Monday, April 30, 2007

This week in the buggywhip trade...

Newspaper circulation in the US takes another kick in the teeth.

In Canada, it's almost as bad, with the National Post in freefall. The Post has lost 10% of its readers in the past six months. The rest of the country's newspapers have shown slight rises and drops in circulation. It will be interesting to see, in the next set of ABC numbers, readers' reactions to the re-designed Globe, and whether the hostile verdict of the pundits it will have any impact on the plans for a re-design of the Toronto Star.
Another interesting note: the Journal de Quebec, which posted the largest ciculation gains of any Canadian daily, is now locked in a very nasty labour dispute between its union and Quebecor.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Urban Sprawl

This looks like a very interesting movie. Jay Teitel has written a lot on Canadian suburbia. We're going to look back in a generation and wonder why we built the cities we did. The "reformers" of the 1970s opposed high-rise and density growth in the downtown core. They played into the hands of developers, land speculators and the huge highway construction lobby that has grown rich on Canada's urban sprawl. Our suburbs are cold, ugly, and very unsuited to raising kids, especially teens.

HT to This Magazine's film club's electronic newsletter.

Let's go fishin'

Today's European carbon villain: the earthworm.

Don't feel sorry for him...

He won't remember.

Justin Time update

Congratulations to him for winning the nomination. He might actually be able to go the distance, but Montreal does not like celebrity parachute candidates. Ask Marc Garneau, the charismatic astronaut, who would have made a great MP but was defeated by some no-name separatist in the 2006 election.

Anyway, credit where it's due: Trudeau got his people out, they got the vote out, and the kid's in the race.

I love this quote, from today's CBC story on Justin Trudeau:

"I wouldn't be my father's son if I expected anything to be handed to me. I've always worked for everything I've ever had in my life," he said.

Pierre did, in fact, have the extra kick of inheriting the bulk of his father's money. Jos Trudeau, defying the myth that Francophone Quebecois were kept out of business enterprises by those nasty Anglos and Jews (btw, one of my cousins, four times removed, founded a bank in Montreal in the mid-19th century... go figure), made millions in the Depression in the gasoline business. Pierre inherited the equivalent of hundreds of millions. All that money, with compounded interest (Pierre was a notorious cheapskate) was passed on to Trudeau's surviving sons and daughter.
Justin Trudeau seems like a personable, semi-bright guy. He also strikes me as quite kind-hearted, like his mother. I doubt he really has any connection to the ruthless liars who claim, on the Internet, to be his friend. Unfortunately, Trudeau is really disconnected from the rest of us, and he seems to have the maturity of a 20-year-old. His brother Alexandre... now, there's the Trudeau who inherited the brains.

The sign says it all

Fantino's wrong

I remember a time when police arrested lawbreakers and stayed out of politics. These days, OPP commissioner Julian Fantino's got the cops' role reversed.

Canada's Worst Columnist

This fall, I'll be teaching a course on column and editorial writing. Recently, a Liberal hack wrote on his worthless blog that Tom Korski, one of the smartest people I've ever met, is Canada's worst columnist. (For the 99.999% of Canadians who don't know Tom's work, he's a columnist for the low-circulation Ottawa Hill Times, a must-read on Parliament Hill, but with no appreciable readership south of Laurier Street). That would definitely come as a surprise to anyone who reads the offerings of Charles Adler, Warren Kinsella, Scott Reid, Steve Madeley, Sheila Copps, Jane Taber, and a host of other really, really bad columnists. You may be surprised by my pick. She's predictable, her columns are poorly structured, they're way over-long, pedantic, condescending, and she has an ugly, mean streak.

Today's class act

Hard to beat this guy. Maybe that's a poor choice of words. He could use a swift kick in the ass, and, I suspect, a cop or a fellow prisoner's already given him one.

How could Canada not know?

The Toronto Star's Thomas Walkom makes a good point. Why would Canadians expect Afghanistan, a fourth-rate, third-world hellhole with absolutely no tradition of rule of law or human rights, to not manhandle and torture prisoners? I would have been surprised if they didn't. What was the right solution? Probably we should hold them in a stockade in Afghanistan, but what about the long term? Most likely, and properly, Afghanistan will develop a government that represents everyone, including the large religious fundamentalist bloc in the country. That can only happen if the Taliban cuts al Quada loose. I don't know why that offer hasn't been made publicly by Karzai and NATO leaders.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Canada's sleaziest pol

This is typical Dalton McGuinty behavior, and it's part of the reason why the Tories and some Dippers will be getting my financial and blog support this fall:

McGuinty, Tory spar over premier's suggestion that opposition criticism of immigrant-aid grants racially motivated



Apr 28, 2007 04:30 AM

Rob Ferguson
Queen's Park Bureau (Toronto Star)


It's not the kind of publicity a budding MPP needs.

As he seeks the Liberal nomination for the new riding of Richmond Hill in the Oct. 10 provincial election, nuclear safety expert Reza Moridi finds himself stuck in the "slush fund" scandal dominating Ontario politics.

Moridi was a key figure in the Iranian-Canadian Community Centre that got a $200,000 immigrant aid grant 13 months ago from embattled Citizenship and Immigration Minister Mike Colle.

It was one of $32 million in such capital grants given to 110 agencies in the last two years by Colle without, by his own admission, a formal application process.

That prompted opposition charges that some grants were steered to Liberal-friendly groups – and a suggestion from Premier Dalton McGuinty the opposition attacks were racially motivated.

"I think really what's at the heart of this is that we have ... yet another negative outburst on the part of opposition. We see diversity in Ontario very differently," McGuinty said yesterday.

Asked repeatedly whether that meant the Tories and NDP are "racist," McGuinty said: "I'll let Ontarians draw their own conclusions."

In a statement later last night, McGuinty apologized for not directly answering the question.

"I should have done so. And the answer is `no,'" McGuinty said. "I regret any misunderstanding this may have caused."

But Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory said earlier that "for (McGuinty) to play a race card ... is beneath the office he holds. He should be embarrassed for himself if that's how he has to score cheap political points."

Tory says "the real issue here is the handing out of any taxpayers' money without any process whatsoever."

The Toronto Star's Ian Urquhart tackles the issue here. The piece is pretty good, except for the last paragraph. Ian, how can the McGuinty's public image suffer without that image being a factor in the next election?

The Liberals knew about torture allegations

Two things come out of this. The Liberals knew what was going on when they made this agreement in the dying days of the Martin government; and Foreign Affairs officials are very busy covering their asses.


Torture in Afghanistan: the liberals knew

Joel-Denis Bellavance
LaPresse

Ottawa

The old liberal government was warned by Canadian diplomats stationed in Kabul, in 2003, 2004 and 2005, that torture was a current practice in Afghan prisons.

In spite of these warnings, the Martin government decided to sign an agreement with the Karzaï government, in December 2005, to deliver to the Afghan authorities all the prisoners captured by the Canadian soldiers, reveal documents of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs obtained by the LaPresse.

Between 2002 and 2005, Canada gave the Americans the Afghan prisoners suspected of having bonds with the Taliban. But Ottawa decided to negotiate a prisoner transfer agreement with Afghan authorities, following the controversy caused by ill treatment of prisoners neld by the US at Guantánamo,Cuba, and the tortures inflicted on prisoners by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib, Iraq.

The Canadian soldiers started to transfer prisoners to the Afghan authorities in December, 2005. The documents obtained by LaPresse are annual reports prepared by Canadian diplomats. They paint a general picture of the situation in Afghanistan, in particular the progress recorded on human rights and in the creation of democratic institutions...

Black will walk

Dig through the very lousy reporting and the editorialising in this piece, and you'll see that Black's non-competes were approved by Hollinger's audit committee. Near the bottom, way, way deep and down, you'll see that Kravitz signed off on them. In a very obtuse way, Kravtiz -- and the reporter -- offer up Kravitz' explanation: she didn't read them. What they don't say: she was paid to read them.
These charges are all about whether Black followed the rules, not about whether he was a good publisher. And, while he probably never really had any respect for the rules, and very little concern for the reasons behind them, Black appears to have covered his ass. Maybe he covered it better than Kravitz covered hers, though, Lord knows, she tries awfully hard.

Reckless banking

Wasn't this the kind of behaviour that killed Baring's Bank?

Friday, April 27, 2007

A Good Little Soldier

Man, does this ever stink. At Gomery, Lafleur couldn't remember anything. He took responsibility for absolutely nothing. Now he's copped a plea on $1.5 million worth of frauds.
My bet: somewhere out there, a bagman has a stash and is looking after those who, like Lafleur, who keep their mouths shut. There really is no other explanation for Lafleur's fast guilty plea, and the fact that not one single Sponsorship figure turned Crown witness.

Silver-tongued devil

George McGovern takes the hide off Dick Cheney and the rest of the chickenhawks. Whether or not you agree with his politics, McGovern exploits the raw nerve of Cheney and Bush's lack of service in Vietnam with the deftness of Sir Lawrence Olivier's character in Marathon Man.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Coming soon to a remainder bin near you

Wouldn't it be something if the old crook actually, for once, told the truth?
Na. We'll never live to see that. Chretien probably doesn't even tell the truth to himself.
I wonder who's ghosting it?

I'm willing to make a few bets on this book.
I'll give $50 to the (no kill) Aylmer Humane Society for each one of these words if they're found in the index:

Dingwall
Gomery
Sponsorship
Corriveau
Gagliano
Auberge Grande-Mere
BDC
Guite
gun registry
Kinsella
Flag Day
Bill Clennett

Feel free to share yours. I'm going to enable comments so even anonymous people and our troll can add to the list.

Today's news

Woman Bites Dog

Today's Dionspeak

Note, too, the ruthless objectivity of the questioner, a member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery. This exchange from today's post-Question Period scrum in the foyer of the House of Commons:


Question:
Mr. Dion, these stories that the Prime Minister keeps changing every single day. Now apparently we have access to these prisoners and apparently the Human Rights Commission is backtracking on what it said earlier to the Globe and Mail. What is going on here?

The Hon. Stéphane Dion:
I think the government is inventing one after the other stories and it's a disgrace on this so important topic. Now the last story, if I understand well, is that the Minister of Security said that it's, it's Corrections Canada that is monitoring the situation of the detainees that we have a responsibility for, and since weeks and months. So why we had all the questions. And why not the Minister of Defence yesterday at the committee didn't say so? He said he has an agreement, a new agreement and now we know it's not true.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Blame the parents

Maybe this boy wouldn't be in so much trouble if his father hadn't been such a terrorist scumbag. Canada's sleaziest Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, helped spring Khadr Sr, an al Qaeda bagman, from a Pakistani jail. Now young Omar is the last of the Fighting Khadrs (one brother took a pass on the family terrorism business; Omar's other brother and father were killed by American forces and Omar, then 15, was taken alive. He was later allegedly involved in the murder of a jail guard in Afghanistan before being shipped to Guantanamo), and he's going to face an American court. It's sad that a father would take his son down this path and ruin his life. Omar Khadr had a real chance. He could have lived a peaceful and happy life in Canada. His father had other plans.

Close counts

in horseshoes and, er, hand grenades. It doesn't count in Commons votes.
Now that we're in for the long haul, what constitutes victory? Is a stable Afghan regime, one not dominated by the Taliban, the target? Is capturing bin Laden the objective?
It's time for NATO and the Canadian government to set and enunciate some war aims.

It's life, Jim, but not as we know it...

Could this be the fabled Klingon home world?
HT: Drudge

Letting him down easy

I'll put this through the Journalese BS translator: Justin's about to get his ass handed to him by some political pros.

Deja vu all over again

Looks like the McWimpy Liberals have their own version of the corrupt Chretien administration's sponsorship/Lolly for Liberals program.
Why am I not surprised?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sad news

David Halberstam, the brilliant writer and historian, has been killed in a car accident. Very few writers have understood journalism and politics so well.

Quarries and such

I bet the Soviets had quarries. In fact, I know they did. And when they were finished with them, they used many of them as toxic waste dumps.
That said, I don't know why the CBC thinks six Communists protesting at Queen's Park is worth a story on its web site. Some of the Mohawks -- and that group apparently doesn't ionclude the chief and band council -- have an issue with the government and, it appears, with the owner of the Deseronto quarry. There are also poverty-related problems in Canadian Indian reserves. Does that mean the Mohawks' problems would be solved by destroying capitalism? I doubt it. And, judging from what I've seen at Akwasasne, Kahnasatake,and Deseronto, I bet most of the Mohawks doubt it, too.

Curing what ails ya


I have a freakishly busy schedule. My wife is writing law exams. Our kids have a million things on the go. My cousin Dan in Tillsonburg sent me the cure:

At least he's still alive

Better late than never, I suppose.

Today's propaganda moment

I'm not surprised that Boris Yeltsin is dead. He made it to 76, which is pretty old for a guy who nuked his liver with vodka all his adult life. He hasn't been a political threat to anyone since he left office.
The National Post doesn't seem to agree. Here , just below the picture, is a link headline that suggests Yetsin was murdered. The words "prove it" rapidly come to mind.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Credit Canada

Kevin Meyers, who writes on military affairs for the Sunday Telegraph, wrote a piece about Canada that's inspireed a few people, inlcuding my mom, who sent me a link to the article.

This week's annoying error

The idea is great. The location is wrong. The building design, from what I've seen, is ghastly. And the Canadian Museum for Human Rights will not be the first museum national museum outside the National Capital Region. That distinction belongs to the Canadian Railway Museum in Montreal.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Deseronto

It was kind of a trade secret, but I suppose it doesn't matter anymore. The Deseronto quarry that's now occupied by the Mohawks was one of the more productive secret localities for my fossil buddies and me. We collected quite a few nice trilobites, starfish, and other very cool 450 million-year old invertebrates there. The owner of the quarry is a decent enough guy. I don't know how he and the Mohawks at the nearby reserve got into this fight. Last fall, when the quarry -- which is relatively new -- was occupied by the Mohawks, the leaders of the protest were quoted saying the trouble was connected to a condo development that was buying gravel from the quarry. The occupation was supposed to put pressure on the condo developer by squeezing his suppliers. Now, the Mohawks say they own the property outright. I doubt very much this quarry will ever be worked again. The operator owns a couple of more within a few kilometres, and far enough from the Mohawk community that an occupation is unlikely. The blockade of the main line of the CNR happened just up the road from the quarry.
The same area -- in fact, that particular road -- was the focus of a very long fight between non-Native rural residents, the town of Napanee, the province and Waste Management Inc. over the expansion of the local dump. It's about four kilometres north of the quarry, on the other side of Highway 401. For years, there was an old bus in a field near the Deseronto Road-401 cutoff that was painted "Napanee: Dump City".
I hope to get down there in the next few days and find out what this is really about. I think it's much more likely to escalate than it is to be settled.

Venus with a .38

Recently, some thieves were caught at a Kentucky tobbaco farm loading stolen equipment onto a truck. They were confronted by a woman packing a .38. She ran them off the farm, then shot out a wheel on their truck. One of the men was arrested.
Probably this happens all the time. The crooks, though, will always remember they were busted by Miss America. And not any Miss America. This one has really lived a life.

The power of blogs



The top line (gold) is CBC.ca.
The middle line (blue) is thestar.ca (Toronto Star).

The blur along the bottom is Smalldeadanimals.com, warrenkinsella.com and bourque.com.

My blog barely registers.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Great moments in headline writing

In today's Globe. Do you think it's left/right or top/bottom? And whatever side is the women's, I bet it's stuck doing most of the housework.

Censorship

One of the points that I argued in my PhD thesis was that the type of censorship we had in World War II could not exist today. The Canadian system relied on journalists to police themselves to prevent information useful to the enemy from making it into print or over the radio airwaves. The censorship system told the media what not to publish. The media obliged partly because they knew that they would not be beaten on a story because everyone followed the rules. Sometimes the system failed, but, for the most part, it worked pretty well. It helped that most people, especially in English Canada, believed in the necessity of all of society working together to wage total war. Television, satellites, photocopiers and the Internet have so vastly widened the pool of "publishers" that an elitist system like the World War II censorship mechanism cannot work today. At the same time, journalism is continually being cheapened, journalists are losing credibility and respect, and the formal industry of journalism is in very deep trouble.
I don't know if this would have been published in the past. In peacetime, there's no solid legal justification for suppressing this kind of material. There used to be issues of morality. People would argue that it was wrong to give this man the "victory" of having his image and his message dominate the story of the massacre at Virginia Tech. A journalist, publication or broadcaster that used the material might have been shunned by the people, and by their colleagues. Today, there is no morality. There are only numbers. Or, at least, that's what media managers think. And maybe the numbers will be high at NBC. Maybe they believe the public had the right to know what this man sent. In the end, though, it is another blow to journalism.

Follow-up

Seems they've figured that out. But it's too late and, I suspect, they know it.
And shame on the newspapers that ran the posing gunman pictures on their front page. That, too, will cost the journalism profession.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Nyuk, nyuk

Canadians just aren't very funny people... except, I guess, for all the comics that bee-lined it to the States rather than audition for Air Farce and Little Mosque on the Prairie. In print, Canadians are excruciatingly unfunny. Name one consistently funny newspaper columnist (though, I suppose, how can you keep a sense of humour and work on a Canadian newspaper?). Our magazines, even the one(s) that are supposed to be funny, are pretty grim, too. Today, the Leacock Award judges re-affirmed the lame state of Canadian humour.

Today's Dionspeak

Question:
Mr. Dion, what do you make of Bert Brown -- of the prime minister saying that he would appoint Bert Brown to the Senate?

Hon. Stéphane Dion:
Well, I hope he will not appoint him minister in addition of it. I think it's the worst of two worlds because in the current system you choose the best person. I'm not sure the prime minister chose the best person. And he cannot claim that it's a democratic process. Really it's an election that came a very long time ago. And besides what the prime minister wants to do to have an elected Senate when the relationship between the House and the Senate, the dispute settlement mechanism it does not exist, would be another big mistake, another big mismanagement. And also it's so unfair for Alberta to have an elected Senate because Alberta has only six
senators today and less than New Brunswick who has 10 senators and they are three to four times less numerous than Alberta. As long as you don't have elected senators and senators know that they need to not play fully their roles it's okay for Alberta. The very moment elected -- senators are elected, guess what? They want to be reelected. And they will use all the powers and the fact that Alberta has only six senators then will become very unfair. This prime minister may come from Alberta but he is not working for the interests of Albertans.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Today's Dionspeak

(Someone has finally got through to him to make his sentences shorter. The old run-on sentences used to make my day.)

Question:
Does what happened in Virginia rekindle the argument over, you know, the gun control? This government wants to get rid of the long gun registry.

The Hon. Stéphane Dion:
I'm ready to speak about the necessity to have the gun registry. I'm just
(inaudible) to insist too much about the event of (inaudible) to justify it. It's a policy that, on which we believe very strongly as you know. The, all the specifics will show that the big difference between the criminality rates in the United States and in Canada is about gun crime. So we need to have a strong gun control in Canada. But I don't want to use the event of yesterday to, to start the debate because you know that it's our policy since a long time. And we, we asked to the government to take that into account.

Virginia Tech

I'm still flabbergasted by the massacre at Virginia Tech. There's such an obvious pattern: the angry young man; the coldness of his appearance and actions during the massacre; the narcissistic lack of any kind of compassion for the victims; the determination to drive the body count as high as possible; the suicide that ended the massacre and denied any of the closure that might come from an explanation of the inexplicable.
Hannah Arendt wrote convincingly of the banality of evil, of how evil is not some sort of "out there" anomaly, but within most of us in some measure. In societies where people do not respect the rule of law and the rights of each other, this evil surfaces. In Nazi Germany, as Arendt points out, there was no shortage of banal, evil people to work for the Gestapo, run the concentration camps, to handle the loot stolen from the Jews, and to exploit and terrorize the occupied countries.
As of early Tuesday, there were no details about the Virginia Tech killer, but, if the pattern holds, he was young. He was angry, but not overtly so, and didn't draw much attention to himself. In short, he was relatively "normal". And, since there have been been about 100 "school shootings" in modern history, he has become "normal", or, at least, typical of the kind of man who does this kind of thing.

The five-percenters

Jim Flaherty is wrong on this. Back in Opposition, the Tories used to say so. Now, they've pretty much gone native. Ottawa does that to people.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Horror

This is the first story since Sept. 11, 2001, to take my breath away.

Straw poll

The Vancouver Sun takes the hide off the Tories for hiring a former Parti Quebecois cabinet minister to investigate Chretien-era Liberal polling practices. Nearly a week after the announcement, it's still hard to see it as anything more than a partisan attack on the hapless and struggling Liberals during the run-up to an election. The choice of investigator is both puzzling and absurd. It's an even more strange appointment than choosing the rather lame judge Gomery to investigate the sponsorship ad kickback scandal. In times like those, the feds should reach across the country and hire someone from the West or Atlantic Canada to run an inquiry, rather than choose people who move in the same political and social circles as the people they are investigating.
Meanwhile, convicted fraud artiste Chuck Guite is appealing his prison sentence.

Free advice

Just because you have a cottage somewhere, don't try to convince yourself that you're not a parachute candidate.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The value of anonymous sources

Every day, anonymous sources are quoted in political stories in Canadian newspapers. You don't know who they are, what position they are to know anything, what axe they're grinding. They are the tool of lazy reporters. And these people use lazy reporters to manipulate the news. Today, the Toronto Star's Robert Benzies gets burned by an anonymous Liberal source.
Here is the truth.
Really, in all, a nothing story. The only damage done is to Benzies and the Star's credibility.
A good example of why you don't go with a story unless you have it nailed down from someone who knows what they're talking about and is willing to put their good name to the quote. As for Benzies, he might want to cull his Rolodex.

See no evil...

Well, you can stick a fork in the RCMP pension scandal. Anyone who follows securities regulation in Canada or, like me, has relatives who work at the TSE, knows what a joke this is.

The Red Green Show

The alliance between the Liberals and Greens continues to build. This time, the Liberals are declining to run a candidate againts Elizabeth May in Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough. And, by doing so, they're foregoing the chance to run someone against Peter McKay, who holds the riding. The Liberals placed a far third in the riding in 2006, behind a dynamic NDP candidate from St. Francis Xavier University.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Yes, we should probe incestuous relations between lobbysists and government

No, we should not employ enemies of Canadian unity to do those investigations. Surely there are smart, independent forensic accountants out there who will work for $1000 a day.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Liberals... a parable

My old pa's a saint. Yup, a real relic of ages gone by.
Anyway, he tells a story (not as from the point of view of a participant, mind you) of what really, really, really bad boys did back in the Depression. Now, this was a crueler age, a time of BB guns, .22s and firecrackers. Really, really bad boys (and don't get any ideas here, kids, there's laws against this kind of stuff) used to grab a couple of tomcats, take them out to the barn, and tie ten feet or so of strong twine to their tails. Then they'd suspend the cats belly-to-belly from a beam and watch the resulting show (it toughened the lads for the later struggle against Hitler, possibly). The cats would do very, very nasty things to each other in their vain attempts to escape.
And that, to me, is a fitting analogy of the Chretien-Martin "feud", except, instead of two cats, there's dozens of miserable tomcats dangling.
It really doesn't seem like quality entertainment to me. The strange thing is, some of them seem to enjoy it.

Belinda, we hardly knew ya

Today's announcement by Belinda Stronach, coming after announcements by former prime minister Paul Martin, former defence minister and interim Liberal leader Bill Graham, former trade minister Jim Peterson, and deputy House Leader Lucienne Robillard, and former solicitor general Andy Scott that they aren't running, tells me something. The Liberals don't believe they're coming back to power anytime soon.

More police investigations... keep 'em coming

This is interesting news.
This needs to be a wide-ranging investigation that will either clear, or convict, all of the pollsters and ministers of the Chretien-Martin years. Harper, too, better make sure his own house is in order. And it needs to be looked into at the provincial level, especially at Queen's Park.

UPDATE
This investigation becomes more bizarre by the minute. The parameters are good: going back to the Mulroney years, and including a pretty wide swath of the corrupt Chretien regime, as well as Paul Martin's finance department. But really, was a separatist ex-politician the most qualified person in Canada to handle the investigation?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Today's dumb idea

Banning municipal representatives from running for higher office.
First, it's a gross invasion of their rights. Second, many people in legislatures and Parliament cut their political teeth on municipal councils.
Maybe they should take a leave of absence during the campaign, but that's as far as I'd go.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Quebec City and the week ahead

This week, if I have time, I'm making a trip to Quebec City. I'll be visiting the place where my family settled in 1670, at Charlesbourg, just north of the city. Part of the actual property -- the Bourret relatives sold it off in the 1930s -- is now a quarry that produces lovely black trilobites. I'll make the trip early Friday, or maybe even slip away on Thursday.
The weather is supposed to be in the 15 degree range Friday and Saturday, which will be a relief after the nasty cold weather this weekend.
As well, sometime this week, I'll quietly scope out my new university digs. I'm looking forward to having some office space to put some of the books that I'll be using for teaching, but I won't be able to actually move stuff in until August. I'll also have some room for some old pictures that were acquiring dust in this house, and, of course, some large fossils.
Tomorrow, I have to deal with the plagiarised papers. Apparently, we have an advisory office for this kind of stuff.
Then, I wrap up my freelance work for the spring and summer, except for a very little bit of stuff that I've promised various editors.

Kinsella and the OLG

I've moved the Ontario Lottery and Gaming scandal and cover-up material to http://mdbourrie.googlepages.com/kinsellaarchives. That way, it joins the other Kinsella information in a "one stop shop" for anyone who needs it. It also delouses my blog somewhat.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Today's CBC silliness:Justin Time

The CBC web site has two pictures of federal Liberal candidate Justin Trudeau in his role of Talbot Papineau in the Copse's show about Vimy. I know the story of Talbot Papineau, the bi-cultural scion of one of Quebec's great familes (He was descended from the family of rebel leader Louis-Joseph Papineau and was closely related to Quebec natinalist Henri Bourassa). Talbot Papineau, who was killed in the Paschendaele battle, was believed to have a great future ahead of him. He was viewed by some people of is day, and after his death, as possible Prime Minister material, a sort of French Canadian Willy King.
I don't know why the CBC cast Trudeau in this role. Maybe they couldn't find a real actor. Was Ben Mulroney not interested? Perhaps they thought the Trudeau name would generate some public interest in the film. I suspect, though, the producers believe history may sort of repeat itself. Trudeau II, I suspect, sees himself as sort of a Talbot Papineau, except for the part where he has a close encounter with an artillery shell. Or perhaps not. Maybe he just did it for fun. It's hard to know how much Trudeau nostaligia is cultivated by Justin, and how much of it is thrust upon him by people who can't imagine life without Pierre Trudeau and need a new Pierre.
The whole thing is icky. Talbot Papineau deserved to have his part played straight. Trudeau, who could be on the campaign trail in a couple of weeks -- and whose political ambitions were certainly no secret to the folks at CBC -- gets exposure that few other candidates get. And the CBC continues its slavish worship of all things Trudeau, linking the Trudeau name to Vimy.
There's a picture of Trudeau II on the CBC web site illustrating a section on descendants of Vimy soldiers. Trudeau II didn't have ancestors at Vimy. But those little connections eventually get hard-wired into the public mind. Justin Trudeau the War Hero... now, there's an image I thought I'd never see.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

This week in Wikipedia

I'm sitting here looking a term paper that worth 50% of the grade for the course I'm TA'ing. It's taken almost verbatim off Wikipedia. It's footnoted. The footnotes all say Wikipedia. It's not dishonest as much as it is really, really dumb.
What to do?
There isn't enough time for a re-write.
The student really deserves absolutely nothing for the paper, so it should be a course failure.
It's plagiarism, of sorts, but it's not plagiarism, in the sense that the element of uncredited theft isn't there.
I will give it some thought over the weekend. I suppose, too, I'll need to talk about this with a few other people.

Friday, April 06, 2007

My idea of fun

The perfect vacation: sailing through the Greek Islands on one of those honking big cruise ships, and, along the way, sitting in a lifeboat and watching the huge bugger sink.

The Ethics Commissioner

Democracy Watch makes some good points about the departing Ethics Commissioner, Bernard Shapiro. Under the Chretien and Martin Liberals, the "Ethics Counsellor" and, later, the Ethics Commissioner, were a running joke in Ottawa. The Liberals would be exposed in some piece of sleaze and almost automatically "cleared" of any wrongdoing by these Liberal-appointed lapdogs.
Here's the link to Democracy Watch's statement about Shapiro's resignation, with a list of his failings and a demand that he does not get a severance payment.

Attack ads

I've been closely following the discussions in the media on the Tories' pre-election ad campaign. I'm no big fan of attack ads. They make you look desperate and mean. My bet is that the actual campaign will be pretty mild, if the polls and focus groups show Dion has been tagged as a wimp in the public mind. The Liberals will try to scare voters into believing Harper has a hidden agenda, which may be a tough sell. They'd also be smart to tailor their campaign to the suburban vote, or they risk losing the 905 and the similar ridings in the Montreal area.
I keep hearing commentators say the pre-election ad campaign is a first for Canada. That's wrong. The Reform Party advertised as much as it could afford before the 1993 election and had tough radio spots before the 1997 election.
The Ontario Tories lottery ad is a bit whiny, but it gets the point across. Lotteries are a sucker bet anyway. Still, it reminds people that McGuinty's first instinct is, invariably, to go negative and bring in his smear merchants. In this case, he brought in hacks to try to dsicredit the CBC's "fifth estate" report and didn't act until the Ombudsman raked the OLG and government over the coals. Whether or not the rest of the Liberal brain trust will have learned from the DiNovo fiasco (they tried to smear a United church minister in a Pardale-High Park by-election and lost a seat they could have won) and the lottery cover-up mess should be made clear in the next few months.

Happy Easter

I wish I could do something about the weather. Here in Ottawa, there's light snow and it's well below freezing. My in-laws are at their place in the Eastern Townships, where, I suspect, they're getting nailed. They got three feet of snow when we had less than one foot here.
I wish I could go somewhere, but my wife is tied down, preparing for her exams. I have a five-inch stack of term papers to mark.
These last few days, I've been thinking a lot about teaching. Starting next September, I'll be teaching undergrads and grad students, and teaching a course that attracts students from various disciplines. The classes will be much smaller than I'm used to as a TA in these big U of Ottawa survey courses. I'm already pawing through my books to see what might be useful.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

My life

Well, my life as a freelancer is over. I was hired as a full-time prof today, teaching undergraduates and graduate students. I start in September.
Certainly one of the more interesting days of my life.
I love to teach. I suppose it runs in the family. The position will also be an interesting soap box, which I intend to use to the fullest.
This is the culmination of a long, long journey. First, I left school when I was in my early twenties to work for a paper. There were quite a few reasons for that, some that make sense now, some that don't. When I was in my late twenties, I began taking courses to finish my BA in history: two courses a term, three terms a year. I finished my BA when I was 33. Then I did a diploma in public policy and administration at the University of Guelph. Then, at 40, I started my Master's in journalism. In my mid-40s, I started my PhD in history. I believed it was important to combine these two areas of study. I never took my eye off the puck.
Along the way, I did other things: wrote for papers and magazines. And I wrote a bunch of books.
So this is a new adventure. I intend to teach and comment on media, politics, and the ways they inter-relate. As well, I'll write straight history and academic articles. University teaching will take up the bulk of my time after September, but I also will write op-ed pieces, my column, and for the Ottawa magazine.
I need to spend the next few months fixing and revising my thesis, which is on the censorship system in Canada in World War II.
The next big change for this family will come when my wife finishes law school. She's doing research for the school this summer and is working as an editor on the law review next year.
It's been a tough grind, but it's finally paying off.

All I can say is

WOW.

Double, triple WOW.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Why aren't you dead yet?

This is just sick.

Can you forward the cheques to Heaven?

More than sixty years after the end of World War II, verterans are getting a Bill of Rights. After World War II, Canadian vets had a pretty good benefits plan. it was nothing like today's, but it was far better than the post World War I policies that radicalized many vets.
I'm leary of pols who make promises that are linked with media events like the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. This is an "event" that is far over-blown, as there are no surviving Vimy vets, and the centennial of Vimy is only ten years away. This is the 140th year of Confederation, too. Should we break out the champagne, dust off Expo and start building swimming pools and fountains in every duckburg?
I don't agree that Vimy "forged" a nation. There's far too great a leap between World War I and the Statute of Westminster of 1931 for someone to make the argument that Canada gained political independence from its participation in the war. The claim that people began self-identifying as Canadians after Vimy is pretty ludicrous, too. The shift away from Britishness began during World War II, especially after the Ogdensburg and Hyde Park meetings. The post-war immigration wave and the Liberal policies of the early 1960s were the final set of factors in de-linking us from the UK. But to really understand Canadian independence, you have to look at the liquidation of British investment in North America during World War I and especially World War II, the views on Empire of the various Labour governments, and the British decision, in the late 1950s, to end Imperial preference and seek an accomidation with the European Common Market. Diefenbaker wanted to keep the old Empire trading system, but the British said no. So, with the Brits having no desire to interfere in our political and defence affairs or to invest and trade with us, we were as much cut loose as we were successful in winning independence.

Warren, Warren, Warren

A couple of points:

The fact the OLG and its advisors denied elderly, sick Mr. Edmonds his apology until the day he died and put the guy through a legal wringer, and so have some responsibility for his suffering, is lost on you. Most people get it.

The fact that your obit of "Uncle Donald" was yet another of your self-congratulation exercises, rather than a real tribute to the guy, was the point of the mockery. Most people get that, too.

I know that people with your disease don't understand how people with empathy think. These points may help you.

BTW, Warren, I'd post this on your comments page, but you're too chickenshit to have one, so I'll ask this here:

Did you call Cheri DiNovo "Cheri DiNutso" to her face when you were at TVO the other day? How about some of those dandy things you've written about Kathy Shaidle? Did you repeat them when she was close enough to you to slap your face?

I somehow doubt it.

Update: The Prince o' Darkness changed his blog this morning to remove my reminder to him that Mr. Edmonds had passed on. Seems he's decided not to refresh the public's memory of his role in the ongoing lottery scandal cover-up.
Now, he's fallen back on his usual libels.
Great spin job, Warren. Truly textbook material.

Monday, April 02, 2007

So very, very sad...

Man who sparked probe of Ontario lottery agency dies
Last Updated: Monday, April 2, 2007 | 6:33 PM ET
CBC News

A man who launched a legal battle that exposed the problems within Ontario's lottery agency died Monday at 83 — only three days after getting a letter of apology from the corporation.

Bob Edmonds, who lived about 100 kilometres northeast of Toronto in Coboconk, succumbed to cancer in hospital after a long battle with the disease — before getting his hands on the letter delivered Friday by the government-owned Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

"Although he knew about the letter before he passed away, he never got to read it," Edmonds's lawyer, Alan Rachlin, told CBC News.

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(He might have had the apology in November if the lottery corporation and the government hadn't decided to tough out the CBC TV expose on his case, rather than do the right thing by apologizing, settling up and cleaning house at the OLG.
I suspect the McGuinty government is taking a long, hard look at their "low road" brand of communications strategy after this, and the disaster in Parkdale-High Park, where they tried to smear a United Church minister)
Her's a link to the CBC story, with a picture of the poor old victim. At least the province is finally paying his legal fees. I wonder how many sales the OLG has lost. Here's a link to a timeline showing the trouble for Edmonds began in 2001, but peaked in 2005. The Ontario government, mainly during the McGuinty regime, spent about $450,000 on legal fees in this case. Great PR, guys!

This week in corporate welfare

Looks like Bombardier collects from any party in power.
I remember when at least one political party opposed this kind of raid on the treasury.

Today's smear

When they whack you in the New York Post, you're good and whacked.

Hmm... so much for a day off

Some things worth noting:
(1) The announcement comes while the House of Commons is on a break, after a six-week stretch. How about that?
(2) The ad people seem to be prosecuted with some vigour. Chuck Guite seems to have taken the bullet fo the Liberal team, while the political operatives are barely touched.
(3) No one's ever done a thorough investigation to see if this kind of kickback scheme existed in other parts of the country, and/or was/is the norm in the government ad trade.



Former ad man charged with fraud over sponsorship scandal
Monday, April 2, 2007
12:25 PM ET
CBC News

An arrest warrant has been issued for former advertising executive Jean Lafleur, one of the key figures in the federal sponsorship scandal, who is facing fraud charges in relation to the program.

Quebec provincial police issued an arrest warrant Friday for Jean Lafleur, a former advertising executive accused of fraud in the sponsorship scandal, who is believed out of the country.

A warrant for his arrest was filed in Montreal Friday by Quebec provincial police. He is believed to be out of the country.

News of the charges comes as former advertising executive Jacques Paradis, accused of fraud in connection with the federal sponsorship scandal, goes on trial in a Montreal courtroom.

The sponsorship scandal — in which ad executives admitted paying millions of dollars in kickbacks to the Liberals' Quebec wing in return for lucrative federal sponsorship contracts — devastated the Liberal party in Quebec and ultimately helped drive the Liberals out of power in the 2006 federal election.

A number of people involved in the sponsorship program have been found guilty and sentenced to jail for their role in the scandal.

Day off

Looks like a slow news day anyway. My son's off school, so we're hanging around the house, puttering and watching Pokemon.