January 2008 Archives

January 31, 2008

Environment Canada scientists told to toe the line

Environment Canada has "muzzled" its scientists, ordering them to refer all media queries to Ottawa where communications officers will help them respond with "approved lines."

The new policy, which went into force in recent weeks and sent a chill through the department research divisions, is designed to control the department's media message and ensure there are no "surprises" for Environment Minister John Baird and senior management when they open the newspaper or turn on the television, according to documents obtained by Canwest News Service.


Because the worst thing that could happen concerning the environment is that it might surprise John Baird. I understand that next week they're canceling weather. What was I saying recently about being governed by clowns?

As Mandos at Politblogo points out, who does this remind you of?

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John Edwards bows out.

We all know why the sainted Kucinich, Dodd, and Gravel (rilly -- I love them all) never had a chance, just as most of us never have much of a chance.

Of the front-runners in the race to the Democratic nomination, though, Edwards was the only one who stepped past the trendy media fixations and spoke to the forbidden topic in North America -- class. He called it "poverty," because North Americans are always embarrassed to talk about class. But he was speaking to justice and injustice, the injustice that underlies racism and sexism, the deepest injustice of all, and he was right.

May he go on speaking, just as he did today, in the 9th ward in New Orleans:



Thanks to my friend Left Turn at Bread and Roses. I wrote earlier today, longing for a good vid of Edwards' wonderful speech, and Left Turn delivered..

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January 29, 2008

Bill C-3 is legislation the Conservative government is proposing to "fix" the security certificate process after the Supreme Court ruled that the existing process was a violation of the Charter of Rights. One of the remedies for the fact that previously both the suspect and the defence could be prohibited from viewing evidence was supposed to be the appointment of "special advocates" to represent the accused. These would be lawyers who would have the necessary clearance to see evidence that would otherwise be off-limits for — all together now — reasons of national security.

The government must have assumed their new legislation was going to pass because they've already begun recruiting lawyers to fill the special advocate role.

The federal government is having trouble recruiting an experienced pool of lawyers to work as "special advocates" on behalf of terror suspects under Canada's security certificate law.

So far, only 50 have responded to a month-long national recruitment campaign by the Justice Department aimed at finding a list of experienced practitioners who can defend people facing deportation in secret judicial hearings.


The article reports that 50 may be enough but it also points out that there are 57,000 practicing lawyers in Canada so 50 isn't exactly an overwhelming turnout. And why, you may ask, would that be?
"Given the nature of what it is lawyers are being asked to do, it doesn't surprise me that there hasn't been an overwhelming response," says Lorne Waldman, a Toronto lawyer who represented Maher Arar, who was wrongly accused as a terrorist .

Mr. Waldman says many lawyers are deeply conflicted about participating in the controversial system.

On the one hand, they feel a duty to ensure that people have the best legal defence possible. On the other hand, they consider the law an affront to civil liberties and don't want to lend it legitimacy by taking part.

Some, he says, are worried about being labelled as traitors by colleagues if they participate in the system.

The Canadian Bar Association and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada have criticized the proposed security certificate law as unconstitutional.


Gives you a warm fuzzy feeling, doesn't it? Think this will cause Steve of the Steely Resolve to rethink things? Not on your life.

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Understatement of the day

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Harper seeks Dion's support on Afghanistan:

... there appears to be a major sticking point around the classification of the Canadian commitment as a combat mission, meaning that soldiers conduct offensive operations.

Manley's report said it is impossible to make the distinction between a mission focused on training the Afghan National Army and a combat mission because training takes place on the frontlines. The Conservative government agrees with that, but the Liberals do not.

"We don't want a combat mission after February 2009," Dion said.

Whether that gulf is bridged and becomes purely semantic, or whether it ultimately tanks negotiations between Harper and Dion, remains to be seen, but the Liberal leader said he would take up Harper's offer to have talks.

The government believes there is a difference between Dion's position and that of deputy leader Michael Ignatieff and foreign affairs critic Bob Rae. In public comments, the latter appear to have left room for reconciliation with the government's direction on the mission.

No kidding.

That the government are plotting to exploit the curious presence of hawks at the highest levels of the Liberal caucus -- that we need to know.

But we also need to think about the curiosities themselves. The most likely heirs-apparent in the Liberal Party of Canada are two guys who don't sound so different from Dick Cheney when they talk about Iran, so why should they even attempt to sound intelligent about Afghanistan?

Things are bad, but with Rae or Ignatieff, things could get worse.

I recognize that this is a small gesture, but would anyone as horrified as I am by the choice between Harper and Rae/Ignatieff remember, on 9 February, to go to this place (click on button below) and seek out the category called "Most Regressive Progressive"? You know what you have to do.

While you're there today, btw, you could nominate some of the good grils and guys as well. We at the POGGE Institute don't qualify, but we are friends and supporters of these awards. And we are inspired to watch the nominations flooding in. Did you know there were that many brave mouthy chicks in this country? It does my heart good just to look at the lists of nominees.

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Deja vu all over again?

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Impolitical picked up on this story which has Health Minister Tony Clement as an unwelcome guest at a Natural Resources Committee meeting.

The commmittee will be hearing from Linda Keen the former head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commision who was fired the night before she was to appear before a special hearing of the committee two weeks ago.
...
But now Health Minister Tony Clement is scheduled to testify right after Linda Keen.

Opposition party members have written letters objecting to his appearance.

They say it's a ploy by the government to get in the last word in the ongoing dispute with Linda Keen over who was to blame for the isotope shortage crisis.


But if Clement does appear, I suspect there will be lots to talk about.
Opposition parties are accusing the Harper government of manufacturing last month's medical isotope crisis.

The parties levelled the accusation Monday based on a report that the government did not speak to alternative European suppliers of isotopes until Dec. 10 - 19 days after the research reactor at Chalk River, Ont., was shut down.

Even then, according to a Montreal newspaper, the government advised officials at three European reactors that they didn't need to increase their isotope production because the shutdown at Chalk River would be remedied shortly.


So Lunn and Harper continue to accuse Keen of endangering lives, but the government's message to other isotope manufacturers was "Don't worry, we've got it under control."

Predictably:

Health Minister Tony Clement insists the report is "completely untrue."

Right. The last time the government insisted that something reported in a Montreal newspaper was completely untrue, it involved allegations of abuse of Afghan prisoners. We know how that turned out.

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January 28, 2008

Thank you Henry Morgentaler, Justice Dickson, Justice Wilson, three juriesful of Canadians of surpassing good common sense, and all the committed activists, including some law-talkin' persons, who got us to R. v. Morgentaler this day in 1988. Twenty years ago today (and with a slight refinement in a case heard the following year), Canada became the only country in the Western world to have no abortion law at all. In theory, in principle, and strictly speaking.

I have been very moved to watch the tributes to Dr Morgentaler and the Court scrolling past me today, the justly famous lines from Justice Dickson's strong endorsement of women's autonomy as a Charter right (from which I take my title) and Justice Wilson's passionate if civil defiance of those who would objectify a woman's life by grading her on gestational potential.

I was forty-two years old when the Supreme Court of Canada declared that no one -- as in no one, including panels of condescending doctors or psychiatrists -- needed to oversee or second-guess the understanding and will of any woman about what would be best for her own body, her own life, and often, most probably, the lives of many close to her. The Morgentaler decision affirmed women's full humanity, that women can be trusted to think for themselves and others, and if that is still contested in some quarters, that is what is being contested.

I have been chewing over a very thoughtful post of Dr Dawg's this morning (besides crying intermittently over so many stories that I remember today), so I will continue to chew on that a little more on the turn.


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January 27, 2008

An unusual situation

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One of the arguments of those who oppose the use of security certificates to imprison and deport terrorism suspects is that the accused, and even the lawyers defending him, are often kept in the dark about the evidence supporting the individual's imprisonment. Apparently the real reason for that is that the intelligence agencies can't always find it.

The sudden appearance of a damning CSIS report that paints alleged terrorist Adil Charkaoui as a jihadist insider is feeding claims by Charkaoui and his supporters of a smear campaign, while also raising questions about security at Canada's spy service.

CSIS' assistant director of intelligence admitted earlier this month to a federal court judge that the service had recently "discovered" a report of an April 2001 interview with Charkaoui.

The interview did not form part of the evidence used by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to detain Charkaoui under a security certificate in 2003, even though it deals with his purported extensive knowledge of Islamic-extremist circles in Montreal.


It's interesting that this "discovery" is occurring now, isn't it?
The interview resurfaces just ahead of Charkaoui's scheduled appearance this Thursday before the Supreme Court of Canada, where he will argue he was denied fundamental justice because CSIS destroyed notes and tapes of its interviews with him.

Timing is everything.

Obviously I have no idea if this interview is legitimate or not. But it's difficult to credit the idea that Charkaoui is a serious threat to national security, and that the security certificate process is a credible way to deal with such threats, when some evidence from the investigation was destroyed but damning evidence is allowed to get lost in the system for nearly seven years and suddenly surfaces days before a Supreme Court hearing. After everything else we've seen from CSIS and the RCMP there's just a bit of a credibility gap here. Or as one intelligence official said, exhibiting the typical (non-blogging) Canadian gift for understatement:

The timing, along with the ambiguous explanation given by CSIS, has even struck members of the intelligence community as odd.

"It's got some disappointing features," said David Harris, a former chief of strategic planning at CSIS, of the interview's sudden reappearance. "I would suggest it is an unusual situation."


Quite.

Can we do the Maher Arar inquiry over? I don't think the right people got the point.

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January 26, 2008

Scott and JimBobby think it's time we had one of those election thingies. Remember those?

In fact one of Scott's commenters said something about the animosity Scott feels for Stephen Harper and he said it like it was a bad thing. I beg to differ. Given the recent record of this government I think a certain amount of animosity is a healthy reaction from anyone who opposes the corruption of democracy. As Digby is fond of pointing out regarding Republicans, you can't expect good government from those who think government is the problem. And it seems increasingly obvious that the Harperettes intend to weaken the Canadian government as much as possible. I think there's more and more of that animosity going around and we may be approaching one of those "lead, follow or get the hell out of the way" moments.

In honour of Scott and JimBobby, (who, incidentally, support political parties I wouldn't be likely to vote for this time around), remember Thunderclap Newman?



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January 25, 2008

The tune is Mercury Blues and this first version by Johnny Hiland is more or less what I'm used to. (Well, not exactly. What I'm used to is David Lindley who isn't quite like anyone else. But I digress.)

The second version is by British slide guitarist Johnny Dickinson and it's a slightly different interpretation.


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Tae the immortal mem'ry!

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Slàinte mhath!

(Pronounce that something close to "slan-je-var." The Celts are perverse that way -- never use one consonant when half a dozen are available.)

It's Burns Night once again, and I'm hoping y'all have your fresh-caught haggis and a wee dram or two of the finest single malt to hand.

Och aye, and it's true that the Scots, maybe especially the diaspora Scots (of whom there are, sadly, more than there are Scots left in the Highlands since the Clearances), can get a wee bit sentimental about Robbie Burns, but then again, why not? An eighteenth-century balladeer and lover whose poems and songs burn with belief in the brotherhood of all mankind, the sweetness of all nature and lowly critturs (even the wee mousies), and in the magic blessed presence of women -- what's not to like?

I was hoping to bring you the Corries singing "A Man's a Man (for a' that)," the finest version I know of Burns's greatest anthem, but YouTube is not being helpful. Here are the lads singing Robbie's saddest love song, "Ae Fond Kiss." I don't quite know why they decided to play pure instrumental through the one stanza that sums up all lost love:

Had we never loved sae kindly
Had we never loved sae blindly
Never kissed and never parted
We had ne'er been broken-hearted.

But it's a wonderful performance anyway, so here they are:


Debra introduced me today to Eddi Reader, who knows how to find the soul in "My Love Is Like a Red Red Rose":


And I can't leave without "A Man's a Man." I can't. If you don't know the words, I print them on the turn. It moves me to hear a young Scottish rocker sing this song with the raw passion Paolo Nutini does here:


Lyrics on the turn.



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This is a fairly new thought to me, as I'm guessing it will be to many liberal-minded hand-wringers in the West, but Hamas appear to have figured out how to turn the tables on all the other major players in the Middle East and, not incidentally, how to care for their own people at the same time.

On Wednesday, in what appears to have been a well-organized campaign, Hamas blew up and bulldozed through sections of the wall that had divided the Egyptian and Gazan sides of the town of Rafah. Thousands of Gazans streamed through in search of basic commodities, having survived a low-level seige by Israel for almost two years plus the immediate provocation, a major shutdown of power and fuel over the previous four days. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak finally accepted that he could not use his security forces to stop the surge into the Sinai, and that's where we are now.

In my short-sighted and pessimistic Western despair, I had never imagined Gaza as anything more than a prison-camp, permanently cut off from the West Bank and with its own coastline patrolled by Israeli naval guards. But in Gaza, it appears, they have been thinking creatively, as we should have known people in such desperate circs would do.

We can't know this soon what might happen now, but the vision of Gaza-Sinai, which makes so much sense geographically and economically, especially in the absence of any sense coming from any other direction, lifts my heart, as it must many hearts throughout the Middle East. Mubarak may not want this any more than Olmert or Abbas or BushCo do, but Mubarak has other realities to answer to.

Think of it: ports for Gaza, two ports, al-Arish and Port Said. Well. We'll see. For wonderful background, see Jonathan Edelstein at Helena Cobban's Just World News and Joel Beinin at Juan Cole's Informed Comment. From Edelstein's report:

As for Bob Spencer's speculation that Gaza might "become some sort of loosely associated part of Egypt," I wonder if it might end up more the other way. I did some speculating of my own about the Gaza-Sinai relationship in late 2005, at the time the Rafah crossing reopened and before the rocket-closure-raid cycle started developing its own logic. The key points were that Gaza has six times the population of North Sinai governorate, that there was more money in Gaza than in that part of Egypt, that Egyptian security control in that region was tenuous and that the ports of al-Arish and Port Said had the potential to become a key Palestinian import-export route. All these, except possibly the second, remain true, and given that it will be a political impossibility for Mubarak to re-close the border (although he has built walls against his own Bedouin citizens), Sinai al-Shamaliyya might end up becoming a de facto Palestinian economic appendage. Interesting times.

We can hope. And we can be glad that children are eating tonight, warm tonight, safe in the arms of family with some hope tonight.

H/t Marcy at emptywheel.

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After the previous post, I couldn't pass on this story.

Australia issues Canadian travel warning
Australians taking the advice of their government's "Smart Traveller" web site will likely be steering clear of Canada....

Apparently our problems stem from the threat of terrorism, heavy snow, ice and forest fires that can erupt "at any time."

Obviously not to be confused with the dangers caused by runaway kangaroos and Australian civil servants' excessive consumption of Fosters while on the job.

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Wingnut Welfare

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Proving once again that you can never be too stupid, too incompetent or too corrupt to work for the Bush regime, CBS reports that neocon wet dream Paul Wolfowitz has, once again managed to find room at the public trough.

Wolfowitz Gets New Job At State Department
White House Insider Forced From World Bank Gig Will Now Head Powerful Arms Control Panel

Former World Bank chief Paul Wolfowitz will head a high-level advisory panel on arms control and disarmament, the State Department said Thursday.

The move by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice marks a return to government for Wolfowitz, a conservative with close ties to the White House. As deputy defense secretary under President Bush, he was a major architect of the Iraq war.

Is there no one out there with with a wooden stake or a silver bullet or whatever it takes to rid us of this loathsome creature who keeps rising from the dead?

BTW - When using Moveable Type's spell checker, one of the options it offers for "Wolfowitz" is "Halfwits". It may not work as a substitution for" Wolfowitz" but it sure as hell works as a substitution for "Rice" and "Bush".

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Let's accept that when Sandra Buckler says the government was completely unaware of the change in the way the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan are handling prisoners, she's being absolutely honest.

That would mean that allegations of abuse which military officials took seriously enough to investigate and act on were completely ignored by their civilian masters, who continued to take cheap, partisan shots at the opposition even while the military made the change that the opposition requested. That would mean that the opportunity to take cheap partisan shots is actually more important to the government than the reality is. And it obviously means that the troops are more concerned about the Taleban than they are about our own ... um, okay it gets a bit weird here.

And it would mean that the government has actually instructed the military not to keep them informed about what's going on in Afghanistan even when it involves the most controversial aspect of the mission. That would suggest a government that is content to be willfully ignorant and therefore willfully incompetent.

Works for me. By all means, let's take Sandra Buckler at her word.

Hat-tip to Greg.

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January 24, 2008

For your consideration

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As Canadian bloggers continue to ponder the Manley report and how it may signify in future Canadian policy regarding the NATO mission in Afghanistan, I would suggest you pay attention to this: Pentagon Weighs Top Iraq General as NATO Chief

The Pentagon is considering Gen. David H. Petraeus for the top NATO command later this year, a move that would give the general, the top American commander in Iraq, a high-level post during the next administration but that has raised concerns about the practice of rotating war commanders.

I've seen subsequent stories that deny this possibility but I don't think that means anything.

I haven't read the Manley report yet though I intend to. But I've long felt that the whole process has been designed to lead to a decision to keep NATO troops in Afghanistan just as Bush's intention has always been to keep American troops in Iraq. The idea that serious consideration is being given to moving A Man Called Petraeus (© Digby, I believe) into the top spot at NATO only reinforces that opinion.

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January 23, 2008

I guess the secrecy is addictive

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Canada quietly halted Afghan detainee transfers

The Canadian government halted the transfer of Afghan detainees last November after a "credible allegation" that a prisoner had been tortured by local authorities, but didn't reveal the decision until this week.

Officials acted after a prisoner told Canadian diplomats he had allegedly been beaten with electrical cables and a rubber hose by Afghan secret police in Kandahar.


The incident referred to is one of the ones documented in the material that formed the basis for this story.

Apparently the only reason we're now being told that the transfer of detainees to Afghan authorities was halted over two months ago is because the government is being sued. Maybe Harper thought it would look like weakness to show that his initial reponse was wrong, rather than looking like he was prepared to confront evidence that he was wrong and act on it. Or maybe I've got it right in the title.

The story doesn't tell us what's currently happening with any Afghans that our forces detain, but it sounds like at least some progress has been made. Now let's see if the information starts to flow a little more readily.

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January 22, 2008

Time for ZNet to grow or die

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This may not seem like real news to many, but I read their stuff frequently and not only do the ZNet people publish a lot of interesting articles, they do quite a bit more. They publish books, they theorize, they run classes on activism-related skills. They are serious activists and thoughtful radicals. I have a good deal of respect for them. I’ve also noticed that it’s not uncommon for them to have an article about Canada, something you don’t find in that many US sites.

So, they’ve apparently been working on a major overhaul of their website, not just to look better but to add a lot of functionality and, as I understand it, also switch to open source software. It took, as all such things seem to, longer than expected. While they stagnated with the old version and paid for the new, they apparently have been facing financial troubles and may well go under if they don’t start generating some cash with the new updated version. But the new version is ready now, time to see whether they grow or die. So I thought I’d bring them to people’s attention. Consider having a look at their pitch on the old site, and their snazzy setup on the new.

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Collective punishment is a war crime.

Collective punishment is a war crime.

Collective punishment is a war crime.

Collective punishment is a war crime.

Collective punishment is a war crime.

And besides, it does not work.

Not that they grasp that at the Globe and Mail:

... there is a simple way to end the misery. If life in Gaza is to return to normal - at least what passes for normal in the terrorist statelet - all Hamas needs to do is call off its dogs and end its attacks. As Ms. Livni said, this would change the situation in Gaza "in a minute."

Shorter G&M: Go to your room. No supper for you tonight. Also no oxygen, no medicine, no water ...

Collective punishment is a war crime.

Feel free to join in. Maxime Bernier? Mr Harper? Mr Rae?

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And speaking of torture

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Documents detailing alleged Afghan torture released

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association is releasing documents it says were sent to federal government officials detailing reports of torture against Afghan detainees.

The heavily censored documents describe interviews with several detainees who claimed they had been "whipped with cables, shocked with electricity and/or otherwise hurt'' after they were transferred from the Canadian military into Afghan custody in Kandahar.
...
The association said the documents are an exchange between diplomatic and Department of Foreign Affairs personnel who visited facilities in Afghanistan.
...
All the detainees interviewed complained about "lack of clarity in their cases. They said they did not know why they are being held, nor did any seem to have been charged.''

One claimed he'd been knocked unconscious during an interrogation and beaten "with electrical wires and rubber hose.''

The documents says that when the man indicated the spot where the alleged assault took place, the interviewer "found a large piece of braided electrical wire as well as a rubber hose. He then showed us a bruise (approx. 4 inches long) on his back that could possibly be the result of a blow.''
...
Representatives with the Department of Foreign Affairs could not be reached for comment.


Emphasis added. I'm taking that to mean not just that the detainees themselves pleaded innocence but that further investigation by whoever prepared the original documents failed to find any evidence that these detainees were ever charged. So these aren't necessarily bona fide "enemy combatants" we're talking about even if you recognize that designation. They could be individuals who got picked up in a sweep or even turned in by paid informants (as we know that some of those held at Gitmo were effectively sold into detention by paid informants). Since the government and the military are telling us as little as possible, we're left to speculate.

There sure seems to be a lot of documentation about what the government has consistently referred to as "baseless allegations."

Maybe that DFAIT training manual should have included Canada on that list of countries that torture. Can you say "outrage fatigue?"

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January 21, 2008

WTF?

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While Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier is expressing his embarrassment that a DFAIT training manual might actually recognize the current reality, the Liberal foreign affairs critic has this reaction:

Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae was not surprised to hear that the document was being revised.

"It's incomprehensible to me that a document would establish an equivalency between the United States and Iran on the subject of the treatment of prisoners," said Rae.

"It's too hard to understand how it (the document) could have gotten this far," said Rae.

"There's a real issue now around the competency of the Conservative government on foreign affairs issues."


Got that? Bob Rae, the Liberal foreign affairs critic, joins the Conservatives in thinking that it's only torture if certain people do it. The only criticism he has of the Conservatives is that they were incompetent in not proactively censoring DFAIT training materials to avoid embarrassing our "allies."

I trust all those who have tried to convince us that we must all rally around the Liberals as the only viable alternative to the Conservatives are paying attention here. 'Cos this is really pukeworthy.

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January 19, 2008

Keep the change

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Me, I hate the change. Loonies and doubloonies I can cope with -- those are worth saving. The boy and I once saved up enough in loonies and doubloonies over a two-year period to fly to France. And in a pinch, that stash of doubloonies will get you a pizza delivered on a cold and lonely winter's night.

But the pennies and the nickels and the dimes! Nowadays, even the quarters. Who can cope? When my wallet gets too heavy, I just dump them all into the change basket, which is growing ridiculously heavy at the moment. Anyone with a strong and willing teenager is welcome to send her/him over to my place to cart away the change basket to the nearest supermarket machine bandit.

Some cute and not-so-cute American presidential candidates, ringing the changes on change:

Thanks to sparqui at Bread and Roses, who obviously spends 'way too much time playing YouTube. ;-)


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Speaking of being embarrassed

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Torture watchlist 'wrongly' names Canadian allies: Bernier

Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier has issued a statement in an effort to pacify allies angry over a training manual for Canadian diplomats that lists the U.S. and Israel as countries where prisoners risk torture and abuse.

Bernier said the manual "contains a list that wrongly includes some of our closest allies."

"I regret the embarrassment caused by the public disclosure of the manual used in the department's torture awareness training," he said in a statement released Saturday.


Personally I was embarrassed when a lawyer for the federal government testified before the Iacobucci inquiry recently and made it clear that the Canadian government is quite happy to accept information that is the result of torture as long it isn't Canadians who are actually getting their hands dirty. And I don't recall seeing you or any other cabinet minister in the news walking that one back. So not only has our government sat on its hands and looked the other way while Canadians are abused by our ally, that same government is prepared to make us complicit in torture.

Any lesson we may have learned from the O'Connor inquiry into the Maher Arar case is now moot and I'm embarrassed by that. And in case it's not obvious, M. Bernier, I'm embarrassed by you and by the government you represent.

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Two long years: In Memory

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Two long years later, he’s still gone. I guess that’s the way things work. Sometimes I wonder why I never got very good at adjusting to the ways things work, but I didn’t. I suspect I’m not alone, at least when it comes to losing people we love.

This is one of the auld songs we used to roar along with and stomp our feet to. The chorus is very true of him:

Sae rantin’ly, sae wantonly,
And sae dauntin’ly gaed he,
He played a tune, and he danced a-roon’
Below the gallows tree.

The Corries, “Macpherson’s Rant”


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Sorry we're late folks. We were having database problems earlier this evening but someone seems to have fixed us up.

I can't exactly call this a cover of Five Long Years since Eddie Boyd wrote the song.

And having found that, I went looking to see who had covered it. Found this version by Clapton and didn't look any further. He's in full flight on this one.


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January 18, 2008

The American ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins, has reacted to the news that an "internal Foreign Affairs document" included his country on a list of those suspected of torturing detainees. Mr. Wilkins is less than impressed.

When asked about the list, U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins was indignant. "We ought to be removed ... I just think it's absurd ... and quite offensive."

Personally I think the prison at Guantanamo Bay is quite offensive. I think what happened to Iraqis at the hands of American military officers at Abu Ghraib was quite offensive. I think establishing a series of secret prisons so you could question detainees without having to put up with visits from those silly Red Cross people was quite offensive. As for why our diplomatic service might feel the need to prepare a document like this, I think what happened to Maher Arar was quite offensive and I think the fact that a 15 year old boy was detained and has been held without due process for 5 years is quite offensive.

But I've cleared off the couch in the corner in case you feel faint. And if you'd like to go back home once you've recovered from this nasty shock, I understand perfectly. Have a safe trip.

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January 16, 2008

The empire strikes back

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By now you may have heard that our government has relieved Linda Keen of her position as president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Count me among those who feel that it was done late last night precisely because an emergency parliamentary committee which met yesterday decided to have both Keen and Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn testify today. There's nothing like throwing the star witness against you off balance.

The government's position is bolstered by documents prepared by the AECL's lawyers which dispute the CNSC version of events. There would be a lot of ground to cover to deal with all the details but for the moment there's one thing in particular that caught my eye:

The pumps' power supply upgrade was agreed to by AECL in 2005, during the commission's licence-renewal process for the 50-year-old reactor. AECL believed then, and still does, that the upgrade was needed, but that it was not a strict condition of its operating licence.

The CNSC apparently does think it was a strict condition of the operating licence but you would think that difference would be easy enough to sort out. But read that again. The AECL is running an aging nuclear facility that's located on a fault line, and one that only continues to be in service because the same corporation is eight years behind schedule in getting two planned replacement reactors up and running. They agreed in 2005 that an upgrade was "needed" but two years later still hadn't taken care of it. And they're hiding behind the fact that it wasn't a "strict condition" of their operating licence? No matter how this turns out, I'm inclined to think that Linda Keen has never been our biggest problem here.

Update:

If you're a complete fanatic, Kady O'Malley at Macleans is liveblogging the committee hearing. Her preamble of this morning is here and episode 1 is here.

Downer update:

After indicating early this morning that she would still testify before the committee, Keen subsequently begged off. As suggested in comments here, a couple of us are speculating that it's on the advice of her lawyer. Meanwhile Lunn testified that he's the most wonderfullest cabinet minister ever and a real humanitarian, said he fired Keen for a lack of leadership without saying specifically what that means in this context and then smarmed away. (Can I use smarm as a verb?) The committee has now voted to do nothing further until Jan. 29th.

So Lunn probably keeps his job for at least another couple of weeks.

Bummer.

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January 15, 2008

Send in the clowns

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I hope the opposition parties remember that campaign slogan I suggested recently: it's the stupid, stupid.

In recent weeks we've seen Gary Lunn write an ill-advised letter to the president of the CNSC which has taken an issue that was sinking into obscurity and put it front and center all over again. Now the public knows much more about Lunn's inappropriate behaviour, the opposition has called for his resignation and the parliamentary committee hearings began today. And since Lunn is cowering somewhere out of sight, we're being treated to the sight of nuclear physicist and renowned seismologist Jason Kenney defending the government by chanting the same phrases to whoever will listen.

Meanwhile Helena Guergis, in an attempt to score some cheap, partisan points on the leader and deputy leader of the official opposition while they were in Afghanistan, revealed their itinerary. That kind of thing is generally considered a no-no, don't you know. When you're at war it's considered bad form to reveal the movements of the folks on your side when they're in enemy territory. Even if they're not members of your political party.


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The Damned Human Race

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We look around the world today and see everything from religious wars to President Smirky McStumbletongue's efforts to fabricate an excuse for a war with Iran - not to mention the more common litany of starvation and injustice. It's often hard to write about these events without slipping into either anger or dispair. In fact, it's hard not to. Fortunately there is one writer who dealt with many of the same issues and managed to lay open the ugliness of events (and people) with an acid wit that that avoided, for the most part, either of those fates.


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QOTD: On media bias

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From Atrios:

One thing our side does too much is assume that the people who run the New York Times are probably actually somewhat liberal at heart but that they're bending over backwards to pretend otherwise. They're defenders of the establishment as they see it, and given that they're nepotism beneficiaries you can imagine how they see it. Not quite conservative in a Bill Kristol kind of way, but hardly liberal.

Emphasis added. I've often found myself nodding my head in agreement when I read Digby's rants about the way the Mighty Wurlitzer has worked the refs and made "liberal" a dirty word south of the 49th. But I grabbed this quote because the issue of media bias has bubbled to the surface in the Canadian blogosphere of late and this is a reminder that dividing all the media outlets into two piles — left and right — is a mug's game. One obvious example that comes to mind is the Toronto Star which is blatantly further to the left than the Globe and Mail or the National Post yet, editorially at least, manages to be fairly consistently supportive of big 'L' Liberals and sometimes pretty silly when it comes to the NDP.

Of course the reason the issue has surfaced lately is the accusation from the right that the CBC has been guilty of hanky panky. It's no secret that the Stephen Taylors and the Aspers would like our national broadcaster to disappear but their recent criticisms, even if they were strong ones which they aren't, don't necessarily argue for that. Criticizing the CBC's methods isn't the same thing as criticizing the CBC's existence and the reason for every perceived problem in the media isn't necessarily simple bias.

Recently I took Greg Weston of the Toronto Sun to task but subsequently suggested in comments that what I considered to be his error wasn't necessarily the result of trying to carry water for anyone in particular. In comments, Dave (that one) suggested that it might be as simple as sloppiness committed out of haste to fill a quota of column inches. Quite possible.

This subject isn't going to go away. Sooner or later we'll be into another federal election campaign and given the way Stephen Harper has conducted business in relation to the media, you know this subject is going to come up. We might as well review the basics and prepare for a fresh round of screeching about the "liberal media."

Almost immediate update:

As long as we're on the subject of the media, Declan put up a post yesterday discussing an affliction which seems to be common among those who work in the media and especially the folks who write headlines: Big Number Syndrome. Well worth a read. Declan was previously responsible for what remains one of the choicest bits of media criticism I've seen in the blogosphere: Media Failure Two-Step.

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One nation under Ezra?

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I've been tempted to do a one sentence post to say that I won't write about Ezra Levant and you can't make me. Then BigCityLib pointed to this at Wise Law Blog. It's a wide ranging piece that includes an effective public spanking of Levant, some history and some analysis of the legal issues. So here's a slightly longer post from me to say: Go. Read.

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January 14, 2008

The women are getting uppity

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Heavens! Where did that come from? Boys, clutch your pearls!

Truth be told, I actually do know where this came from, but it's a long story and we try to think positively around here, right? This is all about celebrating the amazing surge of great writing from progressive Canadian women bloggers, who know in their bones that we all do better with a little help from our friends.

You might note that the POGGE Institute is not eligible for these awards. It's kind of hard to be a proper "foul-mouthed fem blog" when you've only got one fem and she's still taking Swearing 101 from Professor mahigan. You will have noticed, though, that the Boss is onside; the guys have volunteered to provide sandwiches and backrubs; and all the commenters are above average.

Please note: nominations do not open until 25 January. Don't worry: we'll remind you. Graciously, of course.

ETA: Much love and hugs and thanks to Prole and Pale at A Creative Revolution, who took this project on with such zest and cheer and generosity. Thanks, chicks.

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January 13, 2008

Sunday afternoon sermonette

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Women Deserve Better. Go watch.

Update:

And a hat-tip to Scott Lemieux for pointing to this Amanda Marcotte review of a review of the movie Juno. That link seems to fit here.

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January 12, 2008

Journamalism

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Greg Weston's column in yesterday's Toronto Sun quite rightly takes past Liberal governments to task for ignoring damning reports about AECL similar to the report that Gary Lunn seems to have ignored. All well and good. I have no problem with condemning Liberals for failing to do their jobs. But in the process, Weston makes it sound as though Gary Lunn should be off the hook because he's only done what his Liberal predecessors have done.

The Liberal leader is now demanding Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn be nuked from his job for not fixing what ails the government's nuclear power company, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL).

That's wrong and at this point it's not that complicated. Lunn's resignation is being demanded for a specific reason: inappropriate political interference with a regulatory agency — which Weston glosses over as "some bullying" — that is supposed to operate at arms-length and that may nominally be under Lunn's jurisdiction but ultimately answers to parliament, not to an individual minister. Saying "but, but, the Liberals!" doesn't begin to let Lunn off the hook for this, nor does it excuse the attempts by Lunn and his boss to publically smear the president of the CNSC.

There's certainly a larger story of government neglect that needs to be dealt with but that shouldn't obscure this very specific point.

Hat-tip to Paul Wells for the link.

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Saturday morning bonus track

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I stand accused of being subtle (see comments in the post below). I think I'm being credited with more subtlety than I actually possess.

But after reading around blogtopia (Skippy!) this morning, this post is to send a message. Personally I've always kind of liked women who speak their minds. And sometimes subtlety is over-rated. Sometimes a little blunt language helps shed light on an issue and sometimes if you don't crank up the volume, the other side will drown you out. That's part of their game.

And if that's not clear enough, I think Birth Pangs was brilliantly conceived and doesn't require defence. Just keep on truckin'. Er, sorry, that's a different tune.

I've posted this before but I like it enough to do it again and there's at least one of you who will take it as the encouragement it's meant to be. Wild Women.



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January 11, 2008

Friday night blues blogging

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I told Chet Scoville in comments to this post last night that the world needs more horns. So I thought it behooved me to present at least one. Here's a Bonnie Raitt clip that features Freebo on lead tuba. Give It Up Or Let Me Go

Bonnie Raitt made me think of Sippie Wallace which sent me sniffing around YouTube. Here's a cover of Women Be Wise by the Rent Money Blues Band.


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Greg noted it last Saturday:

Politics of cynicism. It has been two years and the Harperites have completely mastered the Friday afternoon news dump. Bravo.

Apparently Impolitical agrees. And would you look at that.

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January 10, 2008

It is not often that someone so smart also becomes someone so loved. She is so smart, and she is so lovable.

One RingyDingy


Ernestine gossips with Cher

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The Mound of Sound reacts to this by asking: Is Harper Nuts?

No. But he's a student of the Karl Rove school of politics which teaches that you never admit to an error and always turn the attack back on the other guy. Harper's own partisan comments in the House of Commons make it difficult for him to simply distance himself from his minister and have Lunn fall on his sword so pretending that Lunn is a hero and continuing to villify Keen is his response.

How long did this approach work for Dubya before it finally caught up with him? We have to hope that Canadians have been paying enough attention that they'll catch on a little more quickly. And that our media aren't the disaster that they are in the States which, thankfully, still appears to be the case.

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So American telephone companies appear to continue to believe that they are om-NI-po-tent.

I was going to call this Giggle of the Day, but really, I feel the FBI's pain too keenly. I'm sure we all do. Who has never been a little late in paying one of those bills? Who has never felt the wrath of Ernestine?

WASHINGTON [AP] — Telephone companies have cut off FBI wiretaps used to eavesdrop on suspected criminals because of the bureau's repeated failures to pay phone bills on time.

A Justice Department audit released Thursday blamed the lost connections on the FBI's lax oversight of money used in undercover investigations. Poor supervision of the program also allowed one agent to steal $25,000, the audit said.

In at least one case, a wiretap used in a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act investigation "was halted due to untimely payment," the audit found. FISA wiretaps are used in the government's most sensitive and secretive criminal investigations, and allow eavesdropping on suspected terrorists or spies.

"We also found that late payments have resulted in telecommunications carriers actually disconnecting phone lines established to deliver surveillance results to the FBI, resulting in lost evidence," according to the audit by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine.

More than half of 990 bills to pay for telecommunication surveillance in five unidentified FBI field offices were not paid on time, the report shows. In one office alone, unpaid costs for wiretaps from one phone company totaled $66,000.

The FBI did not have an immediate comment.

Seriously, I do feel their pain. Anyone who has followed the tortured adventures of the U.S. Department of Justice over the last couple of years knows that the people who do the real work of that department have been disgracefully mismanaged by the appointees of the Bush administration and are coping with severe demoralization. It is entirely believable to me that the same people in Washington who are so fixed on fighting for immunity for the telcos from prosecution for illegal wiretapping (as cover for immunity for this rogue administration) just never thought of the FBI's phone bills. Slipped their minds, it did. Never occurred to them.

But you know Ernestine. If she'll cut off Mr Veedle, she'll cut off the FBI, and apparently she has. More than once. A FISA wiretap, even. Holy smokes, Ernestine: don't you realize that your bosses are trying to get themselves out of hot water on that very score at this very moment? Did you not get the memo? Ever heard of Joseph Nacchio? Watch it, Ernestine.

Via bmaz in comments at emptywheel

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Dumb and dumber

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Earth shaking update below

If you're Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn and the opposition is calling for your resignation while even the National Post is comparing you to Homer Simpson, I would think the last person you would want opening his mouth to defend you is nuclear expert and renowned seismologist Jason Kenney.

"What was going on was a major international health crisis, because of essentially an argument between two agencies over paperwork," said Conservative MP Jason Kenney.

"The issue was not really substantially about safety, it was about licensing, about one part in a back-up system that would only be relevant in a once-in-50,000-years seismic event."


Right. 'Cos all those laws and regulations surrounding the operation of nuclear facilities are there to make work for Liberal patronage appointments. It's not like a nuclear accident could actually, you know, kill anyone or anything. It's not as though Lunn was in a postion to know months before this crisis that there were safety issues involving this particular reactor. And it's not as if this particular facility is quite old as these kinds of operations go and happens to be on a fault line. Oh, wait.

And most of all, it's not like this whole affair isn't going to get lots of attention which provides lots of opportunity for people to find out that Kenney is mischaracterizing the situation.

Someone ought to explain to him that 1) AECL volunteered to keep the reactor down past the normal maintenance period because they knew they were in violation of their licence and 2) AECL changed their minds twice about how they were going to proceed which is a big part of the reason for the delay in bringing the reactor back online and the reason that licence hearing — you know, the one that's required by law — hadn't happened by the time Gary Lunn and Tony Clement (let's not forget him, either) woke up and realized that shit was about to fly. It's all in the documents that Linda Keen made available to the public.

On second thought, don't explain anything to Jason Kenney. Let him keep helping. That ought to be just what Gary Lunn needs.

I may have a new campaign slogan for one of the opposition parties for the next federal election: it's the stupid, stupid.

Update:

The safety precautions in question — the ones that Jason Kenney figures we can ignore — are meant to protect this nuclear facility in the event of a seismic event with a magnitude of 6.0 or greater. Thanks to JimBobby for reporting in comments that there was a 6.2 magnitude earthquake with its epicentre in Timiskaming, Quebec as recently as 1935. Close enough for jazz, I'd say. I wonder if that's close enough for Jason Kenney.

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January 9, 2008

Right on cue

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Opposition target Lunn over nuclear isotope fallout

Critics of the Conservative government are calling for the resignation of Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn over what they call his interference with an arm's-length nuclear regulator.

"He should be fired, very clearly,'' Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said Wednesday.


Later in the story it's reported that Elizabeth May is getting in on this, too. If Layton hasn't said the same thing yet, I imagine he'll be along shortly now that the ice has been broken.

Lunn clearly tried to pressure a regulatory body into acting improperly. He clearly tried to predetermine the outcome of a hearing to amend the licence of the Chalk River reactor. And those actions are clearly an improper way for a cabinet minister to deal with an arms-length regulatory body. He should resign.

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What are the prospects?

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So a comment a few days ago got me to thinking. It said as how these days we have these blogs and suchlike internet stuff, but the mainstream media is a lost cause, and that basically we're using the internet as a substitute for actual action—the big rallies and social movements are gone.

Well, facing facts a little—yeah, the big rallies and social movements of the sixties and early seventies are toast. The labour movement is fighting desperate rearguard actions. Lots of people are unhappy, but mostly they don't know why because nobody tells them. Everyone thinks they're the only one, that something must be wrong with them because the media tells them everything's so good. A couple of years ago I thought that with Bush's massive failures, the US and Canada must be finished drifting to the right and be ready to get shifted a bit back towards the centre, at least. But I see no signs of anything like that happening so far.


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January 8, 2008

Popcorn may be in order

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As a result of the publication of the letter from Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn referenced in the post below this one, the president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has now made her 8 page reply and accompanying documentation available (pdf format) for our edification.. It doesn't appear that Ms. Keen is going to give up without a fight. Unfortunately the file is one of those pdf documents that has the selection tool disabled so I'm not going to quote from it extensively. But here's a taste:

The manner in which you have sought to approach these issues, absent or in advance of any formal inquiry, highlights a significant misunderstanding of the relationship between yourself, as Minister of Natural Resources, and the CNSC.

Which would be the bureaucratic equivalent of: who the hell do you think you're talking to in that tone of voice?

Keen goes on to remind Lunn that she heads an independent agency and is more than well qualified to determine exactly what "independence" entails in this context. I think Lunn is way out of his depth. I noted below that I thought it was embarrassment that, at least in part, motivated the hard line Lunn was taking in his letter. I believe this could get far more embarrassing for him if he pursues it.

Works for me.

Oops update:
Almost forgot. While I was composing, skdadl popped into comments on the previous post with a link to a Canadian Press story in the Globe and Mail about Keen's letter. I tip my hat to skdadl, she tips her hat to ReWind.It and I believe we all tip our hats to Linda Keen. Long may she regulate.

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Defining "independent" down

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From the government of Canada's web page regarding the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission:

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is an independent federal government agency that regulates the use of nuclear energy and material to protect health, safety, security and the environment and to respect Canada’s international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Emphasis added.

From a National Post story which reports that the government is on the verge of firing the president of the CSNC:

In a letter obtained by the Ottawa Citizen, Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn accuses the president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission of refusing to heed a Dec. 10 ministerial "directive" from him and Health Minister Tony Clement to allow the restart of the isotope-producing nuclear reactor at Chalk River.

Because being independent means blind obedience to "directives" from Conservative cabinet ministers. Or something like that.

The key line in the story is probably this one:

That put the government in the embarrassing position...

This government can be an embarrassment to all Canadians. But you embarrass them at your peril.

Hat-tip to the Jurist.

Almost immediate update:
Adding that this is typical of Stephen Harper who famously said he wanted courts that would "defer" to parliament rather than act as an independent check on parliament's authority. These aren't your father's small government conservatives. They're authoritarians who demand obedience when they're in charge although they'll scream loudly enough when someone else is and they don't like the decisions being made.

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QOTD

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I know it's early but I'm going to go out on a limb and assume I won't find anything else that gives me that "Aha" feeling in quite the same way in the space of a single sentence. In response to the LA Times story about all those poor men suffering from post-abortion syndrome (or whatever), scott at World O' Crap writes:

I will happily accept that [men] have abortions if, whenever a woman dies in childbirth, the father is immediately executed.

I also enjoyed the suggestion for a "Take Your Flushed Fetus to Work Day.” Oh hell, go read.

Hat-tip to Thers at Eschaton, like they need my help.

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January 7, 2008

Impolitical is looking back at the Christmas day press conference that saw Defence Minister Peter MacKay accuse the Iranian government of supplying weapons to the Taleban in Afghanistan. After noting that prominent experts had already questioned that theory, he asks:

... how could Junior have missed this information and gone ahead with his allegations about Iran?

Simple. U.S. ambassador David Wilkins was on the plane with MacKay on the flight to Afghanistan and Petey simply repeated the last opinion he heard. That's what Harper has trained his cabinet ministers to do.

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Delays frustrate access to information requests

It's taking more than a year for some Canadians to obtain government documents because the federal Information Commissioner isn't demanding swift action from departments bogged down in increasingly lengthy reviews, critics say.

Several recent requests under the Access to Information Act have been returned to applicants with a notice that they require a 240-day extension - a delay three times the previous average, making information outdated and often useless when it is released.

Users of the system say Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has imposed so many layers of scrutiny that even the most benign material gets caught up in reviews for months, even years.

"The intent is to frustrate efforts ... and ultimately you're going to go away," said Michel Drapeau, a retired colonel and expert in access to information legislation.


So the game being played with access to information isn't limited to information about Afghanistan. I don't know much about the current Information Commissioner, Robert Marleau, other than to report that he was appointed by the current government. I do know that his predecessor, John Reid, was already less than impressed with the way previous governments managed access to information and that before his retirement, he had particularly harsh words to say concerning Harper's intentions on the subject.

Apparently things have only gotten worse since then. Can we get these people off the public payroll yet? They're certainly not working for us.

Hat-tip to Impolitical who included the first link in an interesting post about Afghanistan.

Almost immediate update:
Could we not legislate deadlines for reponse to access requests? Haven't they done so south of the border?

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January 6, 2008

She's baaaaack

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There's a former FBI translator named Sibel Edmonds who has made some pretty shocking allegations against the U.S. government and, for her trouble, is under a gag order. But the gag has slipped and she's been talking to the Times of London about, among other things, how Pakistan bribed corrupt U.S. officials to gain nuclear secrets. The Brad Blog has more. Hat-tip to Jim Henley.

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January 4, 2008

I could probably find half a dozen reasonable versions of Key to the Highway on YouTube and still leave a bunch on the table. But I'll settle for two. The first is Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee with an intro and assist from Pete Seeger.

Here's a somewhat more recent version from the Derek Trucks Band.


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Welcome back, Antonia!

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Cast your eyes down to the blogroll to the right, and you'll see that pogge has made a new and most welcome addition today: Broadsides (aka Return of the Zerb).

Antonia, we have missed you! When Azerbic (which really was) went quiet in the summer of 2006 and then closed down altogether just over a year ago, the Canadian 'sphere lost one of its sharpest and wittiest voices and one of its best netizens as well. Yes, we've been able to go on reading Antonia in the Toronto Star, but that's never the same, is it? Antonia is one of the few msm writers who acquired a blog and then actually took the trouble to pick up on the culture and to join in generously and creatively. She is returning to an enormous and well-earned fund of good will.

Even better, from my pov, Broadsides is roaring back with an explicitly feminist tilt:

... over the years, we have seen feminism reverberate, mutate, retreat and regenerate.

It has been denounced as ''femi-nazism'' by the right which is threatened by any change to the status quo, despite how Hitler sent women advocating for equal rights to the death camps. It has been derided as fem-botism by the women who welcome its benefits while refusing to acknowledge its raison d'etre, perhaps because they think feminism is unfeminine. It has been rejected as the f-word by the girls who fail to recognize that the battle is not against men, but against injustice and patriarchy. Maybe they just think boys will like them better if they're not "feminists?"

It's too obvious to some of us that something very strange happened over, oh, say, the last twenty years to the very word feminism, something that looks a lot like demonization. Irrational fear, y'know? Superstition, even.

More and more women are trying to understand how and why that happened and what we have to do now to counter the paranoia and get the unfinished struggle for women's equal human rights back on track. Antonia is right: the fight is far from over, and she promises to count the ways at Broadside:

I may love my strappy sandals, but I won't be tossing my combat boots.

Right on, and welcome back, chick!

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January 3, 2008

Paging Mr. Accountability

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I've said in this corner on more than one occasion that I expect law enforcement agencies to err on the side of intrusion on civil liberties in an effort to equip themselves to do their jobs. It's only human and it's our elected officials who should be providing the balance by ensuring that those agencies don't get everything they want.

The same is true of the military. Among other things, I expect military officials to err on the side of keeping secrets. Surely the Pentagon has taught us that even in a democracy, the military likes to keep the rest of us in the dark. But we should be able to count on our elected officials to ensure that the default position is to keep us informed as much as possible. That's one of the reasons why, in a democracy, the military is ultimately under civilian control.

Both the Jurist and Impolitical have picked up on this Globe and Mail report that details how a "specially created team of military officers" have inserted themselves into the access to information process where Canadian activities in Afghanistan are concerned. The default position is now that everything is a secret unless the military decides otherwise. We no longer have a right to know, it's a privilege granted to us at the military's discretion. The reason for this is the controversy surrounding the treatment of detainees that Canadian forces turn over to Afghan officials. And this perversion of the access to information process is now the reason — as if we needed another one — why everything that both Prime Minister Harper and Defence Minister MacKay have to say on the matter can legitimately be questioned.

Sorry, Steve, but "trust us" is not an option. If you're keeping secrets, or letting your military officials keep them for you, I'm going to assume there's a reason why.

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