Saturday, May 12, 2007

You Know it's Bad When...

You know things are going badly for the Harper Conservatives when people who should consider themselves the "base" of the party are considering re-forming the Reform party (if I may be permitted the play on words). Maybe they can even dust off ol' Pressed-on Man-Thing as well!

In other news, Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett explains why she has taken to heckling in the House of Commons. The reason? Stephen Harper and his whopping lies. Read about it here.

Finally, Stephen Harper has once again dipped into his Republican bag of tricks to denigrate his political opponents. At a morale-boosting rally for our troops, Harper used his podium time to play politics, blaming the opposition for having the temerity to inquire about detainee torture. Said Harper:

"Unfortunately these soldiers did not get the attention they deserved because their stories were eclipsed by arguments in the House of Commons over the allegations of Taliban prisoners"

If this type of shameless rhetoric sounds familiar, it's because we've heard it before - from Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. And lest there be any remaining doubt about Harper's sycophantic man-love for Bush, let us never forget this:

Conservative Canadians Speak Out!Wall Street Journal 3/28/03 Stephen Harper, Stockwell Day
Canadians Stand With You

Today, the world is at war. A coalition of countries under the leadership of the U.K. and the U.S. is leading a military intervention to disarm Saddam Hussein. Yet Prime Minister Jean Chretien has left Canada outside this multilateral coalition of nations.
This is a serious mistake. For the first time in history, the Canadian government has not stood beside its key British and American allies in their time of need. The Canadian Alliance -- the official opposition in parliament -- supports the American and British position because we share their concerns, their worries about the future if Iraq is left unattended to, and their fundamental vision of civilization and human values.
Disarming Iraq is necessary for the long-term security of the world, and for the collective interests of our key historic allies and therefore manifestly in the national interest of Canada. Make no mistake, as our allies work to end the reign of Saddam and the brutality and aggression that are the foundations of his regime, Canada's largest opposition party, the Canadian Alliance will not be neutral. In our hearts and minds, we will be with our allies and friends. And Canadians will be overwhelmingly with us. But we will not be with the Canadian government.
Modern Canada was forged in large part by war -- not because it was easy but because it was right. In the great wars of the last century -- against authoritarianism, fascism, and communism -- Canada did not
merely stand with the Americans, more often than not we led the way. We did so for freedom, for democracy, for civilization itself. These values continue to be embodied in our allies and their leaders, and scorned by the forces of evil, including Saddam Hussein and the perpetrators of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
That is why we will stand -- and I believe most Canadians will stand with us -- for these higher values which shaped our past, and which we will need in an uncertain future.
Messrs. Harper and Day are the leader and shadow foreign minister, respectively, of the Canadian Alliance.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Suicide Pilots and Double Standards

By now, everyone has heard about the arrest (and subsequent release) of Jeff Monaghan. He's the self-styled anarchist and "Suicide Pilot" punk rocker who used his low level bureaucratic job at Environment Canada to leak information about Baird's recent Enviro-Sham, er Plan.

To be sure, this guy marches to beat of his own drummer. And if he broke the law, he should face discipline commensurate to the extent of his violations. But the very public spectacle of his arrest by the RCMP and the smug satisfaction of political thugs like John Baird raises some valid questions.

Has the RCMP become politicized? Given some of its recent problems, that wouldn't be hard to imagine. After all, what was the purpose of marching in and arresting him in public - other than to create some kind of media stunt?

Do the Conservatives have a double-standard? This is more of a rhetorical question. Of course they do. But now, it applies specifically to the issue of "whistleblowers", or those who leak government documents. Hang 'em High Baird and associates are quite happy to villify the hapless Monaghan. Says Baird, the RCMP was called because the government was concerned about breaches of the public service ethics.

But what about Jeff Kroeker? Who? He was the former senior aide to Senate government leader Marjorie LeBreton who leaked hotel bills and other documents about other senators to the media.

"an all-party committee report concluded that [LeBreton's] then-assistant, Mr. Kroeker, admitted he gathered personal information on senators and leaked it to CTV, CBC and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation"

Not surprisingly, LeBreton had no comment on the issue yesterday. And the punishment for Mr. Kroeker? A strict finger wagging from an all-party committee report!

“Mr. Kroeker's conduct in gathering and disseminating the information was inappropriate and unethical,” the committee report states.

So, while Jeff Kroeker happily goes about his new job (director of communications to Helena Guergis), Jeff Monaghan is arrested in public and later released by the RCMP. The price one pays for being an anarchist...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

USA vs Cuba: Almost 50 Years of Success!!

Michael Moore is making headlines again. In advance of the Cannes premiere of his new documentary "Sicko", he is being investigated by the US Treasury Department. The reason? A trip he took to Cuba during filming of the documentary.

The USA is approaching a half century of dimwitted foreign policy with respect to the small communist island. This seems to be news to the troglodytes in the Bush administration, who issued a report in June of 2006 patting themselves on the back and suggesting that their plan was working. Assuming their "plan" was to wait for 50 years until the death of Fidel Castro by natural causes, then yes, I would have to concede that they are succeeding. But to any thinking observer, their muddled policy of isolation, aborted invasions, and failed attempts to assassinate or overthrow Castro has been nothing but a total disaster.

One such enlightened observer is Wayne S. Smith. A Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy, Smith has in the past served as Cuba analyst in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Third Secretary of Political Affairs in the American Embassy in Havana, Director of Cuban Affairs in the Department of State, and Chief of the U.S. Interests Section Havana. Of the July 10 2006 report, Smith writes:

" says: "Chronic malnutrition, polluted drinking water, and untreated chronic diseases continue to affect a significant percentage of the Cuban people." And of course adds that: "Conditions will not improve as long as Fidel Castro remains in power." Never mind that UN indices consistently indicate Cuba's population to be considerably healthier than those of most neighboring states, including the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico--one reason being that they have free health care. It is interesting to note also that life expectancy for Cubans is five years longer than for African-Americans!"

Indeed a quick scan of the World Health Organization website demonstrates that Cuba has the same average life expectancy and child mortality rates as the USA. In 2004 the Bush administration put together a Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba. This organization produced a 500 page report which, incredibly, was little more than a recipe book for interfering in the political affairs of a sovereign state. Says Smith:

"[It was] a 500-page action plan for the removal of the Castro government and for what sounded worryingly like the US occupation of Cuba: how to make their trains run on time, how to reorganise their schools, and so on. Shortly thereafter, it even appointed a US "transition coordinator". As Jose Miguel Insulza, the Chilean secretary general of the Organisation of American States remarked, "But there is no transition - and it isn't your country."

The administration (and scores of rabid anti-Castro Cubans living in the USA) predicted that with the end of Fidel Castro's rule, would come a "people's revolution" of sorts. Raul Castro, it was thought, would never be accepted by Cubans. As has become the habit of the Bush administration, it was wrong again.

"Seeming to follow Miami's lead, however, the Bush administration has refused to accept the transition. It refuses to deal with Raul, as it had earlier refused to deal with Fidel. This is especially unfortunate for there is considerable evidence that Raul is more pragmatic than his brother and might be open to some degree of accommodation with Washington. That was something at least worth exploring, but following its usual pattern, the Bush administration simply closed the door."

As Smith concludes, Bush's Cuba policy has been an abject failure. Contrary to its intentions, it has likely served to toughen the resolve of Cuba's government and its people to resist interference from the USA. And investigating Michael Moore's visit to Cuba has likely served only to create more publicity for his upcoming film. The ironies abound.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Getting Their Man?

Its been a bad stretch for the RCMP. The beleaguered icon of Canadian policing has been taking it on the chin ever since former Commissioner Zaccardelli was forced to resign after allegations of lying to a parliamentary committee over the mishandling of the Maher Arar affair. Next up - allegations of corruption through the highest ranks of RCMP officers.

And ongoing is the Air India inquiry. It seems that witnesses are almost daily revealing the depth and the history of incompetence and mismanagement within the RCMP. The latest shocking testimony is from Serge Carignan a veteran member of the RCMP canine unit. On the night of the Air India bombing, he had been summoned to Mirabel airport to inspect the ill-fated flight with his bomb sniffing dog. He was shocked to see that when he arived, the flight had already been allowed to leave. In the intervening years, both the RCMP and the Ministry of Transport had provided written assurances that the plane and its contents had been inspected by a bomb-sniffing dog prior to departure. These "assurances" are now known to have been false. You can read about the litany of investigative travesties here.

I don't know how the bright light of exposure will affect the fate of this historic institution. Many believe that the RCMP has been decaying for years, its mandate squeezed between CSIS and Provincial and local police forces. I tend to agree with this. But as unpalatable as it is to hear, the airing of the RCMP's dirty laundry is a necessary first step to understanding what went wrong on that fateful night in 1985. On a personal level, it will allow some closure for the victims' families. And on a policy level, it will play an important role in determining what role if any the RCMP will have in the future policing of this nation.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Currency of Fear

I like Michael Moore. I'm not afraid to say it. Yes, he has his flaws, and I can readily admit as much. But in general he is forthright and opinionated and is an effective mouthpiece for liberal values in the United States. Bowling for Columbine was one of his finer works. Though it was ostensibly about gun violence, its central thesis was that America exists in a perpetual haze of fear. Fear of everyone and everything. One need only scan the headlines from major US networks to see evidence of this (eg. Lou Dobbs' "Broken Borders", GWB's "Terror threat levels" etc). Fear has fueled most major historical events in the USA - fear of blacks, fear of Communism, fear of illegal immigrants, fear of Muslims, and the list goes on.

Well today the Star reports yet another example of the pervasive paranaoia that grips our neighbours to the south. It appears that US army contractors travelling in Canada in 2005 and 2006 were shocked and more than a little suspicious about the presence of our commemorative red poppy quarters in their pant pockets. Accoring to the article, the U.S. Defense Security Service warned "that mysterious coins with radio transmitters appeared to have been planted" to spy on their unsuspecting citizens. (No doubt to facilitate some nefarious Canadian plot to overthrow their government and install William Shatner as their President).

One contractor marvelled that the coin didn't seem to have a power source, but was filled with some sort of "nano-technology."
Says John Pike, a security analyst at

"And you wonder why our war effort isn't going too well"

Monday, May 7, 2007

Let's Go! Kurdistan

Sometimes browsing the conservative side of the blogosphere is a revealing exercise. In amongst the rolling pastures of idiocy, it's possible to find some bloggers that slide under even the basest of expectations. Take this nugget, for example, posted yesterday on Canadian Blue Lemons.

It seems that 'Lemon' has some issues with the CBC. Specifically, a piece on CBC Sunday Edition by Michael Enright detailing the numerous failures in the ongoing human tragedy of Iraq. According to Lemon, the piece was "certainly the most uninformed, biased report on Iraq to which I have ever been an audience" . I guess dear Lemon has never been an audience to reports on Iraq by virtually anyone at FOX news. You can catch just a sampling of FOX lies and distortions here.

Still according to Lemon, life in Mesopotamia is pretty rosy these days. How good?

"...reports I get from US soldiers say that people in Baghdad live pretty normal lives - the kids go to school every day, Dad goes to work and Mom to the market. Every week or so there's some gunfire or bomb noise somewhere within earshot and people go inside for an hour or two."

Sounds like life is pretty sweet in Baghdad, no? Well, except for the bombs and gunfire...but c'mon, you can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs! (As long as they're Iraqi eggs).
This type of colossal ignorance is hard to forgive and even harder to understand. Nervermind that it's also factually incorrect. U.S. officials have admitted that not even the Green Zone in Baghdad is safe. And John McCain had to retract comments he made about being able to stroll around safely in Baghdad markets. For a complete listing of the ongoing injuries and deaths in Iraq, you can check this site.

But the icing on the top of this particular fruitcake is this pearl:

"And he fails to mention how Kurdistan has become a tourist hot spot."

The link given to support this outrageous claim is the webpage for Kurdistan Tourism. I find it hard to believe that even the most fanatical, fringe-element, lunatic right wing crackpots could buy that Kurdistan is now a tourist "hotspot". And if a tourism website is all one needs to claim such an honour, then I would direct Lemon to Syria.

Happy Travels!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Ontario to be Partitioned!!

Or so says Randy Hillier, the new Progressive Conservative nominee for the Lanark Frontenac Lennox/Addington riding in Ontario. Actually, he says and does a lot of crazy things. He's the type of right-wing nutjob that even Rob Anders would envy.

Here are his thoughts on partitioning the Province of Ontario:

"For rural Ontario to breathe freely once again the urban political noose must be cut from its neck, and a new province formed, liberated from the tyranny of the silent mob majority. A new provincial legislature, complete with its own constitution, that promotes justice, freedom and protection of private property and liberty, without infringing upon others is the answer."

On the Rule of Law:

"To all of the people who are clamouring and supporting these abuses, and cheering for greater safety: what will you say, when you are imprisoned, or fined for having a beer in your backyard, eating fatty foods, or creating smoke from your BBQ? What will you do when your child is taken away, or your house expropriated?"

On the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA):

"It is becoming increasingly clear and evident that the CFIA is being manipulated by Corporate Canada to eliminate competition and monopolize the food industry...The latest assault against small bakeries cannot, and will not be tolerated. The Landowners and rural people will not comply with CFIA’s increasing appetite for the cannibalism of rural Canada."

In 2005, Hillier organized a tractor convoy protest which jammed highways around Toronto. Incensed at the lack of government action on "nuisance deer" in Lanark county, his Lanark Landowners Association shot a deer, named it "Leona", then sent a picture of it to Environment Minister Leona Dombrowski. "Yeah, I think that got our point across," Hillier said.

All of this is undoubdetdly a concern for provincial PC leader John Tory. Only last week, Tory stated that if elected Premier, he would sue anyone engaging in illegal protests or blockades, including "farmers protesting government policy".

You can't make this stuff up.