Wednesday Links Roundup 2/3/16

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 off, some tunes:

And we’ll lead things off today with some gallows humour: Scientists reveal they accidentally forgot to adjust Doomsday Clock for Daylight Savings Time (The Beaverton)

Federal Politricks

Kenney tweets defence of ‘English to English’ heckle of Sajjan (CBC) Stay classy, Jason.

‘Unacceptable’ if Liberals back down on CBC budget promise: Mulcair (CP) Libs are looking waffly on this major campaign pledge – and the CBC has been playing so nice! Just look at that “ordinary Canadians” Trudeau interview puff-piece they put together last week:

Justin Trudeau’s Government-by-Empathy (iPolitics) I may damn this government frequently for its prioritization of style over substance, but I gotta admit, they really do have style.

Monsef says Canada can do better than first-past-the-post (The Globe and Mail) But doesn’t specify what exactly that might be. At some point this government will have to stop making a virtue out of not having (publicly) made up its mind.

Oil Collapse/Housing Bubble

CMHC flags housing market risks in Toronto, Saskatoon, Regina (CBC) Crucially, the CMHC also points out that along with too-high prices, there’s major overbuilding, something any construction-weary Torontonian who can’t catch sight of the lake for all the condos in the way could’ve told you.

And in case you think I’ve forgotten Vancouver…New property listed in Point Grey, Vancouver West, 4453 14TH AVE W in Vancouver, $2,398,000 (The Kavanagh Group) Seriously, look at the pic of this house.

Alberta Loses Most Jobs in 34 Years as Oil Crunch Cripples Labor Market (ZeroHedge) Suicide rates up 30%, bank robberies up 65%, home breaking-and-entry up 52%, double-digit food price inflation – add all that on to the highest levels of personal debt in Canada and you’ve got a recipe for disaster brewing out west.

Nervous Canadians hoarding record amounts of money – in cash (Toronto Star) The chief economist for CIBC, Benjamin Tal, thinks all those folks are fools for not plowing their money back into the markets…

Canada’s GDP grows by 0.3% in November (CBC) First time there was growth in three months, and it amounted to basically a rounding error that could be wiped out when the numbers get updated later. We may not be in a recession, technically, but seven out of the last eleven months for which we have data have had no or negative growth, and the highest total all last year was June’s 0.4%.

Livin’ in a Petro-State

Nunavut Inuit join Chippewas in bid for joint hearing at Supreme Court (Nunatsiaq Online) This could wind up being one of the most important Supreme Court cases of the decade.

Over 70 groups urge Justin Trudeau to reject new pipelines (National Observer) Although there were some big names left off the list – now that there are governments in Ottawa and Edmonton willing to at least take some action on climate change, however symbolic and half-assed, it looks like the environmental activist community is dividing into collaborationists and confrontationalists. For instance, ForestEthics Advocacy, Environmental Defence and the Pembina Institute were three prominent green groups which didn’t sign the letter, and, not coincidentally, all three worked with the Alberta government to help craft its woefully inadequate compromise-laden “climate change plan” which allows for significant tar sands expansion and pipeline construction. (To be fair, Equiterre, which was also involved in those behind-closed-doors negotiations with the Alberta government and the O&G industry, did sign the letter.)

Psst, Trudeau: IMF Now Pegs Our Fossil Fuel Subsidies at $46 Billion (The Tyee) And a massive $5.3 trillion USD globally, or 6.5% of the world’s GDP, goes to fossil fuel subsidies.

Liberals resist Conservative calls to show their cards on pipeline approvals (Metro News) Bad headline – actually about the Iroquois Caucus’s decision to formally announce their opposition to Energy East literally one day before PMJT announced new pipeline review guidelines including greater consultation with First Nations.

Energy East would facilitate oilsands expansion, and that’s bad for climate change (Montreal Gazette) Seems like it should be too obvious to point out…but sadly, it isn’t.

Enbridge Line 3 pipeline could be next to face tougher scrutiny (National Observer) This one’s a sleeper issue – but NO is right, it could blow up in the near future.

Thousands of signatures against Trans Mountain pipeline delivered to NEB hearings (rabble) Importantly, the petition drive has been matched by disruptive direct action.

Justin Trudeau’s pipeline gambit could salvage Energy East (Thomas Walkom, Toronto Star) Finally, somebody else sees through the Conservative vitriol and hype! This is a PR exercise first and foremost, and if it’s successful, it could smooth over a lot of soft pipeline opposition.

Pipeline Reforms ‘Great Step’ but Don’t Account for Most Emissions, Say Climate Critics (The Tyee) Specifically, the new process accounts for upstream (i.e. extraction-related) emission, but not downstream (i.e. actually refining and burning the oil) emissions.

‘Very minor changes’ to pipeline process not enough, says Grand Chief Stewart Phillip (CBC) Phillip is one of the giants of the pipeline resistance movement – I’ve got major respect for this man.

‘Out of respect,’ no trains will carry crude oil through Lac-Mégantic in 2016 (CBC) Well gosh, isn’t that nice of the good ol’ CMQ railway! They sure do have the interests of the people of Lac-Mégantic at heart! </snark>

War on the Poor

The real (and shocking) story of Kevin O’Leary’s business career (National Observer) I know I said I wasn’t gonna so much as mention O’Leary again, but this is such a thorough, well-researched, and revealing profile of O’Leary’s disastrous career as a “businessman” and an “investment expert” that I couldn’t resist.

Edmonton police empty city council chambers after taxi drivers protesting Uber leave their seats chanting ‘shame’ (Edmonton Journal) Council voted to effectively legalize Uber, the first Canadian city council to do so.

Cop Watch

4 Toronto police officers charged with perjury, obstructing justice (CBC) They planted heroin in a man’s car and then charged him with possession. Suspended with pay, naturally.

Speaking of which: At least 50 police officers currently suspended with pay in Ontario (CBC) At an approximate cost of $4.5 million per year. Ontario’s laws don’t allow a cop to be suspended without pay unless they’ve been convicted.

Toronto officer charged under Police Services Act after 14 shots fired at pinned car (Toronto Star) It’s a miracle nobody got hurt – this guy had clearly watched too many cops & robbers/car chase movies.

Ontario Policing: Gang Rapes, Murders and Child Porn (Telesur) A reflection on the slew of bad news about cops this week and the deeper issues these incidents speak to.

Pollster finds rapid drop in public trust in police (Toronto Star) The real shocker here is that nearly two-thirds of Torontonians still trust TPS.

Guilty: Hamilton cop ‘encouraged’ informant to plant gun at suspect’s home (CBC) The guy’s been suspended with pay since 2012!

Video of Mountie taking down teen sparks police brutality claims (CTV Vancouver Island) Man it’s been a hell of a week for police corruption/brutality…

Indigenous Issues

Songhees First Nation allowed dozen experts at treaty-claim trial (Victoria Times-Colonist) Sounds like this judge is going to be pretty accommodating. The trial centres around the land on which the Royal Victoria Yacht Club was built, land that the Songhees allege is theirs under treaty.

Missing, murdered women inquiry must go beyond just federal jurisdiction (iPolitics) Expect this issue to get a lot of focus in the next week and a half in the lead-up to the annual February 14 day of remembrance for murdered and missing indigenous women.

$2B to fix dilapidated First Nations homes in Manitoba alone: government report (CP) This year’s budget for housing on all reserves across Canada: $150 million. #RealChange™

Indigenous activists from around the world meet in Alberta to create climate strategy (APTN) In the belly of the beast!

Health Care

Let’s Talk About The Corporatization of Mental Health (Torontoist) Glad to see more pushback than ever against Bell’s Asinine “Let’s Talk” campaign this year. See also this: Let’s Talk About How My Job at Bell Gave Me Mental Health Issues and No Benefits (CANADALAND)

Half of Canadian soldiers faced childhood abuse, study indicates (CBC) A rate significantly higher than the general population.

Complaints about doctors rarely lead to formal discipline (CBC) Out of 8000 complaints, about 50 disciplinary actions.

The Tee-Pee-Pee

Free Trade Deals Have Become The Opiate Of The Ruling Classes (HuffPo Canada) Damn that’s a good headline.

When is a trade agreement not a trade agreement? (Elizabeth May, Green Party Leader) From a few weeks ago – slipped past my notice then, but it’s a good read. May is patient, lawyerly, and damning, and I really wish more people would pay more attention to her.

Trade deal will bring more misery to region (The Buffalo News) On upstate New York, which was devastated by NAFTA.

Foreign Global Affairs

North American foreign ministers adopt new tone ahead of Quebec City meeting (CBC) Ah, there’s that difference of tone again…

John Kerry ‘confident’ about Canada’s efforts to fight terrorism (CP) Yes, but how?

Canada’s ISIS fight must factor in ‘ripple effect’ Harjit Sajjan says (CBC) Finally, the government is starting to make the case for ending Canada’s military mission in Iraq and Syria. It’s not a hard case to make – I don’t know why they’ve prevaricated for so long if they truly are committed to pulling out the fighter jets.

Tories Ask Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan If He Believes Afghan War Was A ‘Mistake’ (HuffPo) Sajjan, of course, is a decorated veteran of that war and a newcomer to politics. Hope he likes the taste of his foot in his mouth…

Surveillance State

CSIS got personal taxpayer data from Canada Revenue Agency without warrant (Toronto Star) Not once, but multiple times. What’s more, they purported not to know it was multiple times until SIRC told them so, and they also purported not to know that they hadn’t destroyed the data they’d illegally collected. But don’t worry – they promise it was a mistake and it won’t happen again! (See my analysis of the story here.)

CBC adopts SecureDrop to allow for anonymous leaks (CBC) Welcome to the twenty-first century of journalism! Also this: “Of course there are other ways of reaching us anonymously. Many of our journalists are now using PGP encryption to help mask contents of emails exchanged with sources. And our mailbox is still open to receiving the classic, unmarked brown envelope. (Try me! c/o CBC News, Box 500 Station A, Toronto, ON, M5W 1E6).” “Classic”. I like that.

Peace bond will limit activity of Aaron Driver, ISIS supporter (CBC) I highlighted this case and it’s truly a terrifying one. The facts speak for themselves:

Aaron Driver, who authorities fear might get involved in terrorist activity, says he had no choice but to agree to a peace bond.

“If I fought it, they would have added even more conditions than I’m already under,” Driver told CBC News Tuesday at the Winnipeg courthouse, as he waited to sign paperwork at the clerk’s office.

Driver will not go to trial. He is not facing criminal charges, but his lawyer and the Crown agreed to a peace bond to limit his activities.

Reforming Bill C-51 Can’t Wait Another Year (Laura Tribe, HuffPo) Repealing it would be nice and quick…just sayin’.

Environment & Climate Change

Premier Clark announces landmark Great Bear Rainforest agreement (National Observer) At first glance, this is great news! (But it’s Christy Clark, so of course I’m skeptical.)

Canada Admits There’s No Chance It’ll Reach Its Climate Change Targets – Not Even Close (VICE) If you’re into charts, check out the chart:

The blue line indicates the projected best-case scenario, the black line the most likely scenario, and the red line the worst-case scenario. (Image credit: Government of Canada)

Refugee Crisis

Documents Reveal How Harper Government Cherry-Picked Syrian Refugee Files (CP) Apparently Harper was even facing significant pressure from within his own cabinet to bring in more refugees, so he came up with his gutless “religious and ethnic minorities first” not-so-sneaky no-Muslims plan, which was only workable by going outside of Immigration Canada’s usual protocols. I’m fully expecting a steady stream of headlines revealing the backstory of major Harper-era scandals over the next few years.

Solidarity Watch

Thevenard Honoured With Water Ceremony (Real People’s Media) Rachel Thevenard, who recently ran the whole length of Line 9 to raise awareness and funds for the Chippewa of the Thames First Nation’s Supreme Court challenge against the line’s approval, was honoured by COTTFN the other day.

Bannock Lady celebrates 3 years of ‘feeding relatives on the street’ (CBC) Feeding the hungry is a political act – and a beautiful one at that.

Animals’ Planet

Raccoon Casually Hops on Subway Like a Total BOSS (The Dodo) Toronto honestly has the coolest raccoons in the world.

Calgary trophy hunt expo protesters call for ban (CBC) The owner of the hotel where the expo is held seems to have been moved by the public pressure; he says next year they’ll have to find another venue.

Groundhog sees Jungian shadow, predicts everlasting winter of the soul (The Beaverton) A classic.


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