Monday, April 30, 2007

Return Of The Dauphin

Sound the trumpets for the coronation of the next leader of the Liberal Party:

He insists he wants to be known now for his first name — but Justin Trudeau rode on one of the most famous family names in Canadian politics to clinch the first victory of his new career Sunday.

Mr. Trudeau, 35, the first son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, survived his first political test by winning the Liberal nomination in a hard-fought battle in Montreal's Papineau riding.

To supporters, the victory will bring some of the old Trudeau dazzle back to the Liberal Party. To detractors, it could hobble Liberal efforts to rebuild their shattered fortunes in Quebec.

For Mr. Trudeau, standing before supporters who had been chanting “Tru-deau, Tru-deau,” it was a moment to step away from his father's memory even while he drew attention to it.

Before everyone starts getting nostalgic for the golden age of Pierre Trudeau, remember that it has been nearly 40 years since the first incarnation of Trudeaumania.

The Canada that was inspired to fall for the father is not the Canada that is expected to fall for the son. Justin Trudeau will be running a defensive campaign on his father's legacy, one that has effectively driven out Quebec, saddled us with eternal debt and fractured us into warring ethnic and regional fiefdoms.

In that sense, his will be a backward-looking campaign.

The Conservatives just have to keep promoting the notion of going forward whenever Justin Trudeau pops up to laud his father's past achievements and the country's past greatness under him.

No politician ever inspired a people through the rear view mirror.

Source: Globe and Mail

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Trop Clair

Andre Boisclair's political career is dead. The Parti Quebecois may be dying. But Quebec separatism will never die:

Embattled Parti Quebecois Leader Andre Boisclair on Friday rebuffed criticism by a departing executive member by saying someone with “real courage,” would have stayed to help the party through its current turmoil.

Boisclair said slamming the door in a huff is the old PQ way of behaving, but that has to end because the public is fed up with the drama.

“The real courage is not to leave and shut the door,” Boisclair said in reference to the resignation of the PQ’s Quebec City region’s PQ president, Philippe-Edwin Belanger. “The real courage is to engage in a debate.”

Belanger quit Thursday, accusing Boisclair of being afraid to face the party rank-and-file in a confidence vote this year or in early 2008 following the PQ’s disastrous March 26 election performance.


He was asked about a Le Soleil newspaper report that a group of sovereignty hard-liners —_including Patrick Bourgeois, editor of the sovereigntist newspaper Le Quebecois, and movie-maker Pierre Falardeau — were planning a May 4 meeting to discuss the creation of a new hard-line separatist party.

They accused Boisclair of being soft on separatism and planning to transform the PQ into a new kind of nationalist organization that will back attempts by the other parties to leverage more power out of Ottawa.

The Parti Quebecois vision of an independent quasi-socialist state linked in some nebuluous economic union with Canada has probably passed its sell-by date. Economic dirigisme is losing favour in Quebec and the economic union was always a non-starter, and if anything, reflected a certain timidity within the separatist movement.

But centuries of history and resentment cannot be set aside as blithely as economic policies. As long as there are Quebecois, there will be Quebecois nationalism.

The PQ compromised repeatedly on the principle of Quebec independence by hedging it with qualifiers about "sovereignty-association" and "winning conditions" instead of charging ahead for independence, full stop. And having compromised the principle, it has compromised its own survival.

The prospects for an uncompromising separatist party might never be better than with the failure of the PQ. At least it would recapture the vigour that the movement needs.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Curse The Darkness

With carbon credits traded as modern day indulgences for the remission of sins against Gaia, and addlepated songstresses proclaiming their virtue through mortifications of their rear flesh, one is increasingly reminded of certain exaggerated elements of late mediaeval European society.

We have yet to see the strange sights of St. Vitus' dance breaking out in the streets, but we are seeing one of those sudden enthusiasms that sometimes sweeps a credulous populace: the purge of the incandescent light bulb.

Six months ago, no one in the world saw the incandescent bulb as the greatest threat to Earth's survival. Now everyone's getting in the act to ban the bulb--supposedly because of its admitted inefficiencies, but perhaps because of hysteria that fails to consider the even worse effects of some of its replacements:

How much money does it take to screw in a compact fluorescent lightbulb? About $4.28 for the bulb and labor — unless you break the bulb. Then you, like Brandy Bridges of Ellsworth, Maine, could be looking at a cost of about $2,004.28, which doesn’t include the costs of frayed nerves and risks to health.

Sound crazy? Perhaps no more than the stampede to ban the incandescent light bulb in favor of compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) — a move already either adopted or being considered in California, Canada, the European Union and Australia.

According to an April 12 article in The Ellsworth American, Bridges had the misfortune of breaking a CFL during installation in her daughter’s bedroom: It dropped and shattered on the carpeted floor.

Aware that CFLs contain potentially hazardous substances, Bridges called her local Home Depot for advice. The store told her that the CFL contained mercury and that she should call the Poison Control hotline, which in turn directed her to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

The DEP sent a specialist to Bridges’ house to test for mercury contamination. The specialist found mercury levels in the bedroom in excess of six times the state’s “safe” level for mercury contamination of 300 billionths of a gram per cubic meter.


Consider the procedure offered by the Maine DEP’s Web page entitled, “What if I accidentally break a fluorescent bulb in my home?”

Don’t vacuum bulb debris because a standard vacuum will spread mercury-containing dust throughout the area and contaminate the vacuum. Ventilate the area and reduce the temperature. Wear protective equipment like goggles, coveralls and a dust mask.

Collect the waste material into an airtight container. Pat the area with the sticky side of tape. Wipe with a damp cloth. Finally, check with local authorities to see where hazardous waste may be properly disposed.

The only step the Maine DEP left off was the final one: Hope that you did a good enough cleanup so that you, your family and pets aren’t poisoned by any mercury inadvertently dispersed or missed.

This, of course, assumes that people are even aware that breaking CFLs entails special cleanup procedures.

So why the sudden enthusiasm to ban the bulb? Because it's much easier to convince the public of a threat in their own homes, now, than some abstract threat happening to someone else in the future.

Rick Mercer's "one tonne challenge" failed because people don't measure their carbon emitting activities the way they clip coupons and watch their gas gauges. Even if they could, they wouldn't, because it isn't relevant to their daily lives.

But everybody's got light bulbs.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Life Is Like A Box Of Chocolates

There is, at times, a symbolism behind a man's method and weapons of attack. Sending a box of chocolates rubbed with raw chicken is rich with meaning (and flavour, and salmonella, no doubt). What meaning that is, other than simple psychosis, we may never know:

The B.C. Court of Appeal has quashed the firing of a CBC Radio reporter who sent a box of contaminated chocolates to an activist who questioned his journalistic integrity.

Bob Keating was fired in 2003 but his union, the Canadian Media Guild, grieved the dismissal and an arbitrator overturned it in favour of a three-month suspension and an agreement to take an anger-management course.

The CBC appealed the decision and a B.C. Supreme Court judge overruled the arbitrator, saying he had exceeded his mandate by considering a favourable psychologist's report on Mr. Keating made after the firing and not allowing evidence of a past angry outburst.

The ruling appears to open the door to Mr. Keating's reinstatement at the CBC, but he has found work elsewhere and has no plans to return to his former employer.

“That's not going to happen,” he said yesterday about going back to CBC.

“I've moved on . . . I made a mistake. It cost me a career . . . I want to put it behind me.”

What a bizarre, passive-aggressive way to get back at someone. And what a cowardly way, as well. I'd have had more sympathy for the guy if he'd manned up and decked the guy. Or just said nothing and let the accusation fall of its own weight.

You wonder how many other nuts are running around at our esteemed public broadcaster.

Source: Globe and Mail

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Ho Down

Take hip-hop "artists'" three favourite words away, and their works will end up sounding like John Cage's 4'33".

Sounds good to me!

Monday, April 23, 2007

This Old House

I cannot recall who first said that one could derive the antonym of any word by attaching "social" as a prefix, but how true that is.

Consider the matter of social housing in Toronto, which does little to keep its residents properly sheltered:

A group of about 30 tenants of the Toronto Community Housing Corp.-owned building at Eglinton Avenue East and Markham Road marched into the management office Thursday with a litany of complaints that includes chunks of ceiling falling, an infestation of mice and roaches, and a week without hot water and heat.

"I've pretty much duct-taped everything, just to seal the mice and the roaches and the bugs [from] coming in," said Sherry-Ann Goordeen.

Goordeen, who has lived in the building for five years, says part of the damaged ceiling once fell on the head of her seven-year-old son.

The tipping point, however, was a week without hot water or heat that extended through the cold Easter weekend.

To keep warm, tenants used ovens and slept fully clothed. They are demanding a rebate for the week of inconvenience and that other problems be addressed.

No surprise that the city houses its poorest in a manner to rival the worst slumlords.

The city has no economic incentive to keep its housing habitable: theirs is a captive market, kept marginally alive on social assistance (another antonym) and reminded daily that it cannot survive without the city's beneficence.

And naturally, such housing tends to attract not those who have merely fallen down on their luck, but those who are fighting to keep from getting back on up it.

We will see more of these stories as Toronto continues to deny that it is on the brink of bankruptcy, as New York was in the 1970s.

And we will be told that everyone else is to blame, and to pay, for Toronto's plight.

Source: CBC

Sunday, April 22, 2007

You Say You Want A Revolution

No, this is not Gloria Galloway trying to stir up her much hoped for Conservative leadership revolt, but the Toronto Star musing on the prospects for same if the next election should produce another minority government:

"If he (Harper) takes the party to minority twice, there are going to be questions raised (about his leadership)," says John Wright, senior vice-president of the Ipsos Reid polling firm. Wright adds that a minority government is a very real possibility given that most Canadians don't really know Harper and, worse yet, don't completely trust him.

Wright says if the Conservatives win a status quo minority, "you got to think the party itself would be looking and thinking about getting another leader."

The next few weeks are the moment of truth on a possible trip to the polls by Canadians before summer. The Conservatives and their opponents have been primed for a possible quick election call, but if it doesn't happen soon, the likelihood is that Harper has decided to wait until the fall or possibly next spring.

And so arise the usual names:

Peter MacKay, because his superficial charm and stunning incompetence are the definition of the media's idea of an ideal Tory leader.

Jim Flaherty, because the media would love nothing more than to haul out all his supposed sins from the Mike Harris years.

Jim Prentice, because he's got the Red Toryism without the fecklessness of Joe Clark.

Maxime Bernier, because he's from Quebec, and can thus restore the unconstitutional convention that the prime minister must come from there.

Jason Kenney, because he's supposedly got an even scarier hidden agenda than the current leader.

And of course, John Baird, of whom it is diplomatically said that "it's unclear if he would want to be put under the spotlight of a leadership bid."

So there you have it, folks. Even though Lester Pearson handled two minority governments without a serious revolt and Mackenzie King handled even worse, Stephen Harper supposedly cannot survive a second minority government.

Of course, how the Liberals are expected to win one with Quebec and the West out of the picture, we are not supposed to ask.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Team Spirit

Do you know how hard it is to make priorities?

The federal Liberals want the Conservative government to push for a lineup change to Team Canada at the upcoming world hockey championship because of ethnic slurs that were allegedly made by a player toward a francophone referee more than a year ago.

The allegations, which sparked two lawsuits, revolve around an incident at a December 2005 NHL game involving Phoenix Coyotes forward Shane Doan and a francophone linesman. An NHL investigation absolved Mr. Doan of any wrongdoing.

"There is now proof that hockey player Shane Doan uttered racial insults during a game against the Montreal Canadiens," said Marcel Proulx, the Liberal party deputy whip, in the House of Commons.

So why should the federal government care about a hockey player mouthing off on the ice to a ref, like thousands of players before and after him, after a bad call against him?

Mr. Proulx later said it wasn't up to him to decide whether Mr. Doan should play, but he added the government must seek explanations from Hockey Canada.

"I'm saying that the government of Canada finances partly Hockey Canada, so if they agree that there shouldn't be racism in sports they should question Hockey Canada on how they can include him in their team," Mr. Proulx said after question period.

According to a document tabled last month in Quebec Superior Court in support of a lawsuit launched by Liberal MP Denis Coderre, linesman Michel Cormier reported that "at the (end) of the third period No. 19 Shane Doan skated (by) me saying: 'F... French did a good job.'"

Mr. Coderre's suit was in response to one Mr. Doan filed against the politician in the middle of the 2006 federal election campaign.

What is the damage that has been suffered here? The linesman has surely heard far worse on the ice, and no one seriously believes that either he, or NHL referees, or even the Quebecois nation, have been defamed beyond repair.

But when there is government money involved, however tangentially, the government must be to blame.

Settle the matter on the ice and not in court or on the Commons floor. It already was when Doan took a gross misconduct penalty and the league backed up Doan.

Radioactive Man

Hearken back to the good old days of the Manhattan Project, when a whole host of scientists involved in building the first atomic bombs turned out to be passing on the plans to the Soviets.

Sure, they might have been a little bit too fashionably leftish in their political views, but Stalin was an ally at the time, and all hands were needed to beat the Germans to the bomb.

What possible mitigating reasons could exist now, however, for hiring Iranian nationals at nuclear plants when Iran has been telling everyone it will build nukes and drop them on Israel and the West at the first opportunity?

A former engineer at the nation's largest nuclear power plant has been charged with taking computer access codes and software to Iran and using it to download details of plant control rooms and reactors, authorities said.
The FBI said there's no indication the plant employee training software had any terrorist connections.

Mohammad Alavi, who worked at the triple-reactor Palo Verde power plant west of Phoenix, was arrested April 9 at Los Angeles International Airport when he arrived on a flight from Iran, authorities said.

Alavi, 49, is a U.S. citizen and denies any wrongdoing, said his attorney, Milagros Cisneros of the Federal Defender's Office in Phoenix.

He is charged with a single count of violating a trade embargo that prohibits Americans from exporting goods and services to Iran. If convicted, he would face up to 21 months in prison.

According to court records, the software is used only for training plant employees, but allowed users access to details on the Palo Verde control rooms and the plant layout.

Not bomb making plans, to be sure, but something potentially no worse: how to start a nuclear power plant meltdown.

We didn't hire enemy nationals of doubtful loyalty for such sensitive positions during World War II--at least, not knowingly. There are surely enough people in the West who can work in nuclear plants without having to hire Iranians.

Not now, not as this point in history.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Stormy Weather

The first few weeks of spring's unseasonably cold weather may have led many to forget the first few weeks of winter's unseasonably mild weather. Oh, and the storms that knocked down a bunch of trees in Stanley Park, which were proclaimed as undeniable proof of manmade global warming's unleashing of a host of climatic plagues.

Except that they weren't:

[A couple of thoughts about the Stanley Park "devastation," after having visited Vancouver's rightly famous downtown park myself at the end of March: Even if SP has had 10,000 trees felled by two major windstorms this past winter, the park contains half a million, or more. So 10,000, while a large number, would be just 2% of the total inventory. And consider that wind has been an important natural part of forest renewal since time immemorial. Typhoon Freda, for instance, hit the park just as badly in 1962, long before the world had heard of SUVs or begun to think climate change was manmade. And Freda caused nearly $5 billion damage (in 2007 dollars), far more than the storms of 2006-07, neither of which was large enough even to warrant being named. And, finally, SP exists only because the federal government leased the land to Vancouver beginning in 1886 because the entire 1,000-acre peninsula had been logged out. Few, if any, of the trees toppled this winter were more than 120 years old. They were certainly not "old growth." Too many tree-huggers and enviro-squishes see nature as existing in a perpetual, never-changing equilibrium -- as if preserved under a dome. All change to "nature," therefore, is unnatural. So any change to SP, for instance, is proof some force beyond nature (i.e. manmade warming) is to blame. But SP is a manmade park to begin with, and wind damage there is nothing new. The level witnessed this winter is not even new in the park's relatively short history.]

The only planet climate and vegetation don't change on is a dead one.

Yet the promoters of the hyperenvironmentalist agenda rely on our short memories to conceal to divert us from this fact.

If it didn't happen before in our current memory (which grows ever more unreliable with time), it's never happened before.

Source: National Post

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Senator Brown

Bert Brown has been waiting behind a long line of Liberal hacks who have taken their seats in the Senate with nothing more to recommend them than the Prime Minister's desire to reward faithful service to the party or to appease some particular ethnocultural bloc.

Three times has he run for election to the Senate; twice has he been elected thereto, only to be ignored.

Though the law and the constitution did not forbid the Prime Minister of the day from appointing him to office, he was frozen out by those who did not perceive the need for Senate reform, or chose to fight against it.

Now his long wait for the Senate seat he has merited through his long efforts and championship of transforming the last wholly appointed national legislative body in any Western democracy will be coming to a well-deserved end.

Would that more politicians had the perseverance to achieve their goals this way. Bert Brown was championing a Triple-E Senate when the idea was considered mere constitutional crackpottery by the governing classes.

Now he's finally the most symbolically important step closer to it.

And the anachronism of an appointed Senate is that much closer to passing into the dustbin of history--a House of Lords without the nobility.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

To Arms

A timely reminder from the great Diogenes , that in spite of the crime at Virginia Tech, a society where the state does not enjoy the monopoly on protective force is still a freer society.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Naked Ambition

The mutual exchange of credibility between the Liberals and Greens that has arisen out of last week's deal has reaped yet more rewards in the person of Briony Penn, who left the Greens for the Liberals out of dismay even before the deal went down.
This is Briony Penn in a less formal setting, protesting logging on Saltspring Island in B.C.

This is her timeless quote for Colombo's Canadian Quotations:

"I've got a PhD and no one listens," she declared. "I take my clothes off, and here you all are. So thank you."

No, no, thank you.

The new Red Green show will provide hours of entertainment for political junkies across the land.

World's Oldest Profession

The CBC has come upon a shocking discovery that hitherto has escaped the notice of chroniclers of mass armies, gold rushes and politics alike: where there's a lot men and a lot of money, there's a lot of whores!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Green With Resentment

In politics, your worst enemies are not necessarily your direct opponents, not even your ambitious colleagues, but the people trying to occupy your particular niche.

We saw it in the virulent rhetoric with which the remnants of the old Progressive Conservatives attacked Reform/Alliance while sparing Jean Chretien's Liberals.

Now we may see the same emnity between the Greens and the NDP:

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says she's been trying for months to get the NDP to talk about ways the two parties can co-operate on shared priorities, but the party has kept the door firmly closed to her overtures.

She was reacting to NDP criticism over the announcement this week by May and Liberal Leader Stephane Dion that neither leader would run an opponent in the other's riding.


The NDP has called the move undemocratic, and former party leader Ed Broadbent revealed Friday that May had called former Canadian ambassador to the UN Stephen Lewis to try and get him to broker a deal with New Democrat Leader Jack Layton.

She admitted she has been frustrated with Layton's lack of co-operation, and turned to her old friend Lewis to try and open up the lines of communication.

"What the hell is wrong with Jack Layton that he can't answer a phone call?" she said on CTV's Question Period.

"I don't understand this. He talks to Stephen Harper all the time. Surely, our shared values are much closer between the NDP and the Greens."

Leave aside the petulant whining of a teenage wallflower who can't catch the eye of the high school football quarterback.

Jack Layton doesn't return her calls because the Green Party has taken the place that the NDP held for the past little while: occasional lenders of their social conscience, policy platform and stop-the-Tories votes.

Layton knows he'd just be a third wheel in the relationship.

They can't both have the same spot in Dion's affections.

Source: CTV

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sudden Jihad Syndrome Strikes Montreal?

The Quebecois may not be too fond of Jews either, but gut instinct told me that these two thugs weren't likely to be named Tremblay and Pelletier:

Two Montreal men have been accused of a raft of attacks against the city’s Jewish community, including the firebombing of a Snowdon community centre that police are treating as a hate-related crime.

Omar Bulphred, 21, and Azim Ibragimov, 23, appeared briefly in Quebec Court on Friday to be arraigned on charges stemming from incidents that began last fall. Both were denied bail.

Azim Ibragimov, left, and Omar Bulphred face nine charges each stemming from events that began last fall.

The case is due back in court on Monday, at which time a date could be set for a bail hearing.

In addition to their alleged roles in a rash of firebombings, the two are accused of conspiring to commit kidnapping and armed robbery. But it’s not known who or what their potential victims were.

The Gazette could have told you of how disputes are often handled in certain regions of Russia, but this would have required making some educated assumptions, a little investigative digging, and raising uncomfortable questions about the nature of our peaceable kingdom:

Jeffrey Boro, president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said he was told by police that the two accused are Muslims of Russian descent who were born in Canada.

“That makes it very disconcerting for those who live here,” he said. “We’re raising people here with such hatred in their hearts for people that they’ve never met or had anything to do with.”

But no doubt their attitudes were formed in their communities and reinforced every day with formal propaganda and casual comment.

The barbarisms of the Caucusus are finding fertile soil in our colder climes.

So much the worse.

Source: Montreal Gazette

Garth's Got A Secret

RepoCreepo has been feeding Garth Turner's insatiable need for attention ever since he joined the Liberals over his disappointment in not having his brilliant financial mind, sense of discretion and team spirit recognized with a cabinet post.

Now we're told that the great champion of open debate and democratic process had his nomination meeting held in secret.

No doubt Turner will be screaming that his confidences have been betrayed and whoever leaked the news about the meeting should be kicked out of the party.

However, one unnamed commenter suggest that it will be all for naught:

Garth has finally reached the minimum requirements to collect his MP pension. He has served 2243 Days (6 years, 1 month, 22 days) and is now over the age of 55.

My bet is that he'll pull a Boolinda (by the beginning of summer) with the excuse that he's not going to run again because he just doesn't have to take this "crap" anymore.

Garth isn't getting any press these days and his fundraising efforts sound marginal at best. Maybe he can get a lemonade stand going soon so that he can pay for the stakes for his shiny new red liberal - strike that - GARTH signs.

But then his lemonade would be real lemons - they'd be sour grapes.

Not that Canada's greatest financial advisor needs the money. (Or so we think. Did Garth take a bath on income trusts as well?)

But frankly, he is entertaining in a strange sort of way, like certain drunks ranting on at the local bar.

It would be a shame to lose both him and Belinda this year. We need someone to kick around.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Red Light, Green Light

We all knew what Jason Cherniak was going to say about the strange new coupling of Stephane Dion and Elizabeth May.

It was his brilliant idea, after all.

He won't let you forget how much foresight he had to join Dion's campaign when everybody else was boarding the Iggy-Rae juggernauts.

Beside him, Criswell was a mere piker.

Gut Check

Well, at least it beats getting knocked out and waking up hours later in a bathtub full of ice and a strange scar on your stomach.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

May Day

The Green Party occupies a curious twilight position in the Canadian political scene: not quite a major party, but much more than a fringe party. Its previous leader, Jim Harris, hit on just the right mix of environmentalism and fiscal responsibility to make the Green Party a safe place to park protest votes for people who want clean air but can't stand hippies.

Elizabeth May is set to undo all of her predecessor's good work, by cozying up to Stephane Dion and cutting a shabby that undercuts her and her party's clean, green image:

Stephane Dion has decided not to run a Liberal candidate against Green Party Leader Elizabeth May in the next federal election.

Dion, who shares May’s environmental idealism, is expected to make the announcement today. In return, sources say May will promise not to run a Green candidate against the Liberal leader and will essentially endorse Dion for prime minister.

The extraordinary back-scratching between two supposedly rival leaders is unheard of in Canadian politics and could generate a backlash within both parties.

Many Greens are already upset with May for lavishly praising Dion’s environmental record and inferring that he’d make a better prime minister than Stephen Harper.

What does May hope to accomplish with this deal? It is by no means certain that Central Nova's Liberal voters will happily follow behind her, however much they may detest Peter MacKay.

If she wins her seat, she does so not on her own merits but as a stooge for Stephane Dion. If she doesn't, she looks doubly foolish for taking the deal, and her leadership will likely be finished.

Worst of all, she confirms the perception that the Green Party isn't ready to become a serious player, and that it's a farm team for left-leaning environmentalist Liberals.

The Green Party built up a lot of credibility by not appearing to be playing politics as usual. Now it's all about to be lost because of May's strange infatuation with Dion.

Source: Toronto Star

24 Heures

Despite their endless grievances about the rest of the world doing them wrong, and their refusal to improve their situation and govern themselves responsibly, progressive opinion never fails to champion their claims of oppression and occupation of their nation by a foreign people accused throughout history of all manner of nefarious schemes.

Now they complain that they are being portrayed in the popular media with vicious and bigoted stereotypes that verge on the blasphemous.

But that's enough about the next season of 24.

Two Minutes For Holding Up Real Business

Why do legislatures seriously debate trivial matters leading to irrelevant resolutions? Because they can:

The Nova Scotia legislature has unanimously endorsed a resolution chastising the NHL for its decision to schedule the Pittsburgh Penguins'-Ottawa Senators playoff game for Saturday afternoon rather than the evening Hockey Night in Canada slot.

The league is trying to accommodate the U.S. television network NBC, which usually airs NHL games on weekend afternoons.

Conservative backbencher Pat Dunn drafted the resolution. Nova Scotians are keen to see Dartmouth native Sidney Crosby in his first playoff season and a 4 p.m. faceoff makes no sense, Dunn said.

"Most Nova Scotians are very busy with their lives — out, some working, some shopping, running errands and so on," Dunn said. "Just not a good time to be sitting down watching a hockey game prior to parents getting meals ready for their children and so on."

Tough. Let the NHL and CBC find out the usual way--through decreased viewership and ad revenue--and get back to the real work of legislating.

Source: CBC

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Given the choice between slogging away on the opposition backbenches for the next few years as an object of condescension and contempt, or between making millions as a figurehead executive in the family business with the prospect of making millions more as a figurehead auto maker CEO, which would you choose?

For Belinda, parliamentary politics was just another bauble to amuse herself with, only to be thrown away once she had had her fun with it, like her husbands and lovers.

Faced for the first time with challenges that required her merits, and not her father's money, to conquer, she withered.

Her contributions to the body politic remain as insubstantial as she; a few photo-ops, a few headlines, and a few bits of gossip.

Conservatives may rest assured, however, that her failure was their success.


To the chattering classes, the notwithstanding clause is considered akin to the so-called Satanic verses in the Qu'ran, an embarrassing interpolation into a sacred text which must be ignored or explained away lest the faithful be scandalized and the faithless emboldened.

The rest of the country apparently doesn't share the same sense of shame and disgust:

More than two-thirds of Canadians believe politicians should have the power to override court decisions by having the final word on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in certain circumstances, a survey indicates.

With the 25th anniversary of the Charter approaching, the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies and the Carleton University Survey Centre in Ottawa polled Canadians on what they think of the controversial "notwithstanding" clause in the Constitution, which allows governments to override rights.

Sixty-eight per cent either strongly or somewhat agreed the "notwithstanding clause" should remain intact.


The notwithstanding clause, added to the Constitution as a deal-maker at the insistence of several premiers during negotiations in the early 1980s, has seldom been used in Canada.

Both Parliament and provincial governments have a limited power to pass laws that are exempt from certain Charter provisions for a period of five years.

Until now, it was safe to assume that the public believed, as do the elites, that the Charter is the fons et origo of all our rights and freedoms, and that to change one word within (or not to read in many words without) would lead the nation into tyranny.

But as our judiciary has been spinning out of control with interpretations of the Charter that recognize strange new rights while denigrating others, perhaps people are becoming reassured that there is a remedy to rein in the courts.

Certainly the people do not share the same faith in judicial infallibility as the elites, else they would not be calling for an elected judiciary at the same time.

Most of our constitutional protections and conventions have arisen out of the need to check the predations of the executive or legislative branches. Now, it seems, we need to check the predations of the judiciary.

Source: National Post

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Leading Indicators

There was a time in this fair land when SES polls did not run, and we wonder how our predecessors managed to survive without their daily fix of Nik Nanos' consistently accurate numbers.

If these numbers are anything to go by--and this being SES, they're money in the bank--Stephen Harper is demonstrating the overwhelming power of incumbency in the face of a weak opposition:

Although the Conservatives are short of the committed support necessary to form a majority government, Stephen Harper has a clear advantage over Liberal Leader Stephan Dion. Forty-two percent of Canadians choose Harper as the best PM followed by Dion at 17%, Layton at 16%, Duceppe at 7% and Elizabeth May at 4% (the rest chose none of the above or were unsure). At this point in time Stephen Harper personally may be in majority territory but his party is not.

What is emerging is a situation where one leader is ahead of his party (Harper) and another leader trails his party (Dion). Of note, Harper is the second choice as the best PM among committed Liberals, New Democrats and BQ voters and the first choice as Best PM in the province of Quebec.

The office puts a stamp on the man more than the man puts a stamp on the office. Stephen Harper never enjoyed this much of a lead over Paul Martin even as Martin's campaign was sinking; simply holding the prime ministerial office is good for a few percentage points in these polls.

Yet now he leads significantly everywhere: in all regions, in all age groups, among men and women.

The real problem in this poll, however, is that Stephane Dion is trailing Jack Layton in several key demographics: everyone under 40, men, and Quebec (Quebec!) .

Keeping in mind the significant advantages of incumbency, there's still no silver lining for Dion. A majority of his own party's supporters doesn't think he'd make the best PM--40% just doesn't cut it. He should be at two-thirds, minimum, no matter how feckless a leader he is.

Dion needs an election campaign, whether he wants one or not, because only then will he have the opportunity to overcome his current image problems.

When people aren't paying attention, it's always the guy who's got the job who looks best.

Sudden Death In Afghanistan

Wars must be fought according to plan, but no war ever follows one. Lulls break suddenly into storms and death follows in their wake:

Caked with several layers of dust and fatigued from almost five weeks in the field, the soldiers of Hotel Company took to their vehicles on the afternoon of Easter Sunday knowing a warm shower and a fresh meal were only one task away.

The troops of Hotel Company, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, had been patrolling the Maywand District of northwest Kandahar province since March 6 and Sunday’s task - to escort a convoy of troops and supplies through the desert into Helmand province, as they had done the two previous days before - was to be their last before returning to base for some much-needed rest.

Not only that, but there had been no attacks on police checkpoints during the weeks they were patrolling the Maywand area and their company commander had formed strong and fruitful relationships with local leaders and elders.

Morale would have had to be sky-high.

Then at about 1:30 p.m. a LAV III carrying 10 Canadian soldiers hit an improvised explosive device (IED) that ripped through the back of the armoured carrier, killing six soldiers.

Military leaders said Monday that the bomb was laid at a choke point among a collection of deep irrigation wells - at the only place vehicles would have to drive in order to avoid a major diversion.

A few feet either way, and the bomb doesn't go off. A moment's delay or haste, and many more might have died. The difference between a routine mission and a deadly one often comes down to as little as inches and seconds.

A lesson that has to be learned again with every war: there are no guarantees on the battlefield.

Source: National Post

Monday, April 09, 2007

Iron Harvest

The fields at Vimy are now lush with grass and crops, but still they bear fruits of the bitter harvest reaped ninety years ago today:

When Marcel Vion was harvesting his autumn crop of beets not long ago, the earth suddenly opened up before him, and revealed a lost tableau from 90 years before. Beneath the front wheels of his tractor, and for metres beyond, were the remains of a Canadian underground field hospital, entombed in the earth for generations.

"Sappe," the 69-year-old farmer muttered -- "tunnel" -- and hit the brakes. This was not a surprising occurrence. Two years earlier, a nearby farmhand had been knocked out cold when he'd strolled into a furrow filled with leaking mustard gas. One farmer has been killed in the past decade, and others injured, by the shells of 1916. Such is life in the farmlands below Vimy Ridge.

This town has an active munitions depot, which still receives regular, deadly deposits from the area's farmers, and its own active mine-clearing team. It contains thousands of still-lethal antiques, and its gas-leak alarm still occasionally strikes fear into the town's residents.


"Every time we go out with the plow, we turn up something from the war," says potato farmer Alfred Ansart, 73, taking a break from washing potatoes in the brick courtyard of his farm just outside the village. His small plot spent decades disgorging deadly shells, bombs and mines; in recent years, it has regularly churned up hundreds of fuses from shells, bayonets, bullets, and pieces of hardware and uniforms.

The metal objects tend to rise to the surface, damaging harvesters and plows. Somewhat lower in the ground are far worse things.

"We all know not to set the tines on our plows too deep," says Mr. Vion, the beet farmer. "If we go below a certain level, we start disturbing the soldiers down there."

Volumes of histories backed up with volumes of photographs and statistics fail to reveal the full scope of World War I as effectively as this: nearly a century on, men are still finding countless remains thereof.

Even today, bomb disposal experts are still defusing live shells, mines and grenades before careless tourists and visitors fall victim to them, all across northern France and Belgium.

The phenomenon has its own peculiar name: the iron harvest.

Let it be a lesson that the reminders of war cannot always be neatly packed away in cemeteries and cenotaphs.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Sunday

And on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalen cometh early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre; and she saw the stone taken away from the sepulchre. She ran, therefore, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and saith to them: They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went out, and that other disciple, and they came to the sepulchre. And they both ran together, and that other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And when he stooped down, he saw the linen cloths lying; but yet he went not in.

Then cometh Simon Peter, following him, and went into the sepulchre, and saw the linen cloths lying. And the napkin that had been about his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but apart, wrapped up into one place. Then that other disciple also went in, who came first to the sepulchre: and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. The disciples therefore departed again to their home.

But Mary stood at the sepulchre without, weeping. Now as she was weeping, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, And she saw two angels in white, sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been laid. They say to her: Woman, why weepest thou? She saith to them: Because they have taken away my Lord; and I know not where they have laid him. When she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing; and she knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith to her: Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, thinking it was the gardener, saith to him: Sir, if thou hast taken him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

Jesus saith to her: Mary. She turning, saith to him: Rabboni (which is to say, Master). Jesus saith to her: Do not touch me, for I am not yet ascended to my Father. But go to my brethren, and say to them: I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and your God.

John 20:1-17

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Los Angeles, Mexico

While conservatives often bewail the Islamicization of Europe, not all of them have been paying enough attention to the growing problem of Mexican irrendentism within the southwestern United States and in southern California in particular.

It is now entirely possible for persons of Hispanic descent to be born, live, and die within an entirely Hispanic cultural milieu there, without having to learn a word of English or make any other accomodation to English-speaking American society.

With Mexicanization comes the call for secession and/or reintegration into Mexico: a faint cry today, limited to radical groups and their academic fellow-travellers for now, but one that will grow as it becomes clear that the United States does not have the will to defend its southern border against a mass of illegal immigrants intent on draining the milk cow dry before killing and eating it.

Gates of Vienna has links to several articles suggesting that a low-level form of ethnic cleansing is taking place in southern California as Mexican gangs turn on local black populations.

This article from the Guardian (yes, the short-sighted old Grauniad), is remarkably blunt in its assessment of the situation:

Los Angeles is where an estimated 120,000 gang members across five counties battle over turf, pride and drugs. It is a city of violence as a new race war escalates between new Hispanic gangs and older black groups, each trying to ethnically cleanse the other. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has referred to his city as 'the gang capital of America', has launched a crackdown on the new threat.


They have names such as Mara Salvatrucha, La Mirada Locos and Barrio Van Nuys, and now the 204th Street gang - who made it clear that they will kill innocent girls to force black families off their turf.

Last year there were 269 gang-related killings in LA. Gang-related crime leaped 15.7 per cent last year, as most other types of crime fell. Hate crimes against black people have surged. With a rapidly growing Hispanic population, LA's gang culture is shifting. It means that being black in the wrong neighbourhood can get you killed.

That's not ordinary gang warfare: that's outright insurrection.

How many more people in the Hispanic community down there are silently supporting the gangs, not out of fear, but out of hope that they'll drive the blacks and the Anglos out?

Is the Mexican government looking on with approval? It has been using illegal immigration as a safety valve to prevent its own people from fomenting revolution from within. And it has no shame in encouraging its nationals to break American law.

Perhaps the U.S. should be sending some of that troop surge to its own borders first.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday

And when they were come to the place which is called Calvary, they crucified him there; and the robbers, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. And Jesus said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. But they, dividing his garments, cast lots. And the people stood beholding, and the rulers with them derided him, saying: He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the elect of God.

And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, And saying: If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. And there was also a superscription written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. And one of those robbers who were hanged, blasphemed him, saying: If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering, rebuked him, saying: Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art condemned under the same condemnation?

And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done no evil. And he said to Jesus: Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom. And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise. And it was almost the sixth hour; and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

And Jesus crying out with a loud voice, said: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. And saying this, he gave up the ghost. Now the centurion, seeing what was done, glorified God, saying: Indeed this was a just man.

(Luke 23:33-47)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

You Can Run, But You Can't Hide

Adscam adman Jean Lafleur's faulty memory suddenly recalls that he was involved in that sponsorship scandal, after all.

How much worse is life on the run in Belize than in jail in Canada, anyway?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Svend Back?

Never underestimate the willingness of the electorate to be fooled by the same people again and again. Never also underestimate the willingness of any political party to recycle even its worst candidates, if their notoriety might yet squeeze out a few more votes:

Might as well plan on 20 more years of B.C. Liberal rule. Svend Robinson is thinking of running for the NDP. In their wildest dreams, the Liberals have never imagined a more encouraging future than one that involves Robinson running for the other side.

And provincial New Democrats are probably combing through their rule book, looking for some way to bar the tempestuous, far-left lightning rod from ever setting foot in Victoria.

The Province's Ian Bailey caught up with Robinson on the weekend. "When you get people coming up to you in the Safeway, in the library, in the park and saying: 'We would really like to see you represent our community,' that's something you take seriously," he said.

The current NDP caucus is a collection of earnest policy wonks, committed to moderation, civility and finding the middle ground. Inviting Robinson into that mild-mannered posse would be like bringing Britney Spears into your book club.

Robinson's political career has been one of endless public displays of narcissism, an attribute common enough amongst politicians and homosexuals, but especially flagrant in his case.

Whether it was rushing to Sue Rodriguez's bedside to stick the needle in her arm, or getting his pants torn by the RCMP at a protest, or stealing a ring for his boyfriend, Robinson always made sure that the story was about him.

What he can't stand is the relative obscurity of private life. Without a political platform, he's just another aging exhibitionist.

He'll be running for office until he dies just for the attention.

And should he be elected again, his election will reflect just as badly on the electorate as on him.

Source: Victoria Times-Colonist

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Ashes To Ashes

The surprise here is not that Keith Richards would try anything. The surprise is that he actually managed to outlive his father:

It may be the strangest chemical ever to alter Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richard's state of mind — a mix of cocaine and his father's ashes.

"The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father — I snorted my father," Richards said in an interview with British music magazine NME.

Richards' father, Bert, died in 2002 at age 84, but apparently was a sanguine sort of fellow.

"He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn't have cared," Richards said. "… It went down pretty well, and I'm still alive."

Stranger still is the possibility that Keith Richards' copyright may expire before he does. The man must have sold his soul for indestructibility.

Fear Factory

I don't care that David McGuinty came up with the phrase. It's at least an original epithet, unlike "war room":

The expansive and battle-ready Conservative campaign headquarters was opened to journalists for a one-time-only viewing yesterday even as two cabinet ministers denied the party has any desire to go to the polls.

Reporters were permitted to stroll through the 17,000-square-foot war room before being ushered into the adjoining television studio to view the latest attack ad against St├ęphane Dion, which will begin airing today.

"We've taken the big and costly step of opening this facility because [Liberal Leader] St├ęphane Dion has put the country on notice," Environment Minister John Baird said at a heavily scripted news conference. "He's told Canadians he wants to go back to power as soon as possible."

Mr. Baird would not discuss the cost of renting the roomy space on the second floor of a non-descript building in a southeast Ottawa industrial park. But he said the Conservatives will keep it fully equipped and ready for action until voting day, even if that means paying the bills until 2009.

"Fear factory." Take the sting out of the phrase by making it one's own. Manufacturing fear in the hearts of Liberals everywhere.

Source: Globe and Mail

Monday, April 02, 2007

Toronto The Good Enough

For some years now, it has been my oft-frustrated goal to break free of Toronto's orbit. Just recently, I finally managed to do it.

Which is why stories such as this no longer raise the same bile within me that they did even a few short months ago, as I no longer anticipate the round of smug self-congratulation that inevitably follows in the Toronto press the next day:

Toronto is the second-best city in Canada to live in, according to a global survey released today.

For the second year in a row, Toronto ranks 15th among cities around the world in overall quality of life, according to the annual review by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, which operates in 40 nations.

Vancouver is the best place to reside in Canada, the survey says, ranking third in the world – just behind the Swiss cities of Zurich and Geneva. Other Canadian cities in the survey were Ottawa at 18th internationally, Montreal at 22nd and Calgary at 24th.

"Generally speaking, Canadian cities did really well," Danielle Bushen, a principal at Mercer in Toronto, told the Star's Joanna Smith.

Toronto's traffic and muggy summers with poor air quality played a role in its ranking. The city placed 21st internationally in the category of health and sanitation.

I have always thought these quality of life surveys to be somewhat suspect in their methodology and criteria: one man's quality of life might be another man's deathly misery.

Perhaps they might be better cast as wish fulfillment surveys, akin to asking people what they might do with their hypothetical lottery jackpots.

Sure, we'd all love April in Paris, but for most of us, it's February in Brampton.

Source: Toronto Star

Power Play

Some Indian chiefs and their cronies are going to get rich at the expense of the taxpayers and residents of their reserves, as usual, whenever there's an opportunity to shake them both down. And what an opportunity this is indeed:

Native leaders are sharply divided over a proposed transmission link that would import electricity from Manitoba to power-hungry Ontario, potentially throwing a wrench into the Harper government's green plan.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has earmarked $586-million of the $1.5-billion Canada EcoTrust Fund to help Ontario reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and fight climate change by building the so-called east-west link. Manitoba has an abundance of hydroelectric power, so the grid could supply Ontario with a clean source of power and help the province phase out its pollution-spewing coal plants. But the link cannot go ahead without the support of native communities in Northern Ontario because it would run through their traditional territories.

Native leaders in 19 of the 49 Northern Ontario reserves represented by the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation agreed late Thursday night to have their communities push ahead with the project and seek an ownership interest in it. But leaders of the remaining 30 communities said they could not throw their support behind the project until the Ontario government outlines its stand on broader economic development issues.

They want a revenue-sharing agreement with the government and a commitment on how the grid can become a springboard for other economic development initiatives.

And unlike the Kelowna accord, this is a gift that will keep on giving for the natives:

The project would involve spending about $10-billion to develop a 1,250-megawatt hydro dam known as Conawapa on the Nelson River in northeastern Manitoba. A high- voltage transmission line from the dam to James Bay in Northern Ontario and south to Timmins and Sudbury would cost another $1.5-billion.

The megaproject would take at least a decade to complete. But it is expected to run into stiff opposition from environmentalists, who will see the transmission line as a significant threat to the boreal forest. The project will not proceed until the Ontario government signs a long-term agreement with Manitoba to purchase the electricity produced at Conawapa. Talks are under way between the two provinces.

Which isn't to say that the Indians don't deserve their fair share for having the power lines run through their lands. They just aren't going to get it. Properly managed, the profits therefrom could lift their reserves out of poverty and into prosperity. But it never seems to happen that way.

Source: Globe and Mail

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Out Of Proportion

Every time there's a blowout majority government, the call for proportional representation briefly arises only to fade away on the political wind.

And sometimes, even the supporters of PR get their timing wrong.

Way wrong.

Next time, vet your press releases before sending them out.

Our Man In Iran

You'd better believe that the old Pearsonian myths that have dominated Canadian foreign policy are dead now. Just consider today's announcement and ask yourself if this would have been contemplated even five years ago:

The Conservative government has come under fire from a wide range of critics condemning the recent appointment of a new Canadian ambassador to Iran as a cynical and potentially dangerous political move guaranteed to inflame tensions in the Middle East.

The Department of Foreign Affairs announced today that Fred Litwin, 51, an Ottawa-based music production company president with no previous foreign policy experience, will become Canada's envoy to the fundamentalist Islamic regime effective immediately.

Mr. Litwin is well-known in party circles for his blog, Gay and Right, in which he has expressed uncompromising support for both Israel and gay rights, and opposition to Iranian and Islamic political ambitions.

Mr. Litwin attracted media attention several months ago when he organized the showing of a controversial documentary film on Islamic terrorism, only to have it cancelled by theatre operators following protests from local activists. The film was later shown at the Ottawa public library.

An unusually broad collection of critics, ranging from peace activists to social conservatives, have come out against Mr. Litwin's appointment, calling the appointment of the openly gay Jewish music producer offensive and counterproductive.

"Appointing this man sends a signal that Canada disrespects the faith and sensibilities of the Iranian people and Muslims all over the world," said Canadian Islamic Congress President Dr. Mohammed Elmasry. "It is an act of aggression unworthy of Canada's role as a tolerant and peaceful nation, and we call on (Prime Minister) Stephen Harper to withdraw this appointment and apologize to the Islamic and Iranian communities."

Liberal foreign affairs critic Ujjal Dosanjh also condemned the appointment at a press conference in Ottawa as a shameful pre-election exercise in political posturing aimed at winning over votes from the Jewish community and socially progressive urban voters.

"This appointment has nothing to do with promoting peace in the Middle East and everything to do with promoting Stephen Harper at home," said Dosanjh. "It's cynicism of the worst kind--hiding the party's intolerance behind a token gay man."

Some commentators, however, have expressed support for Mr. Litwin's appointment, calling it a bold move that could actually raise Canada's reputation and influence in the strife-torn region.

"The Middle East is a land of symbolism, and what could be a more powerful symbol than sending a Jewish gay man to Iran?" said University of Western Ontario political science professor and Toronto Sun columnist Dr. Salim Mansur. "It demonstrates a resolve not to compromise in the face of (Iranian President) Ahmadinejad and the mullahs."

Relations between Canada and Iran have been strained over the past several years, following the death of Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi in a Tehran prison in 2003, and the arrest and subsequent release of Iranian-Canadian professor Dr. Ramin Jahanbegloo in 2006.

A spokesman for the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa called the appointment of Mr. Litwin "a matter of grave concern for both our countries" and said that the Iranian Foreign Ministry "would give careful consideration to its response."

Everybody is piling on about the appointment in the media--Gwynne Dyer, Eric Margolis, Neil MacDonald, Haroun Siddiqui, etc., etc.--and you can read a collection of selected commentary here.