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+.