Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- James Baxter discusses why there's no reason to buy into the Harper Cons' fearmongering in the first place:
Let’s accept a basic truth: There’s only so much money we’re willing to ‘invest’ in having the government to protect us from bad things and, when you get out of bed in the morning, terrorism is very, very far from the top of the list of dangers you’re likely to face.

The budget for the Department of Public Security and Emergency Preparedness is more than $6 billion and growing by leaps and bounds. Add to that the Department of National Defence, which handles our ‘Five Eyes’ clandestine eavesdropping, and the Department of Justice’s secret courts and prosecuting services and you realize the bill for countering terrorism is at least in the realm of $8 to $10 billion per year. And that doesn’t take into account the less obvious costs that come from missed opportunities and the reduced creativity that inevitably comes with constant surveillance.
(B)efore we allow ourselves to be intimidated by our own politicians into believing we have to be terrified — that we have to give up more of our rights and money to protect us from this new “threat” — why don’t we ask the government to do something more about those old, less politically-sexy scary things … like pollution, medical malpractice, drunk drivers, legal semi-automatics in the hands of idiots, and, yes, bed sores (imagine the lives that would be saved by just a few more nurses and orderlies) … you know the stupid preventable stuff that really kills people all too frequently.

FDR famously said that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. Let’s not lose ourselves, and our country, to politically-motivated hysteria.
- But for those who think there's still some room to give the Cons the benefit of any doubt as to whether there's a meaningful threat to be addressed, Anna Mehler Paperny points out that entirely common actions can be classified as "terrorist" activity under the Cons' alarmist definitions, while Steven Chase and Daniel Leblanc point out that Stephen Harper himself is criticizing opposition parties for caring in the slightest about civil liberties. Jeremy Nuttall describes how the Cons went out of their way to punish the media for trying to ask important questions about their new bill. Stephen Maher discusses the complete lack of oversight for bodies who would be granted the authority to lock citizens up without so much as charging them. And Heather Mallick places the blather about terrorism in the context of Harper's violent insecurity.

- CBC reports on the mass surveillance which is already happening even in the absence of expanded powers for secretive spy agencies.

- Meanwhile, in case there's any question just how careful the Cons are when throwing accusations around, Victor Malarek reports on a $10 million payout to a businessman wrongfully smeared as having exported controlled goods to China. Though to be fair, that means the "lock-'em-up" approach under C-51 might save money in the short term by making sure the innocent are bound and gagged indefinitely rather than being able to plead their case.

 - Finally, Bob Hepburn discusses how the Harper Cons have undermined democracy at nearly every turn since forming government.

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