To those of us who are .. let’s say, pushing sixty or older. It’s a bitch. Every day, another wheel falls off, we need another new ‘script, and our everything hurts. So why are we still here, eh?
It’s because we are needed. We have education, information, insight, perspective. We’ve seen history. We have assimilated what’s gone before, and we aren’t easily fooled.
We have the opportunity to change the direction that our current government has pursued. Canadians are a proud people, and we should be; the list of accomplishments in our history is lengthy and laudable. And yet we’ve remained modest and true to our values.
But, as Ralph Nader, a man who has seen Canada from both the inside and the outside, recently noted,
“When you’re modest, as a culture, you begin taking it for granted, and when the counter-attack comes, when the corporatists come in, and the militarists come in, you’re not ready. And I think that’s what’s happened to Canada in the last decade or so.”
Canada needs us now, not to be cynical or to brush aside the value and power of our voice or vote. It’s OUR time to rally the troops, to cast a jaundiced eye on the last decade, and to say, “Enough’s enough. This is not the Canada I love. This is not the Canada I want to leave to my heirs.”
I’ve felt for some time that this is the most important election of my lifetime. Canada is at a crossroads. It could go either way. We’ve jumped into a war with the Middle East that’s done little but bring us to the attention of extremists, putting our country in jeopardy for the sake of an egotist’s photo ops.
Our beautiful land has been raped and pillaged, sold to the highest bidder, and left ravaged. Our First Nations people, from whom we essentially rent the land, have been threatened and silenced as they have striven to honour the Earth, and keep the land and water safe for all of us.
The Trans Pacific Partnership, which the Harper Government has been so eager to sign, “effectively subverts and substitutes commerce over democracy, in all the signatory countries. It’s not about tariffs or quotas; It is a trans national autocratic system of government, a subordination of environment, labour and consumer rights to the supremacy of commercial trade. And they call consumer protection, and environmental protection, non-tariff trade barriers, that can be reversed by secret tribunals – not Canadian courts, not U.S. courts, special secret tribunals, whose judges are really corporate lawyers. “
It’s time – right now – to call a halt to corporate interests taking precedent over the rights of citizens and tax payers. We’ve enjoyed the best this country could give us. It’s time to show our politicians what made the Baby Boomers a force to reckon with. It’s time to take back our country.
We weren’t afraid when we stuck those flowers in the muzzles of soldier’s guns. We weren’t afraid when we grew our hair long, smoked pot, went to booze cans, and stood up to the cops. We can’t be afraid now, either.
We need to inspire our kids and our grandkids, and show them that fear, prejudice, racism, xenophobia, austerity, and inaction are NOT what we stand for. We stand for a Canada –
strong and free, and unafraid.
We, who were privileged to shared in all the benefits past prime ministers have secured for us; the social safety nets for the vulnerable, the freedom to unionize without corporate interference , a respect for the land and each other, a health system once the envy of the world, now threatened by proposed cuts … we took all of that for granted. We can’t do that anymore. We need to stand up for our country and the values that made Canada the peacekeepers, the forward thinkers, and the envy of the world.
Let’s show the kids that their world doesn’t have to look like the Hunger Games, Canadian pitted against Canadian .. it can look like a Canada that values every citizen, and that looks to the future, without shrinking from what’s to come.
Why would politicians continue to argue whether or not a profit motive is bringing us to the brink of extinction? Why would countries continue to invest in corporations hell-bent on raping the planet’s natural resources, with no apparent plan for the future?
Because those who deny reality are actually the most frightened of us of all. There is certainly no way that the President of the United States or the Prime Minister of Canada is unaware of what is known to be fact. And yet, Prime Minister Harper went so far as to fire or muzzle Canadian scientists, so that Canadians would not be privy to environmental information necessary when deciding the economic arc of the coming years.
They didn’t need to manipulate unwelcome news. They just decided not to show it.
In February of this year, Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the Senate’s most vocal critic of the scientific consensus on climate change, and author of The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, tossed a snowball on the Senate floor as part of his case for why global warming is a hoax.
Fun Fact: Jim Inhofe is the chair of the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
Governor Rick Scott of Florida, one of the states most likely to be ravaged by climate change in the very near future, has officially banned the Florida Department of Environmental Protection from using the phrases “climate change,” “global warming,” and “sustainability,” since 2011.
This is the political equivalent of an ostrich burying it’s head in the sand in order not to see an enemy coming.
Obama spoke to Floridians on Earth Day 2015, saying, ““We do not have time to deny the effects of climate change. Nowhere is it going to have a bigger impact than here in South Florida. Here in the Everglades you can see the effect of a changing planet.This harms freshwater wildlife. The salt water flows into aquifers that flow into the drinking water of 7 million South Floridians.”
“If we don’t act, there may not be an Everglades as we know it,” he added.
In California, Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought State of Emergency in January 2015 and imposed “strict conservation measures” state-wide. Californians have been suffering drought for four years, yet the actions being taken at citizen level amount to little more than “don’t water your lawn,” and “shower with a friend.” Corporations continue to literally suck the state dry for profit.
Five years after the explosion of the Deep Water Horizon, tar balls still wash to shore. In Oklahoma, the state acknowledged in March 2015 that the earthquakes rocking the state are linked to fracking.
British Columbia is already feeling severe effects from climate change. B.C.’s 17,000 glaciers are all melting, which means no late summer water supply, diminished hydro power production, and serious impacts on fisheries and spawning salmon.
Unprecedented damage has been done by wildfires, that started burning early in the year, and could continue burning longer than usual. Greenhouse gas emissions that are released during forest fires are another major concern. “We have the initial CO2 emissions during the fire, but then on that blackened landscape we have continued emissions over time.”
Climate models have indicated that B.C. will have more precipitation this winter, but that more of it will fall as rain rather than snow. That will increase the importance on how fresh water is stored and managed.
In the Prairies, drought is an ongoing issue, which has forced farmers to re-evaluate their cattle. If they sell or slaughter cows which they can’t afford to feed, the impact will have a long term effect on the availability of beef. It’s a one-two punch, with both grain and meat stores becoming sorely depleted.
Non-agricultural regions may welcome the thought of warmer winters, but the reality is that climate change will eventually have an impact on all us, whether through rising food prices, or through the health of children, as increased disease, freshwater shortages, and suffocating smog become commonplace.
In 2011, Environment Minister Peter Kent pulled Canada out of the Kyoto Protocol, saying the “incompetent Liberal government” who signed the accord took little action to make the necessary greenhouse gas emission cuts. That, coupled with a failing economy, meant the move was necessary to save the government an estimated $14 billion in penalties.
“The Kyoto Protocol, which expires next year, committed major industrial economies to reducing their annual CO2 emissions to below 1990 levels, while providing financial supports to developing nations to encourage them to follow suit eventually. Canada signed the accord in 1998 and ratified it in 2002 but was not on track to meet its legally binding targets.
The Conservatives have committed to 17 per cent cuts from 2005 levels by 2020, a much lower threshold to meet than cutting below 1990 emissions levels.” (CBC News, December 2011.)
During Toronto’s Pan Am Games, more than 300 delegates from 20 countries gathered at the Fairmont Royal York to urge those in power globally to make solid commitments for carbon reductions. In December, the UN Climate Summit will meet in Paris to present the latest facts and figures on this global issue.
Environment Canada recently announced that the country’s overall greenhouse gas output climbed 1.5 per cent between 2012 and 2013, continuing a slow, but steady, upward trend since the global recession of 2009.
So again, I ask, why are we not acting? Why must anyone interested in the latest facts on climate change dig deep into the internet, and sift through still dissenting voices shouting disinformation to that small group who refuse to accept human culpability? Why are we being coddled by politicians and a fence straddling media while evidence mounts that our children and grandchildren will pay a horrific price for our lack of planetary conservation?
Quite simply – understanding the extent of the damage, and the near impossibility of turning this sinking boat around, is too terrifying to imagine. 30 plus years of denial, of allowing lobbyists to turn mild disbelief or skepticism into a tug of war over scientific facts, of politicians lying to themselves, and then to us, in order to stay in power, has decimated the time and research that might have slowed, if not halted, our current reality.
A population aware of how dramatically climate change will impact on their daily lives would never elect any politician who’s denied the crisis.
So we’ve been sold a different future, a future where someone else will pay the price for our good times. Using the fear of the masses who have no viable ideas of their own of a future where oil is obsolete, politicians have doubled down on denial, stupidity and short term profit.
The attention has instead been focused on issues that appeal to present day thinking. Let’s talk about terrorism, or illegal immigration, or reproduction or gay rights. Let’s let the tension increase on inequality, and sex education and prison reform. A people divided on pressing, but ultimately minor, issues won’t have the resources or unity to rise up against a far more dangerous enemy – their own planet.
Lacking the imagination to picture a time when water will become the new gold standard, they see no other way to prosper through their election cycles than to protect the financial interests of those who profit from corporations allowed to take what they want of dwindling resources, without any compulsion to use environmental responsibility.
When political powers opted to create faux ‘scientific’ studies that didn’t accept science, they also failed to create an environment in which necessary change could flourish. The richest countries opted to continue doing what they knew how to do – capitalize on dwindling natural resources – rather than what they needed to do – encourage energy alternatives. In Canada, there has been no new funding for clean tech innovation since 2011.
The concept of human impact on the environment is not new. Rachel Carson released her book Silent Spring in 1962. The book introduced the idea of how our abuse of the planet was taking a toll on human life. Chemical companies ridiculed her words, but Americans were alarmed enough to rally for and get, a reversal in national pesticide policy, and a nationwide ban on DDT in 1972.
David Suzuki, an environmental activist since the mid-1970s, has been well known for criticizing government inaction on protecting the environment. The people valued his input, but didn’t pressure governments to act as vigorously as his words indicated. “In 2004, David Suzuki ranked fifth on the list of final nominees in a CBC Television series that asked viewers to select The Greatest Canadian of all Time. Suzuki was the top finalist still alive.”
So – we’ve known for decades that our actions impact upon our environment, and that our environment then impacts on our health. We’ve simply chosen to push that knowledge to the back of our minds, aided by politicians eager to appease corporations who have profited handsomely by deregulations and tax incentives further encouraging a rapacious appetite for natural resources and a reckless disregard for the health of the population.
The world’s developed countries agreed in 2010 to mobilize US$100 billion a year by 2020 to help poorer nations adapt to the impacts of climate change and reduce their emissions. Those commitments have fallen short by about US$70 billion, according to the World Bank. Brazil, China, India and South Africa are still waiting, in 2015, for those funds to arrive.
Ironically, while politicians are choosing to ignore or decry climate change, corporations are seizing upon the opportunity to profit from the reality. So while most humans and non-human species face the prospect of mass extinction, corporate interests ramp up activities that will further heighten the effects of climate change.
Exxon has partnered with Russia to look for more places to drill for oil in the Arctic seas.
Mining companies are taking advantage of record ice melt in places like Greenland, to dig for rich mineral resources like zinc, iron ore, uranium, copper, and gold. Biotech companies have invested millions in research for new vaccines to combat the diseases brought by heat-loving mosquitoes. Flood disaster planning is currently almost a billion-dollar industry and is expected to double by 2020. Monsanto continues to develop drought resistant GMO crop seeds despite growing protests from countries that have outlawed the use of GMOs.
The richest countries have created the problem, but it’s the poor nations who are having to deal with the realities.
The wealthy, who understand very well what’s at stake, are fortifying their estates, using green technology, and assuming their money will protect them indefinitely. But no matter how well protected anyone thinks they are, anywhere on the planet, you can’t fight a compounding rush to irreversible environmental disaster that has already seen 52% of non-human species become extinct in just the last 40 years. No matter how high on the hill you’ve built your fortress, you’re still dependent on the ‘little people’ growing your food, and on having uncontaminated water to drink.
The voices of those who understand climate change and it’s effect on humanity are becoming tinged with fright and despair. We are all a part of an environmental cycle; the food chain spares no one. As the glaciers and ice caps melt in the north, the shores of the south are rising.
In the oceans, “Warming temperatures are sucking oxygen out of waters even far out at sea, making enormous stretches of deep ocean hostile to marine life… These are not coastal dead zones, like the one that sprawls across the Gulf of Mexico, but great swaths of deep water that can reach thousands of miles offshore. Already naturally low in oxygen, these regions keep growing, spreading horizontally and vertically. Included are vast portions of the eastern Pacific, almost all of the Bay of Bengal, and an area of the Atlantic off West Africa as broad as the United States.
Globally, these low-oxygen areas have expanded by more than 1.7 million square miles (4.5 million square kilometers) in the past 50 years.
This phenomenon could transform the seas as much as global warming or ocean acidification will, rearranging where and what creatures eat and altering which species live or die. It already is starting to scramble ocean food chains and threatens to compound almost every other problem in the sea.” (National Geographic, March 2015.)
Drought, ongoing globalization and heightened political instability are having an increasing pressure on the global food system. Each new disaster – drought, hurricane, flood, typhoon – puts more strain on food production. When food and water become scarce, the people will riot. The very instability feared by climate deniers will occur, as panic sets in, followed by mass migration, death, territorial war, and the end of civilization as we know it.
Still unsure? Still easily swayed by those who will argue that “climate change is not so bad?”? Here’s a helpful link to how to understand and respond to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming.
It used to be so easy to mock the North American political process. Comedians had a field day, lampooning gaffes or silly political correctness amongst candidates and politicians seeking or in office. Most pols can be counted on to screw up at some point. The joker outing the naked Emperor poked fun without fear of reprisal.
That all changed for Canada, yesterday. Bill C-51 – the so called “Anti Terrorist Act,” was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate, despite vocal opposition from everyone from Margaret Atwood to Ralph Nader .
Over nearly a decade, Canadians have seen Canada’s world image plunge from a once lofty high the envy of the free world, to a race to the bottom. Since 2006, the Harper government has governed with an iron-fist, hidden public information and political subterfuge in cumbersome omnibus bills or simple denials, and has become the most secretive administration in Canadian history.
How do you find anything funny about an increasingly militaristic and confrontational police presence that ‘serves and protects’ only those steely, unsmiling, hand-picked minions to the Prime Minister?
Where’s the laughs when our scientists have been muzzled, and precious and irreplaceable environmental books and documents have been trashed? Where’s the irony in watching the Boreal Forest, which represents more than half of Canada’s landmass, and which plays a critical role in mitigating global climate change, be threatened by logging, hydrodams, mining and the tar sands? (Industrial development and forest fires in Canada’s tar sands region has cleared or degraded 775,500 hectares (almost two million acres) of boreal forest since the year 2000.)
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt remained seated, silent, and cross armed while others broke out in a standing ovation at the conclusion of the six year study of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to address the “cultural genocide” of Aboriginal peoples through Canada’s residential school system. The commission pushed for a national inquiry and adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, and requested 94 wide-ranging recommendations.
“Federal Conservatives have suggested they will reject calls from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) for both a public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and Canada’s implementation of a landmark United Nations document on First Nations’ rights.” (Huffington Post)
It’s very hard to find something even vaguely funny about such overt contempt.
As people become more concerned about the very food they eat, the Conservative Party continues to support genetically modified foods and Monsanto, fighting tooth and nail against every citizen action requesting even so much as the labelling of foods. (Canada and the United States are the only two nations in the Free World that do not require GMO labelling.)
And then there’s Bill C-51 itself, an act so heinous that everyone from former prime ministers, to constitutional lawyers – and hundreds of thousands of Canadians – have begged, cajoled and screamed for it’s demise.
The Bill allows the police to ignore Canadians’ rights, and rides roughshod over civil liberties. It eviscerates the Charter of Canadian Rights and Freedoms, and inherently stomps on Canadians’ constitutional rights.
It defines ‘terrorism’ as “activity that undermines the security of Canada.” Those activities include advocacy, legal protests, threats to “public safety” and the “economic or financial stability of Canada.” It also creates a new speech-related criminal offence of “promoting” or “advocating” terrorism.
And it allows information sharing across very broad areas, from the Department of Immigration, to the financial sector, from the Department of Transport to your own doctor and Public Health, besides the usual suspects (the police, RCMP, CSIS, or Border Control.) Bill C-51 effectively neuters the core protections found in the Privacy Act, and also permits additional use and disclosure of information “in accordance with the law…to any person, for any purpose.”
Let me put this even plainer. If, for some reason, a conversation you have – in person, by email, or on social media – triggers the interest of ANY government official … or even a spurned lover or a miffed colleague with a grudge … you could be arrested and detained for up to seven days without charges on mere suspicion of future criminal activity.
“Bill C-51’s gives powers of “preventive detention,” which means jail time for individuals even when there isn’t any suspicion criminal activity has taken place.”
So, I’m finding it a little hard to laugh, or even smile. In what dystopia would these dictatorial and fascistic measures call for a chuckle?
Oh, sure, we’ve got Rick Mercer’s weekly jabs and rants, but honestly – how do you poke fun at a Canadian government blindly led by an evangelistic dictator set on destroying the country he rules with an iron fist?
Our only hope for a re-discovery of our political comedy mojo under such an oppressive regime is a resounding “NO!” to Stephen Harper and the Conservative Government in the coming election.
There are few moments in time so pivotal to a nation’s ongoing health and democracy. Such a moment is facing you, as you decide how you will cast your vote on Bill C-51. The question is: will Canadians continue to live in freedom and peace, or bow to a largely non-existent threat that calls for national paranoia, fear and the silence of her citizens?
Those of you who will make this decision, those of you who hold Canada’s future in your hands, have an enormous weight on your shoulders. Do you abide by partisan lines, obeying your country’s Prime Minister and his directives, no matter how potentially dangerous they may be? Or do you rise to this occasion and tell the truth – that Bill C-51 is a travesty, a declaration of war not on terrorism, but rather an assault on Canada that fundamentally contravenes rights and freedoms that are guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? (image, Stephen Lautens)
Bill C-51 would label those few who still care enough about their country to demand change and accountability from what is increasingly seen to be a battle for corporate wealth over Canada’s health, as terrorists. It would do the same to Natives who demonstrate peacefully against their own ceded lands being ruined or stolen from them in the name of economic growth. It would stop people from speaking out against justice being perverted by the wealthy and the corrupt. It would allow democracy to be eaten away by the demands for unlimited corporate expansion at the expense of the lower and middle class.
“This bill disproportionately targets indigenous communities, environmental activists, dissidents, and Muslims, many of whom are already subjected to questionable and overreaching powers by security officials. This bill will make it easier and ostensibly lawful for government to continue infringing upon the rights of peaceful people.” (http://stopc51.ca/about-c51)
It would change our very souls as we became afraid to speak out against any wrongdoing or injustice. It would end our precious Freedom of Speech. Perhaps you remember when world leaders gathered In France in support of the Charlie Hebdo journalists rights to free speech? How quickly we revert from courage to cowardice when the cameras are turned off.
We are a nation of peace keepers – or at least, we used to be. Bill C-51 throws down the gauntlet, daring terrorists to do their worse, in spite of the fact that the only terrorist attacks in this country were not ideologically based, but the ravings of shattered, mentally ill men who should have received treatment for their illnesses, but instead, were preyed upon by the very police this bill is asking us to trust.
So I beg you, those of you who stand poised to yea or nay the most important bill of this century, to think long and hard about where you really stand. Are you truly the “sober second thought” that Canadians have been led to believe? Or are you entangled in a game of partisan one-upmanship, a veritable race to the bottom, and dragging 35 million Canadians down that rabbit hole with you?
We are watching you. The whole world is watching you. A vote to approve this bill, despite all of the input you’ve received on this subject from everyone from former Prime Ministers of Canada, to international economists, political experts, and Canadian citizens, will send a clear message to Canadians and the world that Canadian democracy is on life support, with a callous “Do Not Resuscitate” sign hanging over the death bed.
Less than 33% of Canadians are in favor of the bill
virtually all of Canada’s national newspaper editorials have spoken out against it along with, the Green Party, the NDP, 4 former prime ministers, civil liberties advocates, Canada’s privacy commissioners, former supreme court justices, Former attorney generals, 60 Canadian Business Leaders Sign Letter Against Bill C-51, The Canadian bar association representing over 36,000 lawyers, the people behind Mozilla’s Firefox Internet browser, 100 Quebec organizations, Seven leading Canadian Human rights groups, The Union representing over 51,000 Canada Post workers, The Electronic Frontier Foundation, and over 100 organizations, hundreds of constitutional lawyers, Native Chiefs across the nations, former CSIS agents, NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden, Conrad Black, Rex Murphy, Ralph Nader
Tell Your Senator to Stop Bill C-51
The government’s controversial “secret police” Bill C-51 has made its way to the Senate. We have to stop it now. Find out below if your Senator wants to #RejectFear and #StopC51.
The Conservative Party would have you believe that anyone opposing the proposed Bill C-51 is a ‘conspiracy theorist.’ Most boomers believe that the Bill will never make it through Canada’s Supreme Court, chock full as it is with civil right offenses, so we should all just calm down.
Staunch Con allies, such as the Ottawa Sun, are playing the label game to, inferring that “Commies oppose anti-terror bill” in response to Canada wide marches by people who massed to protest a threat to their civil rights.
(And just to make one thing perfectly clear – The Communist Party of Canada (CPC) is a legal entity, and has “in the past been elected to the federal Parliament, the Ontario Legislature, the Manitoba Legislature, and various municipal governments. The party has also contributed significantly to trade union organizing and labour history in Canada, peace and anti-war activism, and many other social movements.” (Wikipedia)
Those who speak out against governmental overreach are used to being maligned. In 2012, the government killed its Internet snooping bill, C-30, after an online backlash and when it couldn’t recover from then public safety minister Vic Toews comparing opponents of C-30 as being friends of child pornographers.
The Liberal Party under leader Justin Trudeau has backed the legislation, which may well be the decision that nips his political career in the bud.
From the first moment I got wind of Stephen Harper’s proposed Bill C-51, I have been openly criticizing its very existence. Many other people agree, including some allies of the Harper government, the National Firearms Associate, Tory MP Michael Chong, The Canadian Bar Association, Leader of the Opposition NDP’s Thomas Mulcair, aboriginal groups, and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.
Greenpeace Canada Executive Director Joanna Kerr wrote in an iPolitics post last week. “More than 100 legal experts have written to parliamentarians to say that this legislation is dangerous—that it will make it harder to effectively fight terrorism while introducing unprecedented infringements on our rights and privacy. Their concerns have been echoed by four former prime ministers, five former Supreme Court judges, the federal Privacy Commissioner, Amnesty International, the Assembly of First Nations, and a host of other organizations. Are they all terrorists?”
As the meetings and debates drag on in Parliament (on your tax dollar,) key legal voices blocked from C-51 committee debate include the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Daniel Therrien, the Criminal Lawyers Association, Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault, former CSIS Inspector General Eva Plunkett, chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee Deborah Gray and former SIRC chair Chuck Strahl.
The Mozilla project, the open-source software community behind the Firefox browser, has issued a statement urging the federal government not to go ahead with Bill C-51.
“C-51 is sweeping in scope, including granting Canadian intelligence agencies CSIS and CSE new authority for offensive online attacks, as well as allowing these agencies to obtain significant amounts of information held by the Canadian government. The open-ended internal information-sharing exceptions contained in the bill erode the relationship between individuals and their government by removing the compartmentalization that allows Canadians to provide the government some of their most private information (for census, tax compliance, health services, and a range of other purposes) and trust that that information will be used for only its original purposes. This compartmentalization, currently a requirement of the Privacy Act, will not exist after Bill C-51 comes into force.
“The Bill further empowers CSIS to take unspecified and open-ended ‘measures,’ which may include the overt takedown of websites, attacks on Internet infrastructure, introduction of malware, and more all without any judicial oversight. These kinds of attacks on the integrity and availability of the web make us all less secure.”
The opponents are concerned about a lack of parliamentary oversight of intelligence agencies under the bill, as well as numerous privacy and civil liberties issues. The Canadian Bar Association has argued that it contains “ill-considered” measures that erode Canadians’ civil liberties without making them safer.
The bill’s “vague and overly broad” language means it could be used to harass protesters and put a chill on legitimate dissent, the group said. The broad nature of information-sharing between government agencies would erode trust in government, and the Association described the Canadian bill as “even more concerning” than the controversial CISA bill making its way through the U.S. Congress.
From Canada’s Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien::” “This is really about big data, which relies on massive amounts of information that can be analyzed algorithmically to spot trends, predict behaviours and make connections.”
Canada’s foremost Internet law expert Michael Geist: “”The scope of sharing is exceptionally broad, covering 17 government institutions with government granting itself the right to expand sharing to other departments. In fact, the bill even permits further disclosure “to any person, for any purpose.” In other words, there are few limits on how information the government collects can be shared internally, with other governments, or with any entity it sees fit.”
Steve Anderson, national coordinator for internet freedom advocate OpenMedia, also brought a 100,000-person petition against C-51 and said he felt Canadians were actually well informed on the topic and should be encouraged to enter debates over it rather than be “disrespected.”
Anonymous also got into the action with its members posting a video to Vimeo and creating an anti C-51 website. (http://www.opc51.gq/)
Actually, even writing this blog has likely landed me on the ever growing list of people the Conservatives want to silence.
How bad could Bill C-51 be for Canada? Well, it’s even broader in scope than the United States’ Patriot Act, which was put into place after the events of 9/11, and has remained in place through the last 14 years and two presidents.
The bottom line of course, is that once put into place, it will stay there. It will replace the civil rights of Canadians with tyrannical surveillance.
With that in mind, we can look to what has happened in America during those 14 years. This video of an episode of VICE News discusses the impact of state-wide surveillance.
From Youtube: “Glenn Greenwald is an American journalist and author who’s best known for reporting on the leaks of classified National Security Agency documents by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Before he was a journalist, Greenwald was a constitutional law and civil rights litigator, and until 2012 he was a contributing writer at Salon. He has authored four books: How Would a Patriot Act, Tragic Legacy, Great American Hypocrites, and With Liberty and Justice for Some. For 14 months Greenwald was a columnist at the Guardian, where he broke the first NSA story in June of 2013.”
VICE Meets Glenn Greenwald: Snowden’s Journalist of Choice
Although the entire episode is interesting and through provoking, if you skip forward to the9.50 mark, Mr Greenwald specifically discusses what the Patriot Act has done to American civil rights.
He discusses the first report that he published of Snowden’s information about a top secret order issued by the foreign intelligence surveillance court, which forced Verizon to give the FBI metadata from millions of American’s phone calls. (Metadata is not so much communication, as it is data ABOUT communication – who you are in contact with, how often, your location, and your emails – both to and from. This supplies much more information than just eavesdropping on your actual phone calls.)
As he says, you may feel you have ‘nothing to hide,’ but if asked to give someone all of your social media and email passwords, so that that person might troll through the information, and publish whatever they found, you’d be justifiably upset.
In the U.S. the NSA has access to the central servers of nine major internet companies, including Google, Yahoo, Apple, and Facebook. The NSA wants ALL data to be public.
People who are in favour of Bill C-51, like the citizens of America, want ‘bad’ people to be watched. But most of the spying done by the NSA has nothing to do with crime or terrorism; it has to do with economic espionage and people monitoring. So much so that the government is having to build giant storage facilities to house the collected data. Uncovering any information in this giant pile of data is more akin to finding a needle in a haystack – it’s unnecessary, and it’s contrary to the stated need of anticipating terrorist activity.
What it is doing, however, is causing people to submit to authority in the name of love of country.
In relation to the Patriot Act, those who said it was “a radical piece of legislation, really dangerous, and an abandonment of all values,” didn’t anticipate that this gathering of data would affect everyone, not just terrorists. Even those painting the grimmest picture of what the act could lead to were warning that it had lowered the standard too much, from probable cause to just relevance, so that it would enable to government to target people too easily.
“But everybody assumed, even the most ardent opponents of the Patriot Act, that it was still going to be targeted investigation. Nobody ever thought the act would be distorted and misinterpreted to authorize and justify bulk, indiscriminate, suspicion less collection of the communication data of every single American Citizen. As it has been.”
“If you are somebody who exercises power, and you can know everything that everybody is doing – what they say, what they read, what they think, what they plan, with whom they’re interacting – and at the same time, build a wall of secrecy around what you’re doing, so that nobody can actually see or know what it is that you are choosing, the power imbalance becomes amazingly acute. Which is why all tyrannies instinctively use surveillance as one of their principle weapons.”
“Because the more you know about the world, and about other people, the more you can manipulate and control it. The less the world knows about you, the less leverage they have over you.
So it’s really, at it’s core, about increasing the power of the U.S. government vis a vis it’s own population and people around the world.“
When asked if America is becoming a tyranny: “I think labels are sometimes unhelpful, just because words like that are so inflammatory, and I think people are inculcated, are sort of trained to believe, that tyranny is something that happens in places like Iran and Russia, and not in nice place like America. So the minute you apply that label, people react instinctively, as though you’ve said something radical on their brain charts.
“What I can say for sure is that there are patterns that are the hallmark of tyranny, one of which is mass, indiscriminate, suspicion less surveillance, that the U.S. government is increasingly relying upon, to maintain control, and to shield itself from legitimate challenge. I mean, whether someone wants to call that tyranny or not, I’ll leave that semantic debate to others. But that power is clearly tyrannical in nature.”
It would be hard to read the above, and not ask ourselves why Canadians should open themselves to this kind of governance. But that is what our Prime Minister is trying to rush through the courts.
Can we not learn from the United States` progressively more paranoid and oppressive surveillance laws? Must Canadians learn these lessons for themselves, and repeat a failed experiment that will destroy the freedoms and civil rights they treasured?
Harper has parlayed one mentally ill drug addict’s suicidal attack on Parliament into a terrorist threat, and now wants to impose the beginnings of a Canadian police state in Bill C-51. He`ll even take Canada into a war against the Islamic States, simply to enhance the fear he`s ramped up over terrorism, despite the fact that doing so could actually make Canada a primary target.
Bill C-51 oversteps all reason. There`s no room to tinker with this flawed and dangerous bill. It has to be stopped immediately. The people have spoken, but Harper and his cabinet of trained seals couldn`t care less. They are intent on shoving this bill into law, against the express wishes of the majority of Canadians. We cannot allow this to happen.
Our dollar depreciated more than 2 cents on Wednesday, and is now worth .81 of the U.S. dollar, the lowest level since 2011. The Harper government put all Canada’s eggs in one basket by banking on North American crude oil, our top export, but the commodity has plunged from a high of $85 US a barrel in October of 2014, to a low of $46.US on Tuesday.
Finance Minister Joe Oliver announced this week that he would be delaying his budget from the usual February-March date until at least April, due to “market instability.”
Unable or unwilling to admit Canada’s damaged economy, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters yesterday that “These things are creating some shocks that will impact us but they’re not going to throw us off our fundamental growth path or undermine the very strong fundamentals of the Canadian economy.” He added that “The government has complete confidence in the Bank of Canada in the actions that it has taken.”
The Bank of Canada cut the rate on overnight loans between commercial banks by a quarter point to 0.75% on Wednesday, in a response to the recent drop in oil prices. The previous rate had been at 1% since September 2010.
“The drop in oil prices is unambiguously negative for the Canadian economy. Canada’s income from oil exports will be reduced, and investment and employment in the energy sector are already being cut,” BoC’s Governor Stephen Poloz explained.
Many, including NDP finance critic Nathan Cullen, think Harper is in denial. The Conservatives had hoped to sail into 2015 on a high of oil fumes and the elimination of the$2.9-billion federal deficit , but it looks like their plans may be tanked as predicted federal tax revenues could be reduced by several billions of dollars thanks to global oil price shake-ups.
No worries, though, as Harper is relying on the annual $3 billion contingency fund built into the budget for “unforeseen circumstances.”
He also said that “The oil industry isn’t remotely the entire Canadian economy.” So … what is the Canadian economy?
Our population of 36 million boasts a 6.6% unemployment rate, with approximately 62% employed (16-64 years of age). (The United States, with 316.1 million, is at 5.6% unemployed, and 59.2% employed, while the United Kingdom, with 64.1 million people, has an unemployment rate of 6.0%, and 73% of people are employed.)
In Canada, wealth inequality, while an issue, is not quite as visible as in America; our Canadian 1% holds 12.5 per cent of Canada’s total income. 29 per cent earn $135,000 or more. But our incomes are generally lower – 95 per cent of working Canadians earn less than $100,000 a year. Our definition of ‘wealthy’ begins at $150,000.00 per year – chump change for wealthy Americans.
One of the reasons Canadians have not felt as impacted by wealth inequality is that, beginning in the late 1970’s, women surged into the workforce in record numbers. A household with two incomes could manage quite well. With the inclusion of children into the family, however, things got shakier financially. If one of the two wage earners has to stay home with the kids, they’ve effectively halved the family income, in order to raise children and run the home. As baby boomers aged, that child care burden lifted for a large portion of the middle class.
Education, and it’s inevitable costs, are a factor. In order to succeed in a technological society, we need workers with complex skills and higher education. 64.1% of adults aged 25 to 64 had post-secondary qualifications in 2011, with women aged 25 to 34 holding a larger share of university degrees. 8 in 10 Registered Apprenticeship certificates were held by men.
In 2011, Almost two-thirds of adult Canadians had post-secondary qualifications, while 2.1 million adults had a post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree in STEM (science and technology, engineering and engineering technology or mathematics and computer sciences) but half of STEM university degrees were held by immigrants who have lived in Canada for many years, and Canadian newcomers.
Unfortunately, Canada has the third-highest proportion of low-paying jobs in the world, with only the U.S. and Ireland having a higher percentage of low-paying jobs. Canada is becoming a ‘nation of part-timers’; part-time employment may still outgrow full-time employment for some years as the baby boomers reduce their working hours or retire.
But the big, well-paying manufacturing companies have left Canada to take advantage of lower labour costs abroad. What’s left for those with or without special skills are low-wage service and retail jobs, which generally lack the benefits associated with higher paying positions, and are becomingly increasingly insecure.
StatsCan released this information in January 2015:
“In December (2014), Canada lost 4,300 jobs as full-time employment rose by 53,500 while there was a decline of 57,700 in part time jobs… Employment gains in 2014 amounted to 186,000 (+1.0 percent), with increases in the second half of the year accounting for most of the growth. Compared with 12 months earlier, the total number of hours worked increased by 0.7 percent.”
“There were 24,000 fewer women aged 25 to 54 employed in December. Their unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.2%, as fewer of them participated in the labour market. Employment among men aged 25 to 54 increased by 23,000 in December and their unemployment rate declined 0.2 percentage points to 5.5%, their lowest rate since 2008.”
This month, however, it was announced that five large retail companies will be closing Canadian operations. Lured to Canada by massive tax breaks, cuts and incentives, they’ll be leaving more than 21,000 unemployed by March or April.
In Alberta’s tar sands, Suncor cut 1000 jobs last week as oil prices crashed. They also announced that they’d decrease their capital spending program by a $1-billion, and reduce operating expense s by another $200 million.
Canada’s largest growth sector in jobs has been in service and retail industries. Only Alberta has seen respectable job growth. Mr. Harper’s blithe suggestion that the current oil crisis will fail to impact the economy as a whole, sounds very much like a man whistling past the graveyard.
Update Jan 24/15: Last week on Global TVsThe West Block, Jason Kenny (MP, Canada’s Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism) told host Tom Clark, “We won’t be using a contingency fund. A contingency fund is there for unforeseen circumstances like natural disasters.”
But during an interview for this week’s episode of The West Block, Canada’s Finance Minister, Joe Oliver told Tom Clark, “The contingency fund is there for unexpected and unavoidable shocks to the system and, you know, the oil price decline – which was a dramatic one – would fall in that category. I’m speaking as minister of finance so I’m sort of current on the thinking here.”
With the onset of computers and advanced technology, the lines separating the haves and the have-nots have grown so far apart that 1%of the wealthy elite essentially controls the fate of 99% of the rest of the planet. The development of robotic manufacturing techniques has reduced the number of people necessary to run factories and plants. Access to cheaper labour in third world countries increases a corporation’s bottom line, at the expense of jobs in the corporations location. The rich get richer. But at the expense of the middle and lower classes.
Capitalism is a funny thing; at its best, capitalism should promote economic growth, as measured by a standard of living enjoyed across the whole of its extended reach. Proponents would argue that this give and take would bring about a better availability of food, housing, clothing, and health care, better education for children, and the ability to provide for the elderly and less fortunate. Capitalism assumes a level playing field, where more opportunities exist for individuals to create their own businesses or new professions.
But in practice, “capitalist economies prioritize profits and capital accumulation over the social needs of communities, and capitalist enterprises rarely include the workers in the basic decisions of the enterprise.” (Tom Brass, author and academic, University of Cambridge.)
Modern day capitalism has its origins in slavery and indentured servants; “when historians talk about the Atlantic market revolution, they are talking about capitalism. And when they are talking about capitalism, they are talking about slavery.” (Greg Grandin, Historian.)
Politicians have pandered to the wealthy for decades. “Reaganomics,” or “the trickle-down theory,” posited that “tax breaks or other economic benefits for businesses and upper income levels will benefit poorer members of society by improving the economy as a whole. “ (Wikipedia)
It’s a lovely thought, but just a theory, I’m afraid. Corporate and personal greed eclipsed the high-minded ideals, and by 2008, after the spectacular 2007 global collapse of the banking system, economist Alan Greenspan admitted to the United States Congress that, “The whole intellectual edifice collapsed. I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders. … I was shocked.”
In 2013, Pope Francis issued an 84-page paper describing unfettered capitalism as “a new tyranny” and calling upon world leaders to fight rising poverty and inequality: “Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.” (Wikipedia)
So, on the one hand, capitalism has the potential to benefit both the job creators and the workers, while raising the overall standard of living for society. On the other hand, capitalism can create economic and social instability, fiscal inequality, endanger or destroy the natural resources of its own or other countries, and has only to hold its own self accountable for how profits are distributed throughout that society, whether through payrolls, donations, or taxation.
Ah, what to do, what to do? In 2010, in the United States, politicians decided that giving even more power to corporations would benefit their parties.
“Still, for decades, candidate elections remained free of direct corporate influence under federal law. Only money from individuals and groups of individuals — political action committees — were permitted in federal elections.
Then came Citizens United, the Supreme Court’s 5-4 First Amendment decision in 2010 that extended to corporations for the first time full rights to spend money as they wish in candidate elections — federal, state and local. The decision reversed a century of legal understanding, unleashed a flood of campaign cash and created a crescendo of controversy that continues to build today.
In exchange for receiving personhood, corporations sponsor politicians. And the politicians slash tax rates and offer tax credits and benefits in response. It’s a perpetual motion machinery that keeps power and money in the hands of those already in politics or corporate businesses, and gives an unfair monetary advantage to the wishes of the wealthy, while muffling the voices of socially conscious citizens who believe in a democratic government.
In Canada, under the law, a corporation has the same rights and obligations as a natural person. It can acquire assets, go into debt, enter into contracts, sue or be sued, and even be found guilty of committing a crime. A corporation’s money and other assets belong to the corporation and not to its shareholders.
Our politicians, well aware that corporations have money to burn, have adopted similar tax cuts and incentives. Corporations are taxed at 38% of taxable income, which drops to 28% after federal tax abatement, and then drops again after general tax reductions. The net tax rate for corporations keeps falling, from 18% (2010,) to 16.5% (2011,) to 15% ( 2012,) For Canadian-controlled private corporations claiming the small business deduction, the net tax rate is 11%.
Contrast that with your personal tax rate for this year, which is 15% on the first $44,701 of taxable income, 22% on the next $44,700, 26% up to $138,586, and 29% of taxable income over $138,586.
Most Canadians believe that those with higher incomes ought to share a bit more of the tax burden than those with low incomes, especially businesses and corporations which rely on public infrastructure to do business. Taxation lawyers argue, however, that wealthy corporations taxed more than poorer ones will simply split themselves into smaller entities to avoid the higher taxation. And a smart high-income person with good lawyers and accountants will form small corporations to shelter their income.
The harsh reality is that Harper’s government has given businesses an extra $50 billion in tax cuts and credits in the last few years. And due to cuts to the GST, personal and corporate taxes, Ottawa now collects about $45 billion less revenue per year. Meanwhile, plans are in place to cut public health funding by $36 billion over the next 10 years. Retirement age will be raised to the age of 67. Education and child care are low priorities, and our veterans are disrespected by the very people they protected during foreign wars.
The rate of economic growth, government revenues and employment could be raised by investing in infrastructure like mass transit, but where can you find the funds to do so when you’ve already spent the taxpayer’s funds on corporate incentives, security, policing, corrections, spy agencies and multimillion-dollar taxpayer-funded ad campaigns designed to get Canadians to vote Conservative in the next federal.election?
Capitalism appears to be trumping the objectives of democracy; the voices of the people are unheard, while money and power remain in the hands of the rich and the powerful.
It would seem that true democracy cannot co-exist with unrestrained Capitalism.