May 31, 2005

Question Period - May 30

May 31 - Nice, pointed Question Period in Parliament yesterday with especial note to the Spin Team the taxpayers provide for the Martin Libranos, courtesy of this post at Newsbeat1.

(Question: does anyone else have trouble loading the Parliament webpages? I'm not sure how I'd feel if it was just me ...)

Posted by Debbye at 11:10 AM | Comments (1)

Tape may show Martin knew about offer to Grewel

May 31 - This is all speculation just yet and, despite what we may want to believe, it is probably best to wait until the tapes are fully translated and made available to the public,. Nevertheless, this is intriguing: but according to CTV,

CTV News' Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reports that the Prime Minister knew of the negotiations.

According to Fife, the full four hours of transcripts of Grewal's taped conversations with a top Martin aide and Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh show:

- Martin was ready to talk to Grewal about defecting like he did with Belinda Stronach
- Grewal was offered a government position two weeks after the vote

The transcripts could be released Tuesday. Conservative House Leader Jay Hill has said the party will be turning the tapes over to the RCMP soon.

The federal ethics commissioner Bernard Shapiro is also expected to announce Tuesday whether he will conduct an investigation into the alleged Liberal deal-making.

As Greg Weston notes in relations to the limited mandate of the Gomery Inquiry, the RCMP has also been compromised by Adscam: Of course, the Mounties themselves were up to their musical ride in almost $2 million of sponsorship cash, much of it hidden in a non-government bank account in Quebec. It is hard not to raise one's eyebrows that they would investigate a matter of political wrongdoing or bribery (although I think it's fair to say that most of us still respect the rank and file Mounties - it's their leaders that are suspect.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:08 AM | Comments (1)

DeVillepin named French Prime Minister

May 31 - After the French voted "Non" on approving the EU constitution, President Chirac was expected to replace Jean-Pierre Raffarin as Prime Minister yet I must admit when I read this, Chirac named De Villepin prime minister to head new French government, I began to laugh.

Good old de Villepin. What an excellent choice. Despite his hauteur, he seems to have a bit of cowboy in him.

In August, 2003, the news broke that De Villepin had been involved in a botched attempt in July to free his former student, beauty queen and Columbian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt who had been kidnapped over a year earlier by FARC guerillistas. It was rumoured that he had offered money and medical treatment - and perhaps weapons - to a rebel leader in exchange for Betancourt's freedom, and that he tried to fly secretly from Brazil into Columbia without advising either the Brazilian or Columbian governments.

The French foreign ministry first denied the story and then apologized to Brazil

Tension between France and Brazil rose on Thursday when Samuel Pinheiro Guimaraes, the Brazilian deputy foreign minister, said M de Villepin had given information which proved false.

One deputy demanded the expulsion of French diplomats, saying they "would do better not to treat us like one of their African colonies".

In a written statement, M de Villepin offered his apology to his Brazilian counterpart, Celso Amorim, who accepted.

Finally, the details came out:
According to leaks from disgruntled officials at the Quai d'Orsay, the French foreign ministry, Mr de Villepin authorised the launch of "L'Operation 14 Juillet", to secure her release. His critics claim that he hoped to score a dazzling diplomatic coup by bringing Betancourt home on Bastille Day. Instead, Mr de Villepin is now carrying the can for a hideously bungled affair that not only seriously embarrassed his boss, President Jacques Chirac, but appears to have damaged the prospects of the hostage walking free in the near future.
Astrid, Betancourt's sister, had contacted de Villepin (but not the Columbian government) after she learned that FARC might be willing to release Ingrid.
Back in Paris, Mr de Villepin had told his senior adviser on Latin America, Pierre-Henri Guignard (who doubles as his deputy chief of staff) to set L'Operation 14 Juillet in motion. Guignard quickly assembled an experienced "protection team" from the Direction Générale de la Securité Exterieure (DGSE), the French equivalent of MI6. An 11-man squad of agents, including pilots, a doctor and communications specialists with jungle navigational equipment, set off with him for Manaus on July 8.

The unheralded arrival of the C-130 the following day, ostensibly to refuel en route for French Guyana, mystified the Brazilian authorities. Why would the aircraft make a 620-mile detour when it could more easily have flown directly to its destination?

When airport police requested a routine check of the Hercules, the entire French team produced official passports and claimed diplomatic immunity to prevent any such inspection. Most of them then set off for the palatial Hotel Tropical, bearing large metal cases. By the time Guignard and his three rugged colleagues left on their chartered flight to Sao Paulo de Olivena - directly across the river from the town where Astrid Betancourt was waiting - the Brazilian federal police were hard on their trail.

According to the flight plan that de Abreu [the pilot they hired] filed, the Caraja was to remain at the landing strip until four other passengers arrived the following afternoon, July 10. As soon as they arrived, the French team took a water taxi to the Flamingo hotel. Guignard [a priest who was Astrid's contact] then set off to contact another priest, Father Pedro, who had been enlisted to help on the Brazilian side. For de Abreu, the situation was becoming alarming: during the flight he had been questioned about his night-flying experience and his plane's ability to land on rough terrain.

Unnoticed by his new companions, he returned to the airstrip and flew to a neighbouring town where a police unit was stationed. "I informed them that I suspected a plot to seize my aircraft in mid-flight and divert it to another destination," he told Le Monde. "They advised me that the Frenchmen were already under surveillance and that I should return to Sao Paulo de Olivena and await developments."

Across the river in Colombia, Astrid was now fretting about the lack of progress in her own role in the mission. Despite making every attempt to be "visible" around town should Farc representatives be present, no contact had occurred. On impulse she made the long river trip back to Leticia to await further news. "I sat looking out over the Amazon watching dolphins leap and dreaming that suddenly I would see Ingrid's face on a boat arriving, and that I would almost die from the emotion of the moment," she says.

In fact, the rescue plan was rapidly unravelling. On July 11, after waiting in vain for Ingrid's expected passage into Brazil - the French team believed that if Ingrid was to be freed her captors would deliver her to the Brazilian border town Sao Paulo de Olivena - Guignard and his team flew back to Manaus, leaving a note at the Flamingo hotel asking Astrid to contact them at the Tropical hotel.

When they arrived, federal police detained them for questioning in the presence of the French honorary consul. All four invoked diplomatic immunity, providing only a work address in Paris: Boulevard Mortier, the headquarters of the DGSE. Soon after midday on July 13, the Hercules took off on the return flight to France where a political scandal was developing fast.

Unknown to the French authorities, a photographer for the respected Brazilian newspaper Carta Capital had been tipped off about the story and had taken a picture of the French plane on the runway at Manaus. The Brazilian media, quoting senior officials, then reported that it may have been carrying weapons destined for Farc as the ransom for Betancourt.

Both Mr Chirac and the French prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, were abroad when the first reports about the rescue mission appeared in the French media. Each immediately issued stringent denials, Mr Chirac insisting that "this kind of operation would not have happened without me being informed, and I was not informed". When he saw the photographs from Manaus airport last weekend, officials confided, he exploded in fury.

As more embarrassing details about L'Operation 14 Juillet began to leak out, the French government abruptly changed tack, flatly denying that any "direct negotiations" had taken place with Farc.

Last week, Farc intensified the debate by announcing that it had never considered liberating Betancourt or any other of its several hundred captives - among them three American CIA men - without direct negotiations with the Colombian authorities about the release of its own members being held by the military.

Chirac has "charged de Villepin with writing bad poetry and getting caught in Brazil the task of forming a new government" and getting a haircut.
Raffarin, in a short address after the president accepted his resignation, promised that his successor would work to bring a significant drop in unemployment in the last two years of Chirac's second term - which could be his last.

"I confirm this commitment, even if the drop in the dollar and the rise in oil prices delay it for a few months," he said.

Raffarin defended his three-year record as prime minister, saying he acted to protect the future of the pension system and state health care, among other programs.

"I have always been aware that what is healthy for the nation does not go unblamed by public opinion," said Raffarin. Polls showed that he was one of the most unpopular prime ministers of the French Fifth Republic that was founded in 1958.

One of the most unpopular prime ministers in less than 50 years? How many unpopular prime ministers have there been?

By the way, Nicholas Sarkozy will return to his former position as Interior Minister.

Posted by Debbye at 07:19 AM | Comments (5)

Why didn't he just say no?

May 31 - Editorial in yesterday's Toronto Sun on MP Gurmant Grewel's allegations that the Liberals tried to induce him to abstain on the budget vote - Liberals protest too much - brings up the impropriety of their leaking to the media that Immigration Minister Joe Volpe had asked the RCMP to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by Grewal:

Grewal has denied this allegation and what's more, it was sleazy of the Liberals to smear him this way. This wasn't a case of revealing that Grewal had been charged with anything, merely that the government had requested the Mounties look into it.

Indeed, this incident has become yet another subject of controversy in this affair, with Grewal denying Liberal claims that he wanted the investigation dropped in return for abstaining on the non-confidence vote.

The tapes reveal Grewal and Murphy discussing Volpe's actions, although the Liberals insist this was only about the possibility of having Volpe say something positive about Grewal, to lessen the sting of the immigration controversy for him.

and asks the two most important questions
Even if that's true, if the Grits really believed Grewal had committed immigration improprieties, why did they talk to him at all in the first place? Why didn't they just say "no"?

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

May 30, 2005

No, they don't "all" do it

May 30 - Are you tired of people saying "they all do it" whenever you talk about corruption in government? Kate has a good reply and exposes the fallacy of that particular argument in They Are Not The Same:

... The argument that "all polititians are the same" is not only a falsehood - it is a falsehood with a hidden intent. Manufactured in an attempt to pull all those in the public service down to a lowest common denominator, it sustains the apologist's rationale to endorse "The Devil You Know". That particular devil just happens to be the soil in which corrupt governments take root.

Buying into the canard is not a product of cynicism, but an admission that one's own moral compass should be sent in for a rebuild. If we truly believes that "all politiicans are the same", then we must also concede that all citizens are "the same", held to no particular standard of honesty or integrity, and that with such low expectations of government, undeserving of better.

Indeed, and her points add dimension to another canard: People get the government they deserve. If Canadians Ontarians believe they deserve the Liberal Party then they have assuredly earned corruption.

Posted by Debbye at 11:30 AM | Comments (3)

Memorial Day, 2005

Tomb of the Unknowns.jpg
Tomb of the Unknowns
Photo from US Memorial Day images (1993 Smithsonian Institute.)

May 30 - Memorial Day was officially proclaimed in 1868 to honour those who died during the Civil War. After World War I it was changed to honour all Americans who died fighting in any war.

It is a day of sorrow and joy, grief and dedication, humility and pride. It has taken renewed meaning these past four years because we have lost good men and women in action and each loss means an empty chair at the family table.

The Tomb of the Unknowns holds a special poignancy. Their honour guard has patrolled every day, night and day, since 1930 and the nation was reminded of their dedication when, in 2003, they refused the order to evacuate during Hurricane Isabel with the sturdy reply "No way, Sir!".

Today we honour those who gave their lives in defense of our freedom whether their names be known to us or "but to God."

Greyhawk has a series of posts to honour Memorial Day starting here and down. Some of those he honours this day are Maria Ruzicka, Margaret Hassan, Italian Brigadier Giuseppe Coletta, Air Force Technical Sgt. John A. Chapman and Rick Rescorla.

If you read nothing else, read the posts dedicated to Rick Rescorla here and here. I don't know if heroes are made or born, but Mr. Rescorla was not only a war hero but was also a hero in his civilian life: he got 2,600 employees of Dean Whittier to safety on Sept. 11. He was lost that day because he went back upstairs in an effort to get more people out.

Rolling Thunder has become a uniquely American addition to Memorial Day since it first roared into D.C. in 1988 to honour those killed in Vietnam and MIAs from all conflicts.

(The photo at the link, by the way, is of Air Force Gen. Richard B. Meyers and his wife, Mary Jo, riding to the Pentagon to join the rally. Never do anything by halves!)

God bless the men and women who chose to serve their country. They ask so little, only that we remember and support them, and in return they are willing to give so much.

On this day we should dedicate ourselves to try and be worthy of them.

11:47 Jeff Jacoby writes about Sgt. Rafael Peralta of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 3d Marines.

The Korean War movie The Bridges at Toko-Ri ends with the question Where do we find such men? After reading Jacoby I suddenly realized that we don't; they find us.

A tribute at In Remembrance (link via Michelle Malkin, who also has some other wonderful links for Memorial Day here.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:13 AM | Comments (4)

May 29, 2005

The Librano family business

May 29 - Ben Macintyre writes tongue in cheek for the London Times on the Canadian-American and French-British rivalries in Everybody needs bad neighbours:

In our thoroughly globalised world, the US and Canada, France and Britain, cling anachronistically to their singular, ancient rivalries. Australia and New Zealand look further afield than each other for economic comparisons; Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan do not expend energy anxiously surveying their respective sex lives. But the English Channel and the US border with Canada remain the distorting, two-way mirrors through which these neighbours perceive themselves.
He emphasizes his point that the British-French rivalry is of the sibling order by a quote from columnist Claude Imbert in Le Point "To those French who still believe that Britain is a former Norman colony that went wrong ..." Ouch. We credit the Normans with doubling the English language and introducing chimneys but tend to believe the invaders were, in due time, anglicized, and can always view Shakespeare's account of the Battle of Agincourt in Henry V with some pride so long as we can gather our coats and file out of the theatre thus missing the final lines on the failure of the next generation to retain what Henry V won.

Americans and Canadians will, at the drop of a hat, bring up the War of 1812 and work backward to 1776 to present our list of grievances, but that list seems downright contemporary compared to two countries who can begin theirs in 1066.

Macintyre is looking at a bigger picture set in European terms and his conclusions are interesting but he doesn't address (or perhaps even know about) the impact of Adscam on Canadian thinking and sensibilities.

The family nature of U.S. and Canadian relations is one that we tend to rush past and it has been made easier by the wholesale re-write of history which de-emphasizes British rule and influence up here in order to side-step the end of French rule at the Plains of Abraham (Canada's Culloden, if you will) which brought a reluctant step-brother into the family.

The current scandel proves the point that we can re-write history but we can't undo it. Adscam is directly related to (if only because it formed the pretext for) anglo- and franco-Canadian relations, and many of us are re-examining our former attitudes to the cause of Quebec sovereignty and recognizing that the exposure of how basely that issue was manipulated by the Liberal Party in their pursuit of one-party rule justifies Quebec outrage and, further, may have irreparably damaged prospects for a truly united Canada.

The divide-and-conquer strategy of the Libranos is being exposed, and some are beginning to realize that the implications go far beyond Quebec and permeate the very weave of today's Canada.

Every time Bombardier is granted a contract there are grumblings in Ontario, but which profit most when the contracts are awarded to Quebec: Quebeckers or those who own Bombardier? It's past time to get deeply suspicious of the quasi-Socialist pretentions of the Libranos and look closer at who gains from these contracts. If it is done in the name of national, or family, unity, then why are the kids bickering?

Once the Libranos decided that they were the natural governing party of Canada and set about to do whatever they could to assert their rule they forgot the danger that the kids might get together and compare notes. Some are noticing that one family analogy which may fit is that of a parent who purposefully incites quarrels between the adult children in order keep them bitterly divided and, in the case of a wealthy family with sizeable assets, ensures they will continue to pander to the parent in order to get what they perceive to be their rightful shares.

But Quebec and the West have had enough and, within their own families, are seriously thinking of getting out of the family business and setting up their own. Ontario is the "good eldest child" -- compliant and obediently determined to uphold the patriarch's dominance (although it privately feels that it should get more for its loyalty than the parent is alloting) and is so invested in the family business that it tends to dismiss the mutterings of those who wonder if the price of unity is worth the cost of their dignity.

Like many parents, the Libranos shrug aside the signs of rebellion, thinking that "kids will be kids," and forgetting that the blind love of children for the parent is replaced by a more critical view once the kids grow up. Should the judgement be that the parental unit makes decisions more for its own benefit than that of the family as a whole then the justification for maintaining family unity is lost.

They played a good hand when they projected Paul Martin in the role of the sympathetic "other" parent and, by seeming to overthrew Chretien's iron rule, he gained some traction by apologizing to the kids for taking them and their contributions for granted and promising to address their concerns and to treat them with more respect, fix the democratic deficit, and distribute more of the profits from the family business.

But then the family quarrel was aired in the Commons, and the Libranos retained power by marrying both the NDP and Belinda Stronach and pre-emptively gave a larger share of the profits to the kids. Martin thus, to all appearances, retained control as this placated some of them, but there is a limit to how often that strategy can be successfully employed.

He will likely take the opportunity at the next family gathering (which would be the next election) to praise the children profusely and humbly, and this will work only to the extent that the kids are denied a thorough understanding of the business accounts for the family in part because foundations which receive federal money are not accountable for how they spend that money.

There is another who wishes to be made head of the family, and some of the siblings use their distrust or dislike of Harper as a pretext for their continued support for the Libranos, but I am genuinely perplexed that, by inference, Joe Clark is somehow be seen as more likeable and charismatic than Harper.

[In contrast, President Bush has many qualities I admire but even I wouldn't call him charismatic. My support for him stems from support for his policies, so his personal appeal is not even a factor. The same can be said for Australian PM Howard.]

I also fail to see how anyone can pretend that Paul Martin has personal appeal, and I am stunned that people still worry about the "hidden agenda" of the Conservative Party when, should the allegations at the Gomery Inquiry be proven, it would seem that it is the Libranos who had the hidden agenda and it was to enrich themselves and their friends at public expense rather than anything that resembled governance.

Oddly enough, it may be the experience of living under Liberal despotism that causes fears about the Conservatives; people may believe that the CPC is as capable of forcing unpopular legislation through Parliament as the Liberals.

I hope the Conservatives use the next period to craft and state their policies. Their failure to do so is probably due more to being a new party and needing to have those kind of discussions among their members but Eastern voters are not likely to buy another pig in a poke.

Canadians are facing a dilemma of another sort though when the media projects the value of personal appeal over policies. Is it possible to maintain illusions once the blinkers are off? The polls seem to say yes, and that is the challenge for both the Libranos and the opposition parties - everywhere except Quebec, that is. They, at least, had the grace to feel insulted by the bribery, and rightly wonder how much the rest of the family truly values them when the others don't share in that outrage.

And that's the real pity.

(Links via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 03:46 PM | Comments (6)

Noble Gestures

May 29 - Emergency at work - I was called in this evening* and just got home.

Maz2 and Tony kept the ball rolling these last few days (thanks!) and Andrew Coyne has a post has with a great title: It's a vast right-wing punditocracy! (of course it is) The post has some interesting links on the allegations that members of the Conservative Party were offered inducements to abstain or be absent for the Real and Official Non-Confidence Vote last week.

I particularly like the first one from the Vancouver Sun (link no good unless you have a subscription) in which Arthur Schafer, director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics, scores a grand-slam by making what to my mind is the critical point about using patronage appointments as a form of bribery:

"In my view, the latter is every bit as serious as the former. Perhaps more serious, since the harm to Canada may last longer and be more serious than the 'mere' loss of public money."
Having an elected Senate would be my first choice for Parliamentary reform. Ya hear that, Belinda?

Mark the calandar on this: we learned that Man of Culture Jacques Corriveau is into making Noble Gestures which is why he put 4 volunteers for the Liberal Party on his payroll even though they did no work for him:

Corriveau said he hired Serge Gosselin at his firm Pluridesign in 1999 and paid him $55,000 -- half of that for Liberal-related work.

Pluridesign's financial statements show Corriveau put three other Liberal staffers on his payroll after the 1997 election, paying them $86,509 from 1998 to 2000.

He said he made the backdoor donations to the Grits at the request of ex-Quebec party head Michel Beliveau, adding he felt obliged to after billing $1 million for printing election signs.

I can see why he might feel indebted to the Liberal Party.

I am so very happy that the medical condition which had prevented him from recollecting certain things has improved and am hopeful he will be able to remember even more things.

*Make that yesterday evening, i.e, Saturday evening.

Posted by Debbye at 01:23 AM | Comments (4)

May 27, 2005

Poundmaker support (updated)

May 27 - Darcey has some updates on the Poundmaker protest: a press release from the Poundmaker Working Group and organizing a grocery run.

Ian Lance is making that grocery run Saturday (tomorrow) and is collecting funds through his Pay-Pal account.

Look, we've complained on this site (as well as others) as to how the outrage over corruption in Ottawa has been largely limited to sighs and laments, but members of the Poundmaker Working Group are not content to wring their hands and wish somebody (else) would do something about corruption in their own community -- they have engaged in an act of civil disobedience because, having already reached their tipping point, they have taken the initiative to push their point home.

Ian has issued a compelling call to support this action in Fighting Corruption Our Way. Is their struggle really that separate from what we've been so angry about? I don't think so.

May 29 - 2:36: Lance reports and writes of something fundamental that he found at the protest and in the Poundmaker Working Group. Great post.

Posted by Debbye at 01:58 PM | Comments (2)

The map and the territory (updated)

May 27 - The 60's produced a lot of people who still hold to the values expressed by JFK, Dr. King, Malcolm X and RFK, and George Bush is also a product of the 60's. He expressed those ideals in his Whitehall Speech which spelt out the cause for freedom as our priority in U.S. foreign policy - and wasn't that the primary banner under which we marched in the 60's? I could understand dismissing the speech as mere words but we are actively in the field, fighting and dying to give life to those ideals, and our country was finally putting its money where its mouth was.

One would think that political activists from the 60's would feel some satisfaction that the major impetus for our activism - that the U.S. was supporting vicious dictators as part of the Cold War - had finally been addressed. So why are so many of them on the other side?

Keith Thompson's column in the SF Chronicle was noted by Instapundit (among many others) because he spells out unequivocally how the left abandoned liberalism. I can well imagine how the column was received in San Fransisco, though, and it probably started with the phrase "Yes, but."

Maz2 sent me a link to Thompson's website (Thompson at Large) and I noted in the interview on the main page that he expressed his admiration for Robert F. Kennedy. (Thompson also writes the blog Sane Nation.)

Invoking RFK sure brings back a lot of memories. People who make blanket assumptions about baby boomers do so in a vacuum. Maybe some day I'll write the definitive essay on how my generation was affected by events which culminated in 1968 and were I to really try and write it the thesis would probably be based on this hypothesis:

Baby-boomer Democrats are idealists who were mugged in 1968.

Maybe you had to be there to get that, but I'll just try to condense and say that politically aware people were hit with a bombardment of events in 1968 and those who look back on it as their heyday probably forgot that actually, it was a year of intense pain, struggle and loss (I sort of covered some of the events here in my early and thus raw blogging days.)

One unchallenged assumption we made back then was that those brave and courageous enough to stand up to U.S. foreign policy were liberations fighters. We were wrong. Different people probably have individual moments when that assumption proved disasterous, but for me it was probably the scenes of Vietnamese frantically trying to get out of Vietnam when the U.S. withdrew from Saigon - why were all these people trying to get away? they were free now! - and then the embassy takeover in Tehran forced me to reconsider my automatic support of the anti-Shah forces in Iran (because Khoumeini's supporters were, you know, progressive) and, although it took awhile and required kicking some very bad habits, I gradually figured out that being pro-democracy rarely equated anti-American. This new awareness wasn't based on fear but on guilt: I had blindly supported all things progressive and thus supported groups and causes that were as destructive and murderous as I imagined U.S. foreign policy to be.

A realization like that can really knock the wind out of you. Just think "Pol Pot" and imagine the shock when ugly reality intrudes on your complacent support for progressivism.

There are a lot of people who haven't moved beyond their 60's views, and that's their right, but I do find it disturbing that they so little resemble the people we were back then. We may have been dumb, but we also had a lot of love for and eagerly embraced the world and the future. Our belief system was as far away from cynical sophistication as you can possibly get - in fact, we avoided cynical and sophisticated people because they were, like, plastic, you know? Never trust anyone over 30 because they were all sell-outs who had been co-opted by the establishment and lived in the suburbs with houses made of ticky-tacky.

We despised liberals above all because they were phony, which proves that we were right about some things. We also despised the establishment, and the problem with today's liberals is that when they became the establishment, they became what they once opposed.

Yes, I'm going somewhere. I think that maybe you have to be humble enough to admit that the extravagances of one's youth were what they were, and they require neither stubborn defense nor apology but just a little honesty to ascertain what was good and should be preserved and, maybe, even a chance to feel good because even if there were some mistakes there were also some right calls, like supporting the Czechs, the civil rights movements, an end to apartheid, hating hypocrisy and understanding that freedom was worth fighting for even if we misread what actually were freedom, or liberation, movements.

Thompson obliquely addresses this:

Back to your question: Have I moved right? What today is called liberalism is almost unrecognizable from the liberalism of the late 1960s. This is not to be nostalgic about the past — it's a question of being accurate. In his 1966 Cape Town speech, Bobby Kennedy declared himself unwaveringly opposed to communism because it exalts the state over the individual and over the family. He said the best way to oppose communism is to enlarge individual human freedom.
The word conservative is used as an inditement on people who don't conform to the group-think of the left, and it's even more damning to be called a neo-con, which is a very useful tactic as most people don't even know what it means but it sounds nasty, like neo-Nazi, so obviously is bad.

Unfortunately for the old guard, the onrush of events these past few years has produced a lot of people, and especially young folks, who stop, reflect and wonder if they took the red pill or the blue pill. Once you have arrived to a frame of mind to pose the question you already know the answer, so do you do?

One answer lies in a new political undercurrent these days composed of people calling themselves South Park Conservatives and Thompson supplies one definition:

... South Park Conservatives, which describes young Americans who believe in a kick-ass foreign policy, and who mock the compulsory compassion of the P.C. culture. Interestingly, they don't necessarily sign on to every line in the GOP platform.
No, we don't, but we also know that the Republican party is closer to our views than the Democrats and if we can't influence the Republicans we can always start our own party, or join the Libertarian Party.

That's a decent plan for Americans, but what about Canadians? and, more of concern these days, what about the Conservative Party of Canada? I dislike the saying that a conservative is a liberal who got mugged because it is not only dismissive but also implies that conservatives are shallow: someone who will dump their moral principles wholesale after a traumatic event couldn't have held those values very dear. But liberals have become like a friend who keeps suggesting we go out for a latte even though she knows I take my coffee black - she employs the popular word but doesn't really think about what it means.

Thomspon again:

The left/right divide is not what it used to be — that's my point. At the end of the day, I care less about the map than the territory, less about labels than issues.
It seems to me that, once we accept that the old definitions of the left-right divide are no longer operable and that the Liberal Party is no longer liberal, those who oppose the Liberal Party are thereby free to shed the old labels and define themselves rather than let the Liberal Party do so.

The Meatriarchy (who is back from vacation) has an apropos post about a pending CBC interview with Trey Parker and Matt Stone and his own thoughts on the misuse of the term conservative.

The CBC Meets South Park may sound like a Monty Python skit, but that's been done. It was an internet thread titled Monty Python Meets the Borg, and the South Park-esque offering was Oh my God, they've assimilated Kenny. The bastards!

I sincerely doubt the CBC can assimilate South Park or even grasp what the movement is all about, but I do hope Canada is ready for the kind of alternative conservatism the South Park types offer: smaller government, de-centralization, truer respect for the individual and above all, replacing mindless prattle in correct-speak PC. It would also be nice to embrace the very liberal notion that we shouldn't be afraid to abandon programs that don't work - despite our investment of both years and money - and try some new solutions that actually might work.

There's a lot of unmarked territory out there, and the Conservatives should be the ones surveying and staking some out.

The innate inertia of Liberals is probably why I kind of share the South Park view of politics:

I hate conservatives, but I f***ing hate liberals.

May 29 - 02:42 - Many posts (like this one) reveal their intent after they have been written. It seems I still don't get why more of my former associates don't support Operation Iraqi Freedom.

I was shocked (in the true sense of the word) when Gulf War I didn't finish the job and get rid of Saddam. I felt a bit guilty so kept abreast of events (and massacres) in Iraq over the years and was on board for regime change long before 2000 elections.

I make no pretense at consistency! I fully recognize that the optimism of the 60's was counterweighed by our real fear of seeing the planet consumed in a nuclear holocaust and maybe our optimism was a defiant response to that fear.

But I never meant the post to be nuanced, and apologize for any pain inadvertant nuance may have caused readers.

I lean towards a libertarianism-with-a-safety-net preference and believe in the tenet That which is not expressly forbidden is thereby allowed (which has gotten me into some interesting exchanges during my years in Canada) and it's a hard-wired thing much like inherent rights and distrusting government.

But my invitation for Canadians to dispense with the old labels and scout the territory was genuine. Labels are human inventions and thus liable to change.

Today's musing were brought to you by the cliche Fortune favours the bold.

Posted by Debbye at 12:04 PM | Comments (6)

May 26, 2005

Sorry for light posting

May 26 - Sorry for the light posting - I hit a state where I was too tired to sleep and too tired to post. Really miserable day but I still have to get to work tonight (boo hoo.)

This CBC story about Canada's designation of Iran's People's Mojahedin as a terrorist group needs a little more scrutiny, but I'm inclined to view just about everthing this government says about Iran with suspicion.

The filibuster: one of the curiosities of the American political system, right up there with compromise. Get it together, Congress. We grow weary of your games.

A truly Iraq mission, with, by, and for Iraqis. Every day brings new challenges and the Iraqi people are meeting them.

More tomorrow unless the sky falls and the power is knocked out.

Posted by Debbye at 09:11 PM | Comments (2)

May 25, 2005

From the field: an embed speaks

May 25 - Michael Yon, who's photo "Little Girl" spread across the internet and became part of the American historical record, writes about how information is dissiminated among journalists in Iraq And now, for the rest of the story.....

Interesting read, and very discomforting. If the U.S. military is reporters' main source they ought to admit it instead of trashing the military. Maybe they feel guilty because they aren't doing their jobs properly? (I don't exactly blame them - I'd fear for my safety too were I there - but they should be more honest about how they collect the news.)

(Link via Newsbeat 1

May 29 - I hope I didn't give the impression that I was criticizing Mr. Yon. He is doing what a true reporter does - getting the facts himself in the first-person-singular manner we once assumed all reporters did.

Posted by Debbye at 07:25 PM | Comments (2)

PM's aide Gaetano Manganiello testifies before Gomery

May 25 - PMO staffer says sponsorship firm paid him $25,000 for Liberal work:

An aide in Prime Minister Paul Martin's office told the sponsorship inquiry Wednesday he was paid $28,000 under the table to work for the Liberals in the late 1990s.

Gaetano Manganiello, who is on a paid leave of absence from his job as a media officer in the PMO, said he worked off the books as a party logistics specialist in 1998 and 1999. He said the then-boss of the party's Quebec wing, Benoit Corbeil, approached him at the Montreal headquarters and said the party was in dire financial straights.

Corbeil said the party could no longer afford his salary but explained the Pluri Design graphic firm, owned by Jean Chretien's friend Jacques Corriveau, could step in to pay him, Manganiello testified.

"I was informed by Mr. Corbeil that Pluri Design would pay my salary but I would continue working at the Liberal party," Manganiello told the inquiry, saying he was on the firm's payroll for nine months.

"He (Corbeil) didn't tell me why, but in all fairness, I didn't ask why either."

Gomery's comments as to what has and has not been established about Brault's allegations of illegal contributions are also in the article.

(Via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:15 PM | Comments (0)

Even the NY Times ... oh, the infamy

May 25 - Master Meriadoc could lecture us well on the virtues of being unnoticed ... at least for a short period of time.

Was Canada Just Too Good to Be True?.

Actually, it's a pretty good article but either he doesn't know about or chooses to ignore some troubling questions about the procrastination of the Liberal Party in allowing the non-confidence vote or the thoughts in the minds of some Westeners and Quebeckers.

Or maybe he just hadn't read the opening paragraphs of this.

Or, more significantly, this Lorrie Goldstein column that takes a pretty close look at the Grewal-Murphy tape and Insta!Stronach Cabinet post.

May 29 - Today's editorial in the Toronto Sun, Can't we take a little criticism? says that Canadians should be thanking Krauss; it seems that Clifford Krauss has been slammed for his article in the NY Times for puncturing some of Canada's illusions about itself.

We hope Clifford Krauss is reading this, because after the week he's had, he deserves a thank-you.

The New York Times' Canadian correspondent filed a stinging dispatch from Toronto last week that predictably riled many Canucks -- because, we submit, it was true.

I must read the wrong papers, because I didn't know there was hostility to the article. But still, the NY Times has had a few articles about Canada since the publication ban on Jean Brault testimony was lifted that focused on Adscam and the Liberal Party's manipulations to stay in power, and I am somewhat surprised that the latest item from Krauss was received with more outrage up here than his previous report (noted here) and the op-ed by Canadian David Frum which appeared in the NY Times (and noted in the same link) which were far more critical by what they implied.

Posted by Debbye at 11:35 AM | Comments (8)

You go girl!

May 25 - I've had some things on my mind today, like the dissolution of Confederation and moronic pilots, so I needed a really good laugh.

Ask, and it shall be given: Parrish ponders return to Liberal party:

Independent MP Carolyn Parrish says Prime Minister Paul Martin has left the door open for her to return to the Liberal fold.

The Toronto Star reports that the suggestion came from the prime minister himself last Thursday, after she voted in favour of passing the government's budget in a crucial confidence vote.

"He gave me a big hug and a kiss," Parrish told the Star.

She says a colleague asked if it wasn't time for Parrish to return to caucus, and Martin said: "Whenever, you're ready," according to Parrish.

Do you think I could find anyone to take my bet? Not a one. My life sucks.

(Via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 11:12 AM | Comments (3)

Rumsfield gave ok to shooting plane down

May 25 - US military had OK to shoot errant plane.

Yes Rummy! I had no doubt.

Pilot Hayden "Jim" Sheaffer told NBC on Tuesday he thought he was going to be "shot out of the sky."
Damned freaking straight. My deepest regret is that they didn't shoot one across the proverbial bow as a stern warning to any who might come after.

Solution: Fly a banner from the Washington Monument. It will say:


I have not posted about this before because I have been in a hot rage: the passengers on Flight 93 gave their lives to protect D.C.

That is OUR capitol and it damned well will be defended.

You know what I'm saying.

May 27 - Rummy says he didn't. Rats.

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

The Spirit of '05

May 24 - 11:29: The spirit of Tom Paine is alive and well in Canada. Walsingham has written forcefully and eloquently that The Tipping Point has been reached in Canada and concluded that the only option remaining is to dissolve this confederation.

Will a “spirit of ‘05” now arise here? I believe it is already stirring. The Liberals, with much of Ontario in dumb connivance, have sown the seeds. They do not understand what they have set irretrievably in motion. It is far beyond their sphere of recognition to see that far from saving Canada, they have destroyed it. A Canada worth preserving might just have been revived had this government fallen. But the very factors and forces that prevented that fall have now pointed the future in a very different direction. And I say: so be it. The chasm has been crossed. The tipping point has been reached.
There is more, so very much more, so read the whole thing as well as the comments.

"The Tipping Point" may well take its rightful place beside the pamphlet "Common Sense" and ought to be spread from browser to browser by all who believe in liberty.

(Via Keith, who adds some thoughts in his post.)

May 25 - 7:55 - Despite the bravado in my posted words above, I still feel as though I am in mourning. I felt this way once before: on Sept. 11 (it's an American-sourced feeling.) The logic of Walsingham's post is inescapable, though, and I am somewhat comforted by these words from Occam's Carbuncle if only because he too sees the abyss:

There comes a time, however, when you realize that the apparent complexities of life, while important to our understanding of events, are not what should ultimately speak to us, are not matters upon which to base our fundamental ideas about right and wrong, about what is good or ill for ourselves and our society. The simplest of notions, ones like liberty, democracy, pride, dignity, loyalty, are the ones that must shape our actions. It is precisely these simple ideas that increasingly become meaningless as this party and that interest work to obscure them to their own profit. Are we utterly lost, as Walsingham suggests? Is this the time when Canada, like a reluctant phoenix, immolates itself, and we are left to await whatever incarnation may rise from the ashes? I can't bring myself to say yes. I've urged others to say no. I want to say no. I can't say that either. If you think this is all rather silly and overwrought, then I am sorry for you. Things matter, or they do not.
I found myself humming The Maple Leaf Forever! at work this morning. I'm not sure I want to examine that too closely.

Oh Canada, how much I grieve for thee.

I'm bumping this post up. Walsingham must be read (and Maz2's comment.) I'm even adding a quote of my own:

These are the times that try men's souls. (It's a quote and I refuse to de-gender it.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:55 AM | Comments (2)

May 24, 2005

Kroll Report

May 24 - The Kroll Report (from the Adscam auditors) can be viewed here.

May 25 - 06:50 - There's a discussion about the future of the Maritime provinces should confederation collapse in the comments well worth reading. Feel free to join in.

Posted by Debbye at 06:31 PM | Comments (7)

Crunching some Adscam numbers

May 24 - Angry in the Great White North has a breakdown of some of the numbers that came out of today's session of the Gomery Inquiry and has a Sample of how the government manages our money:

Out of a total of $46.32 million:
$460,000, or 1%, went to sponsorship
$8.34 million, or 18%, went to actual work done
$26 million, or 56%, went to "unrelated or unknown parties"
$11.52 million, or 25%, was unspent or the invoices were not found

"Not found." Went to "unrelated or unknown parties."

I have no words.

Posted by Debbye at 06:21 PM | Comments (2)

Poundmaker Protest Update

May 24 - From Darcey of Dust My Broom with an update on the the protest by the Poundmaker Working Group who are remaining in the offices of Chief Ted Antoine and the Council until new elections are called. Also he's got more background here and a request for support here which asks for letters of support, supplies and phone cards.

If you're not aware of what has been happening, you can read all Darcey's posts on the Poundmaker protest by going here and scrolling down.

Maybe you think it's none of our business? Publius puts it well: "Functioning along roughly the same mental lines that allowed generations of wife beaters to remain protected under the guise "family unity," so the new imperialists have been allowed to get away with their crimes." (Read the post.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:40 PM | Comments (2)

Now on CPAC - Gomery Inquiry (updating)

May 24 - The session of the Gomery Inquiry currently being aired on CPAC is (at least partially - it's not over yet) in English ... transcript should be available tonight here.

From Newsbeat 1:

Sponsorship loss may be an additional $100 million (CTV says it would now total $355 million)

Groupaction Marketing, which allegedly funded the federal Liberals under the table for years, issued $406,000 in cheques that could have been converted to cash, says a report tabled at the Gomery inquiry Tuesday and,

Kroll also attached a dollar figure to all contributions to the Liberals - registered and unregistered - heard during testimony at the inquiry.

The auditors said $768,000 was donated above board to the party and added, "if the amounts identified by Mr. Brault as payments for a political purpose are included, this amount rises to $2.5 million."


Documents previously tabled at the inquiry indicate Brault paid the $430,000 to the Pluri Design firm owned by graphic designer Jacques Corriveau, a friend of former prime minister Jean Chretien. Brault has said Corriveau told him the money was destined for the Liberals.

Kroll, while not backing the claim, said "the available documentation does not indicate what services, if any, were provided by PluriDesign to Groupaction for the $430,370 it received."

The auditors said they requested Corriveau's bank statements from 1994 to 1999, along with other financial data, but that the information was "not available for our review."

Coffin may plead guilty.

Gagliano loses suit - Gomery stays. As for Chretien,

If Chretien wins a favourable court ruling, it could block Gomery from delivering two reports planned for the end of the year.
And the elections Martin promised were for after the report was issued.

During the break, you might want to read today's editorial in the Toronto Sun.

Unrelated to Adscam but good nonetheless, Paul Jackson gives some good advice to the "spoiled brats of the entertainment world."

15:55 - Session is back on.

Posted by Debbye at 02:02 PM | Comments (0)

More on the Royal Commonwealth Society of Toronto

May 24 - If you read Bill Strong's post on the Royal Commonwealth Society of Toronto yesterday you might want to make a return visit. Looks as though whoever is behind might be trying to cover some tracks ... lucky thing Kate grabbed a screenshot yesterday.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Private gripe: deleted. I just won't sleep. Ever.

16:45 Neale News is linking to Bill's site and has before and after screenshots of the Whois page for The first shows the Royal Commonwealth Society of Toronto Foundation as owners of the domain name, and the second shows the Freedom International Association as the owner. Both versions have the same Newmarket address, phone and fax numbers and show Sinclair Stevens as the webmaster and technical contact but the second has different email addresses for him.

Bill has a new post up here.

I don't know that anything illegal is going on, but the overnight change of who is listed as owning the domain name seems to imply that somebody else thinks it is, to say the least, indiscreet for the Royal Commonwealth Society of Toronto Foundation to own a domain name which makes clear it's intention to remove the leader of the Official - and Loyal - Opposition.

This is the website for Freedom International (link from the post on this issue at Colbert's Comments.)

Posted by Debbye at 01:44 PM | Comments (3)

Tax-payers foot bill for Liberals (again)

May 24 - The weight of the Liberal Party's notion of how to best protect their own interests good governance daily becomes more unbearable. The latest: Taxpayers foot $1M bill for Liberals' sponsorship 'war room' for a secret team that monitors the Gomery Inquiry and preps the Prime Minister for questions that might be raised in the House of Commons:

Documents obtained by the Citizen through the Access to Information Act reveal that the rapid-response war room, which is in almost daily contact with the Prime Minister's Office and the government's top bureaucrat, Alex Himelfarb, operates out of the Privy Council Office.

The cost of the strategic office, which does everything from preparing answers for question period in the House of Commons to keeping the Prime Minister's Office abreast of testimony at the inquiry, covers the salaries of staff and expenses.

The war room and its cost came to light on the heels of last week's complaints from Justice John Gomery about officials exaggerating the cost of his inquiry.

Officials at the commission looking into the sponsorship scandal say the total cost of the actual inquiry will come in under $32 million. Judge Gomery said government officials have "leaked" to the media that it is costing departments another $40 million to cover costs at four key departments, including the Privy Council Office. "It's an exaggeration and it's twisting reality," Judge Gomery said last week.

Revelations from the inquiry, which is digging into the $250-million sponsorship scheme, forced the Liberals to set aside $750,000 in a trust fund to pay back money improperly obtained by the party.

One memo to Mr. Himelfarb indicates the strategy office was set up almost immediately after the Martin government launched the inquiry in February 2004 upon the release of Auditor General Sheila Fraser's damning report on the sponsorship program.

Dated Feb. 18, 2004, the memo describes "the intergovernmental co-ordination group" being set up in the PCO, the nerve centre of the federal government, under the proposed direction of bureaucrat Guy McKenzie. However, the summary and attachments are mostly blanked out, under section 23 of the Access to Information Act, due to "solicitor/client privilege."

The office's operating budget now totals $1,068,000 after its first-year budget of $534,000 in 2004-05 was renewed for a second year, according to Hali Gernon of the PCO.

Remember when I expressed some sympathy for why the Conservative Party might not want to release the Grewal-Murphy tape to the RCMP? Read this next bit:
Ms. Gernon said the office has a small staff of about "four or five" employees and since June 2004 has been under the direction of lawyer Ursula Menke, the former deputy commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard and inspector general of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
The team will continue to operate until the Inquiry concludes and "until the end of the fiscal year to allow any required followup to the inquiry."
Judge Gomery has made it clear he doesn't appreciate the Martin government adding its hidden costs to his overall budget. In an exchange with an ad executive, the judge said: "What they did was ... put together the fees of everyone in the Justice Department that worked on the file, the photocopies they made at the PCO and God knows what other expenses that were totally beyond the commission's control."
Bookkeeping, Librano style. Judge Gomery knows it well.

Posted by Debbye at 12:40 PM | Comments (0)

They'd rather switch and fight

May 24 - Their numbers are growing: Harper liberals

(Thanks, maz2.)

Oh, and bonus points for those who get the reference in the post title.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:27 AM | Comments (5)

The perseverence of Stephan Hachemi

Zahra Kazemi

May 24 - The fruitlessness of soft power has come to be symbolized by one outstanding example: the failure to achieve justice for Montreal photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, who was murdered on or about July 11, 2003, in an Iranian prison for the unspeakable crime of photographing a vigil outside Evin Prison - the very prison in which she would later be tortured and killed.

Those of us who recognized immediately that Kazemi's death was linked to the struggle for democracy in Iran hoped - briefly - that the Canadian government would, by pressing Iran for answers to Kazemi's death, be able to assist their struggle. We were disappointed, because the Canadian government seemed to do more to protect the Iranian mullocracy than a Canadian citizen.

Their calumny was further revealed by later reports that she was defiant in prison and was subjected to unspeakable torture, but we did not get this information from the government which should have pressed the investigation but from British, American and Canadian news sources.

The lethargic response by the Canadian government, first by accepting the dubious explanation of the Iranian government and then by dithering, delaying, and finally mildly protesting was sharply challenged by the news media in Canada, which did not allow the story to die, and by Kazemi's son, Stephan Hachemi.

Coincidentally, 2 months after Jean Chretien stepped down as PM Khazakhstan News reported that he had been named special adviser to the board of directors of Calgary-based PetroKazakhstan, and the same item mentions a lucrative swap arrangement with Iranian oil refineries (read relevant excerpts here.)

Kazemi's son wrote a scathing letter to the National Post which can be read here.

And then there is this: The Canadian ambassador to Iran has been recalled twice as a response to Iran's failure to achieve justice for Kazemi, but relations with Iran are not only friendly but downright cozy - so cozy that the Canadian government planned to give an official from Iran - a known state sponsor of terror and a member of the Axis of Evil - a look at the workings of the Advance Passenger Information database in August, 2003, little over a month since Kazemi's death had been confirmed as due to torture (more information under extended entry.) (Link from lfg.)

Stephan Hachemi has been steadfast in his quest to achieve justice for his mother and again renewed his call for Canada to take action against Iran.

Canada's record is dismal, though. Thus far it is Iran 5, Canada 0.

CBC has provided their timeline, and I have a slightly different (and admittedly incomplete) one in the extended entry.

Tracking the Kazemi case:

Students in Iran held pro-democracy demonstrations on June 10, 2003, and for the following nine nights. The demonstrations were broken up by thugs on motorcycles wielding clubs and chains and it was estimated that over 4,000 people had been arrested. Canadian citizen and photojournalist Zahra Kazemi was arrested on or about June 24 for photographing people holding a vigil outside Evin prison where the demonstrators and student leaders were being held.

According to an eyewitness, she was defiant in prison:

When Ms Kazemi was first challenged, she was told to leave her camera and collect it the following day. She refused, ripping out the film to expose the frames. Her defiance ensured she was kept in prison.

"She was confronted by the authorities and asked to give the camera and the film," said Hamid Mojtahedi, a Canadian human rights lawyer with access to officials involved in Ms Kazemi's case. "She resisted."

According to the same eyewitness, she was still conscious when she was taken to the hospitalon or about June 27 but was not given medical treatment for 12 hours during which she lapsed into a coma. The official story was that she lost consciousness in the prison and was finally admitted to a hospital. Despite repeated requests by her son, Stephan Hachemi, and the Canadian government, Kazemi's body was not returned to Canada for autopsy and burial.

Bill Graham, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, was vacationing in Corsica at the time and in public statements at the time, seemingly accepted without question the Iranian official version that she fell, hit her head, and went into a coma.

The CBC was unrelenting in keeping the story going and urging further investigation into Kazemi's death. They ran a story on July 16, 2003, Iran admits beating killed Kazemi with an odd lead paragraph:

Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi died of a fractured skull, but it may have been an accident, Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said.

Graham said he learned about her death in "an open and frank exchange" on the phone with Iran's foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi, on Wednesday.


Mohammad Ali Abtahi, Iran's vice-president, admitted Wednesday that Kazemi died as a result of being beaten.

But Graham said Foreign Minister Kharrazi told him that "she might have fallen or had an accident." He said that until it's known what happened, it's not possible to say what caused it.

Graham, speaking from France where he is on vacation, said the minister assured him that the perpetrators, if any, would be prosecuted.

Graham said Canada must be satisfied that the Iranian investigation is open and transparent.

"If crimes have been committed, we're pushing the Iranian government to punish those who committed the crime," Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said earlier Wednesday. But "we have to know all the facts" before acting, he added.

The CBC article deserves to be read in full to get the full sense of how unwilling the Canadian government was annoy Iran.

Yet according to a Globe and Mail April 1, 2005, article,

[Current Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre] Mr. Pettigrew added that Canada has known from the outset that Ms. Kazemi was murdered. "We do not accept the Iranian government's allegations that this was an accident. We never have."
On July 20, 2003, Kazemi's son, Stephan Haremi, continued to press for the return of Kazemi's body to Canada for an autopsy and burial and expressed his frustration at the passive behaviour of the Canadian government.

Reporters Without Borders joined the fight, as did Amnesty International. Yet the Canadian government refused to use the combined weight of these organizations to push for an immediate disclosure of the truth.

On July 22, 2003, the Canadian government "asked" that an inquiry be held into Kazemi's death.

July 23, Reporters Without Borders urged the Canadian government to take the initiative and cites other abuses of journalists in Iran and, on July 25, called upon the EU to break with Iran until officials responsible for Zahra Kazemi's death had been brought to trial.

Then, on July 27, it was reported that 5 people had been detained in connection with the death. Hachemi proposed the case taken before the ICC and dismissed the arrests as a "diversion" to throw the Canadian government off track." The day after Hachemi's call was made public, Graham suddenly seemed to understand what the case was all about:

"We wish to use the case both to open further democracy in Iran and also the protection of journalists," said Graham, whose son Patrick spent time in Iraq covering the war. But Graham has yet to speak with the Iranian foreign minister or confirm the reports surrounding the arrest of five security officials.
Only two persons were being detained in Kazemi's death. Then, for no apparent reason, Iran threatened to exclude Canada from the investigation altogether. (As the quote in the post notes, Canadian media suddenly became aware there was a power struggle between the mullahs and the reformists.)

Sept. 2, Canada asked the U.N. Human Rights Commission to take the Kazemi case after the charges against the two interogators were dropped.

On mid-September, a coalition including Stephan Hachemi made a series of proposals including turning the Kazemi case over to the U.N. Human Rights Commission.

On Sept. 22, an intelligent agent was charged with the "semi-premeditated" murder of Kazemi.

On Sept. 30, the Canadian ambassador to Iran was set to return.

Oct. 2, MPs voted unanimously for Kazemi's body to be returned.

Oct. 8, the accused enters a not guilty plea.

By Oct. 29, the investigation in Iran was bogged down with accusations and counter-accusations.

Dec, 2003, Chretien leaves government, travels to China, joins PetroKazakhstan, which develops close relations with Tehran and China.

Jan. 8, 2004, PBS Frontline aired a story about Iran and included the Kazemi case in their investigations.

Feb., 2004, Chretien's ties to PetroKazakhstan and the Iranian oil deal is made public.

June 8, 2004, Stephan Hachemi bitterly thanks Chretien for all he did to bring Kazemi's killers to justice, citing Chretien's connection to PetroKazakhstan and upcoming visit to Iran.

July 18, the Canadian ambassador to Iran was recalled when the court for the Kazemi trial banned foreign observers. Shortly afterward, the proceedings ended with no information as to when they would resume.

Nov. 25, 2004, Canada announced it was "mending" relationships with Iran. According to the Globe and Mail article (cited below) the government first learned of the medical testimony that month.

The Mar 31, 2005, Globe and Mail quotes Zahra Kazemi's attending physician who describes her injuries:

In Ottawa yesterday, Dr. Shahram Azam — a former physician with the Iranian security police who last month received asylum in Canada — spoke in great detail about the gruesome injuries to which Ms. Kazemi eventually succumbed in July of 2003.

She had a badly broken nose, a smashed eardrum, broken fingers, a crushed toe, missing fingernails and toenails, a severe head injury, signs of flogging, and deep bruising all over her body, he said.

An examination by an emergency-room nurse revealed "brutal" damage to Ms. Kazemi's genital area, which the nurse said could only have been the result of violent rape. "Those injuries, extensive and severe as they were, could only have been sustained during torture, Dr. Azam said. "It was the first time I saw someone who was tortured," he said in Farsi, speaking softly but confidently. "It was shocking for me."

Dr. Azam's testimony is the first account by a medical witness that categorically contradicts the official Iranian explanation for Ms. Kazemi's death, which is that she died after fainting and hitting her head.

This is the same article in which Pettigrew asserts that they always knew Kazemi was murdered. (Link via excellent post at Let it Bleed.)

The Canadian ambassador to Iran has been recalled twice as a response to Iran's failure to achieve justice for Kazemi, but relations with Iran were not only friendly but downright cozy - so cozy that the Canadian government planned to give an official from Iran - a known state sponsor of terror and a member of the Axis of Evil - a look at the workings of the Advance Passenger Information database in August, 2003, little over a month since Kazemi's death had been confirmed as due to torture. (link from lfg.)

The Canadian government understood fully how outraged the public would have been:

Iran had requested that one of its officials, Seyed Abu Talib Najafi, be briefed on the workings of Canada's new Advance Passenger Information database, designed to identify potential threats to civil aircraft before they board.

According to e-mails obtained under the Access to Information Act, Customs officials were concerned about the visit becoming public. One e-mail said: "We should keep this as low-key as possible."

Two e-mails within Canada Customs suggested there were concerns: "What's our position about the requesting country? ... in view of the current situation with Iran."

Just eight days previously, the Department of Foreign Affairs had recalled Canada's ambassador to Iran because it had refused Canadian inquiries about the Zahra Kazemi case. Kazemi, a Montreal-based photojournalist, was beaten to death after being arrested for photographing a Tehran prison riot. Iran maintains her death was accidental.

Foreign Affairs told Customs officials its only concern was "whether [Najafi] will be able to get his visa in time."

In dozens of e-mails, there is no mention of Kazemi, and no one questions why Canada would help Iran, considered by some to be a brutal police state. As well, no one asks why a government with a known track record of sponsoring terrorist attacks might want information about a new passenger security screening procedure.

With just days to go before the visit, a flurry of e-mails reveals that there were last-minute concerns about Najafi's identity. Canada believed his first name was Nasser – only after he landed in Canada did they learn his actual name.

And in an e-mail sent after Najafi was already en route to Canada, Chrystiane Roy, Iran desk officer at Foreign Affairs, informed Customs that if Najafi already had a visa, "it would be too late to do any screening."

In the end, it was only the huge North American blackout of Aug. 14, 2003 that prevented the briefing session.

One might say the fortuitous black-out, although whther by divine intervention, Rovian/CIA/FBI nefarious doings or plain old good luck is up to you (although I'd ask you at least consider that the CIA/FBI might have done it - they could use a successful operation, deserved or no, to balance their blotted copybooks!)

The article concludes with another alarming note:

Instead, Rachelle May, now acting director general of the Canada Border Services Agency, took Najafi across the street for a coffee. In a report sent afterwards to Foreign Affairs, she writes, "He showed interest in Advanced Passenger Information." (Emphasis added)
It is ironic that on the same day that the publications ban on the Gomery Inquiry is being attacked that there needs to be an acknowledgement that it was in fact the CBC that kept the Kazemi story in the fore even as the Canadian government was downplaying it.

Those responsible for Kazhra Kazemi's death have never been brought to justice.

16:06 - Pieter has a round-up as well, and I should note that one blogger who played a major role in trying to stir some government action, Paul, moved sites in the meantime so the urls I used in linking his site have changed - thus the incomplete record of the early days. His posts are in at his new site in his July, 2003, archives but I didn't have time to weed them out. It was Paul, by the way, who coined "Screeching Bill Graham" in honour of the miserable role that wanker played in trying to downplay Kazemi's death.

Posted by Debbye at 04:38 AM | Comments (2)

May 23, 2005

Two Operation Squeeze Plays

May 23 - That's right, two, and they both are taking place in Baghdad.

The first is military: Iraqi, U.S. troops launch offensive:

Seven Iraqi battalions backed by U.S. forces launched an offensive in the capital Sunday in an effort to stanch the violence that has killed more than 550 people in less than a month.
From the D.O.D., Operation Squeeze Play Aims to Crack Down on Terrorists:
WASHINGTON, May 23, 2005 – Local commanders from the Iraqi Interior and Defense ministries and coalition forces met May 21 to discuss Operation Squeeze Play, which is designed to deal with terrorist actions in Baghdad's Rusafa neighborhood.

"This is just the beginning of a new era of cooperation between the Iraqi police, public-order brigades and the Iraqi army. From now on, forces from the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defense and coalition forces will work together to defeat the terrorists in Baghdad," U.S. Army Col. Joseph DiSalvo, commander of coalition forces in the eastern Baghdad area, said to open the meeting.

An Iraqi commander said it was important to note this was the first time all the different Iraqi ministry units were meeting to talk about an operation. "This will go a long way toward making all of our groups more effective and unified," he said. (Emhasis added)

It was not without price: the price must be endured:
Four U.S. soldiers were killed May 22 in operations in Iraq, while coalition and Iraqi forces continue to round up weapons and suspected terrorists.

Three soldiers attached to Task Force Freedom were killed and one was injured in two separate terrorist attacks in Mosul, military officials in Baghdad reported. The injured soldier was taken to a combat hospital for treatment.

One Task Force Liberty soldier died of his wounds after a car bomb exploded near a combat patrol in Tikrit, officials said.

But we must maintain our focus on the big picture:
In other operations, coalition and Iraqi forces in Baghdad detained 285 suspected terrorists in less than 24 hours, officials said today. The action was part of Operation Squeeze Play, a "massive joint combat operation," which is still under way, to hunt down, kill or capture terrorists who have been staging attacks in the Iraqi capital.


"The majority of Iraqis are fed up with terrorism and terrorists, and they're doing something about it by turning them in," Kent said.

Iraqi and coalition forces have realized some recent successes in thwarting attacks. (Emphasis added)

Freedom isn't free, an old axiom yet one nonethless true, although the ongoing attacks on civilians wasn't supposed to be part of the deal.

Zarqawi has tried to alter the conditions of war, and although he may believe it is acceptable to murder innocent men, women and children in his bloodlust, we most vehemently disagree and will forge on and conduct this war under our terms and true to our moral convictions.

And as for second squeeze play, we have this not terribly surprising story from the NY Times: Sunni Arabs Are Uniting To Compete with Shiites, a somewhat misleading headline which reports something that was hoped for:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, May 21 - In a stark reversal from earlier this year, when Sunni Arabs boycotted national elections here, a broad gathering of Sunni sheiks, clerics and political leaders formed a political alliance on Saturday, seeking to win back the political ground they had lost to Shiites.

The meeting was the first wide-scale effort by Iraq's embittered and increasingly isolated Sunnis to band together politically, and was broadly attended by what organizers said was about 2,000 Sunni Arabs from Baghdad and nearby cities. The gathering was an implicit acknowledgment that it had been a mistake to turn away from the political process and allow Shiites to control the government for the first time in modern Iraqi history. (Emphasis added.)

Let Freedom Ring! Iraq belong to the Iraqi people - Sunni, Kurd, and Shiite - not us, and most certainly not to a deranged Jordanian psychopath.

There's a bit more in the article about feigned outrage over posting the photos of Saddam in his undies, which of course was wrong (and besides, gave my cats nightmares) but I'll always have this:

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.jpg

Posted by Debbye at 01:30 PM | Comments (6)

Grewal-Murphy (Updated)

May 23 - Oh course there's more about the attempt to bribe Grewal (Grewal says he wanted to show Grits were dirty) and the contention that Grewal sought the bribe (Grewal wouldn't take no for an answer in today's news.

I tend to deal with unwanted advances from persistent types a bit more decisively than Chief-of-staff Tim Murphy and Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh: I refuse to meet with them or talk to them. Nothing says "No" like, well, "No!"

Having beer and pizza together says "Maybe," not "No" (but then I haven't dated in over 30 years, so maybe the rules have changed.)

I've lost track a bit: exactly where did the conversation(s) between Grewal and Murphy take place? I seem to remember that it was in Grewal's office, but can't find confirmation.

The refusal to release the tape raises some awkward questions; now, I can understand why there might be some hesitancy to turn the tape over to the RCMP (that's surely the saddest thing I ever wrote) but I should think it would be appropriate to turn over a copy of that tape or even (heh!) release it on the internet.

(Links via Neale News.)

13:08 - Keith has confirmed that eight minutes of the tape are available here for those who wish to hear the portion for themselves. [Note: every time I've tried to access it my computer crashes and thus I can't vouch for it personally but there are some, like Andrew Coyne and Keith, with whom I am more than willing to to on faith.]

Keith raises some interesting questions here about Grewal and a possible Liberian connection, and yes, I think it best if we simply go after the truth.

17:28 The Globe and Mail is also urging the tapes be released, and Kate has an interesting conjecture here as to why letting them dribble out slowly is a good strategy.

Posted by Debbye at 11:30 AM | Comments (13)

Andrew Coyne speaks

May 23 - In case anyone hasn't checked his website, Coyne has a new post up which links to the Toronto Star's Graham Fraser on the Grewal-Murphy tape and notes Funny, that's just what I said.

Posted by Debbye at 09:03 AM | Comments (1)

Poundmaker protest

May 23 - One of the stories I intended to cover until the Coyne situation threw me off-stride was the Poundmaker First Nation Working Group protest that Darcey of Dust My Broom has been covering here with follow-ups here and here.

Encapsulated, members of the Cree Nation are taking action against corruption, and the shame of it is that

a) they have a lot more guts than we do, and
b) we are too intimidated by the "hands off criticizing the leaders of the victimized segments of society" meme that has allowed corruption to flourish when we should be supporting those who demand clean government and are willing to fight for it.

We didn't have a problem criticizing corruption in the Ukraine, but this is in our own backyard and we suddenly are too polite?

Read the posts and spread the word. The issues raised by this latest incidence of corruption hits too close to home to go all squeamish.

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

An open letter to the subjects of Canada

May23 - Crabby mrbill is issuing a challenge (and he has the creds to do so): An open letter to the subjects of Canada:

Our freedoms are being taken away from us, and like sheep, we don't say anything and go merrily on our way. Big brother is taking care of us, or we do say something, and it is on our blogs, and we visit other blogs and leave comments to say we have been there and we agree with what we have read, and then we go back to our blogs and link to what we have just read with a new post, and so it goes, round and round, and all the while, our leaders just continue doing what they want.

Ask yourself, and be honest with your answers.

Some of the questions are ones that can make us squirm and, darnit, he's right.

Posted by Debbye at 03:32 AM | Comments (1)

May 22, 2005

AC under threat? UPDATED - YES! (but he has surfaced)

May 22 -

04:20 - Commenter Candace left a note that comments at Andrew Coyne's blog are gone - and I mean all of them seemingly on all posts, past and current.

I'm trying to find out if there is some innocuous explanation, like band-width or something, or if something more disturbing is going on.

I just woke up and thus am in an ultra state of not knowing here ... let me know in the comments if you know anything.

Andrew Coyne's blog has been, arghh, I'm not sufficiently awake to express how important the comment section has been for us but then I don't really have to explain to those those of you who hang there.

Candace, thanks.

04:31 - Wow, AC is being sued by Tim Murphy, Paul Martin's chief of staff? Robot Guy, aka Ed Minchau, has a lengthy post here. (7:09 - Note: you may have to hit refresh a few times or go to the home url. Darned blogger.)

Candace is right: this is an assault on freedom of the press. According to this in the Globe and Mail,

"Mr. Murphy has retained legal counsel and will be pursuing a libel action against Andrew Coyne of the National Post, and is also considering a potential claim against Gilles Duceppe."
05:55 - Pursing leads from the comments at sda, I too am asking "What Clark commentary?" [13:46 - Scratch that request. I learned the cleaned-up version and it's not worth learning more although it was instrumental to AC's decision to suspend comments.]

I'm leaving this post on top until I find out what's going on.

9:07 - Bruce is also on the case (see post right under this one here - it too has a later time on it which will keep it below this one throughout the day) and it appears some some comments under some posts at AC's site are now readable.

10:26 Commenter maz2 reminded me of a previous incident in which the Canadian government interfered in blogs (the attempt to close down Paul Martin Times) and I remembered another one: the heavy-handed treatment of BlogsCanada by the Canadian government.

I've been asked before why there are no Milblogs in Canada. Is the answer staring us in the face?

12:30 A wise man just reminded me that words like "alleged," "it appears that" and "there might be" are our best friends these days.

12:41 - Coyne speaks! It appears he doesn't yet realize how worried we all were.

Those nine days of infamy really have destroyed my beliefs about Canada. I'm going to spend the next few minutes breathing again and contemplate how easy it was for me to assume the worst.

17:47 - From this May 20 post at The Raging Ranter, Mike Duffy of CTV's Countdown reported that "Murphy wants to sue Andrew Coyne for printing transcripts of the taped conversation in which he was attempting to bribe MP Gurmalt Grewal." (The quote is from the post, not from Duffy.) The post pre-dates the Globe report of May 21 that states that Murphy has retained council etc. (see excerpt above.) (Link via London Fog.)

I don't get it; AC's post on his site linked to the Globe and Mail for the transcript here and that article is dated May 20, 1:02 a.m.

This is making less and less sense. Kate isn't the only person wondering what in in the column Bruce and I published could possibly be considered actionable.

I am becoming more and more convinced that we are dealing with a case of intimidation by the government, not libel by Coyne.

May 23 - 12:15 - Some welcome support from Pixy Misa in Australia: First they came for the bloggers.

Posted by Debbye at 08:20 PM | Comments (37)

Dissent being stifled (cont.)

There is cause to believe that a recent column of Andrew Coyne's is what some find objectionable. If a journalist posing questions about a government official's assertions is cause for a libel suit then we are all in trouble.

This is Part 2 of that column, continued from Bruce's post and explanation here.

The Prime Minister's people do not deny that Mr. Murphy met with Mr. Grewal, or that it is his voice on the tape. Their defence is that it was Mr. Grewal who first approached them, and not the reverse. Oh, and that there was no deal. But how does it matter who first approached whom, so long as the the two ended up in the same room? And if there was no deal, why so much artful talking around it? How long does it take to say "No"?

What's clear, moreover, is that this was hardly an isolated event: Mr. Murphy speaks of similar discussions with several other Conservative MPs. And we know of one, in particular, with whom the discussions proved notably fruitful. Offering a Cabinet post to Belinda Stronach to induce her to vote with the government would not ordinarily be illegal, though it is certainly unethical -- and arguably unconstitutional, given the government's tenuous position in the House. But offering positions outside the House -- a Senate seat, a diplomatic posting -- as an inducement to someone to vote a certain way, or not vote a certain way, would plainly be against the law.

At the least, it would be conduct unbecoming a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada.

"A person can say, 'Look, I obviously abstained and created some issues' and then they can say, 'I'm thinking hard about what the right thing for my riding and the contribution I would like to make.'"
All of which is only the squalid terminus of a weeks-long effort at self-preservation the likes of which this country has never seen: from rewriting the budget three times in the space of a fortnight, to tossing billions of dollars at every passing province, to refusing to seek the immediate confidence of the House after last week's defeat, as precedent and convention require: the precedent and convention on which our Constitution vitally depends.

The Liberals have caused incalculable damage in the course of this scorched-earth campaign: to the treasury, to constitutional government, to our political culture. And, as it happens, to their own political fortunes, in the longer run. Before all this began, the Prime Minister remained a sympathetic figure to much of the public: the worst people said of him was that he was not cut out for politics.

No one would say that now. In recent polls, upwards of 60% of the public have said they believe Mr. Martin knew more about the sponsorship scandal than he has let on, that he would lie for political gain, and so on.

They may have won the day, but they have done so at the expense of severely tarnishing their "brand" -- that is, not just as Liberals, but as the Liberals who aren't those other Liberals, whose reputation is beyond repair.

They may come to regret this victory before long.

"In advance of that explicit discussions about Senate, not Senate I don't think are very helpful and I don't think can be had in advance of an abstention tomorrow."

"You can easily say, if you don't like, you can stay home or stay back where you are or if you do like we can make an arrangement that allows you to move."

"It's much like Belinda, where there is a third party who is independent of both sides. So you didn't approach. We didn't approach...."

To re-affirm Bruce's pledge, this will be taken down if Andrew so requests.

For a refresher course on this controversy, read Andrew's posts here and here.

13:41 - Coyne speaks! It appears he doesn't yet realize how worried we all were. He explains why he dropped comments but that doesn't actually concern this post except inasmuch as it was their suspension that led to learning about the threatened legal action.

Posted by Debbye at 07:12 PM | Comments (7)

Amnesty Int'l "adopts" deserter

May 22 - I'm too tired and cranky to write reasonably about this so I'll let it speak for itself: Amnesty International says U.S. war dodger would be prisoner of conscience

TORONTO (CP) - Prominent human-rights group Amnesty International has declared that it will adopt a young American war dodger as a "prisoner of conscience" if Canada deports him to the United States and he ends up in jail.

Amnesty says it considers Jeremy Hinzman a legitimate conscientious objector to the war in Iraq, even though Canadian immigration authorities have decided otherwise.

Hinzman, 26, fled to Canada in search of asylum just days before his Airborne Division unit was deployed to Iraq to fight in a war he considered illegal under international law, one in which he feared he would be forced to commit atrocities.

His refugee claim was rejected in March by the Immigration and Refugee Board, and now Hinzman, who has filed a Federal Court challenge to the ruling in hopes of staving off deportation, faces a court-martial in the U.S. and up to five years in jail.

In a decision taken at Amnesty's international office in London, the organization said it considered Hinzman "to have a genuine conscientious objection" to serving as a combatant in Iraq.

"Accordingly, should he be imprisoned upon his return to the United States, Amnesty International would consider him to be a prisoner of conscience," the group said in a statement.

The designation is important, at least symbolically, because it will raise awareness of the issue and put public pressure on American authorities, said Gloria Nafziger, a refugee co-ordinator with Amnesty's Canadian section.

"People would write letters to the U.S. government asking that he be released and stating their objection to his imprisonment," Nafziger said.

"We have varying degrees of success when we take that position."

Hinzman's lawyer Jeffry House said Amnesty's decision cuts to the core of the case.

"It means that if the Canadian government sends Jeremy back to imprisonment in the United States, it will be complicit in a serious violation of human rights," House said.

"Amnesty recognized that a deeply held ethical refusal to kill other human beings cannot justify a jail term, however powerful the country which proposes to do so."

Posted by Debbye at 06:44 PM | Comments (6)

The "W" word

May 22 - Linda Williamson asks in today's Toronto Sun Is it ever acceptable to call a woman a whore? which is the latest word on the storm that ensued after some male politicians used the W word in connection with Belinda Stronach.

She makes a very convincing case that if the word fits, etc., and makes several other good points about the long association of politics with whoring, gender quotas (or the lack of them) and the upside-down double-standard that passes for integrity these days.

Marzi wrote a post earlier this week that also proved conclusively that BS is a whore.

But I would suggest that we really shouldn't use the "W" word when we're talking about a female. It's sexist and might, you know, lower her self esteem.

I think it better that we keep it dignified and use more acceptable words like harlot, strumpet, Jezebel, hooker, sporting woman, courtesan, Delilah, Cyprian, hetarata, drab, fallen woman, painted woman, Paphian, soiled dove, slut, scarlet woman, tart, trollop, floozy, chippie, harridan, streetwalker, or, my personal favourites, hoochie-koochie girl and woman of easy virtue.

What nobody seems to remember with all the kerfuffle over the "W" word is that it is far, far worse to be deemed a treacherous, back-stabbing, self-aggrandizing betrayer than a whore. After all, the lowest circle of Hell is reserved for traitors, not whores:

Dante next follows Virgil into Judecca, the Fourth Ring of the Ninth Circle of Hell and the lowest depth. Here, those who betrayed their benefactors spend eternity in complete icy submersion.
A huge, mist-shrouded form lurks ahead, and Dante approaches it. It is the three-headed giant Lucifer, plunged waist-deep into the ice. His body pierces the center of the Earth, where he fell when God hurled him down from Heaven. Each of Lucifer’s mouths chews one of history’s three greatest sinners: Judas, the betrayer of Christ, and Cassius and Brutus, the betrayers of Julius Caesar.
Just something to think about, Belinda. Remember: Brutus thought he was acting for the higher good too and Judas was helping to maintain stability.

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 03:40 PM | Comments (3)

Mark Steyn on the recent Newsweek unpleasantness

May 22 - New Mark Steyn column in the Chicago Sun-Times on the fall-out from that Newsweek article and the opportunistic manipulation of it by Imran Khan: Cricket star knows how to fire up fanatics.

Steyn calls Imran Khan, who wants to be involved in Pakistan politics, an opportunist:

So, having demonstrated little previous interest in the preoccupations of the Muslim street, Imran then began pandering to it. I doubt whether he personally cared about that Newsweek story one way or the other, but he's an opportunist and that's why he went out of his way to incite his excitable followers.

It's not the mobs, so much as the determination of the elites to keep their peoples in a state of ignorance. The most educationally repressive form of Islam, for example, is funded and promoted by Saudi princes who, though not as handsome as Imran, also spend a lot of time in the West -- gambling, drinking, womanizing and indulging other tastes that even the wildest night on the tiles in Riyadh just can't sate. Whereas most advanced societies believe that an educated population is vital to the national interest, many Muslim elites seem to have concluded than an uneducated population is actually far more useful. And, when you look at Saudi funding of radical madrassahs in hitherto moderate Muslim regions from the Balkans to Indonesia, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that they're having great success de-educating hitherto relatively savvy parts of the world.

As a sidenote, those complaining that members of the Bush administration put undue pressure on Newsweek to retract the item have, as usual, missed the point: it is the steady erosion of trust Americans once had in the news media that is the biggest danger to our country.

They've cried Wolf! so often that a true story of wrong-doing may well be ignored, and that endangers our country. That's the betrayal, and that's what they don't get.

Posted by Debbye at 07:49 AM | Comments (3)

The End of Canada?

May 22 - My bad; I usually poise the mouse over commenters' names to see if they have blogs but don't keep re-checking so missed that Dave J. was writing at It Comes in Pints?.

He's written a very interesting prognosis about The End of Canada? and how the different regions would fare.

It's an important read because the subject is no longer speculative. It's surprising that so many, including me, are unsurprised that so many minds are thinking along these lines. When the Wicked Witch of Aurora (nice one, Damian!) claimed she was slithering over to the Liberals to protest the alliance between the Bloc and the Conservative Party jaws dropped because those following reactions in Quebec over the revelations of the Gomery Inquiry knew that the separatist cause had been re-ignited as a direct result of the revealed corruption and fraud shamelessly conducted by the federal and Quebec wing of the Liberal Party.

Two commenters over at an old post at Captain's Quarters humourously suggested that Canada could be saved if the separatists in Quebec and Alberta joined forces to eject Ontario ... the joke is that they weren't entirely wrong.

The Liberals hope that time will ease the outrage, but they have overlooked one critical fact: you can dampen the fire but that don't mean the embers go out. Any decent psychologist can tell you that it's the things we repress that come back to haunt us, and even if the current outrage is reduced to a simmering state it won't disappear but, like Athena, will spring fully grown.

Oh Canada, having failed to protect those things that made you great you are past parody and now on the edge of dissolution.

Posted by Debbye at 05:17 AM | Comments (7)

May 20, 2005

The fight has just begun

I read the news today, oh boy ...

I really did try to write something early this morning, but writing "Dayum, I'm tired" was all I could come up with.

A good day's sleep and being on the verge of this Victoria Day weekend kind of rejuvenates me, and I can't help feeling that some good things have come out of these last two weeks.

The biggest one is that the contention that Canadian politics are boring has been shot down. What a ride! We've watched more live House sessions these past weeks than ever, and have been educated about procedures and precedents in Westminster-style Parliaments.

I'm running late for work (what else is new?) but I suddenly feel optimistic: positions have hardened, and I don't think the Grits are calling the tune right now. They may control Parliament, but they gave up the last shred of decency and integrity to gain it, and that is something that will be tickling voters in the backs of their minds.

I'm going to be thinking along the lines of "where do we go from here" rather than mope about what has happened because I'm not a whiny Democrat baby.

Guts. Principles. Program as opposed to agenda.

Buck up, friends. We have only just entered the fray.

Posted by Debbye at 09:15 PM | Comments (7)

May 19, 2005

Liberals live to steal another day

May 19 - 153-152: the Speaker of the House cast the deciding vote which broke the 152-152 tie and allowed the Liberals to survive budget vote and continue their corrupt rule over this diminished country.

CTV puts a curious spin on it:

Prime Minister Paul Martin put his 11-month-old Liberal minority government to the test today, and passed.
Huh. I guess they see the vote as the test, whereas I see the events and manipulations leading up to the vote as the test.

Independents Chuck Cadman and David Kilgour split their votes, the latter voting against the budget amendment that the Liberals drew up to secure NDP votes.

The tie vote highlights the damage Belinda Stronach's defection cost this country, and may have set off events that could see it disintegrate.

This isn't an episode of Dallas where the irascible J.R. pulls shady maneuvers to get what he wants - that is fiction, and viewers knew that plot twists didn't affect their lives or pocketbooks. This was a "test" that addressed the leadership of a country in crisis, and that they survived that test basically by cheating is hardly reason to celebrate.

Canada has just entered a period of unknown unknowns and although an election would not have solved everything, it would have had the effect of applying a bandage over an open wound which, as it appears it will be left untended, will deepen the cynicism and apathy which afflicts this country.

Posted by Debbye at 08:11 PM | Comments (12)

No support for Stronach from Mulroney

May 19 - Stronach said he supported her decision, but Mulroney denies backing party switch.

She's lying like a Liberal already.

Posted by Debbye at 12:18 PM | Comments (3)


May 19 - Bill Whittle's new essay Sanctuary Part I and Part II are up!

Here’s my thesis: Civilizations fall because they become so successful that their citizens become, over many generations of increasing security and prosperity, further and further away from the reality of the human condition. The quest for “better” becomes so successful that after a few generations of hard work and ingenuity we have nothing left but the quest for “perfect.” More and more effort produces fewer and smaller results, because the quest for perfection is asymptotic. Perfection is unattainable.


Why then, do so many people – most of them on the far left – so fundamentally hate humanity?


So why -- someone? anyone? – why do otherwise intelligent and educated people so despise and detest American society, which has achieved more in the way of individual rights, science, arts, medicine, diversity, cooperation and prosperity than any other in history? Why would they oppose such a society when it is trying to bring these blessings to people who have spent thirty years cowering in dark places, fearful of letting the slightest word slip, or betraying their entire family with an askew glance or unguarded moment? Why would someone so viciously oppose freeing a People who have lived for a generation in total, abject fear?

It’s because they have never lived it. That is what I mean when I say reality has left their building. How many people would be opposing the war in Iraq if they had to watch, actually witness, three or four hundred thousand people being shot in the head in front of their families? At the rate of one life taken every single second, with one unique and irreplaceable person being extinguished every tick of the 60 Minutes stopwatch, going without sleep or rest, you would be at it for three and a half days. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Every face unique, every one someone’s son or mother or precious grandchild. Bang. Bang. Bang. All night and all day, every second for three and a half days. How long to wipe out your entire family? Four seconds? Eight? Thirteen? We have found that many in Iraq, more will follow, believe me.

How many children – four or five year old boys and girls – do you need to see raped in front of you before you change your mind about Iraq? Fifty? Fifty thousand? Will that make a dent in your stainless steel belief system? How many cries for mercy in the muffled corridors of prison basements? Ten thousand? Ten times ten thousand? They were there. They happened.

They just didn’t happen to you.

I could boil it down to "count your blessings" but then I'd be boiling too much out ... do we even remember what our blessings are?

Better brew a pot.

Posted by Debbye at 11:23 AM | Comments (1)

And I wouldn't believe this because ...

May 19 - Had the Liberal Party demonstrated a shred of integrity this past year I might have been more skeptical about this allegation (Tory MP Grewal says Liberals tried to bribe him) but my goodness, who haven't they tried to bribe?

"It's politics," CTV's Robert Fife told Canada AM on Thursday.

"It may seem unseemly to a lot of people that people are actually buying their votes and trying to cut deals for Senate seats or diplomatic appointments or cabinet jobs," he said.

"But in politics anything seems to go."

"It's high drama, it's exciting theatre to watch."

I beg to differ, sir. It is not high drama and it's not exciting theatre.

It's sordid, it's dishonourable, and it bears as much resemblence to governing a reputable nation as slasher films do to G.B. Shaw plays.

Have we sunk so low that our media is incapable of distinguishing vote tampering from leadership?

10:17 - Turns out maybe some laws were broken.

Posted by Debbye at 08:35 AM | Comments (1)

Bad, bad me

May 19 - I am a very, very bad person. A good person would express sympathy and sincere "get well wishes" for the bitch who called us "bastards," said she hated us, and stomped on a doll representing President Bush on television outspoken MP, Carolyn Parrish, who has appendicitis and could miss the budget vote tonight, but I am not a good person.

So I hope she's writhing in agony and misses tonight's vote.

But maybe it's all a scam and the offer of a Cabinet post would make her real better real fast. Should that be so I am, if not a good person, at least not a very bad person.

Don't mess with Texas. Or me.

10:26 - False alarm (also known as a publicity stunt.)

Fine; I hope she get a super-sized zit before the vote.

Posted by Debbye at 08:11 AM | Comments (2)

May 18, 2005

Betrayal of democracy


From The Librano Sign Generator (Thanks, John B.)

May 18 - A lot of media reaction to Stronach's defection yesterday to the Liberal Party. Andrew Coyne has a good round up (keep scrolling down) and it is fairly predictable.

Today's editorial in the Toronto Sun suggests a likely side-effect:

But by crossing the floor to join a corrupt Liberal government yesterday in exchange for a cabinet seat as minister of Human Resources and "democratic renewal," Stronach herself heightened the rampant cynicism that is increasingly turning all Canadians, especially the young, off politics. (Emphasis added)
In Andrew Coyne's latest column, Proof there are no more rules, he probably sums up what many are feeling:
I had thought the feeling of nausea that washed over me at the news was one of disgust. I now realize it was vertigo. The bottom has fallen out of Canadian politics. There are, quite literally, no rules any more, no boundaries, no limits. We are staring into an abyss, where everything is permissible.
He refers not merely to the betrayal by Stronach: the parliamentary crisis lies in the fact that every political tradition has been shredded since the non-confidence vote last week - before, if the cancellation of Opposition Days is taken into account - and the last vestige of the power supposedly exercised by Parliament is gone.
The loss of a confidence vote is no longer to be taken as a fundamental loss of democratic legitimacy, but rather as a signal to spend more, threaten louder, and otherwise trawl for votes on the opposite benches, for as long as proves necessary.
Those high-fiving because they believe the Liberals "pulled off a good one" do not seem to realize that what the government has done is an outright subversion of democracy worthy of a Putin or Kuchma. Stronach-types come and go, but this precedent will remain.

Rather than despair, though, we might take heart from this, written in March, 2004. Compare what was then and what is now.

Posted by Debbye at 02:33 PM | Comments (6)

Accountability in public service

May 18 - Testimony in yesterday's session of the Gomery Inquiry focused on the extent to which public servants are held to account when they violate guidelines and even laws, and Judge Gomery stated that it appears that Bureaucrats get off easy:

"Sometimes you get people who just, more or less deliberately, disregard the law," the judge told Stephen Wallace, a top official at the Treasury Board secretariat.

"There have been, it seems to me, well-documented instances of mismanagement . . . and I didn't see that they had any consequences on the employment of anybody.

"What happens if you find somebody who's just a bad apple?"

Wallace said managers in fact have the power to suspend, demote or fire employees who break internal rules.

But he acknowledged that power isn't always exercised.


Wallace was among a panel of public-service managers who appeared before Gomery to explain what has changed in government since Prime Minister Paul Martin shut down the scandal-plagued sponsorship program in 2003.

The responses were mixed.

Wallace said plans are in the works for tighter financial controls, better training for managers with signing authority as well as more detailed audits.

But government-wide training courses, including those ensuring bureaucrats know the law, have yet to be implemented, said Wallace.

Public Works official Richard Robesco, who oversees 450 government ad contracts, told the inquiry that training measures in his department haven't been updated recently.

Or, evidently, a code of ethics.

What recourse do we have when the civil service - those on whom we rely to ensure government is run honestly - violates our trust? An election that ends Liberal rule will restore some confidence, but the number of programs that have been mismanaged would seem to indicate that the rot goes deeper and is not limited to elected positions.

It seems sometime punishments are handed out, though, as in this controversy over a contract that was first reported August, 2003, and resulted in a chastisement:

The Canadian International Trade Tribunal has chastised the federal Liberals for failing to follow contracting rules and ordered a re-evaluation of bids on a moving contract plagued by allegations of favouritism.

The CITT backed Envoy Relocation's complaint that its bid was shortchanged by the feds last year, ordering the government to cut a $2,400 cheque to cover the real estate company's complaint costs.

The CITT has also given Public Works 15 days to have a fresh evaluation committee comb through the bids and "if this re-evaluation results in a new winning bidder ... the existing contract should be cancelled and awarded to that bidder."

The ruling is the latest in a war waged between real estate giants vying for the lucrative contract most recently awarded to Royal LePage Relocation last year.

The Commons public accounts committee will vote today on whether to ask the Auditor General to probe the contract.

(Link from AC.)

Posted by Debbye at 01:50 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2005

Galloway blusters in Senate subcommittee

May 17 - No real news in this, just more bluster as Galloway denies he was a recipient of oil vouchers. When he got off the plane last night, he told an AP reporter

"It's Mr. Coleman who's been all over the news and he's a lick-spittle, crazed neocon who is engaged in a witch hunt against all those he perceives to have betrayed the United States in their plan to invade and occupy Iraq,"
Before the meeting with the Senate subcommittee:
... Galloway blasted Coleman and his colleagues as being a “group of Christian fundamentalists and Zionist activists under the chairmanship of neo-con George Bush and the right-wing hawks.”
He told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent Investigations Subcommittee
[he said he] met Saddam Hussein "as many times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and give him maps. I met him to try and persade him to allow us to un weapons inspectors back in the country, a rather better use of the meetings than your own secy of defense made of his," ...
C'mon, George, you fly all the way over here and all we get is the same tired routine you've been using these past three years.

Two words: new speechwriters. Rumour is that you can afford it.

Posted by Debbye at 12:16 PM | Comments (7)

Europeans dislike the French (too)?

May 17 - At first I thought this was a joke: Europe unites in hatred of French.

Pollsters asked Europeans to list five words that describe the French and the answers were not very complimentary:

Why the French are the worst company on the planet, a wry take on France by two of its citizens, dredges up all the usual evidence against them. They are crazy drivers, strangers to customer service, obsessed by sex and food and devoid of a sense of humour.

But it doesn't stop there, boasting a breakdown, nation by nation, of what in the French irritates them.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Britons described them as "chauvinists, stubborn, nannied and humourless". ..

For the Germans, the French are "pretentious, offhand and frivolous". The Dutch describe them as "agitated, talkative and shallow." The Spanish see them as "cold, distant, vain and impolite" and the Portuguese as "preaching". In Italy they comes across as "snobs, arrogant, flesh-loving, righteous and self-obsessed" and the Greeks find them "not very with it, egocentric bons vivants".

Interestingly, the Swedes consider them "disobedient, immoral, disorganised, neo-colonialist and dirty".

This probably reflects mostly that other nationalities are not really that fond of other nationalities in Europe, but it begs the question as to why are they trying to submerge the sovereignty of each nation by ratifying the EU Constitution. The minimum requirement ought to be mutual respect and trust, no?

The French were also asked about other people:

Another section of the study deals with how the French see the rest of Europe.

"Believe it or not, the English and the French use almost exactly the same adjectives to describe each other - bar the word 'insular'," Mr Coldong said. "So the feelings are mutual."

12:48 Looks like Warwick got to the story first. Nice shots (heh.)

Posted by Debbye at 12:04 PM | Comments (3)

No Canadian troops to Darfur

May 17 - From the Globe and Mail, Ottawa to comply with ban on troops in Darfur and those sent will work out of Khartoum.

Sudan has criticized the Canadian government for making the announcement they would send troops without proper consulation and both they and the African Union, which leads peacekeeping forces in Darfur, stated they didn't want European or non-African troops.

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

Stronach crosses floor, takes Cabinet post

May 17 - Thank goodness she lost the bid for CPC leadership (Stronach crosses the floor, joins Liberal cabinet.)

I'm thinking some other strong things, too.

13:44 - CTV has a brief item on Harper's response in which attributed her betrayal to ambition and expresses his relief that she crossed before rather than during an election campaign.

I'm almost afraid to check any Western sources - Ontario is going to get hammered for this.

Kate says

I wonder if she realizes how many new Western separatists she just created today with her comments about Conservatives not understanding the "complexity" of the country? That the party must "grow in Quebec" before it's a national party? I wonder if she understands that her defection speech will be interpreted as another slap by a self-serving and politically ambitious Ontario power broker at western aspirations to finally have an equal voice in Canada?

Probably not. The woman is that stupid.

More from Kate here. Read the comments under both posts; it's grim.

The Western Standard blog The Shotgun starts with All bets are off and then here and, oh heck, just keep clicking posts to the right as they accumulate. Again, read the comments.

Brock dares answer the question you know you wanted to ask: What of McKay? Seems he's sticking with the CPC and maybe even dumped her over this. Meow!

14:15 - Benedict Belinda!
Jay makes a very perceptive observation (scroll down to text):

Assuming for the moment that the Grits [k]new Stronach was waivering their strategy of refusing to acknowledge confidence votes makes perfect sense.

Andrew Coyne sums it up with typical terseness:

There are no words. And yet, I have to write a column...
Damian has a round-up of reactions going and Yay! Bob Tarentino is back and delivers on Stronach and the media.

By the way, I neglected to mention that Western Standard editor Ezra Levant was interviewed by CBC Newsworld and the clip should be airing throughout the day (I've got it on in the background, and believe me when I say I'd only do it for Ezra.)

Good thing I don't have to into work tonight.

Posted by Debbye at 11:38 AM | Comments (10)

Take Back the Hill

May 17 - The last-minute "Take Back the Hill" rally yesterday was predictably small and Bruce reports that "it collided with a much larger farm protest, leaving the farmers firmly in control. But there was plenty of common ground between the groups, so I don't think anyone minded." He has photos.

More photos at Ravishing Light who makes an astute obserservation:

it's hard to piggyback specific discontent with the federal Liberals onto largely rural, unfocused discontent with ... all levels of government.
True enough. Adscam represents one, specific grievance: the outright theft of our tax dollars to promote the Liberal Party with the sole objective of achieving a one-party state (and if a few dollars happened to drop in a few pockets, it was all for a Good Cause.)

That should be sufficient to bring us all under a single banner regardless of party affiliation or political bent, as I suspect that even loyal Liberals are ashamed that their party was so base.

Links via Glenda, who makes this point:

Rural folk truly are angry enough to spit feathers.
So are truckers, parents, office workers (including a lot of outraged government employees,) health care workers, teachers, seniors, ______ (fill in the blank,) and yeah, ME.

Posted by Debbye at 09:33 AM | Comments (0)

Sheila Fraser before Gomery Inquiry

May 17 - Canada's favourite Auditor-General, Sheila Fraser, appeared before the Gomery Inquiry yesterday saying that she found Ad activities 'troubling'.

There are numerous instances where there was no paper trail to follow - and remember, this is what started the initial investigation:

When Fraser first looked into the sponsorship affair in 2002 - reviewing only three deals that had come to light by then - she concluded senior bureaucrats had broken nearly "every rule in the book" in awarding contracts to private-sector advertising and public relations firms.
Although there are no new revelations in the article, it is a quick reminder of some of the items that have fueled our outrage since the publication ban on Jean Brault's testimony was lifted.

The transcript for yesterday's testimony is up (requires Adobe Acrobat - it's a .pdf file) here or, if that doesn't work, go to transcripts and select May 16.

Ms. Fraser's testimony is in French but Assistant Auditor-General Ronald Campbell's testimony is in English, by the way.

Posted by Debbye at 08:50 AM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2005

A small step for women in Kuwait

May 16 - Kuwait grants women right to vote if they observe Islamic law.

A cursory look at the news hasn't produced any information about today's rally in Ottawa ... if you know anything, please let me know.

I have a meeting tonight so am out of here until tomorrow morning.

Posted by Debbye at 06:10 PM | Comments (0)

It led and they bled

May 16 - Maybe it was inevitable that a sensational, single-sourced story would spark the kind of events we've witnessed.

So Newsweek Retracts Koran-Desecration Story - big deal. That will not change a single thing because no one is the Mid-east is going to believe that the retraction was voluntary.

Afghanistan should sue Newsweek.

May 17 - 09:18 Welcome MSNBC readers! If I'd know you were coming I'd have ... written a more thoughtful, insightful post. Oh well, it is what it is. Free free to poke around the War on Terror archives or click on the masthead to take you to the front page.

Posted by Debbye at 06:05 PM | Comments (3)

"for Canada is in meltdown"

May 16 - The British media are noticing what is going on here (Your Majesty, this trip could get political.)

The Daily Telegraph notes that the Queen's trip here could be delayed if

... her private secretary, Sir Robin Janvrin, answers his phone between now and then to an apologetic Canadian prime minister delivering the news: "It's all off." For Canada is in political meltdown.

The Liberal government is teetering on the brink of collapse and, should prime minister Paul Martin fall before the Queen is airborne his advice could be to stay at home.

His demise will automatically trigger a general election, and Canada in the middle of an election campaign is no place for a Queen who has avoided political hot potatoes throughout her 53-year reign.

Mr Martin has so far staved off a vote of confidence over allegations that the Liberal government gave millions of dollars in contracts to firms in Quebec, with many of those firms, allegedly, then paying kickbacks to the Liberal Party.

But, under pressure from Conservatives, he is being forced to hold one on Thursday when parliament gathers to vote on his federal budget. That is two days into the Queen's nine-day tour of Saskatchewan and Alberta.

If he is still standing by the time she touches down, the prediction is he will lose the May 19 vote.

Thus the man who greets the Queen as her prime minister at the bottom of the runway steps at Regina may no longer be her prime minister two days later.

The article goes on to question what would happen at government functions held in her honour should there be no government.

(And yes, the facts as reported are somewhat off.)

And, for all you Constitutionalists, Pixy Misa compares today's situation in Canada to a 1975 incident in Australia in which the Governor-General recognized and performed his duty.

Posted by Debbye at 08:41 AM | Comments (3)

Saddam's Russian friends

May 16 - Taha Yasin Ramadan, Saddam's vice-president, told a U.S. Senate committee that oil vouchers were "compensation for support" in efforts to lift sanctions against the former regime.

A report issued by the investigation sub-committee for Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs has named highly placed Russian political figures as recipients of the oil vouchers: Alexander Voloshin, former chief of staff to President Vladimir Putin, and Russian lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

Russia's foreign ministry said it would be unethical to comment before the final release of the U.N.'s own internal commission report, an investigation with which Russia says it is cooperating.

The Senate committee will hold hearings on this matter tomorrow.

Posted by Debbye at 07:41 AM | Comments (1)

May 15, 2005

Take back the Hill rally

May 15 - Glenda covers the upcoming "Take back the Hill" rally scheduled for tomorrow at 1 p.m. on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in Just Between Us Girls and, in response to a Globe and Mail columnist who frets about Harper's "anger," gives only a few of her reasons why she's angry.

Read her post and make your own list. It will grow as new thoughts emerge.

I've concluded these past few days that trying to explain the past month in Canada is going to be nearly impossible. Some of it has been shocking and the phrase "beyond parody" will never again be lightly invoked.

This item will stay at the top all through the day.

Linda Williamson also takes on the charge of Harper being "angry" (but it should be pointed out that Glenda did it first!)

Posted by Debbye at 08:36 PM | Comments (0)

March Against Terror

May 15 - Local group leads march against terror

About 50 people converged on Freedom Plaza for the "March Against Terror," an event organized by Free Muslims Against Terrorism, supporters of freedom and democracy in the Middle East and the entire Muslim community.

"We have to be honest; we have a problem with extremism, and the Muslim leadership in this country has totally failed us," said Kamal Nawash, leader of the year-old organization.

Mr. Nawash, 35, a Palestinian-born lawyer who has become a U.S. citizen, is a former candidate for the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates. He and his organization, which promotes a secular interpretation of Islam, has generated a national profile in the past year by participating in hundreds of radio and television interviews.

"It starts with just a few people, so I'm not worried about the number" in attendance, said Mr. Hashim El-Tinay, founder and president of the Salam Sudan Foundation. "It's more about the quality of leadership."

Mr. Nawash ran unsuccessfully for the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates in the past, which has led to accusations about his political agenda, but he seems to have a bigger picture in mind - breaking the monopoly over entrenched groups in Muslim communities.

I don't know very much about Free Muslims Against Terrorism but they have posted this on their site:

Free Muslims promotes a modern secular interpretation of Islam which is peace-loving, democracy-loving and compatible with other faiths and beliefs. Free Muslims' efforts are unique; it is the only mainstream American-Muslim organization willing to attack extremism and terrorism unambiguously.
Note that last word: unambiguously. Read the items on the site and decide for yourselves.

Posted by Debbye at 12:22 PM | Comments (2)

Mansur on the 'democratic deficit'

May 15 - Salim Mansur addresses how the 'Democratic deficit' cripples our government beginning with the concentration of power in the PM's office at the expense of Parliament and how the destruction of that balance has led to the current impasse:

The increased eminence of the PM has coincided with new techniques in politics arising from developments in communication and information technology, and the rise of the welfare state. The PMO now has an expanded role in directing governmental affairs, setting priorities and making appointments to all branches of government.

This has distorted the delicate balance between legislative and executive powers, and the necessary check on executive power by elected representatives of the people has been eroded.


Martin, like his predecessor, has allowed himself to be corrupted by the absolute power of his office. We have seen the effect this week in his party's disregard for Parliament's expressed opinion that the government lacks the democratic mandate to remain in power.


The only remedy for this unprecedented situation, if the people are not to be abused, is an election of a new Parliament, with restoration of the balance between legislative and executive power. (Emphasis added)

Mansur refers to Trudeau, who was PM in the 60's and early 70's, and thus demonstrates how long this process has been ongoing. I don't recall any efforts in the Mulroney years to reverse this trend (although there well may have been such - my eldest was born in 1981 so I missed an entire decade of politics) but I tend to believe that successive governments have kept the powers taken from Parliament.

Mansur's column makes clear that what we are witnessing is not an isolated political crisis but one that has been building behind the scenes as Parliamentary powers were increasingly transferred to the Executive. I'd say one word for that is despotism.

Posted by Debbye at 11:22 AM | Comments (1)

Operation Matador concludes

May 15 - The NY Post concludes that Operation Matador was a success:

A weeklong U.S. offensive near Iraq's border with Syria was pronounced a success yesterday, with military officials saying soldiers had "neutralized" a rebel sanctuary and killed more than 125 militants.

Many more guerrillas were injured and 39 with "intelligence value" were captured, the military said in a statement. It provided no details about the detainees.

Nine U.S. Marines were killed and 40 injured during the campaign known as Operation Matador, during which American forces searched the Euphrates River villages of Karabilah, Rommana and Obeidi for followers of Iraq's most-wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The capture of people of "intelligence value" cannot be underestimated - it allows cover to pursue leads without endangering sources who could have been outed otherwise.

The DoD has more.

It's difficult not to look for a sub-text in the names of operations as this one, and I found my own interpretaiton in the nature of bull-fighting itself: the use of a diversionary cape to keep the bull distracted and the "moment of truth" each matador faces when he must allow the bull to come very, very close in order to kill it.

(The closest I can come to describing the intricate beauty of bull-fighting is to refer you here.)

11:00 - Belmont Club has two posts from Thursday: one here with analysis and one here which quotes from an AP dispatch sent from the other side of the Syrian border.

Posted by Debbye at 10:16 AM | Comments (1)

Rumours: one dead terrorist, one wounded.

May 15 - Predator plus Hellfire equals dead terrorist. I've had trouble accessing Murdoc's posted link in Death from above but I persevered and finally gave up on AP and found a Fox link about the recent much denied hit on al Qaeda leader Haitham al-Yemeni which "was not a military operation."

Sounds like someone at the CIA is a little miffed ...

On another unconfirmed rumour, there's a second report that Zarqawi was seriously wounded last week. The logo next to the Fox report looks like that of the London Times which does carry same story here (requires free subscription.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:11 AM | Comments (1)

Saddam's plans to put friends in high places

May 15 - Isn't he special? U.S. Congressional investigations into the U.N. Oil-for-Food Progam are getting our money's worth: Saddam spies 'offered to help Chirac get re-elected':

Saddam Hussein's spies planned a wide-ranging scheme to bribe members of the French political elite in the run-up to the Anglo-American invasion, including an offer to help fund President Jacques Chirac's 2002 re-election campaign.

That bid failed, according to Iraqi secret service papers seen by The Daily Telegraph, when Mr Chirac's aides allegedly said they did not need the cash.


A memo from the head of the 2nd Department of the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi intelligence service, purported to report on conversations between its representative in Paris and Roselyne Bachelot, then a member of the National Assembly and the spokesman for Mr Chirac's re-election campaign. The Mukhabarat described Mrs Bachelot as "a friend of Iraq".

The spies claimed that Mrs Bachelot offered an assurance that France would veto any American proposal to invade Iraq at the UN Security Council and would work to have UN-approved sanctions against Saddam lifted.

Mrs Bachelot denies ever having such conversations.

Others deemed sympathetic to Iraq's cause are named in the Mukhabarat papers for consideration as to who might be approached, but although the papers detail the plans they don't confirm that any of these people were ever actually approached.

(Via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:47 AM | Comments (2)

Sudan rejects Canada's offer

May 15 - This is disturbing on many levels: Sudan rejects Canadian military offer.

It brings a different context (or should that be contempt?) to Bill Graham's assertion "We cannot invade Sudan" and despite the temptation to ridicule Canada's Rogue Government for failing to discuss this with Khartoum's government this refusal brings to mind issues that go beyond the political crisis here:

1) If, as many assert, the Sudan government is behind Janjaweed attacks on the people of Darfur, permission by the Sudan government is irrelevant;

2) the assistance of Canada should be up to the African Union which is are organizing and conducting the peacekeeper mission in Darfur rather than the Sudan government;

3) Welcome to my world, Canada. The rapist has denied permission for you to stop the rapine - what now?

4) Shut up, Kilgour. The party from which you just scuttled is the sole reason that the Canadian Armed Forces can barely gather 100 soldiers together for even a token force, and your humanitarian pretensions at this late date are little more than opportunistic posturing.

8:35 - Despite Sudan's opposition, Canada said it would go ahead with plans to send its troops. So over Graham's objections, Canada will invade Sudan! The item also notes the opinion that it is up to the AU to get Sudan's approval of the plan.

There is also some dispute as to whether the Martin government contacted Sudan before announcing the intended aid and peacekeeper deployment, but I've had experience with Martin's spokesperson's lying in the past as well as the failure of CTV to use common sense much less do any fact-checking.

10:52 - Excellent post from Keith on the Sudan mess and Mar-toon (heh) which includes some facts about Lord General Charles Gordon and an excellent logistical reason why the cooperation of Khartoum is necessary: landing strips (as in "rarity of in Sudan.")

14:01 From today's editorial in the Washington Post Beyond Darfur:

A good example of the potential gains from pressuring Khartoum is provided by the Lord's Resistance Army, which terrorizes parts of southern Sudan and northern Uganda. Thanks to the LRA, northern Uganda has been in a state of low-level war for 18 years. Thousands of children have been kidnapped to serve as soldiers or sex slaves, and perhaps 1.6 million people have been driven from their homes. The LRA's leader, a self-styled messiah named Joseph Kony, has received arms and a safe haven from Sudan's government. In return he has attacked Sudanese civilians, acting as a proxy for the government in its long war with the southern rebels.


The United States and its allies have sometimes viewed Sudan's various conflicts as separate issues ... But the truth is that all these conflicts reflect the same challenge: The willingness of Sudan's government to sponsor atrocities. It will take a common effort from the United States, Europe, Russia and (most awkwardly) China to pressure the Sudanese regime into changing its ways. But the diplomatic effort is worthwhile: The stakes are bigger even than the awful genocide in Darfur.

Worth while read.

Posted by Debbye at 05:42 AM | Comments (3)

Jack has a new home!

May 14 - A long time Canadian blogger has a new home - Jack's Newswatch is up and running.

Jack doesn't pull his punches, which makes him my kind of blogger.

His post on Warren Kinsella (permalinks not working yet - scroll down to "Kinsella on a Rampage") is particularly revealing. Jack warned - more than a year ago, I believe - that we should keep an eye on Kinsella and in this new post notes something that may have been overlooked:

The guy is a patriot and if he's trying to bring the Liberals down he has cause and he's in good company ...
Jack gets it. Now is the time for people who actually care about this country to recognize their shared concerns and refuse to let labels and meaningless rhetoric cloud their vision.

One thing the Democrats and now the Liberals are learning to their cost is that the electorate can distinguish between honourable people struggling to find the right course and party hacks who don't care about right and wrong but only about power and thus craft their policies to that end.

I don't under which category Kinsella falls. He and I have never crossed swords (I don't read him because I don't need more anti-American rhetoric to supplement my daily diet) so I don't have the same personal antipathy toward him as others might, but it seems to me that if Adscam has the potential of transforming the Canadian political structure to be more accountable and open then it will take the combined efforts of all those who chose hope over sophisticated cynicism.

Posted by Debbye at 05:15 AM | Comments (0)

Liberals pulling out all the stops

May 15 - Some interesting developments as we close in on a new non-confidence vote. The NDP offer to "pair votes" is pretty well discussed elsewhere, and that provincial and civic leaders would line up to want the budget passed was a foregone conclusion.

A deal has been made with Alberta, and Saskatchewan has shown it too can be bought, but as the Conservatives have already said they will honour committments made by the Rogue Government, the bidding seems superfluous.

Adsam has evolved into outrage that the federal Liberals siphoned funds intended for one program into funds intended to elect Liberals. No matter what deals are struck, who would believe that federal funds administered by the Liberal government won't be equally misused?

Posted by Debbye at 04:13 AM | Comments (0)

May 14, 2005

Lorne Guntner's blog

May 14 - Another columnist starts a blog - Lorne Guntner.

I've linked to some of his columns in the past; he is my kind of conservative who prefers less, not more, intrusion from government.

(Link via Jay Currie.)

Posted by Debbye at 03:51 PM | Comments (0)

Galloway investigation builds

May 14 - Galloway may be about to learn that bluster doesn't always work. From May 13:

George Galloway MP pledged to fly to Washington yesterday and confront the US Senate inquiry which has published evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime allegedly allocated him the profit from oil contracts.


During a day of highly charged sparring, statements shot back and forth between Mr Galloway and the Senate.

Sen Norm Coleman, the Republican chairman of the sub-committee, said he was welcome to appear before it on Tuesday: "The hearing will begin promptly at 9.30am and there will be a witness chair and microphone available." Mr Galloway's spokesman quoted him as saying: "Book the flights, let's go, let's give them both barrels."

He quickly added: "That's guns, not oil."

The committee rejected Mr Galloway's accusation that his attempts to contact it before publication of the report had been rebuffed, despite him writing "repeatedly".

A spokesman said he did not attempt to make contact by any method "including but not limited to telephone, fax, e-mail, letter, Morse code or carrier pigeon".
Mr Galloway later retracted his claims, telling Sky News: "Well, let's accept that I did not ask them to appear in front of them."

In further news, The Senate Committee has charged that Galloway’s Miriam Appeal was used to launder OFF money, and although Galloway says nothing improper was found in the fund, the investigation into the fund was actually inconclusive because "proper accounts were not available".
When the allegations about the oil transactions were first aired in The Daily Telegraph in 2003, Mr Galloway said he would open up the organisation's books.

But in a report last year, after a 12-month inquiry, the Charity Commission said: "[We] have been unable to obtain all the books and records of the appeal."
Mr Galloway told the commission that the documentation had been sent to Amman in Jordan and to Baghdad in 2001 when his associate, Fawaz Zureikat, became chairman of the appeal.

Mr Zureikat is named in the senate report as someone who facilitated the alleged oil transactions on behalf of Mr Galloway and the Mariam Appeal - named after Mariam Hamza, a four-year-old leukaemia patient brought to Britain for treatment. (Emphasis added)

This is an older item from the Daily Telegraph which details the appeal on the libel suit brought by Galloway:
Explaining why the court was willing to hear the appeal, Lord Justice Tuckey said that a gap was opening between the English courts and the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg over the extent to which newspapers were allowed to report documents that would otherwise be defamatory.

The English courts had allowed newspapers the defence of qualified privilege provided they went no further than reportage - neutral reporting of allegations without adopting them as true.

But, in 2001, the Strasbourg court ruled in favour of a reporter who had been ordered to pay libel damages after he reported that a fellow journalist had accused forestry wardens in Luxembourg of being corruptible.

The human rights judges said: "A general requirement for journalists systematically and formally to distance themselves from the content of a quotation that might insult or provoke others or damage their reputation is not reconcilable with the press's role of providing information on current events, opinions and ideas."

In another case referred to by Lord Justice Tuckey yesterday, the Strasbourg judges remarked that "journalists cannot be expected to act with total objectivity and must be allowed some degree of exaggeration or even provocation".

On the strength of these and other cases, Lord Justice Tuckey gave Mr Price permission to argue that it was not fatal to a newspaper's claim of qualified privilege for it to adopt as true the allegations contained in a document it was publishing. He said the newspaper could also argue the defence of fair comment, though it was not clear if this would add anything.

So it is the case that is being argued, not the amount awarded.

The Daily Telegraph also refutes Galloway’s argument that the allegations by the Senate Committee have already been refuted by his successful defamation case against the Daily Telegraph by pointing out that the allegations are different:

The sub-committee concentrated on showing that Mr Galloway allegedly received four oil allocations between 2001 and 2003. As evidence, it quoted documents from the Iraqi ministry of oil and interviews with Iraqi officials. The report claims that the allocations were taken up but it does not contain evidence that Mr Galloway personally received the profits. The Daily Telegraph reports were based on documents found in the Iraqi foreign ministry shortly after the fall of Baghdad. The key document, a memo from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam, was dated Jan 3 2000 and it purported to be an account of a meeting Mr Galloway allegedly had with an Iraqi intelligence officer on Boxing Day 1999.

Q: Weren't The Daily Telegraph allegations shown in court to be false?

A: Definitely not. Mr Galloway sued The Daily Telegraph for libel, and won, but the hearing did not settle the question of whether Mr Galloway actually took Saddam's money. The Daily Telegraph relied upon the so-called Reynolds defence, which allows newspapers to publish defamatory material in some circumstances, and the case revolved around whether the paper acted responsibly. In his judgment Mr Justice Eady said: "There has been no plea of justification in this case, and accordingly it has not been part of my function to rule directly upon the truth or otherwise of the underlying allegations [against Mr Galloway]."

The article also notes that forensic testing has proven that the documents the Daily Telegraph reporter found in the Iraq foreign ministry were authenticated.

Posted by Debbye at 10:40 AM | Comments (0)

The Annan Papers

May 14 - Kofi Annan was not entirely forthcoming with investigator Robert Parton about his contacts with Cotecna. Seems he didn't disclose meeting Pierre Mouselli or having lunch with him.

Annan's account would change as facts emerged, which set off alarm bells for Robert Parton:

In his first of four interviews with investigators, Annan did not disclose last November he met in September 1998 with his son Kojo and Cotecna consultant Pierre Mouselli - and then, two weeks later, with Cotecna's chief executive Eli Massey - as the company was gearing up to bid for business under the oil-for-food program.

Annan generally acknowledged in the first interview he knew Massey - referring to him as "the old man" - and occasionally met with him, including once in 1999, several months after Cotecna won the UN contract.

In a subsequent interview in January after consulting the calendars that were turned over to Parton, Annan divulged he met twice with Massey before the Cotecna contract was awarded, including Sept. 18, 1998.

But the UN chief testified the meeting did not involve Cotecna's pursuit of oil-for-food business. Instead, he said, the two discussed an idea Massey had for an international lottery to raise money for the UN; Annan said he referred Massey to another official to discuss the idea further.

The UN chief also indicated he didn't recall a man named Pierre Mouselli, though he said he often doesn't recall people he meets casually in his high-profile job. The final report makes no mention of Annan's November denial about Mouselli.

During a March 17 interview, Annan was quizzed about a calendar entry indicating he had a "private lunch" Sept. 4, 1998, with his son Kojo and "his friend" during a world conference in Durban, South Africa.

By that time, Parton had already learned the friend was Mouselli, a businessman who, like Kojo Annan, was working as a consultant with Cotecna.

Parton also secured testimony from Mouselli stating he and the Annans had discussed at the South African lunch that Kojo Annan and Mouselli were setting up companies and were interested in business, including Iraq. The final report said Mouselli's account of the meeting couldn't be verified elsewhere.

There is a point at which "plausible deniability" turns into "cover up."
The final report also excluded detailed testimony from Mouselli that he and the Annans discussed their interest in Iraq business.

"We discussed Iraq," Mouselli said in an interview this week.

"We discussed about even my way to go to Iraq...We were joking if Kojo wants to come."

The link is a Canadian news source, which is good (and much too rare.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:27 AM | Comments (0)

"The dark underside of the Oil-for-Food Program"

May 14 - (retro-posting) It was worth waiting for:

A longtime ally of French President Jacques Chirac and a leading British critic of the Iraq war received huge contracts to resell Iraqi oil from Saddam Hussein under the U.N. oil-for-food program, Senate investigators have found.

In findings being released today, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs permanent subcommittee on investigations charges that former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua and British Member of Parliament George Galloway each received the right to market more than 10 million barrels of cut-rate oil from dictator Saddam's Oil Ministry between 1999 and 2003.

Senate investigators, who will air their findings in a hearing next week, based the new report on internal Iraqi documents, Oil Ministry correspondence and interviews with top Saddam-era officials such as detained Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan.

Subcommittee Chairman Norm Coleman, Minnesota Republican, said the findings "paint a disturbing picture of the dark underside of the oil-for-food program." (Emphasis added)

According to FoxNews,
The allegations against Pasqua and Galloway, both outspoken opponents of U.N. sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s, have been made before, including in a report last October by U.S. arms inspector Charles Duelfer.

But Coleman's report provided several new details. It also included information from interviews with former high-ranking officials now in U.S. custody, including former Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz and former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan.

Among the claims: New evidence suggests that a children's leukemia charity founded by Galloway was in fact used to conceal oil payments.


The report includes what Coleman said was a copy of a contract from Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organization that mentions Mariam's Appeal, a fund Galloway established in 1998 to help a 4-year-old Iraqi girl suffering from leukemia, Mariam Hamze.

It says the fund may have been used to conceal the transfer of 3 million barrels of oil.

Please note that this is a different set of documents than the forged ones the for which Galloway successfully sued the Daily Telegraph and Christian Science Monitor.

By the way, the Washington Times incorrectly states that Galloway quit the Labour Party; Fox correctly reports that he was expelled.

The transfer of oil to Charles Pasqua was handled by his aide, Bernard Guillet, and there was some wrangling over which bank should deliver the oil allocations.

Guillet has troubles of his own; he is under investigation for influence-peddling and receiving misappropriated funds.

Galloway denies the allegations and last month, the Daily Telegraph was granted permission to to appeal (it's unclear whether they are appealing the ruling or the amount awarded to Galloway, although I believe it is the former.)

The Bethnal Green and Bow MP, who was re-elected to parliament last week running for his own Respect party, described the Senate committee as a "lickspittle Republican committee, acting on the wishes of George Bush".

He said: "Let me repeat. I have never traded in a barrel of oil, or any vouchers for it. I have never seen a barrel of oil apart from the one the Sun newspaper deposited in my front garden.

"And no one has acted on my behalf, trading in oil - Middle Eastern, olive, patchouli or any other - or in vouchers, whatever they are.

"Isn't it strange and contrary to natural justice you might think that I have written and emailed repeatedly asking for the opportunity to appear before the committee to provide evidence and rebut their assumptions and they have yet to respond, while apparently making a judgement."

The Sun is carefully choosing it's words, strictly sticking to the basics of the report (if you've ever read the Sun, you'd know why that is news!)

(This is actually from May 12 - I'm doing some retro-posting to catch up.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:25 AM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2005


May 13 - Sorry about the light posting. CPAC today has been far more interesting than anything I could write.

When I got in this morning, I switched on CPAC in hopes of seeing some testimony from yesterday's testimony of the Gomery Inquiry, but instead there was testimony from a Commons committee. I was about to switch to a news channel when I heard the name "Earnscliffe" and looked closer at the TV screen. It said April 18, and was indeed the testimony was before the Commons public accounts committee posted about here and here.

I was shocked at how whiny Terrie O'Leary and David Herle were, whereas Allan Cutler and (this is really hard to write) Warren Kinsella were professional and direct. As I had come in at the tail end I missed what Auditor-General Sheila Fraser might have said, which is regrettable.

[Maybe "testimony" is the wrong word. Everyone called before the committee is seated together at a table and Committee members (seated at an opposite table) can direct questions at whoever they chose in whatever order they chose. My prior concept of testimony before a committee had been for one person at a time to appear and answer questions.]

Beryl Wajsman's testimony at the Gomery Inquiry from earlier today was on CPAC when I woke up this afternoon, and he seemed extremely defensive and clearly anxious to clear his name. But I have to say that Jean Brault remains the far more impressive and credible witness.

Points to Wajsman, though, for saying he had discussed Brault's testimony with Joe Morselli. Chuck Guite and Jacque Corriveau claimed they had neither read nor talked to anyone about any of the prior testimony before their appearances - perhaps trying to emulate Chretien's dismissive attitude toward the proceedings? - which just doesn't seem credible.

Now Question Period is being re-broadcast. It seems Mark has decided the House of Commons is far more interesting than O'Reilly or the Jays!

It makes me wonder how many Canadians are watching CPAC these days - possibly for the first time ever - and therfore paying attention to national politics during the most tumultuous period in Canadian politics since TV cameras were installed in the House.

I can't help but hope that millions of Canadians are watching. The best defence of a democracy is an involved and engaged electorate which, because it is involved, draws its own conclusions by directly observing what is being said rather sound-bites and provides its own analysis of events without the need for media spin. That would be bad news for any party hoping to operate without transparency, which is good news for us.

We can only hope.

Posted by Debbye at 08:23 PM | Comments (5)

Operation Matador - Day 6

May 12 - retro-posting (again!) noting the final steps as this operation winds down Suspected Insurgent Hideout Flattened in Iraq:

The U.S. offensive — one of the largest since militants were forces from Fallujah six months ago — came amid a surge of militant attacks that have killed more than 420 people in just over two weeks since Iraq's first democratically elected government was announced.

Snipers opened fire on the motorcade of Interior Ministry undersecretary Maj. Gen. Hikmat Moussa Hussein in western Baghdad on Friday, killing one of his guards and wounding three, police Maj. Moussa Abdul Karim said. Hussein escaped unharmed.

Elsewhere in western Baghdad, insurgents fired on Iraqi soldiers who were searching the area, prompting a 30-minute gunbattle, said police Maj. Abdul Karim. There was no immediate word on casualties

Ralph Peters makes this observation:
Terrorism revealed its soul: merciless, vindictive and in love with death itself. There's no strategic plan behind the slaughter of Iraqi workers in a marketplace in Tikrit or the butchering of other Sunni Arabs in Hawija. Suicide bombings in a Baghdad bazaar don't have cunning goals.

The terror attacks are no longer about changing Iraq. They're about punishment.


Zarqawi isn't hopeful. He's outraged. And humiliated. Now he's out to make Iraqis pay for choosing freedom and peace over brutalized religion and ethnic fascism.

Consider the locations of recent bombings. Tikrit was Saddam's hometown. Hawija had been a hotbed of fanaticism and resistance. A year ago, terrorists and insurgents had the run of the house at both locations, to say nothing of Fallujah. Today? Tikrit has turned from terror. Hawija wants the foreign Islamists out. Fallujah's finished.

The terrorists feel betrayed.

So they kill. Poor laborers gathered to beg for part-time work. Women and children. Police recruits. Low-level officials. Students. And any passers-by who get in the way. Simple Muslims slain by "holy martyrs of Islam" in suicide vests. By the fountains of paradise, Mohammed must be weeping.

Posted by Debbye at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)

The Gomery Parliament

May 13 - Retro-posting (again) - Rex Murphy on The National exposes "The Gomery Parliament."

(Via Andrew Coyne)

Posted by Debbye at 09:07 AM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2005

Canadian aid to Darfur

May 12 - Another bit of retro-posting, still relevant even though attempts to aid Darfur have been sideswiped by the government in Khartoum.

PM pledges $170 million aid package to Darfur including airlift capability, humanitarian aid, diplomatic support and up to 100 military personnel to train local forces.

Posted by Debbye at 08:31 PM | Comments (0)

Operation Matador, Day 5

May 12 - (This is just a bit of retro-posting for the sake of continuity) Bombs and assassinations in Bagdad Bombings Kill Two Iraqi Security Officers, Three U.S. Soldiers

Posted by Debbye at 08:00 PM | Comments (0)

Milblogs featured in USA Today

May 12 - Very supportive USA Today article about how 'Milbloggers' are typing their place in history with appearances by Greyhawk and Jason Van Steenwyk, to mention two bloggers I read regularly.

The news we get from soldiers on the ground cannot be underestimated as it is often posted before the media gets around to reporting it, and Milblogs serve another function, at least from the standpoint of this civilian: it is a way to communicate support (I mean real support) directly to those who protect our nation and let them know that the "even-handed" oh-that-liberal-media doesn't speak for us.

We're on our soldiers' side and damned proud of them and the job they're doing. The vote last November honoured a pledge to our military personnel - they knew it and we knew it.

(Via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 11:06 AM | Comments (7)

Dezainde claims intimidation by Morselli

May 12 - The Gomery Inquiry was told of money clash between Daniel Dezainde, Joe Morselli and Beryl Wasjman. Daniel Dezainde said that he was physically intimidated when he tried to take control of the bank accounts of the Liberal Party of Quebec from Gagliano, and when he asked Jacques Corriveau for help he was rebuffed.

He said that he fired Wasjman in June, 2001, for organizing unsanctioned fundraisers and peddling influence which led to a confrontation with Joe Morselli:

"He approached me and pointed his finger at me two inches from my nose and said from this time forward this is war," Dezainde told Justice John Gomery. "I thought that went a bit too far, because I felt that my security was directly threatened."
Weenie. (If you think I'm being too harsh on him, please refer to yesterday's post in which I said that an honourable man in Dezainde's situation would have resigned when he realized he learned that the Party debts were being paid off by laundered money.)

10:45 - CTV writes up the confrontation somewhat differently:

When Wasjman was eventually fired, Dezainde testified that Morselli came to see him in a rage.

"From now on, I declare war on you," Dezainde recalled Morselli saying to him, before breaking down on the stand.

When Justice Gomery asked him if he considered that a threat of physical violence, Dezainde replied, "Yes."

This next assertion is not covered so explicitly in the previous two news sources cited: the Globe and Mail says
Jacques Corriveau, a close friend of Jean Chrétien who made $8-million in sponsorship subcontracts, candidly told an official at the Quebec Liberal party wing that he had set up a kickback system, the Gomery inquiry heard Wednesday.

Daniel Dezainde, who was the director-general of the Liberal Quebec wing in 2001, said that the admission came during a lunch he had with Mr. Corriveau.

He said Mr. Corriveau told him: “In the past, I set up a system of kickbacks with communication agencies and I kept a part of it for my expenses and I made the rest available for the party.” (Emphasis added)

Dezainde says the reported his conversation with the Man of Culture to the police. There is also this:
He said at a previous meeting with Mr. Bard, [Gagliano's] ... chief of staff went on a rant against Mr. Corbeil and against Jacques Corriveau.

“Benoît, he scammed enough already,” he was told. He said Mr. Bard said about Mr. Corriveau, “Good riddance.” Mr. Dezainde told the inquiry: “Have you ever seen the Twilight Zone TV series? It was like that.”

I was thinking it more like a episode of The Untouchables (the Robert Stack vintage model.)

By the way, English translations for transcripts of hearings through April 29 are up at the link.

May 14 - More here.

Posted by Debbye at 09:39 AM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2005

Non-confidence motion #2

May 11 - Opposition leader Stephen Harper has made a motion to adjourn, which is a non-confidence motion. (update: no it wasn't!] They have called for anyone absent to return to the floor and the vote should be held in about 20 minutes.

How will David Kilgour vote? Will he hold to his promise to vote for a motion of non-confidence.

The musical interlude this time is The William Tell Overture by Rossini, more commonly known as the theme to The Lone Ranger.

/on stand-by mode

Despite the earlier vocal vote that led to the standing vote, the motion to adjourn was passed 277-21. Maybe a Canadian who understands can explain what happened? I'm guessing that because so many Liberals voted for the motion it was no longer a confidence motion, or maybe Mark misunderstood when he called me to the television.

David Kilgour wasn't even in the House for the vote, by the way, nor was Paul Martin.

18:40 - Via Captain's Quarters, this Globe and Mail article says the motion to adjourn was a non-confidence motion, but the government didn't recognize it as such.

By the way, Fox News just aired a piece on the situation in Canada and last night's vote. Is this the first coverage they've had on the crisis up here? It's the first I've seen, but when one's Significant Other has the converter clutched firmly in his hand one rarely sees any one channel for more than a few minutes.

20:25 I haven't really figured out just what the vote to adjourn was all about, but I have to get to work. It's good old fubar. Ignore the post or, if possible, shed some light on this! /update

May 12 - 08:10: Oh joy, I'm not crazy! (or I have fellow crazies. Don't comment on that ... )

I think I've got it. Martin has stated there will be a confidence motion on May 19. The Opposition refuses to give an inch - or 7 days - more to the Rogue Government and have boycotted committee meetings and by denying a quorum, government business has come to a halt.

On the non-confidence vote last night: in one sense, there were two. The Rogues made a motion to adjourn which was defeated which in effect means that the government is no longer able to conduct even procedural business.

Oppostion leader Stephen Harper spoke at length as to why this government no longer has the confidence of the House,, and then made a motion to adjourn which he stated was a confidence motion. The voice vote was close (many more than 22 said "Nay!") and the bells rang to recall members to the House. The recorded vote showed the motion to adjourn passed 227-21 because many Liberals changed their votes.

The argument by the Rogue Government to wait for the report from the Inquiry is deliberately misleading. Under Section K of the Terms of Reference the mandate of Judge Gomery precludes the making of conclusions or recommendations regarding civil or criminal liability - although he is permitted to make recommendations for legislation that will prevent future theft or protects whistleblowers. (Link via Kate.)

The invaluable and resourceful Andrew Coyne cites expert opinion ... and the debate continues.

Posted by Debbye at 05:40 PM | Comments (5)

Operation Cobweb

May 11 - Operation Matador is not an isolated offensive; 'Operation Cobweb' Targets Enemy in Iraq's Wasit Province:

Coalition soldiers from Multinational Division Central-South conducted Operation Cobweb from May 6 to 10 to find and capture terrorists in the northern part of Iraq's Wasit province, military officials in Baghdad reported today.
The 1st Polish Brigade Combat Team, the 8th Iraqi Division and the 19th Iraqi Brigade participated in the operation, officials said.

A written statement from Multinational Force Iraq said the operation had "liquidated" the terrorist group that had been operating in southern Baghdad.

Twenty-nine suspects were detained; 40 kinds of guns were confiscated; and explosive materials and clockwork time fuses were found along with films of the murders of Iraqi Interior Ministry officials and other materials concerning anti-coalition and anti-Iraqi government activities, officials said. Uniforms that were used during executions also were found.

Sorry for the laziness of just quoting from the news release; I'm in a rush (see above post.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:38 PM | Comments (0)

Daniel Dezainde testifies

May 11 - Munu was down for awhile this afternoon (probably due to a spam attack) but we're standing strong again!

Today's testimony at Gomery Inquiry was by the man who took over for Benoit Corbeil as the Director-General of the Quebec wing of the Liberals, Daniel Dezainde. He complain that he wasn't really in charge - Joe Morselli was "the boss" behind the scenes.

Dezainde testified he went with Corbeil to meet Morselli at a north-end Montreal restaurant on May 14, 2001. At that meeting he claims he was told by Corbeil that Morselli was "the real boss" of Liberal affairs in Quebec.

Dezainde also said Corbeil warned him not to antagonize Morselli, a friend of then-public works minister Alfonso Gagliano.

He told the commission that, as a result, Morselli ended up running things, but completely off the record.

He also said he was told on another occasion by Gagliano that if he had any "needs" to give Morselli a call, or to call the minister's chief of staff, Jean-Marc Bard.

Dezainde said he understood that to mean financial needs.

The question of financing became a pressing one, Dezainde said, because he quickly learned the Quebec wing had amassed a pile of unpaid bills -- as much as $2.8 million was owing. He told the commission that Morselli told him to send the bills to him "so he can determine what can be paid."

Dezainde said that troubled him.

"Not only you didn't know where the money came from but you no longer had the ability to manage your organization, Dezainde told the Gomery inquiry. "So what's the point of being there?"

None, which is why an honourable man would have resigned.

Yesterday, Benoit Corbeil testified that ministerial aides to current and former Liberals were paid under the table during the 2000 federal election campaign.
In his appearance before Justice John Gomery's inquiry in Montreal Monday, Benoit Corbeil claimed that the workers received an alleged total of $50,000 from advertising executive Jean Brault to help cover the employee payroll. Corbeil also claimed that Brault offered him $100,000.

The other $50,000 sum, corroborated by inquiry documents and witness testimony, was made through Commando Communication, owned by Brault associate Bernard Thiboutot.

According to Corbeil's allegations, the cash was paid at the start of the 2000 campaign to staffers, including: Irene Marcheterre, later named head of communications for federal Transport Minister Jean Lapierre.

Even as I write this, there is another non-confidence type of vote in the House of Commons over a motion by Opposition leader Stephen Harper to adjourn. The vote should be held in about 22 minutes.

The musical interlude this time is The William Tell Overture by Rossini, more commonly known as the theme to The Lone Ranger. I'll be reporting the vote above (barring another attack. Die, Spammers!)

Posted by Debbye at 05:21 PM | Comments (0)

From Georgia to Canada - Let Freedom Ring!

May 11 - How ironic. How horribly, grieviously ironic. The media is covering President Bush praising the people of Georgia for their steadfast determination during the Rose Revolution and, at the same time, we are watching the Liberal Party clinging to straws as they cling to power and defying the safeguards that protect consensual governance.

Its worthwhile to remember that the Rose Revolution was sparked by people's fury over the fraud and corruption of their 2003 elections - and what else can we call the 1997 and 2000 elections here?

One advantage of a Westminster-style Parliamentary system is supposed to be that a government that has lost the support of the people can be forced to step down and the issues that forced the non-confidence vote are referred to the electorate.

Lenin Square in Tbisili has been renamed Freedom Square. Whatever shall we call Parliament Hill now?

Captain Ed has his usual excellent summation of yesterday's vote, and there is an excellent round-up of blogger reactions at Dust my Broom - Just us Bloggers eh!

Anyone else notice that the musical interlude as we waited for the vote was from "The Merry Widow" by Franz Lehar? It's an operetta about the attempts of a small country to secure a widow's fortune through seduction ...

10:18 - Kate says "Paul Martin's "rogue group" is now a Rogue Government" and some of her commenters are calling for vigils in Ottawa. Who could have imagined that there would be a need for a freedom movement in Canada?

It would probably be a bad move for President Bush to comment on this situation ... if Karl Rove is ever going to send me orders he'd better hurry or I'll have to fall back to thinking on my own (that's a sideswipe at some of my commenters, by the way, and meant entirely in jest.)

12:47 - I should have checked my mail earlier. Mike emailed a link to The Confidence Convention and the May 10, 2005 Vote on the Public Accounts Committee Report which examines both the constitutional issues of the vote and cites precedent for what should be done next.

Posted by Debbye at 05:11 AM | Comments (0)

Operation Matador - pouring it on

May 11 - The DoD news release makes some very interesting observations about the enemy in Operation Matador: Helping Flush Insurgents From Western Iraq:

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2005 – Troops fighting in Iraq's northwestern Anbar province are facing a sizable and skilled insurgency, with some members seen fighting in military uniforms and protective vests, the Joint Staff's director of operations told Pentagon reporters here today.


Conway said the region has witnessed a buildup of insurgents since the fall of Fallujah, when they began moving west. (Emphasis added)

The use of protective vests isn't a surprise, but uniforms? (Those who read Belmont Club already knew that the insurgency headed closer to the Syrian border when Fallujah was taken.) The DoD report continues:
Conway said he's not surprised by the strength and capability of the insurgency being encountered. "We know this is a determined enemy, that he has the skill and ordnance (and) the weapons to be able to resist fiercely, as we are seeing here," he said.
Attacks on Iraqis who want to be part of their country's future continue, but much as the Battle of the Bulge was fierce precisely because it was the beginning of the end, the intensity of both the defense and the high number of attacks on Iraqis signals not optimism but desperation as Iraqis continue to reject and be intimidated by them.

The Washington Times article by Rowan Scarborough on the operation makes a critical point which in part affirms the value of the January elections:

The war's changing nature is also illustrated by the list of the high-ranking enemy announced as captured by the new Baghdad government. Virtually all of those caught since December have been identified as lieutenants of the Jordanian-born Zarqawi, not operatives for Iraq's former dictator Saddam Hussein.
David Warren put forth a hypothesis early on that the war in Iraq was "carefully hung flypaper" intended to lure terrorists to Iraq, and although I don't think it was so much pre-planned (one would think the Afghan campaign would have been the battleground more than Iraq had there been such a strategy) I do believe it a confirmation of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Belmont Club's post today (which also notes his past analysis of the westward movement from Fallujah and thus saved me a lot of time searching for the older link) looks at a trap between hammer and anvil in which the enemy is caught and why this operation is so critical:

However, the fact that Operation Matador is taking place at all and is being fiercely resisted strongly suggests that both the Coalition and the insurgents regard controlling access to the Syrian border important. That it is contested is an empirical fact, but the really fascinating question is why should this be so. My own belief (speculation alert) is that the single most important requirement of the insurgency is not vast quantities of weapons but a supply of trained fighters and money. There is very little prospect of moving very large quantities of munitions and materiel into Iraq from Syria. Camp Gannon at Qusabayah has closed the road for some time now. But this is unimportant because there are huge amounts of loose explosive and weaponry lying around Iraq and the absolute quantities of these needed to wage a terrorist war is very low. But what is needed, above all, is a steady supply of trainers who will teach locals to build ever more sophisticated weapons from any available material; men who are absolutely committed, unwavering and ruthless; and who are well supplied with money to pay their way. It may be impossible to infiltrate trucks of materiel through the Syrian border, but it is perfectly feasible to trickle in terrorist technicians and pedagogues.
Wretchard believes this is the beginning of a new campaign, and that in the coming period "both sides will probably attack and counterattack not only in geographical breadth, but in along the depth of each other's echelons."

Posted by Debbye at 05:08 AM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2005

Unaccountable bureaucracies

May 9 - You are probably already aware that a U.S. court granted a temporary injunction blocking the release of documents to the U.S. Congress.

Henceforth, I shall refer to these documents (or should that be copies of documents) as the Annan Papers.

The NY Times covers the story but seems unaware that the revelations the Annan Papers might contain is information that, for the greater good, should be made public.

So exactly whose lives would be in danger if the only wrongdoing was poor oversight and Benon Sevan's conflict of interest?

One clue may lie in a link from Roger L. Simon to a document on the Pajamas Media Website which is said to be to Paul Volcker from Pierre Mouselli's attorney Adrian Gonzalez-Maltes which protests the treatment his client has received from the International Inquiry Committee.

The letter and accompanying documents (in .pdf) are available for download at the site and make for some verrry interesting reading.

Also, Ron over at Friends of Saddam draws some extremely alarming parallels between the Oil-for-Food Program, the Kyoto Accord, and "The Law of the Sea" and our old friend Maurice Strong appears yet again:

Mr. Volcker's March report on Kofi Annan and Kojo Annan failed to mention that the younger Annan had served on the board of directors of a now-defunct company, Air Harbour Technologies, first alongside the U.N. secretary-general's special adviser, Maurice Strong, and then alongside an adviser for U.N. oil-for-food contractor, Cotecna Inspections...

Maurice Strong's name keeps coming up in various articles. If you remember he is the person who promoted the Kyoto Protocols into existence ... Now a story has arisen about 17,000 scientists saying its based upon "bad" science and its a major Scam. It was signed into law in Canada and has already had cost overruns of $5 Billion Dollars just for starters. Its hard to think of a bigger Scam than "Oil for Food" but the Kyoto Protocols could surpass it easily and could ruin the industrial nations of the western world besides. The same type of scheme is before the Senate for ratification and its called, "Laws of the Sea" and it is a hot item for the Democrats.

The "Law of the Sea" is a UN thing and there are taxing provisions that could give the UN more money than any existing nation now in existence... Maybe we should look at what 17,000 thousand scientists are saying about "Kyoto" because "The Laws of the Sea" is from the same bunch of rascals.

Ron includes information that Bill wrote last month: the Friends of Science and their efforts to expose the bogus science of global warning. Their documentary cannot get air time in Canada; read Bill's analysis here as to how the Canadian government uses regulations to stifle the production of anything that contradicts their policies.

He also has a link from which you can download the documentary.

Sheesh, I've rambled about 2 scandals and one in the making and haven't even mentioned Adscam. Since you're already at Strong World, interested Americans might like to read Bill's explanation of this evening's possible dissolution of Parliament, the procedural arguments, the possible intervention of the Governor-General -- and presents an intriguing option: Queen Elizabeth II may be asked to intervene using her reserve powers ["the final line of defense against tyranny in the Westminster system"] when she visits Canada May 17.

I'm off tonight, so I'll try to catch up on Adscam after some sleep.

May 11 - 04:00 - Sorry, I tossed and turned, then Mark got me up for the vote in Parliament after which I fell asleep and slept through most of the night. That seems to be an unwelcome, new pattern: getting 2-3 hours of sleep for a couple of days, then sleeping 9-11 hours straight on my half-weekends.

8:35 - One more thing: I tried to edit this yesterday when I realized that I had failed to note that Ron had also written about the activities of the Friends of Science but my access to my site was down - probably due to another spam attack. I've fixed that oversight now.

Posted by Debbye at 01:45 PM | Comments (5)

IRA improved Columbian terrorists

May 10 - Let's see how Yes, but apologists for terrorism will spin this: IRA training and tactics help Colombian rebels:

Colombia's most senior general has blamed the improved fighting of rebels on their alleged training by instructors linked to the IRA.

The deployment of a new model of home-made mortar and the more effective use of snipers by the guerrillas of Farc (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) both owe a considerable debt to tactics honed in Northern Ireland.

"What we are now seeing with the Farc is the direct result of IRA training," said Colombia's armed forces chief, Gen Carlos Alberto Ospina.

The Farc have started adding stabilising fins and new detonation methods to mortars. They now resemble the "barrack-busters" used by the IRA against the British Army. Three Irishmen, Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and James Monaghan, were last year sentenced by a Colombian court to 17 years in jail for training the Marxist rebels in explosives and terrorism techniques. The three are currently on the run and subject to an international arrest warrant.

I blame globalization.

Posted by Debbye at 12:44 PM | Comments (2)

Barbers targeted in Iraq

May 10 - The Telegraph (UK) describes recent actions in Operation Matador, the current military offensive near the Syrian border to stop the inflow of jihadists from Syria into Iraq. Seems that they are not content to murder Iraqis but also demand a stricter adherence to Islamic law:

... This is most clearly shown in a campaign of violence against barbers.

Since the start of the year 41 have been murdered in the capital, all believed to have been killed for their willingness to cut off a man's beard, in a clear sign that the insurgency is taking a more fundamentalist edge, a shift that is believed to reflect the growing influence of foreign jihadists.

Mohammed Karim, a barber in Baghdad, arrived at his shop last week to find an envelope stuck in the entrance shutter. Inside was a bullet and a note telling him to stop providing shaves and cutting people's hair in the "French style", an Iraqi term for Western cuts.

Mr. Karim put up a sign apologizing for beard cutting and promised to discontinue the service. I don't recall the Minuteman having a facial hair code.

13:27 - More information from the DoD:

Acting on intelligence reports indicating the enemy's location, soldiers from the Army's 814th Multi-Role Bridge Company constructed a pontoon bridge across the Euphrates River.

"Marines crossed over from the southern banks to the north and are now operating in the northern Jazirah Desert and are in pursuit of the enemy," a Multinational Force Iraq news release stated.

Terrorists attacked a Marine convoy near Qaim with small-arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades, roadside bombs, and two suicide car bombs. A Marine M1A1 Abrams tank destroyed one suicide car bomb. The second car bomb damaged an armored Humvee.

No Marines were killed in the attack. Both car bombers died in the engagement, and 10 terrorists surrendered to Marines. Officials said the 10 are being held at a nearby detention center. Coalition and Marine Corps aircraft also participated in the operation.

The news article also reports on more discoveries of munitions caches.

Posted by Debbye at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

Pissed off as hell

May 10 - Do any of you have to work in a team setting? Are some members of that team lazy, belligerent or carefully stupid?

Or, horrors, all of the above?

Me too. I am so damned mad I could scream (or get drunk.) I'm going to go to the store and buy some tuna fish, swiss cheese, caraway seed rye bread and milk.

All of your comfort food are belong to me.

Feel free to vent on your own working woes while I'm gone.

11:30 - Fine, make me feel like a lone malcontent. Now I'm hitting the hard stuff: chocolate!

Posted by Debbye at 08:29 AM | Comments (3)

May 09, 2005

March Against Terror

May 9 - This is well-worth supporting: the May 14 March Against Terror in Washington D.C..

The organizers of the march, Free Muslims Against Terror states the case:

Join us in sending a message to radical Muslims and supporters of terrorism that we reject them and that we will do all we can to defeat them.
Over 66 groups are signatories to that call (including the Canadian Israeli Students Association at the University of Calgary) and I want to note that the call to march has another significant message:
We also want to send a message of hope to the people of the Muslim world and the Middle East who seek freedom, democracy and who reject radical Islam that we are with them and that we will do all we can to support them.
I wish I could get to D.C. on Saturday but I can't, but if somebody reading this does then please carry my fervent hopes with you.

Posted by Debbye at 03:39 PM | Comments (3)

75 anti-Iraqi forces killed in Iraq

May 9 - A new offensive has begun in the northwestern Anbar province and FoxNews reports indicate that up to 75 anti-Iraqi forces were killed in the first 24 hours of fighting.

There has also been an increase in activity in Afghanistan of late, and yesterday two Marines were killed during a 5-hour firefight. 23 anti-Afghan forces are believed to be dead.

It has been one year since Nick Berg was murdered and his vicious killing was posted on the internet.

I've never regretted watching or linking to it, feeling that it was not so much a punishment or chastisement for supporting the war but an obligation to try and remain honest ... acknowledging that whatever gain might come from this risky undertaking there would be men, women and children lost who could never be returned to this life.

The Fox article quotes from Nick's father: "Forgiveness was something I had been wrestling with since the moment I got the phone call that Nick was dead," he said. "I had this huge burning fire within me, and I wanted to get rid of it."

I don't think we were prepared for the bloodlust of the enemy. We thought we had seen evil on Sept. 11, but what we really saw was a brief glimpse of that evil as the 4 planes went down within 2 hours of one another.

Now we've seen over two years of evil in the present tense and the thousands of mass graves in Iraq bespeak of evil in the recent past tense.

One last thought. Pray for Douglas Wood tonight, if you can.

Posted by Debbye at 02:33 PM | Comments (2)

Beryl Wajsman

May 9 - Upcoming Gomery Inquiry witness Beryl Wajsman left a comment at Captain's Quarters that reveals how deeply the Adscam thefts betrayed the idealistic members of the Liberal Party who believed that they were carrying the banner of Trudeau and national unity through their membership and participation.

It is a very compelling letter, and it would well behoove those who read it to remember that Duplessis was a member of the Conservative party, not Liberal.

Ontarians and federalist Quebeckers are in a blind alley. They have been betrayed by the Liberals, who have been revealed to be brigands feathering their own nests, and disappointed those who believed their pitches about inclusion, diversity, and a "sharing and caring nation."

Much like outraged townsfolk pursuing medicine show charlatans who bilked poor widows of their savings, Canadians would like to tar and feather the Liberals but vengeance is an emotional response and, as the brain begins to reassert control, the fact remains that Canada will still need a government after the fallout subsides.

The Conservatives, on the other hand, have failed to recall what usually happens to the next medicine show that comes to town and tries to sell a miracle cure.

There is a very short time frame in which to bring forth concrete proposals for reform and an even smaller time frame in which to sell their ideas and most especially their sincerity.

A cynical public needs reassurance that the state of this country is not beyond repair, but by whom? The four party leaders in the house have relished their sound-bites, their name-calling and even their feigned outrage but have forgotten that Canadians are not a prime-time TV audience but citizens acutely aware that there are problems in this country which require urgent, clear-headed leadership.

So what do the leaders do? Get into a bidding war for votes and upping the ante, a debasing circus that has usurped the basis on which this election should be fought: making proposals for legislating serious - even drastic - reforms in the civil service, appointments, whistle-blower protection and contract tendering.

The outrage against Adscam could provide enough support for those reforms to counterweigh strong opposition from those who stand to gain from corruption - but this is a limited time offer that won't be there for the next election. Tory failure to take that path will confirm suspicions that they only want to be elected so they can get their own thieves on the national payroll.

The most alarming part of this bidding war is the threat to institute a national childcare system. Fuzzy puppies, warm nurturing environment, early instruction, gee, it sounds too good to be true. And if it sounds too good to be true - you know the next part, right?

Think: if the federal government can withhold transfer payments meant for health care then they can just as easily withhold transfer payments meant for health care and day care. Guess who would have to pick up the tab? That's right, the provinces, which would probably mean a reduction of services, but do you really want the quality of your children's care to be subject to the vagaries of government funding?

Posted by Debbye at 09:41 AM | Comments (2)

Canadian War Museum opens

May 9 - The 60th anniversary of VE Day yesterday saw the official opening of the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

First there was the parade - a wonderful parade - in which the veterans proudly marched down the streets from the War Memorial to the new museum to the cheers and applause from those lined along the route. (Australians do this each year in numerous cities on ANZAC Day. Wouldn't it be great to make this a tradition here as well?)

PM Paul Martin dedicated the museum as "a shrine of sacrifice" before the more than 10,000 people who came to witness the historic occasion.

The controversial picture is still a sore point with some, and Peter Worthington relates someone's idea for another picture that too would show "ordinary" Canadians in war:

"This painting would show young, 22-year-old medical Cpl. William Newton rushing from his medical aid bunker at the rear of the Hook.

"A heavy mortar bomb has exploded. He has his satchel of bandages, medicine, gear. He ran out instinctively.

"A good thing he did. There, lying on his back but with the toes of both boots pointed at the ground, is 19-year-old Cpl. Charles Pond of Ottawa who, a year earlier, was a high school football star. (Emphasis added.)

I dare you to read the account without an irresistable urge to stand and salute. Or cry.

Be grateful to those who serve. Cherish them. Thank them. Never, ever, misuse them.

Posted by Debbye at 09:01 AM | Comments (3)

A most logical game

May 9 - Professor Frinklin, Doctor Misa and Miss Susie create superduper artificial intelligence. Next step: find an application for it.

A Brilliant Idea! First borrow some of Ted's robots out of his rocketry lab and build harddrives into them, then send them to Mets games and let them figure out baseball.

Read the wonderful results in Aaaah, Baseball!.

Posted by Debbye at 07:03 AM | Comments (0)

May 08, 2005

109 captured or killed in Iraq

May 8 - It has been an active couple of days in Iraq: a key Zarqawi aide, Ammar Adnan Mohammed Hamza al-Zubaydi, also known as Abul Abbas, was captured three days ago.

Seven service members were killed over the week-end including three Marines and a sailor in a Haditha fire-fight in which we fought insurgents from their fortifications within a hospital. (Haditha is the city in which 19 men were found executed in a stadium.)

We hit back, capturing or killing 109 terrorists and sizeable caches of weapons and explosives in a series of operations.

In simultaneous operations conducted early today north of the town of Al Qaim, 54 terrorists within the circle of known terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi were captured or killed, according to Multinational Force Iraq officials today. Coalition forces also destroyed car bombs, bomb-making material and two buildings that contained large weapons caches to include hand- and rocket-propelled grenades.
Al Qaim is near the Syrian border. Yesterday in Bagdad,
... Task Force Baghdad raids snared 38 terror suspects in the Baghdad area, including two high-value targets in a series of early morning raids May 7.

The raids included getting 29 suspected terrorists in the largest strike of the day in south Baghdad. And a separate operation detained five more suspected terrorists, one thought to be the leader of a terror cell in southwest Baghdad. There, troops also found 1,000 rounds of assault-rifle ammunition in a burlap bag covered with mud.

The other members of the coalition were also busy:
In Babil province May 7, Multinational Division Central South forces detained 17 terror suspects during cordon-and-search operations. Iraqi, Polish, Salvadoran and U.S. troops conducted the combined operation in an area of Al Mashru, capturing anti-Iraqi and anti-coalition forces, illegal weapons and ammunition. (Emphasis added.)
We are keeping the pressure on and hitting them in a number of places.

I fear time is running out for Australian hostage Douglas Wood. I haven't commented before mostly because, well, what could I possibly say? We've been though this too many times and I will never be able to pretend that we've gotten used to it.

Hard as it must be for Australian PM Howard and the Australian people, they have taken the right stand. But it still burns.

Posted by Debbye at 08:48 PM | Comments (2)

Victor David Hanson

May 8 - From the man, Victor Davis Hanson, On Being Disliked on National Review Online:

Personally, I'd rather live in a country that goes into an anguished national debate over pulling the plug on a lone woman than one that blissfully vacations on the beach oblivious to 15,000 elderly cooked to well done back in Paris.
(Link via Italics Mine, who's on tear of his own in Beauty may be only skin deep, but stupidity ...

Posted by Debbye at 06:46 PM | Comments (2)

Do Canadians have what it takes?

May 8 - Keith has a bang-up post in which the Liberal Party is characterized as the new Hapsburgs (heh): The Anglosphere Network: do Canadians have what it takes?

Posted by Debbye at 06:23 PM | Comments (0)

Canadian troops to Darfur - 150 strong!

May 8 - People who think bloggers are wannabe journalists might stop and try to name journalists who link to and get feedback from other journalists to the extent that we do!

A case in point: news that Canada is sending her military to Darfur. I was focused on this bit from the CBC report which seemed to be talking about the mission:

"This is a complex and relatively dangerous environment," Gen. Rick Hillier told CBC News.
Relative to what? Iraq? Afghanistan? Kosovo? Halifax? Call me too quick to criticize, but I think the environment in Darfur is much more dangerous for unarmed villagers than armed (at least I hope they'll be armed) soldiers.

So I missed the dumber part of the dumb statement, but fortunately Kate didn't.

The dumber statement (from the same CBC report) is highlighted:

The minister wants military intervention to be only one part of an overall plan for the northeastern African country.

"We cannot invade Sudan. It requires United Nations action ... it requires political as well as military and aid matters," Graham told CBC.

I have no idea what that means, unless a newly legislated piece of international law states that if the U.N. says it's okay to go into a country uninvited then it isn't an invasion. Or they are going to Darfur but won't actually go in to Darfur? Or, significantly, has someone decided that Darfur is no longer considered part of Sudan?

One of the unacknowledged downsides of sending Canadian peacekeepers to Cyprus is that Greek Cypriots were unable to take back the sections of that island which the Turks had seized. The Turkish invasion was thus successful entirely due to the intervention of the U.N., which is why the U.N.-crafted peace accord was rejected by the Greek section of the island last year.

According to a report late last night, Canadian officials are finalizing plans to send all of 150 military personnel to "war-torn Sudan."

Now it's "war-torn." Only a few days ago it was a "conflict, stemming from the fallout of a peace deal to end the country's decades-old civil war" (I've counted several failed peace deals between Sudan and Darfur, but the CBC is probably alluding to the one of two years ago although it might be the one of a few months ago.) (Wikipedia has a reasonably good history of the conflict.)

The CBC report from last night says the Canadians also plan to donate some "used military equipment" to ... wait, it doesn't say to whom they will donate that equipment, but I'm guessing it will be to AU forces, not the Darfur rebels.

Then there is this:

Canada has also already promised 31 soldiers to act as advisers to an African Union mission in Addis Ababa, the capital of neighbouring Ethiopia.

The additional Canadian military personnel would serve as short-term advisers, mechanics and trainers, CP reported.

So why the sudden realization of Canadian international duty? The CBC doesn't pull any punches here:
The Canadian government has a new sense of urgency to deal with Sudan as it seeks the support of members of Parliament for a looming confidence vote in the Commons this month.
What other blogger is most likely to be on top of this? Damian Brooks, of course, so I headed there and he's linked to an article in the Globe and Mail which calls the Darfur region blood-soaked but has more specific information than the CBC provided and fills in some vagueness:
General Rick Hillier, the chief of the defence staff, said the Canadian Forces will be ready to deploy a large contingent overseas for "significant operations" by late summer after a year of recovery and rebuilding.

The Darfur situation, he said, "is a complex and a relatively dangerous environment and the tragedy that is unfolding there is on a scale that is very tough to determine."

It is more clear from this quote that Hiller is in fact saying that the environment is dangerous to civilians, but also that he thinks 150 constitutes a "large contingent." Even applying the ten-fold rule, which would mean the equivalent of sending 1,500 US troops overseas, that is not a large contigent. Although the Globe doesn't have Graham's "We cannot invade Sudan" disclaimer, the clarification in this article is that the peacekeepers are indeed going to protect the refugees. But wait, most of them have fled into neighbouring Chad.

So exactly what is the mission?

Graham's next words seem to answer that question in that this is not actually a military mission but an advisory mission, and it implies that Canadian troops will indeed not set foot on Sudan soil:

Defence Minister Bill Graham said whatever the Canadian military does in Darfur, it will be in a support role to the African Union, which is in charge of the peacekeeping operation and whose member states will supply most of the ground troops.
In other words, the Canadians will not be in Sudan, will be kept away from any potential danger and will safely lead from the rear.

This is not good. Leading from the rear will not win respect for Canada in the eyes of the AU soldiers or African nations but will make Canadians look timid at best and arrogant at worst -- too timid to put their own precious lives on the line but willing to arrogantly send others into danger to do the job Canadians are too good to do. And too, Canada cannot "invade" Sudan, but they can advise AU forces to do so. Canada can be so naive at times.

"We'll be looking, from a government point of view, at every way we can help the people of Darfur," Mr. Graham said. "The military is part of the solution."
And then there's this bit from Hiller:
Many living in camps find the conditions better than anything they had previously known in their villages. "They have enough to eat. They have some security. They have some medical care . . . and they have some schooling, in many cases for the first time in their lives."
Well golly gosh, the villagers should be thanking the Janjaweed hordes! Hiller is obviously in a perverse competition with Graham to see which can be more fatuous.
The long-term challenge, international development agencies say, will be to build a lasting peace and provide tools for the people of Darfur to become economically self-sufficient.
Words like those seem to imply that not only will Sudan not share their oil wealth with the western region of the country but that someone really is contemplating the establishment of a separate Darfur nation.

Sheesh, I was only speculating when I was making fun of the CBC article, but now I am truly suspicious that the long-term plan is to either set up the refugee camps in Chad as permanent settlements (look how well that worked with the Palestinians) or partition Sudan. And let me be the first to say that "it's all about the oil."

By the way, Damian's post on this subject, which is cautiously optimistic has a most memorable phrase:

I know I should be skeptical. I know I'm just setting myself up for a fall if the Liberals continue their "walk loudly and avoid carrying sticks" policy, as one would expect them to.

Posted by Debbye at 12:51 PM | Comments (9)

May 07, 2005

Remembering Pim Fortuyn

May 7 - Pim Fortuyn was killed 3 years ago Friday, and Peaktalk remembers.

Posted by Debbye at 03:27 PM | Comments (1)

A "sinister nexus"

May 7 - Shaken, Occasionally Stirred has a breathtaking series of posts on connections between the Oil-for-Food Program encompassing the recent revelations of how money from the U.N. Oil-For-Food program was funneled to financiers of terrorists and research has led to threads that may tie into the Abu Nidal Organization. Abu Nidal left a long, bloody trail behind him, including the 1985 Christmastime attacks at the Rome and Vienna airports (another event in the category of things that people don't talk about but haven't forgotten.) He died in extremely odd circumstances in Iraq in August, 2002.

Shaken has put all the links together in this post and connecting the dots has led to either a startling coincidence or something that demands a great deal of explaining by the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool (or jail time. I'm easy.)

How chilling: the name I found listed in Montreal is Albanna, the same name I found that linked to alleged Oil For Food fund redirection by BNP Paribas.

When I did some background research on "Abu Nidal Organization" (ANO), I saw many references to close ties to Iraq, and routing funding through Lebanon. Perhaps a total co-incidence. But it is chilling to find a telephone listing in Montreal for an Albanna that is renting a furnished executive suite, and shares the same name as an executive for a company in Lebanon linked to Oil For Food contracts placed on hold by the US. Very chilling indeed. Scroll down to my earlier posts to see how the dots connect.

Do as he says. I'm heading back for my second read-through.

Posted by Debbye at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)

Bringing it back home

May 7 - Wonderful post from Stuff I Think You Should Know that connects the the war on terror in chilling, close-to-home terms:

And now, for today's Random Thought (TM)
Israel has been a nation for 57 years now. In that time they have suffered through three all-out invasions. At least three times they have been in a life-or-death struggle for independence. In between, there have been smaller conflicts, and of course, nearly continuous terrorist strikes.


... how about this. The terror bombings we see daily on TV [in Iraq], here at home. Not just one isolated (horrible, yes- massive, yes- four planes, yes- but still just one) incident. Bombings every day. Your local police department, blown up. Your grocery store, blown up. The train you take to get to work, blown up. The car in front of you on the highway, blown up.

D'ya think maybe then we'd get the hint?

People think the War on Terror started for America on September 11. Well, it started for the Israelis the day they became a country- and it hasn't stopped yet.

There is so much more to the post and my excerpts don't really capture the simple power of the piece. I hope you'll read it all and take something from it because sometimes we (or at least I) can use a good, bracing reminder as to why the U.S.A. finally resolved to confront those who wage "war" by using terror as a weapon against civilians and therefore nations which supported terror and harboured terrorists - two of which were Afghanistan and Iraq.

1. Iraq was a strong supporter of anti-Israeli terror. Saddam Hussein provided a financial incentive to successful suicide bombers by gifting their families with US $ 25,000 - the money for which, if it needs to be pointed out, came from his ill-gotten gains from the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program.

The corruption of the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program demonized the USA because billions of people held us responsible for deaths attributed to the sanctions, and the corruption of that same program financed murderous terrorism against Israeli citizens. Those who want to believe the U.N. can be reformed must first figure out how the U.N. can wash the blood from its hands.

On September 11 the bond between Israelis and us was strengthened rather than weakened - after all, how many of us chose to view Israelis as role models that day? To draw from their example by forcing ourselves to carry on with our lives despite the burning in our hearts?

Of course, when all the "root causes" were explored, one, pragmatic solution was clearly stated: if we withdrew our support for Israel, we would be in less peril. The cowardly nature of appeasement was thus fully exposed and the offer rejected.

Our reaction to Sept. 11 was decisive yet humane. Although our past half-hearted resignation to those evil things we called the Taliban, Yassar Arafat and Saddam Hussein reproached our consciences, we gave each of them one last chance to behave honourably - and we even told them it was their last chance. That generosity was rebuffed because they had foolishly failed to learn something every school kid knows: the difference between someone who is beside themselves with frustration and someone who is calm with white hot anger.

Thinking Americans, however, also understood one simple fact: the events of September 11 liberated us because our minds were no longer clouded by those Wormtongue-like whisperers of appeasement and self-hatred. The skies of New York may have been darkened with smoke and ash but we knew the sun still shone overhead and, with a staunch great-heartedness that would have gladdened Tolkien, Great Britain and Australia stood tall and proud as true friends and allies.

2. Iraq was a haven for terrorists fleeing from, among others, us. We knew, for example, that Abu Nidal, Abu Abbas, Abdul Rahman Yasin and Abu Musab Zarqawi had received sanctuary in Iraq (some may remember that Zarqawi was prominently mentioned during Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the U.N. in February, 2003.)

When President Bush declared war on terror, he reminded us that we are a patient people. It's one of those things that the media and the rest of the world largely dismissed as rhetoric, but Americans understood fully what he meant and a confirmation of a kind was the instantaneous name recognition of Abu Abbas when his capture in Iraq was announced. The names Leon Klinghoffer and Achille Lauro were burned in our collective memory just as surely as Lockerbie and the Munich Olympics.

You see, one of the qualities of patience is that you need not talk incessantly about a certain category of things because with patience comes another admirable trait: perseverance. So we accept that there will be delays, setbacks, detours and that the kids in the back seat will ask "are we there yet?" every 5 minutes - yet we keep the destination in sharp focus, scout and search for the best routes and finally reach journey's end because we actually know the difference between the trip and the destination.

We've endured much death and bloodshed, but there have also been triumphs, the most celebrated ones being the purple forefingers of January, the rising up of the people of Lebanon and the dominating theme of freedom during the president's Inaugural Address. Less well-recognized but just as important have been the debates and squabbling on the new Iraqi council - none of which ended in arrests, gunshots, or the imposition of martial law.

Israel is still standing and the Taliban, Yassar Arafat and Saddam Hussein aren't.

No, we aren't "there" yet but so long as we check our maps, oil and tires regularly we will arrive - tired, disheveled and in need of a hot shower - but we will arrive.

Because we must.

Posted by Debbye at 08:43 AM | Comments (4)

May 06, 2005

Volcker responds to sub-poenas

May 6 - Overslept and have to run, but want to note Paul Volcker's response to the Congressional committee sub-poena of records from former Oil-for-Food investigator Robert Parton:
Lives 'Are at Stake'

Volcker said Friday that Congress has to restrain itself from requiring certain acts and information from current or former IIC members as it conducts hearings into Oil-for-Food (search).

"It is essential that it also protect the integrity and the confidentiality of the independent investigating committee," Volcker told reporters in New York, saying the probe involved "highly sensitive matters."

"Lives of certain witnesses are at stake," he added. "We're not playing games here, we are dealing, and let me just emphasize this, in some cases, with lives."

I'm surprised he didn't implore us to "think of the children."

The U.N. Oil-for-Food Program was supposed to be about lives: allowing oil sales in exchange for purchases of goods and products that would alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people that arose from the U.N. imposed sanctions when Saddam Hussein failed to comply with the provisions of the cease-fire following Gulf War I.

That program was corrupted, and the money that was supposed to alleviate suffering went instead into the pockets of individuals - including Saddam himself.

The response of Rep. Chris Shays cuts to the chase:

"We just want transparency, we're used to it in the United States. We have freedom of information, we don't have that in the U.N.," he said. "There will be no faith in the U.N. until all the facts are out ... everyone is cooperating, and people aren't cooperating."
Tangentially, those words in part reveal why Americans are so unsettled by the publication ban imposed by the Gomery Inquiry. There is no implicit disrespect meant for Canada or Canadians (at least from most of us) but a difference in attitude about accountability for public funds.

(I hope I said what I meant to say, but I'm late and have to dash. Have a good weekend!)

Posted by Debbye at 09:11 PM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2005

Canadian vets return to Holland

May 5 - Today marks the 60th anniversary of Liberation Day in Holland, a proud day for the Canadians who freed that country from Nazi rule.

The Canadian vets among military parade to mark Dutch liberation from Nazis were cheered by thousands of spectators:

Some onlookers hung out of windows, cheering loudly, snapping photos and shooting guns of red, white and blue confetti.

Marike Bakker, a 35-year-old homemaker, secured her curb-side position a full eight hours early.

"I feel very emotional," said Bakker, a camera draped around her neck. "I think these veterans are going to die soon, so we as younger people must understand what happened in the Second World War."

Those who believe that war never solved anything might want to ask the Dutch, but I wouldn't recommend doing so today.

Posted by Debbye at 05:45 PM | Comments (1)

Canada looks to the future

May 5 - Three cheers for Damian Brooks, who has kept watch over some of the other things happening in Canada while some of us (cough) have focused almost exclusively on the Adscam and Oil-for-Food scandals

The Canadian government recently released a new International Policy Statement and Damian has an excellent overview of it in A good start that comes too late.

Damian has already received validation of the best sort: Lloyd Axworthy pans the report, and Damian gets to count the ways in which Axworthy is wrong. (Follow the links in the update here to read his letter to Sec. of State Rice if you can't remember who he is.)

Today's post is on the Defence portion of the report which Damian finds disappointing because there is a lot of general talk about improving security and focusing on concerns in the Arctic but little proposed to implement those decisions.

I'd bet a month's wages that at least three foreign navies operate submarines in Canadian arctic waters. Where is even an acknowledgement of this hole in our sovereignty, let alone a discussion of how to develop a crucial under-ice naval capability to counter it?

I'm not the first military-watcher to say this, but we should OWN Arctic op's. This policy statement pays only lip service to Arctic sovereignty.

He's right. Canada should rule in the Arctic.

The issue of defence is probably doomed. The "proud tradition of peacekeeping" was damaged during the Somalia Inquiry and the urgent inclusion of pictures from that one incident at Canada's new War Museum will be a constant reminder as to why Canada has decided not to trust the overwhelming majority of decent men and women who have honourably and faithfully served this country.

But there is bit of hope, and I'd have to say that the potential for a different relationship with the U.S.A. could be a very good thing. I've complained before that far too often both the U.S.A. and the U.N. are factored into decisions which Canada offers as arguments either for or against policies would should rather be made strictly on the basis of what is in Canada's best interests, and a relationship with a Canada that has outgrown invoking the U.S. as an entity to be placated or defied would be a definite improvement if only because it would be honest - not only with the U.S., but with the Canadian people as well.

Posted by Debbye at 05:08 PM | Comments (2)

Parton hands documents over to Congressional committee (Updated)

May 5 - Robert Parton, investigator for the Volcker Commission who resigned as a matter of principle, has turned over documents about Annan's actions in the Oil-for-Food program to one of the Congressional committees investgating the Oil-for-Food Scandal last night.

The documents were handed over after Parton was issued a subpoena by the House International Relations Committee on Friday night.

"I have directed investigators for the Committee to begin an immediate and careful examination of documents received from Mr. Parton," Rep. Henry Hyde, the committee's chairman, said in a statement. "I wish to extend to Mr. Parton my thanks for fully complying with the committee's subpoena. It is my hope and expectation that neither the United Nations nor the independent inquiry will attempt to sanction Mr. Parton for complying with a lawful subpoena."


After the subpoena was issued Friday night, Parton's attorney wrote to the United Nations and to IIC head Paul Volcker asking if they would instruct Parton to defy a Congressional subpoena.

When both the United Nations and the Volcker committee refused to answer, Parton took action and, on Wednesday night, handed over the boxes of documents to a congressional committee.

Those boxes contain records of Parton's investigation of Annan's actions and are believed to be damaging to the secretary-general.

Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, earlier was preparing subpoenas to force Parton and Duncan to testify. It was expected that those subpoenas could be issued as early as Thursday.

Congress has been trying to talk to Parton ever since his resignation two weeks ago. Last week, Volcker tried to block such efforts by insisting that Parton and Duncan, both Americans, had diplomatic immunity.


"It's also being pointed out that if Mr. Volcker is asserting that his team has U.N. diplomatic immunity, then he is admitting that his committee is not in fact independent but a part of the very organization it is supposed to be objectively investigating," said Nile Gardiner of the Heritage Foundation.

Gardiner said it is vital for Parton and Duncan to be heard.

"It's absolutely essential that these two individuals be allowed to testify before Congress to give the full picture. After all, this is a $30 million investigation being funded by the Iraqi people. They demand absolute accountability from this inquiry," Gardiner said.

In other U.N. news, paper-shredder Iqbal Riza will not be disciplined. Annan issued a statement claiming the shredding was due to carelessness.

Maurice Strong had hired his stepdaughter as an aide despite U.N. regulations forbidding the hiring of immediate family relations.

She was employed as his aide for two years:

The UN envoy took temporary leave from his post April 20, after which the United Nations did an internal review of his office and found when stepdaughter Mayo was hired in February 2003 "she did not disclose she was related to Mr. Strong," Haq said.

She resigned immediately April 21, he said. Haq said he did not know Mayo's age or the salary she received from her stepfather's UN office.

"We are continuing with our examination of why staff regulations were not followed," Haq said.

Strong's office did not reply immediately to a request for comment.

So shredding documents before an inquiry is okay if you explain to was due to "carelessness" but failure to note your potential new boss is also your step-dad on a application form is wrong.

The Volcker Commission is independent of the U.N. but is entitled to diplomatic immunity under the U.N.'s aegis.

Got it.

Oh, and one more thing: Robert Parton and Miranda Duncan seem to have more than their share of integrity and steel - fine, tempered steel.

Would it be too low to mention that a U.N. worker is being questioned in connection with the terror attack on the British Consulate early this morning? Actually, yes.

18:55 - I knew I had forgotten something: a senior official with the U.N. Development Program, Justin Leites, took a paid leave last year to campaign in his home state of Maine for Kerry-Edwards. This is not exactly the same as the "fake volunteers" who worked to re-elect Liberals in Canada, but it does mean that tax-payers somewhere paid for Leites to work in an effort to elect U.N.-friendly Democrats to the White House:

Twelve UNDP staff members filed an official complaint with the internal investigative arm of UNDP. The document alleges that involvement by the agency's internal communication chief, Mr. Leites, in Senator Kerry's presidential campaign places election advisers and other U.N. operatives worldwide in jeopardy.

Both staff members and U.N. officials agree that Mr. Leites left his UNDP position last year for a two month period to serve as political director for the Kerry-Edwards presidential campaign in the blue state of Maine.

"By taking an active leadership role in the bitterly fought 2004 U.S. presidential election, Justin Leites has handed to terrorists and would-be hostage-takers the perfect excuse to kidnap and threaten the lives of UNDP and U.N. colleagues elsewhere, especially those providing electoral assistance in more than 30 countries across the globe," states the complaint, which was filed on April 7 and was obtained by The New York Sun.

"If UNDP staff can interfere with impunity in the internal politics of the most powerful country on earth, how can UNDP maintain that it is not interfering in a similarly partial manner in any of the weak and failing states in the developing world?" the complaint demands. It also notes that while Mr. Leites was "campaigning zealously in America on behalf of his political masters, three UNDP electoral workers were seized in Kabul, Afghanistan, and held hostage for nearly a month in October 2004."

Another interesting aspect is the fact that the employees who filed the complaint chose to remain anonymous:
[UNDP associate spokeswoman Cassandra Waldon] ... did not dispute that Mr.Leites left last year to work for the Kerry-Edwards campaign. She said that the current investigation is yet to determine whether then-UNDP director, Mark Malloch Brown, who is now the U.N. chief of staff, allowed Mr. Leites to campaign, or whether Mr. Annan made the decision.

The signatories of the UNDP complaint write that they chose to remain anonymous because Mr. Leites "has powerful protectors within and beyond UNDP, including high-level Democratic Party figures." They added that "current safeguards for U.N. system whistleblowers are inadequate and have been acknowledged to require strengthening."

Mr. Malloch Brown continues to run UNDP, although Mr. Annan last week named a former Turkish finance minister, Kemal Dervis, to a replace him. Mr. Malloch Brown was named U.N. chief of staff early this year after a group of mostly Democratic American "friends of Kofi Annan" met secretly last year in the apartment of America's ambassador to the United Nations under President Clinton, Richard Holbrooke.


The Sun reported about the involvement of Mr. Leites in the Kerry-Edwards campaign in the past, and at that time a UNDP spokesman, William Orme, contended that no U.N. staff rules were broken. The staffers' complaint, however, now alleges that specific staff regulations, as well as the U.N. charter, were indeed violated.

"In the performance of their duties, the secretary-general and the staff shall not seek or receive instructions from any government or from any other authority external to the Organization," reads Article 100 of the U.N. charter. "They shall refrain from any action which might reflect on their position as international officials responsible only to the Organization."

According to U.N.'s staff regulation 1.2 (h), "Staff members may exercise their right to vote but shall ensure that their participation in any political activity is consistent with, and does not reflect adversely upon, the independence and impartiality required by their status as international civil servants."

Whistleblower protection is long over-due at the U.N.

Posted by Debbye at 04:00 PM | Comments (0)

Following OFF money

May 5 - Claudia Rosett writes about new information concerning the Oil-for-Food Program in the NY Sun: Congress Probes Routing of Funds To Suspect Firms:

Investigators looking into the U.N. oil-for-food program, poring over documents provided to Congress here, are discovering that vast sums intended for humanitarian purposes in Iraq were rerouted through a global web of companies with links to terrorist funding and arms trafficking.

The fresh clues to the money trail are emerging from a House hearing that focused last week on BNP Paribas, the French bank picked by the United Nations to service the bulk of the U.N.-supervised deals. At the hearing, one of its officers acknowledged a number of what he characterized as "mistakes" in the handling of funds under the oil-for-food program.

But the documents provided by BNP under congressional subpoena and examined by The New York Sun suggest to congressional investigators that some of these mistakes involved the rerouting of money through a global web of companies linked not only to terrorist funding and arms trafficking but also to anti-sanctions campaigning and front operations for the Iraqi regime itself.

Even in the context of an oil-for-food program that encompassed more than $110 billion of Saddam's oil sales and relief purchases, these payments to third parties were not small change. Payments rerouted inside BNP - against U.N. rules but evidently without protest from Turtle Bay - totaled at least $470 million, documents in the possession of Congress indicate.


There are 80 as-yet-undisclosed third-party payments still under review by BNP that, according to Mr. Rohrabacher, "BNP does not fully understand." The bank's own auditors found that the flow of oil-for-food paperwork was "irrational."

While some of the companies may be innocent and some of the transfers may have been simple mistakes, there are also signs that this list provides a map to at least part of the financial network Saddam used to evade U.N. sanctions and corrupt the U.N. program meant to contain him - as he was doing, according to testimony last fall of the Central Intelligence Agency's chief weapons inspector, Charles Duelfer.

The number of companies involved was relatively small, a few dozen out of the more than 3,000 contractors tapped by Saddam under U.N. terms that let him choose, subject to U.N. veto, his own business partners. Among several of this band, the rerouted payments were copious. In some cases, they form a latticework of disturbing associations. These include such U.N.-approved dealers as Al Wasel & Babel General Trading, based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which sold $384 million of goods to Saddam under oil for food.

Last April, the U.S. Treasury designated Al Wasel & Babel as a front for officials of the Saddam regime. According to the Treasury, Al Wasel & Babel - under the guise of selling Saddam humanitarian goods - not only tried to buy a surface-to-air missile system for Iraq when it was under U.N. sanctions, but also "played a key role in the former Iraqi regime's schemes to obtain illicit kickbacks in goods purchased through the oil-for-food program."

A description of a long, torturous trail seems to wind through the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool:
BNP was able, however, to supply Mr. Rohrabacher with the information that whoever might have been in charge of East Star, the company over the period 2000-03 received more than $80 million in BNP rerouted oil-for-food payments that were officially due to a Saudi Arabia-based supplier, Al Riyadh International Flowers, which BNP described as "reportedly" owned by a member of the Saudi royal family, Prince Bandar Bin Mohammed Bin Abdulrahm Al Saud. He is not the Prince Bandar who is the Saudi ambassador to America.

The Prince Bandar in question also turns up personally on the list of BNP's third-party payments, as having received, in 1999, $353,500 rerouted from another of his companies, Zahrat Al-Riyadh. This in turn shows up on the BNP list as having had about $29 million in oil-for-food payments rerouted by BNP in 1999-2000 to the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool.

WTF? Kate and her commenters are doing some digging and turning up some very interesting things.

It gets better:

Along with receiving funds redirected from Al-Riyadh, East Star received third-party payments via BNP totaling at least $8 million from its U.N.-approved affiliates, Malaysia-based Pacific Inter-Link and three related companies in Southeast Asia (and more third-party payments reassigned from dealers in places such as Russia and Ukraine).

BNP's report to Congress notes that Pacific Inter-Link "is a member of the Yemen-based Hayel Saeed Anam Group, one of the oldest and most noted business conglomerates in the Arab world." The Hayel Saeed Group, with affiliates in places such as Malaysia and Indonesia, supplied hundreds of millions of dollars of goods to Saddam's regime via oil for food.

What BNP did not mention to Congress, though it was reported last fall by Fox News, in an article by this reporter and Fox News's executive editor, George Russell, is that both Pacific Inter-Link and the Hayel Saeed Anam Group have on their boards of directors a member of the family, Hayel Saeed Abdul Rahman, who was a charter member in 1984 of a business chamber founded in Lugano, Switzerland, by members of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood - the Malaysian, Swiss Gulf, and African Chamber, or MIGA. Shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks on America, MIGA was named by the United Nations as a terrorist-financing outfit, and added to the U.N. watch-list of entities belonging to or affiliated with Al Qaeda.

Pacific Inter-Link has denied any connection between MIGA and Mr. Abdul Rahman, who has recently been based in Jeddah. His name as of last fall was still on MIGA's Swiss registry documents, along with that of U.N.-designated terrorist financier, Ahmed Idris Nasreddin - with whom Mr. Abdul Rahman, via his family company, has stated he has had no dealings since 1984. (Emphasis added.)

Please note that in case some names seem familiar, the Abdul Rahman in this story is not Abdul Rahman Yasin who was believed to have fled to Iraq in or around 1993, but Ahmed Idris Nasreddin is a suspected terrorist who was named on a Securities advisory to the State of Massachusetts issued by the State Dept. on Apr. 19, 2002, as a suspected terrorist with extensive ties to the Salafists. A joint-U.S.-Italian communique listed him as a financier of terror (and announced that the two countries simultaneously froze his assets.) He was a financier of the Salafists, and the frozen assets appear to be quite extensive and "Fourteen of the twenty-five are entities that are owned or controlled by either Ahmed Idris Nasreddin or Youssef Nada."

One more piece of the puzzle:

Amid this tapestry of multimillion dollar "mistakes" is a small, stray thread worthy of further attention. The BNP list includes a payment of $64,900, redirected in 1999 from a U.N.-approved dealer, Jugo Import Atera, to a Dutch company, BV Chemie Pharmacie. Jugo Import - or Yugo Import, as the name appears on the company's Web site, has been for decades the leading arms exporter of the former Yugoslavia, now Serbia. Yugo Import's Web site mentions not only that it specializes in military equipment and transfers of military technology, but that from 1975-90, more than three-quarters of its business abroad, or more than $7.5 billion, was done with Iraq - indicating weapons deals with Saddam's regime prior to sanctions. Why Yugo Import, during Belgrade's era of rule by U.N.-sanctioned Slobodan Milosevic, was approved by the United Nations to sell Saddam's U.N.-sanctioned regime such goods as "anti-snake venom" and "veterinary supplies" under oil for food is an intriguing question. Also intriguing is why it has only now emerged, under pressure from congressional investigators, that Yugo Import proceeds were diverted to a third party.
(Link via post at Canada Free Press blog which is well worth reading.)

Posted by Debbye at 01:07 PM | Comments (2)

Béliveau testimony preview

May 5 - The Globe and Mail has some previews of what is expected to emerge from the testimony of Michel Béliveau before the Gomery Commission today - including assertions that $300,000 in cash allegedly went to Liberal campaign during the 1997 federal election campaign:

Mr. Béliveau is scheduled to testify today about allegedly receiving the cash from Jacques Corriveau, another Liberal supporter and close friend of Mr. Chrétien, who got millions through the sponsorship program in the 1990s.

The testimony would be the first by a Liberal official describing illicit cash transactions in contravention of Canada's electoral laws. It builds on allegations from Jean Brault, former president of Groupaction Marketing Inc., who told the inquiry of secret payments to Liberal officials in the 1990s and early 2000s -- including payments to Mr. Corriveau he was told were "for the cause."

Believe it or no, an envelope stuffed with $20 and $100 bills totaling between $75,000 to $100,000 was allegedly passed to Béliveau by Corriveau (the self-described "man of culture.") There was no receipt.
The cash was used to prop up Liberal organizations in "orphan ridings," Mr. Béliveau said, referring to the expression used in Liberal circles to describe ridings held by other parties. (Emphasis added)
It seems somehow fitting to take a Pirates of Penzance break.

May 7 - Béliveau's testimony is covered here and during it he exonerated Chretien from knowledge of the kickbacks:

FORMER PM Jean Chretien's chief organizer told the AdScam inquiry he witnessed more than $400,000 in cash secretly pumped into the Liberal Party's coffers to finance the 1997 election and pay off debt.

During shocking testimony yesterday Michel Beliveau said during his time as the Liberals' Quebec executive director in 1997 and 1998 he personally received thick envelopes stuffed with cash directly from Chretien's former bagman Jacques Corriveau and ad exec Alain Renaud.

"I take that responsibility, I accept it," Beliveau said, tearfully confessing that in revealing the financing scheme he has broken trust with the Liberals. Beliveau said he decided to tell Justice John Gomery about the illicit cash payments after speaking to Chretien, who he said didn't know of the backdoor donations.

"I'm still a loyal man so I warned the (former) prime minister that I had received my subpoena," he said.

"The only thing he told me is to tell the truth."


Beliveau, who broke down and wept into a handkerchief before leaving the stand, said he handed the envelopes of cash to former Liberal executive member Benoit Corbeil, admitting that they were never registered in the party books and broke financing laws.

Béliveau also testified that Liberal candidate Helene Sherrer, who ran unsuccessfully for a riding in Quebec City, was unaware that Corriveau had supplied him with $ 8,000 to pay off the debts of a company she owned. Helene Sherrer is currently Martin's principal secretary.

Posted by Debbye at 11:42 AM | Comments (0)

A tale of two pictures

May 5 - There's a picture in Canada's new War Museum that has stirred some controversy. Peter Worthington writes:

Prominently displayed in the new Canadian War Museum, which opens to the public next week, is a 10-foot painting of a Canadian soldier choking a young and bloodied Somali prisoner with a baton.


Why is this painting in the War Museum?

While the purpose of the new War Museum is not to glorify war, surely its intent isn't to belittle and depict Canadian soldiers as murderers?

Read the whole thing. Peter is admirably restrained in it.

The CBC is also covering the dismay of Veterans groups over the inclusion of the infamous picture and has a response from the artist:

The artist, Gertrude Kearns, said these two paintings deal with the theme of how Canadian soldiers deal with the psychological toll of modern warfare.

She said a committee, which included several veterans, approved her concept.

"These particular works, the ones in the museum, are about conscience. They're also about complexity," said Kearns.

She wants conscience and complexity? If the horrors of Nazi Germany are too simple, she might try this:

GI and dying Iraqi girl 0_22_450_baby.jpg
Michael Yon

Eager to get to and kill U.S. soldiers, Michael Moore's "Minutemen" plowed through a crowd of children who were playing in the street.

They "got to them" all right, and gave a whole new meaning to the phrase "human shields."

Is that "complex" enough?

Amy Bieger, wife of Maj. Mark Bieger (the soldier in the above photo) is interviewed here.

(NY Post and CBC links and photo via Neale News.)

11:59 - Paul has a lot more to say on the Canadian War Museum's choice of pictures and connects this fiasco to the cheapening of the English language.

14:11 From this post by Michelle Malkin I've learned that the photographer, Michael Yon, has a blog and he has a very moving post titled simply Little Girl. His final line on the eager murderers is "Their day will come."

So say we all.

Posted by Debbye at 10:59 AM | Comments (4)

"A complex billing scheme"

May 5 - Allegations that members of the federal government pressured sponsorship contractors to donate to the provincial Liberal Party of Quebec were bad enough, but now there is evidence that taxpayers paid for television ads for that same party (Public paid for TV spots):

TAXPAYERS were secretly billed for TV spots in 1998 showcasing French-speaking Quebec Liberal MPs to the tune of $92,008, the AdScam inquiry heard yesterday.

Financial documents tabled before Justice John Gomery show a complex billing scheme obscuring the fact that former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano had taxpayers pay for the production of partisan spots that aired on community television stations between 1997 and 2000.

Productions Cameo owner Thalie Tremblay, the daughter of Michelle Tremblay who is closely tied to Gagliano, told the AdScam inquiry that she first sent her invoices for the TV spots directly to Gagliano's office but later agreed to send her bills through Montreal's Groupaction Marketing.

In 1998, Pierre Tremblay, who was then Gagliano's chief-of-staff, told Thalie Tremblay to describe the work she did in general terms and to redirect the bill to Groupaction which "hid" the bill within sponsorship-related invoices. They paid Tremblay and Gagliano billed the House of Commons for the amount paid to Productions Cameo.

The article provides a bit more confirmation of Corbeil's testimony about what he termed "fake volunteeers":

A handful of Liberal organizers appeared before Justice John Gomery late yesterday, testifying that they were paid for their work during the 2000 election campaign through phony consulting invoices they sent to Quebec City's Commando Communication.
Following allegations by Corbeil about a connection between working for Liberal party campaigns and appointments to the bench, Judge John Gill in Alberta is being scrutinized:
John Gill, who served as co-chairman of the 2004 federal campaign, was appointed judge of the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta in January. Elections Canada records show he made donations to the Liberal party in the last few years, including $763 in 1998, $828 in 2000 and $340 in 2003.

Gill's former law firm, Edmonton-based McCuaig Desrochers, also gave thousands of dollars in donations to the Liberal party, records show.

The NDP has raised concerns about the appointment on the heels of his high-profile work on the federal campaign, but Gill declined to respond to the concerns.

"I can't comment," he told the Sun. "Sorry, I can't talk about it. That's part of the job -- you don't talk about things. I've got nothing to say about it, basically."

A bit of thrusting and parrying during Question Period on this issue:
In the Commons yesterday, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper demanded an investigation, saying the Liberal party had "corrupted the system of nominating, vetting and appointing judges."

But Prime Minister Paul Martin said Canadians should be proud of their judiciary and blasted Harper for calling its integrity into question.

Chuck Guite admitted to violating federal rules requiring a one-year period between leaving public service and lobbying the federal government (he signed his first contract within 24 hours of retiring.) Records show that his company, Oro Communication, issued bills for more than $1,000,000 from 1999-2002 - mostly to advertising firms and one sponsorship contractor.

Greg Weston identified electile dysfunction in Sunday's column, and predicted that it is likely to worsen:

Call it electile dysfunction on a national scale -- Canadians so angry and disillusioned with the shambles in federal politics that they can't bring themselves to vote for anyone.

It was bad enough that last year's election set a 100-year record for voter absenteeism, Paul Martin and his Liberal government having been handed power by barely 20% of the registered electorate.

But by the time the muck settles this time around, the coming election could well establish yet another low-water mark.

Last year's poor showing on election day was driven primarily by voters turned off by their lack of choices -- angry with Liberal corruption, but unimpressed with Stephen Harper and fearful of his new party's agenda.

Unfortunately, it looks like the coming election could be more of the same. Polls indicate voters are even angrier at Liberal corruption, but only marginally more comfortable with the Conservatives and their leader.

O Canada: Mad as hell and not going to vote anymore.

The Georgians, Ukrainians, Iraqis, Kyrgys and soon the Lebanese continue to shame us by their determination to secure honest, representative governments. Can anyone imagine Canadians - or Americans - erecting tent cities in the dead of winter? Yet, out of pique, we are childishly surrendering that for which others have unyieldingly striven.

Posted by Debbye at 08:57 AM | Comments (0)

Gomery Inquiry Extras

May 5 - I'm still fuming over my 2004 tax return so really didn't need this from the Captain's Quarters to further my state of discontent -- "spoiler" alert, eh?

Posted by Debbye at 08:12 AM | Comments (0)

May 04, 2005

Guite links Martin, Manley, Dingwall and Gagliano to Adscam (Updated)

May 4 - Captain's Quarters reviews the connection between the American purchasers of ad agency Vickers and Benson and what they needed to do to ensure contracts under Adscam and what those dispensing contracts could do to ensure they got those contracts here, and (link via from that post) CTV has published some of Guite's testimony before the Gomery Commission in which he cites involvements by some top Cabinet officials in giving the assurances that Vickers and Benson would continue to receive contracts as inducement for the American buyers:

Guite testified that back in 2000, he was told that then-finance minister Paul Martin had intervened to ensure a Liberal-friendly ad firm wouldn't lose its lucrative contracts with the federal sponsorship program.

Guite had already left the civil service by then, and was lobbying the government on behalf of the Toronto-based advertising agency Vickers and Benson Ltd.

Hoping to secure the future of his firm's ad contracts with Ottawa, Guite said he had lunch with his former boss, Public Works Minister Alfonso Gagliano.

"He said he'd look after it," Guite told the commission.

A week later, Guite says he got a call from Gagliano's chief of staff, Pierre Tremblay.

"The minister had spoken with both ministers and the volume of business would be maintained," Guite testified. He claimed he was assured Vicker's contracts with two federal departments -- Industry under John Manley and Finance under Paul Martin -- were safe.

Martin and Manley have denied the allegations in statements issued by their offices.

The CTV also reports that Guite said that the awarding of contracts under the Progressive Conservatives was even more political which again reinforces the need for severe reformation of the system.

I've been sick with a virus and am still under the weather but will try to stay with this.

May 5 - 08:42: Toronto Sun story here has this item about a new piece of evidence:

A new inquiry document shows Corriveau went directly to Jean Carle in the PMO to secure sponsorships even before the creation of the program in 1996.

The document backs Guite's claims that Chretien's former chief of staff Jean Pelletier and Carle drew up the sponsorship lists. As the program matured, Guite said he got direction from Gagliano.

Guite said Gagliano dipped into the sponsorships to pay for his own pet projects, at one time demanding a paper trail-free approval for a Canada sign in a small Italian village.

While candidly admitting he broke contracting rules, Guite blamed the ad agencies for sky-high production fees.

Posted by Debbye at 09:04 PM | Comments (3)

Abu Faraj al-Libbi captured

May 4 - A man described as al Qaeda's #3 man, Abu Faraj al-Libbi, is reported to have been captured along with 10 others in Pakistan. (Pakistan seizes 'al Qaeda No. 3'.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:41 PM | Comments (2)