Monday, December 10, 2007

Golly, Larry

Ottawa's the only place I know of where the mayor -- who may not, in fact, be from this planet -- can get busted for bribing someone with something he didn't have, having that alleged bribe turned down, then seeing the would-be bribee do what he wanted anyway, this time at the behest of an opponent.
Make sense? Never has to me.
Larry O'Brien was one of those politicians who showed signs of being the type who could provide reams of great copy. And here we are. I expect to write about him for the Ottawa magazine I write for, which is, conveniently, called Ottawa Magazine.
Now, at risk of a contempt of court citation, let me make a prediction: Larry's going to walk. There is, as far as we know, just one witness. Unless Larry got hit in the head with a brick, there's nothing on paper. Terry Kilrea took a lie detector test. It's inadmissible.
Before the trial, Larry's going to be under a cloud. Not that things were so hot for him, anyway. His chief of staff and his press secretary bailed in the first few months of the O'Brien administration. Larry's picked fights with the city manager, which is downright dumb. He's in a minority on city council. He's toxic to anyone in senior levels of government. The unions hate him, and, in fact, it was the president of the Ottawa Labour Council who filed the original complaint.
So Ottawa has sunk to the level of municipal laughing stock, perhaps eventually tumbling to the comic-book level reached by Thunder Bay in the 1980s, when the mayor grabbed the city clerk by the seat of his pants and the scruff of the neck and tossed him out of the council chamber.
Ottawa voters voted the Good Copy Ticket in the last election. My banker thanks each and every one of them.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Well, maybe I was wrong

The Mulroney-Schreiber story may have legs. I watched him yesterday and he's noticably better at keeping his story straight. People didn't ask him the right question. He didn't give Mulroney money from Airbus. He gave Mulroney's lawyer in Zurich money from CGI, a lobbying firm. Airbus gave the money to CGI. So if you ask "Did you give Brian Mulroney any money from Airbus?" Schreiber would answer "No."
There needs to be co-operation between the Germans and experienced Canadian investigators. There also needs to be a skilled prosecutor assigned to this case in Canada.
Why dredge up this old story?
Here's one reason you won't likely see in the papers. Back in the early 1990s, the American ambassador, Tom Niles, complained Airbus got its deal with Air Canada by bribing people all over Ottawa. Canadians didn't catch Alan Eagleson, who ripped off NHL players. The Americans did. Canadians didn't prosecute Bernie Ebbers. They didn't get convictions in the Bre-X scam. None on Conrad Black. No convictions in Shawinigate, only the little fish in the Sponsorship scandal. It was the Germans who fingered Schreiber. Nothing on the Income Trust leak. Every major Canadian player rejects a national securities commission, even though the provincial ones are a joke.
In fact, the slogan "The Mounties Always Get Their Man" has been twisted inside out. If the man is a Polish man freaking out for a cigarette in an airport, the Mounties might get him. Otherwise, they're hopeless, or they're leashed.
Our country is developing a reputation as a haven for political corruption. We look like some Third World rathole. Take this, for instance.
And anyone who really wants to be sickened by police incompetence should look at the Air India bombing investigation in which the RCMP and CSIS played a Keystone Kops game and blew whatever leads they had in that mass murder.
Schreiber has many reasons for stringing politicians along. Read The Last Amigo by Stevie Cameron to see how much the Germans have on him. This song and dance is his last hope of freedom. But don't write him off as a crank. The millions actually existed and he doled out the bribe money. All we lack is the details.
He's still playing politics, believing it's profitable to shield anyone connected with Harper. Schreiber's hell-bent on denying knowing Peter MacKay. And he's made it clear that all the wheel-greasing was done without paperwork. Since there's no jury in the world who would convict anyone based on Schreiber's evidence, don't expect anyone to go to jail.
All this does is solidify Mulroney's place in history and strengthen the resolve of people like me who want lobbyists put out of business.
Today, Dourque Newsbought said only 50% of Canadians are interested in these revelations. I humbly suggest they're the 50% who get off their asses and vote. The irony is the Conservative Party of Stephen Harper is probably the cleanest government we've had in 40 years.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I, The Jury

Well, here are a few notes from the Schreiber hearing:

Luc Lavoie is right about Karlheinz. They'll have to screw the bastard into the ground after he dies. He comes across as the classic wheel-greaser. He has no compunction about bribing people or using arms-makers' money to meddle in Canadian political affairs.
At the same time, he's not willing to rat anyone out. He didn't bribe Mulroney when Mulroney was in office. All Airbus money went to Frank Moore's firm for lobbying services rendered. He has no idea what happened after that.
Mulroney was paid for some vague services, and here's where Schreiber's evasions start looking ridiculous. He says he hired Mulroney because Mulroney would have pull with Kim Campbell's government. But he kept paying Mulroney long after Campbell tanked. What for? Well, all that's left is the pasta machine.
And yet Schreiber says the schmeirgeld -- grease -- was normally paid to politicians after a deal was done, as a kind of bonus. It wasn't something paid out up front.
Still with me here?
Sorting through all of the obvious lies and crap, one thing's clear. Schreiber kept good records. Before they're shredded, someone should issue a subpoena for them and have them shipped off to a good forensic accountant.
Karlheinz has what he wants. He's getting out of jail. His deportation is delayed. My friend Gerd Braun, a Frankfurt reporter, says the prosecutor in Augsburg, Germany, is having a fit. And the clock is ticking.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

End of Term

Well, the end of the semester is in sight. Time really did fly. I met and got to know about 75 wonderful young people and some really great colleagues. Now it's time to mark papers and write.
But just as the Christmas season breaks the edge of my time horizon, along comes old KarlHeinz and the non-travelling House of Commons Ethics Committee roadshow. KHS was Act I, and Brian Mulroney is skedded to provide the conflict that will make this edgy comedy the hit of the season in Ottawa.
Here's a guy (Mulroney) who went into the autumn thinking his little place in history would be gloriously etched by his bulky autobiography, research-ghosted by my friend Art Milnes. Humping up to Westmount after a long day at the office, Mulroney may have cast the odd glance over his shoulder at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel (which sits atop the Central Station, where I catch my train back to Ottawa) and wondered if the $100,000 he picked up from Schreiber was still safely tucked away in Barrick Gold stocks or wherever he put it.
KHS says Mulroney did nothing to earn the money, which conflicts sharply with the idea Mulroney got it as a bribe for services rendered in office. Eventually, he should stick to one story. And if Mulroney got it after he left office for lobbying services (not)rendered, then Mulroney's right, it's just a civil matter before the courts and, perhaps, the Barreau de Quebec.
But before I bought the idea the Mulroney simply fleeced Schreiber, I dug through my books and found a copy of Harvie Cashore and Stevie Cameron's "The Last Amigo". Virtualy every sleazy revelation about Mulroney, Bear Head and KHS was printed years ago in that book. Cameron, so brutally trashed by her own former employer (the Globe and Mail) and blindsided by Kaplan and Spector in "A Secret Trial", is vindicated.(And note, just as happened with Stevie's "On The Take", the normally litigious Mulroney did not sue Cameron for libel). Cameron may have, like the World War II journalist-censors I'm writing about, climbed into bed with the State for reasons of patriotism and for her own ideas of a greater good, but her honesty remains intact.
Quite simply, no matter what Mulroney's story may be, the questions will always haunt: why does a former Prime Minister take wads of cash from a sleazy arms dealer? Why would a lawyer who has an office just a couple of blocks away from the QEH do business in a hotel room with no contracts and no receipts? Is this what was considered normal behavior in Montreal and Ottawa? Has it happened before or since?
Yes, Mulroney's place in history is secure, and it's not a particularly pretty corner of the Great Canadian Story. Now, there may be peripheral damage to Harper's Tories, but even they should suck it up for history's sake. I'll be there for the show.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Extradite Schreiber?????

They have to be kidding to even pretend to give it consideration. Keep him here and hear him sing. We have made dirtier deals with far bigger douchebags. For instance, the Mulroney government gave hitman (estimated 15 kills) Real Simard a fabulous gym/cell and a shortened sentence in return for testifying against Montreal mobster Vic Cotroni, who then conveniently pegged out. Here we have a guy who did the same kind of bribery/fraud/income tax evasion on both sides of the Atlantic in our power. Yes, they want him in Germany, but we want him here, and the difference between us and the Germans is we have the bastard on ice. So let's make a deal. If KarlHeinz has the goods: the story, the paperwork, hopefully some tape, let's wind him up and let him run around the room. If it's all just a big crock, we'll send him back to Germany and let them take their shot. If he goes back now, we'll never know whether the allegations against Mulroney are true. That will leave a cloud over Mulroney, Elmer MacKay, Marc Lalonde, Fred Doucet, Frank Moores, Stevie Cameron, the CBC and Harper's government. Removing that cloud altogether or separating the innocent sheep from the avaricious goats is worth the price of keeping KarlHeinz here and making him happy enough to chat.

As for the allegations against Chretien, all the more reason to have a special prosecutor. If Chretien is innocent, the cloud over him should be removed. If not, he should be punished. Same as for you, me, the guy around the corner, or any other Canadian.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

History vs. Brian Mulroney

Unless Brian Mulroney can show that he didn't take $300,000 in cash from Karl Heinz Schreiber, his name will be forever tarnished. The fact that a notorious douchebag who greased the wheels of the arms industry by bribing government officials (in Germany, at least)had access to Brian Mulroney and a large number of Canada's political elite -- many of whom, like Elmer MacKay and Marc Lalonde, actually vouched for his bail -- makes this country look bad enough. The handing over of money in cash to a former Prime Minister is something that absolutely begs for an explanation, and I can't imagine one that will satisfy. Honest people simply don't do business this way. I can't imagine any lawyer or lobbyist I know even considering taking an envelope full of cash, for many reasons. They send invoices. They get paid by cheque. Their fees go through their firm and are dep;osited in a bank. They pay GST on fees for professional services and they make sure the accountants who handle their business affairs pay their taxes in full and on time.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Today's op-ed piece

I finally got my life organized enough to be able to write commercially for a wide audience again.* This piece ran today in the Montreal Gazette. It's an attempt to somewhat debunk the myth of wartime unity. Anyone who wants to read a pretty good analysis of the real situation on the home front should read Jeff Keshen's "Saints, Sinners and Soldiers". Keshen is a brilliant young professor at the University of Ottawa, a prolific author, and my thesis supervisor. He's also a really nice guy.

*I did have a column in the weekly, then monthly, now defunct Ottawa City Journal, but that was more for fun than anything.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Skule

It's been about two months since I started teaching at Concordia. It's a wonderful place and we're building the best journalism program in the country. Our university already has Canada's pre-eminent Communications department. I had several talks with people in Montreal today about my decision to teach journalism. Why not History, since that's the area of my PhD studies?
I had several reasons, and all of them still hold. I want to teach people in their majors. History profs don't get to do that. Most of their classes are big survey courses that are electives for students majoring in other subjects. At worst, they teach courses to totally disinterested engineering and science students who must have an arts credit to graduate. I'm teaching classes of about 25 students each, all of whom -- at this point, anyway -- want to be involved in some aspect of journalism.
And if you want to change journalism, go to where the young journalists are. The business has problems. Some are economic. Others involve a certain watering down of ethics and a return to a politicized press. I don't tell the kids to be objective, but I do ask them to be fair. And I think it's great that I'm being paid to tell journalists at a very formative time in their lives to think about fairness.
All of my students are great kids, and I can look around the room and see people I know will be important, skilled players in Canadian journalism or solid reporters and editors in small communities. They've taken a leap of faith that there will be jobs but anyone who's been in a Canadian newsroom lately has seen the sea of grey hair. The "boom" generation is edging to retirement. We people in the "bust" generation made do with freelancing, and these kids in the "echo" generation have, I really believe, a good chance at a real career.
My colleagues are also great people who've been kind and helpful, showing me generosity when they've been very pinched for time.
Last and not least is Concordia's Loyola campus. It's the old Jesuit college in Notre Dame de Grace. Who wouldn't want to teach here?


Our building's on the left side. It's brand new, with state-of-the art computer, radio, and TV labs. The new buildings -- there is also a large science complex -- are designed to fit into the Tudor complex without ruining it, the way so many campuses were uglified in the 1970s with brutalist architecture.
So that's how the job stands, without breaking any confidentiality. Suffice to say, though, the kids these days are, for the most part, focused, grounded, curious and many of them show remarkable social conscience without spewing boilerplate rhetoric. I can honestly say if I was an employer I wouldn't be too worried about them washing out. They are very much children of this century. Remember, in 2000 many of them weren't even teenagers. September 11 occured when they were in grade school. They barely remember when Jean Chretien was Prime Minister, vaguely remember Bill Clinton, and Brian Mulroney is someone from the history books. They have never known recession, but they know they live in a time of change: great technological leaps; serious external threats; a constant flux in Quebec politics; and environmental changes that their generation may be stuck with. And they don't seem afraid.
So far, nothing to bitch about. Even VIA Rail has come through 19 out of 20 times, which is an A+.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

On the Take

This story's been around for a while, but now the dirty details are coming out. I thought the title of Stevie Cameron's blockbuster wasoverthe top, and I wondered why Mulroney didn't sue. Turns out Cameron was right. Now that the Refom-Canadian Alliance-Conservatives have assumed the mantle of Tories, they're vulnerable on this. That may not be fair, and people might argue that the party of Kim Campbell and Jean Charest paid the electoral price. But someone -- to use Harvey Kietel's wonderful phrase in National Treasure -- has to go to jail. Will it be Brian Mulroney? And will Harper, who developed a real friendship with Mulroney, disown the old crook?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I like lower taxes...

but I'd like to leave a lower national debt to my kids. The boomer generation is just so damn greedy. They want the tax cuts now, when they're in their peak earning years. In ten years, they'll want better health care and a whole pile of breaks for seniors, including big cuts to property taxes so they can live beyond their means on their pensions. And, oh yes, they'll make sure everything they get from the government is indexed to the penny.
Meanwhile, we've got bridges falling on people's heads. We've got poor people and crazy people sleeping in the streets. And we've got huge public debts and liabilities cleverly hidden by the feds, provinces and municipalities. That's the great thing about being over-governed at three levels: you can stash bonds anywhere.
Now, what happens if, as I expect, we do have a recession next year? Flaherty's tax cuts are now built into the system. They are, essentially, refunds from the windfall the government has been blessed with in a time of incredible prosperity. But if the economy tanks with the US', we'll be running Mulroney-type deficits again as quick as you can say "Michael wilson".

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Press Gallery Dinner

What a blast! A full house in the elegant setting of the Great Hall of the Canadian Museum of Civilization. The food was great, the clothes were elegant, the entertainment superb. Marion and I were in exquisite company, with an excellent table near the center of the action.
The GG skipped because she couldn't take criticism from the Quebecois press about a (quite funny) joke she made about the then-leader of the Parti Quebecois. Steven Harper didn't show because (a) he gets very bad media advice and (b) he takes it. Harper always shone at gallery dinners. It was a great way to show he was an upright guy. Now he looks like an ass and a suck.
Those politicians who did show -- Dion, Layton, May, Belinda Stronach, Lawrence Cannon, Bob Rae, Michal Ignatief -- seemed to be having a good time. A very clean-shaven Justin Trudeau was also there, as was Rick Mercer. Peter Newman showed up in a cape, a la Trudeau 1973 Version. Gen. Rick Hillier, the American ambassador, the British High Commissioner, several other ambassadors, some senior cultural poo-bahs, and every non-Tory political mover and shaker who counts in Ottawa was there, along with senior media executives, a few lobbyists, and some party heavyweights. The only people who stayed away were those who are afraid of the Prime Minister -- the members of the Tory caucus and their staff. The rest of Ottawa and a good chunk of the rest of the Canadian elite showed up.
Anyone who thought the century-old gallery dinner was a goner because of the Tory boycott should remember that politicians are the most transient people in Ottawa. They come, they go, but this city has a culture of its own.
The press has many sins, and I've listed a few of them here. Still, it's one of the bulwarks of democracy, and Harper is a fool to try to undermine it.
And anyone who bawls that Harper is snubbed or somehow frozen out should keep in mind that he was invited, and has always been treated well at these events. Those of you ex-Reformers who believed in empowerment for MPs -- things like recall, referendum, free votes -- should remember how hard the Tory caucus was whipped to stay away from this event. Even the lowliest staffers who, two years ago, would have killed to get a ticket, were too afraid to show their faces. Welcome to Harper's vision of populism.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Close the book on Election 2007

A very forgetable politician, John Tory, has lost the campaign to the very forgetable Dalton McGuinty. More important, since there's nothing ideologically different between these two men, Roman Catholic education in Ontario is mortally wounded in the crossfire.
The great conundrum of the funding of religious schools lay in the fact the Liberals supported state funding for Roman Catholic schools and no other faiths'. Now the public can reasonably ask why Catholic schools have this funding and the schools of other faiths do not.
I wish John Tory never raised the issue. My kids don't go to Catholic schools, but almost all the people in my extended family did. My older relatives, including my grandmother, taught in them for nothing when times were tough. Women throughout my dad's family -- nuns and lay women -- fought hard for the Cathiolic system. My great aunt Mary Lehane was one of the Catholic teachers federation executives who pried the pension system out of the hands of the province. Her sister Bernie -- my grandmother-- taught for nothing during the Great Depression.
But how can we justify this system? Irish and French Catholics won it at great cost and in the teeth of Oranbge opposition nearly 150 years ago. Their argument: Catholics pay taxes, too.
So do Jews and Muslims.
And so it goes.
There is an unfairness now. One historical wrong was righted by the funding of Catholic schools. But that was in another time, and now, in the ironic name of multicultralism, that era will close.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The economics of fossil-dealing

The thawing of the Russian permafrost is exposing tons of bones of woolly mammoths that were locked in frozen mud for thousands of years. Interestingly, they seem to have been trapped in ice after the glaciers retreated: after the last ice age. Thet means the glaciers retreated, the mammoths lived on unfrozen ground, died and were frozen, then stayed trapped in frozen ground for 10,000 years or so. It kind of fits with my own theory that the climate can change radically within a short period, and that the melt of the glaciers in a very short period of intense warmth was followed by the period of extreme cold in the Arctic that is now coming to an end. The freeze-dried forests and preserved dams of giant beavers on Canada's arctic islands point to that type of change.
Mammoth bones and teeth are interesting, and the sell for a few bucks on the open market for fossils. (And anyone who wants to see that in action should visit the city-wide Tucson, Arizon show in February). The tusks are worth much more, as decorator pieces or, if busted up, as sources of legit natural ivory.
The ivory will alsways be worth money. The market for bones should be sated quite quickly. How many people have the inclination, or the physical space, to have a woolly mammoth or parts there-of around the house. (This comes from a guy who has about a ton of trilobite fossils).
The guys at Canada Fossils have been legally exploiting this Siberian material for years, from even before the fall of the Soviet Union. Since 1990, the trade has really taken off, as this article in a Sydney, Australia, paper shows.

Friday, September 21, 2007

There's one born every...

Sy, you wonder who falls for spam scams? How about this guy:

Man loses thousands in Internet scam

Posted By SCOTT DUNN
Owen Sound Sun-Times

A 50-year-old Northern Bruce Peninsula man lost almost $11,000 in an Internet scam that promised him a "multi-million-dollar inheritance."

He was saved from losing more thanks to a concerned bank teller who stopped him from sending more cash and told him to call police, Bruce Peninsula OPP Const. Dave Meyer said in a news release Friday. The victim received an e-mail in June telling him he was entitled to an inheritance from the United Kingdom. He believed he was paying legitimate fees required to get the money, Meyer said. He did not identify the victim.

"It's surprising," the number of people who fall for scams like these, Meyer said.

"If an inheritance is legitimate, contact would not be made by e-mail," Meyer cautioned people. In this case, the victim believed the inheritance offer was real.

Meyer wasn't certain what gave an air of legitimacy to the scam in the victim's mind.

"E-mail is new for some people. And a lot of people are still under the impression that people are going to be honest and straightforward," he suggested.

Phone Busters, the anti-fraud call centre run by police, says last year 4,197 Canadians lost nearly $24 million in prize, loan and vacation-type scams. Another 7,776 Canadians lost $16.3 million to identity theft and 190 more lost almost $3 million in a Nigerian letter scam, the Phone Buster website says.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Great Moments in Copy Editing

McGuinty defends record in Ontairo leaders' debate

(BTW, who is the genius who scheduled the debate for the same night as the first episode of Survivor?)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The byelection results

The road to a Tory majority starts in Roberval. Small "c" conservative, small "n" nationalist, rural, and wanting a voice in Ottawa. Get candidates with good local connections in similar ridings, and a 1984-style coalition of Western Canadians, small-town Ontario and rural Quebec can be hammered together. But it takes diplomacy, some generosity of spirit and some flexibility, which means there needs to be a change in thinking in the PMO.

Friday, September 14, 2007

One man can make a difference

In 1985, it was a truck driver who let PCBs spill for miles along Highway 17 in northwestern Ontario. His actions focused public attention on the Ontario Tories' failure on the environment and probably was the tipping point in an election that ended 42 years of Tory rule.
In this election, it's Sam Gaultieri. This election may well swing on whether he lives or dies. Right now, it appears he'll make it.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Sweet Jesus

To think I gave serious thought to voting Tory in Ontario for once in my life.

Thnakfully, John Tory has talked me out of it. I wish I had written this column by the National Post's Colby Cosh, not just for the content but for the exquisite phrasing.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Land Fit For Zeroes

Golly, I call the University of Ottawa "the U of Owe" and "The U of Zero", and my wife and I add some $16,000 a year to its tuition coffers. And I call Carleton University "Cartoon U". I hold a genuine Master's degree from there. My wife's a grad of Cow College or U of Goo (the University of Guelph). I dropped out of Rye High (Ryerson) but graduated from the University of Waterloo, which, I don't believe, has a nickname I can print.
I thought it's normal to make running jokes like that.
Look, everyone just take a Valium.
(All prescriptions filled, of course, by grads of U of T, or do I have to spell it out for you?)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Dalty McGuinty will clean your bathroom and walk your dog

The Liberals are pulling out all the stops to win October's provincial election.
Next, they'll promise to allow corner stores to sell beer and wine.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Internet Revolution

Discredited Tory hack / Internet entrepreneur Pierre Bouque likes to make little digs about the Internet (i.e. his news aggregator site) replacing the mainstream media.

Well, here's an analysis of traffic at his site. Notice how page views tumbled after he was outed by the Globe and Mail for selling his headlines. Now, to have real fun, look at the drop in traffic in the past three years. Then compare traffic at Bourque.com with the cbc.ca, theglobeandmail.com and thestar.ca. (The pulpwood products have the added advantage of each having about 400,000 people who shell out dough to read them.)
By the way, check any blog against the MSM. We barely register. But at least most of us aren't pretending to make a living at it.

Hat tip: Winkie

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Good for her

I'll start smoking again when I turn 100.
Some people, like this old gal, live to 100 while putting away a pack a day. Some others peg out at 45 while jogging. Go figure.


Oh, those Russians!

Stalin may have been a murderous psychopath, but it seems his grand-daughter knew how to party, according to the Toronto Sun:

Stalin's granddaughter dead at 69

Truscott

The Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled Steven Truscott should be acquitted based on the way his trial was conducted. It also -- and this is something that will likely not receive headline play in the media -- found that he might well have been guilty. In the court's view, that guilt was not proven. In our society, that's the rule we go by.
The court would have ordered a new trial, but accepted the reality that a complete and fair trial is impossible after the passage of fifty years.
Common sense analysis of the events of the night of the murder and the local geography point to Truscott's guilt. However, I'm a firm believer in the rule of law, and if you're going to convict a 14-year-old and sentence him to hang, you better have him dead to rights.
So, in the end, it might have all worked out. If he did it, he served ten years in jail, which, under today's young offender law, would be more than enough. If he didn't do it, he's got his vindication.
This much we know for sure: For forty years, since he was 24 year old, Steven Truscott ha been a productive and law-abiding citizen. If he made some grievous mistake as a teenager, he's paid for it and proved his rehabilitation. If he didn't, he can at least take comfort from the fact that his case helped end capital punishment in Canada and focussed the country's attention on the issue of crimes commited by juveniles.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Losing is for losers

And where's Conservative Party-sponsored NASCAR Busch League (yes, it's really called that) "Diversity Driver" Pierre Bourque in the Busch League standings?
Click here. Scroll down. Way down. Go into the twenties...
In two summers, Dourqie's never won a race. In fact, he's never placed second. Or third. Or fourth.
So, what exactly did the Tories and the rest of the chumps who paid for their logos to be glued on Dourque's car buy with their sponsorship money?

Gotcha, ya bastards!

Protesters at the Montebello Summit nailed three undercover cops trying to start a riot at a legitimate and peaceful protest.
Apparently, acording to the CBC, photos of the three big, bandana-clad men showed they wore Surete du Quebec-issue combat boots.
A few observations:
1. Again, democracy seems a pretty thin veneer in Quebec.
2. The Surete du Quebec continues to earn its reputation as the nation's goon squad.
3. When will governments and their agents come to grips with the concept of "freedom of speech"?
4. Probably nothing will come of this, even though the film footage that I've linked to is convincing, and should give honest investigators -- if any are handed this case -- a good chance to find out who these cops are and who ordered them to be agents provacateurs.

UPDATE:
The SQ has admitted the "protesters" were their men, but continue to lie about what they were up to. There's no reasonable doubt that those guys -- especially the one with the rock-- were out to make trouble. In a crowd of old union types, Maude Barlow and their supporters, three juiced-up young men in bandanas and combat boots really stood out. Yesterday, and through most of today, the SQ lied by saying they had no one in the crowd of protesters. Today, Stockwell Day said none of that particular group of men were RCMP, but you don't have to parse his weasel words in this story to see that the RCMP quite likely had undercover cops in that crowd. In fact, Day suggests very strongly that they did.
Strangely, much of the mainstream media has been much too silent on this outrageous breach of free speech rights. CP wire service, however, has done a great job on this.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Day 1 -- Working for a living

MONTREAL-- Toronto is be the largest and richest city in Canada and Vancouver is the most physically beautiful, but this town is so cool it hurts.
I made like a rube today, tooling around downtown Montreal, visiting the museums that were open (and, like in some small towns, a lot of things in Montreal, including the Museum of Fine Arts, are closed Mondays). I could spend so much money here. And the people, especially the Francophones, don't have that heavy, leaden anger that you see so often in Toronto and, especially, Ottawa. Maybe people here just don't worry that much about getting ahead (as in Toronto) or hate their jobs (as they do in Ottawa).
The clothes are more chic here. The restaurants have better food. The dollar store off Guy Street is more crowded and sleazy than anything in Ottawa.
Since I'll be here two or three days a week (and the commute on VIA is really no big deal), I made a list of things I'd like to see: the McCord Museum, the previously mentioned fine arts museum, some of the antique shops and galleries on Sherbrooke, all of the book stores that I haven't had time to visit, this place and the museum connected to it, more of Concordia and McGill, St. Joseph's Oratory. And there's quite a lot more (your suggestions will be welcome).
I'm blogging from the waiting room of the downtown VIA station. And I noticed the cheap earphones I bought at the Guy Street dollar store don't work. There's $3 I'll never see again. And since my dog ate my last three pairs, I'll leave these where he can get them.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wonky blogspot software

For some reason, some postings and comments only show up part of the time. Working on it...

Today's prediction

A fall election. If the Bank of Canada tells the PMO that we're heading into a recession, we'll have a very quick election.
The last thing any government needs or wants is to be forced into an election during or just after a recession. Ask John Turner and Kim Campbell.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cabinet shuffle...

Probably my little break has killed off the last of my readership, but who knows?
This is my last day as a full-time freelancer. As of Wednesday, I'm on the full-time faculty of Concordia University's School of Journalism and Communications, where I'll be teaching reporting, media history and criticism.
I'll still be contributing editor of Ottawa magazine, partly because I love them, partly because they pay well, and partly because I want to keep one hand in the media that I'm teaching about.
I'm also hard at work writing the first English-language book on Canada's wartime press censorship system.

The business side of things being taken care of, here's my take on the cabinet shuffle:

Harper's put the last dagger into Peter McKay. There are no votes in Defence in Nova Scotia. And being put in charge of an unpopular war is hardly the way to have one's leadership lamp burnished. McKay will either be consumed by events or by Rick Hillier, the CDS. Either way, he's done. There will be no minister lurking, like Paul Martin under Chretien, in the leadership wings. There is also no second-tier, no John Manley, no Allan Rock. In Diane Ablonczy, however, Harper has found his Sheila Copps.

The second message: Harper may be a policy wonk, but he doesn't care whether his senior ministers develop mastery over their portfolios. Harper has shuffled several ministers who, like Prentice and Strahl, know their departments very well and were doing a good job with important files. No matter. They're moved, and someone else will have to learn the ropes.

Other than that, the exercise is a non-starter that will be forgotten in a few days and will have no impact on the polls.


This is, by far, the bigger story. The tightening of credit is about to shake the Canadian economy -- and Canadian journalism -- to its core.
Remember this, folks: there are only a handful of Canadian media companies that are not over-leveraged and saddled with crippling levels of sub-prime debt. TorStar and the Halifax Herald are OK. GlobeMedia, with Thomson's deep pockets, will also make it, though it will be dismantled into its constituent parts. CanWest survives on junk bonds. (Let's see if the Alliance-Atlantis/CanWest deal closes, as scheduled, tomorrow.) My bet: CanWest will be liquidated, its papers and TV assets sold off at below debt value. Quebecor is also over-leveraged and its media properties are, in the main, garbage. It, too, will be broken up. Ted Rogers once said that he doesn't worry about his debt, his bankers do. Well, everyone's worried now. "Convergence" is over, and a lot of media people are in very big trouble.

This problem will be spread through Canadian business. How heavily leveraged is Onex? Magna? CP? Will the Alcan deal go through? What about the dozens of other major deals built on the back of easy money? Leveraged buy-out and asset stripping is a pyramid scheme. No one can keep it going forever. Ask Conrad Black.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Summer break

I hope my small army of posters, tipsters and readers can hang on through the rest of the month. I'm taking a break.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Conrad Black, Sockpuppet?

There's an allegation that Conrad Black posted nasties on a Yahoo group about Hollinger under the name NSPECTOR, which, if true, is more than a little bizarre to anyone who's poiltically plugged in.
Here's a National Post piece about sock puppetry, Wikipedia and lawsuits for libel. The idea that people can trash people on the Internet and not be subject to the laws of libel (see p. 2) is ridiculous.
I was a party in a brief but nasty libel suit about an Internet posting, and I never took the position that the Internet is immune from libel litigation. In fact, Internet libels are world-wide and they are semi-permanent, since they're all cached.
As for Wikipedia being immune, forget it. In the States, Wikipedia argues that it can't be sued because it's a non-profit. That argument would make publications like the Salvation Army's Watchtower, Scientology's published material and the Walrus magazine immune. I suspect Wikipedia will eventually collapse in a wave of libel suits and threats of litigation. There are too many goofballs, people with grudges, folks with political points to make, and mischief-makers posting on Wikipedia.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Update on the Pasta Man

A dear friend reminds me that the US has a bothersome $10,000 limit (upped a few years back from a measly $5,000 -- perhaps you saw the signs at the airport on your last trip to Florida or the Caribbean) on cash taken in or out of the country without a Customs declaration. When Brian Mulroney collected $100,000 at the Pierre Hotel in New York from Karl Heinz Scrhreiber, the Forrest Gump of political payola, did he declare the money with the US Treasury Dept.?
And did he tell RevCan?
Inquiring minds are really, really curious about this...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

That's a lotta pasta

The story that won't die rises, zombie-like, for another go-round.
Brian Mulroney has been ordered to pay Karl-Heinz Schreiber the $300,000 Schreiber paid Mulroney for supposedly consulting about a non-existent pasta business. And Mulroney must pay over $100,000 in interest.
Strange enough. But the reason this judgment was made is even more bizarre. Mulroney did not respond to Schreiber's statement of claim. Schreiber won by default.
Now, I have two theories (which are shared, to lesser or greater extent, by my legal counsel, who's about to put the kids to bed.
(1.) Mulroney, a lawyer, and Mulroney's lawyer, are incredibly inept; or
(2.) Brian Mulroney would rather lose by default, then try to run the clock for a few years by appealing, than have to stand up in a court of law and explain just what exactly he did, or did not do, for that $300,000.
Take your pick.

Where do I sign up?

Zhenli Ye Gon ran a Mexican pharmaceutical company and siphoned off the makings of crystal meth. Mr. Gon made a lot of money from that racket:






Two observations:

1. He must have made a lot of hillbillies very, very high.
2. I've never seen a better recruiting poster for the drug trade. Can someone send me an application form. Those are US $100 bills -- $206 million worth. I figure I'll have to work an entire year for about 10" off one pile. And at the end of that year, the government will get about four inches, my accomidation costs and ordinary bills will get abot 1 1/2', things like food, clothes, cars, travel and stuff will take almost all the rest. I'll be left, if I'm really lucky, with an inch or so. That means, to match Mr. Gon's stash, I'm going to have to teach and write for a very, very long time.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hot new blog

Kady O'Malley's got the Ottawa blog gig for Maclean's magazine. I think she's going to do very well at it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Things never change

I spent much of the day reading 65-year-old files from the World War II press censors who struggled to keep the anti-semitism of Quebec's quasi-fascist nationalist elite off the air waves and out of the papers.
Today, Quebec's elite is much better coiffed and much more trendy, but the song remains the same. Quebec's socialist, nationalist and Liberal thinking class can blame Israel and pull out all kinds of worn-out excuses, but the more things change, the more they saty the same.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Something you won't see in Canada

The public editor of the Washinton Post explains her paper's policy on conflict of interest and political-journalistic incest. You won't see its columnists shilling for funeral directors, Waste Management Inc. or Ticketmaster. The heavyweights of the US newspaper world have made it clear their journalists will serve but one master. The Washington Post, at least, keeps close watch on potential secret conflicts from personal relationships. This is a touchy issue in Canadian journalism, especially in Ottawa, although most top-tier journalists have enough class to try to do some self-policing.

Great moments in multi-culturalism

A bright young man who happens to be balck applies for a job at Queen's Park as a "media analyst", basically clipping stories from the papers. A government employee with a name quite disimilar to Smith or Jones trashes the guy in an e-mail sent to someone else in the Cabinet Office, which is the Premier's ministry. The former editor-n-chief of the Toronto Star, who's now the Ontario Liberal government's chief PR man (quel suprise!!!!) leaves a voice mail apology on the kid's phone. Very, very classy.
And these are the guys trashing the Conservative Party members of Lanark for nominating a farmers' rights activist, trying to reach reallllly far to tag the Tories as racist.
Go figure.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

How others see us

Robert Fisk, writing in the Independent, about the spinelessness of North American newspapers:


But now let's go north of the border, to the Toronto Globe and Mail, which assigned columnist Jan Wong to investigate a college murder in Montreal last September. Wong is not a greatly loved reporter. A third-generation Canadian, she moved to China during Mao's "cultural revolution" and, in her own words, "snitched on class enemies and did my best to be a good little Maoist."

She later wrote a "Lunch With" series for the Globe in which she acted all sympathetic to interviewee guests to catch them out. "When they relax, that's when their guard is down," she told a college newspaper. "It's a trick, but it's legit." Yuk!

Wong's take on the Montreal Dawson College shooting, however, was more serious. She compared the killer to a half-Algerian Muslim who murdered 14 women in another Montreal college shooting in 1989 and to a Russian immigrant who killed four university colleagues in Montreal in 1992. "In all three cases," she wrote, "the perpetrator was not 'pure laine', the argot for a 'pure' francophone. Elsewhere, to talk of racial purity is repugnant. Not in Quebec."

Painfully true, I'm afraid. Parisians, who speak real French, would never use such an expression - pure laine translates literally as "pure wool" but means "authentic" - but some Montrealers do. Wong, however, had touched a red hot electric wire in "multicultural" Canada. Prime Minister Stephen Harper complained. "Grossly irresponsible," said the man who enthusiastically continued the policy of sending Canadian troops on their suicidal mission to Afghanistan.

The French-Canadian newspaper Le Devoir - can you imagine a British paper selling a single copy if it called itself "Duty"? - published a cartoon of Wong with exaggerated Chinese slanted eyes. Definitely not pure laine for Le Devoir. The hate mail was even more to the point. Some contained excrement.

But then the Globe and Mail ran for cover. Its editor-in-chief, Edward Greenspon, wrote a cowardly column in which he claimed that the offending paragraphs "should have been removed" from her story. "We regret that we allowed these words to get into a reported (sic) article," he sniffled. There had been a breakdown in what he hilariously called "the editorial quality control process".

Now I happen to know a bit about the Globe's "quality control process". Some time ago, I discovered that the paper had reprinted an article of mine from The Independent about the Armenian genocide. But they had tampered with it, altering my word "genocide" to read "tragedy".

The Independent's subscribers promise to make no changes to our reports. But when our syndication folk contacted the Globe, they discovered that the Canadian paper had simply stolen the article. They were made to pay a penalty fee. But as for the censorship of the word "genocide", a female executive explained to The Independent that nothing could be done because the editor responsible had "since left the Globe and Mail".

It's the same old story, isn't it? Censor then whinge, then cut and run. No wonder the bloggers are winning.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Make the Rich Pay

Here's a group that really should be shaken down by the entertainment industry. I mean, really. Hairdressers have to be the most affluent, pampered people around. In what other profession do you get to work on your feet all day, are required to be pleasant, precise and in tune with the latest styles, and make all of $30K a year? The Canadian music copyright collective, SOCAN, wants a piece of that income because hairdressers play music in their salons. Musicians should be ashamed of their royalty agents. Don't they see this is a kind of advertising for their music?

"No cause for alarm"

A few times a year, we drive to my father-in-law's place in the Eastern Townships, and I often go through Montreal to collect fossils in Quebec. I got the creeps on Quebec highways after the Laval bridge collapse that killed five people, including a pregnant woman. The jitters usually went away once I got through the de Carie. Now, seems like I was an optimist.

Sore losers

The beautiful game comes to Toronto.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

McGuinty compassion

I used to write for an editor who had an autistic son. She was a single mother, and, like so many other parents of autistic children, she had to bear the cost when Mike Harris' government refused to fund special ed programs for autistic kids. A neighbour of ours has two autistic sons. She's a single mom on student aid. Her sons are in classes with other neighbourhood kids. He gets no special help. The McGuinty government's response to childhood autism is to literally pretend there's nothing wrong.
It was expected that a Liberal government would fund thos programs, but, instead, the McGuinty government fought a dragged-out court action. Recently, an Ontario court ruled that the government had to disclose the amount of public money its spent fighting the parents of autistic kids. Today, attorney general Michael Bryant, a decent enough guy, announced he will release those figures. Finally, a good decision.

Spector on Afghanistan

The-still-very-much-employed Norman Spector had an interesting column in yesterday's Globe. I believe a negotiated settlement is possible. The Taliban should be included in government, but must renounce bin Laden and terrorism. That might seem like a high price to Mullah Omar now. As more of his men die, he may see it as a reasonable price of peace and political inclusion.

Monday, July 16, 2007

National Post: Voice of the Overdog?

I am not usually a fan of Linda McQuaig, but this piece got me thinking. Was there ever any group or class of people the Post has supported who were not rich, powerful and culturally dominant? The National Post, in its good days, was a fun read, very unpredictable, sometimes infuriating, but with some challenging articles. Its causes, however, were those of its owner, not of its readers. Now, both the owner and the readers are gone, and, if the paper is to survive, it needs to be managed professionally, develop some courage, and become much hungrier for news.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Sad news

Benjamin Books, one of the best used book stores in Ottawa, was set on fire last night. Benjamin Books is owned by a former philosophy prof and staffed by people who actually know about books. It also, because of support from faculty at the nearby University of Ottawa, sells new textbooks.
Hopefully, the store will re-open.
Benjamin Books is one of about four top-end used book dealers in the city. Fortunately (judging by the CBC story), Benjamin's top-end collector inventory appears to have been spared from the fire.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Backing a loser

Next time, the Tories might put their money on someone who's actually skilled.

NASCAR BUSCH LEAGUE STANDINGS
Statistics as of July 4, 2007


Pos Driver Points Starts Wins Top-5 Top-10 Winnings
1. ANDREW RANGER 500 3 1 3 3 $10,605
2. MARK DILLEY 500 3 0 2 3 $11,960
3. PETER GIBBONS 456 3 0 2 2 $5,720
4. RON BEAUCHAMP 455 3 0 1 2 $8,800
5. DON THOMSON 451 3 1 2 2 $8,970
6. D J KENNINGTON 444 3 1 2 2 $12,665
7. JOHN GAUNT 428 3 0 0 2 $5,050
8. DEREK LYNCH 427 3 0 1 3 $5,005
9. J R FITZPATRICK 413 3 0 1 1 $5,370
10. KERRY MICKS 399 3 0 1 2 $4,985
11. JASON HATHAWAY 394 3 0 0 1 $3,720
12. BRAD GRAHAM 378 3 0 0 1 $3,735
13. JOEY MCCOLM 372 3 0 0 2 $4,365
14. DAVE WHITLOCK 360 3 0 0 1 $4,100
15. DOUG BROWN 359 3 0 0 0 $3,245
16. JIM LAPCEVICH 353 3 0 0 1 $3,655
17. RON VAN ES 353 3 0 0 0 $3,375
18. KENT NUHN 350 3 0 0 1 $3,590
19. SCOTT STECKLY 336 3 0 0 0 $3,075
20. JEFF LAPCEVICH 255 2 0 0 1 $2,595
21. BOB MERRIFIELD 209 2 0 0 0 $1,905
22. Bryan Cathcart 179 2 0 0 0 $1,690
23. Miguel Duhamel 130 1 0 0 0 $1,220
24. PIERRE BOURQUE 124 1 0 0 0 $1,135

Black convicted

I should have realized he would be convicted for removing the documents. Looking back on it, that one was a slam dunk. I didn't think Black would be convicted on fraud charges.
As for Boultbee, Atkinson and Kipnis, those are big suprises, especially the last guy. While he filled out the paperwork, he did so as an employee and made nothing from the deals.
Now will come sentencing, bail and years of appeals.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Takin' Out the Trash

This month's Kinsella material, including the ever-popular "The Month in Sleaze" summary of Kinsella's slanders and libels, will be moved to the Kinsella archives page. Visit the site often. It will have about 50 new articles re: Kinsella and Guite, Kinsella's lobbying and the environment, and Kinsella's ever-shifting political loyalties. So check there often! Learn all about the self-styled Prince o' Darkness.

Now here's a fossil...

A spectacular baby mammoth, probably the best ever.

Like a bad hand...

For reasons I've written elsewhere (my Ottawa City Journal column), I believe the Kilrea scandal at Ottawa's city hall is a non-starter. It's not that I believe Larry O'Brien is completely clean and above-board. Far from it. Instead, I think this thing will die a slow death because (a) nothing came of the supposed negotiations. In fact, Kilrea made a real deal with Bob Chiarelli; and (b) it's Kilrea's word against O'Brien's, affidavits and lie detector tests carrying no weight in Canadian courts.
As an impartial member of the jury pool, my take on it is that two pols shooting the shit in an outdoor cafe, and who cook up a plan in which no overt action takes place, are unconvictable.
The Citizen has the only "evidence" in this scandal, and yesterday it stopped all its "freedom of the press" yodeling and handed the stuff over to the OPP. Now, let's see what the cops do with it. My bet: nothing.
Probably the libel suit launched by O'Brien against the Citizen will be the only court action that will come from all this. And handing the "evidence" to the OPP is probably a way for the Citizen to try to derail that lawsuit.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

When "Freedom of Speech" means "freedom to harm"

Last year, I raised the ire of some of my academic colleagues when I wrote an op-ed piece in the Ottawa Citizen arguing Austria was correct to jail holocaust denier David Irving.
Irving's translations of Wehrmacht documents has added to the primary source material available to historians, and he had credibility as a Second World War amateur historian until he adopted the cause of the neo-Nazi movement. It was his credibility that was a threat to the social order. Germany, Austria, and the countries of Eastern Europe are very new democracies. They might not be able to withstand the type of subversion of democracy and the stifling of real political debate that the Nazis accomplished in the lead-up to their seizure of power in Germany. Hitler's henchmen used lies, distortions, dirty tricks and media exposure to subvert democracy. The Nazis pushed their rights to the limit, and past the limit, during the Wiemar Republic. They should not be allowed to do so again.
Canada's neo-Nazi movement is really just a joke, a few damaged individuals, some small groups of losers, and a few jailbirds. The real threat to Canada's Jewish community comes from the Islamicists and from lefties trendoids who have adopted the French socialist view that Israel and Zionism, and Jews themselves, are tools of American capitalism. I have seen far, far more anti-semitism among Francophone intellectuals in Canada and in the Quebec media than I have on the streets. (In this regard, the silence among Canada's politicians and pundits, who were so loud about Jan Wong's musings, has been deafening). There is also a strong current of hate in the media and on the Internet directed at the many decent, law-abiding and community-active Muslims in Canada. Unfortunately, they do not seem to have a David Warman on their side.
Still, the Human Rights Commission has come down with a decision that seems right and fair. A Canadian neo-Nazi is being punished for promoting hate and violence, which are real crimes. And the fine of $4,000, while not crippling, is enough to give others real cause to think about their actions before posting hate on the Internet.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Thought it was a goner

but the cat came back.

One-Man Revolution

My old pal Steve Kaasgaard, a co-founder of the Green Party of Canada, got this piece of mail from Elizabeth May:

----- Original Message -----
From: "Elizabeth May"
To: <23skidoo@ica.net>
Sent: Tuesday, July 03, 2007 11:05 PM
Subject: A Message from Elizabeth May




Dear Friend,

A couple of weeks ago I forwarded you a letter from Farley Mowat. If you did not receive it please *click here* >
to view the letter in full. If you did receive it but have not yet had the opportunity to respond, please consider doing so now.
When Farley approached me he said, "After 83 years with the socialist horde (I didn't join until I was two) I have seen the light. So muster me up, if I pass muster!"
Many of you may believe that the Green Party is well-funded thanks to new Elections Canada financing rules. While the party receives some financial support through these reforms, it is far from financially secure. In fact, with elections every 18 months or so, the Green Party paying off debts from the last election while gearing up for the next one. The party needs a *huge infusion of cash* to take on the old line parties effectively in the next election and to keep your environmental and economic concerns in the public eye.
It is maddening to watch the other parties' willingness to play political games as time runs out to confront the gathering storm of the climate crisis. We face other real crises, from loss of species to threats to the fabric of Canadian life as Mr. Harper moves Canada ever more into the Bush Administration orbit.
The legal maximum political donation is $1,100 per person for the federal party, and an additional $1,100 per person to his or her local EDA. The tax treatment is very favorable. A $400 donation, for example, only costs you $100 after the tax rebate.
I am writing to ask you to *give as much as you can*
and to make your friends aware that the Green Party of Canada must have resources to change Canadian politics forever. So please *tell your friends* , talk to people you meet on the street  the only way that we are going to do this is together.
I am looking forward to participating in the televised Leaders' Debates, but my place at the podium is not assured. We need funding now to keep the party's issues front and centre.
Remember that while the Conservatives boast of $15 million in their war Chest, our Green Hope Chest remains close to empty. The Harper Conservatives will have a War Room and attack ads. The Green Party, on the other hand, is promising a respectful campaign focusing on issues.
I would like to lead that campaign. To bring it to Canadians, those of us who care need to *make our donations today* .

Sincerely,
Elizabeth May, O.C.
Leader, Green Party of Canada

P.S. You can also send a cheque to:
Green Party of Canada
PO Box 997, Station B
Ottawa, ON K1P 5R1


And this is The Rebel's reply:

Greetings!

Having founded this party in the eighties as a volunteer and noticing that "we" have NOW come along way despite your efforts to water down our UN PARTY PARTY! -The Green Party ( now mostly brown) has achieved many great things and garnished enough of the popular vote to be in a situation where the system of governance actually bestows money on us to do MORE OF THAT good work with.
Meanwhile SOME of you wannabeees are taking paycheques! for work we normally did because it was the right thing to do... NOT because we required pay to do the right thing for our communities and the next generation.
You really have no clue and obviously NO class at all turning a once definite threat to status-quo into a wet blanket melba toast fundraising - flowers n' tea shop crew.
The party which we founded in the 80's has been reduced to just another stinkingly normal traditional top down controlled hobby club of wannabee do gooders who if given the chance could accomplish great things if NOT for your lack of imagination and daring.
If you want to MAKE CHANGE ON THE STREETS DON'T GIVE YER MONEY TO THE UNITED WAY OR OTHER 'NICE GUYS GROUP' BUSY stuffing the pockets of their friends...give it to the homeless folks on the streets or to those waiting at the food banks.
And if ya want to save the environment...keep it in your pocket and spend it accordingly so that it does not further the destruction we have going on in front of us.
The greens sadly are now just browns and just another stinkingly normal party that only wants our money and nothing else. That's all we get in the mail and its what you've reduced our efforts to. It's being noticed by the press and by our colleagues who inquire as to what kinda shit the greens have become with this kind of hierarchy now in violation of our original intents and purposes.A most unworthy lot that takes AND TAKES AND TAKES money from good working people who trusted GREENS as that original party we once founded as a doorway to a new age of hope for a logical and inclusive democratic system.
Fuck U clowns!
Your circus is parked on top of our hard work!

Sincerely;

Steven Kaasgaard
Green Party of Canada Co-founder 1981



The Rebel's e-mail points up the interesting historic fact of the early Green Party brawl (in Europe and Canada) between decentralists, who wanted a party that was quite anarchistic, without any hierarchy, and engaged in civil disobedience, and the centralists who quickly realized the Greens could be a player in the established political system.
Federal funding under Jean Chretien's campaign financing reform gave the Greens the money to hire professional organizers, buy ads, have an office, and even pay its leader. (All political parties pay their leaders. Few leaders' salaries are disclosed).
So the centralists, the people who are tagged as opportunists by traditionalists such as Steve, have won control of the Green Party. So my question to today's Green Party: How do you re-engage people like the Rebel, who bring enthusiasm to your cause, but don't always talk nice?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Getting closer

The RCMP just searched the house of Sponsorship kickback racket central character Jacques Corriveau. This scandal, and the criminal fall-out from it, is far from over. Eventually, those who designed and profitted from the crooked ad system will be held to account.

Sad day

Bad news from Afghanistan.

Loose Lips

I see Frank Mag's eFrank pay-per-view news page is outing its sources/ discussion forum posters again.
Another reason why you should never, ever trust Michael Bate and Steve Collins.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Doesn't Tim watch Little Mosque on the Prairie?

My friend Tim Naumetz wrote recently about the CBC's overload of non-Canadian content. It was picked up by the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.
I agree with more Canadian content.
But I despise Rick Mercer, Corner Gas, Little Mosque on the Prairie, and so much of the rest of the network crap.
But then, I despise US network TV, too. I barely watch any of it. I prefer Showcase, movie channels, and US shows on the Comedy Network (Stewart and Colbert).
Why do North American TV networks believe viewers are socially disfunctional or just plain stupid? Why are all the shows that are pitched to half-bright adults on cable? Don't the networks see that their programming decisions are the cause of their decline?
And what's with The History Channel? It hasn't shown anything historical since the Aspers bought it. If they hate history, why don't they must sell the damn station to people who actually enjoy it?

Liberals in the Dumpster

Ipsos says the Ontario Liberals are now just three points ahead of the Tories and sinking. Dalton McGuinty was unavailable for comment because he was too busy co-ordinating a dynamic provincial response to Native blockades of railways and highways in Deseronto and northern Ontario.

Leap of Logic Award

If people are going to race on Ontario's expressways, why in the world does the Toronto Star, the city of Hamilton's police chief and some safety group think photo radar will stop it?
I travelled more than 300 miles on Highways 401 and 416 this weekend. There were plenty of police vehicles and speed traps. Photo radar was just another type of speed trap. And if people are going to do something as stupid as street racing on Highway 400, do you think the chance they might get a speeding ticket will be any deterrent?

Update: The idea's already dead. Even Ontario's tax-hungry premier admits it's a non-starter.

Monday, July 02, 2007

On the take

In his 1992 book Sound and Fury, American writer Eric Alterman took aim at the double standard of the punditocracy. While decrying conflict of interest in business and politics, many of the top journalists in the country were accepting very high fees for speaking to annual meetings of corporations, conventions and gatherings of lobbyists. The same thing goes on in Canada, where some senior journalists pull down thousands of dollars for an evening's appearance and sell their services to the government as guest speakers at public administration conferences. And that doesn't even begin to cover the monkey business that some freelance columnists are into. The New York times recently issued this statement saying its people are clean. Very few large Canadian publications could do the same without some serious rebellion at the top of the journalism hierarchy.

Friday, June 29, 2007

We're in it for the pork

At least the Ontario Liberals are honest about something, when they think there are no reporters in the room.
Vote Tory. Vote NDP. Kick 'em out.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

So, were you confused by the Black trial coverage?

I was. I believe Black will walk, and I've said it here several times. If I'd covered the trial, I would have tried to purge that thought from my mind and tried to listen to the trail as the jury heard it. That way, I would have been able to answer the big question: who won?
But that's not how the trial was covered. Those journalists who adored Black wrote pieces that are supportive of Black but not particularly insightful in terms of the trial itself. There are those, like Rosie DiManno of the Star, who despise Black, and mocked Black and his wife for being in the grim situation in which they find themselves. They did a poor job of covering the trial.
Only Theresa Tedesco, a skilled business reporter, did a decent job of trial coverage. I get the impression from her work that she expects Black to be found guilty on several counts and his co-accused to walk.
Time magazine has a piece on its web site about Black's media supporters. There is more, of course, to this story, as Time left out the Black haters. Still, it's a good piece.

Trouble in Midland

Back in my old home town, a small Catholic hospital is merging with a much larger general hospital. The upshot? The new, amalgamated hospital will be a Catholic institution. No more birth control counselling, morning-after pills, vasectomies, tubal ligations and abortions.
Seems to be OK with lots of the movers and shakers there, and the holy rollers. "Some services" will no longer be provided.
My question: How would the good people of small-town Ontario react if it was conservative Muslim values being imposed on the majority, rather than conservative Catholic values? The end result for women in the Midland area would be the same.

Get it straight, folks

Last year, everyone and their dog jumped on Jan Wong for saying an underlying current of racism in Quebec society alienates many non-Francophone youths. The Quebec legislature, the House of Commons, the Prime Minister all leapt like trout to win a few votes at Wong's expense. But where are all these good people when Quebec's Jewish community is portrayed, in three major newspapers, with stereotypes that haven't been used since the Volkischer Beobachter was shut down?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

42 months

That's what kickback artist Jean Lafleur got for his role in the Chretien Liberals' adscam racket.
Hopefully he'll be joined by many more of his colleagues, those in the ad trade and those who, in their role as well-paid public servants, designed this rip-off.

July 20 Plotters

Someone should make a movie on World War II hero Klaus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg. But that someone should not be Tom Cruise.
Von Stauffenberg, like so many of the July 20 plotters and the members of Helmut von Moltke's Kreisau Group were devout Roman Catholics who saw Nazism as abhorrent. I think they would have seen Cruise and his cult the same way.

Warren Kinsella: The Month in Libel and Slander

Since Kinsella kills off his pages at the end of the month, here's a summary of the June, 2007 disgrace to journalism and politics. It will be placed on the Kinsella archives page at the end of the month as part of an ongoing series.

June 28: Kinsella tries to smear Ontario auditor Andre Marin for reporting that the McGuinty government (which employed Kinsella on the atempted lottery scandal cover-up) does not deliver on its promises.

June 24: As part of his ongoing smear of Paul Martin and Martin's advisers, Kinsella compares the new British PM to Paul Martin. Brown, he says, did not call Tony Blair a criminal or launch a judicial inquiry into Blair's affairs, as Martin did with Jean Chretien. Unsaid, of course, was the fact that Blair wasn't caught presiding over a regime engaged in a kickback racket.

June 22: Numbnuts accuses Tory leader John Tory of promising to fund "a segregated school system, a promise worth $500 million". Kinsella neglects to say he sends his kids to a Catholic school.

June 19, 2007 - Numbnuts crows with delight at the resignation of CBC News honcho Tony Burman. Kinsella hates Burman for fighting Kinsella's smear of Ottawa correspondent Keith Boag. Burman also wrote a letter to the National Post denouncing Kinsella's journalistic atrocities.


June 18, 2007 – Kinsella tries to raise money for blogger Steve Janke, who is being sued by the Earnscliffe consulting group for repeating some of Kinsella's libels of the company.

June 18, 2007 - Kinsella takes an off-the-wall cheap shot at Small Dead Animals blogger Kate MacMillan, accusing her of being a Tory shill.

June 18, 2007 - Kinsella continues a smear campaign against Rogers. Ontario Conservative leader John Tory is formerly CEO of Rogers and is still on the board.

June 14, 2007 - Kinsella crows that he's been interviewed by Toronto Life for what he things is a smear piece on John Tory. Kinsella says he became angry with Tory when Tory accepted the nomination of Lanark farm activist Randy Hiller (this spring). Kinsella, however, has been smearing and slagging Tory for years, despite working for him in the 2004 Toronto mayoralty election.

June 9, 2007 – Kinsella denounces the "despicable decision of some MPs to haul a sick Jean Pelletier back before a House of Commons standing committee", failing to mention that the committee did so because Pelletier appears to have concocted several divergent stories regarding the sponsorship racket.

June 6, 2007 – Kinsella posted this piece of disfunctional thinking: "From yesterday, spotted by the always-amazing Oracle. Someone over at PCO is interested in this space, seems. Means they’re interested in a certain Ottawa company, too, I suspect.

Memo to certain Ottawa company: you’re going to have to kill me to shut me up."

June 4, 2007 – Kinsella attacks Maclean’s Chris Selley and tried to force him out of his job. Selley's sin? He didn't ask Kinsella to post on Maclean's new blog page.

June 4, 2007 - Kinsella tries to blame John Tory, former CEO of Rogers, for the fact his Blackberry doesn't work.

June 1, 2007 - Kinsella tries to defend the fact he's a lobbyist/columnist/political advisor and tries to do a drive-by smear on Antonia Zerbisias of the Toronto Star.

June 1, 2007 - Kinsella tries to tag John Tory with guilt from the shooting of Dudley George.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Xipie Totec works in mysterious ways...

I've spent the past couple of weeks reading every word about the U-boat war on the east coast in the records of the Censorship Branch. Then, Friday afternoon, I strike up a conversation with the guy sitting across from me. Turns out he's one of the country's best naval historians, and he's writing a book on the U-boat attacks in the St. Lawrence.
As the Japanese balloon bombers (who've also been the focus of my attentions) would say: Banzai!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Friday, June 15, 2007

News drought

Not many posts lately. Not much new. I'm excited about what I'm learning about censorship of news of the U-boat war on the East Coast in WWII, but I bet you're not.
In a few months, my thesis will be done and defended, and I'll be teaching and writing political commentary. The light at the end of the tunnel is definitely in sight. But, for most of the rest of the summer, I'll be pawing through the censorship records and writing. There won't be many posts.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wicked parody site

Someone has come up with this wicked parody of Rebecca Eckler's writing. Beautiful subtle work. It makes her seem so vapid.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

City Journal Column

A New Generation Gap

I got the first jolt last year, when a university student asked me what the Cold War was.
I thought I was dealing with someone who’d been born on Mars. Perhaps alien robot students in need of programming had arrived on campus. Then I did the math. The Cold War ended in 1989. The student was about 18. He was too young to remember it.
Since then, no one had clearly explained it to him. I did my best.
A friend of mine who works at the Penetanguishene hospital for dangerous psychiatric patients told me a story about a guy who’d been locked up for about 50 years. The authorities decided to free him, so staff decided to take him on a few field trips to get him accustomed to the world of the 1970s.
They took him to Toronto and drove him down Yonge Street. He took a look around at the cars and the high buildings and asked “where did all the horses go?”
In many ways, most people my age, especially those in the media, are on the far side of a new generation gap. Our media is full of cultural references that are lost on today’s kids. The 20-year-old of today must have been baffled by the “Katrina and the Waves” references in so many headlines and stories about the storm that hit New Orleans. The band broke up ten years ago and hasn’t had a hit in North America since 1989.
That’s the year that most of the kids coming into university this fall were born.
They don’t get overworked media references to Humphrey Bogart, the Three Stooges, Top Gun, Saturday Night Fever, Dirty Harry or the Graduate. The Beatles is just another band, one that doesn’t get radio time. The music of their parents is played on Oldies stations or “sampled” in hip-hop tunes.
Their first political memories are of a time when Jean Chretien was prime minister and Bill Clinton was president. Brian Mulroney is someone they’ve vaguely heard about. So is Ronald Reagan. Pierre Trudeau is someone from the textbooks.
Mentioning Watergate brings on the same blank stares as talk of the Teapot Dome or Sky Shops scandals. In fact, tagging every scandal with “gate” – say, Shawinigate – is no longer quaint, it’s a sign of age.
They’re too young to remember the first space shuttle disaster. In fact, they were only 11 years old when terrorists attacked New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001. They’ve grown up in a world dominated politically by George Bush Jr. and economically by Google and Microsoft.
In this world view, terror has always been the enemy. Iran has always been run by ayatollahs, China has always been a big supplier to WalMart, and Cuba is just a seedy vacation spot.
In this world, North Americans have finally conquered their old enemy, distance. The Internet has always been a click away. Long distance phone calls are cheap, web camming and instant messaging is free.
Today’s first-year student has no idea of a world without hundreds of TV channels, no concept of a transistor radio, and has never felt the freedom of being unplugged from the world.
If from European backgrounds, they come from families that are who are three generations removed from World War II. If they are from non-European backgrounds, Hitler is just another dictator. The Vietnam War, hippies and all the rest are just something that old people talk about.
My childhood political memories are of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. A race riot engulfed my great-grandmother’s neighborhood in a Detroit suburb in the 1960s.
I remember Trudeaumania because I saw Trudeau speak in the 1968 campaign. I was a space freak who followed the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo flights and tuned out when Skylab made space flight routine. Somehow, I’ve moved from being in the generational mainstream to being some sort of vessel of historical data.
Ottawa talk radio host Lowell Green likes to ask kids who call his show questions about the St. Lawrence Seaway. Most of the kids don’t seem to know that it’s the water route from the Atlantic to the Great Lakes. The old codgers who listen to his show get a chuckle, not realizing that shifting trade patterns have made the Seaway – finished in 1957 – redundant.
The chance of a modern Ottawa high school grad ever traveling on it, or using it for shipping, is minimal. It means as much to them as the Erie Canal or the Dortmund-Ems Canal.
This morning, I went to a choir recital at my kids’ school. One song was introduced as “an old song, from the 1960s”. The parents, many of whom, like me, had their children late in life, snickered.
The kids didn’t get the joke.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Incouragible

and unrepentent.
And, Jean, Parliament is a court. If there's any justice, you'll be tried at the bar of the House of Commons, where you'll learn just how much of a court it can be.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Canadians don't like attack politics

...and Harper's attack ads that foolishly blamed Staphane Dion for the failure of the Tory Senate reform bill have backfired.
Cheri DiNovo is 102.

Liberal purgatory

L. Ian MacDonald analyzes the numbers in Quebec and finds the Liberals are in very deep trouble in Dion's home province. The Conservatives and Bloc are doing very well in ridings that went ADQ in the Quebec provincial election as the shake-out and sorting of the nationalists into left-wing and right-wing parties continues. As for the die-hard Anglo vote on the West Island, there's some unsettling news for Dion there, too.

Highway Bill v. Harper

We used to call him "Highway Bill" because he opposed a toll road on an important stretch of highway in the Maritimes. Bill Casey is as nice a guy as you'll ever meet in Ottawa. He works hard, has lots of friends, and stands up for his constituents and his region.
I don't agree with Atlantic Canadians who argue gas and oil revenues should not be taken into account when calculating equalization payments. Like Highway Bill, I do believe the Maritimes deserve a better deal.
Here's why.
In 1905, the federal government created the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. At that time, there were important changes to provincial boundaries. The two districts that became provinces extended only about half way to their present northern boundaries. The rest of what is now Alberta and Saskatchewan was federal Crown land. At that time, Manitoba was also much smaller than it is now. Ontario's northern boundary was the Albany River. Quebec's was, essentially, the height of land between the Hudson Bay and St. Lawrence watersheds.
The federal government transferred vast areas to Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. The land includes many of Alberta's oil fields and all of the tar sands; Saskatchewan's metal deposits; the Thompson nickel deposits, the Pas, and the port of Churchill in Manitoba; much of Ontario's gold mining area and all of its diamond prospects; much of Quebec's mineral wealth and all of the James Bay Hydro resources. The three Maritime provinces got nothing and lost their share of the benefits of ownership of this federal Crown land.
So control of, and profits from, the offshore should go to Atlantic Canada. But leave equalization out of it, unless we're prepared to leave Alberta oil and Ontario industry out, too.
Bill Casey is paying a big price for his stance. Hopefully, he can still effectively serve his constituents, either here or in Nova Scotia.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The McWimpy Liberals in Action

Dulltone McWimpy campaigns against Oilcan Ernie Eves in 2003, and accuses him of being a nasty brute for fighting the demands of parents of autistic kids for more education support.
Dulltone McWimpy wins the election.
What does Dulltone do?
Well, guess. C'mon. Imagine what a soul-less government, one that has some of Canada's slimiest people lurking behind the curtains, would do. What would a group of douchebags and psychopaths with control of the provincial treasury do to parents of handicapped kids who are demanding provincial funding for education of their kids?
Bleed 'em dry in court, of course. And spend lots of taxpayers' money doing it.

Join the Club

I recently became aware of a bright young blogger. Once I get around to setting up links, he'll be near the top.

I see Kinsella's taken a shine to him. Chris' life is about to become very strange. I know mine has: the trolling on my blog; the weirdness on Facebook by Kinsella and his friend; the regular threats of litigation; the lies on Kinsella's masturbatory blog; malicious material posted about me (and others) on his self-authored Wikipedia page; inclusion on the Enemies List page, with bizarre lies about involvement with white supremacists and an incredible libel that somehow I've been "investigated" by the Press Gallery; weird threats posted under anonymous names at groups like Franksters, where Kinsella, posting as Boldface, has threatened to send salacious material to my employers.

Yup. This guy is a political strategy advisor to the premier of my province. He is involved in Native land claims negotiations for my federal government. He is the "media critic" for the National Post.
And he does all this crap with impunity and without the slightest sign of conscience or remorse, as though it's his God-Given right to trample anyone who gets in the way.
Then he calls you crazy.
Welcome to the monkey house, Chris.

UPDATE


There's something seriously wrong with Kinsella. Here's his blog post today:



June 07
June 6, 2007 – From yesterday, spotted by the always-amazing Oracle. Someone over at PCO is interested in this space, seems. Means they’re interested in a certain Ottawa company, too, I suspect.

Memo to certain Ottawa company: you’re going to have to kill me to shut me up.

...

VISITOR ANALYSIS
Referring Link http://www.warrenkinsella.com/musings.htm
Host Name smail1.commissions.gc.ca
IP Address 69.157.213.27 [Label IP Address]
Country Canada
Region Ontario
City Ottawa
ISP Privy Council Office
Returning Visits 1
Visit Length 1 min 46 secs

VISITOR SYSTEM SPECS
Browser MSIE 6.0
Operating System Windows XP
Resolution 1024x768
Javascript Enabled

...

Monday, June 04, 2007

Whyte on Black

The Americans are getting a look at our incestuous little newspaper business -- as though any of them would care. Ken Whyte is one of the Canadian journalists who think Conrad Black was a positive force in Canadian journalism. The prosecution didn't call anti-Black journalists, but there certainly wouldn't have been any trouble finding any. Every journalist in Canada in the late 1990s had to make a decision: whether to seek employment at the National Post, or stay with their old job. At the time, it seemed as though the issue was whether to stick with the status quo or join the parvenu. Little did we know, but the status quo was waiting to reclaim the print business, and the Black ascendancy was but a short-lived thing. For one brief blip, there was some life in Canadian newspapers before the slide began anew.
Black improved the moribund Ottawa Citizen and the Vancouver Sun, at the very least. The National Post, in its day, was the most interesting and arguably the best newspaper in Canada under Black. It put one last bit of wind in the sails of the industry. Black was much harder on small-town papers. Osprey, the company that bought the Kingston Whig Standard and the former Thomson papers in Ontario, effectively destroyed serious journalism outside the major cities of southern Ontario. Under Osprey, five-person newspapers became one-reporter operations. The pages were filled with press releases and tame coverage provided by hobbyist freelancers. Real estate and presses were sold, printing was contracted out. Century-old newspapers survived in name only, with one "editor" responsible for putting out two or more papers that were once award-winning, vibrant publications. Circulation plummeted, and the freebie papers took over the markets.
So who's to blame?
I still argue Conrad Black isn't. Thomson and Southam were on the block. Black simply bought their papers. Then he started the National Post. Unlike the Aspers and Osprey's owners, Black wanted to own some good newspapers that did some digging and broke some stories.
How long has Black been out of the newspaper business in Ontario? About five years? And are the papers any better? The answer is obvious.
So, if Black's crime is avarice, take a look around. Who was the last person to sink any money into the print media in Canada? Who was the last person to seek out talent?
Last week, Osprey was sold to Quebecor, the company that's been squeezing the Sun chain like a bunch of grapes. Every day that passes, it becomes more difficult to believe that Black deserves the hatred that's been heaped on him by so many Canadian journalists.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Cop chases

One of my best stories as a newspaper reporter involved the cover-up of the details of a mishandled police chase. Still, I'd love to know what alternatives police have when a 15-year-old kid goes roaring by them in a stolen high-performance car. Toronto councillor Howard Moscoe says the police are to blame for last night's police chase fatalities in north Toronto. I think that's a ridculously simplistic explanation for a complex tragedy.

Update:
I see McWimpy has joined the pile-on. How pathetic.
Even if the cops are dead wrong on this, politicians should have waited for the details.

UPDATE (June 5):
The police version, which has specifics such as the location of cruisers vs. the position of the stolen car, underscores who the politicians were fools to speak beforfe knowing the facts.

I believe

My wife and I did something last night that we've never done together: watched a hockey game. We did it with the deck doors wide open. Every time Ottawa scored, we hit the "mute" button and listened to the cheers and horns honking. It was a great experience. I'd seen small parts of the previous games and thought Ottawa was out-gunned. Last night, I changed my mind. Ottawa dominated Anaheim, and when the Ducks tried to push them around, Ottawa pushed back. Can Ottawa win the Stanley Cup? Yup. But they have to get their minds to the right place. They were there last night, but they'll have to win some games in Anaheim.
I had soured on hockey while watching the Leafs during the Sittler-Macdonald goon years. The hockey was sloppy. The constant whistles and delays were annoying and made the games long and boring.
BTW, I don't think Don Cherry looks very well at all.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Fun With Fascists


Here's my old pal the Shawinigan Strangler with Suharto, tagged by the CIA as being responsible for one of the greatest genocides of the 20th century.

I found it on the 'net today and felt the urge to share it, just to remind folks just how "liberal" the Liberals are.

Sponsorship Liars

This could be good. Maybe, with the threat of jail for contempt, some memories might be jogged and tongues might be loosened.

Having Fun. Wish You Were Here

Arnie left Ottawa with two souvenirs: a mitt full of $15 Cubanos, and this. All the news coverage was focused on The Governator's Green policy. But it's the movie business that has the bucks in California, and Arnie delivered for them. Not, by the way, that I support idiots making movie knock-offs, but copyright powers, and IP issues in general, are big industrial sticking points, and may well cause a break between the West and China.

Catch of the Day


This is a Hemiarges paulianus, a 440-million-year-old trilobite from suburban Ottawa that I found four years ago. It's finally been prepped out of the shale-limestone that it was partially buried in.
Since 99.999% of the people who read the blog aren't trilophiles, here's why this piece is, to me, so cool. It's probably the best one ever found. The typical fossils of this type of trilobite are dime-sized and look like they were run over by a truck. This one's fat, 3D, hard-shelled and about three times as big as the normal examples of the species.
So what's it worth? To the few thousand people in the world who collect trilobites the way other geeks collect stamps, coins and Pokemon cards, having the best one of any type of bug is worth something, usually up in the five figures. This one will end up in the Royal Ontario Museum, so, I suppose, it belongs to all of us. These are some of the other pieces in my collection.
I found it on blasted rock in a limestone quarry. One day later, and it would have been crushed into gravel and would be part of the roadbed of the Highway 417 extension.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Why political reporters need history lessons

This is an update of an earlier post on the Quebec budget stand-off. The first version, with comments, is farther down. As I predicted, there's been a compromise on the budget. Still, I'm surprised how many people who are paid to understand Parliamentary procedure don't understand it, or have no grip on ths history involved and no ability or desire to do some basic reading before sounding off.

I heard this a few times yesterday on the CBC and in the Quebec media: the idea that, in 1985, the Ontario Liberals assumed office because the Lieutenant Governor preferred to ask them to do so, rather than call an election.
That was not the case.
The 1985 election, (which began with a Tory majority government under new leader Frank Miller, inherited from Bill Davis) ended with the Conservatives having the most seats, the Liberals following quite closely, and a strong NDP contingent. The Liberals actually polled 1% more votes than the Tories and were just 4 seats short of tying them. The Liberals and NDP reached a very public written accord that they would, at the first opportunity, vote non-confidence in the Tory government and, they expected, the Liberals would be asked to form a government. The NDP promised to support the Liberals in the legislature in return for the passage of some elements of the NDP election platform. This agreement was made before the recall of the Ontario legislature. Miller, to his credit, quickly called the legislature, expecting his government to fall. He brought down a very voter-friendly budget, which was, as planned, defeated.
Now, the kicker, the fact that everyone gets wrong.
Miller went to the Lieutenant Government, submitted his resignation, and told the Lieutenant Governor that he expected the Liberals to be asked to form a government. Miller did not, as in the case of Mackenzie King and Lord Byng in 1925, ask for an election. Miller probably did not do so because the Conservative support had collapsed very precipitously in the last weeks of the campaign, and the party was financially tapped out by a hard-fought leadership race the previous winter. The Ontario Lieutenant Governor used no real discretion in the matter. He followed the very public will and the expectations of all parties in the legislature. The transfer of power went off as planned and expected.
But that's not how it's explained here and in many other Quebec media.
Thompson and Bauch also don't understand the King-Byng Affair.
King lost the 1925 election (Libs 100; Tories, 115, Progressives 22). Acting within his rights, he decided to face Parliament rather than resign. King expected to be supported by the Progressives. This support did not, because of several scandals, materialize. Rather than resign and let the real winner of the election attempt to form a minority government, King succeeded in placing the Governor General in a politically irritating situation. Arthur Meighen, who had actually won the election was, in King's ploy, to be denied the right to govern. Byng, by, in effect, doing the right thing of offering the leader of the party that had, by some 15%, won the most seats, a chance to face Parliament, was cast as a meddling Imperialist. Meighen was given his due, did try to form a government, and was defeated. At the same time, King and the press cast Meighen as an opportunist, again ignoring the fact that Meighen had won the election and both a moral and legal right to try to govern. It would be interesting to see the reaction of the press in 2007 if the Liberals won (extrapolated to the present size of the House of Commons) 30 more MPs than the Harper Tories and Harper somehow manipulated them out of a chancew to form a minority government.
King's version of this complex series of events -- that the democratic will of Canadians was thwarted by a colonial official when King's request for an election was turned down -- won him the subsequent election and is obviously still entrenched in Canada's media.
If Charest's budget is defeated (very much an unlikelihood, I believe. No one seems to consider the idea of a compromised, revised budget, which is the sensible outcome), Charest will almost certainly get an election if he wants one. The ADQ is nowhere near having the type of mandate David Peterson had in 1985 or Arthur Meighen won in 1925. There's no way it will, or should, form a government without facing the voters.

Update: Here's a far better analysis of the political situation in Quebec. Graeme Hamilton of the National Post understands the Ontario power transfer of 1985 and has the good sense not to bring up King-Byng. I'd add just one thing: a warning to Pauline Marois. Take a look at the post-coronation poll numbers of John Turner, Kim Campbell, Paul Martin and even Stockwell Day before you act too quickly.

UPDATE (June 1): I thought L. Ian Macdonald understood the 1985 Ontario precendent. Looks like I was wrong.

Just to refresh: The Ontario Lieutenant Governor invited the Liberals to form a government because Tory premier Frank Miller asked him to. If Miller had asked for an election, he would have got one. Miller did not ask for an election because he knew he'd lose.