Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Oxfam points out that without a major redistributive effort, hundreds of millions of people will be trapped in extreme poverty around the globe no matter how much top-end growth is generated.And Michael Valpy writes that the Cons have gone out of their way to stifle any talk of shared responsibilities and communitarian goals.

- Meanwhile, Art Eggleton discusses the urgent need for more affordable housing in Canada. And Robyn Allan writes that Canadians are getting gouged while buying gas - with an assist from the Cons who ensured that we don't have access to accurate information about who's profiting from what we pay at the pumps.

- Harvey Cashore and Frederic Zalac report on the links between the Con government and KPMG as the latter was having any assessment of its offshoring tax avoidance schemes stalled in front of the courts.

- Lawrence Martin highlights what we lose when our government considers information suppression to be one of its core values.

- Finally, PressProgress exposes Ron Liepert's belief that civil rights aren't part of the Canada we live in. And Craig Forcese and Kent Roach comment on the effect of the Cons' terror legislation:
When enacting its 2015 security laws, the government consistently rejected the outside policy advice it received. It radically ramped up information-sharing about even marginal security threats. But it disregarded advice—from both the Privacy Commissioner and the judicial inquiry into Maher Arar’s mistreatment—to the effect that Canada’s system of independent review was partial, stuck in silos, and manifestly inadequate. The government also disregarded the advice it received from four former prime ministers and a score of other former officials urging that increased review and oversight of national security activities were necessary, and that they would improve rather than detract from security.

The architects of the new 2015 legislation also ignored the Air India Commission’s 2010 recommendations that CSIS be obliged to share intelligence about possible terrorism offences, and that its human sources not be able to veto appearing as witnesses in prosecutions (a recommendation that was echoed in a unanimous 2011 report of a Senate committee chaired by Senator Hugh Segal). In the final analysis, the 2015 “reforms” were long on rhetoric about a war against “violent jihadis” and attempts to secure partisan advantage, but woefully short on evidence and deliberation.
Bill C-51 in particular was drafted in a novel and provocative manner that departed from long-standing definitions of “threats to the security of Canada” or the more Charter-compliant pattern of past, similar laws—such as hate-speech laws, immigration security-certificate provisions, and the 2001 Anti-terrorism Act.

The complexity arises from the fact that most of these new provisions are not free-standing: they amend existing laws that have their own history and purposes. The most extensive amendments were made to the CSIS Act, originally enacted in response to concerns about RCMP illegalities in the wake of the October Crisis in 1970. The 1984 CSIS Act created CSIS as a civilian and largely domestic intelligence agency that would obey the law and whose mandate was limited to intelligence collection. The new laws radically change that.

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