Western Standard

The Shotgun Blog

« April 2006 |Main| June 2006 »

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Polygamy allowed ‘limited’ status

I was just channel surfing and came across the CBC’s 5th Estate doing a story on Winston Blackmore from the polygomous community of Bountiful, B.C. with the usual CBC stuff:

Hana Gartner sat down with the then-Bishop of Bountiful in an exclusive interview to talk about his life there, his 26 wives and 80 children, his faith, and allegations of child brides and of abuse in the church’s chapter in Canada.

Then low and behold this bit of breaking news:

The former Liberal government long maintained that polygamy is criminal in Canada but documents obtained by Sun Media under Access to Information show that polygamous marriages have been recognized “for limited purposes” to enforce the financial obligations of husbands.

Religious organizations say same-sex marriage opened the door to decriminalizing polygamy, and worry that formal recognitions of plural marriages will weaken the government’s ability to defend the anti-polygamy law if it faces a constitutional challenge on religious grounds. A polygamist from Bountiful, British Columbia has warned he will fight for his constitutional right to have plural wives on religious grounds. (h/t Cybermenace)

In the CBC documentary Winston Blackmore asks if its about sex, whats the difference between what he is doing and the legal wife swapping clubs? Remember the judges statement on that bit - Moral views, even if strongly held, do not suffice.

Winston’s lawyers are going to use the charter.

Posted by Darcey on May 31, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (24) | TrackBack

It's not just about kids and money, but about drugs and principles

I don't like to do this, but the twisted story is too long to summarize properly here, so I'm going to post a teaser and direct you to my blog if you want the full details.  Liberal leadership candidate Joe Volpe is under fire for accepting multiple cheques from three families for $5,400 each, the limit allowed.  Among the family members signing cheques are minors, and a lot is being said about how appropriate it is to accept a cheque from a minor.

What is lost in the clamour about Volpe playing fast and loose with the rules is that the families involved are headed by Bernard "Barry" Sherman of Apotex, a generic drug manufacturer.  Sherman and his brother-in-law (the patriarch of one of the other families cutting those cheques) have been partners in business and partners in crime.  Moreover, the Liberal Party has for over a decade played nice with the name-brand manufacturers (even though it required a huge flip-flop), Sherman's arch enemies.  Remember David Dingwall's lobbying fee scandal last year?  It's related.  And now Volpe is working for the other side?

The story is long and detailed, so if you want to know the story behind the story, check it out at Angry in the Great White North (sorry Ezra, I know you hate these teasers, but it's just too involved to summarize).  If nothing else, it confirms that when it comes to principles, or the lack of them, the Liberals haven't changed all that much.

Posted by Steve Janke on May 31, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Because it's for passing through ports, see?

This makes a modicum of sense:

American rules that will require travellers to have a passport to enter the country will strain Canada-U.S. relations more than softwood lumber or the mad cow crisis ever did, Manitoba Premier Gary Doer said Wednesday.

"I think it will be more of an irritant, because more people will be directly impacted," Doer said as he entered a meeting of North American leaders.

While issues such as the softwood lumber dispute affected specific industries, the passport issue has the potential to bug anyone who travels between the two countries [who for some reason forgot to bring his or her passport –ed.], Doer said.

"This will be much more of a people issue," he said. "Softwood lumber was a huge negative drift for five years, and it still remains a file that is going to be debated in this country in terms of what we received and what we gave up, but the border will be a populist issue for all Canadians and, I suggest, many Americans."

There's nothing in there to lose sleep over, but like I said — it's not completely nutso. Enter the McGuinty:

McGuinty has been pushing the idea of enhancing the security features of driver's licences so that they can be used as documentation for travellers.

"It's going to compromise our ability to continue to maintain a friendship that is not derived on the basis of eight-second sound bites that come from my prime minister or your president, but on the basis of me going across the border with my family and interacting with people on the other side and vice versa."

My position on this has only hardened since last I wrote about it: Anyone who has thought this through and determined that Driver's License 2.0 is the way to go either is simply trying to position himself in opposition to the Conservatives or is operating in a totally different universe than I am. A juiced up driver's license isn't going to help Americans and Canadians hold hands. It's not going to help anyone except politicians do anything other than expend titanic quantities of money.

• Tweaking the passport system, for example to increase the term of validity, allow renewals, boost capacity and speed, or reduce cost, involves one bureaucracy — the aptly named Passport Canada. Overhauling the driver's license would involve 15 bureaucracies: the Canadian and American federal governments, plus the 10 provincial and 3 territorial governments and their Ministries of Transport who (absurdly) all issue their own driver's licenses.

• Tweaking the passport system involves no consultation or R&D. If you want to increase the term of validity or lower the price, you just do it. If you want to boost capacity and speed, you hire more people and buy more, um, passport-making machines. Overhauling the driver's license would involve determining just what the Americans require — they themselves have little idea as yet — then determining how to meet those requirements, and then following through. The idea that the 15-Bureaucracy Model could complete that task before the day Canadians need enhanced ID to get into the US is 25-or-so parallels south of absurd.

• Relying on the passport is fiscally fair to Canadians, and just makes sense. Those with no intention of ever leaving Canada don't need one and won't be forced to pay for one. Juicing up the driver's license will pass the costs on to every Canadian driver, which makes no more sense than the idea that a driver's license could prove citizenship in the first place.

I'm willing to listen to valid arguments against the "get a damn passport" approach, but as this has yet to happen I'm not sure any exist. The "a passport is too big" complaint strikes me as a concern limited to those in the habit of crossing the border naked, clutching only a regulation-size wallet. Those who complain about the expense of a passport, meanwhile, seem to forget that a painfully low-tech driver's license renewal (in Ontario at least) costs all of 12 bucks less than a passport and lasts exactly the same length of time. McGuinty seems to think it's psychologically damaging, somehow. Surely this isn't the best the license-boosters can do.

Cross-posted to Tart Cider.

Posted by Chris Selley on May 31, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (21) | TrackBack

Shameless Sandmonkey-Promotion

When I got back from Colorado in April, I posted about meeting the Sandmonkey. Three weeks after that, he emailed me about the protests going on in Egypt, and how certain bloggers (and others) were being arrested. He was concerned for his own safety, and asked me if I could write something about it. I thought about it, and realized it was silly for me to write about Egypt, if someone right in the thick of it was available and willing to do so. So I asked him if he would be interested. He said yes, provided he could write under his blogger name (something about not wanting to get killed). I approached my editors at the Christian Science Monitor, and they were interested. I put Sandmonkey in touch with them, and...the rest, as they say, is right here.

Cross-posted at Wonkitties.

Posted by wonkitties on May 31, 2006 in International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Giving criticism where it's due

I feel like I should apologize for being uncivil (maybe I am as politicaly correct as Mrs. China e-Lobby thinks I am after all).  That said, today's Canada file (third item) had to fill in a couple of holes in a piece by the Western Standard's own Terry O'Neill:

Canada file: Terry O'Neill, Western Standard, has the latest on the Chinese head-tax issue, albeit with a couple of omissions about the National Congress of Chinese Canadians - namely that it has ties to the Communists, and it was slated to pocket $2.5 million of the "anti-racism education" money (sixth, lead, second, second, second, third, second, and third items).

Posted by D.J. McGuire on May 31, 2006 in Canadian Politics, International Affairs, Western Standard | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A Senate that's a "House of the Provinces?" Or . . .

In the comments at Burkean Canuck, Dennis Laurie asked what I suggest, if not a "triple-'E' Senate," nor any elected Senate.  This is my reply, followed by a transcript of an interview excerpt with the Prime Minister on the topic of Senate reform.

I'm of the view that a Senate which serves as a "Chamber of the Provinces" or "Chamber of the Regions" MIGHT (and I'll get to this qualification futher down) serve to strengthen the Canadian federal union for the longer term. The Canada West Foundation figured prominently in formulating the widely discussed "tripe-'E' Senate" model.

As early as 1991, I maintained that a triple-'E' Senate would have a centralizing effect on the Canadian federation. I used to think that centralizing feature might be a good thing, lending a certain decisiveness and strength to the Canadian federal union along the lines of the American federal union, that could counter a separatist Government of Quebec. I no longer hold that view.

In several respects, mostly because of how the BNA Act (now, the "Constitution Act, 1867") divvies up powers in Sections 91 and 92, the Canadian federation is relatively decentralized compared to, say, the American or German federations. or centralized compared to the Swiss, Belgian, and South African (I think) federations. I would like to see a tightening of the federal union on such jurisdictions as inter-provincial trade and immigration, including the settlement and integration of immigrants. Going the other direction, I'd also like to see closer, in-the-loop consultation with provincial governments in respect of sectors of trade that are of particular importance to provincial economies.

Strengthening the Canadian Senate as a "House of the Provinces" MIGHT be a good thing. As well as its giving the provinces a voice in the federal Parliament, it could set in place a "bi-directional check" on both federal and provincial power. The challenges in formulating this are:

PROBLEM: How to avoid biasing the Parliament of Canada any further in favour of provinces with small populations. As it is, now, the Atlantic provinces, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba have more MPs in the House of Commons than a rep-by-pop model would warrant. Figure in the number of Senators those provinces send to Ottawa, and the ratio to population is even further skewed in their favour.

POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Allocate Senators on the basis of five regions: twenty Senators each to the Atlantic provinces, to Quebec, to Ontario, to Manitoba/ Saskatchewan/Alberta, to British Columbia, and one each to Nunavut, NWT, and Yukon. In Ontario and Quebec, the Senators would represent sub-sets of those provinces. In the multi-provincial regions, a certain number of Senators would be assigned each province congruent with its population relative the others. For example, Manitoba and Saskatchewan would have four each and Alberta would have twelve Senators.

PROBLEM:  How to select Senators so they are representative of the provinces.

POSSIBLE SOLUTION: My preference would be election of Senators by legislatures. However, I could "live with" each province's deciding how to select its Senators, but with this proviso: a right of legislative recall. However selected, each Senator could be recalled. Therefore, if there were a general election in a province, the new legislature could recall its Senators and select new ones in their places. It might be that Senators would automatically cease serving in the event of a dissolution of the legislature and a provincial, general election.

Or . . .

That said, I'd like to suggest, as you might guess, another, "Burkean" (you might say, "conservative") point of view: Do nothing . . . leave the Senate of Canada, "as is." This is the view, as I understand it, espoused by Janet Ajzenstat, a political philosopher at McMaster University, Hamilton. Dr. Ajzenstat pointed out several years ago that there's a certain genius to a Senate that is appointed by the Prime Minister of one political moment, who stay in their places through successive Parliaments and government mandates. That is, while Senators appointed by a sitting Prime Minister may owe their positions to that Prime Minister and may feel bound to support that Prime Minister, they will not owe the same debt to successive Prime Ministers. This could serve as an effective check on a government with majority support in the House of Commons -- if the Senators could find some backbone to exercise their constitutional powers. Further, no one currently looks upon the Senate as having a greater right to speak for a province than a premier. But the Premiers' meetings and federal-provincial conferences are effective fora for provincial concerns and for federal leadership. And, if the Prime Minister were to make Senate appointments with a view to creating a body representative of various segments and institutions of society -- business and finance, academia, labour unions, farmers and fishermen, health care, the urban-rural split, churches and other faith communities, et al. -- this could be quite a good thing.

(For the remainder of this post,  the interview transcript with the Prime Minister, go to Burkean Canuck).

Posted by Russ Kuykendall on May 30, 2006 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (27) | TrackBack

From "Never again" to "Never mind"?

This is the second item in today's News of the Day.  I place it here without comment, on the assumption it would be superfluous:

Camp 22 is Stalinist North Korea's camp for chemical tests - on political prisoners: According to the British MI-6, the Stalinists are running a prison camp "larger than Auschwitz or Dachau" (World Net Daily) where "Hundreds of prisoners die there each week, the victims of biological or chemical experiments to test out [chemical and biological] weapons for North Korea's CBW arsenal."

Posted by D.J. McGuire on May 30, 2006 in International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

It takes one to know one

Isn't it refreshing to hear such nuanced foreign policy discussion from our honourable senators?

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay got a rough ride in his first appearance before the Senate national security and defence committee, but the proceedings turned particularly ugly when Liberal Senator Peter Stollery hurled an insult at Karzai, Afghanistan's interim president, who MacKay said would soon be visiting Canada.

"You know Karzai, he's a stooge. He was put there by Americans. Everybody knows that," Stollery said.

Senator Stollery would certainly know a stooge more than most, considering that his position at the heart of Canadian political power is due to his being "put there" by Pierre Trudeau:
[Stollery] was first elected to the Canadian House of Commons as a Liberal candidate in the 1972 election for Spadina riding in Toronto. He was re-elected in 1974, 1979 and 1980 elections. He served for a time as Chairman of the Parliamentary Caucus.

In 1981, Stollery was appointed to the Canadian Senate on the recommendation of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Trudeau wanted to open Stollery's Spadina riding so that Trudeau's aide James Coutts, could be elected to Parliament in a by-election.

He's getting on in years, so perhaps I should forgive Stollery's faltering memory of his patron's own admiration for totalitarian stooges. In any case, I hope this answers the question as to the effectiveness of a Triple-E Senate.

Posted by Rob Huck on May 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (23) | TrackBack

The RCMP and the Liberals: Looks like Gomery was the right thing to do

Warren Kinsella has been consistent and vociferous in his position that the Gomery Inquiry into the Sponsorship Scandal was a waste. The RCMP could have handled the file and should have handled it, he maintains.

Of course, Kinsella's criticisms are not just about the RCMP being frozen out, but also about Justice Gomery's qualifications and his impartiality, or lack thereof.

But putting aside the particulars about Gomery, it looks like somebody other than the RCMP should have been given the task of investigating the Liberals after all:

The retired civilian watchdog over the RCMP says the Martin government "didn't want any waves" and tried to "shut her up" by offering to continue her salary if she stepped down early.

Shirley Heafey, the lawyer who chaired the RCMP Public Complaints Commission for eight years until last October, said she had a "dreadful" time due to what she called "direct interference" by the Martin government with her independent role.

The interference included being audited "to death" -- a clear misuse of the office of the auditor as a tool for punishing an independent watchdog. That's two strikes against the Martin government, if these allegations are true.

Too bad Anne McLellan lost her seat.  She certainly has some explaining to do:

Ms. Heafey singled out what she saw as a lack of co-operation and support by then-deputy prime minister Anne McLellan, who as minister of public safety was responsible for the RCMP.

"She was very, very supportive of the RCMP and she didn't want any waves while the government was in a minority position, and I made waves whenever I had to," commented Ms. Heafey, who during her tenure criticized the RCMP for car chases that injured innocent bystanders and warned of looming disaster if Parliament fails to implement civilian oversight of the Mounties' burgeoning role in national security.

Interestingly, McLellan still has a spokesperson:

[Hilary] Geller, a spokeswoman for Ms. McLellan [and her former chief of staff], denied all of Ms. Heafey's allegations.

"Neither McLellan, myself or anybody in our office tried in any way to tell Shirley what she should or shouldn't do. And I think for her to speculate that Treasury Board audits were somehow Anne McLellan trying to interfere is simply baseless speculation. That's absolutely 100 per cent false."

Ms. Geller stated there was "absolutely not" any desire or attempt by Ms. McLellan or anyone else in the government to avert a public hearing into Kingsclear.

Much of the pressure was applied concerning a probe into a cover up of sexual abuse by an RCMP staff sergeant at the now-defunct Kingsclear youth training centre in New Brunswick.

But imagine if the RCMP had the Sponsorship file. How would that have played out? Would the RCMP have been as diligent in investigating a government that had been so supportive in helping the RCMP cover up their problems?

Indeed, if the RCMP was so tight with Martin, maybe the outcome of their investigation would have focused even more blame on Jean Chretien. As a way of currying favour, perhaps, or paying back a debt. Bears thinking about, especially by those who think Justice Gomery had it in for Jean Chretien.

This also casts the Ralph Goodale announcement in a new light. Recall that right in the middle of the election, a bombshell exploded in the Liberal campaign when the RCMP announced they were conducting a criminal investigation into whether Finance Minister Ralph Goodale or his office had been responsible for leaking the income trust taxation decision ahead of the announcement, allowing key investors to make a tidy profit.

Many people wondered why the RCMP had pulled the pin on that grenade instead of waiting three weeks until after the election. In retrospect, most agree that the Liberals never recovered from that announcement.

Could it be that the RCMP had come to the conclusion that they were too closely tied to a dying Martin government? Could it be that the RCMP decided that unless they made a bold move to separate themselves from the Liberal Party and the Paul Martin government in particular, they ran the risk of being pulled down with them, even if the Liberals limped into a victory in that election? Did the RCMP decide that they needed to make a gesture to the Conservatives in case Stephen Harper won, and the Goodale announcement was the ideal gesture to make?

Ironically, that gesture might have guaranteed a loss for the Liberals. In any case, if Heafey's allegations are true, then there needs to be a serious shake up at the top of the RCMP organization, and that's just a start.

Posted by Steve Janke on May 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

What an elected Senate did to the balance of power in the United States

(Cross-posted from Burkean Canuck).
The U.S. Senate wasn't always elected by popular vote.  Prior to 1903 when Oregon first selected a U.S. Senator by popular election, U.S. Senators had been chosen by the state legislatures (Article I, Section 3, U.S. Constitution).    The 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution requiring popular election of U.S. Senators was adopted on April 8th 1913 once the amendment passed the Connecticut state legislature -- the 35th state to do so.

What did popular election do the the balance of power in the U.S. federation?

  1. U.S. Senators were no longer delegates of the state legislature, representing the state legislature.  Instead, they could claim to represent the voters of that state;
  2. As a result of popular election, U.S. Senators were no longer accountable to the state legislature.  They were no longer required to face the wrath of the state legislature if they failed to represent the state legislature.  The U.S. Senate was no longer a "House of the States";
  3. Popular election tended to concentrate power in the federal government.  The U.S. Senate was intended to give each state -- each state government -- a voice and check on federal power.  But with popular election, U.S. Senators could ignore the state legislature and appeal over the heads of the state legislature to voters.  As a result, the state legislatures lost this check on federal power;
  4. Popular election made the U.S. Senate subject to the ebbs and flows of federal politics instead of state politics.  What do I mean by that?  Just this:  with popular election, if one political party is badly discredited at the federal level, that will tend to be reflected in federal elections to the advantage of the other party.  Prior to popular election, U.S. Senators were subject to the ebb and flow of party credibility in their respective states.

And so, to those who think a "triple-E Senate" or, even, an elected Senate is the be-all, end-all medicine for all that ails the Canadian federation and the provinces' influence in it I say:  Be careful what you wish for.

Here are my questions for advocates of a popularly elected Senate:

  1. With an elected Senate, how much longer do you suppose the federal government would bother with federal-provincial conferences?
  2. Which premiers now have influence on the federal government?
  3. How much influence do you suppose the premiers' meetings would have on federal policy?
  4. How would a popularly elected Canadian Senate affect things like, say, "equalization" or discussions pursuant to "the fiscal imbalance?"
  5. Whose interests would a popularly elected Canadian Senate serve?  Alberta's or British Columbia's?  Ontario's or Quebec's?
  6. Which provinces are under- and over-represented in the Senate, the House of Commons, and the federal cabinet?
  7. Whose view of the Canadian federation would a popularly elected Senate serve -- the centralizers or the decentralizers?

"Just askin'."

Posted by Russ Kuykendall on May 30, 2006 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (20) | TrackBack

Monday, May 29, 2006

Did someone say strike?

The largest city in the nation has been crippled by a wildcat walkout this morning. Most people I talk to in TO have said that without TTC and traffic in gridlock, they've had to stay home from work or they spent hours commuting this morning, so the economic consequences will surely be massive.

Naturally a story of this magnitude is, at time of writing, the top item at the Globe and Mail, the National Post, the Toronto Star and CTV.

Meanwhile, at the CBC, they apparently consider another strike to be a more important top story for their Canadian audience:


Posted by Kevin Libin on May 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (35) | TrackBack

Kyoto: More toque over the eyes

What Canadian really does know all the in’s and out’s of Kyoto? According to a new poll, not many:

It may be one of the most politically charged topics of today, but more than two-thirds of Canadians say they know nothing about the international Kyoto agreement on climate change, a new opinion survey has revealed.

Nearly 89 per cent of Canadians have heard about the Kyoto accord, but 68 per cent say they don’t know any of the details, according to an Ipsos Reid poll of 1,621 Canadians completed this spring. (h/t PTBC)

It is pretty believable as there was a conference in my little town last year where some Liberal Kyoto reps came to explain it to farmers and the subsequent writeups in the local paper left you wondering “what?”. I realize people will say they are just farmers but they are smarter than most people would care to think.

If the poll is truly reflective why does it seem that so many Canadians support it? Why support something you don’t understand? Does it just come down to symbolism and Rick Mercer cheering on the now defunct One Tonne Challenge? Maybe it is time for Canadians to start questioning it further:

The Liberals’ $12-billion plan to implement the Kyoto Protocol over seven years would have been largely ineffective, says an as-yet unpublished report by the C.D. Howe Institute.

The report, marked “do not cite or circulate,” was written before the current government axed Project Green, as the plan was dubbed, and may have been a factor in the Conservatives’ decision to scrap it.

Project Green largely relied on voluntary measures and incentives which have been shown not to work, says the study, which sarcastically calls the package “Project Dream.”

“This policy approach will fail dramatically to meet national objectives and yet will entail a substantial cost,” says the report, whose lead author is Mark Jaccard of Simon Fraser University.

The study was written in April and obtained by The Canadian Press on the weekend. It is finally expected to be made public this week.

The report says Project Green would have cost $12 billion by 2012, with much of that money being spent outside Canada.

It would have reduced emissions by 175 megatonnes compared with a business-as-usual scenario, far short of the 230 to 300 Mt. reduction required to meet Canada’s Kyoto target.

Efforts like the One Tonne Challenge advertising campaign, which urged individuals to reduce their own greenhouse emissions through lifestyle changes, have “negligible effect,” says the study.

“The policy approach of Canada since 1990 and continued with Project Green is clearly ineffective in causing the disconnection of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions from the economic output that must take place if these emissions are to be reduced and their atmospheric concentrations stabilized at low risk levels.”

Canada’s domestic emissions remain on a path that would miss its Kyoto target by at least 270 Mt. in 2010, equivalent to almost a 30 per cent emissions gap, the study says.

“Indeed, the policy approach epitomized by Project Green allows emissions to continue to grow at close to their BAU (business-as-usual) rate.”

The original Project Green plan touted a cost of $10 billion and a reduction of 270 megatonnes by 2012. It will be interesting to read the C.D. Howe. report this week as it raises suspicions that Canadians were about to get screwed over by the Liberals once again. c/p

Posted by Darcey on May 29, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Whose story is it? The PM's or the Press Gallery's?

(Cross-posted from Burkean Canuck).
Okay, first, a little about media relations. When someone would call to speak to the elected official, I'd ask the following boiler-plate questions:

  1. What's your deadline for getting a comment?   
  2. On what issue are you calling?   
  3. What is the story you're writing?  What "angle" are you taking on the issue?   

  Why the third question?  The story was already written before the reporter called. She's just looking for that pithy quote to make a certain point or to represent a certain point of view she's reporting in the story.

Say, for example, the reporter is writing a story about the Kyoto Protocol. The reporter may not even have decided what the thrust of the story is to be, but has quite likely been directed by his assignment editor what story to write . . . pro-Kyoto and anti-Conservative Government.

So, when the Parliamentary Press Gallery (PPG) gets ticked off that the Prime Minister isn't making himself available for scrums quite as regularly as they might like, or the PM's press flacks are making major announcements outside the National Press Theatre or the Charles Lynch theatre so PM press flacks can set the ground rules for questions, it's not about freedom of the press or any other such highfalutin notions.

The Prime Minister has insisted on making major announcements of national and international import in the House of Commons, and -- in case you didn't happen to notice -- insisted on an embargo of any reporting on the Auditor General's report till its tabling in the House of Commons. When the Prime Minister's predecessors would make major announcements, they were quite likely to schedule time in the National Press Theatre so the other party leaders would not have opportunity to respond to what the Standing Orders term "a ministerial statement" as they are entitled in the Commons. By so doing, the Prime Minister is restoring to the House of Commons and Parliament its proper role and dignity as the nation's premier "talking chamber."  That's what Parliament -- <<parlement>> -- is for, after all.

At least since closed-circuit television was introduced into the Commons, the Press Gallery at the north end of the chamber above the Speaker's chair has been virtually empty except during question period, the Budget, addresses such as the Australian prime minister's, and certain other occasions of note. The members of the gallery generally only pay much attention to the House during question period and, once the party leader's have asked their questions, they head to the foyer of the chamber to scrum the Prime Minister and the other party leaders.

Not to report the news so much as to get those nice, pithy quotes that "fit" their stories. It's not so much a matter of the New York Times's maxim, "All the news that's fit to print," as it is, "All the news that fits what we want to print" . . . all the news that fits our story.

It's not about freedom of the press.  It's not even about the news.

Posted by Russ Kuykendall on May 29, 2006 in Canadian Politics, Media | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Learning from the French

Today the TTC has gone on a wildcat strike. Because I work at home, it doesn't cause me any bother, so I am free to detachedly observe. And I observe the following: The TTC has learned from the French. In the past, we have always had warning in this city, when any transit strike was threatened. And when I saw warning, I mean, weeks in advance, people getting permission from their employers to stay home that day, kind of warning. It always struck me as a ridiculous way to strike. If you want your strike to be effective, you have to totally screw people over and make their lives impossible -- show them how much they need you.
I used to live in Paris, where, croyez moi, people know how to strike. Here is what the French transit workers would do: Allow you to go to work, blissfully trusting that the same subway cars and buses which took you in would take you back. Wait till about 4 in the afternoon, when you were preparing to go home (indeed, looking forward to it), and then announce the strike. Paris, like Toronto, is a city where many people live in the 'burbs and work in the city. People were left to hitchhike, pay a fortune to taxis, walk, beg, plead, whatever. For extra points, most of the transit strikes -- at least when I lived in Paris -- took place during Christmas season, and lasted weeks. Fun! (Ah, les Francais. Gotta love 'em.)
Now, that is how you strike, people. And it would seem, finally, the TTC has twigged. On top of the surprise element, for the next three days, Toronto is under a smog alert.

Cross-posted at Wonkitties.

Posted by wonkitties on May 29, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack


Oh look, the TTC isn't running today! And that's the end of any sympathy that particular transit commission is going to get from Torontonians in its various frivolous labour disputes for... well, l don't want to get all hyperbolic here, so let's just say a quarter century. Doesn't matter if it's a strike or a lockout. It's breathtakingly idiotic.

UPDATE. The Ontario Labour Relations Board, which in a stunning display of the system working properly managed to convene and make a decision by 7:10am on a Monday, has issued a cease and desist order.

Posted by Chris Selley on May 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Iran's protests updated

Persian language blogs owned by Iranian students inform us that many student leaders are detained and taken to undisclosed locations by the Iranian regime's security forces.

Rooz Online has the latest on the third day of student unrest at Tehran University. 18 students have been temporarily “fired”; 5 faculty [profs] permanently “fired.” “One student who had climbed the fence of the campus told Rooz Online that there were clashes all over the campus and that students lived in fear.” Rooz also reports that the mullahs have stepped up their Internet filtering.

Anti-regime protests have also been increased in NW of Iran, at least 6 people killed and many more injured in clashes with regime's forces.

These can be initial signs of a bigger revolt against the Mullahs. These can be signs of freedom for the tired and oppressed people of an ancient land.

However I still wonder why the mainstream media have been silent on the struggle of the Iranian people for freedom and democracy?

Read the rest/See the images of protests at The Spirit of Man

Posted by Winston on May 29, 2006 in International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The new euphemism is "working class"

Tweny-eight people were stabbed at the opening of a grand new Berlin railway station yesterday. The "youth" went on a rampage, stabbing indicriminately. And though no one was killed, it turns out that one of the first people to be attacked was HIV positive, which leaves the other 27 people at risk.

The "youth" was known to police and had a record of violent crimes. He was described as being from the "working class" neighborhood of Neukoelln. Working class? I came from a working class background, and I wanted to know what relevence the district had. So I looked it up, and found it in a non-related article. Actually, a few non-related articles.

From this one, about the building of mosques:

In Berlin, the first mosque was constructed in 1924.

Now there are some 30 Muslim places of worship in the German capital, mostly in Neukolln and Kreuzberg.

And this one, about Muslim students missing gym class:

Antje Henze is a sports teacher at a trade school in Berlin's heavily Muslim Neukolln district. Many of the girls in the school, which has an 80 percent Muslim population, wear head scarves, long skirts and body-covering long coats. Henze acknowledged her students are increasingly finding reasons to skip gym.

And this charming one about honor killings:

In Neukolln's largely immigrant Thomas Morus school, not far from the place where Hatun Surucu was murdered, students greeted news of her slaying with loud approval. Her brothers were hailed as local heroes.

These are the kind of "youths" in the "working class" district of Neukolln. What else is the media not telling us?

Posted by RightGirl on May 28, 2006 in International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

The war at home

Canadian troops are fighting and dying in Afghanistan, in part to prevent the return of the Taliban, a minority who would impose their faith, in particular, an uncompromising brand of Islam, on an unwilling population.

Should it come as a surprise that the same fight is being fought at home?

By defiantly ending speeches with the words, "God bless Canada," [Prime Minister Stephen Harper] affirmed the sentiment expressed in our national anthem and on our coinage, and subtly but unmistakably held up a prominent middle finger to those who are trying to what might be called "atheize" the country.

They complained.

In one poll, 65% of Canadians told him to keep on doing it.

There is a battle being fought in this country against a minority who would impose their faith, in particular, an uncompromising brand of atheism, on an unwilling population.

Canadians generally are not uncomfortable about religious faith. Not deep down. But several decades of imposed atheism supported by the State (often under the guise of multiculturalism) has allowed a minority -- primarily liberal arts academia and their offspring, the media -- to cast Canada as a place where expressions of faith, especially Christian faith, is as welcome as public vomiting.

Here's an example of what they think of "God bless Canada!":

I hadn't realized until recently that Stephen Harper was using "God Bless Canada!" as a tagline for his speeches. Some may think this a harmless, or even beneficent, expression for a politician to use, but for those with knowledge of history, nothing could be a more frightening.

<snipped out all the requisite George W Bush comparisons>

Religion does not belong in public life, and Stephen Harper's efforts to drag it in says a great deal about him to those choosing to listen. This principle is as much a defense of freedom of religion as anything else: millions of Christians have been slain by other Christians over subtle differences of belief.

Religion in politics violates Canadians' traditional political civility. While God may be understood as a translation for Allah or Jehovah, the name is completely unsuitable for those embracing Buddhism or Hinduism or Humanism or no religion at all. This usage opens wounds where none need exist.

[emphasis added]

Got that? Religion is not to be seen, because it is the antithesis of civil behaviour. Note also that one problem is that Buddhists and Hindus would be offended. But then their offense would be a religious expression in of itself, would it not? Isn't being offended by someone's religious expression also a form of religious expression?

Well, Stephen Harper is one person who understands the absurdity of that position. And he won't kowtow to the absurd, no matter how many layers of postmodern bafflegab it gets wrapped up in.

But what is most interesting is that he has allies. A majority of the population who understand that suppressing religious expression is suppressing free speech. Indeed, it is probably the most precious form of free speech we enjoy -- the freedom to perceive the universe and our place in it as we see fit, and to not be embarrassed or persecuted for having and sharing that perception.

Will the forces of militant atheism ever understand that? Not likely, given that they'll never be able to separate the notion of free speech that I'm talking about from their visceral hatred of all things conservative:

"God Bless Canada" is a symbol of the coming realignment with US values. And it doesn't matter if a majority disagree with this shift. In the US, 30 per cent of the population are hard core believers who vote in large numbers and with the Republicans. No other group is so numerous and so united. While in Canada, this group is much smaller, they are getting a historic opportunity to govern as the Liberals and NDP split the shrinking center-left vote.

However, the new Conservatives aren't Tories, but smooth-talking serpents who have slithered out from underneath Prairie rocks to claim their new found dominion. Their wave has been a long time in coming, so we are finally seeing their breakthrough in this election with the United Right swamping the dying Liberal Party.

Ironically, the "smooth-talking serpent" analogy is one of the most ancient and powerful Judeo-Christian images of evil we have. I wonder of "ceti" realizes that he just offended a bunch of Buddhists and Hindus whose culture does not include the story of Genesis. Indeed the Hindus celebrate the Naga Panchami, the festival of snakes. The snake is seen as a symbol of immortality, not of duplicity and temptation.

No matter. The battle is being fought for freedom for Christians and Hindus both, and all people of faith, and it appears that the tide is turning. I expect the counterattacks to be vicious, even violent.

Posted by Steve Janke on May 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (64) | TrackBack

Shameless Self-Promotion: I'm in Shock Edition!

My latest, at the Star. This represents the first time since I've been writing the Sunday pro/con with Linda, that I have received more positive response than negative! Patience=Virtue, right?

Cross-posted at Wonkitties.

Posted by wonkitties on May 28, 2006 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Still not allowed

Last weekend, I mentioned that major U.S. bookstores had decided to allow Harper's magazine into their stores this month, even though the June issue features the Jyllands-Posten cartoons—something other magazines had been banished for. I also expressed my hope that Canada's single major book chain would follow suit.

According to news reports today, it will not:

The largest book retailer in the country has pulled all copies of the June edition of Harper's Magazine because it reprints a series of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, according to a media report. Indigo Books and Music said in a memo that it decided to take the magazine off the stands because it may be offensive to Muslims.

Posted by Kevin Libin on May 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Preparez vos mouchoirs

The front page of today's Toronto Star shows Dr. Tim Goddard, father of Nichola Goddard, next to his daughter's flag-draped coffin, his right fist clenched and his face twisted in grief. The subhead reads: "In a tearful farewell to his daughter, Tim Goddard criticizes Ottawa for keeping the return of fallen soldiers private." The Toronto Sun ran with a different picture of Tim Goddard's face twisted in grief, under the banner headline TEARS FOR A SOLDIER. Both, I'm sure, are factually correct. That doesn't make them appropriate.

I happened to hear Tim Goddard interviewed on some Toronto radio show or other last week. His composure was inspirational, as it was during the part of his eulogy that ran on The National last night. I didn't hear so much as a quiver in his voice as he explained how proud he is of the difference his daughter made in her short life.

We live in a time when refusing to behave as expected can make you a murder suspect. The problem is that to a significant extent the media creates those expectations. If you don't believe me just check out the stomach-turning Nancy Grace on CNN. The Nichola Goddard story is one of dignified, confident resolve, both on her part and on her family's. It's a dangerous game criticizing the way people you don't know handle grief, but I think we can all agree that the Goddard family handled theirs with unimpeachable courage. There's your headline. Leave the tears out of it for once.

(Cross-posted to Tart Cider.)

Posted by Chris Selley on May 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (28) | TrackBack

...and that's why the MGM studio cafeteria always had poutine on the menu...

Yesterday, Canada Post issued a set of four stamps honouring famous Canadians in Hollywood.

Fay Wray, Lorne Greene, Mary Pickford and John Candy are now on 51 cent stamps.

(Shotgun readers recently had a bit of a dicussion at this post here...


...about which Hollywood figures from north of the border should be honoured)

For my part, I think that these are good choices.  Local press stories that I have seen on the stamp series  note that philately boffins are arguing that it's about time that Canada started honouring entertainment celebrities on stamps. (The U.S. Postal Service sold millions of stamps featuring Elvis and Marilyn Monroe and banana republics have been issuing such stamps for decades.)

I think that John Candy is worth putting on a stamp. Colby Cosh (for one) would probably want to clobber me with a box of stamp hinges for writing this, but I would have preferred that another figure from the Golden Age  of Hollywood (such as a Mack Sennett) would have been honoured before Candy. But, putting John Candy on a stamp will help sales of the entire series and thus lead to more such stamps, which is worth consideration.

Who should be honoured on future stamps?   

Posted by Rick Hiebert on May 27, 2006 in Film | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Who are we fighting in the war on terror?


See it for yourself, It is just stupid, not scary though!

These are our enemies in the War on Terror. I am posting this just as a reminder to those people who often forget what type of a threat this "Radical Islamic Jihadism" can be.

Suicide Bombers gather in Tehran, by Fox News Channel

Posted by Winston on May 27, 2006 in International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (42) | TrackBack

Friday, May 26, 2006

News with a Disclaimer

The Black Rod:

“The author of this report is currently in a titanic struggle with the government Canadians elected. Therefore the contents are in accordance with approved Press Gallery procedure and may not be true to all people. Whatever you do, DO NOT read blogs to correct or we’re screwed.”

It’s a fun read…

Posted by Darcey on May 26, 2006 in Media | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Grieving Nichola

I have been grieving for Nichola Goddard, the first Canadian woman ever to die fighting in battle. For some reason this struck me as more than the death of someone who was clearly a wonderful person and a highly capable soldier. Like many Canadians, I am intensely proud of her and the life she gave for me, my family, my children, and my people. She is a hero in my mind. Nevertheless, I will always believe that no matter how good they may be, to send women to battle in place of men is wrong, and the fact that we do so makes me feel a little guilty and even shames me as a man. I can’t help that. It is what I feel, and deeply so. And it has left me angry at my country. But how does it make sense to be so proud of her soldiering, yet so upset that we sent her off to die?

Call this a knee-jerk, dinosaur emotion of an unrepentant male reactionary, if you like. That would be the expected and simplistic response. But I ask: How can it be right for a country filled with strong and vital men to send women into battle to die in their place? In their place you say? She chose that life! She loved what she was doing! True. All true. But while an individual’s choosing something, if it is good, makes it good for that person, it does not follow that somebody choosing something good for themselves makes it good, or right, or the best choice for society as a whole. Why do I and so many others feel this way? Why has every Canadian man worth the name felt an inner twinge of conscience over her death?

Well, for starters, women have a unique role in society that men can never fill: they give birth to other human beings and nurture human life in ways that a man cannot. All men know that. And most of us grow up with an inbred awe of, and respect for that natural fact of life. That is, for the intuitive knowledge that civilization comes to a grinding halt – we all die – if women, the mothers of us all, die out. So, it seems (again so strongly intuitively) that although it is a noble tragedy for a nation to lose a single life in battle, it is a kind of double tragedy to lose a woman’s life. For a young woman who dies in battle loses her own life and also the lives for which she was a living proxy-in-waiting. That is because all women hold in biological potential as many lives as they care to create. That is the deepest mystery of the female, and it is why to lose a woman in war is rightly felt as so costly to all. It is this that fighting men know in their hearts, and to deny this truth is to undermine what is sometimes called the life force, and therefore the very fabric of society.

For just as there is nothing higher or nobler for women than to create human life and nurture it, there is nothing nobler for men than to love and protect their women and children, and if necessary to die for them. All manly men feel this call deeply. It is strange to say, perhaps, and against all common sense, but many men love war precisely because it provides them with the opportunity to be heroic, to be wholly altruistic, to answer a higher calling of a kind that all women feel naturally in creating life, but that is not an inherent part of a man’s biological nature. So men must seek out the equivalent. So deeply do most men need and long for this that they will unhesitatingly face terrible odds in battle and willingly die to protect their fellows. Call it a guy thing. But thisis why I say there is something deeply amiss with the values of our society when Nichola is killed, and the same day back home a few hundred thousand very tough men go to work, play their sports, then go out at night to drink and dance, and then go home for a good sleep. It is the truth of this stark contrast that hit me like a body-blow against the manliness of our country as a whole.

For just as it would be wrong and cowardly, and would instantly and naturally incur loathing in any manly man to watch another man beat up a woman for the last space on a lifeboat, it is wrong and incurs a silent shame in most men to see women go to battle in their place. Especially against a Muslim enemy they know is outraged to be fighting against women in the first place, and so is very eager to target them first. And what real man would argue that if we had two platoons of Canadian soldiers, one all-female, and one all-male, both equally prepared to attack the enemy, that it would be right or natural to send the women’s platoon in first? No. That would be against nature and against all manliness, and against the deepest male instinct and desire to fight and protect.

For these reasons, and so many more, I fear we are putting women at risk in war to satisfy a strangely powerful but misguided ideological craving for equality in all things. Indeed, it seems we crave such equality in inverse proportion to our loss of confidence in the great and natural truths of human life. So strong is this pathetic public ideal that we now demand that all things male and female that are clearly and naturally different must be officially denied and made the same at all costs, and we are prepared to fudge the truth and at great expense to change all social reality to make them so. Nichola died for her country. But she also died, whether she knew it or not, in the name of a stridently radical ideology that has been corrosive of the social and family fabric of Canada for more than three decades, and in the name of which she got to the front lines. She chose this because it was available. And it fulfilled her as an individual. So we have to believe she died happy. But as a society it is we who chose to make that choice possible to her, and I do not think any life, male or female, should be sacrificed to an ideal so clearly wrong-headed and against natural truth. 

Posted by williamgairdner on May 26, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (62) | TrackBack

The great lunge forward

Communist China's military will soon have "the power to challenge the United States for command of the airspace over the Taiwan straits," thanks to the cadres' Russian arms suppliers.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on May 26, 2006 in Canadian Politics, International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Galloway: Beyond Sleaze

Unbelievable...yet somehow, from Galloway, not:

The Respect MP George Galloway has said it would be morally justified for a suicide bomber to murder Tony Blair.
In an interview with GQ magazine, the reporter asked him: "Would the assassination of, say, Tony Blair by a suicide bomber - if there were no other casualties - be justified as revenge for the war on Iraq?"
Mr Galloway replied: "Yes, it would be morally justified. I am not calling for it - but if it happened it would be of a wholly different moral order to the events of 7/7. It would be entirely logical and explicable. And morally equivalent to ordering the deaths of thousands of innocent people in Iraq - as Blair did."

From scary to boring:

Mr Galloway yesterday made a surprise appearance on Cuban television with the Caribbean island's Communist dictator, Fidel Castro - whom he defended as a "lion" in a political world populated by "monkeys".
Mr Galloway shocked panellists on a live television discussion show in Havana by emerging on set mid-transmission to offer passionate support for Castro. Looking approvingly into each others' eyes, the pair embraced.

Yawn. After Big Brother, how many ways are there left, for Galloway to embarrass himself? Come to think of it, I'd rather not find out.

Read the story.

Cross-posted at Wonkitties.

Posted by wonkitties on May 26, 2006 in International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (19) | TrackBack

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Understanding the job of the Ethics Commissioner

A politician is judged by the electorate.

Seems like a simple enough concept, doesn't it? You make promises, you try to implement them, you show the results, the voters decide.

Short of committing a criminal act, that is the only judgment a politician need submit to.

So what good is an Ethics Commissioner? He is not a judge, at least not in the sense of handing out punishments. His role is to ensure that elected officials and their staff understand the rules for ethical behaviour (a concept that focuses almost entirely on private financial interests versus the public trust, according to the code), most importantly where conflicts of interest arise. It's a bit sad that we have to have someone explain those concepts, but an argument can be made that having one person provide a consistent interpretation (as long as it is a good one) is better than hundreds of different interpretations.

But even if someone is caught in a conflict of interest, the Commissioner can only recommend appropriate "sanctions", which aren't defined. Presumably such sanctions would be limited to requiring an MP to divest himself of a certain financial interest found to be causing a conflict of interest.

Even the implementation of those recommended sanctions is left up to the government, where a political decision is made concerning those sanctions.

But some people don't get it. They think the Ethics Commissioner is some sort of watchdog whose job it is to compel politicians to implement a particular policy or piece of legislation:

The lobby group Democracy Watch has launched a formal complaint with the federal Ethics Commissioner accusing the Conservative government of breaking election promises.

The same letter of complaint also repeats Democracy Watch's call for ethics commissioner Bernard Shapiro to resign for failing to vigorously enforce ethics rules.

Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch said Thursday that Bill C-2 - the federal Accountability Act - breaks or omits 13 specific promises made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the run-up to the Jan. 23 vote.

Breaking a promise is not an ethical lapse in the sense defined in the code. It is an ethical problem if the promise was broken because of a financial conflict that had not been disclosed. But it's the financial conflict, and not the promise, that is the concern of the Ethics Commissioner.

How to keep promises, in what order, and which to forgo altogether, are political decisions. Sometimes they are made for reasons of crass political expediency, and sometimes for very obvious pragmatic reasons. Sometimes it becomes clear that the promise was just dumb. Sometimes the promise is kept, but had to be modified in some manner, and people mistakenly think that the promise was not kept.

At the end of the day, though, these are issues of politics, not ethics, at least not in the sense defined by the code. The judgment lies with the voters, not with the Ethics Commissioner. Duff Conacher is way off base by trying to pull the Ethics Commissioner into this.

Posted by Steve Janke on May 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Not again!

You'd think that after the David Emerson thing, the Conservatives would have learned.

But no.

Here they are, treating another MP who is not a member of the caucus with respect, offering him a role with responsibility, being inclusive instead of exclusive.

It's that sort of dirty and underhanded political scheming that prompted David Emerson to bolt from his proper place among the Liberals, paragons of political virtue that they are.

This time, it is independent Quebec MP Andre Arthur in the sights:

Rookie Quebec Independent MP André Arthur, a former shock radio jock, is not ruling out the possibility of joining the federal Conservatives in this Parliament.

A controversial former radio personality whom the governing Tories put on the Commons Industry, Science and Technology Committee recently, Mr. Arthur said that he has not been approached by anyone from the Conservative Party, either formally or informally, to join their party.

"The only thing that I've been approached with is an extraordinary treatment. They gave an Independent a seat on a major Parliamentary Committee--Industry, Science and Technology and that is something that I have to measure, in terms of respect and seduction," he said.

"I think it was Jay Hill [who said in answering a reporter's question] that do you expect Arthur to vote with you all the time and he answered, 'Not all the time but once in a while would be fun.' It's quite evident that for me, this is a hand that's stretched in my direction, I shook it, I appreciate what they did."

That "hand" hides a sinister motive:

[Chief Government Whip Jay Hill ] added that the unusual step of putting Mr. Arthur on the Commons Industry committee has nothing to do with the possibility of enticing him to join the Conservative caucus. Rather, he said that the Prime Minister wants to empower each and every MP so that he or she could play a productive and constructive role in the Parliament.

It's enough to make my blood boil! How are we to have true electoral reform in this country with all these empowered and respected MPs gumming up the works, not doing as they are told by party leaders and spin doctors. Bev Dejarlais, the NDP MP for Churchill, was severely punished by Jack Layton for voting her conscience and according to the wishes of her constituents. No longer an MP, she now works for the Conservatives. Keep this up, and we'll have MPs from all three opposition parties wondering if they might not be happier working for an organization that values their thoughts, and not just their votes.

Imagine how much trouble the Conservatives will be in if that happens.

Posted by Steve Janke on May 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Welcome to the club, Warren!

Warren Kinsella's blog is blocked in Communist China, something he shares with both this blog and, um, that one.  From the Canada file (third item), reprinted in full:

Canada file: John Gleeson (Winnipeg Sun) calls for Prime Minister Harper to treat head-tax victims and their widows equally. Lost in the argument is the fact the under Harper, the amount of money headed to pro-Communist groups in Canada would fall from $2.5 million to zero (sixth, lead, second, second, second, third, and second items); that said, yours truly thinks Gleeson does have a point. Meanwhile, Warren Kinsella finds out his website is banned in Communist China. This quarter hopes it will lead Mr. Kinsella to realize one of the few things his best friend (Jean Chretien) and worst intraparty enemy (Paul Martin) shared (fealty toward the Communist regime) was a terrible mistake.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on May 25, 2006 in Canadian Politics, International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Thursday Poll


Vote here. H/t Uncommon Truths

Posted by Darcey on May 25, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

colby cosh serves up Marchant tartare

Want hyperbole heaped on a hockey game? You got it when Colby Cosh talks up the Oilers. Here's an appy.

I hope you saw it; I’ll never forget Ilya Bryzgalov’s sheepish, nervous grin as he listened to the battle hymn, nor how his team fought and nearly triumphed despite being outnumbered by hundreds to one. It’s notable that the wild violence of the first period, in which the Ducks tried futilely to fight back against the voices with their fists, was obviously stage-managed by Todd Marchant. It didn’t work, but what else did they have left? Marchant is a former Oiler; though on the opposite side, he was only doing what he had done for us, against similar odds, a hundred times before. He’s as tough and salty as a slab of horsemeat jerked under a Mongol saddle. I still miss the guy. He’ll die with his boots on. On Thursday.

You’ll want to read the whole thing – the first paragraph is something to behold. Somebody get him the front page of the Edmonton Journal or Ed Sun — at least while the Oilers live.

And somebody, please, for the love of all that is good — give Vancouver another playoff run. It’s a fine feeling — when a city is pumped up, ain’t it?


Posted by Peter_Jay on May 25, 2006 in Sports | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

On Communist China and Iran

As I recover from a stomach virus, I put on the China e-Lobby a piece from the China Support Network on the long journey of Lu Decheng (see seventh item) - whose presence in Canada, I might add, is another sign of wisdom of her people in the decision they made on January 23.

Meanwhile, in light of the news from Iran (see below), I'm also including some information on Communist China's ties to the mullahcracy, plus my call for Iran's liberation from Khomeinist regime.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on May 24, 2006 in Canadian Politics, International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Anti-regime protests in Iran

There are confirmed reports from inside of Iran about students protesting in and around the University of Tehran, mainly at Kuy-e-Daneshgah where famous protests against the regime were held in July of 1999 and June & July of 2003.

I have already posted updates on protests against the clerical regime through out Iran, especially in major cities of Tehran & Tabriz.

The Iranian people need lots of international support to be able to get rid of the current clerical regime and replace that with a democratically elected government.

More updates and images can be found at the Spirit of Man blog

Posted by Winston on May 24, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

SS Officers for Iran's IRGC

Rooz Online reports that a new line of activities have taken place in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps that aims to organize those who have similar political views and ideologies.

Those who have similar views will become "Political Guides" whose main tasks are to boss the commanders of each unit.

It's very important to mention that the post-revolution armed forces of Iran are tightly monitored by the office of the supreme leader, Khamenei, through offices called "Idealogical & Political Bureaus" which are run by an Islamic cleric as well. Therefore commanders of each unit has some body to supervise him from the supreme leader's office. These clerics/agents have ultimate say in decision making of the Iranian military (Regular or Revolutionary). This sort of clerical supervision was put in place after the failed military coup, by the Iranian Air Force in July of 1980 against the regime, to prevent further disobedience or uprising within the armed services.

The purpose of this initiative, which is undertaken by the political bureau and particularly the “Political Guidance” office of the Passdaran is to coordinate and organize all other individuals at the senior levels of the Guards and provide them with ideological input.

These so-called political guides will act like SS Officers of the Nazi Germany and will supervise the entire armed forces for any possible uprising in time of any strike or conflict and also give feedbacks to the commanders of the armed forces.

That also means the regime is trying to find more LOYAL military personnel in its armed force branches and is also tightening its grip over the military for a day when it is engaged in a military conflict with either US or Israelis.

Cross-posted @ The Spirit of Man

Posted by Winston on May 23, 2006 in International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Chomsky and his Ilk

This is actually pretty funny. It's about Noam Chomsky's recent sejour with Hezbollah. I don't know how one can take seriously a grown man who uses phrases like "imperialistic forces." Once you're past high school, you shouldn't be talking that way. Cross-posted at Wonkitties.

Posted by wonkitties on May 23, 2006 in International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (36) | TrackBack

A slew of news over the weekend

Since last Friday, we've had a political stabbing in South Korea, a brief resurrection of the truth about Tiananmen in Shanghai, Communist silly-talk about Latin America and Africa, and the usually terrific P.J. O'Rourke putting the puck in his own net; it's all here.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on May 23, 2006 in International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Klaatu Barada Nikto!

Rewatched this on the weekend. Forgot how great it was, if somewhat schlocky. It is always worth it, to watch Patricia Neal. But more than that, watching this movie again made me realize how little times change. The movie was an exercise in Hollywood preaching, and Hollywood heavy-handedly telling us that our governments are exploiting our fear, and that the media is not interested in reasoned commentary, only sensationalism. (Plus ca change.)
Of course, far and away the biggest advantage to watching The Day the Earth Stood Still, is that we learn what to say to prevent our planet from being obliterated.

Cross-posted at Wonkitties.

Posted by wonkitties on May 23, 2006 in Film | Permalink | Comments (19) | TrackBack

Monday, May 22, 2006

When a woman's testimony counts less than a man's

You wouldn't expect a respectable newspaper to accuse abused women of making up their claims of assault without some pretty compelling evidence—never mind the ultra-liberal, staunchly feminist Toronto Star.

But when it comes to a staunchly feminist woman who happens to be famous for speaking out against Islam, all progressive bets are off. Witness Haroon Siddiqui celebrating the troubles of Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who's lost her seat in the Dutch Parliament after her citizenship was found to have been attained under false premises. Ali, you may recall, fled her family after being forced into an arranged marriage, sought refuge in Holland, and became a strong feminist voice, critical of misogyny within Islam. Famously, she co-wrote the film, Submission, with Theo Van Gogh—the one that fanatical Muslims ended up killing him over.

Or, in Siddiqui's version of events: "[She] told the tall tales the Bush administration wanted to hear to wage war. She told the stories the Dutch, and many Europeans, craved, to confirm their anti-Muslim prejudices."

Yep, that's the Dutch for you—always looking to please George Bush. If you can get past Siddiqui's many logical contradictions (the Dutch desperately needed her bigotry in Parliament, until they didn't) you may want to pause and reflect on his obvious schadenfreude over the fall from grace of a progressive Muslim woman and ask: who is this guy cheering for, exactly? Not even the most naive Muslim apologist can reasonably claim to question that there are some Muslim men who think of women as sub-human. All of them? Certainly not. How many? Who knows. When it comes to a big religion like Islam, even five percent means tens of millions of abused and oppressed women. Ali wanted to stand up for them—and denouce those who would kill Van Gogh (she'd be dead too, if it weren't for her tight security) for standing up for them—and to Siddiqui, that's a bad thing, because it confirms our "anti-Muslim prejudices." So any criticism of Islam is to be silenced, no matter how legitimate it may be? Yeesh. Burn down any embassies lately, Haroon?

But the most disturbing thing about Siddiqui's column, is the fact that he dismisses Ali's claims of abuse out of hand. His evidence that she made up her tale? He called some professor at Brandeis University who "knows" Ali. That guy said so. (When it comes to blaming the victims, FYI, the professor in question, Jyette Klausen, has experience: he accused the Danish government of wanting to stir up a "culture war" with the Mohammed cartoons.)

Imagine a Star writer calling local heroine Jane Doe—the outspoken (but anonymous) rape victim—a liar, because someone who "knows" her said she actually consented to coupling with the balcony rapist. Or suggesting that the outspoken refugees from Bountiful's polygamy cult, Jane Blackmore and Debbie Palmer, were exaggerating their stories of abuse and child molestation because some polygamy-apologist says they are. Can't imagine it? Me neither. Because it would—and should—never happen. Not with evidence that flimsy.

But then, Siddiqui's never been too hung up on veracity. Have a look at this takedown of his May 9 column—where he uses falsehoods to blast Canada's involvement in Afghanistan—by the folks at Army.ca.

Come to think of it, since, in that column, he calls on Canadian troops to save Muslims in Darfur, but essentially demands surrender of Afghanistan's Muslims to the Taliban ("If the U.S. tactics were going to work, they would have by now"), I'd say he's not much for consistency, either.

Posted by Kevin Libin on May 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Wonkitties: Say it ain't so!

Um, I've described Toronto Star columnist Rondi Adamson as one of the best columnists in Canada -- or words to that effect.

But . . .

In her column published in The Red Star, here, Rondi raises the spectre of a carbon tax as well as incentives for green energy.


Er, in those immortal words of my second-most-favourite-American philosopher, Linus, when he's finally had enough:   AARGH!

I'm willing to concede incentives for so-called green fuels which all too often are more harmful than high-efficiency use of petroleum.  This was the option the federal Minister of Environment espoused on Sunday's CTV Question Period with Jane Taber.

But carbon tax?



Say it ain't so, Rondi.

I say, fire up coal-fed electricity generating plants across Ontario -- or Canada, for that matter -- like the one near the north shore of Lake Erie.  They're efficient, deliver low emissions, they're cheaper than nuclear to start up and power down -- let alone build or dismantle, and Canada has mountains of cheap coal.  Leave natural gas for heating homes.

And leave off a carbon tax!

I say again, with Linus and with conviction:  AARGH!

Posted by Russ Kuykendall on May 22, 2006 in Media | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Mounties' memorial

From a PMO news release:

Public events for Prime Minister Stephen Harper for Tuesday, May 23rd are as follows:

11:00 am – Prime Minister Stephen Harper will lay a wreath on behalf of all Canadians at the First Annual National RCMP Memorial Service.

Posted by Russ Kuykendall on May 22, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Shameless Self-Promotion: Damn those Firewalls Edition

My latest, at the Star, about Rona Ambrose, Kyoto, et cetera, and another, at the Citizen. The latter is behind a subscription firewall, so you can only read the first line. But that first line is funny, really funny!

Cross-posted at Wonkitties.

Posted by wonkitties on May 22, 2006 in Canadian Politics | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Harper's gets a pass

As Rondi noted the other day, Harper's Magazine is featuring the Danish cartoons in their June issue (confidentially: I knew they were planning it when one of their designers called my up a couple of months ago and asked where he could find the cartoons).

Anyway, the U.S. book chain borders—the one that refused to stock the magazine, Free Inquiry, for publishing the cartoons back in March, appears to have given a pass to Harper's.

I'm sure this won't be the only bookstore on the continent that makes an exception for Lewis Lapham's magazine. But to be honest, I don't mind. Bookstores are just that: stores. They're not supposed to have any more principles than a Sam Goody's or a Cinnabon should. I honestly believe that the officers of those corporations were fearful that something would happen to them if they carried Free Inquiry, or the Western Standard issue with the cartoons. Of course they did: all the hysterical news networks told them something would. The store operators may not have acted in the best interest of liberalism, or of Canada, but they only owe a duty to shareholders.

All I care about is that the cartoons are getting out there. It may be two months after the fact, and it may require the imprimatur of a mighty liberal like Lapham to make it happen, but anything that makes it clear that these cartoons are not something we should fear, is a good thing. Congratulations to Harper's, Borders and all of the Canadian retailers who choose to carry this June issue of Harper's, for acting normal.

Posted by Kevin Libin on May 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (20) | TrackBack

Friday, May 19, 2006

Canada sanctions Iran?!?

Canadian government is limiting its Iran related official contacts according to this story via International Trade Ministry of Canada web site.

This is getting very interesting...

Read the rest @ The Spirit of Man

Posted by Winston on May 19, 2006 in International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (19) | TrackBack

I Spoke too Soon

Apparently, President Nutjob's letter to Benedict was a chain letter!

Dear Friends,
My name is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In June of 2005, in a free and democratic and inclusive election, I was elected President of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Though I have spoken only the truth about the great lie that was "the Holocaust," the whore of Zion Great Satan has tried, unjustly, to silence me. Though Allah wished for the Islamic Republic of Iran to prosper, the Great and Mini Satans (the United States and Israel, respectively), had other plans. They did not wish for Iran's peaceful nuclear program to grow, creating fear where there should only be acceptance. They used every bit of Jew-power at their disposal to stop me, whipping up hysteria around the globe through the controlled-entirely-by-Jews media. I felt defeated, and ready to give up.
Then, in January of 2006, I received a chain letter, telling me how I could develop as much enriched uranium as I wanted, whenever I wanted. I was naturally very skeptical, and tossed the letter aside. But one dark night, sinking into the depths of despair, it came to me. Why not give the letter a try? Three months later, I had my enriched -- only to be used for peaceful purposes -- uranium.
So, I propose to you, that if you believe you deserve that lucky break, in spite of what those whores of Zion and Zionist dogs in Washington say, simply follow the easy instructions below. Your dreams will come true.
Sincerely yours,

Cross-posted at Wonkitties.

Posted by wonkitties on May 19, 2006 in International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (33) | TrackBack

A rolling Rock gathers no Mo

National Post: Canada takes UN fight to world media--Chief's selection process. What's Allan Rock doing? I don't know really, but there seems to be an air of desperation about this stepping "outside diplomatic circles. . . appealing to the international media." The article doesn't mention it, but the big hook comes out for Rock in July to yank him off the world stage as Canada's ambassador to the United Nations to be replaced by John McNee.

I'll use the above-referenced article simply as a segue into an excerpt from an interview I conducted with Maurice Strong in the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver on March 31 (that interview and his remarks at the Globe 2006 conference formed the basis for this Western Standard cover story. The excerpt below was cut out of the article due to lack of space). UN watchers know of Strong's long and ongoing influence on that organization--as my story notes, Strong told me he had just got off the phone with the UN deputy secretary general moments before I arrived--so those watchers might enjoy parsing Strong's words:

KS:  What advice would you have for the next secretary general of the United Nations?

Maurice Strong: Well, I guess, I think it is a difficult job. The next secretary general should be one who can the organization function. And in fact it does function better than most people think, not across the board because the UN is many things. Some things it does extremely well, some things it doesn’t do well. And the next secretary general has got to demonstrate he can make the machine work. And Kofi Annan has been in my view one of the best secretary generals. It is a tough job but he has I think done more than enough. That doesn’t mean he should be immune to criticism but over all he’s restored the position of the UN. On almost any global issue now, you look at the media and one of the first things they do is quote Kofi Annan. Now, they didn’t used to do that with Boutros-Ghali and some of the others. So basically with all the criticisms he’s received he’s done a good job. But it’s not easy to do the job. You have to exercise a combination of moral leadership and pragmatic leadership, managerial leadership. You got to continue the reform process but it’s got to be more than rhetoric. And remember, Secretary Annan is very limited in what he can do about reform. I headed up his first reform program and there were two sections to it. One was the things that were under his control and every one of those things was done. We took 30 different departments and agencies and consolidated them into four decision making groups. It wasn’t perfect but we did make some real progress at that level. But not a single thing that we recommended to governments--which only governments could do because they’re the board of directors, they’re the shareholders, they’re the owners of the organization--not a single one of them was done. So the real problem, the secretary general always has to bear the brunt of criticism for lack of reform and yet the real decisions on reform are usually withheld by the very governments that keep pressing rhetorically for reform. So the secretary general has to be strong. He has to be a person of character. He has to have capacity. He’s got to have a type of willingness to withstand and to deal with a variety of crosscurrents of criticism and opportunity. So, you know, I think the quality of the person is the key thing, whether he has the characteristics that will permit him to command confidence of his staff, yes, of governments, and to command confidence in a world in which agreement and consensus around every issue is simply not going to be feasible. But if you can command respect and confidence, you can help to come up with answers, and you can help to come up with the capacity to implement the decisions that are made. You can’t expect the secretary general to be a miracle person, but he’s got to be as close to it as we can find on this human planet.

Posted by Kevin Steel on May 19, 2006 in International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Remember when Canada was revered as the conscience of the world?

Well, get ready for a comeback.  Stephen Harper is restoring the reputation of the Great White North with remarkable speed (ninth item).

Posted by D.J. McGuire on May 19, 2006 in Canadian Politics, International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (17) | TrackBack

As Long as He Doesn't Start Sending Chain Letters

President Nutjob has apparently written to the Pope.

Cross-posted at Wonkitties.

Posted by wonkitties on May 19, 2006 in International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Angels Deployed!

For the past few weeks I have been putting together a rather important project - one I hope you'll join me in.

As you may or may not know, I am a member of Soldiers Angels in the United States. I am currently on my second "deployment", as my first charge returned home safely before Christmas. For a couple of years now I have looked for a similar program which serves Canadian soldiers, and I have found nothing. I pitched the idea to the military, but got a very unenthusiastic response. So I decided to build one myself.

Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you Canadian Angels.

For the time being, this is a one-woman operation, but I know that will change within hours of this announcement. I am also planning to register it as a non-profit, and I have been in touch with the accountant. Please click on the picture above, and see what it's all about.

The main thing I need right now is help spreading the word to the Armed Forces. Due to the military's lack of interest, I can't quite figure a way to get the news out to those deployed (or to those about to be). Any assistance you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

I believe I shall have plenty of volunteer Angels, as I receive at least a dozen emails a week asking me if such a program exists for Canadian soldiers. For the first time I can say yes.

Posted by RightGirl on May 19, 2006 in Military | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Gun registry successfully kept guns out of the United States

The people for and against the long-gun registry have been tossing allegations back and forth about how effective the registry has been in fighting crime. Often this takes the form of statistics. For: An average of 5,000 queries a day are made by law enforcement agencies.  Against: Virtually all the queries are automatically generated by local police computers whenever any kind of information is accessed, including outstanding parking fines.

The problem is that it is hard to really understand how useful the registry is when you look at broad collections of numbers.

So I decided to focus on one particular event, chosen at random, described by the Coalition for Gun Control:

In May 2000, the firearm registry played a pivotal role in uncovering what is alleged to be one of the largest and most sophisticated firearm smuggling rings in North America. Likely destined for the black market, nearly 23,000 firearms and their components were seized.

Wow, 23,000 firearms kept off of Canadian streets!  That is impressive.

Well, the truth is more complicated, as it always is.  As it turns out, the guns in question were World War II vintage M1 Garands.  US law prohibits firearms exported to foreign countries from being re-imported into the US.  This law helps protect the firearms industry from having to compete against itself.  In this incident, 1,000 rifles and 22,000 receivers (the middle bit that connects the stock, barrel, trigger, and 53 other parts required to make a working rifle) were legally imported into Canada, with the intention of smuggling them into the US to feed the antique collectors market.

Apparently, the smugglers decided to follow the law and register the rifles here.  The volumes involved raised a red flag and the authorities were able to roll up the smuggling ring.

Let's recap.  The billion-dollar long-gun registry was successfully used to prevent Americans from getting their hands on guns that were legally present in Canada and were being legally registered, thus preventing the loss on untold numbers of sales for the Winchester firearms company.

Why would the Coalition for Gun Control be happy that the registry helped increase sales from an American gun manufacturer? 

Is the moral of this story that people who are smuggling guns shouldn't register them?  Are people who smuggled guns into Canada instead of out of Canada registering their guns too?

[Extended entry, with references, at Angry in the Great White North]

Posted by Steve Janke on May 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack