Thursday, June 28, 2007

Harper reigns over a united Canada - and he did it all by himself!

Stephen Harper is dreaming in technicolour, isn't he? The chutzpah of the guy is beyond belief.

PM takes credit for unified Canada

Let's see - we have the killing war in Afghanistan, which most Canadians do not support, cozying up to the U.S. so that everything that we have is theirs and none of it is ours, very strange middle eastern policies i.e. supporting Israel's cluster bombing of Lebanon and its stealing land that does not belong to it, stirring up the whole sovereignty pot in Quebec, systematic stripping of privacy rights and habeas corpus, opaque and secretive government, increasing militarism and frankly stupid environmental policies.

In an effort to get more votes and become the next emperor, Harper is trying to fracture Canada into multiple opposing sides, race against race, religion against non-religion, urban against rural, east against west.

One thing for sure - those who wish to see Canada as a coherent, tolerant, welcoming, lawful, environmentally conscious country may be firmly united, but it's against Harper and his neo-con buddies, both here and around the world.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Too bad Harper didn't learn to read sooner

Looks like Stephen Harper is tapdancing backward as fast as he can away from the never ending War in Afghanistan. Too bad he had to needlessly extend it. But what's a few lives, - eh, Stevie?- when "punching above your weight" and your reputation as a world leader are what's important. Your mentors, Howard of Australia - now about to go down in ignominious defeat in the next election - and Bush, lame-duck president hearing the drums beating for impeachment - are no longer going to be on the world stage.

Fifty-two of the soldiers died on your watch, Stephen. People look at Canada now with wonder. Where are the peacekeepers? Where are the environmentalists? Where are the progressive, enlightened thinkers?

From Thomas Walkom in the Toronto Star:

Harper finally able to read the writing on the wall

..[F]irst, NATO's war against Afghan insurgents is not succeeding. Second, there is not enough political support for that war here at home.

...[C]anadian soldiers may be gung-ho about risking their lives in Kandahar, but those who pay their wages are not.

...[T]he United States, Canada and other allies invaded Afghanistan in retaliation for the terror attacks of 9/11. Exactly why it made sense to overthrow the government of Afghanistan for an outrage perpetrated by Saudis and planned in Germany was never explained.

...[W]e have 19 months to figure out what, if anything, we can usefully do in Afghanistan after Kandahar. Until then, Canadian soldiers will continue to die.

Have a nice summer, Mr. Harper.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

You scratch my back...and I'll hand you a huge wad of taxpayer's money

This sort of thing doesn't really surprise me in Harper's New Canadian Government, but the Globe and Mail's failure to report Boessenkool's extremely close ties with Harper and other members of the Reform party in the early days and the (neo)Conservative party of today does.

As the author rightly points out, " is difficult to read as objective anything written by Boessenkool regarding the government of his old friend and colleague Stephen Harper."

As for Boessenkool's lobbying efforts for Merck Frosst and its human papilloma virus vaccine, in light of the recent mass experiments on women - hormone replacement therapy in particular - I'd be very wary of having a child of mine vaccinated with a substance that only protects against a few of the HPV's which cause a rare cancer which is slow-growing and easily detectable and treatable in the early stages. The fact that the vaccine is mind-blowingly expensive and will give Mr. Boessenkool an extremely fat kick-back from the drug company should give everyone pause.

You have to give them credit for the tactics, though. Who wants their daughter to get cancer? No one, of course. The fact that this gives only partial cover of a very rare disease is never even mentioned. There are, however, some extremely bad side effects.

From the June 22nd edition of

Boessenkool, Ken - Long-time friend and advisor to PM lobbied for cancer drug plan in budget

Close ties to Harper not disclosed in national op-ed piece

OTTAWA, June 22, 2007: The Globe and Mail published an op-ed piece yesterday written by Ken Boessenkool defending the Harper government's policy and actions on equalization. The Globe failed, however, to note Boessenkool is one of Stephen Harper's closest associates. Nor did it reveal he is a registered lobbyist working for a drug company benefitting from the surprise inclusion in the federal budget, passed last night, of $300 million for cervical cancer vaccine for girls.

...[T]he Ottawa Citizen reported in February that Boessenkool registered to lobby the federal government on immunization policy on behalf of Merck Frosst Canada.

...[O]n equalization, it would appear Boessenkool is coming to his old friend's assistance at a time of need, possibly as political payback.

...[B]oessenkool accuses a "previous federal government" (that would be Paul Martin's Liberals) of an "egregious departure" from the customary equalization formula and accuses them of making "ad hoc side agreements with some provinces but not others." Boessenkool fails to add, however, that as opposition leader Stephen Harper publicly supported those same agreements. He has changed the rules but adamantly denies having done so and that has created a firestorm.

...[B]oessenkool's relationship with Harper goes well beyond the professional. Ottawa writer Lloyd Mackey is a freelancer in the press gallery, filing mainly to evangelical church publications. Preston Manning had hired him years earlier to edit the Reform Party's publication. Mackey has since written a highly sympathetic book about Preston and Ernest Manning, and another called The Pilgrimage of Stephen Harper. In the book, Mackey describes Boessenkool as an evangelical Christian whose children are home schooled, and as "another of Harper's spiritual mentors listened to both at the economic and the faith levels."

...[N]umerous former staffers for the Reform, Alliance and Conservative parties have quickly made their way into lobbying firms, and certain lobbyists have become spinners for the government. In that light, it is difficult to read as objective anything written by Boessenkool regarding the government of his old friend and colleague Stephen Harper.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Let's move Gitmo to Afghanistan

Oh, goodie! The U.S. is building a prison in Afghanistan to move some of its Guantanamo prisoners into. Great! It would be just as good as Cuba. Not in any of United States or its territories, so anything goes!

Is Canada going to be part of this too?

Deeper and deeper into the slime.

So - a huge foreign power with overwhelming military might invades your country and you fight back - and you're the crook? And somehow being repatriated to a U.S. run prison in your own country is supposed to make things better. You may be held without charge and tortured without oversight, but at least you're home.

I think I'm missing something.

US may move detainees to Afghan prison

WASHINGTON - The United States is helping build a prison in Afghanistan to take some prisoners now at Guantanamo Bay, but the White House said Friday it is not meant as an alternative to the detainee facility in Cuba.

With friends like this...

Gordon O'Connor, retired military man and former defense "industry" lobbyist, and now the Minister of Defense for the (neo)Conservative minority government of Canada, congratulated Donald Rumsfeld for his leadership and record of service in the War Against Terror (trademark pending).

An access to information request turned up these nuggets, as reported in the Globe and Mail today.

"As you leave office, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your many achievements as Secretary of Defence, and to recognize the significant contribution you have made in the fight against terrorism," Mr. O'Connor wrote on Dec. 15.

He goes on to speak of how the campaign against terror has been a "challenging undertaking, one that will require painstaking effort."

"Here we have been privileged to benefit from your leadership in addressing the complex issues in play," Mr. O'Connor wrote. "Your record of service has been a credit to your country. I wish you well in your future endeavours."

At least the representatives of the rest of Canada, the majority in the country who are being completely ignored, have brains and integrity.

"I don't think Canada has benefited from the leadership of Rumsfeld or George Bush and I think I'm with a majority of Canadians in stating that and perhaps now with a majority of Americans," NDP defence critic Dawn Black said.

And now we come down to the real reason.

John McCallum, a former Liberal defence minister, said that a "good luck" letter would be standard, but said Mr. O'Connor's note was "over the top."

"[Mr. Rumsfeld's] not a person that will any more have a major influence over U.S. policy so it's not as if one has to do that to curry favour with the Americans," Mr. McCallum said. "So I think it probably reflects the Harper government's support for the Iraq war to write such a letter.
Since we missed Iraq and the astounding success it's been, Stephen Harper has now decided that we should have our own mini-Iraq in Afghanistan - war without end, money poured down a black hole, young lives sacrificed to help Stevie "punch above his weight".

Friday, June 15, 2007

Waging war to get oil to wage war

People are willing to make sacrifices in the name of conservation - energy, oil, etc. - unless they feel like a chump, the person who makes the sacrifice while others continue on their merry, wasteful ways, destroying people and the planet as they go to obtain the fuel necessary to continue destroying people and the planet.

From Tom Dispatch on June 14th:

The Pentagon as Global Gas-Guzzler

...[M]ichael Klare, expert on war and energy, and author of the indispensable book, Blood and Oil...

...[A]nd foreign wars, sad to say, account for but a small fraction of the Pentagon's total petroleum consumption. Possessing the world's largest fleet of modern aircraft, helicopters, ships, tanks, armored vehicles, and support systems -- virtually all powered by oil -- the Department of Defense (DoD) is, in fact, the world's leading consumer of petroleum. It can be difficult to obtain precise details on the DoD's daily oil hit, but an April 2007 report by a defense contractor, LMI Government Consulting, suggests that the Pentagon might consume as much as 340,000 barrels (14 million gallons) every day. This is greater than the total national consumption of Sweden or Switzerland.

An honest conservative - moron or oxymoron?

Rick Perlstein has written on the difficulty, or perhaps the impossibility of finding an honest conservative in this article picked up by He quotes Brad DeLong, an economics professor from the U.S.

He's writing about the Bush administration and its supporters, but the sentiments work just as well for Harper's (neo)Conservatives:

"...[t]he question of "honest conservatism"—the understandable, if problematic, quest of liberals to find a conservative worthy of intellectual respect."

...[DeLong] quotes the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek who speaks of "a witty formula of life under a hard Communist regime: Of the three features—personal honesty, sincere support of the regime and intelligence—it was possible to combine only two, never all three. If one was honest and supportive, one was not very bright; if one was bright and supportive, one was not honest; if one was honest and bright, one was not supportive."

"...[S]incere conservative supporters are not bright. Bright conservative supporters are not honest. Bright and honest conservatives are not supporters...."

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Backing stupid weapons - Harper loves Star Wars

There's nothing smart about either the weapons or the support for them. Harper thought they were a good idea from the beginning, wanted Canada to "get on board" when he was in opposition (just like the Iraq War - now that was a good idea), and would cosy up to the Bush administration if he had a majority in the House of Commons. His misrepresentation of Canada at the G8 summit is sleazy and embarassing.

Star Wars is expensive and useless - which makes the war profiteers and manufacturers of weapons of mass destruction happy, and the poor sods who end up paying for this useless garbage very unhappy. But who cares, eh, Stevie? When did you ever listen to anyone but yourself and your "base"?

From the Toronto Star today:

...[F]or New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton, Harper's statements this week amount to Canada all but officially signing on to Bush's missile plan.

..."[I]t seems to me that Mr. Harper is trying to do by the back door what he could never do by the front door if he faced Canadians, and that's to get Canada involved in an arms race, to support George Bush's manoeuvre, to expand the Star Wars undertaking," Layton said.

..."[I] think he's violating his own principles here, which were that Parliament should be deciding on such incredibly important matters of foreign policy," Layton said.

..."[T]his is all a part of Stephen Harper's desire to follow the instructions from the White House and to enter into a deeper and deeper integrated relationship in North America, with the United States. It's not where Canadians want to go, but it's clearly what he's had in his sights for some time."

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

More (neo)Conservative thuggery

Just when you think they've used all the dirty tricks in the book, the (neo)Conservative yes-men outdo themselves by attacking the David Suzuki Foundation with frequent and vindictive tax audits because its founder dares to question the government's non-policy on climate change.

Say goodbye to freedom of speech. Harper wants to control the entire country as firmly as he controls his caucus.

I didn't think it was possible to loathe these guys any more, but I've surprised myself.

From an article in today's Globe and Mail by Martin Mittelstaedt.

...[B]ut [David Suzuki]'s worried that shooting from the lips too often about federal politicians may have made his namesake environmental charity, the David Suzuki Foundation, the target of vindictive federal tax auditors.

...[M]any of Canada's large environmental groups are also federally recognized charities, and worry that aggressive criticism of government policies might lead to tax-audit retribution, but Mr. Suzuki is one of the few to raise such concerns publicly.

..."[C]ertainly I try very, very hard not to be partisan," Mr. Suzuki said, "but I still will criticize government for policy. I think that's the right of all people."

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

War in Afghanistan "a well-intentioned atrocity"

Michael Neumann, professor of philosophy at Trent University, wrote this piece on the atrocity of the war in Afghanistan.

When Myopia Becomes a Crime
Canada in Afghanistan

...[Y]et the West's war in Afghanistan is an outrage--contemptible in its conception and shameful in its execution.

...[R]espectable military thinking holds that, even with allies, The Mission might take half a million men. A Rand Corporation study in 2003 stated you need 20 soldiers per 1000 inhabitants for that sort of thing. Based on RAND's population figure for Afghanistan of 27,755,775, this, yields a force of about 500,000...Current 'coalition' forces number 30,000 to 50,000.

...[W]e hear a lot about commitment. Canadian Prime Minister Steve Harper, like Blair before him and like Bush, tells us that we've made a commitment to the Afghan people, and we must not leave them in the lurch. It's common to hear this from soldiers, too. This is, at best, self-deception. Suppose I promise to rebuild your bridge and allocate, from the very beginning, one tenth of the manpower and materials necessary to rebuild it. Then I have either made no commitment in the first place--just spoken some words without substance--or I made one without ever intending to keep it. Take your pick. Under either interpretation, this is sleaze masquerading as virtue.

...[T]he Mission, then, is a well-intentioned atrocity, so obviously futile that it shames all who join or support it in any way.