Sunday, January 31, 2010
CORRECTION: In the original version of this story we said that 10 million Finns died under Lenin in the 1917 civil war. The correct figure is 37,000. We regret the error.
Except that too is a bung-job:
Just a couple of problems with this: the original article did not say that 10 million Finns died under Lenin “in the 1917 civil war”. In fact, even the closing paragraph correctly places Finland’s civil war in 1918, not 1917 (and at any rate, Lenin did not rule Finland - formerly a protectorate of Sweden and later Russia, one of Lenin’s first acts when he took power in October 1917 was to grant Finland independence in December 1917). The 1918 civil war was therefore not fought “under Lenin”.
And here: Mark Steyn's wholesale re-purposing of Mark Steyn articles.
Yesterday, it was revealed that CBC has recently adopted a highly Draconian approach to protecting the copyright on its on-line news stories. They have decided to employ iCopyright, the American copyright bounty hunters used by Associated Press. iCopyright demands a monthly/annual fee for each CBC piece you quote on your site; you have to host the entire piece, not bits and pieces of it; you can't criticize the story's author, or the CBC, and so on.
By nightfall, Canadian bloggers had already begun to strike back. The inevitable Facebook group opposing the move had sprung up, and people were already considering means of punishing CBC for, essentially, attempting to sell you the right to fair comment that you already possess. Probably the most interesting idea for a punitive response comes from Devin Johnston at Law Is Cool:
There is one thing that I will change as a result of CBC’s new iCopyright policy. From now on, whenever I link to CBC, I will use the the rel=”nofollow” construct. This attribute instructs search engines like Google not to index the link as part of its PageRank algorithm. Essentially, the links don’t help their destination sites to achieve higher rankings in search engines. I already use this construct when linking to sources such as the Conservative and Liberal parties (being a New Demcorat, I want to ensure that I’m not giving any advantage, however trivial, to my political opponents). From now on, CBC will not get the trivial benefit they enjoy in terms of search engine ranking when I link to them. This practice will continue until CBC adopts a more balanced and realistic approach to copyright.
Other approaches under discussion are letters to MPs (CBC is after all taxpayer funded), letters to the CBC, or making a conscious effort to avoid CBC versions of whatever story you wish to right about.
If CBC wants to remove itself from the cultural conversation, let them.
PS. A very good walk-through of the new contract and its implications here.
PPS. Although iCopyright looks to be a bit of a toothless tiger. Look at the bottom of the G&M piece you've quoted. Hit the license button and see where it takes you. Has ANYONE ever been hassled by these guys...or for quoting AP, for that matter?
Saturday, January 30, 2010
The Stephen Harper's attempt to increase penalties for young offenders will be a formidable adversary: Jacques Demers. In an interview with LCN, the conservative senator voted against this key measure of his own party.
"I will not send a boy of 14 or 16 years to be assaulted in prison."
See, I told you I liked this guy. Nobody could coach Norris Division teams back in the 80s and not develop some sympathy for the down-and-out.
PS. The above quote is a translation from the French, so it sounds a bit rough.
h/t Imp on Twitter.
And, as Jimbobby points out over at Scott's place, this from a public broadcaster.
Friday, January 29, 2010
I may be wrong, but this sounds to me as if the bill will have to wend its way from the starting gate through both chambers. (But someone correct me if I'm misunderstanding Senate procedures). Anyone wanna predict how far along it is before Harper pulls the plug again and restarts the whole process a third time?
Thursday, January 28, 2010
"I want to encourage everyone to vote and vote often. You don't hear politicians saying that every day," [Weston] joked.
Meanwhile, The Libs are discussing Veteran's issues today, health tomorrow.
For him, prorogation is an opportunity for the Conservative government to concentrate on the economy by implementing the next phase of its economic stimulus program and prepare a new budget.
If parliament was in session then the opposition parties could vote non-confidence and force an election before those tasks are complete.
“That’s what we don’t want,” said Cannan.
The new budget was planned for early March in any event, so it looks like Cannan was worried that Iggy and co. might have brought down the gov. between January and March.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
They ask: will the planned second wave of protest fly or fizzle? I dunno; if it involves marching again I personally am going to need better weather. Sorry, but there it is.
PS. I'm in The Mark this morning. Just yesterday's post, but it looks so much more authoritative over there.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
In late October, Newsday, the Long Island daily that the Dolans bought for $650 million, put its web site, newsday.com, behind a pay wall. The paper was one of the first non-business newspapers to take the plunge by putting up a pay wall, so in media circles it has been followed with interest. Could its fate be a sign of what others, including The New York Times, might expect?
So, three months later, how many people have signed up to pay $5 a week, or $260 a year, to get unfettered access to newsday.com?
The answer: 35 people. As in fewer than three dozen. As in a decent-sized elementary-school class.
In other words, they have chosen to cut and run over a fairly trivial matter, which implies that they treat the institution of parliament as something to be violated casually.
There is also the matter of the offhand brutality with which they have been willing to abandon their own legislative agenda. I personally might not agree with bill C-15 (mandatory minimum sentencing) or their consumer safety laws(C-6), for example, but these were nevertheless the result of an enormous amount of work by people and interests who were invested in them very deeply. And all of this work has been tossed aside at the first sign of political turbulence.
So, not only does the Harper government not give a toss about Canada's democratic process, they don't care about their own policies. They seem to have become entirely opportunistic over their four years in power.
But there is something more basic driving Canadian anger over prorogation, I think. It has to do with Stephen Harper the man, ideological Conservatives like those that fill his government's back-benches, and their relationship to what used to be called The Work Ethic.
I mean, this is the Prime Minister who once that claimed Atlantic Canada was hampered by a "culture of defeat", bred by laziness and a continued dependence on government handouts. This is the Prime Minister who branded the whole nation beyond the borders of Alberta a "2nd tier socialist" country. And this is the Prime Minister whose party has always been more than happy to play the "Bums from Out East" tune for all its been worth, who have argued that their political opponents are a bunch of slackers who "don't understand what it means to meet a payroll", and so on and so forth.
Now this very same Prime Minister has--hey presto!--rewarded himself and his MPs two months extra vacation time. THAT, I believe, is what really grates with Canadians. It's what lies behind the signs proclaiming Get back to work! that appeared again and again at anti-prorogation rallies across the country last weekend.
And I see that Norman Spector is prattling on again about coups, and coalitions between Liberals, Socialists, and Separatists. Well, Mr. Spector, at least these people showed up on Monday, ready to do their job. Mr. Harper and his gang of Calgary Capitalists couldn't be arsed.
Monday, January 25, 2010
And with Parliament shut down, the Liberal candidate for Bruce-Grey Owen Sound was to start today in Ottawa -- unelected, but invited to join the Liberal caucus in committee sessions.
At the invitation of Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, Love said in an interview, she will be part of Liberal committees starting today in Ottawa to study job creation, governance, pensions and health care.
"I'm not an elected representative, but there is a voice for this Riding on Parliament Hill in the next couple of weeks because the Liberals are going back to work," Love said.
A stunt? Maybe, but a not a bad one when you think about it, though only available to those within driving distance of Ottawa. Hopefully Iggy appears with Ms. Love at his side to draw the contrast between paid Tory MPs who are sitting on their arses in California waiting for the Olympics to break their ennui and Lib candidates who are willing to volunteer for the good of the nation.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
So good on the organizers; they sure beat my expectations.
There was a definite orange tint to the crowd. It looks as though our NDP brethren put the “machine” to work; lots of “Stand up to Harper” signs, and CUPE banners, for example. Good on them. There was also a small Green Party contingent, but no official or semi-official Liberal Party presence as far as I could tell (although see below).
And there wasn’t anything too awful in the way of “message creep”. For the most part the placards and chants and attitude were on point.
Just to catalogue the funny stuff:
There was an anti-tar sands banner with a clever, oil-black T-Rex painted on it. There was an international Bolshevik that wanted to abolish the monarchy. There was someone with a sign that had a skull painted on it, an inevitable 911 truther, a couple of black nationalists distributing speeches by Farrakhan across the street, and a guy handing out tickets to some kind of Israel Apartheid thing. No matter what you might think of this last guy’s message, though, he had a really impressive Mohawk-type creation with unshorn locks that fell to his shoulders. (As an aside, Why do all the weirdos have great hair?) There was a stage, and a strong NDP flavor to the speeches given there, as far as I could make out. Luckily, the sound system wasn’t terribly powerful and nobody could really hear their Socialist prattling. And oh yes the same three guys selling competing Marxist -Leninist papers that I saw at the Labour Day Parade were out again. I swear they’re the same three guys I saw on Yonge Street back in 1986 when I first moved to T.O.
And speaking of hair, I got within 10 feet of Gerard Kennedy himself, looking elegantly sexxxy in what I remember as being a dark duffle-coat type thingy. Now, personally, I think he should wear his hair longer. I know that Iggy is trying to get the Libs to project a more professional demeanor, but you don’t waste a head of hair like Gerard’s. His hair is 100% shock-and-awe, and if the Libs sent it on a cross country speaking tour in the run up to the next election they’d pick up two or three seats on that basis alone.
Anyway, I don’t think Mr. Kennedy got up on stage and spoke, but I may be wrong about that.
As for the march itself… it was a march. I don’t much like them as I get a bit dizzy in crowds, but on the upside we did have a piper (bag pipes, in full uniform, probably frozen stiff under that kilt), and many of the young college girls in the crowd looked quite hot, although it’s hard to be sure when they’re all wearing parkas. But the day was chill, so when the actual march ended the crowd dissipated fairly quickly (leaving behind several unappreciated gals making some very good bluesy/folky music on stage, unfortunately).
And I didn’t meet too many other bloggers. I hung with Joseph Uranowski of The Equivocator for most of the event, and saw Ricky of Queer Thoughts at a distance, I think, but didn’t get a chance to talk. Impolitical, buddy, where were you? I heard you was coming and looked everywhere. I was the guy in the dark-colored winter jacket with a hood.
Anyway, a successful protest. Looks like some impact through the media too. In the bar I am writing this post in, one of the regs just told a joke about politics being “prorogued”. So I am sure this story will be in the news after tomorrow, which is the important thing.
PS. 3,000 people? Is my math so bad?
Friday, January 22, 2010
After mentioning federal and provincial officials, MacKay, who represents the neighbouring federal riding of Central Nova, moved onto the municipal officials, including “our two mayors, Bob and Bob.”
A hush went through the audience before MacKay tried to correct with “Bill and Bill” before the third time was a charm with “Bill and Bob.”
I don't think Mr. Mackay will be parliament ready until at least June.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Update: In related news, The National Post offers Warman a "satisfactory settlement agreement", and his libel action has been discontinued.
So a job that could have been completed for January 25th gets stretched out over another two months. Parkinson's Law.
I will also be spending this time meeting with stakeholders and business representatives to discuss the priorities they envision for the months and years ahead.
Typical Corp-speak. Teamstorming to leverage the synchronicities, and all that.
1) The weekly trend shows a gradual Tory decline beginning before the prorogation decision. Its easy to forget that they were riding a string of bad news in the month or so leading up to that decision.
2) The Libs are finally starting to benefit a little from that decline, rather than bouncing along the bottom at around 27%.
3) The polling dates are from Jan 13 to Jan 19, so Harper's relatively adequate response to the Haiti earthquake doesn't seem to have helped him much.
And, OT, this is clever. Liberals should at least learn how to feign non-arrogance, at least for short periods of time.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
I don't use politwitter, but it looks like you have to sign up yourself yourself.
PS. Looks better if you click on the pic.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Looks like we've got an answer:
Aides in several ministers' offices, speaking on condition of anonymity, also said that Raitt was not the only minister that Mr. Harper and his inner circle were dissatisfied with:they were also said to be unhappy with Mr. Van Loan on the public safety file.
In for a demotion along with Ms. Raitt is Peter Van Loan, whom colleagues said was less than able at managing the security agencies reporting to him while he served as Public Safety minister.
Note how anonymous colleagues were happy to trash talk Van Loan to the papers as word of the shuffle got out.
So in fact, his positioning in the above photo (and video footage) may have been a subtle form of public humiliation, just as many commenters originally speculated.
Ottawa: the Kremlin sans vodka.
More importantly, the Free Press has attempted to contact the opposition parties to ask if they are going to play along:
A spokesman for NDP Leader Jack Layton said the NDP has no plans to change their appointee to the committee. Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff's office did not respond when asked for comment.
I sometimes get the impression that the LPoC brain trust, while paying lip-service to the registry for the benefit of hardcore Liberal supporters (who support it), would really like to see it die quietly in the night so as to be off the table as an election issue in rural Canada. Not responding to this kind of query only exacerbates that impression.
Whereas, I am convinced, fighting C-391 in committee and in the Senate can still kill it. What are the odds that Harper and Co. will go another year without proroguing again, thus resetting the clock on all of their legislation? Given their recent behavior, I would say those odds are pretty high.
(I am also about half-convinced that this is one of those pieces of legislation that the Tories don't really want to ever be signed into law. But that's another post)
Monday, January 18, 2010
It's expected Vic Toews will announce as early as today his departure from the Harper government for an opportunity outside of the federal government.
PS. Don't Step on Vic Toews! In the updated story through the link above, Toews says he may be shuffled but isn't leaving parliament.
And from the Winnipeg Free Press:
OTTAWA -- Manitoba Senior Cabinet Minister Vic Toews' office is denying reports he is stepping down.
...but not that he's being shuffled.
But, on the other hand, a spokesperson for the Minister is now saying that "Rumours relating to a cabinet shuffle are just those, rumours."
When you go over there your supposed to be a Conservative. Remember to type with your knuckles.
PS. Now I've joined! At this rate, our numbers will double by Wednesday!!!
Ignatieff is now pledging, if he becomes prime minister, to never prorogue Parliament.
But that isn't how I remember it:
Ignatieff is not absolutely ruling out the prime ministerial power to prorogue Parliament, but he says the public outcry from Canadians shows Harper has not set a good precedent for future use of the authority.
Definitely not an unconditional pledge; perhaps even a bit weaselly. But you shouldn't catch heck for promises you didn't make.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
They do make an additional argument that you don't see much, which is that Canada needs hate speech laws to live up to its international obligations:
Canada is a signatory to several relevant international conventions that require state parties to prohibit hate speech. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), ratified by Canada in 1976, provides in Article 20(2) that “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.”33 Similarly, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, ratified by Canada in 1981, provides in Article 4 that “States Parties condemn all propaganda and all organizations which are based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form, and undertake to adopt immediate and positive measures designed to eradicate all incitement to, or acts of, such discrimination.”34 In Keegstra, Chief Justice Dickson recognized these documents as reflective of “the international commitment to eradicate hate propaganda.”35 International law recognizes that measures against hate speech may take different forms.
So there you have it. Their website is here.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Though they have some cool reptiles.
If you're wondering what Shelly's up to, she's as the 40th annual "frog follies" in St. Pierre-Jolys. You can see the lucky little frog in several of the pictures. If I lived in wherever the hell that was I'd probably vote for her. Multiple times.
Just a thought: is Canada's Sarah Palin a straw-haired Amazon?
Perhaps more normal than he even thought possible? Clearly, somebody issued Larry Miller the same 5 x 7 card with talking points on it that everyone else got.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Thursday, January 14, 2010
...it has now, in the face of overwhelming public apathy, been renamed I SUPPORT the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, in a desperate attempt to attract more suckers:
Also, FreeD's Connie Fournier suspects the whole effort is about as real as astroturf:
... a quick search of the members of the group shows that many of the members are not even real people. A lot of them have no friends, or they are just friends with one other person (usually another member of the group). They are simply shell characters that have nothing in their profiles but a bunch of groups they have joined.
But, the organizer of the group is obviously a fake identity being used by someone affiliated with the CPC, and they are doing such an amateurish job that they are probably hurting the cause more than they are helping it.
As an aside, I'm interested in this name change thing. I have always been under the impression that if somebody changed the name of a Facebook group that I joined, I would be informed by Facebook and given the choice of opting out. Else, I might join a group called "I love fuzzy bunnies" and wind up being the member of a group called "I love Stalin" or some such thing. I know a couple of my readers had joined this group: did any of you receive notification of the name change?
One project listed to receive funding is the Bay of Fundy tidal energy demonstration. Alas, we heard about this (and I blogged on it!) last October. Same goes for the geothermal project in Yellowknife, the Senate heard about that one two years ago while on a trip to the North. The list can likely go on. Regrettably it seems as though the most renewable thing about this news release, is the re-release of information.
How serious is this government? All of the projects are called demonstration projects. Many with huge capital costs, that make the 2 - 5 mil just a drop in the proverbial bucket.
So, how real is this?
Listen to her words. This Senator is both wise and hot.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
There's a distinction to be made here.
And presumably any Parliamentary investigation into the detainee issue would be focused upon the behavior of the political players involved. If the Harper Government truly believes that malfeasance on the part of any of these players entails the guilt of our troops in Afghanistan, then let them be the ones to make that argument and pursue the consequences.
As to the behavior of Canada's military in this whole affair, it seems to have been in line with the high professionalism we expect of our soldiers. The detainee "problem" was raised within the ranks (and in our diplomatic core, and elsewhere) and our civilian leaders were informed. The outgoing Martin government did not act, and the incoming Harper government did not act quickly enough.
Again, if there's more to it than that, let Ezra and the gang lead the witch-hunt.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has not been idling away his time. Like Mr. Ignatieff, he was in Quebec today meeting with Premier Jean Charest. And yesterday he was in Ottawa, where the PMO released a picture and a short video of him meeting with several of his most senior cabinet ministers.
The most interesting part of the picture, however, was the Prime Minister’s choice of mug – one featuring John, Paul, George and Ringo. According to Mr. Harper’s spokesman, Dimitri Soudas, the mug is a favourite of his. It was a gift and the Prime Minister “uses it all the time to drink water.”
The "Prime Minister's" choice of mug was uncovered by me, here, on this blog, yesterday morning, through a pain-staking exercise in photo-analysis. But does Ms. Taber give credit where credit is due? No, Ms. TABER DOES NOT GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE.
Furthermore, Ms. Taber does not even consider (as I did, same post) how inappropriate it is for a Prime Minister to go into a security meeting, to talk about bombs and violence and so forth, with a mug representing the Fab 4s early, soft-rock, folky period. "With The Beatles". Blech! They hadn't even invented the distorted guitar in 1963! If Al Qaeda saw that film clip and IDd the picture on that mug, they'd crap themselves laughing.
But No! Ms. Taber simply swallows the government line!
(Although, the fact that Harper spokesman Dimitri Soudas made a point of confirming the nature of this photo speaks volumes. Clearly this mug was a prop in a staged-exercise.)
Anyway...Bad Jane Taber! Bad!!
DART is not a rapid response emergency search and rescue team (although its engineering unit is certainly capable in this area) and, therefore, it is not the team to send into a disaster area in the hours immediately following such an event. Response in the first 24 hours is critical for rescue operations, and there are many international teams highly skilled in this task and equipped with trained dogs and specialised search devices... As a primary care medical unit, the DART team attends to illness, disease and obstetrics, and the demand for these treatments increases in the weeks after a disaster, whereas the trauma units are winding down their role at this time.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
1) No underlings (military, RCMP) in tow.
2) No coffee in the coffee mugs (nor anywhere else in sight).
3) Plus--and this is the clincher--if you look at a close up of Harper's coffee mug
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has delivered a scathing rebuke to Canadian soldiers and taxpayers by nominating to his cabinet a disgraced former minister who presided over the embezzlement of up to one-third of Canadian aid dollars donated under the U.N.’s Law and Order Trust Fund (LOTFA).
In naming Zarar Muqbul as his new counter-narcotics minister, Karzai delivers a forehand smash into the court of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is already under fire for proroguing Canada’s House of Commons - in part to avoid a parliamentary committee’s probe into the Afghan government’s mistreatment of battlefield detainees.
The siphoning off of Canada’s LOTFA contributions is arguably a more flagrant abuse of trust than the issue of prisoner abuse. The financial support is intended to strengthen the National Police and kick-start Afghanistan's rule of law.
There's more. And somewhere in Ottawa, our Prime Minister is asking: can't the military have this guy imbedded in something?
Clear Code has now reached an important milestone in its first big project:
... an all-Python reimplementation of GISTEMP, the NASA GISS surface temperature analysis.
And here's the chart that results from running this reimplementation:
As the lads at Clear Code note:
The results of running this release match GISTEMP results very closely indeed.
In fact, the annual global, northern hemisphere, and southern hemisphere anomaly results are identical, as are the southern hemisphere monthly anomalies. The global monthly anomalies differ 7 times, out of more than 1000, each time by one digit in the least-significant place.
...which should be surprising to no-one. By the way, the Clear Code programmers are looking for help as the project moves forward. There's a link to their mailing list here.
Monday, January 11, 2010
"The prorogation is delaying things just a month. Why get revved up before the Olympics? We're going to have a throne speech after the Olympics. A new budget that will focus the country, the House of Commons and the Parliament on accomplishing what comes out of that throne speech. I think that's got a lot to do with it," Merrifield said.
So what's in that throne-speech & budget that requires two months of silent contemplation to prepare for (because, according to Merrifield, prorogation is just like life in the HOC, but quieter):
"I think the only real difference with prorogation is that you don't have us shouting and screaming at each other in question period."
"Nothing really earth-shaking, it's going to be a boring budget let's put it that way. I don't think there will be a lot of big cuts because that would be premature. I don't think there will be a lot of spending because we just can't keep spending."
I have a column in the Citizen today arguing that if Harper is serious about Senate reform, the appointments process is the place to focus his attention. Except I don’t actually think that Harper cares about Senate reform one way or another; like abortion in the US, it is one of those useful issues that Conservatives in Canada use to keep their base on a low boil. They are always just about to do something about it, though they never seem to get there. Senate reform for Harper is a tactical device, not part of a serious strategic agenda.
And I would just point out, that if the prorogation is meant to advance Harper's intention to begin electing senators and to set eight-year term limits, it as already failed. There's already a rogue among Harper's new appointees:
Newly minted Conservative senator and former Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Demers says he has much to learn and more to prove.
In an interview with Sun Media, he revealed he could have been a Liberal senator, has only a peripheral interest in politics and no intention of asking electors for their support -- in spite of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's assertions new senators should run for office.
Demers expects to spend the next 10 years in the Senate, and wants to learn from his colleagues while keeping his own opinions.
Rumor has it the National Post HQ on Don Mills will be converted into a paint-ball facility. Defcon is looking to expand. A better class of people will moving in. Gentrification, and all that.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
On no less than Castanet, where Stockwell Day posts his weekly column.
PS. Freeping an online poll is a meaningless exercise. You should feel ashamed for casting those multiple "no" votes!
By they way. Your welcome, David Akin. You don't even have to thank me.
PS. You might find you have to do a very basic "sign up" before voting.
Canadians are often dismissed as being big on beer and hockey but largely apathetic about politics. But a mounting Facebook protest shows that while “Hosers” can hardly be called policy wonks, they’re not taking kindly to their “house of the people” being hijacked by the leader of a parliamentary minority.
Peter Kent, the elder Kent, once a journalist and now a pointless Tory MP:
Criticism...over the government's proroguing of Parliament is simply ‘sanctimonious twaddle’...
Wish I'd been a fly on the wall in the Kent household over Xmas. I bet somebody's spectacles got stomped.
Saturday, January 09, 2010
Because its funny, and they link to me.
If an election were held today, the Liberals would likely take 38 per cent of the vote among decided voters, as compared to 45 per cent in January of last year, according to the poll.
Opposition leader Tim Hudak and his Progressive Conservatives would take 34 per cent of the vote, down two points since October, but up five per cent since last year at this time.
Expect him to take a bit of a hit in July when the tax kicks in, and then I suspect the HST will disappear from the provincial political landscape. And if there is no national election before July, I suspect it will become a non-issue federally as well. Too bad for the NDP.
The tremendous volcanic eruption thought to be responsible for Earth's largest mass extinction — which killed more than 70 percent of plants and dinosaurs walking the planet 250 million years ago — is still taking lives today.
Scientists investigating the high incidence of lung cancer in China's Xuan Wei County in Yunnan Province conclude that the problem lies with the coal residents use to heat their homes. That coal was formed by the same 250-million-year-old giant volcanic eruption — termed a supervolcano — that was responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs. The high silica content of that coal is interacting with volatile organic matter in the soil to cause the unusually high rates of lung cancer.
Well, no, the Permian–Triassic extinction event predated the rise of Dinosaurs, and might have enabled it. Certainly it did not cause their extinction. And, oh yes, plants can't walk.
Friday, January 08, 2010
Over the next several weeks, our Government will be undertaking a cross-country tour, meeting with Canadians as we enter Phase II of Canada’s Economic Action Plan and leading up to the Throne Speech on March 3rd and the federal Budget on March 4th.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and a number of my other Cabinet colleagues, including myself, will be meeting with and hearing from Canadian families, homeowners, workers, business-owners and industries across the country about how best to meet our economic goals.
Paul Wells wrote yesterday about the various means by which Harper's Tories intended to co-opt Liberal strategy, but he doesn't mention Iggy's much derided plan for a "listening tour", so I am thinking this has been cobbled together rather hastily to demonstrate that yes indeed the government is "working for Canadians". Consider this quote from the Tory website (dated January 02,2010), which contrasts Iggy's gallivanting with the steady, stay at home Harper and co.:
As Michael Ignatieff travels the country promising lavish new spending, the result such reckless policies would be higher taxes for everyone.
Our Conservative Government will remain committed to responsible economic leadership by continuing to carry out Canada’s Economic Action Plan. We will always work in the best interest of Canadians, their families and our economy.
But that was then and this is now, right?
Incidentally, last Kady night posted an interesting analysis of the recent EKO poll results. One bit stood out:
Regionally, Atlantic Canadians were more likely to characterize themselves as "strongly opposed" [to prorogation] than denizens of any other province...
Not surprising, when you think of it. This is a region of the country that has long been derided by Western Conservatives (including Mr. Harper himself in an earlier incarnation) for being lazy no-goods, and now you've got a gov. straight outta Calgary that's awarded itself a three month vacation. That's gotta grate. Bums from out West, anyone?
"It's very true that it's a long period of time, but it's time required for the throne speech to be done properly."
The last throne speech was a grand total of 758 words, so we're looking at nearly three hours per word. Damn thing better rhyme or something.
"If we are sitting, how do MPs get to those events," he said of the Olympic games. "It makes sense that we are not sitting."
Thursday, January 07, 2010
FWIW, Kady says:
Will today's ruling affect other political parties?
...as far as I can tell, it won't, since the circumstances that led to this particular dispute between the Conservatives and the chief electoral officer appear to be unique to that party, which -- if I'm reading this right, at least -- was initially unaware of the fact that a change in the tax law meant it could qualify as a non-profit organization for GST rebate purposes.
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Meanwhile, looks like Mr. Harper will be vacationing in Vegas.
PS. I am told the PM is allergic to metal, and the above fact is not evidence that he's nailing hookers on the side down on the Nevada strip. Fair enough. He presumably uses bone knives on his political enemies.
But because the House was prorogued before the messages could be officially received, the bills were still technically before the Senate, which has no mechanism, automatic or on demand, for reinstatement of government legislation from the previous Order Paper.
As a result, those bills will have to be reintroduced in the House -- or, if the government prefers, the Senate -- at first reading, and go through the whole process again."
...which is to say that, with these bills at least, there is no way to reintroduce them at the stage they had reached when Parliament was prorogued. On the other hand, had the Tories simply appointed their five Senators and returned to a non-prorogued parliament in January:
Although at that point the Senate could, in theory, simply re-amend the bill and throw it back to the Commons, setting off what could turn into infinite legislative loop, with those five (or thirteen) additional Conservative votes in the Red Chamber, both bills would have almost certainly have survived a second attempt at sober second tweaking, and could have been given Royal Assent within days.
So the Tory government could have got several of its key-note pieces of anti-crime legislation through the entire legislative process, and passed into law. They chose not too, thus disappointing some of the stakeholders involved and, most likely, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, whose been working on some of this stuff for months with little to show for it.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Harper doesn't want to pass this legislation; he wants to campaign on it.
....on the issue of Afghan detainees, and whether the government was aware of the risk of their torture after being handed over by Canadian troops, it's expected that Liberals will be working with New Democrats and the Bloc Québécois to keep the conversation alive.
...is a bit fraught. For example, statements made in any ad hoc committee would not be subject to parliamentary privilege. That is, someone could get sued. Since the Tories have sent staffers to watch committee meetings they've boycotted, you can be sure they'll have someone on hand to monitoring the proceedings here.
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
So I was able to buy two tickets for one of the non-playoff hockey games. It will be a great experience just to attend. And at the time I bought mine there were still some seats available, if you're interested.
(Just as an aside: I thought these tickets were sold off by lottery. However, I guess rank has its privileges.)
I will be in Vancouver for a good part of the time during the Olympics in my function as Minister for International Trade and the Asia-Pacific Gateway.
...next Monday I have a number of constituent meetings already booked but still have a couple of slots open. As usual, just call the office and we'll do our best to fit you in.
I've also set aside time for some door-knocking. As regular readers of this column know, I maintain a year round program of door-knocking in between elections as well as during elections. I have found this to be one of the best ways to hear from you, the voters and taxpayers. There's nothing quite like getting the views of people right on their doorsteps - no filters, no handlers, just me getting the straight goods from you.
So I may be at your door next week either in the Peachland/ Westside area or up in Merritt and Logan Lake.
I'm also looking forward to speaking next week at one of our local Rotary Clubs. Rotary, like many other local service clubs, is always a good venue for feedback.
There you have it. Stock's earning his pay-cheque, if not by guiding legislation through the HOC, then by wrangling hockey tickets for his constituents. Leave Stock alone.
Legislation to eliminate house arrests for serious crimes, cracking down on auto theft and requiring Internet service providers to report child pornography content found on their servers are also among the bills which must now start over in Parliament.
Mind you, Bloc Québécois House leader Pierre Paquette makes note of the fact that some the crime bills introduced by the Harper government last session don't even address the issues they are supposed to be targeting:
"...this is a smokescreen to support Conservative propaganda suggesting they are tough on crime and opposition parties are soft (on crime), when this is totally false," Paquette said.
But the nice thing about smoke is you can produce more and more of it again and again and again. Some of these Tories bills are in their 2nd and 3rd incarnations. And the whole point seems to be that they should always and forever be in the process of becoming law, but never actually become law. That way the Tories never have to deal with the consequences of their own legislation.
PS. One of the bits of legislation that lives through the prorogation is Bill C-384, the Right To Die With Dignity Bill. In some quarters, and wondering now if C-384 will ever come to a vote:
"Since the Conservative government appears to be setting up an election for May or June, Lalonde may find a way to trade-back again in the order of precedence and prevent C-384 from ever being voted on" by this government, Schadenberg observed.
Monday, January 04, 2010
PS. This was from the pen of Ted. I can take no credit for it.
What else he said:
Mr. Ignatieff's year-end interviews included a misty-eyed commitment to reconquer Canada this winter by conducting a lengthy national tour of that place where (apparently, in Mr. Ignatieff's view) most Canadians are to be found – "the universities."
Somebody keep an eye on Iggy: make sure he's not handing out resumes.
Sunday, January 03, 2010
And at the beginning of every year, they'll promise to get tough on crime and repeal the gun registry.
Saturday, January 02, 2010
Our Conservative Government introduced a total of 70 bills and, even in this minority parliament, 34 of those bills, or half, received Royal Assent.
Michael Geist, on the other hand, puts the number a bit lower, and has the links to back him up:
Only 27 of the 64 Government bills introduced during the current session have received royal assent, leaving 37 bills in need of a restart.
Either way, back in the 38th parliament the Libs were batting .560. Furthermore, one of the bills passed was Bill C-38 - the Civil Marriage Act. Compare that to the bucket of chicken-feed this session represents.
Friday, January 01, 2010
With these documents on the public record, Mr. Harper could then cross the street to Rideau Hall to request a vote on Tuesday April 12th, explaining to voters that Canada needs a single set of safe hands on the wheel (namely, his!) to deal with the next phase of the economic recovery through gradual expenditure restraint and no tax increases.
The discrepancy is because Norm got the day wrong until someone in the comments told him April 12th was a Monday.
Poor calender reading skills aside, this
Waiting until the fall would also give Michael Ignatieff more time to recover from his disastrous 2009. On the other hand, dropping a quick writ in the spring — a page straight out of the Jean Chrétien playbook — would throw a spanner in the Liberals’ thinkers conference, planned for Montréal from March 26 to 28.
... makes some sense. So I am rather hoping Iggy et al have some kind of policy "plan B" ready should this "thinkers conference" abruptly need to be called off. I have been told that they do, that's there's been stuff ready since the election threats back in September. We may soon find out.
...although I think a good portion of Harper's current "popularity" (under majority support in all polls) is predicated on his not being seen to act opportunistically, and that it will dissipate if he triggers an election. But, again, we may soon find out.
Kenney apparently confused KAIROS Canada, a charity with a 35-year history of good deeds to its credit, with a small, unrelated Palestinian group. It's a grievous error roughly equivalent to calling a group of Norwegian photo buffs, the Kristiansund Kamera Klubb or KKK, a white supremacist group. (We note that some among KAIROS Canada have called for an end to bloodshed and violence in the Middle East: hardly an anti-Semitic view.)
The gong-show gongs on.