Targeted Sanctions #Cdnpoli #sanctiontrump

With the announcement today that Ivanka Trump is to receive security clearance, office space, and unprecedented access in the White House I feel it is time to revisit my idea on Twitter that the Trump administration warrants Canadian sanctions. Not being a lawyer I might be wrong but my understanding is international law gives Donald J Trump himself immunity. That immunity does not extend to his family nor any of his business interests, nor to his cabinet and their business interests. Canada already has the Special Economic Measures Act to lay sanctions.

Broad sanctions will hurt Canada and vulnerable Americans and not really be noticed by the Trump administration. Targeting the Trump family, Trump business empire, and those of the Trump administration who are poised to use their position for personal gain would be far more effective. Current Sanctions by Canada are for questionable election results, oligarchical seizure of public assets, denial of Human Rights, and destruction of essential services.

Donald Trump’s recent actions against democratic governance, Human Rights, public assets, denial of service, and fostering fear in minority groups should worry us. If they were committed by a leader in the developing world we would not hesitate to call on international sanctions. When African leaders are elected under suspicion or blatant fraud we slap sanctions on within days or weeks. With the suspicion of Russian involvement of in November’s results it would be hypocrisy of Canada not to sanction the United States regime as we would any African, South American, or Asian regime.

When North Korea or Iran sabre rattles and threatens to use weapons of mass destruction we don’t try to foster friendship and engagement we tighten the sanctions. When Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe pitted “veterans” against farmers and farm labourers to steal land we didn’t open trade negotiations to secure our market we sanctioned. How is Trump’s forcing through pipelines on Native lands, targeting of minorities, and threats of war with North Korea any different?

With the disturbing ties between the Trump administration and the Russian Federation’s government and ruling oligarchy we could call targeted sanctions as an extension of our current Russian sanctions. Those sanctions are in part due to the Russian annexation of Crimea and the proxy war in Ukraine. The call for NATO nations to spend more money while stating that the alliance is no longer relevant and that the United States wouldn’t come to members’ aid threatens security and may foster an international crises. The calls to end sanctions on Russia without Russia changing its support for its proxy wars or returning Crimea will embolden the expansion of Vladimir Putin’s empire.

It is Canada’s interests to sanction the Trump administration, as it will embolden resistance to Trump and roll back of some terrible policies. Millions of Americans have lost healthcare access and we Canadians can expect greater fraud in our systems as a result. Refugee bans have a greater number of people risking their lives to come to Canada and American minority groups might end up joining them. The removal of restrictions on small arms may foster more violence on American streets that spills into Canada. Already the unchecked hate and threats against minorities has spread north and cost Canadian lives. Tariffs on Mexico will hurt Canadian jobs dependant on supplying or being supplied by Mexican industry.

It is ultimately up to Americans to decide Trump’s fate, and by extension their own. Do they wait until America is a battleground or do they move quickly for a peaceful transition? Sanctions on the Trump regime can starve that regime of resources and distance support from people and organizations that are vulnerable to sanctions being imposed. Targeted sanctions may cost a few Canadian jobs, but doing nothing may cost many Canadian lives. Which is easier to replace, a lost job or a lost life?

The announcement today that Ivanka Trump is to be her father’s chief and most trusted advisor reminds me of Stalin and his daughter. By the end even Stalin’s favourite daughter wasn’t trusted by a paranoid dictator that had seized unchecked power. The Trump administration is working to removes checks on executive power and turn the United States into the Trump family’s personal property. Maybe sanctions on Ms Trump will convince her to reign her father in before she to is cut out of the decisions.

Three Nations, Three Tzars #Canada #Russia #Zimbabwe

As an interesting thought study let’s compare and contrast three world leaders; Vladimir Putin, Robert Mugabe and Stephen Harper. Okay, one is merely head of government while the other two are heads of state and of government, but let’s not give Stephen Harper any ideas. Taking a step back and looking at these three leaders proves there are eerie similarities that should concern people.

Robert Mugabe hasn’t been international headline news for a few years but when he was it was for his policy of evicting white farmers and their employees from the productive land. The results were a loss of confidence in the local currency, exodus of people from Zimbabwe and food shortages, all to benefit Mugabe supporters who had no clue on how to farm. The situation in Ukraine and Crimea is little different, instead of land it is a Black Sea port, natural resources and reclaiming the glory of past Tzars such as Stalin. Harper to is looking to exploit someone else’s resources to benefit his friends, First Nations are losing out on their Treaty Rights to a fair share of resource revenue this hasn’t lead to violence or force but the potential is there.

Mugabe has his “Veteran’s”, Putin has his fighter plane and Harper has his photo op backgrounds of service personnel. All three scoundrels wrap themselves in patriotism (and religion to an extent) and wave the flag to help cover their varying degrees of kleptocracy. Harper isn’t benefiting now but watch what he does when leaving office, corporate boards, think tanks and lobbying firms are waiting to reward him for his current efforts. These leaders and their tame journalists want us to believe everything they do is for the good of the country, the economy and only they can succeed. Putin says it is wrong to interfere in another country’s affairs, unless he needs to do it, in this Harper and Mugabe are little different even if not annexing bits of the neighbours.

When it comes to dissent all three leaders are more or less equally hostile to opponents. Canada may have escaped show trials and assassinations so far but Harper still brands opponents as enemies, terrorists or traitors. Canada’s domestic secret service, CSIS, like the Federal Security Bureau in Russia is targeting anyone who questions, dissents, or opposes the Harper Government’s agenda. The independence of courts, arms lengths government bodies, oversight and accountability officers and journalists are constantly put under threat. Everything is an absolute, either get in line or you’re working against the country. Conspiracy theories are pushed by the tame media and by puppet politicians, there are plots to ruin everything by the West, Europe, Liberals, Elitists, Communists, Fascists and others. Everything is framed as a survival war against keeping the hard working regular people from being oppressed.

Everything to protect people, keep order, maintain the appearance of justice is justified. Denial of Human Rights, ignoring International Law, betrayal of allies, sacrifice of principles, throwing people under the bus and violence are all acceptable means to the greater end. People who serve no use are quickly dismissed, examples being Canada’s missing Aboriginal women or Russia’s trafficked women. Once groups of people become expendable or declared enemies it is more democratic to accuse them of election fraud and disenfranchise them. Questionable elections in Russia and Zimbabwe will soon look familiar to Canadians as Harper’s “Fair Elections Act” receives a rubber stamp from Parliament without real scrutiny. The Canadian Senate is no help, as it has gone from an independent body tasked to review legislation to a royal court to serve the man who appointed them.

Some groups see the situation in these three nations and advocate revolution, protests or disengagement. All three nations have history of meeting revolutionaries with a disproportionate levels of violence. When you add the potential of someone equally bad or worse using the chaos and anarchy to grip power revolution becomes an equal threat to democracy as corruption of the current systems are. Demonstrations and protests might make a few people more aware and may make world headlines for a bit but ultimately they are either put down as rebellions, outlawed, splinter or exhaust themselves. Disengagement is exactly why these three countries are stuck with tzars, because uneducated, uninformed, unaware people can never be democratic.

The only solution to having a tzar is to get more people informed, engaged and aware. Voting is not engagement any more than protesting is, it just makes the system look broken and leads to new schemes to “fix” it in someone else’s favour. Those of us who are informed and engaged can not let others remain ignorant and disengaged. If they complain about lacking interest then frame things in their interests, if lacking time free up some time for them, if unaware of the issues or system then help them discover both. Break down the barriers, silos, and all other distinctions for they’re merely walls in the prison, divides so we may be ruled.

In all three nations tyranny has exacted high prices in blood and treasure. Rhodesia to Zimbabwe, Soviet Union to Russian Federation, British North America to Canada were all hard roads to travel, it would be a shame to give up on the resultant democracies. Remember that Robert Mugabe, Vladimir Putin and Stephen Harper are not yet tzars, they still answer to the people. Let’s remind them of that by ignoring them engaging with each other over Crimea and other matters, don’t forget to make them aware of our decisions afterward and fire them if they don’t do as they’re told. With the tensions in the world it would be foolish to trust world leaders to get things right, populations must also enter into dialogues with each other.

The Royal Republic #Cdnpoli

Originally this post was to be called Togas to Twitter and was to be restricted to the work of the Canadian Senate. The idea for it was given by a friend who wanted something about people’s misunderstanding of what the Senate is and does. The problem is not the misunderstanding of the Senate but of the entire Canadian political system and the various elements that make it up. Many people ignorantly compare the Canadian system to the United States’ system, but this is comparing apples to star fruit. The Constitution Act uses the term Westminister Model but even comparing Canada and Britain’s systems is apples and pears. Here is my opinion on various parts of our system.

Canada is a Democracy with a Queen instead of a president. This is a good thing because it is far to easy for republics to become dictatorships, most seem to end up that way. Separating the Head of State from the Head of Government is essential in preserving democracy in Canada. There is benefit to not having an elected head of state, no expensive elections means their is stability and the long view can be taken. How vulnerable would Canadian democracy be with someone beholding to those who got him/her elected? Having the Queen’s residual power of dismissing cabinets, dissolving parliaments and declaring war in the hands of a partisan individual would lead to disaster. Perhaps patriating our monarch the way we did our constitution would be the best solution to cut the final ties with the colonial era.

The Supreme Court of Canada is the fail safe valve for our individual rights and the final appeal for our justice system. The nine judges are deemed to represent the Queen and are appointed upon the consent of council, council being the Prime Minister. Playing partisan politics with any court let alone the Supreme Court eliminates the ability to preserve individual freedoms in the face of public opinion. The Justices are to be impartial to the point where they can not vote or be members of political parties. In the absence of the Governor General the Chief Justice acts as Canada’s head of state, which should never be beholding to a political party.

Canada’s Senate was never intended to be like the United States Senate and never should. The Canadian Senate is meant to be a legislative editor, catching the mistakes made by the House of Commons. By not being elected allows the Senators to take a longer view at issues and subjects so they can be analysed thoroughly. The Conservative dream of an Elected, Equal and Effective (Triple E) Senate would create gridlock, reduce the ability of effective research and be corrupt. Senate elections would be so expensive Senators would be at the mercy of the special interest groups and voters. The abolishment of the Senate would lead to poor legislation, the tyranny of Parliament and increased court challenges, especially now that the legislative review team at the Justice Department is being by passed.

Ideally the House of Commons is the second most powerful institution in Canada. Direct Democracy is impossible outside of small, remote tribes. Canada once practiced responsible government where the executive answered to the peoples’ elected representative. Since Confederation the power of Members of Parliament has been reduced to seat warming and cheerleading for the party leader. MPs are supposed to hold their leaders, the cabinet and the Queen to account not answer to them. The Westminister Model used in Canada is the result of civil wars, rebellions and sacrifice yet what is happening in Parliament now is reversing every achievement since the Magna Carta. All party leaders are becoming to powerful and MPs are being to obedient, so the first reform should be each party caucus dismissing their leader. Until MPs exercise that basic power of choosing the House’s leadership Canada will suffer irresponsible government.

Not one member of cabinet, even the Prime Minister is elected. All cabinet members are appointed by the Queen, tradition dictates they must be sitting Members of Parliament and occasionally Senators. In order for the Queen to appoint someone Prime Minister the House of Commons must consent. In fact if a majority of MPs decide to topple the current cabinet and form an Elizabeth May led coalition it is perfectly acceptable, legal and purely democratic. The government of Canada answers to Canadians through Parliament and the only way to get around that is to call an election. Yet an election does not need to be called if a majority of MPs decide to continue until the Constitutional five years kicks in.

Ministers are supposedly responsible for the policy direction of their departments and have to answer to colleagues in Parliament for their decisions. Yet increasingly it is Canada’s Civil Service who is blamed for cabinet policies. The civil service is traditionally outside the political sphere as the implementors and advisors of policy. Currently the unelected, unaccountable staff at the partisan Prime Minister’s Office is bullying the civil service into breaking the rules. The environment government employees face is one of suspicion, fear for their career and public humiliation for not going along with The Harper Government. This will eventually mean those who serve the rest of us are incompetent or corrupt leaving us with horrible and expensive service, if any.

Citizens in a democracy are the holders of the nations sovereignty. The Queen may where the crown but the crown symbolizes the power of Canadians not of the nice English woman with the dogs and horses. Canadians through ignorance and idiocy have created the problems in Canadian Democracy. Buying into the populist rhetoric that, we just have to pick a party and go to Tim’s and all will be well, is leading to tyranny. Allowing over generations the reduction of MPs to trained seals barking on cue, of alienation between governed and government, of buying into the lies of civil servants having no value or paying taxes as being evil then Canadians have given away sovereignty.

Citizenship is the most important institution we have to preserve democracy. It isn’t given to us but will be taken away if we remain ignorant of the system as it is intended and as it has become and we will lose it if we continue to ignore our duty to ourselves by holding the elected to account. Government in Canada has become incompetent, corrupt and controlled by special or regional interests. If citizens don’t reclaim the central role of government than they cease being citizens and become serfs.

Canada does not need to reinvent the government institutions, Canadians need to be citizens. Which means spending some time to get informed on the issues and getting involved. Remember it is far easier to sacrifice some time and energy than sacrificing life, limb and sanity like far to many Canadian citizens have.

Some reading suggestions:

Wrong Side of History

It is an amazing time in global history. People power is changing the world, for the better or the worse, people are mobilizing. Rights and Democracy are the goal for youth denied a say, opportunity or freedom. Aging tyrants and there aging supporters are being shown the door or forced to reform. Libya is descending into civil war because their dictator is stubborn. Through out the world, but mainly Africa and the Middle East we see people fed up with tyranny and demanding free and fare elections. People want and need destiny in their hands not in the hands of a unaccountable few.

This is nothing new, just democratic evolution. Canadians once took up arms to demand accountable, responsible government. The Lower and Upper Canada rebellions in the 1830s were our calls for an end to the Family Compact regime. The rebellions failed as violence often does, but the seed of reform lead to the evolutionary process that gives every citizen over 18 a vote. Wouldn’t the rebels of the 1830s be shocked at us today?

Canadians have become docile, weak and pathetic. We are no longer a people with responsible government but slaves of an autocratic regime backed by international fascism. Stephen Harper is the biggest threat to Canadian democracy and security since the Cold War. He has convinced us we do not want an election, because the economy is to fragile. Harper’s policies will keep it fragile until he and his backers have absolute power. They have a goal of destroying the educated, informed Middle Class and anyone else who will question their policy.

Stephen Harper may not become Canada’s first dictator, but he is laying the foundation for one. He has become the Conservative Party, no one has dared challenge him openly since he unified the Alliance and PCs. He attacks democratic and judicial institutions, uses procedural tricks and controls the agenda. The latest controversy has him demanding civil servants to break the rules, renaming the Canadian government as the Harper Government. Why does that remind me of a speech praising Hitler?

Senate Reform is a big item in the Conservative agenda. They claim the House of Lords needs to be more democratic. Harper has reformed it the way Caesar modified Rome’s. He has stacked it with his supporters and people who owe him. The claim is it will lead to a more democratic Senate when he can get enough support to. As current events and history show us, a powerful upper house comes at the expense of the lower house, the House of Commons.

We as Canadians need to remind Stephen Harper it is our government, the citizens. The elected office is essential but the office holder, from Prime Minister to Student President, is expendable. To many Canadians are indifferent to the political situation, many others are looking for alternate methods of democracy but our system, when it is working, is the best in history. The Westminster Model has survived because it is the most flexible system and the most powerful when the people are ready to back it.

This threat to democracy has been coming long before Stephen Harper. For decades we have been called tax payers instead of citizens. Serfs to paid taxes but that didn’t mean they had freedom. The Harperites shout ‘Chrétien did it!’ as if it was okay then to. These hypocrites condemned previous governments for weakening democracy, now they are accelerating democracy’s decline. Just imagine the fury if it had been a Liberal who had added ‘not’ to a document.

Harper and the Harperites must be held to account. We are a nation of laws, traditions and precedence dating back to before Confederation. Will we crank up our MP3 players and ignore what is happening under Harper? We have a choice to make this spring, Harper or Democracy. Which is better for Canada? Which will put us on the correct side of history?

The Speaker’s Ruling

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/historic-ruling-to-decide-who-holds-real-power-in-ottawa/article1541233/

The Speaker is ruling soon on whether if the Government of Canada has the right to withhold documents from Parliament. The Conservatives argue that there are limits to Parliamentary privilege and supremacy. The opposition and oddly enough history agrees Parliament is Supreme and the executive must be held to account by it. The Speaker’s decision doesn’t just have consequences for Canada but for Westminster Parliaments worldwide. Allowing the myth: ‘National Security trumps Parliament’ returns us to the Divine Right of Kings. For everything the Federal Government does in future will suddenly have National Security implications and Parliament will have to accept that.

We already know Stephen Harper believes Parliament is there only to reaffirm the last election results. He says as much in a 1997 speech where he sees Parliament as little more than a rubber stamp for those in power. He spent the Liberal years whining about our system not letting him in and now is using the same system, the same way to achieve absolutism.

The problem for Harper and his minions is the Constitution Act 1867 has Section 91:

Powers of Parliament

91. It shall be lawful for the Queen, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate and House of Commons, to make Laws for the Peace, Order and good Government of Canada, in relation to all Matters not coming within the Classes  of Subjects by this Act assigned exclusively to the Legislatures of the Provinces; and for greater Certainty, but not so as to restrict the Generality of the foregoing Terms of this Section, it is hereby declared that (notwithstanding anything in this Act) the exclusive Legislative Authority of the Parliament of Canada extends to all Matters coming within the Classes of Subjects next hereinafter enumerated; that is to say, –

7. Militia, Military and Naval Service, and Defence.

29. Such Classes of Subjects as are expressly excepted in the Enumeration of the Classes of Subjects by this Act assigned exclusively to the Legislatures of the Provinces.

Notice how the Constitution gives power over these matters to Parliament and there is no mention of the Prime Minister, Cabinet or National Security trumping Parliament. In fact Defence is Parliament’s domain. If information is being withheld from Parliament and Parliament has to oversee National Defence then what Stephen Harper and his party are doing is a threat to national security. The Speaker has no choice to rule the Government in contempt, to do otherwise is to put our Nation in jeopardy.

The Constitution Act 1982 has a Charter of Rights and Freedoms that is meant to hold the Government to a high standard of action. The part on individual rights and freedoms is extended to all individuals the Government of Canada deals with, yes even the horrible Taliban. Holding back information from Parliament in this case is to avoid being called on a rights and freedoms violation. If we are to be true to our selves as Canadians we cannot allow even the most horrid of people to be violated. It is the lack of these Rights and Freedoms we are told the war in Afghanistan is all about. Are those being captured by our troops being provided the right of Habeous Corpus? Are they truly being treated like Prisoners of War with all the rights and protections found in International Law? Do we follow the Golden Rule?

The argument that they are the enemy and would do it to us is a fallacy. We are there to gain the rule of law for a lawless people and some would have us do it by sacrificing our own rule of law. The atrocities committed by our side will legitimize the atrocities committed against our side. We must set an example and use that higher standard as a weapon against those who make laws up on the fly and punish without remorse or mercy. Of course brutality and savagery is okay when dealing with an enemy, the logic being to become them or to become worse than them is victory in itself. Those who believe the previous statement are those who use the law as a shield when they are on the receiving end.

The thought of Stephen Harper campaigning on Executive Privilege, National Security trumping Democracy, Parliaments irrelevance and an unpopular war is comforting for this Liberal. I’m sure many hard core Reform minded Conservatives will forget to circle voting day on their calendars. Alas, Harper is already trying to change the channel to his Law and Order agenda. Funny how a man in contempt of one law can be so gung-ho about the ones he wants enforced. He cares not for laws governing Canadian Democracy, regulation of businesses, or a gun registry the police use thousands of times a day.

Coalitions

Yet again I hear the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister saying that prorogation is needed to prevent anti-democratic coalitions. I must really scratch my head or bang it against a wall here. The current government is legitimate because it has more seats than any other party, on 33% of the votes cast. Only 23% of eligible voters actually cast a ballot for a Conservative. Yet the rest of us who didn’t vote Conservative or at all are illegitimate? Our system of elections does not allow for direct election of any member of cabinet. Only a few people in Calgary actually voted for Stephen Harper.Yet these few Calgarians seem to have more power than all of Canada combined. According to the Conservatives the only people who count are those in the PMs riding an to go against them is undemocratic. When did we change from responsible representative government to the undemocratic Electoral college system?

Our system is representative and coalitions are traditional, yet we are told by Neo-conservatives coalitions are illegitimate. If that is the case are the actions of such governments also illegitimate? The Liberal-Conservative coalition of MacDonald, Cartier and Brown was not legitimate therefore there great achievement is not either. Everything done since confederation, built on that coalitions success is illegitimate. The coalition that saw us through the last years of World war One was also illegitimate, therefore our part of the victory was as well. In fact the whole victory was as Britain and France also had coalitions as the Republicans served with Democrats in the United States at the time.

The current government itself is a coalition of conservative groups, or was at one time. The current party is made up of small groups, the Reform Party and much of the Progressive Conservatives. Thus everything they have done in the last four years is illegitimate. They would argue they went to the polls as a coalition and thus gave Canadians an option. However that is exactly what all parties did. Our system is designed to get a coalition government. The diversity of the parties that can gain power combined with no party getting a monopoly of seats in the house is a coalition. Try putting legislation forward, even with a majority, that alienates a part of the party. We have seen Conservatives vote against things and be punished for diverse opinion. yet if we went back to our political roots no government would risk it for fear of a back benchers revolt and leadership change.

Stephen Harper may have destroyed democracy within the Conservative party and replaced it with absolutism but will we let that happen in parliament? The coalition option is off the table for now but it is always available when confidence is withdrawn from a ministry. That is responsible government. The Ministers are responsible to the House and the House to the Citizens. That is what we fought for in four rebellions, two world wars and countless small violent encounters since the 1830s.

We must remind the Conservatives that they are a minority, not just in seats but as representatives of the politics at large. A coalition would put more Canadian’s opinion on issues at the cabinet table. So how could that be undemocratic? My opinion isn’t at the table now, none of my issues are being dealt with, in fact I feel I have no Federal government at all. There increasing cuts and hostility to services I need to survive or get ahead in life makes me seek others who will meet those needs. Government is a service provider and this government acts like a corporate board aiming to milk the company dry and deploy golden parachutes. A coalition would better represent us the share holders.

Perhaps Stephen Harper and his backers believe in the CEO having Godlike powers over the real owners of the company.

If Freedom isn’t free is it still freedom?

First I must say ‘Freedom isn’t free’ is one of the worst phrases New Speak has come up with. In my opinion only tyranny costs blood and treasure. Only when we drop our guard and let the tyrants flourish do we have to make major sacrifices.

We are not vigilant about preserving our freedoms, so obviously we don’t care. We don’t all vote in elections and if we do we base our vote on popularity or narrow self interest. We refuse debate in our society whenever possible with pap phrases like ‘I don’t like confrontation’. Non violent conflict leads to progress and stronger democracy. Violent confrontation leads to tyranny and regress as does blind obedience.

So many people think cash, guns and SUVs are freedom but they are chains of enslavement. Tools to warp your mind and make it numb to the fascism that is rising through out the world. We provide socialism for billionaires and call it a bail out for the poor. We have people resorting to stunts and protests because only high paid lobbyist get into the halls of power. Corporations control more and more of our society and we accept it because without them we would be Communist? Roosevelt warned us what corporate government would bring and labelled it Fascism.

Why do I think SUVs, guns, etc. are chains of bondage? You have no choice to say no. The alternative to automobiles is? We are forced to choose the resource intense profit generating gas powered forms of transportation. We have no free market choice to say no to them and even public transit is another variation of them. The free market is a wonderful myth perpetuated on us. The market is a vassal of unelected unaccountable people who demand we lower their taxes and raise our own, who demand tax dollars be spent for their interest and not the peoples. They walk in the halls of power and dictate to our governments. It all sounds like neo-feudalism to me. At least we will get bread and circuses out of it.

The search for freedom isn’t in materialism, symbols, media or religion for these things are all controlled by the tyrants. The free market corrupted is corporatism or capitalism, where wealth is the only prize and the economy is a failure. Unable to fill the needs just a few wants. Faith corrupted is religion, there to deviously back those seeking absolutism. In those nations where the symbols are more important than the people Democracy is missing for in Democracy the only symbols need to be sentient, well educated and have a pulse. You call them citizens. You educate them because ignorance is another tool of tyranny as is information overload.