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BigCityLib Strikes Back: Gruending On The CRA Audits

From his latest:

The government, however, has sent unmistakable signals that it wants a crackdown. Recent federal budgets have provided the CRA with an additional $13 million in special funding to undertake such audits at a time when the government was slashing the CRA’s budget by $250 million over three years, forcing the layoff of hundreds of auditors. Jim Flaherty, the former finance minister, issued a warning to charities in 2013. “If I were an environmental charity using federal money, tax-receipted money for political purposes, I would be cautious.” Others went considerably farther in their criticism and warnings. (Read more…)

BigCityLib Strikes Back: Things That Have Gone Wrong With The Arab Spring

Dennis Gruending covers a talk by Nahlah Ayed, London-based foreign correspondent for CBC Television.  These things that have gone wrong are many, and not terribly surprising if you were paying a attention.  A couple of them, as teasers:

Absence of political choicesNo matter what upheavals occur, the same old regimes that come back as new ones. For example, when President Hosni Mubarak was forced out of office in Egypt, the only well-organized political opposition was the Muslim Brotherhood, which had existed for many years but had been suppressed by the regime. The Brotherhood had experience as an opposition but not (Read more…)

BigCityLib Strikes Back: The Ukrainian Far Right: Gruending On Ukraine

Dennis Gruending has a piece on some of the propaganda being employed by both sides in the standoff over Ukraine.  I found this bit particularly interesting:

… the Russians suspect, with some justification, that demonstrations in Ukraine were partly the work of right-wing Ukrainian nationalists assisted by the West. This claim strikes a deep chord among Russians because of the great sacrifices that were made fighting fascists in the Second World War. And if the West indeed orchestrated the ouster of an elected president based on his own corruption, it is certainly on thin ice. After all, it has supported its (Read more…)

BigCityLib Strikes Back: Gruending: Our Prime Minister Is A Christian Zionist

Dennis Gruending discusses the PM’s trip to Israel, with an account of some of the folks in his entourage that contains information I was not aware of.  A brief flavor:

Finally, there was the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem — Canada, which is not really an embassy at all but a conservative Christian group whose main reason for being is to provide support for Israel.

Take it away, Dennis.

BigCityLib Strikes Back: Gruending On The Quebec Charter Of Values

Nothing you haven’t heard before, but nicely written as always:

And so, we are left with the odd spectacle of the Parti Quebecois, which has always claimed to be progressive and socially democratic, promoting policies resembling those of Canada’s Right.

Indeed, though to its credit a good portion of Canada’t Right has grown beyond this kind of blatant immigrant bashing and decried the charter.

BigCityLib Strikes Back: Gruending On Liberal Christians In Canada

What about Canada? The historical influence of liberal Protestantism is undeniable. The social gospel movement drove political change from the 1930s to at least the 1960s. People such as J. S. Woodsworth, Tommy Douglas and Stanley Knowles – all of them Protestant ministers — moved Canada in a humane and social democratic direction. But that flame has been burning less brightly in recent decades and a more right wing religious presence now prevails in the halls of power. A well-connected minister of my acquaintance says that the Prime Minister has yet to meet with United Church leaders since he was (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Linda McQuaig discusses Stephen Harper’s class war: Canadians don’t like Harper’s anti-worker agenda — when they notice it. That’s why there’s been such a public outcry since the temporary foreign worker program was exposed as a mechanism by which the Harper government has flooded the country with hundreds of thousands of cheap foreign workers, thereby suppressing Canadian wages in the interests of helping corporations.

Apart from this clumsy fiasco, the Harperites have been adroit at keeping their anti-worker bias under the radar. Instead, they’ve directed their attacks against unions, portraying them as undemocratic (Read more…)

BigCityLib Strikes Back: The Canadian Catholic Church, Then And Now

From Dennis Gruending on the 30th anniversary of the Canada’s Catholic bishops’ report Ethical Reflections on the Economic Crisis:“We are losing the tension between the church and the state in Canada. The government has seduced the hierarchy to provide a blessing for their policies. The leadership has been silenced and refuses to challenge the established order.”

This is in reference to stuff like this.

BigCityLib Strikes Back: Gruending On The New Pope

How deep was he in with the Argentine generals?  Actually, its kind of hard to say.  But he hates communists, that’s for damn sure.

BigCityLib Strikes Back: Gruending On The Manning Center Confab

Preston Manning and his wife Sandra created the Manning Centre in 2005 to act as a training ground for conservative politicos and a think tank and advocacy arm for conservative causes. Each year Manning holds what he calls a networking conference in Ottawa. Often the guest speakers are those such as Ron Paul, who for the most part have narrowly missed prominence, and others who have now left prominence behind them. A speaker in the latter category this year is former Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

A run-down of the speakers, the media presence, and who’s connected to who.  For

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Shawn McCarthy discusses the Cons’ latest plan to sell Keystone XL to the U.S. – which involves hoping that the best-resourced government on the planet will be suckered into accepting a transparently false pretense that the Cons have the slightest interest in addressing climate change. And Harper cabinet appointee Monte Solberg offers a window into the Cons’ environmental mindset, trying to make a case against “thinking globally” on the basis that there are easier votes to be won by focusing on small vacation areas while shredding the rest of the planet.

-

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Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Assorted content to start your week.

- Dennis Gruending writes about the importance of Edgar Schmidt’s whistleblowing against unconstitutional legislation: Schmidt says that he has over a period of years raised concerns about what he considers the department’s flawed practices. He has done that through various official channels, up to the deputy minister level — in both Liberal and Conservative governments. He says he has never received a satisfactory response and that he has gone to court as a matter of last resort.

Schmidt says the consequences of the department’s failure to act appropriately are serious. The state should be

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BigCityLib Strikes Back: Gruending On John Baird’s Office of Religious Freedom

In fact, the plan is modeled on the Office of International Religious Freedom which was created by the Clinton administration in the United States in 1998. A common criticism is that the American office was focused almost entirely on the persecution of Christians abroad, and that it was used to create space for American evangelical Christians to proselytize in other countries. Madeline Albright, then the secretary of state, was opposed saying that the office in focusing only on religious persecution created a “hierarchy of human rights” — privileging persecution based upon religion over other that of race or gender, for

BigCityLib Strikes Back: Catholic Bishops Cave To Tories!

A couple of posts by Gruending give the best run-down of a story I’ve been following out of the corner of my eye for awhile now: the suspension of Development’s And Peace’s fall post card campaign after it was judged “too political” by the &n… . . . → Read More: BigCityLib Strikes Back: Catholic Bishops Cave To Tories!

BigCityLib Strikes Back: Gruending On Remembrance Day

One might be tempted to consign T.T. Shields and his demagoguery to the past but it is not so different from a recent program that I saw on CTS Television. Preacher Jack Van Impe was fulminating about Iran and its president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, describ… . . . → Read More: BigCityLib Strikes Back: Gruending On Remembrance Day

BigCityLib Strikes Back: Dennis Gruending On The Oppression Of Canadian Mennonite Magazine

Quite a bit more detail here than in the CBC piece.  The most interesting bit, though, is not even about the magazine per se.  Its about the financial costs associated with running afoul of the CRA:[David] Suzuki…said that his foundati… . . . → Read More: BigCityLib Strikes Back: Dennis Gruending On The Oppression Of Canadian Mennonite Magazine

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material to end your Saturday.

- Jim Stanford looks in detail at the aftereffects of free trade with the U.S., and finds rather little to cheer: In sum, the promise that free trade would induce more trade, productivity growth, and higher incomes (following traditional Heckscher-Ohlin mechanisms) is not remotely supported by the aggregate economic data. FTA defenders will critique this argument on many grounds. They say we should compare this data to an unknowable counterfactual (namely, where Canada would be in 2012 without the FTA), rather than to the pre-FTA reality. They will parse detailed sub-sector data

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BigCityLib Strikes Back: Gruending On Chaplains In Prisons

If the changes introduced by Minister Toews are not really about cutting costs, then what is going on? The best analysis that I have seen is from Stephen Maher for Postmedia News. “Toew’s decision,” he wrote, “fits the pattern of this government regarding groups of people whom devout elements of their electoral base dislike.”

[...]

Mr. Harper’s problem is that if he gives too much to his socially and religiously conservative base, he will alienate many other Canadian voters who want nothing to do with this agenda. In this context, dropping the part-time chaplaincy for inmates is  an

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Alison nicely debunks the Cons’ latest Robocon talking points. Paula Boutis offers her own suggestions to strengthen Elections Canada in investigating vote suppression. And Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher report that the Cons have been working on funneling federal money through a charity to their choice of call centre operators.

- Adam Radwanski unloads on Jim Flaherty for his constant attacks on his home province. But the explanation presumably lies in the Ontario government’s inconvenient recognition that Canadians would be far more secure with an improved Canada Pension Plan than with the

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BigCityLib Strikes Back: Dennis Gruending On The Sale Of The Saskatchewan Wheat Pool

Farmers fought long and hard to create the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool in 1924, but 88 years later the company, now known as Viterra, is being sold to a Swiss-based multinational called Glencore for $6.1 billion. This is a sad story, a kind of morality tale about the gradual destruction of self-help, local initiative, community control and co-operation. With a few exceptions, there has been virtually no critical media analysis of this event that looks at it from the bottom up. So, as someone who grew up in a small prairie village where the Wheat Pool elevator and the local

BigCityLib Strikes Back: Harper Brings Down The Hammer On Another Faith-Based Group

From Gruending:

The hammer that had earlier landed on faith-based organizations such as KAIROS and the Mennonite Central Committee has now fallen on the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P). Michael Casey, D&P’s executive director, has just written an emergency letter to the organization’s local volunteer leaders in Catholic dioceses throughout the country. He informs them that D&P has just heard from CIDA on a funding proposal made back in July 2010. “We have finally received the government’s response,” Casey writes. “It is not exactly what we were hoping for.” That is a considerable understatement. Casey writes

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BigCityLib Strikes Back: Harper Defunds Mennonite Church Group

 Dennis Gruending predicted it in his last outing:

CIDA will soon abandon a number of its long-standing development partners among Canadian NGOs, including a number of church-based organizations. Reliable sources say that a number of those groups will see their funding ended or curtailed this year.

And indeed the axe has begun to fall:

The Conservative government’s shoe is dropping on some long established foreign aid groups while it privileges others. Mennonite Central Committee Canada reports on its website that the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has turned down MCC’s proposal of $2.9 million for each of the next three years to

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Accidental Deliberations: Book Review: Pulpit and Politics

Dennis Gruending is a former journalist and NDP MP who blogs about political and religious issues – which in theory should make for an ideal background for a book focusing on the interplay between religion and politics in Canada.

And Pulpit and Politics is indeed well worth a read. But it does fall somewhat short of its potential in one key area.

By way of example, the subject of the influence of religion in Canadian politics – particularly on the right side of the spectrum – is one that’s already been explored in plenty of detail by Marci McDonald. And

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BigCityLib Strikes Back: Gruending On Christians In Syria

Former MP and Politics & Pulpit author takes a look at the dilemma facing Syrian Christians:

The Scottish writer William Dalrymple says that Syria has been a kind of oasis for Christians in the Middle East. But Syrian Christians are now faced with a painful choice. They can offer support to a brutal dictatorship that, generally, has protected them but has killed 5,000 of its citizens since calls for change and demonstrations began in the spring of 2011. Or Christians can participate in the opposition, which, if it topples the regime, may bring to power a Sunni-led government that could

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BigCityLib Strikes Back: Gruending On Canadian Churches, Climate Change, And Durban

Its all good, but my favorite bit is about how The National Post felt it necessary to spike Rex Murphy’s geriatric rage at the fact a mere African might dare to criticize Canada’s environmental record:

The advertisement generated a torrent of exaggerated invective from some of the usual suspects – including CBC Television’s Rex Murphy. The National Post newspaper said, “Archbishop Desmond Tutu should shut his trap when it comes to the oilsands.” The newspaper later removed that sentence — but not before the boorish comment was widely read and re-posted by many news organizations and NGOs.

PS.