Thursday, April 16, 2015

Why are we in Viet Nam Ukraine?

and financing a Monument to the Victims of Communism?   Election 2015.

Cue Chris Alexander's fevered paeon to a new cold war with Russia to the Ukrainian Canadian Congress this past February, and Stephen Harper's remarks in his keynote speech at the Tribute to Liberty dinner for the monument in May last year 
"Nearly one quarter of all Canadians were either held captive by Communism's chains or are the sons and daughters of those who were."
Con MP Wladyslaw Lizon, who beat the former Lib MP by just 1½% of the vote in 2011, is one of three founding members of Tribute to Liberty. Which brings us to...
"Federal political parties have been staunchly showing support for pro-Western aspirations in Ukraine and condemning Russian aggression in the Crimean peninsula. The fact there are more than 1.2 million Canadians of Ukrainian descent may help explain this.
An Ottawa Citizen analysis shows that Canadians identifying themselves as being of Ukrainian represent a potentially game-changing voting bloc in dozens of federal ridings. The fact ridings with large Ukrainian-Canadian populations in Toronto, Winnipeg and parts of Saskatchewan were hotly contested in 2011 speaks to the importance of each party being active on Ukraine."

Berthiaume gives examples of the percentage of Ukrainian-Canadians in those ridings from the last election.  A few of them :

  • Yorkton-Melville, Sask. - 29.3%
  • Elmwood-Transcona in Winnipeg, won by 300 votes - 20.6%
  • Winnipeg North won by 44 votes - 13.3% 
  • Winnipeg South Centre won by 722 votes - 13.4% 
  • Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar - 13.7%
  • Palliser, Sask won by 766 votes  - 11.1%
  • Wascana, Sask - 13.1%
Royal Military College professor and Ukrainian-Canadian Lubomyr Luciuk argues that party affiliation mattered more than the individual MP’s identity in the last election, as when Con MP Ted Opitz in Etobicoke Centre beat Liberal incumbent Borys Wrzesnewskyj, who is of Ukrainian descent. The margin of victory was 26 votes.
"Before the election, the Conservatives accidentally released documents that confirmed they were targeting the riding’s Ukrainian-Canadian community, which numbers 7,955 and represents 7.1 per cent of the population.
“There were Ukrainian-Canadians working for Ted Opitz against a Ukrainian-Canadian because he was in the wrong party at that time,” Luciuk said. “Whereas the Conservative party was making all the right sounds about things Ukrainian.”
Making all the right sounds about things Ukrainian....  Ten days ago the Toronto Symphony Orchestra dropped Ukrainian-born pianist Valentina Lisitsa for her remarks on the conflict in Ukraine on twitter that offended "Ukrainian media outlets". TSO paid her not to play her scheduled concerts.

So now the Cons are sending 200 soldiers off to Ukraine to win an election for them in Canada in October.

Walkom : "Deep in his secret heart, Stephen Harper should whisper a quiet thank you to Russian President Vladimir Putin."

Scott Taylor writes in Harper shoots first; asks questions later
"Far from a democratic institution, the current Ukraine government is a collection of in-fighting oligarchs — some with their own private armies and neo-Nazi militias. With a ranking of 142 on the Corruption Perceptions Index, Ukraine is unsurprisingly the most corrupt country on the European continent. 
If the Harper government is truly seeking to garner the Ukrainian-Canadian vote in advance of this year’s election, it would do better to leverage economic relief for Kiev’s crippling debt load in exchange for implementing truly democratic, progressive reforms."
Yeah, well, "leveraging economic relief for Kiev's crippling debt load" doesn't really cut it on the Cons' new cold war election messaging front.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

World ass oil spill response in Vancouver harbour

Say, remember last year when Rachel Maddow was absolutely gob-smacked to learn that Kinder Morgan had included the economic benefits of oil spills in its National Energy Board application to triple the size of the Trans Mountain pipeline?


Well, funny story there ....

Kinder Morgan-owned company called in to clean up oil spill in English Bay

That would be 2,700 litres of this toxic gunk.

So I guess we owe KM an apology here. 
They were right - there are economic benefits if you're a KM shareholder. 
KM would have liked to get that apology last year, claiming that they were obligated to mention the upside of oil spills in their pitch to NEB. 

Unfortunately NEB said that was crap.

Federal government describes response to fuel spill as “world class”  Conservative MP James Moore

To which Press Progress replied  :On what fucking planet does this look like a "world class" oil spill response?   (I might be paraphrasing slightly here)

World assness in progress.... 
Spill reported at 5 pm by a sailor. 
Nine hours later at 2am there was a boom in place around the leaking bunker fuel now wending its way to the beaches of Kitsilano and West Van.
And finally, 12 hours after the leak was first spotted, someone remembered to let the City of Vancouver in on the secret. 

So how could it possibly have taken so long to get their shit together?

Ok here's a clue. The Cons shut down the key responders in 2013.

We had a marine safety response purge when the Kitsilano Coast Guard base - 6 minutes away from the bunker fuel spill  - was shut down to save $700K a year, and the special pollution response boat with its 300 meters of self-inflating oil- containment boom was moth-balled off to Richmond.

Gotta balance that world class ouroboros budget. 

Volunteers were out cleaning up the gunk off the shoreline themselves and putting up home-made signs warning to keep dogs and children out of the oily water. Good on them. Still, sea birds are notoriously poor readers and some had to be rescued when they got soaked in the gunk after not obeying the signs. 

CBC reports the leaking vessel was on its maiden voyage after being launched from a Japanese shipyard in FebruarySo - a brand new vessel then.

According to Tanker Free BC, the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project "would see an increase from the current 80 tankers a year to over 400 tankers a year carrying primarily tar sands bitumen which is more likely to sink in the marine environment potentially causing significant harm."

Too bad we don't have some kind of ocean traffic control tower to co-ordinate emergency response communications for the next one. ..... Wait for it .....

Fun fact : "Vancouver will also have to deal without a marine traffic communications centre (the ocean's equivalent to an air traffic control tower). The Conservatives shut that down last month, consolidating the Pacific Coast's operations to Victoria and Prince Rupert."


Wednesday, April 08, 2015

"What is Plan B?"

asked Armine Yalnizyan of Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives on CBC's The Current this morning. "What if your plan is not oil?" 

I'll get back to Yalnizyan's Plan B in a moment, but preceding her on the program was TD Bank VP and chief economist Craig Alexander. He spoke to that Bank of Canada survey of 100 executives that came out this week, 62% of whom called for diversification to reduce Canada's dependence on the energy sector as oil prices collapse.

"Energy plus metals and minerals mining amounts to less than 10% of Canadian economy but 25% of the entire Albertan economy," he said, where loss of oil jobs and stagnant wages will also affect retail spending despite a projected $900 saving per family per year at the pumps. So no growth for Alberta and Saskatchewan this year and under a 3% increase for BC and Ontario.  

Two and a half years ago and before the collapse of oil prices, he was calling for investing in childcare and early education in his TD report :
“It is very much an economic topic,” said Alexander. "If you are concerned with skills development, productivity and innovation, you should really care about this subject."

"For every dollar invested, the return ranges from roughly $1.50 to almost $3. For disadvantaged children, the return runs into the double digits ...  it follows that more focus should be put on investing in, and improving the system,” the report says." But later, when we can afford it.

CCPA's Yalnizyan says that time is now :
"In our global economy we need our best and brightest to be our best and brightest. We can ill afford to discount Canadians who cannot afford to upgrade their skills at any point in their lives, not just when they're getting out of high school." 
We are part of global economy in which Canada has fallen from 8th to 11th place while current government policy is directed at "ripping and stripping our natural resources," she said, despite those collapsing oil prices and the coming expense of population aging.

Plan B? Mission-oriented public policy is required, she said, because without it we will just get higher healthcare costs without necessarily any improvement.
Taking your hands off the wheel won't necessarily deliver what we need so how can we make life cheaper for the people who, unlike our corporate hoarders, spend every dollar they earn in the economy? 
"The global economy is transitioning and pivoting away from fossil fuels to renewables and we should be contributing to this fight to find the most energy-efficient ways of using and generating energy .
Focus on healthcare costs in a different way. Spend on social determinants. What causes all round good health?  Better housing, public transportation, education, even income redistribution. Population health-based intervention. 
While 10% of the economy is in the energy sector, 11% of our economy is in the health sector. Use that engine of the economy to improve peoples' lives and get a better bang for the buck.
We spent $14-billion on dental care for children in Saskatchewan and Manitoba in late 70s and early 80s. The mouth is the only part of healthcare that isn't covered."
$14B sounds like a lot to have spent on childrens' health until you consider that the government already spends $13B a year in taxpayer-funded subsidies to oil and gas industries. 

The program wrapped up with Stephen Gordon, economist at LaValle University. 
Shorter and presumably not ironic Gordon : "Oil is our precious. Why can't we just leave the markets a-l-o-o-o-o-o-n-e?"

Monday, April 06, 2015

Edward Snowden and "dick-pics"

Funny, sad, brilliant. 

John Oliver has done a very clever thing here ... and that's all I'm gonna say - just watch it.

Bonus: Ex-CIA John Kiriakou on Canada's intelligence safeguards: "You're kidding me."

Toronto lawyer Rocco Galati, whose privileged conversations with his clients were wiretapped three years ago : "It’s all a smokescreen. SIRC isn’t there to do anything but make it look like it’s doing something to oversee CSIS. Nobody is doing anything to oversee CSIS. They’re out-of-control renegades."

 "If CSIS can get away with bugging a lawyer’s phone calls with his client, imagine what the spy service will do when Bill C-51 becomes law."
Update :  Anon in comments : The photos of your junk will be publicized 
and also Boris' brilliance from comments below, reposted here. :
"2015 turned out to be a bizarre year for the surveillance state. 
In April, John Oliver interviewed Edward Snowden about the spy agencies spying and used a "dick pic" to make his point. Later, the Canadian government passed Bill C-51 giving its spy agency free reign. 
The "Dick Pic Revolution" began shortly thereafter and by December googling "dick pic" brought up over 500 trillion hits. It was estimated that 25-35% of all the penises in the world were now digitized and that fewer than 1% of searches would now be free of dick pics within the first 25 hits. 
Rebel hacker group Anonymous joined the fray by hacking into government and corporate email programs and installing a virus, later made available freely for any disgruntled government or corporate employee to install at their workplace, that would attach a random dick pic to every email sent from those addresses."

Friday, April 03, 2015

One minute against austerity in Montreal

A one minute time lapse of yesterday's student strike against austerity in Montreal. 
Austerity - that's when your government impoverishes its citizens by decimating public services like education and health in order to balance its lining of corporate pockets with tax breaks.

“Our services are worth more than your profits” is the slogan of the march.
Quebec police declared the march illegal before it began - itself an illegal move on their part in Quebec - highlighting why the Cons' didn't want to fix that bit about *illegal* strikes in Bill C-51.

Ricochet : Everything you need to know about Quebec’s latest student strike

Flashback to G&M last May : Canadian businesses accumulating ‘dead money’ faster than other G7 countries :
"Statistics Canada data shows Canada’s corporate cash hoard was $626 billion in the last quarter of 2013, a jump of six per cent over the previous quarter — more than the federal debt and almost a third of the country’s gross domestic product."
Let's hear that once again : "Canada’s corporate cash hoard was $626 billion ... more than the federal debt and almost a third of the country’s gross domestic product."
"The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has found that CEO pay for Canadian public companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange has ballooned by 73 per cent between 1998 and 2012, the latest figures available."
So naturally we really really need to bring in a half a million temporary foreign workers who will eventually have to join the underground workforce as Canadian graduate students intern for free and the many of the rest of us struggle to make ends meet with several part time jobs with no benefits.

Think the Quebec student strikes aren't about you?

We will now go to our corporate sponsored media who will interview someone stuck in traffic whining about being inconvenienced by the strike, followed up by Dan Kelly, head of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, whining about how expensive TFWs are.

Meanwhile I'm trying to remember when 75,000 people showed up in the streets of any other Canadian city for something other than a funeral. 

h/t Kev @ Trapped in a whirlpool for G&M and Ricochet links

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

"New shit has come to light, man"

is Glen McGregor's Big Lebowski summation of the latest Jason Kenney follies regarding Canada smart bombing Syria.

Last week DefMin Kenney justified why Canada was about to start bombing Syria at all :
"There are only five coalition partners doing airstrikes against ISIL terror targets in eastern Syria. The United States is the only one of those five that has precision guided munitions. That is a capability the Royal Canadian Air Force has so one of the reasons our allies have requested we expand our air sorties into eastern Syria is because with those precision-guided munitions our CF-18s carry we can be more impactful in the strikes we make against ISIL."
However, in Gen. Tom Lawson tries to dig Jason Kenney out of a bomb crater of his own making, David Pugliese noted that  
"both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, part of the current five country U.S.-led coalition bombing targets in Syria, have precision guided weapons and have already used them against Islamic extremists."
So the DND then trotted out a statement from Lawson defending Kenney :
"As stated by the Minister of National Defence, the Royal Canadian Air Force’s precision targeting capabilities make Canada a valuable partner in the fight against ISIL. ... Currently, only the United States uses these advanced precision-guided munitions in Syria..."
... which Kenney happily waved about in the House on Monday as his vindication against Pugliese's column. Note no mention of coalition partners either having or not having them - a good part of Kenney's justification for pursuing the US into the IS quagmire.

Now today we get to Glen McGregor's Big Lebowski quip as General Tom sends his regrets: Gen. Tom Lawson :
"Since the publication of the letter below, in which I stated that the United States was the only nation that used advanced precision-guided munitions in Syria, new information has come to light,” Lawson explained in a statement. “A coalition ally has in fact used advanced precision-guided munitions in Syria ... "
Department of National Defence sources say Lawson was pressured by Kenney’s office to issue his original statement supporting the minister."
Kenney wasted no time blaming the Defence Department for his own mistake about coalition partners having smart bombs in the House today : 
"I did not receive accurate information in briefings about that. But I have to take responsibility for all of the information provided by my department, including that so I regret that inaccurate information was provided. As soon as more accurate information came to the attention of the military, the CDS issued a clarification."

So either Gen. Tom knew Kenney was full of shit but tried to back up his bs to the public anyway after being leaned on, or Canada's Chief of Defence Staff actually had no clue as to the current military capabilities or actions of our "coalition allies" Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, and the UAE in bombing Syria, or our DefMin just bussed the Chief of Defence.

Not sure which is the worse possibility here really.

Thurs. night update : Michael Den Tandt: Bumbles make the once all-star Jason Kenney seem more like a reflection of Tories’ worst traits
Edited to add quote to pic and Kenney's remarks in the House today.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Harper's Perps with Perks #15

Welcome Vic Toews to Stephen Harper's Perps with Perks for "giving patronage a bad name", as Dan Lett wrote in the Winnipeg Free Press two days ago, .

Appointed to the Queens Court by Justice Minister Peter MacKay in March last year eight months after leaving the Cons cabinet, Toews - a former Justice Minister, Public Safety Minister, and head of the Treasury Board - has spent his time on the Manitoba bench making his presumed future appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada next year a tad more tricky for the Cons. 
"Toews has had his wages garnisheed under an order from a Quebec tribunal for failing to pay thousands of dollars in back rent on a Gatineau condominium.
Toews claimed he did not pay the back rent because he could not understand the tribunal's order and supporting documents, which were written in French."
I'm guessing not recognizing a court order as a legal document is not a strong supporting argument for appointing even a former Attorney-General of Canada to the Supremes.

As to possible conflict of interest guidelines he transgressed last year while lobbying as an employee of his wife's company on behalf of a First Nation he dealt with while in cabinet, and a subsequent court case which revealed his wife allegedly received $50K in compensation, a court official explained to CBC on behalf of Toews :
"As a sitting judge, it would not be appropriate for Justice Toews to comment on your inquiry."  
Quite. Pity though because he's usually so lucid. Here he is three years ago defending his online surveillance bill C-30, the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act, a bill which amusingly mentioned neither children nor predators aside from in its title :


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Harper "whips out" his ISIL lawyer joke

The Con bench seals laugh and clap at Steve's joke blowing off the UN and international law because grade six. 

Harper went on to explain that Canada will be bombing Syria as part of an international coalition, although the US is the only NATO member currently bombing Syria. The other coalition countries bombing Syria are Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, and the UAE. 

This same coalition of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco, and the UAE minus Qatar also began bombing Yemen today. Egypt and Kuwait will be joining the offensive while Pakistan is still considering it. Nobel Peace Prize recipient President Obama has authorized the provision of US logistical and intelligence support to help bomb the Houthi rebels in Yemen who are fighting Al Qaeda and IS.
The Saudi-led air campaign against the Houthis in Yemen is dubbed “Decisive Storm”.

Harper says IS is a threat to Canada and will extend the mission for another year. 
DefMin Jason Kenney says they have no particular exit strategy..

h/t Maclean's for vid.

Update : Kenney whips out his "smart bombs", claiming Canada and the US are the only *coalition* bombing members that have them. David Pugliese shoots it down - both Saudi Arabia and UAE have 'em - in Saudi Arabia's case since 2008.

Harper and Kenney are leaning very heavily on the word 'coalition' in their bomb bomb bomb statements but as to who those coalition members actually are - not so much. 

Update2 : Aaron Wherry weighs in tonight on Harper joking about international law :
 Stephen Harper on the legality of bombing Syria: LOL

Shorter bonus grade six from Wherry : The government's position yesterday was that under UN Article 51, they 1) would be bombing Syria and 2) would not be informing the UN about it because it wasn't required. 
Turns out right in Article 51 it specifies that "Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council" so the government has now *clarified* its earlier stance and will be sending notification after all. 
World stage.

Update 3 : David Pugliese : 
Gen. Tom Lawson tries to dig Jason Kenney out of a bomb crater of his own making

Gwynne Dyer : Yemen: Unintended consequences   and 

Gwynne Dyer explains why terrorism is overblown and why Islamists want western countries to attack the Islamic State


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dear Fred :

Thanks for yet another letter about how your anti-terrorism bill will crack down on ISIS recruiting Canadians over social media.

Have you heard of twitter by any chance? 

But the show must go on, eh? 

Gosh, was it only a year ago you announced a $10 to $14 billion General Dynamics contract to build and sell military LAV IIIs to Saudi Arabia because jobs jobs jobs? 

Sadly the whole jobs jobs jobs angle hasn't really taken off for you, has it? 
So its jihad jihad jihad all the time instead now and later today Steve will announce in the HoC he's going to expand getting his war on in Iraq and Syria for another year because following the US into yet another disastrous cycle of seeing how much worse the next bunch of rabid killers we will create out of it will take Steve's 'war president' shtick past the next election.

Anyhow, Fred, I wanted to thank you for this inspirational line from your letter :
"Those who would attempt to abuse the rights enjoyed by Canadians to spread their ideology of hate must be stopped."
Yeah, come the next election I think the majority of Canadians will be looking into that.


P.S. Almost forgot - please send $15.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Inconvenient Truth About Harper's Canada

Tomorrow night in Ottawa
Michael Harris and Donald Gutstein
discuss how to undo the damage

I really really hope someone has arranged to tape this event and put it up online for those of us not in Ottawa.

Speaking at Goldman Sachs in New York last fall, Harper hinted at a greater military role ahead for Canada and leaving his mark on Canada :
"We've made it a policy of moving incrementally, but constantly, in our eight-and-a-half years in office," he said, citing changes to corporate taxes and a tougher law-and-order stance.
"I think that we've moved, and I think the country has moved with us."

Farley Mowat in "Party of One" : 
"Stalin had small balls compared to this guy. Harper is probably the most dangerous human being ever elevated to power in Canada. How the population has acquiesced in following this son of a bitch, and to let him take over their lives, I’ll never know. You have to create warrior nations, they are not born. They have to be made. It is the preliminary step of a tyrant. And this son of a bitch incited Canada into becoming a warrior nation."
Michael Harris :  
"Harper has simply made the calculation that if the way to give a chameleon a nervous breakdown is to put him down on plaid, the way to win an election in our disappearing democracy is to offer Canadians only two flavours — vanilla or chocolate.That means hitting the hot buttons, over and over. Before oil prices tanked, greed was the button of choice. Now it’s fear. It makes things starkly simple — black and white, good and evil.

As simple as War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery … and Ignorance is Strength. It’s a campaign designed for Idiot Culture. The only question is, are there enough idiots out there to put Harper over the top again?" .

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