Monday, June 28, 2010

G-20 violence

If you build it, they will come.
The outcome was as predictable as a math equation: use the G-20 leaders as bait in the center of the country's largest city, deploy thousands of excited cops, many of them completely unfamiliar with the city -- or any large city -- in riot gear after psyching them up for months. Then the usual crowd of lawful protesters, lawless anarchists, shit disturbers, bored people will, of course, show up. Toss in lots of live TV coverage, with panting, delighted commentators, to ensure that everyone plays their part.
It happens at summits all the time. That's why we should have known it would happen in Toronto.
Leaders from countries that don't have Canada's civil rights must get an interesting lesson. Democracy, they are told through the actions of the government, is a veneer. When the chips are down -- and not by much -- democracies like Canada must suspend civil rights, crack down on public dissent, and keep leaders away from the people.
I'm not sure that's the lesson we really wanted to give the Saudis, the Indonesians and Chinese, but actions speak louder than words. We just showed them that democratic states are not "weak," but we also told them that Canada sees mass arrests, riot cops and rubber bullets as "go to" tactics at a relatively low level of provocation.
The events this weekend were part of the polarization of Canada into "ins" and "outs". Toronto, the great Tory whipping boy, known in every cornfield and duckburg as a great center of decadence filled with sketchy people and bad attitude, was thoroughly scourged this weekend. I found it symbolic that the worst trouble was at Queen and Spadina, Toronto's trendiest neighbourhood, the epicenter of the city's arts and media culture.
Anyone with any knowledge of how these things work would have, must have, seen it coming. So, in effect, this is what they wanted.
Stephen Harper left Toronto with a deal that frames his plans to cut the federal budget into a plan by the major countries of the world to cut their deficits. When he brings down tough restraint budget next spring and sparks an election, he will be able to go to the people saying the cuts are mandated by the G-20.
Meanwhile, the people of Canada learned that all the nice trappings of the state -- Question Period silliness, Canada Day pap, royal visits, HST rebate cheques -- are the velvet gloves of modern governments.
This weekend, we saw the fist.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ici on parle Francaise

From the Senate Committee on Official Languages. It seems Francophones are doing OK when it comes to Senate committee memberships and flak jobs:

“Some federal institutions have been slow to act because they do not fully understand the scope of their duties. We would like to emphasize that the entire federal government is responsible for taking positive measures and that a failure to comply with this obligation can now be taken to a court. Our former colleague Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier, now deceased, fought tirelessly to bring a change in attitude within federal institutions. That is why he laboured to amend the Act in 2005,” stated Senator Maria Chaput, committee chair.

For her part, the committee’s deputy chair, Senator Andrée Champagne, added: “While some institutions showed initiative and originality in implementing Part VII, it is our view that the government must provide more guidance to federal institutions, and must do so in a way that makes Parliament’s intent clear. Our observations and recommendations have one purpose alone: to honour the commitment made by the Parliament of Canada in November 2005.”
The report is entitled “Implementation of Part VII of the Official Languages Act: We can still do better” and is based on evidence gathered since May 28, 2007. The committee held 34 meetings and heard from 53 witnesses over the course of this study.
Members of the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages include the Honourable Senators Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu (La Salle – Québec), Andrée Champagne, P.C. (Grandville – Québec), Maria Chaput (Manitoba), Pierre De Bané, P.C. (De la Vallière – Québec), Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis (Rougemont – Québec), Rose-Marie Losier-Cool (Tracadie – New Brunswick), Michel Rivard (Les Laurentides – Québec), Judith Seidman (De la Durantaye – Québec), and Claudette Tardif (Alberta).

The full report including recommendations is available on the committee’s website at: http://senate-senat.ca/ol-lo-e.asp.
- 30 -

For information please contact:
Francine Pressault
Media Relations
613-944-4075 or 1-800-267-7362 or 613-299-5359
pressf@sen.parl.gc.ca
Danielle Labonté
Committee Clerk
613-949-4379 or 1-800-267-7362
labond@sen.parl.gc.ca

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Changes...

I'm juggling a couple of job prospects, plus doing the last edits to The Fog of War. I have to match material in the book to the end notes.
Marion was called to the bar Wednesday. That brought in family and friends from out of town. Next week, I'll be on the Hill. Its expected the House will adjourn Thursday and won't be back until the fall. There may even be an election in between, but I wouldn't bet the farm on that.