Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Harper gags Canadians with their own money

From the Real News Network:

There is a North-America wide strategy to take away the right to mass protest.

The New anti-Semitism: criticism of Israel

From Aljazeera English, a commentary on the quasi-Parliamentary committee's report about the supposed rise of anti-Semitism in Canada.

Anti-Semitism will always be with us because stupid, bigoted people will always be with us. But to attempt to change a definition of an abomination like anti-Semitism to fit political, evangelical or Christian Zionist ends is dangerous and profoundly stupid.

There is an element in the Canadian government who wish to support Israel, no matter what it does. Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. It also sounds like treason. The Harperites are trying to change the definition of that, too.

Canada clamps down on criticism of Israel

While the CPCCA's final report does contain some cases of real anti-Semitism, the committee has provided little evidence that anti-Semitism has actually increased in Canada in recent years. Instead, it has focused a disproportionate amount of effort and resources on what it calls a so-called "new anti-Semitism": criticism of Israel.

Indeed, the real purpose of the CPCCA coalition seems to be to stifle critiques of Israeli policy and disrupt pro-Palestinian solidarity organizing in Canada, including, most notably, Israeli Apartheid Week events. Many of the CPCCA's findings, therefore, must be rejected as both an attack on freedom of speech and freedom of protest, and as recklessly undermining the fight against real instances of anti-Semitism.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Post Office Matters

In the last few weeks, Canada Post workers started staging a series of rotating strikes across the country. They had been trying to negotiate with Canada Post management for quite a while on such matters as raises to cover the cost of living increases, sick leave etc. Essential services like social assistance cheques were still being delivered and mail was circulating, although slowly.

Canada Post responded by locking the workers out, thus shutting down the system completely.

Now Harper and his Con buddies have "stepped in" to order them back to work. With the "reverse Midas touch" that Harper has demonstrated so often and so well in the years he's occupied the throne, he has now caused negotiations to cease entirely.

Harper stepping in to fix anything is like setting an enraged bull elephant on the petunia beds, pretty much the same result of anything he and his colleagues have put their minds to (using the phrase loosely) in the last godawful five and a half years.

Bird and Fortune, two British comedians, discussed the privatization of the British post office in the early nineties, something that the howling nicompoops have avocated here in recent weeks.

Their conclusion? Privatizing the post office allows management to show their ruthlessness and greed, to say nothing of stupidity.

Ten minutes of wonderful dialogue.

Their site is here.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Harper's War Agenda

From by Derrick O'Keeffe

Expanding foreign military bases serves Harper's war agenda

"Canadian fighter jets have flown more than 400 sorties over Libya thus far, and NATO's air campaign is intensifying. The Canadian planes have been operating from a NATO base in Italy. To fight wars from the air, you need to have the use of foreign bases.

Last week, Le Devoir broke the news that the Canadian government had completed agreements for new foreign bases in Jamaica and Germany, with talks ongoing to establish bases in Kuwait, Tanzania and several other countries."

The piece includes a link to the Canadian Peace Alliance and a statement against Canada's garrisoning of the planet.

"The Canadian Peace Alliance condemns the plans of the Harper government to establish new foreign military bases for Canada. This is a policy that has been in the works for some time but, like so much else about Canada's foreign policy, it was completely excluded from the discussion during the recent federal election

...The announcement about new foreign bases came at the same time as a request to keep Canadian Forces on the ground in Richelieu, Quebec to help with flood relief was being ignored. The Harper government continues to encourage costly and unnecessary deployments of the Forces abroad, while showing little interest in using its resources at home for disaster relief.

Foreign bases have nothing to do with Canadian security, and everything to do with the Harper government's desire to be able to participate in future military aggressions like the ones ongoing in Afghanistan and Libya."

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Young woman urges a "Canadian Spring"

My admiration goes out to young people standing up to their elders (but rarely betters, whatever the Harper echo chamber may think of themselves) and their activism is one of the few things I can feel hopeful about in this era of unthinking Harperism.

Rogue page inspired by Arab uprising, wants Canadians to mobilize

During the throne speech of the new Harper "Majority" Regime - 40% of the vote, 25% of eligible voters - this young graduate who took a position as a page in the Senate, held up a home made red stop sign with the words "Stop Harper!". She was escorted from that august chamber - normally the meeting place of Harper-appointed yes-men and women - by a guy dressed in 18th century militaristic gear.

There was tut-tutting at the lack of security by a scared Con spokesman, his own insecurity whipped into view by the thought that a young woman armed with a sign was a danger to his own god-ordained right to dictate to Canadians what they had to do - or be charged with High Treason.

Funny how the Cons are all for freedom from dictators - or so they say - but can't see the autocratic agenda of their new Saviour is a danger to the country. Who, exactly, holds the treasonous agenda here?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canadian War Crimes in Afghanistan

A lengthy, well-documented and detailed piece by Michael Keefer, professor at the University of Guelph, Ontario, on the complicity of Harper and his minions in Afghan detainee transfer to certain torture, deliberate blocking of information at the highest levels in the Canadian Forces and the Canadian government and outright lies from Harper's government when questioned by news and parliamentary committees about it.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canadian War Crimes in Afghanistan

"...[A]ccording to law professor Amir Attaran, who has seen uncensored versions of the documents that the Harper government has so strenuously resisted sharing with Parliament, the paper trail is thoroughly incriminating. In March 2010 Attiran told CBC News: “If these documents were released [in full], what they will show is that Canada partnered deliberately with the torturers in Afghanistan for the interrogation of detainees […]. There would be a question of rendition and a question of war crimes on the part of certain Canadian officials. That’s what’s in these documents, and that’s why the government is covering up as hard as it can.”

This question hasn't even come up in this election campaign except by Jack Layton of the New Democratic Party (NDP) whose position all along has been against the war and Canada's part in it. For his efforts, his was given the name "Taliban Jack" by Harper Conservatives and their supporters.

Michael Keefer's conclusion:

"The clear pattern of intentionality revealed in the words and actions of senior Canadian government bureaucrats and senior military officers is both embarrassing (these people actually believe, despite copious evidence to the contrary, that torture produces real ‘intelligence’) and also a scandalous offence against the rule of law.

More scandalous still is the evidence that these people were acting on directives from Stephen Harper—that Harper knew perfectly well that the Afghan puppet-state tortures the prisoners handed over to it by the Canadian Forces, but nonetheless permitted the continuation of this system, and that he actually took charge of the program of lying about it. "

Sunday, April 24, 2011

So much excellent writing about the contemptible Harper Government

As we limp our way toward another Harper minority government (or, may the gods forbid, a Harper majority), there is so much to read by some truly great bloggers.

James Laxer:

Ten compelling reasons to vote for Stephen Harper:

Stephen Harper - Sans moi, le deluge

Stephen Harper: Now He’s The Champion of National Unity

David Climenhaga and his Alberta diary.

Neil Kitson

Canada's 2011 Federal Election

Harper's government has been found in contempt of parliament, the first time that it has happened in any country with the parliamentary system. Stephen Harper and his merry band of loyal acolytes have tried to make it appear that the whole thing is about a budget, another blatant lie.

In the last election, people who had posted lawn signs for a Liberal candidate in London, Toronto and the Niagara Region of Ontario had the break lines cut on their cars. In the last couple of days, cars have been vandalized and houses spray- painted with graffiti, e.g. "Lie-beral scum". Liberal and NDP signs have been defaced or destroyed. One Liberal candidate in the riding west of Ottawa had one hundred of his signs spray-painted with the crosshairs of a gunsight, just like the unlovely Sarah Palin's tactics. These are not the tactics of the centrist or left-of-centre parties. Why would they deface their own signs? Some Con supporters suggest it's done to elicit sympathy for themselves.

Harper has made my skin crawl since I first saw him. With each following lie, dirty deal, corrupt official, attack ad and his blatant ignorance (if I'm being charitable) or breaking of our laws, he has become more nauseating and frightening.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Robert Kennedy Jr. blasts Harper

Some days the news is so depressing, the hypocrisy so thick and motives are so murky that it is hard work to see any light on the horizon at all.

And then this inspired piece from Robert Kennedy Jr. made me smile for one of the few times in the last five years when I consider the state of this country under Prime Minister Stephen Harper's malign influence.

Kennedy sees what we have running the place and isn't afraid to say it.

"...[C}anada['s] regulators announced last week they would reject efforts by Canada's right wing Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, to repeal a law that forbids lying on broadcast news."

There is already considerable leeway on "ads" during election campaigns. Basically, you're allowed to libel and slander to your heart's content. The HarperCons have taken it to new heights. They've launched attack ads without any official announcement of an election, delicately circumventing the financing rules and probably using taxpayer money to do it. But if they aren't election ads, then the Cons should be prosecuted under libel laws.

In my dreams...

But Robert Kennedy Jr. comes to the rescue again:

"...[H]arper, often referred to as 'George W. Bush's Mini Me,' is known for having mounted a Bush like war on government scientists, data collectors, transparency, and enlightenment in general. He is a wizard of all the familiar tools of demagoguery; false patriotism, bigotry, fear, selfishness and belligerent religiosity.

Harper's attempts to make lying legal on Canadian television is a stark admission that right wing political ideology can only dominate national debate through dishonest propaganda..."

Music to my ears, heard as a long gloomy winter is finally coming to an end...maybe. Weather gurus are forecasting a colder than usual spring.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Canada to Egypt - "Don't beat up your protesters!"

From David Climenhaga's Alberta Diary:

Laugh-out-loud ironies dot Cannon’s sanctimonious sermon to Mubarak

In the mean time, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon’s office issued a statement advising the world that Canadians “urge all parties to refrain from using violence and the Egyptian authorities to respond to these protests peacefully."

After all, he presumably meant, Cairo’s no Toronto, where the protesters are really dangerous!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Murray Dobbin: Canada in Afghanistan - the Big Lie

Our country's leaders are lying to themselves, to us and to the rest of the world. They implicate us in their lies, so, as Canadians, we become part of the big lie. If we refuse to swallow the lies or go along with them, we are called un-Canadian, unpatriotic or lovers of terrorists or terrorism. Just because lots of people sign on to the Big Lie doesn't make it true. Just because leaders of "democratic" governments skate over, ignore or refuse to see the illegality of their actions, it does not make them legal.

I always imagine Murray Dobbin standing on a mountaintop during a storm, calling out to Canadians to warn them of the danger they face - and very few can be bothered to listen.

Canada in Afghanistan - the Big Lie

Our tragic and pathetic Afghanistan adventure is a dramatic commentary on the state of Canadian politics and democracy. Despite all the evidence that continuing to stay in this benighted country is worse than pointless, despite the fact that the majority of Canadians want to get out sooner rather than later and despite the fact that even Stephen Harper recognizes that the Karzai regimen is one of the most repugnant and corrupt Canadians have ever been asked to support we are unable as a nation to extricate ourselves from this deadly mess.

In spite of all the blathering about the common sense of Canadians, politicians, except for New Democratic leader Jack Layton, who has never supported and does not support the Big Lie, do not listen to us. We are expected to pay up and shut up.

And our country is being ruined.

The Afghan war/occupation not only further corrupts and destroys Afghanistan; it corrupts Canadian politics by obliging everyone to be involved in a Big Lie. We have to lie about everything: the likelihood of improvement, the objectives of our partner, the US; the building of democracy, the role of oil and gas pipelines, the liberation of women, Afghanis’ attitude towards Canadian soldiers, our commitment to the Geneva Convention, and the story we tell Canadian soldiers about why they are there. Nothing but lies and everyone one of them corrosive of our political culture and international image.

Whistleblowers, whether they be diplomats like Richard Colvin, translators like Ahmadshah Malgarai, or members of JTF2, who report wrongdoing by members of the Canadian Armed Forces are ignored, bullied, or have their integrity or their motives questioned.

The legal maxim, "Cui bono?" or "Who benefited?" should indicate that a diplomat, translator or member of the armed forces is unlikely to advance his career if he exposes the wrongdoing of the government or military brass. Clearly the bureaucracies have much to lose if the truth is told and everything to gain if it is simply swept under the rug.

Dishonourable wars – and most are – dishonour everyone involved and make liars out of the most senior people justifying the conflict. This war is incredibly destructive not only of the country being attacked and occupied but it corrodes every Canadian institution involved: the military, the civil service, Parliament, political leaders, the media and those in academia recruited to supply justification for an unjustifiable war.