Showing posts from August, 2007

Murray Dobbin: Canada up for grabs

Day's and Harper's remarks are rather reckless but it remains to be seen how much if any effect they will have. As Dobbin notes the Liberal introduced the SPP and it was no less secretive then than now. Interesting that according to Dobbin Dion sees the Afghan war as part of the SPP agenda.

Canada up for grabs
>by Murray Dobbin
August 30, 2007
Stephen Harper's behaviour around the NAFTA leaders' Security and Prosperity Partnership summit was politically reckless, and he will pay a price for it. The summit was really about the deep integration of Canada with the United States, a major concern to anyone concerned about Canada's sovereignty, our ability to manage our borders and regulate trade and corporate behaviour.
Harper's dismissal of the demonstrators outside the Montebello summit as “sad” and his condescending rejection of critics from every opposition party leaves the impression that Mr. Harper thinks he is a monarch, not a minority prime minister.

Even wor…

Ignatieff falls for loyal, clean, puffin

I agree with the scientist that birds should not be judged in terms of humans. Birds do not create Weapons of Mass Destruction and they do not watch hour long memorials on the tenth anniversary of Princess Diana's death. They go about their bird business. It seems that there are in most societies linkages between birds and animals and human culture though.
Liberals may approve of hiding excrement to keep their politics clean but the opposition will go to any length to dig it up again. The puffin is hot a very good flyer and has to work like the devil to keep aloft. It often crash lands. This is a good metaphor for Liberal fortunes.

Ignatieff falls for loyal, clean puffin
'A Symbol For Our Party'
Craig Offman, National Post
Published: Friday, August 31, 2007
Move over, mighty eagle. Here comes the proud puffin.

Outside the Liberal party caucus retreat being held in St. John's yesterday, deputy leader Michael Ignatieff praised the morals of Newfoundland's provincial bird…

The "other" war at home.

I don't know why Riley thinks it is obvious that Canadian troops will be withdrawn in 2009. Harper probably wants to extend the period and no doubt some people in the military as well. The drug trade depends on the co-operation of many people besides the Taliban and many of those who profit have connections with or are even part of the government. Partial destruction of the crops is worse than useless. It hurts the farmer's concerned who will then turn to the Taliban but the dealers remain unscathed as drug prices go up because of the relative scarcity and so their income may not decline at all. For some reason the news media never mentions that under the Taliban production was severely curtailed.

Susan Riley . The "other" war at home

Susan Riley
The Ottawa Citizen

Friday, August 31, 2007

It is amazing the way politicians can make simple things so complicated. It seems obvious, for instance, that Canada's troops will be withdrawn from Kandahar in February, 2009, as…

Slogan on Billboard endorsed by National Citizens Coalition.

Support our troops has always been politicised. You can hardly support the troops and not the mission when supporting the troops has come to mean supporting them in the mission. We should support the troops by bringing them home.
This pitiful patriotic mindless but emotionally compelling drivel about supporting the troops is imported from the USA together with the ribbon logo. The constant coverage of the cruel losses and heartbreak of families shown on TV reinforces the effects. So far we have not had the absolutely nauseating maudlin ads that are now being inflicted on the US public that are even more transparent in misusing people's natural feelings for purely propagandistic purposes.

Support our Troops slogan endorsed by National Citizens Coalition

Toronto's famous political billboard confirms politicization of the slogan.

TORONTO, August 29, 2007: A billboard at the intersection of Bay and Gerrard that is usually used as a political message board is currently rented to th…

Dion urges Harper to pull troops from Afghanistan in 2009

There is no danger of the Liberal motion causing much problem for Harper since the NDP will vote with the Conservatives since they take the view that the troops should be withdrawn right now.
Not only regular troops and some support people serving in Afghanistan but our secret special forces are serving alongside their US counterparts. Nothing like togetherness of the spooky groups. I quote:
The Department of National Defence has also admitted that Canada's secret special forces, Joint Task Force Two, has been operating alongside the American and other special forces units in Afghanistan but no details have ever been released.

Dion again urges Harper to pull troops from Afghanistan in 2009
Last Updated: Thursday, August 30, 2007 | 2:29 PM ET
CBC News
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion again urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to commit to a full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2009 and to notify NATO and participating countries of that plan so they can find a replacement.

(CBC) P…

US tourism to Canada declines

There is no specific data on tourists from countries other than the US. The by the numbers section does not list the money spent in Canada by Americans. In spite of the decline perhaps there is still a balance in Canada's favor. Who can tell the way the data is presented.
It is not surprising there is a decline given the fact that our dollars will soon be close to par. The tourist gurus of course think of the issue in terms of branding. We should up our image to an exotic but more expensive destination. However much of Canada is similar to the adjacent US states. Manitoba, Saskatchewan and North Dakota and part of Montana are quite similar except that Winnipeg is larger than any city in North Dakota. As mentioned as well worries about border crossing may be a factor.
On the matter of being cheap, friends who live near the border in Manitoba go to the US because they think it is cheap with our dollar so strong.


Boring and not-so cheap

Ontario Election Polls

The Liberal ads I have seen on TV seem mainly negative directed against Tory (pun intended) policy on health care and funding of faith-based schools. The present polls seem to indicate a minority government. A minority government might be better than either of the major parties gaining a majority. The suggestions offered the parties all smack of the importance of selling over any concern about policies per se. But then this is what contemporary politics is all about branding your product. Perhaps as suggested here the NDP's relation to the Greens will mimic that of the Liberals to the NDP. A vote for Y the smaller party is a wasted vote so vote for X the bigger brother.

August 30, 2007

Ontario voters waiting for a leader to emerge

An SES-Sun Media poll released on the eve of the provincial election campaign delivers bad news for all three provincial party leaders.

The poll reveals 40% support for the Liberals; 34% for the Tories; 19% for the …

Dave Coles on Montebello protests

The Harper Index often has interesting posts. Coles shows quite convincingly that the undercover cops were not doing as the official police story claims.

Democracy threat countered by Youtube and indie media - union leader Dave Coles

Agents provocateurs only the tip of Montebello story.

HALIFAX, NS, August 27, 2007: Yesterday, interviewed Dave Coles, the union leader at the centre of the Montebello agents provocateurs story, by phone during his stop at the Halifax airport. Coles is President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers of Canada. He has been active in union organizing since 1967, and got his start with the local representing pulp mill workers in Crofton, British Columbia. We present excerpts of the interview: A week later, how do you feel about Montebello?

Dave Coles: I feel disappointed and disgusted. I've been around people being infiltrated all my life in the labour movement. It never stops. These people will resort to every dirt…

Judy Rebick on the Quebec Social Forum

Somehow I must have missed mainstream coverage of this event. It is good that we have sites such as that can fill us in. I find it a bit ironic that students should be berating unions for their elitism. If anything students are a more elite group than unions and the complaint will hardly foster co-operation.

Social Forum showcases strong Quebec Left

The largest gathering of the Left in the history of Quebec, the FSQ united all the social movements in the province in one place.

Photo > Judy Rebick

>by Judy Rebick
August 28, 2007

Vastly exceeding the predictions of organizers, more than 5,000 people participated in the first Quebec Social Forum (FSQ) in Montreal last weekend. It was the largest gathering of the Left in the history of Quebec.

Facing a rise of the Right in Quebec, consolidated in the last election where the right-wing ADQ (Action Democratique du Quebec) displaced the PQ (Parti Quebecois) as the official opposition, the FSQ showed that the Left is alive…

James Laxer on the Stelco Sale

I thought that at one time Laxer was a socialist but in this article he seems to be a great defender of the Canadian nationalist bourgeoisie against the encroachments of global (particularly US) capital. There is no call for nationalisation of private companies or of worker control. Historically many Canadian owned companies have been far from progressive.
Probably most Canadian capitalist are themselves internationalist and don't care a whit about whether companies are owned in Canada or elsewhere. Anyway most large companies now will have shareholders from all over.
US foreign policy is to make Canada a reservoir for much needed energy, water, and mineral raw materials and that would probably occur whether or not companies involved were globally or Canadian owned. You have a government committed to serving as a handmaid to the US, that is the problem.

U.S. Steel Takes Over Stelco: Requiem for what was once a Canadian Owned Industry

US Steel, historically the mighty American …

Costs of Canadian Afghan Mission

This is over a year old so the expenditure by now will be far greater. However, the amount is quite substantial. It would be good if some economist could list some of the opportunity costs of the mission listing some of the things that could have been achieved by spending that amount of money on other projects.

Cost of Afghan mission
$2B and rising: Tally includes only a fraction of new costs in Kandahar; Forces could be there for years

David Pugliese
The Ottawa Citizen

Friday, March 03, 2006

CREDIT: Chris Mikula, The Ottawa Citizen
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his son, Ben, were at the Canadian Forces Appreciation Night at the Ottawa Senators game last night, along with about 1,500 Canadian Forces staff and their families.

Canadian taxpayers have spent more than $2 billion on the country's ongoing military mission to Afghanistan, with the cost of the latest deployment to Kandahar largely still to come.

So far, the Canadian Forces commitment to Afghanistan, which started ramping u…

Polls on Support for Afghan Mission

This is from a military oriented blog. The article illustrates well that percentages vary directly with the particular phrasing of the question. What the article calls making the people better informed is in effect casting the mission in a more favorable light and not surprisingly it increases the number in favor of the mission. So the obvious solution often used by polling that is meant to support a certain position is to ask the question in a form that will generate the desired response.

Polls, damned polls and questions
A lot depends on what you ask:
As the Canadian death toll climbs in Afghanistan, conventional wisdom would suggest that public support for the bloody mission will plummet in direct response.

Polling data accumulated over the past year and a half, however, tells a more complex tale, indicating that opinion on the divisive issue has held relatively stable -- sometimes even after troop deaths -- and that Canadians may be more likely to approve of the historic military m…

SQ spooks face up to flip-flop

This is from Rabble although the author seems to be an American. I didn't realize that demonstrators typically fire on police in Florida! The author is probably correct though that there the purpose of the infiltration has nothing to do with public order but with discrediting the protest. It also provides a good opportunity to give police practice in charging, dispersing, and arresting protesters. Many in the public already associate protests with property damage, trashing, and violence against police. Make sure that this perception does not fade.

SQ spooks face up to flip flop

Rogue cops hidden among anti-SPP protesters suggest a dystopic future for North American law enforcement.

>by Keith Gottschalk
August 28, 2007

So the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) inserted three agents provocateurs in the recent protests at the Montebello Masters of the Universe Threesome in order to incite a riot.

Of course, this is nothing new for either the SQ or for the Masters of the Universe in general.

I h…

Nova Scotia activists demand inquiry in Montebello incident.

I wonder why it is just Nova Scotia activists. I expect there will be more such demands. The police explanation doesn't fit in with what can be seen on TV or with the reports of anyone else who was there. I doubt that Stockwell Day will do anything unless there is a lot more political pressure. Day's most positive accomplishment was not to cave in and agree with the US when he was shown some of their secret material on Arar. He was surprisingly steadfast in repeating his view that Arar was innocent. It just goes to show even the bad guys are not always bad. Of course nothing further has been done to challenge the US on Arar or Khadr or Benatta.

Nova Scotia activists demand inquiry into Montebello protest
Last Updated: Monday, August 27, 2007 | 7:10 PM AT
CBC News
Nova Scotia activists are calling for an inquiry into the tactics used by undercover police at the leaders summit protest one week ago in Montebello, Que.

About 15 human rights and labour groups gathered at a news confer…

UN horrified by expansion of opium production in Afghanistan.

The article leaves out some important facts. Although production may be most in the south certainly the drug trade is also in the north. No doubt many who profit from the trade are also in the government or "former" warlords. While Taliban no doubt are involved there are countless others including many supporters of the Karzai government. Another fact that is left out is that during the Taliban era they were paid to stop production and did so. Colin Powell presented them a check for their good work not all that long before everything turned sour and after 9/11 of course there was no more dealing with the Taliban. The Taliban never did completely stop drug dealing.
Anyway the mission in Afghanistan can at least record one outstanding economic success.

UN horrified by surge in opium trade in Helmand

Despite 7,000 UK troops, Taliban-backed production up 48%

Declan Walsh
Tuesday August 28, 2007
The Guardian

Britain's drug policy in Afghanistan's Helmand province lay in tat…

What's New at the Iacobucci Inquiry?

Here is the latest entry in the What's New category at the Iacobucci Inquiry website. This is indicative of the extent to which the Inquiry is keeping the public informed what is going on. The Inquiry is to give its report in January.

What's New
The hearing on April 12, 2007 is expected to be webcast on the Cable Public Affairs Channel at

Casualties begin to unravel Afghan force

Casualties are much more real to the public consciousness it seems than the lofty ideals that are always trotted out as reasons for the mission. The same tired phraseology is used after each casualty: the person believed in the mission, it would be wrong to pull out and: a) betray the people of Afghanistan (Iraq or wherever) b) leave Afghanistan (Iraq or wherever) to become a prey to i) chaos ii) terrorists iii) become a failed state. We are building a secure and democratic Afghanistan with the rule of law(Iraq or wherever) I am sure you could develop a simple computer program to spout out this stuff and dispense with commentators except to read the scripts.

Casualties begin to unravel Afghan force August 27, 2007
WASHINGTON: The US is worried about weakening Italian and German military commitments in Afghanistan as casualties mount in the International Security and Assistance Force, including the "friendly fire" incident on Friday that killed three British soldiers.

Debate …

Naomi Klein on Montebello and the world of total surveillance

Sometimes Klein tends to exaggerate and engage in rhetorical extravagance but she is usually perceptive. I like this:
In the Bush era, security doesn't trump big business; it may be the biggest business of all.

The provision of cameras for protestors to send their messages inside is really priceless. No doubt it enables the intelligence services to add to their already bulging database about protesters. It is passing strange while this equipment was provided that the meeting refused to accept the huge petition that the Council of Canadians tried to present. Wouldn't it be helpful for security to add those names to their database of protesters. Shame on them. Missed opportunity.

Democracy's new dawn is on CCTV: the security state as infotainment

So keen are America's leaders to hear dissent they're videotaping the dissenters. Welcome to a world of total surveillance

Naomi Klein
Friday August 24, 2007
The Guardian

As protesters gathered recently outside the Security an…

The Politics of Corporate Party Crashing

This is interesting as presenting one of the protest participant's point of view. It also shows some of the inner conflicts within the protest organisation process. Harder in surely premature in thinking that SPP's grave is dug. The protest did nothing to stop the process. There may be some move towards making the process more transparent but it may also just mean that the process will become even less perceptible and the yearly meetings may become just a more open show while everything important goes on behind the scenes as it has been already for the most part.

The politics of corporate party crashing

As activists assess their next steps, many wonder: can we still work together, dig the SPP's grave still deeper, and then push it in? And where do we go from there?

>by Joel Davison Harden
August 27, 2007

The North American global justice movement just exposed the “Security and Prosperity Partnership” (SPP), the latest corporate assault on our democracy, environment an…

April poll of Sask. Party lead in Sask.

I am sure there must be more recent polls but I imagine that the Sask Party still has a substantial lead. I hear that Calvert has new teeth in preparation for the campaign. I hope they are good and sharp!

Sask. Party enjoys big lead
Angela Hall, The Leader-Post
Published: Saturday, April 28, 2007
Brad Wall's Saskatchewan Party would sweep to power if a provincial election was held immediately, according to a poll conducted for the Leader-Post.

Nearly 55 per cent of decided respondents said they would cast a ballot for the Saskatchewan Party -- an almost 25-point lead over Premier Lorne Calvert's New Democrats at 29 per cent, the Sigma Analytics poll found.

"That's a deep hole to dig out of," said Ken Rasmussen, director of the University of Regina's graduate school public policy.

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Saskatchewan Party Leader Brad Wall is gaining popularity in the polls.
(Handout photo)

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