Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Pro-lifer" : Just another name for "terrorist"

Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, responded to the gunning down of Dr. George Tiller in his church today by saying he "reaped what he sowed."

From Kos : "The alleged assassin, Scott Roeder, was an active member of Operation Rescue. On an Operation Rescue website called Charge Tiller (which in the last 30 minutes or so has been taken down), there's this comment, posted on Monday, September 3, 2007, by a Scott Roeder from Kansas, almost certainly the same Scott Roeder alleged to have assassinated Tiller:

"It seems as though what is happening in Kansas could be compared to the "lawlessness" which is spoken of in the Bible. Tiller is the concentration camp "Mengele" of our day and needs to be stopped before he and those who protect him bring judgement upon our nation."

McClatchy : Suspect supported killing abortion providers, friends say
"I know that he believed in justifiable homicide," said Regina Dinwiddie, a Kansas City anti-abortion activist. Roeder also was a subscriber to Prayer and Action News, a magazine that advocated the justifiable homicide position, said publisher Dave Leach, an anti-abortion activist from Des Moines, Iowa.

"Pro-lifer" is just another word for "terrorist" .


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Canadian media : Lapdogs vs watchdogs

An opinion piece in yesterday's Star, Learning from media mistakes in the Arar case, castigates the Canadian media for its role in uncritically passing on anonymous government leaks intended to vilify Maher Arar in the eyes of the Canadian public, both before and after he was exonerated.
As author Mariam Sheibani states : The irony in Arar's case is that while the government vehemently refused to disclose information on the basis of national security confidentiality, public officials routinely divulged selective fragments of "classified" information to reporters :

"In November 2002, Canadian Press journalist Stephen Thorne quoted an official source that linked Arar to "a suspected member of Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist network." The reference was to Abdullah Almalki, who we now know, thanks to the Iacobucci inquiry, is also innocent of all such allegations.
Looking back, Thorne realizes he was being used to smear the men."

"Many of the leaks were strategically timed to detract from increasing media and public scrutiny about the potential complicity of Canadian agencies in Arar's detention and torture. For instance, soon after then prime minister Jean Chrétien declared that he would intervene to bring Arar home from Syria, Robert Fife, CanWest's Ottawa bureau chief, ran a story on the front pages of several newspapers that cited an anonymous official who described Arar as a "very bad guy" who had received training at an Al Qaeda base. Fife also noted that intelligence received from Syria had helped the CIA avert an attack on the U.S. embassy in Ottawa.
Justice O'Connor noted that "the apparent purpose behind this leak is not attractive: to attempt to influence public opinion against Mr. Arar at a time when his release from imprisonment in Syria was being sought by the government of Canada, including the prime minister."

"In October 2003, Canadian government officials falsely stated that Arar had said he was not physically tortured, and proffered incriminating information that officials claimed Arar had confessed to. Unnamed officials also told Craig Oliver at CTV News that Arar was only released because he had given information to the Syrians about Al Qaeda and about other Canadians suspected of terrorism activities. Oliver later explained that he felt the story was credible because his sources were senior officials in two different government departments.
Nonetheless, years after the Arar inquiry's report, he apologized to Arar in person for running the story."

Following Arar's national news conference on his return to Canada, a sympathetic public was demanding an inquiry. Then just days later :
"On Nov. 8, 2003, the Ottawa Citizen's Juliet O'Neill ran a story headlined "Canada's dossier on Maher Arar: The existence of a group of Ottawa men with alleged ties to Al Qaeda is at the root of why the government opposes an inquiry into the case."

"Near the end of December 2003, Robert Fife was once more the vehicle that Canadian and U.S. intelligence officials used to inform the public that they were "100 per cent sure" that Arar trained at an Al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan."

I'll stop there before I wind up quoting the whole thing.

The stated purpose of the piece is to warn the press against relinquishing its role of independent watchdog in favor of becoming merely a lapdog purveyor of leaked government propaganda, but what I took away from it was the realization that none of these public service leakers of strategic falsehoods have ever been called to account for their attempts to ruin a citizen's life in the service of their government. Presumably they are still secure in their work behind the scenes, dripping the poison of the day into the public discourse via a mostly complicit and largely uncritical media.

One last quote from Sheibani:

"Many journalists, such as Jeff Sallot and Haroon Siddiqui, have been pointing to the need for a public debate on how to ensure such mistakes are not repeated.
According to Siddiqui, whereas the government has been "put under the microscope by two eminent judges ... only the media continues to escape detailed public scrutiny."

This scrutiny is imperative, especially given that similar leaks occurred in the media coverage of the cases of Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin – three Canadians who were detained and tortured at the same Syrian jail, and recently exonerated by the Iacobucci inquiry. Leaks also continue to appear in coverage of security certificate detainee Adil Charkaoui's case and that of Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen currently being held in Sudan."

And so it goes ...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Canada Pension Plan corporate welfare

The Star : "Four top executives of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board pocketed nearly $7 million in bonuses this year despite losing $24 billion of taxpayers' money in bad investments, according to the board's annual report released yesterday. Their investments lost 18.6% of their value. "
Plus as NUPGE reports, "they are due another $7 million in long-term awards that will be paid out over the next three fiscal years."
This is on top of their salaries, of which Dennison's is almost $½-million a year, compared to Stephen Harper at $315,400 a year and the average CPP retirement benefit for Canadians at around $6000.

CPP Investment Board chair Robert Astley explains that the size of these bonuses ... wait for it ... "enables us to compete for talent within the private sector world of capital markets."
Hard to believe, isn't it?

I mean, as Canadians we have millions of our hard-earned dollars invested for us by CPP in war profiteers like Halliburton, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin, not to mention Monsanto, Walmart and the US tobacco industry, and yet somehow the CPP comes up short.

You would think the war on terra would pay better, and not just to CPP CEOs.

Say, whatever happened to those Principles for Responsible Investing CPP proudly signed onto with the United Nations Environment Programme Financial Initiative (UNEPFI)? Are cluster bombs and land mines mentioned on there somewhere?

"Before the CPP Investment Board was created, Canada Pension Plan savings were invested entirely in government bonds. Canadians were told that we could make higher returns on these savings if they were invested in the stock market and in private investments instead.

Out of interest, I calculated what these returns would have been if the initial investment had been left in government bonds and if these funds and all the further net transfers to the CPPIB had been reinvested in long-term government of Canada bonds at their yield for each year since 1999.

These calculations show that leaving these investments in long-term bonds would have earned about $36.5 billion over the past decade: $13 billion more (and 50% higher) than the CPP Investment Board earned."

We'd have been better off both ethically and financially if public pensions had continued to be invested in public debt.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The National Post is having another one of its "Iran Eyes Badges for Jews" moments

You remember that one, no?

This time round the headline goes : Toronto Pride organizers ban anti-Zionist group
By Joseph Brean, National Post

"Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA), an anti-Zionist protest group that made corporate sponsors squirm by flying banners at last year’s Toronto Pride parade, has been banned this year, along with any other group that would advance a political agenda.
“We will be very much more careful this year. We will make sure that we have a presence to ensure that people don’t slip into the parade,” Pride Toronto executive director Tracey Sandilands said today.

Her announcement came with a warning to grand marshall El-Farouk Khaki not to use his ceremonial position as a pulpit to promote an anti-Israeli boycott.

Frank Dimant, executive vice-president of B’nai Brith Canada, today called for disciplinary action against Mr. Khaki, a founder of the national support group Salaam: Queer Muslim Community, because he spoke to a QuAIA event on the weekend."

Yeah, whatever, Frank.

But what's this? In the comments section below the NaPo article, Pride Co-Chair Mark Singh shows up :

"In response to concerns about political messaging in the Pride Parade, Pride Toronto released a statement outlining its position on this issue. This article incorrectly claims that Pride Toronto has banned political messages from the Pride Parade. [snip]

We have asked the National Post to correct the inaccurate statements in this article to no avail.
We invite any who are concerned to read the statement posted in the Press Room of our website (
Mark Singh
Pride Toronto"

followed a few comments further on by a letter copied from Pride director Tracey Sandilands, source of the quotes for NaPo mischief :

"WE WILL NOT BE TAKING SIDES IN ANY POLITICAL ISSUE AND WILL NOT BE BANNING ANY GROUP that participates within the boundaries of the laws of Canada and our anti-discrimination policy. [snip]

Also, at no time in our interview did I say anything about ‘warning' El Farouk.
I would appreciate it if you could amend this before final publication.

Tracey Sandilands,

Executive Director

Well that would seem clear enough.
However, undaunted by requests from both a Pride Co-Chair and the Pride director he interviewed that his bogus article be fixed - and the picture gracing the front page of the Pride Toronto website clearing showing the "End Israeli Apartheid" banner, NaPo reporter Joseph Brean replies in his own comment section that he stands by his article :

"I am the author of this article. It was my decision, approved by editors, to use the term "ban" to mean that QuAIA, which marched in last year's parade, will not be permitted to do so this year.
Anonymous accusations that this article, which presents comment from people on all sides of this issue, is "false" and that I am "intentionally spreading lies" are silly and wrong."
So there you have it - accusations from the source of his interview that his article is "false" are "silly and wrong".

Well done, NaPo. Some traditions die hard, don't they?

Bring on the Transparent Badges for Atheists !

h/t Rabble, Mycroft in comments at the NaPo article, and the divine Ms Z posting at BreadnRoses, who promises a column on this at The Star tomorrow.
Update : From Antonia Zerbisias column today, as promised.

"So it's pretty rich when the language of gay oppression is used against Toronto's Pride parade, to be held June 28, by another group that purports to champion human rights.
Especially a group that is openly aligned with anti-gay rights Christian fundamentalists such as Charles McVety, Canada's most vocal lobbyist against same-sex marriage, and John Hagee, who claimed God sent Hurricane Katrina to stop "a homosexual parade."
This is what happened last week when B'nai Brith issued a news release asserting that the gay community's "agenda" was being "hijacked by anti-Israel agitators."
So Napo got caught out carrying some editorial water for Dimant. Somehow I suspect this is not over.
Antonia also blogged the background story : Banner Day

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Canada-US border : thicker but fuzzier

For all the wringing of hands in the national press about how US security concerns are resulting in a "thicker Canada-US border", scant attention is paid to how that border is also getting blurrier, unless to repeat government assurances that it is not.

Case in point is yesterday's announcement of the Shiprider program, signed Monday by Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano - an agreement "designed to increase border security by allowing the RCMP and the U.S. Coast Guard to team up and ride in each others' vessels during border patrols."

Van Loan said the pact shouldn't be viewed as Americans encroaching on the jurisdiction of Canada because it's a joint effort between both countries.
And he stressed that security and trade between the two countries can be mutually beneficial.
"Because of the integration of our North American economies ... effective management of the border is essential to the health of both of our countries' economies," said Van Loan.

According to former diplomat Paul Frazer, Canadians shouldn't be alarmed by the prospect of foreign officers policing Canada's waters.
"It's not a one way kind of operation," he told CTV's Power Play from Washington on
Frazer stressed that the new plan is a quid-pro-quo deal for Canada.
"You will have Canadian authorities aboard American boats, going into American waters, and the reverse coming into Canadian waters."

Right. That sounds fair : the flea will ride on the elephant and then the elephant will ride on the flea.
A couple of points not covered by our enthusiastic media but clearly stated in the agreement :

COMMITTED to the prevention, detection, suppression, investigation, and prosecution of any criminal offence or violation of law related to border enforcement including, but not limited to, the illicit drug trade, migrant smuggling, trafficking of firearms, the smuggling of counterfeit goods and money, and terrorism

based on joint Canada-United States threat and risk assessment and coordinated with existing cooperative cross-border policing programs and activities.

That seems rather ... broad, considering that any "integrated cross-border maritime law enforcement operation" may also continue "on land" and include "aerial support".

But where it gets weird is the section called Information Sharing.
Info is not to be "further shared" with "a non-participating government agency or a foreign country" without "the consent of the participating agency sharing the information" ... "unless the use or further sharing is required by its domestic laws" or there are "exigent circumstances".

Exigent circumstances.

All of which is merely fleshing out the details of last year's Canada-US pact allowing cross-border military activity , following the disclosure two years earlier that 30% of FBI agents operating in Canada do so without the knowledge or approval of the Canadian government.

Well now we have yet another agreement to legalize the decline of Canadian sovereignty.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Indefinite detention : "Twenty minutes into the future"

In the late great dystopian tv show Max Headroom, whenever a crime was committed, suspects were arrested, profiled, and then the most likely perp was sentenced via a big spinning wheel of "consequences" on the tv game show that had replaced the courts.

Canadian content : Hey, David Emerson, how's your "one security perimeter" Project North America coming along?


Jason Kenney takes another shot at equating leftists with Nazis

Some use of Israel was required...
Haaretz , May 25, 2009 :
A "new anti-Semitism" that emanates from an alliance of Western leftists and Islamic extremists is more dangerous than the "old European" form of Jew-hatred, Canada's minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism said as he wound up a four-day trip to Israel Sunday.

"The existential threat faced by Israel on a daily basis is ultimately a threat to the broader Western civilization," said Jason Kenney, explaining the staunchly pro-Israel positions of his government, led by Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

"It's a threat that comes from profoundly undemocratic forces that don't have the same conception of human dignity or freedom, and which abuse Israel as a kind of representative of the broader West and Western liberal-democratic values," said Kenney. "I also very acutely understand the nature of the new anti-Semitism, and I think it's even more dangerous than the old European anti-Semitism."

What a load of toadying opportunistic crap.

What's dangerous, Jason, is your government's new rebranding of anti-Semitism - one that seeks to conflate criticism of Israel with hatred of Jews, thus making a mockery of all genuine struggles against anti-Semitism.

Israel is not criticized for being a Jewish state; Israel is criticized for war crimes.

Jewish Canadians Concerned about Suppression of Criticism of Israel

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Gordon Campbell to "axe the tax" ?

When Gordon Campbell won the BC election by 4% of the vote a scant 10 days ago, the headline at DeSmogBlog read : "Carbon Tax Wins : Cheap Politics Loses"

Just prior to the election, David Suzuki appeared on the front page of the G&M warning of dire consequences "If Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell goes down because of [the NDP's] axe the tax campaign".

G&M again : "Environmentalists vow to punish NDP for plan to dismantle B.C.'s carbon tax"
"The David Suzuki Foundation, the Pembina Institute and Forest Ethics jointly stated that "thousands of jobs in the green economy will be lost, and the province will lose its position as an environmental leader if the (first North American carbon) tax is dropped."

From the webpage of Plutonic Power, environmental activist Tzeporah Berman chimed in : "There is no question that environmentalists should be punishing the NDP..."

The environmental movement promptly blew up between "environmental" supporters of Campbell and his useless carbon tax, versus those like Raif Mair and Alex Morton who argued that the rest of Gordo's environmental policies included the privatizing of BC rivers in the run-of-river goldrush, open-cage fish farms, the end of the 35-year oil-tanker moratorium, Enbridge pipelines running across BC from Alberta to Kitimat to deliver tarsands oil to foreign markets, coalbed methane development, offshore oil drilling, and the return of grizzly bear trophy hunting.
Group 2's ideas, you will not be surprised to learn, did not get the same solid rotation afforded Gordo by his endorsers at the G&M and Canwest.

Whatever. The damage was done and Gordo the environmental premier got his 4% win.

So it's a bit much to read in yesterday's Province that with the election under his belt, Gordo is now considering "axing the tax" himself in favour of the US cap-and-trade system :
"Campbell now says he might strangle his own carbon-tax baby in the cradle.
In one of the great under-reported stories of the B.C. election, Campbell revealed the carbon tax will be reviewed in 2012 and might be frozen in place at 7.24 cents per litre of gas and not rise any further.

But wait: Isn't the whole point of a carbon tax to keep jacking it up every year until people stop burning those evil fossil fuels? Even Campbell's own climate-change adviser, economist Mark Jaccard, says the tax must rise to 24 cents a litre and higher over a decade and beyond to be effective.
But Campbell told me that may not be necessary, if cap-and-trade does the same job

The irony here is that this is exactly what NDP Leader Carole James was arguing when she promised to scrap the carbon tax in favour of cap-and-trade.
She was vilified for doing it while Campbell was hailed as some kind of visionary."

Suckered again by Liberal "environmentalists".

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Toke

What an absolutely spliffy design :
"Suzanne Reeves, the Vancouver organizing committee's director of communications for the Olympic torch relay, said she has taken the torch across the country and people's faces light up when they get the chance to hold it.
The torch officially is meant to resemble the lines left behind by skiers and skaters on snow and ice."

...lines left behind by skiers and skaters...?
The design is a joint collaboration between VANOC and Bombadier. I wonder how many other budding designs were weeded out before they potted this one.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Welcome to the Banana Republic of Canada

In the wake of the O'Connor and Iacobucci public inquiries into the role CSIS played in the torture of Canadians overseas, a new government rulebook of guidelines was issued to CSIS and blandishments were offered by the ministers in charge.

What's in the new rulebook? Pogge blogged yesterday about a copy obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act that is so heavily censored it is impossible to tell whether the new guidelines adequately address the recommendations laid out by O'Connor and Iacobucci to prevent future torture such as that visited upon Maher Arar, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati, and Muayyed Nureddin. As Pogge wrote :
"When representatives of government and its agencies assure us that they're playing by the rules, it's a little difficult to judge the accuracy of their claims when we're not allowed to know what those rules are."

This was also the position our elected representatives on the Committee on Public Safety and National Security found themselves in back in March during its Review of the Findings and Recommendations of the Iacobucci and O'Connor Reports. Despite persistent straightforward questions from the Liberals and Bloc members - Do we condone torture? Do we still use information derived from torture? - the dodging and weaving from CSIS lawyer Geoffrey O'Brian left these questions largely unanswered.
A brief media flurry resulted from his opening statements that there is no absolute ban on the use of information derived from torture when "lives are at stake", but this was immediately laid to rest the next day when the word "knowingly" was added by Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan", as in "we don't knowingly use info extracted by torture". It's the Don't ask, Don't tell Intel.

As O'Brian explained to the committee : "Three individuals are suing the government for several hundred million dollars, therefore we cannot discuss anything that would indicate that the government is in agreement with Iacobucci's findings."

He is aided in this avoidance of accountability by the six Con members on the committee running interference on tough questions from the Libs and the Bloc. From my notes of that session -not exact quotes :

Maria Mourani, Bloc : I'd like to ask about our questioning of Omar Khadr in Guantanamo ...
Dave MacKenzie, Con : Point of order : what's the relevance?
Mourani : Khadr was tortured and Canadians paid CSIS to contribute.
Chair Garry Breitkreuz, Con : I don't understand the relevance.
Mourani : I want to know did CSIS use information from Khadr obtained under torture?
MacKenzie : Point of order - Mourani is on a fishing trip.
I'll just give you a moment to let that one sink in.

Mourani : I'll rephrase the question : Is information obtained under torture?
Chair, Breitkreuz : Witnesses cannot comment on individual cases.
Mark Holland, Lib : But the questiuon is central to this inquiry.
Rathgeber, Con : Point of order. Not relevant. Stick to Iacobucci and O'Connor reports.

Which, you will recall, O'Brian has already said cannot be commented on due to ongoing litigation.

Menard, Bloc : Mourani is right. This is central to the O'Connor and Iacobucci reports. What we want to know is: Is torture still endorsed?
Mourani : Answer my question.

O'Brian, eventually : "I reject the premise of the question"

And thus CSIS informs elected members of parliament - the peoples' representatives - sitting on a committee whose mandate is to provide public oversight on intelligence agencies - to stuff it.

A couple of years ago I was sitting in a bar in the States discussing politics with some university students. "How are things up there after the coup?" one of them asked.
Me : *blink* *blink*
"Perhaps you don't call it a coup," said another helpfully.
We not only don't call it a coup, we don't even ever refer to it.
In 2006 as Liberal PM Paul Martin was set to be re-elected, RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli went public with a criminal investigation into rumoured leaks of the Liberal decision not to tax income trusts and that was the end of the Libs. Nothing came of the investigation save one lone bureaucrat pocketing some loot. No inquiry was ever launched into why the head of the national police force, himself later disgraced over Arar, in effect threw the outcome of a national election.

And exactly which intelligence agencies are responsible for the continued incarceration of Omar Khadr and the ongoing banishment of Abousfian Abdelrazik? Well we don't really know.

What we do know is that we have lost public oversight over our police and intelligence agencies. Isn't this the kind of thing we used to sneer at "banana republics" for?

Monday, May 18, 2009

And now - your late night mid-holiday spectacularly unpopular Afghanistan news dump

Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced today in Afghanistan that "Canada may well stay in Afghanistan beyond its 2011 military mandate" blah blah blah "subject to the will of the people" blah blah.
By "people" I presume he is referring to Steve, Iggy, and Obama.
You're shocked, I'm sure.

The G&M reports that "Defence Construction Canada wants to buy 400 more beds at the Kandahar Air Field by next year, at a cost of $5-million, with an option to build 400 more."

I guess we're intending to open the world's largest B&B over there after 2011.

MacKay also announced that we're giving up that whole taking and holding territory thing in favour of closing down outposts and redeploying inside Kandahar City. Likewise in Kabul, foreign embassies are being relocated to a diplomatic quarter to be built next to Kabul airport. With Afghan authorities claiming that 140 civilians were killed by U.S fighter planes this month in southwest Afghanistan, bunkering down inside Baghdad-style Green Zones is probably a good idea.
Say, I'll bet now that Obama has put Cheney's torturer in charge of Afghanistan, things will brighten right up over there.

Btw, if you've ever wanted a job that entails driving around drunk with your buddies and some loaded weapons, crashing your vehicle, and then firing on oncoming cars and killing people allegedly, you could do no better than to forward your resumé to Blackwater/Xe/Paravant/Whatever in Afghanistan.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Gay Agenda

Graphic pillaged from The Hand Mirror , where it is noted that "Convincing people to mind their own business might be harder than taking over the world and making it fabulous."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Muldoon and the Oliphant

"The time has come," the Oliphant said,
"To talk of many things:
Of envelopes stuffed with wads of cash
And if they came with strings--
Perhaps you only beat the rap
Because the pigs were schwings*."

"But wait a bit," the Muldoon cried,
"Before we have our chat;
I have complaints to make," he said,
"Regarding Steve the Fat."
"No Hurry," said the Oliphant,
"There's always time for that...

But was that 'pasta' money used
To give Joe Clark the axe?
Is turning noodles into LAVs
A job for party hacks?
Did you stash that $300,000
To avoid a fulsome tax?"

"O weep for me," the Muldoon said:
"For all of it is lies."
With sobs and tears he socked away
His 2 million dollar prize,
And held his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

* "After years of investigating Mulroney, the RCMP never found out about his job with Schreiber or the now infamous cash payments. However, the Mounties did chauffeur Mulroney to the hotel at Mirabel Airport where he picked up the first batch of thousand dollar bills."
Additionally the Canadian public had to fork over $2.1-mil to stem the flood of tears.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The return of the North American Competitiveness Council, now with "spiritual vision"

We have yet another new contender in the "Project North America" sweepstakes.

The Standing Commission on North American Prosperity
or "N.A. 2050"

"A united effort of distinguished individuals from Mexico, Canada and the USA to provide sound economic and social policy guidance to the political leaders of the three countries for the prosperity of all peoples of North America.

In the aftermath of NAFTA and the SSP initiatives, a vacuum presently exists in developing a vision for North American prosperity. The lack of such a vision jeopardizes previous achievements in building strong economic ties across North America made during the past 15 years.

The Commission will be composed of up to 200 members from the 3 countries. The Commission will be governed by a Board of Trustees of 10 members per country and an Executive Committee of 2 members per country.

The Commission will meet 3 times a year and will provide "A North American Prosperity" White paper to the leaders of the three countries upon conclusion of each session.
Membership on the Commission is by invitation only.

Former President of Mexico Vicente Fox addressed the inaugural summit this week. A former Coca-Cola executive whose grandfather hails from Cincinatti, Fox was president of Mexico from 2000-2006 and signed the Security and Prosperity Partnership with Bush and Paul Martin in March 2005. From his keynote address on May 12 :
"If we are together‚ the U.S.‚ Mexico and Canada‚ no doubt we’ll be number one – the number one economy‚ the number one market‚ the number one consumer market – in the world.
My dream is that we will not have a border."

This must be what got the Canadian deep integrationists all jacked up last week. Canada falling behind, oh noes!
Canada was represented at the summit by World Bank and IMF luminary Dr. Peter Appleton, who has gone south to become president of the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce, sponsor of N.A. 2050 :
"If ever there was a match in theory that was made in heaven, it is North America. Canada and Mexico both have the oil supply and the United States needs resources. Why can't we work together? Ronald Regan took down the Berlin wall and we've spent the last 10 years putting one up. Where's the logic in that? How is that fair?"

Um, yeah.

Of course no deep integration project is complete without the guiding presence of Robert "I am a North American" Pastor to provide that vision thing :
"The European Union called on all people to unite. North America didn't do anything like that with NAFTA. We didn't have a spiritual vision past anything other than a business contract."

Yeah, bring on that North American spiritual vision. Summit entry fee - $1000US.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

BC Election 2009 : Four more years

Preliminary Results from Elections BC :

LINO Party : 49 seats - with 46% of popular vote
NDP : 36 seats - with 42% of the popular vote
Greens down to 8% of popular vote
Voter turnout under 50% - a record low for BC
BC-STV goes down with only 38% support, compared to just under 58% in 2005.
Fuck. Who wants pie?


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

BC Election 2009 : One more time with feeling...

BC for Sale from Twyla Roscovich on Vimeo.

Gordon Campbell's accomplishments in office to date :

  • Massive salary increases to himself - 54%- and Cabinet, and political appointees- twice - but
  • Refused to raise minimum wage
  • Failed to hold regular legislature sessions - twice
  • Gateway Project
  • $900-million leaky convention centre
  • Sold off BC Rail after campaigning on promise not to.
  • Sold off Terasen Gas, formerly BC Gas
  • Privatized power generation in run-of-rivers
  • Passed Bill 30 to prevent local veto of run-of-rivers
  • Removed government accountability for BC Ferries
  • Privatized hospital cleaning and food services
  • Privatized BC Health accounting to US firm Maximus
  • Privatized some healthcare jobs
  • Reduced funding for BC Ombudsman
  • Increase in fish farm licences
  • Exported raw logs, closing mills
  • Removed land from the Agricultural Land Reserve
  • Tax cuts for the rich
  • Gave part of BC Hydro over to Accenture
  • Vancouver Convention Centre cost over-runs
  • Sea-to-Sky Highway cost over-runs
  • Bizarre Olympics budgeting
  • Gutted Ministry of Environment
  • Permits for private resorts in public parks
  • Deregulated private forest lands
  • Reduced number of park rangers
  • Increased post secondary fees
  • Reduced number of long term care beds for seniors
  • Renoviction legislation
  • Promoted Port Mann Bridge as P-3 - failed
  • Lobby legislation not enforced
  • Lifted moratorium on trophy hunting of grizzly bears
  • Highest rate of child poverty in Canada 5 years running, but
  • Eliminated the Independent Office of the Child, Youth and Family Advocate

Vote today to get rid of this sorry bunch of rebranded Reform carpetbaggers and corporate frontmen.

Then Vote Yes for STV so you can vote for whoever you want to next time.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

BC Election 2009 : Stop me if you've heard this one before..

Canwest Vancouver Sun, May 7, 2009 :
Sterk no 'cranky NDPer'
"B.C. Green party leader Jane Sterk, who voted for the Reform party in the 1993 federal election, said Wednesday that it's wrong to view her party's members as "just some group of cranky NDPers" who left the centre-left party.
Sterk said she has voted for Reform, the Conservatives and the Liberals, but never for the New Democrats."

Canwest Vancouver Sun, May 8, 2009 :
Campbell and the Liberals have earned right to a third term

"James and her shadow cabinet have failed to demonstrate that they have either a credible platform or the leadership capacity to persuade us that British Columbians will be better off over the next four years with a change in government."
Globe and Mail, May 8, 2009 :
No time to turn from a steady hand
"The greatest achievement of Gordon Campbell, who will seek his third term as premier on Tuesday, is to have brought a measure of calm and stability to his province.
British Columbians could make matters considerably worse by forgoing Mr. Campbell's calm leadership in favour of a party that is mostly telling them what it thinks they want to hear. Now is not the time to risk a return to erratic governance."
The G&M and Canwest papers have always issued formal endorsements of Gordo and Harper in elections but this time there is an additional raft of paid consultants to the Libs gracing their pages on a daily basis. Here is what they are lending their name to in endorsing Gordo :

Massive salary increases to himself, Cabinet, and political appointees- twice
Failed to hold legislature sessions - twice
Sold off BC Rail after campaigning on promise not to.
Sold off Terasen Gas, formerly BC Gas
Privatized power generation in run-of-rivers
Passed Bill 30 to prevent local veto of run-of-rivers
Privatized Removed government accountability for BC Ferries
Privatized hospital cleaning and food services
Privatized BC Health accounting
Privatized some healthcare jobs
Increase in fish farm licences
Exported raw logs, closing mills
Removal of land from the Agricultural Land Reserve
Tax cuts for the rich
Gave part of BC Hydro over to Accenture
Vancouver Convention Centre cost over-runs
Sea-to-Sky Highway cost over-runs
Bizarre Olympics budgeting
Gutted Ministry of Environment
Permits for resorts in public parks
Deregulated private forest lands
Reduced number of park rangers
Increased post secondary fees
Reduced number of long term care beds for seniors
Renoviction legislation
Promoted Port Mann Bridge as P-3 - failed
Lobby legislation not enforced
Lifted moratorium on trophy hunting of grizzly bears
Highest rate of child poverty in Canada 5 years running

To be continued ...

Friday, May 08, 2009

BC Election 2009 : Water pressure

First there were documents from the much-beleaguered BC Ministry of the Environment revealing that run-of-river power projects breach environmental regulations - cutting down old-growth forest, construction during bird breeding season, that sort of thing - with government officials involved saying "they can't discuss what they found until after next week's provincial election.".

Now today we get this :
Environment ministry faces 'substantial pressure' from power producers, documents say

"Ministry of Environment officials sometimes face "substantial pressure" from IPP [Independent Power Project] proponents to exempt them from wildlife and habitat protection regulations that apply to the forestry sector -- and ministry staff are recommending that requests for exemptions be passed along to politicians rather than dealt with by civil servants"
"Recommended Option : If a Regional Manager does not wish to issue the exemption, it would elevate to the Minister."

Say what?
You mean the same Liberal politicians who have received $800,000 in political donations from that IPP industry and its supporters over the past 8 years would be making the call on whether specific IPPs are exempt from environmental regulation?
Good lord.
h/t Ivan in comments

BC Election 2009 : Farmed and dangerous

A map of factory fish farms operating in BC in 2008 in the upper part of the Inside Passage, compiled from data at the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands by Living Oceans. I hope they will forgive my scribbling on their original map.
Surprising how far up the rivers used by migrating wild salmon they go, isn't it? And 90% of the farmed fish goes straight to US markets.

Local marine biologist Alex Morton, who has been studying this for 20 years, asks : Why are we allowing Norwegian companies to treat Canada's coast like a litter box?
In February she won a court decision to have control of granting fish farm licences wrested from Gordo and the provincial government and sent back to the Feds so they fall under the Fisheries Act.
All it would take is setting a concrete timeline for the industry's move to closed containment of the farmed salmon so their sea lice don't continue to kill the wild salmon migrating past them.
Has Gordon Campbell, "the environmental premier", signalled any willingness to do this? No. Instead he has filed an appearance with the court, allowing him the option of contesting the court decision - after the election.
On May 12, vote to save our salmon.

David Emerson : Project North America

In yesterday's Sun, deep integration fluffer Barbara Yaffe writes :

"Influential former federal minister and leading business executive David Emerson is calling on Canada to lead a new charge on continental integration.
He calls his idea Project North America."

Gosh what a snappy name. A bit too similar perhaps to University of Arizona's North America Project or North American Future Project from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, but as rebranding the SPP goes, it beats the hell out of Yaffe's choice a year ago - North American Standards and Regulations Area - which somehow never really caught on.

But who better to relaunch The Big Idea than David Emerson? As VP of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, he signed their North American Security and Prosperity Initiative in 2003, and then two years later as Canada's Minister of Trade he signed its government-sponsored successor : the Security and Prosperity Partnership.

Mind you he's gone right off variations on that name :

"The SPP "has become code for some kind of conspiracy to destroy the sovereignty of the participating countries. Hokum for the most part but [the notion] has received a fair amount of media play."

Silly us.

In February Emerson called once again for a North American security perimeter and greater integration on regulations.

Now if we can just get over our unfortunate tendency to see government and industry collaborating behind closed doors to deregulate and militarize the country without any public input or scrutiny as some kind of a conspiracy...


Thursday, May 07, 2009

UN : Canada free to bring Abdelrazik home

Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon in the House of Commons on Monday :
"Mr. Abdelrazik is on the list established by the United Nations Security Council as an individual with ties to al-Qaeda. Therefore, he is subject to a travel ban and an asset freeze. Our government is taking its obligations seriously and that is why we are not going to issue him a travel document to return home."
G&M : Richard Barrett, co-ordinator of the UN's Al-Qaeda and Taliban Monitoring Team, which oversees the various United Nations resolutions establishing the blacklist on which Mr. Abdelrazik was placed at the request of Washington in 2006 :
"Canada is free to bring Abousfian Abdelrazik home and doesn't need to ask for permission"
Addressing the Justice Department's argument that "it is geographically impossible for [Mr. Abdelrazik] to travel from Sudan to Canada by air, land or sea without transiting through the sovereign territories (land, airspace or territorial waters) of numerous UN member states which are bound at international law to prevent such transit, " Mr. Barrett stated :

"The overflight states don't come into it and they haven't ever come into it."

Well there goes legal bullshit argument#1 of the Government of Canada vs Abdelrazik, being argued today in the Supreme Court of Canada.

This just leaves Justice Department bullshit legal argument #2 : that Abdelrazik is :
"close to Abu Zubaydah, a former lieutenant of Osama bin Laden, involved in al-Qaeda training and recruitment."
That would be Abu Zubaydah, the half-wit waterboarded 83 times to coerce a false confession linking Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda in order to justify the invasion of Iraq.
For those able to attend, the hearing today is at Supreme Court, West courtroom, 301 Wellington Street, Ottawa at 9:30am.
Wear a suit, bring pitchforks.
Harper's quest to turn Canada into an outpost of apology for the worst crimes of the Bush era shames us all.
And thank you, Paul Koring at the G&M, for your ongoing excellent coverage of Abdelrazik's plight.
Update : Dr. Dawg attended Thursday and will update again when he returns from Friday's hearing.

Run-of-river power projects breach environment regulations

"Inspection reports and emails obtained by CBC News show B.C. government officials have raised concerns about environmental infractions during the construction of the rapidly growing number of run-of-river private power projects in the province.

Last fall, inspectors from the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Forests and Range — who dubbed themselves "strike teams" — dropped in on the construction sites of several private run-of-river hydro projects."

Here is what they found:
  • Sloppy construction that could damage streams.
  • Overcutting old-growth forest.
  • Inadequate sewage treatment at work camps.
  • Construction during bird breeding season.
  • Replanting with non-native species.

No one was charged or fined for the violations.

"Other email obtained by CBC News shows that at the time of the inspections, the company behind the projects complained in several emails that the scrutiny was redundant and interfered with construction.
When interviewed by CBC News, Jackie Hamilton, a vice-president with Cloudworks Energy, stood by her complaint.
"You're going to find the odd thing. I don't think they found serious issues, and of course any issues they found were immediately fixed," said Hamilton."

Yo, Jackie! As a former employee of the BC Government environmental assessment, perhaps you can enlighten us on exactly how you "immediately fixed" the "overcutting of old-growth forest" ?

But here's the kicker :

"Government officials involved in the strike teams say they can't discuss what they found until after next week's provincial election."

BC for Sale from Twyla Roscovich on Vimeo.

G&M : B.C. scientists urge strategic voting to protect watersheds.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

SPP : Mom Loves Me Best Edition

Four collaborating alumni of the Task Force on the Future of North America are duking it out in the pages of the Globe and Mail over how best to hasten North American deep integration.
At issue is the inclusion of Mexico, long considered by Team Canada to be a usurper of Canada's rightful pride of place in America's heart.

Team Canada, represented by John Manley and Gordon Giffin : Canada is more special to the US than Mexico.

Team Mexico/US, represented by Andrés Rozental and Robert Pastor : No, you aren't - try harder.

Good thing RevDave is here to guide us safely through the towering clichés and treacherous platitudes.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Khadr, Arar, and Abdelrazik

Yesterday the G&M ran a story about Abousfian Abdelrazik and the recently released eight page 2003 Foreign Affairs memo detailing precisely which Canadian authorities arranged for Mr. Abdelrazik to be arrested and tortured in Sudan. Unfortunately "every single word, including the page numbers, was blacked out."
Blogged it at The Beav yesterday morning.
In comments there, Skdadl noted one particular passage in the G&M account which reminded her of Arar:
In an Oct., 16, 2003 e-mail marked “secret,” officials of the intelligence unit of Foreign Affairs note that CSIS agents will pass on details of their then just-completed interrogation of Omar Khadr in Guantanamo and planned to “send two officers to Sudan next week to interview Abdelrazik.” "
Was there some connection between the interrogation of Khadr and that of Abdelrazik?
In 2002 at Bagram prison, a 15 year old Omar Khadr was shown photographs of Maher Arar.
In January this year, we got headlines about it : Khadr linked Arar to terrorism, court hears
"Pentagon prosecutors dropped a bombshell on the last day of the Bush administration's war crimes trials, linking the case of Canadian detainee Omar Khadr to torture victim Maher Arar in stunning testimony...
An FBI interrogator told a military court in Guantanamo Bay Monday that Khadr said he recognized a photo of Arar because the Ottawa engineer had stayed at terrorist "safe houses" in Afghanistan.
Fuller testified that he started Khadr's interrogation in Bagram on Oct. 7, 2002."
and Arar was rendered to Syria the following day.
However the Pentagon's Arar "bombshell" was not born out in subsequent FBI statements :
"In contrast to testimony he gave Monday, [FBI]special agent Robert Fuller told Khadr's war-crimes hearing that the young Canadian was not immediately able to name Arar, but did say he looked familiar."
He looked familiar.
One day someone will write a book stitching all this together, or rather - if this pans out in the way we can now expect - how it was stitched together by showing pictures to a frightened injured child in Bagram prison and asking him if any of the faces "looked familiar".
They can call it "He Looked Familiar".

BC-STV - how it works

The Tyee is running a debate between the Yes and No sides.


Monday, May 04, 2009

Gordon Campbell's Big Jobs

"I think, Ms. James, you should understand — I know this is a big job, and it’s hard to get a handle on it," Gordon Campbell said condescendingly to Carole James in yesterday's second and final televised leader's debate before the May 12th election.
And later : "Thousands of jobs are at stake ... I think it’s important for us to have people with some business experience who can help deal with that."

A supplement in this month's Common Ground lists some of the helpers who have moved from key positions in Gordo's office and government ministries to the private power industry:
The List of Key Liberal Insiders Hired by Private Power Developers
  • Patrick Kinsella, Co-chair of 2001 and 2005 BC Liberal provincial campaigns - has consulted for Alcan, Accenture and now Plutonic Power. Alleged to have worked for both CN and BC Rail as BC Rail was being sold to CN.
  • Tom Syer, former deputy chief of staff to Gordon Campbell, now a director at Plutonic Power/GE.
  • David Cyr, former Assistant to BC Liberal Minister Mike de Jong, now a director at Plutonic Power/GE.
  • Robert Poore, recently worked under the Provincial Revenue Minister of the Province of BC, now a senior director at Plutonic Power/GE.
  • Bill Irwin, after holding key positions in the BC Ministries of Land and Water, and Crown Lands, now a director at Plutonic Power/GE.
  • Doug Bishop, formerly 32 years with BC Hydro and Powerex, now with Plutonic Power/GE.
  • Bruce Ripley spent the last 2 of his 16 years at BC Hydro as VP Engineering, now President and COO of Plutonic Power/GE.
  • Elisha McCallum (Moreno), after 7 years with BC Hydro as a media relations manager, moved to a directorship with ... [I know the suspense must be killing you] ... Plutonic Power/GE.

Plus 14 others in a list also left here in the comments on April 19 by Racheal11.
That's a whole lot of help.

In yesterday's Times Colonist, Raincoast Conservation explains the hazards presented by Plutonic Power/General Electric's plans for its run-of-river projects :

"The B.C. government ... pursues all manner of fossil fuel development, from offshore oil and gas to coalbed methane. The province is also supporting the construction of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline that would carry some of the world's dirtiest oil from Alberta's tarsands to the B.C. coast for export to hydrocarbon-hungry markets abroad.

Within this context, the government is attempting to convince the public that the province is doing something substantive to address climate change by opening up our coast to widespread IPP development.

Five species of Pacific salmon, as well as winter and summer-run steelhead, spawn and rear in reaches or tributaries of the 17 rivers proposed for water extraction and diversion.
Plutonic is proposing to divert between 77% and 95% of the mean annual flow from the 17 rivers and tributaries, potentially influencing the temperature range and flow of water, two criteria that strongly influence the survival of eggs and fry."

Yup. It's a big job alright. A big Scampbell job.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Alberta : Freedom To Create Morons

Creationism seems to have made some legal inroads into Alberta.

CBC : Evolution classes optional under proposed Alberta law

"A controversial Alberta bill will enshrine into law the rights of parents to pull their children out of classes discussing the topics of evolution and homosexuality.

The new rules, which would require schools to notify parents in advance of "subject-matter that deals explicitly with religion, sexuality or sexual orientation," is buried in a bill that extends human rights to homosexuals.
Parents can ask for their child to be excluded from the discussion."

So what has evolution got to do with religion? you might reasonably ask, a mere month after Con MP Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for Science and Technology, muddled them up himself.
"Stelmach has confirmed the bill will give parents the authority to exclude their kids from classes if the topic of evolution comes up."

A bill which deals with "religion, sexuality, or sexual orientation" does that?

In honour of Alberta's bid to officially become Texas North by giving parents the right to raise its children to become morons, the controversial Alberta tourism ad showing children on a Northumberland beach next to the slogan "Alberta : Freedom to Create Spirit to Achieve" has been amended above accordingly.

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