Friday, August 31, 2007

I've Got Your Back

Well it seems that the government has hired an international academic to advise them. Is that unusual? No. Do all governments seek the advice of like minded individuals to bolster their position? Of course. Some also seek the comments of those with a contrarian view. This government... not so much.

So what is so special about this particular hiring? Well, I guess it gives us a glimpse at the talking points that will be put forward about the treatment of prisoners taken in Afghanistan. The government has obviously tried to come up with rationale for ignoring International treaties, (once again), this time concerning human rights.

Christopher Greenwood, a professor of international law at the London School of Economics, submitted an opinion in mid-August to the Federal Court, which is hearing an application by Amnesty International to halt all prisoner transfers by Canadian soldiers to Afghan authorities.

Prof. Greenwood has also been called as witness for Bush, but, full disclosure, he was also a witness for the Lib's and I disagree with his opinion there too.

So we now know what position the con's are going to take. Presumably, they feel that they will be insulated, because the Lib's used him too. Wrong, they had Axworthy coming out against him.

Here is what disturbs me though:

Greenwood's 34-page opinion for Canada's Federal Court, dated Aug. 14, says it was prepared at the request of Gen. Rick Hillier, the chief of defence staff.

Why didn't MacKay make the request? Well, it could be argued he's too high in the pecking order to do such a thing. Fair enough. But what about the Deputy Minister or others in the department? Obviously, the government is seeking "sound bite" moments and a defense to their position. Why is Hillier directing this? Aren't the Armed Forces beholding to "we the people"? Don't they take their orders through the government, supposedly directed by us?

How is it that the Military is developing, perhaps not policy, but guidelines to defend that policy?

I don't know if this is right or wrong to be honest. I don't know Hillier's job description, but I'm uncomfortable with this.

What say you?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Accountability? What a Farce

It's always something, isn't it? In 2005 the Con's failed to disclose 1.7 million in delegate fees. This year, we have this.

We'll have to wait to see if the allegations are true of course, but at this moment in time, it doesn't look good. Especially when you see them back pedalling.

Wasn't there another story a little while back that suggested that the party was pressuring it's senior staffers to pay $1000.00 each to the party? Whatever happened with that?

And of course we now have this nasty piece of business. It's pretty clear that the con's believe they can flout convention, procedure and perhaps even the law. The attitude of Dick Harris is pretty galling, but sadly not shocking.

Canadians may not have been paying attention to politics this summer, but if the con's think this stuff is going to go away, they are mistaken.

They continue to attempt to resuscitate AdScam as the issue of the day, which is hilarious since only 2% of the country still cares. Not such a good strategy imo, when you're involved in a contemporary scandal.

These guys are about as devious as it gets and it's catching up to them.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Plus ça Change...

Moving a bad Minister to a new file, amounts to two departments failing, though in this case, Verner had already done a number here.

The latest Senlis report points out some real problems, (still), in Afghanistan. Oda's response, just as it was when she held the Heritage file, addresses nothing.

We need answers here, real ones. We must understand where all the money is going. I know it's complicated, but I've read that it goes into a general pool and not necessarily distributed as we intended.

Furthermore, how on earth is this helping our troops? You cannot win hearts and minds while people starve. You do not bring public opinion around, when you aren't able to assist with injured civilians, unless they can make their way to your camp, risking their lives once again.

This is a perfect example of the kind of clarity many of us are demanding. If different aspects of government are working at cross purposes, and it seems obvious they are, what is the point?

There has been a military presence in Afghanistan for 6 years now, (not us specifically), but that is how long the west has been there. Why is it still in such dire straights? Why isn't the strategy being examined more fully? Why is the government so incredibly reluctant to answer these important questions?

I'm beginning to believe that the government thinks this is an untenable situation, but it would be political suicide to admit it, so the juvenile "stay the course" rhetoric prevails.

We need a national debate and we need it now. If it results in a change and a way to make it work, fine. The government would gain far more support if that was laid out.

Iraq and Afghanistan are not comparable, except as it relates to the rhetoric of "doing more of the same", even when it's not working and frankly making things worse. MacKay will toe the party line, as will Oda and Bernier.

New salespeople is not what we need. What we need is some intelligent discourse, something we will not get from this government.

To those who are on the "right" of this issue and will be tempted to dismiss this report as "left wing loons"...Senlis supports the military effort.

It's a long read, but I urge those who have an opinion on Afghanistan to read the report.

The Wrong Decision

The decision to change a controversial panel at the Canadian War Museum is wrongheaded in my view.

Vet's have lobbied to change the wording on a panel entitled, An Enduring Controversy.

The panel currently reads:
"The value and morality of the strategic bomber offensive against Germany remains bitterly contested. Bomber Command's aim was to crush civilian morale and force Germany to surrender by destroying its cities and industrial installations. Although Bomber Command and American attacks left 600,000 Germans dead and more than five million homeless, the raids resulted in only small reductions in German war production until late in the war."

That is a fact, it is still bitterly contested. So why are we appeasing a special interest group? As MacMillan points out, this is not a war memorial, it's a museum dedicated to providing factual information to the public.

It is not passing judgement on our Veterans. It simply points to the debate as to whether or not that particular strategy resulted in the desired objective.

I really don't understand why the Museum has caved here, but I think it sets a very dangerous precedent. It remains to be seen just how much the wording will change, but no group should have the right to change historical fact.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Steven Truscott

It's difficult to know what to say about today's decision, except that I am thrilled for him, and his family.

Who among us can imagine what life, (the past 48 years at least), must have been like for this soft spoken man? I mention that he is soft spoken because it has always struck me as remarkable, that he never seemed to harbour anger. He always appeared focused on seeing justice done. I understand that he never really thought that it would happen in his lifetime, having completely lost faith in the Justice system.

While this may seem to be a case relevant only to the past, I think it raises many questions about our contemporary Justice system as well. We are less inclined in 2007 to simply take the word of those in the "system" as being gospel. That is a good thing. We see that playing out now concerning the Surete at Montebello. Do we question enough? No, I don't think so. This government and all governments must be held to account and in my opinion, they are not. Inquiries such as the one going on re' Air India are often necessary and reveal much. They should not be resisted so often.

It brings the death penalty into focus again, something that I know many on the right still want. That will never happen of course and thank goodness most of us have evolved beyond that, unlike our neighbours to the south.

It also raises the issue that the person who actually murdered Lynne Harper, will never be found. Surely that is something that must be looked at. Not in this case of course, all the evidence has been destroyed. I feel very badly for that family. After all these years, no answers.

Our system, as it is set up, necessitated that the Crown argue against this outcome for Truscott. As flawed as that may appear to be, it's the system we have and I far prefer that to allowing the Attorney General to proclaim on such issues unilaterally.

This case is filled with relevance to the present day. My hope is that we will not forget that and that we will move forward with the intention of changing that.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Base Policy on Science not Ideology

In a recent speech to the Canadian Medical Association, Tony Clement claims that the con's are going to "get tough on drugs". Not a surprise really, but, I have a real problem with this approach if it simply focuses on their ideology and does not accept science or facts. As it relates to kid's, it sounds like they are going to take the failed, "just say no" approach. Knock yourself out, I say.

I'm sure too, that they will attempt to put more laws on the books, especially concerning marijuana. We are so past that discussion, it's laugh out loud funny. Tougher laws have done nothing to reduce consumption or sales. Those issues will burn themselves out pretty quickly I think and it will really highlight once again just how out of touch this group is.

My larger concern is the Conservative view of centres like Insite in Vancouver. They have chosen thus far, to listen to right wing groups and of course they do not consult anyone outside their sphere. That is not how you create policy. Seeking out research that supports your case, is ideological. The con's are famous for this, suggesting that that they seek input. BS. Just consider the issues that were discussed at the SPP conference and who they consulted.

The science that backs up the success of these programs is not to be ignored and if this government decides to do that, there will be a huge outcry. There will be yet another sector in this country that will be actively protesting this government. This program has been a success, especially if you think back to when and why they started. The object of the exercise was to get people off the street, shooting up, leaving their needles behind, only to be re-used, which spreads HIV and Hepatitis, and overdosing on the street with no one paying attention.

This is not a facility that provides drugs. No. They provide a clean environment, clean needles, clean water, (they formerly used water from puddles), to keep them and the population at large, safe.

If the con's do not support this facility, they will expose their "Leave it to Beaver" attitude. The world has changed and it's left 33% of the population behind.

As an aside, how many groups are not enamoured with this government now? The Arts Community, many farmers, environmentalists, Income Trust investors, conservatives who resent recent bloated budgets, the Aboriginal community, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, not to mention 66% of voters, and the list goes on.

Even the municipal police are behind the Insite program. Now that Insite is increasing their reach, thanks to the province of BC, if the Federal government pulls the rug out from under them, not only will there be a political price to pay, there will be a price to society and that is unconscionable .

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Loyal to Whom?

Stephane Dion has been very clear since February, that Canada should inform NATO, the US and of course Afghanistan, that come 2009, Canada will be willing to stay in Afghanistan, but not on the front lines. Our mission will change then. He has called on Harper to make this clear, but of course Harper says nothing, except that we won't extend, unless there is consensus. There is of course no consensus, so I have no idea what that means.

I think I do now know why he is being so evasive. You see, we of course are not the only country voicing our concerns.

WASHINGTON - The United States is worried about weakening Italian and German military commitments in Afghanistan as casualties increase in the fight to stem the bloody Taleban insurgency, officials said.
Debate is raging in Italy and Germany, and to a lesser extent the Netherlands and Denmark, on whether they should remain in the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF), already grappling with a shortage of troops in the face of one of the most intense military engagements in decades.

How can Harper let his buddy George down, knowing that many other countries are considering the same options? What this should tell us, is that many allies are seeing the futility of this war. However, as noted in the previous post, the considerations of the US seem to take precedent over Canadian interests.

What is interesting now though, is that Harper has political considerations at home to be concerned with. The war is not popular and it's bound to get worse. Activity by insurgent groups is growing, poppy crops/sales are up, civilians are being killed at a higher rate, including by troops, (specifically the US), and another "friendly fire" incident has taken's pretty tough to argue that things are getting better.

So, will Harper choose his relationship with the US, or his desire for a majority? My guess is, they are working out a way to do both. I'm sure that Maxime Bernier and Peter MacKay are being given their "sell lines" as I type. They've been MIA, and while I have no doubt that Bernier is on a steep learning curve, MacKay is pretty familiar with the file and has been quiet as a mouse.

Other key countries like Canada and Britain remain committed despite their own losses. On Friday three British soldiers were killed while fighting Taleban forces near Kajaki Dam in Helmand Province after being hit by a bomb dropped by a US fighter jet.

Why no mention of the debate going on here? Every opposition party has been riding Harper on this issue for months, yet it's reported we're still solidly committed. Why do you suppose that is? Bush mentioned that he had a better understanding of where Canada stands vis a vis, Afghanistan, when he was here for the SPP. It's rather interesting that a report from the US, post SPP, doesn't seem to think so. Certainly the ones writing the story were not alerted to any concerns here. That tells me that Harper told Bush what his political problem was and they have come to an agreement. What that might be, I have no idea yet, but I suspect we'll start to get an inkling soon. Whatever it is, it can't be good.

You know, the oddest thing about this whole mission is the fact that the US continues to crow about it's importance and the need for resolve, yet they were the first to give up their commitment to it. NATO entered in good faith, but it's being played, imo. That we are supporting the US, while they flout most International Agreements, is quite something.

Guess Who is in Charge Here?

Of course that question is easy to answer. How about if we ask, who sets policy for Canada and it's citizens? It would seem that Canada defers to the US for that.

The foreign affairs minister was advised to dismiss questions about whether Canada would even accept the repatriation of Omar Khadr, a Canadian held in the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, much less ask Washington for it.

So, this government has never even asked the question of the US. That said, MacKay is advised to reply in a way that would lead Canadians to believe that they were in touch on the issue.

Armed with this background information, MacKay and his staff were told that they might be asked what Canada was doing about Khadr's continued detention at Guantanamo Bay.
MacKay was to answer: "The government of Canada has sought and received assurances that Mr. Khadr is being treated humanely. ... Mr. Khadr faces serious charges."

I wrote about this issue earlier this month and at the time I suggested that either Harper was too worried about the political fallout to raise this issue, or he simply didn't care. It would appear that both statements are true. To consider that this government doesn't make a move on anything, without first considering the US reaction, is ridiculous.

Of course no reporter had the courage to ask about the situation at the SPP press conference. Jelly beans and deriding the opposition were much more interesting subjects to our increasingly obtuse media.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Experience Versus What Exactly?

Barack Obama is often criticised for not having enough experience to be President. Watching this interview, I'd say his ability to correctly weigh the issues and possible outcomes is more valuable than the experience of many of his opponents.

Yet Fox News, in it's fair and balanced way, (gag), concentrates on the really important stuff.

Call me crazy, but this evokes memories of comments that come from the right in Canada, such as, "citoyen Dion", phoney smears about Navdeep Bains, "vendu" and so on. In our case however, it's not coming from a cheesy right wing attack group, posing as news. No in our case it is coming directly from our government.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Another Day, Another Fabrication

What is Stockwell Day's response to the admission of the Quebec undercover police? To create a story out of whole cloth of course. He's become quite proficient at this, in fact I'd say it's one of the things he does best.

I'm not quite sure what video he watched, but it sure doesn't equate to what I saw.

Day says video he's seen of the incident at the Montebello, Que., meeting shows the undercover officers were exposed because they were not committing violence.

They were violent toward the protesters and in a cowardly fashion asked to be taken out of the situation, because they had been exposed. Then of course, the force went on to deny the story. Shouldn't that be looked into?

Aside from his inability to see the facts, his response is completely unacceptable. He is the Minister of Public Safety. The Public in his title, means all Canadians, even protesters for whom he shows such disdain. The police obviously crossed the line here, shoving peaceful protesters, etc. To try and shrug this off and worse yet, continuing to treat the protesters as if they are making something out of nothing, is ridiculous. I can't say I'm sorry about it though, because I think it will come back to bite him.

Here's the thing about Canadians. We believe in our right to protest. We believe in our right to keep our government to account and to make serious issues/ decisions, such as those discussed at the SPP, transparent.

What the police did was wrong. Can you have undercover police at a protest? Sure, especially if there is information that there could be trouble. Do you dress them as thugs? Do you cover their faces with bandannas? Do you arm them with rocks? It's beyond ridiculous to think that they were there to collect intelligence. They were there to incite, plain and simple. If not, why weren't they dressed as a non-threatening protester?

Anyway, stories are short lived on blogs, but I raised this again, because I don't think it's going to go away, nor do I think it should. This story highlights the sensitive balance between security and rights, a balance that is completely out of whack imo, especially in the US. I for one want to ensure we don't go there, but I'm quite convinced we have.

The group of protesters involved will keep it alive, because it smacks of what we decry in undemocratic countries. If that label attaches itself to this government, so be it. Day is simply assisting that process.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Les Provocateurs...the Truth?

Guess what, the one's who were called whacko's were right.

Gives me the creeps to be honest. Democracy? Staged democracy, scripted democracy, democracy by illusion? Please, this is not democracy.

Do not come here and tell me it's necessary in this "age of terra".

You either believe in democracy or you don't.

I won't slag the con's, because I don't know how long it's been going on. It's wrong in any's not democracy.

Disturbing News

Reading this article, chilled me to the bone. It's not what is said per se, it's the implication.
Obviously, these individuals were getting to close to the truth and in a position to expose it. What's odd, is that we know the truth and have done nothing about it. You would think that the Sudanese government would remain unworried, as the world has turned it's back, so to speak, for so long.
I look at what is happening here, think of our soldiers and think of how much we could offer here. I do understand how complicated the situation is. I understand how sending International troops could be misconstrued and that by using African troops makes more sense, but surely there is a way to design a mission, well articulated to the masses, that could prevent the potential backlash.
Not having officials there is worrying. Eyes and ears that can keep that government constrained, however slightly, are needed.
It will be an interesting story to follow.
I've posted this before, but it's an interesting site for those of you who are interested.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

While watching the lead up to the recent SPP conference, I found it odd that specific areas were being set up for protesters. I hadn't seen that before and so of course it crossed my mind that it defeated the purpose of protests.
Whether you agree with peaceful protests or not, it's often marched out as an example of how wonderful democracy is. In this case, however, it seemed to me that this democratic right was being controlled. The protesters obviously thought the same thing, as they did not go to where they told and decided for themselves where they wanted to be.
I didn't think much more about it, until I saw this this morning. Yes indeed, a manual on how to deal with dissenters.
It directs the White House advance staff to ask local police "to designate a protest area where demonstrators can be placed, preferably not in the view of the event site or motorcade route."
Coincidence? Not a chance, in my opinion. I wonder if the Harper government has had one original idea since taking power?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

It's Not Going Well

How tragic. The body of one brave soldier is being repatriated to this country and two more are killed today.

The soldier coming home, Private Simon Longtin, received an incredible reception, including in Toronto, but obviously his death was felt the most in Quebec.

So, now we have this. Quebec no doubt, will react badly. I don't have enough fact's to make a real comment. I wonder though, are these new troops operating in an area that was thought to be secured?

I don't know, but I will do what I can to find out. I do know that such places, Provincial Reconstruction areas, are being attacked. One step forward, five back?

This idiotic pursuit, that obviously encourages attack, needs to be looked at now. Losing a 23 year old young man....think back to being 23.... for a pursuit to nowhere, is terribly disturbing to me.

This is a Bush led mission. Bush himself compared Iraq recently, to Vietnam. What does that tell you?


I find it disturbing that the RCMP don't seem to have made any headway on this, given that the first incident occurred in the spring.

I want to have faith in the RCMP, but given that the motivation for these threats dates back to the Air India bombing, it seems unreasonable to me that the RCMP wouldn't have a better handle on individuals in BC, that could be connected to them.

It's ridiculous, that a group still has the power to terrorise a community the way these people do. We are all so consumed with the amorphous "war on terra", (thanks to the politics of fear) that we seem to ignore that which is tangible and a genuine threat.

As I said, I want to have faith in the RCMP, (and I have no reason to doubt that they are working on this case), but it's difficult to see what has really changed when you read something like this.

Gee, What a Surprise!

According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the "new" government hasn't been telling us the truth about their tax cuts.

It seems that they have been inflating the amount of tax reduction they have brought to bear since being elected. What a shock, Jim Flaherty fudging the numbers!

"Three tricks were used to arrive at the larger -- and more impressive -- figure. The Conservatives magically credit themselves $500 million for enacting measures announced in the 2005 Liberal budget; they include an income supplement program for the working poor worth $1.2 billion as a tax cut instead of properly classifying it as an expenditure; and mysteriously calculate the 2006 budget's half-point personal income tax increase as a multibillion dollar tax reduction.''

Of course, we in Ontario are all too familiar with Flim Flam Flaherty's way with numbers, given that he hid a $5.6 billion deficit while in government here.

My only shock is that anyone would be surprised to learn that this guy is as duplicitous as they come.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Two Presidents and a Petulant Partisan

Would it surprise you to know that during the press conference at the conclusion of the SPP meeting, Harper used every opportunity to swipe at Dion? No, I didn't think so.

Here is a man, who is supposed to be discussing serious issues concerning this country and ALL of it's citizens, but of course, that is beyond his capability. He concerns himself with his base. That's it, that's all.

Taking a question, from a Fox News reporter no less, (who incidentally was grinning while it was asked, so it was set up), what they thought of the rumours of a "super highway" etc. and the protests. At the nub of his question, was the issue of secrecy and did they think that was was fueled these rumours. Both presidents answered rather generally, mostly touting the usefulness of the meetings, though Bush provided Harper some cover by suggesting it was humorous. Calderon also stated that it was most important to explain clearly to their respective citizens what the meetings are about.

Did Harper do that? Of course not. He took the opportunity to take shots at Dion, lumping him in with every conspiracy theorist out there. Of course, Dion said none of the things that Harper accused him of. He requested that Harper advise Bush that the diversion of water would not be included in any discussions.

We all know that as a part of the North American Future Project 2025, that water was up for discussion. It states clearly that the US and Mexico will eventually run out of water and that Canada possesses 20% of the world's fresh water. Given that reality, the report suggests that options should be explored to determine what can be done about this. Specifically:

Because water availability, quality, and allocation are likely to undergo profound changes between 2006 and 2025, policymakers will benefit from a more proactive approach to exploring different, creative solutions beyond the current transboundary [sic] water management agreements that the United States has reached with both Mexico and Canada. One such option could be regional agreements between Canada, the United States and Mexico on such issues as water consumption, water transfers, artificial diversion of fresh water, water conservation technologies for agricultural irrigation, and urban consumption.

Even though several agreements pertaining to surface water and water quality are in place between the three countries, little or no policy has been formulated concerning ground water.

We know that the jurisdiction of water lies primarily with the states in the US and our provinces here, but the report goes on to say that, the two countries must work out these bureaucratic challenges particularly if the overriding future goal of North America is to achieve joint optimum utilization of the available water and to implement.

There is no conspiracy theory here, these are stated goals put out by one of the working groups, presented to the SPP. No one is making this stuff up. Now, by having that stated goal as just one aspect of what the SPP is looking into, does not mean that Canada has agreed to anything and Dion didn't say that. He said, if this is on the table, you must make Canada's position clear, and that is, we are not prepared to do this. I'm speculating now, but I presume his concern lies in how we negotiated energy, that is, if there is a shortage, we cannot cut off the US, to divert what we may need here to take care of Canadians.

Call me crazy, but isn't the job of the PM to put Canada and Canadians first?

Apparently not so with our current PM. He's so consumed with scoring political points, that he takes an issue as serious as this to make jokes and deride the opposition and that "left-wing media", laughs with him.

Most Canadians of course will not have seen this press conference. Dim bulbs like Taber and Duffy are sure to play it up, but in the end, that means little. What is more concerning, is that Harper has nary a clue of what it is to be a statesman. I for one am beyond tired of having a PM with the instincts of an 8 year old guiding this country.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Monumental Idiocy

Thirteen years ago, Conrad Black decided that yet another memorial to our Veterans was in order. Fair enough. Though given the times, it seems obvious that his grand gesture was meant to suggest that yet not enough had been done by the Canadian government, so he took the task upon himself.
It seems however that his plan has not worked out all that well. In fact, he's so incensed at it's failure, that he's now blaming Canada and suggesting that the government spend our money, to fix his problem.
His plea has reached the ears of this outraged columnist. The complete "outrage", he purports, is only equalled by Black's.
Since when are "we the people", supposed to pony up our money to bail out failed private enterprises and can someone please explain to me where this might be found in the conservative guide to "hands off all that is private"? I mean, how can you not laugh out loud?
Irony really is delicious isn't it? Conrad Black, pleading for government to bail his failed effort out, oh, and while their at it, perhaps they'd consider re-instating his citizenship. Ha! Surely he still has friends, (maybe not), that he could call upon to help him out? 25 grand indeed is a pittance to his rank and file.
Oh and as to disrespecting our Veteran's, sorry, that honour lies with Lord Black who did not ensure this was looked after, not we the Canadian people.
This is not about supporting the troops, it's not about supporting our Veterans, this is all about Lord Black, looking back on his accomplishments and attempting to have history record him, as he was not. Rewriting his legacy as it were. Pathetic really.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Security and Prosperity Partnership

This topic always generates controversy. It's one of those issues where supporters, casually dismiss the concerns of dissenters. While I do not profess to understand everything entailed with SPP, it's clear that those who cheer lead the deal either don't get it at all or are content to accept it's ramifications.

Little is served by outrage in my opinion, but giving voice to concern is necessary. Stephane Dion came out with a Blueprint for the upcoming meeting at Montebello and given what it is meant to do, communicate that he is watching and concerned, it's a good document. He's also showing that he isn't in the least worried about speaking up to the US, if elected. Now, that may lead to the US helping Harper even more during the next election, but so be it.

As for SPP itself, I do have many concerns. I don't know if the bulk water exportation fear is founded or not. The fact that the pat answer seems to be, "it's not on the agenda", means nothing to me. If you've been to large forums in the course of your career, you know full well that the formal Agenda reflects but a small portion of what goes on. All that would be considered "unfit for the masses", is not disclosed, but discussed in detail.

On it's surface, I suppose you could explain away why SPP makes sense, looking deeper though, there are many issues. Sovereignty, of course not being the least of them. Traditionally, sovereignty would suggest that a country has full independence on foreign and domestic policy. This agreement turns that on it's head. That included in the equation is a country that holds so much power, seems ludicrous, is ludicrous in my view.

Furthermore, whenever you enter into such agreements with countries of differing standards, it is inevitable that in order to get agreement, you must bow to the lowest common standard in order to include them. Witness the acceptance of the government willing to accept crops from the US, that contain higher levels of pesticide than we require here...they are intent on raising our levels at a time when we should be reducing them.

There are many more issues, but perhaps the largest, is the fact that the government is not accountable to the House, nor is the US government accountable to the Congress. In our systems we have checks and balances, designed to prevent such unaccountable activity. They are being ignored and that is wrong.

Whatever else the SPP evokes in you, you should at least be demanding accountability.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Bye, Bye Tom

The new candidate for Scarborough Southwest is Michelle Simson.

I don't know her, but here's her bio. Good to see yet another woman. I haven't tracked new candidates in any meaningful way, but it certainly looks like Dion is attempting to live up to his promise.

I'll refrain from being rude, but I cannot say I'll miss this guy.

He did give much of his life to public service though and that should be noted.

Selective Rights

I think the time has come when we must ask ourselves the difficult questions. So many serious subjects are reduced to "party" rhetoric, that deeper thinking doesn't occur.
The issue of Omar Khadr is one that seems to be sidestepped all to often by politicians. Today as part of his request to Mr. Harper, Dion included:
Demand the removal of Omar Khadr from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, and his transfer to the United States to be tried in a legitimate court. Mr. Khadr must also be afforded same the legal protections and guarantees upon which Canada’s government would insist for any other Canadian citizen. If the US cannot do so, we will call for Mr. Khadr’s repatriation to Canada where he can be dealt with by our justice system.
Khadr generates an awful lot of hatred and specific characterisation, which is really neither here, nor there. The real issue to me, is the desire to compromise the rights we associate (and cherish), with being a Canadian citizen. I simply don't believe you can choose to whom you will apply the rights implied by citizenship.
In doing so, surely you diminish it's value and our collective values that we generally view with great pride. Our country has developed through those values and while this is not the first time that we have reduced the rights of some, haven't we always lived to regret that? Haven't we always seen the great injustice of it as time passes? Aren't we meant to develop beyond the last error, not just keep repeating it? The Canadian aspect of Maher Arar's passport was ignored. Did we not learn from that?
Harper now stands virtually alone among U.S. allies in not condemning or even criticizing the Guantanamo prison camp, which even the administration here concedes has become a stain on America's reputation worldwide.
That is an astonishing fact. We know of course that Australia and the UK had all their Nationals returned. Harper is either to reluctant to demand the same, due to the potential political fall out, or he doesn't care and is comfortable with leaving him there.
Good for Dion in making this request of Harper. No one is asking for his freedom, he deserves to be charged and tried in a legitimate court of law. Dion is for the justice that we in Canada demand for ALL citizens, not just the one's you like.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wishing Him All the Best

Surprising news, to me at least. I wish him well as I'm sure everyone does...including Harper. Right?

Strategy and Pundits

I'm always fascinated by political pundits who strive to tell us what might be up in government. More and more, I read them and find myself smiling, because they appear to be pieces about, "how I'd like to see the world", rather than objective looks at the issues. This for instance is an example of everyone wanting their cake...

Norman Spector, a former diplomat and chief of staff to Brian Mulroney, said the political dynamic of the current minority Parliament doesn't favour a statesmanlike, non-partisan approach. He believes, however, that Harper has no choice but to strike a deal with at least one opposition party if he wants to preserve some semblance of his Afghan policy.

As if Harper would ever be non-partisan. That aside however the phrase, "some semblance of his Afghan policy", means what exactly? We have no clear articulation by this supposed "clear" PM of what his policy is. That is the problem. Aside from pumping money into the military mission, who has been clear about it? Do they want to stay the course, the military course, forever? A few years? What is the outcome they envisage? We know nothing about their plan, how on earth could they expect anyone to support it? Logical people need an end game laid out and the route to get there, before they can assess.

He also believes that, even if Harper can't cut a deal, he may decide to make continuation of the mission a confidence matter and dare the opposition to bring him down and force an election.
"When he says we don't cut and run, he means it. I think he will go quite far to keep us in Afghanistan."

Yeah, as if Harper would risk his precious majority on that, given the mood of the country. Good grief, to even type the words, "cut and run", screams US mimicry. Keep us in Afghanistan, for what?, is still missing.

Rob Huebert, a University of Calgary expert on defence policy, isn't so sure Harper would push the opposition to the wall. But he does think Harper is playing a political game with Dion and the Liberals as his chief targets.
The prime minister wins if Dion, whose party first sent troops to Afghanistan following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, relents in his current opposition and strikes a deal to keep them there.

That comment is so contrary to logic, it's difficult to dissect. The Lib's have always said, maintain out commitment to 2009, but then it's time for rotation, OUT of combat duty. We've worked our shift, period. Dion has been very clear on this and I'm baffled by how the media plays it a different way. Left wing media...what a joke.

If there's no deal, Harper's exit strategy is then to "wash his hands of the mission and blame the opposition," said Huebert.

Yeah that's the ticket, lol.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cabinet Shuffle

Well, the long awaited shuffle has of course occurred....yawn.
I hadn't made any predictions, as I usually find the exercise futile, but I can say, that I wasn't really surprised. The one move that perhaps is a bit weird, but explicable, is Maxime Bernier to Foreign Affairs. The explanation of course is a voice in Quebec to explain Afghanistan. A shrewd move I suppose, but one I doubt will pay off. Bernier is tight with messaging, but inexperienced with the file. In the end, he'll be repeating the same message that the gov't has stuck to and that is what isn't working, not so much the messenger.
Ablonzy is in, but in a junior position, so not at the Cabinet table. The lack of women in cabinet is still very obvious, though I will say I'm glad that petulant Guergis was not promoted.
O'Connor gone, big surprise! Not. Putting MacKay there is again a communications thing. Though this one is a bit interesting. It could prove to be a poison pill for MacKay. He cannot stray off script, which he's been known to do and that has national consequences. How it will affect him in his riding, I think, will either be positive or neutral.
Losing Prentice from Aboriginal Affairs may generate some reaction. He was respected in that role and I'm sure aboriginal groups are tired of their Minister's constantly changing. Strahl was generally respected, until the Wheat Board fiasco. Flouting legal decisions, does nothing for credibility.
Oda to CIDA, is a mistake I think. I haven't wrapped my head around all of it, but on the surface, she'll still be called on in QP and she under preforms. Verner to Heritage, interesting, but I can't figure her out. If she is a typical Quebecer, and I mean that in a good way, this may be a good move. I have no idea however, if she embraces the importance that Quebecers place on culture, over the culture her boss promotes.
All in all, the shuffle was about sending the same message, through different voices. Voices that are hopefully, for the government, more articulate and convincing. Will it work? I doubt it. It's not the people, it's the message, imo, that people are not buying. Harper has been unable to move his numbers and one of his big hurdles is women. I see nothing here that will sway them. Another is Ontario....what did he do there? Attention to Quebec? That's just going to tick the rest of the country off and it's too obvious.
So, all in all, yawn. The Opposition critic's have time to get their ducks in a row, knowing who they will face. They will of course hit the new Minister's weakest spot's and Parliament should prove interesting.
A last thought. Harper suggested that it was time that O'Connor expanded his breadth of knowledge. 40 years in Defense, he's what, 67 years old? Yeah, now is the time to learn. Laughable and lame.

A United Canada?

Part of Mr. Harper's new mantra includes talking about how "united" Canada has become under his watch. It's as ridiculous as saying the sky is green of course, nonetheless, I have no doubt that he'll continue to spew the line.

We know that, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Quebec are unhappy and making demands. Last week, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty voiced some concerns with the direction of the fed's and how equitable it was. Now we have this.

Mr. Lougheed told a Canadian Bar Association convention that a ferocious constitutional clash is all but inevitable, pitting the federal right to protect the environment against the provincial right to develop natural resources.

Good grief, could it be any worse? The only bright spot in all of this is that the government operates as if it has a blind eye to all of this reality. I don't think they do of course, but the appearance of same simply makes them look foolish.

More seriously, we knew he'd be bad for the country, but who knew it would happen so quickly?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Rove: The Beginning of the End

We've all seen or read about Karl Rove finally stepping down, using the well worn excuse of spending more time with family. In my opinion, someone so steeped in that ideology, with an election on the horizon, will not be off the political scene for very long. There are certainly enough Republican presidential candidates out there who would kill to have him around. "Swiftboating" tactics won't be far behind.

This is a brief look at Karl Rove, when he began, with the Nixon campaign. You can see his determination even then.

I'd love to believe that he's gone for good, but I just don't believe it.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

It's Haunting Me

I don't understand this story. I've watched this RCMP officer from time to time, in the current investigation and I would consider him honourable. I'm baffled at the fact, that he would continue the "all is well" message. Clearly there is self interest involved, fair enough, but would it not be better served by coming clean? I understand it is important that the RCMP maintain the faith that the Canadian public puts in them, but wouldn't that be better served by being honest and owning up to mistakes?
As you reflect on the recent past, Air India flight 182, surely it is obvious that we should be asking many questions. At that time we know that the birth of CSIS, was premature and fraught with problems that impacted on the RCMP. Fast forward to Arar, it's difficult to see that much has changed. They will swear that .."it's all good". A phrase used in this RCMP's description of their relationship with the FBI.
We are being fed a line that I vehemently object to ..."Trust us."
Sorry, I'm past that. I'm tired of the political pandering, no matter what side. It matters not. We as Canadians, all Canadians, must have faith in our justice system. We rely on political statements and the media to inform us. They, in my opinion are the least trustworthy.
It's time for people to understand the issues, make a logical choice and move forward.
We are in a quagmire of nonsense in this country. No one seems to know what is really happening, they prefer to take their political slant to the issue. That is crazy.
Crazy times, seek crazy measures. Let's consider truth to be crazy in this time and go after it.

Friday, August 10, 2007

I'm Not Sure Why This is a Story...

Apparently, this is a story. I suppose any marriage of someone in Parliament, is a story. I agree with Brison though, it will be nice when this is not news That it still is....a bit perplexing.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

They Knew

I realise that you cannot paint whole institutions with a broad brush, based on the behaviour of a few, but I'm really struggling with this. I presume we'll hear more as the days go on but as it stands at the moment, I can't say that I'm terribly comfortable with either CSIS or the RCMP.

That CSIS apparently knew about the rendition program, suspected that Arar had been subjected to it, then didn't inform the government, is stunning.

It speaks to an attitude that is truly disturbing. It resembles the attitude of the opposition at the time, that often claimed that Arar was a terrorist, without any substantial evidence to inform their claims. I do not expect that from our counter-terrorism institution, nor do I expect that the RCMP, would use less than reliable information to carry out their job.

Fast forward to today. The government enacted the Passenger Protect Program, (a no fly list) in June. That list is dependent on CSIS and RCMP information. While that list is not specifically given to foreign governments, (so far), it is provided to airlines, including national airlines. It does not seem inconceivable to me that certain countries would demand the information from the airline. Based on what we now know, that seems dangerous to me.

How Maher Arar has any faith in this country at this point, is beyond me, but I am glad that our justice system, served him in the end.

As was to be expected, Harper took the requisite shot at the Lib's with this comment:

Harper also attempted to shift the blame for what happened to Arar to the previous government, saying his aim is to "ensure that the events that occurred under the Liberals are not replicated for other Canadian citizens."

The hypocrisy of that statement, given their position at the time, is almost as stunning as the news about CSIS and the RCMP...not as surprising however.

To be honest, the report that came out today, makes me angry, but even more, it made me sad.

Update: Colour me surprised.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I can't get this Story out of my head

I read a story today in the Toronto Star. It was simply a side bar, so I'm unable to find it to link to it.
The headline read, Woman, 49, found dead in sweltering apartment.
The few lines that follow tell us that, Suzanne Young, a mentally ill woman was found dead in her apartment because she couldn't afford the air conditioning, available. When found, her apartment was sweltering. She was living on assistance and cleaned parking lots for extra money.
I can't get the story out of my head, because I don't understand how stories such as this are possible in this country.
I've heard subsequent radio reports that round this tragic story out a bit. She was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, but was taking medication and quite functional. None the less, she had an inordinate fear, that by opening her windows, she may be broken into and harmed, so she refused. She had an option to have air, through building management, but simply could not afford it.
Friends and neighbours are outraged, as am I, but the answers aren't simple.
It's easy to put this in a left/right paradigm, but I'm not sure it makes much sense to do that. Harris certainly carries blame. His cuts had a dramatic effect on mental health, all bad in my opinion. Rae is not without blame either and perhaps I stand to be corrected, but I think under his watch, it came to pass that people with mental health issues, could not be aided, without their consent. On the surface, it sounds very nice, but in the end, not so much and indeed, I think puts more people in harm's way.
So what to do, now? Government has not taken an aggressive stance here and they must, imo. I also think that at a community level, there should be more involvement. This woman's friends and neighbours were aware of her paranoia, perhaps they could have found the money as a group, to give her some a/c? Maybe not, perhaps they have their own financial constraints.
No easy answers here, but surely, there must be a way, in this country to prevent this.
49 years old, in Canada, to die of heat exposure? We're better than this aren't we?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

"Quebec As a Nation", Again

It would seem that the calm, united, Canada that Harper continues to crow about, is crumbling a bit, no?

Let's review shall we? Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and now Quebec are making demands. Ontario seems to be prepared to turn up the heat. Those who defend Harper continue to suggest that he's doing a marvelous job. Facts however seem, to be getting in their way.

It's not just provincial issues that are turning sour for this government. It would seem that everything they venture into, is proving to be a bad decision. Flaherty's Income Trust decision, brings him death threats, (I'll go on record here though, as saying that was deplorable. I cannot stand the man or his ideas, but no one deserves that and it must have been awful for him, and for his family.) That said, Canadians have not reacted well to that broken promise. The attempt to dismantle the Wheat Board, was clearly a stupid move, and now we have a concrete example as to how wrongheaded the Softwood Agreement was.

Ah, day by day, the adage, "the truth will prevail", gains a bit more credibility to me.

Oh, the Quebec thing? Dion warned Harper this would happen if he wasn't clear. Harper, trying to mke political points, ignored him. Silly man.

If you need a refresher on Dion's position, here you go. (sorry, I couldn't get the embed to work.)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

This Was a Surprise

Breaking with his colleagues, conservative journalist Lorrie Goldstein actually recognises the real Stephane Dion.
To any Conservative (or Liberal) who thinks this guy isn't tough enough to be prime minister, maybe you'd better think again.
He doesn't follow the pack of sycophants that prefer to present a false image of the man, but instead he suggests, rightly so, that he's not to be taken for granted. In fact, he goes further and suggests that underestimating him would be a mistake. What he say's about Dion, doesn't surprise me, but that he is giving this warning, does.
In one sense, having Conservatives underestimate this man, is an asset for the Liberals, but to be honest I'd prefer to raise the bar and actually debate the issues. If more conservative journalists actually take Mr. Goldstein's advice and take a serious look at Dion, the debate may be elevated out of Kindergarten and people may actually listen to what is important.
With any luck, they'd finally realise that Mr. Harper is not a Conservative, but actually a Reformist and what that really means for the country.
I think the Conservatives are too far gone though, in their juvenile style of debate, to really change. However, more articles like this simply reveals them for what they are.
Once again, I live in hope.

Friday, August 03, 2007

This is good news. I wonder though, if we'll learn much or more importantly, if Mr. Arar will?
Any thinking person realises that some information must be held back, but whenever I think of this case, I think, "what if it was me?". I'd want to know precisely what happened and I'd want to know it could never happen again.
Where has this gone in the States? Wasn't Leahy pushing on this issue? Well, that briefing brought forth little.
Asked if the senators had found out whether Canadian authorities were asked to take Mr. Arar back in 2002, before he was sent to Syria, but rebuffed the offer, Mr. Leahy said, "That's an excellent question," adding, "You should ask them."
Obviously he knows the answer. Shouldn't Mr. Arar?
Because he's still dissatisfied, I'm led to believe that we weren't asked, but I'd like the answer. We've seen the US Administration, react to non-information since 9-11 and worse yet, we've seen them get it wrong, time after time. CSIS? Anyone who has seen the Air India enquiry, will know that there are, or at least were, problems in that organisation. The Government of the day? Well, if they were complicit, we need to know that, don't we?
Justice Simon Noel of Federal Court ruled two weeks ago that those portions of the report would not endanger national security, diplomatic relations with other countries or the defence of Canada, the only things that could legally justify keeping them secret.
To be frank, at this point I couldn't care less about diplomatic relations with the US, as ridiculous as I know that is. They've made bone headed moves, one after the other since 9-11 and personally I think, they deserve no slack.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Roberval-Lac St. Jean Candidate

This looks like a good move. I wonder how long it will take for some conservative group to come out to slam her?

Her bio is here.

Update: One more candidate is announced, this time for for Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot. I would have preferred a woman, but I presume that the best candidates are being chosen. Based on the last election, it's difficult to imagine we've got a real shot.

His bio is here.

I'm Afraid the Facts Don't Support the Fiction

I'm afraid our PM is rather delusional.

"Despite the occasional squabbling between governments, the fact of the matter is this - our country has not been this united since our Centennial 40 years ago this year," Harper said to loud applause from about 1,000 Conservatives at a barbecue on the Charlottetown waterfront.

It's one thing to rally the troops, but his over the top rhetoric is laugh out loud funny particularly when you consider this.

No matter what Harper does, he simply isn't getting any traction.

A new Ipsos Reid poll finds that the Conservatives, at 34% support nationally, are down slightly from the results of the General Election in January of 2006 (36%)

I suppose he can be forgiven for trying to raise the spirits of his loyal supporters, as they must be extremely discouraged.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Tell Me You're Surprised

It's beyond obvious that Harper is simply not willing to allow his caucus, to speak to the media.
To call in the RCMP? Ridiculous! Of course the meetings are secret. No argument there, but the whole inability for any Conservative member to speak to media without being designated, come on!
RCMP? This man is manic, obsessed with running everything. Hmmm, what do we normally call these people?

Some Follow-up on the Pat Tillman Case

There seems to be something wrong with the embed code, so here is a link to Waxman's opening statement on You Tube.
I'll continue to update as more video becomes available, but the long and short of all of this, no one is responsible and no one knew a thing. It's utter BS of course. These are the same people who have been lying to the world for years. I'm still aghast that these individuals actually hold or held, positions of power.
Some testimony here. Summary here.