Archive | Politics

Trudeau Must Defend Canada’s Progressive Values From Trump

Posted on 15 February 2017 by admin

The Hon. Charlie Angus 

Ottawa

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads to Washington, Canadians are asking themselves how the presidency of Donald Trump will affect our nation. This question is important, but equally important is the question of what role Canada must play in a world that has been upended by the Trump agenda.

Within the month of taking office, Trump has plunged the world into a period of frightening instability. He elevated the conflict level with Iran and China and threatened to destabilize the precarious situation in Israel/Palestine. He has hung up on the Australian prime minister and picked a fight with Mexico. But it has been his targeting of Muslim travellers and direct challenge of the U.S. judiciary that is the most disturbing foreshadowing of what is to come.

Trump has elevated America’s right-wing fringe to the inner sanctums of power. They are spoiling for a fight on a whole manner of issues from climate change, to women’s rights, to the Middle East.

There have been those in the media who advise the prime minister to keep his head down and avoid angering a clearly erratic president. But let’s not kid ourselves — the idea that the prime minister can get away with tiptoeing around Trump’s attack on international law and human rights isn’t going to cut it.

As much as Canada has economic interests, we have moral interests. And this isn’t simply a question of values. This is also a matter of standing up for Canada’s vital interests.

This must be kept in mind as the prime minister meets in Washington. Will we turn over security information on Canadian pipeline protesters under the broad powers established by C-51 to the Trump administration? Will we be silent on his all-out assault on privacy rights for travellers entering U.S. airspace? Will we stay silent as the president destabilizes our allies?

Clearly Canada’s economic interests are deeply entwined with the U.S. market. The prime minister has a duty to work to maintain the economic flow of goods between both countries. But he also needs to be a champion the interests of sectors like lumber and beef even as Trump attempts to add to his wish list of trade concessions. Taking advice from Brian Mulroney, who has been floating the trial balloon of adding supply management sector to the negotiating table, sends a very wrong signal.

On the international front, Canada is going to have to step up its multilateral diplomatic initiatives to Latin America, Europe and Asia. Having a part-time ambassador to Germany and the EU isn’t good enough when we need to be working closely with them on containing the Trump effect.

On the domestic front, the prime minister cannot use the Trump presidency as an excuse to walk away from his electoral commitments to a more progressive Canada. His attempt to invoke fears of the rise of an extreme right wing as a reason to kill the electoral reform commitment reeks of cynicism.

Last month, at the height of the fabricated tensions against Muslim Americans, six Canadians were murdered in a religious sanctuary where they should have been safest. In the days following this despicable act, Trump’s spokesmen used the murder of Canadians to justify policies, which are against Canadian values and undermine our national interests. Yet, the Trudeau government opted to stay silent in the face of these falsehoods and attacks on the memory of these innocent victims of right-wing terror.

Canadians may not be in a position to change the Trump administration, but we must take the steps needed to keep him from changing us. I believe the prime minister should take his lead from the tens of thousands of ordinary Canadians who are organizing an incredible resistance movement rooted in community, protest and respect. The ring of peace that was organized by a Canadian rabbi to protect Muslim worshippers at prayer in cities across Canada is a symbol of all that is best in our nation.

We need leadership in Ottawa that channels this energy. In dark and uncertain times, Canada’s voice is needed more than ever. Canada can provide the world with a progressive, principled vision that does not get thrown off by the politics of bullying and fear.

Charlie Angus is the Member of Parliament for Timmins-James Bay.

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Funding for municipalities improved to offer more travel options to commuters

Posted on 15 February 2017 by admin

Ontario is boosting support for Brampton by providing reliable, long-term funding to improve and expand local transit and offer more travel options for commuters and families.

Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca was joined by Harinder Malhi, MPP Brampton-Springdale today to make the announcement.

The province has heard directly from people who are frustrated by their daily commute and from regions and municipalities that are struggling to meet their transit needs. In response to these concerns, starting in 2019, Ontario will increase funding for Brampton Transit and other municipal transit systems across the province through an enhancement to the existing gas tax program, doubling the municipal share from two cents per litre to four cents by 2021. There will be no increase in the tax that people in Ontario pay on gasoline as a result of the enhancement to the program.

Brampton is able to use the new funding to plan for and make major infrastructure upgrades, buy additional transit vehicles, add more routes, extend hours of service, implement fare strategies and improve accessibility.

Supporting stronger public transit systems is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

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CONFLICT IN PAKISTANI POLITICS

Posted on 15 February 2017 by admin

  Dr. Hasan Askari

  Conflict is on the rise in Pakistani politics. Two major political parties, the PMLN and the PTI, are persistently hostile towards each other in their statements inside the parliament, in public meetings and TV political talk shows. Often time they use non-democratic idiom. On January 26, 2017, the PMLN and the PTI members exchanged punches on the floor of the National Assembly. This incident is the proof of the growing tensions between the two major political parties. In this growing conflict between the PMLN and the PTI, the PPP is pursuing a two tracks strategy. Asif Ali Zardari adopts a soft approach towards the PMLN but Balawal Bhutto often adopts harsh disposition toward Nawaz Sharif and the PMLN. However, Balawal makes sure that he is not seen as a partner in the PTI’s political struggle against the PMLN. It is not clear what will be the ultimate disposition of the PPP as Pakistan moves closer to the general elections.

 The growing conflict in Pakistan’s politics can be explained with reference to two important events: the news about a national security meeting in the prime minister house that blamed the Army for supporting some militant groups; and the on-going Panama Leaks case in the Supreme Court.

 The PMLN federal government would like to sleep over the news item issue. It is not keen to officially disclose if it has received the delayed report of the inquiry about the publication of the news item. The report may or may not be released to public but the government appears confident that it can set aside the matter by taking some dummy action. The Army top command is very unhappy on this issue but it does not have any easy option to take a direct punitive action against those responsible for fabricating the news item and getting it published. This will, however, adversely affect civil-military relations that are currently showing some stability.

 What worries the federal government most is the Panama Leaks case in the Supreme Court because the former has lost the initiative in this respect. It was able to deflect the PTI pressure on the Panama Leaks until the matter came before the Supreme Court. The federal government’s concern has increased since the Supreme Court, in another case, temporarily suspended the operations of three sugar mills of the Sharif family that were shifted surreptitiously to Southern Punjab and asked the High Court to take up the matter for final settlement.

 The PMLN leaders are now pursuing four media strategies to cope with the Panama Leaks case. First, they are putting up a brave face that they would come out successfully from the Supreme Court and that, as Nawaz Sharif’s name does not figure in the Panama Leaks, no action can be taken against him.

 Second, some of the PMLN activists are invoking Nawaz Sharif’s electoral mandate in the 2013 general elections to argue that a popularly elected leader cannot be removed except by the votes of people. This is an indirect message to the Supreme Court, which is a non-elected institution as well as to the PTI which got less votes than the PMLN in the last elections, to stop thinking about removing Nawaz Sharif.. The PMLN activists are also talking of a conspiracy to dislodge an elected prime minister. Another argument suggests that the people will not accept the removal of an elected leader. The PMLN did not make these arguments when the Supreme Court removed the PPP Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani from his office in June 2012.

Third, a major media campaign has been launched by the federal and the Punjab governments to highlight their contribution towards socio-economic development and welfare of the people. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is inaugurating some section of motorway, some electricity generation plant or a development project even if it is incomplete. The federal government is also highlighting what it describes as the major achievements in the economy which is on way to a take-off. All this is being done to demonstrate that the opposition’s political campaign and the court cases are undermining the government that is working for the welfare of the people.

 Fourth, the PMLN activists have intensified their criticism of Imran Khan and his senior colleagues and have accused them of corruption, incorrect declaration of personal wealth and assets, and the use of influence by some opposition leaders to get their bank loans write-off. Several members of the federal cabinet and senior party leaders, including paraliamentarians, have made their reputation for harsh and personalized criticism of Imran Khan.

 The response of the PTI stalwarts and media persons is equally harsh. The Sharif family, especially Nawaz Sharif, is the main target of their criticism. His governance and political management are also criticized. The PMLN and the PTI engage in polemics against each other in TV political talks shows. Some of these TV programs end up as shouting matches between the activists of these two political parties.

 Whatever the judgement of the Supreme Court, the conflict between the PMLN and the PTI is expected to persist and they will continue to blame each other for the problems of the common people. The bitter verbal exchanges between the PMLN and the PTI make it difficult to discourage religious and cultural intolerance that has taken strong roots in Pakistan during the last three decades. Democratic values of tolerance, political accommodation through dialogue and mutual respect will remain weak in Pakistan.

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Consumer groups tell CRTC review to force providers to stick to wireless code

Posted on 08 February 2017 by admin

Some cellphone companies are either passively or actively violating Canada’s wireless code of conduct and the rules need to be tightened and enforced, consumer groups told a hearing Monday.

While consumer complaints have dropped since the code came into effect in 2013, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre told the review wireless users need greater controls put in place so they don’t suffer from “bill shock.”

“Certain wireless service providers have … knowingly or unknowingly avoided or violated or attempted to change clear wireless code requirements, and have not largely been stopped,” advocacy centre executive director John Lawford told the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. “This must change.”

The CRTC review comes amid calls for greater parental control over household cellphone data charges and clearer rules governing wireless service cancellation fees and how caps on data overage fees should apply.

Speaking on behalf of the Consumer Association of Canada, the National Pensioners Federation and the Council of Senior Citizens Organizations of British Columbia, PIAC told the regulator that, in some cases, wireless providers offer data and voice as optional services, despite stipulations in the code that key services be clearly spelled out in wireless contracts.

“(This) is not only vastly inappropriate and skewed against the consumer, but clearly contradicts the spirit and letter of the wireless code,” said PIAC legal counsel Alysia Lau.

“Data and voice services clearly form a key part of a wireless contract.”

The first code effectively killed three-year phone contracts, limiting them to 24 months. But that led, in many cases, to higher monthly bills as the service providers were forced to recoup the cost of subsidized smartphones over a shorter period.

While Telus Corp. has suggested the CRTC revisit the two-year limit, arguing that providing a three-year contract option could reduce monthly bills by amortizing the cost of so-called zero-dollar phones over 36 months, BCE Inc. and Rogers Communications Inc. have not specifically proposed changes to contract length provisions.

Carriers also want to be able to recoup the cost of items offered for free to customers as incentives to sign a contract.

Currently, service providers can charge consumers for the residual value of subsidized cellphone hardware if they cancel their contracts early. For example, a customer could be charged $300 if they cancel a two-year contract after one year, if the initial value of the incentivized phone was set at $600.

But the code doesn’t allow carriers to recover the cost of other promotional items, such as new TVs or tablets.

Industry and consumer groups acknowledge the code has been largely effective since coming into force.

“We love it,” Lawford said of the consumer-protection provisions of the code.

The most recent survey commissioned by the CRTC revealed about 46 per cent of consumers paid fees for exceeding their data limits. But the TNS Canada survey, conducted in September, also showed that only about one in five respondents experienced “bill shock” from their wireless services, down from 28 per cent who said they experienced the problem in 2014.

Complaints to the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services also dropped sharply between 2015 and last year, according to the watchdog.

But CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais questioned Monday whether the code should spell out how carriers charge for data overages when increasingly popular family plans are now spreading data use over a number of devices in a household.

In its testimony, Telus told the hearing its “default” policy allows anyone with a device on such a plan to approve a data use extension, but noted it offers data management tools that allow for greater control and warn consumers when they’re about to reach or exceed their data limits.

But account holders have complained that the tools offered by service providers often don’t work and that it’s too easy for children to approve data overage charges at the push of a button, sometimes resulting in massive bills.

“It wasn’t an issue at the time (the code was introduced) but now it is,” said CRTC spokesperson Patricia Valladao.

The existing code places a $50 a month limit on what carriers can charge for data overages.

But while consumer advocates argue the cap should apply to individual accounts, including family plans, some carriers have been applying the charge for each wireless device.

In that case, a family of four, with four devices, could face up to an extra $200 in overage fees.

Blais also raised questions Monday over fees charged for unlocking cellphones.

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Toronto protesters rally against Islamophobia, Trump’s travel ban

Posted on 08 February 2017 by admin

Thousands of protesters marched against Islamophobia and United States President Donald Trump in downtown Toronto on Saturday — the second major demonstration this week.

The massive rally began outside the U.S. Consulate on University Ave. as protesters, bundled against the cold, stretched from Queen to Dundas Sts. Hundreds had gathered five days earlier to protest Trump’s sweeping travel ban targeting seven predominantly Muslim countries — which was blocked by a U.S. judge on Friday.

Organizer Hashim Yussuf, of Black Lives Matter, estimated that at least 5,000 people protested outside the consulate on Saturday.

“It’s a call to action that has just begun,” Yussuf said in an interview. “The stuff that is happening now is not OK and we will fight back.”

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Civil government and military working together to fight terrorism

Posted on 08 February 2017 by admin

 Dr. Hasan Askari

 The politics in Pakistan is currently experiencing positive and negative developments. Two most significant positive developments are improvement in civil-military relations and the renewed determination on the part of the military and the civilian government to control extremist religious groups that use violence to advance their religio-political agendas.

 With the appointment of the new Army Chief at the end of November 2016, the differences between the civilian government and the Army are no longer visible. They are working in cooperation on security and counterterrorism issues. The Army top command is showing patience on the news item controversy. The civilian government had appointed a special committee to look into the complaint of a news item about the national security meeting in he prime minister house that blamed the Army top command for showing partisanship towards militant groups. The Committee is expected to finalize its report in this month. The Army is waiting to see what this committee has to say what the Army command thought to be an effort to malign the Army. If the civilian government hushed up the matter, it will have negative impact on civil-military relations.

 The civilian and military authorities are more cooperative for countering terrorism. The decision to put Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and his colleagues under house arrest was taken jointly by the federal government and Army-Intelligence authorities. However, the federal and the Punjab governments are still not in favor of the Army or the Ranger resorting to anti-terror operation in the Punjab in an autonomous manner. The PMLN does not want that its monopoly of power in Punjab is weakened by the presence of any institution or political party that is not fully under its full control. In the past, some federal ministers and one Punjab minister used to condemn the top brass of the military for their expanded role and the military rule. Their harsh statements used to undermine the federal government’s relations with the Army. Now, these ministers are silent. If they return to their old policy of public denunciation of the Army top brass, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will have difficulties in dealing with the Army.

 One negative development in Politics is that the relations between the ruling PMLN and the major opposition party, Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf, have deteriorated to such an extent that both sides use rude and insulting language about each other. The media team of the PMLN uses harsher phrases about Imran Khan and other PTI leaders than the PTI leaders criticizing Nawaz Sharif. This has spoiled the political environment. In late January2017 the PMLN and the PTI members exchanged punches on the floor of the National Assembly.

 In this government-opposition equation, the PPP is playing a dubious role. Asif Ali Zardari continues with his soft policy towards the PMLN. However, Bilawal Bhutto is vocal in his criticism of the PMLN, especially Nawaz Sharif. He led a highly anti-PMLN procession from Lahore to Faisalabad. The PPP leaders from Punjab also want to pursue confrontation with Nawaz Sharif in order to revive the PPP in the Punjab. They prefer Bilawal’s political style. There are two problems for the PPP in the Punjab. First, Zardari’s preference appears to be for Nawaz Sharif rather than Imran Khan. It is quite possible that he participates in the next election with informal cooperation with the PMLN. The second problem is that Bilawal is not consistent in pursuing his politics. After every five-six weeks, he goes abroad. He does not have continuous interaction with the party workers and activists. He visits them in Punjab like a high profile guest rather than their leader. The PPP will have to change its leadership style as well as politics if it wants to stay as a credible party in Punjab.

 Another negative aspect of politics is that the federal government seems to have been overwhelmed by the Panama Leaks case in the Supreme Court. There are many gaps in the defense arguments of the Sharif family. Up to now the lawyers of the Sharif family have not been able to provide credible proof of source of money as well as its route, how it moved from one place to the other, and when and how the flats were purchased? The uncertainty about the outcome of the Supreme Court case is causing much anxiety in the government circles.

 There can be four possible outcomes of the case: The charges against the Sharif family are rejected altogether; there is nothing negative about Nawaz Sharif but some members of his family get blamed for money laundering and hiding facts; Nawaz Sharif and the family are held responsible for money laundering and corrupt practics; a commission is appointed to investigate the money trail and flat ownership in detail.

 If the Sharif family is not framed in this case, it will be a moral victory for them and the probability of Nawaz Sharif getting reelected in the next general elections will be very high. However, Imran Khan will continue to contest the government on corruption and poor governance. If Nawaz Sharif is disqualified, the PMLN will select a prime minister as an interim arrangement until some member of the Sharif family is available for that task. The most challenging task will be to keep the party together in this interim period. In any case, Pakistan politics will continue to pass through uncertaintie that will adversely affect the government’s capacity to pursue the programs for the welfare of the common people.

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Wynne withdraws support from tolls on Don Valley and 401, doubles funding for municipalities from Gas tax

Posted on 01 February 2017 by admin

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s decision to scuttle Toronto’s road toll proposal hasn’t just deprived the city of a revenue source to pay for its infrastructure needs; experts say it has also eliminated a key tool to fight congestion and may undermine the province’s own policy directives.

Wynne withdrew her support for the plan to charge drivers for using the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway.

Just two months earlier she had signalled she would support the regulatory changes requested by Mayor John Tory and council to make tolling the city-owned highways possible.

Instead, on Friday Wynne promised the Liberal government would double the funding that municipalities receive from the provincial gas tax by 2021.

For Toronto that would mean an extra $170 million a year.

The city was expecting between $160 million and $336 million in annual revenue from tolls, depending on the amount of the toll charged.

Toronto’s chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat said Wynne’s decision has robbed the city of a vital means to alleviate congestion, a problem that costs the city billions of dollars in lost productivity every year.

Keesmaat called Wynne’s announcement “disheartening.”

She argued that provincial and city plans to build more transit won’t succeed unless more people are induced to leave their cars, and road tolls would have played a key role in shifting people to other modes of travel.

“Tolls, of course, are a really good fit with our larger public policy objectives,” she said.

“Currently, for example, you pay every time you get on the TTC, but you don’t pay every time you get on the road.

“And yet we want more people using the TTC and less people getting in their cars.”

Keesmaat noted that the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the provincial land use policy for the region, directs municipalities to implement traffic management plans in order decrease the reliance on cars. The growth plan specifically lists road tolls as a traffic management tool.

According to Keesmaat, Wynne’s reversal on the issue “makes the province’s own policy statement seem like gobbledygook.”

She suggested that Toronto should consider taking the province to the Ontario Municipal Board for violating the Growth Plan, although she conceded that she wasn’t certain such a move was possible.

Asked about Keesmaat’s criticism, a spokesperson for Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said Friday’s announcement “aligns closely with our government’s policy priorities, which include investing in transit and transportation across the province through our $31.5-billion Moving Ontario Forward plan, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and tackling gridlock.”

The spokesperson said that doubling the gas tax revenue would provide “significantly more stable and reliable funding” that cities can use to improve public transit: “We are taking real action that will make it easier and quicker for you to get to work or to school, and get back home again safely to your loved ones.”

Lindsay Wiginton, a transportation analyst for the Pembina Institute, argued that Wynne was correct to put the brakes on Toronto’s toll plan because drivers currently have few reliable alternatives to using their cars.

According to a city staff report, tolls could have been implemented within three to seven years, while major planned transit projects, such as GO Regional Express Rail and the relief subway line, aren’t projected to be completed for at least seven and 14 years, respectively.

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U.S. won’t ban Canadian permanent residents, immigration minister says

Posted on 01 February 2017 by admin

The federal government moved to clear up confusion that surrounded a U.S. travel ban on citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries by announcing that Canadian citizens and permanent residents with roots in those countries can still cross the border.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said Sunday that the White House has given assurances that permanent residents of Canada can enter the U.S. provided they have a valid Canadian permanent resident card and passport from one of the seven affected countries.

On Saturday night, the prime minister tweeted that the White House confirmed that dual citizens with a Canadian passport are also allowed into the U.S.

The confusion stemmed from an executive order signed Friday by U.S. President Donald.

It was initially unclear Saturday whether Canadians who are also citizens of the affected countries would be allowed to cross the U.S. border, as the State Department said that dual citizens were included in the ban. Canada received no prior warning that the ban was to be imposed.

U.S. officials have not publicly commented since on how the ban affects Canada. Instead, they are relaying their position through their Canadian counterparts.

Hussen held a news conference in Ottawa on Sunday to try to clear up some of the confusion created by the American ban.

People still worried

Despite these assurances, there still appears to be confusion on the ground about who can cross the border. Before Hussen’s statement on Sunday, several Canadian residents reported they’d been turned away. Even now, some say they don’t want to take the risk.

And while people in Canada with roots in the countries involved have expressed relief that they can still enter the U.S., the policy still affects their families.

Why hasn’t Canada denounced Trump’s order?

Hussen was asked at the news conference about why he hadn’t denounced the order.

“Every country has the right to determine their policies. I can only tell you that we will continue our long-standing tradition of being open to those who seek sanctuary,” he said.

He said Canada will provide temporary shelter to any people stranded because of the ban, but he noted he doesn’t know of anyone stuck in a Canadian airport.

He also noted that Canada will not raise the number of refugees it plans to accept — this year’s target is 25,000 — in response to the ban, in spite of widespread speculation that tweets sent out by the prime minister suggested Canada would accept more people.

On Saturday afternoon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted, “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength .WelcomeToCanada.”

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Ugliness prevails Pakistani politics as Panama Leaks case is heard in court

Posted on 01 February 2017 by admin

 Dr. Hasan Askari

 The Panama Leaks case proceedings in the Supreme Court of Pakistan have caused much bitterness between the activists of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf.

They exchange bitter remarks and charges and counter charges against each other in the media talk when the Court adjourns the day’s proceedings. On January 27, 2017, the activists of these two parties used abusive language against each other and got involved in fist-fight on the floor of the National Assembly. Now, they are engaged in blaming each other for the ugly situation in the National Assembly. All this shows that the activists among the parliamentarian lack democratic culture and they cannot see anything beyond their narrow party interests. This is an insult to the parliament and democracy in Pakistan.

 The ugly scenes on the floor of the National Assembly have revived the debate in Pakistan on the future of democracy. The other questions that are being discussed include why and how democracy functions smoothly in some countries but runs into problems in other countries? What are the pre-conditions for its continued working? Can democracy succeed in the absence of a democratic culture in the society?

 Despite various disappointment from the current elected provincial and federal governments in Pakistan, democracy remains the most popular system of governance. This system of government gives freedoms and rights to people which no other political system offers. However, people cannot live only with freedoms. They need basic human and civic facilities, personal security and a decent livelihood.

 Democracy evolved gradually in parts of Europe, North America and Australia which are considered good examples of democracy in action. Pakistan and most Asian and African states adopted democracy after the end of the colonial rule in the post-World War ll period. A large number of them faltered on road to full democracy. This gave rise to different types of democracy.

 The rulers in many countries associate democracy with political status-quo; any challenge to their rule is described as an anti-democracy behavior of the opposition. History gives us many example of the rulers who come to power through democratic means but they adopt authoritarian disposition to manage the state affairs. At times, the ruling party uses its majority in the parliament to impose what is described as the “tyranny of majority” over the opposition groups by denying them their due role or passes laws that undermine the spirit of democracy. Democracy is such a delicate system of governance that, despite the holding of fair and free elections, it may not show progress towards democratization in a sustained manner. It can experience reverses, slow down or falter altogether.

 The key issue is that any political and constitutional system does not become democratic only by labeling it democratic. What matters most is the “spirit” and “essence” of democratic norms and values. How far the political and societal leaders have imbibed the values of democracy and to what extent they manifest these values in management of the affairs of the political system? To what extent the main players in politics show restraint, moderation and mutual accommodation through consultation?

 Fair and free elections are integral to democracy but having elections is not enough to ensure democracy. This is the minimal or limited meaning of democracy. The ideal model is the Liberal Democracy which includes fair and free elections plus a number of other attributes.

 Democracy calls for a constitutional rule that is based on liberal political values that emphasize elected governance, the rule of law, equal citizenship for all, civil and political rights and basic freedoms, independent judiciary and civil and political rights should be protected not only against the excesses of the government but also against threats from powerful societal and non-governmental groups.

 It is imperative in democracy that those who exercise state power must be accountable to the people for their actions. Major governmental transactions, especially those involving state funds, must be transparent and open to public scrutiny. Democracy must ensure that state resources are not being used in a highly partisan political manner. Corruption and nepotism must be discouraged. If a democratic government cannot control corruption, it is bound to fail.

 No democracy can succeed if it does not provide basic human and civic needs of the citizenry. The state must assign a priority to education and health care for all; provide basic civic facilities and opportunities for earning respectable livelihood. Further, the democratic state must make sure that the disadvantaged sections of the society are taken care of. The affirmative action is needed for backward classes of people and regions as well as those suffering from poverty. The state must intervene in the economy and societal affairs in order to ensure that they get the state protection and support for leading their lives in a decent manner.

 These conditions for liberal and human-friendly democracy show that sustaining democracy is a formidable task. It requires continuous effort on the part of the rulers as well as the public to secure and strengthen democracy. In fact, active citizenry is a pre-condition for genuine democracy.

 Pakistan has a liberal democratic constitution and its federal and provincial governments are elected. However, there is a crisis of the quality of democracy. Pakistan’s democracy is challenged by poor governance, widespread corruption, the government’s failure to provide basic services to common people and religious-cultural intolerance and terrorism. There is a need to work hard to cope these challenges in order to improve democracy’s effectiveness and quality.

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Trump says he’s meeting with Trudeau to talk trade

Posted on 26 January 2017 by admin

U.S. President Donald Trump announced Sunday that he will be meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto as he moves quickly on his campaign pledge to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Yet faced with negotiations that could rewrite the rules with its biggest trading partner, Trudeau’s office was staying silent Sunday, declining to comment on Trump’s first official statements on NAFTA since taking office.

But Canada’s relations with the new administration are expected to top the agenda when Trudeau met with his cabinet ministers.

Trump – who made clear his “American first” agenda during his inauguration speech — used brief remarks Sunday during a White House ceremony to reaffirm his intent to reopen the trade pact between Canada, the United States and Mexico.

That will start with upcoming meetings with Trudeau and Pena Nieto, he said.

“We’re going to start some negotiations having to do with NAFTA. . . . I ran a campaign somewhat based on NAFTA,” Trump told an audience of administration staff.

“We’re going to start renegotiating on NAFTA, on immigration and on security at the border,” Trump said.

No date was announced for the meeting with Trudeau. The prime minister’s office said Sunday it did not have any additional details beyond a telephone call between the two leaders Saturday when they said they “looked forward to meeting soon.”

Discussions will also include Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of the Blackstone Group investment firm appointed in December to lead the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum, the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed Sunday.

Dominic Barton, the head of the Trudeau government’s Council of Economic Advisers, is also set to attend.

During their call, both Trump and Trudeau underscored the importance of the Canada-U.S. relationship, according to a statement from the prime minister’s office.

“The prime minister noted the depth of the Canada-U.S. economic relationship, with 35 states having Canada as their top export destination,” the statement sad.

White House spokesperson Sean Spicer said the two leaders had a “constructive” conversation about “strengthening the relationship between our two nations.”

“They also discussed setting up additional meetings in the days to come, which we will follow up on,” Spicer said Saturday.

Trump’s brief comments on Sunday were largely focussed on Mexico. “I think we’re going to have a very good result for Mexico, for the United States, for everybody involved. It’s very important,” Trump said.

Still, Trudeau’s government is gearing up to deal with a new administration in Washington as it braces to see how Trump’s tough talk on trade now become policy that could impact the cross-border economy.

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