Friday, July 31, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says there is no need for another federal election in times of economic instability.And two:
Harper insists the priority for Canadians is to have Parliament take care of the economy.
The prime minister says the current economic recovery is fragile and would be undermined by another election and more political instability.
Canada's opposition Liberals have regained a slight lead in public opinion over the ruling Conservatives, but neither party has enough support to be sure of winning an election if one were held now, a weekly poll showed on Thursday.
The Ekos survey for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp put the Liberals at 34.1 percent support, up from 32.5 percent last week. The Conservatives were at 32.5 percent, down from 32.8 percent.
"The (Conservatives) would probably narrowly lose an election if it were held right now," Ekos President Frank Graves said in a statement.To be fair, this is not a major breakaway or anything like that and these things have been seesawing...but we do enjoy a little juxtaposition here and there...
Monday, July 27, 2009
As a refresher here...the Conservatives are disputing Elections Canada's ruling against them which effectively held that the Conservatives had overspent beyond their national election spending limit of $18.3 million in the 2006 federal campaign by about $1.2 million. The Conservatives, however, allege that they were entitled to shift $1.2 million in national ad expenses to various local candidates who had budget room, i.e., that money went "in-and-out" of local campaign accounts usually within the same day to purchase national tv ads. The upshot of the Conservative position is an end-run around national spending limits. A cash rich federal party, once it reaches its federal spending limit, can just start transferring national ad expenses down to the local candidates. In this way, they can gain millions of dollars in advantage over other parties when we are supposed to have national (and local) election spending limits. (The local candidates also get to claim refunds from the taxpayer for that "in-and-out" money which they didn't properly raise, a suspect claim as well.)
So, the Conservatives were seeking to move up the November court dates to August or September. Arguing that if they won, they could implement their in-and-out scheme once again for a possible fall 2009 federal election:
Last week, the Conservatives' lawyer Michel Decary asked that the court move the four-day hearing to August or September so the party could use the same advertising strategy in a possible fall election, should it be deemed legal, that was used in 2006.And if they lost, then they would at least have the hearings out of the way of that possible fall federal election:
While Decary said he had no special knowledge of election timing from his client, he told Lutfy that the Nov. 23 to 26 sitting would likely fall "right dead-centre" in the campaign.
Decary made the remarks during a conference call with Lutfy and Elections Canada's lawyer, Barbara McIsaac. In a previous letter to Lutfy, Decary noted the minority government could fall at any time and said Conservatives were concerned the case would be heard at a time when party officials were busy campaigning. (emphasis added)
That's the risk that has always been present in the Conservative pursuit of this litigation against Elections Canada. Yet the Conservatives apparently view the court system as one more item to seek to manipulate for maximum electoral advantage. Very glad the judge said no to this request, in contrast to the successful scheduling manipulation that was permitted last fall during the Cadman litigation/fall election concurrence.
While this news was a small procedural defeat for the Conservatives, it's a reminder that the Conservatives are still intent on pushing the limits of the election spending regime. And, of course, that there may be a resolution of this civil case one way or another in the next six months.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
As important as rail was to the founding of Canada, telecommunications is to holding Canada together today (The Fight For Nortel - Report on Business, July 24). The federal government must intervene to ensure that Nortel’s assets continue to serve Canada’s strategic interest. A bailout does not make sense but ensuring the assets remain under Canadian oversight is in our interest.Nice term that's been christened here, fitting. Doesn't exactly roll off the tongue for electoral sloganeering or anything, but it certainly captures a big story that needs to be told.
Unfortunately, this government has willingly sacrificed the public interest before (the lumber industry, medical isotopes, wheat marketing). Stephen Harper’s economic deconstructionism is making John Diefenbaker’s sacrifice of our aerospace industry look trivial in comparison.
Eugene Parks, Victoria
Friday, July 24, 2009
Canadian officials have begun researching whether and what kind of foreign purchases of Nortel Networks assets might be subject to government restrictions, Industry Minister Tony Clement said on Thursday.
Flying by the seat of their pants, ladies and gentlemen...
On Friday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty vouched for RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie's quest to acquire Nortel assets.
“I think he's a great Canadian and I think he's entirely right to ask for the government to be concerned about the issue,” Mr. Flaherty said in Toronto, where he was attending a public event.
“What we want to see is a level playing field, we don't want to see anyone excluded from the process with respect to the sale of the assets of Nortel.”
However, Mr. Flaherty said it's up to Industry Minister Tony Clement to make any ultimate decisions.
Mr. Clement said this week that he wouldn't intervene in Nortel's auction, but that he hoped Nortel would meet with RIM executives to discuss a compromise.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Now if you are a Liberal, what to do with bombs launched your way? Apparently, be very careful in how you the Liberal catch such mud balls. Must be very fine in wrestling with the pigs in the mud. It gets you editorials that suggest you're equally guilty of "eroding civility in federal politics." Which is nonsense. Leaving the Conservatives unredressed is a recipe for exactly that. We could go on. But let's not be afraid of putting responsibility for such incidents where they properly lie. But for MP Brown's asinine remarks, no instance of "egregious incivility" would be taking up valuable real estate on the pages of a national newspaper.
Here are the key findings and recommendations:
* In light of public allegations of mistreatment of detainees, SIRC believes that CSIS failed to give full consideration to Khadr’s possible mistreatment by US authorities before deciding to interact with them on this matter.These findings and recommendations are remarkable for a few reasons.
* SIRC believes that CSIS failed to take into account that while in US custody, Khadr had been denied certain basic rights which would have been afforded to him as a youth. As well, prior to his interview with the Service, Khadr had received no guidance or assistance from any adult who had his best interests in mind since he had been kept incommunicado and been denied access to legal counsel, consular representation or family members.
* SIRC believes that had CSIS followed policy on investigative activities abroad and prepared a detailed request for approval, it would have compelled a discussion and consideration of factors such as Khadr’s age, detention conditions and legal status before deciding to travel to Guantanamo Bay.
* SIRC recommends that CSIS develop a policy framework to guide its interactions with youth. As part of this process, the Service should ensure that these interactions are guided by the same kind of principles that are entrenched in Canadian and international law.
* It is incumbent upon CSIS to implement measures to embed the values stemming from recent political, judicial and legal developments in its day-to-day work in order to maintain its own credibility, and to meet growing and evolving expectations of how an intelligence agency should operate and perform in a contemporary democratic society. To that end, it would be helpful if CSIS received guidance and advice from the Minister on how to accomplish this task. In light of ongoing discussions to expand CSIS’s mandate to include foreign intelligence collection, it is also important for the Service to demonstrate that it has the professionalism, experience and know-how required to make the difficult decisions that arise when conducting operations abroad. (emphasis added)
First, the recommendation that CSIS develop a policy for its interactions with youth and that it incorporate principles of Canadian and international law is essentially SIRC acknowledging the merits of the trial level decision in Khadr v. Canada (et al.). In ordering the Harper government to seek the repatriation of Khadr, the Federal Court judge heavily relied upon Khadr's status as a child, someone deserving of the protections under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The judge also relied on the factors cited by SIRC above, that he didn't have access to legal counsel, consular assistance, contact with family members, etc. Bullet point 2 above mimics paragraph 70 & ff of O'Reilly's judgment.
Is it lost on anybody that SIRC is essentially advocating the adoption of key findings of the Khadr trial level decision while the Harper government is in the midst of appealing that decision to the Federal Court of Appeal?
SIRC has therefore gone on record. They've staked out their view on what should happen from this point forward, irrespective of the appellate level decision by the Federal Court where the Harper government is hoping to get lucky. In this sense, SIRC's report is a major slap not only to CSIS but to the government.
Harper has famously refused to even acknowledge that Khadr was a child soldier and deserving of those protections, contrary to the UN Convention: ("My understanding of international law is, to be a child soldier, you have to be in an army," he said in the pre-taped interview.) So SIRC, in addition to the Federal Court in the Khadr case, in a sense is challenging Harper on that point too. They are advising that CSIS adopt these recommendations which essentially mirror Judge O'Reilly's tenets and irrespective of the Court of Appeal's outcome.
So we see yet another institutional break from the Harper government in the national security realm. While we don't have any faith whatsoever that Minister Peter Van Loan and the rest of the gang who can't shoot straight on foreign affairs will act on these recommendations, it's significant that SIRC's gone on record, publicly. Their recommendations will outlive this government. We should applaud the effort to tell the world that Canada is not completely retrograde. Institutions are lining up to brightly magnify the Harper government's foreign policy and legal failings.
- April 24, 2009: Against the appeal of the Khadr judgment
- June 4, 2009: Four cheers for the Federal Court: attempting to correct Harper government international incompetence
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Here's Lindsey Graham putting to Sotomayor anonymous comments from lawyers about her judging, all of which are derogatory and which, you can imagine, may have their motivations:
Here's the transcript of the exchange, just to show how far the anonymous comments went and, to be fair, to note that they were premised with Graham's avowal that he may vote for her despite venturing down this road:
(UNKNOWN): OK. Now, let's talk about you. I like you, by the way, for whatever that matters. Since I may vote for you that ought to matter to you. One thing that stood out about your record is that when you look at the almanac of the federal judiciary, lawyers anonymously rate judges in terms of temperament. And here's what they said about you. She's a terror on the bench. She's temperamental, excitable, she seems angry. She's overall aggressive, not very judicial. She does not have a very good temperament. She abuses lawyers. She really lacks judicial temperament. She believes in an out -- she behaves in an out-of-control manner. She makes inappropriate outbursts. She's nasty to lawyers. She will attack lawyers for making an argument she does not like. She can be a bit of a bully. When you look at the evaluation of the judges on the Second Circuit, you stand out like a sore thumb in terms of your temperament. What is your answer to these criticisms?A few points. It's just so unremarkable that an appellate judge would ask tough questions. Graham's digging into the realm of anonymous comments where lawyers can take freebie pot shots at a tough judge, who may in fact have ruled against them, demonstrates the stretching going on among Republicans to formulate a substantive bit of consent and advice.
SOTOMAYOR: I do ask tough questions at oral arguments.
(UNKNOWN): Are you the only one that asks tough questions in oral arguments?
SOTOMAYOR: No, sir. No, not at all. I can only explain what I'm doing which is when I ask lawyers tough questions, it's to give them an opportunity to explain their positions on both sides and to persuade me that they're right. I do know that, in the Second Circuit, because we only give litigants 10 minutes of oral argument each, that the processes in the second circuit are different than in most other circuits across the country. And that some lawyers do find that our court, which is not just me, but our court generally, is described as a hoc bench, it's term that lawyers use. It means that they're peppered with questions.
Lots of lawyers who are unfamiliar with the process in the second circuit find that tough bench difficult and challenging.
(UNKNOWN): If I may interject, judge, they find you difficult and challenging more than your colleagues. And the only reason I mention this is that it stands out. When you -- there are many positive things about you and these hearings are designed to talk about the good and the bad and I never liked appearing before a judge that I thought was a bully. It's hard enough being a lawyer, having your client there to begin with, without the judge just beating you up for no good reason. Do you think you have a temperament problem?
(UNKNOWN): No, sir. I can only talk about what I know about my relationship with the judges of my court and with the lawyers who appear regularly from our circuit. And I believe that my reputation is stuck as such that I ask the hard questions, but I do it evenly for both sides.
(UNKNOWN): And in fairness to you, there are plenty of statements in the record in support of you as a person, that do not go down this line.
But I will just suggest to you, for what it's worth, judge, as you go forward here, that these statements about you are striking. They're not about your colleagues. The ten-minute rule applies to everybody and that obviously you've accomplished a lot in your life, but maybe these hearings are time for self-reflection. This is pretty tough stuff that you don't see from -- about other judges on the second circuit. (emphasis added)
But his willingness to suggest that she has a temperament problem based on what appear to be over the top comments motivated by some intense dislike is inappropriate. Sure, he's playing his Republican role to the hilt. But the tenor of those comments suggest that perhaps it is the anonymous lawyers with the temperament problems who have chosen to comment on her with such language. She's a terror...excitable...out of control. And the fact that Sotomayor elicits such remarks at all - along with good ones, by the way, unstated by Graham - when her colleagues on her bench apparently do not...do we really need to think too hard about any of this? File under things you don't hear being said about male judges. But file under things you may well hear being said about women hispanic judges.
Sotomayor's demeanour and response to Graham's questions are fair enough indications of the "temperament" she would bring to the bench.
This follow-up video seems to put Graham's bit in better perspective:
Monday, July 13, 2009
Please do not inadvertently inform Stephen Harper that professional cyclist Mikhail Ignatiev is currently racing in the Tour de France for Russia's Team Katusha, not for the Liberal Party of Canada.
Should he become aware of this, the Prime Minister may well then publicly denounce the Leader of the Opposition for being absent from Canada yet again – and then have to rapidly backpedal while the cyclist will just continue to pedal on around France as rapidly as he can.
John Somerset, Chelmsford, Ont.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Pundits' Guide explains why these just released datasets are notable:
Until this point, Elections Canada had only made boundary files of the federal ridings public. But as any political junkie will tell you, they want the poll-by-poll data to really make sense of what happened in a certain riding. Elections Canada does publish the poll-by-poll numeric results, but until now, THERE WAS NO WAY TO ACTUALLY KNOW WHERE THOSE POLLS WERE (unless you were a senior party activist with access to the data, a university student or professor, or someone with extra piles of cash sitting around to buy the physical maps, and tons of time on hand to construct your own boundary files).Here are a few of the city results that citizens have created thus far...
Vancouver (click all images to enlarge):
Downtown Toronto (7 ridings):
That would be Parkdale-High Park, my riding, on the far left. Only red & orange, no blue, so sad. The colours, of course, match the individual polls won by the particular party.
The two largely orange ridings would be Trinity-Spadina & Toronto-Danforth. Toronto-Centre, Bob Rae's riding is quite red. Overall, not much blue except for patches in Rosedale and Forest Hill and perhaps a few condo areas on the waterfront (which seems strange).
They've also done Quebec City, Central Nova, Edmonton-Strathcona, Saskatoon-Biggar and there may be others by the time you check in with it.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Dear Ms. Ablonczy,Hope he gets a fulsome response.
We gave up permanent residence in the US because their rigid ideology caused brutal social, financial and political consequences and returned home in 2007.
We expected aggressive political debates based on reason and focused on the future of Canada. We got Supreme Leader Trost’s keen intellect focused on tired, ugly history.
Please judge my unskilled editing to see if it improves his stirring proclamation:"Canadian taxpayers, even non-social-conservative ones, don't want their tax dollars to go to events that are polarizing or events that are more political than touristic in nature,"Does his simplistic fervour really represent Conservative policy? Your comments, and those of your colleagues, are welcome.
MM (address withheld)
Keep writing those emails, Canadians!
Obama arrives in Italy with a new U.S. pledge to agree to a target of global temperatures increasing no more than 2 C, a goal the previous American administration strongly opposed.Well wait and see no more! No G8 discussion even required. Suddenly, a Canadian position is borne: "PM to back 2-degree goal at G8 summit." Here's some of what Soudas is now saying:
But three senior Canadian officials, including Soudas, could not articulate a government position on the 2 C target at Monday's briefing: "We should wait and see how the discussion goes," said one official.(emphasis added)
Signalling a different approach to climate change, a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper suggested Canada will not oppose a declaration at the G8 summit that would limit global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial averages.
It's a limit that the European Union and some developing countries have argued is critical to curbing widespread environmental damage.
"We're relatively open and supportive of that," said press secretary Dimitri Soudas, hours before landing in Rome.
Agreement on a limit to global temperature increases is believed to require tougher short- and mid-term actions by countries such as Canada to cut back on their greenhouse gases.Of course you do! It only took what, 48 hours for the brand spanking new position to be formulated. Must have been some flight, working it all out on the back of the napkins and all. Flying by the seat of their pants takes on a whole new meaning. And it's what, only Canada's position on a serious issue that's suddenly sprung forth within that time frame.
The Conservative government, though it endorses the fight against global warming, has postponed tough regulations on large industrial "greenhouse gas" emitters.
Soudas shrugged off questions about whether such a commitment would require even stricter industrial regulations: "We're for tougher regs; we think everyone should have tougher regs."
Why the sudden commitment? Well, it's likely been given because the real climate change discussions don't happen until the Copenhagen conference in December of this year. Until that conference happens, why not put on a happy face and say, get some electoral brownie points in Canada? We very well could have an election between now and the Copenhagen conference. They probably view this as a bit of a freebie then, a no-brainer for election purposes.
Speaking of Copenhagen, have you looked at the front page of the Copenhagen web site lately? The Harper government's lagging is getting a good amount of attention. We lead the site with news of domestic opposition to the Harper government's recent pathetic environmental performance: "Political battle over Canadian climate." (They have flattering pictures of the PM over there at the Copenhagen site too...:)) Again, this is more motivation for the Harper crew to roll over at the G8.
Besides, we know what the Harper gang will likely be up to in the interim, don't we? The brown envelopes tell all: they agree publicly to something, yet attempt to undermine it privately.
Then again, maybe this is all perfectly legit...nah, sorry, don't believe a word of it. Their credibility deficit is just too deep for some of us, with good reason.
Monday, July 06, 2009
Denis Coderre is quoted in the report, sounding remarkably on the same message as Michael Ignatieff at the Stampede, in respect of the Conservative "pedophile" ads against the Bloc being a desperate measure, an attack at a level to which no one should descend. They're playing that one pretty well. It's become an opportunity for the Liberals to step in and make a positive appeal for higher standards in political debate. The Liberals appear to Quebec voters like they're doing a decent thing, sticking up for a fellow political party that's being outlandishly denigrated, yet they simultaneously maintain that they're against the Bloc. Not bad. Appeals to federalists and soft-nationalist Bloc voters.
Even if we assume these ads have some effect, where would Bloc voters go? Likely not to the Conservatives. At least not the way things look now. There's a Globe report today on the continuing saga of sinking Conservative fortunes in Quebec, with word now that the floundering ADQ and Harper's dalliance with them is falling apart, that some of the party is looking to the Liberals given Conservative unpopularity. Fluid, they say. Imagine a Quebec bombarded with the worst kinds of attacks, against both the Bloc and the Liberals in whatever ad campaign the Conservatives have planned for Quebec, next. What would be the outcome of that poison brew?
And then... there's the real jazz, as in this guy, Patrick Watson, who apparently gave quite a show at the Montreal Jazz festival Sunday night. Here's some of it from the Gazette:
And a brief clip from the Youtubes:
If you can't be there, the next best thing. Short clips but he seems remarkably talented and was very well-reviewed. What a great night that must have been, feels like summer when the Jazz festival gets in full gear. And a nice break from all that stuff above...:)
Sunday, July 05, 2009
A post-victory (finally) interview with Senator Al Franken, given to a smaller Minnesota organization, The UpTake, who apparently were quite active in covering his recount & legal battles for the past many months. Funny in parts and you get a sense of how great it's going to be to see Franken in the U.S. Senate. A breath of fresh air. He says he'll be sworn in on Tuesday by VP Biden.
Friday, July 03, 2009
He's not an American President. Why won't anyone say no to this person?
Update (Friday a.m.): Letter to the editor of the National Post today with another perspective:
In watching the events from Ottawa on Canada Day, I was astounded to note that our Prime Minister took the salute from the military. This breach of protocol on our national day of celebration is an insult to our head of state, the Queen. In Canada, only the head of state or her representative, the governor-general, are entitled this honour. Michaelle Jean did receive a secondary salute; that should have indeed been the only one.
I've witnessed the erosion of royal prerogatives and protocol in the past three decades, but this latest infringement bears comment. We are a constitutional monarchy. If Stephen Harper wishes to emulate the protocol of our neighbour to the south and aspire to a quasi-presidential style of honours, I would suggest that he move to that republic. The term, "prime minister," in effect, states that the holder of that office is the first minister of the Crown and as such, he serves the Crown/the people.
My Canada includes the monarchy.
Regina Silva Robinson, Toronto.
Thursday, July 02, 2009
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
On this Canada Day, we celebrate, as the anthem puts it so well, this "glorious" nation — its history, its future, and its very nature as one of the world’s most stable democracies.Yes, we're envied but it doesn't mean that we shouldn't take time today to reflect on how our limits as a democracy have been pushed this past year, to an extent that was shocking. We don't need to rehash the historic events today, but I'm sure they'll cross quite a few minds.
What we take for granted, the right to vote and have it fairly counted, to live in a land protected by rule of law, is but a dream for far too many people in other nations.
It’s a sobering reminder, as we look around the world today — to the repressive dictatorship of North Korea, the vote-stealing theocracy of Iran or the takeover by military coup in Honduras — that Canada’s system of government, despite its many faults, remains the envy of many people on this planet. (emphasis added)
As for the rule of law, we're seeing it tested and resisted on a too frequent basis in this country these days under this government. We need a government that won't have to be forced, kicking and screaming, to stand up for its citizens abroad. One that won't have to be forced into court repeatedly to live up to its obligations. Soon, I hope and maybe by the time the next Canada Day rolls around, that will be the case.
Have a good one!