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, September 29, 2019

Intent V Reality

The over the top coverage of the dress and makeup of a young fellow at a party some 20 years ago has reached the point of a media frenzy, whilst our society clearly needs a discussion about how we treat and view individuals who look or dress different from ourselves, the current media frenzy is motivated almost exclusively by political opportunists. Does anyone really believe that these obscure pictures were 'accidentally' found by someone who was genuinely concerned with the appearance of someone who is now almost two decades later in the public eye and were publicised just before said individual is up for reelection? Or is it more probable that one or more (and I think we know which 'one) political opponent was busy searching for something, anything, to spin the media coverage and public opinion to their advantage?

This whole discussion should NOT be about how we look or dress but how we ACT in our daily interaction with others, if our actions towards others is questionable it is the INTENT that needs to be examined not necessarily the perception given by the actions. Is a woman who wears a headscarf in the rain mocking one who wears a head covering for religious belief? I dont think so! On the other hand someone who takes to the streets to oppose immigration by those whos ethnic background is not the same as their own is clearly 'racist', dressing up as someone who looks different from ourselves at a party may be questionable given the sensitivity of such issues nowadays but circumstances must be examined. Are we to now to start being 'politically correct' and more closely examine our kids Halloween costumes for fear that our neighbours may be offended, where do YOU draw the line.

Perhaps the words of Calgary’s Muslim mayor Naheed Nenshi says it best …..
“I’m. “Canadians cannot stand on moral high ground calling out leaders for offensive things they did, years ago, if we’re not also willing to stand up to the racist and discriminatory behaviour that is directly in front of our faces in 2019,” He referred to the law in Quebec that bans some public sector employees from wearing religious symbols during work hours. “I, as a Muslim man, could hold any job I want, but under this law, a Muslim woman who covers with a headscarf cannot,” 

It is NOT about how we look or dress (except perhaps in Quebec) but how we treat others that may be a little different from what we are used to, its about respect towards others INCLUDING those with differing political views ….. enough said!

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Sunday, September 15, 2019

The ABC Dilemma ….again

As 'be counted' day approaches each of us of voting age must decide which 'party' to vote for, yes I know we do not vote for the party but for an individual who 'represents' (or more correctly is a member of) said political party. Lets face it the whole idea that we are voting for an individual is becoming more and more of a farce each time an election comes around be it federal or provincial, the 'party' the 'leader' and the back room boys of said party have all the power and for the most part our individual MPs have very little influence in what is said and done in their name by that inner group.

Cynical you say, perhaps so but when we see 'leaders' (of all stripes) dictating who and who cannot run under their banner even after the local Electoral District Association has selected and endorsed a candidate, when even the smallest long past comment is grounds for 'the party' rejecting a candidates ability to run under their banner, then perhaps my initial thoughts above are not so far wrong. Let he who is without fault cast the first stone is perhaps the appropriate comment here!

This leaves those of us who intend to vote on Oct 21st in a bit of a dilemma, do we vote for that local candidate who we like and trust but who has little chance of getting elected, do we vote for the 'next best' candidate who has a better chance 'representing us'? Do we vote for an individual we dislike and distrust but whose party is our preferred choice of government or do we vote to reduce the chances of a party we don't want to see in power from having one more MP in the house and possibly gaining power.

This latter choice is then where the heading for this piece comes from ABC ….. Anyone But Conservative ….. Long time readers will know that this blog was originally started to highlight and document the previous conservative government of Stephen Harper attacks on our democracy. Whilst I have attempted to highlight issues that jeopardise our democracy by any and all partys I cannot help but say that I still think that the conservative mind set as evidenced by the Frord regime here in Ontario is the greatest danger to it. That Scheer seems to want nothing to do with his Ontario counterpart kinda says it all in my mind, there may be a bit of a divide between provincial and federal politics but I see little difference in the ideological beliefs of the various leaders or would be leaders.

In May of this year I wrote “Frankly the thought of Ford in control of our province scares the living shit out of me, I am firmly convinced that he will do and say anything to gain power, nothing he says can be taken at face value.......” That assessment has been proven to be correct and I can but hope that we don't get to see if indeed Mr Scneer is cut from the same cloth!

I still don't know if I will be voting for my local candidate, the party of choice (both Green at this point) or strategically to stop the Frord want to be. Stay tuned.......

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Sunday, September 8, 2019

Rural Election Coverage Disappearing

National media coverage of rural Canada during elections is thin, and local outlets are disappearing. The overall quality of Canadian debate suffers.” So says Barry Wilson in the online magazine policyoptions.irpp.org as a long time rural resident myself I cannot help but agree and so will highlight a few of Mr Wilsons valid points below, the link above will take you to the full article.

Reaching voters thinly spread across large areas with often-poor internet connectivity can be a daunting and expensive task. But rural voters represent a powerful electoral force. When the voter base in a constituency is just a fraction the size of densely populated urban ridings, winning over an individual rural voter can carry more election-day weight than garnering the support of three or four urban voters.

Certainly its harder for candidates to get their message out in rural areas be it via the internet or in person due to both the distances involved and the reduced communications infrastructure however I disagree that the voter base size has much impact. A quick look at the chart of voter populations vs individual riding reveals that there is little correlation within each province, there is a difference between provinces however with the less populated provinces having as much as half the number of voters per riding.

However, if election coverage in 2019 follows the well-established historic pattern, rural issues and analysis will receive scant detailed attention.... Besides, national election outcomes rarely are decided in rural Canada, and a commitment to spend limited resources on expensive, in-depth rural issues research is a hard sell. For rural voters, the scant coverage of their issues means their infrastructure, income or market access concerns will lack the broader political attention needed....

Even the rural candidates themselves rarely talk much about 'local' issues the order of the day for most candidates be in in rural areas or larger centers seems to be regurgitating the party line of their particular 'leader'. Given that said 'leader' (or more accurately his handlers) 'vetted' said candidate before letting him stand under their polotical banner this is hardly surprising!

Meanwhile, the challenges and costs of investing in infrastructure and services for low-density populations spread over vast distances add complexities that do not exist when programs are delivered to concentrated urban areas.
The reality is that the per capita costs of providing services in rural areas is far higher than providing comparable services in urban areas and the political payback is less because there are fewer people benefiting,”

Its the old story, the squeaky wheel get the grease and noises from rural areas seem to get lost in the cacophony issuing from urban populations.

The local community paper, although an increasingly rare breed, is the best vehicle for covering local issues, and people read it cover to cover,” he told me. “Urban outlets try, but they quickly find rural issues are complicated, demands and needs are different than in urban ridings and reporters don’t have the background.”
A factor in the limitations of rural election coverage is the steady erosion of rural media outlets and independent voices. As in urban Canada, the number of rural media outlets is falling, centralized ownership is increasing and newsroom budgets are tightening.

The erosion of rural media outlets and independent voices.....” The 'erosion' hardly covers it, how about the elimination? Sure there are paper published is some larger rural communities but they are by enlarge owned by and much of the content 'controlled' by multinational newspaper chains. The truly independent LOCAL paper is a rare breed indeed, as is LOCAL online community news coverage (although I see some encouraging developments of 'citizen run initiatives' in this area). Is it little wonder that rural issues receive so little attention.

One final note here about what is meant by 'rural', Statscan defines it as settlements of under 1000 folks or with less than 400 folks per sq km which certainly does not include many areas in 'rural riding's' which include many communities defined as Rural and Small Town having less than 100,000 occupants which then included small cities which clearly are not rural. In short its hard to say what is and is not a 'rural riding' and even harder to separate issues of 'small town' residents from those from true 'rural' folks, each with somewhat different issues that need addressing. Is it any wonder that someone elected to represent this diverse population at a legislature overwhelming comprised of 'big city folks' has difficultly getting anyone to understand the various complexities of rural communities!

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Sunday, September 1, 2019

Take a deep breath ....whilst you still can.

On the day Premier Doug Ford pulled Ontario out of an international clean energy trading market, it spelled the end for 227 emissions-reducing projects across the province, reveals a leaked document....It is but a small example of the short term thinking and anti green mindset of the Frord regime.

According to the leaked document, in Ontario, the money was set to fund 120 commuter cycling programs (each worth $25,000) in 120 jurisdictions across the province. It was set to help develop 41 green social housing programs, and 20 improvement or retrofit projects for social housing apartments. It was also going to go toward 11 electric vehicle charging stations and one electric-bus pilot in the city of Brampton (Canada's ninth largest city).....

According to the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO), whose office the Ford government shuttered earlier this year, cap and trade raised almost $2.9 billion in government revenues from six auctions since January 2017 — $2.4 billion up to March 31, 2018, and $472 million in the final May 2018 joint auction with California and Quebec. The money was tracked in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account (GGRA) and used to “fund, directly or indirectly, costs relating to initiatives … that are reasonably likely to reduce, or support the reduction of greenhouse gas.”.........

In California, cap and trade funds have been collected from polluters and spent to slash greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, the state spent US$1.4 billion on such efforts, investing in everything from electric cars, solar panels and clean energy transit lines. These programs have helped clean the air of pollution that makes people sick — reducing particulate emissions by 474 tons in 2018. The fund is also being used to reduce the amount of water that Californians use and to plant millions of trees...........

In Ontario, the cancellation of cap and trade is shown as lost revenue in the Ford government's first budget. It is mentioned only four times in the 382-page financial document, with few details about where the cap and trade funds the government had in its coffers had been spent. (In previous interviews, Ministry of Environment spokespeople have said the remaining money in the cap and trade coffer will allocated for "wind-down costs.").....

The preceding is just a few highlights from an article published a few weeks ago which can be seen in full at https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/07/09/news/exclusive-doug-ford-didnt-tell-you-ontario-cancelled-227-clean-energy-projects

Add to this Jason Kenney’s (tax payer funded) inquiry into that “foreign-funded defamation campaign” against Alberta’s fossil fuel industry and you can clearly see that the right wing oil (tar) lovers are in full cry! (see https://albertapolitics.ca/2019/07/albertas-foreign-funded-fossil-fuel-defamation-inquisition-stand-by-for-an-expensive-gong-show/)

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