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Politics and its Discontents: Sometimes, Clicking Your Heels Does Not Send You To Kansas

This thoughtful letter explains why:

Re: Tory MP takes aim at elections watchdog, April 9

When it comes to fairness and objectivity, I have more faith in the former auditor general of Canada, Sheila Fraser, and in the current chief electoral officer, Marc Mayrand, than in Pierre Poilievre, the arrogant Conservative minister of state for democratic reform. Whenever I see or hear the minister denigrating an upstanding Canadian citizen who has had the courage to express a sincere concern about the government’s so-called Fair Elections Act, I can’t help imagining Poilievre clicking his heels together each time he meets with (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: The Toronto Police Are At It Again

This is what happens when you have a ‘blue wall’ culture, facilitated by a police chief who often seems more politician than top cop. Sure, it is unfair and inaccurate to portray all police as abusers of their authority, but when it happens again and again, with little consequence, people can be forgiven for being wary of those who are supposed to protect and serve the public.

Here is one such victim:

The above is Curtis Young, arrested in January of 2012 for alleged public intoxication obstructing justice and later assaulting and threatening police officers.

As reported in The Star (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: C’Mon, We’ve All Been Thinking It

And now, thanks to Michael de Adder, we’ve got a picture to go along with those thoughts:

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Politics and its Discontents: Another Informed Star Reader

Christine Penner Polle of Red Lake offers some observations that I suspect few but the most ardent ideologues would dispute:

Re: Ottawa plans cuts to climate programs, March 12

Have we Canadians fallen down the rabbit hole? We are living in a Mad Hatter world where our federal government is slashing funding to Environment Canada’s climate change efforts at the same time scientists are raising the alarm about the threat of an unstable climate to our civilization, and where even staid, small “c” conservative institutions such as the IMF and the IEA are urging swift action to decrease emissions from (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: This Just In!

And it is very encouraging, in that it appears Canadians are beginning to wake up to the true nature of the Harper regime:

Nearly two-thirds of Canadians believe that the ruling Conservatives are settling political scores with their Fair Elections Act, a new poll has found. You can read all about it here.

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Politics and its Discontents: Andrea Horwath: Labour’s Fair-Weather Friend?

In light of her refusal to say much about anything, a political disease she may have caught from her federal cousins, Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath is being viewed increasingly as little more than a political opportunist. Probably the most recent example of this sad state is her reticence to articulate a position on Ontario’s minimum wage.

Two weeks ago, Martin Regg Cohn offered this:

When did the party of the working poor lose its voice? Listen to the sound of Horwath clearing her throat when she finally emerged from the NDP’s Witness Protection Program this week — nine days (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Heather Mallick And The Climate Of Fear

Toronto Star columnist Heather Mallick has a lacerating assessment this morning of the political landscape we now inhabit, thanks to the machinations of the Harper cabal. Owen, over at Norther Reflections, has a post on her piece that is well-worth reading.

I shall only add this from her column:

What an extraordinary thing to live a pleasant life in a western nation and yet fear your own government. But the Canada Revenue Agency’s new audits of environmental charities like Tides Canada, the David Suzuki Foundation and Environmental Defence in the midst of their continuing warnings about the effects of (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Economic Fact Check

Contrary to what our self-described economist Prime Minister would have us believe, the jobs that are being created in Canada today are but a pale echo of what once existed. Responding to a January report about the creation of 29,000 new jobs, Star readers have this to say:

Jump in jobs eases economy fears, Feb. 8

The article begins by saying “the labour market started 2014 with a bang adding 29,400 jobs,” presenting a positive tone regarding unemployment. This is misleading. From 2004 to 2008, according to Statistic Canada, nearly 350,000 well-paying manufacturing jobs disappeared, to be replaced by a (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: UPDATE: A Shameful Minister With No Shame

I can think of not one positive thing to say about Julian Fantino. Apparently, Toronto Star readers can’t either:

Fantino ‘absolutely regrets’ clash with veterans, Jan. 30

There is no possible excuse for the shameful treatment of our veterans by the federal Conservative government. Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino’s arrogant and disdainful behaviour with a delegation of veterans who met with him to lobby for keeping eight regional Veterans’ Affairs offices open is another low point of his career. He should resign or be fired.

These veterans put their lives on the line for our country without questioning whatever political (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: I Shop, Therefore I Am

First and foremost, how do you see yourself? Are you a citizen more than a consumer, or vice-versa? Are high-minded principles and vision your defining characteristic, or is how to get the best value for your money what drives you?

The questions that I just posed are, of course, on one level ludicrous, inasmuch as they suggest an either/or answer. Realistically, or at least ideally, we can be both. Yet to examine the rhetoric of our political ‘leaders’, our lives are defined by angst over cable selection, gasoline prices, and cellphone bills, and little else.

One of the books I (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: A World Badly In Need Of Inspired Leadership

Since he was elected to the position, I have written several posts related to Pope Francis; several of them express a renewed hope that the plain-speaking pontiff can generate some hope in a world badly in need of inspiring leadership, something almost wholly absent in our current crop of politicos, obsessed as they are first and foremost with the attainment and retention of power.

In response to a recent article by the Star’s Carol Goar, readers offer their perspective on what politicians could learn from Francis:

Goar: World leaders respond to Pope’s message, Opinion Jan. 12

Carol Goar’s piece on (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Narrowcasting And The Internet

Narrowcasting can be defined as the process of aiming a radio or TV program or programming at a specific, limited audience or consumer market. While it is a term that is applied to traditional media, Noah Richler suggests in an interesting article in today’s Star that increasingly, the Internet, by the choices people make, is quickly becoming a medium that is narrowing, not expanding, our capacity for critical thought.

While his article perhaps does not constitute a fresh insight, Richler points out that we are becoming increasingly susceptible to what he calls the tyranny of measurement, our propensity toward (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: A Lion In Winter

Like a bloated, aging and wounded lion who realizes his hold over his pride is at an end, Conrad Black is lashing out. Still licking his wounds from lacerations received at the hands of the CBC’s Carol Off, Black used his column in Saturday’s National Post (which as a rule I do not read, but more about that later) both to justify his journalistic ineptitude and to strike back at his growing list of adversaries who include Star editor Michael Cooke, Star columnist Rosie DiManno, The Star itself, and well, just about anyone else who finds fault with him.

(Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: A Lesson In Humility For The Good Lord?

While I readily admit to not having wasted my time watching Conrad Black’s interview with Toronto’s pretend-mayor, I did take special delight in the dressing-down he received at the hands of As It Happens’ Carol Off, as noted yesterday. One hopes that he learned something about real journalism from the encounter.

Today, two Star letter-writers offer their comments on the actual interview. Short version: they were not impressed. And given the fact that Star reporter Daniel Dale has decided to sue Vision TV, Zoomer Media, and Rob Ford, perhaps Moses Znaimer will have reason to reconsider his decision to employ (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: We Are All To Blame

Here is a letter from today’s Star that puts responsibility for the proliferating problem of deceitful, inept, corrupt and demagogic political leaders where it belongs: on all of our shoulders:

Re: How to cover a deceiver without airing mistruth? Opinion Nov. 6

Publisher John Cruickshank’s wonderful piece addresses what should be a deep concern in our society: the prevalent and amoral use of “spin.” In the 1960s, when I was being raised in Toronto, we called “spin” what it was: a lie.

The temerity of many people in our society, most notably those with whom we should have the (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: A Debt Owed To The Media

As fashionable as it is to denigrate the mainstream media for their frequent timidity and conservatism, public knowledge about both Rob Ford’s disgraceful performance as Mayor of Toronto and the current Senate scandal embroiling Stephen Harper, impeaching the integrity and honesty of both politicians, would not exist were it not for a diligent media, especially the press.

I have often stated in this blog that I am both proud and pleased to subscribe to The Toronto Star, given the integrity of its work and the fact that many of its investigations have resulted in change at both the local and (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: More On Quebec’s Purity Charter

If the above interests you, you may wish to take a few minutes to check out Haroon Siddiqui’s column in today’s Star. Entitled Pauline Marois issues fatwa on Quebec secularism, his thesis can be summed up in his final paragraph:

Marois is engaged in an ugly cultural warfare of the rightwing Republican kind. She is using religious minorities to fire up her base constituency. She figures that the more English Canada reacts strongly, the better for her. But we cannot fall into the trap of abandoning fundamental Canadian constitutional values.

While Siddiqui concentrates on the damage the Quebec purity (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: On Tasers And Tim

As usual, Star readers offer their penetrating commentary on recent events and the benighted Tim Hudak. Enjoy!

80-year-old woman tasered a day after rules changed, Sept. 4

I find it extremely disturbing that Peel Region police officers called to Thomas St. and Erin Mills Parkway on Aug. 28 around 3:30 a.m. were unable to “talk down” an obviously anguished 80-year-old woman. According to the article, the woman was “walking along the road,” which is not at all busy with traffic at that time of the morning. Surely, even if they could not get her off the road of her (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: A Restaurant To Avoid

Were I a Toronto resident, Richtree Market, a restaurant located in the Eaton Centre, is a business I would refuse to patronize. Its union-busting tactics should appall anyone who cares in the least about workers’ rights.

As reported in The Toronto Star, Reichtree Market began its dark anti-union journey in January, when it terminated all of its employees and closed the business. For Nazrul Islam, their chef for 25 years, it was a devastating blow:

“It was my first job in Canada and it had good benefits,” said the 57-year-old man who came from Bangladesh. “I was king of (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: The Problem With The Police Starts At The Top

Leadership is a word that evokes many associations; strength, vision, determination and resolve are a few of the positive ones. Selfishness, careerism, expediency and cowardice are but a few of many negative associations. In my own working life, I had perhaps three administrators I looked up to, the ones who put the good of education above personal ambition, pettiness and self-centreness. They were people I would have done anything for.

The rest I merely endured because I had no choice.

As I have often written in this blog, I see Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair as a failed leader, one (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Hee Hee Hee

Despite the misspelling in the caption, I rather like this cartoon, probably for obvious reasons.

As well, you may enjoy these letters from Star readers who have an even less flattering view of Mr. Harper as it pertains to his northern junket, escaping the heat via prorogation, and his ongoing senate ‘problems.’

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Politics and its Discontents: If Your Name Is Tim Hudak, This Can’t Be Good

When you are leading a major provincial political party, it is never a good sign when the country’s largest-circulating newpaper makes editorial sport of you:

Memo to Tim Hudak: Please stay as Ontario PC leader: Editorial

You lost an Ontario election in 2011 that you were to supposed to win; failed in two byelections last year; and dropped four out of five this month against a tired and scandal-prone government. But so what? You’re Tim Hudak, head of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, and winning isn’t everything.

Ignore the growing number of Tories worried they’ll never achieve power as long as (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Lessons Learned From Totalitarianism

Reflecting upon a recent visit to Berlin, Toronto Star columnist Edward Greenspon had this to say:

I was particularly struck by the lessons to be drawn from 1933 and 1934, when the Nazis were not yet at full swagger. Arguably, as the depths of their hatreds quickly surfaced, they could have been tripped up by foreign pressures and a modicum of domestic spine. But elite opinion and statecraft took the passive course of hoping the accidental chancellor would fall to his own excesses. When he didn’t, foreign powers sought to mollify rather than confront him.

He goes on to write:

(Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Sammy Yatim: One More Word

While I can’t promise this will be my last post on Sammy Yatim, I do want to direct you to Rosie DiManno’s column and a few comments from The Star’s readers that remind us of the real nature of this tragedy.

Writes DiManno:

I am sickened by the content of civilian-shot videos which captured that episode in and around the 505 streetcar. Notice that officers on the scene never established a perimeter — cars continuing to drive by, curious pedestrians approaching closely.

I am sickened that a situation so obviously limited in threat, so prime for sensible management and a (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: When Is Claiming To Take Full Responsibility Just A Platitude?

When it is proclaimed by Chris Spence, the disgraced former Director of the Toronto District School Board who lost his job earlier this year for extensive plagiarism.

In what the Toronto Star describes as a ‘far reaching interview,’ Spence says “there are no excuses for what I did; I didn’t give credit where credit was due.” Yet in the next breath he blames the work of a number of assistants over many years for the unattributed material.

Spence talks about the ‘soul-destroying depression’ that has engulfed him since the scandal broke, but also blames his own (Read more…)