A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
Contact us at democracyunderfire@gmail.com

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Tending the Garden

"You have to tend to this garden of democracy, otherwise things can fall apart fairly quickly. And we've seen societies where that happens,"
Former president Barack Obama

In these days of a clearly 'unstable' individual in a position of great power in the US of Eh who does not seem to realize that his words have a (largely negative) impact world wide it is becoming increasingly important for those who are concerned about the decline of reasonable dialog and being replaced by unhelpful rhetoric to speak up. One such person who chooses his words very carefully is Mr Obama and his recent words to a gathering at the Economic Club of Chicago need to be listened to by those who still think that we are not ALL are in great danger from the words and actions of would be power hungry dictators world wide.

"There have been periods in our history where censorship was considered OK. We had the McCarthy era. We had a President who had to resign prior to impeachment because he was undermining rule of law. At every juncture, we've had to wrestle with big problems."

"During my presidency, the press often drove me nuts," he said. "There were times where I thought reporters were ill-informed. There were times where they didn't actually get the story right. But what I understood was that principle of the free press was vital, and that, as President, part of my job was to make sure that that was maintained."

Timeless values should transcend parties. I’d argue that freedom of the press should be ideal,” he said. “What I understood was that principle that the free press was vital. As president, part of my job was to make sure that that was maintained.”

"I do think because we’ve been so wealthy and so successful that we get complacent. We assume things continue the way they have been just automatically, and they don’t. You have to tend to this garden of democracy, otherwise, things can fall apart fairly quickly. And we've seen societies where that happens. Now, presume there was a ballroom here in Vienna in the late 1920s or '30s that looked and seemed as if it, filled with the music and art and literature that was emerging, would continue into perpetuity. And then 60 million people died. An entire world was plunged into chaos. So you got to pay attention -- and vote."

Enough said, pay attention folks!

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Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Death of Newspapers & the Birth of a Wiki.

Its not so much the death of a newspaper as the death of news from a variety of sources in any given community be it in print or on line........
TorStar and Postmedia had quietly swapped papers and without warning shut down any competition in 34 markets across Ontario. As the Financial Post noted:
Postmedia Network Inc. and Torstar Corp. announced Monday they traded 41 publications and plan to close 36 papers in places where they compete. The shuttering of 34 papers in Southern Ontario, one in Winnipeg and one in Vancouver will eliminate 291 jobs and save each company between $5 million to $7 million annually.
The companies say they remain committed to local news and are only closing papers in regions served by multiple publications.
Barrie Today called it a ‘sad day’:
Sixteen employees at the Barrie Examiner lost their jobs and 11 more people at the Orillia Packet and Times are out of work in a mega-newspaper swap between Torstar Corp. and Postmedia Network Inc.
Employees were told at 9 a.m. Monday that the long-time daily publications in Barrie and Orillia, along with counterpart Northumberland Today were shutting down effective immediately.
Eight community newspapers are also closing including the Bradford Times, Collingwood Enterprise Bulletin and the Innisfil Examiner.
Paul Godfrey the CEO who's presiding over the Postmedia newspaper chain, crocodile tears over the closures have to be measured against his $1.7 million-a-year salary, his $900,000 retention bonus in 2016 (while he was refusing to grant employees a tiny cost-of-living wage increase) and his contract that guarantees him a job until at least 2020. You really think he gives a damn about the people whose lives he has disrupted?
Tip of the hat to Ian Chatwick for that one......

Sadly its no longer so much about presenting the news in an unbiased way but more about profit and manipulation of opinion, I gess it has been thus for some time but now there are even less choices available to the reader! There is one possible bright light on the horizon for online readers (how many of us actuary read printed newspapers nowadays anyway?) …...... read on!

The WikiTribune exists because of the disappointing state of news media right now (it’s worth noting the idea for the site came before Trump) and the hope is that WikiTribune can outsource news production to people like the way Wikipedia does.
Jimmy Wales founder of Wikipedia writes …...
The day I opened Wikipedia to the public, January 15, 2001, it was not an encyclopedia – yet. Therefore, that was not the launch of an encyclopedia. What was it, then? It was the launch of a project to build an encyclopedia.
What is this, then? This is the launch of a project to build a news service. An entirely new kind of news service in which the trusted users of the site – the community members – are treated as equal to the staff of the site. …..........
My goals are pretty easy to understand, but grand in scope (more fun that way, eh?): to build a global, multilingual, high quality, neutral news service. I want us to be in as many languages as possible as fast as possible. I want us to be more concerned with being right than being first. I want us to report objectively and factually and fairly on the news with no other agenda than this: The ultimate arbiters of the truth are the facts of reality. That’s agenda enough to keep us busy.

I like the concept of this 'community newspaper' in that it could lead to less biased place to seek our daily input of 'news', time will tell how effective it will be in filtering the BS and 'fake' news from its pages. Still I really feel the loss of truly local news, be it in print or online, where radio is still the mainstay of staying somewhat abreast of what is happening in your local community.

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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Policticialy correct or a step backwards?

A group of activists called on the Ontario government to ban the practice of stationing uniformed police officers at high schools across the province after the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) voted to permanently end the program...... TDSB staff released a report recommending the elimination of the program because it left some students feeling intimidated or uncomfortable.

So because a few students feel intimidated by police presence this outreach by the police is 'banned'!

The School Resource Officer program, which the TDSB suspended at the end of August, saw police officers deployed at 45 of its high schools in an effort to improve safety and perceptions of police. ........ the majority of those surveyed had a generally positive impression. However, it noted, about 10 per cent felt intimidated, uncomfortable or that they were being watched at school.

Whilst a majority of the students had a positive view of the program the 10 or 15% who did not (supported by a few vocal anti police acctivists) diminish the work done by these officers to improve the relationship between kids and police in these schools.

Rodney Diverlus, a member of Black Lives Matter, said there are better supports for students than having officers in schools.
We believe the removal of the program puts an emphasis on the Ministry of Education to actually give adequate funding to the TDSB and other boards to support in having child and youth workers, equity-based social workers, more guidance counsellors and more time for teachers and teaching staff,” Diverlus said. “A wide range of educators and community-based workers would better support students, student safety and student achievement.”

One cannot disagree that some schools need more resources to guide and support 'troubled' students however to remove the officers from these schools without a viable alternative in place is a step backwards. The idea that school boards already pressed for funds will provide such extra resources in the forseeable future is dreaming in tecniclouur

Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack, however, said the board’s decision did not come as a surprise, adding that he thinks it was politically motivated.
I think there is a lot of value in the program and now that value has been squandered or lost,” “here’s an opportunity to look at that 10 per cent and say, ‘Why do you have these perceptions?’” “For me, someone who has worked in community-based policing, this is the type of group where you want ... to understand what’s going on and you want to improve the relationship,” “For me, someone who has worked in community-based policing, this is the type of group where you want ... to understand what’s going on and you want to improve the relationship,” McCormack said.

Indeed this program appeared to have a positive impact with many kids and seemed to improve the relationship between law enforcement and the youth involved for the most part. Its a shame that a greater effort was not made to address the concerns of the vocal few that did not see it that way without the discontinuation of this attempt to improve the interaction between students and police.

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