Democracy

Elections Canada Website Glitches show some Voters as Unregistered

Elections Canada’s website is wrongly telling some rural voters that they’re not registered to vote in the upcoming federal election, despite many of them actually being registered.

Colleen MacQuarrie has lived in the same house in Mount Tryon, P.E.I, for 20 years, and she’s a regular voter. But that’s not what the website told her.

“Other people were having difficulty. I thought, ‘I’m sure I’ll have no difficulty,’ because I’ve not moved and have voted in the past,” she told the CBC’s Maritime Noon radio show.

“I was very surprised to find that, indeed, I’m not in the system. I was told that I need to do a little bit more work in order to get to vote. I’m certainly going to do the work to get to vote but it was very, very, upsetting to find out that Elections Canada doesn’t have my name in the system.”

MacQuarrie said some people may not take the effort.

“I don’t think this is a glitch at all, because who in their right mind would design a system that wouldn’t — in a nation that is comprised of a lot of rural voters — that wouldn’t incorporate rural voters? That’s ridiculous,” she said.

After Maritime Noon‘s broadcast aired, CBC received emails from other who have had the same problem.

“I checked it this morning (having voted from this address in three previous federal elections) and the website could not confirm that I am registered,” said Joan Boutillier.

“I live in Wolfville, hardly a ‘rare and isolated’ part of the province. It is very important that all potential voters have an opportunity to exercise their franchise — democracy depends upon it.”

Charlotte Wilson-Hammond of Clam Harbour, N.S., said she has voted from the same address for more than 40 years.

“When filling in my info, the choice of roads in this area was incorrect. I live on ‘Beach Road’ and there is only a ‘Clam Harbour Beach Road’ listed. There is no such road as far as I’m aware,” she told CBC News. “Very frustrating.”

Source CBC

Conservative candidate on C-51: Civil liberties? “Folks, that’s not the country we live in”

What country do Canadians live in then?

At Sunday’s Calgary-Signal Hill all-candidates debate, Conservative candidate Ron Liepert responded to criticisms of the Conservatives’ controversial Bill C-51 by suggesting “civil liberties” and “freedom” are not the most pressing issues facing the country in light of “criminal activities.”

“I know there’s a whole group of people including a couple of the speakers here tonight who talk about civil liberties and about the freedom of having the right to pretty much choose to do what you like,” Liepert told voters.

“Folks, that’s not the country we live in.”

Liepert, a former Progressive Conservative Finance Minister in Alberta, added that C-51 is needed because criminals “had too damn many rights”:

“We live in a country where for too long those who were involved in criminal activities had too damn many rights and so what we’ve done with this particular bill is ensure that the police and authorities have the ability to pursue and prosecute where necessary and I’m fully in favour of Bill C-51.”

C-51 has previously been pitched as an anti-terrorist measure, not a measure to deal with “criminal activities” in general.

Statistics Canada’s latest data shows crime in Canada has been dropping for 20 years – so it’s not entirely clear what utility curbing civil liberties would serve given law and order appears to be improving even without draconian measures:

C-51 has been criticized as unconstitutional by a long list of legal experts, civil liberty groups, libertarians, gun owners, business leaders, a Conservative MP and even four former Progressive Conservative and Liberal Prime Ministers.

Last year, Liepert told CBC Radio that supporters of solar and wind energy are “extremists” who live in a “dream world.”

Source: Press Progress

Human Rights Activist To Be Crucified & Beheaded By US Ally

Source: The Free Thought Project

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – A young Saudi Arabian man arrested as a teenager, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, will be decapitated and then crucified, after his death penalty appeal was denied.

Ali was arrested for taking part in an anti-government protest in 2012, when he was only 17 years old. He was allegedly tortured and forced to sign a confession, and was sentenced to death in May 2014, according to anti-death penalty charity Reprieve.

The authoritarian Saudi regime in the midst of a bloody crackdown, in the wake of the Arab Spring, came down upon Ali with swift brutality. Ali objected to the use of his forced confession being used to sentence him at trial, but no investigation was ever undertaken into the matter.

According to a report by the International Business Times:

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr’s name is well-known eastern Saudi Arabia, the hotbed of the country’s Shia minority and the scene of a burgeoning protest movement.

Ali, 21, is the nephew of Shia cleric and activist Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, who was jailed and sentenced to death for his fiery speeches against Saudi Arabia’s ruling House of Saud dynasty, which has controlled the Arabian Peninsula since the 1930s. Sheikh al-Nimr was detained and then sentenced to death on terrorism charges as well as “waging war on God” for his speech during anti-government protests in Qatif, a city that saw massive street protests followed by a bloody crackdown by the Saudi authorities in the wake of the Arab Spring.

Ali’s charges ranged from explaining how to give first aid and encouraging protests with his BlackBerry, to targeting security patrols and being part of a terrorist organization, charges which he vehemently denies.

A sham “trial” was held, with Ali being given no attorney, to provide legitimate cover for the state persecution of political dissent. His case is meant to serve as a warning to anyone willing to speak out against the brutal and authoritarian House of Saud.

Saudi Arabia is ruled by a Sunni monarchy under a strict interpretation of Islam, Wahabbism, while those that live in al-Ahsa and al-Qatif districts in the country’s eastern province, which also contains the bulk of the kingdom’s oil, are predominantly Shia. The persecution of Shia in Saudi Arabia is rampant, as they are often portrayed as heretics or agents of Iran, the other major regional power.

The beheading and crucifixion of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr speaks to the implicit nature of the House of Saud. This brutal regime has beheaded more people than ISIS in the past 12 months, and yet this is the choice for a strategic geopolitical ally for the U.S. government. Perhaps Americans should be wary of any U.S. politician that supports such a tyrannical regime.

The Worst: Canada’s Economy Under the Harper Regime

From Rabble

Speculation is intense that the unofficial election campaign we have already been experiencing for several months is about to become official: Ottawa is awash in rumours the writ may be dropped as early as this weekend, setting the stage for months of promises, accusations and photo-ops.

As always the economy will be the top issue. But with recent bad news, Conservative hopes of cashing in on their reputation as “the best economic managers” have suddenly become faint. Four straight months of falling real GDP, terrible export and investment numbers, and growing consumer pessimism, make their traditional chest thumping seem starkly at odds with the painful reality confronted by most Canadians. On September 1 we will learn if Canada is actually in an official recession (defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth). Even if we’re not, our performance has been perpetually disappointing.

However, this gap between triumphalist rhetoric and grim reality did not suddenly appear. In fact, the evidence has been piling up for years — long before the current slowdown — that Canada’s economic performance under the Harper Conservatives has been uniquely poor.

To further investigate this dissonance, I have worked with my Unifor colleague Jordan Brennan to compile an exhaustive empirical comparison of Canada’s economic record under the Harper government, and compared that record to previous post-war prime ministers. The full 64-page study was released today, and is available here.

Here’s what we did: The performance of the economy under each prime minister was described on the basis of 16 conventional and commonly used indicators of economic progress and well-being. These 16 indicators fall into three broad categories, summarized as follows:

  • Work: Job creation, employment rate, unemployment rate, labour force participation, youth employment, and job quality.
  • Production: Real GDP growth (absolute and per capita), business investment, exports and productivity growth.
  • Distribution and Debt: Real personal incomes, inequality, federal public services, personal debt, and government debt.

These are not “touchy-feely” social concerns. These are the bread-and-butter indicators of real economic progress. All indicators are measured using annual data from 1946 through 2014, obtained from Statistics Canada and other public sources. Together these 16 indicators provide a composite portrait of overall economic performance and stability under each post-war government.

We considered the record of every prime minister who served at least a full year in office. (We didn’t think that John Turner had much chance, in 77 days, to really affect the country’s economic direction!) We compared changes, annual average rates of growth, or average levels for each variable, from the year each PM came into office, until the year they left.

If you have been swallowing the rhetoric about Conservatives naturally being the “best economic managers,” then these results are going to shock you.

For seven of the 16 indicators, the Harper government ranks last (or tied for last) among the nine post-war prime ministers. In six more cases, it ranks (or is tied) second-last. Among the remaining three indicators, the Harper government never ranks higher than sixth out of nine.

Considering the overall average ranking of each prime minister (across all 16 indicators), the Harper government receives an average ranking of 8.05 out of a worst-possible 9.0. That is dead last among the nine post-war governments, and by a wide margin — falling well behind the second-worst government, which was the Mulroney Conservative regime of 1984-93.

The very poor economic record of the Harper government cannot be blamed on the fact that Canada experienced a recession in 2008-09. In fact, Canada experienced a total of 10 recessions during the 1946-2014 period. Most governments had to grapple with recession at some point during their tenures — and some prime ministers had to deal with more than one. Instead, statistical evidence shows that the recovery from the 2008-09 recession has been the weakest (by far) of any Canadian recovery since the Depression. A uniquely weak recovery, not the fact that Canada experienced a recession at all, helps explains the Harper government’s poor economic rating.

This statistical review confirms that it is far-fetched to suggest that Canada’s economy has been well-managed during the Harper government’s time in office. To the contrary, there is no other time in Canada’s post-war economic history in which Canada’s economy has performed worse than it did under the Harper government.

For Canadians, the legacy of this government has been unemployment, insecurity and debt. It is definitely time for a change.

Bill C-51 in Action: Peaceful Paddle Lands Site C Opponents on Terrorist Watch list

From Common Sense Canadian

The following letter was written by the Paddle for the Peace Planning Committee in response to an article in the Toronto Star which stated that events like the upcoming Paddle for the Peace (July 11th) were on terrorist watch lists.

Dear Editor,

According to the Toronto Star (March 30, 2015), the Federal government has included the Paddle for the Peace on a terrorist watch list.  And here we thought we weren’t getting any attention.  We are in good company, though.  Also on the list is a physicians’ group opposed to child poverty, Mother Theresa, and a senior’s quilting group from Bugtussle, Saskatchewan.  In an effort to save our government security agencies time, not to mention the Canadian taxpayers a great deal of money, we’d like to present a brief resume of some of the key players on the Paddle for the Peace planning committee.  It is a rogues gallery indeed.

Retired primary school teacher Ruth Ann Darnell is the Chair of the Peace Valley Environment Association.  She has been working to save the Peace Valley from Site C since the 1970s.  Back then, Ruth Ann’s subversive activities were hampered by the fact the Internet was decades away from being created.  After a long day of teaching five year olds to read, she just never had the time or energy to trudge down to the Fort St. John library to research DIY incendiary devices.

After teaching her sixteen year old son to drive, local children’s clothing retailer Danielle Yeoman knew she was one of those rare talents every ISIS recruiting officer dreams of discovering.  She desired to really put her nerves of steel to the test.  But her terrorist career was over before it was started when she learned those torso belts packed with explosives add at least six inches to your waistline.  I mean really, there are limits to what a girl will do to support a violent fanatical cause.

(more…)

Harper Government Rejects Calls to make Voting System Fairer

From the Council of Canadians

We have consistently stated over the years that proportional representation is more democratic than our current first-past-the-post electoral system. It ensures a fairer representation of votes cast and prevents a governing party from holding total power after earning only a small percentage of the popular vote.

The Globe and Mail now reports, “Pressure is growing to change Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system, in which candidates can win their ridings – and parties can form government – with fewer than 50 per cent of the votes. Both of Canada’s major opposition parties [the New Democrats and Liberals] say that if they win the Oct. 19 election under the current system, they will change the electoral process before the next ballot. …[But] the Conservative Party said it would fight to keep the current system, stating voters have already laid out their opposition to different forms of proportional representation, including in referendums in Ontario and British Columbia.”

In the May 2011 federal election under the first-past-the-post electoral system, the Conservatives won 39.62 per cent of the vote, 54.22 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons, and 100 per cent of the power. If proportional representation had been in place at that time, the Conservatives would have won 122 seats, 45 fewer seats than what they did secure and below what is required to form a majority government.

NDP MP Peter Julian says, “[October 19] would be the last unfair election. We’d be looking at consulting with Canadians. How we consult with Canadians, how we consult the provinces, how we put that into place is something that will be part of the discussions once we get the mandate.” And Liberal leader Justin Trudeau says, “Our current system is not valuing the vote and input of far too many Canadians. …We are fully committed to serious, in-depth consultation with Canadians, drawing on an all-party committee to study the forms of governance and of elections that will serve Canadians’ interest not just in the short term, but in many elections to come.”

(more…)

A Letter to My Member of Parliament

A letter I wrote to my Member of Parliament James Bezan, a real diehard warmonger like John McCain, George Bush, Tony Blair, Stephen Harper, etc., and an asshole on a personal level.

Dear Mr. Bezan, MP for Selkirk-Interlake,

Your government is again trying to force through Parliament an unnecessary, undemocratic, and dangerous omnibus piece of legislation – Bill C-51.

The fact that your government has repeatedly rammed through Parliament omnibus legislation in an effort to silence opposition and hide a reactionary agenda while claiming a majority government with less than 40% of the popular vote is itself a mockery of the democratic rights and civil liberties you claim to want to protect.

What makes Bill C-51 more alarming than previous undemocratic pieces of omnibus legislation forced through Parliament by your government is that it is an open and direct attack on the civil liberties, democratic and labour rights of Canadians from coast to coast.

Bill C-51 defines terrorism as: “interference with the capability of the government of Canada in relation to intelligence, defense, border operations, public safety, administration of justice, diplomatic or consular relations, or the economic or financial stability of Canada; changing or unduly influencing a government in Canada by force or unlawful means; interference with critical infrastructure; interference with global information infrastructure; an activity that causes serious harm to a person or their property…an activity that takes place in Canada and undermines the security of another state.”

With such a vague definition of terrorism it is clear that, like the previous Bush administration in the U.S., it is not terrorism that your government is fighting, rather it is any opposition to your government’s reactionary corporate agenda of austerity budgets, privatization, war, and environmental destruction.

Labour and community activists across Canada that oppose your government’s corporate agenda have already been targeted by the police and security forces. Climate change scientists have been muzzled, environmentalists opposed to the corporate raping of Canada have been declared as a “national security threat” by the RCMP, Aboriginal people have been ruthlessly attacked and spied on for opposing pipelines and fracking, and workers demonstrating their right to strike have been dealt “back-to-work” notices by your government.

All forms of non-violent disobedience, if it can be argued threatens “the economic or financial stability of Canada” or “undermines the security of another state,” could be classified as terrorism. If Aboriginal people block a highway or pipeline construction, does that constitute a threat to the “the economic or financial stability of Canada”? If Canadian workers employed at a national company, like Canada Post, exercise their right to strike, does that constitute a threat to “the economic or financial stability of Canada”? What about Canadians opposed to more free trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Comprehensive Economic Free Trade Agreement with the European Union? Does the non-violent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement in support of Palestinian people, which earlier helped to bring down the racist Apartheid regime in South Africa and that your government signed an agreement with Israel to fight, “undermine the security of another state”? What about Canadians opposed to NATO’s support for fascist elements in the Ukraine? Or those Canadians opposed to a NATO intervention in Iran, which, despite your government’s fear mongering, hasn’t attack a country in hundreds of years? Do these non-violent movements “undermine the security of another state”?

According to Bill C-51 CSIS agents shall not “(a) cause, intentionally or by criminal negligence, death or bodily harm to an individual; (b) willfully attempt in any manner to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice; or (c) violate the sexual integrity of an individual.”

This clause indirectly authorizes CSIS agents to use methods of torture behind close doors so long as these methods don’t “cause…death or bodily harm” or “violate the sexual integrity” of an individual. The Bush administration argued that methods of torture below the level of causing “organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death” were legal, and this clause in Bill C-51 establishes a level of legal torture or “enhanced interrogation.” The bill strictly forbids CSIS agents from the internationally condemned torture methods used at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and Guantanamo Bay, but if it can be argued that the method doesn’t “cause…death or bodily harm” nor “violate the sexual integrity” of an individual, there are no other restrictions on what CSIS agents can do. Torture methods of water-boarding (no bodily harm or physical marks), sleep and sensory deprivation, stress-inducing positions, pressure-point torture and beating techniques will be legal for CSIS agents.

In the aftermath of 9/11 anti-terrorism legislation was passed in Parliament, and to date there has been no explanation as to why that legislation is insufficient in countering the almost non-existent threat of terrorism your government is using to scare Canadians into supporting this bill. I’m inclined to ask if you and your government are suffering from amnesia; however, that can’t be the case because your government is trying its best to make it appear like it is 1929 again.

It saddens me to see a megalomaniac occupying the highest office in Canada, and knowing how much your lips spend kissing Harper’s ass, I am under no illusion that writing this letter will change anything. Nevertheless, as a resident of the Selkirk-Interlake district, I implore you to at least temporarily cease kissing Harper’s ass and defend the rights of Canadians.

Anti-Terrorism Legislation Threatens to Undermine the Freedom the Government claims it would Protect

From the Canadian Labour Congress

The Canadian Labour Congress says that Bill C-51, proposed anti terrorism legislation, threatens to undermine the very freedoms the government claims it wants to protect.

“Canadians agree that terrorism is a threat and the government has a responsibility to safeguard public safety, but it has not justified why it cannot do that using the existing criminal code,” said CLC president Hassan Yussuff.

“This bill appears to be more about political posturing ahead of a political election than it is about better protecting public safety and our democracy,” he added.

What’s worse, he says, is it is being rushed through without adequate debate and consultation.

“We are alarmed that the government has blocked Canada’s Privacy Commissioner and former Prime Ministers from testifying before the parliamentary committee hearing evidence on the bill,” said Yussuff.

The CLC represents 3.3 million workers and an increasingly diverse membership that includes workers from Muslim and other communities who are being targeted by this bill and the rhetoric being used to promote it.

“We remember too well how after the attacks of 9/11, CSIS and the RCMP harassed many Muslims and workers from other racialized communities in their workplaces, resulting in job losses and harassment by employers and co-workers,” said Yussuff.

“We are opposing this bill on behalf of those communities and because if passed into law it will compromise the rights of all our members and all Canadians,” he added.

What’s wrong with Bill C-51

  • It goes well beyond working to stop genuine security threats, giving CSIS and the RCMP far-reaching new powers, lowering the threshold for preventative arrest and expanding the notion of what constitutes a threat to national security.
  • It leaves peaceful work stoppages, wildcat strikes, and other forms of nonviolent civil disobedience that may be deemed unlawful, susceptible to far-reaching interference and disruption by the RCMP and CSIS. Think of the peaceful yet “unlawful” activism that won women the right to vote in Canada, ended racial segregation in the US and defeated Apartheid in South Africa.
  • It exacerbates an already serious lack of oversight and review of CSIS, the RCMP and other agencies tasked with national security work.
  • This bill introduces a new criminal offense for ‘advocating’ or ‘promoting’ the commission of a terrorism act – terms that could be interpreted very subjectively. This could impact freedom of speech, freedom of opinion, freedom of the press and academic freedom.
  • It allows CSIS to contravene the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and other Canadian laws.

The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group lists links to submissions and presentations made in opposition to the bill by many of our allies, including the Assembly of First Nations, Amnesty International, Greenpeace and the Canadian Council for Refugees.

CLC president Hassan Yussuff is scheduled to appear before the House of Commons Public Safety Committee on March 25.

Defend Our Freedom: March 14th Day of Action Against Bill C-51

Photos from the rally against Bill C-51 at city hall in Winnipeg, MB.

Represented at the rally were the Communist Party of Canada, the Young Communist League of Canada, the Green Party of Canada, the Pirate Party of Canada, the New Democratic Party of Canada, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Unifor, Boreal Forest Network, Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition, Amnesty International, the Manitoba Islamic Association, the Council of Canadians, the Canadian Peace Alliance, and various Aboriginal organizations.

IMG_0301 IMG_0309 IMG_0312 IMG_0298 IMG_0299

Impending Threat to Canadian Democracy: Harper Government’s “Anti-Terrorism Act” isn’t about Terrorism, it’s a Torture Act

From Global Research

The Harper government’s Bill C-51, or Anti-Terrorism Act, has been in the public domain for over a month. Long enough for us to know that it subverts basic principles of constitutional law, assaults rights of free speech and free assembly, and is viciously anti-democratic.

An unprecedented torrent of criticism has been directed against this bill as the government rushes it through Parliament. This has included stern or at least sceptical editorials in all the major newspapers; an open letter, signed by four former Prime Ministers and five former Supreme Court judges, denouncing the bill for exposing Canadians to major violations of their rights; and another letter, signed by a hundred Canadian law professors, explaining the dangers it poses to justice and legality.

As its critics have shown, the bill isn’t really about terrorism: it’s about smearing other activities by association—and then suppressing them in ways that would formerly have been flagrantly illegal. The bill targets, among others, people who defend the treaty rights of First Nations, people who oppose tar sands, fracking, and bitumen-carrying pipelines as threats to health and the environment, and people who urge that international law be peacefully applied to ending Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories. (Members of this latter group include significant numbers of Canadian Jews.)

But the Anti-Terrorism Act is more mortally dangerous to Canadian democracy than even these indications would suggest. A central section of the act empowers CSIS agents to obtain judicial warrants—on mere suspicion, with no requirement for supporting evidence—that will allow them to supplement other disruptive actions against purported enemies of Harperland with acts that directly violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and other Canadian laws.

(more…)