Whoa! Canada

laurel l. russwurm's political musings

Posts Tagged ‘Wikipedia

No More NAFTA ~ ACTA ~ Stop the TPP

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Canadian Flag Superimposed on American Flag

Do you remember NAFTA?

Canadians exercised our democratic right to fire Brian Mulroney and his entire political party (save 2) for inflicting NAFTA on Canada. We said NO to NAFTA.

In decimating the Progressive Conservative Party, we replaced Mulroney with a new Liberal Prime Minister.  PM Jean Chrétien took office with a decisive majority, because he had:

“…campaigned on a promise to renegotiate or abrogate NAFTA; however, Chrétien subsequently negotiated two supplemental agreements with the new US president.”

Wikipedia: NAFTA

No one doubted that the majority of Canadians emphatically said NO.  We did what we are supposed to: we changed the government to make our point.  Yet it didn’t help.  NAFTA is alive and well in Canada.

[And people wonder why so many Canadians don’t vote.]

Casseroles Protest

It’s no wonder governments seek to negotiate trade agreements in secret; citizens might vote them out if we knew what they were doing. Even our protests might slow them down.

In spite of onerous non-disclosure agreements, information about the dreadful secret trade agreement ACTA (the so-called “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement”) kept leaking out. I blogged extensively about ACTA in my interweb freedom blog. Enough was known about it to frighten Europeans into taking to the streets. The result was that ACTA was rejected emphatically after European citizens took to the streets to tell their governments “NO!”

The ACTA agreement crumbled, or so the world thought . . .

The agreement was signed in October 2011 by Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States.[6] In 2012, Mexico, the European Union and 22 countries which are member states of the European Union signed as well.[7] One signatory (Japan) has ratified (formally approved) the agreement, which would come into force in countries that ratified it after ratification by six countries.

Wikipedia: Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

Casseroles demonstration

Although many people believe the world rejected ACTA, Canada has not. Some of the worst of the laws that erode civil rights that are being forged by Canada’s “majority government” are in service of the ACTA trade agreement. ACTA is alive and well in Canada.

And now the The TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership is coming.

Governments and special interests  pursue these treaties in secret because the terms are detrimental to citizen interests. They then use the existence of such “trade treaties” to justify draconian changes they then make to our domestic laws. We are told they “have to do it” because of the treaty commitment. Funny how the Harper Government doesn’t “have to” live up to Canada’s Kyoto commitment.

Make A Difference

The Inter-Continental Day of Action, 31 January 2013 is gearing up across Canada, the United States and Mexico to protest the Trans Pacific Trade Agreement (TPP), the latest in the dizzying proliferation of “trade agreements” that sacrifice the public good in the interests of servicing the objectives of corporations.

Find your local event, or start your own!

Canadians Demonstrating

Canadians are getting better at demonstrating because we have to.

Bill C-60 vs. CBC, Culture and Press Freedom

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In Canada we can write or call our Member of Parliament (MP) to let them know when they are making a mistake.  I expect the legislation drafted as Bill C-60: Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1 — An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures has other problems threaded throughout its 128 pages but the mistake that concerns me is the bit about Crown Corporations in general, and in particular, the CBC.

To make it easy for Canadians, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting set up an online form letter. I’m one of the 71,393 Canadians (so far) to use their form letter to tell Prime Minister Stephen Harper and my own MP, Harold Albrecht, not to threaten the CBC’s autonomy by passing Bill C-60.

I haven’t heard back from the Prime Minister’s Office, but today I heard from my own MP, Harold Albrecht.

Dear Laurel,

The MP attending a High School Commencement ceremony

Harold Albrecht, MP

Thank you for contacting my office to express your concerns regarding Bill C-60 and the CBC. I appreciate your input on this matter.

Crown Corporations, such as the CBC, receive appropriations from Parliament, and our Government would like to see consistency in wage and benefits among all Crown Corporations and the civil service. This means that any individual doing the same type of work at the CBC should be receiving the same amount of money if they were doing the same job in any other Crown Corporation or Federal Department.

This is what Bill C-60 is seeking to secure. This mandate will make certain that we have the correct instruments in place to protect taxpayer dollars at the bargaining table if it is necessary. We have a responsibility and commitment to spend taxpayer dollars wisely and will work closely with Crown corporations to ensure this happens.

I would like to ensure you that the measures in Bill C-60 do not affect the funding or the independent operation of the CBC, or any other Crown Corporations.

I thank you again for contacting my office to express your concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact my office with any future concerns or inquiries.

Sincerely,

Harold Albrecht, MP
Kitchener-Conestoga

While I am sure Harold is sincere, his government has missed a couple of key points, so I decided to help matters along by writing him back to clear a few things up.

Harold Albrecht, MP
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Dear Harold,

Thank you for your response. While I do understand your position, it fails to take into account two very important considerations.

The first is Canadian CultureCBC simply is not the same as any other Crown Corporation because it is tasked with delivering Canadian culture to Canadians.

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has no equivalent to Mr. Dressup.

Nor is a Camera Operator a Letter Carrier. A Letter Carrier follows a set of rules laid down from above, while a Camera Operator has achieved a level of technical expertise which is used in conjunction with a certain degree of creativity.

Although I have not myself worked at CBC, I have written television drama professionally, and I very much hope that there is no job like that at the Bank of Canada.

Canadian commitment to the CBC (and the NFB) has helped grow our cultural heritage. No one is suggesting that CBC is perfect, but direct government intervention to micromanage it is not the way to go.

The second crucial consideration is the other reason CBC was established, to ensure all Canadians have access to Canadian News — which does not simply mean a regional version of American News.

Public broadcasting is important to ensure Corporate agendas don’t trump the public good, which is why Canada is not the only nation in the world delivering public broadcasting to its citizens. Even the United States – the world leader in commercial broadcasting – has independent Public Broadcasting.

For the better part of the first two years I was writing the Stop Usage Based Billing blog, the only national mainstream media outlet in Canada that reported on our peculiarly Canadian UBB issue was CBC.  Unlike its self interested commercial competitors (which worked to keep the issue away from Canadians), CBC’s mandate is not just the the bottom line, but to keep Canadians informed.

While it is appropriate for the Federal Government to disburse funds to CBC, if government dictates how the money will be spent, journalistic independence will be lost and news will become propaganda.  If the news media is controlled by government, there can be no free press.

You must appreciate that while your government has a responsibility to spend taxpayer dollars wisely, this can be done without compromising press freedom. The Broadcasting Act gave CBC total autonomy in staffing decisions to ensure a free press, which is a necessary component of democracy.

Your assurance that the measures in Bill C-60 will not affect the funding or the independent operation of the CBC, or any other Crown Corporations, rings hollow in light of your government’s rejection of the Peggy Nash motion asking the finance committee to study the measure. If we are to have accountable democratic government, legislation requires sufficient scrutiny.

Bill C-60 will do remarkable damage both to Canadian culture and Press Freedom.  For these reasons, as well as others echoed across the news media and the Internet, I ask you, as my duly elected Member of Parliament, to please vote “no” to Bill C-60.

Regards,
Laurel L. Russwurm

I didn’t go into the inappropriateness of Omnibus Bills in a democracy ~ this one contains so much disparate material that Peggy Nash wanted it split into six parts.

Since I’m not an expert on Crown Corporations, I limited myself to addressing the CBC issues.

Maybe I should have suggested it would be wise to consider why these Crown Corporations were established as independent entities in the first place.  The CBC is not a branch of the Civil Service, nor should it be.

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

Further Reading:
Bill C-60: An attack on CBC’s autonomy by Karl Nerenberg on Rabble

Will Bill C-60 influence Bank of Canada’s independence? Flaherty should explain by Kevin Carmichael, Globe and Mail

Canadian Press: Journalists urge fight against Bill C-60

Ottawa kicks the CBC, a wounded critter on a short leash by John Doyle, Globe and Mail

This Magazine: WTF Wednesday: CBC under attack…again

Fighting for Our Freedom

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Maybe it’s because of movies I’ve seen, or possibly because of my interest in history, or both, but Remembrance Day has always been important to me.

When I was a kid I borrowed the vinyl LP “Billy Bishop Goes To War” from the local public library. More than once.
This masterpiece of Canadian theatre has everything that a good war story ought to have. Humour. Drama. A valient hero. Politics. And tragedy. Later I bought my own copy, which I played for my child on Remembrance Day.

One of the most haunting songs I’ve ever heard is Chris DeBurgh’s “This Song For You.”

And the best war movies I’ve seen were William Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives, Hal Ashby’s Coming Home , and, best of all, Peter Weir’s Gallipoli

All are powerful works of art, each carrying the clear message that wars should be avoided.

On past Remembrance Days I’ve written about copyright in The Eleventh Minute, the Eleventh Hour, the Eleventh Day and the tragic monument at the University of Toronto: In Flanders Fields….

If ye break faith with us who die

“ If ye break faith with us who die ” — In Flanders Fields, John McCrae

Sadly, the wrongs that I wrote about have not yet been righted. Earlier this week my friend Satipera shared this powerful article from the UK which looks closely at the wearing of the poppy Robert Fisk: Do those who flaunt the poppy on their lapels know that they mock the war dead?

I very much doubt that a single Canadian politician anywhere in the world will be without a poppy today. Yet who, more than they, hold the responsibility for the continued sacrifice of a new crop of young Canadians soldiers engaged in a war because … ?

“Since 2001, 158 Canadians have died in Afghanistan and another 6,700 are collecting disability payments from Veterans Affairs, about 130 of them under the age of 25. “

— Tamsin McMahon ~ National Post: “Canada’s newest veterans having trouble accepting the label

A poppy with a "free Byron" center

Canada has been involved in an almost invisible war for nearly a decade. It is barely spoken of, but young Canadians fight and die and I can’t tell you why. I suspect they can’t, either. Unlike the glamorous Great War, or the Second World War, the only citizens who are really involved and affected are the Canadians whose children are overseas, fighting and dying. Has a decade of this fixed anything? Has anything good come of this war? A war that Canada is supposed to be withdrawing from by the end of this year. Will we really withdraw?

I can’t begin to count the times in my life that I’ve heard it said that our soldiers fought for our freedom. But there is much less freedom now than there was when I was young.

The erosion of civil rights that the blood of our soldiers was to have bought for us was never more clear than in the events around last year’s G20 Summit in Toronto.

Today, Canadians across the country are organizing and participating in the “Occupy” movement.

And Byron Sonne is on trial in Toronto.  He’s fighting for his freedom, and ours.

Where did our freedom go?

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

Image credits

Airfield to Salute” photograph by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Aramis X. Ramirez
Wikipedia: KANDAHAR, Afghanistan–Troops deployed to International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Regional Command South gathered on the flightline of Kandahar Air Field to salute fallen Canadian servicemember Sapper Sean David Greenfield on February 1, 2009. Greenfield, who was deployed as part of the 24 Field Engineers Squadron out of Petawawa, Ontario, was killed in action in the Zhari District of Kandahar Province on Jan. 31, 2009 ISAF photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Aramis X. Ramirez (RELEASED). ~ This file is a work of a sailor or employee of the U.S. Navy, taken or made during the course of the person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

freebyron poppy cc by laurelrusswurm

whose election is it anyway? #elxn41

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Elected Members of Parliament from the previous session of parliament are by no means guaranteed a seat in the next Parliament.

The clearest example of the change that can take place in the course of a single election can be seen by comparing the 34th Canadian Parliament and the 35th Canadian Parliament.

Every registered political party running candidates in the election should be treated the same. Because NO ONE has been elected yet.

Gilles Duceppe on the Campaign Trail with Berard Bigras

During the televised “Leadership Debate” Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe stated:

“Mr. Layton, you know this just as much as I do.   I, say it, will never be prime minister. And you know, you won’t be prime minister either,”

—Gilles Duceppe, “Duceppe says he has saved Canada from a Harper majority

Although M. Duceppe is quite correct in stating that he can not hope to be Prime Minister of Canada, it is because thus far his party exists only in La Province du Québec. Even winning every possible riding in La Belle Province can not garner enough seats to form a Canadian Federal Government. If Mr Duceppe wishes to be Prime Minister of Canada, he first needs to extend his base of support beyond Quebec’s borders.

This is not true of Jack Layton’s NDP.

The New Democratic Party of Canada has fielded Candidates across the country. This means that enough NDP MPs could be elected to form a federal government. Which would transform Jack Layton into the Prime Minster of Canada. Not impossible.

Jack Layton at rally, standing in front of flag.

Prime Minister Layton?

Particularly considering the ideological bankruptcy of both the CPC (Conservative Party of Canada) and the LPC (Liberal Party of Canada).

Prime Minster May?

The same is true for Elizabeth May. The Green Party of Canada (GPC) has fielded candidates all across Canada. If enough Green Party candidates are elected, as the leader of the Green Party of Canada, Elizabeth may would become our Prime Minister.

This is why the televised Leadership Debate was such a travesty. The arbitrary rules set by the consortium are in fact meaningless. In a first-past-the-post democracy, it does not matter who formed the last government. That’s old news. Just because they have been elected in the past doesn’t mean they will be elected again. That’s history. All the leaders of all registered parties should have been included.

Every election is a fresh start, as Anne of Green Gables would say, “with no mistakes in it.”

Because no one has been elected, all the candidates are supposed to start on a level playing field.

Canadians have been under the apparently mistaken impression that the Elections Canada mandate was to ensure a fair election. To ensure as level a field as possible. Yet it seems Elections Canada was powerless over the televised Leadership Debates. The way the “debates” were conducted was left entirely in the hands of “the consortium.” This utterly unaccountable media consortium decided that the only leaders allowed on the televised debates would be the ones with elected representatives.

Elections Canada lacks any authority to mandate any rules of fairness.

Previous governments have written laws allowing these unaccountable media corporations to define the terms of election broadcasts. This places the broadcast media in control of what the electorate is allowed to see.

More than ever before, this election is being held at a time when the unaccountable consortium of broadcasters is a special interest group.

Who is in charge of Canada’s mainstream media “consortium”?

Ahem. Bell Canada Enterprises just happens to own the CTV Network, The Globe And Mail, much of Canada’s land and cell phone networks, as well as a huge chunk of the Internet backbone. The supposedly arms length CRTC has failed Canadians by granting the gigantic Bell more and more control over the Canadian media when in fact a good regulator would be breaking it down into smaller parts to diminish the unhealthy stranglehold this corporation has over the Canadian digital economy. Usage Based Billing is just one of the perks that Bell has attempted with the assistance of the CRTC.

Suffice it to say that Elections Canada should be calling the shots, not media special interest groups.

democracy #fail

The deliberate exclusion of Green Party candidates by the media in the supposedly non-partisan meetings seems the recurring theme for this election. The media supposedly “covering” these all candidates meetings and debates is actually controlling them.

The Renfrew Conservative candidate walked out of a debate that had excluded the local Green Party candidate.

Then there was the “Kitchener Centre Forum” put on by the Greater KW Chamber of Commerce at Kitchener City Hall on April 21st. This forum only invited four of the seven candidates registered to run in this riding. Stephen Woodworth (Conservative Party of Canada), Karen Redman (Liberal Party of Canada), Peter Thurley (New Democratic Party), and Byron Williston (Green Party of Canada) were allowed to attend while Mark Corbiere (Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada), Alan Rimmer (Independent), and Martin Suter (Communist Party of Canada) were excluded.

Canadian media coverage used to be equitable to all the candidates.

Instead of fair election coverage, Canadians are getting scripted debates and reality TV.

up close and personal: local level debates

I missed the first Kitchener-Conestoga all-candidates meeting in my riding since it conflicted with the televised leadership debate.

What I heard went on revealed it to have been something of a travesty. Albert Ashley, the Green Candidate was absent altogether (out of the country), making the “All Candidate” meeting short one candidate. Like the televised “Leadership Debate”, this local debate was rigidly controlled by the media companies, in this case, Rogers Cable and The Record newspaper. Apparently candidate answers were limited to 30 second sound bites, making the answers, for the most part, shorter than the questions.

The published Record story downplays the fact that the incumbent Albrecht’s ‘office’ had been caught out for registering his opponent’s domain name and putting spurious content online.

What would have been a major scandal back when we still had a watch-dog press, instead came out in the Record as a partisan whitewash. The characterized this breach of ethics (if not law ) as “website pranks.” In fact it is very close to Identity theft, and may well constitute libel or fraud in the business world.

What the Record would call it if someone were to register the http://www.thekwrecord.com/ domain name and load it with spurious content?

Apparently Harold Albrecht laid off the responsibility for this attack on “an overzealous volunteer,” named by the Record as “his former chief of staff Jeff Chatterton.” Apparently Albrecht offered to sell the domain names to Liberal Candidate Bob Rosehart.

A closer look reveals Jeff Chatterton is no eager innocent, but rather a former journalist who hung out a public relations shingle and cut his teeth in damage control for the City of Walkerton during the Walkerton water crisis. Chatterton’s bio indicates he has made a career of characterizing scientific findings in opposition to his corporate client’s interests as “junk science.” According to Chatterton’s Facebook Page, the tag line for his company, Checkmate Public Affairs, is “Keeping clients OUT of the news – and doing it alarmingly well.”

Which makes me wonder what other improprieties are conducted in Mr. Albrecht’s office that can be blamed on underlings.
What ever happened to personal responsibility?

Possibly the most disturbing thing about the article is the Record implication that the Green Party candidate’s absence is spurious. Scheduling an all candidates meeting for a date when one of the four candidates is out of the country, and then blaming that candidate for the absence is masterful politicking.

But it is not what one would expect from an unbiased media.

looking over a creek at a very nice neighborhood in winter

The Elmira All Candidates Meeting

Put on by the “Greater KW Chamber of Commerce,” and again run by the media, this time the local 570 News Radio station. There were perhaps 200 to 300 seats, all filled, with an additional 50 or so standing room only attendees.

This indicates a far larger turnout than expected. (Interestingly, I also heard that Tuesday’s Kitchener-Waterloo All Candidates meeting was also standing room only, but their reported overages were in the hundreds.)

The format of the meeting was to pose a series of questions, which each candidate had the opportunity to answer. And at the end, “if time permits” they said they ‘might’ take questions from the audience. In other words, the corporate radio station decided the questions to be asked, while the citizens in attendance would only be allowed to pose questions on sufferance.

[They did, in fact, take audience questions at the end, and the moderator made a bee line to a young man in a suit whose first question exposed him as an embarrassingly blatant conservative shill.]

Applause

While it is may be reasonable to applaud a panel of candidates when introduced at the outset of such a meeting, it is wholly inappropriate to applaud each answer.
hands clapping

Since time was supposedly an issue, no applause should have been allowed. Interestingly, the applause was loudest and absurdly long for the only professional candidate, the Conservative incumbent, Harold Albrecht.

The applause reminded me of those talent programs where the loudest cheering section, not talent, decides the winner. It doesn’t matter how talented or not the participant is, the contest is won by how many friends they can bring. This bit of showmanship is important only as a demonstration of political power.

Which is, of course, precisely why applause should not be allowed at an ostensibly non-partisan political meeting held during an election. I wonder how much that influenced the trickle of attendees who walked out though out the show…
er, meeting.

Party Platforms

The theme of all answers given by both the Conservative Party incumbent and the Liberal Party challenger was to attack each other’s ruling party record. Of course the Conservative cheering section applauded Harold Albrecht’s Liberal attack-answers just as the Liberal cheering section applauded Bob Rosehart’s Conservative attack-answers.

The worst of it is, both cheering sections were right. Every bad Liberal deed that Albrecht pointed out was true, just as every bad Conservative deed Rosehart mentioned was. The problem is that the partisan cheering section doesn’t seem to care that the team they cheer … er their party … has done bad stuff, too.

Many who blindly pick a leader and a party will follow them no matter what bad deeds they have done or are going to continue to do. They have made a choice to allow someone else to decide what to think and who to vote for, and are not going to change. And that’s their right. Where it becomes a problem is when they pack a hall and engage in an “applause battle” in an attempt to exert peer pressure, itself a form of bullying, to pressure others to vote for your team… er, party.

Since the NDP and Green Party haven’t ever had the opportunity to rule, they weren’t included in the slagging match, and had no choice but to answer the questions. The Green Party’s Albert Ashley made it clear that his candidacy was last minute, so he was really just getting up to speed, and clearly not as conversant with his party’s platform as the other candidates. He did manage to crack up the audience with the observation that no one had hijacked his domain name. NDP candidate Lorne Bruce answered all the questions posed concisely and well, something not often seen in a campaign.

Ironically, one of the key topics was the decisions that lay ahead for the Region in regard to the expansion of public transit. The implication was that these decisions for the region would be made at rarefied stratas by the rich and powerful who do not have to actually use public transit. Which may explain why both Conservative Harold Albrecht and Liberal challenger Bob Rosehart champion the sexy LRT expansion option, rather than the more prosaic NDP intention to expand bus service to ensure citizen access before adding luxury bells and whistles.

But clearly, any citizens actually needing public transit have been excluded from the Kitchener-Conestoga all-candidates meetings.

IXpress bus driving in urban area

As it turns out, a third All Candidates meeting was added for the Kitchener-Conestoga riding tonight. When I first heard, I thought it would provide an opportunity to allow citizens reliant to transit access to the electoral process. Silly me. This one was held in New Hamburg, and again without and public transit access. I didn’t attend this one.

Since all four candidates are on Facebook, yesterday I asked them all this question:

Laurel Russwurm
What are you doing to compensate for the fact that the only “All Candidates Meetings” held in Kitchener-Conestoga were held in venues inaccessible to Public Transit?

I do understand that time is short, and social networking is anything but universally adopted. It takes time to master, and there is an election to run. So I don’t hold it against the two candidates who have not yet responded. Still, the responses I did receive were interesting.

First, I need to mention that I included the link to my Voter Apathy article with the question, as I felt it provided background on the disenfranchisement of voters. And three of the four candidate facebook pages allowed the link to be posted.

The only one that didn’t was Harold Albrecht’s. His Facebook page is also the only one that does not allow visitors/fans to initiate content. So the only way to post my question was to attach it to an existing Harold Albrecht status as a comment. So I did.

Imagine my surprise when someone other than Harold Albrecht responded for Mr. Albrecht. This is the exchange:

Laurel Russwurm
What are you doing to compensate for the fact that the only “All Candidates Meetings” held in Kitchener-Conestoga were held in venues inaccessible to Public Transit?

Jeff Chatterton
Laurel – Harold is no more to blame for All-Candidates Meeting locations than you or I. He simply goes where the meeting is held, he doesn’t organize them.

Laurel Russwurm
I asked what he will do to compensate for the fact no “All Candidates Meetings” are being held in transit accessible venues. How is he reaching out to the citizens that rely on public transit?

Greg McLean
Harold, your re-election office is less than 2km’s to my neighbourhood. Haven’t seen you or any or your team door-knocking.. how come?

Harold Albrecht
‎@Laurel, I’m reaching out to citizens with or without access to public transit the same ways: advertising, doorknocking, a website, this facebook page, and participating in All-Candidates’ Meetings. As was noted above, I do not control w…ho invites me to attend ACM’s.

@ Greg, it may be that we’ve knocked on your door and missed you, or it may be that we haven’t reached your neighborhood yet. It’s physically impossible for me to meet in person at the doorstep with the 100,000+ citizens I’m privileged to represent, but as the thousands of people I’ve had the privilege to meet during this campaign will attest, I’m trying my best.

Thank you both for your questions.

Harold Albrecht’s Facebook Page

At the time I received the defensive answer from Jeff Chatterton I had no idea who he was. Possibly a zealous Albrecht booster, but more likely a staffer. Having discovered he was Harold Albrecht’s “former campaign manager,” the speed and firmness of his defensive response makes me seriously wonder how “former” his association with Harold Albrecht really is.

The other response I got was from the NDP candidate, Lorne Bruce.

Laurel Russwurm
What are you doing to compensate for the fact that the only “All Candidates Meetings” held in Kitchener-Conestoga were held in venues inaccessible to Public Transit?

Lorne Bruce
Laurel, I understand how you feel about this issue. Many of my campaign staff use transit as well. Because we do not plan these all candidates meetings we have very little say in where they are held. The best we can and have been doing is organizing car pools for those who do not drive. There is one debate left in New Hamburg on Tuesday. If you would like us to try and arrange a carpool give us a call or email @ 519-569-4040 ndp@kcndp.ca and we will do our best.

Lorne Bruce Facebook Page

It was refreshing to hear someone wasn’t making excuses, but putting an effort into addressing the inequity.

All in all, I am left feeling quite disturbed about the way this election is being run.

Why are business associations and media special interests allowed to dictate the course of the election process?

It is disturbing that previous governments have granted so much unaccountable power to corporations. They have put in place election rules and legislation that allows this undemocratic manipulation. If these practices continue, we are likely to end up with some new form of corporate feudalism. Personally, I’d rather see a restoration of democracy.

The Conservatives and Liberals are more concerned with attacking each other than Canada’s problems.

Perhaps because they are responsible for many of them.

Four Canadian political parties have fielded enough candidates to form the 41st Federal Government. I think it is time for a change.

Don’t you?

Conservative NDP Green and Liberal logos



[note: Public figures and their staff are fair dealing to quote particularly during an election; private citizens, however, are not.   I have included Greg McLean’s permission to include his question, which I thought particularly germane to the Voter Apathy issue.]

Image Credits
Gilles Duceppe on the Campaign Trail with Berard Bigras photo by davehuehn under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) License

Jack Layton photo by Matt Jiggins

Elizabeth May photo by Grant Neufeld, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.5) License

“Applause” cc by laurelrusswurm

All political logos reproduced as fair dealing.

Unspeakable: Tom Flanagan and #WikiLeaks

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Canadian Flag
Once a nation honored for our commitment to peacekeeping, today Canada’s international reputation is in tatters thanks to Tom Flanagan.
EVERY Canadian needs to see this CBC interview video clip. You can watch it on YouTube:

Or watch the OGG conversion I’ve made for Gnu/Linux users and anyone else who doesn’t use Flash:
http://russwurm.org/hostess/Unspeakable.ogv.

Tom Flanagan, described by Wikipedia as a “political scientist”, a man who previously served as Canadian Prime Minister Harper’s Chief of Staff, characterized by the Walrus as The Man Behind Stephen Harper, is currently employed as a Professor by the University of Calgary. Far from being a media novice, Flanagan has run federal political campaigns.

Yet this week Professor Flanagan said the unspeakable live on air in the CBC’s Power & Politics interview.

Canadian Flag droops in shame

“I think Assange should be assassinated, actually, [laughs], I think Obama should put out a contract or maybe use a drone or something.”

—Professor Tom Flanagan, CBC’s Power & Politics interview, November 30th, 2010

CBC Interviewer Evan Solomon tried very hard to give Professor Flanagan the opportunity to backpedal, but instead of retracting or making light of his statement, Flanagan reiterated it:

“I woudn’t be unhappy if Assange disappeared.”

—Professor Tom Flanagan, CBC’s Power & Politics interview, November 30th, 2010

It is one thing for ordinary citizens to discuss the pros and cons of the #Cablegate issue, or even to think this is a reasonable response to #WikiLeaks. It is quite something else for a man with such close connections to the Canadian Government to advocate assassination.

This from a man saying that WikiLeaks is irresponsible. But what Wikileaks does is bring government and corporate malfeasance under public scrutiny. Professor Flanagan advocated assassination as a valid method for government to handle opposition. Not a method I would connect with democratic government.

Wikipedia on Tom Flanagan:

Flanagan is often described as a member of the “Calgary School,” which is a small group of conservatively inclined professors at the University of Calgary, including Barry Cooper, David Bercuson, F.L. (Ted) Morton, and Rainer Knopff.[18] He is also a Senior Fellow of the Fraser Institute and a founder and former president of Civitas, a national conservative discussion society in Canada.

Terrorists assassinate people with opposing viewpoints.

Julian Assange speaking at podium at New Media Days 2009

Who is Julian Assange?

Julian Assange is a man on Time Magazine’s shortlist for “Person of the Year” because of his dedication to the concept of government transparency. He created the WikiLeaks website.

What is Wikileaks?

WikiLeaks is a website that publishes “leaked” documents, making the “secret” information available to anyone who cares to read the information online.

Wikileaks makes information that governments want suppressed available to citizens. WikiLeaks publishes information that is “leaked” by concerned citizens with access to this information. Citizens concerned by paths and actions their governments are taking. Government Policies that are being undertaken in secret.

democracy?

I believe that the reason for making these things known is to allow the public the opportunity to form an opinion. Perhaps I am naïve, but I think that is eminently reasonable in a democratic nation. Transparency and dissent must exist in a democracy. If they don’t, democracy hasn’t got a prayer.

Tom Flanagan is/was an unelected Canadian power broker who may or may not have the ear of the Canadian Government. As an ordinary Canadian I have no way of knowing. What I do know is that he is employed to impart his wisdom to some of Canada’s brightest young minds at the University of Calgary.

history?

His statements are not only overwhelmingly arrogant, they embody “above the law” thinking.

I would think that someone who actually teaches political science at the university level would have at least a nodding acquaintance with the cautionary tale of Thomas Becket, and appreciate the danger of anyone in public life making such statements. That was, after all, one of the classic political gaffes in recorded history.

Clearly, the public outcry following these irresponsible statements was enough to convince Professor Flanagan to recant. And today he

regrets his “glib comment”

CBC: Flanagan regrets WikiLeaks assassination remark

But because of Tom Flanagan’s strong ties with the Canadian government, his words and statements ring with far more authority than that of the average Canadian history professor. His words taint Canada’s international reputation.

At the very least, this calls for strong government censure. Perhaps even criminal charges. Does Canada actually support assassinating whistle blowers?

The Canadian Government must speak up.

As a Canadian I am appalled.

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

You can subscribe to the Wikileaks feed on Identi.ca wikileaks2, or folloe @wikileakson Twitter.

The WikiLeaks website has been suffering problems,possibly friom huge traffic, possibly from a DDoS attacks.
You can also attempt to access Cablegate cables directly, but of course that site is also having problems.

Keep trying.



Credits:
Julian Assange at New Media Days 2009 Photo by New Media Days / Peter Erichsen
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (cc-by-sa)
Canadian Flag CC-by lothlaurien.ca

OGG conversion via TinyOgg

NOTE: The original video I linked to has been taken down; so I’ve replaced it with another copy of the same.

Human Rights and the TSA

with 6 comments

Embossed United Nations symbol engraved or etched on white on a copper colored plaque,

United Nations HQ, behind the podium, General Assembly Hall

The United States is signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I would think that should afford their citizens a reasonable expectation that the American Government would take these human rights into account when drafting government policy.

Before stripping these inalienable rights from citizens.

Of course I’m not a lawyer.
I’m just a mom.
A person.
But I can read.
And watch Youtube.
(At least as long as I can afford it… until Usage Based Billing is implemented.)

What is happening under government auspices at TSA (Transit Security Administration) checkpoints in airports across the United States is wrong.

At best, the “BS Scanners” are an invasion of privacy, at worst, a serious health risk.

Clearly what is being done to citizens by the TSA contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Here, for your information, is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting some of the bits both the American Government and the TSA need to remember:

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the full text of which appears in the following pages. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and “to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories.”

PREAMBLE
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, therefore,

The General Assembly

Proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

  • Article 1
    All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
  • Article 2
    Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
  • Article 3
    Everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of person.
  • Article 4
    No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
  • Article 5
    No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  • Article 6
    Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
  • Article 7
    All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against all types of discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to any form of discrimination.
  • Article 8
    Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
  • Article 9
    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
  • Article 10
    Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
  • Article 11
    (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
    (2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.
  • Article 12
    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
  • Article 13
    (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.
    (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
  • Article 14
    (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
    (2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
  • Article 15
    (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
    (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.
  • Article 16
    (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
    (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
    (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
  • Article 17
    (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
    (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
  • Article 18
    Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
  • Article 19
    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
  • Article 20
    (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
    (2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
  • Article 21
    (1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
    (2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
  • Article 22
    Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.
  • Article 23
    (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
    (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
    (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
    (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
  • Article 24
    Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
  • Article 25
    (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
    (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
  • Article 26
    (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
    (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
    (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
  • Article 27
    (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
    (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
  • Article 28
    Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.
  • Article 29
    (1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
    (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
    (3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
  • Article 30
    Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights Wikipedia

a live turkey with the stars and stripes flying overhead

To my American friends
and family:

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope none of you need to fly.

 

Additional Resources:
The United Nations Association in Canada: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Guide

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations



Credits:
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is excerpted from an official document of the United Nations. The policy of this organization is to keep most of its documents in the public domain in order to disseminate “as widely as possible the ideas (contained) in the United Nations Publications”.

UN crest photo by Sunil Garg on Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License

Vintage Thanksgiving Greeting Card licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC by-nd) License by riptheskull on Flickr

What is Activism?

with 3 comments

Activism is an incredibly broad term that can mean many things to many people.

Activism consists of intentional action to bring about social, political, economic, or environmental change.

This action is in support of, or opposition to, one side of an often controversial argument. In contemporary use, “activism” tends to be a word associated with the actions and ideologies of those on the political left.

The word “activism” is used synonymously with protest or dissent, but activism can take a wide range of forms from writing letters to newspapers or politicians, political campaigning, economic activism such as boycotts or preferentially patronizing businesses, rallies, street marches, strikes, both sit-ins and hunger strikes, or even guerrilla tactics.”

Wikipedia: Activism

Of course, you can’t always believe what you read. Just because something is in print does not necessarily mean it is true or accurate, whether in a book, a newspaper or a web page. Wikipedia is certainly in error in conflating “violent revolutionary activities” with Malcolm X, who was himself non-violent like the majority of activists. It was only after Malcolm X was assasinated that his followers turned to “violent revolutionary activities.”

I’ve never met Byron Sonne, and only heard about him recently. The publication ban means what I know about it is limited to what has already been published. Which may or may not be true. Still, there is enough there in the public record to cause me concern, which is why I’ve written a couple of blog posts about it.

One of the comments posted to my first article Silencing Online Activism: From “Officer Bubbles” to “Free Byron” states emphatically that:

Byron Sonne is in jail because he purchased TATP explosives over the internet deliberately to provoke the police into arresting him. “

—BelchSpeak commenting on Silencing Online Activism: From “Officer Bubbles” to “Free Byron.”

If Mr. BelchSpeak is correct, that would certainly qualify Mr. Sonne’s actions as being political. Which would be an act of political activism. The objective of that type of activism is to challenge laws and the legal system.

When I attempted to point that out to Mr. BelchSpeak, he didn’t seem to understand what I was saying, which is why I’ve written this post to explain it a little better.

In itself, buying explosives is not activism.

farming

Explosives may be bought to blow up the large stump and root system that makes half your field unusable. That’s farming, not activism.

Explosives might be bought to blow the door off a safe. (An excellent Parker story springs to mind…) That’s criminal activity, not activism.

Explosives were bought to drop out of Lancaster Bombers on Nazi Germany in the second world war. That was an act of war, not activism.

Explosives might be bought to create pyrotechnic special effects in Raiders of the Lost Arc. That’s special effects, not activism.

Explosives are sometimes bought to blow up symbolic buildings as a means of attempting to intimidate governments into doing things they otherwise would not do. That’s terrorism, not activism.

Fireworks with title text reading community

Explosives are bought to create community fireworks displays in communities across Canada on Victoria Day or Canada Day. That’s community spirit, not activism.

Explosives can also be bought to set off in back yards, although they are often used inappropriately and too often one hears stories of children harming themselves, sometimes even losing body parts or causing damage when using these fireworks without adequate supervision. That’s foolishness, not activisim.

But if explosives are bought for the express purpose of provoking the police, that would in fact be activism. Explosives purchased to expose flaws in G8/G20 Summit Security arrangements, with the intent of ridiculing the authorities, in the hope of encouraging them to not hold the G8/G20 Summit here now, or any in the future, would certainly qualify as activism, because it would be “intentional action to bring about social, political, economic, or environmental change”

Again, I have no way of knowing if it’s true or not, I’m simply basing this on what BelchSpeak said.

But if it is true, it would mean Byron Sonne is an unlikely flight risk. Because this type of activism is done in order to challenge, draw attention to and hopefully change societal and legal inequities.

Mr. Sonne had a well ordered and comfortable life. He owned a business, a beautiful home, had strong community ties. People aren’t often willing to jeopardize those things unless they fee very strongly about an issue. Usually that the risk is warranted if there is a chance that wrongs can be righted. The last thing that Byron Sonne would be is a flight risk, since because having a day in court would be the point.

People accused of murder are routinely released on bail. Bail is granted if they are not considered a danger to others or a flight risk. Accused people are allowed to resume their normal lives while preparing for a trial date which may be years in the future. An accusation is not a conviction, and in the eyes of the law, people accused of crimes are considered innocent until they are proven guilty. Even convicted felons are sometimes subject to serve a sentence of “House Arrest” or “Work Release.”

I do not pretend to have all the facts. I don’t know what Byron Sonne actually did.  The point is that the charges brought against him could be very broadly interpreted.

The facts that I do have are that Byron Sonne has been charged, but not convicted of anything. Unless and until he is actually convicted of anything, he should not have to serve years in jail.

So if what Mr. BelchSpeak wrote is true, it would mean that Byron Sonne is neither dangerous or a flight risk, Byron Sonne’s denial of bail would itself be a serious miscarriage of justice.

Because it would mean that his bail was denied as a punishment.

Free Byron

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

October 22, 2010 at 7:57 pm

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