Saturday, August 29, 2015

Are Chelsea fans shit?

This blog was stimulated by recent experiences as Chelsea (CFC) fan. As background, I'm a longtime Canadian sports fan of hockey, baseball, NA football, and  soccer, aka football in rest of the world. I've only been able to fully support Premier League's CFC since PL became available on TV in Canada.

As a Chelsea fan, what I've noticed for awhile now is how many CFC fans rush to diss individual players if they are not perfect. You'd think being a fan meant you support your club's players unconditionally, but you'd be wrong. 


Mostly, it means you support manager Jose Mourinho because he gave you three Premier League championships in 2004-5, 2005-6, and 2014-15.

As soon as a player shows weakness, that he's not perfect, he's dissed by Chelsea 'fans' as shit. Current prime examples include Ivanovic and Willian, with many more targets in the wings.

I don't get it. Has Roman Abramovich's money made Chelsea fans so privileged, so pampered, that all players must be exceptional? By definition, exceptional is rare.

Branislav Ivanovic was one of Chelsea's best players in 2014-15, yet now fans want him out because he's had a bad start to 2015-16 season. Willian is a fantastic energy bunny who's saved Chelsea's arse many times with his defensive play. But because he doesn't assist on goals and score enough, he's called shit by many fans. They don't say he's a talented player who could improve offensively. Oh no, they call him shit.

My wish is that Chelsea fans reap what they sow. Namely, they're not perfect, indeed, many are shit fans who are just not up to the task of being perfect. 


As a Chelsea fan, I know I have many weaknesses, one of which is writing blogs like this one. You can imagine how that endears me to my Chelsea friends and followers on Twitter at @eurofutball.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Why Harper does not deserve our vote (Links to 9 blogs)

This blog's purpose is to provide links to the 9 prior blogs on why Canada's PM Stephen Harper does not deserve our vote and a 4th term.

  1. Control of the media
  2. Censuring of scientists
  3. Abuse of Question Period
  4. Obstruction of Access to Information requests
  5. Abuse of omnibus bills
  6. Abuse of prorogation
  7. Environmental record
  8. Economic record
  9. Summary of why Harper does not deserve our vote
As a Canadian, I see Harper as betraying everything Canada stands for. He's anti-democratic, anti-scientific, and an embarrassment. 

CBC's Checkup Panel, with 4 insightful, smart physicians, on 'What health issues should be on the federal election agenda' provides evidence of why Harper is NOT good for Canada.

Only we voters can get rid of him.
Comments are most welcome.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Why I will NOT vote for Harper:Part 9 (Summary)

Vote for Harper? Inconceivable!

Ninth and final  in a series of mini-blogs on Canada's federal election to be held 19 Oct. 2015. 
DaBa, pen name of a Guest Blogger, wrote the blogs. 
My comments follow the  blog
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In Summary

Rather than include all of the main points of the eight prior blogs in this series, three Harper failings are highlighted: democracy, the environment and economy.


1. The Harper government runs one of the most undemocratic regimes in Canadian history — and has undermined and abused democratic institutions and procedures at every turn. 

2. Harper is the only Canadian Prime Minister to be found in contempt of Parliament, which occurred in 2011 after his government refused to release certain program costs to Opposition MPs. 

3. "We have a crisis in Canada where public information is disappearing and being restricted." (Executive Director of  Canadian Journalists for Free Expression)

4. The Harper government shows no intention of moving forward with climate policy and remains the worst performer of all industrialized countries.

5. Harper may blame the current recession on any number of historic or international events, but there can be little doubt that his polices have exacerbated the situation.

6. Harper's strong card was his promise of a balanced budget, however, it appears the government will run a $1-billion deficit in the current fiscal year even if it uses all of its contingency fund, says a report recently released by the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer. 

7. The Bank of Canada's Monetary Policy Report released last week downgraded economic growth for 2015 and projected that Canada had slipped into a technical recession in the first half of the year. 

8. Moreover, the Canadian dollar dipped to its lowest point in more than a decade.

Vote for a Harper government? Inconceivable!

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Comments
An amazing op-ed article appeared in the New York Times, 14 Aug. 2015:
Subtitle: Stephen Harper, the prime minister of Canada, is creating a legacy of secrecy and ignorance. 

A few selected quotes [précised] about our PM:
He has consistently limited the capacity of the public to understand what its government is doing, cloaking himself and his Party in an entitled secrecy, and the country in ignorance. 
Mr. Harper’s war against science has been even more damaging to the capacity of Canadians to know what their government is doing. 
In 2012, he tried to defund government research centers in the High Arctic, and placed Canadian environmental scientists under gag orders 
He ended the mandatory long-form census, a decision protested by nearly 500 organizations in Canada, including the Canadian Medical Association and Canadian Chamber of Commerce. 
[He] passed the [Un]Fair Elections Act, a law which not only needlessly tightens the requirements for voting but also restricts Elections Canada from promoting voting 
He is “tough on crime” and builds more prisons at great expense when even American conservatives realize that over-incarceration causes more problems than it solves. 
ConclusionWhether or not he loses, he will leave Canada more ignorant than he found it. 
Harper will leave Canada more ignorant. How sad. Yet it correctly sums up our PM, mocked for what he is in the New York Times, who's print version has the largest circulation of any metropolitan newspaper in the USA, and is long regarded as a national "newspaper of record", respected around the globe.

Vote for Harper? Who could? He does not deserve our vote. 

As always, comments are most welcome. 


Monday, August 17, 2015

When tempted to whine, we all need a wake-up call

Anecdotes on two experiences in the past week. 

1. For the past few years, driving to Edmonton's Old Strathcona Farmer's Market on Saturday about 07:45 - along 83 Ave. from 109 St. to 105 St. - I've noticed a woman ~50 years old on a motorized wheelchair driving along 83 Ave. to the Farmer's Market. All I noticed was that she appeared to blow into a straw to control her vehicle and I assumed perhaps she had cerebral palsy. 

Last week at Whyte and 111 St., where I'd never seen her before, the same woman asked me for help. Specifically, she asked if I could transfer something on her wheelchair's foot plate, which was in danger of falling off, to the storage bin at the back of the wheelchair. 

As I helped, for the first time, seeing her close up, I noticed that she had stumps for arms and legs. She also had a slight speech impediment but was totally understandable. I thought, so not cerebral palsy, at least not alone, and perhaps she was a victim of Canada's thalidomide tragedy

When I said I had seen her many times on Saturdays going to the Old Strathcona Farmer's Market, she replied, 'Yes, it's my favorite place in the whole world.' Walking away, I admit to fighting tears. 

2. By chance this past Saturday, as I exited the Old Strathcona Farmer's Market - where some doors on 83 Ave. were closed (which usually aren't) - the same woman was just arriving. I held the door open and she drove in. 

But - and it's a big but - there was a partition directly in front of the door that blocked her access. She literally was stuck up against the partition unable to go forwards or backwards. I waited to see if I could help. She struggled with her 'sip and puff' control system and finally got her wheelchair seat to swivel and drive sideways to bypass the partition.

As for me, I was gobsmacked by her spirit and courage. Complaining about my aches, pains, and inconveniences just became A WHOLE LOT HARDER.

Comments are most welcome.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Why I will NOT vote for Harper:Part 8 (Economic Record)

Harper's Economic Record

Eighth  in a series of mini-blogs on Canada's federal election to be held 19 Oct. 2015. 
DaBa, pen name of a Guest Blogger, wrote the blogs. 
My comments follow the  blog
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Harper's Conservatives like to promote themselves as good managers of Canada's economy. The reality is quite different.

Deficits
In 2006-07, the Conservatives inherited a surplus of $13.8 billion  which they turned into a deficit of $5.8 billion within two years. Subsequently, they have been in deficit each and every year. Since Harper was elected, the federal debt has increased by over $150 billion. 

Economic growth

Canada's economy declined in every year since 2010 and averaged only 1.7 per cent per year. In the previous nine years, economic growth averaged 3.4 per cent annually.

Jobs and unemployment

In 2014, only 120,000 new jobs were created — less than in 2013. 
At the end of 2014 compared to 2008:
  • Employment rate (percentage of adult population employed) was lower;
  • Labour force participation rate was lower;
  • Youth unemployment rate was higher;
  • Share of total employment made up of full-time jobs was less
  • Quality of jobs had sunk to its lowest level in a quarter of a century.
Harper's economic record in a nutshell:
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Comments
Harper, like most politicians, likes to take credit for good economic times and blame bad times on the global economy, forces beyond his control. And  he's correct that global forces play an important role in how Canada's economy performs.  For example:
  • Strength of Canadian $ compared to US $ 
    • Affects all nations with weak or strong currencies, e.g., Swiss strong currency negatively affects its drug manufacturing companies; 
    • Weak CDN $ good for exports, bad for firms who must buy US goods to manufacture products.
  • China's economy slows so it buys fewer of Canada's exports (applies to all exporting nations). 
  • China devaluates its currency, the yuan, and takes commodities-linked currencies like Canada's down because China is a huge importer of our commodities. 
Harper links Canada's economic record  - good and bad under his watch to -  two major events:

1. Global financial crisis of 2007-8
Harper claims credit because we did better than others, conveniently omitting to mention that

  • Liberal government left economy in great shape; 
  • Our existing bank laws prevented the greedy excesses of US financial institutions.
Bottom line: We did well not because of anything Harper did but because of prior Liberal government policies and Canada's strong banking laws.

2. Plummeting oil prices tanked Canada's economy
Fall in oil prices  - caused by Saudi flooding the market to retain market share - effects all Canada's oil producing provinces, most notably Alberta, and the entire Canadian economy.

After long denying the 'R' word, Harper claims the current recession (if it is that) is not his fault AND our economy is strong.

REALITY CHECK
As DaBa's blog explains, Harper's economic record is terrible. To claim otherwise is to try to bamboozle Canadian voters. Harper thinks we are stupid. Harper cannot take credit for Canada's relative strong performance after the 2008 recession.

Canada would not be in the economic trouble it is today if Harper and his conservative pals in Alberta did not bank most everything on oil versus promoting sustainable energy, a more diversified economy, and investing in infrastructure.

Facts

  • Harper's brand as strong on the economy is fiction using any economic indicator, whether deficits, growth, job quality, unemployment;
  • His policies have left Canada weak, susceptible and powerless to global oil prices.

Like his environmental record, Harper's economic record is a massive FAIL. He does not deserve our vote

As always, comments are most welcome. 


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Why I will NOT vote for Harper:Part 7 (Environmental Record)

Harper's Environmental Record

Seventh in a series of mini-blogs on Canada's federal election to be held 19 Oct. 2015. 
DaBa, pen name of a Guest Blogger, wrote the blogs. 
My comments follow the  blog
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In 2002, when Harper was leader of the Canadian Alliance, he sent a letter to supporters saying
We're gearing up for the biggest struggle our party has faced since you entrusted me with the leadership. I'm talking about the 'Battle of Kyoto' our campaign to block the job-killing, economy-destroying Kyoto Accord
Soon after he won his majority in 2011, Harper pulled Canada out of Kyoto, the first signatory to do so.

Given the subsequent environmental performance of the Harper government,  Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe - which produce an annual report card on climate change performance - rated Canada 58th out of 61 countries in regards to its efforts to combat global warming, above only Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan and Australia. 

In 2013, these organizations said Canada 'shows no intention of moving forward with climate policy and therefore remains the worst performer of all industrialized countries.' 
In 2012, the government launched an unprecedented assault on Canada's environmental laws when it introduced Bill C-38, an omnibus bill that put a halt to automatic environmental assessments of projects under the federal government's purview. 

All told, the Fisheries Act, Navigable Waters Protection Act and Canadian Environmental Assessment Act were either repealed or simply gutted, while the NEB was neutered, a reality felt to this day:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Comments
Navigating through the statistics of which countries perform best on climate control is difficult and, in a way, irrelevant, even given that's it's damn embarrassing to be ranked so low by global organizations. We're a proud nation and hate to be viewed negatively on the world stage.  

But that's what Harper's regime has led us to on the environment, where we're widely mocked internationally. 

Perhaps a more valid benchmark is how well Canada accomplishes what we say we will
  • 2009: Canada signed  Copenhagen Accord, committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 by 17% from 2005 levels.
  • Baring drastic action, Environment Canada projects that 2020 levels will only be slightly less than they were in 2005
  • Huh? Talk about under-performing
  • And it's because Harper isn't serious about climate change.
In comparison
  • USA reduced greenhouse gases by ~10% between 2005 and 2012.
  • EU  says it's on track to meet  2020 target of reducing greenhouse gas levels by 20% from 1990 levels.
Harper routinely lies about everything, including claiming his government has a great record on greenhouse gases. Fact is, according to international watchdogs, even the United Nations, we have worst record of industrialized nations

With Harper on the environment and any issue, it's all about 
  • Controlling the message to protect his government by lying & obfuscating facts.
Canada can do much better by balancing economic benefits of oil sector with protecting the environment and developing sustainable energy resources. We have everything needed to be leader of sustainable energy on world stage except political will, thanks to Harper.

Harper's environmental record is a massive FAIL and he does not deserve our vote

As always, comments are most welcome. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Why I will NOT vote for Harper:Part 6 (Abuse of Prorogation)

Harper's Abuse of Prorogation 

Sixth in a series of mini-blogs on Canada's federal election to be held 19 Oct. 2015. 
DaBa, pen name of a Guest Blogger, wrote the blogs. 
My comments follow the  blog
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Although prorogation normally allows governments to bring in fresh bills, usually mid-way through a prime minister's mandate, Harper has used prorogation four times, shutting down parliament for a total of 181 days.

In December 2008, Harper enraged constitutional experts by proroguing Parliament. Many accused him of simply trying to avoid a confidence vote over a fiscal update, which his minority government appeared certain to lose. 


Apart from the doomed attempts of Charles I to prorogue the British parliament in the 17th century, there has not been precedent in any parliamentary democracy anywhere in the world where a democratic parliament was shut down to hide from a vote of confidence
In 2010, Harper prorogued parliament again in the midst of a controversy over Canada's treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan.

In August 2013, Harper prorogued during a scandal involving the expenses of Conservative senators.

Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair accused Harper of shutting down Parliament to evade accountability and to avoid questions on the Senate. 

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Comments
What is prorogation of Parliament
The main effect of ending a session by prorogation is to end all government business. All government bills that have not received Royal Assent prior to prorogation cease to exist; committee activity also ceases. Thus, no committee can sit after a prorogation.
Note who wrote 'Harper in contempt of Parliament' above:
  • Errol B. Mendes
  • The person calling our PM in contempt isn't a political shill for opposition parties, or a leftie media hack, he is a constitutional lawyer of the highest regard internationally.
Even The Economist, not a left-wing rag by anyone's standards, chastises Harper on his abuse of proroguing:
To date these blogs have featured Harper's contempt for and attacks on democracy whether it be
  • Control of the media
  • Censuring of scientists
  • Abuse of Question Period
  • Obstruction of 'access to information' requests
  • Abuse of omnibus bills
Today, Harper's anti-democratic mentality is evident by forcing Canadians who want to attend his campaign events to be vetted by the party and receive a bar-coded ticket bearing their name.

Honest, you couldn't make this stuff up.

As an aside, Conservatives has been embarrassed into relenting on the 'no photos' rule, naturally putting a spin on it, but stick to the vetting. To claim it's about security is nonsense since Harper's party has done it since at least 2008.

With Harper it's all about 
  • Controlling the message, as practiced by authoritarian regimes worldwide;
  • Even if it means abusing democracy.
Harper does not deserve our vote. It's fair to say he is a SCARY outlier among all prior Canadian Prime Ministers. 

As always, comments are most welcome. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Why I will NOT vote for Harper:Part 5 (Abuse of Omnibus Bills)

Harper's Abuse of Omnibus Bills 

Fifth in a series of mini-blogs on Canada's federal election to be held 19 Oct. 2015. 
DaBa, pen name of a Guest Blogger, wrote the blogs. 
My comments follow the  blog
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When Harper was a Reform MP, he argued that a Liberal 20-page omnibus bill should be broken up so that its measures could get closer scrutiny. 

However, when Harper came to power, in 2010, he tabled an omnibus bill with 883 pages addressing a multitude of issues, served with the threat of an election if the opposition failed to support its passage. 

Since then, Harper has passed 10 more omnibus bills, each between 300 to 450 pages. Each has been an abuse of process and each has shown contempt for Parliament by subverting its role.  

Major changes to policy and law that should have been examined by MPs have been pushed through with almost no debate, sometimes with disastrous results:
In 2012, one of the omnibus bills, C-38,
  • Completely gutted Canada’s environmental laws;
  • Cut $36-billion from health care funding;
  • Weakened Canada’s food inspectors through job cuts;
  • Made it harder to qualify for EI benefits
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Comments
PM Harper consistently shows himself to be a hypocrite, preaching one policy when in opposition, and behaving exactly the opposite once in power. 

His 180o turn on omnibus bills is especially odious. Once again Harper 
  • Manipulates laws for political purposes;
    • Hides them from MP scrutiny; 
    • Hides them from Canadians;
  • Mocks parliament with his utter contempt;
  • Degrades Canada's democracy.
An omnibus bill is a single document accepted in a single vote that groups together multiple diverse measures. Because of its large size and scope, an omnibus bill limits opportunities for debate and scrutiny. As such, omnibus bills allow governments to
  •  Subvert and evade the normal principles of parliamentary review of legislation.
And they've become a Conservative government brand. The PM's 'flipping us the bird', folks. Harper does not deserve our vote. 
As always, comments are most welcome. 

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Why I will NOT vote for Harper:Part 4 (Obstruction of Access to Information Requests)

Harper's Obstruction of Access to Information Requests

Fourth in a series of mini-blogs on Canada's federal election to be held 19 Oct. 2015. 
DaBa, pen name of a Guest Blogger, wrote the blogs. 
My comments follow the  blog
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When Stephen Harper came to power in 2006, his stand on "transparency and accountability" included a promise to reform Canada's 30-year-old Access to Information Act, in particular to give the information commissioner the ability to order release of information, to read cabinet records and to adjudicate complaints. Subsequently, few substantive changes have been made to the Act.

Instead, the government has gained a reputation for secrecy, erecting one roadblock after another to any attempts to shed more light on government's inner workings, from the handling of Afghan prisoners to its battles with independent watchdogs.   


Ironic, because when Mr. Harper was opposition leader, he said
Information is the lifeblood of a democracy. Without adequate access to key information about government policies and programs, citizens and parliamentarians cannot make informed decisions and incompetent or corrupt governments can be hidden under a cloak of secrecy.
Incredibly, one access to information request actually resulted in the Harper government retroactively changing a law to cover criminal activity

After the government got rid of the long gun-registry in 2012, the RCMP was ordered by the Government to destroy its records. By then, however, an access to information request for this data had been made. The RCMP destroyed the information anywaywhich, according to Suzanne Legault, Canada's information commissioner, is a criminal offence if an access request is being processed. Legault recommended charges be laid against the responsible RCMP members

However, in an omnibus bill, the Harper government simply retroactively rewrote the access laws to erase the RCMP's mishandling of gun registry records, to protect these officers from facing criminal charges. 

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Comments

On Access to Information, Harper behaves exactly the opposite to what he advocated when in opposition, which makes our PM a hypocrite. Many politicos change tunes once in power but Harper's behaviour makes him unique in the annals of Canada's political hypocrisy. He's done 180o turn on so many issues. Our PM's brand includes secrecy and manipulating laws for political purposes.  

Retroactively changing laws sets a dangerous precedent. As a Canadian citizen it scares the hell out of me.
The Harper government not only rewrote a law and backdated the changes, it buried it in an omnibus bill. That should scare every Canadian.

Harper degrades Canada's democracy to an extent never before seen in any of our past governments. Harper does not deserve our vote. 

As always, comments are most welcome.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Why I will NOT vote for Harper:Part 3 (Abuse of Question Period)

Harper Government's Abuse of Question Period 

Third in a series of mini-blogs on
Canada's federal election to be held 19 Oct. 2015.

DaBa, pen name of a Guest Blogger, wrote the blogs.
My comments follow the  blog
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Question Period is supposed to be the heart of Canadian democracy, where the government is held to account by the opposition and forced to explain and justify its policies.

However, rather than provide clarity and transparency, Harper Government responses to questions during Question Period more often result in evasion, reading of prepared talking-points, denigration of the questioner, and/or aggrandisement of the government.

Paul Calandra, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, best exemplifies the nature of these responses. For example, when asked to provide more information about the scope of Canada's foray into the Middle East

  • Calandra launched into a totally irrelevant accusation that an NDP fundraiser had accused Israel of genocide and that New Democrats do not support Israel. 
Similarly, when Calandra was asked how many lawyers from the PMO were involved in setting up the secret deal with Mike Duffy, he responded with an irrelevant non-answer, laughably lauding Harper's government:
Thank goodness Canadians elected a strong, stable, national Conservative majority government, led by the best prime minister in the world, flanked by a minister of finance who has won awards, with the strongest cabinet in Canadian history and Conservative members of Parliament working all over the country to hope for hope, jobs and economic prosperity.
In keeping with his failure to be accountable and transparent, Harper attended only 35% of the daily Question Periods in 2015. To further avoid answering questions, Harper signalled he would not participate in 2015 election leaders' debates organized by a consortium of broadcasters.

This is the same Prime Minister who has

  • Refused to meet Canada's provincial and territorial premiers as a group;
  • Skipped the Council of the Federation meetings of Canada's provincial and territorial premiers for years;and
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
As stated in Canada's Model Parliament for students, daily Question Period in a parliamentary democracy is an opportunity for MPs to obtain information for their constituents and all Canadians, a chance for MPs to hold government accountable for its actions.
The right to seek information and hold the government accountable are two of the fundamental principles of parliamentary democracy. 
That Harper has Paul Calandra as a Parliamentary Secretary says volumes about our PM: 
Harper systematically degrades our Parliament's QP and by extension Canada's democracy. Our PM prevents Canadians from 
  • Getting answers to important questions;
  • Being aware of key information that affects us all;
  • Holding our government accountable for its actions;
    • Even those involving sending our sons and daughters into life and death situations.
Harper does not deserve our vote.
As always, comment are not welcome.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Why I will NOT vote for Harper:Part 2 (Censuring of scientists)

Harper Government's Censuring of Scientists 

Second in a series of mini-blogs on
Canada's federal election to be held 19 Oct. 2015.

DaBa, pen name of a Guest Blogger, wrote the blogs.
My comments follow the  blog
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Stephen Harper's information policies muzzle scientists in dealings with the media:
For example, climate change researchers from Environment Canada have been prevented from
  • Sharing their work at conferences;
  • Giving interviews to journalists;
  • Even talking about research that has already been published. 
Similarly, scientists in departments that deal with natural resources, health, fisheries and oceans have also felt the pinch of the muzzle. Nine out of 10 federal scientists feel they are not allowed to speak freely to the media about their research
In 2013, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), representing 20,000 federal scientists, found that
  • Hundreds of their members reported being asked to exclude or alter technical information in government documents for non-scientific (political) reasons;
  • Thousands reported being prevented from responding to the media or the public.
As a result, PIPSC abandoned its tradition of neutrality in elections to actively campaign against PM Harper
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Comments
Harper's policy of preventing scientists from talking to the media, even about their published papers, is difficult to understand.
  • Harper shackles science done by Canadians working in federal departments when it doesn’t serve his political interest;
  • He prevents research from being published, even research done in collaboration with international scientists.
Such policies make a joke of Canada. We're a democracy yet Harper's actions resemble those of the authoritarian regimes of the former USSR

Of note, when PIPSC goes to the bargaining table this year, it will seek a clause guaranteeing scientists the “right to speak. They say Canada is the first country in the world where scientists have sought that kind of clause in a contract.

You know it's bad when the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) sends a letter to Harper urging him to knock it off:
Scientists are quitting their jobs and will increasingly leave a stifling environment. Harper's policy routinely suppresses not only big science but even minor scientific news. Why? Because he has to control everything? That's what control freaks do.

Shackling scientists has consequences: it weakens Canada's ability to deal with ongoing and future environmental issues that affect us all
Harper also puts politics above scientific evidence as when he tried to shut down Vancouver's Insite safe injection site, but was overruled by Canada's Supreme Court, which stated
  • The evidence indicates that a supervised injection site will decrease the risk of death and disease, and there is little or no evidence that it will have a negative impact on public safety.
In response Harper created Bill C-2 designed to make it difficult for new sites to open. The bill is opposed by the Canadian Nurses Association and others.

Similar to his controlling the media, Harper seeks to control scientists, undermine scientific evidence, and weaken democracy. That's how he consistently behaves, folks. It's our Prime Minister's brand. He does Canadians a disservice and does not deserve our vote.

As always, comments are most welcome.


Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Why I will NOT vote for a “Harper Government”: Part 1 (Control of the media)

Harper Government’s Control of the Media

This is the first of a series of mini-blogs on 
Canada's federal election to be held 19 Oct. 2015. 

DaBa, pen name of a Guest Blogger, wrote the blogs. 
My brief comments follow each blog. 

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While campaigning to replace the Martin Liberals, Stephen Harper promised more openness and accountability, however, throughout his term as Prime Minister, he has drawn
The Harper government has established more roadblocks to access to information than any previous government. For example:
  • Press  releases announcing events at which the PM would be speaking, often stipulate that photographers and videographers can attend, but no journalists will be allowed
  • As a result, broadcasts of the event show the PM speaking from a script without responses to any politically relevant questions. 
The role of the press in government matters is to monitor the different levels of government and report to the public. However, the Harper government's media policy is to prevent media access and subsequent reporting to Canadians. Journalists regularly report that 
  • Their calls are not returned;
  • They are given copies of speeches only when they are days old;
  • Cabinet meetings are held in secret allowing ministers to avoid the press who wish to meet with them after the meetings and ask questions about their portfolios. 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Comments 
DaBa has it right and it follows that Stephen Harper's Conservative government actively sets out to stifle democracy in the pursuit of self-interest. This alone is sufficient reason for Canadians not to vote Conservative.

Excerpt from 'The Role of the Press' by Dmitry Fadeyev (Feb. 2014) 
Members of the public cannot sit still and be passive participants of their state, but must, for the state to be a democracy, take an active role in asserting their will.

For a democracy to be a true democracy, the people must be active participants in political discourse, and for this to happen, the press itself must be an active agent that brings this about.
Harper's policy of limiting media access lessens our democracy. He and his Conservative government do not deserve the votes of Canadians.

As always, comments are most welcome. 
Part 2: Harper's Censuring of Scientists

Monday, March 23, 2015

Chelsea will be 2015 champions (Musings on We-They mentality)

Updated: 26 March 2015

ALL HAIL THE CHAMPIONS
It's all but certain that Chelsea FC will win the 2015 Premier League title. 
As of 26 March, the arithmetic is as follows:
  • CFC has 67 points, its closest rival Manchester City has 61. With 8 games left , if Man City win all, their maximum total is 85. Let's assume Man City wins all its remaining games. 
  • With this scenario, to win outright, Chelsea needs 86 points or 19 more than now. Because Chelsea has a game in hand, 9 remaining games gives it a possible 27 more points, a maximum 94 points. 
  • Many combinations and permutations, but in its next 9 games, Chelsea would need to lose 10 points along the way to finish with 84, 1 less than Man City. 
  • That's scenarios like 3 losses and 1 draw (-11pts), 2 losses and 2 draws (-10), etc.
  • Highly unlikely. And Chelsea can do even worse and still win if opponents do not win all remaining games.
So given Chelsea is the all-but-certain Premier League champion, you would think we fans would be cautious but joyous over the winning season the club has had. Perhaps we'd even be generous to the 'usual suspects' that typically cause much aggro or at least ignore their nonsense. Focus on bragging and BIRGing (Basking In Reflected Glory) over our skilled players, genius manager.

But you'd be wrong. Instead, what we often focus on these days is moaning about the usual suspects, namely the media and PL referees who apparently conspire against Chelsea and always have. And it's not just one or two plotters, no - it's the mother-of-all conspiracies. 

WE-THEY
Fact is, many Chelsea fans (not all) are focused on We-They aspects of Premier League football. Their mindset is closely linked to tribalism. In brief, sports fans are tribal when they
  • Hate all clubs but theirs, including other clubs' players and fans, and take every opportunity to abuse them all verbally, including on Twitter. The abuse goes well beyond what could be defended as good-natured banter. Some of it is pretty vile.
  • Love the club to the point where their manager and players can do no wrong. 
  • Identify with the club as much or more than with their family, friends, country.
Indeed, to Chelsea fans, our manager José Mourinho, the self-described Special One, is more infallible than Pope Francis, who has all but renounced papal infallibility. José is an incredibly talented and successful manager, but infallible, not so much.

You can likely guess that I'm not tribal, wasn't brought up that way. As a footie fan, this makes me an outlier. This blog is a quickie, written to get something off my chest:

  • Get over it, Chelsea fans. We-they mentality is not healthy, not productive, not something you want to promote to your children.
Moreover, if your kids say they're being unfairly trashed by others (THEY), the best response is to ask who THEY are, then dissect their arguments for the crap it invariably is. You cannot control how others think. You can control your response.

CFC's talented and successful manager 
José Mourinho specializes at fostering We-They. Not one of his better traits. Suspect it's a tactic to distract from club weaknesses, take pressure off players, and yes, off José too.

As a Chelsea fan, I cannot but help notice how so many fans are consumed by how hard done by Chelsea FC is. Sample tweet:

  • Top of League from day one, no losses in the CL, yet they dig out things to come down on us for, it's like an agenda against us.
Apparently, the entire football world is against Chelsea, certainly the FA, referees, and UK media. That's a whole lot of dudes and an occasional dudette.

BIG MEDIA
Who they are is the UK sports media, many of whom are ex-Liverpool and ex-Man United players. Examples:

MINNOW MEDIA
As well as many other football reporters seem hard on Chelsea versus other clubs. Their qualifications are suspect (meaning they have none), but nonetheless they have big megaphones.

CARRA on GERRARD
One thing that seems to give credence to Chelsea fans' claims of different treatment is how media pundits characterized CFC's Diego Costa stamps as if he were evil incarnate, yet give a pass to Liverpool's Steven Gerrard and Martin Skrtel. Gerrard apologized, so he gets off scott free?

Indeed, Stevie is universally lauded for the apology. Good that he took responsibility. But if you examine Gerrard's 'apology', he's sorry for letting club and fans down but does not come clean.

I've let down my teammates and the supporters. I take full responsibility. I need to accept it, the decision was right.
I've been in the game long enough when you do something like that. I don't know what caused it, probably just a reaction to the initial tackle. 
I shouldn't say more about it really, I've just come out here to apologise to the dressing-room and supporters.
What Gerrard could have said, more honestly:
'I was upset at not starting, keyed up, aggressive, and disappointed in our performance. After a normal tackle, my temper flashed and I struck out, stamped on him deliberately. Sorry, no excuse. Such nasty violence, which could have seriously injured him, is unforgivable.'
Ex-LFC player Jamie Carragher's take:
Steven is an emotional player. He has taken teams into unbelievable moments and when he plays from the heart, he does special things. 
But that can also affect him negatively. He has picked up four red cards in matches against Everton and Manchester United. And there is no doubt the emotion and frustration coming into the game has contributed.  
There is no doubt it was a red card. You cannot do that on a football pitch.
Not said was that Gerrard's stamp was clearly deliberate, unlike others that could be seen as accidental. But keep in mind that Carragher was a teammate of Gerrard's  for about 15 years. They likely remain friends.

CARRA on COSTA
From my CFC fan timeline I thought Carra totally trashed Costa. But did he? 
Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher reminds fans Luis Suarez used to stamp like Chelsea's Diego Costa

Jamie Carragher did his bit to calm Liverpool fans irate at Diego Costa's stamps on their players by pointing at that their former hero Luis Suarez was a master of the accidentally-on-purpose stamp on an opponent.
Chelsea striker Costa brought his foot down on the leg of Reds midfielder Emre Can in the first-half, then did the same thing with Martin Skrtel's foot in the second half.
But former Anfield stalwart Carragher had a long enough memory to not be too offended by the former Atletico Madrid man's shenanigans. He pointed fellow Liverpool supporters in the direction of his former team-mate Suarez. 
Carragher felt Costa's stamps were deliberate, but said they were no worse than similar tactics that Suarez used to get away with for the Reds. 
Writing on Twitter during last night's Capital One Cup semi-final clash between the sides, Carragher said: "Naughty from Costa but reds be honest Suarez used to do that!"
TRIBAL MENTALITY
Chelsea fans fret over what commentators like Carra say. They tend to hear selectively, emphasizing anti-Chelsea bits and ignoring more balanced comments. This type of headline fuels the rage:

LEARNING POINTS
1. If footie media pundits unfairly trash Chelsea and give other club's players a pass, why should we care? We cannot control such nonsense, only what we think about it. Which is more or less, 'Idiots will be idiots'. Pity them.

2. Cultivating a We-They mentality is not something to foster in young Chelsea fans. Fact is, we are all in it together, fans of the beautiful game. Better strategy is 'Never complain, never explain.'

3.
Siege mentality is, at its core, unhealthy. Instead of saying,

  •  Look, THEY are all against us.
I prefer,
  • Assess what THEY say, pro and con. Who are THEY? What are their biases? Do their argument have merit? Do they treat us the same as others? Why care what idiots say? 

Think about it. 
Should we teach children (young Chelsea fans) to think We-They? To worry about what others say, others whose thoughts and agendas we have no control over? To complain and whine about what others say and do? To believe all are against us? It's almost like Chelsea needs to create conspiracies.




Do we really want to promote a Chelsea tribe grounded in paranoia of others out to get us, and whining as a first response to every slight, real or perceived? 

Because that's what young Chelsea fans are learning. And that seems to be Jose's pathetic strategy, but I don't buy it for a minute. Granted, it may be his way of focusing the news on all those big bad boys out to get Chelsea, instead of discussing our player AND José's failures and shortcomings. Still no excuse. 

Such antics have outlived their usefulness, have become same old, same old, boring. You know you've gone to the well too many times when even neutral Canadian commentators ridicule the tactic. Sort of how some fans groan that ex-Chelsea defender David Luiz (still a favorite player of mine - passionate guy) sticking out his tongue has outlived cuteness. 

As Walt Kelly said many years ago, via his Pogo comic strip:



Time to grow up and present an admirable version of what being a fan, citizen, and human is. It's not We-They. Never was.

As always, comments are welcome. 

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