A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
Contact us at democracyunderfire@gmail.com

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Demise of Democracy

A recent post by Owen over at Northern Reflections brought my attention to this highlighting an “investigation” by a long time former MP.

Both major parties have made a mockery of Canada’s electoral system, which was on its sickbed when the Liberals came to power. It’s now on life support — according to the investigations of former Liberal MP Paul Szabo.

According to Szabo, the Liberal Party thwarts local voters to cherry-pick its chosen nominees. The campaign expense reports of some of those nominees are often late, incomplete and perhaps even illegal. Worse, many of the memberships that secured the nomination for one candidate over others were allegedly fraudulent. “

There is little doubt that the whole system by which candidates are selected is being 'gamed' by most, if not all, political partys.

What Szabo has flagged in the federal system — the undemocratic and even potentially illegal manipulation of the nomination process — is raging at the provincial level as well. As Ontario gears up for its next election, PC leader Patrick Brown is knee-deep in charges of skullduggery bordering on corruption.
His party’s nomination system has been rife with ballot stuffing, fake memberships, fake membership forms, people registered without their knowledge, payment or permission, as well as cheating so egregious that it elicited a rebuke from one of the staunchest Tories of them all: former Conservative Senator Marjory LeBreton.”

The series of (lets be nice and call them) negative ad's currently being aired in Ontario from various political partys and their supporters does nothing to make me think that the final results are not being manipulated by those with the resources to 'buy' our election process.

Ultimately, what Szabo is addressing is nothing less than the demise of democracy. From the selection of party nominees through to election of our public officials, the will of the people has been reduced to the predatory manipulations of a few.
Whether it’s the PMO pulling strings to get its cronies nominated, a band of unscrupulous partisan techies suppressing the vote by robocalls, or a lazy and ineffective Elections Canada cutting slack when it should be bringing down the hammer on miscreants, we are not headed to a good place.”

The old adage from historian and moralist known simply as Lord Acton back in the 1800s comes to mind ....: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The ease with which large portions of our population can be 'manipulated' via various on line media by those with almost unlimited resources to do so should concern us all!

Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Is Facebook a threat to democracy?

Regular readers of this blog / forum (all two or three of you) will know I am no great fan of Facecrap and in fact do not subscribe to it and so my concerns are based upon second hand reports and observations, however this article shows others more knowledgeable have similar concerns.

Taylor Owen an assistant professor of Digital Media at UBC writes “The Facebook model has also incentivized the spread of low-quality clickbait over high-quality information, enabled a race to the bottom for monetized consumer surveillance.........”

“A key feature of the platform is that each user sees a personalized news feed chosen for them by Facebook. This microtargeting enables buyers to define audiences in racist, bigoted and otherwise highly discriminatory ways......” This type of misinformation is not eclusive to Facecrap, in point of fact almost any information obtained on the internet must be viewed with the source in mind, even reading the morning news on line reveals the wide variety of sources and often misleading or outright deliberate misinformation out there. Even with 'ad block' enabled many platforms find ways to bombard you with 'opinion' peices and unrequested content.

“The Facebook system is also a potent political weapon....... Bloomberg reported that in the final weeks of the U.S. election, Facebook and Google employees collaborated with extreme activist groups to help them microtarget divisive ads to swing-state voters...... content regularly goes viral regardless of its quality or veracity, disorienting and misleading huge audiences.” That a total moron like Trump can be elected to a suposedly democratic country like the U.S. of Eh clearly demonstrates the “power” of the internet and how spin doctors can sway public opinion and “buy” an election!

“How exactly should the Canadian government (or for that matter any govenment) protect the integrity of the next federal election, in which interest groups, corporations, foreign actors and political campaigns may all run hundreds of thousands, or millions, of simultaneous microtargeted ads a day? “ Thats a damned good question and one which I fear there is no good answer to given the prevalance of “social media” and the ease and speed with which 'news' (truthfull and accurate or otherwise) can be spread.

With so many people “communicating” via Facecrap and other “social media” there is a great deal of pressure to join the crowd in order to “talk” to friends and other who are not avalable on line by other means but this old fart will continue to avoid the temptation!

Mr Owen's full article may be read at https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/is-facebook-a-threat-to-democracy/article36661905/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&
Readers CAN comment on my remarks via the blogger comment link at the bottom of the page......

Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Grey Bruce Area Heath Care

Previously published at 'The Rural Canadian'
This year has been a bit traumatic for both myself and some other family members health wise, non of us had previously not had much to do with hospitals and associated heath services till this year so it was mostly a learning experience. Being aware of horror stories detailing waits of many hours to get attended to I wish to tell the other side of the story that we have experienced in recent months.

In my own case, as briefly mentioned in a previous post back in May I had a stroke and it was touch and go there for a bit (or so I am told, I was out of it) and whilst there is little doubt that the emergency staff and doctors who treated me in those first few hours saved my life it is the nursing staff and other 'health professionals' I am going to highlight in this article. Whilst the Doctors no doubt have a large amount of input into ones care it is the nurses and other 'health professionals' that provide the hands on care and interact with us when we need care, my experience with these folks have, with very few exceptions, been outstanding! Not only was the actual nursing care in the ICU provided in a competent, caring and (most important and under rated quality) friendly manner and the same was true of the various heath advisors who visited during my recovery, the recovery assessors, dietary and lifestyle information specialists and so on. In hospital is not a place where any of us (particularity those previously healthy, or so I thought) wish to be but apart from being challenged by the food choices (I am a vegetarian which it turned out was a good thing as I lost several pounds which I actually needed to loose during the stay) it was not a bad experience considering the circumstances. I am howeverglad that I had a quick, almost miraculous recovery and was able to come directly home after leaving the ICU.

After this scare and having not seen a family doctor for many years we then went looking for someone to fill this role. Having 'regestered' with the Markdale South East Grey Community Health Centre a couple of years ago but never having gone any further (not having needed their services till now) we made an apointmet to see one of their 'Nurse Practitioners' and were pleasently surprised to learn that they held a 'clinic' at the nearby Chatsworth Township office two days a week. After recieving care and advice from the NP and Nurse at said clinic for severak months now I am pleased to report that we could not have found a better couple of proffesionals to attend to our medical needs. The friendly and accomidating staff have made an otherwise stressfull situation almost pleasant which given my record of avoiding doctors and check ups is quite something!

A cousin has had a similar experience with the VON nursing organization, receiving care and advice several times a week in her own home in Wiarton regarding problems arising from a past minor injury turned septic and poor circulation. Needing additional treatment she was referred to the Tobermoury Hyperbaric facility where she received intense but similar friendly and outstanding care over a number of weeks. Perhaps I was put off by stories of long waits and seemingly uncaring assessments told by others who attending a hospital emergency department but our experience with these particular heath professionals has been has been nothing but good. I do note here that unless one identifies an urgent situation or is already receiving ongoing care it is often hard to see a doctor or NP in a timely manner, typical appointments can be weeks or even months ahead, even longer if referred to a 'specialist', my thought has always been 'if I can wait for weeks to come see you then perhaps I do not need to see you at all!'. A little cynical perhaps and given recent history I SHOULD have made that move several years ago, a near death experience can result in a change in perspective eh!

Whilst I will not identify the particular individuals I have spoken about in this post I would like to give the following heath care professionals a hearty thanks and a 'well done and keep up the good work'. You know who you are........

Thanks to
The nursing and support staff at the Owen Sound ICU unit.
The South East Grey Community Health Centre Nurses and Nurse Practitioners and staff.
The Victorian Order of Nurses Grey Bruce Nurses and support staff
The Tobermoury Hyperbaric Facility Doctor and staff.

PS. Yes I am fully recovered and my cousin is making good progress. Perhaps this winter I will resume my commentary here at Democracy Under Fire! Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers