Thursday, September 28, 2006

Doris Does Denial


While he has been busy running around demonstrating his support for RCMP commissioner
Giuliano Zaccardelli, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day has somehow found the time to tell his constituency's hometown newpaper, the gargantuan Penticton Herald, that the goings on at the Fortress North America/Deep Integration forum in Banff were not a secret:

No Secret Meeting Says MP
John Moorhouse
Thursday Sept 28, 2006

There was nothing secret about a North American forum in Banff earlier this month, says Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Stockwell Day.


Commenting from Ottawa this week, Day confirmed he was a keynote speaker on the evening of Sept. 13 as federal Minister of Public Safety. "I was addressing the common need for prosperity and security at our borders," he explained. "But we also have to make sure that citizens and commercial travel and our exports go quickly and freely across the border."

OK, Mr. Day. If it wasn't a secret, what did you actually say in your address, and who, specifically, was there?

Regardless his continuing anti-secrecy secrecy, the Safety Pin man did let slip with one bit of concrete information:

Although U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was among the invited guest speakers, he did not attend, Day added.

Hmmmm......Perhaps Rummy had trouble fitting into the neoprene?


And thanks to Locusta emersonia, once again on the comment threads, for passing along the link to Doris' ridiculously unplausibly debilitating bout of deniability. In fact, all this comment thread info is getting to be a veritable treasure trove of specially delivered goods. Which is kinda fun; sort of like a grassroots mini-whirlitzer.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Real Reporting In The Rockies


All right, all right, all right.

We admit it, there is absolutely no hard evidence that Mr. Rumsfeld actually showed up for that Fortress North America/Deep Integration Forum that took place in Banff a couple of weeks ago.

However, one should bear in mind that very little hard evidence about anything that happened there has emerged so far.

Luckily for us there is one reporter that actually went out and did his job. An what's more, he actually had editors that let him write about it.

His name is Aaron Paton and he writes for the 'Banff Crag and Canyon'. We quoted from his original story here.

Now, because it is not yet available online, someone purporting to be Mr. Paton* has been good enough, through the magic of the comment thread, to send us his latest piece on this week's protest against the Conference.

Protesters gather at hotel following secret forum
By Aaron Paton Banff Crag & Canyon staff

A handful of protesters gathered in front of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel Monday to show their disapproval of a secret forum held earlier in the month in Banff that featured politicians, business elite, top military generals and weapons manufacturers from Canada, Mexico and the United States.

The protest came almost two weeks after The North American Forum was held at the Springs from Sept. 12 to 14. and drew a crowd of about 10 protesters, some bearing signs like "we want our country back" and"lost liberty hotel."

The spark of protest was ignited when former National Party leader Mel Hurtig posted news of the meeting on the Internet as it was happening. He has also provided the media with a schedule and a list of attendees dated Aug. 31. Canadians on the list include federal Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed, Admiral Roger Girouard (Commander Joint Task Force Pacific, Cdn. Forces), Alberta Minister of Energy Greg Melchin and Roger Gibbons of the Canada West Foundation.

Former Green Party candidate Chris Foote was appalled that Banffites had been denied what he said was their right to protest during the event and that the media had ignored the issue."What they're really talking about is making one unified North America," Foote said. "It's highly unpopular in all three countries and that's why they're trying to keep it a secret. The business community and (politicians) want to push this through and they don't want anyone to know about it."

Apart from local Bow Valley newspapers, coverage of the event in English has come mostly from bloggers and online news sources, CBC radio and an article written by Council of Canadians national chairperson and activist Maude Barlow in the Calgary Herald and theToronto Star. The story appeared in large Mexican daily newspapers like La Opcion in Chihuahua and La Jornada in Mexico City this week, after coverage appeared first in last week's Crag.

Local activist Aaron Doncaster said the forum is a serious issue that should be addressed more thoroughly in the Canadian media. "It's not necessarily about taking out the borders, but it's about blurring them until they're irrelevant," Doncaster said.

He added that if people aren't informed of meetings like the forum they will be voting for a government that lacks transparency and accountability. "They will vote for a government and they don't know what these guys are up to," Doncaster said. "That's not right. If you lose that knowledge then you've lost democracy completely."

Banff RCMP took pictures as protesters spoke with passersby at the bus stop in front of the hotel. They didn't take kindly to being photographed. "What are you doing here and why are you taking my photo?" Doncaster asked police. "Will this be used against me later?" He accused the RCMP of gathering intelligence on protesters and activists, something he considers a violation of his privacy.

The officers responded by saying that they were "just doing their jobs."

"They have files on everyone from the United Church to peace activists and the Raging Grannies," Doncaster said. "That's part of the reason why people don't want to protest. It's bullying."

A hotel worker at the protest who said they were working during the forum said that U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace, instead of U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, gave a speech on military co-operation. Rumsfeld was scheduled to do a speech entitled Opportunities for Security Co-operation in North America — Military-to-military co-operation, according to Hurtig's information provided to media. Pace's name did not appear on a list of scheduled attendees that was leaked to the Crag soon after the meeting and is now widely available on the Internet or on

"The atmosphere was really tense," the employee said. "There were alot of people there and there were secret service agents walking around the back of the room."(General Pace) came in and walked around the room meeting all the right people, he got up to do his speech, said what he had to say and they moved on to the next meeting."

The employee added that there was nothing particularly sinister about what was said at the forum but admitted to not paying close enoughattention."To me it sounded like all that shit you hear them saying on the news," the employee said. "I didn't really realize the gravity of the situation at the time."

Fairmont Banff Springs spokesperson Lori Grant said the hotel appreciated the peaceful nature of the protest. The office of Stockwell Day said that it does not comment on the private meeting and would not say if the public safety ministerattended the forum.

Banff RCMP did not return phone calls.

Like government, I guess people get the secret deals they deserve.


*We have no reason to believe that the story did not come from the real Mr. Paton. It's just that we have not yet received confirmation from a solid second source, or the movement of a potted plant on Deep Crag's balcony.

Surprise, Surprise!


Who'd a thunk it:

VANCOUVER (CP) - The federal government won't meet its self-imposed Sunday deadline to implement the softwood lumber agreement with the United States, The Canadian Press has learned.

But why, you might be asking yourself?

Well it looks like some Canadian companies have refused to knuckle under.

Complications surrounding the withdrawal of more than 30 pieces of trade litigation, including resistance by some exporters to shelving their suits, make it unlikely a planned softwood border tax will start being levied as of Sunday.

But we thought the MP for CanforCouver Kingsway had that all in hand. After all, didn't he tell us that everybody was onside awhile back?

Which, at the time, had us wondering just how the Canadian Industry Minister did 'convince' Canadian companies to capitulate?

Well, it looks like we now, perhaps, know at least one Mr. Emerson's strategies?

Industry sources said officials in International Trade's softwood lumber division have been calling holdout companies and pressuring them to sign letters withdrawing their trade cases.

One of those officials confirmed to The Canadian Press that companies were being called but would not discuss how many were refusing.

Elliot Feldman, a Washington trade lawyer acting for several lumber firms, said one client was misled by being told he was one of the last holdouts.

"Of the companies we represent, he's one of 19," he said.

So here's the thing......why didn't Mr. Emerson play hardball like this with the Americans?

After all, isn't he supposed to be working for us?


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sammy Maudlin Goes To Europe

Sammy's Spinmeisters Get Busy?



While the Pro-Pols argue about whether it is Sammy himself or Sammy his staff who are to blame for his dismal showing so far as Vancouver Mayor, Mr. Sullivan sets the Olympic overrun deflector spin gun to maximun stun and announces he's goin' to Europe:

Vancouver's mayor is planning a fact-finding trip to Europe early in the new year to look at drug strategy in countries like the Netherlands and Finland.

Sam Sullivan says if crime and disorder can be reduced by some innovative approach that's working elsewhere, the city needs to take a look at it. "

Say what?

No word if Philip Owen will also be making the trip with the maudlinest one.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Which Would Sammy Choose.....

......Curling Rinks Or Sustainable Housing For All?


Remember back when Sam Sullivan and the NPA wrestled control of Vancouver City Hall away from Jim Green and a Vision/COPE coalition in the wake of a James Green-assisted election victory late last year?

And remember Smilin' Sammy's first big move?

Well, in case you've forgotten, he scrapped a long planned progressive and sustainable, 1:1:1 Market/MiddleIncome/Social Housing plan for the massive South East False Creek development.


Because, Sammy said, it would cost the city money, some $50 million dollars that would have come from the City's Property Endowment Fund that is leveraged from, guess who, developers.

Which brings us to curling rinks.

Apparently, Sammy now has no problem with us spending big money on them. Especially when the shortfall is going to be leveraged from, guess who, taxpayers.

Construction of three Olympic venues is still a good deal for the city of Vancouver even though their original price tag has soared by nearly $26 million, Mayor Sam Sullivan said Thursday.

"We are all going to be using these facilities for years into the future," said Sullivan. "We had to build them anyways."

Sullivan said the projects are "highly subsidized" -- a reference to Vanoc's contribution of $43 million toward the Hillcrest curling rink and two new practice ice rinks to be built at Killarney and Trout Lake community centres.

Now you could argue that $26 million 'extra' is a bargain for some much needed sheets of ice. And you might be right, but no matter how you add it up they sure are tough to sleep on.

And who said the number is going to stop at 26 + six zeroes anyway?

I mean, it's not like VANOC hasn't been a wee bit off before.



Sunday, September 24, 2006

Root Causes In Their Esteemable Estimates


The latest in the war to create terra......

WASHINGTON Sept 24, 2006 (AP) - The Iraq war has contributed to an increased threat of terrorism, according to an intelligence assessment that has not lessened the Senate majority leader's defense of the U.S.-led invasion three years ago and occupation.

The classified assessment of the war's impact on terrorism came in a National Intelligence Estimate that represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government, an intelligence official said Sunday. The official, confirming accounts first published in Sunday's New York Times and Washington Post, spoke on condition of anonymity because the report is classified.

The report found that the war has helped create a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn. said he had not seen the classified report, which was completed in April, but said Americans understand the United States must continue to fight terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere.

``Either we are going to be fighting this battle, this war overseas, or it's going to be right here in this country,'' Frist said on ABC's ``This Week,'' echoing an argument that President Bush frequently makes.

Two things.

First, that National Intelligence Estimate is an American document from 16 American 'spy service' entities. Clearly some among them have decided scale the walls of their stovepipes built by the likes of Mr. Cheney and uber-spy master Mr. Negroponte.

Second, it has already been demonstrated that graphic images from foreign terror honeytraps have indeed been used as propaganda tools to help recruit and radicalize 'homegrown' (ie. Western-based) terrorists:

Mohammad Sidique Khan blew himself up on 7 July (2005) while travelling on the London Underground near to Edgware Road. He killed himself and six other people.

As the oldest of the four bombers, investigators assume he was the ringleader.

Earlier this week, new footage of him denouncing the West and criticising Muslim leaders emerged on the internet.

While Khan's path into terrorism has been blamed on radical mosques and a lack of integration into British society, the BBC investigation reveals that neither of these appeared to be factors in his radicalisation.

BBC reporter Nasreen Suleaman has uncovered close friends who say that his radicalisation happened in backrooms in Yorkshire, rather than in religious institutions or foreign trips.

In the documentary "Khalid", a former member of Khan's inner circle, says that Khan became part of a tight-knit group of young, radicalised Muslim men from Dewsbury, Leeds and Huddersfield.

The men used to spend time paintballing, trips that would take place immediately after watching extremely violent videos depicting Muslim suffering around the world.

Another of the bombers, Germaine (or Jamal) Lindsay was also involved in this group, according to Khalid.

"Before we would leave the house, there would sometimes be a video reflecting what's happening in Palestine or Chechnya or other places where Muslims were affected," Khalid tells the documentary.

"Looking back on it now I do find it a bit weird that we had such a viewing. I can see why some youth would be affected by this - they get fired up, they get stirred up - and having the airing of that video might not have been in the best interests of certain people.

"Mohammad Sidique Khan was there but someone else was introducing the videos."

Now, with respect to root causes that is all scary enough.

But here's something about Mr. Khan that is even scarier, and more chilling, especially if you are even slightly inclined to give some credence to the Bush doctrine clap-trap about how it's important to make war to ensure that we are "fightin' 'em over there so we don't have to fight 'em over here."

The documentary also reveals for the first time details of Khan's earlier life, including his apparent dream to become an American.

Khan as a teenager shook off his Pakistani-Muslim identity, claim friends, and chose to present himself as an exclusively westernised young man going by the nickname "Sid".

"He seemed to have more white friends than Asian friends," said one of his closest friends from school days, Rob Cardiss.

"He used to hang around with white lads playing football. And he was very English. Some of the other Pakistani guys used to talk about Muslim suffering around the world but with Sidique you'd never really know what religion he was from."


For interest's sake I decided to go see what Mr. Negroponte is up to these days. Seems he's looking for new honeypots in......ummmm.........Lebanon.
Finally, to my knowledge, but I'd be happy to be corrected if I'm wrong, there have been no terrorist reprisals, either internally or externally launched, against any country due to their legitimate and goodfaithed 'peacekeeping' (ie. as opposed to their 'warmaking') efforts.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

He Even Kinda Looks Like Steve Martin...


In the past, I've been critical of a number of Gary Mason's Globe columns because they so often re-hashed the obvious.

Sort of like those "read the producers' quesions no matter what" interviews conducted by the Puffmaster Flash, only with ink instead of sound.

But today's Mason column about his son's coming of age, and the changes it means for him as a Dad, was actually pretty good.

A little cliched perhaps, but solid.

Better than 'Cheaper By The Dozen - 2' that's for sure.

Clearly, Mr. Mason's forte is human interest stuff, which is probably what made him a decent sports columnist.

Thus, like Cluffie, maybe he should stick to that and leave the analysis of complex issues to others.

Unfortunately, Mr. Mason's column is locked behind Fast Eddie G's subscription wailing wall here.


Friday, September 22, 2006

What! No Surcharge On The Surcharge?


Remember when Keith Baldrey went all a-googly after BC Ferries Chairman David Hahn wrapped the cord around him, yanked it hard, and started him spinning like a top the very night that the Queen of the North sank?

"Early last Wednesday morning - just after 2 a.m. - my home phone rang. That's usually a reason for concern - the first thing that springs to mind is a family emergency somewhere. But this call was about another kind of emergency.

"Keith, it's Dave Hahn. Sorry about the early call, but I thought you should know. One of our vessels has just gone down north of Vancouver Island. I'm trying to get an update on the passengers. I'll keep you informed, but I thought you might want to get going on this."

It was a startling phone call, to say the least. Startling because the ferry had only sunk about an hour before, startling because of the potential magnitude of the ferry disaster, and startling because of the forthrightness of the man who runs BC Ferries.

Mr. Hahn and I talked several more times in the early hours of that morning. He would phone with updates - the most important of which was about the state of the passengers - and try to provide as much information as possible.

As the morning went on, he started appearing seemingly everywhere - one minute on CKNW, the next moment on CBC Radio, the next on Global TV. BC Ferries had hastily chartered a plane to fly Mr. Hahn and Premier Gordon Campbell to Prince Rupert to meet the Queen of the North's passengers. He invited me and a Global cameraman to accompany them......


It's a refreshing approach from the head of a large company, and one that I suspect resonates well with the general public."

Well, I wonder if Mr. Hahn arranged for a plane to fly Mr. Baldrey up to his summer place so they can spend the weekend discussing this:

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) - You may be enjoying the lower pump prices when you go to fill up your car, but don't expect BC Ferries to drop its fuel surcharge.

Despite reporting a surplus earlier this month, the corporation says it is carrying a fuel deficit. CEO and president David Hahn says the it is because the company initially waited too long to apply for relief from the BC Ferry Commission. He told a small audience at the corporation's annual general meeting that in hindsight the company should have applied for surcharges as early as late 2004, but banked on rising fuel costs dropping back to historic levels.

Now BC Ferries is facing a $21 million deficit fuel account, which Hahn said must be paid down before surcharges can be reduced. Earlier this month the company released its fiscal report that showed overall profits are up to nearly $15 million while fewer people are taking the ferries

So, which is it?

Do we have a surplus or a deficit at BC Ferries, or what?

Because, so far the biggest ballyhoo, especially from the spun media in this province, has been on the surplus side.

And just how is BC Ferries making more money when fewer people are taking the Ferries in the apparent absence of significant rate increases?

Could it have something to do with those egregious 'reservation' fees of $35 a trip on the major routes that are not considered to be part of the 'fare'?



Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ya, But Can He Play Tony Danza?


As Alison notes, it looks like a bunch of us scufflers in the bloggodome may have played a small part in forcing a tiny segment of the mainstream media to at least pay lip service to the 'Anschluss In The Rockies' story.

The latest is the Ceeb, whose report on the secret meeting on North American Deep Integration is essentially warmed over Mel Hurtig.

But one of the real heroes of the story, according to this piece in the Rocky Mountain Outlook (and others), appears to be a guy named Chris Foote:

Chris Foote, a former Green Party candidate in Wild Rose, is organizing the Monday protest on the sidewalk outside the Fairmont Banff Springs. “It has to be peaceful, no violence, or we’ll just end up like Rumsfeld.

“People in my taxi were making chatter (during the event). None are willing to give their names to the media, but they will to a cab driver.”

Foote said he also talked with people who saw Prime Minister Stephen Harper in town.

The protest, he said, “is to try to get people out to show their objection to a secret conference. Hopefully, it will convince the Banff Springs to not hold secret conferences.”

That's right.

The whistle blower on the ground is an environmentalist who drives a hack for a living.

Actually, by all appearances, our man Foote looks to be a pretty interesting, multifaceted guy.


StratCo(u)n Keeps Pushing?


Remember when Strategic Counsel polls helped 'push' that Big Mo' towards the WestCoast LINOCons in May 2005 and the CRAPtacular Cons in Jan 2006?

Well looks like they've been at it again; this time helping the MP for Canforcouver Kingsway push his Softwood Capitulation For The Nation in this past spring:

VANCOUVER (CP) - The Conservative minority government appears to have been on firm political ground as it aggressively pushed for a softwood lumber agreement with the United States, a poll obtained by The Canadian Press indicates.

The public opinion survey suggests that even before the deal was finalized, enough Canadians were prepared to support it that the Tories felt confident to push ahead over widespread objections from the lumber sector and provincial governments.

The poll, done May 18-20, was produced for the Department of International Trade by the firm Strategic Counsel three weeks after Ottawa and Washington initialled a framework for negotiations that led to a final text on July 1.

Push, Baby Push......

And don't stop now.

Because The 'New' Government of Canada has got a whole lotta policy to shove into those new-fangled frames.

And just who might have been 'exposed' to said poll you might be wondering? Well, that's a good question, especially when you consider the fact that the CP could only get its hands on it after an 'Access To Information' request. Funny how CanWest no longer uses CP, t'aint it?


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

There Are Things We Know.....

......And There Are Things We Know We Don't Know


And one of those things is whether or not Donald Rumsfeld actually showed up for that Canadian/US 'Deep Integration' conference in Banff last week.

But now, thanks to the first mainstream news organ to break through 'Doris and The Minions'' cone of silence, we know the title of what Mr. Rumsfeld's address was supposed to be:

An internal document obtained by the Banff Crag & Canyon shows that Rumsfeld was scheduled to be a keynote speaker on Wednesday, Sept. 13, although no one at the hotel would confirm or deny that he was in Banff.

Reported sightings of Rumsfeld couldn’t be confirmed by the Crag, but his speech was supposed to have been entitled: Opportunities for Security Co-operation in North America -- Military-to-military Co-operation.

It was scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

Yes. That's right!

The only Canadian newspaper to publish any specifics on this issue of vital interest to all Canadians is that well known blockbuster breaker, 'The Banff Crag and Canyon'.

All joking aside, hats off to Aaron Paton for writing the piece.

And kudos to skadl of POGGE for the original link to Mr. Paton's story.


Fight The Anschluss


Couldn't figure out why I was suddenly getting mega search engine-directed hits off of 'Banff + Rumsfeld'.

Well, we can thank Maude Barlow, who wrote the following today in the Toronto Star:

While the media were busy obsessing over rumours of a budding romance between Condoleezza Rice and Peter MacKay last week, a more significant relationship was developing behind closed doors.

Away from the spotlight, from Sept. 12 to 14, in Banff Springs, Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day and Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor met with U.S. and Mexican government officials and business leaders to discuss North American integration at the second North American Forum.

According to leaked documents, the guest list included such prominent figures as U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Mexican Secretary of Public Security Eduardo Medina Mora and Canadian Forces chief General Rick Hillier, although we have no final confirmation of attendees. The event was chaired by former U.S. secretary of state George Schultz, former Alberta premier, Peter Lougheed and former Mexican finance minister Pedro Aspe.

Despite the involvement of senior North American politicians, organizers did not alert the media about the event. To make it worse, our government will not be issuing a public statement and refuses to release any information about the content of the discussions or the actors involved.

Day's office has been telling journalists that it cannot comment on the minister's private meeting and that journalists should understand this. So much for accountability.

You got that?

Top secret.

The future of our country is at stake and Mr. Day, his minions, and his wetsuit have decided it's top secret.

We are in big, big trouble.


When News Is Suppressed....

.....We Plan To Report It


Now, of course, one person's suppression is another person's indifference.

But in situations where this dichotomy arises it is worth remembering what AJ Liebling once said:

"Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one."

On the flip side, however, it is also worth noting something that wasn't even on Liebling's radar screen at the time he uttered his famous words, which is the following:

"Nobody, at least not yet, owns the true citizen journalists of the bloggodome."

Case in point - apparently the editor-in-chief of a local newspaper is upset that a reader of the paper, and a citizen journalist extraordinare, BC Mary has published an Email response from said editor to a query from Mary asking why there was no story in said paper on the Basi/Virk pre-trial hearing that took place Monday.

You can read the entire Email exchange as it was originally reported by Mary at her place here.

What we found particularly interesting was the reported last line of the editor's response that was, apparently, meant to explain why the paper did not run a story on the hearing:

"When there is news, we plan to report it."

The thing is, if the editor did in fact send this statement to a reader in response to an openly asked question, well, we would like to suggest that the statement itself has become news.

Now, it is possible that the editor did not actually send this Email response to BC Mary. For example, some nefarious teenaged kid sitting in his pyjamas in Mill Bay may have hacked into the newspaper's Email server so that he/she could go all churlish on people who had sent in legitimate questions.

And if that is the case we would be happy to print a retraction.

So far though this does not appear to be the case. Instead, as Mary reports on our comment thread, apparently the editor is most upset that her statement to a reader has actually been shared with, gasp!, other readers:

"Can you believe that I got a rocket from Miss Linda for allowing her news to see the light of day? Seems that in her 10 years and 3 cities, only one other scoundrel has had the temerity to quote her news as ... well, you know: news.

I think what got up her nose is the fact that on a silver platter, she handed me a scoop on her own newspaper."


Sounds like a textbook example of a perfectly executed reverse-Liebling-from-the-piked position if you ask us.

Which, of course, is news worth reporting.


Regarding this rapidly accelerating developing 'Deep Integration' business between the country formerly known as Canuckistan (ie. the 'New' Government of Canada) and BushWorld, please click on the red and white ribbon at the top Left corner of the page for more info.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

No News Is......

.....No News?


Apparently there was indeed a pretrial court appearance yesterday in Victoria by David Basi and Robert Virk involving the BC Rail/Ledge Raid bribery case.

This is no small potatoes because it reaches into the highest corridors of power and is of vital interest to all British Columbians.

Not unexpectedly, our friend BC Mary was surprised that this event did not warrant a story in her local newspaper, the CanWest-0wned Victoria Times Colonist.

So Mary, ever the citizen journalist, wrote the editor of the paper, Lucinda Chodan, asking why.

The following is the reply that Mary is reporting that she received from Ms. Chodan:

Subject: Re: Basi, Virk, Basi in court yesterday?

Dear Ms. Mary:

There was indeed a pretrial appearance by Basi, Virk et al yesterday. Our
reporter staffed the appearance, and nothing of note happened. As is the
case in such instances, the reporter consulted with his editor and did not
write a story. When there is news, we plan to report it.

Lucinda Chodan
Victoria Times Colonist
2621 Douglas St.
Victoria, B.C. V8T 4M2

Fair enough. Not newsworthy Ms. Chodan has decided.

Thus, I decided to check and see what some of the other 'local' stories were that Ms. Chodan's team of editors and reporters did decide were 'news' that made it impossible for them to fit in anything on the Basi/Virk trial.

The following is a partial list from the TC Website for Sept 19/06:

First the much more important 'crime' story
Police record considerable success in bait-bike effort

Of course, there is also the much, much more important local story with international implications
UVic endowment will allow Ukrainian studies program to continue

And finally, there is the much more mostest important story that all of humanity must know about.
Stick 'Em Up: Self-defence course teaches cane users how to fend off attackers

Very, very, newsworthy indeed.


Update Sept23/06: Gladly editted at BC Mary's request to remove one of the stories from the 'mucho importanto' trivial list (see our exchange in the comments).


Obfuscation For Both Nations


Sure the RCMP was way, way, way wrong in the Maher Arar tragedy.

And every single one of those redactions in Justice O'Connor's report must be brought out into the light for all to see.

But the bigger issue here is this 'deep integration' business between Canada and the United States.

Which goes way past the fact that you can no longer go fishing in the Vancouver Harbour.

I mean, do we really want to see Mr. Harper's director of communications Sandra Buckler stand up and make statements like those noted below when secret, congressionally-approved, habeus corpus-free torture rooms are discovered by some of our more famous Prairie bloggers on the sidebar under, say, the North Fork of the Saskatchewan River?

QUESTION: There are allegations that we sent people to Syria to be tortured…


QUESTION: Yes. You’ve never heard of any allegations like that?

MCCLELLAN: No, I’ve never heard that one. That’s a new one.

QUESTION: Syria? You haven’t heard that?

MCCLELLAN: That’s a new one.

QUESTION: Well, I can assure you it’s been well publicized. My question is…

MCCLELLAN: By what, bloggers?

What was that all about, you might be asking?

Well, that was former White House Press Secretary Scott McLellan responding to questions about Maher Arar's kidnap-assisted rendition to Syria after it was revealed on the front page of the Washington Post last January.



Monday, September 18, 2006

Wither Smithers?


When I checked the weather last Friday morning I couldn't believe that it was snowing in Prince George.

We're talking about Sept 15th here.

PG is the largest town in central British Columbia north of Kamloops, about 80,000 people.

And I was getting ready to head up there to do a little of the teaspoon filling that Pete Seeger was talking about a few posts ago.


Flying to Prince George is magnificent. While Westjet sends a 737 in there now, I took the little plane offered up by Robert Milton et al.

I like those little planes, at least when the weather's OK, because they fly lower. And when you fly lower you can actually see stuff. And this time around we flew up the coast then cut east over the mountains and into the Cariboo just as the sun was setting.

When I got to town it was still pretty early, or so I thought. After settling in at the hotel I headed out for a walk at about 9pm looking for a bite to eat at somewhere more interesting than the White Spot right next door.

Unfortunately, an hour or so later I ended up right back at Mr. Toigo's place, after first having an interesting discussion with the fine fellows in an RCMP cruiser who couldn't figure out why a slightly nebbish looking science-geek-type guy would be walking the streets, alone, on a Friday night.

Which I can sort of understand now.

Because the entire downtown core was a ghost town.


After doing my thing the next day I took a walk with a couple of the local volunteers that I'd been working with and they showed me the sights up close and personal late on a beautiful, cool and crisp Saturday afternoon.

And there really was lots of interesting stuff to see, including a quite marvellous community center area.

Just no stores or restaurants.


The malls of course.

And specifically the Big Box monstrosities, all of which live in the cheap and ugly sodium flare glare of what was once the darkness on the edge of town.


At dinner that night, which was held at an old fishing lodge on the edge of the Nechako river, I got talking to a group of folks from up the road in Smithers.

Now, it is entirely possible that, even if you live in BC, you know absolutely nothing about Smithers except maybe that it is the setting for that great set of books for teenage girls by Susan Juby, the first of which was titled 'Alice I Think'.

Bigger E. loves that book, and the whole series in fact. It has since been made into a TV show that we haven't seen yet.

Anyway, it turns out that Smithers is a whole lot more than that. For example, it is a haven for artists and musicians. It also has a real, live downtown, filled with locally owned and operated shops and restaurants that people like to go to and hang out in, even in the dead of winter (see photo above).

The impression I got of it while talking to everybody is that it is kind of like the town in Northern Exposure, except that it is the real thing.

But that is all in danger now.


Because Wal-Mart wants to bring in its 1500 car parking lot vampire act and suck the life out of the entire town.

Luckily, the local folks are fighting, hard.

As a result, they've already stopped them once.

But now the town council, with barely discernible marks on their necks, are apparently getting ready to give the ghouls another chance.

And we down here in Vancouver thought we had problems. I mean, the behemoth on Marine Drive will certainly cause problems on the south side of town, but Main St. in the 20's where we live will probably survive, at least for the now.

But as for downtown Smithers?

Well, if the ghouls prevail, it's done for.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Stop The Anschluss!


Alison has done more digging on the US/Canadian 'Deep Integration' conference that took place in Banff last week that was apparently visited by Donald Rumsfeld:

First there's this from, as Alison calls them, the 'Fans of the Anschluss':

"We've decided not to recommend any things that would require legislative changes," says (Ron)Covais. "Because we won't get anywhere." "
"The guidance from the ministers was, 'tell us what we need to do and we'll make it happen,' " recalls Covais, who chairs the U.S. section of the council, which includes 10 CEOs of big companies like Wal-Mart, General Motors and Merck."

"Covais figures they've got less than two years of political will to make it happen. That's when the Bush administration exits, and "The clock will stop if the Harper minority government falls or a new government is elected."

And after that Alison tells us a little more about Mr. Covais:

That's Ron Covais - President of the Americas for Lockheed Martin, a former Pentagon adviser to Dick Cheney and Chair of the US section of the North American Competitiveness Council created during the Harper/Bush Cancun meet in March.

He made these remarks following the last deep integration conference in Washington in June.
The objective of the current Banff conference is to draw up a list of recommendations for ministers of "Canada's New Government" for the reopening of parliament in October.

Stop the clock. Stop it any way you can.
Write to the CBC, national newspapers, your MLA.

I agree.

Update Sept 19/06:
I've been informed offline by someone in the know that there is no evidence that Mr. Rumsfeld actually showed up for the meeting. The thing is, if there was actually some real reporting on this, not to mention less secrecy on an initiative that is in the vital interests of all Canadians, we would be able to make more informed comments.


Weirder Than Iranian Badge Zombies


So, some kinda/sorta, presumably important, unamed senior conservative thinks Little Stephen is ruthless when he deals with his Miracles.

"He plays people off against one another, he attempts to inspire fear rather than respect, he is unpredictable and he is 100 per cent focused on eliminating the opposition," the senior Conservative explained.

And where did he learn to be like this?

Well according to the guy who wrote the piece in the National Post, Allan Woods, it's at least partially, because of the following:

The senior Tory recounted being told Harper had "read and mastered" the biography and leadership style of Russia's Communist dictator Josef Stalin, and said the prime minister has adopted some of the same tactics.

So why did Mr. Woods write this?

And why did the minionistic editors that work for the not-so-magnificents allow it to be printed?

Could it have something to do with the description of he who went unamed as a 'Tory'?

Or could it have even more to do with the fact that that the wily ol' Mulroneyite Hugh Segal is both named, and buried, if not in the lead, then everywhere else in this rather bizarre story?

Then again, maybe it's jus a warning to any wayward Miracle that might have been getting ready to speak his or her mind?


Nailing The Coffin Shut....

.....On American Exceptionalism


"It's unacceptable to think that there's any kind of comparison between the behaviour of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and children to achieve an objective."
George W. Bush,
President of The United States of America
Sept 15, 2006

Of course, Mr. Bush was attempting to justify why it's OK for him and his to torture people.

And I agree with him that the killing of innocent women and children for ideological reasons is a very, very bad thing indeed.

However, I would also suggest that it is unacceptable to NOT compare such killings undertaken for ideological reasons to other the killings that have also been undertaken for ideological reasons.

Killings like this.

Or this.

Or this.

Or, especially, this.


*And I certainly hope we Canadians also remember what is unacceptable, and hold the people responsible accountable, if the guns of Leopard tanks start firing in schoolyards anytime soon.


Friday, September 15, 2006

The Snakes Of Wrath


If you were to believe those with the reptilian smiles running the Ford Motor Company these days you might think that the layoffs and forced buyouts are all about a 'repositioning' of their brand in the marketplace.

But if you were to gaze past the gleaming teeth, you might just be able to see the second coming of Steinbeck's Okies just over the horizon.

Except these days it's not the desperate workforce that migrates.

Instead, it is the plants themselves that move, from union shops in the North to non-union ones in the south.

Which, of course, is bizarre when you think about it.

After all Henry Ford was the guy who wanted his workers to make enough to actually buy the stuff they were making.

But, then again, by all accounts it appears that Mr. Ford's skin bore little sign of the slime or the scales that mark the epidermis of the current genus and species that is running amok in today's gilded multinational cages.

Update Sept 19/06: Cliff, in the comments, takes me to task, for giving Mr. Ford too much credit, especially in the last paragraph above. And while I threw Ford into the mix only for comparative purposes only, particularly with respect to how Ford initially decided it was actually a good thing to not treat workers like crap, Cliff makes a very good point, particularly with respect to Ford's later virulent anti-unionism, which is described in some detail here.


Anschluss In The Rockies?


Alison asks a very important question - Why did our media sycophantistas tell us so much about Madame Supertanker and the Puppy this week and absolutely nothing about this?

September 12th to 14th, at the Banff Springs Hotel, a conference on North American Integration.

Among the long list of those who will be there are Perrin Beatty, Peter Lougheed, Thomas d'Aquino, Stockwell Day, Wendy Dobson, Roger Gibbins, John Manley, Anne McLellan, Gordon O'Connor, James Schlesinger, Donald Rumsfeld, George Shultz and a long list of others.

Among the topics: "A Vision for North America", "A North American Energy Strategy", "Demographic and Social Dimensions of North American Integration", "Opportunities for Security Cooperation".

Many prominent high level U.S. government people will be there.

Lots of military. Lots of Deputy Ministers.


At least the von Trapp family had Switzerland to escape to when they fled over the Alps.

Where are we Lotuslanders gonna go.......


Update Sept 19/06:
I've been informed offline by someone in the know that there is no evidence that Mr. Rumsfeld actually showed up for the meeting. The thing is, if there was actually some real reporting on this, not to mention less secrecy on an initiative that is in the vital interests of all Canadians, we would be able to make more informed comments.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Shrub's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day


It was bad enough when the UN thumbed its nose at John Bolton and announced that an American report on Iran was little more than a baseless smear:

The UN's nuclear watchdog has made a stinging attack on the US Congress over an "outrageous and dishonest" report on Iran's nuclear programme.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that the congressional report published last month contained "erroneous, misleading and unsubstantiated information", and that it took "strong exception" to "incorrect and misleading" claims in the report that the IAEA was covering up some of its doubts about Iran's nuclear intentions.

But then, suddenly, even a few congress-critters, some of them Republicans, went off the reservation:

A rebellious Senate committee defied President Bush on Thursday and approved terror-detainee legislation he has vowed to block, deepening Republican conflict over terrorism and national security in the middle of election season.

Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia, normally a Bush supporter, pushed the measure through his Armed Services Committee by a 15-9 vote, with Warner and three other GOP lawmakers joining Democrats. The vote set the stage for a showdown on the Senate floor as early as next week.

And just to top it all off, even Mr. Irrefutable Evidence' himself jumped on the top of the pile:

The internal GOP struggle intensified along other fronts, too, as Colin Powell, Bush's first secretary of state, declared his opposition to the president's plan.

``The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism,'' Powell, a retired general who is also a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote in a letter.

Powell said that Bush's bill, by redefining the kind of treatment the Geneva Conventions allow, ``would add to those doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk.''

Of course, there's very likely a whole lotta post-facto, I-didn't-do-anything-wrong butt-protecting going on here. And maybe even a little bit of envelope pushing as well to make the previously unthinkable look palatable down the road. But the thing I find perhaps most interesting is the possibility that tiny, teensy-tiny quasi-rebellions like these just might be an indication that the 10,000 pound craphammer that Mr. Rove has been holding above the head of all US Pols, Dem and GOP alike, for the last six years just may be starting to disintegrate.

Title refers to one of the two E.'s favorite books when they were little, by Judith Viorst.


The Progs Are, Indeed, Rockin'


The always reliable Democratic Space is calling it early for DiNovo:

DiNovo Wins Parkdale-High Park
8:52pm. DemocraticSPACE has seen enough. We are declaring Cheri DiNovo the winner of Parkdale-High Park By-Election. With more than 50% of the votes counted, Cheri DiNovo led her closest rival, Liberal Sylvia Watson by 40.5% to 33.1%.

Looks like there'll be good rockin' round midnight (EDT) in Parkdale.


Another Prog Rockin'?


It's a little bit off the LotusLand radar, but there is an interesting provincial by-election taking place in Ontario today:

The departure of former education minister Gerard Kennedy to contest the federal Liberal leadership forced McGuinty to call a by-election in a west-end riding the Grits won with almost 58 per cent of the vote in 2003 — versus roughly 16 per cent apiece for the Tories and New Democrats.

Winning today should be a snap for Liberal candidate Sylvia Watson, a first-term city councillor, except it probably won't be.

As a powerful provincial Liberal confided the other day: "We're starting to think this was a Gerard Kennedy riding more than it was a Liberal riding. Half the folks there probably thought Gerard was a New Democrat."

Fearful of losing a high-profile seat less than 13 months before a general election, Watson's campaign — with the full blessing of McGuinty and his office — has aggressively attacked NDP candidate Cheri DiNovo, a local United Church minister.

DiNovo, a former "street kid" who admitted she smuggled LSD in her youth, has written and sermonized about some radical things over the years and the Liberals have helpfully supplied reporters with many of her controversial statements.These include criticizing the late Pope John Paul II for Catholic Church inaction on AIDS and in the Rwandan genocide.

Education Minister Sandra Pupatello said the other day DiNovo's views make her unfit for the Legislature, a curious observation given some of the eccentrics already sitting as MPPs.

And the very strange, and I would suggest distressing, thing is that Ms. DiNovo has also been visciously smeared in the bloggodome for no good reason at all.

So, Ms. DiNovo a progressive?

No question.

But is she a radical?

Open to debate, but clearly she cares about people.

Does any of this make her unfit to sit in the Ontario legislature?

That's just ridiculous.

Me, I've got my fingers crossed for her today.

Ms DiNovo's views, in her own words, can be found here.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Who Am I, Anyway?


These are not the best of days to be a science geek who also teaches for a living.

Deadlines of all manner and type are fast approaching.

And then there is this small matter of all these students everywhere.

And even worse, yesterday, a data cluster turned from something that was supposed to be crisp and clean into a mass of soggy, rotten, stinking backbacon just as a grant application was about to be submitted.

You get the idea.

Anyway, this morning I'm standing in a very long line at the 'Beans Around the World' place located on outer 10th and I'm speed reading the shop's copy of the Globe and (nolonger) Empire Mail when I come across two rather bizarrely juxtaposed front page stories. One is about how millions have been duped by a PR firm's subterfuge that had them thinking a carefully crafted promotion campaign spread virally via 'You Tube' was actually the work of an shty and innocent 16 year old girl. The other story was about a whacked out Republican congress-critter who has decided that his path to re-election is straight down a 12,000 National Guardsmen strong border fortification......with Canada.

Suddenly, in my sleep-deprived, caffeine hangover-induced daze I started to wonder......

Who the heck am I?

Am I really a middle-aged, not-quite activist, actually academic with a penchant for digressive wordsmithing and a wife and kids?


Am I in truth a bongo-playing, former Moxy Fruvous roadie who mules hundreds and hundreds of pounds of not quite contraband cheese and old, but highly servicable, Stompin' Tom albums back and forth across the 49th parallel everyday on a, oh, I dunno, bilingual Llama named Pierre with bells on its feet?

*Then, just as suddenly I snapped out of it and finished riding into work.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Conflation Nation.....

.......What's Our Station?


So when Condi came to Canada I couldn't help but wonder if we were going all in with the Rovians.

And while I found her "The Canadian contribution to helping build stability in Afghanistan is absolutely critical to the war on terror," statement rather bizarre as she dragged Peter McKay around on a leash yesterday, that was nothing compared to the stuff that Mr. Harper read directly from the teleprompter a little later in the day.

The following, in italics, is directly from the 'official' prop-a-gannon website:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today marked the fifth anniversary of 9/11 by paying tribute to those who lost their lives on that tragic day.

So far so good (ie. no problems there)

Joined by Canadians who lost family members in the attacks on the World Trade Centre, and by those with family members serving with the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, the Prime Minister outlined the consequences of that fateful day five years ago.

Hang on a second..... Were the Canadians killed in the World Trade Center on an official state-sponsored mission like those killed more recently in Afghanistan? What could that be all about?

“As the events of September 11 so clearly illustrate, the horrors of the world will not go away if we turn a blind eye to them, no matter how far off they may be. These horrors cannot be stopped unless some among us are willing to accept enormous sacrifice and risk to themselves,” said the Prime Minister.

Oh..... How could I have been so thick?....Now I get it..... We are in Afghanistan, not as an exercise in nation building, as Ms. Rice kinda/sorta suggested, but instead because of 9/11. Sure, I remember that grand and sweeping national discussion and all those debates in the House of Commons on the latter point.


So, now that the great national game of false equivalencies has begun in earnest, who long will it be before Canned West and/or a David Frum-led CBC airs a schlock-u-mentary blaming Mr. Dithers for the 24 Canadian deaths on 9/11?

And when we go into Anbar province to chase down the TalibaniQuedistJUIguys who have set up their new nuclear-armed fortresses on the eastern border with Syria, will it be Jean Chretien's fault because he didn't bomb Damascus in 1997?

Ridiculous questions?

Sure they are.

But the point is, once this crap starts, where does it all end?

Clearly nobody knows - just ask those Americans with a conscience that cannot believe what is being done in their name.

PhotoCredit: Andrew Vaughan, CP/TorStar


Sunday, September 10, 2006

The L Girl's Story


Laura, the L Girl, is the proprietor of 'We Move To Canada'.

It's a truly fine blog.

I always enjoy her wit, her wisdom, and is my want, her wordsmithing.

And here is her very personal 9/10 story:

September 10, 2001. The date has a certain poignancy, doesn't it? For many people, it was the last day of peace, the last day without the pain that they'll live with for the rest of their lives. For all of us, it was the last day our illusion of safety and invulnerability was in full working order. It was our moment before knowing.

I can recall my own moment before knowing, when the landscape of my life changed permanently. I can picture it in the same vivid relief that I imagine September 11th families can recall the bright blue sky that Tuesday morning.

It was August, 1982. I was hanging out with two good friends, cooking, talking, laughing, drinking wine, being young women together. Later, I changed into an oversized t-shirt, got in my pull-out sofa bed, under the covers, read the little Modern Library edition of a Thomas Hardy novel I had found in a used bookstore. Then - and here I pause, achingly, wistfully, watching that former self, the young woman I was - I switched off the light. I see the tensor lamp with the red metal shade, my finger on the switch. It was my September 10th.......

Go read the rest.

And then go thank her.



The Central Dupes


You know, one of the things that I have found most disturbing about ABC's schlockumentary 'The Path to 911' is not so much the fact that the people who made it just made stuff up, or that there was clearly a propagandist slant given to the stuff that they just made up, or that the makers, backers, movers and shakers all have connections to avowed propagandists for the Bush regime, or even the fact that the Bush regime itself has already been nailed for manipulating the media while playing its InfoDom games.


What really bugs me is how the great majority of the mainstream media has chosen to ignore all of those things, not by explaining them away with logic and reason, but instead by delegitimizing those who raised these points in first place.

And for me, it all came to a head when I read the Alessandra Stanley's piece in Friday's New York Times.

ABC has been under assault by bloggers and former officials who claim the film paints an unfairly censorious portrait of the Clinton administration, with a lobbying campaign reminiscent of the one that drove CBS to cancel “The Reagans” biopic in 2003. (CBS’s parent company, Viacom, kicked it to the cable channel Showtime.) Some kind of reaction was inevitable this time.

Yup, under assault for sure. But, is there anything to all of this? Well, according to Ms. Stanley, not really, because:

All mini-series Photoshop the facts. “The Path to 9/11” is not a documentary, or even a docu-drama; it is a fictionalized account of what took place. It relies on the report of the Sept. 11 commission, the King James version of all Sept. 11 accounts, as well as other material and memoirs. Some scenes come straight from the writers’ imaginations. Yet any depiction of those times would have to focus on those who were in charge, and by their own accounts mistakes were made.

Leaving aside the fact that 'it relies upon the report of the Sept 11 commission' and 'some scenes come straight from the writer's imaginations' are not in anyway remotely equivalent, what, we ask, would it take for someone like Ms. Stanley to take umbrage at those scenes that came 'straight from the writers' imaginations' being used for propaganda purposes in the middle of an election campaign, the outcome of which hinges upon how the public comes to perceive the actions of the people in said imaginary scenes?

Would some truth telling from a fellow columnist at the Times like, say, Paul Krugman do it?

Of course not because, while he may not be a heinous blogger, he is a liberal so anything he says doesn't count. And the same goes double for Bob Herbert.

But what about that avowed centrist Thomas Friedman?

What if he became unhinged and started babbling things like:

"(W)e are in trouble in Iraq now not because of what the 'fringes' there, or here, believe, but because of what the center in both places has been willing to tolerate or unwilling to change.

We have a 'center problem.'

Let me explain: We are stalled in Iraq not because of something some fringe antiwar critics said, or did, but because of how the Bush team, the center of U.S. policy, approached Iraq from the start. While it told the public - correctly, in my view - that building one example of a tolerant, pluralistic, democratizing society in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world was really important in the broader war of ideas against violent radical Islam, the administration acted as though this would be easy and sacrifice-free.

Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld told us we are in the fight of our lives against a new Islamic fascism, and let's have an unprecedented wartime tax cut and shrink our armed forces. They told us we are in the fight of our lives against a new Islamic fascism, but let's send just enough troops to topple Saddam - and never control Iraq's borders, its ammo dumps or its looters. They told us we are in the fight of our lives against a new Islamic fascism, but rather than bring Democrats and Republicans together in a national unity war coalition, let's use the war as a wedge issue to embarrass Democrats, frighten voters and win elections. They told us we are in the fight of our lives against a new Islamic fascism - which is financed by our own oil purchases - but let's not do one serious thing about ending our oil addiction.

Donald Rumsfeld demonizes war critics as 'morally confused.' But it is the 'moral confusion' at the heart of the Bush policy - a confusion between its important ends and insufficient means - that has hobbled us from the start."

Which of course, he did, on Friday, in the very same edition that contained Ms. Stanley's piece in a column titled 'The Central Truth'.

The only problem is, that even when he takes off the pinhole glasses and lets his eyes see everything that is right in front of them, a guy like Friedman still can't go all the way:

"It truly, truly baffles me why a president who bet so much of his legacy on this project never gave it his best shot and tolerated so much incompetence."

Which of course gets right to the heart of the matter, because when people see the truth for what it really is and still won't allow themselves to understand what it really means, well, that means that they themselves are the 'Central Dupes'.

And, most importantly, it also means that the Duping is self-inflicted.

And just as an aside, the little site that archived columns by the likes of Krugman and Herbert et al. has been order to cease and desist by the NYT.



Who Loves Ya' Canada?


Clearly, it's not the Pope, who Friday, amongst other things, told a bunch of Bishops that we, with our tolerant ways, have turned our back on God.

But compare that to the Dalai Lama who came to Vancouver on the same day and told thousands of teenagers that we, with our tolerant ways, are a model for the entire world.

I'm putting my money on the teenagers.


Speaking of money, according to Simon Beck* the Lord that once renounced Canada, is in (il?)legality-induced insolvency trouble again:

U.S. prosecutors are mad because Lord Black is allegedly behind on a $10-million (U.S.) loan, making him in violation of his bail conditions. The loan is apparently racking up interest payments of $7,430 per day -- that's almost as much as our cable bill -- yet his Lordship is probably having trouble finding the cash to deal with it since an Ontario court has frozen all his assets.

*Mr. Beck is fast becoming one of the only Globe and Mail non Op-Ed page columnists who is still worth reading. Case in point: compare his non-conventional nuggets and razor-like wit to the flaccid flocculence of fantabulous obviousness served up by, say, Jane Taber, whose lead item this week was the fact that Brian Mulroney got a cheer from the well-prepped audience when he appeared on the set of Canadian Idol. Who woulda thunk it.


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Questionable Period


Well, it looks like there really will be no legislative session in British Columbia this fall because our esteemed Premier, Mr. Gordon Campbell, and his BC Liberal government have decided to ignore their own legislation.

It's kind of a 'Now You See Us, Now You Don't' deal.

Or, put another way, "If We're Not Here The Opposition Can't Ask Us Questions" gambit.

But none of this means that we can't ask questions ourselves, and, boy, do we have a few.

So here goes......

Question: Mr. (absent)Speaker: Given that the Govenment made a commitment, in its Throne Speech of 2003, to have an offshore oil and gas industry up an running by the year 2010, could the (also absent)Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources please update British Columbians on the status of that commitment?

Answer: None........

Question: Perhaps, then, the (really absent)Minister could update us on the research that has been done to date to ensure that this drilling will be done in, to use the government's own words, 'an environmentally and scientifically sound' manner?

Answer: Silence......

Question: Alright then. Could the (super absent)Minister inform us of any and all (or even a single) peer-reviewed publication relating to research that was undertaken regarding this environmentally and scientifically sound drilling, and that includes any and all (or even a single) peer-reviewed paper that was generated by the 'Northern Coastal Information and Research Program' given that its website states:

"Final reporting is required to the provincial Ministry of Energy and Mines, which funded the project. The B.C Offshore Oil and Gas Team is kept apprised of news and progress and its scientific director is one of the advisors on the program's Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee."

Answer: Nothing from nothing means nothing.....

Question: That is most unfortunate. Perhaps then the (super duper absent)Minister could tell us the accumulated budget of the 'Oil And Gas Team' cited above whose job, at least as it was described by the Globe and Mail, was to act as:

"A B.C. government "swat team" is devising detailed policies for oil and gas drilling near the Queen Charlotte Islands, hoping to entice energy giants to exploit offshore riches."

Answer: No flack-hacks even whispering in anyone's ear.......

Question: Does six million dollars a year ring a bell? Thank-you Mr. (supremely absent) Speaker.

For more information from the side that is not supported by millions upon millions from oil industry lobbies, astroturf groups, and government swat teams, please visit the Oil Free Coast Website.


Friday, September 08, 2006

Working For The Clampdown


What could it be, you might be asking.

Why is there, apparently, going to be no fall legislative sitting in British Columbia?

Could it be that the government of Premier Gordon Campbell can't take the heat of question period now that there is a real opposition in the Ledge to ask about things like the twinning of the Port Mann, all those rosey budget projections now that natural gas prices are showing signs of softening, offshore gas explo(it)ration, the paving of the parks, the continuing disaster at the Ministry of Children and Families, and the privatization of everything.

Or is it really true that there is just nothing to do?

Could be a combination of all of the above I suppose.

But I can't help but wonder if maybe it has just as much to do with the possibility that a fall session would result in daily media scrums just as the premier (all puns intended) of the new reality show titled 'The Basi/Virk Trial' is set to begin Sept 18th?

Original Clampdown link source from Alison at Creekside.
And for continuous Basi/Virk updates and Trial of the Century backgrounders don't forget to visit BC Mary's site early and often.
Update: Paul Willcocks has a good analysis of the situation up and he concludes that, regardless the reasons, the public is ill-served by the cancellation.