When Nelson Mandela decided to step down after only one term as president of his country, he created one of the world's most exclusive and tiniest clubs.
Almost nowhere do political leaders decide they are so easily dispensable.
In the rich world, most have to be defeated, or see humiliating defeat looming before retiring. In Africa, most leaders have had to be carried out in body bags, their bodies often weighed down with lead.
In this matter, as in so many others, "Madiba" was unique and set a glorious example, which the leaders who now honour him so piously have not the slightest intention of following.
But just being Mandela didn't always make him right.
Canadians who value their deep history of universal postal service are reeling from the latest round of cuts to Canada Post: the end of door-to-door delivery service accompanied by a hike in postage stamp costs.
In other words, higher prices for less service -- and it's all part of "an aggressive restructuring strategy."
The Globe and Mail reports that this would make Canada the only G7 country that doesn't provide home mail delivery service in urban centres.
It's enough to make one who knows even a little history gag.
The death of Nelson Mandela has led to an outpouring of vapid commentary about Canada's supposed role in defeating South African Apartheid. "Canada helped lead international fight against Apartheid", noted a Toronto Star headline while a National Post piece declared, "Canada's stance against apartheid helped bring freedom to South Africa."
In Barcelona last week, 50 water justice activists, trade unionists, researchers and water operators from 29 countries gathered to share analysis and strategies aimed at promoting democratic public water and sanitation services. The groups are loosely affiliated through the Reclaiming Public Water Network, which met previously in 2011.
As Satoko Kishimoto of the Transnational Institute pointed out the global water justice network has won many struggles over the last decade including formal recognition at the United Nations of water and sanitation as human rights.
Ignore the hypocritical utterances of hypocrites lauding Nelson Mandela. If you really want to honour Nelson Mandela, engage in the same kind of struggles that Nelson Mandela engaged in, and which set him free. And there are plenty to go around...
Last weekend was the tenth Anniversary of Stephen Harper's takeover of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada (PCPC).
On December 7, 2003, he illegally contrived to merge his Alliance Party with the PCPC under the name Conservative Party of Canada.
Canada, he hoped, would never be the same. Many Canadians whose opinions and beliefs are rooted in the former Tory party do not share his view.
When I came to Canada nearly 15 years ago, I could not have imagined that the place which is now my new home would be so accepting, accommodating and tolerant of other cultures. Here we learn how to earn respect by giving respect to others. This is the beauty of Canadian society, which allows hundreds of cultures to co-exist peacefully.Yom Ashura is a day of mourning observed by the Muslim community every year on the 10th of Moharram, the first month of the lunar calendar. This year, it was observed on Thursday, November 14.
Yesterday, in the first part of Chris Crass’s Harry Potter series, we learned how to get free of Voldemort’s systems of oppression. In this second article in Chris Crass is concentrating on the connection between love and freedom.
The Power of Love as the Practice of Freedom
After Dumbledore and Voldemort duel in the Ministry of Magic, Voldemort possesses Harry’s mind, and tells Dumbledore and Harry that their defeat is imminent. Voldemort declares that Harry’s efforts will fail and then fills his mind with images of the horrors that will engulf the world.
Will Munro contained multitudes. The Toronto queer icon was a brilliant artist, organizer, nightlife impresario, DJ, go-go dancer, longstanding volunteer at the Toronto LGBT Youthline, lifelong teetotaler and the world’s foremost creator of custom-made men’s underwear. But what Army of Lovers: A Community History of Will Munro by Sarah Liss demonstrates foremost is that Munro, who died of brain cancer in 2010 at the age of 35, was a community-builder; he was "a bringer-together of people, groups, and things."summary: Toronto artist Will Munro's life is captured in this stirring biography about self exploration, community building and the intersection of art and identity. related items Item 1: Queers are slutty, lesbians are boring Item 1 (Author, Where published) : Lesbians vs. queers, how queer feminism can be sexist, and, somehow, Halloween. Item 2: Inside Out: An interview with festival Program Director Andrew Murphy Item 2 (Author, Where published) : Inside Out is hitting Toronto and it is the largest event of its kind in Canada, showcasing the best and most diverse films by, for and of interest to LGBT communities. Item 3: 'Hellgoing' piles on life's uncertainties and allows characters to crawl through Item 3 (Author, Where published): Lynn Coady's new book of short stories 'Hellgoing' resonates with the challenges of life and people's ability to persevere.
Nelson Mandela's passing last week at the age of 95 has been met with a global outpouring of remembrance and reflection. A giant of modern human history has died. Mandela is rightly remembered for his remarkable ability to reconcile with his oppressors, and the political prescription his forgiveness entailed for the new South Africa. "Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another," Mandela said in his inaugural speech in Pretoria, on May 10, 1994. Nelson Mandela is rightly remembered for his remarkable ability to reconcile with his oppressors, and the political prescription his forgiveness entailed for the new South Africa.
@missrrachel Total lie.
— Tony Clement (@TonyclementCPC) December 6, 2013
A rumour has been going around for a number of years. It claims that Toronto-raised Tony Clement supported of Apartheid South African for his involvement in a speaking engagement of Glenn Babb.
But is it true?
Babb was the Canadian Ambassador to South Africa for 17 months in the mid-1980's. He was quoted in Canadian media hundreds of times lobbying intensively in support of the Reagan Administration's policy of "constructive engagement" rather than sanctions. He's best known for stirring up controversy comparing Canadian treatment of First-nations with South-African treatment of Blacks.
According to a 1986 article in the Toronto Star, "Babb insisted Canadians did not fully understand the degree to which his government has gone in easing restrictions against South Africa's black majority." The reality was that at the time brutal political violence was erupting in South Africa's black townships and only minor apartheid laws were being repealed. many black leaders and children were being beaten, fire bombed and murdered.
Arriving as ambassador in August, 1985, Babb dismissed Bishop Desmond Tutu's popularity and accused reporters of exaggerating violence in his country.
The U of T Controversy
Six months later Babb was invited to speak at the University of Toronto by the International Law Society as part of a debate with a Montreal professor on the applicability of international law to South Africa's internal policies. An earlier U of T talk with Babb was cancelled when a ceremonial mace was thrown at him.
An immediate outcry erupted from students and faculty. While many in the University fell behind the mantra of freedom of speech to allow Babb to speak, others pointed to Canada's laws on anti-hate discrimination. The invitation from the Law Society was rescinded when 4 professors launched a legal challenge noting that Babb "represents an unlawful government under repeated UN declarations" and that his ability to speak would have been an open invitation to "present criminal views".
Cathy Laurier, a Graduate Student Representative from U of T's governing council was one of many people against allowing Babb to speak:
"Our society does recognize limits on free speech. We do not give criminals the right to advocate their views freely. Apartheid has been declared by the United Nations to be a crime against humanity," she wrote at the time. "Babb's sole purpose is to defend the apartheid regime by embarking on propaganda tours, all at a time when the South African government has imposed a blackout on news coverage from that country."
Laurier was not the only one who felt that allowing Babb to speak would be tactic support for the apartheid regime. Other journalists noted at the time that Babb was "leading a campaign...in high schools, universities and community halls across the country...to press Ottawa to abandon its strong stand against apartheid."
Clement and Alan Riddell
But, for whatever reason, Tony Clement (a U of T law student at the time) and Alan Riddell, (a future Conservative candidate in Ottawa) were adamant about allowing Babb to do so. They felt that the rights of a South African pro-apartheid politican were so important to defend that, in the face of strong opposition, they went out of their way to ensure that Babb was able to speak. Immediately after the Law Society declined the invitation they formed an 'ad hoc' committee to reissue the invitation.
To be fair, both Clement and Riddell emphasized that they viewed apartheid as reprehensible in the press. But for some reason they made it a point of ensuring that Babb was able to spread his message of support for the apartheid regime claiming that "participating in a debate" was part of "ideals of Canadian freedom of speech". It is unclear why both of them focussed their energies on this particular issue.
Babb ended up speaking at U of T debating U of T law professor (and future interm Liberal leader) Bill Graham. Three hundred people protested outside.
At the time, many Conservatives supported the apartheid regime as a number of Canadian companies were heavily invested in South Africa's cheap black labour markets. Hundreds of millions in imports were coming into Canada from the regime.
Babb's message did ultimately did not stick; the Mulroney government followed a number of other countries and finally imposed strong sanctions against South Africa later that year. Babb was replaced as ambassador.
Still pro-apartheid elements of the Conservative party still remain.
Though Nelson Mandela's legacy has been questioned by a number of writers (go here and here for some good analysis), Rob Anders, a Conservative MP from Calgary, referred to Mandela as a terrorist in 2001. Anders also heckled Mandela in the House of Commons when Mandela visited years later and was the only MP to vote against him receiving an honorary degree.
In the wake of Mandela's death with a number of prominent Conservatives preparing to attend his funeral, Anders doubled down, again referring to Mandela as a terrorist.
Anders has also made transphobic remarks and stated that NDP Leader Tom Mulcair had hastened the death of former leader Jack Layton.
Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai, challenged Anders' view immediately following his latest comments against Mandela shortly after he had died.
There was no word or sanction from the Prime Minister...or Tony Clement.
The Canada Revenue Agency has no systems to go after large groups of rich tax cheats according to the Canadian Auditor General's fall report.
The report, which looked at data leaked to the CRA in 2007 from offshore accounts in Liechtenstein, found 182 people had been stashing money.
After grouping folks into 81'families' the agency found that:
35 were not audited because the Agency determined that the taxpayers were not residents of Canada or were deceased, or it was unable to identify or locate the taxpayers. For the taxpayers the Agency was unable to locate, our audit showed that on the basis of the information it had, there was little more the Agency could do to confirm the identity and location of those taxpayers. Of the 46 audits completed, 23 led to reassessments totalling $24.651 million in federal tax, interest, and penalties.
While the auditors report found that the CRA "managed the Liechtenstein list as intended, with the information and tools it had", it also found that "they were the first offshore audits that the Agency had undertaken on the basis of such an extensive informant lead"
In other words, the CRA has had no system to go after tax cheats when they receive a leak of information about them from an outside source.
Other troubling issues were raised by the auditors report which, for the most part, has been ignored by the media. Most importantly, in very, very, very stark contrast to protesters at the G20, though rich Canadians were clearly caught hiding money from the CRA, there were no prosecutions.
Closer examination of the report shows that far from prosecuting, the CRA was treating tax cheats with kid gloves. In a number of the cases, the tax cheats lawyers "requested an offer or agreement that would guarantee" no prosecution. The CRA signed these agreements in a number of cases.
Even for cases that had no agreement not to prosecute, the CRA only recommended two for prosecution and neither of those were followed up.
The workings of the CRA in going after hidden money directly contradicts the Conservatives statements about their desire to go after tax cheats. The government has publicly stated that they intend to raise more revenue from tax cheats and tackling tax havens, which has been estimated to hold almost $32 Trillion dollars in hidden wealth.
Previous stories by the Toronto Media Co-op have shown that not only has the Conservative government been avoiding cracking down on tax havens and tax cheats, but they have been actively interfering with attempts to reform the system.
Recent stories by the CBC may reveal why.
Explosive revelations by the CBC have shown a number of prominent Conservative MP's, staffers and appointees have been embroiled in tax hiding scandals.
In June, former Prime Minister's Office advisor Dimiri Soudas was found to have avoided paying taxes from May 2008 to April 2011. "How is this possible when PMO staff have taxes deducted at source?" asked Liberal MP Hedy Fry. Soudas said that the tax was not paid as a result of 'clerical errors'. He was recently elected as executive director of the Conservative party.
In 2010, Andrew Saxton, a Conservative MP for North Vancouver and parliamentary secretary to the president of the treasury board, was found to have "approved a transfer of funds on behalf of a Canadian taxpayer to an account in Switzerland that the taxpayer set up to help evade taxes" during his previous career as a banker.
Most recently, the Chair of the Canadian Mint, Jim Love helped a former Prime Ministers family hide money in offshore accounts to 'avoid' taxes. He also signed a legal agreement to keep the CRA from knowing about the money. Love is close family friend to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.
This story is part of TMC's coverage of offshore finances in Toronto.
The announcement this morning that Canada Post Corporation will end home delivery in urban areas, increase the cost of postage and layoff between 8,000 to 10,000 employees over the next five years is shameful.
Feminists have long argued against the notion of innate 'female' or 'male' characteristics, pointing out the ways in which socialization impacts and shapes our behaviour. Yet a recent study out of Penn Medicine claims that there are, in fact, 'hardwired difference between male and female brains' that explain why men are supposedly better at certain tasks than women and vice versa.rebecca_jordan-young_on_brain_differences_in_men_and_women_-_rabble.mp3
Olivia Chow calls Canada Post's decision to phase out urban home delivery 'shortsighted' and 'backward'
On Wednesday afternoon, NDP MP Olivia Chow held a press conference to blast Canada Post's decision to phase out urban home delivery.
Listen to the press conference followed by a question and answer session.psw.mp3
The world is mourning and celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela, who passed away in South Africa last week at the age of 95. CKUT's Cecilia MacArthur speaks to linguist, political commentator, and activist Noam Chomsky about Mandela's life and legacy. Chomsky explores Mandela as a controversial figure, looking at the problems with mass media's portrayal of him and explaining how we can use his legacy to fight colonialism and apartheid today.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) expressed disappointment today over announced plans that will see Canada Post end door-to-door mail delivery, raise stamp prices significantly and, in the process, eliminate somewhere between 6,000 and 8,000 jobs.
Positions at Canada Post will be eliminated over the next five years. Because of job security measures in CUPW collective agreement, jobs will be phased out through attrition, though it is not clear yet whether that will include buy-outs.
In a press release, Canada Post explained that if the losses were left unchecked, the corporation would become a “significant burden on taxpayers and customers.”
The City of Winnipeg has released its proposed operational and capital budgets for 2014. As in previous years, it is hard to see the vision in this budget or the direction it is taking. Many believe there is no long-term plan guiding political decisions, but one theme does persist: business taxes (and hence scarce revenues) are lowered at the same time as expenditures needed for the sound management of the City are cut. In this budget, already scarce City of Winnipeg workers are forced to take days off without pay.
In less than a week’s time, Finance Ministers from across the country will be gathering in Ottawa. We know that the one of the topics they will discuss -- if only because P.E.I.’s Wes Sheridan and Ontario’s Charles Sousa will be there -- is the idea of reforming the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) so that benefits will gradually rise over the next few decades.
The CPP was established a generation ago, in 1965 -- part of the welfare state, one of the social programs that stretched from medicare to public education, (un)employment insurance and welfare to retirement security. But unlike many other social programs, the CPP was always 100 per cent funded by workers and their employers.