Archive for May, 2015

Canada is not a democracy, never has been

Posted on May 27th, 2015 Be the first to comment

Although it’s lacking teeth,  an op-ed piece in the National Post fairly succinctly summarizes what I’ve been blathering on about for God-only-knows how long now. You don’t need to have a PoliSci degree to see what’s happening but although I doubt I’ll ever be able to shake my ageing parents’ (and many of their generation’s) scorn at my “naiveté”, “ignorance”, and “radical” views on government, at least I know I’m in fine scholarly company.

…the prime minister seems to have the unchecked power to decide when the House should be in session, when elections should occur, and even, in some circumstances, when their governments do or do not have the confidence of the House.

In the past I’ve referred to this as fascism, sometimes as a dictatorship, and often as a tyranny, but as I’ve tried to point out labels ultimately matter far less than deeds.

In the House, the prime minister and government have considerable control over day-to-day operations. This allows governments not only to set the agenda, but to carry it out with ease. The prime minister commands the steadfast loyalty of his MPs, largely through a carrot-and-stick approach; co-operative MPs might be rewarded with cabinet posts or coveted committee positions, while rogues can be — and at times are — punished with removal from caucus or even barred from running as a candidate for the party in future elections. All of these are vestiges of prime ministerial power. The party caucus has little leverage with which to counterbalance the prime minister’s power because party leaders are chosen (and replaced) by the party at large, rather than by the caucus. Thus, the government’s MPs have no effective mechanism through which to stand their ground against a very powerful leader or effectively represent his or her constituents.

Critics regularly cite our seemingly dizzying array of market choices as proof that government has little control in our day-to-day lives. Although they can hardly provide a straight and articulate answer without sneering derision, state supporters are often stumped by simple facts. For example, all of the so-called “choices” that the so-called “free market” offers are all directly controlled by government.


Okay, name any product or service in Canada that doesn’t require government legal authorization, licensing, approval, etc. In other words, you have only the choices that government allows and you’re coerced, backed by threats of violence and imprisonment, into paying for this through taxes. Yes, you can buy things on the black market but you face the wrath of government if you decide thusly to exercise your “free choice” and of course you’re guilty until you can prove otherwise (which they can still arbitrarily reject).

Because they’re now stumped, government lackeys immediately pivot their argument to deflect by claiming that this is necessary to “keep us safe”. To this I would simply suggest cracking open a newspaper – the evidence of how government doesn’t keep us safe is in the news pretty much on a daily basis. Whether this involves food, healthpersonal safetyprivacy, and a litany of other claims about protections, there are regular and glaring examples of how this simply isn’t true.

The statist argument typically changes course once again at this point to demand that nothing – our hospitals, roads, water and electrical systems, etc. – would exist without government. I’ve addressed these obviously specious arguments a number of times in the past but I will concede that government vehicles with government employees do sometimes drive up to a pothole, and one labourer and three supervisors spend three to four weeks filling it with a cop or two gladly accepting extorted taxpayer money to text or browse the web on their cell phones or chat with the crew, while out of sight pedestrians and cars are left to their own devices to share the dangerous inches left for them. Sounds an awful lot like the lazy welfare whores that government is keen to trot out to justify how we should receive even less state “benefits”, doesn’t it?

In other words, government supplies a few services through a wasteful, overpriced, badly (if at all) regulated process, something that is typically done far more efficiently by the private sector. This makes sense – the private business has to look out for their bottom line, government can just raise taxes and you’ll be brutalized or extorted by “authorities” and go to jail if you don’t like it. There’s no incentive for government to be efficient or benefit citizens in any way, and every single government institution behaves according to this.

Don’t believe? Just try and apply for any government “benefits” to see how hard your loving, benign government works for you. Call up a government “service” phone line and see for yourself how much service you receive. While you’re at it, try calling the cops when you actually need them – I have and that’s why I know better.

Rather than becoming more like a system of presidential executive authority, this situation has left Canadian prime ministers in a position more akin to historical monarchs. The evolution of Westminster democracy in Canada is very much a story about the struggle to wrestle power away from the Crown and shift it to Parliament, and specifically the House of Commons, our primary democratic body and check on unfettered prime ministerial power. The ability of prime ministers to retain and use these Crown powers, alongside other powers over MPs and the House of Commons, is resulting in a situation where prime ministers have the power to make decisions, partisan and otherwise, that limit or negate Parliament’s role as a guardian for accountability in our democratic system.

This is not simply about politics or even personalities. Almost all recent prime ministers have used these powers to try to advance their partisan interests. What it is about is the erosion of our democratic institutions and the effect on democratic governance.

The next rhetorical recourse of any good government lapdog is to state that, yeah, okay, maybe government isn’t perfect but we have “checks and balances” to ensure that things more or less work out for most people. And if we don’t like it we can vote in someone else!

These are other points I’ve addressed at length and are yet more claims that can be factually rebutted with a mountain of evidence to the contrary (this blog is filled with it). And while it’s claimed that the media would surely alert us to these issues it’s easy to demonstrate that this is highly unlikely to be the case. Unless you seek out increasingly derided alternative sources you will only know what government and friends want you to know.

If your final argument is that people are too stupid to know what’s good for them, hence the need for unquestionable government, then kindly shut your ignorance hole – you’ve just brilliantly insisted that you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.

Put this all together and the will of the people is entirely irrelevant and, in fact, something to be suppressed.

It’s at this point when state defenders throw up their hands and exasperatedly exclaim, “Oh well! Then I guess we must be living under a King or Queen then, huh?!”

Yeah, smart guy. Flip over your Canadian money or do a Wikipedia search – Canada is a monarchy and whether the titular head is the queen or Harper the effect is the same.

Canada on Wikipedia

Filed under: Patrick Bay, Pictures, Why I'm Right

“This organization poses a great threat to Iraq and Syria”

Posted on May 22nd, 2015 2 Comments

No rape

A lot cheaper than it could be since they’re spending $0 on accountability or oversight.

The RCMP will receive $150.4 million in new money over five years, beginning in 2015-16, and $46.8 million a year after, with the money going to help the Mounties conduct terrorism-related criminal investigations.

The border-services agency will get $5.4 million over five years and $1.1 million annually in subsequent years, with some of the funds earmarked for identifying high-risk travellers.

“The reason the international community has intervened in Iraq is the serious threat that ISIS poses . . . . We’ve had some successes, but, at the same time, it is no secret this is an ongoing battle. This organization poses a great threat and continues to pose a great threat, obviously, to security in Iraq and Syria.

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“…no right to a jury roll of a particular composition”

Posted on May 22nd, 2015 Be the first to comment

Kafka's Trial

Clifford Kokopenace, an aboriginal man from the Grassy Narrows reserve, was convicted of manslaughter in the 2007 death of Taylor Assin. Before sentencing, his lawyers learned that the roll from which jurors were selected consisted of 699 potential jurors, of whom only 29 were First Nation on-reserve residents — about 4.1 per cent.

But in that district, on-reserve residents made up 32 per cent of the adult population. Kokopenace’s lawyers argued his Charter rights to a fair and impartial jury were violated. Ontario’s Court of Appeal agreed.

In a 5-2 decision written by Justice Michael Moldaver, the Supreme Court ruled an accused’s right to a representative jury is “not the appropriate mechanism for repairing the damaged relationship between particular societal groups and our criminal justice system.”

The court said there is no right to a jury roll of a particular composition, nor to one that proportionately represents all the diverse groups in Canada. The court found that when Kenora’s 2008 jury roll was formed, Ontario’s efforts to include aboriginal on-reserve residents in the process were “reasonable.”

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“…not charged with any offences”

Posted on May 22nd, 2015 Be the first to comment

So is he dangerous or what?

Twenty-year-old Seyed Amir Hossein Raisolsadat of Stratford has not been charged with any offences.

Police allege Raisolsadat had beans needed to produce the deadly toxin, ricin.

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“…not a single worker is protected under the Employment Standards Act”

Posted on May 20th, 2015 Be the first to comment


In Ontario, not a single worker is protected from wrongful dismissal under the Employment Standards Act.

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I don’t use the word “hero” often but…

Posted on May 15th, 2015 1 Comment

There are worse crimes you know?

Vaulter Bandit

On Friday, York Regional Police and Peel Regional Police and the Canadian Bankers Association plan to hold a news conference in Aurora to publicize the $100,000 reward.

The robber is known at the Vaulter Bandit for the way in which he jumps over the counter during robberies, and he has been linked to about 20 bank heists over a five-year period across Canada.

He appears to work alone and may use rental cars.

“He’s probably pretty hush hush about it,” [Det.-Sgt. Mike] Fleischaker said.

He has used a silver Jetta and a Chevy Cruz for his escapes, and police are investigating whether they were rental cars.

“These are cars that are frequently rented out as economy cars,” Fleischaker said.

His method of robbery has changed over the course of his career.

Originally, he went into banks during regular hours and jumped the counter, taking whatever he could quickly from tellers.

Since May 2011, he has started to show up in the morning as employees prepare to open branches for business.

Last June, the Canadian Bankers Association raised the reward to $50,000 from $20,000.

Filed under: Dispatches, Patrick Bay, Pictures

“advocacy groups that encourage boycotts of Israel … the new face of anti-Semitism”

Posted on May 15th, 2015 Be the first to comment

France arrests

The Harper government is signalling its intention to use hate crime laws against Canadian advocacy groups that encourage boycotts of Israel.

The government’s intention was made clear in a response to inquiries from CBC News about statements by federal ministers of a “zero tolerance” approach to groups participating in a loose coalition called Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS), which was begun in 2006 at the request of Palestinian non-governmental organizations.

Asked to explain what zero tolerance means, and what is being done to enforce it, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney replied, four days later, with a detailed list of Canada’s updated hate laws, noting that Canada has one of the most comprehensive sets of such laws “anywhere in the world.”

In January, Canada’s then foreign affairs minister, John Baird, signed a “memorandum of understanding” with Israeli authorities in Jerusalem, pledging to combat BDS.

It described the movement as “the new face of anti-Semitism.”

A few days later, at the UN, Canadian Public Security Minister Steven Blaney went much further.

He conflated boycotts of Israel with anti-Semitic hate speech and violence, including the deadly attacks that had just taken place in Paris on the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher supermarket.

Blaney then said the government is taking a “zero tolerance” approach to BDS.

“We’ve asked our lawyers. What does that mean?” says CUPE president Paul Moist. “Is it now a criminal offence to walk around with a sign saying close all the settlements, Israel out of occupied territories?”

In France, the law has for years criminalized hate speech based on national origin, and authorities there have in recent years been using it to prosecute BDS advocates. To date, more than 20 have been convicted.

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“he was 15 … Canadian agents interrogated him in Guantanamo Bay despite knowing he had been abused beforehand”

Posted on May 14th, 2015 Be the first to comment

Kill Team Afghanistan

Although he was 15 when his crimes occurred in Afghanistan in July 2002, the U.S. military commission made no distinction between juveniles and adults in sentencing him in 2010 to a further eight years behind bars.

While the government concedes the sentence for the most serious charge — the murder of an American special forces soldier — can only be considered a youth sentence, it argues the other four — including attempted murder — must be viewed as adult sentences.

No provisions exist for an inmate to serve both youth and adult sentences at the same time, so Ottawa classified him as an adult offender when he transferred to Canada from Guantanamo Bay in September 2012 under an international treaty to serve out his punishment.

The Supreme Court has twice before taken up Khadr’s case, both times siding with him.

In 2008, the court ruled Canadian officials had acted illegally by sharing intelligence information about him with his U.S. captors.

In 2010, the top court declared that Ottawa had violated his constitutional rights when Canadian agents interrogated him in Guantanamo Bay despite knowing he had been abused beforehand.

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“the mayor, the Toronto Police Service and its board have clearly declared black communities collectively a public safety threat”

Posted on May 14th, 2015 Be the first to comment

Krakow ghetto

“We have yet to be provided evidence that carding impacts crime in any shape or fashion,” Rinaldo Walcott, an associate professor at U of T said at a press conference Wednesday. “We have yet to be provided evidence that the database developed from carding impacts crime and its resolution in any way or shape.

“We find this totally unacceptable in the age of information,” said Walcott. “We believe that by ignoring available evidence, that the mayor, the Toronto Police Service and its board have clearly declared black communities collectively a public safety threat.

“The only way to think of such a declaration is to call it anti-black racism.”

Walcott was joined by Anthony Morgan of the African Canadian Legal Clinic, Ryerson University professor Akua Benjamin, Pascale Diverlus who is vice-president of United Black Students Ryerson and a co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto and academic Chris Williams, a vocal opponent of carding.

The group is asking for meetings with new police chief Mark Saunders, Mayor John Tory and Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Toronto police defend carding — during which people are stopped and documented in mostly non-criminal encounters — as an invaluable intelligence-gathering tool and say they police high crime areas of the city and not by race.

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“If you do something against the law in the RCMP … they change the law”

Posted on May 14th, 2015 Be the first to comment


“I find this provision almost Orwellian,” said Fred Vallance-Jones, an associate professor at the University of King’s College in Halifax and an expert in access to information law.

“It seeks to rewrite history, to say that lawful access to records that existed before didn’t actually exist after all, and that if you exercised your quasi-constitutional right of access to those records, well too bad, you’re out of luck.”

The government is setting a precedent to move retroactively on any record it doesn’t want exposed, Vallance-Jones said.

“That to me is the deeper concern.”

Michel Drapeau, a lawyer, former military colonel and access-to-information author, noted there has never been a charge laid under the Access to Information Act, let alone a conviction.

He said the rationale of moving retroactively to prevent a possible prosecution is “a dangerous and unwelcome precedent” that should be as unwelcome to the RCMP and the administration of justice as to freedom-of-information wonks.

“The optics of it are not good: ‘Oh, so that’s the way it works now?’ If you do something against the law in the RCMP, you’ve got your friends in high places, they change the law,” said Drapeau.

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