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, January 22, 2017

Freedom, Equality, Accountability & Transparency

Yesterday an estimated half million joined The Women's March on Washington which was supported by hundreds of thousands more gathering in various cities, not only in the U.S. but across the world. Described as “a women-led movement bringing together people of all genders, ages, races, cultures, political affiliations and backgrounds in our nation's capital to affirm our shared humanity and pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination.” it clearly shows the deep concern that many citizens feel about the new U.S. Administration, a concern that is shared across the world and here in Canada.

A few weeks ago the organizers shared their “vision for a government that is based on the principles of liberty and justice for all”, whilst I cannot march with them I can support them and their vision by sharing it with you here. Whilst focused upon women the basic views expressed should apply to, and be supported by, all human beings of whatever sex.

Guiding Vision and Definition of Principles

We believe that Women's Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women's Rights .
This is the basic and original tenet from which all our values stem.
We believe Gender Justice is Racial Justice is Economic Justice. We must create a society in
which women, in particular women-in particular Black women, Native women, poor women,
immigrant women, Muslim women, and queer and trans women-are free and able to care for and
nurture their families, however they are formed, in safe and healthy environments free from structural

Women deserve to live full and healthy lives, free of violence against our bodies. One in three
women have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime;
and one in five women have been raped. Further, each year, thousands of women and girls, particularly
Black, indigenous and transgender women and girls, are kidnapped, trafficked, or murdered. We honor
the lives of those women who were taken before their time and we affirm that we work for a day when
all forms of violence against women are eliminated.

We believe in accountability and justice for police brutality and ending racial profiling and
targeting of communities of color. Women of color are killed in police custody at greater rates than
white women, and are more likely to be sexually assaulted by police. We also call for an immediate end
to arming police with the military grade weapons and military tactics that are wreaking havoc on
communities of color. No woman or mother should have to fear that her loved ones will be harmed at
the hands of those sworn to protect.

We believe it is our moral imperative to dismantle the gender and racial inequities within the
criminal justice system. The rate of imprisonment has grown faster for women than men, increasing by
700% since 1980, and the majority of women in prison have a child under the age of 18. Incarcerated
women also face a high rate of violence and sexual assault. We are committed to ensuring access to
gender-responsive programming and dedicated healthcare including substance abuse treatment, mental
and maternal health services for women in prison. We believe in the promise of restorative justice and
alternatives to incarceration. We are also committed to disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline that
prioritizes incarceration over education by systematically funneling our children-particularly children
of color, queer and trans youth, foster care children, and girls-into the justice system.

We believe in Reproductive Freedom. We do not accept any federal, state or local rollbacks, cuts
or restrictions on our ability to access quality reproductive healthcare services, birth control, HIV/AIDS
care and prevention, or medically accurate sexuality education. This means open access to safe, legal,
affordable abortion and birth control for all people, regardless of income, location or education. We
understand that we can only have reproductive justice when reproductive health care is accessible to all
people regardless of income, location or education.

We believe in Gender Justice. We must have the power to control our bodies and be free from
gender norms, expectations and stereotypes. We must free ourselves and our society from the institution
of awarding power, agency and resources disproportionately to masculinity to the exclusion of others.

We firmly declare that LGBTQIA Rights are Human Rights and that it is our obligation to uplift,
expand and protect the rights of our gay, lesbian, bi, queer, trans or gender non-conforming brothers,
sisters and siblings. This includes access to non-judgmental , comprehensive healthcare with no
exceptions or limitations; access to name and gender changes on identity documents; full anti-
discrimination protections; access to education, employment, housing and benefits; and an end to police
and state violence.

We believe in an economy powered by transparency, accountability, security and equity. We
believe that creating workforce opportunities that reduce discrimination against women and mothers
allow economies to thrive. Nations and industries that support and invest in caregiving and basic
workplace protections including benefits like paid family leave, access to affordable childcare, sick
days, healthcare, fair pay, vacation time, and healthy work environments-have shown growth and
increased capacity.

We believe in equal pay for equal work and the right of all women to be paid equitably. We must
end the pay and hiring discrimination that women, particularly mothers, women of color, lesbian, queer
and trans women still face each day in our nation. Many mothers have always worked and in our modern
labor force; and women are now 50% of all family breadwinners. We stand for the 82% of women who
become moms, particularly moms of color, being paid, judged, and treated fairly. Equal pay for equal
work will lift families out of poverty and boost our nation's economy.

We recognize that women of color carry the heaviest burden in the global and domestic
economic landscape, particularly in the care economy. We further affirm that all care work--caring for
the elderly, caring for the chronically ill, caring for children and supporting independence for people
with disabilities--is work, and that the burden of care falls disproportionately on the shoulders of
women, particularly women of color. We stand for the rights, dignity, and fair treatment of all unpaid
and paid caregivers. We must repair and replace the systemic disparities that permeate caregiving at
every level of society.

We believe that all workers, including domestic and farm workers - must have the right to
organize and fight for a living minimum wage, and that unions and other labor associations are critical to
a healthy and thriving economy for all. Undocumented and migrant workers must be included in our
labor protections, and we stand in solidarity with sex workers' rights movements.

We believe Civil Rights are our birthright. Our Constitutional government establishes a
framework to provide and expand rights and freedoms, not restrict them. To this end, we must protect
and restore all the Constitutionally-mandated rights to all our citizens, including voting rights, freedom
to worship without fear of intimidation or harassment, freedom of speech, and protections for all citizens
regardless of race, gender, age or disability.

We believe it is time for an all-inclusive Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Most Americans believe the Constitution guarantees equal rights, but it does not. The 14th Amendment
has been undermined by courts and cannot produce real equity on the basis of race and/or sex. And in a
true democracy, each citizen's vote should count equally. All Americans deserve equality guarantees in
the Constitution that cannot be taken away or disregarded, recognizing the reality that inequalities
intersect, interconnect and overlap.

Rooted in the promise of America's call for huddled masses yearning to breathe free, we believe
in immigrant and refugee rights regardless of status or country of origin. It is our moral duty to keep
families together and empower all aspiring Americans to fully participate in, and contribute to, our
economy and society. We reject mass deportation, family detention, violations of due process and
violence against queer and trans migrants. Immigration reform must establish a roadmap to citizenship,
and provide equal opportunities and workplace protections for all. We recognize that the call to action to
love our neighbor is not limited to the United States, because there is a global migration crisis. We
believe migration is a human right and that no human being is illegal.

We believe that every person and every community in our nation has the right to clean water,
clean air, and access to and enjoyment of public lands. We believe that our environment and our climate
must be protected, and that our land and natural resources cannot be exploited for corporate gain or
greed-especially at the risk of public safety and health.

Thank you for that Ladies.

These pictures say it all .... https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/01/21/world/100000004886005.mobile.html?_r=0 Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Obama on Democracy

Last Tuesday President Obama presented his final speech of his presidency before the incoming Twit in Chief take power this coming Friday. The focus of his speech was as he said “the state of our democracy.”, meaning the state of democracy in the U.S. which surely looks bleak given the Twits recent twittering, however many of Obamas comments are relevant to all democracy’s across the world including our own here in Canada. I make no apologies for cherry picking a few of the most relevant sections of his remarks and presenting them here for your consideration. He says it so much better than I ever could........

Our youth and drive, our diversity and openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinvention mean that the future should be ours.
But that potential will be realized only if our democracy works. Only if our politics reflects the decency of the people. Only if all of us, regardless of our party affiliation or particular interest, help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.............
........stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic principles. While the top one percent has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many families, in inner cities and rural counties, have been left behind - the laid-off factory worker; the waitress and health care worker who struggle to pay the bills - convinced that the game is fixed against them, that their government only serves the interests of the powerful - a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics..........
.......we must forge a new social compact - to guarantee all our kids the education they need; to give workers the power to unionize for better wages; to update the social safety net to reflect the way we live now and make more reforms to the tax code so corporations and individuals who reap the most from the new economy don't avoid their obligations to the country that's made their success possible. We can argue about how to best achieve these goals. But we can't be complacent about the goals themselves. For if we don't create opportunity for all people, the disaffection and division that has stalled our progress will only sharpen in years to come...........
For too many of us, it's become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste - all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable. And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that's out there...............
How can elected officials rage about deficits when we propose to spend money on preschool for kids, but not when we're cutting taxes for corporations? How do we excuse ethical lapses in our own party, but pounce when the other party does the same thing? It's not just dishonest, this selective sorting of the facts; it's self-defeating. Because as my mother used to tell me, reality has a way of catching up with you............
..........protecting our way of life requires more than our military. Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear. So just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are. ...........
........the fight against extremism and intolerance and sectarianism are of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism and nationalist aggression. If the scope of freedom and respect for the rule of law shrinks around the world, the likelihood of war within and between nations increases, and our own freedoms will eventually be threatened.........
...........our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted. All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions. When voting rates are some of the lowest among advanced democracies, we should make it easier, not harder, to vote. When trust in our institutions is low, we should reduce the corrosive influence of money in our politics, and insist on the principles of transparency and ethics in public service. .............
It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we've been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen.
Ultimately, that's what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there's an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime.
Somehow I don’t think the incoming Twits acceptance speech will address any of these issues in any meaningful way, I truly hope that our neighbours to the south do not slide back into a place where democracy and diversity take second place to authoritarianism and exclusion but am not very optimistic in that regard.

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

A New Name for Greed

I am not fond of 'labels', particularly political labels, they tend to be far to generalized and invariably lump a wide range of views under one label that is often cannot clearly define all the views encompassed by the generality. After all does 'Liberal' define all liberals or 'Conservative' cover all the various shades of grey surrounding that 'label'? One label that has seen a massive (doubled in the last year according to google) increase is ' neoliberalism', a simpler description would seem to me to be 'greed' or more specifically Corporate Greed with its closely associated Greed for Power.
Graeme Decarie in The Decarie Report put it all in perspective for me this week in that he says this is nothing new but simply a new label for an old affliction.

Recently, they (the corporate aristocracy) have introduced a new term to justify their vileness. It's called neo-liberalism. It's a belief that the wealthy need to be free from any government regulation or restraint, that humans are by nature competitive, and that by giving complete freedom to that competitiveness we will all become rich.
That is pure nonsense. There's nothing new about neo-liberalism. It was neo-liberalism that was used by the old aristocracy to plunder the world. Neo-liberalism made possible the slaughter of native peoples in the U.S. and Latin America - and in Canada. The only people it ever made rich were the neo-liberals. Even now, as neoliberalism gathers speed in the west, the very wealthy are getting richer while the rest of us get poorer. It can end only in a general crash. But our new aristocrats are too stupid with greed to think that far ahead.
As if that weren't a big enough crisis, we have an added one. Those who tried to deal with the great depression of the 1930s used the theories of Keynes who advised government spending when private spending slowed down.
But that may not work this time. It may not work because we're already making demands on our resources - like oil, mines, food - that cannot be sustained. Somehow, we need less growth, not more - but we still have to meet human needs.
But, with the present power of the corporation world there is no chance of concentrating on human needs. The starvation of millions means nothing to them. The evidence of climate change means nothing to them. Like the old aristocrats, these believe themselves to be born superior beings to the rest of us. And, like the old aristocrats, they are self-absorbed - and not very bright.

That last bit highlighted says it all for me, just like the pyramid schemes designed to make the instigator rich at the expense of those being sucked in later such things must by their very definition collapse under their own weight and lack of new building material (suckers). The whole idea that our economy can only survive if it is ever expanding is no less a scheme that must eventually run out of support from the bottom be it 'investors' or raw materials or simply those who would (or could) purchase the goods and services that keep the guys at the top happy in their corporate towers.

Call it neoliberalism if you like, I just call it greed and unfortunately it is not limited to the corporate world, for those of us the bottom of the heap many of the 'middle class' particularly the unionized worker be it white or blue collar, but particularly the public service crowd appear to be equally greedy. Everybody wants more, more, more and in a world of finite resources seem to forget that if they get more someone somewhere must pay for it and will have less. less, less. Until we all decide we can do without all the latest gadget, car, tool or toy (and the money to pay for them) and are satisfied to just live with what we have then we are ALL part of the problem IMHO.

Now, how much did YOU spend on non essentials over the last 30 days supporting that ivory tower?

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