harper-government

Prime Minister Stephen Harper unveiled his government’s new counter-terror bill with dire warnings about the threats facing Canada from radical, freedom-hating groups on the other side of the world.

“A great evil has been descending on our world,” he said in Richmond Hill on Friday.

And Harper introduced Bill C-51, a sweeping piece of legislation that covers everything from what you’re allowed to say and write to who can board a plane, what happens to your tax information and how long you can be detained without charge, he cited fatal attacks last fall in Ottawa and St. Jean Sur Richelieu.

But Harper isn’t sure how the new counter-terror measures could have prevented the shooting rampage that left one young father dead and bullet holes in the halls of Parliament: Michael Zehaf-Bibeau had a history of petty theft and substance abuse but wasn’t on police radar as a potential terrorist.

“Bad things will sometimes happen,” the Prime Minister said.

Highlights of the bill include:
- Government institutions such as the Canada Revenue Agency can share your personal information with security agencies if they think it would be “relevant” to security issues.
- You can go to jail for up to five years for “promoting” or “advocating” terrorism in general, whether you think it’ll actually result in terrorist activity or are just “reckless.”
- Security agencies can issue takedown orders for online content deemed “terrorist propaganda.”
- If police believe you could commit or be involved in terrorism they can detain you – with a judge’s approval – up to seven days without charge, up from the previous three.
- Canada’s spy agency CSIS can act to “disrupt” terrorist activity, not just provide information on it. But this, too, requires a judge’s approval.
- It’ll be easier to keep you off a plane if you’re on a no-fly list or the Minister thinks you should be.
- It’ll be tougher to get into the country, and get citizenship, if you’re believed to have terrorist ties.

[…]

In an email Friday evening, Justice Minister Peter Mackay’s spokesperson Clarissa Lamb said the “The Supreme Court has interpreted ‘promote’ to mean active support or instigation and is more than simple encouragement. It has interpreted ‘advocate’ to mean actively inducing or encouraging.”

Conceivably, if you’ve ever written a blog post railing against Canada’s actions in Iraq or Afghanistan; brought a Tamil Tigers flag to a protest; argued that Canada should restore humanitarian aid to Gazans through their Hamas government; called Israel an apartheid state; supported militant independence movements in Turkish Kurdistan or Spain’s Basque region; you may have done just that. […]

Canadian and American right-wing politicians going on about Islamic terrorism has a sickening stench of hypocrisy, considering the fact that the American government and other Western governments helped fund, arm and train Muslim extremists during the Cold War, which has contributed to many of the problems in the Middle East (and beyond) today. It looks like the American military-industrial-spy complex backed the wrong “enemy of my enemy is my friend” in that one. They made their bed, and now they are lying to us.

One of the main reasons there isn’t a strong secular, democratic alternative in most Middle Eastern countries today is that the American government helped to brutally wipe it out. Bad guys such as Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were considered allies of Western capitalist governments until some backroom deals went sour and the alliances were broken. Even today, the Canadian and American governments consider the murderous, terrorism-sponsoring Saudi Arabian dictatorship to be a friend. The Canadian government even recently helped broker a multi-million dollar deal to sell weapons to Saudi regime.

This latest war-that-isn’t-officially-a-war in Iraq is mainly a distraction from the non-stop political scandals and economic disasters at home, and will not make the world safer nor more secure. Even if ISIS/ISIL is disrupted and degraded, another gang that is just as dangerous will move in to fill the vacuum. It’s like a game of Whac-a-Mole. Who will be the “good guys” and “bad guys” tomorrow? Why the focus on one set of “bad guys” when there are other “bad guys” who are even worse elsewhere?

It’s pathetic that so many Canadians are falling for this obvious scam and are considering voting Conservative because of it.

The coward Stephen Harper and his crew of quislings are pretending that his new big-government, anti-freedom legislation is meant to crack down on actual terrorists and keep us safe, but the reality is that Harper’s main domestic targets will continue to be the same as before: environmentalists, native activists and anyone else who gets in the way of his global corporate agenda.

HEY, CANADIAN TUMBLR

YOU ALL NEED TO FUCKING SIGN THIS.

FOR THOSE OF YOU NOT INFORMED, HARPER LITERALLY JUST SOLD CANADA TO CHINA. 

THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO OVERTURN FEDERAL AND PROVINCIAL LAWS THAT WOULD STOP THEM FROM DOING SHIT LIKE FRACKING, EVEN IF IT’S ON NATIVE LAND. CHINA IS ALLOWED TO OVERRULE THE SUPREME COURT OF CANADA, AND THE CONSTITUTION. 

SERIOUSLY YOU NEED TO SIGN THIS.

Outrage toward the bill mounted throughout the day. The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, which is suing the federal government over its surveillance programs, released a statement saying: “Canada has utterly failed to respond to the urgent need for national security oversight and instead, proposes an unprecedented expansion of powers that will harm innocent Canadians and not increase our public safety.” The group says it’s especially concerned about the provision that will allow police to detain people who haven’t been charged for longer periods of time.

Hamed El-Said, an advisor to the UN Counter Terrorism Implementation Task and author of the book New Approaches to Countering Terrorism released earlier this month, said in an interview that the laws Canada already has on the books are “more than enough to deal with terrorism.” And new criminal offences coupled with more powerful police forces will likely translate to more convictions that carry long prison sentences.

“New legislations like this will fill up the Canadian prison system,” he said. “The number of inmates will only go up.” Having conducted research on radicalization in prisons around the world, he says the chances of people becoming radicalized, when they weren’t so already, can increase when they are convicted and imprisoned for crimes around freedom of expression.

In Prime Minister Harper’s address to the nation he uses the word terrorist four times. He also expresses how we are no longer safe and that it’s the “hope” of these terror groups to bring savagery to Canada.

Thomas Mulcair’s speech didn’t contain a single use of the word terror. He specifically details that acts of violence like this are executed with the explicit purpose of instilling fear and shattering our way of life and that we instead should come together and not fall victim and being driven to hatred.

I hope that people can see what a crucial difference this is.

Also Trudeau said some stuff but who cares am I right?

We did not post for Canada Day for totally conscientious reasons (read: mostly we were on vacation or otherwise dropped the ball), but since Canada Day is primarily a celebration of unelected white men who, 147 years ago, unilaterally made a decision to take ownership of land which was not theirs — in ignorance to or dismissal of the pre-existing sovereignty that indigenous peoples held over said land — in an endeavor to further exploit the resources found on that land and to further build their personal and demographic capital, it may not be worthy of recognition in the usual sense.

But nor is it worthy of silence. Last week there was a pretty considerable conversation here about whether or not we are “one of those” who is partial against the current federal administration. Neutrality in politics is untenable at best, as our current administration has demonstrated, and we’re not interested in pretending not to pass judgment on this government’s shit.

In honour of Canada Day, here are a few news stories that best encapsulate the current colonial climate of the nation:

  • The Harper government spent $30 million on 1812 commemorations while food prices in Nunavut, among other areas in the Canadian North, remain exorbitant, sometimes for rotten food. (Remember the federal program to try to stabilize food prices in the north? There are some questions about where that money is going.)
  • White folks in the territories make more than four times the median income of Inuit persons, making the expensive food situation even more dire for the Inuit who don’t have the income to support themselves under such inflation.
  • Protests are ongoing re: northern gateway pipeline which was, as you’ll recall, approved by the feds without consulting all the required First Nations. (Enbridge claims consultation and approval from some nations but can’t or won’t name any.)
  • Never forget this study that named Aboriginal rights were a “risk” to Canada’s resource agenda.
  • Idle No More received a lot of publicity, but never have Native peoples been idle against the policies of the federal government. The fact that a cohesive, non-passive movement came together in solidarity against the Harper administration’s policies in particular, however, should remind you of the ongoing colonial bullshit Native peoples are facing every day from the current government’s policies. This article mentions specifically the federal government’s disrespect of treaty agreements — 18 months ago. This issue, among many, is still unaddressed by the feds. This is only one topic of protest, and little if anything is changing.
  • While all this is going on, Canada’s 150th is coming up in a few years. Guess how much Canada’s 100th cost in 1967? $750 million. While claims are that the cost of these celebrations is going to come out of the Department of National Defense’s budget, that’s still a lot of taxpayer money that could be spent in literally any other conceivable way. (I’m no stan of military intervention but that also seems like a peculiar source to fund what amounts to a self-congratulatory wank. It also suggests that the rebranding of Canada that seems to be accompanying this forthcoming milestone is explicitly connected to military venture — a worrying connection.) No doubt these celebrations are going to represent the rhetorical and actual suppression of First Nations voices in favour of the dominant national dialogue the Harper administration has been promulgating for years in the form of increasingly imperialist-nationalist heritage monuments and museums.

This list is not even close to exhaustive.

And then, on the other hand, there are the silences — the protests that never made the news; the forms of resistance we don’t hear about; the events that aren’t adequately sensational to reach the public. There’s a lot happening that the mainstream corporate media doesn’t cover. There’s a lot more than the big, public aggressions to consider.

The thing that’s most important to remember about Canada Day is that 147 years after sovereignty was illegally superimposed by, primarily, rich European dudes, this federal government continues to push against Native peoples to exert what they perceive to be “rights” over this territory’s land and resources; and 147 years later, Native peoples continue to push back in a variety of ways. The conflict started long before 1867, resistance is ongoing, and it’s gonna continue for a long while yet.

May Canada Day serve to remind us of the responsibility we have to support the rights of this land’s first nations. Be “one of those” in this nation’s 148th year and loudly protest federal policies against indigenous rights.

Over the last few years, the government of Canada — led by Stephen Harper — has made it harder and harder for publicly financed scientists to communicate with the public and with other scientists.

It began badly enough in 2008 when scientists working for Environment Canada, the federal agency, were told to refer all queries to departmental communications officers. Now the government is doing all it can to monitor and restrict the flow of scientific information, especially concerning research into climate change, fisheries and anything to do with the Alberta tar sands — source of the diluted bitumen that would flow through the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Journalists find themselves unable to reach government scientists; the scientists themselves have organized public protests.

There was trouble of this kind here in the George W. Bush years, when scientists were asked to toe the party line on climate policy and endangered species. But nothing came close to what is being done in Canada.

Science is the gathering of hypotheses and the endless testing of them. It involves checking and double-checking, self-criticism and a willingness to overturn even fundamental assumptions if they prove to be wrong. But none of this can happen without open communication among scientists. This is more than an attack on academic freedom. It is an attempt to guarantee public ignorance.

It is also designed to make sure that nothing gets in the way of the northern resource rush — the feverish effort to mine the earth and the ocean with little regard for environmental consequences. The Harper policy seems designed to make sure that the tar sands project proceeds quietly, with no surprises, no bad news, no alarms from government scientists. To all the other kinds of pollution the tar sands will yield, we must now add another: the degradation of vital streams of research and information.

Now the New York Times has picked this story up.

From the poll:

“Feb. 6 marks nine years since Stephen Harper was sworn in as Prime Minister. We’ll be taking a look at his record and how Canada has changed, but first we want to know what you think. Take our poll to rate how Canada has fared after nearly a decade under a Harper government. “

In the House of Commons Tuesday, the Prime Minister rebuffed calls for new measure to rein in the country’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, saying Canada won’t move unless the United States takes similar steps with its oil and gas industry

Stephen Harper really seems to have it out for sociology. In 2013, in response to an alleged plot against a VIA train, Harper remarked that we should not “commit sociology,” but pursue an anti-crime approach. And last week, in response to the death of Tina Fontaine, Harper argued that an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women is not needed, because this is not a “sociological phenomenon” but simply a series of individual crimes.

Of course, not only is all crime a sociological phenomenon, but also without a broader sociological analysis we can’t begin to understand why the rates of missing and murdered indigenous women are tragically high compared to non-indigenous women. Furthermore, it’s clear that if rates of violence against non-indigenous women climbed as high as those of indigenous women, this government (even with its woeful record on women’s issues) would be more likely to announce not only a public inquiry but a full-scale national strategy. (This double-standard in how we value human lives is what sociologists call “racism.”)

Harper’s two disparaging comments about sociology, however, also need to be understood alongside his gutting of the long-form census in 2010. It is widely accepted that this action fundamentally undermined Canada’s ability to understand its own demographics, long-term social trends, and inequalities — in short, its sociology.

So what does Harper have against sociology? First, Harper is clearly trumpeting a standard component of neo-liberal ideology: that there are no social phenomena, only individual incidents. (This ideology traces back to Margaret Thatcher’s famous claim that “there is no such thing as society.”) Neo-liberalism paints all social problems as individual problems. The benefit of this for those who share Harper’s agenda, of course, is that if there are no social problems or solutions, then there is little need for government. Individuals are solely responsible for the problems they face.

This ideology is so seductive not only because it radically simplifies our world, but also because it mirrors the two social institutions neo-liberals actually believe in — the “free” market and law and order. Everything is reduced to either a simplistic market transaction or a criminal case. In the former, you either have the money to buy stuff, or you don’t and it’s up to you to get more. In the latter, a lone individual is personally responsible for a crime and is punished for it. Easy peasy. No sociology needed.

But there’s yet another reason this ideology is so hostile toward the kind of sociological analysis done by Statistics Canada, public inquiries and the like. And that has to do with the type of injustices we can even conceive of, or consider tackling, as a society.

You see, sociologists often differentiate between “personal injustices” and “systemic” or “structural injustices.” Personal injustices can be traced back to concrete actions of particular individuals (perpetrators). These actions are often wilful, and have a relatively isolated victim.

Structural injustices, on the other hand, are produced by a social structure or system. They are often hard to trace back to the actions of specific individuals, are usually not explicitly intended by anyone, and have collective, rather than isolated, victims. Structural injustices are a result of the unintended actions of many individuals participating in a social system together, usually without knowing what each other is doing. Whereas personal injustices are traced back to the harmful actions (or inactions) of individuals, structural injustices are identified by differential societal outcomes among groups. Sociologists call these “social inequalities.”

And therein lies the rub. Perhaps the key difference between personal and structural injustices is that the latter are only clearly identifiable through macro-level societal analysis — that is, sociology. This is because a) there are no clear perpetrators with whom to identify the injustice and assign responsibility; and b) while structural injustices do generate concrete harms and victims, we often only learn about the collective nature of the injustice through statistical inquiry, or by identifying social/demographic patterns over time.

What should be clear, then, is that Harper’s seemingly bizarre vendetta against sociology is actually an ideological attempt to prevent Canadian society from being able to identify, and tackle, its structural injustices. Without large-scale sociological analyses, we can’t recognize the pervasive, entrenched social inequalities that these analyses reveal. And because structural injustices are actually generated by our social systems, both their causes and solutions are social.

Thus, when we paint all social problems as individual problems with individual solutions, we also lose any sense of the social responsibility, rather than personal responsibility, that we need to address them.

The payoff in all this for Harper and other neo-liberals is that the kinds of injustices this ideology is particularly good at creating are precisely structural injustices. Indeed, one of neo-liberalism’s greatest capacities is to generate systemic inequalities that are not easily identifiable, in fact are rather difficult to discern, on the level of personal interactions and isolated cases. Harper’s attack on sociology, then, should be viewed not only as an attempt to further his ideology, but to cover the social damage that is left in its wake.

9

- The Average greenhouse gas emissions for oilsands extraction and upgrading are estimated to be 3.2 to 4.5 times as intensive per barrel as for conventional crude oil produced.

- Even on a full life cycle (well-to-wheels) basis, oilsands greenhouse gas emissions intensities are between 8% and 37% higher than conventional crude, due to the greater amount of oilsands production emissions.

- About 7% of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions came from oilsands plants and upgraders in 2010

- Oilsands are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.

- If the Canadian province of Alberta, the heartland of Conservatism and the oil sands, were a country, its per capita greenhouse gas emissions and destruction of the earth would be higher than any other country in the world.

Oh yes, but of course, we should consult an economist on this issue because who better to comment on environmental issues, cancer rates, and the destruction of people’s livelihood than an economist!

Anti-terror bill: A quick guide

The Anti-Terrorism Act introduced by the Conservative government Friday contains sweeping changes.

Here are the highlights:

Spy games:

Anybody who wished Canada would have its own form of the Central Intelligence Agency is closer to seeing that happen. Until now, Canada’s primary spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), has been allowed only to collect and analyze information about threats to Canada, and advise the government about appropriate responses.

Now, CSIS will be allowed to “disrupt” those threats, which include espionage, sabotage, terrorism and what the government calls “domestic subversion.” That could include anything from disrupting websites and social media accounts to intercepting goods and weapons.

In addition, the Federal Court now will be able to compel third parties to co-operate with CSIS. An example would be having a telecommunications firm provide the spy agency with information, or blocking a website.

The government says it is matching these powers with new safeguards.

The threshold for disruption activities is higher than intelligence gathering, with CSIS being required to have “reasonable grounds to believe” something was a threat to Canada before disrupting the threat, as opposed to needing only “reasonable grounds to suspect” to gather intelligence.

As with its existing intelligence-gathering powers, CSIS would need a warrant whenever its plan to disrupt a threat would contravene the Charter of Rights and Freedoms or Canadian law.

The spy agency will also have to keep the public safety minister informed about threat disruption activities. As well, the Security Intelligence Review Committee will examine CSIS’s performance each year in its report to Parliament.

Continue Reading.

The federal cabinet says the Northern Gateway pipeline “is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects” to populations of two iconic, at-risk Canadian species — the woodland caribou and grizzly bear — but says the impacts are “justified in the circumstances.”

Hundreds of frustrated scientists clad in their telltale white lab coats descended Monday on Parliament Hill to demand that the Harper government stop muzzling scientists and cutting research funding.

"What do we want? Evidence-based decision-making!" chanted the protesters as they gathered in the shadow of the Peace Tower, complaining about what they see as the government’s efforts to commercialize research.

well FUCK

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has vowed to strengthen the nation’s terror laws one day after a gunman rampaged through parliament.

The leader said plans would be expedited to give more powers to surveillance and security agencies.

On Wednesday, a reported Muslim convert shot a soldier at an Ottawa war memorial before attacking parliament.

He was killed by Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, who was greeted to a standing ovation on Thursday for his efforts.

It was the second attack on Canada’s military in three days.

Standing to address the MPs to warm applause, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s first words were: “I know we will always stand together.”

The objective of the attacks was to instil fear and panic in Canada, he said.

But he vowed to expedite security measures to toughen powers of surveillance and detention.

"They need to be much strengthened, and I assure you, Mr Speaker, that work which is already under way will be expedited," Mr Harper said.