Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Section 2 of the Canadian Charter Of Rights and Freedoms

Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

(d) freedom of association.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

I was shocked by the events of last weekend

"Only a crisis—actual or perceived––produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. . . . Our basic function [is] to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible"—by which he meant enacting radical deregulation, privatization of national industries and public-sector programs, and deep cuts to the welfare state— "becomes the politically inevitable."
Milton Friedman

I was shocked by the events of last weekend. And so were you but not just in a "How outrageous!" sort of way. You were subjected to tactics straight out of The Shock Doctrine.
Lots of people are asking questions:
When they knew there was always going to be trouble (which they did, which is why they spent $1 billion on security), why did the Harper government continue to insist that the centre of Canada's largest city would be the preferred location for the summit – when it clearly could've, and should've, been held somewhere else?
2. Out of that billion dollars, couldn't a few bucks have been set aside to hire some police officers to prevent the violence and destruction taking place elsewhere in the city – as seen, to cite just one example, in this disturbing raw footage (click "Anarchist Tear Apart Yonge Street" in CTV News Video Player) showing not one cop (not one) intervening to stop mayhem on Canada's biggest and busiest street?

Were other actions by the police not somewhat suspicious?

To which I would like to add a few of my own. Did it not seem like they made sure that the over the top reaction would be heavily reported? Did it not seem like they were going out of their way to harass reporters and peaceful protesters? Isn't it odd that so many were from Conservative friendly outlets like the CTV, the National Post and the Sun? Why would they attack people singing the national anthem when Yonge Street is burning?

Had enough time to think? Of course it did. They wanted us to see what they would bring down on T.O. if they wanted to. They want us to see what they will do to bystanders and media types. Even friendly ones. As Ms. Klein lays out in the opening part of her excellent book, you don't have to intimidate many people. You just have to do it to a few and in such a way that everyone takes notice. Let us know that they will arrest as many as it takes to intimidate us. Then resistance crumbles.

This disaster may have been the result of extreme Conservative incompetence. Or it may be the outgrowth of extreme Conservative tactics. But they did get their point across. Stand up to us and you will be randomly brutalized.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Recommendations for a progressive summer reading list.

Know thy lot, Know thine enemies, Know thyself.”

“Know thy enemy and know thy self and you will win a hundred battles.”
Sun Tzu Wu

The following books will help you follow this maxim.

The Family. What is amazing about this book, besides the scariness of the religious right's reach is the undercurrent of how religion is a vehicle to allow people to conform to a hierarchical organization.

I wanted to get a take on how this is happening in Canada but I have to wait until I get to the head of the Calgary Public Library's queue for The Armageddon Factor.

In the meantime, I have been ploughing through a few others that are interesting and relevant. Conservatives Without Conscience outlines how the Authoritarian tendencies of recent Republican leaders and their followers have damaged the United States political system. It is so good I might have to open up the change purse and buy a copy.

And if you have read that one, you need to follow it up with The Authoritarians by Dr. Bob Altemeyer from the University of Manitoba. Really good. And free to download!

I expect to be quoting from both of the latter books extensively in future posts. After I finish The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest.
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Friday, June 25, 2010

Perhaps there is a rational explanation for the $1 Billion in G8/20 security costs

It is stuff like this that makes the cynic in me think that a significant part of the reason for the excessive security is to inure us to the overt presence of state security operatives in our everyday lives. If they can shut down Bay Street, why not Water Street?

Makes those Liberal "Soldiers in or streets" ads from 2006 seem not so crazy. Don't trust me. Trust this bastion of Liberal sympathizers.
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Somewhere tonight Stephane Dion is saying to himself "Where were these guys two tears ago".

Oil industry supports carbon tax

The head of Canada's largest integrated oil company on Tuesday came out in favour of a carbon tax as part of a national energy strategy to reduce emissions and promote "responsible" energy development, but provincial government representatives quickly shot down the idea.

Speaking at an environment conference in Calgary, Suncor CEO Rick George said he would support a carbon tax if the fiscal burden was evenly shared between industry and consumers and applied evenly across the country.

"I'm not necessarily opposed to a carbon tax, but what we have to do is tax all carbon equally," he told reporters. "A molecule of carbon is the same whether it's produced out of an oilsands plant or the tailpipe of your car."

A representative of the Stelmach government came out to counter this argument but no one paid any attention.

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Observation on the Foto of the Day

Impolitical does the dirty work of going through the propaganda photos from the PMO to make a funny caption for The Foto Of The Day so we don't have to.   There is one striking similarity regarding this image and the earlier one reported on.  And that is that his back is to the camera in both.  Could this be a sub-conscious expression of his contempt for the Canadian people?  The thought crossed my mind on the weekend.  Mr. ControlFreak authorized these photos for addition to the gallery.  These photos are staged.  Seeing a second one in relatively close proximity to the first is interesting.
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Saturday, June 19, 2010

But Harper couldn't possibly be corrupt. He hangs out with Nickelback

"Mark my words Francois, sinister forces are at work."

Inspector Jacques Clouseau

During the Pink Panther movies, the criminals were perpetrating their crimes right in front of the bumbling Inspector Clouseau. In a similar fashion, a pattern continues to develop of this Conservative government breaking all sorts of rules designed to prevent corruption. One day, as with Mulroney, the media will notice what is going on in front of their noses and kick up a fuss.

In the meantime you will look deep to find stories like this (MEIB).

The prime minister's own department has been repeatedly breaking the rules for issuing government contracts.

Almost a third of the contracts awarded by the Privy Council Office have been "retroactive," that is, they were drawn up only after the work or service had started.

"There is some risk associated with the relatively high number of contracts issued for work that has already begun, i.e., after the fact," says a newly released audit.

Auditors examined a sample of 70 contracts from the 2,200 the Privy Council Office signed in the 18-month period ending June 2009. The value of all the contracts was $31 million; no dollar figure was given for the sample.

Twenty-nine per cent of the sample contracts were created retroactively, contrary to Treasury Board rules that were toughened by the Federal Accountability Act, implemented after the Conservatives came to power in 2006.

Many were valued at less than $5,000, but one was for unspecified "professional services" worth $95,000. Auditors also noted two amendments to contracts were made after the additional work had begun.

The findings of the report, dated Feb. 17 this year, parallel those in another Privy Council Office audit also completed in February.

The internal probe of the massive legal bill for the inquiry into Brian Mulroney's dealings with Karlheinz Schreiber found officials improperly "backdated" approvals for lawyers' expenses that went over budget. Costs of the Oliphant Commission were at least $16 million, mostly for lawyers' fees.

The latest audit also found a sole-source contract that was not justified. Its value and purpose were not disclosed in the report.

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I will take Mr. Soudas up on his interesting contention

Harper's Chief Vuvuzela lays it on the line.

Canada’s twin summits are ringing in at nearly a million dollars a minute but the cost is worth it because Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other leaders will get a chance to let their hair down and talk “face-to-face,” a PMO spokesperson said Friday.

Explaining the eye-popping cost of next weekend’s meetings, which will ding taxpayers for about $833,000 per minute of actual leaders’ meeting time, Dimitri Soudas said G8 and G20 leaders face daunting challenges from a struggling economy, global warming, rogue nuclear states and crises in Afghanistan, the Korean peninsula and the Middle East.

“You actually need leaders sitting around the table having these difficult discussions, making progress,” Soudas told reporters in a pre-summit briefing.

The leaders “sit down and make collective decisions on what’s best for the global economy,” Soudas said. “So that is exactly why we need these type of summits, that is exactly why leaders sitting around the table face-to-face—and not through Twitter, Skype or video-conferencing—will eventually produce more results.”

Soudas also suggested that once leaders get down to business, any questions about Harper’s credibility as a result of the $1.2 billion cost of the meetings and the controversy over the “fake lake” at the media centre will be left far behind.

If the Conservatives feel they will be able to enumerate a list of tangible benefits from the summit let them do so. Let them also provide us with a statement on the return on the 1.2 billion+ investment we have made in this. Would this money have been better spent on reducing the deficit? Funding healthcare? Building a Chalk River replacement? If Mr. Soudas would care to provide a credible cost-benefit analysis relative to other possible uses for this enormous sum all will be forgiven.

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Saturday Morning Blogging Part II: Jim Travers - the Anti-Taber

No additional comment needed. Go read it, please.Recommend this Post

Photo caption contest and related rant

The PMO has released this photograph of Mr. Lonely-For-A-Reason
and here is my suggested caption:
After all of the other kids have headed out for the summer, Stephen Harper serves a detention for his outrages against Canadian democracy. He will be there for quite a while.
I will reference two articles to make a point about the shoddy journalism at the Grope and Flail.

As Rosemary Barton points out on CBC.ca,
The photo is, of course, staged.
*But part of the reason Harper can get away with his depredations against democracy is due to the tendency of the fourth estate to unquestionably regurgitate Conservative propaganda. Jane Taber and the prime journalistic real estate she occupies is an ongoing example of this. Her take on the photo (MEIB):
From time to time, the Prime Minister’s photographer sends out to the press gallery candid shots of Stephen Harper. On Thursday, he captured the Prime Minister in a very solitary moment in a totally empty House of Commons. It was to signify the rising of the House for the summer as MPs go back to their ridings*
For Ms. Tabe
r's benefit, I will provide a definition of candid and encourage her and her readers to read the third usage: .
Not posed or rehearsed: a candid snapshot.
n.An unposed informal photograph.
Regardless of political leanings no one who has followed the antics of this Prime Minister thinks there is anything spontaneous emanating from the PMO. Everything is arranged for it's presumed effect. Harper's image manipulation is only possible with the cooperation of the media. In the case of Ms. Taber, it is hard to tell whether this is due to Conservative leanings or because there is enough air up there to film an entire Jacques Cousteau special. The net effect is that once Canada has completed the descent into the tar pit of a Harper dictatorship Taber and her ilk will still not have realized the role they played in leading us there.
*P.S.: My apologies for the fonts. Blogger sucks.
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Thursday, June 17, 2010

I bet this G20 won't cost $1.2 billion+

I have always had a lot of respect for Belinda Stronach since she proved herself the only Conservative strong enough to resist Stephen Harper's bullying.  That is why they went after her hammer and tong style.

This initiative seems to me that it might actually come out with more tangible results than the meeting costing several orders of magnitude more money.
She's a delegate from Turkey, poised, educated and attending an international summit in Toronto, but what this 18-year-old has to say may rival the words of the G20 bigwigs.
"Even though I hope with all my heart that the real G20 will also seek to have real solutions, I still think maybe us 20 girls, making changes in our own communities, will also make a similar impact," said Irem Tumer, shrugging as she spoke plaintively.
The mostly male world leaders will descend on Toronto for the G20 summit next week. But Tumer and 20 other young women from around the world have been tossing around their own ideas, discussing global policy and offering a voice for 3.3 billion women worldwide.
Tumer and the others — one representing the African Union and 20 mirroring the role of G20 delegates — began Day 1 of the G(irls) 20 summit in Toronto on Wednesday.
The summit is the brainchild of Belinda Stronach, a former MP and now executive vice-chairman of Magna International Inc.
Stronach challenged the girls to become a voice for women in the international community as she spoke to the crowded room at the Rotman School of Management in Toronto.
"Girls have to recognize the value that they can contribute. We have to change the mindset of boys and men so they value girls worldwide," said Stronach.
Panellists, some shedding tears, spoke about violence, poverty and lack of education — all identified as barriers to a woman's success.
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Smart move by Mercer

Like any good entertainer, he knows enough not to let the stage you are performing on overwhelm your performance.  As a comedian he knew that his bits will be swamped by the inintentional slapstick and rants flowing from the daily operations of the Nun Spews Network. Recommend this Post

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A passing thought on the timing of blog-rogation timing

Last week there was a spate of notices that a log of the good ones were taking a break. I kind of wonder if they regret their timing giving the low hanging fruit Harper has been giving us.Recommend this Post

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A billion dollars can pay for a lot of things

It appears it is not enough to check that the private security company to do the work has a licence to work in Ontario. Spendthrift and incompetent. That is The Harper Government.

Update: Link added. Thanks Thor. Oh yeah. And spelling mistakes fixed.Recommend this Post

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Tomorrow's Tory-spin today

Coming soon from a PMO near you will be the following talking point: "Harper government manages a thousand fold decrease in embarrassing wastes of taxpayer money".

Of course sane people will read the following:

Canadian and international journalists covering the G8 summit in Muskoka later this month will be able to file their reports from the leisurely comfort of a cottage dock, their feet dangling in the water, surrounded by the stunning sights and sounds of the fabled Ontario resort country three hours north of Toronto.

The only catch is they won’t be anywhere near Muskoka.

Instead, the federal government is shelling out millions of dollars to re-create cottage country — complete with a small lake — inside a Toronto convention facility that will warehouse most of the media during the three-day windfest.

Your tax dollars at work. ...

Foreign Affairs estimates the cost for the project will be $1.9 million, including draining the lake and dismantling the whole thing after three days.

and this

It is all another stunning achievement by organizers of the great Canadian summits of squander, three days of hot air and tear gas that will cost taxpayers an estimated $1.2 billion and counting.

And agree that while the $1.9 million dollars waste is three orders of magnitude less than pissing away 1.2 billion it isn't much to crow about and put it down to another example of mind-boggling HGI (Harper Government Incompetence).

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Harper’s Message Event Proposals reveal ‘hyper-extreme’ political control

While an interesting piece with some new details about the process there is not really too much surprising here. It would only be a surprise to the Albertosaurus conservatii and it's relatives. It does lead to two thoughts.

There is a thesis waiting to be written on the similarities between the message control of the Harperclones and Stalin era propaganda efforts (MEIB).

An MP’s Sunday afternoon visit to a seniors’ home. The federal purchase of powerful new military aircraft. A journalism student’s innocuous query about Africa.

One thing connects them all — the Conservative government scripted each event using a potent but little-known communication tool called the Message Event Proposal....

An MEP template typically includes the following subtitles: Event, Event type, Desired headline, Key messages, Media lines, Strategic objectives, Desired soundbite, Ideal speaking backdrop, Ideal event photograph, Tone, Attire, Rollout materials, Background, and Strategic considerations.

Bit by bit, MEP by MEP, Harper is changing Canada into Oceania. One day we will look back on 2010 and see this as one of the last chances to have stopped him. Then all we will have left is trying to stay out of Room 101.

The other notion is that if the Conservatives applied this type of rigorous thinking and planning to actually running the country they might not be doing such a bad job of it.

Don't get too excited Harpo. I said might.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Compare and contrast

What our Prime Minister says.

And what people who know what they are talking about say.
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Mr Angry does us proud on the international stage...again

First he misses photo ops at 2 successive conferences.  Then he uses very undiplomatic language when childishly referring to the parties that won a majority of the electorate's support as "losers".  and to cap it off, he makes insulting hand gestures at the British PM.  Personally I think he was trying to explaining why he was late for the first photo op.  As in "I was trying to go number...".  Look at the picture and figure it out for yourself.
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Why being a blogger is better than being a highly paid national columnist

Because being a columnist is a job. And that job requires that you publish a piece on a regular basis. So on occasion, even columnists who do their job quite well find themselves staring at a deadline with nothing to write about. A blogger can say: "Eff it. I'm going for a road ride." A columnist must put electrons to computer screen. You want an example. Consider the plight of poor Lawrence Martin today.

So what is it that makes a man boring? Might it be that his favourite sport is badminton? ...
The question arises because our allegedly dull Prime Minister is about to host the G20. It’s Stephen Harper’s biggest image test yet, and some seem to think that with him in the chair, the ennui will be unbearable for the other 19.
To refute this postulate, Mr Martin reaches for some painful to watch stage managed evidence that Mr Angry is actually Stimulating Stevie.
Can we imagine Coolidge hanging out with some of the big bands of his era, jamming in the back rooms of the White House with, say, Hoagy Carmichael? Mr. Harper has recently had Bryan Adams and Nickelback over to 24 Sussex – and it wasn’t for talks on a new equalization formula. Rather, for live sessions (with Adams at least) with the Prime Minister at the keyboard. He’s got a music room set up for visiting virtuosos. Son Ben joins in with some wicked guitar playing.
Does anyone who thinks about it believe this is anything more than an embarrassing photo-op? The very fact that stunts such as this are required to prove Harper's humanness exists points to his lack of personality.

Forget the evidence provided by unscripted Steve.
This is the same father who was once pilloried in the media for a scene outside of his son’s school. He shook Ben’s hand while dropping him off, which was said to typify the Harperian rigidity.
But don't worry Mr. Martin. Given the anti-democratic and scandalous tendencies of the Conservatives there will be real issues to report on tomorrow.

What is that? You say there are real issues to bring up rather than this fluff. Oh. Never mind.
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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Not exactly ground breaking research yor Emience

In the latest news, Tom Flanagan, also known around here as Harper's Eminence Grease, is presenting a paper at a conference in Montreal and the Star got some crib notes. Let us see what cutting edge insights the former insider and current sewer outlet from the PMO to the Globe and Mail has to impart.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a controlling leader running a “garrison party” in permanent campaign mode, says his former campaign director Tom Flanagan. ...

Flanagan writes that Harper’s shaping of the party structures and determination not to allow “intermediate” groupings such as youth wings, or separate political entities for regional, ethnic, aboriginal or other different groups under the party’s umbrella means that “there are no points of refuge in which opposition to the leadership could coalesce.” ...
This is hardly news. If being at the forefront of Political Science is the mark of an effective Professor, Flanagan is either a has been or never was.
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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I can answer Impolitical's question

Her question:
How much does a Conservative "stronghold" riding put up with these days anyway?
My answer: Quite a lot. Or so it appears. And those same voters whine about how hard it is to shake Calgary's image as being Redneck Central.
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