Saturday, August 30, 2008

New 'waterfronts' in fair and balanced reporting

A news item in the Toronto Star, "Think tank urges Canada to flow towards water exporting", is a classic example of "he said, she said" journalism that still manages to omit important background information required to weigh the two opposing viewpoints.
After quoting a recently released report from a Montreal think tank extolling the virtues of commodifying fresh water for export :
"Large-scale exports of fresh water would be a wealth-creating idea for Quebec and for Canada as a whole" and "it is urgent to look seriously at developing our blue gold"
the writer then balances this with a few warning noises from Environment Canada and the Council of Canadians :
"We don't want to see water commodified and commercialized in this manner," she said, noting it's a myth that Canada has abundant supplies of water.
... and her job is done!
Now what could be fairer than that?

Well, for a start the think tank is introduced as "an independent, non-profit organization that takes part in public policy debate in Quebec and across Canada".
I know my dream of ever reading the phrase 'right wing think tank' or 'neo-liberal think tank' is clearly unobtainable, but having gone this far in promoting said think tank's credentials, is it too much to ask that the writer provide a little actual information to go with it?

The chairman of the board of the Montreal Economic Institute, the 'independent non-profit' so keen on privatizing and exporting Canadian water, is Helene Desmarais. Helene Desmarais is married to Paul Desmarais, Jr, CEO of Power Corporation of Canada and board member of Suez Group, a multinational corporation that is the world leader in water privatization.

See how easy that was?
Space permitting one might also mention that the MEI is in favour of private medicare, P3 toll roads, and disbanding the wheat board. Perhaps also throw in that last year MEI and the Fraser Institute co-sponsored another report, "International Leadership by a Canada Strong and Free", written by Mike Harris and Preston Manning, and still available at the MEI website.
It features this choice phrase :
"For Canada, Mexico’s presence at the NAFTA table is no reason to avoid action on our urgent national interest in pursuing a formal structure to manage irreversible economic and security integration with the United States."
Puts a whole different 'spin' on all that enthusiasm for "large scale exports of fresh water", doesn't it?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Babes in bikinis vs the coronary stent

The Israeli consulate in Toronto is gearing up for "Brand Israel" , a $1M 10-month ad blitz campaign displaying positive images of Israel in bus shelters, on billboards, on radio and TV starting in September. The ad here features the "Innovation Israel" coronary stent.

Consul general Amir Gissin promises the campaign will be "an attack on all the senses".

Sponsored by Sidney Greenberg of Astral Media, Canada's largest radio broadcaster; Joel Reitman of MIJO Corporation; and David Asper of Canwest Global, I'm sure it will be.

"The way to fix negative images of Israel is to present Israel in a positive light elsewhere," Gissin said. "Never has there been this [scale] of combination of business and philanthropy for Israel."

Well, that's only true if you don't count the last seven years of the Brand Israel campaign in the U.S.
ISRAEL21c boasts it "has placed more than 5,000 stories with positive images of Israel and Israelis in mainstream American media" and "tens of millions of eyes see ISRAEL21c reported stories, yet most of them don't know that ISRAEL21c is the source".
Their most famous stories include a former Miss Israel in a bikini on the covers of Maxim and the New York Post, and the Newsweek photospread "Babes in the Holy Land", financed in part by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The former national president of AIPAC, now president of ISRAEL21c, explains the strategy :
"All the recent research on Israel's image or brand in America indicates that the one demographic group that has the least positive knowledge of Israel in America is men under 30. To them, Israel is a place of armed military conflict and little else."
Gissin's U.S. counterpart, the Israeli consular official based in New York, attended the photoshoot and agreed :

"We have to find the right hook. And what's relevant to men under 35?
Good-looking women."

Figures, doesn't it?

The Americans get targeted with Babes in the Holy Land; Canadians will be getting the coronary stent.

P.S. Dear Jerusalem Post : All the wonderful goodwill generated by your report on the rebranding Israel campaign is unfortunately somewhat diluted by your having a "Bomb Iran? Vote now!" NewsMax poll on the comments page accompanying the article.

Priorities, people, priorities

Dave, Impolitical, POGGE, and Accidental Deliberations have all taken Healthcuts Minister Tony Clement to task today for his dumbass comments from the "swish lunch reception" at the Democrat convention in Denver, but let's not forget why he's there.

No, it's not, as House leader Peter Van Loan said, about picking up campaign tips.

Tony is the chair of Harper's cabinet committee on the environment and energy security.
Before his departure Wednesday he chaired a closed-door discussion on energy security with American oil and gas company executives in Denver.
So he was kinda busy, you see, at his real job.

But what, people are also asking, what on earth has Agribiz Minister Gerry Ritz to do with the listeriosis outbreak and why is he the government point man on this?
Here's a clue : Whose idea was this then?
"shift from full-time CFIA meat inspection presence to an oversight role, allowing industry to implement food safety control programs and to manage key risks."

Yup, it was Gerry Ritz' idea. He proposed it to the Treasury Board and they approved it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

SPP : Outsourcing food safety to industry Pt 2

With 15 deaths out of 29 confirmed cases of listeriosis, and the 30 new cases still pending, Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspectors are blaming understaffing and new procedures in the privatization of food safety.

G&M : "At the Maple Leaf plant behind the listeria outbreak, a single federal inspector was relegated to auditing company paperwork and had to deal with several other plants, the manager and the union official said, contradicting the impression that officials had left last week that full-time watchdogs were on-site."

Former CFIA inspector Bob Kingston :
"Under the old system, inspectors had a more hands-on role on the plant floor, did more of the tests themselves and had more freedom to investigate.
Under the new rules, instead of heading to the plant floor to inspect with their own eyes, inspectors are sent to the office to confirm that the meat packer has performed the required tests and the results are satisfactory."
"We don't swab for listeria any more. The industry does all that themselves," he said. "They just document all this stuff. We read their reports. If their reports say they do everything fine, then they do everything fine."

"The federal rules require only that inspectors perform three or four random tests annually at a plant, Richard Arsenault, a manager at the CFIA, said in an interview. The rest of the time, inspectors rely on the company."

The Maple Leaf Toronto plant was one of the plants where the CFIA began testing the new industry-based inspection system a year ago.

Yesterday Harper and Clement moved quickly into damage control :
Harper : "I think all of us, and obviously I include my own family in this, we expect that when we shop that the things we buy or that we eat are going to be safe."
Harper cited increased resources and inspectors in the last federal budget as examples of how the government realizes it is necessary to "reform and revamp" Canada's food and product inspection processes after "some years of neglect."
"All members of government have been on top of this," Harper said.

Health Minister TonyClement :
"Government policy was to hire 200 more inspectors, that's what we've done since we achieved power in January '06," he said from the U.S. Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colo.
"When it comes to health and safety, you can't scrimp and save; you've got to do your job on behalf of Canadians and that's what we're doing."

What you're doing is privatizing food safety as outlined in the SPP and lying about it.
A government food safety scientist was fired for sending this November 13, 2007 confidential memo (warning : pdf) off to his union that states :
"reduce the need for ongoing CFIA inspection and would shift CFIA's role to oversight and industry verification" and
"shifting program delivery... (including inspection) to an industry-led third party."

The horrible irony here is that in our rush to align with the U.S., we haven't adopted U.S. food safety methods, some of which like irradiation are arguably purported to be an improvement. No, we've only adopted the privatization, allowing industry to police themselves.

Presumably a full scale government assault on CFIA for being unable to deliver under these conditions is now underway and more industry oversight will be recommended.

Outsourcing food safety to industry Part 1

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

And helicopters. Will there also be helicopters?

Ottawa wants Vancouver organizers to include Afghan veterans in torch relay :
"Ottawa is urging the Vancouver Winter Olympics organizing committee to put the Afghanistan war at the heart of the symbolically laden torch relay, saying that the first torch carriers could be veterans of the seven-year-old conflict."

Well at least now we know what was meant by that 2010 Federal Secretariat memo last week : the Harper government provided $20-million for the opening ceremony of the Winter Games and $25-million grant for the torch relay to "ensure that the event adequately reflects the priorities of the Government and helps to achieve its domestic and international branding goals."

The memo from the 2010 Federal Secretariat also urges the Vancouver Olympics organizers to have two torch bearers -- one French, one English. What, no First Nations?

This bit amused me, though : There will be a total of 12,ooo torch bearers and "VANOC says it will select each torch bearer based on their articulation of Olympic ideals...."
You mean like the Miss America Pageant?
"Well, I want to be a neurosurgeon and have a pony and um, work for world peace."

Fun Fact : The tradition of the Olympic torch relay originated at the 1936 Olympic Summer Games in Berlin.

This week in neocon nonsense

Just this week :

In a pre-emptive election strike, Bill C-484, Con MP Ken Epps' trial balloon bill for recriminalizing abortion, is shot down by Justice Minister Bob Nicholson, who voted for it. Twice.
Nicholson says the Cons will instead table a bill to "punish criminals who commit violence against pregnant women, but do so in a way that leaves no room for the introduction of fetal rights." Which is exactly the same thing they said about C-484.

The whistle blower who was fired for revealing that the Cons' deregulation of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency allows "industry to implement food safety control programs" is threatened with legal action by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.
Meanwhile the president of the CFIA inspectors union states : "the agency is so short-staffed that food inspections and follow-up audits simply aren't taking place".
With 12 dead of listeriosis so far, Maple Leaf Foods waits four days to inform the public their sliced meat is contaminated. So much for self-regulation.

Canada First? Not so much.
The Cons have "quietly scuttled the navy's $2.9-billion project to replace its aging supply ships" and "cancelled a tender call for the purchase of 12 mid-shore patrol ships for the Coast Guard".
So why is Harper going up to the Arctic again this week to talk about Arctic sovereignty and Operation Nanook, a military-led Arctic sovereignty exercise?
"As part of the Harper government's plans to expand Canada's presence in the North, MacKay is expected to announce on Thursday several million in funding over five years for the Junior Canadian Rangers, the youth wing of the part-time reserve force that patrols the Arctic."

Sports! -it's the new arts and culture , featuring branding without the swears!
Besides, with sports you can "invest $20-million toward the opening ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games in order to ensure that the event adequately reflects the priorities of the Government and helps to achieve its domestic and international branding goals."

Pierre Poilievre, parliamentary secretary, on the refusal of 26 Cons to obey summons to appear before the Ethics committee to answer questions about the in and out scheme in which the Cons exceeded their 2006 election spending limit by $1.1 mil­lion by transferring money into the campaign bank ac­counts of 67 selected local candidates and then immediately transferring the money back out again : "No one takes Ethics Committee summons seriously"
Without ever once actually using the phrase "executive privilege", Harper keeps threatening an election, presumably at least in part to bring about an end to the questions. Oh, the "dysfunction"!

Harper's statement on civilian deaths in Afghanistan : see below.

Just. this. week.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bombing them back to the throwing stones age

CRAWFORD, Texas (AFP) - "The United States expressed regret Sunday for any civilian deaths from US-led military operations in Afghanistan, without confirming reports of nearly 90 killed in one incident this week.
"We regret the loss of life among the innocent Afghanis who we are committed to protect," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said as US President George W. Bush spent time on his Texas ranch."

Initially "US-led coalition forces denied killing any civilians" in Thursday's airstrike.
The next day they thought there might be five.
An Afghan minister who visited the area put the civilian death toll at 90, a human rights group at the scene estimated it at 78 and the Interior Ministry reported 76 noncombatants dead, including 50 children.

The attacks sparked angry protests on Saturday from locals, who set fire to a police vehicle and waved banners reading “Death to America”.
A school principal and police official said Afghan soldiers tried to hand out food and clothes Saturday in Azizabad — the village where the U.S.-Afghan operation took place Thursday. But villagers started throwing stones at the soldiers, who then fired on the Afghans and wounded up to eight.

Karzai responded by firing two top Afghan commanders for "negligence and concealing facts". The operation was led by Afghan National Army commandos with air and ground support from the coalition, including a US C130 gunship overhead.

Meanwhile, as reported over at The Hill Times, in an article you should really read in full ...

The Sunday Times reported on Aug 17 that the U.S. is planning an 'Iraq-style troop surge' after Americans take over the Afghanistan mission in January.

Janice Gross Stein, director of the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto : "What the United States is talking about is integrating the missions. They recognize that there are serious difficulties arising because there are two separate missions in Afghanistan now, and have been from the beginning: Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), and the International Security Assistance Force. Right now there are two Americans in command of both, and what they are talking about is integrating the bulk of the American troops, who are in Operation Enduring Freedom."

Chris Sands, a senior fellow at The Hudson Institute, a Washington, D.C., [rightwing]think tank (italics mine):
"Canadians are rather conflicted about why they're in Afghanistan. Some people saw this as an apology for not going to Iraq [and] some people actually genuinely think that being in Afghanistan is about helping the Afghan people, and if that's your position then I'd think this is all good, because it's going to be more help and more substantive help."

Some people actually genuinely think it's about helping the Afghan people, he says.

Mr. Sands goes on to explain that the Americans will bring "U.S. professionalism" and "some of the success from Iraq into the Afghan theatre as well".

NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar said he "believes an increased American presence will have "disastrous" results on the ground that will have long-term implications for the people of Afghanistan" due to "the American tactic of aerial bombings where there are civilians" because "that's the way they do things".
He also expects "the Conservative government to "lowball" the degree of American involvement."
"The Hill Times inquired with communication shops at both the Department of National Defence and the Department of Foreign Affairs about an increased American presence in the NATO-led mission, however neither responded.
Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai (Calgary East, Alta.), the Parliamentary secretary to the Foreign Affairs Minister, and Conservative MP Wajid Khan (Mississauga-Streetsville, Ont.), a member of the House Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, were also contacted, but staff for both MPs said they were unavailable for comment."

But in Calgary, Harper had a statement :
"I join with Canadians who stand proudly in support our men and women of the Canadian Forces as they courageously risk their lives every day to bring peace and security to the people of Afghanistan. Their sacrifice will not be forgotten. We will honour their sacrifice by continuing on with this vital mission. Canada's commitment to peace and security in Afghanistan remains resolute. We will not allow the Taliban to deter us from continuing to help Afghans rebuild their country."
Or bombing them back to the stone age.
How long are we going to let Harper get away with this charade of pretending to be one of the fools who "actually genuinely think that being in Afghanistan is about helping the Afghan people"?

Second annual west coast blogger meet-up.
Join the Ink Stained Wretches from the Beaver, RossK at the Gazetteer, Frank Frink from A Creative Revolution, Choice Joyce and I don't know who else yet for pizza and beer this Saturday at noon in Vancouver's West End.
Just leave us a note in comments here and we'll get back to you with the details.
Speaking of details, is Dana gonna do Richard the Third in puppets again this year? Coz I'm guessing we could probably charge admission for that...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

One war resister down - 200+ more to go

"The first American war resister deported from Canada – where he had fled after refusing to be deployed to Iraq – was sentenced to 15 months in jail yesterday at a court martial hearing in Colorado.
Pte. Robin Long, 25, of Boise, Idaho, was also given a dishonourable discharge after pleading guilty to charges of desertion."

On June 3, 2008, a majority of Lib, NDP, and Bloc MPs - 137 Yeas to 110 Nays - adopted an NDP recommendation to allow U.S. Iraq War resisters to obtain Permanent Resident status in Canada; the Cons voted against it.

In July Pte. Long became the first war resister since the Vietnam War to be forcefully deported from Canadian soil and handed over to US military authorities. One down; over 200 more to go...

Long joined the army after being promised a non-combat position within the U.S. by his recruiter and went A.W.O.L. in 2005 prior to his scheduled deployment to Iraq.
Long said he had come to feel significant moral opposition to the war and the lies he had been told regarding the reason for invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Long : "Regardless of what hardships I go through, I could have put Iraqi families through more hardships. I have no regrets."

Well, so much for Canada's respect for that Nuremberg principle about soldiers taking responsibility for their actions ...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Steve and Kory and Fucking Young People

Yes. After whipping their base up into a regular santorum over funding for swears and lefties and rock stars, the government program that supported "Young People Fucking" is still intact, but $40M of moneys to promote Canadian arts and culture has been transferred to fund 2010 Five Ring Circus sports events like the $24.5 million torch relay.
Well you couldn't really see Steve cutting a ribbon to open YPF, could you?
Kudos to Kady and Jennifer at Runesmith for their excellent research.
G&M : Ottawa aims to put its stamp on 2010 Games
Memo from David Emerson to Canadian Heritage, Feb 5 :
"The Minister has recently confirmed with VANOC in writing that the Department of Canadian Heritage intends to invest $20-million toward the opening ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games in order to ensure that the event adequately reflects the priorities of the Government and helps to achieve its domestic and international branding goals."
Ensure...priorities of the Government?
Domestic and international branding goals?
Talk about painting the town blue.
For an insider's take on this : Beijing York

Thursday, August 21, 2008

More magic pudding

In it he reviews the utter military ineffectiveness of missile defence : it only works under perfect conditions against one missile at a time, and only as long as that incoming missile is not painted white and there are no balloons or bits of tin foil in the area to fool it.
The system persists, he notes, precisely because it doesn't work.

"Federal government is a vast corporate welfare programme, rewarding the industries that give millions of dollars in political donations with contracts worth billions. Missile defence is the biggest pork barrel of all, the magic pudding that won't run out, however much you eat. The funds channelled to defence, aerospace and other manufacturing and service companies will never run dry because the system will never work.

To keep the pudding flowing, the administration must exaggerate the threats from nations that have no means of nuking it - and ignore the likely responses of those that do."

Now that the Czech Republic and Poland are about to become pudding franchises should their parliaments approve the deals, the pudding wholesalers weigh in :

"The new system in Europe, which includes 10 interceptor rockets in Poland and a sophisticated radar complex in the Czech Republic, should cost another $4 billion over the next few years, according to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.
Boeing Co, prime contractor for the U.S. ground-based missile defense system, will supply the rockets to be placed in Poland.

Lockheed Martin Corp said its system to integrate separate missile defense elements and provide a common view of the "battlespace", known as Command, Control, Battle Management and Communications (C2BMC), would play a key role in the European missile defense site.

Raytheon Co. built the powerful X-band radar now based in the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, which will be moved to the Czech Republic.
Raytheon, also prime contractor for the Patriot air and missile defense system, declined comment on any project sales resulting from the Polish agreement"

Back to Monbiot : "If we seek to understand American foreign policy in terms of a rational engagement with international problems, or even as an effective means of projecting power, we are looking in the wrong place. The government's interests have always been provincial. It seeks to appease lobbyists, shift public opinion at crucial stages of the political cycle, accommodate crazy Christian fantasies and pander to television companies run by eccentric billionaires. The US does not really have a foreign policy. It has a series of domestic policies which it projects beyond its borders. That they threaten the world with 57 varieties of destruction is of no concern to the current administration. The only question of interest is who gets paid and what the political kickbacks will be."

It's worth remembering that before he became PM, Harper expressed a wish to revisit Canada's position on rejecting Star Wars, while the Council of Chief Executives have always promoted membership in missile defence as merely the cost of doing business with the US.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Kick Ass Blogger Award

Kick Ass Blogger Award

Many many thanks to Impolitical and deBeauxOs at Birth Pangs for naming Creekside as a Kick Ass Blog, even though I have been pretty snarky about these memes in the past.
This one is different. I realize that now.

What? I have to pass it on?
Can't I just sit here quietly and rack up a few more noms from people who don't realize I've already been tagged?
Ok then. Among the many great blogs who I think haven't already been nominated, here's five who consistantly kick Canadian ass :

Moved to Vancouver and The Woodshed , my co-bloggers at The Galloping Beaver - nepotism rules!
Rusty Idols
Thwap's Schoolyard
The Gazetteer

No, you guys can't keep yours either.
Passing it on:

~Choose 5 bloggers that you feel are "Kick Ass Bloggers"
~Let 'em know in your post or via email, twitter or blog comments that they've received an award
~Share the love and link back to both the person who awarded you and back to
~Hop on back to the Kick Ass Blogger Club HQ to sign Mr. Linky then pass it on!

Mr. Linky?

Death by pudding or parking lot

George Monbiot : The US missile defence system is the magic pudding that will never run out
"It's a novel way to take your own life. Just as Russia demonstrates what happens to former minions that annoy it, Poland agrees to host a US missile defence base. The Russians, as Poland expected, respond to this proposal by offering to turn the country into a parking lot. This proves that the missile defence system is necessary after all: it will stop the missiles Russia will now aim at Poland, the Czech Republic and the UK in response to, er, their involvement in the missile defence system."
The missile defence system doesn't actually work of course, but to be fair, that isn't its job. Its real job, in Monbiot's happy phrase, is to keep the pudding production going. There's big bucks in pudding - $150B so far.

Meanwhile the Czech Republic is also gearing up to host a US pudding factory, pending approval from its parliament.

Linda McQuaig notes that "goal of eliminating nuclear weapons — arguably the most pressing issue humankind faces — has otherwise slipped so far off the political agenda it rarely merits a mention."

We're happy to pretend that installing a missile defence system in Poland has something or other to do with Iran, which doesn't have any nukes, but when it comes to the nuclear weapons of the U. S., Russia, China, Britain, France, Israel, India and Pakistan, we're oblivious.

"Peace advocates Anatol Rapoport and Leonard Johnson (a retired Canadian general) compare our society to the cells of a body in the process of committing suicide. All the cells keep operating normally, each doing its own job, even as the person writes a suicide note, puts a gun in his mouth and prepares to pull the trigger."

In 2002, Canada became the first NATO country to vote for a pro-disarmament resolution, despite strong opposition from the United States, and called for "the complete elimination of nuclear weapons...through steadily advocating national, bilateral and multilateral steps."

Michael Byers noted that last year that the Foreign Affairs website had been amended to say that Canada's nuclear weapons policy is now "consistent with our membership in NATO and NORAD, and in a manner sensitive to the broader international security context."

Death by pudding or parking lot - take your pick. And don't forget to leave a note.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Tony Clement and his angels of death

Federal Health Minister Tony Clement spouted off against Vancouver's supervised injection site at the Canadian Medical Association conference today.
Tony, who isn't a doctor and doesn't even play one on TV very well, once defended his opposition to Insite and his very slippery 'slippery slope' argument by saying that he believes he is "on the side of the angels."

Really? Whose angels are those, Tony? You mean these ones? :
Vancouver Sun : "Clement said an expert panel commissioned by the federal Health Department last year found that Insite has had no impact on reducing the transmission of blood-borne illnesses such as HIV/AIDS"

You mean that "expert panel" of scientologists and US War on Drugs shills whose "research" you tabled at the Health committee on harm reduction?

I remember watching that particular committee meeting, Tony. You brought along one doctor as a witness. He admitted he hadn't done any research. Commitee members and people in the audience were laughing. Laughing, Tony. Surely you haven't forgotten.

Many, many, many, many, many, many, many bloggy takedowns for Tony today, but let's hear from Dr. Thomas Kerr, of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS at St. Paul's Hospital. Noting that Clement is "highly selective" in his facts, and stating that his information is based on articles that haven't been subjected to a peer review [How does one go about peer reviewing scientology after all?], Kerr said :

"It's just a real pathetic manipulation of data."

"You find evidence pointing clearly to Insite as doing what it is supposed to do. Of course it's working."
"Who do you want to believe? Do you want to believe published articles in the New England Journal or Lancet, do you want to believe the World Health Organization or do you want to believe Tony Clement?
It's embarrassing."

Well exactly.

Besides, everything you need to know about Tony's ethical position on Insite is right here in the G&M :
"Health Minister Tony Clement says his government will not necessarily oppose safe-injection sites for illegal drugs in Quebec even though it will appeal a court decision allowing a similar facility in British Columbia."

Yeah. That would be what Accidental Deliberations pointed out is the "first do no harm to the Conservatives" principle of ethics.

h/t Cathie from Canada who first exposed Tony's dubious panel of expert way back in May 2007.

US to take over Afghan mission, Taliban threatens Canadian aid workers

Times Online : "The United States is planning to take control of all military operations in Afghanistan next year with an Iraq-style troop surge after becoming frustrated at Nato’s failure to defeat the Taliban.

Plans are being drawn up to send as many as 15,000 extra troops to Afghanistan with a single US general always in command, as in Iraq, defence sources said. The Pentagon is also pushing for a permanent “unified command” in the south of the country that would sideline the Dutch and the Canadians.

The surge will also see US and other coalition special forces, which operate separately from the Nato command, absorbed into a single US command for the whole of Afghanistan."

Bush to Harper and Nato : I'm in charge here.

So can we go back to calling it Operation Enduring Freedom again now?

CBC : Canadians face more attacks, Taliban warns

"Just days after insurgents shot and killed two Canadian aid workers in eastern Afghanistan, the Taliban is warning similar attacks will occur.
The extremist group issued the warning in a letter posted on the internet, and the CBC confirmed its authenticity on Sunday after talking to Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid in Kandahar province:

"The Afghans did not go to Canada to kill Canadians. Rather it is the Canadians who came to Afghanistan to kill and torture the Afghans to please the fascist regime of America," the letter said."

Meanwhile, the Canadian International Development Agency CIDA has quietly revised its grant agreements to further shield the government from responsibility when aid workers are killed even as they told some organizations that they are more likely to receive funding for projects based in Kandahar, one of the most dangerous provinces in the country :

"Canada "shall not be liable for any losses, claims, damages, or expenses relating to any injury, disease, illness, disability or death of the employees or subcontractors of the organization alleged to be caused as a result of performing the agreement."

Nice. Stay tuned for Steve to nonetheless proclaim that Canada supports the troops, will not cut and run...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Christian the Lion

Harper doesn't have a hidden agenda...

... it's right out there in the open and you can read all about it any time you like on the "Agenda for Canada" page of the National Citizens Coalition.

Founded back in '67 by a life insurance executive to fight against public healthcare, the NCC is the right wing lobby group Harper once headed as president and to which he will undoubtedly return as he did in '97 following his stint as a Reform MP.

From the NCC's "Agenda for Canada" :

  • cut big government spending

  • get a better return on our health-care investments

  • allow Canadians to keep more of the money they earn

  • push for a democratically elected senate, a strong military, a privatized CBC
  • entrench property rights

  • end the Wheat Board monopoly

  • restore rights to union workers

  • end CRTC censorship

A very big deal with them is legally challenging electoral financing laws limiting third-party advertising spending during election campaigns, as in The Attorney General of Canada v. Stephen Joseph Harper .

They have also mounted media campaigns against grants for the arts and social advocacy organizations, and against public funding for human rights and women's groups. Currently they have one going against Dion's carbon tax.

Any of this sound familiar?

And then there's that famous speech Harper made in June 1997 to the U.S. Council for National Policy, the one in which he referred to Canada as "a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term". He was Vice-President of the NCC at the time.

Harper always was just on loan to us from the NCC; it's time for them to take him back again.

Friday, August 15, 2008

CanConPron, eh?

The CRTC has approved "Canada's first adult video channel offering significant Canadian adult content" because as we all know, there just isn't enough of the stuff on the intertubes already.

"According to the licence, Northern Peaks is restricted to certain genres, including: drama and comedy, long-form documentary, mini-series, theatrical feature films, game shows and human interest programming."
with 50% Canadian content.

Try not to think about Dana's post or Pale's post as you read this.

On the lighter side, Northern Peaks will apparently have close captioning...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Go for it, Steve, you arrogant ass.

After three days of flop sweats and hiding in their rooms from summonses, the Cons have finally settled on a strategy of staging public tantrums to avoid the ethics committee.
Obviously shitting bricks at the prospect of any more of Team Clown Con appearing in public, Steve comes up with a desperate plan.

"Prime Minister Stephen Harper hinted strongly Thursday that he may do something to trigger an election because Parliament is not functioning anymore.

Harper added that the committee system is "increasingly in chaos," an apparent reference to bickering taking place at an ethics committee probe into Tory election ad spending."

That's rich. This from the leader of the party that had dirty tricks manuals printed on how to scuttle committees.

The only "increasingly in chaos" committee Steve cares about at the moment is the Ethics Committee which is holding hearings on how the Cons exceeded their 2006 election spending limit by $1.1 mil­lion : they transferred money into the campaign bank ac­counts of 67 selected candidates and then quickly transferred the money back out. Many Cons say they had no idea they were being used this way, and the ad agency in question expressed concerns to the Cons about the legality of the In and Out scheme.

Now about Steve's "increasingly in chaos" ethics committee...

G&M :
"A panel of 11 senior Conservatives skipped yesterday's hearing of the Commons ethics committee looking into a controversial election-finance scheme, with two failing to respond to a summons, and some others eluding bailiffs' efforts to serve them.

On Tuesday, Douglas Lowry, an official agent for a Toronto Conservative in the last election, testified that the party's Toronto organizer, Karma McGregor, had told witnesses not to attend.
Yesterday afternoon, the witness table was unoccupied when every member of a high-level list of Conservative witnesses failed to appear.

"I don't know the reasons. ... What if somebody's on vacation? What if somebody had a heart attack? What if somebody needs a kidney replacement? Or dialysis?" said Tory MP Gary Goodyear."

in an obvious bid to make clear his contempt for making committees work.

Yesterday a witness showed up a couple of days early demanding to be heard right then, and had to be escorted from the committee room by security when he refused to leave. Today another showed up a couple of days late, also demanding to be heard right then, and even though he was told he could appear after the scheduled witnesses, he nonetheless left the room, according to Kady, actually screaming.

Kady live-blogs the whole appalling scene.

Meanwhile the Cons and the Libs are neck-and-neck in the polls and the Libs are broke and our first-past-the-post electoral system has landed us with a government who garnered less than 30% support in the polls and who may be fond of power but who definitely hate government. Small wonder they act so nuts : after two years in government they still think they're the opposition. They're right.

Annual Canadian Conference of Chiefs of Police, brought to you by TASER™

"Welcome to our meeting with history and modernity.
Better diversity management through partnership."
One of this year's 'partners', a $25,000 "platinum sponsor" of the conference, is TASER™.
A presentation of the as yet incomplete "2008 Conducted Energy Weapon Report", on TASERS™ commissioned by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police will be given by Steve Palmer, executive director of the Canadian Police Research Centre.
Well that seems a little...cosy.
We already know that Steve Palmer is a TASER™ fan. Following the death of a Montreal man zapped by a TASER™ while in police custody in 2007, Mr. Palmer said :
"There is a growing body of knowledge out there that these devices are safe when used properly," Palmer said.
"We don't speak often enough about the number of lives that have been saved, the number of people that are up and walking around today that might not have been had it not been for a Taser."
And look, it's right there on the TASER™ logo : "Saving lives every day".
Mr. Palmer fails to note that most of his "growing body of knowledge out there" in support of TASER™ is commissioned by, um, TASER™.
TASER™ Int. itself uses Mr Palmer's report as a marketing tool :
Even cosier.
Steve Tuttle, VP of TASER™, will be there.
"It is a major sales event. It is advertising," said Mr. Tuttle , adding "he has DVDs that contain 130 studies that have found the devices to be safe".
"I think that when Canadians look at the choices for use of force, do they want to go back to batons and nightsticks, or do they want to go to the future?
The future is taser."
G&M :
"Taser staff will be on hand to exhibit the company's trademark X26 model, a wireless taser round that is fired from a shotgun and has a range of 20 metres, and a system called Shockwave that fires multiple taser rounds that can incapacitate a number of people in an area up to 100 metres."
Also known as crowd control.
Stockwell Day will give the Opening Presentation on Aug 25.
"The future is TASER™"
So to recap : TASER™ Int. sponsors the annual Canadian Conference of Chiefs of Police at which the executive director of the Canadian Police Research Centre gives a presentation on its report on TASER™s that is used by TASER™ Int. to market its products.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Harper's war on culture

Harper's box of hammers - the Con remix version :

1) Military historian and acclaimed film maker Gwynne Dyer is asked by Harper's government to go to Cuba in 2007 to give a lecture for $3000 in airfare and hotel expenses.

2) Unbeknownst to Dyer, DFAIT pays for his expenses out of ProMart funding.

3) When the Cons decide to axe ProMart, they publicly use Dyer as an example of what is wrong with the program, referring to him as :

"a left-wing columnist and author who has plenty of money to travel on his own," and

"not exactly the foot that most Canadians would want to see put forward."

Here is Gwynne Dyer's response :

"When the Canadian government announced it was shutting down the PromArt cultural diplomacy program, it named me as one of the free-loaders who abuse the grant system - in my case, by going off to Cuba to misrepresent true Canadian values. The Conservative talking points said I am "a left-wing columnist and author who has plenty of money to travel on his own," and your editorial The Arts Belong In Foreign Policy (Aug. 11) said "those grants never should have been approved, and the criteria should be tightened to prevent such abuses."
But, in fact, I was asked to go to Cuba in early 2007 by the Department of Foreign Affairs."

Care to rewrite your bullshit editorial now, NaPo?

Jennifer at Runesmith has great background on the ProMart program.
Accidental Deliberations points out that the Cons appear to see all public resources as slush funds.

Update : HA HA HA HA
Meanwhile the crack(ed) editorial team at Western Standard stakes out the high moral ground for the Cons, just in case, you know, they had misplaced it :

Conservatives abandon White Man’s Burden and end funding for cultural imperialism
"Artificially injecting our culture into another nation like an imperial poison? No way.
Using millions of dirty petro-dollars taken from Alberta to displace the indigenous culture of a struggling developing nation? No way.
That’s not Canada. That’s Amerika.
Didn’t our Prime Minister just apologise to Canada’s aboriginal community for an earlier version of a White Man’s Burden program called Residential Schools?"

stop...stop...I can't stand it...must breathe...oh noes, there's more...

"In my judgment, these programs come dangerously close to promoting cultural imperialism.
It's a good thing the Conservatives canceled these programs before Canada’s international reputation was tarnished.
PMO staffer Kory Teneycke, a brilliant and principled newish addition to Harper’s team..." no.....too..late........I'm...melting.....

Afghanistan : 28,000 mercenaries from 73 different companies

Stars and Stripes :
"The shooting death of a Canadian soldier this weekend provides a grim example of how chaotic the security situation can often be in southern Afghanistan.
The soldier [Master Cpl. Joshua Roberts] was mortally wounded Saturday morning in Kandahar province when Afghan private security guards opened fire indiscriminately after Taliban insurgents attacked a nearby group of Canadian troops, according to coalition military officers.

An array of coalition forces are training Afghan army and police as a frontline defense against the Taliban, but they are spread thin. The situation is further complicated by a mishmash of poorly-disciplined, but heavily-armed private security guards that have official Afghan and coalition sanction, but which often operate with little oversight or control. "

"According to coalition military officers, a convoy that included groups from two different security companies — Compass and USPI — was traveling the main highway west of Kandahar when they passed a group of Canadian soldiers engaged in a firefight with Taliban fighters in the Spin Beer district.
Apparently thinking they were under fire as well, the convoy of private security guards also opened fire.

"Their normal contact drill is that as soon as they get hit with something, then it’s 360, open up on anything that moves," said Maj. Corey Frederickson, part of a Canadian advisory team that trains and mentors the Afghan army. "We think that’s probably what happened."

Video footage at the Stars and Stripes link shows military officers questioning the Afghan mercenaries who :
"freely admitted to opening fire on what they thought were Taliban fighters. But when informed that a Canadian soldier had been wounded, their stories began to change, and many never claimed to have fired at all. Some of the security guards blamed the Afghan army for the incident."
Twelve of them are wearing Afghan police uniforms although they aren't police so the uniforms are promptly confiscated. Voiceover from a US soldier explains that personal militia and security guards wearing Afghan police uniforms drive around heavily armed and stoned and rob people.

Well, ok, we already knew this.
But am I right in thinking it likely that coalition forces are training Afghan police and soldiers, the poorly and intermittantly paid Afghan police and soldiers, who presumably then quit in order to join the better paying private security forces which are accountable to no one?

CBC : "There are as many as 28,000 private soldiers working in Afghanistan for as many as 73 different companies."

Monday, August 11, 2008

Steve and Kory and a box of hammers

G&M : "Administered by the Department of Heritage, Trade Routes, valued at about $9-million annually, helps cultural groups such as Hot Docs and the Canadian Independent Record Production Association export and sell products abroad."
The Cons have axed it, thus saving every taxpayer less than .30¢!
Woo woo. The Con base must be just ecstatic.
Let's have a quick look at the comments under that G&M article to see how they're doing ....
Bluer than You from Canada : "Exactly, we need a majority to re-educate these sinners. Just wait until the CPC has a majority and then we'll see some real fundamental changes...."
Bluer than You from Canada again : "We are embarking upon a new age....
A new crusade led by great men like George Bush and Stephen Harper. They share the same values and ideas with the majority of Canadians."
Bluer than You from Canada again again ! : "It's about time! I urge all readers to save yourselves and follow the real Conservative values, learn what you must do and thank S.Harper.
I urge you to view our site which has the support of many CPC politicians including S.Harper.
Hopefully he will begin funding our efforts as promised by the CPC.
Family Action Coalition ? Our site? Oh. Wow. I. mean. just. lol.
Note to Bluer than You : Actually, Harper is kinda trying to keep any association with anti-choice anti-gay religious nutbar groups on the qt, otherwise he'll never get a shot at that moral majority of yours. Just sayin'.
'Course maybe Blue is just a troll and foolin with us. Who else we got over there?
Green Konstantin from Canada : "When you lefty parasites scream and moan like this, it proves we're doing the right thing. Go soothe yourself with a nice round of gay sex with a piece of furniture or whatever you're into."
Tom Robinson from Not from muslim Toronto : "Real Canadians hate Toronto... How do you know that Native Canadians were not immmigrants at one time in this country. No-one knows for sure, so I could be right. How many muslims, asians, pakistanis, indians, or any other Torontonians serve in the military?"
Yup. There they are - Steve's box of hammers crowd.
Not exactly "happy as..." though, are they?
CBC quotes Bill Siksay, the NDP's culture and heritage critic :
"It really does seem to play to the most right-wing part of the Conservative Party."
and serves no other purpose, he did not add.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Omar Khadr v. Canada

KornKobKory blows off Omar Khadr's lawsuit against Harper, filed by Khadr's lawyers with the Federal Court of Canada on Friday in a desperate bid to force his repatriation to Canada :
"This is predictable," said Mr. Kory Teneycke, the prime minister's director of communication. "It's an attempt by Mr. Khadr's lawyers to avoid a trial."
Now why would they want to avoid a trial?
Let's review, shall we, Kory?
Here's Col. Morris Davis, former chief prosecutor for Guantánamo's military commissions, in conversation with Pentagon general counsel William Haynes, advocate of waterboarding and chief legal adviser to Defense secretaries Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates :

"[Haynes] said these trials will be the Nuremberg of our time," recalled Davis, referring to the Nazi tribunals in 1945, considered the model of procedural rights in the prosecution of war crimes. In response, Davis said he noted that at Nuremberg there had been some acquittals, which had lent great credibility to the proceedings.

"I said to him that if we come up short and there are some acquittals in our cases, it will at least validate the process," Davis continued. "At which point, [Haynes's] eyes got wide and he said, 'Wait a minute, we can't have acquittals. If we've been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can't have acquittals. We've got to have convictions.' "
KornKobKory then continues on with his support of the Gitmo trial :
"Mr. Khadr should face these charges through a trial process and not through a political process"
despite the fact that former chief prosecutor Col. Morris Davis has specifically condemned the trials as "political, not legal".
Last word to Scott Horton, Columbia University Law School :
"If someone was acquitted, then it would suggest we did the wrong thing in the first place. That can't happen," says Horton sardonically."

Friday, August 08, 2008

Don't mention Canada. I did once but I think I got away with it.

Notes for Remarks by The Honourable Michael Wilson, PC, OC
Canadian Ambassador to the United States

"Advancing the North American Economic Area"
North American Forum
Washington, D.C. June 17, 2008

It's standard fare from the Canadian ambassador so I'll just pull out a few key quotes for you :

"I am looking forward to this morning’s discussion on "Enhancing Economic Integration and Competitiveness." This is a top priority for Canada."

"Building a competitive North American platform is essential"
"to engage the world as a North American economic powerhouse."
"a strong, dynamic, and increasingly integrated North American economy."
"we need to continually position ourselves better — position North America better"
"we build things together for North America"
"to improve the quality, price, or value of every North American product"
"North America will compete successfully with the giants of the world economy"
"the North American economic partnership is working"
"we can improve the safety of products available throughout the North American marketplace"
"developing a sectoral approach to improving North American competitiveness"
"We [Canada] are champions for improvements to the infrastructure that our North American industries depend on."
"committed to keeping the North American supply chain running smoothly"
" the North American competitive advantage."
"the movement of legitimate goods and people is an important challenge we all share within North America."
"North American leaders now meet regularly"
"the North American economic area"
"Global value chains allow North American producers to source lower-cost inputs"
"new export opportunities for North America"
"we must stake-out a strategic position for North American companies"
"challenges facing North American citizens"
Conclusion :
"Economic integration is happening. Our businesses and consumers are making it happen"

OK, so that was about a third of his speech.
I realize it's called the North American Forum but it would be nice if the Canadian ambassador was not so keen to represent "economic integration" with the US as a "top priority for Canada".

Michael Wilson was introduced to this year's forum by Canadian Council of Chief Executives President Tom d’Aquino. He must be so proud. Mike does his North American branding just the way Tom likes it.

h/t Integrate This!

Westboro Baptist Church, aka

Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist "Church" and has been around for 50 years and in that time has managed to attract a grand total of a few dozen members. This was mostly achieved just by breeding.

Although Stockwell Day took the practical step of alerting the border not to let them enter Canada to target the funeral of Greyhound Bus murder victim Tim McLean tomorrow, it appears a second attempt on the border was successful :
"Phelps-Roper said her group will not be stopped from getting its message out, even if only one member makes it to McLean's funeral.
"Don't worry. It won't matter how many people there are. When they get the signs up, they'll (get) the same raging, screaming response," Phelps-Roper said."
The Phelps family, you see, is only about the publicity.
They have nothing against McLean in particular, aside from their generic "God Hates Canadians" thing, but any funeral that attracts public attention attracts the Phelps clan.

In addition to 'fags', the Westboro Baptist Church is of the opinion that God hates Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Americans, Canadians, Chinese, Swedes, Mexicans, and the Brits.
God also apparently has a particular hate on for Fred Rogers, Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham, Coretta King, Elizabeth Taylor, Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, Princess Diana, holocaust victims, the victims of the Sago Mining disaster and the recent Sichuan earthquake, the five girls killed in the Amish school shooting, the students gunned down at Virginia Tech, all US soldiers killed in Iraq, anyone killed in any natural disaster anywhere anytime, etc, etc, etc.

Bonkers. Mad as snakes. The Westboro Baptist Church is the equivalent of somone who places a burning paperbag of dogshit on someone's porch, rings the doorbell, and then stomps on it himself.
If the Phelps family hadn't been the beneficiaries of considerable media attention over the years because they style themselves as a "church", no one would be paying any attention to them at all.

How would you rank your interest in the Olympics?

Interesting poll results at Maclean's so far, not that they'll be reflected in the coming deluge of Olympic media saturation.
NBC announced yesterday it has raked in more than $1 billion in advertising revenue for the event so far, coincidentally the same amount it will be spending to secure the rights to the 2010 Games in Vancouver.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Steve and Kory fail the Komagata Maru test

A formal apology delivered in the House is official; an apology delivered off the back of a truck in Surrey is an apology delivered off the back of a truck in Surrey.
Indo-Canadians were led to believe they would be receiving both and now they are pissed.

G&M : "As requested by the Prime Minister's Office, the organizers sent a draft of a gracious thank-you speech that they intended to deliver after Mr. Harper made his remarks. The Prime Minister's Office did content and grammatical edits of the speech and approved it for delivery."

Minister of Multiculturalism Jason Kenney : "We felt it would be most appropriate for this expression to be made in a venue where the broader community could participate, which is what the Prime Minster did," he said. "This was a way to maximize participation."

"Maximum participation" was somewhat compromised when Steve "left the stage immediately afterward, without waiting to see if his host would deliver the pre-arranged thank you speech."

Well, it's their own fault of course for electing NDP Penny Priddy to Surrey North.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Republicans and Cons - just one big happy family

G&M :
"Americans living in Calgary are being asked to help fund Republican efforts to elect John McCain through the visit of an influential Republican senator who doubles as one of Mr. McCain's campaign co-chairs.
Kansas Senator Sam Brownback is being invited to the city in August by a well-known Tory supporter and lawyer, Gerry Chipeur, who also has significant links to the U.S. Republican Party.
The funds raised by Americans attending the event will be used to help defray costs incurred by the Republican nominating convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul in September, as well as help elect a Republican the next president, said Mr. Chipeur in an interview.
Those wanting to hear Mr. Brownback speak at a dinner will be asked to pay $1,000, said Norman Leach, executive director of the Western Canadian division of the American Chamber of Commerce, which is helping Mr. Chipeur organize the event.
About 80,000 Americans live and work in Calgary, he said."
Possibly the best part is that the proceeds from the proposed $1000 a plate Brownback dinner will go to Friends of Science, Tim Ball's oil industry-funded anti-Kyoto "charity", whose funding was laundered through the University of Calgary by Harper's buddy, Prof. Barry Cooper, before the U of C put a stop to it.
Gerry Chipeur, a dual citizen himself, is an anti-SSM ReformaTory Alliance lawyer and supporter with ties to the evangelical movement on both sides of the border.
Here he is, for instance, on the US talk show, The O'Reilly Factor
Once upon a time however, Chipeur was much more coy about Canadian Con ties to US Republicans :
From: Paul Weyrich
[co-founder of the Moral Majority and the Heritage Foundation]
Sent: Thursday, January 19, 2006 9:38 AM
To: Bob Thompson
[a staffer at Weyrich’s Free Congress Foundation]

Subject: Message from Canada
Importance: High

Please get this message to the Stanton, Family Forum and Wednesday lunch groups:

I received a call last night from Gerald Chipeur, an important figure in Canada’s Conservative Party. He told me that Conservatives are with-in striking distance of electing an outright majority in Parliamentary elections Monday.

He said the Canadian media, which is trying to save the current Liberal government, has a strategy of calling conservatives in the USA in the hopes that someone will inadvertently say something that can be hung around the Conservatives.

Canadian voters have been led to believe that American conservatives are scary and if the Conservative party can be linked with us, they perhaps can diminish a Conservative victory. Chipeur asks that if Canadian media calls, please do not be interviewed until Monday evening at which point hopefully there will be reason to celebrate.

Many thanks.
When contacted by Canadian Press about the email, Weyrich denied any personal involvement but later on his website, he bragged about his "small victory" in the Canadian elections, recounting the entire email incident as true after all.

More recently Chipeur was credited with introducing Republican Frank Sensenbrenner to Canadian embassy officials at the Republican National Convention in New York in 2004, attended by Stockwell Day, Alberta MP Jason Kenney and John Reynolds, co-chair of the Tory 2006 election campaign.

Sensenbrenner had attended Reform party conventions and Stockwell Day insisted he be hired by the Canadian Embassy. Sensenbrenner was subsequently accused of leaking the Canadian memo which wounded Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama in the Naftagate leak.

Republicans and Cons - just one big happy party.

Time to put criticisms of Beijing aside

says VANOC CEO John Furlong, the same night CBC's Passionate Eye runs a doc on the 165,000 Chinese evicted from their homes and let go from their jobs in Beijing to make way for what Furlong describes as "a celebration".

Tell you what, John.
Given that the Olympics are but a thin veneer of sport covering up forced urban renewal projects, 1.5 million evictions according to the Center on Housing Rights and Evictions, how about making it a condition of winning the Olympic bid that the host country must set up decent refugee camps ahead of time?

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Harper's war on the Canadian Wheat Board

Aug 2, 2007 : (italics mine)
"One ongoing concern remains Harper's determination to end the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly on the marketing of western barley crops. A recent federal court ruling upheld the wheat board's right to serve as a single marketing desk for Canadian barley.
Harper said the 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."

Aug 2, 2008 : (Italics mine)
"The Harper government is tinkering with the rules governing the election of Canadian Wheat Board directors in an attempt to influence this fall's scheduled vote, critics charge.
Late Friday, Ottawa announced it would remove advertising spending limits for third-party interveners in wheat board elections.
"It's just another attack on the Canadian Wheat Board," said National Farmers Union president Stewart Wells. "They think they can marshal lots of corporate money and lots of big-spender money and try to destroy the board by advertising against it."

The spending limits for wheat board candidates, 8 out of 10 of whom support the wheat board's monopoly on wheat and barley sales, are capped at $15,000.

Monsanto, on the other hand, once blocked by the CWB from Canadian registration of RoundUp Ready Wheat, will now be allowed to run as many ads advocating "choice" for wheat farmers as they like.

A timeline of the Con's attacks on the wheat board includes firing the CWB president and two directors, striking 16,269 farmers - or 36% - from the voters' list, and issuing a gag order preventing the CWB from taking its case to the public.

h/t Peterborough Politics for the Aug 2, 2008 newslink

Friday, August 01, 2008

The SPP is dead - Long live the SPP

Robert Pastor, chair of the 2005 Council on Foreign Relations task force "Building a North American Community" (now available in book form and co-authored by John Manley) and author of the book "Toward a North American Community" says the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America is dead.

It was killed, he tells us, by the timid incremental approach of its policy makers who tried to fly the SPP below the radar of public opinion, thereby arousing their deepest suspicions.
Right wing fears of Mexican immigrants and a North American Union combined with left wing fears of unfair labour practices to create 'a perfect storm' of public alarm that scuttled its chances of success.

So that's it then - it's been nailed to its perch pining for the fjords since last April. It's kicked the bucket, shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile.

Well ok then.

In other totally unrelated news just this week :

1) the U.S. is leaning on Mexico to privatize its state-owned oil consortium PEMEX

2) Saskatchewan has followed BC in introducing the Enhanced Driver's Licences demanded by Homeland Security for admission to the U.S.

3) U.S. Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs Daniel Sullivan is calling for greater energy integration and enhanced energy supply routes between the U.S. and Canada, praising the benefits of "benefits of market-based free trade agreements" to "enhance energy security throughout North America".

4)Avi Lewis and Linda Carlsen on Democracy Now discuss "re-armouring NAFTA" : Plan Mexico, the $400 million regional cooperation security initiative that introduces a greater US military presence into Mexico under the guise of lending aid for the war on drugs.

5) The U.S. Navy has reactivated gunboat patrols off the coasts of Latin America to "send a strong signal to all Navies operating in the region".

You see we don't care what you call it : SPP, deep integration, the Monroe Doctrine, Manifest Destiny. We don't care. Really. Call it whatever you like.

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