June 23, 2006

Terror Watch

June 23 - CTV reports that Saudi Arabia shootout kills 6 'militants' (another was arrested) after security forces "stormed a suspected al Qaeda hide-out":

One policeman was also killed in the clashes, it said.

The statement, carried by the official Saudi news agency, said security forces chased seven members with "deviant thoughts" who "belong to the astray bunch" to a house in Riyadh's al-Nakheel district. The Saudi government often refers to al Qaeda members as individuals with "deviant thoughts."

The house was "a hideout for crime, corruption, and a base for the plots of aggression and outrage," the statement said.

Why do the pronouncements from these guys always make me groan as much as did those incessant quotes from Chairman Mao's Red Book back in the day?

June 24 - 19:01 CTV reports that 17 were wounded in the attack and over 40 suspects have been arrested in sweeps after the raid.

Maybe the Saudis were feeling a bit left out what with all the arrests in Toronto, Britain, heavy action in Afghanistan and the recent U.S. arrests of 7 plotters:

Five of the suspects were arrested Thursday in Miami, after authorities swarmed a warehouse in Miami's poor Liberty City area, a federal law enforcement official said.

One person was arrested in Atlanta on Thursday, and another person was arrested before yesterday, according to CNN. (Bolding added)

(That last sentence made me giggle because I was expected a place, not a date, but it can't be that funny if I have to explain it.)

Most of the chatter on Fox is actually worth listening to because they are doing a great job of speculating about things that can only make wanna-be terrorists nervous -- like the rumour that the head of the terror cell was an FBI agent.

Our guys in Iraq continue to rack 'em up: on Monday a senior Al Qaeda operative and 3 others were detained (no names released.)

Sorry, I shouldn't be happy. I should be sombre, and Weighted With The Enormity Of It All, but I'm not. Maybe it's because it's Friday, maybe it's because we ducked another bullet, but more likely it's because Ace is hot on the story:

You will not be surprised that the "timing" of these "arrests" of "terrorists" is being "questioned."
His link to Allah is, as always, beyond funny.

Here's your CanCon and a return to seriousness: when I read the CNN headline (on the World page) "Rights boss: Stop terror abuse" I actually thought ... but no, alas, it was just

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, taking aim at the war on terrorism, reminded all states on Friday of their duty to ban torture and give all security detainees a fair trial.

In a speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Arbour also voiced concern at the alleged existence of secret detention centres, saying they facilitate abusive treatment.

Although she mentioned no names, her remarks were clearly aimed at the United States and its allies in their "war on terror" launched after the September 11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in 2001.

"It is vital that at all times governments anchor in law their response to terrorism," Arbour told the 47-member state body ahead of the U.N.'s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, being observed next Monday. (bolding added)

Your timing sucks, bitch. Consider

The torture and murders of two soldiers who, by all legal definitions, qualified for protection under the Geneva Convention: Private Thomas Tucker and Private Kristian Menchaca.

A government worthy of condemnation: Sudanese militias kill hundreds in Chad
Car bomb in Philippine market place kill 5, wounds 10 in a probable attempt to kill the governor of the southern province;
Tamil Tigers Caught Laying Sea Mines:

A POWERFUL explosion occurred off the coast north of the Sri Lankan capital Colombo today, with police saying it was probably a sea mine planted last week by Tamil Tiger rebels.

The explosion was heard about 15km from Colombo, near the site where police on Saturday arrested five Tigers in diving gear who were laying sea mines, Sri Lanka's police chief Chandra Fernando said.

"There are no reports of casualties. We are investigating," Fernando said.

"Last week we had information that there were eight sea mines. Seven were accounted for but we had not found one. The blast today is probably that mine."

Officials said sea mines were similar to limpet mines but magnetically attached to a ship's hull and could be triggered to explode by a time-delay fuse or by remote control.

One of the five arrested divers had swallowed cyanide and committed suicide to prevent being questioned, and another two who took cyanide were taken to hospital.

The terror attack links are in fact relevant to Arbour's admonition to "governments" as these terror attacks were undertaken by groups that intend to take state power. This one, howerver isn't because it relates to a man who, pre-Spider Hole, actually held state power and lied to the U.N.: Hundreds of WMDs found in Iraq.

And the NY Times continues their normal job of assisting the terrorists by revealing a clandestine program intended to follow the money:

WASHINGTON, June 22 — Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials.

Data provided by the program helped identify Uzair Paracha, a Brooklyn man who was convicted on terrorism-related charges in 2005, officials said.
The program is limited, government officials say, to tracing transactions of people suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda by reviewing records from the nerve center of the global banking industry, a Belgian cooperative that routes about $6 trillion daily between banks, brokerages, stock exchanges and other institutions. The records mostly involve wire transfers and other methods of moving money overseas and into and out of the United States. Most routine financial transactions confined to this country are not in the database.

Viewed by the Bush administration as a vital tool, the program has played a hidden role in domestic and foreign terrorism investigations since 2001 and helped in the capture of the most wanted Qaeda figure in Southeast Asia, the officials said.

I wonder if they are referring to Hambali. who provided the money, or to Canadian Mohammed Mansour Jabarah, who paid the bombers directly for the Bali bombing. *
The program, run out of the Central Intelligence Agency and overseen by the Treasury Department, "has provided us with a unique and powerful window into the operations of terrorist networks and is, without doubt, a legal and proper use of our authorities," Stuart Levey, an under secretary at the Treasury Department, said in an interview on Thursday.
Maybe liberals are so shrill about the rights of terrorist because they also enable terrorists.

(Louise Arbour is a Canadian, if that needed clarification.)

*09:46 - FoxNews TV says it was probably Hambali.

12:23 - Newsbeat1 has a nice list of terrorists killed or captured since Zarqawi's death.

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June 21, 2006

"Fearless" James Loney

June 21 - Some proclaimed former hostage James Loney a hero. What. Fraking. Ever. I'm more inclined to scoff at those who are so desperate to produce a hero that they'd select someone who did nothing heroic (other than survive) rather than look to the fine men and women who voluntarily risk their lives for us every day in places like Afghanistan, but that's just me.

But giving him a "Fearless" award when his heroic feat was to conceal his homosexuality because his captors would likely kill him if they learned he was gay?

I was thinking on my way over here how surreal this is," the soft-spoken Loney told reporters.
Surreal doesn't even begin to describe this.

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June 20, 2006

"Religion and politics are an explosive mixture" but ...

June 20 - I'm sick of double-talk. In the wake of the arrests of southern Ontario men alleged to be planning terror attacks here, Muslims condemn extremism:

The Muslim Canadian Congress gathered with the Bangladesh Association of Toronto to urge Muslims to be vigilant against the spread of extremist interpretations of Islam, which they said are spread by "misguided fanatic youth and their mentors."

"Imams and other clerics who peddle politics need to be told to take their politics to the electorate and not to the pulpit," said Tarek Fatah of the MCC.

"Religion and politics are an explosive mixture and invoking God on one's side in a political dispute is dishonest, callous and dangerous."

Fatah said Muslims shouldn't have to pay for the alleged crimes of the 17 terror suspects arrested this month.

"We want Muslims to know there is nothing to apologize for," Fatah said. "We can't run from this."

That last paragraph is a head-scratcher. I get the first sentence and I get the second sentence, but I have no idea what the two sentences taken together are supposed to mean.

The MCC urged the government to work toward finding a solution that will keep Muslim youth away from terrorist activity.

I'm not sure what they want the Canadian government to do, but somehow I suspect the Canadian taxpayer will be expected to foot the bill. Can't blame them for that - it's as Canadian as royal commissions. Or maybe it's supposed to be in exchange for no longer accepting foreign donations? (see next section)
They also called for an end of the occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and for a ban on foreign donations to places of worship.
Is it just me, or did the Muslim Canadian Congress, a religious organization, go on to make a political statement about Iraq and Afghanistan after saying that religion and politics should be separate?

It's far too easy to infer that they are connecting the Canadian presence in Afganistan (and the American presence in Iraq) to growing Islamic radicalism here, and there are bound to be some who will believe that it was an implicit threat that things could get worse if Canada does not withdraw from Afghanistan (although I think it more likely they were just doing a variation of "it was wrong but ...)

Same old, same old.

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Universal smugness

June 20 - Ouch. Hartley Steward doesn't pull his punches in 'Nice' people finish last:

So, have you dropped the idea of sewing a cute little Canadian flag onto your backpack to endear yourself to strangers when you holiday this year? There goes another precious Canadian conceit.

It seems that even the unbearable niceness of being Canadian won't keep you safe in this dreadful new world of ours. The smug Canuck smile has surely been wiped off your face by the gory details of the alleged Muslim terrorists' plans uncovered in Toronto.

But there's no reason for Americans - or Europeans, Australians, Indonesians, or anybody - to grin at Canadian discomfort because we've all been guilty of thinking our essential niceness and decency immunized us from hatred. Americans failed to learn after the first attack on the World Trade Center to take bin Laden's declaration of war seriously and we paid a terrible price for our stupidity in 2001.

Canadians, or more specifically Torontonians, ducked the bullet this time and only time will tell if enough took the lesson to heart, but people up here do have the regrettable advantage of having witnessed terror attacks where other "nice" people live such as New York, Bali, Madrid, and London.

Our paradox

We've all been raised to believed that people will respond to kindness with kindness and, by application, to tolerance with tolerance. Those notions remain valid and not ones we should discard, yet it's the exceptions to those rules that will kill us.

Canadians, as do most Westerners, need to figure out how to be both tolerant and vigilant. It is extremely difficult because it is a paradox, requiring simultaneous trust and distrust, and all the harder because experiences in both London and southern Ontario indicate that new converts were used, indicating (again) that those wishing us harm are not easily identified.

All in all, it’s kind of depressing that we’ve gotten to this point. Like everybody, I made some vows to myself in those early days after September 11. Most of them were echoed by millions of Americans, but there was one in particular that I knew might be the hardest to keep: to keep my anger focused on the actual evil-doers, not to lump all the members of that culture with said evil-doers, and to persevere in winning Muslim support against evildoers.

We all know that Japanese-Americans were placed in detention camps during World War II. We know that it was rationalized as being to protect Japanese-Americans when Japan invaded as U.S. soldiers would fire upon anyone who looked Japanese while repelling the expected invasion.

So, did anyone else fear that Muslim-Americans with roots in the Mid-east might be rounded up? C’mon, you know you did. Anyone who knows American history would have had the thought flash across his or her mind even if it were immediately rejected.

But, and it’s a big but, I think most of us would have hit the streets and protested against such a draconic move. That’s something the left doesn’t seem to understand about those of us who are determined to protect and defend our country, and that’s why so many of us were won over when President Bush early on made it clear that he regarded Muslims as allies, not enemies, and declared this war as one against the evil practice of terrorism.

We know that we committed a sin during World War II. And I know that, although my rage some days challenges my early vow, that same vow has provided ballast and returned me to my earlier conviction: that we — Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian – are in this together.

You're either with us or against us

Stewart lays it out:

The time has come for the international Muslim community to take some responsibility. It's time to squeal their heads off to security forces everywhere when they know something. Time to drop the dime on friends, neighbours, associates -- to show some courage and old-fashioned fortitude. Time to stop whining about a possible backlash against ordinary, law-abiding Muslims and begin to participate in the solution.

We don't need another lecture on our insensitivity to the Muslim world. We need help.

Note that he addresses this to the international Muslim community.

A more than substantial number of terror attacks have been carried out by Muslims, and those in Western cities were carried out by Muslims who had been living in or raised in Western countries. Those attacks were proclaimed to be in the name of Islam. Like it no, Muslims have been put on the proverbial spot and each thwarted and successful attack lessens the patience Westerners have for the counter-accusations of racism, victimhood and the outright denial uttered by far too many international Muslim leaders.

It really is a pity more liberals seemed incapable of of respecting the sincerity of Bush's call for tolerance after Sept. 11, but it would have been a far bigger pity if many Muslims hadn’t paid attention and, by choosing their allegiance and trusting their governments, helped expose cells like the one in Lackawanna and perhaps even this most recent Toronto cell.

The extent to which tips led to the takedown of international terror cells is impossible to ascertain and it might even be reckless to overly speculate on the subject, but logic tells us that some degree of inside information had to come into play.

That realization should counter outrage or any kind of opportunist backlash because, just as we do not always recognize the foe, we also do not always recognize the ally.

We were all forcibly enrolled in an intense training course on Sept. 11 and it is right that we hated being forced to take it, but don't forget that Muslims were also enrolled in that course and that Muslims were not only among the victims of Sept. 11 but have comprised the majority of casualties since.

In the end, Muslims have as large a stake in this war as do we, and we should never stop reaching out to those communities.

14:43 - I can't believe I failed to include the fact that success in fighting the terrorists in Iraq and Afganistan is largely due to the massive number of tips received by the police and armies as well as coalition forces in those countries. The grim degree to which Iraqis and Afghans have a stake in destroying terror networks there is beyond any dangers we've yet faced in North America.

[This was written Sunday but I've only now been able to publish. Sorry it's so stale.]

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June 17, 2006

Letting people choose

June 17 - Posting continues to be difficult: the denial of service attacks targeting My Pet Jawa have affected alll Munu sites (despite the inconvenience, there's also some satisfaction that a fellow Munuvian is pissing off the right people but that is offset by the infuriating fact that the Jawa Report is still off-line) plus my ISP seems to have intermittent problems finding the the Munu server. At least I have options if my ISP can't resolve the second problem.

Indeed, one of the fundamental values of Western civilization (and capitalism) is that there are a variety of options for most situations, yet when we women make choices that don't fit with what other women believe we should do there is an incredible amount of spin to make it appear that what we have freely chosen is evidence of victimhood.

For example, child-care advocates continue to be baffled by a strange phenomenom in Alberta and British Columbia. Despite the West being one of the "hottest job markets" in the country, more women in theose provinces are leaving the workforce and the numbers are especially high for women with children under the age of six. Now I'm no expert, but it seems to me that they are opting to stay home with the kids until they enter school.

Shocking, huh? They could have jobs, you know, yet they choose to stay home and focus on raising their young children during "the formative years."

But the author of the study concludes that this is due, among other factors, to the lack of child care::

The author of the study, Francine Roy, says women are entering and exiting the job market for reasons that have little to do with financial need.

Instead, Roy argues that factors such as the availability of day care, educational levels, number of children and the type of employment drive women's participation in the workforce.

"The rising participation rate of women in eastern Canada appears associated with greater use of daycare and higher education levels in Quebec, lower birthrates in the Atlantic provinces, and a lower proportion of immigrants than in the West," Roy writes in the study.

One of the implication seems to be that lack of education causes a woman to make poor choices - like stay at home and raise her own kids. The CTV item doesn't include any data from the study supporting any of Roy's conclusion (which doesn't necessarily mean there was none) but it is fairly apparent that her bias has led to her to a complete failure to consider the one factor that many parents with pre-school children would immediately recognize: the desire to nurture one's children. (Sometimes Dads are the ones with the nurturing trait, and it's thrilling to see more and more of them opting to be the at-home parent.)

Having constant, one-one-one interaction with young children in those early years is not only incredibly satisfying for both parent and child but has the additional benefit of establishing a solid bedrock for the child which can stabilize him or her after they enter the "real" world of elementary school as well as later on when they become teens and the inevitable struggle ensues to redefine limits and capabilities as well as themselves as independent from the parents (except for money, shelter, food, and the family car!)

One of my aunts told me long ago that the primary duty of parents is to raise responsible adults. You can't sub-contract that job out, yet universal childcare with the attendant heavier tax load will force women out of the homes and into the job market.

The sad part is that having government agencies raise children is being presented as an ideal scenario by daycare advocates. There are two glaring problems with that position: the ridiculous notion that we can raise children on an assembly line, and the inability to have quality control. (Actually there are three: the absurdity of thinking the government actually performs routine tasks better than the average person.)

Whatever happened to the tiresome assertion that each of us is unique? Uniqueness doesn't roll off assembly lines (reminds me of the old joke that you can buy a Ford in any colour you want so long as you choose black.) Uniqueness, also known as individuality by us older types, is nurtured by consistent, one-on-one interaction that parents are best fitted to provide. The family remains the best setting where good qualities can be encouraged and bad qualities can be dealt with, and it should go without saying that dealing with behaviour problems when they first appear is far better than trying to deal with them after they become entrenched characteristics.

I make this claim about the family for one simple reason: parents love their children. Parents have an ongoing interest in their children's future. Parents are emotionally invested in their children in ways that reach far above and beyond someone who is paid to look after their children. Parents don't go on strike.

I keep thinking that the real impetus for government day care is that the social engineers are frustrated that, try as they might, this country continues to produce square peg children who defy efforts to pound them into round holes and they figure that if they can get the children at any earilier age it will better their chances of making children more pliable, i.e., into uniform, cookie-cutter kids.

Issues over quality control are fairly self-evident when you are dealing with a monopoly and more so when the government is the sole provider. Both health care and education issues continue to plague us, and tangential to the problems in the education sector, it is worth noting that children who learned to read at home before they entered school do better scholastically than those whose parents rely exclusively on the schools to teach that basic skill.

People conveniently forget that even that bastion of early childhood education, Sesame Street, was specifically designed to be viewed by both parent and child, which tends to reinforce the necessary role of the parent as a child learns how to learn.

Am I saying that families where both parents work cannot raise children well? No, but I do think it is a lot harder and a lot more frustrating because we've already devoted our best and most productive hours of the day at work. And then there's the need to discipline children, which require two vital tools: patience and maintaining a calm atmosphere. That's damned hard to achieve when your day is one long rush: rushing to get them and you ready to leave in the morning, rushing to pick them up after work, rushing to prepare dinner, rushing to bathe them, rushing to read the bedtime story ... all this yet rushing to get them to bed at a decent hour. Even with both parents performing those tasks, where's the time to teach them why it's wrong to bop another child on the head with a Tonka truck? or find a suitable answer to "why is the sky blue?" or "why do I have to kiss Aunt Martha even though she smells funny?"

Interestingly, David Warren comments on the steady encroachments on personal freedoms, including the destruction of the family unit, with the goal being that "the citizen becomes a kind of jelly to be fit into any desired new mould."

So, rather than deplore the choice to stay home and raise their kids, we ought to applaud their good sense and committment to parenting.

So if you opt to say at home with kids and someone says "what do you do," i.e., where do you work and what job do you perform that enables you to pay more taxes, just look them straight in the eye and say "I'm an early childhood specialist." And you will be telling the truth.

(David Warren link via Newsbeat1.)

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June 11, 2006

Harper meets with Muslim leaders II

July 11 - This updates an earlier report on a meeting between PM Stephen Harper and Muslim leaders: according to Parliamentary Secretary Jason Kenney, the PM's meeting with Muslims may lead to study

"It was a very useful exchange of ideas. We heard concerns, obviously, about some of the extremist elements and how they're trying to mislead youth," Kenney said.

"We heard concerns that the government stand in solidarity with the community against any kind of backlash, and we heard suggestions about how we could go forward, perhaps with some kind of study or review of the issues that came out last month."

Bloody. Hell.
Those issues, Kenney said, included challenges faced by Muslim youth in Canada -- particularly young men -- the influence of extremist elements within the Islamic community, and methods of combating that influence.
I get where they're going, but another fraking study? Why not a Royal Commission? I can see it now: a Royal Commission to investigate why young Muslim men think they're entitled to murder innocent people.

Try this as a Subject for Study: Once it was decreed that Israeli civilians were a legitimate target, it was open season on all of us.

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A possible result of the Harper meeting with Muslim leaders?

June 11 - John B. had a great, common sense idea: set up a BadJihadWatch to root out terror elements, and I guess someone listened because CTV reports that

Muslim religious leaders promise to report any suspicious behaviour from their followers to authorities and abide by a zero-tolerance policy against preaching hatred in the wake of last week's terror arrests.

Leaders representing more than 30 mosques and Muslim organizations throughout Canada gathered in Toronto on Saturday to deliver the message -- and remind Canadians not to discriminate against Muslims.

The leaders admitted there are pockets of radical fundamentalists within their community who believe in violence, but said co-operation by the Muslim community led to the arrests of 17 terror suspects.


"Canadian youth of Muslim faith have been unduly influenced by radical thought," said Yasmin Ratansi, a Liberal MP.

That last admission, of course, is not limited to the youth of Muslim faith.

What on earth should we expect when our media and schools deliberately promote the notion that Western civilization is degenerate and evil? The "home grown" nature of the alleged terrorists refers to more than place of birth or upbringing: it is about institutionally planting and nourishing the seeds of contempt for this country because it is a Western one.

But, as I've stated repeatedly, most people who feel alienated do not to strive to become psychopaths. We've seen that kind of radical thought before, with the FLQ, the Air India bombers, the Weathermen and the Symbionese Liberation Army, so even if we don't understand it we must recognize that is dangerous for us all.

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Why the CBC?

June 11 - The inclusion of the CBC as a terror target was the most surprising of the revelations that came out of the Toronto terror sweep. The big question was Why? The only news entity up here that is more terror-friendly is the Toronto Star, and they were not on that list.

I trust the CBC is having in-depth meetings to address the "root causes" of Muslim "anger" and "perceived alienation" that has caused so much "resentment" and "humilation."

Those meeting will undoubtably be productive although they won't address the "root causes" of steadily declining CBC viewership (except, of course, for hockey.)

Going a step further, inasmuch as seizing communications and media are top priorities for insurrectionists, Lorrie Goldstein goes there and reaches a surprising answer to why terrorists might be discontented with the CBC: What would happen if our national broadcaster was ever taken over by ... er ... 'militants'?"

"Hello, I'm Lorrie Goldstein of the Toronto Sun, reporting live for Sun TV, Torontosun.com and Canoe.ca, outside Toronto CBC headquarters at 250 Front St. W., where terrorists have just taken over the building, demanding that the CBC refer to them as ... uh ... terrorists.
When you come right down to it, that really is the only possible grievance they can have against the CBC.

In a hypothetical interview with OBL, the question is asked if there are women in the group:

"I see, evil spawn of Satan. So, let me get this straight. We storm the CBC's headquarters, overpower their security staff and are now holding hundreds of their employees hostage and threatening to blow up their building and all these infidels care about is whether there are any women in our group, so they will not be politically incorrect if they refer to us as 'gunmen'?"
The beauty of satire lies in how closely it resembles reality, and Goldstein scores a grand-slam on this one.

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Where do they find such wankers?

June 11 - It's hard to be patient in the face of incredible stupidity. Of course it is vital to maintain a presumption of innocence in any arrest (that's why the word "alleged" was invented) but when some fool announces, on behalf on Muslim youth, that 'This is our 9/11' my calm side notes that they missed a vital difference, unless over 3,000 Muslims were massacred in Toronto last week, and my rational side is overcome with disgust that a horrific event would be hijacked by some of the stupidest apologists this side of the Toronto Star.

Of course, maybe I missed coverage of the over 200 Canadian Muslims who leapt to their deaths from a blazing inferno atop the CN Tower. Maybe I failed to read about the dust cloud that swept down Bay Street - a dust cloud that was composed of incinerated building materials and human bodies.

Maybe I was sufficiently insensitive to the reports of the horror in forensic labs as DNA was extracted from intenstines and bone fragments in order to try and identify victims and match them to the heartbreaking posters of the missing that lined Toronto streets.

And that story about a pair of bound hands found atop a nearby building? I totally missed that.

I did note, although not previously report, that some 28 windows at a GTA mosque were broken. (Sorry, my attention has been somewhat distracted by the bombing of Shiite mosques and funerals in Iraq. Maybe the death toll accounts for my inattention.)

It was wrong, but it was also mild; in fact, it seemed downright tame compared to the firebombing of a Jewish synagogue and the destruction of the library in a Montreal Jewish elementary school a few years back events which - Gee! did not compel Muslims to hold press conferences denouncing acts against Jewish and Shiite religious institutions.

Just how stupid do they think we are? Have Muslims been dragged out of their homes and beaten to death? Have they been forced to wear crescent badges so we can readily identify them? Have there, in fact, been widescale reprisals against Muslims?

Of course not. It's not as those cartoons depicting the Prophet were published in Canadian newspapers and set off a rampage in which the Danish Embassy was burned ... besides, this is a free country, and those who want pandering and abasement can get that and more from the Toronto Star which is attempting to put a human face on those arrested which inevitably lead to promoting the alientation and misunderstood theme - a notion that is insufficent given that they allegedly sought to express their feelings with mass murder.

If "teen angst" and "lack of identity" justifies psychopaths, then wouldn't we expect that Christian teens - surely the most marginalized group in both Canada and the U.S. - would be primary candidates for terrorists? (Read Michael Coren's column along that line of thought here.)

But, fortunately, timing is everything. Any theme of finding terrorism as an outlet while searching for an identity is downright awkward given that one primary inspiration for terrorists is DEAD. (Those who are offended that Zarqawi's puffy dead body was put up for display can also be soothed by the Star which, at least in this instance, did give fair time to both sides of the controversy.)

And I can't deny that I was downright inspired upon learning that Zarqawi's last look at life on this side of Hell was at the faces of U.S. servicemen and Iraqi policemen - people he had spent considerable time and resources to kill but who had a most satisfying last word.

Ah, maybe I'm being too hard on these kids. What with the failure to teach criticial thinking at Canadian schools and the Cult of the Don't Pass Judgement Unless it's Against Americans, why wouldn't they imagine that the arrest of 17 alleged terrorists is the same as the murder of over 3,000 innocent people?

Or maybe the media mis-reported the press conference. Maybe the "Muslim youth" were thanking Allah that a real Canadian 9/11 was averted. Ya think?

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June 10, 2006

Harper meets with Muslim leaders

June 10 - Unsurprisingly, PM Harper held a closed-door meeting with Muslim community leaders in the aftermath of the arrest of 17 terrorists in Southern Ontario and, although the details of the meeting were not released, the response by one of the participants hints that in addition to the soothing of ruffled feathers, issues of accountability may have been broached:

[Farzana] Hassan-Shahid [of the Canadian Muslim Congress] told The Canadian Press that those in attendance had different viewpoints about what may have led a group of young Muslims to consider violent attacks on their own country.

"It's about time Muslims owned up to the fact it's a Muslim problem," she said, adding that she thinks the community must forcefully denounce extremism.

"We need to be more proactive, rather than issue statements of condemnation," she said.

And then there was some unintentional humour:
[Tarek] Fatah [spokesperson for the Canadian Muslim Congress] said the issue of American-based Islamic organizations spreading fundamentalism and extremism in Toronto was also brought up.

He said two - the Islamic Society of North America and the Islamic Circle of North America - were singled out.

"This is America pushing its fundamentalist Islamist thinking into Canada, not vice versa," he said.

That's a switch. Instead of bashing the U.S.A., President Bush and evangelical Christians, he bashes the U.S.A. for importing Muslim fundamentalism. That man is like totally Canadianized -- he just can't address home-grown Canadian issues without invoking the anti-American card.

By the way, don't blame me for designating Fatah as "spokesman" for the CMC and Hassan-Shahid as being "of" the CMC - that's how the article is written. Another well-known dirty little secret is that the Canadian value of equal rights for women is applied somewhat selectively - although I blame the usually vocally outraged Canadian feminists for that unprincipled failure.

As I wrote yesterday, there does indeed seem to be a concerted attempt to push fundamentalist thinking onto Canada but the source is Saudi Arabia, not the U.S.A.

The Saudi royal family has issued over $70 billion in grants to leading U.S. universities - including Harvard, Cornell, Texas A&M, MIT, UC-Berkeley, Columbia, UC-Santa Barbara, Johns Hopkins, Rice University, American University, University of Chicago, Syracuse University, USC, UCLA, Duke University and Howard University and the purpose of the grants was to establish departments and chairs that promoted the Wahhabist version of Islam.

There is a fairly well-defined line between propaganda and education and it's no secret that many U.S. and Canadian universities crossed that line long ago, but what many don't realize is that Saudi money helps fund that propaganda.

Question of the Day: How much money do the Saudis contribute to Canadian mosques and universities?

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June 09, 2006

Wahhabism in Canada

June 9 - Schools funded and staffed by Saudi Wahhabists have been blamed for teaching the ideology that justifies terror attacks in Pakistan and Indonesia, and it seems that they have kindly included Canada as a recipient of their benevolence.

Newsbeat1 links to a video of an interview with a Sufi Muslim recently aired on CBC's The National in which serious allegations are made that the Saudis have sent Korans to Canada which include tracts inciting jihad (go to Newsbeat 1: If you click on the video clip at 7:55 mark -. there is a story about those arrested. It requires RealPlayer to view.)

Kamal Nawash of the Free Muslims Coalition has a blog entry on the Saudi Royal Family and the Wahhabists which is extremely thorough and puts some key points in perspective:

For most of the 20th century, the Saudi royal family was substantially stronger than the Wahabi religious establishment. However, due to shortsighted policies and a lack of leadership from the Saudi government, the Wahabi religious establishment has gained substantial influence in Saudi Arabia. Over the last 30 years, radical Wahabis have become restless and unsatisfied with Saudi Arabia’s historical division of power. In response to the Wahabi’s increasingly assertive demands, the Saudi government adopted a policy of appeasement. The decision to appease the Wahabis has resulted in the legislation of internal social policy that is based on the most extreme common denominator. As is clear, Saudi Arabia’s policy of appeasement has backfired and has resulted in the propagation of a wicked, backward, violent and intolerant interpretation of Islam the likes of which the Muslim world has not experienced in 1400 years of history.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has become a victim of terrorism with several bombings that killed hundreds of people. In response to terrorism on its own soil, the Saudi government has finally declared war on terrorism. It now appears that the Saudi government realizes that the status quo cannot continue and are taking baby steps to reform their policies by organizing tough police actions and ideologically challenging the terrorists’ theological justification for violence. The Free Muslims Coalition regularly monitors Saudi TV and while we have witnessed intolerant rhetoric by radical Wahabi religious figures, we have also witnessed a sharp increase in the number of religious and government figures who aggressively advocate tolerance, respect for other religions and attempt to discredit the ideology that leads to extremism and terrorism.

Nevertheless, while we recognize that the Saudi Arabian government has taken steps to fight extremism and terrorism, it is not yet doing enough. ..

Nawash calls upon the Saudi government to take steps to end the export of intolerance, but I think it is equally the responsibility of the U.S. and Canadian governments to not allow what is arguably hate literature into our countries.

We really need a chapter of the Free Muslims Coalition up here. John Lawrence's latest article in Canada Free Press, Toronto area Muslims feel singled out, expresses the frustrations many feel when Muslim leaders adopt a stance of victimhood in the wake of terror arrests rather than express determination to weed out those in their community who threaten us all:

As for those in the muslim community who don't like the tactics of Canada's various security agencies and police forces, I issue this challenge to you. Flush these cowards out of your mosques. Condemn all radical speech as unacceptable and turn over any and all information regarding subversive activities involving any member of the muslim community immediately. ..


You, Mr. Hindy, are no better than any other Canadian, and as a Canadian, it is time for you to put Canada first and to stop this rhetoric about how you are being persecuted. There is a groundswell of emotion rushing against your religion not because of remarks by our Prime Minister as some have suggested, and certainly not because of the allegations put forth in the form of criminal charges.

The fault, my fellow Canadian, lies at the doorstep of your mosque and others like it. Deal with it like a man and stop blaming every one else. It will not be until the majority of muslims speak out and turn out these sadistic hate mongers that muslims will be looked upon in the same light as every other group in this great land.

Just a caution: there are still many things we don't know about the terror sweep in Toronto last week, including whether tips came from Muslims who noticed there was something decidedly "off" with these men and contacted the security agencies.

Nevertheless, the quick assertions of victimhood are counter-productive as well as wearisome, and they do a deep a disservice to Muslims everywhere.

While it is true that the vast majority of terror attacks are carried out by Muslims, it is equally true that the vast majority of terror attacks target and kill Muslims.

Far too often we only pay attention when it affects Western countries, and that is a dangerous miscalculation. Al Qaeda and its affiliates seek to gather all Muslims under their murderous banner and, as we have seen in Iraq, they murder shoppers at markets and children playing in the streets ...

GI and dying Iraqi girl 0_22_450_baby.jpg
Michael Yon

and they do so with the same indifference with which they murder Iraq police and army personnel - and us.

Victory can only be achieved when people who cherish freedom are willing to stand up and fight for it, and that means all of us - Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jainist, animist, wiccan, agnostic, and atheist.

The war on terror is decidedly non-denominational, and the Muslim community in Canada desperately needs leadership that is willing to stand up and protect the rights of all Muslims from Islamic fundamentalists -- not only in Canada but in the rest of the world as well -- and affirm that tolerance is something to which we are all entitled.

June - 10 08:30 Salim Mansur passionately writes about the economic, social and political morass in many Muslim countries and declares that We Muslims have work to do.

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June 07, 2006

Canada and the War on Terror

June 7 - I've been off-line as the phone company didn't come through and then Munuvia was hit with yet another DNS attack. We must have pissed someone off, which I'll take as a compliment.

The international attention to the terror arrests up here has been astonishing, and all the more so in that the Canadian security agencies involved in the arrests have been more forthcoming than usual about those accused and their alleged specific targets. And too, the accusation that one of them wanted to behead the prime minister adds to the sensationalism in the case.

The Toronto Sun has archived the reports coming out in the aftermath of the arrest of 17 alleged terrorists here.

Judging from my own observations, I would say that awareness by both private citizens as well as by institutions has been increased -- but I'm sticking with generalities for the same reason as I cited in the previous post: give nothing away and make the bastards do their own legwork.

I will only report on the responses of those I know (and those who know me, and my American flag lapel pin intentionally acts to forewarn folks) yet I think it's fair to say that the astonishment here in Toronto is mixed with gratification. After the dismal failure to convict the defendents in the Air India trial which was, in part, attributed to turf wars between CSIS and the RCMP coupled with the revelation that the RCMP was involved in some questionable Adscam doings and had become highly politicized was disenheartening, but the arrests seemingly signaled that those responsible for public safety were in fact making us safer:

The RCMP led the investigation, but the probe included significant co-operation with partners through an Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, or INSET, made up of RCMP, the CSIS spy organization, federal agencies and provincial and municipal police.

INSET teams were created in April 2002 under a five-year, $64-million investment by the federal government.

That means the teams were created when Chretien was prime minister, which is significant and asks a question of those who parrot the sorry "it sends a message" line: Why do you vote for people who say one thing and then do another rather than voting (or at least respecting) those do what they say they will do?

Chretien and his ministers continually pooh-poohed the terror threat in Canada, yet established a high-profile committee to counter terror threats and it was highly successful. The arrests and detainment in Canada under this country's Anti-Terrorism Act (and which was opposed in an open letter from Muslim and civil rights organizations in part due to provisions permitting secrecy and long-term detentions without the formal filing of charges) should have been enough to persuade Canadians that (a) there was a security threat and (b) some strong measures had been taken to contain that threat.

The most striking feature of the case is that the targets were total Cancon -- nary an American business concern or MacDonald's were on that list. Even the dumbest dunderhead should have to concede that their hated for Canada and her institutions went beyond any imagined connection with the USA and spoke to their hatred of the West in general, but I'm not counting on it. The readiness with which many up here blame the USA for everything and anything is so deeply embedded that I doubt anything could excise it, but it is those others who are thinking about this and doing their own math and, if they think about it from this perspective, the aborted attacks say so much about Canada's worth that it may help counter the sense of inferiority that marks much of what is called Canadian self-deprecation.

In short, Canada is a force of good in the world and that makes her a target -- just not in the way that those at the CBC and Toronto Star would project. It is more evident in the West, but folks in the Maritimes, Quebec and Ontario too have it as part of their heritage: the courage to pick up roots and settle in a foreign country (including the Tories Loyalists* that fled from the American War of Independence;) the willing self-reliance and confidence such a decision requires; the optimism and hope that life here will be better than it was "back home."

Okay, I'm going all Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle on you, but there is a lot of wisdom in that movie (and some grrr-eat humour) but I do have a point: people don't come here (especially given the damned winters) unless they have confidence and yearn to build a better life for themselves and their children. I actually believe that at least some of the familes of the accused had no idea what their kids were up to because that spark and optimism drove them to take a chance and move here and I feel as badly for them as for any family that sees - and disbelieves - that their kids are trashing every gift their parents gave them.

Those who want to invoke the 60s might want to look a little deeper: one of the accusations of my generation was that our parents were too materialistic and insufficiently spiritual and "close to nature." That this accusation was directed at people who had grown up with war-time scarcities was not even a consideration, yet how different is that blindness from the young fundamentalists who have disavowed every reason for which their parents migrated here?

It should be said that recognition of and gratitude for that gift can be perverted if the schools and communities don't celebrate the very heritage that enabled people of all colours, religions and ethnicities to come here and succeed, and by that I am referring specifically to the shared English heritage of both the USA and Canada which molded our institutions and gave legal recognition to individual merit and free will, despite its inconveniences, and just maybe what Canada and Canadians need is to accept that the two countries have that in common as well as a geographical boundary.

Instead of Canadians prefacing sentences with "unlike Americans," maybe we can all say that we -- Canadian, American, Australian, New Zealander, and British -- are all engaged in promoting the genuine values of an Anglosphere which decrees that all are equal and can rise on the basis of individual merit and worth.

On Canadian Appeasement

All the protests, anti-Americanism, Bush-bashing (including that by elected officials) and a refusal to support the Iraq War only fooled the fools -- it did not fool those who allegedly plotted attacks on institutions and landmarks and, had the plot actually gone forward, the death toll as well as the impact on the Canadian economy would have been substantial.

They are even accused of plotting an attack on the Toronto CBC studio, one of the most liberal if not leftist institutions in Canada. The CBC has been lukewarm on Canadian involvement in Afghanistan and their hostility to the USA as well as US efforts in Iraq is unmistakeable, yet they were a target.

Again, only the fools were fooled.

As I noted in an earlier post about some pre-Sept. 11 difficulties between the French and British in their respective perceptions of the international scope of conspiracies to commit terror acts, the French may talk a lot about discourse and negotiations but their security services tell a different story: they are focused, hard-nosed, and sometimes ruthless in their determination to eliminate threats. The problem with the French governments is their hypocrisy, or perhaps it would be better to say that the security agencies operate in such deep shadows that the French people can pretend that they are far too sophisticated to indulge in cowboyish maneuvers or do things like blow up the Rainbow Warrior just because it was attempting to expose the environmental impact of continued nuclear testing in Polynesia. After all, their government was "sending the right message."

There are indeed two Canadas, but it is not divided so much between French and English as between those who recognize that terrorism is an international threat and Canada is vulnerable, and those who will not concede the fearsome reality. Given the need for public vigilance in noticing stray bags, gunfire in the night, or an imam who preaches beyong the fiery, the extent to which these arrests are a wake-up call are yet to be determined.

As it has in the USA, though, I fear the retreat to partisan trench warfare between right and left will be rapid and unashamed, and far too many will not be able to find it within themselves to take the necessary steps to admit that we need to pull together now if only for self-preservation. But I really hope to be proven wrong.

* I should have said Loyalists, not Tories. Thanks to Keith for the correction.

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June 01, 2006

The Insidiousness of Scent

June 1 - Now that public smoking has been banned, it's time for True Believers to organize for their next assault. In Ottawa, Councillors vote to educate public on perils of perfume:

A citizens' committee on the environment submitted a proposal that the city phase in a bylaw banning people from wearing perfumes and scented products such as deodorants and soaps.
Get in the game, Toronto! The Ottawa City Council is threatening to capture the coveted title for Can't Run the City But Can Run Your Life. But first they have to spend millions to explain to people why perfumed products are wrong:
The proposal suggested starting with a public education campaign,
handled, no doubt, by advertising companies,
then following with a scents ban in city buildings and later a citywide ban.
Sheesh, I could sympathize with (althought not support) any measures taken to deal with those who do not wear deoderants (particularly after this recent heat wave) but take away my Eternity? To the barricades!
Councillors agreed Thursday to a public awareness campaign in city-owned buildings to encourage people to stop wearing scents.

They plan to review the effectiveness of the campaign in 2010 before looking at the committee's recommendations for a scents ban.

Woo hoo! Four whole years for avid anti-aromaists to agitate and organize and get public funding and be a Major Factor in the next city elections which, I've no doubt, it will be a dirty but scent-free campaign. Candidates will resemble the newscasters in the Batman movie.

I tremble to think of what these zealots will do. Throw water on those who wear perfume and after-shave? Distribute circulars on how Musk Is Bad and Roses Ruins Lives? Pontificate on the allure of natural bodily odours?

How about starting with the youngsters? Millions can be spent urging teens to "Just Say No to Scent." City ordinances could be passed requiring that all perfumed products are to be removed from shelves and cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 18.

What about potpourri? and incense? Pot Smokers and Orthodox Churches Unite?

It never fraking fails. The zealots came after the smokers and now smokers have been literally ostracized. Now the same argument is being advanced to go after people who thoughtlessly pollute the air with (shudder) artificial smells.

In the proposal, the environment committee argued that people have the right to breathe clean, fragrance-free air in the workplace.
Today the workplace, tomorrow the buses and subways, restaurants, canopied outdoor patios, and child care facilities along with stiff fines for those who violate the law. Beware: the Perfume Police are on your trail.
Several places across Canada have implemented public awareness campaigns urging people to not wear fragrances to help reduce illness and discomfort by those with scent allergies or asthma.
They are coming for You!

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Passports and whining and insults, oh my!

June 1 - Newsbeat1 often posts excerpts from Question Period in the Commons (which is another good reason to visit a couple of times each day) and today's post concerns questions from yesterday as to what the Conservative Government is doing to stop the pending requirement to present passports when entering the U.S. at the northern border.

First I should mention that U.S. tourism has decreased to Canada in the past few years, and provincial and national Liberal politicians and pundits have come up with a variety of explanations: Sept. 11, SARS, the dollar, in short, everything and nothing.

Some, though, have voiced the obvious reasons: Canada was a member of the Axis of Weasels; Chretien flew to Mexico (then a member of the UNSC) to encourage Pres. Fox to vote against U.N. action in Iraq; Canadians seem to love Michael Moore; there's a rather long lists of terrorists are out there with Canadian backgrounds (although some are dead or in Gitmo) yet the prime minister said "there are no terrorists in Canada"; and members of the Liberal Party and the news media persist in insulting us.

Now it escapes me at the moment why Americans might not choose to visit a country that has so much contempt for Americans and furthermore actively campaigned to derail American efforts to deal with a known threat and financial supporter of terrorsts, but the Minister for Public Safety, Stockwell Day, demonstrates considerably more sense on this issue than his predecessors.

Newsbeat 1: Hansard excerpts- Question Period- May 31 ,20060:

Hon. Robert Thibault (West Nova, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on the issue of the border with the United States, this government has abandoned Canadians. The Maritimes depend on American and Acadian tourism. American families have to spend more than $500—the price of passports—to enter Canada. Americans will avoid the Maritimes, and our tourism industry will suffer further. Canadian exporters who must travel to the United States have the same problem. [Americans will need a passport to enter the U.S., not Canada, although the previous government had threatened to enact such a policy as an act of retribution.]

Why is this government abandoning Canadian communities on the passport issue?


Will our government not represent us on this vital question or do we have to depend on U.S. governors to defend our interests? This is bush league leadership. Once again, the Prime Minister shows himself to be a shrub, a little bush. (Emphasis added)

Hon. Stockwell Day (Minister of Public Safety, CPC): Mr. Speaker, insults like that created a lot of problems for the Liberal regime.

A number of speakers take to the floor to whine about how passport requirements will hurt tourism and they all take their shots at the U.S. -- although I should note that they do not for its value in the debate but because they think they're ingratiating themselves with Canadians who they fondly imagine like to hear that stuff.

Somehow I doubt passport requirements will radically affect American tourism up here any more such would affect tourism to other countries. A large number of Americans, as do Canadians, hold passports already, but what may be happening is that the Liberals are establishing the grounds for blaming the Tories for reduced American tourism, as though their own big mouths weren't a major factor.

There's a saying about being careful what you wish for. A common Canadian complaint is that Americans don't know anything about them, but Americans have become more acutely aware of the world since Sept. 11 and, I fear, of Canada -- or maybe I should say the version of Canada the news media up here likes to project.

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Too harsh? Hardly

June 1 - This story sickens me. A man raped his 2-year old daughter and posted pictures of the act on the internet.

The assaults continued for two years, and after his 2005 conviction, the man received a 15-year sentence -- but the sentence was reduced to 9 years by the Quebec Court of Appeals:

In a 2-1 ruling on Tuesday, the court ruled the man's crimes were not among the worst sexual assaults ever committed, and agreed to reduce his sentence from 15 years to nine.

"There was no violence, such as gagging, threatening or hitting the child," Judge Lise Côté wrote.

Because gagging, threatening or hitting the child would have been wrong.

When the court reduced that sentence on Tuesday, Côté cited the man's young age [32 years old] and the fact that he has only one other criminal conviction (for sexually assaulting another child when he was 17).

Only two children (that we know of) have been damaged so we wouldn't want to ruin his life because of this.
The prosecution's case was based on roughly 5,000 pictures and 5,000 videos found on the man's computer, some featuring very young children.
The man has three other children.

(Via Neale News.)

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May 29, 2006

Ont. Civil service union to boycott Israel

May 29 - I should be outraged but such would be entirely too subdued: civil service workers in Ontario, whose generous wages and salaries are paid for by taxpayers, have endorsed the boycott of Israel:

The Ontario wing of Canada's largest union has voted to join an international boycott campaign against Israel "until that state recognizes the Palestinian right to self-determination."
You got that backwards, idiot. Israel has recognized that right and is instituting that right, but the Hamas party, which now holds majority rule, has not reciprocated and still holds to its position to eliminate Israel.
Sid Ryan, the Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario president, said 896 members voted unanimously at its convention in Ottawa on Saturday to support the campaign.

"This is not an attack on Jewish people. It's [an objection to] the state of Israel's policies on Palestinians," Mr. Ryan said yesterday. "They say they are creating an independent state but they're not giving them the tools to do that."

"Tools" like mortar, explosives, schoolbooks that teach that Jews are monkeys and pigs, and ambulances to transport weapons? They have them.

Or "tools" as in "useful fools tools?" 'Cause I can assure you they got those too aplenty -- including your delegates.

Under the resolution approved by delegates, the union -- which represents more than 200,000 workers -- will also develop an education campaign about the issue, according to a press release. The statement condemned the West Bank barrier erected by Israel.

"The Israeli 'apartheid wall' has been condemned and determined illegal under international law," the release reads.

That stupid myth of international law is again raised as though it has legitimacy (in the proper sense of the word) and breezes past the murderous attacks that prompted the erection of the wall.
In a reference to boycotts, it also notes, "Canada has a free trade agreement with Israel, the only such agreement this country has outside of the Western hemisphere."

"In Ontario, the Liquor Control Board carried more than 30 Israeli wines, many produced in the occupied Golan Heights."

I never noticed that before, being a California wine lover, but I will definitely buy a couple of bottles now.
Mr. Ryan said the global campaign started last July and has been supported by 170 organizations around the world. "It's a human rights issue," he said.

He said the union has also come out in the past against attacks by Palestinian extremists and suicide bombers.

Insert the pro-forma "It was wrong but .." b.s., and, having been fair and even-handed, jump back to showing how enlightened you are.
CUPE Ontario's next step, he said, is to try to get other unions such as the Ontario Federation of Labour and the Canadian Labour Congress to join the campaign of "boycott, divestment and sanctions."

In recent years, CUPE Ontario has called for the end of Israeli military action and a withdrawal from the occupied territories. The executive of the Canadian Labour Congress crafted a resolution in 2002 comparing Palestinians in the occupied territories to blacks living under apartheid in South Africa.

Note the discrepancies: blacks in South Africa lived in South Africa; the Palestinians are living in what is not part of Israel. Israel is in fact withdrawing from the territories, but the issue for most of the Palestinian leadership is that Israel is not withdrawing from Israel. Not that details matter when you're enlightened.

In other news, Israeli soldiers thwarted a homicide bomb attack and here's the part that really sticks out:

Senior IDF officials told Ynet that the intelligence alert that led to the arrest is one of the most severe they have received so far. “This was a joint plan of the Islamic Jihad, Fatah and the Popular Front to carry out a large scale terror attack in Israel,” an army source explained.
Get that? Fatah. Now that they no longer control the PA, they have no need for the pretense of wanting peace, instead choosing to restore their reputation as butchers.

Reader Timbre sent me an email about Toronto Star editor and columnist Haroon Siddiqui's thrat to sue a commenter over at little green footballs. Anyone know how that is developing?

(CUPE link via Neale News)

[The transit workers' work stoppage has ended, so I'm heading to work. More tomorrow.]

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May 28, 2006

Oh, that Canadian MSM (Updated)

May 28 - Interesting debate going on up here which, although seemingly stemming from alterations in how PM Harper handles (or fields depending on your POV) questions from the press, reflects deeper problems with which most Americans are wearily all too familiar: rank partisanship by reporters, a news and commentary elite that cannot distinguish between fact and opinion, editorial statements disguised as questions, different reporters repeatedly asking the same questions already asked and answered (Sec. Rumsfeld deals decisively with them,) deliberate or lazy (again, depending on your POV) misrepresentation of what was actually said (remember the infamous Dowd ellipses?) and above all, in what amounts of a near-derelicition of duty, a failure to perform the kind of investigative reporting that might have brought attention to scandals like Adscam and over-spending for the Gun Registry much earlier.

JM at Newsbeat1 makes an extremely pertinent point on exactly that failure here in his link to the following item.

Stephen Taylor has an excellent post on the controversy giving Fair time to both sides of the debate and the comments are both stimulating and informative. Be sure and follow the links in both the post and comments; this is not an idle debate but one that exposes the degree of disenchantment that has led to the rise of blogs and questions as to the amount of unfettered access the media should have to the Prime Minister.

This comment by Maria cuts to the heart of what many of us see as a direct challenge to the assumumption of an "independent press":

I don't have exact source but here is another fact that makes Canadians suspicious of the motives of some members of the press:

56 appointed for life Senators were journalists (don't know how many of those were from the Ottawa press corps)

Of these 48 were appointed by Liberals.

Another extremely large number of journalists have been made Ambassadors.

The past two Governor Generals appointed by Liberals were from CBC.

There is a perception that these appointments are for "favours rendered".

No kidding. Certainly the prospect of getting a plum patronage appointment would indicate a potential conflict of interest if not a direct conflict of interest but (surprise!) the Canadian media hasn't exhibited much interest in pursuing that story.

Furthermore, the CBC is not the only news outlet that receives funding from the Canadian taxpayer so maybe it isn't so strange that much of the news media actively fanned a scare campaign in an effort to secure a Liberal win during the last two national elections.

(Please note that I am not singling out the Canadian news media for scorn -- laziness and the wholesale failure to check their facts is endemic among news organizations around the world and I cordially despise most of them all of the time and all of them some of the time.

I must admit, though, that U.S. press briefings would be far less entertaining without Dowager Helen Thomas.)

May 30 21:10 - Lorrie Goldstein points out in his column that the practice which is so outraging the PPG (Parliamentary Press Gallery) today was, in truth, instituted back in 2004 in honour of the the last two election campaigns. At those times, though, a Liberal, Paul Martin, was Prime Minister.

So the same press gallery that quietly accepted restrictions under a Liberal PM -- and, it must be stressed, during two national election campaigns -- has suddenly re-discovered the concept of a vigorous and investigative press? If we are to believe they are indeed neutral, then why didn't they stage walk-outs under the Martin government? Were they somehow afraid of the Liberals?

It is simplistic to always assume liberal (and Liberal) bias in the media, but their own inconsistencies are increasingly hard to fathom and they aren't offering any coherent explanations.

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Rally in Toronto for illegal immigrants rights

May 28 - It was inevitable, I suppose, that rallies in the U.S. demanding rights for illegal immigrants would trigger similar ones up here. 500 attended a rally for immigrants' rights in Toronto yesterday:

The protesters, who gathered outside the OISE building on Bloor St., chanted "No one is illegal," and "Status for all." The rally and march was one of several across Canada yesterday.

"We want an end to the detentions, deportations and use of security certificates," said Zima Zerehi, a spokesman for No One is Illegal Toronto.

Zerehi said studies show about 500,000 illegal immigrants live in Canada with 80,000 in Toronto.

If we apply the 10:1 ratio when comparing Canadian figures to those for the U.S., that would approximate 5 million illegal immigrants in Canada and 800,000 in Toronto.

Posted by Debbye at 09:06 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Our Ambassador to Canada

May 28 - Nice little story about US Ambassador David Wilkins: In one short year, the new U.S. ambassador to Canada has become a poutine-loving, Moosehead-swilling Canuck-at-heart.

I think most Americans will readily admit that Canadian beer is better than ours (it has a higher alcoholic content) and to my taste, Moosehead is indeed The Best (with thanks to Sammy and Amelia for introducing me to it) and well worth the higher price.

As for the poutine, to each their own, eh?

Posted by Debbye at 08:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 27, 2006

The Battle of Panjwai

May 27 - I am impressed: this item, Canadian troops capture militants, which was written by Bob Weber and appeared in the Toronto Sun, has some solid reporting and indicates some understanding of the military and how they fight. I'm going to quote more than usual due to the uncertain lifespan of the link:

For nearly two weeks, hundreds of Canadians have been fighting in the mud-walled villages of the Panjwai district west of Kandahar, facing large concentrations of Taliban militants who - unusually - have chosen to fight rather than fade away.

The battle, a hide-seek affair of house-to-house searches and sudden, ferocious ambushes, has cost lives both Afghan and Canadian. Forty Taliban fighters were reported killed and 40 others captured in Panjwai last week in a battle that also took the life of Capt. Nichola Goddard, whose funeral was held in Calgary on Friday.

And still the fighting continues.

"We're not 100 per cent sure why (the Taliban) are fighting so hard for this area," said Capt. Dave Johnston of Second Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

"But this is definitely the main event now."

I suspect the Taliban are not fighting so hard for the area so much as fighting Canadians and hoping their ferocity will compell the withdrawal of Canadian troops from the region. They probably rely on the Star for their intel and have misunderestimated the character of Canada outside of Toronto.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the big action came to Banzya ...

A long convoy of light armoured vehicles - or LAV IIIs - and G-Wagon patrol vehicles had pulled into an adjacent field the previous night, its soldiers bedding down on the flat plain of dust and goat droppings.

By 8 a.m., about a dozen soldiers had filed through Banzya's main gate to begin the operation.

The Canadians set up a blocking cordon along one side of the town. Then, working with the Afghan police and army, they formed a line at right angles to the cordon. They started from one end of the cordon, searching homes, poking down alleyways and questioning villagers, moving along methodically like a squeegee cleaning a window.

The Afghans took the lead. They understood the tribal differences that allowed them to recognize someone out of place. They could spot the signs that suggest a man habitually carries an AK-47.

"We've got a lot of technology that they don't," said Johnston. "We've got more firepower, we can see better and we can call in artillery."

"But they've got a spidey sense."

The anti-war folk (and much of the MSM) are generally dismissive of the growing involvement of Afghan (and Iraqi) army units in operations because it defies their multi-cult worldview which respects the inherent dignity of people from places like Afghanistan and Iraq. No, wait, that's a contradiction. Let's try again: the anti-war folk (and much of the MSM) are generally dismissive of the growing involvement of Afghan (and Iraqi) army units in operations because it undercuts their premise that the Afghans and Iraqis liked living under the monstrous Taliban and Saddam regime.
For hours, the work went smoothly. Mid-afternoon, the Canadians and the Afghans broke from the mid-40s C heat under a shady tree. After days of fighting in the area, the place seemed deserted.

But about 3:20, as the Canadians were working through a narrow choke point of road near the vineyards, the Taliban sprung an ambush.

"There was a lot of rounds, a lot of (rocket-propelled grenades)," said Pte. Paul Carey - at least 15 of them. Carey watched one of the rockets bounce across a road like a stone over a pond, hopping over a soldier who had dived into a ditch.

The Canadians returned fire with rifles and their own grenade launchers.

Usually, such attacks last for 15 minutes or so then fade before the Canadians can call in air or artillery support. But this time, using the vineyard as a network of trenches and a nearby building for cover, the Taliban kept up fire for an hour.

One Taliban round rammed through a mud wall and the armour of a G-Wagon, setting its interior alight and badly wounding the platoon's interpreter.

The Canadians often escape an ambush by going around it. Suspecting that's what the Taliban anticipated, they changed tactics.

I'm just pausing here because it's hard to write with a big grin on one's face.
"We decided to power through the attack," said Master Cpl. Chris Alden.

Under cover of the big Canadian howitzers, landing punches from kilometres away as the soldiers cheered, the platoon gradually worked out of the trap the Taliban had tried to close on them.

But as they edged forward, they discovered their enemy had one more surprise in store. The road out was now blocked by an IED - or improvised explosive device, the sort of roadside bomb the Taliban regularly use on Canadian convoys.

"They had stuff set up for us," said Alden.

This time, the soldiers zigged, blowing a hole through a wall to open an egress.

Ka-boom! I love this stuff. It's almost Patton-esque. And, not to dwell, it's a testimony to the Canadian soldier that, despite years of neglect, they can still kick ass -- not because of what they carry in arms or equipment but because of what's inside them: guts and determination.
Meanwhile, air support arrived. A U.S. B1 bomber unloaded a 900-kilogram bomb, flattening a Taliban position with a concussion that could be felt inside LAVs two kilometres away. A U.S. air strike earlier this week in fighting elsewhere, in Azizi, killed at least 16 civilians along with dozens of Taliban fighters. Canadians were not involved in that battle.
Let it go. There are political reasons why Canadian non-involvement in that action needs to be emphasized. But, and this is directed to the American MSM, there seem to also be political reasons why the Geneva Convention is often mentioned when they report on the controversy over the Guantanamo holding facility but they don't condemn the Taliban for using human shields -- a definite violation of that same convention.
The platoon finally arrived back inside the defensive perimeter late that night, their interpreter the only casualty. During the skirmish, they had fired at least 7,000 rounds.

The work resumed the next morning at first light, with another platoon of soldiers filing into Banzya. A smattering of gunfire shortly after 10 a.m. was answered almost immediately with about 20 artillery rounds.

As I prefaced, one rarely read this kind of field reporting up here and I look forward to reading more by Mr. Weber.

One more nod to the Afghan soldiers:

Banzya is only one of a dozen tiny communities in Panjwai and operations in the area are ongoing. Each one will be different, and each will be the same.

"With the Afghan National Army taking the lead," said [Capt. Dave] Johnston [of Second Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry], "Canadians are going into compounds and making sure there are no bad guys around."

I ran a google on Bob Weber; a photo is credited to him in a Washington Post story about the battle last week in Musa Qala, a canada.com report about the death of Capt. Nicola Goddard, and there's an item by him cited in The Agonist about the Nov. 2004 Alberta elections. It seems he's a photojournalist who works for CP and AP.

I don't often note by-lines, but I'm going to be looking for his.

The season finale of Battlestar Galactica is about to begin (we're only concluding Season 2 up here) and I am so hyped. And the view on my monitor still looks brilliant.

May 28 20:35 - I wonder if information gathered from those detained is in any way connected to the successful U.S. air attack on an insurgent training facility near the Pakistan-Afghan border.

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May 18, 2006

Howard in Canada

May 18 - Australian prime minister John Howard addressed a packed Commons and spoke directly but eloquently about the dangers we face in this war on terror:

"Terrorism will not be defeated by nuancing our foreign policy," he said.

"Terrorism will not be defeated by rolling ourselves into a small ball and going into a corner and imagining that somehow or other we will escape notice."

America's '100% ally' also directed some blunt words to anti-Americans:
"Australia, as you know, is an unapologetic friend and ally of the United States," Howard told a Commons chamber that has heard frequent criticism of Washington in recent years.

"The United States has been a remarkable power for good in the world. And the decency and hope that the power and purpose that the United States represent in the world is something we should deeply appreciate," he told a packed Commons to sustained applause.


"For those around the world who would want to see a reduced American role in the affairs of our globe, I have some quiet advice. That is, be careful of what you wish for. Because a retreating America will leave a more vulnerable world."

I've previously expressed my gratitude (and relief) that Australia steadily and forthrightly provides leadership in the war on terror for southeast Asia - the western flank in this conflict - and I'll gladly say it again: thank you, Australia. Your deeds are noticed and appreciated. Also, it won't hurt for us to remember that when the tsunamai devastated that region in 2004 that Australia was the first on the scene providing rescue and relief operations.

Australia is a member of the Commonwealth and one would think that country would get more recognition here. Australia saw to the evacuation of and medical treatment for Canadian citizens after the 2002 bombing in Bali but that received scant attention here much less any outpouring of grief from Candian citizens for the deaths of Australian citizens.

There's no way around it: the rugged capability of the Australian military and navy do not reflect well on the Canada of recent years. If, as the news report snidley suggests, Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper considers John Howard to be a role model then that is not a bad thing at all.

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Afghan mission extended

May 18 - Parliament voted yesterday to extend the mission in Afghanistan for two years. It was a very close vote at 149-145 with the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP voting against the motion but, although the Liberals were split, enough voted for the extention to carry the motion.

17:22 - Andrew Coyne titles his post on this succinctly: We're staying and looks at the divisions within the Liberal Party over a mission they initiated when they ran the government.

I was too tired this morning to do more than note this extremely important committment, but it should go without saying that it is indeed welcome news. The media here (as indeed it does everywhere) takes note of the firefights and deaths but the gains don't make the headlines: building schools (and a school system that educates girls as well as boys,) medical clinics and supplying much needed equipment and medicine.

Coalition forces are also helping to train Afghan police and army units. This too doesn't make the news nor does its significance: that we are helping to build the very institutions that will eventually lead to our withdrawal.

Did I mention that girls are now allowed to attend schools? Or that women are allowed to vote? I just don't understand how any woman who calls herself a feminist could not rejoice at this news.

Another gain has been downplayed: The Torch has a post noting, among other things, the emergence of a healthy press in Afghanistan.

The Taliban and al Qaeda are caught between coalition forces, the Afghan army, and Pakistan, a country that is somewhat reluctant to engage an enemy that threatens its government (as well as the tenuous peace between it and India) but cannot help but note the extension of the Canadian mission and all it conveys.

This period in history has increasingly become one in which actions speak louder than words, and the vote in Parliament confirms that Canada is indeed committed to advancing the march of freedom. Well done.

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May 17, 2006

Female soldier killed in Afghanistan (updated)

Cdn female soldier killed.jpg
(Photo from CTV web site)

May 17 - Bumped and Updated 16:43: CTV has updated the information on the link noted below and the fallen soldier has been identified as Capt. Nichola Goddard, of 1st Royal Canadian Horse Artillery based in Shiloh, Man.

Goddard was serving with Task Force Afghanistan as part of the 1st Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (1 PPCLI) Battle Group. Her age and hometown were not immediately available.

A military spokesman said the captain was killed in action at 6:55 p.m. local time (10:25 a.m. ET) about 24 kilometres west of Kandahar city in the Panjwai region.

Members of the Canadian Forces were backing up combined operations of the Afghan National Army and police, who were involved in a firefight against a group of Taliban fighters.

It's worth noting that the mission was a success.

I wish to extend condolences to her family for their loss as well as the gratitude of us all.

Remember those who serve.

15:27 - Very few details have been made public yet, but it has been confirmed that a female Cdn. Forces soldier has died in Afghanistan. PM Harper confirmed it was a combat death during Question Period today.

This too is something about which it is difficult for me to comment. Americans have had to try and steel ourselves to a rising death toll that does include female military personnel -- nevertheless it always hurts a bit more when it's a woman.

But far worse would be to deny those women the recognition and honour due them because they chose to accept, along with equal rights, equal responsibility for the protection and defense of their country.

Anyway, that's how I see it.

(Via Neale News.)

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Scrap the gun registry (updated)

May 17 - The Auditor-General's report hopefully dealt the gun registry its final blow when she informed Canadians that not only had the cost of the program far exceeded the initial projections but that the true costs of the registry were concealed by the previous Liberal governments. The figures given for a computer system are hard to believe:

Her audit found the price tag for a computerized information system ballooned from an initial $32 million to more than $90 million -- and it still isn't in operation.
Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said today that Canadians will no longer be required to register long guns and shotguns and those who failed to register them will not be penalized. (See below for correction)

The desire to be seen as "doing something" has led governments to do initiate all sorts programs that too often don't even address the problem which they are meant to solve. Rex Murphy speaks to that urge and how it produces zero results, twinning the gun registry and Kyoto and labeling them to be little more than Yoking wishfulness to vast expenditure He gets in some splendid shots; regarding the gun registry, for example, he says

In the early days of this program, it was all so simple. We had then Justice Minister Allan Rock standing to tell the country, "All that we're asking of firearms owners is to fill out two cards and mail them in."

A few postcards and a postage stamp. And we get a billion dollars?

Who was the mailman? Wile E. Coyote?

Murphy link via Newsbeat1, who has has a post in which the editor of the site pointedly takes us on a little trip down memory lane and compares Adscam and issues raised by the Gomery Commission to the unresolved questions about the gun registry ("Some politicians should be walking around with a bag over their head." Heh.)

19:10 - Rats. I need to correct what I said above about the requirement to register long guns and shotguns: the announcement on the Canadian government website:

The Government is moving ahead today with the implementation of the following measures:

* transferring responsibility for the Firearms Act and regulations to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), taking over from the former Canada Firearms Centre;

* reducing the annual operating budget for the program by $10 million;

* implementing licence renewal fee waivers and refunds;

* eliminating physical verification of non-restricted firearms; and

* introducing a one-year amnesty to protect previously-licensed owners of non-restricted firearms from prosecution and to encourage them to comply with the law as it currently stands.

As well, the government will table legislation to repeal the requirement to register non-restricted firearms.

Any legislative and regulatory changes will continue to require the safe storage of firearms, safety training, a licensing program including police background checks, a handgun registry (as has been the case since 1934) and a ban on those classes of firearms currently identified as prohibited.

(Via Newsbeat1.)

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May 14, 2006

Andrew Coyne

May 14 - Andrew has posted several links to columns from April 8 - May 14. There's lots to read there so I'm gonna start reading.

Looks at though comments are re-enabled too.

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May 13, 2006

Darfur and Ottawa

May 13 - Another great read I came across at Newsbeat1: Stephen Taylor has a fascinating look at "Google Trends" and has an interesting tidbit for those of us for whom Darfur was of deep concern long before it became a popular issue:

On first glance, it appears that the Sudanese region of Darfur is within the mindset of a greater number of Canadians than Afghanistan. [Stephen has a really cool chart here.]

However, on closer inspection, it appears that Darfur is really only being researched in Ottawa rather than by the rest of the country. Certainly others in Canada are interested in Darfur, however, in reference to Canadians that search for information on Afghanistan; those that search for Darfur are in Ottawa.

I'm a normal person so I just naturally seize upon something that piques my interest! Evidently, Darfur, which wasn't very important when the Liberals were in power, is suddenly a Subject of Great Interest in this nation's capital. True, the Liberals did approach the Sudan government about sending a modest force to stave off a confidence motion in the Canadian Parliament but the Sudanese said No without the thanks and it all kind of fizzled. But now, after years of killing off the Canadian Forces by monetary starvation, the Liberals and the NDP are calling upon the current government to send troops to Darfur.

It's kind of funny in a sick, twisted way: they are inadvertantly heeding Usama bin Laden's call for the muhajadeen to go to Sudan but in order to do that they have to abandon their committment to stabilize Afghanistan, a country that once sheltered bin Laden and advanced his aspiration to restore the caliphate until al Qaeda dared attacked the USA on our own home soil and he fled because we smote them. Now they want to send troops to Sudan, another country that once sheltered bin Laden and advanced his aspiration to restore the caliphate until al Qaeda dared attack the USA on home soil (also known as embassies) and we smote them so they ejected bin Laden and he went to Afghanistan.

I need to find those who declared that irony was dead and beat the crap out of 'em.

I wrote the above before I noted a link to a column (again from Newsbeat1) by Jim Travers in today's Toronto Star that stops just short by a millimeter of urging that the Canadian military leave Afghanistan and go to Darfur but reminds us that Canada is only in Afghanistan as a concession to the USA - evidently the vicious reign of the Taliban didn't offend Canadian values - and even though he acknowledges that the state of the military is one Harper inherited, not created, he fails to be consistent and give proper consideration to the fact that the committment to Afghanistan in general and the Kandahar mission in particular were also inherited and should be honoured.

The best part lies in his desperate need to find some way to conclude the column. I do sympathize; its often easier to begin a piece than to end it, but I mean really, was this the best he could come up with?

Still, the continuum between past, present and future is serendipitous. In the first decade of a new century, peacekeeping is subordinate to peacemaking, failing states compete with newsreel victims for scarce resources and even the most dubious policies are justified by the search for the holy grail of security.

In trying to balance those forces, Harper is gambling that Afghanistan won't come to haunt his government and that Darfur won't redefine this nation as one that no longer cares.

"The holy grail of security." Isn't he clever? He's oviously channeling the Da Vinci Code, but I wonder if he's familiar with another Holy Grail tradition and, no, I'm not referring to Monty Python but to something slightly more appropriate to military matters: Wagner's Parsifal and the Holy Spear which some scholars believe to be the relic which is referred to as the Holy Grail (and which, interestingly, may actually have belonged to Charlemagne rather than a Roman soldier, and the former attribution has a definitive context which I find quite appealing.)

Serendipity is a great word. It's all about accidental but pleasant discoveries and has nothing to do with inattention to historical events. The "continuum" - a great, Star Trek: the Next Generation word - is far from serendipitous when rooted in blood and death, or maybe Travers forgot the famine in Ethiopia which was neither the first or the last of "newsreel victims for scarce resources" and for whom the world - well, actually, those with European traditions - rallied to save. It appears he also missed that little incident in 1993 when some say peacekeeping without peacemaking died along with 18 U.S. Marines although others say it died in 1983 and no matter how you look at it, all the noted events, according to my calandar, were in the last century. (This century, as most of us realize, also opened with a bang and it too was unpleasant.)

As do all good liberals, as Ann Coulter has said, he only wants the military to engage in wars which it cannot win. I'm not sure it's intentionally defeatist, but there it is. There will be no adjacent land base from which to deploy or supply troops so any intervention there will need air power, and, for those who have a memory, being denied a northern base from from which to launch an assault hurt us when we invaded Iraq so imagine the difficulty of having no land base.

Don't look at us. I think we may be busier than many realize, and I've got my wonders about the real circumstances behind recent events in Somalia (mums the word) and besides, I think our guys should be allowed to finish their jobs in Iraq and Afghanistan and, you know, go home to their families and loved ones and that's not even taking into account possible action in Iran. Certainly an intervention in Darfur is in keeping with everyone's values but the U.N., which until quite recently was pronounced to be the only legitimate authority under "international law" to wage war, seems disinclined to sanction military force to end the not-genocide so I fear that Darfur will be like the weather: everyone will talk about it, but no one will do anything about it.

And who's fault will that be? I know, it will be all our fault. Everything is our fault. Certainly we can't blame Canada and other value-laden countries who were busily dismantling their militaries to meet the entitlement demands of their populations and felt secure in doing so because ... well, because the U.S. had always been willing to pick up the slack. Until Sept 11, 2001, when we were attacked and we learned where we really stood in the world.

John Robson makes this point and others in Plenty of mercy, but no muscle for Darfur (via Daimnation!) and he makes the one vital point about a reality that is neither unexpected nor pleasant:

Liberals talked about the duty to protect. But they ignored the capacity. So now the pitch to those-awful-macho-Americans in sunglasses and body armour is, we didn’t join you in Iraq but you should join us in Sudan. Well not exactly join. More let’s you and him fight.

Ahem. Dear President Bush, remember all that joshing about how you lied and were a war criminal and the worst president in a century and an imbecile and stuff? Ha ha. Just kidding. Actually we share your idealism but um forgot to have an army, navy or air force so could you maybe just totally invade and occupy an oil-rich Muslim country for us a bit? If trouble erupts elsewhere, like Korea or Taiwan, and you’re overextended because you took on Darfur, well, you can count on us to rely on you. But we’ll cheer … until something goes wrong. Then we’ll denounce you as an insensitive imperialist and start muttering about Halliburton.

There are Americans who are desperate for world approval and then there are the rest of us, and if outsiders understood American politics they would see how far to the right John Kerry swung in '04 yet still lost and how much farther to the right Hillary is swinging now yet her poll numbers are poor. Maybe then they would begin to realize how angry we are and, if they think it through, they'd suddenly realize that we're taking Mom's advice and ignoring the people who bug us. That's why we can have our silliness with American Idol, attend NASCAR races, keep our guns clean and our ammo close by, and produce wonderful moves like Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and do all the stuff that so offend the elites because the only thing that really matters is how we feel about ourselves, and we kind of like us.

So the situation in Darfur is undeniably desperate - albeit only one in a frighteningly long list (be sure and look at the entries for May 5) but we're kind of busy right what with Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, North Korea and probable players to be named later.

But it's not hopeless: the world could still face this challenge without U.S. leadership.

I propose that France assume leadership in a Coalition of the Used-To-Be-Unwilling. They possess aircraft carriers and might even be able to use their presence in Congo and Ivory Coast from which to launch a land assault and besides, it will demonstrate French superiority. The Spanish could redeem their honour by participating and Belguim too could demonstrate that their horror for crimes against humanity is not just rhetoric.

I devoutly hope, however, that Canada doesn't trade its valued presence in Afghanistan for an adventure in Sudan for many reasons not the least of which is because, like it or not, any intervention there will be one without an exit plan

I would be heartened should there be a genuine humanitarian intervention in Darfur. It's lonely being the only guys on the block willing to take on the bullies. But I have my doubts, though, because doing such would also require taking on the Russians and Chinese and I'm not sure the French in particular are willing to abandon their playing-off-the-USA-against-Russia-and-China strategy.

But shh! don't tell anyone that Sudan has oil. I'm sick of those posters.

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Great reads

May 13 - I meant to go to sleep but I foolishly visited Newsbeat1 and I've spent the better part of the night (morning? whatever) reading some great stuff.

Top of the list is Michael Yon currently writing from Afghanistan. I need to put a post-it on my monitor to remind myself to complain about the "mainstream media" rather than the shortened "media" because assuredly Michael Yon is a member of that profession -- or maybe he is what they wish they were: someone that writes from heart and mind rather than studied artifice.

Just as he does always, this latest post, The Long Road Ahead, has filled me with a sense of joy, sorrow, laughter, fierce pride and all-round general choked-up-ness.

After reading it I realized I need to return to Right Wing News to re-read John's Favourite Hindu Story.

The thematic connection between the two is not restricted to dogs, though, but to the kind of steadfastness and loyalty we so often see in honourable warriors.

Now here's a thought: we should encourage the Lefties to send a peace delegation to a Hindu village in Afghanistan to explain to them why removing the Taliban was wrong.

If you followed the last link, by the way, you'll note a name that recently popped up yet again: Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. I swear this guy is like an Afghan Keyser Soze.

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May 12, 2006

Cindy Sheehan on Canada

May 12 - Michael Moore came up here and Al Gore came up here so I guess it was inevitable that Cindy Sheehan make the trip. Oh. Joy.

There is (surprise) one point with which I commiserate with Cindy. I too have adult sons who sometimes make questionable decisions or have opinions with which I might disagree. It's a part of growing up (I mean us parents growing up.) That doesn't mean that I'm giving her a pass for being such a jackass, only that I do understand why she feels so guilty (indeed, what parent doesn't feel guilt when one's child dies?) I suspect that she hasn't found a way to mourn for the man her son became but only for the son that she lost.

Anyway Cindy came, encouraged Canada to accept the hundreds of U.S. military deserters (?) she claimed want refuge here and is enlightening Americans on Canada in Cindy Sheehan Reports from Canada:

Canadians are distressed that defense spending rose by 5.3 billions of dollars (roughly what the US spends for 2 weeks in Iraq) while the preschool budget is being cut and college tuition is rising. This increase in military spending coincidentally correlates with a push to recruit thousands of more soldiers who are still be told by the Canadian recruiters that their country only does peace keeping missions. This manipulation of facts and the exploitation of fear and false patriotism is being fueled by the Canadian media who seem to be turning, for the most part, into propaganda tools of their government a la our rightwing 4th estate. (Bolding added)
Cindy didn't check her facts. She may have just accepted what she was told uncritically -- yet she flings accusations about others lying and being manipulative! For one thing, the promise to rebuild the military was a key election promise. The recruitment centers are busy up here because young Canadian men and women read the papers and listen to the news (unlike Cindy) and they know full well that there is a firefight in Afghanistan and they want to do their part to defend this country now that they have a government that will support them and rebuild the military thus restoring an institution that was once a source of tremendous Canadian pride.

The accusation in the bolded part of her report is just as funny up here as it is down there and for much the same reason - in fact, it might even be funnier as there's no Canadian equivalent to FoxNews or even CNN.

The recent polls in Canada show that the people there are starting to wake up by the truckloads with support for their administration's support of BushCo's war slipping 14 percentage points in two months! Canadians are seeing that the war in Afghanistan is not righteous and that when Canada sends troops there, it frees American troops to be illegally and immorally deployed to Iraq. Canada needs a Cindy Sheehan to go to the PM's residence and demand to know what noble cause her child died for, or is still fighting for.
See how she did that? Once again it became All. About. Her.

Neale News mischieviously links to her report with the caption "Cindy Sheehan: "Harper is Wildly Unpopular"" next to these three:
Tories Riding a Wave of Support, Polls Show,
Canadian military asks photographer to suppress photos of Taliban raid, capture, and
Majority support Afghan mission: Poll which indicates that Cindy has poor math skills:

The Ekos survey -- provided to Reuters -- shows 62 percent of Canadians support the mission in Afghanistan, down from 70 percent in early February. The number opposed grew to 37 percent from 28 percent.
The article doesn't break down the numbers by region or province, which is Canadian for "support would be higher if you factor out the numbers from Quebec."

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Canadian troops capture 10 Taliban

May 12 - Canadian troops capture Taliban suspects without firing a shot and turned them over to Afghan police. Much of the article content, though, focuses on whether photos taken by an embed from Agence France-Presse may have violated Geneva Convention articles on the rights of prisoners.

The Toronto Sun article also focuses on the photo issue, but provides much more information about the suspects and what they were carrying:

Ten prisoners were taken in the raid, including three known to authorities. [Maj. Marc] Theriault said the men were found with large sums of money and bomb-making materials.
That information is conspiciously absent from the Yahoo account as well as the the CBC story. which is exactly the same as the one at Yahoo but does include a link to a photo gallery (requires Macromedia Flash Player.)

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May 10, 2006

Ardent Sentry

May 10 - 'Ardent Sentry' Testing U.S., Canadian Crisis Response:

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2006 – More than 5,000 U.S. and Canadian servicemembers are working with authorities in five U.S. states and two Canadian provinces [Ontario and New Brunswick] to test their response capabilities to crises ranging from a major hurricane to a terrorist attack to a pandemic flu outbreak.

Ardent Sentry 2006, a two-week U.S. Northern Command exercise, kicked off May 8 to test military support to federal, provincial, state and local authorities while continuing to support the Defense Department's homeland defense mission, according to Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Butterbaugh, a NORTHCOM and North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesman. The Canadian part of the exercise began May 1 and continues through May 12.


While testing the military's interagency coordination, the exercise also focuses on its ability to operate with the Canadian government and the newly established Canada Command, NORTHCOM's Canadian counterpart, Kucharek said.

"This is the first major exercise which will allow Canada Command to train with federal and provincial departments and agencies," said Gordon O'Connor, Canada's national defense minister. "Exercises such as Ardent Sentry 2006 help ensure we respond to domestic threats and natural disasters in a coordinated manner." It also will promote "cross-border information sharing" between Canada Command and NORTHCOM, he said.

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May 09, 2006

That unelected Sentate

May 9 - Can you imagine this coming from a body whose membership has to face an electorate? Canada's Senate committee recommends nickel-a-drink tax hike for mentally ill.

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Leadership: Canadian Style

May 9 - The Conservatives continue to impress me with their handling of the big stuff. Recent polls have indicated support for the Afghan mission is slipping, so Peter MacKay, the foreign affairs minister. pays surprise visit to Canadian troops in Kandahar and pledges that Canada will "finish the job."

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May 01, 2006

"just another way to get to work"

May 1 - Interesting information about a new paratrooper unit formed up here (you have to read that post to get the title -- it's a doozy of a quote!)

I've always felt awkward about commenting overly on Canadian military issues. After all, I could hardly be called neutral much less even-handed but I do feel it's important for Americans to recognize that, despite the sniping and barbs hurled at us by the previous government, Canada was contributing a great deal in Afghanistan and the Persian gulf and it was certainly no reflection on those who serve in the Canadian Forces that the government and news media largely ignored them (unless there was a death, at which time they all hyped it up to a suspicious degree -- and I'm not alone in my cynicism.)

So I guess there are two points to this post: that there is a determined if clumsy effort by the minority Conservative government to get across the fact that the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan is a war, and that you will want to read The Torch on a regular basis to learn just how engaged Canadians are in Afghanistan. (True, its not yet on my blog roll but I've only just managed to restore my permalinks and haven't the faintest idea yet how I fixed 'em much less lost 'em so venturing into a template might be a Bad Idea.)

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April 21, 2006

Happy 80th to the Queen

Apr. 21 - Cheering crowds greet Queen on birthday walkabout but the real tribute is from Beaverbrook.

Off to work.

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Better get those passports

Apr 21 - Fox reports some interesting news - FBI: Two U.S. Citizens Met With Islamic Extremists in Canada to Plan Terror Strikes - with one glaring omission: Canada is a big country and the "where" might be of interest to folks up here and, I suspect, to folks down there.

Get with it, FoxNews.

(The alleged meeting was in Toronto.)

[Just to clarify that post title, it is in reference to people up here who oppose the new regulations requiring people from Canada to present passports when they try to enter the U.S.A. There seems to be some weird attitude by Canadians that they have a God-given right to enter the US at will, which is kind of funny coming as it does from a country in which the English population doubled by the many Loyalists who left the USA after the Revolutionary War.]

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April 05, 2006

Kindly define "friend"

Apr. 5 - The Globe and Mail headline shouts Brief Throne Speech hails U.S. as 'best friend' - death quotes theirs, as though that statement is a bad thing - which is why it continues to bewilder me that so many in the MSM express opposition to new regulations which require Canadians crossing the border to carry passports. Are we to suppose that the Globe and Mail thinks Canadians should have the kinds of consideration merited by long-standing ties of friendship between the two countries without the friendship part? (Actually, yes, but don't ask me to explain it.)

It seems below much of the media's radar up here that some decidedly unfriendly words and actions by columnists, activists and even members of the previous government have led many Americans to not count Canada as a friend and, too well aware that Canada was a member in good standing of the Axis of Weasels, regard this country as little better than France and deserving of the same disdain and treatment.

The formation of the Congressional Friends of Canada was widely hailed up here but should have been a huge warning flag. It was reactive, not pro-active: a reparative act in response to a woeful admission that relations between the two countries have deteriorated to the point that such an organization is needed, for why bother if there was no need to counteract the altered perception of Canadians by Americans?

Things have changed since Sept. 11. Before that day we tended to brush aside the slings and arrows thinking that we were "big enough to take it" but once we were attacked we took careful note of who were friends and who were foes and Canada came up sadly short. Blame Chretien, Parrish and Martin or applaud them, just don't overestimate our willingness to overlook or forgive because it's no longer about hurt feelings but about our very survival.

Also, for all the anti-Bush sentiment and professed preference for Democrats up here, please don't fail to note which party is increasingly becoming the party of protectionism and isolationism. Those who don't believe such sentiments will hurt trade are sadly mistaken.

The funny part is that the Globe and Mail is supposed to be business-oriented, yet the attitudes and policies they promulgate would have a devastating effect on the Canadian economy. Go figure.

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A New Leaf - Speech from the Throne

Apr. 5 - The Speech from the Throne was delivered to Parliament yesterday and the 2006 session opens today under something of a cloud due to the pay increase that puts MPs in the top 2% of income earners.

The themes of the speech echo much of the philosophy and promises made during the election campaign but, as always, the test will be in the ability of the minority government to get legislation passed by the House. Nevertheless, the opposition would be foolish to block the passage of a bill to strengthen accountabiliy and protect whistle-blowers (although they may try to water it down.)

The issue of child care will continue to be a major bone of contention. Those who claim that lack of child care forces many women to stay at home overlook an uglier reality: high taxes and prices force many women to work outside the home even when they'd much prefer to raise their children themselves. The Throne speech affirmed that parents should be able to choose the form of child care that works best for them.

The extent to which the federal government plans to return power to provinces in unclear. The speech spoke of facilitating "provincial participation in the development of Canadian positions that affect areas of provincial responsibility" which is not the same thing as returning power formerly held by the provinces.

We'll see how it goes.

Lorrie Goldstein looks at the double-standard and hypocrisy by Liberals criticizing yesterday's speech.

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April 03, 2006

PM speaks on crime

Apr. 3 - Good news and good news: Police cheer PM's tough talk on crime and I cheer his resolve to abolish the long gun registry ... but leave it to the Star to search out and quote someone who supports keeping the gun registry. Is there a policeman in Canada who assumes that someone doesn't possess a gun just because they aren't a registered owner? The illegal, unregistered hand-guns used in the incessant gang warfare here in Toronto answers that question pretty decisively.

PM Harper's speech today on crime is here and the speech of Vic Toews, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, before the Canadian Professional Police Association is here (via Newsbeat1.)

Parliament opened today. It will be interesting to see how much this minority government will be allowed to accomplish inasmuch as the leadersless Liberals are not likely to want an election any time in the near future.

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"It's time to do something about the CBC"

Apr. 3 - Richard has written a persuasive, low-key open letter to PM Harper about continued federal funding for the CBC over at Cannuckistan Chronicles.

It's a nicely restrained letter with lethal pin-point accuracy. After citing some examples from Tony Burman, Editor in Chief of CBC News, of his self-aware political bias the letter concludes:

Freedom is an interesting word Mr. Harper. As Canadians we have the freedom to provide funding and support to any number of activist groups should we choose to do so. We have the freedom to make that choice. Except when it comes to the "activist" CBC, as it's funded by our tax dollars.

As such Mr. Harper, I respectfully request that you level the playing field. ..

Well done.

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Oh, that liberal media

Apr. 3 - M.K. Braaten proves that pictures are better than words and in doing so utterly discredits the Wardrobe Controversy the media has tried to create over PM Harper's choice of apparel during the Cancun summit.

(Note to Americans: the first photo is of former PM Paul Martin and the second is of current PM Stephen Harper. If you thought much of the American media gave Clinton a free pass ...)

(Via Newsbeat1)

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April 01, 2006

Abderraouf Jdey (and Harper's wardrobe)

Apr. 1 - Some Canadian exposure of revelations about Abderraouf Jdey that emerged from the Moussaoui trial: Al-Qaeda plotters sought Canadian as pilot, court told because al Qaeda believed that those who held Western passports would more easily pass through security checks. One correction though: the Sept. 11 commission was in fact told specifically that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed claimed that Jdey and Moussaoui were both to have hijacked planes out of Indonesia to attack the U.S. west coast (more on that here and google search results here.

Note to Globe and Mail: Kindly check your ... Oh forget it. I realize your people have far more important things to do, like complain about Harper's wardrobe.

18:07 This goes beyond the ridiculous: today's CTV poll question (on their main page) is if I think it matters what Stephen Harper wears when he attends high profile meetings with foreign leaders. What are they trying to do, turn him into a metrosexual?

It's nice to note that there are so few issues of substance these days that the Canadian news media can address this sort of urgent issue. And they wonder why Canadians watch US news channels.

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Rally to defend freedom of the press!

Apr. 1 - It appears that there is more than one way to supress press freedoms, and I'm finding it hard to restrain the contempt I feel as I report that a Canadian human rights commission in Alberta is complicit in an attempt to do just that.

The Western Standard magazine published those Danish cartoons last February. Attempts to get the police to stop publication were denied but now a complaint has been filed - and accepted - by the Alberta Human Rights Commission that claims that reglious rights were violated by the publication of the cartoons and charges Ezra Levant with hate mongering.

Few things anger me more than the frivolous manipulation of those agencies which are intended to protect citizens' rights, and when the agencies themselves are complicit in the frivolity they destroy their own credibility. But it's not just stupidity propelling this but action by the usual, politcally correct suspects to limit freedom of expression.

But herein lies the rub. Although there is little if any chance that the Western Standard will be found guilty they will have to pay for their legal defense (whereas of course the complaintant's bills will be covered by the taxpayer) and, being a small newspaper, it is going to hurt because those costs are not reimbursible.

So I'm asking you to help not only this Canadian magazine but also yourselves, because unless suits of this nature are immediately met with outrage and direct, tangible support to fight them they flourish, and that's bad news for all of us.


There is more information on the suit here and a link to a .pdf file of the complaint. I doubt I need to remind anyone reading this that defending press freedoms is part and parcel of the war on terror or how imperative it is that we rise up as one when our freedoms are attacked.

So I'm asking you, no, begging you to click on the image above or go here to donate to this fight. (In truth, American readers, if only because a small Canadian newspaper shamed a lot of big American ones, I'd say that donating to this cause is even more incumbent upon Americans!)

Canadian and American soldiers are protecting our freedoms overseas and we owe it to them to do our part to protect those freedoms when they're attacked here. It really is that simple.

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The Maple Leaf Forever!

March 31 - Prime Minister Stephen Harper's visit to Afghanistan could not have been timed better coming as it did right before the annual spring Taliban offensive. In contrast, the calls by the Opposition parties to debate the Afghan mission in Parliament could not have been timed worse. It effectively gave the Taliban reason to hope that Canadians would cut and run once blood had been drawn and why the assault on the base was stronger than expected; they well understand the nature and tactics of opposition parties which hope to bring down a minority government by any and all means. It was essential that Harper renew Canada's committment then and there, with his boots on the ground, and assure the troops (and Afghans) that the Canadian government and people supported them.

Not bad for a rookie prime minister, eh? And the response here has been overwhelmingly positive and makes one wonder what the heck is going on with Canadian sensibilities. Media pundits, meanwhile, gripe that Harper, who never received any respect from them, doesn't respect them. There have been major firefights in Afghanistan and the media is focused on themselves. Right.

Harper's visit and brief speech also marked a welcome shift in policy as he asserted his confidence in Canada - not as a heckler but as an active player on the world stage by recognizing that you can't "lead from the bleachers." Andrew Coyne's analysis on this is well worth reading and I won't go over the same ground but want to speculate about some possible implications on how that speech might affect the role of the Canadian military in foreign affairs and how it might affect Canadians as they perceive themselves.

Significantly, Harper asserted that the troops were in Afghanistan to "defend our national interests." Now I don't know how often the Liberals openly justified foreign policy on the basis of national interests but I'd hazard it would be somewhere between "not often" to "rarely if ever." Canadian participation in the NATO mission in Afghanistan, for example, was portrayed as one of altruistic peacekeeping -- as though Canada did not have a stake in the establishment of a democratic, peaceful Afghanistan. (Harper did elide over the fact that it is a NATO mission by referring to it as a U.N. mandated mission. The political reality is that Canada tends to regard the U.N. as a Canadian accomplishment so invoking the U.N. confers better legitimacy. Sigh.)

He also stated that Canada has a stake in the role on terror, and by affirming that Harper broke new ground - not so much because of what he said but because he was completely and utterly sincere. If Americans regarded former prime minsters Chretien and Martin as indistinguishable from France's Chirac maybe it's because that perception was accurate: the previous governments were perceived to be paying token lip service to the war on terror and justified Canadian participation by playing the trade card, as though Canadian security and national interests were not at stake and as though terror attacks on innocent civilians were not an affront to Canadian values. Yet, like France, Canadian security forces have been more active than is publicly recognized here. It's as though they are contributing but don't want anyone to know about it - something that is insulting to Canadian citizens who are entitled to know what their government is doing.

Harper also reminded the Canadian troops of the two dozen Canadians that died on Sept. 11, something the Liberal government had been quick to shrug aside just as they underplayed the deaths of Canadians who have lost their lives in other terror attacks. The previous government followed much of the world by pretending that the U.S. alone was the target -- as though the name World Trade Center was as devoid of symbolism as was the death roll of citizens from around the world.

Right about this time three years ago the booing of the U.S. national anthem at a Montreal Canadiennes game was noted by the American news media (although not so much the determined cheering of the anthem at a Blue Jays game in Toronto.) There were a lot of people up here who recognized that, despite one's attitude about the war in Iraq, the ties of friendship and shared values were worth defending, and it was in that spirit that the Friends of America organized rallies across Canada in early April of 2003.

The Toronto rally was on a Friday afternoon and, despite the freezing rain, some 2,000 people attended. One of the most spirited speakers at that rally was Stephen Harper, then leader of the Alliance Party, who ended his speech with the cries "God Bless America" and, very significantly, "The Maple Leaf Forever!"

The response was electrifying. By invoking that cry he hearkened back to an earlier, pre-Trudeauian era when Canadians were internationally regarded as tough and gritty - bold men and women who strode down from the North with determination and got the job done. (The song Maple Leaf Forever is quickly recognizable because it was often background music in war films where Canadian troops were featured, and was the unofficial song of Canada before Oh Canada was institutionalized.)

The capabilities of the Canadian military have been so diminished that that when Canadian soldiers first arrived in Afghanistan they were wearing forest green uniforms. It is to their credit that they scrounged for paint in order to create desert-camo fatigues and blankets but they shouldn't have had to go to such lengths, nor should Canadian troops have had to hitch a ride for the deployment. Sea Kings should not fall out of the air nor should a sailor die on a second-hand submarine and it is hard to swallow the pious sentiments expressed at cenotaphs on Remembrance Day when it is government indifference that most puts military lives at risk.

Polls indicate that Stephen Harper's approval ratings shot up after his trip to Afghanistan and it has been reported that enlistment numbers for the Canadian military are steadily increasing. Is it possible that a long-stifled urge is at work here, an urge for Canada to count as a player on the world stage and be recognized by her deeds rather than by the empty words of past governments? Is it possible that the energy checked by too much political correctness is about to spring free?

I still can't gauge how Canadians are reacting to the reality that her soldiers in Afghanistan are engaged in active warfare as well as reconstruction efforts but the lack of demonstrations argues that Canadians are fine with it. American forces in Afghanistan as well as Iraq have been doing both for a long time and I suspect that Canadians are sensible enough to recognize that there is no reason why, with proper support, Canadian troops can't do so as well, but there is also a deeper recognition that springs not so much from American sentiments but from Western sentiments: we are not only willing to die for our values but also willing to kill to defend those values.

There is a part in most of us that is dismayed when we ask our sons and daughters to kill. That is it should be in a moral society and is a key value that separates us from those who enthusiastically rejoice when their children commit murderous terror acts which kill inocent civilians. Yet the fact is that killing and detaining terrorists are the best if not only ways to protect civilians - including Muslims, Christians, Jews and Hindus - from terror attacks, and those who will not defend the innocent are selfishly immoral.

As I prefaced earlier I'm just speculating, but there's a reason why Don Cherry was voted to the Top Ten List of Canadians and why hockey thrives up here. If the Canadian youth are totally anti-war then why are they wearing desert camo clothing? There's something askew, and as neither Don, hockey nor military wear are for sissies, maybe there's something going on that neither the media nor the polls have addressed but which Stephen Harper has.

Confidence is a concept that has been eroded by fretting over self-esteem. It takes confidence "to do" but one needs neurosis to obsess over self-esteem, and a less neurotic and more confident Canada can be a strong and valuable participant on the world stage. I sincerely hope that Harper can tap the wellspring of Canadian confidence sufficiently to render ludicrous accusations that such is an American-style approach to life and the world because the detractors are dead wrong: confidence is not the sole province of Americans but is God's gift to the world as surely as is liberty, and there are no more confident people on the planet than free people.

To repeat Harper's exhortation of three years ago, The Maple Leaf Forever! Stride onto the world stage with the same gritty confidence that once marked Canada as a force to be reckoned with and show 'em what Canadians are made of and yes, do it for the children - including mine.

[It only took me three days to write, edit, and re-write this. Heh, maybe that's why I don't post as often as I used to. Oh well, Stephen den Beste and Bill Whittle I ain't.]

Posted by Debbye at 11:19 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 30, 2006

And yet another attack

Mar. 30 - A joint Romanian-Canadian convey was attacked this morning and a Canadian soldier wounded in suicide attack in Kandahar as were six Afghan civilians.

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Pte. Robert Costall, KIA

Mar. 30 - The opening sentence says it all:

[Pte. Robert Costall, 22, of Thunder Bay is] Canada's first soldier to die in combat in Afghanistan ...
One American soldier and eight Afghan soldiers were also killed. And some 32 of the enemy were killed.

Although there has been a Canadian presence in Afghanistan since 2002, the mission has been grossly underplayed by the government and the news media. It's been all "wave and smile" and tea-time, and there has been this general illusion that Canadian soldiers are peacekeepers who don't kill even when though they are killed. Sure, they return fire and try to find whoever is lobbing mortars at them, but they don't catch them so it's okay. That's the myth, anyway, and it is one that has been earnestly portrayed by far too many journalists who are also so naive as to reveal in which section of the camp the mortars landed. But it's all out in the open now: the Canadian Forces are truly an army, capable of taking and inflicting losses.

When we engage the enemy we take casualties. Every thinking person (who is not a member of the news media) knows that basic truth, and those of us who are honest want our soldiers to prevail. A soldier's death must be a meaningful one because he has made the ultimate sacrifice in our names.

March 29, 2006 – Coalition forces killed 32 insurgents and destroyed two Taliban headquarters buildings in Afghanistan's Helmand province today, officials at Bagram Air Base said. The early-morning engagement continued into daylight hours as coalition forces defeated a large enemy element that was attempting to retreat into sanctuaries.

Coalition forces also discovered large caches of munitions as they overran the Taliban compound and the enemy fled. Coalition forces destroyed the munitions, which included weapons and bomb-making materials, causing multiple secondary explosions and destroying the compound and all enemy military equipment inside.

There has been an escalation in attacks on Canadian soldiers and on the base since they moved to Khandahar. Although the previous government had warned that it would be more dangerous they really didn't make it clear that there would be fighting, i.e., that Canadians would fight back.

I don't know how the Canadian public will react to all this but I suspect most soldiers would, given the chance, prefer to die fighting than from being sucker punched by IEDs or homicide bombers. Soldiers are not victims but fighters, and their willingness to fight is what allows us to natter and nit-pick and whine and opine without worrying about who might be taking names or a knock on the door in the middle of the night. (Joe Warmington has a good column on this and contrasts the homecomings of Pvt. Costall and James Loney.)

I don't know how the Canadian public will react to the fact that Canadian soldiers fought valiantly and inflicted casualties but I suspect that many -- if not most -- will be heartened if not downright joyful.

I shudder to think of how the political opportunists and media will manipulate this in days to come but this day Canadians can feel proud and grateful that this country still produces men and women made of that stern stuff from which heroes spring.

There can be no finer tribute:

More than 2,500 troops -- Canadian, American, British, Australian, Dutch and Romanian -- lined the tarmac for the solemn ramp ceremony. Eight soldiers carried the casket to the aircraft. The lament of a lone piper drifted across the desert.
Rest in peace, Private Costall. Your country -- and ours -- salute you.

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February 28, 2006

Canadian takes command of forces in South Afghanistan

Feb. 28 - Brig. Gen. David Fraser, Canadian, takes over in southern Afghanistan, but it's a bit more complicated than that.

Read this post at The Torch for good, well-linked information on the structure and nature of the command.

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February 26, 2006

Canadians in Afghanistan

Feb. 26 - A Canadian soldier was slightly wounded after two grenades exploded near a Canadian patrol on the Kandahar road between two Canadian camps. The attack was made at approximately 10:30 p.m. and and, as too often happens, it was a hit-and-run attack and thus no chance to return fire (Canadian patrol under rocket-propelled grenade attack in Afghanistan):

The first round exploded on the road between vehicles. The second projectile struck a rear door.

"It was bang, bang," said Grimshaw. [Maj. Nick Grimshaw, the senior officer on the patrol.]

Capt. Jay Adair was standing through the hatch in the rear the lead LAV-3 and saw the RPG attack firsthand.

"I heard the bangs and I also saw the explosions," Adair said.

"I'm not sure whether I saw the explosions from the weapons being fired or the weapons striking the ground and the vehicle. But certainly a bright flash and two loud bangs."


The attack was on the main road from the city to Kandahar Airfield, the same road where Canadian diplomat Glyn Berry died in a bomb attack.

As the article notes, the soldiers were traveling in G-wagons, which replaced the unarmoured Iltis vehicles after Corporal Jamie Brendan Murphy was killed in January, 2004.

Properly funding and equipping the military is going to be a major challenge for the newly installed minority Conservative government. Canadian chief of the defence staff Gen. Rick Hillier lays it out:

"We remain short about three quarters of a billion dollars just to sustain the present Canadian Forces," he said.

"That's everything from married quarters to spare parts, to ammunition, the running of simulators, to gas and oil, to rations and to everything else necessary to march or fly or sail."

Beyond these day-to-day expenses, there's an enormous backlog of repairs and maintenance that has been deferred for years.

"The bow wave of things that we have not done, that we have put off . . . is enormous," he said. "It is going to take us billions of dollars to get out of that hole and I mean billions with a capital B."

Hillier also said that the military has too many buildings, hangars and other infrastructure on its bases that cost money but add nothing to the Forces.

"My estimate is that we have anywhere up to a quarter of our infrastructure that is not operationally required."

Hillier has welcomed the Conservative government's proposals for new planes, bases and 13,000 new troops.


Hillier seemed to be taken aback by a new poll published Friday which suggested almost two-thirds of Canadians oppose Canada's involvement in Afghanistan.


Hillier also said he wants to build a stronger connection between the Forces and the rest of the country after years in which the military and the civilian community have drifted apart.

"Having been disconnected from the population for many years in my view, disowned by Canadians in this past decade and seen their confidence in us plummet, we have an obligation to ensure that we as Canada's armed forces are seen by our population . . . as exactly that; as their armed forces."

Although I can't scientifically prove it, I do believe that the impact of American Milbloggers on communications between the American public and military has been immense. As this chart indicates, though, there is a decided lack of them in Canada.

Bloggers do have a way of filling a vacuum, though, and Damian Brooks and Chris Taylor are part of a new enterprise to fill that need: The Torch, a blog focused on the Canadian military and which already has an impressive series of posts including this one which takes on the notion that Canadians are a nation of "peacekeepers." Be sure to bookmark and visit The Torch.

(Yahoo link Neale News; CTV and Milblogs links via Newsbeat 1.)

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February 20, 2006

Cdn. Journalists say publish cartoons

Feb. 20 - A bit of vindication for Ezra Levant and the Western Standard: according to a recent Compass poll, about 6 in 10 Canadian journalists say Publish cartoons.

Interesting breakdown of options:

According to Monday's report, about 17 per cent of those polled felt all major Canadian media should have reprinted the images. Another 18 per cent said most media should have carried the cartoons and 25 per cent said at least some of Canada's biggest outlets should have used the caricatures.

By contrast, about 31 per cent of respondents said major media were correct in the decision not to use the material.

The great divide:
Of those who supported non-publication, most cited respect as the reason.

The bulk of those who said the cartoons should have been carried said fear was the primary motivator for not publishing.

Encouragingly, the poll also found that the journalists who participated understood the implications of not publishing the cartoons:
Still, the majority of Canadian journalists also said they had at least some concern that not publishing the cartoons increased the power of extremist groups at the expense of Shia Muslims who include portraits in their every day lives and pluralist Muslims who want the Islamic world to accept diversity of opinion.

Journalists were asked to score how strongly they agree with that argument on a scale of one to five, with five being the strongest point of agreement. A total of 62 per cent scored three or more on the scale.

(Via Neale News.)

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February 19, 2006

Canadians in Afghanistan (Updated)

Feb. 19 - It may be underfunded and underequipped, but the Canadian military in Afghanistan does this country proud and doesn't back down when it comes under fire from insurgents:

Military officials told The Canadian Press that attackers fired three rocket-propelled grenades at a platoon from Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry taking shelter in a compound in Gumbad, about 60 kilometres northeast of Kandahar.

No Canadians were reportedly injured in the attack, which occurred at about 7:30 p.m. local time. The rockets fell into fields surrounding the camp, just south of the small village.

Military officials said a patrol was sent out to investigate the enemy firing positions, but found no sign of insurgents.

It's the first minor skirmish reported since a new rotation of Canadian soldiers began arriving in the country for Task Force Afghanistan during the past month. The number of soldiers is expected to reach 2,200 by next month.

There will probably be accusations that this attack was a direct result of the decision to publish the Danish cartoons in the Western Standard (as though there had not been prior attacks on Canadian Forces!) Damian has a thoughtful essay (which predated this recent rocket attack) and questions whether we can keep our soldiers safe without becoming something less than we are now.

(N.B.: The headline reads the troops "exchanged fire" with insurgents although nothing in the story indicates there was actually an exchange of fire. I can't account for the discrepancy. Nevertheless, the fact that a patrol was sent out implies the willingness to shoot back.)

Update: The CTV account has been expanded and it appears there was indeed a firefight:

The soldiers returned fire using rifles and their new 155-millimetre M777 howitzer, a towed artillery piece. Military officials said a patrol was sent out to investigate the enemy firing positions, but found no sign of insurgents.
There's a somewhat detailed account of the procedure the patrol undertook in their effort to locate the enemy:
"There were no locals, there was no enemy traces found," Lt.-Col. Ian Hope, the head of the PPCLI battle group, told CP. "But that's quite normal too because normally they shoot and they run.''

The troops did, however, find a series of trenches and tunnels which were likely used as an escape route.

"According to our American counterparts, it is a well-known area that the Taliban have used for fortifications in the past," said Hope.

"They've conducted several ambushes there. They've actually killed some (Afghan National Army soldiers) from those positions, so it was no surprise ... that that was an area that they were firing from."

I've probably quoted more than I should have, but after calling them on what they left out I wanted to fully acknowledge the additions they've made to the original story.

(Via Neale News.)

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February 18, 2006

Raising the level of the debate

Feb. 18 - The University of Toronto's student newspaper, The Strand, has published a cartoon depicting Mohammed and Jesus kissing.

The cartoon, "Tunnel of Tolerance," and editorial, "To print or not to print," can be viewed here (registration may be required.)

Unsurprisingly it has caused a bit of an uproard , but the U of T student newspaper refuses to apologize for publishing the Muhammad and Jesus cartoon.

I am in the usual evening rush (wake up, gulp down coffee, dash out) and don't have the time at this moment to properly formulate and present my thoughts, but my immediate reaction is that I like this response to the Cartoon Controversy. I'll try to put words to my thoughts tomorrow.

One sees what one wants to see. I don't see this as a gay statement but as a kiss of peace -- a symbol of acceptance and tolerance between two of the world's largest religions.

Bottom line: the war of terror is not a war on Muslims.

[As I noted, I'm in a horrible rush and thus reserve the right to edit this for the sake of clarity.]

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February 17, 2006

And you thought the FCC exceeded its mandate!

Feb. 17 - The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commission (CRTC) has ruled that overcharging customers is a Canadian value. No, that's incorrect. What I meant to write is that the CRTC ruled that customers of Bell Canada and Telus Corp. were overcharged and, rather than ordering the two companies to reimburse those customers, the money be used for 'an important social and economic goal' (CRTC vetoes repayment).

I'm not the only one who is unhappy with this ruling:

Consumer groups and one dissenting commissioner said the money belongs to consumers and should go back to them.

CRTC chair Charles Dalfen told reporters yesterday that expanding broadband services, also known as high-speed Internet, is an important social and economic goal.

It has been a federal government priority for at least five years, although Ottawa has yet to allocate enough money to provide access in most rural and remote communities. "We think this is in the broader interests of the consumers," Mr. Dalfen said.


The CRTC said in its ruling that the companies will have until June 30 to outline how they will use the money to expand broadband. They are also ordered to use at least 5 per cent of the money to improve broadband access for the disabled.

Parliament failed to allocate money to expand broadband services so the CRTC has decided to appropriate money for the cause - money which rightfully belongs to those who were overcharged.

This sets a very dangerous precedent.

Posted by Debbye at 09:39 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Stifling political commentary, Canadian style

Feb. 17 - What on earth has prompted Warren Kinsella to sue a Canadian blogger, as Bruce reports in Blogging is a dangerous game? The defendent is Mark Bourrie, an Ottawa bogger, and Kinsella is demanding $600,000.

The claims of Kinsella's suit are here. As there is something of a history of bad feelings between Kinsella and Bourrie one has to wonder if this is a "gotcha" suit rooted more over an issue of English grammar than a serious claim of defamation.

Jay Currie has a great deal more here.

Mark is doing the right thing by fighting this suit, but his defense will cost a great deal.

Donations can be made at stopkinsella@hotmail.com on www.paypal.com , and I would encourage everyone to contribute what they can. Defending Mark now will be less costly than the long term harm which will be done to Canadian political bloggers should frivolous suits as this one be permitted to proceed unchallenged.

There was an ugly spate of threatened lawsuits last June which threatened the Canadian news media. Now it's the unofficial news media which is being targeted and, as was done then, it's fighting time.

Posted by Debbye at 07:30 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 10, 2006

Canadian connection to thwarted L.A. attack

Feb. 10 - Noteworthy item here, although the interesting part is not even in the story: Malaysian recruited for attack on U.S. pulled out after seeing Sept. 11 on TV. The Malaysian in question is Zaini Zakaria. (I suspect Australians and New Zealanders are familiar with that name, hmm?)

Duly note this:

It quoted Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the reputed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks who was captured in 2003, as saying "three potential pilots were recruited for the alleged second wave."

It identified them as Zacarias Moussaoui, Abderraouf Jdey, and Zaini. (Bolding added.)

I immediately recognized the name of Jdey. In that this is a story on a Canada's supposed primary news site (funded by the taxpayers) and written by writers for the Canadian Press one might think they would blink (if not shoot out of their chairs) at the name "Abderraouf Jdey" but, while providing some information about Moussaoui and Zaini, they passed on Jdey.

So why am I making such a fuss? Because Abderraouf Jdey is a Canadian. He moved here in 1991 and became a Canadian citizen in 1995. His suicide tape was found in Afghanistan and the FBI issued a world-wide warrant for his arrest some years ago. He is considered armed and dangerous. (Heh. Wikipedia has an entry on Jdey including some allegations which are highly, um, speculative.)

It's absolutely incredible that they fumbled on some rather obvious Can-con (that's a phrase we give to the mandatory inclusion of Canadian content imposed on radio and television.) Journalistic malpractice or willful ignorance? I can't read their minds so can't make a determination in this matter but I do think either is pathetic.

Moussaoui, of course, was already in jail on September 11, 2001, so his participation in any plot planned for 2002 was foiled, and Zaini Zakaria is currently being held for his involvement in Jemaah Islamiya, the al Qaeda-linked group which planned and carried out the 2002 Bali terror attack.

I knew Jdey's name already -- it also came up during the Sept. 11 hearings in the U.S. -- but had to google to get information about Zaini. (That's because I'm just an amateur and forgot his mention in the Sept. 11 Commission report.)

The true wonder is how they concluded the item in the best tradition of the Sob Story without blushing.

Posted by Debbye at 04:20 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 23, 2005

Dirty deeds done dirt cheap

Nov. 22 - Martin hit target?

An accused drug dealer alleges he was offered a meagre $300,000 in 2003 to assassinate Paul Martin (then Finance Minister.) A bit more to the story, of course, but still, only $300,000 ...

A very Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!

Everyone seems to be having entirely too much fun around here -- except for me: I'm in the midst of a killer work schedule (for those who don't know, I work in the retail sector.) But keep up that shopping folks! You pay my salary.

I actually got some sleep today, though, so should be more alert tomorrow morning.

The real news is that we expect snow in Toronto overnight. Driving will be such fun.

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October 24, 2005

Reactions to the Mehlis Report

Oct. 24 - I wish I could report on official Canadian reaction to the Mehlis Report but thus far there hasn't been any. The rest of the world isn't waiting for Canada, though, and Detlev Mehlis, who was commissioned by the U.N. to investigate the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, will be addressing the United Nations Security Council tomorrow. It seems likely that the imposition of sanctions on the Assad government will, at the very least, be brought up (U.S., Britain press for action against Syria) :

Diplomats at the United Nations and in Washington said U.S. and French officials have been talking with Russia and other nations about anti-Syria resolutions to put before the Security Council, including the possibility of punitive economic sanctions.
Seems France is still on board, which is good (however deeply I may distrust them.)

It's not really so surprising that Canadian officials haven't commented yet, especially as you'd never know the Mehlis Report was all that damning if you read the CBC webpage today (nor would you find a link to an earlier story on that report.) But you can trust the CBC to emphasize the anti-American element in the following story: pro-government demonstration in Syria today:

In a country where protests are rare, a rally in support of the Syrian government virtually shut down central Damascus Monday.

Among the hundreds of thousands of people at the rally – and a similar event in the northern city of Aleppo – there were government employees let off work for the occasion and students released from classes with the government's blessing.

Imagine: government blessed demonstrations! I haven't seen anything like it in that region since Saddam ruled Iraq. (Do reporters in Syria travel with "minders?" Just asking.)
They chanted anti-American slogans to protest a United Nations report released last week that said Syria and Lebanon played roles in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri on Feb. 14. (Emphasis added)
They dislike the findings of a U.N. report written by a German so they chant anti-American slogans. I could be really, really wrong but I am beginning to wonder if this might have been a "staged" event.

The CBC fills us in on more items from the report:

The same report also scolded Syria for its less-than-full co-operation with the United Nations investigation.

[I deleted intervening paragraphs which are not about the report's contents but the CBC report is copied in full in the extended entry for your reading pleasure.]

Syria vigorously denies the allegations in the U.N. report, dismissing its contents as politicized gossip.

The CBC does not report that Detlev Mehlis concluded that leading members of the Syrian and Lebanese governments were involved in the assassination nor does it note that last-minute alterations suppressed the names of several leading Syria officials (including members of Bashir Assad's immediate family) raising suspicions that Kofi Annan had broke his pledge not to interfere. In fact, the CBC doesn't even mention that a computer "gaffe" enabled recipients of the report to retrieve the deleted names.

Imperative No. 1 at the CBC is to suppress any news that makes the U.N. look bad or, failing that, downplay it. (Imperative No. 2 is to hype news that makes the U.S.A. look bad; note the lead picture on their Indepth Lebanon page!) That's part of the reason why some of us are somewhat cynical when CBC reporters are named to the Senate or appointed Governor-General. When your job as a reporter includes tainting the news or even failing to report the news, The News Canadians Trust isn't very trustworthy and neither are its reporters.

Although the news report says that there have been calls for U.N. sanctions, no specific country was named (the article does quote President Bush's response to the report, though.) I think it odd that the CBC completely ignored the involvement of both the French and the British not only because of the shared British and French heritage of Canada but also because the two countries are permanent members of the UNSC. Some might think that when 3 out of 5 permanent members are attempting to build a U.N.-based response against Syria that such an event would be newsworthy.

Same old, same old. For the CBC, it's always All. About. America. and not about, say, the Lebanese (or the Iraqis, for that matter) unless it's about a Syrian response which is All. About. America.

The CBC was so anxious to be even-handed that it didn't even mention the response in Lebanon to the report, unlike the AP, Michael Totten and Expat Yank Robert (and the latter has posted some very moving photos of the commemorative ceremonies at Hafrik's grave that were held last Friday.)

14:25: This CTV report on the Syrian demonstrations contains considerably more information about the Mehlis report although no names of suspected perpetrators are mentioned nor is the revelation that the report was altered to removed key names.

There's also a sobering analysis over at Canada Free Press by J. Grant Swank, Jr.: Syria: Murder & mayhem, but who cares? in which he expresses why he believes the Syrians will not be rising up to oust Assad. He makes several good points and, when you come right down to it, this isn't really about internal matters in Syria but that country's behaviour in Lebanon over the past few decades as well as their support of terrorist groups that attack Israel and (I suspect) Iraq.

The following is the CBC report about today's demonstration in Syria:

Syrians turn out for pro-government rally
Last Updated Mon, 24 Oct 2005 10:28:18 EDT
CBC News

In a country where protests are rare, a rally in support of the Syrian government virtually shut down central Damascus Monday.

Indepth: Syria

Among the hundreds of thousands of people at the rally – and a similar event in the northern city of Aleppo – there were government employees let off work for the occasion and students released from classes with the government's blessing.

They chanted anti-American slogans to protest a United Nations report released last week that said Syria and Lebanon played roles in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri on Feb. 14.

FROM FEB. 25, 2005: UN investigates Hariri assassination

The same report also scolded Syria for its less-than-full co-operation with the United Nations investigation.

Syria is intent on countering growing criticism over the affair, which includes calls for U.N. sanctions against the administration of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

United States President George W. Bush has labelled the report "deeply disturbing," and called on the U.N. Security Council to act immediately to reprimand Syria.

"Syria Will Never be Another Iraq," read one banner hoisted by protesters at Monday's rally. "Wake up Arabs, Your Turn Will Come Soon," said another.

Syria vigorously denies the allegations in the U.N. report, dismissing its contents as politicized gossip.

Detlev Mehlis, the U.N.'s lead investigator, is scheduled to address the United Nations Security Council Tuesday.

Hariri vigorously opposed Syria's domination of Lebanon. He and 20 others were killed when powerful bombs went off near his car in Beirut in early February.

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October 21, 2005

Another one bites the dust

Oct. 21 - On the one hand researchers claim that working women are too stressed to to add frozen vegetables to boiling water, and on the other hand someone who said that proper child-raising and rising to the top ranks in the advertising industry are incompatible goals has been forced to resign (Top ad guru quits amid sexism furor.)

Mr. [Neil] French confirmed yesterday that he has quit as worldwide creative director of WPP Group PLC, the world's second-largest marketing company where he oversaw famous agency networks including Ogilvy & Mather, JWT, Young & Rubicam and Grey Worldwide.
At least the center of this storm isn't backing down:
But Mr. French -- famous both for his brilliant work as a copy writer and his politically incorrect views -- stands by controversial comments he made in response to a question from the audience at a Toronto event sponsored by ad industry Web site ihaveanidea.org. The comments circled around the world after being reported last week in The Globe and Mail's Nobody's Business column.

"The woman asked why there are so few women creative directors. I said because you can't commit yourself to the job. And everyone who doesn't commit themselves fully to the job is crap at it . . ," Mr. French said yesterday in an interview.

"You can't be a great creative director and have a baby and keep spending time off every time your kids are ill. You can't do the job. Somebody has to do it and the guy has to do it the same way that I've had to spend months and months flying around the world and not seeing my kid. You think that's not a sacrifice? Of course it's a sacrifice. I hate it. But that's the job and that's what I do in order to keep my family fed."

One may not like his message, but that doesn't make him wrong.

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Canadians in Iraq

Oct. 21 - I must be getting old because I thought this was already well known but evidently the issue is that the knowledge has received official confirmation! Or maybe the issue is that Canadians participating in the "insurgency" tends to minimize the claim that said "insurgency" is an Iraqi-based resistance.

Seems that according to the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, James Judd, some Canadians are taking part in Iraqi insurgency. (Gasp!)

According to Keith Boag, the CBC's Ottawa bureau chief, the Prime Minister's Office was "flabbergasted" that such sensitive information could be released by the head of the spy agency. "They didn't know it was being spoken about publicly and for that they [the PMO] are very angry."

"The prime minister never comments on intelligence matters and they were under the impression that CSIS didn't either," said Boag.

Acknowledgment that Canadians are fighting in Iraq raises a number of questions, such as what will their status be if they decide to return to Canada.

You mean when they return here seeking health care after being wounded in action? That issue has already been settled as has their legal status.
"It raises the longer-term question of what do they bode for the future?" Judd said.
I guess it's really nice that they are at least considering the long-term ramifications but expecting action from this government? Uh, no, although there are those who are more than anxious to prosecute U.S. President George Bush under Canada's Criminal Code, and a Vancouver court has lifted a publication ban on attempts to do just that:
The Kitsilano lawyer [Gail Davidson] got the ball rolling against Bush as soon as he set foot on Canadian soil for his November 30, 2004, visit. As a private citizen, she charged him with seven counts of counselling, aiding, and abetting torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay naval base. She had her charges accepted by a justice of the peace in Vancouver Provincial Court.

Bush faces prison time if the case goes to trial and he is found guilty.

On December 6, 2004, Davidson was at Provincial Court to fix a date for the process hearing. However, Provincial Court Judge William Kitchen promptly ordered a Straight reporter and other observers from the courtroom and cancelled the charges, declaring them a “nullity”. The meeting was deemed to be “in-camera” and Kitchen concluded immediately that Bush had diplomatic immunity during his two-day visit to Canada because he was a head of state.

You can read about the legal wranglings at the link. (I included it because I didn't didn't want anyone to think that Canadians are incapable of taking A Stand On Moral Issues.)

(Links via Neale News.)

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The real scandal in Dingwall's "approved" expenses

Oct. 21 - David Dingwall explains his expenses and in one respect he is entirely correct: his expenses were approved by the Canadian Mint's Board of Directors.

But that's the point! The fact that those "expenses" were "approved" is a real scandal as much as is the appointment of political hacks who feel it necessary to pad their income by lobbying for contracts for which lobbying is forbidden.

So why is Dingwall getting severance pay instead of jail time? (I know why; just let me emote!)

Patronage appointments lead to corruption. The resistance by the political parties to legislate having such appointments be made strictly on merit and qualifications is why many are indifferent or even hostile to politics, and when the argument devolves to "give the other side an opportunity to appoint their own thieving cronies" then we are well past cynicism and apathy and into a level of contempt that can kill the heart of a country.

Shoot. For. The. Stars. Demand competence, accountability and honesty from all appointed officials. Taxpayers deserve no less.

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Operation Rudolph

Oct. 21 - Operation Rudolph - as in guiding Santa's team to deliver packages to Canadian Forces personnel in Afghanistan (link via Newsbeat1.)

There's no nice way to say this: public support for Canadian troops up here is all talk and no show. Yes, everyone shows up at the local Cenotaph once a year on Remembrance Day, stands around solemnly and intones "Never Again!" but when it comes to actually giving something (and we won't even go into federal funding for the troops) there isn't the kind of personal, local support here as there is in the U.S.A.

No one's asking you to "give 'till it hurts" (that right is reserved for the taxman) but maybe you can send a thank-you note. Or a donation (tax-deductible, no less!)

I'm as guilty as anyone up here of doing little to support the Canadians in Afghanistan, but then my energy and money go to supporting my people in my army in the U.S.A. What's your excuse?

By the way, before anyone sneers at the Canadian presence in 'stan, they might want to read Canadian forces offer first peek at JTF2 mission in Afghanistan from Sept. 21. (Run the complete headline through google for article.)

Also, read Postcard from Kandahar over at Small Dead Animals.

Posted by Debbye at 02:04 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 19, 2005

A Canadian institution

(Sent via email by a friend out West.)

Sorry about the no blogging - I feel asleep early and woke up late.

Tim Horton's, for any readers who may not know, is a huge chain of donut shops up here and most have drive-through service. Many a person arrives to work with a Tim Horton's cup in hand.

Tim Horton was a legendary hockey player who, for most of his career, played for the Toronto Maple Leafs and he may have been the strongest man to ever play in the NHL. Story has it that he didn't fight - he just bearhugged 'em. He last played for the Buffalo Sabres and was killed in a car crash on the QEW in the 1974.

Posted by Debbye at 08:20 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 18, 2005

The rogue lobbyists explanation

Oct. 18 - From rogue civil servants to rogue lobbyists - which in turn poses the question as to who, exactly, was roguely lobbied if not rogue civil servants? After all, if certain kinds of contracts and grants are not supposed to be lobbied for wouldn't the person(s) being lobbied know that?

Four lobbyists investigated for possible ethics breaches:

Mr. Nelson said he cannot comment on the investigations, but confirmed that he started them in the past month, although he said that the activities that are being probed are not necessarily that recent. Officials said the investigations cover the activities of four lobbyists.


"I have initiated eight investigations into potential breaches of the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct," Mr. Nelson said. "That may not seem like a large number . . . but in contrast, since the code of conduct came into being in the late 1990s, there has not been one investigation."

Mr. Nelson's office, which until last year came under the purview of the prime minister's ethics counsellor, Howard Wilson, has been criticized for what has been perceived as inaction in enforcing the law and code governing lobbyists. The Lobbyists' Act was amended in June to include wording changes proposed four years ago after prosecutors asserted that they could not successfully prosecute René Fugère, an unpaid aide to former prime minister Jean Chrétien, for failing to register to lobby on behalf of companies that paid him a 5- to 10-per-cent commission to obtain government grants.

Stay tuned.

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" ... I am really not a scary guy."

Oct. 18 - I am genuinely sorry that Carolyn Parrish is not running for re-election (Parrish not retiring-in any sense) and my reason isn't all that complicated. For all her faults, she had one redeeming virtue: she was honest, even if that included being outspoken as to her attitude toward the U.S.A.

My own experience tells me that she expresses the truth as to how many Canadians (at least here in the Greater Toronto Area) feel about us and our president. I prefer her upfront, in-your-face brazenness to the smile-in-their-faces-and-stab-them-in-the-back type of creature PM Paul Martin epitomizes.

I do realize that many Canadians consider her to be an embarrasssment, but what real value is there in pretending that the U.S.A. and Canada are bestest buddies? It does not serve American interests (we already came to terms with the peridy of the French) and, although it may appear to serve Canadian interests, how does being dishonest really serve Canada? It seems to me that being two-faced can only inspire contempt from Americans and, to this American mind, better straightforward honesty to blowing smoke up our as*es.

I don't have to like what someone is saying but at least say it openly. Yet with such honest dealing a deeper chasm would be revealed because many Canadians do not agree with the the Liberal government's attitude toward the U.S.A. That is the debate the Liberals continue to avoid.

However, despite the revision of recent history, Caorlyn Parrish was actually booted out of the Liberal Party for remarks she made about Paul Martin, not those she made about President Bush, and she used this interview to remind us of that. That Martin - with the complicity of the news media - tried to turn it around later and pretend that she was expelled for for her anti-Bush antics pretty much says everything there is to say about this government and its media apologists.

I wonder, did Martin hire Earnscliffe to conduct a public opinion poll to ascertain if Canadians would stomach him dropping Parrish for stomping a Bush doll on public TV or if charging her with lese majesty would be preferable?

Her comments in the interview about Paul "Dithers" Martin reflect what many have observed:

"One of my major disappointments in my whole life, and it will turn out to be one of the major disappointments of most Canadians, is Mr. Martin's leadership. He has been so fragile and he's been so tentative," Ms. Parrish said in her first interview since it was announced that she would not be running in the next federal election.

Paul Martin is "too keen to sit on the knee of the American President. He's been weak on softwood even though he's running around making noises now. He's been weak on beef. He's been weak on caucus management. He's got a whole bunch of yes men sitting in the front row. He is thoroughly intimidated by someone like me -- and I am really not a scary guy."


"I expected so much out of him. He's a very charming man but he's almost like a deer in the headlights. He looks old and he looks tired and he looks frightened."

Her loyalty to the Liberal Party seems genuine, despite her disappointment in the leadership of Paul Martin. She explains that she decided not to run because she feared a split vote would give the riding to a Conservative candidate, and it is well known that her vote in the "officially sanctioned" non-confidence motion kept the Liberals in power although a lesser person might have used the circumstance for some payback.

So long, Carolyn. Too bad the Liberal Party doesn't have a big enough tent to allow for a little honesty.

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October 16, 2005

Closing a tax haven

Oct. 16 - I'm super late posting on this, but an important private members bill has been submitted to Parliament calling for the closing of a tax haven for Canadian businesses.

A detailed report can be read at Frost Hits the Rhubarb: Proposed Amendment: Income Tax -- Note, CSL.

It is despicable that tax dollars are spent on contracts with firms that dodge paying business taxes in Canada - or in the U.S.A., for that matter. Let's hope this bill gets some support.

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October 14, 2005

That "rogue civil servant" explanation

Oct. 14 - Testimony previously under publication ban has been released by Judge Gomery which gives a closer look at the financial relationship between Jean Brault and Chuck Guite (Money bound Brault and Guite) all of which seems to be in line with the "rogue civil servant" explanation:

Both men said that after he left the federal civil service in 1999, Guite collected thousands of dollars for advising Brault on how to boost his business, often at the expense of taxpayers.

Guite and Brault are now charged with conspiracy and defrauding the government of nearly $2 million. Their trial is set for May 2006. The testimony made public Friday does not touch on any of the contracts that resulted in criminal charges.


The testimony illustrates the cosy, back-scratching environment that exploded into the $250-million sponsorship fiasco, which featured ad agencies and other middle-men collecting $100 million, often for little or no work.


According to Brault's testimony, his involvement began at the Vancouver Molson Indy auto race in 1995 where Guite taught him how federal sponsorships were really run.

"That's where he showed me that there was a sponsorship the government gave to (advertising company) Lafleur, and by spending three days in jeans with a beer in hand it's much easier to establish contacts," Brault said in the testimony.

"It was the first time that I would say I sowed, as we say in the business, a little seed to get one of these non-conventional contracts."

Both Guite and Brault reaped the harvest. While Brault gathered millions in ad contracts through his firm Groupaction, Guite picked smaller fruit at first.

Both men say Brault gave Guite high-performance Pirelli tires in 1997 for his brand new Ford Mustang. Brault's company billed the sponsorship program more than $1,300 for the tires. A few months later, Brault bought the car from Guite for $35,000 after Guite decided he was too old for a sports car.


Guite testified that Groupaction purchased expensive tickets for him and his family for the Italian Grand Prix in 1998.

Guite said that once he left the public service in 1999 he worked on contracts for Groupaction, receiving $76,000 from the company through August 2000.

Brault said he had put Guite on a $10,000 monthly retainer by 2001 for his "vast knowledge of ... the potential of different organizations working on communications in Canada."

According to Brault, his company gave more than $136,000 to Oro Communications, Guite's firm, from 1999 through 2002.

Guite said he borrowed $25,000 from a Groupaction subsidiary, Alexism Inc., to purchase a boat in 2001.

Guite was to repay the money from a $125,000 commission he was to receive later that year from Brault on a handshake deal. The repayment plan was interrupted when the sponsorship scandal broke and became a criminal case.

Guite said he still intends to repay the money, with interest.

Other testimony released Friday highlighted other aspects of the sponsorship file:

--Paul Coffin, the first man convicted of fraud in the sponsorship program, testified that Guite told him to fabricate invoices to cash in on sponsorships. Coffin pleaded guilty to several counts of fraud earlier this year and received a sentence to be served in the community. The sentence is under appeal.

-- Brault testified that Guite pressed him into making a $50,000 donation to Jean Charest's provincial Liberals through ad agency Groupe Everest in 1998. Brault said Guite named Charest, saying "We must send $50,000 to Charest." Brault later qualified the statement by saying Guite was talking about the Charest campaign, not Charest personally.

Guite denies the accusations.

So much for Guite, Brault and Coffin, but the question lingers: what the hell were those elected to run the country and oversee expenditures doing? Either they were doing their job and Guite, Brault, Coffin and others were doing what they were expected to do, or those elected weren't doing their jobs so what the hell good are they and why would Canadians entrust their future to such fall downs?

(Link via Neale News.)

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October 13, 2005

Loyalty from Diversity

Oct. 13 - Interesting poll results (Canadians value diversity, demand loyalty: poll):

The majority of Canadians believe the country's multicultural society helps guard against extremism, a new survey shows. However, most respondents also believe Canadians should be loyal first and foremost to Canada, not their countries of origin.

The results may indicate where a country that prides itself on multiculturalism is prepared to draw the line on tolerance.

Nice of the Globe to confuse loyalty with tolerance!

To me this poll simply indicates that most Canadians have common sense.

As an aside, I've been doing a marathon thing at work (we call it "gearing up for Christmas") but things are expected to return to normal next week (that's the official story, anyway.)

(Link via Neale News.)

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October 07, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving and Be Careful!

Oct. 7 - I can't be the only person in Toronto who has taken the alert for New York subways as a warning to up my own Awareness Meter when riding the subway here (Official: Threat cites this weekend) so, in the immortal words of Sgt. Phil Esterhaus, Let's be careful out there.

I have to work again tonight but before I head out I want to wish all of you in Canada and the members of the Canadian Forces around the world - including Afghanistan - a blessed Thanksgiving weekend.

We do have a lot to be grateful for. I know I gripe a lot but I also live in a country where I can do so publicly.

Mark, on the other hand is not grateful. The BoSox were eliminated and he's temporarily inconsolable.

(Please let the Angels win. I don't think Mark can handle it if they blow a 5-0 lead over the Yankees.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:48 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 06, 2005

Anti-Semitism and the Saudis

Oct. 6 - Pieter reports on a disturbing incident at Vancouver Island's Pearson College at which swastikas were painted on the sidewalk greeted Israeli Consul General Cobie Brosh when he visited that campus.

[Oct. 7 - 07:04: Pieter has some information on the response of the college administration to the incident here and I guess it would be safe to say that they dealt with it much as one would expect a U.N. sponsored school to do but perhaps more than one would expect the U.N. to do.]

Is anti-Semitism in North America on the rise? There is certainly reason to be concerned, and certainly reason to confront that possibility. There is also reason to wonder what role the Saudis might have played if there has been an uprise.

According to this article in the NY Sun, the U.S. State Department has demanded that Saudi Arabia answer for their distribution of hate literature to mosques and schools in the U.S.A. I say "their" because the literature bears the official seal of the government of Saudi Arabia. The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on the hate literature starting Oct. 25.

The literature appears beyond inflammatory and even incites treasonable actions by recent Muslim immigrants to the U.S. The Sun article deserves to be read in full because, if the allegations are correct, we have a big problem: our views on human rights and liberties are in direct conflict with our need to defend ourselves.

The flurry of activity comes months after a report from the Center for Religious Freedom discovered that dozens of mosques in major cities across the country, including New York, Washington, and Los Angeles, were distributing documents, bearing the seal of the government of Saudi Arabia, that incite Muslims to acts of violence and promote hatred of Jews and Christians.

A Washington-based group that is part of the human rights organization Freedom House, the Center for Religious Freedom also found during its yearlong study that the Saudi-produced materials describe democracy and America as un-Islamic. They instruct recent Muslim immigrants to consider Americans as enemies and the materials urge new arrivals to use their time here as preparation for jihad. The documents also promote the version of Islam officially embraced by Saudi government and several of the September 11, 2001, hijackers, Wahhabism, as the only authentic Islam.


The Accountability Act, introduced in June, says its purpose is "to halt Saudi support for institutions that fund, train, incite, encourage, or in any other way aid and abet terrorism, and to secure fully Saudi cooperation in the investigation of terrorist incidents." The legislation is highly critical of the House of Saud for its support of terrorist activity and cites the January Freedom House report as evidence of the kingdom's complicity in the spread of radical Islamist ideology. As part of the Accountability Act, Senator Specter has in the past held Judiciary Committee hearings into Saudi financing of terrorism and Saudi Arabia's role in injecting ideology into textbooks for Palestinian Arab schoolchildren. (Bolding added)

There has been much criticism of the Bush Administration for its kid-glove treatment of Saudi Arabia and failure to strongly condemn the role in exporting terror particularly through their schools and mosques. The extent to which the Saudis fund terror organizations is also something that has also not been adequately addressed by the Bush administration and accusations that the administration is covering up for the royal family have some validity.

But one peculiarity of U.S. government structure is the separation of the executive and legislative branches, and sometimes Congress takes the lead (as they did in investigations into the U.N. Oil-for-Food program) and it is possible that the White House has chosen to play a diminished but supporting role to this latest Senate investigation:

Also demanding answers about the hate materials is the State Department's undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, Karen Hughes. During a high-profile trip to the Middle East last week, Ms. Hughes said American representatives had addressed the propagation of Saudi hate material in America during private meetings with government officials.
In response to questions as to why the issue was raised privately rather than publicly, Hughes said that "We had been raising the issue privately," Ms. Hughes said, "and as part of raising difficult issues that we need to discuss, I felt it was appropriate."

I have a sinking feeling that there is truth to the allegations. And I don't know quite how we can deal decisively with the Saudis without performing bin Laden's dirty work for him by destablizing the Saudi ruling family, how we can separate those who immigrate in hopes of better lives and those who come to these shores with murder in their hearts.

I'm willing to let the Senate committee take the lead, but I think the Bush administration is going to have to confront the Saudis sooner rather than later.

(I've only had time to quickly read through President Bush's speech to the National Endowment for Democracy but from what I gleaned he didn't admonish the Saudis. It seems to have been a good speech but I need to read it more attentively after work tomorrow morning.)

(NY Sun link via Newsbeat1)

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October 05, 2005

3 Canadian soldiers injured

Oct. 5 - Three Canadian soldiers received minor injuries today by what initial reports indicate was a homicide bomber about one kilometer outside of Kandahar. Approxomatly 250 Canadian soldiers are stationed in that city at present and the deployment will be increased by 1,250 in February.

Kandahar is considered to be more dangerous than Kabul and thus the risk to the Canadian contingent is higher, but Kabul isn't all that safe either. Two Canadian soldiers sustained injuries Sept. 15 from a roadside bomb there.

(Link via Neale News.)

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October 04, 2005

Pink Floyd rules for the Opposition

Oct. 4 - It's a little hard at times to explain the Commons (that's Parliament, for Americans) and how it can sometimes be less than dignified. Even with some of the rowdiness, though, even on my best day I couldn't have predicted that the Conservatives would sing Pink Floyd songs to make a point (Opposition sings a song of Dingwall):

The Conservatives broke into a rendition of Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall to reveal their disgust at the excessive spending habits of David Dingwall, the former head of the Mint who retired last week amid allegations that he and his staff spent $740,000 last year.

Tory revenue critic Brian Pallister began the rendition with his version of the tune:

"You don't need no information,
We're in charge of thought control,
Fine wines with caviar in the backroom.”

The other Tories finished with the chorus,

"Hey Tories! Leave those Grits alone.” (Spacing added.)
How about working up some new words to AC/DC's Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap for today's songfest? Oh wait, it's hardly cheap, is it? But so long as it's on the taxpayers dime and they don't mind in sufficient numbers to end Liberal rule ...

There's more here on MP Brian Palliser, who is doing more work on uncovering excessive spending than our (un)investigative press up here.

I really need to sleep. So long until tomorrow.

(Via Neale News.)

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Don't hold back!

Oct. 4 - Keith really lets loose in fine style in More Islamist murders, Jihadi fashionistas, our cowardly ambassador.

He concludes the fiery post by tearing a strip off Canada's Ambassador to the U.S. over remarks made up here at the Empire Club:

Funny isn't it? Our great leaders take pride in needling the country that spends its own blood and treasure to protect Canada, that buys some 80% of our exports.

But they don't have the guts to do the same with, oh, I dunno, China? You know, China? The country whose government does not hesitate to mow down its own citizens with tanks, to arrest, detain and "disappear" people who speak publicly against it? Dysfunctional? Nooooooo. Hell, the Liberals only wish they could get away with it too.

Or Iran, the country that detains, tortures and kills Canadian citizens.

Sharp, pointed commentary.

Posted by Debbye at 10:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Paulus Martinius AdScamus

Oct. 4 - Lorrie Goldstein writes a history of Canada from 2,000 years in the future and the pivotal events under the political leadership of one Paulus Martinius AdScamus.

Funny and sad.

Posted by Debbye at 07:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 01, 2005

Living in Bizarro World

Oct. 1 - I'm just postive there's a logical explanation as to why the feds would consider giving former Canadian Mint president David Dingwall a severance package (Dingwall payout dinged.)

But I can't think of one.

Posted by Debbye at 07:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 30, 2005

Then why are my taxes so high?

Sept. 30 - I'm too tired to do a total deconstruct of remarks made by Canada's Ambassador to the U.S. Frank McKenna (McKenna calls United States government dysfunctional) but he does have a few good points:

"In Canada, whether we like it or not -- and often we don't like it -- but essentially we have party discipline, and if you can convince the Prime Minister or a minister that something should be done, invariably it can end up being done," Mr. McKenna said.
True, totalitarian governments do tend to be more efficient, but the question lingers: what if you can't convince the PM to do something?

And then there's this:

At the same time, he said, the United States faces "a very difficult financial situation," with predictions its deficit will hit or exceed US$500-billion this year.

"That's not to speak of the fact that that doesn't include unfunded liabilities for social security, which, some estimate, could run into the twenties and thirties of trillions of dollars."

By comparison, Canada is in its eighth consecutive year of surplus, with a dropping ratio of debt to gross domestic product, he said.

Yeah, we know how you reduced the national debt. The military, health care system and provinces were underfunded, but the economy was so robust that we could afford the corruptions of Adscam and the unfolding questions about Earncliffe contracts.
"Our pension plan, instead of being in deficit, is actuarially balanced for the next 75 years."

He also praised Canada's health care system and the country's abundance of natural resources.

Whatever, dude. Just don't get sick up here.

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:42 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

September 29, 2005

The new G-G

Sept. 29 - Someone in my family asked why I had posted nothing on the Michaelle Jean, Canada's new Governor-General. I replied that she holds French citizenship, she has been appointed to represent the Queen of England, and what's wrong with this picture? (My kids and husband are old enough to handle my sarcasm wit.)

Well, she's announced her intention of giving up her French citizenship. I can't deny that's an improvement.

Posted by Debbye at 09:55 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 28, 2005

Dingwall resigns at head of Canadian Mint

Sept. 28 - David Dingwall, whose name came up during the Gomery Inquiry into Adscam and, more recently, due to his extracurricular activies as an unregistered lobbyist for grants with the Technology Partnerships Canada (TPC) on behalf of Bioniche, resigned as head of the Canadian Mint this afternoon:

The former Liberal cabinet minister has become embroiled in controversy after it was recently revealed he failed to register as a lobbyist for a Toronto pharmaceutical company.

In a statement Wednesday he said he believed all of his actvities were above-board.

Mr. Dingwall stepped aside amid controversy about his lobbying activities, before his appointment to the Mint as well as questions about his expenses while heading up the Crown corporation.

His lobbying activities on behalf of Bioniche Life Sciences Inc. are under scrutiny by Industry Canada.

It should be noted that yesterday, Bioniche announced they would repay Ottawa the $463,974 "success" fee.

Dingwall's expense account was reported on only this morning:

Federal documents released under the Access to Information Act show the office expenses and pay packet of David Dingwall, president of the Royal Canadian Mint, cost more than $1 million last year.

Included in Mr. Dingwall's office billings for 2004 were $1,235 for his annual golf membership, $13,228 in one day of foreign travel, and a $5,728 meal at a posh Ottawa restaurant.

And while Mr. Dingwall has a leased car courtesy of the Crown corporation, his office ran up a $2,500 tab for limousines in 2003.

The wining, dining, globe-trotting and other office expenses added up to $846,464 in 2004, mint records show. In addition, Mr. Dingwall's annual salary -- not including up to 12 per cent in performance bonuses -- is as much as $241,000.


Other billings released to [Tory critic for the mint] Mr. [Brian] Pallister show Mr. Dingwall, a Jean Chretien-era cabinet minister, has been running up a substantial tab, which included the following in 2004:

- $5,297 for various membership fees;

- $11,173 for meals in Canada;

- $3,317 in foreign dining;

- $40,355 for domestic travel;

- $92,682 for foreign travel;

- $12,487 for domestic hospitality;

- $5,998 for lease vehicle operating costs.

Mint spokeswoman Pam Aung Thin defended Mr. Dingwall's spending, saying each claim has been approved and verified by the Crown corporation's chief financial officer.

When I first began to read about the TPC transactions for which Dingwall lobbied I had to double-check to make sure he was still president of the Canadian Mint -- it seemed inconceivable that someone who already had a plush patronage appointment would also be a registered (much less un-registered) lobbyist. It just goes to prove how naive we can be about how this government operates.

Sept. 29 - The Toronto Sun isn't pulling any punches in today's editorial Dinged by David Dingwall:

This editorial is inspired by David Dingwall, a man who made $277,000 a year as president of the Royal Canadian Mint (until yesterday) and still charged Canadian taxpayers $1.79 for a bottle of water.

And, oh, yeah ... $91,437 on international travel in 2004 alone.

Greg Weston says he was Chewing Our Money and looks on the career which Paul Martin praised in the House yesterday:
Back in 1994, Dingwall was Liberal public works minister when he publicly vowed to eradicate patronage and corruption from the awarding of massive federal advertising contracts.

The senior bureaucrat handpicked by Dingwall to clean up the advertising swamp was Chuck Guite, the same official who helped create it under the Tories.

The rest, as they say, is history. AdScam was born in Dingwall's department the next year, $350 million was blown on the scandalous advertising sponsorship program, and Guite is now facing criminal fraud charges.


Testimony at the Gomery inquiry into AdScam indicated that in 1998, for instance, Dingwall was paid $12,000 a month by a Montreal advertising executive he apparently had never met, supposedly to provide lobbying advice to VIA Rail, a Crown corporation prohibited by law from hiring lobbyists for anything.

The Montreal ad executive, Jean Lafleur, is a key player in the AdScam fiasco, and told the Gomery inquiry he was ordered by VIA to hire Dingwall and send the bills to the public railway.

Posted by Debbye at 07:44 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The ethics of Martin and his Liberals

Sept. 28 - Toronto Tory is busy digging up questionable transactions between Liberal Party leader Paul Martin, the government he leads and corporations which, after receving government money, made sizeable donations to the Liberals and/or Martin's leadership campaign. Keep in mind that Martin was Canada's Minister of Finance for several years before his campaign for party leadership.

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) lies at the center of the allegations in Entry #1:

After JD Irving Limited received $700,000 in approved funding from ACOA, they donated $100,000 to Paul Martin's leadership campaign.

Oxford Frozen Foods received $1,600,000 in 2003 from ACOA, and donated at least $50,000 to Martin's leadership campaign.

Keep in mind that the list of donors has vanished from official Canadian government archives (fortunately, Google's snapshot images endure.)

And then there's TESMA, which received received $2,600,000 from ACOA and then donated $15,000 to the leadership campaign.

Is it just me? Either these corporations are so needy that they require taxpayer subsidies or they are so financially secure that they can afford to make political contributions. I don't see a middle ground which is also ethical and, to all appearances, this is a quid pro quo arrangement and the taxpayers are footing the bill.

Entry #2 on Toronto Tory's list concerns something I alluded to earlier: Martin's dilemma in trying to sandwich the date for the next election between reports on audits. I should have included trial dates!

The Earnscliffe Strategy Group has long been associated with Paul Martin, and the article $10M in federal funds go to firm linked to PM in today's Ottawa Citizen brings new figures:

The Earnscliffe Strategy Group, an Ottawa consulting firm with close political ties to Prime Minister Paul Martin, has received more than $10 million in federal government money since the Liberals took power, new documents show.

And another Ottawa polling firm that has sometimes worked with Earnscliffe received more than $61 million in the same period.

Ottawa-based EKOS Research was awarded more than 1,600 contracts over the 111/2-year period, mostly for public opinion research.

The work was done for various departments, agencies and Crown corporations.

Records tabled in the House of Commons on Monday show that Earnscliffe and its affiliates have received 269 contracts, amendments and standing offers since 1993.

During Mr. Martin's years as finance minister, his department repeatedly hired Earnscliffe to do polling and focus groups and provide communications advice, often in advance of federal budgets.

The new records show that Earnscliffe received just under $2 million from the Finance Department alone.

The finance contracts last year became the subject of a political storm as a former public works official alleged that the tendering was specially tailored to ensure the work always went to Earnscliffe. The firm denied the allegation.

Most of the finance work was done by Earnscliffe senior partners David Herle, who ran Mr. Martin's 1990 leadership bid, and Elly Alboim, a former CBC producer.

Additionally, there's been a lot of speculation that Earnscliffe is Martin's Adscam, with contracts going out for little or no work.

The apparent conflict of interest hides another weakness in the Martin government. All governments pay heed to public opinion, but public opinion is usually concerned with short term objectives and governments that lead are presumed to take a longer view.

When public opinion dominates decision-making we end up with a government that hesitates, fumbles and, shall we say, dithers. Harsher types might call it opportunism, something we expect in political parties but reject in governments.

Posted by Debbye at 06:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 26, 2005

The value of Unasked Questions

Sept. 26 - Two items on the UN, one on oil-for-food and one on the lack of whistleblower protection in Canada have a common denominator: unasked questions.

From Fréchette's U.N. challenge (link via reader JM):

The oil-for-food report, by former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, said the U.N.'s systems for preventing mismanagement, corruption and communications gaps were "insufficient," and that Fréchette "knew but did not act upon" reports of major program violations.
Now I'm not a journalist and I never went to journalism school so I could be wrong but wouldn't a real reporter ask about the "knew but did not act upon" part and perhaps even about the allegations that Fréchette actually blocked reports of corruption in OFF from coming before the Security Council? But no; the very next paragraph reads:
But, Volcker concluded, both Fréchette and Annan should be part of the effort to reform the world body, the task that the Montreal-born diplomat and public servant was appointed to do seven years ago, when faith in the U.N. leadership was high.
M'kay. Faith in the U.N. leaderhsip was high when Fréchette was appointed and now, by implication, it's low. The logic of keeping Frechette on when it seems clear that she has failed to accomplish her appointed task escapes me, but I wonder if Ward is perhaps being deliberately ironic in that paragraph. Oh well, one can only hope.

Salim Mansur, always a favourite around here, doesn't mince words: Paul Martin out of touch in reference to Martin's speech to the U.N. (text of speech here.)

Mansur speculates on the kind of speech Lester Pearson would have made:

The former PM and Nobel-Prize-winning diplomat would surely have told the UN that Canada, as a founding member, found intolerable the stain on the organization's reputation due to the corruption, ineptness, nepotism and mismanagement revealed by Paul Volcker's commission of inquiry into the Iraqi Oil-for-Food scandal.

Pearson would surely have reminded the UN of his role in calling for global "partnership for development," and the necessary provision of assistance by rich countries to the poor. But he would also insist the UN cannot be trusted with increased funds unless full reform of its management practices occurred, and the UN secretariat became accountable and transparent.

His idealism was framed by realism, since he knew full well the perennial nature of evil. He would not have shirked taking responsibility for UN failure in Rwanda and the Balkans, and then in scolding member-states for their appalling disregard for the tragedy unfolding in Darfur.

Pearson would also, in my view, have made sure Canada stood firmly together with Britain and Australia as members of a great Commonwealth affirming U.S. President George Bush's message in New York on this same 60th anniversary occasion: "If member countries want the United Nations to be respected -- respected and effective -- they should begin by making sure it is worthy of respect."

My reaction to Martin's speech superceded my usual reaction to vague platitudes and drivel because I was outraged that Martin of all the leaders gathered there would have the nerve to talk about reforms and financial accountability. I did note, however, that he talked about "three pillars," a rather clear lifting of Bush's Whitehall speech which also employed "three pillars" to explain U.S. foreign policy.

Has anyone asked why Martin felt it necessary to plagiarize the president of the United States?

Claudia Rosett writes The Buck Still Hasn't Stopped (link via Newsbeat1) that the "definitive report" issued by the Volcker Inquiry is "hefty" but not definitive.

You should read the whole thing, but this is a CanCon post so I only excerpted this bit about the man said to be Paul Martin's mentor, Maurice Strong, from page 2 of the article:

Part of the problem is that Volcker has imposed on his inquiry the standards not of a prosecutor, but of an accountant. Faced with a pole too tall to measure by hand, he instead tells us its precise circumference on the ground, and lets it go at that. Much has been aired already of Volcker's account of Annan's strange and abiding ignorance of his own son's lively lobbying for U.N.-related business. So let us focus on another character, Annan's former special adviser Maurice Strong, longtime U.N. guru of good governance. (Strong did depart the United Nations this spring, but with Annan's office expressing fervent hopes he will soon return.)

At some length, Volcker does the genuine service of laying out how Strong, in mid-1997, received a check for $988,885 made out to his name (a copy can be found on page 106, Volume II). The check was drawn on a Jordanian bank, funded by Saddam's regime, and delivered by Korean businessman Tongsun Park, who was a U.N. "back-channel" go-between with Saddam. Strong endorsed the check over to a third party to invest in a Strong family-controlled business, Cordex Petroleum. Interviewed by Volcker's team earlier this year, Strong said he did not recall receiving such a check. When shown a copy, he said he did not know the money came from Iraq. Volcker leaves the matter there, concluding that "the Committee has found no evidence that Mr. Strong was involved in Iraqi affairs, matters relating to the [Oil-for-Food] Programme or took any actions at the request of Iraqi officials."

But how hard did the Volcker committee look? In July 1997, the month before Strong cashed the Saddam-backed check, Annan was issuing his first U.N. reform program, reshaping the secretariat. Strong was the major architect of that reform, and was thanked profusely by Annan at the time for "his important contributions." A significant aspect of that reform was the consolidation of the then-new, ad hoc, and diffuse Iraq Oil-for-Food program into a single, more firmly entrenched office. This move tilted control of the daily administration of Oil-for-Food away from the Security Council and toward the secretariat. When the new, unified office set up shop three months later, in October 1997, Annan appointed Sevan as executive director. That marked the beginning of the stretch in which Sevan began taking bribes from Saddam, and the Oil-for-Food program, urged on by Annan, began to grow astronomically in size and scope. Lacking any disclosure of the secret U.N. paper trail that led to the creation of this office and its expanded mission, it is impossible to know whether Strong took a direct hand in setting up the office from which Sevan then, in effect, collaborated with Saddam. Perhaps Strong had nothing to do with it. But Volcker doesn't even ask the question.

Not asking the right questions could be due to oversight or ineptitude, right? Right.

The last item, Whistleblower fires back at Immigration and Refugee Board (link via Let It Bleed), concerns the dismissal of Selwyn Pieters, a man who had gone public with allegations of wrongdoing at the Immigration and Refugee Board:

In March 2004, Mr. Pieters complained to the Public Service Integrity Office that the politically appointed board members who are supposed to decide the fate of refugee claims were violating the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act by not writing their own decisions.

The refugee protection officer also went to the media with his allegations that civil servants were the ones who were doing the decision-making.

Following a probe by a board-hired investigator, IRB chairman Jean-Guy Fleury conceded “improper conduct occurred” in three cases and “appropriate administrative measures” were taken against four board members.

In firing him last month, executive director Marilyn Stuart-Major credited Mr. Pieters with exposing the wrongdoing in which he participated.

However, she lashed out at him for his “deliberate fabrication” in calling the problems at the board “systemic,” and for alleging a “code of silence” existed around the misconduct.

The case is complicated by claims and counter-claims of racism, harassment and retaliation, but there is another issue posed because Mr. Pieters believes that dismissing his claim that the problems at the board are systemic was done prematurely:
He also maintains it failed to delve thoroughly into his claim that the problems with decision writing were widespread.

“I said it was a systemic issue and they're saying there's no evidence of any systemic issues here,” Mr. Pieters said.

“There's no evidence because (they) didn't investigate it.”

Clearly readers can't judge if the review was inadequate, but it does raise some serious questions, including the Board investigating itself, and in light of indications during the Gomery Inquiry that civil servants often exceeded their job descriptions I think this derserves more scrutiny.

After all, if you don't ask, you won't know. Nor will we.

Posted by Debbye at 04:54 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

September 25, 2005

That damned gun registry again

Sept. 25 - I linked this in a post below but it really deserves its own spot. The alarm bells that went off when we were told that the feds had spent $1 million in software were not false, and it may well be that the gun registry is a 'Bigger fraud than AdScam':

Critics of the gun registry are eagerly awaiting Auditor General Sheila Fraser's "Canadian Firearms Program" audit which is scheduled to be released in February -- if we're not in the midst of a federal election campaign.

Fraser isn't doing interviews about the audit, which has been underway for months.

The last time her office attempted to look into gun registry spending was 2002 and the results were explosive. In fact, her team was forced to abandon its attempts to follow the spending on the gun registry because of the absence of records.

"The information on cost recovery provided to the government changed as the program developed," Fraser wrote at the time.

Originally expected to be self-financing by 1999-2000, Fraser and her auditors discovered the target for the firearms program to break even was pushed to 2013 -- an assumption that the program collect $419 million in fees in 2002-03 and about $828 million by 2007-08. (Emphasis added)

What part of accountable government don't people understand? People who vote for the Libranos do so in large part because that party says the right things; I get that. But what kind of brain death fails to connect the lapse between "saying the right things" and "doing the right things?"

There is a sick, twisted mentality at work here. Paul Martin has to time elections these days with an eye on inquiries into scandals and the reports they generate.

To reiterate an old rant, if those who froth at the mouth when they read "Halliburton" would apply some of the same passion when they read about the seemingly endless list of government mis-spending and "absence of records" we might find a lot of common ground.

To re-iterate another rant, let's see some concrete proposals from the CPC to force accountability into public spending (and that includes accountability from any agency, institution or foundation that recents public funds.)

Or, to take another view, if the aim of the Libranos is to initiate "Scandal Overdose" then they are succeeding. I know I'm weary of being angry and I can't help but wonder how many Canadians have begun to block out this kind of news simply to bring some sanity back to their lives.

(Link via Newsbeat1 via NealeNews, two of the most informative sites in Canada.)

Posted by Debbye at 06:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 24, 2005

Ethics and the Liberals

Sept. 24 - Bill and Angry continue to keep their eyes on the growing questions about how some Technologies Partnerships Canada (TPC) loans were obained. Two weeks ago it was about $3.7 million made to 3rd party intermediaries who were used to help obtain the loans, and now it appears that the investigation has expanded from four to as many as 15 companies that are improperly using lobbyists or middlemen.

Some recent revelations bear yet more resemblence to Adscam-style dealings, namely claims that a lobbying firm, Wallding International, is owned by former Cabinet minister and president of the Royal Canadian Mint David Dingwall, was paid a $350,000 "success" fee for his assistance in getting $15 million in federal financing for Bioniche. Angry has more in this post that poses some questions about the lobbying activies of Dingwall and another former Cabinet Minister, Marc Lalonde, who served under Pierre Trudeau, and now works on behalf of TM Bioscience, a company that has also received money from the TPC.

The TPC is now being phased out and replaced with a new agency, the Transformative Technologies Program. Okay, so they discard a name that has been touched with scandal. But now I'm wondering if it is something more after reading this:

NORTH CAPE, P.E.I. (CP) - Prime Minister Paul Martin said Saturday that he intends to make Canada a major producer of renewable energy.

Martin made the commitment as he toured the site of the new Canadian Wind Energy Institute at North Cape, a blustery village at the northwestern tip of Prince Edward Island.

On Friday, the federal government, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, announced it will contribute about $3.6 million toward the establishment of the institute.

As well, starting with the 2006-07 fiscal year, Natural Resources Canada will contribute $1 million annually for two years toward operating costs.

That commitment, however, is expected to extend well beyond two years, but tail off gradually as the institute's own sources of income grow.

Are institutes that receive federal financing required to be audited by the A-G or, like foundations, are they exempt?

Bill and Angry are doing fantastic jobs staying on top of this story and, like Adscam, the allegations of wrong-doing involve people who were once entrusted with the governance of this country.

This is very timely: Toronto Tory has set a self-imposed challenge:

Every day, for the next 30 days, I will post an example of a company or individual who has an unethical relationship with Paul Martin, and/or the Liberal party of Canada/Ontario.
There are more details about the challenge at LIBERAL CORRUPTION - THE ONE MONTH CHALLENGE. Somehow I don't think there will be a lack of material.

Sept. 25 - 17:49 - I missed this post by Kate that expands on the role David Dingwall played in Adscam and connects some more dots.

So many scandals, so little time. The gun registry could be a fraud bigger than Adscam (link via Newsbeat1)"

[Auditor General Sheila] Fraser isn't doing interviews about the audit, which has been underway for months.

The last time her office attempted to look into gun registry spending was 2002 and the results were explosive. In fact, her team was forced to abandon its attempts to follow the spending on the gun registry because of the absence of records. (Emphasis added)

I feel sick.

Posted by Debbye at 07:03 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 23, 2005

Our crazy Uncle Paul

Sept. 23 - Crazy Paul's billion dollar shell game: maybe Canadians pay closer attention to US matters than Canadian ones in order to stay sane!

Posted by Debbye at 05:13 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Fraud in Canada's health care system

Sept. 23 - News that billing fraud is widespread in Canada's health care system isn't exactly unexpected (Health fraud rampant) but it is dismaying to see it confirmed:

NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. - Canada's health care system is rife with fraud that costs the public and private sectors an estimated $3-billion to $10-billion a year, the country's first-ever survey of health fraud indicates.

"It's a big problem. It's a multi-billion-dollar problem and that's a big drain on the health care system," said Michael Chettleburgh of Fraudbox Inc., which did the survey for the Canadian Health Care Anti-Fraud Association.


Speakers at the anti-fraud association's annual conference told about fraudulent billings by pharmacists, dentists and other health care professionals, as well as the growing problem of people stealing caregivers' identities to illicitly claim payments.

The article notes that the problem isn't limited to Canada, but the realization that the cracks in the taxpayer-funded health care system here are worsened by the greed of some health care professionals further erodes public faith those in the health sector have a calling to cure and heal.

The Canadian Health Care Anti-Fraud Association page doesn't have the report on its page yet but the results of the survey are available in .pdf here at the Fraudbox Inc. site.

(Via Neale News)

Posted by Debbye at 04:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 22, 2005


Sept. 22 - Glen Reynolds is reporting on the initiative to Cut the fat in order to pay the huge costs of Katrina's devastation, and it struck me that this easily has Canadian applications.

Cut the pork to improve the health care system.
Cut the pork to upgrade the military.
Cut the pork to reduce gas taxes.
Cut the pork to reduce taxes period.
Cut the pork to ______________ (your project.)

Posted by Debbye at 12:44 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Greg Weston on Coffin's sentence

Sept. 22 - Greg Weston writes on the incredibly harsh sentence given to the first convicted participant in Adscam (from Coffin nails Liberals?):

OTTAWA -- The Quebec judge who sentenced one of the AdScam con men to a wrist-slapping for stealing $1.5 million has certainly sent a clear message to all who would even consider ripping off the government.

In the immortal shrug of Jean Chretien: "So, maybe a few million was stolen."

For 15 counts of deliberate and systematic fraud, Montreal advertising executive Paul Coffin was sentenced this week to two years less a day "to be served in the community."

Translated, he has to be home by 9 p.m. weeknights, and lecture university students on "business ethics."

Coffin's pitch to so many young minds will no doubt include horror stories about how his utter lack of business ethics condemned him to a miserable life of big boats, fast cars, fancy houses and expensive wines.

I'm not surprised, but nonetheless I feel ashamed for this fine country.

Paul Coffin betrayed the people he was supposed to serve. He betrayed every single Canadian but the court has ruled that it's no big deal.

Does the word honour even have meaning these days? If it doesn't, and I am becoming increasingly certain that it does not, then dishonour too seemingly has no meaning. And that is the government we're stuck with.

13:57 Sleep can wait; Darcy lends some much needed perspective into Coffin's gentle treatment. Now I'm getting mad again.

Posted by Debbye at 10:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 15, 2005

Scandal - again!

Sept. 15 - Release of the Gomery Report on Adscam is delayed. The report on the Toronto MFP scandel is out. The issue of accountability - or lack thereof - continues to dismay and anger us.

But scandal seems to be becoming Canada's chief industry, as Bill takes note of yet another Canadian boondoggle which is finally being subjected to scrutiny: Audit of $2.9 billion TPC program expands and (oh my aching head) Paul Martin's mentor, Maurice Strong who was also implicated in OFF, is involved. Again.

One of the findings of the Volcker Inquiry into the U.N. Oil For Food program was the extent to which corruption is institutionalized in the U.N. I fear that much the same may be said of Canada (and Ukraine) and that weeding it out will prove far more difficult than installing new leadership.

The extent of corruption in the civil service and the complacency of the news media are the ultimate impediments to honest government. It's that simple. Shame on the lot of them.

Posted by Debbye at 06:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Canadians troops injuried in Kabul

Sept. 15 - They hold the line so others can be free, and too often at a price: Two Canadian soldiers were injured in Kabul by a roadside bomb during a routine patrol in preparation for Sunday's elections. Details are sketchy, but thankfully the injuries are said to be minor.

This attack is yet another in a series intended to prevent consensual government in a Muslim nation and coincides with the terror attacks in Iraq yesterday and today.

Posted by Debbye at 05:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 09, 2005

Liberal Party Corruption, Act II, Scene 2

July 9 - The following item appeared July 7 in the Globe and Mail and is all the more interesting when put into context with suspicions about Canadian PM Paul Martin's ties with Earncliffe [Act II, Scene 1.] Firm headed by Martin aide got $92,082 for medicare poll:

OTTAWA -- The federal government hired a communications firm with close ties to Prime Minister Paul Martin to track public opinion through every twist and turn of last fall's health-care summit between Mr. Martin and the provincial premiers.

The survey by Veraxis research and communications, which is headed by senior Martin adviser David Herle, tested support for the various proposals being considered, as well as who would bear the blame if the talks were to fall apart.


Among the survey's listed objectives were to "monitor change in public opinion throughout the course of the FMM [first ministers meeting]."

When that survey ended, the department commissioned another poll by the Strategic Counsel, which is now The Globe and Mail's pollster, at a cost of $162,142 to track public opinion throughout the week after the summit through phone calls and focus groups.

Conservative health critic Stephen Fletcher, who observed the summit first hand, said the government's use of rolling polls is "unbelievable."

Mr. Fletcher said it appears the Liberals are using Health Canada dollars to help craft partisan messages for the Liberals.


Mr. Herle, who was formerly with Earnscliffe Research and Communications, was the Liberal Party's election campaign manager.

The article contained details of the poll but that is hardly the point: Adscam [Act I] blew open when it was revealed that those receiving the commissions had done little or no work, not when it was revealed that the work they were doing was frivolous. Will the use of taxpayer money to do advance work for the Liberal Party achieve scandal status?

In truth, there aren't many Canadians who will deny that it's time to throw the bums out, but many are convinced that Harper is "scary." I'm tempted to agree: his willingness to go along with the Liberal Party and throw more money into failed programs as well as his denouncement of a "two tiered" health system worries me, but of course that's not what people here mean. But a recent post by The Hack places the Scary Factor in a global context and the conclusion will surprise many.

According to one Canadian, Harper is not right-wing at all in a global context but left of that which is defined as right-wing in many countries. The Hack quotes a fascinating letter by James Allan that appeared in the National Post. Mr. Allan is a Canadian who lived in New Zealand and Australia for nearly 20 years and he brings some long-need perspective to this whole "scary" argument:

But here's the odd thing. In global terms, it's simply not true. Take today's Tories and Stephen Harper out of Canada and plunk them in New Zealand and they would be to the left of Helen Clark's Labour government. Down in New Zealand, there is a two-tier health system; there are civil unions but no gay marriage; the economy is far less heavily regulated in terms of labour laws, tax policy and tariffs than anything Harper is proposing.

The same goes for Australia. Compare the policies of the left-wing Labour Party there (on defence, immigration, the environment, health, education, you name it) to Canadian Tories' policies and Harper consistently stands to the left of Australian Labour, not the right.

And this is the same Tory party that is demonized in Canada for being "too right wing." Frankly, it was disorienting to return to Canada and to be met, continually, with this total lack of global perspective.

It's gotta hurt for Canadians to be told that they lack global perspective, but it gets worse:
All I can say to that is that people down in Australia and New Zealand, even in the U.K., must be made of sterner stuff. They would never rejoice in such self-emasculation.
That's really hitting below the, er, never mind.

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

July 02, 2005

Oh, Canada

July 2 - Excellent post by Flea - He's tipped - in which he links to a post which sadly observes the lack of coherent policies in matters other than gay marriage by the Conservative Party of Canada.

The post linked to this one from N=1 who wrote some follow-up posts here, here and here. I would strongly urge Americans to read these posts, as - and I honestly mean no disrespect by this - Canadian conservatives are to some extent freed from the personal concerns of war to examine and debate issues over which we are less focused but which we should not entirely ignore.

Although I have a great deal of admiration for Stephen Harper personally and although terming a union between gay couples "marriage" is not as important to me as to others, I was worried when opposition to gay marriage was the rallying point around which the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative parties merged yet, as I believed there were sound reasons around which to form a political party to oppose Liberal rule, I hoped they would be able to build the party on the basis of principled opposition to the imposition of nanny statism.

Regarding the issue of gay marriage in the U.S., I am opposed to a Constitutional amendment that defines marriage (I don't think it is properly a Constitutional issue) but must admit that it has at least initiated some serious discussion over the issue, something that was missing up here as it was imposed - rightly or wrongly - by judicial fiat.

I may have been unprepared to expand my definition of marriage beyond the traditional one of being a union between a man and a woman, but it is something I know I will come to accept especially now that it has become law in Canada. Legislating it as a right and then later removing it is not something I believe I can accept because I don't believe it would be just.

Like many others, I take issue with the manner in which it came to become law but we've got out own Supreme Court issues and I am far more concerned over the recent U.S. Supreme Court Kelo decision which stripped personal property rights than the Canadian Supreme Court which awarded personal rights and am much more willing to fight the Kelo ruling than Bill C-38 (although Angry could be right, and this is will provoke contingent issues that will deepen Canadian polarization - although I fail to see how any potential challenge to monogamy can in truth be connected to recognition of gay marriage; the definition of marriage remains, in law, as being between two people.)

To put it more concisely, the decision in Kelo vs. New London has put things in perspective. Kelo clarifies that the true battleground is that of personal freedom and property rights vs. the encroachment of the state - which actually believes it has rights not accorded to it by the people - and not that of loving gay couples who want their committment to one another to be acknowledged by the state and, I suspect as importantly, by the people.

The failure of the CPC to assert itself confidently and aggressively in matters other than gay marriage at a period when Canadians are confronting increasingly higher taxes, the disaster of their health care system, the decay of their armed forces and the corruption not only of the ruling Liberal Party but of government itself has been disappointing. It is comparable to the Sept. 10 mentality of Democrats; if they truly believe that gay marriage is the most important issue facing Canadians then they are seriously out of touch with the fundamental issues facing people up here and almost as unfit to run the country as the Liberals.

The Conservative Party up here has behaved much like the Democrats in that both restrict themselves to opposing rather than proposing and thus have failed to electrify voters with vision and solutions. When will either of them grow up? The people of both countries deserve better.

July 3 - 17:20: Maybe I failed to make my one main point about gay marriage strongly enough:

To reiterate: the one prospect I find insupportable is that of allowing gays to marry yet a future Conservative Party government suddenly declaring those marriages null and void. Try to put yourselves in the position of marrying, making plans for a future together and even making joint financial investments and then imagine being told your marriage is no longer legitimate.

Forget the circusy atmosphere we see on television and some of the wilder "activists" showcased by a sensationalist media and focus on the human face of this issue. Gay couples love one another - in probably the same variables of intensity and committment as straight couples - and I believe their love is entitled to respect.

The damage to the institution of marriage was done long before gays emerged from the closet. We can blame easier divorces, the pill, Roe vs. Wade, or the sexual revolution and even the "disposable society" but we simply cannot with any honesty blame gays much less instituting gay marriage.

Continuing to oppose gay marriage now that it has passed in Parliament is much too much like the "selected not elected" crowd that has disrupted U.S. politics far too much in our recent past, and the CPC is likely to face the same kind of backlash that Democrats encountered in '04.

Lastly, a suspicious person (like me) might wonder if the focus on gay marriage as The Most Important Issue of the Day is intentionally diverting attention from other bread-and-butter issues.

There are serious challenges facing Canada and the CPC should endeavour to propose solutions to them. At the risk of getting cyber-slammed, I really think they need to "move on" and exhibit some freaking leadership.

Posted by Debbye at 09:33 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

June 16, 2005

Double-dealing in Librano-land

June 16 - The Judge is Angry:

MONTREAL - First, it was Jean Chretien taking John Gomery to court. Now, Justice Gomery is taking Paul Martin to court.

What gives? Gomery is annoyed that the Martin government had a secret exchange of letters with Chretien's lawyers acknowledging that even as the former prime minister dropped his court case alleging Gomery's bias against him, he could make the same accusations later after the release of the judge's findings.

Gomery didn't know about the letter. He read about it in the papers. And he's furious. The Martin government professes to support him, but it looks as if it was undermining him.

The May 30 letter was signed by federal government lawyer Brian Saunders, but as far as the Gomery Commission is concerned, it was approved by the Clerk of the Privy Council, Alex Himelfarb. Mere government lawyers, acting on their own, don't make deals on behalf of one prime minister with another.

By coincidence, or not, May 30 was the same day Chretien's lawyers withdrew his case, removing a very inconvenient obstacle from the Martin government's path to political recovery.

Gomery was having none of it. The next day the judge said he would take the Martin government to the Federal Court to clear the air about his alleged bias, before he sits down to write his findings and recommendations. His lawyer, Lorne Morphy, complained in a letter to the government that the exchange of letters with Chretien puts "Justice Gomery and the commission in an extremely delicate position" and that to have the allegations of bias hanging out there "is, simply put, unacceptable."

Newsbeat1 has the excerpts from yesterday's Question Period on this issue here.

Posted by Debbye at 01:00 PM | Comments (6)

That damned gun registry again

June 16 - Audit targets firearm registry:

OTTAWA -- Costs for the controversial gun registry program could continue to "spiral out of control" unless the government takes steps to curb spending, an external audit warns.

The financial report compiled by Hill and Knowlton for the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, obtained under Access to Information by Conservative MP Garry Breitkreuz, recommends the government shift the Canada Firearms Centre to another larger department to wrestle down costs.

I have a much better idea of what to do with that infernal registry.

Posted by Debbye at 11:58 AM | Comments (1)

A bewildering number of lawsuits

June 16 - My question about the libel suit against David Frum has been answered - in spades. Many thanks to Candace for finding this discussion thread on the Frum column and for digging up an older item on Adscam-related lawsuits.

I'll state this up front: I believe it is up to bloggers to stand by and defend these commentators. It pisses me off beyond reason that their colleagues are not doing so, but things are what they are in Canada these days and it won't be the first time bloggers were trailblazers.

Frum wrote he has been served with papers accusing him of libel.

There are confirmed reports that National Post columnist Andrew Coyne and reporter Laurent Soumis of the Journal de Montreal have also been served and, although I have yet to find confirmation, CTV's Mike Duffy and Warren Kinsella may also have been served. (Note that I have no way of ascertaining if these four as the ones to which Frum was referring and there are in fact good reason to doubt this is the case.)

Of necessity this is a fairly long post so click on the extended entry for more, but I'm putting Kate's opening on this side of the post because she tears a deservedly giant strip off the feckless Canadian media:

In any sane democratic country, a slap suit against an opinion columnist by a government operative would provoke outrage and non-stop editorials in the mainstream press. The item would be leading the newscasts, with punditry convening soberly on our TV screens. Reporter scrums would pepper government leaders to explain their actions in curtailling that most hallowed (in their eyes) of all freedoms - freedom of the press.

But of course, this is Canada - a nation of "natural governing" one-party rule in which a "living" constitution permits such limits on speech as are consistant with a Liberal Kleptocracy.

So, as the Liberals draft laws that push more and more areas of government operation outside the reach of Freedom of Information requests, weaken protections for whistleblowers, when they brazenly refuse to acknowledge the defeat of their government in non-confidence motions and ignore the Auditor Generals concerns about billions of tax dollars being funneled into unaccountable foundations - the Lloyd Robertsons and Peter Mansbridges busy themselves studiously studying Stephen Harper's facial expressions and providing Canadians "Better News Through Polling" .

They remain virtually silent on the assaults on members of their own profession - silent, because for the most part, the majority of mainstream media in Canada functions as nothing short of a communications arm of the Liberal Party. In other words, they see themselves as nothing less than an unelected arm of government.

I'd ask that Americans readers try (and I know it's hard) to keep in mind that the truth is not relevant in libel suits up here. Also keep in mind that, as I am constitutionally incapable of understanding the libel laws up here because they conflict with my cultural bias toward inherent rights, I have no idea if any of the statements allegedly made by the defendents are libelous under Canadian law.

I don't know if this column is what prompted Tim Murphy to have Andrew Coyne served, but anyone who has read his blog and columns knows that Coyne is damned good at linking to his sources of information and writes well-reasoned columns and posts. I could see why they would want to silence him if we lived in Iran or Zimbabwe, but we don't.

I can't ensure the veracity of this post at the CNEWS forum, but it served as a damned good starting point to pursue the other threads of this story and I was able to confirm at least part of its information.

On the libel suit against David Frum:

Terrie O'Leary vs National Post, CanWest Publications and David Frum: Sent libel notice related to the May 17 edition of the National Post in which Frum wrote, "They might observe that he never manipulated government contracts to direct business in a firm run by his chief of staff's boyfriend." O'Leary claims that the statement is defamatory and calculated to disparage her both as a person and in her former capacity as Executive Asst. to the Minister of Finance of Canada.
I don't know if this is the cause of Frum's notice, but the ironically titled May 17 column Averting Their Eyes from Scandal - Since 1993, Ottawa's Press Corps Has Been Taking a Nice, Long Nap can still be read online. (Links for the the hearings on the Earnscliffe contracts are here and here.)

Mike Duffy of CTV is also rumoured to be sued:

Liberal Party organizer/PMO staffer Karl Littler vs Mike Duffy CTV: Suing for defamation over remarks Duffy made about Littler visiting strip clubs and engaging in improper and unlawful behaviour due to his position as an official of the Liberal Party and Deputy Chief of Staff to PM. Seeking $250 thousand in general damages, $50 thousand in punitive damages.
The remarks were probably made on air so there isn't a link (at least one that I could find.) The best I found was a CTV article in this post from Angry about whistleblower Allan Cutler and staffer Karl Littler (but there's nothing about strip clubs in it.)

And yet another journalist:

BCP Communications, John Parisella, Yves Gougoux vs Sun Media, Canoe and Laurent Soumis: Suing for defamation over May 12 article written by Soumis. The article linked BCP to allegations that Liberal Party election expenses were paid out of the sponsorship program. Seeking $250 thousand in real damages from each defendant, $100 thousand in exemplary damages from each defendant.
I couldn't find a May 12 article in the English Canoe archives, but the Canoe search feature turned up confirmation of the lawsuit against Laurent Soumis in .pdf here and other search results of articles by Sourmis (in French) are here. A quick check in Google turned up this translated item from CBC Radio Canada on testimony about BCP here but it consists mostly of denials.

Frum reported here

Along with at least four other public commentators, I have recently been served with libel papers by a leading figure in this story.
Frum declined to state the name of his accuser so I am going to respect Frum's reticence and not play pin the tail on the donkey.

Blogger Warren Kinsella is supposedly being sued over what he wrote on his blog:

Terrie O'Leary, Earnscliffe Research and Communications vs Warren Kinsella: Libel notices issued to Kinsella and warrenkinsella.com on behalf of Earnscliffe and to Andrew Davis over his reprinting and highlighting of transcript from his appearance before the Public Accts. Committee.
The hearings were published and televised, but for all I know there could be some law forbidding Kinsella to write about it. (If this is true it is worthy of Bizarro World.)

Somewhat unsurprisingly, Kinsella may also be suing on his own behalf:

Warren Kinsella vs Scott Reid: In his blog Kinsella has indicated that he would sue the PMO official for suggesting that he had committed perjury in his appearance before the Public Accts. Committee last month.
Hey, anyone can play! The CPC is suing Immigration Minister John Volpe:
Conservative MP Lee Richardson vs Immigration Minister Joe Volpe: Libel notice filed against Volpe after Volpe associated Mr. Richardson and the Conservative Party with the Ku Klux Klan.
And of course we musn't forget the suits filed by fired patronage appointees Jean Pelletier, Marc LeFrancois, and Alfonso Gagliano who are suing the Canadian government because they deem their reputations were besmirched due to their alleged involvements in Adscam. I don't want to be sued so I'd best not speculate if these lawsuits are Golden Handshakes Librano Style.

Lastly, the Canadian government is suing various people over Adscam (although I don't see Jacques Corriveau on that list.)

Francois Beaudoin won his lawsuit and, more importantly, was vindicated, but what of Miriam Bedard who was crudely attacked by her former boss Pelletier and for which he was supposedly dismissed? (see 2 paragraphs up and remember: Bizarro World.)

Lastly, the Chretien threat to challenge to Judge Gomery is still hanging like a Damocles Sword over the Inquiry and Liberal lawyers are urging Judge Gomery to exonerate both Chretien and Martin.

Posted by Debbye at 09:26 AM | Comments (5)

Canada criticized by U.N. committee on arbitrary detention

May 16 - UN group condemns Canada:

OTTAWA (CP) - A UN committee says it is gravely concerned about Canada's system of jailing suspected terrorists without trial using national security certificates.

The UN committee on arbitrary detention, which is visiting Canada at the federal government's invitation, said persons detained under security certificates are denied the right to a fair hearing.


The committee noted that all four of the people currently detained under security certificates are Arab Muslims, and one of them has been detained for five years.

All four of the suspects now in detention argue they face a risk of torture if returned to their homelands.

The timing of these criticisms coincides with accusations by the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations that security forces have used unacceptable intimidation when investigating terrorism. Shaken refutes the allegations quite admirably.

But everything happens in threes, right? So of course it's only now being reported that last February yet another member of the Khadr family had come under scrutiny. This latest involved the seizure of Zaynab Khadr's laptop when she landed at Pearson Airport after a trip to Pakistan. The contents of her laptop allegedly included bin Laden tape clips calling for - what else? the murder of Americans. She says she didn't know that the clips and some songs - including one titled "I Am A Terrorist" - were on her computer.

Posted by Debbye at 07:37 AM | Comments (0)

Frum and Steyn on Canada

June 16 - David Frum's A Scandal So Immense is a concise description of events that lead to the political crisis in Canada. He gives just the facts, as they say, and the accumulative impact is immense when viewed in the whole.

By the way, I didn't realize before I read this item that David Frum was among at least five people who have been served with libel papers:

There is though one warning I'd better immediately deliver to readers: Along with at least four other public commentators, I have recently been served with libel papers by a leading figure in this story. ..
Is this public knowledge? I could well have missed reading about it during the past couple of days, but I thought I had kept abreast of most of the big stories.

So even if I'm only the latest in an entire parade of people who have said so, I think it worthwhile to go on record and state that this is outrageous. These suits may well be nuisance suits, but, if only by their stifling effect, they constitute an explicit threat to press freedoms and freedom of speech.

Back to the main subject, Frum touches on some key points over this recent period. On corruption:

Some of that money ended up in the pockets of influential Liberals, allegedly including the brother of former prime minister Jean Chretien. Some was kicked back to the Liberal party and its campaign workers. The Gomery inquiry has also revealed a disturbing nexus--that's a word to which no lawyer can object--between senior figures in the Liberal party and organized crime.
On the Gomery Inquiry:
Then Judge Gomery took his hearings onto cable TV. Night after night, Canadians heard firsthand stories of tens of thousands of dollars in cash left in envelopes on restaurant tables, of alleged Mafia figures giving orders to party chairmen, of kickbacks, bribes, and fraud. ..
On Paul Martin and how he secured the votes to survive the budget vote:
Paul Martin has always benefited immensely from his reputation as the Mr. Clean of the Liberal party. ..

The first thing he had to do was trample on Canada's constitutional traditions. ..


And then Canadians learned the reason why: Over the period that the Martin government had been losing vote after vote in the House, it had been secretly negotiating with the disappointed loser of the Conservative party's 2004 leadership contest, Belinda Stronach, the billionaire heiress to an auto-parts and land-development fortune.

I've only quoted bits and it deserves to be read in full, especially the five reasons he offers to explain the public's reluctance for a change in government. (Link via Newsbeat1.)

Mark Steyn tells of reading The Globe and Mail on a recent airplane flight. He's not overly complimentary. Then he spies a video monitor which instructs “To begin, press EXIT.”

From Exit strategy by Mark Steyn:

The Liberal Party of Canada” isn’t the catchiest name for a Quebec biker gang. .. it’s essentially engaged in the same activities as the other biker gangs: the Grits launder money; they enforce a ruthless code of omerta when fainthearted minions threaten to squeal; they threaten to whack their enemies; they keep enough cash on hand in small bills of non-sequential serial numbers to be able to deliver suitcases with a couple hundred grand hither and yon; and they sluice just enough of the folding stuff around law enforcement agencies to be assured of co-operation. The Mounties’ Musical Ride received $3 million from the Adscam funds, but, alas, the RCMP paperwork relating to this generous subsidy has been, in keeping with time-honoured Liberal book-keeping practices, “inadvertently lost.”
After a nice transition to a bit where he reminds us that the Westminster system depends on a certain modesty and circumspection from the political class he suggests an exit strategy.

Posted by Debbye at 07:24 AM | Comments (5)

June 15, 2005

Those Grewal tapes (still)

June 15 - Whether they are altered, edited, or doctored, the Grewal tapes are still controversial.

Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe seems to believe the contents of the tape are genuine, and says the Liberals are lying:

Duceppe said the prime minister has systematically refused to answer questions about when he became aware of backroom discussions with Tory MP Gurmant Grewal.

"When did he know? Did Paul Martin participate in a criminal act?" Duceppe said yesterday outside Parliament.

"He refuses to answer. And it's been a while. We're getting tired of being lied to, right in our face (by Liberals). "They're lying in the House. They're lying to the public."

Top Liberals were heard on tape discussing career opportunities with Grewal in exchange for missing a May 19 confidence vote.

The opposition insists the talks with Grewal were possible violations of anti-corruption provisions in the Criminal Code.

Martin spokesman Scott Reid said the Bloc leader is basing false allegations on doctored tapes.

The tapes are in the custody of the RCMP, and they will eventually get around to examining them (snark.)

Posted by Debbye at 02:05 PM | Comments (4)

Good news! The mob scares Canadians more than we do!

June 15 - If you find this headline shocking then you clearly haven't been paying attention: Canadians see Bush, bin Laden as national security threats. But wait: the facts of the story are far more interesting than it first appears for reasons which, strangely enough, are not explored in the article:

TORONTO -- Canadians believe U.S. President George W. Bush is almost as great a threat to our national security as Osama bin Laden, according to a government opinion poll obtained by the National Post.

The 1,500 people contacted for the poll, conducted last February for the Department of National Defence, listed "International Organized Crime" as the top danger, with 38 per cent ranking it as a great threat to security concern and another 50 per cent listing it as moderate.

But tied for second in the poll were "U.S. Foreign Policy" and "Terrorism," with 37 per cent rating it a great risk. Just behind those worries came "Climate Change and Global Warming." (Emphasis added)

Organized crime worries Canadians, but the article doesn't touch on that but rushes over to the number 2 concern.
Experts said the results reflected a continuing "schizophrenia" in the Canadian public's attitudes towards defence -- still worried about international terrorism even three years after the Sept. 11 attacks, but also concerned about the power and aggressive policies of the Americans.
One expert (me) says that the continuing schizophrenia is manifested by an exclusive focus on the second highest rated threat rather than the first.
The poll, by Ekos Research Associates Inc., surveyed Canadians' attitudes towards a wide range of defence, military and national security issues, part of an annual public opinion polling process by the Department of National Defence.

It was considered accurate within 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Most of those contacted for the poll had "great confidence" in the Canadian Forces' ability to respond to natural disasters in Canada, but only 25 per cent felt the same way about how our military would handle a terrorist attack on Canadian soil.

That's just sad. It's akin to feeling confident about the ability of the fire department to rescue a cat stuck up in a tree but not about their ability to handle fires.
The poll suggested other security concerns preying at the public's mind include "Weapons of Mass Destruction," listed as a great danger by 30 per cent of those surveyed, and "Potential Weaponization of Space," which 26 per cent of those polled found a great concern.

Health threats, such as the SARS outbreak of 2003, nuclear threats, natural disasters and countries in turmoil, such as Sudan or Haiti, were the least worrisome threats according to the poll.

Potential Weaponization of Space. Right. That is clearly of far more concern than genocide in Sudan. (Now you know why prices for tin foil have risen.)

Still, I find it odd that organized crime would rate as a higher cause of concern than U.S. foreign policy and terrorism, unless (and this is a long shot) respondents have take the "Librano" definition to heart, in which case the poll results may be more interesting than the article lets on.

14:22: Via Neale News, according to the latest Angus Reid Consultants poll, health care is the top concern of Canadians followed by poor government and leadership issues.

International issues / War / Peace are way at the bottom at 2%, tied with Unemployment, Same sex marriage and Crime / law and order.

Don't you just love polls?

Posted by Debbye at 05:54 AM | Comments (17)

Protecting the border

June 15 - Canada: Armed Agents Needed on U.S. Border:

While U.S. Border Patrol agents along the frontier are armed, officers of the Canada Border Services Agency are not allowed to carry firearms. They currently are instructed to call the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or local police if they run into a threat and, as officers testified before the committee, that help is often extremely slow in coming.

"The committee has reluctantly come to the conclusion that if the federal government is not willing or able to provide a constant police presence at Canada's border crossings, current border inspectors must be given the option of carrying firearms," the report says. (Emphasis added)

Another proposal calls for Canada to allow up to $2,000 in duty-free goods from the United States by 2010, freeing up customs agents to focus on potential threats to security rather than acting as tax collectors.

"Canada needs a system within which personnel on the crossings are border officers first and clerks second — the reverse of the current situation," the report says. "Raising personal exemptions for travelers will help border officers better direct their attention to border security rather than revenue collection." (Emphasis added)

Double ouch.

Posted by Debbye at 02:52 AM | Comments (1)

June 12, 2005

Those Grewal tapes

June 12 - Does one really have to be a rocket scientist to see the blindingly obvious? I can well believe that Tory support plummets because the poll (surprise, surpise) focused attention on a secondary issue.

Decima also asked the respondents to its poll, which is considered accurate within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points 19 times in 20, to indicate whose version of events they believed in the Grewal affair. Specifically, they were asked who they believed initiated the discussions about Mr. Grewal crossing the floor.

About 25 per cent sided with the Liberals, who said the Conservative MP initiated the conversation, compared with 23 per cent siding with Mr. Grewal, who said he was called by the Liberals.

If we are to take it as a given that there are serious questions about Grewal's ethics, then the proper question is why on earth Prime Minister Martin's chief of staff Tim Murphy and Minister of Health Ujjal Dosanjh were even talking to him to about crossing the floor, yet this poll sidesteps that issue.

Who made the first overture is not the point; what is alarming is that discussions were held with someone who is supposedly under investigation for misconduct in an immigration matter, and the final discussion on the tapes were held in Grewal's office, which means that Tim Murphy was pursuing the discussions and was free to leave at any point.

Although we often refer to Canada as a one-party state, one thing we overlook is that, in a one-party state, the only way to "get ahead" is to be a member of that party.

Perhaps that's why Benoit Corbeil's allegations that lawyers routinely traded "volunteering" for Liberal party candidates in return for bench appointments were less shocking than they should have been because we secretly suspected that this was indeed the case and that the appointments were due less to competency than to political connections.

The ethical crisis in Canada lies not so much with the political parties and their elites as with the Canadian (or Ontarian) electorate which has chosen to accept the corruption and patronage appointments as "business as usual" and thus admitted, in effect, that this is the best Canada can ever be.

There is a direct correlations between a country's ideals and how strenuously they attempt to achieve those ideals. When, in the name of sophistication, the citizens of a country fail to strive for honesty and ethics in government, they thereby bequeath to their children mediocrity. That is not a legacy they of which can be proud.

Posted by Debbye at 05:50 PM | Comments (47)

June 09, 2005

Poundmaker update

June 9 - The Poundmaker protest continues but they are running out of money and the car they relied on for transportation has broken down.

Darcey has a brief update and adds

I am guessing they would appreciate moral support so be sure to take some time and email your greetings to Tyrone to pass on: tyrone45 at nativeweb.net.
He linked to this analysis by Lance of Catprint in the Mash which makes several good points about the specifics of the electoral process which laid the groundwork for the protest and how the deficiencies of that process are being challenged. (I would quote some excellent portions, but I can't seem to copy excerpts alone.)

Short version: they are taking peaceful, legal action to redress their grievances. Would that the rest of Canada took note.

Sorry about the light posting - I slept through the day (yay!) and have to hit the road.

Posted by Debbye at 08:32 PM | Comments (1)

June 08, 2005

"Madison" and "Adams" join the Monarchist

June 8 - I hope Americans and Canadians have been sufficiently intrigued by the links to The Monarchist to continue to read their current outpouring and read their archives.

There are welcoming some new members of that team with familiar names: Madison and Adams, who charges right in with An Atheistic Individualist Defense of Monarchism. (He doesn't say, but I assume the writer is invoking John, not Samuel, Adams.)

The sorest grievance of our Founding Fathers was that they were denied their rights as free Englishmen, and that could not and would not be borne. I think that this Adams incarnation can safely be regarded as one who found a sympathetic hearing from the Crown and Parliament, which brings to bear the "what if" line of historical reasoning which is somewhat applicable in a Canada which was populated by Loyalists but who retained nonetheless a recognition of their duties and rights as Englishmen in this country.

[I mean no disrespect to Quebeckers or Acadians, yet I think it accurate to say that the philosophical connotations of being "free Englishmen" is deeply ingrained in the unfolding of the political histories of the U.S.A. and Canada - at least pre-Trudeau - which is the only basis on which an Adams might still be arguing on behalf of the monarchy. ]

I realize that the teaching of American history has changed a great deal since (ahem) my day, but, if we are to reclaim our heritage, the full recognition of what our traditions and institutions owe to Mother England must be acknowledged and respected, and it wouldn't hurt Canadians to do the same.

Yet at the end of the day, I am an American and thus willing to place my hopes in the works and dreams of men, not the intervention of monarchs however benign and most definitely not in the intervention of someone appointed without Parliamentary review to represent that monarch.

Nonetheless, the site has some of the most thought-provoking essays I've read, and I don't think I'm being overly complimentary when I compare their work to that of Stephen den Beste. I'm only speaking for myself, but some of the essays I've read have resulted in my leaving the computer to pace and reflect on the points they've made.

There are aspects of the Parliamentary system which jar an American consciousness. There are no fixed terms, but that is supposed to provide a different kind of check - yet a check nonetheless - on tyranny:

What the Liberals don't seem to understand is that it is not for the government to determine if it has the confidence of the House, it is the members of the House who make that determination. And a majority of them have just voted for the government to resign on a procedural motion, which obviously constitutes a very serious challenge to the continued legitimacy of their authority to govern this country. The only way for them to get out of this mess now, is to seek clarification from the House at the earliest possible opportunity (as in today), that they still have the democratic and constitutional authority to carry on.
Yet that clarification was delayed until the vote was rigged, which leaves Canada in a limbo state that far too few in Ontario recognize.

I took a Canadian history class, and (perhaps unfortunately) exposed my far too open American nature when I expressed disbelief on learning that such was not mandatory in the Ontario school system. That may explain part of the reason Canadians did not take to the streets when the Martin Rogue Government failed to "seek clarification from the House" at the earliest opportunity - too few realized that respect for parliamentary safeguards as well as protocol demanded the Liberals call that vote immediately and not at a time of their choosing.

We Americans cannot afford to be smug on this: our own school systems have failed to provide comprehensive civics classes which would give our younger citizens a working framework to understand the traditions and workings of our own government, and we should look to the current crisis in Canada as a red flag moment for our own country.

One example: you will not find the phrase "separation of church and state" anywhere in the Constitution, yet far too many Americans believe it resides there, and some of those misguided citizens are lawyers and journalists who ought to know better.

For Canadian readers, it is not so necessary to agree with views advocated by the essayists of The Monarchist as it is to read and study them. Such writings in my country came to be known as a collection of works called "The Federalist Papers" which informs our consciousness to this day, and as Canada finds herself on the brink of an identity crisis, it might be useful to be open to more than one frame of mind before declaring the debate ended.

Posted by Debbye at 05:26 AM | Comments (11)

June 05, 2005

The Tipping Point, Part II

June 5 - Americans may well wonder that a blog titled The Monarchist has produced some of the most stirring and urgent writings on behalf of liberty in Canada that I've ever read.

(In truth, I wonder myself but I am also bemused by my own feelings for and loyalty to a Queen whose ancestor was utterly reviled by my ancestors so have just filed that contradiction away in the belief that insight will come in its own time.)

Walsingham wrote a follow-up to the widely acclaimed Tipping Point (which dispensed with any last beliefs that all Canadians are inherently passive) and in The Tipping Point - Part II, the basic framework of consensual government and how the federal government have broken that bond is reinforced:

Because the truth is this: in democratic government, process not only matters, it is central. It matters more than anything else; more than any specific outcome that it might produce. The “true left” should understand that it is not simply that a corrupted process that worked against the right - and the West, and Quebec - this time around; might well work against them the next time. They should understand that faith in a process that is open, fair and consistent - i.e., in a government that is representative and responsible - is the only thing, other than tyranny and coercion, which can hold a society together for any length of time. Free men will consent to submit their wills to those of others only when they believe that they do so as the outcome of a process in which they have been heard, on a fair and equal footing, along with all others; and - most critically - that that same process will turn their way, if and when they come to command majority support. Nothing will dissolve the bonds and restraints that make a democratic society function – presuming, of course, that the society is composed of men and women who retain the capacity to be affronted by insult and injustice – faster than the discovery, by any semi-defined and quasi-permanent constituency, that the process is rigged against them.
Americans should recognize that argument; it was our permanent disenfranchisement that lay at the heart of the War of Independence.

I have to go to work and wonder at my co-workers who are more afraid of Stephen Harper than those in government who have stripped them of their rights as free people.

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

What do you do when you wake up on Planet X?

June 5 - Answer: start a blog and call it Waking Up On Planet X!

As Candace explains, I fell asleep in a democracy ...

It is always cause to celebrate when insightful commenters choose to strike out on their own and start blogs, and given the political situation in Canada and the inclination of the media to elide (at best) or applaud (at worst) the brazen acts of this government, the voices of those who oppose the dismantling of democratic safeguards and the destruction of those institutions meant to separate partisan ends from the country's needs are the more urgently needed.

Welcome, Candace!

Posted by Debbye at 08:09 AM | Comments (2)

What do you do when you wake up on Planet X?

June 5 - Answer: start a blog and call it Waking Up On Planet X!

As Candace explains, I fell asleep in a democracy ...

It is always cause to celebrate when insightful commenters choose to strike out on their own and start blogs, and given the political situation in Canada and the inclination of the media to elide (at best) or applaud (at worst) the brazen acts of this government, the voices of those who oppose the dismantling of democratic safeguards and the destruction of those institutions meant to separate partisan ends from the country's needs are the more urgently needed.

Welcome, Candace!

Posted by Debbye at 08:09 AM | Comments (2)

Joseph Stephanides - fall guy?

June 5 - Fired U.N. Official Seen as Fall Guy. Ya think?

My mind is too full of similarities between Adscam and the OFF scandals to articulate them, and the involvement of Canadians Louise Frechette, Reid Morden and Maurice Strong bodes ill.

Now we can add another set-back to Canada's self-image as a caring society: Canada Free Press has an expose of yet another indication of the Strong family's hypocrisies, this time involving Oxfam, which uses Chinese slave labour to make their anti-povery wristbands.

Posted by Debbye at 03:01 AM | Comments (1)

June 04, 2005

Canadian Voices

June 4 - The Grewal tapes exposed something horribly wrong in this country. We've grieved and gotten angry, but that isn't enough.

There are some people out there determined to bring honour and integrity back to Canada, and a lot of them are at Harper Liberals .

Everyone has a different breaking point. These people have reached theirs.

Posted by Debbye at 01:41 PM | Comments (3)

June 03, 2005

What Martin has learned from this period

June 3 - This morning I read that the PM vows to clean up mess:

MONTREAL (CP) - The Liberal party's efforts to rebuild its electoral fortunes in Quebec were reinforced Thursday evening with Prime Minister Paul Martin vowing not to let those responsible for the sponsorship scandal ruin the party's reputation for
honesty? decency? integrity? open government? adherence to Western standards of democracy? No, something ever so much more important:
rehabilitating the country's finances.

"We, the Liberals, put our government finances in order," he told a party fundraiser where an estimated 1,200 supporters each paid $500 to dine on grilled salmon.

"And we didn't do it so that a group of people could tarnish the reputation of our party and cause people to lose confidence in our country's political class."

WTF? Canadian confidence in the political class relied on a balanced budget? Was that why money was stripped from the provinces and the health care system crashed? Or maybe why there was a $41 billion overcharge on the pension plan? Or why the gas surtax, which was supposed to go toward highway maintenance, didn't? How about the extra charges levied on VHS tapes to promote Canadian artists? Surcharge on airline tickets to cover increased security costs? Missing HRDC funds? Gun-freaking-registry?

It was all about the balanced budget! (Now there's a slogan you don't often see on a protest placard.)

The Martin Comedy Revue continues:

Martin, who said he understood the disappointment of Quebecers and Liberals caused by the scandal, vowed to subsequently introduce measures to prevent a repetition of such abuses.
Been there, heard that. Specifics?
"As prime minister, I will do everything in my power to ensure that your government deserves your respect."
Ah, you see, that's part of the problem: the Prime Minister's Office has too much power. How about returning power to the House of Commons where it, you know, actually belongs! No?
Transport Minister Jean Lapierre told the gathering that the event demonstrated that the Liberal party is financed openly and not behind closed doors.
How does a salmon dinner prove that? Because it isn't a golf tournament? I suppose it is nice to know they can organize fund-raising dinners without Joe Morselli or Jacques Corriveau, but can they run a campaign without "fake volunteers?"
"We have nothing to hide. Our books are open and our hands are clean," said Martin's Quebec lieutenant, who was joined at the event by cabinet ministers from across the country, including Conservative-turned-Liberal Belinda Stronach, who received a standing ovation.
I'm going to be sick. Back in a sec.
"Tonight is the beginning of the reconstruction of the Liberal party throughout Quebec. We will rebound in Quebec thanks to the unwavering integrity of our leader, Prime Minister Paul Martin," Lapierre said.
And rebound in Saskatchewan! and in Newfoundland! and in Alber ... (maybe not.) Is he actually channeling Howard Dean? That would be really icky.
Recent opinion polls suggest, however, that the party faces an uphill climb to regain public support in Martin's home province. The Bloc Quebecois has consistently received about 50 per cent of support in polls, suggesting it was headed to winning a record number of Quebec's 75 seats.
If Martin's "unwavering integrity" is the best they can offer then there will be no challenge to the Bloc, because opinion polls cast doubt that voters believe he posseses any integrity, wavering or otherwise.
The audience delighted in Martin's attack on Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe and Conservative Leader Stephen Harper for their "underhanded dealings" that he said are threatening the country's stability.
Clearly the crowd appreciated satire.
Martin said if Bloc MPs wanted to defend Quebec's interests, they would have supported the budget, which contains millions of dollars in annual spending for the province.
What is "bribe" in French? Never mind, the important thing is that Quebeckers recognized it as one and refused to be swayed by baubles and beads.
"Their objective is to destroy the country," the prime minister said. "And in that, they will never succeed."
Because the Liberals have that market cornered!
As for Harper, Martin questioned how the Tory leader can explain "his common agenda with the separatists."
You're losing 'em, dude. Everyone in the room knows why Harper and Duceppe joined forces: to get rid of you and your crooks. Try another tack.
Martin said the interests of Quebecers have been defended by Liberal MPs, senators and ministers who have spearheaded Canada's positions against participating in the U.S. anti-missile shield and in favour of ratifying the Kyoto protocol.
There you go: anti-Americanism plus "you're so progressive":
"Through its progressive ideals, its social values, and its innovative ways of doing things, Quebec plays a key role within Canada," he said.
So that's why the Liberal Party interfered with the political process in Quebec! They couldn't trust Quebeckers to, no, that doesn't track. Why did they interfere with the process in Quebec again?

The Canadian federal system is flexible and allows provincial experimentation and creativity, Martin added,
That's right, I had forgotten that the federal system is flexible (it's so flexible it can ignore non-conficence motions,) it experiments (it cheats,) it's creative (just check out the Adscam invoices! they even constructed a secret Olympic stadium in Rimouski!)
noting past efforts that produced pension plans and ongoing plans for early learning and child care.

Despite references to internal political battles, Martin spent much of his time outlining Liberal achievements over the past 12 years and the party's plans for the future.

As prime minister, Martin said he will follow his record as finance minister and not run deficits as have the other members of the G8.

"We have learned a very important lesson from this period. We can no longer allow the government to live beyond its means."

That is the very important lesson they have learned from this period: don't live beyond one's means.

To repeat: the Liberal minority government is embroiled in a Constitutional crisis, corruption scandals and may have been caught attempting to bribe an MP, and what did they learn? That the government cannot be allowed to live beyond its means.

PoliSci 101: the government has no means except that which it squeezes from us, the taxpayers, and given what has been promised to the provinces and the NDP, the ways in which this government can avoid a deficit are limited. They can raise taxes or renege on promises -- or both.

But the budget will be balanced. You have Martin's word on it because he knows what Canadians really want. Then all we private citizens have to do is learn to live within our (reduced) means.

Posted by Debbye at 09:22 AM | Comments (8)

June 02, 2005

The end of innocence

June 2 - There couldn't be a worse week to ramp up action at work!

The revelation as to the identity of "Deep Throat" has inadvertantly sharpened the differences between the scandals rocking Canada's Parliament right now and Watergate, and it isn't pretty.

The break-in at the Watergate Hotel eventually revealed illegal wiretaps on political activists, mail tampering, vandalising the Muskie and other campaigns, CIA activity on U.S. soil, and that U.S. presidents since Kennedy had habitually taped telephone conversations. Deplorable as those were, they were mostly acts of agencies that went beyond their mandates and, as a result of the hearings, they were curbed.

That is not what is being revealed in Canada. We should be so lucky up here for the scandals to be about agencies that went beyond their mandates - oh, for the good old days when the RCMP planted dynamite and burnt down barns!

The current scandals are all about personal gain - Adscam is about stealing money, plain and simple. The Liberals offering inducements to MPs to defect and/or abstain on the vote are the acts of a group of people who believe that others are as power-grubbing and mercenary as they are.

That is a poor reflection on Canadians, because the ease with which the Liberals and NDP were able to bribe the provinces and cities is itself an inditement.

When Inky Marks went public, it was pointed out that he had no proof. Grewal got that proof, and he is now being denounced for getting that proof.

It is hardly surprising that accusations of tape-tampering are being leveled, but to my mind the fact that Tim Murphy was in Grewal's office settles the matter: Grewal held the power, so Murphy went to him; Murphy could have walked out at any time; Murphy was in that office because Grewal had something Murphy wanted - a vote.

Had Grewal taped a conversation with a child pornographer in order to get evidence to take to the police he would be hailed as a hero. But he taped conversations that persuade that the worst fears about this government are true: that appointments are handed out as pay-offs - even important positions like Ambassadorships - and if competence is not even a consideration, it explains why government agencies up here are run so poorly. [Note I am not saying that Grewal is incompetent - only that they were going to offer him whatever he wanted, not what he was suited for.]

Watergate was a double-edged sword for Americans. The euphoria of being proven correct - that those funny sounds on our phones, late mail delivery, and strange looks at work were not all due to paranoia - was accompanied with sorrow, because our government had interfered with the right to organize legal, peaceful protests and thus our rights under the First Amendment.

That was the angst of Watergate - learning that being right brings its own costs.

The scandals rocking Canada are all about greed and the lust for power. Those who have long believed the Liberals are corrupt are being proven right, and we are finding it is not a cause to celebrate.

The part that is most perplexing is the failure of Ontarians - and the media - to realize that the Murphy scandal is far more serious than Adscam. The latter is about money, and greed is something we all encounter, but the former is maniuplating the powers of government, and that threatens far more than our pocketbooks.

If Canadians allow this to pass, then truly consensual government in Canada has gone from endangered species to extinction, and I doubt it can be revived by conventional means.

Posted by Debbye at 08:55 PM | Comments (6)

June 01, 2005

The Grewal tapes

June 1 - I've spent a greater portion of the day reading the Grewal tape transcripts and watching CPAC.

Between those and the new revelations as to the identity of Watergate's Deep Throat I am struck by the cosmic forces that have forced these two scandals to interweave in counterpoint.

Nixon's downfall was due to his attempts to protect his people; Martin is trying to do the same. The word "irony" springs to mind.

What can I possibly say? More importantly, what will Canadians say?

The transcripts of the Grewal tapes are in .pdf here, here, here, and here.)

June 3 - And the missing section here.

(Courtesy of Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:13 PM | Comments (9)

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)

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)

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)

May 25, 2005

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)

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 bloc-Harper.com 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 blocharper.com. The first shows the Royal Commonwealth Society of Toronto Foundation as owners of the blocharper.com 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

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)

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)

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

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

"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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

May 09, 2005

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)

May 08, 2005

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

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)

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)

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)

April 23, 2005

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 22, 2005

Saddam, Martin and Strong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 21, 2005

Harper and Duceppe rocked!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The military in Canada

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

Big week

Defence review: first blush

The submarine purchase fiasco.

Good, solid reads.

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

Maurice Strong steps down

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Martin boosted Boulay's contract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alternate link here.

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

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

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

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

From the Globe and Mail, Insider backs Brault story:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Er, right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Alternate link here.)

(Globe and Mail link from Damian.)

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

April 20, 2005

Blogging Tories challenge

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

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

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

Adscam catch-up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maurice Strong under OFF probe scrutiny

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 19, 2005

Kinsella outs Martin in Earnscliffe-gate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NY Times on Canada

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frum ends on a hopeful note:

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

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

(South Park Conservatives link via Neale News.)

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

April 17, 2005


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trying to fix the Canadian Forces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The money trail and recent Adscam testimony

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Salim Mansur asks Remember when honour was important?:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 15, 2005

Website shut down by Calgary police chief

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

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

We'd better keep an eye on this.

(Links via Neale News.)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 14, 2005

Corriveau testimony Day 1

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

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

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

"I did not have lunch with that man!"

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

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

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

Luc Lemay, Day 2

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

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

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

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

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

"No," Lemay answered.

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

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

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

Lemay replied: "Essentially."

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

Brian Daly also writes on Lemay's testimony here:

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

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

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

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

"I never verified these bills," he said.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jacques Corriveau is to testify today.

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

The "fiscal imblance as dark matter"

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

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

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

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

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

Read. It.

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

Neo-Nazi Wolfgang Droege

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 13, 2005

Inquiry moves closer to Chretien's circle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lemay confirmed: "I never verified these bills."

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Election in June? Maybe not!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NY Times on Adscam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

April 12, 2005

Election in June?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 11, 2005

Iran: Blame Canada

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Liberal Scandal Record

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

(Link via Kate.)

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

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

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

April 10, 2005

Corriveau on Tuesday?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Braaten 2 - Liberals 0

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

Time for Canadians to go hmmm

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

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

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

One issue that must be confronted lies in the editorial:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Greg Weston is connecting some dots:

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


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

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

Were palms greased and favours granted? Hmmm.

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

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

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

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

The Justice Department. Somewhere, John Mitchell is smiling.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

So much for democracy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This country drives me nuts.

15:48: Brodbeck column linked. Sorry!

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

American women win hockey gold

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

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

There was one cool note in the story:

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

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

April 08, 2005

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hell's Angels strike back

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

Can't really argue their point!

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

The news Canadians trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 07, 2005

Restoring Ethics to Canadian sensibilities

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

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

Back to Adscam.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Restoring Ethics to Canadian sensibilities

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

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

Back to Adscam.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That publication ban -- lifted!

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

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

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

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

Oh lord, CBC has Jim Travers on.

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

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

CTV coverage of Brault's testimony is here.

Toronto Sun has coverage of the lifting of the ban.

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

Let freedom ring!

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

David Ahenakew

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

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

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

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

NY Times names Captain Ed

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gomery and Adscam and Liberals, oh my!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andrew Coyne sets the scene:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kate keeps on punching: A Tale of Two Accountants

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

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

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

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

April 06, 2005

PQ also got kickbacks

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McClellan Spinning Time (updated)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Link via Neale News.)

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

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

April 05, 2005

Brault testimony, Part II

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

People around the world are being killed in their struggles for freedom and I'm almost ashamed that the worst I face is the loss of some money and, horrors! inconvenience.

Joe Katzman puts Adscam, the publication ban, the power of the blogosphere and some analysis of the choices the Liberal Party must make here. Must read for Americans and Canadians.

If I tried to list the outpourings of posts from Angry in the Great White North and small dead animals I'd never publish, so just start in and read.

Stepping back for a second, I don't believe an election will solve anything. A change in government will be fruitless unless there are substantial changes in the way the patronage system is allowed to bleed taxpayers by rewarding favours with government positions and civil service reforms are enacted. Addendum And what about fiscal accountability, including for those foundations which receive grants from the government but are not subject to audited reviews on that money?

All power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.

There are another thing consideration which would make Canada look beyond stupid. As Andrew Coyne put it, should the publication ban remain and an election be called, We would then be treated to a sight I venture to say has never before been witnessed anywhere in the world: an entire election devoted to an issue that no one is allowed to say anything about..

Standing Up for a True North Strong and Free:

Angry in the Great White North
Autonomous Source
Dust my Broom
Girl on the Right
Italics Mine
Minority of One
News Junkie Canada
The Politic
Relapsed Catholic
small dead animals

(I may have missed some web loggers and haven't outed anyone who hasn't had the links up for some time. Let me know if you want to be removed or added on.)

Sometimes Faltering Lips can be a good thing. When the time comes, perhaps we all will say I am Spartacus!

Honourable better-late-than-never Mentions for Jane Taber of the Globe and Mail and the CBC (get url for Real Player broadcast here.)

(Part I is here, if you are late to this Tea Party.)

13:02: Jay found this Very pointed satire which brings a whole new meaning to the concept of thought crimes.

Posted by Debbye at 09:23 AM | Comments (10)

If the shoe fits ...

day by day 04-05-2005.gif

Day by Day by Chris Muir (with thanks to Jay for the pointer.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:04 AM | Comments (5)

There's freedom afoot ...

Apr. 5 - Go to Nealenews for some excellent links (I'll be linking and writing later, but why wait for me? Just git!)

Posted by Debbye at 08:59 AM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2005

Canadians: Linking to CQ May Be Good For Your Freedom

Apr. 4 - Those looking for the link to Captain Ed's item on Brault's secret testimony before the Gomery Inquiry have been given a bit of a helping hand by the Canadian media.

CTV carried the story but wimped out completely and pulled their story entirely (before I could read it) rather than edit out the name of the blog, blogger, and Canadian news service that carried the link (and from which I got it yesterday.) Jane Taber of the Globe and Mail published the story of the leak on an unspecified American blog and publicized by an unspecified news service (and rendered the Good Captain into an "anonymous blogger",) and Stephanie Rubec had a similar article in the London Free Press and Toronto Sun without mentioning specific names and site addresses (the story may well be in all Sun Media newspapers, but I followed the LPF link from Capt. Ed and have checked only the Toronto Sun on my own thus far.)

Captain Ed warns Canadian bloggers that linking to CQ may be bad for your democracy but I disagree - it's good for your democracy, and there are a lot of Canadians who are voicing their agreement by following the results of their web searches.

Freedom is precious, and many have died to preserve that freedom. If people aren't willing to fight and sacrifice for their freedom then they don't deserve it.

Angry in T.O. is, um, angrier, and is standing tall, and I've only just learned that Kate proved her mettle yesterday.

Why violate the publication ban and risk legal action? Asked and answered in a follow-up post by Angry in the Great White North.

As for me, as I noted in a response to a comment yesterday, every Canadian who pays federal taxes is a victim of the fraud and theft perpetuated by the Sponsorship grants and possibly by the Liberal Party.

They didn't commit crimes against or steal money from the government. The government has no money except what it deducts from paychecks as well as the "surcharges" we pay when we file taxes, levies on businesses, and raises through an 8% tax on purchases.

They stole your money and my money - and each of us would be a plaintiff in this case and thus would be unable to qualify as jurors should the case ever come to trial.

Judge Gomery forgot that minor detail when he placed the publication ban on the testimony in order to guarantee a fair trial. I guess he and I have a fundamental disagreement on some basic concepts about government and tax money.

Posted by Debbye at 07:54 AM | Comments (8)

CTV wimps out on revelations about Brault's testimony

Apr. 4 - CTV interviewed the American blogger who wrote about the "secret" testimony of Jean Brault before the Gomery Inquiry into Adscam but pulled the article when they realized they could be committing a crime just by linking to Captain's Quarters.

Their timidity is all the more deserving of scorn in the wake of new information about the torture Canadian Zahra Kazemi endured before her death in an Iran prison for the dreadful crime of photographing those who were holding a vigil in June, 2003.

Zahra Kazemi died in defense of press freedoms in a totalitarian country and the CTV is too afraid to exercise freedom of the press in a democracy.

Shame and double shame.

Posted by Debbye at 07:46 AM | Comments (6)

April 03, 2005

John Dean comes to Canada

Apr. 3 - Imagine the outcry had the Watergate hearings been placed under a publication ban because some of those named faced criminal proceedings. It's a testimony to the American character that we conduct open reviews of scandals like Watergate and the Iran-Contra hearings even though it provides our enemies with a great deal of ammunition -- more than a lesser people could tolerate.

Canada put testimony in the Gomery Commission behind such a ban with nary a blush, piously citing privacy and legal concerns and knowing that the media outcry would rapidly subside as journalists shrug because it's the kind of repression they've come to expect but which they rarely name.

But make no mistake: the media blackout is repression of a free press and in too many ways exposes what is wrong with Canada.

Enter the Age of the Internet. Unsurprisingly, it seems some information may have trickled out and is available for the world, except Canadians, to read. Unless they dare.

Apr. 4 - 6:45 - Edited to add the link was via Neale News, which I omitted yesterday because I didn't want to be indirectly responsible for any ramifications of his courageous act. Needless to say, that particular cat is long out of the bag but Neale is still carrying the link. [12:21 - it's gone now and Neale is listing links to today's news.]

We must all hang together or assuredly we shall all hang separately.

Posted by Debbye at 01:46 PM | Comments (7)

March 30, 2005

Kassem Daher charged as money raiser for al Qaeda

Mar. 30 - An former Edmonton man, Kassem Daher, was named as a money-raiser for al Qaeda and is believed to have operated movie theatres towards that end.

Daher hasn't resided in Edmonton since 1998.

In 2000, he was arrested in Lebanon after a shootout between police and alleged terrorists. After his arrest, Daher's relatives denied he was ever involved in terrorism and urged the Canadian government to intervene on his behalf. He was never formally charged with a crime in Lebanon or Canada and has been free on bail for the past year, Barbara Campion, a spokeswoman for CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) told CanWest News Service on Tuesday.


Earlier this week, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami released a 14-page affidavit sworn out by FBI agent John T. Kavanaugh detailing what he described as the "Jayyousi-Daher-Hassoun North American Support Network" for Islamic terror.

"The investigation of Jayyousi, Daher (and) Hassoun began in late 1993 and revealed that they had formed a network across North America to fundraise for and recruit mujahedeen to train and fight in various jihad areas including but not limited to Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, and Somalia," the affidavit states.

"During the times relevant to this investigation, Daher resided in Leduc, Canada."

FBI surveillance teams recorded numerous conversations between the three men and others involved in the network, including onetime leader Mohamed Zaky, who died in 1995 fighting in Chechnya.

The tapes are said to have Daher describing his money-laundering, and one 1995 tape involves a conversation between two of the men in which they discussed their efforts to raise money to move "jihadist soldiers between Algeria, Egypt, Somalia, and Eritrea." They also expressed their wish they could raise enough money to send soldiers to Chechnya.:
"Daher and Jayyousi also discussed setting up a for-profit business in order to fund jihad," the affidavit states. "Daher then mentioned his organization, the Canadian Islamic Association, which he described as a 'cover, I mean it's very good.' "
Jayyousi is in U.S. federal custody in Detroit and was scheduled to appear in court today. Daher is believed to still be in Lebanon.

I ran a google to find the Canadian Islamic Association and found that it is a registered organization, has a business license in Leduc (among other places,) and was cited in an item at the Canadian Newspaper Association web site: Muslim chastizes Canadian media for erroneous coverage of Islam and terrorism.

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 02:33 PM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2005

Mohamed Harkat

Mar. 29 - Mohamed Harkat, an Ottawa resident, faces deportation to Algeria after a federal judge ruled that he was a terrorist on March 22 and poses a threat to national security:

Judge Eleanor Dawson ruled that two federal cabinet ministers made a reasonable decision in December 2002 when they concluded that Mr. Harkat was a member of al-Qaeda, the world's foremost terrorist organization.

And she flatly dismissed Mr. Harkat's sworn testimony, during which he denied any connection to terrorism or the al-Qaeda network, as the work of a liar.

There is credible, reliable information from a number of independent sources, including the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), that contradicts Mr. Harkat's evidence, the judge said.

"On the basis of the confidential information," she said, "it is clear and beyond doubt that Mr. Harkat lied under oath to the court in several important respects."

The judge is not required to divulge the confidential information that led to her decision, but she reportedly said that
... she did not rely on the evidence of Mr. Zubayda, who was thought by Mr. Harkat's defence team to be a linchpin in the government's case.
There are allegations that Zubayda was tortured by the U.S. military to obtain information.
Judge Dawson said she could not rely upon Mr. Zubayda's evidence because she was not told exactly what he said or the circumstances under which he identified Mr. Harkat.

Mr. Zubayda had been the only informant identified by the court as giving credible evidence against Mr. Harkat.

As a result, the defence team spent considerable time trying to establish that Mr. Zubayda had been tortured into giving that evidence.

Mr. Copeland said the experience highlights the "impossibility" of defending someone against a security certificate: "In these cases, you have no idea of the case you have to meet, and you have no idea of how to meet it.

"It is a process that is unfair and violates fundamental justice. But the courts don't seem to agree with me on that issue."

Indeed, Judge Dawson defended the process in her decision, arguing that it is constitutionally sound and offers fundamental justice to foreign citizens accused of terrorism.

The judge concluded there were reasonable grounds to find Mr. Harkat is a member of al-Qaeda who has repeatedly lied to Canadian officials about his terrorist links.

Mr. Harkat came to Canada in 1995 after five years in Pakistan, during which time he said he worked as a warehouse manager for the Muslim World League.

But Judge Dawson said there's reasonable grounds to believe Mr. Harkat travelled to Afghanistan during the early 1990s and developed an association with Mr. Zubayda, who ran two al-Qaeda training camps.

Harkat also was allegedly associated with Ahmed Khadr:
The judge found that Mr. Harkat was also unbelievable when he described his relationship with Ahmed Said Khadr, a known associate of Osama bin Laden's who was once the ranking al-Qaeda member in Canada. (Mr. Khadr was killed in the fall of 2003 during a gun battle with Pakistani forces after fleeing Afghanistan.)

Mr. Harkat admitted on the witness stand that he met Mr. Khadr in Ottawa and travelled with him to Toronto by car. Mr. Harkat claims he met Mr. Khadr through his roommate, Mohamed El Barseigy, and that he did not converse at length with him during a five-hour ride to Toronto.

Judge Dawson concluded that testimony was "inherently implausible and incredible."


Judge Dawson's decision on the reasonableness of the security certificate cannot be appealed to a higher court.

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

Bush, Fox and Martin met (and accomplished nothing)

Mar. 29 - I probably should have commented on the the meeting between PM Paul Martin, Pres. Bush and Pres. Fox but I was too irritated that the press up here kept calling them The Three Amigos (doesn't anyone up here speak enough Spanish to know that amigos means friends?) (and yes, I saw the stupid movie) and it wasn't as though it was more than a meeting for public consumption, the "We are family" kind of public appearance in which the press up here imagines Important Stuff is going on and the rest of us are wondering if Presidents Fox and Bush managed to reach some understanding about the growing numbers of illegal immigrants undocumented workers that are coming into the U.S. from Mexico.

But there was some interesting commentary too. Greg Weston in Smiling Texans, glum Canucks notes too that nothing really happened at the meeting between Bush and Martin.

I agree with that assessment, unless "more of the same" counts. Measures for Establishing North American Security since Sept. 11 have been announced after every meeting between Canada and the USA and will likely continue to be announced after every future meeting. The press keeps reporting on that as though it's really news, so either they are dumb enough to actually believe it this time or they haven't noticed yet that the it's the same, tired press release. (I guess that also translates to being dumb. Whatever.)

Back to the meeting. There are actually real outstanding issues between Canada and the USA involving (what else?) trade. For those keeping score:
Soft wood lumber - no resolution.
The cow thing - no resolution.
Lunch - BBQ or Thai?

Douglas Fisher thinks Canada should be more curious about George but I suspect his advice is falling on deaf ears (if that's what you call people who have their fingers stuck firmly in their ears.)

Bob MacDonald's column notes that Martin actually stepped foot on the ranch, something Chretien never accomplished, and received a gift from the President - a pair of cowboy boots. (Make your own joke. I'm not touching it - besides, my heart is set on a pair like Condi's. Mmm.)

Posted by Debbye at 03:05 PM | Comments (2)

Army deserters in Canada

Mar. 29 - Cliff Cornell is an army deserter who is now a peace volunteer and one of 8 deserters all of whom want to stay in Canada.

From Mar. 25, Jeremy Hinzman will appeal the refugee board decision which denied him asylum status (Dodger insists: I'll stay) yet as the headline indicates, there is a persistent attempt to evoke the Vietnam era by terming him a dodger - he is not a draft dodger but a deserter, having voluntarily joined the US Army and even served in Afghanistan.

Supporters of Hinzman claim the decision was pro-war advancing the notion again that it was "illegal" and "Bush's war," despite the fact that it was approved by Congress.

Bill O'Reilly had it wrong, by the way, when he talked about the case. The decision by the appeal board had little to do with concerns over U.S.-Canada relations and more to do with the large number of claimants seeking asylum that arrive in Canada each year and a population that has grown increasingly suspicious of the process due to a large number of bogus claimants. Hinzman's assertion that he would be harshly punished pales in comparison to the real dangers people face were they to be returned to their native lands and indicated his real contempt for genuine asylum seekers who don't face jail but face torture and death.

Refugee claimants are already viewed with cynicism. Hinzman may well have hoped to capitalize on anti-American sentiment but had the refugee board granted his request it would have set a precedent for granting asylum on political bases rather than humanitarian and would have further undercut the credibility of the board.

Posted by Debbye at 02:23 PM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2005

Islamic school suspends teachers over student's hate-filled tale

Mar. 24 - I wish I could be surprised at this: Ottawa Islamic school suspends teachers over student's hate-filled tale.

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 02:40 PM | Comments (8)

March 23, 2005

Mohammad Mahjoub

Mar. 23 - Another moral dilemma: Bail bid for detainee Mohammad Mahjoub, who has been held in a Toronto jail for nearly 5 years on suspicion of terror connections:

AFTER BEING held for nearly five years in a Toronto jail because of secret evidence and a national security certificate, Mohammad Mahjoub must wait several more months to learn if he will be granted bail. Mahjoub, 44, an alleged high-ranking terrorist with ties to Osama bin Laden, is one of five Canadians held on secret CSIS evidence as a threat to national security.

He appeared in federal court yesterday seeking bail, while Ottawa continues its efforts to deport him to Egypt, where, all sides agree, he faces the risk of torture.

The evidence is secret, so we are going on faith that it is valid. From what little I know of the case no charges have been filed although the article notes further down that he lied under oath previously. Generally speaking, we don't detain people for five years because we believe they might commit an illegal act but our new awareness of "sleepers" has changed our perception of what consitutes real and present dangers to national security.

One more for the "no easy answers" category. (I'm kidding; I don't have such a category ... yet.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:27 AM | Comments (3)

March 22, 2005

SSM and the CPC conference

Mar. 22 - The recent Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) policy conference was live-blogged by insiders Stephen Taylor and Hacks and Wonks.

Stephen covers it here and here, covers Stephen Harper's speech here (.pdf text of speech here.) He also covers the Party party here.

Hacks and Wonks covers the conference here and here here and here.

It's worth the time to read both bloggers. They have different styles and observations about the proceedings and the combination of the two adds dimensions and tone.

Two policy issues dominated after the initial procedural kerfuffle. The first was abortion, and the CPC decided not to challenge the current laws.

The other was same-sex marriage, and the CPC's decision to fight it while supporting civil unions has produced a lot of debate in the blogosphere as people decide if they can support a conservative party that does not support same-sex marriage. I've mostly been following the comments and links at Jay Currie's site here and here.

Crafting a position on same-sex marriage is a problem for the Conservative Party. On the one hand, the impetus to merge the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative Party came about largely as a reaction to federal government moves to recognize gay marriage (and, more specifically, to call those unions marriage) and on the other hand, the influence on the party by what are called "so-cons" (i.e., social conservatives) run directly counter the views of hipper, urban conservatives and libertarians who should, by all that's logical, form a strong base of support for the party by Canadians who are tired of the ever-expanding tax load and furious over Adscam yet are strongly committed to human rights.

Ben takes a moderate view and Alan wants government out of marriages altogether. The Monger makes a good case for the 40% muggers (in a post about taxes, not SSM.)

Gay marriage is just not the big issue for me right now. I guess it's the curse of being an American and having American issues on my mind, but I'm still more worried about Islamofascists who want to kill gays than arguing over the designation of what to call legalized gay relationships.

I do hate the phrase "civil union," though. It is sterile, and fails to acknowledge the deep committment and love between gay couples.

I will state outright that I am annoyed that proponents keep pushing the notion that calling gay unions anything other than marriage is somehow an instance of "separate but equal" -- a barely disguised effort to connect this issue to the civil rights movement in the 60's -- but which displays either ignorance about or indifference to the institutionalized inequality of African-Americans in some states.

As those of us who were actually alive back then remember, "equal" was hardly a description of the public institutions and facilities made available to African-Americans who lived in states with Jim Crow laws (and in Northern urban areas.) There were also the matters of little or no police investigations into lynchings and the rapes of black women, being denied the right to vote, and being denied protection and due process under the law.

So unless it can be demonstrated that the designation "civil union" (or a more agreeable term) means fewer benefits, legal rights and protections, I am unconvinced that the failure to alter the ancient definition of marriage equals bigotry (nor can I deny there are some extremely homophobic voices raised against gays as well as gay marriage. That's the real pity and has clouded the debate somewhat.)

Posted by Debbye at 11:03 PM | Comments (6)

March 20, 2005

Miss Canada Pakistan

Mar. 20 - Last night, in A crowning moment, 13 contestants in ethnic dress competed for the title of Miss Canada Pakistan.

A mini-controversy has swirled about the event, with some claiming that it violates the beliefs of Islam, and others saying it advances the cause of Pakistani women:

"It's a great opportunity to get out there and speak on behalf of the Pakistani community," contestant Sarvat Khan, 20, said.

"They call it a beauty pageant, but that doesn't make it wrong."

Organizer Sonia Ahmed said nothing, including threats or hate mail from radicals, would have prevented the third annual pageant from going ahead.

"We're trying to show strong, independent Pakistani women (who) will show their talents boldly in front of an audience," she said. "Canada is a free country and we have the right to express ourselves freely."

Indeed they do.

Posted by Debbye at 07:53 PM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2005

Party financing and national unity

Mar. 18 - A portion of our taxes are now turned over to political parties to pay for their campaign expenses during federal campaigns. This legislation, which came into effect in 2004, was heralded as ending the corrupting influence of corporations, through their donations, on political parties.

Let me repeat: my tax money goes to finance the election campaigns of parties with which I vehemently disagree, such as the Bloc Quebecois, which advocates separation from Canada. As the money is apportioned to the politcal parties based on the percentage of votes they garnered in the previous federal election, I don't even have a little box on my tax form to indicate to which party I want my involuntary donation to be directed.

Corporate donations to finance political parties = bad. Nassty corporations. We don't likes them or their filthy lucres.

Earmarking taxpayer dollars to finance political parties = good. Stoopid taxpayers. They don't have the sense to know to which parties they should give their money. We don't trust them to make sensible, personal decisions, so we'll make those decisions for them.

Stealing taxpayer dollars, under the guise of promoting national unity, to finance the Liberal Party = genius. National unity is best achieved if there is only one political party, the Liberal Party. There can be only one.

Adscam started as an inquiry into the funneling of tax dollars to Liberal-friendly advertising agencies and the appearance was that these funds were in payment of services received or about to be received, but testimony again today indicates that actual cash donations were funneled back to Liberal Party workers.

CBC News: Groupaction masked payments to Liberals, Gomery told:

Bernard Thiboutot worked for former Groupaction advertising executive Jean Brault, who made millions from the sponsorship program.

Thiboutot, who had his own consulting company, told the inquiry that Brault asked him to send five cheques worth $57,000 to five people. Brault then paid Thiboutot $57,000.

The inquiry hasn't yet heard what type of work the five did, but Radio-Canada says Michel Monette, Jacques Roy, Guy Bisson, Franco Iacono and Louis Pichette were all Liberal Party organizers.

Bisson worked on the Liberal campaign in 2000, Roy worked as an organizer for the Liberals in Montreal, Monette worked on the Liberal campaign in Laval, Iacono was a lobbyist who used to work for former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano and Pichette was a Quebec campaign worker.

Brault didn't want to appear connected to the five people, Thiboutot said. The payments instead went through Thiboutot's company, Commando Marketing, in the same week in October 2000 that former prime minister Jean Chrétien called a federal election.

Brault faces criminal charges related to the sponsorship scandal and has been named in a $41-million government lawsuit.

Thiboutot also testified that Brault pressed him to make two contributions of $10,000 to the federal Liberals.

Earlier in the inquiry, another communications executive, Gilles-André Gosselin, said Brault asked him to make a $10,000 donation to the Liberals.

There are bigger questions which have yet to be addressed, and the biggest one is the ease with which the Prime Minister usurped the powers of Council and Parliament. That must be addressed but has not been addressed. That is my biggest concern, but I'm just an American who doesn't understand all this enlightened stuff and worries about minor stuff like a Prime Minister who promises a Parliamentary debate on ballistic missile defense but suddenly announced the decision without a public debate. Martin promised to address the "democratic deficit" in Parliament and he did so in a manner reminiscent of Ed Norton's advice to Ralph Kramden in the golfing lesson: Hel-lo ball!

Then there is the involvement of Canadian civil service workers and patronage appointees in furthering the misappropriation of public funds. The systems of political patronage appointees as well as the hiring and promoting civil service workers desperately needs reform. Whistle-blower protection also needs to be enacted.

Another mega-question is how millions of taxpayer dollars could be stolen over a period of several years and nobody knew, including the Finance Minister, who at that time was current PM Paul Martin. (I can't help wondering if his new persona, Mr. Dithers, is a smokescreen as he might be forgiven for being a bumbling fool but not for being competent and thus a knowing enabler of Adscam.)

A new controversy has recently arisen about the use of federal funds to finance foundations, many of which bank rather than spend the money, none of whom are accountable for the public funds they receive, and the potential of that money to find its way back into Liberal Party coffers.

Non-accountability, thy name is Bureaucracy, and that issue is also at the heart of the Oil-for-Food scandal as well as Adscam.

[N.B. Despite the plethora of Quebec locations, this is a scandal involving the federal Liberal Party, not the provincial Liberal Party. There is a difference.]

Personal aside: I'm tired of those who shoot back "Yeah, what about Watergate?"

What about it? Did the Nixon campaign steal millions of taxpayer dollars to finance his campaign, or did they misuse private donations to the 1972 Republican election campaign? As we say back home, That dog won't hunt.

Posted by Debbye at 07:47 PM | Comments (8)

March 16, 2005

Air India jury acquits (Updated)

Mar. 16 - Lots of links at the top of this story, Air India defendants cleared.

I gave up following the trial once it became clear that too much of the evidence consisted of conversations, which, without compelling supporting physical evidence, leaves a "shadow of a doubt" in judges' minds.

Sadly, the relatives of the 329 people who died in the 1985 downing of Air India Flight 182 (see this fact sheet if you can't remember it) have yet to see justice for their loved ones which leaves a gaping wound in their lives.

Mar. 17 - It cost $7.4 million to build a special courtroom. It cost $130 million on investigations and trials. And we learned during the trial that CSIS destroyed evidence that could have led to convictions rather than turn it over to the RCMP.

From today's editorial in the Toronto Sun editorial (one-day link):

During the trial, Judge Josephson cited what he described as the "unacceptable negligence" of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service for, among other things, erasing hundreds of crucial wiretap tapes connected with the case. The court also heard that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police bungled their investigation and did not follow correct procedures. As a result, the judge rejected the testimony of a number of Mounties.

In addition, turf wars and infighting between CSIS and the RCMP (and a poor relationship between the RCMP and the FBI) were said to have resulted in a failure to share information in a timely way and in the burying of some evidence.

There was speculation from RCMP sources that CSIS had a source inside the alleged conspiracy, had advance knowledge that planes might be bombed but failed to act, and that it tried to undercut the court case to protect its source.

CSIS has categorically denied any advance knowledge of the bombings, having an inside source or that it deliberately bungled the case. CSIS officials have accused the RCMP of attacking CSIS as a method of diverting attention from their own incompetence in the event the charges were dismissed.

Given all this controversy about a terrorist act that ended in Canada's worst case of mass murder and the troubling questions it raises about CSIS and the RCMP, a public inquiry is clearly needed to find out what went wrong with this investigation and to come up with ways to insure it never happens again.

The automatic "hold an inquiry" notion over problems between CSIS and the RCMP that happened 20 years ago might seem foolish were it not that many suspect that those problems still exist, but Deputy PM Anne McClellan has rejected a probe. The difficulties between the FBI and RCMP are another issue, and looking at the relationship between Canada and the U.S.A. today, I'm sorry but I don't know how much information I want the FBI (or CIA) to share with their respective Canadian counterparts (and I state that even knowing how incompetent the American agencies are) because I don't trust either the honesty or honour of the Canadian government or its appointees.

Bob MacDonald has more about the screw-ups of CSIS and ties it into the "soft on violent crime" approach of the Canadian justice system. (He ties into grow operations too. Sigh.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:53 PM | Comments (0)

Anti-Semitism in Toronto

Mar. 16 - A report issued by B'nai Brith says that out of 857 anti-Semitic incidents reported in Canada, 405 happened here (Problem worst in GTA with more here.)

I wish I could say I was surprised, but I'm not. Tolerance is easy to talk about but harder to feel and impossible to enforce. I constantly overhear anti-Jewish comments which go by unchallenged but, were they directed against African- or West Asian-Canadians, would be immediately denounced by everyone in the room.

Something else that would be interesting to track would be expressions of hate toward Chinese- and East Asian-Canadians.

The Toronto police will release a report next month on acts which legally constitute "hate crimes."

Posted by Debbye at 06:28 PM | Comments (2)

7,000 plants make it a grow-op

Mar. 16 - At one point in my life, I would have fervently wished I was standing upwind - Pot up in smoke.

The fiery debates over grow houses could end very easily - either legalize it or don't. Decriminalizing possession is hypocrisy, much like letting johns go free but prosecuting prostitutes (er, sorry, "sex workers.")

Commentary here, and a little hysteria here.

Posted by Debbye at 06:08 PM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2005

Canada Free Press Blog

Mar. 15 - One of the bloggers I had the pleasure to meet at the Bloggerbash was Victor of the Canada Free Press Blog. I've been reading the blog for awhile and it. is. good.

His post From the people who brought you HRDC, the gun registray, Adscam... states the problems with Kyoto and why the Canadian government is determined to implement it:

If the usual pattern of Liberal incomptence, corruption and profligacy holds, the final tab should end up being somewhere between $40 billion and several trillion dollars. But hey, it’s not their money, so who cares. The only important things are that it provides lots of photo ops for Liberal hacks to show that THEY CARE, and it gives the government yet more control over the lives and bank accounts of its peons subjects citizens.
Both the Canada Free Press and the blog are proving their mettle - it was CFP that broke the Volcker connection to Power Corp. - and should be on everyone's blog reading list.

Posted by Debbye at 03:24 PM | Comments (0)

Fighting Quebec separatists in Italy

Mar. 15 - Adscam is a bewildering mess. Now it has taken on international dimensions.

Separatists were everywhere! The danger was so great in Chretien's own riding of Shawinigan that it received it too received money:

Former prime minister Jean Chretien's riding was a major destination for money from a $490,000 annual sponsorship slush fund in the 1990s, an inquiry was told Monday.

Documents tabled at the inquiry into the federal sponsorship program include several references to sponsorship allotments in the 1990s for "unforeseen events," including several in Chretien's former riding, which used to be known as Saint-Maurice.

The events include a hot-air balloon show, a canoe festival and the Grand Prix de Shawinigan-Sud automobile race.

And Alfonso Gagliano
... attended a ceremony in Italy where nearly $7,000 of sponsorship funds were used to brand a small village with the Maple Leaf. ..

Documents show the plaque, marking a spot called Canada Place, was inaugurated in May 1998 in the south-central Italian village of San Martino.

The documents also suggest the project's true source of funding was initially hidden. The plaque was not explicitly named as a funded sponsorship project, but was instead accounted for under money allotted to a ice-sculpture show that took place under a similar name in Ottawa."

Shameless. I'm trying to imagine Gagliano and Chretien each saying "I am not a crook."

Posted by Debbye at 01:04 PM | Comments (0)

Update on RCMP slayings

Mar. 15 - Radio station 630CHED has learned some details about RCMP slayings near Mayerthorpe last week:

Investigators believe Roszko used a sheet as camoflage as he sneaked through snow to reach the quonset hut. He had socks over his boots to muffle sound and to cover his tracks.

Once inside, Roszko armed himself with an assault rifle, a hunting rifle and a pistol.

He sprung from hiding and killed four Constables in a matter of seconds.

One of two Auto Theft investigators outside is also a member of the elite RCMP Emergency Response Team.

A crack shot, he engaged Roszko and fired a volley of shots when the gunman came outside.

One bullet hit a pistol Roszko had tucked in his pants, another hit the stock of the assault rifle and two bullets hit the man in the groin area.

He stumbled back into the hut and killed himself.

Under the dirt floor of the hut investigators have found a hidden compartment they believe was used to store weapons. (em/jn)

The ever-vigilant Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan hastily blamed it all on grow ops - as though 20 plants constitutes an operation that qualifies for little more than personal use - and although the initial story has been discredited, the minority Conservatives are pushing for harsher minimum sentencing of those convicted of running grow ops (rather than targeting defaulters on truck payments, which was what began the events that led to the killing of the officers.)

Jay punches a number of holes in their proposal.

Posted by Debbye at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)

Everything you ever wanted to know about Power Corp.

Power Corp chart.jpg
Kevin Steel, Western Standard

Mar. 15 - Have I been complaining about the lack of investigative reporting up here? This graph and accompanying Western Standard news story The scandal spills north prove me wrong:

Just a month before the Canada Free Press revealed that Volcker, a former Federal Reserve chairman, is a member of Power Corp.’s international advisory board--and a close friend and personal adviser to Power’s owner, Paul Desmarais Sr.--a U.S. congressional investigation into the UN scandal discovered that Power Corp. had extensive connections to BNP Paribas, a French bank that had been handpicked by the UN in 1996 to broker the Oil-for-Food program. In fact, Power actually once owned a stake in Paribas through its subsidiary, Pargesa Holding SA. The bank also purchased a stake in Power Corp. in the mid-seventies and, as recently as 2003, BNP Paribas had a 14.7 per cent equity and 21.3 per cent voting stake in Pargesa, company records show. John Rae, a director and former executive at Power (brother of former Ontario premier Bob Rae), was president and a director of the Paribas Bank of Canada until 2000. And Power Corp. director Michel François-Poncet, who was, in 2001, the vice-chairman of Pargesa, also sat on Paribas’s board, though he died Feb. 10, at the age of 70. A former chair of Paribas’s management board, André Levy-Lang, is currently a member of Power’s international advisory council. And Amaury-Daniel de Seze, a member of BNP Paribas’s executive council, also sat on Pargesa’s administrative council in 2002.


The reason investigators [from several Congressional committees] are interested in Power’s possible links to the bank that acted as a clearing house for Oil-for-Food is because the firm also appears to have had a stake in an oil firm that had been working out lucrative contracts with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Subsidiary Pargesa owns the largest single stake in Total Group Inc. (a Belgian-French petroleum multi-national corporation formed from the merger of Total, Petrofina and Elf Aquitaine), which reportedly had been negotiating, prior to the U.S. invasion in March 2003, rich contracts with former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to develop and exploit the Majnoon and Nahr Umar oil fields in southern Iraq. Those regions are estimated to contain roughly a quarter of Iraq’s reserves. The contracts were on the verge of being signed in 1997, one year after the beginning of the UN’s Oil-for-Food program replaced U.S. sanctions on Iraq, when the French government intervened and stopped the deal. Paul Desmarais Jr., now chairman of Power Corp. (Paul Sr. retired in 1996, but is said to be active in the firm), sits on the board of Total, and Power director, François-Poncet, also sat on the board of Total’s predecessor firm, Totalfina Elf. Paribas also owned shares in Total as recently as 2000, records show.

Add up the facts that Power Corp. appears to be connected to an oil company that would benefit extensively if Saddam remained in power, with the bank appointed by the UN to help broker an Oil-for-Food program that appears to have been directly enriching Saddam, and which is being investigated for irregularities that may have abetted the wholesale corruption that eventually engulfed Oil-for-Food, and that Power’s owners have a professional and personal relationship with the man hired by the UN to investigate the corruption, and it’s no wonder that more and more questions are being asked about the firm.

The United Nations has refused to co-operate with the U.S. Congress investigations into the US$67-billion Oil-for-Food program and Security Council members Russia and France have refused to give Volcker the right to subpoena witnesses in the internal UN probe.

Read the whole thing. Email the link to your friends.

Posted by Debbye at 07:35 AM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2005

Serendipity Plus

Mar. 13 - Damian Brooks is one persistent fellow (and a smart blogger.) He read a news item that seemed to demean the men and women who join the Canadian military, wanted to scrutinize the report and ask questions, and did some research on the reporter. Result? Serendipity.

It is a fascinating account made all the better by a certain "meant to be" quality. Read the post and follow the links (and then read this by the same Stephen Thorne about the smoke and mirrors of the promised increased funding of the Canadian Forces.)

Well done, Damian!

[I realize the prospect that Canada will simply cease to have a military has been cause for a lot of quiet speculation, but the impact of that on the Canadian psyche would be devastating - just consider these five words: "the tradition of Canadian peacekeeping," which, however poor the current deployments, signify something of considerable value to Canadians and us.]

I'm off to work. So long.

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

Distasteful, not hate speech

Mar. 13 - Go figure. Don Cherry gets into trouble for stating that it's mostly French and European guys - hockey players - who wear face shields on their helmets, and Mohamed Elmasry says that all Israelis over the age of 18 are legitimate targets because they are all members of the Israeli army (he later claimed he only meant "some Palestinians" believe that to be so.)

The remarks were investigated, and Elmasry was spared arrest because his remarks were deemed "distasteful," not hate speech.

He didn't even get hit with a 7-second delay.

Posted by Debbye at 06:41 PM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2005


Mar. 12 - Alternate title: It's Official, The Meatriarchy's Mental. (Silly play on the post I'm linking to - It's Official: I'm Mental - from The Meatriarchy. Never mind, just read it or none of this will make sense.)

It seems that Antonia Zerbisias attended the Bloggerbash we had a few weeks ago. I learned that after I read some of the posts on the bash and, after the initial surprise, I decided it really didn't matter because I achieved what I wanted from the bash: to see some wonderful people again, listen to stimulating discussions, and relax.

I should note here that I never posted on the bash because everything I wrote turned out gooey and several of the conversations were extremely personal, and my pathetic attempts were rendered even more so after I read Michael's wonderful satire on the evening.

Anyway, to the point of the post. Zerbisias doesn't get blogs if she thinks the end goal is to gain attention from mainstream media - a separate matter from bringing attention to their lapses - much less replace them. It isn't, at least for me. I actively feed off the media to write my posts, but I also feed off my own interpretation, analysis and feelings.

What drives blogs best (again, I'm only speaking for myself) is instantaneous internet access to media publications and to other bloggers around the world. That means that I can check what bloggers in Spain, Italy, and Germany are saying whenever something happens there, and they will be linking to the news items in local papers and then I can try - try - to get a comprehensive picture by comparing different accounts and then I get to apply my common sense! (What journalist is allowed to use common sense? Heh.)

We have similar goals as professional journalists, but are using an expanded number of tools (which includes an expanded number of journalists.) The time-consuming part is tracking what opinions we read and where so we can link back and give credit accordingly.

To the personal: she says in today's column that I had previously:

... accused me of lacking "class, restraint and compassion" in my columns, even as she cheers the war in Iraq.
As I don't write about Zerbisias it took me by surprise as my targets tend more to big-hitters like the Prime Minister of Canada and the NY Times, but I would like to make one correction in that I think it would be more accurate to say that I cheer the goals of Operation Iraqi Freedom, since I tend to remember not only the whats but also the whys. Anyway, I thought of Bob Zangas and finally remembered when I cited her: she had been crowing last spring about how the war bloggers had fallen silent, and cited Kathy Shaidle, who was on a previously and well-announced temporary leave, and Damian Penny, who was still posting regularly. Even so, I still had to search my own site for the post.

I wrote yesterday about events from last March in my lead-up to a post about the fatwa against bin Laden issued by Spanish clerics. Equally horrific events can be found throughout that spring, which is why steely resolve was the theme of the year. We expected a counter-offensive and we got one, and we endured.

She still doesn't get it. I find it amusing that today's column was All. About. Zerbisias. and not about Lebanon, the fatwa issued by Spanish clerics, or the bombing of yet another Iraq funeral procession which can all be connected to OIF. I guess each of us have different priorities.

Anyway, I guess I should respond by posting the reference to Zerbisias on this blog which criticized her unconcealed joy at everything that might imply a setback for US forces without regard for the human cost of those "setbacks" and I cited the pain of the personally felt death of Bob Zangas, a good man who also wrote a blog from Iraq:

The war has a personal face for most of us, and it isn't fun or happy. But for some reason, we manage to keep posting. And we manage to do it with a lot more class, restraint and compassion that anything you churn out.
I stand by that sentiment. The bombings of a funeral procession earlier this week and again today don't make me happy and I don't find posting about them fun - and sometimes the emotion is too much and I end up with an emotional draft but nothing I can publish. I try to maintain focus on the goals of Operation Iraqi Freedom and do cheer the fact that it is now the Iraqi people who are implementing those goals and even inspiring those in the region who want freedom.

Now could somebody please tell me exactly when she arrived? I must have been in a really engrossing discussion if I missed all that huhu.

And did you guys really gush over her? That is so cool. I must remember it and use it against you.

Note: Other responses to that column appear from Kathy, Damian, and Greg. Update: Kate also weighs in. Sorry, guys, Kathy and Kate win this round. Also, it should be noted that there were a number of non-gushing men there.

I have to go to work tonight (insert plaintive chorus of Oh No!) so if I missed any responses please forgive me and let me know.

Mar. 14 - 06:30: Bob lays claim to glories (and fame) (and riches) for being mentioned on page H2 of the Toronto Star. (Bob, why bother with the mysterious-sounding H2 designation? We can't hide the fact that the story appeared in the freaking Entertainment section forever ...)

Canadian Headhunter takes gentle exception (ha!) to the implication that the male bloggers were just regular guys who crave recognition and true lurve. Drink alert on this one, by the way. Michael has a gift for satire and combines it with great imagery but is never mean-spirited. Zerbisias should study his style if she wants people to think she's funny.

Mar. 15 - 07:05 - The Ambler offers another viewpoint. I suspect he and I differ on what we consider humourous, but he gets points for merging two quotes posted 10 months apart which I do consider laughable. Kathy responds. If this is going to be a flame war, I'll hope somebody mentions Hitler so I can lower the Godwin boom on 'em.

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

March 11, 2005

Ward Churchill's Canadian connection

Mar. 11 - Via Drudge, it seems Ward Churchill has a Canadian connection: he is accused of plagiarizing the work of Professor Fay G. Cohen of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Officials at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia sent CU an internal 1997 report detailing allegations about an article Churchill wrote.

"The article . . . is, in the opinion of our legal counsel, plagiarism," Dalhousie spokesman Charles Crosby said in summarizing the report's findings.

Churchill did not return calls to his home or office Thursday seeking comment.

Dalhousie began an investigation after professor Fay G. Cohen complained that Churchill used her research and writing in an essay without her permission and without giving her credit. Although the investigation substantiated her allegations, Cohen didn't pursue the matter because she felt threatened by Churchill, Crosby said.

Crosby said Cohen told Dalhousie officials in 1997 that Churchill had called her in the middle of the night and said, "I'll get you for this."

Cohen still declines to talk publicly about her experience with Churchill, but she agreed the Dalhousie report could be shared with CU officials, Crosby said, because "whatever concerns she may have about her safety are outweighed by the importance she attaches to this information getting out there."

Crosby declined a request for a copy of the report but said it does not contain information about the alleged threat from Churchill.

It is not clear if CU officials are aware of the alleged threat. A CU spokeswoman said officials there would not comment on any matter related to an ongoing review of Churchill's work.


In 1991, Churchill edited a book of essays published in Copenhagen, Denmark, which included a piece by Cohen on Indian treaty fishing rights in the Northwest and Wisconsin. When publishers wanted to reprint the essay in the United States, Cohen declined to allow her essay to appear, Crosby said.

So, Churchill penned an essay on the same topic under the name of the Institute for Natural Progress, a research organization he founded with Winona LaDuke. In the contributors section of the book, Churchill said he took the lead role in preparing the essay. (Ellipses in original)

Other cases of plagiarism had been cited by The Rocky Mountain News here. If that isn't enough to fire him, what is? Plagiarism until recently was grounds for immediate expulsion from university, and it's incomprehensible that a professor wouldn't be fired for it.

Posted by Debbye at 09:10 PM | Comments (5)

Honouring the RCMP's fallen

Mar. 11 - I really can't add anything to Thane Burnett's column, Only too human, on the memorial service for the four RCMP officers who were killed last week. It is a beautiful tribute.

Posted by Debbye at 07:40 PM | Comments (0)

March 04, 2005

Senate votes to ban Canadian cattle

Mar. 3 - In a further blow both to President Bush, who has worked to re-open the border to Canadian cattle, and the Canadian beef trade, the U.S. Senate blocked importing Canada beef by a bipartisan vote of 52-46.

This isn't about missile defense, people, although that is little comfort to beef farmers and meat packers up here. The bipartisan vote in the Senate (and the probability is that measure will pass in the House of Rep.) was due to concerns about being able to re-establish trade with Japan and South Korea because they banned American beef when a cow with BSE was discovered in Canada two years ago.

Let me repeat: BSE was discovered on an Alberta farm over two years ago. American beef was therefore banned in Japan and South Korea because the source might have been Canadian. (Japan wants the origin of the beef indicated on the labels. We said no.) Canada's interests lie in re-opening the American market, American interests lie in re-opening the Asian market. Meeting both expectations is proving difficult.

Nevertheless, Martin's decision not to participate in the proposed missile shield is being factored into this latest setback by "some" Canadians:

Some Canadian industry observers wondered just how much support to expect from U.S. officials clearly disappointed about Canada's recent decision to stay out of the American ballistic missile defence program.
Get over yourselves. Canada's decision to stay out is not relevant. The manner in which Martin chose to make the announcemnent without informing President Bush first and the timing, which occurred while Bush was attending a summit with Russian President Putin, reflects poorly on Martin but it doesn't derail missile defense. We'll defend ourselves, and Canada will continue posturing. In other words, business as usual, and many would like business to include re-opening the cattle and beef market.

As for the extent of the President's "influence" in Congress, it's hard for Canadians to understand the workings of the U.S. government structure which separates the executive and legislative branches of the government. The word separate must be applied literally: each branch of the government - the executive, the legislative and the judicial - guards its powers jealously. The system may be unwieldy at times, but it works to prevent any branch from becoming too powerful.

The CNN article says that the President will veto the bill (that's one of those "checks and balances" things) if it passes the House and comes to his desk and it doesn't look as though they have enough votes at present to override his veto (that's another.)

It's hard for people who live with Parliaments to understand our Congress, but if it's any comfort, it is equally bewildering for Americans to grasp the subtleties of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet being members of Parliament and the routine practice of invoking party discipline for votes. (Don't get me wrong, such can be invoked in the U.S., but it really, really pisses off the electorate. Members of the House face re-election every two years -- they don't dare piss off their constituents by appearing like sheep.)

"Some" Canadians seem overly anxious to see this as payback. It will be interesting to see how this story progresses.

Posted by Debbye at 08:05 AM | Comments (57)

March 03, 2005

4 RCMP officers dead after Alberta shootout

Mar. 3 - I have to run off to work, but want to note this (Four Alberta RCMP officers killed during raid.)

By American standards it may not be big news, but up here, it is indeed major. And shocking.

I support the decriminalization of marijuana, but too many of these grow houses are run by people who really are criminals (as in criminally-minded.)

As I said, a shootout up here involving the deaths of 4 law enforcment officials is shocking news (even in Toronto, where shootouts are becoming too damned commonplace, but I can't recall an instance where 4 officers died.)

I'm off to work, more tomorrow.

Mar. 4 - I fixed a grammatical error and clarified what I meant by "criminal." The organization and set-up of most "grow" houses is actually quite impressive, and it's hard not to appreciate the pure entrepreneurial spirit they embody. Unfortunately, the downside is organized criminal connections and the fact that they are illegal (and drive up my hydro prices!)

The assailant was the 5th casualty, apparently by his own hand, and it looks as though he was a known wacko. At least we and the families of the slain officers will be spared a trial.

The main story is here, a partial biography of Roszko is here, and former Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino's response is here.

14:00 - According to this, they also found a chop shop and may have been at the farm initally looking for stolen cars following up a tip regarding a high speed chase. Also note how quickly this tragedy has become politicized by the Canadian Public Safety Minister, Anne McClellan, even though she may speaking without all the facts.

14:21 - The RCMP has opened a book online for those who wish to express their condolences.

Posted by Debbye at 08:44 PM | Comments (7)

Fact checking CTV

Mar. 3 - According to CTV, PM Martin attempted to advise President Bush prior to announcing his decision not to participate in the missile shield, but Bush ignored Martin's call.

A day before he announced that Canada would have nothing to do with U.S. missile defence, Prime Minister Paul Martin placed a call to the American president to tell him of his decision, senior American officials told CTV News.

But the leaders never actually spoke that day. And almost a week later, President George W. Bush has yet to return Martin's call.

This is further evidence of Washington's deep displeasure with Canada's decision to opt out of the U.S. ballistic missile defence program (BMD).

According to this, Martin announced the decision on Thursday, Feb. 24.

According to this, President Bush was attending a summit with Pres. Putin in Slovakia on Feb. 24.

Note how cleverly the article is worded: Paul Martin placed a call to the American president to tell him of his decision, senior American officials told CTV News. It doesn't say if the call was placed to Washington D.C. or Bratislava.

Now it is possible that the CTV is the only news media in the entire world which was not aware that there was a major summit between the leaders of the USA and Russia on the day that Martin made his announcement. In fact, I'd say it was probable, or they would have mentioned that in their article as a possible reason why the President didn't speak to Martin when he called.


(CTV link via Kate at the Western Standard blog, The Shotgun.)

Mar. 4 - According to this, President Bush and PM Martin did have a chat about Canada's participation in BMD at the NATO conference:

A U.S. State Department source told The Canadian Press that Bush is upset Martin didn't tell him personally about Canada's decision not to join the missile plan when the two met at the NATO (news - web sites) summit in Brussels last week.

The source said Bush asked Martin specifically about the matter during a brief conversation and the prime minister didn't mention that a decision had been made. A short time later, Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew told his American counterpart Canada was opting out. (Bolding added.)

I doubt any of this is going to change minds up here. People like Lloyd Axworthy (great name!) are having much too much fun posturing. (By the way, Let It Bleed's response to him constitutes a direct