Showing posts from December 2, 2014

Ontario Anti-SLAPP Bill Will Make It Harder For Companies To Squeeze Activists In Court

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[Don't hold your breath waiting for Harper to do anything similar on the national level. *RON*]
By The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 1 December 2014

TORONTO - Ontario's Liberal government is taking steps it says will protect freedom of expression by cracking down on lawsuits known as SLAPP — strategic litigation against public participation.

The government says individuals or companies use the threat of long and expensive lawsuits to intimidate opponents and discourage others from speaking out.

The legislation would give Ontario courts a new fast-track process for identifying and dealing with strategic lawsuits, and any requests to dismiss a case must be heard by the courts within 60 days.

The Liberals say the bill would minimize the time and resources wasted by plaintiffs, defendants and the courts on meritless claims, while allowing legitimate complaints to proceed.

Environmental groups applauded the anti-SLAPP legislation, saying …

Harper's Secret Budget Cuts Undermine Canada's Democracy

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[On Harper's use of the 'lapsed funds' tactic to circumvent democratic debate about government service cuts. "As a result, they [MPs] can't inform the public about what programs and services have been diminished in time to make a difference." *RON*]
Colin Kenny, Senator, Huffington Post, 1 December 2014

The Harper government has made no secret of its intention to tighten Canada's fiscal belt over the last several years.

Since 2010, the prime minister has been working to downsize the budgets of most federal agencies by between 5 and 10 per cent as part of his Deficit Reduction Action Plan (DRAP). In some cases, such as with the RCMP, the cuts have been as severe as 15 percent.

But DRAP is only part of the picture. A stealth campaign of additional budget cutting is afoot in Ottawa, occurring under the radar of most Canadians.

It involves federal organizations grossly underspending their close-to-the-bone budgets without pr…

Proposed CSIS Bill Changes Kiboshed By Conservatives

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["The rushed nature of committee hearings undermines democratic safeguards, said Liberal public safety critic Wayne Easter. 'What we're seeing here is an erosion of our parliamentary system that worries me.'" *RON*]
By Jim Bronskill, Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 1 December 2014

OTTAWA - Government MPs have voted down a raft of proposed amendments to a federal bill intended to solidify the terrorist-tracking powers of Canada's spy agency.

Conservatives rejected several changes put forward by NDP and Liberal members of the House of Commons justice committee.

Opposition MPs expressed frustration with the process — only a handful of witnesses were called to testify about the legislation — and the outcome.

The bill now returns to the Commons for third reading.

The legislation introduced in late October would provide blanket protection for Canadian Security Intelligence Service sources and give the spy agency more latitude to…

Leona Aglukkaq Reads Newspaper During Northern Food Crisis Debate

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[Could not even bother to listen to the stories about Elders eating from the garbage dump. *RON*]
By Zi-Ann Lum, Huffington Post, 2 December 2014

Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq was caught reading a newspaper in question period on Monday after evading questions about exorbitant food prices affecting people in her own riding.

Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair and NDP MP Romeo Saganash pressed Aglukkaq for answers after an APTN investigation into Nunavut food prices aired footage of a Nunavut elder rummaging through a dump for food to resell.

“Does the minister actually believe that people being forced to pay ten times more for milk or to scavenge at the dump is indicative of a program that is working?” asked Saganash during the House debate.

The program referenced is Nutrition North, one designed with the intention of helping customers pay less at the till by subsidizing retailers’ stocking costs associated with importing fresh fruits and vegetable…

Clean Energy Jobs Now Exceed Oilsands Jobs In Canada: Report

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["What makes the Canadian investment story more compelling is that it's happening without much federal government interest." See also from today Pipeline Projects Over-Promise and Under-Deliver on Jobs*RON*]
Bruce Cheadle, The Canadian Press / HuffPost Canada, 2 December 2014

Which industry employs more Canadians? The oilsands or clean energy?

Guess again.

Employment in Canada's clean energy sector has jumped 37 per cent in the past five years, says a new report from the think tank Clean Energy Canada, and now exceeds employment in the oilsands.

There were 23,700 people directly employed by the clean energy industry in 2013, compared to 22,340 jobs in the oilsands, the report found. Those green jobs include people employed in clean power production, energy efficiency, biofuels and manufacturing of green energy technologies.

Those job gains were the result of about $25 billion in new investment over the past five years, the re…

Greater income inequality associated with more deaths among African Americans

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["...with each unit increase in income inequality, there were an additional 27 to 37 deaths among African Americans. For white Americans, however, each unit increase in income inequality resulted in 417 to 480 fewer deaths." *RON*]

News Medical, 2 December 2014

Study found opposite effect among white Americans

Greater income inequality is linked to more deaths among African Americans, but the effect is reversed among white Americans, who experienced fewer deaths, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.

The study, published in the fall 2014 issue of the International Journal of Health Services, highlights stark racial differences in the effects of the widening gap between the rich and poor. The United States has one of the largest gaps between rich and poor among developed nations. According to a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, income grew by 275 percent for the top 1 perce…

The Rising Costs of US Income Inequality

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[Good short overview of the statistics and their economic, political and social effects. *RON*]
Laura Tyson, Project Syndicate, 30 November 2014

Laura Tyson, a former chair of the US President's Council of Economic Advisers, is a professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, a senior adviser at the Rock Creek Group, and a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Gender Parity. read 
BERKELEY – During the last several decades, income inequality in the United States has increased significantly – and the trend shows no sign of reversing. The last time inequality was as high as it is now was just before the Great Depression. Such a high level of inequality is not only incompatible with widely held norms of social justice and equality of opportunity; it poses a serious threat to America’s economy and democracy.

Underlying the country’s soaring inequality is income stagnation for the majority of…