Archive for December, 2015
The Liberal Party in Ontario has been in power for over a decade. Most governments regardless of party get a little bit too comfy in their positions to actually govern and show up for work when called upon. In the last election, the people of Ontario rejected the far right position of austerity (many still have the Mike Harris nightmare cutbacks), and the far left NDP (as a result of Bob Rae’s spending spree on social services in the 90s). The people of Ontario elected the Liberal platform with the expectation that money would be spent wisely by the province to help boost Ontario’s economy and social services. It seems the Liberals are starting to get a reputation for a lack of accountability of public funds, that is contributing to the overall provincial debt.
The Ontario Auditor General has come out with her annual report this month, and she has found virtually no accountability on tax payer’s funds with public services and policy. Some examples in the report include a situation in 2004 when then Premier Dalton McGuinty brought in legislation that allowed tax payers money to be spent on businesses in the province to help with job creation which is still in effect today. The auditor general recently found $1.4 billion unaccounted for in corporate welfare in the past decade this policy has been in effect.
Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk looked extensively at Ministry of Economic Development grants given to businesses over the past decade, and found most were handed to big corporations who could have just banked the money. Lysyk stated in her 2015 annual report she found the Ministry “has not attempted to measure whether the $1.4 billion it has provided to Ontario businesses since 2004 actually strengthened the economy.”
Lysyk also found that Ontario Hydro-One consumers paid $37 billion over the actual market value for their electricity. No wonder why the Liberals were so steadfast on selling Hyrdo One, the provinces publicly funded electricity utility. The entity owes Ontario tax payers $37 billion. I wonder how that debt is going to be settled.
In a very bizarre twist to all of this ahead of the holidays, Deb Matthews Ontario’s Treasury Secretary (who is in charge of distributing tax payers funds to provincial services and ministries) stated she wants Ontarians to help bring down the debt by donating their tax refunds to the province in 2016. Say what?
The lack of accountability of tax payer’s money doesn’t seem to stop at the Ministry of Economic Development. From the looks of it; this goes right up to Matthew’s office door as a result of her recent comments. If one were to follow the logic of all of this (if there is any to report), it points to a situation where there seems to be a lack of accountability throughout most provincial ministries, with a tone deaf government.
Where there is a lack of accountability there’s usually abuse of funds. In my opinion, Wynne needs to stop throwing money around, and provide those that voted for her policy that is based on transparency and accountability with her ministries. Progressive policies are based on balance, and that policy and money allotted to government programs actually get to where they are needed. Balance is disrupted when there is no accountability. Broad independent probes of provincial ministries may be needed to help curb abusive spending patterns, and help pay down the provinces debt. I think that’s what most were expecting Wynne to commit to last election. Until we see this; Matthew’s shouldn’t be asking the people of Ontario to donate anything.
Most Canadians are very familiar with “shock” politicians. We had one of our own, and Americans need only to look at former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to understand the political similarities of republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Trump has said many shocking things as of late; most recently wanting to ban Muslims from entering the US. A statement that is so wrong many in the media and us following politics just can’t resist the need to comment. But that’s the point, to get us all talking around the world about Trump and what a Trump Presidential win would look like for the US.
I saw this video today, and just had to post. Very good satire on Trump’s campaign thus far.
(Darth Vader’s Voice Dubbed by Trump Quotes)
It’s worthy to note that throughout human democratic history, people vote in extreme ideologies in times of economic uncertainty, and or through fears. It is possible (however unlikely) that Trump could win the white house if his poll numbers hold. He’s quite the master manipulator of the press. The press doesn’t seem to be doing their jobs in the US, unlike our press in Canada regarding Rob Ford. It almost seems that the press in the US is extremely confused on how to deal with Trump and holding him to account. That seems more worrying to me, than Trumps comments. The press in the US needs to stop allowing Trump to manipulate them. They are supposed to be a pillar of democracy, otherwise:
From the Paris attacks to last week’s mass shootings in California, like many in the civilized world over the past month I’ve been trying to wrap my head around these attacks, and why under mass surveillance are they continuing to happen with greater frequency.
Last week the 42nd parliament resumed with no word or mention from the Liberal government in the throne speech on one of the parties biggest promises, which was to fix the Conservatives anti-terror bill C-51. On this past Sunday, US President Barack Obama took to the airwaves from the oval office, and told Americans that with the build-up of the Russian military in Syria, that the US fight against ISIL will remain an intelligence gathering and special forces mission. Could the Liberal government here in Canada be stalling on anti-terror reforms as a result of US pressure?
I recently watched an investigative report on ISIL’s recruitment of women in the UK. The investigation took almost a year to complete. The report detailed one undercover Muslim women’s journey to seek out and try to get accepted into an ISIL cell. After 3 weeks of baiting radicalized ideology exclusively and very openly on Twitter, she started getting re-tweets and reply’s back from known ISIL terrorists. Within a few months, she was able to penetrate an ISIL supported cell in the UK and record with hidden cameras the meetings with other female ISIL supporters.
ISIL is using social media very openly on Twitter and Facebook to recruit people to their cause. Obama stated in his oval office address that he expects social media companies to do more in dealing with radicalized individuals. Twitter for its part in the UK investigative report started suspending radicalized accounts including the undercover journalist, which can be counterproductive to the intelligence community. In Canada under our anti-terror law C-51 it is a crime to openly support ISIL. This type of law makes our collection of targeted intelligence against ISIL that much harder, as those communications move from a public forum on the internet, to more private one making it that much harder for our law enforcement to track. What the Conservative government did with C-51 is make Canada less secure.
Dealing with radicalized ideology very much needs to be countered. The answer isn’t mass surveillance, its targeted surveillance. France for instance, has one of the world’s top intelligence agencies which specialize in Middle Eastern, and African intelligence. Yet one cold November night Paris came under attack by radicalized ISIL supporters. The problem is that there is too much information coming into our intelligence agencies as a result of mass surveillance, that these intelligence agencies miss what’s happening in plain view. Many intelligence professionals took to the airwaves after the Paris attacks stating that mass surveillance is only useful after the fact, and not in preventing terror attacks.
How do we counter radicalized ideology? You can’t counter someone’s belief systems with bombs and killing, you counter it with facts, and common sense. Going back to that UK investigative report, what should have been done is that the Muslim leadership in the UK should be showing other investigative pieces as to what happens with women and girls once they are in ISIL controlled territories. PBS did an excellent investigative piece on this. Women and girls in ISIL controlled territories are continually raped, beaten and passed around like trading cards. Those women that are often loured by the extreme ideology of ISIL, find themselves trapped in hell (not utopia) and are often wanting to flee for their lives.
Canada needs to be a leader in changing the conversation away from mass Internet surveillance to one that is targeted surveillance. There is no need for C-51. Laws before C-51 very much allow for this to already be done within the scope of the criminal code of Canada. We need a national strategy that is inclusive among Canada’s Muslim community to deal with radicalization. The Liberals promised to base their positions on fact based policy making. We’ve seen no indication from last week’s throne speech that will happen with C-51, and with the past months events in Paris and around the world, I think Canadians expected the anti-terror policy to be at the top of the Liberals policy agenda. Instead it’s been excluded as a top priority, and was a top priority for the Liberals during the election. I don’t think Canadians can expect meaningful reforms to C-51 in the future, if the US is pressuring for more mass surveillance.