Saturday, December 15, 2012

Premiers Goal to Increase CPP both Pragmatic and Desirable

Flaherty said Friday the federal government is concerned about increasing CPP contributions at the current time because it would slap an additional financial burden on employers during fragile economic times, potentially threatening their ability to hire workers. The federal government can’t unilaterally change the CPP; amending it requires the backing of two-thirds of the provinces representing two-thirds of the population. “This is not the time to put another burden on employers and dampen employment prospects for Canadians. That’s my view. Not everyone agrees with that view,” Flaherty told reporters Friday in Ottawa.

Notice that Flaherty’s concern is the employer, the boss, the corporation, not the worker and certainly not the average Canadian whom most of the premiers actually want to help: “It is estimated six in 10 Canadian workers in the private sector have no private pension plan, while approximately only one-third of Canadians make contributions to registered retirement savings plans.” So far the premiers outnumber Flaherty and have the constitution on their side, and their goal is both pragmatic and desirable given the other pension options.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Precedent Setting Nature of the Robocalls Case is the Legal Issue

In my view, the outcome of this case hinges on the nature of any legal precedent that could be set by a final ruling. Judge Richard Mosley is no doubt fully aware of this possibility. In that respect, I don’t think the six ridings in question will be getting new elections. And here’s why.

In order for the results in these ridings to be set aside and a new election called, the plaintiffs must prove that they were electorally disenfranchised. I think this is the real and only burden of proof. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that there was indeed a systematic, patterned effort to prevent people from voting in many riding, but all of the plaintiffs before the court did in fact vote despite these efforts. This was one of Hamilton’s key argument yesterday, and it’s persuasive.  None of the eight plaintiffs was disenfranchised - which doesn’t mean other people in these particular ridings and others weren’t, but those other people are not before the court. It would be difficult for any judge, in other words, to set a precedent for setting aside an election on the basis that there was an effort to prevent some constituents from voting. Some concrete evidence that someone actually was would seem to be required. Had the plaintiffs themselves standing before Judge Mosley actually been prevented, a precedent setting ruling could be made with some legal comfort.
Just something to think about, but maybe Judge Mosley will fool us all.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

This will be the Regime's Primary Alibi followed by the EU crisis when the Canadian Economy Sinks into Recession

Canada faces near-recession if U.S. plunges over ‘cliff,’ Carney warns 

“Carney warns of risk from U.S. Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney has warned that a failure by U.S. politicians to reach a new budget agreement before time runs out would push Canada close to another recession… the bank warned that Canadi
ans are still borrowing at a faster pace than their disposable income, making them more vulnerable if they lose their jobs or home prices tumble. The ratio of household debt to gross domestic product now stands at a record high 163 per cent, up from 161.5.”

Let us not forget, however, that the Canadian economy in and of itself has not been managed well by this extreme neoliberal government that has consistently placed investors, the financial sector, natural resource exports, and free trade before the real industrial domestic economy. wage fairness, and job creation for the middle and working classes. A 163% household debt/GDP ratio is also indeed worrisome as is the fact that whatever equity most Canadians have is inextricably bound to their still mortgaged houses. Get ready.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Neoliberal Privatizing of School-yard Play

Capitalism Reaches its Ugly Claw into Recess

This is appalling:  capitalist invasion by way of neoliberal privatising of playtime at recess and noon. Isn't it bad enough that we have a class division for families outside the school yard between the haves and the have-nots?   Do we have  to commodify and commoditize our children and their playtime so intrusively in the name of capitalist enterprise too, thereby creating - because of their young age - a powerful ideologically conditioned class system at the childhood level? Class is already everywhere for a child in our neoliberal world. Why enhance it. Rise up, parents.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Reading Economic Health into the Recent StatsCan Jobs Data is An Exercise in Fantasy

Reading Economic Health into the Recent StatsCan Jobs Data is An Exercise in Fantasy

Here’s the reality in that data:

1) As Derek Holt points out, there is no hours worked increase. That remains static. But it is hours worked that “drive incomes, not body count.” Holt speculates that the already employed are working fewer hours, and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest such a situation is probable.

2) The so-called new jobs have not increased labour productivity one iota. There is, in other words, no output growth, no real economic growth resulting from job increases.

3) All the job increases were in the low paying service sector, while jobs in both manufacturing and construction decreased significantly.

The Canadian economy under the weak neoliberal stewardship of the arrogant Harper Regime continues to stagnate, and, as a result, while the 1-10% continues to live well, the middle and working class suffer. A global economic implosion is on its way, and, given the average debt load of Canadians, we will be hit hard when that happens.


Job Gains too Good to be true:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Agonizing Challenge of Voting in 2015

"If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal." - Emma Goldman

There's been much talk of late about uniting the main opposition parties in some sort of delusional effort to defeat the Harper Regime come the next faux election either as a one-time strategic plan or by way of a more long term relationship.  Here's a reality check for those fantasizing about such a possibility.

1) First of all, not one of the parties is really progressively left, though all three like to spin that they are when it suits them, especially if they espouse support for social programs. Every single one of them unequivocally subscribes in varying degrees to the core neoliberal tenet of market fundamentalism, continuing to promote implicitly through policy the financialization of the economy at the expense of the real productive economy, though the latter is  occasionally paid due lip service.  Practising politics within the neoliberal bubble disqualifies them immediately in my mind.

The LPC has always been neoliberal (remember the austerity programs of the 90s?), and so it could be said - perhaps ironically - that the LPC is less reprehensible than, say, the NDP with its major shift away from traditional progressive thinking to the centre during Layton's reign and now its bold shift to right of centre with Mulcair and all his talk of "free trade," "polluter pays" mechanisms (internalizing "externalities") of "sustainable development" (an oxymoron if there ever was one), and sanctioning of the tar sands under the right conditions. This is spun as modernizing the party of course, but it’s really about swinging votes. The GPC seems, at first glance, to be the most progressive, but a closer look reveals that its so-called green economy policies are really green-washing of good old market based solutions, a strategy recognized long ago by Naomi Klein among others. (Cap and trade - with which each party has flirted at one time or another - is of course another form, albeit diluted, of green-washing grounded in market fundamentalism.)

At best, then, the opposition parties can offer only a tinkering with a system that needs to be completely transformed. No one
, so far as I can see, can even offer serious reform let alone the major transformation required aside from a less than satisfactory motion adopted at a GPC convention to restore the Bank of Canada partially to its original function but apparently with a series of inhibiting attached caveats.

2) Then there is the party dynamic itself to consider. How can one support, as Vaughan Lyon in his book Power Shift reminds us, any party given the deep partyocracy of all the parties whereby party discipline has eroded the very core of Parliament as an institution? What kind of power does an individual MP really have as a representative of a constituency or as a conscientious individual? Can anyone honestly say we have vigorous, honest debate and discussions in standing committees, cabinet, caucus, or question period? Is parliament only a divisive, adversarial cock pit? Can anyone honestly say that MPs themselves are really doing anything about this horrendous democratic deficit in our key political institution that is supposed to express the will of the people except mouthing off to the media occasionally from within their own partisan party bubbles? I mean, seriously, does anyone, aside from political junkies, really pay that much attention any more aside from the poor journalists and talk show types who are obliged to cover this pathetic mockery of parliamentary democracy?

3) So called representational government is failing us in the context of  increasingly irrelevant, dysfunctional parliamentary and party systems, but it is also failing us in terms of real democratic representation. What's fair, what’s democratic, about a first-past-the-post system in which an unsubstantial  majority - achieved only because of a faulty riding distribution system - can exclude the representational values of the rest of those who voted? What's the direct pay-off for our vote? What’s the incentive to vote?  Next to nothing unless you're a member of the winning team. Yet people continue to vote out of some sense of moral obligation even though, if they really thought about it for a minute, they would realize it’s like playing the lotto numbers.

Despite its messy challenges, proportional representation as an electoral system whereby power is distributed through negotiations and coalitions based on a share of the vote is clearly far more democratically representational than our current electoral sham, but don't expect any party with power - namely, the big three - to push for it any time soon. For them, party power and its substantial perks come first.

4)  In terms of fundamental democratic representation, then, the electoral system itself is deeply flawed, but so too is the structure of riding distribution on which it sits whereby the less densely populated rural ridings of Canada, especially in Ontario, carry as much representational weight as those ridings in urban and suburban areas that have much higher populations.  Such a disparity favours the Harper Regime of course because these rural ridings tend to be politically dominated by C/conservative old white bread men who on a daily basis read the Sun newspapers (distributed freely in such establishments as McDonalds and Tim Hortons) and never miss the radio talk shows. There are also a considerable numbers of the 10% of Canadians who are evangelicals in these ridings too, a major strategic component, as Yves Engler reminds us, of Harper's voting base. And since the Regime, being good little neoliberals, treats voter constituencies as strategic marketing targets, this demographic and the conservative immigrant "ethnic" market of the suburbs, now enhanced with the proposed riding expansions, are key marketing terrains for growing another Regime victory.

And so it will be very difficult for real progressives to participate in the next election without some sort of moral compromise.  So what does one do? Vote while holding one's nose, absent oneself from the system and not vote at all, continue protesting in various ways from outside, or begin the process of hollowing out from within somehow? Action of some sort is required. Apathy and indifference are not options, for they play significantly into the Regime’s hands - a Regime which continues to wear us down day after day with an extraordinary accumulation of appalling actions. Some days one can be forgiven for speculating  that the daily grinding down is a strategy in and of itself.

Illegitimi non carborundum


1) As Engler suggests, the rationale for Canada’s defense of Israel right or wrong is less to woo the 1.3% potential Jewish Canadian voters than the evangelicals, who have a deep ideological stake in the preservation of Israel as the “Holy Land.”

2) Interesting to note the following about the four party leaders: Harper is a former Alliance and before that a Reform party member, Ray  a former provincial and presumably at the time federal NDP member, Mulcair a former provincial Liberal MPP, and May may have been a Progressive Conservative during the Mulroney era.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A short quiz on the US, Israel, and 'rogue nation' status | Glenn Greenwald | Comment is free |

A short quiz on the US, Israel, and 'rogue nation' status | Glenn Greenwald | Comment is free |

"...So essentially, it's the entire planet on one side, versus the US, its new right-wing poodle to the north, Israel, and three tiny, bribed islands on the other side.
If you're a member in good standing of the Washington-based US foreign policy community, then the way you describe these matters is as follows: "the international community stands by Israel and supports its position" - because, in that warped, self-affirming world, "international community" is a synonym for "US dictates".
But for those fortunate enough to reside outside of that realm of intense imperial propaganda: who is actually opposed to the consensus of the international community here? In other words, who are the real 'rogue nations'?"

Canada as the U.S.’s new right-wing poodle, not the pit bull John Baird’s delusionally thinks it is - woof, woof - and Canada as a “rogue nation.” Anyone got Dick Cheney’s phone number?

Harper Regime Has Lost All Credibility on Foreign Affairs Period, Not Just the Middle East

"...Israel’s announcement on the settlements was widely criticized by Canada’s European allies, and even the United States, which voted with Canada and Israel against the motion to grant non-voting observer state status to the Palestinians, urged Israel to “reconsider” its decision on the settlements on Monday. Baird did not comment when asked Tuesday morning about the move. Roth also said Fantino would review Canada’s funding to the Palestinians for humanitarian and security projects. “We intend to, by and large, see these projects through. The relevant minister will, as a matter of course, as they do on all matters, review the path forward once the projects have been successfully completed,” the spokesman said in an email to media outlets Tuesday. Canada’s five-year, $300-million commitment formally expires at the end of the current fiscal year, in March. The money goes toward strengthening the Palestinian justice system, private sector economic development and health and education assistance." Canada considers next steps after Palestinian vote

No one expected a balanced perspective from the Harper Regime - essentially a group of high school boys with a pathological streak playing  games with peoples’ real lives. The veiled threat of future reprisals is still there in the subtext as the Harper Regime works actively and ideologically against peace in the Middle East. The Regime lacks credibility on foreign Affairs period. Actually, the Regime lacks credibility on everything. What can I say. It’s appalling, and it shames me as a Canadian.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

#Palestine| #Israel to advance east Jerusalem building plans

 Palestine | Israel to advance east Jerusalem building plans

Why? Because for Israel, suffering from cognitive dissonance, as Shir Hever has said, the rest of the world does not matter.  Because it knows it can pretty well do what it wants with impunity other than the occasional verbal scolding and a few diplomatic recalls. Viewing Israel fundamentally as the last colonial outpost of western civilization in the Middle East, the western world, (the Anglo-sphere in reality) - Europe, Australia, Canada and, in particular, the U.S. - have too many economic and political interests invested in Israel to take a stand beyond the perfunctory. What kind of possible intervention is really politically feasible? Hope lies not with governments but only with progressive movements across the globe.

Canadian Scientist Continue to be Muzzled

Top federal bureaucrats stayed mum during discussion about silencing of scientists

What the Canadian “Environment” Minister [read>oil shil] Peter Kent calls “communications management” the rest of us would call #censorship and #propaganda, two of the handmaidens of a full-fledged burgeoning fascist regime, which, sad to say, many believe has already arrived. Certainly #corporatocracy - corporations and government in bed together goin’ at it 24/7 - has fully established itself with a particular emphasis on oil and mining interests. Slimy traces are on the government body everywhere as carcinogenic cigarette smoke wafts in the air after each consummating act polluting the very air we all breath and destroying the body politic from within.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

UN Vote and criticism over Gaza attack matter little to Netanyahu

Shir Hever: UN Vote and criticism over Gaza attack matter little to Netanyahu who unites with Barak  Lieberman who advocates the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian citizens of Israel
The vote  ”does give the Palestinian one legal venue that was closed to them up until now: they could decide to sign the Rome Convention of the International Criminal Court in Hague. And this would make all of the Palestinian territories, the occupied Palestinian territory—we’re talking now about the territory that was annexed by Israel in 1967—not annexed—that was conquered by Israel in 1967, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, would become under the—would fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in Hague. And that means that every Israeli soldier or settler who commits a crime in this territory, the Palestinians could ask that this person would be extradited to the international court.
And basically this was Israel’s way of saying, and Netanyahu’s way of saying as prime minister, we don’t care about international opinion, we don’t care about international pressure, they can’t do anything to us. And this kind of politic is very appealing to a lot of Israelis who realize just how difficult it is for them to explain what Israel is doing and the ongoing occupation, the crimes committed against a civilian population, the discrimination, the apartheid. How can they explain this and say that Israel is a democracy, Israel is part of the developed world, Israel is just another country like most European countries, and so on? The only way that they could reconcile this kind of cognitive dissonance is by saying, actually, the rest of the world doesn’t matter. The recent attack on Gaza was in many ways also an election war.”

Tell UNICEF: No room for racism and war-mongering | Middle East Children's Alliance

Tell UNICEF: No room for racism and war-mongering | Middle East Children's Alliance

The current chairwoman of the Israeli Fund for UNICEF (IFU) is Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes. During the latest Israeli attacks on Gaza, Shalom Nir-Mozes made several shockingly racist comments about Palestinians and Palestinian children:
  • How is it possible to make peace with people whose children are fed hatred towards Israel from the moment they are born? How is it possible to make peace with people who have it as part of their DNA to hate us? I am willing to make real peace at any price. The problem is that there is no partner. I wish I was wrong.”
  • Bibi [Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister], is right, I liked when he said “They shoot at our children and hide behind their children,” the miserable losers. Bad enough they ruin our kids’ childhoods, I don’t understand how parents of children in Gaza allow those murderers to destroy their children.”
  • She additionally spoke out against a ceasefire saying “I really hope Bibi will not surrender to the pressures of our enemies and their lobby and will continue the operation until the murder of the last terrorist in Gaza. It is time that life in the [Israeli] south will start to be normal.”
The most recent Israeli attacks against civilians in Gaza killed an estimated 34 children and injured 274 more.
Please send an email to UNICEF now asking them to remove Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes as the chairwoman of the Israeli Fund for UNICEF (IFU) and censure IFU for selecting someone so poorly suited to represent their work for children around the world.MECA will deliver a copy of this letter and the signatories to UNICEF’s headquarters in New York City on December 14, 2012.

UN Palestine Vote Gives PA Access to International Criminal Court

More at The Real News

Both Israel and the U.S. fear legal accountability. They care less about moral responsibility.  After all, Palestine is now a “state,” giving it the power to join the International Court should they wish to do so.  And they should at some point propitious down the road.

UN General Assembly adopts resolutions supporting Palestine | Maan News Agency

UN General Assembly adopts resolutions supporting Palestine | Maan News Agency

.The usual suspects voted against these measures to help Palestine, among whom we can now include the Harper Regime, who appears to be consistently obstinate for different reasons from the others since it is only indirectly - through trade - dependent on the U.S. The others must bow and lick to the U.S. wishes to receive financial foreign aid support.

Israel seizes $120m in Palestinian tax revenue over UN vote | World news |

Israel seizes $120m in Palestinian tax revenue over UN vote | World news |

Palestinian official accuses Israel of desperation after second punitive response to UN vote recognising state of #Palestine

Israel has seized more than $120million in tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in resp
onse to last week’s overwhelming vote at the UN general assembly to recognise the state of Palestine.

The move came as the PA president, Mahmoud Abbas, returned to cheering crowds in Ramallah in the West Bank following Thursday’s vote, in which 138 countries backed enhanced “non-member state” status for Palestine. Only nine countries opposed the move and 41 abstained.

The financial sanction is Israel’s second punitive response to the vote. On Friday, it announced a big settlement expansion programme.

This is an outrageously unjust and vindictive act of retaliation. It would seem Israel under the current hard-liners could care less what the world thinks since it appears to do nothing meaningfully interventionist, and as long as the U.S. continues to back Israel more or less right or wrong, why should it, Israel appears to say.

Palestine: Harper Regime's Utter Stupidity

For Palestine it's one thing to vote against its elevation to statehood. That remains a respectable decision. It's quite another to campaign aggressively against admission to statehood as the Harper Regime has done in one of its darkest moments of utter stupidity. Baird was one of only three foreign ministers to speak on the issue before the vote and the only one to speak against the motion. With that audacious performance, Harper's personal threats, and other forms of bullying prior to the vote, the Regime has invited the emerging organized, targeted enmity of the Arab world and no doubt profound distrust in much of the Muslim world as well. 

As we all know, Canada's prestige across the Globe has been disintegrating at an extraordinary rate over the past six years. It's close to the nadir now, and, with this latest failure, we are bound to suffer in terms of not just diplomacy but trust and goodwill, political power, and most of all where it really hurts - trade and economics. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Canada’s economy in a stall, StatsCan reports

There’s every chance we’ll have at least a technical recession in the fourth quarter given these statistics:
“The economy slumped to 0.6 per cent in the third quarter — below even the gloomy 0.8 consensus and about one-third what the Bank of Canada had predicted as recently as the summer — as trouble loomed on the export side, housing and business investment….
In addition, Statistics Canada revised downward the second quarter one notch to 1.7 per cent and September, the last month, was flat, meaning the handoff to the current fourth quarter was weak… The big shock in the third quarter report was that business investment, which the central bank has been counting on to support the economy, fell two per cent per cent annualized, and residential construction dived 4.4 per cent…As expected, net trade also weighed heavily on the economy in the third quarter as exports plunged 7.8 per cent on weak global demand and soft commodity prices.”
Only Christmas consuming will save the economy, he said facetiously. It will be amusing to see what propagandistic spin Flaherty and Co. put on this one. One thing's for sure: he won't ever admit that the neoliberal growth model is failing.

Canadian aid to Palestinians may be on chopping block after UN vote

For bully boy Baird, international front man for the Harper Regime, to consider cutting off or freezing aid to Palestine is unadulterated, childish vindictiveness should he choose to follow through with such a threat (with apologies to children everywhere). How can such a wicked act be construed even remotely as a form of diplomacy? Want to invite the wrath of the world? Such an act might do it.
Contrast this diplomatic statement from the PLO: “The Palestinian Liberation Organization fully respects the votes cast by all member states in the General Assembly, irrespective of whether they were in favour of, abstained from, or were cast against the resolution.”