestinians have come to realise that even though they are
currently under occupation, Israel's rejectionist stance will
unwittingly lead to the bi-national solution. And while Netanyahu is
still miles behind the current juncture, it is high time for a Jewish
Israeli and Jewish American Awakening, one that will force their
respective leaders to support a viable democratic future for the Jews
and Palestinians living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean
Sea. One that will bring an end to the violent conflict.

When Pro-Life is not Pro Life

The right's mirror-image view of life - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
This article applies to the Conservatives in Canada too:


Yesterday, I pulled up to a drive-through ATM, and sitting in front
of me in the line was a car with a license plate that simply stated,
"Choose Life". 

Who can argue with that? I support life, don't you?

The problem, of course, is the relationship between that phrase and
the US right wing. You know, the ones who are petrified of everything
from black presidents to black helicopters to Black Sabbath. 

Yes, they piously claim to be "pro-life", but it is a simple
platitude, for - to paraphrase Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride - I
do not think that word means what they think it means. 

To those not steeped in US politics, being pro-life might seem like
it means what one would expect - to oppose policies and endeavours that
duly result in a loss of human life. But, in the US political arena, it
means something quite different. Generally, it is a way of telling
everyone that it's your business to give a woman her marching orders -
that she must eventually carry a three-day-old embryo to term, even if
it's the result of rape or incest. 

Or its corollary, that you're some kind of Nietzschean Superman for
ensuring that 91-year-old patients in terrible pain due to pancreatic
cancer must stick a tube in any empty orifice to force themselves to
stay alive and suffer, even against their own wishes.

The sad reality is that, to be pro-life in the US today, which is to
be conservative in almost all cases, is to love thy enemy by supporting
illegal wars - or just plain stupid ones - that kill hundreds of
thousands of innocents, cutting health-care benefits and nutrition
programs for children and the poor, and turning the other cheek … of the
person you're torturing.

Click the top link to read the whole article.

Why the Canadian Wheat Board should matter to all of us

Prairie strong no longer? Harper's renewed attack on the Canadian Wheat Board | rabble.ca

The Canadian Wheat Board represents some 75,000 grain growers, and
handles all Western wheat and barley destined for export and human use.
The CWB is 100% self-supporting, and, with $5 billion in annual sales,
is a real power in the international marketplace. Backed by the Canadian
Grain Commission's excellent quality assurance, the Board uses its
exclusive "single-desk selling" power -- its much-maligned "monopoly" --
to get the best possible prices, transportation rates, and quality
premiums for its producers. The CWB is worth $700-$800 million annually
to farmers, averaging almost $10,000 per farm.

And it's not just farmers who benefit. A 2005 Price Waterhouse
Coopers study credited the Board with a "huge" economic impact totaling
$1.6 billion annually, including some 14,000 non-farm jobs. The CWB
moves 20 to 30 million tonnes of grain a year over Canadian rail lines
and through Canadian ports in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and
Quebec, making it one of Canada's biggest rail shippers and one of our
strongest East-West links. The Board has also been a crucial player in
protecting grain customers -- including Canadian consumers -- from the
risks of GM (genetically modified) wheat.

Read the link for the whole story.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Actually Stephen, the taxpayers dollars go to the parties they support.

Budget will mean curtains for party funds: minister | iPolitics
Stephen Harper is lying to the public, again. He is trying to make you think that you are funding parties you don't support. Well, you don't.
Currently, political parties receive $2 annually per vote they received in the last election. So, this money is divided DIRECTLY PROPORTIONATELY to the voter/taxpayer support the party received. Your money goes to the party you voted for. Simple and direct.

If you didn't vote, sucks to be you for helping to elect the thug party which now rules. You could have helped to change things, but now you don't matter (until next election - that is, if you actually vote next election).

The Conservative Party wants to remove (and they will now) this direct proportional representation of the voter/taxpayer and replace it with a system that will make it easier for large wealthy groups to BUY the election - in other words, to regress to a less fair and definitely not a representative system - to make it so only the party able to accumulate the most wealth will win - like in the USA. We will get a less fair, less representative and more corrupt system.

Shouldn't elections be about what YOU, the voter/the taxpayer, want and not what large corporations want?

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Lax labour laws in the US turning it into a sweatshop for European manufacturers

Olive: America, the world’s sweatshop - thestar.com
And similar anti-worker/anti-union movements (promoted by corporations and conservative governments) are happening here too in Canada.


Sweden’s Ikea was revealed in April to be operating a manufacturing
plant in Danville, Va., that is a toxic brew of charges of racial
discrimination, routine worker maltreatment, and brutally successful
efforts to bust union-organizing drives.

Sodexo, which operates the cafeteria
at this newspaper and my Mom’s nursing home, has threatened and fired
workers who tried to unionize, as HRW found from studying official
decisions by U.S. labour-law authorities, along with worker interviews
and employee court testimony.

At its newish California chain of
grocery outlets, U.K. supermarket giant Tesco has muzzled workers trying
to discuss organizing a union. The Netherlands-based Gamma Holding has
hired permanent replacement workers to put strikers out of a job — in
contravention of international labour standards, but not of U.S. law.

And Deutsche Bank turns out to be one
of LosAngeles’s biggest slumlords. After foreclosing on some 2,000 L.A.
homes, Deutsche Bank continued collecting rent while allowing the
premises to rot and become gang-infested to such an extent that dead
bodies are not infrequently found there. “Nothing, in other words, that
would be allowed to happen . . . in Frankfurt, the neat-as-a-pin German
city that is home to Deutsche Bank,” Meyerson writes.

The hypocrisy here stinks to the
heavens. In Europe, minimum wages average $19 an hour. Governments
mandate five-week paid vacations. Norway just introduced paid
paternity leave.
And most European multinationals not only are unionized, but union reps
fall just short of a majority on many European corporate boards.

Many top European firms have joined “the race to the bottom” in employee costs.

But China is no longer the
“off-shoring” jurisdiction of choice. With annual wage gains now
averaging 15 per cent to 20 per cent, combined with stagnant wages in
North America, China will lose its labour-cost advantage over North
America in just four years time, according to a report this month by the
Boston Consulting Group.

From Hamburg to Lyon to Stockholm,
the question is why aren’t we serving the North American market from
lower-cost facilities there? Which means that “guilt-free shopping” will
soon mean avoiding “Made in USA” labels on products made by workers
denied a decent living wage.

The Euro-exploiters are especially
drawn to the U.S. South, which for three decades have lured employers
with so-called “right to work” laws. That’s an Orwellian term for
government-sanctioned hostility to workers’ rights, including the right
to organize.

In small-town Virginia, Ikea gets
away with paying workers to make the components of its trademark
bookcases just $8 an hour, and granting only 12 paid vacation days.

In North American culture, jobs are
dispensable. In Peoria, Ill., Caterpillar laid off 25,000 workers on one
day in 2009. Try that in France or Italy and you’re inviting a national
general strike.

U.S. officialdom has for years
hectored other nations to upgrade their labour-rights standards. But as
the HRW report shows, the issue is retrograde
U.S. labour standards.

The irony here is that employee
denigration does not work. German manufacturing pay averages 50 per cent
higher than that of the U.S. Yet Germany enjoys a massive trade
surplus. And America suffers a ruinous trade deficit, for all its
disdain of European-style full-employment practices.

My local Staples manager complains he
can’t keep employees “because we don’t pay much. I can’t blame them for
leaving.” High turnover hikes training costs and annoys customers
dealing with staff who lack product knowledge.

This a social-justice issue, no
mistake. But really it’s the hard-headed business strategy of a Henry
Ford, who paid above-average wages to spur consumption.

It’s the reason today that Costco,
with its outsized employee benefits, outperforms Wal-Mart. (Costco
shares have increased 133 per cent over the past decade, to Wal-Mart’s
measly gain of just 6 per cent.)

And it’s among the reasons that
Eaton’s is dead. In the midst of the 1985 strike at that Canadian
retailer, I asked then-CEO Fredrik Eaton why his family chose to break a
nascent union, rather than deal respectfully with employees on the
picket lines who had me almost in tears describing their loyalty to the
then 116-year-old firm.

“People here have no need of unions,”
said the fourth-generation Eaton owner-CEO, who declined to elaborate.
Fourteen years later Eaton’s filed for bankruptcy.

I’m not saying maltreated employees
were the chief factor in the demise of Eaton’s. But the casual regard
for employee relations at Eaton’s was indicative of management’s
ineptitude generally.

When you’re next at Ikea, ask the
workers serving you — a surly lot, I’ve always found — what the pay is
like before imagining that you are engaged in “guilt-free shopping.”

Friday, 20 May 2011

Conservatives, I mean "Looters in Suits", continue with their plan - theft on a national scale

Montreal Simon: Tony Clement and the Chainsaw Massacre
And that's the Con plan. Right out of the Republican manual. First you waste billions on gazebos, prisons and fancy jet planes. Then you cut the GST and corporate taxes and starve the government of money.

Then when the deficit balloons, you say we can't afford government, and chainsaw it to the bloody bone. Which is what the Cons wanted to do in the first place. So they can turn this country into a jungle, and turn us all into slaves of Big Business.

See also
Harper's Plan
This was written in Jan 2010, but it shows how the looters in suits were working their plan all along. The fact that they had a minority government slowed them down a bit, but now that they have a majority, they plan to decimate the social programs (including healthcare) that make Canada, well, Canada.

Remember, the Cons are not here to govern. They have proven they are incompetent at that and they don't care about that. They are here to loot the country, to take our/your money and give it to themselves and their rich and powerful friends - theft on a national scale. Anyone who thinks they are here to govern is gravely mistaken.

Peace, order and good government, eh? - The real danger of Conservative government

But beyond all that, the bottom line for me
is that these Conservatives are basically bad at governing. They have
no interest in or respect for governance as a concept.

It's partly that they don't

think government should be doing most things it does in the first place.
And it's partly that even to the extent they acknowledge government
might have a role, that's not what they're there for--the basic purpose
of modern Conservatives is to defeat enemies and amass power and wealth
for themselves and the class they identify with. Presented with a lever
of power, that's what their instincts say it's there for. So they just
basically have no patience for careful policy-making or administration
with an eye to the public good.

And, Pogge's comment below that says it all so succinctly:

they react according to their instincts and ideas about what it is to be in government

"To wit, they're not public servants; they're looters in suits and ties."

Thursday, 19 May 2011

O Canada. Performed by Williams Shatner

William Shatner Sings O Canada by Jacob Medjuck - NFB
Shatner updates the lyrics a bit.
Watch the video.

The lyrics as interpreted from his song and suggestions:

O Canada
Our home on native land
True patriot love - of same-sex partnership
In all our sons command - and our daughters
With glowing hearts - like ET
We see thee rise
The True North Strong and Free - Free healthcare
From Far and Wide
O Canada
We stand on guard for thee
God keep our land - all gods, or, no god
Fabulous and free - free of smog
O Canada
We stand on guard for thee
O Canada
We stand on guard - guard yourself from frostbite - for thee

"This Stinks To High Heaven" - Ford's disrespect for taxpayers

The Grid TO | Thirteen questions about Rob Ford’s questionable accounting
By Edward Keenan
The problem is that candidates are forbidden from taking loans from
anyone except banks and other recognized lending institutions. Even
candidates themselves aren’t allowed to loan their campaigns money.
[Ford's family business loaned Rob Ford's campaign about $77,000]
Now, the Municipal Elections Act specifically says that “events or
activities that are organized for such purposes as promoting public
awareness of a candidate and at which the soliciting of contributions is
incidental” do not qualify as fundraisers.

[Rob Ford had a launch party, primarily aimed at raising awareness (not fund raising), and claimed it as a fundraiser.]
The rules prohibit “incurring expenses” before you’re registered.
[Rob Ford had campaign signs and materials printed before he registered as a candidate.]

It’s possible, of course, that Ford’s campaign wasn’t intentionally
trying to get around the rules. Even though accountant Douglas
Colbourne, who chairs the Compliance Audit Committee, says he’s “never
seen a vehicle such as this used” when looking at the relationship
between the Ford family business and the Ford campaign, it’s possible
this isn’t a calculated attempt to circumvent the intention of the
law—it could be incompetence or misunderstanding. But which is the more
disturbing proposition for those who voted for Ford based on his
no-bullshit reputation and his promise to clean up the city’s finances:
Did he craftily try to get around the rules that ensure fair elections,
or did his financial advisers not understand those rules? And how does
either of those conclusions square with the concept of “respect for

Of course, none of the allegations have been proven. The auditor’s
investigation will shed light on what happened, and it’s entirely
possible there’s an innocent explanation. But we should all start asking
a few more questions.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Did the Israeli army have the right to shoot?

Did the Israeli army have the right to shoot? - Features - Al Jazeera English
On Sunday, Israel's disputed northern frontier saw the first deadly clashes between civilians and the Israeli army since 1974.
of protesters from Syria and Lebanon marched south toward the two
countries' disputed borders with Israel to mark the "Nakba" - or
"catastrophe" - on the date Palestinians mourn their uprooting as a
result of Israel's founding in 1948.
What began as a mass march
by unarmed Palestinian refugees and activists soon turned bloody, with,
reportedly, 14 killed and hundreds wounded.
There has been much
controversy over the justifiability of the Israeli military's use of
force in the event of border transgressions.
But experts say
there is a fundamental difference between Israel's use of force in
disputed border regions on the one hand, and military action in the
occupied Palestinian territories on the other.
The distinction
lies in whether a boundary constitutes an agreed or internationally
recognised border between two countries - or whether it is a de facto
border through disputed territory occupied by one of the two states
separated by that border.
In light of the first violence in 36
years on territories under dispute by three countries, which involved
two state armies and large mobs of civilians, legal experts ask if the
IDF had the right to shoot civilian protesters from Lebanon and Syria.

Click the link to read the rest of the article.

Coward Thug Harper Appoints More Failures To The Senate

PM rewards three defeated Conservatives with Senate seats - The Globe and Mail
How to become a senator under Harper? Show that the people don't want you to represent them. Another way Harper shows his contempt for the Canadian people.

Stephen Harper wasted no time in bringing back three defeated
, appointing former Quebec cabinet minister Josée Verner to
the Senate
and reappointing Larry Smith and Fabian Manning.

after he finished answering questions from reporters about his cabinet
shuffle, the Prime Minister’s Office sent out a release announcing the
three appointments. So Mr. Harper did not have to address the issue in

Buckdog: NO Possibility Of Democratic Reform Under Harper Regime

Canada's new senators

"Mr. Harper talks about Senate reform but he's doing things in the
same old way, in fact even worse. He's taking people who have been
defeated, who have been rejected by voters. You should earn your place
in the Senate and if you can't get elected, you shouldn't be appointed
to the Senate two weeks later."

Jack Layton

Leader of the Official Opposition

Ford and fawning lackies vote to push Toronto into more debt

Toronto votes to contract out garbage pickup - thestar.com

Gloat gloat, oink oink.

Studies show that although privatizing garbage pick-up may initially save money, it will cost much more in the long run.
Councillors were not shown any solid numbers to convince them to support privatizing, but the majority voted to do so. Are the councillors just imbeciles, or are they being bribed (or threatened)?

But, all may not be lost:

Councillor Ana Bailão’s successful motion requiring the city manager
to conduct an “independent review” of private bids — to verify they
would be cheaper than city collection —means the vote is “not a defeat
at all,” Ferguson insisted.

“I believe that once real and true
and verifiable numbers are brought back to this council, that the facts
will win the day and fury will take a back seat.”

Council also defied Ford 23-21 in favour of Councillor Josh Matlow’s
motion to ban Progressive Waste Solutions from bidding on the contract.
The company recently hired Geoff Rathbone, the city waste manager who
recommended privatization.

And, facing a revolt by council
centrists, the mayor announced Tuesday morning he was dropping a staff
recommendation that, after council approved the tender process, a staff
committee — rather than council — be allowed to award the actual

Councillor Sarah Doucette, who voted
against the measure, expressed dismay that private companies sometimes
provide no pensions and few sick days. Doucette said she needed more
information from the city before she could be convinced that outsourcing
was a prudent fiscal decision.

“I don’t know if it’s going to save us anything, because I haven’t seen the correct numbers,” Doucette said.

Those who voted for fiscal prudence and quality work and against increasing long-term costs for Toronto:
Anthony Perruzza, Maria Augimeri, Sarah Doucette, Gord Perks, Mike Layton, Adam Vaughan, Joe Mihevc, Kristyn Wong-Tam,
Pam McConnell, Mary Fragedakis, Paula Fletcher, Janet Davis, Glenn De Baeremaeker

Those who voted to waste more money on the whim of their exalted leader: everyone else on the council.

See Also:

The Grid: Rob Ford Gets Trashed - by Edward Keenan


By day’s end, the mayor’s main item passed, yes, by a large majority. But the effect of the amendments, in my opinion, is that it will make it very difficult for staff to craft a bid request conforming to council’s demands that will also stand up to a lawsuit. (And note: if the city is tied up in litigation with potential or wannabe bidders, they will likely be unable to award a contract—though, of course I’m not a lawyer…)

They also place some unattractive restrictions on the contract for potential contractors, and ensure that the whole thing has to come back to council for another fight later (if and when a winning bid is identified), and the bid has to bring with it actual numbers that show that the contract will save as much money and be as environmentally sound as Ford and staff have claimed it will be. The result of that possible vote is very much an open question.

The mayor and his team were very quick to declare victory, trying to spin a horrible day for them as a win. And to some of the municipal garbage collectors who filled the gallery in fear of their jobs, it probably looked like Ford beat them—after all, their jobs are not safe, and the city is seeking bidders to take them.

But given that less than 12 hours earlier, the Ford Juggernaut was poised to settle the issue for good by signing the matter over to staff, and now this fight lives on, in more complicated ways, for weeks and months—possibly many months—to come. Well, that’s as close to a loss as Ford has yet suffered. And it ain’t over yet.

1,616 Days: Dividing Canadians

1,616 Days: Dividing Canadians « Framed In Canada
by Trish Hennessy
(part two of a series)


Stephen Harper played the fear card and won, while the NDP made history by becoming the official opposition.

Some pundits suggest this means Canada has become an ideologically
polarized nation, but I say that’s premature. While we may be on the way
to becoming ideologically divided – pushed in that direction by a hyper
partisan, heavily ideological majority federal government — the 2011
electoral results suggest something more primal is at play.

As I stated in yesterday’s blog, the politics of fear can be
exploitative, distracting, and divisive. Here’s how it affected the
anti-Conservative choice in the 2011 federal election.

Let’s start with Harper’s preferred method of dirty pool: negative
advertising. Politicos take it on faith that negative advertising works
in election campaigns – that they’ve become a necessary evil.

It’s true that Canadians were exposed to some of the worst
American-style negative ad campaigns in our federal history. Towards the
end of the campaign, there were more than a dozen ads on the
Conservative Party website attacking either the coalition or Michael
Ignatieff. Those ads were repeated so many times, it would be hard to
find a Canadian who couldn’t recite the words “he didn’t come back for

Pundits are right to point to the
effectiveness of these ads in framing Ignatieff. In the post-election
hand wringing, some blame the Liberals for waiting too long to let
Ignatieff define himself to voters. Those who insist that negative
advertising works will point to the Ignatieff smear ads as an example
that they work. They will overlook the ineffectiveness of the Liberals’
attack ads on Stephen Harper, criticizing him for ‘contempt of
Canadians’ and more. They will overlook the role attack ads play in
sustaining the politics of fear. They will not necessarily tell you how
they work.

Negative advertising ‘works’ under certain conditions. Even if it’s
inflammatory, negative advertising has to have a ring of truth. It helps
if the attack ad speaks directly to a targeted, niche market of voters
that you know you can mobilize. The ads have to be seen repeatedly for
them to stick in the voter’s mind. And the party initiating the attack
has to have an answer for those who flee the person subject to attack.

Harper’s answer to the Ignatieff attack: trust me to manage the
economy. Polling indicates Harper was playing from his strengths and
speaking to Canadians’ undercurrent of worry about our economic future.

For those who didn’t trust Harper – those who fear what he might do with a majority government — they had four possible options.

As a counterpoint to the politics of fear, the Liberal Party appears
to have coasted on the fumes of “the Natural Governing Party” one
election too many. The Bloc campaign had a sluggish feel to it. Harper’s
politics of fear took advantage of these two parties in their hour of
disarray, reducing the choices for Canadians who truly feared a Harper

As for the discouraged voter — those who have given up
waiting for a leader to appeal to them and decided not to vote — they
might represent a quiet casualty of the politics of fear. Some Canadians
who decided not to vote in this election may have simply gotten turned
off of the toxic nature of the campaign. Some may have struggled to make
a decision that felt right.

Fear can be paralyzing, but fear is usually looking for someplace to
go, and sometimes the antidote to fear is hope. It certainly helped some
Canadians view Jack Layton differently in this election. Jack, with his
warm smile. Jack, with his Canadien hockey shirt, hoisting a beer.
Jack, risen from his sick bed to do what we all hope in the face of
health adversity: fight the beast down with grace, with pride, with the
fortitude it took to become an electoral David to Harper’s Goliath. In
Quebec, le bon Jack.

Jack Layton had captured, if for a brief moment in time, the
aspiration that resides alongside the slow simmering worry in Canada:
the hope that we can overcome adversity and thrive. That cane he hoisted
above his head at rallies became a symbol of strength; of defiance
against long odds.

And, for a few days, Canadians sat on the edge of their seat
wondering whether a phenomenon no pundit or pollster had predicted, this
NDP tide of support dubbed ‘the orange wave’, would crescendo into an
‘orange crush’.

Two things happened in the final days of the election that possibly
stemmed the NDP tide, and both were products of the politics of fear.

Click the link above to read the whole article.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Toronto Star attempts a smear-job on Jack and Olivia

MPs lap up free trips courtesy of groups, foreign governments - thestar.com
Towards the end of the election campaign, the Toronto Star very grudgingly endorsed the NDP. Before that they usually directly or subtly attacked the NDP. Now, we see they are back to their old tricks. Being one of the big corporate mainstream media, it is in their best interest that only the corporate-backing parties (Conservatives and Liberals) should get their support. Any other party they see as a threat. So, day by day they do what they can to make those parties look like what they are not. Today the Star took an issue which is not an issue, something that is totally legal and above-board, and tried to make it look bad. And, even though their favourite parties are the ones who took the most sponsored trips, they put the spotlight on the the federal party that took, by far, the least sponsored trips (over a 5 year period, the Conservatives took 132 trips, the Liberals took 142 trips, while the NDP only took 36 trips).

And "free trips" is misleading too. The Star is trying to make it look like these politicians were bribed. But, if that was the case, this would have been an issue a long time ago. The key here is that the Star wants you to think of these as bribes, although these trips were/are not . These trips are legitimate and totally above board. Many of these MPs were sponsored to
travel to have meetings, give talks, or to investigate/learn.

Yes, the article talks about the other parties at fair length. But, many people don't read the whole article, but just look at the picture and read the first few lines. With the placement of the picture and the choice of wording, the picture and the first few lines intend to make people who glance at this article think "Jack, Olivia and unions are bad".

This is the kind of slimy biased reporting that the NDP has always been up against. And now that they are the official opposition with a record 103 seats, there will be much more slimy biased reporting from the mainstream media.

The National Post also got in on the smear-where-there-is-no-issue game.

The Politics of Fear: An election post-mortem

The politics of fear: An election post-mortem | rabble.ca
By Trish Hennessy


(Part one of a series)

This blog post attempts to explain the power behind the dominant frame at play in this election: our economy in peril.

The frame was set by Stephen Harper, who spent 37 days dismissing the
democratic need for an election and focused with laser precision on
this message: Trust him -- and only him -- to manage the economy.

A minority of voters, 39.6 per cent, rewarded Harper with a majority
government. Nine million voters opted for the NDP, Liberals, Bloc or
Greens. Six million Canadians chose to sit at home while one of the most
dramatic election nights in our history passed them by.

Those are the facts. My disappointment with the plethora of federal
election post-mortems stems from this: many pundits are simply reciting
the facts and borrowing them as conclusions.

click the link to read the full post

The rights of Israel

The rights of Israel - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

The Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, now entering their twentieth
year had been hailed from the start as historic, having inaugurated a
"peace process" that would resolve what is commonly referred to as the
"Palestinian-Israeli conflict". For the Palestinians and the
international community, represented by the United Nations and the
myriad resolutions its Security Council and General Assembly issued
since 1948, what was to be negotiated were the colonisation of land, the
occupation of territory and population, and the laws that stipulate
ethnic and religious discrimination in Israel, which, among other
things, bar Palestinian refugees from returning to their land and
confiscate their property. In their struggle against these Israeli
practises, Palestinian leaders, whether in Israel, the Occupied
Territories, or the diaspora, have always invoked these rights based on
international law and UN resolutions, which Israel has consistently
refused to implement or abide by since 1948. Thus for the Palestinians,
armed by the UN and international law, the negotiations were precisely
aimed to end colonisation, occupation, and discrimination.

On the other hand, one of the strongest and persistent arguments that
the Zionist movement and Israel have deployed since 1948 in defence of
the establishment of Israel and its subsequent policies is the
invocation of the rights of Israel, which are not based on international
law or UN resolutions. This is a crucial distinction to be made between
the Palestinian and Israeli claims to possession of "rights." While the
Palestinians invoke rights that are internationally recognised, Israel
invokes rights that are solely recognised at the national level by the
Israeli state itself. For Zionism, this was a novel mode of
argumentation as, in deploying it, Israel invokes not only juridical
principles but also moral ones.

click the link to continue reading the article.

Israeli soldiers open fire on Palestinian protesters marking Nakba Day

Palestinians killed in 'Nakba' clashes - Middle East - Al Jazeera English
Several people have been killed and scores others wounded in the Gaza
Strip, Golan Heights, Ras Maroun in Lebanon and the Israeli-occupied
West Bank, as Palestinians mark the "Nakba", or day of "catastrophe".

The Nakba is how Palestinians refer to the 1948 founding of the state
of Israel, when an estimated 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled
following Israel's declaration of statehood....

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Conservative Campaign Lies Begin To Unravel

A sign of things to come

The Conservatives campaigned on a pledge to show a surplus by 2014-2015. I don't believe they ever meant to keep this promise and here we are, less than 2 weeks since the election, and the Conservatives are already saying that won't be able to keep that promise. The way they plan to waste money on unnecessary things (jets with no engines, mega-jails, more corporate tax cuts), they will have to make severe cuts to transfer payments to the provinces and social support programs in order to balance the budget.

Back in March, the Globe and Mail was saying that they would have to make drastic cuts to balance the budget:
"Given Mr. Harper’s costly commitment to increasing Canada’s military might, putting more people behind bars for longer, and cutting taxes further, there are dramatic spending cuts on the horizon for many federal programs, particularly social programs – it’s the only way he’ll be able to pay for his priorities."

I predict the Conservatives will not only not keep their promise to balance the budget, but, while massively cutting programs, they will continue to increase the deficit and our debt with their gross mis-managment of government finanances.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Israel's new laws promote repression

Israel's new laws promote repression - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
There is a clear logic underlying this spate of new laws; namely, the Israeli government's decision to criminalise alternate political ideologies, such as the idea that Israel should be a democracy for all its citizens.

Hence, one witnesses an inverse trend - as the Arab citizens in the region struggle for more openness and indeed democracy, toppling dictators and pressuring governments to make significant liberal reforms, the Israeli book of laws is being rewritten so as to undercut democratic values.

Israelis celebrating the state's 63rd birthday should closely examine the pro-democracy movements in Tahrir, Deraa and across the Arab world. They might very well learn a thing or two.

More recent immigrants and youth voted NDP

Accidental Deliberations: The future coalition
In figuring out the likelihood that the NDP can keep up the momentum
that's propelled it to official opposition status, one of the major
questions figures to be whether votes last week will translate into
additional support in the future. And there's more great news on that
front: in addition to winning the support of 41% of recent immigrants, the NDP also nearly doubled its opponents
when it came to attracting the youth vote (after a period of years
where support had generally been split four ways among Canada's national

The Honeymoon Will Be Cancelled

The Election 2011: The Conservative honeymoon, if there is one, will be short | rabble.ca
Excerpts (Read the whole article at the link):

The results of the 2011 federal election have sparked a flurry of
responses, most of them marked by mixed emotion. Many of us on the left
are celebrating the dramatic surge of the NDP and its historic win of
102 seats. But the NDP's success has been tempered, even overshadowed,
by the election of a majority Conservative government.

So what does that mean for the left? Are we doomed for the next four years?

Far from it.

In fact, the prospects for the left are quite good, although not
without many dangers. But it all depends on what we do in the days and
weeks ahead. If the left can tap into the progressive sentiment that
propelled the NDP from fourth place to Official Opposition, it has the
potential to build deeper, stronger and more confident movements -- even
under a Harper majority.

But first: let's look at the Tories' victory

Conservative support increased by less than two per cent -- about
633,000 votes, most of which came from the Liberals. Over 60 per cent of
the popular vote was against the Tories. Voter turnout was only
slightly up at 61.4 per cent. This means that Harper won a majority with
just 24 per cent of the electorate -- hardly a shift to the right.

Harper's success comes at the expense of the Liberals, who have lost
roughly 850,000 votes in each of the last two elections. Their collapse
is part of a broader trend. In the last five elections, the total
combined vote for the Conservatives and the Liberals -- both corporate
parties -- has steadily declined: from 78 per cent in 2000 to 58.5 per
cent in 2011, a drop of almost 30 points.

These figures contradict the mainstream consensus that Canadians have
become "more conservative." The opposite is true: more people than ever
are rejecting the corporate parties.

That represents an opening for the left, not a setback -- despite the
outcome of the election. Without a doubt, the Conservatives will govern
as if they have a massive mandate, but their majority is not without
contradictions. The left can take advantage of these.

For example, the incoming government is not a new one: just a
slightly bigger version of the last one. That means it won't escape the
scandals of the previous Parliament, the way a freshly elected
government would. As more information becomes available, as it surely
will after the election, Harper will face criticism over the Auditor
General's report on G-20 spending, declassified documents on Afghan
detainees, funding cuts to Planned Parenthood and the Canadian Arab
Federation (CAF's case is still before the Federal Court) and
skyrocketing costs for new F-35 fighter jets -- to name just a few.

It's true that the Conservatives have so far managed to deflect much
of this criticism, but they no longer have the opposition parties and
the minority Parliament to blame. As a majority government, the Tories
should now prepare for the criticism to stick. The honeymoon, if there
is one, will be short.

The election of a Conservative majority government is nothing to
celebrate, but neither is it reason to despair. The Tory victory is
fraught with contradictions that actually represent opportunities for
the left to reach a much bigger audience, and to convince more people to
become involved in the social movements -- especially on the labour
front. The NDP's rise to Official Opposition status could dramatically
accelerate this process -- if the left seriously engages the NDP base
and connects to the surge that sent a record number of NDP MPs to

The next four years don't have to be miserable. In fact, they could
be quite exciting. But it depends on whether the left can move past the
immediate sense of demoralization (that many of us are feeling in the
wake of Harper's majority) and seize on the tremendous opportunities
that exist to engage the growing desire for change.

That desire needs expression both in Parliament and in the streets.
When it comes to stopping Harper, at least one campaign slogan still
rings true: "Together, we can do this."

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Who really benefited from vote splitting?

Who really benefited from vote splits this election? - The Globe and Mail
Here is the reality: The parties that benefited least from vote splits in this election were the Conservatives and the NDP. The party that benefited the most from vote splits was the Liberals.

Read the link for the full analysis.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Conservative government to make many blogs illegal

DAMMIT JANET!: Are the 'Speechies' Right, er, Correct?
Many bloggers use pseudonyms to blog about political issues.
The Conservatives want to will make this illegal.
Read the above link and the excerpt below:
Look very carefully at the wording of Clause 11 above. The key word is
“and” which follows the words in bold text (text not bold in original
document). It would be bad enough if the new law proposed making it an
additional offense to use a false name (an internet alias) “while”
“sending false information, indecent remarks or “harassing” messages”,
like using a firearm in the commission of a robbery, but this wording
makes “sending a message using a false name” a stand alone crime. Think
long and hard about the implications and dangers of this part of this
proposed bill.

Where are internet aliases most commonly used by
Canadians today? They are almost universally used in internet forums,
bloggers' comments sections, and comment sections of other websites.
This law will make using an alias a crime. It is not likely they will
try to prosecute everyone using an alias online but it will give the
government the means to identify and criminalize anyone who writes
anything the government disapproves of. Imagine an internet where
Canadians were forbidden by law to speak anonymously.

Currently in Canada, most of the mainstream media is supportive of the Conservative agenda (and has been for decades) and consistently misleads the public on any topics about the Conservative Agenda or anything about those who oppose this agenda. One of the main alternatives to the mainstream media are on-line alternative media and blogs. Blogs that investigate the truth and offer alternative views to the MSM are often written by people who use pseudonyms. The Conservative plan is to basically outlaw these bloggers, cutting to the heart of those who offer a differing voice on the news of the day.

Right-Wing Political Violence: More Terror, Less Coverage

Right-Wing Political Violence: More Terror, Less Coverage | Common Dreams
On the morning of January 17 in Spokane, Washington, city workers found a backpack with a bomb that was set to go off along the route of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade. An FBI official (Spokane Spokesman Review, 1/19/11) called the bomb “a viable device that was very lethal and had the potential to inflict multiple casualties.” Another official told the Associated Press (1/19/11), “They haven’t seen anything like this in this country.… This was the worst device, and most intentional device, I’ve ever seen.”

On March 9, Kevin Harpham, a white supremacist with past links to the neo-Nazi National Alliance, was arrested and charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and possessing an improvised explosive device. The device contained shrapnel dipped in rat poison, which can enhance bleeding (Hate Watch blog, 3/10/11), and was set on a park bench where its impact would be directed toward marchers.

The Spokane bomb plot received sparse coverage compared to that lavished on a far less dangerous plot attempted in Manhattan’s Times Square just a few months earlier. On May 1, 2010, a poorly made bomb incorporating Fourth of July firecrackers and nonexplosive fertilizer (Washington Post, 5/4/10) was allegedly set by Muslim-American Faisal Shahzad, who was reportedly outraged by civilian deaths from U.S. airstrikes (New York Times, 6/23/10). The device smoked, drawing the attention of a man who alerted police, but failed to go off.

However, network news shows considered the Times Square dud 14 times more newsworthy than the far more sophisticated Spokane bomb. According to the Nexis news media database, in the 10 weeks following the respective acts of terrorism, the Times Square story received 49 mentions on network evening news programs to the Spokane story’s three. (ABC World News didn’t mention the Spokane bomb a single time.)

Likewise, as Salon blogger Justin Elliott pointed out (2/19/11), the very real Spokane bomb plot received one-third the coverage given a November 2010 FBI sting operation in Portland, Oregon, that used a fake bomb, provided by an undercover agent, to ensnare a Somali-born Muslim teenager. On the scant coverage of the Spokane story, Elliot concluded, “The incident does not fit into the reigning narrative of Muslim terrorism.”

That narrative is fundamental to understanding the skewed coverage of domestic terrorism. For instance, on the eve of congressional hearings on domestic Muslim extremism, chaired by Rep. Peter King (R.-N.Y.), a Wall Street Journal editorial (3/11/11) attempted to justify the bigoted proceedings by misrepresenting a RAND Corporation study as finding that Muslims are responsible for virtually all U.S. domestic terrorism. What the 2010 RAND study actually found (FAIR Blog, 3/16/11) was that the vast majority of “homegrown” terrorist attackers—those of all ideologies who successfully carry out an attack—were not Muslims: Of the “83 terrorist attacks in the United States between 9/11 and the end of 2009, only three…were clearly connected with the jihadist cause.”

Running his own interference for King’s hearings, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly (O’Reilly Factor, 3/8/11) responded to domestic terrorism expert Mark Potok’s statement that “our biggest domestic terror threat…pretty clearly comes from the radical right in this country,” by exclaiming: “Are you kidding me? The radical right? The last terror act assigned to them was the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995.”

To make his claim, O’Reilly had to overlook many right-wing domestic terrorist attacks that have happened since Oklahoma City, including two that appear to have been partly inspired by his Fox News colleague Glenn Beck, and one in which O’Reilly himself has been accused of whipping up hatred.

In reality, there have been dozens of violent domestic attacks perpetrated by right-wing extremists in the U.S. in recent years. On the Crooks and Liars blog (1/21/11), right-watcher David Neiwert keeps a running list of domestic terror attacks by rightist and anti-government extremists. Since August 2008 alone, Niewert’s list includes two dozen such attacks.

Rob Ford - more for the I-Told-You-So department

Ford's costly police deal a 'rookie mistake,' critics say - thestar.com
Rob Ford has given the police a generous salary hike. By not negotiating a better deal for the city, Ford has set a very dangerous precedent for future negotiations with other groups, especially the newly-made-essential-service TTC workers.

People were warned that Rob Ford was not good with math, but, they didn't listen. We had a surplus with David Miller. With Rob Ford we already have a deficit and a growing debt thanks to Rob Ford's gravy train of bad economics.


“This is going to drive every single essential service contract in
the city. The city has said it can afford to pay 3 per cent a year. Not
only are the firefighters going to get it, but who else is going to now
that they’re an essential service? The TTC,” said left-wing councillor
Adam Vaughan.

“This will have a ripple through the largest employee groups in the city.”

The TTC contract expired in March within days of the province
declaring the system an essential service. Negotiations are underway,
but if an agreement can’t be reached, the system’s newfound essential
status means it would be sent to a provincial arbitrator.

That arbitrator now has an expensive precedent in the police contract to use as a comparable, said Vaughan.

The proposed police contract, which has not yet been ratified, would add more than $20 million annually to the bottom line.

If a similar award was given to the TTC’s 9,000 unionized employees, the annual financial impact would be around $25 million.

Rob Ford's Gravy Train addition: $50 million.

Canadian government becoming more corrupt

Canada slips in anti-corruption rankings - thestar.com

Canada has slipped from 11th to 19th of 100 countries assessed by the
world’s most comprehensive monitor of international government

Global Integrity, a Washington-based
research group, uses more than 300 indicators to measure accountability,
integrity and the democratic process.

Syria was at the bottom of the anti-corruption list with South Korea on top.

“There’s a continuing set of challenges that exist in the Canadian context around political financing, which are similar to the U.S. and Western Europe,” said Nathaniel Heller, the group’s managing director.

They include conflicts of interest and lack of safeguards over a number of government branches, he added. But “one surprising spot” was the “direct control the executive exerts over the courts through the appointment of senior judges, where there are very few of what we see as checks and balances.”

At least three Supreme Court judges will be retiring in the next four years, and new ones will be appointed by the Harper government.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper changed the appointment process in 2006 so nominees would face three hours of questions from an all-party committee of parliament. But the final decision remains with the prime minister.

Duff Conacher of Ottawa-based Democracy Watch, Global Integrity’s lead Canadian researcher, said that weak enforcement of the Federal Accountability Act was one of the main reasons for the drop in the rating this year.

Harper brought in the act in 2006 on a promise to create transparency in government.

With a strong majority now in parliament, he added, there is “little incentive” for the Tories to improve their record.

In its survey of 100 countries, the Global Integrity report took Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries to task for deepening corruption that may have fuelled the uprisings that flared across the region.

“What was striking, looking back over several years, was not only how bad things are now, but that they’ve actually been getting worse,” said Heller.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

NDP Mulcair statement about bin Laden photos taken out of context ...

NDP's Mulcair clarifies bin Laden comments - Montreal - CBC News

... and blown out of proportion by the media.

Mulcair said the context of the conversation had been lost, and that he
was referring to whether a photo of bin Laden reaching for his gun
exists or not.
"I clearly reference the pictures themselves and say that if the
Americans have them and they're holding them back, it's for reasons of
human decency. So that couldn't be clearer," Mulcair said on Thursday

Media bias and the steady drop in the TSX before and after the election

Random Ranting, Raving and Ratings: TSX tanks after Conservatives win a Majority
Worth re-posting:
I just thought it would be interesting to note that the Toronto Stock
Exchange has been down all week.  And continues to slide even after a
Conservative majority victory in the House of Commons.  I notice that no
one in the main stream media is blaming Prime Minister Harper for this
slide but I can't help but wonder if they would be blaming a Prime
Minister Jack Layton if the NDP had won the election.  The press
were correlating the drop in the TSX with the rise in popularity of the
NDP prior to election day.

It looks that Stephen Harper does not have a magic wand that protects us from the Global Economy after all.

I'm just saying...

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid - The Harper Majority Government and the Christian Right

The Harper Government and the Christian Right
Harper is part of the Christian Right, make no mistake. And, he has let them into his government and into the halls of Parliament.
This article outlines some of the aims of the Christian Right regarding the governance of Canada.

With a majority in Parliament, and in the Senate, and stacking the judicial system with hard right-wing judges, Harper has the opportunity to finally unleash his true agenda of tearing down what makes Canada the country we know and love. Progressive and fair laws, freedoms, programs and institutions are all at stake.

See also:
The Armageddon Factor Blog: The Rise of the Religious Right in Canadian Politics

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Congratulations to all the Toronto NDP MPs!

I would like to congratulate all the NDP MPs in Toronto, including 6 news ones!

Jack Layton - Toronto-Danforth
Olivia Chow - Trinity-Spadina
and the new MPs:
Matthew Kellway - Beaches-East York
Andrew Cash - Davenport
Peggy Nash - Parkdale-High Park (previously the MP 2006-2008)
Dan Harris - Scarborough Southwest
Rathika Sitsabaiesan - Scarborough-Rouge River
Mike Sullivan - York-South Weston

I look forward to this stronger voice for Toronto in Parliament.

And congratulations to all the 102 NDP across Canada who won in the election!

Rob Ford - possibly illegal campaign finances

Citizens Call For an Audit of Ford's Campaign Finances - Torontoist
Excerpt from the above article:

Rob Ford's campaign might have borrowed illegally from his family's company.

Chaleff-Freudenthaler and Reed, like Lorinc before them, have seized on a particular passage from the Municipal Elections Act
that appears to forbid candidates from borrowing money from anything
other than "a bank or other recognized lending institution in Ontario."

Rob Ford's campaign, the complaint alleges, might have violated that
rule by allowing Doug Ford Holdings Inc., a company whose directors
include Doug and Rob Ford, to make $77,722 in payments for various
campaign expenses.

Doug Ford Holdings Inc. later invoiced the campaign for the full amount. So, no problem, right?

Not quite. There's a chance that the whole deal is still suspect,
because we don't know how much time passed between when Doug Ford
Holdings invoiced the campaign and when the campaign paid. The argument
being advanced by Chaleff-Freudenthaler and Reed is essentially that the
interval of time, however long, between payment and invoice means the
money was a loan. Because if you were to get a bank to front you $77,772
for any amount of time, they wouldn't consider it to be anything else,

The bank would also charge you interest, and for this reason the
complaint also alleges that Ford's campaign accepted an illegal campaign
contribution. That's because Doug Ford Holdings presumably provided the
money interest-free.

Chaleff-Freudenthaler and Reed interpret invoices filed by the
campaign to mean that Ford's people later arranged a line of credit with
TD Bank after meeting with a lawyer, which they allege is evidence that
the campaign realized it was functioning in a legal grey area.

Rob Ford's campaign might have spent more than the legally permitted maximum for the campaign.

Filing election expenses is a little like filing income taxes, in
that there are certain things a candidate can write off. Rob Ford's
campaign comes in under City-mandated spending limits if all his
writeoffs were appropriate, but Chaleff-Freudenthaler and Reed say in
their complaint they weren't.

The campaign classified $102,713 worth of direct mail, telephone
canvassing, and fundraising commissions as writeoffs under a part of the
Municipal Elections Act that forgives candidates "the cost of holding
fund-raising functions." The complaint's argument is that none of those
three services constitute fundraising functions.

Rob Ford might have spent money before he was officially a candidate.

Chaleff-Freudenthaler and Reed found a $25,379 invoice to the
campaign for use of a meeting hall (presumably for the campaign launch
party) dated one day before Rob Ford registered as a candidate. Spending
the money before registering, they say, would have been against the

Toronto Star: More residents claim Ford went way over campaign spending limit

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Harper's Majority: What's Left for us

Harper's majority: What's Left for us | rabble.ca
What was shocking for people throughout the first three weeks of the campaign, before the strange, detached euphoria of the NDP surge, was that so many Canadians -- hovering near 40 per cent -- could support a government that was not only conservative in policy terms but virtually a rogue government in terms of its blatant and unapologetic trashing of democratic institutions and conventions. It did not seem to matter a whit that Harper harboured thugs in his inner circle, was found in contempt of Parliament, and lied without hesitation whenever it suited him.

Progressives need to come to grips with that fact that despite
consistent results from surveys suggesting two-thirds of people hold
socially progressive values, something profound is cancelling those
values out, neutralizing them. We live in society that is increasingly
conservative in its behaviour and actions. Forty-five per cent of people
in Ontario where a third of Canadians live, voted for Harper.

In the absence of community, in the absence of government that works
for people instead of against them, in the absence of strong, robust,
imaginative civil society organizations, people will turn to an
alternative that seems profoundly, frustratingly irrational on its face:
one that will dramatically roll back their quality of life. People will
find comfort and meaning somewhere, anywhere, if we don't provide it.

Progressive forces need to do a lot of soul-searching in the next
year. There are countless questions to be asked and answered -- or at
least addressed. My generation, more than any other, let this happen. As
much as we may lead the wailing and despairing over our country's
immediate fate, we never took the task of protecting it seriously. The
left-wing political class is middle class -- a way too comfortable, too
complacent and in my experience too lacking in a sense of urgency. It is
as if we think we can stop these powerful, frightening forces by
working at it part-time; by doing what we always do; and not giving up
any of the perks of our individual success.

If this election result does not shake people out of this
self-satisfied stupor then we are really in trouble. Why is it that the
Christian right gives till it hurts to destroy democracy while we think
we can defend it with a few pennies donated to good causes? Maybe what
we need is a Five Per Cent Club -- people serious about social change
willing to publicly commit to giving five per cent of their pre-tax
income to fight what is coming down the road.

We will need it. This will be a very long-term fight, a generational
fight, rooted in a serious and thoughtful collective examination of
where we have been, what we did wrong and what we need to do right. It
will be very, very hard as we will be trying to build a vision of a
better future, one that can truly inspire and engage people, while
conditions are getting dramatically worse and many people suffer the
consequences of this election. But there is no other way. Rebuilding a
progressive will be challenging, exciting and invigorating -- in other
words, something completely different.

Canada's Cold New Dawn

Canada's cold new dawn | Heather Mallick | Comment is free | The Guardian
Read the full article at the link

Harper's Conservatives will pass an omnibus law and order bill within
100 days to make jail sentences mandatory for many offences, and begin
building super-jails, copying a system that even its authors, the
Americans, have begun to abandon. The huge purchase of fighter jets from
Lockheed Martin, which was an election issue, will now go ahead –
Harper says it will cost $9bn, government auditors say $39bn – as will
massive military shipbuilding.

The Evangelist Christian right is
at the heart of Harper's Conservative party, and after years of being
shushed, it will now demand an end to a number of things, including
abortion rights. Canada has no law against abortions, and they are
available free.

Corporate taxes will be cut almost immediately,
Bush-style. Political financing laws will change – parties now get money
for each vote – but this will end under the Conservatives, who will
have a huge advantage in terms of the amount they can solicit in
corporate donations.

Liberal Party - NOW will you support proportional representation?

Pollsters and others seemed to predict the results for the NDP, Bloc and Green parties fairly closely. But, no one predicted the fall of the Liberals as far as they went (and thus the rise of the Conservatives into majority status).

The Liberals lost a lot of seats in the 2011 election. But, they still received a fair amount of the popular vote.
They won 34 seats.
With proportional representation, they would have won closer to 59 seats.

Compare seats won vs proportional number of seats (according to the proportion of the populer vote they received):
(numbers have been slightly adjusted to round and to total 308)

Conservatives 166 - 124
NDP 102 - 95
Liberals 34 - 59
Bloc 4 - 18
Green 1 - 12

Not only would the opposition parties have more seats (except for the 2nd party), but their 60% of the votes would be fairly represented in the number of seats in Parliament.

What Happened To Canada?

How did the Conservatives end up with a majority when many experts were predicting, at most, a Conservative minority?

I think it boils down to an unexpected loss of 16 Liberal GTA seats to the Conservatives.

The NDP, Bloc and Green parties all ended up with seats in the range (or very close to the range) I was predicting. But, the Conservatives ended up with many more seats and the Liberals with way less seats than I and many were predicting.

Perhaps voters liked the Liberals less than they were letting on in the polls.
Now, did the Conservatives pick up these extra seats because of a split the vote in those ridings, or, did the Conservatives really get a lot more votes?

In all areas of the country, there was a bit of variation compared to the campaign polling results. But in Ontario, particularly in the GTA, mainly in suburbian Toronto, there were 16 seats that switched from Liberal to Conservative. Many of these seats were not seen as close races from polling data. Some were, yes, but many were not. After checking out the numbers and comparing the vote percentages between last election and this election in a number of these ridings, I found a common pattern. In most cases, a large percentage moved from the Liberals to the NDP. Now, all of these ridings were usually a contest between the Liberals and Conservatives, with the NDP in a distant third. In most of these ridings, there was a big vote swing from Liberal to NDP, also accompanied by a slight rise in the Conservative vote. Many of these ridings weren't especially targeted for strategic voting. There wasn't a big swell of Conservative support in Toronto, but the non-conservative support just spread out enough for the Conservative to win.

Maybe people thought that there would be enough of them throwing their support behind the NDP to get them elected in these ridings. I put it down to a combination of people not being happy with the Liberals performance as of late, dislike of their leader, and people liking what the NDP had to offer more, and a more likeable leader in Jack Layton.

This swing of votes DID end up working in these voters favour in 3 Toronto ridings that the NDP picked up much to my surprise: Scarborough-Rouge River, Scarborough Southwest and York-South Weston.

So, now we have a Conservative Majority.

See also:
iPolitics.ca: Is it time for pollsters to question themselves?

Pundits' Guide - "Splits" Decisions: A closer look at vote shifts in Greater Toronto
Pundit's Guide attributes the switch from Liberal to Conservative in Toronto ridings to people switching voting from Liberal to Conservative, and that the NDP rise in those areas came mainly from a combination of Green and new voters. Looking at the raw voting numbers, I can see that some of the changes can be attributed to this, but not all. There is too much of a big drop in Liberal numbers mirrored by a big rise in the NDP numbers in some ridings. But, taking into consideration that the Conservatives were 2nd in these ridings last election, having Liberals switch to voting Conservative, just by a few percentages, would be enough to let the Conservatives win in these ridings.

Let me be the first to predict - the next election will bring in an NDP government

Ok. Now we have a Conservative majority government with an NDP - strong - opposition. I predict that the Conservatives will f*ck this country up so badly that the NDP will win the next election and form the next government after this. It's a no-brainer.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Elephant In The Room - The Conservative Supporters

The media - the mainstream media and the Canadian blogosphere - have dissected the NDP and Liberal voters. But, almost no-one has looked at what makes the Conservative supporters continue to support the Conservative party.

The only story I've seen so far is this one from the Toronto Star about Crowfoot, Alberta. Even though this community would be much better served by the policies of the NDP, they will still vote Conservative because, for generations, they always have. The question remains, why won't they change and vote for a party that will better serve them in government? Don't they know they CAN vote for another party; that they CAN vote for better government?

What makes people so dense to the facts staring them in the face? What makes people continue to vote for a party that has been one of the most blatantly corrupt, lying, cheating, thieving, racist, homophobic, women-hating, war mongering, anti-democratic, Canada-hating parties in the history of Canada? Why would people continue to vote for a party that has been THE worst at managing the economy, a party that has embarrassed us on the world stage and made it so that the rest of the world now frowns upon us instead of looking to us as a world leader on the issues of peacekeeping and environmental protection, a party that cares only about the rich and not a fig for most Canadians, a party that has gone out of its way to undermine the support mechanisms for farmers, a party that is hell-bent on tearing down democracy and setting up a fascist state, a party that is only passionate in how much it hates Canada, a party that would reverse all the progress that has been made in our country over the past 50 years?


The Grinch here is not Stephen Harper and the Conservatives, but the people who blindly continue to vote in these vicious thugs. As shown in many opinion polls over the years it is known that most of these supporters value what we have (or had until the Harper Conservatives took it away) in Canada. They value medicare, They value our social support system. They value helping each other out and the fact that in Canada we do help each other out. They value peacekeeping over war-making. They value the environment and would like to take better care of it. They value the diversity of the peoples of this country. They value equality. They value love not hate. They value our democratic system. They value fairness and openness. They value honesty. They value having a government that respects them. So, why won't they respect themselves and vote for a party that shares the same values? Why vote for a party that turns around and craps on everything they believe in?

The corporate mainstream media has definitely played a part at swaying people to support the Conservatives and paint the other parties badly. And, there are those, especially in rural areas of the country, who vote for the local candidate, regardless of what party they belong to. And, as mentioned, there are those who blindly vote for whoever their family has always voted for. There are those who vote like it's all a game, and vote for whoever they think will win the election; they feel good about voting for a party that wins, even though that party turns and stabs them in the back. There are gullible people, people who fall for propaganda and lies and shiny objects. Some people can't read, or don't like reading, and some people have short memories and short attention spans, so, they don't read, listen to, or watch enough to see what has been happening to Canada. Some people live in caves. Some people don't have any connection to the Internet, or read newspapers, or have TVs or radios, or talk to anyone. But, I can't believe there are so many of these people as to collectively amount to over one third of the committed voters in this Country.

Wake up people! Canada has been burning, and you set the fire.

I am possibly underestimating my take on media persuasion in my post above. Check out the media endorsements for this election:
Conservatives: 31
NDP: 2
Bloc: 1
Liberals: 0
Green: 0
And Let Freedom Reign's take on this.

See also:
Harper's Majority: What's Left for us

Scott's DiaTribes: What we were up against (everyone who was anti-Conservative)
That folks, comes from an obvious Conservative supporter from a very Conservative county, but that's the mindset of some of Harper’s supporters. It also shows the droning and droning of the economy obviously resonated with some of these folks – they didn’t care if Harper was in contempt of Parliament – they blamed the minority Parliaments for Harper’s failings. I can see similarities to the Harper voters and the George W Bush voters from 2004 – they voted for stability – and discretion’s were ignored.

From the comments:

I don’t know what’s worse; the ignorance, bordering on foolishness coming out of your landlord’s mouth, or the conbots postings here trying desperately to defend a corrupt Conservative government.

What we have learned with this election is that Conservative supporters are hypocrites when it comes to government corruption.
"It also shows the droning and droning of the economy obviously resonated"

Which is why I kept harping on media figures promoting the myth that the Conservatives have some special competence where the economy is concerned. That’s an area where the media overwhelmingly reinforces the Conservative narrative.