Friday, February 29, 2008

"Um, is this thing on?"

There's something amiss here.
Tom Flanagan, Harper's eminence grease, and Doug Findlay, his in-house hatchet man, are alleged to have offered the dying Vancouver Independent MP Chuck Cadman a $1M insurance bribe to bring down the Libs in a non-confidence vote in 2005. Cadman, who did not vote with the Cons, was purportedly worried about money. The bribery charge is made by Cadman's wife, Dona, in an upcoming biography of Cadman by author Tom Zytaruk. Dona Cadman is now running as a Con in her husband's old riding. !!!

Read the transcript or listen to the audio of author Zytaruk's tape of a 2005 interview with Harper, then leader of the Opposition :

Zytaruk: "I mean, there was an insurance policy for a million dollars. Do you know anything about that?"
Harper: "I don't know the details. I know that there were discussions, uh, this is not for publication?"
Zytaruk: "This (inaudible) for the book. Not for the newspaper. This is for the book."
Harper: "Um, I don't know the details. I can tell you that I had told the individuals, I mean, they wanted to do it. But I told them they were wasting their time....But they were just, they were convinced there was, there were financial issues.

Zytaruk then asks how official these 'individuals' are.

Harper: "No, no, they were legitimately representing the party. I said don't press him. I mean, you have this theory that it's, you know, financial insecurity and, you know, just, you know, if that's what you're saying, make that case but don't press it...."

I just don't see Harper copping to knowledge of an illegal bribe to a journalist, do you?
I mean, he was about to base an election campaign on Liberal bribes and kickbacks.
There's definitely something missing here.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Now that's what you call a protest

march thru
Mexico City
to protest
Feb 1, 2008

They were demanding that the Agricultural Chapter of NAFTA be renegotiated, the privatization of the energy sector be halted, and that the new Social Security law be repealed.

Common Frontiers Canada :
"The Globe and Mail has a mention of the march in today's Report on Business section where the crowd is described as "Thousands of mexican farmers...".
The Toronto Star didn't carry the story at all."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Libs claim "Liberals, Tories, same old story"

Now playing on the Liberal website :
"February 26, 2008 – The Liberal Opposition will not bring down the Conservatives based on their latest budget because it adopts many of the measures the Liberal Party has championed, Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said today."
Thanks for clearing that up.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bill C-484, because fetuses are persons too!

On Feb 13 2008, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals unanimously upheld the 2005 double homicide conviction of Texas teenager Gerardo Flores for helping his girlfriend end her pregnancy of twins. Under the Texas' Prenatal Protection Act, Flores received a life sentence.

"We are very pleased with the Court's opinion," said Joe Pojman, Ph.D., Executive Director of Texas Alliance for Life. "The highest criminal court in Texas has again recognized that unborn children are individual persons worthy of protection from murder and assault the same as other persons already born. The Court essentially held that unborn children are babies."

From Canadian LifeSite News: "The decision comes just weeks before the Canadian House of Commons is scheduled to proceed with the second hour of debate on similar legislation for Canada (Bill C-484 - the Unborn Victims of Crime Act).
"Such a decision by the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals will hopefully inspire Canadian Parliamentarians to pass Bill C-484 into law." said Marie-Christine Houle, Executive Director of Women for Women's Health, a group which has been advocating for the passage of the bill."

Bill C-484 permits separate homicide charges to be laid for the death of a fetus when a pregnant woman is attacked. Con MP Ken Epp who introduced the bill is openly anti-choice but has pleaded with opponents to accept that its wording only applies to wanted fetuses, that it is not a stealth attempt to re-criminalize abortion in Canada, that his Unborn Victims of Crime Act is entirely unrelated to the various "fetal homicide" laws adopted to such disastrous effect in 37 states in the U.S.

Under the Criminal Code of Canada, persons do not gain legal status and rights in our society until they have completely exited from the birth canal, alive.
We Move To Canada caught Ken Epp on a call-in cable show. Not a direct quote, says Laura at WMTC, but "a very close paraphrase" answer from Epp to the question of why this bill was necessary :
"Because we want to recognize the humanity of that unborn child. Whether that child was killed three months before birth or three months after birth, it was still a child, there was still a loss of life. The other side might wish to deny the humanity of that unborn child, but we want the law to recognize it."

Busted, Ken.
One body. One person. One count.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Afganistan - Do Not Extend

Independent Feb 25, 2008 : Women's lives worse than ever

"Grinding poverty and the escalating war is driving an increasing number of Afghan families to sell their daughters into forced marriages.

Girls as young as six are being married into a life of slavery and rape, often by multiple members of their new relatives. Banned from seeing their own parents or siblings, they are also prohibited from going to school. With little recognition of the illegality of the situation or any effective recourse, many of the victims are driven to self-immolation – burning themselves to death – or severe self-harm.

Six years after the US and Britain "freed" Afghan women from the oppressive Taliban regime, a new report proves that life is just as bad for most, and worse in some cases."
~ Womankind : Afghan Women and Girls Seven Years On

Canadian F-Word Blog Awards results

are in and I'm just gonna bask right here for a moment.
Creekside was voted Best Political Blog, and also came runner-up for Best Individual Blog
OK, that felt terrific. Thank you, all.

The real "Best" here though goes to F-Word Blog Awards hosts Pale and Prole from A Creative Revolution. Thank you, Pale and Prole, for your kick-ass F-Wording example of how to turn a slight into a success, to Heather Mallick who sent along a message of congratulations to all the nominees, and to all who so generously participated. Results, presentations here.

And a personal note of thanks to the Chief at Seaside, my sometime editor in real life, who cajoled me into starting a blog. And my mom, of course, and the support of my two wonderful cats without which......oh noes, the music is coming up...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

SPP : Putting the "s" in "Defending Our Homelands"

Canada, US agree to share troops in civil emergencies
"Canada and the U.S. have signed an agreement that paves the way for the militaries from either nation to send troops across each other's borders during an emergency", reported the Natty Post on Friday.

The deal was signed by the heads of the U.S. military's Northern Command and Canada Command on Feb 14, but as Canadian officials apparently have nothing as yet to say to us about it, what say we go straight to the USNorthCom website.
From their "About Us" page - a straight 'copy and paste' :
"USNorthCom : Defending Our Homelands

U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) was established Oct. 1, 2002 to provide command and control of Department of Defense (DoD) homeland defense efforts and to coordinate defense support of civil authorities.

USNORTHCOM defends America's homeland — protecting our people, national power, and freedom of action.

USNORTHCOM’s specific mission:
USNORTHCOM anticipates and conducts Homeland Defense and Civil Support operations within the assigned area of responsibility to defend, protect, and secure the United States and its interests

USNORTHCOM’s AOR [area of responsibility] includes air, land and sea approaches and encompasses the continental United States, Alaska, Canada, Mexico and the surrounding water out to approximately 500 nautical miles."

Defending our homelands.
Refreshingly straightforward really, isn't it?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

So stick another ribbon on your H-o-C...

General Rick Hillier : " 'the least our soldiers could expect' in Afghanistan is that after the pending vote on extending the mission to 2011 is completed, all MPs in Parliament give unanimous support to a motion backing Canadian troops."
Or Tinkerbell will die.
You don't want Tinkerbell to die, do you?
Well then.
"Support Our Right-Wing Agenda" ribbon pillaged from Cräbgrass.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Last Giant Oil Frontier

Anyone else receiving this email investment offer from the "owners" of "unclaimed arctic treasures"?

The Last Giant Oil Frontier : Access to a Trillion Dollars in oil and natural gas!
"Who owns the Arctic Commons vast oil and gas resources?
The US Company, United Oil and Gas Consortium Management Corp., does.
The US Government and oil companies currently have access to a strong prior claim to the Arctic Commons hydrocarbons through the US Nevada private company United Oil and Gas Consortium Management Corp., which made a solid international Arctic Commons hydrocarbons claim on May 9th 2006."

Rigzone, Feb 7, 2008 : "This claim [with the United Nations and the five Arctic countries] is for the exclusive exploitation, development, marketing and extraction rights to the oil and gas resources of the seafloor and subsurface contained within the "Arctic Claims"; an area of the Arctic Ocean that has no country's claims to it; or simply, the open area in between all of the Arctic-bordering countries.

A preliminary assessment by the US Geological Survey suggests the Arctic seabed may hold as much as 25 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and natural gas reserves. By one estimate, 400 billion barrels of oil might lie beneath the Arctic seabed.
Provided the Company's claim tenure, legal issues and government negotiations are managed properly, the Arctic Commons Deeps basin area could become the world's largest independently owned offshore oilfields; safely beyond the reach of self-serving governments.

Peter Sterling, CEO of the Company, commented, "For the major independent oil companies, (IOCs) operating in the world's great sedimentary oil basins, the above-ground risks via onerous taxation and outright expropriation are becoming extreme. IOCs are not getting access to enough new sources of oil and gas. State owned oil companies are increasingly taking over their national oil reserves and squeezing out the IOCs. IOCs urgently need to find a new vision for energy growth to remain relevant and the Arctic Commons Deeps sedimentary basin complex represents such an opportunity. And we intend to manage that vision by acting as the 'Lead Manager' of the Arctic Commons Consortium."

They have a website explaining the whole thing.
They also have, um, issues :

"The North Pole is ours, not Russia's!
The last giant oil frontier on Earth is in the arctic. The ocean floor is believed to hold vast reserves of untapped oil and natural gas, which is expected to become accessible as climate change melts the ice.
Russia's bogus claim to the deep ocean floor beneath the Arctic ice cap has been dismissed by other countries with territories bordering the region.
It is the sort of gangsterism practiced by Russia’s government - and from the arbitrary and cruel behavior of President Putin towards those who disagree with him and criticize him, an alarming number of whom meet early deaths, that threatens the free world and makes governments and companies loath to deal with Russia for energy projects.
The free world should have its share of the vast energy reserves that lie beneath the Arctic without having to deal with Russia’s blackmailing regime."

So seldom does one come across the word "bogus" even once in a missive soliciting investment funding, but United Oil and Gas Corp manage to squeeze it in there three or four times.

The U.N is also on their shitlist for having established the "International Criminal Court (which can try individuals for violations of international law) and the U.N. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency". As yet unbeknownst to the rest of us, the U.N. also has secret designs on the moon.

But wait! Apparently we're still not done with Russia yet! :

"From Kamchatka to the Gulf of Finland, Russia is still a land of acid rain, heavy metals and plutonium. Stick a pin in a map of Russia and you are likely to alight upon a poisoned river or the rusting hulk of a nuclear submarine, an irradiated steppe, some chemically defoliated birch trees or a person with a life expectancy of 34 years."

Point being : Neither the U.N. nor Russia are suitable stewards of the 1.3 million miles of "unclaimed Arctic treasures", a job obviously better left to private enterprise and the United Oil and Gas Consortium Management Corp., foe of arms control, the International Court, the UN, "onerous taxation", and "self-serving governments".

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Why don't women blog?

Popular, Liberal Male Blogger: Why don't women blog? I've looked on my blogroll and I don't see any women bloggers. Therefore, they must not exist. Women must not be interested in thinky stuff like politics or computers.

45 Women Bloggers respond in the comments section: WTF? We all have blogs!

Liberal, Male Blogger: I don't mean blogs about tampons. All women do is talk about feminine hygiene products. I mean, Where are all the women who blog about important stuff; the stuff *I'm* interested in.

45 Women Bloggers: You're right. We only talk about feminine hygiene products. Here's more talk about feminine hygiene products: You are a douche.

Wonderfully snarky re-enactment of "a phenomenon that happens about every three months or so" continues here at One Good Thing

The post is three years old.

H/t to Skdadl at Bread 'n Roses

Monday, February 18, 2008

Steve and Sandra's political football

What's with all this "war is above political football" crap?

Thomas Walkom : Why shouldn't voters discuss war?
"Those who praise the Liberals for supporting the Conservative government on Afghanistan argue that it is crucial to avoid politicizing the war, lest it become an election issue. The argument here is that the war is too important to be left to the voters......When else are we supposed to get a crack at it?"

Answer : Apparently when it's safe enough even for Liberals.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Grover Norquist in his own bathtub

"I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."
~Grover Norquist
Terrific post from the Rev, and I mean a really terrific post, "Swiftboating Obama", up at both The Woodshed and The Galloping Beaver :
"Norquist and his masters believe that government is simply an often unavoidable impediment to them making money....They have appointed incompetents to vital positions to ensure that the government departments involved fail when called upon ("Heckuva job Brownie"). This helps undermine people's faith in government and provides ammunition to show that the work of government should be privatized. Think about the arguments for school vouchers, or look at the "shock doctrine" privatization of things like water systems, power grids and transportation systems around the world, and it becomes clear the motives are to make a profit for corporations and their wealthy shareholders and to ensure that none of that profit is ever handed back to help those who are not wealthy."
Why isn't this commonly referred to as 'looting'?
Back in May '06, the Rev left me the following comment : "If only someone would drown Grover Norquist in his own metaphorical bathtub."
There ya go, Rev.
Bonus : 900 Foot Jesus : SPP and the death of public service or
why having fans of Norquist running the Canadian government is not working out for the rest of us.

Did Canada "Just say NO!" or did we just SAY no?

On Canada's role in Iraq :

U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Paul Cellucci, March 25, 2003 :
"Ironically, Canadian naval vessels, aircraft and personnel...will supply more support to this war in Iraq indirectly...than most of those 46 countries that are fully supporting our efforts there."

Secretary of State Colin Powell : "We now have a coalition of the willing...who have publicly said they could be included in such a listing.... And there are 15 other nations, who, for one reason or another do not wish to be publicly named but will be supporting the coalition."

Yeah, well, Powell and Cellucci, celebrated liars both, could have just been padding out the ranks of the 'coalition', as it were. But then there was :

CanWest Jan 19, 2008 : Canadian commander takes a leading roll in Iraq :
"Canadian Forces Brig.-Gen. Nicolas Matern recently arrived in Baghdad as part of the first wave of soldiers and officers from the U.S. Army's 18th Airborne Corps from Fort Bragg, N.C.
Matern is assigned as a senior officer in the Iraq Multi-National Corps which consists of around 130,000 troops."

And he was not the first :

"In 2004 Lt.-Gen. Walter Natynczyk, then a major general, served as deputy commander of the Multi-National Corps during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
At the time, he was in charge of 35,000 soldiers. Natynczyk oversaw planning and execution of all multi-national corps-level combat support operations."
"Canadian Maj.-Gen. Peter Devlin was also recently a deputy commander in the multi-national corps."

Plus there was the 1300 Canadian troops on the four Canadian warships providing Persian Gulf escort, the two dozen Canadian war planners in Florida, the providing of surveillance data from RADARSAT 2, the RCMP in Jordan training Iraqi police, the Canadian advisors embedded in Iraq's Interior Ministry, and, my personal fave, Canadian Pension Plan investment of our money in military contractors who make, among other goodies, cluster bombs and land mines.

Perhaps you read this in the account from Richard Sanders' of Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade, or COAT, in Common Ground this month : Canada's Secret War in Iraq. An updated version of it is now here.

Sanders is exasperated that most Canadians­, including many lefties and peace activists, are loathe to accept Canadian complicity in the war on Iraq and continue to proudly proclaim that Canada refused to support the invasion of Iraq.

Note to Richard Sanders : Much of this is based on the wish to believe in a past golden age of Canadian autonomy to which we might magically return if we only we could get rid of Harper, and sometimes it's just the pretense to believe in it for reasons of partisan political rhetoric.
Meanwhile the pretense that Iraq and Afghanistan are completely separate and unrelated wars continues unabated, and Dion's new amendment on Afghanistan is so pleasing to Harper that he has asked the Cons to adopt it.

I am grateful that we have relatively few Canadian "boots on the ground" in Iraq - the real reason most Canadians do not consider us to be actually "in Iraq" - and that Canadian complicity consists mostly of our decades-old business-as-usual military integration with the US. It isn't anything to get all smugly Canadian about.

Interesting discussion/hair pulling event about Sanders' essay at Babble here and here. Sanders joins in.
Post title shamelessly pillaged from comments at Babble.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Canadian F-Word Blog Awards

This year's Best Canadian Blog Awards is to be congratulated for having pissed so many of us off with their rejection of a Best Feminist Blog category that Pale and Prole from A Creative Revolution created the first annual Canadian F-Word Blog Awards.

Go. Discover some great new F-Word reads. Voing today and tomorrow.

Wedging the foot of the foetus in the backdoor

Bloc MP and Catholic priest Raymond Gravel opposes anti-choice anti-gay Con/Reform/Alliance MP Ken Epp's Unborn Victims of Crime bill, calling it an attempt to recriminalize abortion.
The bill, C-484, would allow additional criminal charges to be laid in the death or injury of a foetus in the event the mother is the victim of a crime. It could also wedge the foot of the foetus firmly in the backdoor of personhood.

LifeSite : Gravel said he was "uncomfortable" with the bill "because the member putting it forward is part of a pro-life group, the Campaign Life Coalition, which in my view is a rather extreme fanatical group, when it comes to life." Gravel continued:
"I also think this bill will open the door to a re-criminalization of women who have abortions, and that's not to be desired. I'm against abortion, but this is no way to solve the problem of abortion. It's through education, through outreach, through helping women who have undesired pregnancies I think that's how to solve the problem of abortion. But not recriminalizing abortion, I don't ever want to see that happen."
"...when the fetus is still in the mother they're just one being. Its only when the fetus is born is when it becomes another being, when it becomes a human being."
Well, exactly, sir.

Campaign Life Coalition, however, are displeased with his speech, and presumably also with being labelled as "a rather extreme fanatical group", and they are taking steps :
"We have written to the Papal Nuncio to inform him of Fr. Raymond Gravel’s bizarre House of Commons speech. We noted that typically, Catholic clergy are prevented from running for elected office except when it is necessary to defend the interests of the Catholic Church. Certainly, making speeches undermining the teachings of the Catholic Church on the sanctity of human life indicates that Fr. Gravel is not the man to defend the Church’s interests; rather he has brought scandal, and his presence is a detriment to the Catholic Church’s ability to provide clear moral leadership...yada, yada, yada."

The next article on the CLC website bewails the use of Human Rights Commissions "to silence and punish people for their ideas and beliefs. That is dangerous and undemocratic, but it is all the more dangerous because the decisions consistently run one-way - against Christians."

Heh. I guess it's ok to silence and punish Christians for their ideas and beliefs if you're a Christian.

Oppose Bill C-484, the "Unborn Victims of Crime Act"
One body. One person. One count.

Update : Kuri at Thought Interrupted has a very heartful post up on this and Ken Epp responds to it in the comments.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Natty Post plumps for the SPP

After it became clear that the main result of the Security and Prosperity Partnership meet-up in Montebello was to alert Canadians to the fact that their country's sovereignty was in deep shit, deep integration's best friends were unanimous in their tough love advice to the ailing SPP's enablers.

Tom d'Aquino of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, Harper's eminence grease Tom Flanagan, the Hudson Institute, the Fraser Institute, John Ibbitson and Neil Reynolds of the Globe and Mail, the usual gang all proposed the same thing.
Don't hide your blight under a Bushel, they all said - explains it to da peeps.

Today, the Natty Post steps up magnificently to this cheerleading task with three, count 'em - three, editorials on how absolutely vital it is to Canada's economic health to sell out to the plummeting rogue plutocracy to the south.

Michael Hart from Carleton U., a NAFTA negotiator, a former official at Foreign Affairs and Int. Trade, and a sometime "deep integration" teacher at the North American University, writes : Canada blew it.
"The crisis of Sept. 11, 2001, provided a perfect opportunity to seize the moment to re-imagine the border, but Canada blew it."
According to Hart, we foolishly we squandered this unique opportunity to implement "the structural and institutional changes of deep integration" because of "nationalist phobias".
Silly us.

Hart laid the deal out rather more clearly when he testified at the Int. Trade Committee on SPP in May last year, you know - the one that Con Chairman Benoit huffed out of in a hissy fit.
"We have made a political choice that we wanted a more deeply integrated North American economy," Hart said. "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."

Uppermost in my mind at the moment, Mike, is the peculiar way you've turned being on the wrong end of Naomi Klein's disaster capitalism into "a perfect opportunity".

Onward to the second Natty Post SPP-plumping editorial of the day...from another Carleton U. guy who happens to be the editor of the Financial Post : U.S. border is killing free trade
Integration just isn't happening fast enough for Terrence Corcoran : Harper's Tories are "complacent" while Stockwell Day's record is "dismal".

Probably because they're hoping to be re-elected, Terry.

And thirdly....Natty Post excerpts from a Woodrow Wilson paper, Economic Integration in North America :
"Canada's monetary independence acts as a major barrier to economic integration.
Until Canada decides to adopt the U.S. dollar, formally or informally, and hitch its business cycle more closely to the American rhythm, further integration will confront natural limits."

Not to be a killjoy or anything but ever since 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 March 1999, and 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.., some clown will occasionally bring up the benefits of joint currency, only to hastily add that they don't of course mean the amero.

"Further integration will confront natural limits."
That, of course, will be us.

H/T : Integrate This

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Great Lakes Danger Zones

The Center For Public Integrity has released pages from a government-suppressed report on environmental toxicity in the air, land, and water surrounding the Great Lakes. Nine million people in 26 "areas of concern" show elevated health rates of infant mortality and cancer - ten of these "areas of concern" are in Canada. They are exposed to dioxin, PCBs, pesticides, lead, mercury, or six other hazardous pollutants.

The report, Public Health Implications of Hazardous Substances in the Twenty-Six U.S. Great Lakes Areas of Concern, was commissioned in 2001 by the International Joint Commission, an independent bilateral organization consisting of six board members appointed by the U.S. and Canadian governments (three from each country with the current US members appointed by Bush) to advise on the use and quality of boundary waters between the two countries. The study was carried out by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Note : and Prevention

Christopher De Rosa, then the director of the ATSDR's division of toxicology and environmental medicine, who oversaw the study and has since been demoted for pushing for its release, has written that blocking publication of the report has "the appearance of censorship of science and distribution of factual information regarding the health status of vulnerable communities."

De Rosa was also the whistle blower on the formaldehyde found in trailers supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

"Canadian biologist Michael Gilbertson, a former IJC staffer and another of the three peer reviewers, told the Center For Public Integrity that the study has been suppressed because it suggests that vulnerable populations have been harmed by industrial pollutants.
Gilbertson : "The whole problem with all this kind of work is wrapped up in that word ‘injury.’ If you have injury, that implies liability. Liability, of course, implies damages, legal processes, and costs of remedial action. The governments, frankly, in both countries are so heavily aligned with, particularly, the chemical industry, that the word amongst the bureaucracies is that they really do not want any evidence of effect or injury to be allowed out there."

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Mangling Question Period

Chet reports another "I know you are but what am I?" Hansard moment :

When questioned about transferring captured prisoners into Afghan hands, Government House Leader Peter Van Loan accused the Liberals of being Taleban sympathizers :
"What we will not do is what the agent for the Taliban intelligence agency wants us to do over here, which is release to them information on detailed operations in the field," he said in the House of Commons.

In addition to being the Government House Leader, Mr. Van Loan is also the Minister For Democratic Renewal.
Yes, that's what we thought too.

Still, for sheer idiocy, it would be hard to beat this "gotcha" moment from Health Minister Tony Clement, as caught by Accidental Deliberations :
"Mr. Speaker, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, we have heard everything from all sides from Liberal opposition members. One week they are saying we did not act soon enough and on another week they are saying we should have acted sooner..."

Apparently unaware he had made a sufficient ass of himself the first time, Mr Clement chose to repeat a variation of it a few moments later.

Ass est longa; vita brevis.

But wait! Suddenly another Contender appears on the horizon...this time in committee.
From Kady O'Malley : Putting the circus back in Pandora's toothpaste

Friday, February 08, 2008

From NAFTA to the SPP

"Designed to shore up the United States’ weakening position as a global hegemon, the SPP’s primary goals are to link economic integration of the three countries to U.S. security needs; deepen U.S. access to oil, gas, electricity, and water resources throughout the continent; and to provide a privileged—and institutionalized—role for transnational corporations in continental deregulation. The stakes for labor, the environment, and civil liberties in all three countries couldn’t be higher. Yet because of the SPP’s reliance on executive authority to push the agenda, many of the SPP’s initiatives remain virtually invisible, even to many activists."

An excerpt from From NAFTA to the SPP, an excellent one page primer on the Security and Prosperity Partnership written by Katherine Sciacchitano at Dollars and Sense, notable for its inclusion of Mexico's role and its acknowledgement of the different reasons the right and the left have for opposing it.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Bowling for Colombians

Daniel García-Peña, VP of the leftist opposition party in Colombia, explains in the simplest possible terms why a free trade agreement would be "very negative for Canada and Colombia." :

"Canadian companies would be attracted to Colombia for all the wrong reasons, namely to take advantage of the country's weak labour, human rights and environmental laws.
Many companies will come to bypass the laws Canada has and take advantage of Colombian standards, which are much lower. In many ways [this could] promote the exploitation of workers."

Furthermore, Mr. García-Peña says, a trade deal could destroy the livelihoods of many small Colombian farmers by flooding the market with subsidized agricultural imports. "The small peasant farmer would be unable to compete with the cheap imports of food," he says. "[This] would wipe them out."
Those who would benefit, he says, are the large agro-businesses in Colombia that would buy up the land of destitute farmers for the production of biodiesel, palm oil and beef for export.

Worst of all, Mr. García-Peña adds, these large agro-businesses have ties to the paramilitary squads at the heart of the ongoing rights abuses and violence in the South American country."

By "abuses and violence", Mr. Garcia-Pena is undoubtedly referring to the Uribe-backed public beheadings of trade unionists, and the murder of 800 union workers, teachers and journalists over the past six years.

US Congressman Michael Michaud, D. Maine, was in Ottawa on Wednesday to shore up opposition against the free trade deal with Colombia. He explained it simply too :
"Once you have a trade deal done, there is no incentive to move forward on human rights," he said.

Anyone having trouble with the reasoning here?

Harper visited Colombia in July 2007 to midwife this Bush-surrogate trade deal. There, with President Uribe at his side, he explained his position :
"When we see a country like Colombia that has decided to address its social, political and economic problems in an integrated way, that wants to embrace democracy and human rights, then we say, 'We're in,' he said."
"We are not going to say fix all your social, political and human rights problems and only then will we engage in trade relations with you.
"That's a ridiculous position," Harper said.


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

SPP and Operation Enduring Freedom

Author Linda McQuaig thumps John Manley for his attempts to wrap Operation Enduring Freedom, better known here in Canada as our mission in Afghanistan, in Lester Pearson's mantle of peacekeeping.

She reminds us that "the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were both illegal under international law, in that neither received [UN] Security Council approval."

"The Manley report implies that the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was endorsed by the Security Council, but Boyle notes that the Security Council resolution cited by Manley in no way authorized military action. Rather, it called for the perpetrators of 9/11 to be brought to justice – suggesting they be dealt with as criminals through extradition and the judicial system, not war.
After invading Afghanistan and toppling the government, Washington won UN authorization for the new government it installed, and for its ongoing intervention through NATO. As a result, the U.S. presence in Afghanistan – like the one in Iraq – now has "a veneer of UN authority," notes Osgoode Hall law professor Michael Mandel.
Manley has long been a proponent of closer relations with the U.S., and he and his panellists met with top U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Yet the Manley report avoids any suggestion that Ottawa's involvement in Afghanistan is about pleasing the Bush administration, which is widely disliked in Canada.
Indeed, the Manley report makes Washington all but disappear, emphasizing the UN and NATO, and Canada's role within NATO.
But NATO is just a military alliance ultimately run by Washington. Indeed, since it came into being in 1950, NATO has always been headed by a U.S. general (currently John Craddock).
In addition to NATO forces in Afghanistan, there are another 13,000 U.S. troops under direct U.S. command. This means that all troops serving in Afghanistan are ultimately under commander-in-chief George W. Bush, whose shadow looms large over the country."

Here at Creekside, we are still waiting for a debate on Manley's previous report, "Building a North American Community", co-authored with William Weld, Mitt Romney's campaign co-chair in New York State, and Pedro Aspé, co-chair of the now infamous North American Forum held in Banff in Sept 2006, at which Manley was a moderator.

UPDATE : Now that we have killed more civilians in Afghanistan than the Taliban in an invasion that has lasted longer than WWII, Liberal Catnip writes in Afghanistan what's wrong with this picture? that when the Cons table a motion on extending the Afghan mission on Thursday, they will probably use Condi's guilt-tripping argument that this is all a really important test of NATO's credibility. Yeah, that's certainly what's important here, isn't it? It's really all about our image, and not really about the people of Afghanistan or securing US markets at all.

Operation Enduring Freedom is in the House

The Cons are pissed the other parties don't want to debate the Manley report on Afghanistan in committee :

Mike Wallace, Con : "Canadians deserve a frank and constructive dialogue on this extremely important issue. Shockingly, the Liberals and the other opposition members voted against openness, frankness and transparency."

Peter MacKay, Con, Min. of Defence : "It seems perfectly logical that members opposite who have been calling for a more open, transparent and substantive debate on the subject of Afghanistan would welcome the seems logical that they would want to have a realistic and substantive debate rather than suggest that the committee should just gloss over these issues.

MacKay then called on Dion to "unleash his members" and let them vote on having a debate, after which Foreign Affairs' Maxime Bernier contributed an openly, a transparently, and two honestlies to the discussion which began on Friday with a couple of shockings and Deepak Obhrai asking, "Why are they afraid of Mr. Manley?

Look, assholes, Canadians do want a debate on whether to continue with Operation Enduring Freedom and they want it held in the House where all members can speak to it.
What Canadians are not interested in is having Manley's little retread of a paper he first wrote three years ago (thank you , Scott Ross) go off to a committee that has already investigated and debated the OEF debacle far more frankly, constructively, openly, transparently, realistically, honestly, and substantively than anything you guys have come up with on your own so far.

Hansard Monday bonus. Harper gives us his verdict on the Canadian workers' report showing that the governor of Kandahar province is suspected of torture : "There is no credible evidence in this case."

Enduring freedom is hard work.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Blindsided by science

So we've all been suitably appalled at this news by now :

NaPo : Environment Canada scientists told to toe the line
"Environment Canada has "muzzled" its scientists, ordering them to refer all media queries to Ottawa where communications officers will help them respond with "approved lines."

Anyone remember George Deutsch?
Deutsch was a young Texas college student who was rewarded for his work on George Bush's campaign with a post as a press secretary at NASA. His job was to water down whatever science was deemed to be inconvenient or embarrassing to the Bush administration. It all went sideways when leading NASA climatologist James Hansen complained that he was being "muzzled", that his reports and studies were modified and censored in order to be more in line with the administration’s political policies, particularly on global warming.

Back to NaPo : "The new policy, which went into force in recent weeks and sent a chill through the department research divisions, is designed to control the department's media message and ensure there are no "surprises" for Environment Minister John Baird and senior management when they open the newspaper or turn on the television"

It is not the job of Environment Canada to ensure that Mr.Baird is not "surprised" by chance encounters with science on TV, and it sure as hell is not the job of "communications officers" and the George Deutsches of the world to interpret that science for us with "approved lines".


Saturday, February 02, 2008

Feb. 2 - Send-a-Mitten-to-Steve Day

The US has a national energy policy.
Mexico has a national energy policy.
Canada has....
Canada has transnational oil companies, NAFTA, and the SPP instead.
Despite exporting 70% of our oil and 61 % of our natural gas every year to the United States, we have no pipelines going east and thus are unable to provide for eastern Canada who must import their oil from Saudi and Albania. NAFTA also prevents us from ever reducing this outflow of our energy resources.
Today, Council of Canadians asks that we email a mitten to Steve, along with a short note demanding that consideration be given to the energy security needs of Canadians. Details here, and a list of cross-Canada action events here.
Yes, I too can think of many other alternative symbols I'd rather mail to Steve other than a mitten, but spare a moment's thought for the hapless posties and go read Five reasons why Canada needs a National Energy Strategy now! instead.

Friday, February 01, 2008

From Hansard :Not-Answering-the-Question Period

Question Period, Jan 31 : Not answering questions about detainees

Dion : "Mr. Speaker, today we heard reports that the government was allowing Afghan forces to take detainees directly during joint operations alongside Canadian mentors.
Because this is not technically a transfer, the detainee transfer agreement does not apply, but beyond technicalities are the immoralities of this practice.
Will the Prime Minister tell Canadians if this unacceptable practice is occurring, yes or no?"

Harper : " Mr. Speaker, as we train the Afghan forces to take more responsibility for the security of their own country, I think it can be assumed that they would also be taking more responsibility for all aspects of the mission."

Dion : "Mr. Speaker, we will get there. The Prime Minister understands the question very well. We are speaking of joint operations. During joint operations, who takes the prisoners? Do the Afghans or the Canadians keep them under their protection? It is a simple question. Prime Minister, what happens during joint operations?"

Harper : "I would assume that if Canadian Forces seize the prisoners they are in Canadian custody and if Afghan forces seize the prisoners I would presume they are in Afghan custody."

Dosanjh : "The government's attempt to circumvent the military's decision to stop detainee transfers is absolutely troubling.
Will the Prime Minister finally come clean with Canadians and admit that it was his government that issued this new policy to circumvent the detainee ban?"

Peter MacKay : blah blah blah "We stand behind the Canadian Forces."

Dosanjh : "We know Canadian Forces conduct joint operations with Afghan soldiers. There are prisoners detained by those Afghan soldiers. Do Correctional Service Canada officials have access to and the ability to inspect those detainees?"

Stockwell Day : "Mr. Speaker, we are very proud of members of Correctional Service Canada because when people volunteer, and these people are volunteers, to go to a country like Afghanistan they do so knowing the risks.
We are very pleased with how those individuals have been working with Afghan authorities, DND and others in the process of trying to demonstrate the types of things that we do here in this country which can guarantee or at least further the causes and interests of human rights everywhere. They are doing a great job."

They can keep this up forever. And they do.

Which "course" are we "staying" till 2011 exactly?

A 23 year old Afghani journalism student has been sentenced to death for downloading material about women's rights off the internet.
Sayed Pervez Kambaksh was convicted of blasphemy by a religious court for distributing "a report from a Farsi website which stated that Muslim fundamentalists who claimed the Koran justified the oppression of women had misrepresented the views of the prophet Mohamed."

The Afghan Senate passed a motion yesterday confirming the death sentence. The MP who proposed the ruling condemning Mr Kambaksh is a key ally of Afghan President Karzai.
Malalai Joya : "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. 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."

Insert obligatory remark here from any Canadian Con MP about all our wonderful work painting the little Afghan schoolhouses for the little Afghan girls.

Then go and sign the petition at the Independent to free a young journalist who will otherwise be executed for the crime of passing around a paper about women's rights to fellow students and teachers at his university. Go.

Feb.2 Update : 38,000 signed the petition, and along with support from Reporters Without Borders, Malalai Joya, and some British MPs, successfully pressured the Afghan Senate to withdraw its confirmation of a death sentence on Mr. Kambaksh.
Score one for petitions.

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