Thursday, May 31, 2007

Avi Lewis : On The Map


Avi Lewis is back with "On The Map", a 30 minute take on the big news stories of the day airing nightly Monday to Thursday on CBC Newsworld from June 4 to June 28 at 4:30 and 11:30pm PST.
All episodes will be available at cbc.ca/onthemap following broadcast.

Avi's previous TV show, "The Big Picture", kicked some serious ass - ripping into the melange of official media stories with his trademark very sharp backtalk and rigorous research.

On The Map preview : Avi interviews US neo-con asshat ambassor to the UN John Bolton on the proposed Iraq Oil Law. Go, Avi!

H/T Hello Cool World
(Cross-posted at The Galloping Beaver)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Conservative wit - Dernier cri !

When writing last night's post - Conservative wit : a necessarily short post - about the ridiculous new Con website that attacks Dion in the most juvenile fashion imaginable, I failed to notice that Not A Leader.ca is in fact a bilingual website. Quelle erreur!

Rick Mercer noticed, and tonight he explains why it matters :

"From a show business perspective what is really interesting is that the Prime Minister is making this blog available in both official languages. Now this is cutting edge and very risky because comedy in English generally doesn't translate that well into French, especially this kind. And by "this kind" I mean the "let's make the French look stupid because they are French" kind.

In the official Conservative party's blog, Kyoto the dog likes to quote his "master" Stephane Dion, and of course Dion speaks in broken English. According to the dog, no matter what happens Dion simply says ""You don't know what you speak about!" This is the genius in the comedy. The dumb Frenchie can't speak English! Dion is not a leader because English is his second language and he makes mistakes. I am very curious to see if this will be the blog that breaks through in both English and French Canada.

What's also funny about the blog is that Kyoto says really clever things when he is saying goodbye, like "Time for bed. I'll dream about France. Stéphane tells me we will move back one day."

This is funny because Dion was born in Quebec and has lived most of his life in Canada but his mother is from France. Now this part I admit I didn't get but I think the joke is if you keep telling people in English Canada he is from France they will believe it and apparently this will make him even more unpopular than he already is. There is comedy for you – Stephane Dion is not a leader. His mother is an immigrant! An immigrant's son wants to be Prime Minister! Again while I'm sure this kills inside the Conservative caucus I'm not so sure it will elicit the same guffaws in Quebec."

Heh.
(Cross-posted at The Galloping Beaver)

Conservative wit

A necessarily short post.

A website attacking Dion features such sterling examples of biting wit as musing whether or not he will move back to France. Honestly, Captain Underpants couldn't have said it any better.
I'd give you the direct quotes but unfortunately the website concludes with this warning :
"This website is the property of the Conservative Party of Canada and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without express written permission."
Oh dear, I probably shouldn't have quoted that.
Anyway, humour of this caliber would seem to indicate that the Cons are hoping to lower the voting age to 10.

Our next example is Con Scott Reid heatedly asking for a ruling as to whether NDP Pat Martin was "guilty of an offence" under the Security of Information Act for passing out copies of secret documents that had already been published in two national newspapers.

OK, so that last one wasn't intentionally funny.
(Cross-posted at The Galloping Beaver)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Whiny-ass deep integration titty-babies

I mean, what the hell is taking so long?

WASHINGTON (CP) - Some major U.S. businesses are worried that North American co-operation is falling off the agenda, even as leaders of the three countries get ready to meet in Quebec in August.
Uncertainty about progress on a host of cross-border initiatives is rattling some nerves in American boardrooms before President George W. Bush joins Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexico's Felipe Calderon for an annual get-together.

Some quotes from above-mentioned WADITBs :
"There has to be a plan to implement this, a road map. They asked the
business community to do a lot. We're not seeing any results."
"If we end up with nothing, why would I want to bring my chairman into an
embarrassing meeting?"
"Either they demonstrate some progress, change the agenda or the leaders don't meet."

I'm sorry, what was that last bit again?

"Either they demonstrate some progress, change the agenda or the leaders
don't meet."

Yes, that's what I thought you said.

And then there's Ron Covais. You remember Ron Covais, don't you?
President of Lockheed Martin Americas, former Pentagon adviser to Dick Cheney, chair of the North American Competitiveness Council and the not-so-secret-after-all Banff meeting, and the author of these happy remarks as reported in Macleans last year :

Ron Covais is in a hurry. Covais figures they've got less than two years of
political will to make it happen. That's when the Bush administration exits, and
"The clock will stop if the Harper minority government falls or a new government
is elected."

"The guidance from the ministers was, 'tell us what we need to do and we'll
make it happen."

This is how the future of North America now promises to be written: not in
a sweeping trade agreement on which elections will turn, but by the accretion of
hundreds of incremental changes implemented by executive agencies, bureaucracies
and regulators. "We've decided not to recommend any things that would require
legislative changes," says Covais. "Because we won't get anywhere."

Well Ron isn't too happy with the slow rate of progress either:

"We're asking for a status update" from top bureaucrats, he said. "By
mid-June, we have to have at least a sense of where we're at."

Or what, asshole? You'll withdraw your support for all that non-legislative change? Take water and oil off the agenda to punish us? Toss the keys to the kingdoms and go home? What exactly?

Luckily Canadian Council of Chief Executives chief quisling and NAU cheerleader Tom D'Aquino is right there to reassure Colonel Sanders that the Canadian chickens really really support whatever the hell it is the colonel wants this time :

"The view from Canada is that all the fretting is unnecessary, said Thomas
d'Aquino. "I would like to see more speed," but there's already been a lot of
movement, he said."

And he has a remedy :

"One problem, he said, is that the leaders haven't been out publicly
defending the SPP, "even though armies are working on it."
"We are urging our governments to do that."

Bring it, Tom. Bring it. We'd love to hear Harper defend being called to account by your US corporate buddies.

Bonus : If you click the Macleans link above for the Ron Covais quotes, you'll also find some bonus bitching from Dr. Ron Pastor, author of "Toward A North American Community" and member of the board of directors for the North American Forum on Integration, the group shilling the NAU to students.


H/T Mes Amis for the CP link
Cross-posted at The Galloping Beaver

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Canadian Coma


Remember when one of the objectives of the "Independent Task Force on the Future of North America" was to "launch an educational project to teach the idea of a shared NA identity in schools"?
That objective seems to be coming along rather nicely, thanks to The North American Forum on Integration, a Montreal-based non-profit promoting deep integration.

In April we had the 6th Student Organization of North America Conference:
Highlights of the Conference included : Embracing our North American Identity

And just wrapping up yesterday in Washington DC is another NAFI project, the 3rd Triumvirate, a North American Model Parliament for students from Canada, Mexico, and the US.

According to their website, their main objectives : "To develop their sense of a North American identity" and "To identify the elements of the North American agenda which would allow consolidation and reinforcement of the North American region".
This year's themes : creation of a customs union, water management, human trafficking and telecommunications.

Water management ?

The students for the mock parliament were divided into three groups : legislators, lobbyists, and journalists.
One of those student journalists was really doing her job. From her report regarding a resolution in which Canada would give up 10% of her customs duties in exchange for US 'protection' or access to Canadian resources:

Canadian Coma
An editorial by Eléonore Bernier-Hamel

The Canadian delegation of the Triumvirate in the Customs
Union
commission has been successfully exploited by the United
States and has
agreed to a very questionable proposition.

I went to see the Canadian delegates to ask them if they
were happy
with the resolution. I didn’t have a clue because
they remained silent during
the commission and they always
voted in the same way as the others.

The Americans made it clear at the beginning
of our commission: they
would ask either for significant monetary
contributions for enforced security
or for access to Canadian
natural resources. Canadians had accepted the
American’s
rules: they were ready to give up one or the other.

I could sense
the nervousness of the American delegates
and I tried to understand the nature
of their concern. I found out that they wanted
the resolution to be finalized as quickly
as possible because they were stunned by
the silence of the others, especially the Canadians,
and they were afraid to see them
waking up and refusing what appeared to
be unacceptable.

The press conference
on Thursday was framed as if the resolution had
been a
success for everyone.

I would have failed
my readers had I not reported this. As a
Canadian –Québécoise-
I am wondering why this country has to pay for the rude
attitude
of the US government towards the Middle-East and the
security
problem that comes from this. The Canadian government refuses
to
participate in the missile defence program as the American
government wished
after 9/11; why should Canada now accept
to finance a plan of national
security that covers the entire
territory of North America?

Go, Eleonore! You can read the rest of her report here.

Sounds just like life, isn't it?
Nice to see a little spunk from a student journalist in a mock parliament at a conference which, incidentally, included a former Canadian ambassador to the US, a conference whose only purpose is to promote the NAU.
Would be nice to see rather more of her particular spunk out here.


Note : I'm personally not against some eventual form of North American Union.
I just don't see how we can currently avoid it being, in Ann Coulter's happy phrase, "America rolling over and crushing Canada in her sleep".

(Cross-posted at The Galloping Beaver)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Operation Photo Op


aka Operation Enduring a Slump in the Polls
aka Operation "It's, I think, made them a better military notwithstanding — and maybe in some way because of — the casualties."
(cross-posted at The Galloping Beaver)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Looking at the world upside down


The Globe and Mail ran this picture of Harper looking at a map of Afghanistan upside down on its front page today.
So why isn't this funny in the way that photo of Bush looking through binoculars with the lens caps on was funny?
Because we understand the different rules in play here : it's a photo op, so naturally the map is facing us.

On last night's CBC TV coverage of Harper's visit to see the mayor of Kabul, this map was on an easel in a room empty but for all the other easels with maps and pictures on them. Standing in front of it was the head of Canada's International Development Agency for Afghanistan, and she took a question about one of the blue pins representing Canada's reconstruction efforts.
There are too many ongoing rebuilding projects, she said, for any one pin to represent a specific project.

So it's just a map with some pins stuck in it then.

The Star : .
I’m not here because of the polls. I’m here because it’s the right thing to do,” Harper said.
The prime minister tried to put a brighter face on the mission this morning as he visited the Aschiana school in the capital’s downtown, where 200 boys and girls attend classes.
“Why don’t we get a photo with the children,” Harper said, as he accepted roses proffered by a group of girls and boys."

Take it away, Thwap's Schoolyard :
"So, now you take this expensive trip, to prove what exactly? That you can fly in an airplane? That you can hand out pencils?
No, don't worry Harper. I've figured it out: We've spent $39,000 on this school. It's all part of our plan to reconstruct Afghanistan by paying one dollar out of every ten dollars we spend on Afganistan on initiatives that provide you with cynical, "heartwarming" photo-ops, while we spend nine dollars out of ten continuing to blast the country to pieces."

Thank you, Thwap. I think that just about covers it.

(cross-posted at The Galloping Beaver)
Photo credit : Tom Hanson/CP

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Amero....again.

Globe&Mail :
"Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge says North America could one day embrace a euro-style single currency. (snip)
The idea of a common currency has long been a subject of curiosity, particularly among Canadian academics, who see it as a way to escape sharp gyrations in the exchange rate.(snip)
Some proponents have dubbed the single North American currency the “amero.”
It is more likely, however, that a common currency would mean that Canada and Mexico would adopt the U.S. dollar, giving up significant economic control to a central bank dominated by the United States."

In 1999, former Alliance MP Herb Grubal wrote a paper for the Fraser Institute entitled The Case For the Amero : The Economics and Politics of a North American Monetary Union.

In it he describes how in March of 1999, Reform Party members Rob Anders, Rahim Jaffer and Jason Kenney
"spearheaded a debate in parliament over the issue of monetary union for North America. In the process, they asked the Prime Minister to form a committee of parliament to study the subject."

Well, so much for "being a subject of curiosity, particularly among academics".
Interesting how far back the public record on this idea goes among the gnugovs, although they do say they were expecting "some resistance".

In endnote #39 to The Case For the Amero, Grubal notes : "Resistance to the amero will be lessened by continuing to call it officially a "dollar" in the United States and Canada."

Oh come on now, Reformers, you know you really want to call it the "The Almighty Dollar" - after, you know, "Him".
However, given the current US trade deficit with China, a very good reason among many other very good reasons for Canada not to consider this idea at all, they might have to settle for the "Almighty Yen".

(crossposted at The Galloping Beaver)

Malalai Joya ousted


Malalai Joya has been suspended from the lower house of the Afghan parliament.

Not for calling for war crimes trials against both the Taliban and our allies, the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan, which the western media prefers to call the Northern Alliance.

Not for referring to Karzai as a U.S. puppet and her fellow MPs as drug lords and war criminals, specifically the vice president, named by Human Rights Watch as a war criminal; the minister of water and power; the anti-corruption chief, a convicted drug trafficker who served time in a Nevada state prison; the deputy interior minister in charge of the anti-drug effort, a famous drug-trafficker; the chief of staff of the Afghan army, also named by Human Rights Watch as a war criminal; and various senators and advisors to Hamid Karzai.

Not for speaking out against the increasing violence towards women and children as perpetrated by the Afghan state.

Not for her speaking engagements abroad, in which she argues that "Afghans are deeply fed-up with the current situation and every day that passes they turn against the government, the foreign troops and the warlords, and the Taliban make use of this resentment to increase their influence amongst the commom people."

Not even for calling the US-installed Afghan government a "B52 democracy".

No, Malalai Joya has been ousted for referring to parliament on national television as "a zoo", or in some other translations, as "a stable of animals".

That, apparently, was just too much for them.

On her return to Afghanistan after visiting Canada in September last year, Joya was at pains to explain to her countrymen that support for the US invasion of Afghanistan was not the fault of the Canadian and American people.
"I didn't realize how much they don't know," she said. "Their government lies to them, and the media."
.
(cross-posted at The Galloping Beaver)

Monday, May 21, 2007

I wonder if the CRTC have really thought this one through.

You come home from the daily grind and kick back with a glass of something or other in front of the tube.

First up there's that irritating European guy in the weirdly pseudo-modern suit striding purposefully back and forth in front of skyscrapers dispensing vigorous advice about your "stock portfolio". And that lovable pair of SUV owners are still ploughing their pride and joy through remote mountain streams to the admiring glances of the local wildlife. "Some stories we're following..." Some sort of disposable mop. "Always" - now there's a happy thought - and we're back to the irritating European guy again.

The CRTC are increasing the currently allowed 12 minutes of advertising per hour to 14 minutes as of Sept 1, 15 minutes the year after, and finally in the spring of 2008, all advertising time restrictions will be lifted.

Reuters : "The CRTC said that the move from the current 12 minutes- per-hour primetime advertising limit to a completely market-driven model aims to give broadcasters additional revenue to deal with increasing competition from cable channels, new media and other emerging digital platforms."
"The commission considers it essential that broadcasters have the flexibility to maximize advertising revenues to respond to the negative impact of audience fragmentation," the regulator said in a statement."

Click.

(cross-posted at The Galloping Beaver)

Flickering moments

Sometimes we are just lost in the rain

With no idea where on earth we are heading

And it is at times like these

That we say to ourselves

Gosh, I think I'll upload some pix onto Flickr and have myself a slide show right here on the underside of my umbrella.



Apparently.

GPS navigator, web browser, and Google maps included.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Steve and Sandra motivate their troops



What? You never wondered what might be playing on some of those little earpieces that everyone's wearing in Question Period ?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Six days in a leaky boat

Seems like we may have ourselves a Tory whistleblower or two.

One : Baird's long-awaited environment initiative speech is mistakenly sent to the fax machine in the Liberal's lobby two days before he is due to make it public.

Two : An office temp allegedly leaks the framework of upcoming environment legislation to the media.

Three : Ministers' photo ops, green policy price tags, and itineraries for the next few months are leaked to the media.

Four : The Con's secret dirty tricks manual, aka Chaos For Dummies, is leaked to Don Martin at the National Post.

Five : Someone leaks to Canada Press that the government has "ordered all committee chairs to return their copies of the [dirty tricks] handbook, apparently in a bid to determine who broke confidence."

Some are predicting that Steve will shut down the HoC till fall, before anything else spills out.
Hey, it worked for BC Premier Gordon Campbell.

H/T Scott Tribe

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Conservative Guide To Chaos

Don Martin, National Post : "A secret guidebook that details how to unleash chaos while chairing parliamentary committees has been given to select Tory MPs.
Running some 200 pages including background material, the document - given only to Conservative chairmen - tells them how to favour government agendas, select party-friendly witnesses, coach favourable testimony, set in motion debate-obstructing delays and, if necessary, storm out of meetings to grind parliamentary business to a halt. "
The guide says a "disruptive" committee should be adjourned by the chairman on short notice. "Such authority is solely in the discretion of the chair. No debate, no appeal possible."

Well, that certainly explains recent events, doesn't it?
Ditto - talking for six hours on transparency in an effort to prevent evidence being given that government knew of mistreatment of detainees, and not showing up at all to hear witnesses on the committee for the Court Challenges Act.

"A source at that meeting confided that [government whip] Mr. [Jay] Hill "lavished praise on the chairs who caused disruptions and admonished those who prefer to lead through consensus".

Wow. Admonished those who prefer to lead through consensus.
You can read the rest of Chaos For Dummies here : When to be naughty, when to be nice.
Hill's defence : "Canadians elected a Conservative minority government, not a coalition of opposition parties."

See, that's where you're dead wrong, Mr Hill - because that's exactly what we elected.

The Cons - Getting Fuck All Done For Canada.

FRIDAY UPDATE : More blog reaction :
Canadian Cynic - Learning well from their Republican overlords
Red Tory - Puppets Who Shill
Far and Wide - Harper : It's Not Our Fault
Galloping Beaver - Conservative Guidebook on Unleashing Chaos
Montreal Simon - Stephen Harper and the House of Monkeys

SPP : Sodding Parliamentary Perfidy

As you know, Professor Gordon Laxer's testimony before the trade committee on the SPP was disrupted by International Trade Chair Leon Benoit's procedural meltdown last Friday. Benoit adjourned the meeting, stomping out with the three other Con committee members in tow, after which Laxer finished his presentation.
At a subsequent meeting the committee voted six to four (guess which ones!) to include Laxer's testimony in the record and here it is :

Presentation on the SPP to the International Trade Committee
Gordon Laxer May 10, 2007

For all you non-clickers out there, here's a couple of choice bits:

"NAFTA's proportionality clause : You won't convince Canadians to cut fossil fuel use, as we must, if it means that whatever we save is exported to the U.S., the proportional requirement rises, and tarsands carbon emissions remain unchanged."

"We import about 40% of our oil, 850,000 barrels a day - to meet 90% of Atlantic Canada and Quebec's needs, and 40% of Ontario's. A rising share, 45% comes from OPEC countries, primarily Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. Imports from North Sea suppliers - Norway and Britain - are shrinking (37%)."

"Western Canada can't supply all of eastern Canada's needs, because NAFTA reserves Canadian oil for Americans' security of supply. Canada now exports 63% of our oil and 56% of our natural gas production. Those export shares are currently locked in place by NAFTA's proportionality clause, which requires us not to reduce recent export proportions. Mexico refused proportionality. It only applies to Canada."

I know. It all sounds pretty grim.
But at least SPP will now get a public airing in the House of sodding Commons.
For their part, the Cons are now saying it never has been a secret.

UPDATE : Decent edi in yesterday's Embassy Mag

Canadian-content stripper con


Immigration Minister Diane Finley : "The previous Liberal government gave blanket exemptions to foreign strippers to work in Canada," Finley told the House of Commons.
"(This was) despite warnings that they were vulnerable to forced prostitution and other exploitation. . . Thanks to (this legislation), the good old days of Liberal Strippergate will be a thing of the past."

Leaving aside forever the obvious point of this legislation being to slag the Libs while simultaneously sucking up to the thickest of their base that they are somehow banning both sex and foreigners, let's hear from someone who, unlike the Imm Min, actually knows something about it.

The thoughts and opinions of a former call girl gone activist, Wendy :
"All this legislation will do is consign trafficked women to the most unregulated market of all – the underground market.
By shifting from regulation to restriction the Conservative government is no longer going to be viewing trafficked women as victims but rather they will be viewed as illegal immigrants and as prostitutes, meaning that the trafficked woman will be criminalized, go to jail and most likely deported. This means that if a women is a victim of abuse she will be less likely to report her abuser due to fear of being criminalized.
And although employers and agents who employ foreign strippers will also be breaking the law, it is the women who will be at a greater risk since it is easier to deport illegal migrants than to successfully prosecute club owners or agents under criminal or immigration legislation."

H/T Anon reader

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Harper Index - No Free Luntz!


The Harper Index

This looks interesting - A new website with three objectives :
1) Daily and background info on Steve's shenanigans
2) A place to discuss and analyze Steve & Co spin
3) A resource on how to reframe language and issues to counteract that spin.

A lot of us on the Left resist #3, the reframing of The Message, seeing it as a violation of language.
Two minutes of listening to the right chanting "Support the troops" or "Right to life" with that unblinking useful-idiot insect-mind they have acquired from the Republican hive to the south, and we look down our progressive noses and march off to the beat of our various different drummers. No hucksters, us!

But then we continue to use the Right's carefully crafted phrases and ideas in argument, just to make ourselves understood, mind you, and wind up fighting them on their turf with their choice of verbal weapon, reinforcing their message even as we argue to refute it.

Admittedly many of the rather defensive attempts to reframe language to better represent ideals of the common good have been pretty clunky so far.
I don't see "investors' rights agreement" replacing "free trade agreement" in common parlance any time soon, even though it is vastly more accurate.

Ah, but when it does work!
"Global warming" was so successful at knocking out "climate change" that now even when people say "climate change", they usually mean "global warming".
Remember when you realized that "pro-choice" was a much better description of your actual position than "pro-abortion"? So much more accurate in fact that "pro-abortion" is now merely a signpost meaning "Warning - fetus fetishist ahead". We own that frame; it's our home turf now.
And someone had to think it up.

Anyway there's my pitch. Push back.
It's a new site, they're looking for submissions, and who knows - maybe you'll be the one who can bury one of these awful Rightist slogans - Clean Air Act, decentralization of government, free market, Canadian born, Security and Prosperity Partnership, energy exploration, tax relief, death tax, accountability, tough on crime, What would Hitler do?

OK, I threw that last one in just to see if you were paying attention.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Canadian Fire Sale


600 Canadian companies gone to foreign ownership since the start of 2006
Did you notice last week that Don Drummond of TD Bank and Jack Mintz formerly of CD Howe both used the following exact same phrase within days of each other, on CBC TV's News Hour and CBC Radio News respectively, to allay concerns about the fire sale of Canadian companies to foreign ownership?
"The real story of the past 10 years is that Canada is hollowing out business in other countries."

I thought it an odd coincidence at the time - ok, what now? - but today David Olive at The Star refutes the factual basis behind their claim :

"The Statscan figures cited by Drummond are out of date, stopping at 2005, just as the manic buying of Canadian assets in 2006-07 was getting underway. The number of takeovers back and forth is a red herring. What matters is their total value. And in 2005-06, the world bought $66 billion more of us than we bought of the world."

I have argued in more detail previously that Canada has both the means and money to protect Canadian companies from foreign takeover.
The means : Investment Canada's mandate requires that sales to foreign owners be "of net benefit to Canada".
The money : Canada Pension Fund has $1.3 trillion of our money, our money, that it is currently pumping into crap like this, instead of investing it in Canada's future, our future.

OK, so what are we missing? The political will apparently.

Harper made a few peeps this year about not selling Canadian companies to any of the countries on the US shit list. Has he invoked the Investment Canada mandate towards achieving even that meager goal? No, he has not.

By the time you have even the CCCE free marketeers expressing alarm, and Canadian boards of directors weeping at takeovers they are powerless to prevent, and Preston How-soon-can-we-join-the-US? Manning saying things like :

"If you don't want bin Laden fiddling with Quebec hydro lines or Beijing controlling the oilpatch, there should be national-security provisions in the approval process to protect our values and objectives",
In other words, by the time you have free marketeers begging for government intervention in the form of regulation of the marketplace....
well then, Steve, it's probably time to let go of the disastrous free marketeer ideology of your youth and do some of that Standing Up For Canada.

Now, can someone please explain to me the significance of that Drummond and Mintz dual messaging?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

This week in Con accountability #2

Monday : Alberta oilsands only Canadian industry allowed to increase smog and GHG pollution

Tuesday : Canada one of only three nations out of 24 to support Wolfowitz at World Bank

Wednesday : Canada lowers pesticide standards to match those of US ; our standards were a "trade irritant"

Thursday : Con MP talks for three hours in attempt to prevent inquiry into why documents showing government knew about mistreatment of Afghan detainees were censored.

Friday : Steve pretends that thinking he's a dick is somehow not supporting the troops.

Saturday : Cancelling the Court Challenges program violated the Official Languages Act.

Bonus : Government of Canada logo prominently featured on sign at fetus fetish rally on the Hill.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Spazzing out on the SPP

Leon Benoit's little hissy fit yesterday at the parliamentary hearings on SPP deep integration has already been deftly covered by Dave and 1337hax0r and The Jurist.

Chair of the Standing Committee on International Trade Leon Benoit attempted to silence an expert witness about the consequences of guaranteeing unlimited energy supplies to the U.S, lost the vote on allowing the witness to proceed, and so promptly adjourned the hearing and stomped out, followed by three other Cons.

Quel friggin surprise.
Here is how Con/Alliance/Reform MP Committee Chair Benoit opened the hearings on SPP deep integration on April 26, 2007 : (bold mine)

"Good morning, everyone.

We're here today pursuant to Standing Order 108(2). The House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade is undertaking a study examining the opportunities and challenges Canadian businesses face with respect to the Canada-U.S. relationship.

The committee is specifically interested in identifying and removing the obstacles that stand in the way of stronger economic ties with the U.S. and answering the question of what the Government of Canada can do to help Canadian businesses take better advantage of trade, investment, and business opportunities."

So you can see how invited witness Prof John Laxer explaining that we have no laws to protect ourselves against freezing in the dark should the US so demand might put a little crimp in his agenda.

The hearings continued without Benoit and I will be interested to see if the gnugovs credit and publish in Hansard what discussion ensued after the departure of his sorry ass. I'll let you know. (Only three committee members are required to be present in order to hear testimony.) For some unimaginable reason they are lagging about three meetings behind on publishing the SPP committee notes.

Happily, NDP MP Peter Julian is on the committee and provides transcripts from May1 and May3 here at Vive le Canada.

Here's a taste from one witness, Prof Michael Hart, Carleton University :
" We have to build a higher level of concern in Washington at the highest levels that the continued health and prosperity of the North American economy means that we must deal with the border differently. That means a willingness on our part to, for example, strengthen the perimeter around North America in order to deal with security issues that are uppermost in American minds: it should also be of concern to us. Similarly, we need to be prepared to sit down with the Americans and be good partners.

I think over the last 10 or so years we have not been as good a partner as we might have been, raising suspicion in Washington as to whether or not we would continue to be the kind of partner they're looking for. In the end, these are political choices. You make the political choices and you reap the results.

We have made a political choice that we wanted a more deeply integrated North American economy. We have benefited greatly from that, despite what some of the witnesses are saying. We must now decide whether we want to make that work, or do we want to put various kinds of obstacles in its way, including allowing the Americans to build up the security framework they're pursuing."


When you read all three days of testimony, you find a lot of that from the various witnesses with business interests. They worry that US concerns with border security will countermand their access to US markets. They feel the urgency to get Canada inside the North American fortress before the US security drawbridge goes up. To this end, they expect the rest of us to go along, to push or at least allow the Canadian government to appease the US in whatever the US wants : oil, ballistic missile umbrella, whatever it takes. They are not too keen to discuss the things that must be traded away to achieve this. It's a very narrow view, far too narrow to represent Canada.
We cannot allow them to represent us.

Thank you, Peter Julian, for opening this up to public debate, and to Maud Barlow for your testimony on our behalf.

Correction : That would be University of Alberta Prof. Gordon Laxer, testifying on behalf of the Parkland Institute, who caused Benoit to spaz out. We'll get his presentation as soon as Julian posts it to Vive.

UPDATE : The real reason for Benoit's hissy fit? Dave nails it.

UPDATE 2 : Lib MP Mark Holland was at this meeting. A BCer in TO provides Holland's facebook account of the events.

UPDATE 3 : The committee voted 6 to 4 to include the rest of the nearly derailed testimony on the record. Next stop - the floor of the HoC and better media coverage. Finally.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Steve and Sandra - In the Year 2025


Relentlessly Progressive Economics :
"The Harper plan is for a 20% reduction by 2020, and will be 13 years late in meeting the Kyoto targets (6% below 1990 levels by 2025). The 18% number is an intensity-based reduction – that is, per unit of output – not a total decrease.
For what it is worth, the intensity of Canada’s CO2 emissions fell by 13% between 1990 and 2005, according to Environment Canada. This was a time when our actual emissions went up by 24%."

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Cartoon Ethics


Go on - click it.

Ottawonk provides us with this, um, refreshingly simple example of cartoon ethics right off the government's Public Service Human Resources Management Agency website.
Uh huh, it really is a cartoon extolling the public service employee's obligation of whistleblowing.
And just in case said public service employees are unable to grasp the cartoon in all its mindblowingly awesome simplicity, the Office of Public Service Values and Ethics also provides a little transcript of it as well.
Here at Creekside, we would like to make one or two small adjustments to that transcript, in keeping with the Con gnogov's recent record on whistleblowing :
Panel 1 : An Environment Canada employee sees John Baird virtually stealing money for Alberta's oil industry in his upcoming Environment Canada legislation.
Panel 2 : Yo, public service employee! People should know about this! Do da right thing!
Panel 3 : Lulu looks on as the hapless Environment Canada employee is persuaded to reveal Baird's regulatory shenanigans to the Canadian press and public, here rather aptly represented by a somewhat small and insignificant-looking figure way off in the background.
Panel 4 : Not shown. Hapless Environment Canada employee led off in handcuffs by the RCMP.
Our new transcript more accurately reflects the experience of Can Enviro employee X, arrested and handcuffed at his Environment Canada desk for his act of whistleblowing. He was released a couple of hours later without charges, presumably because he had not broken any laws.

We eagerly look forward to the government's next "Window on Values and Ethics" cartoon and strongly suggest it should be about employee intimidation. They could include this handy reaction to the day's events from John Baird, as caught by1337 hax0r :

“The arrest is a signal to other government employees that future leaks of information won't be tolerated," suggests Environment Minister John Baird.”

Conservatoon ethics.
UPDATE : CBC : The EnviroCan employee is Jeff Monaghan, news reader temp at EC, member of a collective that recently opened an anarchist bookstore in Ottawa, and the drummer in a punk band :

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

SPP : Securing Prosperity for the Plutocracy

You just gotta love The Fraser Institute.
In their ironically named new report, "International Leadership by a Canada Strong and Free", The Fraser Institute attempts to do for Canada/US deep integration what Last Tango in Paris did for ass-fucking : make it acceptable.

The main thrust of their argument is that Canada should become the world's leading proponent of free trade by boldly throwing open our economy and resources to the US. They explain that the other countries aren't really worth bothering with.

Some exact quotes from the first 75 pages of this fawning lubricant, written by Fraser Institute Senior Fellows Mike Harris, ex-premier of Ontario, and Preston Manning, formerly of the Alliance/Reform Party :

~ Deepening integration with the US economy must be on the agenda as the best way for Canadians to increase our trade, prosperity, and leadership potential.

~For Canada, Mexico’s presence at the NAFTA table is no reason to avoid action on our urgent national interest in pursuing a formal structure to manage irreversible economic and security integration with the United States.

~The 2005 Security and Prosperity Initiative adopted by Prime Minister Martin and President Bush and confirmed by the Harper government a year later laid a promising foundation. Both governments now receive regular status reports on its implementation. The earlier Smart Border Accord gave security and access to the United States a higher priority than before September 11. Both, however, operate within existing laws and policies and are therefore limited in scope. Extracting the full benefit of deeper integration requires a more ambitious initiative.

~ The federal government should revisit the decision not to participate in the Ballistic Missile Defence program

~The central importance of good US-Canada relations to Canada’s interests across virtually every domestic and international issue requires that the federal government make that relationship its highest international priority.

~ In order to facilitate the integrated coordination of their two economies, the two governments need to create a customs union involving a common external tariff, a joint approach to the treatment of third-country goods, a fully integrated energy market, a common approach to trade remedies, and an integrated government procurement regime.

~Government has no place in the decision-making of Canadian consumers, importers, or exporters.

~The tradition of subordinating bilateral cooperation with the United States to the broader North Atlantic Alliance is no longer sustainable.

~If Canadians wish to contribute to global peace and security they can only do so effectively as partners with the United States.

~There is much to be said for Canada and the United States developing a North American energy security accord that looks at the best way to develop and distribute the continent’s resources to the benefit of people on both sides of the border.

Please feel free to make liberal use of the above exact quotes in your letters and phone calls to CBC the next time they interview anyone from The Fraser Institute as an expert on free trade or Canada/US relations.
Probably best not to mention the ass-fucking though.

Monday, May 07, 2007

How long will Canada put up with this?

G&M : When does an Afghan become a detainee?
" The Defence Department's latest statement about an Afghan man whose mistreatment by local police caused an uproar in Parliament last week has done little to clarify the incident, according to critics of Canadian detainee policies - and may also expose gaps in the newest agreement on the treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan."

I thought we settled this already.
The Afghan people are "insurgents" until such time as they are killed or handed over to Afghan authorities to be tortured, at which point they become "scumbags", terrorists, and Taliban.
How many times do we have to go over this?

And about those "gaps in the newest agreement on the treatment of prosoners" :

Eric Margolis, Toronto Sun :
"How did Canada, one of the world's most respected, law-abiding nations, become a party to the torture of prisoners in Afghanistan and a violator of the Geneva Conventions?
The story begins in 1979, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.
The Soviet KGB created a mirror-image secret police for its Afghan puppet government, KhAD.
CRUELTIES
KhAD sought to eradicate all opposition to the Communists. It also ran the education system and religious establishment. KhAD quickly became notorious, even in a famously brutal society, for its cruelties.
All political prisoners -- that is, anyone who opposed the Communists -- were subjected to systematic tortures. These ranged from garden variety beatings, pulling of fingernails, near-drowning and electric shocks to more refined cruelties.
Prisoners were flayed alive, thrown into vats of sulphuric acid, blinded, buried alive, burned with gasoline, or slowly frozen in refrigerated rooms."

Ok I'm going to skip some of this part.

"The Communists killed two million Afghans.
After the Soviets withdrew in 1989, the newborn Taliban movement drove the remaining Afghan Communists -- rebranded the Northern Alliance -- into the far northeast.
U.S. INVASION
In 2001, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, allied itself to the Northern Alliance, and overthrew the Taliban. A figurehead, Hamid Karzai, was put in power. Real power, however, was held by the Communist-dominated Northern Alliance.
Once the Northern Alliance took Kabul, the KhAD, rechristened NDS, was quickly re-established. The old Communist torturers and war criminals went back into business.
Today, an estimated 60% of NDS personnel are former KhAD agents. Canadian and U.S. forces fighting to pacify southern Afghanistan have been routinely handing captives and suspects over to the NDS secret police -- in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions.
This dirty secret was finally exposed to Canadians by a major Globe and Mail investigation.
It exposed Ottawa's childish claims of having assurances from the Afghan Communist secret police -- which had murdered or maimed tens of thousands of victims -- to treat prisoners humanely."

Malalai Joya, Afghan MP, speaking at McGill in Canada, back in Sept 2006:
Malalai Joya is famous worldwide for standing up during the Constitutional Loya Jirga and speaking out against appointing fundamentalist warlords to head planning groups. The men, Joya told the assembly, should be tried for their crimes and violations of human rights instead of being appointed to positions of power.
"Human Rights Watch has reported that "up to 60%" of deputies in Afghanistan's lower house are "directly or indirectly connected to current and past human rights abuses."
"All justice-loving people are calling for trials for the warlords," she said, noting that the Karzai administration--with US approval--"promotes war criminals to higher posts," most recently the police force. The majority of seats in Afghanistan's parliament are occupied by "some kind of warlord," who is "doing crimes under the name of Islam."
"We can start right now, taking power away from the warlords. Instead, they give them more power."

But the problem of the warlords, Joya suggests, comes from abroad.
"Countries like the US have their own strategic policies in Afghanistan ... As long as [they] support the Northern Alliance with the mask of democracy, there will never be improvements in Afghanistan."
"Canada must have its own policies in Afghanistan, and stop supporting fundamentalist warlords."

Back to Margolis :
"Ottawa's deal this week with Kabul for inspection of NDS prisoners is a sham. The KhAD had the same empty "agreement" with human rights groups in the 1980s.
It's bad enough Canada's troops are defending Afghanistan's warlords who run its booming heroin industry. Now Ottawa is hand in glove with the Communist Party's veteran torturers. Well done, Ottawa."

H/T Holly Stick for Margolis link.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Eats suits and leaves

A Mexican MP speaking at one of the recent Integrate This! workshops explained it took the leftie parties of Mexico 20 years to hammer out a coalition for those policies on which they could all agree -the environment, workers' rights etc, while still maintaining a strong adversarial stance on those policies where they don't.
It was, he said, very difficult. It seemed all but impossible until they were forced to acknowledge it was the only way to get anything progressive accomplished. He stressed that the coalition only eventually succeeded after the three parties' leadership realized the grassroots must be included on the ground floor of the deal from the outset.

Up here the closest we get to what the Mexican MP is suggesting is strategic voting. This usually, usually mind you, only consists of voting for the Libs after being inundated with three days of their commercials prior to federal election voting day warning that they are the only ones capable of keeping the dreaded Cons at bay .

So what would it take, given our ridiculously antiquated first-past-the-post voting system, to get ahead of that particular ball prior to the next election?

Accidental Deliberations recently had a post up considering the principles under which centre-to-left party cooperation might be possible in order to beat the Cons. Now, in From Principle To Practice, AD begins outlining the conditions necessary to make such a deal work.
Give it a look. Leave your suggestions. Ready or not, we're the grassroots.

It's quite likely that the environment and our subbing for US imperialist adventures will both go sideways regardless of what we do now. But in twenty years time an excuse like "I couldn't abandon my unwavering allegience to my Lib or NDP or Green bit of turf" is unlikely to be seen as an acceptable reason for having failed to rise to the challenge of doing just that, and starting as soon as possible.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Spin Doctors Without Borders

CathiefromCanada is furious with Canadian Press for publishing, without comment, a report critical of Vancouver's safe drug injection site written by a group who opposed Insite even before it opened its doors.
As Cathie points out, the CP headline "New report suggests Vancouver's safe-injection site a failure" gives undeserved credibility to what is basically ideological tripe.

The Drug Prevention Network of Canada is an offshoot of , wait for it , the Drug Prevention Network of America. It is headed up by Calvina L. Fay of Drug Free America, Save Our Society From Drugs, and Drug Watch International, dedicated to "combating the drug legalization movement globally".
An advisor to Bush on drug policy issues, you may have heard her on the news recently proselytising against the medical use of marijuana for cancer patients. Yeah! - War on drugs!

But let's have a look at the Board of Directors for the Canadian branch of DPNC :
~ Randy White - Reform and Alliance Party MP for 12 years, right up until he went public with the idea of using the "notwithstanding clause" to prevent the passage of SSM and that was the end of him - too hot for Harper.
~ Gwen Landolt - VP of REAL Women of Canada. Thanks for all your fine work fighting Status of Women Canada. I especially liked your argument that shelters for battered women are discriminatory because there aren't comparable shelters for battered men.
~ a couple of graduates from the Scientology Narconon Program, now working as drug counsellors...

OK, that's enough of that - you get the idea.
Rather than writing and commissioning social policy, these people should be stranded on a desert island until they have properly mastered the art of playing a conch.

Well, this is awkward...

A member of the Green Party of Nova Scotia intends to run as an independent against Green Party of Canada candidate Elizabeth May in Central Nova.
Sebastian Ronin is protesting May's trampling of local electoral rights for the greater good, or, as he puts it in a letter to his local paper : "treating the Canadian electoral map like a shoe store."

"Let’s not forget that if the national Liberals had their way they would be passing legislation, with accompanying monstrous bureaucracies, to accompany Canadians to the bathroom. If you think the rifle registration was a colossal boondoggle, wait until environmental initiatives come along, irrespective of the federal political party sponsoring such initiatives."

May is now in the awkward position of having to support his right to be included in local debates, much as she herself has claimed the right to be included in the federal debates.

H/T Maxwell's House
UPDATE: Mr Ronin responds to Devin at the Maxwell's House link above.
Red Tory, in his own supercilious way, is rather more sympathetic to his candidacy.
Fot the hardcore : Two threads at Babble on Central Nova.
The uneasy coalition between the right and left factions of the Green Party - this is going to be interesting.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Hitlertude in the House!


In response to Elizabeth May comparing Con environment policy to Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of the Nazis, Harper told the House about : :
" a copy of a letter I received from Ed Morgan, the national president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, noting that[ ] Elizabeth May has diminished the Holocaust, used the Nazi analogy that is demagogic and inappropriate, while belittling Canadians of faith.
I think the Leader of the Opposition should be able to say that he believes that diminishing the Holocaust and using Nazi analogies are inappropriate."
Why, it seems like only yesterday that Jason Kenney addressed Congregation Beth Israel Beth Aaron, accusing "genocidal" Iran of seeking "a final solution, in a perverted twist on history, that would complete the work Hitler began."
Defending Kenney, Stockwell Day explained that comparing Hezbollah to the Nazis — as his caucus colleague Jason Kenney did this month (Sept 2006) — was a "straight historic analogy."
So there ya go. Analogies invoking Chamberlain are "demogogic, inappropriate, and belittle the Holocaust and Canadians of faith", but if you go straight for the Hitler, you've got yourself a "historic analogy".
Hansard link via Steve at Far and Wide, who lays into the disingenuous poo flinging that is Question Period.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Stockwell Day on torturing prisoners

"People like myself say, Fix the problem. Put him in the general [prison] population. The moral prisoners will deal with him in a way we don't have the nerve to do."

~ Stockwell Day on why serial child-murderer Clifford Olson should serve his life sentence in the general prison population.

That's from Holly Stick in the comments, who adds : "I have the feeling Day doesn't have a problem with the torture of prisoners."

Stockboy has a whole nuther version for us today : He did hear allegations about the torture of two prisoners from his corrections people in Afghanistan after all but, ya know, who knows where or when.
Stay tuned later today when he tells the House a friend of a friend met some guy called Vinnie in a bar and everything is gonna be fine now.

Quote link : In Their Own Words

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