Friday, August 31, 2007

SPP and the Zapatistas

One of the sanest, clearest overviews of the SPP I've read to date comes from the Zapatistas. Intended as a primer, Ten Easy Questions and Ten Tougher Ones Regarding the SPPNA is of particular interest in that it addresses the threats posed by the SPP to the people of the western hemisphere as a whole, as opposed to the more US/Canada-centric coverage we are used to up here. In this context it is rather chilling to read casual mention of Canada having already signed away the right to control the extent of her oil trade with the US.

A snippet for all you non-clickers out there :

11. How are these regulations drafted and approved?

In most cases the enforcement of regulations requires just the chief executives' signatures. It is actually corporate lawyers who draft the language of the regulations, especially those having to do with trade, in consultation with selected government officials and academics. This procedure overturns the traditional roles played by governments and corporations and in essence constitutes the privatization of what had traditionally been considered a public prerogative.

The link is provided by Christopher Hayes, who I took to task here for his dismissive article in The Nation regarding the dangers of SPP. Mr Hayes left me a comment with a link to his blog, explaining that while still not convinced, he had cut a sentence from his original article that noted gutting regulations and giving corporations free reign were likely a part of the SPP agenda.
After reading this Zapatista position paper, Mr Hayes writes:
"The more I hear the more wary I become, although even this bill of indictment seems a bit vague—more focused on the general worldview out of which it springs and the motivations of the US than specifics about what, exactly the SPP has accomplished or plans to accomplish. Although, since they’re apparently keeping all SPP documents secret, I guess one can hardly blame the critics."
Warier faster, please, Mr Hayes.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

All yr elekshnz is belong 2 us

Not this time, buddy.

Major kudos to Blogging a Dead Horse for his post a week ago : "Conservatives begin replacing opposition MPs with the Pod People" The link to BC Con Caucus Chair and MP Dick Harris's little presser on appointing an unelected Con party hack to virtually replace the elected NDP MP Nathan Cullen kicked off a blogstorm that eventually woke up the paper(tiger)media.

Frank Frink has an excellent DKos diary post up, detailing the whole affair from BaDH, through the blogswarm to :

Barbara Yaffe, Vancouver Sun : "Realistic" Conservatives try to bypass an elected MP.
"Throwing in the waste bin the principles that make representative government in Canada function"

Globe&Mail : Want services? Forget your MP, Tory chair says.
"Dick Harris tells radio listeners to go to Conservative candidate instead of NDP MP."

and CTV : Tories backtrack from candidate as representative

The 'candidate' in question intends to run as a Con in the next election, but is currently just a mayor.
Attempting to gain distance from Harris's maneuver, PMO spokesman Ryan Sparrow said, "He just kind of did that himself.''

I see. The BC Chair of the Conservative Caucus has gone all Lee Harvey Oswald on the party.
Unfortunately for Sparrow's little disclaimer, bloggers have already discovered other such examples of unelected fake Con MPs. What about those Pod People? I guess they are all acting on their own too.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Shadowy MPs from a shadowy parliament

Losing to Lib Blair Wilson in the last federal election in the West Van Sunshine Coast Sea-to-Sky riding didn't slow SoCon candidate John Weston down one whit : he just went ahead and behaved as if he had won.
Referring to himself as "the candidate of record" and Dion as "a left-wing Liberal leader more accountable to France than Western Canada", Weston regularly sends out "Getting Things Done In Ottawa" missives in the mail. This year he held a party at his house for 50 new Asian Canadians and announced that he had adopted a Chinese name for himself : "Wei Tzu Ang". [OK, John, but you're still Caucasian]
Local papers regularly run info ads and photos of Weston with visiting Con MPs, like this :

"I will continue to work for the people of Whistler and of other regions of our riding. Jason Kenney’s visit last week was just one endeavour that will produce benefits for Whistler. I will continue to work with the people of Whistler myself and to invite senior elected officials here in order to foster better decision-making in Ottawa that affects us here."

or this one :

"Over the past two years, I have worked closely with the Whistler Chamber of Commerce and local business people to resolve issues relating to critical labour shortages. I passed on these concerns to the Ministers of Citizenship & Immigration and Human Resources Development, along with specific recommendations."

Trouble is, this is the guy we didn't elect, apparently doing an end run round democracy here.
Ah, but we didn't elect a candidate from the Getting Things Doners, did we?
How can we expect to be properly represented in the HoC in this riding by a candidate from other than the ruling party?

Now if this seems a peculiar interpretation of democracy, it is part of a larger concerted bullying strategy from the Cons, and when they turn it up one more notch, it looks like this.

Dr Dawg does his usual round up. Frank Frink has updates.

The SPP, UFOs, Hitler, and....whoa, nice rack!

"The SPP, is the very kind of organization that one could expect to be launched by an alleged greed-driven "Security Partnership" for the "prosperity" of Human elite minions and Manipulative Extraterrestrials that has been well documented by Dr. Salla and others, toward realizing Adolf Hitler's ambition for a New World Order."
~ The Canadian National Newspaper

And here I thought having the John Birch Society on our side would be problematic.

Monday, August 27, 2007

SPP : Interview with Dave Coles

The Harper Index interviews Dave Coles

Coles, the union leader who exposed the police provos at Montebello, previously expressed some exasperation with the media preoccupation with rocks and tear gas. He'd rather see a little more attention paid to why he was at Montebello in the first place :

"It's all about Canada's energy security
There is no pipeline from the Alberta tar sands to refineries in eastern Canada. All production, to get to eastern Canada, must go through the United States of America. Ninety nine percent of all Canadians, including most politicians, don't understand that.
The stuff should be processed in Canada so we get the economic value from it, and the jobs, and society gets to determine the overall value we will get from it. Harper and his gang want it sold and shipped directly to the States. Canada, and especially Alberta, get the pollution, and the U.S. gets the jobs.
When Canadian raw crude oil has to go through the U.S. before it can get to any eastern refineries, including the big Irving refinery in St. John, New Brunswick, don't we have the right to ask "What about Canada's energy security?"

The same applies for electricity. There's no east-west grid, it's all north-south. Ontario is landlocked from Manitoba. All we want to do is make sure these questions get asked so Canadians see how these questions are dealt with. The SPP should be dealt with in the House of Commons. Politicians should be the ones dealing with it, not the corporate elite."

Police provocateurs at peaceful demonstrations is the sexy news story alright and it's important, but equally important is why those thugs were sent in there to discredit opposition to SPP.
As Coles says :
"If the real reason the Council of Canadians and we were there were understood, the public would be up in arms about the SPP."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Just Say No! to The Quagmire on Drugs

Ever since pot "Just Said No!" to me many years ago, I haven't kept up on The War on Drugs news much, other than to note that at best it appears to be a gigantic federal money laundering racket in those countries which have embraced it. I had rather assumed that along with giving women the vote and widespread acceptance of the benefits of bathing, legalization of marijuana was just one more benchmark in the long march toward civilization that we would eventually get around to.

While I'm not aware of Health Minister Tony Clements' position on female emancipation and personal hygiene, he recently announced an upcoming $64M federal anti-drug program, presumably to better align Canadian policy with the spectacularly corrupt and utterly ineffective US War on youth, blacks, hispanics and the poor Drugs program.

The UN recently reported that Canada has the highest use of marijuana in the industrialized world, clocking in at 16.8%, with over half of the population supporting decriminalization as laid out in the LeDain Commission 35 freakin years ago. The Toronto Star :

"In 2003, the Liberal government introduced a bill to decriminalize possession of less than 15 grams, making it subject to a fine but no criminal record.

The move caused immediate criticism in Washington. It warned Ottawa that if the bill passed, Canadians would pay for it at the border with increased security checks and lengthy delays.
In 2004, Conservative leader Stephen Harper said he opposed decriminalization but that "we can look at fines rather than jail terms for possession under five grams."

When the Tories came to power two years later, however, they killed the Liberal bill.
"Are they kowtowing to the U.S.? Almost certainly," says [Ottawa lawyer Eugene] Oscapella.

From an article on how the war on drugs is undermining western security, Misha Glenny writes in The Washington Post :

"British Columbia is now home to the greatest number of organized-crime syndicates anywhere in the world (if we accept the U.N. definition of a syndicate as more than two people involved in a planned crime). According to B.C. government statistics, the production, distribution and export of B.C. Bud, highly potent marijuana grown in hothouses along the province's border with the US, accounts for 6 percent of the region's gross domestic product. It now employs more Canadians than British Columbia's traditional industries of mining and logging combined.

The majority of the province's criminals remain passive hippie types for whom the drug is a lifestyle choice. But as Brian Brennan, the chief investigator for the drug squad of the RCMP told me, the marijuana trade is threatening to turn nasty as British Columbia's Hells Angels, one of the best-organized criminal syndicates in the world, moves in on the action.

An avalanche of B.C. Bud rolls southward into the United States every day, dodging U.S. customs in myriad imaginative ways. But as the Hell's Angels and other syndicates get stronger and their control over the port of Vancouver tightens, the ability of U.S. and Canadian authorities to monitor the border becomes ever weaker."

BC as a snow bound banana republic.
Reading US editorials like this, I can better appreciate why Americans respond to the news that you come from British Columbia with praise at how well you speak English.

Over in the Netherlands, where civilization seems to be on a more secure footing and possession isn't a criminal offence, consumption is only 6.1%.

Oscapala again in the Toronto Star : "This shows that criminal law does not prevent people from using marijuana, nor does legalization make people use it."

Well exactly.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Revolution will be YouTubed...

Sockwell Day in the Globe&Mail :

"The thing that was interesting in this particular incident, three people in question were spotted by protesters because were not engaging in violence," Mr. Day said.
"They were being encouraged to throw rocks and they were not throwing rocks, it was the protesters who were throwing the rocks. That's the irony of this," Mr. Day said.
Mr. Day added the actions were substantiated by the video that he has seen of the protests.
"Because they were not engaging in violence, it was noted that they were probably not protesters. I think that's a bit of an indictment against the violent protesters," Mr. Day said."

Substantiated? Not so much. But irony? Oh yeah.
The local Global TV news out of Vancouver Island obligingly ran large portions of Paul Manly's YouTube and the Quebec Prov Police surviellance video to accompany Mr Day's statement on the 6-o-clock news last night. Both clearly showed union leader Dave Coles' repeated demands to one QPP undercover cop to drop his rock and not cause trouble while another undercover was shoving Coles around.

QPP Inspector Marcel Savard complained on the same TV newscast that the video didn't show events prior to the shoving and rock-wielding incident.

That's right! I'd forgotten about the lead-up to this. Here's Dave Coles' As It Happens interview back on Wednesday :

"I didn't know they were police right away but I knew they were agitators because earlier they had been trying to get the young kids down on the road to cause trouble."
Memo to Doris : Paul Manly's video and the various clones it has inspired have now registered nearly 200,000 hits on YouTube. Congratulations on hanging it so firmly around the neck of your government.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Still on the milk carton...

It must have seemed like a terrific idea at the time.

Three guys with their faces hidden by identical kerchiefs, one of them holding a rock the size of a friggin melon, headed off towards a line of Surete du Quebec police in full riot garb. Union leader David Coles intercepted them, first demanding that they take their rock and bugger off, and then when they refused he demanded that they reveal their faces.

At this point they still had the opportunity to just walk away and blend back into the crowd again with their identities intact, as any sensible member of Black Bloc would certainly have done. Instead the video shows they approached the same police line they had earlier appeared bent on attacking and disappeared into it to be taken into custody. WTF?

And now we learn there is no publicly available paper trail documenting their arrest.

Choose One :

1) New Black Bloc tactic : Immediately surrender to the nearest policeman the first time some unarmed old guy tells you to bugger off.

2) Agent Provocateur. But for whom? The Star :

"The Mounties and Quebec provincial police deny using agents provocateurs at this week's Montebello summit, despite video evidence that suggests undercover cops tried to incite violence."

A statement that clearly shifts the blame to either CSIS or the US, and from which they will have to hurriedly back off again any moment now. I'm not sure where we go to protest American agents provocateur attempting to incite a riot in the middle of a peaceful protest miles away from the Montebello summit, but I'm pretty sure Steve and Doris won't be instigating it.

3) These are the same fuckwits who respond to either winning or losing a Grey Cup or a Tidy Bowl by smashing store windows and acting all "For the people, man!" about it, followed up by spending the next day at work wishing they were a lion tamer.

RossK first sent me the video days ago - here's one of his many good posts on this - but for a complete listing of everybody's coverage since then, Dr Dawg has the video, the stills, and a ton o links.


From the Quebec Provincial Police via RossK:

"Following the diffusion of a video extract on Internet site, possibly implying members of the Safety of Quebec at the time of the Summit of Montebello, the latter would like to bring certain precise details. After having analyzed its contents, in addition to taking note of the vidéos recorded by the police bodies, it is able now to confirm that these individuals are police officers of the Safety of Quebec."

Major props to Paul Manly of Nanaimo for putting up that YouTube. You can bet we never would have heard about this otherwise. And hats off to labour leader Dave Cole for having the guts and leadership to call them out without losing his cool and the smarts to hold a press conference about it.

Loved this bit from the QPP : "The police officers were located by the demonstrators at the time when they refused to launch projectiles."

Refused to launch projectiles? I dearly hope that's a translation problem and not just more Quebec Provincial Provocateurs ass-covering bullshit. This ain't over.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

SPP : "No SouPP for you!"

Remember back here when I told you the John Birch Society, a Swift Boater, and the Minutemen were holding a presser in Ottawa to announce their solidarity with the anti-SPP protesters? A rightwing Canadian blogger or two reacted by complaining that I obviously didn't think the Birchers were good enough to protest with the rest of us.

Turns out the Birchers don't think we're good enough to protest with them. From the JBS website :

"The decision to send out the riot police, some armed with tear gas, was made late this morning. As groups of protesters shouted slogans phalanxes of officers arrived and completely cordoned off the area of the Chateau" where the summit is being held, said the report.

Such rent-a-mob activity at the summit should not be confused with legitimate and principled opposition. Anarchist and communist mob violence of this sort, which has been on display at previous high-level meetings of heads of state, typically serves to discredit legitimate, peaceful protest and opposition. As such the John Birch Society condemns violent protest activity..." yada, yada, and yada.

So who are these "anarchist and communist" types who are bringing down the whole "legitimate and principled" tone that the John Birch Society is itself so world-renowned for? This "rent-a-mob" group who would "discredit the legitimate peaceful protest" Birchers strive so hard for?

Check out their embedded CSNews link : Canadian Communists March Against Bush.
***snerk***snigger***It's the Canadian Labour Congress.***snort***

No direct link to the Birchers from here - You can crank that particular ol' Google yourself.

Montebello SPP protest blog news

So seldom does one get to see riot police featured against a backdrop of beautiful verdant greenery. Or as Princess Leia put it : "A little short for a stormtrooper, aren't you?"

Photo by Jennifer at Runesmith's Canadian Content blog, back from the SPP protests at Montebello with her personal photos and stories and promises of more to come.

More pix and a good account of the Vancouver protests from Moonwolf at The News is Now Public.
I would only add to his account that the police were exceptionally well-behaved, staying well back from the protesters at all times ... except for those incidents where they were called upon to evict protesters from the lobbies of NACC businesses enroute.

In fact everyone was well behaved. So very Lotusland of us.
At one point during speeches outside the Art Gallery, I did see a very intense little huddle around two people on the ground under a chestnut tree so I went over to see what was going on. Just as I got there someone called out "Checkmate" and the little crowd dispersed.

Harsha from No One is Illegal announced that Harper had pronounced the protests "sad" and refused to allow the more than 10,000 anti-SPP petitions to be delivered at the Montebello gates. I mean it's not like he had to come out in his fuzzy slippers and personally accept input from Canadians or anything but you know Steve - always too busy being Steve.
Perhaps they should have told him it was a poll instead.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

SPP : Summit protest plugs

Decent coverage of today's protests from CBC on TV tonight, with good soundbyte explanations on SPP from Maude Barlow and the marchers interviewed. Very upbeat in tone.

A peculiar optic : the CBC reporters did the interviews while marching alongside the protesters - instead of their more usual stationary curbside shot - giving the visual appearance, intended or not, of solidarity with the protest.

The astute and witty Jennifer from Runesmith's Canadian Content - see link on sidebar - is live-blogging the protests from Ottawa, as conditions allow. She and her teenage son have driven up to attend her first protest since the Cruise Missile testing on Canadian soil in the 80's. As Jennifer says - plus ça change and all that.

Here's how her first day went.

Not to be completely outdone by the intrepid Jennifer, I intend to indulge both my fear of crowds and any event where a chorus of Kumbaya might break out at any moment by going to the march in Vancouver tomorrow.

A number of bloggers have been rather disparaging of attending the protests. I ask them to consider that given the Cons' news blackout on both SPP and Montebello, were it it not for the protests, there would be no news coverage at 11, no Mr Dion giving press conferences about it, and the majority of Canadians would never hear word one about either the SPP or the Montebello summit.

For info on local protests near you : Council of Canadians - Summit events

Steve and Sandra - A Secure and Prosperous Partnership

H/T Dawg's Blawg and Accidental Deliberations

Saturday, August 18, 2007

SPP : Swapping Peace for Profits

Thomas d'Aquino is head of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, widely credited for having written the SPP, and Canadian secretariat chair of the North American Competitiveness Council, the only outsider group represented at the Montebello summit.
He can't figure why we're all so upset about the SPP.
It's about "expanding border crossings and information-sharing programs on plant and animal safety," he says. [Ed : Something about people safety would have been better here, Tom]
Tom then issues us with a challenge to prove his point.
Referring to the NACC report following the February summit, he says, "If I give it to you to read at 11, I guarantee you'll be asleep by 11:10."
Well it's just coming up on 11pm now as it happens, so what say we trot on over to the home of that NACC report at the CCCE website and give it a try.
Here we go : Private-Sector Priorities for the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America(SPP)
See, right away, Tom - Private-Sector Priorities. We didn't vote for the guys who wrote this.
But you're right - it is a serious snore. Only 11:07 - a few minutes left.
Mind if I have a quick look around CCCE while I'm here?
April 28, 2006 "Lumber Deal Welcome; Demonstrates New Focus on Boosting North American Competitiveness"
Again, Tom, what we wanted was a softwood lumber deal that was good for Canada, not for North American business.
Now this looks interesting :
Feb 21, 2006 From Bronze to Gold : Repair the Canada-US relationship :
"As our Council made clear in launching our North American Security and Prosperity Initiative in 2003, it is in Canada’s fundamental interest to pursue bilateral and trilateral agreements that will keep our border with the United States as open as possible, and this requires hard work on issues related to security ...
In this context, we would restate our view that it is in Canada’s interest to participate in the ballistic missile defence program."
Time's up. Taxi!

Friday, August 17, 2007

John Birchers and Swift Boaters and Minutemen, oh my!

Jack McManus, President of the John Birch Society, Swift Boater Jerome Corsi, and Howard Phillips, Chairman of The Conservative Caucus, are scheduled to hold a press conference in Ottawa on Monday in solidarity with activists against the SPP. They will be joined by Connie Fogal of the Canada Action Party.

Time: Monday, August 20, 2007 at 10 a.m.
Location: Ottawa Marriott Hotel, 100 Kent Street, Ottawa
Sponsor: Coalition to Block the North American Union

- others to be confirmed, reports The Canadian National Newspaper in their announcement.

The Coalition to Block the North American Union, founded by Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum, Jerome "ragheads are boybumpers" Corsi, and paleo- paleo Howard Phillips, is an interesting mix of Minutemen, Birchers, Constitution Party members, advocates for bible curriculum in public schools, ...and rightwing media hitman and Ann Coulter apologist Brent Bozell III.


It's not enough that we already have Ibbitson and Reynolds of the G&M writing editorials attempting to smear Maude Barlow and all other Canadian resistance to SPP with the extremist John Birch Society brush, but now, if The Canadian National Newspaper is correct, the Birchers are bringing their own brand of New World Order anti-government anti-immigrant paranoia up here "in solidarity with activists against the SPP".

Thanks. Ever. So.

Chet Scoville from Vanity Press has a brilliant post up at Shakespeare's Sister.
Responding to Orcinus in the comments below it, Chet said :
"Canadians who've been doing work on this issue have absolutely nothing to do with the Birchers or anyone else of that kind. I'm not sure how to distance ourselves from them when we already have nothing to do with them."

Connie Fogal's alledged attendence here notwithstanding, I think Chet has this right.
But guys like Ibbitson and Reynolds are going to have a field day with this and any other muck they can find come Monday.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

SPP and the American left

I've just spent the better part of several exasperating days arguing with American "progressives" about SPP.
Shorter US Progs : If the John Birch Society et al say the sky is blue, then we say it isn't.

I thought we were all pretty well agreed on both sides of the border that while Glen Beck, Jerome Corsi, Lou Dobbs and the John Birch Society have their own bizarre agenda to use the SPP to promote their New World Order paranoia, the rest of us should get on with the actual facts at hand. Right?

Nuh-uh-uh, say the American progressives.

Orcinus quotes: "Most people familiar with the SPP understand that it is a benign and slow-moving attempt to coordinate trade and security policies in a bid to improve the lives of citizens in all three countries."

Chris Hayes at The Nation : "There's also a federal initiative called the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), which they portray as a Trojan horse packed with globalists scheming to form a European Union-style governing body to manage the entire continent. The reactions of those in SPP to this characterization seem to range from bemusement to alarm.
"There is no NAFTA Superhighway," Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance David Bohigian told me emphatically over the phone. Initiated in 2005, the SPP is a relatively mundane formal bureaucratic dialogue, he says. Working groups, staffed by midlevel officials from all three countries, figure out how to better synchronize customs enforcement, security protocols and regulatory frameworks among the countries.
"Simple stuff like, for instance, in the US we sell baby food in several different sizes; in Canada, it's just two different sizes."

Digby [Digby!] : "As it turns out, there is a foreign owned toll road being planned in Texas that has nothing to do with NAFTA and that's causing quite a stir. People seem to have mashed the whole thing up in their lizard brains and come up with some one-world plot by Spain and the Council on Foreign Relations. Or something.

I'm with Justice Stephen Breyer who recently said:
...the true division of importance in the world is not between different countries. The important division is between those who are committed to reason, to working out things, to understanding other people, to peaceful resolution of their differences ... and those who don't think that."

If that makes me an elitist, one-worlder, so be it. I can see this election's going to have a nutzoid quality to it that we haven't seen in some time. Just what we need."

Enough with the fucking highway already. Who gives a crap what it's called?
From the US Dept of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration :
"The proposed system will be a network of transportation corridors (routes) incorporating separate lanes for passenger vehicles and trucks, rail lines for high-speed passenger and freight rail, and a dedicated utility zone. Components in the system may incorporate existing and new highways, railways, and utility rights-of-way where practical. Up to 366 meters (1,200 feet) wide in some places, the corridor is designed to move people and freight faster and more safely through Texas, from Mexico to the Oklahoma border.

I-69 is a 2,570-kilometer (1,600-mile) national highway that, once completed, will connect Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Other States involved in the I-69 project include Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, and Tennessee. The planned location for I-69, designated by the U.S. Congress in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), was chosen because of the economic opportunities that could be created along the north-south corridor, specifically those related to increased trade resulting from NAFTA."

OK, got that? It might even be a good idea and if it isn't, there are still formidable obstacles to overcome in implementing it, but you don't seem to be one of them. You could start by admitting that your own government websites exist.

Anything else you'd like to discuss about SPP? Corporate globalization maybe? NAFTA?
Because there's a lot more at stake here than a friggin road and your need to distance yourselves from even mentioning any issue that the JBS has ever laid claim to on your national airwaves. The civil rights movement would have had a rougher go of it if American progs of the 60's left the field to the KKK just because they'd claimed it as their issue already.

American Progs : A little louder, please.

See also : Chet at Vanity Press
UPDATE : Christopher Hayes leaves a link to a response on his blog in the comments below, ending with
"Even if SPP is scheming to do all sorts of awful things (and there’s some evidence it is), it’s not masterminding a non-existent highway."
UPDATE 2 : Melissa at Shakespeare's Sister asks Chet to do a post on SPP for her US readers and Chet responds brilliantly.
With thanks to the various US message boards linking here today.
So. We're rolling then.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

SPP : Avi Lewis and Amy Goodman

on Democracy Now : Audio and transcript

Excerpts :
Avi on SPP and Maher Arar :
"The connection between the SPP and Maher Arar is a really deep one. Two weeks after 9/11, the head of the business lobby in Canada, a guy named Tom d’Aquino, called immediately for deep harmonization and integration of US and Canadian policies in order to keep the border open and the trade flowing. Two months later, without any debate or without any legislative debate or really public involvement, they announced this “smart border” initiative for harmonizing the border. And, well, you know, it was a piece of spin, the “smart border” initiative. Nine months later, they announced that they had synchronized and harmonized Canada and the US's approach to passenger screening of international passengers. And one year after 9/11, based on that precise harmonization, Maher Arar was taken and subjected to extraordinary rendition and began his yearlong odyssey in hell in a Syrian prison. So the connection between this mobilization that’s going on in ten days in Quebec around the SPP and the situation of Maher Arar is one that won't be made broadly in Canadian or US media. But for people who care about sovereignty of nations and civil liberties, it's at the heart of it all."

Avi on Conrad Black and media consolidation :
"we need to make the connection between the ideological interest of media barons and how they play out in our public discourse, if these -- in the same way that Enron needed to be seen as a policy and political phenomenon and not just a scandal. If we see them as just corruption trials, then all of a sudden they don't have political consequences. So we have to make those connections."

Makes you miss the old neighbourhood icecream trucks

LifeSite is just pleased as punch that the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform are driving trucks around Calgary this summer with 3 meter high photos of aborted fetuses posed next to a Canadian nickel plastered to their sides.
NatPost : "The truck comes out only on weekday mornings, when people are on their way to work and have less time to cause trouble."
Referring to CanCBR as a "Calgary-based group", NaPo explains :

"While this is the only mobile anti-abortion billboard in Canada according to the organization, similar trucks in the U.S. have been vandalized or shot at with paintball guns."
Similar trucks? Come on, NaPo. CanadianCBR is an off-shoot of the US Center for Bio-Ethical Reform who use exactly the same image on their trucks only with a US dime instead. Must have been quite the grisly photo shoot, fiddling about with little hands and feet and different coins under the hot photo lamps.
Whatever. They're making their point and they're making it badly, according to Calgary Bishop Fred Henry who withdrew his support from the organization explaining it "does more harm than good to the pro-life cause".
Not to mention their nonsense about abortion causing an 800% higher chance of breast cancer, citing the thoroughly discredited research of born-again British nutter Joel Brind.

Anyway LifeSite is pretty thrilled about the whole thing but then elsewhere on their website they make this statement :

"Contraception is NOT a solution to abortion, but rather part of the problem."

You're against abortions but cannot bring yourselves to support the only realistic method of preventing them. And you're against sex education in the schools too but you support the creepy fetusmobile driving slowly past those schools.
You're fucking nuts, is what you are.
So I'm guessing this fashion statement from China is completely out then ?

H/T to Red Jenny who found them - the dresses made entirely of condoms.
Photography - ClaroCortezIV
and JJ at Unrepentant Old Hippie who got to this first
via Holly Stick at Bread and Roses.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The People vs the Sky Monster

The Independent : The Vatican is calling on Catholics and their organisations to boycott Amnesty International if, as expected, Amnesty affirms a policy of abortion for rape and incest victims.

Note that Amnesty is not declaring abortion to be a basic human right here but is attempting to come to grips with its own field reports :

"Darfur is not the first place in the world where military conquerors have used mass rape to subdue a population but the report put together by Amnesty International observers in the region in 2004 was particularly harrowing. As well as being traumatised, the victims were frequently injured or afflicted with sexual transmitted diseases, and left to cope alone with unwanted children. One survivor said: "Five to six men would rape us, one after the other, for hours during six days, every night. My husband could not forgive me after this. He disowned me."

Even in countries where the law permits abortion for rape victims, women who seek the operation can encounter a wall of obstruction. In Peru, a 17-year-old girl discovered that her foetus had anencephaly - meaning that it was going to be born without a brain - but a doctor refused to allow her access to an abortion. She was compelled to give birth and breastfeed the child for four days before it died."

Amnesty's deputy general secretary, Kate Gilmore :
"Amnesty International stands alongside the victims and survivors of human rights violations. Our policy reflects our obligation of solidarity as a human rights movement with, for example, the rape survivor in Darfur who, because she is left pregnant as a result of the enemy, is further ostracised by her community. Ours is a movement dedicated to upholding human rights, not specific theologies. Our purpose invokes the law and the state, not God."

Sorry, Amnesty, but in any contest between humans and the Imaginary Sky Monster, the Vatican will always first protect their position as the Sky Monster's chief earthly interpretors.

Here's an "innovative solution to the abortion debate" I think the Vatican could get behind though :
"NEW YORK—Pro-life advocates celebrated approval of the new anti-abortion drug UR-86 by the Food and Drug Administration Tuesday, calling it a "safe and effective method" for terminating pregnant women while leaving their unborn children unharmed.
Pfizer, manufacturer of UR-86—dubbed the "last-morning-ever pill"—said the drug is intended only for occasions when the mind-set or politics of the mother threaten the life of the fetus."

Yeah, ok, that one was from The Onion
But this isn't.
Birth Pangs reports that in the US, "36 states have some sort of fetal homicide law."

Which ever wave you happen to find yourself on at the moment, Canadian feminists, stay vigilant out there.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Meet the old boss, same as the new boss

The new head of the RCMP was possibly one of the officials responsible for blacking out portions of the Arar report.
Yeah, well, Stockwell Day was his boss then and he's his boss now.

The G&M reports this bizarre analogy from a security official by way of explanation :

"Some security officials says there is no great mystery as to why such references were blacked out: Foreign intelligence is not viewed as fundamentally different from any other borrowed good or service. For that reason, Canada is wary of passing along secrets it gets from other sources, or even pointing to those sources."

“If you borrow your neighbour's pickup truck to haul a load to the dump, you don't give the keys to the kids to go for a Slurpee at the 7-Eleven,” said one official who declined to be identified. “Intellectually, it's not a difficult concept to grasp.”

Excuse me? You were the one driving the damn truck:

New York Times: Deported Canadian Was No Threat, Report Shows :

"Several months before Mr. Arar arrived in New York, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police gave a PowerPoint presentation to the F.B.I. about Canadian terrorism that mentioned Mr. Arar three times, along with other people they believed might be engaged in terrorist activities. While the American agency asked for a copy of the slides and background material, the newly released information shows that the Canadian police “were not successful in convincing the F.B.I. to institute a criminal investigation.”

CBC : RCMP shared intelligence with Syria, Arar inquiry told :

"RCMP Supt. Mike Cabana who headed up the investigation in the Ottawa area said Canadian officials were concerned Arar was being abused early in his captivity in Syria, but they exchanged intelligence anyway."

In fact, RCMP, you did one worse : after giving the kids the keys to the truck knowing they would wreck it, you told them you didn't want it back to save yourself from embarrassment.
And as of today, even after Justice O'Connor's inquiry has brought all of this to light, you're still lying to us about it.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

SPP : Slagging Progressive Protest

dit dit dit dit dit dit REPORT ON BUSINESS dit dit dit dit dit dit

The former editor of the Vancouver Sun and the Ottawa Citizen, economist and G&B columnist Neil Reynolds is apparently also a complete dolt.

He first correctly notes a 'strange bedfellows' irony : public debate on the SPP and deep integration is a leftie concern about STAR WARS-driven, resources-hoovering, multinational corporate takeovers up here in Canada; while in the US the xenophobic racist rightwing sees it more in terms of brown people taking over their jobs and fucking their women while Canadians socialize their medicine.
Well, no surprises there.
And as Reynolds says :
"There is a cross-border risk here for Canada's histrionic left: You will be known by the company you keep."
But after that it all "goes south", so to speak :

"In a rational world, the "NAFTA super highway" from Canada to Mexico might - based on cost-benefit analysis - be a good thing."

OK, if by "rational world", you mean one not dominated by multinational corporations, imperialistic Bushcos, quisling CCCE CEO's and their sockpuppet politicians, well then yes, I can imagine that rational world actually.

"A common currency (called the "amero" by the conspiracy clans) might be a good thing."

Just a quick note here, Neil. The term "amero" was coined by Alliance MP Herb Grubal for the Fraser Institute in a 1999 paper entitled, "The Case For the Amero : The Economics and Politics of a North American Monetary Union", but carry on :

"A common perimeter might be a good thing. Greater economic integration might be a good thing, too."
Ummm, really starting to lose here, Neil. See, I generally think of "good thing" as meaning good for people, good for the environment, good for the soul, that sort of thing.

"Indeed, they would all be good things. But the convergence of far right populism and far left populism has put a silencer on public debate - even as it has fired off a double-barrelled political shot that will ricochet erratically around the continent for years to come with risk of serious injury to three countries that wanted merely to co-operate."
Oh, I see - it's our fault newspapers are so silent on this, and if we'd all just shut up about it, everything could go according to plan.
Well, you know what, Neil?
On that last point, I think I agree with you.
Obviously a lot more noise is called for up here on our part.
But thanks for explaining your silence.

Arar Redux

There's nothing new in today's disclosures from Justice Dennis O'Connor's redacted Arar report except the naming of the complicit US agency - the CIA.

The Globe and Mail notes that up till now "Canadian agencies have borne the brunt of the blame for the scandal."

So fucking what?
It was still the RCMP and Project A-O Canada who knew the testimony fingering Arar was obtained by "extreme coercion" in Syria, who knew the US would probably send Arar to Syria to be tortured as well, who continued to use that testimony to smear Arar at home, who didn't want him back because it would embarrass both them and the US, and who ultimately rolled over for the CIA.

From the Globe&Mail :
"Ottawa officials fought to keep the information secret, frequently arguing that it did not want to compromise the goodwill of foreign allies who sent in intelligence from abroad."

The goodwill of foreign allies who sent in intelligence from abroad.
"The federal Attorney-General had tried to counter disclosure by repeating what has become a mantra: National security would be imperilled if Canada is forced to divulge state secrets – esspecially ones received from foreign agencies, or "third parties."

For "a mantra", read "standard ass-covering".
You know what the greatest threat to our national security is here, A-G?
Your willingness to keep secret the extent of Canadian intelligence agencies' eagerness to roll over for the CIA.

Ahmad Abou El Maati, the truck driver who fingered Arar under torture, is back in Canada and free again, having recanted his coerced confession and apologised to Arar.
Who else is still over there?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

30! I'm a 30?! Oh noes...

It's 4:45 in the morning and I've just finished obsessively reading everything written about SPP in the last 24 hours. The great thing about researching at night is that no one interrupts you. I mean, there are several days worth of phone messages on the machine but I'm busy, you know?
I know, I think I'll just take that Asperger Test over at Pie Palace that Cliff at Rusty Idols linked to.
As Cliff almost said : Are you a highly functioning autistic or just a jerk?
30, huh. I should probably eat more salads.
Personally I like to think of myself as a highly functioning jerk...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

P-3s - Plundering the Public Pocketbook

Vaughn Palmer tells us in The Vancouver Sun that Macquarie Infrastructure Group or MIG, one of the largest toll road companies in the world, is the "main player" in the P-3 bid to build a second span beside the Port Mann Bridge and widen 37kms of the TransCanada Highway :

Vetting will be done by the Ministry of Highways and Partnerships B.C., the provincial agency for overseeing P3s. The process will be scrutinized by an independent fairness adviser, put there to oversee the public interest in equal treatment of all three bidders.

"Oversee the public interest"? That's very amusing, Vaughn.
Does this mean Macquarie is no longer on the Partnerships BC payroll then?

In 2001, Macquarie was asked to write a report about the feasibility of going ahead with RAV as a P3. The verdict was favourable. Subsequently, Macquarie was retained by Partnerships BC to continue to advise it in regard to the commercial and financial aspects of RAV while at the same time, [Macquarie was] bidding on Sea to Sky.

A bid they were successful in securing, I might add - Macquarie is project manager of the Sea to Sky Highway.

Vaughn goes on to say : "The B.C. Liberals are perhaps hoping to avoid the kind of controversy that has dogged one of these players in Texas."

According to Manufacturing and Technology News, Macquarie has been recently accused of financing Presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani through a shell law firm. When there was public outcry against the privatization of the public roads in Texas, Macquerie spent $110M buying up 42 local newspapers along the proposed Texas Corridor, also known as the southern end of the NAFTA Superhighway.

From Manufacturing and Technology News, here's how this P-3 scam works south of the border :

"What I think has happened is that "read-my-lips" George Bush Sr. couldn't figure a way to operate government without raising taxes. His son solved the problem by radically increasing the national debt, borrowing primarily from the central banks of other nations.

Now, we have a new generation of Republicans who say I'll cut taxes, and I'll never raise taxes. They intend to finance their promise by selling off the public infrastructure. What the public doesn't understand and what the media is not explaining is that the private operations of our public infrastructure represents the highest tax you can possibly have because those investors are going to run up the prices they charge to the limit and under the binding contracts these "no-new-tax" governors are signing, we have no democratic alternative for dealing with these contracts."

"If you are a governor and you need $3 billion, $4 billion or $5 billion to finance state government and you have a heavily trafficked route, these private companies will come in and pay the state the money and you're all of a sudden flush with cash. They will put together a package and their teams of lawyers will come in to work with you on what you need to do to change your state constitution and change your laws.

If you need to do a referendum, they will help you finance and run the referendum. They'll lobby the state legislature and the local media. To streamline all of this, the U.S. Department of Transportation is working with them state by state on privatizing public roads."

Ask not for whom the road tolls...

Mr. Mysterioso's guest post on Palestine

Following it I have quoted from the official position of the Government of Canada, dated July 4, 2007.

Now to Mr Mysterioso:
"Typical of the sort of confused thinking that most North Americans bring to the table when they wish to discuss peace in the Middle East [is the condemnation of] a number of Palestinian negotiating points when they are actually fairly reasonable.

For instance: Abbas wants Israel to return to its 1948 borders. This is reasonable since international law forbids states from keeping territory taken through war. That is why Gaza and the West Bank are referred to as “the occupied territories.” Israel has no claim on them in international law.

This fact explains another Palestinian position; the removal of Israeli “settlers” from the West Bank. Since Israel has no legal claim to the West Bank, it cannot forcibly impose its people on these lands. [Some] see it as hypocrisy that Abbas calls for the removal of Israelis from the West Bank while calling for the right of return of Palestinians to Israel proper. The reality is that a condition of Israel’s statehood in the 1947 UN proposal was for Israel to respect the political, civil, and religious rights of the indigenous Arab population. Israel did not do this, but instead expelled the majority of the Palestinians.
The facts are simply this: That the Israeli settlers have no legal claim to the West Bank, but the Palestinians expelled in 1948 have a legal right to return.

Finally, [some] condemn the Palestinian call for Israel to surrender control of Jerusalem. In the 1947 UN proposal, Jerusalem was to be an independent, international city. After 1948, it was divided between Israeli and Jordanian control. In 1967 it was taken completely by Israel in the Six Day War. As a conquest of war, Israel’s control of Jerusalem has no standing in international law, and therefore calls for its surrender of control also has a legal basis.

We can argue about the practical realism of these positions. Many can (and do) argue on Israel’s claims based on more historic and spiritual grounds. But it is simply not justified to portray these Palestinian negotiating positions as being examples of some sort of Arab intransigence and unreasonableness when they are actually based on basic tenets of international law."

~ ~ ~

The occasional public posturing of some of our elected officials notwithstanding, I was surprised to discover that Mr Mysterioso's points are in fact the official position of the Government of Canada.

From Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada :

"Canada recognizes the Palestinian right to self-determination and supports the creation of a sovereign, independent, viable, democratic and territorially contiguous Palestinian state, as part of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace settlement.

Status of Jerusalem
The United Nations General Assembly resolution 181 of 1947, supported by Canada, proposed the partitioning of British Mandate Palestine into three separate entities, including the City of Jerusalem which was to be administered by the United Nations. Canada does not recognize Israel's unilateral annexation of Jerusalem, nor Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. For this reason, the Canadian Embassy to Israel is located in Tel Aviv and not Jerusalem.

Occupied Territories
Canada does not recognize permanent Israeli control over territories occupied in 1967 (the Golan Heights, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip).
Canada opposes all unilateral actions that might prejudge the outcome of negotiations, including the establishment of settlements in the territories, unilateral moves to annex Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, and construction of the barrier inside the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

As referred to in UN Security Council Resolutions 446 and 465, Israeli settlements in the occupied territories is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The barrier
Canada recognizes Israel's right to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks, including through the restriction of access to its territory, and by building a barrier on its own territory. However, Canada opposes Israel's construction of the barrier inside the West Bank and East Jerusalem which is occupied territory. This is contrary to international law under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Canada not only opposes Israel's construction of a barrier extending into the occupied territories, but also expropriations and the demolition of houses and economic infrastructure carried out for this purpose."

~ ~ ~

End of dfait quotes. Surprised?
This same Government of Canada page from which I lifted the above quotes also of course condemns terrorism and recognizes Israel's right to protect itself, but I only reproduced here those passages which pertain to Mr Mysterioso's points.
You can read the rest of Canada's position here : Canadian policy on key issues in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Ignatieff's mea pulpa

"The unfolding catastrophe in Iraq has condemned the political judgment of a president. But it has also condemned the judgment of many others, myself included, who as commentators supported the invasion."

In his NY Times mea culpa piece, Ignatieff explains there were the people who were right in their judgement against invading Iraq, there were people like himself who were wrong about it for the right reasons, and finally there were the people who were right for the wrong reasons - those being the ones who said it was all about oil and the US.
He invokes Isaiah Berlin, Roosevelt, Churchill, Bismarck, Truman, Samuel Beckett, De Gaulle, Machiavelli, Edmund Burke, Kant, and the prophet Isaiah.
These are the only dead mentioned in his apology.
UPDATE : Chet points out that Iggy is a deeply stupid man
Left End of the Dial : Michael Ignatieff in haiku. Heh.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

SPP at Daily Kos

North American Union---I mean SPP

Late night thread at Kos with many links to info and opinions spanning the political spectrum.
Emphasis on SPP over NAU, minimum of tinfoiling.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Torys R Us

Breaking News! Massive Tory Recall!
Ottawa Citizen :
"Consumers were unaware for days that retailers were pulling Elmo, Big Bird and other Mattel Inc. Torys from shelves last week because of a potential lead-paint hazard.
A spokeswoman for Torys R Us said it was notified about the pending recall several days ago.
Retailers pulled the Torys from their shelves and flagged their cash registers so the Torys would not be sold if a consumer tried to buy one."

Wait a minute....ah, TOYS. It's a massive toy recall.
Ok, scratch that one. Here's the Ottawa Citizen story I wanted :
"Prime Minister Stephen Harper is considering shuffling his cabinet and will make his decision before the fall session of Parliament, scheduled to begin Sept. 17.
One certainty is that a shuffle will disappoint Tory backbenchers. Senior federal officials told CanWest News that a shuffle will only involve existing cabinet ministers. No new members will be brought into the club."

I guess Elmo and Big Bird will continue to languish on the toy backbenches then.
"Harper appeared upbeat at his Thursday news conference, following a full day of closed-door meetings with Toy MPs and senators, ostensibly to plan strategy for the fall and winter.
He said crime, government accountability, tax cuts and "making Canada's voice heard in the world" remain "the big themes, the big priorities of this
government ... those things will continue."

He also said the Wheat Board monopoly would have to end, no matter what the court has said.
"We're obviously disappointed with the court decision," he said, "but that does not change the determination of the government of Canada to see a dual market for Canadian farmers.
"I hope the wheat board will start working with the government to make sure this is gonna happen, 'cause it's gonna happen one way or another, whether it takes a little bit of time or a lot of time, it's gonna happen."

Harper made the remarks at the annual summer Toy caucus meeting in Prince Edward Island where, undaunted that his popularity there is tanking at 17%, he also stated :

"Canada is more united -- and Quebecers more loyal to the country -- than at any time in the past 40 years, and his government deserves all the credit.
Harper said his government's handling of the economy, tax reform, the war in Afghanistan - and particularly his controversial decision last year to pass a motion in the House of Commons declaring Quebec a nation within a "united Canada" - have brought Canadians together in a way not seen since the Centennial year of 1967."

"Next week Harper makes a week-long tour of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories."

Is there some international AIDS conference going on in Ottawa next week that I'm not aware of?

But wait a sec, back up a bit ...his popularity in PEI is 17%? 17%!
Must be time for a recall after all. Either Elmo or Big Bird could beat 17% even with one little puppet arm tied behind their backs.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Tsawwassen two-step

BC NeoLib Gordon Campbell's settlement with the Tsawwassen band is a travesty.
And now both the BC NDP and the BC Green Party have given it their blessing.

What's wrong with it?
Couple of things ...
1)The 207 hectares of farmland to come out of the Agricultural Land Reserve via the band. It is to be paved over to park containers for Campbell's pet Roberts Bank Deltaport expansion.
2)Campbell's disregard of both DFO and Environment Canada reports on likely damage to Fraser River salmon and wildlife, including adjacent Burns Bog
3)The $15,000 cash payout to select elders from Campbell upon ratification
4)The stacked voting :
From FN activist Bertha Williams prior to the vote :

"The chief and council of our band ... use such trickery as an “enrollment application” in order to vote on the treaty. In the application there is a section where we have to relinquish our claim to our inherent rights.
If we don’t enroll, we are not allowed to vote. This would pave the way for a more secure “yes” vote."

The First Nations people involved should never have been put in this terrible position, but I don't want to hear the words "green" or "sustainability" or "stewardship of the earth" out of the NDP or the Greens again for a long long time.

UPDATE : The other side of this coin. From Chris in comments :

"TFN has been hollaring for years about the damage in the estuary to fish stocks and migratory birds, but they were dismissed for decades as lunatics. When everyone else was ignoring the damage of Roberts Bank and the Tsawwassen ferry terminal, TFN was on top of it. When they eventually built the development at Tsatsu shores (without the city of Delta letting them hook up into their sewar system) to create some economic development for the band, everyone screamed about how they had destroyed the environmental conditions of Roberts Bank.

TFN is completely surrounded by agricultural, special Crown and private land. I am a supporter of the ALR, but First Nations were never consulted when it was created, in violation of now established Aboriginal rights. If TFN is to be a viable community, they need more land. What are the options?

It strikes me as funny that the people who oppose this treaty are quoting a "First Nations activist", Bertha Williams. It's as if there is a need to find the "activist" in the community and support her position, regardless of what she is saying. The irony is that the TFN were one of the most politically active bands for decades, trying to get the surrounding communities of Delta and Ladner to pay attention to them. They never garnered much support then, when Kim Biard and her predecessors were confronting the red neck citizens of Ladner and Delta. Now they are somehow sell-outs and pariahs?

As for the link to the Tyee story by Rafe Mair (I mean, c'mon, Rafe Mair?) there is a good reason for allowing non-residents of TFN to vote: they are citizens and Aboriginal rights are held collectively by the citizens of a Nation, not the residents of a reserve. Why shouldn't the governments be on the hook for helping the enrolment vote take place? The reserve system and federal and provincial policies divided First Nations communities in the first place, and having TFN hemmed in by developments and land designations that they never had a say in means that there is limited ability for all Nation members to be on reserve.

The TFN agreement may not be the model of sustainability and the provincial government's plans for Deltaport may be egregious, but it strikes me that one of the best reasons for a treaty is that it finally involves the greenest party of the three in the mix, and, based on their track record, I trust TFN infinitely more than any other level of government to steward the land properly. Given all the damage done there already, it's a tough job, but finally the future of south Delta includes one sane voice in the mix of development-crazy mayors, politicians and CEOs.

I wish them the best of luck "

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