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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Sunshine List Case hits the court #nlpoli

The public sector unions’ attack on freedom of information is finally in front of a judge.  The unions want to  block disclosure of the names of public servants in response to a request from the Telegram’s James McLeod for a list of public service positions in which the person holding the job makes more than $100,000 . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Sunshine List Case hits the court #nlpoli

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The value of inquiry #nlpoli

Information is good.Information is the basis of knowledge.Information is also power.That’s why people who have information don’t want others to have it.The power that comes from knowing is why some politicians, government officials and others, historic… . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The value of inquiry #nlpoli

Politics, Re-Spun: Just How Many BC Government Comms Staff Are There?

Below are all the job titles of all the comms staff in the BC Government Communications and Public Engagement bodies as of last week. Count with me! 🙂

There are 278 people!

278. That’s more than a few. The records include folks in these two areas:

Government Communications: which tends to the day-to-day communications functions, . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Just How Many BC Government Comms Staff Are There?

Politics and its Discontents: Mansbridge Revisited

The other day I posted a report on Peter Mansbridge speaking out against cuts to the CBC and the unprecedented secrecy that pervades public institutions under the current federal government. I gave some praise to the broadcaster for finally speaking out about important issues that potentially affect all of us.

My friend Dave, from . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Mansbridge Revisited

Politics and its Discontents: Peter Mansbridge Speaks Out

Readers of this blog will know that I am a frequent critic of both the CBC and Peter Mansbridge. Both ‘institutions,’ in my view, often fail to live up to the standards ethical and brave journalism demands. They have been far too passive, even complicit in, the Harper regime’s scorn for the so-called ‘state-broadcaster.’ . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Peter Mansbridge Speaks Out

Politics, Re-Spun: The BC Government Doesn’t Know Who Graduates With What. What?

I know. It’s true.

The BC government’s Ministry of Advanced Education has no data on who has graduated with what from BC universities in the last 40 years.

I know, hey.

You’d think it would be interesting to them, even because maybe some of them were curious.

Maybe some of them would want to do . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: The BC Government Doesn’t Know Who Graduates With What. What?

Politics, Re-Spun: Facebook Is the New AOL/Compuserve Big Brother

The evolution of the decay of Facebook privacy.

The late, great Neil Postman once wrote that we’d more likely voluntarily embrace the fascism of Huxley’s Brave New World than Orwell’s 1984. The corporate version of this is the crack-like addiction a billion people have to the Facebook.

But it’s worse than you thought, . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Facebook Is the New AOL/Compuserve Big Brother

Politics, Re-Spun: Online Surveys, No Longer Much Fun

Once upon a time, it was fun to take online polls. For lots of reasons. But one of my favourites was to watch how poorly polls could be constructed.

Once, six years ago, Innovative Research Group put a racist poll into the field. It included questions about whether I had favourable or unfavourable feelings about . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Online Surveys, No Longer Much Fun

Politics, Re-Spun: Class War: US$11.5 Trillion Hidden in Tax Havens

Which tax haven is right for you?

Class war is alive and well.

I have this rose-coloured, nostalgic dream of history. Once upon a time we emerged from feudalism with a democratic revolution. All were equal. Well, most.

But the hope of democracy was to rid the world of the despot rule of . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Class War: US$11.5 Trillion Hidden in Tax Havens

Alberta Diary: The real reason upgrading bitumen in Alberta ‘doesn’t make sense’

A bitumen processing plant near Fort McMurray, back in the day. Below: An actual bitumen bubble.

The government of Alberta is “desperate” to get the province’s bitumen resources to market, as its media echo chamber relentlessly informs us.

And it says it’s equally desperate to pop the “Bitumen Bubble,” the alliterative but misleading . . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: The real reason upgrading bitumen in Alberta ‘doesn’t make sense’

Politics, Re-Spun: Aaron Swartz, Intellectual Property and the Public Good

Should academic work be locked up like Disney[tm] artifacts?

I’ve been quite inspired by this very good analysis of the context surrounding Aaron Swartz’s suicide.

As news spread last week that digital rights activist Aaron Swartz had killed himself ahead of a federal trial on charges that he illegally downloaded a large database . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Aaron Swartz, Intellectual Property and the Public Good

The Canadian Progressive: Operation Last Resort: Anonymous Declares ‘War’ On U.S. Government

Hacktivist collective threatens massive WikiLeaks-style exposure of potentially-damaging secrets. by Guest Blogger | Jan 27, 2013 In response to the death of Internet activist , Reddit programmer and extraordinary hacker, Aaron Swartz, Anonymous has declared “war” on the U.S. government with an operation code-named “Operation Last Resort”. Late Friday the hacktivist collective hacked the United . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: Operation Last Resort: Anonymous Declares ‘War’ On U.S. Government

Canadian ProgressiveCanadian Progressive: Anonymous: The Betrayal Of Wikileaks

Last week, the hacktivist collective Anonymous dumped WikiLeaks. Anonymous accuses WikiLeaks’ beleagured founder Julian Assange of turning the whistle-blowing website into a one man “Julian Assange show”. Below is the full text of Anonymous’ statement explaining the divorce: Greetings World – In December of 2010 Anonymous came to the defense of and began supporting the . . . → Read More: Canadian ProgressiveCanadian Progressive: Anonymous: The Betrayal Of Wikileaks

eaves.ca: On Being Misquoted – Access Info Europe and Freedominfo.org

I’ve just been alerted to a new post out on Freedominfo.org has quotes of mine that are used in way that is deeply disappointing. It’s never fund to see your ideas misused to make it appear that you are against something that you deeply support.

The most disappointing misquote comes from Helen Darbishire, a European . . . → Read More: eaves.ca: On Being Misquoted – Access Info Europe and Freedominfo.org

Left Over: Pussy Riot? Can you Say Assange?

A well-known British politician, who is considered a bit of a ‘radical’ in the best sense, in the UK, has launched a defence of Julian Assange, pointing out that, should Assange be convicted of what he is accused of, there would be no penalty in Britain, since his alleged acts are not illegal in Britain..

. . . → Read More: Left Over: Pussy Riot? Can you Say Assange?

Politics and its Discontents: Would I Lie To You?

Faith can be a marvelous thing, one that people take strength from as they go about their daily lives. One meaning of faith, as offered by Oxford Dictionaries online, encapsulates this idea:

strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.

However, there is . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Would I Lie To You?

centerandleft: Conservative Transparancy Now Scientifically Proven to be a Joke

51st place isn’t necessarily always a bad thing. The 51st wealthiest person in the world, or the 51st smartest are blessed to be so lucky. It’s a placement they can be proud of.

When your country is ranked 51st on any list, it is unlikely to be a source of such national pride, especially when . . . → Read More: centerandleft: Conservative Transparancy Now Scientifically Proven to be a Joke

CANADIAN PROGRESSIVE WORLD: Harper Government Must Set Canadian Scientists Free

Nature, one of the biggest and most-read scientific journals in the world, made this call in a February 29th editorial. The journal lamented the Harper Government’s undisguised hostility to openness, expert opinion and publicly-funded scientific expertise. Rightly so.

At some point, the government’s stated communication policy, posted on a federal website and directed civil servants, . . . → Read More: CANADIAN PROGRESSIVE WORLD: Harper Government Must Set Canadian Scientists Free

Politics and its Discontents: Freedom of Information: Turkey, Mexico and India, Yes – Canada, Not So Much

The Harper obsession with secrecy and control is well-known and the source of much international attention. However, it seems we now have new reason to be both embarrassed and outraged. According to the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), our country also lags behind other less developed nations in meeting freedom of information . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Freedom of Information: Turkey, Mexico and India, Yes – Canada, Not So Much

Right of Center Ice: Wikileaks: It’s not free speech

Part 1: An issue of semantics?

Maybe I’m splitting hairs, but I don’t necessarily view the Wikileaks drama as being an exercise of acting on a person’s right to free speech. My question: how is it a person’s right to be able to view a confidential document, pass judgment on it, and leak it . . . → Read More: Right of Center Ice: Wikileaks: It’s not free speech

Railroaded by Metrolinx: This is not my Canada; This is not my Media

There was a time when the pen was mightier than the sword. That was a time when people believed in truth and regarded truth as an independent power and not as an auxiliary for government, class, race, ideological, personal, or financial interest.
Paul Craig Roberts
Good-Bye: Truth Has Fallen and Taken Liberty With It

At the end of September, Rick Salutin, an award-winning, left-leaning columnist, was fired by the Globe and Mail. His second last article, ‘Stephen Harper – the last Straussian?’ received over 590 comments. The first sentence is pure Salutin:

People keep asking why Stephen Harper acts as he does, it looks so buttheaded. He seems to muck up his own prospects: firing decent people, lashing out, raising the partisan rhetoric, proroguing Parliament haughtily, binging on military toys, mauling the census – he’s a bright boy, it’s hard to figure.

I am curious why the Globe and Mail is not publishing the numerous letters questioning why Rick Salutin was fired for writing articles of such gravitas, and supporting his twenty years of incisive political analysis. Indeed, Rick Salutin’s final paragraph in his last article, ‘Rob Ford and the loss of Hope’, was censored by the Globe and Mail, as farewells are ‘not permitted’. Rick gives a clarion call against Rob Ford coming to power, and states ‘It’s the failure or shortfall of hope that leads to fear.’ As the London School of Economics responded by letter to the Queen, when she asked why their experts had not foreseen the economic meltdown of 2008, that ‘it was a failure of imagination’, so it will be for Toronto if we elect Rob Ford, and turn back the progressive policies enacted during the past seven years under Mayor Miller. Our actions will show that we no longer believe that our city that it can be a better place to live, and we will permit it to be ruled by suburban interests, rather than responsible urban planning and engaged environmental and social stewardship. Collectively, we care much more than Rob Ford for our city, and we have much more knowledge of how it can be run.

Is such a censored dismissal Straussian, Globe and Mail? Hundreds of thousands of readers, and Rick, deserve a proper explanation. ‘Redesigning’ is not enough. PM Harper pays $75,000 of our tax money to have a new media company monitor negative online comments, and no doubt, he just pressed the panic button to notify them to quickly repudiate the readers’ indignation and howls of support for Rick. You can read the online comments here. Off with his head, the Conservative Privy Council Office said, and the Thomsons agreed. It doesn’t pay to be controversial.

In their attempt to attract younger Internet savvy readers, who are not accustomed to investigative reporting, and prefer larger pictures, the Globe and Mail has revamped the newspaper to have a more glossy tabloid look and feel, with one of the issues that ‘define Canadians’ extolling the bright future of the armed forces. In the Globe’s recent ‘Canada: Our Time to Lead’ TV ad, touting the redesign, a young woman, riding a bicycle on a country road toward the camera, says that ‘Canada is not defined by universal health care or peacekeeping’. Funny- last time a poll was run in Canada, 80% of respondents said healthcare is the crown jewel, and distinguishing attribute of Canadian society, and why we accept high taxation levels. This subtext of this ad asks us to envision a new Canada, militarized and ‘open for international business’- a corporate Canada we are beginning to know, driven by unsustainable, neoliberal policies for endless exploitation. Who will take care of us when media corporations own us, and our messaging? Curiously, Irshad Manji, ‘Osama bin Laden’s worst nightmare’ has been chosen to replace Rick Salutin. The independence of the fourth estate is no longer.

This silencing of the media opposition is just another instance of what I have known for some time- the leftwing media is being censored and sidelined, soon to be extinguished, as part of the campaign against freedom of information in Canada. PM Harper holds a stranglehold on media relations stronger than any other prime minister in Canadian history. The scientific community’s head, and right to speak, is on the block, as well, as the byzantine process of asking for scientific data has been enforced, no doubt, to control press releases about the recent, peer-reviewed report about the poisoning of the Athabasca River due to the runoff of the tarsands’ tailings ponds. It is hard to speak when your head has been cut off.

On July 27th, I launched a formal CRTC complaint regarding the inequitable coverage of the G20, which prioritized images of police cars burning over issues peacefully presented by non profit and non governmental organizations. On August 16th, I received a phone call from a bigwig in one of the major Canadian TV networks. His tone was pugilistic, and twenty-five minutes later, after he mocked my commitment to march, I felt discredited, and verbally beaten up, for defending my rights to have adequate, or any, media coverage of the civil society response to the G20. I was told that footage of the ‘violent riots was fresh, new, important and newsworthy’, whereas the democratic discourse surrounding the dismantling of civil society, and fire sale of Canada to private interests, was a tale told again, and again, and was simply not newsworthy. ‘Anyway,’ I was told, ‘the people in the Labour Parade on Saturday did get 30 seconds of airtime.’ Let’s divide 25-40,000 citizens by thirty seconds each, and see if they can get a word in edgewise.

I hung up the phone feeling that the onus was on the left to provide more and more flamboyant spectacles of protest, and that the left, by its nature diverse in its concerns, is beholden to provide a unified message for easy media consumption. It is the job of activist organizations to be credible public relations firms, and perform theatrically, for a few seconds of media coverage, although the pockets of our opposition run deep, lined with our tax money being readied to be used against us, such as hiring a new media firm to troll online comments, or looping clips of a police car burning ad infinitum. Whoever controls the media, controls the mind (Jim Morrison).

What is newsworthy was the current exponential speed, impact, and secretiveness of the media campaign attempted by the Prime Minister’s Office to extinguish our democratic right to free speech through a Category 1 news channel, SunTV, nicknamed ‘Fox News North’ by Margaret Atwood. Fox has repeatedly undercut President Obama during his time in office, and its unrelenting critique of his administration is often perilously close to slander. SunTV would be a mirror image of Fox News, and a house organ of the Conservative party, as developed by Kory Teneycke, Mr. Harper’s former director of communications. Next, the Conservative Party will try to beam this news channel into schools as part of the curriculum, just after students rise for the new national anthem – ‘O Say can you See’. ‘No, I cannot, I do not have access to different media sources and opinions. I am blinkered by the government.’ The public outcry has been swift, and there are over 87,000 signatures on a petition against this news channel initiative on Avaaz.org.

As a new media professor, I am aware that investigative reporting has become increasingly expensive for news networks, and print media, as media content becomes less profitable because of online access to primary source coverage, and decreased advertising revenue (read Clay Shirky’s ‘Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable’). I was reminded by the TV network representative that the alternative press culls from the mainstream media’s content through search engines, yet his company bears the brunt of employing stringers on Parliament Hill. If I had had greater presence of mind, I would have reminded him that the alternative press reporters were denied access to the Fake Lake media press resort during the G20.

Disenchanted after the phone call, I was left feeling that mainstream media assumes that involved analysis regarding policy is considered too complex for the average citizen. This is condescending in the extreme, as evidenced in the brilliant citizen media reportage in the Real News Network, Democracy Now, and Tyee, which use the web and Youtube as outlets for distribution. I have turned to citizen media to supplement my media diet, and found such gems as Kevin P. Miller’s “A QUESTION OF SOVEREIGNTY”, which defends John Turner’s nationalistic views of Canada. Historically, it recounts Mulroney’s free trade agreement in 1988, and Bills C-51 and C-6, which have formed the basis of the yet-to-be passed Bill C-36.

Bill C-36 needs to be stopped for the following reasons, according to Kevin P. Miller:

In the new Bill C-36, Health Canada has proposed that the powers provided to Parliament should be forfeited so that Canada can “honour its international agreements and commitments.” If Bill C-36 and similar Bills are adopted, foreign entities, multinational corporate interests, Codex, WTO and WHO would be free to write self-serving laws that affect Canadians — and they could do so by bypassing Parliament completely.

Perhaps this is what they mean by ‘Free Trade’ — ‘free’ of oversight by elected officials.

In three weeks, PM Harper will attempt to hammer the last nail into the Comprehensive European Trade Agreement, which will make us the only company in the world which has free trade agreements with both the US and Europe, undercutting our sovereign ability to control international trade agreements, provide municipal services, and employ our own citizens. The government is dismantling regulation federally through C-36, and sub-nationally through CETA.

And despite signs, signs, everywhere signs, all 8,500 Economic Action Plan signs, carefully monitored by PM Harper and his Privy Council Office, with obligatory, Monday updates by eighteen, overstretched departments and agencies, that my quality of life is better under the Conservative regime, I know that there has been more environmental destruction during my lifetime than any other generation, and that PM Harper, and his ongoing advocacy of the tarsands, thus oil consumption, is directly related to why over three hundred diesel, rather than electric, trains daily will be running blocks from my house, and directly through and beside seven west-end parks, affecting my community’s health, until 2020. Rob Ford, of course, cannot be convinced that the upcoming cost of 33 diesel engines and 11 ARL vehicles is three times that of electric, and that the final tally is even higher, once electric vehicles are bought in 2020 to replace diesel.

One of these Economic Action Plan signs is planted in front of the field house in MacGregor Park. I have written about my neighbourhood park, MacGregor Park, extensively in my blog, and enclosed this Youtube clip of children performing there:

I recognize this sign for what it is – part of a false advertising media campaign generated, controlled and tightly monitored by the federal Conservative Party. This flimsy sign is just another testament to the federal, and provincial, disregard of environmental and urban planning policy in citizens’ best interests, constrained by the tightening of restrictions on access to environmental information, and the loosening of these regulations to privilege sole-sourced contracts to their corporate allies. Prisons, fighter jets, and the creation of a Conservative news network are more important than the right of children to play without harm to their health, and Ontario’s right to clean, quiet, sustainable transit. The direct cost to me? At least $1000.

To finish as I began, another quote by Paul Craig:

Wherever one looks, truth has fallen to money.
Wherever money is insufficient to bury the truth, ignorance, propaganda, and short memories finish the job.

The policies being tabled will affect us long after the memories of the Action Plan have faded. Afterwards, we will ask “Where is my Toronto? Where is my Canada? And where is my media?” if we do not speak in defense of the dismissal of Rick Salutin, in support of a progressive mayor, and against the passing of C-36, and the final round of CETA, now. Unlike PM Harper, I believe Canadians are fully capable of determining our own international trade agreements, contracts for municipal services, and need for univeral healthcare, all of which require sovereignty, and a strong Mayor of Toronto working on our behalf.

Call to Action:
To defend Rick, please email: letters@globeandmail.ca, jstackhouse@globeandmail.com, nacampbell@globeandmail.com, sstewart@globeandmail.com

To support the fight against CETA, please demand permanent exemption for municipalities from CETA by supporting the Council of Canadians, and emailing your city councillors to support the Logan Lake Resolution, and also to vote against C-36.
More at http://www.canadians.org/action/2010/CETA-1709.html

References:
Paul Craig Roberts,’Good-Bye: Truth Has Fallen and Taken Liberty With It’ at http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2010/03/26/good-bye-truth-has-fallen-and-has-taken-liberty-with-it/
Rick Salutin,’Stephen Harper – the last Straussian?’ at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/stephen-harper-the-last-straussian/article1710880/
Rick Salutin, ‘Rob Ford and the loss of Hope’, at http://rabble.ca/columnists/2010/09/rob-ford-and-loss-hope
Globe TV Ad, ‘Canada: Our Time to Lead’, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/video/canada-our-time-to-lead/article1736099/?from=1735276
Bruce Wark, ‘Rick Salutin out as Friday Globe columnist’ at
http://www.thecoast.ca/RealityBites/archives/2010/09/29/rick-salutin-out-as-friday-globe-columnist
Kathryn O’Hara, ‘Canada must free scientists to talk to journalists’ at
http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100929/full/467501a.html
Clay Shirky,’Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable’ at
http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2009/03/newspapers-and-thinking-the-unthinkable/
Jane Taber, ‘Margaret Atwood Takes on Fox News North’
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/margaret-atwood-takes-on-fox-news-north/article1692853/
Avaaz.org Petition, ‘Canada: Stop “Fox News North’- Close to 100,000 signatures, and important to sign!
http://www.avaaz.org/en/no_fox_news_canada/?cl=716944315&v=7018
Kevin P. Miller, ‘A Question of Sovereignty’,
http://www.aquestionofsovereignty.com/ and
http://web.me.com/kevinpmiller/kevin/KEVIN_MILLERS_WORLD/Entries/2010/8/26_A_QUESTION_OF_SOVEREIGNTY.html
‘Green Pan Am Games, Green Parks and the Right to Play’ at
http://railroadedbymetrolinx.blogspot.com/2009/11/green-pan-am-games-green-parks-and.html

. . . → Read More: Railroaded by Metrolinx: This is not my Canada; This is not my Media

Railroaded by Metrolinx: This is not my Canada; This is not my Media

There was a time when the pen was mightier than the sword. That was a time when people believed in truth and regarded truth as an independent power and not as an auxiliary for government, class, race, ideological, personal, or financial interest.Paul Craig RobertsGood-Bye: Truth Has Fallen and Taken Liberty With It

At the . . . → Read More: Railroaded by Metrolinx: This is not my Canada; This is not my Media