The Shotgun Blog
Saturday, April 30, 2005
Trust in the electorate
Timely Medical Alternatives
Step right up, and get your operation now, folks!
Keeping Sponsorship In Perspective
Just a reminder of where Gomery fits in the grand scheme of things...
And that doesn't include Indian Affairs or Crown Corporations - also off-limits to the AG.
There's no fear that Gomery will "whitewash" his report. Gomery is the whitewash.
Andrew loves Paul, - Not!
Andrew Coyne gives us his latest take on PM PM at
Oil-For-Food Touches Sask Wheat Pool
The Saskatchewan Wheat Pool has emerged as one of the companies involved in Iraq oil- for-food deals now under investigation by a U.S. congressional committee probing the United Nations aid program, which Saddam Hussein manipulated to skim off billions of dollars for himself.
The focus on the company comes as the UN announced Friday it had discovered a staff-rule violation by Canadian businessperson and international diplomat Maurice Strong, whose long record at the world body is being reviewed after he, too, was recently swept up in the swirl of oil-for-food allegations and inquiries.
Six U.S. congressional committees and the UN itself are investigating the $50.92-billion program following allegations of mismanagement and corruption that helped Saddam siphon off funds through kickbacks and other forms of manipulation. A U.S. federal investigation is also underway in New York, and has already issued several indictments.
The congressional hearing in which the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool was mentioned Thursday saw BNP Paribas, the bank the UN used to broker deals in the oil-for-food program, acknowledge it improperly made 403 payments to third parties or their banks rather than to companies approved by the UN to deliver goods for Iraq.
Four of those payments are listed as going to the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool from 1999- 2000, total value $23.15 million, and another two went to a Canadian-registered company called Limpex Trading in 2001, total value $124.1 million.
No allegation of corruption has surfaced, but congressional officials want to know more about the payments.
All those folks who bailed on their SWP shares 10 days ago will be feeling pretty lucky, I think.
update - I crossposted this to small dead animals where a couple of commentors have been googling up info on Limpex Trading like mad things...
update #2 - Background links
uswheat.org: " Saddam Hussein forbade any purchases of U.S. wheat in 1998, others had a virtual lock on the closed market, working through the Oil for Food Program"
From an article on the investigation into involvement by the Australian Wheat Board - "everyone who participated in this program benefited. You were not a player unless you were giving something to Saddam."
Victor Davis Hanson on not being liked, and why it's "often reason to be proud"
America should not gratuitously welcome such dislike; but we should not apologize for it either. Sometimes the caliber of a nation is found not in why it is liked, but rather in why it is not. By January 1, 1941, I suppose a majority on the planet - the Soviet Union, all of Eastern Europe, France, Italy, Spain, and even many elsewhere in occupied Europe, most of Latin America, Japan and its Asian empire, the entire Arab world, many in India - would have professed a marked preference for Hitler's Germany over Churchill's England.
Friday, April 29, 2005
Laurie Hawn, prospective candidate to defeat Anne McLellan, has a very optimistic post on his blog http://strongandfree.blogspot.com/ .
Twelve Feet Under
And you thought lining up at the Home Depot checkout seemed like an eternity.
Coleman Vs Volcker
Senator Norm Coleman, Chairman of the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has plans to subpeona the two lead Oil-For-Food investigators who resigned from Volcker's committee.
Volker has directed them not to testify. Coleman is not amused.
I spoke with Mr. Volcker yesterday and expressed my grave and growing concerns about the credibility and independence of the investigation into the criminal misconduct that occurred in the U.N. Oil-for-Food program. Robert Parton and Miranda Duncan's resignation from the Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC), and a lack of adequate explanation for their departure, only fuels concerns about the credibility of the IIC led by Mr. Volcker. His refusal to permit Mr. Parton and Ms. Miranda to cooperate with the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation (PSI) cannot stand. I have directed staff to issue subpoenas as soon as possible to Mr. Parton and Ms. Miranda to compel them to cooperate with PSI investigators. In order to preserve public confidence in the IIC investigation and the United Nations, it is vital to hear from these two individuals immediately.
With the expectation of many more polls to sift through in the coming weeks, I would recommend the blog Mystery Pollster for background on the science and manipulation of polling. It's a US based site, so don't expect to see any discussion of Canadian pollsters - the reason I recommend it is to give average readers an insight into how these things work, and why it is not "ostrich" behavior to take a hard look at both the political leanings of media pollsters and their methodology - especially when polls break from seemingly established patterns.
Pied Piper Of 24 Sussex
Maurice Strong's World Network, Con't
As American publications continue to dig, Mr. Strong is becoming less and less mysterious.
This story has CBC Fifth Estate written all over it.
More at CBC Watch
One Hour, Twelve Minutes
Your Official Election Countdown Vote Buying Meter:
756m plus... stay tuned
The Darfur slaughter as seen by children
Human Rights Watch researchers gave children at a mission along the Chad-Sudan border paper and crayons "to keep them occupied" and did not give them any "instruction or guidance." HRW reports that, "the children drew scenes from their experiences of the war in Darfur: the attacks by the Janjaweed, the bombings by Sudanese government forces, the shootings, the burning of entire villages, and the flight to Chad." The pictures can be seen here and more about the Darfur Drawn project can be found here.
Liberating Conservative Voices
Daniel Henninger on the rise of conservative media in the US in the wake of Ronald Reagan's dismantling of the "Fairness Doctrine" in media.
Ronald Reagan tore down this wall in 1987 (maybe as spring training for Berlin) and Rush Limbaugh was the first man to proclaim himself liberated from the East Germany of liberal media domination.
It wasn't obvious that conservatives soon would dominate talk radio. Radio programming has always been a soulless decision based on ratings. If programmers thought they could win the drive-time slots with Don Imus reading "Das Kapital," that would be on the air and advertisers would support it. But it's not.
What worked after speech became free in the spectrum ozone was hyper-articulate conservative hosts opening their microphones to millions of hyper-angry conservative voters--not least in such liberal bastions as New York, Boston, and Los Angeles.
In 1994, Newt Gingrich, his Contract With America and the Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives for the first time since 1952--the years in which the Fairness Doctrine largely kept politics off the air. This didn't happen because the Gingrich candidates were getting their message out in the Los Angeles Times or Boston Globe.
The Cedar Revolution Is Over
And George W. Bush.
GM food safer for farmers
The Guardian has a short article on the up-side of genetically modified foods including reduced use of pesticides and fewer pesticide-related illnesses.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Canada did something right at the UN
The BBC reports on the controversy of egregious human rights abusers, namely Zimbabwe, sitting on the international body's Human Rights Commission. Two items worth noting in this article.
1. Canada joined Australia and the United States in opposing Zimbabwe's membership on the HRC.
2. Zimbabwe was nominated by the African delegations as their representative.
So, we now know that Buzz squeezed Jack who squeezed Paul who squeezed Ralph.
Meanwhile, across the Dominion, political cartoonists were doodling with "sandwich" sketches that they knew would never see the light of day.
A non-denominational chaplain named Mohammad?
The Toronto Sun reports that "a volunteer chaplain with Toronto Police has been relieved from duty after being charged with forcible confinement and sexual assault of a woman he was counselling. " The chaplain's name is Mohammad Shahied Shaikh so I'm going to presume he's Muslim although this is a detail the story doesn't mention. Isn't the faith a relevant detail? You can be sure if it was Fr. Smith, the chaplain's Catholicity would be noted in the headline (instead of 'Police chaplain charged with sex assault') or at the very least, in the lead.
Dear Mr Blair
I CANNOT begin to explain my emotions, after over five decades of personally fighting for and promoting democracy and human rights, to witness a nation take its first steps towards a dream. Now the democratically-elected parliament has honoured me, a Kurd, with the post of Presidency. This is a symbol of the promise, integration and unity of the new Iraq.
Let nobody mislead you, the Iraq that we inherited in April 2003, following the British and American-led liberation, was a tragedy. The Ba’athist criminals had starved the country of an infrastructure and the people of their freedom. Apart from the Kurdish safe haven, Iraq was a playground for thugs and a prison for the innocent. Saddam’s war against the Iraqi people was on-going; we have evidence which demonstrates that the regime was executing its challengers until the last days of its rule.
It was that war, lasting almost forty years, which was the true war of Iraq.
We have all heard of the genocide, gassing, ethnic cleansing, mass murder and the environmental vandalism of the territory of Iraq’s historic Marsh Arabs. We understand that there is no turning the clock back. Instead, we press ahead with democratisation and justice. Unfortunately, Saddam’s former henchmen and religious extremist associates have chosen to fight their losing battle, which in turn has made post-liberation Iraq less stable than we would have wished.
Yet true Iraqis have largely shunned the terrorists, and their cowardly acts are increasingly becoming limited and confined to certain areas. Millions of brave Iraqis defy terrorism and reject dictatorship every day, without fuss, and certainly without attention from the television cameras.
We undertake to rebuild a shattered country scarred by decades of tyranny. With unwavering resolve we support plurality, egalitarianism, and the political process. Building a democratic federal Iraq is a difficult, and slow, but rewarding process. Those who doubt the swiftness of transition must keep in mind that a state such as Iraq is a cultural, ethnic and linguistic mosaic that was only ever held together by brute force, thus, political speed can kill. Nevertheless, January saw Iraq’s first free and open general election, leading to the first democratically-elected government of our desolate history.
Yet our struggle for a better, emancipated Iraq is only due to the consistent and unwavering support of Prime Minister Blair, the British people, and the coalition of the willing. For many Iraqis, the positive role that Britain has played is a welcome change. From our colonial master, Britain has become our democratic guardian.
In 1991 I saw at first hand how Prime Minister John Major, fresh from the liberation of Kuwait, bravely led the way in implementing a safe-haven for Iraqi Kurdistan. For 12 years, heroic RAF pilots, with the support of neighbouring Turkey, flew in Kurdish skies to prevent Saddam from completing the anti-Kurdish genocide that he had started in 1987. We were finally able to start rebuilding the 4,500 villages destroyed by Saddam’s regime and to begin the process of nurturing civil society and democracy.
And now thanks to Prime Minister Blair’s courageous and principled decisions, we can recreate this throughout Iraq.
Of course the liberation of Iraq has been controversial, as all wars should be. Sadly in this case, war was not the “best” option, it was the only option.
Under Saddam, war was never controversial, never discussed, simply ordered and executed by him and his thugs.
Iraqis sometimes wonder in amazement what the debate abroad is about. Why do people continue to ask why no WMD was found? The truth is that Saddam had, in the past, used chemical and biological weapons against his own people, and we believed he would do so again. Of course Saddam himself was, in the view of those who opposed him, Iraq’s most dangerous WMD.
Instead of continually focusing on the negative, the British, who will soon commemorate the 60th anniversary of VE day, should know that in the eyes of the majority of Iraqis, it was you who brought us our own victory day. Britain should be proud that the liberation of Iraq has in our eyes been one of your finest hours.
History will judge Prime Minister Blair as a champion against tyranny. Of that I have no doubt.
We are not reticent about expressing our great thanks to the British people and paying homage to tragic British losses. Every Iraqi family, in fact, has lost a loved one because of Saddam. Every Iraqi understands the pain of conflict, the grief that accompanies war. We honour those who sacrificed their lives for our liberation. We are determined out of respect to create a tolerant and democratic Iraq, an Iraq for all the Iraqi people. It will take time and much patience, but I can assure you it will be worth while, not only for Iraq, but for the whole of the Middle East.
A healthcare system to die for
The Toronto Sun reported today:
"The Coroner's office is investigating the death of a 2-year-old who died waiting to be seen by doctors in the emergency department at Toronto East General Hospital. D'Aundre was vomiting and had diarrhea on Sunday. When his condition didn't improve, his parents took him to the hospital at 5:30 a.m. Monday.
After an hour waiting to see a doctor, D'Aundre -- who was in his father's arms -- stopped breathing, his jaw locked and his eyes rolled back in his head, his grandmother said yesterday.
... Emergency department staff said D'Aundre was dehydrated when he was brought to the hospital, according to the family.
'If they thought he was dehydrated, why didn't they give him an IV,' .... D'Aundre's grandmother said."
Unintentional Paper Shredding
Kofi Annan is acting suspiciously like a man preoccupied with the hand that is firmly wrapped around the family jewels.
Secretary General Kofi Annan said Thursday that he had decided there were no grounds for disciplining his former chief of staff, Iqbal Riza, who was criticized by the independent committee investigating the oil-for-food program for ordering the shredding of three years of files.
"While those actions were careless, I do not believe they can be construed as deliberate attempts to impede the work of the independent inquiry committee," Mr. Annan said April 19 in a letter to Mr. Riza that was released Thursday. His reference was to the panel headed by Paul A. Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman. "I accept your apology and assure you that I still have great faith in your professionalism and well- known integrity," the letter continued.
I wonder what Riza has on him.
Election drinking game
Over at Grumpy Young Crank my friend Eli Schuster has come up with an election drinking game. Among the phrases to which one would lift a glass: Paul Martin saying "Let me be perfectly clear" or "hidden agenda," Stephen Harper saying "Liberal corruption" or "fiscal imbalance," and Jack Layton saying "Canadians sent us here to get something done" or "corporate tax cuts." Eli invites readers to add their own.
Austin Bay on The Next Failed State.
Take this poll with a grain of salt
A GPC Research poll conducted Monday through Wednesday finds that the Liberals are ahead of the Conservatives nationally by 2pts (27%-25%). I find this hard to believe and not just because the Liberals have regained the lead (which I predicted they eventually would do) but because the NDP are tied nationally with the Bloc at 11% and the Green Party at 8%. This buggers credibility.
Arms Sales to Israel
I was reading Lebanon's Daily Star today and came across a story that says the United States is planning on selling 'bunker busters' to Israel.
"The United States plans to sell Israel 100 of its most effective bombs designed to destroy deep underground facilities, despite growing concern in the Middle East the Jewish state might resort to military strikes to halt Iran's nuclear program, U.S. defense officials said late Wednesday."
"The GBU-28, which Washington is planing to sell to Israel, is a 2.2-ton, laser-guided, conventional munition equipped with a powerful warhead that can burrow through more than six meters of concrete and up to 30.5 meters of hard ground. "
"Experts believe GBU-28 "bunker busters" are the only existing conventional munitions that could be effective against Iran's underground uranium enrichment facility."
I personally think this is a good move by the Americans and Israel. They are sending a clear message to Iran, telling them that they might as well make a deal with the European Union and come to a peaceful solution, because one way or another your nuclear program is going to be shut down.
crossposted to canadiancomment
What's American for queue?
Oh, yeah, as Mark Steyn has repeatedly said, the idea of waiting lines for healthcare in the United States is ... well ... just not part of the policy lexicon down there. David Limbaugh notes:
"As most of you must know by now, our friend and radio talk show host Laura Ingraham was diagnosed with breast cancer late last week and had surgery yesterday, which, in the words of her surgeon, 'couldn't have gone better'."
Even if this is atypical, it would be unheard of in Canada. If Ingraham lived in Canada, she'd have how many weeks to wait between the diagnosis and surgery? (And before that, between the visit to her GP and the specialist?)
Even Canada's nutty Supreme Court found the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission's lawsuit over the word "kemosabe" too ridiculous to hear, and that's saying something.
The question here isn't "is kemosabe offensive?" or "was this woman's feelings hurt?" or "should the law on the Lone Ranger be clarified?"
It's: Why do we have these human rights commissions at all? They're like the Toronto Star editorial board, but with the force of the law behind them. Terrifying.
Just in time for Paul Martin and Jack Layton to be sealing their devil's pact, I find this editorial from the Fraser Institute about how much tax we Canadians pay in an average year. Enjoy the tax-deadline weekend, y'all.
The reality is that income taxes form only a portion of the total tax bill imposed on us by Canadian governments - federal, provincial and local. Last year, the average Canadian family consisting of two or more people earned approximately $75,400 in income, and paid $12,300 in income taxes. Personal income taxes, however, only represent about one-third of the total tax bill of Canadians.
Two other significant taxes that Canadians deal with on their tax returns are the Canada Pension Plan (CPP)—Quebec Pension Plan if you’re a resident of la belle province—and Employment Insurance (EI). For one reason or another, Canadians are forced to prove that they paid the correct amount of CPP and EI at income tax time. In addition, residents of British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec, also pay health care taxes through either direct premiums or payroll taxes. All told, the average Canadian family paid some $7,800 in CPP, EI, and health taxes in 2004.
There are two other relatively visible taxes that Canadians pay, thankfully not at the same time as our income tax bill: property taxes and sales taxes. The average Canadian family paid about $2,800 in property taxes in 2004. One of the common misnomers is that only homeowners pay property taxes. The truth of the matter is that property taxes for renters are included in their monthly rent, so in one way or another we all pay property taxes. For homeowners, at least the cost of property taxes is transparent since we each receive an annual bill.
Sales taxes are visible whenever we make a purchase upon which the tax is implied. It is, however, difficult, if not impossible, given the costs of tracking just how much we pay in sales taxes over the course of a year. Our estimates indicate that the average Canadian family pays about $6,000 a year in sales taxes, representing nearly 16 percent of their total tax bill. Sales taxes are second only to income taxes as the single largest government levy.
In addition to personal income taxes, payroll taxes, property taxes, and sales taxes, which are all visible to a certain degree, there are a host of taxes that Canadians pay, but do not see. For instance, profit taxes amounting to approximately $3,000 in 2004 were assessed indirectly on average Canadian families. Taxes on liquor, tobacco, and amusement amounted to $2,400 for the average Canadian family, while automobile and gas taxes totalled a little over $1,000. Finally, average Canadian families were assessed about $284 in import duties in 2004, another cost which is not easily discernable.
Summed up, the average Canadian family faced a tax bill of $36,782 in 2004 against income of $75,436. The total taxes imposed on the average Canadian family consumed nearly 49 percent of income. In other words, average Canadian families hand over nearly half of their income to Canadian governments.
If you actually have anything left after filing your taxes, please remember to donate to the Conservatives before May 1st, so that the Blogging Tories can make their goal of $10,000 raised. Thanks.
Lorne Calvert Pardons Devine Government
In a statement Thursday, Saskatchewan NDP premier Lorne Calvert acknowledged that the criminal prosecution of former members of the government of Grant Devine was politically motivated. He said his government is going to issue a full pardon, and an apology to the members of the now defunct Progressive Conservative party who were prosecuted, some of whom served jail time.
(The massive scandal of the 1990's centered on abuse of members communications allowances and involved thousands of dollars - the misappropriation of funds included such outrages as the purchase of computer software and speakers podiums for constituency offices.)
"It was never about the money they stole," Calvert acknowledged. "We really don't have any problems at all with corruption in government. None at all, actually. It's just the cost of doing business, as far as the New Democratic Party is concerned."
Calvert added, "it's about what's good for the party. In our case, it was good for the NDP to prosecute the Progressive Conservatives, good for our political fortunes in the province. As the years have passed, we've turned that old dead horse into a political drum skin."
"Bottom line - corruption and misuse of public funds isn't really an issue with our government. A hundred thousand, a hundred million - the figures really don't mean much. What matters is the optics and how the corruption can be leveraged to the advantage of the party. In the case of the Martin Liberals, we may be able to wrangle a better deal on equalization, so obviously, we've given our full support to Jack Layton's deal to prop up the Martin government."
[T]omorrow night in the city of brotherly love, Mr. Chrétien -- accompanied by two RCMP officers decked out in their red serge dress uniforms -- will receive an award as a global role model from a gay and lesbian activist group, the Equality Forum, for his support of same-sex marriage.
On Sunday, the two Mounties -- one male, one female on assignment with the government-supported Canadian Tourism Commission -- will accompany Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell, the first gay couple to be married in Canada, as they receive a "hero award" from the forum.
This is a job for juxtapose!
The United States wants to give two teams of Canadian snipers the Bronze Star, a decoration for bravery, for their work in rooting out Taliban and al-Qaeda holdouts in eastern Afghanistan, but Canadian defence officials put the medals on hold, the National Post has learned.
The five snipers spent 19 days fighting alongside the scout platoon of the United States Army's 187th "Rakkasan" brigade last month, clearing out diehard fighters from the mountains near Gardez in eastern Afghanistan.
The Americans were so impressed by the Canadian snipers that they recommended them for medals after the battle.
Sources told the Post that U.S. General Warren Edwards had already signed the recommendation for five Bronze Stars for the sniper teams, drawn from 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, last month.
Gen. Edwards, deputy commanding general of coalition land forces in Afghanistan, had recommended three Canadians for a Bronze Star and two for a Bronze Star with distinction.
The night before the troops were to be awarded the medals, about three weeks ago, Canadian military officials in Ottawa put the decorations on hold, according to a U.S. Army source in Afghanistan.
The Canadian military told their U.S. counterparts to wait before awarding the medals for reasons of "Canadian protocol."
Spokesmen for the Department of National Defence would not comment on the award last night, but a source within the department said the medals are on hold while the military decides whether or not to award the men a similar Canadian decoration.
However, Dr. David Bercuson, director of the Centre of Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary, said the real reason for the delay was likely official squeamishness.
What a pathetic excuse for a country we live in.
Another "values" campaign
[originally posted to Daimnation!]
Paul Martin is musing about another election campaign in which the Tories will be portrayed as eeeeevil neoconservatives out to destroy everything true Canadians hold dear. Just like 2000 and 2004, in other words:
Speaking at his Langevin Block office across from Parliament Hill, where he conducted a whole range of back-to-back media interviews yesterday, Martin offered sneak peeks into how he plans to fight an election when his government falls.
It's not an academic question: Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said yesterday that he's ready to provoke a collapse of the government. In many ways, Martin appears to be envisioning a replay of last year's campaign — or at least the last two weeks of it, when Liberals rebounded from almost-inevitable defeat to shaky survival, largely by becoming the underdog and portraying a Harper government as a threat to health care and Canadian social values.
The only differences this time, the Prime Minister signalled yesterday, is that education will replace health care as the big-ticket item and that Martin believes the differences between Liberals and Conservatives will be even more sharply defined.
"I can tell you in terms of the next election campaign, we've set out that areas like education are going to be very important to us," Martin said.
"It may well be (a replay), but it's being brought into even sharper focus. If the Conservatives vote against child care, that's an indication of their values. If the Conservatives vote against climate change, that's an indication of their values. If the Conservatives vote against a budget which is fiscally responsible and which essentially fulfills the government's objectives because in fact what the Conservatives want to do is to play partisan politics with the Bloc Québécois, that is the perspective of their objectives," he said.
Canadians know what they're getting with the Liberals, Martin said, because this year's budget laid it out in some detail. That budget, though, is in the midst of being adjusted as part of a new deal with the NDP.
"I mean our agenda is pretty clear. Canadians know exactly where we want to take the country and they know the fundamental differences between ourselves and Stephen Harper," Martin said.
Here's another reminder as to why the Liberals will be smearing the Tories instead of running on their own record:
Fictitious hourly charges, in some cases chalked up to employees who didn't exist for work that was never done, were used to pad his sponsorship bills to the federal government, a former ad company owner has testified.
Paul Coffin, president of Communication Coffin, said the padding was recommended by Chuck Guité, the bureaucrat who ran the program.
Asked whether he was told to provide fake invoices, Coffin admitted he was. Under sustained questioning from Justice John Gomery, he eventually said by whom: "It was Mr. Guité."
When Guité retired from the public service in 1999, Coffin contributed $500 to his farewell party. He also bought Guité's 26-foot Bayliner cruiser for $27,000.
And when he owed $5,900 to Guité for boating accessories like a generator and spare propeller, he told his friend to produce a bogus invoice. "I probably told him `send me a bill ... for the amount of the money owing to you and just put down the name of one of my clients and I will be able to put it through my books as an office expense,'" he said.
Coffin also hired Guité's company, Oro Communications, paying him $15,000 in the winter of 2000 to work on a sponsorship deal for a Trois-Rivières auto race. The project ultimately failed.
The inquiry also heard how Coffin's company profits suddenly doubled in 1998, after the bulk of the sponsorship commissions started rolling in. Those increased revenues resulted from dubious billing practices. Coffin admitted using "misnomers" to pad his invoices to the government so they would match amounts agreed upon beforehand.
He would also charge commissions on contracts where he did little more than hand off money to sub-contractors, and told how "production fees" came to encompass time spent at meetings, visiting sporting events and travelling with his wife.
In the nothing-surprises-me-anymore department, there's talk that Martin may dangle Senate appointments and patronage positions in front of Conservative and independent MPs, to increase his chances of passing the budget. I'm kind of surprised he hasn't offered me anything, to start writing nicer things about him. (It'll take one of these, Mr. Prime Minister.)
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
This week marks the fifth anniversary of the kidnapping of Elian Gonzalez from his Miami family by American agents doing the dirty work of the captain of the Island Gulag. Quid Nimis has a good post about it here looking at the BBC coverage. Say a prayer for Elian's mom Elizabet Brontons, who sacrificed her life for her son's liberty, a life lost in vain thanks to Janet Reno and Bill Clinton.
Liberals are all about keeping power
Would Martin stoop to doling out favours to keep power? Of course he would. One favour/buy-off would be handing out Senate appointments to Conservative or Bloc MPs. Burkean Canuck briefly explores the possibility of appointing opposition MPs to the upper chamber in order to survive a confidence vote although he seems to think that Martin is unlikely to try this. Still, it says something about the party-in-power-at-all-costs that we would even have to think about this.
Those Crazy Jews
Related: See Belmont Club, too.
Our new magazine, making its way to subscribers right now, is our best yet. Here's the cover:
Inside is a glossy 17" x 22" poster of The Libranos (the cover art without the headlines, and with fun fake movie "credits"), gorgeous artwork by Rob Kelly. Definitely a collector's item. It's huge. And check out Paul Martin's face.
The Western Standard is great to read online. But only our subscribers get the poster.
A story that burst briefly onto the blogosphere last summer has surfaced again.
The Homeland Security Department's inspector general is investigating an incident involving 14 Syrian passengers aboard a flight from Detroit to Los Angeles last summer described by many federal air marshals and passengers as a dry run for a terrorist attack.
The investigation began shortly after the June 29 incident, but did not become public until the final phase of the inquiry when passengers reported facing hours of questioning in March from inspectors. The interviewed passengers said the questioning by inspectors suggested the flight had faced a serious situation. Some federal officials have dismissed the incident and suggested passengers had overreacted and were never in danger.
Mrs. Jacobsen, a writer for womenswallstreet.com, said the 14 men traveling as musicians consecutively filed in and out of restrooms, stood nearly the entire flight in congregations, carried a McDonald's bag into the lavatory and passed it to other Syrians, and carried cameras and cellular phones to the restroom.
Just before landing, seven of the men stood in unison and went inside the restrooms. Upon returning to his seat, the last man mouthed the word "no" as he ran his finger across his throat.
At least four other passengers also were questioned, and learned from inspectors that the musicians from the terrorist-sponsor state of Syria had traveled back and forth across the country with one-way, cash-paid tickets, and entered the country on P-3 cultural visas. Two months prior to the flight, the FBI issued a warning that terrorists may be trying to enter the country under P-3 cultural or sports visas.
When the men were detained briefly for questioning after the flight, only two of the 14 were questioned and officials did not notice the men's visas had expired, inspectors said.
Ethnics loving their exploiters
Salim Mansur has a good column in the London Free Press on the ethnic vote (read: non-European immigrant vote) and its effects on politics. Mansur says:
"However noble the idea of multiculturalism was, and remains, its politics was invariably bent to suit the electoral requirements of the Liberal party, which was losing ground in Western Canada and Quebec.
Moreover, the inherent paradox of multiculturalism is its loosening effect on national identity, of assisting the forces of fragmentation rather than binding a country already weakened by the politics of regionalism and separatism."
That is, it is not immigration but rather politics that feed into a ethnic spoils system, is harming Canada and all this is done to keep the Liberals in power. Unfortunately, the ethnic vote doesn't even realize -- or, at the very least, is willing to tolerate -- their exploiters. Mansur ends on a hopeful note that perhaps in the upcoming federal election, this "rule of ethnic voters supporting predominantly that party most opportunistically exploitative of ethnic voters" will be tested as never before. Let's hope so.
(Cross-posted at Sobering Thoughts)
Toronto cops to play PC police
The Toronto Star (and other media) highlighted comments made by new Toronto police chief Bill Blair on the city's diversity. The Star reports that the new chief "devoted a substantial part of his inaugral remarks to the city's diversity, which he described "not as a challenge but as an opportunity." But that paper is pre-occupied with race so perhaps celebrating Toronto's diversity wasn't really the focus of his inaugural comments but rather the media's priority. Then you read a little further along and find that Blair said:
"There is no greater challenge to our relationship with diverse communities than the corrosive issues of racism and racial bias. It will not be tolerated in the Toronto Police Service and must not be tolerated anywhere in our society."
So I guess we know why the city chose Blair for the post: political correctness is a prerequisite for top cop in Hog Town. Great. Now if only the police would work as hard against crime as Blair has indicated they will against racism, Toronto's streets might become a little safer for everybody -- including blacks and other visible minorities.
Right Talk Radio
I'll be a guest, along with Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters, on Jeff Goldstein and Bill Ardolino's Citizen Journalist Report tomorrow. The show begins at 3pm Eastern, and I'm scheduled for the second and third segments. You can listen live here. Guests phone in number is 1-866-884-8255 (I hope that works from Canada....)
How Does He Know?
Warren Kinsella made quite the assertion yesterday.
"This is true. He is correct. Thank you."
What was he confirming to be the truth?
WINDSOR, Ont. (CP) - Prime Minister Paul Martin says anyone found culpable in the sponsorship scandal should be punished severely but he doesn't believe his predecessor, Jean Chretien, knew anything about it.
"I don't believe that the former prime minister was knowledgeable,'' Martin said Tuesday.
Paul Martin states that he doesn't "believe" Jean Chretien "knew anything" about the corruption in the sponsorship program.
Warren Kinsella, staunch Chretien ally - the same Warren Kinsella who, as chief of staff for Public Works Minister David Dingwall, sent a memo advising the deputy minister to hire Chuck Guite - goes a significant distance further, by declaring that belief to be "correct".
Now, think about that for a moment.
As close as he was to his former Prime Minister, Warren Kinsella has never claimed psychic abilities. Nor has was he at Chretien's side 24 hours a day, listening in to every telephone call made and taken. No facts have been brought into evidence via Gomery or anyone else that have exonerated Jean Chretien. Quite the opposite - as the testimony continues, the scandal edges ever closer to the PMO.
At this stage of the investigation, the ability to state without qualification what Jean Chretien knew or didn't remains the domain of a privilaged few - those who had a unique perspective on the money laundering scheme.
I'll leave it to the reader to ponder what that perspective might be.
This ship leans to the right
I'm pleased to announce the maiden voyage of the Western Standard's Caribbean cruise!
Join conservative personalities like Ted & Virginia Byfield, John O'Sullivan, Lorne Gunter, Andrew Coyne, Colby Cosh, David Warren, Terry O'Neill and Western Standard staff for a week of great food, great beaches, great cities and great political conversation!
I attended the National Review's Caribbean cruise last November, and it was a great experience -- my favourite part was having dinner with a different NR personality each night. We're going to do that on our cruise, too. It's a great way to have real one-on-one time with some of Canada's leading writers and thinkers. There will also be fascinating panel discussions. And, of course, everything else there is to do aboard a luxurious cruise ship!
Check out the details here. It's not too early to sign up, because this cruise is already selling and it will sell out completely.
"Heads will turn"
Claudia Rosett in NY Sun: Rohrabacher To Probe Role Of French Bank
Tomorrow, the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing delving into some of the oil-for-food banking details. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican of California who will lead the hearing, expects that with some of the material due to be disclosed, "heads will turn."
Martin Distances Himself From Promise To NDP
Paul Martin was on John Gormley Live (650am Rawlco - Saskatoon) this morning via phone - briefly. He's learned to fill airtime with drawn out repetition to put off speaking to callers or facing new questions.
Early in the interview, he acknowledged that even with the support of Jack Layton his government's fate rests on the independants in parliament. Gormley did pin him down on one question, though - if the NDP demands for $4.6 billion in spending on social programs and the environment were valid, why wasn't the spending in the budget in the first place?
Martin replied that the NDP extortion was "simply an acceleration of the existing liberal government agenda" that adding it to the budget now was just "bringing it forward"...
Then - he added that the $4.6 billion "won't be spent unless we can be assured that at least 2 billion in debt can be brought down".
I wonder if Jack Layton knows this?
Oh, how times have changed...
Check out this video, courtesy of Tory nomination candidate Rick Fuschi.
More on that poll
Many will be tempted to slip into Chicken Little mode when the see the Globe's front-page story, mentioned by RightGirl below, headlined "54% in Quebec back sovereignty":
QUEBEC -- Support for sovereignty in Quebec has broken through the 50-per-cent barrier to its highest level since 1998 amid growing controversy over the sponsorship scandal.
A new poll shows 54 per cent of decided voters would support sovereignty in a referendum that offered an economic and political partnership with the rest of Canada -- the same question asked in the Oct. 30, 1995, referendum.
Polls over the past year asking similar questions showed support of between 44 and 49 per cent for sovereignty.
The question asked in the poll is the same one that was asked in 1995, meaning a wishy-washy, convoluted question.
Now, to be sure, this is not good news. That is a high number, and Leger is a respected polling firm.
But is it really that bad?
Read further down in the story (I wonder how many people ever do?) to get the big picture. For instance, we learn that:
When asked if by voting for sovereignty they still wanted Quebec to continue to be a part of Canada, 56 per cent of respondents said yes and 40 per cent responded no, with 4 per cent undecided.
Renewed federalism remained the preferred option for a sizable portion of the population, according to the poll, but voters are still deeply divided over the issue.
There you have it. Even at the height of this sponsorship scandal, 56% of Quebecers want to stay in Canada. As Sheila Copps said on CTV last weekend, the separatists don't have the guts to ask a real question on separatism. Because if they do, they won't win.
The Spin Begins
I can picture Paul Martin now, rubbing his hands together with glee. The polls are showing that support for Quebec sovereignty are up again. And of course, Paul will spin it that the Conservatives will let the country fall apart. He will pledge that if allowed to remain Prime Minister, he will create a fund to sponsor events in Quebec, in order to remind them that they are part of Canada. Maybe it will be called the Sponsorship Fund. Yeah, good title, he'll think. That'll work.
Support for sovereignty among Quebecers has surpassed 50 per cent, the highest level in the province in seven years, suggests a poll.
Conducted for the Globe and Mail and Le Devoir newspapers, the Léger Marketing poll showed 54 per cent of decided respondents supported sovereignty if it included an economic and political partnership with Canada.
That's the same question asked during the Oct. 30, 1995 referendum that saw Quebecers reject sovereignty by a slim margin – 50.6 per cent to 49.4 per cent.
However, it appears the rise in support for sovereignty is a reflection of anger towards the Liberals, said the Globe report.
Uh oh, Paul. Looks like it's your fault this time.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
The Trust Accounts
Former Liberal MP John Bryden must have been out of the loop, back in 2003.
Mr. Speaker, hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil, then maybe there is no evil.
I was very disappointed to learn that the committee dropped this section from Bill C-24, and I commend the member for Winnipeg Centre for trying to bring it back. What it does is provides an opportunity for the public to see what went on before, in riding associations especially, in terms of funds raised from large donors, particularly possibly corporations or any type of individual donor, and to see indeed inside these riding associations the size of contributions they have received.
Unfortunately, this motion and the original clause that was deleted do not address the question of separate trusts that MPs may have acquired, which is a whole other issue. I regret very much that when Bill C-24 passes, as far as I can see or determine, those MPs who have acquired trust accounts will be able to keep that money personally. [emphasis mine - ed]
I think the only benefit that will come to the general public is that the people who have secret trust accounts, personal trust accounts, will have to collapse them and take them into their personal incomes. The small benefit of that is at least the taxpayer will have a chance to charge them taxes. The fact they will be able to acquire that money and that we will never be able to know they had these trust accounts, I do not think is good enough.
A Liberal with principles it would seem. Small wonder he didn't fit in.
Not enough is being said about this, I think.
Looking at this issue the wrong way
A Swedish lesbian couple who were thrown out of a Stockholm restaurant in 2003 for kissing won an appeal on Monday against an earlier court ruling that cleared the restaurant owner of sexual discrimination.
While socially conservative-minded people are quite rightly upset about this, the issue is really not one about homosexuality but of respecting private property rights, in this case the rights of the restaurant owner. For as the story continues:
"[Restaurant owner Aziz] Cakir asked Anna Fernstrom and Susanne Gustafsson to leave his restaurant after they kissed and later told police he did not let anyone engage in such behavior on his premises regardless of their sexual orientation."
That is, Cakir would have asked anyone to leave his establishment which is his right. This little episode in Sweden further convinces me that the most important development that could lead to a more civil society is greater respect for private property rights.