Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Tribute

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

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

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

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

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

Screaming Into The Void

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

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

Well, almost all of them:

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

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

That sentiment was still evident Wednesday evening.

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

Oh, the irony of the last statement.

Source: National Post

Reap What You SOW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Convention Weekend

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

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

Watch with awe.

No Party For Castro

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

Let the media circus commence.

Necessary Roughness

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

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

And perhaps the job itself really is an overpaid sinecure.

But none of that excuses this:

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

Source: Toronto Star

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


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

But where does that leave the rest of Canada?

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

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

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

Monday, November 27, 2006

Chong Gone

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

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

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

Fear Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is all.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Constantinople, Not Istanbul

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Canadian Heritage Moment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonnie Prince Justin

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

"You have to run!”

“We need you!”


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


The writing on the wall, so to speak.

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

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

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

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


They come at him everywhere he goes.

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

“We need Trudeaumania!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the Glorious Counterrevolution cannot be undone.

He will no come back again.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Lavender Leafs

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

Iggy Flip Flop

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

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

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

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Face the Nation, Part II

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Face The Nation, Part I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More analysis later tonight.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hit The Silk

This little exchange in the House of Commons between Stephen Harper and Bill Graham had to hurt:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and interim Liberal leader Bill Graham traded barbs over the recent Asia Pacific Summit and the best place to wear a silk gown. It started by Graham kidding the prime minister about the blue gown he wore for a photo op in Vietnam, telling Harper he "looked spectacular."

The prime minister shot back that wearing local garb is a tradition at the APEC summit and that unlike Graham, he was wears his "silk on the outside."

I'm amazed that the usual suspects aren't up in arms denouncing Harper for promoting "homophobic stereotypes" on the floor of the House.

Source: CBC


Before John Tory loses the 2007 election for the Ontario PC Party and goes back to Bay Street, let us keep in mind that for one brief, shining moment, he expressed one idea so sensible that no government will ever carry it out:

Most skilled immigrants would get accredited to work in their field before they move to Canada and foreign-trained doctors would be able to perform basic services under a plan unveiled Monday by Ontario's Opposition Conservatives.

Conservative Leader John Tory said the program would allow skilled immigrants to start working on their Canadian accreditation while they are outside the country, waiting for their visa applications to be processed.

The province is facing a labour shortage and needs to better harness the knowledge of newcomers, Tory said at a campaign-style event that suggests the Conservatives are aggressively planning their strategy for next year's provincial election.

"The status quo is unacceptable,'' Tory said.

"This is a serious problem both because we're badly letting these people down and short-changing them. We need, as part of building a strong economy, to make full use of the talents these people brought with them to Canada.''

While not all professions could be fully accredited before an immigrant arrives in Canada, Tory said foreign-trained doctors could gain more experience by doing basic medical services under the supervision of a qualified doctor.

An overseas accreditation program would help end the cruel bait-and-switch that is played regularly on professionally trained immigrants lured here with promises of quick entry into their fields only to be told that their qualifications aren't recognized and to go do scut work instead.

And the various professional bodies couldn't throw up all sorts of excuses and barriers to entry once the people got to Ontario; they'd have to be upfront about their requirements.

Since checking qualifications is a paper-based process, there's no reason it couldn't be done before the applicants leave their home countries.

Immigrants could make an informed decision about coming to Canada for a change.

And there'd be a much-needed re-examination of how Canada promotes immigration.

Source: CTV

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Publicity Hog

Will Garth Turner take the hint from what happened to O.J. Simpson and his failed grotesque publicity stunt?

Split The Difference

One of the most comon complaints against the income tax system in Canada is that it penalizes families where the wife stays at home. The working husband ends up carrying all of the tax burden, while two working spouses do not.

That could soon change:

The Conservative government is looking at a radical restructuring of the tax system that would allow couples to reduce what they pay by averaging out their income, says a government source.

But introducing income splitting — something Finance Minister Jim Flaherty could touch on as early as Thursday when he delivers his annual economic update — is likely to set off sharp criticism from groups that consider it unfair to single Canadians and a disincentive to women working outside the home.

Critics say income splitting — transferring income to the lower-earning partner for tax purposes — would alter the fundamental nature of the tax system, making the family a basic unit and the system less progressive.


Income splitting would be a tax break for many couples, with the lion's share of benefits going to those in which one spouse is a high-income earner and the other does not work outside the home.

Under current tax law, a family in which one spouse works, earning $80,000 a year, and the other spouse has no income will pay $12,460 in federal income tax. Under income splitting, the couple would pay a combined total of $8,940, a saving of $3,520, according to calculations by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

A family in which one person earns $60,000 and the spouse earns $20,000 currently pays total federal income taxes of $10,280. Under income splitting, that family would pay a total of $8,940, a saving of $1,340.

A family with two partners earning $40,000 each pays a combined federal income tax of $8,940. There would be no change under income splitting.

Income splitting would be popular with many families, particularly social conservatives who form the Harper government's prime supporters.

Liberal social engineers will be out attacking income splitting and joint filing in full force. They know from experience that changes in the law--from easy divorce to homosexual "marriage"--change attitudes and practices very quickly.

Anything that might detract from their aim of the eventual abolition of the family is a threat to their power. Income splitting will encourage one thing they don't want--recognition of the contributions of homemakers to society.

Income splitting has the potential to break the cycle of increasing taxation forcing women to work outside the home, thus increasing the tax revenue that finances programs which provide further incentive to do so.

And that is something the elites cannot allow to happen.

The government could easily fall over this issue alone in a budget.

And it would be one of the hottest election issues.

Source: Toronto Star

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Story Of O

Suppose they held a global orgasm rally and nobody came?

Curious George

Surely the media and the opposition Liberals will raise a terrific outcry against this unsolicited and unwarranted intrusion into Canadian politics by this meddling foreign interloper:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's foreign policy strategy is a joke and is causing Canada to be hated around the world, British politician George Galloway said Monday.

The notorious member of parliament, known for his outspoken views against the Iraq war, said Harper's actions at the APEC summit in Hanoi show he lacks diplomacy skills and doesn't understand Canada's place in the world.

Harper had a difficult time arranging a meeting with the Chinese president, which many experts said was a snub for the government's continued criticism of China's foreign policy.


Galloway also weighed in on Canada's Liberal leadership contest, saying that "Anyone but Ignatieff" is a common slogan in British politics.

Galloway's skills as a diplomatic negotiator speak for themselves. As does his expertise in avoiding embarrassing media situations.

Leaders Abroad

While our head of government ceases kowtowing to the Celestial Empire , our vice-regent makes her journey through the Dark Continent.

We all know which one involved the hard work of diplomacy, and which one will get all the fawning press coverage.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Final Offer

Going down to the temp labour agency to pick up a few extra bucks between jobs has its peculiar risks, but none usually more peculiar than ending up doing really hard and dirty scut work.

In Iraq, however, it's just another excuse to blow people up:

A man in a southern Iraqi city offered jobs to draw a crowd of day labourers to his van on Sunday, then detonated a bomb that killed 22 people and wounded 44 others.

He drove up to the men in the mostly Shia Muslim city of Hillah, 90 kilometres south of Baghdad, and set off his explosives as they gathered around the vehicle, police said.

The explosion shattered windows of a nearby store. One of the survivors, Mohammed Abbas Kadhim, said he was thrown a few metres by the blast.

"I couldn't see or hear for a few minutes as I was lying on the ground. People were racing everywhere looking for their missing sons, brothers, friends — all of them shouting, 'God is great."'

That's what you get for taking up any offer to make money.

And for not killing them all and letting Allah sort them out at the beginning of the war.

Source: CBC

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Can You Hear Me Now?

Courtesy of Jihad Watch comes this report of a British Islamic terror suspect caught hiding the evidence where the sun don't shine:

A SELF-proclaimed British multi-millionaire named Mohammed Islam who was arrested on the Gold Coast with almost $120,000 in cash is under investigation as to whether he has terrorist connections.

Queensland police yesterday refused to comment on their investigation into the man, 22, but at this stage there is reportedly no evidence to link him with terrorist activity.
Islam allegedly had $118,000 in $50 notes in a suitcase and a mobile phone concealed in his rectum when he was arrested at a Surfers Paradise bus station on Thursday night.

Islam faced Southport Magistrate's Court yesterday charged with possessing tainted property but police prosecutor Sarah Fox said more serious charges could be laid.

Airport security screening is going to be a lot more painful from now on, thanks to this guy. If we wanted to hear from an asshole....

Social Code

The Torontonian obsession with status and image is perhaps simply an exaggerated manifestation of the same superficial obsessions of urbanites everywhere, but surely not even the most slavish trendster worries about not having the right area code :

When Derritt Mason moved to Little Italy in September, he was twice saddled with three little digits that made him feel like he was not a "real" Torontonian.

The 25-year-old educator with the National Film Board of Canada got stuck with a landline and a cellphone number with the city's 647 area code, the lesser-known companion to Toronto's iconic 416 code.

"I just feel like whoever is giving out cellphones is trying to prevent me from ever feeling like I really belong in Toronto," Mr. Mason says with a laugh.

"The 647 in some strange way is kind of similar to the 905 in that it's somehow not as authentic as a 416 area code."

Area codes might not mean much in another slice of the country, but in the Greater Toronto Area -- a place where area codes serve as a convenient shorthand for the urban/suburban divide and where backroom boys craft election strategies to win over "the 905" or "the 416" -- the three-digit sequence at the start of a phone number carries heavy symbolic weight.

The numbers 905 conjure up images of minivans, soccer fields and sprawl in the towns and cities that encircle the Big Smoke, while the digits 416 invite visions of smug, established urbanites living in the heart of Canada's biggest city.

So what does the relatively new 647 area code symbolize?

Glenn Pilley, the director of the Canadian Numbering Administrator, says the 647 code is only assigned to people who need new telephone numbers.

It is almost always assigned to new cellphones and BlackBerrys, because wireless carries have snapped up most of the exchange codes in 647, he added.

As a result the symbolism of 647 cuts two ways -- its either a badge of cool brandished by people too busy to be tied down to a landline or a three-digit reminder that the user is new to town and thus not a "real" Torontonian.

I wouldn't worry about that, Mr. Mason. Your fixation on such a petty trapping of image shows that you have become a real Torontonian.

Source: National Post

Friday, November 17, 2006

Ho Ho Ho

The grinches at the Toronto Transit Commission have stolen Christmas early this year from one of the city's most bizarre characters:

Zanta, notorious for doing push-ups in nothing but a Santa hat and shorts, has been banned from Toronto's transit system.

The oddball busker, a.k.a. David Zancai, received a probation order stating he is "not permitted on any TTC property or vehicle other than surface routes" for a two-year period. Moreover, bus drivers across the city have refused him access as well.

"I've lost my freedoms. I can't move. I can't go nowhere," Mr. Zancai says. "They don't like it when I do push-ups or say, 'Yes, Yes, Yes,' and 'Merry Christmas.' But I refuse to take my hat off."

You haven't truly experienced Toronto until you've seen Zanta doing push-ups on the subway without a shirt on in the middle of January. Unlike most of the crazies in this city, he is neither a tragic diseased and drug-addled wreck nor a selfish, slovenly welfare parasite.

He is what he is, an eccentric annoyance, but still, an entertaining annoyance.

Communication Breakdown

This article is what we might call a triple threat: it's from the Globe and Mail, by Gloria Galloway, about the Harper government's communications strategy:

Sandra Buckler, the communications director for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has asked that staff working for Conservative cabinet ministers secretly provide her with assessments of their bosses' communications skills.

The directive has apparently caused tensions between the staffers and the ministers - and between the ministers and Ms. Buckler, who has often been criticized for her less-than-amicable relationship with the national news media.

Communications directors in the offices of federal cabinet ministers have told The Globe and Mail that Ms. Buckler asked them to compile reports critiquing their ministers' abilities and send the reports to her without informing the ministers.

One of them, speaking on condition he not be named, said the request put him in a difficult position because he was being asked to be critical of the minister who hired him - and who could also fire him in short order.

On the other hand, he said, "It is not wise to cross [Ms.] Buckler," who was in Vietnam with Mr. Harper yesterday and did not return requests for comment.

The media is never less interesting than when it's reporting on its own problems with the government; it's rather like hearing a stranger assail you with his litany of complaints about his neighbours.

But the media has a vested interest in portraying the Harper government as keeping everybody within it muzzled--a variation on the old "hidden agenda" theme.

This is just another skirmish in an increasingly one-sided war.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

He'd Kill For A Headline

And here's another publicity-hogging pariah trying to pass off old news as a sensational revelation!

Y Bother

Just as mediaeval scholasticism degenerated from the heights of Aquinas' Summa Theologica to arid debates about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin, so has post-modern academe degenerated into theoretical abstractions that no one can understand.

Thus the pitched battles over issues that appear to have no possible relevance to advancing human knowledge or improving the human condition.

As reflected in this debate:

The University of Waterloo has changed the name of its campus women's centre after 45 minutes of intense debate on a single, symbolically laden vowel.

After more than a decade as a bastion of feminist retreat, the campus Womyn's Centre has become its Women's Centre.

The change, seen by some as long overdue, may reflect a departure from the politicized language of early feminism.

"It's a necessary and inevitable moving away from the feminism of the '70s and '80s," says Philinda Masters, a women's studies researcher at the University of Toronto.


The term "womyn" evolved out of a radical feminism that emphasized patriarchy as the cause of women's oppression and resolved to separate from men.

As a consequence of the same movement, "history" was reintroduced as "herstory."

The University of Waterloo's director of Women's Studies, Rhiannon Bury, says the spelling is often remembered because it is simple and accessible even to those who pay little attention to feminist ideas.

"So people take that and say, 'Well that's kind of silly, why would you change that,' but I think with all language, language is never neutral, right? It's always about power and control, who gets to name," she says.

Lest we think that this is merely a silly debate between overeducated, coddled students and academics, remember that these same academic incubators hatched the social engineers who have brought us the sexual revolution, multiculturalism, radical secularism and all its attendant evils.

Even if some outre ideas don't catch on, think of the ones that have.

And pay more attention to what appears to be simple ivory tower lunacy.

It could be the law tomorrow.

Source: National Post

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Burden Of Greatness

The unofficial dauphin of the Liberal Party is launching his leadership campaign with a few gratuitous swipes at the men who deign to actually seek it at this time.

If Michael Ignatieff lacks wisdom, and Bob Rae lacks grand vision, who does that leave to save the Natural Governing Party(tm)?

Apparently we all want Justin Trudeau, whether we want him or not.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Turner: The Man, The Myth, The Megalomania

After keeping the parliamentary press gallery in suspense with cryptic hints about revelations of disturbing messages from sinister forces within the Conservative Party, Garth Turner let us all down with the anti-climactic announcement that he's letting his party membership card lapse at year's end.

But to hear Turner speak about it, you'd think that he was the victim of some mysterious yet malevolent process, condemned without charge, let alone trial:

Here is what the leader of the Conservative Party, its top officials and the National Caucus chair, have determined:

1. I have been disqualified as a party candidate for in the next election. I am a card-carrying member of the party, and yet denied the right to be a candidate.

2. That decision came in a closed meeting by the Party's national executive. No reason given.

3. The national president of the party says I will not be permitted to seek a Conservative nomination again.

4. My suspension from caucus is indefinite, no reason will be given for it. No evidence will be provided to my electors. And I don't know what indefinite means...

5. National caucus chair Rahim Jaffer tells the local riding all of these matters are all internal.

Let me summarize:

* The party has removed an MP nominated by the local party members and elected by the voters.

* The party will not explain this to those folks.

* The candidate they selected for the next election is being set aside. No explanation.

* All of these actions were taken in secret, without any input or appeal, and yet materially affect the voters of a large electoral district.

* This raises more questions - about the role average Canadians actually have in the political system, and their ability to choose their own representatives - and about this government's commitment to transparency, openness and accountability in the political system.

Not really, Garth. You knew going into the whole process of nomination, campaigning and election that in return for the support of the party, a little loyalty and discretion was expected from you. Such as not betraying caucus confidences, or running to the microphones to damn your own government every time it made a decision that you didn't like.

You were able to survive nearly five years in the old Progressive Conservative caucus, back in the bad old Mulroney era, when party and prime ministerial discipline were even stricter than in the new Conservative Party. What changed between then and now?

You can't blame PMO or National Council for all your troubles. PMO and National Council didn't take the initiative; your own Ontario caucus colleagues, many of whom agreed with you on policy and principle, expelled you because they couldn't trust you not to sandbag them.

And yet despite your expulsion, your colleagues and the party might have well restored you to the fold, if you had shown a little contrition, or recognition of the damage you had done.

Instead, you chose to declare yourself the martyr to the cause of populism and democracy, cast out into the darkness for your heresies.

What great principle have you been sacrificed for, except for your belief in your own legend?

You always pictured yourself as the leader of a great cause. Now you have one: yourself. Pity you won't have many followers.

Source: (All Garth, all the time!)

Bob A Job

There are no obstacles that a man can't overcome as long as he's got Power Corporation backing him up. The resurrection of Bob Rae from the political dead, from bungling accidental premier to great Canadian statesman, is proof thereof:

The lifelong New Democrat, who rang up a resume deficit as Ontario premier that should have banished him from politics forever, has successfully converted to become inside Ottawa's best bet for the Liberal title on Dec. 2.

While the final four all have ugly negatives, Rae claims the lesser liabilities. Michael Ignatieff has deep intellect and a superb organization, but suicidal political instincts. Stephane Dion has federalist francophone credentials, but lacks the clout to grow in English Canada. Gerard Kennedy has caring ideas, but not the right stuff to appease Quebec.

In the battle to find a leader boasting the highest winnability quotient, Rae seems poised to soak up enough pragmatic support on the second, third or fourth ballots to become the SpongeBob shocker of the convention floor.


The geek is gone. A reasonable, white-haired facsimile of an elder statesmen has taken his place, relaxed and effortlessly churning out quips and quotes to suit every question. Trouble is, Rae always uses many grand words to say very little.

He has visited Iraq twice, for example, but unlike Ignatieff, refuses to venture a personal opinion on the U.S. invasion, insisting that nation-building there should not have been attempted until orderly, non-partisan, post-conflict conditions prevailed. He neglects to mention which decade that might happen in this violently divided country.

On that great Canadian divide, our military deployment to Afghanistan, Rae suggests "less rhetoric and more realism." This, he says, means Canada should debate more (rhetoric) and focus heavily on reconstruction instead of military action (hardly realistic until the insurgency is under control).

His Middle East policy is simplistic enough to rate a bumper sticker: "Canada needs to say 'yes' to Israel, Lebanon and to Palestine and 'no' to terrorism," he writes. Pause. "This is a world where slogans and bumper sticks aren't really effective." Enough said.

Looking at Rae's cure for what ails Canada domestically, the wish list would suit a Santa on speed. He wants Canada to build on strengths, break down silos, generate more jobs, raise minimum wages, cure poverty, fund research, improve innovation, rebuild infrastructure, support arts and culture, provide national daycare and clean drinking water for every Aboriginal First Nation, deliver catastrophic drug coverage and -- puff, puff -- stay within a balanced budget while lowering income taxes.

Critics may scoff at Bob Rae's laundry list of spending promises and snappy slogans as being devoid of vision or content. But what need has he to offer them? The Liberal Party faithful couldn't care less as long as he holds out the promise of a quick return to power.

And more importantly, Power's quick return to power.

Read the rest of Don Martin's analysis here.

Boom Boom Boom

Get your lazy arse off the couch and down to the Greyhound station for a one-way ticket to Alberta, where even the scut work is going begging:

As many as 57 foreign workers have been shipped to southern Alberta to reinforce Canadian Tire's dwindling ranks amidst a competitive job market.

A Sun source said at least 57 foreign workers arrived in the city last Saturday, destined to work for the national retail giant in Red Deer, Calgary and Airdrie.

Although not a tidal wave yet, the number of companies turning to foreign labour to fill less skilled positions is growing, said Calgary Chamber of Commerce president Heather Douglas yesterday.

With the Christmas rush looming, bringing workers from overseas is a quick fix to a crucial problem in the retail sector, she said.

"It is still a small percentage ... but certainly more chamber members are telling us that more of them are looking abroad for ways to bring people in on a temporary work permit in order to get the work done and keep the economy in Calgary going," said Douglas.

Shame your shiftless ne'er-do-well drunkard cousin into doing an honest day's work for a change with this news. Why should Alberta have to import foreigners to do this work when there are able-bodied Canadians who should be doing it?

Source: Calgary Sun

Monday, November 13, 2006

Judge Not

Our governing elites have taken the view that the process of appointing judges is akin to making sausage: we should not see either lest we lose our appetites.

Which is why there is now much indignation that mere policemen should be permitted to look in on the process:

The Tory plan to add a seat for police officers to the seven-member judicial advisory committees in each province has been blasted by legal experts. They warn it will politicize the legal process, increase the chance of patronage and give the federal justice minister too much sway in the committees, which make recommendations to the minister about potential judges.

But the head of the Canadian Professional Police Association says he's astounded by the criticism.

"I was very surprised - shocked, even - to see that some people would prefer remaining in their ivory towers," association president Tony Cannavino said Monday.

"These (officers) will bring to the table an important, practical perspective on the justice system.


Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and the Canadian Bar Association have criticized the government move, warning that it risks compromising the independence of the judicial system.

One wonders how giving the police a voice in the appointment of judges compromises judicial independence. The police are not being allowed to exercise a veto, or even to control the vetting process; they are merely being offered their chance to offer observations and recommendations based on how they've seen prosecutors and defence counsel conduct themselves in court.

If anything, the advisory panel should be expanded to take in people who observe candidate lawyers in all their professional capacities: corporate executives dealing with in-house and outside counsel; academics with law professors; public servants with government lawyers; and so forth.

Surely all of them can offer insights into the conduct, reputation and competence of those lawyers who might be elevated to the bench?

Source: Yahoo

The Greening Of Garth?

Ever since was ejected from the Conservative caucus for leaking caucus confidences to the world on , the fearless, peerless honourable member from Halton has been busy keeping chronicling his ongoing flirtation with the Green Party.

Now, has been keeping us in suspense with cryptic hints about "disturbing" messages he's been receiving from PMO.

Will consummate his flirtation with the Green Party?

What's in those disturbing messages?

Tune in tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. for answers from !

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Peace Train Derailed

Yusuf Islam (the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens) has long been suspected of being an Islamic terror fellow-traveller, his denials to the contrary.

And Britain's most infamous imam, Omar Bakri Mohammed, is telling all.

Wild world indeed, eh? No wonder the U.S. has denied Cat Stevens entry.

Between The Blanks, Row On Row

Though the forces of German imperialism have long since been defeated, the forces of transnational progressivism continue their relentless attacks on all fronts, even on Remembrance Day:

Parents at a west-end Toronto school balked this week after crosses were removed from a Remembrance Day display in the name of religious equality.

When teacher Tom Ramanauskas' Grade 3 students at Swansea Public School decorated a bulletin board outside their classroom for Remembrance Day, they included the poppies and crosses symbolized in John McCrae's In Flanders Fields, a poem they had read in class.

But on Thursday, the school's principal had a conversation with Mr. Ramanauskas that prompted him to drop the crosses.

''It was the teacher's decision to take that down, I just made a comment,'' said Faegi Bines, Swansea's principal. After that comment, all but two crosses -- both bearing the names of students' grandparents -- were cut from the display.

Ms. Bines said she told the teacher, ''It represented one aspect of one of the religions represented in the school.'' She questioned the display because it didn't reflect the diversity of the school, and wanted it to represent ''all of the nationalities of the people who fell in the war in order to be respectful to the diversity of the school.''

Incredible how in the name of tolerance and diversity, a simple cross standing by itself can be such a provocation that it frightens its advocates.

But then, it is a reminder of the enemy that transnational progressivism fears most.

Source: National Post

Saturday, November 11, 2006

For The Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Laurence Binyon

Friday, November 10, 2006

Balance Of Power

As Michael Ignatieff is learning to his regret, there is a certain "n-word" that is especially offensive to say in public, indeed more so when coupled with a certain "c-word."

However, as long as one does not say the "n-word," in certain contexts, it may be permissible to say the "c-word," even in polite company.

Which is what Stephen Harper hopes he can do without causing too many ripples:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is discreetly sounding out some provincial premiers about setting formal limits on Ottawa's powers, even if it means possibly reopening the Constitution, sources say.

While discussions are at a preliminary stage, officials in Ottawa and several provinces suggested constraints on the federal spending power could eventually take the form of a constitutional amendment explicitly restricting Ottawa to its own areas of exclusive jurisdiction — a move that would reshape federal-provincial relations.

Under the Constitution, provinces have jurisdiction over areas such as education, social programs, municipalities and health, whereas federal responsibilities include foreign affairs, fisheries, defence and employment insurance, for instance.

Quebec and federal sources wouldn't speak for the record, but it's understood Harper has raised the topic of redefining powers in one-on-one conversations with several provincial leaders, even if it remains distant on the political horizon.


Quebec Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Benoît Pelletier last week repeated the province's position that the time is not right to reopen the Constitution, and the official pointed out Charest remains adamantly opposed to constitutional talks in the short term.

But limits on Ottawa's spending power have been a key traditional demand of successive Quebec governments, who see it as a way to formalize the province's right to opt out of programs with full financial compensation from Ottawa.

It is also one of five key requirements for Quebec's acceptance of the Constitution.

"If we're going to look at (an amendment), it has to be a done deal, not a negotiation," said the senior official, who added the proposal could have considerable political allure in Quebec.

A thorough redefinition of ss. 91 and 92 of the Constitution Act, putting to rest decades of squabbling over jurisdictional encroachment and the federal spending power, would put an end to much of the tiresome constitutional debate and remove one of the Quebec separatist movement's most powerful claims.

All without using the dreaded "n-word."

The time may not quite be ripe, but it has been 25 years since the patriation of the Constitution. A whole new political generation distanced from the rancour that followed from it has come into office. Surely it couldn't hurt to at least canvass opinion.

Source: Toronto Star

Thursday, November 09, 2006


When Peter MacKay isn't in trouble for letting Dad borrow the fax machine , he's the punchline for a tired old political joke.

In any event, of all the leading ministers in the Harper Cabinet, he is proving to be the one who has most clearly reached, if not exceeded, his level of incompetence.

When it comes time to shuffle the Cabinet, or make a new one after the next election, find a different position for him.

Cut And Run?

Well, that didn't take long:

Donald Rumsfeld, the embattled symbol of an Iraq war gone wrong, resigned as U.S. defence secretary yesterday, only hours after voters expressed their unhappiness with the war by inflicting heavy electoral losses on the Bush administration.

Many saw yesterday's surprise move as a sign that a chastened George W. Bush is searching anew for an honourable way to bring home U.S troops.

More likely, it was a bow to the new reality in Washington.

Bush must now try to work with a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate in his final two years in office.

The Democrats gained their 51st seat in the Senate yesterday with a victory in Virginia, giving the party complete domination of Capitol Hill for the first time since 1994.

Democrats have long called for Rumsfeld's head, but were joined lately by more and more Republicans.

Watch for the new Democratic-controlled Congress to cut off all funding for the Iraq mission as its first order of business, to be followed by further reductions in defence appropriations.

President Bush had better uncap his veto pen, if he doesn't want Congress to turn Iraq into another Vietnam.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

His Father's Son

While everyone else is posting about the Democratic victory in the U.S. mid-term elections (and I'll follow everyone else, as soon as I've had a chance to digest the returns and think the matter over), the world continues to turn on its axis nonetheless.

And the National Post brings us this surprisingly gushing profile of Justin Trudeau, the man being built up as the heir presumptive to the Liberal Party's leadership on little more than his surname and his looks:

"You win the lottery, and you can do two things," Mr. Trudeau, 34, said. "And when you look at it, I won the birth lottery. I got to be born to Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Margaret Sinclair... You can either begin to feel guilty about it, and hide from it, or you can say, 'Look, for some reason, I was given an undue amount of power and influence that I certainly didn't ask for and didn't earn.' So then you say, 'Well then I have to try and be worthy of it.'"

He certainly has his parents' modesty, if nothing else.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Coach's Corner

What other Canadian public figure would have been both cheered and jeered at the same time making an appearance in the House of Commons?

Here's to ya, Grapes!


While the world's attention will be focused today on the U.S. mid-term elections, in which the Republicans are likely to lose control of the House of Representatives and possibly even the Senate, Toronto's attention will remain firmly focussed on its own municipal election next week.

And for the mayor's race, it's already all over but the shouting: David Miller will bore his way back into office for four more years:

The yawning gap between Mayor David Miller and rival Jane Pitfield in Toronto's election campaign is growing wider, according to a new poll.

The Ipsos Reid survey, conducted on behalf of Global News, CFRB and the National Post, found Mr. Miller's popularity has surged 15 percentage points since nominations closed on Sept. 29. The Mayor now boasts the support of 70% of decided voters, up from 55% in a poll released five weeks ago. Conversely, Ms. Pitfield's popularity has fallen 11 points over the same period, tumbling to 29% among decided voters. The poll on Sept. 29 showed her with 40% support.

With the election less than a week away, 18% of voters remain undecided. But the growing chasm between the two leading candidates suggests Mr. Miller's victory is almost guaranteed, according to John Wright, senior vice-president of Ipsos Reid.

"People have had a chance to size up the candidates and they've made their choices," Mr. Wright said.

The survey confirms the mayoral campaign is a two-way contest between Mr. Miller and Ms. Pitfield. Only 1% of decided voters said they intend to support Stephen LeDrew, the former Liberal Party of Canada president.

"He is a colourful guy and he takes up a lot of air in the room, but the only two serious candidates in this are Jane Pitfield and David Miller," Mr. Wright said.

David Miller could have been handily defeated this year. But the old adage of politics is being proven again: you can't beat somebody with nobody.

And Jane Pitfield never made herself into somebody with a message.

So much the worse for Toronto.

Source: National Post

Monday, November 06, 2006

On The List

Kathy Shaidle brings us a most interesting report about recently declassified documents about the federal government's plans to round up suspected troublemakers if the Cold War turned hot.

I suspect that this program still exists, under a different name and in a different form, against a different group of persons.

And I suspect that under the previous government, the "subversives" were quite a different lot.

Do names such as Bishop Fred Henry, Charles McVety, Ted Morton, William Gairdner, Iain Benson, Lorna Dueck, Ted Byfield, Jim Hughes, etc., etc., sound like possible targets?

Given Enough Rope....

....Peter MacKay will hang himself.

Which is why he isn't saying much of anything about the Saddam Hussein's upcoming hanging:

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said he'll reserve passing judgment on the matter until the appeals process is complete.

"They've had an open and transparent trial where evidence was heard, but at this point, my understanding is there is an appeal process to follow, so given that fact, I think it would be pre-emptive to be passing any judgments or making any firm public declarations until all of those avenues have been exhausted,'' he said.

"Obviously there is an impact on the ground in Iraq that we have to be very cognizant of, but I suspect as with most processes, this appeal will delay the inevitable.''

MacKay's comments came following a speech at a United Jewish Appeal Federation dinner in which he affirmed Canada's support of Israel.

Just this once, I might have had more respect for him if he'd shot from the hip like he usually does.

Oh well. At least he didn't call Hussein a dog.

Source: CTV

David Miller Unveiled

You'd think that in the great Potemkin village of multiculturalism that is Toronto, courting the Muslim vote would be top priority for mayoralty candidates eager to show off their tolerance and diversity bona fides.

Unfortunately, Jane Pitfield couldn't find a burqa to wear.

And Stephen LeDrew came down with a sudden unexplained "illness."

But David Miller was there and ready to defend the veil:

Questions covered a wide range, but some zeroed in on diversity, including Miller's views on the opinion of Jack Straw, the senior Labour Party politician on Britain who said he would prefer Muslim women not to wear veils over their faces.

"I don't know exactly what Jack Straw said, but I think I disagree vehemently with what he said," Miller said.

"One of the strengths of Toronto is we can respect our own traditions and still be Torontonians.

"And I think it's an incredible strength, because we learn from each other and we all become stronger, and I support the right of people to choose."

He still doesn't get it about the veil. And he never will.

Source: Toronto Star

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A Fair Trial And A Fast Hanging

Saddam Hussein got the first, now he's going to get the second.

And true to form, the Globe and Mail is full of commentators denouncing the verdict:

Joe Wallach from Russell, Ontario, Canada writes: It appears that appropriate justice is en route but, in retrospect from someone who has always supported the US role in Iraq and who now supports the Canadian role in Afghanistan, was it all worth it? Rioting and sectarian violence are out of control and Hussein, vicious and oppressive dictator that he was, somehow managed to contain all of that.


JD Wood from Toronto, Canada writes: What a total joke. History as viewed through the eyes of the victors. History will show that the true war criminal here is GW Bush.


Globular Cluster from Canada writes: I agree that this trial was a joke, a farce...
No leader is perfect. Do people have any idea what Saddam was up against? Look at Iraq now. If he didn't take matters into his own hands the country would have been as it is now, or worse. It is unfortunate that people were killed, etc. under his rule, but I do not doubt that he had the best interests of the majority at heart. He was brave to stand up to the US. Is it wrong to have an alternative opinion. Also, I am against capital punishment in all circumstances and this is by far a very ambiguous case for it. To the US government: 'He who is without sin should cast the first stone'. No government is without sin, more or less, in its goal to improve the collective quality of life of its people.


r Bartachoke from Toronto, Canada writes: That is so sad, I mean, Saddam has been a bit brutal yes. NOTHING as brutal as the bush Administration. Since the beginning of this war Bush has killed more civilians then Saddam, almost 7 times the civlian population. He was not the enemy of the states. He was a oil/grudge issue for a president that was not voted in. Such a bad guy - Free health care - Free education.

These same people would have denounced the verdicts at Nuremburg and praised the Nazis for bringing peace and order to Germany, a peace and order so blithely destroyed by Churchill and Roosevelt. After all, didn't people know what Hitler and his men were up against, etc., etc.

To call theses commenters useful idiots would be to credit them with too much intelligence: I'm not sure what use they'd be even to those whose crimes they defend.

Source: Globe and Mail

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Gloria In Extremis: Shattered Trust

Whenever there's news that a member of the Conservative Party is feeling even slightly disgruntled about the direction of the government and the party, Gloria Galloway is right there, rushing to the scene, ready to churn out an article that suggests the beginnings of her long-expected leadership revolt.

And with the decision to tax income trusts, she doesn't disappoint:

Sean Ahern helped organize a $500-a-plate brunch last Sunday to raise money for the Conservatives in the Montreal constituency of Westmount–Ville-Marie where he was riding association president.

Yesterday, in response to the government's decision to tax income trusts, he tore up his party membership.

The Conservatives have targeted Quebec in their drive to win the seats that could give them a majority in the next election; Prime Minister Stephen Harper will announce just outside Montreal tomorrow that his government is promising to help fund highway construction in the province.

But Mr. Ahern is spitting mad, and he says there are lots of people like him — both in Montreal and across the country — who will make their voices heard at the polls.

“If the Liberals promise to leave things the way they are for existing unit holders, I'll vote for them. I've never voted for a Liberal in my life. But I will vote for them,” said Mr. Ahern, a financial planner in his 60s who has been a Conservative party member since he was 16.

“There will be hundreds of thousands of people who will never forget this. Because every day you look at your bank balance and you say, ‘those sons of bitches.'”

In a long and angry letter yesterday to the Prime Minister, Mr. Ahern said the government's actions on income trusts this week have “permanently” reduced his net worth by a “substantial” amount. Neither the increase in the seniors tax credit, nor the plan to allow pension-income splitting between spouses — both of which were announced in conjunction with the income-trust changes — will compensate for the loss, he said.

To summarize:

The president of a riding association where the Conservatives have less than zero chance of electing an MP in our lifetimes put all his nest eggs in the income trust basket and will vote Liberal if the Grits promise to put the eggs back together again.

Mind you, we don't know how much Mr. Ahern has lost--but why quibble over such minor details as actual dollar figures?

More than likely, if he is a financial planner imprudent enough to risk most of his own money on one form of security, he probably convinced his clients to do the same.

So no doubt his clients have been burning up the phone lines screaming at him for losing their money on his promises of infinite income trust wealth.

This is not a story about a disillusioned life-long Tory reluctantly abandoning the party over a crisis of conscience, but another investor looking for someone else to blame for his losses.

Source: Globe and Mail

Friday, November 03, 2006


The real crime is not that this man was a tax evader and previously convicted fraudster.

The real crime was that he helped foist more of the worst pizza in the world on unsuspecting people:

The flamboyant, convicted con man who helped build Pizza Pizza into a fast food empire has been arrested and charged with income tax evasion.

Lorn Austin, 57, surrendered to police early yesterday and was brought to Old City Hall court in Toronto for a bail hearing. The Canadian-born Austin, who now lives in Florida, was released later in the day after his father posted bail.


Federal prosecutor Rob Goldstein alleges Austin kept secret from the taxman more than $2 million in payments Pizza Pizza made to him between 1993 and 2001. Goldstein told court that Austin wilfully evaded paying about $650,000 in taxes on that money.


Back in the 1990s Austin was centre stage in a mammoth battle between franchisees of the pizza company and management. Franchisees who invested life savings to start their businesses alleged the company treated them unfairly and Austin and company owner Michael Overs eventually faced the franchisees in court. The company ended up paying some of the franchisees a small amount of money and Pizza Pizza continued to grow. Issues arising out of the case (many explored by Star stories) eventually moved the provincial government towards legislation to protect franchisees.

Show this reprobate no mercy. Sentence him to a year of eating nothing but that flavourless cardboard mush his ex-employer calls pizza.

Source: Toronto Star

Lost In Translation

The MSM would like us all to believe that Omar Khadr was merely an innocent Canadian boy caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, or at worst, a slightly misguided juvenile delinquent whose tendencies ran towards the political as opposed to the merely criminal.

But now that the U.S. has given more details about why he's been enjoying their hospitality at Guantanamo Bay, that line will be even more difficult to maintain:

Omar Khadr, the only Canadian imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, was working as a translator in Afghanistan for a man described as a senior al-Qaeda leader, his eldest brother said -- a revelation that may solve the mystery of why the U.S. government has maintained such an unusual interest in the young Toronto-born man.

At the time Omar was captured by American forces in Afghanistan in 2002, he was a translator for Abu Laith al-Libi, according to statements made to the RCMP by Abdullah Khadr.

Libi is best known for declaring that Osama bin Laden remained "in good health" during the invasion of Afghanistan by coalition forces after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and for rallying Taliban fighters to renew their attacks on Western targets.

He has since become a spokesman in Afghanistan for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, according to foreign news accounts.

The fact that Libi remains at large and continues to exhort violence on behalf of al-Qaeda -- including a call earlier this year for a continued holy war to reinstate the Taliban regime -- likely adds urgency to the interest U.S. authorities have in Omar.

Libi could be the key to finding Osama bin Laden, or as is increasingly likely, Osama bin Laden's remains. If for no other reason, the U.S. should be pumping Omar Khadr dry for all the information he's got. Even if every word of it turns out to be a lie, including, "a", "an" and "the."

Source: National Post

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Volpemania: Feeling Fine!

Joe Volpe can keep his $20,000, after all.

Pizza's on Joe!

Source: CTV

Too Trusting

Now you'd think that the Toronto Star would be cheering the Conservative government's decision to tax income trusts, thus preventing more corporations from avoiding paying their fair share of income tax.

But this is the self-proclaimed newspaper champion of the common man, after all, so naturally they've found some common men as victims:

On paper, former hospital janitor Ron Cann is down about $18,000, which is more than he earns in a year. Noel Chaney of Vancouver Island estimates he lost about $65,000 and has started to think about selling his house. David and Lorraine Marshall of Cornwall stand to lose about $100,000, and that's enough to make David regret every lawn sign he pounded into the ground for the Conservatives in the last election.

"The big thing is they lied to us," said Marshall, a former trucker, of the government's decision to tax income trusts, a popular investment vehicle among retirees. "I worked for the candidate here, putting lawn signs up and all those things based on this one issue, income trusts.

"They said they wouldn't touch it. This is completely out of the blue."

It isn't just that the Conservatives changed the rules on income trusts; it's the fact they reversed their stance on the issue that has investors hopping mad.

Lost in all these heart-wrenching stories of retirees' dreams and financial security cruelly shattered overnight is one simple fact: no one forced them to put all of their eggs in one basket.

If they gambled everything on income trusts, the responsibility for their losses is theirs alone. Market conditions change every day, and it would have been irresponsible to assume that income trusts would remain untouched forever.

Don't shed too many tears for those who forgot the first lesson of investing for retirement: diversify!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


The income trust has been Canada's great contribution to the world of corporate finance and taxation: monthly distributions of cash flows to unit holders have fattened many an investment portfolio and cut many a corporate tax bill.

No wonder why every corporation that could become an income trust wanted to.

But when BCE did, the party was over, and now Jim Flaherty has to play killjoy:

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced late Tuesday that the government will impose a tax on income trust distributions, a move expected to upset markets and halt conversion plans by two of Canada’s biggest corporations.

The tax will be introduced in two phases. Distributions from existing trusts will not face charges until 2011, giving them four years to adjust to the change.

But distributions from new trusts would be taxed beginning in 2007. This is key as two of Canada’s biggest corporations, Telus Corp. and BCE Inc. announced this fall they would convert their multibillion-dollar operations into tax-friendly trusts.


In a hastily-called news conference, Mr. Flaherty said he was forced to act due to the "growing trend of corporate tax avoidance" — an estimated $70-billion in new trusts coming to market this year alone.

"We were faced with a situation where Canada was moving to an income trust economy. Is that a good thing for Canada? No," he said.

"If corporations don’t pay their share of taxes, this tax burden will shift onto the shoulders of hardworking individuals and families. This is simply not fair."

This policy change should pass with little difficulty. I can't imagine any of the opposition parties wanting to cast themselves as defenders of Bay Street tax avoiders, not even the Liberals.

Source: National Post