Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Sea to Sky highway, the 2010 Olympics and the BC Rail link up

Ever wonder why there are no tolls put on the Olympic legacy known as the Sea to Sky highway?

There are tolls. Campbell promised them to his big business buddies. And we're paying them. But what you may not know is that at least one journalist reported back in the early days of the Sea to Sky project that the BC Ministry of Transportation was spending money, ($166 million), gained from the sale of BC Rail to fund phase 1 of the highway project.

Think about that for a minute.

Campbell promises that he won't sell BC Rail, then, suddenly, while falsely claiming that BC Rail was a money-losing proposition, puts it on the chopping block. Ideology of a fanatic bottom-liner or was there something more sinister at work here?

Here's some meat to chew on. The Vancouver/Whistler Olympic bid was not a sure thing. In the first round Pyeongchang, South Korea led the short list with 51 votes to Vancouver's 40. Salzberg, Austria received only 16 votes which effectively eliminated that city. What that meant was that virtually all of those who had voted for Salzberg would have to shift their votes to Vancouver if the Vancouver bid was to succeed in the second round of voting.

Problem. Money. Campbell, who had a bevy of pals wrapped up in the Olympic bid process, was made fully aware that the greatest stumbling block to a successful bid was a highway between Vancouver and Whistler that was too long, too dangerous and subject to road-blocking slides. The only way to overcome that massive obstacle would be to commit to IOC officials that the thoroughfare would be totally rebuilt in time to host an Olympic party. But where would the money come from?

Sell an asset... and sell it fast. BC Rail.

On 28 August, 2002, Vancouver makes the short list of four cities bidding on the 2010 Winter Olympics. The IOC cites the Sea to Sky Highway as a problem. The Vancouver Olympic bid committee has until 10 January, 2003 to submit a bid book, complete with the proposed plan to solve the one problem cited by the IOC. * 

On 13 May, 2003, Gordon Campbell broke an election promise and announced that BC Rail would be sold.

On 2 July, 2003, the IOC announced that Vancouver would host the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

On 25 November, 2003, Campbell announced that the government had accepted the bid from CN to purchase BC Rail. (OK... a 990 year lease.) More than one of the other bidders complained that the deal had been rigged in favour of CN.

On 10 January, 2004, flush with money from the sale of BC Rail, the Campbell government releases a Capital Project Plan known as the Sea to Sky highway improvement project.

If you don't smell something there your nose isn't working.

Over to Laila Yule.

* Paragraph added as update.

40 years

For admitting to killing an invading soldier in a firefight. As a child soldier.

From Ian Welsh:

Others have covered this more than I have, but to me the initial charges were always absurd.  He killed a soldier in a firefight in a country that the US invaded.  The idea that doing so qualifies as murder is ridiculous, unless we also want to charge everyone who kills an invading soldier with murder?  And, I suppose, charge every American soldier in Iraq (a clear case of pre-emptive war, illegal under the Geneva conventions and exactly what Americans hung Germans for at Nuremburg) with murder?

Kangaroo court justice, the victors punishing the losers, for “crimes” far more minor than those the victors have committed.  Get back to me when George Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Colin Powell are in the dock, and we’ll talk.

And don't expect a Khadr to be repatriated to Canada to serve out his sentence (after his initial year in solitary confinement). The Harper hillbillies are deep into punishment of anyone they don't like and happy to ignore the rule of law where such things are inconvenient to the pursuit of their rigid and thoughtless ideology. 

Propensities . . .

THE CHRONICAL REVIEW has a thoughtful article by Michael Nelson, "Warrior Nation". Many writers have decried the militaristic nature of the American republic, but Michael Nelson has some observations worthy of your attention in his commentary on Andrew J. Bacevich's new book, Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War, Reasons to Kill: Why Americans Choose War by Richard E. Rubenstein, and political-science professor Peter Beinart's recent The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris. First, the roots run deep:

even in colonial times, "there was either a declared war or a conflict for 79 of the 179 years from just before the founding of Jamestown until 1785, nominally the end of the Revolution."

Second, the end of the Draft and the removal of ROTC from most American colleges has caused a shift in the make-up of the officer core over time.

With the partial exception of Bacevich's Washington Rules, however, all of them neglect or underplay the importance of two critical Vietnam-era decisions: the replacement of the draft-based army with the All-Volunteer Force (AVF) and the roughly simultaneous expulsion of Reserve Officer Training Corps units from many elite campuses. Taken together, those decisions have made the nation's inclination to war and other military action greater than at any time in its already war-saturated history.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

If you find an M72 anti-tank weapon....

This is the last thing you should do. Without more than a cursory glance any trained individual can see the safety is out and the weapon is cocked. And, it turns out, there was a live round in the tube.

People are still scratching their heads as to where this thing came from, after being discovered on the Malahat, just south of Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island.

Hint: These things don't have serial numbers, but they do have batch numbers. And the sights are ancient compared to later versions.

Perhaps future posts will include pictures of an infantryman swinging a chainsaw or an engine room artificer running a wood chipper he found in the bush.

Funding climate change denial a crime against humanity?

So asks Donald Brown, a Penn State Environmental Law professor:

...Although it may be reasonable to be somewhat skeptical about climate change models, some corporate sponsored participants in the climate change disinformation campaign have been spreading deeply misleading distortions about the science of climate change. These untruths are not based upon reasonable skepticism but outright falsification and distortions of climate change science. These claims have included assertions that that the science of climate change that is the foundation for calls to action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been completely "debunked" and that there is no evidence of human causation of recent observed warming. Reasonable skepticism cannot make these claims or others frequently being made by the well-financed climate change disinformation campaign...

...that the oil, coal and utility industries have collectively spent $500 million just since the beginning of 2009 to lobby against legislation to address climate change and to defeat candidates who support actions to reduce the threat of climate change. It would be one thing for an American corporation to act irresponsibly in a way that leads to harm to Americans, but because of climate change's global scope, American corporation's have been involved in behavior that likely will harm tens of millions of people around the world. Clearly this is a new type of crime against humanity. Skepticism in science is not bad, but skeptics must play by the rules of science including publishing their conclusions in peer-reviewed scientific journals and not make claims that are not substantiated by the peer-reviewed literature. The need for responsible skepticism is particularly urgent if misinformation from skeptics could lead to great harm. For this reason, this disinformation campaign being funded by some American corporations is some kind of new crime against humanity.
III. Conclusion
The international community does not have a word for this type of crime yet, but the international community should find a way of classifying extraordinarily irresponsible scientific claims that could lead to mass suffering as some type of crime against humanity.

Winnipeg election

Here is where we juxtapose...

Dr. Dawg shows us the style political activism of the largest cohort of military fetishists in the US.

And Jymn (via Antonia) floors us with the 41 per cent reported rape rate in the US military.

I might gently suggest that it isn't ideas social conservatism, it isn't free markets or fiscal restraint, or some other intellectual fancy that drive this thing we call [contemporary] conservatism. It is a latent preference for misanthropic and misecological violence.

In its more sophisticated form, it manifests as policies that punish the poor for being poor, builds prisons, and makes a hobby out of war. Or thinks little of leaving gaping sores on the Earth to feed the want of machines and trinkets.

It its distilled form it is a tyrant of the lizard brain that lynches, rapes and kerb-stomps. It cuts down forests, kills oceans, and consumes a billion years of ancient sun and life to drive four blocks for a hamburger.

Immune systems in complex organisms have the capacity to 'wall off' pathogens, toxins, and compromised tissue within the organism. Our social and political systems can do the same...

Gordon Campbell wants you to behave like a whore

Here. If I give you a few extra bucks promise you won't phone my house. (The link is to the corrected version of Campbell's TV address on 27 October)

That was the message from the leader of a provincial government awash in the sewage of scandal. I will give you $136 if you just shut up and go away. Unless you're one of those higher-priced types. Here's even more. Just don't call me at home.

I didn't see Campbell's speech. I've read it several times. It is no more or less than the condescending offer of a "John" attempting to buy cover for actions he didn't expect to be discovered.  The reaction to a direct threat of exposure.

While we're all infuriated with the way the HST was simply foisted on us, not only without warning, but after being assured that it wasn't going to happen, Campbell's little offer of a few bucks to keep our fingers off the phone buttons is a blatant insult. He's trying to buy his survival.

The BC Rail scandal won't go away. As one newspaper put it, the trial which lasted longer than the 2nd World War was a disgrace. There is distinct stench of corruption which extends much further than the two convicted criminals in the BC Rail case. From the beginning, there has been government interference, including that of Campbell and his cabinet, in an attempt to obstruct and camouflage. Given the energy politicians expended to cover things up any reasonable person would speculate that Campbell and his closest caporegimes had something very dirty to hide. And what's worse, after seven years, 18 million bucks and suggestions of a buy off, one of the fall guys can't even live with the kiss he was given as a sentence.

But that speech.

Campbell trotted out his deprived childhood. See, I was a poor kid, so I know what it's like. Except that Campbell doesn't know. His mother shielded him from that, and a 21st Century single mother is only too happy to point that out. Not to mention that if, when Campbell was a kid, there had a been a premier and a government like that which Campbell runs today, it would have been working furiously to eliminate her taxpayer funded position and reduce her to a near-minimum-wage job.

If anything says "desperation" however, it is the announcement itself. The premier of a province announces a something usually left to the finance minister at budget time. That would be February 2011. So, five months before his finance minister can produce the annual economic plan for government, the premier takes money from the chest and offers it up... if you'll just keep quiet about.... everything. Please don't ruin my life by phoning my house.

It was the concluding statement, however, which sealed it. Campbell is scrambling for one reason and he made it clear as he faded to black. When he said he had "learned a lot" and described the power of British Columbians working together and and focusing on an objective, he didn't mention that the initiative campaign to repeal the HST was the ultimate demonstration of that resolute power. No, he said it was the 2010 winter Olympics.

He doesn't want you to phone his house. If you do, you'll upset the legacy he thinks he's built for himself. He wants to be remembered as the premier who brought the Olympic games to BC; not the one who was surrounded by corruption scandals, angry grass roots initiative campaigns and voter-led recall rebellions.

Call him. And rip his chosen legacy to shreds. Because Campbell clearly doesn't care about you, about the economy of the province or grade 4 students. He cares only about his red-mittened self.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thanks, Dan . . .

Canada tightens sanctions on the moon...

Or the foreign policy ninjas in our government might as well have for all the impact they'll have
Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon announced the new restrictions on Thursday in Ottawa, saying Canada is taking a "principled stand against those who recklessly commit acts of aggression in violation of international law."
“North Korea’s aggressive actions represent a grave threat to international security and are particularly troubling with regard to stability in northeast Asia,” Cannon told reporters. “North Korea must take tangible steps in improving its behaviour and complying with its obligations under international law.”

Yeah, Larry sure pwned those guys. Just like when he showed the United Nations our wicked diplo skilz by getting Michael Ignatieff to cleverly upset 60 years of Security Council tradition. Portugal doesn't know what hit them.  Showed those pinko Euro-weenies the Con judo too, didn't he?  
Hey, but at least he gets to look all hard and assertive (check the steely eyes in the photo!) 'cause he got to punish something today. And at the end of the day punishing people really what gets these Con-boys off isn't it?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Corruption around the world . . .

TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL has released its 2010 world corruption index. Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore are the least corrupt, with Finland, Sweden and Canada right behind.  At the other end, there's Somalia and Myanmar.

Your Tea Party

Warning: the following links are highly disturbing, showing video of the physical and sexual violence toward women.

First, Juan Cole compares video of the Taliban with Tea Party  supporters beating women in public. Failed state, and failing state.

Next, Jymn at Sister Sage draws attention to the sexual assault of Lauren Valle by Tea Party supporter Mike Pezzano during her head-stomping by Tim Profitt.

I don't think I can finish my breakfast.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I thought it was about equality...

CAVEAT/DISCLAIMER: The following are simple examples from my interpretation of some of my experiences and I don't mean to infer that these are universal. This is simply meant to be an illustrative post and there are great many of all sexualities with differing viewpoints on the issues I discuss.

Even still, I think I might be wading into something messy with this post, but here goes...

A few years ago I was sitting around in a neutral space having drinks with about half a dozen women, median age maybe near 32. I was the only male. The women were a mix of lesbian, bisexual and straight. Somewhere over the course of a few hours they all decided they were going to to go the lesbian bar. I was informed in no uncertain terms that even though I was really nice for a male, I was not welcome to join them, and that they would hope I would understand. 'Heh,' I thought, 'now isn't this an awkward bit of interesting.'

A bit of a focus group followed because, being curious and relatively unfamiliar with the nuances of the politics of orientation sexuality, I wanted to know how my exclusion was rationalised. It transpired that some of the women felt there were degrees of welcome at the bar based on sexual orientation and anatomy. I, as a straight male, was most unwelcome and it would not go over well were I to tag along. Gay males were permitted, but not wholly welcome and shouldn't make a habit of it. Straight women were more welcome, although some of the gay women felt uncomfortable with the idea that straight women should go to lesbian bars and that they shouldn't make a habit of it either. Bisexual women were more welcome, but also not entirely as welcome as lesbians.

The rationale for these degrees of discrimination seemed to revolve around two related themes. First, in broader terms the women and especially the lesbians felt their bar was a safe space and men were something of a violation of that space. Second, the discrimination based on sexual preference seemed to come from a desire by the lesbians to feel it was safe to approach other women in the bar. I recall the word 'safe' emerging quite a bit in the discussion. Ah.

I more recently had a conversation with a friend who considers herself queer and doesn't like sexual identity labels, but usually ends up dating women and her closer circle of friends are lesbian. She informed me that she finds it troublesome to openly have male friends or partners because of the gossip and judgement that she feels from her peer group. "Ouch" me thinks.

Now while I'm sympathetic to the rationales around safe spaces for oppressed and marginalised groups, I ultimately don't really have a lot of time for anyone who uses discrimination to fight discrimination. Although aspects of power might shift favourably for the oppressed group now asserting itself, ultimately it emphasises and perpetuates lines of difference. This appears counter to the broader goal of equality.  I understand why typologies like LGBTQQI matter now as society progresses and starts to set aside its rigid constructions of sexuality. will we reach a point where those labels no longer matter, or the typology expands to the point where it becomes unwieldy?

All things being equal (yes, with climate change and the like, this is a huge caveat), I like to think the world of 2050 might look back on sexual and gender politics of 2010 as uh, just a little complicated compared to the future where variation is simply accepted...without the politics of today's boundaries.

So a few questions for readers - some of you are perhaps much more versed in the nuances of this than I am - arise:

- Is it OK to discriminate based on gender and sexual orientation in some circumstances? Was I right to be excluded?

- If so, why? How is this different from discrimination based on say ethnicity or religion?

- Have I got it all wrong? Did I miss something key in the politics here?

- In broader terms, how useful are labels for non-straight sexuality in the long term? Do they help perpetuate lines of division and/or discrimination between the straight and the non-straight cohorts?

- Should there be/is there a need for division between LGBTQQI and straight communities?


Note to Murray:

Stop apologising for honesty.
An Ontario cabinet minister is apologizing for posts on Twitter in which he accused Toronto's new mayor Rob Ford of bigotry. Research and Innovation Minister Glen Murray posted in a Saturday tweet — two days ahead of Toronto's municipal election — that "If u vote Ford u r voting for bigotry." He also took aim at Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak and Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a tweet later that day.
Murray retweeted a post from another user calling Ford, Hudak and Harper the "trifecta of Republican-style, right-wing ignorance and bigotry."
Murray's tweets brought swift condemnation from Hudak, who called them libellous and called on Premier Dalton McGuinty to ask the minister to apologize or step down.
Even, especially, brutal honesty. 
We desperately need that these days instead of the unassertive pablum that lets the Fords, Harpers and the rest of their ilk run amok. Because fuck these fucking fuckers and their simple-minded misanthropy. They won't bloody well listen to you when you're polite and mute. No, they mock and stomp all over you and get themselves elected when you're like that. Little bullies with little followers who laugh when you appease (right Iggy?).
Call them what they are, and then when they huff and puff high offence and demand you apologise, tell them to go to hell and point out why you said you said and demand they apologise!

The Pope and Dalton McGuinty . . .

The Pope and Dalton McGuinty are on the same stage in front of a huge crowd in Toronto .
The Pope leaned towards Mr. McGuinty and said, "Do you know that with one little movement of my hand I can make every person in this crowd go wild with joy?  This joy will not be a momentary display, but go deep into their hearts and they'll forever speak of this day and rejoice!"
 McGuinty replied, "I seriously doubt that. With one little wave of your hand? Show me."
 So the Pope backhanded McGuinty. 

Words to live by

"This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hate to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in it's words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion or joint of your body" -- Walt Whitman

And So It Begins . . . .

The organized lynching of truth-telling by way of FoxNoise, of course.

From The Guardian this morning:

A Fox News contributor and former state department adviser has accused WikiLeaks of conducting "political warfare against the US" and called for those behind the whistleblowing website to be declared "enemy combatants" so they can be subjected to "non-judicial actions".

Whiton ends with the following plea: "How much will our information-collection capabilities have to be diminished, and how many of our friends and collaborators around the world must die, (Ed: Never mind that there has been no evidence of that.) before President Obama and his friends on Capitol Hill start caring more about national security?"

Oh sure, call Julian Assange and his tribe of transparency troops "enemy combatants" so they can get the same kind of "deal" Omar Khadr got.

Compare the FoxNoise response with that of Britain's deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, who backs an investigation into the torture allegations.

An ocean away and worlds apart . . . .

Monday, October 25, 2010

Laila's on a Roll . . . .

And gordo campbell may be the one getting rolled.

Check out her latest . . . .

Good luck Mr. Ford, good luck Toronto

I felt a flash of disappointment when I read Toronto's election results. I grew up in that part of the country, and I'm very fond of the old Toronto of my childhood. Red Gloucester subway trains, avenues of century homes lined with old hardwoods. The colour and flare of Queen, the Danforth, and Harbourfront. There's a feel and character to that Toronto that I find profoundly nostalgic, and sometimes when I visit, the city flashes her eyes at me in that way again. So it bothers me on a number of levels when the people of Toronto do something so antithetical to its rich history and the personality I know. 

Rob Ford isn't old Toronto. He isn't of Kensington or the Beaches. Or the mansions of Wychwood, or the rainbows on Church. He isn't a rainy autumn ferry to a folk festival on the Island.  He isn't hidden cafes and dark pubs, theatres and concert halls. He isn't sticky summer nights roaming the city bathed in drink, neon and streetlamps, searching, laughing with friend.  You won't find him haunting the stone around the U of T. Ford is alien to all these things.

This man represents the new Toronto I don't recognise. Aside from his ruddy face, he is colourless. He's like the vast suburbs that now extract spirit from of the city core. Bloated, layer upon bloated layer of uniform tissue that now surrounds Toronto and draws the lifeblood from the old core, draining it with the repetitive entropy of mediocrity and outrage. He's part of the new Toronto that so recently pimped out the sacred citizenry to the violence of the visiting state.

The city's gone wobbly in the head, and lost its bearing. Ford is the product of this and for all his lunacy about bikes, taxes, and the like, he's made promises that as Chet points out, are impossible to deliver on successfully if at all. That this new Toronto elected him shows they suffer from the same dementia that produced Ford. Maybe deep down the new mayor realises some of this, but likely not. Either way, he's about to find out what it takes to run a city and the limits of the mayor's office.

So my flash of anger passed. It is plain to the watchers that Ford, despite the views of much of the electorate, hasn't got the wherewhithal to handle the pressures office or understand the needs of a city. It's also bleeding obvious that enough of Toronto has bought into his bloviating populism and doesn't 'get it' either. Scandals and other disaster await him and it won't be easy for anyone, including his worship - but it might be entertaining in places. But this is how the Toronto of this generation is meant to learn.

So I say good luck, because they're all going to need if they want to find the next election without too much harm done, but enough for them to learn who not to re-elect.

Outward bound

Single up, Number One. There's waves to conquer and pirates to defeat.

OK. Maybe not so many pirates.

We're over the horizon for a while.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Let me off the plane!!

Why we fought
Holy Jeebus! Strike Castellammare di Stabia off my vacation list.
A seaside city in Italy is planning to ban miniskirts and other provocative clothing to improve what the mayor calls standards of public decency. 

Castellammare di Stabia is trying to be the latest location in Italy to make use of new powers to crack down on what is deemed to be anti-social behaviour. 

Mayor Luigi Bobbio said the regulations would help "restore urban decorum and facilitate better civil co-existence".

Offenders would face fines of between 25 ($35) and 500 euros ($696).
Apparently Bobbio missed the several decades during which mini-skirts became very much a normal form of apparel for many women. But, whoa! It gets even more bizaare.
There will also be a ban on sunbathing, playing football in public places, and blasphemy, if the proposals are approved at a council meeting on Monday.
Oh! Worse...
In other places they have banned sandcastles, kissing in cars, feeding stray cats, wooden clogs and the use of lawn mowers at weekends.
And soon, the whole of Italy will return to its past days of glory as a fragmented feudal kingdom ripe for the picking by Norman knights.
Strike the whole country off my vacation list.

Oh yes... there was this.

"I think it's the right decision," a local parish priest, Don Paulo Cecere, told the Cronache di Napoli newspaper. "It's also a way of combating the rise in sexual harassment."
Of course the local papal vicar would have something to say. Combat sexual harassment? Ohhhh.... vicar, you are in deep shit now. Mini-skirts don't cause sexual harassment - men with the wrong attitude do however. So, now sexual harassment is the fault of women wearing mini-skirts. Hmmm.
Take it away lasses:

Canadian Company contributing to US anti-progressive campaign

Take a look at this from ThinkProgress.(Emphasis mine)

The United States Chamber of Commerce is running an unprecedented $75 million campaign to unseat progressives from Congress, in defense of a big-oil agenda. As a ThinkProgress investigation has learned Chamber’s donors — who send their checks to the same account from which the political campaign is run — include multinational oil corporations, and even oil companies owned by the Kingdom of Bahrain. The oil-fueled Chamber has hammered candidates who voted to limit our dependence on oil, falsely claiming they supported a “job-killing energy tax”
Which puts a Canadian company amongst those actively funding a US political campaign intentionally attempting to unseat Democrats.
Interesting. SNC Lavalin is contributing to a U.S. election on a scale they are prevented from doing in Canada.

And, if you think the above isn't linked to this, well then go read Dowd and keep your eyes open for this part:

The 5-to-4 Citizens United decision last January gave corporations, foreign contributors, unions, Big Energy, Big Oil and superrich conservatives a green light to surreptitiously funnel in as much money as they want, whenever they want to elect or unelect candidates. As if that weren’t enough to breed corruption, Thomas was the only justice — in a rare case of detaching his hip from Antonin Scalia’s — to write a separate opinion calling for an end to donor disclosures.
Which should lead you to look up at the ceiling and ask, "What other Canadian corporations are contributing to US political campaigns?"
Yeah. I'd be looking for a massive scar on the earth's surface. And I wouldn't look further than northern Alberta.

Linked: Bruyea and Harper

The ever-vigilant Impolitical.

Harper knew. Harper lied. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

At it again...

First it was Airshow and Red Dawn. Now it's Conservative MP for Nanaimo-Alberni Dr. James Lunney, seen here all dolled up like a sailor on HMCS Calgary.  Ok, to be fair, this was part of a program where members of the upper and lower houses get to go play sailor, soldier or pigeon for five days:

Dr. Lunney was aboard the frigate taking part in the Canadian Forces Parliamentary Program, where MPs and Senators are embedded with their choice of Navy, Army or Air Force units, most often during major exercises. A key aspect of the program is that they be given the opportunity to experience the “real” CF through hands-on experience; not as VIPs but as ordinary Canadians.
His first time aboard a Canadian warship, Dr. Lunney spent five days in Calgary as the ship was conducting fleet navigation officers’ training off the coast of British Columbia.  Despite some initial challenges – stepping over the anchor cable and enduring a high speed encounter between his head and the top of the rack above – he quickly settled into shipboard routine.

To be clear, Opposition MPs did participate in this year's program. However, it still looks a little like Con propaganda to have the action story of their MP front and centre on the DND website. Indeed it seems to be a bit of a trend, given the earlier Nijmegen coverage with our discomfortably happy defence minister.

Now that it's over, let's get started. BC Rail ain't near dead yet

The sudden termination of the BC Rail trial, convenient in that it comes just days before BC premier and convicted drunk driver Gordon Campbell addresses the citizens of British Columbia while they're washing up from supper on 27 October, doesn't mean it's all over.

As The Gazetteer points out, with the sham over and the judicial gag order ended, we can start asking questions again and we can start pointing at facts and timelines which were hitherto subject to a publication ban.

One of the mysteries of the whole BC Rail sale scandal was the sudden and unexpected departure of BC Rail point man and then BC Finance Minister, Gary Collins. There is speculation that Collins was about to be interviewed by the RCMP regarding certain cabinet documents. Indeed, Collins was to be next into the witness box when the defendants of the corruption trial suddenly changed their pleas to "guilty" and prevented the defence examination of Collins.

Convenient. And it remains just as mysterious. The question now centers around whether certain lawyers and deputy ministers were involved in an obstruction of justice and whether there was a violation of the Dhom Protocol, a court ordered procedure to allow police access to cabinet documents. If there was such a violation then the parties involved were in contempt of court.

A further question exists: Was Gary Collins warned in advance that he was to be questioned by the RCMP? And if so, who warned him?

Well it’s over now.  So where’s the investigation into obstruction of justice and other violations of the Criminal Code with respect to the Premier’s office handling of documents at the heart of the investigation?

What we really need to know is this.  Could Dobell have warned Gary Collins that he was about to be interviewed by the RCMP regarding key documents in the case?  After all he met him in cabinet at least once a week.  And doesn’t that constitute contempt of Justice Dohm’s order?  Or maybe even obstruction of justice?

Gary Collins was supposed to be next up.  Wouldn’t those be questions the defence might have wanted to ask?  How convenient for the Premier’s office that that won’t take place now.
Back to that 27 October, 7 pm address by Campbell on Global TV. You can make book that the BC Rail sale and the corruption which surrounded it won't be mentioned. This will be Campbell pleading for his political life over the fiasco created by the introduction of Harmonized Sales Tax. While that event has cut the residents of BC to the quick, it is nothing to compared to the waste laid to the province by a bunch of right-wing ideologues who regularly demonstrate that they hate all but the wealthiest of BC's citizens.

For a list you have to read Laila Yuile. And we should all read Laila Yuile.

Today is the day Stockwell Day celebrates as the Day it all began

Don't be bugging Stockwell Day for anything today. He will be wrapped up in Genesis 1 - 2 marveling at how some entity out there in... wherever, got bored and decided to invent a planet complete with a few dozen species of plants, some animals (dinosaurs included, although they aren't mentioned in the books Day will be reading), the odd fish, daylight, night-time and some pretty points of light in the night sky to keep the pagans occupied.

PZ Myers reminds us that today is... Creation Day! The world, (which did not wear out in 1997 as forecast) was created on this date in 4004 BC according to the Ussher chronology. As PZ points out, this is an occasion for heavy drinking. (Not that I personally ever needed such a reason).

It also makes people do weird things. Like create enormous complex graphs of the history of the world, the likes of which you can't possibly fathom, especially since the first 2200 years of Earth "history" is condensed into one small book written by an anonymous individual who would have you believe that people lived for hundreds of years... back then.

So... it's party time! Or not. In this century if you continue to believe in such rubbish you shouldn't be in a position to govern anything more than a chicken coop.

US Supreme Court unravellings

Oh yeah. When the togas come off the Bush appointees look pretty much like every other corrupt conservative.

John Roberts.

I'm investigating articles of impeachment against Justice Roberts for perjuring during his Senate hearings

But that doesn't even touch what Clarence Thomas is facing. 

The ex-girlfriend of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas says he was "obsessed" with pornography and made lewd sexual references to the women he worked with.

Nearly two decades after Anita Hill testified that Thomas had sexually harassed her, Lillian McEwen, who dated Thomas in the 1980s, says Hill's allegations are not unfounded.
That's so cool. Especially since Thomas' wife made an early morning (couldn't have been drunk) phone call to Anita Hill demanding she apologize for her testimony at Thomas' confirmation hearings.
Tea Partiers have a habit of doing stupid things. And they are pretty good at finding their way around a law. You see, the decision which John Roberts handed down, in a case that was not before the Supreme Court, has a direct impact on Ginni Thomas, whose paycheque comes from anonymous financial donors now permitted to remain anonymous thanks to Roberts and his activist interference in a case the Supreme Court should never have heard.

Liberty Central, the organization founded by Virginia Thomas, has accepted a great deal of money from secret donors, all of which is legal under the Supreme Court's 2010 decision striking down many of the previous limits on campaign spending. But Gillers notes Virginia Thomas is CEO and president of the group and that an opportunistic donor, by giving money to an organization that pays Virginia Thomas' salary, is in fact giving a financial benefit to Justice Thomas, too. And that could constitute a financial conflict.
Divorce will occur, of course, only if the rules of the spouse swapping party are violated. Even conservatives have their limits. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Putting our space where our big mouth is....

Let's make this a regular event. Blog awards are really cool if you're one of the new kids on the scene. They can give you exposure you might not otherwise be able to gather in.

Hell, I did it. Vanity may be some kind of Christian sin, but it is pretty human. Most of us don't do this for money so there has to be some kind of reward. Most of us are pretty happy with an increased traffic count.

If I write, it would be nice if I'm not writing to myself and yelling at a mirror.

A lot of you are writing some pretty fine stuff. And not getting enough notice for it.

If somebody wants to manufacture an award program, that's just dandy. Personally, I know that most of us don't seek an award. We'd just like to have our views, ideas and reach as many interested readers as possible.

So, tell us what you've got. As I told Simon, I'd much rather open this small place to a larger audience and be able to add you to our blogroll.

So put your latest, your best, your favourite into comments with a link.

The best way to find you is if you give us a marker. Go for it.

Be Careful 'Bout Cryin' Wolf . . . .

With today's release of 400,000+ Department of Defense documents on the Iraq war by WikiLeaks, once again the MSM is playing the Pentagon's mouthpiece quite well.

Reuters: (Lead paragraph.) The Pentagon said on Friday it does not expect big surprises from an imminent release of up to 500,000 Iraq war files by WikiLeaks, but warned that U.S. troops and Iraqis could be endangered by the file dump.

CBC: (Hillary Clinton)
"We should condemn in the most clear terms the disclosure of any classified information by individuals and organizations which puts the lives of United States and partner service members and civilians at risk," she said in Washington, D.C.

CNN: "This is all classified secret information never designed to be exposed to the public," Morrell told CNN. "Our greatest fear is that it puts our troops in even greater danger than they inherently are on these battlefields. "


Didn't we hear the same dire warnings back when Wikileaks released the 70,000+ documents on the Afghan war?

Yes, we did.

How'd that come out, you may ask?

Well, to CNN and FoxNoise's (fer krise sake!) credit, buried down in their stories we read this:

CNN: Friday, Lapan said they know of no case where anyone in Afghanistan had been harmed because their name was in the leaked documents, but he made clear that doesn't mean such people couldn't be killed in the future.

FoxNoise: Lapan said that so far no Afghans have been killed as a direct result of WikiLeaks releasing the same type of information over the summer, but he characterized the leak as deplorable.

The Pentagon and State Department crowd might start stocking up on wolf spray and protective gear. Perhaps one day their dire warnings will go unheeded and ignored.

We'll probably have to clue the MSM in, though. It appears they're still drinking the Kool-aid and asking for refills . . . .

So stealthy...

...maybe they thought it could evade detection by the sea-bed. Apparently not.

The Royal Navy's newest and largest attack submarine HMS Astute has run aground off Skye, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed...

 Uh oh. I bet there's some interesting conversations in interesting places regarding this bit of information.
Mr McKerlich said HMS Astute was in an area of shallow water where he would not risk taking his yacht. The submarine has run aground outwith the safe sea lane marked on Admiralty charts. The channel that runs underneath the Skye Bridge has red and green buoys known as lateral markers to ensure vessels do not run aground. HMS Astute appeared to be lying in shallow water several hundred metres beyond that safe route. The Admiralty charts show submerged rocks in the area where the submarine has got into difficulty.

How dare you, you mealy mouthed pencil neck

Stephen Harper has spoken. And not a soul has the guts to take him to task. Read this:

"The Canadian Forces are the victim here, [pause] as are the direct victims of these terrible events."
So says Stephen Harper. I didn't insert that "pause" for no reason. On the tape it exists and it suggests, to Harper, that the direct victims of Williams' crimes were secondary to the effect on the Canadian Forces as a whole.

Which shows what Harper knows about the Canadian Forces. And could care less for the actual victims.
Betrayal? Hardly. To most of the Canadian Forces this guy was a freak well outside the realm of the day to day of being in the service. And that's the issue: most everyone else considers him a freak. That hardly makes the Canadian Forces a "victim". Particularly enunciated by the acting prime minister as though the CF as a whole is a victim deserving acknowledgment to a degree greater than, you know, those who were murdered.
How dare a person like Harper set foot into the social structure of the CF. How dare he comment on it. He's never been in it and, as unpopular a statement as this may seem, he has no right nor the authority to state what Williams' despicable crimes do to affect the morale of the Canadian Forces as a whole. The ethos of the Canadian Forces is well beyond the comprehension of a pure political troll like Harper.
Most treat it as what it is: a serial killer who happened to be wearing an air force uniform. We're not him and never were. Harper, one of the worst examples of organizational leadership, has no right to suggest that the Canadian Forces are suffering under some sort of fug created by Williams. But most of all he has no right to create another victim when the women murdered and assaulted by Williams, and the loved ones of those women, are the only ones upon whom we should be pouring our sympathy.
So, to refute a political pig like Stephen Harper, weep not for the Canadian Forces. We already know what we are. We don't need the prime minister to make us a victim. We aren't one. The real victims of a serial killer deserve to be recognized for having their lives and love of life cut short by a monster and their families to understand that all of us share in their sorrow. We mourn with you but would never presume to be victims of something so personally devastating. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Keef’s Guitar Workshop . . .

THE NYTIMES has a great article by Janet Maslin, "Keith Richards Has Memories to Burn". It's an interview with Keith and his collaborator about "Life", Keith's auto-biography/memoir,  just published by Little, Brown & Company. His collaborator, James Fox, wrote the delightful "White Mischief", so "Life" should be a real treat.

This is a political blog, so WTF? Well, politics are all about culture(s), and this man and his partner have had a major, all-pervasive influence on our music and our culture. Buy a new copy of "Exile on Main St." Listen carefully.  "Loving Cup": caught the attention of every recording studio weenie on the planet in the late 60's and early 70's.

Conservatives and refugees: punishing them for being who they are

This, via BCL fucking inflames me this morning.

In August, QMI Agency reported on a secret government survey that showed that many Tamils who came to Canada claiming that their lives were in danger in their native Sri Lanka subsequently returned safely to that country. They would then come back to Canada and wait out their refugee claim.
In legislation to be tabled Thursday, the government will make it easier to revoke someone's refugee status immediately if a refugee claimant heads home for holidays, birthdays or to sponsor other family members.
"It's a serious problem," said one government source.
Why? Because say for example you're a member of the Karen ethnic group living in Mah Sot refugee camp, Thailand. You cannot go back to Burma because the disgusting bunch of military fetishists running the show over routinely send the army after you and friends. You are effectively stateless and cannot claim citizenship in Burma or Thailand because neither country really wants much to do with you. Canada comes along and grants you refugee status and you come here to live, leaving many of your family and friends behind. When you are processed and formally recognised as a refugee by Canada, you are granted permanent residency.

After a number of years, you can apply citizenship and thus a Canadian passport. However, before that you can do that you may apply for a Travel Document because you can't actually get a passport from your home country, or the country you fled to. This travel document legally protects you because it says to foreign governments 'I'm now under the protection of Canada, do not mess with me'. If you want to travel to see family and friends still stuck eating sandy rice in a dusty camp, this travel document allows that to happen. You are free now, and can live, play and travel with more security than you've ever had in your life.

What the Conservatives now want to do it seems is take that security away and punish refugee claimants for being refugee claimants. While your claim is being processed, they want you to effectively remain a prisoner within Canada. Don't go home, don't visit your dying mother, don't got back to celebrate the wedding of your sister. Not only that, but the Conservatives also seem to want to be able to revoke your claim should you ever leave the country.

Will the very act of applying for a travel document be grounds for revoking your status? Will the Conservatives seek to revoke citizenship and residency of Canadians from refugee backgrounds who happen to use that protection to safely go home (opposed to say wealthy migrants who arrive through something like business or skilled worker channels...)? If you're poor and desperate, the Cons want to be able to track, monitor and restrict you until such a time as you satisfy their wicked little "principle" that you've behaved like a good little sepoy for long enough.

How many tiers of people does our mollycoddled little gang want to create in this country?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Uh oh, Mr. Paradis...

An aerospace company received two multimillion-dollar contracts from the federal government after one of its executives donated to the Conservatives, The Canadian Press has learned. But Nicola Papiccio said his donations, which totalled $1,500, had nothing to do with his then-employer getting the contracts, and he says he didn't donate to curry favour with the government. Public Works awarded Rheinmetall Canada two contracts worth a total of $36 million in 2009, when Christian Paradis was minister at the department. Ten days before the second contract was awarded, Papiccio donated $1,000 to the Conservative riding association in the minister's constituency.

Somewhere out there Con supporters are softly whimpering "Adscam" into tear-stained pillows, their soft and tender principles sore from lashings by the spirit of Liberals' past.

F-35 JSF? Anyone's guess

Impolitical draws attention to the implications of Britain's massive defence (pdf) cuts for the F-35.
Uncertainty about the programme. Driving up costs for "other governments?" How can our government credibly maintain, with all these developments, that our costs would be under control? We have no contract now, it's hard to see the basis for their claims. (The U.K. government ordering fewer also reported here.)

That Star-Telegram report goes on to suggest that the move away from the F-35B (aircraft carrier version) by Britain could put the U.S. Navy's buy of that F-35 version in doubt too, opening the door to increased purchases of the Boeing Super Hornet. One analyst describes the UK's move away from the F-35B as "...disruptive to all aspects of the program schedule and costs."
 Aviation Week commenter and former Jane's Defence editor Bill Sweetman agrees:
There's not a lot of good news for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in the UK review. A requirement for 138 F-35Bs has been wiped out and replaced by a smaller - possibly much smaller - number of F-35Cs. The UK's baseline plan is to retain only one carrier with a normal air wing comprising only 12 F-35Cs, while keeping the option to expand the wing  to 36 jets - presumably by borrowing aircraft from the land-based units that replace the Tornado GR.4...

...That requirement could be met by a 50-aircraft order. But there is lots of time to make that decision because the catapult-modified Prince of Wales will not be operational for another ten years. 

Meanwhile, competitors are starting to talk more boldly about taking on JSF. At Defense IQ's Fighter Conference in London today, Boeing vice-president for international business development Rick McCrary briefed predictions for the next ten years that included a start on technology development for a new Navy strike fighter in 2013 and EMD in 2016-17, as well as the extension of the Super Hornet as a "bridge" to the new program.

Neither Lockheed Martin or the countries involved in the project anticipated an enduring global recession and massive government deficits. But this is the reality now. LM might have thought that by spreading its bet by distributing interest in the platform around the world it ensured that project would remain viable. Governments would see the benefit of everyone buying and there would be incentive (coercion?) not to abandon participation. In effect however, Lockheed Martin built a house of cards, failing to realise that no country absolutely needs luxury platform like JSF and there would be tremendous political and economic counter-incentive for governments not sign if push came to shove.

I think it's now anyone's guess as to whether the program remains viable cost- or even production-wise. Canada really ought to start looking at other options.

And a tangential bet: The UK is retiring its Harrier force. These are the only fixed wing fast jets flying from the Royal Navy's carriers. As it stands the RN has a 9 year wait before the JSF is meant to come online for its two new carriers, one of which will be mothballed from the get-go. Carriers which HM government acknowledges it would have axed too if it were cost effective. I think there's a good chance the Harrier will be known as the last jet flown from UK carriers.

It is something to ponder that if 9/11 happened in the current economic climate,  the US, UK and allies might not have so readily prosecuted small and costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It is also interesting to note that a great deal of the present economic mess began with some prospective home buyers and a loans officer in the United States.

Dogs . . .

MORE INTELLIGENT LIFE is a spin-off from the Economist gang. It's a delightful site for the thoughtful. Anyway, they hired Tim Flach to photograph some "extreme" pooches, like the Puli you see above. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Policy Pretzel?

I wonder if there is any veracity to this report:
Canadian officials are being tight-lipped over claims a suspect in the killing of a Hamas leader in Dubai earlier this year has been arrested in Canada.
Lt.-Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim, the Dubai police chief, told broadcaster Al-Arabiya that Canada informed United Arab Emirates officials back in June about the arrest but were asked that it not be announced. He claimed that officials are covering it up.
"I am astonished," he said. "Why this attempt to cover up on this issue? We must act transparent, reliably and quickly in such cases."
The federal government had no immediate comment on his remarks. Canada's consul general in Dubai, Kris Panday, told The Associated Press he had no comment.
Because if there were, it might throw the Conservative's heavily biased policy toward Israel in with the tale of Camp Mirage, the UAE and airline landing rights. We needed to be on friendly terms with the UAE in order to support our war in Afghanistan. The Cons (and choice cuts of Liberal) for reasons of insanity and their Christopathic base, need to demonstrate unblinking fealty to the Israeli far right. Admitting that Canada (along with many other countries) was helping the UAE capture alleged Israeli assassins would cause apoplectic vapours in our Cons and their supporters. Failing to admit, unlike the other countries, that we're helping the UAE capture alleged Israeli assassins AND denying them landing rights while demanding military base privileges, tells the UAE we'll sleep with them but don't want them near us in public.  And it tells the Israeli hard-right that our government is nothing more than a sweet-tongued rhetorical ally, and we again look like assholes.

Sigh. Back in that long ago day when Canada's "principles" the Middle-east involved encouraging rapproachment and peace in as neutral a way as possible this really wouldn't be a problem. And we might find ourselves sitting on the Security Council at the UN.

I suppose we could send everyone pallets of beer and maple syrup.

Monday, October 18, 2010

University of Winnipeg hypocrisy (update: video of the speech)

Erin Larson: Go you good thing!
A valedictory address that criticized the University of Winnipeg for bestowing an honorary degree on Manitoba Conservative MP Vic Toews has caused ripples in the community...

"I'm extremely honoured to be selected as the valedictorian [but] I have to admit I'm not proud to share the stage with everybody that is on it today," Larson said, as Toews, the federal public safety minister, sat nearby looking uncomfortable.
After the ceremony, U of W president Lloyd Axworthy said he was disappointed the valedictory address was used to make a political statement.
"The young woman who was the valedictorian wanted to use it as a platform for some political views — that's her right to use it in that way — but it put a little bit of a damper on the proceedings at the end, which is too bad," he said.
I hold a degree from the University of Winnipeg and am somewhat familiar with Lloyd Axworthy's role in that institution. He has done many good things for the University, taking significant steps to make the school a centre of excellence for the study of peace, democracy and human rights. He also has taken a particular interest in making the the university accessible to immigrant, refugee and Aboriginal communities in the city, being a particularly keen champion of Sudan's Lost Boys and Girls.
However, Axworthy is a star and holds considerable clout and influence. There is no one I'm aware of around the UW who can match his record and reputation. I was left with the distinct impression that he preached much more democracy than he practiced and the direction of the institution is due to his helmsmanship.  If it were made known that the Axworthy wanted to give the degree to Toews, would the committee have felt they had a choice but to rubber stamp the president's wishes?
Thus, the awarding of an honourary degree to an individual so antithetical to University's bearing under Axworthy exposes a staggering degree of hypocrisy within the institution and ultimately his leadership. Further, contrary to Axworthy's view, "the young woman who was the valedictorian" (ouch!) did not make the award a political statement, the University did when it selected a serving hyperpartisan politician to receive it.
Erin Larson merely had the courage, temerity and integrity to point it out.

Update: Prof. Sampert agrees.

A political science professor at the university told CBC News on Monday that convocation is just the place to make political statements. Prof. Shannon Sampert said Larson should be applauded for what she did.
"I think, frankly, a student like that, who can stand up in the face of all this kind of authority and all this kind of pomp and circumstance and dignity and actually speak her mind, I think that we should be supporting the student," Sampert said.
Sampert said Larson made it clear before the convocation that she was going to make a statement against the honorary degree.
"If you do not want a political statement you should not be giving honorary degrees to controversial politicians," Sampert added.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Traffic tie-up . . .

JALOPNIK has a nice overall coverage of the recent border closure by Pakistan, stopping military supplies bound for Afghanistan, with an article, "How Pakistan Disrupts Our Fight Against The Taliban". As the picture indicates, FUBAR reigns supreme. I idly wonder...

from recent experience, whether there are higher intensities of exhibitionistic intellectual onanism at pub-tables of drunk English or philosophy gradstudents. Some even dress the part. Very fun to observe in action - from a safe distance.

Oh, the humanities!

Oh man, just kick it because it feels good!

The one and only TBogg explains to the coaches of the San Diego Chargers why kicking a field goal in the last minutes of the game when you're down by 30 points is sad, pathetic and a waste of time.

He also explains to the "War on Drugs" guys why they look like the coaches of the San Diego Chargers when they work out of the same worn out playbook.

It's tough to get that message out. Sometimes you just have to say, "To hell with it," and take on the thankless job of training Basset Hounds instead.

Rex Murphy pulls out your mother's answer to everything

There he is. A loser.

How many times have you been in an argument with your spouse, partner or the like and heard the words,  "Yeah. Whatever?"

How many times have your been bent over on an issue and heard the word from a parent or an acquaintance. "Who cares?"

Your mother. When you've left her with no place to go; totally out-argued her, she says, "Who cares?"

You care, of course. That's why you're arguing your point. Her answer actually means, "You know so much more about this than I can even fathom that I must invoke my superior parental position and indicate that I have much more important things to do, and this discussion is over."

That's what Rex Murphy has just tried to pull off.

Coming from a knob who thinks that if it snows in Vancouver that global warming is a hoax, he's in about the same league as my mother.

Here's one for Murphy.

I care.

Murphy would have spent three weeks scripting his most eloquent praises of a Harper government if Canada had actually assumed its traditional seat on the UN Security Council. He would have lavished imaginary and undeserved accolades on the Alberta separatist as though the little boy had pulled off some magnificent feat of diplomatic prowess.

Instead we get: Who cares?


I care.

I dislike to this day the only argument my mother could pull out in a discussion that was clearly beyond her depth, knowing the only reason she did it is because she didn't want the other party, (me) to be held out as the winner.

So, Murphy, accept your new position. Nothing but a loud, half-neutered steer in the middle of the field making loud noises that do nothing more than irritate those within earshot.


Hard to believe you fought to have your education paid for by the public. If we had known what it might produce there might have been second thoughts by your supporters.

And if you need to know more, Sister Sage has summed it up very nicely.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sad stories . . .

COHA, the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, has a site with a report by Melissa Graham, "Mexico’s New War: Sex Trafficking". That's right, it's not just about drugs anymore. These women wind up in the US, and the results are not nice.

In one example, the police in Plainfield, New Jersey reported a raid upon a sex slave house described as a “19th-Century slave ship, with rancid, doorless bathrooms; bare, putrid mattresses; and a stash of penicillin, morning-after pills, and misoprostol, an antiulcer medication that can induce abortion.”4 Women are placed into such brothels on both sides of the border and subjected to multiple sexual acts a day, living in fear that if they do not comply with their captor’s demands they, or their family, will be killed. Women and girls trafficked into the United States are thus dispersed across the country, making this an issue that is much more than just a border problem.

Elsewhere, on the other side of the pond, the NYTimes has an article by Suzanne Daley, "Rescuing Young Women From Traffickers’ Hands", that reads like Ringo's Kildar.

Interview with Alex Hundert

A guy so terrifying, a Canadian court has banned him from speaking.

Well here he is, interviewed in September.


If "Officer Bubbles" really wants to put an end to the shame and embarrassment he suffered as a result of his idiotic actions at the G20 being widely publicized, he might want to chose a different tack. After all, is getting  yourself saddled with the nickname "Constable Crybaby" really going to make things better? I'm sure this will make the other guys and gals in the squad room stop teasing him.

Hollywood production masquerading as government.

Back in the day, when we had to clean off the rust streaks and the wear from a long ocean passage, we would hurriedly break out the paint, brushes and rollers and slap a fresh coat of paint over unprepared metal, rust and salt spray. It was called a "Hollywood paint job" because we were all aware that, given an inevitable rainfall, the covered rust would bleed through and within days the entire sheet of paint would be laying on the harbour surface. It had served the purpose to make the ship look good as it passed the saluting stand and that was it.

Doug Saunders places the Harper government in the same box. All paint; no prep. No matter how many times they try to cover up the rust, corrosion and corruption, it keeps bleeding through and eventually the whole shiny facade falls off. (Emphasis mine)

But UN members, including influential ones such as Britain and France and the United States, did ask themselves what Canada was actually doing: What was Ottawa contributing to the progress they desired in these areas; what clout could it add to the table?

And here they came up blank. On the Middle East, Mr. Harper’s ministers cut themselves out of the game. They didn’t help the interests of Israel; instead, for short-term political gain, they gave almost lone backing to the partisan views and extreme actions of the coalition government that happened to hold power there at the moment – a coalition containing the most fringe religious fundamentalist parties and opposed by a large majority of Israelis. To satisfy one faction, Canada lost any future role in helping the country or its region.

On aid, our stated principles were solid but our shift of funds out of the eight poorest African states – right in the midst of the Security Council bid – infuriated not just Africa’s 47 states but also Europeans, who are struggling with their own African development goals. The same happened in climate change and financial reform (where we were, remember, the spoilers at the G20 summit): Canada said things, but just wasn’t there.
And right at the lead of Saunders' column he reminds us of this:

“Our engagement internationally is based on the principles that this country holds dear,” Mr. Harper said. “It is not based on popularity.”
Of the hundreds of ways that statement could be torn to shreds, two come immediately to mind:

1. Harper said it right there. His "principles" are not popular. He formed government with less than 22 percent of the eligible vote. He and his "principles" have no real traction among voters in Canada nor among the diplomatic departments of the world's most influential governments. Harper puts on a good party but it leads to nothing.

2. It's a lie. What Harper is peddling as a "principle" is nothing more than a "Hollywood paint job". What he is calling a "principle" is a short-term theatrical production, complete with editing, intended to entertain. With a paltry story and a weak cast he's hoping the expensive art direction and set design will hold up long enough to gather the sufficient "academy votes" to give him a box-office success.