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The Disaffected Lib: The Real Threat Facing Israel

No one expected Benjamin Netanyahu to win the gushing approval of the editorial board of Israel’s liberal newspaper Haaretz but they were decidedly unimpressed by their prime minister’s speech to part of the US Congress yesterday.  Their view is that Netanyahu deliberately avoided any mention of the real existential threat to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state – the ever expanding occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Israel’s insistence on ruling over millions of Palestinians in the West Bank who lack civil rights, expanding the settlements and keeping residents of the Gaza Strip under siege is the danger that threatens (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Doubling Contributions To The Tax Free Savings Account: Even Nastier Than Income Splitting

The Harper government gives five reasons why Canadians ought to be happy with its proposal to double the maximum contribution to the Tax-Free Savings Account. Examine each of its points more closely, however, and it’s clear that the TFSA carries far higher risks than rewards — for individual Canadians as well as for the economy as a whole.

Let’s unpack the government’s arguments one by one:

1. The TFSA helps people save

The evidence certainly doesn’t support this statement. TFSAs first saw the light of day in January 2009 at a time when the savings rate had already been climbing (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: Legal Experts urge killing Police State Bill

Last week more than 100 Legal Experts wrote a letter Urging Parliament to Amend or Kill Anti-Terrorism Bill C-51 The legal experts from across Canada are urging all parliamentarians to “ensure that C-51 not be enacted in anything resembling its present form.” They argue, in an open letter published on the National Post, that the federal government’s anti-terrorism bill is a “dangerous piece of legislation” that has not been given due debate. The text of the preamble of the open letter is reproduced below:

Dear Members of Parliament, Please accept this collective open letter as an expression of the signatories’ (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: More Debates, Not Fewer Debaters

The unethical fools at the Broadcast Consortium will probably gladly keep Elizabeth May away from the debates this year too. Especially amusing is the Conservative spokes-tool saying more participants would make it a gong show. Mulcair wanting a debate focused on women, while angling to keep the only female leader out of the room, is special too.

What’s wrong with the Star and Robert Benzie to write an article about debate controversy and not even mention the Consortium considering blocking the Green Party again because they got away with it last election?

Why would it be up to the Conservatives (Read more…)

Paul S. Graham: Stop Bill C-51 #StopHarper

Introduced into Parliament on Jan. 30, 2015, Bill C-51 is an omnibus bill that will undermine constitutionally protected rights and freedoms of Canadians in the guise of combating terrorism. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s bombastic, saber-rattling YouTube video, published 2 days before the bill was tabled, set the tone. Essentially, Canada is under attack and the government will do whatever it takes to protect Canadians.

Critics of C-51 argue that it will criminalize speech, make it easier to arrest people who police think might commit an offence, share citizen’s private information between government departments without oversight, and allow the Canadian (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: Harper History, Part 3 – First Con Minority

Jan 2006 – Sept 2008

In part three of our series examining the things that Mr Harper and his supporters have done that impacted our democracy we cover the period of “Canada’s New Government” tm which lasted 2 1/2 years before Harper declared it “dysfunctional” and called a new election in direct contravention of his own fixed election date legislation. It was highlighted by Harpers attempts to control the press and his refusal to answer anything but pre approved questions and the oppositions attempts to hold the government to account without bringing about an early election.

On 23/1/2006 the Conservatives (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: This is Canada. Of Course We Live In a Democracy. Right? Think Again.

Do you know the difference between liberal democracy and illiberal democracy? It can be a complex issue.  There are oodles of papers to read if you really want to get a handle on it but, for now, here’s a somewhat useful explanation taken from Wiki.

An illiberal democracy, also called a pseudo democracy, partial democracy, low intensity democracy,empty democracy or hybrid regime,[1] is a governing system in which, although elections take place, citizens are cut off from knowledge about the activities of those who exercise real power because of the lack of civil liberties. It is not an ‘ (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: Harper’s Police State Law

Much has been written of lateabout the proposed C-51 ‘anti terror’ bill and I will not attempt to dissect it here given that we already know that it will be forced through the legislative process unchanged by the Harper Regime it is somewhat a futile exercise. It is important however to still understand what it means for Canadians who may express an alternative point of view to said regime or express their opposition to certain actions by peaceful protest. One of the few politicians whose views and opinions I respect, Elizabeth May,had this to say last week on (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: Canada’s Flag is 50 on Sunday

In 1964, Liberal Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson formed a committee to resolve the issue, sparking a serious debate about a flag change. Out of three choices, the maple leaf design by George Stanley,[4] based on the flag of the Royal Military College of Canada, was selected. The flag made its first official appearance on February 15, 1965; the date is now celebrated annually as National Flag of Canada Day.

National Flag of Canada Day was instituted in 1996 by an Order in Council from Governor General Roméo LeBlanc, on the initiative of Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. In (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: ROCHON: Greece, Syriza and the Euro

This is a guest blog post from Louis-Philippe Rochon.

Follow him on Twitter @Lprochon.

What a tumultuous few weeks we witnessed in Greece. Though the victory of Syriza was ill-received in particular in Germany and the European Central Bank, it was nonetheless a resounding victory for democracy. This victory may now spill into other countries and give much credence in particular to the Spanish Podemos party.

Moreover, recent German threats to throw Greece out of the Euro zone only further masks what is increasingly becoming evident: the Euro is a flawed and poorly designed institution that condemns Europe and (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: In Government We Trust?

As I review the actions of the Harper Regime since coming to power for my Harper History Series, an undertaking that one must take in very small bites if one is to retain one composure and sanity, I have been thinking a great deal about the choices before us and why we support one lot over the others.

Whilst a great deal may rest upon what each individual or party says they are going to do or has done I am coming to the conclusion that TRUST may well be an increasing part of the reason to vote for one (Read more…)

Politics Canada: Stephen Harper: government of thugs

The current Canadian government is unlike any that has ever come before it and, let’s hope for the sake of Canada, any that is to come after. The Conservative government of Stephen Harper’s has operated in a way that puts power and holding on to power above all else. With no respect for parliamentary traditions or using parliamentary mechanisms for their intended purpose. Instead they use any means necessary to hold on to power (see the proroguing before parliament even started in 2008).

Stephen Harper’s is a government constantly at war. At war with anyone who opposes it. This is (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Seccareccia on Greece, Austerity and the Eurozone

Over at the blog of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Ottawa U professor Mario Seccareccia has given an interview titled “Greece Shows the Limits of Austerity in the Eurozone. What Now?”

The interview can be read here.

The Disaffected Lib: What Neoliberalism Has in Store For You

click to enlarge

From Le Monde, a timely explanation of how disastrous neoliberalism continues to thrive despite an endless string of economic disasters and what it holds in store for you even as you continue to vote for those who practice it.  Hint. Neoliberalism is class warfare and it’s being waged in our own Parliament against us.

Even neoliberal proponents recognize that it is a crisis-ridden system. In his popular book Why Globalisation Works, Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf writes: “Between 1945 and 1971, in what might be called the “age of financial repression”, there had been only thirty-eight (Read more…)

. . . → Read More: The Disaffected Lib: What Neoliberalism Has in Store For You

The Disaffected Lib: Could Greece Become the Salvation of Western Democracy?

Greece is revered as the nation that gave mankind democracy.  Could it now become the nation that restored democracy to mankind?

Around the world, democracy has taken a pounding from the fist of neoliberalism.  Market fundamentalism and democracy are simply incompatible over time.  Neoliberalism promotes illiberal democracy, ultimately leading to political capture and the rise of plutocracy as the populace is steadily reduced economically and politically, their power quietly transferred to a select minority.

The Guardian’s George Monbiot writes that we’re witnessing “the sudden death of the neoliberal consensus.”  This he sees in the triumph of the Syriza (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: Harper History, Part 2 – In Opposition

June 2004 – Jan 2006

This is the second of a series of monthly articles examining the actions of Stephen Harper and his Party colleagues both before and after his rise to power with particular emphasis upon words and actions that effect our democracy. This period is most notable for Harpers support for the concept of cooperation / coalition between opposition parties a concept which he was later to call undemocratic, the ‘in and out scheme’ re election funding and the Cadman affair of attempted bribery. It was but a small glimpse of things to come.

The Liberals were re-elected (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: Balancing Act Important For Democracy

A guest artile by Jared Milne I’m currently reading Brent Rathgeber’s excellent book “Irresponsible Government: the Decline of Parliamentary Democracy in Canada”, which describes the methods that Canadian prime ministers have used to consolidate power in the Prime Minister’s Office, and force their Members of Parliament to follow all of their directions. MPs are now expected to only obey the prime minister, instead of keeping him and his Cabinet accountable the way Canada’s system of responsible government has traditionally required.

Many Canadians have been increasingly turned off by this system of top-down control. Samara, an organization dedicated to strengthening Canadian (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: ConCalls: DDM Calling For Mistrial! #RoboCon

Hapless Dean Del Mastro, the former Prime Ministerial Parliamentary Secretary is supposed to soon find out how long he’ll spend in jail away from his wife and baby child.

What's the difference between $21K and $20K? No kids, not $1000, it is a mistrial! #DelMastro #DDM pic.twitter.com/YPtKkOSmCd

— Far Side Peter (@FarSidePtbo) January 27, 2015

Democracy Under Fire: The Incremental Dictatorship

A guest post by Pamela Mac Neil In order for a government to be all powerful, it must dominate all of the major democratic institutions in a society and it must be very adept, when seeking to change the democratic nature of these institutions, at hiding its inner workings while making that change. The Harper government is a fundamentally anti-democratic entity that caters to the agenda of the corporate elite. The decisions that shape all aspects of Canada’s democratic institutions are made largely in private behind closed doors. Underlying the rise of Harpers authoritarian state is a hidden politics. Harper (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: 2015 Budget Prorogued.

We all know that when backed into a corner Harper will do almost anything to avoid any negative information about his regime from emerging from his$65 million plus a year PMO spin machine and that this is particularly true of bad economic news. We know in the past he prorogued parliament in order to avoid what could have been a negative vote on his 2008 fiscal update, whilst not quite as controversial the question must be asked is the delaying of the 2015 budget till April or beyond more of the same?

Given the difficulty that Parliamentarians and the (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: Harper History, Part 1 – The Early Years

This is the first of a series of monthly articles examining the actions of Stephen Harper and his Party colleagues both before and after his rise to power with particular emphasis upon words and actions that effect our democracy. The 2015 Federal Election will undoubtedly be critical to to whether or not our Parliamentary Democracy survives or degrades further into the abyss of an elected dictatorship. It is I believe important that we remember the actions of this Regime over the last 15 years or so that have moved us so close to this situation. It is these things that (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: More In Canada Now Willing To Accept Dictatorship

Here’s Harper’s legacy, as he’s attempted to plunge our country into darkness:

The group surveyed attitudes towards democracy and governance in interviews with 50,000 people in 28 countries. It found that Canada was among those nations most likely to support shuttering its legislatures. In fact, the study found that only the citizens of Paraguay, Peru, and Haiti were more likely to put their democracies in mothballs than Canadians.

… Could these strange numbers explain why Canadians yawned when Stephen Harper was found in contempt of parliament, and immediately handed him a majority government?

“His long term goal is to (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: “Nature Deficit Disorder”

At first glance this would seem to have little to do with our central theme here at Democracy Under Fire but when we look at the actions of the Harper Regime in creating legislation to cover protection of The Rouge Valley Park should it be transferred from the Province to Parks Canada then the link becomes clear.

The Rouge Park, a 40-square-kilometre swath of forested valleys and farmland at the eastern ends of Scarborough and Markham. The proposal is for the province to transfer ownership of it to the federal government so it can add another 10 square kilometres, linking (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: Looking over our shoulder….

Traditionally this is the time of the year that we look back over the past 12 months and remember the highlights, both good and bad, in an effort to ‘do better’ in the coming year. I would suggest that perhaps we had better keep our eyes firmly in the future lest we walk off the cliff from the highlands of a vibrant democracy and fall into the swamp of authoritarianism and tyranny, we have been traipsing through the scrub-lands of oligarchy for some time now.

However when we have strayed from the path it is often instructive to retrace our (Read more…)

Larry Hubich's Blog: Michael Harris at Unifor Ontario Regional Council, November 2014