Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Mike de Souza's report on the Cons' attempts to hide both the oil industry's involvement and its own lack of credibility is well worth a read in full. But let's focus on a more basic revelation: Harper has set up a publicly-funded lobbying team to make sure that tar sands operators - who of course have billions in reserves sitting around to let them fund their own lobbying - get their way in any free trade negotiations.

- Meanwhile, the Cons continue to face difficulty defending their evidence-free policy in the courts - this time as Justice Anne Molly declared a mandatory minimum sentence to be unconstitutional.

- The National Post weighs in against the Cons' plans for warrantless online surveillance:
(T)he government will force Internet service providers to install costly monitoring equipment on their networks. Taxpayers will likely be forced to foot part of the bill, but the rest of the cost will be borne by private industry. Smaller providers could be driven out of what is already an uncompetitive market. The law would also make it much easier for police to force telecommunication companies to retain information on their customers and to enable tracking devices on mobile phones.

This type of legislation brings us one step closer to George Orwell's dystopian vision of a totalitarian state that keeps its citizens under constant surveillance. Yet there is no evidence the new law will achieve its public policy objectives.

Law enforcement agencies have been unable to come up with a single investigation that has been hampered by the limits of the laws currently on the books. Even the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police could not find a "sufficient quantity of credible examples" to support the additional powers the lawful access legislation would grant them, according to a series of internal e-mails obtained by the Vancouver-based group Open Media. Postmedia News has also obtained government documents, in which officials from within Public Safety Canada object to some of the key arguments the Minister has used to justify the bill.
- But the Cons do believe some things should be kept secret - like public policy discussion. Fortunately, the NDP is fighting them every step of the way.

- Finally, Stewart Webb and Michael Byers tear into the Cons' faith-based defence procurement policy:
Thanks to the introduction of faith-based procurement, the Harper government can now ignore the complexities and inefficiencies of design specifications, equipment testing, contract tendering, specified industrial regional benefits, etc.

From now on, decisions on new equipment for the Canadian Forces will be divinely ordained, and channelled to Canadians through Mr. Fantino’s divine connections.
Instead of engaging with our analysis, Mr. Fantino told the House of Commons that we are “critical of everything that is holy and decent” about the government’s defence procurement efforts.

As the quotation at the beginning of this article illustrates, this is the second time that Mr. Fantino has referred publicly and explicitly to the divine nature of his new portfolio.

God’s interest in fighter jets was, to say the least, an unexpected revelation for us.

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