Showing posts from April, 2010

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…

Michel Chartrand Quebec Labour leader dead at 93.

Chartrand fought all his life for working people and also for the Quebec separatist cause. He was known for his fiery speeches and salty language. He was jailed by several different Quebec regimes for his activities most famously during the War Measures Act. More is available at this site.

Memories of Michel

Michel Chartrand, an outstanding leader of the Quebec labour, nationalist, socialist and social justice movements, died on April 12 at the age of 93.

A multitude of Québécois worked with Michel in the causes that marked his long life, and the Quebec media this week are full of tributes to his contributions. Translated below is an older tribute by 110 well-known activists, published on the occasion of his 90th birthday, that summarizes some of the key events of his life. It is followed by some personal memories of my own.

— Richard Fidler.

In Praise of a Passionate Defender of the Workers

Le Devoir, November 18, 2006

Next December 20, Michel Chartrand will celebrate his 90th birthday. O…

Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin says detainee monitoring program broke down..

There is much clear evidence of cover up given in this testimony. Information was deliberately as a matter of policy kept from people who should have been able to receive the information. Of course there has been a complete stonewalling on this. No doubt it will simply fade into the black hole of forgotten misdeeds and no one will be held accountable. This is from the National Post.

Diplomat says detainee monitoring program broke down

Juliet O’Neill, Canwest News Service

OTTAWA -- A monitoring program aimed at protecting Canadian-transferred detainees from torture by Afghanistan authorities "broke down" not long after it was established in May 2007, diplomat Richard Colvin testified Tuesday at a public hearing by the Military Police Complaints Commission.

Mr. Colvin said very few of the more than 100 detainees captured by the Canadian military and transferred to Afghanistan control were visited by Foreign Affairs officials. And he said the reports of their interviews with det…

Ignatieff changes tune on health user fees.

The great Harvard human rights prof. thinks its OK to force a dress code on Muslim women for them to get provincial services and then he also applauds a move by Quebec Premier Jean Charest to impose a 25 dollar medical visit charge which would presumably violate the Canada Health Act that prohibits user fees. Perhaps he read the Act or perhaps his party read him the riot act. In any case he repented but did not apologize of course. Maybe the Liberals should bring Dion back or at least send Iggy to join Dion. This is from

Ignatieff thinks again on health user fees
Facing Liberal revolt, he now opposes Quebec’s proposal

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has been quick lately to show he’s on-side with moves by Quebec’s provincial Liberal government. When Premier Jean Charest moved to force fully veiled Muslim women to remove their niqabs to get some provincial services, Ignatieff quickly voiced his approval. Similarly, he was fast to say he thought a Quebec plan to study imposi…

Lawyers: Taser tried to intimidate consultants.

Taser is extremely aggressive in defending the safety of the Taser in spite of many cases where it seems that the instrument was at least a contributing factor in deaths. It publishes reams of studies funded by itself showing how safe the instrument is and hires many experts who of course come up with findings that Taser approves. As in this case those who testify that there may be some dangers in Taser use and that there is a risk of death are villified and subject to character what almost amounts to character assassination. There is lots of money at stake for Taser and so this type of legal boxing is well worth the high pay of their legal tag team.

Taser International tried to intimidate consultants, lawyers say

Company launched a 'scurrilous attack' to discredit professionals by saying they are guilty of bias and dishonesty, judge told


Taser International was accused Monday of trying to intimidate consultants and lawyers hired by the…

Federal Conservatives have ten point lead over Liberals.

This lead will probably not hold up after the recent problems in the Conservative cabinet. That the NDP dropped three points seems rather anomalous. Perhaps this poll is a bit anomalous. It will be interesting to see what the next polls show. At least the lead is not enough to give Harper a majority so he is not likely to try to provoke an election. Ignatieff will do the same as Dion and support the Conservatives but without the Green Shift! This is from MacLeans.

Tories build up double-digit lead
New poll suggests a snap election would return nearly identical Parliament
The federal Conservatives have built up a 10-point lead over their Liberal party challengers thanks in part to a 3-point jump in the last month alone. The latest survey by Ipsos Reid Public Affairs has the Conservatives in a comfortable lead at 37 per cent to the Liberals’ 27 per cent. While the Liberals lost one point since March, the NDP dropped three to land at 15 per cent support. The Greens and the Bloc were tied …

McKay wants to extend the Afghan Mission

No doubt at the urging of his US imperialist comrades the junior partner will take on an extended but non-combat role to make up for the demise of our combat role. At the very least any extension should be debated in parliament. But then the defender of U.S. humanistic imperialism Michael Ignatieff will no doubt support the Conservatives in extending the mission because after all it is not a combat role. As no doubt military experts will point out they could still be involved in combat because they need to defend themselves! This is from CBC.

Afghan deployment past 2011 possible: MacKay

CBC News
Defence Minister Peter MacKay leaves the Canadian HQ in Kandahar on Saturday with Brig.-Gen. Daniel Ménard. MacKay said keeping Canadian police mentors in Afghanistan to train police officers is an option Ottawa is mulling for when the combat mission ends in 2011. (Murray Brewster/Canadian Press)
Defence Minister Peter MacKay on Saturday repeated the government's official line that the cou…

Illegal smoke sales at all time high.

One obvious issue that is overlooked is the huge differential between the cost of legal and illegal cigarettes because of the high taxes on the product. If there were less taxes the differential would come down and fewer would take the risk of peddling the contraband cigarettes. However given the amount of revenue governments get from these taxes and given the power of the anti-smoking lobbies this situation is not likely to change in the near future. Just think of it positively as a giant stimulus incentive to create employment in strategically located aboriginal communities. This is from the Globe and Mail.

Illegal smokes hit all-time high: group

From Friday's Globe and Mail

Parents, teachers and public health campaigns all tell teenagers the same thing: Don't smoke. But that message is facing increasingly fierce competition from an influx of cheap, readily available cigarettes sold in school yards, on street corners or on native reserves without proof-of-age requ…

Majority of Canadians oppose extending Afghan mission.

Opposition to extending the mission even extends to a majority of Conservatives. Of course New Democrats and Green Party members and the Bloc Quebecois strongly disapprove of extension. In European countries with Afghan missions majorities are opposed as well. Soon the same thing may happen in the U.S. as casualties continue. This is from the CBC.
Don't extend Afghan mission, Canadians say: poll

CBC News
A majority of Canadians oppose prolonging the country's military mission in Afghanistan, a new EKOS poll suggests. (EKOS)
Half of Canadians do not support the country's military being deployed to Afghanistan, and 60 per cent oppose extending the mission past its current end date of July 2011, a new poll suggests.

The poll, conducted by research firm EKOS and released Thursday exclusively to the CBC, found 36 per cent of respondents supported the mission, though only 28 per cent would be amenable to prolonging it.

The survey, which also inquired about federal voter intentions, …

Grassy Narrows aboriginals protest Ontario govt. inaction on mercury poisoning.

The poisoning actually happened back in the sixties and seventies but the natives are demanding more action by the Ontario government. Recent tests by a Japanese doctor show that the population is still suffering from the effects of the poisoning even though the level of mercury in the waterways are now much reduced and within allowable limits. The federal government claims the situation is under control but the medical study shows there are still health problems.ORT Protesters demand action on Grassy NarrowsBrendan Kennedy

BRENDAN KENNEDY/TORONTO STAR...Grassy Narrows First Nation is a community of nearly 1,000 people about an hour's drive northeast of Kenora."We still have a long journey to go to make the water clean again, to make the land alive again," Da Silva said.The protestors accuse the McGuinty government of not taking responsibility for allowing the Dryden Pulp & Paper Co. to dump 9,000 kg of mercury into the Wabigoon River between 1962 and 1970.They called …

Lawyer wants human rights tribunal cited for contempt of court.

The lawyer seems to have a point. It is rather strange to hear evidence before determining whether one has jurisdiction in the case, especially when a court has ruled that the jurisdiction matter should be dealt with first. Sometimes human rights tribunals are rather overbearing and arrogant filled with their own self importance and not even aware that they themselves may be involved in violating rights! This is from the Montreal Gazette.
Comic's lawyer wants human rights tribunal cited for contempt of court


A lawyer for standup comedian Guy Earle, who has been accused of making homophobic remarks, has filed a motion in B.C. Supreme Court asking that the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal be cited for contempt.

Jim Millar’s motion also asks that the section of the Human Rights Code being applied in the case be declared unconstitutional because it violates Earle’s right to freedom of expression.

The move comes after Millar walked out of a tribunal hearing earlie…

Many protest bad news Quebec budget.

Raising taxes is probably much better than cutting services although increased fees often are regressive in that they are not related to income and may impact those with low incomes most. What we will likely see soon are more cuts to the social safety net plus an increase in income inequality as high post recession unemployment results in lower wages. This is from the Toronto Sun.

Thousands protest Quebec budget

MONTREAL - It was a sign of the coming fiscal storm: thousands of people poured into the streets of Montreal to protest Quebec's bad-news provincial budget and prompted a police intervention.

As governments everywhere try to tackle deficits after an era of heavy stimulus spending, Thursday's demonstration could be a warning of what's ahead in the post-recession era.

Police in riot gear fended off a crowd outside the Quebec finance minister's office.

Old Montreal's business district was awash in chanting, placard-waving d…

Walkom: What would Iggy do on Afghanistan?

A good question. On questions such as these the great humanitarian imperialist is probably more reactionary than the conservative Harper. Harper seems to worry about political fallout and losing support if he does not pull out. He has been firm on finishing the combat mission in 2011. Of course he will no doubt try to mount some other mission to keep Canadian taxpayers busy funding corruption and warlords in Afghanistan. Iggy wants a debate but he supported the Conservative motion to extend the war. He and some other Liberals saved the day for Harper. Iggy should be dumped unceremoniously, the sooner the better. He can join Dion and the Green Shift. This is from the Star.
What would Iggy do on Afghanistan?

By Thomas Walkom
National Affairs Columnist
The opposition Liberals want Prime Minister Stephen Harper to clarify what he plans for Afghanistan. But he is clear. He says he’s bringing Canada’s troops home.

The real puzzle is: What would the Liberals do?

This is not an academic question…

Well over 50 per cent of people in some areas of Winnipeg below poverty line.

In Lord Selkirk Part 68 per cent of resident are below the poverty line. Not surprisingly unemployment is far above the provincial average, almost 19 per cent. Many are children, have little education, and are aboriginal. Much needs to be done to help these people out of poverty but with budgets being slashed there is not all that much room for optimism. This is from the CBC.
Poverty by Area
Most of Manitoba's poor live in Winnipeg. The city’s poorest neighbourhood is Lord Selkirk Park where 68 percent of the people in the community live below the LICOs-IAT poverty line. Two-thirds of Lord Selkirk Park’s residents are Aboriginal and more than a third of them are nine-years-old or younger. More than half of Lord Selkirk Park’s residents age 15 years and older have no educational certificate, diploma or degree and the unemployment rate is 18.7 percent. The median household income is $15,552 and most people rent their homes for an average of $436 a month. Many residents of this com…