Monday, May 30, 2011

Hiding the tarsands

Tories left oilsands data out of UN report 
"The federal government has acknowledged it deliberately excluded data indicating a 20 per cent increase in annual pollution from Canada’s oilsands industry in 2009 from a recent 567-page report on climate change that it was required to submit to the United Nations.
The data also indicated that emissions per barrel of oil produced by the sector is increasing, despite claims made by the industry in an advertising campaign.  
And in books like Ethical Oil by tarsands apologist Ezra Levant, who wrote : "Oil sands technology continues to improve - to produce one barrel of oils sands oil takes 38 per cent less emissions now than it did in 1990."

Reality check from DeSouza :
"This also indicates a growth in emissions that is close to about 300 per cent since 1990, which cancel out many reductions in pollution from other economic sectors."
Also from DeSouza today :
Feds considered hiring PR firm to polish image of oilsands

"... to promote Canada's oilsands industry, while fighting back against foreign climate change policies requiring it to reduce its pollution.
          ...including a "meeting with like-minded allies" from oil industry giants BP and Shell.

The action plan, prepared by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, also suggested hosting an "annual retreat" of its oilsands advocacy team in London to plan a strategy to help boost the image of the industry."
Which currently looks like this :

UK undermining Europe's tar sands ban 
"Britain is being accused of undermining a European-wide drive to ban forecourt sales of petrol and diesel derived from the carbon-heavy tar sands of Canada.
Tar sands were originally named in draft proposals from the European Commission which were drawn up to ensure that member states were able to meet the legally binding target of reducing greenhouse gas by 6% by 2020.
But by last year – following intense lobbying from the Canadian government – all references to tar sands were dropped."

Sunday, May 29, 2011

One of these things is not like the others

Harper, Obama talk plans for perimeter security

Manley, CEOs, propose details on perimeter security

CATSA airport security screening measures tightened
Government of Canada enhances aviation security
 CATSA lays off 15 to 20% of airport security screeners
* Winner! *
Cons direct every airport in Canada to reduce its security screeners by 15-20%
Vancouver International Airport - 120 screening officers laid off May 16th
Greater Toronto Airports Authority - 400 laid off
Montreal Pierre-Elliott Trudeau airport - 80 laid off
Ottawa International Airport - 11 laid off
Calgary and Edmonton - 15% reduction in screening staff
Hey, I'll bet it's because they've invested in those new full body scanners and they'll be using them instead.
Chair of the BC Association of Aerospace Workers :
"newly purchased multi-million dollar full body scanners will be left unmanned and unused ... because there is just not enough staff to operate them."
And you just know that even if we all consented to having Trusted Traveller barcodes tattooed on our foreheads, you still wouldn't be allowed onboard if you're packing Astroglide, although apparently handcuffs are still ok.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Stacy Bonds "special constables" cleared

The Ontario Provincial Police has finished investigating the Ottawa Police Service for their assault of Stacy Bonds and announced no charges will be laid. You're shocked, I'm sure.
"I would like to thank the Ontario Provincial Police for conducting this investigation in an objective, thorough and professional way," said Ottawa Police Chief Vern White in a news release.
The Ottawa police officer Steven Desjourdy who cut off Bonds' shirt and bra was charged with sexual assault by the the Ontario Special Investigations Unit in March; the SIU however has no jurisdiction over the other "special constables" involved who are not officially police officers.

When the case came before Justice Richard Lajoie in October 2010, he 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".

Friday, May 27, 2011

G20 - Police oversight

Oversight - noun
1) the action of overseeing something
2) an omission, the failure to do something

Dorian Barton was taking a picture of police horses in the park at the G20 summit in downtown Toronto last summer when he was suddenly knocked to ground from behind with a riot shield, beaten with a baton breaking his shoulder, and stomped in the face. He was then dragged off by his broken right arm and detained without medical treatment for the first five of a total of 30 hours in detention, after which he was charged with "obstructing a police officer". The Crown dropped the charges against him at the same time it dropped all the bullshit charges against everyone else.

Ontario's Special Investigations Unit, the civilian agency charged with investigating "police actions resulting in serious injury, sexual assault or death", is reopening for the third time an investigation into allegations the Toronto police officer pictured here was one of seven who took part in the vicious assault on Barton. The photographer who took this pic is willing to testify he saw the officer blindside Barton with his shield and strike him as he lay on the ground before other officers joined in. He has provided seven photos of the assault.

SIU dropped its two previous investigations into the case in January because eleven police witnesses, one of whom was the officer's G20 roommate and two of whom were his supervisors, declined to identify him. SIU director Ian Scott reopened it today after Toronto Police Chief Blair promised to provide the name of the employee who was able to identify the subject officer.

I'm pretty sure if me and six of my friends were caught on film beating the crap out of you, the cops would not drop the case because my boss and my roommate declined to cough up my name to go along with my photo.

According to the Ontario Attorney General to whom the SIU reports, the SIU exonerates the officer in 97% of the cases it does pursue :
"The fact that the SIU overwhelmingly clears officers should be seen by the [public] as an endorsement of good policing."
However, in Oversight Unseen, a 2008 report on the SIU, Ontario Ombudsmen AndrĂ© Marin saw it differently :
"[T]he Ministry of the Attorney General has relied on the SIU to soothe police and community sensibilities and to ward off controversy. But in doing so, it has also overstepped the bounds of independent governance. The Director’s performance is subjectively evaluated and rewarded, compromising the SIU’s structural integrity and independence.

Its credibility as an independent investigative agency is further undermined by the predominant presence and continuing police links of former police officials within the SIU. It is so steeped in police culture that it has, at times, even tolerated the blatant display of police insignia and police affiliation."

[T]he SIU often ... adopts an impotent stance in the face of police challenge. Delays in police providing notice of incidents, in disclosing notes, and in submitting to interviews are endemic. Rather than vigorously inquiring into and documenting delays and other evidence of police resistance, the SIU deals with issues of police non-co-operation as isolated incidents.

Police interviews are rarely held within the regulatory time frames, and are all too often postponed – for weeks, sometimes even months. The SIU will not inconvenience officers or police forces by interviewing officers off duty. When it encounters overt resistance from police officials, the SIU pursues a low-key diplomatic approach that flies under the public radar. If disagreement cannot be resolved, the SIU more often than not simply accepts defeat."
"The SIU more often than not simply admits defeat." Good lord.

The current SIU director Ian Scott was appointed just before that report came out.
In February the Toronto Star ran a series based on 300 letters Scott sent to police forces over a 14-month period beginning in January 2009. They detail "his mounting frustration at not being able to hold officers accountable", including the burning of evidence before he got to see it, and being generally ignored by the Ontario police forces.
Presumably this is why he is giving interviews about this case to the press, despite the fact SIU Regulation 13 forbids it.

Rally in Toronto on Saturday for a public inquiry into G20 police riots

Meanwhile, out here in BC, the local media was pleased to bits last week to report that in response to Justice Braidwood  recommendations following from the police killing of Robert Dziekanski in 2007, we will be getting our own civilian police-oversight agency modelled on the SIU. And just like the SIU, the Independent Investigations Office will also report to BC's Attorney General, not the Ombudsman as Braidwood had wisely suggested.

Greg Klein at TheStraight :
[I]t was the AG’s Crown attorneys who exonerated the four Mounties involved in Dziekanski’s death. That was what led to Braidwood’s inquiry in the first place.
It gets worse. The government added that incidents or complaints involving IIO staff will be investigated by B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner. Almost all senior positions at the OPCC are staffed by former police officers.
An exception is police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe. But Lowe is a former Crown attorney and member of the criminal justice branch executive management that unanimously decided to exonerate the four RCMP officers involved in Robert Dziekanski’s Taser-related death. It was Lowe who made the infamous December 2008 announcement that the five Taser shocks inflicted on Dziekanski were “reasonable and necessary".
And so it goes ...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Security perimeter chat at the G8 Bunfest

Oxfam Bigheads at the G8 in Paris

CTV quotes "sources" on Obama/Harper security perimeter meeting at the G8 bunfest today :
"The Prime Minister's Office said the meeting would likely advance talks on a unified border security system for the continent that have been underway since February.
The hope is that such a pact would tighten security for people and goods entering the continent, but allow Canada-U.S. border points to boost the flow of goods and vehicles travelling across the 49th parallel.

Sources say the agreement would include joint border inspection agencies, relocation of U.S. food inspectors agents to Canadian plants and vice versa, greater sharing of intelligence, and harmonizing regulations on everything from food to manufactured goods."
Apparently we're done with last year's G8 splash :
The maternal and child health initiative, which Harper spearheaded during the G8 summit last year, is also on the agenda. But it is "falling off the radar."
"Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada and the U.S will have a plan in place by the summer for a North American security perimeter agreement."
Manifest Destiny Flashback - Nov 13, 1979 : While officially declaring his candidacy for President, Ronald Reagan proposes a “North American Agreement” which will produce “a North American continent in which the goods and people of the three countries will cross boundaries more freely.”
Sunday Update : CBC's online version of this story : Harper, Obama talk plans for security perimeter has attracted a record 1400+ comments. From the sound of most of them I'd say reports of the demise of Canadian nationalism - looking at you, David Biette - are geatly exaggerated.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hey, Globe&Mail, who's your daddy?

I didn't think I'd be mentioning Tim Pawlenty so soon again after Steve's rip of Pawlenty's tea party ad for his own election campaign, but for the third time in five days the G&M has run a story on TeaPaw's entry into the Republican race for the 2012 presidential nomination.

"A laid-back Midwestern Republican who governed a Democratic-leaning state, " went Friday's fluffer.
"A serious Republican," reads the headline in today's Globe Editorial, "to make Americans forget Donald Trump." A list of TeaPaw's virtues ensues, winding up with :
"Mr. Pawlenty is pursuing sound policy ideas for the greater long-term benefit of the United States.

Mr. Pawlenty is on the right track: His brand of truth-telling is a political strategy that could ultimately be more rewarding than the usual approach, stroking the base’s pleasure points."
Speaking of not stroking the base's pleasure points, TeaPaw presents his own one minute endorsement of himself :

In their rush to publish their latest Republican mancrush, the G&M appears to have forgotten all about the Tea in TeaPaw. Here he is in January with American Family Association's Bryan Fischer :
I've been a strong supporter of the family, pro-life positions, traditional marriage positions.
I was co-author of the law in Minnesota that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. I've been a vocal supporter of an amendment in Minnesota that would put that into our constitution.
[W]e now have a small majority of people on our Minnesota Supreme Court we are conservative and strict constructionist. I think Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided by the Court. But I have been careful that I appoint people, particularly at the appellate level, that share this strict constructionist philosophy.
I have been a public supporter of maintaining Don't Ask, Don't Tell and I would support reinstating it as well.
Harper's former deputy chief of staff Patrick Muttart was working for both the Con war room and US PR firm Mercury Public Affairs/IGG Group's "Canada/US practice" during last month's election. Muttart's new boss is Terry Nelson, now Senior Advisor to TeaPaw.

So, G&M, who's your daddy?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The North American-Made Energy Security Act

[updated below]

The Republicans on the US House Energy and Commerce Committee have drafted a "North American-Made Energy Security Act " (h/t Luiza Ch. Savage) - legislation which would ensure swift approval of the proposed $7-billion  2,000-mile Keystone XL pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta to the Texas gulf coast, doubling tarsands exports to the US to over a million barrels of oil a day .

"The draft legislation requires the president to issue a Presidential Permit decision no later than November 1, 2011."

An interesting thing about that House Energy and Commerce Committee :

LA Times, Feb 6, 2011: Koch brothers now at heart of GOP power
"David and Charles Koch no longer sit outside Washington's political establishment, isolated by their uncompromising conservatism. Instead, they are now at the center of Republican power, a change most evident in the new makeup of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Wichita-based Koch Industries and its employees formed the largest single oil and gas donor to members of the panel, ahead of giants like Exxon Mobil ...
Nine of the 12 new Republicans on the panel signed a pledge distributed by a Koch-founded advocacy group — Americans for Prosperity — to oppose the Obama administration's proposal to regulate greenhouse gases. A top early goal: restricting the reach of the Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees the Kochs' core energy businesses."
Americans for Prosperity organized the Tea Party rallies and funneled millions of dollars into various groups promoting climate change skepticism, including Canada's Fraser Institute.

The Tyee, March 22, 2011:
Koch Industries processes one in four barrels of U.S.-bound Alberta tar sand, while pumping millions of dollars into highly conservative, anti-green causes.

What do Tea Party rallies, Republican victories, climate-change deniers, Wisconsin's anti-union push, and attacks on a cap-and-trade market for carbon emissions have in common?
They're all fueled in part by profits derived from Alberta, Canada's oil sands.
Charles and David Koch. Together, America's fifth-richest citizens - each worth $21.5 billion -- own Koch Industries, a refining, pipeline, chemical and paper conglomerate.
Reuters : Koch Brothers Positioned To Be Big Winners If Keystone XL Pipeline Is Approved
A Koch Industries operation in Calgary, Alberta, called Flint Hills Resources Canada LP, supplies about 250,000 barrels of tar sands oil a day to a heavy oil refinery in Minnesota, also owned by the Koch brothers.

Flint Hills Resources Canada also operates a crude oil terminal in Hardisty, Alberta, the starting point of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

The company's website says it is "among Canada's largest crude oil purchasers, shippers and exporters."
Koch's 2009 application for intervenor status at National Energy Board's Keystone XL hearings here

Fun fact : "Koch Industries has had 300 oil spills (mostly from pipelines) in six states over a seven-year period."

Speaking at the White House presser in February, Stephen Harper plumped for the pipeline :
"Canada is the largest, the most secure, the most stable and the friendliest supplier of that most vital of all America's purchases: energy."
and tomorrow a TransCanada exec will address the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee in support of the pipeline.

TransCanada's chief Washington lobbyist, Paul Elliott, as it happens, also served as national deputy director and chief of staff for delegate selection for Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign. Because the pipeline crosses the border, it will be Clinton who will decide whether to approve it.

So what's all this tarsands oil headed for the US in aid of anyway?
From the proposed "North American-Made Energy Security Act "
"Continued development of North American energy resources, including Canadian oil, increases domestic refiners' access to stable and reliable of crude and improves certainty of fuel supply for the Department of Defense, the largest consumer of petroleum in the United States."
I think they meant to say the Department of Defense is the largest single consumer of petroleum in the US.
But what is the largest single use the DoD makes of petroleum?
Jet fuel.
The environmental disaster that is the tarsands, the health hazards to First Nations downstream from them, the undermining of Canadian sovereignty, the danger to the Ogallala Aquifer pictured at the top, the tea party nonsense, the attacks on Obama and on a cap and trade market for carbon emissions, the gutting of the EPA, the buying of committees, the funding of rightwing thinktanks and climate change deniers ...
- all this so Koch Industries can make a buck off apes playing with firesticks.

Monday Update : Brave New Films vid on the Kochs and the Keystone XL pipeline up at DeSmogBlog today : US farmers calling on Secretary Clinton as their last faint hope to stop it.
Thanks to Holly Stick in comments.

Also from The Hill : Koch and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton respond :
"A Koch executive, in a statement Friday afternoon, reiterated that the company has “no financial interest” in the pipeline project ... “Given these facts, we are confused about why Koch is being singled out and inserted into these discussions,” said Philip Ellender, the company’s president for government and public affairs."

At the Energy and Commerce Committee hearing today, TransCanada President Alex Pourbaix responded to criticism that TransCanada had tried to "bully and intimidate" landowners to grant land easements along the Keystone XL route, even though their project has not even been approved yet.
"We treat our landowners with respect and we treat them fairly," Pourbaix said. "We have always viewed (eminent domain) as a last resort."
Wow. The expropriation of privately owned land without the property owner's consent is the prerogative of governments for the public good, not corporations.
Update : June 15 - Passed in committee ; July 20 - Listed in the House as "active bill"

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The North American Security Intelligence Partnership

CBC, via WikiLeaks :
SECRET 2/10/2009
Subject : Visas Viper : The "Toronto 18" as candidates for Visas Viper Program

SUMMARY At Embassy Ottawa's monthly Visas Viper meeting on September 09, 2009, a list of 27 indidivudals (sic) who were involved in the so-called "Toronto 18" conspiracy, a plot to engage in terrorist activities in the Toronto metropolitan area, was submitted for consideration. All of these individuals are watchlisted in the Consular Lookout and Support System (CLASS). Post is submitting their names to be included in the Visas Vipers program.
The Visas Viper program is the entry level into US terrorist watchlists.

Pogge, yesterday : Apparently we need to hold the Arar inquiry all over again
"The Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Canada's principal intelligence agency, routinely transmits to U.S. authorities the names and personal details of Canadian citizens who are suspected of, but not charged with, what the agency refers to as "terrorist-related activity."
In at least some cases, the people in the cables appear to have been named as potential terrorists solely based on their associations with other suspects, rather than any actions or hard evidence."
Evidently even working as an undercover police informer busting terrorists will get you on that list.
In addition to the Toronto 18, the embassy cables name nine others.
Among those nine names is Mubin Shaikh.

Mubin Shaikh, a Canadian Muslim, was recruited by CSIS in 2004 to infiltrate possible terrorist groups.
Shaikh infiltrated the Toronto 18, secretly taping them and setting up the RCMP sting resulting in their arrest.
He testified against them at their trial as the Crown's star witness. Without him there would have been no trial, no convictions.
And now he's in the US terrorist database.
I'm sure other Canadian Muslims will be really keen to help CSIS out now.

So did CSIS put their own mole on that list? Or do they just have no autonomy at all over their own data.
“Clearly it’s a mistake,” Mr. Shaikh said in an interview. He argued that most people who are on watch lists belong on the lists, and that he has “compete confidence” in Canada’s ability to safeguard intelligence sources.
Good for you. I don't.

Yesterday CSIS gave a damage-control response to breaking news of their continued handing over of Canadian names and personal details to US watchlists :
 " ... any decision to hand over names is the result of a detailed process, in which an individual's threat level is assessed by a committee of Canadian security officials, including a senior executive at CSIS.

Lawyers from the Department of Justice also participate, and often a representative of the RCMP.

As part of the process, someone plays the part of devil's advocate, challenging the information gathered on the individual being considered.

Even then, said the official, the decision to hand over a name to the Americans is subject to written ministerial directives and internal CSIS policies.
None of which explains how Mubin Shaikh got on there.

But as Evan Dyer pointed out during RCMP Commissioner Zaccardelli's grilling about Arar four and a half years ago, all that rigorous bureaucratic bullshit doesn't mean fuck all if US security forces are already physically present in the room when "persons of interest" are being discussed at INSET meetings.
INSET, the Canadian Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams, are the Canadian counter-terrorist forces comprised of CSIS, the RCMP, Border Services, and other security groups. They handled both the Arar and Toronto 18 cases.

As Pogge put it : "Our "principal intelligence agency" doesn't work for us; it works for American intelligence agencies."
"We don't want another Arar," said the security official. But at the same time, he said, CSIS is acutely aware that if it did not pass on information about someone it suspected, and that person then carried out some sort of spectacular attack in the U.S., the consequences could be cataclysmic for Canada.
U.S. authorities, already suspicious that Canada is "soft on terror," would likely tighten the common border, damaging hundreds of billions of dollars worth of vital commerce.
So we're just haggling about the price of our sovereignty and Charter rights now then.

Or, as most of the WikiLeaks-released Ottawa Embassy cables usually sign off with:
"Visit Canada's North American partnership community at /"
Yeah. Thanks. How's our security perimeter coming along?
Update : WikiLeaks has now released the S E C R E T OTTAWA 000768 cables. Same redactions as CBC.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The new face of Canadian diplomacy

'OK, Pogge, I'll see you a "Now representing Canada on the world stage" and raise you a "New face of Canadian diplomacy".

The man who named his cat "Thatcher" is rumoured to be named today as our new Minister of Sucking Up to the US.

Update : Confirmed.
Peter van Loan will replace him as the new Government Angry McPointy. 

Also ...

Christian Paradis, formerly Minister of Natural Resources and Asbestos, is now Minister of Industry and Asbestos

Tony Clement, formerly Minister of Gazebos, becomes President of the Treasury Board, where he will be in charge of cutting billions from federal spending.

Maxime Bernier, sometime Minister of Cleavage and Leaving State Secrets Lying Around, is the new Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism and Climate Change Skepticism.

Bev Oda, Minister of "Not", stays on as Minister of "Not".

Etc. etc. ...

And then after his morning presser on the new cabinet appointments, Steve announced three failed Con candidates, including two who quit the Senate to run in the last election, to his Senate of Unelectable Cons.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Afghanistan : "All options are back on the table"

WikiLeaks via CBC :

From : US Ambassador Jacobson, Ottawa Embassy, 3/17/2009

"Summary: The minority government of Prime Minister Harper may not have actually ruled out extending Canada's 2,800-member military contingent, including combat forces, in Kandahar beyond 2011.
At a March Cabinet 10 meeting, ministers of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority government apparently agreed that "all options are back on the table" with respect to Canada's military role in Afghanistan after 2011, according to Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) XXXXXXXX Senior Advisor XXXXXXXXXXXX (strictly protect). It will take time for the government's public rhetoric to catch up to this "new reality," however, requiring some "patience" on the part of allies, XXXXX commented privately to polmiloff on March 16. He urged that, for now, allies should not publicly press Canada to extend its troop deployment in Kandahar beyond 2011.

Comment: After being explicit publicly and privately that the CF combat mission in Afghanistan would definitely end in 2011 according to the terms of the March 2008 motion, PM Harper and his Cabinet would be venturing into politically sensitive territory to try to re-sell a further extension to an increasingly dubious Canadian public."
Senior Advisor XXXXX suggests "that Canada might withdraw the CF battle group in 2011" for a one year "operational pause":
"If Canada begins to withdraw its troops starting in July 2011, as currently mandated by a March 2008 House of Commons bipartisan motion, the U.S. and other ISAF partners will need at least six months to send replacements into RC-S (January-June 2011) in advance of a subsequent six month long withdrawal or draw-down of CF (July-December 2011), he explained. Canadian and U.S. military and civilian planners will need to have a plan in place by January 1, 2011, he reasoned, in order to ensure that the necessary personnel and infrastructure are in Kandahar throughout that year."
The cable ends, as so many of these US embassy cables do, with an invitation to :
"Visit Canada's North American partnership community at /"
but you can't visit it because it's restricted.

WikiLeaks has also provided cables confirming Jean Chretien and General Walt Natynczyk's covert complicity in the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Then Foreign Affairs official James Wright, now Canada's high commissioner in London :
"emphasized" that contrary to public statements by the prime minister, Canadian naval and air forces could be "discreetly" put to use during the pending U.S.-led assault on Iraq and its aftermath
which we already knew about several years ago.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Dimitri Dogfight Soudas, Aug 25, 2010 : " the new, highly capable and technologically-advanced F-35 comes into service. It is the best plane our Government could provide our Forces, and when you are a pilot staring down Russian long range bombers, that's an important fact to remember."

Airshow MacKay : "On the eve of Barack Obama's visit to Ottawa, a Russian jet approached Canada's Arctic air space and had to be turned away by Canadian warplanes... fighter planes and world-class pilots that know their business and send a strong signal that they should back off and stay out of our airspace."

Steve 'Spaceman Spiff', Feb 28, 2009 : “ increasingly aggressive Russian actions around the globe and Russian intrusions into our airspace. This government has responded every time the Russians have done that. We will continue to respond; we will defend our airspace.”

Sheer vaudevilliany, of course, all of it.

Two weeks prior to Soudas showboating about "staring down Russian bombers", Russia and NORAD were wrapping up a 3-day joint exercise that had been three years in the planning.
Pictured are Canadian Forces Col. Todd Balfe, deputy commander Alaska NORAD Region, and Russian Air Force Col. Alexander Vasilyev on board Fencing 1220 for VIGILANT EAGLE :
"a joint 3-day exercise designed to establish clear communication processes that would allow the two forces to work together during a real crisis.
In the scenario presented by the exercise, a B-757 jetliner, simulated by a Gulfstream 4 jet, signaled to authorities on the ground that it has been hijacked. NORAD F-22s and an E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control aircraft scrambled in response and followed the track of interest across the Pacific and handing it off to Russian Federation fighters as it approached Russian territory. On the second day of the exercise, it was done in reverse, with SU-27 fighters making the hand-off to F-22s as the “hijacked” aircraft approached Alaska."

CP, yesterday : "A new Wikileaks cable suggests the U.S. government views Stephen Harper's talk about Canadian Arctic sovereignty as little more than empty chest-thumping designed to win votes.

A January 2010 cable says Harper cautioned NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen that the alliance has no role in the Arctic because "Canada has a good working relationship with Russia with respect to the Arctic" and a NATO presence "could backfire by exacerbating tensions."  

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Canada Census - The dilemma

Do we fill it in nicely to show our solidarity with StatsCan and their important data-gathering, currently under siege by the Cons, or do we fill it in using really big crayons and attached pictures of cluster bomb victims to protest its having been farmed out once again to war profiteer and surveillance/espionage experts Lockheed Martin?

Back during the 2006 census, some of us worried that Homeland Security would wind up with access to our census data via the US Patriot Act. StatsCan was at great pains to alleviate those fears : LM would not get the actual data because LM were only supplying the software; the actual data would remain with StatsCan.

Lockheed Martin : "We never forget who we're working for".

Well of course not. $35.7B in US government contracts alone out of $42.7B worldwide in 2008 is a whole lot of not forgetting.
ML accounts for one of every 14 dollars doled out by the Pentagon, amounting to a "Lockheed Martin tax" of $260 per taxpaying household in the United States.
Besides there's the US government network to maintain : $12 million on congressional lobbying and campaign contributions in 2009.
NYTimes, secondary source :
"Men who have worked, lobbied and lawyered for Lockheed hold the posts of secretary of the Navy, secretary of transportation, director of the national nuclear weapons complex, and director of the national spy satellite agency.

Lockheed Martin is now positioned to profit from every level of the war on terror from targeting to intervention, and from occupation to interrogation."
Including spying on Quakers and anti-war activists and recruiting interrogators for Guantanamo, Iraq, and Afghanistan for the Department of Defense.

Of Lockheed Martin's 57 Federal Contractor Misconduct violations listed at the Project on Government Oversight, nearly a third involve court dispositions and fines for "Government Contract Fraud".
Say, how are our F-35s coming along?

Four months after the 2006 census, Lockheed Martin President of the Americas and Co-Chair of the SPP's North American Competitiveness Council Ron Covais explained to Luiza Ch. Savage how the Security and Prosperity Partnership would be implemented - in incremental changes by each country's executive, bureaucrats and other regulators outside government.

"We've decided not to recommend any things that would require legislative changes because we won't get anywhere."
It may not be entirely rational to fuck with the census form on the grounds that LM profits by it, but sometimes protests are not particularly rational - they are just one of the only means available to us to register our disgust with the creeping militarization inherent in our incremental deep integration with the US.
My apology to commenters - all comments were lost in Blogger's big fubar today.

Election 2011 - Vote splitting

Who really benefited from vote splitting this election?

Ken Boessenkool and Brian Topp, a Con and an NDP strategist respectively, crunch up the numbers and conclude :

the Liberals did.

"The Conservatives and the NDP won their seats with, on average, large pluralities and considerable margins over the party that finished second – which was usually not the Liberals."

Hence little evidence of vote splitting.

Even in Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area where the Libs claim they were hurt by vote splitting? Yup. Even there.

To be honest I've no idea whether Topp and Boessenkool's method for determining vote splitting - explained at the link above - is sound and I'm hoping Alice will find time to evaluate it, but I rather liked the dramatic graph accompanying it, showing how the party tallies shifted in each province compared to the 2008 election.

Alice has her own graphs here.

Paul Wells on vote splitting :
 On the impertinence of the NDP
"Here’s an article in a Toronto newspaper: How vote-splitting gave the Tories Ontario — and a majority. Apparently the Globe is using its Random Headline Generator again, because the story is about how vote-splitting didn’t give the Tories Ontario or a majority.
The Conservatives won 12 seats in the province in large part due to vote-splitting on the centre-left. Had the NDP surge fizzled on ballot day – and the votes cleaved to the Liberal camp – Stephen Harper’s majority would have been a bare-minimum 155.
         Fun fact: 155 is a majority."

Yes I know we're all bored with election post mortems by now.  But in 4½ years the Liberal strategic voting sites will once again be handing out bucket advice to 'vote Lib so the Cons won't get in' and I figure we're going to need this as a reminder.
Update : Thank you, Alice!

Monday, May 09, 2011

"A quick perimeter security deal"

is what an editorial in the Windsor Star is calling for now that Steve has his majority despite "opposition MPs who claimed it would weaken Canadian sovereignty":
"The reality is this: There is no other way to keep goods and services flowing freely across our borders."
Department of Homeland Security, Feb 1:
"DHS believes the risk of terrorist activity across the northern border is higher than across the southern border because there are active Islamist extremist groups in Canada that are not in Mexico, it is easier to cross the northern border because it is twice as long as the southern border, and DHS has a fraction of the law enforcement officers and surveillance assets on the northern border than it has in the south."
Three days later Steve and Obama released their Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, although news of it had already been leaked back in December.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano five days ago at the May 4 US Senate Committee on Homeland Security, transcript from audio webcast : 
"Our strategy for the northern border is different. It's much more technology-dependant for example so we are adding more systems up there that can detect low-flying aircraft. Also our partnership with Canada has really evolved over the past months so that you had Prime Minister Harper and President Obama themselves announcing a joint vision for a perimeter [here Napolitano makes a big circle in the air with her hands] involving Canada and the United States and greater cooperation with Canadian law enforcement on both sides of the border. That is going extraordinarily well. For example we are looking at being able to integrate their own sensors and radar feeds into our system as well."
Enter thinktanky support from the Wilson Center in Washington DC, who awarded Steve their Public Service Award in 2006 after he had been in office a whole 8 months . Via Luiza Ch. Savage, a link to an upcoming May 11 Wilson Center event :

Northern Border Crime and Terror Networks: Fact or Fiction? : (italics mine)"

How vulnerable is the Canada-U.S. border to crime and terrorism? Americans are concerned that terrorists might infiltrate from the North ...

In an effort to inform a more evidence-based policy approach to Canada-U.S. border integrity, a team of U.S. and Canadian researchers has been collecting data on cross-border criminal activity, with surprising results on the nature and extent of cross-border criminal connections on both sides of the border. The findings bolster the argument in favor of shifting from joint enforcement to joint jurisdiction—a model similar to the way Canada and the United States have been collaborating on matters of national defense for decades."
Flashback : David Biette, director of the Canada Institute at the Wilson Center, in 2009
"Perimeter is no longer a dirty word. ... The old Toronto nationalists of the 1960s were essential to building the idea of a postmodern Canada, but now they're starting to die off."
as Steve and his various US enablers are no doubt hoping for the same for Canadian sovereignty.

Of the "US and Canadian researchers" speaking at the Wilson Center event, I note that the US researchers and at least one of the three Canadian researchers receive funding from Homeland Security and the US Defense Dept.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The best democracy money can buy

From Paul Wells' The untold story of the 2011 election :
"In the weeks before the budget, a Liberal strategist said, the Conservatives bought airtime to run 1,600 ads. “We had 131, and the NDP had, like, 25 or something,” the Liberal said. “It was a massacre.”
And then there's the best democracy media concentration can buy.

Dwayne Winseck tracked 62 daily newspapers from the ten main newspaper groups in Canada comprising 97.5% of the industry. QMI Sun Media has 18 papers while Post Media is the largest publisher of English-language daily newspapers in Canada at 12, plus another 8 weeklies. Together these two account for just over 50% of the market share.

He found that 21 out of 22 editorial endorsements that advocated for a specific candidate for Prime Minister - including 10 from Post Media and 6 from Sun Media - plumped for Harper. As noted by Winseck, that's 95%.

Friday, May 06, 2011

WikiLeaks : A New North American Union Initiative

I guess everyone has their favorite US Ambassador to Canada.
Mine has always been Paul Cellucci, who once suggested building huge aqueducts to carry Canadian water to the US and worried in 2008 that the election of Obama would "imperil the future economic integration of the continent".

Last month WikiLeaks released one of Cellucci's 2005 cables from the US Embassy in Ottawa.  In it he suggests that "Canadian policy makers" support a "security perimeter" via an "incremental and pragmatic package of tasks" emphasizing "security" and "prosperity" to pave the way for a future North American "single market and/or single currency".

He also advises that "our governments may always want to keep some kind of land border in place" as it's useful for "data gathering". Excerpted :

An incremental and pragmatic package of tasks for a new North American Initiative (NAI) will likely gain the most support among Canadian policymakers. Our research leads us to conclude that such a package should tackle both "security" and "prosperity" goals. This fits the recommendations of Canadian economists who have assessed the options for continental integration. While in principle many of them support more ambitious integration goals, like a customs union/single market and/or single currency, most believe the incremental approach is most appropriate at this time and all agree that it helps pave the way to these goals if and when North Americans choose to pursue them."

"We believe that, given growing Canadian concern about "border risk" and its effects on investment, a focus on the "security" side could also produce the most substantial economic/trade benefits."

"At this time, an "incremental" approach to integration is probably better than a "big deal" approach."
How's that incremental approach going, by the way?

Unlike Steve who is tasked with selling us on this deal, Cellucci was less sanguine on that whole "jobs, jobs, jobs" angle :
"Some international economic initiatives (such as FTAs) produce across-the-board measures that generate broad benefits for a country's industries and consumers on a known time-line. This was true of NAFTA but it is less likely to be true of the economic aspects of the NAI."
"There is little basis on which to estimate the size of the "upside" gains from an integration initiative concentrating on non-tariff barriers of the kind contained in NAI. For this reason, we cannot make claims about how large the benefits might be on a national or continental scale. When advocating NAI, it would be better to highlight specific gains to individual firms, industries or travelers, and especially consumers."
Steve - Here For Canada.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Canada Votes 2011 - Margin of Victory

Updated Feb 23, 2012 - Steve's majority holds by 14 12 seats, or  5184 votes

Below are the 12 margins of victory for the Cons in the 2011 Election
There's been some recent interest in this post due to the Con robocall election fraud / vote suppression story so I've updated the post to include the final corrected vote tallies long since adjusted by Elections Canada since I first posted these figures three days after the 2011 election. 
New version directly below, with the corrected figures in the original post blue.
Data source : Elections Canada -Official Voting Results of the 41st General Election, Table 12 
I've included the Line # from the EC Tables so you can verify the numbers for yourself.
Corrected Con Margin of Victory : 5184 votes
EC Line # / District Name/ Candidate/Votes Obtained/ % of Votes Obtained /
Majority votes & Percentage

1)Line 855 - Nipissing-Timiskaming/ Jay Aspin CPC :15495 votes / 36.7% of vote /
 majority of 18 votes or 0%

2)Line 677 - Etobicoke Centre/ Ted Opitz CPC : 21644 votes / 41.2% of vote /
 majority of 26 votes or 0%

3)Line 16 - Labrador/ Peter Penashue CPC : 4256 votes / 39.8 % of vote /
 majority of 79 votes or .7%

4)Line 1576 - Yukon / Ryan Leef CPC : 5422 votes/ 33.8% of vote /
majority of 132 votes or .8%

5)Line 1127- Elmwood-Transcona / Lawrence Toet CPC :15298 votes / 46.4% of vote /
majority of 300 votes or .9%

6)Line 1215 - Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar/ Kelly Block Con: 14652 votes / 48.7% of vote /
majority of 538 votes or 1.8%

7)Line 593 - Bramalea-Gore-Malton / Bal Gosal CPC: 19907 votes / 34.4% of vote /
majority of 539 votes or .9%

8)Line 647 - Don Valley West/ John Carmichael CPC : 22962 votes / 42.9% of vote /
majority of  611 votes or 1.1%

9)Line 811 - Mississauga East-Cooksville/ Wladyslaw Lizon CPC:  18796 votes / 40% of vote/
 majority of 676 votes or 1.4%

10)Line 1170 - Winnipeg South Centre/ Joyce Bateman CPC : 15506 votes / 38.8% of vote /
majority of 722 votes or 1.8%

11)Line 1192 -Palliser  Ray Boughen CPC : 15850 votes / 47% of vote /
majority of 766 votes or 2.3%

12)Line 354 - Lotbini�re-Chutes-de-la-Chaudi/ Jacques Gourde CPC : 22460 votes / 39.9% of vote /
majority of 777 votes or 1.4%

~ ~ ~ End of Feb 23, 2012 corrected post ~ ~ ~ 

Steve's majority holds by just 14 12 seats

Below Matt Peters and Ryan Boldt look at 14 12 of the most closely contested Conservative ridings where the margin of victory was less than 800 votes- and in one case in Ontario - just 14 18 votes.
In that riding the combined opposition vote was 11,357 11,299 and the Cons took it by just 14 18 votes, while 27,887 registered voters didn't vote at all.

Nipissing-Timiskaming (Ontario) Line 855
Cons                 Liberals        Margin of Victory         NDP/Green Combined
15,495              15,477                      18                               11,299
15,507              15,493                      14                               11,357

Labrador (Newfoundland & Labrador) Line 16
Cons                Liberals         Margin of Victory         NDP/Green Combined
4,256                 4,177                        79                               2,259
4,234                 4,003                       231                              2,235

Bramalea-Gore-Malton (Ontario) Line 593
Cons                 NDP            Margin of Victory         Lib/Green Combined
19,907              19,368                    539                              18,150
19,907              19,369                    538                              18,149

Etobicoke Centre (Ontario) Line 677
Cons                Liberals          Margin of Victory         NDP/Green Combined
21,644              21,618                                                         9,112
21,661              21,635                     26                                9,185

Saskatoon Rosetown Biggar (Saskatchewan) Line 1215
Cons                 NDP             Margin of Victory        Lib/Green Combined

14,652              14,114                     538                                1,323

Elmwood-Transcona (Manitoba) Line 1127
Cons                 NDP             Margin of Victory        Lib/Green Combined
15,298            14,998                       300                                 2,677
15,280            14,996                       284                                 2,678

Montmagny-L'islet-Kamouraska-Riveire-du-Loup (Quebec)
Cons                 NDP              Margin of Victory        Lib/Green/Bloc Combined
17,220            17,110                       110                                14,861

Lotbiniere-Chutes-de-la-Chaudiere (Quebec) Line 354
Cons                 NDP              Margin of Victory        Lib/Green/Bloc Combined

22,460            21,683                        777                                12,183

Don Valley West (Ontario) Line 647
Cons              Liberals            Margin of Victory         NDP/Green Combined
22,962            22,351                       611                                  7,983
22,992            22,353                       639                                  7,983

Mississauga East-Cooksville (Ontario) Line 811
Cons              Liberals             Margin of Victory        NDP/Green Combined
18,796            18,120                       676                                  9,868   
18,782            18,121                       661                                  9,989

Winnipeg South Centre (Manitoba) Line1170
Cons              Liberals             Margin of Victory        NDP/Green Combined
15,506           14,784                        722                                  9,328 
15,468           14,772                        696                                  9,332

Yukon Line - Line 1576
Cons              Liberals             Margin of Victory        NDP/Green Combined

5,422              5,290                         132                                  5,345

Desenthe-Missinippi-Churchill River (Saskatchewan)
Cons              NDP                 Margin of Victory         Lib/Green Combined
10,509            9,715                         794                                  1,704 
10,504            9,715                         789                                  1,706

Palliser (Saskatchewan) Line 1192
Cons              NDP                 Margin of Victory         Lib/Green Combined

15,850         15,084                          766                                  2,892

Total numbers for the 14 12 ridings
Cons             2nd place            Margin of Victory          Rest of the left*
217,196        210,348                      6,848                             105,188
219,939        213,738                      6,201                             103,873

*Rest of left only includes NDP, Lib, Bloc or Green parties. Other parties not counted.

And just to add insult to injury, five of those ridings boast some of the lowest voter turnout in the country :

                                                          Margin of Victory           Voter Turnout   
Labrador -                                                       231 79 votes                   52.1%

Bramalea-Gore-Malton (Ont) -                  538 539 votes                  54.3%

Elmwood-Transcona (Manitoba) -            284 300 votes                    56.5%

Mississauga East-Cooksville (Ontario) -    661 676 votes                    56.5%

Desenthe-Miss-Churchill (Sask) -              789 794 votes                    52.2%

Original source data from interactive tables at SFU.
Updated source data from Elections Canada

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Canada Votes 2011 - FPTP vs PR

Under any of the various versions of proportional representation, Steve would not now be enjoying his majority.

Fair Vote Canada :
"The Conservative party increased their vote percentage by less than two points,” says Fair Vote Canada (FVC) President Bronwen Bruch, “but this allowed them to win 24 more seats than in 2008, when they were already over-represented. Stephen Harper calls this a ‘decisive endorsement’, but we call it a rip-off."
Almost no one tries to claim the first-past-the-post voting system we are currently labouring under is fairer than any of the alternative options any more. No, mostly its proponents just say FPTP is easier for voters to understand.

Really? How did you like figuring out who to vote for this time round? And how did it work out for you?

Under any old prop rep voting system, we could forget about coalitions and party mergers and strategic voting and blaming each other for splitting the vote afterwards. Instead, all voters would be free to 'vote their conscience' and some of that 39% of eligible voters who don't bother to vote now might even feel sufficiently engaged by having, you know, an actual voice in it, to turn up.

As Pogge says : We really ought to fix this

Tomorrow voters in the UK are deciding whether to go with Alternative Vote , also known as instant run-off voting. Brebis Noire posted the following funny vid at Bread & Roses that explains how it works. Surprise cameo by Steve as Reform Cat.


Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Canada Votes 2011


Just a 2% increase in the popular vote took the Cons from 143 seats in 2008 to a 167 seat majority tonight, thanks to our fucked up first-past-the-post system and because of what happened in key ridings in Ontario where presumably the Lib voters moved over to the Cons : ie. in Toronto, the Cons took 31 seats to the Libs 8 and the Dippers 12.

So the Libs and the Dippers change places in seat count compared to 2008, Elizabeth May finally gets a seat while Duceppe and Iggy lose theirs, and the Bloc, the only genuinely social democratic party in the country, is wiped out.

Consider this : Quebec's 59 seats has kept the Cons from an almost total lock on the country this time.

In 2008 the voter turnout was 59%; today it was 61%. So much for Get Out the Vote.

It will be interesting to see how Alice at Pundit's Guide breaks down the efficacy of the various strategic voting guides. In my own riding - West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea-to-Sky - the recommendation from Project Democracy, previously Vote for Environment in 2008, and other strategic voting sites was to vote Liberal. As it turned out, the Dipper came second to the winning Con who would have won anyway.

What hasn't changed since 2008?
60% of the 60% of Canadians who voted still did not vote for Harper, who has been allowed to govern as if he held a majority for five years already now. 

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Orange Crush Sunday : Cons-34, NDP-31, Libs-21, Green-6

EKOS poll of 2,690 Canadians April 29-May1. Regionals at link.

Seat Projections

1) CPC 130 to 146 seats

2) NDP 103 to 123 seats

3) LPC 36 to 46 seats

4) BQ 10-20 seats

5) GP 1 seat

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