Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Standing with Israel through fire and water and sunny ways

This is what we look like at the United Nations General Assembly right now - one of a half dozen outliers of little red squares on the big screen voting NO on every single vote to do with Palestine.  It's the same look we've had for over a decade - standing with Israel through fire and water and now sunny ways - in the yearly UN ritual of non-binding resolutions on a humanitarian disaster that inconveniently implicates Israel.

The other NO voters are always Israel, the US and their coalition of the willing islands where the US has military bases, and occasionally Australia. We do not choose to abstain from voting, as some of the other 193 member nations do when they object to some part of the language of a resolution being biased or too critical of Israel; we just vote NO to all of it. 

Last Tuesday we voted against this one, sponsored by South Africa, calling for Palestine's right to sovereignty over her own natural resources :

December 22 2015 - Resolution 70/225 :
“Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources”   (document A/70/480) excerpted :
"Deploring the detrimental impact of the Israeli settlements on Palestinian and other Arab natural resources, especially as a result of the confiscation of land and the forced diversion of water resources, including the destruction of orchards and crops and the seizure of water wells by Israeli settlers.... Further calls upon Israel to cease its destruction of vital infrastructure, including water pipelines, sewage networks and electricity networks" 
  • 164 in favour
  • 5 against, (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, United States)
  • 10 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Togo, Tonga, Vanuatu).
Here's another dozen Canadian NO votes on Palestinian issues from the last month :

December 17 2015 
Resolution 70/441 : The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination 
  • 177 in favour
  • 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States)
  • 4 abstentions (Cameroon, Honduras, Tonga, South Sudan).
December 10 2015
Resolution 70/108 : Assistance to the Palestinian people -introduced by Luxembourg on behalf of the EU and yet to be voted on.
A representative of the Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine noted the World Bank had recently assessed the economy of Gaza to be “on the verge of collapse” and more than 100,000 Palestinian civilians remained displaced after 2014"

Israel responded that it "made continuous efforts to improve the well-being of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip" and blamed the Palestinian Authority for "evading its responsibilities regarding governance in Gaza".
  • 158 in favour
  • 8 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States) 
  • 10 abstentions (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Honduras, Liberia, Malawi, Paraguay, Togo, Vanuatu)
"by which it condemned Israel’s continuing settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, as violations of international humanitarian law" 
  • 161 in favour
  • 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States)
  • 8 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Honduras, Paraguay, Togo, Vanuatu) 

"The Assembly reaffirmed the Geneva Convention’s applicability, and further demanded that Israel accept the Convention’s de jure applicability in those territories"
  • 163 votes in favour
  • 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, United States)
  • 8 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Paraguay, Togo, Vanuatu)
Resolution 70/87 : Work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories 
  • 158 in favour
  • 8 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States) 
  • 10 abstentions (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Honduras, Liberia, Malawi, Paraguay, Togo, Vanuatu)
Resolution 70/86 : Palestine refugees' properties and their revenues
"By its terms, the Assembly reaffirmed that Palestine refugees were entitled to their property and to the income derived therefrom"  
  • 167 in favour
  • 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States)
  • 4 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Paraguay, Vanuatu)

  • 169 votes in favour 
  • 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, United States)
  • 5 abstentions (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Nauru, Paraguay, Vanuatu)
Persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities
  • 164 in favour 
  • 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States) 
  • 7 abstentions (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Honduras, Liberia, Paraguay)

"the continuing detrimental impact of ongoing unlawful Israeli practices and measures in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, such as excessive use of force by Israeli occupying troops against Palestinian civilians" 
  • 92 in favour
  • 9 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Panama, United States)
  • 75 abstentions

November 24 2015 
Resolution 70/15 Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine excerpted :
"The Assembly reaffirmed the need to achieve a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine. It called for the intensification of efforts by the parties, including through negotiations, with the support of the international community, towards the conclusion of a final peace settlement, as well as urging renewed international efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, based on the relevant United Nations resolutions; the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference, including the principle of land for peace; the Arab Peace Initiative adopted by the Council of the League of Arab States at its fourteenth session; the Quartet road map to a permanent two-State solution to the conflict; and existing agreements between the Israeli and Palestinian sides."
  • 155 in favour 
  • 7 against (Australia, Canada, Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United States) 
  • 7 abstentions (Cameroon, Honduras, Nauru, Paraguay, South Sudan, Togo, Tonga).
Resolution 70/14 : Special information programme on the question of Palestine 
  • 155 in favour 
  • 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States)
  • 7 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Tonga)
Resolution 70/13 : Division for Palestinian Rights 
  • 99 in favour 
  • 8 against (Australia, Canada, Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States)
  • 59 abstentions
  • 102 in favour
  • 8 against (Australia, Canada, Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States)
  • 57 abstentions
General Assembly of the UN Resolutions for November and December 2015

Sunny ways.


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Another *grassroots* industry-funded Con tank

Canadian Cynic wonders how the astroturf/fundraiser actiontank Conservative Voice, according to their own website, can manage to juggle :
"Conservative Voice believes that Canada needs an organized, non-profit voice financed by industry to ensure that the Canadian political landscape remains in balance"
with :
"Funded and supported by citizens who cherish individual freedom, free markets, and smaller government." 
Good question. They also declare :
"Conservative Voice is independent of all political parties."

The sole director for Conservative Voice listed at Industry Canada is Dan Hilton, who was personally hired on by Irving Gerstein as Executive Director of the Conservative Party of Canada in January 2009, a position Hilton held til October 2013. 
The Conservative Voice website was registered five months later in March 2014 and Hilton is still thumping up business for them.

(You'll perhaps recall Conservative Fund head Irving Gerstein told Hilton about Nigel Wright's $90K personal cheque to Duffy long before the rest of us heard about it.)

Political analyst Alise Mills, who divides her analyzing time between Ezra Levant's Rebel Media and CBC's Power and Politics, was named National Executive Director at Conservative Voice this past July by "Dan Hilton, Founder and Chair". 
Alise Mills' previously plumped for the astroturf pipelines booster site British Columbians for Prosperity, and apparently will continue to do so in her new gig at ConVoice
"On Monday November 9th, our Executive Director, Alise Mills, stands up for Canadian jobs, ethical oil and notes the hypocrisy of cancelling Keystone XL."
I'm not sure what Industry Canada means when it lists Conservative Voice as a "Non-Soliciting" Corporation, but ConVoice held a big fundraiser at the Marriott in Ottawa a couple of weeks ago on December 9 with guest speaker Tony Clement and Rebel Media's Brian Lilley.

Last year, Conservative Voice explained their fundraising objective
" ... the real battle takes place between elections."
“We need your corporate support now to build a campaign for the Conservative Voice .... This seed money should be considered a lobbying/activism expense as we promote your conservative corporate agenda. We are seeking funds to finance a national mail and telephone campaign to small and medium sized business owners to build our war chest ahead of the next election so that we can start to push our message in early 2015.”
Corps will get their tax receipt outside the writ period which imposes spending caps on PACs.

Their Mission Statement :
"To raise support and awareness for conservative ideals; and to keep Canada on the right track of Conservative principles and policies while keeping Canada’s political landscape balanced."
Big C in Conservative. Alrighty then.

Monday update : via Greg Fingus : How the Koch network rivals the GOP, overtaking political parties and candidates, infusing money and talent, and answerable to no one. 

This, Greg notes, underscores our need up here for counterbalancing citizens' movements  working across party lines. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

I love the smell of grassroots in the morning

There's a new *grassroots effort* to defend democracy with a CPC MP-sponsored petition campaign to back it up. 
"Defend Democracy is a grassroots effort to put pressure on Justin Trudeau’s Liberals to commit to holding a national referendum on the issue of electoral reform prior to enacting any changes.
We believe firmly that no one government has the moral authority to fundamentally alter the nature of our democratic system without direct approval from Canadians."
Defend Democracy was created by Harrison Ruess and Stephen Taylor.
House of Commons petition E-48 was launched by Michael Rybacha and sponsored by CPC MP Scott Reid

So how grassroots is it?

Stephen Taylor - self-described "Conservative Party of Canada Pundit", president of the online company Rally For Canada Inc. offering "online issue campaigns, petition drives, and data mining" since 2009. Launched the short-lived HarperPAC with Trudeau attack ad last June. HarperPAC, registered to Corp, still exists but is password-protected now.

Scott Reid, MP, petition sponsor - Conservative democratic institutions critic 

Funny story about Mr. Reid. 
In 2011, someone who worked under Conservative Speaker of the Senate Noel Kinsella for ten years interviewed Morton Blackwell of the US Leadership Institute for his dissertation. You'll perhaps recall Morton Blackwell, mentor of a young Karl Rove, as the Republican delegate who once handed out pink band aids mocking John Kerry's war wounds in Viet NamHis Arlington Virginia Leadership Institute (budget - $14.8M per year) is a training ground for conservative activists practicing "grass-roots efforts".
"Scott Reid, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington, had on two occasions arranged for the Leadership Institute to run day-long seminars for Conservative parliamentary staff and interns. 

Members of the Leadership Institute eventually began to organize candidate training schools in Canada. Mr. Blackwell also mentioned receiving a visit from Preston Manning, the founder of both the Reform Party and the Canadian Alliance, when he was establishing his retirement project, the Manning Centre for Building Democracy. 
When asked about the criteria the Leadership Institute uses to decide which ideological groups in other countries the organization will work with, Mr. Blackwell indicated his test was their congruence with the political philosophy of Ronald Reagan. 
Today, the staff of the Leadership Institute runs training programs a few times a year through the aforementioned Mr. Reid’s office."

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Duffy, Sona, Finley, and Lunn

Three live accounts from CBC, CTV, and the Ottawa Citizen covering Mike Duffy's allegations under oath at his trial that :
1) Con campaign chair Doug Finley's "black ops" team perpetrated the Saanich-Gulf Islands robocalls in the 2008 federal election (Dec. 10 testimony) and 
2) Doug Finley said Sona could not have perped the Guelph robocalls in the 2011 election because he hadn't taken their black ops course. (Dec. 16 testimony)

John Paul Tasker, live blog at CBC  Dec 10 2015 10:01am :
"[Gary] Lunn met with Duffy and a lobbyist for Molson (big sponsor of the Olympics) at Hy's steakhouse in Ottawa. He wanted to discuss his 'election problems.' Duffy says Lunn was concerned, he had only squeaked by in the last election. 'He wouldn't have won without the intervention of Doug Finley's black ops at headquarters ... They used robocalls to misdirect NDP voters headed to the polls,' Duffy says, the Conservatives knew who all the NDP supporters were (because of their voter database), they made targeted calls to NDP urging them to vote for the NDP candidate. Problem is, the NDP candidate had dropped out after the deadline to withdraw, would still be on the ballot. Lunn told Duffy he had no idea he just a call after from HQ 'saying you're welcome Gary.' " 
"Lunn wanted Duffy to come out for 'third party validation,' to help him win over non-Conservative voters, because it had been so close last time and he had only won because of Finley's dirty tricks."  
John Paul Tasker, liveblog at CBC, Dec 16 2015  1:08 pm today :
"Turning now to June 18, 2009. 'Duty entertainment' with Gary Lunn at Hy's. ... This is the meeting where you described election fraud, Holmes said. Duffy said I didn't say it's election fraud, I said they mobilized robo calls to confuse NDP voters, I'm not a lawyer, I'm not sure if it's fraud, they thought it was clever. Did you think it was clever? I didn't think about it too much. That's why Lunn told me 'I was hanging on by my fingernails,' please come out and help me on labour day to win by riding. Duffy says the motivation to invite me out was for me to help him with campaigning. Would Harper have known about Doug Finley and his black ops? I have no idea. Duffy says I have no knowledge if Harper knew about those robocalls."
"Duffy says robo calls or misdirecting goes on in every party especially during leadership races; Duffy says parliament hill is rife with stories of manipulation. Holmes says did you keep Lunn's story to yourself. Yes. You didn't see it fit to go to Elections Canada to report this? No. Lunn only knew that he got a phone call when someone says 'you're welcome.' 
Duffy says when Michael Sona took the fall for the robo calls in Guelph [in 2011], Doug Finley flew off the handle. 'He hasn't taken our courses,' on black ops, 'he wouldn't know enough to do this,' Duffy says Finley said."

Katie Simpson, live blog at CTV  Dec 16 2015 today :
"Duffy says members of Conservative political "black ops" teams went to international conferences to learn tactics.
When Michael Sona robocall story broke, he was with Doug Finely. Duffy says Finley said "this kid doesn't know enough"
Duffy says Finley said that Sona hadn't been on this course."

Kady O'Malley, live blog for The Citizen on Dec 10, re Saanich-Gulf Islands in 2008 :
"The only way Lunn hung on to that seat, according to Duffy, was through the "black ops" robo-calls campaign to misdirect NDP voters, which was, he recalled, perpetrated by then-Conservative campaign chair Doug Finley."
Today in her Ottawa Citizen blog however, after she quotes Duffy : 
"Doug Finley "raced out" saying that Sona "couldn't be guilty" as he hadn't been on their course."
she writes :
But Duffy *now* concedes that at no point was Finley mentioned during the meeting at Hy's -- Lunn just told him about the subsequent phone call saying "you're welcome."
So just to clarify, Duffy is now backing away from his headline-ready anecdote last week about Doug Finley's black ops teams in Saanich, which now seems to be a conflation of separate stories, but which he acknowledges he didn't share with anyone else, including Elections Canada. (Nor does he seem to have been particularly surprised or appalled by the revelation.)"

Back in February 2012 before he went under the Con bus, Duffy was busy attempting to deflect blame away from the Conservatives about the 2011 election robo/live calls 
“I don’t believe it was the Conservative Party. But if something is going on, don’t forget, we have all these other groups,” Mr. Duffy said. 
“People have to remember that it’s not just political parties that are operating during a federal election campaign,” he added. “Under the law, we have all kinds of interested third parties that are operating in election campaigns, and I think that’s where we have to be careful. People are throwing stones but there have been third parties that have been attacking Conservatives as well as Liberals and New Democrats.”
Nice try but third party operations are not necessarily independent of the parties they support.
Also notable that Duffy mounted this handy 2012 deflection for the Cons nearly three years after his 2009 meeting with Lunn and his presumed knowledge of Con campaign chair Finley's alleged "black ops" operations in Saanich-Gulf Islands that he never mentioned to Elections Canada.

An excerpt on the 2008 Saanich-Gulf Islands robocalls pilot project from the documentary Election Day in Canada : The Rise of Voter Suppression is online here

With Harper now out of office, the media is bored with the whole business of election fraud because it's never going to happen ever again, right?  After Elections Canada determined there had been a widespread campaign of electoral fraud targetting non-Conservatives in at least 247 ridings, they closed their puny investigation and declined to put it before the courts.

Democracy Watch is taking the Conservatives to court because government lawyers won’t. 
If you have a few bucks to spare, kick them over a donation towards their court costs at the link.

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