Prog Blog’s Flickr Photostream

Susan on the Soapbox: If Not Harper, Then Who?

“I’ve seen issues come up before that get a lot of press attention, and sometimes a photograph or sometimes a side issue can move votes, but I always believe that the big votes are moved on the big issues. I don’t believe that most people are attracted by the rabbit tracks of day-to-day media coverage.”—Stephen Harper

Hell will freeze over before anyone in the Soapbox family votes for Stephen Harper’s Conservative party; our big question is how do we decide between the Liberal candidate, Kent Hehr and the NDP candidate, Jillian Ratti?

Here’s a thought.

Let’s compare their party’s (Read more…) Truth Out: What’s Going On With the TPP?

TPP Update: After years of secret negotiations, we’ve just learned U.S. Trans-Pacific Partnership officials have decided to appoint a “Chief Transparency Officer.” So who did they pick? One of their own lawyers, Tim Reif. Not exactly encouraging. TPP provisions will grievously hurt the Internet and our right to free expression! We need to speak out at

Article by Maira Sutton (EFF) for Truth Out

read more

drive-by planet: Don’t believe the hype

Alberta Diary: Albertans have a right to ask questions about the integrity and preservation of their government’s records

Alberta Tories contemplate their departure from the Legislature. Actual Progressive Conservative Government officials may not leave office in exactly the manner illustrated. Below: But if they do, is this the fate of their secrets? Below that: the late premier Ralph Klein and privatization advocate and cabinet minister Steve West.

There’s a whiff of panic in the air nowadays in some of the most politicized corners of the Alberta government.

Of course, every government that has been in power for more than a few years, regardless of its ideology or party name, has secrets it would rather not reveal.

But with (Read more…)

THE CANADIAN PROGRESSIVE: Canada setting new global standard for TPP secrecy: Council of Canadians

Despite being less than a week away from hosting hundreds of negotiators and other officials from the other 11 TPP member countries, the Canadian government has kept a tight lid on any details about the Ottawa meeting.

The post Canada setting new global standard for TPP secrecy: Council of Canadians appeared first on THE CANADIAN PROGRESSIVE.

Melissa Fong: #Urbanarium2014: How to build a truly “Engaged City”?

“Engaged City” was unanimously passed yesterday, and it seems like the pundits are all out criticizing the process. … Democratization of the planning process is a fundamental problem with bureaucratic institutions; government is fundamentally hierarchical. Do we target Vision Vancouver? NPA? Nah*- There is a problem with the plumbing and none of them are plumbers…. An Urbanarium, in its basic sense, is a three-dimensional model of the city. If a developer wanted to propose a development, they would have to create a 3-D model of the building(s) and place it on the model city for public review. I can still remember (Read more…)

Melissa Fong: DTES Local Area Plan- Speaker #5, on Amendments

We need to respect the experiential knowledge of DTES residents that understand how the plan violates their security. Not fundamentally opposed to Vision- but you have to realize reality. If you insist on the ideology of “social mix” you also have to set up the circumstances for dignity of all people- not just a veil. I wanted to make clear: 60/40 Would only be acceptable if all of the 60% was at welfare rates Microsuites in principle are okay- perhaps we need to deal with smaller living spaces; however the sizes proposed are unliveable. Some of the most dense housing (Read more…)

Melissa Fong: Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan- Summary

Like last time, I did some LiveTweeting of the evening- My strategy is to summarize the main point of all the voices; add in my OWN commentary (I can be […]

Melissa Fong: The facts on PHS scandal & following reactions of critics, boards and Jenny Kwan

…The fact is that PHS provides really important harm reduction programming that needs to be defended.

The scandal involves non-profit board members that are supposed to be working in the best interest of the DTES, not on #34KVacations.

Townshend and Small (Jenny Kwan’s ex) are implicated with irresponsible spending on administrative costs.

Any budget for programming and housing went to programming and housing, according to the audit. It is the administrative/executive budget spending that is in question.

Jenny Kwan (NDP) was NOT on the board of PHS and we can’t assume she knew about the expenses by Small. ….

Melissa Fong: Financial reform: Taking responsibility as public servants and otherwise…

Facts: I don’t hate Vision Vancouver. I’m indifferent to the overall career of Gregor Robertson. I actually like Andrea Reimer, from what I know of her. (Confession: I really like […] Canada’s Opaque Transparency – An Open Data Failure

Yesterday, at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s (PDAC) Canada Minister of Natural Resource, Joe Oliver, announced with great fanfare a new initiative to compel mining companies to disclose payments of over $100,000′s to foreign and domestic governments. On the surface this looks like a win for transparency, particularly for a sector that is of […] How Canadian companies can fight surveillance

Canadian Internet Service Providers are eerily silent when it comes to information about whether or not they have assisted ultra-secretive spy agency CSEC with their surveillance of law-abiding Canadians. Jon Penney discusses what Canadian companies can do to help fight surveillance.

Article by Jon Penney for The Citizen Lab

The Communications Security Establishment’s surveillance practices raise significant privacy concerns but full answers, transparency, or substantive reforms ensuring democratic oversight from either CSEC, or the Canadian Government, are not likely forthcoming. Canadians should also care about what to do in the meantime. Professor Michael Geist has recently posted about what average (Read more…)

ParliamANT Hill: Army ant commander promises discipline against media leaks

Inspired by this headline:

The Disaffected Lib: Mother Jones’ Modest Proposal

Like me, you probably share that sinking feeling that privacy is gone for good, dead without so much as a fight.  If you want a reasonable degree of privacy any more you have to live self-sustainably in a cabin on a lake deep in the forest and hope you’re not outside when the satellite passes overhead snapping pictures.  If, on the other hand, you’re reading this, somewhere that’s being noted and added to everything else that has been noted about you including your utility bills, medical records and that last credit card statement.

 At times it seems our (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Harper: Bringing New Levels Of Accountable Government To You

It comes as no surprise that The Harper Government has spent a great deal of time and energy doing its level best to be as unaccountable as possible to voters.  So it comes as little surprise that Suzanne Legault, The Information Commissioner of Canada is less than impressed with the games now being played to suppress public access to information. “I am seeing signs of a system in crisis, where departments are unable to fulfil even their most basic obligations under the act,” Legault told the group. 

As an example, she cited a directive in April this year from (Read more…)

ParliamANT Hill: CanadiAnt Taxpayers Federation Demands Accountability, but Not for Itself

Inspired by this headline:

LeDaro: Anthony Weiner for the mayor of New York City

Anthony Weiner campaigning on the streets of New York City. He believes in transparency.

Susan on the Soapbox: The Auditor General’s Report: Alberta’s “Enron” Moment

God bless Merwan Saher, Alberta’s Auditor General! He grabbed the government by the scruff of the neck and gave it a shake for dragging us into the abyss of “Enron” accounting. Sadly, the government refuses to budge and opaque financial reporting will continue.

Merwan Saher has been a government auditor for 33 years. He was promoted to Auditor General in 2010. It’s his job to audit every ministry, department, fund and agency in the province. He’s like E. F. Hutton—when he talks; people listen.

The Auditor General took a dim view of the government’s decision (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: Harper Gvt Withholds Docs on Controversial Canadian Mining Company: United Steelworkers

by: United Steelworkers | Press Release:

TORONTO, July 11, 2013 – The United Steelworkers (USW) union is asking federal Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault to investigate the Conservative government’s failure, for more than eight months, to release information on a Canadian mining company’s controversial operations in Mexico.

“This case reflects a disturbing pattern by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives to obstruct public access to government information,” said Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada.

“It also demonstrates how the Harper government condones the bad behaviour of Canadian mining companies operating abroad, where communities are protesting environmental, social and human rights abuses,” Neumann said.

(Read more…) Duffy, the Government and the problem with “no-notes” meetings

So, for my non-canadian readers, there is a significant scandal brewing up here in Canadaland, regarding a senator, who claimed certain expenses he was not allowed to (to the tune of $90,000) and then had that debt paid for by the Prime Minister’s chief of staff (who has now resigned).

This short paragraph in an article by the star captures the dark nature of the exchange:

…once the repayment was made, Duffy stopped cooperating with independent auditors examining his expense claims. When a Senate committee met behind closed doors in early May to write the final report on the results (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: Appalled by Harper’s decision to kill the Health Council of Canada

Council of Canadians denounces Harper decision to kill the Health Council of Canada By: Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive: Canada`s leading progressive citizen’s advocacy group says it`s appalled by Harper’s decision to kill the Health Council of Canada. In a press release issued earlier this week, the Council of Canadians said it’s “sadly not shocked” by [...]

The post Appalled by Harper’s decision to kill the Health Council of Canada appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

The Canadian Progressive: Jeremy Hammond: Aaron Swartz & the Criminalization of Digital Dissent

It is not the “crimes” Aaron (Swartz) may have committed that made him a target of federal prosecution, but his ideas – elaborated in his “Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto” – that the government has found so dangerous. By Jeremy Hammond – #18729-424 | Metropolitan Correctional Center, Feb. 20, 2013: The tragic death of internet freedom fighter READ MORE

The Canadian Progressive: Aagh, Harper Conservatives Nuked Democratic NDP Motion On Role Of PBO

By Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive, Feb. 14, 2013: Showing their burgeoning disdain for accountability, transparency, financial oversight and the independence of federal watchdogs, the Harper Conservatives earlier this week nuked a progressive NDP motion on the role of the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO). The motion, tabled by the Official Opposition’s Finance critic, Peggy Nash, sought to extend the mandate READ MORE

Politics, Re-Spun: Is Christy Clark Lying to Us About the LNG Tax Windfall?

I don’t know. Do you? No.

And, it seems, we won’t be permitted to determine if the BC Liberal government is lying to us about their future vision of rolling in billions in fresh new LNG tax money because the supporting reports won’t be released. So much for accountability and open government.

We also won’t be able to determine if these independent reports were actually independent, or if their spreadsheets included rainbow juice and unicorn tears to come up with this credibility-challenged $1 trillion LNG industry.

If the BC Liberals want to be credible and not continue to be painted as the BC Lieberals, they should release these reports. If they don’t, people will merely conclude they’re making this all up. And that’s what I’m concluding until the government dials down their contempt for transparency and the public, and releases the data behind these wild plans. Maybe the budget next . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Is Christy Clark Lying to Us About the LNG Tax Windfall?

Politics, Re-Spun: Who’s Running BC?

It has been a month of amateurish politics starting with the government posting the auditor-general’s job. Then this week the government backed down several steps to keep from ejecting the well-respected A-G John Doyle from his chair with an attempt at saving face by changing the legislation surrounding his appointment. As if they meant to do that anyway.

But there’s something fishing about how the premier backed down this week. Take a look:

In a move described by critics as a massive flip-flop and policy making on the fly, Clark on Wednesday proposed legislative changes to the Auditor General’s Act

. . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Who’s Running BC?