Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rights and Democracy "gong show" in the National Post

-written by R&D board member Marco Navarro-Genie, on the same day we are hearing from the three fired members of Rights and Democracy at the Foreign Affairs committee (see below).

And what a gong show stinker editorial it is too : Marco Navarro-Genie: The Rights & Democracy gong show arrives in Ottawa

According to Navarro-Genie, the Foreign Affairs committee is involved in "a kangaroo court" orchestrated by "the coalition-government- wanabees (Bloc-Liberal-NDP)" to "try and then convict good Canadian citizens whose only crime is to do their duty to look out for Canadian taxpayers" :

"They have concocted one fantasy in which Harper government neo-cons sought to destroy the "independence" of Rights and Democracy, and a second fantasy in which pro-Israel foreign policy has been imposed on an innocent staff only interested in human rights. How wonderfully irresistible for Harper Haters and Israel Bashers."
"There never was an ‘Israel issue' at Rights and Democracy," states Navarro-Genie and then goes on to complain that the Foreign Affairs committee is beginning its hearings into the R&D controversy "starting on the first day of Passover which reflects its attitude toward Jewish Canadians".

Particularly egregious is his statement that now deceased president Beauregard's widow is being "dragged before Parliament by ghoulish Opposition members". This after the Con committee member Jim Abbott filibustered the last meeting for its entire session with the precise intention of preventing her appearance after she had publicly requested permission to appear in a letter to the committee.

Navarro-Génie ends by saying "Only the board, maligned as it is, wants to protect the organization and the taxpayer", a stirring ring of endorsement for R&D which would have greater credibility had he and the other board members not already written previous editorials in the National Post doubting whether R&D had any right to exist.

So what has put the wind up Navarro-Genie this morning?
Here are two notable moments from witnesses at the committee today :

One. Remember R&D interim Chair Aurel Braun's "discovery" that $10,000 each had been awarded to "toxic anti-Israel" organisations Al Haq, Al Mezan and B'Tselem by R&D to document human rights violations committed during the invasion of Gaza?

Panoussian testified that he had told Braun of the three one-time grants - which represented .2% of the R&D budget - within the first hour of his first briefing with Braun on Braun's first day on the job.
If true, so much for "The board discovered the information only by diligently pursuing the facts.".

Two. Secretary of the Board Marie-France Cloutier testified that after Mr. Beauregard informed the Board in a March 2009 meeting that "Rights and Democracy would not participate in any way in the Durban Review Conference even if invited", Aurel Braun asked her to "change the minutes of the meeting to attribute this decision to himself and the board" instead. She refused, offering to bring his suggestion up at the next meeting for a vote. Yes, she's been fired.

More from Kady, live-blogging the meeting. Or you can listen to it yourself here.
Written evidence from the three fired R&D witnesses here.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

"We have shot an amazing number of people ...

...but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat," said Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who became the senior American and NATO commander in Afghanistan last year. His comments came during a recent videoconference to answer questions from troops in the field about civilian casualties."
~ New York Times, Friday, March 26, 2010

Here is how the NATO ISAF webpage continues to report one such incident :

Joint Force Operating in Gardez Makes Gruesome Discovery
KABUL, Afghanistan (Feb. 12) - An Afghan-international security force found the bound and gagged bodies of three women during an operation in the Gardez district, Paktiya Province last night.
The joint force went to a compound near the village of Khatabeh, after intelligence confirmed militant activity. Several insurgents engaged the joint force in a fire fight and were killed. Subsequently, a large number of men, women, and children exited the compound, and were detained by the joint force. When the joint force entered the compound they conducted a thorough search of the area, and found the bodies of three women who had been tied up, gagged and killed. The bodies had been hidden in an adjacent room."

Here is the same incident as reported in the New York Times, March 15, 2010 :

U.S. Is Reining In Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan

"A large number of people had gathered for a party in honor of the birth of a grandson of the owner of the house, Hajji Sharaf Udin. After most had gone to sleep, the police commander, Mr. Udin’s son, Mohammed Daoud, went out to investigate the arrival of armed men and was shot fatally.

When a second son, Mohammed Zahir, a district prosecutor, went out to talk to the Americans because he spoke some English, he too was shot and killed. The three women — Mr. Udin’s 19-year-old granddaughter, Gulalai; his 37-year-old daughter, Saleha, the mother of 10 children; and his daughter-in-law, Shirin, the mother of six — were all gunned down when they tried to help the victims, witnesses claimed.

All the survivors interviewed insisted that Americans, who they said were not in uniform, conducted the raid and the killings, and entered the compound before Afghan forces. Among the witnesses was Sayid Mohammed Mal, vice chancellor of Gardez University, whose son’s fiancée, Gulalai, was killed.

"They were killed by the Americans," he said.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Libs and Cons - fighting evil together

The June 2008 Committee on International Trade passed a motion that the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement should not be ratified until an independent human rights impact assessment could be carried out first.
Luckily, former Con MP Scott Brison, now the Liberal trade critic, has found a way around that.
In a deal he hammered out with Colombian President Uribe at Davros in January, Canada and Colombia will each do their own yearly human rights assessments instead.

What's not to like? say the Libs.

Sure, our annual trade with Colombia is smaller than that with Rhode Island and 80% of Colombia’s imports to Canada are duty free already, but let's not forget what's really at stake here :

Scott Brison, in the House on Monday, Sept 14, 2009 :
"If we isolate Colombia in the Andean region and leave Colombia exposed and vulnerable to the ideological attacks of Chavez's Venezuela, we will be allowing evil to flourish."
In a happy coincidence for the Libs and Cons, fighting evil in Colombia includes the handy bonus of providing cover for Canadian corporations to promote exploitation in a country that killed 45 trade unionists in 2009. and will be used to ease passage of the US-Colombia FTA, currently held up in Congress due to concerns about unchecked and increasing human rights abuses.

Saturday morning media-bash update : I see CBC's The House, the G&M, CP, etc are all touting the deal this morning as cats and dogs getting along nicely hey ho parliament does work after all let's see more of this etc. etc.
No, this is just a bipartisan attempt to get around the Trade Committee's motion to have an independent human rights assessment as a precondition to passing the bill. No one has ever doubted that the Canadian and Colombian governments could come up with their own human rights report cards to justify this deal after the fact.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Blue Dog Liberals : Banner day, assholes

1) You voted against stopping a $¼-million government subsidy to an asbestos lobby group.

2) You dogwhistled about abortion in your maternal health initiative for developing countries "wedge" motion but were too afraid to actually include the word.

3) You used the "wedge" motion - intended to smoke out the Cons - to give your own party a very public wedgie, losing the final vote : 144-138.

Bonus : 4) You voted for the Harper budget supplementary estimates by mistake, necessitating a redo.

A special shout out to the following Blue Dog Libs for voting against the maternal health motion : John McKay, Paul Szabo, and Dan McTeague, and to Albina Guarnieri and Gurbax Malhi who abstained.

Libs missing in action for the vote : Derek Lee, Anita Neville, Gerard Kennedy, Andrew Kania, Borys Wrzesnewskyj, Alan Tonks, Marlene Jennings, Joe Volpe, Lawrence MacAuley, Stephane Dion, Mario Silva and Jim Karygiannis.

*Blue Dog Democrats in the US oppose abortion, SSM, and gun control.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Asbestos vote today at Natural Resources Committee

{updated below}
Dear Prime Minister Harper,

While cutting funds from women's groups and aboriginal healing programs, you want to give $ 250,000.00 of taxpayers' money to the Chrysotile Institute (a registered lobby group for the asbestos industry).

I strongly object to my taxes being given to an asbestos lobby group. The Canadian Cancer Society, health experts and asbestos victims' groups overseas have all appealed to you to stop funding the Chrysotile Institute.

I call on you to stop this callous misuse of public funds immediately. I look forward to receiving your positive reply.

[Your name here.] and it cc's Iggy, Jack, etc at the link.
An estimated 90,000 individuals die annually due to asbestos-related diseases, according to data from the World Health Organization. Canada reportedly mined approximately 150,000 to 200,000 tons of the stuff in 2008 and exported most of it to countries like India and Indonesia where the responsibility for warning workers of its dangers is up to the local government.
The one remaining asbestos mine in Canada, second largest exporter of asbestos in the world, is in the riding of Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis.

At the last meeting of the Committee on Natural Resources, NDP Pat Martin moved to cut the $250,000 funding the department allocates to the Chrysotile Institute. No one supported the motion, and the other committee members - I'm looking at you, Libs - slunk away so there was no longer the quorum necessary for the vote.

That vote will come up again when the committee reconvenes today. Send them a wee nudge via Kathleen Ruff's letter above.

And while you're at it, you might want to add a little note to Christian Paradis, Minister of Asbestos, asking him why the fuck his Natural Resouces Ministry is paying Chrysotile $250,000 in order to lobby him.
Noon Update : Today's recorded vote on Natural Resources Committee motion to remove government subsidy to Chrysotile Asbestos Institute : Defeated 9-1
Geoff Regan, Liberal - NO ............ Nathan Cullen, NDP - YES
Navdeep Bains, Liberal - NO ........ Cheryl Gallant, Con - NO
Alan Tonks, Liberal - NO ............. Richard Harris, Con - NO
Paule Brunelle, Bloc - NO ............ David Anderson, Con - NO
Mauril Bélanger, Liberal - NO ...... Bernard Genereux, Con - NO

Monday, March 22, 2010

Canada-EU Trade Agreement update

Why does it fall to a former Irish MP and Member of the European Parliament to raise questions about the detrimental effect to Canadians of the proposed Canada-EU trade agreement? Isn't that the job of the Canadian government and the Canadian media? *rhetorical lol*

Under the guise of harmonizing regulations between provinces, TILMA enjoyed limited success in the west in jettisoning the provinces' and municipalities' right to "Buy Local" in favour of investor rights for international corps. That was a big sticking point for the EU going ahead with a Canada-EU trade deal - if European companies weren't allowed to bid as equals on Canadian government contracts for both goods and services and if the provinces refused to end the favouring of local or national providers of public-sector services, well then the EU wasn't very interested in pursuing a deal.

Luckily - for Harper and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and the 100 transatlantic CEOs - the big "Buy American" scare showed up. In exchange for a one day opportunity window into the 4 or 5 billion dollars left in Obama's Buy American stimulous package - jobs! jobs! jobs! - Harper convinced the provinces to give up their local procurement rights.

Between the two deals - the throw-away Buy American 'exemption' and the proposed Canada-EU deal - we're caught in a pincer move to further corporatize public services.

Good thing there's one lone Irishman at the European parliament asking a few questions on our behalf then, eh?


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Lindsay Stewart rocks!

<a href="http://lindsaystewart.bandcamp.com/track/cheater">cheater by lindsay stewart</a>

Great blogger; great rocker

Lindsay Stewart at Canadian Cynic has a new album out - Shaken

First four songs are free and the whole album is 'pay-what-you-will' . It totally rocks.

Congratulations, Lindsay.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Inside the new recalibrated Foreign Affairs committee

... the first new recalibrated government filibuster got underway.
The Foreign Affairs committee had one hour before Question Period to schedule a witness list for their investigation into the Rights and Democracy debacle.
Motion from Bernard Patry, Lib : To allow the widow of former Rights and Democracy President Rémy Beauregard to appear before the committee on the 25th to speak on behalf of her dead husband and to schedule the fired R&D staff for the 30th.
Con Deepak Obhrai interjected "We must have a debate first", whereupon Con Chair Dean Allison gave the floor to Con Jim Abbott - yes, him again.
Abbott began with his opinion that the committee "does not have the right to micromanage the Foreign Affairs Dept." The inclusion of Beauregard's widow would be "outside the bounds of this committee" and further "there would be an emotional reaction to a situation over which this committee has absolutely no control."
What if we also allowed corporations like the CBC to appear, he asked, or perhaps the EDC, before veering off into a rant about Bill C-300 and the possible restrictions it might cause Canadian mining abroad.
After half an hour, Patry asked if Abbott was going to respond to his motion about the witness list.
"I'm 30 seconds away from making my point", said Abbott, continuing on about unions and the G8 conference and women in Sudan and arctic sovereignty and the great headlines the Cons get in the G&M and banks and the CMHC until the end of the hour.
Somewhere in there he mentioned that he had no objection to the new R&D president and chair and new board members appearing before the committee because they had been appointed by the government of Canada and "could explain to us what direction the government wants to go."
Well, so much for the new pres and board members being arms length.
As to the fired R&D board members, he said :
"they can send out flyers or go on tv."
When the Chair "adjourned the debate", advising that "as this is going nowhere, opposition and government should get together to agree on a witness list before the next meeting", Abbott had one last point he wished to make :
"Just a quick point of order here - as we know, when a member has the floor, he or she has the floor, so I'm presuming that I will continue to have the floor when we get back together again."
The chair assured him that he would indeed have it and adjourned the meeting.
So. Are we to expect the other committees to go the same way?
Update : Cliff suggests that Abbott needs to hear from us about his shameful behavior here.
Jim Abbott : Telephone:(613) 995-7246 Fax: (613) 996-9923
EMail: AbbotJ@parl.gc.ca
cc to Chair Dean Allison: Telephone: (613) 995-2772 Fax:(613) 992-2727
and co-committee members Bob Rae : RaeB@parl.gc.ca , Paul Dewar : DewarP@parl.gc.ca , and Bernard Patry : PatryB@parl.gc.ca whose motion it was to allow Trepanier to appear.
Write nice. Remember these sometimes get read out in the House.
If you need talking points, Cliff's got 'em.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Inside the new recalibrated Afghan committee

Back in 2007 the Cons claimed that all the Geneva Conventions do not apply in Afghanistan because we are not officially at war with Afghanistan. Yesterday in the Afghan parliamentary committee, Con MP Jim Abbott attempted to resuscitate that position.
Appearing as a witness before the committee, Paul Champ, human rights lawyer for Amnesty International and the BC Civil Liberties Association, advised that the UK suspended detainee transfers in June 2009.
If the Brits still think the risk of torture is too great, he asked, why does Canada think it's safe, particularly in light of the 2009 report from the US State Dept dated March 11 2010 regarding continuing reports of detainees being beaten, subjected to elecric shocks etc?
Hawn asked whether it is appropriate to impose Canadian standards on Afganistan.

Champ : "Prisoners in Canadian corrections facilities are not subjected to electric shocks or beaten with electrical cables or hung up for days."

Dosanjh : "Are you suggesting that we as Canadians, the Canadian government in particular, with the evidence before us, are in breach of our obligations vis a vis the Geneva conventions?"

Champ : "Yes and also the convention against torture and human rights [I didn't catch it]."

Dosanjh ; "Is it your view that the government of Canada today if taken to court would be likely to be found in breach of international obligations?

Champ : "I do ... Prohibition against torture is a non derogable duty."

Abbott : "Dosanjh's question is irresponsible. Would you agree with me that the Geneva convention does not apply in Afghanistan because it is not a state-to-state conflict, and would you further agree you were worried that we could be or soldiers could be subject to laws under the Geneva convention. And considering that it doesn't apply, would you agree, why would you answer that irresponsible question with an irresponsible answer?

Champ : "I would disagree with you that the Geneva convention does not apply to the armed conflict in Afghanistan."

Abbott : "Who was the other state?"

Champ : "You are quite right there's some dispute whether its an international armed conflict or not but regardless Common Article 3 - which is the duty not to subject individuals to inhumane or cruel treatment - that applies both in internal civil armed conflicts or international armed conflicts so that applies regardless and I think almost any lawyer would agree with me on that."

Abbott : "Are you chery-picking the Geneva convention?"

Champ : No I don't think so.
Common Article 3 applies in all conventions 1,2, 3 &4 . It's the prohibition against cruel and inhumane treatment and I think any lawyer would agree with me that it applies in this conflict."

There was more showboating from Abbott about docs leaked in the US "sending Osama bin Laden back to his caves" and "damage to soldiers from the complete public release of all docs" - which the unflappable Champ responded to by explaining that what is needed is a functioning system for dealing with all this and no one has suggested full scale public release of the docs and for instance he for one does not expect to see them.

Hawn opined that Champ is an employee of 2 orgs that are fighting our government so it's all just a partisan political witch hunt and we should move on to other matters.

Bachand reminded Hawn that the Cons boycotted the committee before xmas and then prorogued for a month so it's pretty rich they now just want to move on, at which they all went "in camera" for a fight.

I do not see how we can "move on" as long as we have a government that does not believe in prohibitions against torture.

UPDATE : Dave explains yet again why the Cons fiddling around with definitions of torture endangers the very troops they purport to champion as they hide behind them.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Harper's Big Live Late Pretaped Youtube Debut

So y'all recall the hype ...
Steve! Live and interactive and unrehearsed!
It's your interview with Steve! Ask him your questions and vote 'em up on youtube!
Steve will have no idea beforehand what wild questions will be thrown at him.
Pick a card, any card...
So we all troop over to Kady's at CBC at the appointed hour to enjoy a little live blogging of this daring and unlikely foray into new media and we stare at a black screen for oh, an hour or so, waiting.
Steve appears to have prorogued youtube.
Eventually word comes down from the google gods - It will not be interactive. It is already pretaped, transcripts will be delivered to the real media ahead of time, and Youtube of same to be trundled along some time later.
When it finally arrives, it's a fireside chat beside a monitor instead of a fire, it's a townhall without people, it's question period without opposition. It is the perfect medium for Steve.

MPs move to block extradition of Prince of Pot

Yesterday in the House of Commons, an MP from each of the Cons, the NDP, and the Libs stood up in succession to present petitions signed by 12,000 Canadians asking Justice Minister Rob Nicholson not to sign extradition papers that would deport Marc Emery to the US to serve a five-year sentence for selling marijuana seeds online. Emery was busted in 2005 by Canadian police acting on behalf of the U.S. DEA.

Scott Reid, CPC :

"Marc Emery's activities, the ones for which he is being extradited, involve selling viable marijuana seeds over the Internet. It is worth noting that these activities were approved by Health Canada's referral of medical marijuana patients to his seed bank. Canadian courts in ruling on this subject have ruled that a $200 fine is an appropriate punishment for this kind of activity as opposed to extradition to a country where he can face potentially life imprisonment."

Libby Davies, NDP :

"Mr. Emery or any Canadian should not face harsh punishment in the U.S. for selling cannabis seeds on the Internet when it is not worthy of prosecution in Canada. I think people see it as a question of Canadian sovereignty."

Ujjal Dosanjh, Lib : "

It appears to me that we have assisted a foreign government arrest a man for doing something that we wouldn't arrest him for doing in Canada. As a former premier and a former attorney-general, I sense a certain degree of unfairness in the process."

Kudos to all three of you.

Flashback :DEA Administrator Karen Tandy, 2005 :

"Today's DEA arrest of Marc Scott Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine, and the founder of a marijuana legalization group, is a signficant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the U.S. and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement.

Emery and his organization had been designated as one of the Attorney General's most wanted international drug trafficking organizational targets."

Fast forward to Michael Ignatieff, yesterday :

"If I had to tell you as a parent or as someone who has spent his whole life working with young people, the last darn thing I want you to be doing is smoking marijuana," the federal Liberal leader said. "I want you to be out there digging a well, digging a ditch, getting a job, raising a family ... doing stuff, instead of parking your life on the end of a marijuana cigarette."

Holy Reeeeeeefer Madness! Gosh, thanks, Dad.

"Given the things we need to do together, that's what I think," he said, adding that legalizing marijuana would create problems in dealings with the U.S. because the drug would remain illegal there."


Except it isn't. It's been decriminalized in one quarter of US states since Emery was busted. Are we really going to throw Emery to the US just to suck up to the surviving worshippers of Nancy Reagan?

Bonus : Tonight's deadline for Steve's clueless foray into the interactive intertubes approaches. The most frequent suggestion out of nearly 3800 entries was "Legalize marijuana". Expect Steve to pass on this one nonetheless. I'll be back for it later.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Dear Frank

In your last go round with whitewashing government complicity in torture, it took you 16 months to determine that even though :

1)CSIS and the RCMP "mistakenly" advised Egyptian and Syrian authorities that Canadian citizens Ahmad El Maati and Abdullah Almalki were "associated with Al Qaeda" and an "imminent threat to public security" and a "confessed terrorist" and that El Maati was "involved in a plan to commit a terrorist act in Canada", resulting in

2)El Maati being subjected to "electric shock to his hands, back and genitals, and sleep deprivation while being subjected to excruciatingly painful stress torture for days on end", and that subsequently

3)CSIS fired off a handy list of questions to be put to them,

you ultimately determined in your report that :

"I found no evidence that any of these of these officials were seeking to do anything other than carry out conscientiously the duties and responsibilities of the institutions of which they were part."

"It seems inevitable, in the struggle against terrorism that mistakes of various kinds will be made."
After which the government redacted "about 20% of your findings from the public document for national security reasons."

So, really, Frank, who gives a fuck what you think this time round?

Yours truly,

When you write to Mr Iacobucci , I strongly advise sending Fern's letter instead.

Breaking News - Some Bullshit Happening Somewhere

Totally useless up-to-the-minute coverage of some meaningless bullshit story that will keep you jacked up and tranquillized at the same time.

"I'm just some fucking guy ..."

Ta rah to The Onion


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Laurie Hawn's "gold standard"

On CBC radio's The House this morning, Laurie Hawn, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence and the lead government MP on the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan, said that his government had fixed the faulty Afghan detainee agreement they had inherited from the Liberals and then made the following statement about the current treatment of Afghan detainees :
"Our detainee arrangement is the new gold standard. Taliban prisoners are treated like gold."

Well so much for the U.S. State Department's 2009 report on Afghan human rights then :
"Human rights organizations report local authorities tortured and abused detainees. Torture and abuse methods included ... beating by stick, scorching bar or iron bar, flogging by cable, battering by rod, electric shock, deprivation of sleep, water and food, abusive language, sexual humiliation and rape."

This is Laurie Hawn's "gold standard".

We should just "move on" he said, backed up by a sound clip from Afghan occupation promoter Terry Glavin, who deemed the parliamentary Afghan committee's attempt to get documents necessary for their work "a kangaroo court".

Hawn also repeated his favorite little chestnut about "some Taliban being hit with a shoe".
Does ex-Canadian Air Force Lieutenant-Colonel Laurie Hawn not realize what a real disservice this statement is to the Canadian troops who have not only documented abuses but refused to hand over prisoners that they were convinced were just going to be killed?

This is why we can't "move on". Despite reports like the 2009 US State Dept report, the Cons are still in denial and refuse to release even independent human rights reports to the parliamentary committee charged with oversight of our "mission" in Afganistan.
h/t Croghan at Bread and Roses for The House link.

Friday, March 12, 2010

BC Greenwash and Wear

Environmental activist Tzeporah Berman of Forest Ethics presents BC Premier Gordon Campbell with a "green award" at the Copenhagen climate conference in December 2009.

The previous month Campbell hired Berman on to his "Green Energy Advisory Task Force".

Last May Berman actively supported Campbell's re-election citing his "environmental leadership".

This is the same Gordon Campbell who supports the Grizzly bear hunt and open-cage fish farms, the Gateway Pacific and twin Enbridge pipelines running from the Alberta tar sands to Kitimat, the proposed revoking of the moratorium on off-shore drilling, coalbed methane development, the gutting of the BC Environment ministry, and the privatization of BC rivers for run-of-river hydro projects.

Berman is executive director of Power Up Canada which promotes those privately owned run-of-river projects, which, under Gordon Campbell, forces the publicly-owned BC Hydro to buy power from them at exorbitant higher-than-market rates while being prohibited from developing its own green energy initiatives.

Today, 19 private power producers, including 14 run-of-river projects, were awarded agreements in BC, with 28 more expected by the month's end.

On February 13th, Greenpeace International announced it was hiring Tzeporah Berman as director of its global climate and energy campaign.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Steve reaches out to Youtube world

As PMO spokesthingey Dimitri Soudas pitches it somewhat awkwardly on YouTube :
Submit your questions for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his response to the Speech from the Throne and the recent budget. The Prime Minister will answer a selection of your top-voted questions in an exclusive YouTube interview next Tuesday March 16, 2010 at 7 p.m. ET.
It must have seemed like a pretty good idea at the time when they were kicking it around the PMO - avoiding reporters while controlling the message, getting down with the new social media, and reaching out directly to the demographic with a solid majority on Youtubeworld locked down - youth.
But as any working clown will tell you, teh youth are a very tough crowd. A sampling of questions submitted to Steve so far :

lol look at this talkcanada guy trying to be all formal and serious on a crap website

can you explain how selling our Natural Resources is good for Canadians

Check out the proper way to crush a beer can with ur head!!! It rulez

why is the quality of this video so shitty?

Mr Harper this a question regarding what has happened to the Afghan detainees. Currently by having retired Supreme Court Justice Iacobucci look into the documents, you have only created a smokescreen to hide behind. You have not chosen a sitting judge who would actually have power to do a proper inquiry. As well you are currently in violation of the Constitution by withholding these documents from parliament. When will you be releasing the documents regarding the Afghan detainees to parliament?

This guy sounds like he just gargled a bucket of cum

i gotta question,?? which u will never reply to, ... why the fuck do you lie stephen Harper??


He hasn't listened to Canada for a long time, I'm Surprised he wants to start now. :/

What did you do during the time Parliament was prorogued besides sitting next to Wayne Gretzky and coming up with a plan to change the national anthem?

What's with the low-quality vid and the script reading...

I agree that the stimulus package was a good oppurtunity to further our advancements in green energy, but due to your lack of intrest in said topic, my scrotum gets itchy when I engage in sexual intercourse with multiple women. is this because of your lack of intrest in energy efficiency? If so what steps will you take to ensure the cleanliness of my yambag? Will you tax it? WE NEED answers Mr. Harper!

legalize marijuana?

When will your government end the waste of corporate tax cuts? As well, when will post secondary education become a priority for your party?
Furthermore, why are your MP's so disrespectful to Canadians?


Mr Prime Ribroast Minister, CAN I HAS CHEEZBURGAR?

Mr Harper, Will you please sing Tay Zonday's "Chocolate Rain" on live television?

Why have you not requested that the United States release Omar Khadr from the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp? He was just a child when he was arrested in Afganistan. His continuing detention puts Canada's image as a champion of human rights in jeopardy. (thumbs up if you want Mr. Harper to reply to this question.)

My question is how can you live with yourself?As far as being a leader that has plunged Canada into record debt with reckless spending and poor decision making, I cannot see a positive side to this Prime Minister. Absolutely shameful governing period.

legalize marijuana .

stephen harper - can you please quit your job

I couldn't be bothered putting down questions for that dud Harper

Jeez At least make it watchable. I mean it's not 2005 anymore. You are the government and you can't afford a freaking HD camera... sad

I think the prime minister should invest in a steady cam and a better mic for his youtube rep... c'mon...

fucking numpty

How can you possibly justify not legalizing marijuana?

Why are we "fighting" for peace (contradiction)? As a Canadian i hear that we are the peacemakers who care about all beings but yet we barely support those who are less fortunate. If Canada is known as the peacemakers of the world and have great alliances (U.S.A) than why do we waste our much needed money on weapons of war instead of food and shelter for the world?

why wont you legalize weed ?

How much did this little google propaganda exercise cost Canadians?Are cameras for various networks next to be invited in to parliament for your grand eminence to pretend you are addressing the populace when you are merely manipulating us?

testicals. that is all.

I think I have a way to cut the deficit ... stop making Canadians pay for your makeup PM. You want to look the way you do - do it on your own darn dime.

I find it amusing that marijuana is the topic of perhaps 30% of the questions (probably more) and is currently the top 3 asked question

What agreement we have with Israel? Will you send troops for Israel to attack Iran?


With crime at an all time low, why get tough on it, as well as building more prisons, shouldn't we build more schools and hospitals?Is there nothing to be learned from californias budgeting nightmare experience?

Harper, why have you continued to ignore your own Accountability Act?

why are you such an asshole on climate change?

Would you debate legalization of small quantities of marijuana considering:
A:Tax money saved w/reduced policing/incarceration/court costs
B:Tax Revenue increases. We're able to make wine/beer. 99% do not! Resulting taxation income is massive.
C:Drug cartels make Billion$! Then expand prostitution/guns/armed gangs
D:Create new job markets in these depressed times. Hemp is so useful/environmental.
Considering the facts, how can continued Fed Prohibition of marijuana be justified?

Why won't you call an impartial public inquiry into the Afghan detainee affair?

When will Canada take a leadership role in the world when it comes to the environment? I am sick and tired of the Prime Minister taking a supporting role on such an important issue affecting our lives. Stop using the economy to ignore such a pressing issue. Time is no longer on our side when it comes to this issue. Please act now!

I often hear of you dirty playbook tricks , can you share them with the rest of us to use !Help us all learn to be Cons !

Why bother? Harper prorogued parliament so he wouldn't have to listen to anyone else. What makes you think he's going to listen now?

Legalize marijuana.

Methinks Mr Soudas better get himself a coupla sockpuppets up there pretty damn quick or Steve will be spending next Tuesday night talking about legalizing weed, why Soudas' vid is so crap, and um, testicals.

h/t Kady, who has a couple of questions of her own about the appropriateness of Google gifting free Youtube facetime to Steve while registered as a federal lobby group.
And here we go : Harper's Big Live Late Pretaped Youtube Debut

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Security theatre of the absurd

Given that the Cons blocked the Military Police Complaints Commission from receiving documents on the Afghan detainees :
"Canada's former top military police officer, retired navy captain Steve Moore, advised he had documents that he wanted to turn over to the inquiry, however Mr. Moore and his lawyer had to sign a pledge preventing them from passing the documents to the inquiry."
and redacted the docs they did allow :

"This is what the Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Battle Group sergeant wrote in June 2006 about the Afghan detainee who was beaten up:

"We then photographed the individual prior to handing him over, to ensure that if the ANP did assault him, as has happened in the past, we would have a visual record of his condition."

but this is what the government sent to the Military Police Complaints Commission:

"We then photographed the individual prior to handing him over (redacted)."
and also sandbagged the Parliamentary Afghan committee by threatening and muzzling witnesses:
"The federal government is blocking diplomat Richard Colvin from giving documents to a special House of Commons committee investigating Afghan torture.
Justice Department lawyers have told Colvin - through the Foreign Affairs department - that they do not accept the view that testimony before Parliament is exempt from national security provisions of the Canada Evidence Act.
Violating Section 38 of the Canada Evidence Act can be punishable by five years in prison."
before finally shutting parliament down altogether to shut everyone up about it ....

who could possibly pretend to believe they will now freely hand over those very same docs to retired Justice Iacobucci?

Answer : The Libs.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Driving under the influence of Helena Handbasket

Rahim Jaffer, ex-Reform/Alliance/Con MP, anti-drug crusader, hubby to federal Con cabinet minister Helena "hell hole" Guergis :
Busted for driving at nearly twice the legal speed limit, cocaine possession, flunked the breathalyzer

Drunk driving and cocaine charges reduced to "careless driving".
Sentence : $500 fine.

Jaffer after sentencing: "I took full responsibility for my careless driving."

That is just so Con.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Iacobucci Sandbagging redux

On Friday Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announced the government was appointing Frank Iacobucci, a former Supreme Court judge with no legal hold over them, to determine what documents pertaining to the Afghan detainee issue could be released without compromising national security, national defence, and/or international relations. The scope and terms of Iacobucci's appointment are not known and he will report directly to Nicholson.

A number of bloggers have already weighed in on Iacobucci's suitability to the task. Steve at Far and Wide in particular points to Iacobucci having already previously agreed to omit information - at the Minister's request - from the public version of his October 2008 inquiry into the illegal renditioning of three Canadian citizens, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad el-Maati, and Muayyed Nurredin to Syria and Egypt where they were tortured before being deemed innocent.

In light of Prof. Amir Attaran's explosive allegations on CBC that Afghan detainees were handed over to Afghan authorities with the precise purpose of having them tortured, and tonight's news that CSIS was involved in the interrogation of Afghan detainees, it's worth looking at what was omitted from Iacobucci's 2008 report.

What was included in the initial report was bad enough ;
In September 2001, the RCMP described Mr. El Maati to Syria and Egypt as an Al Qaeda associate and an "imminent threat to public security"
CSIS decribed him as "involved in the Islamic Extremist movement" and "an associate of an Osama Bin Laden"
They then shared his travel plans with the CIA who passed them on.
Mr. El Maati was detained in Syria for two months and Egypt for two years, where he was tortured with electric shock to his hands, back and genitals, and sleep deprivation while being subjected to excruciatingly painful stress torture for days on end.
In 2003, CSIS sent Egypt a “statement of concern” about Mr. El Maati should he be released from custody.

Iacobucci said he could not stress sufficiently that these three must "be presumed innocent of any wrongdoing."

The omitted part that Steve alludes to was released just two weeks ago as a supplement :
In June 2002, CSIS agents advised Egyptian authorities that El Maati was involved in a plan "to commit a terrorist act in Canada". They did not say, and maintain they could not have known, that this "confession" was derived from his torture in Syria.
In December 2002, CSIS went to Egypt with a list of questions "to which it wished to obtain answers."

While we the public were prevented from seeing this latest information till two weeks ago, Justice Iacobucci knew it all along and sought to have it made public. And yet in his summation to his 2008 report he still concluded :
"The inquiry did find that the three men were tortured in foreign prisons and that the mistreatment may have "resulted indirectly from several actions of Canadian officials."
but that :
"I found no evidence that any of these of these officials were seeking to do anything other than carry out conscientiously the duties and responsibilities of the institutions of which they were part."

And that, as I said at the time, is the most damning part of all.

I offer this blogpost just to run to ground the discussion on Iacobuccu's suitability as a beard for the Cons. In truth, I'm with Pogge and Eugene Forsey here - Nicholson can talk to anyone he likes - it doesn't matter. Parliament has demanded the documents. The Cons are currently in contempt of Parliament. Ultimately they must be forced to give the documents up. It's the law here.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Rights and Democracy : "Canada's credibility is at stake"

The International Federation for Human Rights has denounced the Cons "political interference" at Rights & Democracy :

G&M :

"The federation, an umbrella group of 155 human rights organizations operating in more than 100 countries, also slammed the government's choice of Gérard Latulippe as the troubled agency's new president.

It said Mr. Latulippe “does not have the moral authority to lead an organization like Rights & Democracy” given his past statements about the potential for Muslim immigrants to breed homegrown terrorism, his support for capital punishment and his opposition to same-sex marriage."

Naturally this will not cut any ice with Steve or Lawrence Cannon who appointed Latulippe, because the International Federation for Human Rights is on the NGO Monitor's shitlist, NGO Monitor being the Israeli think tank that appears to be currently determining Canada's foreign policy decisions in the Mid East.

NGO Monitor does not care for the federation's use of the terms "occupied Palestinian territories" or "crimes against humanity" when describing Israeli military or government actions, despite the IFHR's accompanying condemnation of the roles played by Syria and Iran.

NGO Monitor probably also doesn't like the fact that B'telem and Al Haq, the two NGOs at the centre of the Cons recent sacking of R&D and the bêtes noires of the organization’s newly-stacked pro-Israel board majority, are distinguished and valued members of IFHR.

"Canada's credibility is at stake," the federation said in a news release, citing support for B'telem and Al Haq and calling for an independent investigation.

Note to Steve : World stage! World stage!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

"Thou Dustiness Command"

Friday Update : After 68 days of careful deliberation and a mere 48 hours after its inclusion in the throne speech, "thou dustiness" gets binned, having succesfully served its purpose of providing an amusing distraction from the other dust collecters in the speech.

According to this poll at CBC, most do not think two months off were required to consider recalibrating the gender neutrality of the national anthem.

O Canada

Our home and native land

True patriot love

Thou Dustiness command

"Thou Dustiness" is doubtless responsible for the idea of a National Monument to the Victims of Communism in the throne speech in addition to the dust bunnies under my bed.


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Speech from the Throne 2010 - "Now and For the Future Markets"

Today's Throne Speech is already leaking on the parquet, hours ahead of schedule.
We may have 1.5 million unemployed with a third of those jobs not coming back, but no worries because Steve has a plan :

"The Conservative government will use the throne speech and budget to allow for more foreign investment in Canada and fewer bureaucratic hurdles to business, a senior government official said Tuesday. It's also expected to include policies aimed at reducing the regulatory burden, luring foreign investors, relaxing foreign ownership restrictions, and recruiting foreign talent.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet believe Canadian business has relied on a low dollar over the past 20 years to compete internationally rather than investing in equipment and technology needed to become more productive."

What Steve and his cabinet actually believe is that it is government's job to promote private sector business so that a combination of its creativity and profits will trickle down to solve all our social and economic problems, relieving him of those responsibilities. Unfortunately the private sector's job is to be responsible solely to its stockholders. How's that working out for us so far?
Progressive Economics :

"Private sector non-residential capital investment is only expected to increase by 2.8% in 2010. This is despite expectations of an increase in pre-tax corporate profits of 15% this year and 16.5% next year, according to RBC’s latest forecast .

After tax corporate profits are set to rise even faster, with Harper and Flaherty’s corporate tax cuts giving up $8.6 billion in revenues this year, rising to almost $15 billion in 2013/14."

"Sometimes you have to walk and chew gum at the same time in this business," Mr. Harper told reporters in Vancouver. When what we really need here is a different brand of gum and a whole other way of walking.
Presumably the speech will also feature gloating and families and security and homilies and hand-outs that will last till the next election.
Be sure to wash your hands and put the seat back down on your way out.

Monday, March 01, 2010

The Cons - All Israel all the time

Two days ago Jason Kenney's communications director Alykhan Velshi tweeted that Con MP Tim Uppal from the inquiry panel at the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism will be looking for unanimous all-party approval when he introduces a motion to condemn the use of the word 'apartheid' as applied to Israel in the House of Commons this week :

"That this House considers itself to be a friend of the State of Israel; that this House is concerned about expressions of anti-Semitism under the guise of "Israeli Apartheid Week"; and that this House explicitly condemns any action in Canada as well as internationally that would equate the State of Israel with the rejected and racist policy of apartheid."
Apartheid Week.
While I suspect that Uppal and friends would still condemn the protest even if the name was changed to Israel Not Very Nice This Week, Antonia Zerbisias at The Star pointed out :

"The moment that Israel is generally recognized as an apartheid state is the moment when the boycotts and divestments begin in earnest. Which is why Israel must fight to keep the label out of the language surrounding the Jewish state."

Here's the UN's definition of apartheid. You can make up your own mind whether it fits :

United Nations International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid,Article II[1] :

For the purpose of the present Convention, the term 'the crime of apartheid' shall apply to the following inhumane acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them:

a. Denial to a member or members of a racial group or groups of the right to life and liberty of person
i. By murder of members of a racial group or groups;
ii. By the infliction upon the members of a racial group or groups of serious bodily or mental harm, by the infringement of their freedom or dignity, or by subjecting them to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
iii. By arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a racial group or groups;

b. Deliberate imposition on a racial group or groups of living conditions calculated to cause its or their physical destruction in whole or in part;

c. Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including the right to work, the right to form recognised trade unions, the right to education, the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association;

d. Any measures including legislative measures, designed to divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups, the prohibition of mixed marriages among members of various racial groups, the expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group or groups or to members thereof;

e. Exploitation of the labour of the members of a racial group or groups, in particular by submitting them to forced labour;

f. Persecution of organizations and persons, by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid.

Last Thursday MMP Peter Shurman put forward a similar motion condemning Israeli Apartheid Week to the Ontario legislature, where it purportedly received support from all parties, including Cheri DiNovo of the NDP.
Shurman :

"I move that in the opinion of this House, the term "Israeli Apartheid Week" is condemned as it serves to incite hatred against Israel, a democratic state that respects the rule of law and human rights, and the use of the word "apartheid" in this context diminishes the suffering of those who were victims of a true apartheid regime in South Africa."
This would work better for Shurman had many Israelis and South African leaders who once lived under apartheid in South Africa not already offered their opinion that Israel does practice apartheid.
Back to Shurman :

"In fact, the values of Judaism and of Israel were bedrock values for the foundation of Canada, and those values from Judaism and from Israel date back over 3,000 years - all to say that if you're going to label Israel as apartheid, then you are also calling Canada apartheid and you are attacking Canadian values."

Canada does indeed have its own apartheid problems which is why we have not signed on to the above UN Convention on Apartheid nor the UN Declaration on Aboriginal Rights.

But Shurman's Canada = Israel equation just echoes last week's "An attack on Israel would be considered an attack on Canada" from Junior Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Kent, and this government's determination to defund and muzzle any Canadian NGOs which have had the temerity to suggest that the slaughter and oppression of Palestinians should not go unremarked upon in Canada.

Very good discussion as to the fairness and efficacy of using the word apartheid in comments over at Pogge's.

But why are the Cons pushing so hard on this?
Because it's a perfect issue with which to divide the opposition. The Con base will just agree to the McCarthyite motions en masse; some Libs and more particularly the NDP will tear each other apart over it while risking being smeared as anti-Semitic to their ridings by the Cons if they refuse to give preference to Israel over the rights of Canadian citizens.

Stinks, doesn't it?
(Edited for spelling and clarity)
Update, 1pm : Well, that was quick. Iggy goes the HarperCons one better via

Skdadl : Ignatieff condemns fellow citizens, defends foreign government

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