Proportional Representation Leads to More Diverse, Cooperative Politics

Response to Bill Tieleman and other Electoral Reform naysayers

Canadian society is incredibly diverse. However, we currently use an antiquated electoral system that was designed in the 13th century for a country that had only two political parties. As such, Canada’s House of Commons is overwhelmingly dominated by a small number of political parties – usually just two. This lack of variety fails to represent the multitude of voices and opinions in Canadian society.

Tieleman slights the federal Green party, whose seat count remains low due to the current voting system. Does Tieleman think that smaller parties such as the Greens shouldn’t have a voice in our parliament? I can’t help but think of 1990s provincial politics, when the leader of the BC NDP, the party Tieleman once served as an advisor to, labeled environmentalists as the enemies of B.C. Or again in the 2000s when the BC NDP opposed the province’s incredibly progressive carbon tax.

Having a party like the Greens, even if just on the periphery, has ensured that the more regressive policies of the BC NDP have been challenged. The party had to adapt to such criticism, and become a more progressive political party for it. Sometimes even opposition parties need to be opposed.

Tieleman wants us to believe a greater diversity of voices will mean racism and intolerance in Canada’s parliament.

New Zealand, a country that uses proportional representation, shows that exactly the opposite can happen: Indigenous people have a louder voice in parliament, which encourages tolerance, cooperation and respect. The Māori party regularly wins seats (even outside of the seven electorates set aside for Māori candidates) and is part of New Zealand’s current coalition government. Of the eight political parties that contested New Zealand’s 2014 election, three of them had leaders of Māori heritage.

Coalition and minority governments can be extremely productive. Lester Pearson’s minority Liberal government was one of the most fruitful governments that Canada has ever had. Pushed to cooperate with the NDP, we saw the creation of public healthcare, Canada Pension Plan, Student Loans, a Canadian Flag, the 40-hour work week, two weeks of vacation time and a new minimum wage. So when detractors of proportional representation warn of parliamentary gridlock, be skeptical. The exact opposite can happen when parties work together.

When was the last time that a federal Canadian political party with seats had a non-Caucasian leader? Certainly not during my lifetime, if ever.

Read the entire Article: Proportional Representation Leads to More Diverse, Cooperative Politics | The Tyee

Omar Mateen was a Child of America not ISIS

While Omar Mateen may have proclaimed allegiance to ISIS prior to unleashing mass murder in Orlando, he is the child of an American culture terminally ill with hatred of the other, and an addiction to guns and lethal violence in which it swims.

Slaughtering 49 people in a nightclub over their sexuality is as barbaric as it gets. It reminds us that bigotry, whether against Muslims, blacks, Jews, gays, or any other minority, is the enemy of all right thinking humanity. Not only on moral grounds but also to ensure we live up to the epic struggles previous generations have waged in crushing ideologies of hate and racism whenever and wherever they have emerged.

Fascism, the most obvious example, was and remains an equal opportunities ideology of hate and genocide. In Hitler’s concentration camps you had Russian Soviet POW’s, Jews, Communists, leftists, trade unionists, gypsies, disabled people and also gays. Predicated on a perverse belief in racial supremacy, the Nazis deemed each of the aforementioned subhuman and their eradication a non-negotiable condition of ‘purifying’ and ‘cleansing’ humanity.

The Nazis were crushed by the Red Army and the Soviet Union at huge cost and with the help from Western allies. Joining in common cause on the understanding that any ideological or cultural differences that existed between them were as nothing compared to the necessity of confronting and defeating an ideology that posed a threat to humanity itself. It is an alliance between East and West that the world is crying out for today when it comes to confronting and defeating ISIS and its various offshoots, groups whose inhumanity and barbarism are fueled by a fascist-like sense of divinely inspired supremacy, though religious rather than racial in their case.

That no such alliance between East and West currently exists when it comes to eradicating ISIS is an indictment of the lack of awareness. This is due to the responsibility and statesmanship prevalent within Western governments and on the part of Western ideologues. Prisoners of a cold war mind set, the West is being led by fools who consider Russia and China pose as much of a threat as ISIS, if not greater. It would be fair to assume that the families and friends of the victims of Omar Mateen would strenuously disagree right now.

The insanity that underpins such a twisted cold war prism is responsible for the absurdity of NATO military exercises being conducted on Russia’s border at the very moment Russian aircraft and servicemen are leading the fight against ISIS in Syria.

Though much is being made of Mateen’s radicalization and pledge of allegiance to ISIS – and of the fact he was investigated by the FBI not once, not twice, but three times without further action taken. He was still able to freely purchase the AR-15 assault rifle he used to carry out his massacre. Less is being made of the selfies that have emerged of Mateen dressed in a T-shirt and sweatshirt emblazoned with the logo of the NYPD (New York Police Department).

Here we arrive at the heart of the matter. For as much as the twisted ideology of hate that fuels ISIS has much to answer for when it comes to this crime, so does the twisted ideology that fuels America’s fixation with violence, power, and domination. A fixation that is reflected in a racist and bigoted law enforcement culture which values the lives of the citizens it exists to protect according to their race and wealth, and which places a priority on shooting first and asking questions later.

Don’t believe me just ask the Native Americans, whose presence and culture was almost completely eradicated from their land in service to white supremacy. Just ask African Americans, whose ancestors suffered centuries of slavery in service to the very same supremacist ideals. Or the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, cities used by psychopaths in suits for the purposes of a live experiment in nuclear destruction? Then we have the people of Korea and Vietnam, of Central and South America, not forgetting most recently the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, all of whom have experienced the harsh reality of American exceptionalism.

Speaking the language of freedom and democracy while destroying societies and countries for the crime of refusing to bend the knee to this exceptionalism has poisoned American culture and society at home. The rank hypocrisy involved in a country proclaiming itself the home of liberty while counting among its closest allies medieval and barbaric states such as Saudi Arabia, where gay people are whipped and worse on regular basis, is reflected in the idiocy of gun laws devised in the 18th century still being considered relevant in the 21st.

(John Wight has written for newspapers and websites across the world, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal. He is also a regular commentator on RT and BBC Radio)

Read More – Source: Orlando shooter Omar Mateen was a child of America not ISIS — RT Op-Edge

Act of Political Resistance by Edward Snowden

We are witnessing a compression of the working period in which bad policy shelters in the shadows, the time frame in which unconstitutional activities can continue before they are exposed by acts of conscience.

This temporal compression has a significance beyond the immediate headlines; it permits the people of this country to learn about critical government actions, not as part of the historical record but in a way that allows direct action through voting. In other words, in a way that empowers an informed citizenry to defend the democracy that “state secrets” are nominally intended to support.

When I see individuals who are able to bring information forward, it gives me hope that we won’t always be required to curtail the illegal activities of our government as if it were a constant task, to uproot official lawbreaking as routinely as we mow the grass.

Hope lies Beyond

When we move from extraordinary acts of revelation to a collective culture of accountability within the intelligence community. Here we will have taken a meaningful step toward solving a problem that has existed for as long as our government.

This dynamic can be seen quite clearly in the al Qaeda “conference call of doom” story, in which intelligence officials, likely seeking to inflate the threat of terrorism and deflect criticism of mass surveillance. Revealed to a neoconservative website extraordinarily detailed accounts of specific communications they had intercepted, including locations of the participating parties and the precise contents of the discussions.

If the officials’ claims were to be believed, they irrevocably burned an extraordinary means of learning the precise plans and intentions of terrorist leadership for the sake of a short-lived political advantage in a news cycle.

Not a single person seems to have been so much as disciplined as a result of the story that cost us the ability to listen to the alleged al Qaeda hotline.

Read more at Source: Whistleblowing Is Not Just Leaking — It’s an Act of Political Resistance

It’s the Racism, Stupid – Bill Moyers

Three years ago, as the Republican-led House of Representatives engineered a brief government shutdown, Congressman Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) explained the strategy underpinning the protest. “We have to get something out of this,” he said. “And I don’t know what that even is.” The shutdown wasn’t a tactic so much as a tantrum, an act of collective petulance posing as politics — inexplicable to the outside world, incoherent in its aims, and incandescent in its rage.

The bizarre circus that the GOP presidential primary has become is not a freak occurrence. Regardless of the eventual nominee, the rise of Donald Trump (“I would bomb the shit out of [ISIS]”), the ascent of Ted Cruz (“To God be the glory”) and the endurance of Ben Carson (“Putin is a one-horse country: oil and energy”) do not contradict the general trajectory of the party, but rather confirm it. This fact-free, bigoted populism awash in money and drowning in misanthropy may illustrate the GOP at its most brazen, but it’s hardly in any way aberrant.

In this regard, Trump is the party’s most obvious emissary. His blatant xenophobia emerges from the GOP’s half-century of race-baiting since Richard Nixon’s Southern strategy was first conceived. The initial idea was to woo Southern whites, who were angry about the advances of the civil-rights movement, with coded racial messaging that wouldn’t alienate the party’s Northern supporters. “You have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks,” Nixon once explained to his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman. “The key is to devise a system that recognizes that while not appearing to.” This method was once very effective. Ronald Reagan launched his 1980 campaign at the Neshoba County Fair in Mississippi, not far from where three civil-rights activists had been murdered in 1964, by talking about states’ rights. George H.W. Bush had his infamous Willie Horton ad in 1988, while Bush Jr. spoke at Bob Jones University in 2000, where interracial dating was banned at the time.

With white people heading toward minority status and becoming a lower percentage of the voting public every cycle, the message necessarily gets cruder — particularly with the presence of a black president. In the 2012 GOP primaries, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum told a crowd in Iowa that “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money,” while Newt Gingrich branded Obama the “food-stamp president.”

So by the time Trump came on the scene, the party had done away with the dog whistle in favor of a police whistle — no codes necessary. The Mexicans are sending us “rapists”; the Chinese are “cheating”; America needs “a total and complete shutdown” on Muslims coming into the country.

Source: It’s the Racism, Stupid – BillMoyers.com

Nine things Jason Kenney said During BDS Debate Should make You rage

Logging the best lines lodged by Jason Kenney in the debate on BDS.

Canada does have a special relationship with Israel. Aside from the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have personal ties with Israel and Palestine, our countries were both built on expelling one population to make way for another. Many Western nations share this as a basis of their history and the ongoing colonization that exists in all of them should be challenged, condemned and resisted.

In Israel, this looks like disobeying international law and building settlements in occupied territory. In Canada, it looks like forcibly displacing Indigenous communities to get at the resources below the soil. The tactics and rhetoric used to justify these actions might differ, but the result is largely the same.

So it should surprise no one that Canadians who thirst for justice see Israel/Palestine as the location of their activism, most certainly Canadians whose own history is linked to the mass expulsion of Jews across Europe and Russia in the 1800s and 1900s, and especially after the Holocaust.

These are living histories, just like the ongoing trauma of the genocide on which Canada has been built is a living history. Perhaps this is why I find it so disgusting that Israeli exceptionalism is the norm among Canadian politicians. After all, it’s easier to use Israel as a proxy to defend Canada’s own actions at home, rather than face the hard truths contained in the Truth and Reconciliation Report.

There is no greater parliamentary cheerleader for Israel than Jason Kenney. On February 18, he rose in the House of Commons for the first time since his party’s defeat to vigorously defend his nation-state. In case you missed his performance, here are nine things that he said that should not be ignored. After all, Kenney was responsible for Canada’s war effort. There’s a direct line between his opinions and people hurt or killed by the West’s war machine.

1. “One reason that today’s motion is so important is that the BDS movement represents a new wave of anti-Semitism, the most pernicious form of hatred in the history of humanity.”

I don’t think getting into a debate about what form of hatred has been worse than others is useful, and it serves no one to talk about anti-Semitism in this way.

The transcontinental slave trade and anti-Black racism was pretty bad. And the genocide of millions (probably tens of millions) of Indigenous people across the Americas was bad too. Let’s not forget, of course, how poorly women have fared in the history of the Western world as well. Using histories of dehumanization and hatred in this way is poor form, to say the least.

His attempt to then link the old anti-Semitism to the BDS call as being a conspiracy of Muslims and progressives to eliminate Israel is dishonest at best (and conspiratorial and dangerous at worst).

Read More Nine things Jason Kenney said during the BDS debate that should make you rage | rabble.ca

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U.K. Court Affirms Journalism Isn’t Terrorism

I knew I was doing the right thing.

An appeals court rules in favor of David Miranda, who was detained for nine hours at Heathrow Airport in 2013 while transporting National Security Agency documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

“If journalists and their sources can have no expectation of confidentiality, they may decide against providing information on sensitive matters of public interest,” the ruling states. “The court of appeal ruling rejects the broad definition of terrorism advanced by government lawyers. The correct legal definition of terrorism, the court of appeal has now ruled, requires some intention to cause a serious threat to public safety such as endangering life.”

The decision was handed down by Lord Dyson, the court’s most senior judge. “The stop power, if used in respect of journalistic information or material is incompatible with article 10 [freedom of expression] of the [European convention on human rights] because it is not ‘prescribed by law’,” Dyson said.

More at Source: In Landmark Ruling, U.K. Court Affirms ‘Journalism Isn’t Terrorism’ – Truthdig

Our Leaders are Depressing

What do we get when we vote these miserable bastards to office?

We expect the politicians to act in a civilized manner. We are bored of your pathetic attempts to pour propaganda down our throats. Promises you made to us and every citizen on this planet are expected to be kept. Did our families beat that minion Hitler so you could be proud Nazi supporters? Why are you backing a Nazi regime where there was a democratically elected leader? Nice play Shakespeare try it again. Our families built the United Nations so you would have an open forum to work out differences. Too arrogant to admit you are wrong yet always ready for photo-ops.

You have deliberately created a delirious sense of hate and terror to enable more weapons of destruction. Where is your sense of decency? Your words yes we can and real change are meaningless. You have hit us with a blizzard of media half truths and outright lies.

Why are you sitting on your brain? Did you shove your head so far up your ass you are blinded by the dark side. Have you developed a speech problem? Do you require our assistance in showing you how to speak to another person over a disagreement? We do it every day of the year. Perhaps your use of verbs, nouns and adjectives needs some refreshing.

The big boys behind the military have conned you into believing they have solutions. They do not know how to dream of creating a world with everyone living in variations of peace. Why do your very wealthy friends horde trillions in paper dollars? Power is an illusion for the delusional mind. History is cluttered with those who wanted power over the citizens of this planet. Please share your memories of a wealthy historical character.

Tell your wealthy friends to release their trillions into the economy. We will thank them for their generosity, if, you do not kill us with more taxes.

You disgust me with your blithering remarks about nuclear weapons. We lived through the years of the bomb once. Once is enough. I could not imagine any of you jerks being in charge during those years. We had real leaders who were willing and able to speak to the other side. There is a difference between intelligence and being sleazy.

You have lost the capacity to speak an honest word.

It is pretentious of you to believe good jobs, a decent living and family can are created by building weapons of death. Did we have a day without war during the last 100 years?

When you were not looking the dreamers created millions of high paying jobs in the space program. Today your wealthy friends cannot figure out how to get a rocket off the ground. Yet you still believe the military creates steady employment. I know you are a slow learner so this was written with very few big words.

How did you forget the promises you made to the citizens of this planet?

You are so neurotic you depress me.

Listen to the children

“Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet.

We all breathe the same air.

We all cherish our children’s future.

And we are all mortal.” President John F. Kennedy

The Bureaucratic Shuffle

“the plan is overly bureaucratic and complex”

We are fooled into believing our elected officials operate the government. You should know it is far from the truth. Every form of government, everywhere, runs the show from behind the scenes. Do you pay taxes to multiple government run agencies?

You have heard or read the “government will spend 20 million dollars to launch a new program“. (example)

Do ever hear how much of the money will be spent on the bureaucracy to set up and make the program available?

To show you who operates the government I will use one example. You can do the same for your town, city, county, province or country. An additional massive bureaucracy is scattered across the country on behalf of the federal government.

How Many Dollars are Spent on The Bureaucracy?

Your example is the City of Edmonton

Enjoy!

Cost for corporate administration, general,  municipal and other total of $356,800.000.00 of the 2.6 billion dollars in revenue. Employee benefits run an additional $127,000,000.00 per year for a grand total of $483,800,000.00. And you thought the 18 million in traffic tickets was a lot of money.

The List is an Endless Empire of Bureaucrats

Agencies, Boards, Committees and Commissions

Policies and Procedures Governing Boards

Community Services

Corporate Services

Financial Services and Utilities

City Manager

Sustainable Development

Transportation Services

Just when you think enough is enough

Capital Region Board

Then the bureaucracy begins to rattle chains at the Provincial Government.

To those among you who believe the 4.7 million Canadians in poverty do not pay may I give you an example. Most in poverty pay rent and have housing costs. Mature Canadians (seniors) get nailed every way possible to pay by the nameless, faceless bureaucracy. We also contributed via taxation and pension plans our entire life.

Capital Region Housing Corporation of Edmonton offers a small subsidy although there is a waiting list of up to 7 years. Seems there are always 8000 people ahead of you.  (before you apply get rid of your vehicle, television, computer, cell phone and shoot yourself in the foot) This elite group apparently reports to no one. All talk no action by highly paid bureaucrats. Pay to join your local political party and drop your name in the hat so you too can be appointed. Only paid up memberships get these high rolling, sit on your ass, do nothing jobs.

Electricity cost Per Month for a 450 sq. ft. run down single suite apartment. Front and back doors do not lock properly etc. The place is more suitable for mice. Electricity used $27.72, with taxes on electricity $34.19 for a total of $61.91. The $1.60 increase per month was a slap in the face to those of us who dedicated our life and liberty to Canada.

Yes,  those of us in poverty, do pay taxes. If you believe it isn’t so, you have likely been listening to the wealthy, talk about poverty. I have been to their meetings and sat in on their committees. If clues were shoes they would run barefoot through the park. Their single minded purpose it to stay wealthy while ensuring the bureaucracy pays them an over-inflated pension.

“You will understand bureaucracies when you understand procedure is everything and people are nothing.” Thomas Sowell

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Paris massacre may inflame Public Opinion on Migrant crisis – Op-Edge

French President Hollande has declared a state of emergency across the country as Paris comes to grip with a series of terrorist attacks that led to the death of 127 people in the capital, which was placed under curfew for the first time since World War II.

Washington-based defense analyst Ivan Eland, asked whether this was the right time for nations to put aside their differences and join together in the fight against terrorism, he explained that it is important to consider the problem long-term it is important to ask “what are the root causes of this terrorism – we call them “blanket terrorism” – but there’s many different groups in the world with many different causes and most of them tend to be local causes, which become international causes when Western countries, or other countries, intervene where they shouldn’t.”

Source: Perfect storm: ‘Paris massacre may enflame public opinion on migrant crisis, NATO interventions’ — RT Op-Edge

Meet the ‘unpeople’ – Whose views don’t matter to West’s faux-democrats (OP-ED)

Who are the unpeople? Human beings whose views don’t matter a jot to self-styled ‘democrats’ in the West, even though in some cases – in fact, in most cases, they constitute the majority.

When Western elites and their media stenographers talk of ‘democracy’ it’s clear that they mean that power should only go to those groups/parties/leaders who will govern the country for the benefit of those elites, regardless of how much actual support these groups/parties/leaders actually have. ‘Assad must go’ not because that’s what a majority of Syrians want, but because Assad staying in power in a country of enormous geostrategic importance does not suit the interests of the most powerful people in the West.

Across the world, the views of millions of people are ignored – ironically by people who boast loudest about their support for ‘democracy’. But democracy if it means anything means respecting equally the views of everyone, not elevating the views of some groups above others just because their candidates are good for Washington and its allies – which is what happens in practice.

Racist and imperialist attitudes underpin the mindset of the Western faux democrats. These people, most of whom have never set foot in Syria, believe they have to right to dictate who should or shouldn’t be running the country. The Western faux-democrat believes that it’s the opposition that should be ruling Venezuela, and that someone like Garry Kasparov or Mikhail Khodorkovsky should be in the Kremlin and not Vladimir Putin, or heaven forbid, Gennady Zyuganov.

Source: Meet the ‘unpeople’ – Whose views don’t matter to West’s faux-democrats (OP-ED) — RT Op-Edge