Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Scotty, we need more power!

Financial Post : "Jim Prentice, the federal Industry Minister, says governments and business leaders in North America must do a better job of selling the virtues of closer economic and security links among the three countries.
In a speech Tuesday to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, he said there is an urgent need to "demystify" the push to closer ties among Canada, the United States and Mexico, as outlined in the Security and Prosperity Partnership launched in March of 2005."

Gosh, Jim, they're doing their level best :

Stephen Harper : "Is the sovereignty of Canada going to fall apart if we standardize the jelly bean? You know, I don't think so."
John Kirton, U of T expert in the environmental effects of free trade :
"For example, Canada's rules on the nutritional content of cornflakes are slightly different from those in the U.S. So many Canadians drive across the border every day, and sometimes they eat American cornflakes. None of them have died."

Jim, the spin engines are on overload - they cannae take the strain, Captain !

You know, Jim, until such time as you guys expand your jelly beans and cornflakes statements to include stuff like the no-fly lists, harmonizing pesticide regs, food and drug standards, water sovereignty, four-fold increase in tarsands production, single perimeter military policy, environmental protection, the FBI operating in Canada, the sell-off of Canadian corporations, stuff like that - then "demystifying" the SPP by "selling the virtues" to us will just be more of the same fucking.crock.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Everything was going just swimmingly until...

Non-violence best answer, Dalai Lama says

"Avoiding violence in places like Afghanistan and Iraq is the best way to counter the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Dalai Lama said before meeting the prime minister in Ottawa on Monday.
Speaking on the second day of his visit to Canada, the spiritual leader of Tibet said he would tell Stephen Harper, if the subject were to come up, that “using violence to counter violence” can exacerbate problems.

“I always believe non-violence is the best way to solve problems,” he said in response to reporters' questions about Canada's role in Afghanistan.

A clearly uncomfortable Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney stood close by, trying to interrupt without success and tugging at the holy man's elbow."

Tugging at the holy man's elbow? That's really classy, Jason.
Regular readers will recall Jason came this close to winning the coverted Certificate of Hitlertude just this past February.

Portraits of America

U.S. annexes Canadian landmark in tourism video
A Disney promo video highlighting "majestic American landscapes" features the Horseshoe Falls, a portion of the Niagara Falls found entirely within Canada, instead of the two falls on the American side of the border.
The vid was released by the US State Dept and Homeland Security to be shown at airports and US embassies abroad.
Disney chair Jay Rasulo "speaks over the falls footage about the importance of showing would-be tourists "the great sites, the great vistas that they dream about all their lives when they dream about America."
Two things :
1) We should be grateful they didn't include the mounties, and
2) Looking at the promotion poster for "Portraits of America", I'm not sure it was advisable to include a picture of what appears to be a white guy wearing a black man for a hat.
Just sayin'.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Hillier's ten years

The Star Oct 25 : 10 more years for Afghan security, says Hillier

Huge stink. Why? Because here in Canada we choose to forget this is an American war.

CBS News Oct 7 : "Six years after the first U.S. bombs began falling on Afghanistan's Taliban government and its al Qaeda guests, America is planning for a long stay. Originally envisioned as a temporary home for invading U.S. forces, the sprawling American base at Bagram, a former Soviet outpost in the shadow of the towering Hindu Kush mountains, is growing in size by nearly a third."
U.S. Army Col. Jonathan Ives : "Our commitment to them is really saying we will be here until you have the security and stability that allows you to be a developing country on your own, and if that's 10 years then it's 10 years."

So there you have it : Hillier's ten years.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

There were tens of us...

I hate protest rallies.
I hate the boring repetitive speeches, the completely off-topic signs from supporters of other causes, the waiting, the not high enough numbers, and the songs dear god the songs!

But I'm going.
After I wrote something about Afghanistan a couple of years ago, I got a message from RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan - not a personal message, a reprinted one I think. It died with my old pooter but this is the part I remember :
"Thank you for your interest in our country and our fight for freedom.
Last week we held a protest outside the Ministry of Vice and Virtue.
There were tens of us. We are hopeful."
It was that "There were tens of us. We are hopeful."
I have to go every time now.
We can do it with hope.
We can do it without hope.
It only matters that we do it.

Steve and Sandra - I am so the boss of you

Steve says 2011 in the throne speech.
Hillier says :"Afghanistan's army could need 10 years before it's in a position to fend for itself."
Dave says : "If anyone knows what it takes to train an army, it's Sandra Buckler."

In his non-retraction retraction, Hillier says : "I'm very clear on where the direction comes from. … We're on exactly the same page and I believe actually we see things exactly the same way."
He doesn't scale back to 2011; instead he implies that Harper also knows it will take another decade.
So either the war on Afghanistan is a bad idea and the sooner we get out the better, or the reconstruction is a good idea and we should stay till it's done. Picking the date 2011 merely fulfills our duty to NATO and has fuck all to do with what's good for Afghanistan.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Harper chooses gay superhero to be new symbol of Canada

Harper is going to take a certain amount of flack for choosing a gay francophone superhero from X-Men to be the new symbol of Canadian, uh, pride, but personally I think it's just terribly terribly bold of him.

G&M : "In a new bid to foster national pride and confidence in its leadership, the Stephen Harper government is urging Canadians to look up, look way up.
As the Conservatives search for a more inspirational way to deliver their message and replace the worn-out catchphrase "Canada's New Government," the lobbyists and strategists who deliver the government line were told after last week's Throne Speech to make use of a reference to the North Star that showed up toward the end of the speech.

"To help you effectively communicate with your local media, as well as your constituents, we have included general messaging on the Speech from the Throne," says a PMO memo obtained by The Globe and Mail.
Among the elements of the Throne Speech that the memo urges them to highlight, the first is this lyrical passage: "Like the North Star, Canada has been a guide to other nations..."

The memo does not say specifically how the strategists should use the reference."

Oh come on, strategists, how tough is that?
According to wikipedia, NorthStar is a Quebecois superhero who first joins the Front de Libération du Québec to gain Quebec independence but soon sees the error of his ways and renounces terrorism to join Alpha Flight, a superhero group financed by the Canadian government.
His X-Men bio divulges that in addition to being a world class Olympic skier who makes his home at the north pole, NorthStar is also a martial arts master, a trapeze artist, and an accomplished novelist.
Now what could be more Canadian than that?
"Sources have told The Globe that the North Star terminology was to have been peppered throughout the speech, rather than just at the end.
"When you're following the North Star you're always going in the right direction," said the source in explaining its appeal."

As Impolitical says : Must ...repeat...North...Star....

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

$1400 a day?! ....Each?

The newly appointed five-member Independent Panel on Canada's Mission in Afghanistan, aka the Panel of Hawks, Deep Integrationists, ...and One Homophobe, appointed by Harper to advise parliament on the future of Canada's mission in Afghanistan four days before he informed us Canada will be staying till 2011 anyway if he has anything to say about it, will not be going it alone.

They will have minders. Six of them.
An appointed secretariat of six senior government officials will 'facilitate' for the Independent Panel. Three of them are from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, one is from CIDA, one is from the Afghanistan Task Force, and one is the former deputy commander of the Canadian contingent in Afghanistan.

A spokesperson for the shadow panel downplays the effect that being advised by the same government officials who have been overseeing the Afghanistan mission up till now might have on the official panel's independence :
"they are very independent thinkers and extremely accomplished and extremely worldly. I don't think anyone's presence here could influence them in any way, shape or form."

Over at Embassy Mag, Paul Hughes, chair of one of the four working groups on the American Iraq Study Group, patiently explains at length how complete independence is required in order for the panel's findings to be considered credible.
"If it comes across as a partisan document, people will treat it as a partisan document and not give it due deference," Mr. Hughes said.
Yeah, like we had complete confidence in them before.
And then there's this:
"The spokesperson said the panelists, who it has been reported will be paid between $850-$1,400 per day for their work through to March 31, 2008, will aim for full transparency."

Full transparency? For $1400 a day I expect they can become completely invisible.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Malalai Joya to speak at Vancouver rally

Bring the Troops Home Now
Pan-Canadian Day of Action
Against War:
October 27
In Vancouver :
Gather at Waterfront Station
12 Noon for Rally at 2pm
at the Vancouver Art Gallery
Featured speakers will include Malalai Joya.

In Victoria the rally will be held at 1pm Oct 28 at the Cenotaph
Malalai Joya will speak there too.

For other cities : more event listings


You know the part in the movie where the the doctor is doing everything he can to save the wounded hero. This being a movie set in the Middle Ages, the cure consists mostly of copious amounts of bloodletting. Oh no, you think, that isn't gonna work. But you don't blame the doctor because he's doing the very best he can with the knowledge he has at the time.
That scene would play somewhat less sympathetically towards the doctor if the movie was set in the 20th century.

Canada in Afghanistan : When Myopia Becomes a Crime
Michael Neumann

"For many Canadian partisans of The Mission in Afghanistan, Canada is just fighting the good fight. Their attitudes are curiously anachronistic, as if our boys have gone off to stick it to Jerry. There are yellow-ribbon support-our-troops stickers on many cars; there’s home town pride. Embedded correspondents produce little more than a stream of human interest pieces, as if Afghanistan was some enormous Katrina aftermath.

Thanks to ReWind.It at Bread and Roses.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

This is your brain on government...

Hey, I'll bet you're wondering how the question of Canadian airlines turning over our names to Homeland Security under the SPP was handled in the HoC on Friday.
Here it is, unedited, not a word changed or omitted, from Hansard :

I admit I was tempted to make Hawn's link go to that old news item where he called Layton a Nazi and Gallant's to her statement equating abortion with being beheaded in Iraq. But I didn't :

Ms. Denise Savoie (Victoria, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the hon. member's words on the work that Canada is doing for human rights in Afghanistan. He forgot to mention that by all objective reports, violent incidents in Afghanistan have more than quadrupled this year alone.

I would like to ask him a question about other rights and whether the government is prepared to defend those rights.

Canadian airlines at the moment are being asked to turn over passenger lists to homeland security. Will the member's government stand up for Canadians and refuse to turn over those lists?

On the security and prosperity partnership on which the member's government is forging away enthusiastically and signing away our sovereignty by integrating and harmonizing our regulations in over 300 areas with those of the Americans to better mesh with and fit the needs of American companies, I am wondering if this is in the best interests of Canadians.

Would the government support having an open discussion in Parliament?

Mr. Laurie Hawn (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, the NDP has never seen a conspiracy theory it did not love.

What this government does enthusiastically is support the rights of Canadian women and children, all Canadian citizens, and by the way, the rights of other women and children and citizens around the world who need our help. That is what Canada has done for the last 140 years since we became a nation and that is what we will continue to do enthusiastically.

If the NDP, or its predecessor the CCF, had had its way, Dutch women and children would have wound up starving at the end of World War II. South Korea would probably be a communist state today instead of one of the most prosperous nations in the world.

That is what we stand up enthusiastically for. The people we stand enthusiastically side by side with are our traditional strong allies, the nations of the world who share our sense of human values, our sense of rights, our sense of responsibility. That list includes a lot of western liberal democracies such as the United States, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, Spain, and so on.

Yes, I am very enthusiastic about what our government is doing in standing up for the rights of Canadians and for other people around the world who need our help.

Mrs. Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I would like to compliment the parliamentary secretary on how well he articulated Canada's international role, especially as it applies to Afghanistan. It has been stated that the security of Canada is intrinsically tied to the security of Afghanistan.

Gosh that was.......enervating.

Maybe I'll make it a regular Sunday feature - The HoC Not Answering the Question Period

Friday, October 19, 2007

CBC's strange bedfellows

Dear CBC :
About that Environics poll that you state was "conducted in partnership with the CBC", the one all over CBC TV News tonight, the CBC website, CTV, the G&M, etc :

CBC : 51% of Afghans feeling good about country's direction
60 % of Afghans surveyed believe the presence of foreign troops has been good for their country.
43% say that foreign troops should stay as long as it takes to get the job done.
60 % in Kandahar have a somewhat or very positive attitude toward Canada's soldiers.
70% of Afghans surveyed said they think Karzai is doing a good job.
77% of Afghans in Kandahar said Karzai is doing a good job.

In fact the poll was conducted by ACSOR–Surveys, the Afghan Center for Social and Opinion Research, founded by D3 Systems Int., whose client base include US State Department, the US Embassy in Kabul, the Afghan Reconstruction Group, Voice of America, (PIPA) the Program on International Policy Attitudes.....

A previous PIPA poll conducted by the Afghan Center for Social and Opinion Research in November 2005 found :
80% of Afghans believe their country is going "in the right direction"
83 % of Afghan respondents said they had a favorable opinion of U.S. troops in Afghanistan
81 % expressed a favorable opinion of the United States
83% said they had a favorable (39 percent "very favorable") view of "the U.S. military forces in our country."
75% approved of eradication of opium poppy fields
90% had an unfavorable opinion of the Taliban
and so on....

This ACSOR poll was extensively used in the US media to bolster support for the war.
Just like their new one will be used here.
Peter Mackay outside the HoC today: "Afghans are now able to take part in democratic processes like polling, and I think that's another brick in the wall as far as building the [needed] security."

Another brick in the wall, indeed. Unusual use of that Pink Floyd metaphor, Pete.

Now even if you do not subscribe, as I do, to the notion that this "CBC/Enviromics partnership" poll is just another piece of bullshit brick-in-the-wall warmongering being spun by yet another US research company, this time with our CBC as a willing patsy, you have to admit that comparing the most recent ACSOR survey with their 2005 one shows Afghan opinion and support for foreign troops is actually plummetting :

2007 : 51% believe the country is going in the right direction
2006 : 80% believe the country is going in the right direction

2007 : 60% support foreign troops and Canadian soldiers
2006 : 80% support American troops

So, CBC, what have you got to say for yourself?

Research jointly conducted in the threads of Bread and Roses

Update : The CBC/G&M/La Presse Survey at Environics

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Peace, pot, and the pettifogging Cons

You'll never guess what this is. Eugene found it.
It's a page at the Conservative Party of Canada website.

So if you are searching for info on the governing party of Canada, this is what you will find right below a picture of Prime Minister Stephen Harper : "Peace, Pot, Protectionism, and Parking Tickets".
It's a page slagging Dion for having anything to do with another party leader who would dare to countenance such outrageous ideas as peace, legalizing pot, and pulling out of the SPP and NAFTA.

Oh you silly Cons. You so don't want to go there.
Now that you are the governing party, you need to be promoting your own ideas.

Here. Just this once I'll turn this one around for you so it's more about you :

Now isn't that better? Sorry I couldn't fit anything into it this time about you guys and parking it.
Hope this one will do :


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Get your war off

A mere four days after appointing a panel of hawks and deep integrationists to determine Canada's future in Afghanistan, Harper announced his intention to have us stay till 2011 regardless. I guess their work is mostly already done then.

The purpose behind convening the panel now was to defuse any call to bring down the government over the Throne Speech, and to drive a wedge between the pro- and anti-war factions of the Libs. Possibly you remember Harper crossing the floor to shake Ignatieff's hand after securing sufficient Lib votes to extend the mission another two years last year. Let's not do that again.

If you would like to send a little note along to Steve and the opposition parties demanding an end to the war now , you can do so here, courtesy of Ceasefire.

Speech from the Throne : Flush!

and don't forget to wash your hands afterwards.
Hard to see how the Libs can get too high-horsey about a lot of this.
Here are the parts they could, and in the past did, write themselves :
Stay in Afghanistan till 2011 - check
Corporate tax breaks - check
Arctic sovereignty - check
Crime bill package - well, a good deal of it - check
We're not gonna meet our Kyoto targets - duh.
Plus some vaguaries on the safety of the family and addressing aboriginal needs.
But there's still more than enough reason to call for an election:
The War on Drugs - Go Ronald Reagan!
More TILMAs to undermine government powers and promote SPP.
Limit use of federal spending power in areas of provincial jurisdiction - see objection above
Yeah for the universal child noncare plan!
Supporting farmers by undermining marketing boards
Promotion of bio-fuels scam.
Limit terms of members of the senate - not 'our' people
More police on the street. Go, War on Terror!
Reinstate the security certificate system for locking up foreigners who have the misfortune to appear on terrorist lists likely not compiled by Canada.
And not putting the damned seat back down afterwards.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Cons still tanking in BC

I'm always annoyed by those polls whose idea of a geographic breakdown goes Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, sometimes Sask, the West.
So thank you, Angus Reid, for your Oct.9 poll listing BC separately and allowing us to indulge in the following smuggery :
  • Cons deserve a House of Commons majority - 12%
  • Cons deserve to stay in office with a minority - 19%
  • Dump their sorry asses - 44%
Of course there's still this ever-popular BC category :
  • Even though I volunteered to participate in this online poll knowing it was about politics, I still have no clue which of the above three categories best describes my own point of view - 25%

Steve and Sandra and the Throne Speech

G&M : Liberals may let Throne Speech pass, Dion says
"The trigger for a fall election will not be pulled this week, provided Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Throne Speech is not outrageous, radical and very right-wing," said Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion yesterday.
CP : "The Harper government believes the Liberals are so desperate to avoid an election that they'll accept a speech describing Kyoto climate-change targets as unattainable."
The same CP link above also provides this :
"During his speech to the Economic Club of Toronto, Dion dangled a pre-election carrot to the well-heeled crowd - vowing to further reduce the federal corporate tax rate, which fell from 28 % to 19 % under the previous Liberal government.
The Liberal leader pointed out that the Conservatives have only promised to reduce the rate to 18.5 % by 2011, and said the Liberals "want to go deeper."
Fucking ConservaLiberals.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

SPP : Is it pining for the fjords?

After months of fretting over the delicate health of his apparently moribund and sadly misunderstood patient, John Ibbitson has finally declared : The Security and Prosperity Partnership is dead.

Oh ye of little faith, John.

Sure, the NACC and various bizness leaders bitched and moaned at the slow pace of implementing their anti-democratic corporate agenda, going so far as to threaten to call Montebello off if they didn't get their way. Sure half of them declined to attend.

But you have to look at the big picture, John.
The SPP is only the latest incarnation in a long line of attempts to open up Mexican labour and Canadian resources to US corporations while gathering all of North America under its nuclear empire umbrella.
Here...take some heart from this newly released White Paper from the Hudson Institute : Negotiating North America : The Security and Prosperity Partnership :
"The SPP process is the vehicle for the discussion of future arrangements for economic integration to create a single market for goods and services in North America."
"The most important feature of the SPP design is that it is neither intended to produce a treaty nor an executive agreement like the NAFTA that would require congressional ratification or the passage of implementing legislation in the United States. The SPP was designed to function within existing administrative authority of the executive branch."
And just in case you didn't get that the first time, they repeat it :
"The SPP's design places negotiation fully within the authority of the executive branch in the United States."
Now to be fair, the report sees the possible demise of the SPP in this lack of transparency and congressional oversight and suggests this be corrected in future. But, ya know, it's lonely at the top, power corrupts, and rulers make bad lovers :
"The US has tried to overcome the defensive instincts of its neighbours by structuring negotiations in such a way that the US advantages are minimized, treating negotiators for Canada and Mexico as equals and partners."
Equals and partners - just like you always wanted, John.
But wait, here's the bit to gladden your heart.
After noting, like yourself, that opposition to the SPP is coming from both "excluded Congress" and "a fractious group of critics on both the left and right", plus "exploitation by groups such as al Qaeda that have been remarkably sophisticated in capitalizing on divisions among Americans", the report notes :
"There are signs that debates over future North American arrangements are overflowing the limits of the SPP"
and ends by suggesting :
"It may ultimately be necessary to redesign and re-launch a new process to take up the work of the SPP under a new acronym."
Gosh, I can hardly wait. A redesign and a new acronym.

Friday, October 12, 2007

What was our safe word, again?

An RCMP officer offers a quick demonstration in safe handcuff handling while possibly under the influence as part of their new Off-the-Cuff Curbside Community Outreach Program at UBC.

Back at headquarters, senior brass who had apparently not been previously apprised of the popular new 'off-the-cuff' program were quoted as being "very concerned about the case and are taking it seriously."

The demo was humourlessly observed by a disapproving fourth-year UBC business student who apparently failed to see the irony in his statement :

"I said, just loud enough so they can hear me, 'This is the most unprofessional thing I have even seen,'" Kovac claimed.
The two RCMP officers continued to take photos for 10 minutes and only stopped long enough to ask Kovac to pour out his drink, he said.
"So I poured it out and then he went right back to posing with the girls," Kovac said."

CBC : RCMP pose with women and handcuffs

Harper's Afghan panel - a bunch of hawks and deep integrationists....and one homophobe

Harper has appointed a panel to review options on the future of the Afghanistan mission after 2009, calling for a "full, open and informed" debate on the country's options....

As opposed to a branch office of the US war on terra you mean?
An introduction to Harper's panel, in their own words :

Former Liberal deputy prime minister John Manley [and NAFTA negotiator and Canadian Chair of the Task Force on the Future of North America] :
"Building a North American Community" by Manley, Aspe, and Weld : "The Task Force's central recommendation is establishment by 2010 of a North American economic and security community, the boundaries of which would be defined by a common external tariff and an outer security perimeter."
"I would argue that our involvement in the Coalition campaign against terrorism is in fact very much in keeping with Canada’s excellent reputation for advancing international peace & security. The military action in Afghanistan is an act of self-defence that is being undertaken under the auspices of Article 51 of the UN Charter."

CP : "We often seek to define Canada's role in the world. Well, for whatever reason, we have one in Afghanistan. Let's not abandon it too easily."

Derek Burney, Canada's former ambassador to Washington, former chief of staff to Brian Mulroney, and CEO of CAE and Harper's interim gov rep:
"The enduring myth of Canada as a peace-keeper is somewhat at odds with tasks in places like Afghanistan that go well-beyond the blue beret model. That image and the comfort or softness of our affluence seems to be engendering an aversion to war-fighting"
"Canada’s security on this continent is guaranteed by the United States, as we are wont to say, “whether we like it or not.”

Broadcater Pamela Wallin, also Canadian consul general in New York :
"Pamela Wallin, Canada's consul general in New York, said she believes most Canadians support signing on [the US missile defence system], despite polls suggesting otherwise. "Being at the table is an important way of hearing what the Americans are saying. It's a way of exercising our sovereignty."
"And agree or not, for Americans the reality is that this war began on September 11. It's part of a continuum that runs through to the routing of the Taliban from Afghanistan, and moves forward to the war in Iraq--just another step along the path to remove terrorist threats around the globe."

Paul Tellier, former Clerk of the Privy Council, former president and CEO of Canadian National Railway and Bombardier,and member of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives :
"The chief executive of Canadian National Railway Co. called Friday for a greater integration of the Canadian and American economies :
"Canadians face a crucial debate about the consequences of increasing Canadian and American economic integration. CN's success - and the success of other Canadian businesses - comes from acknowledging that our economy is increasingly integrated with the United States. The integration will continue. It is inevitable. It is irreversible..."
"My own view is that, eventually, Canada and its biggest trading partner will move to a common currency."

Former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister [and Mulroney health minister] Jake Epp to the National Gay Rights Coalition concerning the pending Human Rights Code issue : "I would like to see what kind of support you have now after what has taken place in Toronto. What is needed is not protection for homosexuals, but for Canadians who are not deviant."

I'm guessing Jake here appears to be our best hope so far.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ontario votes No

Today, Ontario voters considered the many advantages of their current first-past-the-post electoral system :

1) that massive 'majorities' can be won with a minority of the vote
2) that a vote for one party counts many times more than a vote for another party
3) that some parties with wide popular support are not represented at all
4) that women, minorities and youth are under-represented
5) that parties are not forced to work together to achieve consensus
6) that voter turnout is low

and then 63% of them voted to keep it.
A referendum on abolishing elections altogether would presumably attract a similar proportion of devotees.

Update : Speaking of de-votees, Skdadl points out in comments that voter turnout this time was just 52.6%
CBC : "The turnout was worse than a previous record low of 54.7 % set in 1923."
And why is that? Because they didn't have the MMP system.
And round it goes....

UPDATE : Peter Black, Vote MMP! Ottawa campaign manager : "Well, 37% voted for MMP and the press called it a resounding defeat. Only 42% votes for Mr. McGuinty and the press call it a resounding victory. That's first-past-the-post for you!"

SPP and the EPA

Remember that whole business about Canada lowering standards on pesticide use on fruits and vegetables to match U.S. regs because the U.S. found Canada's 40% more stringent pesticide regs to be "a trade irritant"?
Sure you do.

Richard Aucoin, chief registrar of the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, which sets Canada's pesticide rules said : "it's just common sense for Canada to work most closely with its largest and nearest trading partner".
Besides, in practice, the question of official residue limits is moot in most cases because farmers are using fewer and fewer pesticides, he said.

LA Times :
"Despite the protests of more than 50 scientists, including five Nobel laureates in chemistry, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday approved use of a new, highly toxic fumigant, mainly for strawberry fields.
Methyl iodide is a neurotoxin and carcinogen that has caused thyroid tumors, neurological damage and miscarriages in lab animals.
Methyl iodide will be manufactured by Tokyo-based Arysta LifeScience Corp. and marketed under the name Midas. Its use will be allowed on fields growing strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, ornamentals, turf, trees and vines."
EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson is a Bush appointee.
Arysta's former chief executive, Elin Miller, is now a top official at the EPA.

I repeat : Why is it still called the Environmental Protection Agency?

And about that research on "lab animals".
Several years ago progressive US blogs were up in arms about a jointly-funded project by the EPA and a pesticide lobby group which offered poor families in Florida $970 and a camcorder to spray the inside of their homes, including childrens' bedrooms, with a pesticide once a day for two years and monitor the results with the free camcorder.
In 2000, Lockheed Martin paid volunteers in California $1000 to ingest toxic chemicals and pesticides under observation.
Shagya now has a vid up of Senator Barbara Boxer detailing these experiments. She points out they do not meet the Nuremburg Code forbidding the testing of "non-therapeutics" or poisons on human beings.

EPA : "Experiments on People just like at Auschwitz!"

One of the objectives of Montebello was to enhance the so-called 'smart regulation' : "undertaking trilateral cooperation to accelerate and strengthen our national and regional risk-based chemical assessment and management efforts."

From the U.S. government's SPP website : "Regulatory Cooperation in the Area of Chemicals."
Objective :"enhanced coordination of chemical assessment and management programs across North America."

Stephen Harper, responding to critics of regulatory harmonization following Montebello :
"Is the sovereignty of Canada going to fall apart if we standardize the jellybean. I don’t think so."

Related : From the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives :
More Than Jellybeans:
The SPP Regulatory Framework Agreement and Its Impact on Chemicals Regulation


Hey, Libs, what is it you stand for again?

On the eve of the Ontario election, Jennifer at Runesmith's Canadian Content comes home to find a Liberal campaign leaflet stuffed in her door containing what is apparently the Libs' best case for getting her vote. There's no picture of the Lib candidate nor anything about the Liberal candidate or his platform. There is only this :
"A vote for the NDP will only help elect more Conservatives."

Unsurprisingly, the candidate is also against MMP.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Channeling JFK with "little cakes for you"

"John F. Kennedy said to the Americans: 'Don't ask what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,"' Bernier said.
"Now, today, I'm asking Canadians, 'Don't ask the Afghan government what it can do for us in Canada, but what we Canadians can do for the Afghan people."'

~ Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier addressing Canadian troops on Sunday at one of thirteen photo-ops in Afghanistan.

WTF? Canadians don't need to ask the Afghan government what it is doing for us in Canada. We already know what the Afghan government is doing for us in Canada.
Without Afghan PM Karzai's little reciprocal staged photo ops, there'd be no opportunity at all for Steve to play Commander Bunnypants Jr "on the world stage", as he likes to call it.

Bernier was upbeat : "The territory is more secure now today, here in Kandahar than it was a year ago."
The UN was not : "The security situation in Afghanistan is assessed by most analysts as having deteriorated at a constant rate through 2007," stated their August report, adding that their own assessment of a 25% increase in violent attacks to likely be a conservative one.

The egregious new International Development Minister Bev Oda was along for the ride, "handing out sweets to soldiers and posing beside military vehicles."
G&M : "Yesterday's tour by the Conservative cabinet ministers included at least 13 photo opportunities. During a trip to a forward base, Ms. Oda stood in front of a concrete building scarred by shrapnel from Taliban mortars and offered a box of chocolate treats to the soldiers.
"Thank you for your work," she said, "and little cakes for you."

I think I'm gonna be sick.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

MMP and the MSM

Just exactly what is it about the above chart that's so fucking difficult to understand?
The first line is the percentage of votes for each party.
The second line is the number of seats awarded them by our current First-Past-the-Post system.
The third line is how those votes would have been redistributed as seats under MMP.

That's it. Under MMP, Canada would join the hundreds of other countries in the world who already enjoy proportional representation in which every vote counts and seats are won on the basis of how people vote.

So why does a recent SES poll of Ontario voters, who are due to vote on this for Ontario on Wednesday, show only 26% support for MMP, compared to the 54% in favour of keeping the First-Past-the-Post status quo?

The Mainly Sloppy Media has a lot to answer for here and G&M's Ian Coutts tops the lot. First he takes a swipe at the legitimacy of the Ontario Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform, who, incidentally, voted 98 to 6 in favour of MMP :
"Numbering 103 people in total, one from every riding in the province, they were drawn from many walks of life, not experts but ordinary people - just like the ordinary people who voted for Brian Melo over Jaydee Bixby on Canadian Idol this year."
Then he goes on to argue that Someone might form the Annoy Your Neighbour Party, win a seat, and become kingmakers; but even worse, once people realized their vote would actually count, tragically more of them would vote. I'm not kidding :

"And you know what? Once people see that their vote makes a difference, that their party can get in and make changes, they will come flocking back to the electoral arena."

In an earlier column, he contradicts this, arguing that the claim that MMP results in a higher voter turnout - and it does - isn't true after all anyway. Just look at New Zealand, he says, where voter turnout actually went down :

"In 1995, the first election after MMP was brought in, voter turnout was sharply up, from 79.6 % in 1993 to 83.6%, but it has generally continued declining after that, and was at 80.1% in 2005."
Only 80% ???

Note that wiggly line across the top of the graph.
You have to go all the way back to 1896 to find Canadian voter turnout as low as it is now - 64%

The main reasons people give for not voting are that politicians are crooks and liars who don't address their concerns, and their vote doesn't make a difference anyway.

Or, as Rick Mercer puts it : the two reasons elected politicians don't do what they promised to do during their election campaigns are :
1) you already voted for them .....and
2) you already voted for them

Most likely to feel this way are women, youth, and minorities - all of whom are under-represented in the current provincial and federal FPtP systems.

In the 2006 federal election, the Cons got 36% of the 64% who voted.
What's 36% of 64%? ... 23%
We're being governed by the guys who got 23% of the possible vote and who apparently feel justified in behaving as if this was a majority.
In Ontario, winning 40% of the vote means the winner takes all. This increases the importance of a handful of swing vote ridings so they are the ones catered to during an election. In a very real sense, aside from those who live in those particular ridings, no one else's vote counts.

In my inbox is a pro-MMP petition signed by Stephen Lewis, Linda McQuaig, Bob Rae, David Suzuki, Olivia Chow, Stompin' Tom Connors, Andrew Coyne, Elizabeth May, Mel Hurtig, Joy Kogawa, Rafe Mair, Judy Rebick, and Rick Salutin.

On the other side are the guys who are quite happy to have a minority hog an unfair proportion of political clout.

Your choice, Ontario. Don't screw this up.

Bonus : Electoral system pop quiz

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Steve and Sandra Get It Right, Alberta!

Reuters : "International oil producers will flee Alberta if the Western Canadian province's government implements a proposed hike to oil and natural gas royalties and taxes, according to Tristone Capital Inc, an investment bank that serves the oil and gas industry."


Say, what ever did happen to PetroCanada, the peoples' oil and gas company?

1975 : "Trudeau wanted Canada to be less dependent on the United States. He lobbied for increased Canadian ownership and protection of the country's resources. Creating Petro-Canada in 1975 was part of that plan. The Crown-owned company would develop and control Canada's presence in the energy sector."
1991 - Mulroney begins process to privatize Petro-Canada

Oh yeah, right.

Reuters quote from Eugene : Alberta needs a Chavez
Daveberta does a link round-up.
Previous post on below

Friday, October 05, 2007

That's :

From Daveberta :
"Over the past week, a new website has popped up - - calling for Alberta's Tory Government to keep the resource royalty structure the way it is - even after the damning Alberta Royalty Review Report and Auditor General's Report slammed Ed Stelmach's Tory Government for failing to collect BILLIONS of dollars in resource revenues owed to Albertans over the past 15 years."

Daveberta looked into who is behind and came up with Hill and Knowlton.
The H&K Calgary office, Dave informs us, is "led by none-other than Mr. Ken Boessenkool, a member of the infamous firewall six and former adviser to Stockwell Day and Stephen Harper."
Pretty slick site for a grass roots effort -
Get It Right Alberta! About this site :

"Concerned Albertans, including private citizens, small oil and gas companies and members of the investment community, have come together to launch this website."

You're shitting me! No big oil and gas companies? No uncollected royalty money going towards this endeavor?
You mean this little grass roots effort can afford Hill and Knowlton all on its own?

Among the petitions and letters you can send to the editor or your MLA begging them to hold off on collecting those BILLIONS in resource revenues that are owned by the people of Alberta and not the oil companies, is a vid clip of Jim McCormick being interviewed on a TV breakfast program. McCormick is able to evade the interviewer's questions as to who is actually backing Get It Right Alberta but does offer this valuable insight :

"I don't believe that any society has ever taxed itself into prosperity."

Really? What exactly is your model for no-tax prosperity here, Jim? Chad? Nigeria?

The website manages to maintain a fairly neutral tone in its quest to convince Albertans they really don't want the money that they should have already received.
The endorsement from the Alberta Alliance party? Not so much :

"..catastrophic consequences for all Albertans
To suggest that costs can be controlled by good management in a booming economy is an absolute lack of understanding of the current state of the oil and gas industry.
To scare away additional capital could result in layoffs tenfold higher than currently being experienced.
The Alliance Party suggests that we should be what Albertans want us to be and that is deal-keepers.
Albertans want Alberta to be known as trustworthy.

The key is to not kill the goose that is laying the golden eggs for Albertans."

I would respectfully suggest that "the key" here is to avoid having your head so far up the goose's ass that you are mistaken for paté foie gras.

As unlikely as it sounds, if their past track record is anything to go on, H&K could very well prove successful in their bid to convince Albertans that they don't want their own money.

Previously Hill and Knowlton sold the American people on the first Gulf War using imaginary babies being thrown out of imaginary incubators.
Remember Nayirah, the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the US and a member of the Kuwaiti royal family who was coached by Hill and Knowlton to pose for the cameras as the poor traumatized hospital volunteer who witnessed the baby-throwing and whose life was now consequently in danger?

Grass roots "advocacy" at its finest. Only the oil was real. The oil is always what is real.

H/T Holly Stick for the links.
Previous post on recent Alberta fiascos here.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

About that "one NA security perimeter" thing...

From Politics'n'Poetry :

"Canada Refuses Entry to CODEPINK Cofounder Medea Benjamin and Retired Colonel Ann Wright

WASHINGTON - October 3 – Two well-respected US peace activists, CODEPINK and Global Exchange cofounder Medea Benjamin and retired Colonel and diplomat Ann Wright, were denied entry into Canada today. The two women were headed to Toronto to discuss peace and security issues at the invitation of the Toronto Stop the War Coalition. At the Buffalo-Niagara Falls Bridge they were detained, questioned and denied entry.

The women were questioned at Canadian customs about their participation in anti-war efforts and informed that they had an FBI file indicating they had been arrested in acts of non-violent civil disobedience."

Politics'n'Poetry has the rest of the story.

CODEPINK : Women For Peace began on Gandhi's birthday in 2002 in response to the ramp-up to the Iraq invasion.

Their mission : "positive social change through creative protest, non-violent direct action, and community involvement."

Maybe it's all that pink that scares 'em.

The reign of Steyn falls mainly on the plain

Everyone's been taking the piss out of Macleans writer Mark Steyn lately for putting the words "fact-checking" in scare quotes. Sure he supported the invasion of Iraq and regularly inveighs against "global warming alarmists", but what these insensitive bloggers don't take into account is that the poor bastard has been trying to flog this T-shirt of himself as Che Guevara online for over a year now :

"Wear the T-shirt that shows you're a true intellectual revolutionary!"

"Order this one-of-a-kind T-shirt today and horrify your leftie friends at every tofu cafe in town!"

Somebody please just pony up and buy the damn thing. This is getting embarrassing.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Alberta : Treading water at a fire sale

50,000 dollars a year on gifts of golfballs and fridge magnets?
A part-time constituency aide who earned $18,000 a year but received a bonus of $21,500?

Gosh, that sounds familiar, but this time it's the Alberta Con Adscam.

Rusty Idols and Calgary Grit have posts up about the veritable cavalcade of government scandals in Alberta, topped off by yesterday's release of Alberta Auditor General Fred Dunn's annual report :
"The report, released Monday, paints a damning picture of lax accounting and accountability in the province's energy ministry, years before the release of a royalty review panel report last month that concluded Albertans are not getting their "fair share" from oil and gas development, and should be
collecting another $2 billion annually in royalties.
"The principles of transparency and accountability, I believe, were not followed," Dunn said. "I'm
not impressed."
Dunn said the province has had all the information it needed to harvest another $1 billion in royalties for years without harming the oil industry, but kept that information to itself.
Meanwhile, the report also said the provincial government's poor planning has left it with a maintenance backlog of roughly $6.1 billion, raising the prospect of unsafe roads and public buildings if the problem isn't addressed."

Not to mention the little matter of the gifts and bonuses.
Go read Rusty Idols and Calgary Grit - they actually live there.

Then contrast their posts with the Parkland Institute/AFL Conference from this past weekend : Treading Water: Workers, Wages and the Boom :
From Canadian Business Online:
"Corporations are benefiting from the boom : In current dollars, Alberta corporate profits rose from $12 billion in 1998 to $54 billion in 2006.
Average Albertans are not benefiting from the boom : The average hourly wage in Alberta in 2006 was $19.30. In 2001 it was $19.37. Wages in construction dropped two dollars per hour.
Alberta has become the province with the highest percentage of employed clients visiting food banks."

All so a few Cons and carpetbaggers can make money selling off Alberta crude at firesale prices .
Meanwhile : Why Canada has no mandaTory GHG caps.

Look, it's not as if you're being asked to stand out in the rain singing Kumbaya ...

Dear Prime Minister Harper and Minister Bernier:
I am appalled by the violence directed at peaceful protestors by the Burmese military government.
Canada must engage other countries, in addition to the UN Security Council, in pressing the Burmese military junta to end its 45-year stranglehold on the rights and freedoms of its citizens.
Your government must also call on China to use its influence and urge Burma to end its violent attacks on its own citizens.
Please take immediate action to address this urgent situation.
Your signature here.
cc : Duceppe, Layton, Dion, May, and your MP
From Kathleen Duff, a longtime BC human rights activist at RightOnCanada.
Those CCs at the bottom are what count. Give them some ammo!

Why Canada has no mandatory GHG caps

GHG emissions 1990 to 2005 - Up 25%

Amount over Kyoto target - 32.7%

SUVs & Light duty trucks - Up 109%

Petroleum Industries - Up 56.4%

"Much of the increase in the Petroleum Industries sector is attributable to the rapid growth in crude oil and natural gas exports to the United States over the period.

Fugitive releases (e.g. methane leaks from pipelines) contributed just as significantly to GHG emissions - a growth of about 54 percent. Much of this increase is the result of higher crude oil and natural gas exports."

DeSmogBlog : 5 Reasons Canada is NOT a leader in reducing GHGs.

Monday, October 01, 2007

SPP : Nukes and kitty litter

G&M : "Terrorists could easily carry nuclear materials for a dirty bomb from Canada into the United States, the U.S. Congress was told yesterday, sparking demands for much greater border security.
"With the exception of the U.S., there are more international terrorist organizations active in Canada than anywhere else in the world," Senator Ken Salazar, a Colorado Democrat, said."

Leaving aside for a moment his admission that there are more international terrorist orgs in the US than there are in Canada, what we want to know is what is being done about terrorists smuggling kitty litter from Canada into the US.

The Department of Homeland Security is on the case.
Since, you know, that date, the DHS has deployed a $200 million national network of detectors known as radiation portal monitors to protect US ports and borders against nuclear weapons and dirty bombs.
The trouble with these devices is that they often cannot distinguish between a nuclear device and cat litter.

[Ed. note : If only somone had asked me, I would have personally been willing to fail to determine the difference between kitty litter and a nuclear bomb for merely half that much.]

Evidently stung by US Government Accountability Office criticism of their kitty litter detecting device boondoggle, DHS officials commissioned a whole new batch of detectors, called Advanced Spectroscopic Portals, at an estimated cost of $1.2 billion. The DHS then helped the contractor pass the dry run tests by "allowing contractors to "collect test data" about the kinds of radioactive materials they would be screening and then to "adjust their systems accordingly" for the actual tests in February and March."
The GAO is unimpressed and there will be further tests.

But back to the G&M and the official Canadian government reaction to the news that there are more international terrorist orgs in the US than there are here in Canada and that this is somehow our fault and we should do something about it, goddamnit :

"Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said Canada has an aggressive anti-terrorism program... adding that Canada is safer than it was 1½ years ago.[Ed.: *snigger*]
Mr. Day said Canada has put $431-million toward improving infrastructure at border points and $19.5-million to expanding integrated border teams."

Actually we've done better than that - the Canadian company Bubble Technology Industries (BTI) has partnered with Raytheon to make the new and improved but interestingly tested kitty litter detectors.

And why should we care whether the DHS is acting as a mere extension of the defence industry while operating as a US government department at the same time?
Because the DHS is coordinating the security working groups of the Security and Prosperity Partnership, that's why.

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