Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Blogging Hiatus



We are off for a sojourn in the Venice area. Since I will only be bringing my Blackberry Playbook with me, a pain to write with thanks to its electronic keyboard, I suspect I will be doing little or no blogging during that time.

See you in October!

Police Surveillance

For those interested in the best way of ensuring police behave themselves, the following is a timely reminder of what our rights are when filming them:



For more information, check out Canadian Privacy Law Blog.

More Thoughts On Muzzled Scientists

Last week I wrote a post on David Schindler, the retired scientist who wrote about the pernicious effects of the Harper regime's muzzling of government scientists.

These letters from today's Star offer readers' thoughts on the issue:

Re: Remove the muzzle from government scientists, Opinion Sept. 20

In this incisive article Dr. David Schindler has essentially said to our governments: “J’accuse.” Is there any doubt that our federal government is actively encouraging the dumbing down of Canada by following the principle that the less the people know, the better for the government?

To paraphrase the famous two rules about moms: Rule 1. Your government is always right. Rule 2. In case your government is wrong, refer to Rule 1.


Jaggi Tandan, Hamilton

Scientists, remove your own muzzles. Find the courage to speak freely; act together. Stephen Harper can’t fire you all. He would be an international laughing stock.

Terry Watkinson, Toronto

David Schindler is correct that science is being compromised because of political and ideological opposition. Those consequences do not apply to environmental issues alone, but also to scientific facts taught in our schools in regard to evolution.

I agree with the National Centre of Science Education (Scientific American, Oct. 23), which states: “Evolution is one of the most important ideas in human intellectual history and students have the right to learn it. The common ancestry of living things and the mechanism of inheritance explain why the things are the way they are. Students and adults deprived of this knowledge are scientifically illiterate and ill prepared in a global, competitive world.”

Our world is in fatal competition among the various religions. There should be a few restrictions. Those who are intolerent creationists or those who display a specific religious garb should not teach science in our schools because of their own distorted influence on our small innocent children in Canada.

Kurt Heinze, Scarborough

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

On The Minimum Wage And Tim Hudak's 'Bold' Plan For Ontario

Continuing on with the theme of the minimum wage, which groups in both Canada and the United States are demonstrating to significantly increase, The Star had a good letter in yeterday's edition that points out the hidden costs of having so many working for poverty-level remuneration.

Fight poverty, boost wages, Editorial Sept. 18

The Star underscored a bitter truth with its editorial call for a minimum wage increase: “a lot of people are working hard to remain in poverty,” due to a minimum wage that’s been frozen for over three years. And, as you note, a great many people are affected: more than half a million minimum-wage Ontario workers directly, along with their family members.

It’s important to realize that we all pay the price of poverty-level wages, in many ways. More than 400,000 Ontarians must rely on foodbanks and emergency meal programs to ward off hunger. Many of them are working, but don’t earn to pay rent and meet other basic needs, including food. A minimum-wage increase would enable more of them to buy their own food — and would ease the burden on foodbank volunteers and donors. It would also raise demand at local food stores and other local businesses, thus boosting the local economy.

A fair minimum wage is a basic issue of justice. It’s also a key element of Ontario’s poverty reduction strategy, which has shown disappointing results in recent years. The minimum wage should be set at a level that ensures that work is truly a pathway out of poverty.

If Premier Kathleen Wynne is sincere about her professed desire to be the “social justice Premier,” she needs to affirm her commitment to real progress against poverty and quickly implement a substantial increase in the minimum wage.


Murray MacAdam, Social Justice & Advocacy Consultant, Anglican Diocese of Toronto

On a related note, this video appeared on Alison's blog at Creekside, which I am taking the liberty of cribbing. Although 19 minutes in length, it is well-worth viewing, exposing as it does the kind of hollow and destructive policy advocated by Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak as he promises to bring in 'right-to-work' (i.e., union-busting) legislation should he become the next premier.

As the film shows, young Tim's promises about the prosperity that will ensue if we just get rid of 'those greedy unions that are hobbling the economy' have allure only if we choose to be willfully ignorant of the fact that such measures will lead to lower wages and even more precarious employment than currently exists:

Monday, September 23, 2013

Police Intimidation Tactics: The Knock At The Door And The Telephone Call



The other day I wrote a post based on Thomas Walkom's column detailing the intimidation tactics being utilized by the Ontario Province Police againt those in the Kincardine area opposed to their land being the site of a proposed nuclear waste dump. Many of those planning to make their opposition known at hearings into the matter received knocks on the door from the police asking if they were planning any demonstrations. No groups in favour of the site received such visits.

In today's edition of The Star, Thomas Walkom reports that the OPP is now exporting its tactics to the United States, but instead of the knock on the door they are using the jarring ring of the telephone:

Toledo, Ohio resident Michael Leonardi says he received a phone call at home from the OPP’s provincial liaison team asking about his scheduled appearance before the federal review panel looking into plans to bury low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste along Ontario’s Lake Huron shoreline.

In particular, police wanted to know if any protests were planned, he said.

“The officer was very nice,” Leonardi, a member of the Toledo Coalition for Safe Energy, told me Sunday. “He said there was some possibility that organizations like Greenpeace might demonstrate and that police didn’t want any fatalities.”

And yes, Leonardi insists that the word used was “fatalities.”


As Walkom notes, it is not unusual for the police to be proactive when large groups are planning demonstrations, working with them to coordinate traffic stoppages, etc. What appears to be unprecedented is their contact of people merely planning to attend a federal hearing to express their opposition.

Says American Michael Leonardi:

... he has testified at Ontario nuclear hearings before. But this is the first time he’s been vetted by police ahead of time.

“I was just kind of surprised,” he said. “The guy was nice enough on his own. But I couldn’t help but think the call was meant to deter me from testifying.”

But of course, that is surely a mistaken impression. Our police trying to interfere with our Charter Rights? That could never happen in this country. Of course not.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Home Of Free Speech?



Guess it depends on what you have to say:

A journalism professor at the University of Kansas was placed on indefinite administrative leave Friday after he Tweeted about the Navy Yard shooting, saying “blood is on the hands of the #NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters.”

This situation is a case-book illustration of Chris Hedges' thesis in Death of the Liberal Class.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Harper's Flock of Admirers



No doubt due to his hawkish support of all things Israeli, Stephen Harper is set to receive a singular honour from his Jewish admirers:

The Jewish National Fund’s arm in Canada is raising money to build the “Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor and Education Centre” in a nature park in a northern valley bordered by the Golan Heights to the east and the Naphtali Range of mountains to the west.

Always insightful, Star letter writers are chirping up with their opinions:

Re: Bird centre in Israel to be named after Harper, Sept. 18

The Star reported that the Jewish National Fund (JNF) “has helped the Jewish state acquire land, extend settlement, and rehabilitate the environment,” but it does not mention that the organization is very controversial, since it acquired much of this land from dispossessed Palestinians, has covered up demolished Palestinian villages with recreational parks and forests, and that it practices racial discrimination in the provision of land and housing by only leasing its land to Jews.

Most disturbing is JNF Canada’s project, Ayalon Canada Park, built over the ruins of two depopulated and destroyed Palestinian villages — Imwas and Yalu — as well as over the lands of the destroyed village of Beit Nuba.

Our politicians and banks should not be endorsing Palestinian dispossession. Independent Jewish Voices’ campaign to expose the JNF is a much-needed initiative for peace and justice.


Tyler Levitan, Campaigns Coordinator, Independent Jewish Voices—Canada, Ottawa


Reporting that an Israeli bird interpretive centre will be named after the Prime Minister, Tonda McCharles remarks that he is considered more hawk than dove when it comes to the Middle East.

If such a centre ever opens in our country, I suggest the ostrich — head buried in the sand — would be a more suitable Canadian symbol for Stephen Harper, who claims to know nothing of a deal hatched in his own office to pay off Mike Duffy’s improper Senate expenses.


Stephen Moore, Regina

Congratulations to the Jewish Community for recognizing Proroguing Minister Harper for what he really is — for the Birds — by arranging for such an honour to him in Israel.

In fact, considering the valued appropriateness of the dedication to Harper, I am offering my 50 cent contribution, when it happens, to build a statue of Harper in that location so the weary birds may rest their tired wings and deposit their appreciation as well. Congratulations, Mr. Harper, no one other than your American ally Barack Obama deserves a similar tribute.

In fact, since you are always willing to stand with your allies, regardless of the implicit dishonesty and fraud as there was in the case of Iraq, make an offer to Obama to have his statue built alongside yours — hand in hand. Dedicated allies!

Oh yes, if Obama agrees to have his statue thus erected, I will make a contribution of an additional 50 cents. How about the magnanimity of that, Mr. Proroguer?


Emanuel D. Samuel, North York

You can read more of their thoughts here.

"I Am The One Who Knocks"

For the past several years, my attention has been riveted on a show called Breaking Bad, without doubt one of the greatest television series ever produced, ranking right up there with The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, and The Wire. The tale of a chemistry teacher (played by the incredibly talented Bryan Cranston) who becomes a high-level meth producer and distributor after being diagnosed with lung cancer, the show has become increasingly dark over its five-year run, which is about to end with just two episodes remaining.

In a famous scene, shown below, the protagonist, Walter White, talks to his wife about the knock on the door, something we very frequently associate with either bad news or something deeply unsettling. Well, as reported by Thomas Walkom in today's Star, that knock on the door has come to Kincardine residents opposed to the plan to dump nuclear waste nearby. Who was knocking? The OPP "Provincial Liaison Team":

When Beverley Fernandez came to her front door one day last week, she found two Ontario Provincial Police constables patiently waiting.

Fernandez, who opposes plans to bury nuclear waste on the Lake Huron shoreline near her Kincardine-area home, was scheduled to testify at an environmental assessment hearing into the scheme.

The officers had tracked her down. Now, they told her, they were there to help. In particular, they wanted to help by knowing if her advocacy group, Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump, was planning any demonstrations.

They told her that plenty of plainclothed officers would be present at the hearings. They said they weren’t trying to stifle anyone’s free speech. And then, very politely, they left.


This performance was repeated with several dump-site critics but, curiously, none of the advocates of the plan except for Kincardine Mayor Larry Kraemer received such 'courtesy calls.'

Former provincial deputy environment minister Rod McLeod, who lives in the area, said he knows of at least six dump critics who were approached by police for a quiet chat.

The subliminal message, he said, is patently obvious: Behave yourself; we’ll be watching.


Who instigated these obvious attempts at intimidation? According to OPP Sgt. David Rektor, the liaison team took it upon themselves, as the OPP likes to have a “proactive approach” in situations where there might be “two ideas opposed to each other.”

Unfortunately, this version of 'the truth' does not square with that of the spokesman for Ontario Power Generation, Neal Kelly's. In an email, he said that the OPP’s “engagement” came at the request of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and “local municipalities.”

Perhaps the question of who instigated the 'visits' is ultimately of secondary importance. What is of paramount significance is the fact that the Ontario Provincial Police are attempting to intimidate and stifle the expression of an opinion that some do not like, clearly evidenced by the fact that none of the groups advocating for the nuclear dump site were visited.

Obviously, that Saturday knock on the door by Jehovah's Witnesses is not the only thing citizens of Ontario have to worry about.



The Price Of Our Heedlessness - A Sobering Saturday Morning Video

Although brief, this video shows the terrible cost of our 'disposable' lifestyles:

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pope Francis Has His Work Cut Out For Him

As The Disaffected Lib pointed out yesterday, Pope Francis seems to be making a real effort to bring a new tone and substance to the Church. However, if you watch this video, you will see that he clearly has an uphill battle in changing the views of reactionary Catholics:

A Scientist Speaks Out



By now, the plight of government scientists is reasonably well-known. Despite the Harper propaganda machine's vehement campaign to deny the practice, more and more Canadians have become aware that the regime has been systematically muzzling its scientists, whose research and hard data frequently contradict and expose as lies the ideology that passes as truth in our debased democracy.

Because we have a collectively short memory, every so often we need to be reminded of some harsh realities, as was done on September 16 when scientists rallied against government efforts to suppress much-needed information.

David Schindler, described as the Killam Memorial Professor of Ecology emeritus at the University of Alberta, has a well-written piece in today's Star reminding all of us of the government's odious practices.

Entitled Remove the muzzle from government scientists, the article begins by reminding us of the proud and often pivotal role Canadian science, much of it governmental, has played in some far-reaching environmental initiatives, including the fact that

Canada was the first country to regulate phosphorus in sewage and detergents, leading to the recovery of many lakes from algal blooms.

Canada also led global efforts to decrease emissions of ozone-depleting chemicals, resulting in the Montreal Protocol.

...policies to control acid rain, based largely on science from government departments, were implemented.

Shindler himself left government science when things began to change. The first changes were somewhat subtle, beginning in the 1990s:

Scientists ... were warned to avoid directly criticizing government policies, even environmentally harmful ones. Rebukes were mild for a scientist who challenged his political masters. At worst, a scolding letter was “put on your file.”

Things steadily deteriorated, with restrictions reaching their nadir once the Harper regime became ensconced:

Shortly after it took office, scientists were told they must have permission from bureaucrats to speak publicly. Bureaucrats and communications officers issued “speaking lines” that must be used to avoid criticism of policies. The permitted lines were often so inane that most scientists chose to remain silent rather be embarrassed by using them.

This weakening of the scientific voice had dire consequences, including the collapse of the cod industry, but much worse was to come:

The government divested itself of the Experimental Lakes Project, government contaminants programs, climate projects and the Arctic PEARL project. The Fisheries Act and the Navigable Waters Act were changed to provide less protection, while expediting large industrial developments.

And now, of course, we have the almost daily spectacle of government ministers defending the indefensible, with lies about subjects ranging from greenhouse gas emissions to oilsands and protection of fisheries.

Shindler ends his piece with the following sobering thoughts:

We must take government science back from politicians who would twist or hide science that reveals flaws in their policies. We deserve to know the truth about the impacts of proposed developments on our environment, in order to avoid mistakes that will be costly to future generations.

Government science once provided this information, and it must be changed to do so again. The health of not only our environment, but of Canadian democracy, depends on it.


We can expect the Harper cabal to continue to fight any such ideas vigorously, as is the wont of repressive regimes everywhere.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

America: A Superpower Of Near-Demonic Dimensions

So says Noam Chomsky in this 2003 video produced for the BBC. I find little with which to disagree in his analysis:

Please Sign This Petition

While many of us know that the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is being conducted in unprecedented secrecy (except, of course, in the case of the corporate sector that has full access to the discussions), it is difficult to rally opposition to it with few facts. I received a petition request today from Doctors Without Borders along with a sobering reminder of what could emerge if the agreement comes to pass in its present form:


A Doctor's Perspective On Quebec's Proposed Charter



While the proposed Quebec Charter of Values has elicited a variety of strong responses, some decrying it as thinly-veiled racism, others hailing it as a bold blueprint for secularism, there is something that up to this point has been missing from the debate: the fact that, whether openly acknowledged or not, there exists within humans something more than our prejudices, our instincts, our principles, and our rationality.

There is a spiritual dimension.

It is easy to mock religious sentiment. Professional atheists such as Richard Dawkins do it all the time, but they tend to target the unsophisticated and risible parodies that pass as religious belief today: literal interpretations of the Bible, God as a kind of cosmic Santa Claus who gives us what we ask for, a.k.a. the prosperity gospel, creationism, the ravings of unhinged people like Pat Robertson, etc. etc. In my mind, transcendent reality is likely much more subtle and nuanced, glimpses of which we get as we go about our daily lives.

In yesterday's Toronto Star, Dr. Samir Gupta, who practices medicine in both Quebec and Ontario, offers his perspective on the Quebec Charter that indirectly addresses this other reality. Essentially, he contends that the kind of 'rational' neutrality the Charter calls for would be a grave disservice to many people during those times when something beyond the material is needed:

Doctors play an integral role in some of the most intimate and difficult moments in people’s lives. Moments such as learning that one has an incurable chronic condition, or worse, a terminal disease. Indeed, moments when a person will often turn to religion.

Rather than simply imparting objective information about prognoses, etc., doctors are often expected and called upon by their patients for much more:

...doctors advise families about withdrawal of life-sustaining therapy when their loved one is in a vegetative state. They also routinely propose whether and under what circumstances cardiopulmonary resuscitation should be offered to a patient with a grave and terminal illness.

Gupta points out that such advice often goes beyond the strictly medical to involve the physician's own values and beliefs, especially when asked what decision they would make under such circumstances:

These situations occur every day in our health-care system. As described, they engender a “human” response from doctors — one that is invariably influenced by their religious beliefs, philosophy and world view, whether they like it or not.

Gupta suggests that this ability to advise by drawing upon spiritual dimensions is valued by patients and their families.

An interesting perspective, one that clearly deserves to be part of the debate.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Smoking Gun?




Oh, what a tangled web they weave.

To Protect And Serve

The police protect and serve - they really do. It's just that we aren't the ones receiving those services:

More On The Minimum Wage



The struggle to raise the minimum wage has been the subject of several of my recent posts. The current wage of $10.25 in Ontario is as inadequate as the $7.25 that the majority of jurisdictions in the United States pays, forcing millions to live below the poverty line even if they are working 35-40 hours per week.

Today's Star has an editorial championing an increase, perhaps not the 40% immediate increase that poverty activists are calling for in Ontario, but at least a reasonable step toward that goal.

Consider this startling fact from the editorial:

Some 534,000 Ontarians work 35 hours or more each week in fast-growing retail and service industries, earning the provincial minimum wage of $10.25 an hour. Indeed, with annual earnings under $20,000, these workers will never even crack the paltry official low-income measurement of $23,000 a year. That means a lot of people are working very hard just to remain in poverty.

While praising the Liberals for having made some progress on this file, given that the much-despised previous Harris government had frozen it at $6.85 an hour for nine years, the fact that it has been stuck at $10.25 since 2010 leads the paper to advocate the following:

The least the government should do is continue the same trend of raising the minimum wage 2.5 times faster than the rate of inflation. That would mean an increase of 13.5 per cent, to catch up since 2010. It translates into an increase of $1.40 an hour, bringing the minimum wage up to about $11.65.

That would still leave many full-time workers stuck in poverty. And it would disappoint activists pushing for an immediate increase to $14 an hour – the level that would bring earnings just above the poverty line. But it would mean a hike of almost 40 per cent, a huge burden on many businesses.


While business will always bewail and bemoan any increase that might mean having to share a little more of the profits made possible by their serfs workers, the plan seems eminently doable and a decent start on the road to a living wage that everyone deserves.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Barney Frank Asks An Awkward Question

I have a question of my own: why doesn't Canada have someone like Frank willing to speak truth to power?



Guns Don't Kill People - Video Games Do: Pretzel Logic From Fox

I'm sure this makes sense to many Americans:

A Suggestion For The Wayward Woman From Wadena



A Star reader has a succinct suggestion for the errant Senator Wallin:

Re: She pays up, but Wallin's not happy about it, Sept. 14

If Pamela Wallin really wants to “unburden” the people of Canada, and in particular the people of Saskatchewan, she will do the right thing and resign from the Senate. She has brought shame and disrespect to herself and to the Senate through her outrageous behaviour.

The fact that she has agreed to repay $136,369 speaks volumes of her claim of innocence. And to blame the outside audit firm of Deloitte and the Senate’s internal investigative committee for her wrongful deeds simply exacerbates her guilt.


Donald Cangiano, Oakville

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Power Of Faith

It has been said that faith can move mountains. According to televangelist Cindy Jacobs, it can also grow cheekbones and eliminate 'grapefruit-sized tumours':

Justifying Poor Remuneration



Ever the big business apologist, The Globe and Mail, as reported by Operation Maple, had an article the other day by one of their newer hires, Leah Eichler, who essentially says that young workers today have it pretty good.

Entitled For younger workers, perks trump pay, Eichler asserts that even though compensation may not be up to par, something more important and more valued is being offered: benefits that enhance the quality of workers' lives.

These include variable pay (work really, really hard and earn more!), flexible hours, career planning and sabbaticals. In a startling expression of obeisance to the corporate agenda, the writer asserts, without a hint of irony, that this trend of companies turning toward intangible benefits instead of cold, hard cash is exactly what we Canadians have been asking for.

Hmm, most people I know just want a decent-paying job to pay off student debt, mortgages, and those other very inconvenient exigencies of life.





A Needed Voice



For those interested in a broader public policy discussion than has been permitted by our political 'leaders' thus far, the NDP nomination of journalist Linda McQuaig yesterday in Toronto Centre, Bob Rae's old riding, is an auspicious beginning. No stranger to progressives, McQuaig has exposed the iniquities of gross income inequality in her writing for many years, trenchantly challenging the increasingly obdurate notion that nothing can be done about the ever-widening gap between those who have and those who do not.

While it is still anyone's guess as to when Stephen Harper will call the byelection for the riding, without question we can expect a vigorous debate on the important issues, especially given that another journalist, Chrystia Freeland, received the Liberal Party nod. While the leaders of their respective parties have hewed to either a very close-mouthed or conventional approach to the economic questions that plague our country, given what I know about Ms. McQuaig, the byelection campaign will see these issues front and centre, and I strongly doubt that McQuiag will be happy to utter the conservative platitudes that Thomas Mulcair has recently been given to uttering.

Are we entering a new era of exciting and dynamic politics? Having one knowledgeable, passionate and outspoken candidate will not likely change the political landscape, but at the very least, it is a hopeful beginning.


A Monday Morning Thought

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Struggle To Raise The Minimum Wage

I have written several recent posts on the campaign gaining traction across the United States to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour from the current average of just over $7. That struggle has now come to Ontario, where those living in poverty thanks to the current minimum of $10.25 are demonstrating for a boost to $14 per hour. Raising it to that level would put workers just above the poverty line, assuming a full working week.

The minimum wage campaign, which began Aug. 14, is planning similar days of action across Ontario on the 14th of every month in advance of next spring’s provincial budget, when the Wynne government is expected to weigh in on the matter.

As reported by the CBC, according to Statistics Canada, more than 800,000 Canadians were working at or below minimum wage in 2009.

Lest one think that $10.25 is a princely sum, consider the circumstance and words of some of the demonstration's participants:

Toronto meat packer Gyula Horvath has to work a gruelling 50 to 60 hours a week to survive on his wages of just $10.25 an hour.

“It’s no good,” the 22-year-old Hungarian immigrant, who is also supporting a wife on his meagre minimum wage earnings, said Saturday. “It’s very hard to pay rent.”

Call centre worker Jenny Kasmalee, 38, can rarely afford new clothing or other personal things on her $10.25 per hour.

“I have always worked for minimum wage,” she said. “It’s not much.”


Estina Sebastian-Jeetan, a mother-of-two who attended the rally, described some of the challenges she faces as a low-wage earner. "Sometimes I skip my medication in order to make ends meet," she said.

Cogent arguments have been made that having a living rather than a subsistence wage would benefit our entire society. As pointed out by economist Jim Stanford, when people have some money to spare after paying for rent and food, they are likely to spend it, thereby stimulating the economy.

And of course, it is wise to remember that minimum wage jobs in this economy are no longer the domain of the poorly educated. Many university graduates, struggling to find their place in the world, are toiling in retail and service and other traditionally low-paying sectors.

The dean of social sciences at McMaster University in Hamilton, Charlotte Yates, observes that changes in Canada’s labour market are permanent – most notably a penchant for part-time and contract hiring – and are not a temporary blip.

Says Judith Maxwell, past chair of the Economic Council of Canada:

“People over their forties in Canada have no idea what it’s like for a young person trying to find a pathway to adulthood right now.”

Predictably, business is much more conservative and restrained on the question of minimum wage increases. Last week the Canadian Chamber of Commerce published a report, the most pertinent being the following conclusion based on a survey of its members:

In the survey of 1,207 members, 46 per cent said the minimum wage should rise with inflation.

Of course the main problem in tying any increases to inflation means that the workers would continue to live in poverty; they simply wouldn't sink any deeper, which to me is simply another way of ignoring the problem.

The poor have little voice in the formulation of government policy. The moral responsibility for change therefore resides with those of us who have had the good fortune to work productively and profitably throughout our lives; we need to add our voices to theirs and promote change. A letter to one's MPP would be a good start.


A Teacher's Truth Costs Her Her Job

It seems to me that any school should feel very lucky to have a teacher of Kristen Ostendorf's character and courage. Totino-Grace Catholic High School in Minnesota is not one of those schools:




Saturday, September 14, 2013

It's Easy To Malign The Poor

There are just so many of them, the reasons for which Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera turn their mighty intellects to articulate:





Please note that while the video plays in Explorer, it does not seem to work with Chrome.

More On Madame Marois' Mission



Star readers offer their insights on the Quebec Purity Charter. Both sides are ably represented:

An outrageous plan, Editorial Sept. 11

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois and her crowd are playing on the fear of difference. Also, there is an appealing assumption that the more homogeneous society is the more harmonious society is. “If only we all could be the same,” as the thinking go, “we all would be better off.” That is, of course, pure bunk. A quick scan of the world reveals that many countries that score high on the homogeneous scale are riven by political turmoil.

Unless Quebec’s Parti Quebecois is deliberately exploiting ignorance for political gain — that may well be the case — Premier Marois, seemingly, cannot understand that Quebec, like the rest of Canada, is already a well-established multicultural society and every effort must be made to make the best of it. It is far too late to return to a simpler time when its society was less diverse.

Besides, a multicultural society offers so much more, although it does come with challenges, but that goes for all societies and all civilizations.

Ms Marois has not shown any evidence that the wearing or displaying religious symbols within the public service is a problem that warrants government action. If a few people in Quebec are upset at seeing a turban or headscarf on a person’s head or a large Christian cross hanging around the neck, my advice to them is: Get over it. Where’s the harm? Besides, a threat of prohibition raises the risk of “waking up a sleeping giant.”

If the PQ government thinks it has a problem with religious symbols, wait until minority groups hit the streets in protest. It won’t be a picnic.
Far better that the Quebec government build its society on its diversity. There is plenty of it and Quebeckers can learn and benefit so much more from each other. Therein lies the beauty and richness of diversity.


John Harvard, former Lt. Governor, Manitoba, Winnipeg

Isn’t journalism supposed to provide some balance in reporting? I have not read anything in your paper that simply explains the Quebec charter’s intent in an unbiased way. You’d think Quebec was promoting child molestation.

It’s clear that the Marois government is looking for an alternative to the policy of multiculturalism, but this is taboo. We are getting a one-sided condemnation from your newspaper, with no extra perspective.

Multiculturalism is only a recent official policy (the Trudeau years), and we have not yet seen its long-term effects. We can’t say then that multiculturalism is a universal, eternal value that is applicable always, everywhere until the end of time. We must continue to see it as a human invention that demands review, reflection and questioning. Let’s not close the debate and start a witch hunt against those who are opposed to it, please.


Erin McMurtry, Toronto

Recently an Afghani father visited a GTHA school to enrol his 10 daughters who were wearing full veils. He demanded that his girls were not to sit next to boys; not allowed to take music, art or history; nor to participate in sports either co-ed or same sex; or extra-curricular activities.

We don’t understand why school authorities have to accommodate those requests rather than present three options — accept the public school system’s practices and curricula; home-school their children or attend a private school that honours their religious beliefs.

If our family moved to a Muslim country we doubt any requests for Western values would be accommodated. When you move to another country you adapt to that country, not the reverse and even more in the event of becoming citizens. Multiculturism is a noble concept but our Canadian culture needs to be respected and followed or does multiculturism trump all?

Roger & Brigitte Dykstra, Ancaster

Friday, September 13, 2013

How The Mighty Are Fallen

Anne Kingston, a writer for Maclean's, offers a peek at her upcoming exposé of Wadena's Wayward Woman and her fall from grace:

Breaking News: Despite her continued protestations of having done nothing wrong, Wallin has just repaid another $100K, accompanied by the following statement:

“Although I fundamentally disagree with the methodology used in arriving at that figure, particularly since the amount was calculated using newly created rules to examine past expenses, I do not want to burden the people of Canada and, in particular the people of Saskatchewan, by engaging in a protracted legal debate about the matter”.

“I wish to make it clear. I was not treated fairly by the Deloitte review, which was not conducted in accordance with generally accepted accounting principle, nor have I been treated fairly by the Senate Committee. Evidence that casts doubt on the correctness of the amounts owing was either ignored or disregarded during the review.”

Joseph Stiglitz On Income Inequality

Nobel Memorial Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz recently gave a powerful speech at the annual AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles. Watching this video leaves one little choice but to feel a deep dissatisfaction with the status quo:



The Long Road To Justice



Although long, the road to criminal justice for Adam Nobody has finally ended; the police officer who viciously assaulted him during the infamous Toronto 2010 G20 weekend, Const. Babak Andalib-Goortani, was found guilty of using excessive force. Of the myriad who violated the rights of over 1100 people that weekend, he is the only officer to whom justice has been meted out.

And the fact that he has been convicted is thanks to video evidence offered by bystanders. Had the usual blue wall prevailed, the crime would have gone unpunished, as all of the officers involved claimed to have no knowledge of their fellow officers' identities, nor of any crimes they might have perpetrated. This fiction was supported by Chief Bill Blair who, at the time, said that the video taken by bystander John Bridge was tampered with, and that the police were likely arresting a violent, armed offender. They were remarks he later apologized for.

Happily, Justice Louise Botham saw through the veil of lies and 'amnesia' so beloved of police when they are caught in wrongdoing. In response to Andalib-Goortani’s claim that his baton blows against Nobody were to assist officers in arresting a resisting Nobody, she said:

“I find his explanation that he was responding to Adam Nobody’s resistance is nothing more than an after-the-fact attempt to justify his blows rather than reason for them”.

The final test will come on Nov. 8, when Andalib-Goortani will be sentenced. In the unlikely event he is given jail time, he will lose his job; more probable is a fine which will allow him to continue 'protecting and serving.'

Mike McCormack, President of the Toronto Police Association, said that while the police respect the justice system, the judge came to the wrong conclusion. He also opined that this was an isolated incident:

"I think that our members, our police officers, did a great job overall the day of the G20, and they're extraordinary circumstances, and I still stand by our membership and that every officer's actions have to be assessed on their individual actions," he said.

I imagine that at least 1100 people who were illegally incarcerated that weekend and otherwise had their Charter fights abrogated might disagree with McCormack's evaluation.



Thursday, September 12, 2013

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 charter would do to those living within Quebec, there is growing evidence that the fallout, even if the odious legislation never passes, is spreading to other Canadian jurisdictions. Now inexplicably absent from its website, Power and Politics' Ballot Box Question of the Day for September 10 was Should public employees be banned from wearing religious symbols? A resounding 69% agreed they should be.

Given the generally progressive nature of CBC viewers, that number is a bit shocking and is perhaps also an indicator of the appeal such legislation has for those who are either latently or overtly intolerant. Having a government that is willing to enshrine discrimination offers the veneer of legitimacy to prejudice.
While it might sound like hyperbole, one needs only look at the history of the Rwandan genocide to realize that it all started with the Hutu government fomenting discontent against the Tutsis.

And, of course, Hitler's systematic stripping away of Jewish rights on the road to genocide needs no recounting here.

Will the Quebec Charter lead to genocide? Of course not. But it will encourage those are prejudiced to be more vocal in their prejudice, more intolerant of differences within our society, more disdainful of the rights of those with whom they disagree.

Even for a country as blessed as Canada, history and human nature make no exceptions.

P.S. You may also be interested in reading this Star editorial: Quebec’s proposed Charter of Values fails the decency test

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What Can You Say?

Today has been a blogging day where I seem to be writing little of my own thoughts but mainly linking to other sites. And I can't think of a single thing to add to this travesty of police work:

Pat Roberston Commemorates 9/11

And he does it in his inimitable way by offering his 'insights' on Islam and the consequences of godlessness:


Elizabeth Warren Speaks

In addressing a recent convention of the AFL-CIO, outspoken U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, about whom I have posted several times, offered some stirring words. Although directed to an American audience, her sentiments are equally applicable here, given the anti-union and anti-people demagoguery and practices of Mr. Harper's regime at the federal level and Tim Hudak's at the provincial (Ontario) level.

Although this excerpt from a much longer speech is brief and short on specifics, it is the tone that is especially noteworthy, along with the reminder that the fight of the people is the country's fight. If the people do well, so does the country, a wisdom and truth that our current Ottawa cabal and others have conveniently 'forgotten'.

And Speaking Of Weapons Of Mass Destruction ...

Laurence O'Donnell offers a vital history lesson on the United States' use of napalm:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

H/t The Raw Story

Ten Chemical Weapons Attacks Washington Doesn’t Want You to Talk About



In Oceania and throughout the West, there are things citizens are not supposed to remember. After all, if we don't remember them, did they really happen?

Click here for a refresher course in the use of chemical weapons from some players we should be well-familiar with.

Double Dare Ya



Apparently, instead of taking his position as leader of Ontario's Progressive Conservative Party seriously by articulating responsible policy, young Tim prefers to engage in children's games:

Tory leader Tim Hudak dares Liberals to call election

'Nuff said?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Quebec's Purity Values Charter

The following is reported in today's Vancouver Sun about Quebec's impending purity values charter:

The Quebec government has released plans for a "values charter" that would impose unique-in-North America restrictions on religious clothing for employees at all government institutions starting with schools, hospitals and courts.

If adopted by the legislature, the plan would apply to the hijabs, kippas, turbans and large crucifixes worn by more religious public servants.

That would mean a career-vs-religion dilemma for civil authorities like judges, police, and prosecutors; public daycare workers; teachers and school employees; hospital workers; municipal personnel; and employees at state-run liquor stores and the auto-insurance board.


Last night, The National's Terence McKenna had a report on the implications of this very restrictive and discriminatory legislation that will likely see a massive outflow of visible minorities who are the target of this repugnant measure. Take a few minutes to watch it and see what you think:

Young Tim's 'Transparency'


In a political landscape littered at all levels with lies, deception and expedience, it is hardly surprising that young Tim Hudak, the beleaguered 'leader' of Ontario's Progressive Conservative Party, has hung former Finance critic Peter Shurman out to dry.

Those who follow Ontario politics will likely be aware that Shurman, who represents the riding of Thornhill, lives in Niagara-on-the-Lake and maintains an apartment at taxpayer expense in Toronto, since his principal residence is more than 50 km from Toronto. This was done, according to Shurman, with the full knowledge and approval of Hudak, knowledge and approval which the Tory leader now steadfastly denies.

As a consequence of Shurman's expense claims coming to light, along with his refusal to pay back the money, young Tim, apparently in a futile effort to display 'decisive leadership,' fired Shurman from his finance critic's post:

“He did follow the technical rules but I need to enforce a higher standard,” said Hudak. “I think we need to change this rule.”

Which may be all well and good except for two things: Hudak's prior approval of the arrangement, if Shurman is to be believed, and this interesting tidbit in today's Star:

Embattled Progressive Conservative MPP Peter Shurman wanted to run in Niagara Falls in the 2011 election, but Tory Leader Tim Hudak urged him to remain in Thornhill to save that seat ...

... four senior Conservative sources said the leader was worried the Liberals would win Thornhill without Shurman and pleaded with the popular incumbent to remain there, even though Hudak knew he was living in the Niagara region by then.

While young Tim is trying to use this situation to show that he is capable of strong leadership, some would say it is an example of something far less flattering: personal betrayal.


Monday, September 9, 2013

How Many Fingers Am I Holding Up, Winston?

O'Brien held up his left hand, its back toward Winston, with the
thumb hidden and the four fingers extended.
"How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?"
"Four."
"And if the Party says that it is not four but five -- then how many?"
"Four."
The word ended in a gasp of pain.

-- George Orwell 1984

As a resident of Harperland, there are indeed days when I feel like Winston Smith, the beleaguered protagonist of Orwell's prescient novel, 1984. Like Smith, I live in a land of lies perpetrated by a government that claims to represent its citizens, claims that are as far from truth as most of us are from sainthood. It is a land where civic engagement is discouraged, genuine concerns derisively dismissed, and the most passionate often find themselves on government enemies' lists. It is a land of cruel delusion.

My friend Steve yesterday alerted me to yet one more instance of the kind of Harper propaganda and subterfuge that bears little relation to truth.

Most of us assume that when we fly, we are protected by stringent government oversight, and that when we purchase a ticket from a Canadian airline, we are purchasing the services of both a Canadian plane and crew. That is not necessarily true.

There is a term in the airline industry called wet leasing, a practice that allows Canadian companies to lease not just a foreign aircraft but also its crew, maintenance and other essential elements.

While there is nothing illegal about the practice, it does open the door to potential threats to safety.

Take, for example, an incident that occurred on July 16, 2012, when two Canadian CF-18 Hornet fighter jets scrambled to intercept a Sunwing Airlines flight near Quebec City, after the Toronto-bound aircraft lost contact with air traffic control for more than an hour. The plane and crew, leased from Portugal, placed everyone in danger of being shot down as a terrorist threat for one simple reason: the pilot forgot to change radio frequncies when he entered a new flight zone, a standard requirement that even the most unseasoned of domestic pilots are well-aware of.

Yet in Harperland, we are told not to worry. Last week, six months after CTV News reported the near-death experience of the Sunwing passengers, Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt announced the government will limit wet-leasing by imposing a cap of “20 per cent of a Canadian carrier’s fleet that can be wet-leased from a foreign company for periods of more than 30 days.”

In addition to this wholly inadequate and belated response, Minister Raitt had the audacity (or is it just the usual contempt for the intelligence of Canadians?) to issue the following statement:

“Our government is working to make sure that Canadians are first in line for Canadian jobs, to open new markets for Canadian companies and to give more options to Canadian consumers”.

Message to Ms. Raitt and the other apparatchiks of Harplandia:

You are holding up four fingers.




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 own volition for safety reasons, they could have easily overpowered this senior citizen.

Instead, they tasered an 80-year-old, causing her to fall, at which time it seems that she fractured her hip, as well as incurring other injuries. In view of all of the unfavourable publicity regarding how police appear to rush to use force above all other methods, this does not bode well for our citizenry, young and old.

Grace A. Taylor, Streetsville

Really? Tasering an 80-year-old woman? Did Peel Regional Police feel so threatened by her that they felt their only option was to use a Taser?

Mary Smart, Kingston



Collision course for Hudak, labour, Column Sept. 5

The Conservative party in Ontario is ready to self-destruct and one big reason is that Tim Hudak, Randy Hillier and other dinosaurs in the party want to “deunionize to reindustrialize,” medievalize not modernize labour in Ontario. This backward vision whereby the province transforms itself into Mississippi or Arkansas in order to attract exploitive employers who treat their employees like dirt instead of paying living wages and providing fair benefits is a non-starter with the Ontario public. It is one of the main reasons the Tories are tanking in the polls.

We don’t need political leaders who take us backward. We deserve leadership that moves us forward, by following successful examples like Germany. Attacking unions might throw some red meat to the dinosaurs in the Conservative party, but the quicker they become extinct, the brighter Ontario’s future will be.

David Lundy, Merrickville

Re: Proposed bill would help building firm, hurt unions, August 31

Bill 74, a private members bill introduced by London-area Tory MPP Monte McNaughton, to overturn a Labour Relations Board decision re: the use of unionized workers caught my attention. This strikes me as another “race to the bottom” for Canadian workers.

The Labour Relations board gave the giant construction company, EllisDon, whose head office is also in London, two years to lobby Queen’s Park for a change.

A couple of questions: Did EllisDon become a giant company without the help of Canadian education/training programs/Canadian infrastructure/benefits and resources? Benefits that support the growth and success of Canadian companies are also due to Canadians.

If companies from other countries can bid for jobs here with complete freedom to hire non-union workers, isn’t that a sure sign that Canada and Canadians have been sold out by our governments?

If I were the head of EllisDon, I would exert pressure on the federal government to establish a level playing field, rather than try to undermine the workers who have made EllisDon profits possible.

If Canadian companies lost their right to a level playing field due to the free trade sell out, why should the most vulnerable workers be bullied and sacrificed?


Donna Chevrier, Mississauga

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A True Gateway Drug



For those who believe in the virtues of unfettered capitalism, you might want to read up on how teens and pre-teens are now ingesting nicotine, many for the first time, thanks to the diabolical marketing of e-cigarettes to them. Available in flavours that include bubblegum, cherry and strawberry, the lure is proving irresistible to more and more youngsters, many of whom 'graduate' to 'real' cigarettes once they are hooked on the nicotine:



Evil seems to be a wholly inadequate word to describe what is going on here.


Feet Of Clay?

This from the folks at prima facie. Enjoy:

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Told You The Right Hates Rachel Maddow

Listen to this for confirmation:

The Power Of Pictures



'Nuff said.

Another Union-Busting Eatery I Will Not Patronize



Several days ago I commented on a story from The Star about the unsavory labour practices of Richtree Market, a Toronto restaurant that 'closed' its business, terminated all of its unionized staff, only to reopen this coming Monday a few doors down from its prior location. None of the old staff was rehired, and all who currently staff the 'new' operation are non-union, a clear violation of Ontario labour law.

In this morning's edition, The Toronto Star reports that the same tactic has been used by the Lai Wah Heen restaurant, housed within the exclusive Metropolitan Hotel in Toronto:

For 17 years, Ricky Chu served the lauded dim sum at Lai Wah Heen restaurant with a smile. The unionized job at the Metropolitan Hotel eatery fed his kids, after all.

When a new owner took over the hotel in January, the high-end restaurant was shut down. Chu lost his job. But he considered it salt in the wound when Lai Wah Heen reopened in March — without him or ten other servers who were laid off. In their place was a non-unionized staff.

The Metropolitan Hotel changed hands this year, being purchased by Bayview Hospitality Group. This fact, according to its president, Al Gulamani, gives it every legal right to treat over 100 of the hotel's former workers like disposable commodities.

Unite Here Local 75, the union representing them, disagrees, arguing that the owner has violated labour law and their collective bargaining agreement by shutting down certain departments only to subcontract them out.

Employment lawyer Howard Levitt says new ownership can’t break a union agreement, especially if the nature of the business hasn’t changed.

“It doesn’t matter if the ownership changes, there’s something called successor rights in the Labour Relations Act. Employers who think that just by changing ownership they can escape the union are unfortunately deluded.”


Meanwhile, employees in other departments of the Metropolitan live in daily fear that they will be next. One of those is Rahman Aliheidari, 49, pictured above, who fears the room service department at the Metropolitan Hotel, where he works, will next:

“I have a 4-year-old daughter. When I work, I have fear. When I sleep, I have fear. You call this a stable job?”

Indeed.



Friday, September 6, 2013

He's Everywhere!

Disclaimer: Despite the fact that this is my third recent posting about him, there is no 'bromance' budding between me and Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt. It's just that I am fascinated by him, given his seemingly ubiquitous media presence, one that belies both his profound, quite peculiar stupidity and smug self-righteousness.

As reported in The Raw Story, Klingenschmitt recently appeared on The Ed Show to try to explain the unholiness of Obamacare.


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Your Morning Jolt

Most people get their morning jolt from their breakfast cup(s) of coffee. As I wrote earlier this week, an 80-year-old woman, now identified as Iole Pasquale and suffering from dementia, got her jolts at 3:30 a.m. from two police taserings while walking along a road in Mississauga with a bread knife.

Described in the original report as frail, police sources say Pasquale was out of control and refused to follow police orders to put down the weapon before she was Tasered.

As a consequence of the tasering, she fell down and broke her hip. Any degree of independent living is no longer an option. Paquale's daughter Angela could be described as a tad upset.


A crime wave of unprecedented proportions seems to be under way; given the cases of Sammy Yatim wielding a pen knife on a deserted streetcar, a crime for which he paid with his life, and Steve Mesic, the emotionally disturbed unarmed Hamilton man whose disrespectful turning of his back on police apparently warranted death, given that his dorsal area was the recipient of the bullets that killed him, few would dispute the dangers police confront on a daily basis.

What is to be done for our brave men and women in blue? Surely the public second-guessing that follows such highly-publicized events is deeply demoralizing to those who protect and serve us.

But undoubtedly, relief is forthcoming for our centurions. The SIU is currently investigating the Pasquale rampage and, if past practices are any indication, full exoneration of the subject officers is all but assured. The Sammy Yatim case is the likely exception. The citizen video of that killing has been widely circulated, offering a view of events that would challenge even the most elaborate and obdurate of police 'narratives.'

Nonetheless, citizens have been warned. Obey authority. Offer no resistance. Question nothing. Your well-being, even your life, may very well depend on complete compliance and passivity.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Syria: Iraq Redux

Rachel Maddow is hated by the right and all who peddle propaganda as truth. The following video illustrates why:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Political Spin: This Story Isn't True, But It Is Gratifying

My friend Gary sent me this yesterday, an apocryphal story that nonetheless offers certain pleasures. Enjoy!

Remus Rudd

Stephen Harper's great-great uncle.



Remus Rudd

No matter what side of the political fence you're on, THIS is FUNNY and
VERY telling! It just all depends on how you look at the same things.

Judy Harper an amateur genealogy researcher in Northern Ontario, was
doing some personal work on her own family tree. She discovered that
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's great-great uncle, Remus Rudd, was
hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Winnipeg in 1889. Both
Judy and Stephen Harper share this common ancestor.

The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows at
The Manitoba Provincial Jail.

On the back of the picture Judy obtained during her research is thisharper
inscription:

'Remus Rudd horse thief, sent to Stony Mountain Jail 1885, escaped
1887, robbed the CP AND CN trains six times.

Caught by Mounted Police Force, convicted and hanged in 1889.'

So Judy recently e-mailed Prime Minister Harper for information about
their great-great uncle, Remus Rudd.

Believe it or not, Harper's staff sent back the following biographical
sketch for her genealogy research:

"Remus Rudd was famous in Ontario during the mid to late 1800s. His
business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian
assets and intimate dealings with the CP and CN Railways..

Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government
service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroads.

In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the Mounted
Police Force. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic
function held in his honour when the platform upon which he was standing
collapsed."

NOW That's how it's done, Folks!

Now that's a real POLITICAL SPIN!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Another Example Of Idiocy That Gives A Bad Name To Religion

Were I still a teacher, I would certainly use the following as a prime example of a reasoning fallacy and sheer idiocy:

A Christian Speaks In Defense Of Gay Marriage

Calm, eloquent and convincing, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd offers his reasons for supporting gay marriage. Rarely have I heard a politician articulate and defend his position so well. He puts the unhinged and zealous hate mongers who claim to be Christian to the shame they richly deserve.

So Many Stories, So Little Time

Most days that I post a blog entry, I choose my topic based on my reaction to news stories. Today, two disparate pieces seem particularly noteworthy, one that confirms what all but the profoundly naive know about government, the other about yet again another police incident that, thanks to the blanket of secrecy that encases our security forces, seems incomprehensible.

First, the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, under the troubled 'leadership' of young Tim Hudak, confirms that that they are the party of business interests. As reported in The Toronto Star, Conservative MPP Randy Hillier, admittedly no fan of his leader, has revealed his concerns about a private member's bill introduced by fellow MPP Monte McNaughton that would release construction giant EllisDon from a closed-shop working agreement dating to 1958, that locks the company into using unionized workers.

According to Hillier, he and his colleagues were told “explicitly” by senior party officials behind closed doors that pushing [the] legislation ... would boost financial donations to the Tories.

“In caucus, it was stated quite explicitly that following a successful EllisDon fundraiser for (Tory leader) Tim (Hudak), our party would continue to benefit financially with the advancement of this legislation,” he said in the email.

And it gets worse:

Two PC sources confided it was Hudak’s office that pushed the matter in a bid to curry favour with a company that has been a generous political donor for years, especially to the Liberals.

Predictably, a veil of secrecy in response to the allegations has been drawn:

Ian Robertson, Hudak’s chief of staff, said in an email internal caucus deliberations were not for public consumption.

Seems like those ads during the last election weren't so far-fetched after all.

Seguing from the secrecy embraced by political parties to that worshiped by the police, a disturbing story reported in The Globe reveals that an 80-year-old woman was tasered by police around 3:30 a.m. last Wednesday as she was walking along a road in Mississauga. She fell and broke her hip.

Predictably, details about the circumstances surrounding this seemingly unnatural act are being withheld from the public pending an investigation by the perennially impotent Special Investigation Unit, always obstructed by the fact that subject police officers do not even have to talk to them.

Secrecy, secrecy, and more secrecy. Not exactly what one would expect from an open and democratic society, is it?