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Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- Andrew Jackson writes that public investment is needed as part of a healthy economy, particularly when it’s clear that the private sector isn’t going to put massive accumulated savings to use. Bob McDonald notes that we’d be far better off using public money to fund basic research instead of funnelling it toward the business sector. And Ed Keenan looks to Ontario for examples of how far more money is flowing into questionable corporate handouts than toward basic human needs.

- Meanwhile, Lana Payne exposes the Cons’ efforts to both downplay and reduce (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, questioning whether Canadians share Stephen Harper’s newly-professed aspiration to spend tens of billions of dollars more every year to prop up U.S. and U.K. military contractors.

For further reading…- David Pugliese reported on this week’s NATO summit. – NATO’s most recent spending calculations are here (see PDF link), showing that Canada currently spends about 1% of GDP on its military. Note that while this number pegs Canada’s current spending at about $18.4 billion per year, I reference the $19 billion figure used by both government and outside sources in the previous link.- While (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: That Was Predictable

Way back in 2003 when the United States invaded Iraq (long before the Afghanistan mess had been anything close to resolved), I remember having a conversation in which I said that within 5 years of the US withdrawal from Iraq, that the country would founder in civil war.  (I believe much the same thing will inevitably happen in Afghanistan as well)

This week, we have seen the “insurgency” in Iraq transform from a few disorganized groups into a coherent military force not to be trifled with.

Anybody who is surprised by this hasn’t been paying close attention since 2001.  The (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Harper: A Decade In And He Still Doesn’t Get It

Stephen Harper has been in power for the high side of a decade.  That’s a long time.

Most Prime Ministers by this point in their careers have figured out that the foreign affairs portfolio is a tricky one.  When you are a smallish nation like Canada, you get much better results by influencing rather than playing the puffed up pugilist.

Harper hasn’t figured this out.  Does he really think that Putin notices his pronouncements in the wake of sanctions?  Is he really daft enough to believe that his military posturing is going to convince Putin to back out of Crimea?

(Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Brian and Karen Foster question why steadily improving productivity has led to increasing stratification rather than better lives for a large number of people: (W)ith all the optimism, why hasn’t technological progress actually opened up a world where we all work, and we all work less? Why do we still have some people working overtime while others sit idle, wishing for employment? Why are we not seeing the spread of work-sharing schemes, where the duties of one job are divided into two or more jobs?

We have a government program that helps companies (Read more…)

Akaash Maharaj - Practical Idealism: Akaash Maharaj: Gold Medal Hypocrisy at the Sochi Winter Olympics – Toronto Star

Nothing in Sochi did more to honour and advance the Olympic ideals than the worldwide fight for equality unleashed by Russia’s infamous homophobic law. My post-Olympic analysis in the Toronto Star.

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: It’s About Recognizing The Realities

Over at Huffington Post, one of their columnists, JJ McCullough, is pontificating on Harper’s trip to Israel.  In the comments, we find HP blogger Mitch Wolfe making the following daft statement:

This article is an excellent summary of Harper’s pro Israeli policies. It also provides an excellent summary of the so-called pundits’ views of Harper’s pro Israeli position. The pundits, the Laurentian Consensus, Tony Burman of the Star and Simpson of the Globe, all fail to deal with Hamas, ” the camel in the room”. This is a terrorist organization that rules by violence and intimidation. There is no democracy, (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Harper’s New Anti-Semitism

Few things make me angrier than the propensity of the far right to twist things.  In today’s speech to Israel’s Knesset, we find this lovely little gem:

“A state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, that was founded so Jews can flourish as Jews, and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history,” he said. 

“That is condemned, and that condemnation is masked in the language of anti-racism. It is nothing short of sickening.” 

Harper allowed that criticism of Israeli government policy isn’t in and of itself “necessarily anti-Semitic.”

(Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Harper Is A Boy In Short Pants On Foreign Policy

When it comes to matters of Foreign Policy, Harper is neither subtle or particularly smart.  As with all things in Harper’s world, it’s all about partisan position and absolutes.

Yesterday’s announcement of Vivian Bercovici’s appointment as Canada’s new ambassador to Israel fits that pattern exactly.

Ms. Bercovici is one of those who is completely uncritical of the regime in Israel, and about as nuanced as Harper himself in her musings on the subject. In a Jan. 28, 2013, column in the Toronto Star, Bercovici praises Netanyahu and criticizes Palestinian leaders. 

“Many western governments, judging from their comments, hold (Read more…)

Akaash Maharaj - Practical Idealism: Akaash Maharaj – News: Corruption Declared a Crime Against Humanity

Reuters reports on our efforts at the United Nations: There are some forms of corruption so grave, whose effects on human life, human rights, and human welfare are so catastrophic, that they should shock the conscience of the international community and mobilise the will of nations to act across borders. They are Crimes Against Humanity, and should be prosecuted in the highest national and international courts.

Akaash Maharaj - Practical Idealism: Akaash Maharaj – Huffington Post: The True Cost of Political Corruption

Every year, political corruption kills 140 000 children across the world, by depriving them of food, water, and medical care. My GOPAC parliamentary colleagues and I are at the United Nations UNCAC to bring the worst offenders before the bar of international law.

Akaash Maharaj - Practical Idealism: Akaash Maharaj: The Summit of Caribbean Parliamentarians

My address to the Summit of Caribbean Parliamentarians in Trinidad: Apartheid gave us some of colonialism’s worst crimes, yet the choice of people of conscience to stand against Apartheid gave us both Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress, and Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian National Congress…All of us are shaped by history, but as leaders in our respective societies, we can refuse to be prisoners of history.

Akaash Maharaj - Practical Idealism: Akaash Maharaj: Fighting a Crime Against Humanity

My Huffington Post article: Political corruption kills 140 000 children annually, by depriving them of medical care, food, and water. Yet, far too often, the perpetrators of the most outrageous acts of corruption are able to use their illicit wealth and power to pervert the very laws and institutions that should call them to account. This past week, my GOPAC colleagues and I presented the United Nations UNCAC with a plan to bring them to justice.

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: More on Baird and Iran

People, even the media who watch such things, seem mystified by the Harper Government(tm) stance on Iran.

It’s no big surprise, really.  When I took this blog out from under wraps in May, I wrote a lengthy essay describing the “Modern Fascism” that Harper has been cultivating.  On foreign affairs, I wrote the following: Naturally, he would play on this in such a manner as to play up the idea that Canada is being marginalized on the world stage and use that to build up a form an nationalism not unlike what happened in Germany in the post-WWI years as (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: When Logic Does Not Factor Into Policy

Yesterday, Canada’s Minister for the Status of Women spoke on the recent decision for Canada to restrict funding related to War Rape and Forced Marriage victims to organizations and programs that exclude abortion. As a pediatric surgeon, she said she’s confident Canada has chosen to target its aid where it will do the most good. 

“We have to pick a targeted area, where we’re going to be able to have an impact,” Leitch said in a phone interview from New York. 

“As a physician, I’m very confident in saying that we have chosen the right one, that pre- (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: What Was That About "Not Re-Opening the Abortion Debate"?

Since 2006, Harper has repeatedly “refused” to open the abortion debate in Canada … or at least so he claims.

But then again, there’s the old saw about “actions speak louder than words”.  Once again, the Harper Government has taken actions which very clearly articulate where they stand.  On Huffington Post, the headline reads “Tories Won’t Fund Overseas Projects Allowing Abortion For War Rape, Child Brides“ International Development Minister Christian Paradis says the government will not fund overseas projects that allow war rape victims and child brides to obtain an abortion. 

But Paradis says the government’s policy would (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how Canada’s federal privacy law actually prohibits our own federal government from conducting secret surveillance (so long as it’s actually followed) – as well as how little that law means if countries don’t recognize that privacy applies beyond their borders.

For further reading…- Michelle Shepard reported here on Canada’s history of surveillance activities.  – The federal Privacy Act is here. See in particular section 11′s obligation to public lists of personal information collected by each government institution, as well as the treatment of exempt data banks in section 18.  – CSEC allows Canadians to (Read more…)

Akaash Maharaj - Practical Idealism: Akaash Maharaj: A Witness to Triumphs and Terrors

My article in the Huffington Post: Recently, work took me to Istanbul to meet with the Syrian resistance. We discussed options for the international community to help bring an end to the Syrian war, by destroying the financial networks that enable the Assad regime to purchase weapons and finance assaults against civilians.

The Sixth Estate: ICAO Won’t Relocate, But Not Because of Harper Government Diplomacy

Until yesterday, I suspect very few Canadian outside of the airlines industry actually knew that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the UN organization which promotes regulation of international air travel, had its headquarters in Montreal. Some more Canadians probably know it is today, and, as you probably know, the Harper government is trying to make it a cause celebre in their campaign to discredit the “international community” and, increasingly, to isolate Canada from the outside world.

This is a bit of a tempest in a teapot. It’s very unlikely that ICAO will actually relocate to Qatar, which has put (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: #mtlqc13 Priority Resolution – International Affairs

The NDP’s position on trade policy has of course been a hot-button issue both inside and outside the party – making it the area I’d see needing some discussion in Montreal. And while a number of other resolutions deal with the issue, one offers a particularly neat means to add an explicit commitment to the bigger picture while allowing for the approval of reasonable trade agreements (and avoiding unnecessary modifications to what’s already a well-worded section of the policy book). 4-21-13Resolution on Unfair Trade Practices Submitted by Beaches-East YorkBE IT RESOLVED the following clause be added to Section

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: #mtlqc13 Priority Resolution – International Affairs

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Lori Theresa Waller provides her own take on the Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights’ study on labour rights and inequality: In the 1970s, all provinces used the simple card check system, whereby an employer must legally recognize a union if the majority of workers sign membership cards. Since then, B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia have moved to requiring that workplaces also hold a vote before the union will be legally recognized.

…Studies have found that the additional requirement of holding a vote decreases the success of union organizing drives

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Edward Greenspon discusses the importance of a public service whose focus extends beyond the narrow interests of the government of the day: The hundreds of thousands of Canadians who work for governments, particularly those employed – in the evolving argot of recent decades – as knowledge workers or symbolic analysts or members of the creative class, are, in a sense, servants. They owe a duty of loyalty to carry out the programs and policies of the elected government of the day. But they also have a broader public duty to the pursuit . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: On unbalanced trade

When it comes to trying to justify perpetually-increasing restrictions on democratic governance in the guise of “free trade” agreements, advocates present two polar opposite views as to what such agreements are intended to accomplish.

The first – and more plausible – view of the actual and intended effect of trade agreements is that they primarily serve the purposes of the parties who push and negotiate them. When corporate interests and their pet Randians meet behind closed doors to draft agreements which will be subject to zero public accountability, it’s a safe bet that it’s the general public which stands to

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On unbalanced trade

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your Family Day.

- Gerald Caplan comments that it’s long past time to put the Senate out of its misery: Who knew that when well-known Canadians in 2011 begged old acquaintances now turned Conservative Senators to back a bill for cheap generic AIDS drugs for Africa, the senators would follow party orders instead? The bill had passed the House in the face of opposition by Stephen Harper’s minority government. Even many Conservative MPs supported it. Yet the Conservative majority in the Senate made sure it failed.…(T)here they were deliberately thwarting the wishes of the democratically

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Afternoon Links