Saturday, August 29, 2009


I went to see Michael Ignatieff and Martha Hall Findlay last night and have been mulling over the remarks they made. It was a fundraiser so neither of them made terribly long speeches but I was struck by a couple of things.

If the two of them exemplify how the party has come together, then indeed Ignatieff and others tasked with this responsibility have done well. It may be true that some in the party differ on what strategy to take, but I got the sense that the messaging and the direction were firm.

I should also mention that I saw some of the Ted Kennedy funeral today and while there are no comparisons to be drawn between the people at these two events, both events evoked similar sentiments...hope, in me.

I don't recall who said this at Kennedy's funeral but this really struck me.

'...a time when adversaries still saw each other as patriots'.

Both of our countries seem to have walked away from that given and we are poorer for it, in my view. From calling people who oppose war, or who care about how prisoners are treated, unpatriotic or terrorist supporters is beyond the pale in my view, but we've allowed that to enter our discourse. To refer to a citizen who has lived and worked outside this country as, less Canadian, misses completely, what it is to be a citizen of this country.

That said, I do not think Stephen Harper is less Canadian than me. I think the image he has for this country is vastly different than mine, but that does not diminish his patriotism.

That brings me back to last night. Both Martha and Michael spoke of their ideals and potential of the country and while those terms sound lofty, they spoke to specifics concerning the economy and matters such as isotope production. Areas where we could excel. Ignatieff was careful to keep this in context. He spoke to existing and untapped potential, rather than magnanimous offerings to the rest of the world.

He and Martha, contrasted that with Harper's view and they both called on Dryden's expression of, 'a pinched view of Canada'. It's an apt description really, isn't it?

Harper believes that federal intervention should exist only to enforce Foreign Policy direction and to oversee the military. Well, to be fair, it's a bit more complex than than, but not much.

I suppose it's a legitimate view to have, but it's not one that the majority of Canadians share. That is just a fact. In that respect, patriotism becomes fuzzy. Are we patriotic to our traditional ideals or those that we wish were in place?

There is no getting away from who we are as a nation, or rather how the bricks were stacked to build this country. It is true however, that some are not keen on how that foundation looks and are chipping away at the mortar that holds them together.

That is how I see Harper and I think that is how Ignatieff sees his lean as well. He articulated, far better than I can, how the conversation in this country has been reduced to small matters.

I guess it's some of what I have tried to write about here, over time. The focus of this nation, it's dialogue, has been strategically reduced through Harper's incumbency. I am guilty of partaking in this discourse are many of our major sources of news. This to me is a tragedy and one that need not continue.

My sense last night was the Liberals are not interested in keeping the conversation narrow. Indeed their intent is to expand it, push it out to it's natural breathing space and push it out yet again from there. More oxygen.

This will not be easy, because as we have witnessed in the US, once 'petty' takes hold, for some sad reason, it holds a large embrace. That theoretical hug in this country is still restricted to small numbers though, but they have loud voices. Voices, in the isolation of parties really at this point don't hold a stronger voice, though they are united in their overall view.

Given that, we do have a chance and choice to change the message. We have a chance to bring it back to what we believe this country is capable of. New citizens came here to realise that very thing and we who are here by accident of birth have depended on it.

Expectations grounded in history and reality, seemed to be the theme last night.

Done right, I'm oh so okay with that.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Hate When That Happens!

We all know Harper to be a control freak, so little stories like this make me chuckle.

Two Conservative MPs have broken ranks with the government over support for the asbestos industry as Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff faces criticism in Quebec for opposing the export of what he called such "dangerous substances."

Conservative MP Dona Cadman of British Columbia told Canwest News Service Thursday she would love to see asbestos mining operations in Quebec shut down, adding "I could get myself in a lot of trouble for this."

Ontario Conservative MP Pat Davidson told the Sarnia Observer last week — after the Canadian Medical Association called for a ban on asbestos use and exports — that "I'm definitely not supporting the mining or exporting of asbestos."

Now, as things go, these two backbenchers aren't going to make a whit of difference in terms of party policy, but the dynamics are worth noting. Both MP's, are relative newbies, obviously aware of the risk but still willing to stake their claim. Once the House resumes, will they still have the chance to make such proclamations? We'll likely never know because the press doesn't exactly hound these people.

Oddly though, they are aligning themselves with Ignatieff. Ohh, that has to tick off the PMO. I mean, Harper is not one to seek allies, nor one to push his party to seek common ground for resolution. EI anyone?

His loyalists, like Dimitri Soudas, have to of course make this all about Ignatieff. I mean really...whenever something happens in the Conservative's all about the Liberals. (I hear therapy is cheap these days.)

Harper's spokesman, Dimitri Soudas, said Conservative MPs can say what they like, but that does not change the government's policy to "defend and promote the safe usage and export of chrysotile (asbestos)."

He blasted Ignatieff for flip-flopping on the issue and accused him of readiness to shut down a one-industry region. "He's a touring recession," Soudas said.

Ha! Who exactly is a touring recession? Could it be the guy running around the country announcing, re-announcing, and issuing cheques? Have you read the latest debt numbers? Are mirrors verboten in your party?

During a visit to the Thetford Mines region in early August, Harper reiterated the government's support for the export of asbestos, and blasted the Liberals and the NDP for being "urban" parties that don't understand Canada's rural regions.

"We're a nation of regions. We can't travel across Canada and threaten to shut down regional economies without compromising Canada's future," he told a local newspaper in an interview. "These parties have a completely urban perspective. They don't understand regional economies and the nature of the Canadian economy."

Uh, translated that means, 'Can't touch that! (sans music). We need hell with health!'

To be serious for a minute though, the plight of the countries we export to is certainly not top of mind for this government. The 'Pull yourself up from the bootstraps' screed comes to mind...addressing an audience with no boots of course.

Kathleen Ruff, a longtime human rights activist who lobbies MPs to take a stance against asbestos, praised Ignatieff as "very gutsy" for making his statements in Quebec. She reiterated her criticism of the government for blocking an effort since 2006 to have asbestos listed as a hazardous substance under the international Rotterdam convention.

Being gutsy involves taking thoughtful stands. It's so much more than talking 'tuff' and taking positions built on ideology.

Sadly, that's all our PM seem to know.

He must really hate, when this stuff happens. It highlights his obduracy and that makes me chuckle.


"Canadians from Newfoundland and Labrador to British Columbia remain ashamed of Canada`s senior legislative body. They are ashamed the Prime Minister continues the disgraceful, undemocratic appointment of undemocratic Liberals to the undemocratic Senate to pass all too often undemocratic legislation."

Stephen Harper, Hansard, March 7, 1996

"Stephen Harper will cease patronage appointments to the Senate. Only candidates elected by the people will be named to the Upper House."

Stephen Harper Leadership Website, January 15, 2004

"A conservative government will not appoint to the senate anyone who does not have a mandate from the people."

Conservative Party website during 2006 election

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Strength and Dignity

Suaad Mohamud appeared before committee today. Heretofore, I sensed a dignity about her, but to actually see her testify, brought that and many more qualities to the fore.

If you consider just how recent her ordeal was, to come before parliament now was a feat I'm not sure many of us could undertake. Her motives are clear. What was done to her was wrong and she does not want to see it happen to anyone again.

She clearly time-lined what happened to her and though I knew most of the story, I was still appalled. She maintained her composure until she mentioned her son. It was apparent to me that he was paramount in her thoughts all the while she was dealing with the abuse. Something I hadn't known was, early on, officials laid out some photos, one of which was her son's and she identified him immediately. They ignored that.

Her testimony was honest, moving and all at once frightening.

The Liberals apologised, the NDP apologised, not sure about the Bloc on that point, but they were clearly taken aback...the Cons? Well, they mostly attacked.

To be fair, they did not attack the witness, well not outright. Brian Jean at the end showed himself to be a completely classless individual, by trying to push Mohamud to commit that she'd sign a release (releasing herself from privacy) stating that ALL info from a government report could be made public. There were insinuations in his question (and Goldring's) that are beneath contempt, mostly relating to the fact that she was aware that agents were taking bribes and she would not succumb to that.

They didn't come out and say it, but it felt to me, (my sense only) that they might be trying to use that as a way to discredit her or at least defend themselves. I'd invite you all to watch for such a development.

Beyond that, it felt as if the Cons were seeking a commitment from Suaad, that could/would/potentially direct the government in terms of what they put in the report.

Con MP Galipeau, imho, is past his prime. He rambled, thought it appropriate to make a joke that really wasn't one and tended to dismiss all by saying 'sometimes things fall between the stools'. I'm hoping that's a French Canadian expression that I missed along the way, because it sounded bizarre.

The kicker though was MP Deepak Obhrai. If ever there was a reason to worry about travelling abroad, this man is it. Oh, he very sympathetically looked at Suaad and said he comes from, well, I'll have to go back and listen, but he made it sound as if he was from her village. That ridiculous comment aside, he then went on excoriate Lib MP Dan McTeague. Agree or disagree with McTeague, there is no question that he takes these cases seriously, has experience and has always fought for what is right on these issues. McTeague, while in government, was parliamentary secretary to the Foreign Affairs Minister, the same position that Obhrai holds.

That didn't stop Obhrai though. No siree! It in fact fueled him. He accused McTeague of calling civil servants racist. McTeague has never said anything of the sort, but facts are meaningless to this man. In fact, when asked to support his accusations, he pompously said he doesn't have to do that.

Excuse me? When did the Conservatives pass a law that said you can defame/libel without supporting evidence?

It was interesting really, watching Obhrai trying to twist all that has been said about the Conservative government and deflect it to the civil service. I still can't find the pretzel shape in my mind to describe what he was doing. Every single fact that has come out, the government is obviously not taking responsibility for. Obhrai suggests that the civil service is in charge of everything, which of course is antithetical to how the Conservatives operate.

And of course there was the old saw, the Liberals started this. Yawn. Galipeau even had the audacity to point out that a treaty mentioned earlier on, was signed by Trudeau.

Sigh, they still don't seem to realise that they have been in power for almost 4 years.

Perhaps by the time they do, they will be back where they are more comfortable, sitting in opposition, still fighting to keep certain people out of the country.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bluster? Baffles Brains

Watching what is going on in the US right now, it's tough to not to draw comparisons right here at home.

For the most part, we don't have gun toting crazies assembling at town halls, though I'm sure it's happened in certain parts of this country. There are some similarities to be drawn though.

Let me preface this rant for the benefit of people who don't read me often with this. I am not anti-conservative, in that, I think it's important to have a balance of opinion in all things and as it relates to government, I think Foreign Affairs, the Economy, Health...and more, are all issues that I believe deserve a vigorous, fair debate. I think in doing so we can come to a consensus that fairly reflects the make up of the country. In effect, we have accomplished that here, in the past.

Contemporary times present us with a different dynamic though. The Conservatives we face in this country are no longer made up of, or led by, what we have traditionally known in Canada. Sadly, most Canadians don't know this and for a reason that completely eludes me, the media has spent no time explaining same. Dropping the Progressive from their name was far larger and more meaningful than a need for a new logo. It was a statement that should have told Canadians that they were not a mainstream party. They were not interested in consensus. They are a group that have felt marginalised, (rightly so, some would say), and they found a way to 'get in' the front door.

Why the media bought this, is truly beyond me. Perhaps I should rephrase that. I'm not sure they have bought it, but they seem incapable of putting it into words that don't resort to hackneyed terms. Rather than think, they are now busy telling us 'see, Harper has moved to the centre...', which of course he hasn't. He has a minority and is playing the game out front that looks innocuous, all the while behind the scenes, changing what the country is.

There seems to be a sense out there that the only frame in which to place this reality is a 'scary' one...but that is not true. Facts, in their simplicity, will do. Harper and the Conservatives are who they are. Do you really think spending the coffers dry is antithetical to who he is? Antithetical to what he wants for this country? Of course not. This economic downturn was a gift from the gods for this man. What better way to render government impotent than to leave it without funds?

Okay, back to the present. The crazies in the States are certainly fueling the nuts up here. Some right wing bloggers in Canada are hell bent on proving that climate change is a hoax, they concur that Obama is a Communist and they approach the 'Birther's' nuttery when they question Ignatieff's credentials. True, it's more genteel than some of the Birther claims, but it's no less insidious.

The strategy of these claims is precisely what was fed to the Birther movement in the States. It's not based in fact, but rather a plausible conclusion of what bent facts could mean. In other words, a hypothetical is pushed out with a false conclusion and it's sold as fact. It's related in simple terms to appeal to simple people and sadly, both countries seem to have many of those.

Take what John Baird had to say today for instance.

“This guy was a university professor at Harvard, I don’t know a single person with any experience in (government) who would believe him...of course, elections will cause instability,” Baird said.

Note the incongruity. He brings up Ignatieff's past as if he's not experienced government in flux, government in the midst of an election, government throwing us into an unnecessary election and last but not least, the current government proroguing in the middle of a worldwide economic meltdown, claiming all along that the country was stable...not a problem.

None of that mattered to Baird of course. No, his intent is to get you to focus on the fact that Ignatieff taught at Harvard (oh no!) and that would of course negate all of his more recent experience in this country. Completely idiotic, completely illogical, but that is what this crew banks on.

I think it's clear that about 1/3 of this country buys the lie, or at the very least are willing to perpetuate it to maintain power and in my view, we are a weaker country for that.

If you strive to convince through lies, you stand for nothing, mean nothing. You are bereft of ideas that will stand on their own and therefore send one clear message. You are not a leader....unless of course you consider those who lie to the masses in order to condition them to follow, leaders. Uh, who comes to mind there?

For the record, Baird is full of it. During an election, allocations will continue to be made and the country will be funded as is required. It has always been thus.

What Baird meant to say is, "Holy *#@^! If we have an election, our seats across the country may not be stable! Must...stop...this!"

Bluster is meant to baffle brains. Brains are meant to provide a baffle against the bluster.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Where Have the Media Been All Summer?

Throughtout the summer, I've followed where Michael Ignatieff has been speaking and to whom. It wasn't difficult to do of course, as most of it is hidden in plain site at the Liberal website and of course media outlets are apprised of his whereabouts.

I've been following something else though too. I've read at least one opinion per week, by lazy scribes like the one featured above, telling me that the leader of the opposition hasn't done anything, hasn't been anywhere, only to go on tell me that everything he has done is wrong.

I don't know from where this antediluvian opinion writer is plying his trade? A cottage? A dock? A dusty old office that is unable to inspire him to generate even one original thought? I do know that neither he nor his colleagues have taken it upon themselves to actually expend some energy and follow Ignatieff across the country in order to form their opinion.

Sorry. Do I sound a bit harsh? Well, this kind of tripe has hit every publication this summer written by various columnists. Really, they could have saved themselves a lot of time by just agreeing to have everyone contribute one sentence, then change the byline every week. Each and every one of them has said Ignatieff hasn't been in the media enough, while somehow oblivious to the fact that they haven't taken the time to do the work they lament not seeing.

I don't expect opinion writers to traverse the country, but I do expect that instead of chastising their victim, they'd take aim where it is their compatriots.

What is particularly insulting to me as a reader, is the manner in which people like MacDonald write. They sit perched, prepared to tell us all precisely what is and what is not. What is good, what is bad and why, in Ignatieff's case, he can do no right.

If you've ever watched this man, L. Ian MacDonald, on television, you'll note that he almost inevitably makes reference to the Mulroney days. No surprise there, he worked for Mulroney for years. But he seems to use that period as his benchmark and unless you are following those stale outdated formulaic political calculations, you are deemed inferior.

He purports to possess the most intimate detail of all that goes on inside the LPC and OLO for that matter and expects us to believe that whopper without once ever indicating that he has even the slightest bit of knowledge of what is going on inside the party.

Oh, and I love this deep bit of insight:

They allowed Iggy to go to London to give the Isaiah Berlin lecture, and have his picture taken in a tuxedo. A leader should never be photographed at a black-tie event until after he has won an election.

Um, what? Gawd! No one will ever vote for him now! The shame! I think we know what side of the debate MacDonald was on concerning Michelle Obama wearing shorts, don't we?

Then there is this:

Here's something else for the Liberals to consider: With a new leader taking advantage of the worst economic downturn in decades, they should be running 10 to 15 points ahead in the polls, easily leading every region of the country except the West. Instead, they're running no better than even with the Conservatives, given polls' margin of error, with both parties in the mid-30-per-cents.

Really? That's the conventional wisdom is it? Based on....? Is every opposition party, (where the gov't isn't dealing with scandal) 10 points ahead of the incumbent? No. Of course he goes on to say what a fab job Harper is, shouldn't he then be 10 pts. ahead in the polls?

Anyway, the article isn't worth picking apart. It's the same pap we've read all summer. Until their vacations are over, the next time you read a headline like: 'Where has Ignatieff been?', consider that he worked throughout the summer while those asking the question apparently didn't feel the need.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Good News / Bad News

It appears that there might be good news finally for Abdihakim Mohamed who has been stranded, by our government's actions, for 3 years!
Canadian man who has been stranded in Kenya for three years after a dispute over the legitimacy of his passport photo may finally return to Canada in coming weeks, the man's lawyer said Thursday.

Abdihakim Mohamed, a 25-year-old Ottawa man who has autism, has been stuck in Kenya since a 2006 attempt to renew his passport was halted by Canadian officials who claimed his ears looked different in a new passport photo, said his Ottawa-based lawyer Jean Lash.
His ears? Seriously? Mohamud was held back because her lips looked different and now someone is basing this case on his ears? Besides the absolute subjective absurdity of this being a valid method to grant someone travel permission, are we really relying on non scientific methods to determine who people are? I know the Conservatives aren't science fans, but really?
While this is good news, do not kid yourself. It's difficult to believe that this case would have been resolved so quickly had the Mohamud case not come to the fore. This is classic 'clean up' folks, but it's unlikely to that, this is too public now for the government to cover up.
They are going to try of course, as they illustrated the other day, but alas, they seem to forget that they do not control the facts.
As for all of this being forgotten? I'm afraid that's not going to happen either.
A Toronto woman who was stranded in Kenya over false claims she was an impostor is suing the federal government for $2.5 million.
Between fighting against Canadian's rights in court and defending themselves for same, you have to wonder how much the Harper government has cost the country.
We have a sense of what it is doing to our reputation, with various stories appearing:
Norwegian Ambassador Tor Berntin Naess:
"[The past four years in Ottawa] leaves me with an impression that Canada has changed," Mr. Naess says. "Canada is not the same as it used to be. I feel, personally, that politically it was [once] closer to Norway['s] thinking than it is today. I dare say that we feel Canada...used to be [a] more like-minded country to Norway....
As to what it has cost us in dollars and cents? Don't hold your breath for an answer on that one.
h/t - to Impolitical for that last quote.

Ignatieff in St. John, NB

Thursday, August 20, 2009

♫ You Say You Want a Revolution ♫

By now, no doubt, most of you have read this story, describing the supposed new strategy to be undertaken by the Conservatives in the next election. In fairness, I can only treat this story as speculation, as I would reading a story about Liberal strategy, but the more I think about it, the more it seems to hold up.

If you consider that Harper and his caucus have never let go of the ridiculous 'scary coalition' language, it stands to reason that they will rely on that as being one of their boogeymen.

The article refers to using the 'majority needed' tactic to withstand the recession. Given that most economists are now predicting that we are on the upside of that, that seems an odd strategy, but what intrigues me more is this bogus idea that they still believe that they are more fiscally responsible than the Liberals. Every empirical fact shows that not to be true and is easily countered with fact, but therein lies the challenge.

If indeed this is the strategy and likely Harper's last kick at the Can. uh can, I think we will be in for spate of fact twisting such that we have never seen in this country. The last election was bad and the aftermath worse. Indeed they were feeling so bullish that they completely tipped their hand as to how they would behave with a majority. The result? Prorogation.

His supporters hate this term, but there is no denying that Harper is a bully, or at least employs those unsavoury characteristics, often. That has not gone unnoticed. An election campaign, when he's not relying on blue sweaters, brings that out in him in spades. The poor man just can't help himself.

Here's the thing though. Also according to the article, the Conservatives plan to fight for a majority based on calming things down and not being in a perpetual state of 'election ready'.

Revenue Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn confirmed the new messaging in an interview this week.

"We have had three elections in the last four years, and that's a lot. A minority can have its charms, but over the long term, a country like Canada cannot continue to be eternally governed by minorities," he said. the concept about a nano-second of thought, why have we been in this state again? Oh, yes! Because the majority of Canadians (and in our system that means the majority of the House) do not agree with the Conservative agenda. In other words, they are the cause of what they seek to rectify.

Bruce Anderson has some interesting thoughts on the issue, but I wholly disagree. He seems to have bought, or believes that Canadians have bought, that this crew running government are really a middle of the road, do nothing party. Ha! Doesn't polling involve research and reality checks? At the very least, you would hope so before making proclamations.

Ironically, the tactic in itself could actually give the Liberals an advantage. 'Tired of the unrest for the past 4 years? Remember how that wasn't the case under the Liberals?' Okay... I'll never be hired to develop campaign marketing strategy, but you get my drift.

There are just too many groups out there that are unhappy. This for instance, I found interesting.

Finally, I found this article by Peter C. Newman insightful. He speaks of someone that the Liberals are apparently wooing, Daniel Veniez. He was a Harper supporter and in fact an appointee. Here's what struck me about what Veniez had to say.

He left politics to become a senior vice-president of Repap Enterprises, a lively pulp and paper company, and became a Stephen Harper supporter in 2006. “I wanted him to succeed,” says Veniez. “He was from the West, obviously smart, while the Liberals had become like the PC party that I left in 1992—tired and intellectually bankrupt.

While I admired Harper, like many Canadians I didn’t trust the Reform crowd, their social conservative bent, and their dogmatic theology on economics, social and foreign policy. But I also thought that the party was maturing and that they had renounced their populist and evangelical impulses.”

Veniez became a successful West Coast entrepreneur and in 2007 was appointed by the Harper government as chairman of Ridley Terminals Inc., a Crown corporation that operates a Prince Rupert, B.C., bulk commodity hub. Tories had been suggesting that he run in one of three Vancouver ridings but by then his hopes for the Conservative Prime Minister had evaporated. “The PM’s policy of incrementalism was inconsistent with my vision of responsible governance and leadership. It’s really the mindset of big “r” Reform—his small-tent western and rural populist base, and its Christian fundamentalist core. And that’s anathema to my essential DNA.

“The Conservative party and its leader are permanently angry,” he goes on. “That’s an ingrained part of who they are and what they represent. On a visceral level, they remain a protest party and have turned themselves into a protest government. They manage by negatives and are genetically incapable of inspiring hope or thinking big. They attack, assassinate character, tell lies, lower the bar on public discourse, and engage in tactical and divisive wedge politics and governance. The tone, strategy, and culture for this government are established by Harper, a cheap-shot artist and cynic of the highest order.”

Yep. I'd say that sum's it up pretty nicely.

♫ You Say You Want a Revolution ♫

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Stop Insulting Our Intelligence!

Yesterday I suggested that the government was developing their strategy on the Suaad Mohamud story, while hiding behind the cover of, 'uh we're looking into it'. Well, as it turns out, that seems to be the case...and more.

Harper appears to have chosen the route of plausible deniability. Of course, as is usually the case when taking this route, it's not plausible at all.

Harper suggested he became aware of the case only last week, even though her well-publicized plight of being stuck in Kenya had begun 11 weeks earlier.

To even suggest that this is the case, is beyond ridiculous. Harper, the man who has a finger in every file, expects Canadians to believe that he knew nothing about a prominent case, implicating his government in wrongdoing until last week?

We are expected to believe that he was not made aware of the controversial comments made in July, by one of his top Ministers, Lawrence Cannon? And it's not just Cannon who has been aware of and commented on this case. Peter Van Loan and Jason Kenney have also been asked about it. We are further expected to believe that he was not made aware of comments made by the official opposition, Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae, Dan McTeague and others?

Seriously, this is treating Canadians with the contempt we know he holds, but somehow often manages to convince some media in this country otherwise.

"When we became aware of the case last week, we asked our officials in various departments to give us some information," Harper said at a news conference yesterday. "Obviously there (is) some troubling information here. It's a complex case. I have asked my officials for a thorough review of the matter ... (then) we'll decide what further inquiry we do have to do."

Who is we? His government? That is generally the royal 'we' used by a PM and if that is the case, that is a bald face lie and he knows it.

Privately, officials say the Prime Minister is upset at how the case has been handled and that "heads could roll" once the internal review is finished.

Tough talk, huh? Well, not so much.

Liliane Khadour has "concluded" her posting, a consular official at the Canadian High Commission said yesterday from the capital, Nairobi.

"Her tour of duty is over," he said, explaining that Foreign Affairs employees rotate posts every two or three years, and Khadour had been in Nairobi for two. "I am not very sure where she went."

She's in Ottawa as it turns out.

The head that should roll in this case is the PM's. He has cultivated a culture in his cabinet and caucus for that matter, that it's acceptable to treat some Canadians differently than others. By example, he's encouraged his party to use language when referring to some, that feeds his rabid base, while insulting the rest of us.

Embassy mag, weighs in on the issue and suggests that the Conservatives could still turn our (Canada's), tattered reputation around by showing some compassion.

The writer of the article seems to have missed the fact that compassion is not a term understood by the Conservative Party of Canada, let alone employed.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Enough Already!

I understand that the government has to conduct and investigation, but really, how complicated can this be? It looks to me that it is more likely that the government is trying to develop a way to present this to absolve themselves.

Mohamud's lawyer is still getting a run around, which is ridiculous.

The passport which stranded a Toronto woman in Kenya for months is now at the centre of a standoff between the federal government and the lawyer representing Suaad Hagi Mohamud.

Raoul Boulakia is taking his demands that the government immediately turn over Mohamud's passport and case file to Federal Court while officials in Ottawa remain vague on the whereabouts of the crucial piece of ID.

"(The government is) trying to pretend there were complications in this case," said Boulakia. "It was all nonsense."

That last statement goes to the claim that there was a whisper campaign going on, which was obvious based on the idiotic ramblings of Minister Cannon.

Boulakia said he wants to get his hands on Mohamud's passport to see if consular officials were justified in doubting his client's identity. Mohamud's passport had been loaned to Kenyan authorities as her case was being prosecuted, but ought to be back in Canadian hands by now, he said.
"I want that passport back."

The Department of Foreign Affairs was tight-lipped on the matter, deferring inquiries about Mohamud's passport and case file to Passport Canada.

Passport Canada spokesman Sebastien Bois said anyone who has their passport seized by authorities for prosecution will have to apply for a new one.

But the charges were thrown out so...

Bois said when Passport Canada is advised a passport is out of its control, it is immediately cancelled.

In such cases passports are eventually returned to Passport Canada or to the nearest Canadian government office.

"Applicants do not have the option of having the passport returned to them," Bois said. "The Canadian passport remains at all times the property of the government of Canada."

It should still be a valid passport! Obviously if a person is found to be in possession of a fraudulent passport, they don't get it back, but that is not the case here. Even if it's not officially valid, it's part of the case and investigation and must be turned over.

This is beyond ridiculous.

For the record, I heard today that the woman who processed her in Kenya has been fired and can't be found? I have yet to see a complete story on that but hope it will be investigated further.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Guess What He's Up To?

I know that Tom Flanagan would like us to think that there is now enough distance between himself and Harper to be able to remark as a casual observer. Sadly for him though, many of us actually think, so we know better.

Just as election rumblings heat up again, oops!, there's Flanagan laying the groundwork and making the Libertarian case for his former boss, to eliminate public financing related to our elections. It also comes at a time when Steven Fletcher, the Minister charged with this file, is making noise about the same thing. Coincidence?

Let's take a quick look at Flanagan's claims, because, you know, he likes to leave out the facts.

The Conservative government nearly blew itself out of the water last November when it tried to cut off $27-million a year in federal allowances to political parties. Although polls showed the idea was popular with the public, the commentariat generally panned it as a low blow against competing parties, because they are more dependent on the subsidies than the Conservatives are.

Indeed the Conservatives shot themselves in the foot on this, but he makes the move sound almost altruistic, doesn't he? If not that, a kind of 'golly gee whiz' moment, where all Canadians supported the move but the evil media channeled the opposition parties moaning that they are so desperate for public funds, they couldn't possibly compete with the superior Conservatives.

Pulleze. A few things here. Indeed the Conservatives have been more successful at gaining donations from their base, but that is not what the opposition parties were reacting to.

You do remember don't you that there was this little thing called, the greatest recession since the Great Depression going on? Right? You're forgiven if you forgot, because gawd knows the government didn't believe it at the time. The opposition parties were looking for action, but instead, Harper used this time to push his agenda.

As for the public agreeing? Give me a break! A poll that asked a black and white question? No explanation was given to how this came into being and what it means. You know, shallow questions invite uneducated answers and often pollsters go out and prove just that.

The allowances were introduced in 2004, as part of Jean Chrétien's bill that eliminated corporate and labour contributions to parties while capping individual donations at $5,000. The allowances were supposed to compensate parties for revenue lost from corporate and labour union contributions. The screw was tightened further in 2007, when the cap for individual donations was reduced to $1,000, adjusted annually for inflation.

The insinuation here is, when you bring it back to the previous comment, is that the Conservatives were above all that. That they only received contributions in denominations of $5.00 and $10.00 standing in a line outside of Tim's. BS of course. That aside, Chretien should be lauded for bringing in reform, though I think the $1,100. cap was too low.

Flanagan goes on to suggest that we should model our system against the US. Colour me suprised! His argument is gentle and sounds almost reasonable, but you'll note that it's focused solely on the tax system. The Libertarian system that is all about, me, me, me...not us.

That is not at the root of public financing! It is designed to be a system that engages people to contribute to the party that espouses their ideas. It's known the world over as a democratic expression given to the people. Getting a tax credit for it is a perk, but it shouldn't, well in fact can't, be considered to be the only motivation.

Anyway, all of that to say, be on guard. If there is an election this Fall, this will be on the Conservative agenda and the spin will come faster than you can blink. You'll undoubtedly be told that your money is supporting the evil Bloc and therefore it must end!

Don't be spun. For our country at this point in time, the system we have makes sense. I'd like to see the contribution limit raised personally, but outside of that, this is yet another ploy to undermine and eliminate government and your participation at the same time.

Sad, but there is no longer any reason to guess what he's up to.

We know.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Gee...Ya Think?

Imagine that? The Canadian government is actually going to look into what happened to Suaad Mohamud. Isn't that good of them?

After staunchly refusing to recognize her citizenship for weeks on end, the federal government is now probing how it handled the case of a Canadian woman who has returned home after being detained in Kenya for months over an identity dispute.

Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan said the Canada Border Services Agency is preparing a report detailing just how Somali-born Mohamud, who was visiting her mother in Kenya, ended up spending eight days in jail and over two months holed up in a hotel room as she struggled to prove who she was.

"From where we see it now it looks like it needs a bit of an explanation," said Van Loan "What decisions were made and why and to get a sense of what actually occurred."

From where he sees it now? Basing a person's citizenship on the size of her lips in a 4 year old photo wasn't enough of a clue that something was wrong?

Our government isn't only deplorable, it's comprised of idiots. This is not going to end here.

"We want an official review of the high commission," said Ahmed Hussen, president of the Canadian Somali Congress. "A lot of questions remain unanswered."

According to Hussen, Mohamud's case is not an isolated incident.

He pointed to the case of a young Somali Canadian man who has been stranded in Kenya for almost three years after an error on his mother's part left him without a passport

Are any of you familiar with that case? It concerns Abdihakim Mohamed? Yes indeed, yet another Canadian abandoned by the government of Canada.
His story is a bit complex. He's autistic you see and that condition was causing him some difficulty here, so, on the advice of a psychiatrist, his mother, Anab Mohamed Issa decided to take him to her native Somalia to experience a change in culture, in 2004. It worked well and Abdihakim adjusted nicely to living with her family and while she didn't want to leave her son, she had to return to Canada to continue her employment.

When she returned to Canada, she took his passport with her. She knew of the danger of the passport being stolen in Somalia and because he was autistic, she had power of attorney, of property. In spite of that, when she returned in 2005, the border agency in Canada took his passport from her.


In 2006, her relative became ill so she decided to go back and bring her son home.

She took him to Nairobi, to apply for a passport at the Canadian High Commission there, which serves Somalia.

The immigration officer in Nairobi didn't believe Mr. Mohamed was who his mother said he was; one of the issues seems to be that he didn't seem autistic enough. The photo on his citizenship card was taken when he was younger, although to my eye, it bears a strong resemblance to a more recent photo

Ms. Issa returned to Canada, leaving her son under the imperfect care of relatives in Nairobi. She kept trying to get him a passport. Mr. Mohamed is unhappy in Kenya; his autism and his Somali ethnicity make him vulnerable to thuggery and harassment from the authorities.

In April 2008, Ms. Issa got a letter from Passport Canada informing her she was under investigation for her "involvement in attempting to obtain a passport for an imposter in the name of [her] son Abdihakim."

But she hasn't been charged with anything.
How do you describe this as anything less than criminal? It's intimidation by our government. Yes, here in Canada, our government is intimidating her.
Disgusted yet? Yet again I should say?

It must be remembered here, that Stephen Harper himself is in charge of Foreign Affairs. I know that he has his hand in every file, but Foreign Affairs is most assuredly, one of his babies.

Then, in July, the same agency said she couldn't apply for a regular passport on her son's behalf anyway, because Mr. Mohamed's mental incapacity preceded the granting of Power of Attorney. Passport Canada told her she needs a court order giving her guardianship.

Ms. Issa would be happy to oblige -- but that process requires Abdihakim to be in Canada.

Umm, what?

Her other option, Passport Canada said, was to apply for a passport of limited validity on compassionate grounds.
But then, in November, Passport Canada told her that "there remains the issue surrounding the true identity of this individual, which must be resolved before a travel document will be issued."

Are you sensing a pattern here? A circuitous list of demands that the government is putting up, made impossible to meet?

Jean Lash of South Ottawa Community Legal Services has been gathering a pile of affidavits from Canadian citizens who know Mr. Mohamed and can vouch for his identity. Mr. Mohamed has offered to submit to DNA testing, Ms. Lash says, but Passport Canada hasn't taken him up on the offer.

"He had a valid passport, which was seized by the government," says Toronto lawyer David Yerzy, who knows Mr. Mohamed and signed an affidavit attached to his recent photo. "It's not lost. All he needs is a passport renewal."

Think back to Mohamud's case. The Canadian officials, shredded and/or voided, her passport. Imagine that for a minute. You're a Canadian and Canadian officials are shredding your passport and identity.

I generally try to stand clear of outrage, but I just cannot believe what is going on here.

Here is another article by the writer of the previous one. I think she is too polite in this case, but that's her job. She's been a stalwart on these issues and I would recommend that you follow her work.

So, who's with me in promoting and pushing this story to gain some light?

Something is horribly broken in our system and Harper doesn't seem overly inclined to fix it. Why would he? Such stories feed red meat to the whacko aspect of his base.
Note: Some follow up to Suaad's case.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sanity Prevails

The court has rejected the Harper government's appeal to have an earlier ruling overturned.

The Federal Court of Appeal has upheld a judge’s ruling that ordered the federal government to press for the return of Omar Khadr from a U.S. military detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Once again, this government is being told in no uncertain terms, that it does not have the right to flout human rights conventions and it seems to me that they also have no authority to pick and choose which Canadians they will afford rights to.

From the original decision:

In his 43-page decision, O'Reilly wrote that the federal government's ongoing refusal to request his repatriation to Canada "offends a principle of fundamental justice and violates Mr. Khadr's rights.
"To mitigate the effect of that violation, Canada must present a request to the United States for Mr. Khadr's repatriation as soon as practicable," the judge wrote.

I really don't know what it will take, how many peoples lives must be ruined, before this government is ousted, but these cases must stay in the news.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, NDP Leader Jack Layton and Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe have sent a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama calling for Khadr's repatriation and for any evidence against him to be released to Canadian authorities.

The U.S. and Canadian governments are signatories to a United Nations protocol that states fighters under age 18 are to be considered child soldiers and must be released and helped to reintegrate into society.

Once again, sanity that only seems to exist outside of this current government and many of it's supporters, prevails.

Decision is here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Why am writing about this yet again? Because we have to keep speaking about this and other cases so Canadians see how terribly flawed this government really is.

I heard and read some comments today from Harper that deeply disturbed me, or perhaps I should say, the way they were being reported disturbed me.

To begin with, to hear Harper say that his first priority is to get her home, seriously raises my blood pressure.

"Our first priority as a government is obviously to see her get on a flight back to Canada," Harper said in Kitchener today, referring to Suaad Hagi Mohamud, a Canadian citizen who was detained because Kenyan and Canadian officials there thought she did not look like her passport photo.

His first priority? Please. Three months after the fact, that statement is hardly believable, ridiculous even. What? Does he not think that anyone has kept track of the government's performance? Does he think because he speaks, that then becomes fact? Sadly I think he does and more tragic, I think some who report on him believe that too.

But I heard something else in a recent radio report. That is, that there is much more to this story than we know. In this article it's presented this way:

Harper said that Canadian officials are eager to resolve "what is not an easy case" and to get Mohamud back to Canada

Cue the 'spin' cycle. Personally, I go on high alert when I hear this stuff.

Oh, there are mentions that Van Loan has ordered a review, (yeah another process of people reviewing themselves) but really, when you hear lines like, 'there is more here', especially with this government, you just get a feeling that a story is being manufactured to once again divert blame and cover up.

There is something seriously wrong here. Something wrong in a few departments, and from what I can see, it's either a case of negligence, financially and morally or, it's a case of this government directing the civil service to push their, the Con, agenda. We have other stories, in other departments, that support that view so why not here?

When she comes home, I hope to see victims and lawyers come forward in a joint presser, highlighting how this government treats some people. For the record, they can be white too, but that is more rare.

They, the 'cases', simply have to possess the MO that appeals to their whacko base. As far as I can tell, that is how they handle these cases and you just have to go take a boo over at the BT's on a case by case, basis to firm up that thought. That will tell you whether or not the base was sated.

Today, McTeague says it well:

"What I find most disturbing is that Canadians are possibly being judged in absentia by an Orwellian jury comprised of the Canadian cabinet," said Dan McTeague, the Liberal MP for Pickering-Scarborough East who was tasked with handling cases of citizens in need of help abroad under prime minister Paul Martin.

Oh, I know as soon as you bring terms like Orwellian into the discussion, people shut down, but really, should we? McCarthyism is not that distant in our past...gawd, look at what is going on in the US right now. Covering up? Bush, Cheney, anyone?

These things are real and we all know where Harper lies.

So, yes, this is yet another post and there will be more. We need to get to the bottom of this and no one, no Canadian, should be complacent.

UPDATE - At 0700 EST Aug14/2009, Mohamud is at this moment in Court, as are 2 gov't rep's from the High Comm. They have said nothing on her behalf and have NOT presented required documents to have her released. PMO and Cannon, not responding to her Canadian lawyer.

UPDATE 2 - Charges have now been dropped.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why Am I Writing About This Again?

Because really, this woman has made her case so all should be well and she should be on her way home, right?

Well, if we had a government that cared about it's citizen's...ALL of it's citizens, that would likely be the case, but we don't have that do we?

No, we have a vindictive, uncaring government that is intent on prolonging this woman's misery. Why? Because that is who they are. They pick and choose who they deem worthy of their attention. What they base these decisions on is beyond me, but they clearly are applying different standards for different people and that obviously goes against everything this country and our constitution stands for.

What government does that to it's own people? What government separates their citizens into groups? Think about that for a minute and some pretty despicable characters come to mind.

So, where is this story at? Well in spite of Mohamud being confirmed as herself, she still is not being helped in the manner that you would expect.

Canada's indifference toward Suaad Hagi Mohamud surfaced again today with officials denying her request for identification papers and other help.
"I've got nothing," she said by phone from Nairobi, Kenya, two days after DNA tests validated identity claims she had been making for nearly three months.

Her situation is desperate, she says.

With nothing to show she is in Kenya legally after Canada voided her Canadian passport on May 22 — and her Kenyan visitor's visa — she remains vulnerable to arrest and jail by Kenyan authorities, she said.

Can you imagine? Just travelling outside, she could be picked up. Given that, in an effort to get the paper work done, you'd think that Canadian rep's would go to her right?

"(The Canadian high commission) called this afternoon saying she had to come," the friend said, meaning the high commission turned down her request to send somebody to her.

"I had to drive her myself because her lawyer was not available."

When they arrived, a consular official on the job for three weeks was assigned to the case. He appeared to have no authority and appeared to be acting from a script, the witness said.

Mohamud filled out forms and had her picture taken.
Asked if he might issue identification papers or some type of laissez-passer, the consular official said no. Mohamud would be issued travel papers but only on the day she leaves the country, the official said.

Disgusting? Yes, but it gets worse:

Mohamud remains stuck in Kenya until the Kenyans drop unfounded charges against her. The charges were prompted by the Canadian high commission's May 28 conclusions about her that she was misrepresenting herself — conclusions now proved false.

In Toronto, lawyer Raoul Boulakia has filed a motion in federal court trying to force Ottawa to ask the Kenyans to drop the charges. His case is to be heard tomorrow.

Yes, you read that right. Her lawyer has to go to court to force Ottawa to ask the Kenyans to drop the charges!

Sadly there is yet more:

Kenyan bail money remains another outstanding matter. In June, Mohamud's mother put up $2,500 (U.S.) to get Mohamud out of a Kenyan jail after eight days.

Asked whether Canada might forward Mohamud the money and get it from the Kenyans later, the Canadian consular said no - she must stay until Kenyan authorities pay back the money.
"Usually, the Kenyans don't like to pay back bail very quickly," the witness said.

You might reasonably be wondering what Foreign Affairs is saying about this:

In Ottawa, a foreign affairs spokesperson would say only: "There are several steps that need to be gone through before a travel document can be issued."

Absolute BS! They could have issued documents on the spot. It takes as little as 1 day in similar situations elsewhere and that time is spent contacting people back home to verify identity. In her case, that has already been established.

I cannot describe the anger I feel about this case. I cannot write how it makes me feel about this government. Disgusted doesn't begin to cover it.

The full story is here. Dan McTeague had this to say. And if you are as angry as I am, write you MP here, oh and don't forget this guy.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Do you recognise this man? No, I didn't think so. He's the Conservative that is trying to unseat Ruby Dhalla.

Fair enough. Every party is obviously entitled to run a candidate, however, one would expect that if you were running to become a member of parliament, you would surround yourself with ethical people, no?

Apparently not so much with this guy.

Here's a cute little innocent letter to the editor of the Brampton Guardian:

Last Sunday (Aug. 2), it was great to the the families of Brampton-Springdale come out to Parm Gill’s Free Community Barbecue at Loafers Lake.

With a wide range of people from all cultures, communities and Brampton council representatives, it is clear to see that Parm Gill has made and continues to make a positive impact in Brampton, and he is not even an elected official.

This is the kind of MP we need representing Brampton. An MP that lives , works and raises his family in Brampton.

Who knows when the next election will be but I am glad to see that Brampton’s future look a lot brighter, knowing that Parm Gill and his volunteer team are already working towards making Brampton and Brampton-Springdale safer and more welcoming city like it was once known as.

We need Parm Gill in Ottawa representing us, irrelevant what party he represents, as our future elected official I am confident he will represent our needs first.

Aww, sweet right? Average Joe citizen lauding someone who wants to represent the community...

Not so much as it turns out.

Note that last line:

....irrelevant what party he represents....

That would be a nice sentiment if it were remotely true.

You see, the author of the letter is Michael Gyoval and Michael isn't your average Joe citizen. No sireee. Michael Gyoval was Parm Gill's campaign manager during the last election. No party preference there!

Isn't that pathetic? Doesn't say much about your candidate if you have to write phony letters to the editor to promote him does it?


The Incompetence is Staggering

WARNING: No Canadian should rely on their government to protect them if they travel outside the country. In fact, some should expect the government to actually work against them when they are in trouble. Those people are generally not white, Christian or born in Canada.

As predicted, it has now been proven that Suaad Haji Mohamud, is who she said she was and therefore has been stuck in Nairobi since May, for no reason at all!

This government, our government, did nothing to help her. In fact, they seemed to go out of it's way to prevent her from coming home.

The Canadian government later wrote to the Kenyan government informing officials there that it had done a thorough investigation and determined her to be an imposter and recommended that she be prosecuted.

Recommended that she be prosecuted? I have no words. I am beyond disgusted.

To all the idiots who commented here and elsewhere defending this joke of a government on this issue, you are as disgusting as the idiots you voted for.

Sadly, it's not quite over and while I don't know precisely what this comment means, it doesn't feel right. Is our government going to sit back and allow her to go through the court system in Kenya?

A spokesperson for the Canada Border Services Agency, which is handling calls on the matter, said the agency recognizes the DNA results but that it cannot comment further while Mohamud's case is still before the courts.

This story has not received nearly enough coverage.

Update - In spite the evidence, the government still isn't committing.

Monday, August 10, 2009

You Did What? The Law of Unintended Consequences

Did you happen to see the joint presser today, with Calderon, Obama, and Harper? I should know better, high blood pressure inducing...but I did see it.

As we knew he would, Harper again bashed our Immigration/Refugee system and suggested that the problem had nothing to do with Mexico, but was a Canadian problem. He said something like, ' Canadian refugee laws encourage bogus claims. In the absence of legislative change, a Visa requirement was the only way to fix it'.

That he said this is not a surprise, but consider his words for a moment. He is on a world stage, announcing that we have bad laws that literally encourage bogus refugees claimants, and this problem can only be fixed in parliament.

So, what the hell has he been doing for almost 4 years? It's not as if this is a new problem. In fact, there was an article in March that referred to it:

Interestingly, the largest number of refugee claimants in Canada now comes from Mexico and there are now concerns over illegal Mexican immigration here as well.

It went on to say:

Either way, Canada should be paying more attention to Mexico, not wishing it would somehow go away.

Filipe Calderon didn't mince words. He responded that this issue is serious and has made what should be a strong relationship difficult. Very telling that.

Here's the point though. On more than one occasion, this government has not thought through the consequences of their actions. Like adolescents they seem to only be able to see what is in front of them and dismiss future fall out.

I have no doubt that the bureaucrats warned them, but I also have no reason to doubt that they ignored the advice as we know they are wont to do.

Here's an example of the fall out from this ill conceived policy.

I am a Canadian citizen, born to a Mexican mother, and have been sending kids from Mexico to Canada, to the Victoria and Calgary school districts, for many years. This surprising visa issue has been devastating, and yet most Mexicans have been more than gracious about it.

Our work of an entire year, to enhance the Canadian and Mexican public school systems not only economically but with the thousands of pesos Mexicans spend to study in the system and the resulting cultural advantages, has been severely affected. I am appalled and embarrassed at the handling of this situation. The very least they could have done was give them enough notice to be able to graciously and calmly get their documents together and have a choice of sending them or appearing at the embassy to apply.

Is it really too much to ask that our government think before it takes action?

I won't quibble that our system needs fixing as they say, but watching this gang who can't shoot straight, has gone beyond being embarrassing.

A Prime Minister is charged with protecting our interests abroad and improving them at home, not mocking them, but we know that's his comfort zone, don't we?

Update - One Mexican's personal experience.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Wanted: Intelligent Debate

Watching the debates (for lack of a better term) rage on in the US, has really been something hasn't it? From 'Birthers' to Health Care, there has been no shortage of crazy talk. From Sarah Palin's comment about Obama's 'Death' panels, to Orly Taitz speaking about Obama not being a US citizen, it's bizarre that these things get coverage, but here we are.

I thought of that earlier as I caught some of Fareed Zakaria's show. He was interviewing Hillary Clinton.

Let me begin by saying, we would do well to have a political show in this country hosted by someone with his breadth of knowledge. At one point, he was discussing Bill Clinton's trip to North Korea. He referenced John Bolton's comments last week about the trip, well actually, I think he only got the words "John Bolton said..." out, when Hillary just burst out laughing. Perfect! I thought, perfect!

What a perfect response to the extreme right and their followers. In a second, that laughter destroyed any credibility Bolton's comments may have had. Poof...dismissed!

It's what we should do here more often. It's how progressive political leaders should respond to the lunacy often put out by the right.

All to often though, we become indignant, or angry, because the attempt to reduce substantial issues to dumbed down 30 second sound bites is just so bloody insulting. That anger though is then picked up in the media and it legitimizes that there actually is a debate on a non existent point.

Think of the whole phony 'coup' issue in the fall based on the coalition. The media certainly didn't try to diffuse the situation with facts. Instead, it was as if someone had screamed food fight! and they covertly lobbed a few dozen eggs themselves, just to keep it going. It should be said that we haven't quite fallen to the lunacy we see south of the border, but we've had our moments.

Now, I'm not blaming the media. It is what it is at this point, but if we want a different result, maybe a different reaction is what is needed.

Some issues are too serious to laugh at obviously, but when the outrageous lies are spoken, I'm thinking we'd do well to laugh at them first. Point out their stupidity. Have the media glom on to that track.

It could be why shows like John Stewart's, Rachel Maddow's and Bill Maher's, make mince meat out of GOP talking points in pretty short order.

That said, when the issues are more serious, we need reasoned dialogue, such that I witnessed on Zakaria's show today.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Who Is Up For This Job?

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Seriously. Don't we need our own Maddow?

Okay, I know things are more nuanced in Canada, but do we not have one person, willing to debunk the junk coming from the Harper government? Really? Not one?

That is a sad state of affairs my friends, because if ever a government in this country deserved scrutiny, it's this one.

h/t- Impolitical for the vid

Here's an Idea!

There seems to be a bit of a lazy trend developing. That is, many in print media, mostly the opinion writers, have decided for themselves that whatever Ignatieff does is wrong, not enough, too much, too vague, too precise....well, you get the idea.

What's remarkable is that most of them base their opinion on the polls that have come out over the summer. You know, the polls that come out when people are on vacation and not focused on politics. I mean, didn't these same opinion people tell us that at the start of the summer? They also told us that Ignatieff had to work on rebuilding the party, he had to work on the brand and he had to put some policy together.

As far as I can tell, that is exactly what he has been doing. I don't remember him laying out a plan in June to boost his summer polling numbers, do you?

Then there is this false accusation is that he hasn't been seen anywhere. Hmmm, who's job is it to tell us where he's been and what he's been doing again? Oh right. Well despite the claim that he hasn't been anywhere, this record of events would beg to differ.

It's interesting to me to watch said media repeat this nonsense, because it says so much about them really, doesn't it?

It suggests to me that they are bored. It could also suggest that they are looking for something different, I say could, because that seems to be what they are missing here. Ignatieff is doing things differently. He's not doing the huge, 'look at me' events, but rather meeting with small groups, listening, concentrating on meeting Canadians, while doing Liberal events as well.

That strikes me as someone who is serious about the job they've undertaken, not someone who assumes that the Liberals will return to power through osmosis as some have implied.

The summer will soon wind down, (I know, shhh), and the political scene will regain it's energy. The bored people paid to have opinions will once again have real news to follow and all their ridiculous whining and whingeing will have been for nought.

Their hiatus as fiction writers will have proven to be a bust and they'll be grateful that none of their colleagues had the energy to sue them for plagiarism.

Here's an idea for them though. Instead of making it up as you go along, instead of determining what someone else's job is and how you would do it, presuming of course that you possessed the skills to hold it, why not hone your own talents and actually go see what Ignatieff is doing. You know...cover events, book interviews, shoot footage, take photos...all the things that you are qualified to do.

I know, it sounds whacky, but believe me, you'll feel better and you have my will we.

Unsolved Mysteries - Canadian Political Edition

Via - Enormous Thriving Plants

Friday, August 07, 2009

At Committee Today

Well, the emergency committee meeting held today was really interesting. Really complex, but interesting none the less. What intrigued me the most though, was the interaction between all the players. The politicians and the witnesses.

Unlike other committee meetings I've followed, there was very little sniping. (Maybe because Mike Wallace wasn't there?) There was the occasional CPC member who asked the witnesses to regal all the wonderful things the government had done for their industry, which, really guys.... looks pathetic.

Michael Chong, someone whom I generally respect, (but don't always agree with) was the chair. He runs committees well and overall, stays out of the fray. He tipped his hand today though, or perhaps I should say, he tipped the governments hand in what I can only call a really strange move. So strange that I shook my head and said, 'what the hell?', aloud.

So let me back up here a moment to get to that point.

If you're not familiar with gentleman featured here, it's Mike Lazaridis, president and co-CEO of RIM. Of all the witnesses, he was the most interesting to me. He explained the process that he had been through with Nortel and unless you've followed this story really closely, you may not know that RIM began negotiating with Nortel, long before they declared bankruptcy. (Recall that Clement had given RIM a tip.)

RIM was of the impression that they were very close to a deal, to the point that they had spoken about issuing a press release. Then out of the blue, RIM learns that Nortel is filing for bankruptcy. Still, given some new parametres, RIM continued to negotiate with them and again believed they had a deal. Then, suddenly RIM learned that Nortel was discussing with other companies and the bidding process began. (Why RIM did not get involved in the bidding is complicated, so if you really want to know, I suggest you watch the mtg on CPAC or this will be a very long post.)

All of that to say, RIM believes that Nortel acted in bad faith, reneged on promises and Lazaridis believes that this whole process has been rushed and due diligence has not been done.

His ask? He would like the government, Clement specifically to convene a meeting with all parties, RIM, Nortel and Ericsson, to go over specific details, including a potential risk to national security, in an effort to be sure everything has been taken into account.

The opposition parties seemed open to that, though I've seen no official statement yet. The government? Not so much. Ericsson? Not even as much as the government.

Which brings me to Michael Chong.

As the segment featuring Larazidis was winding up and Chong was about to suspend, he first said he had something to say.

He then went into this bizarre rant on how odd he found it that Jim Balsillie (without naming him) is fighting for one type of process in court, dealing with foreign purchases etc, while Larazidis seemed to be fighting for the opposite?

The rant was longer than that, but that's the meat of it. As he finished it, he brought down the gavel, not even allowing Lazaridis an opportunity to respond. To be honest, I was surprised no one from the opposition called him on it, but the gavel was down.

Anyway, courtesy of Kady, Mike Lazaridis has responded and rather well I think.

August 7, 2009

The Honourable Michael Chong,
M.P.ChairStanding Committee on Industry, Science and TechnologyHouse of CommonsOttawa, Ontario

Dear Mr. Chong,

Thank you for allowing me to appear before the Industry Committee this morning. I appreciated the opportunity to make a statement, table a brief, and in particular to answer the questions posed to me. At the end of the session, as we ran out of time, you raised some important issues without giving me the chance to reply. As such, I would appreciate it if you could read this reply into the record before adjourning today.

First, I fully agree that foreign direct investment is extraordinarily important to Canada. I am a great believer in an open economy. Foreign direct investment cannot be totally unfettered and there are, and should, be limits for Canada, like there are for most countries. We have legislation in Canada that sets out the circumstances in which the government is required to review proposed foreign investments. As I stated in my opening remarks, I fully agree with what Minister Prentice said in May 2008 on behalf of the government:

“When it comes to decisions on whether foreign purchases represent a net benefit to Canada, my bottom line is this: Canada must retain jurisdiction and control over technologies that are vital to the future of our industry and the pursuit of our public policy objectives. We will not accept loss of jurisdictional control to another party.”

That is what today’s discussion is all about.

Second, you referred to proceedings in Arizona concerning the sale of a professional hockey team. With all due respect, the Ericsson -Nortel transaction and what it represents to Canada is in a very different league. I think we can all appreciate the importance of hockey to Canadians; however, the Arizona proceedings are irrelevant to the matters before this Committee today. We are here today to discuss Canada’s national security and national interests in relation to the knowledge economy of the 21 st century. The one parallel that can be made between the two bankruptcy court proceedings is that none of the bankruptcy courts in Arizona, Delaware or Ontario have the mandate or the authority to consider Canada’s national interests.

Third, in regard to your suggestion that RIM was looking to preclude other bidders and was seeking preferential pricing, I urge you to review and consider my earlier comments and submission. If RIM had been given a fair chance to participate in an auction, without being shut out of the opportunity to bid for other vital assets of primary importance to RIM, we would of course have accepted that the winner should be the one with the highest bid. To suggest otherwise is simply not true.

Having said all this, I remain of the view that Minister Clement’s stature is such that he can bring the parties together in good faith for a four-way discussion in order to fashion an outcome in the best interests of Canadians and of the companies involved.

Sincerely yours,

Mike Lazaridis
President and Co-Chief Executive Officer

cc – Members of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology

I do not know where this will go, but I have the distinct impression that the government is hell bent on doing nothing further.

Why you would ignore the problems pointed out by Lazaridis, which were substantial, is beyond me. It seems to me he has a bit of a record in reading things right, don't you think?

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Ignoring the Will of Parliament, Again

This is Rodney Watson. He served in Iraq, until he realised that he'd been sold a bill of goods and that war had nothing to do with 9-11. He was horrified by what he saw there and made the decision not to return.

He, like many others sought refuge in Canada, because, you know...we used to be a compassionate country. No more though. Sadly Watson is seeing, along with the rest of us, that the country has changed under this government and compassion, not to mention logic, is not in their lexicon.

He's been ordered deported on August 10, 2009.

The typical right wing vacuous talking points ignore one important factor. We live in a democracy and our parliament has spoken on this. Twice in fact.

That's right. The majority in the House of Commons voted to have the government cease these deportations. To not do so would ignore the will of Parliament. They even sent the government a friendly reminder of said votes before rising for the summer.

Did I say we lived in a democracy? Silly me. Not so much with this government in power.

There is more here. Please take the time to drop a quick e-mail to the appropriate critic included in that link.

h/t - Antonia Z