Showing posts from September, 2014

Spy watchdog owns TransCanada shares while investigating complaints of CSIS spying on activists

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[Security Intelligence Review Committee member Yves Fortier said in addition to being a former TransCanada board member, he also -- to his knowledge -- still has shares in the company. Fortier is one of three SIRC members assigned to review the federal government's alleged monitoring of anti-pipeline critics. See also: Yves Fortier's oil patch ties prompt civil liberties complaint*RON*]

Matthew Millar, Vancouver Observer, 29 September 2014

Documents reveal that Security Intelligence Review Committee member Yves Fortier is a shareholder in TransCanada Corporation – the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline.

Click here to view the document showing that Yves Fortier owns shares in TransCanada
Fortier is one of three review committee members recently appointed to lead the investigation regarding the Canadian Security Intelligence Service gathering information on climate activists opposed to Canada's energy policies.

A May 1998 corpora…

Will the B.C. government stand up to Dr. Day and protect health care for everyone?

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[Brian Day openly breaks the law on an ongoing basis, commoditizing our health and lives, and makes a fortune doing it, yet it happens to be a law that neoliberal corporatists don't like much to begin with. *RON*]
By Michael Butler,, 29 September 2014

Today, health coalitions from across Canada are holding press conferences and a day of action (see here, here, here, here and here) to highlight the substantial implications and the threat to universal public health care that the current court case regarding the for-profit Cambie Surgical Centre, and its co-owner Dr. Brian Day, has for all of us.

I was on hand at Vancouver’s Cambie Surgery Centre (along with allies who are intervening in the case) demanding that the B.C. government hold this and other private clinics accountable for breaking the law. It is no exaggeration to say that the future of our public health care and a system that values all patients equally is at stake. This case…

CSIS Responds To Complaint Over Alleged Spying Of Enviro Groups: Language 'Overly Broad'

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[Realizing that Canadians might actually find something out about them, CSIS tells their boss that the terms of their investigation into them is unacceptable. *RON*]
By Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 29 September 2014

OTTAWA - Canadian spies are trying to narrow the scope of an inquiry into whether they overstepped the law while eyeing environmental activists.

A lawyer for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service says the terms spelled out in a civil liberties group's complaint are "overly broad" and must be "better defined."

At issue is how far the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the watchdog over CSIS, can delve into the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association's complaint about alleged spying on groups concerned about Canadian energy policy.

CSIS is trying to hide the reasons it monitored environmental groups, said Paul Champ, lawyer for the civil liberties association.

"We need t…

Income Inequality 2014: Ahead Of Midterm Elections, Harvard Study Says Americans Grossly Underestimate Inequality

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[The title says it all; inequality isn't a bigger political issue because Americans grossly underestimate the size of the gap between the rich and the poor. *RON*]
By David Sirota, International Business Times, 29 September 2014

If critics of income inequality are wondering why the growing gap between rich and poor hasn’t been a more potent political issue in the upcoming U.S. elections, a study offers some answers: It may be because many Americans grossly underestimate just how unequal the country is. That's one of the key findings of a survey showing the actual gap between CEO and average worker pay in America is more than 10 times higher than the typical American perceives.

The study by Harvard University and Chulalongkorn University researchers compiled survey data from 40 countries about perceptions of pay gaps between rich and poor. In every country, respondents underestimated the size of the gap between CEO and average worker pay.…

More than 100,000 protesters expected to flood the streets of Hong Kong as holiday begins

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[As China attempts to back-peddle on its promise for free and open democratic elections in Hong Kong, a piece on the pro-democracy demonstrations begun there by students; the largest since the 1960s. *RON*]
Bloomberg News in the National Post, 30 September 2014
Pro-democracy protests swelled in Hong Kong on the eve of a two-day holiday that may bring record numbers to rallies spreading throughout the city as organizers pressed demands for free elections.

With the workday ended and temperatures dropping, thousands of people were returning to the three main demonstration points, blocking some of the city’s roadways. Hong Kong marks China’s National Day tomorrow, the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and Chung Yeung Festival on Thursday, when Hong Kong people honour their ancestors.

“It’s quite possible that at least more than 100,000, if not up to 300,000, 400,000 people, will join in the protest in a show of people’s…

With FIPA, Harper Shows There's More than One Way to Skin a Constitution

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[This should have occurred to me before, but I felt like the scales had dropped from my eyes: this story contains an amazing insight. Gutting sovereignty via international trade agreements means gutting the Bill of Rights, which Harper loathes. Why else would he sign such a crappy deal? *RON*]

By Mitchell Anderson,, 25 September 2014

Is Stephen Harper on crack? Why would someone who was such an outspoken critic of communist China sign the Canada-China FIPA -- a three decade investment treaty so disadvantageous to this country that the Financial Postcalled the terms "unbecoming a nation state." So bad is this deal for Canada that experts worry that it would effectively allow closed door trade tribunals to undermine the authority of Parliament or even our constitution.

Could it be that Harper signed the FIPA because it was such a terrible deal? Let me explain. Harper's abiding preoccupation during his tenure has been scali…

BC No Winner in South Korea Trade Deal

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[Just in case you suspected for one moment that Harper knows what he's talking about concerning the economy. "Government upbeat, but Jim Stanford says the deal fails to fix existing trade imbalance." *RON*]

By Jeremy J. Nuttall,, 26 September 2014

'We don't get an advantage selling natural gas to Korea from free trade,' said Unifor economist Jim Stanford of the deal signed this week between Canada and South Korea. Photo: Government of Canada.

A trade deal signed between Canada and South Korea won't do much for the British Columbian economy because many of the products which will see trade tariffs lifted didn't have high duties to begin with, according to Unifor economist Jim Stanford.

The deal was signed this week and enjoys the support of the NDP, Liberals and Conservatives in the House of Commons.

In a breakdown of the deal's benefits for different regions of Canada, Ottawa claimed British Columbia s…

Help Put the Spotlight on Government Secrecy

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[Economists call it "information asymmetry" and they say this is why markets don't work. It's also the flip side of the Surveillance Society, which amount to the same thing. "Enraged by redacted FOIs? Baffled by backroom deals? Hashtag it #cdnfoi." It seems to me this article puts forward a good case that FOI is a non-partisan issue; rather it's a fundamental building block of democracy. *RON*]

By Sean Holman,, 26 September 2014

Spread the message. Spotlight examples of government secrecy with the hashtag #cdnfoi.

Partisans may not believe it, but Canada's "culture of secrecy" existed long before Stephen Harper moved into the prime minister's office. And it'll be around long after he moves out, unless Canadians do more than cast their ballots in the next election.

That's why four groups concerned about freedom of information, one of which I'm part of, are launching a campaign …

Our infant mortality rate is a national embarrassment

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[It's an inequality issue! P.S. Note that Canada under Harper - "Mister Maternal Health," tooting his horn for the UN - is the only nation that was unable to provide 2010 infant mortality data - thanks once again for gutting Statistics Canada Stephen! *RON*]

By Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post Blogs, 29 September 2014

The United States has a higher infant mortality rate than any of the other 27 wealthy countries, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control. A baby born in the U.S. is nearly three times as likely to die during her first year of life as one born in Finland or Japan. That same American baby is about twice as likely to die in her first year as a Spanish or Korean one.

Despite healthcare spending levels that are significantly higher than any other country in the world, a baby born in the U.S. is less likely to see his first birthday than one born in Hungary, Poland or Slovakia. Or in Belarus.Or in C…

US judge denies 'enforceable right' to water and allows Detroit shutoffs

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[In case you were uncertain about whether we truly live in a corporatocracy; in case you wondered whether austerity can really kill. This judge has ruled that poor Chicagoans have no fundamental right to water; he says the city can continue to shut off water access to residents behind on payments; noting, of the water company, that “The last thing it needs is this hit to its revenues.” See also: Residents fight back against shutoffs: ‘It’s life or death’. *RON*]
Dominic, 29 September 2014
The judge overseeing Detroit’s bankruptcy ruled Monday that the city can continue to shut off water if people can’t pay their bill.

Judge Steven Rhodes said there was no “enforceable right” to water and the Detroit water department would face a significant risk of higher defaults if a moratorium was issued. “The last thing it needs is this hit to its revenues,” he said.

Detroit’s Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) began shutting off water …

Sightings Of Spectacular Dolphin Superpods Boom In Vancouver Island

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[An antidote for all the usual newsy doom and gloom! :-) *RON*]
The Huffington Post B.C., 29 September 2014

Whale-watching boats are reporting a boom in rare sightings of Pacific white-sided dolphins off the coast of Vancouver Island and the San Juan Islands.

The Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA) says its members have increasingly been spotting the huge pods of 150 or more dolphins in the past month. The species is not endangered, but has not been seen frequently in the area for decades, said the group's executive director Michael Harris on Friday.

"With the world’s oceans in such trouble and whale and dolphin populations plummeting in so many places, it’s great to report the comeback of any wildlife to a particular area," he said in a statement.

"When these guys turn up, they really put on a show. The entire ocean seems to explode with life," Harris added.

Last November, two superpods dazzled boaters and ferry passengers…

Harper Gives EU Leaders $300,000 Plane Ride For Free: CBC Report

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[Austerity-not. The man is desperate; he sees this rapidly failing agreement as a keystone of his posterity, and something to get him re-elected. *RON*]
By The Canadian Press, Huffington Post, 28 September 2014

OTTAWA - The Prime Minister's Office is defending a decision to give a European Union delegation a free plane flight home last week at a cost that one media report estimated at more than $300,000.

Jason MacDonald says a Canadian Forces Airbus was offered as a courtesy to ensure "that no elements" of Friday's Canada-EU summit were cut short.

Two top European Union leaders, Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso, were in Ottawa where they signed a Canada-EU free-trade agreement.

The CBC is reporting that adding a Toronto reception to the visit would have made it impossible for the EU delegation to catch a commercial flight from Ottawa and make it to a Saturday meeting in Brussels.

The CBC says Prime Minister Stephen Har…

Tiny Spanish Island Nears Its Goal: 100 Percent Renewable Energy

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[It can be done. *RON*]

by Lauren Frayer, National Public Radio, 28 September 2014
It actually takes quite a lot of fossil fuel power to reach the tiny Spanish island of El Hierro. You have to catch a commercial jet flight, a propeller plane and then a ferry to reach what was once the end of the known world, before Columbus set sail.

But once you're there, there's no need for fossil fuels at all. The ancient island off the west coast of Africa is now a model for the future, within months of running on 100 percent renewable energy, which consists of a mix of wind and hydro-power.

El Hierro, the most remote of Spain's Canary Islands, is now billing itself as the world's first energy self-sufficient island that has never been hooked up to a power grid.

A Danish island, Samso, is also energy-independent, but was previously hooked up to the Danish grid and didn't make the change in isolation, like El Hierro.

Because of the topography o…

Arctic Madness: Shell and ConocoPhillips Plead With US Govt to Avoid Standards For Arctic Spill Preparedness

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[I.e., "world class standards" á la Enbridge and Kinder-Morgan means setting the bar as low as (in-) humanly possible to begin with. *RON*]
 Mike G, DeSmog Blog, 28 September 2014

Two oil companies planning to drill in remote Arctic waters, Shell and ConocoPhillips, are pleading with U.S.regulators not to make them follow new guidelines proposed by the Interior Department that would require the companies to keep emergency spill response equipment close at hand and prohibit the use of chemical dispersants.

The precise details of the new rules for Arctic drilling operations have not been made public as an inter-agency review of the Interior Department's proposal is still being carried out.

But records of meetings with officials at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which is currently reviewing the new standards, show that Shell is vigorously contesting rules that would require the company to keep on hand the necessary equipmen…

Stephen Harper Mocked Over Photos Of Empty Seats At UN Address

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[Unfortunately I couldn't find any photos of Lester B. Pearson addressing the UN for comparison. *RON*]
The Huffington Post Canada, 26 September 2014

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is facing some mockery online after cameras caught quite a few empty seats during his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.

Gerald Butts, chief adviser to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, poked some fun on Twitter Friday.

Gerald Butts @gmbuttsFollow
The Great Statesman PM commanded quite the audience at the UN yesterday. #cdnpoli
4:15 AM - 26 Sep 2014

Later, Butts compared the attendance for Harper's speech to that of U.S. President Barack Obama earlier in the week.
Gerald Butts @gmbuttsFollow
@Jean_Lapierre meanwhile, here's the room for Obama.
5:01 AM - 26 Sep 2014

Province floats gas tax shift to ferries

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[As though increased fares and fees aren't the same thing as a tax increase! *RON*]
by Jeff Nagel - BC Local News, Tri-City News, 26 September 2014

Transportation Minister Todd Stone is proposing coastal communities turn over federal gas tax transfers they receive to shore up ferry service and help keep a lid on fares.

The idea is getting a cool reception from mayors and councillors in ferry-dependent areas because it would mean the sacrifice of the federal gasoline tax money they now use to fund local infrastructure.

But Stone argued it would not be unlike the decision of Metro Vancouver cities to dedicate all of their federal gas tax transfers to TransLink for public transit.

"Let's think outside the box," Stone said Thursday outside the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.

"(Let's) have a discussion around gas tax as a potential source of revenue for BC Ferries service, which would have the effect of applying downwa…

Europe’s Austerity Zombies

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[It's a quote constantly mis-attributed to Einstein that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. The problem here, I think, is that Merkel is in fact getting exactly the result she's hoping for. *RON*]

Joseph E. Stiglitz, Today's Zaman, 26 September 2014

“If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the theory,” goes the old adage. But too often it is easier to keep the theory and change the facts – or so German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other pro-austerity European leaders appear to believe. Though facts keep staring them in the face, they continue to deny reality.

Austerity has failed. But its defenders are willing to claim victory on the basis of the weakest possible evidence: the economy is no longer collapsing, so austerity must be working! But if that is the benchmark, we could say that jumping off a cliff is the best way to get down from a mountain; after all, the…

Counterpoint: B.C. mayors filling leadership vacuum in pipeline review process

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[It was just announced that all three emergency resolutions brought forward by Burnaby, Victoria and Vancouver calling for real, credible public hearings on the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker expansion — and a safety plan for bitumen the company already ships — have PASSED at the Union of BC Municipalities. Details to come. *RON*]
Kai Nagata, Special to Financial Post, 25 September 2014
To vote Friday on Kinder Morgan. Pipelines are federal business, goes the argument – especially if they go through your backyard. Try explaining that at a town hall meeting

With rain lashing the chairlifts and green grass stretching up the mountainside, the visitors packing Whistler’s chalet lounges this week aren’t here for the moguls. It’s the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, and that means 737 mayors and councillors are here to schmooze, scheme, and vote on a series of contentious resolutions.

Mayor Derek Corrigan strides into the confe…

Richmond rakes port over the coals

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[“I don’t understand why they’re risking tragedy or some sort of disaster event on the Fraser River for a $15-million investment for a coal facility.” “It’s unfortunate that the health concerns of the Lower Mainland were not taken into consideration.” Federal Supreme Court: “They railroaded through the project for the Fraser Surrey Docks, in spite of climate change, and so the citizens are taking them to court.” BC Supreme Court: “It’s pretty serious when the only avenue you have with Port Metro Vancouver is to take them to court, because all of the public hearings they’ve had have been a sham.” *RON*]
by Matthew Hoekstra - Richmond Review, 26 September 2014

Richmond council offered Port Metro Vancouver a rebuke this week for approving a facility that will introduce two coal barges in the Fraser River each day.

“It’s a bad idea—a dumb idea actually,” said Coun. Ken Johnston, speaking at Monday’s council meeting. “We’ve sent the message loud and c…

Inside the New York Fed: Secret Recordings and a Culture Clash

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[On the corporatocracy and regulatory capture in action. A confidential report and a fired examiner’s hidden recorder penetrate the cloistered world of Wall Street’s top regulator—and its history of deference to banks. *RON*]

by Jake Bernstein, ProPublica, 26 September 2014

This story was co-published with This American Life, from WBEZ Chicago. Hear the radio version on these stations or download the episode now.

Barely a year removed from the devastation of the 2008 financial crisis, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York faced a crossroads. Congress had set its sights on reform. The biggest banks in the nation had shown that their failure could threaten the entire financial system. Lawmakers wanted new safeguards.

The Federal Reserve, and, by dint of its location off Wall Street, the New York Fed, was the logical choice to head the effort. Except it had failed miserably in catching the meltdown.

New York Fed President William Dudle…

Germany Puts Canada-EU Trade Deal On Hold: Reports

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[Thank goodness, this is a horrible trade agreement - giving away even more sovereignty to the corporatocracy. Harper truly believes these agreements will a key contribution to his 'posterity', so this announcement must get W-A-Y up inside his nose. *RON*]
The Huffington Post Canada, 25 September 2014

On the eve of a summit between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and European Union leaders, Germany has signalled it’s putting the Canada-EU trade deal on hold.

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) was supposed to be symbolically concluded on Friday after five years of negotiations.

But German economic affairs minister Sigmar Gabriel said Thursday the country will not sign the deal unless a controversial clause allowing companies to sue governments is removed, Reuters reported.

According to sources cited by German news service Deutsche Welle, Gabriel “pulled the emergency brake in Brussels, and prevented the completion of the …

5 Reasons B.C. Should Say No To The Site C Dam

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[A good crisp, on-point piece on one of the Liberal government's biggest boon-doggles. Forward the link to this article to your MLA. *RON*]
By Emma Gilchrist, DeSmog Canada, 25 September 2014

A recent poll found that only six out of 10 British Columbians have heard of BC Hydro's $8 billion proposal to build a third hydroelectric dam on the Peace River.

But the decision about whether to build the Site C dam will directly affect all of us -- from the implications for our electricity bills to the flooding of some of B.C.'s best agricultural land.

After more than 30 years on the books, the provincial and federal governments are expected to decide on the project by Oct. 22.

"I only want to build Site C if it makes the most sense for the people of the province," B.C.'s Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett told The Vancouver Sun on Sept. 10.

So, does Site C make sense for the people of B.C.?

Someday, B.C. will need more energy. &qu…

Harper's New Climate PR Campaign Is Downright Orwellian

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["Eliminating policy is to implement policy. Blocking and abandoning global negotiations is to lead global negotiations. Muzzling scientists is to have science inform decision-making. Working hard to increase carbon pollution is to decrease it. Black is white. Dishonesty is truth." *RON*]
Carol Linnitt, DeSmog Canada, Huffington Post, 25 September 2014

Facing criticism in the lead up to the U.N. Climate Summit, which prime minister Stephen Harper did not attend, the Harper Government released a new public outreach campaign through Environment Canada, praising the country's action on climate change.

The campaign points to four pillars of Canada's climate progress including efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, investing in climate adaptation, "world-class scientific research to inform decision-making," and international leadership in climate action.

Already critics are pointing to the apparent disparity between the E…

One Chart About Income Inequality That Will Make Your Blood Boil

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[A bit hyperbolic, but still good information on the rigged 'recovery' of the economy. *RON*]
By Ryan W. Neal, Policy.mic, 25 September 2014

This chart by Pavlina Tcherneva, an economics professor at Bard University, shows a simple yet shocking trend of how bad income inequality has gotten.

The graphic illustrates the distribution of average income growth during every period of economic expansion after World War II:

Halfway There: Why the Left Wins on Culture and Loses on Economics

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[Kazin basically argues that while the masses have largely come to accept and support somewhat abstract rights related to liberty and equality, despite a growing awareness of and concern over wealth inequality, their interest in social change ends at their pocket-book and paycheque. *RON*]
By Michael Kazin, Foreign Affairs, from the September/October 2014 Issue

Two big and important American social movements, both pioneered by the left, are heading in opposite directions. In recent years, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activists have scored one victory after another. Homosexuals now serve openly in the U.S. military and can legally marry in at least 19 states and the District of Columbia, and discrimination against them in other areas of public life is rapidly diminishing. At the same time, organized labor -- another (at least former) pillar of left-wing politics -- seems trapped in a downward spiral. Private-sector labor unions …

The End of Swedish Exceptionalism: Why the Elections Mark a New Era for Politics

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["Making up for the lackluster results of the conservatives and the left was the strong performance of the Sweden Democrats, a populist anti-immigrant party, which won 13 percent of the vote, more than double its share in the 2010 election." Inequality breeds xenophobia; Scandinavian social democracy has always depended, to some degree, on the remarkable ethnic homogeneity of the population. I've never heard that term, GAL-TAN, before, but it seems useful. *RON*]
By Bo Rothstein, Foreign Affairs, 18 September 2014

This week’s election marked the end of eight years of center-conservative rule in Sweden. In a sense, the victory of a loose coalition of the Social Democrats, the Left Party, and the Green Party was surprising, not least because the ruling coalition, led by the Moderate Party, has been hailed for successfully navigating the 2007­–08 global financial crisis and then generating respectable economic growth over the last thre…

BREAKING NEWS: Burnaby wins ruling against Kinder Morgan

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[City of Burnaby wins key ruling with National Energy Board against Kinder Morgan and its proposed $5.4 billion oil sands pipeline. *RON*]
Mychaylo Prystupa, Vancouver Observer, 25 September 2014

In what's considered a huge win for the City of Burnaby's legal battle to stop the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, the National Energy Board struck down the company's application to forbid Burnaby city staff from blocking the pipeline company's test drilling on Burnaby Mountain.

“Kinder Morgan is this arrogant company who assumed they could just go in and take direct action [to remove trees], based on their legal interpretation," said Burnaby's lawyer, Gregory McDade, Q.C. Thursday evening.

"They thumbed their nose at the law."

"It turns out they were wrong," added the lawyer.

The NEB's federal decision made public Thursday afternoon means Kinder Morgan can not legally proceed with its pipeli…

Federal government media monitoring keeps tabs on political opponents

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[Harper's spending priorities for the public good: "The government has spent more than $20 million on media monitoring contracts since December 2012, despite maintaining more than 3,300 communications staff across government." *RON*]

 Jason Fekete, Ottawa Citizen, 23 September 2014
The Conservative government is being accused of using some of its multi-million-dollar media monitoring contracts for political purposes to keep an eye on opponents and potential scandals that could derail the party’s electoral hopes.

The government has spent more than $20 million on media monitoring contracts since December 2012, despite maintaining more than 3,300 communications staff across government.

Included within the government’s media monitoring contracts are more than 1,100 pages of search terms (half English, half French) that show the government keeping an eye on what reporters, critics and its own spokespersons are saying. The media monitoring …

Why 'corporate social responsibility' is a crock

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[The federal government has given up $400 billion in corporate tax revenues over 30 years; corporations have 'replaced' this with possibly $40 billion in noblesse oblige that goes to whomever corporations feel are deserving, not the public. *RON*]

By Larry Haiven,, 24 September 2014

Back when I was in the MBA program at the University of Alberta in 1984, a wily professor put the cat among the pigeons. He asked us students to consider whether corporations should forget about charity and good works and simply… pay their taxes.

Businesses, he argued, were good at making money, not social welfare. The difficult decisions on which groups of needy citizens, domestic and foreign, to help out should best be left to elected officials (who could be turfed at the next election if we didn't like their actions.) And, in the field of making life better for those in great need, governments employ people who actually know what they are doing…

Stone rejects fare rollback at BC Ferries

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[Not a word here about the public good, only 'affordability' and, of course, the 'irresponsibility' of pointing it out when they do harm. *RON*]
by Jeff Nagel - BC Local News, Tri-City News, 24 September 2014

Transportation Minister Todd Stone quickly ruled out a demand Wednesday from municipal politicians to unwind recent BC Ferries fare hikes and service cuts.

Speaking outside the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, after delegates unanimously endorsed the resolution, Stone said affordability is the number one issue and fares cannot continue to rise at four per cent or more a year.

But he said he won't overrule the independent ferry commissioner and force a reduction in fares.

"That's not going to happen," Stone said, adding he also firmly rejected a call from coastal communities to raise taxes to increase ferry subsidies.

Instead, he said, fare restraint must come from innovation and efficiencies that will de…

Canadian Red Cross Finds Immigration Detainees Held In Inadequate Conditions

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[This story, like several I read today, only saw the light of day because reporters used the Freedom of Information Act to access reports that ought to be freely available to the public in the first place. Then they get this kind of run-around: "Agency spokesman Pierre Deveau said a number of steps have been taken to address the Red Cross's concerns. However, he did not provide details and refused to make anyone available to discuss the report." *RON*]
By Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press, Huffington Post, 25 September 2014

OTTAWA - A confidential Red Cross investigation found numerous shortcomings at Canadian facilities for immigrant detainees including triple-bunked cells, lack of support for detained children and inadequate mental-health care.

In addition, because there are no dedicated immigration cells in many parts of the country, newcomers are often held in provincial jails or police facilities alongside suspected gang membe…

Human trafficking research reveals Canada's role in violence against Aboriginal women

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[Oh yes, Mister Harper, let us not by any means turn this into a sociological phenomenon. *RON*]
By Sarah Hunt, Julie Kaye,, 24 September 2014

Canada's response to the safety concerns of Indigenous women and girls has garnered significant attention in recent months. Alongside high-profile debates about Canadian sex work laws and the experiences of Aboriginal women and girls in sex industries, significant attention has focused on Canada's response, or lack of response, to the nearly 1,200 murdered and missing Aboriginal women and girls.

Similarly, recent discussions of human trafficking have foregrounded the vulnerability of Indigenous girls and women. In 2012, both an RCMP report and the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking specifically label Aboriginal women and girls as having heightened risk of becoming victims of human trafficking.

In this context, Public Safety Canada issued a call in August 2013 for proposals to …

Canada's Sanctions On Russia Tough, But Not For Oil Industry

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[ Moore thinks everything's hunky-dory if he hasn't heard any complaints. Zero moral compass. "Calgary-based Trican Well Service Ltd. said in its latest quarterly report that Russian operations accounted for the majority of its international earnings.... Another Calgary company touts its work for three of Russia's biggest oil and gas companies." *RON*]
By Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press. Huffington Post, 24 September 2014

NEW YORK -- For all its much-touted toughness in imposing economic sanctions against Russia, Canada has been significantly more timid against one particular target: the oil industry.

A database of sanctions compiled by The Canadian Press suggests Canada has been almost three times less likely to penalize Russian oil companies than the United States.

The Harper government has imposed economic penalties against five Russian oil companies, compared to 13 firms targeted in that same sector by the U.S.


Is this how Maryland’s 3rd Congressional district is supposed to look?

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["Common Cause Maryland activists spent their weekend running a 225-mile relay around the state's 3rd District -- one of the most gerrymandered in the nation -- to demand a fair and open redistricting process." Not even remotely contiguous. Why isn't the Secretary of State all over this? *RON*]

By Jenna Johnson September 21 

The anti-gerrymandering activists spent a year plotting their route through Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District, which meanders through narrow stretches of four counties and was once described by a federal judge as“reminiscent of a broken-winged pterodactyl, lying prostrate across the center of the state.”

This weekend, the activists and their adventure-seeking friends ran, biked and boated for 225 miles, from the city of Baltimore to Baltimore County, to Howard, Montgomery and Anne Arundel, to make this point: Representative government isn’t supposed to look this way.

“There’s no logic to it,” said Barbara …