Monthly Archives: May, 2015

#BreakC51 – why mass civil disobedience is logically the next step

The club is all their law – stand up now, stand up now!
The club is all their law! Stand up now!

The Diggers’ Song, 17th-century English protest ballad

As was widely expected, Bill C-51 passed its third reading in the House of Commons last night. All that remains are the largely pro forma rituals of Senate approval and royal assent, and this hideous bill will become the law of the land.

For those who have been backpacking in bush country since the winter, Bill C-51 will radically expand the legal definition of terrorism to include any activity that “undermines the sovereignty, security or territorial integrity of Canada or the lives or the security of the people of Canada,” including: “Interference with the capability of the Government of Canada in relation to intelligence, defence, border operations, public safety, the administration of justice, diplomatic or consular relations, or the economic or financial stability of Canada.”

It also gives CSIS and the RCMP expanded police powers; this CBC article summarizes them in detail, but the new powers include lowering the threshold for arresting suspected “terrorists”, criminalizing the “promotion of terrorism”, allowing CSIS to “disrupt” suspected “terrorist” activity (without oversight), authorizing courts to remove “terrorist material” from the internet, allowing for secret court proceedings, and expanding the “no-fly” list.

Given the impossibly open-ended definition of terrorism promulgated in this bill, it’s easy to see the potential for abuse. Continue Reading

A close reading of Prime Minister Harper’s absurdly jingoistic speech to the troops in Kuwait

I’m hoping to do an update later tonight/tomorrow on the likely passage of Bill C-51, but I came across this video and it was too good to resist.

I wish I had stumbled across this while preparing yesterday’s post, but oh well, here it is now – Stephen Harper addressing the troops in Kuwait during his recent super-stealthy secret surprise visit to the front lines of the war non-combat operation against ISIS.

I retrieved the full transcript from the Prime Minister’s website, but I wasn’t able to find a full video of the speech. Do check out the link above for the abridged CP video, though – Harper’s tone of voice is priceless, like that of a pompous vice-principal addressing a high school graduation ceremony with the same tired platitudes he’s been recycling for decades.

What I’d like to do with this little gem of an address is to pick it apart, piece by piece, annotating any points of interest we come across. It’s an approach I first saw used by the incomparable Lambert Strether over at Naked Capitalism; check out, by way of example, this lovely takedown of Marco Rubio’s announcement that he was running for president, and the surprising amount of insight it yields into the man and his motives.

I lack Mr Strether’s firm command of the technical vocabulary of rhetoric (as well as his colorful collection of magic markers), but I know bullshit when I smell it, and this speech is full of it.

Let’s dive in, shall we? Continue Reading

News from the frontlines of Canada’s glorious non-combat operation

The release of the federal budget two weeks ago unofficialy ushered in Campaign Season 2015, marking the beginning of posturing and jockeying for headlines and advantage.

The HarperCons did their damndest to hammer home the notion that they’re strong stewards of the economy, despite the fact that the economy has pretty much been shit the whole time they’ve been in power and they had to essentially cook the books to get to a surplus.

Pundits responded to the government’s surplus triumphalism with a pretty big “meh.”

Trudeau’s Liberals countered by announcing the Very Exciting News that barely-out-of-office ex-chief of police Bill Blair was going to run for Parliament.

The announcement didn’t go over quite as well as the Libs had hoped, what with all the awkward questions about the G20 (and Trudeau declaring that it wasn’t his place to judge the arbitrary detaining of 1100 people, the atrocious conditions in which they were held, the horrific violence visited upon peaceful protestors and innocent bystanders, or really any of the TPS’ questionable conduct during the 2010 summit).

Then there was the spotlight that it shone on Trudeau’s repeatedly broken promise to allow open nominations in every riding, with even the hapless National Post poking fun at the Liberaleader.

Which is to say that so far, Campaign 2015 has been going pretty poorly for the two heavyweight parties so far. And with a near-tie in the most recent polls, both were looking for some kind of action.

Continue Reading

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