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General

Will Canada have a snap election over new anti-terrorist laws and ISIS?

Posted October 26, 2014 by CuriosityCat
Big Brother is watching …

There is a clear fault line between the two opposition parties, and PM Stephen Harper’s policies with regard to how to combat ISIS. 

The Conservatives favour actual fighting (planes dropping bombs etc.), while the opposition parties are against this. 

The NDP is further from the government’s position, while the Liberal Party would have Canadian armed forces join the anti-ISIS coalition led by the US and help its efforts (including transporting goods for the coalition), but short of Canadian planes dropping bombs on ISIS targets.

Now another fault line has appeared: the Conservatives want to tighten legislation to combat the use of the Internet by terrorists, while the two opposition parties want to slow things down, and check what is not working before passing new laws.
The police and security arms have voiced concern about their ability to actively monitor dozens of identified potential terrorist threats, without increases in their numbers and funding.
Tom Blackwell has an article that refers to the views of some experts that our laws need tightening:

Does that mean Canada’s counter-terrorism policy contains fatal flaws? Or did the two lone-wolf attackers slip through a net that can be made only so tight — without unacceptable curbs on freedom?

Experts and advocates said Thursday there may be cause to draw that net a little tauter, even if it does mean some further limits on civil liberties…

“Apparently we can do a good job of detecting them, apparently we can do a good job of doing surveillance on them, we can do a good job of removing their passports,” he said.

“But somehow we can’t put them in jail and keep the public safe. That’s the hard question.”

In fact, a Canadian law passed last year allows police to temporarily detain suspected, would-be terrorists under what are known as preventive arrests. Police seem reluctant to use the power, however, likely because they fear judges would require ironclad proof the individuals would otherwise commit terrorist acts, said Prof. Leuprecht.

John Ivison writesthat the Conservatives, which have the majority in the House and can pass any laws they wish to, have been considering changes to our laws:
The Conservatives are understood to be considering new legislation that would make it an offence to condone terrorist acts online.

 There is frustration in government, and among law enforcement agencies, that the authorities can’t detain or arrest people who express sympathy for atrocities committed overseas and who may pose a threat to public safety, one Conservative MP said. “Do we need new offences? If so which?”
Sources suggest the government is likely to bring in new hate speech legislation that would make it illegal to claim terrorist acts are justified online.
The Prime Minister told the House of Commons on Thursday that Canada’s law and policing powers need to be strengthened in the areas of surveillance, detention and arrest. He said work is already under way to provide law enforcement agencies with “additional tools” and that work will now be expedited…

The Criminal Code already prohibits “hate propaganda” and it is not clear how any new legislation would dovetail with existing provisions.

The new legislation is likely to prove controversial with the opposition parties and shatter the harmony that emerged in the House Thursday, after the terror attack on Parliament Hill.
David Cameron, PM of the UK, recently announced new laws designed to come to grips with terrorist-tourism:
Among measures announced:

  • Legislation will be drawn up to give the police statutory powers to confiscate the passports of suspect terrorists at UK borders
  • The UK will challenge any attempt by the courts to water down these powers
  • Plans to block suspected British terrorists from returning to the UK will be drawn up on a “cross-party basis”
  • Terrorism prevention and investigation measures (Tpims) will be extended, to include the power to relocate suspects
  • Terrorists will be required to undergo de-radicalisation programmes
  • Airlines will be forced to hand over more information about passengers travelling to and from conflict zones
The home secretary already has executive powers to seize the passports of those travelling abroad in certain cases but Mr Cameron said the police needed greater discretion to act where needed.
How far will the Canadian government go in its new laws? 

We clearly have a problem with the use of the Internet to spread terrorist propaganda, which raises the question of what legitimate limits we can put on the use of the Internet in the public interest. 

We also have a problem with potential terrorists whose behaviour gives our security forces cause for concern.

Will Harper extend the list of new laws to include some of the proposed UK new laws (such as forcing terrorists to undergo de-radicalization programmes, and giving police the power to relocate suspects)?
Given the clear fault lines between the government and the other parties, will Harper decide to table a comprehensive set of new laws and other provisions, and then, if these are opposed by the other parties, decide to go to the people to gain their blessing for the new measures, and also for the government’s decision on our forces going to war on ISIS? 

Coupled with the reduction of the deficit and the cutting of government costs, he could run a two-pronged campaign (best choice to manage the economy, and best choice to keep Canadians safe from terrorism), during a very short election (say, 4 weeks, with election day in late November).

We will see soon if he decides to do this.
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Allan's Perspective

Saturday Morning Confusion About Censorship!

Posted October 18, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Dear Readers: As you know, your often maligned reporter goes on rants and raves about stuff that seems grossly unfair, unjust, or just plain ridiculous. I have campaigned against the far left, far right, feminists, (especially the femi-nazi’s) special interest groups, animals lovers and vegetarians, bigots, racists, survivalists, cops, minorities, immigrants, liberals and conservatives, lobbyists, […]

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General

Speak now, or forever suffer FIPA

Posted September 19, 2014 by Erich Jacoby-Hawkins
If you want to hide a story from the public, release it late on a Friday afternoon, with no fanfare.

This past Friday, the government quietly announced they had ratified the FIPA trade pact with China. Negotiated secretly and signed by Prime Minister Harper in Vladivostok, Russia, 2 years ago, ratification had been delayed under protest from many sectors about its flaws.

Franke James‘ nightmare is now our reality
And what flaws they are! Essentially, this treaty allows Chinese companies, including state-owned enterprises, to sue Canada for any new law or regulation they feel threatens their profits. So laws to protect our environment, health, resources, jobs, culture, or values are now subject to Chinese approval! But in keeping with the secrecy under which this accord was negotiated and signed, those lawsuits will be secret until an award is issued by the unelected tribunal; if a settlement is reached, it might never be made public at all, even if it involves paying huge sums of our tax money to Chinese companies!
And unlike NAFTA, which has similar (although much weaker) investor-state provisions but can be cancelled with only six months’ notice, this trade deal locks us in for at least 31 years. Yes, that means the next 7 governments, regardless of who we elect, are bound by it.

At least we had a good debate on this first, right? Wrong. There were no public hearings or consultations, no vote in Parliament, and only a single hour of discussion in committee. If, as proponents argue, this deal is such an amazing advance for Canadian interests, why were all of us supposed beneficiaries kept in the dark? Government should be eager to trumpet good new trade initiatives.

Outstanding court challenges should have prevented ratification, especially a rather solid one from the tiny Hupacasath First Nation. Caring greatly about our future, they have been on the forefront, trying to protect all of our constitutional rights. They know what it’s like to have your rights stolen away, and this deal will overrule not only indigenous rights but also those of our provinces, municipalities, and federal government. And even though their ruling has yet to be reviewed, the Harper government has gone ahead and ratified, also apparently not caring that this pact probably violates the Canadian constitution.

Who benefits? The main winners look to be huge Chinese enterprises, including state-owned ones, looking to buy up more of our resources and expand tar sands extraction, for example. This deal seems like nothing more than a sacrifice of most of our values for the sake of some big investment money to dig up more dirty bitumen to ship to China, at the cost of our air, water, and forests.

Can we stop being locked into this horrible deal? We’re told we live in a democracy, so let’s try. Greens, NDP, and to an extent Liberal MPs have gone on the record against this, even some Conservative supporters and Cabinet members have expressed reservations, so we’re not starting from square one. Sign this or similar petitions hosted by other groups. Write letters to the editor to show your outrage. Contact your MP and demand your concerns be raised in the House. Make your voice heard, or for the next 31 years hold your peace!

Published as my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner as “China deal all but hidden from  public
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of Living Green and the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation
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Allan's Perspective

We got trouble in River City folks!

Posted August 24, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Dear Readers; I should warn you from the get-go that this article will not be politically correct or even nice! It might even border on the racist and elitist according to some, but I am going to say things that need to be said! Ya see, these last few weeks is one of those periods […]

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Election

Will Adult Autism Care Issues Be Considered During #nbvotes 2014?

Posted August 23, 2014 by H L Doherty

New Brunswick election 2014 is underway with the NDP, Liberal, Green and PANB parties going all out to replace the PC party.  Party signs are proliferating around the city of Fredericton. The Liberal Party kicked off big time in Fredericton with s…

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Allan's Perspective

407 – ‘Common Sense Revolution’ in action!

Posted July 9, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Dear Readers, we got this in the mail today:: A lot of talk lately about what the provincial Liberals are going to do to Ontario now that they have a majority, but it can’t be any worse than what Mike Harris did to us back in may of 1999! The Common Sense Revolution in action: […]

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General

Keeping Ontario’s Roads Safe Act an important piece of legislation

Posted April 26, 2014 by Erich Jacoby-Hawkins
Let’s see if we can avoid this.
Although a spring election is expected in Ontario, it hasn’t been called yet, so the business of the Legislature goes on. One piece of business is Bill 173, also known as the Keeping Ontario’s Roads Safe Act. This bill, introduced by Infrastructure Minster Glen Murray, contains a number of measures specifically addressing the safety of active transportation. Some of these, in turn, are drawn from at least 4 separate private member’s billsthat were introduced by members of all parties.
From Parkdale – High Park NDP MPP Cheri Dinovo comes a requirement that vehicles passing a bicycle leave at least a full meter of clearance. When I am cycling, I certainly don’t feel comfortable when a vehicle gets closer than that, so I think this change would be appreciated. It will also give drivers clear guidance as to how much room they should leave when passing.

Another improvement comes from a bill from Muskoka – Parry Sound PC MPP Norm Miller. It creates an explicit allowance to ride bikes on the paved shoulder of a divided roadway, as well as prohibiting vehicles (other than emergency responders or tow trucks) from driving there. This sort of has the effect of turning paved shoulders into de facto bike lanes, although a marked and signed bike lane, where possible, is even better.

There are also measures to require drivers to change lanes to pass a tow truck with lights on, suggested by Simcoe North PC MPP Garfield Dunlop, and increased fines for distracted driving, from Scarborough – Rouge River Liberal MPP Bas Balkissoon.

Another change for bikes is to explicitly allow a flashing red light at the rear, something that is cheap and effective but wasn’t anticipated when the old rules were written.

All in all, it seems like the measures in this act are sensible and warranted. Having lost my cousin Sam when his bike was struck by a vehicle in 2008, I heartily approve measures to prevent such tragedies in future. Unfortunately, politics too often get in the way.

In this case, it’s the politics of timing. Although an election is anticipated, the government has introduced a slew of new bills recently, and the Legislature simply won’t have time to study each in committee and go through all three required votes and associated debates. Some of them will certainly die on the order paper if we have a spring election. Even if we don’t, it’s not clear how many could get through the system before the Legislature rises for the summer.

Therefore, if you agree that improving road safety is a laudable goal and that this bill will help, I strongly urge you to contact your Member of Provincial Parliament, and the party leaders, and tell them to prioritize this bill. Urge them to vote for it rather than against, and not to delay it or play politics with it. Any sincere concerns should be addressed, but political gamesmanship is unacceptable. I expect the MPPs whose own measures were rolled into this will support it, but as Ms. Dinovo explained to me, they may not even get the chance if the government doesn’t keep this on the front burner.

So hold their feet to the fire! Given the ongoing low-level carnage associated with our roads, our own lives and those of our children are clearly at stake.

Published as my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner.
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of Living Green and the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation.
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General

Liberal reformers

Posted January 29, 2014 by Nancy Leblanc

A few thoughts here on today’s announcement by Justin Trudeau that Liberal Senators will no longer be part of the Liberal caucus and are now to sit independently.

One of Trudeau’s lines that stood out for me was this one: “At our best, Liberals are relentless reformers.” Recently, on the death of Jim Coutts, an opinion piece he wrote in 2004 was circulated, and in it, we found this:

“The current policy markers of the Liberal party have evolved over time and are fairly familiar to many Canadians. The most crucial Liberal markers are these:
  1. Reform, which is so central to Liberal identity that it was the party’s name up to and during the leadership of George Brown. The marker has stood for political reform, ranging from the introduc- tion of responsible government under Baldwin and Lafontaine, to battling ruling-class power and patronage abuse at the time of Brown, Mackenzie and Blake, to entrenching a constitutional Charter of Rights under Trudeau. Since the 1920s, the Liberal reform marker has most importantly sig- nified social reform, or the cre- ation and improvement of a modern welfare state.”

Today we saw a big bout of reform in the form of a Senate that would be independent, in Trudeau’s words:

That is why I have come to believe that the Senate must be non-partisan. Composed merely of thoughtful individuals representing the varied values, perspectives and identities of this great country. Independent from any particular political brand.

Trudeau’s reform will likely come off as reasonable to many Canadians. It is not the radical abolitionist approach of the NDP which would require constitutional reform. It is not the Conservative supposed pro-reform approach that has gone nowhere for their seven years in power and that would also likely require constitutional reform.

Trudeau’s reform looks at the Senate, and proposes an approach that will not tear it down, but make fair use of a second chamber. In the Westminster system, it would be anomalous not to have a second chamber. The direction suggested, a more merit-based approach is a good one that speaks to the times. This reform, as Trudeau is suggesting, could be infused with principles of merit, competency, and transparency, to bolster the credibility of the Liberal proposals. And this Liberal would suggest ensuring that the appointment process be free from an elite-based orientation.

To be sure, there will be wrinkles to iron out. Senator Campbell spoke to some of these today: He also questioned how the Senate will function in terms of their role in scrutinizing government legislation. He questioned, for instance, who will sit on committees and who will be named critics of which bills. 

Ensuring that the elected representatives’ will is carried out and without blockage, is another consideration to be grappled with. And perhaps with that consideration in mind, note Trudeau’s last line in his remarks today:

We want to build public institutions that Canadians can trust, and that serve Canadians. This requires real, positive change. These proposals are the next step in our Open Parliament plan to do just that.

They won’t be the last.

This may be a nod to the democratic reform resolution that the federal Liberal MP caucus has proposed as one of its priority resolutions to be voted upon at the upcoming February biennial policy convention in Montreal, less than a month away now. That resolution, Bolstering Canada’s Democracy, contains this operative proposal:

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT immediately after the next election, the Liberal Party of Canada institute an all-Party process, involving expert assistance and citizen participation, to report to Parliament within 12 months with analysis and recommendations for an electoral system including, without limitation, a preferential ballot and/or a form of proportional representation, to represent all Canadians more fairly and to allow Parliament to serve Canada better.

Senate reform without reform of our House of Commons would be incongruent. The above proposed resolution would be the beginning of addressing the imbalance that would result if the Senate were reformed without a similar effort being made in respect of the House of Commons. As bad as some of the practices and appointments connected to the Senate have been, the pressing need for reform lies in the House of Commons. Electoral reform to change the system in which we operate is one route. Michael Chong’s reform which accepts the system yet changes the rules is another. The good news is that reform in a big way is on the agenda for Canada.

Liberals are re-embracing reform as a mantle. All in all, a positive development today.

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