Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Volpemania Running Wild

Pundits tend to dismiss Joe Volpe as a greasy Italian ward-heeler with a knack for dirty politics and little else. But do not be deceived by the pundit's dismissals, for he is proving himself to be the most fitting heir to the Liberal tradition of winning power at all costs:

The national Liberal Party said yesterday it has no reason to investigate donations to leadership candidate Joe Volpe from current and former executives of a generic drug firm and their relatives, but some Liberal MPs said they have qualms about accepting money from minors.

Mr. Volpe has received donations of $5,400 each from five current and former executives of Apotex Inc. and 15 of their relatives, including some who are under 18.

Companies are banned by law from donating money to a federal leadership campaign and individuals cannot donate more than $5,400. The law also prohibits individuals from donating money on behalf of someone else.


Mr. Volpe came under fire on another front yesterday, when Toronto MP Roy Cullen accused organizers for the former immigration minister of selling 125 party memberships in his riding and taking over his riding association. Mr. Cullen, the MP for Etobicoke North, supports Maurizio Bevilacqua for the leadership.

Mr. Cullen said he was caught off guard when the new members, many from the Sikh community, showed up at his riding's annual general meeting last Thursday and elected a new president and slate of 17 other executive members.

“You could see when they arrived at the meeting it was all pretty well organized,” said Mr. Cullen, who has been an MP since a 1996 by-election and was involved in Liberal politics before then. “But I didn't think for a minute they'd try to take over the association.”

Having one of Toronto's most politically faithful ethnic blocs and the largest generic drug manufacturer in Canada in one's corner makes Volpe a force to be reckoned with. And where better than at an actually competitive leadership race, in which Volpe can play kingmaker--or come up the middle of the pack the way Joe Clark did?

The prospect of Joe Volpe as Liberal leader should have us all very worried. He can't win on debates or ideas, but he can win on sheer political gamesmanship.

Source: Globe and Mail

Perv Party

This being Holland, it probably isn't a joke.

And this being Canada, the courts will probably find that pedophilia, bestiality, prime-time TV pornography and public nudity are all Charter rights.


UPDATE: The Quebec Court of Appeal didn't call it a Charter right, but they did say it didn't make him that bad a person.

Inter Arma Silent Leges

International law regarding prisoners of war has yet to catch up with the new realities of fighting Islamic terrorism: their combattants are not members of any state's armed forces, yet they are not simply common criminals.

Instead of recommending positive change to international conventions governing the treatment of these people, the anti-war crowd has preferred to shriek incessantly about the "illegality" and "brutality" of the detention of Taliban fighters in Guantanamo Bay.

And now they'll start shrieking that we're following the American example:

Canadian troops in Afghanistan have been told the Geneva Conventions and Canadian regulations regarding the rights of prisoners of war don't apply to Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters captured on the battlefield.

That decision strips detainees of key rights and protections under the rules of war, including the right to be released at the end of the conflict and not to be held criminally liable for lawful combat.

“The whole purpose of those regulations is to know if Geneva applies,” said Amir Attaran, a law professor at the University of Ottawa who has been pressing the Defence Department for details of its detainee policy for months.

The 1991 Canadian regulations — developed during the Persian Gulf war — included provisions to hold tribunals to determine a detainee's status under Geneva if there is any doubt.

Captured fighters don't deserve these rights because this isn't a war between countries, says Lieutenant-General Michel Gauthier, who commands the Canadian Expeditionary Forces Command and thus oversees all Canadian Forces deployed abroad.

“They are not entitled to prisoner-of-war status but they are entitled to prisoner-of-war treatment,” he said, asserting that all detainees are humanely treated.

“The regulations apply in an armed conflict between states, and what's happening in Afghanistan is not an armed conflict between states. And therefore there is no basis for making a determination of individuals being prisoners of war,” he said.

A reasonable policy, and one that matches up with current practice established by the U.S.:treat the detainees as if they were POWs without calling them POWs.

It's the best that can be done until there's a formal review of the Geneva Conventions.

But it's so much easier to slag our armed forces instead of developing solutions to this vexing problem.

Source: Globe and Mail

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

From My Cold Dead Hands

Given the remarkable success of the long gun registry in reducing firearms-related crimes, it only stands to reason that a breast implant registry will be no less successful in whatever it's supposed to do:

Today, NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North) introduced a Private Member’s Bill to establish a National Breast Implant Registry to protect women’s health.

“Breast implants have been shown in the past to pose a serious health risk to women, yet we are lacking the basic tools for independent monitoring to keep track of their health impacts,” said Wasylycia-Leis. “The NDP and women’s health organizations have been pushing for a registry for years. We even have Health Canada’s own Expert Advisory Panel backing a registry, yet there was nothing in the budget to support this. Is women’s health protection not on the Conservative radar screen?”

NDP Health Critic Penny Priddy (Surrey North), joined Wasylycia-Leis at a news conference to publicize the new bill.

“Safeguarding women’s health should be this government’s priority,” said Priddy. “And this registry will fill an important gap in women’s health protection. The possible reintroduction of silicone breast implants makes the establishment of this monitoring tool even more compelling. We need the data a registry alone can provide in order to accurately assess the long-term risks and to co-ordinate a response, should problems arise.”

Perhaps we could keep the gun registry employees working by retraining them to run this new breast implant registry. Complete with application vetting and personal inspection.

And public database access, of course. Doesn't the public have the right to know who's packing?

Source: New Democratic Party

Coming To Terms

Piecemeal Senate reform will neither satisfy those who want the Senate either abolished or made triple-E yesterday, but given the constitutional constraints barring full-out reform, this may be the best the Conservative government can do:

The federal government will unveil legislation today to reform the Senate, but will not go so far as to include a program for electing senators.

Sources told The Globe and Mail that the bill, which will be accompanied by House of Commons legislation calling for fixed election dates, will not include a timetable for when Prime Minister Stephen Harper will call the first election to the Senate.

That leaves the possibility that he will introduce changes that would limit the amount of time a senator can sit in the chamber, a move for which many Tories and members of the former Reform Party have clamoured and that could pave the way for elections in the future.


Establishing a term limit may well pave the way for elections themselves.

Mr. Harper has already said he would never appoint a senator, meaning that, as senators leave the Red Chamber, numbers would shrink and vacancies would remain open.

Such a move also promises to be controversial, as senators would essentially be voting to limit their time in office.

I'm not so sure about the idea of forcing the provinces to endorse Senate reform by this form of attrition. Leaving seats vacant for years on end, thus denying provinces their full representation and hampering the work of the Senate, seems no less an abuse of the prime ministerial power of Senate appointment than stuffing the Senate full of cronies or giving out short-term appointments to reward old pals before they turn 75.

But political reality may dictate otherwise. Ontario and Quebec want no check on their domination of the House; the Atlantic provinces want no change to their over-representation; the West wants some way to register its disapproval of the current situation.

The Liberals will kill this bill in the Senate, of course, thus handing Harper a public relations victory and a reason to call for more thoroughgoing reform--keep the Grits from frustrating the will of the people!

In any event, the Red Chamber will never be the same.

Source: Globe and Mail

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Evil Amongst Us

A steady diet of Islamist propaganda, liberally seasoned with multicultural indifference or hostility towards the Canadian host culture, topped off with a few helpings of regular CBC viewing or university liberal arts courses, will eventually produce this:

Canada has its own crop of home-grown terrorists capable of acts like the deadly attacks on London’s transit system last summer, Canada’s spy agency says.

“I can tell you that all of the circumstances that led to the London transit bombings . . . are resident here and now in Canada,” Jack Hooper, operations director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, told a Senate committee Monday.


Hooper pointed to several examples of people who had lived in Canada, and later took part in terrorist attacks. He said a common thread was time spent training at terror camps in Afghanistan.

“When we talk about the homegrown terrorist phenomenon, these are people. . . in most instances who are Canadian citizens,” said the CSIS deputy. “You can’t remove them anywhere.

“Most of them are very young. A lot of them were born here. A lot of them who were not born here emigrated to Canada with their parents at a very young age.”

We cannot even assume that they are all first-generation Canadians of Middle Eastern descent.

Some of them may be John Walker Lindh types--white Anglo-Saxon Canadians looking for answers and direction in life and finding them at the local radical mosque.

If and when Islamic terror strikes Canada, its foot soldiers will be Canadian-born and educated.

Source: Toronto Star

Missing Diplomat's Body Found

Somehow, this story reminds me of The Third Man .

Kauft Nicht Bei Juden

Sid Ryan leads CUPE into the fight against Israel.

I'm sure the Palestinian Authority is grateful for the support.

Everything Sid Ryan touches turns to dust.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Price Of Justice

The Court Party was horrified at the lèse majesté committed by Stephen Harper when he had his first Supreme Court nominee subjected to a little gentle questioning by vulgar politicians.

Now it is sounding the alarm at the latest attack on its prerogatives: the reduction of a proposed pay raise!

Stephen Harper's Conservative government is expected to tell the country's 1,100 federally appointed judges next week that they will not receive a promised pay raise of almost 11% because it is too rich when compared to the Canadian average.

The rejection of an independent commission's recommendation is bound to spark an angry outcry from judges, who say the government would be turning its back on the principle of judicial independence.

The government is seeking a "middle-ground option," that is more in line with the rise in the cost of living, said a government insider.


Two years ago, the commission recommended a salary increase of almost 19% over four years: 10.8% in the first year and mandated cost-of-living increases in the remaining three.

The recommendations would immediately increase judges' salaries to $240,000 from $219,400. Chief and associate chief justices would earn $263,000. Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, would earn $308,400 and the other eight Supreme Court judges would each receive $285,600.


Justice Robert Blair, president of the Canadian Superior Court Judges Association, said he has written Mr. Toews pleading the judges' case.

"Judicial independence is at stake here," said Judge Blair, an Ontario Court of Appeal judge.

"Judicial remuneration is supposed to be subject to this process that is designed to de-politicize the fixing of judicial salaries so they don't become a political football."

Judge Blair would not comment on what, if any, action the judges will take if they do not receive their raise.

Mr. Justice Blair's fears for the principle of judicial independence are much exaggerated. His peers' salaries are not being cut for opposing the government's wishes, or raised as an inducement to support them, nor are they likely to be used as political weapons in the future.

Our judges will still get a raise, just not as much of one as they would like.

And they will still be within the top 1% of salary earners in Canada, with the added protection of being virtually unremovable.

And their work in dismantling Canadian society through their manipulations of the common law and interpretation of the Charter of Rights will continue unabated.

For if the judiciary is to be reined in, it will not be by taking away its pay raises but its powers.

Source: National Post

Blonde Bombshell

We were all surprised that Belinda Stronach did not jump into the Liberal leadership race. Lacking formal education, actual accomplishments and ideas, commitment to the party and fluency in French didn't stop the other candidates, so why should those problems have stopped her?

This may be the real reason she stayed out of the race.

Our relationship with the White House was rather cold under the previous government.

Imagine how much worse they'd be between President Hillary Clinton and Prime Minister Belinda Stronach.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Jane Taber: Hot? Not!

Giggling schoolgirl reporterette Jane Taber is not sitting idly by while PMO snubs her and the rest of her PPG pals. She's pounding the pavement and working her sources to provide the sort of hard-nosed political reporting needed to justify her salary and expense account:


Liberal: Hy's Steakhouse and cocktail bar; D'arcy McGee's Irish Pub on Sparks Street.

Conservative: Hy's Steakhouse (it underwent a renovation after the Tory victory, but with its dark wood and plush seating looks pretty much the same) and D'arcy McGee's continue to be favourites of all sorts and political stripes of staffers. The new power breakfast spot is the Sheraton Ottawa Hotel.



Liberal: Paul Martin wasn't fussy about who cut his hair and frequented different barbershops around town.

Conservative: Rinaldo's. It was the choice hair salon of the Mulroneys, and its haircutters are responsible for Stephen Harper's new election 'do.



Liberal: Paul Martin loved Kraft Dinner.

Conservative: Stephen Harper has been known to buy hot dogs from street vendors.

This is exactly what people have been looking for instead of the recycling of press releases and televised kabuki theatre. Well done, Jane! Maybe you'll make a real live reporter one day!

Source: The Annex's National Newspaper

Set The Date

Prime Ministers are not in the habit of freely conceding any of their considerable powers of office, especially for the naive ideal of democratic reform. No one seeks power with the intention of just giving it away.

So it's remarkable to see Stephen Harper willing to give up one of the greatest powers of office by calling for fixed election dates:

The Conservative government will bring legislation before the House of Commons as early as Monday to set fixed dates for federal elections and to reform Parliament's upper chamber, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says.

The prime minister said yesterday his government will introduce a bill next week that will include a provision to send Canadians back to the polls in the fall of 2009, but because Mr. Harper leads a minority government, he is bound to hold an election if opposition parties express a lack of confidence in the government.

Expect the Liberals to defend the status quo that has usually served them pretty well, regardless of whether it actually serves the country. (Hey, isn't that awfully Tory of them, in the old pejorative sense of the word?)

"We would like to see this approached in an adult way instead of rushing into some violent change in an unstable political climate where nobody has a strong majority and where Canadians haven't completely firmed up their opinions on what type of government they want," Liberal leader Bill Graham said.

He criticized the Harper government for forcing issues of great importance -- such as the recent extension of the military mission in Afghanistan -- on parliamentarians while giving them little time to adopt a firm position.

"It tends to grab issues of tremendous depth like this and say now we're going to rush everybody into having to make an immediate decision as a way of being partisan rather than saying that this reflects the long-term good of our democracy."

In other words: Canadians didn't really want to vote us out, and it would be unfair to deny them the quick exercise of buyer's remorse.

But with the Bloc and NDP on side, fixed election dates will likely pass.

It will not do damage to the Westminster parliamentary system of government; governments can still fall and be forced to the polls on a non-confidence vote. The Governor General will still have the power to dissolve Parliament; he or she will just have to do so at a time fixed in law.

Nor will it extend campaigns to the lengths that American election campaign run. The primary system, not fixed election dates, is the reason why their campaigns go on interminably. When conventions actually nominated candidates from the floor instead of ratifying the primary's choice, campaigns were not much longer than they are now in Canada.

And floating election dates have not stopped shadow campaigns in Canada either: witness Paul Martin's prolonged campaign from the spring of 2005. And when majority governments get close to the four-year mark, the shadow campaign gets into full gear with speeches, policy platform declarations, nomination meetings, fundraisers and spending announcements.

Fixed election dates would also prevent unpopular majority governments from stretching their mandate out to five years to stave off inevitable electoral disaster, often with worse results than if they had gone to the polls in year four.

Would the PCs have been obliterated in the fall of 1992 in the same way they were in the fall of 1993, without another year for people to get sick of them and for Reform and the Bloc to consolidate their positions?

Fixing election dates will prevent prime ministers from manipulating the House in the same fashion that they can manipulate the Senate with the power of sole appointment. It is a concession of illiberal power. Free government demands no less.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Friday, May 26, 2006

Adscam Amateur Hour

One of the most egregious rationalizations of the sponsorship program's defenders was it even if millions of dollars were stolen from the taxpayers, they still got value for money.

By that reasoning, if my neighbour steals my hedge clippers to clean up the ratty old thornbush dividing our properties, I should be pleased with his theft:

Chuck Guite paid $1.5 million in federal funds for advertising work that resembled the shoddy project of a failing first-year marketing student, an expert testified Friday.

The Crown finished its case against Guite with the testimony of Jacques Nantel, a marketing and communications strategy expert who tore apart three reports that cost the federal sponsorship program about $500,000 each.

The reports were supposed to examine the effectiveness of sponsorships and explore new opportunities but were nearly useless with no criticism, no analysis, no sources and little evidence of research, he said.

"Such an approach in an introductory marketing class at the undergraduate level would deserve a failure," Nantel said, describing Groupaction Marketing Inc.'s so-called plan to boost the visibility of Canada in the Maritimes and Quebec.

Of course, that assumes that the reports were intended to be used as something other than a vehicle for money laundering.

If the money got laundered to the right pockets, and that was the point of Adscam, then surely Adscam was a success by its own lights, right?

Until they got caught.

Source: Canoe


Theodore Dalrymple is perhaps the finest modern chronicler of social decay and the underclass, albeit from a most unsymapthetic perspective that upsets liberal pieties that absolve the underclass from any responsibility for its suffering.

Now he is standing conventional wisdom about opiate addiction on its head:

Heroin doesn't hook people; rather, people hook heroin. It is quite untrue that withdrawal from heroin or other opiates is a serious business, so serious that it would justify or at least mitigate the commission of crimes such as mugging. Withdrawal effects from opiates are trivial, medically speaking (unlike those from alcohol, barbiturates or even, on occasion, benzodiazepines such as valium), and experiment demonstrates that they are largely, though not entirely, psychological in origin. Lurid descriptions in books and depictions in films exaggerate them à la De Quincey (and also Coleridge, who was a chronic self-dramatizer).

I have witnessed thousands of addicts withdraw; and, notwithstanding the histrionic displays of suffering, provoked by the presence of someone in a position to prescribe substitute opiates, and which cease when that person is no longer present, I have never had any reason to fear for their safety from the effects of withdrawal. It is well known that addicts present themselves differently according to whether they are speaking to doctors or fellow addicts. In front of doctors, they will emphasize their suffering; but among themselves, they will talk about where to get the best and cheapest heroin.

Advocates of so-called "safe" injection sites for heroin addicts should give heed to Dr. Dalrymple's article. If we've all been played for fools about heroin addiction, then the best way to curb the heroin problem is not more programs and methadone but a swift kick.

Source: Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

Flagged Down

There is no thrill quite like the adrenaline rush from racing down the highway at a hundred miles an hour at the edge of disaster. Unless you're everybody else on the highway.

Speed demons will have to pull off the road or face the even more exciting challenge of the criminal justice system:

Street racers who put innocent lives at risk should lose their cars, lose their licence for life and spend time in jail, say police and others battling a deadly street racing culture that has claimed 31 lives in Greater Toronto since 1999.

Police and safety advocates were quick to chime in after Prime Minister Stephen Harper vowed yesterday to create a new Criminal Code offence for street racing and stiffer sentences aimed at curbing wild and extreme driving.


But the devil is in the details, say advocates. Catching speeders is one thing, but police have found that proving they were racing is much more difficult. They hope this new law will lessen the burden of proof, says Brian Patterson, president of the Ontario Safety League.

"Every time they tried to do this in the past, they get themselves caught up in what constitutes a race," said Patterson. "Did money change hands? Do you have to have onlookers, do you have to have wagers, do you have to drop a flag? Was there an agreement between parties? Is winking at each other at a stop light and racing like hell to the next set of lights, does that constitute a race?"

"Excessive speed should be sufficient to warrant the sanctions identified."

Everybody else on the road didn't ask to join the race and risk injury or death.

Take it to the track. Just take it off the streets.

Source: Toronto Star

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Crap Work

Finding a cure for AIDS is a noble scientific endeavour. But like many such endeavours, a lot of difficult and inglorious work must be done before such efforts bear fruit.

Like poking through chimpanzee shit:

RESEARCHERS who picked up and analysed wild chimp droppings said today they had shown how the AIDS virus originated in wild apes in Cameroon and then spread in humans across Africa and eventually the world.
Their study, published in the journal Science, supports other studies that suggest people somehow caught the deadly human immunodeficiency virus from chimpanzees, perhaps by killing and eating them.

"It says that the chimpanzee group that gave rise to HIV ... this chimp community resides in Cameroon," said Beatrice Hahn of the University of Alabama, who led the study.

"But that doesn't mean the epidemic originated there because it didn't," said Ms Hahn, who has been studying the genetic origin of HIV for years.


Her international team got the cooperation of the government in Cameroon and they hired skilled trackers.

"The chimps in that area are hunted. It's certainly impossible to see them. It is hard to track them and find these materials," she said.

But the trackers managed to collect 599 samples of droppings. Ms Hahn's lab found DNA, identified each individual chimp and then found evidence of the virus.

"We went to 10 field sites and we found evidence of infection in five. We were able to identify a total of 16 infected chimps and we were able to get viral sequences from all of them," Ms Hahn said.

Up to 35 per cent of the apes in some communities were infected. Not only that, they could find different varieties, called clades, of the virus.

How many of us sickened of biology in grade ten because we were too disgusted by dissecting frogs? Let us be thankful for those of us who not only weren't repulsed but were also actually enthralled by digging around in frog guts.

For such are the breed that will one day find the cure for this scourge of sub-Saharan African tribes and San Francisco bathhouses!


Ralph Klein is going out of office kicking and screaming, making threats he can't possibly back up, an inglorious and disgraceful end to a long and successful premiership:

Alberta would pull out of the federal equalization program rather than see the other provinces benefit from its oil and natural gas resources, Premier Ralph Klein said.

Klein said on Wednesday he's ready to fight with the eastern provinces to keep Alberta's resource revenues out of the equalization program, which sends federal money to poorer provinces so they can provide services such as health care.

At a meeting next month, other premiers are expected to suggest that Alberta's oil revenues can be included in the calculations that determine how much cash each province gets from Ottawa.

"This is political showdown," Klein said. "This is also a constitutional issue. Alberta has control and authorization and authority over its resources."

Years ago, this stance would have made Klein even more of a hero in Alberta than he was.

He may be right, politically and legally, but coming from a lame-duck premier rolled by his own party, it sounds like the last boasts of victory from the Fuehrerbunker.

Source: CBC

Ride The Rocket

Travelling the TTC becomes less appealling with each passing day. Anyone who rides the subway cattle cars to work and back can tell you why; it's standing room only, passengers are getting more belligerent and less considerate, and at every stop the drivers have to tell people not to charge the doors and let people off before boarding.

Now it's going to become a target for turnstile jumpers and other losers who don't want to pay their fare:

The TTC is free, if you want it.

Bus and streetcar drivers are no longer going to make sure you pay your fare as a long-simmering battle between the TTC and its union erupted yesterday with a job action that could result in free rides for the public and the loss of millions of dollars in revenue for the transit authority.

"It will be up to the travelling public whether or not they want to make a contribution to the box," said Bob Kinnear, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which represents 8,500 TTC workers.

Rick Ducharme, the chief general manager of the TTC, called Kinnear's job action "irresponsible" while saying it was "premature" to calculate lost revenues.


According to a 2005 TTC task force on driver safety, 70 per cent of drivers had been assaulted in their career. Operators complain they are routinely kicked, punched, slapped, verbally abused and spit upon and suffer from mental distress, physical pain and worry about the spread of disease through saliva.

"Imagine what Loblaws would do if some of its customers started slapping or punching or spitting on cashiers because they were unhappy with Loblaws' prices of service," said Kinnear.

Kinnear called it a matter of "self-defence" given that TTC statistics indicate assaults against operators rose 31 per cent between 1999 and 2003, culminating last October in the shooting of a bus driver in the Morningside-Old Finch-Ave. area. in the northeast section of the city.

Let the passengers loose on some of these bums the way the passengers on Flight 93 turned on the hijackers and the TTC really will become the better way. We're all getting fed up with the riffraff like people begging on the subway cars, kids screaming obscenities at the top of their lungs, drunks looking for fights and just all-round jerks.

Make the TTC a pleasant ride again!

Source: Toronto Star

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Followers of the MSM's self-referential reporting about the titanic death struggle between PMO and PPG might be excused for thinking that Stephen Harper has decided to declare war on freedom of the press.

But this is a battle now in which increasingly the PPG no longer holds all the weapons of public persuasion. A proliferation of alternate media sources--including us humble bloggers--now puts PMO on a much more even footing against the PPG and its allies.

And now he's playing divide and conquer. If the official PPG doesn't want to play by the rules, he'll create a new PPG out of the ranks of local media:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the national media are biased against him so he will avoid them from now on.

The prime minister says the Ottawa press gallery seems to have decided to become the opposition to his Conservative government.

He told a London, Ont., TV station Wednesday that he is having problems with the media that a Liberal prime minister would never have to face.

So Harper says he will take his message out on the road and deal with the less hostile local media.

"Unfortunately the press gallery has taken the view they are going to be the opposition to the government," Harper told London's A-Channel.

"They don't ask questions at my press conferences now.

"We'll just take the message out on the road. There's lots of media who do want to ask questions and hear what the government is doing."

At some point, the media is going to run out of angles on this story, and will find itself trying frantically to get back in the government's good graces. But they may have left it too late.

Moreover, by hiving off smaller media outlets from their ranks with increased access and opportunities for stories, the press will be facing divided ranks. Do you think reporters in Saskatoon and Sydney are going to turn down their newfound fortune to stand in solidarity with their starving brethren in the Ottawa press corps?

PPG will have none but itself to blame for being ostracized.

And isn't it sweet to see a PM not admit Liberal media bias, but also do something about it!

Source: Yahoo

A Monument To Cowardice

I am surprised that no one has yet tried to draw an analogy between the Vietnam War draft dodgers and the United Empire Loyalists.


But no doubt someone will, once this statue is unveiled:

The statue and what it honoured — young Americans dodging the Vietnam War draft by coming to Canada — created an international kerfuffle two years ago and has since been shuffled between municipalities who found it too controversial.

But it now has a home.

The art will be housed in a private gallery in Nelson, B.C., and should be on view when a long-planned reunion of Vietnam War draft resisters — also known as draft dodgers — is held this summer.

Some organizers involved in the four-day Our Way Home Peace Event and Reunion in July were in Vancouver on Tuesday to show the media a clay likeness of the 2.7-metre bronze statue.

The statue depicts a Canadian welcoming with open arms two Americans.

“This piece is also coming forward at a time when there is terrific militarism in the world and it's showing Americans who came out of conscience, who took another path,” reunion organizer Isaac Romano said.

What harsh reprisals did the draft dodgers face in the unlikely event that their draft number got called up and they were ordered deployed to Vietnam?

A firing squad? Torture? Imprisonment of their families?

No, just a short jail sentence and after the war, a generous amnesty!

And for running away from such relatively lenient treatment, they are called men of conscience!

Cowardice doth make consciences for us all.

Source: Globe and Mail

PS: Will there ever be raised, if such does not already exist, a statue to U.S. Civil War draft dodgers? Or to American volunteers who came north to fight in World War I three years before the U.S. entered it? Didn't think so.

Priorities, Priorities

$40 million to try to bring peace to and relieve the suffering of the people of Darfur.

Not one red cent for the starving masses of the besieged Parliamentary Press Gallery.

We all know whose plight matters more.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Walk Out

The Parliamentary Press Gallery's struggle against Stephen Harper has reached new depths with a mass walkout on the Prime Minister's press conference:

The parliamentary press gallery launched its latest salvo Tuesday in an ongoing cold war with the Harper government over media access and procedures for reporting on federal politics.

Prior to the start of a news conference in which Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Canada would contribute $40 million in humanitarian and military assistance to the war-torn Sudanese region of Darfur, members of the press gallery simultaneously got up and left, moments before the prime minister arrived in the room, in an act of defiance against new news conference rules imposed against the media.

Harper has come under fire from the media in recent months for limiting the parliamentary press gallery from having access to certain events and federal personalities.

The press has always been quick to raise its perception that Stephen Harper doesn't understand media optics, but it appears that the PPG experts couldn't master their own good press.

Walking out on a conference about such a serious subject as the Darfur horror demonstrates a lack of professionalism and a flippant disregard for the very subject about which the PPG and company have been going on for months now.

In the public eye, PPG now looks like a bunch of spoiled children, and PMO looks more professional and forbearing than before.

Worse still, it underscores the very pettiness of PPG's complaints against PMO. Its members are not being censored, fired, sued, prosecuted, fined or jailed for giving the government bad press; they aren't even being prevented from doing their jobs properly. The public will not see how a few slight inconveniences to PPG represent a threat to freedom of the press and democracy; they'll see journalists' inflated egos getting the better of them.

But in the end, PPG will come around. They always do. There's only one Parliament to cover, after all.

Source: Global TV

Yet Another Poll

We should not delight too much in the results of this poll, just as we should not have despaired whenever previous polls had the numbers the other way round not so long ago.

But we can take away two salient points from it.

First: The government is still enjoying its traditional honeymoon with the electorate, despite the parliamentary press gallery's valiant efforts to spoil it.

Second: You can't beat somebody with nobody. Don't expect Liberal numbers to rise and Conservative numbers to fall significantly until the Grits sort out their leadership mess. Then the gap will narrow.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Me Tarzan, You Jane

Adam Daifallah slices, dices, and fries Jane Taber, the giggling schoolgirl reporterette who's crossed over into downright hysteria against the Conservative government.

If she's trying to be Canada's answer to Helen Thomas, she has a long way to go yet.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Badge Of Shame

The government of Iran is furiously denying reports that it has passed a law requiring Jews, Christians and other religious minorities to wear specially coloured badges.

Well, they would, wouldn't they, just as they have denied every report of their advancing nuclear weapons program before publicly celebrating the next stage thereof.

A news story and column by Iranian-born analyst Amir Taheri in yesterday's National Post reported that the Iranian parliament had passed a sweeping new law this week outlining proper dress for Iran's majority Muslims, including an order for Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians to wear special strips of cloth.

According to the reports, Jews were to wear yellow cloth strips, called zonnar, while Christians were to wear red and Zoroastrians blue. The Simon Wiesenthal Center and Iranian expatriates living in Canada had confirmed the order had been passed, although it still had to be approved by Iran's "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenehi before being put into effect.

Hormoz Ghahremani, a spokesman for the Iranian embassy in Ottawa, said in an e-mail to the Post yesterday, "We wish to categorically reject the news item.

"These kinds of slanderous accusations are part of a smear campaign against Iran by vested interests, which needs to be denounced at every step."

And we all know who those vested interests are, wink wink, nudge nudge.

Expect confirmation of this measure presently. For these people's protection, of course, to make sure that they can be readily identified and "protected" from the mob.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Friday, May 19, 2006

Quod Deus Vult

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is writing to Pope Benedict XVI.

If this letter is like the one he wrote to George Bush, it will be a call for him to submit to Islam, or face war.

This might be an appropriate response from His Holiness to His Looniness.

We can still go mediaeval on him!

Guess Who's Not Coming To Dinner

The annual Parliamentary Press Gallery dinner is one of these Ottawa events that matters to nobody outside the incestuous Ottawa media and political circles. The Prime Minister is expected to attend and suffer through bad jokes about him, then get up and tell a few bad jokes about himself and his guests. Think of it as a Dean Martin celebrity roast for the Ottawa set.

Stephen Harper might not be coming this year, and while you might think that declining the invitation is not newsworthy, to the PPG, it's a slap in the face:

The prime minister may snub the annual Parliamentary Press Gallery dinner this fall, a move he's considering in order to register his displeasure with an ongoing disagreement his office has with Parliament Hill journalists over the way his press conferences ought to be conducted.

CTV News has learned that Stephen Harper plans to tell his caucus at a future meeting that he will not attend the dinner, to be held Nov. 25 at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Que.

He will not insist that other caucus members boycott the Press Gallery dinner but many Conservative MPs and nearly all cabinet ministers are expected not to attend the dinner to show solidarity with their boss.

A senior official with the Prime Minister's Office would not confirm that Harper will snub the press gallery, saying only that "his schedule is not set that far out."

Can you think a less newsworthy item for the coverage it's getting? Well, other than the gossip about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

The electorate will not care one way or another whether Stephen Harper goes to the PPG dinner or bowling that night. But PPG will, and they'll be even crankier towards him for a while because of it.

All over a black-tie rubber-chicken affair.

Source: CTV News

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Brokeback Mounties

Who the fuck would have believed this could ever happen in the RCMP?

On a Friday night in Yarmouth this June, Const. Jason Tree and Const. David Connors will don their scarlet dress uniforms, stand before family, friends and co-workers and wed in the first same-sex marriage in the RCMP’s storied history.

In an interview in their Meteghan home Wednesday afternoon, the men said they’ve had great support from the national police force, the community and their families.

"I’ve never had a single problem," said Const. Tree, 27, a native of Fredericton, who has worked in southwestern Nova Scotia for six years and is posted in Meteghan.

The pair, who’ve dated since meeting at the University of New Brunswick more than eight years ago, will be married by a justice of the peace at the Rodd Grand Hotel on June 30. Each will write his own vows, and each will have a best man. They expect plenty of fellow officers to attend and have yet to decide if they’ll have their colleagues form an honour guard for them. They plan to honeymoon in France and England.

Shaking my head here in disbelief. If the Mounties can be corrupted by this nonsense, there's no hope for any other institution.

Source: Halifax Chronicle-Herald

Two More Years

Parliament's narrow approval yesterday to extend Canada's commitment to the NATO mission in Afghanistan by two years was a great political victory for Stephen Harper, a gamble that came within an inch of being his greatest political defeat to date:

Canadian troops will spend two extra years fighting to bring democracy and security to Afghanistan’s most perilous corner after Prime Minister Stephen Harper won a tense political showdown over his divided opposition rivals.

A motion to extend the deployment barely passed 149 to 145 Wednesday night. The NDP, Bloc Quebecois and most Liberals, including key leadership candidates such as Stephane Dion, Ken Dryden and Joe Volpe, voted against it.

Other leadership candidates, Michael Ignatieff and Scott Brison, voted for the longer commitment in perilous Afghanistan, as did interim Liberal leader Bill Graham.

Former prime minister Paul Martin was absent.

The vote is a political victory for Harper, who can characterize the result as an indication of the will of Parliament, while exposing divisions within the Liberal ranks.


Harper defiantly announced he would extend the mission by a year even if he lost the vote, then win Canadians over on a second year when he next goes to the polls.

“We will proceed cautiously with a one-year extension,” Harper told MPs at the outset of a debate.

“We cannot walk away quickly. If we need further efforts or further mandate to go ahead into the future, we will do so alone and go to the Canadian people to get that mandate.”

It was the second time in as many days that a frustrated Harper held out the threat of an election after being thwarted by the opposition. On Tuesday, his choice for an appointments commission was rejected.

Harper cast the debate in terms of a debt that he said Parliament owes to Canadian troops, Canada’s allies and the Afghan people to finish the security and reconstruction job it started in Afghanistan.

Consider what would have happened had the vote gone the other way.

Stephen Harper would have been roundly damned for ignoring the will of Parliament by extending the Afghanistan commitment by another year anyway, then damned even further for calling for an election in 2008 on the Afghanistan issue.

Every pacifist and liberal apologist for Islamic terrorism and isolationism would have been congratulating themselves publicly for engineering the defeat, then starting up the protests to pull out now and not in 2007.

And we would have handed our enemies a significant propaganda victory.

But instead, the NDP and Bloc get to look like a bunch of isolationist peaceniks, the Liberals look divided, and the Conservatives look resolute.

And our enemies in Afghanistan will learn that Canada is not a nation of effete Europeanized cowards.

On with the mission, then!

Source: Toronto Star

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Manning Stands Down

Preston Manning will not seek the leadership of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party.

Jim Dinning's coronation may now proceed apace.

And the Alberta Alliance breathes an even bigger sigh of relief, now that it is not doomed to extinction as the most likely successor following the PC Party's eventual collapse.

Source: Globe and Mail

The Marrying Kind

Notorious polygamist Winston Blackmore is more right than he knows when he says this:

A U.S. polygamist on the FBI's most wanted list is probably in Canada, says his Canadian rival.

Winston Blackmore, who leads a breakaway Mormon polygamous sect based in Bountiful, B.C., says Warren Jeffs would be the "dumbest person if he weren't in Canada.''

Indeed. If Jeffs plays his cards right, he might just be granted refugee status on grounds of sexual orientation. He can't help being a polygamist; he was born that way, and American authorities are violating his fundamental human dignity and right to love whom he will.

And if he waits a little longer, he'll be able to legally marry all his wives.

At least one of the polygamous wives is demonstrating an understanding of how to play to the liberal elites who will eventually pass legal judgment on polygamy:

Among Blackmore's other legal difficulties, some of his wives face deportation back to the United States after their visitors' visas expired and requests to stay in Canada on compassionate grounds were rejected.

Marsha Chatwin said between three of them, they've had 16 Canadian children.

"We bring variety to Canadian culture,'' said Chatwin, who choked up as she added she lost her mother at eight years old.

"I'll never willingly have my children go through that.''

Just change variety to diversity and she'll have the clinching argument. If there's any word liberals love, it's diversity. Polygamy is a wonderful example of cultural diversity; many of our multi-cultures practice it in their ancestral homelands. Canada can't get enough diversity. What's more diverse than having a diversity of wives?

Let Canada be a beacon of tolerance and diversity for the whole world, including those men who were born to love more than one woman.

Source: Global TV

Da Vinci Blows

I have refrained from discussing The Da Vinci Code because I have figured that the hype surrounding the book and movie would eventually collapse of its own weight. Dan Brown's lack of literary ability and the ease with which his recycled theories can be debunked were bound to catch up with him, though not before duping many gullible folks into believing in them.

Brown may have been able to shrug off the condemnations of church leaders, literary critics and scholars, but one group's condemnation will finish him and his tripe off once and for all:

The Da Vinci Code" drew lukewarm praise, shrugs of indifference, some jeering laughter and a few derisive jabs Tuesday from arguably the world's toughest movie crowd: critics at the Cannes Film Festival.

The year's most anticipated movie, "The Da Vinci Code" was a generally faithful adaptation of Dan Brown's monster best seller, spinning a murder thriller that stems from a cover-up of secrets about Christianity's roots.

While readers worldwide devoured the novel, reaction from Cannes critics ranged from mild endorsement of its potboiler suspense to groans of ridicule over its heavy melodrama.

When the Cannes crowd speaks, movie reviewers and the industry listen. This spells death for any critical acclaim the film might receive: there will be no Oscars for The Da Vinci Code next year.

The Cannes jury verdict: guilty of mediocre movie making.

Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Auditor General Unloads On Gun Registry

Who could possibly have imagined that the former Liberal regime was keeping Parliament in the dark about the true cost of the gun registry? I certainly couldn't have:

Auditor-General Sheila Fraser is reporting that Parliament was in the dark about “significant costs” at the Canadian Firearms Centre from 2002 to 2004, while the Liberal government was in the midst of regime change.
In a special, separate section of her latest report, released officially today, Fraser chides the previous government for not reporting some $60 million in costs associated with obtaining a new information system for the controversial gun registry.

According to Fraser’s report, up to $39-million in estimated costs was not reported in 2002-03 while $21.8-million was not reported properly in 2003-04.

Though she doesn’t come out and say so directly, she hints that the government was trying to avoid a showdown in Parliament over the gun-registry costs. “Had these costs been recorded properly, the Canadian Firearms Centre would have needed to seek additional funding . . . to avoid overspending the limit authorized by Parliament,” Fraser is quoted as saying in a news release accompanying the report.


This newest look into the program shows that the total, net cost of the Canadian Firearms Centre is just under $1-billion - $946-million, or roughly $100-million for each of its 10 years of operation from 1995 to 2005.

Well, isn't that lovely. How many other hidden costs will we be finding in years to come from the previous government's creative accounting?

What the Liberals did may not have been technically lying to Parliament. But it would have gotten any corporate CFO canned, if only to save the skins of the board of directors.

And that isn't even the worst of it, according to Auditor General's report. These cost overruns weren't being run up to do the job--half the time, the gun registry had no targets for performance, or if they did, no proof that they met them or were trying to meet them:

4.35 We found that the Centre reported performance at a basic level in the more important and difficult areas—namely,

--stating performance targets,
--reporting results, and
--reporting how results will be used to improve future performance.

4.36 In particular, the Centre has not set any performance targets and has provided few examples of its outcomes. Instead of reporting the key results achieved, the Centre describes its activities and services.

4.37 We noted that in its 2003–04 report, the Centre estimated that almost 90 percent of all firearm owners had complied with the licensing regulations. However, it did not provide a corresponding estimate in its 2004–05 report. The Centre told us that it had been concerned because the estimate of compliance was based on information that was becoming outdated. In our opinion, it is important that the Centre either tell Parliament the level of compliance with the legislation or explain the difficulty of estimating it.

If you don't think the gun registry should be shut down after reading the AG's report, think again.

Source: Toronto Star

Talking Heads

Rarely can one glean valuable insights from an expert, no matter how articulate or knowledgable, from a 60-second interview on TV. Broadcasters would do just as well to stick any random idiot up there.

And to its credit, or discredit, BBC did just that:

A computer expert has described his astonishment at seeing the BBC's 24-hour news channel interview supposed taxi driver Guy Goma in the mistaken belief it was him.

Guy Kewney - a white, bearded technology expert - was astonished to see himself appear on screen as a black man with an apparent French accent. He was even more shocked to see himself unable to answer basic questions about the legal battle between the Beatles' Apple Corps and Apple Computer over the use of an apple symbol.

Mr Kewney, an IT journalist, watched as Mr Goma, whose identity remained a mystery until it was revealed on Monday night by the BBC, gamely attempted to answer questions fired at him by BBC consumer affairs correspondent Karen Bowerman.

Mr Goma, a graduate from the Congo, described his surprise interview ordeal as "very stressful". He found himself being ushered into a studio and fitted with a microphone after raising his hand when a producer called out the name Guy Kewney.

Watch the interview for proof. The cabbie handled himself perfectly well on the fly; the real expert would probably have been no more informative, if perhaps more articulate.

The fault here lies squarely on BBC for not checking this man's identity beforehand.

Kudos to Mr. Goma for showing up those lazy buggers at the Beeb.

Mail on Sunday

PS: This isn't the first time the BBC has been caught out like this: this prankster posing as a Dow Chemical spokesman promising to liquidate Union Carbide to pay for the Bhopal disaster forced BBC and Dow into serious damage control.

Shot Down

If a bill to shut down the long gun registry were to be put before the House today, the opposition parties would all unite to defeat it, and the Harper government would end up with a black eye it didn't need to give itself.

So for now, the Tories will do the next best thing: gut the registry before shutting it down:

The Harper government plans to fulfill its pledge to gut the federal long-gun registry by providing amnesty to gun owners who don't sign up and eventually unveiling legislation to eliminate it.

Auditor-General Sheila Fraser will release her report on the controversy-plagued registry today.

Sources said the amnesty would be announced imminently and legislation would come some time this spring. They were unclear what the legislation would say, but it's assumed the law would not get rid of the handgun registry, merely the portion of the registry that deals with long guns.

The Conservative election platform included an unequivocal promise to scrap the registry, but the minority government is concerned that it might lose a vote on legislation to kill it in the House of Commons, hence the apparent need to introduce an amnesty to make the registry essentially inoperable.

Sophisticated urbanites who can't tell the difference between a hunting rifle and a handgun will not be mollified by what appears to them to be playing games with the law. But everyone who's been refusing to register their rifles will be relieved by the amnesty, even if the chances of them having been caught before were microscopic.

Outright abolition of the registry will just have to wait for a majority government. Or for something that can be traded off to the opposition.

Source: Globe and Mail

Monday, May 15, 2006

Noblesse Oblige

Governor General Michaelle Jean has mastered the unwritten rule that the Canadian viceroy, far from being above petty politics at home, may also scold foreign governments and privileged persons when going abroad:

Governor General Michaëlle Jean's tour of Haiti continued on Monday as she me with the country's business elite in Port-au-Prince, where she scolded them for egotism, and urged them not to be selfish.

Selfishness, she declared, has to come to an end in Haiti. Her eyes welled with emotion when she talked about her return to the country where she was born.

Later, meeting with reporters, she was forceful about the plight of her homeland's children.

"You have children here in Haiti who are slaves. You have children who will never have a chance to go to school. You have children who will die of hunger. So when I am here, I see them," Jean said.

But on this trip Jean is a VIP and has spent most of her time, so far, meeting with the rich, the powerful and the privileged of Haiti. She bridled when asked why she's had so little contact with the country's poorest residents.

"You want me to go to Belair? I know Belair. I know Cité Soleil. I am from this country, I was born here."

But she avoided the question of why she hasn't visited those quarters.

One could hardly imagine the Queen being this rude to her hosts. Or any of our previous Governors General, for that matter, even the party hacks among them. She's brought all the worst parts of the CBC mentality to Rideau Hall--the insufferable moral superiority, the intellectual arrogance, and an all-round lack of social grace--and taken nothing from Rideau Hall's best traditions.

Heads of government can talk tough on government visits, but heads of state do not publicly slag their hosts on state visits. It just is not done.

Source: CBC

Eau De Fromage

The scent ladies have all been clamouring for: Blue Stilton Cheese Perfume!

No takers yet for the Limburger line of scents, though.

Playing Hard To Get

As the media likes to remind us, Canadians are all watching with excitement the ongoing struggle between the Prime Minister's Office and the Parliamentary Press Gallery. It's the hottest topic of discussion at all the water coolers, coffee shops and bars in the land. Everybody's got an opinion and taking sides; friendships and families are being broken over the heated debate.

Well, no, not exactly.

But you've got to like Sandra Buckler's analogy about the relationship:

Speed dating - that's how Prime Minister Stephen Harper's director of communications is characterizing the media's shaky new relationship with the Conservative government.

"We really haven't figured everybody out yet, but we're starting to get a good idea of what we like and what we don't like," Sandra Buckler told the Canadian Association of Journalists on Sunday.

Buckler was participating in a panel discussion featuring three journalists and a former communications director to Jean Chretien.

Buckler's analogy - likening the Tory relationship with the media to a brief, first date with a stranger - was in response to criticism that the government has tried to shut out journalists as they try to cover federal politics.

Reporters have complained that their calls are not returned, that they receive copies of speeches days after they were delivered, and that media availability is too selective.

"Stephen Harper is running a more focused, a disciplined government than prime minister (Jean) Chretien, and certainly more so than prime minister (Paul) Martin," said Buckler in a sometimes confrontational discussion.

"When we have something to say, Canadians are going to hear it, and they can take it to the bank."

So Sandra's playing hard to get. Big deal, fellas.

You're reporters; get off your duffs and go looking for stories instead of waiting for PMO to spoon-feed you.

PPG has more than a decade of accumulated laziness and other bad habits to break, but I'm sure they can bring their long-dormant newshunting abilities back to life. Maybe. If they haven't grown domesticated from years of coddling by the Liberals.

Source: National Post

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Pardon My French

The Globe and Mail has had to publish a rather embarrassing correction about the French-language skills of Gerard Kennedy and Maurizio Bevilacqua:

Due to an error in the article published in Saturday's Globe and Mail, Gerard Kennedy and Maurizio Bevilacqua were misidentified as failing to meet the requirements for a bilingualism certificate. Anyone receiving a grade of 2 or more would be deemed bilingual. Both Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Bevilacqua received a grading of 2. A corrected version of Saturday's story appears below.

Somebody at Canada's Natural Governing Newspaper is going to be taken to the woodshed for embarrassing golden boy Kennedy needlessly.

Oh, and what's his name too, but had the goof been only about Bevilacqua's bilingualism, the appropriate correction and expression of regret would have been buried on page 42.

The School For Terror

Many of Pakistan's madrassas (religious schools) are hotbeds of Islamic extremism and recruiting grounds for terrorist groups. So when Canadian students start going there, the authorities might want to keep a close eye on them when they come back.

This last statement by a madrassa principal should give us pause:

(S)ays founder and principal Mufti Muhammad Naeem, "Just give us 10 Canadians from prison, and within six months, I will turn them into good citizens and good human beings.

Given the history of recruitment to radical Islamic groups among prisoners in the West, one wonders how he defines a good human being who's gone through the madrassa process.

Source: Toronto Star

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Burning Piles

The men who read this blog will doubtless remember how some guys used to use a butane lighter to light their own farts when they were teenagers. Some readers may have even tried it themselves.

This New Zealand man wasn't even trying when he performed this incredible feat of pyroflatulation:

A patient's "gas leak" is being blamed for bringing a hospital operation to a fiery end.

The man suffered minor burns in a brief but "dramatic" operating theatre fire which is believed to have been caused by flatulence, The New Zealand Herald reported today.

The man was at the Southern Cross Hospital in Invercargill to have haemorrhoids removed and was singed in the "exceedingly rare" incident involving his own gas.

"This was thought to be flatus containing methane igniting," a health source told the newspaper.

"There was a sort of flashfire and that was it, but it was fairly alarming at the time."

Haemorrhoids are swollen veins in the lining of the anus. If they protrude outside the body and become troublesome, they can be removed by surgery, which in the Invercargill case employed an electrical "diathermy" machine. A hand-held tool for cutting tissue and cauterising to stop bleeding, it produces heat and can spark.

Southern Cross is releasing little detail other than confirming an "electrical fire" occurred on March 22 and that it commissioned an independent forensic scientist to investigate.

Any man who can start an electrical fire with his own flatus is a man to be respected, if not feared. A

And he may help provide the solution to the oil crisis. If we can only use our own naturally-produced methane emissions to produce enough methanol, we will be able to fart defiantly in the face of the Saudis and Iranians.

(Which wouldn't be good news for Alberta, unfortunately, because Toronto windbags produce enough gas to fuel the solar system.)


Je Ne Parlez-Vous Le Francais Too Good

The Liberal Party's claim to being the Natural Governing Party of Canada has historically owed much to its strength, if not outright dominance, in Quebec. And the Trudeaupian myth of official bilingualism, of course.

A myth that can't even be sustained any longer within the Liberal Party, it seems:

By objective standards, more than half of the candidates for the leadership of the Liberal Party are not bilingual. By the candidates' own admissions, the winner must be.

Language has become an issue in the Liberal leadership campaign, a race with 10 anglophones and one francophone vying to lead a party that badly needs to rebuild in Quebec and views itself as the national-unity party that claims bilingualism as its brand.


Only five of the 11 candidates now running for the Liberal leadership were given passing grades when rated against the scale for a bilingualism certificate by University of Ottawa professor Hélène Knoerr. Bob Rae topped the list, followed closely by Michael Ignatieff, but Stéphane Dion (who was tested on his English fluency), Joe Volpe and Martha Hall Findlay also made the grade.

“The others were varying degrees of catastrophes,” Prof. Knoerr said.


The Globe and Mail asked all 11 candidates the same four questions in their second language — English for Mr. Dion, and French for the others. Prof. Knoerr, a bilingual expert in French as a second language at the University of Ottawa, evaluated them according to a scale used for certifying second-language ability. Only one, Ms. Fry, felt that she could not complete the interview.

The interviews ranged from three to 11 minutes, and it was usually those who rated lowest who took the longest time. That was in part because of language, but perhaps also because of the questions: When Mr. Rae was asked if he could take part in a French-language leaders debate and beat Mr. Duceppe, his answer was simply, “Yes.” At any rate, Prof. Knoerr used only about four minutes of each interview for the evaluations, to provide an equal comparison.

But the current crop of leadership contenders' inability to speak French fluently will not stop the Liberals from claiming that only their party can adequately represent Quebec's interests. The Liberal Party cannot afford to let go of the myth of being the sole interlocutor between English Canada and Quebec; it is all that it has left to keep from flying apart.

If the next Liberal leader can't speak acceptable French, watch for him to revive the traditional role of Quebec lieutenant to act as his viceroy and interpreter in Quebec--not unlike how Ernest Lapointe and Louis St. Laurent did the same for Mackenzie King.

The Liberals may be effectively a Toronto party, but they can't admit it, or they won't even have Toronto left.

Source: Globe and Mail

Friday, May 12, 2006

Spoiled Ballot

It's one thing to throw away your vote. It's quite another to throw away someone else's vote. Especially if you can't even be bothered to buy it first:

Alexander James MacKenzie hopped on his motorcycle a free man Friday, the name Ballot Box Bandit painted on the bike's gas tank.

Mr. MacKenzie, 56, received a suspended sentence for his second conviction in recent years for stealing and destroying a ballot box during a federal election.

The Crown wanted to send the Little Harbour, N.S., resident to jail for 14 days for a Jan. 23 incident during the last federal election.

Mr. MacKenzie walked out of a polling station with a box containing 57 cast ballots, set it on the ground outside, then ran over it with his pickup truck. All of the ballots were salvaged.

It was his second such act of civil disobedience in his lengthy, one-man fight to get compensation for non-natives he says have been affected by pollution from the Boat Harbour, N.S., treatment plant.

In November 2000, he stole a ballot box from his polling station in Little Harbour and threw it into the nearby treatment lagoon. That act earned him 30 days of house arrest, probation and community service.

What this fool did is not civil disobedience. Destroying a ballot box does nothing to call attention to his cause, except to cast discredit upon it and himself.

It is no different from the street theatre that passes as political protest, especially among "progressives", these days.

He would have done just as well to eat his ballot instead.

Source: Globe and Mail

Hope Triumphs Over Experience

Sometimes you have a little too much to drink before you log on to Blogger, and what seemed like a good idea at the time is now an embarrassment under the harsh light of sobriety. You know what I mean:

Belinda, your party and your country needs you. You have already shown your commitment to your principles once, by joining the Liberal Party. You have shown you can handle criticism, and weather a storm. Please, Belinda, take the leap!

It's a little harder to take the leap ever since they put up that barrier on the Bloor Street viaduct, but by all means, try!

Minister Methhead?

It seems these days that discretion is no longer considered the better part of valour. Indiscretions and malefactions once quietly atoned for must now be discussed openly, and not merely for the sake of satisfying people's natural voyeurism.

Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman has admitted to having once been addicted to what he coyly refers to as "party drugs."

The 42-year-old health minister is telling Ontarians that for five years in the early to mid 1990s he fought and beat an addiction to street stimulants used as "party drugs."

The drugs he used were not injected, but they were illegal and he used them regularly in the "Toronto party scene."

"I can't say I can look back and say this is why drugs became an outlet, (but) when I review the period when they (were) a problem for me (it was) the period that followed the passing of my dad," he told the Toronto Star in an exclusive interview last night.

"He died at 60 of a massive brain stem stroke and lay for seven months in a hospital bed with only the ability to move his eyes," Smitherman said. "When I look back that was a seismic event for me."

Fearing the repercussions of his admission, Smitherman did not want to say what illegal drugs he used.

Since Smitherman is an admitted homosexual, one can infer from his comments that he is referring to crystal methamphetamine, commonly used by homosexuals to fuel long sexual orgies:

Among the effects reported by crystal users (known as "tweakers") is an increase in the need and urgency for sex, the ability to have sex for extended periods (hours or even days), and an inability to ejaculate or reach orgasm or physical release.

In addition to increasing the need for sex and enabling the user to engage in marathon sex sessions, crystal lowers inhibitions and causes users to behave recklessly or to become forgetful. According to a recent San Diego study, crystal users often engage in unsafe sexual activities, and forget or choose not to use condoms. The study found that crystal users were six times less likely to use condoms [1].

The urgency for sex combined with the inability to achieve release can result in tearing, chafing and trauma (such as rawness and friction sores) to the sex organs and the rectum and mouth, dramatically increasing the risk of transmission of HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections (STIs).

And if he wasn't into homosexual practice to begin with, he probably wouldn't have ended up on crystal meth--if that was the drug he was taking.

This site has plenty of unpleasant information and stories about the effects of crystal meth on homosexuals. You tell me if it's just another acceptable alternative lifestyle after reading some of the stuff over there.

Source: Toronto Star

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Liable Party of Canada

The Conservatives are about to attempt litigation as an extension of politics and law enforcement by other means by suing the Liberal Party for whatever it got out of Adscam:

The Liberal Party of Canada could be targeted in a taxpayer-funded lawsuit to recover millions of dollars that went missing in the federal sponsorship program, a newspaper report says.

In its Thursday edition, La Presse quotes a source who says the Harper government has told its lawyers to prepare to sue the Liberals for "all the dirty money," an amount it estimates is between $1 million and $40 million.

In addition to recovering funds, the move could have political benefits for the minority Conservatives, keeping the sponsorship scandal in the minds of voters until the next federal election.

The Liberals repaid $1.14 million after the Gomery public inquiry found that some money paid to outside companies under the federal sponsorship program found its way back into the coffers of the party's Quebec wing.

The inquiry also heard that some ad firms in Quebec agreed to keep Liberal organizers on the payroll in return for lucrative sponsorship contracts.

All sorts of fascinating legal questions arise from this proposed action.

Whom will the government sue? The Liberal Party of Canada, or just its Quebec wing? How many individual party officers and directors will be named?

Where will the government sue? In Quebec, where most of the fraud took place and the principals reside, under civil law, or in Ontario, where the Liberal Party of Canada is headquartered, under common law?

On what grounds will the government sue? This will vary depending on where the suit is brought. And I know nothing of civil law save that Quebec lawyers would be lost without their little red Code Civil at their side.

How long before this gets to trial? If it isn't dismissed (quite possible) or settled (virtually unlikely), it'll be two or three years before the matter gets to trial.

How will the Liberals respond? Legally, by denying that there was a fraud, or in the alternative, that the party was a party to the fraud, or in the alternative to the alternative, that it did not knowingly receive embezzled funds.

Politically, by screaming that Stephen Harper is trying to litigate his opposition out of existence and using the courts to crush political dissent.

Nonsense. Political parties are not above the law, and if the Liberal Party ends up bankrupt to satisfy a civil judgment for fraud, it will have gotten no more than it deserves. If a party becomes too deeply corrupted by fraud--witness the Progressive Conservative party in Saskatchewan--dissolving it is not an affront to free government, but an aid thereto.

See you in court!

Source: CBC

Shot In The Dark

I am shocked, SHOCKED, to find that the Liberals tried to cover up the costs of the long gun registry:

The former Liberal government buried the huge costs incurred by the federal gun registry deep within mandatory reports on government spending, the auditor general is expected to reveal next week.

In a new report, Sheila Fraser is expected to reveal that the problems she identified in a 2002 report -- including that Parliament was "kept in the dark" about the ballooning costs related to the registry -- persisted for three years, despite fierce criticism and the scrutiny of opposition parties. She will also note that there were serious difficulties related to the handling of computer contracts.

Ms. Fraser is expected to lay the blame at the feet of top public servants and their former Liberal masters when her report is released on Tuesday.

The report will say that the registry's costs continued to grow after 2002 because the federal government was under contract to two competing computer firms for years before deciding to switch to a more advanced information technology system that could be adapted to the needs of the gun registry.

Everyone in Ottawa, from the head of the gun registry to the cats behind Parliament Hill, knew that the whole thing was out of control. But until now, the public didn't know just how.

Observers trace the management problems with the gun registry back to Maryantonett Flumian, the chief executive of the Canadian Firearms Centre between February 2000 and June 2001. Her successors, many say, were burdened with the effects of her decisions made in that time period.

In September, Prime Minister Paul Martin appointed Ms. Flumian deputy minister of Service Canada, a new government department intended to streamline government services for Canadians.

The gun registry has been stabilized in the past year, with much of the credit due to William Baker, the commissioner of firearms, observers say. Ms. Fraser's new report was originally to have been released in February and was completed months before that.

If Ms. Flumian applies the same management skills to Service Canada that she did to the gun registry, we can all expect never to get a single document from the feds that we need on time again.

The gods demands a sacrifice, however, and she will have to be it. Wait for the announcement of her retirement or resignation, with a hefty severance package and an appointment to some think tank or foundation.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Budget Passes

And all it took was a promise to do something about the fiscal imbalance.

So much for my original prediction that the Liberals would back the budget with the Bloc and NDP voting against.

Watch for further close co-operation between the Liberals and NDP over the next two years. And if the Liberals elect a leftish enough leader, the two parties might just start heading down the track to be become one.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Debt Of Honour

Britain is about to pay off the last of its loans from the United States for World War II, according to the BBC:

On 31 December, the UK will make a payment of about $83m (£45.5m) to the US and so discharge the last of its loans from World War II from its transatlantic ally.

It is hard from a modern viewpoint to appreciate the astronomical costs and economic damage caused by this conflict. In 1945, Britain badly needed money to pay for reconstruction and also to import food for a nation worn down after years of rationing.

"In a nutshell, everything we got from America in World War II was free," says economic historian Professor Mark Harrison, of Warwick University.

"The loan was really to help Britain through the consequences of post-war adjustment, rather than the war itself. This position was different from World War I, where money was lent for the war effort itself."

The loan was part-driven by the Americans' termination of the Lend-Lease scheme. Under the programme, the US had effectively donated equipment for the war effort, but anything left over in Britain at the end of hostilities and still needed would have to be paid for.

But the price would please a bargain hunter - the US only wanted one-tenth of the production cost of the equipment and would lend the money to pay for it.

As a result, the UK took a loan for $586m (about £145m at 1945 exchange rates), and a further $3,750m line of credit (about £930m at 1945 exchange rates). The loan was to be paid off in 50 annual repayments starting in 1950, although there were six years when payment was deferred because of economic or political crises.

National debts can be paid off. Eventually. If Alberta and Britain can do it, so can Canada.

Turkish Undelight

Imagine the outcry if the government of Germany officially declared that the deaths of six million Jews at the hands of the Nazi regime were instead caused by the usual forces and privations of war, and that claiming otherwise was a criminal offence.

Turkey--modern, progressive, Europeanized Turkey--still will not admit that its Ottoman predecessors slaughtered more than one million Armenians under a deliberate policy to destroy the Armenian people:

Turkey has pulled out of an international military air exercise at CFB Cold Lake to protest against Prime Minister Stephen Harper's characterization of a mass killing of Armenians as a genocide, escalating an already testy diplomatic spat.

Officials with the Turkish embassy confirmed yesterday that a half-dozen Turkish jet fighters, as well as support aircraft that were supposed to take part in the exercise May 17 to June 24 in Alberta, have been withdrawn. The move comes after the Turkish government recalled its ambassador, Aydemir Erman, to Ankara for discussions.

"I think one can draw that conclusion at this point," said one official, when asked whether the decision flowed from Mr. Harper's remarks. "This seems to be related to the not-so-good period of relations we are going through."

The Harper government sparked Turkey's ire after Mr. Harper recognized, on behalf of the federal government last month, that Armenians had suffered a genocide at the hands of Turkey during and after the First World War. The issue is hugely controversial in Turkey, where the government says the deaths were caused by the war and civil strife.

A spokesman for Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor said the Turks cancelled their participation on Friday.

Take your damned planes and go home then.

Source: Globe and Mail

Edifice Complex

The former JDS Uniphase complex in Ottawa has been sitting empty for several years now, a silent testimony to the gold rush days of high tech in the late 1990s, while various businesses and government departments have gone searching for office space.

But now the white elephant will become home to the RCMP:

The federal government is poised to sign a 25-year deal to move the RCMP into a state-of-the-art office complex, built during the glory days of the technology boom, that it will be able to buy later for just $1.

The deal with Minto Developments to make the former JDS Uniphase campus into RCMP headquarters has been in the works for months and is now awaiting the blessing of Treasury Board. The complex is located at 3000 Merivale Rd., near Prince of Wales Drive.

Documents released by Ottawa Centre MP Paul Dewar this week show the deal, which was confirmed by Public Works officials on Friday, will cost taxpayers about $600 million over 25 years. That number includes everything from rent, management fees, fit-ups, upgrades and moving costs, as well as the renovation of old RCMP buildings.

When the lease with Minto is up, the government can buy the 900,000-square-foot complex, which JDS built for $200 million at the height of the technology boom, for $1.

Real estate watchers call it the "deal of a lifetime," saying the federal government got well below market rates for the space.


Documents show the government is paying about $8.32 per square foot to cover rent and fit-ups compared to $22 a square foot to rent a new custom-built complex for the RCMP. The going rate for similar office space in the suburbs is about $16 per square foot.


At its peak, the JDS technology campus, built in stages over four years, had about 10,000 workers. The complex, which includes seven buildings linked by a common atrium, was loaded with the bells and whistles and amenities government workers could only dream of - gourmet kitchen, cafeteria, 300-seat theatre/auditorium and gymnasium. With road improvements, proximity to the airport and an anticipated light-rail line, the site has excellent transportation connections that will suit a police force.

Now that's what I call a bargain! Everyone would have been screaming about pork-barrelling if a new RCMP headquarters had to be built; the usual political dealing and related cost overruns would have meant it got built in Hull, for twice the budget and three times longer than planned.

Tech booms and busts, but Her Majesty's Horsemen remain on duty.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

No More Cakes And Ale

Giggling schoolgirl reporterette Jane Taber fears that the Federal Accountability Act is ruining Ottawa's social scene:

The Harper government's new accountability measures are creating an atmosphere in political Ottawa where accepting free tickets to gala concerts, fundraising dinners and other cultural events is frowned upon.

Not a cabinet minister was in sight at the Public Policy Forum's annual testimonial dinner in Toronto last month, and only a half-dozen deputy ministers were among the 1,300 people in attendance. This is usually a premiere event for senior government and private-sector officials, allowing them to get together informally.

This year's dinner was the biggest in the forum's history, and featured speakers such as Manitoba Premier Gary Doer and Liberal leadership candidate Bob Rae.

But the word had gone out from Privy Council Clerk Kevin Lynch that deputy ministers must no longer take freebies from corporate sponsors and would have to pay for the $375 ticket.


One senior government official said no conversation takes place now between a private-sector official and a government official about having dinner or even a coffee without mention of the proposed accountability act.

"It's making people afraid to talk to one another," said the official, who believes it is necessary to keep up a conversation between government and the private sector.

Some worry the measures will keep senior officials in at night, and away from cultural events, to avoid contact with lobbyists and consultants.

What we have here is a case of classic overreaction, the sort that always comes with significant change. Nothing in the new act suggests that accepting a few minor gratuities is illegal or even unethical. Nor does it even remotely suggest that people should be afraid to talk to each other for fear of violating it.

But Jane Taber's subtext is quite clear: Stephen Harper is spoiling all the fun and ruining the efficient operation of government at the same time.

Nothing could be further from reality. Lobbyists will still lobby and backs will still be scratched, but palms may no longer be greased.

And Jane Taber's social calendar will still be full.

Source: Globe and Mail

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Dear George

Jesus hates you because you ordered the invasion of Iraq.

Israel wouldn't exist if people weren't guilty about a holocaust that didn't happen.

Children in Africa are going to be hungry tonight.

Therefore we have the right to make nuclear bombs.


Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

(But if you still insist on reading the whole letter and not just the executive summary, here it is.)

A Toast To Madness

From the house of sober second thought, a modest proposal for the inebriated to help the insane:

Canadians should pay a nickel a drink to help the mentally ill, says the Senate social affairs committee.

After three years' work and consultation, the committee is calling on the government to invest half a billion dollars annually in support and housing for people with mental illness, paying for it with a tax on alcoholic drinks.

In a report Tuesday, the committee recommended the creation of a national agency to help the mentally ill, and 57,000 affordable housing units for people living with mental illness.

"The stories we heard moved us to tears," said Liberal Senator Michael Kirby, chair of the committee.

"They also angered us because it shows clearly how little governments have done over the years for people living with a mental illness.

Smokers underwrite their costs to the health care system through tobacco taxes. Since many of the mentally ill are also alcoholic, taxing liquor to pay for their treatment seems only fair, in a way, although the non-insane and non-alcoholic among us will carry much of the cost for them.

But one wonders whether such a tax will be aimed at the real heart of the problem: the mental health professionals who have decided that all but the most uncontrollably insane can be dumped on the streets with a reminder to take their pills, and the social-welfare enablers who believe that letting these poor folk beg on the streets is more dignifying than treating them in hospital.

Source: Toronto Star

St. Ignatius Loyola Spins In His Grave

Would anyone care to explain why an ostensibly Catholic (well, Jesuit) university is hosting a national conference for paganism?

Halifax will play host next month to the second annual Canadian National Pagan Conference, Gaia Gathering.

The three-day event, taking place from May 19-22 at Saint Mary’s University, will explore the theme Real People, Real Faith, Real Life.

Paganism has yet to be recognized as a formal religion, but efforts are underway to have it accepted.

Based on the success of the panel discussions at last year’s conference in Edmonton, this year’s event will be presented in a panel format with a few guest speakers.

Some of the topics that will be explored include the legalities of organizing pagan churches, dealing with the school system and your pagan children, teaching paganism and running a pagan business.

For more information on the conference or to register, visit

You could ask the president of St. Mary's , but he'll likely blow you off with some windy statement about tolerance and diversity, and the fact that St. Mary's is now lay governed, etc., etc.

You might also ask the chancellor how sitting on the board of directors of a university that insults the Catholic faith it uses to drum up support from old alumni with is compatible with his episcopal responsibilities.

Source: Halifax Chronicle-Herald