Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Double-Double Your Money

You need no longer roll up the rim to win with Tim Hortons:

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Tim Hortons' stock market debut will likely take place within the next few weeks now that the Wendy's spinoff has set an estimated price range in the closely watched $551 million initial public offering.
Tim Hortons Inc. said in a regulatory filing late Monday it plans to offer 29 million shares at $18 to $20 a share. Its parent, Wendy's, (WEN : Wendy's International, Inc. Last: 57.90-0.76-1.30is offering a roughly 15% stake in the chain.

The move signals the offering will be marketed to prospective investors, and a stock market debut will come in the next few weeks.


Including 4.35 million shares to cover overallotments, Tim Hortons will carry a total of 193.3 million shares for a market capitalization of about $3.67 billion, based on an IPO price of $19 a share.

It its latest earnings report, Wendy's managed to swing to a fourth-quarter profit, partly due to robust sales at Tim Hortons, which saw revenue climb 13% to $341.6 million in the period.

Since the end of 1995, systemwide sales and revenues have grown at compound annual growth rates of 17.6% and 16.5%, respectively.

With an ROI and a brand name like no other, I expect that this will be one of the most quickly subscribed IPOs ever in Canada.

Source: MarketWatch

Some Are More Equal Than Others

Thus spake Dalton McGuinty:

The province that's home to 40 per cent of Canadians deserves the loudest voice in the debate over the country's financial "architecture," Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty suggested Tuesday as he renewed his call for a royal commission into the so-called fiscal imbalance.


"(Harper) said he didn't see that I had much support for it, and I reminded him that I had the support of 40 per cent of Canadians."

McGuinty said he raised the issue again with Harper after dinner, when the two were alone, stressing that Ontario's call for a royal commission deserved consideration despite the objections of the other premiers.

"In that kind of a dynamic, you get 14 people around the table, and you'll suddenly think that each of the 14 has got equal clout here," McGuinty said.

"And while I have the greatest respect for all my colleagues, I don't want Prime Minister Harper to lose sight of the fact that we bring a lot to the table."

Asked if he was saying Ontario was more equal than the other provinces and territories, McGuinty laughed and said, "We're more 40 per cent than the others."

The Ontario attitude still grinds my gears, even years after coming here from back East. What's best for Ontario is best for Canada--what's Ontario's is Ontario's--what's yours is negotiable. World without end, amen.

Yet the golden rule still applies: he who has the gold makes the rules. Increasingly, though, it isn't just Ontario who has it. Apparently the Leduc oil find still hasn't made headlines in Toronto, 60 years after the fact.

Source: Canoe

Flagged Down

Wherever Canadian fighting men have gone, as conquerors and liberators, they have never feared to raise high the Union Jack, the Red Ensign, or the Maple Leaf. Until now:

Commanders of Operation Enduring Freedom have asked coalition troops to lower their national flags and fly only the black-red-green of Afghanistan in an effort to put Afghan colours on forces bolstering the national government.

Canada has decided to comply with the request, citing "cultural sensitivity."

"This is not Canada, this is the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan," said Brig.-Gen. David Fraser, head of the Canadian contingent and the multinational brigade in southern Afghanistan.

"We've got to respect their cultures and traditions and be respectful that they invited us here. I think it's only fitting we fly their flag."

Flag flying is not a zero-sum game. A few foreign flags on Afghan soil, at foreign military installations only, will not make the people any less free, nor the government any less legitimate.

"Cultural sensitivity" sounds too much like pressure from Islamist elements in the Afghani government. The Taliban may be gone, but less blatantly extreme Islamist elements still enjoy wide support in the country. To strike our colours is a sign of fear, and will not win respect from them. They know what lowering the flag means as well as anyone.

But if the Afghan government insists, we should take our flags down--and our soldiers with them.

Source: Canoe

Man And Goat

Why should Sudan be more progressive in marriage law reform than Canada?

Begging For Justice

You can't throw a pebble in downtown Toronto without hitting three new condo developments or panhandlers in various states of intoxication, sanity or temperment asking for spare change.

There are no easy answers to this problem, though there are many simple ones.

Leave it to their self-appointed advocates, however, to propose one that doesn't help them get back on their feet:

The law that bans squeegee kids from asking motorists for money and washing windshields in return violates the constitutional protection for free speech, the Ontario Court of Appeal was told yesterday.

"Both the purpose and the effect of the law is to restrict speech," lawyer Frank Addario told the court on behalf of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which is intervening in the appeal of the Safe Streets Act, a law passed by the province in 1999 to outlaw aggressive panhandling and squeegee-cleaning.

Since it was passed, the validity of the law, which has been upheld in two lower court hearings, has been questioned by civil libertarians and supporters of street people, the former arguing that it violates free speech and the latter that it discriminates against the poor as a class of people.

If the Safe Streets Act is overturned, not a single homeless person will be helped, but their well-heeled "friends" will be congratulating themselves about having torn down another neo-conservative Harris regime legacy.

Which in the end, is what this court challenge is about. The wastrel or lunatic on the corner of Yonge and Dundas couldn't care less about an empty legal right to beg; in their more lucid moments, they want off the streets and back into society.

The poor we will always have with us, but that's not an excuse to use them as a political weapon.

Source: Globe and Mail

Monday, February 27, 2006

Judicial Questioning

Despite the dark and foreboding prophecies of the oracles, the earth was not split asunder, nor was the veil of the temple rent in twain.

Our MPs asked a few gentle questions of the newest Supreme Court justice, he answered in kind, and the faith of the people in the holy of holies was not weakened.

Judges should stick to the law and leave social agendas to elected politicians, says the man nominated by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to be the newest member of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Marshall Rothstein, the first high court nominee in history to face questions from a committee of MPs, tempered his remarks Monday by observing that legislation must always be measured against the Charter of Rights.


"The important thing is that judges, when applying the Charter, have to have recognition that the statute that they're dealing with was passed by a democratically elected legislature, that it's unlikely that the legislature intended to violate the Charter . . . and therefore they have to approach the matter with some restraint.

"But the most important thing is that they apply a rigorous and thorough analysis and if they do that then I'd say that they're doing their job. If they depart from that, it might be a different matter."

Surely we did not expect Mr. Justice Rothstein to declare that he was being elevated to the godhead, and therefore was beyond such petty considerations as the rule of law, constitutional convention and the division of responsibilities between the legislative and judicial branches.

He tailored his comments to the audience. Had a Liberal government subjected an appointee to such questioning, that appointee would have waxed rhapsodically about the judiciary's role in strengthening and extending Charter rights and progressive social policy as the inevitable fruit of judicial deliberations thereon.

We learned little about Justice Rothstein's judicial philosophy or personal opinions, but that was not the purpose of the exercise. The point of this gentlemanly question-and-answer session was to demonstrate that our highest judges can no longer use their position as a shield against all criticism and questioning, and that they will not wilt when brought out into the light.

Fears of demagogic inquisitions were much exaggerated. Future Supreme Court justices have nothing to fear; nor should they have anything to hide.

Source: Yahoo

Silenced Witness

Those who have been following the Ipperwash inquiry closely have been waiting for testimony from the policeman who actually pulled the trigger and shot Dudley George dead.

They will be waiting forever:

Kenneth Deane, the elite Ontario Provincial Police paramilitary officer convicted of fatally shooting Indian activist Anthony (Dudley) George, was killed on the weekend in a traffic accident on Highway 401 in eastern Ontario.

Deane, 45, was in charge of a four-man sniper team late at night on Sept. 6, 1995, with the job of escorting the force's crowd management unit, or riot squad, as it marched toward about three dozen protestors outside Ipperwash Provincial Park.

Police marched on the park at night two days after Stoney Point Indians occupied the park, saying it contained sacred burial grounds. Their claims were later supported by documents released by the federal government.

Deane, nicknamed "Tex" by colleagues, was expected to be called as a witness next month at the Ipperwash inquiry before Mr. Justice Sidney Linden in the town of Forest, near the now-closed park.

The conspiracy theorists will be out in full force claiming that Deane's car accident was no accident at all. But one wonders why, because he has already given his version of events at the trial where he was convicted and the police tribunal that fired him.

But those are irrelevant details to those who have regarded the Ipperwash inquiry as a chance to put the entire Mike Harris era on trial, to make Dudley George a martyr at the hands of neo-conservatism.

Source: Toronto Star

Fight For The Power

One of the most common complaints about the current system of government is the increasing concentration of power in the Prime Minister's office. The Prime Minister's power to appoint hundreds of officers, including the Senate, the Supreme Court, and senior civil servants, combined with a convention of rigid party discipline, makes him a near-dictator while in office.

So you'd think that the Gomery inquiry's recommendations to diffuse some of that power would be welcomed in Ottawa.

You'd be wrong:

A national group of business and former government leaders has launched a campaign to oppose Justice John Gomery's proposals to dilute the "chief executive powers" of the prime minister, including the authority to appoint deputy ministers who run departments.

A petition is being circulated among leaders from Canada's private, public and voluntary sectors, including former senior bureaucrats in provincial and federal governments, and politicians of all political stripes, to voice concerns over Judge Gomery's drive to "rebalance" power in Ottawa and stop another sponsorship-like scandal. Dozens of letters requesting signatures to the petition, which will be sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, have been sent over the past few days.

"In any organization, public or private, the chief executive must have chief executive powers," said the cover letter accompanying the petition.

"Diluting these will make it harder, not easier, to manage the nation's business effectively and deliver results which matter to citizens and taxpayers."


Overall, Judge Gomery's 19 recommendations are aimed making government more accountable by taking the politics out of decision-making. But the letter takes aim at four of those recommendations, which the group fears will "impair" management and even undermine accountability. They include:

- Giving the public service a separate constitutional identity from the elected government;

- Requiring ministers to issue written orders to overrule deputy ministers on management issues;

- Watering down the role of the clerk of the Privy Council;

- Transferring the prime minister's power to hire deputies to an independent committee.

The group argues Judge Gomery's plan to separate politics and management gives bureaucrats more power and a separate "constitutional identity" from politicians, which opens the door to government by the unelected.

This esteemed group of signatories' objections can be summed up thus: don't replace the tyranny of an elected prime minister with the tyranny of unelected public servants.

One wonders whether this letter would have been written had the January 23 election results been different. Too many people have a vested interest in the status quo.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Miller Time

Miller Time is going to be hard time if they ever catch the thieves.

Authorities are hoping to break up what must be quite the party after beer thieves made off with almost $26,000 worth of suds from a delivery truck.

A semi trailer loaded with cans and bottles of Miller beer was stolen from a trucking company in Richfield, according to a Washington County Sheriff's Department report. The trailer was found four days later — sans beer — at an Oak Creek trucking firm.

The trailer had been dropped off at the Millis Transfer Co. sometime on Feb. 17 for delivery to a beer distributor in Menomonie, authorities said. Later that night, the trailer was discovered missing.

This article is misleading. Either the thieves stole Miller or they stole beer; they didn't steal both.

Source: MSNBC

Go West, Young Man

The Pope is Catholic, bears shit in the woods, and Maritimers have to go down the road to get ahead in life:

Aaron van Noostrand, 20, taking a break from his business-administration studies at Memorial University in Newfoundland, will return home with enough money to finish his degree debt-free. Not only will he avoid debt, he'll have spending money to travel, visit his family and buy the things he wants.

"My job, like most oil industry- related jobs, pays for my accommodations and food while I'm on site," says van Noostrand via e-mail.

Even phone service is unreliable where he is.

"If I work on a site for three weeks, I pay zero dollars for food and rent. Add to that great wages - in my industry typically $200 (per) day - along with Alberta's tax scheme, which sees a provincial sales tax of only seven per cent and basic personal exemption of roughly $15,000, and you can see why it's tempting to hop on a plane and fly out here," says van Noostrand, who is training to become an emergency medical responder.


Toby Keeping defines the difference between Alberta and Atlantic Canada with a single word: attitude.

"Calgary, despite their political followings, has a very liberal nature to it. People are more open to new ideas, concepts, and are not so conservative that the community wails in pain should a strip bar open within 400 metres of an intersection," says Keeping.

He lived for three years in Calgary and now works in Dartmouth. In the workplace, he said Albertan employers treat their staff better than they do here. Often, they're glad to have dedicated workers. In Atlantic Canada, he says, employees are made to feel blessed to work.

Just think: Nova Scotia could be as prosperous as Alberta, if it actually controlled its own offshore oil. And if its political classes had not cynically created a culture of dependence on government largesse and fly-by-night make-work projects that enrich only their friends. And if we didn't have the most crushing tax burden to pay for it all. And if we didn't have the backhanded attitude to come from aways that never goes away, even when you leave home.

Instead, we get resentment and resignation, and wonder why the young folks leave.

Thousands of us, in Ontario, Alberta, and elsewhere, building better futures in our new hometowns, and not back East.

The vicious circle remains unbroken.

Source: Halifax Daily News

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Drunk Pride

The openly homosexual Episcopalian Bishop of New Hampshire, V. Gene Robinson, recently announced that he is seeking treatment for alcoholism.

As it is extremely unlikely that he became an alcoholic after being made a bishop, one suspects that the gay rights crowd in the Episcopal Church quietly decided to conceal this fact from public knowledge, lest anyone draw any connections between active homosexuality, substance abuse, and other psychological problems, prior to his election in 2003.

One First Things reader has written a delightful letter to Bishop Robinson, calling upon him to embrace his alcoholism with the same pride that he embraces his homosexual preferences:

Dear Bishop Robinson,

I was dismayed by your February 13 letter, in which you trotted out so many of the same old oenophobic clichés. A diversity-loving man such as yourself ought to know that the word “alcoholism” is nowadays tantamount to “hate speech” and I was saddened to see that you have fallen victim to believing the dubious proposition that oenophilia can (and should) be “cured.”

Long ago, Chardonnay rights activists (dismissively called “bums” by “straight” society) reclaimed the language, and adopted far more empowering terms for the great gift God has given them. Only those who lack an integrated affective libational maturity will use such medieval terminology as “alcoholism” to describe this wonderful gift.

In that spirit, you should reject the self-hatred that would let you label yourself an “alcoholic” (connoting something clinical, perhaps even “objectively disordered”). Rather, you ought to accept yourself as a “lush” (connoting what is verdant and bountiful).

Moreover, it is a well-understood psychological principle that the most vocal oenophobes are themselves oenophiles in secret. So please “come out of the cellar,” Bishop Robinson, and embrace your identity as a lush, the way God made you.

It is my sincere hope that you will take this letter to heart, renounce your oenophobia, and decide once again to embrace the LGBT (Liquor, Gin, Beer and Tequila) community.


(name withheld)

Indeed. Drunk pride forever!

Might I suggest a subscription to Modern Drunkard to show him that there are many enlightened, tolerant alcoholics who live healthy and productive lives, unashamed of who they are!

Hiker Detector

That's an anagram for Ride the Rocket, the ubiquitous slogan for the TTC subway service.

Robot Johnny's map of the Toronto subway lines with station names in anagrams provides a bit of amusement for those of us who commute on the cattle cars to work every day.

At every stop now, they're telling people to let people off before boarding and not to charge the doors as they're closing. It's getting that bad on the subways.

Gino's Snot, Butt Rash, and Moroccan Wad sound like some of the nastier messes you see on the subway on Friday night. No wonder public health experts think our subways are a toxic stew.

All part of the price we pay to live in the Centre of the Universe.

Fiscal Revisionism

The provinces have been complaining about the fiscal imbalance for some time now after years of federal surpluses and corresponding provincial deficits.

It seems a simple enough concept: taxpayers in some provinces are paying more into the federal treasury than they get back in transfer payments.

But some economists think that it doesn't even exist:

Convincing arguments have been made by a wide array of economists that the whole concept is a provincial myth.

"The provinces have the means to fix their fiscal problems and we see little reason why Ottawa should do the job for them," Brian Crowley and Bruce Winchester, of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, argued in a submission to the Commons finance committee last February.

Their brief was particularly hard on Quebec, which has led the cries of fiscal imbalance for years.

The have-not province already gets favourable treatment on equalization and bloc transfers relative to most others, and has consistently spent more - in most cases much more - on its public sector than any other province over the past decade. As most provinces have scaled back public-sector expenditures relative to GDP, Quebec has not.

Two examples in the news today are Quebec's expansive subsidized day-care program and its rock-bottom tuition fees, the lowest in Canada.

Winchester and Crowley call this "a perfectly legitimate democratic choice . . . . It is certainly not an argument for taxpayers in other parts of the country to subsidize that political choice."

Quite an argument, if you think that the fiscal imbalance is nothing more than an accounting trick. But there is only one level of taxpayer to cover three levels of government. No matter how much one level raises or cuts taxes, it's still a zero-sum game, because there is only so much income and expenditure to be taxed at any time.

At some point, the feds will have to give back what isn't theirs. And then the blame will be solely on the other two levels if they squander it.

Source: Yahoo

Friday, February 24, 2006

McClelland: Terror Of The Right Whinger Rubes!

He wishes.

If we were afraid of him, we wouldn't dare criticize or ridicule him for fear of Warren Kinsella-style slap suits.

But we do talk about him a lot, maybe a little too much.

He is a masterful self-promoter, if nothing else.

Canada's Most Annoying Columnist Resurfaces.

Heather Mallick wishes she were Maureen Dowd. No sane woman wishes they were Maureen Dowd. Not even Maureen Dowd.

Her first column for CBC.ca on the first-ever hearings for a Supreme Court of Canada justice manages to combine liberal elite condescension with college-girl silliness.

One paragraph tells you everything you need to know about this woman:

You could always use my test of character, which is: "Do you miss Princess Diana?" I do. I still mourn her deeply and I don't really like anyone who doesn't, which is why I never ask that question, especially of my husband, who rolled over in bed when I came upstairs sobbing from watching CNN at 2 a.m. on Aug. 31, 1997, and said the equivalent of: "Yeah? And?"

The Globe and Mail's loss is actually their gain, if they ever stopped to think about it.

Funny, You Don't Look Judicial

Here's a fact the media has feared to point out, for a host of reasons: Marshall Rothstein will be the third Jewish judge sitting on the current Supreme Court, alongside Rosalie Abella and Morris Fish.

How long before the usual suspects start complaining about Jewish bias and domination of the courts when cases involving suspected Islamic terrorists and co-conspirators, and the anti-terrorism laws, make their way to the SCC?

Rothstein J: Vox Populi

Until now, Supreme Court of Canada judges have been chosen by a process that rivals papal conclaves for secrecy and mystique. All that's missing is the white smoke streaming from the chimney at PMO. And, of course, the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

So you'd think that people would be happy for at least a small step towards transparency in the process by having Marshall Rothstein submit to gentle questioning by MPs. Especially after voting out the Liberals in part for their tendencies towards hiding such decision making and reasons from the public.

But you'd be wrong, as this selection of quotes from Globe and Mail readers shows:

From A.L. in Toronto:

It is quite appalling that the 'short list' was leaked to the press by the PMO. It is also disrespectful to put the winning candidate to an inquisitorial process. Rather than leading to a more transparent process, this only serves to highlight the increased politicization of the courts by this government.

Dom Perignon in Pemberton, B.C.:

Kind of ridiculous to subject your winning candidate to a 3 hour charade. I can't think of any job anywhere in government that requires the candidate to get up in front of national TV so that MPs with an agenda can dig up dirt... certainly not MPs and Ministers. What a joke.

Joseph Cheng in Toronto:

The only parties benefiting from this process are the Bloc and the separatists in Quebec. It'll provide them with a repercussion-free forum to ask hypothetical questions for their propaganda purposes such as 'Will you block Quebec to become an independent country if the separatists squeak through a referendum in Quebec?' Or 'Will you block Quebec to send its own representatives to the UN and other international organizations?' I hope other members on this panel will have the guts and instincts to counter the Bloc if questions or issues of an obvious propaganda nature are raised by the separatist.

Barrie Collins in Courtenay, B.C.:

To prevent this Prime Minister from further politicizing, and Americanizing, the Canadian Supreme Court, I suggest that the other political parties boycott this committee entirely. Let the PM appoint his own man. I would remind him, however, that many American Presidents have tried to appoint the 'right' sort of judge to their Supreme Court, only to find out that the appointees subsequently realized the far-reaching significance of the job, and judged cases on their merits, rather than political dogma.

It would seem that a significant number of people actually like the status quo in selecting Supreme Court justices, and the idea that they should be treated as a royal priesthood, supposedly above the squalor of politics and immune from questioning.

But then, there will always be people who worship Caesar.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Skip School

The Newfoundland Department of Education certainly has its priorities straight: it's letting kids out early on Friday so the teachers can watch Brad Gushue's team shoot for the curling gold medal in Turin!

Burke said while schools could have arranged to have children watch the game on television, buses would have arrived during the final ends.

"Schoolchildren just can't walk out of school and declare a holiday. We have to do that for them," Burke said.

Curling is a great Canadian sport, and Gushue is the greatest Newfoundland curler ever, but how many kids do you know were going to hook off to watch the game? Even in Newfoundland?

Source: CBC

Strike Broken: Syd Folds

Syd Ryan has just managed to make Dalton McGuinty look strong and decisive by comparison. And that's no mean feat. One meaningless concession and Ryan folded like a cheap tent on his wildcat strike threat:

Bill 206 — an act to revise the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) — is set to pass today exactly the way the government wrote it.

Last night's deal includes:

A commitment to introduce legislation by the end of June requiring an independent review of Bill 206 by 2012 to see if CUPE's concerns are legitimate. The union says that the requirement for a two-thirds majority vote for pension changes means it won't be able to improve pensions for its members.

An actuarial review to ensure the main pension plan will never subsidize a supplemental plan, which gives police, firefighters and, to some degree paramedics, the ability to retire earlier with full benefits.

"If the independent review comes up and says this is an unfair arbitration process the (municipal affairs) minister is obligated to address it," Ryan said.

But that's not the case at all, the government says.

The minister will give the review's findings "serious consideration," but it is not bound to do anything.

While Ryan believes a review will fix the concerns over which his members were willing to walk off the job illegally, the government believes a review will prove it was right all along with its plan to devolve the $40 billion pension plan to municipalities and their employees.

Who will really care about an actuary's report six years from now? By then, OMERS will be working smoothly under its new municipal bosses and everyone else will have forgotten this dust-up.

But Syd Ryan gets exposed as an empty blusterer.

Works for me.

Source: Toronto Star

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Everybody's A Critic

The Liberal shadow cabinet has been announced, and if somebody didn't make it, they had to be really, really bad, because almost everyone else in the 102-member Liberal caucus did.

Some departments are getting two or three critics against one minister. Given the depth of the Liberal intellectual pool, I'd say that's about even.

Bev Oda will face the Canadian Heritage triple threat of Mauril Belanger, Mario Silva and Francis Scarpaleggia (who he?).

Peter MacKay will be up against the Foreign Affairs trio of Stephane Dion, Byron Wilfert and Borys Wrisnevsky Wzrneffski Wryznevskjii the Ukranian guy.

David Emerson also gets to face three amigos on International Trade: Dominic LeBlanc, Mark Eyking and John Maloney.

But some MPs are considered smart enough to handle some major portfolios all by themselves--Sue Barnes for Justice, John McCallum for Finance and Ken Dryden for Health.

Belinda Stronach gets to handle the complex files at Transport, ably assisted by Jim Karygiannis. I suppose she does know something about the job, car parts and all.

And Michael Ignatieff gets to be Geoff Regan's fartcatcher at Human Resources & Skills. The saviour of the party. An associate critic. To Geoff Regan. In Human Resources. In Canada. We did not make this up.

Here's who didn't get anything:

Scott Simms
Lawrence MacAulay
Shawn Murphy
Tina Keeper
Joe McGuire
Brenda Chamberlain
Jean-Claude d'Amours
Paul Szabo
Brian Murphy
David McGuinty
Tom Wappel
Diane Marleau
Joe Comuzzi
Blair Wilson
Jim Peterson
Judy Sgro
Colleen Beaumier
Peter Milliken
Paul Martin

With the exceptions of Milliken and Martin, this is a complete list of official Liberal Party pariahs. They have to really hate you not to give you a role in the most bloated shadow cabinet in history.

Source: Liberal Party of Canada

Strike Broken

Syd Ryan has called off tomorrow's CUPE wildcat strike in protest against plans to devolve responsibility for municipal employee pensions to the municipalities.

Full details of Dalton McGuinty's surrender will be posted as they become available.

Source: Globe and Mail

Hostages To MacKay's Misfortune

Peter MacKay's shoot from the hip style might have been effective in opposition and endearing to hostile media flogging the tired old moderate PC v. radical Alliance wing meme, but it is dangerous in his present role. For which he is rapidly proving himself unsuited:

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay has apologized to the families of the two Canadian hostages being held in Iraq after suggesting he had new information about their fate.

MacKay told reporters on Monday he was confident the hostages were alive and would be released soon, and that he believed they had been moved several times.

The next day, he told reporters he had no new information since a video was released three weeks ago that indicated they were alive and well.

There isn't a whole lot that he and the rest of the Foreign Affairs people can do to secure the release of the hostages. Several years of hectoring the Americans from the sidelines and moralizing about international law while the coalition put one of the world's ugliest tyrants out of business hasn't exactly endeared Canada to the free Iraqi government.

They remember who was trying to protect Paul Desmarais' Total Fina ELF Iraqi oil interests under the guise of moral purity.

MacKay would be well advised to keep his mouth shut in future about Iraq. He is clearly out of his depth. Stockwell Day wouldn't have stepped in it like this. Heck, even Joe Clark would have handled it better.

Source: CBC

Kinsella v. Bourrie: Match Cancelled

The great Kinsella-Bourrie Canadian blogosphere battle has ended before it really begun:

The manner in which my January 14, 2006 blog entry was worded made it seem that Mr. Kinsella had been a party to illegal conduct when this was clearly not the case. I apology without reservation to Mr. Kinsella for that error on my part.

Warren Kinsella has also called off the dogs.

As much as everyone on the sidelines wanted to see this go to court, whether to test the libel laws as they concern blogging or see further Liberal internecine bloodletting, we all lost sight of the fact that these two men saw no advantage in taking it further, and great cost to themselves and their careers.

The great test case will come, but not now.

Mirabel Circus

Outrageous as Adscam was, it was but a drop in the bucket compared to what went on during the Trudeau era glory days of pandering to Quebec, when Keynesian theories about priming the pump reigned unchallenged and the money rolled out.

Mirabel Airport was the greatest symbol of those freewheeling, freespending days. Built 30 miles out of town just as the centre of Canadian air traffic shifted to Toronto and jets no longer needed to refuel in Montreal to cross the Atlantic, it never saw even a fraction of its predicted passenger traffic.

A billion dollar boondoggle and monument to the Trudeau era's visionary arrogance and fiscal irresponsibility, and yet Dorval, and not Mirabel, has been graced with his name.

Now it's about to become an amusement park. Quite fitting, since it's been an expensive joke right from the start.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bernardo Crawls Out

After the trial ends and the prison doors slam shut, some notorious criminals refuse to disappear quietly into well-deserved obscurity. They find a way to keep themselves in the news, whether through frivolous and vexatious appeals and lawsuits, writing articles and books protesting their innocence or bragging about their crimes, or through confessions of crimes they may or may not have committed.

Paul Bernardo's confessions to a series of rapes may be just another cruel hoax to keep himself in the spotlight:

Toronto police have decided not to lay new charges against Paul Bernardo, despite his confession to sexually assaulting at least 10 other women.

Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said investigators evaluated the evidence and decided not pursue charges at this time.

"On the basis of what we were given, there doesn't appear to be anything new, and certainly no plans at this stage for any additional charges," said Pugash.

"You never say never, but there doesn't appear to be anything new here."

Many police investigations that do not result in charges are never reported. Why report the outcome of this one? It does nothing to further the transparency of the justice system, and only feeds the ego of an evil narcissist. Don't give him the satisfaction.

If there's evidence enough to charge him, make it known. Otherwise, let Bernardo vanish as if he had never been.

Source: CTV

Down Stairs

Stephen Harper has fired communications director William Stairs and replaced him with Sandra Buckler.

About damn time too. Stairs bungled the Emerson defection story, helping turn what should have been an easy first week into a media frenzy.

Buckler handled herself well under fire all throughout the election.

The media will always be the enemy of this government, but surely it can get a few shots in against the talking heads.

Source: CTV

Courting Silence

They say that refusing to put them on public display is a mark of respect for the faith, but that claim insults the public's intelligence. We know that fear of reprisal and arrogance towards the public are their real motivations for not showing us what all the fuss is about:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a historic change yesterday in how judges are appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada, saying the nominee to be announced Thursday will have to submit to a three-hour televised grilling next week by an all-party parliamentary committee.


But some legal observers, including the former Supreme Court judge whose job is being filled, said public hearings could scare off potential candidates for the top court.

John Major, who retired from the court in December, said Monday's question-and-answer session will not reveal potential long-term problems with the process, because committee members will be “on very good behaviour” this time.

But there could be problems several years from now when there is another retirement from the court, he said. Potential Supreme Court judges might withdraw from the running, he said, because of “skeletons in their closet.”

It makes more sense to have Parliament question the Prime Minister about his choice for the nominee, Mr. Major said.

“I'm just skeptical that [public questioning] does anything other than undermine the nominee.”


Some members of the legal profession panned the idea of public hearings for other reasons.

“We really don't think it will do anything to improve public confidence in the judicial system and may in fact undermine it, and it may very well leave the impression that the judges are being controlled by the politicians,” said Susan McGrath, past president of the Canadian Bar Association.

“We have a very clear distinction between the judicial branch and the executive branch of government, [and] we have that for a reason. It has served our government very well — our society very well — and we think we should continue to maintain those separate entities.”

The legal profession is always so quick to call for more transparency in everything, except into the minds of its supposedly best and brightest.

Why should a nominee for the highest judicial office in the land fear to face a few questions about his judicial philosophy or his opinions about the state of the law in general? The nominee is not being called upon to answer for prior judicial decisions he may have made as a judge on a lower court, nor is he being asked to declare how he would decide on an actual case that will come before him.

Past Supreme Court justices have shown no fear in lecturing the public and politicians from the bench and public podium. Yet now they shrink from answering a few simple questions that will not compromise any court rulings.

The real fear is that for the first time, the judiciary might be called to account for using the Charter to create an unaccountable super-legislative body to re-engineer society. If they have to answer questions about their judicial philosophy, its logical and factual errors might be exposed. The judiciary might lose public confidence in its position as infallible interpreter of the sacred Charter.

Some Protestant polemicists still claim that the Church deliberately hid the Bible from the faithful to protect her power over them.

Now it appears that the judiciary have been hiding their thoughts to do the same.

Source: Globe and Mail

Monday, February 20, 2006

Deny The Deniers

If a man wants to engage in such crackpot pseudo-academic pursuits such as proving that Sir Francis Bacon was the true author of William Shakespeare's works, or that the earth is a flat disc round which the sun revolves, we should let him and his nonsense fall of its own weight.

We should not make the propagation of his ideas criminal offences, for to do so would be to give them a credence in the eyes of credulous observers that they do not deserve. How often have we heard the claim that if someone's upsetting the powers that be, they must be on the right track?

Jailing the likes of David Irving merely plays into the hands of the anti-Semitic nutters in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Holocaust denial would be far less attractive if its proponents were treated like the delusional eccentrics that Baconians, flat earth geocentrists, and other similar amateur kooks are. Ignore them, or if you must pay attention to them, laugh them off the stage.

Malignant as they are, they thrive on fear; they will perish under ridicule.

Alternate History

Political observers still tend to be reactive and backward looking when it comes to spotting political realignments. They don't see them because they expect things to carry on the way they've always carried on, then when they happen, they say that they'd always seen the changes coming.

The shift of the Liberal Party's base from Quebec to Ontario--Toronto, to be more precise--has been nearly 20 years in the making, but only now do the experts seem to realize that it's happened, because the Liberals are about to throw out the principle of alternance between anglophone and francophone leaders:

The Liberal party's tradition of alternating between French and English leaders is outdated and irrelevant, according to putative candidates for the party's crown.

Indeed, some contend the practice, known as alternance, was always a product more of accident than design. In any event, the historical pattern was broken - or at least confused - when outgoing leader Paul Martin succeeded Jean Chretien. "We just had two successive leaders of the Liberal party from Quebec," said Toronto MP John Godfrey, a former minister who's considering running for the top job.


Moreover, Maurizio Bevilacqua said alternance doesn't reflect the increasingly multicultural nature of Canadian society.

"I believe it's very important to respect traditions as well as realizing that a new Canada is emerging and that parties and institutions need to change with the times," said Bevilacqua, another Toronto MP, former minister and possible contender.

He said it's vital that the new Liberal leader be able to communicate in Canada's two official languages. But it shouldn't matter if the leader first learned to speak some other language.

As it happens, Italian is Bevilacqua's first language.

"Because a person is neither English or French, does that mean he or she should be excluded?" he asked.

Privately, some Liberals contend it's time for a non-Quebecer, after two consecutive leaders from that province.

We've seen the creation of a new Western political axis as a counterweight to the traditional Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal axis. Now we're seeing the Liberals formally write off Quebec, after seeing the shallowness of its talent pool there, and the depth of its pool in urban Ontario. If you consider Ignatieff, Stronach, Volpe, Dryden and Bevilacqua deep.

The Liberals imported a whole new base from the starving masses of the underdeveloped world, and the immigration policy that brought them here is paying dividends.

Just when the party had lost all credibility in Quebec, Quebec is no longer the main issue, and the big cities vs. everyone else is.

The Liberals will now survive the loss of its old raison d'etre--being the only party that could handle the Quebec question--by taking on a new one--being the only party that megacity urbanites will even listen to.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Lord Tanking

Remember when Bernard Lord was supposed to be the Conservative Party's saviour? Now he's in danger of becoming another has been who never was:

A bizarre case of alleged political blackmail has put the future of New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord and his Conservative government in jeopardy.

Over the weekend, Mr. Lord went from having a majority government to a minority following the decision by Michael “Tanker” Malley to abandon the Tory backbenches and sit as an Independent.

With Mr. Lord's 27-member Tory caucus outnumbered by 26 Liberals and two Independents, the government could be defeated as early as April 7 with a non-confidence vote on the budget.


The Pemier alleges that Mr. Malley gave him a list of five demands he would have to satisfy if he wanted him to continue sitting as a Conservative.

Mr. Lord said Mr. Malley's demands included more money for his constituency office, more help for the Miramichi's troubled paper mill and the appointment of a female friend as his special assistant.

But Mr. Lord said the demand that bothered him most was the alleged insistence that he immediately appoint Fredericton lawyer Cleveland Allaby, a good friend of Mr. Malley's, as provincial court judge in the Miramichi.

Bernard Lord always looked better from afar than he did up close to the voters of New Brunswick who have actually seen him in action. On paper, the perfect leadership candidate: young, telegenic, bilingual, experienced.

In reality, as much a ditherer as Paul Martin with little to show for nearly seven years in office.

Now one of his own former backbenchers is about to finish him off.

A shame for Lord, but further proof that potential and reality so rarely meet in politics.

Source: Globe and Mail

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Slimy Letter To Imam Slimi

The United Church of Canada's leadership rarely fails to betray the faith in its quest to accomodate itself to elite secular opinion, in a manner reminiscent of the official Patriotic Churches in China and their subservience to the Communist regime.

Its wholehearted embrace of same-sex marriage is but one example.

This grovelling letter of apology for the Muhammad cartoons is but another:

Dear Imam Patel and Imam Slimi;

Greetings in the name of Jesus, whom both Christians and Muslims honour.

On behalf of The United Church of Canada we wish to express to you and through the Council of Imams, to the Islamic communities of Canada, our deepest regret that the name of Muhammad has been so tragically misused in the depictions of cartoons first published in Europe, but now also in Canada.

We believe that the intention of publishing the cartoons has little to do with freedom of expression and much to do with incitement to racial and religious hatred. As you have noted in your recent press release, the cartoons suggest that Islam itself teaches, condones and encourages violence, bombings and the mistreatment of women. Furthermore, the implication is that all Muslims believe so as well. This we know to be untrue. The answer to your question of "why publish such cartoons?" we believe is simply racial hatred. In other forms it has been called Islamophobia.

These attitudes should have no place in Canada. Because we all share responsibility for the society in which we live, we wish to offer our sincere apologies that such attitudes can persevere in a country that we believe can and should be a model for the world of racial and ethnic respect.

May God's peace be with you.

Hat tip to Colby Cosh for calling attention to this letter.

But note the language used in the letter. One perfunctory mention of the name of Jesus, "whom Christians and Muslims both honour" (forget that there's a world of difference between the Christian belief in Jesus as the Son of God and the Islamic idea that Isa was just another prophet of Allah whose death was faked) followed by a load of liberal platitudes.

They can't even frame a religious discussion in religious terms. The sins decried are not against God or Christian charity, but against the liberal tenets of racial identity and multiculturalism.

Stuff like this make me thank God that my father left the United Church to marry my mother, and sad for those good folks who find themselves trapped by their leadership in a hostile church not of their making, trying to follow the Protestant faith as best they can.

If I had grown up in today's United Church, knowing my own mentality, I would have ended up an Exclusive Brethren or a militant atheist.

Animal Terror

The Animal Liberation Front may not be flying jetliners into skyscrapers or making nuclear weapons, but they are no less fanaticaland hostile to free civilized society than Islamist jihadis:

Animal rights extremists have threatened attacks on nearly 100 companies which donated money to Oxford University. The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) gave them a deadline of a week before attacks start on the homes of directors and employees, unless they promise never to give money to the university again.

They made the threat because a medical research laboratory at the university which will do animal-testing is being built. Work resumed on it in December, after a 16-month postponement due to intimidation and threats of violence.

University insiders spoke of a "climate of fear" on campus, students have been warned to step up security, and research scientists said they were bracing themselves for "very nasty activity by the ALF".

The group threatened to "trash" the offices of companies which refused to pull out and to attack the homes of directors, trustees and employees. Home addresses would be posted to other activists on the internet. "Any company who has not made an announcement can now expect full attention from the Animal Liberation Front," it said. "It's not going to be pretty."

ALF's supposed concern for animal welfare has less to do with animals than its hatred for humanity. My Dog or Your Child? By Dr. Steven Best, one of the movement's leading thinkers, is a blunt expression thereof:

Once we make something like personhood the relevant factor to decide questions of ethics and moral worth and abandon speciesist appeals to Homo sapiens, the whole game changes because the rules are now radically different. For when we shift the center of gravity from humans to persons, there will be many cases where nonhumans (such as cats, dogs, dolphins, and chimpanzees) are persons and, conversely, humans (such as infants, the severely brain-impaired, the comatose, and those suffering advanced stages of Alzheimer’s) are non-persons.


I would rather that elephants again freely roam the African savannas, that chimpanzees fill the rainforests with playful hoots, that rainforests once again swell majestically, that the rivers and oceans become cleansed and teem with dolphins, whales, and fish. I would rather the regeneration of the earth transpire than have humans continue to devour and destroy the planet with their SUVs, superhighways, urban sprawl, cookie-cutter suburbs, bloated families, fast food addictions, Supersize Me appetites, arrogance and alienation, and grotesque fat asses.

Dr. Best and his fellow-travellers would gladly consign millions of people to death who might otherwise have been saved by humane animal medical experimentation, or who might have few means of sustenance except hunting game.

Like their Islamist counterparts, ALF intends to build the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, a sinless paradise purged of evil, on the corpses of its victims. The infidel or the "non-person" must die.

And they both have significant support in our academic and cultural elites, or at least, they are able to cow them into silent submission.

Animal rights terrorists and Islamic jihadis are two sides of the same coin. And they'll kill you both just as dead.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Switzerland 2, Canada 0

Commence painful agonizing about the current woeful state of our national game, complete with doomsday predictions of its immament demise beneath the European juggernaut.

Blame everyone involved in Canadian hockey from Don Cherry and Wayne Gretzky down to the most obscure novice league coaches and hockey parents.

Repeat ad nauseam until we win the next game, at which time disregard all previous expressions of angst and loudly proclaim the unquestionable superiority of Canadian hockey at all levels and aspects.

It's the Canadian way.

Source: CBC

Shot Happens

If I got a face full of buckshot from my friend, even if it were completely accidental, I'm not so sure I'd be apologizing to him for the grief he'd be getting. Either Harry Whittington is the most magnanimous of men, or Dick Cheney really has the power to warp men's minds for evil purposes the moonbats think he does:

"This past weekend encompassed all of us in a cloud of misfortune and a sadness that is not easy to explain, especially to those who are not familiar with the great sport of quail hunting," said Austin attorney Harry Whittington, who was discharged from the hospital Friday. "We all assume certain risks in whatever we do ... accidents do and will happen and that's what happened."

He added: "My family and I are deeply sorry for all Vice President Cheney and his family had to deal with this week. ...We hope he will continue to come to Texas and seek the relaxation he deserves."

Would that we were all as forgiving as Mr. Whittington. The media expects the man to join their chorus calling for Cheney's head, and he doesn't oblige. Even though it was he, and not the press, who got the business end of the rifle.

That's loyalty!

Source: FOX News

Harper Abroad

Stephen Harper could go to the White House for his first foreign head of government visit as prime minister. It's a pretty safe bet for most prime ministers.
But not for him.

If he does, the media will take the position that he's gone to Washington to get his marching orders from George Bush. Or to sign a secret deal to sell the country at fire sale prices. Or to take hunting safety lessons from Dick Cheney.

So why doesn't he go to Afghanistan to show support for our peacekeepers?

That's just what he might be doing.

The media is already to complain that he's wasting taxpayer dollars on a macho photo-op and putting himself needlessly in harm's way in a war zone. Or that he's going to get up in camo and announce a big ramp-up in military spending to send troops to Iraq or Iran or God knows where.

So why doesn't he go to Washington first to talk about softwood lumber?

Source: Yahoo

Friday, February 17, 2006

Thank You For Surrendering

Our future Muslim overlords are thanking us in advance for acting like proper dhimmis and saving them the trouble of having to riot in the streets of Toronto:

A coalition of Muslim groups is congratulating Canadians for their non-violent response to cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

The group says the Canadian response was unique in that it struck a balance between freedom of expression and protecting people from hate and racism. Group spokeswoman Tyseer Aboulnasr also praised Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay for emphasizing responsible expression while condemning the violent reaction to the cartoons in other countries.

This is one compliment to our national character that should grate on us, if we had conscience enough to feel shame.

Source: Yahoo

Pop Gun

When governments are unable or unwilling to solve difficult problems, they take symbolic measures instead that give the appearance of doing something:

Toronto area mayors are being asked to endorse a ban on kids possessing toy guns in public.

Scugog Mayor Marilyn Pearce is leading the plan to prohibit anyone under 18 from having toy guns in public spaces. Her community was the first in Ontario to enact the ban in Jan. 2006.

Mayors and regional chairs from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Hamilton will meet in Keswick, Ont., Friday to discuss the ban.

"I am hoping all of the municipalities in the GTA will come on board on this initiative to get toy guns off the streets," Pearce said.

"It is really about protecting children and I don't know how anyone can have an issue with that.

Pearce is concerned that toy guns that look like the real thing might put children at risk of a police officer shooting first and asking questions later.

Is there any evidence that police have turned, or will turn, trigger-happy at the sight of a young boy with a toy gun?

Is there any evidence that playing with toy guns leads to gun crime?

Don't parents teach their children any more about the difference between toy guns and real guns? They did about hunting rifles and BB guns when I was a boy. But then, I grew up in the country, where people do not have the urban sophisticate's primitive fear of firearms as talismans capable of turning peaceful citizens into savage killers just by looking at them.

This isn't about protecting children but about protecting rear ends. Not one life will be saved, but the politicians can assure themselves that they've done something.

Source: CTV

Wait No Longer

Read this Globe and Mail article about Quebec's plans to guarantee wait times for surgery by paying for treatment in private clinics and note the general lack of hysteria about two-tier health care or dire warnings about the boogeyman of "American" health care.

The proposals are the government's formal response to a Supreme Court of Canada ruling in June that Quebeckers should be allowed to buy private medical insurance if basic medical care is not provided in a timely fashion. The province was given one year to speed up care or lift the ban on private insurance, a move that would have led to parallel systems of private and government-funded health care.

"We chose to maintain the principles of the public health-care system within which the private sector can play a role," Mr. Charest said, adding that Quebec could serve as a model for the rest of the country. "Other Canadians may choose to go down that route."

Under the proposals, the government promises to provide cataract, hip and knee surgery within six months of the day a specialist recommends the operation. If government-funded hospitals cannot perform the procedure within that time, the government will pay to have it done at certified private clinics affiliated with a hospital.

If the operation cannot be done anywhere in Quebec within nine months, the government will pay to send the patient outside the province, including to the United States.

Could you have imagined such an article being published even two years ago in Canada's national newspaper without endless editorial breast-beating and scaremongering?

Look how quickly one of the central doctrines of the Canadian civic religion has been discarded by its scribes and exegetes, without a pang of regret.

Too many people have seen family and friends suffer and die needlessly waiting for surgery to keep the faith any longer.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Insides Out

Being an organ donor is a responsible choice to make, but if the Ontario government has its way, it won't be your choice:

New Democrat Peter Kormos plans to introduce a private member's bill Thursday. If it is passed by the legislature the law would establish so-called presumed consent rules, making donations automatic unless a patient has already declined permission.

Kormos said the idea is to close the gulf between the relatively tiny number of organs that become available in Ontario each year and the 4,000 people across Canada who are waiting for a life-saving transplant.

We wouldn't think of throwing out an appliance that we were upgrading in our house … We would take either to Good Will or The Salvation Army," Kormos said Thursday. "Why are we burying or burning good organs every day?"

Kormos noted that thousands of people died every year while on waiting lists for organ transplants.

The bill is being reintroduced after it died on the order paper last year. If passed, it would effectively reverse the current system that requires donors to sign an organ donor card and have it with them in order to allow doctors to harvest their organs.

This really tears at me. I don't want to see people dying and suffering needlessly waiting for an organ transplant that never comes. I also don't like the idea of the state deciding it has first call on your dead body.

It seems to be all of a piece with the push for legalized euthanasia, which has already become effectively mandatory in the Netherlands in many cases, especially as a means to save the health care system money.

Will the state take the same approach with people who decline to have their organs harvested, refusing certain treatments in reprisal? The temptation will surely also arise to let some people die just to harvest the organs.

For that matter, why stop at mandatory organ harvesting? There are many other uses for other materials from dead bodies. Surely it is no less selfish to bury or cremate useful bone and fat.

As the notion of the sanctity of the human body diminishes further in our culture, expect the arguments to be made in favour of full out corpse recycling instead of wasting them in cemeteries.

Source: CTV

Lower Anchor

Miss Management herself, the woman who couldn't figure out where $1 billion in HRDC job creation grants went, will now bring her unique management style to Bill Graham's office as chief of staff:

"Jane Stewart will be a fantastic anchor for the Liberal team" in the Opposition Leader's Office, Graham said in a written statement.

"Jane's political experience will be an outstanding asset to the Liberal team as we hold Stephen Harper and the Conservative government to account in this minority Parliament."

Stewart was fortunate that her billion-dollar fiasco took place under Jean Chretien's watch, and not Paul Martin's. Chretien could make the public forget they were being fleeced with his usual insouciant shrug of the shoulders and a flip remark. Paul Martin couldn't. Otherwise, she would have ended up a pariah like Alfonso Gagliano.

An anchor indeed.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Liberal Party Like It's 1979

No leader. No money. No plan. No problem:

Opposition Leader Bill Graham said he will not be afraid to defeat Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority Conservative government, even though the Liberal Party will spend much of the year in a leadership race.

Mr. Harper must either accommodate Liberal positions on key issues such as child care and income-tax cuts or turn to the New Democratic Party and Bloc Québécois for support in the House of Commons, Mr. Graham said in an interview with The Globe and Mail.

He placed the onus for avoiding a quick election on the New Democrats and the Bloc, saying they triggered the last election out of political opportunism.

"We're not in the business of propping up the government," he said. "We're the Official Opposition. And that is our role, and we will stick to our points where they are important to the future of the country.

Would you expect any official opposition leader to say otherwise? Of course Bill Graham has to make noises about defeating the government at the first turn. It's all part of the game. But even he is not so foolish as to believe his own rhetoric.

But if the Liberals did force an election, imagine the difficulties of fighting without one single definite leader. Campaigns have become so focussed around individual leaders that it's inconceivable to base a campaign around something else. Better the devil we don't know?

Source: Globe and Mail

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Sour Taste To Pale Ale

The Scotsman who screeches at Alexander Keith's drinkers about the dangers of being a spilly talker may soon be behind bars instead of in front of them:

The plug has been pulled on a beer advertising campaign featuring an over-the-top Scotsman after police laid child pornography charges on a Toronto commercial actor.

Robert Norman Smith, 40, is charged with two counts of possession of child pornography and one count of making available child pornography.

It is believed that Smith is the actor best known as the angry Scotsman in the Alexander Keith's beer commercials.


Still, this will not turn me off drinking the finest beer ever brewed. It just goes to show that you really don't know who anyone is behind closed doors.

Source: Toronto Star

Long Gun Long Gone

Some better news to soothe nerves frayed by the story that never ends:

The Conservative government has created a committee of two cabinet ministers and a backbencher to figure out how best to kill the long-gun registry as soon as possible.

Registry critic Garry Breitkreuz, who is working with Justice Minister Vic Toews and Public Security Minister Stockwell Day, said he has been given wide leeway to deal swiftly with the registry.

"I wouldn't be fighting for what I'm fighting for if I didn't think that would be the case," the Saskatchewan MP said in an interview.


When the Liberals added the registry to the federal gun control program in 1995, they said it would cost taxpayers no more than $2 million. But the most recent estimates put the figure in the hundreds of millions of dollars, bringing the total cost of the gun program to more than $1 billion.

An interesting bit of trivia: Stephen Harper was the only Reform MP who voted in favour of the long gun registry. Now he has the opportunity to make amends for the one vote from his Reform days he'd gladly take back. Such chances are rare in Parliament indeed.

Source: Toronto Star

Indian Burn

Never mind that the OPP might have bungled breaking up the Indians' protest at Ipperwash.

Never mind that Dudley George might have died because of his own stupidity instead of a policeman's panic or malice.

Never mind that Mike Harris might have exceeded his authority in directing the OPP's actions.

The real story is whether he called the protesters a bunch of fucking Indians:

Former Ontario Premier Mike Harris denied unequivocally on Tuesday that he used a profane slur against natives during an emergency meeting on the day of a deadly standoff 10 years ago at Ipperwash Provincial Park.

In November, former Ontario attorney general Charles Harnick told the Ipperwash inquiry that he heard Harris say, "I want the fucking Indians out of the park" during a meeting with senior government officials at the height of the standoff.

"I absolutely did not say that, or words to those effect, or use that adjective at any time during this meeting," Harris told the inquiry on Tuesday.

"The adjective is not foreign to me, but not the kind of language I would use at any kind of a meeting like the meeting we were at."

Several others who attended the 1995 meeting, such as former deputy solicitor general Ellen Todres and former solicitor general Bob Runciman also deny Harris made the statement.

Why all this fuss over a statement that was merely profane, not derogatory, and was a simple expression of frustration over a protest on provincial parkland that had been dragging on for far too long?

Surely the real story is whether he exceeded his authority by directly ordering the police to remove the squatters, instead of going through proper channels.

Leave it to the media to focus on the sensational instead of the substantial.

Source: CTV

Mr. Wilson Goes To Washington

Former finance minister and Bay Street investment banker Michael Wilson will become Canada's next ambassador to the United States.

This appointment will be a great improvement over the previous one on several levels. Wilson has no further political ambitions and will not cause embarrassment by insulting the U.S. to score personal political points.

Expect Canada-U.S. relations to begin improving under Wilson's watch.

Globe and Mail

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Living Dangerously

If a blogger posts a cartoon of Warren Kinsella dressed as Muhammad, who will come to his door first: a process server or a suicide bomber?

Harper Effendi Offends

Nice soldiers you have over there in Afghanistan. Be a shame if anything were to happen to them. Accidentally, you know. People get hurt:

"I think the fact that people choose to reprint the cartoons could put our troops in danger," said council spokesperson Riad Saloojee.

"That's, I think, one of the reasons why major [Canadian] media outlets have been responsible and chosen not to do that."

And look who comes playing spineless, apologetic dhimmi: Stephen Harper!

"I regret the publication of this material in several media outlets. While we understand this issue is divisive, our government wishes that people be respectful of the beliefs of others. I commend the Canadian Muslim community for voicing its opinion peacefully, respectfully and democratically."

Thank you for not rioting, eh?

Harper could have manned up and made a spirited defence of the freedom of speech and thought that we have fought so hard to win and keep, and win for others, against tyrants of all stripes.

It would have been just the sort of statement Canadians could have rallied behind, and it would have been politically smart too. Stephen Harper, unafraid and uncompromising defender of Charter rights in the face of our most dangerous enemy!

And he missed the opportunity, instead falling in line with the politically correct expressions of appeasement other Western leaders and media outlets have made, for fear of being shot or blown up.

He'll never win the respect of the chattering classes by joining them in their cowardice. And he'll lose the respect of Canadians who do realize the threat that Islamism represents, and who have been looking for some sign that our federal government does too.

Source: CBC

Kinsella v. Bourrie: Round One

The quickest way to become the talk of the blogosphere is to get sued for libel. While it may make for sleepless nights and heavy legal bills, it does wonders for your blog traffic,as Warren Kinsella's lawsuit against Mark Bourrie's Ottawa Watch will do.

DISCLAIMER: The opinion expressed below is solely my own and is not intended to be given or acted upon as legal advice. I will not accept any liability if anyone here is so reckless as to act upon it to their detriment.

If Mark Bourrie and Ottawa Watch were located in the United States, as were Warren Kinsella, Kinsella would have to demonstrate that as a public official (which, as a senior staffer in Jean Chretien's office at the time when events in the allegedly libellous statements are alleged to have taken place, he arguably was), he would have to demonstrate actual malice on Bourrie's part.

That is to say, he'd have to prove that Bourrie knew that they were false or published them with reckless disregard about their falsity. (See New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254.)

However, since Kinsella was in private life at the time the statements were published, the burden of proof would be somewhat lighter on Kinsella.

Up here in Canada, however, Kinsella may have a less challenging burden of proof and test to meet, as the Supreme Court of Canada specifically rejected the strict "actual malice" test in Hill v. Church of Scientology of Toronto [1995] 2 S.C.R. 1130 , on the basis that the Charter cannot rewrite the common law outside of any government action.

Significant difference: the Charter applies effectively to government action alone, while the U.S. Bill of Rights takes a much broader approach, protecting such rights as between private citizens instead of just against the government.

Kinsella will merely have to establish that the statements were published, and they will be presumed false unless Bourrie can prove that the statements were true, or were fair comment. That is, that a reasonable person could have held the view in those statements, regardless of Bourrie's motivations for publishing them.

Hat tip to Wikipedia , though again, don't take what Wikipedia says as gospel, and certainly not what I say as gospel either.

Bloggers are certainly not above the laws of libel and defamation, and we must all be careful to avoid crossing them. But neither should we succumb to libel chill and find ourselves trembling at every keystroke for fear of a lawsuit.

Wildcat Syd

Ontario CUPE chief Syd Ryan can't get himself elected in good old union town Oshawa any more, but he can still raise hell with an old-fashioned wildcat strike:

Syd Ryan, Ontario president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, pledged to take more than 100,000 municipal, school and city workers on a wildcat strike as early as midnight Thursday to protest the Liberals' proposal to transfer responsibility for the $40-billion pension plan to municipalities.

"Unfortunately, when unjust legislation is introduced, sometimes there are consequences, and in this particular instance, I believe this is a political protest worth taking on," he said yesterday at Queen's Park. "That's an unjust law and I believe it needs to be fought."

Mr. Ryan said the strike -- which would be triggered on the day the government begins to debate the bill -- would close schools and day-care centres, halt garbage collection, snow removal and municipal functions such as issuing marriage and birth certificates. Maintenance workers at municipal parks, community centres and hockey rinks would also walk off the job.

The Liberal government's idea to turn responsibility for the plan over to the municipalities is being attacked by the union and employers -- the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. Neither organization objects to transferring control to municipalities, but both oppose provisions that give firefighters, police and, potentially, paramedics enhanced pensions.

The municipalities estimate the cost of enhanced pensions at $380 million, which would requiring a three-per-cent increase in property taxes.

Way to go, Syd. The first time your union has ever seriously fought a tax increase and might have won some public sympathy with a wildcat strike and you have to ruin it by attacking the only public employees people don't think are overpaid.

You and Buzz both take the prize for pointless public grandstanding.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Rae Days And Mondays

Bob Rae drops the hint that he might just run for the Liberal leadership:

Bob Rae deftly sidestepped a question on his interest in the Liberal Party leadership yesterday by saying his current government commitment forbids him to talk about partisan matters -- but left open the possibility of his interest.

After speaking to a Toronto business and academic audience about Iraq's nascent democracy and his vision of Canadian foreign-policy objectives, the former Ontario NDP premier was asked about persistent reports that he might be a leadership candidate.

He said his order-in-council appointment, to advise the previous Liberal government on what to do about the Air-India bombing after last year's failed prosecution, did not permit him to discuss partisan politics. Asked whether he was ruling out his candidacy, Mr. Rae replied, "That's all I can say."

He said he was waiting to hear whether the Conservative government would renew the appointment. An order-in-council is an administrative order by the cabinet, formally issued by the Governor-General as the Queen's representative. Mr. Rae said there was no set deadline for a completion of his work.

More than a decade has passed since the voters of Ontario ejected Bob Rae from office; memories of Rae days, long welfare lines and spending like drunken sailors will have faded, and he has reinvented himself as the very model of the fisc-con, soc-lib Liberal ideal.

Moreover, he seems to understand better than most Liberals the nature of the current clash between civilizations being waged in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. His famous farewell to the NDP over Israel shows just how far he has diverged from the current mainstream of his former party.

As the rest of the A-team leaves the field, it's opening for Bob Rae.

Source: Globe and Mail

Monday, February 13, 2006

Party Lines Crossed

Jack Layton couldn't run fast enough from Buzz Hargrove during the election campaign. Now he can't run fast enough to him:

NDP Leader Jack Layton said he doesn't agree with a decision by the party's Ontario wing to revoke union leader Buzz Hargrove's membership.

The party said Hargrove, president of the Canadian Auto Workers union, violated its constitution by endorsing certain Liberal candidates in last month's federal election.

"Well, it wouldn't have been a course of action I would have pursued because I tend to be looking forward in terms of building the party and the voice in Canada," Layton told reporters Monday.

"So it wouldn't have been my preferred course of action. My focus is always on the positive," he said.

I didn't think that endorsing the Liberals did anything to build the NDP, but then Jack Layton must be a far more superior political strategist than I. Months of propping up the Liberals for a few extra billion dollars for social programs helped the NDP surge from 19 to 29 seats, while bringing them no closer to breaking off the Liberals' left wing.

Buzz Hargrove has done more damage to the NDP than Layton could ever hope to cause, and gotten even less for it in return. Jack Layton should be jumping for joy that the Ontario NDP got rid of one of his biggest problems for him instead of forcing him to take Buzz out.

Meanwhile, David Emerson has hinted that he might favour a ban on crossing the floor for thee, but not for me:

"I'm not opposed to a byelection,'' he said Monday during an appearance on Vancouver radio station CKNW's Bill Good open-line show. "All I'm saying is let's have a set of rules that applies to everyone.

"If Parliament wants to pass legislation and to set in place a policy on byelections when you cross the floor or recall legislation, fine.

"I'll participate in that debate and I may even vote for it, and I will certainly abide by it.''

On Monday, New Democrat MP Peter Stoffer said he would reintroduce a private member's bill requiring a byelection for party switchers.

How noble. He can show his support for the very principle he's broken without having to actually do anything to uphold it. Or technically hasn't broken, since it hasn't been established, and it won't be made retroactive.

Better for Emerson to keep his head down and working on the softwood lumber file. He'll need to deliver a near-perfect deal if he has any hope of silencing his critics for crossing the floor.

If he doesn't, the last remaining justification for his defection will be voided, and everyone will be screaming for his head because he failed to deliver. And Stephen Harper will gladly give it to them, on a platter, to save his own.

Deja Vu All Over Again

I swear that I've already read and posted this article before:

British researchers are embarking on what they're calling the world's first study of chronic deja vu, a condition where people can recite details of situations or people they've never before encountered.

One retired electrical engineer who complained to his family doctor that he had an awful sensation of deja vu was told to go to a memory clinic.

"He said, 'Well there's no point. I've already been before', " says Dr. Chris Moulin, a psychologist and memory researcher at the University of Leeds.

Except he hadn't.

Another woman stopped playing tennis in the firm, but mistaken, belief she was playing the same rallies over and over again.

Another man insisted he'd already been to his friend's funeral.

The phenomenon, which may affect one in 200 people with memory problems, is unlike the fleeting, eerie feeling people get from time to time that they've experienced something before, and that they know what's going to happen next.

Instead, chronic deja vu sufferers are constantly overcome by the sensation something new has happened before. Depression is common, and some sufferers are initially misdiagnosed with epilepsy or labelled "delusional" and put on anti-psychotic drugs.

Why should I have to keep repeating myself to my readers?

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Standard Bearer

Western Standard rushes in where major Canadian media outlets fear to tread:

The Western Standard, a political magazine based in Calgary, will today reprint eight of the 12 Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed that have caused riots and controversy around the world, and one Canadian Muslim leader warns that hate-crime charges may follow.

Western Standard publisher Ezra Levant, a former Reform and Canadian Alliance activist, calls the cartoons "innocuous" and accused Canada's "mainstream media," including The Globe and Mail, of failing to stand up for free speech for refusing to print the images.

"I was prepared to see the most outrageous, depraved, blasphemous cartoons," Mr. Levant said in an interview yesterday. "I was surprised by how tame they were."

But the leader of the Canadian Islamic Congress, Mohamed Elmasry, warned yesterday that his organization will seek to have charges laid against the magazine under Canada's laws against distributing hate literature.

"It's unfortunate," said Mr. Elmasry, who had urged Mr. Levant not to republish the images. "I think he really goes against the will and the values of Canadians by this provocative action."

If the Western Standard's offices have not been torched after today, expect major Canadian media outlets to find their courage to reprint the Mohammed cartoons.

Only fear of violent reprisal has been holding them back, not respect for religious beliefs or any other excuse.

Even the threat of hate crime charges doesn't hold back the Canadian MSM. They know, after all, that those laws are only meant to be enforced against Christians and social conservatives, not secularists and social liberals.

Source: Globe and Mail

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Buzz Cut Loose

Buzz Hargrove has learned the fate of many an opportunist who has staked his fortune on a sure bet only to lose his shirt:

The Ontario NDP provincial executive voted yesterday to pull the membership of Hargrove, president of the Canadian Auto Workers, for violating the party's constitution regarding provisions against endorsing other candidates. It also automatically revokes his membership in the federal party.

"I was shocked and surprised," said Hargrove, who has held an NDP membership card for 41 years. "I never had any warning that this was coming or being debated. I never had a chance to speak."


Over the years, Hargrove has sat on the NDP's federal council and been among the top 5 per cent in annual financial contributors to the party.

The NDP executive said he could regain his membership if he writes a letter indicating he would not endorse candidates for other parties again.

"Not a chance," Hargrove said in an interview. "That won't happen."

Hargrove's expulsion should also be an object lesson for others in the NDP ranks whose fear and loathing of the Tories has driven them to back the Grits.

If the Liberals win, they throw them away as soon as they've won. If the Liberals lose, they're not welcome in either camp.

The NDP has finally figured out that it gets nothing in the long term for propping up the Liberals.

Enjoy that Senate appointment, Buzz.

Source: Toronto Star

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Emerson In, Turner Out?

The self-martyrdom of Garth Turner, the one honest man in all Ottawa, may obtain its final consummation:

Halton MP Garth Turner said party officials have made him feel unwelcome in the caucus and party, and have caused him to reconsider sitting in the Commons under the Tory banner.

"Right now, I do not feel I'm allowed to do what I want and say what I think," Turner said, adding he'll decide whether to stay in the caucus after talking to party officials this weekend.

"It's a fairly intensive time at the moment."

Turner, former business editor at the Toronto Sun and a cabinet minister during Kim Campbell's brief administration, said he would continue to sit as an MP and represent Halton if he does decide to bolt the Tory caucus.

The more I think about it, the better this looks in the long term. The Conservatives gain one of the most accomplished and capable members of Parliament in exchange for losing a shameless self-promoter with a wounded sense of amour-propre .

I never thought I'd say this, but Garth Turner's antics are making me reconsider some of my earlier criticisms of the Emerson defection. Especially since it appears that Turner's complaints about Stephen Harper's supposed hypocrisy may be tempered by a little hypocrisy of his own.

Nowhere has he suggested that if he leaves the Tory caucus, will he consider resigning and running in a by-election. The voters of Halton did elect him to sit as a Conservative, after all, not as an independent.

As poorly as Turner may have been handled, there may have been no good way to handle him. Better, perhaps, to have him leave early for the obscurity of the backbenches than to have him remain a constant source of trouble for the party.

Source: Calgary Sun

Liberal Leadership Quagmire

This Globe and Mail backgrounder provides some much-needed perspective on this rough week following the outrage against the David Emerson cabinet appointment. The Tories might have gotten a little bad press, but the Grits are floundering in a far deeper quagmire:

Oddly enough, the trouble commenced when Paul Martin honourably announced on election night that he intended to resign as Liberal leader. Under the party's constitution, the 60-member party executive must call a leadership convention within 12 months of the leader's resig-nation. Party loyalists hoped to persuade the former prime minister to delay his formal resignation for one or two months so they could have freewheeling policy debates in the autumn followed by a leadership convention in late winter. In a telephone conversation with party executives on Jan. 26, Mr. Martin declared that heintended to resign “soon,” and that he would consult them about the appointment of an interim leader. Party members breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Then the unexpected happened. After conversations with close supporters, including at least one Liberal senator, Mr. Martin changed his mind. The Liberal leader emerged from a caucus meeting on Feb. 1 with the news that former cabinet minister Bill Graham would replace him as parliamentary leader but that he would remain as party leader until his replacement was selected.


What happens if the government is defeated before Mr. Martin is replaced? Some want an early leadership convention; forget the policy debates. Others, especially members of the youth wing, want to delay the convention until March of 2007 so there will be time to scrutinize the many largely unknown contenders. Key party executives are apparently leaning toward late January, before the parliamentary session would resume.

In the meantime, party organizers can only hold their breath, because they do not want Mr. Martin to lead them into another election.


To handle that daunting possibility, insiders say key party executives have flatly told Mr. Martin that they will not permit him to lead the party into any snap election if he insists on appointing his long-time clique of advisers to key campaign roles where he would rely on their advice. Mr. Martin has absolutely refused to abandon those advisers. In response, to block an emergency comeback by Mr. Martin with the same tired crew of counsellors, executives are examining ways to select delegates well before the convention.

Paul Martin may be hoping to repeat the 1980 comeback of Pierre Trudeau following his initial 1979 resignation, but Parliaments and election campaigns are like snowflakes: no two alike.

The impending 1980 Quebec sovereignty referendum gave the Liberals a credible reason to bring back Pierre Trudeau and force a snap election. Trudeau had the standing and the ability to lead the federalist forces in a way that Joe Clark certainly could not, and that other Quebec federalist leaders, such as Claude Ryan, would have been hard-pressed to.

It also helped to have as feckless a leader as Joe Clark trying to govern as he had a majority, and unable to count votes during a budget.

There is no great looming national crisis that even the Liberal Party thinks only Paul Martin can handle, let alone the country. The Liberals will have no more coherent a policy platform than they did last time, and after several months of even marginally competent Conservative government, a fear campaign will be practically ineffective.

The Liberals will have nothing to run on except hopes of buyer's remorse, with a leader who has lost all credibility among his own and who appears merely to be trying to make one desperate lunge at regaining power.

Bearing in mind that no two election campaigns are alike, it is just as likely that such an election would produce a replay not of 1980, but of 1958.

Borderline Insanity

You can be sure that when the first reports came out about unarmed Canadian border guards fleeing their posts to avoid armed men crossing the border, that others would make the attempt:

Canadian border guards abandoned the Peace Arch crossing in British Columbia after hearing an armed and dangerous American was trying to enter Canada.

The unarmed guards have a clause in their contract that allows them to leave their job if they think they're in danger.

They invoked the clause Friday night for the second time in a month.

The report of a fugitive turned out to be false.

The managers of Canada Border Services Agency say they will man the booths and reopen the border.

A false alarm this time. But it's certainly becoming common knowledge that you just have to spread rumours of armed men coming across the border to create havoc.

Think of who benefits from this information.

The faster we arm the border guards, the better.

Source: CTV