Sunday, August 28, 2016

Dear Postmedia Editorial Board

This : 
is not an adequate response or apology for what was previously published in that same space by the Postmedia Editorial Board on August 24th : "[Elizabeth] May must renounce anti-Israel resolutions". Excerpted :

You are not RebelMedia. 
You are not some partisan advocacy organization that can pass off the blame for this appalling libelous attack on some hapless newbie book reviewer - although I notice you share with them the phrase "figleaf of Jewishness". 
No, you are the editorial board of Vancouver's largest newspaper. Shame on you for stating Independent Jewish Voices supports terrorism and denies the Holocaust.

IJV Statement On Canadian Media Giant Libeling Us

Corey Levine : Why I Asked The Green Party To Challenge The JNF's Charitable Status

The only upside to this ridiculous op-ed is the thorough drubbing you received in comments below it. First five comments, excerpted :
"As a former journalist and chair of Langara's journalism program, I'm shocked by the degree of distortion in this editorial."
"This editorial is preposterous!"
"What a very sad editorial, full of errors and inaccuracies and probably conscious lies."
"This 'editorial' is purposely disingenuous."
"This editorial could have been written by the Likud party."

Your op-ed also condemned a resolution sponsored by Elizabeth May and 28 other Greens calling for Canada Revenue Agency to revoke the charitable status of the Jewish National Fund, the largest private landowner in Israel. JNF has used its tax-deductible status in Canada to build and maintain the infamous “Canada Park” on the ruins of three Palestinian villages.  As you note in your correction, at the convention the language was watered down to call for any charitable organization's status to be revoked if they are in violation of Canadian or international law. 

In 2014 Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey was Honorary Chair of the Jewish National Fund's annual Negev Gala.  
Elizabeth May has attended their galas in the past and consulted with JNF CEO Josh Cooper prior to the Green Party convention vote.

The offending op-ed, now taken down, published in the Vancouver Sun and Ottawa Citizen :

In February, the House of Commons passed a motion 229-to-51 condemning any actions by Canadian groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement. IJV was the first national Jewish organization globally to support the non-violent BDS movement; the Green Party is the first national party in Canada to follow suit. Bravo to you both.

h/t  Waterbaby

Friday, August 26, 2016

Stephen Harper's Legacy

Ten years ago on the day Stephen Harper and his Conservative government were first elected into office, US Ambassador David Wilkins sent home a diplomatic cable outlining how the US could best support and direct a prime minister whose values were "not in line" with most Canadians. 

He recommended Harper would be useful in "advancing the US agenda for Canada" and that giving him " a success story" like the softwood lumber deal would "shore up his credentials" with Canadians without appearing to "sell out to the Americans".

Ambassador Wilkins "transformational agenda" for Harper :

"Cross border law enforcement" "enhanced information sharing", "joint maritime operations", "more robust counter-narcotics efforts", "security perimeter", following the US lead on Haiti, Afghanistan, Iran, Venezuela, Colombia, ...

Has Canada done anything independent of this cable under Harper?

Last time for Harper's Perps with Perks - here are the stories behind each Perp.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Libs falling off electoral reform bandwagon


Electoral Reform Committee member Liberal Sherry Romanado floated the idea of implementing "federal solutions" "without changing the voting system itself" at ERRE meeting #16 yesterday. She was pitching how to achieve at least some of the committee's mandate set in motion by Justin Trudeau's campaign promise to make 2015 the last election under FPtP.

This is one step further along from her more usual complaint that any version of proportional representation multi-member ridings would mean people would be confused as to who their MP is.

Liberal John Aldag asked “Is FPtP the only solution for Canada?”, while Liberal Ruby Sahota recommended giving voters the simplest voting system possible, presumably if not FPtP then its even worse majoritarian cousin, Alternative Vote. 

Liberal Chair Scarpaleggia wrapped up meeting #15 earlier with a nice paeon to the status quo, opining that a government's majority power under FPtP is not absolute - no, it is kept in check by "the courts, provinces, the media, and unions". 
You'll notice that other parties did not make his list. 
Scarpaleggia :
"Our system doesn't give absolute power to a party that has less than 50% of the vote, it just gives a stronger hand to one party to negotiate the obstacles in its way in trying to exercise national purpose."
National purpose that does not include obstacles like proportional representation.

Between Libs falling off the electoral reform bandwagon, the Cons and Bloc still banging on about referendums and moving the whole issue forward to be voted on in the 2019 election, and the inordinate amount of time wasted discussing internet voting - which Elections Canada has said we will definitely not be getting for the next election - it really is not looking good for electoral reform at the Electoral Reform Committee at this point. 

Fun fact : From the e-voting proponent witness : "Estonia is the only country to deploy internet voting in a national election." 
I wonder why that is.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Loopholes and Libya

Really? Because a mere two weeks ago, Steven Chase was reporting: 
Ottawa rewrites mandate for screening arms exports
"The Canadian government has quietly watered down its own mandate for screening the export of military goods, rewriting parts of the only substantive public statement available on Ottawa’s responsibilities for policing foreign sales."

Previous policy on military exports : Canada’s export controls are meant “to regulate and impose certain restrictions on exports in response to clear policy objectives.” 

New policy :"export controls are intended “to balance the economic and commercial interests of Canadian business with the national interest of Canada.”

So it's jobs, jobs, jobs vs "Canada prohibits the export of arms and related materiel to countries that are under United Nations Security Council arms embargos "

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan's guarded "hints" above yesterday come in response to this item two days ago

"Earlier this year, a UN report criticized the Streit Group, which has a plant in Innisfil, Ont., north of Toronto, for the "illicit transfer" of 131 armoured vehicles in 2012...   At least 79 Typhoon and Spartan patrol vehicles were delivered to the effectively lawless nation in 2014
"Streit's sales were brokered through middlemen. At least four separate companies, one American and three from the United Arab Emirates, purchased the vehicles."
This brokering through middlemen to a third country is called diversion, which was prohibited by Global Affairs until it changed the rules this year to allow it.

In 2012 and 2013, the United Arab Emirates was, according to Global Affairs, our second largest destination for military exports after Saudi Arabia. 


Report on Exports of Military Goods from Canada - 2012
United Arab Emirates     $277,116,557  No armoured cars but $251,134,882 for : 
"Aircraft, lighter-than-air vehicles, unmanned airborne vehicles, aero-engines ...specially designed or modified for military use"

Libya            $3,116,000     "Ground vehicles and components" 
United Arab Emirates       $4,038,373  of which $1,659,530 was for "Ground vehicles"

Table 4: Exports of Military Goods and Technology - 2014
Libya            $2,681,000      "Ground vehicles and components"
United Arab Emirates    $10,204,844 - of which $5,205,000 were "Ground vehicles" and another $3,706,563 was for "Imaging or countermeasure equipment, specially designed for military use"

Nothing for Libya
United Arab Emirates   $3,629,728 worth of "Military Goods and Technology" but no mention exactly what was shipped.        

So are these ground vehicle sales part of the Streit Group shipment to Libya and South Sudan, or some other shipment altogether?

Well we're unlikely ever to know who shipped what where because of another change made this year to our government’s policy governing the export of military goods :
"The names of exporting companies are now specifically protected."
Neither will we know how much happens to find its way to "lawless nations" through the US, where Streit happens to have a plant, because :
"The tables do not report exports of military goods to the United States, which are roughly estimated to account for over half of Canada’s exports of military goods and technology each year."

*** Fun fact : Following the $347-million Libya * mission* and a few months after Steve had his very own Mission Accomplished moment, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird signed off on $2.68 million in armoured vehicle export sales to Libya during the UN investigation. 

Because it's 2016 ... just like it was in 2012.

Balancing jobsjobsjobs with destroying the planet

Brilliant one minute speech New Zealand MP James Shaw made to an almost empty house. Before going into politics, Shaw was a consultant at PriceWaterhouseCoopers and HSBC.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Dear Jason Kenney and Scott Reid

Watching you two in the ERRE committee dragging your feet on implementing electoral reform, I'm reminded of your pioneering work arguing passionately and intelligently in favour of it in the HoC in 2001.

Here's you, Jason Kenney, deploring that "Canada is now the only multi-party advanced democracy in the world that has a system of voting designed in and for 16th-century England" and arguing in favour of "a greater reflection of the diversity and plurality of political views" : 

And you, Mr. Reid, you left no doubt as to your position on our current FPtP system :  
"I will start by making the objection that the system in Canada really is broken at this point" 
and called for "a special all-party committee to examine the merits of various models of proportional representation" :

All excellent points, Mr. Reid!
Three and a half hours later you were on your feet again making a pitch for the Single Transferable Vote System 

Presumably this past advocacy in favour of changing our voting system to some form of proportional representation explains why the only objection to it available to you now is to keep banging on about referenda instead.  

I ask the ERRE committee to enter Mr. Reid and Mr. Kenney's excellent arguments in favour of electoral reform into the current record.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The BC Shell Game of Public Funds

In the 2013 BC Election, the Liberal party pledged the LNG industry would create $1 trillion in economic activity and a $100 billion prosperity fund. Tagline - "It's no fantasy"

Martyn Brown, Gordon Campbell’s former Chief of Staff, reckons Christy Clark and the BC Libs were 'patsies', repeatedly 'duped' by petro industry's sparkling promises of new investments, lots of jobs, and an endless supply of unicorn meat.

Sure, let's go with 'duped'.

"It is difficult to get a premier to understand something," as Upton Sinclair might have put it, "when her salary depends on her not understanding it."

BC In-Sights blogger and researcher extraordinaire Norm Farrell excerpts from Martyn Brown's Energy News Corp column on Clark's LNG fantasy and the gutting of BC's "2008 climate action plan":
"The Petronas precedent also gave those Asian state-oil monopolies a special 25-year indemnity that is underwritten by B.C. taxpayers.
That indemnity will save them harm from any so-called “discriminatory events.”
It assured the LNG industry that any companies covered under such project agreements would not have to face any industry-specific carbon taxes or any new industry-specific GHG reduction initiatives for at least 25 years.
If any future government changes those locked-in tax rates and benefits at a cost to those companies that is greater than $25 million in any year, or more than $50 million over five years, they will be entitled to full compensation, courtesy of B.C. taxpayers.
Similarly, any changes in government policy that impose new rules or tougher standards specific to the LNG industry, which entail higher costs relating to carbon taxes or to greenhouse gas emissions and reporting requirements, will be fully compensable above that threshold."
So what happens to that legislation now that a world glut of LNG and it's non-competitive BC market price has choked on Christy's unicorn meat? Can we repeal it?

Norm is on Canadian Glen's blogtalkradio show The View From Up Here tonight at 6pm PST to discuss the BC Hydro/Site C Dam con and the LNG debacle on The BC Shell Game of Public Funds. That's the question I'm sending in.


Monday, July 25, 2016

Why party strategists are threatened by electoral reform

Tom Parkin on bastions and battlegrounds ...
"There’s a reason traditional political strategists argue so fervently to keep the first-past-the-post system.

Yes, it can give them 100% of the power with only 39% of the vote. But that’s not the worst.

More worrisome is the thought the beloved political bastions and battlegrounds created by the first-past-the-post system might be destroyed – rendering useless all the manipulative political strategies they’ve successfully developed to exploit them."
Strategies like ignoring voters in the 1/3 to 1/2 ridings where an election outcome is a foregone conclusion to concentrate their micro-targeting tech and pork-barrelling on just the close ridings. Strategies like dogwhistling voters into two-party strategic voting.
"Proportional representation wipes out bastions because it makes every vote count. Everyone – even in what was a bastion – has a reason to vote, and all parties now need to pay attention."
Very good article. Go.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Another Clark Park Day in BC

So remember this?

"The 2007 document has surfaced one week after it was revealed that the Premier was a partner in her former husband’s lobbying firm, which formerly listed its office at her residence and boasted such clients as Enbridge and B.C. Rail.
In the fall of 2007, Ms. Clark entered into a two-year agreement as chairman and board member of RCI Capital Group’s RCI Pacific Gateway Education Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of the investment firm.
Since becoming Premier, Ms. Clark has actively promoted RCI on official trade missions to Asia — recently signing a memorandum of understanding on behalf of the B.C. government in securing $1-billion in overseas investment..."

No I never worked for RCI said Christy, and RCI Capital's John Park gallantly came to Clark's defence, saying he'd never so much as even met her back then, much less paid her the first of three annual director's fee installments of $4,000 due her within 120 days of her RCI appointment. 
No, it was her then husband, Mark Marissen, Stephane Dion's campaign manager, that Park had hired. 
I guess that's just a spousal Chairman biz card then.

In December 2013, Clark appointed RCI managing director Tenzin D. Khangsar as chair of B.C.'s Multicultural Advisory Council. Khangsar was a former chief of staff to both Jason Kenney and Tony Clement and a key CPC ethnic campaign strategist for the Cons in 2011. 

Bob Mackin, July 2014 : 
"John Park hired Khangsar to be managing director of his RCI Capital investment bank after the Tories were re-elected in 2011. RCI’s board includes retired Conservative MPs Stockwell Day and John Reynolds. Day represented RCI on last fall’s trade mission led by Premier Christy Clark to China."

Still with me? Ok, flash forward to the Vancouver Sun two days ago featuring yet another Clark Park Day photo op :

"A B.C.-based company says it has brought $2 billion to Canada under the Quebec government’s cash-for-visa program, a scheme that some say is a factor in Vancouver’s housing affordability crisis.
Vancouver-based RCI Capital Group, which helps resource companies develop strategies and raise money in Asia, has a Montreal-based subsidiary that has been active for years in the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program.
The Quebec program has become increasingly controversial in Metro Vancouver as critics point to it as one of the drivers of sky-high housing prices, since the vast majority of successful Quebec applicants immediately establish themselves in Toronto and Vancouver."

The Tyee : 'China Syndrome' Paralyzes Politicians in Housing Affordability Crisis
Huge impact of foreign buyers can't be ignored, and raising the issue isn't racist.
"...the province won't act as long as the real estate industry that profits enormously from selling homes to foreign buyers also contributes huge amounts to the BC Liberal Party. Josh Gordon, Simon Fraser University public policy professor, even refers to the influence of Bob Rennie, the real estate mogul who also heads Premier Christy Clark's fundraising efforts.
That would be the Rennie who recently suggested action to curb foreign real estate investment would start a trade war. "China buys $6 billion a year in British Columbia exports," he said. "Are we going to tamper with those jobs and our economy?"
Gordon calls out those who fund political parties.
"The fundraising is being dominated by prosperous developers and others closely tied to the housing boom," he writes. "This is the second lesson about housing market politics from the past decade: inside players, with large vested interests, are willing to shovel over massive amounts of money to political parties to keep the boom booming."

Ian Young, South China Morning Post : Leak reveals secret tax crackdown on foreign-money real estate deals in Vancouver
"Confidential briefing for CRA auditors outlines strategy to tackle suspected tax cheats who do not report global income or who ‘flip’ homes – but reveals that last year, there was only one successful audit of global income for all of BC."
Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun : B.C. politicians almost alone in seeking foreign donations
"B.C. is one of the few jurisdictions in the world that welcomes political donations from foreign individuals and corporations.The B.C. Liberals have in recent years received hundreds of thousands of dollars from offshore real estate developers, mining companies, railways and others. At least indirectly, the B.C. Liberals have even received donations from foreign governments, specifically China."

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The strategy of the fly

"A terrorist is like a fly that wants to destroy a china shop. Small, low, fly is unable to move not even a cup. So she found an elephant, enters his ear and buzzes until mad with fear and anger, it sacked the shop. Thus, for example, the Al-Qaeda fly led the American elephant to destroy the china shop of the Middle East.

Why are they so sensitive to terrorist provocations? Because the legitimacy of the modern state is based on its promise to keep the public sphere free of political violence. A regime can withstand terrible catastrophes, and even ignore them, provided its legitimacy is not based on preventing them.

Today, a government may turn a blind eye to high levels of domestic and sexual violence, because they do not undermine its legitimacy. Rapists and abusive husbands are not perceived as an existential threat to the state, because, historically, the state did not build itself on the promise to eliminate sexual violence. In contrast, the much rarer cases of terrorism are viewed as a deadly threat, because over the last few centuries modern western states have gradually built their legitimacy on the explicit promise to maintain zero political violence within their borders."

Read the whole article from Yuval Noah Harari in French, or in English 

h/t Line Merrette Vincent


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