Sunday, December 31, 2006

Eat Or Be Eaten

Trendsters, social climbers, yuppies and all the other pseuds of Toronto rejoice: Sassafraz will rise from the ashes!

The Yorkville crowd has been in deep mourning ever since the restaurant they came to be seen in burned down, forcing them to find other eateries in which to be seen showing off their social superiority.

But with Sassafraz's return, they will all be safely corraled back into Yorkville, where they can do the rest of society no harm.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Short Drop, Sudden Stop

For those of you with a streak of morbid curiosity, Pandachute has an unedited video of Saddam Hussein's hanging here.

The production quality isn't all that good, but the star of the show played his role perfectly.

Sic Semper Tyrannis

The hanging of Saddam Hussein will not magically put an end to the violence and turmoil that engulfs much of Iraq.

That straw man argument against executing Hussein ought never have been taken seriously, because Hussein's hanging was never meant to be a panacea, and no one seriously thought that it would be.

Nor does it lack some sort of nebulous legitimacy under international law, simply because the bien pensants of our day fear only this one form of death.

Hussein was accused, tried, defended, and ultimately judged by his own, for the crimes committed against his own.

In any event, his trial was not a mere trial of a common criminal, and to reduce it to such would reduce the horror and magnitude of the man's crimes against humanity.

His hanging was necessary to remove him as a symbol of further resistance and the possibility that he might be restored to power, to tyrannize his people further.

Some crimes are so great that the mere technical application of legal principle and process cannot adequately punish them.

His trial cannot be judged against the standards of ordinary criminal justice, because his were no ordinary crimes, he no ordinary criminal.

In that sense, his execution was inadequate, but the most that human justice can do to punish him.

Now he faces perfect justice.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Lament For A Tyrant

As Saddam Hussein faces a much-deserved hanging at dawn tomorrow in Baghdad, the commenters on the Globe and Mail website have begun mourning for the fallen tyrant:

adam mateyko from calgarycalgary, Canada writes: While he might be a hated dictator, the trial was not held under international courts jurisdiction; and in itself is a war crime. Victors justice is not justice, it is a lynching.... good ole Texas style. More like revenge by Bush for his straying from the list of 'good dictators' that the US has kept on their payrolls in the past, and even today.


Barrie Collins from Long Sault, ON, Canada writes: So now the US and their appointed Iraquislings are going to execute the only man who had a hope in hell of bringing the chaos in Iraq to a halt. Yes, I know he was a tyrant, but I'd bet he was responsible for far less Iraqui (and American) deaths than have occurred since the illegal US invasion. It will need a strong hand to restore any semblance of order in that country, and it appears there is nobody of Hussein's stature among the current 'regime' to do this. Tito kept a bunch of warring factions apart in Jugoslavia, and Hussein did the same thing in Iraq. His execution will only exacerbate an already deteriorating situation.


Asif Hossain from Toronto, Canada writes: The Americans will miss the good old days of a moderate Iraq once this murder takes place. The extremist Sunnis, who despised Saddam Hussein for not being allowed to operate out of Iraq, will use this secular leader's hanging as the biggest recruiting tool in the history of freelance terror. This weekend will prove to be the lowest point (if it was possible to go any lower) of American foreign policy.

Of course, many of the commenters are more careful to preface their remarks with a perfunctory condemnation of Hussein's atrocities before demanding that George Bush hang alongside him.

Tyranny will always find its apologists in the free world. No doubt the Globe and Mail commenters would have damned the Nuremburg trials for not trying and hanging Churchill and Roosevelt as well.

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Myriam?

Given the criminal propensities of certain characters who surrounded the previous regime, Myriam Bedard's claims that she was being harassed over her minor role as an Adscam whistleblower might have some credence.

Might, if she weren't a complete fruit loop under the thumb of an Iranian con man who's done everything to control her except stuff her in a burqa:

Former Canadian Olympian Myriam Bedard is "lucid and sharp" and deserves protection from the U.S. government after being persecuted and spied on over her revelations in Canada's sponsorship scandal, her lawyer said Thursday.

Kevin McCants refuted suggestions that Bedard is unhinged amid a bitter cross-border custody case that landed her in jail and a bizarre U.S. tour with partner Nima Mazhari seeking help for what they call a conspiracy against them in Canada.

"She's as sharp and sober as any federal judge," said McCants, who will represent Bedard at a Baltimore court hearing Friday to determine whether she'll stay in jail pending extradition proceedings.

"She was involved in a political scandal. There were a lot of people who had an axe to grind and they were trying to belittle her. There's a lot going on," said McCants.

He contends Bedard was spied on after she raised questions about inflated payments to Quebec ad firms in the sponsorship scandal and also faced frivolous lawsuits.

"She did the right thing. She blew the whistle. She feels as if she's been treated coldly (by the Canadian government)," he said.

"She should be entitled to some type of protection from the U.S. government."

Of all of the parties involved, however, only one of them understands the real problem here:

(Jean) Paquet complained to Canadian authorities because he feared Bedard and Mazhari would flee with the girl to Iran from the United States to escape his legal woes, said McCants.

Canada submitted an urgent request to the U.S. for Bedard's arrest and extradition on Dec. 5.

"That's the real basis of it all," he said. "Her new husband is Iranian and (Paquet) didn't want to risk her going to Iran and never seeing his daughter again."

Which may have been Mazhari's plan all along. And Bedard would be facing a far worse captivity than a Maryland jail cell.

Source: National Post

Thursday, December 28, 2006


The champagne socialists who populate the Beach speak often of their concern for the starving poor of this city. Heaven forfend, however, that they should actually have to see any of them:

A Toronto church's plan to feed and house 12 homeless people one night a week during the worst of the winter has been put on hold after residents of a tony Beach enclave threatened it with a legal injunction.

As part of the Out of the Cold program, which is run in churches and synagogues across Toronto, the temporary shelter was to have opened Jan. 8 at St. Aidan's Anglican Church on Silver Birch Ave., at Queen St. E.

But the three-month program has been delayed until at least Jan. 16, when a community meeting will be held to discuss details and other potential sites.


Toronto lawyer Peter Silverberg, who has acted for the objecting Beach residents, denies they were motivated by NIMBYism in threatening the church with legal action.

He said they were concerned about having been given scant opportunity for consultation and whether the program provided the best use of limited shelter resources.

"The program itself is very praiseworthy, although it might be questioned on the level of whether or not this is the best way to use ... very limited resources to look after this type of thing."

Silverberg, who would not say how many residents objected, said there might be better sites in the Beach for the shelter but he believes they were never examined.

Better sites, as in none. The sight of the indigent is not one the yuppies want to see as they traipse along Queen Street East to their favourite bistros and boutiques.

Source: Toronto Star

Infamous Last Words

Saddam Hussein's farewell letter:

I call on you not to hate because hate does not leave a space for a person to be fair and it makes you blind and closes all doors of thinking and keeps away one from balanced thinking and making the right choice.

Richard Nixon's farewell speech:

Always give your best, never get discouraged, never be petty; always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Hussein: The Final Countdown

Mark January 27, 2007 on your calendar.

Saddam Hussein will hang that day, if not sooner.

This is how the death penalty should be carried out: with due speed and dispatch.

No endless appeals on abstruse technical grounds, no candlelight vigils outside the prison walls, no agonizing over the relative humaneness of the various methods.

Just hang him and throw his body to the vultures.

Gerald Ford, 1913-2006

Gerald Ford never sought to be President of the United States. Only an unusual confluence of circumstances--the resignation of Spiro Agnew from the Vice Presidency in disgrace, followed by Richard Nixon's resignation in greater disgrace following Watergate--brought Ford from leadership in Congress to the White House.

His presidency was overshadowed by his decision to close the books on Watergate by pardoning Richard Nixon, the final withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam and its fall to the Communists, and the inflation and energy crises that produced the greatest recession since the Great Depression.

He barely beat back a challenge from Ronald Reagan within his own party in 1976, yet came within an inch of defeating Jimmy Carter regardless.

Perhaps no one could have survived such an inauspicious and difficult period politically.

But it is to Gerald Ford's credit that he was able to restore respect and order to the office in the face of all those troubles.

Source: Washington Post

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Ethiopia On The March

The Kingdom of Prester John is currently laying waste to the armies of the heathen Mohammedans who have seized control Somalia:

Somalia's Islamists are in full retreat after Ethiopian airstrikes and a ground offensive that have killed up to 1,000 of the religious movement's fighters, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said on Tuesday.

"A joint Somali government and Ethiopian force has broken the back of the international terrorist forces... These forces are in full retreat," Meles told reporters in Addis Ababa, adding that up to 1,000 Islamist fighters had been killed.

"A few are Somali but the majority are foreigners," he said of the dead.

Addis Ababa has vowed to protect Somalia's weak interim government from rival Islamists based in Mogadishu. A week of artillery and mortar duels between the two sides has spiralled into open war that both sides say has killed hundreds.

Meles said most fighters of the Somalia Islamic Courts Council (SICC) had fled to their home areas. He said Ethiopian forces were now hunting down troops from his arch-foe Eritrea, which he accuses of supporting the Islamists.

"The only forces we are pursuing are Eritreans who are hiding behind the skirts of Somali women, and terrorist mujahideen," Meles said.

The Western media has usually portrayed Ethiopia as a destitute land of famine and desert, but have not until now recalled that Ethiopia is the world's second-oldest officially Christian nation (since 316; only Armenia has been officially Christian for longer).

Ethiopia has had centuries of history to remind them of the nature of their enemy in Somalia; unlike most Western nations, they do not hesitate to call it a war.

Source: Reuters

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

And it came to pass, that in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled. This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem: because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child.

And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night watches over their flock. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them; and they feared with a great fear. 10 And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people:

For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will. And it came to pass, after the angels departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath shewed to us.

And they came with haste; and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. And seeing, they understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this child. And all that heard, wondered; and at those things that were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God, for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

And after eight days were accomplished, that the child should be circumcised, his name was called JESUS, which was called by the angel, before he was conceived in the womb.

--Luke 2:1-21

Sunday, December 24, 2006


The life story of Rachel Corrie will not be playing on stage in Toronto after all:

The Canadian Stage Company is no longer considering staging a controversial play about an activist killed in Israel.

Can Stage will not produce My Name is Rachel Corrie, a play about a young American killed by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003 while protesting in the Gaza Strip.

Artistic producer Martin Bragg yesterday denied reports the play was ever officially part of its upcoming season. The play was one of many on a preliminary list that was subject to change, he said.

Mr. Bragg said he was originally interested in the play based on its script. He said he changed his mind when he saw a production of it in New York.

In a theatre that was just one-third full, the audience wasn't engaged during the show and showed little enthusiasm for the production.

"The play wasn't striking a chord," he said. "Did the issue strike a chord? Absolutely. But the play wasn't."

Girl meets boy. Girl loses boy. Girl goes to Gaza. Girl meets bulldozer. The end. What a story.

Source: National Post

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Young Pretender's Return

Bonnie Prince Justin, the great hope of Canada's own modern-day Jacobite movement, is ready to take back the throne that his partisans claim is rightfully his:

Justin Trudeau is poised to leap into federal politics and seek a seat in Parliament next election, according to a media report.

Maclean's magazine says the son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau suggested in an interview that he would make an announcement after Christmas about a possible run.


It quotes Gerald Butts, a close friend the magazine describes as being "tasked with taking control of Trudeau's slip," saying Mr. Trudeau, 35, wanted to discuss the timing of the announcement with new Liberal leader Stephane Dion to make sure it complemented party strategy.

"I think he's pretty much there," Mr. Butts is quoted as saying. "He just doesn't want a speculative story published before he's ready."

Too late.

It appears the magazine took those comments and Mr. Trudeau's earlier hints as proof he had made up his mind. Mr. Trudeau was noncommittal in a later interview with Maclean's.

If Trudeau runs, Stephane Dion will end up running an entire campaign in his shadow. The media will be all over Justin in an attempt to recreate Trudeaumania. His every campaign presence and utterance will be recorded and reported far and wide.

The press will turn to him to offer thoughtful commentary about his party's policies and the maintenance or restoration of his father's legacy.

The subtext will be clear--here is the once and future king, speaking to his future subjects.

Stephane Dion's successor is about to be brought into the camp.

Are you ready for Trudeaumania II?

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Bedard Busted

Myriam Bedard has been arrested in Maryland for abducting her daughter in violation of a custody agreement with her ex-husband.

Her arrest, oddly enough, might be a happy ending for her and her daughter.

At least it has prevented her Iranian husband from taking them into Iran, into a far more cruel captivity.

Source: CTV

Friday, December 22, 2006

Night Hunter

Treaties are made and broken in the rest of the world as circumstances change and the parties thereto find more advantage in violating them than honouring them; sometimes they just lapse into desuetude because the parties no longer exist.

But almost alone in all the world, treaties with the Indians remain somehow immune to the usual fates of treaties: somehow they must continue to be honoured, to the letter, without room for renegotiation or even tacit disregard, no matter how irrelevant or impractical they have become.

Most Indians don't derive their sustenance from the land anymore, but the screams of cultural genocide go up whenever anyone suggests modifying or extinguishing unlimited hunting and fishing rights.

Now, in the year 2006, the Supreme Court has recognized the right of some of them to hunt at night:

A B.C. aboriginal band won the right to hunt at night in a divided Supreme Court of Canada ruling yesterday that included a rebuke from the dissenting judges that public safety should not take a backseat to treaty rights.


The decision overturned the conviction of two Vancouver Island aboriginals who belong to the Tsartlip First Nation, Ivan Morris and Carl Olsen, who were caught a decade ago in a sting operation.

They had lost their case every step of the way, but they convinced the Supreme Court majority they should be able to hunt with rifles in the dark, with the aid of a lamp, because their ancestors had engaged in the practice using torches and bows and arrows.

"British Columbia is a very large province, and it cannot plausibly be said that a night hunt with illumination is unsafe everywhere and in all circumstances," said the majority decision, co-authored by justices Marie Deschamps and Rosalie Abella.

"It applies without exception to the whole province, including the most northern regions where hours of daylight are limited in the winter months and populated areas are few and far between."

The ruling said treaty rights must be adapted to modern times and that "hunting with a rifle and ammunition is the current form of an evolving right whose origins were hunting with a bow and arrow."

The minority judgment, penned by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and Justice Morris Fish, countered that courts have consistently found that night hunting "inherently involves an unacceptable and elevated risk to the public."

They argued that the 1852 treaty in question was never intended to permit a practice that is dangerous.

Also, aboriginals could still be charged with dangerous hunting under B.C.'s Wildlife Act, but it would be up to the Crown to prove that the activity in question was unsafe.

As long as this continued insistence on treaty rights continues, Indians will be locked in an ultimately futile struggle to preserve a way of life that elsewhere has passed into history.

Source: National Post

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Great Turkmenbashi, RIP

The great dictator of Turkmenistan, Sapurmurat Niyazov, may have been no less cruel towards his opponents and dissenters than most tyrants, and certainly no less addicted to his own cult of personality.

But for all that, his regime provided plenty of unintentional comedy.

Who else but the great Turkmenbashi would have renamed the months of the calendar for himself and his family?

Only the great Turkmenbashi could have decreed that old age begins at 85.

Or command the people to celebrate a holiday to honour the muskmelon.

And surely one can understand why the great Turkmenbashi required people to study the philosophy in his great Rukhnama to pass a driving test.

(Well, can ants united defeat a tiger or a lion? Can they?)

The great Turkmenbashi was immortal until the day he died, and thus having left no declared successor, his epigoni will fight fiercely to seize his vacant throne. But none of them will provide the entertainment value of the great Turkmenbashi.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Search For Myriam

The search for Myriam Bedard, her daughter, and her Iranian husband, is now going worldwide with Interpol's help.

Considering that Nima Mazhari is himself facing trial on theft charges for allegedly stealing $100,000 worth of paintings from a painter he shared a studio with, do you think he's going to surface with Bedard and her daughter any time soon?

If Mazhari wants to avoid justice for himself and keep his control over Myriam and Maude, where better place for him to go than back to Iran, safe from extradition and where he can keep them under his thumb with impunity?

If they're in Iran, she and her daughter won't be coming out for a long time, if ever.

Source: Toronto Star

Big Owe

The most enduring legacy of the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, besides the crumbling architectural embarrassment of Olympic Stadium, has been the $1.5 billion debt that Jean Drapeau swore up and down would never be incurred.

It's been anyone's guess which would disappear first, and surprisingly, it's the debt:

Officials from the Olympic Installations Board, which oversees the stadium, have confirmed that the last payment was made in mid-November, three decades after the world descended on Montreal for the Games.

The astronomical cost included the stadium, the Olympic village, a post-modern apartment building complex, a sports recreation complex, outdoor facilities, parking and the Vélodrome, which has since been refurbished as the Biodome.

Much of the debt was serviced through a special tax on tobacco.

Officials had estimated the debt would be cleared by September 2006, but the smoking ban introduced in May slowed down tobacco sales in the province, according to the Canadian Press.

Two weeks of games, a generation of debt, and Montreal's decline still continues apace.

The Montreal Olympics stand as a reminder that getting the big games or the pro team doesn't bring economic salvation.

Source: CBC

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Rona Out

A three-way cabinet shuffle is in the works: Rona Ambrose will leave Environment for Intergovernmental Affairs, replacing Peter Van Loan who will get Indian Affairs as Jim Prentice goes off to Environment.

Rona Ambrose was always a better fit for the constitutional and federal-provincial portfolio; besides, Jim Prentice has been a far better troubleshooter for the Cabinet than he's being given credit for.

Prentice has his work cut out for him: the high priests of the environmental movement will burn anyone at the stake who questions one word of Kyoto. Rona Ambrose couldn't stand up to them. But Prentice, having succesfully killed the Kelowna bribes for the chiefs accords, has shown no fear in attacking political orthodoxies.

Source: Globe and Mail

Malaysian Village People

They say that same-sex disco dancing is done to protect the honour and chastity of Malaysian Muslim women. Just like it is on Church & Wellesley.

Plane Talk

Mirabel Airport was the airport of the future. Provided, of course, that the future included shorter-haul jets, supersonic aircraft, and Montreal's continued status as the economic engine of Canada. Oh, and a rail link and eight-lane highway fifty miles out of downtown.

That future never arrived; it was clear even before Mirabel opened that it was never going to arrive. Which inconvenient facts didn't prevent Ottawa from expropriating entire villages for expansion that never came.

But the locals will be able to buy their land back.

And the white elephant will come closer to being off Montrealers' backs.

Mirabel is an expensive reminder that no government should ever assume anything about the future.

Monday, December 18, 2006


What's in a name? Rather, what's in an abbreviation?

Apparently the hint of jackbooted thugs with death's heads on their collars, arms raised in the fascist salute:

Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor wants to change the name of the Canadian Forces' top counter-terrorism unit, but the move is causing concern among some in the military because of the possibility the new moniker could be linked to Nazi Germany.

Mr. O'Connor is looking at renaming the Ottawa-based Joint Task Force 2 as the First Special Service Regiment. But some in the defence community are worried the abbreviated version of that, the 1st SS Regiment, could turn into a public relations nightmare because of the potential Nazi connotations.


Defence Department sources, however, argue it is highly unlikely the new name would be referred to as the 1st SS Regiment or as an SS Regiment. They pointed out, for instance, that the existing Royal Canadian Regiment is not called the RC Regiment when referred to in an abbreviated form. Instead, it's called the RCR. The department sources expect the new regiment will be called the 1SSR when it is discussed in military circles or in the public.

The Forces might not call them the SS Regiment, but you can bet the media and the opposition parties will.

That might be reason enough not to rename JTF2.

O'Connor should leave well enough alone.

Source: National Post

Sunday, December 17, 2006

It's All About You

Time used to be a serious newsmagazine; reading back issues from 50, 30, even 15 years ago, one is struck by how its focus has changed from thoughtful, in-depth analysis of world events to infotainment fluff.

Now it has reached its nadir by naming you, me, and everyone else Man of the Year.

In this era of narcissism and celebrity-seeking, this is the ultimate end: every man thinks himself great.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Lord Of The Flies

Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour, but in the waters of the Culligan man, they send forth frivolous and vexatious lawsuits:

The Ontario Court of Appeal has overturned a judgment that awarded $341,775 in damages to a Windsor hairdresser who developed an "objectively bizarre" nervous disorder after seeing 1 1/2 dead flies floating in a container of bottled water.

Waddah "Martin" Mustapha noticed the flies as he replaced a bottle of Culligan water on his home dispenser in 2001 and developed a major depressive disorder.

His symptoms included phobias, nightmares and imagining flies walking on rotting food. Mustapha also worried about his wife preparing baby formula with the water and said he lost clients and his ability to perform sexually.

"Neither Mustapha nor any member of his family drank from the bottle," said Justice Robert Blair, writing for the appeal court yesterday.

"He became obsessed, however, with thoughts about the dead fly in the water and about the potential implications for his family's health of their having possibly been drinking unpurified water in the past."

While characterizing Mustapha's reaction as "objectively bizarre," the trial judge, Justice John Brockenshire, found it was explained in part by his upbringing in the Middle East, "where the devotion to and concern for the family is at a higher level than is found in North America."

Maybe so in the Middle East--depending on a rather strained definition of paternal solicitude--but the problem is clearly with the neurotic hypochondriac who went nuts over a fly in his water.

The thin-skull plaintiff rule must have its limits somewhere. Who hasn't seen a dead fly floating around in the sink?

The Ontario Court of Appeal, when dealing with legal liability instead of social policy, can exercise common sense in its bailiwick. Mustapha needs a shrink, not a cheque, to deal with his problems.

Source: Toronto Star

Friday, December 15, 2006

Myriam Bedard: Not Without Her Daughter?

Troubled Western woman left unbalanced by her failed marriage and other personal reverses takes up with a smooth-talking, educated Iranian with a shady background and ends up putting herself and her daughter in serious trouble.

Now not just a sappy TV Movie of the Week starring Sally Field.

Source: Toronto Star

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Deny, Deny, Deny

The St. F.X. prof who attended the Iranian government's Holocaust denial symposium is now claiming that, hey, how was he supposed to know all those Jew-hating conspiracy theory nuts were going to show up:

Dr. Dossa told the Globe and Mail that he is not a Holocaust denier, and called those who deny the Holocaust "hacks and lunatics." Still, his presence at the conference, sponsored by the Iranian government and featuring speeches by anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers, has raised eyebrows on campus and has been condemned by some university officials.

Yesterday, the university distanced itself from Dr. Dossa's decision to attend the conference, which has been roundly denounced internationally. Dr. Riley said faculty members have the right to free speech, but stressed that Dr. Dossa isn't receiving any university money to be in Iran.

"Despite all that, it's still our name and he still works at our university," he said. "So I want to make it very clear . . . that the university is not lending any credibility, not an ounce of credibility, to the exercise that occurred in Tehran."

He added: "I think there's going to be a lot of discussion about the appropriateness of attending the conference, that's for sure. I'm already expecting to have different things suggested within the university community. It's not appropriate at this point to map out any specific things that will happen."

Dr. Dossa knew full well what the conference was about and who was going to show up. The Iranian government had been planning this event for months and calling on academics the world over to come. For some weeks before the event, the symposium was in the news, and Tehran made no secret of what the focus would be.

And Dr. Dossa went all the same.

So much for his "surprise. He's seeing his tenure at risk and backpedalling as hard as he can.

Source: Globe and Mail

Ambrose Shuffle

It is the custom of government to shuffle the cabinet, if only slightly, about one year after it has been elected. By then, the Prime Minister knows who's performing to expectations, who isn't, and who's exceeding them.

And most governments usually find themselves trailing in the polls after one year, once the honeymoon with the electorate has ended, the first promises have been broken or delayed, and the first scandals erupted.

So it should come as little surprise, with a possible spring election in the offing, that the Tories will be combining the first-year shuffle with the pre-election shuffle:

Cabinet shuffle speculation has risen in the past few days in Ottawa, with Environment Minister Rona Ambrose at the top of the list of who's supposed to be moved or jettisoned.

The arrival of a new minister, according to Conservative sources, would coincide with what's being called a "relaunch" of the Tories' environmental plan, which was widely panned when it was unrolled this fall.

Now that the Commons is on its holiday break until the end of January — it adjourned last night — all political attention in Ottawa is shifting to how Harper wants to make his government election-ready for 2007.

With the Green party surging in the polls and a new Liberal leader, Stéphane Dion, elected on the strength of a concerted, environmental push within his party, pressure is building on the Harper Conservatives to grapple with a perceived vulnerability on all things green.

Even former prime minister Brian Mulroney, an ally and infrequent adviser to Harper, gave an interview to CBC Radio this week and said the Tories were at risk of letting Liberals run away with the environment issue. Mulroney — named the "greenest prime minister" in a ceremony this year, with the current prime minister at his side — not so subtly said that Harper had to show some improvement on his environmental agenda, because it's important to the middle-class voters the Tories need.

Anyone who questions the orthodoxy of the Kyoto accord, however tentatively, will be damned in the press for heresy. Ambrose could have been the most articulate saleswoman of the Clean Air Act, backed by all the facts and figures, and it wouldn't have made a difference.

Her successor as Environment Minister will face the same pressure: accept Kyoto in its entirety, or else.

Source: Toronto Star

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

X Ring

St. Francis Xavier University has come down in the world since the Church ran it, as evidenced by the extra-curricular activities of one Professor Shiraz Dossa:

Shiraz Dossa, who has taught political science at St. F.X. since 1988, was scheduled to discuss "Liberalism, Holocaust and war against Muslims" on Monday at the Adelaide Institute’s two-day forum in Tehran called Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision.

"He is not representing St. F.X., obviously," Allan Gates, a university spokesman, said in an interview Tuesday. "He’s there as an individual.

"His views or opinions are his own."

Mr. Dossa is listed in an online program for the conference as being affiliated with the University of Toronto, where he was a teaching fellow for two years and "succeeded, accidentally, in earning both an MA and PhD," according to a section about him on the St. F.X. website.

Mr. Gates said he wasn’t aware of Mr. Dossa having any history of controversy while teaching at the university. St. F.X. officials didn’t know the professor was attending the conference in Iran this week until the political science department was contacted Tuesday, Mr. Gates said.


Several people claiming to be Mr. Dossa’s students have posted their opinions of his classes online at

"We were supposed to study Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and the like but instead we watched the Daily Show and listened to him rail against all his various hatreds," one person wrote about a History of Political Thought course.

"Funny how he lives and collects a generous salary in the part of the world he ridicules for a living."

Another complained about Mr. Dossa’s tendency to mark hard.

"‘Dr. Dossa (he’s very proud of his PhD) rants all day about George Bush," the poster also wrote. "I still do not know anything about political science. The exams and paper topics are ridiculous. There is no textbook."

An anti-American, anti-Semitic, leftist nutjob of dubious achievement safely ensconced in a tenured political science professorship? I never heard of the like!

In any event, tenure should be no protection for Dr. Dossa. He is not contributing to the sum of useful human knowledge by attending this conference; indeed, he is subtracting from it. He disgraces his profession's best traditions by attending a so-called symposium that is little more than an academic Nuremburg rally.

Even the looniest of moonbat gatherings can be said, in some strange way, to be furthering the advancement of human knowledge (if only of psychopathology). This one does not. Fire him and let him peddle his trash in Tehran.

Source: Halifax Chronicle-Herald

MADD Money

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers has pulled its fundraising to the roadside after being caught under the influence of administrative bloat:

MADD Canada has stopped fundraising across the country pending an internal review of allegations that most donor money stays with professional telemarketers and door-knockers.

But leading volunteers with the anti-drunk driving charity say that's not enough. They want chief executive officer Andrew Murie to bring in an outside firm to scour the $12 million-a-year charity's books.


A Star investigation published Saturday delved into MADD's internal financial statements and revealed that only about 19 cents of every dollar goes to victim services and the fight against drunk driving. The charity, which has for many years been telling the public that most of its money is spent on charitable programs, has been counting as charity the work of professional telemarketers and other fundraisers. MADD does this, Murie has said, on the theory that their calls for cash are also spreading the message that drinking and driving is a criminal offence with sometimes fatal consequences. The federal charity regulator does not condone this practice.

Murie has not returned requests for interviews over the past month, including a request made yesterday by the Star. In a letter to the newspaper two weeks ago Murie defended MADD's fundraising practices, saying they ensure "that individual members of the Canadian public are informed about the seriousness of impaired driving."

Shortly after the story was published, the national charity's fundraising campaigns were suspended, Murie announced Monday evening, according to MADD volunteers on the national conference call. "We've been off the phones since Saturday morning," Murie said during the call.

He said there would be a review of the charity's fundraising practices to see if they were obeying federal charity regulations. No time frame for the review was given, but volunteers were told the review would be done internally.

At its inception, MADD did a lot of good work in raising public awareness and stigma about drunk driving's dangers and effects. But like a drunk who's never felt better after a few drinks, MADD lost its judgment and common sense, and has started staggering around dangerously into rough situations and doing foolish things.

Perhaps it's time to take MADD off the road for good.

Source: Toronto Star

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Charter Member

Though it be heresy worthy of excommunication and even burning at the stake, let me say that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is not the source of our liberties, nor the protection thereof. Canadians would be no less free, and perhaps even more so, if the Charter were to be torn up and scattered to the winds tomorrow.

Having said that, occasionally a judge can interpret it in the interests of the common good, as unexpectedly happened in this case:

A Beirut-born man who argued he should not be deported because his involvement in a Palestinian terrorist group was a form of "freedom of expression" has lost his bid to remain in Canada.

The Federal Court ruled against Issam Al Yamani, a volunteer at a Palestinian non-profit organization in Mississauga and the alleged former Canadian head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Mr. Al Yamani, 50, had argued that his activities for the PFLP terror group were protected by sections of the Charter of Rights that guarantee freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression.

But the judge ruled that Mr. Al Yamani's complaint was "without merit" since "his right to belong to a terrorist organization does not fall within the rights protected by Section 15" of the Charter.

The Canada Border Services Agency said the decision "brings us one step closer" to deporting Mr. Al Yamani. "Individuals that commit crimes against humanity, war crimes, acts of terrorism or pose a threat to Canadian society are not welcome here," spokeswoman Anna Pape said yesterday.

Canada outlawed the PFLP in 2003, describing it as a Marxist terrorist organization that since 1968 had committed hijackings, car bombings and suicide bombings. The PFLP's bombing of an Israeli pizzeria in February, 2002, killed three civilians.

Mr. Al Yamani volunteers at Palestine House, which describes itself as "an educational, social and cultural centre to the Palestinian community" in Canada.

In so ruling, the judge violated a cardinal tenet of Charter jurisprudence: Section 15 must always be interpreted in favour of elements destructive to Canadian society, whether through tortured logic on the enumerated grounds, or reading in some vaguely analogous ground.

If Al Yamani can appeal from this decision, the appellate court will almost certainly slap down the Federal Court for its impertinence towards the Charter, though it may uphold his deportation on other grounds.

But the lower courts will be reminded of what Section 15 is really there for.

As will we all.

Source: National Post

Bloc Head On Afghanistan

Whenever the call to arms has been sounded, Canada has oft been quick to heed it, but Quebec has usually covered its ears.

Following the historical precedent set in two World Wars, Quebec's leading political spokesman is once again voicing the traditional isolationism of la belle nation :

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe is ready to trigger the defeat of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority government if Canada's role in Afghanistan does not change soon.

Mr. Duceppe wants the mission to concentrate on reconstruction, noting it is now “essentially military.” If the change in emphasis doesn't take place soon, he will consider introducing a no-confidence motion in the House of Commons to topple the government.


While the Bloc Leader refused to say when he would table such a motion, he did not exclude forcing a vote as early as February. Soldiers from the Royal 22nd regiment from Valcartier, Que., will be sent to Afghanistan next August


“Mr. Harper will need to rapidly and profoundly change the Canadian mission in Afghanistan, which in a few months will be made up of men and women from Valcartier. We will not be accomplices of an obtuse government who would stubbornly maintain the current course,” he said.

There's the rub! Canada can send all the cannon fodder it likes to for les anglais or the Yanks, but the minute one single habitant gets sent overseas, it's bloody blue murder!

To say nothing of condemning a military mission for performing, well, military duties. How does one even begin to answer such a foolish criticism?

Source: Globe and Mail

Monday, December 11, 2006

Man! I Feel Like A Woman!

Stephane Dion has declared that one-third of all Liberal candidates in the next election will be women, even if he has to appoint them himself.

While many commentators have condemned Dion's plan as a needlessly inflammatory, and indeed patronizing, affirmative action program for women, there has been surprisingly little consideration of the plan's main flaw: how does the Liberal Party define who or what a woman is?

Don't laugh: there is plenty of supposedly serious academic debate about the nature of gender.

Defining "woman" by some arbitrary scientific standard, such as the possession of XX chromosomes, may be considered unduly discriminatory and lacking any public policy justification for same.

Consider the case of transsexuals. A man who has hade sex-change surgery may still have a male genetic profile, but he has been pumped full of estrogen and surgically castrated in order to develop secondary female sex characteristics. Is he/she/it not a woman?

A pre-operative transsexual may not have taken any hormone treatment or been surgically altered in any way, but if he thinks of himself as a woman, is he not a woman?

What about transvestites, who may have no intention of changing their sex, but who may identify themselves as women and dress exclusively in women's clothing? What if such a man just likes to wear panties under his suit or wear his wife's twinsets and heels when she's out of town?

On the other hand, should women seeking to become men through sex change surgery be considered women for the purposes of candidate selection?

To say nothing of homosexuals...but we cannot say nothing of homosexuals in this issue.

Homosexual couples almost invariably ape heterosexual couples: one plays the "man," the other plays the "woman."

A passive, effeminate homosexual man who "catches," as it were, might be more womanly than many women in the Liberal Party. By the same token, a butch, masculine lesbian with a buzz cut working at a lumber mill might be more of a man than the girly men who make up much of the Liberal Party.

And then there are those strange creatures who call themselves "genderqueer"; that is to say, who consider themselves neither man nor woman, or perhaps a bit of both. Should they be able to have it both ways--or neither way?

If gender is simply another social construct (and Liberals already have forced civil marriage into this category), then surely anyone who thinks of himself/herself/itself as a woman should be accepted as such by the Liberal Party.

Anything else would simply be illiberal, bigoted and un-Canadian.

Source: Toronto Star

Down Wid Da Causeway!

General John Cabot Trail of the Cape Breton Liberation Army may be about to ready some real life troops to his comedic army, after all:

With Ottawa's recent decision to recognize the Québécois as a nation, federal politicians have unwittingly breathed new life into the separatist movement — in Cape Breton.


Though fuelled by the widespread perception that the island has long been neglected by the provincial government, the fringe movement has lain dormant for years. But members of this small, disparate group say Prime Minister Stephen Harper's historic parliamentary motion, adopted last month, has revived their dream.

Mark Macneill, a proponent of making Cape Breton a province, says the motion has placed Canada on a slippery slope toward constitutional change.

"Where there's change, there's often opportunity," says Macneill, a long-time Cape Bretoner whose campaign has included letters to politicians and media. "There's going to be an opportunity ... to see if we can negotiate Cape Breton as one of Canada's newest provinces." Macneill, an educator from Mabou who does not claim membership in any official movement, says Harper's motion could inspire similar movements in Labrador, northern Ontario and northern Manitoba. He says a "predominant majority" of the island's 150,000 residents support separation.

Some Cape Bretoners, including retired radio host Bill Davies, say the island never willingly gave up its independence after it became a separate colony in 1784.

"We were annexed without our knowledge," he says, referring to its unification with Nova Scotia in 1820.

Davies, a resident of Glace Bay, plans to circulate a petition advocating provincial or territorial status for the island. "People are talking now about Quebec and eventually they'll come up with, well, (Cape Breton is) distinct, we should be on our own."

As a Mainlander, I could not agree more. Cape Breton has been an economic millstone around the Mainland's neck for decades. Billions pumped into keeping Sysco and Devco going, and various make-work and fly-by-night job creation schemes have done nothing to make Cape Breton economically self-sufficient, but have bought plenty of resentment.

Cut the Capers adrift and they'll have to find someone else to blame for their problems than the Mainlanders.

Source: Halifax Chronicle-Herald

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Hide The Kielbasa

Some concepts are just inherently funny, no matter how serious the actual subject matter. "Polish sex scandal" is one of them.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Citizen Dion: Rootless Cosmopolitan

For many years now, our governing elites have been preaching the gospel of transnational progressivism, in which the idea of postnational global citizenship takes precedence over the sovereign nation-state.

The promotion of institutions such as the United Nations and its various agencies and conventions as guardians of a higher law than that of mere states is neverending. Wars are somehow illegitimate if not approved by the United Nations Security Council; social legislation must conform to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; environmental law must be framed around the Kyoto accords, etc., etc.

The claims of mere national loyalties, to those such as Dion, are irrelevancies or annoyances at best, dangerous obstacles at worst, to the ultimate goal of a single world government.

But in the meantime, national citizenship can be used as a convenient method to get the benefits and protections of one state while avoiding the pains and penalties of another.

Understand that, and you'll understand why Stephane Dion has reacted as he has to the suggestion that he renounce his French citizenship:

"I'm born like that. It's part of me. It's my mother who gave that to me. And like all sons, I love my mother and I love what she gave to me. And so to remove that from me, I'd be sad,” Mr. Dion said.

“This being said, if I see that it's a liability for our winnability, I will do it.”

The idea of a single national loyalty and identity seems quaint to cosmopolitans such as Dion. He and his ideological cohort consider themselves citizens of the world; why should they be tied down to being citizens of one nation?

But if the plebes on whose votes he unfortunately depends insist, Dion will bow to their prejudices, for the moment. Once he and his cohort rule the world, citizenship will hardly matter anyway.

Source: Globe and Mail

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Citizen Dion

Andrew Coyne continues his lament for the Trudeau vision of Canadian nationalism, while failing to realize that the Trudeau vision of a bilingual, multicultural state has contributed to the very lack of coherent Canadian national identity it supposedly remedied.

Nonetheless, he is right about the mixed message Stephane Dion's refusal to renounce his French citizenship sends to Canadians:

For such a venture to succeed, it demands some measure of commitment. We cannot just opt in and out of the social contract as we please, obeying some laws but not others, paying some taxes but not the rest. Either you're in, that is, or you're out -- you can be one or the other, but not both at the same time. The seal on that commitment is that we forswear all other allegiances. The things we value are the things that cost us, and the price of a Canadian passport is -- or should be -- that you cannot carry another.


Citizenship is external, a set of rights and privileges we expect for ourselves and acknowledge in others. In other nations, this is understood implicitly: try to imagine the Americans electing a president who was also a citizen of another country. Perhaps that makes us more advanced than them. Or perhaps it explains why we have been perched on the brink of dissolution for 40 years, enervated, irresolute, unable to move this way or that for fear of triggering our own destruction: a country in which it is considered business as usual for its several parts to blackmail and threaten each other. Perhaps, that is, we have simply forgotten what it is to be a nation, or what citizenship means.

But even in this country, we understand that it is necessary sometimes to choose. It is unlikely, as others have pointed out, that Mr. Dion could have been elected leader of the Liberal party were he also a member of the NDP. Can it be otherwise for the leader of the country, that he should also be a citizen of another?

Dion's inability to understand the public response to his refusal to renounce dual citizenship reflects an increasing gulf between the public and the elites over the nature of citizenship and national identity.

Dion is like many transnational progressives, who see supranational institutions such as the United Nations as possessing some superior moral authority, indeed as the grantor of that "citizenship of the world" to which all enlightened folk are expected to aspire.

The elites of the world identify more with each other than with the ordinary citizens of their respective nations. If they do not act as one world government in law, or even in fact, clearly it is an ideal to which they aspire.

They are not unlike the old royal houses of Europe, who saw nothing incongruous about marrying off their daughters to become foreign queens and taking foreign thrones for themselves.

Nations and national loyalties are mere playthings and embarrassments to them. Little wonder that they act accordingly.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Halifax Explosion

Today is the 89th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion.

Listen to Wilfred Creighton's eyewitness account from that tragic day.

Learn more about the largest man-made non-nuclear explosion.


RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli has hung up his red serge and will be taking his musical ride into the sunset, all because he couldn't keep his dates straight about when he heard that the Mounties hadn't gotten their man:

Robert Fife, CTV News' Ottawa bureau chief, told Newsnet that it's clear Zaccardelli has lost the confidence of all political leaders in the House of Commons.

Zaccardelli told Parliament's public safety committee on Tuesday that what he had told them in late September about the Maher Arar case was wrong.

In late September, Zaccardelli told the committee that he found out in 2002 that the RCMP had branded Arar an Islamic extremist.

They passed that information on to the U.S. authorities, who used it to deport Arar to his native Syria. Authorities there interrogated and tortured Arar.

Now Zaccardelli said he couldn't have known that in 2002. He claims he only found out two months ago, when the report of an inquiry into the scandal got released.

"I did not learn about the mislabelling or the mistakes until after the conclusion of Justice O'Connor's report. Therefore I could not have known that when he was detained in the U.S. or when he was detained in Syria."

Which was it? It doesn't matter much now. Either way, Zaccardelli would have had to prove himself incompetent or complicit in the Arar mess.

Under his watch, the RCMP suffered a serious loss of credibility as it acted increasingly like the law enforcement arm of the Liberal Party and PMO: witness the shameful treatment of Francois Beaudoin and Juliet O'Neill.

Zaccardelli's days as commissioner were numbered, even without the Maher Arar embarrassment: with them, they were done.

Source: CTV

Feast Of The Martyrs Of Feminism

Since every goodthinkful Canadian must commemorate this high holy day of feminism, I shall follow Kathy Shaidle's example and repost my own previous reflections about today.

As the possessor of a Y chromosome, I shall be expected to perform penance today for the sins of my fellow men today.

Therefore, I shall give 29 cents of my unearned money to a needy woman.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Young Pretender

Stephen Taylor reports that Justin Trudeau may be running in the next election in the Outremont riding currently held by Jean Lapierre.

Sure, he backed Gerard Kennedy and likely had a hand in the deal that brought Kennedy into Stephane Dion's camp and Dion into the leadership.

Sure, the principle of alternance means that Dion's successor would almost certainly be an anglophone.

Sure, you might think that he'd have to put his higher ambitions on hold for a while.

But don't underestimate the Liberals' ability to delude themselves into believing that Canada wants Trudeaumania again. If Dion loses the next election, he might just get the hook in favour of Bonnie Prince Justin.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Dion Love-In Begins

The fact that Stephane Dion is now leader of the Liberal Party is reason enough not to underestimate the man's political skills; clearly, he is no longer just another colourless policy wonk plucked from academic obscurity.

But that doesn't justify the tongue bath that Jeffrey Simpson and the rest of the Globe and Mail are giving him today:

Stéphane is one tough cookie behind those geeky glasses, awkward body language and shy, sly grin. He knows who he is, what he believes in, where he wants to go. And he knows how to get there. He is focused and confident, perhaps to a fault. No one outside Quebec knows how tough he has had to be in that province, where he has been mocked, belittled, satirized, pilloried, scorned. His face has been on every secessionist's dartboard.


What critics missed then, and now, is his fierce determination to improve and succeed. Knock him down. Beat him up. Mr. Dion just keeps going forward, sometimes oblivious to the feelings of others, inadvertently rude, annoyingly convinced of the absolute correctness of his analysis. He's a Presbyterian, politically speaking — unadorned, slightly severe, utterly determined, without pretence, searching for self-improvement, anchored in his convictions.

Almost every former ministerial colleague can recount tales of Mr. Dion's righteous rectitude around the cabinet table. He didn't schmooze, make friends or build alliances. He just mastered his briefs, plowed forward and jack-hammered his arguments against any opposition. Not surprisingly, therefore, very few senior members of those cabinets supported him. His intellect, they respected; his political judgment and personal skills they did not.

The reader can draw the appropriate conclusion: Stephane Dion is the Liberal Party's answer to Stephen Harper, except presumably with a social conscience.

The media hopes that Dion will fit the Harper mould--austere academic written off for dead, only to triumph through perseverance--because having backed the front-runners and lost, he's all they've got left to recoup their credibility.

But you never step into the same election twice. Dion, unlike Harper, has a previous government's record to defend. Also unlike Harper, he has made real enemies in his home province.

And perhaps worst of all, he has to contend with the perception that after for 40 years of practically unbroken governance by prime ministers of Quebec, the country doesn't need another one just now. For all the Central Canadian elites' disdain towards Alberta, the electorate doesn't feel the same way about an Albertan.

Nonetheless, Dion will have an extended honeymoon in the media and elite circles. Even if he wasn't their first choice, he is still one of them, and all will be forgiven because of that.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Anybody But

The key to victory these days, it seems, is to be anybody but the perceived frontrunners.

Kate McMillan called it with Stephane Dion.

And the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party, faced with a similar choice between the presumably too socialist establishment candidate and the too American rookie, chose another bland and inoffensive workhorse.

Stephane Dion and Ed Stelmach: the anybody buts.

May the least objectionable man win!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Fourth And Down

Stephane Dion 2531
Michael Ignatieff 2084

Loyalty and long service beat carpetbagging opportunism.

Nonetheless, it's more of the same for the Liberal Party, which has demonstrated that strong leadership comes from alternating between Quebec lawyers and Quebec academics.

Third Ballot

Stephane Dion 1,782
Michael Ignatieff 1,660
Bob Rae 1,375

Power Corporation and the backroom boys rebuffed!

Nonetheless, whether Ignatieff comes back from the dead to win or Stephane Dion pulls it out, it'll be more of the same from the Liberal Party.

Second Ballot

Michael Ignatieff 1481
Bob Rae 1132
Stephane Dion 974
Gerard Kennedy 884
Ken Dryden 219

Michael Ignatieff is finished. But Bob Rae hasn't performed up to expectations, either. If Kennedy goes to Dion--as seems likely--Dion will be on the final ballot.

So maybe not another Power Corporation leader.

But more of the same, nonetheless.

Nothing says renewal and audacity like another francophone leader from Quebec.

First Ballot: From Iggy Top To Iggy Flop?

Michael Ignatieff 1,412
Bob Rae 977
Stéphane Dion 856
Gerard Kennedy 854
Ken Dryden 238
Scott Brison 192
Joe Volpe 156
Martha Hall Findlay 130

Scott Brison surprises us all by standing behind Bob Rae, along with Joe Volpe. The two greasiest opportunists in the Liberal Party can sense which way the wind is blowing.

Martha Hall Findlay will back Stephane Dion (too little, too late.)

Ken Dryden is staying on the second ballot, though to what end? He's taken a few too many pucks to the helmet, it seems.

Since Ignatieff couldn't crack 30% on the first ballot, it's likely all over for him.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Iggy: The Lecture

Michael Ignatieff is delivering the lecture of his life.

Too bad that nobody told him it was a political convention and not Harvard Yard.

Volpemania: The End

CPAC is reporting that even as Bob Rae speaks (and quite effectively, I must say), Joe Volpe will pull out before the first ballot to support him.

This is all upside for Joe Volpe: he can console himself with the thought that he has played kingmaker and jumped on the bandwagon before it could roll over him, without the embarrassment of actual vote numbers to prove otherwise.

And it doesn't hurt Bob Rae anymore to have Joe Volpe endorse him, because he has won so many high-profile endorsements and the backing of three former leadership candidates to take away any of the stink that lingers around Volpe.

If only it could have ended with Rae jumping on the Volpe bandwagon.

If only.

Rae Of Sunshine

Shorter Bob Rae: "Forget about that youthful indiscretion in the NDP: let's talk about how much I've changed!"

Dion & The Belmonts

Isn't it interesting that both Ken Dryden and Stephane Dion have mourned the passing of the Progressive Conservative Party right at the outset of their speeches? Tells you a lot about how politics used to be tweedledum and tweedledee in this country.

"More culture in a bowl of yoghurt than in this Conservative government?" Where the hell did that come from? Ah yes, them redneck Albertans again.

Ken Dryden: Through The Five Hole

He shoots, he scores!

"Safe" heroin shooting galleries make him proud to the Canadian, apparently.

Dinning Caught On Morton's Fork

The establishment everywhere fears the people, even in Alberta. Perhaps even especially in Alberta, where the people have never shown much regard for establishment of any kind.

And the establishment is fighting to the last ditch to get Jim Dinning elected leader of the Alberta PC Party and premier:

They meet clandestinely, behind the closed doors of salons in Calgary's Mount Royal mansions and the cappuccino bars of Edmonton's Old Strathcona district. They belong to a small, underground band known as Alberta Liberals. And after decades as political pariahs in a solidly blue province, they're now talking in hushed tones about doing the unthinkable: joining the enemy.

It's anyone's guess how many left-of-centre Albertans have held their noses and forked over $5 for a Progressive Conservative membership, but Gillian Steward, publisher of Alberta Views magazine, which covers the province's arts community, says she's "been hearing from people who would not normally take out a Tory membership that they think that they should." The reason? Fear and perhaps a dash of loathing of Ted Morton, the unapologetically right-wing poli-sci professor on the brink of stealing Alberta's Tory leadership runoff vote this Saturday from urbane centrist front-runner Jim Dinning.

Tom McCabe, president of Theatre Calgary, says that while he didn't vote Tory last election, he's ensured his entire staff has PC memberships and has pressed them to vote for Mr. Dinning and his promise to double funding for the arts.

"I tell them, 'Look. Grow up. You're not voting for the government here ... You're not committing yourself to a lifelong support of the Tories," says Mr. McCabe, who says he knows other music and theatre groups advising their members to join up, too.


Alberta's former treasurer, they charge, is actively recruiting non-Tories, dialing up Liberal party membership lists and warning dyed-in-the-wool Grits that if there's one thing they need dread more than another PC premier, it's a hard-right PC premier with a social-conservative agenda. Says one senior Morton operative: "We've heard it from several law firms downtown," where the city's political power brokers dwell, "that Dinning's people are combing through the Liberal party lists and signing them up as Tories."

Every special interest suckler on the government teat fears being forcibly weaned by Ted Morton. Jim Dinning, for all his other faults, will not do so.

But it may be too little, too late, to salvage the crown, if not the coronation.

Source: National Post

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Tribute

Was it only three years ago that Paul Martin bestrode the Liberal Party as an indestructible Colossus, looking down imperiously at the feeble opposition within and without the party below?

Was it only three years ago that he stood before the nation as the indomitable leader, with unprecedented popularity across the land?

Was it only three years that we despaired of ever seeing even a remote chance at defeating the man who conquered the governing classes as he conquered the federal deficit?

Is it now that the Liberals gather tonight to bury him with fulsome praise, now that his legacy and accomplishments have been brought low?

What can they say that anyone can sincerely believe about him?

Screaming Into The Void

If Karl Rove had given the keynote address at the 2004 Conservative leadership convention, the media and opposition would never have let up with their conspiracy theories about American and Republican Party control of the Tories and the country.

Howard Dean can address the Liberals, however, and those same voices fall silent.

Well, almost all of them:

Leadership candidate Ken Dryden was perhaps the bluntest of the field when he told the Toronto Star earlier this month:

"Whatever interesting things Mr. Dean might say, and I'm sure he has lots of interesting things to say, it's just not the place. This is an event that has to do with us."

That sentiment was still evident Wednesday evening.

"I don't know why they got an American," one elderly Ignatieff delegate groused to a campaign worker. "I don't like it."

Oh, the irony of the last statement.

Source: National Post

Reap What You SOW

Women across the country today will be wandering around aimlessly like lost children unable to fend for themselves, unable to balance their chequebooks to pay for their childrens' daycare with their 71 cents on the male dollar, because their local Status of Women office will no longer be there to help them:

Heritage Minister Bev Oda revealed Wednesday that 12 of the federal agency's 16 regional offices will be shut down by April 1.

The blow is part of a cost-cutting program announced in September that will see the agency lose $5-million from it's $23-million annual budget over two years.

Status of Women Canada works to advance women's economic equality and human rights and eliminate violence against women.

Ms. Oda said the regional offices do little to serve women directly and money can be better spent by streamlining services.

But Liberal MP Maria Minna called the move “reprehensible.”

“Canadian women are still only earning 71 cents to every dollar earned by their male counterparts, more and more women are living in poverty, and we are still waiting for the government to create child-care spaces,” she said.

“With the closure of these regional offices, the government is taking away one of the very few remaining resources for women.”

Which is laughably false. Unless, of course, women who need help are incapable of picking up the Yellow Pages. Or going to city hall. Or calling the local church outreach program. Or the university campus wimmin's centre.

Quick question for the distaff side of the audience: how many of you have ever called the local SOW office for anything?

Source: Globe and Mail (with plenty of unintentionally hilarious reader comments)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Convention Weekend

Come forth and gather round, all ye people: see the knaves, rogues, mountebanks, jesters, fools and scoundrels gather unto the city of Montreal to chose from amongst their ranks a wise and noble leader.

Tonight, Paul Martin will receive the tribute of a grateful party for all that he has done for them; tomorrow, they will debate the one issue that they have sworn not to debate; and on the third day, the messiah will rise from the political dead.

Watch with awe.

No Party For Castro

When the immortal, omnipotent dictator says he's too sick to attend the usual heavily-planned spontaneous celebrations in his honour, that can only mean one thing: he's just about dead.

Let the media circus commence.

Necessary Roughness

Many of us might feel inclined to excuse Ron Stewart's misuse, if not outright fraud, of taxpayers' money on the basis that investigating complaints from federal penitentiary inmates is itself a misuse of taxpayers' money.

And no doubt, most of the complaints from inmates probably were trivial, vexatious, or insufficiently founded.

And perhaps the job itself really is an overpaid sinecure.

But none of that excuses this:

Among other things, Fraser found that Stewart billed taxpayers five times to travel to cities hosting Grey Cup games "to investigate inmate complaints." But there was no evidence of any work being done during those trips even though they cost thousands of dollars in government cash.

Stewart was unable to "provide or remember any details" about investigations or what government business was carried out during his visits to Grey Cup-hosting cities, the auditor's report said yesterday. Stewart left the prisons job in 2004.


For instance, Stewart spent most of his time from April to October each year at a cottage on an island 90 minutes' drive from Ottawa that "had no electricity or land telephone line and was accessible only by boat."


Between 1998 and 2003, Stewart received improper payments totalling $198,000 and another $127,000 in questionable payments for a total of $325,000 in questionable payments.

He was away from work 162 business days but paid anyway, for $83,000 in unearned salary. "Obviously he was not in his office a lot and received wages and didn't work for them," Fraser said in a news conference.

Stewart claimed he used his government car for business 85 per cent of the time, when an audit showed it was really only 10 per cent. He's estimated to owe the Canada Revenue Agency income taxes on $28,000 for the value of that personal benefit.

Over three years, the correctional investigator handed out a total of $260,000 in phoney overtime payments to his staff, some of whom thought they were receiving bonuses.

It appears that Stewart himself may have the opportunity to discover just what the inmates have been complaining about all these years behind bars for a while.

Source: Toronto Star

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Quebec, or at least the Quebecois, have finally been recognized as a nation within Canada.

But where does that leave the rest of Canada?

I fear that English-speaking Canada has about as much sense of itself as an ethnic nation as Austria did prior to the dissolution of the Habsburg Empire.

There wasn't even an Austria per se in the Empire, merely "Die im Reichsrat vertretenen Königreiche und Länder" ("The Kingdoms and Lands represented in the Imperial Council").

Quebec knows that it is a nation. Do the Anglos among us have that sense as well?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Chong Gone

The difference between Michael Chong and Garth Turner could not be greater.

The difference between the public responses to their decisions will be accordingly just as great.

The media's response, however, will be to equate a resignation from Cabinet over a matter of principle with an expulsion from caucus over a matter of indiscretion.

Fear Factor

It is not general election time yet, for Canada nor for Alberta, but two extremely terrifying prospects to the denizens of the Globe and Mail newsrooms--the reversal of the homosexual "marriage" law and the succession of Ted Morton to the premiership of Alberta--have led to the hasty revival of the fear campaign.

And because they're by John Ward of the Canadian Press, they'll be in every paper across the land today.

The lede in this article tells the reader why to fear Ted Morton:

An American-born social conservative who preaches against same-sex marriage, promotes privatized health care and wants more powers for Alberta is emerging as a serious threat in the race to replace Premier Ralph Klein.

And the second paragraph in this one brings us a familiar scare by an all too familiar figure:

Garth Turner also says that, while MPs are being muzzled, he believes there is a pipeline between Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office and some activists on the religious right — or as he calls them, “the righteous right.”

Proper-thinking Canadians will be expected to take to their beds again on reading these articles and piss them with fear.

That is all.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Constantinople, Not Istanbul

Welcome to secular, progressive, modern Turkey, where the spirit of Kemal Ataturk flourishes:

Chanting Islamist slogans and brandishing banners against Western intervention in the Middle East, thousands of people rallied here Sunday to denounce the visit to Turkey by Pope Benedict XVI, which starts on Tuesday.

The demonstration, organized by the Islamist Felicity Party (SP) and entitled "The pope is not welcome", attracted about 15,000 people, far below the 300,000 to one million that activists had predicted.

Hundreds of security forces, including riot police, were on watch at the Caglayan square in central Istanbul.

The mix of religious and political slogans the protestors shouted reflected widespread suspicions among nationalists and Islamists here that the landmark four-day visit is part of Western designs to subdue the Muslim world, rather than an effort to reconcile religions.


The rally highlighted another sensitivity the pope's program has touched here -- his planned visit to Hagia Sophia, a sixth century Byzantine church which was converted to a mosque in 1453 when the Ottomans conquered Istanbul, then called Constantinople. It was transformed into a museum in 1935.

"Break the chains, open Hagia Sophia," the protestors chanted, echoing Islamist desire for the edifice to be re-opened as a mosque.

Opponents believe the pope's planned visit to the building, one of Istanbul's architectural landmarks and a major tourist attraction, is an indication of Christian ambitions to reclaim it as a church.

On Wednesday, police detained 39 nationalist Islamist militants at a wildcat demonstration at Hagia Sophia after they held evening prayers inside the building in defiance of its status as a museum.

The Turks remain an intractable, insoluble problem for the West; little wonder that the European Union is throwing up every roadblock it can to Turkey's entry. Beneath the veneer of Kemalist secular modernism lies the old Ottoman attitude of conquest and subjection of the dhimmi.

If and when Turkey turns officially Islamist, the West will be that much less safer.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Canadian Heritage Moment

This being the Toronto Star, I'm surprised that the paper hasn't been quick to praise this Canadian fighting in the war against Islamic terror:

A top U.S. military commander says the most disciplined, intense attacks from insurgency forces in Iraq to date are being masterminded by an Iraqi Canadian.

Abu Abdul Rahman, who reportedly left Canada in 1995 after marrying an Iraqi woman, is now one of the leaders of a disciplined insurgency unlike anything the American troops have experienced in the past, the New York Times reported yesterday.

The paper said training camps are now providing military instruction for insurgents so they can withstand lengthy fights with the U.S. forces, as opposed to the "hit-and-run" tactics employed during the past.

A battle last week in the village of Turki, east of Baghdad, lasted for 40 hours of close combat, killing at least 72 insurgents and two American officers, the Times noted.

"We hadn't seen anything like this in years," said Lt.-Col. Andrew Poppas of the 82nd Airborne Division.

Poppas singled out the leadership of Rahman and told the newspaper the Iraqi Canadian had been mentioned on jihadist websites as a future replacement for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian who once headed Al Qaeda in Iraq, a group known for its beheadings of foreigners.

Surely Rahman is a Star reporter's dream come true: a Canadian leading the valiant resistance against the armies of American imperialism, the likes of whom we haven't seen since the War of 1812.

But his story has only just begun. To the progressives, he'll be an even more powerful symbol than some random Yankee buck private gone AWOL.

Bonnie Prince Justin

Today's Globe and Mail is a look into the 21st century Canadian version of the Jacobite movement and the high hopes that have been placed in its own Young Pretender:

"You have to run!”

“We need you!”


They are two young women, university students, and they are almost screaming here in the middle of the Carleton University campus, their breath visible enough on such a crisp late November evening it seems the words are hanging from their open mouths.


The writing on the wall, so to speak.

He has heard it all before — and will hear it a whole lot more this coming week as the Liberal Party of Canada heads to Montreal in search of someone who can bring the lost magic back.

“I sometimes feel like running,” he says in a voice so small it barely mists.

“Running away.”Justin Trudeau is 34 years old. As has become the social phenomenon of North America in the 21st century, he has pushed being a teenager right through his 20s and has now reached an age where he both profits from and pays for his lack of seasoning.

Some, particularly those who scan the grey prospects of the leadership stage, see him as a messiah, Pierre Trudeau incarnate at best, Pierre Trudeau Lite at worst, but all the same a future hope. Others cringe at the thought, particularly those of a certain age who perhaps no longer recall what it is to be young and a bit naive and refreshingly passionate about a world that will not hear them out — as well as sometimes acting, well, downright silly.


They come at him everywhere he goes.

“We need you,” presses restaurateur Claudio Fracassi. “We need to get excited about this country again.

“We need Trudeaumania!”

The son flinches. It is no longer 1968; it is 2006. He is not Pierre Elliott Trudeau; he is Justin Pierre James Trudeau. Comparisons are simple; comparisons are odious. In John English's new book on the father, Citizen of the World: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, he says that Pierre completed his schooling and then “spent the next decade and a half seemingly as a dilettante, writing articles for newspapers and journals, driving fast cars and a Harley-Davidson motorbike, escorting beautiful women to concerts and restaurants, travelling the globe wherever he wished, founding political groupings that went nowhere. . . .” Then, in 1965 — “suddenly, or so it seemed” — he ran and won a seat and, three years later, was leader and prime minister “amid a media frenzy usually reserved for rock stars, not politicians.”

Justin Trudeau does not have the luxury of coming out of nowhere. It is, however, somewhat possible to describe the son's early adult years as dilettantish: teaching snowboarding in Whistler, taking boxing lessons, signing up for various causes, speaking out on issues, appearing, somewhat surprisingly, as a host of the Giller literary awards, acting in a CBC film on the life of First World War hero Talbot Papineau, dabbling in school and politics.

But just as it has been said that Pierre Trudeau also did substantial matters in those years — getting involved in a famous strike, starting up a political journal, doing legal work — the son has had his own accomplishments that have their own value: teaching elementary school and high school, serving as chair of the Katimavik youth project, returning to McGill recently to complete a master's in environmental geography.

Restoration movements are so often disappointed in their hopes when the pretender fails to revive the past glories of the old ruling house or party.

The people who have made Justin Trudeau into the Canadian version of Bonnie Prince Charlie are pining for a glorious age that largely existed only in their own minds, and a vision of Canada that has degraded the nation and failed in all its aims.

As it appears that the old Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto elites must make place for the new wealth and power of Calgary, and the paternalistic vision of the bilingual, multicultural welfare state and peacekeeper to the world has degenerated into tribalism, cronyism and impotence, the old guard has pinned all its hopes on the son to restore the works of the father.

But the Glorious Counterrevolution cannot be undone.

He will no come back again.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Lavender Leafs

Incredible: a movie about a gay former Leaf which isn't about the Wendel Clark rumours.

Iggy Flip Flop

It's official: Michael Ignatieff was for recognizing Quebec as a nation in Canada before he was against it, and is now for it again.

He should be thankful to Stephen Harper for pulling him out of the fire, but ivory tower academics never seem to care too much about the real-life consequences of their common room debates.

And it's not in Ignatieff's nature to share the credit with others.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Face the Nation, Part II

As the Irish question vexed our British forebears with its maddening insolubility, so too has the Quebec question frustrated generations of Canadians.

Few would have denied that the Irish people constituted as distinct a nation as Scotland did within the Union, but the mere recognition thereof was so tied up with centuries of historical freight that nothing could have satisfied either side, short of breaking up the Union or extinguishing the Irish race.

Will the recognition of Quebec as a nation within Canada prove to be ultimately as fatal to Confederation as the issue of Home Rule proved to be in Britain?

Andrew Coyne drew his analogy with Belgium instead of Ireland, but the idea is the same:

Somewhere along the way the political class in this country lost the will to live. For a time it suited them to believe they still believed, to pretend that Canada was still the country the Fathers of Confederation created, to pay lip service to the vision of prime ministers from Macdonald through Trudeau: that Canada was a great nation, capable of great things, called by history and immense good fortune to greatness.

But they did not feel it in their gut. Because a nation is hard work. To assert a national will, national objectives, a national interest, in a polyethnic, multilingual, transcontinental country, means upholding a national idea, a transcendent nationalism of ideals, against the more earthly delights of ethnic and cultural tribalism. It suggests that we are tied by something more than blood, something higher than ethnicity. And in turn it demands that we live up to that vision, that we hold a greater ambition for ourselves than mere existence.


So let us give thanks for one thing: at least the pretense is over. The Prime Minister’s statement in the House yesterday, a statement no prime minister has ever made before, marks the moment when the idea of Canada finally shrugged, sighed, heaved and expired. The hollowing out of the national idea -- of a vision of Canada as a coherent national entity, capable of acting with a single national purpose -- is now complete. We are well on our way to Belgiumhood, and that suits our political class just fine.

And in this vein, he has a collection of editorial condemnations , if not in quite the same funereal tone.

Coyne's lament for the Canadian nation is a lament for the inability of an abstraction to win the hearts and minds of people over the reality.

In every real sense--cultural, historical, political--the Quebecois are a nation unto themselves, bound to Canada only by accidents of history and political expediency.

Recognition of that fact, all political calculations aside, will simply recognize what too many of us have long denied: Quebec is a nation, English Canada may be a nation, but Canada is a state.

No constitutional formula can change that fact, merely work out the logistics of the nations' current living arrangements.

If and when Canada loses the forces and reasons currently keeping it together, it will break up, as have other binational and multinational states before it.

Face The Nation, Part I

Despite having won the thinnest minority government in Canadian history, Stephen Harper has demonstrated that boldness, and not caution, is the surest way to keep such a government in office and accomplishing its objectives.

And now with the motion to recognize Quebec as a nation within Canada, he has grabbed the third rail of Canadian politics and gotten all the federalist parties to grab on with him:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper received a standing ovation from all three federalist parties in the House of Commons yesterday after he introduced a landmark resolution that will see the province of Quebec recognized as a "nation within a united Canada."

Mr. Harper outlined the motion in a passionate speech to MPs following question period, leaving the Bloc Quebecois outraged because it plans to ask the Commons today to recognize the predominately French-speaking province as a "nation" with no conditions attached.

The prime minister's intervention in the decades-old dispute has effectively let the Liberal party off the hook for its own divisive plan to address a similar resolution at its policy and leadership convention next week in Montreal.

But it also allowed Mr. Harper's Conservatives -- some of whom were inclined to vote with the Bloc motion -- to cast themselves as the defenders of Canadian unity.

"The real question is straightforward: Do Quebecers form a nation within a united Canada? The answer is yes," Mr. Harper said to applause from Liberal and NDP MPs. "Do Quebecers form a nation independent of Canada? The answer is no, and it will always be no."

The government has not set a date for a vote on the motion, but it appears certain to pass through the Commons.

When this motion passes, nothing will have changed constitutionally or legally, but everything will have changed politically.

The Liberals will have finally buried Trudeau's constitutional legacy even as they continue to praise it.

The Conservatives will have finally severed their last links to the old Reform Party's constitutional vision.

And the Bloc will have to find a way to make victory out of defeat on what should have been a victory.

More analysis later tonight.

Source: Ottawa Citizen