Showing posts from 2010

Critics claim Mulroney should pay back libel settlement

I doubt that Mulroney will ever pay back the money. He has always been devious and crooked and no doubt happy to enjoy his settlement money. Of course he will also continue to maintain with a very wounded tone that he is completely innocent of any wrongdoing. The Liberal government was wrong to pay off Mulroney in the first place. They should have let the issue go to court. The Oliphant inquiry was very narrow in its focus so a lot of the important questions remain not only unanswered but unexamined. This is from the Star.

Pay back libel settlement, critics tell Mulroney

Richard J. Brennan

OTTAWA—A chorus of voices is demanding former prime minister Brian Mulroney pay back the $2-million libel settlement he was awarded in 1997 in light of an inquiry that says he was less than forthright while testifying under oath.

“I think this money was acquired effectively through false pretenses, and Canadians feel it’s wrong,” Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff told reporters Tuesday.

“I think M…

Bob Rae hints at Liberal-NDP accord.

I doubt that Ignatieff is anxious to join an accord with the NDP. In any event the way the polls are drifting up for the Conservatives I doubt Ignatieff would be at all inclined to join with other opposition parties to defeat the government in the first place. Rae is just living in the past because the future does not look that great for the Liberals. I wonder what Ignatieff thinks of all this musing by Rae! Perhaps the NDP could form a coalition with the Conservatives after the next election if the Conservatives do not get a majority. This would be like the Liberal Democrat Conservative Coalition in the UK. This is from the GlobeandMail.

Bob Rae hints at Liberal-NDP accord
Bill Curry

Bob Rae says there’s no rule preventing the Liberals and the NDP from ganging up and toppling a newly elected Tory government: He’s done it before and now he’s hinting it may happen again.
In a brief memoir posted this week on his website, the former Ontario NDP leader and premier delivers a shot across the …

Top Harper Aide refuses to testify before parliamentary committee.

Surely the public will wake up one day and realize that this government has absolutely no respect for the parliament and will do everything it can to frustrate its activity when it fears that some political harm might come of it. However one might think that the public would not be all that pleased with attempts to avoid accountability. Even with a weak opposition leader such as Ignatieff eventually people may come around to the view that this government just has to go if we are ever to have accountability and not constant attempts to dodge it. This is from ctv.

Top Harper aide refuses to testify before committee

Canada AM: Robert Fife in Ottawa
The Tories are launching another showdown with the opposition over the powers of parliament, saying only cabinet ministers and not their political staff can appear as witnesses before committees.

Date: Tue. May. 25 2010 11:21 AM ET
One of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's top aides is refusing to appear before a Commons committee for a schedul…

Privatization in City of Winnipeg

It seems that more and more long term contracts for water, sewage, etc. are being contracted out supposedly to save money but often at the expense of quality and service. These public private partnerships (PP3s) are increasingly popular and often increasingly under scrutiny for their shortcomings. This article illustrates some of the problems with the Winnipeg city plans. This is from the CCPA Manitoba office.

Fast Facts: Contract with Veolia for waste-water treatment does not pass the smell test
by Lynne Fernandez
Manitoba Office |
On May 12 EPC unanimously voted to accept a report prepared by Winnipeg Public Services. The Report recommends that the City award a contract to Veolia for the design, construction and, it appears, the shared operation of the South and North End sewage treatment plants. The Report assures readers that this is a good deal for Winnipeg. But those of us who have been following the process are not convinced.

Winnipeggers will be forgiven for not fully understand…

New Vehicle Sales down in Canada

Household debt is at record levels in Canada so it is not too surprising that big ticket items such as new cars should be recording a dip. What is more surprising is that they have been increasing over the last few months. This is from the VancouverSun.

New vehicle sales down in Canada: StatsCan


OTTAWA — The number of new vehicles sold in Canada dropped in March by 4.2 per cent, with a sharper decline in truck sales a major factor, Statistics Canada reported Friday.

The decrease to 132,867 vehicles sold sliced gains made in February — when an increase of 8.1 per cent was reported — by nearly half, with all but one province posting a drop in new vehicle sales.

The federal agency said new truck sales — which also factor SUVs, minivans, vans and buses — fell 5.7 per cent to 67,960 in March, but continued its "upward trend" that started in early 2009.

Passenger car sales fell 2.5 per cent to 64,907, with a sharp decline of 5.7 per cent in North American-built vehicles negating…

Agreement reached on release of detainee documents.

I am surprised that all the parties were able to work this out. However no doubt none wanted to provoke a constitutional crisis or even an election so it should not be too surprising. The Conservatives were holding out for veto power but did not get that. However, they must be satisfied with the checks that are provided against release of sensitive documents. This is from the CBC.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he's satisfied with the agreement on the release of Afghan detainee documents.In St-Félicien, Que., for a funding announcement, Harper called the deal "reasonable."I believe it meets both our objectives: obviously to abide by the Speaker's ruling but also — and this is extremely important — for the government to protect our legal obligation to keep confidential certain documents," he said."I do hope that it will work and that everyone will be satisfied with the arrangement."The Conservative government and the opposition parties reached a …

Final day for agreement on Afghan detainee document disclosure

I expect that the Conservative government knows full well that the Liberals in particular will not risk an election at this time. The Conservatives will continue to insist on having a veto over what is released in order that nothing damaging to their credibility should emerge. One would think that Conservative credibility is already damaged but nevertheless the polls show no dip in support. Ignatieff's leadership would no doubt account for this! This is from The Star.

Speaker Peter Milliken extends deadline for Afghan document disclosur

Richard J. Brennan

OTTAWA – House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken has agreed to extend until Friday the deadline for the Conservative government to hand over uncensored Afghan detainee documents to Parliament, or at least arrive at an all-party agreement on how to do it.

The sticking point on the release of controversial Afghan documents is the fact the Conservative government still wants to have the final say over what is mad…

Afghan mission has become incoherent.

The U.S. is now trying to make things appear more coherent by covering up all the cracks and disagreements in Obama's meeting with Karzai. The Marjah offensive has left US marines in control because there are not enough Afghans willing or able to take over. They probably realize that trying to rule the area will make them targets for assassination. Let the NATO troops die not them. Even the Kandahar offensive seems in doubt and it is not clear exactly how it is supposed to take place. If there is house to house fighting that would be a disaster. The locals have made it clear they do not want an offensive. These are the locals that NATO is there to protect. It is all an expensive farce paid for by US and allies taxpayer dollars and lives. Even Harper seems to have changed his tune and no longer wants further commitment at least to a military role. This is from the Toronto Star.

Siddiqui: Afghan mission has become incoherent

By Haroon Siddiqui
Editorial Page
You may disagree with …

Obama administration demands Amnesia from Reporters.

Of course the judge did not want Interrogator # 1 associated with Joshua Claus because of Claus' spotty record. The judge demanded that the reporters play by the rules of keeping such unpleasant information hidden from the public. There was no security issue here so applying the rule was not to protect security. Applying the rule was to avoid damaging information from getting out to the public. Hence the reporters had to disciplined. This is from the huffington post.

Dan Froomkin

Obama Administration Demands Amnesia From Reporters Covering Gitmo

Jack Newfield, the legendary investigative reporter, once wrote that if government officials had their way, journalists would be "stenographers with amnesia."

The "amnesia" part, at least, was generally considered a bit of an exaggeration.

But now, the Pentagon has banned four reporters from covering the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, because they refused to forget something that had already been reported to …

Premier Stelmach in Washington Selling the Oil Sands

The oil drilling rig disaster has given Stelmach an opening to sell Washington on the virtues of tar sands oil. It may be dirty but it will not pollute U.S. coast fisheries and beaches! It will be interesting to see if Obama changes his mind about not importing dirty oil. Actually, I do not see why Stelmach is so concerned about marketing Tar Sands oil. If the U.S. will not use the oil certainly China and no doubt many other countries will buy it and probably at better prices into the bargain. This is from the Edmonton Sun.
Premier Stelmach in Washington

Premier Ed Stelmach has made a trip to Washington D.C. to convince American legislators they need Alberta oil.

The Premier met with U.S. senators in an effort to try and improve the image of Alberta's oil sands. He talked about how greener policies by the Obama government that could distance the U.S. from Alberta oil could be damaging for both sides.

"We have to ensure that U.S. legislators are awa…

Board: Afghan authorities beat citizens on whim.

Although turning over detainees in these circumstances is probably a war crime I expect nothing will be done. Eventually the opposition will get tired of attacking the government or realize that probably the vast majority of Canadians could care less or may even think that the detainees are getting what they deserve. Thinking otherwise would be to be soft on terrorists. I expect that soon the whole issue will disappear. However perhaps no agreement on the issue of release of documents will be reached and then there could still be a few fireworks.

Afghan authorities beat citizens on 'whim': board
By CBC News
CBC News

Canadian soldiers saw and talked about Afghan authorities beating citizens in the street "on an apparent whim" around the time a suspected Taliban fighter turned over to Afghan police was assaulted in June 2006, a military board of inquiry has found.

The board revealed the suspected insurgent who was assaulted by Afghan police in front of Canadian soldiers was…

Harper axes funding for 11 women's groups.

It seems that the Conservatives are protesting a bit much when they accuse the Liberals of bringing up the abortion issue. After all the issue was brought up by the Conservatives in their refusal to fund programs that involve abortion rights and now it seems they are attacking liberal women's groups who might campaign for those rights as well. This will keep some in the Conservative base happy anyway. The piper will not pay you unless you pipe the piper's tune. This is from CTV.

Harper government axes funding for 11 women's groups News Staff

A women's rights group is charging that the Harper government has cut funding for 11 women's groups in the last two weeks, just prior to June's G8 summit at which maternal health to a key part of the agenda.

Kim Bulger, executive director of Match International, said her group was one of the groups to lose funding.

International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda said the group's funding was cut due to performance issue…

Ignatieff wants Harper to extend Michaelle Jean's term as Governor General

I have mixed feelings about Michaelle Jean. Some of her work has been exemplary but in other respects it has not. She gave in to Harper and prorogued parliament but she also proudly presented a medal to General Natynczyk for service in Iraq an operation that Canada was not even supposed to be involved in. From wikipedia.
Natynczyk attended the U.S. Army War College, and was subsequently appointed Deputy Commanding General, III Corps andFort Hood. In January 2004, he deployed with III Corps to Baghdad, Iraq, serving first as the Deputy Director of Strategy, Policy and Plans, and subsequently as the Deputy Commanding General of the Multi-National Corps (Iraq) during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Natynczyk led the Corps' 35,000 soldiers, consisting of 10 separate brigades, stationed throughout the Iraq Theatre of Operations.[2][4] He was later awarded the Meritorious Service Cross specifically for his combat efforts in Operation Iraqi FreedomJanuary 2004 to January 2005.[5]

Perhaps as a …

Cracks in Opposition approach to Afghan detainee issue.

The difference hinges on whether Frank Iacobucci should be used to help resolve the problem. Iacobucci has already been hired by the Conservatives to advise them on what could be released uncensored. Why Ignatieff would also accept him is a bit hard to comprehend since Iacobucci in accepting the Conservative job which in effect implies that his vetting the documents is appropriate compared to MP's doing so. Neither the NDP nor the Bloc Quebecois go along with relying on Iacobucci. Perhaps next week the parties will come to a resolution. It is quite doubtful that Ignatieff would ever contemplate anything that could result in an election!

Cracks appear in opposition's approach to Afghan detainee issue
By Steven Chase
Globe and Mail
Parties divided on whether they should call on retired judge to resolve the problem of accessing uncensored documents

As the search continues for a parliamentary compromise on Afghan detainee records, the real question appears to be whether opposition part…

U.S. border agents inspecting more at British Columbia crossing

Even though the Olympics are offer customs staff remain at high levels. While states and cities and towns reduce services of all kinds even police anything that has to do with security it seems is sacrosanct. This also may help to reduce tourism just what the US needs when the economy is struggling to recover.

U.S. border agents inspecting more travelers heading into Canada

Thanks to the increase in border staffing meant to handle the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C., U.S. Customs and Border Protection is conducting more inspections of northbound travelers as they leave the country.
CBP spokesman Tom Schreiber said the outbound inspections have intercepted big drug shipments and fugitives in the past, and making those inspections more frequent should pay off.
"These operations have high-value results," Schreiber said.

For an outbound inspection, a group of uniformed CBP officers use traffic cones to funnel northbound vehicles into a si…

Making criminals pay by charging the taxpayer more!

2 Billion is a small price to pay to have the Harper Conservatives look to be hard on crime and criminals. The money can be made up by cutting back on expenditures on the social safety net. The worse off should show more responsibility and not depend on the government so the 2 billion can be cut from benefits. This will build character as will double bunking of criminals .This is from the Toronto Sun.

Crime bill cost $2B: Toews

OTTAWA - Legislation that prevents criminals from getting extra credit for time served will cost the federal government about $2 billion over five years, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Wednesday.

Reacting to news reports that the Parliamentary Budget Office has estimated the cost at up to $10 billion, Toews said, “Our government understands that there will be a cost to this.” But he said Budget Officer Kevin Page’s estimates were flawed.

The government bill, which is now law, eliminates so-called two-for-one sentenc…

Blackwater (Xe) trained Canadian troops

Apparently legal problems and human rights issues count for nothing when awarding contracts. If Canadian troops learned from Blackwater then they learned that all that counts is protection of your client. The citizens of the country you are occupying don't count. If they don't scatter fast enough just shoot them because that makes sure your clients are safe. It seems this company has enough connections and cheerleaders that it does not matter much about its legal and human rights problems. Canada has done its bit to support the profits of private contractors that are part of the military industrial complex. This is from the National Post.
Blackwater trained our troops
Defence spent more than $6M at controversial U.S. security firm

Tom Blackwell, National Post

The department sent a succession of personnel to Blackwater's Moyock, N.C., training compound from 2005 to as recently as April 2009, some of them learning tactics for working in dangerous settings, records obtaine…

Ex-CSIS chief rejects new anti-terror powers

The Tories are bound and determined to throw tid bits to their right wing base and show that they are tough on terror. You would think it would be embarrassing to ask for powers that a former intelligence chief says are not necessary. But being necessary and being politically advantageous are not the same. Harper is depending upon the fear developed by the war on terror to help moves such as this boost his political fortunes. The opposition should call him out on this one and perhaps he will change his mind. This is from the montrealgazette.
Ex-CSIS chief rejects new anti-terror powers

Tories try to revive 'preventative arrest'


Two contentious anti-terrorism powers the government intends to revive are unnecessary, potentially dangerous and cross the line between state security and individual rights, Canada's former spymaster says.

"We should think very carefully before we take that step," Reid Morden said of the gov…

Winnipeg Journalist Val Werier honored.

I knew Val personally as we served on the Manitoba Law Reform Commission long ago. I always admired him as a journalist and he contributed a great deal to the work of the Commission. He was always urging the members who were mostly lawyers to use simple straightforward language in our reports. He is 93 already, means I must be a few years older too since that was back in the days when Ed Schreyer was premier. This is from winnipegfreepres.

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Werier honoured for Lake Winnipeg columns

VAL Werier's relationship with Lake Winnipeg has lasted a lifetime.
That's part of the reason why the Lake Winnipeg Foundation has awarded the longtime journalist the Alexander Bajkov Award for his writings on the massive body of water and its importance to the makeup of Manitoba.
"I've won a few awards in my time but this one is special," Werier said Friday.
For over 70 years, Werier has served as a reporter and story-teller in this province. Lake Winnipeg…

Former Ambassador: Diplomats knew detainees could be tortured by Afghan government.

This is just part of the dirt that goes on and goes on without anything ever being done about it because no one wants anything done about it. In fact the dirt might be useful in getting intelligence from detainees as the result of torture. Or it may be that it is done just because there is hardly any alternative. Perhaps they could give them to the US to be tortured in Bagram on occasion!
Of course diplomats cover their ass with nonsense toilet paper they get from the Afghan government that assures them that no one will be tortured. The same sort of crap wipe was given by the Syrian government in the case of Canadians such as Arar who were tortured there. Organisations such as Amnesty have consistently documented torture in both countries. But for the diplomats all that is required is the proper ass wipe to show that you have made certain there will be no torture. This is from the TorontoSun.

Former ambassador: Diplomats knew detainees could be tortured

Issue of release of documents on detainees could end up in Supreme Court.

It remains to be seen whether the parties can sort this issue out or if Milliken can give a ruling that will satisfy the opposition. In any event I expect that any Supreme Court ruling would be in favor or some restrictions on the release of documents in the name of National Security. That is a sacred cow which must be kept so that governments can always have a way of avoiding scrutiny or accountability. This is from the Star.

Struggle between Parliament and government could reach Supreme Court
April 21, 2010

Susan Delacourt

OTTAWA–Will the Supreme Court of Canada have to step in to sort out the power struggle between the House of Commons and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government?

It’s a solution that some parliamentary experts and observers believe is possible after Commons Speaker Peter Milliken issues his historic ruling on whether Parliament or the government have the right to control the documents in the Afghan detainee controversy.

“On this one, I think that’s something the gov…

Canada's Senior Commander in Afghanistan investigated for accidental rifle discharge.

Although the general orders himself investigated to be transparent he was helped along by the fact that a reporter had already heard about the incident. It will be interesting to see how much detail if any emerges from the investigation. Somehow I doubt he will face court martial. The general is not alone as the article points out there have been hundreds of cases of accidental weapon discharges among Canadian troops in Afghanistan. This is from the Telegraph

Canada's military chief in Afghanistan 'fired rifle in air base'
Canad's senior military commander in Afghanistan has ordered an investigation into himself after he accidentally fired his rifle while loading it at an air base.

By Toby Harnden in Washington

Brigadier-General Daniel Ménard, who commands the Canadian and American troops who make up Task Force Kandahar, approached the media on Saturday, citing a need for openness, to say that his C8 carbine had fired unexpectedly at Kandahar air base on March 25th.
His …

Canada has most prisoner transfers in Afghanistan

As usual the Harper government is secretive about everything refusing to release figures about how many detainees are transferred even though other countries do so. As is done ad nauseam security reasons are given. Apparently other countries do not share these concerns. Not only that but the Human Rights organisation has trouble gaining access to these detainees. This is from the CBC.

Canada tops allies in Afghan prisoner transfers

Canada outstripped its NATO allies almost two-to-one in the number of prisoners it turned over to Afghan authorities in the first nine months of last year, figures prepared for the Afghan government show.

The statistics were compiled by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and made available to The Canadian Press. The federal government does not disclose them.

Furthermore, the commission complained in its latest annual report that it is still frustrated in attempts to check on prisoners handed over to the country's notorious intelligence s…