Friday, July 31, 2009

You're On Your Own!

I've stopped believing that the Conservative government can't go any lower. In fact, based on what I shared yesterday, I suspect we are far from seeing just how little this government cares about it's citizens and the reputation of this country.

You of course remember the Abderazik case and how the government was forced, yes forced, to bring him home. If it wasn't abundantly clear before just how little the Conservatives cared about this man's life, this should make it clear.

Abousfian Abdelrazik is home again in Canada after six nightmarish years in Sudan, but his ordeal is not over. He finds himself on a United Nations terrorist blacklist – the 1267 – which imposes a total asset freeze on him and all listed individuals. Canadian regulations implementing this list prohibit anyone from providing Mr. Abdelrazik with any kind of material aid, including salary, loans of any amount, food or clothing. He can barely survive while on this list.

“I need my named removed from that list,” he says. “I want to live my life like a normal Canadian.”

Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, who refuses to meet with Mr. Abdelrazik, cynically advised him of a UN website that explains how he can try to be “delisted” from the 1267 terrorist blacklist []. The Harper government, which has already caused this Canadian citizen such terrible damage, will not help him in any way. Yet like everything at the United Nations, delisting is an intensely politicized process. No one has actually been removed unless his government has lobbied on his behalf.

That last sentence kind of clinches it doesn't it? He has little hope unless the government will help, but the government has basically said, tough're on your own.

What is the basis for that stance? The only thing I can come to is if someone has been accused of having links to terrorism, even though CSIS has said they have nothing on them, that initial accusation has more weight than the rule of law apparently. You know, that little detail of innocent until proven guilty?

To be frank, I have no way of knowing what goes on in the minds of people like Cannon and Harper, but I do know this. This government is playing with peoples lives and they have clearly chosen that some lives are worth more than others in this country. The other component that is clear is that they are appeasing their wing-nut base.

How did we get to the point in this country that the loons actually hold sway?

Please read more about this mess here. It is time to make noise.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Foreign Affairs Directive to Remember

You do all remember that this man once said we wouldn't recognise Canada when he got through with it right? Well, he certainly is doing his damnedest to prove himself right.

Sadly, while most us of get caught up in the little things, many of which are tossed out as shiny objects, a much more serious shift is taking place in this country and too few imo are paying attention.

Now, before I go off on a tangent, let me be clear. I am under no illusion that every government that comes to power has both the right and a need to put their own mark on the country. What gets to me in this case though, is just how little Harper's philosophy has been examined and because of that much of what he is doing flies under the radar or is dismissed as politics or government as usual. It's not though, not with this man. In fact, I'm certain that the a good portion of his supporters really have no idea what he is all about.

That said, let me get to my point and that is the subject I've been focused on lately, Foreign Affairs.

I've focused on some individual cases here of late, but inferred that there was a bigger issue and yesterday, we gained a little clarity on that.

Two articles in Embassy speak to the issue and make it pretty clear that this Government is changing who we are as a nation.

Fearful that political staffers are severely diluting Canada's foreign policy through alterations to policy language, senior Foreign Affairs officials have begun pushing back against their political masters.


With subtle strokes of the pen, it appears the Conservative government has been systematically changing the language employed by the foreign service and, as a result, bringing subtle but sweeping changes to traditional Canadian foreign policy.

This is not minor stuff people. Yes, this can be changed back, but the damage done in the meantime is not minor.

Since 9-11, the culture has changed here and elsewhere. That is certainly true as it relates to CSIS, but in that case, I suspect it was simply an opening that some in that org. had been waiting for.

Changes were also necessary in Foreign Affairs. In my view, there was a strong reaction initially. Fear drove everything in those days, but as time moved forward, we began to see that some of the actions taken were in fact an over-reaction. No one is saying that vigilance isn't needed in today's climate, but caution based in fact, not ideology, is what must prevail.

Now, I have to say it's difficult for me to understand why the Harper government places such a low value on human and women's rights, but there is no denying that they do. By difficult to understand I mean I can't imagine what it is to value some, more than others, yet that is what is becoming more and more evident. Equally as disturbing is the ongoing evidence that this government is happy to assume people are guilty, without the benefit of trial. Essentially based on hearsay. Consider the revelations from the Abdelrazik case.

Here is some more from Embassy:

In an email communication obtained by Embassy, staff at the Department of Foreign Affairs express concern about frequent changes being made to commonly used terms, particularly where such changes are not consistent with accepted Canadian policy, and which may be carried out to minimize international obligations on issues as complex as the Omar Khadr case.

For many observers of Canada's foreign policy, these are distressing language changes that water down many of the very international human rights obligations Canada once fought to have adopted in conventions at the United Nations. As one source said, in the international world of diplomacy—where officials often focus detailed discussions on the language included in documents and policies—wording makes a big difference.

There it is right there. We are watering down the international human rights obligations that we previously fought for. I haven't done the research but I would wager that both Mulroney and Clark (if we are speaking recent history), also fought for these principles.

I'm so sad that this doesn't get the coverage it deserves. There is more ink spilled on will there or won't there be an election than real issues that just might just get Canadians thinking, regardless of where they come down.

These are issues that an election should be fought on. The tone of our country in the world relates directly to so many other policy areas. Immigration, investment, trust in negotiation, to name but a few.

In today's world though, how on earth would you fight an election on a complex issue when your opponent, Harper, has reduced the dialogue to school yard taunts?

Monday, July 27, 2009

No! Not Again?

This may not be a case that you are familiar with. This is Bashir Ahmed Makhtal. Here is a thumbnail sketch:

Bashir Makhtal lived in Toronto’s Riverdale neighborhood. He became a Canadian citizen in 1994.

He worked as a senior programmer for two of Canada’s biggest banks, Bank of Montreal and CIBC.

From 2002 until December 2006 Makhtal conducted business outside Canada, in countries such as Kenya, Djibouti, Somalia, Eritrea and the United Arab Emirates.

On December 31st, 2006, Kenyan authorities detained Bashir Makhtal while he was attempting to cross the Kenya border from Somalia. Kenya then proceeded to illegally render him to Ethiopia under extraordinary rendition laws on January 20th, 2007 and he continues to be held there to this day.

Now, this story is long so I won't drag you through it all, but here's a bit more to help understand his plight:

A community group in Ottawa has taken up the case of Makhtal, arguing that he has been denied access to lawyers and consular officials. They have called on the federal government to intervene in Makhtal's case.

Makhtal's lawyer has said Makhtal was born in an ethnic Somalian region of Ethiopia called Ogaden. He moved to Somalia at age 11, then fled the country when he was a teenager, eventually arriving in Canada as a refugee in 1991. He became a Canadian citizen in 1994 and holds no other citizenship.

Makhtal lived, studied and worked in Toronto, and also has a cousin in Hamilton, Ont.

So here is a man, or rather a boy then, who fled a region in search of a better life. He found it here, became a citizen and from everything that I have read and can gather, he went back to do business in order to make a difference. Improve the circumstances of others who did not share the same opportunity.

People who are behind him, met with the government long ago.

The Hon. John Baird showed that he is eager to help to ensure that Bashir Mukhtal is provided with fair legal representation. He also said that he will contact both the Canadian Foreign Minister David Emerson and the special envoy, Deepak Obhrai and ask them for their assistance.

Deepak Obhrai? Seriously? Again, we have this idiot mandated with a task so obviously above him, not to mention foreign to his ideology, think fact, if you wanted to use the term elitist in context, Obhrai is just the man that it would apply to. Conservatives are rather bad at recognising context though. Just saying.

But here we are. Another Canadian doing good from all I can tell, is sentenced:

Canadian man faces the death penalty after a court in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, found him guilty of three counts of being a member of a terrorist organization.

Bashir Ahmed Makhtal, 36, will be sentenced next week.
Makhtal, who was among dozens of people captured at the border between Somalia and Kenya in December 2006, was being held in a prison in Addis Ababa after being initially imprisoned in Kenya.

And what are we doing? By we, I mean Canada? Did you even know this/his story?

Come on people, come on media! Thank you for the story but much more coverage is due here.

I listened to Cross Country Check Up yesterday. This man was not the subject, but how we treat people...Canadians, was. I've never heard so many Canadians say they are ashamed of their country.

Count me in.

A community group in Ottawa has taken up the case of Makhtal, arguing that he has been denied access to lawyers and consular officials. They have called on the federal government to intervene in Makhtal's case.

Please get involved. anyway you can Write to your MP or a Lib MP that will be sympathetic. Dan McTeague, Martha Hall Findlay, Justin Trudeau, Irwin Cotler, Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae, well, all of them really. Do it and do it now.

Big thanks to BC'er who tipped me the story today earlier today.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cannon Shoots His Mouth Off Again

Something that I find absolutely astonishing about this government, is how some MP's blurt out stupid things...all the time. There are innocent things or at least those that don't directly impact anyone, like Cheryl Gallant mocking the notion of Climate Change recently, but then there are other things that truly are dangerous.

When the Ronald Smith (Cdn on death row) issue was raised in the HoC, more than one Conservative MP stood and recited what he'd been charged with and went on to characterise him. This at the very time that he was attempting to put together a clemency case. Surely, those kinds of proclamations are not helpful and could actually hurt his case. The same is true of Omar Khadr.

Now we have Lawrence Cannon suggesting that Suaad Haji Mohamud hasn't been forthcoming in asserting that she is Canadian.

"The individual has to be straightforward, has to let us know whether or not she is a Canadian citizen," Cannon told reporters in Ottawa.

"She's saying so, but there is no tangible proof to the effect. All Canadians who hold passports generally have a picture that is identical in their passport to what they claim to be."

Forgetting the poorly phrased last sentence, what absolute nonsense. Who looks identical to their passport photo? That aside though, how unhelpful is it for a member of this government to throw yet more doubt into this case. Idiotic and dangerous.

(BTW, would it be too much to ask the media to lighten and enlarge the photo on the passport and put it side by side with a contemporary one of her not smiling?)

Furthermore, what more can the woman do? She's produced a passport, drivers license, health card...I don't know about you but I sure as hell don't walk around with my own fingerprints or DNA test.

The government that is supposed to help in these situations, our government, had clearly decided that she wasn't worth it. Oh, they will help now supposedly, now that the case has gone public and they've received pressure, but what do you think her fate would have been had no one reported on it?

More and more cases are surfacing and getting noticed. That's a good thing. That this seems to be a pattern is a very worrisome thing though.

Tomorrow I hope to connect the dots a bit on a number of these cases, or at the very least present a picture in broader terms of what is going on here rather than deal with individual cases.

(Thanks to commenter Joseph for the link to this story.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Horror, not Honour, Killings

The awful story that came out of Montreal and Kingston yesterday, still renders me gobsmacked.

I know it's not the first such killing and know too that at this point, we have charges laid, but no real idea as to what happened, but the police chief certainly used enough buzz words to suggest that this was somehow planned. So, without harping on the specifics of this case, I just wanted to note a couple of things that have been running through my mind.

A short time ago I complained here about the phrasing on a funding announcement made by Helena Guergis.

This project aims to promote equitable, non-violent behaviour in the romantic relationships of adolescents by targeting the hypersexualization of girls as a root cause of dating violence.

I was roundly taken to task by someone who supports the program. Further investigation caused me to see that the program was much larger than this announcement would suggest, but I stand by my criticism for including that line.

You see the problem for me is this is considered a tiny little thing that people brush off, but they have a huge impact on developing a mentality that is just plain wrong. The victim is never, never, the cause of abuse because of gender, dress, attitude, etc. Yet lines such as the one included in the release reinforce that attitude.

It's more prevalent in this society than is realised and the last thing we should be doing is reinforcing it, especially with young women.

Did anyone see this story? Once you get past the horror of what happened to that little girl, consider the mindset of a family that would actually blame her for what happened. And lest you think this just happens with new immigrants, think again.

I listened to a call-in yesterday on the subject and was shocked as to how many callers barely avoided saying that they agreed with the incident in Kingston, but did take the stand that women are responsible for the actions of men.

One woman caller, a Canadian born Muslim, defended women being relegated to the back of a mosque, because after all, if they were together or in front, men couldn't control themselves from looking at them as they bowed to pray. And before you get too smug and think that this is a Muslim thing, the next caller was an orthodox Jewish woman, who basically said that women were segregated at Temple because men were unable to control themselves and women would just be too distracting. That's just the way it was.

Now those two examples hardly equate to the horrific stories I refer to here, but they illustrate a dangerous way of thinking imo.

The thought of 'honour' in anyway being associated with these crimes is abhorrent, but it's equally sad to know that some women in Canadian society would believe that they were responsible for another's thoughts or actions. The line in the announcement reinforces that thinking.

The horror of the first two stories has to do with tribalism and surely that is something that we can address openly and honestly in this country, without attacking religions or whole swathes of people. We must.

One Day? It Took One Day?

Are you kidding me? According to this article, the Conservatives have been negotiating with the Lib's for one day and this twerp of an MP is already throwing out threats?

... Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, a member of the bipartisan working group struck last month to negotiate an agreement with the Liberals on EI reforms, says the Harper government will "never" accept Ignatieff's proposal.

He goes on to mis characterise what has been suggested, but what's important here is what it says once again about this disingenuous, thuggish group of people that call themselves government. They obviously never had any intention of actually working out a fair package, one that would actually work toward rebuilding the economy.

In fact, putting Poilievre on the panel is a clear indication in itself that this about posturing and sound bites.

For instance, what does this mean?

Conservatives have issued a thinly veiled ultimatum to Michael Ignatieff: Drop your proposal for easier access to employment insurance or there'll be no election-averting deal on EI reform.

What? They are going to renege on opposition days? Is the man who believes himself to be king going to rejig things again so that the opposition cannot actually oppose or take this government down?

Negotiations should prove interesting going forward.


I have a lot of questions coming out of this article, but let's start here.

The government also ended a suspension of deportations to Burundi, Liberia and Rwanda, a move that could affect about 2,000 people.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced the tightening of the border rules, and Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan announced the lifting of the ban on the removal of people to Burundi, Liberia and Rwanda, "due to improved conditions" in those countries.

Um, okay. Then why is the same government posting the following at their site?

Rocco Rossi's Fundraiser - Up the Creek

Follow along here and donate if you can.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What Has Happened to Us?

Watching Abousfian Abdelrazik's press conference was at once startling and heartbreaking. His story is almost beyond belief, except sadly we now have far too many stories that make it completely believable.

What struck me first was what the man has endured and that was quickly mixed with how Canada, CSIS specifically, treated this man. It's the part of this story that I cannot understand and there is not enough information yet to really get it, but it's beyond disturbing.

What comes to me is that since 9/11, all bets have been off. Whatever we thought we stood for, whatever we believed our government agencies represented, whatever we understood our values to be...seem to have been thrown out the window in the name of national security.

We've seen rights ignored and rolled back, we've seen inane rules implemented at airports etc, we've even seen the language of our national conversation change and become toxic. (MP's calling other MP's terrorist supporters, etc.)

Elements in our society that have presumably always held views that either are racist or xenophobic, suddenly feel the freedom to give voice to those views. Government officials are using terms that belong in a 50's western, and the head of our armed forces uses the catchy phrase 'scum bags' in public. RCMP members are tasering people w/out legitimate cause and covering up their actions. There is more, but all of that to say, a climate seems to have been created that has enabled rogue elements of our society to ignore what were established principles in this country.

Sadly, these rogue elements are no longer a tiny little slice of our society that are easy to write off. They are showing up with alarming frequency and sadly, they seem to have a chorus of supporters cheering them on.

Witness the manner in which this person refers to Omar Khadr.

Now it's easy to keep calling these people wingnuts or whatever your preferred term is, but they get coverage. Their language is found on television, radio and in print, conveniently shouting 'free speech' as their umbrella under which to do so. (Somehow they only seem interested in the freedoms and rights that affect them though.)

I think we've been far too cavalier about all of this and that has contributed to the state we now find ourselves in.

Did we learn nothing from the Maher Arar case and subsequent report? It seems that those at CSIS, Foreign Affairs and diplomats have learned nothing.

This particular case did indeed start under the Liberal government of the day, but with all the knowledge we now have, it seems inconceivable that the current government would not only perpetuate the situation, but actually appear to compound it by joining in.

By that I mean that Abdelrazik revealed today that he was visited by MP Deepak Obhrai. He showed him his scars from the torture he'd endured. Obhrai apparently wasn't there to be compassionate, but rather to interrogate him.

Since when do MP's do that? Abdelrazik was asked his views on Bin Laden, Israel, terrorism and told that unless he answered, he'd receive no help. (Obhrai was apparently accompanied by an official from Bernier's dept, who held the position of Min of Foreign Affairs at the time.)

If you don't find that disturbing, you didn't grow up in the Canada that I know, or at least the country I thought I knew.

I'm not sure what has happened to us, but I can only hope that these awful revelations force us to right our course.

To hear Abdelrazik's presser, go here.

Final thought picked up on Twitter:

Fear is a disease that eats away at logic and makes man inhuman. Marian Anderson (1902-1993)

Update - More with Ignatieff comments.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

They Are Statistics, Not Polls!

Here's a headline from today:

Police-reported crime drops in 2008: StatsCan

Good news right? The government and the people of Canada should be pleased, non? Well, not if your the Conservative government of Canada and certainly not if your the Minister overseeing this file.

"We don't govern on the latest statistics," the minister told The Canadian Press in a telephone interview.

Huh? Think about that for a minute. Empirical evidence is of no use to those who develop our laws? We're not talking polls here, random opinion or anecdotal evidence. We are talking reality for heavens sake! Science!

Ooops, I guess I see my problem here.

Seriously, if you don't develop law based on fact, then what are you doing? Oh right. You're developing law based on flawed, terribly flawed (and we have evidence of that too) ideology that has failed everywhere it's been employed, specifically in the US.

Do you know what really galls me about this ridiculous claim and this ridiculous Minister? His ongoing treatment of this man and others. Do you really think he cares about upholding justice?

Not on your life. Especially if you don't fit his favoured demographic. Don't tell him that though. It's another empirical measurement and he just wouldn't get it.

He goes on:

"What level it's at right now, it's unacceptable, and we are committed to disrupting ... criminal activity."

Except that little to none of his idiotic agenda has been implemented. The previous method of attacking this issue is working! What part of that doesn't he get?

Look, I don't think that we do nothing about crime, but intelligence and keeping up with the times surely should prevail.

Sadly, intelligence and reality are hardly the guiding principles of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Does Goodyear Believe in the Evolution of a Story?

A story about Gary Goodyear has been around for a couple of days now. It's not a good story, in fact, it could well be a story that is devastating to the Minister of State, but at the moment it's difficult to know what to make of it.

As the story goes, an adoption agency that declared bankruptcy has been linked to Goodyear and his wife. The details still aren't clear, but there is enough there to be concerned. More about that later, because it's the character of Goodyear that drew me to this and I'd like to top note that a bit.

You see, this story falls into an unattractive pattern for this MP. The first time I remember noticing Goodyear was watching the Procedures and House Affairs committee meetings. He was chair and his behaviour was deplorable, to the point that he was eventually ousted. He managed to maintain a fairly passive aggressive stance during meetings, so some of it flew under the radar, but his lack of objectivity and blatant partisanship were thinly veiled and I recall being astonished that the business of the nation could be conducted in that manner. (I know. I soon learned that many in the CPC behaved accordingly)

The committee was trying to get to the In and Out overspending and it was clear that Goodyear was having none of that. No investigation for us!..was his message. Since then, I've watched him and he's become increasingly more arrogant, more partisan and um, less free with the truth, shall we say.

So I was a bit surprised when he was appointed the Minister of State Science and Technology, but then thought maybe he had displayed the traits most desired by this PM to hold such a title. Think Clement, Baird, Nicholson, Day, Toews...wait! I'd have to name most of them but you get the idea.

When the controversy about evolution came up earlier this year, it brought even more of his character to light. His bizarre answer to a question on evolution illustrated his mindset and defensiveness and brought into question his dedication to portions of his file, specifically funding to labs that use model organisms rooted in the Theory. Noted: Goodyear oversaw $147.9 million in funding cuts for science programs, the most prominent being no funding for new projects at Genome Canada. Obviously his motives were called into question.

So now back to the main story. What to make of it? Consider this, as put forward by Kady O'Malley:

According to the Statement of Affairs released earlier this week by BDO Dunwoody, the agency was paying $3,000 a month to Constant Energy for property at 382 Queen Street West in Cambridge. BDO lists Constant Energy’s total outstanding claim at $96,000, which works out to 32 months rent, and it is the first entry on the list of “preferred creditors for wages/rent/etc.” The Queen St. W property is currently occupied by the Hespeler Community Chiropractic Centre.

So Goodyear is co-owner of Constant Energy, which happens to be the landlord for property that Imagine rents...except they appear not to have paid rent for almost 3 years? In another account, it appears that maybe 3 property's were rented by the group, but not clear if any were ever used.

So what is going on? Goodyear's wife is prominent within the Imagine organization and Goodyear himself said that he had no involvement but once again, that's not entirely true is it?

Gary Goodyear, who is minister of state for science and technology and MP for Cambridge, said in a written statement this week that his wife wasn't involved in the agency's finances and that he has "never been involved with the operations of the agency."

He did not mention Constant Energy, a real estate holding company that rented office space to the adoption agency for $3,000 a month under a three-year lease. The minister disclosed his ownership of the company, as required, to the federal ethics commissioner this year.

He declined through his spokesperson yesterday to be interviewed or answer written questions about the company's business dealings with the agency.

Imagine Adoption, which Gary Goodyear praised at a ribbon-cutting ceremony when it moved into new offices last year, was subletting the office to another business.

This is a story worth watching. Goodyear's record doesn't bode well for a good outcome, but we will have to wait and see.

If anyone is in Goodyear's riding and has anything further to add, feel free to comment or e-mail me if you'd prefer privacy.

Update - Another view.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Walter Cronkite

Walter Cronkite
November 4, 1916 - July 17, 2009

If you have no memory or reference to this man, this is but one reference you should have.

Here is a bit more about the man.

"The Stoning of Soraya M.”

A must see for me. Click here for trailer and hit fullscreen.
For the record, I've known about this movie for a while, but I received this from a group I highly recommend and have supported for years now.
Media Alert
What: “The Stoning of Soraya M.”

“The Stoning of Soraya M.,” the moving film about a woman wrongly persecuted in a rural Iranian village, opened June 26th, 2009 in a variety of theaters across the country. The film took the Audience Award for Best Picture at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

This provocative film demonstrates the injustices many women around the world experience in their daily lives through the story of one woman’s struggle to finally let the world know about her small village’s ugliest, most guarded secret.

Around the world, women are discriminated against or attacked outright for the simple crime of being a woman. In Afghanistan, rates of domestic violence are increasing and schoolgirls are subjected to acid attacks for the crime of attempting to attend school. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, women are the target of an ongoing campaign of rape employed by armed combatants attempting to seize power. And in Iran, where The Stoning of Soraya M. takes place, women have been subjected to the brutal punitive system of stoning.
The film and the work of Women for Women International both demonstrate that marginalized women should be empowered to access their human rights and full economic, political and social participation for the betterment of the community and the society overall.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Are You Kidding Me?

We were all pretty outraged when we learned of a law being proposed in Afghanistan that gave men permission to rape their wives right? There were lots of questions, many that went unanswered, but in general, the outrage was felt across the country.

Our government assured us that they shared the outrage and valued women's rights.

Well, not so much apparently. Just look at what the Minister of State, Status of Women has just announced.

The Government of Canada is pleased to provide support to Regroupement des femmes de la région de Matane for its project, Et toi ton couple, ça clic? (So, Are You Clicking as a Couple?).

This project aims to promote equitable, non-violent behaviour in the romantic relationships of adolescents by targeting the hypersexualization of girls as a root cause of dating violence.

Are you freaking kidding me? Blame the victim? The girls are the root cause of dating violence? Seriously?

Where do we hear language like that? Certainly no where that we would hold up as a progressive modern democracy that values human rights.

I was angry when the Conservatives removed the word Equality from the Status of Women mandate. I may now actually have a better understanding as to why.

I may have more to say later, just angry now.


h/t - BC'er

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The PM's an Embarrasment

And Canadians notice:

Toronto Star
Jul 15, 2009 04:30 AM
Re:PM blasts Michael Ignatieff,
then admits mistake, July 11

Is Stephen Harper losing it? The world is in the worst recession since the '30s, facing massive unemployment; basic food prices, hunger and poverty are skyrocketing. AIDS and TB are back on the rise. Tensions in the Middle East and Korea have never been higher.

Only one leader stepped up on to the world stage at the most critical G8 summit in its history and felt compelled to take the opportunity to launch yet another personal character attack on his parliamentary rival back home. It's Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada.

Do any of the other world leaders digress from their crucial mission at the summit to degrade their domestic competition? Of course not, it's not the right place nor time. The fact that he employed a misquote is ironic, but secondary.

This type of grossly inappropriate judgment and repetitive behaviour is not benign. It betrays a character problem, a serious insecurity with oneself and one's role; an obsessive-compulsive personality.

A leader who is consumed with political paranoia and fixated at all times on his or her domestic opponent cannot lead effectively. It's just not possible to navigate the rocky road ahead while staring backward over one's shoulder.

Perhaps it's time the Conservatives ask themselves if they need a new leader.

D. Scott Barclay, Georgetown

The Toronto Star
Wed Jul 15 2009
Page: A18Section: Editorial

Stephen Harper's shameful performance at the G8 summit reveals his true nature and the unlimited political ambition that controls all Conservative Party actions.

The attack on Michael Ignatieff is just the latest example of the strategy Harper and his government are too often willing to use: "The Big Lie." If you say something, no matter how false or outrageous, about your opponent, some of it will stick. If you are caught, find some little guy (or woman) to take the fall.

Conservatives wrap themselves in their robes of moral certitude, ready to condemn anyone who dares to question anything they do or say. While preaching strict standards of decency and attention to duty, in the backrooms their strategists devise ways to use every dirty political trick to undermine foes.

Whether fear mongering over crime on the streets, or ignoring established science in climate change and stem cells, these self-righteous finger pointers don't care about Canadians, only about holding on to power. Embarrassing the country on the world stage by hurling lies at your opponents at home is one of the most unforgiveable actions any Prime Minister can make. I hope the people remember this come election time.

Richard Murri, Niagara Falls


The Prime Minister clearly does not understand the first thing about statesmanship, and has once again exposed his uncontrollable urge to add a mean- spirited, partisan edge to everything he does. Canadians are tired of his cynical, bullying approach to government and the silly, partisan games being played in Ottawa by his party. "Enough is enough."

Craig Spafford, Toronto


Is there nothing sincere about our Prime Minister? His carefully worded statement praising the Pope was obviously pre-written by a PR professional to prevent more gaffes on his part. And, I'm sure Pope Benedict doesn't need an endorsement from someone whose career is dedicated to furthering the success of the successful, and to hell with the common citizen.

J. Richard Wright, Niagara-on-the-Lake


Mr. Harper also owes the Canadian people an apology for using his role as a representative of the people of Canada (not of his party) on an international stage to continue his partisan mudslinging. This was embarrassing to all Canadians, and one more indication that he has no interest in serving Canada and Canadians, just in being re-elected.

Jackaleen Bain, Niagara Falls
"Pas sortable"Le DroitForum, mercredi 15 juillet 2009, p. 14
À vous la parole

Il y a des moments ou l'on peut se demander comment quelqu'un qui semble avoir si peu de jugement peut avoir réussi à devenir premier ministre d'un pays aussi ouvert cosmopolite que le Canada. Notre premier ministre, encore une fois, n'a pu résister à la tentation de lancer une attaque purement partisane et personnelle envers le chef de l'opposition Michael Ignatieff et ce, en pleine conférence de presse internationale.

N'importe qui ayant oeuvré dans le milieu de l'international, soit dans un contexte diplomatique ou autre, sait que d'effectuer des commentaires de nature partisane domestique dans le cadre d'une rencontre internationale constitue déjà un impair important. Que cet impair se produise en se basant sur des informations erronées et non vérifiées constitue une grave erreur de jugement et une faute de caractère indigne de l'office qui lui a été offert par une minorité de Canadiens.

Jamais le Canada n'a été si faiblement représenté à l'étranger et il est grand temps de remettre ce pays sur le bon chemin.

Marc Gervais, Gatineau

I have only this to add.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Flanagan's Folly

I'm sure you've all read the article penned by Tom Flanagan in today's G&M.

Like other articles he's written, he begins from a false premise. In this case, he is speaking about negative political advertising in such a way that we are to believe that it has always been thus.

Election campaigns have always been, and always will be, both positive and negative.

True, but the negative campaigns we are seeing from the Harper crew is not like the majority of previous negative campaigns conducted in this country. To begin with, we're not, (supposedly), in campaign mode.

The article seems to want to reinforce this myth, in the same fashion that the Conservatives reinforce all their other false messaging. In other words, if Flanagan and other Conservatives repeat this falsehood enough, Canadians will buy the fact that the Liberals are over-reacting.

He misses the fact that most Canadians, not just Liberals, find the ads insulting. But his position is another truism re' contemporary Conservatives in this country. They believe that the majority share their world view, or will if they spew it enough, in spite of all evidence pointing to the contrary.

He then goes on to do the now classic 'but they did it too!' bit, but the comparisons are laughable.

In 1988, they ran ads almost accusing Brian Mulroney of treason, of selling out Canada to the United States through the free-trade agreement.

Note the almost in that sentence. The difference of course being that today's Con's would have used the term treason, without compunction, or at least that seems to be what Flanagan is advocating. (For the record, Turner ran under this slogan: “This is more than an election – this is your future.”)

Sheila Copps compared Preston Manning to David Duke

Well, no, not really. She said the policies he was promoting appealed to peoples' latent fear, which are the same kind of policies that permit a David Duke.

In 2000, Warren Kinsella went on television to ridicule Stockwell Day's alleged (never demonstrated) belief in Young Earth creationism.

Yea, well, I never really understood why Kinsella took that route though, I personally think it's important to know who believes in creationism if they are going to hold a government file. Tough to argue that your opponent is taking horrible ,degrading shots at you when he's holding a plush toy though?

So, as he defends with example, he takes out of context what was done in the past, which of course buttresses his take things out of context!

Anyway, the entire article is replete with contradictions. He slags the Lib's for employing tactics he's encouraging. It's bizarre, but consistent! It's that projection thing that the Conservatives seem completely oblivious to.

He further suggests that the Liberals are wimps, blah, blah, blah, (and by the way school girls are no more whiny than school boys), obviously taking his own advice and then suggests that this reaction is only aping what occurred in the US with the Democrats and Obama. (Oh, I'm gagging at just how rich that comparison is given his Rovian speak throughout the article.)

True? False? I suggest that the Liberals are tapping into what is reality amongst the voting public. The poll I referred to in my last post substantiates that and certainly we've heard many a comment from the woman and man on the street that supports that notion as well. People are fed up with the nonsense...and nonsense is what he is promoting.

And this to me is the most interesting failure of his argument. He's pushing water uphill, telling us that we should embrace negativity and spin because it's part of the 'game', at a time when it is being rejected everywhere.

Go Flanagan! You have concisely illustrated how the Conservatives in this country are a day late and a dollar short...our dollar, btw.

You know, we should be grateful for small mercies. The wave the Conservatives in this country are trying to ride, crested and crashed a long time ago, specifically in the US.

My bet is we (Canadians) won't be fooled again, but by all means Prof. Flanagan, continue to recommend strategy and talk to us in terms that better help us understand you and the Conservatives.

Canadians have had enough of the ad's...please make them realise they've had enough of your ilk too.

I leave you with this pearl of wisdom from Tom...sand and all:

It would have been a public service for the Republicans to run ads on the Wright-Obama relationship

My idea of public service and I suspect many others, doesn't include what that statement implies.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Acrimony is What Ails Us

It seems that Canadians are not quite as sleepy as we sometimes like to think. A new poll suggests that they are not only listening, but willing to change the order of things.

Canadians are getting restless with the state of the House of Commons.

A new poll suggests that a growing number of voters are hoping for a majority government, and might vote strategically in order to achieve one.

The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey said 64 per cent of respondents prefer a majority over a minority government,
up from 52 per cent just two years ago.

Interesting, no?

Now some may worry and think that if these same people hadn't really been paying attention, that they might just hand over the reins to the Conservatives and be done with it.

Not so much.

When presented with only the Liberals and Conservatives as the option for the forming the next government, 44 per cent backed the Liberals while 33 per cent backed the Conservatives.

What's interesting about that number is the Conservatives are still frozen in time and while the Liberals haven't been soaring in other polls, this one suggests that voters who normally back parties other than the two majors, indeed are willing to move to the Liberals for more stable government.

Harris-Decima's Jeff Walker said the poll suggests Canadians are weary of the acrimony and instability that has plagued the last three governments.

No doubt...though I still don't believe that any parliamentary configuration, other than the current one, could provide as much acrimony. There is really no way around it. Every party in the House is fundamentally opposed to the Conservative agenda. Oh I know, the Martin government wasn't stable either, but really, that was due to the NDP and Jack Layton seeing a chance for the kill.

Sadly, his blind ambition, (imo), did more to harm this country than anything has in a long time. He gave Harper the reins without thinking through which way he'd steer.

So this is but one small poll and certainly shouldn't be taken as a prediction with any certainty, but it is interesting that it was taken at the beginning of July, when most people have had their fill of all things political.

If Harper keeps up his acrimony, especially the on the world stage form of it, I think come the next election, people will seek another choice. That said, the Liberals have to give them something to vote for.

Something tells me that's coming.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Under the Radar, But I Heard a Ping

In addition to the obvious, coming out of Harper's presser today, I picked up on a couple of casual comments he made about the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

Speaking about Canada's economy, the prime minister tersely dismissed Page's gloomy report this week, which said the government had underestimated the impact of the recession on government finances and the economy.

In addition to predicting higher-than-expected job losses, Page also said the Canadian government is now running a "structural deficit" and, therefore, won't automatically go back to budget surpluses when the economy recovers.

So "significant discretionary actions" will be necessary to get Canada's books back in the black, Page said.

But on Friday, Harper ridiculed the suggestion that the government would need to slash spending or boost taxes to balance its budget when the economy recovers.

"We will not start raising taxes and cutting programs. That's a very dumb policy and, to the extent, frankly, that the parliamentary budget officer suggested it, it's a dumb position," he said.

Dumb? What a statesman our PM is. Slagging the OLO and a respected public servant in less than 10 minutes!

Furthermore, Page is hardly the first to suggest that program cuts and/or tax increases might be necessary. But at this point, Harper isn't really going after Page or other economists, (people that actually earned that title), is he?. No, Harper was in bad actor mode, again, going after Ignatieff and pushing what the lame CPC ads suggest.

Harper's solution to the real questions on deficit? Oh, it'll all take care of itself, come out in the know? The really serious economic statements that people who actually understand the economy guffaw at.

Aside from the PM's boorish comment, it's interesting to note that this is the second time this week that the government has taken a shot at the PBO. Remember that Flaherty had this to say .

"He's taken a more pessimistic outlook than warranted, based on what we are seeing from the IMF and others in terms of the economic recovery taking place in 2010," said Mr. Flaherty, who spoke to reporters via conference call from Brasilia after meeting with Brazil's finance minister and central banker.

It seems pretty clear that the government is dismissing everything this public servant, (that they appointed btw), has to say. All this finger pointing is reminiscent of the Linda Keen incident...except for the 'Liberal appointee' part of course.

Ironically, Harper has been wrong about this recession every single step of the way and has changed his position many times.

Stephen Harper, Oct. 7, 2008. “I know economists will say that we can run a small deficit, but the problem is once you cross that line, as we see in the United States, nothing stops deficits from getting larger and larger and spiralling out of control, and we want to avoid the kind of government, household and trade deficits we see in the United States.”

Jim Flaherty, Jan. 27, 2009. “There will be no long-running or permanent deficit … As the economy recovers, we fully expect to emerge from deficit and return to surplus within five years.”

Stephen Harper, July 10, 2009. “We will allow the deficit to persist if necessary. We will not, in order to meet some timetable, start raising taxes and cutting programs. That’s a very dumb policy … If the recession turns out to be longer than that, for example, or the recovery turns out to be shallower, then that will change the pattern of the recovery from the current deficit.”

h/t - Aaron Wherry

From just a few weeks ago when he said the deficit would be short lived, they were on plan to eliminate it and anyone who suggested otherwise was crazy, to today when he said that he would run a deficit as long as was needed.


Finally, as was noted in a previous post, Harper did have to eat crow and apologise today. Within that apology though were some telling words, imo.

"I attacked Mr. Ignatieff"

Attacked?! That word rolled off his tongue like any other word didn't it? This is the leader of our country, casually commenting on attacking the leader of the opposition on an interantional stage. Not debating, not challenging...attacking. It didn't even occur to him that that word was exposing him for who he was.

In our recent history, I cannot think of a more unsophisticated, cheap and graceless PM. Especially when you consider that those moves are scripted...thought through and editorially choreographed.

We're in a sad place in time.

Harper's Summer Vacation

The Dimitri Made Me Do It!

Because Stephen Harper just can't resist, he found a way to insert a partisan swipe at Ignatieff, during an international press conference.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the swipe he took was based on information given to him by his trusty media man, Dimitri Soudas, who failed to check the source, so he provided Harper with inaccurate information.

Seriously, his top media person didn't check? I guess he was in too much of a hurry to give his boss something juicy.

Ironically, at the same presser, Harper admonished the media for running with and unsubstantiated story, (communion host). Ha! Buy the man a mirror.

Soudas has issued an apology, but will Harper?* This is a matter of Harper's judgement after all...but as usual, a staffer is blamed.

* Note - Harper has since apologised, (see above link) but still, the pattern here is clear.

Update - More here, here, here, and here.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Identity Crisis

Do you have a passport? Is it more than a couple of years old? Have you looked at the picture of yourself in that passport lately? Do you look the same now?

This is Suaad Mohamud Haji (also written elsewhere as Suaad Haji Mohamud). She travelled to Kenya for a two week visit with her mother who was ill and had planned to come home, to Toronto, in May. Instead, she was prevented from returning and jailed, because she didn't look like her passport photo taken over 4 years ago.

Mohamud was prepared to fly home May 17 when a Kenyan airport official challenged the photo. Nobody has suggested the passport is fake, she said, just that she doesn't look like the picture.

She showed two other pieces of photo ID, her Ontario driver's licence and OHIP card, along with her Canadian citizenship card, bank card and credit card, copies of which she also provided the Star.

But the Kenyans sent her to jail. A friend bailed her out and for five weeks, she says, she has tried to get the Canadian High Commission's help.

Now, one might be tempted to say the system in Kenya is the problem. Corruption, etc, is the issue. Fair, but in that event, what would you expect your government to do if this was you?

"I phone them (Canadian High Commission) three times again today and nobody calls me back."

She faces a court hearing July 21 and fears being jailed again if Canada doesn't vouch for her, she said.

Those quotes are taken from a story published on July 1st. Since then, things have gotten worse. They won't accept all the ID she's provided, so now she's gone a step further.

If a passport, driver's licence, OHIP card and citizenship certificate are not enough, Suaad Hagi Mohamud is ready to give fingerprints to prove who she is.

"When I applied for Canadian citizenship, they took my fingerprints," the Somali-born woman said yesterday by phone from Nairobi, where she is out on bail pending trial.

"They can match them."

Of course they could. Of course they should. Canada could actually do what any democratic country should do for it's citizens and provide this information to Kenyan authorities, while insisting that they follow the very least.

But no. I keep forgetting that this is not the Canada that I know. This is not the Canada that made a name for itself defending human rights, protecting it's citizens and setting an example for the world. No, this is Harper's Canada now. A country that decides which citizens it will defend based on.....what? I'm not clear.

It's tempting to say skin colour, it's also tempting to say religion, but when you look at the list of who Canada seems to assist, no one profile fits. No, there is something more here. Ideology seems to have the most comfortable fit.

An ideology that seems to see terrorism where it is suggested, but not guilty until proven innocent...Khadr. An ideology that sees justice through 'an eye for an eye' lens...Smith. An ideology that rejects pacifism and moral conscience...Iraq war resisters.

In this case, I haven't sorted it out, but suffice it to say that Canada is once again turning it's back on a citizen without providing any rationale.

Last week, Ottawa issued a single terse sentence: "Following an extensive investigation, officials at the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi have determined that the individual arrested by Kenyan authorities is not Ms. Suaad Mohamud Hagi."

For reasons stubbornly not explained, a doubt raised by a Kenyan airport official as the woman prepared to fly home after a visit has somehow escalated into Canada's rejection of her identity.

Canadian officials have refused to answer questions central to the mystery: Is the real Suaad Mohamud missing? Who is the arrested woman? Why does Canada disbelieve her story? Why can't fingerprints be taken?

There are many in this country who will vouch for her identity, but apparently that is irrelevant. Imagine how various communities across this country are feeling? Canada, was chosen by so many as a safe haven in the best sense of the term. I suspect many are re-thinking that...including me, who was born here.

This story needs more exposure, so if you can pass it on, I think there is a 12 year old boy that would be very grateful, if it means he'll see his Mom again.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Quelle Surprise!

Don't tell me that Harper's stalling and lack lustre record is actually going to get some press! Really?

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown suggested in an interview that Stephen Harper's government has fallen out of step with the thinking of other major nations on climate and development issues.

No! Ya think?

This story is not new to most of us of course, but it truly is astonishing that it's taken so long, Harper's entire term in fact, to get other politicians to articulate what is fact.

I know that Brown isn't on any one's Valentine's list, but I do hope that his blunt comments will be echoed by others. That way, maybe the press in this country will be forced to focus on the truth.

Mr. Brown expressed frustration with countries, including Canada, that have backed away from Africa.

“We cannot withdraw from Africa,” he said. If the G8 is to achieve the millennium development goals it set in previous summits. “we've got to continue the efforts we've started in Africa.” He added: “I am determined that a recession is not an excuse to give up on the poor. A recession is when your duty to the poor is even more clear.

“People feel that there's a danger that the development agenda stalls,” he said, noting that 110 million more people around the world, most of them in Africa, are facing hunger, and citing a long list of alarming statistics on mortality for infants and mothers in childbirth.

In pre-summit statements, Ottawa has been silent on African aid and on climate change, in sharp contrast to the United States, Germany, France and Britain, which have actively sought a consensus on these issues.

Can't wait to see the response by Harper and co. Did I say response? I meant spin.

Incidentally, I think this shot of Harper is one of the most poignant, most descriptive, most accurate picture of the man and his ideology, that I have ever seen. Note the reflection of the flag.

Quelle suprise.

Think the Religious Right Has No Voice in Government?

Think again.

This morning I read Big City Lib's blog . He had picked up on something that backbencher MP, Brad Trost, had told That is that Min Diane Ablonczy was going to pay a price, for having announced funding for Pride Week in Toronto under the Marquee Tourism Events program.

The story has morphed throughout the day. It went from Trost suggesting that Ablonczy had been fired, to David Akin learning that she hadn't, to suggestions that the file had been taken away from her because of this faux pas and finally concluding with a big, gosh no! Minister Ablonczy isn't being punished! The file is just too big!

Riiiight. Odd that no one told any of the reporters that story earlier in the day. Oh and not to mention that the file is being given to none other than Tony Clement who I guess is just twiddling his thumbs in between all this global economic crisis stuff and attending the G8 summit.

Think about this for a second and it's not tough to see a bigger picture here.

First, the PM and Ablonczy meet with the Tourism Industry to announce their new strategy, June 09/2009, then Ablonczy makes the announcement on June 15th/2009 with great pride and fanfare. Then, the religious right-wing extremists pick up on the story and started squawking on June 18th/2009. Beyond that print article, you can see vids of McVety at the site making a big deal of this and encouraging people to write their MP's, etc. (Caution: Only watch vids if you have a strong stomach.)

I presume the loyal flock followed his advice because you then fast forward to the Trost's comments at the site and you can see him paddling, quickly.

According to Conservative MP Brad Trost, however, the decision to fund the event also came a shock to most of the Conservative caucus, even those inside the Prime Minister's office.

What absolute tripe! Since when does this government not know exactly what is going on? Since when are press releases not vetted? Since when does a Minister just suddenly decide on her own to make an cash announcement with no other department, (Treasury Board), knowing?

This is yet another example of the Harper government showing it's true colours. Worse yet, it's showing it's bias, while at the same time denying it. Having cake...eating it too, comes to mind. Not a bad plan, huh?

In the end though, it does tell us that as much as we had hoped that the McVety's of this country weren't having an impact on the current government, that doesn't appear to be the case. I mean, it seems pretty clear that Trost agrees with the vile rants of McVety. How many in caucus share his view? They must be a force or Diane Ablonczy would still have all of her files.

Some Ministers get praised for losing files, and others lose files for being praised. That my friends is Harpocrisy.

Update - With all due respect, Kady seems to be catching up here.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Hello! Who's On First?

Sorry, I couldn't resist. I just see and hear a similarity between Costello and Flaherty.

I mean, just how many times can one man be wrong? In Costello's case, there are few ramifications and those that occur are funny. Flaherty? Not so much. His black comedy is playing out over the nation after all.

In his latest fiscal projections, obtained by Canwest News Service, budget officer Kevin Page said the combined federal deficits that began last year will total $159.3 billion by 2014 — a hole much deeper than the current predictions of $103.5 billion from the Finance Department.

Moreover, while the Finance Department still predicts a small surplus by 2014, Page predicted the government will be running a deficit of nearly $17 billion that year, of which $11.9 billion will be a "structural" or permanent deficit, one that would keep on piling up debt year after year.

"The budget is not structurally balanced over the medium term," said Page's report, to be officially released Wednesday.

The Finance Department is predicting a small surplus? Surplus? Really?

Look, I'm sure the people at Finance are doing their very best, but really, does anyone think that maybe, just maybe, they are a bit constrained in what they can report? I mean, we've seen any number of stories that suggest the public service has been pushed back or worse, ignored, in order to get the Conservative line out there. Why would Finance be any different?

If that's the case, I feel for them and their integrity. Remember, if the Liberals win next time out, we're the party that will have to pick up the pieces, including the confidence of these people. No small task.

Much has been written today about this report. I'll leave it to you to read about it.

The one thing that stands out for me though, is just how not forthcoming the government is with a plan to get us out of this. I mean seriously...Flaherty keeps touting that it will just happen...poof, like magic!

"To argue now that these deficits will suddenly disappear with the return of the economy is simply not going to be true. (Flaherty) is going to have to address revenue-raising," said McKay.

Furthermore, there is a grand pile on as it relates to Ignatieff not putting out policy. Why? I'm not sure because anyone with a brain can see how little sense that makes.

I wonder though, when will it occur to the pundits that the government, our government, has not only not articulated theirs, but they appear to have none?

Perhaps they are still busy working out the who's on first riddle?

We Read Letters

Do you ever read Letters to the Editor? I will often browse through them, particularly to see what the general public is feeling, especially if there are large issues of the day playing out in the media.

You can count on a balance of pro and con and the usual whine about a newspaper not supporting the writers point of view. Generally, they are written by John or Jane Public. Lately though, I've seen more than one written by people who are a little more involved in the subject they are writing about, than they let on.

I've seen MP's respond, which is interesting and they always identify themselves. I've also noted names familiar on the Blogging Tories roll. They don't generally identify themselves as such, which is fair enough I suppose.

This morning however, this letter was noticed. Now, you may say, big deal, so what? A Timmins resident registering his complaint with a stance taken by his MP, Charlie Angus. Which is true, but this is not just another citizen.

No, you see, Kyle M. Simunovic is a staffer (note contact) for MP, Royal Galipeau. You know him right? (One of many MP's who could use a little anger management training.)

In other words, Kyle, someone who is on the payroll for the Conservative Party of Canada, is sending a letter to discredit a member of parliament and worse, he fails to tell us who he is.

Is this the end of the world? Of course not, but, it's indicative of how the party works and pushes it's talking points. You'll note in the letter that Kyle basically spews the party line on the issue.

Kyle is entitled to his opinion, but we're entitled to know who he is and how the governing party is pushing it's message under false pretenses.

The good news is, young Mr. Simunovic isn't too prescient so his characterisation of Mr. Angus doesn't hold too much sway. Here's what he had to say about Angus on a Timmins election prediction website before he was elected in 2004:

Kyle Simunovic
After much consideration. I think this will be real close. The NDP will not win defiantly not. I don't think Angus has enough recognition or ideas to win the riding. This riding went conservative in 1984 and i think it will again this time. I think it will be neck and neck with all three and the green party eating the dust. The conservatives have a hard fight....but they're candidate is great! People will meet him and decide to vote for him in the election. Personally I think this one is two close to call....

Angus won with 41% of the vote, followed by the Lib at 39%. The Conservative? He received 16.7%.

Just another example of the Conservatives using every under handed tactic they can think of.

More - Here

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Another Day, Another Swipe at Democracy?

So another day goes by and we have yet another story of the government playing with procedures. Something tells me that the Dirty Tricks manual that was talked about last year was far more extensive than just how to filibuster at committee.

In fact, the more I read about what has gone on, scrubbing websites, forbidding specific language and terms, etc, the more I think an inordinate amount of time has been spent on how to dismantle, disrupt and destroy everything that was put in place, not just by the Liberals, but a succession of governments.

So what are they up to now? Disrupting the process by which private members bills come to the House.

Specifically, they seem to be hijacking the process by which a sponsor for a bill coming from the upper house goes to the Commons.

When Liberal Senator Dennis Dawson introduced a private-member's bill this spring, it was instantly denounced by the governing Conservatives as an "unCanadian" and anti-democratic assault on free speech.

So he was taken aback to discover a few weeks later that a Conservative MP had volunteered to sponsor his bill once it makes its way to the House of Commons.

Cute huh? The Conservatives run in and sponsor a bill they are opposed to so that they can control it's destiny.

Normally, the author of a Senate private-members' bill arranges to have a sympathetic MP sponsor it once it clears the upper house and arrives in the Commons. The sponsor informs the clerk's office that he or she will take responsibility for shepherding the bill through the Commons.

But last month, Tory MPs began rushing to the clerk's office to sponsor bills almost the moment they were tabled in the upper house, whether or not they actually supported the bills and without waiting to see if they'd actually ever make it to the Commons.

So much for democracy folks. This bloody government simply laughs in the face of convention, fair play and yes democracy, and has no qualms about it apparently. Gawd help me if they don't resemble other 'thug' governments. No, I won't make the comparisons, but each and every person in this country should know exactly how little the Conservatives actually care about them and the country's future.

Why these stories are breaking in the summer, when even fewer than usual people are paying attention, is beyond me. And of course, these are the things that are tough to bring up during an election aren't they? I mean, we're dealing with arcane stuff here that certainly can't be put into a 'sound bite'.

You know, aside from all of this undemocratic damage they are doing, it's galling to think that they have any support at all. I mean really...what are they offering the country? There is no vision there. Lower taxes and pretending to be tough on crime does not lead a country into the future. Nasty attack ads targeted at people, not ideas, isn't exactly inspiring stuff.

What is it that the Conservative followers see in this party? I know they have lusted for power for a very long time, but how can that justify standing up for thugs?

It's not tough to see why Conservatives on line support Harper. He has provided them with the perfect opening to finally come out and display their own brand of thuggery, bias and intolerance. But what about the support he receives from more mainstream Conservatives? Aren't they bothered by what they see?

No more polls on whether or not Canadians want an election. Will some polling firm please have the courage to ask about real issues taking place, right now? Because the question isn't, do you want one. The question is, knowing that the Conservative government is doing, x, y, z, which goes against everything Canada stands for...does the country need an election?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Chip, Chip...Chip

Here's yet another example of the chipping away at the mortar that has kept the bricks of this country together.

Text on how both draft dodgers and resisters of the Vietnam War were ultimately allowed to stay in Canada suddenly vanished from the Citizenship and Immigration site earlier this year.

"Starting in 1965, Canada became a choice haven for American draft-dodgers and deserters," said the passage as it appeared online in February.

"Although some of these transplanted Americans returned home after the Vietnam War, most of them put down roots in Canada, making up the largest, best-educated group this country had ever received."

The government denies that the passage was removed for what I would say are obvious reasons:

The Harper government is denying claims that it stripped a section on Vietnam from a federal website to boost its case for deporting Iraq war resisters.

Except, this government has absolutely NO credibility anymore, on anything, let alone denying that they are trying to shape this country into their ideological image.

Fast-forward to 2009, and the Harper government takes a much dimmer view of dozens of U.S. soldiers who've come north after refusing to serve in Iraq -- an invasion never sanctioned by the United Nations.

Some have already been deported to face military jail terms ranging from about six to 15 months.
Several others expect to receive removal orders at any time.

This actually smacks of more than disregarding a Canadian value, but it highlights the disregard the Conservatives have for the UN too.

What's the Conservative position on this larger matter?

An internal document released under the Access to Information Act summarizes the government's position:
"Unlike American draft dodgers who immigrated to Canada during the Vietnam conflict, the individuals coming to Canada now voluntarily joined the United States military and have subsequently deserted."

Which of course is once again not the whole story:

A spokesman for the War Resisters Support Campaign says the Conservative stance is flawed and misleading.

In fact, many Americans volunteered to serve in Vietnam only to recoil from a horrific mission and flee to Canada, said Ken Marciniec. They, too, were allowed to settle here after 1969 following some initial legal wrangling.

Marciniec has been stonewalled since February in his attempts through the Access to Information Act to discover why the accurate history of Vietnam -- including the welcoming of both draft dodgers and deserters -- was cut from the government website. At first his applications were delayed, then he received a heavily censored response dated June 26 that offered no explanation, he said.

The department does indeed confirm that the passages have been removed but not for the reason you might logically conclude. No, it's been removed because:

An "accessibility audit" found "it did not comply with (federal) common look and feel requirements" that help viewers use websites, said spokeswoman Karen Shadd in an emailed response.

Um, is Sarah Palin writing department responses? There are two ways to interpret that I guess. The 'look and feel' wasn't CPC worthy, or, the group is completely incapable of maintaining content while updating a site. I'm thinking it's the former.

Oh and for my friends who in the comments section of my last post were so quick to point to the government doing what Canadians want:

The majority opposition in Parliament has passed a non-binding motion to let Iraq resisters stay.

And an Angus Reid poll last year found 64 per cent of Canadians want the removals to end, and would support a program to offer permanent resident status to the troops.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney drew fire from Amnesty International and other critics earlier this year when he described the AWOL soldiers as "bogus" refugee claimants.

Not so much.

A joint letter signed June 26 by the Liberals, NDP and the Bloc Quebecois urged the Conservatives "to show compassion for those who have chosen not to participate in a war that was not sanctioned by the United Nations."

Nice gesture, but since when did Harper listen to the will of the people, or the will of parliament for that matter?

Chip, chip....chip.

Addition - A good friend just brought this to my attention. Just to show the trend.