The Harper Government is rushing the so called “Fair Elections Act” 242-page Omnibus Bill through the House of Commons at breakneck speed. The sweeping changes this ill advised draft legislation seeks to implement are raising alarms among Canadians about the future of Canadian democracy.
Conservative Senator Mike Duffy’s idea of “expenses” is a little different than mine.
Meanwhile, the Senate’s internal economy committee wants to have another look at Duffy’s expense claims amid growing questions about his conduct, including new revelations that he filed claims for Senate business while campaigning for the Conservatives in the last federal election.
“Documents revealed that Duffy billed taxpayers for being on official Senate business while he was campaigning for the Conservatives during the 2011 federal election. If it is confirmed that Duffy attended eight campaign events and submitted Senate expenses, he could be in trouble for double-billing.”
I’m always surprised when government tells us “throwing money at” education and health care are a bad idea. Properly funding social programs makes a lot more sense to me than covering up bad behaviour. I guess we just have different priorities.
[Pamela] Wallin, a former journalist who now represents Saskatchewan in the Senate, has claimed about $321,000 in travel expenses since September 2010 that are the subject of an audit by an outside firm.
Coping with a $10-million federal budget cut, Caron oversaw major staff downsizing to the department, reduced funding to scores of tiny archives across Canada, halted most acquisitions of historical artifacts, closed the National Archival Development Program, and stopped a system of inter-library loans through which Canadians could access material from its vast collections.
Canada badly needs meaningful electoral reform. If we had a democratic system that actually represented Canadians ~ Proportional Representation ~ our government representatives and appointees could be held accountable.
“The economy is in good shape, so why is support for the Conservatives slumping?”
I’m making Mother’s Day cards right now so I don’t have time to read the article, but even having only read the blurb, I find myself disagreeing with Andrew Coyne’s conclusion.
The Tories have not gone out of their way to alienate anyone. They are simply doing the job they were elected to do.
The Harper governmenr is doing an excellent job of serving the only constituents they represent. Their party is legally empowered to govern in this way because our inequitable winner-take-all electoral system gives all of the power to the party that secures more seats than any other.
Ours is not a democratic system.
The problem with a winner-take-all system like ours is that a majority government is a dictatorship.
The rest of us don’t count any more than our votes do.
That is the reality built into Canada’s winner-take-all electoral system.
Only the elite whose votes elect the government secure representation in government.
The electoral reform Andrew Coyne supports is called “Alternative Vote” ~ although various spin doctors have rebranded it “Preferential Voting” (Liberal Party) or “IRV” (RaBIT). Some people like this alternate winner-take-all electoral system because they believe it will game the system so their party will get the dictatorial power currently enjoyed by the ruling party.
No matter how good the intentions, no matter how benevolent, a dictatorship is not democratic. Every time I hear people slamming Canadians for our low voter turnout it makes my blood boil. It isn’t that Canadians don’t care, it’s that each generation has learned that our elections are as meaningless as the elections in any banana republic.
When most votes don’t count, what you’re left with is really only democracy theatre.
I don’t think we can afford to pay the price demanded by anyone’s defacto dictatorship.
On this Mother’s Day, I reflect on why I write this blog: as a mother, I believe all of our kids deserve to live in a real democracy. But that will only happen with meaningful electoral reform to Proportional Representation.
All Canadians should be represented by our government.
Byron Sonne’s trial resumed today. Without being there, I can only rely on the reports of others. I wasn’t going to write anything about this today, but I couldn’t believe the National Post’s attempt to spin the story with a headline:
Accused G20 plotter Byron Sonne had training manual for activists,’ court hears
The word “plotter” does not appear once in the Criminal Code of Canada so there is little doubt in my mind that the use of such a pejorative word is a clear indication of the newspaper publisher’s bias.
1. YOU DON’T HAVE TO TALK TO THE POLICE OR
INVESTIGATORS. You do not have to talk to them on
the street, if you’ve been arrested, or even if you’re in
jail. Do not talk about illegal actions with fellow “in-
mates” in holding as they may be plants.
2. YOU DON’T HAVE TO LET CSIS OR THE POLICE
INTO YOUR HOME OR OFFICE UNLESS THEY
HAVE A SEARCH OR ARREST WARRANT. Demand
to see the warrant. It must specificallydescribe the
place to be searched and things to be seized. It must
be authorized by a judge and should bear a signature.
3. IF THE POLICE DO PRESENT A WARRANT, YOU
DO NOT HAVE TO TELL THEM ANYTHING OTHER
THAN YOU NAME, ADDRESS AND BIRTH DATE.
Carefully observe the officers; you’re in your own
home you’re not required to stay in one room. You
should take written notes of what they do, their
names, badge numbers, and what agency they’re
from. Have friends who are present act as witnesses.
It’s risky to let cops roam around alone in your place.
4. IF THE POLICE TRY TO QUESTION YOU OR TRY
TO ENTER YOUR HOME WITHOUT A WARRANT,
JUST SAY NO. The police are very skilled at getting
information from people, so attempting to outwit them
is very risky. You can never tell how a seemingly
harmless bit of information can hurt you or someone
These are all explanations of our Canadian civil rights — rights that are supposed to be guaranteed to all citizens under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The thing that bothers me most about the National Post article is the implication that this is a dangerous document. That there is something unsavory about citizens knowing what our right are. Now that scares me.
“If we don’t assert our rights there’s really no point in having rights.”
The other thing I’ve read are today’s trial notes taken by Byron’s friend Christopher Olah. Reading this is far more illuminating than the “professional” reporting in the National Post.
The police evidence is that Byron uploaded a file called “Security Culture: a handbook for activists,” but as it turns out, no one actually downloaded this (or any of the other files?) Byron is said to have uploaded to torrent sites.
Yet it is ridiculously easy to change a digital file name. Any can save a document and call it anything.
Even had this been a dangerous file, if the police didn’t actually download it, the only thing this “evidence” shows is that Byron uploaded digital files with these names. There is no evidence that the files actually contained the named documents — they could as easily contain love poetry for all anyone knows.
Which means that this “evidence” is supposition, not fact. But it gets worse…
Apparently the prosecution offered the explanation that they could not download the document because doing so would be copyright infringement.
This “handbook” is clearly a collaborative effort that various people and organizations have worked on over time. If anyone involved in the creation of the thing had given any thought to copyright, it would likely have been to give it a creative commons license, or even more probably released it directly into the public domain. That’s what you do when you want to disseminate something widely. Copyright prevents sharing.
But really, even if the document was in fact “protected” by copyright, this is one of the lamest excuses I have ever heard.
When the police bust criminals, they must gather evidence. If they apprehend alleged drug dealers, they collect illegal drugs they find. If the police arrest suspected gun runners, they take possession of the guns. And these are both examples of breaches of criminal law. There are fair dealing exemptions under Canadian law that allow copying of copyright material. It is absurd to think that downloading material that may be covered by copyright in the course of evidence gathering is going to be considered infringement, any more than gathering up baggies of cocaine at a crack house are considered criminal “possession.” This is evidence gathering.
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.”
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. ”
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?
“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.
I was shocked when I first learned that the biggest Canadian advertising clients were our government and political parties.
Why is that, I wonder.
How much time, energy and money do our political parties and governments spend on advertising?
Why do they do it?
Because it works.
Because a commercial advertisement is short fast and compelling. Its why corporations advertise. The more money spent on advertising, the more product you can sell. In this case, the greater the chance of being re-elected, or the more votes your party gets.
Part I: The Government and Advertising
Public Works and Government Services Canada handles advertising at the Federal level. Government advertising as a means of public notification is one thing. Advertising as a means of “selling” something to the electorate is something else again.
It offends me that my tax dollars are used by my government to “sell” their policies and ideas to me.
Governments should not HAVE to buy advertising… if any level of government has something to say, the media will cover it. That’s called “news”.
If it is a good and useful policy presented it in a reasonable way through the news media or on government websites or through mailings should be sufficient.
I don’t want my tax dollars squandered on glitzy commercials with sound bites or pretty print ads designed to gull me into thinking what they want me to think.
There are far better uses for this money.
Health Care for instance.
Think about it. If the Canadian government wasn’t squandering all those tax dollars trying to sell Canadians things we don’t want, they would save a ridiculous amount of money. They wouldn’t need PST/GST “Harmonization” to generate the extra income they are about to start wringing out of taxpayers, instead of adding yet more tax to beleaguered taxpayers during a recession the unspent advertising dollars could be used instead.
Using advertising to sell us policies we don’t want is bad enough (a practice often called “propaganda”) but the absolute worst is that that our government is using our tax dollars to sell us political parties.
The first egregious example of this I saw was the Ontario road construction signs during the Mike Harris government of the 1990’s. All the construction signs did double duty by advertising Mike Harris and the Conservative government. Adding his name to those signs turned information dissemination into partisan advertising – paid for by taxpayers.
That is down right wrong. Of course, Premier Mike Harris had a majority government af the time so there was no stopping it.
[One more reason I dislike majority government.]
Instead of censuring this bad policy, it seems that succeeding politicians have emulated and even “improved” on the model.
Just last year Prime Minister Stephen Harper had the Conservative Party Logo imprinted on Government of Canada grant disbursement cheques. Is this simply a case of misrepresentation? A Conservative party attempt to make the recipients think the finds disbursed were given thanks to Conservative Party largess? If so this is certainly False Advertising. The only legitimate way for the Conservative party logo to be on a cheque would be if the cheque was drawn from a Conservative Party bank account.
Or perhaps Prime Minister Stephen Harper is unable to distinguish between Conservative Party funds and Government of Canada funds. If the latter perhaps the RCMP ought to be considering investigating Conservative Party finances to ensure Canadian government funds have not been spent inappropriately.
It’s bad enough crediting a political party with government works, but it is even slimier to affix their partisan info to public works projects that predate their authority. They are not only advertising, but FALSE advertising — with our tax dollars! I discovered this example in the Hill Times: Sheila Copps: Optics of Conservative cheque scheme dodgy.
Conservative blogger Stephen Taylor counters by harking back to similar Liberal Party shenanigans perpetrated by the Liberal Party under Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. Taylor is only one of many to defend the policy by pointing out the Liberals did this as well. I link to Stephen Taylor‘s blog since he includes the National Post story no longer online.
I am horrified that none of these very smart people seem to get the point.
The point here is NOT that since the Liberals did it when they were in power it makes it OK for the Conservatives to do it when they form the government.
The real point is that it was never OK.
It doesn’t matter who does it.
It is ALWAYS wrong.
[An anti-party person like myself might point out this is just another example of Liberal and Conservative party similarity. They truly are interchangeable.]
The thing is, the government should not be selling Canadians political parties.
Tax dollars are non-partisan. Using them for partisan aggrandizement is at best a misuse of public funds.
If I ran the Zoo er Country…
I would slash the advertising budget. Because the only advertising our tax dollars should pay for is advertising to inform Canadians, not to “sell” us.
That’s what I would do if I ran the zoo country.
Write to your Member of Parliament and tell them what you think about premature prorogation or anything else! You can find your MP with this lovely link – it will also help you find out who your MP is if you don’t know. It’s time that Canadians started letting them know what we think about how they represent us. Find your Member of Parliament
The government gives more weight to postal mail: you can mail your comments without a stamp!!:
The Right Hon. Stephen Joseph Harper, P.C., B.A., M.A.
1600 90th Avenue Southwest, suite A-203
Canada badly needs electoral reform. Take a peek at the Non-Partisan Fair Vote Canada site to get information some ideas of electoral reform. All Canadians need to join in these non-partisan discussions.