Showing posts from July, 2007

Tories head for 3 day retreat in PEI

Although the Tories refuse to make public their agenda no doubt they will discuss ad nauseam transparency and accountability.

Harper, Tory MPs head to P.E.I. for 3-day strategy retreat
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 31, 2007 | 10:30 AM AT
CBC News
Charlottetown RCMP were stepping up security Tuesday as Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his 124 Conservative MPs began arriving for their annual caucus retreat.

Protesters were expected at the three days of closed-door strategy meetings, which begin Wednesday, including a group of federal employees concerned about privatization and the provision of services to the Island from the other Maritime provinces.

"Our main mandate right here is to provide the security for the prime minister," Sgt. Denis Morin told CBC News. "We have to take care and address any situation, any events that might take place."

Harper is expected to fly into Charlottetown on Wednesday morning.

The agenda has not been released but political analysts speculate…

Aquafina to spell out water source

I suppose the manufacturers can claim (correctly) that it is the reverse osmosis process that is significant not the source. The claim is never made that it is spring water and the process is always identified. The real problem is that people don't seem to realise that most urban water supplies are fine and the water is often safer than bottled water.
We use untreated water from a community well but it is tested for safety. It does have a distinct taste that some people do not like. I just drink it out of the tap but my wife prefers the reverse osmosis water that we buy in 18.9 liter jugs and refill. I found the water in Brampton (metro Toronto) Regina and Brandon fine just out of the tap. It always amazes me why so many insist on buying bottled water when they are paying a hefty amount to get water piped right into their houses.
One good thing about all the bottled water is that I think many people buy it rather than pop when on the road.

Aquafina labels to spell out tap water…

Mulroney ordered to pay 470,000 to Schreiber

One sometimes wonders about who drafts reports such as these. Certainly Schreiber did give Mulroney the 300 thousand but for what purpose may be moot. The fifth estate verified that money was paid. This is all tied up with the Airbus Scandal. The RCMP were investigation Mulroney but somehow this was leaked out and Mulroney sued and managed to make 2 million in an out of court settlement. Mulroney always seemed to me guilty of shady dealings with Schreiber but of course both are part of the elite. Schreiber is wanted in Germany on various charges but Mulroney is comfortably retired in Canada. See the Airbus Affair.

Court orders Mulroney to pay $470,000 to Schreiber
Last Updated: Friday, July 27, 2007 | 12:16 AM ET
CBC News
An Ontario court has ordered Brian Mulroney to pay $470,000 to German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber, who sued the former prime minister, alleging he didn't follow through on his business commitments.

The judgment was made automatically by the Ontario Supe…

The CBC National on Canada's Afghanistan Mission

There was a reasonably extended special segment of the National on the Afghan mission. I thought that overall it was really not very informative and that many significant issues were not even brought up. To a considerable extent this may have been due to the framing of the whole discussion.

The frame of the discussion was an alleged change in Harper's speeches from clear and resolute support of the mission to a much more muted support and even perhaps a desire to cut and run when the mission runs out in 2009. As a result of this framework there was no real discussion of why Canada was there in the first place. There was absolutely nothing about the legality of the invasion .
There was nothing about the obvious change in Canada's role from peacekeeper to active combat roles. There was nothing about our relationship to the US. In fact with a straight face people debated whether Canada would win or lose the war in Afghanistan. Huh! Where are the US, the Brits, and the others in ISA…

The Vancouver Strike

There follows two excerpts from articles and a news release from CUPE. The first article is from the
I am not sure why Sullivan would claim that the strike is not his main priority since it will be a disaster for Vancouver. I suppose it is to show that he is standing firm under pressure! There is a difference between standing firm and being stupid. The tentative settlement in Richmond just next door should exert more pressure for Sullivan to settle. Finally there is a news release from CUPE urging the city to go back to the bargaining table.


Labour crisis compounded by a stubborn Sullivan, critics say

July 25, 2007

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan's refusal to give priority status to solving the municipal strike of more than 5,000 workers is exacerbating the city's labour crisis and making a resolution unlikely any time soon, say opposition councillo…

Recent Statement of Jack Layton on Afghan Mission

Layton does not mention at all the new leader of NATO forces in Afghanistan the American nicknamed "Bomber" McNeill because of his bombing policy.
Layton does not mention either why the mission is wrong in the first place. He does not question the legality of the invasion. He just claims that the mission is not working and that it is costing too many casualties both among Canadians and Afghanis.

Statement by NDP leader Jack Layton on the combat mission in Afghanistan
Wed 4 Jul 2007 |
The growing civilian death toll in Afghanistan at the hands of NATO forces is more disturbing evidence that the counter-insurgency mission is not working.

These deaths mark an escalation in the conflict. We have lost more Canadians in this - our heaviest combat, since Korea.

We support our troops and their families and it is out of the deep respect for each and everyone of them that we seek a de-escalation of this conflict.

We learned with great sadness from Afghan officials, that 45 civilians wer…

Illegality of Afghan War: Part II

This is an article by a US lawyer. The entire article is not included as the last sections do not deal specifically with Afghanistan. The article is from Counterpunch.CounterPunch
Most criticisms of the war in Canada stress the Canadian casualties and complain that Canada has too great a burden etc. That it was illegal to invade in the first place is never even brought up.

September 17, 2002

Is Bush's War Illegal?
Let Us Count the Ways
by Francis Boyle

The "Blowhard Zone"

On September 13, 2001 I got a call from FOX News asking me to go on the O'Reilly Factor program that night, two days after the tragic events of September 11, to debate O'Reilly on War v. Peace. It is pretty clear where I stood and where he stood. I had been on this program before. I knew what I was getting in to. But I felt it would be important for one lawyer to get up there in front of a national audience and argue against a war and for the application of domestic and international law enforcement, i…

The Afghan War is Illegal: Part One.

The question of the legality of the Afghan war almost never comes up. Insofar as it does reference is made to a UN resolution that was passed after the fact setting up ISAF etc. This does nothing to establish the legality of the invasion in fact there is also a resolution by the UN that legitimises the US et al occupation of Iraq.
I am posting two articles. This first one is by Michael Mandel a specialist in International Law at Osgoode Hall a famous Canadian Law School. The article is from Counterpunch.

October 9, 2001

This War is Illegal

By Michael Mandel

A well-kept secret about the U.S.-U.K. attack on Afghanistan is that it is clearly illegal. It violates international law and the express words of the United Nations Charter.

Despite repeated reference to the right of self-defence under Article 51, the Charter simply does not apply here. Article 51 gives a state the right to repel an attack that is ongoing or imminent as a temporary measure until the UN Security Council can take steps ne…

Canada resumes funding to Palestinian authority

Canada falls in line with the common policy of ignoring Hamas and trying to help Abbas become a puppet by showing that he can get crumbs from the Interntional community. One of 8 millions will go to the International Red Cross and perhaps will help out in Gaza. No one mentions the unmentionable that Hamas was elected and that Abbas steps to form a new government are probably unconstitutional.
I doubt that Israel really wants a solution right now. They will be happy to drag out the process and have Tony Blair try to shape up and shore up the Abbas govt. so as to be ready to sell out if and when Israel decides to negotiate a peace deal.

Canada resumes funding to the Palestinian Authority
Last Updated: Monday, July 23, 2007 | 1:11 PM ET
CBC News
Canada has resumed its financial support of the Palestinian Authority with an immediate contribution of $8 million, the federal government announced on Monday.

"In light of the new Palestinian government's commitment to non-violence, reco…

More temporary workers than immigrants come to Alberta

No doubt both the government and employers consider the use of temporary workers where possible in a positive light and showing that the labor market is flexible. Of course from the point of view of labor it means that workers with few rights are being hired and this may lower wages and benefits for immigrant and citizen workers.

The Alberta Federation of Labour reports that more people now coming into province as temporary workers than traditional immigrants. From their press release:
Alberta has become the first province in Canadian history to bring more people into its jurisdiction under the temporary foreign worker program than through Canada’s mainline immigration system.
According to new figures from the federal department of Citizenship and Immigration, as of December 1, 2006, there were 22,392 temporary foreign workers in Alberta. That’s more than double the 11,067 temporary workers who were in the province in 2003 and more than three times the 7,286 who were in the province in 1…

Benamar Benatta

There is deafening silence on Benatta. Harper is not about to ruffle US feathers by conducting an inquiry into this case since it involves mistreatment by the US. Who knows what the deal was when the US agreed to return Benatta to Canada. It is typical of excuses for denying people documents that they are lost. Most convenient.

The Iacobucci Inquiry by the way is mostly not public. It is even called an Internal Inquiry. The lawyers and the three Muslim Canadians involved all have standing at the inquiry but since most of the hearings are private and they are excluded from those their main role is asking questions. The inquiry has not even released progress summaries that would at least give the public an idea what is going on. It is all secret between those being investigated and the legal beagles from Torys LLP.
Iacobucci denied Benatta standing and refused to consider his case because it was outside his terms of reference. The terms of reference were deliberately narrow. The inq…

VIA reaches tentative agreement. BC unions on strike

With tough negotiations but good faith bargaining can work. However, in Vancouver the city workers are on strike. It really seems as if the city wants to break the power of the unions. The strike will come in the midst of a busy tourist season. Preparations a being made to deal with the effects.Meanwhile forestry workers are also on strike.
Via Rail reaches tentative deal with CAW
Last Updated: Saturday, July 21, 2007 | 9:39 AM ET
The Canadian Press
Via Rail and its major union announced early Saturday that they have managed to avert a strike.

The passenger railway and the Canadian Auto Workers union said they reached a tentative agreement ahead of Sunday's midnight strike deadline.

Via spokesman Malcom Andrews said the three-year deal covers such issues as wages, benefits, work conditions and work rules.

"The negotiations were pretty close to around the clock for several days in succession,'' he said, adding both Via and CAW representatives "worked very hard, worked …

The Looming North American Union

As I recall there were considerable discussions over the European Union and some countries at first refused to join. The North American Union is really not a super political entity but simply an agreement that is in the interests of big capital on issues most important to them that involves the suppression of individual country sovereignty where the big players think that it is necessary for their interests. NAFTA has already done the same sort of thing as the article points out. We must share our natural resources with the US and at prices that are comparable to what Canadians pay.

Canadians Completely Unaware of Looming North American Union
Bush and Calderon to Visit Canada

by Kevin Parkinson

Global Research, July 17, 2007

In just over a month’s time, on August 20, the most powerful president in the world will be arriving in Montebello, Quebec for a two-day conference. President George W. Bush will be meeting with Stephen Harper and their Mexican counterpart, Felipe Calderon. So far, t…

Militarizing a Continent

This is part of a much longer article on plans to integrate US, Mexico, and Canada with sections on the SPP etc. The article is by Stephen Lendman at Countercurrents. Certainly Harper is spending more money on the military and is anxious for Canada to play a role as a junior partner to the US. However, he does stress sovereignty in the Arctic. Maybe the sovereignty is only an issue when non-US ships use the northwest passage. The US does not recognise the passage as Canadian waters but as international.

Militarizing A Continent As A First Step

No nation is more militarized today than America. It spends more on national defense and homeland security than all other nations combined. Add to those budgets all others related to defense, still others for intelligence and covert actions, plus the net interest cost attributable to past debt-financed defense outlays and it totals over $1 trillion for FY 2007 according to one analyst's estimate and heading way above that in FY 2008 if current…

Toronto's Got a Lot to Learn

The rest of Salutin's column is at rabble. Miller did not renew his NDP membership so that he could be "independent". It seems that he has now become ineffective as well. The city government is playing games with the provincial government hoping to get more money but the threat to close down a subway route and also increase fares drastically make the city look quite foolish at a time when public transportation needs to be better funded and better utilised. Instead Miller's disastrous policies would increase the use of private cars and cause hardships for those not able to use cars.

Toronto's got a lot to learn
>by Rick Salutin
July 20, 2007
There was a classic failure of leadership here this week: a vote by Toronto's city council not to impose taxes on land transfers and car registrations. It's a textbook case, for study by future eras and civilizations.

Take as background an example of actual leadership. Here are the words of London Mayor Ken Livingstone…

Quebec Air Base Gets 300 million for rapid deployment force

These actions may be designed to offset the negative attitudes in Quebec associated with the Afghan mission. However, it is also part of a more general policy of building up the military that also includes the re-opening of a mililtary school also in Quebec. The US wants Canada to spend more on defence. Canada can help take some of the pressure off the US and some of the cost as well. No doubt the rapid deployment force can at times be used to aid US policy wherever the US, NATO, or the UN determines there is a hot spot or situation where action is needed. Of course it could be also used for natural disasters etc. and for peacekeeping situations but Canada has virtually abandoned peacekeeping for an active role as in Afghanistan.

Bagotville airbase gets $300M rapid deployment force
Last Updated: Friday, July 20, 2007 | 4:45 PM ET
CBC News

The federal government will spend $300 million to create a rapid deployment unit at the air force base at Bagotville in Quebec's Saguenay region, …

Public suspicious of police investigating police.

Of course usually a special "independent" unit is used to investigate police however it would be better if there were some entity independent of the police entirely. No doubt the entity might have trouble getting co-operation from the police in many instances but I understand special units also have that problem because of the blue veil.
The Houston case seems to involve gross violation of norms. I wonder if anything will happen.

The public remains suspicious when police investigate police

Vancouver Sun

Friday, July 20, 2007

Edmonton Police Chief Mike Boyd did the right thing this week by reversing a departmental policy against officers testifying for the defence.

The policy was based on the notion that police and the Crown were part of the same team, so it would be a conflict of interest for a police officer to provide testimony that might undermine the Crown's case.

The policy was being used to call on to the carpet Const. Joe Slemko, the Edmonton police officer and blood-…

Neglect, design to blame for condition of Quebec roads and bridges

This issue is not just confined to Quebec. It is nationwide as the 2003 Conference Board report shows. The difference is that Quebec has already had a serious failure of a bridge. Here in Manitoba a bridge at Portage la Prairie on the Trans-Canada is being repaired as a result of inspections after the Quebec event. While we have a 60 dollar deficit in infrastructure upkeep in Canada we are busy buying more tanks to send to Afghanistan, opening new military schools, and sending aid funds to reconstruct Afghanistan.

Neglect, design to blamefor Quebec roads
Infrastructure Issues; Potholes, Water Main Damages Plague Province

Allison Hanes
National Post

Friday, July 20, 2007

A four-lane highway tore open like a zipper causing a fiery car wreck from which a woman was plucked burned and broken but alive. A six-storey geyser of water erupted in the middle of downtown Montreal flooding cars and streets. A suburban overpass suddenly collapsed on a Saturday afternoon killing five -- including a coup…

RCMP often rewrote critical reports!

So the RCMP was in fact a watchdog over the RCMP Commission for Public Complaints rather than the other way around! Imagine that the rules under which the Commission operated allowed the government to rewrite the reports! This is so amazing one wonders if the reporting is correct. At most one would think that the RCMP could file a rebuttal to whatever the force disagreed with as an addendum. What is the use of a commission of complaints if the RCMP can rewrite its reports!

RCMP often rewrote critical reports, watchdog says
Tim Naumetz, CanWest News Service
Published: Thursday, July 19, 2007
OTTAWA -- The past two RCMP commissioners before the recent appointment of a public servant to head the force effectively rewrote half of the rulings by a civilian watchdog agency that found Mounties used excessive force or acted improperly over a year-long period, the head of the independent agency says.

The RCMP Commission for Public Complaints issued 48 interim reports on public complaints against th…

Gordon O'Connor on Donald Rumsfeld

This is just part of a larger article by Robert Fisk in the Independent. As a former lobbyist for the arms industry O'Connor no doubt appreciated Rumsfeld because he wanted to make full use of new technology to create a leaner and meaner armed forces that would not be leaner for sure with respect to costly high tech gadgets provided by industry.

Hands up those readers who know that Canada's Defence Minister, Gordon O'Connor, actually sent a letter to Rumsfeld two days before his departure in disgrace from the Pentagon, praising this disreputable man's "leadership". Yes, O'Connor wanted "to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your many achievements (sic) as Secretary of Defence, and to recognise the significant contribution you have made in the fight against terrorism". The world, gushed the ridiculous O'Connor, had benefited from Rumsfeld's "leadership in addressing the complex issues in play".

O'Connor tried to shru…

NUPGE opposes Colombia free trade deal

So far there does not seem too much publicity about the NUPGE opposition. I imagine some other unions probably oppose the deal as well. Harper is again following the Bush agenda. I wonder if the Liberals, Bloc, and NDP will oppose the deal as the Democrats have in the US-- at least until some conditions are met. What's next a free trade deal with Zimbabwe or Burma?

NUPGE says free trade talks legitimize violence in Colombia

Murder, threats, arbitrary detention, kidnapping, torture and disappearances associated with the Uribe government

Ottawa (18 July 2007) - Canada is putting economic considerations ahead of the well-being of the Colombian people by pursuing a free trade agreement that legitimizes the violent government of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, says the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE).

In a letter to Stephen Harper, NUPGE President James Clancy said the prime minister's visit to Colombia this week raises serious concerns about Canada's fore…

Harper greeted by protesters in Chile

You would think that Harper would have been briefed on the issue. Perhaps he was but doesn't care about the protest. On the other hand his handlers may not have been up to date on the matter.

Protesters say 'Harper go home' on PM's last day in Chile
Last Updated: Wednesday, July 18, 2007 | 3:35 PM ET
CBC News
Prime Minister Stephen Harper was greeted with "Harper go home" and "Canada: What's HARPERing here?" signs on Wednesday morning as he spent his last day in Chile visiting a controversial Canadian mining company.

Dozens of protesters waited outside Barrick Gold's Santiago headquarters for Harper's visit, which one Chilean environmental activist called "inappropriate."

A small group of protesters demonstrate outside the offices of Barrick Gold during a visit by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Santiago on Wednesday.
(Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press) The protesters claim the company's gold and silver Pascua Lama Project in the And…

Black's National Post: Neoconservatism with Cleavage

McQuaig was the National Post's token leftist but she was hardly just a token. The Post gave her a national platform. Black kept her in spite of claiming she should be horsewhipped! McQuaig's analysis of the Post seems right on. Even with Black long gone the Post right wing tradition carries on. The Post is no longer very flashy but it is just as right wing as under Black if not moreso.

Post was wolf in sheep's clothing
>by Linda McQuaig
July 16, 2007
Listening to Conrad Black being interviewed by Peter Gzowski on the radio a number of years ago, I was surprised to hear Black suggest that I be “horsewhipped.”

I knew he was angry about two lengthy articles I'd written about some of his business dealings, and I wouldn't have been surprised to hear him attack me, even urge that I be fired. But horsewhipped?

Of course, it was all part of Black's larger-than-life persona that included a high sense of self-drama that was always colourful in its excessiveness. Black al…

Latin America faces many choices

There are also many other forms of socialism or at least many more types of social democracy than that in Venezuela. Venezuela is hardly socialist. Most of the means of production, distribution and exchange are in private hands including the media which typically excoriates Chavez.
It is hilarious to see Harper trying to distance himself from the US when in fact he is carrying out the same basic capitalist policy as the US. Harper is a great fan of the US and thinks our relationships should be even closer. Of course he is also pushing for the integration of the US and Canada through the SPP.
It is interesting that in China Harper stresses human rights but in Colombia where the president's family is associated with extra-judicial right wing militias he stresses trade!

'Nonsense' to believe Latin America faces only 2 political choices: PM
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 | 9:05 AM ET
CBC News
Some South American countries are at a crossroads because they falsely believe…