Thursday, February 26, 2015

Bill C-51 - Conservative 'values'

Uncanny resemblance, isn't it?  Your 'values' not looking too good at the moment, Mr Blaney.

Having rushed the 62 page omnibus anti-terrorism bill C-51 through Parliament, the Cons are now demanding it be rushed through committee as well. They wanted to restrict expert testimony to three Public Safety Committee meetings - with one of them taken up entirely by Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney - but a successful NDP committee fillibuster has now ratcheted it up to eight .

Among the expert witnesses proposed by the NDP are former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci (Almalki, Abou-Elmaati, and Nuredinn inquiry) and former associate Chief Justice of Ontario Dennis O'Connor (Arar inquiry).

Now why wouldn't the Cons want to hear from them?

A report in the Ottawa Citizen yesterday details new documents on how in 2001 the RCMP talked up Ottawa's Abdullah Almalki to the CIA and Syria as a terrorist threat despite having been given CSIS intelligence to the contrary.
An RCMP memo, dated Sept. 5, 2001, generated after a meeting with Canadian Security Intelligence Service officials, said that “CSIS have not uncovered information that would lead them to believe the subject (Almalki) is doing something illegal.”
On Oct. 2, 2001, the RCMP sent a fax to its liaison officers in Islamabad, Rome, Delhi, Washington, London, Berlin and Paris, reporting that CSIS had described Almalki as an “important member” of al-Qaida. Days later, the RCMP liaison officer in Rome sent letters to agencies in several countries, including Syria, labelling Almalki as an “imminent threat” to Canada’s national security.
After Almalki was arrested and was being tortured in Syria, the RCMP helpfully sent along three pages of questions for them to ask him.

One of the provisions of Bill C-51 allows government departments to share private information more widely. 

Maher Arar was likewise renditioned to Syia and tortured based on bad RCMP intel and then RCMP Commissioner Zaccardelli and CSIS Asst Director Jack Hooper tried to cover it up.

Hill Times Oct 2, 2006 : CSIS didn't want Arar returned to Canada
"In May and June 2003, the Canadian government intended to send a letter to Syria indicating that it spoke with "one voice"–seeking the powerful support CSIS and the RCMP–to call for Mr. Arar's release. But according to Justice Dennis O'Connor's report, CSIS "was uncomfortable" with a statement in the letter that there was "no evidence" that Mr. Arar had links to al-Qaeda. The agency argued "very strongly" against a letter that it saw as sending the wrong message to U.S. authorities.
"CSIS wanted to make it clear to the Solicitor General that there was 'political jeopardy' in signing a joint letter and that bringing Mr. Arar back to Canada was going to be a political 'hot potato' with American authorities," Justice O'Connor wrote in the report, which cleared Mr. Arar.
Justice O'Connor also revealed in his report that CSIS, "for reasons of its own, preferred that Mr. Arar not return to Canada." While DFAIT drafted its letter to argue for Mr. Arar's release in June 2003, Jack Hooper, assistant director of operations for CSIS, called an assistant deputy minister at DFAIT to explain why it opposed the return of Mr. Arar. CSIS feared that if Mr. Arar returned with a public story of torture it could "impair" deportations from Canada to Syria, according to the report."
Sure, let's give these guys a freer hand to operate in secret without oversight.

Perhaps the committee should hear from Mr. Arar. 
As he points out, if C-51 were in place when he was in Syria, it could have been used legally to prevent his return to Canada. 

A week ago former Prime Ministers Jean Chr├ętien, Paul Martin, Joe Clark, and John Turner plus five former Supreme Court Justices, three former Ministers of Justice, four former Solicitors General of Canada, and three former SIRC committee members expressed their dismay with the bill in a G&M editorial pointing out Justice O'Connor's recommendations following the Arar inquiry had not been implemented. They called for greater oversight at a minimum.

In the House on Tuesday, Harper termed Thomas Mulcair's calls for greater oversight and a full review of evidence "ridiculous" :
"I would urge the committee to study the bill as quickly as possible in order to ensure the adoption of these measures to ensure the security and safety of Canadians."
while Blaney "slammed Mulcair for 'attacking the credibility' of CSIS officers".
"These people respect the law, and I call on him to present arguments, and not lies to defend his position."
Greg Fingas provides excellent C-51 links and a column in the Leader-Post on "the risks of allowing CSIS to self-assess the scope of Canadians' Charter rights under C-51". 

From Stephen Lautens : For those of you keeping score at home (updated April 20, 2015) :


and Reddit hub on planning Canada-wide protests.

Friday update : Open letter to Parliament: Amend C-51 or kill it
  A letter from over 100 Canadian law professors. Clear concise objections.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

First the fire, then the water

"Through fire and water, Canada will stand with you," Harper said in closing his speech to Israel's parliament in January 2014. 

I guess he meant that literally. 

Hundreds of Palestinians flee as Israel opens dams into Gaza Valley

"Hundreds of Palestinians were evacuated from their homes Sunday morning after Israeli authorities opened a number of dams near the border, flooding the Gaza Valley in the wake of a recent severe winter storm.

Israeli dams on the river to collect rainwater have dried up the wetlands inside Gaza, and destroyed the only source of surface water in the area.

The chief of the civil defence agency in Gaza told Al Jazeera: "Israel opened water dams, without warning, last night, causing serious damage to Gazan villages near the border. More than 40 homes were flooded and 80 families are currently in shelters as a result."

Over a hundred thousand Gazans lost their home in the fire-bombing of Gaza last year.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Kenney : CPC faces high risk of terrorist attack

The Conservative Party of Canada faces a “high probability” of a jihadist attack from homegrown terrorists, Defence Minister Jason Kenney warned Thursday as he defended toughened security laws and hinted that Ottawa will extend its military mission in Iraq into the inevitable quagmire of jihadist reprisals.
"The threat of terrorism has never been greater."
In his first major address since taking over the defence portfolio several weeks ago, Kenney explained the growing danger of terror :
"We've got the Del Mastro election fraud trial, the Duffy trial, the Jason MacDonald trial, and the insecurity of an election is only months away."
“There is a high probability of future jihadist attacks from within,” Kenney said, citing attacks in Paris and Copenhagen. "And let's not forget that two Canadians have been killed in terrorist attacks on Canadian soil in the last 12½ years since 9/11."
Kenney spoke as Parliament begins debate on Bill C-51, sweeping new anti-terror legislation that contains measures that would for the first time allow the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to secretly do pretty much anything it liked. Kenney said concerns about the bill are “much exaggerated.” 
“We are taking all of these steps while respecting the rights of Canadians,” Kenney said as his party closed down parliamentary debate on the controversial bill after only two hours.
He said the new powers are “necessary” to meet the evolving terror threat. 
"It could come from anywhere - muzzled scientists, enviros, FNs, birdwatchers, other parties - you name it."
“This is a threat that is going to keep mutating. We can’t have a permanent policy setting. We have to be flexible,” he said.  "We were going to run on having transformed the Canadian economy into a 1950s-style strong stable single resource extraction state but that hasn't exactly panned out for us so now we're going with this terror terror terror thing."

Recent polls have shown 25% of Canadians believe jihadist terrorism is the number one problem facing Canadians today. 
"We'd like to scare that number up a little higher," said Kenney. "With only 60% of Canadians voting and 40% of that 60% voting for us, we could win the next election on terrorism alone."
Kenney advised all Canadians to be on alert in the upcoming months. "Duck and cover", he quipped, "it's the CPC way."

h/t Toronto Star for original article : Canada faces high risk of terror attack, Jason Kenney says   Check it out - it's kinda scary how little I changed it.

Today's G&M : New poll finds Harper’s anti-terror bill is a political juggernaut :
"More than four in five Canadians – 82 per cent – back the new legislation to expand the powers of intelligence agencies and police, according to the survey of 1,509 Canadians conducted by the Angus Reid Institute. Far from seeing it as too sweeping, they tend to want more: 36 per cent say it does not go far enough."
... however : Global : Despite popularity, majority of Canadians haven’t seen or read stories on terror bill: poll
"An Angus Reid poll released Thursday suggested C-51, which Prime Minister Stephen Harper introduced Jan. 30, is popular — but more than half the respondents, 56 per cent, had neither consumed a news story nor had a discussion about the bill. 
A vast majority of Canadians surveyed online —82 per cent —indicated support for the bill currently before the House of Commons.
How familiar are you with the proposed legislation?” the poll asked.
Only 18 per cent said they had either “read or seen stories” about the bill and “discussed it with friends and family.”
At the other end of the spectrum, 20 per cent of respondents said they had neither seen nor read anything about the bill."
A new milestone in polling idiocy.

Update : Well, crap, two hours after I posted this the Star has completely rewritten the article under a new headline although the link URL is the same. 

VICE : NDP Vows to Fight Anti-Terror Bill as Conservatives Limit Debate

Michael Geist“Total Information Awareness”: The Disastrous Privacy Consequences of Bill C-51

Press Progress : 6 ways you may have already broken Harper's new anti-terror law

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The 2015 Anti-terrorism Act and Environmentalists

Fourteen years ago in Operation Kabriole, the RCMP blew up an oil installation in Alberta to establish the credibility of one of their undercover informants investigating tarsands sabotage. In a nice touch, Alberta Energy Company, now Encana, were in on the deal and flew in an expert to explain to alarmed local residents at an AEC townhall that they had been the victims of 'eco-terrorists'. 

Prior to the Vancouver Olympics and the 2010 G8/G20, the RCMP embarked on one of the largest domestic intelligence operations in Canadian history.   Their target :
"grievances are based upon notions/expectations regarding the environment, animal rights, First nations' resource-based grievances, gender/racial equality, and distribution of wealth, etc."
Infiltration of community groups by undercover officers resulted in a colour-coded database for suspects - "Suspect (Red); Person of Interest (Orange); and Associate (Yellow)"  - that was still being maintained 18 months after the world leaders left Toronto.

In 2012 environmentalists were understandably pissed at being lumped in with white supremacists among the listed "issue-based" terrorist threats in Canada's new counter-terrorism strategy :  Building Resilience Against Terrorism :
"...domestic extremism that is “based on grievances – real or perceived – revolving around the promotion of various causes such as animal rights, white supremacy, environmentalism and anti-capitalism."
Notice "First nations"(sic) were struck off the new list but the word "Terrorism" has been added as the reason for the list.

"The RCMP has labelled the “anti-petroleum” movement as a growing and violent threat to Canada’s security, raising fears among environmentalists that they face increased surveillance, and possibly worse, under the Harper government’s new terrorism legislation."
Quite. Bill C-51 with its new engorged mandate to act against “activity that undermines the security of Canada”.  Will you be afforded a warrant to go with that? Not necessarily.
"In highly charged language that reflects the government’s hostility toward environmental activists, an RCMP intelligence assessment warns that foreign-funded groups are bent on blocking oil sands expansion and pipeline construction, and that the extremists in the movement are willing to resort to violence."
So while Steve distracts us all with his imflamatory remarks about needing “sweeping new powers” to fight Islamists and "the international Jihadist movement" :
“They have declared war on anybody who does not think and act exactly as they wish they would think and act,” Harper said
... environmentalists note that the legislation could be used on them, and the rest of us think that his remarks about Jihadists are a pretty good summation of his apparent declaration of war on the rest of us. 
Back to G&M :
“These kind of cases involving environmental groups – or anti-petroleum groups as the RCMP likes to frame them – are really the sharp end of the stick in terms of Bill C-51,” said civil liberties lawyer Paul Champ
Or as former CSIS officer Francois Lavigne - a self-confessed "former barnburner" himself - put it four days ago : 
“I have never seen the RCMP and CSIS have such a cosy relationship with government,” he said. “They’re not supposed to be.”
RCMP spokesman Sergeant Greg Cox insisted the Mounties do not conduct surveillance unless there is suspicion of criminal conduct - having apparently forgotten all about their colour-coded database for people with "notions/expectations regarding the environment."

The RCMP report then wanders bizarrely off into language treating anthropogenic climate change as some kind of hoax perpetrated by enviros. Greenpeace quotes from it :
"NGOs such as Greenpeace, Tides Canada and Sierra Club Canada, to name a few, assert climate change is now the most serious global threat, and that climate change is a direct consequence of elevated anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions which, they believe, are directly linked to the continued use of fossil fuels…. 
Research and analysis done in support of ongoing RCMP criminal investigations shows that those involved in the anti-Canadian petroleum movement have an interest in drawing public attention to, and building recognition of, the perceived environmental threat from the continued use of fossil fuels. 
The publicizing of these concerns has led to significant, and often negative, media coverage surrounding the Canadian petroleum industry. The use of social media, including the use of live-streaming, provides the anti-petroleum movement the ability to by-pass the traditional news networks, to control and craft its message, and to promote a one-sided version of the actual events, leading to broadly based anti-petroleum opposition.” (emphasis added). 
So while you're watching Steve furiously waving his C-51Jihadi puppethand about, keep a closer eye on what his other C-51 oilhand is doing.

Apologies for not posting from the original RCMP docs - neither the G&M nor Greenpeace have released them. When they do, I'll amend the post.

Update : DeSmogBlog has it! : RCMP Critical Infrastructure Intelligence Assessment
Criminal Threats to the Canadian Petroleum Industry   2014-01-24

Plus : Radio Canada International interview with Keith Stewart of Greenpeace on the above doc

Update : Press Progress : 9 weirdest things about this RCMP intelligence report on the "anti-petroleum movement"

Monday, February 09, 2015

The new Anti-terrorism and the new *anti-Semitism*

Six months ago while Israel's Protective Edge was reducing 100,000 homes in Gaza to rubble, a delegation of Canadian Conservative and Liberal MPs and senators flew to Israel to demonstrate their support ... for Israel. Here they are shown leading a singalong at a Canada Israel Solidarity Rally at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem. 
There were speeches.

"The book of dealing with terrorism is being written here in Israel," said the mayor of Jerusalem in his speech to the rally. "Terror is not just Israel's problem; it's a problem for democracies around the world."

In her speech, the Canadian Ambassador to Israel repeated Harper's phrase : "Canada stands with Israel through fire and water", while John Baird delivered a pre-recorded message of support about "standing shoulder to shoulder with Israel" and "doing the right thing".

Three weeks ago Baird was in the West Bank getting egged and in Jerusalem updating the 2014 "Memorandum of Understanding between Canada and Israel regarding a Canada-Israel Strategic Partnership". From one of the new Canada-Israel 2015 MOUs signed January 18 :
  • Reaffirming their dedication to the shared values of freedom of expression and assembly, democracy, and the rule of law
  • Deeply concerned by efforts to single out the State of Israel for criticism and isolate the State of Israel internationally including calls for a boycott of the State of Israel, for the divestment of investments, and for sanctions to be imposed on Israel
  • Recognizing that the selective targeting of Israel reflects the new face of anti‑Semitism

On the same day on their website, Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada addressed the new MOU and "the challenge posed by terrorism", including more "standing with Israel through fire and water" and concluding  :
"Whether the fight against violent extremism is conducted over the skies of Iraq or in the tunnels under Gaza, Canada and the State of Israel are fighting enemies whose hateful ideologies and goals threaten all peaceful, democratic societies. That’s why we are committed to enhancing our collaboration on security and defence, especially in the increasingly important area of cyber-security."
Concern has already been voiced over whether the new Anti-terrorism Act 2015 can or will be used to attack or chill pipeline protest, given one definition of "activities" included in the Act is (f) "interference with critical infrastructure".  

But given :
  • the Cons' unhinged devotion to Israel, 
  • the Libs' stated intention to vote in favor of Bill C-51 to pass the Anti-terrorism Act, and
  • the 2015 Canada/Israel MOU's language targeting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and once again conflating *selective* criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, 
will part (i) below in the anti-terrorism bill be used to advance clandestine activity against critics of Israel's occupation policies? Page 3 : 

From Part One : Security of Canada Information Sharing Act
"An Act to encourage and facilitate information sharing between Government of Canada institutions in order to protect Canada against activities that undermine the security of Canada"
"Whereas Canada is not to be used as a conduit for the carrying out of activities that undermine the security of another state"
and where the last of nine definitions of "activities" is : 
(i) an activity that takes place in Canada and undermines the security of another state
Con terrorism logic here could conceivably argue that criticism of Israel is helping the terrorists, therefore it becomes a terrorism/boosterism issue - another possible use of an expanded secret police force with scant oversight and the power to break the law and violate the Charter.

G&M editorial : Anti-terrorism bill will unleash CSIS on a lot more than terrorists
"Bill C-51 is not an anti-terrorism bill".

The Star : Bill C-51: Tories cynically surf panic wave for political ends

Craig Forcese on vid

The Tyee : Elizabeth May : Harper's Police State Law

Typo fixed; h/t Waterbaby

Friday, February 06, 2015

Won't you please give until it hurts ...

Susan Delacourt notes the Conservative Party of Canada is piqued that the "Ottawa media elite" have utterly failed to report just how rich their party is. The CPC success story of raising $20.1-million in party donations last year, including their 24% increase in donations and 28% rise in donors in the last quarter of 2013, has gone quite unremarked by the meanies in the lickspittle press. The fourth quarter, say the CPC in their letter to supporters below, was their best in a decade - which is pretty amazing all things considered. 

The only thing that will make them feel better is if you send them even more money :
"We simply cannot let the media elite and the opposition parties try to spin our victory into a loss. Help us fight back. Click here to make your contribution for 2015."

There is another campaign you might consider that won't cost you a dime.

h/t Trapped in a Whirlpool

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

CIMS nostalgia

Whoa, imagine finding this again!  An old CBC broadcast of CBC's Keith Boag being given a walk through CIMS with commentary from Michael Geist and Garth Turner. I've posted it twice over the years only to have it taken down at source. We'll see if it stays up this time.

First broadcast over seven years ago on Nov.21 2007, the report shows CPC Direct Voter Contact manager Andrew Harris explaining CIMS to Boag. Mr. Harris left the Cons' employ a year later and founded his own voter contact firm, Picea Partners in 2010.

Billed as "Canada's first and leading provider of Telephone Town Hall meetings", Picea did a tele-townhall in 2010 for by-election Vaughan candidate Julian Fantino, hosted by Senator Mike Duffy. They've also worked with Tim Hudak and the Ontario PC party, and more recently James Moore and Peter Kent. The governments of Canada, Alberta, and New Brunswick are listed as clients.

On their North American direct marketing and sales page, Picea boasts of "25 billion records from hundreds of different sources" :
"We gather data from real estate and income tax assessments, voter registration, hydro & gas connections, bill processors, and other sources before we output our lists to ensure quality and accuracy for your campaign."
Their "wide variety of targeting options" includes "Age, Estimated Household Income, Marital Status, Gender, Home Value, Ethnicity, and more".


"you can export data out of CIMS, load it into NationBuilder, interact with people, and then load that data back into CIMS"
the Cons might have actually built that "political super-weapon" they bragged about in the last election.

h/t Waterbaby for new link to CIMS broadcast.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Monument to Victims of Communism ... and friends

Not a week goes by recently without an editorial reacting to Tribute to Liberty's proposed Monument to the Victims of Communism with a loud WTF? Here's the latest one from the G&M : New Victims of Communism memorial in Ottawa a looming disaster
"Only a fool would deny that millions have been the tragic victims of communism, but that number pales, surely, in comparison with the victims of capitalism."
And here, in case you haven't seen it, is the winning submission for the Monument : 

With $3-million from the federal government on donated land valued at $1-million across from the Supreme Court and announced in the 2010 Speech from the Throne, Harper and Kenney were ground level supporters - presumably due to their oft-sited statistic that one quarter of Canadians are survivors or relatives of survivors of communism.

Media Co-op, Sept 2013 : Government has close ties to 'victims of communism' monument project
"The leader of a group receiving $1.5 million [now up to$3M] in federal funds to build a monument to victims of communism says Canada's Prime Minister and Minister for Multiculturalism have been part of the project from the start – a role uncommon for politicians in the creation of public monuments.

“True inspiration comes directly from the PM,” Tribute to Liberty Chair Ludwik Klimkowski told the Toronto Media Co-op in a recent phone interview. “It was Stephen Harper’s idea of recognizing the contribution of people who came from communist countries.”
Klimkowski also said Tribute to Liberty “has its beginnings in 2008 when [Multiculturalism Minister] Jason Kenney was visiting a memorial erected by another group,” but declined to answer further questions about the politicians’ histories with the organization."
I wonder what that 'other memorial erected by another group' might be?

The US Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation boasted George W Bush as Honorary Chair from 2003 - 2009 and Grover Norquist as a Principal Officer. 
Bush dedicated the US Victims of Communism Memorial in June 2007. 
The foundation's chair, Dr. Lee Edwards, is also Chairman of the Board of the Global Museum on Communism.

In 2008, the three founders of the Canadian Tribute to Liberty were :
  • Philip Leong : Honorary Patron of TtL, now VP and Director at RBC.  In 2012 John Baird and Ed Fast appointed him to the APEC Business Advisory Council.
  • Alide Forstmanis : former Canadian Alliance Party field organizer; TtL Chair from 2008 - 2012.  Quote :  "the Cold War victory remains incomplete..." In 2009, she wrote in the Western Standard Shotgun Blog, former home of Ezra : "there will be no public money going toward having the memorial built". Well, that was then.
In 2009, after Harper had written to Kenney assuring his support for the monument, the National Capital Commission, an advisory board on commissions to the parliamentary grounds, suggested changing the name of the monument : 
"It’s not communism itself that we should be fighting here. It is rather totalitarianism we are against in any form."
Well, that didn't fly and ultimately the government also ignored the majority of the commission's choice of design for the monument. The monument's footprint is to be in place in time for the October election; it has the backing of all four of the major parties.

Meanwhile regarding victims closer to home, Stephen Harper told Peter Mansbridge in December re missing and murdered aboriginal women that : "… it isn't really high on our radar, to be honest."


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