Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Most Canadians totally cool with Canada-US security perimeter deal

according to this G&M headline yesterday : Nearly half of Canadians oppose greater integration with U.S. law enforcement.

The headline refers to the Harper government release yesterday of its summary of the government website public consultation process about Steve and Barry's deep integration deal known as Beyond the Border: a shared vision for perimeter security and economic competitiveness.

"Nearly half of Canadians oppose " ?
So turning that headline around : more than half of Canadians approve of security integration with the US?
How many actual Canadians are we talking about here, G&M?

500 according to the gov report. More than 1,000 Canadians submitted their thoughts to the government website set up to "consult with Canadians" on how much sovereignty and privacy they are willing to trade off for greater access to US markets.
Also included were representatives from the provinces; business groups like the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, think tanks, unions, academics, First Nations, and corporations like Imperial Tobacco and Bombardier.

Other media coverage :
Canadian Chamber of Commerce president Perrin Beatty told the Toronto Star today in : Upcoming Harper-Obama talks last, best hope to slow post-9/11 border chokehold :

"We have to ask ourselves: What is the reason for the government presence along the 49th parallel at this stage in the 21st century?"
Corporate Television Vehicle confined their coverage on "consultations with Canadians" to an interview with Foreign Affairs Min John Baird in Cross-border policing concerns some Canadians: report
Baird explained why we need this deal : "Jobs, jobs, jobs."
When the news anchor asked what other issues besides jobs came up, Baird replied : "Jobs, jobs, jobs."
Also : "Jobs."

Toronto Sun : Calls for a freer border

Ok, so you get the idea on media coverage.
So what's it say about deeper security integration in the actual report?

What Canadians told us: A Summary on Consultations on Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness
The bulk of submissions on information sharing came from the National Airlines Council of Canada, the tourism associations of the United States and Canada, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority and the Air Transport Association of Canada. They recommended that Canada and the United States align their advanced passenger-screening programs and also recommended that this process include the sharing of passenger data. The Customs and Immigration Union, whose members work at Canada's borders, as well as inland, recommended that joint Canada-United States information databases be made available to border personnel and be used to support enhanced screening at Canada's points of entry.

In support of expediting border crossing times, it was suggested that advanced passenger-screening programs be expanded to common carriers on land such as buses and trains. The Air Transport Association of Canada proposed merging Canada's Passenger Protect Program with the United States' Secure Flight program into a single North American “no-fly” list as a way to standardize the application of such lists within the North American perimeter.
In which case Maher Arar will certainly never fly from Vancouver to Kamloops again.
Submissions from individuals who supported information sharing ... A small number of those making submissions indicated a belief that Canada's immigration and refugee practices were lax and therefore a threat to national security, and proposed the integration of these policies with those of the United States.

Biometrics are methods of identifying people based on physical traits, such as fingerprint analysis; facial recognition; DNA, palm print or hand geometry analysis; and retina or iris recognition. While there was not a significant amount of input relating to biometrics, those organizations that did comment on this topic supported using biometrics.
The Customs and Immigration Union called for the deployment of an enhanced lookout system with face recognition biometric technology. The Canadian Council of Chief Executives, a national association of business leaders, called for Canada and the United States to work to accelerate international efforts toward the adoption of common global standards for biometric data. In their joint submission, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada and the U.S. Travel Association called for the collection of biometric data for travellers from key emerging markets such as Brazil, India, China, Russia and Mexico.

The Canadian Council of Chief Executives and the Customs and Immigration Union ... called for the expansion of existing intelligence sharing and law enforcement partnerships. The Canadian Council of Chief Executives also suggested that joint law enforcement programs be introduced on land with a similar mandate.

Deepening Canada-United States Collaboration on Cyber-Security Matters
The Canadian Council of Chief Executives recognized the current success of collaboration efforts with the United States on these issues and called for a binational cyberspace defence strategy developed in collaboration with the private sector and end-users in both countries. They noted that such initiatives should include information technology suppliers and end users, all of whom share responsibility for preventing, responding to and recovering from physical and cyber disruptions of critical infrastructure.
That's a whole lot of Canadian Council of Chief Executives, isn't it? 
As CCCE President John Manley put it in December :
"The real question will be what do we get at the border in exchange for greater co-ordination on security."
Fuck all so far, John, no matter how much sovereignty and privacy we give up.


Final note to Globe &Mail headline writers. From the report :
"Moving forward, it is important to keep in mind that the results of the consultation described in this report are a reflection solely of the views of those who provided input. This report is not a reflection of the views of all Canadians and is not intended to be representative of all views on these issues."
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Monday, August 22, 2011

A letter from Jack to Canadians

A visionary Canadian, a fearless advocate, a principled politician, a fighter, a decent man. Honourable, passionate, eternally optimistic, the best prime minister we never had.
Jack Layton was in it for the long game; that is his legacy to the rest of us now. This is his letter.

Dear Friends,


Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.

Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.

I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.

I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election.

A few additional thoughts:

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

To the members of my party: we’ve done remarkable things together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support, and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move forward. Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.

To the members of our parliamentary caucus: I have been privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election.

To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today; and it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in the years to come to make this country better for us all.

To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.

And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

All my very best,
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Globe & Mail : Polling for pillocks

Yes, really. That's what it says.
Tune in later in the week when the Globe & Mail asks :


Poll : Who is the greatest Canadian ever?

* Brian Mulroney - free trade, Ronald Reagan, opera

* Kim Campbell - girl

* Neither

VOTE



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Friday, August 19, 2011

The price of doing democracy


In the 2006 federal election, Tony Clement won his won his Parry Sound-Muskoka riding by a mere 28 votes.

In 2008, following election endorsements from local mayors on his G8 slush fund tailgate committee which he used to misdirect public funds intended for border infrastructure to gazebos and flower pots in his riding, he increased that vote margin to almost 11,000.

Fun with math : $50-million divided by the 21,831 that voted for him in 2008 = $2,290 per vote.

h/t DAMMIT JANET
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Steve & Dimitri - Ethical Asbestos

Sooey Says :

"The good widow taking our government to task for exporting asbestos to the third world – without warning labels on the bags of death dust – should just tell the bastards threatening to sue her (over using the Conservative Party of Canada logo on her petition) that she saw it on those cheques the Harper Government was handing out on behalf of taxpayers and assumed it belonged to all Canadians."
Petition !
Dear Prime Minister Harper:
 
I support Michaela Keyserlingk, whose husband died from asbestos cancer and who is asking you to stop supporting the deadly asbestos trade and creating more asbestos victims.

I call on you to heed the message of Michaela Keyserlingk and Canada's medical authorities. Stop the export of asbestos. Provide transition assistance to the remaining 300 asbestos miners.

Sincerely,
Your name here. Plus whatever editing you may care to add.
And a poster from Pale :



in solidarity with Michaela Keyserlingk.

Her story in her own words.







We're leaning on Steve here for his appalling outsized support of "ethical asbestos", but truly, Canada's record on asbestos has always been abysmal.
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Update : Pale has now also made a blog badge for your sidebar. Grab it and pass it on!
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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Treasury Board President of Gazebos and Funny Funneling


Steve was evidently so pleased with ShamWow Tony Clement's ability to put one over on Auditor General Sheila Fraser by leaving no paper trail of the funneling of $50M of our tax dollars through his own riding office - money purportedly intended for G8 border security - that right after the election Steve made him the boss of all our money - President of the Treasury Board - responsible for ethics, transparency, accountability, and the financial and administrative management of government.

Collateral damage : the compromising of public servants from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Industry Canada, and Infrastructure Canada who may or may not have helped him do it. Now we'll never know. Certainly they denied their involvement to Sheila Fraser but they were there at the meetings with ShamWow Tony, the mayor, and the manager of the Deerhurst Resort when - as Minister of Pork, Gazebos, and Funny Funneling - Clement recommended 33 local projects to then Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Accountability John Baird, who approved 32 of them.

According to the new AG John Wiersema, apparently having a majority means never having to say you're sorry.

Hill Times . Toronto Star . Pogge
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Wednesday Update : Hill Times again.
Seems the municipal leaders in Tony's select gazebo-vetting committee awarded their own projects $41.4-million of the $50-million total. Municipalities not on the committee got to share the $2.5-million remainder.
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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Steve & Dimitri do some ethical oiling of a government website


And that's just what they did.


On August 10th I noticed some Privy Council Office googling for "suncor third largest investor in Syria" that landed on the June 1st Creekside post Ethical oil in Syria explained.

Hmmm, I thought, better check to make sure that Canada government website I linked to is still good. Yup, still there :

"Canada is now the 3rd largest foreign direct investor in Syria due to a $1.2 billion Suncor/ Petro Canada gas project."
The next day that offending sentence was gone from their site.

Here's their new page dated Aug 11, 2011. It mentions "an embargo on certain trade sectors" in Syria but of course this does not apply to the Canadian oil and gas sector. Google cache of the old page here.
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Tuesday Update : Ethical Oil Campaign Uses Stolen, Faked Photos
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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Steve & Dimitri - Canadian potty

Yesterday in Colombia, Harper attacked the critics of his Canada-Colombia free trade investment agreement who object to the deaths of a couple hundred unionists and the displacement of 4.9 million people in the struggle for control over land for the development of resources that over 70 Canadian extraction companies are heavily involved in. Steve  :
"We can’t block the progress of a country like this for protectionist reasons, and (they’re) trying to use human rights as a front for doing that."
If that line sounds familiar, yes, it's the same "human rights as a phony front" argument he uses to defend Israel's atrocities in Gaza.

Tomorrow it's on to Honduras where the Harper government was the first to sanction the right wing coup in 2009 that replaced leftist president Zelaya who coincidentally had put a moratorium on further foreign mining concessions.
Honduras is getting its own Canadian free investment agreement soon as well.
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Update : DAMMIT JANET gets confirmation on Steve's toiletbunker incident
The Regina Mom launches a potty flashmail!
Biff Loman's toon looks ahead to the next FTA
Boris notes a more recent source for Steve's 'phony human rights' shtick
Dr. Dawg and Kev have updates on the moral bankruptcy of the Canada-Colombia Free Investment Agreement
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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

"Harper went to the bathroom for 'regular reasons' "

reports Brazilian Foreign Ministry official Carlos de Abreu, hoping to refute an earlier story in the local Brazilian press that Steve had locked himself in the bathroom in a hissy fit over press arrangements not to his liking and wouldn't come out till they were changed.

Personally I think the revised explanation of Steve's actions on the world stage lacks a certain gravitas.
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Sunday, August 07, 2011

CSIS recycles old leaks slagging Abdelrazik, Charkaoui

A leaked 2004 CSIS report from LaPresse on Thursday purports to be a summary of a conversation between Abousfian Abdelrazik and Adil Charkaoui  in 2000 in which they plotted to blow up an airplane enroute between Montreal and France. It has already been enthusiastically repeated across our national press :
CBC : CSIS file reveals plot to bomb plane: La Presse
Gosh, CBC, your previous nice pix of Abdelrazik and Charkaoui are now replaced by scary ones
G&M : Abdelrazik and Charkaoui plotted plane bomb: report
AFP : Two Canada terror suspects plotted France attack: report

etc. ... etc. ...
Never mind that this 'news' was already reported nearly two years ago after a federal court judge annulled Charkaoui's security certificate because government lawyers refused the judge's order to reveal their wiretap evidence, citing "security concerns".
About now you are probably wondering what kind of "security concerns" trumps giving evidence about someone you allege was plotting to blow up a plane.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney :
"I read the protected confidential dossiers on such individuals, and I can tell you that, without commenting on any one individual, some of this intelligence makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck,” he said. “I just think people should be patient and thoughtful and give the government and its agencies the benefit of the doubt."
The re-leak has nonetheless been greeted with skepticism by Boris, Dr. Dawg, Pogge, Sixth Estate and no doubt many others because we all remember previous security leaks from government officials who are more than happy to anonymously rejig conveniently-timed select bits of complete bullshit to a cooperative media.


Let's review just the anonymous bullshit security leaks about Maher Arar for instance, for which no public officials were ever called to account and who are presumably still happily at it.

In 2002 while Arar was being tortured in Syria, an anonymous official source linked Arar to "a suspected member of Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist network." That suspected member was Abdullah Almalki - later cleared by the Iacobucci inquiry.

Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar :
CanWest bureau chief Robert Fife, July 24, 2003 :"Terror threats in Ottawa: Two kinds of fear: Report says
Syrian intelligence helped U.S. to foil al-Qaeda plot on target in Ottawa : One official would only tell CanWest News Service that Mr. Arar, a 36-year-old Ottawa engineer, is a 'very bad guy' who apparently received military training at an Al-Qaeda base. "
As noted by Justice O'Connor in the report : "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"
Coincidentally the sudden re-issuing of this "new" leak about blowing up planes happens to coincide with Abdelrazik's attempt to get his name off the UN 1267 terror list this month.
To continue :
G&M, Oct 10, 2003 : unnamed Canadian government sources said that Mr. Arar had been “roughed up,” but not tortured, while in detention in Syria

CTV, Oct. 23, 2003 : “senior government officials in various departments” said that Mr. Arar had provided information to the Syrians about al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and cells operating in Canada.

Juliet O'Neill, Ottawa Citizen, Nov. 2003 : “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.”

Fife : Dec. 30, 2003 : "US, Canada '100% sure' Arar trained with al-Qaeda" : “a senior Canadian intelligence source said the United States had an extensive dossier on Mr. Arar and that “if the Americans were ever to declassify the stuff, there would be some hair standing on end."
Toronto Star : Learning from media mistakes in Arar case May 2009 :

"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. He also told him of an offer he had turned down – a photograph of Arar training in a camp in Afghanistan. As he describes: "The source wanted me to use the information without showing me the photograph. That was a very solid source... This experience has made me more skeptical... I knew these people very well."
So you'll have to forgive the rest of us if we also share Craig Oliver's reluctance to be conned into accepting any more conveniently-timed leaks and smears from anonymous security officials who for all we know are the same ones who previously set out to turn public opinion against Arar even as they destroyed his life for reasons they have yet to account for.
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Thursday, August 04, 2011

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Canadian media : It can't happen here.

We're getting a lot of stories from our media who are at pains to assure us a Canadian equivalent to the Rupert Murdoch scandal of cozy incestuous relationships with British politicians and illegal phone hacking/dirty tricks couldn't possibly happen here in Canada.

Really? No cozy incestuous relationships? No dirty tricks?

On March 30, 2009, Stephen Harper, PMO staffer Kory Teneycke, Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News, and Roger Ailes, president of Fox News and former communications adviser to Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr., all sat down to lunch.

We know this because it showed up in the mandatory disclosures media consultant and former White House flack Ari Fleischer made to the U.S. Justice Department. Ari, you will recall, had a personal contract with Steve to grease US media wheels for him. Teneycke had a dream of a Canadian Fox news channel.
Four months later, Teneycke had left the PMO - barely a year into his job as Harper's chief spokesman - only to pick up a contract with Quebecor to explore a project that Ottawa insiders almost immediately described as a fledgling "Fox News North."
Three more PMO staffers followed Teneyke to SunMedia : an issues management adviser, an advertising manager, and an issues management researcher, described as "a guy who could dig up any dirt on the opposition in a jiffy".

Teneycke himself had to take a brief three and half month leave from heading his new project after conflict-of-interest embarrassments ramped up following his Sun op-ed and public admission to prior knowledge of the hacking of an Avaaz petition hostile to his setting up of a Fox News North in Canada.

Teneycke was back in the Sun saddle during Steve's re-election campaign in April this year when a fifth former PMO staffer, Harper's former deputy chief of staff Patrick Muttart, sent him a photo of an Ignatieff look-alike posing in full combat gear in Kuwait in 2002.
"Ignatieff linked to Iraq war planning" ran the SunMedia headline and story, sans photo, before Teneycke apparently tumbled to the ruse.

Patrick Muttart was working for the Con election war room at the time, while simultaneously heading the "Canada/US practice" at the US PR firm Mercury Public Affairs, where he works under Terry Nelson. Nelson, former political director of the 2004 Bush Cheney campaign and McCain-Palin campaign manager, now a Senior Advisor to teabagger and 2012 presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, is famous for the race-baiting campaign ads and phonejamming dirty tricks done under his GOP watch, and for employing the media advisor on the original Swiftboat Veterans For Truth ads which used lies and doctored photos to smear John Kerry's war record during his run for US president.

Amusingly, the CTV piece, Harper immune from Murdoch-style scandal, makes extensive use of analysis from Muttart to assure us a similar scandal could not happen here. We just don't have the same "intense, quasi-incestuous" clique of political and media elites, Muttart says without irony.
Besides, another Harper former chief of staff, Ian Brodie, explains about Canadian papers: "so few people actually read most of them."

Yet somehow the rightwing National Post muddles on for 13 years losing $9-million a year, no one seems to know who owns CanWest/PostMedia now besides it being some US hedge fund and so much for the rule limiting foreign media ownership to a third, and 99% of the papers which endorsed a candidate in the last election all endorsed Steve.

We could have a Murdoch-style scandal here and it would be out of the news cycle again the same week, no damage done.

Update : More from David Climenhaga at Rabble
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Monday, August 01, 2011

Hello ... hello? Is this thing on?

Only 660 signatures so far in support of Canadian artist Franke James - whose tour Steve is trying to shut down?

Seriously? That's all the support we can muster?


"The Government of Canada is trying to shut down an international tour by artist Franke James because of her criticism of its environmental record.

Top officials are using intimidation tactics to prevent her from being supported by any Canadian embassies or agencies. They pressured her corporate sponsor into dropping its offer of $75,000 in support. They tried to coerce Nektarina Non Profit in Croatia into rescinding their invitation. (Nektarina refused.)

This kind of anti-democratic intimidation must stop. Insist the Government of Canada stop trying to muzzle free speech.

We the undersigned urge you to support the international tour of artist Franke James and to put an end to the Government of Canada's intimidation of embassies and agencies who wish to promote her work abroad.

Ms. James is a credit to Canada. Her work is internationally recognized because of her ability to address difficult environmental issues through art and storytelling, without preaching or insisting on a particular viewpoint.

Canada's reputation as a free and just society will be enhanced by your leadership on this. Thank you for your consideration of our request."

Your signature here.

Thank you. Please pass it on.
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