Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dear Suckers Canadians

Having a lovely time on my vacation. I decided to extend it for a couple of months, because the guys I work with are complete dickheads. It's great to be the boss. Ciao, Stephen

PS. I should be back in time for the Olympics. I have great seats. Too bad you have to work, eh?

H/t to Wells.
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Quote Of The Day

Andrew Coyne:
I recognize that Parliament always retains the ultimate sanction of voting no confidence in the government — or at least, on those days that the government will allow it to do so, or deigns to bring forward legislation, or recognizes confidence votes when they occur (see Paul Martin, above). But this is a very blunt instrument. It shouldn’t have to take a vote of non-confidence to get the government to obey basic norms of accountability.
Sadly, Mr. Harper has left the opposition with one option only and that is a vote of confidence. It is the stick with which he and his cronies whack the opposition, even as they move to circumvent the will of Parliament. The only way this will stop is for the opposition to unite to call Mr. Harper's bluff and defeat him. I hope when the time comes, Mr. Coyne does not fall for the "another useless election" meme, we all know is coming from the Conservative attack machine. Defending the constitution from the likes of Stephen Harper is a good hill on which to die.
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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Challenge

Andrew Potter writes:
In a recent Coyne column, Derek Lee appeared to draw a line in the sand, saying that Parliament would not allow itself to be dissolved. Coyne obviously concurs. Is that the Liberal plan, or was Lee just freelancing? Is the opposition serious about Harper being a despot? We have a way of dealing with despots in this country, it’s called a vote of non-confidence. Happily, there’s a speech from the throne coming up not two months from now.
I am not sure how serious Mr. Potter is in issuing this challenge, but it is one the opposition parties, particularly the Liberals and NDP should seriously consider. Harper is punking you and he doubts you have the stones to call him on his challenge to the authority of parliament. Your only recourse is a vote of non-confidence. You have two months to work out the details of a new coalition between you, I suggest you use the time wisely, and very, very quietly.

I suggest you start by reading Chantel Hebert's column from a little while back. It outlines a solution to a coalition that I could accept. I think you should agree, for the good of the country that the NDP runs candidates west of the lakehead, the Liberals in Ontario and Quebec and the NDP runs in Nova Scotia and Liberals in the other Maritime provinces and Newfoundland. Incumbents would run unopposed in their riding regardless of the region. I would also propose that both parties agree that this will be the last FPTP election and if elected as a coalition, would introduce legislation to change the electoral system to a proportional system.

There should be no question that this be done very discretely, as you all know what the Conservative attack machine would do if they caught even a whiff of this. However, the country and the viability of our democracy are at stake here. You must seize this time and use it for the good of Canada. We must get rid of this odious regime.
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Ballsy Paragraph Of The Day

The PMO, after killing all of the bills on the docket, causing them to start all over again from the beginning, wrote:
We will seek Opposition agreement to proceed expeditiously with other Government legislation -- particularly laws urgently needed to fight crime -- that the Ignatieff Liberals have blocked and obstructed.
It takes balls the size of the Jupiter to kill your own legislation and then claim the opposition is obstructing the business of the government. Congratulations PMO, you are winners of this week's Ballsy Award.
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Twilight For Democracy

And as our democracy sinks slowly in the west, we bid a fond farewell to responsible government in Canada. I take no comfort in being right.

Update: Nevermind, apparently Canadians like to be ruled by a thugish government, that may or may not be run by war criminals.

Update Again: And when I say "Canadians", I mean the less than 4 in 10 who, given our insane electoral system, may constitute a "majority". God damn how I hate FPTP.
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Monday, December 28, 2009

The Chicago way

Impolitical writes in her missive against the latest sewage emanating from the PMO:
The question of what to do, how to deal with such attacks is an ongoing one.
No disrespect to Impolitical, but the Liberal Party has had four years to figure that out. It really does come down to whether or not the party is willing to take Jimmy Malone's advice.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thanks Norm

Norman Spector lists the reasons for Harper's success. I will break them down for you:
1. Harper doesn't put on airs, like Iggy does. Oh and Harper is writing a hockey book.

2. Harper is good to his base. Well, duh.

3. Canadians are deliberately bone ignorant about what is going on in their own government and cynical about politicians in general. I would say that if you beat a person long enough and shift his job to China, he will turn off politics and focus on survival.

4. Canada has an electoral system that favors Harper at the moment. I would say it is time to get rid of such a system, but it remains a difficult proposition because the people who control the means of mass communications in this country like the system as it is. It is much better to have one or two actors to lobby than five. So change, if it ever comes, will be very, very long term. So, I hope you like perpetual one party dictatorships as much as our owners do.
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Kenney Adds To His List Of Sins

Kenney is now a published liar, as well as someone who smears the Roman Catholic Church, by proxy. Why, oh why is this man allowed to take Holy Communion? He defiles any church he enters. Bishop Fred Henry, please take some action here.

What Kenney said in his speech:
We have articulated and implemented a zero tolerance approach to anti-Semitism. What does this mean? It means that we eliminated the government funding relationship with organizations like for example, the Canadian Arab Federation, whose leadership apologized for terrorism or extremism, or who promote hatred, in particular anti-Semitism.

We have ended government contact with like-minded organizations like the Canadian Islamic Congress, whose President notoriously said that all Israelis over the age of 18 are legitimate targets for assassination. We have defunded organizations, most recently like KAIROS, who are taking a leadership role in the boycott. And we’re receiving a lot of criticism for these decisions. I can’t recall how many times I’ve been sued for some of the decisions that we have taken, but we believe that we’ve done these things for the right reasons and we stand by these decisions.
If you read what he now says he is saying, he includes everything but the truth. His new sin, is a sin of omission. He needs to apologize to the Church, now.
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Thought Of The Day

This was the year that threatened to put Canadians through the tedium of yet another federal election – the fourth in a five-year stretch. Smile, everyone. We avoided that as well. -- Lawrence Martin
As long as this remains the dominant notion in our politics, Harper wins. He knows that he can do what ever he wants as long as he keeps his base happy, so the polls stay roughly where they have been for five years. Harper gives the opposition two choices, back down or call an election. He knows that as long as the polls are stable and another minority is in the cards, the opposition will back down.

Harper has unlocked the secret to minority party rule, by an ideologically minority party -- no compromise, constantly stroking the base and daring the opposition to cause another "tedious" election. It is a fiendishly brilliant strategy, but dangerous for the country.

If Harper continues to get away with it, his methods will find their way into every party's toolbox. Also, if elections are seen as tedious, rather than as essential to our form of government, we risk becoming the first country to adopt dictatorship by ennui. Merry Christmas.
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Take A Memo

Does anyone else think that Evan Solomon is the John (Take A Memo) King of Canada? Power and Politics is now the he said/he said show, with Solomon acting as a "neutral" questioner (that is treating all issues as if they are merely differences of opinion). The whole "nobody's right" school, allows issues such as torture and climate change to become merely debating society fodder, rather than stories to be gotten to the bottom off. The reason CNN has become unwatchable is slowly, but surely, making its way to CBC News.

Update: Or as one of the characters from Better Off Ted put it last night, "Facts are just opinions and opinions can be wrong". That, in a nutshell is where Evan Solomon is taking Power and Politics.
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The Reviews Are In

And it is very, very, bad news for anyone who thought Canadians give a shit about brown people. Regardless, Parliament has a moral duty to see this to the end. Canadians must be forced to look themselves in the face and see the ugliness. Political consequences be damned.
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Question Of The Day

Since Jason Kenney, is including the Roman Catholic Church in his smear of KAIROS, why is Mr. Kenney being allowed to take Holy Communion? Surely calling the Church "antisemitic" is a greater, (or at least equal) offense than voting for same sex marriage? Perhaps the Catholic Civil Rights League should speak up about this issue.
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Monday, December 21, 2009

Today In WTF Moments.

Shorter Laurie Hawn: I can't bother my pretty mind with something as awful as torture. It's Christmas! Get back to me sometime in 2010 (Unless it's sunny. I love sunny days. Oh, and don't bother me when it's cloudy. I get so depressed when it's cloudy.).

Kady has the text of what he wrote. Don't read it if you have a full stomach.
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Let The Finger Pointing Begin

Gordon Brown commenting on the failure of Copenhagen said:
"We must learn lessons from Copenhagen and the tough negotiations that took place. Never again should we face the deadlock that threatened to pull down these talks. Never again should we let a global deal to move towards a greener future be held to ransom by only a handful of countries."
Even if he doesn't mean Canada, isn't sad that it is so damn easy to imagine Harper and his thugs holding the world to ransom?
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So, now it turns out that government ministers were meeting with the Red Cross in 2006. At this rate, Parliament will never be recalled again.
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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Paralyzed Force, Gesture Without Motion

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

T.S. Eliot The Hollow Men

Motion: “We are running out of time. The time for talk is over. It is better for us to act than to talk. The question is whether we move forward together or split apart.” Obama on Friday.

Act: "This breakthrough lays the foundation for international action in the years to come." Obama, on his way back from the summit.

Falls the Shadow:
Today rich countries led by the United States are pressuring poorer nations to ditch the UN process and sign onto the Copenhagen Accord. They are threatening poor nations that refuse to sign on with the loss of their share of the $100 billion that rich countries have pledged to compensate for climate impacts the rich countries themselves have caused.

UN officials are struggling to figure out what the Accord even means and how it's related to the UN process, but what's is clear is that it was not approved by the 192 countries that are members of the UNFCCC.

By signing onto the Accord, poor countries risk displacing the legitimate negotiation process taking place under the auspices of the UN.

The US is so desperate to claim a Copenhagen success that it is now attempting to destroy the existing climate process and sideline 20 years of real multilateral negotiation.

Nnimmo Bassey, Friends of the Earth International Chair, said:

"First the US came to Copenhagen with nothing new to offer, and now it's trying to package the weak, flawed, unjust 'Copenhagen Accord' as a replacement for the UN process -- and armtwist poor countries into signing on.

"President Bush ignored the UN process, now President Obama risks to torpedo it.
Obama's approach sounds awfully familiar, doesn't it? Obama has his own coalition of the willing and this time, Stephen Harper is in a position to jump on board.

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but with a whimper
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Dear Jim Prentice

I have a problem with you saying things like this :
“The Copenhagen Accord is an excellent agreement and a very, very positive agreement for Canada,” he told The Canadian Press on Saturday.

“It sits within the principles we put forward as a Canadian government and it essentially achieved all our negotiating objectives.”
You see, I know you achieved your negotiating objectives. That's why it Copenhagen is being described as a failure, around the world, except by the leaders of the big polluters. So, thanks for admitting you helped produce a steaming pile, but I pretty much already knew that.
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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Where Have You Gone, Jesse Owens?

As Canadians get ready for the Berlin Vancouver Olympics, everyone is happy and joyfully counting down the minutes until they can participate in our celebration of freedom and democracy. Well, almost everyone. Some are not on board with the whole "plagiarism" thing and the banning of groups who promote sports to children in developing countries. We call these people anti-social elements. Fortunately, our glorious leader will be at the games and all loyal Canadians will rejoice. It is their duty to rejoice.
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Another Committee To Crush?

From today's Star about the Jason Kenney's antisemitism slur against KAIROS:
Liberal and New Democrat MPs said Oda should be brought before a House of Commons committee to explain the KAIROS decision.

"There needs to be a larger discussion about CIDA's decision-making than merely what's happened to KAIROS, but KAIROS would be the classic example," said the Liberals' John McKay.
Which committees are left?
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Travers on Canadian politics, circa 2009:
It's in Harper's interest to take to the streets a message shaped by control and insulated by secrecy. Beyond Parliament Hill there are fewer annoying questions, contrarian quibbles or suspicious fingers running down the ruling party's approved facts and figures.

Out there, where the undecided and skeptics are kept at arm's length, Ottawa's secrecy culture isn't a kitchen table worry. Out there it would be rude to ask when the buck last stopped at a minister, how civil servants became fall guys or how watchdogs lost their bark. Out there, if Conservatives have it figured right, the manipulation of an inconvenient Parliament will slide by with the same ease as the piece-by-piece deconstruction of democracy.
I would answer Travers by saying that a majority of Canadians are worried about Harper and his thugs. It is proven in poll after poll, where Conservatives never get more than roughly one third of the vote. However, thanks to the twin miracles of the first past the post electoral system and a seat distribution that favors the rural vote, a majority of voters means practically nothing. Our democracy is an illusion and Harper is merely a symptom of the system's diseased core.
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Friday, December 18, 2009

After You

Did anyone else see Harper's "performance" at his news conference? It was pretty nauseating the way he misrepresented Kyoto, but totally par for the course. Also, I wish someone had had the stones to ask him whether since harmonization with America is so vital, it will mean that we will wait for the U.S. to finish adopting every last possible regulation, before moving on ours (something that a. may never happen and b. if it does happen, will take years, if not decades)? It sounded to my ears that Canada will do nothing at all, not one thing, until there is absolutely no chance that the Americans will do less than us. Canada's new motto should be, "Not one inch further than the Americans" (and the use of imperial was deliberate).

Saturday Update: The Globe answered my question and it is yes, we are going to wait until the Americans are done before we act at all. It makes it sound as if we aren't even going to try to have any influence on the outcome (unless, I suspect, it looks as if the Americans might actually try to do something bold, which is highly unlikely). The good news, I guess, is that Harper may be long retired to Arizona before the process is finished in the U.S. and his successor might have a less inanimate view of climate policy.
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What Caplan Said

In today's column:
Something is terribly wrong. So many Canadians want to see courageous, principled progressive leadership both on specific issues and the overall direction of the country, and yet they're obviously not finding it in the NDP. New Democrats are hardly unaware of this great blown opportunity.

The country is deeply weary of political game-playing and deeply sour about its politicians. Who can blame them? It's as if we're all waiting for something new and special, for our own Obama. But as the real thing drowns in the lethal political swamps of Washington, no one remotely of his calibre appears on the Canadian horizon.
If waiting on our own Obama is our only hope (especially given how shitty the real one is), we are totally fucked.
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The Ring Of Truth

An official in DFAIT says in the Globe and Mail, about the situation in Afghanistan after Harper took control:
“The few people … in Foreign Affairs that had been working on the [torture] file up until that point were basically told, there's a new regime in town, and it's going to be top-down. We're not looking so much for advice,”
Is it a stretch to believe Harper's people would carry that message? Not for me, either.
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Don Martin, C'Mon Down

Don Martin writes:
Okay, reality check here, one Afghan getting whacked around by some shoes in the middle of a war zone does not fit my definition of torture.
Don Martin, are you willing to take the Shoe Torture Challenge?
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Stephen Harper's Yellow Streak

Like all bullies, Stephen Harper is a coward. Forced to attend the climate change summit, because Obama is going, Harper is staying well out of sight. Canada is not doing well for its reputation at this meeting and rather than defend his position on climate change (and it is his position), our glorious leader is nowhere to be seen. Instead, Harper sent out his environment minister to tell the world to fuck off and die. Any coward can stay out of sight. But, it takes a special kind of cowardice to send someone out in your place, to take the blame for your ideas. Luckily for Canada, our prime minister is possessed of the latter kind.
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

On "Being Hit By A Shoe Is Not Torture"

For those who say being hit by a shoe is not torture, I have a proposition. If they themselves are willing to be hit by a shoe, repeatedly, with no power to tell the other person to stop, for as long as it lasts and no matter what damage is done to them and they come out the other side and say it isn't torture, I might listen to them. Otherwise, it is all just blah, blah, blah. Torture is about power and who holds it. It is about making the victim feel that his body is of no consequence and that another person holds the power to decide whether pain is inflicted upon it. It doesn't matter if it is a shoe or a whip. If you don't get to decide when enough is enough, you are being tortured.
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Did. Didn't.

Monty Python demonstrates the government's idea of "refuting" Richard Colvin.

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A Crisis Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

Dalton "I Cry For You" McGuinty is thinking about selling the family silverware to pay the rent. My only question for our bleeding-heart conservative premier is, if the Lottery and the LCBO make money for the government on an ongoing basis, what the Hell are you going to do once the money from their sale is gone? It seems to me you will be in even worse shape, with no revenue coming in from those sources. The bills aren't going to magically disappear, but the sale money will, since it is a one time infusion of cash. We all know what happened when a previous government tried to solve its financial problems by selling the 407, don't we? It didn't turn out so well for either the Conservative Party or the people of Ontario, did it?
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

For Christ's Sake

The Conservatives may as well padlock Parliament, suspend the constitution and declare Harper, president for life. They just do not care how it looks anymore. Not even a little bit.
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Well Surprise, Surprise

The idea of prorogation is now out in the open. You wouldn't believe the reactions I got from friends when I said I thought it was going to happen again. It ranged from "Oh no, Harper wouldn't dare", to hysterical laughter. People have a way of thinking that there is a spark of decency in Harper somewhere. Once you lose that illusion, you have no trouble guessing his next outrage.

Prorogation makes perfect sense, if all you care about is short term survival. It starves the opposition of the forum of the House of Commons (it shuts down all committees)and it moves the calendar past the feel good event of the year, the Olympics. Then the government can come back, blame the Liberals for killing the anti-gun registry bill, raise a shit-load of cash from the wooly hats in its base and carry on as if nothing had happened.
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Monday, December 14, 2009

God Bless Rabbi Yona Metzger

This confirms my faith that there are decent people in Israel, who are willing to stand up to the crazies.
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Rosie DiManno Got It Right

In May 2006 DiManno wrote:
The more pertinent question is why Canadian troops are handing over suspects to Afghan military commanders and their intelligence services when everybody knows that one of two things will likely happen Either the suspects will be let go, out of tribal and ethnic sympathies (the "get out of jail free card," as one exasperated Canadian major in Afghanistan put it to me last month), probably to redouble insurgency efforts, or, alternately, if their intelligence value is deemed to be sufficiently high, those prisoners will disappear into a black hole of injustice, somewhere inside Afghanistan's miserable jail system, never to be heard from again, subjected to who knows what tortures.

Canada quietly made that agreement with the Afghan government in a bilateral treaty signed last December, the thrust of which was to avoid handing over captured prisoners to the Americans because Canadians do not run their own military jails. Assuredly, some American soldiers, particularly military interrogators, disgraced themselves, and their country, by the indignities and even lethal treatment inflicted on captives in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

But so out of proportion to reality have these dismal incidents become - so exaggerated the scathing indictment of all U.S. troops, and America itself - that political optics now demand Canada abandon prisoners to the tender mercies of Afghan authorities instead, even though that country has no judicial institutions to speak of, no prisoner oversight system and a deeply ingrained culture of vengeance.

I'm not attacking Afghans, whom I admire. Their practices have always worked for them. They shouldn't work for us.

Canada, unlike the Dutch, did not even build into their prisoner transfer treaty assurances that humanitarian agencies such as the Red Cross monitor the treatment of these captives. And that makes us culpable in whatever harm befalls them. From: Military tries to massage message May 15, 2006
So, a few in the media anyway were giving warnings (but not in any sustained way). It is clear, at least to me that they were merely repeating what was common knowledge by everyone involved in the Afghan mission. Protests of "We didn't know" from the government are ludicrous on their face.
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Talk About Explaining

On Saturday, Christie Blatchford wrote:
I spent a good part of 2006 in Kandahar - three tours of between four to six weeks each in about 10 months, with another tour in '07 - as an embedded reporter, which means I traveled with Canadian troops. I counted on them to keep my ass safe, and they did. I liked them hugely. The experience was one of the most significant of my life (if not on a par with the drama of being, say, in a budget lockup) and I treasure every minute of it. I made some lifelong friends, and I love some of these men.
Yesterday it was reported that Richard Colvin wrote in 2007, about Asadullah Khalid :
"He runs at least one private detention facility, at which he personally has tortured detainees. ... His record is well known in Kandahar, including among the Canadian press corps."
If you put the two quotes together, they open some interesting avenues of questioning. The MSM needs to explain why, if this was common knowledge "among the Canadian press corps", its reporters were silent in 2006?

Update: To be fair, Paul Koring started ringing alarm bells about torture in general, as far back as March 2006.

Update 2:
What is interesting is in Koring's March 2006 article, public warnings were being issued about our crappy agreement with the Afghan government. It is the first instance I can find where someone mentions that Canada might be complicit in torture. It is also interesting to note Hillier's response.
Among the most glaring differences between the two agreements is that the Dutch government insists on the right to follow, monitor and visit detainees it hands over to Afghan authorities.

Dutch military officers and diplomats can check up on the condition of anyone originally captured by Dutch troops.

No such provision appears in the Canadian "arrangement," as it is officially described.

"The Dutch agreement is written to genuinely protect detainees; the Canadian agreement is written with the clear intention of laundering them," said Amir Attaran, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, who believes that Canada may be complicit in the torture or abuse of detainees by handing them over without sufficient safeguards to the Afghan military.

The Canadian "arrangement" -- a two-page, 13-clause document signed Dec. 18 in Kabul by Chief of the Defence Staff General Rick Hillier -- includes no provision for Canadian officials to check up on what happens to detainees once they are handed over.

It does require that the International Committee of the Red Cross has that right.

Gen. Hillier, who signed the arrangement "for the minister of defence" has defended handing detainees over to Kabul's military and police as an important part of Canada's nation-building effort in Afghanistan.
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Congratulations Stephen Harper

You have managed to turn back the clock. You have taken Franklin Roosevelt's words: "They may be sons-of bitches, but they're our sons-of-bitches" and adopted them as your foreign policy. Your dream has come true. It's 1939 in Canada, once more. No wonder you don't recognize your responsibility under the Geneva Convention on Torture. For you, it hasn't been written yet.
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Saturday, December 12, 2009

As An Aside

I wish there was a Youtube copy of Sue Sylvester's denial of wrongdoing, at her hearing with the principal from last week's Glee. It is a masterwork of denial in the face of overwhelming evidence (to the point of head exploding lunacy). It was the perfect metaphor for the Conservative government and the detainees. If you haven't seen the episode, you can watch the whole thing, here.
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Shorter Norm Spector

In order to cover for a government that may in fact harbor war criminals, it is perfectly ok to raise the straw man of Quebec separatism. After all, it worked once, so the rubes are sure to buy it twice.
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More Simple Answers To Simple Questions

Christie Blatchford:
But neither can Opposition members casually toss around words like torture and phrases like complicity in torture and expect to be simultaneously seen as defenders of the troops: After all who, if not the Canadian Forces, would have been complicit in the torture they allege?
To which I reply, the government dear lady, the government. The same folks who are hiding the documents and heading the country toward a constitutional crisis. The people who are responsible are the ones who put our troops in an untenable position and then did nothing to fix it until forced to by bad press. Simple.
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Simple Answers To Simple Questions

Gerald Caplan writes:
The Conservatives' blatant wooing of Canadian Jews doesn't add up. What do they want from such a tiny, privileged group anyway?
Prime Minister Harper wants to win the Electoral College votes in New York and Florida. Simple.
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Friday, December 11, 2009

On The Other Hand

We can look forward to another Constitutional crisis in the new year, so all is not lost, yet.

Update: Conservatives to Parliament: Drop dead. So it begins. I rate the opposition's chances of winning in court at no better than 50/50. For Harper, this is a no lose proposition. If the courts rule against him, he raises millions for the party through mailings complaining about the courts. If he wins, he becomes the absolute monarch of Canada. The only losers here are Canadians, but there is always hockey.

Update 2: The other reason the Harperites are anxious to get this question before the court is so they can stand up in QP every day and say "We never comment on an issue before the court" whenever someone asks about detainees.

Update 3: I agree with Scott. Keep it out of the courts. Parliament has the power. Use it!
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Canadian Post-Modern Politics

What is wrong with our politics, part 127. Chantel Hebert writes:
According to a CBC-EKOS poll completed earlier in the week, a majority of Canadians already did not buy the government's assertion that it did not overlook the strong possibility the prisoners Canada was handing over to the Afghan authorities would be tortured.

That makes the detainee issue one of this government's biggest public relations flops since it was caught off guard on the environment in the fall of 2006.

But that is not to say that anyone on Parliament Hill believes it could lead to a snap election. The government is hoping the storm will blow over during the parliamentary break. But even if it flares up again in the new year, few opposition strategists believe it will resonate loudly at the ballot box. (emphasis mine)
In other words, objectively torture is wrong. However, subjectively, in Canada, torture is politically survivable and so is, if not accepted, tolerated. If Hebert is correct in her assessment, we are totally, totally fucked. We may as well throw in the towel and declare Harper president for life.
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That's the government's polling number this week. Even after it has been made clear to everyone that the government knew about, but did nothing to stop, prisoners from being tortured for over a year, over one in three voters are willing to back the Conservatives. While, in a normal world, this would be not a bad outcome (after all a majority of Canadians don't support the thugs who are running the place), we don't live in a normal world. We live in a first past the post world, where over one in three is still in government territory. What I am saying is, until we get rid of FPTP, we will be ruled by people who turn a blind eye to torture, supported by people who don't think that is a bad thing.
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Baa, Baa, Baa

John Ibbitson outlines all the reasons Peter MacKay will not be fired, even though he is either incompetent or a war criminal. I agree with Ibbitson. Canada has come to the point where the idea of Afghans being tortured is just fine with a huge chunk of the population. Canada is also a place where the phrase "objectively wrong" has been wiped from the public domain and has been replaced by "politically survivable". We have become a nation of apathetic sheep, led by a group of cynical wolves. Peter MacKay is safe because Harper believes Canadians will be too busy watching the World Juniors to care whether or not his Defense Minister is a war criminal. The unfortunate thing is, I believe he is right. Peter MacKay should not run anything larger than a fruit stand on the highway. He will however be a Minister of the Crown for as long as we let his boss get away with it.
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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Attention War Crimes Prosecutors

The Globe and Mail has a handy, dandy time line for your edification.
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The Checkbox Defense

From the Globe and Mail:
Gen. Natynczyk claimed the case wasn't one of a Canadian-transferred detainee being maltreated by Afghans because the man was never officially listed as captured, even though Canadian soldiers stopped, questioned, and photographed him.
The government's defense seems to be we knew prisoners were being tortured, but we didn't "know" ours were. So, since this man was not checked off on our forms correctly, the government closed its eyes and didn't investigate how our captured prisoners were being treated. Is that about right? I suspect the prosecutors in the Hague would not look too kindly on that defense. "Me'lud we would have done something if only that soldier had ticked the correct box on his form."
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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

When Peter Met Colin

It is fitting the two are friends. They have a lot in common. Colin Powell lied about WMD at the Security Council and Peter lied about torture to anyone with ears. They are meant for each other.
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Monday, December 07, 2009

Mulcair's Crocodile Tears

Susan Delacourt, writes this about the NDP reaction to the December 6 anniversary:
New Democratic Party MP Thomas Mulcair presented a letter to the Commons from 15 women's groups in Quebec, arguing that the firearms registry was still vital to protecting women against violence.

Mulcair, talking to reporters later, agreed it would be "tragic" if the long-gun registry is dismantled after the Conservatives' private-members' bill passes through the committee stage and further votes in the Commons. It cleared an important hurdle last month with second reading, approval by a majority of MPs, including a number of New Democrats and Liberals. (emphasis mine)
Save your sympathy for someone who gives a shit. Your party had a chance to take a stand for women and you sold them out for the "rural" vote. Do you expect people not to remind you of this fact, every time you open your mouth to wail about it being "tragic", as if it was a natural disaster, like an earthquake or fire? Your caucus enabled this "tragedy". This "tragic" outcome is on Jack Layton's head, not God's.
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Peter MacKay Incompetent Or Disingenuous?

Take your pick.

Update: In re-reading the article, it makes clear what has been obvious from the beginning. Our soldiers have behaved correctly in the field and have followed the law, to the best of their ability. The problem has been higher up in the chain of command and the policy makers in Ottawa.
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Sunday, December 06, 2009


Women killed at the Ecole Polytechnique:
Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering studentHélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student
Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student
Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique's finance department
Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student
Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student
Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student
Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student
Opposition members who voted to kill the long gun registry:
NDP Malcom Allen (Welland)
Lib Scott Andrews (Avalon)
NDP Charlie Angus (Timmons-James Bay)
IND Andre Arthur (Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier)
NDP Niki Ashton (Churchill)
Lib Larry Bagnell (Yukon)
NDP Dennis Bevington (Western Arctic)
NDP Nathan Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
Lib Jean-Claude D'Amours (Madawaska—Restigouche)
Lib Wayne Easter (Malpeque)
NDP Claude Gravelle (Nickel Belt)
NDP Carol Hughes (Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing)
NDP Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay—Superior North)
NDP Mark Maloway (Elmwood—Transcona)
Lib Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)
NDP John Rafferty (Thunder Bay—Rainy River)
Lib Anthony Rota (Nipissing—Timiskaming)
Lib Todd Russel (Labrador)
Lib Scott Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)
NDP Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Eastern Shore)
NDP Glen Thibeault (Sudbury)
We will remember.
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Saturday, December 05, 2009

No, But

Brian Topp from his concluding essay about the coalition:
Canada does not have to have a fundamentally illegitimate, hyper-centralized, artificial “majority” government elected through the quirks of our antiquated electoral system, against the wishes of the real majority of our citizens. We are not eternally condemned to elected dictatorship or to Napoleonic politics.

Nor does Canada have to be governed by isolated minority administrations, surviving through inaction or Parliamentary blackmail and brinksmanship.
This is true. We don't have to have these things. But, as long as the elites of this country see their interests best served by this dysfunctional system, and as long as the population at large can be cowed into submission by fear politics and tribalism, this is what we will have. Canada, as a country, would benefit from time in counseling. It is a sick place. Sick at its very core.
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Friday, December 04, 2009

What Is This Parliamentary Democracy Of Which You Speak

Brian Topp from yesterday:
The Prime Minister’s very first line captured the whole Conservative case: “Mr. Speaker, the highest principle of Canadian democracy is that if one wants to be prime minister one gets one’s mandate from the Canadian people and not from Quebec separatists.”

That, of course, is not true. The highest principle of Canadian democracy is that Parliament gets its mandate from the Canadian people, and then selects a ministry from among its ranks to do its bidding. But truth had nothing to do with what happened next.
I don't live in the country Topp describes. Objectively, what he says is true, but the Conservatives (who decry everything post-modern) have adopted subjective truth with both hands. In their opinion, Canadians directly elect the Prime Minister. That this is not so and never has been, in the whole of our constitutional history means nothing. They "believe it is so" and so it is. As Mr. Flanagan so aptly put it (in another context), "It doesn't have to be true. It just has to be plausible."
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Bedazzled By Bullshit

Peter Cook doing his impression of Peter MacKay "answering" questions in the House.


Joe Niem | MySpace Video
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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Rejected Cheryl Gallant Lines

Every time the Afghanistan mission is debated in Canada:
an angel is cast out of Heaven
baby Jesus catches a cold
a puppy is put to death
the elephants holding up the world get weaker
I make a frowny face in my diary
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Forcing Diplomats To Lie

Canadians should be troubled by the following paragraphs:
CTV News obtained 180 pages of e-mails, including ones written by Colvin, that are among the documents. They were heavily censored, and what could be seen shed little light on the controversy.

But one e-mail underlined Colvin's frustration. He complained about "hyper secrecy" on the detainee issue, and orders from Ottawa to put "nothing in writing."

He said the apparent restrictions amounted to "a very troubling politicization of reporting" and effectively told diplomats, "We must lie to each other."
If our foreign service is being forced to lie to itself by politicians, then the products of its labors are useless and any real intelligence they have to offer will be dismissed as partisan spin. This puts the security of the country at risk for the greater glory of the current occupants of the PMO.
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The Next Domino

Former Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan, Arif Lalani. For what reason did he want Colvin's reports watered down and on a limited distribution list? These are simple questions and I am sure he has good explanations, but Canadians deserve to hear them from the man himself.
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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Gerrry Nicholls: Raising The Level Of The Debate

From "intellectually infantile" to a respectable grade 3 level.
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Gunshot Residue Thought Experiment

Christie Blatchford, in her first missive on Saturday, wrote the following:
From the start, Canadian soldiers were using gunshot residue tests (this was mentioned by the former chief of defence staff Rick Hillier in his testimony to the committee this week, but the significance of the remark went unnoticed) to sift the wheat from the chaff.
Since Saturday, the GSR as proof that the people caught up in the sweeps by Canadian soldiers were not "simple farmers" line, has been taken up by others in comments in other places. I find this to be a fascinating argument. I mean, it's not as if farmers shoot guns, right? That's why Canadian farmers are such strong proponents of the long gun registry. I wonder how random GSR testing (with the threat of immediate arrest if positive) would go over in rural Canada?
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Harper Government All-Purpose Smear

George Monbiot hates the troops and wants the Taliban to win!
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