Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Liberal brilliance

As I sit here at the University of Ottawa, having just graded a pile of term papers, finished a re-cap lecture on state criminality in the twentieth century, and look down the throat of term finals, I realize how friggin' brilliant the Liberals were when they set the date of their convention. It's all but impossible for an undergrad or grad students with courses to make it to Montreal this weekend. Exams begin next week. It's also pretty tough for faculty. Same holds true for the 68 million high school teachers who make up such a big chunk of rank-and-file Liberals. They have Christmas exams to deal with. And law students? Fergettit. My wife's one, and she's working 14-hour days on practice exams, moot court and the rest.
I wonder if this hurts or helps Iggy and Dion, both of whom try to appeal to the university crowd?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sensitivity trainging all 'round

Racial profiling would be unfair and ineffective if someone other than 19 Muslim men had been hijackers on Sept. 11. I doubt these guys weren't doing anything terribly evil or illegal, but I can see -- and they should see -- why people are a little antsy about Muslim men calling out to Allah and switching seats on a domestic U.S. flight, if the latter did, indeed happen.
On the other side of the coin, the men who attacked the WTC, the Pentagon and the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania looked, talked and dressed like ordinary American folks. I'd be more inclined to trust these imams, who made no secret of their piety and did nothing criminal or immoral. And there's a hole in the story: I doubt anyone could switch seats into first class. So if the seat switch turns out to be bullcrap, then we simply have six guys praying loudly in an airport, which is hardly a federal case.

How the imams terrorized an airliner
By Audrey Hudson
November 28, 2006

Muslim religious leaders removed from a Minneapolis flight last week exhibited behavior associated with a security probe by terrorists and were not merely engaged in prayers, according to witnesses, police reports and aviation security officials.
Witnesses said three of the imams were praying loudly in the concourse and repeatedly shouted "Allah" when passengers were called for boarding US Airways Flight 300 to Phoenix. "I was suspicious by the way they were praying very loud," the gate agent told the Minneapolis Police Department.
Passengers and flight attendants told law-enforcement officials the imams switched from their assigned seats to a pattern associated with the September 11 terrorist attacks and also found in probes of U.S. security since the attacks -- two in the front row first-class, two in the middle of the plane on the exit aisle and two in the rear of the cabin.
"That would alarm me," said a federal air marshal who asked to remain anonymous. "They now control all of the entry and exit routes to the plane."
A pilot from another airline said: "That behavior has been identified as a terrorist probe in the airline industry."
But the imams who were escorted off the flight in handcuffs say they were merely praying before the 6:30 p.m. flight on Nov. 20, and yesterday led a protest by prayer with other religious leaders at the airline's ticket counter at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, called removing the imams an act of Islamophobia and compared it to racism against blacks.
"It's a shame that as an African-American and a Muslim I have the double whammy of having to worry about driving while black and flying while Muslim," Mr. Bray said.
The protesters also called on Congress to pass legislation to outlaw passenger profiling.
Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas Democrat, said the September 11 terrorist attacks "cannot be permitted to be used to justify racial profiling, harassment and discrimination of Muslim and Arab Americans."
"Understandably, the imams felt profiled, humiliated, and discriminated against by their treatment," she said.

Don't ask

Metro cops have a hard enough time protecting innocent people in the gang-ridden immigrant communities in north and east Toronto. People are afraid to talk to police when they believe that doing so will result in them -- the witness or the victim -- being uprooted and shipped back to their country of origin. My suggestion: Metro Police keep its policy (asking, of course, of the status of anyone charged) and the Canadian Border Service gets the resources to do the job of finding and deporting all illegal immigrants. That may help make Toronto safer for everyone.

Toronto Star
The Toronto Police Service is being asked to review its groundbreaking "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prevents officers from asking the immigration status of people they encounter — unless it's necessary to their investigation.
The Canadian Border Services Agency fears the policy adopted last February will "significantly compromise public safety and security," says the agency's regional director general John Gillan.
Toronto, with its large immigrant population, is the only city in Canada to adopt such a policy.
It was intended to encourage victims — such as battered or abused women — or witnesses of crime, to come forward without fear of revealing their illegal status and possibly face deportation.
In a letter to Police Services Board chair Alok Mukherjee, Gillan said Toronto police play a vital role in the deportation of illegal residents because they are one of the primary sources of information for immigration investigations.
"The ability to remove inadmissible persons is vital to the integrity of Canada's immigration system and to those who come to this country lawfully," said Gillan.
He is to appear before the police board today.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Michael Chong gets it

Michael Chong holds the same position in the Harper government that Stephane Dion held in Chretien's. Obviously, Chong was not on side when Harper made the absolutely fatal -- to Canada and to hbis own legacy -- move of playing politics with the claim of Quebec nationalists that Quebecois -- whatever they may be defined as -- are a "nation". When he quit, Chong explained in clear reasons why he is leaving Cabinet. It was the honorable thing, the right thing, to do.

"(The Harper resolution) is nothing else but the recognition of ethnic nationalism, and that is something I cannot support. It cannot be interpreted as the recognition of a territorial nationalism, or it does not refer to the geographic entity, but to a group of people."

Friday, November 24, 2006

Not "funny ha ha"

Obviously this guy is one of the people who draws the excruciatingly unfunny comics carried in the Globe and Mail:

MIAMI — A gun-wielding cartoonist dressed in camouflage entered The Miami Herald’s building and demanded to speak with an editor today, prompting an evacuation of employees, police said.
No injuries were immediately reported, and police spokesman Delrish Moss said authorities believed the man was isolated on the newspaper’s sixth floor, which houses the Herald’s Spanish-language publication, El Nuevo Herald. Officers set up a perimeter around the downtown building.
The man came through the front door with what appeared to be a machine gun, Moss said.
It wasn’t clear whether employees from other floors were being evacuated, but about 60 people were gathered outside the building.
The Miami Herald reported on its Web site that the man walked into the sixth-floor newsroom, appeared agitated and demanded to see El Nuevo Herald Executive Editor Humberto Castello. About 12 to 15 employees inside the newsroom were present, employees said.

Today's question

If the Quebecois are a nation, does that change the result of the 1995 Referendum? After all, supposedly a majority of pur laine Quebecois voted in favour of the government's dubious question. And if the majority of the "nation" voterd yes, can the nation now act on that?
And, as a supplemntary, just what are the voting and counting rules the next time the "nation" -- as defined by Quebec's nationalists -- is polled on another referendum?
I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and I'm sure the Pequists and Blocistes have thought this through. Has Stephen Harper?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Quebec Nation, Part I

Back by popular demand: a post from October.

Harvard is a Nation, too

Today, in the Globe and Mail, Ignatieff shows why he's not the guy for the federal Liberals:"Quebeckers, moreover, have come to understand themselves as a nation, with a language, history, culture and territory that marks them out as a separate people. Quebec is a civic nation, not an ethnic nation. More than 5,000 nations are recognized as such in the world, but there are fewer than 200 states at the United Nations."

If anything, it's the other way around. Ethnic-based nationalism is precisely the problem with Quebec. It has been since the emergence of the survivance movement in the late 19th century. Far too often, Quebec nationalism has a noxious chauvinism to it that reached its nadir during World War II, when much of the clerical and civil elite sympathized for the fascist Petain regime in Nazi-occupied France. Anyone who cannot see, or refuses to acknowledge, that the Quebec media and political elite sees the Quebec "nation" as the decendants of the settlers of the colony of New France is not dealing realistically with the issue of Quebec nationalism. Quebec nationalism was once built on the three pillars of Norman ethnicity, the French language and Roman Catholicism. Quebec has chucked the latter pillar, has adopted ludicruous and malicious language laws that blatantly violate individual rights to "save" the middle one, and pretends that the first one is simply a reflection of Quebec settlement. That's easy to do when you are unwilling to discuss the movement of more than one million non-Francophones from the province in the past thirty years, the "ethnic cleansing" of the old Anglophone populations of Quebec City, Montreal, the Eastern Townships and West Quebec, the officially-encouraged erasure of English place names, and the rest of the sordid acts done under the false and dishonest excuse of "protecting" French

The Quebec Nation

I am grossly and violently ill this week, so much so that I can't really begin to come to grips with the dreadful decision by Harper and the other federal leaders to "recognize' a Quebec "nation". I literally am so sick that I cannot focus my eyes, but I can see where this is going. Despite what the CBC 's Don Newman says, this issue did not arise from the Quebec Liberal youth wing. It came from the BQ, which pressed Jean Chretien and Paul Martin on this issue time and again in Question Period and in motions in the House of Commons. Harper's utterly cynical decision now legitimizes the Quebec nationalist movement, Quebec's "national" capital, its "national" parks, etc. Canada becomes a redundancy in Quebec. And, yes, "nation" means two different things in French and English, but the French version is a volkishe one based on "heritage" and language.
By the same logic, all of the First Nations should be similarly "recognized". And Anglo-Quebec. And the Celtic "nation" of Altantic Canada. The Amish and Mennonites of Ontario. English-Canada. TheHutterites. The Ukrainians of the Pairies. The Finns of Northwestern Ontario. The Icelandic settlers of Manitoba. The Metis. Japanese-Canadians and Chinese Canadians of BC. All of them are distinct.
My poison-pen buddy Warren Kinsella gets this. Seems few others do.
I think this is Stephen Harper's defining moment. In the end, what possbily can come of this? Entrenchment in th Constitution? More "asymetrical federalism"?
Maybe Harper thought he was being clever, that he could derail the federal Liberal leadership convention agenda and take some of the Bloc's support. Canada and conservative federalists will pay a high price for this. Even the architects of Meech Lake stopped short of using the word "nation". They chose "distinct society" very carefully.
Harper likes Americanisms. Well, here are a couple. Imagine George III trying to derail American independence by tossing a bone of a supposedly worthless acknowldgment of an American nation? Or Lincoln making the same statement about the South in 1861? Would those gambits have worked? The answer seems obvious.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

My cat's all for it

Feral dogs are the most dangerous animals that you and I will likely come across in our lives. There's a big difference between a domestic dog and a wild dog in a pack. I've seen them in the Caribbean and in the north, and they are damned scary. Some humane societies have set up programs in southern Canada to socialize pups from feral litters, but adult dogs are not safe around kids and other dogs. Withreliable food supplies from garbage and from killing cats and small wild animals, dog packs in northern communities, especially Native reserves where no vet services for spaying and seutering are available, feral dogs are now a big problem. Traditionally, the population was kept down by eating dogs, but the practice is rare now. Unfortunately, despite my own love of dogs, I think culls are in order:

EDMONTON (CP) — An annual "dog shoot" would help keep dog packs on native reserves from killing any more helpless children, an animal welfare worker in Manitoba said Saturday.
Vicki Burns of the Winnipeg Humane Society was commenting about the death earlier this week of a five-year-old who was killed by a pack of stray dogs at the North Tallcree reserve near Fort Vermilion, Alta.
Dog attacks have also been a serious issue in Manitoba, where two young children on reserves were killed in separate incidents last summer.
Some communities there have "dog shoot days," in which stray dogs are culled.
"The solution is to cull the dog population, and provide spay and neuter services to native communities at the same time," said Burns.
A two-year-old boy was mauled at the Hollow Water First Nation in July, and a three-year-old boy met the same fate on the Sayisi First Nation in June.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Dutch courage

The Dutch are a very liberal people, but, from what I've seen from members of my wife's family, their tolerance is being tested. Looks like they'll follow France and some institutions in Britain to ban burkhas. I can't even begin to imagine how a ban would be enforced.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch government announced plans today for legislation banning full-length veils in public places and other clothing that covers the face — putting the Netherlands at the forefront of a general European hardening toward Muslim minorities.
The Netherlands, once considered one of Europe’s most welcoming nations for immigrants and asylum seekers, is deeply divided over moves by the government to stem the tide of new arrivals and compel immigrants to assimilate into Dutch society.
“From a security standpoint, people should always be recognizable and from the standpoint of integration, we think people should be able to communicate with one another,’’ Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk told national broadcaster NOS. She said the ban also would apply to headgear like ski masks and full-faced helmets.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Hack, hack, wheez, wheez

Ontario's Liberal government, which has already broken its promise to get rid of coal-fired plants, is about to extend their demise deadline again. On behalf of fellow Ontario asthmatics, thanks, Dulltone.
You really notice those extra smog days every summer (and, last year, even in the winter) when you have asthma. Maybe it's Dulltone's way of knocking off Steven Harper and Bob Rae, who, like me, are no strangers to Ventalin.

Ontario’s power authority is recommending that the last of the province’s coal-fired plants be shut down by 2014 with half of existing capacity phased out by 2011, the Star has learned.
If the recommendation sticks, the final closing date would be seven years past the McGuinty government’s original target of 2007 and is sure to become a political lightning rod as next October’s provincial election approaches.
Industry sources said the recommendation, to be disclosed tomorrow in a discussion paper, is preliminary and could change as the Ontario Power Authority works toward release of its final integrated power system plan later this year.
Energy Minister Dwight Duncan would not comment today on the power authority’s recommendations but said emission reductions, not plant closures, should be the measure of progress.
“I think we have to change the focus,” he said.
The Ontario Medical Association says emissions from coal plants, the dirtiest form of power generation, are responsible for thousands of premature deaths across the province.

Who's punk

Some nostalgic hack recently blogged that guys with beards are not "punk".
I suppose I shouldn't really care, because "punk" really is a dated form of music. It is, after all, now nearly a third of a century since punk was popular. To put it in perspective, it's halfway back in time to the age of zoot suits and Sinatra. Real punk grew out of the rage of industrial city Gen-Xers in England, people my age who, other than language, had nothing in common with me or anyone else in Canada, especially the sons of physicians and the other poseurs who took it up. I suspect it was just one of the billion ways that guys have, over the years, tried to attract women without having to cruise around in papa's car with a fifty dollar bill, looking for the sort of romance that leaves really unpleasant litter in the parking lot near my house. I took the easy route: mastery of card tricks, a knack for Byron-style poetry, and the successful encouragement of friends to call me "Tripod". But those are the old days. I've got a great wife, three kids and a van with a great sound system. Barney Rubble is not my double. Some of us grow older gracefully, some of us don't.
The question du jour: Are 46-year-old lobbyists for Waste Management Corp and the Ontario Funderal Directors Association the sort of people who, back in the 80s punk heyday, would have punk cred? Or would they have been given a shitkicking and a spit shower by real punks?
The world is full of very strange beasties, I must say. And many of them are very funny, in a Roman Colliseum kind of way.

More muncipal election

First, poor Adam Vaughan. Poor, poor Adam Vaughan.
Second, I tuned into the local CBC station and heard a long interview with Toronto mayor David Miller. It's over now, and someone's yammering about penises. That's the CBC these days.
Miller is a pretty smart guy. He'd probably make quite a good premier, but he's smart to stay in Toronto. That city has some serious, serious challenges, and Miller's right to demand more money from the feds and the province. Toronto's lucky to have Miller, after years of Mel Lastman, who was slightly worse than having no mayor at all. Physically, Toronto is starting to look like hell. It is starting to show the first signs of hollowing out, with serious problems in the downtown. But there are some signs of a turn-around. Regent Park is being torn down and rebuilt, there's some signs of life on the east waterfront (other than on Winner's Circle and other pretentious parts of the Beaches), and Miller's pried some money out of the feds for immigration services.
The struggle will be against the provincial Liberals, who had hoped to turn city councils in Ottawa and Toronto into branch operations. They -- and their puppets -- started high in the polls, but, on election day, got their asses handed to them in many municipalities across the province. Bodes well for the 2007 provincial election.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Larry O'Brien

Larry O'Brien is the new mayor of Ottawa. He has no political experience, and, I think it's fair to say, is politicaly conservative. Virtually all of the incumbents were re-elected, which is the norm for Ottawa. That means a rookie businessman-mayor will lead a left-of-centre council.
The mayor, who is the natural spokesman for the city, has one message. The majority of council has another.
I've seen this type of thing before, and it's not pretty.
O'Brien didn't have it together to run a slate. I get the impression his decision was made at the spur of the moment, after Brian McGarry and Terry Kilrea backed out. I bet they're both kicking themselves tonight.
I would have been much more comfortable with McGarry than any other contender. Alex Munter had almost all the Liberal and NDP elites in the city backing him. Chiarelli had a few die-hards. This is a grim night for heavy-hitters like John Manley and a lot of the old Liberal Hill staffers and lobbyists who supported Munter. It's also a message, made very clear by voters, that they're not happy with the leadership in this city and want less, not more, city government.
Ottawa has very high taxes, considering that so many things councils normally do are done by the feds here. Our transit system stinks. The light rail plan is not only incredibly expensive, it has all the makings of a white elephant, a train to nowhere used by no one. The city's bilingualism policy, which grossly favors francophones, irks English-speaking residents who already feel frozen out of the federal public service. Our police force needs a major overhaul, and has for years. There are many other problems, such as the fall-out from amalgamation, the lack of planning for a new garbage dump, wicked traffic congestion.
This is a fairly wealthy city, yet we have many homeless people and shelter-users in the downtown core. Most of them have liquor and/or drug addictions and/or serious psychiatric problems. It's not uncommon, on Elgin, Bank and other downtown streets, and in the Market, to see two or more pnahandlers on every block. These are people who, by and large, have no hope of getting a job, no chance of finding a reasonably-priced place to live, and who really have no options except to keep doing what they do. And, because of their corrosive effects on business, O'Brien and many merchants want them off the street.
Then there are non-issues that have become issues: assistance for drug addicts to prevent the spread of HIV (needle exchange programs) and Hepititis C (crack pipe exchange).
Should be an interesting four years.

This is going to be expensive

The fact that a Chinese sub stalked a U.S. aircraft carrier is really no big deal. That happens all the time. But the real news is that Chinese subs are quiet enough and have the stealth technology to elude the sub-detecting technology of a state-of-the-art aircraft carrier. The ball is now in the U.S.'s court to improve its sub-detection technology. And that's probably going to cost an awful lot of money.

A Chinese submarine stalked a U.S. aircraft carrier battle group in the Pacific last month and surfaced within firing range of its torpedoes and missiles before being detected, The Washington Times has learned.
The surprise encounter highlights China's continuing efforts to prepare for a future conflict with the U.S., despite Pentagon efforts to try to boost relations with Beijing's communist-ruled military.
The submarine encounter with the USS Kitty Hawk and its accompanying warships also is an embarrassment to the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, Adm. William J. Fallon, who is engaged in an ambitious military exchange program with China aimed at improving relations between the two nations' militaries.
Disclosure of the incident comes as Adm. Gary Roughead, commander of the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet, is making his first visit to China. The four-star admiral was scheduled to meet senior Chinese military leaders during the weeklong visit, which began over the weekend.
According to the defense officials, the Chinese Song-class diesel-powered attack submarine shadowed the Kitty Hawk undetected and surfaced within five miles of the carrier Oct. 26.
The surfaced submarine was spotted by a routine surveillance flight by one of the carrier group's planes.

Yea, right, whatever

Giuliani won't run for president. He tested the waters for Seante in 2000, then begged off. He chickened out for running for re-election for mayor. New York mayors have never done well nationally, though Rudy might -- might -- balance a John McCain ticket, though I'm not sure McCain would take the risk. My bet for 2008: there will be at least one African-American on a national ticket, and maybe two: Obama and Powell.

Former New York mayor and possible 2008 presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani has downplayed the Democrats' US election sweep of last week, describing the outcome as "real close."
"I don't see this election, any more than the one two years ago or the one four years ago, as a defining election," the New York Times quoted Giuliani as saying over the weekend in a speech at Pennsylvania's Wilkes University.
Giuliani dodged questions on his presidential ambitions, saying he expected to make a decision next year on whether or not to run. "I haven't made up my mind, nor has anybody else," he was quoted as saying.

Did someone leave the water running?

Hard to believe Harper made the mistake of putting this guy outside the tent. Bad enough the media are peddling the "Harper the Control Freak" paradigm, without one of your own -- and a relatively famous one at that -- saying the same thing. It's now becoming pretty much impossible to believe there isn't a problem in the PMO. In fact, there seems to be at least two. If Harper wants his majority, his press secretary and his chief of staff must go.


OTTAWA—Garth Turner, the Halton MP ousted from the Conservative caucus, plans to "clarify" his plans about possibly becoming Canada's first Green party MP at a news conference tomorrow.

He also says he has some "disturbing" news to convey about recent messages he's been receiving from Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office.

The normally forthright Turner, ejected as a Tory MP for alleged indiscretion in his Internet postings, was being cryptic last night about why he'd called a news conference in Ottawa for tomorrow afternoon.

But he was willing to say he was troubled by what Harper's PMO has told him about the reasons for his ouster, and he also said he wanted to discuss his potential future with the Greens.

There's additional speculation that Turner may be giving some kind of boost to Green Party Leader Elizabeth May's campaign to win the by-election in London North Centre.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

More fall-out from the Gillers

An afternoon fight at the Toronto Reference Library, on Yonge St. north of Bloor St. left at least one man in hospital with stab wounds and another man in police custody today.
The fight broke out a little before 2:30 p.m. inside the six-floor library, police said shortly after the incident.

One victim was taken to hospital with what paramedics described as non-life threatening stab wounds to the head.

Police are currently investigating.

Happy Hallowe'en

Every week or two, my dad, who lives in the Rideau Lakes area, heads to Hershey's factory store to indulge the hereditary family sweet tooth. I'm sure he's following this story with some interest:


The Hershey chocolate plant in Smiths Falls halted operations indefinitely yesterday after an ingredient was found to be contaminated by an outside source.

Staff were told not to come in for work while the company worked with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to investigate.

"Our products go through multiple quality checks during the manufacturing process," said company spokesman John Long. "During one of these checks, we identified an externally sourced ingredient that didn't meet our standards."

The plant, which employs about 500 people, will remain closed until the problem is fully confirmed and necessary corrective steps have been taken, he said.

"We expect to be back to normal operations once this is completed,"Long said.

Charles Redden, head of the union that represents Hershey workers, expected the plant to be up and running by next week.

City Coun. Wendy Alford didn't put much weight to the plant shutting down.

"When they say contamination, that can mean God only knows what," she said. "It could be somebody's fingernail is in the chocolate."

Alford had nothing but praise for Hershey.

"I think Hershey is an extremely responsible corporate citizen in Smiths Falls and North America and I have every faith in the plant manager at Hershey," she said

Friday, November 10, 2006

If it walks like a shithawk and squawks like a shithawk...

MPP dumps on Grit lobby link


The link between a Toronto firm hired to lobby for Waste Management Canada and the Dalton McGuinty Liberals should worry opponents of the Carp Rd. dump expansion, says a local Tory MPP.

Warren Kinsella, a key Liberal strategist who helped run the Liberal war room in the 2003 provincial election, has registered to lobby the premier's office on behalf of WM, the owner of the Carp Rd. dump. Two other lobbyists in Kinsella's firm, Daisy Consulting Group, have also registered to lobby for WM.

Kinsella identified environmental assessments as a target area for his lobbying, according to the provincial lobbyist registry. That's a troubling sign for Nepean-Carleton Tory MPP Lisa MacLeod because the Environment Ministry has yet to approve the assessment for the Carp Rd. expansion.

"Warren Kinsella is closely tied to the premier of Ontario and the fact he has been hired to work with Waste Management on an issue that is a hot provincial topic doesn't quell the fears that I have over the expansion of our dump," said MacLeod, whose riding includes the dump.

"There is a potential that an unelected Liberal is going to have more influence on this debate than the elected members of the legislature," she said.

The premier's office said Kinsella has never met with McGuinty on the dump expansion. Jane Almeida, spokeswoman for the premier, said the government makes its environmental assessment decisions on "scientific information." She pointed to the government's recent rejection of WM plans to expand a landfill near Napanee.

"Obviously, our decision made last week dispels (MacLeod's) concerns because the WM proposal was rejected by the government," said Almeida.

A spokeswoman for Environment Minister Laurel Broten said WM pulled their proposal before it was ultimately rejected.

In an e-mail, Kinsella denied lobbying for WM on the Carp Rd. dump expansion.

"No. In no way, shape or form," wrote Kinsella. "The same answer applied to all members of our firm."

WM spokesman Wes Muir would not say what files Kinsella's firm was peddling with the province

(Then just why does Waste Management Corp need a provincial lobbyist, and just what does Kinsella do for them?)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Harvard is a nation, too

Today, in the Globe and Mail, Ignatieff shows why he's not the guy for the federal Liberals:

"Quebeckers, moreover, have come to understand themselves as a nation, with a language, history, culture and territory that marks them out as a separate people. Quebec is a civic nation, not an ethnic nation. More than 5,000 nations are recognized as such in the world, but there are fewer than 200 states at the United Nations."

If anything, it's the other way around. Ethnic-based nationalism is precisely the problem with Quebec. It has been since the emergence of the survivance movement in the late 19th century. Far too often, Quebec nationalism has a noxious chauvinism to it that reached its nadir during World War II, when much of the clerical and civil elite sympathized for the fascist Petain regime in Nazi-occupied France. Anyone who cannot see, or refuses to acknowledge, that the Quebec media and political elite sees the Quebec "nation" as the decendants of the settlers of the colony of New France is not dealing realistically with the issue of Quebec nationalism. Quebec nationalism was once built on the three pillars of Norman ethnicity, the French language and Roman Catholicism. Quebec has chucked the latter pillar, has adopted ludicruous and malicious language laws that blatantly violate individual rights to "save" the middle one, and pretends that the first one is simply a reflection of Quebec settlement. That's easy to do when you are unwilling to discuss the movement of more than one million non-Francophones from the province in the past thirty years, the "ethnic cleansing" of the old Anglophone populations of Quebec City, Montreal, the Eastern Townships and West Quebec, the officially-encouraged erasure of English place names, and the rest of the sordid acts done under the false and dishonest excuse of "protecting" French.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

One of those days

Sorry not to be posting much. I'm trying to get the fossil hobby/business into winter mode and catch up on journalism that is falling behind.

Did you ever have one of thnose days that clipped along nicely until, at some point, a gear was shifted somewhere in the universe and everything went completely screwy? I had a day like that. Nothing serious, but lots of misplaced car keys, money left on the table at home instead of shoved in wallet, dead batteries, crying kids, etc. And it started out so well.

I heard Jane Doe at the University of Ottawa before the day collapsed. She's the woman who successfully sued the Toronto cops for using her as "rape bait". She made some good points about the way the justice system treats women who have been attacked, but her conclusions are pretty wonky. In Jane Does's world, there would be no forensic tests for rape. There would be no trials as we know them. A woman's word would be evidence enough. And there's a word for the kind of society where the word of a select group is enough to convict: tyranny.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Lord works in mysterious ways...

LONDON, Ky. (AP) - A southeastern Kentucky woman was bitten by a snake during a church service and later died, a law enforcement officer said. Linda Long, 48, of London died Sunday at University of Kentucky Medical Center, said Brad Mitchell, a detective with the Laurel County Sheriff's Office.

Long died about four hours after the bite was reported, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

Officials said Long attended East London Holiness Church. Neighbors of the church told the newspaper the church practices serpent handling.

Lt. Ed Sizemore of the Laurel County Sheriff's Office said friends went with Long to a local hospital Sunday afternoon, and she was taken to UK.

"She said she was bitten by a snake at her church," Sizemore said.

Handling reptiles as part of religious services is illegal in Kentucky. Snake handling is a misdemeanor and punishable by a $50 to $100 fine. Police said they had not received reports about snake handling at the church.

Snake handling is based on a passage in the Bible, in the Gospel of Mark, that says a sign of a true believer is the power to "take up serpents" without being harmed.

Church officials could not be reached for comment.

The funeral was scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Arthur's Chapel Church in Rosehill, Va., according to the Rosehill Funeral Home.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Travels in Upstate New York

I spent yesterday in New York's Black River Valley, collecting trilobites with a friend from upstate New York. These bugs, like those in the Burgess Shale, have preserved soft body parts, like antennae and legs. There are only five or six places in the world where the preservation's that good.
It was fun to watch the fighters flying in and out of Ft. Drum airforce base, but we were, through the day, in danger from the local black bear population, and, perhaps more frightening, the army of deer hunters. There were hunters sitting in blinds as we walked along one trail, hunters in trucks, and hunters traipsing through fields. There were also goose hunters in the corn fields (something you don't see here), but certainly no shortage of waterfowl, as the Black River valley is a major duck and geese flyway.
(If Ottawa's deer problem can be solved by hunting, we're going to need a lot more hunters around here. Even with a six-week season and a lot of hunters, the valley is infested with deer. I saw deer in the woods, deer along the roads, deer in the fields. In seven hours, I must have seen fifteen deer, more than I saw last summer in four days on Texada Island, in the Straits of Georgia, where residents are alarmed about a deer problem.)
The two things that most impress me about that part of New York: the huge windmill farm, several square miles south of Watertown with hundreds of 300-ft. windmills that, according to my American friend, produce five per cent of New York's electricity; and the physical decay of the old small towns, where many big, beautiful wooden houses are in dire need of infusions of cash.
The average house price in Watertown, New York, is $130,000. Three years ago (the last stats available), the average rent was $400. And average family incomes are about $30,000. If the Ft. Drum base didn't exist, the towns would be dead. Unlike the small towns in Ontario where I lived, there's no influx of money from city people. Upstate New York, at least that part, is too far from a big city for that kind of gentrification.
People in that corner of New York state think Canadians are rich. Most people I talked to had visited Ottawa and Toronto, but even towns like Kingston (80 kilometres from Watertown)are quite proserous by upstate New York standards.
Which brings us back, I suppose, to the windmills. The farmers who have them on their land get a rent from the power utility. And the poorest farmland just happens to be the high ground, where the winds are strongest. The money is making a difference to the local economy, enough so, according to my hosts, that once the cash started to flow, WalMart built a great big store in the small town of Lowville.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Next Messiah

Notice how all the Grit leadership candidates try to be the "Nest Trudeau", while none are tripping over themselves to be the "Next Chretien" and most assuredly do not want to be tagged as the "Next Turner" or "Next Martin".

Holy Joe is doing 3500 RPMs at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery

Yup, always so true to those carved-in-stone Atkinson Principles that dominate political converage, the Star now publishes columns advocating the elimination of corporate taxes:

(Sorry for the long link).
Seems the "Atkinson Principles", or at least today's interpretation, boil down to "elect Liberals" and nothing more.

Rock on, Guido

Remember, remember, the 5th of November
Gunpowder Treason and plot ;
I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,
'Twas his intent.
To blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below.
Poor old England to overthrow.
By God's providence he was catch'd,
With a dark lantern and burning match
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, let the bells ring
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, God save the King!
Hip hip Hoorah !
Hip hip Hoorah !
A penny loaf to feed ol'Pope,
A farthing cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down,
A faggot of sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar,'
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head,
Then we'll say: ol'Pope is dead.

I'll be in that haven of Popery, New York, tomorrow on interesting paleo business. See ya Monday.

I lived in Huronia, and this is no Huronia...

Of all the Native groups that got screwed over on mailand eastern Canada during the colonial period, none were treated as badly as the Huron. Weakened culturally by the Jesuits, manipulated by the French government (which would not trade them guns to protect themselves from the Iroquois unless the Huron coverted), the Huron were conquered by the Iroquois. A few hundred survivors settled on Islde d'Orleans in 1651. A few years later, most of them were betrayed by the French as pawns in negotiations with the Iroquois. The survivors of these survivors settled in Loretteville, just outside Quebec City.
Now, it appears, the Huron may own more land than they thought. If they persue the claim, it will be a test of Quebec's policy of ignoring aboriginal claims in the original territory of New France, which was supposedly empty when the French arrived. (For those of you who can't read French, the story asks if Quebec City is really the capital of the Huron, and says 200-year-old documents suggest the Huron have a good claim to much of suburban Quebec City.

Québec, capitale huronne?
Fabrice de Pierrebourg
Le Journal de Montréal
04/11/2006 04h00

Le Journal de Montréal a retrouvé la trace de six documents anciens recherchés depuis plusieurs années par les autochtones pour revendiquer 100 km carrés au coeur de la capitale du Québec et sa banlieue.
Le territoire en question couvre 5 km de front en bordure du fleuve, à l’ouest du Parlement de Québec, par 20 km de profondeur jusqu’aux environs de Valcartier.
Les six documents consultés par le Journal de Montréal
Les Hurons devraient-ils avoir gain de cause?
Autrefois appelé la seigneurie de Sillery, ce vaste espace englobe une grande partie de Sainte-Foy, Sillery, Loretteville et Vanier.
Les dizaines de milliers de propriétaires des terrains, maisons et autres entreprises construits sur cet immense territoire, revendiqué depuis près de deux cent ans par les Hurons-Wendats, sont peut-être des squatters sans le savoir.
En tout cas, c’est ce que pourraient laisser entendre les six manuscrits historiques consultés par Le Journal de Montréal, dont les Hurons connaissent l’existence même s’ils n’arrivent pas à les retrouver pour appuyer leurs revendications territoriales.
Disparus depuis 1824, ces manuscrits se trouvent présentement entre les mains d’un collectionneur qui a souhaité conserver l’anonymat par peur d’éventuelles représailles judiciaires.
Le Journal a appris l’existence de ces documents au printemps dernier, mais n’a pu les consulter qu’au cours des derniers jours.
C’est donc la première fois qu’ils sont rendus publics depuis 182 ans.

Today's "shudder moment"

Anyone wanna bet where the next nuclear war will be fought? Ten years ago, the smart money was on India-Pakistan. While these folk dodn't like Israel -- which is also armed with nukes -- they don't get along with each other. The Algerians don't like the French much, either. It's doubtful the Moroccans and Tunisians really want a bomb or could afford the infrastructure to build one, but the rest could probabkly pull it off.

Six Arab states join rush to go nuclear
By Richard Beeston, Diplomatic Editor, Times of London

Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, UAE and Saudi Arabia seek atom technology

THE SPECTRE of a nuclear race in the Middle East was raised yesterday when six Arab states announced that they were embarking on programmes to master atomic technology.
The move, which follows the failure by the West to curb Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, could see a rapid spread of nuclear reactors in one of the world’s most unstable regions, stretching from the Gulf to the Levant and into North Africa.
The countries involved were named by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Saudi Arabia. Tunisia and the UAE have also shown interest.
All want to build civilian nuclear energy programmes, as they are permitted to under international law. But the sudden rush to nuclear power has raised suspicions that the real intention is to acquire nuclear technology which could be used for the first Arab atomic bomb.
“Some Middle East states, including Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Saudi Arabia, have shown initial interest [in using] nuclear power primarily for desalination purposes,” Tomihiro Taniguch, the deputy director-general of the IAEA, told the business weekly Middle East Economic Digest. He said that they had held preliminary discussions with the governments and that the IAEA’s technical advisory programme would be offered to them to help with studies into creating power plants.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Roll up another one...

If this guy was taking tranquilizers, Demerol, or many of the other prescription drugs that make you ripped to the tits, the papers wouldn't report on it. York University gives a prof a place to use medicinal marijuana, and it makes the Toronto Star. People are still being awfully silly about pot in a province where liquor stores are now open Sundays and until 10 p.m. so anyone who feels the need and who has the money can get shitfaced 24/7. I probably covered 30 murders in which the killer was drunk. I never covered one where the murderer was high on pot. I suspect workers in womens' shelters could tell you many, many stories about ugly drunks who beat their wives, but don't see many who were mauled by men who were stoned on pot. That, in itself, is reason enough to support legalization. And if women have the right to decide about abortion, in the name of having control over theirr own bodies, why shouldn't pot smokers have control over what they put into their lungs?
In this case, pot helps the guy with a dreadful disease. It doesn't even matter to me if the science backs him up. If he feels it relieves his suffering, I will not presume to argue:

York University is cool with a criminology professor smoking pot on campus.
Brian MacLean will get his own private, ventillated room beginning Monday after the school agreed to accommodate his use of medical marijuana for a severe form of degenerative arthritis.
The move by York follows the lead of the University of Toronto, which in September gave a philosophy professor with an undisclosed medical condition the go-ahead to spark up in a room assigned to him for the same purpose.
“We take it seriously because we pride ourselves on trying to be progressive in terms of the way that we approach people with disabilities,” York spokesperson Alex Bilyk said in an interview today.
“A person wants to be a functioning member of society and in order to do that certain people need different types of medical accommodation.”

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Pluck it

The Star's Bill Taylor mourns the stealth fighter, now declared obsolete. Taylor seems naive about the reason why the stealth technology is no longer cutting edge. He should check the Star's library. Here's the reason: at least one of these planes was shot down by the Serbs during the Kosovo bombing campaign. Billions of dollars worth of secrecy became a pile of very valuable junk -- computer technology, alloys and the like -- that, I'm sure, fetched a very nice price from the Chinese and, if they could afford it, the Russians. Since then, the stealth was yesterday's tech.
Here's Taylor:

He's qualified, too!

My friends back in Huronia tell me this guy will probably win the mayoralty election in Penetanguishene:

It's not the first time he's been on the wrong side of the law. Ah, municpal politics in Simcoe County... always newsworthy.

This is very sad news.

Dawg, call me if you need someone to talk to, or if you want company for a coffee.
HT to Kinsella, who has had his share of loss lately.

Here's my column from today's Ottawa City Journal

Everyone knows our transit system needs a lot of work.
But agreement stops there. No one wants to pay for the fixes we need. And no one seems to want to hash out what those fixes are. Instead, they meddle in the issue, play politics with it, and, after Nov. 13, will probably let the whole thing simmer.
Other cities are more aggressive about transit. Vancouver collects a 10 cent per liter gas tax. The money pays for a new monorail system. The chance of any of the three major candidates for mayor of Ottawa risking their political hides by advocating such a tax is somewhere between “slim” and “none”.
(Bob Chiarelli is too much of a politician to try. Alex Munter will do anything to prevent being labeled a tax-and-spend liberal. Larry O’Brien probably wouldn’t consider the idea on ideological grounds.)
The feds, who have already played politics with this file, see little to gain from under-writing Ottawa’s transit system. Yet it’s precisely because of the federal government, or, at least, its political staff and public servants, that there’s a traffic problem.
Government jobs are great for the city, but the feds have been very slow to develop any parking. Government agencies like the National Capital Commission aren’t willing to cover the costs associated with being a national capital: the high tourism traffic of busses and cars; the jammed bridges; the failure of road work to keep up with the increase in downtown office space.
And, rather than develop a system that would make car-free living feasible, Ottawa has a transit system geared to travel from the suburbs to downtown workplaces at rush hour, and to taking people from mall to mall.
OC Transpo’s routes are unfathomable to tourists and even to many people in the city. In my first year here, I took several mystery tours of Ottawa before going back to my car..
Some bus drivers are surly. I’ve seen them insult passengers, provoke confrontations with young people, and, to my amazement, check the transfers and passes of visible minorities while waving by people who were not as dark-skinned.
And the system is expensive. Using tickets instead of the $3 cash fare can save you money, but retailers hate selling them because they get such a small percentage. One store owner tells me it costs more in bank fees to deposit the money than he makes on the tickets.
In my neighbourhood, it’s impossible to find any store selling them that’s open before 9 a.m. – unless you go to a convenience store that’s a ten-minute walk from my home.
Really, a subway is the only system that makes sense.
Like many other “subways”, including those in Chicago, Toronto and even New York, an Ottawa line would only need to be underground in heavily built-up areas. If it went under Albert and Slater, it would have to be buried from Bronson to Nicholas, before emerging to follow the transitway line to Blair, and then to Orleans.
At Bayview, it could connect to a north-south line on the route of the O-Train and cross the Ottawa River on the now-idle CPR bridge. Gatineau is laced with railway rights-of-way that could be part of the system. Finally, something would be done about congestion on the five bridges over the Ottawa River.
Much of the expensive part – the purchasing of property and the digging of a route—can actually be done on the cheap. Most of downtown Ottawa is built on easy-to-work black shale. We have the transitway lines, the bridges, and the old CPR tracks that are now used for the O Train.
Jamming a train onto Slater or Albert, along with busses, cars, and the seemingly unending construction that usually blocks lanes, is a stop-gap measure at best. Quite likely, it’s also a waste of time and money.
And, it seems, it’s City Hall’s idea of progress.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Jim Flaherty did the right thing when he poured water on the over-heating income trust business. He's right on tax avoidance. When corporations avoid taxes, the burden is shifted mainly to middle-class taxpayers, who already pay too much. But that's not my biggest problem with income trusts. I wonder whether they're good business, and good for Canada. Essentially, they force managers to shovel every available dime to the unit holders. That means no money for R&D, to upgrade physical plants, to hire talent, to buy proprietary information. In effect, it's a recipe to bleed not only the taxpayers, but also to suck the guts out of Canadian business and industry. No decent executive would want to be hounded by unit-holders, and, I suspect, talent flees this kind of environment. Income trusts are the opposite of leveraged buy-outs, and they are a sign that the dynamic and interesting part of growing a business is finished. Who wants to be in on that?
The idea that the telecom sector, which is such a big R&D spender and is so reliant on re-investment to stay competitive, was embracing income trusts must have -- or should have -- scared the hell out of the feds. To me, income trusts are like reverse mortgages. They're a way of getting a short-term flow of money with no regard for the long-term implications. They're not only bad for the country, they're also probably a lousy investment, even before the tax changes.

Kentucky fried, with no trans fats

My books have sold well enough, but I've never had a blockbuster. I'd like to. I'd love to sell as many books and get the newspaper serialization that UK writer Tim Bowers has received lately. And maybe I will some day. But, unlike Bowers, I'd make sure I did the job right, and that I wouldn't have to give my royalties to my lawyers or to pay damages.
I've read parts of Bowers' new book on Conrad Black, and I've read Black's rebuttal. I can't verify every one of Black's points, but I know that he hit the mark on quite a few of his rebuttal targets -- his academic success, the declining situation at Canadian Breweries after his father left, the toy soldiers (Hal Jackman's schtick, not Black's. Most likely the other alleged errors of fact will be easy for Black to prove. They are the type of facts that many people would know, and would be willing to testify to. Over-all, if you're going to write that a litigious and successful man is a crook and that his wife is a sex-crazed harlot, you better (a) make sure the facts are right and (b) make sure that, if the guy's down, he can't get up. Bowers appears to have failed dramatically on (a) and certainly can't be sure about (b). Here's Black turning Bowers' hide into steak tartar in the Daily Telegraph:;jsessionid=F4BDATQ4OURDXQFIQMGSFF4AVCBQWIV0?xml=/news/2006/10/29/nblack29.xml&site=5&page=0

We've been Kazakhed!

From today's bulging "get over yourself" file. Yes, Roma (gypsies) have had a rough time in Europe, with a particularly nasty stretch when the Nazis tried to exterminate them. Saying, however, that a Jewish comedian's very spot-on lampooning of racism and narrow-mindedness (by making mock through the age-old vehicle of parody) will incite more violence is just stupid. To agree with their line of logic, you'd have to believe that the type of morons who become active racists would watch the movie and think Sacha Baron Cohen's "Borat" character would be the kind of guy who would inspire you. Now, the Kazakhs, on the other hand, have a right to complain, but no film ever turned the corner financially by hitting big in Kazakhstan.

A human rights group campaigning for gypsies has filed a complaint against British comic Sacha Baron Cohen over his "Borat" film featuring a spoof Kazakh journalist who calls himself a former "gypsy catcher," German prosecutors said.
The state prosecutor's office in the northern city of Hamburg said the European Center for Antiziganism Research had brought the complaint accusing Cohen of slander, inciting violence against the Sinti and Roma gypsy groups and violating Germany's anti-discrimination law.
"Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" premiered last week in London and is due to hit German cinemas Thursday.
Twentieth Century Fox of Germany, the film's distributor here, pulled television commercials and Internet advertising that featured tongue-in-cheek talks of running over "gypsies" with a Hummer military vehicle after complaints by the group.
The organization noted in a statement last month that violent crimes by right-wing extremists had risen this year by 20 percent and called it "irresponsible" to tolerate the racist jokes made in the film.
Germany has strict rules governing speech that could been seen as defaming minorities, particularly groups such as Sinti and Roma that were targeted for genocide by the Nazis.