NEWS ITEMS | January 20

Table of Contents

Canadians bill for Davos likely $1-million-plus

I hope Revenue Canada will assess the deduction claims that some 40 Canadians will make after they’ve shelled out exorbitant amounts of money to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week.

Canadians hobnobbing with the world elite in the luxurious Alps ski resort community include, just picking a few at random, Brian Tobin, Vice-Chairman of Aecon Group Inc.; John Manley, President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Council of Chief Executives; David McKay, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Royal Bank of Canada; and perhaps surprisingly, David Walmsley, Editor-in-Chief of The Globe and Mail.

The Liberal government has a huge contingent in Davos, of course including Prime Minister Trudeau and eight cabinet ministers. Because they’re not likely top tier members, the Canadians likely aren’t paying the average fee – a whopping C$45,000.

However, I have to guess that, on average, the star-gazing Canadians are being hit up for perhaps $25,000 each. For the government folks and private folks, that comes to something like $1.15-million. I hope the food is good! Of course some of the worst schemes unleashed on the innocent people of the world are hatched by the banks and big corporations in Davos.

This year, in truth, the focus is to talk about how modern technology can take away our jobs. C’mon now Revenue Canada, check those claims at the end of the year. I’d like to know how much this boondoggle is costing us Canadian taxpayers. As those attending will claim the trip as a business expense, guess who will be picking up a lot of the tab.

Here’s the list of most of the non-government folks in Davos:

  • John M. Beck, Executive Chairman Aecon Group Inc.
  • Brian Tobin Vice-Chairman Aecon Group Inc.
  • Rupert Duchesne Group Chief Executive Aimia
  • Tim Jones Chief Executive Officer Artscape Canada
  • William Downe Chief Executive Officer BMO Financial Group
  • Kevin Lynch Vice-Chairman BMO Financial Group
  • Michael J. Sabia, President and Chief Executive Officer Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec
  • Mark Wiseman, President and Chief Executive Officer Canada Pension Plan Investment Board
  • John Manley, President and Chief Executive Officer Canadian Council of Chief Executives
  • Laura Dottori, Senior Executive Vice-President and Chief Risk Officer, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)
  • Helene Desmarais, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Founder, Centre d'Entreprises et d'Innovation de Montreal
  • Frank Sobey, Chairman Crombie REIT
  • Monique F. Leroux, Chair of the Board, President and Chief, Executive Officer, Desjardins Group
  • Janet Longmore, Founder and Chief Executive Officer Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) Canada
  • Benoit Daignault, President and Chief Executive Officer Export Development Canada (EDC)
  • Brent Bergeron, Executive Vice-President, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability, Goldcorp Inc.
  • Ian Telfer, Chairman Goldcorp Inc.
  • Brandt C. Louie, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer H. Y. Louie Co. Limited
  • Pierre Gabriel Côté President and Chief Executive Officer Investissement Québec
  • Don Tapscott, Adjunct Professor of Management Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.
  • Michael H. McCain, President and Chief Executive Officer Maple Leaf Foods Inc.
  • Suzanne Fortier, Principal McGill University
  • Ron Mock, President and Chief Executive Officer Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan
  • Paul Thomas Jenkins, Chairman OpenText Corporation
  • David McKay, President and Chief Executive Officer RBC (Royal Bank of Canada)
  • John Stackhouse, Senior Vice-President, Office of the Chief Executive Officer, RBC Financial Group
  • Alison Loat, Co-Founder and Executive Director Samara Canada
  • Kim Samuel, Director Samuel Group of Companies
  • Brian J. Porter, President and Chief Executive Officer Scotiabank
  • Neil Alexander Bruce, President and Chief Executive Officer, SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.
  • Alexander (Sandy) Taylor, President, Power Group SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.
  • Steve Williams, President and Chief Executive Officer Suncor Energy Inc.
  • Don Lindsay, President and Chief Executive Officer Teck Resources Limited
  • Peter Rozee, Senior Vice-President, Commercial and Legal Affairs, Teck Resources Limited
  • David Walmsley, Editor-in-Chief The Globe and Mail Canada
  • Gregory Boland, President and Chief Executive Officer West Face Capital Inc. 

Nathan Rogers: A chip off the old block

I very seldom write about music, but I want to tell you about a recent discovery. In my opinion, Stan Rogers was the greatest folk music artist Canada has ever known. Hamilton-born but a child of Maritime stock on both sides of his family, he wrote gripping lyrics celebrating the woes and blessings of Nova Scotia fishermen and farmers. At the height of his career, he died in a plane crash in the U.S. at the age of 34.

A couple of evenings ago, I walked into the living room and heard what I was sure was the unforgettable voice of Stan Rogers on one of the TV music channels. But wait, I’d never heard him sing Northwest Passage quite like that. Hmmmm . . . . I glanced at the TV and it didn’t show Stan Rogers’ name. It said “Nathan Rogers.”

I discovered that Nathan is Stan’s son. As my partner says, I was gobsmacked! I felt I was really out of touch because I hadn’t known this earlier. Nathan was only four when his father died. Following a number of musical adventures he took up the same type of music featured by his father. His voice and presence are just about a dead ringer for his father.  Interestingly, he’s also a fairly accomplished throat singer. I hope he gives us more and more music.

Nathan Rogers: The Mary Ellen Carter: (Give him a couple of minutes to get going.) 

Dreaming of a climate conscious Christmas

I have a dream that at some point in the not too distant future, as Christmas approaches each year, mass media will no longer promote the frenzy of Christmas shopping. I can hear the lead story:

Environmentalist David Suzuki said today that Christmas shoppers should cut their purchases of items that are not absolutely needed by family and friends. “Fossil fuels are still being used to manufacture all kinds of needless and trivial products,” said Suzuki. “Global warming has already surpassed 2 degrees Celsius in Canada, and we must bring a halt to unnecessary consumerism.” 

Suzuki said that people could do a great service for the cause of global warming by going to any one of the number of used clothing stores and shops that have popped up around the country. “If you can buy a perfectly good coat worth $400 for $50, “you name donate the balance to the national fund to present climate change.”

What doesn’t CBC understand about‘conflict of interest’?

The CBC seems to go from one mini-crisis to another.  The latest one I’m irked about won’t draw the public outrage of the Jian Ghomeshi or Evan Solomon scandals, but it does involve dishonesty and conflict of interest that occurs on CBC-TV on an almost daily basis.

Political shows, particularly Power and Politics on CBC News Network, use political spin doctors who work for PR-lobbying firms that receive tons of money from political parties, especially the Liberals and Conservatives.

The programs do not identify which party the spinners work for – so the audience has no idea where their opinions come from.

Worse still, on programs such as Power and Politics, the PR types talk about the politics of all kinds of important issues, such as the oil industry crisis, climate change policies, the future of health care, etc. But, at the same time, they do lobbying and strategic development work for many of the companies involved in the same issues.

This amounts to a serious conflict of interest that should be stopped. Host Rosie Barton appears to have no problem with what is going on.

But consider some of the corporations that pay the salaries of two of Power and Politics regulars:
Susan Smith, an executive with Blue Skies Strategy Group. I can tell from her resume that she is a Liberal supporter, but how would the viewer at home know this? Among her firms clients are: Suncor Energy, Industry Canada, the Office of the Auditor General, Telefilm Canada, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, the Assembly of First Nations, the Canadian Heart and Stroke Association, the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, and others.

Another Power and Politics regular is Tim Powers of Suma Strategies. Over the years he has held many senior positions with the Conservative Party. Among Suma’s clients that it chooses to list are: Canadian National Railways, CISCO, Boeing, the dreaded Nestle and developer Fonds.

Rob Silver is a long-time inside-and-outside Liberal strategist who was a frequent guest on Power and Politics. His recognition of a serious ethical conflict led him to give up his appearances on the show as well as resign from Crestview Strategy, as of the end of 2015 after his wife, Katie Telford, was named Justin Trudeau’s Chief of Staff.

"I decided that me remaining an employee or shareholder in a government relations firm that does federal work while my spouse is in her current job is inconsistent with this objective," Silver said.
CBC management seems to lack any understanding of the damage done to its credibility by not dealing soon enough with conflict of interest issues in recent years. There were money and favoritism issues that finally caught up with Peter Mansbridge, Rex Murphy and Amanda Lang.

If the Corporation is not careful, it will have another scandal on its hands when a serious conflict situation of one of the hacks becomes known publicly.

The program originates in Ottawa, and the city is where too much intercourse among journalists, politicians and political hacks leads to all kinds of complications. The revolving door has journalists moving into PR or going to work for the government. Lots of folks have worked for all three – media, politics and public relations – and continue to move around.

When a new government is formed, new so-called strategic corporations run by folks who had been in government are formed overnight.

At night in Ottawa, stressed or more likely bored journalists end up at one of the bars, perhaps D’Arcy McGee’s or Hy’s Steakhouse. The jovial, likeable PR flaks also show up.

That’s where friendships are often built between reporters and PR types that become too chummy. The naïve journalists forget that the political/corporate representatives are building relationships. Having been a journalist for a long time, I know that stories better than the ones that make it into the news are told in the bars late at night. Corporate secrets that reporters promise to never use are also told.

It’s clear that too much of this chumminess – with the secrets left in the bars – spills over to the on-air Power and Politics programs when Rosie and the PR types share their big laughs. It’s unseemly.
It would be easy for programs to stop using corporate and government who withhold their real affiliations.  The country is full of highly knowledgeable academics who can perform just as well and who don’t have to hide their connections.

NOTE: Tim Powers of Summa Strategies complained that I did not present a fair picture of his involvement in politics. I wrote, “Over the years he has held many senior positions with the Conservative Party.” While Powers admits he is a full-fledged Conservative, he writes, “To suggest I held positions in the Conservative Party implies I was employed by them and received compensation and that was not the case. I have also not held an official volunteer position in the party since 2004 and it was temporary.”
NOTE: Yesterday I filed an official complaint with the Ombudsman Office of the CBC, in which I pointed out, “Guests who work for corporations or political parties should not be permitted on programs such as Power and Politics as commentators because of the obvious conflict of interest. The CBC must be free of any real or potential conflict of interest when it comes to its journalism. This point should be added to the Corp's policy book.”
CBC Ombudsman Esther Enkin replied: “The first step in the process is to share your complaint with the relevant programmers, who have the right and responsibility to respond.  I have therefore shared your email with Jennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor in Chief of CBC News.  If you are not satisfied with the response you receive you may ask me to review the matter. Programmers are asked to try to reply within twenty working days.”

Connexions: A remarkable information source

If you’re interested in social change, politics and just about anything with a progressive bent in Canada, you need to know about Connexions – an on-line library and archive for Canada’s movement for social change. Founded in 1975 as a national information clearinghouse for grassroots activists involved with urban and rural poverty issues, the project moved on line in the mid-1990s.
It has a remarkable and diverse collection of information, much of it unavailable on other sites in the country.

Connexions Online hosts an online library of close to 10,000 documents related to human rights, civil
liberties, social justice, economic alternatives, democratization, women’s issues, gay, lesbian, and bisexual rights, First Nations and Native Peoples issues, alternative lifestyles, and environmental issues.

Connexions uses a controlled vocabulary database of more than 20,000 subject headings.  The Connexions Directory of Associations, a separate resource also available on the Connexions site, now lists more than 5,000 organizations, indexed under more than 20,000 topics.

Says Connexions Co-ordinator Ulli Diemer: “We do it because we believe in the importance of people’s history, keeping alive memories, experiences, successes, failures, and visions of those who have worked for social justice over the years.”

Connexions now has a regular thematic newsletter that’s full of information for anyone interested in promoting positive change in the country. Here’s the link: Take your time looking around.

NGOs as enemies of the poor

Most people have the idea that the hundreds of non-governmental organizations toiling away in developing countries are there to help people and assist them in building their communities. The people who work for most foreign organizations believe this is what they’re doing. But sometimes it’s more complicated.

Actually, some kinds of projects do work. I worked for 13 years on freedom of expression and human rights issues in many developing countries.

The main goal of my work with the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX)  was to empower journalists and media workers by providing help and money so they could set up and run their own groups. In some countries, I know I helped plant the seeds of protest and even rebellion.

(I probably shouldn't write this -- I was on a pleasant excursion with a bunch of international journalists in Paris one time when three young Js from the Philippines approached me. They quietly asked if I knew how to make Molotov cocktails. No, I didn't. It was the Marcos era, when anyone opposing the government, including journalists, was brutalized. Soon after the country erupted, and lots of Molotov cocktails were thrown.)

The following article doesn't apply to much of the free expression work carried out around the world over the last 30 year. It’s about how some groups actually prevent the development of local groups in countries where change and even revolution are needed. 

It applies to a lot of programs run by U.S.-based and U.S.-funded NGOs. The largest American donor, USAid, writes in its contracts that projects it was funding through NGOs were, first and foremost, to benefit the interests of the United States.

We Canadians, the French, the Scandinavians, the Aussies didn't operate as Imperialists the way the Americans did. Many of the American NGOs believed that the American way was the only way. I never trusted most of them. There's no doubt in my mind that if many of them picked up information of a strategic nature, they likely would soon be on their way to a US Embassy.

In memory of Joe Hill

November marks the 100th anniversary of the firing squad execution of Joe Hill, a man who fought against the suppression of American workers and left a legacy that has inspired generations of musicians — from Woody Guthrie to Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

The crime for which Hill faced a firing squad in 1915 was the shooting of a Salt Lake City shopkeeper and his son. The prosecution’s case was based entirely on weak circumstantial evidence, but he was convicted anyway.

Friends wrote at a funeral that drew 30,000 mourners in Chicago that Hill was “murdered by the authorities of the State of Utah” because of his role in the workers rebellion. He was killed by firing squad at the age of 36.

Born in Sweden in 1879, Hill he joined a wave of Swedish immigration at the age of 23 to find work in the U.S. He worked in New York City and Chicago. He was a hobo labourer, a union organizer, and most of all a talented musician who wrote about the poor and down-and-out.

Hill hooked up with the International Workers of the World. His songs first appeared in an IWW songbook in 1909. He started with a bang, a scathing satire on churches called “The Preacher and the Slave.” This song contains a phrase familiar to everyone – pie in the sky – even young people today who have never heard Hill’s name.

You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky:
Work and pray, live on hay,
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.
Hill kept moving around, taking jobs here and there and writing. Over the next few years in Portland, Oregon, in Spokane, Washington, and in San Pedro, California, he wrote songs to inspire solidarity among workers.

Joan Baez sings Alfred Hayes' tribute to Joe Hill 

When politicians come home the lies begin

The near euphoric way the mainstream media responded to Alberta's carbon plan and Trudeau's meeting with the provinces is unsettling.

The oil industry had no trouble buying into the Alberta plan because it allows for considerable
expansion of the tar sands -- if anyone will buy the stuff. I could find absolutely no analysis in the mainstream media about what the plan actually means for carbon reduction.

And Trudeau's meeting with the Premiers was little more than a social get-together. Again, no analysis in the media. The papers could have reported on comments from a government analysis who told the Premiers that Canada's emission levels were roughly twice the world average. Very bad news!

I doubt that our Canadian politicians have any idea of the sacrifices required of industry and the public to make a real contribution to hold global warming to liveable levels.

At the Paris meetings, our politicians will learn the same bullshit being spread around by many other countries. They'll learn they can get away by making minimal commitments so as not to alienate the public and, in particular, stay within the limits allowed by big business. (Cities and municipalities will do better.)

Because the corporations that own mainstream media don't believe so much in the real threat of global warming, they too will support the minimal actions of most governments. They pretty well support the worldwide industry position: Global warming is important, but it can't be allowed to limit economic growth.

What you need to know to vote

When getting ready to go to the polls, you need to forget what you had to produce in 2011 to vote. The Voter ID card  - it's actually called "Voter Information Card" – that you get in the mail, can no longer be used as a piece of identification.

And you can no longer have someone who knows you vouch for knowing your identity at the polling station.  Vouching for address is allowed, but only one time for one person. And the voter doing the vouching must live in the same polling division, be on the voters list and show ID. If you’re being vouched for, you must show two pieces of ID with your name.

Here's the language from the Elections Canada site on vouching:  "Show two pieces of ID with your name and have someone who knows you attest to your address. This person must show proof of identity and address, be registered in the same polling division, and attest for only one person."  

There is only ONE situation where you need just one piece of identification: That’s if you have government issued identification that includes your name, address and a photo.

Everyone else needs TWO pieces of identification, one showing their name and another one showing their name and address.

The polling station will accept a long list of documents.

- Stephanie Sydiaha

Is this man crazy, or a man of the people?

Elites throughout Western countries were shocked on the weekend when the British Labour Party elected Jeremy Corbyn as leader. Corporate media are calling him every evil name imaginable, but decide for yourself what you think of his policies: 

How come police are allowed to “murder” people?

Anonymous Member Shot by RCMP
(photo courtesy of CBC)

Why are police in Canada being allowed to – in effect – murder people so ruthlessly? Too often they shoot to kill and ask questions later. As far as I know, directives in most jurisdictions across the country allow police to shoot and kill anyone they claim has been aggressive, even if the person is really no threat to them.

Two recent examples:

  • Outside an environmental public hearing meeting in Dawson Creek, B.C. last week, RCMP said a man wearing a mask approached officers in an aggressive manner. An eye witness said the man had a small knife and refused to drop it when police screamed at him. A video taken by a person who happened to be nearby shows both officers pointing their guns at the man – presumably dead – slumped against a building.

    The man, later identified as a 48-year-old person who earned his living as a dishwasher, was clearly wearing an Anonymous Guy Fawkes mask. The group Anonymous promised to avenge the person’s death, and the RCMP national website and Dawson Creek detachment site were both down on the weekend.
  • In Toronto a week earlier, police were dispatched to a home after a man reportedly confronted a neighbour with a hammer. The man, Andrew Loku, was a 45-year-old black man from South Sudan. An eye witness told The Toronto Star that police opened fire within seconds of arriving on scene. The shooting sparked outrage among activists, who interrupted a police board meeting, chanting “Black Lives Matter.” Several days later the family said it was still waiting for an apology from both the Chief of Police and the Mayor. 

So, police killed two men – one with a pen knife in his pocket and the other apparently with a hammer. These officers are going to say their lives were threatened, but that sounds very unlikely in the first case, and that they probably didn’t take the right precautions in the Toronto case. One of the problems is the aggressive manner in which police approach anyone who might be a threat. Police tend to scream, “Drop it!” or “Get on your knees!”

This aggressive practice riles up and scares anyone who might be stressed or who has a mental problem. I think too many of these cops think they’re on American TV. Another problem is that police are afraid of being injured or killed themselves, so they don’t always act rationally. Too many police go into a rage when confronted with people who may be breaking the law. They need better psychological training.

Police procedures must be changed. For starters, unless a suspect is running toward them at high speed, they should speak to people in a more-or-less normal voice. Try to calm people instead of further upsetting them. And how about backing off a few feet and seeing if they can calm the person down with normal talk instead of police threats?  Why don’t officers draw a stun gun or a Taser instead of raising a deadly revolver in many situations?

Bill C-51 will likely be taken down in Court 

Congratulations to Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (where I worked for years) and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association for going to court to challenge Harper’s over-the-top Bill C51. The case won’t be heard before the October election, but two prominent constitutional specialists told The Globe and Mail they expect the law to be declared unconstitutional.

Plenty of Fish sold for $575-million

I’m not particularly surprised that the popular dating site has been sold to Match Group for a whopping $575-million. What shocks me is that Fish owner Markus Frind of Vancouver says that he alone has been running the site from his basement since its launch in 2009. He has had no employees and never raised a penny from investors.

Instead of hiring staff and making Fish larger, Frind, 37, decided to sell after a daughter was born last year. He decided to “get some work-life balance back. Having a 10-month-old daughter, you start measuring time in different increments.” Plenty of Fish, which makes money from selling advertising, says it has more than 100-million users globally and takes credit for bringing together one million couples a year.

Neil Young’s had enough!

The Canadian rocker will no longer make his music available to streaming music services worldwide. He dislikes the audio quality that streaming services provide. The move is a challenge to major streaming services such as Spotify, Rdio and Apple Music to upgrade their audio quality.

“AM radio kicked streaming’s ass,” Young wrote on Facebook. “Analog cassettes and 8 track also kicked streaming’s as, and absolutely rocked compared to streaming. . . .Streaming is the worst audio in history.”

A Shocking Revelation Of The Factors Involved in Climate Change

Bloomberg Business has created a graphic image that compares and contrasts the natural and human factors involved in climate change. 

Climate change deniers prepare to face the truth, the rest of us will simply be shocked by the extent of the truth. 


     - July 15, 2015

Postmedia failure could beopening for citizen media

How would you and your friends like to run a newspaper in one of Canada’s big cities – say Montreal, Winnipeg, Edmonton, or Vancouver?

I ask because I can’t imagine the Postmedia Network of dailies lasting much longer. This past quarter the U.S. controlled company that Paul Godfrey (pictured at right) fronts for lost $140-million. With print ad revenues down 20 per cent from a year ago surely they will have to throw in the towel, or make huge changes, soon.

I doubt that these cities will be able to support five-day-a-week corporate newspapers that are accustomed to paying big salaries to executives, delivering a nice profit to sharer holders, as well as operating a full distribution system. Postmedia might consider publishing its papers only two or three days a week, but they would lose ad revenue to the pain-in-the-ass giveaway tabloids that just skim the news.

If assets of a Postmedia paper happened to come available, it would be great if a public interest community group snapped up the assets. Perhaps a group of people, with an investment of a few million dollars, could establish a non-profit enterprise that could publish hard copies two or three times a week and have a strong presence on the Internet. Any community would benefit if citizen-owned journalism could replace corporate journalism.

Lots of potential crooks join Goldman Sachs

There are lots of would-be millionaires eager to join the Wall Street rat race and they’re willing to work day and night, seven days a week to reach the echelons of the greedy. But the greatest gangster banker of them all, Goldman Sachs, is telling its summer interns to slow down a little. Banking interns are instructed to leave the office by midnight and not return before 7 a.m. They also have to take off Saturdays.

Goldman Sachs says it is trying to improve conditions for its youngest workers. Lots of kids want to join the firm where a little crooked manipulation or currency fixing can make a person rich pretty quick. The investment banker had more than 267,000 job applications last year, but hired only three per cent of them. The firm hired more than 2,900 summer interns this year. IN view of the fact that the U.S. doesn’t lock up financial scammers at the big banks, I wonder how long before some of them will make the news.

Remove animals from TV ads!

I wonder if you get as upset as I do when I see all kinds of animals used and exploited in TV ads? Many animals around the world are in danger of extinction, and much of this because of the exploits of out-of-control businesses.  I can envision the day when all the elephants or all the rhinos are extinct in nature, yet they live on in tasteless TV ads. It seems to me that some of these ads send out the message that everything is okay with animals.

I’m annoyed by all of them, from Ikea’s jungle monkeys promoting kitchenware, to McVitie’s fake flying squirrel carrying crackers to some guy’s girlfriend. What to do about this? My first choice is to end it all. No more animals in ads. If you think this is too harsh, how about having corporations make huge payments to conservation or protection programs (for cats and dogs) if they use animals in their ads?

Astonishing video of the slave trade

Ask most people and they will tell you that the United States was the main place millions of African slaves were sent.
This amazing video tells a different story.


     - July 2, 2015

U.S. and Russia playing “nuclear chicken.”

So you think the threat of nuclear war – or an accidental military nuclear blast – is a relic of the past? Not so, according to the highly-respected Dr. Helen Caldicott, founding president of Physicians for Social Responsibility. She told Russian Television that current U.S. and Russian war games at a time of serious international tension are very dangerous.

“It’s very alarming,” Dr. Caldicott told RT. “I think the U.S. has pushed Russia into a corner over Ukraine. I know that Putin has reportedly put his nuclear missiles on a higher-than-normal state of alert. Both Russia and America are practicing nuclear war games close to each other’s borders and a mistake by someone, an officer, a computer error at a time of heightened international tension could easily push us over the brink into a nuclear war. I think both countries are playing nuclear chicken with each other.”

Are Americans really totally complete idiots?

With tensions between the U.S. and Russia increasing, journalists in each country were curious to find out whether people on the street were in favor of bombing the other country. Interestingly, during interviews most Russians refused to put their signatures on a fake “petition” to send missiles to America. Some said the idea was “crazy.”

Following the Russian fake petition, U.S. journalist and prankster Mark Dice offered people in San Diego the chance to sign a petition calling for a nuclear strike against Russia, to “maintain America’s superiority.” The majority of beachgoers didn’t appear to get the joke, and signed the fake petition. Although neither the RT poll nor the one conducted in the U.S. claim to represent public opinion, many found the results of Dice’s experiment “disturbing,” including the journalist himself.

NDPs don’t want my comments on their page

Some strong supporters of the NDP seem to be a little close-minded. I was bumping around Facebook the other night when I checked out NDP Grassroots Solidarity and Support. It’s a really raddle-dazzle-support-the-NDP group of about 2,000 people. I’ll bet some of them will be looking for jobs if the NDP becomes the government. There’s no big-thinking or real analysis on the page. These NDPers all very angry about the Liberals voting for C-51—I agree, but I became a little concerned when they started talking about wiping out the Liberals.

I got involved in the discussion, and explained that, unless the NDP literally wipes out the Liberals, and that’s not going to happen, the NDP will need the Liberals to win quite a few seats if the NDP is to become the government. I wrote about the importance of voting strategically – for a Liberal – in ridings where the NDP has no chance of beating a Conservative so that Liberal would win. . . . . This didn’t go over well. I was told a rule of the page was that participants are not permitted to talk about anyone but an NDP winning. They told me to remove all my comments from the page. I didn’t remove them but when I went back and looked at the page a couple of days later I couldn’t find my comments.

Whole Foods caught cheating in New York

A lot of yuppie (is this still a good word?) Canadians swear by the U.S.-based Whole Foods stores, which promise the healthiest food in the land and are expanding its outlets across the country. Some people seem to think the stores are practically sacred, but I have heard a few complaints that there are a little pricey.

‘Pricey’ seems to be the right word in New York, where consumer affairs folks found Whole Foods cheating on the pricing of pre-packaged products at eight locations. Apparently every label was inaccurate. The overcharges ranged from 80 cents for a package of pecan panko to $14.84 for a container of coconut shrimp. Inspectors were quotes as saying it was the worst case of overcharges that they’ve ever seen.” As far as I know, none of Whole Foods Canadian stores have been investigated.

Coyne, Reisman among Bilderberg invitees 

It is rumored that the most elite and most secretive annual meeting in the world – the Bilderberg Conference – in June discussed the possibility of eliminating paper currency around the globe. About 100 hand-picked elites from politics, business and media met for three days in a resort in the Austrian Alps. While no minutes are taken, topics touched on are ones that would help the elite to pretty much continue to dominate much of the world. No doubt the bankers loved the thought of controlling the world’s finances even more strongly. Other major topics for discussion included artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, chemical weapons threats, current economic issues, European strategy, globalisation, Greece and Iran.

So who are the five apparently “elite” Canadians who were invited to take part: David McKay president of the Royal Bank; Ed Clark, retired head of the TD Bank; Heather Munroe-Blum, chair of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board; Heather Reisman of Indigo Books and Music; and – wait for it – Andrew Coyne of The National Post. Others attending were three reps. from Google, which is said to be strongly in favor of world surveillance, and the bon vivant war criminal Henry Kissinger.

Coming to Canada, ‘foreign’ milk and cheese

After several years and dozens of articles, it looks like The Globe’s Barrie McKenna is going to have his wish come true – it appears that the price of milk is likely to soon fluctuate up and down with folks not knowing what it will cost from day to day. For decades, Canada has had controls on the prices of dairy products so that folks, particularly children, could receive proper nourishment. But McKenna has been the government’s top cheerleader to see the system destroyed under the new Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will see dairy products from New Zealand and other countries dumped into Canada. Harper will try to keep the farmers happy with fat payoffs.

McKenna was at it in the Globe again this past week, claiming that dairy farmers are extremely wealthy, and that they employ only 112,000 full-time jobs across the country. My opinion is: If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. But the angry McKenna is driven by neo-liberal free market ideology. He got the commie-smelling quote he needed from John Manley, who heads the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, the country’s leading group of legal gangsters. Says Manley: “I describe it (supply management) as the last Soviet-style economic regime on the planet.”  And I suppose the billions of dollars corporations get on a regular basis from governments when they screw up isn’t a form of supply management?

Famous Farley Mowat whale-protecting vessel heading for scrapyard

The MV Farley Mowat – the one-time pride of conservationists fighting to save wales – is no longer. The former flagship of the Sea Shepherd Conservation society has sunk in Nova Scotia’s Shelburne Harbour. The rusting vessel, named after the writer of “The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float,” had been anchored at the harbour since September. The once great ship will be cut up and sold as scrap. The boisterous and scrappy Mowat passed away just over a year ago at age 92.

Pictured left - Farley’s boat in better days:


     - June 10, 2015

Driver-less vehicles have a huge downside

Monsters like this will take
millions of jobs away. 
Many people are excited about the prospect of having a self-driven car. They envision sitting comfortably in the vehicle, reading their paper, or catching up on work.
Experts are telling us that there will be millions of fewer road deaths and, once the technology is developed, probably big financial savings.

At first glance, it sounds great, and after a long period of adjustment, it no doubt will mean big gains for us all.

But for several years there will be a huge downside. Businesses are licking their chops, looking forward to having fleets of self-driven vehicles. Millions of truckers will lose their jobs. 
I am no fan of trucking – the goods in most of those damn monsters damaging our highway should be moved by rail.

Here’s the coming threat: In Canada alone, there are more than 600,000 mostly men employed to drive motorized vehicles.  This includes 260,000 truck drivers, 90,000 delivery and courier drivers and 97,000 heavy equipment operators.
The transition is already taking place. In Australia, mining giant Rio Tinto has a fleet of three dozen autonomous, driverless haul trucks working at locations across the country.  They’re all controlled remotely from Perth, nearly a thousand miles from the mines. The vehicles use a combination of sensors to navigate around, primarily radar and GPS.
One of the companies developing the technology is Caterpillar, much hated in Canada because it abandoned its operations here.
Here in Canada, Suncor Energy has been testing driverless giant vehicles at its tar sands locations, and this week entered into a five-year agreement with a Japanese manufacturer to purchase new heavy haulers for its mining operations. All the new trucks will be “autonomous-ready,” meaning they are capable of operating without a driver.
Suncor will save millions of dollars, but for the company’s roughly 1,000 heavy-haul truck operators, the prospect of driverless trucks has raised more immediate fears of significant job losses. The company says that at least 800 people will lose their jobs.
Meanwhile, a business group is researching the feasibility of a driverless trucking corridor that would be built between Canada and Mexico.
So think of job losses multiplying many times when this technology moves across the country. Unless the resulting unemployment is managed properly by government – and I’m not holding my breath – this could be the equivalent of the thousands of angry and unemployed men who came back to Canada after the Second World War. 


     - May 25, 2015

CBC grabbing millions from staff pensions

The CBC is grabbing at least $9-million from its employees by implementing changes to the pension system well ahead of the 2017 required changes. Traditionally, the CBC has contributed 60 per cent toward pensions and employees 40 per cent. But the Harper overlords have decreed that the formula must be changed to 50-50 starting July 1, 2017. Instead of waiting to make the hike in 2017, which is totally legal, the managers at Mother Corp are swooping down on the employees this year. 

Many managers at the CBC tend to not recognize the employees as anything human that they should have contact with. Some managers steer clear of the earthlings they are supposed to manage, sometimes because they have no idea what the people under them are supposed to do. A few years ago someone in news management gave instructions that s/he wanted to hear more sound accompanying news reports. That’s why you often hear perhaps five seconds of often meaningless sound as a report begins.  I noticed another interesting trend when I worked at the CBC. I often was friends with many “equals” in the news department; we’d chat away and even have a beer together. 

However, when one of them who had been particularly sucky toward the bosses finally was elevated to the management level, the situation changed entirely. They seldom ever approached ordinary employees. They were instantly aloof, always stood very straight, and seldom had a smile.  Ah, that good ol’ CBC culture!

U.S. Appalachia group wins five-year battle

Victories against anti-social capitalists don’t always come easy. In the U.S., after five years of action by Earth Quaker Action Team, PNC Bank recently announced a shift in its policy that will effectively cease its financing of mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia. For years America’s seventh largest bank refused to budge on this issue. The victory comes after more than 125 actions over five years.

The Earth Quaker Action Team EQAT acted in solidarity with the frontline resistance coordinated by the Alliance for Appalachia. Over 500 mountains had been blown up, covering an area the size of Delaware. Cancer and birth defect rates shot up because of the toxins that poisoned the air and water supply. As more and more banks stop financing mountaintop removal, the coal companies are expected to have more trouble securing financing for extreme extraction.

Speaking of shaming; This guy has some nerve

My main article is about the need to shame people who, if they’re in government, lie to us, or if in business, and do very damaging things to people. Hamilton investment consultant Michael Bowman clearly needs a lesson in ethics. The Globe and Mail Report on Business gave him priority positioning for an article called: Looking for value among tobacco stocks.  This stuff has killed millions of people around the world and I thought we won this battle among decent folk a few years ago. But some still reduce themselves to the lowest level to make a buck. If you’d like to express your displeasure to Bowman, his email is and his phone number is 905-528-6524.

Canadian business sitting on $630-billion 

A tiny story deep inside the Globe’s Report and Business tells us the sad truth about how slack Canadian companies are when it comes to innovation. Many countries are making major advances when it comes to employing robots and artificial intelligence, but 87 per cent of 700 companies were shown to be either partially or completely unprepared for changes in these two areas.
The study showed that Canadian firms are generally averse to risk and this shows up as a reluctance to invest the time and money needed to understand the next wave of technology. I’ve not seen a figure for this year, but a year ago dozens and dozens of Canadian businesses were sitting on $630-billion in cash. And Harper continues to dump billions into their bank accounts. If I were in charge of the government (now there’s a dangerous thought) I’d tell the corporations to use the money or give it back to the Canadian people – that’s where it came from. 

Why we must regain control of government

If Big Oil and oil producing governments were forced to pay the true cost of the damage that non-renewable energy does to the environment and out health, the world would be far better off.  / A research paper for the International Monetary Fund says that if subsidies had been removed for non-renewable energies in 2013 there would have been a CO2 reduction of more than 20 percent, which they said is very significant and would represent a major step towards the de-carbonization ultimately needed to stabilize the global climate system. In addition, the paper said the reduction in premature global air pollution deaths would have been even more dramatic at 55 percent.  Interestingly, the parts of the report I mention here were not featured in any news reports I saw on the paper. As is the case with the news so often, once one angle is reported, that’s the information that tends to dominate.

When we look at the damage the oil industry doesn’t pay for, the subsidies received are so massive it’s impossible to comprehend them. The paper estimates that in 2015 alone the extra cost of non-renewable energy – in view of the damage it causes – will be $5.3-trillion U.S. Imagine if oil producers had to pay for this! They would be going out of business and we’d have a rush to renewable energy. If oil giants and other massive corporations did not dictate to our governments, we would be well on our way toward greatly reducing non-renewables. 

By the way, China was the worst offender, not requiring its oil industry to pay an enormous $2.2-trillion US. The United States was the second-biggest offender, with an estimated $699-billion subsidy to the privately-owned oil and gas industry. 

“The fiscal implications are mammoth. At $5.3-trillion, energy subsidies exceed the estimated public health spending for the entire globe,” IMF economists Benedict Clements and Vitor Gaspar wrote in a blog post accompanying the report.


     - April 20, 2015

Suzuki should stick to the science

David Suzuki is circulating another commentary, this one about the importance of water as a natural resource that we all need. As usual, when he writes about the environment, he does an excellent job.

Unfortunately, it’s when David and a number of other environmental experts talk about the business and politics of environment that they run into problems. For instance, I once heard David say during one of his talks that he had a long chat with one of the corporate heads of a big energy company that destroys the environment.

David said the guy was so kind and nice that David came away from the meeting feeling that we should all be able to get together to stop climate change.

Nope, David, it’s not going to happen! It’s best that you stick to your wonderful work as an environmentalist, and let others develop strategies for the movement.

What are CBC TV news panels really for?

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! CBC News Network features a panel discussion, The Sunday Scrum, every Sunday morning. It’s usually hosted by newsman Andrew Nichols and this week included my long-time friend Susan Riley, now a freelancer, CBC Ottawa journalist Rosemary Barton and Martin Patriquin of Macleans

I don’t recall exactly how it went, but they were going through the big stories of the week, when one of the panelists made some perhaps offhand comment and host Nichols interjected something like: “I don’t want to ask your opinions, that’s not what we do.”

Hello! What are you there for then? No wonder CBC panelists spout drivel so much of the time. This obviously comes down from CBC management. They are afraid they will offend Harper and his gang. It is disgraceful that I hear this kind of bland “commentary” in Canada, but when I go to countries such as Kenya, Guyana, and Trinidad to do training, commentators are allowed to really comment. 

Slaughter requires a fearless motto

Do you suppose the military forces of the world lock a group of folks in a room until they come up with would-be courageous mottoes for their units and operations?

Their slogans are often ridiculous.

The U.S. military trainers sent into Ukraine after the CIA inspired overturn of the government have the motto: “Operation Fearless Guardian.” 39 Canadian Brigade Group has a Latin motto that translates as: "splendour without diminishment." I guess they wrote that one during Roman days. And the Chinese get right to the point with: “fear no pain, fear no challenge, fear no death.”

Another example of Tory incompetence

I don’t suppose you’ll be surprised when I say that the federal Conservatives are incompetent when it comes to implementing projects they’ve approved.

The latest I’ve noticed is a small project, but one that nevertheless is important to those involved. According to Embassy News, in July 2014 the government called for applications for interns under the International Youth Internship Program.

The delay is affecting several small NGOs and dozens of young people. The government won’t say if the money will be provided, even though it was approved in the budget.

The conspiracy controlling us

Mainstream media in Canada and the United States is linked in an ideological, non-written conspiracy that favours right-wing thought and activities over public interests. Because I am able to follow media coverage carefully, I know this is a very serious problem.

Millions of people are denied fair and balanced coverage and lack adequate information to vote intelligently in elections.

The most recent example of the media conspiracy is taking place in Ontario with media acting as cheerleader for the government’s sale of 60 per cent of Ontario Hydro. The only good mainstream article I’ve seen questioning this is by Thomas Walkom in The Star. The mainstream has suppressed coverage of another big story, this one about the efforts of a small group to have the Bank of Canada take over finding of the governments of the country.

It would mean the saving of billions of dollars that taxpayers fork over to private banks. Big media is ideologically opposed, so it isn’t covering it. A third is the near unanimous way Big Media is going along with the destruction and now giving away of the Wheat Board. But of course you know that our country is in big trouble.


     - January 18, 2015

Justice Minister Peter MacKay

BUT . . . . . . 

Lawrence Martin is one of less-than-a-handful of journalists who is able to attack the underbelly of the Conservative colossus and still – so far at least – keep his mainstream column with The Globe and Mail. I greatly approve of his frontal attack this week on Justice Minister Peter MacKay, with apologies to Peter’s mother, who I went to school with. MacKay is one of the biggest liars evert to hit the Canadian political stage. He should be facing war crimes charges for sending Afghan rebels to be tortured by brutal Afghan military regulars.

Martin points out how MacKay positions himself at the right of an already right-wing party. The journalist describes how MacKay believes in the slammer-is-the-answer philosophy, and that “he likes hard anti-prostitution laws and a hard approach to soft drugs. In the Defence portfolio he wanted to militarize to the hilt. In Foreign Affairs he was a China-basher.”

Martin credits MacKay with being a “central player” in the right-wing tilt of our society. “He presided over the death of the Progressive Conservative party, which was swallowed up by the more ideological Canadian Alliance Party.” MacKay’s “evolution is an example of the tenacious strength of the right’s grip. In the days of past Tory leaders, those who control the party today would have been regarded as reddish-necked fringe players. In the new Canada, they are entrenched.”

NOT Amanda Lang to read The National

I don’t know what I was thinking when I thought Amanda Lang would be a good successor to Peter Mansbridge to anchor the CBC’s The National. She seemed smart and progressive when fending off nutbar Kevin O’Leary on The Lang and O'Leary Exchange. It wasn’t until the year-ender of Rex Murphy’s Cross-Canada Check-up that I heard her really spout off about how important it is for Canada to develop the tar sands, without making any reference to the environmental consequences.

Lang, who happens to be the daughter of former Liberal Cabinet Minister Otto Lang, has had three run-ins with the conflict-of-interest police.  In September she warmly welcomed Manulife CEO Donald Guloien to her show to explain the company’s expansion. Viewers were unaware that Lang had been paid to speak at Manulife seminars.

So take your pick: Lang is either unaware of the appearance of conflict-of-interest or she doesn’t give a damn.

2015 the year U.S. progressives will take charge?

It’s obvious that progressive politics are in bad shape in America when one of its great leaders and idealists says that liberals and leftists must finally organize and take charge. Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders says on Truthdig that “in the year 2015 our job is to gain control over the national debate, stay focused on the issues of real importance to the American people, stand up for our principles, educate and organize.”

I have only kind words for the very dedicated Senator Sanders, but point out that progressive leaders – from both the U.S. and Canada – have made similar appeals every January for the past 30 years.

Process may help clean up Canadian mines

The Guardian newspaper probably provides the best day-to-day coverage of climate change and environmental issues of any traditional newspaper. The fact that it refuses to allow climate change deniers a voice in the paper shows how serious it is about environmental issues.

The paper also provides lots of stories about creative ways to tackle environmental issues. A recent story talks about a pioneering research project to clean up a flooded British tin mine is using algae to harvest the precious heavy metals in its toxic water, while simultaneously producing biofuel. If the project, which is at a very early stage, is proven to work, it could have huge environmental benefits around the world. 

“It’s a win-win solution to a significant environmental problem,” said Dr Chris Chuck from the University of Bath’s Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies. “We’re putting contaminated water in and taking out valuable metals, clean water and producing fuel.” If this process works, it could be used to clear up thousands of Canadian mines that are spewing forth all kinds of pollutants.

Dreaming of Canadian energy prosperity

Back in the days when the NDP stood for a few things, it was in favour of nationalizing vital natural resources, such as the oil industry.  Pierre Trudeau’s National Energy Program was the closest we got to having any real say on what would happen with the country’s oil, but the greasy bunch of American and Canadian business types that dominated the industry were determined to siphon off all the profits possible.

The Alberta government was told to accept some of the lowest royalties in the world. Now Alberta and the whole country are missing the trillions of dollars Canada could have had if we had if we had nationalized the system or at least fought for the kinds of royalties the Norwegian government gets from the oil industry.

Folks made a big deal about the greatness of former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed when he passeD away, but I felt his behaviour was pretty treasonous. Imagine how strong our country would be now if we had created a two-price system for oil – one for exports and one for domestic use to give our business an edge. Of course I suppose only an independent country could get away with that.


     - DECEMBER 12, 2014

Davies retirement may signal defeat at the polls for NDP

After serving 40 years in public life, politician extraordinaire Libby Davies deserves to be able to
Libbie Davies
retire. But even having spent six consecutive terms in the House for the NDP, her decision raises serious questions about NDP chances next year. Would Libby really quit if she thought she had a chance to serve in government as a cabinet minister? Party insiders might now want to admit it publicly, but the NDP is returning to its traditional 3rd place in the standings. Skeptics say the party finishing second in 2011was a fluke caused by extraordinary circumstances. The resignation of NDP MP Glenn Thibeault to join the Ontario Liberals marks the fifth NDPer to leave the party. One problem is that, while leader Thomas Mulcair, is highly regarded for his integrity and his strong performances in the House, he lacks charisma. Until recently, the NDP led in the polls in Quebec, but now they are trailing in all districts of the country. Recent party standings: Liberals, 36 per cent; Conservatives, 32 per cent; and the NDP considerably back at 20 per cent.

Excellent site looks inside the minds of famous ‘green’ folks

I recently wrote a piece for Huffington Post about how European multi-national corporations are destroying the environment and climate in several Latin American countries – and leaving all the clean-up costs to the locals. My friend, author/journalist Silver Donald Cameron, points out that few Canadians know that the usual villain in a Latin American environmental horror story is a Canadian corporation. He says that the brave people who try to defend their lands are often murdered or falsely accused of criminal activities. He cites the case of Santiago Manuin Valera, who is on trial for incitement to murder after being shot eight times while defending the ancestral lands of the Awajun people. An interview with Manuin appears on Silver Don’s excellent site, the Green Interview, where you can see interviews with folks such as George Monbiot, Gwynne Dyer, and the late Farley Mowat.

Should Peter MacKay have faced war crimes charge?

How quickly mainstream media forget – especially when it comes to holding the Harper crew of social misfits accountable! Amid all the criticism of the CIA torturing people under its rendition program, the media don’t seem to remember that Canadian forces turned something like 1,000 Taliban prisoners over to the brutal and sadistic Afghanistan military over a 10-year period. Did the Afghan’s torture many of those prisoners, and should then-Defence Minister Peter MacKay had the common sense to realize they almost certainly did? But instead of admitting the truth, McKay and the Cons clammed up, refusing to allow media to get their hands on damaging files. A reminder that, under international law, a country that hands over to a prisoner to certain torture is liable for war crimes prosecution. Every time I see McKay, I think of this.

Let’s make Google pay everywhere!

An interesting battle is under way in Spain over whether news-robbing Google News should be forced to pay for using news produced by the country’s newspapers. The government plans to implement a tax to charge Google for its use of the publishers' news. Rather than pay the levies, Google has cancelled its news service in Spain, a move which the publishers admitted “will undoubtedly have a negative impact on citizens and Spanish businesses.” This particular Google News site does not carry advertising, so Google argues it would lose money if it had to pay for content. Now the publishers have requested that the European Commission and the Spanish government intervene to stop Google News' closure. As many of you know, I’m not a fan of corporate mainstream media, but I still think the Spaniards are right. Action is needed around the world to cope with news sites that pirate information. Hmmmm, if Google had to pay, maybe I’d be able to ding them for 25-cernts a story!

Hangover of fascism alive in French city

The city of Marseille has a short memory and seems to be incredibly insensitive. The French city is being blasted for using Nazi-era tactics to identify its homeless population. All homeless people must wear ID cards surrounded by yellow triangle. The cards detail their health issues and must be worn visibly. Human rights groups and government ministers have slammed the “yellow triangle cards”, comparing them to the Nazi-era Star of David that was sewn onto Jewish people’s clothes during the Holocaust. I always think of France as a sophisticated country but there are serious poverty issues. There has been a steep rise in the deaths of street children, and a homeless person dies every 20 hours somewhere in the country.

Let us see Ottawa shooter’s video

The RCMP is very selective when it comes to what video it wants the public to see concerning the shooting on Parliament Hill. They made available what the CBC describes as “a harrowing compilation of security video” that provided a PR-type picture of how police say the attack unfolded. However, they did not release a video recording gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau made of himself just before the shooting. It seems that the man makes specific reference to Canada's foreign policy as motivation for his actions and that he praises Allah. I in no way am defending the terrible shooting committed by Zehaf-Bibeau but, if he did have some interesting ideas, instead of letting us hear them, the government prefers to label him paint him as a fanatical terrorist.  Of course they are afraid that the video might be used by radicals for publicity purposes. C’mon RCMP, let us see the video.

Liberals vote for proportional rep.

A recent vote in the House of Commons on whether MPs are in favour adopting a form of proportional representation received very little media attention. While the motion by NDP member Craig Scott was defeated, it’s interesting that NDP, Bloc, Green and Forces et Démocratie MPs were joined by a majority of Liberals and Independents in voting in favour of the proposal. Fair Vote praised Liberal leader Justin Trudeau for allowing his caucus members to vote anyway they wished. Interestingly, 16 Liberal MPs voted for the motion, but 15 did not. I doubt that Trudeau liked the outcome. When he talks about voting systems Trudeau sounds like he supports a progressive voting system, but it’s only slightly better than our current first-past-the-post system. It just allows voters to rank their preferences. Critics say Trudeau’s system “eats the smaller parties and props up a two-party-big-tent system.” Click here to Fair Vote resources and download the primer Why PR?


     - NOVEMBER 30, 2014

Nadeau-Dubois makes a huge contribution

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois
I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Quebec activist/author Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois explain his ideas on how social change can be accomplished through strategic campaigning – the same techniques used to defeat a Quebec government. Now Nadeau-Dubois is responsible for putting more than powerful words into a campaign. He won the Governor General's Award for French-language non-fiction, and donated the entire $25,000 to the campaign to stop the Energy-East pipeline project. He then challenged others to donate. The last fund total I saw was a remarkable $336,000!

Wal-Mart sticks it to Cape Breton

Cape Breton has one of the highest levels of unemployment in the country and a recent report said that one of every three children on the Island is living in poverty. But this kind of news doesn’t count for anything with Wal-Mart, the ugly giant multinational corporation that had profits of more than $17-billion last year. Clearly, its profits aren’t high enough because it fired the little Cape Breton firm that removed its snow and the litter from the Sydney store and outsourced the contract to Ontario. Meanwhile, GMC Solutions, the Ontario firm, has no physical presence in Cape Breton and is searching for a local firm to perform the snow plowing at Wal-Mart. Amazingly, GMC Solutions contacted the Cape Breton firm and offered it a sub-contract to do the same job – but at much less money than they were paid before.

What are women thinking?

I don’t know why they’d want to be in a corporate boardroom, but women are very slowly increasing their numbers. They now account for 17 per cent of the seats on the top 500 corporations. A female friend of mine made it to the vice-president level of an ad agency a few years ago. The chauvinism and insensitivity was hard to take. She says that the Big Boss was making a key speech to inspire the troops to take on the competition and finished off his talk with “let’s go out there are show them that our dick is bigger than their dick!”

 Another mainstream rag

A lot of people who should know better are ga ga over the latest “hot” U.S. news source, Mashable, which claims to have 40 million monthly unique visitors and 19-million social media followers. Editor Jim Roberts was interviewed by Globe and Mail media reporter James Bradshaw at a Canadian Journalism Foundation event recently.  They really put on the dog, discussing how to manage “journalistic credibility with innovative forms of viral storytelling that connect with digital audiences.” Intrigued, I went to the site for as look. The first thing I saw was an ad for Starbucks, which told me that, although in a new form, this is just another mainstream rag.

The Pope and the Islamic State.

The Pope is sure a real Christian! Speaking to the folks at the European Union a few days ago, he said that western governments should, if at all possible, try to negotiate with the brutal Islamic State instead of bombing them back three or four centuries. We know that this fanatical bunch has become great at communicating their message, and now I’ve learned they’re buying as much gold and silver as they can get their hands on. They’re serious about having their own country and government and they want to bring back the metal currency of an Islamic powerhouse that ruled from Iran to Spain more than 1,200 years ago. Incidentally, ISIS and its partner groups have hauled in about $40-million from kidnappings during the past year. That will buy more than a few guns.

More to the MacIntyre story

CBC lied to us about what happened during the two days after fifth estate journalist Linden MacIntyre unfortunately mentioned National anchor Peter Mansbridge in the same sentence as Jian Ghomeshi. This information comes from extraordinaire blogger Jesse Brown.
Jennifer Harwood and Jennifer McGuire of the News Department weren’t giving us the whole story when they said Harwood’s email trying to stop MacIntyre from coming onto CBC property was a “heat of the moment thing.” Harwood happens to be married to Mark Harrison, the Executive Producer of the National. It seems that an infuriated Harrison contacted Linden’s boss, Jim Williamson of the fifth estate, and tried to get MacIntyre’s final documentary pulled from running. Of course MacIntyre’s excellent report ran, as it should have.  In one of the meetings CBC manager Paul Hambleton is alleged to have said that “we should drag MacIntyre in here and make him fall on his sword.” CBC executives are known for issuing ridiculous emails to staff at the time – particularly ones that congratulate staff after a program that everyone knows was pretty bad was aired. This set of errors was just worse than usual.

Corporations to have control over seeds

The Conservatives are sticking it to farmers. The National Farmers Union (NFU) complains that the new Agricultural Growth Act gives seed breeders – increasingly large multinational companies – massive new rights over seed along with the power to extract vast amounts of money from farmers. Plant breeders will now have exclusive rights over seed by allowing them complete control over the saving and reusing, conditioning, stocking, importing and exporting of seed. I wonder if Cargill, Monsanto and the like had a hand in drafting the legislation.

     - NOVEMBER 18, 2014

One clear benefit of Ghomeshi scandal 

It seems that Jian Ghomeshi’s brutal attacks on women and NFL player Ray Rice’s hitting his wife in an elevator has made more women come forward after being attacked. During the last seven weeks Canada’s oldest shelter for abused women in Toronto saw a 39-per-cent increase in calls from women seeking help, and the increase is continuing. Interval House has also seen a record number of volunteer groups coming to help the shelter, and there has been a spike in donations. Strangely, other similar centres have not seen changes. Perhaps this is partly because Interval House and ad agency KBS’s Cause Company to release an anti-violence video. 

Grotesque monument
proposed for Cape Breton

You have to see it to believe it – a proposed massive war monument, an 8 storey-high statue called "Mother Canada" (pictured below) that could be erected on a breathtakingly beautiful spot along Cape Breton’s famous Cabot Trail.

Mother Canada - Cape Breton, NS

It would look out across the Atlantic toward Europe where tens of thousands of Canadians soldiers died in battle. It is proposed for a national park, which is against the rules. Some Cape Bretons say it would be a great tourist attraction.
Surely this won’t proceed!

Tar sands oil to double!

If you thought the current slowdown in the economy and the drop in world oil prices might mean a cutback in the production of goo from the tar sands, think again. The International Energy Agency says that Canadian production “will be a very important cornerstone of the security of global oil markets.” Canadian production will grow from four million barrels a day to 7.4 million by 2030, with virtually all of the growth coming from the tar sands.

Coming of age

Margaret Atwood is 75!

Poloz Brilliance... 

A few days ago the Bank of Canada President suggested that , if university graduates couldn't get jobs, they could work for free and live in their parent's basement.

Pro-frackers go after Yoko, Redford 

The U.S. energy sector, not surprisingly, is playing dirty in its attacks on the anti-fracking movement. Some of the tactics are pretty disgusting. For example, a billboard in Pennsylvania features an image of Yoko Ono and asks the question, “Would you take energy advice from the woman who broke up The Beatles?” Another billboard targets Robert Redford and says, “Demands green living. Flies on private jets.”

Jail for Harper too!

The pathetic, no doubt ill man who wore the fake military outfit on Remembrance Day has been charged and a lot of people want to see him jailed.  In Canada, it is illegal to wear a Forces uniform or marks or decorations related to service if you did not earn them. It is a summary offence, punishable by six months in prison or a $5,000 fine. Hmmm…. If that’s law, that disillusioned man he should have some company. Last year Stephen Harper wore a Canadian Forces flight jacket when surveying flood-damaged Alberta. As Jeff Rose-Martland pointed out on Huffington Post, Harper has never served in the Forces. Even retired service folks are warned to get permission before wearing their service uniforms. A lot of military folks were very upset with Harper. As Rose-Martland quipped: “Someone explain to the PM that a CF jacket is not like a Calgary Flames jersey.”

Jurno Glen Greenwald on Hillary:

“It’s easy to strike a pose of cynicism when contemplating Hillary Clinton’s inevitable (and terribly imminent) presidential campaign. As a drearily soulless, principle-free, power-hungry veteran of DC’s game of thrones, she’s about as banal of an American politician as it gets. One of the few unique aspects to her, perhaps the only one, is how the genuinely inspiring gender milestone of her election will (following the Obama model) be exploited to obscure her primary role as guardian of the status quo.” I’ll second that!

And below the equator

In the Brazilian jungle, developing my skills as a blow dart expert. LOL.


  1. Your favorable comment about Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois is totally justified.
    Pierre Jasmin

  2. Excellent sharing! The post was remarkable and made very fine points there. Thanks for sharing here!

  3. What an asshole you are.

  4. Nick, you forgot to mention that our Canadian forces are now in Ukraine in heroic "splendour without diminishment ", helping Americans and Ukrainians beat up on Russian speaking Ukrainians (proxy targets for Putin?).