Prog Blog’s Flickr Photostream

Politics and its Discontents: Another Group Shames Harper

It is to be hoped that the closer we move to next year’s election, more and more Canadians will be wagging their fingers at Stephen Harper for his various acts of destruction in this country. For now, let’s enjoy the fact that this group is doing it for us: An organization known for its efforts to improve scientific integrity within the U.S. government is taking aim at Prime Minister Stephen Harper over policies and funding cuts that it says are detrimental to Canadian public science.

In an open letter released Tuesday, the Union of Concerned Scientists urged Mr. Harper (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Let The Sun Shine

Like the vampires of fiction who cling to the darkness as they carry out their nefarious, life-depleting ravages on their prey, the Harper regime best operates in the dark, away from the light of public scrutiny as it continues to suck the vitality out of our democracy. (Sorry for the lurid metaphor, but it does seem to be dramatically apt.) While it is a topic I have written about many times on this blog, I am sure I’m in good company when I say that only by bringing as many of these deeds into the light do we stand (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Just A Reminder About The Regime Under Which We Chafe

In case you missed the story of yet another Harper-led CRA threat against charities that object to the regime’s policies of environmental despoliation, you can read about it here, here, or here. Recommend this Post

Politics and its Discontents: Michael Harris’ New Book

Veteran journalist and current national affairs columnist for iPolitics, Michael Harris, has just had his new book on Stephen Harper published. While the 500-page tome, entitled Party of One: Stephen Harper and Canada’s Radical Makeover, may offer nothing startlingly new to those of us who follow national politics closely, it serves as both a useful reminder of the democratic depredations Harper is responsible for, as well as an alert to those who are so disengaged as to regard him as a benign presence on the political landscape. While few of the latter will likely read the book, I suggest (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: We All have To Stand Against This Blatant Reign Of Intimidation And Tyranny

Although I have written many posts on this topic, each new incident once again evokes in me a visceral reponse bordering upon hatred for this government. The Harper regime is back at it again, using the CRA to intimidate people who are critical of its policies or in any way impede the flow of oil progress.

This time, the victims are birdwatchers, yes, that’s right, birdwatchers – The Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists.

CBC reports the following: The Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists, a registered charity, is apparently at risk of breaking tax agency rules that limit so-called political or partisan activities.

Earlier this (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: About That Fifth Columnist In Ottawa….

Star readers have much to say:

Harper downplays concerns about trade deal, Sept. 27

It’s a dangerous world but Big Oil, multinationals, banks, the wealthy and his party’s masters can rest easy in the knowledge that Secret Agent Stephen Harper has their collective backs.

He knows how to keep a secret and he’s always on the job fighting democracy and protecting the rights of those who count and those who pay to win. They know their rightful place as the rulers of Earth is assured.

The snivelling masses will be starved of inclusion (or even information) and begin to realize (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Offered For Your Consideration

While King Stephen has grown positively garrulous with the American media, there’s one little detail he seems to have forgotten:

H/t Graeme Mackay Recommend this Post

Politics and its Discontents: On The Training of Marine Mammals (a.k.a. MPs)

As I mentioned in a blog post the other day, I am currently reading Tragedy in the Commons, a book that examines the gross deficits to be found in Canadian parliamentary democracy. One of the recurring complaints of the former MPs interviewed for the book is the lack of independence afforded them, ethereby rendering them unable to effectively represent the interests of their constituents, interests that are routinely superseded by the chief priority of the party, which is to gain and maintain power.

Former Conservative Member of Parliament Brent Rathgeber, now sitting as an independent, is intimately (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Tragedy In The Commons

I know that I am hardly alone in sometimes thinking that the insights and observations of progressives have a Cassandra-like quality to them; we think we can see patterns auguring ill for our country and our democracy, but warnings are largely ignored by a quiescent or alienated proportion of the population, the latter so turned off by the cupidity and corruption that seems to abound in the political world that they have just disengaged and decided to pursue other aspects of life that seem more worthwhile.

One can argue that it has always been thus; others can, quite cogently, (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: A New Season Beckons, But Nothing Changes

Many people think of September as the real beginning of the new year: kids go off to school, summer transitions to fall, fall fashions appear in the stores, and new careers are embarked upon. Sadly, our political culture seems resistant to change. True, this year there are municipal elections pending in October in Ontario, but on the federal level, the status quo continues, and the abuses of power persist. In so many ways it is like the peculiar time-loop situation Bill Murray found himself in in Groundhog Day.

Yesterday provided a stark reminder of the ruthless vindictiveness of the Harper (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Time To Revisit The Question Of Mandatory Voting?

In her column today, Susan Delacourt suggests that it is. While my own opposition to mandatory voting, the reasons for which I outlined in an earlier post, remains unchanged, she does offer a rather tantalizing reason for its consideration:

Some of the dumbing-down of discourse, in particular, has taken place because political campaigns have become preoccupied with simply getting out the vote (often with shiny baubles) rather than a debate of ideas.

If it would mean the end of the notorious Conservative ‘narrowcasting’ to its base, with their repugnant and divisive appeals to the basest instincts of voters, there might (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Our Anti-Democratic Democracy

This morning, in my print edition of The Toronto Star, I saw the following headline: Canadian scientists to be placed in isolation. While it turned out to be a story about the evacuation of a Canadian medical team helping to fight Ebola in Sierra Leone, for a brief moment I thought it concerned the latest efforts by the Harper regime to muzzle our scientists.

I can perhaps be forgiven for my initial confusion. Reading Paul Wells’ book on Stephen Harper, The Longer I’m Prime Minister, two things become apparent: the Harper regime is in constant re-election mode, and a (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Harper’s Reign Of Terror – A Closer Examination

While Stephen Harper’s attacks on charities have been followed here and elsewhere, the Star presents a good overview of how the offices of the CRA have been subverted by a vindictive regime that brooks no opposition to its neoliberal agenda.

The article begins with the egregious case of CoDevelopment Canada, a small Vancouver charity that works with its Latin American partners in helping to fund programs that assist the poor. Apparently, if that assistance threatens to upset the corporate status quo, a crime has been committed in Harperland.

One of CoDev’s Latin American partners is the Maria Elena Cuadra (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Our Poisoned Political Culture

Whether true or not, Canadians can, I think, be forgiven for wondering, quite seriously, whether the Harper cabal was somehow involved in the ominous break-in at Justin Trudeau’s home while his family was asleep. A destabilizing and disturbing crime for anyone who has experienced such a violation, it is clearly weighing heavily on the Liberal leader, who must be away from his family for extended periods of time. That may be the intended effect.

Perhaps Harper and his acolytes had nothing to do with it, but entertaining such suspicions is surely not unwarranted owing to the pernicious and poisonous political (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Mission Accomplished.

Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh…..

H/t Canadians Rallying to Unseat Stephen Harper Recommend this Post

Politics and its Discontents: Harper’s Reign Of Terror: Targeted Charities Begin To Fight Back

It was with a certain pleasure that I read in Monday’s Star that some international aid charities are banding together to challenge the Harper-directed CRA witch hunt into charities that promote views counter to government policy:

A dozen such groups conferred last week about a joint strategy to present to agency officials next month, a reversal from the last two years, when many charities refrained from speaking out for fear of aggravating the taxman.

The challenge by a dozen charities, many of which have been or currently are being subjected to CRA audits/witch hunts, is being conducted under the aegis (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Poilievre Declares War on "Radical Unions"

Posted by MoS, the Disaffected Lib:

Pierre Backpfeifengesicht Poilievre has declared Conservative war on Canada’s “radical” unions and their electoral meddling. The Parliamentary Punk has sent out a letter asking for 5-dollar contributions to help the CPC fight back the union menace in the next general election.

Poilievre has singled out Sid Ryan and the Ontario Federation of Labour as the Tories’ arch enemy. The beggar’s bowl letter begins:


I’ll be blunt – the stakes have never been higher.

We’re not just fighting Thomas Mulcair’s NDP and Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.

This time, we’re also fighting a radical union (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Harper’s Reign Of Terror – Part Six

The latest installment of this series illustrating the Harper regime’s subversion of the Canada Revenue Agency to punish nonprofits for opposing government policies also demonstrates its pathologically secretive nature.

The following was recently reported in The Globe and Mail:

Since Ottawa first started cracking down on political activities among charities in 2012, Pen Canada has filed a series of access-to-information requests seeking, among other things, the criteria auditors use to determine what, exactly, constitutes political activity.

The Harper cabal has refused to release this information, offering only a heavily redacted CRA training booklet that listed “Specific Audit Guidelines,” as (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Harper’s Reign Of Terror: Star Readers Respond

Stephen Harper’s attack on those charities that refuse to hew to the regime’s dogma and ideology is becoming increasingly recognized for what it is: the wanton, immoral, unethical and likely illegal actions of a martinet who will brook no opposing views. Lacking even a modicum of subtlety, his purpose is to send an unequivocal message to induce a pervasive chill in nonprofits.

Yesterday, I took special delight in reading a series of letters from Toronto Star readers who are almost uniform in their condemnation of this unfit subversive who is undermining the democratic traditions of our country and the Canada (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Urban Camouflage for Canada’s Soldiers?

The past dozen or so years have left most of us familiar with the pixelated camouflage pattern, pioneered in Canada, and worn by many nations’ soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Americans are now going back to a more traditional camouflage for their combat uniforms. Canada, however, is not. We already have three variants of the pixelated pattern – a rich green pattern for temperate forests, the desert tan we see so often and a white/grey winter-Arctic camo.

It turns out there’s a fourth pixelated pattern under development, an urban camouflage that our warriors can use presumably in our cities. (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Harper’s Reign Of Terror – Part Five

As in the previous installments, this post examines the Harper regime’s unrelenting attacks on nonprofits that in any way oppose or criticize its agenda. The latest target is CoDevelopment Canada (CoDev), whose website lists the following as its mission:

CoDevelopment Canada is a B.C.-based NGO that works for social change and global education in the Americas. Founded in 1985 by a group of activists who wanted to go beyond financial aid, CoDev builds partnerships between like-minded organizations in Canada and Latin America to foster learning, social change, and community empowerment. These partnerships educate Canadians about Latin America (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: How To Stop Stephen Harper’s Use of The CRA As An Instrument Of Terror: The Beginnings Of A Plan

Lately I have been writing some posts on Stephen Harper’s reign of terror, his relentless attacks on charities that oppose his agenda. Groups as diverse as the United Church of Canada, Oxfam, and PEN Canada have fallen victim to this vindictive miscreant, undergoing audits thanks to the Prime Minister’s misuse of the CRA as his chief weapon. The more I read and learn about this egregious and contemptible misuse of power, the more upset and angry I become, given that this strikes at the heart of one of our most treasured freedoms, the right of free speech. I have been (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Harper’s Reign of Terror – Part Four

Except, that is, in Harperland. The latest Orwellian edict to come down from the Harper-directed CRA, reported by The Winnipeg Free Press, is as follows:

The Canada Revenue Agency has told a well-known charity that it can no longer try to prevent poverty around the world, it can only alleviate poverty — because preventing poverty might benefit people who are not already poor.

The bizarre bureaucratic brawl over a mission statement is yet more evidence of deteriorating relations between the Harper government and some parts of Canada’s charitable sector.

The lexical scuffle began when Oxfam Canada filed papers with (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Harper’s Reign of Terror – Part Three

The prospect of being hanged focuses the mind wonderfully. – Samuel Johnson

While I doubt that many within the Harper regime are literary types or schooled in the humanities, I suspect the above quotation or variants thereof represents the underlying spirit of their relentless attacks on nonprofits that oppose the government’s ruthless agenda.

And now there are indications that the noose is tightening, that the focus of those attacks is widening, with the purpose not only of cowing advocacy groups into silence lest they lose their charitable status, but also their supporters.

Today’s Star offers this chilling lead:

Canadian charities (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: King Stephen And The Law Of Diminishing Returns

Last evening I wrote a brief post on how the Harper regime is exploiting the tragedy in Gaza for political gain.

Anon responded with the following:

It is worse than no shame. It is disgusting. Over 630 people have died, including 30 Israelis and over 600 Palestinians, mostly non combatants and civilians including children. And he uses it as an opportunity to fundraise? And Cons supporters are OK with it? No wonder they are called the Nasty Party by pundits (e,g, Hebert, Coyne).

That comment got me thinking about the much-vaunted Tory base, which, perhaps, is beginning to show some (Read more…)