April 25, 2005

ANZAC Day 2005

Apr. 25 - What can we say about the Australians? Solid friends, valiant warriors, the kind of people you can trust to watch your backsides - which they do every day in a region just as deadly with terrorist activity as the Mid-east - and first in whenever there's a catastrophe, be it tsunami, cyclone, or bombs.

The generic Australian news site has a wonderful flash show (probably only for today) and has the video for services in Gallipoli, where over 17,000 gathered for the dawn services to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the the beach assault in 1915.

Australia's prime minister addressed the assembled:

"It lives on in the valour and sacrifice of young men and women that ennoble Australia in our times," Mr Howard said.

"In the scrub of the Solomons, in the villages of Timor, in the desert of Iraq and the coast of Nias.

"It lives on in the nation's easy familiarity, in Australians looking after each other through courage and compassion in the face of adversity.

"So we dedicate ourselves at this hour, at this place, not just to the memory of Anzac but to its eternal place in the Australian soul."

In Iraq, not even sandstorms prevented Australian troops from observing the day.
Commander of Australian forces in southern Iraq, Lieutenant Colonel Roger Noble, said he felt a sense of history with the new mission effectively starting on Anzac Day.

"I think it's fantastic to get there for Anzac Day," Lt-Col Noble said.

The Australian military had historic links to the region with a number of Australian soldiers during World War I having operated across southern Iraq, he said.

[...]

Australian troops also remembered Anzac Day at Camp Victory in Baghdad.

About 200 troops and guests attended the dawn service despite the sandstorm and light rain.

Senior officers who laid wreaths at the service included multinational force commander US General George Casey, Australia's Middle East national commander Air Commodore Greg Evans, Lieutenant General David Hurley and British Major General Mark Mann.

Australian army chaplain Major Dave Hoskin officiated at the service, which included a moving audio-visual presentation to the song And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda.

Colonel Orhan Goktepe, commander of the Turkish contingent in Iraq, read Kamal Ataturk's tribute to the Anzacs and spoke of a mutual respect and friendship between Turkey and Australia.

Police posted as part of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) joined the Australian troops in the Solomon Islands to mark the day and special tribute was paid during the service to the two Australians who have died there, Australian Federal Police officer Adam Dunning and army Private Jamie Clark.

In Sydney, 250,000 people lined the streets to cheer participants in the Anzac Day march.
In Brisbane, 15,000 cheered the march and many held signs that said "Thank you."
In Adelaide, Bill Denny, chair of the RSL Anzac Day committee said "We must never glorify war on Anzac Day. .." Five Turkish veterans had travelled from Turkey and participated in the ceremonies.
There were up to 30,000 in Victoria, where

The parade featured a large contingent of children and grandchildren of war veterans proudly wearing war medals on their chests and carrying black-and-white photos of their relatives as they marched towards the Shrine of Remembrance.
In Perth, a 107 year-old veteran led the parade
WEAKENED by recent illness and hunched low in his seat, Australia's oldest World War I veteran Peter Casserly led the Anzac Day parade through Perth, attracting heartfelt cheers from the thousands who lined the streets.
Tim Blair writes:
Australia is a young nation, and so finds it easy to place itself on the right side of history. We are not swung off course by the historical ballast carried by older countries; we fight the right wars, for the right causes. Australian servicemen and women have prevailed in many heroic conflicts. Yet Australia’s national day of remembrance for our fallen is tied to a battle ninety years ago that we lost, catastrophically. ...

Anzac Day is less to do with loss or victory than it is to do with struggle and defiance, even when facing certain defeat. But Anzac Day also serves to remind us of Australian triumphs ...

Read the post and by all means follow the links.

Some other great reads:

Ozguru's excellent post on Anzac Day,

James Ozark and his daughter mourn the loss of her great-great grandfather in that war.

Bastards Inc. writes what ANZAC Day means to them:

It is claimed that Australia lost her innocence on the shores of Gallipoli. I would counter that rather than losing anything, Australia gained a reputation.

Just 170 men out of the Australian 4th Brigade that landed ashore on the 24/25 April 1915 made it off 8 months later. Out of over 4000 men, 170 left.

The death toll at Gallipoli was horrific:
While paying tribute to the 8709 Australians who died at Gallipoli, and the 50,000-60,000 who served on the peninsula, Mr Howard also remembered the 2701 New Zealanders, 21,000 British, 15,000 French, 1358 Indian, 49 Newfoundlanders and 86,000 Turks who died in the campaign.
As an American, I feel honoured to mark this day and to express my gratitude for the enduring fraternity between two of Mother England's more rambunctious kids.

I also dropped by Kathy's site, knowing that she too would remember to thank our valiant ally today. Well done!

Posted by Debbye at 08:42 AM | Comments (8)

April 24, 2005

David Brooks on Mother Nature

Apr. 24 - Seems everyone has an opinion about the latest study which concluded that slightly overweight people live longer, and David Brooks weighs in happily, opining that Living Longer Is the Best Revenge:

Mother Nature, we now know, is a saucy wench, who likes to play cosmic tricks on humanity. If the report from researchers at the National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is correct - and it is the most thorough done to date - then it seems that Mother Nature has built a little Laffer curve into the fabric of reality: health-conscious people can hit a point of negative returns, so the more fit they are, the quicker they kick the bucket. People who work out, eat responsibly and deserve to live are more likely to be culled by the Thin Reaper.

I can't tell you how happy this makes me. Since I read about this report a few days ago, I haven't been able to stop grinning.

I've been happy because as a member of the community of low-center-of-gravity Americans, I find that a lifetime of irresponsible behavior has been unjustly rewarded. If this study is correct, I'll be ordering second helpings on into my 90's while all those salad-munching health nuts who have been feeling so superior in their spandex pants and cutoff T-shirts will be dying of midriff pneumonia and other condescension-related diseases.

Posted by Debbye at 08:35 AM | Comments (0)

Principles. Get used to them.

Apr. 24 - Oil-for-food man quit on principle:

One of two investigators who resigned earlier this week from the commission probing fraud at the United Nations' oil-for-food program released a statement Saturday in which he disputed a report that he did so because his work was finished.

Instead, Robert Parton said in the statement, he resigned "on principle."

[...]

Parton and Miranda Duncan resigned from the panel headed by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker on Wednesday.

In an interview with CNN, a member of the Volcker panel, Richard Goldstone, discounted a media report that the two resigned to protest conclusions the panel had reached about U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

He said Parton and Duncan had completed their work and were already set to leave.

"Contrary to recent published reports, I resigned by position as senior investigative counsel for the IIC not because my work was complete, but on principle," Parton said in the statement. He declined further comment.

I've often heard the complaint that we Americans communicate as much by what we don't say as much as by what we do. This is certainly a case in point, as Parton surfaced long enough to dispute the "completed their work" explanation but "declined further comment" (at least to CNN.)

The question is: What specifically led them to decide that their principles would no longer allow them to be part of that Inquiry?

Maybe I'll hop over and ask Roger Simon. Bingo - not just one but two links! The goods are in the second:

Last night, in the most explicit criticism so far directed at the report, Robert Parton, one of the senior investigators, told a lawyer involved with the Volcker inquiry that he thought the committee was "engaging in a de facto cover-up, acting with good intentions but steered by ideology".
They meant well! See here.
The lawyer, Adrian Gonzalez, told The Sunday Telegraph that he believed the committee, headed by Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, was determined to protect the secretary-general.

According to Mr Gonzalez, Mr Parton felt that the committee had effectively divided the body of evidence relating to the oil-for-food scandal into testimony that it did want to hear, and testimony that it did not.

While the "field teams" led by Mr Parton and Miranda Duncan, who has also stepped down, were coming to one conclusion, he said, committee members appeared to want to draw a different conclusion to protect senior UN officials.

Roger has more, including a clarification from Gonzalez that the phrase "de facto coverup" was his, not Parton's.

De facto or not, it isn't the crime that will bury them but the cover-up, and the revelations about Maurice Strong came uncomfortably close to the resignations of the two members of the inquiry, Adscam, and Martin's connection to his mentor Strong. Throw in Volcker's connection with Power Corp and thus to Total Oil, surmises that inquiry member Reid Morden tried to cover up the name of U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette, his protege, to shield her from criticism for blocking the submission of reports on the Oil-for-Food program to the UNSC and Kojo Annan's failure to report his continuing financial ties to Cotecna and ... I know I've forgotten something ... what-farking-ever, the Volcker Inquiry has zero credibility now, especially with the Iraqi people, who have to pay for their investigations and Benon Sevan's defence.

Fox News has a short item on the resignations and the recent State Dept. appraisal of Annan's fatuous claim to have been exonated here.

Funny, Richard Goldstone's lies attempt to spin the resignations of Robert Parton and Miranda Duncan backfired and brought the reasons for the resignations more out into the open. Now Americans have two U.N. cover-ups to contemplate and I expect constitutents will fire off letters to their representatives in Congress demanding that the bums be thrown out and all funding for the U.N. cease.

We hate cover-uppers and liars. That's why Oliver North is widely respected and the name Richard Nixon is synonymous with sleazeball.

Posted by Debbye at 06:28 AM | Comments (4)

April 23, 2005

To the polls! (C'mon, you know you want to.)

Apr. 23 - The impact of Adscam is finally returning to the one arena that most needs to be challenged: the Ontario voter. I say "returning" because when Ontarians went to the polls last year far too many of them surrendered to the devil they knew and returned the Liberal Party to power - albeit limited as other Canadians were less willing to consort with that devil.

There's no getting around it: Quebeckers punished the Liberal Party. Albertans punished the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party leads a minority government because some Ontarians punished the Liberal Party but those in greater Toronto area did not - and the mayor of Toronto is setting the stage for us to be bribed - again:

"It would be very serious," he told reporters Saturday. "It would cost us, directly, $40 to $50 million this year. That's equivalent to about a four per cent tax hike. And indirectly, tens of millions more."

The impact would only get worse in succeeding years, he said.

Miller is worried about his city's share of federal gas tax revenue promised by the Liberal government of Prime Minister Paul Martin.

The Toronto Star newspaper published an editorial Saturday opposing an early election. The newspaper said if the Martin government were defeated without the budget being passed, it would cost Canada's cities $600 million in lost gas tax revenue.

We've all read the accusations that Quebec holds Canada for ransom and that rivers of federal money flow into Quebec, but Quebeckers refused to be bribed in the last federal election. I wish I could say the same for Ontario.

Kateland recognizes the tip of an iceberg when she sees it:

Adscam only represents one Liberal run government program. If this is how the Liberals ran the sponsorship program in Quebec; what’s to say that all the other liberal government programs in Quebec and the rest of the country are not run the same way? Think GUN REGISTRY or STRIPPERGATE for starters. Adscam is only where they got caught holding the smoking gun - not evidence of innocence.
Let's take it even further. If Benoit Corbeil's statements are true, the Liberal Party systematically set out to destroy the Progressive Conservative Party in Quebec and see to it that the Liberal Party and Canada became synonymous. What's to say they didn't also try to subvert the democratic process in other provinces?

Joe Clark, the last leader of the federal Progressive Conservative Party, actually endorsed Paul Martin and the Liberal Party over Stephen Harper and the newly merged Conservative Party of Canada one year ago. Greg Weston wrote a column last May in which he accused some very senior Tories of making a secret deal with the Liberal Party in the 2000 election to secure Clark's re-election in return for securing Alberta Liberal Anne McLellan's re-election - and then some:

Two weeks before Jean Chretien called the country to the polls in October 2000, reliable sources say, a small group of top Tory officials cut a secret deal to help Chretien's ultimately successful national campaign for a third majority government.

In return, the Liberals agreed to throw the vote in the Calgary Centre riding of then Tory leader Joe Clark.

In what may have been a series of similar deals, sources say the Tories also agreed to "stand down" to help Liberal Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan hang on to her Edmonton seat, which she won by only 733 votes.

Sources refuse to divulge details of what, exactly, the Tories agreed to do for the Liberals. One would say only that the deal "without question, helped them (the Liberals) nationally."

Another tool in the Liberal Party bag has been bribery of provincial governments by means of transfer payments to provinces - and that means they can also withhold transfer payments to punish provincial governments.

People should be outraged that the government give or withholds their money according to "correct voting," (it isn't that different from the kind of tactic that people like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe uses.) Nevertheless, the Liberal party was elected in Ontario with a general expectation that the federal Liberal party would loosen the purse-strings more readily for their provincial cousins than they had for the Progressive Conservative-led government and once the Liberals were installed, the federal government re-opened talks about extra money for Ontario - and nobody so much as blushed.

Kateland analyzed the reaction to Martin's pathetic speech April 22:

My conclusion was that the typical Ontarian will give him [Paul Martin] kudos and high marks for stating the obvious and delivering it with obvious sincerity. ..

Will that work? Canadians are neither naturally politicos or idealistic. We tend to take people at their word rather than judging them by their actions. I think the most common phrase in Canada is that “he means well.” That excuses all.

Here in Toronto, people desperately need that excuse so they can do the math from a high moral ground:

"he meant well"
+
"he'll give us money"
Toronto votes Liberal.

This should be easy, because it is for that monetary incentive that they voted Liberal last year. (Sheesh, sex workers have more brains than had the average Torontonian voter because they demand to be paid before rendering service.) The only question is how easily Torontonians can be fooled twice.

Martin's plea to let him "clean up the mess" sounds very reasonable unless you're alert like Laurent and remember a 1995 assertion from then Minister of Finance Paul Martin:

The problem is that Paul Martin has been claiming for the last 10 years that he was cleaning up. As soon as his 1995 budget speech, he claimed that he had introduced "a new and much tighter system to manage its spending" and that his first priority was to "eliminate waste and abuse and ensure value for Canadian taxpayers." We saw the results.
1995 was also the year of the referendum vote in Quebec and the the Liberal conspiracy to destroy the Progressive Conservative Party which was one of the goals for which the Sponsorship Program was designed. The question is inevitable: did Martin tighten the system or loosen it so that Adscam could proceed undetected for several years?

One of Benoit Corbeil's assertions was that lawyers worked for Liberal party candidates with the expectation of receiving appointments to the bench. (Kind of a neat Canadian twist on "will work for food," eh?) Damian Penny and Bob Tarantino write eloquently of their outrage so I won't cover the same ground here.

I seem to be the only person I've read that liked Duceppe's rebuttal last Thursday (and I'm disappointed that CTV didn't see fit to post the text to his speech yet included NDP Leader Jack Layton's) but my impression of Duceppe's remarks was that he appealed to Canadians to restore honesty to the Canadian government, and however cynical one might be about the Bloc Quebecois, there really isn't much we can say to urge Quebec to stay in Canada especially as voting Liberal would be to condone the dirty tactics they used in Quebec which gave a whole new meaning to the phrase "special relationship."

Maybe it's because I'm coming at this whole thing with an American anti-federalist (i.e., pro-States rights, pro-provincial rights) attitude. I can completely sympathize with the desires of both Quebeckers and Albertans to be free of a federal government that increasingly usurps power from provincial governments, takes the revenues of the provinces and then uses that same money to reward or punish according to how the electorate votes.

But this is the interesting part: I think that Ontario and Toronto will get a better deal from the Conservative Party than the Liberals can offer. The Liberals can be fairly confident that, as Toronto voters love platitudes and scare pretty easily, the election is in the bag for them so they can afford to make promises they don't intend to keep, but Conservative MPs would, if elected, have to go extra lengths to meet their promises in order to be re-elected and retain power.

Ah, power. It really is all about power, but there seems to be a perverse disinclination in Canada to examine the pursuit of power. Maybe that's why "he meant well" has such traction and why people seem actually surprised that the Liberal party is as corrupt as it is, and maybe that's why Torontonians, under the veneer of their sophistication, are stupid voters.

The Liberal Party has ruled Canada with unchallenged arrogance for 12 years -- how could anyone realistically expect them not to be corrupt? It defies logic, psychology and history. Mark Steyn puts it succinctly:

In a one-party state, the one party in power attracts not those interested in the party, but those interested in power.
In an age when there is so much talk about empowerment it seems beyond strange that more people don't understand power - personal or political.

It looks as though the Conservative Party is putting together a slate (Conservatives line up high-profile candidates) and, if you can believe anything Layton says, he isn't selling out to the Liberal Party but is willing to go with the proposed Liberal budget if they meet his demands to, er, fight smog (and, socialist to the end, drop plans for a tax rebate cut for businesses.)

Although I don't know if Toronto will vote Liberal or Conservative (or Green, NDP or even Rhinosaurus) I do think it urgently necessary that an election be held now rather than later. Those who vote to oust the Liberals will at least have the knowledge that they personally did not give tacit approval to corruption.

Fighting isn't only about winning, but about reclaiming honour, self-respect and human dignity. People who give into outrage without a fight lose more than those who lose a fight: damage to the spirit lasts longer than bruises and, knowing they wimped out, it gets harder to fight back as each subsequent outrage piles higher like stones on a burial cairn.

(Globe and Mail and Reuters links via Neale News.)

Apr. 24 - 07:56: Criminey, even CNN has noticed that the Liberals are desperate to forge a deal with the NDP and that Bono is disappointed in Martin.

18:12 - I should have read Sari before I posted; she articulates what I felt about Duceppe:

Duceppe had me wishing - not for the first time - that he wasn't on the wrong side, because as usual he stole the show with a fantastic opening line to his speech, something to the effect of "the last time a prime minister addressed the nation, it was 1995 and Chretien was fighting to save Canada; this time, Martin's fighting to save the Liberals". He picked up votes for sure.
It is surprisingly possible that separatist sentiments in the West and Quebec will end up saving Canada by forcing the federal government to return those powers to the provinces which were originally apportioned to them in the Constutution - including health care - and restore the notion of local control over local concerns. Of course, that would mean less power concentrated in Ottawa ...

Apr. 25 - 11:00: RJ at Thoughtcrimes.ca has a key observervation about Duceppe:

Duceppe does not have to maneuver for position nationally as do Martin, Harper, and Layton, so that gives him a bit more room to step up and be statesmanlike. He talked about how the BQ are not supporters of federalism, but that the BQ had pledged to work within the system.

Key to both Harper and Duceppe's speeches was the distinction that the scandal allegations emerging from the Gomery Inquiry are Liberal scandals--not Quebec scandals. An important point that will continue to get much play from both BQ and CPC talking heads over the next few weeks.

The Meatriarchy may reflect the thoughts of many Canadians on Duceppe:
Duceppe - well I didn’t really listen to him. Although the bit I caught he sounded better than usual. If anyone is growing in stature through this thing it’s him.

Posted by Debbye at 11:56 PM | Comments (8)

April 22, 2005

Saddam, Martin and Strong

Apr. 22 - Adscam may be the least of Paul Martin's worries. Canada Free Press has uncovered damaging information that ties Martin, Maurice Strong, Tongsun Park, Saddam Hussein, and the U.N. Oil for Food project: Hussein invested one million dollars in Paul Martin-owned Cordex.

The Canadian company that Saddam Hussein invested a million dollars in belonged to the Prime Minister of Canada, canadafreepress.com has discovered.

Cordex Petroleum Inc., launched with Saddam’s million by Prime Minister Paul Martin’s mentor Maurice Strong’s son Fred Strong, is listed among Martin’s assets to the Federal Ethics committee on November 4, 2003.

Among Martin’s Public Declaration of Declarable Assets are: "The Canada Steamship Lines Group Inc. (Montreal, Canada) 100 percent owned"; "Canada Steamship Lines Inc. (Montreal, Canada) 100 percent owned"–Cordex Petroleums Inc. (Alberta, Canada) 4.6 percent owned by the CSL Group Inc."

Yesterday, Strong admitted that Tongsun Park, the Korean man accused by U.S. federal authorities of illegally acting as an Iraqi agent, invested in Cordex, the company he owned with his son, in 1997.

In that admission, Strong describes Cordex as a Denver-based company. Cordex Petroleum Inc. is listed among Martin’s assets as an Alberta-based company.Read the whole thing.

Posted by Debbye at 09:26 PM | Comments (2)

April 21, 2005

Penciled in for August. Check.

Apr. 21 - We are taking time out from our regularly scheduled coverage of Liberal Party Corruption to relay an urgent message to France from the axis of countries that don't suck.

Posted by Debbye at 08:35 PM | Comments (13)

Harper and Duceppe rocked!

Apr. 21 - Prime Minister Paul Martin gave his speech and begged for time to let the Gomery Inquiry finish it's task. He pledged to call an election Election 30 days after final Gomery report.

In short, he gave the Canadian equivalent of a Checkers speech.

Opposition Leaders Stephen Harper and Giles Duceppe responded with well-targeted, rapid-fire rebuttals of Martin's points. They both hammered home the point that it's not the country that is in crisis but the Liberal Party.

NDP Leader gave a foolish speech in which he made promises that would amount to raising taxes.

There are video links to the right of the CTV article.

More later, other people in this household want equal (ha!) time on the computer. I should toss 'em a second or two ...

Posted by Debbye at 07:47 PM | Comments (2)

The military in Canada

Apr. 21 - Damian Brooks has two impressive series of posts on the report from the Canadian Defence Committee and one on the purchase of submarines and the death of a Canadian sailor:

Big week

Defence review: first blush

The submarine purchase fiasco.

Good, solid reads.

Posted by Debbye at 06:38 PM | Comments (8)

Maurice Strong steps down

Apr. 21 - I woke up and turned on CPAC about half-way through Question Period (and a fine Question Period it was!) and nearly fell over when a member of the Opposition stated that Maurice Strong had stepped down from his UN post and went on to ask questions about the Canadian involvement in the U.N. Oil-for-food program.

I believe this is the first time that particular scandal has been addressed in the House of Commons.

The article is accompanied by no links to the ongoing investigations into the U.N. Oil-for-food program but does link to a glowing in-depth profile of the United Nations.

Yesterday, two investigators, Robert Parton and Miranda Duncan, resigned from the Volcker inquiry which is looking into the U.N. Oil-for-Food program Saying Probe Too Soft on Annan. Neither investigator was available for comment.

Back to Strong (see here and here for background to the story behind this story):

UNITED NATIONS - Maurice Strong, a long-time Canadian businessman and currently the top UN envoy for North Korea, will suspend his work for the United Nations while investigators look into his ties to a South Korean businessman accused in the UN oil-for-food scandal in Iraq.

Strong denies any involvement with the tainted program and has pledged to co-operate with investigators.

His ties to Tongsun Park are raising concerns about a possible conflict of interest in respect of his role as envoy to North Korea. (Emphasis added.)

Park is accused of accepting millions from the Iraqi government while being suspected of operating as an unregistered agent for Baghdad, lobbying for oil-for-food contracts.

Of course he'll cooperate! Mass shredder Iqbal Riza did such a thorough job destroying documents that could possibly have ruined both Annan and Strong.

Nice try by the CBC to imply the issue is a the propriety of being an envoy to N. Korea while maintaining business relations with a corrupt S. Korean ...

After Corbeil's revelations, the CBC needs to be scrutinized. After all, one of the first rules of warfare is to seize control of communications and news media, and the CBC is a federally funded body. I doubt it's an accident that they subtly altered this news items.

Posted by Debbye at 04:53 PM | Comments (4)

Martin boosted Boulay's contract

Apr. 21 - It's hard not to wonder if Paul Martin had his own, personal corruption ring that was not attached to the Sponsorship Program. First there were some surprising revelations about Martin's knowledge of improprieties in granting contracts to Earnscliffe and now it appears he helped other friends and political allies: Contract boost by Paul Martin earned $75,000 for his friend, say documents:

MONTREAL (CP) - Prime Minister Paul Martin approved a contract amendment when he was finance minister that landed an ad man friend $75,000 for doing little work, say documents at the sponsorship inquiry.

Memos from January 1996 indicate Martin approved the boost in additional funding for a Canada Savings Bond direct mail campaign. The file, unrelated to the sponsorship program, was co-managed by Montreal firm Groupe Everest, headed by Claude Boulay, and resulted in the $75,000 commission.

Finance official J.P. Labrosse said in a January 2, 1996, memo that the contract amendment involving Everest was "approved by the minister (Martin) on December 21, 1995." The contract was boosted to $2.6 million from $1.7 million.

Documents show Boulay's ad firm was paid a 17.56 per cent commission for the campaign even though the bulk of the work was done by another agency, Pinnacle Advertising.

It wasn't clear whether Martin knew the funding increase put money in Boulay's pocket.

There was some discussion about dividends paid out to Boulay during his testimony earlier (on Monday, I think.) I suspect Martin is familiar with that routine practice.
Boulay, who continued his testimony at the inquiry on Thursday, had worked on Martin's 1990 leadership bid as well as his 1988 and 1993 election campaigns.

The funding approval went ahead over the objections of Public Works official Allan Cutler, who later blew the lid off of the sponsorship scandal.

Cutler said in a memo to a finance official that Groupe Everest's involvement in the contract was minimal or nil.

"Groupe Everest will presumably obtain a commission on the sub-contract without having done any work," said the memo dated January 26, 1996.

Cutler also noted the funding increase had been approved even though all of the mailing and distribution work related to the contract had already been completed.

Is Claude Boulay trying to finesse his comments in a style akin to Corriveau? Note the following exchange:
Boulay testified Thursday that Cutler was in no position to know what work Everest performed on the campaign

"I don't know how he could make this comment," the ad executive said under questioning from inquiry counsel Marie Cossette.

"He wasn't there when we met with Pinnacle."

Cossette then asked: "So Mr. Cutler was mistaken when he wrote this memo?"

Boulay replied: "Listen. What I'm telling you is that he wasn't there. He can make a comment, but he wasn't there during our meeting with Pinnacle."

But the question was if Cutler was mistaken, and one has to infer that, as Boulay won't answer, Cutler was not.

Alternate link here.

Note this change: Prime Minister Martin will be addressing the nation (earlier than first scheduled) at 7 p.m. tonight.

Posted by Debbye at 04:43 PM | Comments (0)

Corbeil confirms Brault's tesitmony, letters refute Chretien's

Apr. 21 - Jean Brault's shocking testimony about the manipulation of the Sponsorship Program to funnel money illegally to the Liberal Party in Quebec has been corroborated in an interview with Benoit Corbeil, who is the first Liberal insider to admit to the money laundering scheme.

From the Globe and Mail, Insider backs Brault story:

Benoît Corbeil, the former director-general of the Liberal Party's office in Montreal, said in an interview that he received approval from some of his superiors for the cash transactions that were part of a regular flouting of electoral law.

At the time, Mr. Corbeil was at the top of the party's organization in Quebec, working under the direct supervision of then-minister Alfonso Gagliano.

Gagliano was the man to see for contracts, and had claimed earlier while protesting his innocence that he was being victimized on account of his Italian ancestry.
“I took the bills [from Mr. Brault] and with that, I paid people, without declaring it [to Elections Canada],” Mr. Corbeil said, refusing to state exactly how much money he received that day.

“I have to admit it, that's the way it happened,” he said.

[...]

Mr. Corbeil said most of the recipients of cash payments were Liberal supporters who took unpaid leaves from their positions in ministerial offices to work on the general election.

“I liked to call them fake volunteers,” he said.

The interview M. Corbeil gave was in anticipation of his appearance before the Gomery Inquiry in May at which he intends to make clear the total control exerted over him by the Prime Minister's Office under Chretien and "the Liberal hierarchy in Quebec."

According to M. Corbeil, in 2000 Groupaction paid five "fake volunteers" by cheque through Commando Marketing, a Quebec City company owned by an employee of Groupaction, and Groupaction contributed $100,000 after Mr. Corbeil made an urgent plea for funds to a senior official in Ottawa who he declined to name. He said he relayed information about the transactions to "many of his superiors" and that his actions were approved. He also told members of the electoral commission.

Although Mr. Corbeil would not name names in the interview, he indicated he would do so under oath when he appears before the Inquiry.

“Many of them came and told me they wanted to get paid right away,” he said.

Mr. Corbeil said the people who received the cash payments were part of a larger group of party supporters who worked at the Liberal Party's headquarters in Montreal during the election campaign. He said most of that larger group were lawyers, engineers or accountants from major firms, which he said hoped to reap federal contracts after the election.

“They don't want to get paid right away, they want to get paid later,” he said, noting that many of the lawyers have since been named to the bench. (Emphasis added)

Mr. Corbeil said that in that context, the Liberals did not fully reveal the full cost associated with their campaign as required under Canadian law.

“We accounted for the provision of goods, but we didn't account for the majority of the services,” he said.

Mr. Corbeil went on to explain how the rationalization for the Sponsorship Program led so quickly to graft: it seems the Liberal Party adopted a war mentality about the separatists:
He said that after the [1995] referendum, two goals were approved by the highest authorities in the Liberal Party: Annihilate the Conservative Party in Quebec to unite all of the federalists in Quebec under the Liberal banner, and ensure that the Liberal Party became synonymous with Canada in the province of Quebec. (Emphasis added.)
They succeeded in the first part. The Progressive Conservtive Party was destroyed and the federal Liberal Party is despised for being so corrupt, which is why the Bloc won so many seats in the last federal election and why they will sweep the next one. As for the Liberal Party of Quebec, they are currently the party in power there but, if I may use an American saying, a member of that party probably couldn't get elected as dog catcher in the next election. My guess is that the Parti Quebecois will sweep the next elections, although the ADQ may win some seats.

But am I missing something? The 1995 referendum, like the one before, was defeated. Why would the Liberal Party decide to characterize it as a war and begin to fight it after it was defeated?

Maybe I'm just too cynical, but this explanation lacks credibility. It is entirely too self-serving, and I'd guess that they are using the unity card to conceal their true agenda: total and unlimited power by any means necessary.

Mr. Corbeil said the strategy was developed by the PMO and the Liberal establishment in Quebec, and that Mr. Corbeil's group only provided the foot soldiers.

Mr. Corbeil said that as the director-general of the party in Quebec, his biggest challenge was raising funds.

He said the Quebec wing of the party was in a constant rivalry with the national organization, which got the first crack at the biggest donors in Quebec.

He said the Quebec wing always wound up with the crumbs, and that it could never find a permanent solution to its funding woes.

“Maybe if more people had listened to us and paid more attention, maybe we could have avoided some problems down the road,” he said.

Er, right.

18:21 This indicates that the interview was on CBC (French) Radio.

Letters have revealed that Jacques Corriveau made Sponsorship pitches directly to Chretien and that Chretien replied - again in writing - that he would pass the request along.

But the request indicates Corriveau finessed his response when he testified last week that he never discussed sponsorship deals with Chretien.

The exchange of letters also raises questions about Chretien's testimony in February during which he said he never talked sponsorship with Corriveau and didn't know he was getting government business.

Corriveau provided a similar response at the inquiry last Thursday before he was even asked about it, saying "There was not, I can assure you, any request for any file that interests the commission."

Pressed further by inquiry counsel Bernard Roy about any possible sponsorship talk with Chretien, Corriveau replied, "It's certain. No."

But in his letter to Chretien, dated August 26, 2002, Corriveau said he was prepared to meet him to discuss an injection of cash into the 2003 show.

The letter contained a laundry list of items for the prime minister to consider, including:

$3.5 million in sponsorship funding for the event:
$2.6 million from other government departments:
$500,000 for similar botanical events in three African countries and for First Nations communities.
Lodging for 250 gardeners at a military base south of Montreal.

Chretien replied in writing just over two months later, saying he would send the request to colleagues including Sheila Copps, then heritage minister, as well as John McCallum, the defence minister at the time.

I need to sleep on this (and I want to see Martin's televised address tonight.) The time on the Globe article is Thursday, Apr. 21, 5:19 a.m., so Claude Boulay would not have heard about any of this during his testimony yesterday during which he admitted receiving a $3.5 million contract after lobbying Gagliano.

(Alternate link here.)

(Globe and Mail link from Damian.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:49 AM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2005

Things that keep me awake

Apr. 20 - Over 60 Bodies Found in Iraq.

Story developing.

To think I once fancied myself a pacifist.

20:30: It's bad. Over 50 bodies have been pulled from the Tigris and another 19, believed to be soldiers on leave, were found executed in a stadium in Haditha.

Murdoc has much more.

Posted by Debbye at 11:14 AM | Comments (7)

Blogging Tories challenge

Apr. 20 - Sometimes somebody gets a really great notion, and even though I'm kind of out of this fight I'm also in it because I believe that the system of consensual government works best when there's a viable Opposition (and besides, I'm tired of being ripped off. Aren't you?)

All things Canadian has issued a fundraising challenge to the Blogging Tories. I'm not one [either a blogging Tory or a Tory as I'm not a citizen] so I'm encouraging Canadians who want to force some accountability onto government to go here if you've finally decided that voting for "the devil you know" is a dumb reason to vote for the kind of government you don't want.

Posted by Debbye at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)

Oklahoma City

Apr. 20 - I couldn't post anything coherent about the tenth anniversary of the Murrah Building yesterday.

This image is permanently engraved on my memory. What could I or anyone say to make it better?

I didn't post anything about the events in Waco 12 years ago either. There isn't a heart-wrenching photo, but the 21 dead children also had lives that should never have ended so abruptly.

Someone once characterized the attack on Waco as the Clinton administration's response to the first bombing of the World Trade Centre. That seems about right.

If God is merciful he'll eventually help me forgive Janet Reno and Timothy McVeigh. Please.

10:51 I missed another very important anniversary yesterday - the 63rd of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Thanks to Kateland and her Remembrance of those who did not go gently into that good night - a timely reminder that sometimes fighting back is an end unto itself and that even when we go into dubious battle it must - no, it does - suffice.

That post is a must read. Let the photos tell the story.

The bombing of the Murrah Building and the Waco attacks mean something to us because they happened within our living memories, but the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising is more important because we urgently need to remember why "Never Again" matters - we already have the genocides of Rwanda and Sudan in our living memory yet turn away too hastily and risk the repitition of of watching more genocides and why? because we are faint-hearted. Because we rely on others to make the hard calls, and when those others are the U.N., we have an easy out but that damned conscience thing ... it never heard of international law either.

We have forgotten so much these past decades. Never again.

Posted by Debbye at 09:41 AM | Comments (1)

Adscam catch-up

Apr. 20 - Sorry about the length of the following posts. After years of having not much to post it's a damned avalanche and I'm still playing catch-up on Adscam on my half-a-weekend ... by the way, watching the testimony has been made the easier due to the fluid delivery of the interpreter.

I need to get some sleep, so I'll just post the relevant links and try to counteract all the coffee I drank last night.

April 18 testimony at the Gomery Inquiry: Chretien ally may have lied to press (Corriveau's testimony.)

Letter ties Martin to sponsorship figure: Tories which is a smoking gun if you actually believe Martin is a sincere kind of guy -- I assumed someone in his office wrote it and Martin just scribbled the obligatory "personal" comment, but Kate sees more and she has often been right.

Somebody is unhappy about their cut from Adscam. What to do? Sue!

Boulay denies discussing sponsorship program with Martin ... well, he would say that, wouldn't he. (Longer living link here.)

Opposition Day cancelled by the Liberal minority government. It made Question Period even more uproarious than usual. The Opposition fights back - or allows itself to be provoked prematurely, depending on your point of view.

Posted by Debbye at 03:25 AM | Comments (0)

Maurice Strong under OFF probe scrutiny

Apr. 19 - Is Maurice Strong the anonymous Canadian U.N. official No. 2 cited in reports about the arrest of David Bay Chalmers Jr? Sure looks like it ...

Oil-For-Food Probe Targets UN Aide Maurice Strong:

Strong, a special adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on North Korea and one of Canada's most influential entrepreneurs, acknowledged on Monday that he had ties to South Korean Tongsun Park, who is suspected of bribing U.N. officials in the oil-for-food scandal.

Park, a central figure in an influence-peddling scandal in Washington in the 1970s, was charged by federal prosecutors in New York last week with being an unregistered agent for the Iraqi government before Saddam Hussein's ouster in 2003.

The Independent Inquiry Committee into the oil-for-food program, led by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, has now opened an investigation into Strong, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.

Maurice Strong is also a former president of Power Corp, as shown by Kevin Steel's all-purpose handy-dandy chart.
In 1997 or 1998, Park arranged a meeting in a Manhattan restaurant with a high-ranking U.N. official, who was not identified. Park later told an informant he had spent $5 million to "fund business dealings" with the official, a U.S. criminal complaint said.

Park, according to the informant, invested about $1 million in an unnamed Canadian company set up by the son of the U.N. official. The money was later lost when the company failed.

And the other $4,000,000.00? Oh, sorry. That was impolite.
Strong, 76, acknowledged in a written statement that Park in 1997 had invested "on a normal commercial basis" in an energy company with which he was associated that had no links to Iraq.
Well, that isn't Power Corp. Remember, it was All About The Oil.
Strong's son Frederick Strong is a Canadian businessman who has worked in the energy industry. He could not immediately be reached for comment but the federal complaint did not mention Strong or anyone from his family.

Maurice Strong has been active in the oil industry and has also worked for the United Nations for decades in various jobs including several senior posts. He had an office down the hall from Annan for about a year in 1997 when he served as the secretary-general's special envoy for U.N. reform.

He also briefly was a member of the board of Air Harbour Technologies Ltd. along with Annan's son Kojo Annan, whom the Volcker panel is also investigating for possible conflicts of interest in the award of a multimillion-dollar oil-for-food contract to Cotecna, a Swiss company that employed him.

Air Harbour Technologies, based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is chaired by Hani Yamani, the son of former Saudi oil minister Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani.

Strong, in a written statement on Monday, said he has continued to maintain a relationship with Park, who he said advised him on "North Korean issues in my role as U.N. envoy."

Maybe he means when Maurice Strong reported that U.S.-North Korean relations could be eased by a treaty because we all just needed to communicate.
The United Nations was looking into whether it was appropriate for Strong to continue working for Annan during the investigation, spokesman Dujarric said.

Annan, however, would not be drawn into the controversy.

I'm sorry, but I find that sentence extremely funny. "Drawn" into controversy? He is already neck-deep in controversy! Is he catatonic? on drugs? Does he have a grasp on what has happened on his watch? Maybe not; he kind of missed that whole Rwanda thing, you know, and the Sudan thing is beyond his comprehension. Or he could just be incredibly brazen.

Dear oh dear, what shall we do with Annan? (raises hand) Cut of his .... funding?

"Maurice Strong has issued a statement and is also in touch with the Volcker Commission and has indicated he will cooperate with anyone who is looking into this," Annan said."
And why not? The shredders did their job.

According to this, Annan didn't know that Strong and Tongsun Park had a business relationship and U.N. officials say that Park and former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali were close.

Time to go hmmm (I'm kidding - it's way, way past time to content ourselves with going hmmm. It's rapidly getting to be time to grab those pitchforks and torches, though.) First Louise Frechette, then Reid Morden, and now Strong ... the Canadian bureaucrats at the U.N. are implicated in the Oil for Food scandal as deeply as their federal Liberal friends are in Adscam. Anyone see a pattern yet?

In seemingly unrelated news, Canada is revamping their foreign policy and forging stronger ties with its North American neighbours. I hope they mean the North Pole, because the revelations in the inquiry of the Oil-for-Food scandal have rendered Canada's profile as being, um, less than trustworthy with sensitive American security issues.

Oh, why mince words? They're the farking enemy! (I trust you know what Canadian "they" I'm referring to. Fourth member of the Axis of Weasels, right? Nothing must stand in the way of access to Iran's oil fields (scroll down.) They never met an enemy of the U.S. they didn't cozy up to. That them.)

True to form, the premiers of Ontario and Quebec are raising their fears over border plans, and just to clarify, they are referring to this one. That's right, the premiers of the two provinces that hate America most are upset that their residents can't enter a country they vehemently despise without a passport. (A curious person might wonder why on earth they'd want to visit such a horrible, dreadful, unenlightened country, but I don't. The Canadians who scream the most about being subverted by mysterious forces who envision Canada as the 51st state behave as they they have the same rights as the Phantom 51st State. Normal Canadians, I'm glad to report, are happy to be Canadian and just want to make this country better. Of course, they are also sane.)

It will be duck-and-cover time when the two aforementioned provincial premiers learn about this plan -- they are really going to be pissed off, but it will take awhile because they never pay attention to anything that is written in the West.

Posted by Debbye at 03:09 AM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2005

Kinsella outs Martin in Earnscliffe-gate

Apr. 19 - Americans might wonder why the Liberal Party has been dubbed "The Libranos." In part it's due to allegations of mob involvement, but what makes the nickname so appealing is that they act like mobsters. The cliche "a falling out among thieves" also comes to mind as Chretien's guy tries to prove that Martin and his guys are also dirty.

The problem is clearly a symptom of the decayed education system: none of these people ever studied Greek or Shakespearean tragedies -- had they done so they would have known they were riding for a fall.

The hearings on Earnscliffe contracts awarded by the Finance Department outlined here have already produced fireworks. There were early warnings to Martin's chief-of-staff that the bidding process for polling contracts was flawed:

A letter from Warren Kinsella to Terrie O'Leary, made public at a Commons committee Monday, warned of flawed competitions for public-opinion polling contracts, excessive payments, unnecessary work and political interference.

But O'Leary and another former top Martin aide testified that they did nothing wrong.

"Terrie, all of this spells trouble and you know it," Kinsella wrote in his letter.

"The competition was flawed, the payment is excessive, the work is probably not needed, and the research community can be fully expected to blow the whistle on the political connections here."

Kinsella was an aide to Public Works Minister David Dingwall at the time and was responsible for ensuring that government departments followed contracting rules. He was later a fierce supporter of Jean Chretien in the leadership dispute with Martin.

[...]

Allegations of political influence by Martin's office in the awarding of contracts were raised last year by Chuck Guite, the former bureaucrat who ran the federal sponsorship program at the Public Works Department. He claimed, in testimony to the public accounts committee, that he came under pressure in the 1990s to channel work to Earnscliffe.

Judge Gomery ruled that investigating the allegations about polling contracts did not fall under his mandate.

Further to Warren Kinsella's testimony, a more in-depth article today headlines that he proclaimed Martin knew about the 'rigged' contracts and that "someone" tried to intimidate him from telling the truth in his testimony. I'm excerpting out of order:

Paul Martin knew about claims of "bad behaviour" involving public-opinion contracts for a firm closely tied to his leadership campaign but threatened to quit his job as finance minister if his top advisor was disciplined, a former Liberal aide testified yesterday.

Warren Kinsella, a former advisor to Jean Chretien and a vehement political foe of Mr. Martin's, said the then-finance minister was aware of allegations that contracts in the mid-1990s had been "rigged" to favour the Earnscliffe Strategy Group.

"He absolutely had knowledge of these things," Mr. Kinsella told the House of Commons public accounts committee during hearings into a 2003 Auditor-General's report that looked at how the government handled contracts for polling and other public opinion research.

Mr. Kinsella said that, as then-aide to Public Works and Government Services minister Dave Dingwall, he wrote to Mr. Martin's office to express his concerns about money flowing from the Finance department to a firm so closely affiliated with Mr. Martin's leadership ambitions.

He called this "bad behaviour -- I considered it inappropriate that you cross-subsidize using the public treasury."

Mr. Kinsella's claims topped a dramatic session that saw him seated at the witness table next to two of the Prime Minister's most loyal advisors -- Terrie O'Leary and David Herle, her common-law spouse and a former partner in Earnscliffe -- and claim that he was intimidated in a phone call he received shortly before his testimony.

To be honest, Kinsella kind of loses me when he claims to have been intimidated, but I'd accept that someone tried to intimidate him.
He provided the name of the person who made the phone call in confidence to committee chairman John Williams, a Conservative MP. Mr. Williams said he considered the alleged call a form of intimidation and would refer it to a steering committee today to investigate. Mr. Williams refused to release the name when pressed by reporters.

Earlier at the session of the public accounts committee, Mr. Kinsella said that he raised flags about Department of Finance contracts for polling and other public-opinion research as early as 1994.

He also echoed claims made by previously by another witness, former public works bureaucrat Allan Cutler, who claimed the open bidding process for the Finance contracts were tailored so that only Earnscliffe could win them. He said he received complaints from several other polling firms about the contracts and felt obliged to investigate.

O'Leary denied the bidding process was flawed and said she had run the situation past an ethics counsellor (!) who said she was not in a conflict of interest - never recognizing that if you have to ask, it's a clue that either you are or, at the least, that you are giving the appearance of being in a conflict. It may not be fair, but there's a very good reason why intelligent people try to avoid even the appearance of being in a conflict of interest: it's an indefensible position to which one can only plead "Trust Me - I'm Honest."
Auditor-General Sheila Fraser began the hearing by reiterating her opinion that while public-opinion contracts were generally well-managed, there were some concerns about contracts in which the public-opinion advice was given to departments verbally, not in writing. But opposition members of the committee pressed Mr. Kinsella for details of what Mr. Martin knew about the contract awards.
Martin left messages and Kinsella didn't return the calls. Not much there.
By 1995, there was enough concern about Earnscliffe's contracts that they were the subject of a meeting in the Prime Minsiter's Office involving Mr. Chretien's chief of staff, Jean Pelletier, and his ethics advisor, former Liberal Cabinet minister Mitchell Sharp, he said.

The possibility of dismissing Ms. O'Leary over an alleged conflict of intrest was discussed, Mr. Kinsella said. "Mr. Martin said he would quit before that would ever happen," Mr. Kinsella recall learning in in a disappointing call from PMO. "I phoned my wife said it's time to leave Ottawa."

Mr. Kinsella injected a note of intrigue in the proceedings when he claimed he received an intimidating phone call minutes before the hearing that indicated Mr. Martin's office would pressure former public works Minister David Dingwall to appear before the committee to contradict his testimony.

By the way, Dingwall is now the head of the Canadian Mint (another patronage postion) which was previously under investigation as outlined in posts from 2004 here and here.

There's an item about Dingwall's tendency to porkbarrel here, a profile from a year ago after his appearance before the House of Commons public accounts committee on Adscam here, and an item about Dingwall, Martin, Kinsella and Chretien here.

Dingwall was the subject of a wonderful column by Lorne Guntner partially quoted here (canada.com links to opinion columns are sadly short-lived.)

The Wikipedia entry on Dingwall says he was appointed to the Canadian Mint in 2003 - I thought it was 2004, but then my memory sucks.

Aug. 20 - 03:33: Frank Schiller is reportedly the "mystery man" who advised Kinsella not to testify against Martin:

Parliament Hill sources named the man Tuesday as Frank Schiller, who once worked with Kinsella in the office of former public works minister David Dingwall. Schiller also put in a stint on the staff of former prime minister Jean Chretien and is currently a principal of the Ottawa consulting firm IGRG (Industry Government Relations Group).

Posted by Debbye at 10:50 PM | Comments (0)

NY Times on Canada

Apr. 19 - An article in the NY Times looks at the dithering in the House of Commons as the Liberals try to retain leadership (Canadian Leader Digs in to Confront Scandal) and makes some oblique observations that I'll take as substantiation of some views I've been forming. (As an aside, the author notes this time that the current PM was Minister of Finance during the Sponsorship Program.)

The article focuses on the difficulty of running Parliament as a minority government but suggests the ways in which the Liberal Party is trying to shape the focus of a possible election. Some excerpts:

Prime Minister Paul Martin is scrambling to keep power as the scandal involving his Liberal Party grows, making deals that delay or even jettison central elements of his political agenda, including a bill to legalize same-sex marriages and a measure to control greenhouse gases.

The campaign debate is already emerging in Parliament. The opposition is emphasizing the issue of honesty in government, while the Liberals are claiming that the Conservative leader, Stephen Harper, has allied with the separatist Bloc Québécois on a secret agenda to scrap the public health insurance system.

The proposal is to allow private health care. A term the writer avoids but which the Ontario provincial Liberals prefer is "Americanized health care" which in itself is an oddity because Quebec, which could never be called Americanized, already allows private clinics to operate alongside the public health care facilities. The interesting part is what the Liberals are not doing in Parliament:
With Mr. Martin's position deteriorating, action has been delayed on many of his campaign promises - including decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana, establishing a national child-care system and cracking down on child pornography.

The long-promised legislation to strengthen regulation of the online pharmacy industry, which provides many elderly Americans with cheaper drugs, has also been delayed because Liberal Party lawmakers in western Canada fear they could be punished politically by the 4,000 Canadians who work in the industry.

Earlier this month, a threat by Conservatives to vote against Mr. Martin's budget forced him to remove the financing for an environmental measure that would have fined industrial producers of greenhouse gases.

Since Canadian courts have already made same-sex marriage legal in provinces and territories where 90 percent of the population lives, the legislation is mostly symbolic. But the delay makes it clear that it will be a campaign issue. (Emphasis added)

I'm guessing that all the things the Liberal Party has scrapped will be campaign issues: dealing with Kyoto Accord committments, legalizing gay marriage, decriminalizing possession of marijuana, cracking down on child pornography, instituting national child care, fixing health care for another tenth-of-a-generation, and even the latest initiative to expedite bringing the parents and grandparents of immigrants to Canada (which will put an additional strain on the health care system, which is not an argument against the proposal so much as my wonder at the opportunism of the federal Liberals.)

The Liberal Party has not backed down on these legislative matters but has deferred them in order to have a platform on which to campaign - the same platform on which they campaigned in the last election:

1. Chretien was the crook, and we're cleaning up his mess, and
2. If you want these progressive laws, you will have to vote for us.

David Frum, in the op-ed section, offers an analysis of the Liberal Party citing the reasoning behind setting up the Sponsorship Program as an indicator that the the Liberal Party is a "brokerage" party (that sounds considerably more cynical than "big tent") which is more intent on securing power to distribute the spoils rather than a party held together by shared principles and policies.

And it was presumably for these same reasons that Mr. Chrétien set in motion his kickback scheme. As Liberal strength in Quebec has decayed, the Liberals have found it more and more difficult to hold together an effective political organization in the province. How do you sustain a political party without principles or vision? Sometimes you do it with graft.
Enter the Sponsorship Program, which created
a huge unmonitored slush fund from which key political figures in the province could be rewarded. A large portion of those rewards, the judicial inquiry in Montreal is being told, were then kicked back as campaign contributions to the Liberal Party and as payments to Liberal insiders.
Until its collapse as a federal party, I think it fair to say the Progressive Conservative Party was also a brokerage party and that part of the problem up here is because voters are bound to wonder if they are only exchanging one set of crooks for another.

It was the Supreme Court decision recognizing the Charter right of gays to marry that finally resulted in the merger of the Canadian Alliance with most of the remnants of the federal Progressive Conservatives*, and the continued opposition of the CPC to gay marriage - but not "civil union" which would guarantee the same rights and benefits of marriage - keeps many whom I would call South Park Republicans Conservatives from supporting the new party. The CPC has yet to present ideas for reforming the "dividing of the spoils" that accompanies gaining federal power, which I see as a fundamental flaw in their program.

Frum ends on a hopeful note:

As countries modernize, they tend to leave brokerage parties behind. Very belatedly, that moment of maturity may now be arriving in Canada. Americans may lose their illusions about my native country; Canadians will gain true multiparty democracy and accountability in government. It's an exchange that is long past due.
Canadians who complained in the past that Americans were ignorant about the goings-on up here forgot the main rule of journalism: When it bleeds, it leads. Canada's bleeding and now the media is interested.

* The provincial Progressive Conservative parties retained vitality and were even elected as the ruling party in Ontario after the demise of their federal cousins. The party here retains the Progressive Conservative name.

(South Park Conservatives link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:12 PM | Comments (0)

Another new Adscam site

Apr. 19 - Slick intro for another new Anti-corruption.ca.

(Via Nealenews.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:49 PM | Comments (0)

"Upper Midwestern?"

Apr. 19 - This is cool, but weird. I've lived in the West, the Mid-west and the South, but never in the "upper midwest" which I'd hazard is Illinois, Michigan, etc.



Your Linguistic Profile:



65% General American English

15% Yankee

10% Dixie

5% Midwestern

5% Upper Midwestern

What Kind of American English Do You Speak?

Link via Blown Fuse

Posted by Debbye at 09:32 PM | Comments (5)

April 18, 2005

George lets 'em have it

Apr. 18 - George Steinbrenner is not happy with the performance Yanks record. (Others, of course, are delighted.)

Orioles 8, Yankees 4: With Only 150 Games to Go, Steinbrenner Checks In:

The offense is batting .208 with runners in scoring position, including 4 for 21 over the weekend. The starters have not had a quality start (at least six innings and no more than three earned runs) in nine games. The bullpen has been abysmal, and the Yankees have given up at least seven runs in every loss.
It seems their dismal record has been a solid team effort.

The CNN poll on their home page asks if Steinbrenner over-reacted in criticizing "the highest-paid team in baseball." 85% had said "no last time I checked, which is the first time I can recall so many people siding with George S.

Manager Joe Torres must feel like hockey coach Harry Neale, who is reputed to have said "We can't win at home, we're terrible at home, and my failure as a coach is that I can't think of anywhere else we can play."

Since I'm on a sport topic, it is worth while to mention Lance Armstrong's decision to retire after the Tour de France in July.

I have to go to a meeting tonight and then to work. So long!

Posted by Debbye at 05:35 PM | Comments (4)

April 17, 2005

The iconic Ann Coulter

Apr. 17 - Time Canada on Ann Coulter. Good read thus far (I'm only on page 3.)

(Via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:55 PM | Comments (0)

Australian troops head for Iraq

Apr. 17 - PM Howard of Australia told the soldiers departing for Iraq "You go with our support, our prayers and our good wishes for a safe mission and a return home for all of you."

Members of the Al Muthanna Task Group have already begun departing for southern Iraq, with the navy's heavy-lift ship HMAS Tobruk setting sail from Darwin with 200 crew and 20 Australian light armoured vehicles with little fanfare yesterday.

The troops, mainly from Darwin's 1st Brigade, will be deployed by sea and air during the month.

Mr Howard, joined by Defence Minister Robert Hill, and Defence chief General Peter Cosgrove, attended a barbecue to formally farewell the bulk of the troops at Darwin's Robertson Barracks.

Thank you, Mr. Howard, for being a 100% ally.

Apr. 20 - 04:25: The DoD press release is here.

Posted by Debbye at 11:58 AM | Comments (30)

Volcano! (updated)

Apr. 17 - Mount Karthala is definitely cranky, causing Hundreds to flee as volcano belches smoke from the crater.

"The ground has started trembling and we have seen cracks appearing," a local official on the island of Grande Comore, near the scene of the volcanic activity, said.
Residents near the affected villages described a strange smell wafting from the volcano, followed by a steady drizzle of black rain on the Indian Ocean island.

"Villagers are in total darkness, gritty rain is falling and visibility is zero," a resident, who gave his name as Charif, said.

20:07 More here, global location of Comoros Islands here. The lava flow seems to be contained within the crater at present, but the bigger danger is from the poisonous fumes coming out of the volcano.

Posted by Debbye at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)

Earnscliffe-gate

Apr. 17 - The Earnscliffe Strategy Group obtained federal contracts during PM Paul Martin's tenure as Finance Minister. Former Martin aide Terrie O'Leary has been subpoenaed by the Commons public accounts committee looking into the relationship of the group, federal research contracts and the Finance Department. Her lawyer says its for "political" purposes:

A parliamentary committee examining federal research contracts is trying to "embarrass and humiliate" a former aide to Paul Martin for political purposes, says the woman's lawyer.

Andrew Davis, the counsel for Terrie O'Leary, levelled the accusation in an e-mail to the Commons public accounts committee, which wants to question O'Leary about opinion polling contracts that went to a firm with political ties to Martin.

[...]

O'Leary is one of four witnesses subpoenaed to appear next Monday at hearings that will centre on Earnscliffe Strategy Group and its relations with the Finance Department when Martin was minister there.

The subject has come up in passing at the federal sponsorship inquiry headed by Justice John Gomery, but the judge ruled the deals did not fall within his mandate.

That prompted Bloc Quebecois MP Benoit Sauvageau to propose that the public accounts committee take up the matter - a suggestion quickly adopted by other opposition MPs who command a 7-5 majority on the panel.

Another witness to be called to testify about the relationship of Earncliffe to the Finance Department when Martin was Finance Minister is David Herle, who was also a partner at Earnscliffe when the contracts were awarded and O'Leary's "longtime personal companion."
Herle, who co-chaired last year's Liberal election campaign, was a partner at Earnscliffe when the firm obtained contracts from the Finance Department during Martin's term there.

For much of the same period his longtime personal companion O'Leary was chief of staff to Martin. She has repeatedly said she was careful to avoid any involvement in contracts that went to Earnsclifffe.

The firm employed many political associates of Martin, and was often jokingly referred to at the time as the prime-minister's-office-in-waiting.

Warren Kinsella, a former cabinet aide, and Peter Daniel, a former Finance Department official, are also scheduled to appear. The former sent a letter objecting to the fact that he has not been given any detail as to the areas about which he is to be questioned. Mr. Kinsella supported former PM Chretien during his leadership struggle with Martin.

Two other witnesses will be Auditor-General Sheila Fraser and Public Works whistleblower Allan Cutler, a former Public Works official who was fired after he filed a complain in 1996 about the questionable handling of the Sponsorship Program.

Posted by Debbye at 09:34 AM | Comments (4)

Trying to fix the Canadian Forces

Apr. 17 - A report from the Conference of Defence Associations says that replacing the Hercules transport and other equipment is "years off" because the military lacks efficient procurement practices:

"At present, the department has inadequate numbers and expertise . . . to execute the existing capital acquisition plan," the association said in a report to the Commons defence committee.

"Existing approaches to military acquisitions and a dearth of project expertise lead to the troubling conclusion that transformation of the Canadian Forces . . . would not be possible before the year 2020."

The conclusions come as the all-party committee prepares to release a report on military procurement Monday. The panel is expected to say defence purchasing is weighed down in politics and inefficiency.

In another story, there have been allegations that questionable purchases have been made at Canadian Forces Base Borden near Barrie (CFB squander) and there are also allegations that since the issue was first raised in an anonymous letter last November, there have been systematic attempts to stifle the investigation and that "Many believe the NIS was only interested in determining who wrote the anonymous letter."

Similar to the revelations that followed the initial investigation into the Watergate break-in and the attempts to cover up the crime, many stories are now emerging which suggest other instances of wrong-doing. Some will prove out and others will not.

Posted by Debbye at 09:32 AM | Comments (4)

The money trail and recent Adscam testimony

Apr. 17 - Greg Weston reports that a "crack team of top forensic accountants" is Following the Adscam money trail to determine where the millions stolen from the Sponsorship Fund eventually landed:

... This is no ordinary group of number-crunchers.

Among its members are some of the key investigators who unraveled the massive and complex financial scandal at Enron Corporation, the giant American energy company that collapsed under billions of dollars of hidden debt and fraud. Sometime in the next few weeks, this squad of sleuthing bean-counters from the firm Kroll Lindquist & Avey will present the Gomery inquiry with the results of its Adscam investigation.

If successful, the accountants will answer the most contentious of all sponsorship questions: Who ended up with all the money?

So far, the Gomery commission has heard testimony that an elaborate web of kickbacks and fraudulent invoices siphoned millions of dollars from the federal sponsorship program into the coffers of Liberal Party operatives. What we don't know -- and the forensic super-snoops will likely tell us -- is what happened to all the loot after the Liberal bagmen got it.

There have been numerous debates about fixed terms and pre-set election days up here, but the fallout from Adscam shows the other side of that argument. If an election is called, it ought to be after this report has been made public -- the Liberal Party will be damaged by the corruption exposed directly within its structure or by that of it's paid campaigners - like Corriveau - who may have pocketed the money but whose ethical poverty reflects poorly on the leadership team of the party.

The statute of limitations for some of the illegal acts is very slim:

While Brault and two others are facing criminal fraud charges, time has wiped out any chance of nailing others with violations of election and lobbying laws.

The Gomery inquiry has so far heard from a dozen witnesses who broke election laws -- passing political cash around in brown paper bags does not exactly conform to federal political financing rules.

But an official at Elections Canada indicates there is nothing the government can do to prosecute the Adscammers -- under the old election financing laws in place during the sponsorship program, violators had to be prosecuted within 18 months.

The same applies to the numerous Gomery witnesses who have admitted they broke federal lobbying laws while they were out twisting arms in government for sponsorship cash.

A joke at the best of times, the lobbying laws don't even apply to AdScam -- the statute of limitations is two years.

The federal lawsuit against the 19 Adscam players is open-ended, to allow the government to add more names as they are unearthed at the Gomery inquiry. (Emphasis added)

On the other hand, the statute of limitations is possibly why some of the witnesses have been so forthcoming with their testimony: should the criminal prosecutions result in convictions, the sentencing for some may be lighter. Jean Brault was applauded when he appeared after the publication ban was lifted and I can understand why, especially when I compare Brault's straightforward testimony with Corriveau's haughty demeanor during the latter's appearances before the Gomery Inquiry.

I'm not likely to buy a used car from either man, but Brault came across as someone who tried to take a shortcut to success and ended up paying for it, and his testimony despite his poor health compared to Corriveau's memory-loss-by-medication makes Brault the more sympathetic character.

Mindful of the dictim that one can't excape death or taxes,

... If all else fails, there is always the long arm of the tax man, no doubt already hot on the trail of all that pilfered Adscam money. Where it will end nobody knows except, we hope, the accountants of Kroll Lindquist & Avey.
A couple of links and some background, starting with a profile of Corriveau here.

Some articles recapping Jean Brault's and Luc Lemay's testimony in anticipation of Corriveau's testimony here (including testimony from Groupaction employee Bernard Michaud that seemed to confirm that Brault was being pressure to donate to the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party) and Lemay's testimony that he never looked at Corriveau's bills but just paid them and that he didn't know that Gault was being pressured to donate to the party (the last contradicts Gault's testimony.)

A recap of Corriveau's testimony this past week: Corriveau denies kickback claims and CTV's coverage on Thursday and Friday.

In another link, on Thursday Corriveau denied ever discussing the Sponsorship Program with Chretien while running the graphic design company Pluri Design, denied that he was close to Alain Renaud, and denied one of the most damning segments of Brault's testimony:

Corriveau said he never referred to the party as "the cause" in any conversations, contrary to Brault's claim that the phrase came up often while Corriveau and top Liberal officials browbeat him for cash.
Corriveau had also denied that he was was a "really" good friend of Jean Chretien's and that he was an informal consultant to the former prime minister.

On Friday, he denied receiving any kickbacks or playing any role in a scheme to funnel money back to the Liberal Party and suggested the inquiry focus on Alain Renaud. He explained the invoices which were for events in non-existent Olympic stadiums were due to a "significant printing error" -- so it wasn't due to a copy-paste operation but the use of an original invoice (for a 1997 event at Montreal's Olympic Stadium) as a template for later invoices (which went undetected in several Accounts Payable departments? If the invoices contained a significant error due to the template it's not a "printing" error but human error, and that still doesn't explain why nobody noticed it.)

He admitted being paid for lobbying the government for contracts for Lemay's Groupe Polygone even though he wasn't a registered lobbyist, and was caught contradicting testimony by Chretien's neice, Maria Lyne Chretien, when he admitted recommending her for a job at Groupaction upon her request (she had testified that she never solicited a recommendation from him.) Brault testified that of the five he hired (Serge Gosselin, Maria Lynn Chrétien, Gaby Chretien, Alain Renaud and Jacques Corriveau) she is the only one who did legitimate work for Groupaction.

[I've tried to cite numerous sources in part because some of the links have only a short life span and others will be subject to "subscribers only" retrieval.]

11:05: Lorrie Goldstein dispenses with the contention that Martin is the "wire brush" to clean up Canadian politics and brings the point home with the the reminder of the applause and praise in the Liberal caucus following Chretien's golfball testimony at the Gomery Inquiry -- an appearance that, to quote Goldstein, "made it perfectly clear he [Chretien] had nothing but contempt for the proceedings."

More chickens comes home to roost, as Linda Williamson reminds us of the "tainted blood scandal" and John Crosbie points out some bad bookkeeping and questionable business decisions at Canadian Steamship Lines, the company Paul Martin owned and ran before he became Prime Minister and wonders if the Canadian electorate will leave the government in the hands of wolves.

Edmonton Sun columnist Paul Stanway urges voters to "stop hiding behind the excuse of Battered voter syndrome" and outlines the flaws in the Liberal Party's pretensions as the "natural ruling party of Canada."

Salim Mansur asks Remember when honour was important?:

There was once an unspoken rule in public life that when trust is broken and a reputation sullied, the person in question should depart and save others from embarrassment.

We no longer live in such a world or, more properly, we now imagine that to demand honour in public life is romantic fiction.

It has become unreal to expect from public officials what Shakespeare made Mark Antony declare: "If I lose mine honour, I lose myself."

Instead, the unruffled contemporary norm is pass the buck, deny evidence and brazenly defy those whose trust has been broken due to poor judgment, ineptness or malfeasance.

Instead, the unruffled contemporary norm is pass the buck, deny evidence and brazenly defy those whose trust has been broken due to poor judgment, ineptness or malfeasance.

We've seen ample evidence of this in the AdScam debacle in Ottawa. So, too, we recently heard the pithy response of Kofi Annan, secretary general of the United Nations, when asked if he would resign following the release of the second interim report of the Volcker committee on the Oil-for-Food scandal: "Hell, no."

Yes, the column is actually about Kofi Annan - but could easily be about Martin. I think that's the point.

Posted by Debbye at 06:12 AM | Comments (1)

April 16, 2005

Bribery investigation in Swiss U.N. Building Contract

Apr. 16 - I can't find a source other than the NY Times at this point: Swiss Investigates Possibility of Bribery in U.N. Contract:

A Swiss judge is investigating possible bribery charges involving a $50 million contract to renovate the headquarters of a Geneva-based United Nations agency, according to government documents and Swiss and American officials.

Jean-Bernard Schmid, the Geneva-based judge who has led the criminal inquiry, said in a telephone interview on Friday that his investigation was focusing on Michael Wilson, who was a consultant to the company that won the renovation contract at the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Mr. Wilson, a Ghanaian businessman, has been identified by investigators as a business associate of Kojo Annan, the son of Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general. The judge said Kojo Annan was not a target of the investigation.

Investigators said the judge was trying to determine if Mr. Wilson had bribed a senior official at the United Nations agency to win the renovation contract. Edward Kwakwa, the agency's legal counsel, said Khamis Suedi, a top official at the intellectual property agency, acknowledged having received 325,000 Swiss francs, about $270,000, from Mr. Wilson, but said the money was from a private business venture that had no connection to the agency's construction contract. In an interview, Mr. Suedi said he had had nothing to do with the awarding of the contract.

[...]

Mr. Wilson's relationship with Kojo Annan was cited in a recent report issued by the United Nations commission investigating its oil-for-food program in Iraq. According to the commission, Mr. Wilson was a vice president at Cotecna Inspection S.A., a company that worked for the oil-for-food program, and Mr. Wilson helped get Mr. Annan a job at the company.

After both men left Cotecna, they became partners in a consulting business in Africa, according to investigators in the United States and Europe. Kojo Annan's lawyer, Clarissa Amato, declined comment for publication.

The Swiss investigation concerns Mr. Wilson's activities in Geneva. Mr. Kwakwa said Mr. Wilson had been an intern at the intellectual property agency "decades ago" when his father was posted in Geneva as an ambassador from Ghana. Mr. Kwakwa said that more recently Mr. Suedi told officials there that he and Mr. Wilson had been doing work that involved "benevolent, nongovernmental organizations." Mr. Kwakwa said the outside work had been approved by the agency.

Rough night. Need sleep.

In a March interview, Mr. Suedi said that he and Mr. Wilson had done some consulting work in connection with the prospective purchase and management of hotels in Tanzania, but that it "hadn't worked out."

Officials said that after opening the investigation last year, Judge Schmid ordered Mr. Wilson jailed for nine days, during which investigators reviewed his computer files and bank records. Investigators said he was released after he agreed to cooperate with the inquiry and acknowledged having received a large consulting fee from the BPS construction consortium - comprising Béric S.A., Perret and Seydoux-DMB, - that renovated the headquarters. He also acknowledged having made a payment to Mr. Suedi.

The agency is one of several United Nations agencies and affiliated organizations whose management practices have recently been criticized by internal and outside reviews. A review published in February by United Nations officials in New York recommended substantial changes in the agency's budgeting and personnel policies.

"The inspectors believe a headquarters review and needs assessment should be undertaken urgently," says the review, a copy of which is posted on the agency's Web site.

Posted by Debbye at 10:06 AM | Comments (2)

More mass graves in Iraq

Apr. 16 - From yesterday's New York Times, more pieces of a nightmare from which we can never awaken and a mistake for which we can only try to atone: Iraqis Find Graves Thought to Hold Hussein's Victims:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 14 - Investigators have discovered several mass graves in southern Iraq that are believed to contain the bodies of people killed by Saddam Hussein's government, including one estimated to hold 5,000 bodies, Iraqi officials say.

[...]

At least 290 grave sites containing the remains of some 300,000 people have been found since the American invasion two years ago, Iraqi officials say.

[...]

One of the [newly discovered] graves, near Basra, in the south, appears to contain about 5,000 bodies of Iraqi soldiers who joined a failed uprising against Mr. Hussein's government after the 1991 Persian Gulf war. Another, near Samawa, is believed to contain the bodies of 2,000 members of the Kurdish clad led by Massoud Barzani.

As many as 8,000 men and boys from the clan disappeared in 1983 after being rounded up in northern Iraq by security forces at the command of Ali Hassan al-Majid, widely known as Chemical Ali. It remains unclear, however, how the victims ended up in the south.

Investigators have also discovered the remains of 58 Kuwaitis spread across several sites, including what appears to be a family of two adults and five children who were crushed by a tank, Mr. Amin said. At least 605 Kuwaitis disappeared at the time of the first gulf war, and before the latest graves were discovered, fewer than 200 had been accounted for, he added.

Posted by Debbye at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

Don't f*** with Great-grandma

Apr. 16 - Great Granny Guns Would-Be Thief

Posted by Debbye at 09:49 AM | Comments (1)

April 15, 2005

Website shut down by Calgary police chief

Apr. 15 - I have to rush off to work, but this is troubling: Website gagged as Calgary police chief wins court order.

Neale News has a link to this page of the website.

We'd better keep an eye on this.

(Links via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:52 PM | Comments (3)

Expos Nats begin new season

Bush throws first pitch Nats openerr1996007899.jpg
Neale News

Apr. 15 - I just have to note this moment in history. We have a good friend who is still a diehard Senators fan (he even wrote and published a book about them) and Mark has long bewailed the lack of support for the Expos, who consistently played better than their payroll warranted, so now there a cosmic merging of The Underappreciated and The Arcane as the legacy of the Expos and Senators combine to create the Nationals.

Great article in the Washington Times about the President's intense preparation before throwing the initial pitch including the fact that he warmed up before taking the mound. Guess only women who love baseball lovers would understand, but I just know he constantly peppered Laura with the all-important question: slider or a fastball?

The Times says "It was a fastball. A ball. High and inside to a phantom right-handed batter." Mark said the catcher called it a strike, and I made the error of observing that, sans batter and umpire, it can't be anything because without the latter, It ain't nothing until he calls it.

Mark replied smugly, "The catcher knows" which in itself is a bit of a switch as Mark rarely admits to pitcher error on a wild pitch because it's the catcher's job to catch whatever is thrown. So now a catcher is all-wise and all-knowing? (Of course, Mark was not only a pitcher but a southpaw to boot which are two strikes against his sanity.)

I'm a baseball fan, but I'm not as fanatic as certain people like someone sitting 10 feet away who reads baseball blogs but doesn't read mine ...

Charles Krathammer tries to figure out why he cares about 25 guys he doesn't even know:

It is one thing to root for your son's Little League team. After all, he is your kid, and you paid for his glove -- and uniform, helmet, bat, and, when he turns 9, cup. You have a stake in him, and by extension his team.

But what possible stake do grown men have in the fortunes of 25 perfect strangers, vagabond mercenaries paid obscene sums to play a game for half the year?

The whole thing is completely irrational. For me, this is no mere abstract question. I have been a baseball fan most of my life. I could excuse the early years, the Mantle-Maris era, as mere childish hero worship. But what excuse do I have now? Why should I care about these tobacco-spitting, crotch-adjusting multimillionaires who have never heard of me and would not care if I was dispatched to my maker by an exploding scoreboard?

[...]

Presto. It is 1975 all over again. I begin to care. I want them to win. Why? I have no idea. I begin following day games on the Internet. I've punched not one but two preset Nationals stations onto my car radio. I'm aghast. I'm actually invested in the day-to-day fortunes of 25 lugheads I never heard of until two weeks ago.

The Washington Senators were often observed to be First in war, first in peace, and last in the American league. If only for the sakes of Tom, Mark, George and Charles, I hope the Nationals have a terrific season and make 'em proud.

Apr. 16 - 08:34: Sorry, forgot link to Krauthammer's column. Fixed now.

Posted by Debbye at 07:50 PM | Comments (4)

American arrest in U.N. Oil-for-Food scandal

Apr. 15 - David Bay Chalmers Jr. of Bayoil U.S.A. was charged yesterday in Iraq Oil Sales by Hussein Aides.:

In an indictment, federal authorities in New York said David Bay Chalmers Jr., a Houston oil businessman, and his company, Bayoil U.S.A., made millions of dollars in illegal kickbacks to the Iraqi government while trading oil under the $65 billion aid program.

Separate charges were brought against Tongsun Park, a millionaire South Korean businessman, for acting as an unregistered lobbyist for Iraq in behind-the-scenes negotiations in the United States to set up and shape the United Nations program. The criminal complaint said Mr. Park received at least $2 million in secret payments from Mr. Hussein's government for serving as a liaison between Iraqi and United Nations officials.

Mr. Park was at the center of a lobbying scandal in the 1970's, when he was accused of paying bribes to lawmakers in Washington to secure support for loans to South Korea.

[...]

The authorities not only charged that Bayoil made illegal payments to secure Iraqi oil, but also that it conspired to artificially lower the price Iraq received, depriving the Iraqi people of money for sorely needed items. The charges also disclosed new information about an alleged plan to pay senior United Nations officials to influence the course of the program.

Catherine M. Recker, a lawyer for Mr. Chalmers, said the Bayoil defendants and the company would plead not guilty and "vigorously dispute" the criminal charges.

According to federal authorities and the complaint against Mr. Park, he was a partner in the lobbying effort with Samir Vincent, an Iraqi-American businessman who pleaded guilty in January to illegal lobbying for Iraq.

Mr. Vincent, who is cooperating with federal investigators, said Iraqi officials signed agreements in 1996 to pay him and Mr. Park $15 million for their lobbying, the complaint says.

One of their tasks was "to take care of" a high-ranking United Nations official, which Mr. Vincent understood to mean to pay bribes, the complaint says. The authorities did not identify or bring charges against the United Nations official. (Emphasis added)

[...]

David N. Kelley, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, in Manhattan, said the complaint alleges that Mr. Park intended to bribe the official, but does not show that the official received any bribe.

The complaint also charges that Mr. Park met with a second unnamed senior United Nations official, once in a restaurant in Manhattan. After that, Mr. Park said he invested $1 million he had been paid by Iraq in a Canadian company belonging to the son of the second United Nations official, the complaint says.

Mr. Kelley declined to say whether the officials were still actively serving at the world organization. He said, however, that the investigation was "broad and large" and that his office would "wring the towel dry" in pursuing United Nations officials. (Emphasis added.)

The story in the Washington Post says much the same:
A federal grand jury in Manhattan charged that David B. Chalmers Jr., founder of Houston-based Bayoil USA Inc. and Bayoil Supply & Trading Limited; Ludmil Dionissiev, a Bulgarian citizen who lives in Houston; and John Irving, a British oil trader, funneled millions of dollars in kickbacks through a foreign front company to an Iraqi-controlled bank account in the United Arab Emirates. If convicted, the three men could each be sentenced to as long as 62 years in prison, $1 million in fines, and the seizure of at least $100 million in personal and corporate assets.

The federal complaint against Park charges that he received a total of $2 million in cash from Iraq, including a fee to "take care" of an unnamed U.N. official. It also states that Park invested $1 million in Iraqi money in a Canadian company owned by the son of another unknown, "high-ranking" U.N. official. Park could face as long as five years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000 or twice the value of profits he earned as a result of his alleged activities. (Emphasis added.)

The Telegraph (UK) has a fairly terse article on the arrests.

Thus far I've only found coverage of the arrests in The Globe and Mail which covers the arrest but as of 5:41 a.m. didn't report the allegations of a Canadian connection but does report that U.N. officials may be connected to these arrests:

The reference in the complaint against Mr. Park to two mystery high-ranking UN officials sparked widespread speculation in UN corridors of possible names.

Mr. Kelley, pressed repeatedly by reporters at a news conference to say whether U.N. officials had actually received money tied to Mr. Park, would say only that that issue was not part of the indictment.

Any Canadian who read the NY Times or Washington Post today is probably speculating too!

The U.N. is claiming that the Americans and British were perfectly aware of the violations of the sanctions but refused to order their ships in the Persian Gulf to stop oil tankers heading for Turkish and Jordanian ports with illicit Iraqi oil. I have read reports that trucks loaded with illegally purchased oil from Iraq went to Turkey and Jordan (that became common knowledge after Operation Iraqi Freedom and the public learned just how corrupt OFF - or Oil for Palaces - really was) but I don't understand why oil headed for Jordan or Turkey would use rather lengthy sea lanes when they border Iraq and could drive it in.

Maybe Annan was thinking of Syria, a member of the U.N. Security Council, but, again, the oil was not transported by sea but by pipeline, two of which were turned off when U.S. troops got to them. Maybe he just forgot.

11:30 - Glenn Reynolds has lots of links on the arrests.

Apr. 16 - 10:05: FoxNews has no additional information on U.N. Official No. 1 and Official No. 2.

Posted by Debbye at 10:19 AM | Comments (8)

April 14, 2005

Corriveau testimony Day 1

Apr. 14 - Some quick updates before I go to work. Corriveau says he can't remember Chretien calls but confirmed about 21 over the years, citing surgery and medication as reasons for some memory problems, and that he only saw Chretien once or twice a year on average. He also denied he was an "unofficial consultant" to Chretien

The story in the Globe reports that Corriveau defended the phone calls logged in the former prime minister's office as being due to his employment of Chretien's son, Michel, at Corriveau's graphic-design firm from 1989 to 1991, which was before Chretien came to power, as pointed out by inquiry counsel Bernard Roy.

Posted by Debbye at 07:48 PM | Comments (0)

"I did not have lunch with that man!"

Apr. 14 - Paul Martin denies ever having lunch with Claude Boulay of Groupe Everest, one of the agencies implicated in Adscam (Paul Martin: I have never had lunch with Boulay.)

Greg Weston wasn't impressed with Martin's "moral authority" speech yesterday and even less impressed with Martin's refusal to answer Opposition Leader Stephen Harper's direct question yesterday about Boulay.

Posted by Debbye at 12:30 PM | Comments (4)

Luc Lemay, Day 2

Apr. 14 - Yes, it's Update on Adscam time, but I'm not sure I'm up to it. I caught some of Lemay's testimony on CPAC this morning, but I couldn't believe my ears. Did he really assert that he has neither read nor heard anything as to the content of Jean Brault's testimony last week? That is so unbelievable that I'm certain I must have dozed off there for a bit.

Another curious note: I turned on CPAC a few minutes ago and there is debate going on over a Bloc motion for the Liberals to put their alleged ill-gotten gains into a trust account so as to level the playing field in the event of an election ... thus far, speakers from the Bloc, Conservative Party and NDP have supported the motion.

Back to Lemay's testimony, he seemingly has no understanding of what constitutes 'Influence peddling':

HUSTLING by a pal of Jean Chretien to land a Quebec publishing empire lucrative sponsorships for a hefty commission is blatant "influence peddling," Justice John Gomery charged yesterday. Gomery launched the allegation in heated testimony from Groupe Polygone owner Luc Lemay, who said he helped mask Jacques Corriveau's hefty commissions with fake invoices to avoid the federal lobbyist registry.

"You have never heard of what we call influence peddling, as being a forbidden practice in the government?" Gomery pointedly asked Lemay during his second day of grilling.

"No," Lemay answered.

Corriveau, a Liberal bagman and the former PM's confidant, made $6.7 million in commissions on the $37 million in sponsorships the feds pumped directly into Lemay's conglomerate of companies between 1996 and 2002.

Lemay is also Clueless In Rimouski, billing for an event in the Olympic Stadium there - except that none such exists.
Laughter erupted when inquiry counsel Bernard Roy noted Corriveau billed thousands of dollars for working at the Olympic Stadium in Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivieres, Rimouski, Chicoutimi and Ste-Foy, a suburb of Quebec City.

"To your knowledge, is there an Olympic stadium in Rimouski?" asked Roy, adding: "These details escaped you because you did not examine the bills."

Lemay replied: "Essentially."

Some of the events said to have taken place in Olympic Stadiums actually took place at shopping malls and hockey rinks.

Brian Daly also writes on Lemay's testimony here:

The fake bills complete with non-existent stadiums were turned in by Liberal organizer Jacques Corriveau for a series of regional hunting and fishing shows that did in fact take place, promoter Luc Lemay testified at the inquiry into the sponsorship scandal.

Many of the bills were duplicates of a legitimate invoice that Corriveau submitted for one of Lemay's hunting and fishing shows at Montreal's Olympic Stadium in 1999.

Lemay said Corriveau did little work or no work on the regional events and simply substituted the names of the smaller communities but left the rest of the document unchanged.

Lemay, who claims to be a businessman, testified that he paid whatever Corriveau requested. If Corriveau claimed he had spent more time than anticipated on a project and billed accordingly, Lemay paid without question.
Corriveau, also a graphic designer, had cut himself in on the lucrative deals at 17.5 per cent but did little more than eyeball mockups for most of the contracts, said Lemay.

"I never verified these bills," he said.

A $2.7 million People's Almanac contract and the Montreal outdoors show were the only two of 19 federally sponsored events for which Corriveau played a major role, said Lemay.

As for the other 17 events worth nearly $28 million, Lemay said he had a "good faith" agreement to pay commissions to Corriveau, but didn't ask for details about Corriveau's work.

Lemay wouldn't corroborate Brault's claims but didn't deny Corriveau's bills were inflated.

[...]

Brault has implicated Corriveau and Lemay in the wide-ranging scheme that allegedly used Brault's Groupaction firm to secretly funnel at least $1.1 million to the party's debt-ridden Quebec wing.

Brault said he paid Corriveau nearly $500,000 under a bogus contract, and alleged Corriveau sent the cash to the Quebec wing.

Brault, who's semi-retired, also testified Corriveau pressed him to make huge financial contributions, while one of Lemay's firms allegedly paid Brault $2.3 million in bogus commissions to offset the party's financial demands.

Lemay has admitted that $1.9 million in bills from Groupaction were "perhaps a bit inflated" but insisted Brault told him the money was to help manage sponsorship contracts.

He said he he had no idea Brault was being pressured for Liberal contributions and said no Liberals ever strongarmed him into sending cash.

The CTV link tells me I haven't gone Nuts Over Adscam
Gomery was incredulous when Lemay claimed he still didn't know about Brault's allegations, which have made international headlines.

"I've never seen media coverage like that of Mr. Brault's testimony," said the judge, adding: "You've read nothing about it?"

Lemay replied: "I don't have the time to read it."

Gomery then said, "Maybe it's time for a break," before ordering a pause in the proceedings.

Jacques Corriveau is to testify today.

Posted by Debbye at 11:37 AM | Comments (4)

The "fiscal imblance as dark matter"

Apr. 14 - Andre Coyne absolutely rocks. I am floored that the existence of dark matter is proven because scientists weighed the universe and found something was missing ... I know there isn't some cosmic scale that they used, but being a Lowly Humnities Major I get close to these kinds of theories and then they slip right past me.

So what does dark matter have to do with the Defining the "fiscal imbalance"?

One of the delights of federal-provincial relations is the ingenuity with which the premiers find new ways to rationalize the same unchanging demand for more money. ..

Remember the 18% ratio? That was the percentage of all provincial health spending that Ottawa was obliged to pony up, some years back, or risk violating one or another of the laws of thermodynamics. The accounting was dubious enough -- the provinces conveniently forgot about federal transfers in the form of tax points, and in any event the money all goes into provincial general revenues, not some sequestered bank account marked “health” -- but no more so than the underlying principle. Which was … what, exactly? Well, 18% was what Ottawa used to kick in “for health,” circa 1995, before the “unilateral” (ie federal) reductions in federal transfers to the provinces imposed in that year’s budget. And why should that be any sort of benchmark? ...

Lately the premiers have discovered a new formula. .. The fiscal imbalance is one of those things like dark matter or quantum uncertainty that defy comprehension by the ordinary layman. Its precise magnitude has been the subject of countless arcane calculations -- the government of Quebec devoted a whole white paper to the subject -- but its basic mathematical expression may be reduced, by a combination of Lagrange polynomial interpolation and dead reckoning, to two lines: 1. Ottawa has money. 2. We want it.

Read. It.

Posted by Debbye at 11:07 AM | Comments (2)

The "Nerf"-ing of kids' lives

Apr. 14 - Sometimes Nick at Quotulatiousness drives me nuts. He writes very well, but too often contents himself with just quoting other people leaving his readers thirsty for more.

Now I've got him! He's got a post in which he does much of the driving himself here and scores:

The author also waves that wonderful "self esteem" flag, but that's a rant for another time.
Sooner, please. It's time to take parents off the hook for trying to "raise their child's self-esteem" and getting him/her to do their durned homework so they can get the grades that might make that self-esteem an earned achievement.
I think we may be going too far to attempt to protect our kids from the real world by making even their most competitive environments less challenging (the "Nerf"-ing of kids' lives). How much of a shock is the real world going to be to someone who's never been exposed to the good and the bad of real personal conflicts outside the home?
The "Nerf"-ing of kids lives. Perfectly stated.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Debbye at 10:22 AM | Comments (2)

David Brooks, meet Wretchard

Aprl. 14 - David Brooks has a straight-forward style that I really love. He uses words like "squishier" and phrases like "arcane fudges" that cut across the blather of nuance - which is basically the art of saying nothing but to say it well - and makes his points squarely and unequivocally.

Today's column is a gem (Loudly, With a Big Stick.) In the course of explaining why John Bolton will make a terrific Ambassador to the U.N., (he's there to represent the U.S.A., remember?) he explains why Americans will never accept some lofty world government and, at the risk of breaking a great many trans-nationalist hearts, exposes the primary reasons why people who love liberty and self-rule would never accept it either.

We'll never accept it, first, because it is undemocratic. It is impossible to set up legitimate global authorities because there is no global democracy, no sense of common peoplehood and trust. So multilateral organizations can never look like legislatures, with open debate, up or down votes and the losers accepting majority decisions.

Instead, they look like meetings of unelected elites, of technocrats who make decisions in secret and who rely upon intentionally impenetrable language, who settle differences through arcane fudges. Americans, like most peoples, will never surrender even a bit of their national democracy for the sake of multilateral technocracy.

Second, we will never accept global governance because it inevitably devolves into corruption. The panoply of U.N. scandals flows from a single source: the lack of democratic accountability. These supranational organizations exist in their own insular, self-indulgent aerie.

We will never accept global governance, third, because we love our Constitution and will never grant any other law supremacy over it. Like most peoples (Europeans are the exception), we will never allow transnational organizations to overrule our own laws, regulations and precedents. We think our Constitution is superior to the sloppy authority granted to, say, the International Criminal Court.

Fourth, we understand that these mushy international organizations liberate the barbaric and handcuff the civilized. Bodies like the U.N. can toss hapless resolutions at the Milosevics, the Saddams or the butchers of Darfur, but they can do nothing to restrain them. Meanwhile, the forces of decency can be paralyzed as they wait for "the international community."

Fifth, we know that when push comes to shove, all the grand talk about international norms is often just a cover for opposing the global elite's bêtes noires of the moment - usually the U.S. or Israel. We will never grant legitimacy to forums that are so often manipulated for partisan ends.

The last paragraph is direct:
Sometimes it takes sharp elbows to assert independence. But this is certain: We will never be so seduced by vapid pieties about global cooperation that we'll join a system that is both unworkable and undemocratic.
"Vapid pieties!" Alas, I know them well. I've encountered most of them living in a member of the Axis of Weasels and Adscam Country.

With a terrific sense of contrast, Wrethard examines the French disenchantment with the EU Constitution taking a Guardian article as his base line and expands it into a post that parallels the Brooks column which, although they pursue different paths, come to similar conclusions about the sense of what it is to be a "nationality."

He calls passage of the EU Constitution a "Faustian bargain"

{French] People are beginning to understand the document before them but the political salesmen are determined to offer any combination of rebates, coupons, special offers and financing to get the final signature on the contract of sale. Stephen Benet's "The Devil and Daniel Webster" speaks of the belated remorse that so often follows Faustian bargains, though like as not there will be no reprieve from the consequences of this deal.
There is no Plan "B" to ratifying the Constituion, so "the field [is] open to the first European leader able to articulate a viable and alternative trajectory for the nations of the old continent."

Although Wretchard explains a great many economic and political reasons why the French might reject the EU Constitution, I believe the answer may be far more basic: they don't want to stop being that indefinable thing that makes them unique which would happen were they to relinquish self-rule.

I think the French (as are the British, Dutch, and most especially the Eastern European countries who are unwilling to trade Soviet dominance for French dominance) are actually expressing a yearning they dare not admit to because it would make them just like us Yanks: love of country, love of those intrinsic matters that define them as unique, and love of being (don't laugh) French.

[Note the final paragraph in the Guardian article! They feel they need to cheat to win, which is most definitely not a sign of confidence.]

Posted by Debbye at 07:23 AM | Comments (2)

Neo-Nazi Wolfgang Droege

Apr. 14 - Neo-Nazi Wolfgang Droege was shot and killed last night in east Toronto.

My only comment is that this guy only got 3 years for trying to overthrow the government of Dominica, but got 13 years for cocaine possession and weapons possession in Alabama. Something is wrong with that! Dominica sounds rather interesting; the website I googled says

Dominica was the last of the Caribbean islands to be colonized by Europeans, due chiefly to the fierce resistance of the native Caribs. France ceded possession to Great Britain in 1763, which made the island a colony in 1805. In 1980, two years after independence, Dominica's fortunes improved when a corrupt and tyrannical administration was replaced by that of Mary Eugenia CHARLES, the first female prime minister in the Caribbean, who remained in office for 15 years. Some 3,000 Carib Indians still living on Dominica are the only pre-Columbian population remaining in the eastern Caribbean.
The Toronto Sun article has a "man who repented" air about it, but I'm adding the CTV link from Flea, who says exactly what I want to say and who had a run-in with the man.

I know the KuKluxKlan has tried to project a new image and that there are always fools who will be taken in by their b.s., but to me they are always the Democratic Rifle Club that was formed shortly after the Civil War and used murderous means to intimidate and deny enfranchised African-Americans their legally constituted civil rights. (Only one google reference. What do they teach in schools these days?)

I've filed this under the "Canada" category because I don't have one for "Sick Bastards Who Finally Died and Went to Hell" and under USA because I don't have one for "I don't believe in hate speech laws but I do affirm my right to get in your face and call you out when you preach that kind of crap."

Posted by Debbye at 06:51 AM | Comments (0)

Ressem provided over 100 names

Apr. 14 - Ahmed Ressem, who was caught on the U.S.-Canadian border in 1999 with a bomb-making materials in his trunk and a map with LA International Airport circled, fingered 100 terror suspects according to a brief filed by his lawyers. He was conviced of 9 charges in 2001, and spent over 200 hours with federal agents providing names of his al Qaeda associates and details of his training in Afghanistan hoping to reduce the 130 years to which he had been sentencedto 27 years. He also spent about 65 hours testifying at trials or making depositions.

Although most of the names remain under seal, some of them have been "startlingly helpful" and other have been apprehended and convicted due to Ressem's information.

Ressam's testimony helped convict Mokhtar Haouari of supplying fake identification and cash for the millennium bomb plot. Haouari was sentenced in New York City to 24 years in prison.

Ressam also provided information about Haydar Abu Doha, an Algerian who is in British custody awaiting extradition to the United States, where he is charged with orchestrating the plot to bomb the Los Angeles airport.

In December 2002, Ressam met with German justice officials who questioned him about al-Qaida for the trial of a Moroccan charged with supporting the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist hijackers. Mounir el Motassadeq was convicted in February 2003 and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Ressem will be sentenced April 27.

Posted by Debbye at 06:47 AM | Comments (2)

April 13, 2005

Inquiry moves closer to Chretien's circle

Apr. 13 - Luc Lemay testified yesterday that Chretien pal Corriveau got millions:

A GOLFING buddy of former PM Jean Chretien raked in $6.7 million for landing a Quebec publishing empire lucrative federal sponsorships, the AdScam inquiry heard. Luc Lemay, owner of Expour and the Polygone publishing giant, said the millions were a thank you to Jacques Corriveau for landing him $42 million in sponsorships from 1997-2003 -- by far the lion's share of the $250-million program.

Lemay first hired Corriveau, Chretien's riding organizer and bagman, to design Expour's first outdoor show in 1997.

Lemay said only two short months before his show was set to open at Montreal's Olympic Stadium, Corriveau showed up with a vital $450,000 federal sponsorship.

CTV elaborates further on Lemay's testimony and Corriveau's billing procedures:
MONTREAL — Jean Chretien's good friend Jacques Corriveau did almost nothing to earn a $6.7 million cut from a Montreal promoter's sponsorship deals, an inquiry heard Tuesday.

Promoter and publisher Luc Lemay said he simply rubber-stamped Corriveau's bills, which in some cases appeared to be duplicates with the names of various events pasted in.

Lead inquiry counsel Bernard Roy ran down a list of $36 million in federal sponsorship contracts handled from 1996 to 2002 by Lemay's firms, mainly for hunting and fishing shows in rural Quebec.

Corriveau, a Liberal organizer and graphic designer, had cut himself in on the lucrative deals to the tune of 17.5 per cent. But Lemay acknowledged the former prime minister's friend did little more than eyeball mockups for most of the contracts.

Roy asked: "The bills that you received at the time were for honorariums for services that were not really performed as described in the bills."

Lemay confirmed: "I never verified these bills."

A $2.7 million People's Almanac contract and a Montreal hunting and a fishing show were the only two of the 19 events for which Corriveau played a major role, said Lemay.

As for the other 17 events worth nearly $28 million, Lemay said he had a "good faith" agreement to pay commissions to Corriveau, but didn't ask for details about Corriveau's work.

Lemay's admission suggests millions of taxpayer dollars went unaccounted for through Corriveau's Pluri Design firm during a period when huge sums of cash were allegedly diverted from the sponsorship program to the Liberal party.

Ad man Jean Brault has said Corriveau extracted huge sums from himself and Lemay to fatten the party's coffers in a corruption scandal that threatens Prime Minister Paul Martin's minority Liberal government.

Lemay wouldn't corroborate Brault's spectacular claims but didn't deny Corriveau's bills were inflated.

The bills, tabled at the inquiry, indicated Corriveau performed professional services when in fact his income came from commissions earned after lobbying the Liberal government on Lemay's behalf.

[...]

Brault has implicated Corriveau and Lemay in the wide-ranging scheme that allegedly used Brault's Groupaction firm to secretly funnel at least $1.1 million to the party's Quebec wing.

Brault said he paid Corriveau nearly $500,000 under a bogus contract, and alleged Corriveau sent the cash to the party's debt-ridden Quebec wing.

Brault, who's semi-retired, also testified Corriveau pressed him to make huge financial contributions, while one of Lemay's firms allegedly paid Brault $2.3 million in bogus commissions to offset the party's financial demands.

Corriveau's $6.7 million in honorariums and professional services represent more than 18 per cent of Lemay's sponsorship income between 1997 and 2002.

Andrew Coyne is all over the employment of former Immigration Minister Denis Coderre with Group Polygone in the late 90's.

He also notes a contradiction in Martin's contention that he "barely knew Claude Boulay, the president of Groupe Everest" and the fact that he was seen lunching with M. Boulay at the Liberal convention. Predicatably, Martin deflected direct questions on that to defending health care ... three times!

Posted by Debbye at 07:01 PM | Comments (0)

Election in June? Maybe not!

April 13 - Everyone is getting ready for an election that hasn't yet been called. Poll numbers indicate support for the Liberals is eroding, but will that translate into votes for any of the other parties? Quebeckers were the only ones who punished the Liberals in last year's election, and Ontarian, with a third of the seats in Parliament, talk about being angry but last time around that translated into a curious tradition called "holding their noses while they vote Liberal."

Greg Weston doubts an election will be held until Harper is sure he can win, and Harper probably remembers how misleading the polls were in the days leading up to last June's election.

Lorrie Goldstein, in a wryly amusing column that's a little too true for comfort, observes that Ontarians need a little more time:

A break in the political deadlock almost occurred in 3027 when God Almighty Herself, sick and tired of hearing her name constantly invoked in Ontario simply as an adjective for "awful" in relation to AdScam, descended from the heavens, hovered 10 feet above the Parliament buildings, and with a strong voice and a mighty outstretched hand pointed at the entire federal Liberal caucus and thundered, "Crooks!" -- whereupon the earth opened up and swallowed the federal public works department.

However, subsequent polling of Ontarians showed that while most considered this to be a fairly good indication that the Liberals might have had something to do with AdScam, they still wanted more proof before finally deciding whether to throw them out of office.

Thus the stalemate in Parliament -- uninterrupted Liberal minority governments for the past 2,006 years -- continues.

Apr. 14 - 10:37 - just checked out a post on Brock on the Attack because I wanted to double-check the post here and the comments ... read the comments.

As I've expressed before, my best hope for Canada - and Iraq, Afghanistan, and all nations - is that they elect a government that is not so much "friendly to the U.S.A." or any other nation as it is friendly to its own citizens - concerned for their aspirations and their goals - for it is only with such as their prevailing concern that each can achieve greatness.

I tried to be hands-off in the last election because my mind and heart were so filled with concerns for the presidential election in my country that I could honestly plead bias, but should there be an election up here I may not be so constrained.

Posted by Debbye at 05:47 PM | Comments (0)

NY Times on Adscam

Apr. 13 - The NY Times has taken note of the scandal up here even though one can only hope they'll dispatch a reporter in Montreal, where the Gomery Inquiry is behind held. From Canadian Prime Minister Struggles to Keep Job:

TORONTO, April 11 - Prime Minister Paul Martin sought Monday to distance himself from a scandal that is enveloping the governing Liberal Party, saying that he was "personally offended" by a pattern of money laundering, payoffs and kickbacks by party functionaries that has emerged in recent days.
Something that first came up on March 18 constitutes "recent days?"
The crisis has been simmering for over a year as a commission led by Justice John Gomery has been investigating charges that the Liberal government under the former prime minister, Jean Chrétien, transferred nearly $100 million to several advertising firms under a program to publicize federal activities in Quebec, in exchange for little or no work.
The Times is bracing the American public for the "Blame Chretien!" side-step, omitting the fact that the man who was Finance Minister and thus should have noticed huge sums of money were unaccounted for happens to be the current Prime Minister.

But the Times article somewhat makes up for their omission of the above detail with the next few paragraphs that make Martin look hapless if not foolish:

While in Rome for the funeral of Pope John Paul II, Mr. Martin remained silent about the Brault testimony; and over the weekend he huddled with his advisers to consider his political options. On Monday morning, he finally appeared in public and spoke in solemn but firm tones.

"I was as offended as any other Canadian - even if that testimony is contested, I was personally offended by what I heard," he told reporters on Parliament Hill. "That is not the way that politics is done in Quebec. It is not the way that politics should be done in Canada. And it is certainly not the way that I believe that politics should be done."

He added, "I can assure you that anyone who has been implicated in this matter is going to be punished." (Emphasis added)

That is an odd statement from a legal framework. Being implicated does not necessarily equate guilt, but now Martin is on record assuring the Canadian and now the American public that those "implicated" will be punished. Does signing the cheques "implicate" an official? The Times then reports
Mr. Martin, who has not been personally implicated in the scandal, also contended that he has the "moral authority" to continue governing. (Emphasis added)
Again with the "implicate" thing! Yet Martin has failed to accept his own accountability as the Finance Minister who failed to take action after a few millions here and a few millions there went missing or were spent in violation of the rules (e.g., no competitive bidding) on his watch.

The one strength on which Martin can capitalize is the Gomery Inquiry itself and Martin's refusal to end it.

"Establishing the Gomery inquiry has cost me and my party political support," Martin told reporters in Ottawa.

"But it was and it remains the right thing to do because it is needed to defend and protect the integrity of our political process."

[...]

Martin said that as prime minister, he accepts his responsibilities and is accountable for the government.

"The true test of character is doing the right thing when it is difficult. And let me tell you that matters a great deal more than the ambitions of any political leader," he said in an apparent shot at the opposition parties who have been threatening to end his minority government.

Martin knows whereof he speaks when he invokes "the ambitions of any political leader" -- he landed in the middle of this mess because he maneuvered behind the scenes to get Chretien out rather than let Chretien face the backlash of the Auditor-General's report back in early 2004.

Posted by Debbye at 04:46 PM | Comments (2)

Volcano!

Apr. 13 - Now Mount Talang is acting up (Thousands flee Sumatra volcano) coinciding with a series of moderate earthquakes which are most likely aftershocks of the December earthquake that caused the devastating tsunami, in the region.

PBS has a terrific series some years ago called "Rim of Fire" (maybe it was a NOVA presentation?) about the volcanos that dot the land masses in and around the Pacific.

No real content to this post, I just find plate techtonics fascinating, all the more so when it was learned that the planet Mars has one single plate (so why all the volcanos there? As I said, fascinating.)

Posted by Debbye at 01:03 AM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2005

Election in June?

Apr. 12 - Sorry about the no posting; when I got home this morning CPAC was airing Monday's testimony in the Gomery Inquiry and I stayed up to watch it. [Disclosure: Okay, and then I watched Stargate: Atlantis. I need to have some fun.]

The comparison of Watergate to Adscam just went up a notch with Deputy Leader of the Opposition Peter McKay casting doubt on the impartality of the RCMP - the Canadian equivalent of the FBI - in investigating the latest revelations of Adscam as they themselves have been implicated.

I'm still holding my breath - holding it to see if the corruption can be directly linked to Chretien and/or Martin. So far it's closing in on Chretien's good buddies, and maybe the true indicator will be if the Clintons and Chretiens take any more golfing vacations together. (Can a Prime Minister issue a pardon for crimes for which a former government official hasn't even been charged? I don't think so, but I didn't think Ford could do so either.)

It does look like there will be an election in June - Harper: No need to wait for report and although the Conservatives still need to fill their slate, if rumours of the Liberals who are considering crossing the floor (joining the other party) pan out there may be fewer blanks in the Conservative slate.

One caution: one thing I never forget is that a key difference between Americans and Canadians is that the U.S.A. is a country at war and Canada is not. That difference alters the issues and motivations in the electorate, and is probably the single most important reason why Conservatives up here should not be confused with Republicans (although the Independents and Democrats who voted for Bush may find our counterparts in disgusted former-Liberals!)

Kerry had to swing over to the right even to lose, a fact that has totally escaped his supporters up here, and Canadians have yet to face their "moment of truth" as we did on Sept. 11. I don't want to belabour it overly, but we endured an attack on our home soil and conducted two wars. It changed us - in different ways, I'll grant - but change us it did. Just something to think about before we tot-tut Adscam and wonder how and why any self-respecting tax payer could ever vote Liberal!

Another thing to keep in mind is that the U.S. had its own years of scandal and corruption and it finally took the assassination of President McKinley before civil service reform was initiated (it's still an ongoing process.)

There are similarities, but, for example, when the Conservatives talk about "smaller government" they are being relative: smaller than the Liberals want would still gladden a Democrat's heart! The CPC won't alter health care or any one of a number of "entitlement" programs although they may do more for the military.

Opposition Leader Stephen Harper, oddly enough, reminds me of President Bush in that both are sincere men with strong personal ideals who understand that they are as entitled to their personal beliefs as much as others are entitled to theirs. (I'm prejudiced, though. Harper will always have a place in my heart because of his spirited speech at the Friends of America rally in Toronto April, 2003.)

The temptation to run an "Americanized style election*" (attack, attack, attack) will be very strong, but if the CPC paid attention to how well that strategy worked for the Democrats in the 2004 Presidential election campaign they may understand that they need to come up with concrete solutions to the corruption that has plagued this country and base their attacks with solid ideas for reform.

Martin doesn't have a military record but he did own a successful company, Canadian Steamship Lines, which gives rise to questions as to how, as Finance Minister, so much money could have been stolen on his watch. (That company, by the way, is registered in Barbados because even the Prime Minister of this country doesn't want to pay the high Canadian business taxes.)

PM Martin has already broken his committment to address the "democratic deficit" so if he centers his campaign on "this time I actually mean it" it might produce laughter but not much confidence.

The Conservatives should be able to counter the "hidden agenda" accusation very handily by pointing out that it's the Liberal Party that had the hidden agenda, one which put taxpayer money into their own coffers while the military and health care system collapsed.

I think the Liberals will retain Toronto proper - the 416 area code (Mike Brock has a different read on things - I hope he's right and I'm wrong!) but the Conservatives and NDP could very well win seats in the ridings outside Toronto. Bruce points in his post aptly titled Survivor: Canada that the corruption has triggered vigorous political discussions up here, and that in turn may signal that change is coming (at least outside Toronto!)

For some reason, Torontonians in particular are absolutely terrified of social conservatives, believing in what can only be a manifestation of their conspirazoid fantasies that People in Western Canada are plotting to Destroy Urban Life as We Know It by passing laws to outlaw gays, force women to have six children, and not allow Elvis to be shown below the waist on TV.

I'm in a strange place: I despise Chretien, Martin and the Liberal Party for reasons directly attributable to my being an American, but I can't get too excited about the Conservatives until I see them make a strong push for reforms in government spending and appointment practices.

Come to think of it, that's quitessentially American.

Sorry for the rambling. As I admitted, I'm in a strange place in this election (not that it matters as I can't vote!) but in the spirit of my ancestors I hope Canadians will finally rise up and throw the kleptocrats out.

One piece of weirdness: if there's an election, the Queen will postpone her visit to Canada until afterwards. The weirdness is how very fond I've become of Queen Elizabeth II.

*That's sarcasm, by the way. Anything the Canadian elite want to discredit immediately becomes labeled "Americanized."

Update: A bit of serendipity: The Libertarian Party of Canada is having their 2005 convention in Toronto May 21-22 (I just learned that when I googled for the link for a totally unrelated reason!) Canadians seem clued out about libertarianism, but that's probably because it hasn't occured to many of them that you can have fewer rules and regulations if you actually enforce the ones you already have. Being responsible for one's actions run directly counter to the nanny state mantras and would probably be labeled "unCanadian."

Posted by Debbye at 09:43 PM | Comments (11)

April 11, 2005

Iran: Blame Canada

Apr. 11 - Thanks to the wise and patient government in Iran, we now know exactly whose fault it is that there has been no justice for Zahra Kazemi.

You see, Canada has been going about this thing all wrong:

Canada has demanded an international forensic examination to determine the cause of Zahra Kazemi's death.

"Unfortunately Canada has been following a wrong approach from the very beginning, and caused things to get more complicated," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said in a weekly press conference.

"From the very beginning, the Canadians should have accepted that Mrs. Kazemi is an Iranian citizen. Demands by the Canadians have to be answered by Iran's judiciary," he said.

Oh my, this is awkward. It's that moral equivalence multi-cult thing again, and Canada should never have poked it's nose in to what is clearly an internal Iran matter.

Maybe the Iranians figure that after Canada argued against regime change in Iraq and thus indirectly supported Saddam's right to murder his people she can't exactly argue that Iran doesn't have the right to murder theirs.

Time to update this: now the score is Iraq 5, Canada 0.

Apr. 13 - 00:30: This following is why the Kazemi case is important. She was killed in June, 2003. Chretien tried to downplay her death, but the news media, led by the CBC, kept it on the front burner (more credit to them.) Chretien left office in December, 2003.

In February, 2004, there are two curious items in Khazakhstan News:

Major Canadian-based oil company PetroKazakhstan plans to ramp its supply to the Tehran Oil Refinery (Iran) up to 21,000 barrels of oil per day in the next several months, the company announced in a statement this week.

"Over the next several months supplies [to the Tehran plant] will gradually reach their contract level of 21,000 barrels of oil per day (1 million tonnes per year)," according to the PetroKazakhstan press release.

PetroKazakhstan announced in 2003 that it had reached a swap agreement with the Tehran Oil Refinery. Under the agreement, PetroKazakhstan will supply the refinery with crude from its Kazakhstani field, while the Canadian company will receive a monetarily equivalent volume of light Iranian crude at Persian Gulf ports in southern Iran. The agreement obviates the need for PetroKazakhstan to transport its crude across at least part of the lengthy Central Asian export routes.

"The agreement enables the company to get maximum price for its crude oil while reducing destination and transportation costs," PetroKazakhstan said in its statement.

PetroKazakhstan sent its first shipment of 26,800 barrels to the Tehran plant in December 2003, Interfax noted. (Interfax)

[...]

Former Canadian Prime minister Jean Chretien has been named a special advisor to the board of directors of PetroKazakhstan, the company announced in a press release this week.

Chretien will advise the board on international relations issues, drawing on his ten years as Canadian PM as well as his earlier service in the Ministries of Justice, Finance and Energy and Mining. (Emphasis added)

Hmmm.

(By the way, Stephan Hachemi, Kazemi's son, expressed his outrage and disappointment in a letter to editor of the National Post.)

No. 528 on my list of reasons why I despise Jean Chretien!

To no one's surprise, Iran has rejected a Canadian demand for an international forensic team to examine the body of an Iranian-Canadian photojournalist who died in Iranian custody.

Maybe Canada will get mad, and recall the ambassador for the third time. Yeah, that'll show them!

More to the point, those who wish to stand pat on soft diplomacy may do so, but I'll see your soft diplomacy and raise you an armed Predator.

Posted by Debbye at 10:11 AM | Comments (12)

Liberal Scandal Record

Apr. 11 - Another new site keep track of the Adscam mess: LIBRANO SCANDALS AND PROMISES.

(Link via Kate.)

I had almost forgotten that the name Adscam was selected in a democratic manner by an elite group of people who read the right blog.

I kind of miss Andrew's Noth-ing posts. If Corriveau develops amnesia, how about a return appearance?

Posted by Debbye at 09:12 AM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2005

Corriveau on Tuesday?

Apr. 11 - Chretien's pal Corriveau is up next before the Gomery Inquiry:

JUSTICE JOHN Gomery will take his first bite out of a Liberal rainmaker this week when former PM Jean Chretien's golfing buddy makes an appearance before the AdScam inquiry. Jacques Corriveau is expected at the Gomery commission as early as Tuesday, where he will be grilled by lawyers on his dealings with Liberal-friendly ad firms and about his involvement in the scandal-plagued $250-million sponsorship program.

Tomorrow Gomery is expected to uncover where the 600 VIP Montreal Grand Prix tickets purchased through the sponsorship program went when he questions the event's owner, Normand Legault.

Brault testified last week that once he began receiving lucrative sponsorships to manage, it was made clear to him that Corriveau had a big say in who got those contracts.

Corriveau is a close confidant of Chretien's and a longtime Liberal bagman who has been fingered by Brault and his staff during questioning over political influence in the doling out of lucrative sponsorships.

Corriveau, the former owner of ad agency Pluri Design, has been painted as an influential Liberal who directly demanded backdoor donations from Groupaction.

Brault said Corriveau was too much of a gentleman to outline the consequences of refusing to give secret donations but believed Groupaction would have been cut out of the sponsorship program.

Corriveau had not been mentioned by any of the witnesses prior to Brault and his staff and quite a few people are hoping Corriveau's testimony will connect Chretien directly to the scandal.

John Robson wrote last month that Judge Gomery's questioning style was similar to that of Lt. Columbo - seemingly innocuous questions which are revealed to connect loose ends and weave them into a net. Interesting read, or re-read.

Lorrie Goldstein had a column yesterday recounting the despicable treatment of Francois Beaudoin by Chretien and the former's use of real thug tactics when Beaudoin, then head of the Business Development Bank of Canada, responsibly turned down an unreasonable loan request by one of Chretien's friends, Yvon Duhaime.

There's an earnest story, MPs fear Gomery revelations hurt trust, which contains some interesting speculation tying cynicism to low voter turnout and one curious note:

In the federal election last June, some estimates of voter turnout put it just above 60 per cent, which would be the worst in Confederation's history. Due to problems in the voters' list, Elections Canada has not released an official number. (Bolding added)
I must have been asleep on the job, folks, because I don't remember anything about that. Is it tied in with difficulties in the Election Contributions database?

Lastly on that audit which Scott Brison had produced as evidence that no dirty money went into the bank, a notion that was firmly rejected by the Opposition:

"Let's not forget that when it comes to these types of activities, the whole purpose of money laundering is to hide the money. We're kind of overlooking the obvious here aren't we?" [Deputy Conservative leader Peter] MacKay said.
Sound bites are nice, but bloggers do better research - and accountant M.K. Braaten has looked at the reports and suggests that
In fact, these engagements are not audits but simply an analysis of parts of the Liberals finances that they asked the firm to analyze.
Braaten also includes the donations to the Liberal Party by the two firms and points out that there is a potential conflict of interest there (fancy such a thing! Ahem.)

Apr. 12 - 00:11 I'm watching Question Period, and Oppostion Leader Stephen Harper just brought up the letter in part 2 of M.K. Braaten's post in which Deloitte states that they did not conduct an audit. Harper, in asking a second question, calls it a "review." Diane Ablonzsky (?) is now pushing the point that Deloitte complained about the lack of documentation. (Story here.)

Braaten 2 - Liberals 0

Posted by Debbye at 07:00 PM | Comments (1)

Time for Canadians to go hmmm

Apr. 10 - People who compare Adscam to Watergate are missing a vital difference. Whereas the Watergate hearings began with the use of private donations to President Nixon's re-election campaign for illegal operations, Adscam is increasingly exposing the use of public, taxpayer money to fund the election campaigns of the Liberal Party.

Follow the money has since entered public awareness as a standard investigatory practice, and it's hardly surprising that wrongdoers try obliterate the money trail in order to avoid detection or, at best, have some kind of plausible deniability even to the extent of blaming their own subordinates for incompetence or outright corruption. (Plan B is to accidentally erase 18 minutes from a tape or "not remember" what transpired.)

The use of such tactics is the picture that is emerging from the Gomery Inquiry, and as this National Post editorial notes, Judge Gomery has taken some low blows from some who have accused him of bias and cited the high costs of the inquiry to detract from its value.

One issue that must be confronted lies in the editorial:

A year ago, the struggles of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee proved how difficult it would be to get to the bottom of the sponsorship scandal. (Bolding added.)
Why couldn't the Commons committee get to the bottom of the scandal? A second, unaddressed question: why it did it take so long for the alleged payoffs and paybacks, that at minimum go back 15 years, to be uncovered and brought to light? (A third questions might be as to what use is that committee if it can't get to the bottom of a scandal involving millions - if not billions - of dollars of misspending, corruption, graft, patronage appointments and the awarding of unbidded contracts?)

The latest testimony at the Gomery Commission concerns donations for the 1993 campaign which were made with the intent of influencing future contracts in the event of a Liberals victory (Ex-PM's staff took payoffs) which, it is ironic to remember, was fueled by accusations of corruption in the sitting government at the time - the Progressive Conservative Party.

MONTREAL -- Staffers of former PM Jean Chretien received secret payments to fund his victorious 1993 Shawinigan election campaign from a Montreal ad firm lobbying for federal contracts, the Gomery inquiry heard yesterday [April 8.] Former Groupaction Marketing employee Alain Renaud said that two years later Chretien's brother Gabriel personally set up meetings for him with a senior PMO staffer and top Liberal officials in a bid to open the floodgates of federal contracts.

Renaud, who was hired by Groupaction founder Jean Brault to bring in federal contracts in 1994, added to his former boss' explosive testimony about the fallout from secret donations made to key Liberals.

Renaud testified to the amounts paid, which he said added up to about $50,000, and how his expectations were fulfilled.
Renaud said he would complain to Michel Beliveau, the Liberal Party's former Quebec president, if the flow of contracts stopped.

He said Beliveau would call Chretien's then chief-of-staff Jean Pelletier about the complaint.

"I saw Mr. Beliveau call Mr. Pelletier directly in his (Beliveau's) office," Renaud said under questioning from Roy. "I never saw Mr. Beliveau speaking about a specific contract, but he spoke to the PMO regularly."

Roy asked: "How did you get confirmation that your messages were understood and were followed up on?"

Renaud replied: "When the contracts came in quickly."

Renaud credited Beliveau's influence with Pelletier for landing Groupaction Canadian Grand Prix contracts in 1998 worth a total of $1.3 million. (Bolding added.)

It doesn't take a genius to suspect that corruption is a communicable disease and to re-focus attention on previous instances of public money that went missing due to a variety of excuses that seemed to finger poor bookkeeping practices and ineptitude -- in short, to blame the civil servants employed in those ministries -- and go hmmm and pose like the incomparable Arsenio Hall.

Greg Weston is connecting some dots:

Now for the bad news: Adscam is likely just a puddle in a far wider, deeper and dirtier cesspool of corruption involving potentially billions of dollars in government programs unrelated to the sponsorship fiasco.

[...]

It is a huge amount of money. In the same time the Liberal government squandered $250 million on the sponsorship program, over $800 million was spent on federal ad programs.

As it happened, a pile of that cash went directly into the coffers of the same Quebec ad firms involved in Adscam.

Were palms greased and favours granted? Hmmm.

Weston notes that the federal government hands out millions of dollars in contracts and the potential for corruption is immense. The largest fraking red flag lies in this paragraph:
In one case that emerged at Gomery this week, Groupaction president Brault described how a $100,000 bribe got the firm over $5 million in contracts with the federal Justice Department.

According to the AG, in 1998, Justice officials were not happy with work being done by Groupaction and wanted to re-tender the contract. The retendering process began, but suddenly "was halted without explanation, and Groupaction was retained until mid-2002" after getting another $5.4 million in contracts.

What really happened, according to Brault, was he had asked Liberal Party bagman Joe Morselli to see if anything could be done to help Groupaction keep the contract in 1999. The two men met one day in Montreal, Brault testified, and Morselli told him: "$100,000 and your problem is solved."

Brault said he slipped the first $50,000 to Morselli at a spaghetti dinner, and never got around to paying the second instalment before the sponsorship scandal erupted in 2002.

The Justice Department. Somewhere, John Mitchell is smiling.

Weston discusses the $1,000,000,000 that has been spent on the "useless gun registry" and reminds us

In one case, a Sun investigation almost two years ago revealed Groupaction billed the feds hundreds of thousands of dollars for gun registry work that no one seems to remember being done. The firm is now facing criminal charges related to those contracts.
Two websites have come to my attention of late:

Alberta's Voice with an especial note to read their Scandals page, and
Law-abiding Unregistered Firearms Association (LUFA) which also lists some of the scandals since the Liberals took power in 1993. (People may remember that the Liberal government blamed those fighting the registry for it's high costs and cited the need to run advertisements in support of the registry.)

The Alberta's Voice scandal page reminds us that funding for the HRDC program spiked just before, and just after, the 1997 election. There were accusations that those who got jobs through the program were primarily family members of civil servants and Liberal party volunteers. Hmmm.

It appears that the health care system, once a source of deserved pride, was also manipulated by those who were supposed to be maintaining it. Weston writes

Ad exec Jean Lambert testified that his spouse, Sylvie Cloutier, had won a competitive bid for a $200,000 Health Canada contract in 1994. Instead, she was forced to run the work through Lafleur Communications, a firm now at the centre of Adscam.

The Gomery commission was told Cloutier was forced to pay Lafleur $50,000 to do nothing but pass along her invoices to the government.

So all the extra money pumped into the health care system went ... where again?

[A quick comment on Alberta's Voice - I really recommend you write you own letters rather than copy and paste any form letter. Their examples provide a good reminder of the talking points you might want to address, but sincerity counts the most in any endeavour, and the numbers of sincerely outraged taxpayers is what directs political and institutional change.]

Captain's Quarters is already on election watch and it appears that at least one Liberal in Alberta is thinking about jumping ship - MP David Kilgour. He also covers recent poll figures which I'm avoiding (I live in Toronto and have little faith in the common sense of the voters of this town. I'm just saying ...)

As I've stated before, an election is not going to solve anything. It's the structure of how the government approves spending - and the lack of whistleblower protection - that is all wrong and provides an open invitation to corruption. Andrew Coyne summed it up succinctly in Trust Us:

"All we have to say is 'We won't steal your money'," the Conservative stalwart said...

[...]

What this member of the public wants to hear is: Don't trust us. You don't have to. Here are the specific things we'll do to ensure that you don't have to trust us -- because this kind of thing will be impossible.

That's what I too want to hear because I don't trust anyone with my money, which what I view tax dollars to be and, quite frankly, is how you should view that amorphous mass called "government money."

(Links from the Ottawa Sun and National Post via Neale News who should bookmarked by every blogger and checked several times a day by newshounds.)

10:20 Tom Brodbeck of the Winnepeg Sun points to another instance wherein the Prime Minister of Canada assumed powers above those of Parliament:

[Former Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray] ... was given a patronage appointment to head the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy by Martin, even though he's completely unqualified for the position.

His appointment was rejected by a Commons standing committee. And this past week, Parliament voted to rescind Murray's appointment. A majority of democratically elected MPs voted against the appointment. Yet, Martin's appointment stands.

So much for democracy.

Murray was grilled by a Commons standing committee and he revealed how pathetically unqualified he is for the job.

He even acknowledged his shortcomings and apologized to the committee for them.

The House of Commons rejected Murray's appointment by a vote of 143-108.

But junior Environment Minister Bryon Wilfert said Murray will keep his job anyway.

"The position of the prime minister stands absolutely," said Wilfert. "The house has voted after the fact. ..

Then why hold a vote? And, if it was intended to have been a rubber-stamping exercise and Parliament revolted, why didn't they do something principled when they learned they had been ignored, like walk out or express their displeasure to the press?

This country drives me nuts.

15:48: Brodbeck column linked. Sorry!

Posted by Debbye at 05:54 AM | Comments (5)

American women win hockey gold

Apr. 10 - The 2005 world championship game between the Canadian and American women's hockey teams was scoreless in regulation and overtime so the matter was settled in what the writer refers to as a "questionable way" to win and what others of us (on our mild days) call "unsporting and fraking ugly" -- a stupid shootout.

Canada had won 8 consectuive titles and the U.S. had a run of silver until this championship tournament.

There was one cool note in the story:

Kazakhstan upset Russia 2-1 in the relegation game, sending the Russians to the second-tier or world women's B championship in 2007.
Heh.

Posted by Debbye at 05:42 AM | Comments (7)

April 08, 2005

Kinsella meeting with Ontario govt. Cabinet may have constituted a conflict of interest

Apr. 8 - This is curious - Alan Findlay writes today that the Ontario Cabinet met with lobbyist Warren Kinsella in what at best might be construed as incredibly (as in unbelievably) poor timing:

THE ONTARIO government came under fire yesterday after admitting that a paid lobbyist met with cabinet shortly before the bill he was hired to influence was steered away from legislative debate. Progressive Conservative critic Bob Runciman said the government is caught in a major conflict of interest by having party strategist Warren Kinsella meet with cabinet while also lobbying them on proposed legislation.

Premier Dalton McGuinty said Kinsella had nothing to do with any policy discussion with cabinet.

"I can assure you that Mr. Kinsella did not in any way, shape or form broach that particular topic of Bill 133," said McGuinty, referring to the environmental bill that Kinsella is being paid to lobby against.

"Trust Us." I can't think of a worse day on which any government would base their denial of wrongdoing on that pitiful phrase.

A quick google brought up the web page for the Bill 133 which the Ontario government describes as distinguishing between fines levied in the events of spills, etc., and penalties which would, among others things, place at least part of the financial burden for clean-up and restoration on the shoulders of the companies from which the spills originated.

This page confirms that Kinsella has been hired to lobby against the bill and by which companies.

I can't prove that Kinsella spoke about Bill 133 when he met with Cabinet, but McGuinty's routine dismissal of the accusation is hardly reassuring.

Posted by Debbye at 06:12 PM | Comments (5)

The Hell's Angels strike back

Apr. 8 - Pirate Paul Martin! (move your mouse onto the picture to read the article and your mouse off the article to view the picture.)

Can't really argue their point!

Posted by Debbye at 05:45 PM | Comments (0)

The news Canadians trust

Apr. 8 - This past week has been strange. When much of the print and live news media was focused on the Pope's funeral, Canadian bloggers were weighing the risks of breaking a publication ban, and we had renewed appreciation of the term Kafkaesque because it was unclear as to what factors would determine if we had broken the ban.

It didn't occur to me until I read Larry's Drinking in the Sand to wonder where Munuviana is hosted (but I don't think it's the USA although it is offshore) but I have also posted to Television Without Pity forums (does that constitute a conflict of interest?) and I'm not sure where it is hosted either - although I know at least one of the moderators is in Manitoba.

I know where I am hosted and I know where my ISP is hosted, and although the publication ban might have provided some wiggle room in terms of site location, I would assume that using a Canadian-based ISP through which to post would constitute violation of the ban.

I decided that my biggest risk was deportation, and I also knew it was unlikely the US government would support me were I placed in a legal battle because it expects me to obey the laws of the country in which I reside.

I decided that the risk of deportation was minimal compared to the risk of my children living - and paying taxes - in a kleptocracy.

I decided that the publication ban inadvertantly (and I really mean that - Judge Gomery has struck me as a man of integrity) hindered the ability of the Opposition to function in Parliament.

Most importantly, I decided that the risk of deportation was minimal compared to the risk of underestimating the intelligence, common sense and skepticism inherent in the average Canadian and that the better option was - wait for it - to trust the people of this good country.

I also know that I finally got a decent night's sleep after the publication ban was lifted - so decent that I overslept and missed work which enabled me to watch the retro broadcasts of Brault's testimony on CPAC.

It was very awkward to try to explain why so I thought it vital to break the publication ban without divulging the contents of the testimony which had been put under the publication ban. I didn't even try - I just posted the links to Captain's Quarters, although in retrospect I should have put a "Not safe" warning up for people with high blood pressure, heart problems, or currently doing up their tax returns.

I trust that everyone now understands why some of us decided that violating the publication ban was in the public interest, and also why it was important that not everyone violate the ban - after all, who would be left to cut through the media spin to expose the vile corruption that seems to be inherent in the Liberal party were we all in jail or deprived of internet access?

My hope is that the people who read the posts at Captain's Quarters are now placed beyond the reach of Liberal party spin doctors because as Kate's post makes clear, there is plenty of reason to suspect that the CBC leads that spin.

I also hope that, as retro-coverage of Jean Brault's tesimony last week played last night on CPAC and blasted the front pages of the print media today, people who discovered blogs this past week have also learned that the internet has made primary research much easier.

The Gomery Commission has a web site, and the transcripts from the hearings are also online in English and in French in Abobe format (.pdf)

People can use the internet to read posts about Buffy&Angel 4Eva!!!! or to read transcripts and the India Times. Like everything in this world, the power of the internet can be used for good, for ill, or for irreverence. It's up to the individual.

Posted by Debbye at 04:08 PM | Comments (5)

April 07, 2005

Restoring Ethics to Canadian sensibilities

Apr. 7 - The Captain has posted portions of the the CTV summary and is doing some fact checking -- comparing the information he received from his source to what is going up the CTV site.

Before we go further, I would like to tell you all about something known as a Tipjar. It's located right under the "Official Blogger" button and is a white box that says "Make a Donation." Captain Ed hasn't said, but I suspect the heavy traffic generated by his Adscam reports exceeded his bandwidth and has cost him money, so each of us should give him something if only as a token of our thanks for all he has done. Okay?

Back to Adscam.

The Capt'n makes a point which says much about some of what led to Adscam:

Under cross examination, a lawyer for the Liberals suggested Brault didn't really know if some of his payments ended up in Liberal coffers. Brault agreed with that, saying 'You're right."
Well, perhaps the attorney representing the Liberals on the cross-examination felt he scored a point. However, when political appointees demand cash from a government contractor, either the money is for themselves or their party -- and either way, it's corruption.
The attorney representing the Liberals probably doesn't, in fact, realize that very thing. Ethics rank lower than scoring a point.

And that's where the work need to begin - to stop shrugging and saying "everyone does it" but to press for reforms that will end - or at least minimize - institutionalized theft, to decentralize power so that those elected to represent their ridings are actually able do so.

Chretien's legacy is still under advisement, but the stench he left behind remains. It's about the cynicism, civil service promotions on the basis of who you know rather than how well you do your job, trips abroad to study brothels and red light districts, and golfballs.

It will be easy to sit back and hope that somebody else does it, but it don't work like that. If you've never written a letter or visited your MP's site before, now is the time (even if you are represented by a Liberal.) Let them know how sick and tired you are, and demand changes. (Just don't believe anyone who promises to fix the democratic deficit.)

Send the Liberals further into panic mode, and demand the Conservatives come up with something better than criticizing the Liberals.

That's how I see it, anyway. Good night.

Oh wait, the Globe and Mail report must have popped up after I left their site (link via Angry in the Great White North, who will probably be going full steam this evening so be sure and check him often.)

A shorter article is up at the CNews here noting this from that article: Brault said he circumvented Quebec election rules in 1996 to funnel at least $100,000 to the Parti Quebecois when Lucien Bouchard was premier.

Posted by Debbye at 02:46 PM | Comments (2)

That publication ban -- lifted!

Apr. 7 - I meant to sleep, honest. But I'm watching CBC Newsworld (along with a long of bloggers, I'll wager) and readying my rebel yell.

Here goes: Judge Gomery says that it is in the public interest that Brault's and Guite's testimony, with a few exceptions, be lifted.

Judge Gomery cites a precedent which says the jury may not be able to distinguish between what impressions they had before the trial and what they hear as evidence in the trial, which is why the ban will stay on a few items which were testified to in the inquiry.

14:15 CBC Newsworld is already airing their coverage of Brault's testimony, and it's already on their web site here.

Oh lord, CBC has Jim Travers on.

Question Period has begun in the House of Commons. McKay was strong, McClellan was shrill. Everyone seems charged! (maybe not everyone ...)

The Conservative Party website has a web page dedicated to the Gomery Inquiry which might balance out the CBC spin.

CTV coverage of Brault's testimony is here.

Toronto Sun has coverage of the lifting of the ban.

I just realized I've never thanked Captain Ed! Thank you, sir, for standing up for the rights of free people and their right to know what their government is doing.

Let freedom ring!

Posted by Debbye at 02:09 PM | Comments (1)

David Ahenakew

Apr. 7 - I've been meaning to post about the hate speech trial of David Ahenakew, former senator and member of the Order of Canada who publicly stated that Jews started WWII and are a "disease." The explanation the defense has offered is that Ahenakew is a victim of medical, chemical and alcohol problems.

I'm losing the ability to comment rationally on things like this and a really loud yell doesn't go across the internet so well.

Bob, however, has covered it and with considerable style.

Posted by Debbye at 01:41 PM | Comments (2)

NY Times names Captain Ed

Apr. 7 - From the NY Times: A Blog Written From Minneapolis Rattles Canada's Liberal Party (free registration may be required):

An American blogger has suddenly emerged as a force in Canadian politics.

Edward Morrissey, a 42-year-old Minneapolis area call-center manager who runs a Web log, or blog, called Captain's Quarters as a hobby, last Saturday began posting allegations of corruption that reached the highest levels of the Canadian Liberal Party. The postings violate a publication ban instituted a few days earlier by a federal judge, Justice John Gomery, who is leading an investigation into accusations of money laundering and kickbacks in a government program from the 1990's that was aimed at undermining Quebec separatists.

[...]

While the Canadian news media have not reported explicitly what Mr. Morrissey is posting, their newspaper articles and television features about his work have led Canadians to visit Captain's Quarters (www.captainsquartersblog.com) to read the latest scandalous details. Mr. Morrissey said his blog had been flooded since Canadian CTV television first reported on its existence and contents Sunday night, and that he was now getting 400,000 hits a day.

And yes, that is a hyperlink to Captain's Quarters embededed in the third to the last paragraph from the full text of the article.

I get the Times headlines by email daily. I usually go to the International News page, scan it, and then click on All Headlines .

What would be the legal ruling now, given the hyperlink in the article?

I'm not the only person up here who gets the NY Times emailed.

Good call for Jay Currie, who speculated on this very point a while ago. (Make that 2 days ago. Right.)

Posted by Debbye at 12:47 PM | Comments (0)

Gomery and Adscam and Liberals, oh my!

Apr. 7 - The Grits are running out of straw men persons. First the Sponsorship Program was a clever ploy to save Canada from the separatist threat (which was marred a little by some thievin' Quebeckers,) but when it became a fully-fledged scandal it was a "rogue group of civil servants," which progressed to Chretien's golf-balls and now it's all about the evil machinations of some shadowly parallel group of Liberal party members which is just pretending to be part of the Liberal Party (which would mean, I guess, that Chretien only pretended to be the controlling despot he was said to have been.) Yesterday, Martin responded to the grilling by the CPC and BQ by accusing them of being in league to break up Canada so we're back to where they started: wrapping themselves in the flag to defend stealing millions of dollars from tax payers.

Yesterday's column by Greg Weston exposed that Groupaction was an equal opportunity kickback firm: they paid off the Parti Quebecois in return for a contract for the province when the PQ was in power in Quebec - thereby helping to fund the PQ in their bid to lead Quebec to separate from Canada.

Groupaction had also taken money from the federal government to prevent separation. The editorial in today's Toronto Sun says In other words, the Liberal sponsorship program, aside from being unethical, was also incompetent. That is a point that needs to be repeatedly stressed, lest the betrayal of Canada by Groupaction become the focus instead of the Liberal Party (and Parti Quebecois) which hired them.

Greg Weston reports that the Liberals have even lost the votes of the Toronto chapter of the Hell's Angels (that's just got to hurt) and the latest twist:

If any of the $250 million in sponsorship money paid to ad agencies was ultimately bound for Liberal party coffers, the Grits said, it never got there.

As the party's lawyer Doug Mitchell told reporters in Montreal: "The Quebec wing was $3 million in debt. This is hardly in keeping with assertions that the party was receiving substantial benefit through inappropriate means."

In other words, someone must have stolen some of the stolen sponsorship loot stolen from taxpayers.

After apparently pondering all this over tea with Alice and the Mad Hatter, the Liberal party decided to call in the Mounties to investigate what seems to be a case of kickback double-cross.

The BQ has rushed to defend the PQ and is denying that the PQ ever received a kickback from Groupaction and claims that Groupaction never even got the contract for which they allegedly paid the PQ. Weston swings back, saying that the contract in question was indeed given to Groupaction:
As we reported yesterday, Alain Renaud, a senior executive who worked for the ad firm Groupaction during the Adscam years, claims that while the company was getting $43 million in sponsorship funds, it was slipping thousands of dollars to the PQ.

In one deal, Renaud says, Groupaction paid about $90,000 to the PQ in return for a $4.5-million advertising contract with the Quebec liquor board, the SAQ.

The PQ, of course, went berserk over the story, denying it with separatist vigour. Groupaction had actually lost the bid for the liquor board contract in late 1998, the party insisted. Too bad Renaud was talking about Groupaction's contract from 1996-97.

And how is the Opposition handling the opportunity to have a specific talking point that can legally be brought up during Question Period?
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper made the perfectly sensible point that since "hundreds of thousands of tax dollars may have been funnelled through the Liberal sponsorship program to the Parti Quebecois, I guess the Keystone Crooks stole the money and gave it to the wrong people."

Harper asked, could the PM "guarantee Canadian taxpayers that not one red cent of their money went to the separatist cause in Quebec in the name of national unity?"

Keith looks at Weston's revelations and makes some very shrewd conclusions about the BQ's motives.

Laurent has prepared a Guide to the Sponsorship Program and resurrects Tony Clement's proposals as examples of what kind of solutions might be proposed.

Finally, someone looking at the issues under the issue! I believe that an entire series of reforms are needed, starting in patronage appointment practices, enacting protection for whistleblowers, reforming the Senate and judicial appointments, and, not by any means least, the need to return to Parliament those powers which Chretien moved into the Prime Minister's Office.

Don't go to the polls until some concrete reforms are ready to present to the voters.

And as to the RCMP investigtion? They always get their bagman

Andrew Coyne sets the scene:

Situation Room, RCMP Special Investigations Unit
First briefing for those who will investigate the fraud which has victimized the Liberal Party.

… No, don’t get up. And you can cut out the salutes, too. For this kind of operation, you’re going to have to forget all about that stuff. Now, we’ve been given a mission, the likes of which I can’t recall seeing in thirty years on the force. We’ve been told that a group of individuals, posing as members of the Liberal Party of Canada, have been soliciting contributions to the party in exchange for promises of federal contracts. It is further alleged that these individuals, though wholly unconnected with the party, then absconded with the cash -- money that rightfully belonged to the party. I’m sure you can see the seriousness of this matter. At least, that’s one theory we’re working on. The other is that certain other individuals promised to pay the party sums of money in exchange for federal contracts, but never delivered on their half of the bargain. All we know at this point is that the party has been the victim of a massive fraud. How do we know this? Because the party told us so, and as you know, that’s always been good enough for us. ..
The RCMP may not be the best choice, though, because in January, 2004, the RCMP admitted it lost millions of dollars worth of equipment it had purchased for the G-8 conference in June, 2002, in Kananaskis and shrugged it off with the old standby oh well, sometimes these things happen.

Judge Gomery is expected to rule today on whether to lift the publication ban on Brault's testimony. If he does lift it, the information that comes out might affect the public mood and the Opposition parties might decide that the time is right to force an election. If he doesn't, the Liberals gain some breathing room. The first possibility allows the parties to choose to exercise their Parliamentary option, and the second hinders them, another unintentional consequence of the ban.

Actually, I hope they wait for the Gomery Inquiry to conclude and present its findings. Then the Conservative Party can go to work and come up with solutions to offer the Canadian voter, as I said above. Nevertheless, it is only right that they have that option.

The Toronto Sun story on the ban has a telephone interview with Renaud:

Gomery will hear today from Alain Renaud, a consultant who was paid $1.1 million to lobby for federal contracts. He said it's thanks to his contacts with key Liberals that sponsorship floodgates opened after 1996.

"I began from zero and took (Brault) to the highest summits," Renaud said in a phone interview yesterday.

Renaud said that had he only lobbied public servants in charge of handing out advertising and sponsorship contracts at public works, "I'm not sure that we would have reached those summits."

Renaud said he took advice from Chuck Guite to get close to key Liberals to heart: "So the mix of both politics and public servants worked."

Renaud said he was let go when Brault handed Guite a consultant contract in the fall of 2000. "I introduced all those people to Brault and I was pushed aside," Renaud said.

Guite, the Big Bad. Didn't he used to sleep in Chretien's basemen?

Aha, Captain Ed that Minneapolis guy is at it again.

Kathy has a suggestion for a banner, but I kind of like the phrase she's taken to opening her posts about the site that dare not speak it's name: The first rule of the fight club ...

Kate keeps on punching: A Tale of Two Accountants

More people are Standing Up for a True North Strong and Free:

Canadian Speaker, a non-blogger who opened a blog just to put up the proscribed link.
The Last Amazon
Strong World
A Voice for Freedom

Yay! Dust My Broom already has compiled a huge list of canaries Check it out (so I can get some sleep!)

Posted by Debbye at 08:30 AM | Comments (2)

April 06, 2005

Jalal Talabani chosen as Iraq's intermin president

Apr. 6 - Iraq took another step toward consensual government: the Iraqi Parliament has elected Jalal Talabani as Iraq's Interim President (see BBC profile.)

Two vice-presidents were also elected: a Shiite, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, and current interim President Ghazi al-Yawera, a Sunni Arab.

Talabani is to be sworn into office on Thursday.

Aside from electing the prime minister, the president's post is largely ceremonial. Talabani and his two vice presidents — known collectively as the presidential council — are supposed to "represent the sovereignty of Iraq and oversee the higher affairs of the country," according to the interim constitution.

[...]

The Kurdish-led coalition in parliament won 75 of the 275 seats in the Jan. 30 elections. Kurds make up 20 percent of the country's 26 million people; Shiites make up 60 percent and the Sunni Arabs are roughly 15 percent to 20 percent.

Human Rights Minister Bakhtiyar Amin told The Associated Press that lawmakers had asked that Saddam and other jailed members of his former government be shown the process.

"There will be televisions there, and they will be seeing it today," he said.

(Sorry, I just had to include that last bit. It makes me grin.)

The Iraq government has a lot of work to do. I see the advantages and disadvantages of living in a country with sharp, distinctive ethnic sensibilities, but the biggest disadvantage might be the ease with which one ethnic group can be made the scapegoats by another ethnic group when something like a corruption scandal erupts. I guess the real test is if they can make common cause to deal with the issues or get distracted with accusations and counter-accusations that don't really touch on the problems.

(I'm channeling a bit, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong!)

Dealing with anti-Iraqi forces will also be a huge, on-going concern. On Tuesday, an Iraqi soldier was beheaded (timing, anyone?) and the video was put up on the internet. Dr. Rusty covers the horror on behalf of all of us who can still be enraged by these atrocities.

Posted by Debbye at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

PQ also got kickbacks

Apr. 6 - Greg Weston has dropped a bombshell: he writes that the separatist Parti Quebecois got kickbacks, too. This was revealed to Sun Media by senior executives and the column quotes from one of them who wishes to remain anonymous as he is due to testify before the Gomery Inquiry next week.

A MONTREAL advertising firm that received more than $40 million in AdScam sponsorship contracts paid huge kickbacks to both the federal Liberal party and the Quebec separatists, senior executives of the company have told Sun Media. "I remember seeing the cheques," one former Groupaction executive said of payments to the federal Liberal party in Quebec.

[...]

The $250 million in sponsorships that the previous Liberal government pumped into Quebec was supposed to help fight the separatists after the near-miss referendum in 1995.

But another former Groupaction executive, Alain Renaud, said that while the firm was getting millions of dollars in federal sponsorship money, it was secretly cutting cheques to the separatist Parti Quebecois.

Renaud said that in one transaction, a total of about $90,000 was given to the PQ as part of Groupaction's getting a $4.5-million advertising contract for the Quebec liquor board, called the SAQ.

Groupaction apparently won the contract in a competition when a bagman for the Parti Quebecois had a meeting with the firm's top executives.

One of those executives told Sun Media: "The bagman came by and said: 'Well, you won the bid, and all that's needed now is a signature, and the documents are on the minister's desk to be signed, and it's going to cost you fifty grand.' "

Renaud recalled about $45,000 a year in donations were to be paid to the PQ for two years.

The money was funnelled through individual Groupaction employees to circumvent Quebec law, which prohibits corporate political contributions.

Were there earlier allegations that the PQ received Sponsorship money? (I could easily have missed it during bouts of work-related marathons.) If proven to be true, this will shake Quebec provincial politics to the roots.

Update: Poor wording on my part. There have been no allegations that the PQ received Sponsorship money, period.

Posted by Debbye at 09:31 AM | Comments (2)

McClellan Spinning Time (updated)

Apr. 6 - Here's one example of how the CBC chooses to present facts: U.S. will demand passports from Canadians.

"Demand!" Yeah, those nasty friggin' Yankees!

WASHINGTON - In response to a new rule requiring most Canadians to carry passports for entry into the U.S., Public Security Minister Anne McLellan said Americans may also have to carry the document to enter Canada.
You go girl! (Okay, not exactly "demand" calibre, but it sounds like a bit of tit-for-tat, right?)
"Our system has really always worked on the basis of reciprocity," McLellan said outside the House of Commons.

"And therefore we will review our requirements for American citizens and we're going to do that in collaboration with the United States.

"There's no point in either of us going off in a direction without working together to determine how best we can facilitate the flow – a free flow – and movement of low-risk individuals."

McLellan's comments come as the U.S. State Department announced that by 2007, most Canadians will need a passport to enter the United States.

CBC finally gets to the real circumstances on the sixth paragraph:
And by 2008, most Americans who visit Canada won't be able to re-enter their country without a passport.

The new rules will still allow Canadians to enter the United States without being fingerprinted. The U.S. demands a fingerprint from all other foreign visitors now.

The tighter security will be implemented first between the U.S. and Caribbean countries, then along the U.S.-Mexican border and finally between the U.S. and Canada.

It is likely to start at airports, then spread to land crossings.

As I wrote yesterday on this matter, passport requirements were mandated in 2004 in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act. It's going to be inconvenient for everyone, not just Canadians, but I wonder if the vital justification in the sixth paragraph of the item will be heard before people express their outrage.

(Link via Neale News.)

12:11 Here is the link to the 2005 Report of the Auditor-General of Canada on National Security which reads much like the last report, come to think of it. It appears there has been no improvement in passport checks either (although the fees were raised citing the addition of security features as the reason.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:42 AM | Comments (4)

More links about that testimony (continuously updated)

Tiananmen Square.jpg
1989

Apr. 6 - To people reading blogs for the first time, please realize that when we write cautions about unverified stories it's not some kind of wink wink nod nod thing at all: we really mean it and assume readers are canny enough to recognize that there is going to be both fact and error in these accounts and to suspend final judgement until the publication ban is lifted and the actual transcript is made available.

Onward.

Captain Ed has a french translation of what is said to have been Gault's testimony.

Update 09:30: Greg Weston of the Toronto Sun reports that the Parti Quebecois also received kickbacks from Groupaction, one of the advertising agencies named in the scandal. /update

Free Will has a lengthy point-by-point and fairly detailed account of what may have been heard in the inquiry - again, with the caution that the author cannot verify the accuracy of the report.

11:54: Kate re-prints a missive from The Black Rod which has a year-by-year account of Ascam disclosures from 1997-2000 which, as she notes, "is from sources that were publicly available prior to the publication ban on Brault's testimony at the Gomery Inquiry." The impact of seeing it arranged chronologically (and knowing that the years 1993-1996 and 2000-2003 are not included) give some idea of the daunting scope of this scandal. If I remember everything correctly, the first confirmation that Groupaction gave money directly to finance the Liberal Party was March 18, and there has been an election since [2000.] As Kate would say, grab a coffee and read. /update

Shiny Happy Gulag has written about an imaginary country and the imagined testimony at an imaginary ... you get the idea. Only in Pas-Ceci, you say? Pity. It is probably even legal because it doesn't contain any links, proscribed or otherwise.

The publication ban led the Washington Post's Media Notes yesterday. Howard Kurtz compared the publication ban to those imposed by "dictatorships cracking down on Internet news to maintain censorship as tightly as possible." and points to what is one of the basic differences between attitudes in Canada and the U.S.: "... our democratic neighbor to the north, which lacks a First Amendment and has a somewhat narrower view of press freedom, is cracking down on an American blogger for reporting on a corruption investigation that apparently has to do with advertising contracts being steered to politically connected firms."

Kurtz only reports on the controversy and doesn't provide any details on Brault's testimony, so is safe to read. He quotes extensively from (and links to) Captain Ed's explanation as to why he felt it important to publish his piece and to the Globe and Mail.

12:40 - There's a CNews item about some guy named Ed Morrissey of Minneapolis who "published banned testimony on the internet".

Jean Brault's trial has been re-scheduled for June, not September as the defense had requested, so the publication ban will likely remain. /update

Claudia Rossett writes about The Truth in today's Opinion Journal and ties the demonstrators in Lebanon with the demonstrators in Tiananmen Square back in 1989. The connection? A desire for the truth.

(Kurtz link via Neala News.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:53 AM | Comments (1)

April 05, 2005

Border crossing rules tightened

Apr. 5 - Americans re-entering the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, Panama and Bermuda will require a passport or other valid travel document and Canadians will require a passport to enter the U.S. These new procedures are to be phased in by 2008. This is to be announced at a press briefing this afternoon.

The announcement of the briefing at the Dept. of State web page notes that

The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 mandated that the U.S. Secretaries of Homeland Security and State develop and implement a plan to require U.S. citizens and foreign nationals to present a passport or other appropriate secure identity and citizenship document when entering the United States. This is a change from prior travel requirements. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative will implement this law.
In a closely related issue, the Real ID Act which was introduced in January, 2005, passed in the House but has languished since in the Senate.

According to House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.) who introduced the legislation, it is intended "to address the use of a driver's license as a form of identification to a federal official" by "establishing a uniform rule for all states that temporary driver’s licenses for foreign visitors expire when their visa terms expire, and establishing tough rules for confirming identity before temporary driver’s licenses are issued."

The argument that passing this legislation puts responsibility for immigration control on the states isn't really valid as there are already requirements to prove age and driving ability before licenses are granted so proof of status would be only another requirement; besides, each license already has a date of expiry, but I dislike bills which are promoted under the guise of fighting terrorism when their real intent is to deal with another, unaddressed issue.

Posted by Debbye at 01:12 PM | Comments (3)

Brault testimony, Part II

Apr. 5 - I finally and completely understand why Canada has not produced a Dr. King or a Henry David Thoreau. Every blogger up here has only one decision to make: will you fight for liberty? This is an act of civil disobedience, not armed insurrection, for crying out loud. The threat to charge those of us who published certain links, such as the second post in a series about Jean Brault's testimony before the Gomery Inquiry - The Martin Connection, must be met with only one response: Bring. It. On. I mean it. Let's drop the gloves once and for all and get some earnest debate up here about liberty and inherent human rights.

People around the world are being killed in their struggles for freedom and I'm almost ashamed that the worst I face is the loss of some money and, horrors! inconvenience.

Joe Katzman puts Adscam, the publication ban, the power of the blogosphere and some analysis of the choices the Liberal Party must make here. Must read for Americans and Canadians.

If I tried to list the outpourings of posts from Angry in the Great White North and small dead animals I'd never publish, so just start in and read.

Stepping back for a second, I don't believe an election will solve anything. A change in government will be fruitless unless there are substantial changes in the way the patronage system is allowed to bleed taxpayers by rewarding favours with government positions and civil service reforms are enacted. Addendum And what about fiscal accountability, including for those foundations which receive grants from the government but are not subject to audited reviews on that money?

All power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.

There are another thing consideration which would make Canada look beyond stupid. As Andrew Coyne put it, should the publication ban remain and an election be called, We would then be treated to a sight I venture to say has never before been witnessed anywhere in the world: an entire election devoted to an issue that no one is allowed to say anything about..

Standing Up for a True North Strong and Free:

Angry in the Great White North
Autonomous Source
Dust my Broom
Girl on the Right
Italics Mine
Minority of One
News Junkie Canada
The Politic
Relapsed Catholic
small dead animals

(I may have missed some web loggers and haven't outed anyone who hasn't had the links up for some time. Let me know if you want to be removed or added on.)

Sometimes Faltering Lips can be a good thing. When the time comes, perhaps we all will say I am Spartacus!

Honourable better-late-than-never Mentions for Jane Taber of the Globe and Mail and the CBC (get url for Real Player broadcast here.)

(Part I is here, if you are late to this Tea Party.)

13:02: Jay found this Very pointed satire which brings a whole new meaning to the concept of thought crimes.

Posted by Debbye at 09:23 AM | Comments (10)

If the shoe fits ...

day by day 04-05-2005.gif

Day by Day by Chris Muir (with thanks to Jay for the pointer.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:04 AM | Comments (5)

There's freedom afoot ...

Apr. 5 - Go to Nealenews for some excellent links (I'll be linking and writing later, but why wait for me? Just git!)

Posted by Debbye at 08:59 AM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2005

Canadians: Linking to CQ May Be Good For Your Freedom

Apr. 4 - Those looking for the link to Captain Ed's item on Brault's secret testimony before the Gomery Inquiry have been given a bit of a helping hand by the Canadian media.

CTV carried the story but wimped out completely and pulled their story entirely (before I could read it) rather than edit out the name of the blog, blogger, and Canadian news service that carried the link (and from which I got it yesterday.) Jane Taber of the Globe and Mail published the story of the leak on an unspecified American blog and publicized by an unspecified news service (and rendered the Good Captain into an "anonymous blogger",) and Stephanie Rubec had a similar article in the London Free Press and Toronto Sun without mentioning specific names and site addresses (the story may well be in all Sun Media newspapers, but I followed the LPF link from Capt. Ed and have checked only the Toronto Sun on my own thus far.)

Captain Ed warns Canadian bloggers that linking to CQ may be bad for your democracy but I disagree - it's good for your democracy, and there are a lot of Canadians who are voicing their agreement by following the results of their web searches.

Freedom is precious, and many have died to preserve that freedom. If people aren't willing to fight and sacrifice for their freedom then they don't deserve it.

Angry in T.O. is, um, angrier, and is standing tall, and I've only just learned that Kate proved her mettle yesterday.

Why violate the publication ban and risk legal action? Asked and answered in a follow-up post by Angry in the Great White North.

As for me, as I noted in a response to a comment yesterday, every Canadian who pays federal taxes is a victim of the fraud and theft perpetuated by the Sponsorship grants and possibly by the Liberal Party.

They didn't commit crimes against or steal money from the government. The government has no money except what it deducts from paychecks as well as the "surcharges" we pay when we file taxes, levies on businesses, and raises through an 8% tax on purchases.

They stole your money and my money - and each of us would be a plaintiff in this case and thus would be unable to qualify as jurors should the case ever come to trial.

Judge Gomery forgot that minor detail when he placed the publication ban on the testimony in order to guarantee a fair trial. I guess he and I have a fundamental disagreement on some basic concepts about government and tax money.

Posted by Debbye at 07:54 AM | Comments (8)

CTV wimps out on revelations about Brault's testimony

Apr. 4 - CTV interviewed the American blogger who wrote about the "secret" testimony of Jean Brault before the Gomery Inquiry into Adscam but pulled the article when they realized they could be committing a crime just by linking to Captain's Quarters.

Their timidity is all the more deserving of scorn in the wake of new information about the torture Canadian Zahra Kazemi endured before her death in an Iran prison for the dreadful crime of photographing those who were holding a vigil in June, 2003.

Zahra Kazemi died in defense of press freedoms in a totalitarian country and the CTV is too afraid to exercise freedom of the press in a democracy.

Shame and double shame.

Posted by Debbye at 07:46 AM | Comments (6)

April 03, 2005

John Dean comes to Canada

Apr. 3 - Imagine the outcry had the Watergate hearings been placed under a publication ban because some of those named faced criminal proceedings. It's a testimony to the American character that we conduct open reviews of scandals like Watergate and the Iran-Contra hearings even though it provides our enemies with a great deal of ammunition -- more than a lesser people could tolerate.

Canada put testimony in the Gomery Commission behind such a ban with nary a blush, piously citing privacy and legal concerns and knowing that the media outcry would rapidly subside as journalists shrug because it's the kind of repression they've come to expect but which they rarely name.

But make no mistake: the media blackout is repression of a free press and in too many ways exposes what is wrong with Canada.

Enter the Age of the Internet. Unsurprisingly, it seems some information may have trickled out and is available for the world, except Canadians, to read. Unless they dare.

Apr. 4 - 6:45 - Edited to add the link was via Neale News, which I omitted yesterday because I didn't want to be indirectly responsible for any ramifications of his courageous act. Needless to say, that particular cat is long out of the bag but Neale is still carrying the link. [12:21 - it's gone now and Neale is listing links to today's news.]

We must all hang together or assuredly we shall all hang separately.

Posted by Debbye at 01:46 PM | Comments (7)

Sandy Berger, Terry Nichols, and Ramzi Youssef

Apr. 3 - Sandy Berger's guilty plea to a lesser charge did not settle controversy because he retreated from the "honest mistake" defense and admitted he not only stole the documents but willfully destroyed them. The judge in the case did not ask Berger to explain his motives, in and of itself strange, and the sentence is light:

The charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of a year in prison and up to a $100,000 fine.

However, under a plea agreement that Robinson must accept, instead of jail, Berger would pay a $10,000 fine, surrender his security clearance for three years and cooperate with investigators. Security clearance allows access to classified government materials.

Three of the documents he stole were from an investigation into the 1999 plot to bomb the LA airport by Ressem, who was caught at the US-Canada border.

In a Classical Values post, Stop all this colturned digging!, Eric notes the clause by which Berger agrees to to cooperate and wonders co-operate in what investigation? and asks if there is any connection between Berger's co-operation and the recent news of the discovery of blasting caps and explosives in the crawl-space of Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols.

I'm quoting beyond what Eric cited from the same source:

FBI spokesman Jeff Lanza said the information that spurred the search indicated that "Nichols was responsible for hiding these devices."

Nichols and McVeigh, who was put to death for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing, used blasting caps, fertilizer and fuel to make the bomb.

McVeigh's trial lawyer, Stephen Jones, said he had known that some materials gathered for the attack were never located by the FBI and that this discovery could answer some of those questions.

Following up on Eric's questions about this article, I wonder exactly what information "spurred the search" and placed responsibility onto Nichols? I too am dubious that the FBI would have failed to search a crawl space, and think it possible that they did not release information of what they found there because there was more than explosive and blasting caps within.

Eric follows a long trail and poses some very provocative questions. Read the whole thing.

I'm extremely curious about the Canadian connection to this whole affair. If the documents which Berger stole were indeed relevant to both the plot to bomb LAX and to the Oklahoma City bombing and Nichols can be connected to Ramzi Youssef (connected to the 1993 WTC bombing) the implications for US-Canada relations could be staggering as there have been an increasing number of issues which have challenged the one time easy assumption of friendship between the two nations and a recent Iranian visitor to Canada makes me wonder if Canada is secretly helping the other side.

Maybe the Minute Man Project is patrolling the wrong border.

(CBC link via this post at lgf.)

Posted by Debbye at 01:00 PM | Comments (1)

A painful lesson

Apr. 3 - This may be the definitive essay on Terri Schiavo, the rule of law, and why I too love America.

Excellent read which defies excerpting and reminds us of not only who we are but how we have become so.

13:26 - There have been some new polls on the Schiavo case that posed the issues much more honestly with unsurprising (for me) results (via Michelle Malkin.)

Apr. 4 - 07:07: Jeff Jacoby agrees with Tuning Spork's conclusions.

Posted by Debbye at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)

Pope John Paul II 1920-2005

Pope John Paul II waves to pilgrims.jpg

Pope John Paul II waves to pigrims in Sept., 1989
CLAUDIO LUFFOLI/AP

Apr. 3 - There is absolutely nothing I can write that I would consider an appropriate tribute to this Pope. Such a tribute lies best in the hearts of the many of us who celebrate his life and mourn his passing.

There is something discomfitting about the death watches we have held - the one for Terri Schiavo was followed much too quickly by the one for the Pope. They are linked not only by time but by by content and although I am not a particularly religious person I can't avoid feeling that there is deep significance therein which I can barely grasp but trying to define it substantively still eludes me.

The obvious is that we should revere life in the infirm young and infirm old. We should not presume to play God but leave those things which are the province of God firmly in His hands.

Maybe it is about humility for the grace of the human spirit and awe for sustained endurance in the face of suffering on both physical and spiritual planes.

Parkinson's disease wracks the body with pain and disability, yet the Pope did not complain but instead resisted mediction to alleviate that pain because he believed his suffering brought him closer to our Lord. Most of us are unlikely to emulate his example but we cannot ignore it.

I find it disgusting that those who so recently disparaged efforts to save Terri Schiavo (including some despicable characterizations of her physical state) and spoke scornfully of the "religious right" cannot - or dare not - be so dismissive and disrespectful as the world marks the death of the man who spoke so fervently on behalf of the sanctity of life, who joined in the calls to let Terri live, and who led the Roman Catholic Church which, by it's continued opposition to contraception, abortion and homosexuality, stands somewhat to the right of those who have been so recently under attack.

Do those whose vicious words so recently attacked those of us who pled for mercy for Terri Schiavo recognize their hypocrisy as they remain silent or, worse, speak with feigned admiration of the Pope? Or do they believe their words of tribute sincere because they have been, by their own blindness, rendered incapable of seeing beyond their ideology to be struck with this unmistakable connection?

I don't support the Church's positions on homosexuality and contraception nor do I support wholly the Church's position on abortion (my personal belief of "a women's right to choose" is limited to the first 3 months and I expect sexually active women to use contraceptives.) But I am also not surprised that the Church adheres to those doctrines. As the lesson of Galileo's struggle with the Church demonstrates, the Church is implacable on matters of faith.

Yet despite my differences with the Church I found a revival of my religious leanings through this Pope, and believe that many people feel the same way. Charles Krauthammer addresses this:

I am not much of a believer, but I find it hard not to suspect some providential hand at play when the white smoke went up at the Vatican 27 years ago and the Polish cardinal was chosen to lead the Catholic Church. Precisely at the moment the West most desperately needed it, we were sent a champion. It is hard to remember now how dark those days were. The 15 months following the pope's elevation marked the high tide of Soviet communism and the nadir of the free world's post-Vietnam collapse.

[...]

And yet precisely at the time of this free-world retreat and disarray, a miracle happens. The Catholic Church, breaking nearly 500 years of tradition, puts itself in the hands of an obscure non-Italian -- a Pole who, deeply understanding the East European predicament, rose to become, along with Roosevelt, Churchill and Reagan, one of the great liberators of the 20th century.

This first ever Polish Pope transformed the world because
He demonstrated what Europe had forgotten and Stalin never knew: the power of faith as an instrument of political mobilization.

Under the benign and deeply humane vision of this pope, the power of faith led to the liberation of half a continent. Under the barbaric and nihilistic vision of Islam's jihadists, the power of faith has produced terror and chaos. That contrast alone, which has dawned upon us unmistakably ever since 9/11, should be reason enough to be grateful for John Paul II. But we mourn him for more than that. We mourn him for restoring strength to the Western idea of the free human spirit at a moment of deepest doubt and despair. And for seeing us through to today's great moment of possibility for both faith and freedom.

World leaders have marking the passing of Pope John Paul II with tributes and praise, including the unlikely country of Cuba, one place where the ruling elite is least likely to mourn his passing:
"We always saw, and continue to see, Juan Pablo II as a friend," Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said. "We express our message of condolences and respect to all Catholic believers in Cuba and all of the world."
Poland's solidarity movement began shortly after the Pope's visit there in 1979 and culminated into the fall of Cuba's one ally, the Soviet Union. I doubt that fact has escaped Cuba's rulers, but even they dare not try to stop the faithful in Cuba from mourning.

This may say it best for me:

"We all feel like orphans this evening," said Vatican's Undersecretary of State Archbishop Leonardo Sandri.
Orphans, that is to say, with the comfort of a guiding hand and a renewed faith in the immense power of that hand to imbue the human spirit to defy that which would constrain it.

12:50 - I should have read Michelle Malkin earlier. My belief that MSM and others would have respect for the Pope was completely wrong.

Posted by Debbye at 09:58 AM | Comments (0)

Australians grieve loss of 9

Apr. 3 - Nine Australian military personnel, 6 naval and 3 air force, were killed when their Sea King crashed on an island off Sumatra's west coast. Their home base ship, the HMAS Kanimbla, had been headed home after conducting relief operations in Indonesia after last December's tsunamai when an earthquake hit Sumatra and they were turned around to assist efforts there.

This crash was the worst flying naval accident in Australian history.

The casualties have been named:

... pilot Paul Kimlin, and Lieutenant Mathew Davey, a doctor, both from the ACT; Lieutenant Matthew Goodall, a helicopter observer, from NSW; Lieutenant Jonathan King, a pilot, from Queensland; Petty Officer Stephen Slattery, a medic, from NSW; and Leading Seaman Scott Bennett, an air crewman, from NSW.

The other three victims were air force Squadron Leader Paul McCarthy from West Australia; Flight Lieutenant Lyn Rowbottom from Queensland; and Sergeant Wendy Jones from Queensland.

The ship captain, Cmdr. George McGuire, is leading a crew to retrieve the bodies of their comrades. Two unnamed survivors of the crash have already been rescued and are being treated for serious injuries aboard the ship.

An investigation is to be conduced into the cause of the crash of the Sea King. The choppers have been in service for 30 years and recently "underwent a life expansion program, with the navy estimating the fleet will remain in service until at least 2015."

Prime Minister John Howard spoke to the tragedy, sending his condolences to the victims families and saying that "they had died helping others in great need."

They died in the service of this country, they died doing good things in the name of this country and they died living out the essential decency and compassion and mateship of the Australian people – so strongly displayed towards the people of Indonesia," he said.
The Kanimbla will continue its earthquake relief work in the region, which I find wonderfully consistent with the Australian character.

The fatalities will likely give additional sobriety to upcoming ANZAC Day ceremonies later this month in Australia. They suffered no casualties during their missions in support of Operation Iraq Freedom, but the relief efforts in Indonesia were also undertaken in the cause of humanity and the price of that cause too can be high.

Our condolences go out to the familes of the fallen as does as our deep respect for Australia's determination to continue their humanitarian efforts in Indonesia. They were the first to dispatch relief teams last December after the tsunamai hit, and although their quick and massive response did not receive the kind of acknowledgement in our media to which they were entitled, there are many Americans who do recognize the sterling qualities of this staunch ally and give daily thanks for their friendship.

Posted by Debbye at 09:15 AM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2005

"You don't know how good you are"

Apr 1 - The bells are tolling. Pope John Paul II has died.

When he was in Toronto for World Youth Day, he gently told the assembled "You don't know how good you are."

Words to cheer, to comfort and aspire to.

I'm sorry, I just can't write about this now.

13:49 - The news now states the Pope's heart and heart are still functioning, which by my definition means he is still alive.

I should try to get some sleep. I should at least try to rest. I can't explain it, but it somehow seems disrespectful not to maintin a private vigil as he slips away.

Apr. 2 - Fox reported at 14:59 that AP had announced that the Pope had died. At 15:04, they reported that the Vatican had sent out an email informing news media of the death. As of 15:23, the lights in his apartment have not been turned off. I find that break with tradition to be comforting, as though to remind us that the body fails but the spirit remains illuminated.

Posted by Debbye at 01:35 PM | Comments (3)