Wendesday Links Roundup 2/24/16

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 (matt@thealfalfafield.com), on Twitter (@thealfalfafield), or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/thalfalfafield). Also if yer not following me on Twitter and/or Facebook yet, get on that!

First of all, some tunes! This week, Bob Marley explains why y’all shouldn’t be snitches:

And we’ll kick this week off with a touching obituary: 35-year sermon of peace comes to end with White House protestor’s death (Waging Non-Violence) This woman’s incredible dedication is an inspiration.

Federal Politricks

Will Becoming Bernie Sanders Help Mulcair Keep His Job? (The Tyee) What a poser.

Federal government likely to hit target of 25,000 refugees this week (CBC) They will then immediately begin scaling down their intake of refugees. Mission accomplished, I guess?

Mike Duffy trial: Defence says case against senator was ‘manufactured’ (CBC) Ruling expected on April 21 – mark yr calenders all you #cdnpoli nerds!

Liberal MP’s bill proposes ‘Good Samaritan’ immunity during overdoses (CBC) Better than nothing, but I’d prefer full decriminalization of all drugs.

Bloc Québécois likely to wait until 2017 to replace Duceppe (CBC) Seems like they’re hoping the suspense will build hype. *yawn*

Sask. farmers call for return of Canadian Wheat Board (CBC) Some of Harper’s chickens coming home to roost already.

Living in a Petro-State

Chevron and TransCanada Oil/Gas Lines halted as First Nation Protects Generation’s Land (AnonHQ) On the Unist’ot’en encampment. Nothing new here, but good to see this camp getting continued attention.

Loonie campaign sticking it to Energy East pipeline (Metro Ottawa) Some positive coverage of an activist campaign against Energy East that involved defacing currency? In a TorStar paper?

The Battle for Site C

Site C Dam construction must be halted until B.C.’s Auditor General completes much-needed independent review, wide array of groups say (Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs) A thorough run-down.

Site C Dam Permits Quietly Issued During Federal Election (DeSmog) More Harper-era fuckery.

Crown land quietly offered to First Nations in return for Site C dam site (Globe and Mail) There’s some serious sneakiness surrounding this project!

B.C. Hydro seeks court injunction to remove Site C protesters (Globe and Mail) It’s an all-out assault – they really wanna get it done before next year’s B.C. election.

‘Remote’ chance Northern Gateway pipeline will begin this year, says Enbridge (Toronto Star) Yeah right.

Oil Collapse/Housing Bubble

Saudi oil minister’s message for high-cost crude producers: ‘get out’ of market (CBC) Our good buddies the Saudis!

Masters of War

Liberals didn’t sign off on Saudi arms sale but will let it stand, says Dion (CP) They also don’t “necessarily” approve of it, but $$$.

Saudis appear to be using Canadian-made combat vehicles against Yemeni rebels (The Globe and Mail) Man, the G&M is owning this story! Steven Chase keeps going hard after it, and keeps hitting on big scoops. Good on him.

City-made guns under scrutiny (Winnipeg Free Press) Apparently some guns that got sold to the Saudis are – shockingly! – being used in their brutal criminal war of aggression in Yemen. The guns were “intended for hunting and target shooting”, apparently. Really, what do people expect is going to be done with guns they sell to brutally repressive regimes with no respect for human rights?

Canadian arms trade much larger than data suggests, expert says (CBC) “”Nobody really knows what the true value of Canadian arms exports really is,” says Kenneth Epps, a policy adviser at the Ploughshares Project, a Waterloo, Ont.-based NGO that monitors Canada’s military industry.”

Our Glorious Non-Combat Operation

Defence chief denies tailoring combat definition to suit Liberal narrative (CP) “It’s non-combat if I say it’s non-combat – I’m the expert!”

Top Trudeau adviser blasted Harper for ‘tinkering’ with the definition of ‘combat’ before election (National Post) I fully expect the next four years to be full of stories like this.

Mulcair: Canada creeping further into combat role (Ottawa Citizen) Full text of his speech in the House.

Canada’s plan to back Kurdish fighters against ISIS could have unintended consequences (CBC) Ya think?

Canada’s training mission could lead to Kurdish independence: experts (The Globe and Mail) Well I doubt it could all by itself – the Kurds have been trying for decades to gain independence – but it could be a major aggravating factor.

Canada expected to intervene in Libya but experts disagree on how (CTV) No, you’re not having déja vu.

Budgetary Blues

Budget season is upon us, my friends!

Christy Clark’s Liberal government in British Columbia just tabled a “surplus” budget – although as we saw with last year’s federal budget (The Alfalfafield), slim surpluses can turn into deficits pretty darn quickly. Clark must be hoping that this one will hold up long enough for her to campaign on “the strongest economy in Canada” during next year’s provincial election. The budget is being slammed by progressives (The Tyee) for its increased reliance on working families to generate revenue (The Tyee again) and its reduced business taxes – and Clark is being slammed by Albertans for her gratuitous attack (The Globe and Mail) on Edmonton’s fiscal management in last week’s speech to the throne.

Meanwhile, in Ontario, another Liberal government is readying its latest budget – much earlier than usual (HuffPo Canada), for reasons of budgetary trickery. The big news so far is that the widely-hyped Ontario Pension Plan is having its launch delayed yet another year, and is now set to debut January 1, 2018. Finance Minister Charles Sousa (Toronto Star) insists that this is to give businesses more time to prepare for the changeover, but 2018 is an election year, and the Libs will be gunning for a fifth consecutive victory, so every major program they can roll out that year helps.

Yet another Liberal government, this one in Ottawa, is getting ready to launch its very first budget in the next several weeks, and federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau (the wealthiest member of Cabinet (Ottawa Citizen) and perhaps the wealthiest MP since Paul Martin resigned) is already doing his best to lower expectations. The Liberals, if you’ll recall, campaigned on a series of $10-billion deficits to fund infrastructure improvements, but given the massive collapse of the Canadian dollar since their election and the continued slump in oil markets, Morneau is now temporizing about exactly how big (Maclean’s) the deficit might wind up being. (When Conservative finance critic Lisa Raitt asked if the Liberals would consider going as high as $30-billion, he wouldn’t give her a straight answer.)

In an attempt to draw attention away from the situation, the Liberals recently released information that the Harper government had been determinedly withholding about the scale and scope of Conservative-era budget cuts (CBC). (The details are wonky, but for those of you who are interested, it’s a fascinating story!)

But of course, the biggest budgetary story of the week happened in Toronto, where there was high drama at City Hall as the largest municipal government in Canada fought over which departments would get squeezed the hardest.

The unequivocal winner of the week was the Toronto Police Services (TPS), which convinced councillors not to cut its bloated billion-dollar budget (Toronto Star) by a single penny at a time when all other municipal services are being asked to tighten their belts (Metro Toronto). TPS gets roughly one in every ten dollars the city spends and is by far the largest expense in the budget.

TPS was facing a potential cut of a mere $24 million to their ever-increasing budget, a token gesture put forward by councillor Michael Thompson, whom Mayor John Tory turfed from the police oversight board after the last election because of Thompson’s aggressive pursuit of cost-cutting and police accountability (Toronto Sar).

But the runners-up in the budget battle must surely be anti-poverty activists. The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) was masterful in its media management during the week leading up to the budget. The release of their latest report on the atrocious state of the shelter system in Toronto, Out In The Cold (OCAP), came just days before the budget debate and landed itself a spot on the front page of the Toronto Star.

Cop Watch

Whoa Nelly what a weird week it’s been in Policeland…

Allegations of sexual touching, bullying investigated at police college run by RCMP (CBC) Defies simple summary – truly bizarre, in a grotesque way. Content warning for sexual assault and harassment.

Latest RCMP harassment allegations an ’embarrassment,’ public safety minister says (CBC) Great action shot of Ralph Goodale pointing and shouting.

RCMP culture of bullying at root of harassment allegations, commissioner says (CBC) Bob Paulson uses the past tense (“we had a bullying problem”) and says that the organization’s long string of sexual harassment controversies “can’t be understood as a sexual harassment problem — sexual harassment has no place in the organization, don’t get me wrong — but it’s the culture of bullying and intimidation and general harassment which I think needs everyone’s focus and attention.”

Michael Thompson’s mistake? Challenging the police: James (Toronto Star) Thompson getting thrown under the bus at every opportunity by Tory.

Foreign Global Affairs

Controversial vote by McGill students supports BDS (Montreal Gazette) Spitting in the eye of McGill alum Justin Trudeau just one day after his government voted to formally condemn the BDS movement and anyone who promotes it.

Nine things Jason Kenney said during the BDS debate that should make you rage (rabble) That headline hit all the right clickbait notes for me – who doesn’t love raging at Jason Kenney?

Surveillance State

‘It’s impossible’ to know impact of CSE metadata glitch: commissioner (iPolitics) Bullshit, most likely, and if it’s true, then wow, they really don’t know what they’re doing. Their entire purpose is to gather and track information.

Spy agencies see sharp rise in number of Canadians involved in terrorist activities abroad (The Globe and Mail) See? Look at them gathering and tracking data! Also a whole lotta fear-mongering from Paulson and CSIS director Michael Coulombe.

Canada’s spies expecting a budget boost (Toronto Star) Right after a string of damaging scandals, they get more money? Another way in which the Trudeau Liberals are cut from the same cloth as the Harper Conservatives…

CSIS using new powers to disrupt terrorists since Bill C-51 became law (CBC) But, as per that law’s provisions, we’ll never know how. We only know that the powers have been used because Coulombe bragged about it in Parliament.

CSE can assist in ‘threat reduction’ without a warrant, documents show (Toronto Star) Scary stuff. But I worry the way these stories are being framed is laying the groundwork for a Parliamentary oversight committee as the “solution” to all our surveillance woes, when really we need to think a lot more radically:

The God that fails: C-51, review committees and the dangers of window dressing (rabble)

Secret Newsletter Shows How Canada’s Spies Deal With Facebook and Foreign Espionage (VICE) No smoking-gun scoops, but a neat window into a super-secret world.

The Climes They Are A-Changin’

The N.W.T. village set to run entirely on the sun this summer (CP) Highlights the precarious energy system in the North.

Canadians divided over human role in climate change, study suggests (CBC) A mere 61% of respondents believed the earth’s warming is partly or mostly because of human activities.

Tłı̨chǫ Caribou Report: Declining, Diseased, Dying (EdgeNorth) Evidence from the frontlines.

Racial Injustice

Canada’s prisons are the ‘new residential schools’ (Maclean’s) Damning, infuriating, compelling. This week’s must-read.

Black Lives Matter protestors ambush Mayor John Tory at reception (Toronto Star) Good. Hound him for his record on carding. Make him regret the choices he’s made.

Canada violates human rights, northern Ontario First Nations tell UN (CBC) No clean drinking water on reserves, sometimes for decades.

Ontario First Nation declares state of emergency after radioactive particles found in local water source (APTN) “In light of the Federal government’s plan to ensure clean drinking water for First Nations … we are living in third world conditions and it is just not acceptable. It is beyond Chief Comegan’s understanding that we can be forgotten by everyone”.

Alberta mother’s battle puts spotlight on First Nations medical care rejections (CBC) Health Canada is overruling doctors who call procedures medically necessary and denying Indigenous families the funding they need.

Right-Wing Extremism Is Thriving In Canada (VICE) All they need is a Trump to unite them…

Treatment of Inuit by Quebec justice system called ‘unacceptable’ by ombudsman (CBC) Atrocious prison conditions in Quebec’s north.

We Need Feminism Because…

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart wore same suit for 15 months and nobody noticed (CBC) Even his wife didn’t say anything about it!

The cowardly Jian and a better way to conduct sexual assault trials (National Observer) We know how to do better – so why don’t we?

Believe the Victims, Not The Pundits (Thoughts of an Unarmed Proletarian) Undermines all those straw-man “But this is the way the legal system works!” protestations brilliantly.

War on the Poor

Legal Weed is Bad for Poor People (CANADALAND) A must-listen. Andray Domise is refreshingly confrontational in an interview with Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith.

Ontario’s uncounted homeless dead (Toronto Star) Great read.

Secrecy around homeless deaths is grotesque because so many are preventable (rabble) Likewise. Great to see this issue getting so much attention at the moment – big props to OCAP for continuing to drive the discussion on this in the GTA.

CP Rail acted in bad faith when firing this conductor after Banff derailment: arbitrator (Calgary Herald)

Manitoba Hydro’s privatization of Nigeria’s power grid would be illegal in home province (rabble) A truly bizarre story – you couldn’t make this stuff up.

Victims left exposed in wage-theft war (Toronto Star) This is a huge problem and people don’t have any meaningful recourse.

Victoria tent city campers call in reinforcements for eviction day (CTV) They were still there as of yesterday evening.

Solidarity Watch

Students Against the Statue Project (Facebook) just declared victory in their campaign to get statues of genocidal Prime Ministers removed from Laurier University! Way to go folks!!!

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