Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Scourge of Online Anonymity

I have spent the better part of my life, it seems, writing letters to the editor and occasionally newspaper articles. Never once, during all those years did I ever think twice about the publications' policies requiring the use of the writer's real name. My reasoning is, if I have something worthwhile to say, I will stand behind it with my identity disclosed.

On the Internet, however, these requirements do no seem to apply, as newspapers and other publications with readers' forums allow for the use of pseudonyms, an identity-concealing facility I have never availed myself of.

Judging by any perusal of such sites, however, it is readily apparent that anonymity frequently lowers the level of discourse to mere sniping and hate-mongering. With rare exceptions I have stopped, for example, reading the comments following Globe articles, as the first few may be insightful, but what invariably ensues are attacks on the constructive commentator's politics or intelligence. The term used to describe such attackers is trolls.

Alternet, one of my favorite alternative news and commentary sites, has an interesting article entitled Why Online Comments Are So Toxic. Written by Lisa Selin Davis, it is well-worth reading.

Media Quietude Over Climate Change

A few months ago, when we were seeing mid-summer temperatures during early spring, I remember Tom Brown, the CTV weatherman, looking grim and saying words to the effect that "This is something we all need to be concerned about." It was, I assume, a brave but oblique allusion to climate change.

Why brave? Since it was an observation never again repeated, I assume old Tom knew he was treading dangerously close to something that the corporate ownership of CTV does not want discussed, lest it offend sponsors or potential sponsors whose ultimate message is to consume like there is no tomorrow (rather prescient in some ways, aren't they?)

I had occasion to think about that reference last evening as I was watching my local news, and there was a report on the extreme weather we have been experiencing this summer (extreme humidity, drought, and sudden destructive storms), yet not a word was said about the broader implications of this weather.

Earlier this month, The Guardian ran a story by Amy Goodman, who is the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program airing on over 1,000 public television and radio stations worldwide. In it, she observed that in U.S. reporting,

The phrase "extreme weather" flashes across television screens from coast to coast, but its connection to climate change is consistently ignored, if not outright mocked.

In her column today in The Toronto Star, Linda McQuaig, makes similar observations about the cone of silence that permeates weather news in Canada:

CBC TV’s The National announced a report on this summer’s “wicked weather.”

...But the report focused on “storm chasers” — people who follow tornadoes for a hobby. And it raised the question of whether the wild weather could affect our insurance rates. Not a word about whether the unusual heat, drought and storms could be a symptom of what we’re doing to the planet.

McQuaig goes on to suggest:

...the issue seems to have lost its cachet with media managers, who apparently consider it too negative or tedious for audiences they feel obliged to entertain. Media commentators tend to ignore it or dismiss it, apparently afraid of looking too earnest or Earth-hugging, and therefore out of sync with our money-driven corporate culture.

I guess it is a truism to say that we are a very short-sighted species that prefers to ignore things until they can no longer be ignored. We seem to have reached that point, but one has to wonder how long it will be before the mainstream media acknowledge that fact.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Chris Hedges On The Perversion Of Scholarship

One of my favorite writers, Chris hedges, continues to do via alternative news what is so rare today in the mainstream media: challenge the status quo.

His latest salvo is against the tyranny of conformity endemic in post-secondary institutions which, he posits, are no longer places where one goes to learn how to think, but rather where one goes to be told what to think.

Hedges suggests that the veneration of athletes and their coaches, admittedly greater in the United States than in Canada, is symptomatic of the pervasive influence of the corporate agenda on places of higher learning.

Hedges reserves his greatest contempt for the Big Ten Conference colleges where, he suggests:

The student is implicitly told his or her self-worth and fulfillment are found in crowds, in mass emotions, rather than individual transcendence. Those who do not pay deference to the celebration of force, wealth and power become freaks. It is a war on knowledge in the name of knowledge.

He says much more in the column, which I hope you will get the opportunity to check out on Truthdig.

Sayed Shah Sharifi Arrives In Canada

Thanks to the doggedness of The Toronto Star, for whom social justice and journalistic integrity are more than mere words, the long tale of Sayed Shah Sharifi, the Afghan interpreter, is finally over.

In a world where victories are often few and far between for the 'good guys,' today is a day we all should celebrate the fact that despite all of the efforts by Immigration Jason Kenney to prevent his immigration to Canada, likely out of spite for making a public fuss over delays, Sharifi is now safely in Canada.

You can read the full story here.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Cost of Profound Ignorance

At the risk of sounding arrogant, I have to admit that the profoundly ignorant deeply distress me, especially those who revel in that ignorance, wear it as a faux badge of independent critical thinking, and refuse to entertain the possibility of error.

Take, for example, climate-change deniers. Despite the overwhelming evidence that it is taking place, indeed, accelerating at unanticipated rates (see, as an illustration, Kev's graphic at Trapped in a Whirlpool) and has almost universal agreement amongst scientists that it is mainly human-caused, they blithely dismiss such data as mere 'opinion.'

I had reason to reflect upon this sad fact the other day when I ran into a neighbourhood woman walking her dog. As is the norm when talking to people we don't know well, we discussed the weather, specifically the incessant heat, humidity, and drought that has plagued my part of the country this summer.

While I realize that the volatility and harshness of any one season cannot be attributed to climate change, I opined that perhaps we are paying for our environmental 'sins.' Immediately she snorted and pointed out that there had been a dustbowl in the thirties. I responded by saying that the problem now, unlike the thirties, is that a pattern has clearly emerged in which the frequency and extent of meteorological volatility stands in marked contrast with previous periods.

She informed me that she doesn't 'believe' in climate change, and that the aberrations we are now experiencing are simply part of 'natural cycles.' Her logic eluded me, and I had to wonder when belief in scientific data became optional and simply a matter of opinion.

It does not bode well for our survival as a species, does it?

Well, time to go out for a bike ride. This morning is one of the few days this summer without a humidex.

UPDATE: The Guardian reports the following:

In a survey of more than 1,000 readers of websites related to climate change, people who agreed with free market economic principles and endorsed conspiracy theories were more likely to dispute that human-caused climate change was a reality.

As well, you might find this of interest: The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Remarkable Revelation!

I am a person who believes in a transcendent reality. I mention this only to provide a context for the book I am currently reading entitled Paranormal: My Life in Pursuit of the Afterlife, written by Raymond Moody, the psychiatrist who for the past four decades has done pioneering work in the near-death experience.

While reading the memoir, I have come to the point where Moody is talking about his psychiatric residency, during which he interacted with an array of the mentally diseased, including those in the maximum-security wing for the criminally insane.

On page 123, he talks about one night finding three cards with the seal of the Secret Service on his desk with the following message (all ensuing italics are mine):

If this individual escapes from your institution, do not fail to contact the United States Secret Service!

Moody then found that he had three new patients, and "all of them had been rounded up by the Secret Service and dropped at our institution for safekeeping. President Ronald Reagan was in town, and the people assigned to protect him came in advance and institutionalized those who were thought to pose a threat during his visit."

Moody goes on to say the men were very angry about being detained until Reagan left town.

And that's all he has to say about the episode.

While I realize to the seasoned student of human nature, this is an entirely credible story about U.S. constitutional violation of its citizen's rights, I wonder if anyone can shed light on American past practices of labelling people as mentally ill in order to neutralize threats or opposition voices.

Reminiscent as it is of the Russian tendency to relegate political opponents to the gulag, I eagerly await information about this patent abuse of power.

The Harper Attack On Canadian Values

As I have written elsewhere in this blog, for various reasons I have never believed that democratically elected governments are necessarily a reflection of the values or the will of the electorate. I have also written of my strong belief that governments do, however, have a potentially huge impact on the national ethos. By their policies, rhetoric and treatment of opposing ideas, governments can and I suspect do frequently deform the souls of nations.

The eloquent lead letter in today's print edition of The Star reminds us all of how far Harper Inc. has taken us down a road that darkly deviates from the things that our country has traditionally held dear:

Supposedly, our federal government acts in the best interests of citizens. Ample evidence proves otherwise. On matters of immigration, human rights and justice, they not only break faith, but act with an unbelievable lack of humanity and compassion.

When the Supreme Court decreed that Omar Khadr’s rights had been violated, that young man still agreed to plead guilty and face a longer sentence in order to return to Canada. The United States expected Canada to act immediately; the government has still stalled.

Only after extreme pressure from citizens has the government lived up to its obligation to give shelter to Afghan interpreter Sayed Shah Sharifi, even though his aid to Canadians was verified by the military and foreign correspondents. He has been told that he has a seat reserved on a flight to Canada on July 28. Again, the government moved with extreme reluctance.

In an unbelievably petty and cruel bureaucratic ruling, a Canadian woman who has lived here since the age of 4 and has taught generations of Canadian schoolchildren, is being denied Old Age Security because she could not supply landing papers showing the date that she arrived here from England. What absolute nonsense.

At one time, Canada had visitors from abroad to learn about our increasingly progressive prison system under Commissioner Ole Ingstrup. Sadly, we have regressed and are now considered below UN standards.

When Public Safety Minister Vic Toews passes on to the next world, I fervently pray that he is placed in a “perfectly appropriate” double-bunk situation for a minimum of one year. It will be too late to help current prisoners, but it is a sentence that I feel the minister deserves.

I resent intensely this government that to me represents ever more frequently a betrayal of Canadian values and that persists in diminishing the Canada that I love. When the next election rolls around, my vote will be ABC.

Shirley Bush, Toronto

Toronto District School Board Blinks

As I suspected, after yesterday's Star story about the Toronto District School Board's outrageous demand for $3.6 million to release work order information related to the costs incurred in their exclusive contract with Jimmy Hazel's maintenance and construction skilled trades council, the board is singing a different tune today:

The Toronto District School Board is revising its $3.6 million estimate to provide data for a Star investigation.

How much the fee will drop is unclear, but a top official said the board is committed to finding a way to release the information.

“I am confident we will find a solution,” board education director Chris Spence said Thursday.

Let us hope that Spence, a man who is never short on bromides and platitudes, is not engaging in politically expedient posturing here.

Given The Star's journalistic tenacity, I'm sure we'll soon find out.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How Much Is The Lowest Price Guarantee Worth?

Despite years of repeated denials, I think there are few who doubt that Walmart is anti-union. Stories abound of the pressure the giant corporation applies anytime someone within the employee ranks tries to start a move toward union certification, including termination of the troublesome individuals and even store closures.

Because of these strongarm tactics, a group entitled Our Walmart is trying a different approach by pressing Walmart to accept a declaration of workers' rights which, in many ways sounds like a contract. Its worker groups hope to gain at least a measure of bargaining power by joining together to press the company for better wages and treatment.

However, even that has proven unacceptable to a Los Angeles store which recently fired five employees involved in organizing the workers to that end.

And of course, Walmart insists, as they always do, that the terminations had nothing to do with those activities.

Perhaps something to keep in mind in our incessant and often frantic consumer search for 'the lowest price in the land." It does come at a very real cost.

H/t Matthew Elliot

UPDATE: Apparently the anti-worker virus has spread north, this time infecting the Weston family, according to The Huffington Post.

TDSB To Star: It's Gonna Cost You To See My Hand

The Toronto Star, after conducting an excoriating investigative series on the fiscal incompetence of the Toronto District School Board in its very costly arrangement with Jimmy Hazel's Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council, has learned the price of getting the complete picture of that incompetence: $3.6 million.

That's how much officials have told the paper it will cost to get more than a peek at their fiscal cards following a request under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act for the board's electronic database of work orders showing what taxpayers have been charged for maintenance and construction projects at local schools.

Despite the fact that The Star requested a copy of the electronic database, the board, which, with a straight face insists on its commitment to transparency, lists the following charges that would be incurred in meeting that 'commitment':

• $1,125,000 to search for the records in the SAP database, which would take 37,500 hours at $30 per hour

• $1,350,000 to prepare the records for release, which would take 45,000 hours at $30 per hour. She estimates one-quarter of the records would have to be “severed,” to remove information they objected to releasing. The Star has seen sample pages from the records and there is no personal information, which is typically the type of information removed.

• $1,080,000 to photocopy the records, even though the Star asked for an electronic copy of the database. The TDSB said there are 5.4 million pages detailing the work orders and the charge levied would be 20 cents a page.

Apparently the information is stored on what is called a SAP database which, according to Wikipedia, is an enterprise-wide information system designed to coordinate all the resources, information, and activities needed to complete business processes such as order fulfillment or billing. According to The Star article, the database shows when a work order is requested by a school, when the work is done, how many hours are charged, how many workers are involved and other details.

I suspect after the general public reads about the TDSB's outrageous attempt to conceal the full extent of its ineptitude through these prohibitive charges, the information will soon be available at 'firesale' prices.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Power of the Consumer

According to this email I received, forwarded by a friend of mine, we have quite a bit of power. At a minimum, the following should give us pause as we go about our consumer lives:

This is TRULY worth reading and considering.....

A physics teacher in high school once told the students: That while one grasshopper on the railroad tracks wouldn't Slow a train very much, a billion of them would. With that thought in mind, read the following, obviously written by a patriotic Canadian:

Shopping in Lowe's the other day for some reason and just for the fun of it I was looking at the garden hose attachments. They were all made in China. The next day I was in Home Hardware and just for the fun of it I checked the hose attachments there. They were made in Canada!

Start looking...

In our current economic situation, every little thing we buy or do affects someone else - even their job.

A quote from a consumer: "My grandson likes Hershey's candy. I noticed, though, that it is marked made in Mexico now, instead of Smiths Falls, Ontario. I do not buy it any more".

My favorite toothpaste, Colgate, is made in Mexico now. I have switched to Crest.

You have to read the labels on everything.

This past weekend I was at Wal-Mart. I needed 60W light bulbs. I was in the light bulb aisle, and right next to the GE brand I normally buy was an off-brand labelled, "Everyday Value". I picked up both types of bulbs and compared the stats - they were the same except for the price. The GE bulbs were more money than the Everyday Value brand but the thing that surprised me the most was the fact that GE was made in MEXICO and the Everyday Value brand was made in - get ready for this - Canada at a company in Ontario.

Their Equate Products are also made in Canada, and are very good.

Just to add my own experience on buying Made in Canada, I was looking for canned mushrooms that were made in Canada and could never find any, so I would buy fresh. But recently I found Ravine mushrooms - made in Canada with a little red maple leaf on the can. A little more money but when I opened the can I looked at mushrooms that look like real mushrooms, not a mushroom that looks like it was cleaned in bleach.

Another product I no longer buy is Del Monte or Dole canned fruit. Del Monte is packaged in Taiwan and Dole is now a product of China.

Why should we pay for their fruit when our growers are left with fruit rotting on the trees. E.D. Smith is still made in Canada... buy theirs, at least you will know what is in it and have some quality control.

By the way, all pickles with the Presidents Choice label and the No Name yellow label [Superstore] are made in India. Think about it, water from the Ganges is used... yes THAT Ganges, the one that the people use as a toilet.

So throw out the myth that you cannot find products you use every day that are made right here.

My challenge to you is to start reading the labels when you shop for everyday things and see what you can find that is made In Canada. The job you save may be your own or your neighbour's'! (Your children & grandchildren, also.)

If you accept this challenge, pass it on to others in your address book so we can all start buying Canadian, one light bulb at a time! Stop buying from overseas companies! (We should have awakened two decades ago.)

Let's get with the program. Help our fellow Canadians keep their jobs and create more jobs here in Canada.

If President Obama insists on a 'Made in America ' Policy, which is commendable of him, to support American workers, we should do likewise.

BUY CANADIAN! Read the labels. Support Canadian jobs.

An Easy Way To Gauge The Moral Fiber Of Canadian Politicians

Ask them for their stand on the indefensible export of asbestos.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Why?

Because sometimes we need a larger perspective:

Monsanto Sued By Migrant Workers Over Labor, Housing Conditions

It seems the bigger they are, the more intent corporations are on squeezing everything they can out of workers, doesn't it?

H/t GMWatch and Sandra Harris

More on Rob Ford

I hope that I can be forgiven for what might appear to some as either an unhealthy obsession with Toronto's chief magistrate or an Ontario-centric regional preoccupation. It's just that I continue to be fascinated by the fact that Canada's largest city is led by someone so manifestly unsuited for the job. What it says about the current state of democracy in Canada I will leave to you to ponder.

After Ford's 'crime-summit' with Dalton McGuinty yesterday, here is what The Star's Martin Regg Cohn had to say:

The tone was civil, but the bottom line is that Ford brought nothing to the table.

No ideas, no money, no serenity in a time of anxiety for the people of Toronto.

Sadly, that assessment could also be applied to Ford's entire mayoralty thus far.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Chris Hedges On Contemporary Journalism

H/t Disinformation for this:

"We Need Justice"

So says a young Hispanic boy in the following video, a followup of the police brutality in Anaheim I posted about yesterday:

A Success Story Rob Ford and Other Reactionaries Won't Like

Those who see issues in simplistic and absolutist terms will not care to even acknowledge the existence of this letter from a Star reader. It speaks to something that neo-conservatives are loathe to acknowledge, the fact that we live in a society where interdependence and co-operation rather than selfish and exclusionary individualism are key factors in success on many levels:

I grew up at Black Creek and Trethewey. I ran with a tough crowd. I have been in more stolen vehicles than I can count. I hid a gun in my locker in high school for a friend. I was popular — everyone knew who I was. I had parents who seemed to not care what I was doing or where I was. I was playing basketball outside three blocks away on the night police officer Todd Bayliss was shot.

So how did I get out? How am I not in jail? How did I go to university, graduate, get a job, get married, move to Milton and have two kids? Why didn't I get pregnant in junior high like three of my classmates?

I'm not sure I have the definitive answers. I got involved in sports teams and music. I had teachers who cared if I showed up. One teacher asked me what I was going to do with my life. I didn't have an answer. When he asked me about my university applications, I laughed. We didn't have any money, my parents were uneducated and not concerned with school. My situation was not uncommon. After that conversation I was approached by many of my teachers with offers to help with applications, loans and scholarships and a higher paying summer job. Something clicked from there. I was important to people, they didn't want me to fail.

Community and school programs work — maybe not for everyone but they work. We need to show kids that there is hope, that people care what we become, that we can have pride in ourselves and our achievements. Pointing out “immigrants” and trying to deport gang members doesn't work. They come back.

What is the solution? Start young, give kids options, and put money into keeping them off the streets and out of gangs.

It's not a short-term solution, it's a long-term one. There is no quick fix, this takes time and investment. Aren't the kids worth it?

Deanna Churcher, Milton

Another Home Run for Ibbitson

In his quest to become the top scorer in the Harper admiration society and ensure a much-coveted seat in the Red Chamber, John Ibbiston hits another home run in yet one more of his sycophantic endorsements of dear leader in today's Globe.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Police Brutality In Anaheim

Can there be any justification for firing non-lethal weapons on unarmed people, including women and children?

H/t Sandra Harris

Concern For The Collective

For whatever reason, I am one of those people with a deeply ingrained sense of fair play that recognizes we are more than simply individuals 'doing our own thing' in isolation and with no regard to others; I happily acknowledge that we are part of a larger agglomeration that we name 'society.'

So yes, I readily admit to being one of those who counts the number of groceries in the basket of the person ahead of me in the express checkout at the grocery store; I am also someone who uses highway passing lanes for their intended purpose and not as my personal conduit or as a semi-permanent solution to avoiding merging traffic while driving at a speed that shows no regard for cars behind me. I also get outraged if a page is defaced or torn out of a library book.

In my mind, all of the above are serious crimes against the collective, selfish refusals to consider others as worthy of our respect and co-operation as we live out our lives.

And yet it is an attitude that seems all too common today, as governments and cultural imperatives urge us to be self-absorbed consumers whose highest values spring from the dictates of the marketplace, not our consciences, values, spiritual beliefs or regard for the common good.

It was therefore refreshing to read in today's Star an article entitled Harvard professor Michael Sandel examines ‘moral limits of markets’ in new book. In it, Sandel, a highly regarded Harvard professor of political philosophy, asks questions that we seem to have become reluctant to ask today:

Sandel says that we are increasingly reluctant to talk about what kind of society we want. We are reluctant to allow moral and spiritual concerns into public debate. Instead, we’ve come to rely on the market to assign value.

“Part of the appeal of markets,” he writes in the book, “is that they don’t pass judgment on the preferences they satisfy. They don’t ask whether some ways of valuing goods are higher or worthier than others.”

The market is only interested in efficiently matching buyers and sellers. It is not interested in what is being distributed, or whether it is fair — let alone whether some things should be distributed at all.

Sandel talks as well about the growing inequality gap that essentially has us living on different worlds, something that seems so very evident when we look at the direction the Harper regime is taking us in Canada:

By putting a price on just about everything, by having things of great value up for sale, we end up widening the gap between those with money and those without. “At a time of rising inequality, the marketization of everything means that people of affluence and people of modest means lead increasingly separate lives,” Sandel writes. “We live and work and shop and play in different places. Our children go to different schools. . . It’s not good for democracy, nor is it a satisfying way to live.”

He does not oppose inequality everywhere, but believes that too much of it is dangerous. “Democracy does not require perfect equality,” he writes, “but it does require that citizens share in a common life. What matters is that people of different backgrounds and social positions encounter one another, and bump up against one another, in the course of everyday life. For this is how we learn to negotiate and abide our differences, and how we come to care for the common good.”

In a world that encourages lazy thinking, reactionary rather than thoughtful responses, and the embrace of absolutisms, Sandel is a refreshing and much-needed voice of reason and reflection. For those who are especially interested, he also has a 12-part television series available on the Internet that explores many of these questions.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Another Reason To Be Cynical About The MSM

The implications of this are truly and deeply frightening.

A Victory To Celebrate

I have expressed more than once in this blog my opinion that the Harper regime aims to make Canadians feel powerless and disenfranchised, thereby facilitating the government's efforts to remake Canada in its own calloused corporatist image. Once in a while, however, a victory comes along to remind us that we still have power and need to continue the fight against that agenda.

Thanks in large measure to The Toronto Star and reporter Paul Watson, Afghan interpreter Sayed Shah Sharifi is soon to come to Canada, after having been initially rejected under an Immigration program designed to rescue those Afghanis who had put their lives at risk helping Canadian soldiers.

Initially adamant in his rejection of Sharifi's application, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney was forced to reverse his department's decision after a groundswell of public indignation arose following Watson's stories.

The latest developments can be read in today's Star, and the entire episode serves as an important reminder that no matter how dispirited and disheartened we may become, none of us must ever stop fighting the intransigence and ideological madness of the Harper government.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Making Political Hay

Well, you have to hand it to them. The Harper regime never forgoes an opportunity to exploit tragedy:

In an interview airing on CBC's Power & Politics on Friday, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said "clearly the recent rash of gun crime in Toronto is connected to criminal gun activity, and we are aware that there have been foreign members, sometimes leading members of criminal gangs in Canada, able to re-commit offences while delaying their deportation."

Kenney went on to specify that his comments were "not in relation to any particular crime, or any alleged particular criminal" but about Bill C-43, which the government introduced last month as the faster removal of foreign criminals act.

Excessive Force Or Standard Police Operating Procedure?

You decide.

'Sheriff' Ford 'Clarifies' His Statements

I wonder if there is anyone within the Rob Ford administration with the courage to tell him to just keep his mouth shut for the sake of Toronto's rapidly-waning reputation?

On The Harper Regime's Lawlessness

Once again, Star readers come through with their perceptive indictments of the Harper regime's contempt for both the rule of law and democracy:

Re: Ottawa’s misrule of law, Opinion July 17

Professor Audrey Macklin’s piece on Ottawa’s disrespect for the law points to a culture of justice by vendetta and racism in this government. How is it otherwise when one sees a white Anglo-Saxon indicted felon received in this country without question, and sought out by the press, while the government dumps all over a boy soldier the likes of which Canada signed the international convention to protect and rehabilitate?

This government has demonstrated on a number of issues now that it thinks it is above the law; it chooses to break it at will and challenging us to stop them. So far nothing, and no one, has.

So, where is our “democracy,” the rule of the majority?

Frank Arturi, Toronto

If we live in a country that has majority government that was not elected by the majority of voters, and if that government refuses to abide by the laws and constitution of our country, and if the political representatives belonging to the governing party refuse to condemn its behaviour, “by definition” are we living in a democracy or an oligarchy?

Randy Gostlin, Oshawa

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Sun: Demagoguery, Not Critical Thinking

As a contrast to my earlier post about the Star and critical thinking, take a look at this poll and readers' comments about Omar Khadr from Sun readers.

h/t Norm Spector

Mainstream Media's Silencing of Important Voices

Probably two of the most important voices challenging the status quo today are rarely if ever granted access to mainstream media anymore. Both highly respected, Pulitzer Prize winner and former New York Times journalist Chris Hedges, and Noam Chomsky, a towering intellect who has for decades been warning us of the fabricated reality being imposed upon us by corporate power, are, however, no means silent.

Thanks to alternative news sites such as Alternet.org and Truthdig.com, as well as their many books, both continue to provide sustenance to those yearning for more than the self-absorbed and avaricious consumerism relentlessly promoted today at the expense of critical and independent thinking, qualities that in many ways are actively discouraged by our corporate 'overlords'.

Today, the cherished freedoms promised in Magna Carta, the foundations for the West's constitutions, guaranteeing for example, freedom from arbitrary arrest, as well as the concept of 'the commons' encapsulated in "The Charter of the Forest' are under ongoing attack and devolution. Professor Chomsky writes lucidly on these issues in an address given in Scotland recently, which you can read by clicking here.

Critical Thinking From Star Readers

That I am a faithful subscriber to the Toronto Star is in large measure due to its strong cadre of journalists and the capacity of its letter-writers for critical thinking. Rarely the reactionary, carping and simplistic fare to be found in many newspapers, Star letters reflect a readership that is unwilling to accept the bromides and platitudes that frequently pass for penetrating insights today.

One such example follows. Enjoy:

Re: PM's science blindness will only harm Canada, July 14

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre states: “In all cases, science and facts should rule our decisions.” When did Stephen Harper make this stunning 180-degree complete reversal?

GST cuts, long form census, mandatory minimum sentences, the F-35 debacle, government pension “reform,” refugee health care and environmental safeguards all ignored science, and facts for blatant political gain. How stupid does Harper think Canadians are?

Harper Conservatives cannot afford $2 million for globally respected Experimental Lakes Area program but spends that much on the one off War of 1812 celebration. Another $2 million goes to Tony Clement’s riding for the Norman Bethune centre. Harper lectures world leaders on the need for austerity while he rolls out even more pork.

Wake up, Conservatives. Your man Harper is doing a masterful job of driving Canadians into the open arms of the dreaded socialists. My Canada is dying slowly by a thousand political cuts.

Doug Haslam, Stratford

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Moment of Sanity From Rachel Maddow

Were it not for Americans like Rachel Maddow, I would not be able to hold out even a glimmer of hope for the benighted nation:

BTW, you need to click on 'hide ad' before the video will play.

More Brilliance From Montreal Simon

Many thanks to Montreal Simon, who created this trenchant attack ad:

Two Letters About Omar Khadr

Yesterday I wrote a post on the contempt for the rule of law evident in the Harper regime's refusal to thus far repatriate Omar Khadr from Guantanimo.

Following are two thoughtful letters on the topic from today's Star I am taking the liberty of reproducing:

I am disgusted at the vitriol spewed by some people over the fate of Omar Khadr. Apparently the rule of law is a mask to be discarded at will.

Canada signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child, including the protocol on child soldiers. If Khadr was a combatant, he would be covered by that protocol, which states he is to be returned to his home nation for rehabilitation. If Khadr was not a combatant then there is no reason to hold him.

Moreover, in the sham of justice that was the Guantanamo military tribunal, Khadr struck a deal with the prosecution to plead guilty in return for him being returned to Canada. In short, under anything even remotely passing for law, Canada has no choice but to accept his return.

In fact, Khadr is the only foreign national still held in Guantanamo. Citizens of other nations have all been repatriated even though they were sometimes adult combatants.

Of course, Canada should do far more than simply take him back. The evidence that has come out over the last decade shows that Canada was complicit in the torture Khadr was subjected to. This violates other international agreements that Canada has signed and is also a violation of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Canada has a moral and probably a legal obligation to make amends. Had Khadr been a 15-year-old gang member convicted of killing someone in Toronto, as a young offender he would be be free by now. Instead, as a boy dragged into a war zone by his father and caught up in a firefight where he was severely wounded, he has become, to some people anyway, a symbol of terrorism for whom no punishment will suffice.

Their thirst for vengeance at the expense of justice does not represent the Canada that I grew up in. We need to return to the rule of law. We need to rebuild our reputation as a lawful, just and compassionate nation.

Gary Dale, West Hill

With respect to Omar Khadr’s return to Canada from Guantanamo Bay at the request of the American government, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says, “A decision will be made in due course.”

The decision was made 20 months ago when then Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon provided a diplomatic note promising favourable consideration for Khadr’s return last November.

To argue otherwise is to admit that the government made a written promise to both Omar Khadr and the American government without any thought to its eventual execution. That would clearly be irresponsible and incompetent.

No, the only decision that the Harper government has to make at this time is whether or not they keep their promises.

Robert Betty, Edmonton

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Making Politics Out Of Tragedy

The terrible shooting in Toronto that saw two people killed and 24 injured elicited this response from Julian Fantino and Rob Nicholson. I have no words to express my feeling toward this craven exploitation of tragedy:

Joint statement by ministers Julian Fantino and Rob Nicholson:

Our Government was very saddened to hear about this shooting in Toronto last night. We condemn this brazen shooting and extend our heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families. Canadians are concerned about violent crime, that’s why over the past six years our Government has introduced tough-on-crime legislation, like the Safe Streets and Communities Act, to keep dangerous criminals and gang members off the streets and out of our communities. We have also taken steps to ensure our border is open to legitimate travel and trade but closed to criminals and gun smugglers.

Our Conservative Government has introduced mandatory minimum penalties for all serious firearms offences. We call on the Opposition to support victims and our actions to improve the safety of Canadian families. Canadians can count on us to stand up for victims and to continue strengthening our justice system so that those who commit serious crimes, particularly with firearms, serve serious jail time. Illegal guns and the criminals who use them have no place in our society.

Our Government is committed to ensuring criminals are held fully accountable for their actions and that the safety and security of law-abiding Canadians comes first in Canada’s justice system.

May there be a special place in hell for those two.

Contempt For Law Invites Contempt Of Harper Government

Despite its well-oiled propaganda machine spewing out rhetoric defending its 'law-and-order-agenda', the Harper regime is so awash in its contempt for the actual rule of law and its moral underpinnings as to fill any right-thinking person with nausea.

While countless instances of this contempt abound, probably one of the most egregious is its refusal to repatriate Omar Khadr from Guantanamo, despite a pronouncement by the Supreme Court of Canada on the matter and Harper's promises to the United States to do so.

Putting aside the fact that Khadr was a child soldier at the time of his alleged crime, imbued with extreme views by a fanatical father, justice and our Charter of Rights demand his return to Canada.

That, government hate-mongering notwithstanding, is not a matter of dispute, debate, or public opinion. It is the law. To flout that law is to be a renegade regime unworthy of its citizens' respect or support.

Today's Star has an editorial on this ongoing injustice well-worth reading.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Exposing More Harper Lies

Those who believe the Harper propaganda that the changes to environmental oversight contained in Omnibus Bill C-38 are simply 'housekeeping' and 'streamlining' measures may find this notification from the National Energy Board of interest:

As a result of the amendments to section 118, the Board no longer requires applicants for oil and gas export licences and gas import licences to file the following information under the Part VI Regulations:

12. (f) information respecting the potential environmental effects of the proposed exportation and any social effects that would be directly related to those environmental effects;

Information to be Furnished by Applicants for Licences for Importation

13. (e) information respecting the potential environmental effects of the proposed importation and any social effects that would be directly related to those environmental effects;

The full notification can be read here.

H/t Bill Hillier

Embarrassing The Harper Government

The rhetoric about overpaid doctors notwithstanding, I suspect the public loves it as much as I do when the medical profession defends its principles and embarrasses Tory lap dogs in the process.

As reported in today's Star, although it is not something they are used to doing, doctors feel it is morally incumbent upon them to speak out as frequently and vociferously as they can in their protests over Immigration Jason Kenney's recent cuts to refugee health care.

One of the more audacious, Dr. Mark Tyndal, is shown below as he interrupts one of the Harper faithful. Enjoy:

Sunday, July 15, 2012

On Pipeline Safety

Given Calgary's recent designation as the "greatest city in Canada" and the entire province enjoying sainthood status under the current Prime Minister, it is with some trepidation that I draw your attention to a story that could get me labelled as divisive and an environmental terrorist.

In a column that challenges government 'truth' on the safety of oil pipelines, The Star's David Olive has the temerity to suggest that there might be something not quite safe or environmentally sound about plans to enrich Alberta even more through the transport of tarsand oil.

Read discreetly. Be aware of who may be looking over your shoulder.

Happily, in my present location I at least need not fear the long arm of the Edmonton police.

Rick Salutin on Proportional Representation

The problem with parties is they don’t exist to represent the views of the public, or even sections of it, or even their own members. Maybe they once did, or maybe not. But now they exist to win elections. They’re “election-day organizations,” to quote political scientist Donald Savoie. They take public opinion into account mainly in their strategic calculations.

Is some form of proportional representation the answer to the 'democratic deficit' reflected in the above excerpt from Part 2 of Rick Salutin's series on democracy?

Salutin admits to an ambivalence about a reform he once enthusiastically embraced. The most popular version, called the Single Transferable Vote, is explained by the writer:

You indicate your second, third, etc., choices along with your top choice so if your No. 1 is at the bottom and gets dropped after the first tally, your vote is transferred down the line until a set of winners — ridings are larger but total numbers of reps stays the same — emerge. It’s complex but it means most votes actually matter and something proportional emerges.

In my mind, that version would be effective only with a very engaged and informed citizenry, something that I'm not sure we have ever had in Canada, and certainly absent in the current political landscape, where complex ideas are reduced to cartoonish stereotypes, a strategy that the Harper Conservatives seem to have perfected, aided and abetted by buffoons in the media, Ezra Levant and the rest of the crew at Fox North being prime examples.

Until Canadians manage to cure their addiction to sound bites and simplistic bromides and platitudes and begin demanding substance and integrity from our politicians, I very much doubt that any systemic reform will be effective.

New Crime Discovered in Edmonton

Known in legal circles as politicius pontificus interruptus, Edmonton police are doing everything within their power to prevent this terrible crime from spreading and becoming a national scourge.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Conservatives' Contempt For Truth

If Canada feels different, it’s because it is. Under Harper, we have become strangers to ourselves, a foreign country run by an angry and hostile regime. The world has noticed, but is too preoccupied with its own problems to do anything more than fret.

The above is a brief excerpt from Christopher Hume's analysis of the Harper Tories' contempt for, and relentless efforts to suppress, scientific truths that interfere with their ideological agenda.

Well-worth reading for anyone who wants government policy to be based on sound data rather than demagogic sound bites.

Defining Democracy

Just back from a very brief holiday in western New York, I'm still feeling a bit too relaxed to post anything lengthy, but I do have a reading recommendation for anyone concerned about democracy in its various forms.

Earlier this year, The Star's Rick Salutin took time off from his weekly column to do research on democracy. The results of that research begin today in the first part of a series. Entitled Democracy: Thinking outside the box, the piece offers some surprising statistics that challenge the notion that elections are the pinnacle of democratic expression.

Despite the fact that Tunisia was the birthplace of the Arab Spring, it turns out that when elections were finally held, only 55% cast their ballot, a statistic that leads Salutin to reflect upon notions of democracy and disaffection.

By examining various countries and systems, the writer goes on to opine that perhaps government consultation with the people is more important than the election experience as democratic expression.

Personally, it is an opinion I take issue with, as I see a quite intimate relationship between an engaged citizenry at election time and the responsiveness of government to its people. In other words, given the kind of poor turnout at the polls we experience in Canada, it is hardly surprising that we currently have a government that represents only a very small minority of its constituents.

While the above may sound like a gross oversimplification, for me, fear of electoral retribution is the beginning of wisdom for our 'representatives'.

I look forward to the next installment of Salutin's series in tomorrow's paper.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Hour of The Gun

This article from The Edmonton Journal offers an interesting explanation of why 'black guns' are growing in popularity amongst gun 'hobbyists'.

Were I a conspiracy-minded individual (which, of course, I am not), I might wonder about the relationship between two of the major industries discussed within.

Amen!

H/t Stephen Lautens

Police Overreaction?

Or justifiable force? You decide.

Interesting, though, the number of police that swarm the man recording the incident on his cellphone, beginning at around 5:20 of the video.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Another Salvo Against Teachers

Just came back from a rather tiring two-hour plus bike ride against a head wind. Because I am too tired to write a lengthy post, and as a follow-up to yesterday's entry, for those interested in what is going on with teacher contract negotiations in Ontario, may I recommend Martin Regg Cohn's column in today's Star?

Normally a columnist with whom I agree far more than I disagree, I feel he has written a rather blinkered piece praising Dalton McGuinty's current political maneuvering with the federations that ignores the concept of good-faith bargaining and the importance of the retirement gratuity, which he dismisses as "anachronistic."

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Tim Hudak's Anti-Unionism

Never an original or deep thinker, young Tim Hudak, whose recent decision to rely on demagoguery in place of reason by condemning unions as the reason for the poor economy in Ontario, has provoked a spirited response from Star readers, some of whose letters you can peruse here.

Is This Really Negotiating?

While I have sometimes been critical of my former union, The Ontario Secondary Teachers Federation, both in this blog and my other one, I have always been a supporter and advocate of unions. I was particularly surprised and pleased that yesterday, in contrast to the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) accepting a deal with the McGuinty government which sees the elimination of the retirement gratuity amongst other deep concessions, OSSTF's Ken Coran, along with three other union heads, refused to give up the fight.

In what would be regarded in normal times as a major concession, OSSTF has already offered a two year wage freeze, and modest cost of living salary increases in years three and four in exchange for protection of the retirement gratuity, something the McGuinty government has refused to consider.

Apparently the reason the Catholic union so blithely surrendered it is that it has been eliminated in the majority of their boards over the years. However, few understand why the gratuity is much more than a perk to teachers. Yes, it is true that we enjoy a defined benefit pension, but that is the only benefit that we take into retirement; there is no dental or health plan other than what retirees purchase for themselves. For example, mine costs over $3000 per year, and offers some coverage for drugs and dental, but with significant limitations. So essentially the gratuity, usually half a year's salary paid out upon retirement, covers that cost for about 10 years.

Now I realize even that is much more than many enjoy, but the fact is that private companies, especially those with unions, do provide health and dental benefits to its retirees, a fact often overlooked by those eager to denigrate unions and teachers.

And speaking of union-bashers, Heather Mallick, in today's Star, has what I regard as a rather simple-minded column in which she essentially argues for compromise/capitulation to McGuinty's demands, lest the recalcitrant unions bring down a fury of anti-unionism on their heads a la Tim Hudak and Wisconsin-like union-busting legislation.

While that may come, especially given the level of both public ignorance and antipathy regarding the vital role unions play in a healthy economy and political system, my attitude has and always will be the same:

Go down with a fight. There is honour in losing a battle, but little in waving the white flag.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Del Maestro Is Close To Getting His Wish

Earlier this week Mr. Del Mastro, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and MP for Peterborough, complained about an Elections Canada investigation into his 2008 campaign, saying he’s frustrated he has no way to present his side of the story.

Now, the opportunity appears to be close at hand.

But oh, the suspense is killing me. Will he avail himself of this opportunity to 'set the record straight"?

Looking for Democracy

I am sure that like me, many despair over the state of democracy in Canada. Not only is it under continuous assault by a federal government that has repeatedly and consistently shown its contempt for the concept, but it also suffers from widespread citizen disengagement.

Probably the two are inextricably connected.

In an interesting column today entitled Canadians need a forum to raise their voices against undemocratic leaders, The Star's public editor Carol Goar writes about a public trust called The Carold Institute, whose mission is to promote active citizenship, democratic participation and social change.

A recent panel discussion hosted by the institute stressed three essential observations and lessons that put our present perilous state into perspective:

- those with power — politicians, police and bureaucrats — don’t think they should have to share it. “They don’t like citizens and they don’t think they have any role.”

- governments are quick to slap pejorative labels — violent, dangerous, anarchic — on people who challenge them.

- citizens have to use the tools they have — solidarity, the willingness to stand up to authorities, the ability to reach beyond their own ranks — to keep democracy alive.

These are lessons we all would be wise to remember and take to heart in the long hot summer of discontent ahead.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Ethical Transgression Be Damned

One of the few journalists today holding the Harper regime to public account, Lawrence Martin, has a very interesting assessment of yesterday's minimalist cabinet shuffle, and offers a rather damning indictment of the Conservatives' ethical myopia at ipolitics.ca.

The piece also offers the reader a sharp contrast to the Harper tribute presented over at Canada's self-proclaimed 'newspaper of record by the increasingly sycophantic senator-in-waiting, John Ibbitson, who extols the Conservative Cabinet and goes so far as to describe Environment Minister Peter Kent as a good and faithful servant, without even a hint of irony.

The Glacial Pace Of Change At The TDSB

Regarded by some as a master of platitudes, Toronto District School Board Director Chris Spence says that things are getting better.

As outlined in The Star's investigative series, the board, in the thrall of Jimmy Hazel's Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council, which forms the backbone of the TDSB’s facilities division, has for years been grossly overpaying for simple repair jobs. This was well-known to administrators and board officials for many years, and in 2006 a review was conducted by consultants Blackstone Partners, who then submitted a report to officials in January of 2007.

Despite the passage of almost six years, we are told today by Mr. Spence that some progress has been made, and the report is “working its way through the committee structure” at the board.

In what passes for clarity, lucidity and justification (cynics might call it base political posturing), the former football player drew a sports analogy:

“To use a football analogy, we are trying to move the yardstick. There is no quick fix,” said Spence, who became director two years after the review. “But I am not running, I am not hiding from the problem.”

“Blackstone took us so far. Some of the work we are doing now will take us farther,” Spence said in the interview.

To continue with Mr. Spence's sports metaphor, given the lack of specifics about this putative progress, combined with the aggregate revelations of the Star's series, some might conclude that it is time for this team to be kicked out of the league.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

If It Walks Like A Duck....

Strange about Dean Del Maestro. Says he's innocent but....

H/t Brandon Laraby

Just How Much Fear Does Harper Inspire?

We know about the loathing part, but July 10 will answer the title question.

Chief Blair's Poodle Speaks

First, bullets flew through the Eaton Centre food court. Then, two weeks later, on a sun-filled patio in Little Italy. On Sunday, a man was shot while hundreds watched a fireworks display in the city’s east end. Just 24 hours before that, a stray bullet grazed a toddler’s leg in North York.

Yet Mark Pugash, Toronto police spokesman and spinmaster, tells us there is really little to worry about here.

I guess, despite evidence that would seem to contradict this skilled communicator, This is the best of all possible worlds.

Asbestos Redux

Canada continues to be an outlier amongst Western nations as the sole exporter of death, aka asbestos, a topic that I have written about many times on this blog. The federal government continues to perpetuate the lie that the highly carcinogenic substance is safe if handled properly, despite the fact that the Harper regime vetoed an international proposal last year that would have made labeling and safety instructions mandatory.

Now, aided and abetted by that criminally negligence federal stance, Quebec's Premier Jean Charest has given a $58 million lifeline to continue mining this lethal export.

The Star has a good editorial today excoriating this measure. I hope you will read it and keep the issue alive this summer should you encounter your Tory M.P. lurking about the constituency.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

More on The Harper Betrayal of All of Us

I wrote a recent brief post on the Trans Pacific Partnership that Canada recently signed onto, the price of admission being the surrender of much of our sovereignty over the environment, working conditions, etc.

A new article published in The Nation paints a grim portrayal indeed of the future we face as a nation when this pact is finalized, going well beyond the compromises made in NAFTA.

I urge you to read it, and consider what each of us can do, given the fact that we, our children and our grandchildren will all be the poorer for this absolute betrayal by the Harper government.

H/t to Kev.

Harper Refuses To Release Taxpayer-Funded Study On Pensions

The conclusion the cynic would draw (that's me) is that the report suggests no need for the changes Harper has made in the OAS.

H/t Brandon Laraby

The Source of Young Tim Hudak's Inspiration

I recently wrote a brief post on young Mr. Hudak's simple-minded and dysfunctional 'vision' for returning Ontario to its former industrial glory: gut the unions, a policy which, if ever enacted, would be disastrous for the men and women who currently enjoy workplace benefits, decent wages, and protection from arbitrary dismissal thanks to their unions.

In today's Globe, economist Jim Stanford offers some insights into the source of inspiration for the lad who would be premier, inspiration which sharply diverges from the traditional values held by Ontario's Progressive Conservatives before the advent of Hudak's hero and mentor, Mike Harris.

On Austerity and Hippos

I often think that governments, especially our current federal one, hold the people they 'serve' in absolute contempt, regarding us as little more than Pavlovian creatures who will respond in a predictable and desired way if we are given just the right stimulus. Tell us the economic apocalypse is fast approaching, invoke the example of Greece as our future UNLESS we all submit to the discipline of austerity measures, and we are all expected to fall in line, nodding grimly but compliantly at the harsh measures needed 'to ensure our future.'

Government propaganda has worked countless times in the past. Why should now be any different?

Well, maybe it will work as usual, but in times past we have not had the kind of unbridled access to information that the Internet has made possible. If we are gullible once more, then it has to be by choosing to remain woefully ignorant.

One of the best sources of information that doesn't merely mirror the Harper party line is The Toronto Star. In today's edition, Linda McQuaig provides some much-needed perspective on the current hyperbole peddled by the Prime Minister and his enablers.

Enjoy the read as her insights and views on the economic situation offer us the opportunity to be something more than subjects in one of Harper's many lab experiments.

Monday, July 2, 2012

On Harper Ideology and Young Hudak's 'Vision'

Two reading recommendations for Monday morning:

The Star has a good editorial suggesting that the Harper government's efforts to find a buyer for the Experimental Lakes Area in Kenora is just a sham, an empty public relations exercise. As the editorial points out, the reseach facility has been making key contributions to the study of freshwater lake ecologies for 50 years but saw its funding eliminated in the omnibus budget bill, in all likelihood because it advances scientific knowledge about water management and restoration that runs counter to the Harper agenda of almost unfettered exploitation of our resources, no matter the environmental price to be paid.

My other recommendation is a letter from Salmon Lee, Mississauga, who points out the flaws in young Tim Hudak's grand scheme to destroy unions in Ontario.

As always, the Star provides ample insights into the ideologies that masquerade as informed and careful deliberations by our political 'leaders'.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

My Name Is Tim - Hear Me Roar

To what I suspect is the surprise of few, young Tim Hudak, to whom I have made the occasional reference in this blog, continues to underwhelm as the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. His latest 'policy', perhaps hatched at the supper table with wife Deborah, to make Ontario more 'attractive' to employers by breaking unions, is the kind of preposterous pandering to the extreme right that one would expect from an alumnus of the despotic Mike Harris era, when he served in the latter's cabinet.

Treat yourself this Canada Day by enjoying Martin Regg-Cohn's dissection of young Tim's fatuous thinking in a column entitled Tim Hudak’s Tory vision for a low-union, low-wage Ontario.

Canada Day? Really?

In my non-virtual life, I like to think that I am a reasonably pleasant fellow who enjoys the small pleasures life has to offer, has a decent sense of humour, and can see the good as well as the bad of this world.

I sometimes fear, however, that in my blogging life I am turning into one of those grim, overly earnest and shrill presences for whom the political apocalypse is at hand. I wish I could say that this blog entry was going to be different, but that would be untrue.

The truth is, I find little to celebrate on this Canada Day, the latest reason blazoning forth on the front page of my Sunday Star with this headline:

Tories slash funding for young offenders by 20 per cent

The Star exclusive reveals that the Harper government has slashed 20 per cent of federal funding for youth justice programs in Canada, cutting $35.6 million used to supervise and rehabilitate young offenders....

In typically Orwellian fashion, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson made no mention of the drastic cut Wednesday in a news release that trumpeted “continued support” for the Youth Justice Services Funding Program.

Apparently there are three components to the programs that are now in jeopardy:

- measures to target violent young offenders,

- measures to rehabilitate and reintegrate youth in trouble with the law,

- measures to deal with less serious types of offences outside the formal court process.

Given their predilection for seeing the worst in human nature, I suspect the Harperites were most offended by the rehabilitation and reintegration elements of the program.

So, while the Harper regime continues to target the most vulnerable amongst us, and while it continues to attack and try to dismantle traditional Canadian values that emphasize the primacy of the collective over the individual, I shall not be celebrating Canada Day.

Now, time for a bike ride to try to restore my equanimity.