Monday, June 30, 2008

Have a great Canada Day

As an ex Edmontonian, here's the "Ontario Song" by the Arrogant Worms, for my friends at WestWorld. The best Mac dealer in Alberta.

Steve wishes us "Happy Canada Day" a day early

Apparently Steve and the PMO are taking tomorrow off, and they decided to post Steve's Canada Day message a day early. Canada News Center here.

Hey Steve, unlike like your new press guy, some of us are still working here.

We're Number 9, We're Number 9

You can tell it's almost Canada Day. We are starting our annual self examination of our position in the world compared to everybody else. The Conference Board of Canada has produced a Report Card, comparing Canada to the other 16 wealthiest countries.
"While Canada is still in the gifted class among nations, its report card tells the story of a country moving to the back of the class because of its underperformance in almost all subjects."

Canada's standard of living has slipped to ninth this year from fourth in the 1970s, the report said.
The report compares the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.S.A. Canada tied with Denmark at number 9.

Here's our individual rankings.
  • 2nd in Education
High rate of secondary and college graduation. But fewer PhD graduates mathematics, science, computer science and engineering.
  • 9th in Health
Canadians have fewer problems today than several decades ago, but higher rates of diabetes and obesity suggest that young Canadians "may be the first generation of children in over a century who can expect to be less healthy than their parents."
  • 10th in Social
Our "social safety net" helps many people, but the U.S. has a lower burglary rate, a lower suicide rate, and greater gender equity than Canada and a continuing low ranking on child poverty.
  • 11th in Economy
A lack of innovation has hurt economic performance, where slower productivity and other factors have opened the gap between U.S. and Canadian individual purchasing power to $6,400 US now from $3,200 in 1985.
  • 13th in Innovation
Canada does not have an innovation policy, which would help commercialize discoveries and allow new world-beating industries to develop. Instead, resources are used to shore up fading industries, the board said.
  • 15th in Environment
Canada came third last in the environment ranking, ahead of only Australia and the United States. Like them, Canada has a resource-based economy and long distances to travel, but the board said the record is poor in areas such as climate change, smog, and cutting waste. "Canada now generates more waste per person than any of its peers," the board said, and is producing more greenhouse gases as petroleum and forest products exports rise.
I'm blaming Steve for the environmental ranking. 

Not for causing all of it, just for ignoring all of it.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Exxon CEO: The Canadian Government has our backs

Rex Tillerson, chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest oil-and-gas company updated his room full of shareholders on the $8 billion Kearl Tar Sands Project at their General Meeting in Dallas last week.

Kearls is the planned open-pit mining operation, the size of 20,000 football fields with expected production is 200,000 barrels of bitumen a day. 

The Sierra Club and other environmentalist groups challenged Alberta's hasty approval of the project and a Canadian federal court in March, ordered an environmental review panel to justify its decision to allow the oilsands project in northern Alberta to go ahead.

However Rex told his shareholders that he expects little delay in the $8-billion Kearl oilsands project in Alberta, despite the court challenge by the environmental organizations.
"My understanding is that the project … has been given a very high priority by the government of Canada and is moving along at a fairly rapid pace."
Yes sir Rex, my bet is that you receive weekly updates from our federal government. 

Don't worry, I'm sure Steve has your back.

References Exxon Meeting here. Federal court ruling here.

Stelmach to tell US "we protected your backs"

To avoid a repeat of last week's fiasco at the annual meeting of US mayors, Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach is heading to the annual meeting of western U.S. governors and premiers, this weekend.

Unfortunately, Ed has decided to speak for Canada and place a price tag on Canada's involvement in Afghanistan.

From Macleans here.
Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach says Canada has "protected the backs" of Americans in several wars and U.S. politicians should consider this before rejecting what some are calling "dirty" oil from the oil sands.

"We're protecting each other in the Middle East and Afghanistan," said the premier. "We've been together in both world wars. We've been good trading partners."
As a Canadian, I take a little offense on this one Ed. I don't believe that Americans buying Alberta tar sands oil was one of reasons why we went to Afghanistan and although we all know it is really, really important to your province, it is certainly too low a price to place on Canadian lives lost, you idiot.

And as for the Americans they might believe that they covered our backs in the two world wars (remember they showed up a little bit after it started). And the fact that we didn't join them in their Iraq invasion (or Viet Nam for that matter), might be a bit of sore point too.

Note to Albertans keep your well oiled premiers in Alberta, Ed is about to have his "shoot, shut up & shovel" moment.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Even when lying he was classier than the group we have now.

Trudeau silently tells Conservative MP John Lundrigan to Fuck Off in February, 1971.

From the CBC archives.

"The prime minister interrupted me... by mouthing a four letter obscenity," says Conservative MP John Lundrigan. "He mouthed two words," adds another Tory MP Lincoln Alexander to a group of reporters. "The first started with the letter F, the second word the letter O."

The accused potty mouth, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, swears he did no such thing.

Trudeau says that Lundrigan and Alexander are being "very sensitive" for "crying to mama and to television."

When pressed by journalists on exactly what happened inside the House of Commons on Feb, 16, 1971, Trudeau mutters the soon-to-be famous phrase: "fuddle duddle."

Reminder: NBC rebroadcasting, George Carlin on the first SNL, tonight.

"Saturday Night Live" pays tribute to George Carlin, on Saturday, June 28, by re-airing its premiere episode that featured him as host.

Remembering Carlin,  Lorne Michaels noted: "George Carlin helped give 'Saturday Night Live' its start as our first host. He was gracious, fearless, and most important of all, funny."

 Carlin performed three individual monologues on the program that also introduced audiences to the "Not Ready For Prime-Time Players".

The 1975 episode also features musical guests Janis Ian and Billy Preston as well as a landmark performance from comedian Andy Kaufman.
Here's George's first monologue if you really can't make the time tonight.

Dutch extend EU smoking ban to marijuana coffee shops

Well this sounds screwed up.

The EU ban only covers tobacco, not marijuana. However the Dutch and other European marijuana users traditionally smoke pot in fat, cone-shaped joints mixed with tobacco. 

Therefore the ban applies to the cafes, known as coffee shops, that sell marijuana. CNEWS here.
"It's the world upside down: In other countries they look for the marijuana in the cigarette. Here they look for the cigarette in the marijuana," said Jason den Enting, manager of coffee shop Dampkring.
Shops are scrambling to adapt. One alternative is "vaporizer" machines, which incinerate weed smokelessly. Another is to replace tobacco with herbs like coltsfoot, a common plant that looks like a dandelion and that smokers describe as tasting a bit like oregano.
But most shops are just planning to increase their sales of hash brownies and pure weed - and are hoping the law isn't enforced.
Although possession is illegal in the Netherlands, smokers are not prosecuted for holding up to 5 grams. The government's "tolerance" policy realizes that the public will smoke pot and they might as well let them do it in "an orderly way".
Cannabis abuse in Holland ranks somewhere in the middle compared to other nations and is lower than in the U.S., France and England, according to statistics compiled by the United Nations' Office on Drugs and Crime.
Meanwhile in Canada, Bill C-26 that proposes mandatory minimums for marijuana offences went through second reading in April and has been referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
"A person who grows one marijuana plant would face a minimum of six months in jail. And [that] mandatory penalty for one plant goes up to nine months in jail if it's in a rental house or in a residential area."

"While the former federal Liberal government considered decriminalizing marijuana, the current Conservative government has announced its intention to increase pot sentences as part of its get-tough-on-crime platform." 
Canada's Bill C-26 info here.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Message received oil is good for you

It amazes me that oil at $140 a barrel and gas at $1.40 a litre, could end up being the worst thing that could of happen to the oil industry in Canada. It is mobilizing a North American environmental movement.

Two years ago we were being warned that Middle East oil production had peaked, and the tar sands were considered the answer to North American demand. Now the attention has shifted to the amount of greenhouse gasses being created to produce a barrel of oil and the tar sands production is being labelled dirty oil.

With the latest shocker for Alberta being the declaration from the US Mayors to boycott oil produced by the tar sands.

Alberta’s immediate response was somewhat conciliatory and slightly defensive.
"I wish I could talk to all of them one-on-one,"

"This resolution suggests a lack of understanding and we hope by extending that invitation we can help set the record straight."

"Reducing greenhouse gas is an important issue, but it requires a comprehensive, thoughtful and realistic approach,"

"We can pass all the 'feel-good' resolutions that we want, but the reality of the situation is that production from the oil sands is necessary,"

"Alberta is a safe and secure supply for American energy needs."
Now by week's end, it has become more aggressive and somewhat threatening.
“American lawmakers will likely feel a backlash from consumers if they stop buying fuel derived from oil sands and turn to more expensive offshore oil or alternative fuels.”

"You start jacking up the cost of food and fuel to ordinary Americans, would that be in everybody's best interest? I think not,"

“Our big, big job is not so much lobbying. It's educating... its to make people understand that a lot of the criticism about the oilsands is unfair and unwise, and potentially damaging to U.S. interests."

"The environmental movement is interested in stigmatizing oil, and it suits their purpose to focus on oilsands oil, because that seems to be where the growth is,"

"In the end, Senator Obama has to get real,"

"Canadian oil is in the bull's eye right now because environmental groups have decided to make it their cause. But without it, the Midwest would be screwed."

"If you stop oilsands from coming into the United States, you will increase the reliance of the U.S. on other sources of oil -– perhaps Venezuela, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia,"

"Alberta oil will go somewhere else, perhaps China, perhaps India. The ability of environmentalists to influence how that oil is used in those jurisdictions is very limited."
However as Alberta's Liberal Leader Kevin Taft (the guy Albertans didn't vote for) pointed out:
"Alberta has been foot dragging for years on reducing emissions and this lack of action is now under the spotlight across North America. Sabre rattling against Barack Obama or the White House isn't going to get us anywhere. We're not going to fool those people with multimillion-dollar propaganda campaigns."

Taft says what's at stake is Alberta's standard of living and the future prosperity of the province, which relies heavily on the energy industry and especially the oilsands for both jobs and revenues. "The best response is to solve the problem".
Unfortunately the government they did elect has built their emissions reduction strategy upon capturing carbon dioxide and permanently storing it underground. "However this strategy will require more research and significant investment by government and industry and a timeline stretching out to 2015".

The real problem for Alberta, is that we have already got their message "Oil production is important to your province". 

The problem for the rest of us is how long will it take for Alberta to get the environmentalists message. "Don't further expand the tar sands production, until you have the 'Capture and Store' technology in place."

Most quotes from various Canadian Press articles like this one.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The new Greenpeace "Explore Alberta - Travel Video"

From the CBC here.
Greenpeace has launched a tongue-in-cheek website touting the tourism potential of the Alberta oil sands.

The Greenpeace-produced site promises visitors "beautiful black sand beaches [that] stretch for miles," toxic lakes and clearcut forests.

"Try open-pit paragliding and ride the unique coal bed methane and sour gas updrafts," a male announcer says over a slide show of familiar Alberta landmarks, grinning tourists and panoramic shots of the oil sands.
The Greenpeace site is in answer to the $25 million campaign that CAPP is launching to improve the environmental image of Alberta's energy industry. has the details and facts here.

Axis of Evil looses another member as Bush wants North Korea taken off terror list

According to the Washington Note here, the Bush administration is going to "ask Congress" to delist North Korea from America's terrorist watch list. This request will be made today.
Several sources from the State Department, CIA, DoD and the White House confirmed that the administration was moving forward on formally asking Congress to remove North Korea from the controversial watch list.

This is seen as a key confidence building step by North Korea and China in moving towards North Korea's eventual return to the nuclear non-proliferation club.
Let me get this straight.
When Bush took office, one of the first things he did was to cancel the North Korean fuel deal that Clinton had instigated. Clinton's deal was to assist North Korea with fuel shipments as they moved off their nuclear program.

Of course to no one's surprise except maybe the Bush Administration, Kim Jong-il immediately let the world know that he had restarted his nuclear program and even boasted that he would develop long range missiles capable of reaching North America.

Then six months after 911, Bush got to read Frum's infamous Axis of Evil speech, explaining to Americans that the world was full of threatening evil doers, like North Korea. Of course failing to mention that it was his move back in 2000 that recreated this particular threat.
And I know that he forgot to mention a lot of other stuff too, but this post is about how North Korea defeated the Bush administration.

Meanwhile Kim set off his first nuclear weapon and even tested some long range missiles. At the time if you recall, Fox and CNN were both calling for the administration to respond. There were even calls to invade the North Koreans.

"Why are we invading a country that might have weapons of mass destruction and ignoring one that does. A country that claims they can actually reach the US with a strike" was the rhetoric at the time.

I have no doubt that Kim Jong-il is despicable tyrant. But when it comes to foreign policy, and strategic public relations, he is miles ahead of the Bush administration.

And as much as I have somewhat guiltily enjoyed watching him rub it in Bush's face over the past 8 years, his moves opened the door for other nations like Iran, to push their own nuclear objectives.

Uranium enrichment becomes a much easier option to sell to a fearful population if you can demonstrate that it is best line of defense against an unprovoked attack by the US.

Meanwhile instead of accepting a quiet, American face saving resolution that was being brokered by China, it sounds like Kim is holding out for the official removal from the Axis of Evil list. One last insult to the insolent American president.
Game, set, match.
As stated by the Washington Note, there could still be a last minute intervention by Cheney to block the request. But either way it appears that Kim gets to claim victory.

The only good thing about this for Americans is that they only have six more months to suffer their despicable leader. Tragically, the North Koreans are not so fortunate.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Jerry Seinfeld on George Carlin "Dying Is Hard. Comedy Is Harder"

Jerry Seinfeld has written a NYT Op-Ed piece on George Carlin. It is worth the read.

Here are two links NYT here & Raw News here.

Harper in Quebec continuing his "you are best" pre-election tour

It appears that Harper has started touring the country during the parliamentary break getting ready for an expected fall election.

Last week Steve was out west cursing the Liberals and reminding the western nationalists about Trudeau and the NEP. This week he is in Quebec declaring that the conservatives are the true Quebec nationalists.
From the Gazette.

Harper reminded a "seemingly hastily organized" group of local conservatives about his resolution in the House of Commons stating that Quebecers form a nation within Canada. "One of the proudest moments for me as prime minister is when I recognized this reality," he added.

"After the speech, Harper served hot dogs and posed for photos".
I expect that we will see more photos of Steve on July 1st, in Ottawa for Canada Day, where he will confirm that Canada is a diverse nation.

At this rate I would not be surprised if Steve shows up in Southern Ontario in August, suddenly realizing that Toronto is the center of the universe.

No, on second thought I don't think that will happen.

Give it a rest Steve, just eat the damn hot dog, get your picture taken and let the Quebecois have their holiday. That's what the other party leaders did.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New ad campaign announced: What’s good for the Tar Sands is good for Canada

The Globe and Mail reports today that CAPP (the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers) are about to launch a new ad campaign to better inform Canadians about the tar sands projects.

From the article the key messages are:

Apparently “the oil sands is a national project, similar in scope to the building of the railway in the 19th century.”

Even though it is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases, the tar sands only represent 4% right now.

And over the next decade they are going to start using new technologies, like the carbon capture and storage technology. As soon as someone can figure out how to apply it on such a large scale.

“Besides the oil sands are needed to meet the needs of the improving living standards in the developing world.”

The main theme of the campaign appears to be that Canadians should be proud of the contribution that our tar sands are making to the ever expanding consumption of fossil fuels.

I hate to be negative here, but this sounds like a very hard one to sell for the petroleum producers.

Maybe they should bring that cute little conservative oil splotch, out of retirement or hire some politicians to start backing the projects.

Oh I forgot, they already them.

See the Globe article here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Stop using the taser and start shooting them. At least you can remove a bullet.

Another Taser death in Ontario this morning.

CBC reports here that an unidentified man died today after being tasered by the OPP this morning.
The incident happened mid-morning in Norfolk County, about 130 km southwest of Toronto.

Police said they were responding "to a report of an unwanted male person causing a disturbance," and said the man was "combative.
The man collapsed at the OPP station and was taken to the hospital where he died.

There is no argument for the continued use of tasers. If proponents claim that 150 + deaths in North America is a small percentage, then they are tasering too many people. 

It is 150 people that didn't have to die.

This is utterly ridiculous.

Looks like Alberta has a sales job to do, however they might need a new pitch

Although the Bush administration quickly claimed that the oil sands production was exempt from the recently passed legislation that forbids the use of fuel made from unconventional sources with high greenhouse gas emissions, pressure is being placed on US industries and organizations to boycott tar sands produced fuels.

Today the United States Conference of Mayors meeting in Miami, have passed a resolution that urges cities to forbid the use of gasoline made with oil from Alberta's oil sands in municipal vehicles.
"Tarsands oil emits up to three times the greenhouse gases in the production process per barrel as convention oil production. Our cities are asking for environmentally sustainable energy and not fuels from dirty sources such as tarsands."

"This resolution shows our willingness to take action to move forward, not backwards, which is where fuels such as tarsands oil will take us."
Apparently as the price of oil increases, more Americans are becoming aware of greenhouse gases and the threat to the environment (sounds like an argument for the Carbon Tax theory). Contrary to the rants of the Bush administration, groups such as the Conference of Mayors are starting to focus on the development of cleaner technologies. 

Over 230 US cities representing 45 million Americans have started their own energy efficiency and environmental protection plans based on the principles of the Kyoto Accord.

Meanwhile the oil sands are becoming the focal point for protest as the worst example of dirty oil. And the arrogant ranting (depends which side of the country you live in) of Premier Ed Stelmach is not helping the situation.

Stelmach recently faced protesters on a recent visit in Washington and his rant today about how Dion's Carbon Plan would be bad for Canada, will probably increase the popularity for the plan and the Liberals in Ontario and Quebec.

I read this week that Harper was rekindling the western memories and resentment of the National Energy Program. Unfortunately for Steve and Ed most of us easterners can remember the "Freeze in the dark" response.

With the importance of the oil sands to Alberta (and that is the only place where it is important) you would think that they might at least try to appear more open to any and all solutions to reduce the expected 120 mega-tonnes of greenhouse gases that they will be spewing out of the tar sands by 2015. 

Especially since the majority of Canadians and Americans will be living down wind of it.

Reference CBC here.

If the Tories are going to try and destroy nine of our lakes this year, here's the first one to save.

Sandy Pond is part of a 38 hectare trout bearing lake near Long Harbour, NL.

Vale Inco Ltd. the Brazilian mining giant that bought Inco, is now proposing to build a processing plant in Newfoundland. It has asked the federal government for permission dump 386,000 tonnes of toxic waste, every year into Sandy Pond. 

Sandy Pond is full of fish, with what some claim are the best brook trout in the province.
"We always win the trout fishing derby and the majority of the trout came from Sandy Pond," Mr. Murphy, a local fisherman said in an interview. "I've never seen a pond that would compare to Sandy Pond. It's definitely the best fishing,"
Dumping toxic waste into Canadian lakes is illegal. However amendments made to federal regulations in April, 2006, "allow mining companies to use fish bearing natural water bodies" for dump sites. And the Department of Fisheries is looking at nine new dumping sites this year, with Sandy Pond being the next one up.

Dumping toxic waste into Sandy Pond is not the only alternative for Vale, it is just going to save them money.
"Vale Inco Ltd. estimates the total construction and operating costs of using Sandy Pond to contain the residue will be $62-million while the cost of constructing and operating a human-made excavated pit would be $490-million."
And we all know, where Steve stands on this. Over the last six months he has sent his Minister of Trade, David (oops now I'm a Tory) Emerson, around the world with one message.
Canada has resources and we are open for business. We are democratic, affluent, and have few impediments surrounding issues of labour and environmental standards. ref here.
If you want to contact Vale Inco and ask them about the proposed dumping site their contact information is here in Toronto.

Val Inco, despite what the Tories have told you. We put a much larger price tag on our lakes. If there is not enough profit in the site to cover the extra $428 million to protect Sandy Pond, then don't build the fucking mine.

From the Globe here.


George Carlin, May 12, 1937 - June 22, 2008

Thanks George.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Compared to Harper, McCain sounds like the Democratic candidate

On Omar Khadr
  • McCain says he would favour returning Omar Khadr to Canada and closing Guantanamo. 

On public discourse during campaigns
  • Although often critical of his opponent on many issues, McCain didn’t once use profanity to describe Obama’s policies.

On environmental solutions
  • McCain said a sensible cap and trade emissions system is a critical part of a strong environmental strategy.
  • Harper blasted Ontario and Quebec's new cap and trade emission pact.

On renewable energy
  • We must also work to ensure reliable energy supplies and increase sources of renewable energy.

On Canada, US relations
  • McCain wants to harmonize our energy policies, just like NAFTA.
  • Well on that one they probably agree.
The only question would be “Who would be at the negotiations to speak for Canada?

McCain references from the here.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Here's the women, that a Tory pissant insulted last week

With her term expiring at the end of this month, Louise Arbour is stepping down from her position as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

Ms. Arbour is a former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and a former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

She was made a Companion to the Order of Canada in 2007 "for her contributions to the Canadian justice system and for her dedication to the advancement of human rights throughout the world"

She was appointed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on July 1, 2004, replacing Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was killed in Baghdad along with other members of his staff the previous August.

In 2005 she took heat from the US over her Human Rights Day Statement: On Terrorists and Torturers
Particularly insidious are moves to water down or question the absolute ban on torture, as well as on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Governments in a number of countries are claiming that established rules do not apply anymore: that we live in a changed world and that there is a "new normal". 
They argue that this justifies a lowering of the bar as to what constitutes permissible treatment of detainees. An illegal interrogation technique, however, remains illegal whatever new description a government might wish to give it.
Pursuing security objectives at all costs may create a world in which we are neither safe nor free. This will certainly be the case if the only choice is between the terrorists and the torturers.
In 2006 she upset Israel over her official statements regarding the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. Although her statements did not single out either side, some including Israel's ambassador to Canada believed they were directed towards Israel. 

Months later, during an interview with the Jerusalem Post, she responded about the distinction between the Hezbollah missile attacks aimed at killing civilians and the Israeli military strikes where civilians were unintentionally killed.
“The two could not be equated. In one case you could have, for instance, a very objectionable intent - the intent to harm civilians, which is very bad - but effectively not a lot of harm is actually achieved,” she said. 
“But how can you compare that with a case where you may not have an intent but you have recklessness [in which] civilian casualties are foreseeable? The culpability or the intent may not sound as severe, but the actual harm is catastrophic.”
"When you kill civilians virtually each time [in a military attack], at some point you have to ask yourself, 'Wasn't that foreseeable that so many would be killed?" she said. "That is where I think you start having to engage in the possibility that it is somewhat culpable."
Although she had her distractors, others such as the director for the Irish Centre for Human Rights are disappointed that she is leaving.
"It takes political courage," he said of the job, disputing the notion that she gave a disproportionate amount of attention to the United States and Israel.

"Unless you're going to fall victim to one of the great flaws of international human rights, which is selectivity, you can't just criticize Zimbabwe all the time. You've got to criticize Russia and the United States and China. And when you do that, you get big hitters at the United Nations angry at you."
It sounds to me, like Louise Arbour is a Canadian, that we should all be proud of. A woman whose career, years of service and personal accomplishments should be honored in our country. 

Instead last Tuesday she has Vic Toews, Conservative MP and Treasury Board President taking cheap shots at her in Parliament. See National Post here.

However, this lady doesn't need me to defend her. She's been dealing at a much higher level of politics than this old Tory hack and dealing with much more dangerous assholes. By the sounds of it she could basically chew him up and spit him out, if it was worth the effort.

Welcome home Ms. Arbour. Make some noise every now and then.

The 'All Blacks Haka'

All Blacks heap final humiliation on woeful England: New Zealand 44-12 England.

This post is for my friends in New Zealand and though I didn't believe them at first, the Kiwis actually do have, a basketball team named the Tall Blacks. See link.

With Tories new immigration rules, up becomes down, faster becomes stop

The Tories newly passed immigration reforms, which are retroactively being applied to Feb 26th, were aimed at reducing a staggering backlog of applications by would-be immigrants. 

However they are creating a new logjam and increasing delays.
Immigrants who submitted applications after Feb. 26, have been told by that their applications are being put on hold until further notice.
In typical Tory fashion and with accompanying hubris the Tories claimed that the backlog of 925,000 immigrant applications was caused by the former Liberal government’s neglect and mismanagement. And instead of trying to better manage the system by applying more resources over the last two years, the Tories decided to reform the immigration laws.
In a news release issued after the legislation's passage, the immigration department said the law "will stop the backlog from growing" and help to bring in skilled immigrants in as little as six months.
However, Canada receives 14,500 new overseas applicants each month and by placing all applications received since February on hold, the back log is expected to grow an additional 90,000 by the fall. Apparently the Tories haven’t decided what the new rules are yet.
"It is expected that Canada's Minister of Citizenship and Immigration will, within the next several months, be providing instructions to visa offices as to which applications are to be accepted for processing and which are to be returned unprocessed," Canadian visa officers explained in letters to applicants.

When the instructions from the minister are received, "we will apply them to our inventory of applications," the letter says.
Findley's instructions are not expected until the fall, when the house resumes. Meanwhile with some continued foot dragging on the applications prior to February, Canada, by years end, could have a million people sitting in limbo, waiting for the nod from Immigration Minister.
The immigration reforms, passed by the Senate this week, give Immigration Minister Diane Finley the power to reject applications even if applicants meet all the criteria, and to instruct officials to cherry-pick immigrants based on labour market needs
Come the fall the Tories will probably try to sell the increased backlog as "Canada's is now a more popular destination under the Harper regime".

However I would guess that the reason for delay in issuing the new instructions for processing has more to do with providing Steve the time he needs over the summer to consult with the oil industry.

With the new approvals to start exploring the Arctic, they just need more time to forecast what skill sets will be necessary for these new short term work visas.
From the here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Bush accomplishes mission in Iraq as oil deal is about to be signed.

Although they probably won’t be hanging a "Mission Accomplished" banner across the White House lawn, they are celebrating inside tonight.
Iraq is preparing to allow four of the biggest western oil companies, BP, Exxon Mobil, Shell and Total, to renew exploitation of the country's vast reserves for the first time in almost four decades.
According to Iraq's oil minister:
"The deal did not amount to the privatization of the country's oil. Instead the deal is being presented as limited 2 year support contracts where the companies will sell expertise and equipment rather than providing capital and management control of existing fields. "

Although not normally interested in such deals the four majors see the contracts as a stepping stone towards an extension rights under which each company would get first preference on any future contract for the field on which it has worked.
In response to why there was no competitive bidding for the concessions. which were awarded to the four giants plus Chevron and some smaller companies.
"The four companies are heirs to the consortium given the concession to control Iraq's oil by, the King Faisal monarchy after the first world war. They lost their right to explore new fields in 1961 after the monarchy was overthrown, and nationalization was installed by the Ba'ath party."
Since the early days of Paul Bremer, the Iraqi Parliament has been pressured to sign the deal, allowing the oil companies to restart exploration for the so called “sweet crude” (oil that can be retrieved at costs less than $4 a barrel) suspected to be lying under the deserts in the western half of the country.
Energy Information Administration (EIA) figures claim that Iraq contains over 112 billion barrels (bbl) of proven reserves—oil that has been definitively discovered and is expected to be economically producible.

In addition, since Iraq is the least explored of the oil-rich countries, there have been numerous claims of huge undiscovered reserves there as well—oil thought to exist, and expected to become economically recoverable—with estimates running as high as 300 billion barrels. 
If true, this would mean that Iraq has roughly a quarter of all of the world's oil.
Through lies and deceit "America's Worst President", invaded a country to secure oil reserves and extend America's Empire into the 21st century. 

And even though it has cost 100's of thousands of lives, billions of dollars and made the earth a much more dangerous place to live on, you know deep in your heart, that Cheney and Bush did high fives in the White House last night.

Mission Accomplished.

Article from the Guardian here and oil statistics from the Brookings Institute here.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tory aides warned: listening to John McCain is like watching Young People F***king

"When Republican presidential nominee John McCain addresses a sold-out luncheon on Friday it will be hard to find a Conservative politician in the crowd."
Similar to the special pre-release screening of the film "Young People Fucking" in Ottawa, a couple weeks ago, the Prime Ministers Office has warned the Tories to avoid John McCain's speech on Friday afternoon.
"Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be out of town -- rumours suggest his absence is more than just convenient timing -- and he declined to meet with Mr. McCain, sources say. The Prime Minister's Office, concerned about the optics, also advised staff working for MPs to avoid the speech."
Although I would agree, that most of McCain's talking points are perverse, I imagine that it might be difficult for many of the young neocons to resist hearing him speak. I assume, Harper has told Conservative MP Gary Goodyear not to fire anybody this time.

From the National Post here and the CBC here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Apparently the only plan Baird, can come up with to meet Kyoto is a tax grab at the pumps

What is it with these Tories. Tax grab, tax grab, tax grab and always at the gas pumps! That's all I ever hear coming out their mouths lately. I even think I heard them talking it up on the radio the other day.

Well excuse me John, if that's the best you've got, I think I like the sound of Stephane's plan better.

In an interview with the CBC, following the first day of the Federal Court case against the government for failing to comply with the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act (KPIA) passed in Parliament last year, Baird said:
"We'll follow the letter of the law, and we'll make our case in court. But simply put … this bill, if taken to its logical conclusion, would require us to put a 50-cent-a-litre tax on gasoline at the pumps," "And that's just not something I'm prepared to do."
Well which is it John, are you not prepared to follow the letter of law and meet the Kyoto commitments of reducing carbon dioxide by 6% below the 1990 levels and submit timely, scheduled reports as enacted by KPIA. 

Or are you not willing to place an additional tax.

I would assume that you would not want to defy the will of Parliament and break the laws of Canada by not putting forth a plan to meet the Kyoto commitment.  

I know it is confusing, so let me help you out here John.
I would suggest that you pay close attention to Stephane Dion on Thursday, as he starts to present the Liberals green plan. It supposedly contains a "carbon tax" that actually won't apply additional taxes to fuel used for transportation.
All I can add is THINK GREEN John, THINK GREEN!

CORRECTION: In a previous post explaining the Friends of the Earth, KPIA case here, I gave credit to Paul Martin for the Liberal Private Members Bill that became law last year. (probably part of my new found appreciation for him). Well in reality the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act was sponsored by Liberal Pablo Rodriguez. That is his picture on the left, being congratulated at the passing of the bill into law.

Khadr Report Tabled: Guess who said what.

As expected the report by the subcommittee on the Omar Khadr case broke down between party lines, with a final report tabled by the majority made up of opposition members and a dissenting statement produced by the Tories. 

Here's the two statements:
“The subcommittee therefore believes that the Government of Canada has an obligation to ensure that its position on the case of Omar Khadr is consistent with its commitments to international human rights law, and its policies on child soldiers and on assistance to Canadians imprisoned abroad.”
“Mr. Khadr could become a litmus test on Canada's commitment to impeding global terrorism and the results of our actions today could result in consequences that are not in the long-term interest of the country.”
Guess which statement was made by the opposition parties and which one was created by the use of "pre-approved talking points" and a perverse belief that keeping Khadr in Guantanamo, is some sort of proof of our ferocity as a nation, in an ideological based desire to take a partnership role in a Bush led world, with it's never ending war on terror.

Oh shit!  I might of given away the answer. Sorry about that.

Omar Khadr will step into a Guantanamo courtroom Thursday for the ninth time in 2½ years, facing a new judge and a military commission system whose very existence is in jeopardy because of a rebuke from the U.S. Supreme Court.
And Canada remains the only western country to not repatriate it's citizens.
References from Globe reports here and here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cyd Charisse, dancer and actress died today at age 86

Here she is in 1956, dancing to 'Frankie and Johnny' sung by Sammy Davis Jr. in the film Meet me in Las Vegas. According to my father, she was the sexiest dancer on the screen.

Tomorrow, a federal court will examine whether Baird can defy the will of Parliament.

Tomorrow Canada will become the first country to be brought to court for its failure to comply with domestic law and meet its international commitments to combat global warming.

Friends of the Earth (FOE) will be in a Federal Court in Toronto, asking a judge to compel the Conservative government to follow the climate-change law that was passed in Parliament last June.

The Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act (KPIA), was a Liberal private members bill, put forth by Paul Martin, that went into law in June 2007. It requires the government to meet its targets under the Kyoto Protocol and submit a plan showing how it would do so.

As a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol Canada is expected, starting this past January 2008 through 2012 to reduce it’s greenhouse gases by 6% from the base levels set in 1990 (592 megatonnes of carbon dioxide) and the KPIA law requires the government to do so.

Government lawyers have filed papers stating that meeting Kyoto targets would plunge Canada into a "severe recession.''
"Canada's gross domestic product would be reduced by 6.5 per cent, $51 billion of national economic activity would be lost, with 276,000 jobs lost, and per capita income reductions of 2.9 per cent in 2009,''
The Conservatives have proposed their own plan to tackle climate change which would see emissions cut 20 per cent from 2006 levels by 2020. 
But critics point out that the Tory plan is less stringent than the Kyoto targets since it uses 2006 as its baseline year, when emissions were 721 megatonnes of carbon dioxide.
This KPIA case raises the fundamental question of whether a Minister of the Crown, in this case Baird, the Minister of Environment, is accountable for ignoring the will of Parliament. 

FOE submits that Baird has defied the will of Parliament and dispensed with the rule of law by refusing to comply with the mandatory requirements of the KPIA. 

A Ecojustice lawyer Hugh Wilkins, who is working with Friends of the Earth points out.
“It's really a case about accountability and adherence to the rule of law. A simple case requiring the government to comply with the law.”
Garry Keller, Environment Minister John Baird's director of communications, who was contacted for the Canadian Press article, could not comment on cases before the courts. He did apparently take a swipe at the opposition parties for passing "feel-good bills that don't actually accomplish anything on climate change.''

Feel good or not, "for the government to openly say that they will not follow the laws of Parliament is tantamount to saying they will not obey the rule of law" noted University of Ottawa law professor Errol Mendes.

Martin's bill compelling the government to meet it's existing Kyoto targets is the law of the land. And Jack Layton's newly passed bill compelling the government to to gradually cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050 will be also, once it passes the Senate.

Since this is not getting a lot of main stream press, I would assume that the  the Tories are expected to get this case thrown out and we will continue to have a government that basically believes they do not have to follow the laws of the land.

Since the Liberal party is not yet willing to bring this arrogant government down, you would think that they could at least start raising some questions in Parliament about the Tories not obeying the law. And ask them loud enough and often enough that it actually makes the news. 

Not that I'm a legal expert or anything like that, but it seems like a important point to me.

From the Canadian Press here and Friends of the Earth here.

Sheriff Day rode back into town on Sunday and opened fire on the mayor

A handgun ban isn't the answer to Toronto's gun violence.
If you want to see gun crime reduced you've got to go after the criminals.
A ban would divert limited police resources by going after innocent firearm owners.
The Conservatives are working to fight gun crime.
We want to go after the people involved in the smuggling.
We say this is the way to see gun crime reduced.
Luckily most of the platitudes were off their mark and missed Mayor Miller.

Meanwhile the city has just gone through another weekend of gun violence, that started with a double murder Thursday night and three more shooting by Sunday morning resulting in another man being killed and four people being injured.

Unfortunately for us city folk, when it comes to gun safety Day is all hat and no cattle.

From the Toronto Sun here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Unfortunately Steve, in advertising like TV, it's called 'Jumping the Shark'

The new Tory attack ads, running on the radio, can't be polling that well if you've got this many Conservative officials out there explaing why they ran them.

According to the Globe this morning, the Tories decided to fast-track their attack ads against the Liberals to remove the focus from their own poor performance.
One senior Conservative official said some Tory officials also wanted to spook the Liberals so they would not topple the government as it experienced one of its most difficult periods since taking power in 2006. 
Patrick Muttart, told officials the ads had been released earlier to try to blunt bad publicity over the resignation of former foreign affairs minister Maxime Bernier.

The Prime Ministers Office "wanted to get out and do some defining again - set the agenda," said the source. "After a few weeks of the Bernier mess, enough was enough."

Another Conservative official claims "There were fears that we would be toppled last week in the House," the source said Friday. "So it was moved up a bit precisely because of that." The source said the Tories did not want an election because of recent dips in their polling numbers and a series of other controversies.

And yet another, senior Conservative said the main thrust of the ad campaign was to "brand" Mr. Dion as a tax-and-spend Liberal.
The article goes on to explain how the Tories came up with their ad campaigns and how they could be launched and delivered to the media within hours.
"A bunch of people in the party had several weekends worth of what were sort of called counterattack scripting meetings where we anticipated several different attacks,". 
Well that explains a lot.

Like how you could develop video ads for gas pumps without getting clearance from the company that actually owns the pumps. I mean what gas company would want to risk upsetting any potential customers, with gas at an all time high.  

And as for the replacement radio ads they launched this weekend. If you haven't heard them yet, the ads consist of a talk-show radio host taking a call from someone complaining about the Liberals new tax grab. 

Although annoying in concept, they are actually funny if you imagine that it is the Spotty, the cute, Conservative oil spill that is doing the talking. Somehow I can't get him off of my mind.

Jumping the shark: A term used in media to describe the the beginning of the end or marking the moment the subject is "past its peak."  The moment when Fonzie jumps over a shark while on water skis in a scene in Happy Days and when the Tories chose an oil spill as their spokesperson.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Daylight Robbery: BBC One Panorama investigates $23 Billion lost, stolen or unaccounted for in Iraq.

Panorama the hard hitting, investigative news program on BBC One (similar to the Fifth Estate on CBC) has produced a report investigating claims that as much as $23 Billion may have been lost, stolen or not properly accounted for in Iraq.

Unlike the 60 minutes report from March about a successful civil, fraud case against Custer, Battles or the accepted claims by the Bush Administration that up to $8 billion was improperly accounted for, Panorama is making allegations about a much larger sum and by much larger companies, Bechtel, Halliburton and Parsons.
There are more than 70 whistleblower cases revealing the scandals behind billions of dollars worth of waste, theft and corruption during the Iraq war, that the US justice department has imposed gag orders on. The gag orders prevent all involved, including the US media to discuss the cases and the real scale of the problem.

In the report Panorama spoke to some of those involved - They heard allegations of mismanagement, fraud and waste; tales of contractors chosen for their US government connections without a competitive bidding process; contractors inflating their costs and double counting to increase their profits and billions supposed to be used to rebuild the Iraqi military allegedly ending up in the pockets of some Iraqi government officials.

Even the contract to oversee the expenditure went to a company with no relevant qualification in accounting. "They are the quintessential war profiteers," said a witness to one of the most notorious companies involved. "They made money out of chaos."
The current impeachment papers against Bush cover falsely taking the country to war, by withholding facts and outright lying to the public. If the allegations in this Panorama report were investigated you could probably add war profiteering and obstruction of justice.

Until the gag orders are rescinded neither the report nor the facts will be available to the American public. Although some information is coming through on the intertubes, the actual Panorama broadcast has not hit yet. Here's an earlier BBC clip covering some of the story.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Not that he should care, but Paul Martin is quietly earning back my respect.

This short and uplifting Globe piece is worth a weekend read.

It is about native students from Cromarty High in Thunder Bay, gradating this week from a new pilot program that was started and is is being financed by Paul Martin, our former Prime Minister.

They chose Cromarty High because it was a rather rundown former public high school that is run by Indian Affairs. The school teaches native students who come mostly from isolated fly-in communities.
The pilot program, which was designed around a 20-year-old program that was developed to encourage tough inner-city kids in places such as New York and Dublin to think about business.

Encouraged with the results of this first pilot, the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative is now funding five more pilot projects in the four western provinces and in Nunavut.

“We must find out the defects by trying it out in different parts of the country,” Martin says. “We'll make mistakes, we know that. But once we get it done, we'll have the chance to turn it into a national program.”
The Globe article goes on, telling a brief, yet poignant story about former grand chief Charles Fox, who at age 9 was sent off to a residential school and did not return home until he was 20. That section alone is worth the read.

Check the article out here.

Brits chasing cheese, a Pig in Boots and a $6,000 Watermelon

Death-defying clips from the 2008 Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake, where every year fearless competitors from around the world tumble down an almost vertical hill in Gloucester, UK, chasing an 8lb Double Gloucester Cheese.

Cinders, a young saddleback pig, appeared to have a condition called mysophobia - a fear of dirt - having refused to wallow in the mud with her siblings. Her owners had the idea of fitting her with the bespoke miniature footwear to help conquer her fear.

It's Japan.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Arlo Guthrie's Motorcycle Song for the 30,000 that rode to Port Dover

“We estimate that more than 30,000 motorcycles visited Port Dover as part of this event,” said Clark Hoskin, a Norfolk County official.

“We will be preparing the package for the Guinness World Record organization in the coming days and submitting our information, so the numbers are unofficial right now.

Port Dover is the first community hosting a motorcycle event where an official Guinness World Record has been attempted.”


Tim Russert, NBC journalist and political heavyweight host of "Meet the Press," has died after collapsing at NBC's Washington news bureau, a source said. He was 58 years old.

Russert, who rose from the inside world of politics where he was former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo's press secretary and one-time chief of staff to the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, was able to successfully cross over to political journalism and rise to become one of its leading lights.

In his role as host of the seminal Sunday morning political program "Meet the Press" - which he took over in 1991 - he became renowned for his hard-nosed interviews where he frequently cornered some of Washington's cagiest political figures with tough questions.

Russert joined NBC News in 1984. In April 1985, he supervised the live broadcasts of the Today program from Rome, negotiating and arranging an appearance by Pope John Paul II - a first for American television. In 1986 and 1987 Russert led NBC News weeklong broadcasts from South America, Australia and China.

In 2008, Time Magazine named him one of the world's 100 most influential people.

Huffington here.

Day delays Taser Report

The report from RCMP complaints commissioner Paul Kennedy on the use of Tasers by the RCMP, that was expected yesterday has had it's release date moved forward to next week. Safety Minister Stockwell Day, who received the report on Monday has requested the delay. Day is currently in Japan.

Day asked Kennedy to study the RCMP's Taser use, last November after Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski died in October after being repeatedly zapped with an RCMP Taser and subdued by officers at Vancouver International Airport.
A last-minute call from the public safety minister delayed release of what's expected to be a hard-hitting report on RCMP Taser use. The minister's office asked late Wednesday for a meeting on the report, resulting in hasty cancellation of its publication Thursday. Both Day and the RCMP commissioner Wiliam Elliott has received advance copies of the report.

There was no explanation why Day waited until Wednesday to request the meeting, given that Kennedy had announced plans Monday for a Thursday news conference on the report.
Well these two recent stories might have something to do with Day's delay.

A CBC, Canadian press investigation released Wednesday, reported that the RCMP has repeatedly zapped people with tasers in a steadily rising percentage despite having an internal policy that warns numerous jolts may be hazardous.
An investigation of more than 3,200 incidents in which Mounties fired the powerful stun guns in the last six years shows that officers used the taser multiple times in almost 43 per cent of cases. 
In about one out of six incidents, the RCMP applied the stun gun three times. In 31 cases, the suspect was zapped seven or more times. The investigation also revealed that in 2,200 of the 3,000 RCMP Taser incidents between 2002 and 2007, the person the Mounties were dealing with was unarmed. from the Globe
And last Friday, Taser International the makers of the controversial stun guns used by police forces across Canada, the U.S. lost it's first case.
A US federal jury has held Taser International responsible for the death of a Salinas man in U.S. District Court in San Jose on Friday, and awarded his family more than $6 million in punitive and compensatory damages. An attorney for the family called the verdict a “landmark decision,” and indicated that it was the first time Taser International had been held responsible for a death or injury linked to its product. NY Times.
It appears now that it is going to take longer to get the correct spin. After all it is not about government culpability, it is about public safety, right Mr. Day.

I guess Mound was right

Every major global climate record was broken last year and 2024 could be worse, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Tuesday,...