Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"God is my Spin Doctor"

is the name of a play about Diane Haskett, the controversial former mayor of London, Ontario who was fined $10,000 for refusing to declare Gay Pride Week. She did participate in the Jesus March though.

Now she's the controversial Con candidate for London/North running against the Greens' Elisabeth May. Haskett was parachuted back into Canada last week from her six year stint as a communications consultant for US Republican Elizabeth Dole.
Cerberus noted how all her scheduled media interviews were immediately cancelled by the Cons.
My Blahg links to Garth Turner, who published an internal Con memo soliciting campaign help for Haskett from Parliament Hill staffers, who we do not pay to ply partisan politics. Rob Edger has even more links.

But it was this bit in the Sun that caught my eye :
"Dianne Haskett, the former mayor of London, Ont., was a board member of the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy, a Washington-based, interfaith organization" which seeks to "elevate the consideration of religious factors in foreign policy" by attaching American religious leaders to embassies in the Arab world, Asia, Africa and Latin America."

What an absolutely capital idea. I imagine there are still a few people left in some of those countries who have yet to be convinced that the West's bombing the shit out of them and/or hoovering up their resources is not some kind of nutbar religious jihad on our part. Attaching evangelists to foreign embassies ought to clear that right up.

The Spin Doctor is certainly going to have His Hands full on Nov 27.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Pumpkin Gospel

Ross at The Gazetteer points out that the annual crapfest about the so-conned War on Christmas is already under way.
Is it just me or does the War on the War on Christmas start a little earlier each year? Used to be it didn't officially get underway until right after the annual War on Hallowe'en was over.

Say, are they still freaked out about pumpkins?

"How is the stuff we pulled out of the pumpkin like sin in our heart? (They’re both yucky; sin is inside us; it’s sticky and smelly.)
Draw a happy face on the pumpkin, then use the sharp knife to carve it out. When you are finished, read aloud 2 Corinthians 5:17 and/or Ephesians 2:10. "

Yup. Guess so.

Here at Creekside, we note that many churches are failing to festoon their windows with the traditional witches, bats, and skeletons of the Hallowe'en season. Black cats are nowhere to be seen. This scandalous omission strikes at the very heart of our right to impose ourselves on other people's good manners. Such slights must not be tolerated in a free society.

But it will take money. Lots and lots of money.
Smooth operators are standing by. The first 100 lucky donors will receive a free copy of our Defense of Irreligion Act, lovingly inscribed using a stick dipped in your choice of either fake blood or chocolate. Plus a "Black is the new black" bumper sticker.

So act now. And remember - it's not enough for just you to dress up like a slut and stuff yourself with candy. No, everyone else must do it too.

This public service announcement paid for by grants from Focus on the Fetish and the Institute for Marzipan and Familiars.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Dog bites man

The National Post enthusiastically humps Peter MacKay's leg :

"Even if MacKay said what he's accused of, so what?
Dogs are celebrated animals in our society.
Indeed, Canada was settled in part by British WASPs-of-the-manor, whose affection for their dogs often rivalled (or surpassed) that shown to their wives.
Is it any wonder that our society's most iconic painting is that of dogs playing poker .....?"

"British WASPs-of-the-manor" who consider "Dogs Playing Poker" to be "iconic".
The very definition of the NaPo target audience.

During Heckling Period in the House on Wednesday, MacKay traded in his previous jackass status for that of bald-faced liar, denying that he had said anything or made any gesture whatsoever that everyone has been watching on the internet all week.

Tomorrow NaPo will leap on this denial and lovingly toss it around like a throw toy, thereby inadvertantly burying MacKay in contempt of the House. Good boy, NaPo, go fetch!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Getting things done

"Way of the metal fist" from Ottawonk

~ a gnu-gov memo from a blunt metal object

You so totally already have her

The Conservative Reform Alliance Party (or C.R.A.P.) trotted out MP Helena Guergis today to vouch for Peter MacKay's integrity and respect for women.

From the Globe&Mail :
"Ontario Tory MP Helena Guergis was set to issue a press release yesterday morning reaffirming her support for the anti-floor crossing legislation. However, Mr. Harper made her parliamentary secretary to Mr. Emerson yesterday afternoon, and the press release was not issued." Feb 8, 2006

Oh, sorry - wrong press release.
Ah, here we go :

From the Toronto Star :
"She [Helena Guergis] defended MacKay as "a gentleman, in every sense of the word (who) has always treated me with the utmost respect."

Unlike, say, your party.

Oh, and Globe&Mail? You already have her.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Let's take just a moment to review shop safety

Aug 29 : Canadian Defense Minister Gordon O'Connor visits Afghanistan.

Sept 22 : A senate committee investigating, among other things, "questions over reconstruction spending" in Afghanistan is denied entry into the country by Chief of the Defence Rick Hillier on the grounds it is too dangerous :
"For reasons of personal safety, the committee would no longer be able to travel to Kandahar."
My Blahg covered the subsequent deliberate trashing of the senators in the press.

Oct 23 : Canadian Minister of International Co-operation Josee Verner arrived in Kandahar today before flying to the capital Kabul, where she announced money for two new projects. $14.5 million for a girls' education project, plus $10 million for other ongoing reconstruction projects.

Safe, not safe, then safe again. Got it.

UPDATE : A better post on this from Accidental Deliberations .

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Five things Peter MacKay has done for feminism

1) Highlighted why the gnu-ly expunged "equality" mandate of Status of Women Canada should be restored.

2) Reminded us that when a woman is vilified on the basis of her sex, the attack will be construed in much of the press as being somehow her own fault.

3) Provided us with the sight of opportunistic moral grandstanding from the party which failed to provide something as basic as a daycare plan for women when it was in power.

4) Reminded us that, while attacks on women and feminism are primarily the stock in trade of bottomfeeders ,

5) conflating sexual slurs with feminism is not solely the perogative of the right.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The traditional nine month anniversary gift : Zoloft

Does this poll make my ass look big?
Feb 9, 2006 SES Poll :

Yup, you could park a truck in the shade of that butt.
Oct 15, 2006 Strategic Poll :

Well isn't this all very plus ca change?
Nine months later and the leaderless Libs and the Cons are again at a draw.
Perhaps we could quit running those editorials asking whether "Stephen Harper's honeymoon with Canadian voters is over" now.
I mean - what kind of honeymoon clocks in with a 32% approval rating?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The URL According to Garth

Garth Turner, outspoken maverick Conservative MP with a blog on which he is frequently critical of "Hats and Horses" Reform/Alliance positions, has been kicked out of the Ontario Conservative caucus. He will sit out the remainder of this term as an independent. His chair has already been moved to the other side of the House.

"Why now?" he asks in an elegant 3 minute farewell on his blog.

Good question.

Garth Turner's blog Sept 13 :
"This was the first time I met Charles McVety in person, and seriously hope it will be the last. Amen."

Garth Turner's blog Sept 17 : [bold : mine]
"I came home to an email blast from the man who would save us from ourselves, Charles McVety. He's now on a rant about some pro-homosexual manual allegedly published with taxpayer dollars by some deviants in Toronto and aimed at children. Fine. The world is full of ugliness, and he's welcome to wallow in it.
"But what was interesting was McVety's email distribution list, which happens to look a lot like our local internal Conservative Party membership, according to the response that has come flooding in to me this morning. There is only one place he could have plugged into that, and it reminds me I may yet be at war with my own party establishment. Hmmm."

Globe&Mail Sept 18 :
"McVety noted that large numbers of Conservative supporters actively campaigned to get out the vote in the last election for Tory MPs who oppose gay marriage, which he said contributed to a higher voter turnout and a Conservative victory.
"If they abandon those voters, they won't come out. And if there is not a high voter turnout, there will be no majority [Conservative] government," he said."

CTV : "The PMO has made it clear Turner's suspension was not Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision, and he was just as surprised as anyone else."

Note to Steve : No one else was all that "surprised".
We saw this one coming.

One other consideration on "Why now?" :

CTV : "the final straw for many Tories was [Garth Turner] using the blog to say kind things about Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. The Conservatives' Clean Air Act is to be tabled on Thursday."

THURSDAY UPDATE : From Montreal Simon :
"So that's it. Harper has been throwing a lot of bones recently at the wingnut base of his party. He threw them another chance to kill gay marriage. He threw them the Court Challenges Program. And the Status of Women cuts. He dangled the promise of a so-called Defence of Religions Act over them like a big bloody bone. He wanted to get rid of that thorn in his side. And get political capital in return. So today he threw them Garth."

AFTERTHOUGHT : If Garth crossed the floor to the Greens now, it would give them a voice in the House.
I know he was very critical of Emerson's crossing, but Emerson was headhunted, not ejected.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Steve and Sandra and the faith-based thing

Amid stories of the no longer secret Republican derision of fundies down south, comes this quote from Harper in his Reform days, as reprinted in The Star:

"In the United States, this (social conservative) element of the electorate has been critical in the development of the Republican coalition. It provides workers and funds disproportionate to its size as a voting bloc."

Sunday, October 15, 2006

My Pet Zombie

President Harper, who recently made a 28 million dollar cut to literacy programs, is seen here reading to schoolchildren from the book "The Zombie Zone".
There's a cheap shot in here somewhere -- I just can't quite put my finger on it...


No man is a peninsula

"Peter MacKay, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, might want to bone up on his geography. In remarks to CTV about the nuclear threat from North Korea, he said:
"I think it will take a great deal of focus around the island."


Friday, October 13, 2006

Canadian Forces recruitment poster?

No, not the guns, fool. The foliage!
Click to inhale.
Lifted from the Canadian National Defense site.

UPDATE from Raw Story
"the crew of at least one armored car had camouflaged their vehicle with marijuana."

Vote McCorp for a better world!

To be eligible to vote in a BC local election, you have to be a citizen, you have to be 18 or more, and you have to have lived in BC for 6 months and your district for 30 days.
Did I leave anything out?
Oh yeah - you also have to be a person.

Some people aren't so keen on that last qualification and they want to change it :

"WHEREAS corporations contribute to the operation of local government but have no representation.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Union of BC Municipalities request that the Provincial Government review local government election legislation and amend it accordingly to permit corporations the right to a vote in local government elections."
Submitted by Lumby

Ha! Good old Lumby, eh? This year's 'useful idiot' municipality.

Resolution B76, as it is called, will be debated at the Union of BC Municipalities convention Oct 23 - 27 in Victoria, and will presumably be defeated like it always has been before.

As if we don't already have enough trouble with the Council of Chief Executives writing Canada's energy and foreign policies.

But I'm most curious about the proposed logistics here.
Would corporations be required to provide documentation that they are 18 years or older and Canadian?
Because currently, our human U.S. relatives up here on holiday don't get to vote.
And if they break the law or act like social psychopaths while they're here, they get deported.

Meanwhile, the appliances in my kitchen are both Canadian and well over 18. Just sayin'.

Link from Peace Earth & Justice News

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Enter At Own Risk

"You may be subject to arbitrary detention or arrest and torture"

One person's actions against the lawlessness of the U.S. government.
Performed at the Peace Arch border crossing on Thanksgiving

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Pray For Clean Air Act

Canada's Gnu Government :
Stephen Harper today announced that the government will introduce a Made in Washington Clean Air Act, which will set in motion the country's first comprehensive and integrated approach to tackle air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions...will spend a year consulting extensively with industry first...no targets yet...no details as yet....will make an announcement about another announcement later on in the week perhaps....

[Gnu official statement and logo - both edited for clarity]

Monday, October 09, 2006

Giving thanks for love and guts

Thanks to Ross at The Gazetteer for a wonderful link to the one-man Free Hugs campaign. For two and a half years, Juan Mann has been holding up a sign in Sydney Australia that says "Free Hugs". And freely giving them. When advised by Sydney council that he would have to post a $25 million public liability insurance bond to be allowed to continue, he gathered 10,000 signatures of support and Sydney council backed down.
So - 10,000 signatures trumps $25 million then.
The YouTube counter shows over 2 million hits so far, with spin-off Free Hugs campaigns in Tel Aviv, Taiwan, Toronto ... All from a one-man campaign.

We all have the power - we just have to use it.

Sven certainly did when he made this bold one-man protest at the Peace Arch : Enter at Own Risk

So do the more than 1600 Israeli Refuseniks, soldiers who selectively object to military operations on the West Bank and Gaza.
"The time I spent in jail was the most important time I served for my country, for my friends in my unit, for my family, for the security of Israel." - Major Chen Alon.

Tomorrow and Thursday, "Raised To Be Heroes" by islander Jack Silberman with cinematography by Rudi Kovanic is showing in Vancouver as part of the Vancouver Film Festival.

Thanks to Silvaine Zimmerman, International Green Party Rep, for the heads up.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Steve and Sandra - NAU you see it, NAU you don't

NDP Trade Critic Peter Julian has raised the question of the secret conference at the Banff Springs Hotel organized by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. He will be making access to information requests.
Good for him, but he will be up against these guys.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Thank you, Stephen Harper

Canada will officially protest the U.S. treatment of Arar and Canadian officials.

"What I would like to see is obviously the United States government come clean with its version of events, to acknowledge … the deficiencies and inappropriate conduct that occurred in this case, particularly vis-a-vis its relationship with the Canadian government," Harper said.
Canada wants to hear that "these kinds of incidents will not be repeated in the future."

Thank you, sir.


Friday, October 06, 2006

The Federal Bureau of Integration

FBI agents are carrying out investigations in Canada without the approval of the Canadian government.
Yeah, I know - quel surprise.

But there's an interesting bit of vid up on CBC about it here : Video - Evan Dyer.
I know you hate the clicky/linky thing so here's the gist of it.

RCMP Commissioner Zaccardelli assured Canadians that no effort would be spared to avoid a repetition of the Arar debacle, and he has since put in place procedures that centralize and properly vet "paper documentation" going to U.S. authorities.
However Evan Dyer reports that this means doodly because members of the FBI are in fact physically present at those very meetings of the Canadian Integrated National Security & Enforcement Teams where ongoing cases are discussed. Ongoing, as in unproven.
INSET handled the intel on Arar and the Toronto 17.

Dyer further points out that this is particularly troubling given the recent passage of the U.S. Military Commissions Bill, which allows the U.S. to prosecute foreigners, including Canadians, on hearsay evidence.
I'm guessing despite Zac's concern about vetting "paper documentation", the FBI will probably manage to take its own notes at those meetings.
"When asked about the report during question period, Day said Canadian security forces work with Canada's allies, including the U.S, and have agreements in terms of information sharing."
Shorter Day : It's ok if the FBI doesn't ask our permission first because we already said they don't have to.
Shorter me : Isn't this where we came in? Stockwell Day has Stockholm Syndrome.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Senate endorses leaky umbrella

A senate defence committee report released Thursday says Canada should sign on to the U.S. ballistic missile defence program.
Because signing on to a program that can't even pass its own tests on a good day under ideal conditions in that sink hole of escalating pre-emptive militarization and weaponization of space that is the flagship of U.S. diplomacy just seems like the right thing to do.

Here's a better test of Canadian security for you - How many Canadian students travelling abroad sport a US flag on their backpacks?

To be fair, the Senate Defence Committee also advises doubling the amount of money we assign to foreign aid :
"The likelihood of reducing world turmoil through military responses is a mug's game. Force won't work on its own."

Yeah, well, they got the first sentence right.

Link. Much better coverage of this at No BMD, eh?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Defense of Religions Act

Yeah, you go for it, Steve ...

From the Globe&Mail :
"...there is acknowledged uncertainty about the rights of individuals to publicly criticize homosexual behaviour, to take out advertisements that quote scripture demanding that homosexuals be put to death..."

Why yes, there is an "acknowledged uncertainty" there, isn't there, Steve?
That thin delicate ill-defined line separating religion and death threats.
That illusive boundary between belief and hate speech.
Clearly the whole country, indeed all of humanity, will greatly benefit if you can finally clear that one up for us.

UPDATE : Although the G&B are standing by their story :
"Justice Minister Vic Toews confirmed the government plan to The Globe Tuesday but refused to discuss specifics",
today finds Steve backing away from this odious little trial balloon, saying he hasn't seen the bill and referring to it as "speculation".

No matter. The important thing is that all the right wing lobby groups with "Family" or "Marriage" or "Values" in their titles now have a launching platform from which to propel their talking points into the national press.

"Institute for Canadian Values" executive director Joseph Benami gives it his approval :
"There are strong non-theological arguments on both sides of this"

and "Institute of Marriage and Family Canada" executive director Dave Quist says :
"It's important to recognize the church has a right to protect its freedom of religion. I think we're at a time in society where we want things spelled out specifically."

Allow me to help out with the spelling here: B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T !

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

CSIS didn't want Arar returned to Canada

From The Hill Times (bold-mine) :

"In May and June 2003, the Canadian government intended to send a letter to Syria indicating that it spoke with "one voice"–seeking the powerful support CSIS and the RCMP–to call for Mr. Arar's release. But according to Justice O'Connor's report, CSIS "was uncomfortable" with a statement in the letter that there was "no evidence" that Mr. Arar had links to al-Qaeda. The agency argued "very strongly" against a letter that it saw as sending the wrong message to U.S. authorities. "CSIS wanted to make it clear to the Solicitor General that there was 'political jeopardy' in signing a joint letter and that bringing Mr. Arar back to Canada was going to be a political 'hot potato' with American authorities," Justice O'Connor wrote in the report, which cleared Mr. Arar

Justice O'Connor also revealed in his report that CSIS, "for reasons of its own, preferred that Mr. Arar not return to Canada." While DFAIT [Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade] drafted its letter to argue for Mr. Arar's release in June 2003, Jack Hooper, assistant director of operations for CSIS, called an assistant deputy minister at DFAIT to explain why it opposed the return of Mr. Arar. CSIS feared that if Mr. Arar returned with a public story of torture it could "impair" deportations from Canada to Syria, according to the report."


"It remains unclear why the RCMP and CSIS together resisted–as Justice O'Connor documents–the attempt by the minister of foreign affairs to send a letter to Syria saying that there was "no evidence" that Mr. Arar was linked to al-Qaeda."

Go read it. There's a lot more there and a lot more yet to come out regarding this.

For instance, Stockwell Day has stated there will not be a full-fledged public inquiry.
"He also denied the Tories backed away from another of the judge's recommendations - filing a formal diplomatic protest with the United States over Arar's treatment - for fear of angering the Bush administration in Washington.
Day has sent a letter to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff saying Arar's name has been removed from terrorist watch lists north of the border, and urging the U.S. to delete him from its lists as well."

That's it? That's fucking it? A letter about a no-fly list?
The US kidnaps a Canadian citizen, albeit with lots of help from the people whose job it is to protect Canada and Canadian citizens, and the best Stockboy can manage in the way of protest is a letter about the no-fly list?

Well, no, that's not quite it, actually. There's also this :

"Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay has also discussed the case with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, but has stopped short of an official protest."

It seems Sockboy and MacKay, like CSIS, are also "uncomfortable" about "sending the wrong message to the U.S authorities" about a "political hot potato".

UPDATE Oct 6, 2006 : Thank you, Stephen Harper

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Steve and Sandra and the lighter side of torture

US Congress, with the help of 12 Democrats, has suspended the right of habeas corpus. Bush is now officially in the business of disappearing people without trial, and authorizing interrogation methods the UN considers illegal. In addition, immunity from prosecution is now retroactively granted to the perpetrators of all previous abuses.

In a story in the Toronto Star regarding Canada's ongoing complicity in the Arar case, there is this tragic little sidebar, with a quote from a State Department official regarding their decision to send Arar to Syria.
It reads in part :

"there were assurances that [Arar's] treatment would meet the standards of the Geneva Conventions," he told a briefing. "We had to have a reasonable expectation that he was not going to be tortured or maltreated. We were able to assure ourselves of that."

Not any more.

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