Wednesday Links Roundup 2/17/2016

Readers – if you come across any stories you think ought to be included in next week’s links round-up, please send them my way by email (, on Twitter (@thealfalfafield), or on Facebook ( Also if yer not following me on Twitter and/or Facebook yet, get on that!

First of all, some tunes! How about some classic ukulele strumming?

And for our must-read link of the week, I can’t encourage you strongly enough to check out this masterpiece of email fraud: Nigerian astronaut lost in space needs $3m to get home

Federal Politricks

From lofty language to gritty reality: Trudeau’s deficit problem (iPolitics) Laziest most played-out lede ever, but solid analysis.

Number of restricted guns in Canada shot up during Harper’s government (iPolitics) And that was directly due to Harper’s policies.

Provincial Politricks

B.C. throne speech cites Alberta as example of how not to run a province (CBC) Wait, what? Can Christy Clark sink no lower?

B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s Alberta bashing latest sign of Canada’s disintegration (Edmonton Journal) She seriously got the Lieutenant-Governor to spend a bunch of the speech “gleeful[ly] gloating over Alberta’s current economic woes”? #classy

Dismayed by Resource Royalty Inaction, Alberta Unions Learn Tough Lesson (The Tyee) That lesson is that you can’t trust the NDP to follow through on their promises.

Foreign Global Affairs

Selling armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia: a Canadian tradition (iPolitics) Great detailed history, going back to the days when Joe Clark had Stéphane Dion’s job.

Saudi arms deal exempt from global treaty, Ottawa says (Globe and Mail) Literally you can’t make this shit up. This is ridiculous. It’s nakedly all about the money, that’s all there is to it.

Canada to fight for lives of citizens sentenced to death in all countries, including the U.S. (National Post) This is a reversal of the Harper regime’s position. Although ironically, it’s Stéphane “We’re Exempt From Arms Treaties” Dion who’ll be doing the advocating.

Oil Collapse/Housing Bubble

They’re more intertwined than a lot of folks think…

Average house price in Canada up 17% in January to $470,297 (CBC) When you drill into the details, most of the increase is in – surprise! – Toronto and Vancouver, and if you exclude B.C. and Ontario entirely, average prices dropped slightly.

B.C. Affordable Housing Investment Is Single Largest In Provincial History (CP) This is Christy Clark we’re talking about, though, so I’d recommend reading the fine print carefully before breaking out the bubbly. In fact, here’s what a member of her government had to say on the subject of affordable housing:

MLA says he can’t afford to live in Vancouver, and neither should you (Metro) He earns $103 000/year, and couldn’t afford a condo downtown, and says – with a straight face! – that that’s not a problem, that people shouldn’t feel entitled to live in Van. Just go live in Abbotsford or Hope or Aggasiz instead.

Our Glorious Non-Combat Operation

End NATO Now: “An Insanity That’s Driving the World Inexorably Toward World War III” (Global Research) A military alliance in search of a purpose is a dangerous beast.

NATO raises stakes in power game with Moscow (Toronto Star) See?

Canadian groups report allegations of Yazidi ‘massacre’ in Iraq (Toronto Star) If true, the atrocities outlined here are awful.

Mason: Let’s leave this ill-considered military mission altogether (Ottawa Citizen) Yes please! Makes the point that the coalition is in disarray and doesn’t really know what it’s trying to do.

Power Play: Will Troops Make Matters Better? (CTV) Elizabeth May on the updated not-war plan.

Livin’ in a Petro-State

Natural resources minister addressed First Nations Forum on Energy (National Observer) Meaningful consultation, social license, etc. Standard boilerplate from Jim Carr.

Pipeline projects need ‘indigenous license’, says AFN National Chief (CBC) But of course he favours pipelines generally – and in language almost indistinguishable from the Liberal government! It’s almost like they coordinated their messaging…

Pipeline giant explores new strategy to win social licence, after posting huge losses (National Observer) That’d be TransCanada. Man, they’re using the whole “social license”/grassroots communication/First Nations consultation angle too? What an unexpected and totally coincidental coincidence!

The debate over Energy East could pit Liberals against Liberals – again (CBC) Éric Grenier digs into the statistics behind the contention.

Scotiabank CEO backs Energy East, says it deserves federal investment (CP) This isn’t the first time Brian Porter has stuck his nose into the national energy infrastructure debate, pretending to be a disinterested expert when in fact he’s in charge of a bank which has a massive vested interest here, and a lot of money on the line that they stand to lose if none of these projects move forward.

The Conservatives’ Rhetoric on Pipelines is a Blast From the Past (HuffPo) Reminiscent of the bad old days of the Canadian Alliance, when the party was a Western-centric joke.

As oilsands punished, tanker loads of cheap Saudi oil sail into Canadian ports daily (Financial Post) The FP tries to make the case that it’s hypocritical to rely on Saudi oil, when it’s tarnished by their awful human rights record, when we have our own oil here that we’re not willing to build pipelines for. And they’re half-right – Saudi oil ought to have no place here. Which is why we need to move to a fossil-fuel-free economy as quickly as possible.

Should Taxpayers Be On The Hook For Cleaning Up Saskatchewan’s Abandoned Oil And Gas Wells? (deSmog) Um, no?

Peter Hadekel: Quebec just doesn’t need more oil (Montreal Gazette) Argues that Quebec doesn’t need Energy East…because now it’s got Line 9. *facepalm*

UBC board of governors votes against divestment from fossil fuel industry (CP) Students voted 77% in favour of divestment, and faculty voted 62% in favour. The BoG passed a face-saving “low-carbon investment fund” initiative instead, but student activists immediately started calling out the greenwashing effort, claiming there are indications that coal investments will be included in the fund.

Corporate Corruption

Drug companies wine and dine family physicians (Toronto Star) This practice is sanctioned by the College of Family Physicians of Canada

5 ideas that could help Canada Post stay viable (Toronto Star) Neoliberal profiteering – charge people for the privilege of delivery, reduce the frequency and quality of service, allow more competition, or just privatize the whole damn thing.

Mass UberX protest by Montreal taxis sparks official calls to suspend app (CBC) And guess what? The protest worked!

Cop Watch

RCMP working to rebuild relationship with Indigenous peoples (Toronto Star) Sounds mostly like a PR exercise – there’s nothing mentioned about holding racist cops accountable for the shit they’ve done/are still doing.

Indigenous families call police investigations inadequate as MMIW pre-inquiry talks wrap (CBC) The ministers in charge of the inquiry heard from a lot of people about their deep mistrust of the police.

Anthony Heffernan, Dave McQueen both shot by same Calgary police officer (CBC) He hadn’t been cleared in the first killing, but was still on active duty.

RCMP Training In Kitimat (CFNR-FM) Interesting…

Deputy Chief Peter Sloly steps down from Toronto police following criticism of force (Global News) Not exactly a surprise – he raised a lot of eyebrows a few weeks back when he suggested the police budget should be *gasp* cut drastically.

Sloly was too smart and progressive for his own good: James (Toronto Star) I dunno about progressive b/c ACAB, but it’s important to remember that ACAB =/= all cops are exactly the same.

Police Mistake Penis For A Weapon (Q107) True story!

Racial Justice

Canada wants First Nation people to sell land for cheap and give up their rights (The Guardian) From last August. Provides context for this:

Secwepemc ‘women warriors’ stop treaty vote, force RCMP to release detained man (APTN) Hard-friggin’-core.

Hajdu says number of murdered and missing indigenous women could be 4,000 (iPolitics) That’s more than triple the RCMP’s official estimate; the undercounting is in large part due to underreporting, which in turn is largely due to mistrust of the police.

Beausoleil First Nation Risks Losing Aging Ferry, Its Lifeline To The Mainland (CP) One example among many of crumbling infrastructure on First Nations land.

Right-wing extremist groups ‘prevalent’ across Canada, study warns (National Post) But they aren’t considered terrorists, says CSIS.

The Climes They Are A-Changin’

Naomi Klein: “There are no non-radical options left before us” (Salon) So…smashy-smashy?

An east-west power grid, Canada’s elusive national dream (CBC) The subhead says it all: “Inter-provincial strategy would help environment, but political will could be lacking”.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announces 20 municipal green grants, loans (CBC) What’s that? $31.5 million in investment? Sorry, I was just over here dropping my jaw over the $34 billion in annual subsidies the government gives the oil and gas industry…

Ahead of climate talks, Canada’s North feels the toughest impacts (iPolitics) Textbook example of environmental racism.


Kael McKenzie sworn in as 1st transgender judge in Canada (CBC) He’s also Métis!

UBC students feel unsafe after Pride flag burned on campus (VanCity Buzz) OUTWeek’s Fuck the Cis-tem March was cancelled as a result.

Black Lives Matter Toronto Will Lead 2016 Pride Parade In June (HuffPo) Good! Keep politics in Pride!

Trans Activists, Don’t Throw Mad People Under The Bus! (Feministing) A must-read.

Surveillance State

What happens when our spies break the law? Nothing, apparently. (iPolitics) Andrew Mitrovica wants to call in the RCMP on CSIS. Nice idea in theory, but the institutional ties between the two are so deep and complicated (and each of them has so much dirt on the other) that it’s hard to see that working out especially well.

War on the Poor

Packed Toronto shelter system poised for breakdown: Report (Toronto Star) The report is from OCAP, which has been indefatigable on this issue. Three years ago this week I participated in a sit-in they organized outside of then-mayor Rob Ford’s office which drew attention to this exact same issue; today they’re meeting at City Hall to once again petition the municipal government to do something about the atrocious state of Toronto’s shelter system. (Check out this status update from OCAP’s John Clarke to get an idea of how abysmal things are for homeless folks on cold nights like we had this past week.)

Start prison-based needle and syringe programs, researchers suggest (Toronto Star) Sounds to me more like they’re strongly urging it. HIV and Hep-C rates in prisons are 10 to 30 times higher than among the general population.

The stage is now set for a basic income for all (Toronto Star) This idea is gaining so much momentum so damn fast – I just hope it kicks in soon so I can quit my job! 😉

The Tee-Pee-Pee

Trans-Pacific Partnership, Snake-Oil Salesmen and Liars (Ecocide Alert) The Canadian government’s position is that ISDS provisions won’t impair their ability to implement regulations. Which is, technically speaking, bullshit.

Trans-Pacific Partnership to stall climate change action (The Saturday Paper) Australian, but extremely germane.

Ford Canada CEO to raise concerns over Trans-Pacific Partnership with Ottawa (CP) Not all of the country’s heavyweights are behind the deal…

Can we trust you to do the right thing on the TPP deal? (Cowichan Valley Citizen) An open letter to the Prime Minister? More of this kind of thing please!

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