Saturday, May 02, 2015

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Lynne Fernandez properly labels the Cons' federal budget as the "inequality budget". Andrew Jackson discusses how we've ended up in a new Gilded Age in Canada, and what we can do to extricate ourselves from it. And BC BookLook reviews Andrew MacLeod's new book on inequality by pointing out some of the important facts which seldom seem to surface elsewhere.

- Speaking of which, Andrew Nikiforuk exposes how the Alberta PCs handed the oil industry $13 billion in free money by failing to correct a miscalculation as to how royalties would change with time. (Feel free to insert quotation marks and/or pause for laughter in the general vicinity of the term "miscalculation".)

- And Michael Prince writes that a compassionate care benefit is following the Cons' typical pattern of handing plenty of money to those who need it least, while offering nothing at all for the people doing the most to help others.

- PressProgress highlights how the Cons' past funding for transit has been left unused, meaning that there's no reason to take seriously the promise of new money years down the road in the federal budget. And Jim Stanford duly slams the Cons' auto strategy of handing car makers massive amounts of money to produce vehicles elsewhere.

- Craig Forcese follows up on the problems with C-51 by pointing out that it wrongly sees all Charter rights as being both conditional and subject to destruction at the mere mention of national security. Open Media offers a new and hand primer on the Cons' terror bill. The Globe and Mail notes that the U.S. is moving to make its no-fly list more sensible and fair even as the Cons make ours more draconian. And Andrew Mitrovica explains why "just trust us" isn't sufficient accountability from anybody when it comes to national security powers:
So here’s what we’re getting by way of reassurance. C-51 looks “frightening” but it isn’t really — not when viewed from Fadden’s altitude in the security sphere. The security services will never use the vast new powers being granted by the bill to cross the line on Canadians’ civil liberties because Richard Fadden won’t let them. And besides, CSIS is beholden to the Public Safety minister — and we all know how seriously Steven Blaney takes his job.

What a crock. Ever since its inception in 1984, Conservative and Liberal ministers responsible for the agency have said repeatedly, both in and outside the House of Commons, that they do not and cannot get involved in the day-to-day operations of CSIS. And we’re supposed to believe Blaney, the guy who was making Holocaust comparisons during his own committee appearance on the bill, is going to be the one to break that streak?

One of the more disturbing aspects of Fadden’s performance before the committee was how myopic it was. He made pointed reference to terrorist attacks against “Western interests” and Canada’s “allies” in Paris, Madrid and London. He claimed that Canada’s “priorities” in combatting terror only changed after the Americans were attacked on 9/11.

At no point during his testimony did he mention the largest mass murder in Canadian history — the 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182. Most of the 329 victims aboard that flight were Canadians; 86 were children. It was a terrorist attack that made the European attacks cited by Fadden seem subtle. So why didn’t he bring it up?

Because it didn’t fit the narrative. The Air India affair was a black eye for Canadian security and law enforcement. CSIS and the RCMP — the agencies Fadden never tires of describing as “second to none” — were so incompetent and preoccupied with turf wars that they failed, despite ample warning, to stop the terrorist attack, even though they had the tools to do so. And the Air India terror plot was engineered and executed in Canada; its intended victims were Canadians who hailed from every province, save P.E.I.
Air India was and remains a shining example of security service incompetence at its absolute worst. C-51 wouldn’t have prevented it. So while the bill will most certainly pass, the government’s arguments in its favour stand convicted of their own faulty logic. Unless, however, we’re all willing to just trust the Harper government — and Richard Fadden.

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