Friday, September 30, 2005

CBC Lockout Watch, Day 47

Antonia Zerbisias has figured out why the lockout has dragged on for seven weeks: management has no incentive to end it!

Think about CBC. Top management has absolutely no incentive to end the dispute because there is no financial penalty in continuing it.

In a private company, losses would pile up as assembly lines ground to a halt and inventories dried up. Executive bonuses would shrink. Shareholders would scream and yell.

But CBC managers are getting paid extra to cover for the locked-out workers. There will be more money for them to play with after this is all over. There's no financial downside.

Think of it this way: It's as if striking workers were being paid their full salaries and benefits to walk the picket line.

The Parliamentary Heritage Committee has requested the attendance of the top four CBC executives to answer two simple questions: what are you going to do to end the lockout, and what did you do with the money you saved during it?

Bill Brioux notes that even if the CBC settles the lockout quickly, it's ruined the season premieres, and locked itself out of the ratings war.

Yet another plaintive letter from the dispossessed:

CBC unites our country from coast to coast. It gives us the ability to speak to each other, share our lives, dreams and visions of what our country should and shouldn't be. It promotes, protects and projects our culture to the world.

This is not your broadcasting company, this is our broadcasting company, paid for with our tax dollars. We should be part of these negotiations.

I can't get enough of these people who keep reciting the mantra that CBC alone allows Canadians to share their stories with each other and the world. Did we all just stumble around in dumb incomprehension before CBC?

Was British Columbia terra incognita to Nova Scotians, an exotic land of legend and mystery like Cathay or the Kingdom of Prester John?

One wonders how the Fathers of Confederation and builders of the CPR ever managed to unite this fair dominion without the guiding hand of CBC, to hear their fans speak of it.

If the CBC is all that's holding this country together, then Canada is not long for this world.

Will He Or Won't He?

Rumours that Peter MacKay might return to Nova Scotia to succeed John Hamm as premier are flying fast and furious, along with the usual media hints of an impending leadership crisis in the Conservative Party.

Apparently Stephen Harper hasn't pleaded on bended knee for MacKay to stay, and that's enough to fuel another week of stories about Harper's supposedly endangered leadership.

Peter MacKay says he's received "heart-warming" entreaties to stick with the federal Conservatives from his caucus colleagues, but none from Tory Leader Stephen Harper.

The apparently cool response from Harper will likely revive talk of Conservative leadership tension as MacKay contemplates overtures to join the race to succeed retiring Nova Scotia Premier John Hamm.


One senior Tory insider insisted "there's no story here. That's Stephen's personality."

Harper is a professional, said the source, and expects others to behave the same way. "You shouldn't need to be cajoled into staying."

And Harper's spokeswoman, Carolyn Stewart-Olsen, said the point is moot because MacKay has repeatedly indicated to Harper that he would be staying with the federal party.

"Peter always said he was going to stay in Ottawa, so it's kind of an odd story," she said.

That's not to say there isn't an issue.

The easy speculation is that Harper wants his deputy out because MacKay keeps stealing the limelight. More Machiavellian minds might see MacKay painting Harper in a negative light.

Or it could just be the latest case of poor Conservative optics, a byproduct of Harper's debilitating lack of people skills.

The media will condemn Harper no matter what he does. If he'd beseeched MacKay to stay in Ottawa, they'd have said that he was desperately trying to save his party's fortunes and prevent an exodus of former PCers behind MacKay.

Whether he stays or goes, they'll call it trouble for Harper.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Man And Wives

Homosexual marriage advocates swore up and down that redefining marriage couldn't possibly lead to polygamy.

So-called moderates said civil unions would be a workable compromise.

This newlywed Dutch man and his two wives would beg to differ.

Victor de Bruijn, 46, of Roosendaal "married" both Bianca, 31, and Mirjam, 35, in a ceremony Friday, the Brussels Journal reported.

"I love both Bianca and Mirjam, so I am marrying them both," said de Bruijn who previously was married to Bianca.


De Bruijn explained: "A marriage between three persons is not possible in the Netherlands, but a civil union is. We went to the notary in our marriage costume and exchanged rings. We consider this to be just an ordinary marriage."

Someone has finally gone through the door opened by homosexual marriage to polygamy. The Netherlands has a significant Muslim population whose men may well follow.

Polygamy has infinitely more cultural and historical sanction in its favour than the novelty of homosexual marriage.

It is now no longer alien to Canada, with the growth of our Muslim population, polygamist Mormon sects established out west and the growing polyamorist movement for polygamists who practice for non-religious reasons.

If gender is irrelevant to civil marriage, why is the number of participants sacrosanct?

Surely it is unfair to refuse a man the right to take three women and say to them "I do! I do! I do!"

Balancing Act

The Liberals love balancing the budget so much that they're going to make it the law .

A spokesman for Finance Minister Ralph Goodale refused to comment, but it is understood the government will introduce legislation that guarantees the maintenance of an annual contingency fund.

The so-called "no deficit rule" has been in effect since the budget was balanced in 1997-98, but it remains a convention rather than a legislated requirement. The legislation, which may come as part of Mr. Goodale's fall fiscal update, will also likely commit the government to reducing the debt/GDP ratio to 25% by 2014, from the current 39%.

The dramatic rise in government spending in the last fiscal year has led to accusations by Conservatives that the budget surplus is being squandered and that the economy could slide back into deficit if growth slows.

Sounds like a good idea in practice, no? But even the major banks think it's a bad one:

However, Don Drummond, chief economist at TD Bank Financial Group, said a guarantee against deficits was "horrifically bad policy. This is entirely political. We have created an 11th principle 'thou shalt never go into deficit' but the impact of a $1- or $2-billion deficit in an economy our size would be irrelevant. The whole thing seems bizarre."

Many economists believe a commitment never to run a deficit might lead governments to raise taxes or reduce spending during a slowdown, and thereby exacerbate the economic downturn.

Tim O'Neill, the chief economist at Bank of Montreal who was asked to review Canadian fiscal forecasting this year by Mr. Goodale, concluded the no-deficit rule was a major cause of the persistent inaccuracies in budget forecasting that have seen the government continually under-estimate large surpluses.

Mr. O'Neill recommended the government instead balance its budget over an economic cycle, which would allow deficits to be incurred when warranted by economic circumstances.

Can you see the NDP agreeing to this in the Liberals' next budget, when even the major bank economists can see the need to run the odd deficit budget in an emergency? The only reason it's there is to embarrass the Tories for voting against one of their own platform planks.

What assurance do we have that the contingency fund will not be treated as just another stream of general revenues?

The idea of a federal heritage fund, like Alberta's, sounds attractive in theory, but in practice, it's likely to become another federal slush fund.

Peter For Premier?

John Hamm's retirement from the premiership of Nova Scotia has some people pushing for his coronation as premier.

And it has the Globe and Mail working hard to spin the possibility as further evidence of the Conservative Party's collapse:

Sources said yesterday Mr. MacKay is not inclined at this point to try to replace the retiring Premier John Hamm, but Mr. MacKay's departure would be a significant blow to a party that is already being seen as too influenced by the old Canadian Alliance/Reform Party.


The influence of the old Progressive Conservatives took a hit earlier this year with Belinda Stronach's decision to cross the floor. Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper could ill afford the loss of his second-in-command at a time when the party is trailing the Liberals in the polls and prone to accusations that its PC wing lacks influence.

However, Mr. Harper appeared to give Mr. MacKay his blessing yesterday for whatever he decides, telling CTV Newsnet that his deputy has a bright future wherever it may be.


Although Mr. Harper and Mr. MacKay are cordial, Mr. MacKay's colleagues have complained that Mr. Harper does not confide in his deputy and that he is not intimately involved in party strategy.

Earlier this week, Mr. MacKay became angry after an anonymous colleague said he was campaigning for the party leadership. Mr. MacKay is one of the party's most popular MPs and is in great demand as a speaker and fundraiser across the country.

The subtext of Brian Laghi's hit piece disguised as hard news is that Peter MacKay's departure would send the rest of the former PCs scrambling away from the party, while MacKay retreated to the safety of the Nova Scotia premiership to await his coronation as the saviour of the federal Tory party.

But all the former PCs who left in fear of Stephen Harper, have already gone, and will not be lured back by a new leader, no matter how much of a Red Tory he might be.

(Leave aside the comment about Belinda being an influential ex-PCer for its patent untruth. Belinda never did more than dabble in the PC Party, and in its last leader.)

The deep divisions that supposedly exist between former members of the predecessor parties don't exist at the riding level. Having worked at the EDA level, and as someone who was a federal PC at the time of the merger, I've haven't seen them.

Probably because members of both parties were already working together in the same party provincially before the merger, it wasn't a stretch for them to come together federally.

The media also doesn't see just how committed people were to seeing the merger work; I've seen EDA boards and executive made up of people who opposed the merger, on both sides, working together now in harmony.

As a practical matter, the membership and EDA workers don't care who was a member of what party before the merger.

Peter MacKay is unlikely to return to Nova Scotia to become premier at this point. Why should he? He'd be thrown into a minority government and a provincial election where people would be in the mood to blame it for rising gas prices. If he lost the election, his career would be over.

But even if he did, it would be a sign of strength for the federal party that its deputy leader could be coronated premier.

But you'll never read that in the Globe.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Wanton Challenge

Rick Mercer admits that he's not only a terrible blogger, but that he's also just not that funny anymore.

Doing the Kyoto one tonne challenge ads damaged his credibility as a satirist and in the bargain, diminished his performing talents as well.

Now he's reduced to childish potty humour. He's fallen a long way from the original This Hour Has 22 Minutes.

CBC Lockout Watch, Day 46

The CMG has officially rejected CBC's creative proposal as a basis for negotiation, condeming CBC for taking out newspaper ads about their offer with a hypocrisy that is simply breathtaking in light of CMG's own initial surprise public offer.

The Parliamentary Heritage Committee will summon the top four CBC execs to Ottawa after the lockout to answer some tough questions, including this one: if CBC locks out its employees again, should the government lock up CBC's funding for the duration?

An excellent idea, if I do say so myself. If CBC has become more watchable and listenable during the lockout, it will be irresistable when they have to run nothing but test patterns.

Claire Hoy calls bullshit on the groundswell of public outrage about the CBC lockout that CBC fans claim is rising throughout the land:

To be sure, a series of articles about the “growing public angst” have appeared in several newspapers lately, written mostly by journalists who are not only CBC fans but are also regulars on various network political and entertainment panels.

And other elites in politics and academia have also been collectively wringing their hands about a network which many claim – apparently in earnest – is central to Canada’s very identity.

The truth is that in a world of almost limitless television and radio channels, the CBC, if it ever was central to the lives of most Canadians, has become less relevant as both of source of news (which is routinely slanted to the left of center anyway) and entertainment.


But ask yourself: has the CBC lockout really changed your life? Or have you, like most Canadians, barely noticed?

If there is any real urgency in getting the thing settled, it has nothing to do with all the exaggerated rhetoric about the importance of the CBC to Canada’s psyche, and everything to do with the fact that the NHL is about to restart after missing an entire season.

As much as the elites want you to believe that we couldn’t survive as a country without this publicly-funded network, the one program which Canadians do watch in huge numbers is Hockey Night in Canada.

Take away hockey with the rest of CBC Sports and CBC might actually have to focus on its mandate. Nobody would be watching, but they'd actually have to put up or shut up about their claims to be the great Canadian public interest broadcaster.

Lorrie Goldstein has some interesting numbers from a Ryerson study about bias among Canadian TV news directors:

It found that 45.8% of all Canadian television news directors surveyed in 2002 said they were Liberal voters. By contrast, only 14.6% said they were Progressive Conservative voters, 10.4% Canadian Alliance, 10.4% NDP. This put the news directors at the high end of overall public support for the Liberals during that period (40-46% according to the polls) and at the low end for the PCs (15-18%), Alliance (14-18%) and NDP (13-16%).

The professors said their study suggests Canadian journalists vote much like the public, contrary to other countries, such as the U.S., where they tend to be more liberal and left wing.

The notable exception, they concluded, is that "journalists at Canada's public broadcaster, the CBC, share a different profile and are more likely to hold left-of-centre political views." Uh ... duh.


But beyond that, (Marsha) Barber and (Ann) Rauhala also found that the most influential person in Canadian TV newsrooms -- both public and private sector -- in determining how political news is covered, is a Liberal voter almost half the time. By contrast, he or she is (was) a supporter of the former Alliance party, with which Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is most closely identified, only one time in 10. And at the CBC, zero times in 10.

As the last generation of news directors and editors educated largely outside journalism schools retires, the new generations of j-school educated successors, schooled with a heavy leftist bias, will make this bias even more pronounced.

It would be interesting to find out what the geographic distribution of the news directors' voting preferences was. I suspect that the PC & Alliance supporters were grouped in one part of the country, while the all-powerful Toronto news directors were Liberal and NDP voters to a man, thus giving them even more influence than their numbers would suggest.

Dingwall's Golden Handshake

David Dingwall lobbied when he wasn't registered, collected commissions he shouldn't have even when he was.

He was responsible for making change at the Mint, and he couldn't spare his own to pay for a pack of gum.

None of this will prevent him from getting a nice fat severance package--how fat, we don't know--on top of his $77,000 a year parliamentary pension.

Being Liberal means never having to say you're sorry.

Source: Toronto Star

International Outlaws

The Red Cross, whose once admirable humanitarian aims have been replaced with stale anti-American hectoring, is condeming the Canadian army in Afghanistan for turning over Al-Qaeda terrorists to the United States:

The International Committee of the Red Cross says it was notified by Canada that in the past 11 days, JTF2 special forces had handed over prisoners to the American military after capturing them in Afghanistan.

Red Cross spokesman Vincent Lusser said the transfer is the first such handover of combatants in Afghanistan since a renewed flareup of violence earlier this year, and is believed to be the first country-to-country exchange of prisoners since Hamid Karzai formally became Afghanistan's president in 2002.

According to Mr. Lusser, the fighting in Afghanistan is not "an international armed conflict," and therefore the prisoners are not technically prisoners of war.

But he pointed out that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions requires that anyone taken prisoner in any sort of fighting, not just recognized international conflicts, is to be protected from violence, torture and cruel treatment.

Critics, such as Amnesty International, question whether that is good enough, given the reports of American mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in Iraq.

The Red Cross practically wrote the Geneva Conventions, and in so doing, helped established civilized norms for the treatment of prisoners of war at a time when they varied widely from country to country.

Most of the critics of U.S. and coalition partners' treatment of terrorist prisoners who fall outside the current international law definitions of combattants and prisoners of war prefer to damn the coalition for not following non-existent international law, instead of recommending positive changes to it.

The Geneva Conventions did not foresee combattant forces who acted for organizations outside the control of any state. There is a gap in international law which the U.S. is trying to fill by treating these unusual prisoners as humanely as possible without according them the same privileges as ordinary prisoners of war.

These men are more than common criminals, yet they are not soldiers in the service of any state. They are outside international law as it stands.

If the Red Cross and their fellow travellers love international law so much, why not recommend creating conventions to define the status and treatment of these men in law, instead of just bitching from the sidelines?

Source: Ottawa Citizen

The Accidental Premier

John Hamm never set out to be premier of Nova Scotia.

When he was elected to Province House in 1993, he was the only new member of the nine-man Progressive Conservative caucus, elected as much on his local popularity as a respected physician as on the residual strength of the Tory party in Pictou County.

No one thought that he would be more than a caretaker leader of the party when he took over in 1995, largely because no one else who wasn't already tainted by association with John Buchanan's scandal-plagued government wanted it.

No one thought that when he pulled the plug on the minority Liberal government of Russell MacLellan in 1999, that he would survive an unwanted summer election which everyone expected Robert Chisholm's NDP to win.

No one thought that he could balance the provincial budget and make a deal with the feds for Nova Scotia's fair share of offshore oil and gas royalties.

While he leaves the Tories with a minority government, he leaves the party dominant in the rural mainland while the NDP remains locked in Metro Halifax and the Liberals have retrenched to Cape Breton.

John Hamm was a far more effective premier and party leader than anyone could have foreseen in 1995. Perhaps there is something to be said for not having burning ambition for higher office and sparkling charisma.

Source: Yahoo

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

CBC Lockout Watch, Day 45

The blogosphere has been abuzz with rumours about what CBC called its "creative proposal" to bring a quick end to the lockout. Here are the highlights:

A 13% pay raise over 5 years, retroactive to 2004

Full pension and benefits for contract employees

Bumping positions from radio to TV and vice versa

$15 million in back payments for pay equity between comparable jobs

No more than 90 additional contract positions a year

CMG has not officially responded; some of their blogging members are claiming victory, while others remain sceptical.

CBC has just won four prestigious Prix Italia broadcasting awards. It still remains shut out of the coveted Silver Sow.

Today's crazy CBC fan letter of the day comes from 11 year old Jacqueline Donner in Winnipeg, who vents her frustrations at the "Priminster" thus:

Dear Priminister,

Just to let youi know I'm very very mad at you. Hurry up and let the CBC workers win. I don't have my bed time story any more cause 'between the covers' is gone gone gone. So hurry up and let them win already.

I'm sure thousands of people feel the same way.

Good day, from very mad Jacqueline, 11 yrs in Winnipeg.


P.S. I don't know your name but I'd prefer to call you Priminister.


Dear Jacqueline:

Most CBCers fail to display the same level of maturity and intellectual ability that you, a mere grade five or six student, so ably demonstrate.

We're all very mad at Priminister too, Jacqueline. Everybody on this blogroll is madder at Priminister than you could know.

If you need a bedtime story to put you to sleep, might I suggest having your mother read Noam Chomsky or Jacques Derrida? Or another turgid Margaret Atwood story? That way, you'll get the full benefit of CBC programming without having to listen to it. You won't be able to tell the difference.

Anyway, by the time the lockout ends, you'll be too old for bedtime stories and more interested in boys than the CBC. And that's how it should be.

Earn With Earnscliffe

Paul Martin's PMO-in-waiting, Earnscliffe Strategy Group, has been the government relations and lobbying firm to go in Ottawa since '93. And they've got the receipts to prove it:

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.


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.

Earnscliffe created Paul Martin's false image as a confident and competent manager of the public treasury, without which he might never have been able to make his way to 24 Sussex Drive.

The Canadian taxpayers underwrote much of Paul Martin's 15-year leadership campaign, and Earnscliffe sold us a bill of goods in return.

They got the money and power and a laugh at our expense for getting the Liberal Party and the country to believe in the false messiah.

Everybody got ripped off, in more ways than one.

Source: Ottawa Citizen


David Dingwall's days of wine and roses at the Royal Canadian Mint are over:

Dingwall issued a statement Wednesday announcing that he was stepping down so that the controversy would not detract from the work of the Mint. The former Liberal cabinet minister has been under fire over reports that he and top aides racked up expenses of more than $740,000 last year.

He has also been criticized for failing to register as a lobbyist for Bioniche Life Sciences Inc., a Toronto pharmaceutical company.

Reports have said the company agreed to pay Dingwall up to $350,000 for his help in securing grants under a Technology Partnerships Canada program - even though program rules forbid hiring lobbyists.

Dingwall's resignation rids Martin of a Chretien loyalist who was also up to his scuppers in Adscam, first as the public works minister who brought Chuck Guite into the department to run it, thenas the lobbyist Adscam beneficiary Jean Lafleur hired to lobby on behalf of client VIA Rail.

It also allows Martin to look like he's doing something about Techscam at the same time.

Dingwall's resignation kills three birds with one stone for Martin.

But it doesn't clear away the stench of corruption hanging over the government.

Source: National Post

Loose Change

David Dingwall had better get the fellows on the shop floor to crank up the coin minting machines because he's got some bills to pay:

David Dingwall, the president of the Royal Canadian Mint, and his top aides racked up total office expenses of more than $740,000 last year, government documents indicate.

Included were over $130,000 in foreign and domestic travel, $14,000 in meals and $11,000 in hospitality. The mint also appears to have picked up a $1,400 tab for Dingwall's membership in an Ottawa-area golf club, and $1,500 in membership fees in the Nova Scotia barristers' society.

Documents outlining the spending were obtained under the Access to Information Act by Conservative MP Brian Pallister. He believes that Dingwall, a former Liberal cabinet minister, owes the public an explanation.

"It's kind of shocking," Pallister said in an interview Tuesday. "This is a continuation of an unfortunate trend among Liberal patronage appointees to show relatively little respect for the people who pay their bills."

Dingwall and other mint officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The mint president earns a salary in excess of $200,000, although the exact amount has not been publicly disclosed.

He is also eligible for merit pay, depending on his performance, although the documents give no indication whether he is earning such a bonus.

How does one determine merit pay for the head of the mint? If the mint makes more money making money, does he keep the change? Do they pay him with collector coin sets? Does he run down to the Bank of Canada to change it for paper money?

Or is it like the outstanding achievement award that everybody gets?

Source: Yahoo

Ste. Michaelle

John Ibbitson's mash note to Michaelle Jean is the most annoying editorial I have seen in the Globe and Mail ever. And that's saying something:

Her promise is the promise of what we almost are, of what we want to be. She is the becoming Canada.


The millions -- no, the many millions -- who are in our land today having arrived from somewhere else can tell us of real wounds, real pain, a pain known to those who came here a quarter century ago from a ravaged Southeast Asia, or half a century ago from a ravaged Europe. Our new Governor-General knows this pain.

"The story of that little girl, who watched her parents, her family, and her friends grappling with the horrors of a ruthless dictatorship, who became the woman standing before you today, is a lesson in learning to be free," she declared.

Those who came before can take life-fulfilling pride in knowing that they created the country that brought her here, and her brothers and sisters from Sri Lanka and Somalia and Lebanon and Guatemala. They created a place where she could be free because all are free.

Now a new Canada seeks to fashion a new kind of freedom, the freedom to renounce ethnic perimeters, the freedom for all to embrace all. Michaëlle Jean is their voice.

Ibbitson must be angling for an appointment. He really had to reach to transform a shabby political appointment done in a rush to shore up the Haitian vote in Montreal into a living Statue of Liberty lifting her lamp beside the golden door.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

CBC Lockout Watch, Day 44

Yesterday's discussions under the watchful eye of Labour Minister Joe Fontana covered the hot topic of contract employment. CBC's statement suggests that they got called on the carpet for not promising more full-time permanent positions:

CBC wants to reach an agreement as quickly as possible. We are hopeful that these discussions will allow us to move toward reaching an agreement that not only reflects the business realities and requirements of the broadcasting world, but at the same time respects the career aspirations of our employees.

This is the first time that CBC has ever admitted that some people don't like living their lives from contract to contract. Yet many of these same people keep doing so, not because they prefer contract work, but because they can't seem to let go of the dream of being a real CBC employee.

What else could explain some of these people hanging on for years on end as contract employees for a permanent position that will never come, even when offers of better-paid permanent work with private stations are put before them?

As long as CBC promotes itself as the one true voice of Canadian public broadcasting, there will be people who would clean the floors of the Toronto Broadcast Centre with their tongues just to say they worked for CBC. CBCers have no one but themselves to blame for the abuse they take from management as a result of their fanatical devotion to CBC.

Andrew Coyne takes up Patrick Watson's suggestion to put the CBC out to tender and raises the possibility of moving CBC to pay-per-view, as an alternative to operating under advertising revenue or parliamentary grants:

Under ad finance, programming is not produced and sold to viewers: rather, viewers themselves are the product, to be packaged and sold to advertisers. The effect is to focus programmers on quantity, as opposed to quality. What counts is how many eyeballs happen to be watching, regardless of how intensely they may be watching. Hence the familiar evils of private broadcasting: the tendency to the lowest common denominator, the indifference to specialized tastes, the monotonous sameness, all in pursuit of the broadest possible audience.

If viewers are pandered to under ad finance, under public funding they are ignored altogether. In theory, a publicly funded broadcaster, without the necessity of courting advertisers, is freed to serve the audience, or rather audiences, in all their diversity. But that depends on those in charge of both intuiting audience needs and responding to them, in the absence of any incentive to do so. Occasionally, miraculously, they do. More often they serve other masters, with other agendas: governments, friends, themselves.


People behave differently when they pay for something. It's the difference between HBO and ABC. Viewers of pay channels are both more demanding and more committed than viewers of traditional, over-the-air TV. They have made an investment in taste, and wish to see it pay dividends.

The mere suggestion by Richard Stursberg while he was running the Canadian Cable Television Association that CBC might eventually become a standard cable channel sent CBC fans into hysterics when it came to light.

Their reaction highlighted the main obstacle to serious debate about reform of the CBC: the people who claim to be committed to Canadian public broadcasting are really committed to an increasingly outdated model. Nostalgia for the good old days seems to fuel so much of their passion; note how many references by CBC fans speak not to what CBC could be in the future, but to what it was in the past.

The audience for a dynamic new all-Canadian public interest CBC on pay-per-view is the same audience that will fight to the death to prevent it.

The picket line along the processional route to Rideau Hall lowered its signs as outgoing governor general Adrienne Clarkson and incoming governor general Michaelle Jean passed by.

Did the picketers do so to honour the vice-regal office, or to honour two fellow CBC alumnae?

With four of Canada's past five governors general having worked for CBC at one point, would it have made more sense to picket Rideau Hall as originally threatened, since the office seems to have become a form of out-relief for ex-CBCers?

Broken Compass

The chief of the New Orleans police, Edwin Compass, has resigned following the disgraceful conduct of many of his officers during Hurricane Katrina:

As the city slipped into anarchy during the first few days after Katrina, the 1,700-member police department itself suffered a crisis. Many officers deserted their posts, and some were accused of joining in the looting that broke out. Two officers Compass described as friends committed suicide.


Chaos reigned in New Orleans as Katrina's floodwaters rose. Gunfire and other lawlessness broke out around the city. Rescue workers reported being shot at.

At the height of the Katrina chaos, Compass fed the image of lawlessness in the city by publicly repeating allegations that people were being beaten and babies raped at the convention center, where thousands of evacuees had taken shelter. The allegations have since proved largely unsubstantiated.


Earlier in the day Tuesday, the department said that about 250 police officers _ roughly 15 percent of the force _ could face discipline for leaving their posts without permission during Katrina and its aftermath.

Each case will be investigated to determine whether the officer was truly a deserter or had legitimate reasons to be absent, Riley said.

"Everything will be done on a case-by-case basis. The worst thing we could do is take disciplinary action against someone who was stranded in the storm or whose child is missing," Riley said.

Sally Forman, a spokeswoman for the mayor, said it is not clear whether the deserters can be fired. She said the city is still looking into the civil service regulations.

When Compass was put to the test, he and many of his men failed. Even if his force was hampered by breakdowns in communications and the local authorities' incompetence, there was no excuse for any of them to desert or become looters.

It's astonishing to think that any of the officers whose ran away like cowards or turned to looting could be allowed back in uniform as if nothing had happened.

But even if they are, the ones who stayed will close ranks against them, and make working with them so uncomfortable that they'll be forced to quit.

Compass sealed his fate with his hysterical claims of mass murder, rape and riot in the Superdome and Convention Center, claims that have now been disproven as exaggerated urban legends. His comments provoked public hysteria and may have indirectly contributed to the deaths of people who stayed to drown in their own homes rather than test the rumours of what was going on in the emergency shelters for themselves.

The contrast between the reactions of New Orleans and Houston police to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita did not go unnoticed.

He was called upon to lead, and his men were called upon to follow. Both failed. He had to go.

Source: Washington Post

Chickenhawks Coming To Roost?

Many people will be outraged at the suggestion that there is a connection between support by the Liberals, NDP and Bloc for homosexual marriage and these same parties' opposition to raising the age of consent for sex from 14 to 16.

But consider that Canada's largest homosexual rights lobby wants the age for consent to anal sex lowered from 18 to whatever the age of consent ends up being eventually:

C-313 is opposed by the majority of MPs from the Bloc Quebecois, the NDP and Liberals.

"It is an amendment to the Criminal Code to prevent adults from preying on children," (Conservative MP Rick) Casson said.

The bill would be "one more tool in the war chest our police can use to protect children against predators."


If the age of consent is changed, it should be done so "across the board," said Calgary's Stephen Lock, on the national board of Egal, which promotes equality for gays and lesbians.

Mr. Lock pointed to the Criminal Code clause that sets the age of consent for anal sex at 18. "Susie and Johnny can consent to have sex and it's not a criminal act. Tommy and Johnny, if they have anal sex and they're not 18, their sexual expression is criminalized."

If the age of consent isn't raised to 16, you can bet that the homosexual lobby will succeed eventually into having the age of consent for sodomy lowered to 14. The chickenhawks who prey on pubescent boys--the same sort of men who, as Catholic priests in the United States, were responsible for the bulk of sexual abuse in the Church--will demand it.

Not publicly, of course, but they'll be taking cover behind the same arguments of "fairness" and "equality" that won them the legal capacity to contract civil marriage.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Betting On The GG

For what it's worth, Michaelle Jean is getting some good polling numbers in Quebec:

According to the results of a The Globe and Mail/CTV poll, Jean has the potential to build support in Quebec, a province typically reluctant to embrace any vestiges of the British Monarchy.

Unlike the rest of Canada, where 64 per cent of those polled said they think the Governor General's job is an important one, that figure in Quebec was just 37 per cent.

The potential Jean could turn that around however, is found in her overall popularity. In stark contrast to the rest of the country -- where 46 per cent of those surveyed thought her appointment was a good choice -- Jean had the support of 71 per cent in Quebec.

Jean's popularity also skews to younger adults and women, 65 per cent of whom think her role is important versus 51 per cent of men.

As Canadians get to know their new Governor General better, the poll results also suggest Jean can expect her popularity to rise.

After hearing the broad outline of Jean's life story, however, starting from her childhood in Haiti to her emigration and successful career as a multilingual broadcaster, her approval rating jumped from 46 per cent to 63 per cent.

Will the office of governor general now become the exclusive preserve of Quebecois appointees, much as the prime minister's office has effectively become a Quebecois office since Pierre Trudeau?

If so, it will be for even less purpose, because Quebec is not likely to forget the Plains of Abraham and conscription any time soon and embrace the monarchy of les anglais.

The rest of Canada's attachment to the Crown is already fairly weak. Quebec's will always be that much weaker.

If the office is essentially a sinecure for Liberal hacks and affirmative action tokens who do nothing but rubberstamp the PMO's decisions and cut ribbons, why drag the Crown it represents along with it?

Our own growing prime ministerial dictatorship needs an effective executive check to help restore parliamentary democracy in Canada. The tradition of governors general acting only on the advice of their ministers has allowed the Crown to become a tool to subvert democratic government.

A popularly-elected head of state with a democratic mandate to act, when necessary, against a prime minister would carry more legitimacy than an appointed representative of an increasingly foreign monarchy.

Only constitutional inertia prevents Canadians from implementing the best solution: replacing a feeble vice-regent with a powerful president.

Source: CTV

Belinda Bucks

Belinda Stronach's betrayal of party and lover just made her a little wealthier than before:

Human Resources Minister Belinda Stronach stands to make $15-million as she sells all of her holdings in Magna International Inc. to abide by conflict-of-interest rules for members of cabinet, public disclosure documents show.

In addition, Ms. Stronach sold about $4.6-million worth of shares in her family's auto-parts company shortly after she entered cabinet last spring.

Asked yesterday what she plans to do with the money, Ms. Stronach said: “I think I have to put it in the bank and save.”

In an agreement with the federal government's Ethics Commissioner that was released over the weekend, Ms. Stronach has also signed an undertaking to recuse herself from cabinet discussions on issues dealing with the automotive and steel industries, as well as some international tax treaties.

How much the worse for cabinet not to have the benefit of Belinda's wide and detailed knowledge of such matters during their discussions.

That's why the Liberals lured her over, right?

Source: Globe and Mail

Monday, September 26, 2005

CBC Lockout Watch, Day 43

The two sides met today in Ottawa with Joe Fontana, but withoutRobert Rabinovitch in the room.

Liza Frulla tells a crowd of bloodthirsty CBCers on Parliament Hill that "we'll see" about firing Rabinovitch after the lockout ends.

Is this the beginning of the end of for the embattled CBC president?

Ouimet the tea lady warns CBCers not to get their hopes up about Joe Fontana's intervention:

He's a no-name politician: not only is he the last guy we want help from, but the one least likely to help. And there’s not much he can do.

But of course, Joe has already won. He’s thrown some muscle around, shut down negotiations for 2 days, ordered everyone to Ottawa, and shown Canadians he’s a concerned guy. If things work out, he can take some of the credit, and if they don’t he can spin it any way he needs to so that he comes out on top. This is how a no-name politician gets a little higher.

I just wouldn't expect much more out of it than that.

Perhaps the Labour Minister can't settle the lockout by himself, but he can remind both sides that his party is all that's standing between them and oblivion. And if there should be an election forced upon them....

Toronto: Bad For Business

The collective sense of smug self-satisfaction that hangs over Toronto like the summer smog may have been bruised a little by Canadian Business magazine calling it the worst city in Canada to do business in:

It's no surprise that Toronto is expensive to live and work in, but costs are only half the story. The survey also looks at corporate building permits,
unemployment and crime rates in 40 cities. The combination of these factors
propelled booming St. John's, Nfld., to the top of the list and shoved Toronto
to the bottom, despite it having one of the lowest crime rates in the country.

"It's a wake-up call for upper-level politicians and business leaders,"
says senior writer Andy Holloway. "Because what really turns the tables
against Canada's largest city is that business activity appears to have
stopped growing." While Toronto's housing boom continues, non-residential
building permits declined 18% during the first six months of 2005, compared to
the same period a year earlier. Meanwhile, the city's unemployment rate grew
by 1.4% from June 2004 to June 2005.

Toronto households still fund much of the social infrastructure for the
rest of the country, paying almost $9,500 more in tax than they receive in
government service. Allowing Toronto to keep some of the money it raises would
be nice, say city officials.

People who don't have to, don't want to live here. And now, they don't have to work here either. Toronto isn't New York run by the Swiss any more. Heck, New York run by New Yorkers is doing better than Switzerland run by the Swiss. To say nothing of Toronto, run by the NDP.

Source: Canada News Wire

The Peter Principle

More evidence that the so-called dump-Harper movement is sound and fury signifying nothing; the only MP who could step into the Conservative leadership right away is being warned to watch what he says:

OTTAWA -- The Conservative party faces a new crisis this week after a number of MPs signalled their frustration with Tory Peter MacKay, whom they feel is undermining Stephen Harper's leadership to position himself as the party's saviour-in-waiting.

Several Conservatives have told CanWest News Service that MacKay, the leader of the former Progressive Conservative party and a front-runner to succeed Harper, has rankled some of his fellow caucus members with comments made in the media that suggest he is distancing himself from the embattled party.

"It looks to our people like Peter views his interests as being at cross-purposes with the party for the next election. If the party does poorly, his ascendancy is accelerated. At least he would see it that way," said an Ontario Conservative MP, who spoke on condition that his name not be published.

"I mean, I like the guy actually, and I could see myself supporting him one day, but I want to win the next election."


The first concerns arose months ago at Conservative policy convention in Montreal when MacKay took issue with a proposed policy that he said would spell the death of the barely two-year-old merger between his PC party and the Canadian Alliance.

But the problem has peaked again in some MPs' minds with recent comments, including one in which MacKay remarked to a reporter that he was travelling in British Columbia because it was up to him to bring "stability" to the Tories, and another in which he was asked if his party was ready to govern.

"I don't think we're there yet," MacKay replied, according to the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Times in B.C.

Even if Stephen Harper were the worst possible man to lead the party, and Peter MacKay the best, MacKay's honeymoon wouldn't last ten minutes before the media started savaging him as an untrustworthy hothead with questionable judgment. And not just in women.

Getting rid of Stephen Harper, just as the political news cycle is about to become favourable again with the upcoming Gomery report, would sideline the party for the length of a needless leadership contest. His successor would be distrusted by much of the party at best, and despised at worst.

On the other hand, this recent exercise at creating a dump-Harper movement from thin air has smoked out the last remaining Red Tory saboteurs who decided to destroy the party from within rather than defect with Clark, Brison, et. al. at its founding.

It has also shown that the party will not panic at the first hint of media-inspired trouble. The lesson of Stockwell Day has taught many in the party the necessary courage to stand by the leader and not make him into a liability needlessly.

The old Tory curse of endless leadership revolts may finally be breaking.

And perhaps it took this last transparent attempt by Carol Jamieson and her media enablers to do it.

Source: Saskatoon Star-Phoenix


The IMF will forgive $40 billion of debt owed by 18 of the world's poorest countries to the G8.

This write-off will not feed, clothe or shelter one single starving person in the Third World, but it will ensure that kleptocrats need not fear for their mansions, jets and private security forces.

Most importantly, it means that Bono and Paul Martin can still be friends.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

The Foundations Of Citizenship

The federal government has created a $10 million endowment in honour of Adrienne Clarkson's service as governor general to help educate new Canadians about the importance of proper Canadian citizenship.

Its creation comes too late for one new Canadian, who only now realizes that the responsibilities of Canadian citizenship may be incompatible with that of another country.

If it's like the other government foundations, we'll have no way of knowing how the money gets spent or why.

But why should old Canadians ask why new Canadians need more of our money to teach them how to be citizens, if citizenship in the new Canada has been reduced to a residence permit?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

CBC Lockout Watch, Day 42

Nothing new to report from the negotiations, as both sides await tomorrow's meeting with Labour Minister Joe Fontana.

This woman has been a casual employee with the CBC for eight years. She could be called into work on a moment's notice. At the end of the day, she doesn't know if she'll be called back in again.

Though she bewails her fate as an eternal casual employee at CBC, living from day to day without security or benefits, I can't help but ask why she hasn't left for another broadcaster, or another line of work.

Such tenacity can only be attributed to the almost cultlike devotion that CBCers have to their particular concept of public broadcasting. CBC can string these people along for years of broken promises and mistreatment, and they come back like masochists for more.

The more abuse they take, the more they'll get.

Fuelling Panic

Last week's gas panic buying spree, sparked by vague rumours of gas prices doubling or tripling because of Hurricane Rita's expected destruction of Texas oil refineries, seems foolish in retrospect.

Gas prices didn't rise, but everybody's fears did.

Even if Rita had been as devastating as predicted, gas prices would not likely have risen any higher than they had during the short-lived shortage scare following Hurricane Katrina, as refineries shut down by Katrina have already started coming back in production.

Moreover, reports of gas stations raising prices to $2 and even $2.50 a litre turned out to have been generated by one Canadian Press report about one unnamed gas station in one city raising prices, accrording to Blue Maple Leaf.

Blue Maple Leaf suggests that CP had an ideological interest in promoting the panic:

Maybe the answer lies in the ideology of the left and the liberal/socialist agenda they are hell bent on advancing. Global warming is an invention of the left used to create hysteria and advance the liberal/socialist agenda of raising taxes in the name of saving the planet.

The roadmap of the global warming lie is easily traceable, starting with the notion that factories and people with cars cause pollution and are evil, because they cause global warming. Gas companies are evil, because they get rich polluting the Earth and causing global warming. Gas stations are evil, because they are like the drug dealers of the oil companies. Conservatives are evil, because they want to make it easier for oil companies to get rich while oil companies destroy the planet. Alberta is the most evil, because they are the headquarters for rich oil companies and worse, they are a province run by Conservatives that are all unfairly getting rich from drilling oil, destroying the planet, causing global warming and they won’t share their wealth with the rest of Canada.

While this may be an accurate reflection of the mindset at CP, and the Canadian media in general, CP probably didn't set out deliberately to create this panic.

Yet had its editorial staff not been blinkered by its own prejudices, it would have tried to verify the report before sending it to the wires. Phone calls to the gas stations in Chatham, or to the regional distributors, could have gotten them that day's prices.

CP's irresponsibility fortunately only led to long lineups and empty tanks at gas stations. I shudder to think what CP might have done with a rumour where lives where at stake.

Green Grit

Although the deputy leader of Canada's fastest-rising political party is not as influential a political player as, say, a disgruntled EDA director in Toronto, his defection to the Liberal Party should be catching more attention that it likely will:

In a surprise announcement Sept. 23, Stormont County organic processor Tom Manley revealed he has severed ties with the Green Party of Canada and is turning to the Liberal Party.

Manley's ties to the Green Party ran deep. Not only was he the party's deputy leader and agricultural critic, he has run under the Green banner in both federal and provincial elections.

In 2004, Manley took on Jim Harris, who remains Green leader, for the party's top job.

Flanked by stalwarts of the Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry Liberal Party, Manley said he'll seek the Liberal nomination in the next federal election.


Over the past few years, Manley said several attempts were made to bring him back to the Liberal fold.

Lately, however, he started to listen, determined to forge ahead with his agenda for agricultural and environmental sustainability.

"There's a sense of urgency here and, within the Green Party, it'll take too long to achieve results. Besides, people make political parties, parties don't make people."

The lust for power will make a man sell his principles to the highest bidder. The Liberals never let themselves be outbid for a defector, whether it's with promises of a seat in cabinet or an unopposed parliamentary nomination.

Whether the Liberals actually come through with their promises is irrelevant to the party. Manley's desire for a platform plank about a sustainable agriculture policy will likely be met, but nothing will actually be done about it. Who actually reads the Red Book after the election?

Nonetheless, the Green Party will be shaken up with the loss of its number two man heading into an election. It might have been poised to overtake the NDP as the new party of the left in Canada, once enough NDPers upset with the radicals and Jack Layton's sellout to the Liberals crossed over. It also had an attraction for some Red Tories who couldn't bring themselves to support either of the three parties, as well as many independent-minded protest voters. It could have split off more left votes to allow Tories to come up the middle in close ridings.

Now the Greens face the prospect of being bled dry by the Liberals, all to satisfy one man's ambitions.

Source: Ottawa Sun

Saturday, September 24, 2005

CBC Lockout Watch, Day 41

Everything seems to be stuck in a holding pattern while the management and union bigwigs make the trek to Ottawa for the big meeting with Labour Minister Joe Fontana. The meeting at which they'll be told when to settle the lockout, if not how.

A fast settlement may have been the price the CBC board of directors will extract from Robert Rabinovitch in exchange for this week's vote of confidence, says Tod Maffin.

Toronto Star Ottawa bureau chief Susan Delacourt reports that the feds will be asking where the $110 million CBC saved during the lockout went, and if they don't like the answer, they may ask for a refund:

The CBC was to receive about $982 million from the government this year, which works out to about $2.7 million a day.

The money is sent in regular deposits to the Crown corporation.

Assuming they are spread out roughly evenly during the year, the CBC has received about $110.7 million during this lockout even though it has not had to pay the salaries of 5,500 people or put much original programming on the air.

Bulte asked Treasury Board officials yesterday whether dollars directed to the CBC during the lockout could be put into a trust or something similar, to ensure the corporation wasn't using the dispute merely to save money. But she was told the
CBC's financing was part of the June budget and no one can simply revoke measures in it.

What she can do, she was told, is ask for a Heritage Department audit of how the CBC used government money during this lockout. Bulte says she intends to ask for that.

"They may have to give some of it back," Bulte said, especially if an audit reveals the CBC is using these savings from the lockout to cover other losses. She said she would also be annoyed if the corporation used those savings to beef up its resources after the lockout, as a way of regaining stature and goodwill.

"You can't buy back the public," Bulte said.

If only we could get that refund money back. It might only work out to about $3.25 for every Canadian, but that's enough to buy a sausage from a streetside vendor and have a quarter left to call someone who cares about the CBC.

Even so, it's not the public the CBC needs to worry about buying back; it's everybody else.

Olympics, Genies, Geminis, Junos: all gone to other networks. Even the Grey Cup and Brier might leave. If the rest of CBC Sports disappears, will the NHL decide that Hockey Night in Canada should take a hike to a real sports broadcaster?

CBC could rise to the occasion by reorganizing its TV network along the lines of CBC Radio or PBS, with no advertising and all-Canadian arts and entertainment and documentary programming. Or it could whine about hard done by it's been, refuse to change its business model to meet the times and fill the niche that needs filling, and die a slow, lingering death.

Today's idiot box comment of the day comes from Carleton University journalism student Niall McKenna for his praise of the BBC licence fee system:

I was born in the United Kingdom, a place where the merciless grip of the billion-channel universe has had barely a squeeze. Allegiance to the BBC, the UK’s public broadcaster, is the norm. Britons happily slip $20 a month into the Beeb’s coffers for its commercial-free goodness, like my family once did. (Special government vans prowl the streets for illegal TV hook-ups.)

If the CBC even raised the suggestion of a licence fee for TV owners to pay for the CBC, the Toronto Broadcast Centre would be a smoking pile of rubble the next day. Hundreds of thousands of gun owners thwarted the gun registry law by refusing to register; imagine how ineffective a TV registry and inspection regime would be.

Hans Island: Who's On First?

Is Pierre Pettigrew backing down on Hans Island?

Just days after it began negotiations with Denmark over the ownership of Hans Island, the Canadian government appears to be backing away from a key argument in its claim for the remote island -- that it was discovered by Britain and therefore ceded to Canada in the 19th century.

Throughout the controversy over which nation now has sovereignty over Hans Island, located in a narrow channel between Ellesmere Island and Danish-controlled Greenland, Canada has argued its claim is rooted in the island's discovery by British explorers.

But Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew conceded government experts are still gathering historical evidence to build Canada's case. He is open to the suggestion that the island was first sighted by an American explorer, acknowledging there are competing claims about the discovery.


Denmark's ambassador to Canada, Poul Kristensen, has argued Hans Hendrik first spotted the island that would bear his name during a June 1854 sledge journey along the northwest coast of Greenland. Records from that expedition, led by American captain Elisha Kent Kane, make no specific mention of the island, although it is generally accepted that Hendrik and his American companion on the overland trek, William Morton, probably came within sight of it.

First discovery, in itself, doesn't confer sovereignty in international law. But if Pettigrew is switching positions in the middle of negotiations because Foreign Affairs didn't have its research done properly, he's going to look awfully foolish in negotiations with the Danes.

Of course, he could just depute his chauffeur to carry out the negotiations, since he seems to have a wealth of talents and Pettigrew's unqualified confidence in them.

Ottawa Citizen

Turn Your Head And Cough

The Ontario government is trying many different approaches to relieving the shortage of physicians in the province.

Opening a new medical school in northern Ontario to train and keep local doctors up north is just one approach.

Luring gay and lesbian doctors from the U.S. with promises of marriage is quite another.

I could make jokes about a sudden increase in OHIP billings for prostate exams, but such tastelessness is beneath this blogger.

The Pettigrew Files

If Pierre Pettigrew is shuffled out of cabinet, he almost certainly will announce that he's not running again in order to spend more time with his chauffeur in Paris his family.

But in case he isn't, he'll be facing his own token Haitian problem:

The riding of Papineau, in the ethnic heart of Montreal, will be the scene of one of the most interesting battles in the next election as Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew faces off against a leader of the women's rights movement in Quebec.

The twist is that Mr. Pettigrew made headlines by attacking the Bloc Québécois as distrustful of immigrants, and the Bloc has responded by nominating Haitian-born activist and teacher Vivian Barbot as his opponent.

The battle will go beyond the individual riding as both parties try to win the support of the province's ethnic communities in the struggle between federalism and separatism.

The Bloc hopes Ms. Barbot will become the first MP from Quebec's Haitian community, matching the Liberals, who this summer appointed the first Haitian-born governor-general, Michaëlle Jean.


In 2000, Mr. Pettigrew won his seat by 12,176 votes. After the sponsorship scandal and an effort by the Bloc to win support among immigrants, his margin of victory melted to 468 votes in 2004.

Ironically, Pettigrew might be saved by the very xenophobia that he's denounced the Bloc for. For every Haitian vote he loses, the Bloc might lose more from pure laine nationalists who still don't see blacks as real Quebecois, the election of Maka Kotto notwithstanding.

But if anger about Adscam remains stronger than Quebecois' natural distrust of ethnics, they'll overlook Mme. Barbot's origins and give Pettigrew more free time to look after his hairdo.

Source: Globe and Mail

23:5 Meme

Rebecca at Doxology has passed along the following new meme emerging in the blogosphere:

1. Go into your archive.
2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to it).
3. Find the 5th sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

Result: A/P laughs it off, at best.

A/P never laughs it off, not when it's the company dime.

Hey, I didn't say it had to make sense.

Friday, September 23, 2005

10,000 Visitors

Congratulations to the anonymous Australian visitor who stopped by at 10:03:38 PM on Friday, September 23, 2005.

As my 10,000th recorded visitor, you win absolutely nothing at all. Not even a free oven mitt.

But you do have me wondering how the hell you came here from there. (Cute kids, by the way.)

CBC Lockout Watch, Day 40 Oz.

Recent scenes from CBC picket lines across the land:

A dissident CBC employee heeds management's call for greater flexibility.

CBC Sports presents men's rhythmic gymnastics.

A rejected Let's Make a Deal contestant wanders aimlessly in Whitehorse.

Boobs helping boobs: Burlesque on the Toronto Broadcast Centre picket line.

CBC Lockout Watch, Day 40

CBC management has rejected the CMG's public settlement offer:

The document tabled by the CMG fails to propose any compromise on the two
key issues remaining. On Employment Status, the terms of the Guild's proposals
regarding contract employees are actually more restrictive than those in the
current collective agreement and more restrictive than their last proposal.
CBC has indicated that there is room to negotiate on this issue but not to
reduce its current flexibility.

Similarly, the CMG has not made any effort to compromise on the issue of
the qualifications a laid-off employee must have in order to replace a
colleague with less seniority. The Guild continues to seek a lower threshold
of qualifications while the CBC seeks the same qualifications threshold and
same bumping rights that have existed in the Guild's collective agreement for
12 years. CBC believes that employees must be able to demonstrate they have
the skills required to perform their new job and would like to make this the
standard for all employees under the new collective agreement.

No one expected the union to budge on the issue of contract employees. Both sides have sworn to die on that hill, and whoever moves back first, loses the battle and the war.

The union's hard line on bumping will not score any points with the public, and especially not with the juniors who might find themselves bumped to the curb after years of hustling for a permanent position whose sole qualification is having been at CBC since the Riel Rebellion.

Until CMG's latest bit of grandstanding, it had been winning the public relations war by presenting themselves as the defenders of Canadian public broadcasting. Now they look less like martyrs than money grubbers.

The Liberals must be expecting a fall election because only now have they bestirred themselves to call both sides together to make a deal:

Labour Minister Joe Fontana has invited CBC management and the Canadian Media Guild to Ottawa next week for a meeting aimed at ending the current lockout at the broadcaster, a union spokeswoman said Friday.

"There's a sense of urgency to it, and that's good," says CMG spokeswoman Lise Lareau. "I believe that's the result of Liberal caucus pressure that's been building."

Fontana could not immediately be reached for comment, nor could a spokesman from the CBC.

The proposed meeting would take place on Monday, the day Parliament is set to resume.

And wouldn't you know, suddenly Robert Rabinovitch and Arnold Amber have found the time to come to Ottawa.

In case they needed any more encouragement, Sarmite Bulte has publicly washed her hands of management and also spared a few kind words for Patrick Watson's proposal to contract out the whole damn CBC:

Frustration with the 40-day lockout by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. is on the rise within Prime Minister Paul Martin's government, with the parliamentary secretary for Canadian heritage, Sam Bulte, now warning she can no longer defend management's position in the dispute.

"I'm sick about this," Bulte said in an interview yesterday. "I've said to the CBC management ... I can't defend you any more."


Patrick Watson, former chairman of the CBC, provocatively suggested yesterday that his former corporation simply be shut down and rebuilt from the ground up. In The Globe and Mail, Watson wrote: "So yes, let's put public broadcasting out to tender ... remove this totally inappropriate competition with the private broadcasters for ratings and commercial revenue, and declare that the licence will be given to the lowest bidder whose proposal convincingly meets the requirements."

Bulte called Watson's argument "a good opening" for a serious debate on the CBC's future. At least for starters, she says she would like to see the CBC have no advertising on TV, as is the case now with radio, and believes that no one has been making the case strongly enough within the CBC for more government support.

As a member of the government, Bulte said she'd be open to that appeal.

"Let's give them the money to be a real public broadcaster," she said.

Bell Globemedia has been doing its job downplaying the emerging Technology Partnership Canada scandal and Paul Martin's slipshod handling of Canada-U.S. relations, and playing up Carol Jamieson's screed against Stephen Harper, but there's only so much Bob Fife and Gloria Galloway can do. The Grits need the CBC going balls to the wall during the next election. And CBC needs a Liberal government in office to hold off the axe. CBC and CMG may despise each other, but they both hate CPC even more.

Michaelle Jean And The Multi-Cult

Our next governor general never fails to surprise. First it was keeping company with ex-FLQ terrorists, now it's attacking multiculturalism and Quebec nationalism's xenophobic tendencies:

The government's policy of multiculturalism encourages people to stay in ethnic ghettos and leads to "all sorts of absurdities," governor general-designate Michaelle Jean has said

Ms. Jean made the comments in French at a colloquium in Montreal last April, before she was named the country's next governor general. They were reported in the Canadian Jewish News.

"Citizenship means living together. ... But does 'multiculturalism' really propose us living together?

"We are even given money so that we will each stay in our own separate enclosure. There's a kind of proposition of ghettoization that is there, and that is financed. Yet 'multiculturalism' is proposed as a founding model of Canada," she said at the colloquium held by the Institut de Judaisme Quebecois.

Ms. Jean went on to criticize the leaders of organizations who make their living from multiculturalism.

"It's terrible, when you think about it. My dream is that we reflect much more deeply on citizenship, on belonging, which is not a negation of where we come from or our heritage, whether we are from Abitibi or Haiti or somewhere else.


She said it is damaging to children to be pushed into separate ethnic identities.

"Lots of kids in north Montreal don't recognize themselves anywhere. In school, they're still called 'our little Haitians,' 'our little this,' 'our little that.' They have no opportunity to be Quebecois... These kids say: I'm Haitian, I'm Latin-American. They're born here, they grow up here, they speak Quebecois ... and yet, they're incapable of calling themselves Quebecois. Why? Because they don't feel it. We still call them 'the others.' These young people don't have the sense of being full-fledged citizens."

It's interesting to find Mme. Jean criticizing the multiculturalist obsession with identity politics that probably led to her appointment as governor general. Paul Martin saw the Haitian vote in key Montreal ridings drifting to the Bloc in the next election and needed to shore it up, so he picked Mme. Jean in the hopes of keeping that ethnic bloc in line.

If the Indian or Italian vote in Toronto had been threatening to break to the Conservatives, he'd have named an Indian or Italian.

The Liberals have prospered by the policy of divide and rule, and by keeping immigrant communities as unassimilated as possible, they keep them dependent on the benificence of the federal government and voting Liberal.

For her second point:

When Quebec nationalists say "Maitres chez nous!" or "Le Quebec aux Quebecois!", they don't mean anybody whose ancestors came from Haiti, Poland, Vietnam or Lebanon.

Jacques Parizeau's drunken outburst against "money and the ethnic vote" and his claim that "three-fifths of us voted yes" made it clear that Quebec nationalism does not extend its embrace to those who are not pure laine .

Mme. Jean's great-grandchildren will be Canadian, but they will never be Quebecois.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

David Dingwall Makes A Mint

The Technology Partnership Canada scandal has been flying under the public radar because of all the media emphasis on Carol Jamieson, the Cindy Sheehan of the Conservative Party.

Industry Minister David Emerson thought he could sweep the whole mess under the rug by cancelling the program quietly before anyone figured out the extent of the corruption.

But now that David Dingwall has been singled out as one of the lobbyists accepting improper commissions for getting businesses funding from TPC, the mess is seeping back through:

Industry Canada has frozen federal financing for research projects by an Ontario biotechnology firm pending the outcome of an investigation into the company's agreement to pay $350,000 in lobbying fees to former Liberal cabinet minister David Dingwall, government sources say.

The move is part of a much broader probe of about 22 high-tech companies that may have hired unregistered lobbyists, or allegedly paid improper contingency fees to lobbyists to help secure federal financing under Ottawa's controversial Technology Partnership Canada program.

Bioniche, based in Belleville, Ont., recently admitted to Industry Canada that it agreed in May of 2000 to pay Mr. Dingwall a “success fee” of $350,000, the government sources said.

The agreement said the fee was to be paid to Mr. Dingwall's lobbying firm, Wallding International, if Bioniche was successful in obtaining federal financing worth at least $15-million under the TPC program.

Bioniche in fact secured TPC financing totalling $17.2-million in 2001.

The investigation centres on whether Mr. Dingwall actually received any or all of the “success fee.”

It violates the terms of TPC contracts if companies pay contingency fees to lobbyists to help them obtain TPC financing.


The problem of high-tech firms using unregistered lobbyists and paying contingency fees for TPC contracts is not new. Industry Canada froze payments to four British Columbia companies last year after The Globe and Mail reported they had paid more than $2-million in contingency fees to one particular unregistered lobbyist. The department eventually worked out agreements with the companies to reduce their TPC financing by sums equal to the contingency fees.

Industry Canada used two outside audit teams — Kroll Lindquist Avey and Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton — to take a broad look at TPC projects and the lobbying issue.

However, a government source says the outside audit teams found it difficult to determine from the TPC files how decisions were made as to which companies and projects would receive federal financing and which would be rejected.

One document was found, however, that candidly said: “little or no documentation is kept regarding the decision process.”

TPC has an annual budget of about $300-million. Critics have called it little more than a subsidy program because the rate of repayment has been so low.

In summary: lobbyists were getting illegal commissions to get money from TPC, while TPC hid the paper trail and never got paid back.

Unlike Adscam, there were no great issues of patriotism and national unity at stake, nothing for the scoundrels to wrap themselves in the flag with as a defence against their critics. Nought but greed lain bare.

David Dingwall made a mint off TPC, and now he's running it.

Business as usual in Liberal Ottawa.

Source: The Globe and Mail

L'Affaire Pettigrew-Labonte

Pierre Pettigrew's chauffeur is absolutely outraged at the suggestion that he and the minister might have a relationship closer than the norm between ministers of the Crown and their drivers.

So he's suing the Western Standard for making it:

The chauffeur who accompanied Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew on government-funded trips abroad is considering legal action after an item on a conservative magazine's website questioned whether they had a romantic relationship.

Kevin Libin, editor-in-chief of the Calgary-based Western Standard, wrote in a web log entry this week that the media should have asked about the nature of Mr. Pettigrew's relationship with driver Bruno Labonte following a report that they had travelled together to Europe and South America.

"Mr. Labonte is discussing these attempts on his personal reputation with his lawyers," Mr. Pettigrew's press secretary, Sebastien Theberge, said in an e-mail.

Mr. Theberge emphatically denied there was anything improper between the two men.

"Mr. Pettigrew's relationship with his driver is and has always been strictly professional," he wrote.

He added, "Private life is private. Mr. Pettigrew attaches a great deal of importance to his absolute right to privacy."

Mr. Labonte was not available to comment, Mr. Theberge said.

Messrs. Pettigrew and Labonte could dispel the rumours and innuendo about their relationship by explaining exactly what official duties Mr. Labonte performed on his trips abroad with Mr. Pettigrew, and why he was chosen to do them even though they weren't in his official job description.

Retreating behind denials of improper relationships and threatening lawsuits for defamation only lends credence to the rumours.

Besides, people aren't naive enough to take Mr. Pettigrew at his word. Think back to George Radwanski and his penchant for long lunches at gourmet restaurants and overseas trips with his PR flack, Dona Vallieres, on the taxpayer's dime. Did anyone seriously believe that her communications advice was so valuable that the privacy commissioner had to seek it out virtually every day at lunch and several dozen times overseas?

How valuable were Mr. Labonte's services, then?

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Harper Vs. The Ankle-Biters

The media's attempt to create a dump-Harper movement from the petty complaints of a few self-important obscure persons has finally gotten a public response from its target:

"Any Conservative, anywhere, at any time, can, by criticizing other Conservatives, become an instant and enormous media star. That's just the way it is, we'll have to get used to it,'' he said in a speech to party staffers Thursday.


The Conservative leader was assailed this week by Carol Jamieson, a top Conservative official in Toronto, who said average Canadians would never vote for him and urged him to quit.

It was the latest in a string of complaints -- some on the record, some anonymously -- which Harper said he would not take seriously.

The party has raised big amounts of cash, signed up thousands of members and his summer tour attracted big crowds this summer, he said, but virtually all of that has been ignored by the media.

"Now of course you would not know any of this reading some of the press recently, (instead) there have been stories of various dissidents.''

The Conservative leader was assailed this week by Carol Jamieson, a top Conservative official in Toronto, who said average Canadians would never vote for him and urged him to quit.

It was the latest in a string of complaints -- some on the record, some anonymously -- which Harper said he would not take seriously.

The party has raised big amounts of cash, signed up thousands of members and his summer tour attracted big crowds this summer, he said, but virtually all of that has been ignored by the media.

"Now of course you would not know any of this reading some of the press recently, (instead) there have been stories of various dissidents.''

Harper said he would not respond to the dissidents.

Nor should he. No one has heard of them before; no one will hear from them again. They're letting themselves be used as pawns in the media's game, while the media in turn are also being used as pawns in the Liberal game. To address them by name or even by inference is to give them credence that they don't deserve.

Stephen Taylor has exposed the strange career of the media's latest instant star, Carol Jamieson. By all accounts, she's become a pariah within the Conservative Party, an unbalanced crackpot with a history of making trouble, and far from the top official CTV claims her to be.

If there were a serious movement within the party to dump Stephen Harper, serious players would be leading it, such as MPs and senior party officials. People like Hugh Segal, Peter White, Hal Jackman and Stanley Hartt would be calling for his head publicly.

Their silence speaks volumes about the nature of this movement; it's so pathetic that they won't dignify it with comment.

Source: CTV

CBC Lockout Watch, Day 39

The CBC Board of Directors has given management a vote of confidence in its conduct of the lockout to date.

One of the issues that has attracted most attention, the employment of contract staff, in our view, has been seriously misunderstood and misrepresented. The new contract employees will remain a small fraction of the Corporation’s work force, and they will be well paid union members with a superior benefit program.

We want to pay tribute to the President of the CBC/Radio-Canada, Robert Rabinovitch, for his commitment to public broadcasting. We fully support the strategic vision of his management team.

This tribute to Rabinovitch would be more meaningful if he actually answered to the board of directors. Nonetheless, this should dash all union hopes of pressuring the board to lean on management to reach a quick settlement.

The Canadian Media Guild has proposed a settlement offer including 3.5% pay raises every year, retroactive to 2004, and a $1,000 signing bonus for every CMG member who's worked at least 60 days prior to the lockout. That's 17.5% pay raises for the best-paid people in broadcasting over five years, over and above the cost of living index increases, or about 20% to 25% when it's all said and done.

The union won a lot of goodwill from the public by not mentioning money. Now they've not only made a cash grab, but they've also antagonized the CBC negotiators unnecessarily by going public and not to the table with the offer. Everybody wants a pay raise, but no one wants to hear well-paid strikers crying out for bigger bucks.

Management can turn the tables on the CMG for the first time in weeks by switching the focus from "saving Canadian broadcasting" to "shaking down the taxpayers."

I saw the first half of the End the Lockout rally at Massey Hall last night. The audience was even more interesting than the performers. CBC boasts about reflecting the face of Canada in all its diverse and multicultural splendour, but the audience was the whitest crowd I've ever seen in Toronto, as was the entertainment except for the token self-styled African blues band. Pretty heavily middle-aged and elderly too; few people there under 40, fewer still under 25.

The theme of the speeches from Alice Munro, June Callwood and Joe Clark was all about how great CBC was, less about how great it is now (hah!) or how great it can be. The audience wasn't there to support today's CBC; it was there to support an ideal CBC that they think they remember from decades ago, when Trudeaumania swept the land and big government was the solution to all life's problems.

Now I understand how these people can claim that without CBC, Canadian broadcasting would cease to exist. They're stuck in the time when it really was CBC or nothing.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

CBC Lockout Watch, Day 38

Both sides have signed off on contracting out work normally performed by CMG members. This is not to be confused with hiring employees on contract, the ground on which both management and union have sworn to die defending their positions.

CMG has refused CBC's request to join them in a media blackout for the duration of the negotiations. The blackout wouldn't have lasted a day. Who expects a bunch of journalists not to leak, or if they do, name the leakers?

Antonia Zerbisias warns the locked-out CBCers not to get too friendly with the NDP and labour union supporters who have been visiting them on the picket lines:

On the picket lines, the union has been accepting support from, and rallying around, sympathetic politicians such as the NDP's Jack Layton and Marilyn Churley, as well as union bigwigs such as Buzz Hargrove and representatives from other interest groups.

Excuse me, but shouldn't CBC workers be a mite more careful about these associations? The network already is constantly accused of being left-wing and biased. Why add fuel to the fire?

True, the harm being done to CBC is not as great as the lockout itself, but this is not helping.

If this dispute continues, and all indications are that it will drag on and on, the locked out workers — and I'm thinking the journalists in particular — better put some thought into what harm their side is doing to CBC.

At some point, there will be a return to the newsrooms. And an election. And hell to pay.

The CBC's left-leaning editorial bias is no secret. Its effects on people who don't watch CBC shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. CBC reporting often sets the agenda for the rest of the media, and its opinions filter their way through the newsrooms, classrooms and boardrooms of the nation down to the shop floors, shopping malls and subway platforms.

CBC reporting is good for a few percentage points for the Liberals in public opinion polls, and maybe a couple for the NDP. Though not on its own; it has the rest of the Canadian mainstream media to prop the Liberals up, if not with quite the same zeal as the CBC.

If the CBC ties its editorial bias to a particular party, its fortunes will rise and fall with it. There are plenty of Conservative MPs and candidates who would love to wreak venegance on the CBC once they get in office. If the CBC thought the Mulroney government was rough on it, a Harper government filled with people who resent years of its savaging of the Reform and Alliance parties, the West, social conservatives and free market policies will make the Mulroney era seem like a cakewalk.

Colby Cosh doesn't see much difference between either side in the lockout, but he gets right to the heart of the battle between the CBC and CMG in the media wars:

The real point of the battle on both sides seems to be finding out which side has been left with more power and goodwill in the radically changing media environment. Or, to put it another way: is content truly king? Your answer will depend partly on whether you prefer news gathered by amateurs using professional resources or news gathered by professionals using amateur resources. Frankly, I kind of feel like the parts are greater than the original sum.

Clearly, the status quo ante cannot be recreated. People have seen the pros put out quality product without the CBC's vast resources backing them up.

Even amongst die-hard CBC fans, the question will inevitably arise: if CBC news people can do as good a job or better with much less, do we really need the CBC's current infrastructure and organization at $1 billion a year?

The corollary question: if management can't deliver the goods with $1 billion a year from the taxpayers, is throwing more money at it going to buy it the necessary competence?

Dominion From City To City

Paul Martin has finally outlined something resembling his vision of Canada. Unfortunately, it doesn't extend outside the Liberal voting bloc:

Prime Minister Paul Martin called for Canada to bring in more immigrants as he delivered a wide-ranging speech that sought to outline a broad rationale for his government's actions and its future direction.

The 70-minute speech was intended to counter criticisms that the government drifts from crisis to crisis. He asserted that Ottawa's past policies and future plans are part of a coherent strategy to cope with major "new forces" such as the aging population and the rise of new powers in China and India.

Although it included no specific policy announcements, the speech hinted at plans for the fall, the crucial period before an expected spring vote, including efforts to improve aboriginal education, a promise to achieve early progress on the environment -- and more immigration.

Martin's claims that cities now compete with cities, and not countries with countries, should be given closer attention.

When he says that Montreal and Toronto have to compete with Shanghai and Bangalore, he's signalling to the rest of the country that his vision is firmly fixed on the cities, and the cities alone.

Paul Martin's so-called global vision of massive immigration and competitive cities is actually quite parochial. The Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal corridor and immigrants keep him in office; their concerns will be paramount, and the rest of the country can go hang.

But he's also made the usual nod to the aboriginals, who will hopefully vote the Liberal party line as long as their leadership keeps them cynically trapped in the failed Indian Act and reserve systems with promises of money from treaty rights and land claims that never actually makes it past the band chiefs' offices. ( Dust My Broom could tell you more about this.)

So now we have a vision, of sorts, from Paul Martin. Too bad most Canadians aren't in it.

Source: Globe and Mail