Monday, June 29, 2009

"This is The Current" with another ad for the terrorism industry

Following his 30 hour journey back to Canada from Sudan on Saturday, Abousfian Abdelrazik did the last six hour journey from Pearson Airport to his home in Montreal by van because "federal officials barred him from the one-hour flight from Toronto". (h/t Dr.Dawg)
A one hour flight entirely within Canadian airspace.

CBC's The Current did not mention this in their segment on Abdelrazik this morning. However in their quest for fair and balanced reporting, they did follow up their interview with Abdelrazik's lawyer Yavar Hameed with one from media terrorism expert and torture advocate Neil Livingstone, introduced only as "Chairman and CEO of the security consulting firm Executive Action and the author of nine books on terrorism."

Mr. Livingstone explained that Abdelrazik was probably incriminated during the "extremely valuable" and "credible" testimony provided "under duress" by Abu Zubaydah and said that CSIS's "sister organizations in the US" have taken note that Canada is "not prepared to go to the mat for Abdelrazik".

From Mr. Livingstone's own description of his company Executive Action :
"Think of us as a McKinsey & Company with muscle, a private CIA and Defense Department available to address your most intractable problems and difficult challenges."
Indeed Executive Action boasts former CIA Director James Woolsey and former FBI Director William Sessions on its Senior Advisory Board and claims over 1300 media interviews on terrorism.
From Mr. Livingstone's own bio at Executive Action :
"He predicted the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center on CNBC six months before they occurred, said the terrorists would drop both towers, and that Osama bin Laden would be behind the attacks."
Mr. Livingstone also advocated the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, where his company subsequently won several 'reconstruction' contracts, and is an advocate of destabilising Iran.
Last year in an article on counter-terrorism profiteering - "What did you do in Iran-Contra, Daddy?" - Larisa Alexandrovna traced Livingstone's career back to the Iran Contra affair and the push to establish an Iran-anthrax-al Qaeda link.

I don't expect The Current to have provided all this in their bio of Livingstone, but their propensity for reaching for the nearest rightwing US advocate for the terrorism industry without identifying him as such to comment on Canadian affairs continues to annoy.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Abdelrazik is home

"I’m very glad to come back home. I’m happy," Abdelrazik said.

"I want to say to my supporters from coast to coast, in every town, every city, every village, thank you very much for your supporting me and through your efforts, now I am here," he said.

"I’m proud to be a citizen of this famous nation. Thank you very much."

Canada Border Services Agency upholding Reagan's legacy

A Salvadoran judge personally invited by the government of Canada to a conference in Ottawa was detained for 24 hours at Pearson Airport by the Canada Border Services Agency because he is a member of the FMLN.
"They told me that because of my affiliation with the organization, they wouldn't let me into the country," Eugenio Chicas said from San Salvador.
"I told them that the war in El Salvador ended 17 years ago and the FMLN is now the governing party in El Salvador, but they told me that was the information they had available."

Eventually Chicas was permitted to attend the meeting of inter-American electoral bodies hosted by Elections Canada and the Organization of American States but :

Border officials kept his diplomatic passport and instructed him to promptly return to Toronto following the conference to get his flight home.

Chico said the CBSA "repeatedly pointed out his affiliation with the FMLN".

Ronald Reagan's 12 year war on the people of El Salvador ended in US disgrace a long time ago. The former revolutionary guerrilla organization FMLN has been sitting in the Salvadoran legislature as a registered political party since 1992. Earlier this month Hilary Clinton and Canadian minister of state Peter Kent attended the presidential inauguration of the FMLN leader.

Note to CBSA : Who exactly are you working for? Reagan is dead. Possibly it's time to update your security brief on that.

Breaking ...

Pillaged via PSA from pictures for sad children

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day pushes for new free-trade talks with U.S.

When I replaced my ancient stove with something slightly less antiquated, I phoned Dave our local garbage contractor to pick up the old one. Dave, you see, knows who best to pass it on to - whether that be a scrap metal joint, a dangerous appliance refurbishing business, or just someone looking to build stovehenge in their backyard.

Dave knows this valuable info because he lives here. Somehow I suspect that the International Waste Management Consortium in Houston Texas is not as up on the day-to-day requirements of the local stove-stacking crowd, so it's a good thing that our local municipality gets to Buy Local and give the contract to Dave instead.
In fact the Foreign Affairs page on "Assessing Government Procurement Under Canada's Trade Agreements" explicitly states that WTO, GATs, and NAFTA do not apply.

Day pushes for new free-trade talks with U.S.
... in which the same government that formerly freaked at the idea of revisiting a single page of NAFTA to prevent bulk Canadian water exports is now hoping for a whole "new chapter of free trade" to "ease the tendency by states, provinces and municipalities to favour local companies". Provinces and municipalities would allow US companies to bid on local contracts and in return Canadian businesses get to bid on theirs.
Notwithstanding that the US Fed has already misplaced its ability to account for trillions of their bailout money, why would US taxpayers go for this?
One North American economic security perimeter : it's not a new idea and "a feared rise of protectionist Buy American measures" is just the latest justification for giving it another push.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to call up Dave. The more I think about that stovehenge idea...

Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement

Bill C-24 the Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement received royal assent last week.
By neatly avoiding the controversy that has temporarily stalled the Colombia-Canada FTA, Canadian mining companies in Peru now have the legal standing to challenge the few Peruvian laws standing between them and the 45 million hectares of the Amazon opened up to them by Peruvian President Alan Garcia.

Council of Canadians Stewart Trew : "About 50% of resource extraction in Peru is carried out by Canadian companies."

Earlier this month 30,000 indigenous protesters blocked roads, rivers and railways to force the repeal of Garcia's new laws opening up its oil, gas and forestry resources to foreign investors by privatizing community land plots and ignoring aboriginal rights to their land. A 10,000-acre African palm plantation to produce biofuels displaced the local inhabitants Garcia contemptuously referred to as "garden watchdogs". Garcia has also "framed privatization of the Amazon as a means of fighting drug traffickers".
Protests. Massacres. Police in helicopters gunning down Indians. 24 police killed on the ground. Accusations of the government burning the bodies of unknown numbers of protesters. Prime minister resigns, president apologizes. Score one for the Indians.

Ben Powless from Six Nations Ontario was there.

Aside from a mention in the Senate as they ratified Bill C-24, Canada's official response to date has been to issue a travel advisory :

Minister of State for the Americas Peter Kent : "

"There were no Canadian companies involved or affected, so the linkage that folks might make shouldn't be made, because our free trade agreement and this tragedy don't have any obvious or visible connections."
Liberal Foreign Affairs critic Bob Rae :

"The killings and dispute were internal matters for Peru. This isn't about the free trade agreement, let's not confuse things here."
UBC political science professor Maxwell Cameron :

"We're in exactly the same position as the U.S. [The US-Peru FTA was implemented this February] - that is that this agreement is designed to foster particularly Canadian investments, and Canadian investors are going to operate, and do operate in exactly this area and many other areas where there are conflicts. To have an agreement like this come out at the same time that there's a major massacre certainly no one would say that's good."
Well, no one but Stockwell Day :

"These agreements will help increase prosperity, help provide better working conditions, and improve environmental management."

According to Export Development Canada, over 30 Canadian companies operate in Peru. Canadian companies expected to "increase prosperity, provide better working conditions, and improve environmental management" in Peru include Petrolifera, Teck Cominco, Barrick Gold, ScotiaBank, SNC Lavalin, Dessau Soprin and Sandwell.

This might be a good time to mention that Canada has not signed the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights.
Related : The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

U.N. turning the screws on Abdelrazik

Yesterday, a mere three days after the government announced it will comply with the Federal Court decision ordering it to bring Abdelrazik home, the United Nations Security Council blacklist committee decided to publish their reasons for putting him on its 1267 blacklist back in 2006. The allegations mirror similar charges posted on the U.S. Treasury Board website three years ago. What impeccable timing.

He is, they assure us, "associated with Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden or the Taliban" and "a key member of a Montreal terrorist cell". Their case :

He attempted to go to Chechnya to fight against the Russians - twice - they say.
Really? And we're holding that against him?

He knew Ahmed Ressam, the Millenium Bomber who attempted to attack LAX in 2000.
Yes and as an avowed repudiator of terrorism, Abdelrazik testified against him for the prosecution, an act he could be forgiven for coming to regret in light of how that is turning out for him.

He told one individual that he was "personally acquainted with Osama bin Laden."

He knew Abu Zubaydah, the schizophrenic halfwit waterboarded 83 times in 2002 in order to elicit a false confession linking Sadaam and al-Qaeda that could be used to justify the US invasion of Iraq.
"That information is the fruit of torture," responded Abdelrazik's lawyer.

Abu Zubaydeh again. Abu Zubaydeh is the sad source of many allegations under torture.
Rather surprised that the UN Security Council 1267 page would have the fucking audacity to bring him up actually, but now that they have, let's go with that :

Abu Zubaydeh's lawyer, Brent Mickum :

Who is Abu Zubaydah? He was born in Saudi Arabia, but is not a Saudi citizen. He was educated in India. Following his university training, he traveled through the United States, considering possible universities where he might pursue his master's degree. In an interview with ABC, former CIA agent John Kiriakou described him as "a very friendly guy" who wrote poetry and was keen to talk about current events and compare the differences and similarities between Islam and Christianity. That has been my experience as well.

Like many other young Muslims before him, Zayn ultimately embraced the teachings of the Qur'an and traveled to Afghanistan to fight against communist insurgents who remained after the withdrawal of the Soviet army. In 1992, while fighting on the front lines, he was injured in a motor attack that left him with two pieces of shrapnel that remain embedded in his head to his day. So severe were his injuries that he lost the ability to speak for more than one year. His memory is compromised even today. He cannot remember his mother's name or picture her face. He cannot remember his father's name, but recalls that he looked like a prominent movie star in the Arab community. Although Zayn ran a news agency with a partner, he cannot remember his former partner's name.

Later, when Zayn returned to the front lines, he was told that he was no longer fit for fighting because couldn't remember how to shoot.

Zayn was never a member or a supporter of any armed forces that were allied against the United States. He had no weapon when he was taken into illegal custody. He never took up arms against the United States nor against its coalition allies. He was not picked up on a battlefield in Afghanistan at the time of his detention, but was taken into custody in Pakistan, where he was wrongfully attacked, shot, and nearly killed. So serious were his wounds that a surgeon from John Hopkins University was flown to Pakistan to perform emergency surgery to save the life of a man the Bush administration believed to be the number three man in al Qaeda."

We await the UN Security Council's explanation on why all their hardwon resolutions against torture should be laid aside to countenance the torturing of a halfwit on behalf of US colonialism.
Abdelrazik is expected to land back in Canada on Saturday, accompanied on the flight by his lawyer, a Foreign Affairs official and two RCMP.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Man of Steel vs Government of Silly Putty

On Friday the government adjourned for three months because they have to get started on their barbie bunfests for next fall's election and hell there's not much going on in Canada right now anyway, right?
Today we learn :
"In a significant policy shift, the Canadian government now believes that telling the country's taxpayers the future cost of the war in Afghanistan would be a threat to national security.
... Julie Jansen, the director of the military's access branch, cited "the defence of Canada or any state allied" with it, in justifying the withholding of the figures for the three next fiscal years."
Three years? WTF?
"The military's new secrecy comes after the financial cost of the mission became a major issue for several days during last fall's federal election campaign."
Right. That would the report from our fearless first-ever Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page, aka Jennifer's Man 'o Steel, the guy who .. well, let's let Jennifer explain :
"Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page released his accounting of the true costs of the Afghanistan War , which to nobody's surprise turned out to be somewhat higher than Stephen Harper's guestimate."
Page's first report, released during last fall's election, calculated that the cost of the Afghanistan mission not including military equipment will be about $18.1 billion by 2011.
The second, published shortly before Diamond Jim Flaherty vowed there was absolutely no chance of a deficit in 2009, projected a serious deficit for 2009.
Parliamentary Librarian William Young and House and Senate Speakers Peter Milliken and Noel Kinsella referred to these corrections of the government's mistakes as evidence that Page was "exceeding his mandate".
....Wait for it ... don't rush it ...
"The Joint Library of Parliament Committee's report will gut Canada's first-ever Parliamentary Budget Office of its transparency and independence and is a simple power play to keep Kevin Page in line because he embarrassed the federal Department of Finance, says Parliamentary observers and some MPs.

"What they've done is put Kevin Page in a box, haven't they?" Concordia University professor Jim McLean told The Hill Times last week.
"The whole idea of the Parliamentary budget officer was to have an arm's length assessment, to have a person and a group backing up that person of highly-qualified people who could make independent assessments and do it in a transparent fashion. Independence and transparency has been stripped out of this, all together."

McLean : "Twelve people in an office embarrassed the thousand thinkers in the Department of Finance and that's where the politics of the whole thing started to work against Kevin Page."
The muzzling of Kevin Page is a bipartisan effort with both Senate Speaker Noel Kinsella and House Speaker Peter Milliken wanting him reined in :
"The parliamentary library operates on a solicitor-client basis. This means any research the library collects for MPs and senators is "privileged" and can be withheld at their request. As an adjunct of the library, Mr. Page's reports would be done for MPs and committees who then can could use the information as they want."
Privileged. Withheld at their request. As they want.
Well it will make a nice change from all that transparency and accountability we've been dealing with lately.
McLean : "the office is going to be buried, very, very deep."

Friday, June 19, 2009

Braidwood Inquiry : It ain't over yet

Justice Thomas Braidwood is "appalled", RCMP lawyer Helen Roberts is "tearful", and the Braidwood Inquiry into Robert Dziekanski's death has been put on hold until September pending further investigation into an incriminating November 2007 email which was only turned over to the Braidwood Inquiry this week.

The email from Chief Supt. Dick Bent to RCMP Assistant Commissioner Al McIntyre :

"Finally spoke to Wayne [Supt. Wayne Rideout, head of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team investigating Dziekanski's death] and he indicated that the members did not articulate that they saw the symptoms of excited delirium, but instead had discussed the response en route and decided that he did not comply that they would go to CEW [conducted energy weapon]."
Rideout's lawyer read a statement from his client saying the email was "simply a misunderstanding" and that that "Rideout doesn't remember saying such a thing and Bent must have been mistaken".
A tearful Roberts stated the email "was simply overlooked" and that "Bent was mistaken in his e-mail and that the officers did not formulate a plan to use the Taser as soon as possible."

I would think 25 seconds is about as "as soon as possible" as is humanly possible, plan or no plan.
All four mounties testified under oath that they did not discuss anything amongst themselves prior to taking down Robert Dziekanski with five TASER™ shots.

When the Inquiry resumes September 22 , Rideout, Bent and McIntyre will likely be required to testify. Will Bent just say : Yeah, I was mistaken ?

Does this make you any happier about the sweeping new powers the Cons propose to give the RCMP to "collect information about Canadian Internet users without a warrant, and activate tracking devices in their cellphones and cars"?
Sources : CBC, Natty Post, CP.

Cons agree to bring Abdelrazik home

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announced in Question Period today that the government will comply with, rather than appeal, the Federal Court decision ordering it to repatriate Abdelrazik,
stranded in Sudan since 2003.
As Chris Selley writes : "It's all over but the thousands of unanswered questions"
Here's one.
How much did this July 2006 US Embassy memo figure in extending Abdelrazik's exile?
"US Embassy DCM John Dickson made a demarche this afternoon re Abdelrazik.
... He had been asked to deliver a message from the White House, specifically from senior levels of the Homeland Security Council. [US] Ambassador Wilkins might be calling Ministers Toves [sic] and Day tomorrow. Frances Townsend might also be calling.

Dickson's main message was that the US would like Canada's assistance in putting together a criminal case against Abdelrazik so that he could be charged in the US. The US had information on Abdelrazik but at this point, it was not enough to charge him; the same might be true for Canada. If Canadian police or security agencies shared what they had, it might prove to be enough for the US to proceed, as the threshold for prosecution there was lower than here."

Days later the US added Abdelrazik to the UN Security Council terrorist blacklist, despite not having sufficient evidence to charge him under their 'lower threshold'.

And just so we're clear here - the threshold for action was spectacularly lower.
Recall that Maher Arar was renditioned to Syria the day after a wounded 14 year old Omar Khadr in Bagram prison was shown photos of Arar and coached into saying that "he looked familiar", and the US evidence against Abdelrazik appears to be the unfortunate spinoff derived from waterboarding a schizophrenic halfwit 83 times in 2002 in order to elicit a false confession linking Sadaam and al-Qaeda that could be used to justify the US invasion of Iraq.

Here's a question :
We don't know what correspodence transpired after the memo above, written three years after Arar returned to Canada and during the time we were hearing advance notice of the O'Connor report which would clear him of all terrorism allegations two months later. Was Abdelrazik kept in exile at the Canadian Embassy in Sudan to avoid a similar debacle by someone who decided he was safer left there than he would be back in Canada?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Consumated : a blue ribbon panel. Oooooh.

The ConservaLiberal coalition in action :

Walkom : "For the Liberals, the time is never right. They come up with endless excuses for never forcing an election on the minority Harper government: They don't have enough money; they don't have enough candidates; their leader is too new; the polls are inauspicious; the weather is too warm; the weather is too cold..."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"Then they were heroes. They were heroes."

Another brown Canadian citizen has been held in the US for 5½ years without charge, 4 of them in solitary confinement, for "allegedly assisting al-Qaeda", and his lawyer worries that he will suffer the same fate at the hands of the Canadian government as Omar Khadr and Abousfian Abdelrazik.

CBC : Ottawa not saying if Canadian linked to al-Qaeda can return
"Last month, U.S. federal prosecutors offered to drop the five charges of material terrorism if Warsame pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of conspiracy to support al-Qaeda."
Mohammed Warsame has accepted the offer - and after four years in solitary in the US, so would I - but Warsame does not deny his association with al-Qaeda. In 2000, he left Toronto for Afghanistan to train with al-Quaeda. Disillusioned by what he found there, he returned to Canada in March 2001 - six months before 9/11 - was picked up by the FBI in Minneapolis in 2003, and has been held in custody without trial ever since.

As his lawyer puts it : "Like many young Muslims, he was attracted by the notion of an Islamic state he believed was a sort of utopia."

Reading this I was reminded of a Chris Sands interview with the wife of an American diplomat stationed in Kabul. She spoke of her husband accompanying the Afghan resistance on their missions across the border against Soviet troops and of her friendship with fundamentalist Mujahideen leaders.
"Then they were heroes. They were heroes," she said.

Yes. They were praised as heroes, we now know, for being used by the US to embroil the Soviet Union in a crippling unwinnable war. But what is not often mentioned is the effect all that hero worship and propaganda in the western press would have had upon young Muslim teenagers in Canada and the US.
Warsame's crime was to have believed it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Premiers, governors endorse North American energy super-corridor

"Forget the Persian Gulf: Fort McMurray to Port Arthur, Texas is new powerhouse"
Western premiers and U. S. governors on Sunday hailed their push to develop a cross-border Western Energy Corridor.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, Alberta's Ed Stelmach, and Manitoba's Gary Doer were in Utah for the Western Governors' Association annual conference "to explore a broader energy relationship" with their American counterparts.

Stelmach said the western governors are very supportive of the corridor concept.
Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer declared the oilsands--the second-largest proven oil reserves in the world--are critically important to U. S. energy security and a major component for a powerhouse energy corridor.
"The most important energy corridor on the planet is no longer the Persian Gulf. It runs from the oilsands, Fort McMurray to Port Arthur, Texas," Schweitzer said.

"A large part of energy independence is going to be dependent upon developing the oilsands."
Colorado Governor Bill Ritter agreed, saying "it's both western parts of Canada and the United States that can play a role in energy independence."

Wall and Stelmach are scheduled to meet with U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today :
"Chu has also lauded the potential of the oilsands, saying recently it’s an important piece of U.S. energy security.
Happy to oblige, I'm sure.

What's this Western Energy Corridor about again?

An Overview of the Western Energy Corridor Initiative

"The United States faces an unprecedented threat to its economic and national security due to its dependence on foreign oil and gas. Given this threat, the U.S. must secure and steward itsown domestic energy supplies more effectively.
The Office of Naval Petroleum and Oil Shale Reserves is proposing a major technical study under the auspices of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Section 369(i) to perform a regional analysis of the development potential of the Western Inland “Energy Corridor”.

~ Thomas Woods, Idaho National Laboratory - the U.S. Energy Department’s main nuclear laboratory

Last spring, the Alberta and US governments signed an agreement to jointly research the use of atomic power for tarsands development. The Alberta Research Council and the U.S. Energy Department’s main nuclear laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, announced they will collaborate on "the potential application of current and future nuclear energy technology".

So to recap :
~The US Dept of Energy funds their main nuclear laboratory, the INL, to come up with the Western Energy Corridor Initiative.
~Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba sign on to it via the Western Governors' Association.
~Alberta and US governments sign an agreement for future nuking of the tarsands via the INL and Alberta Research Council.
~Stelmach and Wall are meeting with the US Dept of Energy Secretary today.

I remember when we were just worrying about the NAFTA Superhighway.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The late great Great Lakes

Bob alerts us to this CBC headline : Canada, U.S. will renegotiate Great Lakes water treaty

"Canada and the United States will renegotiate the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Saturday in Niagara Falls, Ont.
Clinton, who was joined by Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, crossed the border for celebrations marking 100 years of the Boundary Waters Treaty between the two countries.
"We have to update it to reflect new knowledge, new technologies and, unfortunately, new threats," Clinton said.
"The rivers, the lakes, the streams, the watersheds along our boundary do not belong to one nation, they belong to all of us," she said at celebrations overlooking the falls."

This sort of "all your water is belong to us" chat freaks us right out as we immediately imagine Canadian water being shipped south so that desert communities in the southern US can continue to hose down their driveways twice a day. And so it should.

But the US State Dept transcript, the DFAIT website, and tv news video have Clinton using the rather less alarming term "amend" rather than "renegotiate" to describe the new talks as needed to update bilateral action on "pollution, increased population and urbanization, land use practices, invasive species, new chemicals and the impacts of climate change."

Well it is the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement after all and certainly attention to these issues is long overdue. Obama has earmarked $475 million for Great Lakes rejuvenation, which is $475 million more than we have.
But we would have been a lot happier if Lawrence Cannon had not had to stop himself today from referring to Van Loan as the Minister of Homeland Security in a toadying speech that included the comment : "Our country’s prosperity and security are inseparable from those of the United States".

We also would have been happier if both his and Clinton's remarks on water quality did not segue mid-sentence into Canadian complaints about "Buy American" provisions - as if one were dependent on the other, as if "amending" the Great Lakes agreement was being offered up by Canada in exchange for a US rollback on "Buy American".
WATERLIFE - the NFB interactive site for an amazing film by Kevin McMahon

Friday, June 12, 2009

Only $24 billion, you say...

Two weeks ago The Star published this rogue's gallery of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and the extravagant bonuses they received despite having lost $24 billion in taxpayers' money.

Yesterday in the HoC : NDP Wayne Marston :

"...according to economist Toby Sanger, in the last 10 years, the CPP fund would have made $13 billion more than it did if it had been invested in government bonds, rather than in a diversified portfolio of equities, real estate and bonds.
In the fiscal year 2009, the losses in the fund wiped out four years of contributions..."
Four years of contributions...

Naturally the CPPIB defence team immediately rushed to its defence :

Ted Menzies, Con : "We do not want political interference in the remuneration of this board. They have done a very good job... We are absolutely on the right track"
Dean Del Mastro, Con : "The NDP has a history of advocating explicitly for political interference in the CPPIB. That is inappropriate.
I actually believe that the CPP Investment Board is very well managed"

Steve : "I actually noticed, by the way, that the board, in fact, did drop a total compensation for its executives by 31 per cent last year."


A new info war - yeah, that's the ticket in Afghanistan

"The United States plans to devote more money and manpower to the "information war" in Afghanistan as NATO-led forces battle an aggressive media campaign by Taliban insurgents, officials said on Friday.

US and NATO officials increasingly see public relations as crucial to turning the tide against the militants who have successfully spread their message through radio, the Internet and mobile phones.
The emphasis on public relations comes amid concern among US and NATO officials about the effect of civilian casualties from US-led air strikes."

2,118 innocents died last year - an increase of 40%, according to the U.N. Mission in Afghanistan
"This makes the 2008 civilian death toll the highest of any year since… the fall of the Taliban regime at the end of 2001" : annual report for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
"Air-strikes were responsible" for nearly two-thirds of those deaths, and "remain by far the most deadly tactic used by pro-Government forces."
US response? 45 new communications officers and "securing mobile phone towers" :
"US naval officer, Admiral Gregory Smith has been assigned to oversee stepped up communications efforts under the new commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal.
The goal of such efforts was to promote a lively debate among Afghans and not to force feed American ideas, he told the Council on Foreign Relations.
Apart from carrying out more ambitious media campaigns, US military and intelligence agencies are reportedly working to jam Taliban radio broadcasts in Pakistan and Afghanistan ... "
UPDATE : Back here at home, The Star is running the tragic story of Warrant Officer Perreault, a Canadian vet of that war with PTSD :
"a new system of compensating injured soldiers means Perreault gets not a cent for having post-traumatic stress disorder. His numerous other injuries maxed out allowable payout, leaving several injuries uncompensated"
This shit makes me absolutely fucking livid. What a fucking disgrace.
Perrault has a supportive wife who understands why he blackens her eyes and strangles her in his sleep.
Maybe some of you "Support the War" folks out there would like to shift some of that "support" to the actual people we send to Afghanistan to prop up US imperialism and Steve's pretensions to a "role on the world stage".
Enough.... enough...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Canada's Anti-terrorism Act is in the House!

In 2007, certain provisions of Canada's Anti-terrorism Act - preventative arrest and confinement without trial and being forced to testify in secret hearings based only on suspicion - were considered so dangerous to human rights and freedoms - by everyone but the Cons - that the Libs, NDP and Bloc voted to allow them to 'sunset'.

The Cons Bill C-19 currently being debated in the HoC seeks to bring them back, albeit with certain new safeguards and protective provisions, but still allowing 12 months of detention without trial on the mere suspicion of being involved in a terrorist activity.

NDP MP Don Davies, yesterday in the HoC :
"The members opposite talk about protective provisions in this bill. Again, let us talk about the case of Mohamed Harkat. All those provisions and protections were in the legislation then. There was judicial oversight. There were court-appointed defence counsel for him called special advocates. There were court orders issued to CSIS to produce information to his lawyers. Did that help? Tell that to Mr. Harkat. He is the victim of a security certificate that has been in place for years, and now we find out it was probably because there was some witness testifying against him in secret and it turns out he had no credibility."

Bloc MP Thierry St-Cyr :
"Even when we pass good laws that call on the government to defend and protect people's freedoms, the government still finds a way to violate people's rights. Mr. Abdelrazik's case is a good example. The court has ordered the government to respect this Canadian citizen's rights, but the government says that it could not care less about the law and the court ruling, and that it will not act in accordance with either.
If we were to wind up with laws that actually do attack our individual rights and freedoms, this government, which does not even respect existing laws, would take advantage of the situation to openly attack our civil liberties."

And will the definition of what constitutes 'terrorism' gradually evolve to include protesters?
The Libs will be voting for it on second reading regardless, saying they hope to fine tune it in committee.
Bloc and NDP vehemently against.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Canada Colombia Free Trade Agreement - It's ba-a-ack

First some twaddle from Steve, in which he tries to spin signing an agreement with the criminal regime with the worst human rights record in the western hemisphere as striking a blow against "protectionism" :

PM calls on Parliament to pass Colombia free-trade pact

"Prime Minister Stephen Harper called on Parliament to pass Canada's free-trade agreement with Colombia, saying Wednesday it would "send a clear message" to Washington and around the world about the risks of protectionism.

He said Buy America sentiment growing in the U.S. Congress, as well as some states and municipalities south of the border, is of particular concern to Canada.

"It is the right thing to do for Canada, to do for Colombia, and the right thing to do for the global economy," he told reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday alongside Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

Never mind that Colombia Senator Robeldo told the International Trade Committee on March 26 of this year that signing the CanCol FTA will effectively "absolve, pardon, and reward" Uribe for his support of human rights abuses and will condemn Colombia to even lower labour standards than they already have in order to compete with influx of subsidized Canadian foodstuffs, resulting in local farmers being unable to compete and losing their land.

Instead, via Canuck Media Monitor, a little Canada-Colombia history from Yves Engler's The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy :

"In 1997, Ottawa initiated a re-write of Colombia's mining code.
CIDA worked on it with a Colombian law firm and the Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI). The proposals became law in 2001 and offered a familiar list of goodies to mining corporations: the weakening of environmental and labor laws, reduced royalties paid to the government, tax exemptions, and added years to mining concessions.

In the resource sector, the link between profiteering and massive human rights abuses, especially forced displacement, is very obvious. Colombia's population of internally displaced persons (3 million as of 2008) is second only to that of Sudan. Engler described how two Canadian companies, BFC Construction and Agra-Monenco, contributed to human rights violations in northeastern Colombia:

"With $18.2 million from EDC [Export Development Canada] the companies' Urra dam submerged over 7,400 hectares, including old-growth forest as well as thelands and homes of 411 families, all of whom were without individual legal land titles, only having collective indigenous land rights.
About 2,800 people were forcibly resettled to make way for the Canadian companies' project and a further 70,000 people were directly impacted.
Predictably the community resisted the dam. According to Amnesty International, six indigenous people protesting the project were killed and ten additional members of the community were disappeared by paramilitary and guerrilla forces."

Well, at least Colombia can't be accused of a history of indulging in "protectionism".

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Mounties aim to block Braidwood Inquiry

The four RCMP officers who killed Robert Dziekanski with a TASER™ are asking the B.C. Supreme Court to prevent the Braidwood Inquiry from "making findings of misconduct against them" on the grounds "that a provincial inquiry doesn't have the power to make findings against federal police officers".

Justice Thomas Braidwood has warned that he may consider finding that the four RCMP "acted improperly and then tried to cover up their actions" in his final report.
The RCMP are hoping to use the excuse that they are a federal department not accountable to BC to pre-empt the BC Crown from possibly reopening their case. Not that there's been any indication that that's likely.

So far, Constables Kwesi Millington, Bill Bentley, Gerry Rundel and Corporal Monty Robinson have been exonerated by :
  • the Criminal Justice Branch of BC, which, despite having watched the same Paul Pritchard video the rest of us saw, determined the officers were "acting lawfully and responded with reasonable force".
  • the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, who also watched the vid and were so certain no charges would be laid that they didn't even bother to warn the officers first of their rights under the Charter that anything they said could be held in evidence against them or that they had a right to have their lawyers present.
  • the federal Department of Justice, which advised the Mounties they were not legally required to attend the Braidwood Inquiry anyway.
Additionally, the official federal RCMP watchdog Paul Kennedy has already said he is not given sufficient access to RCMP files to enable him to perform his job.

For the RCMP's lawyers to ask the BC Supreme Court to prevent a BC public inquiry from delivering on its purpose ... well that smells like shear flopsweat desperation.
But who is left who has the will to hold the renegade officers of this federal paramilitary organization to account?
Update : RCMP distances itself from officers' lawsuit over Dziekanski inquiry

Sgt. Tim Shields, the RCMP's official spokesman in B.C. :
"The position of the RCMP is that the RCMP will co-operate fully with the inquiry and is also recognizing the jurisdiction of the inquiry as having authority.
These lawyers are representing the four officers; they're not representing the RCMP."
While Shields acknowledged the lawyers are paid for by taxpayers, he said the force itself has no power to stop them from contradicting RCMP policy.

UPDATE : BC Supreme Court rules Taser inquiry can find Mounties at fault


Monday, June 08, 2009

The Cons : Six days in a leaky boat

Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt's communications director leaves a binder of documents marked "Secret" about the nuclear industry behind at CTV News following interview with Raitt. She resigns.

Same communications director leaves tape recorder behind in House of Commons washroom. Enclosed tape had been left on accidentally and is said to have recorded Raitt making disparaging comments about Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq.
Ex-communications director is in court right now to prevent the Halifax Chronicle Herald from publishing contents of tape. Official government position : "Nothing to do with us."

Four board members at the Toronto Port Authority reported that when Lisa Raitt was its CEO, lunch could cost nearly $1000 and management approved their own expenses.
ETA : Transport Minister John Baird responded by changing the TPA constitution to add two new board members the day after parliament was shut down so Steve wouldn't lose his job prorogued in December, putting the four complaining board members in a minority position. Olivia Chow alleges move was a cover-up to protect Lisa Raitt.

Steve gets busted by whistleblower who forwards docs to Le Devoir confirming the HarperCon strategy at the 2007 Climate Change Conference in Bali to surreptitiously undermine the Bali agreement on greenhouse gas reductions while publicly appearing to support it. Strategy consisted of sowing division among European nations - Boris nails it.

I have to go out for a little bit. If there are any further leaks while I'm gone, please leave me a message in comments.
4:30 Update : The Chronicle Herald -1, Lisa Raitt's ex-aide -0 :
On the now partially published tape which you can listen to at the above link, Raitt and MacDonnell discuss Raitt's political opportunities dealing with the isotope "crisis" :

"We had to control the agenda."

"It's sexy. Radioactive leaks. Cancer. Nuclear contamination"

Raitt :
"Because when we win on this, we get all the credit. I’m ready to roll the dice on this. This is an easy one. You know what solves this problem? Money. And if it’s just about money, we’ll figure it out. It’s not a moral issue."

Oh dear. Cancer and nuclear contamination as sexy career opportunities.
Plus there's a bonus Oh dear for Iggy :

"Ms. Raitt tells the man driving them around Victoria that Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff had backed down from defeating the Conservative government on a budget a few days earlier because he got a message from Canadian bankers.

"They did it at the Canadian Council of (Chief) Executives, there was three presidents of major banks who stood up in the room — and this is not from cabinet so I can talk about it — stood up and said, 'Ignatieff, don’t you even think about bringing us to an election,' " said Ms. Raitt.
"'We don’t need this. We have no interest in this. And we will never fund your party again.' That was very powerful. So he heard it from very powerful people in the industry. He was definitely muzzled."

Ooops. And here I thought the CCCE controlling the ConservaLiberals was supposed to be just a tinfoil hatful of bloggy conspiracy theories.
January. That would put it right about when Iggy snuffed the coalition of opposition parties.

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Cons new tough-on-window-dressing-crime bill

Bill C-15, an amendment to the Controlled Drugs [and Uncontrolled Growth of the Prison Industry] Act, guarantees, among other travesties, automatic jail time for people who grow and sell five marijuana plants.
Believe it or not, this is an improvement over what the Cons originally proposed - jail time for just one plant -until the Bloc and NDP managed to leverage it up to five plants in the Committee on Justice and Human Rights, where 13 0f the 16 expert witnesses called spoke against the new bill.

There's a lot of old US War on Drugs bullshit here, endorsed by the Libs and Cons just as the US begins to repudiate it.

From today's Hansard, HoC :

"California, New York, Michigan, Delaware, Massachusetts are all repealing their mandatory minimum sentences with other states considering the same.

Counsel to the United States House of Representatives committee on the judiciary, Eric Sterling, stated emphatically his decision to promote mandatory minimum sentences in the United States was probably "the greatest mistake of my entire career over 30 years in the practice of law".

What the Americans found was that the goal of the legislation to reduce drug use failed. The goal of safety in the communities failed. The goal of raising the prices of drugs and lowering the purity failed. The goal of reducing organized crime failed."

Yesterday in the HoC, Keith Martin, Lib, asked why we can't "decriminalize simple possession, for example, of marijuana and allow people to have a couple of plants"?

Indeed. People receiving sentences of two years less a day will wind up in the already overcrowded provincial prisons. What to do? What to do?

The Canadian Bar Association, as quoted in the HoC :

"We believe the Bill would not be effective, would be very costly, would add to strains on the administration of justice, could create unjust and disproportionate sentences and ultimately would not achieve its intended goal of greater public safety."
Libs will have to suck it up hard to vote for this one on Monday, as they party with the Cons like it's 1969. The NDP and Bloc will vote against it.

Scott has a round-up of the Liberal blogger revolt against it; Jennifer at Runesmith is organizing an email campaign. Go, you Liberal bloggers!

Dear Minister Lawrence Cannon :

I write in support of Abousfian Abdelrazik's constitutionally and internationally unchallengeable right to return to Canada.

I write also as a Canadian citizen whose conscience has been shocked by cascading revelations, in the courts and press of the U.S., the UK, and here at home, of the role played by Western governments, among them my own, in clear and extreme violations of international law, many of those violations rising to the level of war crimes.

Anyone with an internet account can discover in minutes that continuing American claims about Mr Abdelrazik rest on testimony from the Saudi Guantanamo detainee Abu Zubaydah, who was waterboarded 83 times in August 2002, whose torture before and since has been attested to by the ICRC and the FBI. The most credible FBI witnesses have also testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to their doubts about Abu Zubaydah's status with regard to al-Qaeda and about his mental capacity, even before he was tortured.

The UN Security Council's 1267 Committee have said that Mr Abdelrazik is free to fly home to Canada. We know that the only testimony against him is historically, tragically tainted.

I often wonder whether members of my own government or of the departments and agencies that act in the name of the sovereign citizens of Canada, all of us represented by our queen, and thus all of us more permanent than you, superior to you, have noticed the water rising about the ankles of American public servants, former and current, who seem to have grown up ignorant of the jurisprudence we inherited from Nuremberg 1945-46. Rationalizing war crimes itself becomes a crime, and I doubt that Canadians in time to come will judge anyone who committed such crimes in our name in kindly fashion.

Mr Abdelrazik has a paid airline reservation to return to Canada on 12 June, and an appointment with the Hon. Mr Justice Zinn on 7 July. I appeal to you to respect both Canadian and international law, and to end the bizarre melodrama of my government's inexplicably duplicitous dealings with another Canadian citizen.

Please just stand aside, and allow Mr Abdelrazik to fly home.

Yours sincerely,
Skdadl at POGGE
A superb letter, isn't it?

Send yours to :

Lawrence Cannon
Telephone: (613) 992-5516.. Fax: (613) 992-6802

because you can bet the Cons will mount some fetid embarrassing appeal of Justice Zinn's decision on the grounds that you don't give a shit what happens to other Canadian citizens.

First they came for some brown guy based on evidence obtained by waterboarding a schizophrenic half-wit 83 times, but I did not speak out because ...

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Federal Court orders Ottawa to bring Abdelrazik home

Federal Court Judge Russell Zinn found that Abdelrazik is "as much a victim of international terrorism as the innocent persons whose lives have been taken by recent barbaric acts of terrorists" and has ordered the government to facilitate Abdelrazik's return within 30 days.
He also found CSIS "complicit" in Abdelrazik's detention by Sudanese authorities six years ago.

Some quotes from Justice Zinn's decision in Federal Court June 4, 2009


"Mr. Abdelrazik lives in the Canadian Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, his country of citizenship by birth, fearing possible detention and torture should he leave this sanctuary, all the while wanting but being unable to return to Canada, his country of citizenship by choice. He lives by himself with strangers while his immediate family, his young children, are in Montreal.
He is as much a victim of international terrorism as the innocent persons whose lives have been taken by recent barbaric acts of terrorists.

I find that Mr. Abdelrazik’s Charter right to enter Canada has been breached by the respondents.

I find that Mr. Abdelrazik is entitled to an appropriate remedy which, in the unique circumstances of his situation, requires that the Canadian government take immediate action so that Mr. Abdelrazik is returned to Canada.
Furthermore, as a consequence of the facts found establishing the breach and the unique circumstances of Mr. Abdelrazik’s circumstances, the remedy requires that this Court retain jurisdiction to ensure that Mr. Abdelrazik is returned to Canada.

One cannot prove that fairies and goblins do not exist any more than Mr. Abdelrazik or any other person can prove that they are not an Al-Qaida associate. It is a fundamental principle of Canadian and international justice that the accused does not have the burden of proving his innocence, the accuser has the burden of proving guilt. In light of these shortcomings, it is disingenuous of the respondents to submit, as they did, that if he is wrongly listed the remedy is for Mr. Abdelrazik to apply to the 1267 [U.N.]Committee for de-listing and not to engage this Court. The 1267 Committee regime is, as I observed at the hearing, a situation for a listed person not unlike that of Josef K. in Kafka’s The Trial, who awakens one morning and, for reasons never revealed to him or the reader, is arrested and prosecuted for an unspecified crime..

Then following a review of correspondence between officials in DFAIT and consular officials in Khartoum :

I find, on the balance of probabilities, on the record before the Court, that CSIS was complicit in the initial detention of Mr. Abdelrazik by the Sudanese.
This finding is based on the record before the Court on this application. The role of CSIS may subsequently be shown to be otherwise if and when full and complete information is provided by that service as to its role.

CSIS has already denied this and asked for a review by SIRC, Security Intelligence Review Committee, the CSIS oversight body with which it has an alarmingly cosy relationship.

Justice Zinn also had a few choice words for DFAIT, with regards to this July 2004 DFAIT email in response to Abdelrazik's wife raising the possibility of chartering a private plane to return her husband to Montreal. Ms. Gaudet-Fee of Foreign Affairs :

"So, should she get a private plane, there is very little we could do to stop him from entering Canada. He would need an EP [i.e. Emergency Passport] and I guess this could be refused but on what ground.
So, stay tuned."
Justice Zinn :
I find the comment of the official of Foreign Affairs very troubling.
In my view, it is reasonable to conclude from the July 30, 2004 musings of the foreign Affairs official that Canadian authorities did not want Mr. Abdelrazik to return to Canada and they were prepared to examine avenues that would prevent his return, such as the denial of an emergency passport. That conclusion is further supported by the extraordinary circumstances in which the Minister made the decision on April 3, 2009 to refuse the applicant an emergency passport.

At no time however in the last five years did DFAIT admit to Abdelrazik that they had no intention of allowing him to return to Canada; in fact they repeatedly assured him that they would grant him an emergency passport.

The flight scheduled for April 3, 2009
[130] In March 2009, Mr. Abdelrazik managed to obtain and pay for a flight from Khartoum to Montreal with a stop over in Abu Dhabi. He had been repeatedly assured for years that an emergency passport would be provided in that eventuality. Notwithstanding the numerous assurances given by Canada over a period of almost 5 years, and repeated as recently as December 23, 2008, on April 3, 2009 just two hours before the flight was to leave, the Minister of Foreign Affairs [Lawrence Cannon] refused to issue that emergency passport on the basis that he was of the opinion, pursuant to Section 10.1 of the Canadian Passport Order, "that such action is necessary for the national security of Canada or another country."

I find that the only reason that Mr. Abdelrazik is not in Canada now is because of the actions of the Minister on April 3, 2009. ... the Minister waited until the very last minute before the flight was to depart to deny the emergency passport.

Had it been necessary to determine whether the breach was done in bad faith, I would have had no hesitation making that finding on the basis of the record before me.

[156] I have found that Canada has engaged in a course of conduct and specific acts that constitute a breach of Mr. Abdelrazik’s right to enter Canada. Specifically, I find:
(i) That CSIS was complicit in the detention of Mr. Abdelrazik by the Sudanese authorities in 2003;
(ii) That by mid 2004 Canadian authorities had determined that they would not take any active steps to assist Mr. Abdelrazik to return to Canada and, in spite of its numerous assurances to the contrary, would consider refusing him an emergency passport if that was required in order to ensure that he could not return to Canada;
(iii) That there is no impediment from the UN Resolution to Mr. Abdelrazik being repatriated to Canada – no permission of a foreign government is required to transit through its airspace – and the respondents’ assertion to the contrary is a part of the conduct engaged in to ensure that Mr. Abdelrazik could not return to Canada; and
(iv) That Canada’s denial of an emergency passport on April 3, 2009, after all of the preconditions for the issuance of an emergency passport previously set by Canada had been met, is a breach of his Charter right to enter Canada

[160] Accordingly, at a minimum, the respondents are to be ordered to provide Mr. Abdelrazik with an emergency passport that will permit him to travel to and enter Canada. There is any number of ways available to him to return to Canada. He once secured an airline ticket and may be able to do so again. In the Court’s view that would cure the breach and be the least intrusive on the role of the executive. If such travel is possible, and if funds or sufficient funds to pay for an air ticket are not available to the applicant from his April 3, 2009 unused ticket, then the respondents are to provide the airfare or additional airfare required because, but for the breach, he would not have to incur this expense.

In fulfilment of this judicial process, the applicant [Abdelrazik] is ordered to appear before me at 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon on Tuesday, July 7, 2009, at the Federal Court ...

“Russel W. Zinn”

Thank you, Justice Zinn.

From SPP to TILMA to "Buy North American"

Harper and Stockwell Day want the provinces to allow US corporations to be allowed to bid on contracts to supply local infrastructure to Canadian municipalities, schools and hospitals. It is their hope, they say, that this "gesture" will convince the US to repeal the "Buy American" provisions in U.S. stimulus legislation.

Not likely it will, of course, but it does provide Harper with yet another opportunity to make concessions to the US that they haven't even asked for.
Currently, because provinces and municipalities are not bound by international trade laws, if they want to give the work to local Canadian joes, they are free to do so. According to Steve and Doris, this is a bad thing. An example given in the G&M is : "Ontario buys only Ontario food for its prisons."

News media reports on this are all assbackwards so I've translated part of one from the G&M for you :

The Canadian government Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives are asking the provinces to join it in creating a new trade deal with the United States conceding even more sovereignty to the US.

Because the 1993 North American free-trade agreement does not include spending by local jurisdictions, contracts across North America involving everything from sewage systems to subway repairs are being awarded outside the framework of continental free trade to local joes.

Mr. Harper said, "Obviously, at a time when we're trying to keep borders open internationally consolidate the power of corporate oligarchy via deep integration, I do think that the proliferation of domestic preferences in subnational government procurement Canadian nationalism and the "Buy Local" movement is really problematic."

Trade Minister Stockwell Day has been canvassing the provinces on the idea of opening up local spending to free trade giving up their local authority, citing the consensus on EU free-trade talks.
The Europeans would not launch the talks until Canadian provinces committed to negotiating a deal that would allow their companies to bid for provincial and municipal contracts on an equal footing. Only Newfoundland refused stood up for Canada.

Day acknowledged the pending EU free trade talks would likely compel the provinces to commit to opening up their procurement sectors further corporate globalization.
"That's really opened the door to the discussion now that we're having with the provinces "Ha, ha, bet you didn't see that one coming," Mr. Day said yesterday.

See Monday's post for how easily we progressed from the SPP and TILMA to the new "Buy North American" proposal.
Friday Update : The G&M is cranking out two or three headlines of support a day now.
Here's one : "Premiers rally behind Harper in fight against Buy American"
Yeah, two premiers "offered encouragement". Big whoop.

Monday, June 01, 2009

‘You, Me, and the S.P.P: Trading Democracy for Corporate Rule’

You'll remember Paul Manly as the guy who shot that video of CEP union President Dave Coles exposing the 3 rock-toting Quebec police provocateurs at the Montebello SPP protest in Aug. 2007. Paul has finally finished his full-length feature film : ‘You, Me, and the S.P.P: Trading Democracy for Corporate Rule’, exposing "the latest manifestation of a corporatist agenda that is undermining the democratic authority of the citizens of North America".

Here are a few quotes from the trailer :

Naomi Klein :

"… after the shock of Sept 11 … that crisis was expertly manipulated by our political leaders to push through a range of policies they actually had wanted to push through before Sept 11, but didn’t have the political conditions that made that possible."

Gordon Laxer, Director, The Parkland Institute, Alberta :

"…if we go along with the Americans on their military, on their human rights, on their Patriot Act, on immigration and refugee policy, on energy, on all kinds of regulations over pesticides or whatever, then they will allow us access to their markets."

Murray Dobbin, Canadian author, journalist :

"… what the SPP really represents is a parallel government, so that the important decisions are either made outside of parliament and outside of legislatures or they make it impossible for those kinds of decisions to be made in those legislative bodies, so that democracy is slowly being gutted."

with more from Peter Julian, Michael Byers, and Maude Barlow.

And here's a portion of the film I posted this morning. To purchase your own copy of the whole film - $20 well spent - and for listings of local screenings, visit Paul's website at If we want this quality of reporting from independent journalists, we're going to have to support it. If you can't afford the $20 for your own copy, get your local library to buy a copy, leave him a message of encouragement, and pass on the word. As Paul says : I made this film for all of you.


Oct 2009 Update : Paul and his film are on a cross-country tour of 33 countries across Canada. You can see all the tour dates on the film website here Each confirmed screening date has a pdf poster, handbill and press release that can be downloaded and used to promote the screening. Please help out where you can. All of the screenings are either free or by donation.


From the SPP to TILMA to the bid to kill 'Buy US'

The above clip from Paul Manly's excellent new documentary, "You, Me and the SPP : Trading Democracy for Corporate Rule", uses interviews with Maude Barlow, Peter Julian, Erin Weir, Michael Byers, Gordon Laxer, Dave Cole and others to explain how the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement - TILMA - signed by Premiers Gordon Campbell and Ralph Klein, is really just a confidence trick - an investors' rights agreement that guts the ability of locally elected governments to enact public policy for the environment, consumer protection, health care, education, and other social services.

In it Murray Dobbin explains :

"The way to look at TILMA is as part and parcel of the Security and Prosperity Partnership. One major aspect of the SPP is massive deregulation and the way they put it of course is "harmonizing regulations" between the three SPP countries of Mexico, Canada, and the US. But one of the problems for Canada is that most of the regulations in this country are actually provincial and municipal, so the federal government can't actually deliver. When it sits down at the negotiating table with the US and they say "we want harmonization", Canada says well actually we're having a problem with that because we don't control most of the regulations."

When NAFTA was negotiated, the Canadian provinces refused to open their procurement markets to U. S. bidders.

NaPo :

"Canada's federal procurement market, excluding defence, is valued at up to $5-billion a year, and is covered under international free trade rules that prohibit discrimination against foreign firms. In contrast, the provincial sector, which includes municipalities, universities and hospitals, is far more lucrative at roughly $22-billion annually, and is not covered under World Trade Organization measures."

Murray, again : "So TILMA fills in that gap. TILMA is an essential component of the SPP. You can't complete the SPP without TILMA being signed on by every province."

Until now. Enter the economic crisis :


Ottawa urges officials to open markets to U. S :

"The federal government is looking to cut a deal with Washington that would persuade U. S. legislators to repeal controversial Buy American measures that Canadian firms say are costing them sales ...
The key element of such a pact, however, is getting the provinces and territories to open up their procurement markets to U. S. suppliers. At present, provinces and municipalities are not bound by global trade law and are free to discriminate against U. S. companies in favour of local suppliers.

International Trade Minister Stockwell Day has been in talks with the provinces to determine their willingness.

Trade lawyer Lawrence Herman : "If we are going to do anything to try to resolve the Buy American issue, it is going to take the provinces to sign on to a deal to open up their markets."

Melisa Leclerc, a spokeswoman for Mr. Day, said in an e-mail the Minister would "solicit feedback" on procurement from provincial trade officials when they gather to meet in Yellowknife on Monday."

Well we know Gordo will be onboard, happy for any 'crisis' to deliver the deregulation a country-wide push for TILMA is just taking far too long to achieve. Who else? We should be getting our first bout of pro-deep integration spin on this from the pro-Corp media by later today.

Update : And here it comes, right on cue :

NaPo Editorial Board : "Stockwell Day, the International Trade Minister, is attempting to convince the provinces to lower procurement barriers to enable U.S. suppliers to bid on equal standing with Canadian competitors. Ottawa hopes that eliminating some of Canada’s own barriers will act as a show of good faith to the Americans, encouraging them to follow suit.

CP : " The Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, say the solution is an open market in government procurement, particularly at the municipal and provincial-state levels currently not covered by the North American Free Trade Agreement".

Yes, let's roll over and see if that makes 'em treat us better.

Wednesday Update : Harper and Stockwell Day each try to promote this idea without sounding like utter quislings.


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