Monday, November 29, 2010

A new low for Canada in Afghanistan

CBC : "The Canadian Forces have for years arrested children suspected of working with the Taliban and handed them over to [the NDS] an Afghan security unit accused of torture.

The document, obtained under an Access to Information request and marked "secret," shows that Defence Minister Peter MacKay was briefed on the topic of juvenile detainees in Afghanistan March 30."

UN General Assembly Security Council, Children and Armed Conflict, April 10, 2010 :

"Approximately 110 children have been detained by the Afghan National Directorate of Security and international military forces on charges related to national security, including their alleged involvement or association with the Taliban or other armed groups. Access to detention facilities continues to be difficult and information on children detained by pro-Government forces remains limited.

The use of harsh interrogation techniques and forced confession of guilt by the Afghan Police and NDS was documented, including the use of electric shocks and beating. ... Available information points to sexual violence as a widespread phenomenon."

Electric shocks, beating, forced confessions, sexual violence.

You can see how the Con/Lib/Bloc Afghan detainee panel - all sworn to secrecy and finally convened in July seven months after it was ordered in the House and charged with going through all those binders on detainees that Laurie Hawn is leaning on - is going to take a really really long time to get around to releasing any hint of this, if ever.

At which point, MacKay will probably issue one of his 'there was a problem but we already fixed it' missives and point out that Afghanistan is a sovereign country whose torture facilities are solely responsible for the treatment of the children we hand over to them. Especially as we now apparently actively solicit Canadian industry support for the CIA-backed NDS.

In the Afghan Committee on Oct 20, 2010, Parliamentary Secretary for National Defence Laurie Hawn remarked the NDS is "probably one of the better institutions in Afghanistan" and asked the Afghan ambassador if there was anything Canadian private industry could do to help them out.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Stop the presses : Unreported crime up 3% over 5 years

Whenever he's faced with StatsCan reports showing a decrease in the crime rate, including the violent crime rate over the last decade, Public Safety Minister Vic lock-'em-up Toews always attempts to refute the evidence by claiming that the unreported crime rate is going up.
And that is presumably why we have to build more prisons to house all the unreported criminals.
I know, I know, but just bear with me for a moment.

On Steve Paikin's The Agenda this week, Toews stated :

"Quite frankly Canadians don't care what the crime rate is"

and went on to produce stats on his unreported crime meme :

"From 2004 to 2009, instead of 34% of crimes being reported to police, only 31% were. So what we are seeing is a gradual decline in confidence in the justice system."
Holy crap! A 3% increase in unreported crime over 5 years.

Toews also explains that "an apples to apples comparison of Canadian victimization surveys with American victimization surveys is the proper standard to use" and recommends everyone read the Vancouver Board of Trade Victimization Survey, which he says shows an increase in unreported crime.

Did that already actually, Vic, and blogged about it back in 2007. While applauding the addition of spousal violence to the survey, I'm not convinced we need more prison spaces to deal with other survey questions such as whether the questionnaire respondent has received unwanted emails or had a window or fence broken.

To Toews' claims of public safety being the Cons first priority, Paikin asks why then did the Cons scuttle their own crime bills by proroguing parliament?
Toews :

"Essentially as a result of prorogation we were able to reconstitute the committees in the Senate which would allow us to get the criminal bills through.

We're right on track with our agenda and now we don't have to worry about the unelected Senate impeding the will of the House of Commons."

[cough]Climate bill[cough]

Indeed, yesterday the Senate voted to make possession of 6 pot plants subject to a mandatory prison sentence.

But guess what, Vic, unreported crime (click the video viewer on the right at the link) is indeed getting a massive increased airing this week.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Con leakage

Impolitical mops up the latest embarrassing Con leakage -Con MP Kelly Block's staffer Russell Ullyatt who was fired for leaking drafts of confidential Finance Committee reports to at least four Con-connected industry lobbyists.
"I heart you," one of them wrote back to Ullyatt on receipt of his "Thought you'd like to see this in its infancy" covering note.

So whenever CBC's Power and Politics is done wrapping up its important coverage of the opinions of the Bonhomme mascot, here are a few other connections the CBC might consider following. After all, Ullyatt may well have only taken up leaking confidential docs to industry lobbyists for the very first time this week but given he's been swimming in the Con pool for some years now, it wouldn't hurt to ask, would it?

Prior to being hired by Brock, leaker Russell Ullyatt was employed as Senior Special Assistant to Secretary of State Helena Guergis (Foreign Affairs and International Trade).
In 2008 Ullyatt was campaign manager for Con MP Rob Clarke, the former RCMP sergeant who made the news when a "uniformed RCMP officer was spotted delivering campaign signs out of an RCMP truck".

The leaked docs recipients

Lynne Hamilton, former Mike Harris alumnus now a VP at GCI Group, and author of the "I heart you" note.
The GCI Group Leadership Team page lists Ken Boessenkool, former Senior Policy Advisor to Stephen Harper, as Senior Counsel. Hamilton's bio :
7 years at Hill & Knowlton plus previous government posts :
Chief of Staff to the Ontario Associate Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
Ontario Ministry of Northern Development
Environment Ministry media coordinator in 2000 for the Walkerton water tragedy
Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism -"handled the corporate
restructuring of over 40 companies for the Government"
Ontario Premier’s office co-ordinating the daily issue binder for question period.

Tim Egan, CEO at the Canadian Gas Association.
Founding director of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project aka Not Really Science People - the Tim Ball and Tom Harris climate change skeptics group. Former President of the High Park Group, a Toronto-based lobby organization of which Tom Harris is the former head of its Ottawa office.

Clarke Cross, senior consultant with Tactix Group and former Legislative Assistant to Con/Alliance MPs James Lunney and Leon Benoit

Andy Gibbons of Hill and Knowlton , also formerly a legislative assistant to Con MP Leon Benoit.

Con cabinet ministers and the former political insiders who are now paid to lobby them - you can see how Russell Ullyatt might easily have got the two email lists confused. If only there was some sort of rule to keep the two separate.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pentagon freaking out ahead of the next WikiLeaks doc dump

and warns the documents may contain accounts of "compromising conversations" that could "cause serious embarrassment for foreign governments and politicians named in them" and result in "the expulsion of U.S. diplomats from foreign postings".

Because a previous Wikileaks-released conversation from a US Apache helicopter concerning civilians and Reuters employees ambling down a street in Baghdad that went :

"Light 'em all up. C'mon, fire! Keep shoot'n, Keep shoot'n. Keep shoot'n."

was not considered to be sufficiently offputting all by itself I guess.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"You think I know f*ck nothing? I know f*ck all!"

Yesterday in the House, Con MP Phil McColeman accused his fellow member on the Public Safety committee, Lib MP Mark Holland, of advocating "on behalf of convicted criminals".

Holland immediately protested the remark, calling it "below the level that should be expected in the House."

Unrepentant, McColeman rose to respond :
"Mr. Speaker, since being elected to the House some two years ago and a bit, I will take no lessons from the member for Ajax-Pickering when it comes to presenting issues to Parliament that are not based on any factual evidence. I will take no lessons from that member."

Okie dokie then.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Justice for Stacy Bonds

is looking less likely by the day.

Unlawfully arrested, forcibly strip-searched in front of male officers while being held down with a riot shield, her shirt and bra cut off with scissors by a male officer, a hand put down her pants, left in a cell for over three hours in the pants she soiled in fear.

After reviewing the police tapes and emphasizing that Ms Bonds was "clearly cooperating", Justice Richard Lajoie threw out the prosecutor's case in disgust, noting in his Reasons for Judgement on Oct. 27 :
"The officers have tried to justify their actions on the principles of safety, officer safety and the accused's safety, as well as risk of suicide."
Risk of suicide. What a disgusting excuse for an assault.

Here's their boss, Ottawa Police Chief Vern White, speaking to CBC about the case on Nov 17 :

"Like other Ontario police chiefs, White said, he would like more power to discipline officers.
"I do not feel our discipline process today carries the full weight of accountability the public expects," White said. "Most of the chiefs have identified to the province that we need to have some changes in the Police Services Act."

White said the current act makes it difficult to suspend or dismiss police officers, and even those dismissed may remain on the payroll if they choose to appeal."

But as noted by Dr. Dawg, Chief White's investigation is now history, taken over by the Ontario Special Investigations Unit. The SIU mandate as per their website :
"The SIU is a civilian law enforcement agency, independent of the police, that investigates circumstances involving police and civilians which have resulted in serious injury, including sexual assault, or death."
Serious injury, sexual assault, death.
The bar for proving sexual assault is already appallingly high and what with the officers saying they were only attempting to prevent Bonds from committing suicide ...
Case closed.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Keith Martin on the democratic deficit

Retiring from politics after 17 years, MP Dr. Keith Martin, (Reform, Alliance, Ind, Lib), spoke on CBC's The Current yesterday about the "serious, serious lack of democracy in Parliament ... the tragedy of the commons".

Martin began as a Reform MP in '93, attracted by the Reform Party Contract which listed MP's duties in the following order : first your conscience, then your constituents, and lastly your party and leader.

So what went wrong with that?
Harper beat out the more populist Preston Manning.

"Mr. Harper is a follower of a political philosopher in the US called Leo Strauss, and essentially Mr. Harper's philosophy is that a small number of people would rule and tell everybody else what to do and that is the best form of government.

"The larger problem is that within leaders' offices, prime minister's offices, the people around them are unelected, generally very young and tend to be extremely partisan. They're hired by leaders to do the job and they have much more power than members of parliament do. They control much of what goes on on a day-to-day basis with respect to the tactics and strategy. But these are very young people - they are not terribly experienced in the real world - they may be smart in certain ways, but they haven't knocked on doors, they haven't run for political office, they are not as connected to the citizens on the ground as those who have gone through the election process.

So the people calling the shots, the rabid partisanship, tends to revolve around leaders' offices and they basically tell the MPs what to do. And that's a complete perversion of democracy."

Martin says the vast majority of his colleagues and friends from across party lines regret the change to the damaging rabid hyper partisanship imported from the US which silences innovation, debate, and bipartisan co-operation while rewarding juvenile mudslinging with career advances.

While the Korys and the Dimitris call the shots, and are protected from appearing before parliamentary committees to account for their actions, elected MPs' chances of career advancement increasingly depend merely upon their ability to fling poo.

And in this way Harper, never much of a democracy fan, has sidelined parliament from dealing with any of the real issues facing Canada, opting instead for inventing mock problems that can only be solved by further attacks on democracy.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ottawa Police vs Stacy Bonds

For over two years the Ottawa Police have had in their possession police video showing the unlawful arrest, assault, detention and brutalizing of Stacy Bonds by Ottawa police officers - including having her bra and shirt cut off with the assistance of "at least three male officers" and being left half-naked in a cell for three hours in the pants she soiled in fear - and only now that the case has gone public is Ottawa police Chief Vern White getting around to promising what he has the gall to refer to as "a swift internal investigation" ?

Stacy Bonds, 27, 100 pounds, and with no prior record, was arrested merely for asking why she was being questioned by police.

Presiding Justice Richard Lajoie describes the subsequent police station videotape.
Bonds is "clearly cooperating", "compliant", "with no hint of violence and no hint of being aggressive", yet he says the cameras show Bonds received "two extremely violent knee hits in the back", "is taken to the ground" with a riot shield, "someone has a hand inside Ms. Bonds' pants", and Sergeant Steven Desjourdy cuts off Bonds' shirt and bra, at which point she is strip searched by Constable Melanie Morris in the presence of "at least three male officers" before being thrown half naked into a cell.

And you thought if you were all compliant and cooperative nothing like this would ever happen to you.

Lajoie described Bonds arrest as "unlawful", "appalling", "a travesty" with "no reason apart from vengence and malice", and "an extremely serious breach of Ms. Bonds rights".

Smells like G20, doesn't it?

Ottawa Citizen :
"It’s not the first time Desjourdy has been under investigation. Days before this 2008 case, he kicked and Tasered a female prisoner in the cell block twice. In 2009, he pleaded guilty under the Police Act and was demoted for three months from sergeant to constable."

Which gives us some idea of what the outcome of Ottawa Police Chief Vern White's "swift internal investigation" will look like.

Dawg is offering to help Stacy Bonds finance a lawsuit. Go.
Nov 25 Update : The Citizen has published the police video of Stacy Bonds jailhouse abuse.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sisters in Spirit update - NWAC not consulted

Last week APTN News reported that not only does the Cons new missing persons initiative entirely bypass Sisters In Spirit, the very group which initiated research into the nearly 600 missing and murdered FN women and girls in the first place, but SIS can no longer use the SIS name or continue their research when applying for grants.

Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose invoked support from the Sisters' parent organization, Native Women's Association of Canada, to blow off criticism in the House :
"Most important, we are working with and have the support of NWAC "
"In fact, we have been working with NWAC for the last couple of years in order to implement these concrete actions."

Native Women’s Association of Canada president Jeannette Corbiere Lavell said she was only informed by the government the day before Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose stood in the Vancouver police department to say her government was following through on their $10 million commitment.

Lavell said the Conservative government did not consult with NWAC staff or those involved with the organization’s groundbreaking Sisters in Spirit project in the lead-up to the announcement.

"NWAC was originally led to believe that it would be invited to join in a discussion with the Department of Justice…about the allocation of the $10 million ," said Corbiere Lavell. "This did not occur."

Lavell further notes that the new initiative "reinvents" the work already done by SIS [at a new RCMP centre that will use up half the money], folds their research on murdered FN women into a general pot of violence against all Canadians, and excludes provinces east of Manitoba from access to funding.

She also confirmed Status of Women's embargo on the SIS name and continued research.

So why did Lavell stand with Ambrose on that podium in Vancouver last week and imply NWAC's endorsement?

Because, explains Lavell, they need the money and Aboriginal women have been waiting for it. They have to comply with the new SIS-squashing rules so they can access funds to continue related work.

Nice. Someone better call Ambrose on her bullshit in the House next week.
As Cathie from Canada put it : "Trying to make it disappear just like all those women have disappeared."
And as for Canada's conditional endorsement of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples this week : See Pam Palmater at Non-Status Indians.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Quagmire update

CBS, Nov 10, 2010, :

"The U.S. military has destroyed hundreds of Afghan civilian homes, farm houses, walls, trees and plowed through fields and buildings using explosives and bulldozers in war-torn Zhari district, a practice that has begun to anger Afghan villagers.

The much anticipated third phase of the Kandahar campaign, called Operation Dragon Strike ...

"You bulldozed some of my trees, they're blocking the canal, now we can’t get water to the orchard," Haji Jilal, a frail, weathered Afghan farmer with a white beard said.

In an effort to clear paths heavily mined by the Taliban, soldiers employed a weapon called a MICLIC, an acronym for Mine Clearing Line Charge. In one thunderous, ground-shaking boom, the weapon clears a path 300 feet long and wide enough for a tank. Breland said his company commander, Cpt. Mike Gold, had used 16 MICLICs in one day. "When Cpt. Gold clears a road he clears a road," he said. "It's clear."

Gold said that in order to clear a safe path for the troops, there was no choice but to destroy Afghan property."

Nearly four years earlier and a few miles to the southwest, the nearly identical tale :

NYTimes, Jan. 13, 2007
"The road that cuts through the heart of Panjwai district here tells all that is going wrong with NATO's war in Afghanistan.
To fight their way into this area and clear it of Taliban insurgents, NATO troops bulldozed through orchards, smashed down walls and even houses, and churned vineyards and melon fields to dust.
Now NATO countries are championing the thoroughfare as a $5 million gift to local people.
“They bombed our orchards and fields and we have nothing now,” said Hajji Abdul Wahab Kutaisi, 65, a farmer from Pashmul. “They made a road through my land.”
Meanwhile Steve chose Remembrance Day to announce from Korea on what we've all been saying for years now : We're staying in Afghanistan till 2014 - in a "training capacity".

NDP Paul Dewar immediately said it would require a vote in parliament but the Libs said they didn't agree.
"That’s a discussion that needs to be had with all the parties after the government tells us exactly what it’s doing. But in principle, I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary,” said Bob Rae, Liberal foreign affairs critic."
Of course not. Because there was never any doubt of it, was there, Bob?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

G20 : Breach of the Peace

In his testimony to the Public Safety Committee on Nov 3 about G20 police abuses, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair claimed that detained members of the public complained of sexual assault and being threatened with sexual violence by police but then withdrew those complaints when they learned the extent of police video surveillance in the detention centres. Here's Blair at the 16:25 mark :
"One of the allegations made to the public and the media was allegations of sexual assault. When it became more public knowledge that there were video cameras there, those allegations were withdrawn."
Guess not, Chief Blair, because here they are again at the Breach of the Peace public hearings co-hosted by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the National Union of Public and General Employees. The two days of proceedings are tweeted live at Rabble and they resume tomorrow for one more day in Montreal. Likely this is the closest we will get to a public inquiry.

Many people automatically discount allegations of sexual threats from the police. I don't.
Here's my own wee story, insignificant though it is beside those of the G20 detainees.

Many years ago when I was a young teen growing up in West Vancouver I was crossing Marine Drive on a crosswalk one afternoon when out of a group of people crossing towards me an old man began to stumble and fall. I managed to catch him on his way down; he thanked me, righted himself, seemed ok, and off we went in our opposite directions. A block later a West Van Police car with two officers in it pulls up and motions me over. The officer on the passenger side begins to question me about the old guy. I think they are concerned about him. Then they ask me if I just bought drugs from him. I don't know the guy, I answer, and I don't do drugs. They are obviously not convinced. I ask them if they would like to search my bag. (I know, I know, but I was just a kid.)
"Maybe you keep your drugs in your underpants," says the passenger side cop. "Do you keep your drugs in your underpants?" I ran.

Embarrassed that anyone would talk to me in such a manner, I was too ashamed to tell anyone, let alone my parents. Much later I wished I had the wit and courage at the time to think beyond myself, as that kind of sexual bullying may well have been a regular feature of his day in the neighbourhood.

Anyway I got over it and stopped being on alert for police cars, and hopefully so will the young men and women who are making much more serious complaints of sexual threats and abuse at the G20. But it changes how you think of the police and that is not a good thing for law enforcement in this country.

Blair should welcome the opportunity to air these charges in a public inquiry. Sadly he does not and so they fester on unanswered, consigning suspicion to an entire police force - their alleged bad apples and their bubble of unaccountability undermining both the force and the public goodwill on which they depend.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

I think I see a pattern here

Defense Ministry, Nov 6 : Afghan soldier mistakenly kills two US troops

McClatchy, Nov 6 : Afghan soldier turns weapon on American troops, kills 2

"And just last week, a squad of Afghanistan's national police in Ghazni province, southwest of Kabul, were reported to have crossed sides to the Taliban."
LA Times, Nov 7 : Afghan soldier killed at least 2 U.S. troops, Taliban claims

"A Taliban spokesman says a defecting Afghan soldier killed three U.S. troops in a military installation. In August, two Spanish paramilitary police officers and their interpreter were shot and killed by an Afghan at a police training center."
The Star, Nov 6 : Troops may stay in Afghanistan as ‘trainers'

"Canadian troops could remain “behind the wire” in Afghanistan involved in training local troops after their combat mission ends next summer." Till 2014.

Sure, Steve, train 'em up. Asshole.

Monday, November 08, 2010

About that "rise in anti-Semitism", Steve

From the US Anti-Defamation League, the "world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism":


The Anti-Semitic Plot thickens

Live-blogging from the Ottawa Conference on Combating Antisemitism today, the intrepid Kady does her level best to find out what The Plot - a secret exhibit from the US Anti-Defamation League that is off-limits to media - is all about.

I don't know either but I'll lay you odds that it doesn't include this B'nai Brith Canada poster - with its pictures of Nazis and allusions to "World Domination" - which graced the entire back page of the Natty Post exactly one year ago today.

Steve weighed in on the ever-expanding definition of the "new anti-Semitism" in his remarks to the opening of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism conference in Ottawa today :

"Harnessing disparate anti-American, anti-Semitic and anti-Western ideologies, it targets the Jewish people by targetting the Jewish homeland, Israel, as the source of injustice and conflict in the world and uses, perversely, the language of human rights to do so,” the Prime Minister said. “We must be relentless in exposing this new anti-Semitism for what it is."

Steve then went on to complain about the "bruises" he's taken for his courageous defence of what is actually only the most right wing of Israeli politics and their rapture-ready fans here in North America.

Boris takes a good look at those 'bruises'.


Saturday, November 06, 2010

Meanwhile in Halifax pre-emptive bombing of Iran is on the table

And not just their nuclear site, but pre-emptive bombing of their navy, their air force, their army.

Political leaders and security and defence officials and generals are in Halifax from November 5 to 7 for the second Halifax International Security Forum, presented by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and hosted by Airshow MacKay. Airshow is credited by GMFUS with having the idea for these annual security conferences.

Attending : Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security; Condoleezza Rice; Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Mark Udall ; Stephen Hadley; Ehud Barak, Minister of Defense, Israel; Amos Gilad, Political-Military Affairs, Israeli Ministry of Defense; Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute; Ron Covais, Lockheed Martin; John Manley, CEO Canadian Council of Chief Executives; ; Janice Gross Stein, Munk School of Global Affairs; Walter Natynczyk, Chief of Defence Staff; Mark Carney, Governor Bank of Canada; Vic Toews.

I just watched a panel today with US Senators Mark Udall and Lindsey Graham, and Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute - introduced by John McCain and moderated by the CBC's Susan Bonner.

Here's Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who sits on the Budget, Armed Forces, and Homeland Security committees, supporting pre-emptive bombing of Iran [at half-hour mark]:
"Republicans are looking for a way to support Obama on Iraq and Iran.
My big fear about the Iranians developing a nuclear weapon is not so much they'll put it on top of a missile and send it to Israel, is that those materials can work their way into the hands of people who would use them in a variety of fashion. The one thing that changes the world as I know it is Iran with a nuclear weapon. The consequences are enormous, the idea of containment to me is off the table, so that takes us back to the idea of being tough.

And if you use military force, if sanctions are not gonna work - and a year from now it's pretty clear they're not gonna work, [inaudible] what our friends in Israel are gonna do - so I would like the President to make it abundantly clear : all options are on the table. And we all know what that means. My advice to the President : If you take military action against Iran as the last effort to stop their nuclear ambitions, you do open up Pandora's box but if you let them acquire nuclear weapons, you empty Pandora's box.

So my view of military force would be not to just neutralize their nuclear program, which would probably disperse and harden, but to sink their navy, destroy their air force, and deliver a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard.
In other words, neuter that regime, destroy their ability to fight back, and hope the people within Iran would have the chance to take back their government and be good neighbours to the world in the future. So that's what I mean by being tough."

Democratic Senator Udall did not disagree, hopes sanctions will yet work, but says: "This may be Agenda Item #1 for every person in this room."


Sisters in Spirit shut down

It was only last week that Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose praised Sisters in Spirit when she announced details of a $10 million national strategy to address "the disturbing issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women" :
"The journey truly began with an initiative called Sisters in Spirit that was led by the Native Women’s Association of Canada. The association has undertaken an incredible amount of research... they have brought to light the shocking extent of these horrendous acts of violence."
Yet Rona's Status of Women government webpage announcing the new strategy makes no mention of Sisters in Spirit at all and now the APTN News reports that Sisters have been excluded from receiving any of that $10M.
Instead they must apply to Status of Women for less money under new rules which will prohibit them from continuing to use the name Sisters in Spirit, or maintaining and extending their research database of nearly 600 missing aboriginal women, or lobbying government.
Con MP Shelly Glover, Parliamentary Secretary for Indian and Northern Affairs :
"That project was finished. Don’t mix apples and oranges. That project was finished, now we’re working with them to pursue other projects."
Other projects? Bullshit.
Sisters in Spirit is their database and their advocacy work and their vigils. That's who they are.
So where's that $10M going? A good chunk to the RCMP.
Get more details in a very good 2 minute news vid from APTN. Go.
Then write an effing letter :
Rona Ambrose : Phone : (613) 996-9778
Shelly Glover : Phone : (613) 995-0579
SWC NDP Irene Mathyssen : Phone : (519) 685-4745
SWC Lib Anita Neville : Phone : (204) 983-1355
SWC Bloc Nicole Demers : Phone : (450) 686-2562

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Inside the Public Safety Committee : G20 preventative arrests

At the Public Safety Committee yesterday, Toronto Chief Bill Blair lobbed the following statement about "preventive detention" into the proceedings [just before the 4 minute mark]:

"I think you are all familiar with images of members of that group who were smashing windows, burning cars, looting stores, and generally causing a great deal of mayhem through vandalism and violence in the city of Toronto. We began to take the steps necessary to contain that threat and over the course of that weekend, the criminal conspiracy to commit criminal acts did not end on Saturday afternoon and it did not end when they left Yonge St. It continued. We were gathering intelligence and information from within the crowd and we had other sources of information that made it very clear to us that the criminal intent of the people involved in those criminal acts continued throughout the weekend. Our ability to continue to police lawful peaceful protest was quite frankly compromised by the actions of those who instead undertook the actions of a mob and engaged in criminal acts, and it was necessary, and decisions were made by our operational commanders and by our major [inaudible] commanders that it was necessary to disperse those crowds, and if the crowds refused to disperse, in order to prevent a breach of the peace, to take persons into preventive detention and that did take place over the course of the weekend."
Testimony on one such preventative detention was given by biochemistry student Kevin Gagnon, arrested with around 70 others at gunpoint off the floor of the U0fT gymnasium floor at 4am and held for over 60 hours before being released without charge on the stipulation he leave Toronto within 24 hours.

Don Davies, NDP : "70 out of 70 people had their charges dropped. ....Who made the decision to burst into that gymnasium and arrest 70 sleeping students?"

Blair : "The investigators who were investigating that case and I must tell you it's a very complicated case involving a great deal of evidence which I'm not going to be able to disclose and discuss with you here today."

Davies : "Can we have the names of the investigators who made that decision?"
Blair : "I don't have them here with me today."
Davies : "Could you undertake to provide that to the committee?
Blair : Yes.

Side note : Davies asked about police officers covering up or removing their name badges and Blair responded that it was against his rules so the "approximately 90 officers" who were identified as going badgeless will probably face disciplinary action in the form of loss of one day's pay.

Ok, back to 'preventive detention'.

Roger Gaudet, Bloc : "I saw the pictures. How come you didn't arrest these people who were masked? You entered into a university gym and you arrested people who were sleeping at 4am. This wasn't Halloween; this was June and yet they were masked. How come you didn't arrest them? They were all together - it would have been easy to surround them and then you'd be finished for the whole weekend. Instead you let them be and you arrested poor students in the university in a gym. Show me the logic in that."

Blair : "This was a crowd of several thousand and for the police to penetrate that crowd in an effort to apprehend those individuals ...First of all they had not yet begun to riot tumultuously as they did the following day and so unfortunately there needs to be ..."
Gaudet : "But those people were masked. This wasn't a masquerade. You know what you had to do. You should have arrested them right away but no, the police went into a school the next morning in a university. This is a farce."
Blair : The decision was made not to try to penetrate this crowd because it would have created a more dangerous situation, and in fact an operational decision was made by investigators that a safer place to apprehend people who they believed were involved in criminal activity was in the school gymnasium away from this crowd. That that was a safer thing to do. Our responsibility is to maintain the rule of law and protect the public but also to do our job in such a way which does not compromise public safety and a decision was made not to try to penetrate this crowd to remove this group but to rather do it in a more safe environment, which is why the arrests were made in a school gymnasium in the very early hours of the morning as opposed to out on the street where a riot might have ensued."

Insert joke here about the drunk looking for his car keys under the streetlight because there's more light there.

Maria Mourani, Bloc : "You stated that you made a choice to conduct the arrests in the gymnasium so you're starting from the premise ... they presumed that there were Black Blocs in the gymnasium?"

Blair : "The police had reason to believe that the people they were arresting were involved in criminal activity and there was a number of different investigations .. evidence had been gathered ..."

Mourani : "You had evidence. You say you had evidence. So why is it that the people in the gymnasium all had their charges dropped? Maybe one or two still have charges outstanding because they refuse to plead guilty..."

Blair : I don't have the details ... I can only offer you my understanding of the explanation I have received as to why those charges were dropped and it was because the police did not have the appropriate warrant for the apprehension of those individuals. But that does not negate the fact that they had evidence to make an arrest."

Mourani : "What you're saying is that they had no warrant to have some one hundred people arrested in a gymnasium ... they ended up in a detention centre where their individual rights were violated... there was no warrant for that arrest that was conducted in that gymnasium? That's what I understood just now."
Blair : "The circumstances of that arrest required what is known as a Feeney warrant and the police did not have the appropriate warrant to make those arrests. The Crown also..."

Mourani : "No warrant and they proceeded with those arrests. This is fantastic."
Blair : "The Crown also commented that the officers had reasonable and probable grounds to make that arrest but it was a technical problem with the way in which the arrest was done and that is why the charges were dropped. That's my understanding."
Here's my understanding.
If police knowingly arrest people illegally with the wrong warrant, they are safely assured that those arrests will never make it to court where gross violations of civil liberties like "preventive detention" can be aired and challenged.

And let's not forget the Canadian grand-daddy of legalizing preventive detention, the Combating Terrorism Act, has already passed second reading in the House and is well on the road to never being challenged by this committee.

Public Safety Committee Liberal MPs Andrew Kania and Mark Holland, as already noted by Kady and blogged by Boris, completely avoided any questioning of Blair yesterday as to violations of civil liberties. Not word one. Kady :

"This, by the way, is what happens when the Liberals are terrified to be targeted by Conservative Party InfoAlerteBots accusing them of being insufficiently supportive of police: not a single question about civil liberties or the treatment of the summit detainees, but long, meandering lines of questioning on logistical decisions and, if they can manage it, fake lakes.".
Yeah, well the Libs voted for the Combating Terrorism Act last month too.

Update : Also see Pogge : Preventative detention.
Update #2 : Chief Blair explained more about preventative detention towards the end of the meeting when Kania asked why so many arrests at G20, none at G8:
"People were apprehended and detained under that [breach of the peace] legislation [of the criminal code] without intention of bringing them up on criminal charges because there is no charge under breach of the peace. It is simply a preventative detention to maintain the public peace."

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Bill C-300 : AWOL Libs were lobbied by mining industry

A week ago the Liberal Bill C-300, An Act respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil or Gas in Developing Countries, went down to defeat 140 to 134 because 13 Liberals including Ignatieff, 4 Bloc, and 4 NDP skipped the vote.

According to Embassy Mag today, for the month prior to the vote, opposition MPs were lobbied by consultants hired by Barrick Gold, IAMGold, Vale Canada, the Mining Association of Canada, and the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada.

Barrick hired former Liberal cabinet minister Don Boudria, now a lobbyist with Hill and Knowlton, to target 15 Libs "multiple times" for two weeks - 13 of whom did not show up for the final vote.

The Liberal sponsor of the bill, John McKay, says he does not think that there will be "another attempt at a bill looking at corporate social responsibility for the mining sector until after another election."

You're shocked, I'm sure.

Corky Evans on Social Democracy

h/t Damien Gillis

"If it's not embarrassing, you're doing it wrong."


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Teaboarding the American electorate

The tea partiers are only the end users, writes Zach Carter.

Koch Industries - annual revenue of $100 billion - have spent millions through their tea party 'grass roots' front groups, FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, providing :

"logistical organizing for Glenn Beck’s 9/12 rally, held over 300 rallies against health care reform and hosted “voter education” workshops pushing the glories of deregulation."
And then there's the media connection :

"They even have an unofficial partnership with Fox News, hosting conservative Fox personalities at their rallies, which are, in turn, promoted by Fox programming. Glenn Beck is even featured in advertisements and fundraising pitches for FreedomWorks."
Linda McQuaig :
"Meanwhile, living in splendour befitting kings, the Koch brothers quietly supervise an incoherently angry army that promises to gut what’s left of benefits for the poor while adding to the bonanza of billionaires."
"Today is the first election in American history in which corporations have been allowed to spend their own money to buy political favours."

How'd that work out?

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