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Cowichan Conversations: Hey Steve! Why Are You Spying On Us?

Harper cranks up broad surveillance spying on law abiding Canadians

Scott's DiaTribes: Adam Vaughan, Scott Simms visit #Brant; charity walk response

Last week, Liberal MP’s were out and about in Southern Ontario prior to the re-opening of the last session of Parliament before the next election, and in Brantford-Brant, 2 MP’s dropped by to visit with voters on issues and to support Danielle Takacs, Brantford-Brant Liberal candidate.

The first MP to visit was Adam Vaughan, MP for Trinity-Spadina, and the Liberal Urban Affairs and Housing Critic. He along with Danielle held 2 roundtables on the affordable housing issue – one with area stakeholders in Brantford-Brant, and a second one on affordable housing for students with Wilfrid Laurier Brantford campus student representatives. (Read more…)

centre of the universe: Great Tracts of Land

This was another one of those yelly-at-the-radio days. Listen, it isn’t very often that I’m actually *ashamed* of the place that I choose to live. I love this place 98% of the time. But then some ninny axes a film employment tax credit or some jackass starts up a petition against frigging strip clubs and I get a little tetchy. … Continue reading →

wmtc: let them stay week 2015: january 25-31: make your voice heard

Allan guest post

Since September 2014, seven US Iraq War resisters have received negative decisions in their cases. Two veterans were given removal dates (i.e., dates by which they must leave the country). One resister received a stay of removal and the government rescinded the second removal order at the last minute. These reprieves are extremely good news, but war resisters and their loved ones continue to feel stress and uncertainty.

The timing of these initial negative decisions was odd. After no movement on any cases for more than a year, seven cases — allegedly independent of one (Read more…)

In This Corner: Stuff Happens, Week 2. Target misses the mark, Roxy razed.

The big story of the week in Canada was the departure, with its tail between its legs, of U.S. retail giant Target.

The purveyor of so-called ‘cheap chic’ clothing is a big hit in the U.S., but its venture into Canada was a disaster of New Coke proportions. Empty shelves, so-so prices, and the store’s unfortunate colour scheme had Canadians saying, ‘This is just Zellers without that weird Zellers smell’. I was entirely unimpressed by Target in my few ventures into the store. A co-worker told me of going into Target to buy some groceries, and finding (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: Charity event – Coldest Night Of The Year. Please sponsor if able.

Hi folks:

I wanted to mention that one of the things my friend and candidate in Brantford-Brant Danielle Takacs believes in strongly is that Liberals should give something back to their local community, and one of the ways of doing this is by participating in charitable causes. As an example, Danielle helped organize a team of local Brantford-Brant Liberals to participate this past Dec 22 in delivering Christmas Baskets around Brantford to those less fortunate, to help them have a better Christmas.

There is another charitable event coming up in Brantford-Brant, and I was hoping you folks might help out (Read more…)

In This Corner: A provincial election would be cynical and foolish, but ….

The Alberta Legislature press gallery, the most chronically underworked legislature press gallery in the country, is all abuzz with election gossip.

The Progressive Conservatives have kicked their candidate selection process into high gear, leading to speculation that Premier Jim Prentice might call a spring election. Gossip mongers are also suggesting that the PC party’s decision to offer free memberships to Wildrose members is another sign that Prentice is going to the polls when the snow melts.

Is Prentice weighing his options?

At first glance, there would seem to be no chance of an election. We actually have a semi-set date (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: Fundraising stuff

A story in the Globe by Adam Radwanski today is interesting for what it says about oppposition parties and their attempts to get their local riding associations up to snuff when it comes to the all important money battle:

Officials….are privately worrying that many of their riding associations will suffer a cash disadvantage both leading up to the campaign and during it. “It’s a huge issue,” a Liberal official said, speaking on a background basis. “We spent a fair amount of last year internally sounding the alarm bells on this.” …The scale of the Conservatives’ current advantage is (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: Harper’s supposed “strong leadership”

The tragedies in Paris this week were horrific, and rightly condemned by all those on the political spectrum in Canada. However, an unfortunate by-product of that which I’ve noticed is a lot of known Conservative supporters going to social media (Twitter in particular) and posting videos of Prime Minister Harper expressing their gratefulness at living under a “strong leader” and Harper showing “strong leadership” with his condemnations of the Paris terrorist acts – implying that the NDP or Liberals would not be showing the same “strong leadership” in this case. (They’re all using the exact same phrases and words too (Read more…)

Canadian Dimension: 2015: Beyond “Anything But Conservative”

Photo by Makaristos

At the end of 2014,, an online labour news publication, ran a competition for Scumbag of the Year. While we received many nominations of bad bosses and terrible politicians from across the country, unsurprisingly it was Stephen Harper who topped our readers’ list to win this prestigious award.

The feeling that Harper must be stopped is widely shared across the Left. What that means exactly and how it will be achieved is still up in the air. What is the best way to stop Harper? Strategic voting? A new orange wave? Mass mobilization? A new (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: Ontario Politics Chatter: The Beer Store Monopoly, eyes on Sudbury.

I haven’t talked a lot about Ontario Politics much of late, but for my first post of the New Year, a few things have caught my eye I wished to comment on.

First, the Beer Store and its attempt to bring local craft beer dealers onboard is being viewed by some as a too-little too-late gamble in a desperate attempt to hold off competition to its monopoly. This series of paragraphs in a Toronto Star op-ed from Martin Regg Cohn is significant for me:

As more Ontarians realize that The Beer Store isn’t what they thought it was — not (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Canada Needs Proportional Representation Now

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Here is Rafe’s latest piece tackling the outdated ‘First Past the Post’ system of electing dictatorships to govern Canada.

Frankly I do not know how we could design a worse system than the one that entrenches unassailable power in the Prime Minister’s office such as we have in Canada today.

Rate Mair makes the point that we cannot wait for perfection in change and I agree wholeheartedly.

Fix our democracy’s mess, ignore boo birds’ silly myths.

By Rafe Mair,

We have a dictator at 24 Sussex Drive. So was Trudeau. So was Chretien. In fact, (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Prime Minister Harper’s Ugly Evangelical Capitalism

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

The transformation of our country that Steve Harper foreshadowed has been underway for sometime and the results have been devastating. The war on science, scientists, the environment and environmentalists has been ruthless and unrelenting.

Canada, once an internationally respected nation that excelled at peace keeping and demonstrated to the world that solid environmental stewardship and a kinder, gentler approach to governance was both possible and achievable.

PM Steve Harper-The Ugly Canadian

That was some time ago. Today the term ‘Ugly Canadian’ has become a valid description of our Prime Minister and applies equally to the obedient supporting (Read more…)

Dented Blue Mercedes: Leelah Alcorn’s Suicide, Parents’ Rights… and Kids’ Rights.

On Sunday, December 28th, 17-year-old trans* Ohio teenager committed suicide by stepping in front of a tractor-trailer on the interstate. She was killed instantly.

Her tragedy says something profound which has been almost completely missed in the discussion about LGBT-inclusive education and Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) currently wafting across Canada.

Before Leelah Alcorn’s death, she posted a suicide note online. Some of the links to it are no longer working, but the text is archived at Slate. In it, she relates a heartbreaking story of a kid who learned what “transgender” meant at the age of 14, (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: Need some New Year Resolutions?

This might apply more to Christmas, but I think if you want a New Year’s Resolution, this would work too:

Why not give some of yourself away?

– Give an hour of time to someone who needs you – Give a note of encouragement to someone feeling down – Give a hug of affirmation to someone in your family – Give some time to someone who is lonely – Give a meal to someone who is sick – Give a word of compassion to someone who has suffered a loss – Give a second chance to the fallen – Give (Read more…)

wmtc: what i’m reading: pro: reclaiming abortion rights by katha pollitt

Katha Pollitt’s new book, Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, is a powerful gust of fresh, clean air that blows away the toxic stench of the current discourse about abortion.

Pro is a thorough, no-holds-barred takedown of the hypocrisy of anti-abortion-rights movement – not only in the most obvious sense that people who claim to be “pro-life” also (usually) support war and the death penalty, oppose gun control, and encourage lethal terrorism against abortion providers and clinic staff, and of people who claim to care about women and children, but oppose all social supports that might improve the lives of actual (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: The PM’s Christmas Message reimagined: What are Canadians willing to do about our most dangerous Arctic enemy?

The so-called Santa Claus, a militant socialist leader who poses a serious threat to Canada’s national security, lights up a cheap Russian cigarette and relaxes after persuading a group of Canadian children unschooled in Austrian economics to give up the benefits of the free market for socialist dependency on government handouts. Below: the sinister “Øverste Leder” of the Danes, the icy eyed Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and the doughty Canadian Rangers, defenders of Canada’s Arctic sovereignty as they bravely prepare to engage in another lonely Sov Pat.

A Christmas Message from the Prime Minister of All the Canadas:

It’s Christmas, and (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: A Christmas charitable act by Liberals in Brantford-Brant – but charity will never be enough

On December 22, I was up in Brantford helping Liberal Party candidate and friend Danielle Takacs and several fellow supporters (9 all together) join many other volunteers collecting Christmas Baskets and pass them out to those less fortunate in the city of Brantford. By less fortunate, I don’t even mean those who were unemployed, though some were those. There were some we deliivered to who indeed were working, but who wouldn’t have enough money to spend on extra things – we would call these “the working poor”, and I noted there were also some seniors we passed these along to. (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Plummeting oil prices, petrol-state club. rapidly declining Canadian dollar, house sales could decline,

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Well here we are just a few days from Christmas and as you may have noticed my time for writing has been curtailed.

While this is good news on several fronts the events that affect us have not slowed as is demonstrated by this excellent Andrew Nikiforuk interview with international oil expert Terry Lynn Karl.

We are on a ride to nowhere with few options as our governments continue pursuing greed and riches with a gold rush mentality.

They, and as a result we, are missing the boat by concentrating on a volatile commodity that lacks the (Read more…)

Canadian Dimension: The New Canadian Militarism

From the Conversion of Highway 401 entering Toronto into the “Highway of Heroes” as a macabre celebration of Canadian soldiers killed in combat, to the renaming of the Canadian armed forces to echo past imperialist campaigns, to the wrapping of Hockey night in Canada in nationalist celebration of the military, the themes of militarism now penetrate the cultural experiences of daily life. In what should be a period of sober reflection on the horrors of war, and a history lesson on the imperialist conflagration which produced it, the centenary since the start of the First World War has become an (Read more…)

Canadian Dimension: The Great War: A Crime Against Humanity

Victory Bonds Shorten The War—Help To Catch Huns /Library and Archives Canada, e010754280 /Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, e010754280

As we are reminded nearly every day, 2014 is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. The orgy of propaganda glorifying that war coincides with Harper’s strategy of making our country more militaristic and authoritarian. World War I was one of the first great crimes against humanity of the bloody 20th century. One estimate is that, before the war ended in 1918, 67 million people had taken up arms in all the belligerent nations (O’Shea, 1996). More than 11 (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: Pre-emptive pre-writ Liberal strike – radio style.

This got released yesterday on the radio. A nice little ad on the radio explaining why the Liberal Party is opposed to income splitting. Personally, I’m pleased to see we’re starting to fight fire with fire vis-a-vis the pre-writ campaign ads that the Conservatives have mastered in their attacking Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff (and not so successfully so far on Justin Trudeau. This ad, however, is based on policy, not personal attacks.

Take a listen

UPDATE: The Liberals have also released an ad on the radio today about Veteran Affairs – an issue that has been very prominent of (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Without Libby Davies, What Course will the NDP Chart?

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

The announcement that long serving NDP MP Libby Davies has decided to step back from Federal politics after serving as the Vancouver East MP since 1997 will leave a big hole in the NDP ship.

She was a fearless leader of those in need and fought the battles that most politicians tip-toed around.

It is doubtful that she will roll over and settle into her rocking chair.

Could she be looking at provincial politics next?

Fred Wilson wrote the following article that has been published in

Fred Wilson

The New Democratic Party’s political boat is (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Warmer Pacific Ocean Could Release Millions of Tons of Seafloor Methane

Richard Hughes- Political Blogger

It is getting harder each day to ignore the escalating reports of environmental destruction, global warming, extreme weather and utter disregard by most of our politicians.

US President Obama has turned the corner somewhat but in Canada PM Steve Harper is displaying the most ignorant responses as he presides over unnecessary destruction and ever increasing damage from the greed driven pursuit of oil and gas.

Water off Washington’s coast is warming a third of a mile down, where seafloor methane shifts from a frozen solid to a gas. Calculations suggest ocean warming is already releasing significant (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: Internal CPC polling on Veterans Affairs issues must be terrible.

If the Conservative government – led by Harper in Question Period no less – has now decided they’re going to try to blame the Liberals for the current mess in Veteran Affairs (led by their mess of a minister Fantino), polling and reaction to their current shabby treatment of Veterans must be pretty bad.

Their argument gets a tad undercut however when they’ve had 10 years to fix any shortcomings (which Harper and party supported in 2005 and enthusiastically implemented in 2006), and are now in court trying to defend it against angry Veterans (and trying to use the argument (Read more…)