Monday, November 30, 2009

Obama Snubs Harper Again. He's Out of the Loop

Obama snubs Harper again, this time taking him out of the loop on Afghanistan.

So as Harper is trying to distance himself from the war crime allegations, the U.S. president is trying to distance himself from Stephen Harper.

Our PM is not included in Obama's plans for Afghanistan. He's not included in any of my plans either.

Harper not on Obama's Afghan call list
November 30, 2009
CBC News

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will not be among the world leaders briefed personally by U.S. President Barack Obama about his plans for a new strategy in Afghanistan.

Obama will contact a number of leaders, including those of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, China and Russia. But despite Canada's lengthy military commitment to the troubled region, Vice-President Joe Biden has been given the task of relaying the president’s plans to Harper.

Canada's military mission to Afghanistan began soon after the attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. The current mission in Kandahar, which begun at the end of 2006, includes 2,800 troops focused around an infantry battle group.

Harper has repeatedly said that he will adhere to a motion passed in Parliament and not extend Canada's military mission beyond 2011.

Since 2002, 133 Canadian soldiers have been killed serving in the Afghanistan mission, resulting in the highest per-capita death rate among foreign armies in Afghanistan. One diplomat and two aid workers have also been killed.

Obama ordered military officials to begin carrying out his new strategy in Afghanistan, two days before his speech to unveil a plan that includes the deployment of thousands of more troops.

On Tuesday night at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., Obama is expected to announce he will be sending more than 30,000 troops to Afghanistan

Why Did Harper Sit on Almost 2 Billion Dollars For Social Housing?

The Globe and Mail reported today that less than 1% of the $1.9-billion federal fund for social housing has been spent, despite the fact that homelessness is on the rise.

Gerald Keddy must be tickled pink that his "no-good bastards" will have to stay on the sidewalks in Halifax. The Reformers can afford 100 million dollar for self serving TV ads, but nothing to help those hardest hit by the recession.

When will Canadians wake up and realize that helping those less fortunate is not a neo-conservative principle. Their only goal is not to blink.

Less than 1% of $1.9-billion social-housing fund spent so far: Hardest-hit Canadians still waiting for support

Less than 1 per cent of a $1.9-billion federal fund for social housing has actually been spent – more than a year after it was announced by the Harper government in the midst of the 2008 election campaign. Another $1.5-billion of social-housing money allotted in February's budget is also only trickling out the door, according to newly released government data.

The figures suggest Canadians who are hardest hit by the recession won't benefit from the flood of stimulus cash until the economy is well on its way to recovery. They also show that the political pledges to quickly inject cash into the struggling economy have run into the bureaucratic realities of federal-provincial negotiations ....

I Was Right, I Was Right, I Was Right ... Damn, I Was Right. Sigh.

I've been posting a lot on Stephen Harper and neo-Conservatism, suggesting that balancing the budget or even repairing the economy, was not part of Harper's agenda. It was strictly dismantling the 'Welfare State' and paving the way for the corporate elite to make even more money.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was hoping I was wrong, but knew that I wasn't. If you followed Stephen Harper at all, you'd know what his ultimate goal was.

In fact, back in the day when his Reformers were first trying to sell themselves as a grassroots party, they lost the support of many seniors when they learned that they wanted to end the Old Age Security, Canada Pension and Public Healthcare.

We are now a majority away from losing everything we fought so hard to accomplish.

The left have got to get their act together, unite or stop fighting each other. Otherwise, they will be complicit in our demise.

I take little comfort in knowing that economist Eugene Lang, also sees through Harper's agenda. Now we just have to get Canadians to wake up before it's too late.

Big-spender Harper true to his neoconservative roots
Running big deficits while squeezing revenue is a way of reaching goal of smaller government

A new conventional wisdom has emerged. The Harper government has been labelled moderate, centrist – even "liberal." This characterization is due entirely to the large fiscal deficits that have emerged on the Harper watch – $56 billion next year alone – deficits the government admits with a shrug will extend for several years.

No self-respecting conservative government could tolerate such profligacy, or so goes the critique. The Harperites have lost their way, abandoned their guiding philosophy, sold out to those soft-headed, big government political parties for which deficits are regarded as a normal part of governing.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The Harper government has, in fact, remained very true to its ideology. But that ideology is not "conservative." Rather, it is "neoconservative," and this makes a big difference on the question of deficits and fiscal policy.

For neoconservatives – the denomination that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s – balanced budgets are not a first-order priority. The overriding objective is to cut taxes; balancing the books comes a distant second or even third on the to-do list. Most neoconservative governments have never gotten around to balancing the budget ....

...So don't be fooled. There is nothing "liberal" about the Harper government's fiscal and economic policy. They remain true to their ideological roots, and can walk proudly in the footsteps of trailblazers like Ronald Reagan.

(Eugene Lang, a former senior economist at Finance Canada, is co-founder of Canada 2020: Canada's Progressive Centre and vice-president of Bluesky Strategy Group. Philip DeMont, an economist, veteran financial journalist and former Ontario government adviser, is co-author (with Eugene Lang) of Turning Point: Moving Beyond Neoconservatism.)

Out of Our Control. How Foreign Ownership Has Changed Who we Are

The above is Part VI of Mel Hurtig's documentary on YouTube; Who Killed Canada.

In part one he gives an introduction to the infrastructure of the extreme right-wing movement; beginning with the hi-jacking of our media, to the many so-called think-tanks, that provide the 'facts' to that hi-jacked media.

In part two he discusses the reduction in federal revenue that weakened spending in important areas. We learned that we are 25th of the 30 OECD countries, in terms of spending on social programs.

Part three deals with our increasing poverty, that coincides with the increase in corporate profits. And though these 'free market' gurus try to convince us that we should throw in our lot with corporate Canada, they have done nothing to advance Canadian interests or protect this country's citizens.

Part four discussed the fact that although neo-cons would like us to believe that we are overtaxed, Canada is actually 21st of 30 nations in terms of the amount of taxes we pay. It also discusses the fact that our history has been rewritten to erase the important role the First Nations played.

Part five dealt with NAFTA and what a horrible thing this was and is for Canada. We are basically under the control of the United States. We got very little from the deal, and in fact 11,043 Canadian companies have now become foreign controlled.

In part six Mr. Hurtig continues to discuss the effects of NAFTA on Canada and the fact that we have the most foreign owned corporations of any other developed nation. He also mentions the SPP and the fact that the media has not discussed what this deep integration policy means for us.

Following is a brief history of foreign ownership in Canada. Even some Canadian companies are now concerned that we are losing control of our resources and the fact that foreign companies are moving their head offices out of the country, taking jobs away, while contributing little to the betterment of Canada.

Foreign Ownership in Canada:

Foreign ownership is the result of investment by non-resident corporations in another country's companies in the pursuit of profit through control. It is incidental to the operations of transnational, multinational, or global corporations in setting up subsidiaries or branch plants. The recipient, or host, country can get the economic benefit of superior technology and management but at the possible political costs of dependency and susceptibility to foreign practice and policy.

For much of its history Canada has had, for good or bad, the highest level of foreign ownership of any country in the world—particularly high for a developed and industrialized country. This can be attributed in part to proximity to the United States, where multinational corporations are disproportionately headquartered, and to American demand for Canada's rich supply of exploitable natural resources. But it is also the consequence of conscious Canadian government policy to encourage foreign investment.

The high protective tariff of the National Policy of 1879 helped infant Canadian firms, but it also attracted American branch plants that were already spreading nationally throughout the United States and simply spilled over its northern border. Canadian politicians boasted to their constituents about the jobs created when branch plants came to their communities. The great prosperity associated with the economic boom prior to the First World War masked the higher costs of branch plants, which lost economies of scale by producing a full range of American goods for the smaller Canadian market. Whether this inefficiency was the result of the tariff or of foreign ownership was hard to sort out since the two were so bound together.

In the first decade after the Second World War, there was another great round of American investment in Canadian resources for American consumption. For the first time, a backlash manifested itself against the extent of foreign ownership. Walter
Gordon , a prominent Canadian businessman and Liberal party guru, headed the Royal Commission on Canada's Economic Prospects, which, while admitting of the benefits, warned of the costs of foreign ownership in terms of economic and political sovereignty.

The stage was set for a sustained debate on how to devise policies that would increase the amount of Canadian ownership and at the same time would increase the benefits and decrease the costs of foreign ownership. As minister of finance in the Pearson government in the mid-sixties, Gordon proposed a tax on foreign takeovers, but it generated so much controversy it had to be abandoned. The best chance to deal meaningfully with foreign ownership was lost but the issue did not go away. In 1968 a task force appointed by the Pearson government and overseen by Gordon produced a comprehensive report on foreign ownership called the Watkins Report after its chief author, economics professor Melville Watkins . It endorsed a long-standing proposal of Gordon to create the Canada Development Corporation as an instrument to increase Canadian ownership, and proposed setting up an agency to monitor the activities of foreign-owned companies to increase benefits and decrease costs.

The Trudeau government commissioned another report under the direction of cabinet minister Herb Gray ; his comprehensive Gray Report ( 1972 ) laid the basis for action, particularly when the Liberals found themselves in a minority government situation in 1972 and needed the support of the nationalist NDP in order to govern. The Canada Development Corporation had been created in 1971 and the Foreign Investment Review Agency was set up in 1973 , though with far fewer powers than the Gray Report had recommended. In 1974 Petro-Canada was established as a Crown corporation to facilitate the Canadianization of the oil and gas industry. Foreign ownership fell relative to Canadian ownership in the 1970s and into the 1980s. This seems, however, to have had less to do with the foreign ownership policies of government—FIRA turned out to be quite toothless—than with the increasing maturity of Canadian business.

The election of the Reagan administration in the United States and then of the Mulroney government in Canada in the 1980s precipitated a sharp about-face on foreign ownership policy. The Canada Development Corporation and Petro-Can were privatized and FIRA was given the mandate of promoting and encouraging foreign investment. Out of the long debate on foreign ownership, little of substance remained, though rules limiting foreign ownership in the media have survived.

The free trade agreements struck in the 1990s contained ‘national treatment’ provisions that require all firms, regardless of nationality of ownership, to be treated the same, thereby ruling out policies directed at foreign-owned firms. The Multilateral Agreement on Investment that would have enshrined globally the rights of multinational corporations failed in its implementation in the late 1990s because of global opposition organized, in part, by the Council of Canadians.

Ironically, in the early years of the 21st century, the Canadian business community, which had mostly opposed any restrictions on foreign ownership, has expressed some concern about the tendency of American companies, in the era of free trade, to rationalize on a North American basis by closing the Canadian head-office of the subsidiary, thereby limiting decision making in Canada and eliminating some jobs. With tariffs gone, it would now seem that there may be some problems that inhere in foreign ownership itself.

More Postings on NAFTA and teh Selling of Canada:

1. NAFTA and the Selling of Canada. We Got a Raw Deal

2. Why we Must Continue to Fight For Our Sovereignty

3. Protecting Our Sovereignty and Rewriting our History

4. Good News and Bad News on the SPP

5. Harper's Free Trade is Managed Trade and All Wrong For Canada

6. Stephen Harper Managing us While Others Manage Risk

7. More on Harper's Failure to Govern Responsibly

In 2007 Amnesty International Warned That NATO Countries Were at Risk of Complicity in Torture

Though Stephen Harper is sticking to his story that there is no evidence that detainees handed over to the Afghan authorities were tortured, the evidence is mounting that he is either lying or really naive.

I have stated repeatedly, that while the Harper government is trying to pass this off on our troops, they are not the ones who could be charged with war crimes.

Prof. Mendes emphasized in an interview that international conventions and law governing prisoner treatment, which has been incorporated into Canadian law through the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, places the heaviest burden of responsibility on the chain of command rather than frontline soldiers."The notion of command responsibility that became entrenched in international humanitarian law is that if there is allegation of a serious crime in international humanitarian law, and torture is one of the most serious, it puts the heaviest burden on the civilian and military command structure," Prof. Mendes said.

Canada's original agreement with regards to detainees, was to hand them over to the American military. It made sense at the time because they were running the show and had already established their own detention camp at Bagram, where they would be interrogating terrorist suspects.

Then in 2005, the New York Times broke a story that the prisoners at Bagram were being horribly tortured, and two deaths at the camp were reported as homicides. Thirteen US soldiers were convicted in November of that year, forcing Hillier to change plans. In December, during an election campaign, he inked a new deal whereby those captured would instead be handed over to the Afghan authorities.

Reports of torture began arriving in early 2006, and the Harper government kept silent for a year and a half. Amnesty International reported in 2007, that there was evidence of torture, but their warnings were also ignored. You can read their full report here.

Major Manon Plante, a Canadian army officer, in a continuing-education thesis wrote: "Based on the Afghan human rights track record and its primitive prison capacity, how the Government of Canada came to the conclusion that the Afghan authorities had the capacity to detain personnel is perplexing," Maj. Plante wrote in her 105-page paper. "The decision may have been legal but it appears that it may not have been the right ethical choice."

And Tom Blackwell wrote in the National Post:

In an exhaustive critique, the author concluded Canada's decision to hand over suspected insurgents to Afghan authorities with a history of abuse violated Canadian ethical values, could turn ordinary Afghans against foreign troops and likely increased the stress of this country's combatants. The policy might even have contributed to the alleged mercy killing of a Taliban fighter by a Canadian soldier, she wrote.


According to the National Defence email, detainees captured by the Canadians are primarily people who have injured or killed NATO personnel or Afghans or are suspected, based on credible information, of planning attacks. No one suggests Canadian troops themselves have acted in anything but a humane, professional manner with detainees. Should we care, then, if murderous insurgents are roughed up in local prisons that have long been notorious for their abuses?

"We detained under violent actions people trying to kill our sons and daughters," Mr. Hillier said this week in rejecting suggestions that innocents were captured.

Amnesty International and other rights advocates, however, argue that any military operation in which Canadian troops are involved should be consistent with the country's fundamental values and its international legal obligations, such as the Geneva Conventions and UN anti-torture edicts. "It defines what kind of mission we're involved in," Mr. Taylor added ....

Hitler Youth and Other Young Radicals

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole My Country

In November of 1922, a Mr. K. Friedrich visited Harvard University to speak to their Liberal Club about post-war Germany.  He gave an animated account of a new phenomenon: the "Youth Movement" or "Gugenelbewegung."
"'The Youth Movement' expresses the new spirit in Germany. It feels that the old life was cold, hard and unprofitable, stifling all the better instincts of the young people of the nation. The old militaristic system could not be called culture.

"It was merely a mechanical perfection, wholly lacking in spontaneity. The 'Youth Movement' is embracing a different theory of values in the educational standard. The tendency is constantly towards a more liberal ideal. Its studies are more and more in the realm of Philosophy, Literature and Religion. The old shackles are being cast off by a new and spontaneous enthusiasm." (1)
When we think of a German Youth Movement, we automatically think of the Hitler Youth, and the disturbing images of indoctrinated children proudly giving the infamous salute.  However, the youth movement actually began before the War, as a vehicle for young people to commune with nature and escape the oppressive regime of Wilhelm II. Their hikes were intellectual and cultural endeavours, as they shared poetry; discussed and debated philosophy, current events and politics. And while many groups had uniforms, more common would be musical instruments and books.

During the war, the movement gained momentum, when shortages in essentials, resulted in many schools being closed; so for children and young adults, these hikes provided their education.  After the war, the groups began to organize and many became more political in nature; some even sponsored by political parties.

The German Zionist Youth Movement

Leo Strauss, the German emigre who inspired the neoconservative movement,  would become an active participant in the Zionist Youth Blau-Weiss, then led by Walter Moses.  And while the group enjoyed the typical hikes in the mountains, they were also very militaristic. Strauss would refer to it as pagan-fascism, and indeed Moses liked to imitate Mussolini, who had come to power in 1922.

It was here that Strauss claimed to have nurtured his authoritarianism, and the concept of a "clique", led by a dictatorial style leader. As early as 1923 he spoke of a preference for a quasi-totalitarianism, and detested “bourgeois” or “liberals” seeking to preserve their lives and comfort.

He would actually try to join the Nazi Party but was turned away because he was Jewish.  Said Strauss of Hitler, his “political theology” was hostile toward “me and my kind”. (2)

You Don't Have to be German to be a Hitler Youth

When civil rights activist, Tom Hayden, (formerly married to Jane Fonda) was a student at the University of Michigan, he became the editor of the Michigan Daily, and one of the founders of  Students for a Democratic Society.  SDS was in direct contrast to Young Americans for Freedom, and the two groups often clashed.

In one article of Hayden's in the Daily, he compared YAF to the Hitler Youth.  They were certainly cult-like, in their attempts to dress and act like William Buckley Jr., and accepted no opposition to any of their arguments, which they like Buckley, were always well prepared for.

YAF responded to Hayden's article in their own newsletter.  "Next to the Twist and barely knee-length skirts, the most fashionable thing of the season is the rousing , vitriolic attack on the so-called 'Extreme-Right'".

Buckley approved of the counter-attack, but privately he worried that  Hayden was right.  The John Birch Society, that was providing funding and moral support to the conservative youth group, had suggested in one of their reports, that if Barry Goldwater lost the 1964 nomination,  they would assemble forces in his [Goldwater's] fascist army. (3)

Leo Strauss would develop a philosophical argument which he called Reductio ad Hitlerum.  What he suggested was that not everything Adolf Hitler did was bad, and using examples like Hitler was anti-smoking, loved dogs and was a vegetarian, we can't automatically think of those things as bad, just because they were associated with Hitler.

Of course Hitler was not a vegetarian, but loved wild game, sausages and caviar, (4) and in 1926, apparently in order to impress Mimi Reiter, a 16-year-old girl, he whipped his dog so savagely that it terrified her. (5)

This does speak to another aspect of neoconservatism. The power to deceive, in order to create a public persona that the masses can get behind.

Strauss is right however, to suggest that not everything Hitler did was bad and in fact the political strategies that the neoconservatives adopted, were like time delayed synchronized swimming.  They followed his path to power, almost to the letter.  I'll be getting into that in more detail, later.

However, Hayden was not off the mark.

Two Burning Images
Undampered by a chilly drizzle, some 40,000 Germans jammed the square between Berlin's Friedrich Wilhelm University and the Opera House looking at a black mass of criss-crossed logs, insulated from the pavement by sand. A thumping band blared out old military marches. Toward midnight a procession entered the square, headed by officers of the University's student dueling corps in their dress uniforms: blue tunics, white breeches, plush tam o'shanters and spurred patent leather jack boots.

Behind them came other students and a line of motor trucks piled high with books. More students clung to the trucks, waving flaring torches that they hurled through the air at the log pile. Blue flames of gasoline shot up, the pyre blazed. One squad of students formed a chain from the pyre to the trucks. Then came the books, passed from hand to hand while a leather-lunged student roared out the names of the authors:

"Erich Maria Remarque [wild cheering]—for degrading the German language and the highest patriotic ideal!" (Remarque wrote All Quiet on the Western Front, against WWI)

"Emil Ludwig—burned for literary rascality and high treason against Germany."

"Sigmund Freud—for falsifying our history and degrading its great figures. . . ."

On he went, calling out the names of practically every modern German author with whom the outside world is familiar: Karl Marx, Jakob Wassermann, Albert Einstein, Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Lion Feuchtwanger. Arnold and Stefan Zweig, Walther Rathenau.

... While the flames flared highest, up to a little flag-draped rostrum stumped clubfooted, wild-eyed little Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment in the Nazi Cabinet, organizer of the great midnight bibliocaust. "Jewish intellectualism is dead!" cried he. "National Socialism has hewn the way. The German folk soul can again express itself!

"These flames do not only illuminate the final end of the old etra, they also light up the new. Never before have the young men had so good a right to clean up the debris of the past. . . . The old goes up in flames, the new shall be fashioned from the flame in our hearts. ... As you had the right to destroy the books, you had the duty to support the government. The fire signals to the entire world that the November revolutionaries [German Revolution that overthrew the Kaiser] have sunk to earth and a new spirit has arisen!" All over Germany similar pyres blazed with similar books.

The Nazi youth were driven by anti-communism and anti-liberalism.  The anti-Semitism came about because of the popular belief that the Jews were working with the Communists to take control of Germany.

The conservative youth in the early days, were also fuelled by anti-communism and and anti-liberalism, but while they didn't resort to book burning, an  Indiana chapter of YAF, did make a very public display of burning baskets, alleged to have been manufactured behind the Iron Curtain.

However, there is more than one way to burn a book, or even a basket.  An affiliate of YAF, the Intercollegiate Society Institute, formerly the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists, a paleonconservative think tank created by William Buckley Jr., publishes a list of the 50 worst and the 50 best books.

When describing the 50 worst, they use similar language to that of the young Nazis feeding the flames.
Alfred Kinsey, et al., Sexual Behavior in the Human Male -  "A pervert's attempt to demonstrate that perversion is "statistically" normal."

John Kenneth Galbraith, The Affluent Society (1958) - "Made Americans dissatisfied with the ineradicable fact of poverty. Led to foolish public policies that produced the hell that was the 1960s."

Walter Rauschenbusch, Christianity and the Social Crisis (1907) - "[The Church] should therefore strengthen the existing communistic institutions and aid the evolution of society from the present temporary stage of individualism to a higher form of communism." Eek!

John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (1971) - "The hollow soul of liberalism elaborated with a technical apparatus that would have made a medieval Schoolman blush."
And the list goes on.  Can't you just picture them being thrown into the fire?

Even those they don't metaphorically burn, they still use to take jabs at liberal tradition. From their Best list:
C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man (1947) - "... reveals the true intent of liberalism"

Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) - " ... her account of the peculiarly modern phenomenon of "totalitarianism" forced many liberals to consider the sins of communism in the same category as those of fascism, and that is no small achievement."

Herbert Butterfield, The Whig Interpretation of History (1931) - Every day, in every way, things are getting better and better? No, and Butterfield provides the intellectually mature antidote to that premise of liberal historiography."
Book Burning Canadian Style
[Mark] Tushingham was just about to give a presentation on the science behind his novel Hotter Than Hell at the National Press Club. Released last November with little fanfare, it's about the Earth becoming so hot from climate change that America and Canada are at war over water. "I was entering the elevator 15 minutes before the event when I got a call on my cellphone," says Tushingham's publisher, Elizabeth Margaris at DreamCatcher Publishing. "[Tushingham] said, 'I've got bad news. I can't go.' He was told [by the Environment Minister's office] not to appear." While Tushingham himself was not available for comment, Margaris told Hour, "This is just outrageous. Mark can't talk but I can. They can't fire me. They can't gag me." (9)
Conservative MP Rona Ambrose forbid any promotion of the book by Tushingham, who worked for the Ministry of the Environment.  The book was fiction, though based on the results of inaction to address climate change, something the Harper government refused to admit was real.  Abrose was a former consultant for the Tarsands, so was protecting her clients.

In March of 2010, Senator Mike Duffy attacked the University of King’s College and other Canadian journalism schools for exposing students to Noam Chomsky and critical thinking. “When you put critical thinking together with Noam Chomsky, what you’ve got is a group of people who are taught from the ages of 18, 19 and 20 that what we stand for, private enterprise, a system that has generated more wealth for more people because people take risks and build businesses, is bad,” said Duffy (10)

King's College responded by saying that books like Manufacturing Consent were not  "part of the curriculum, though students do read some Chomsky."  What they should have said was that what journalism students read was none of his damn business.  How can we hope for future balance in the media, sorely lacking today, if students are only taught to think one way?

From their concerted attacks on Marci McDonald's The Armageddon Factor to Stephen Harper trying to stop the publication of Tom Flanagan's book Harper's Team (he was forced to edit out half of it), Canada's conservative movement is attempting to change the way we view ourselves and our place in the world, while creating a false public persona.

Critical thinking out.  American style conservative indoctrination in.


1. MR. FRIEDRICH TELLS OF "YOUTH MOVEMENT" IN GERMANY, the Harvard Crimson, November 22, 1922

2. Enmity and Tyranny, By: Alan Gilbert, March 5, 2010

3. Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, By Rick Perlstein, Nation Books, 2001, ISBN: 0-8090-2858-1, p. 154

4.  Hitler: Neither Vegetarian Nor Animal Lover, By: Ryn Barry, Pythagorean Books, 2004

5. The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler, By: Robert G.L. Waite, Basic Books, 1977, ISBN-10: 0306805146

6. Bibliocaust, Time Magazine, May 22, 1933

7. The Fifty WORST Books of the Century,
Intercollegiate Society Institute

8. The Fifty BEST Books of the Century, Intercollegiate Society Institute

9. Tories muzzle environmental scientist: Catch a fire, by Julie Fortier, The Hour – April 20, 2006

10. Mike Duffy slams journalism schools for thinking critically, By Paul McLeod, Metro Halifax, March 16, 2010

What Kind of Leader Tells His Country's Troops That the Majority of Parliamentarians Are Out to Get Them?

What a horrible display Stephen Harper has been putting on, suggesting that the Opposition do not support our troops, simply because they want to try to avoid our own soldiers facing war crimes at the Hague.

Under international law we must have a full public inquiry on this, or that is exactly what is going to happen. Clearly the Harper government is more concerned with saving their own butts than the reputation or indeed lives, of our men and women in uniform.

Since they have now been abandoned, it is time to bring our troops home.

Red tape and blank sheets
What are the feds trying to hide in Afghan abuse probe?
November 29, 2009

For more than two years, Stephen Harper's government has been sitting on more than 1,000 pages of potentially key evidence in the widening fiasco over the alleged torture of Afghan prisoners.

The documents are the official results of Canadian military police investigations in Afghanistan, dating back to 2006, and go straight to the heart of the controversy gripping Parliament.

But like other documentary evidence surrounding this murky chapter in Canada's war effort, the military police reports remain under government lock and key.

All of which raises the obvious question: What is the government trying to hide?

The military police apparently probed allegations that Canadian Forces turned over Afghan prisoners to local security authorities, knowing the detainees faced a high risk of torture.

If true, Canada may have violated international convention, or worse, abetted war crimes.

On the other hand, if the military police found no such evidence, one would think the Harper government would have plastered those reports on every street corner.

It's not just the Canadian public being kept in the dark.

For almost two years, the quasi-judicial Canadian Military Police Complaints Commission has been trying to investigate the Afghan detainee issue.

Yet, it wasn't until May this year that the government even mentioned the existence of the military police probes.

Six months later, the Harper government still has not turned over any of the resulting police reports to the commission.

In fact, in the 18 months since the commission launched a public inquiry into the Afghan detainee issue, the government has yet to provide a single page of evidence of any kind. It hasn't been for a lack of trying on the part of the commission.

As the commission's chief lawyer recently said: "Despite numerous document requests and despite continuous assurances the documents would be produced ... the commission has not been provided with a single new document."

Instead, federal lawyers have devoted their efforts -- and no doubt staggering amounts of taxpayers' money -- to binding the commission in legal knots, intimidating witnesses, denying requests for documents and generally ensuring the inquiry goes nowhere.

So far, a parliamentary committee has been treated to the same stonewalling.

In recent weeks, MPs have been trying to pursue allegations by senior diplomat Richard Colvin that Canadian officials turned a blind eye to probable torture of Afghan detainees and then tried to cover up their inaction by claiming ignorance of the problem.

Colvin claims he repeatedly raised the torture issue in dispatches as Canada's deputy ambassador in Afghanistan in 2006. This week, the government trotted out a parade of generals and Colvin's former bureaucratic boss to forcefully refute the allegations.

Popular retired general Rick Hillier said he had recently reviewed Colvin's missives and there was no mention of torture. So why doesn't the government settle the issue and simply release all of Colvin's memos?

Last week in the Commons, the prime minister seemed to promise just that. Alas, if it seemed to be too good to be true, it was.

What Harper actually said was the government would release "all legally available documents" related to the Afghan detainee controversy.

He failed to mention the government has already made sure there is almost nothing on paper that is "legally available."

Instead, the justice department declared all of Colvin's memos to be matters of "national security" protected by secrecy laws and threatened to have him arrested if any leaked out.

The same "secret" stamp has also been slapped on the 2006 military police reports and on virtually every other shred of paper related to the Afghan detainee issue.

The feds are even trying to put a "national security" designation on a letter from Colvin's lawyer complaining about government secrecy and intimidation. Go figure.

Two years ago, the Harper government gave the complaints commission $5 million in special funding for the Afghan detainee probe.

Instead, most of the money so far has been spent by the federal commission fighting off federal government lawyers trying to shut down the proceedings.

One thing is already clear.

The Afghan prisoner fiasco is either an insidious government cover-up of official lies and misdeeds or the Harper administration is going to extraordinary lengths to hide the truth about nothing.

According to Conservative MP Jacques Gourde There is a Scandal at Public Works

Or is there? Is there really a Public Works? Is there such a person named Jacques Gourde?

It's all a mystery.

The strangest story is coming from the Public Works department, that began when the Globe and Mail learned that there was apparently a police investigation in progress. That was on Wednesday.

Officials silent on mystery investigation at Public Works

Investigators have been called in to Public Works Canada, but the government is refusing to release any information on the matter.

In fact, government officials are even refusing to say which law prevents them from speaking about the situation.

"I can't even confirm or deny that there is an investigation, or even discuss under what law I'm not allowed to talk," a government official said.

Reformer Christian Paradis stated on the Public Works website:

Gatineau, November 27, 2009 – There have been a number of media stories regarding a potential investigation or probe at Public Works and Government Services Canada. I would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight.

There is no investigation into the sale of federal government properties and no investigators have been called in to investigate this matter at Public Works and Government Services Canada.

And yet according to Reform Conservative MP Jacques Gourde, there is indeed an investigation taking place, though he refused to give further details. I doubt an MP would rat out his own party if there was nothing to rat out.

Conservatives finally confirm Public Works probe
Daniel Leblanc
Ottawa — Globe and Mail
November 27, 2009

Conservative MP Jacques Gourde apparently broke the law today as he finally confirmed that investigators are at work at Public Works Canada.

Federal officials had insisted all week that an unspecified law prevented them from either confirming or denying the existence of the investigation, first
revealed in The Globe and Mail.

In answer to a question from Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay today, Mr. Gourde ignored the directive and finally shone a bit of light on the matter.

As it stands, Public Works and Government Services Canada is aware of these investigations, but I cannot provide further comment,” Mr. Gourde said.

While Mr. Gourde did not provide details on the target of the investigation, his answer went further than previous comments from government officials.

“I can't even confirm or deny that there is an investigation, or even discuss under what law I'm not allowed to talk,” a government official told The Globe earlier this week.

During Question Period, Ms. Hall Findlay decried the mystery surrounding the investigation, which she said “relates to suspected irregularities in the government's selloff of federal properties.”

Back to: The Jacques Gourde Story: He Does Better at Pantomime

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Vancouver Island North Have a New Liberal Candidate to Challenge the Bumbling John Duncan

This past summer when the Forestry Union protested at the offices of John Duncan, he proved what kind of man he was by attacking them in the press. They had legitimate complaints, but like a typical Reformer, they were union members and therefore the enemy.

I read Mike Holland's resume, and I think he will make a great MP for Vancouver Island North.

A tireless worker for just causes, he represents what this government is sorely lacking. Compassionate and intelligence.

As a life-long resident of the North Island, Mike Holland has spent all his life working to improve and build the community he calls home. Whether it has been as a Courtenay city councilor, a volunteer, or as a husband and a father, Mike has dedicated himself to our community.

Mike has worked all his life on the North Island, working at Elk Falls and Western Mines out of high school. For 25 years he has practiced law in Comox and built a reputation as a champion for the community, volunteering his time, energy and legal skills to advance vital issues of community importance.

When charities across B.C., such as Glacier View Lodge, faced the threat of losing their assets without receiving any compensation, Mike fought the legislation in court for four years as a volunteer, and he won won the battle. He was described by the B.C. premier as "a David, who single handedly took on the Goliath of government."

Later, when the promise to add 5,000 long-term care beds in BC was in jeopardy, Mike took up the cause, working with the community to ensure the provincial government kept its promise. And in the end, over 200 long-term care beds were built in Vancouver Island North.

Mike has been recognized for his contributions with the Comox Health Award, the George Muir Award for Courage, and the Glacier View Lodge "Volunteer of the Year" award.

Mike is a Charter member of the Crisis Center, Past Director of Lillian Lefcoe Society (for adults with mental disabilities), a past member of the Regional and St. Joseph’s Hospital boards, Rotary Club, Kinsmen Club and the Sid Williams Theatre Policy Board. He has served on the Comox Valley Water and Sewer Board and the Comox Valley Recreation Committee.

Mike has lived in the riding since 1959 when the Canadian Air Force sent his family to Comox. He is married and has two daughters

More Candidates:

1. Good Luck Ken Beck Lee Running in the Byelection for Coquitlam, New West Minister, Port Moody

Stephen Harper Says to Hell With the Troops, I'm Going to the Hague

Further proof that Stephen Harper is not taking this seriously, and would prefer that our soldiers face criminal charges at the Hague, was in the pure nonsense he spouted today.

In pure George Bush fashion he is a accusing the Opposition of attacking our men and women in uniform, when not one of them did any such thing.

In fact they want a full inquiry, because if we don't, by international law, all those involved will face war crime charges at the Hague, including any soldiers who handed over detainees.

Stephen Harper deserted the troops when the first email arrived, and has been saving his own behind ever since.

Since he and his party care nothing for us or our soldiers, it's time to bring them home. They are now in more danger than ever because the Afghan people know what has been going on, and we can no longer claim to be there for humanitarian reasons. We have lost our moral authority, so the war is officially over for us.

If the Reformers had nothing to hide they would DEMAND an inquiry. Instead they're trying a cover up and smear campaign. Our troops deserve a leader who stands with them. Stephen Harper proved today that he is not a leader. He is a spineless coward.

Harper takes shot at opposition over torture allegations
NDP plans to hold a vote in House on the need for an inquiry
Joanna Smith Ottawa Bureau
November 29, 2009

PORT OF SPAIN–Prime Minister Stephen Harper took a partisan shot at his opposition critics while touring the HMCS Quebec in Trinidad-Tobago Sunday.

The Canadian ship and navy officers are helping with security for the Commonwealth summit. Harper, in brief comments to the Canadians, was addressing allegations that Canadian civilian and military leaders ignored warnings of a risk of torture in Afghan prisons.

"Let me just say this: living as we do, in a time when some in the political arena do not hesitate before throwing the most serious of allegations at our men and women in uniform, based on the most flimsy of evidence, remember that Canadians from coast to coast to coast are proud of you and stand behind you, and I am proud of you, and I stand beside you."
(If he was standing beside them he would allow an inquiry so they don't have to face a war crimes tribunal)

Liberals, the Bloc Québécois and the New Democrats are calling for an inquiry into allegations by Richard Colvin, a former Afghanistan-based diplomat and senior intelligence officer at Canada's embassy in Washington, that his superiors in Canada ignored his repeated warnings from May 2006 to spring 2007 that the detainees handed over by Canadian soldiers to Afghan authorities faced a substantial risk of torture at the hands of Afghans, not Canadians.

The NDP announced Sunday it will use its "opposition day" in the Commons on Tuesday to hold a vote on the need for an inquiry.

The Canadian military denies any knowledge of "credible" warnings of torture before May 2007, while top civilian bureaucrat David Mulroney admitted that there many kinds of warnings, but a lack of "hard facts" to act on prior to May 2007 when a new prisoner transfer deal was inked.

In recent days, Harper and his ministers have framed the controversy as an attack on the military by the opposition, as today's comments from the Prime Minister appeared to indicate.

Opposition politicians say that they are in fact standing up for Canadian soldiers in the face of incompetent or unclear handling of torture allegations by the Conservative government

My Joe Canadian Today is Dr. Kirsty Duncan for Winning the Knowledge Millennium Award

My Joe Canadian award today goes to Liberal MP Kirsty Duncan for winning the prestigious Knowledge Millennium Award. We've had four years where our government refers to academics as 'University types', and has a science minister who doesn't believe in science.

We need intelligence brought back to government. We need a Liberal majority if we hope to move this country forward.

Ms. Duncan makes me proud to be Canadian. And she's a woman. That will really get Harper's shorts in a twist.

So her name is Kirsty and ASHE IS CANADAIN!

Statement by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff on the awarding of the Knowledge Millennium Award to Dr. Kirsty Duncan, MP
November 26, 2009

OTTAWA – Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff made the following statement today regarding the Knowledge Millennium Award:

“Congratulations to my colleague, Dr. Kirsty Duncan, on winning the prestigious Knowledge Millennium Award.

“This award is presented annually to an individual who has made a significant mark on theme of the Global Knowledge Millennium summit. This year’s theme is emerging health threats – and Dr. Duncan has been recognized for her contribution to research on flu pandemics. A Nobel laureate herself, she will stand amongst six other Nobel laureates who previously won the award.

“As Liberal Public Health Critic and Member of Parliament for Etobicoke North, Kirsty’s knowledge of influenza pandemics has helped educate the Canadian public on the risks associated with this year’s H1N1 flu virus. As we have all seen in her tireless work, she is more than deserving of this award.

“Dr. Duncan has made Canada proud as she travels to India to receive the award, where she will also address conference attendees at the 7th Global Knowledge Millennium Conference.

“On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada and our Parliamentary caucus, I congratulate Dr. Kirsty Duncan on her distinguished work to protect the health of Canadians and people around the world.”

More Joe Canadian Award Winners:

1. My Joe Canadian Award Goes to Ria Hart from Barrie Ontario

2. My 'Joe Canadian' Award Today Goes to Parminder Singh

3. My 'Joe Canadian' Award Today Goes to Rick Hillier and the Project Hero program

4. My 'Joe Canadian' For Today is Justin Trudeau for Engaging Youth in Politics

5. Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez is My 'Joe Canadian' for Today

6. My 'Joe Canadian' Award Today Goes to Mark Holland and His Work on the Gun Registry

7. My Latest Joe Canadian Award Goes to Richard Colvin

So Why is an American Firm Building the Canadian Pavilion at the Olympics?

With many Canadians struggling and all businesses in need of a boost, why did the contract to build Canada's pavilion for the Olympics, go to a Chicago firm.

I assume the Reformers do know that Chicago is not in Canada, right?

Of course, Dean Del Mastro, whose not the brightest bulb on the tree anyway, justified using an American firm by saying "It will celebrate everything that Canada has to offer. everything from our heritage and our culture, from First Nations to settlers, everything that this country is all about." And a Canadian company couldn't handle this?

U.S. firm building Canada’s Olympic pavilion
Damian Inwood,
Canwest News Service
November 28, 2009

VANCOUVER -- Canada's $9.2-million, Olympic pavilion is being built by a U.S. firm from Chicago. And Joyce Murray, Liberal MP for Vancouver Quadra, is accusing the federal government of badly botching the contracting process by waiting too long to issue it.

"Think about it: these are Canada's Games, taking place in Canada, and the project is for Canada's pavilion and it's being built by an American firm," she said. "The timeline excluded a lot of Canadian firms that would have otherwise been eminently capable of doing this work. This is something that they've known they would be doing for four years."

The contract was awarded to Giltspur Exhibits, a Chicago-based company, for more than $9.2 million after a two-week request for proposals process on MERX, the federal government's tendering website ....

Colvin is Just Trying to do His Job. When Will the Government do Theirs?

There is a great op-ed piece in the Ottawa Citizen co-written by Amir Attaran, a professor in the faculties of law and medicine at the University of Ottawa and Gar Pardy, a retired Canadian diplomat. These two men come to the aid of Richard Colvin as he is being smeared by our government.

Colvin is just doing his job
Contrary to the whistle-blower hype, the embattled diplomat is merely carrying out -- with honour -- his duty to the Crown and people of Canada
By Amir Attaran and Gar Pardy, Citizen Special
November 28, 2009

Poor Richard Colvin. Swiftboated by Defence Minister Peter MacKay as "not credible" and a mouthpiece of the Taliban, now the Attorney General of Canada is on his back, threatening prosecution if he dares to answer a parliamentary committee's request to see documents he wrote about detainee abuse and torture in Afghanistan.

The character assassination and bullying are nonsense of course -- the same government that slandered Colvin also promoted him to an intelligence job with top-secret clearance in Canada's Washington embassy -- but if one can set aside the revulsion, what does the Colvin affair teach about the duties of public servants to tell the truth? As a law professor and retired diplomat (who once held Colvin's job in Washington), there are four lessons we think every civil servant in Ottawa should know.

One lesson is that the conventional wisdom -- that Colvin is a whistleblower, who is now being punished -- is an attractive Hollywood story, but a distant relative of the truth. Colvin was sent to Afghanistan with a job to do, which was to gather observations on political issues related to Canada's mission. His notes are the focus of everyone's interest not because he did his job poorly, but because he did it well. He also did well when, sensing imminent government interference because he was summoned as a witness before the Military Police Complaints Commission, he invoked a Treasury Board policy that entitles civil servants to an independent lawyer on request.

Nor did he transgress his job by accepting Parliament's invitation to testify last week, even if it infuriated the Harper government and sycophantic civil servants above him. For like all civil servants, Colvin owes a duty of loyalty to the Government of Canada -- including Parliament.
That explains why, for all their loathing of Colvin, Peter MacKay and other cabinet ministers mutter he won't be fired -- because he can't be. Since they can't fire, they bully; it's all they have.

The second lesson is that many, perhaps most, civil servants do not truly understand the duty of loyalty upon them. Ignorance suits the Harper government; it relishes control, and the uninformed err safely on the side of excess loyalty. Too much loyalty, however, means too little innovation or constructive criticism at best, or exploitation and job dissatisfaction at worst. It is better, for Canada and for civil servants themselves, to know truly where the limits of loyalty lie.

The Supreme Court of Canada wrote the final word on the duty of loyalty in 1985:

"The loyalty owed is to the Government of Canada, not the political party in power at any one time. A public servant need not vote for the governing party. Nor need he or she publicly espouse its policies. And indeed, in some circumstances a public servant may actively and publicly express opposition to the policies of a government. This would be appropriate if, for example, the Government were engaged in illegal acts, or if its policies jeopardized the life, health or safety of the public servant or others, or if the public servant's criticism had no impact on his or her ability to perform effectively the duties of a public servant or on the public perception of that ability."

Note what the Supreme Court's analysis does not require. Civil servants owe loyalty to the government of Canada -- the Crown, if you will -- but not the governing party. In public, no civil servant need agree with party policy. Civil servants can dissent from Government of Canada policy in public, within limits, such as when the government is "engaged in illegal acts, or if its policies jeopardized the life, health or safety of ... others."

Seen that way -- the legally correct way, because the Supreme Court says so -- Colvin did not violate his duty of loyalty to the government of Canada. Complicity in torture is highly illegal -- a war crime. Government policies or mistakes that lead to torture are ruinous to life, health or safety. Colvin was not just legally correct, but supremely ethical, to disclose about torture and the detainee transfer policy, no matter what political aftershocks. That he did so with dignity in Parliament, after notifying his superiors, gives him additional protections under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.

The third lesson is that dissent has to be done carefully. Going directly to the media with a counterpunch or leaked document is not as safe as it should be. That is not because journalists are dishonourable -- only the rarest scoundrels don't protect sources -- but because the lower courts seem resistant to the Supreme Court's direction when disclosures are journalistic. The lower courts are probably wrong, but their error is reality.

The best way for would-be disclosers is to see a lawyer. This is because confidential information and instructions given to a lawyer are protected by the iron rule of solicitor-client privilege. The information normally cannot be forcibly discovered, not even by police, and is inadmissible in court. Whether the information is unprotected or top secret is immaterial, and the privilege exists to foster free, frank discussion with the lawyer.

Thus Colvin disclosed to his lawyer, and his lawyer cleverly arranged disclosing to the world. The lawyer proved her worth by picking a path through hazards both real and imagined -- for a favourite government tactic is to intimidate civil servants into secrecy without actually having a legal basis. Section 38 of the Canada Evidence Act, which the Attorney General overuses to gag persons who possess national security or international relations information, is one such questionable threat, because the law does not provide any criminal penalty for ignoring section 38 secrecy per se. The government also exaggerates the Security of Information Act: much of that law was struck down as unconstitutional by the courts three years ago.

In short, the tigers the government uses to enforce secrecy often are toothless, or can be safely defanged by a lawyer, particularly if he or she is an expert in public law.

Technology also makes safe disclosure possible without a lawyer. Wikileaks ( is an ultra-secure, totally anonymous website that accepts documents from around the world. No source has ever been exposed through Wikileaks, though it has been used over a million times. Think of it as the web's brown envelope, which not even China's notorious Internet spies have cracked.

The final lesson is of course one of ethics. When Peter MacKay taunted and laughed at reporters questioning how retired general Rick Hillier saw secret documents ahead of testifying in Parliament -- the very same secret documents that the government has threatened Colvin not to let Parliament see -- he demonstrated reprehensible ethics (search for it at

Making ethical disclosure means never personally sinking to his level; it means lifting the full weight of Canada's democracy above it. The Canadians who lost their lives in Afghanistan, and the many more maimed, sacrificed in defence of ideals -- including transparency and parliamentary democracy. Civil servants let them down when assisting a government that, confronted with its responsibilities under Canadian and international law such as to avoid torture, ducks, bobs, weaves and shoots messengers in its tortuous path.

They even let down their fellow civil servants, like Colvin. Of the many bureaucrats he copied on his reports, not one has disclosed those documents, so Canadians might independently decide whether Colvin or the government is the more truthful. They have left him undefended -- even when as just explained, disclosure can be lawful, safe and ethical. It is a course, frankly, chosen of fear and ignorance.

We recommend this course: Civil servants and diplomats are privileged to be some of the best educated Canadians, and have an ethical responsibility to help other Canadians understand government's complexity. Techniques exist to disclose safely, without becoming an unemployed martyr. Our government's involvement in Afghanistan is tremendously complex, and the civic interest depends on Canadians understanding it, even -- perhaps especially -- when the truth is hard, such as torture. The same is true for other complex subjects ringed in secrecy when the Supreme Court's criteria come into play: the H1N1 flu, for example.

If civil servants comport themselves with such honour in Canada, as is more often done in America (think Daniel Ellsberg) or Britain (think Katharine Gun), Canada will be a stronger country. Never doubt it.

(Amir Attaran is professor in the faculties of law and medicine at the University of Ottawa. Gar Pardy is a retired Canadian diplomat.)

Monte Solberg Should Have Kept Quiet. He Only Made Keddy's Comments Worse.

Reform Conservative MP Gerald Keddy got into trouble this week after referring to the unemployed and homeless as "no-good bastards". He made a weak apology and the whole thing, like everything else, was being swept under the rug.

But then former Reform MP Monte Solberg, who now fancies himself a journalist, had to weigh in on the subject. He used to be the (un) employment minister and believes himself to be an expert.

However, all he managed to do was remind us of the ideology of the Reformers, who believe that if you are down on your luck, it's your own fault. And he even insulted the people of Prince Edward Island in the process: “When I was minister of immigration I was stunned by the fact that even though the unemployment rate was over 10 per cent in Prince Edward Island, fish plants there had to bring in Russian workers because they couldn't find local workers,” he writes. “It seems EI paid enough that, in a very narrow sense, it was completely rational that unemployed Islanders would refuse to do those very tough and dirty jobs.”

But as one reader noted: "It's not that EI pays too much. It's that the work pays bad, is of short duration, and not where most of the unemployed are. Would you move your family from their home of xxx years just to work a job hours away for crap pay for three months? And, um, RECESSION! This just shows why people like Solberg can't handle these portfolios. Too wrapped up in ideology and ignorance."

It's often not that they won't do the job, but can't afford to do the job. Maybe that's what the government should be looking at. If there are positions a distance from where unemployment has hit the hardest, then subsidize the workers. Issue funds to pay for their gas and top up the salary to a livable wage. It's not feasible for people with families to travel a great distance for minimum wage.

Solberg only managed to make a bad situation worse.

Solberg defends Keddy’s 'no-good bastards' remark
Bill Curry
Novemebr 27, 2009

Two years ago, Monte Solberg was the Conservative minister in charge of Canada’s unemployment programs. Now, he’s an occasional columnist for the Sun Media newspaper chain.

Today he comes to the defense of his former colleague, Gerald Keddy, who apologized this week for referring to people in Halifax who choose the streets over available jobs as “no-good bastards.”

The Halifax Chronicle Herald’s Ottawa-based reporter, Stephen Maher, who wrote the original story, now reports that NDP leader Jack Layton is visiting Halifax homeless shelters today in a bid to capitalize on the controversy.

But Mr. Solberg said Mr. Keddy is being treated unfairly. He said the media interviewed disabled street people for their reaction, when Mr. Keddy’s comments were directed at people who are able to work.

“When I was minister of immigration I was stunned by the fact that even though the unemployment rate was over 10 per cent in Prince Edward Island, fish plants there had to bring in Russian workers because they couldn't find local workers,” he writes. “It seems EI paid enough that, in a very narrow sense, it was completely rational that unemployed Islanders would refuse to do those very tough and dirty jobs.”

Mr. Solberg writes that the EI program is so poorly designed that it discourages people from working. (what a horrible thing to say)

“Keddy may have rudely misrepresented the parentage of those who refuse to take jobs on Christmas tree farms, but if you believe it is wrong to cause unemployment and to take money you're not entitled to then Gerald Keddy is absolutely justified in his anger.”

Back to - The Gerald Keddy Story: An Insensitive Moron

Canada Can no Longer be Champions of Human Rights if we are Seen as Violators

The longer this government tries to cover up and control the media concerning the torture of Afghan Detainees, the harder it will be for us to selvage our reputation. There are just so many elements to this story, and it just keeps getting uglier.

We learned just recently that the Globe and Mail were apparently given all the emails sent by Richard Colvin and columnist Christie Blatchford wrote a horrible column, suggesting that Mr. Colvin has some explaining to do.

Well first off she doesn't have them all, and why in the hell is the Globe getting them when our own Parliamentarians are being left out of the loop? And why did the generals get to see all documentation before they testified?

Weekend reading
by Aaron Wherry
November 28, 2009

The Canadian Press tries to make sense of Peter MacKay’s admission that the government had concerns about the treatment of Afghan detainees in early 2006. The Star tries to figure out why retired generals would have access to secret documents and learns that all three generals who testified were briefed by government lawyers beforehand. And the National Post profiles Richard Colvin.

The Globe’s Christie Blatchford reports on what she says is a complete, if heavily redacted, set of Richard Colvin’s memos. One potential problem: Blatchford says Colvin sent three memos in 2006. His affidavit describes six.


Afghan scandal sullies Canada
Our leaders were warned that not jailing prisoners ourselves would lead to torture
November 29, 2009

Canada has long been admired around the globe as a nation of high ethics, human rights and respect for law.

But Canada's sterling reputation is being seriously degraded by the spreading scandal over involvement in torture in the increasingly sordid Afghan conflict.

All Canadians should thank the courageous diplomat, Richard Colvin, who did the right and honourable thing by exposing the government's very dirty Afghan secret.

Emulating the Bush administration, senior government officials and military officers in Ottawa closed ranks, stoutly denying any Afghan scumbags were tortured. They are either amazingly ignorant or deceiving the nation.

To understand the roots of this ugly business, we must go back to the 1980s.

The Soviet intelligence service, KGB, created the Afghan Communist secret police agency, known as KhAD. Its mission was to liquidate or terrorize all suspected or real anti-Communists and opponents of Soviet occupation.

Most prisoners arrested by KhAD were subjected to frightful, sadistic torture, particularly at Kabul's dreaded Pul-e-Charkhi Prison. Prisoners were buried alive by bulldozers. Others were electrocuted, beaten to death, castrated and blinded.

Some 27,000-30,000 political prisoners were killed at Pul-e-Charkhi by KhAD. Torture centres also existed in all other major cities.

The Soviets (who withdrew in 1989) and Afghan Communists killed more than one million Afghans.

By 1995, the anti-Communist Pashtun religious movement, the Taliban, backed by Pakistan and the Gulf Arabs, had driven the Communists from most of Afghanistan. The Afghan Communists retreated to the far north, and became part of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. Ethnic Tajiks and Uzbeks, many of whom collaborated with the Soviet occupation in the 1980s, dominated the Alliance.

The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001, using Russian-armed Northern Alliance soldiers to overthrow the Taliban, and install Hamid Karzai as figurehead president. Real power in Kabul was held by the Northern Alliance.

Two of its strongest figures were pro-Soviet Uzbek warlord Rashid Dostum, and Tajik general Mohammed Fahim -- KhAD's former chief. Both have close links to Russian intelligence.

After 30 years of civil war, the minority Tajiks and Uzbeks had become blood enemies of the Pashtuns, Afghanistan's majority. Most Taliban are Pashtun.

Fahim and the Tajik-Uzbek-Communist Northern Alliance took over the revived secret police, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and the prison system. In short order, the KhAD's old torturers were back in business.

Pashtun prisoners captured by Canadian forces were routinely handed to the NDS-KhAD. There were many reports of brutal torture and executions.

Today, Fahim is officially Karzai's No. 2. But as commander of the Tajik-Uzbek militia and secret police, Fahim is the Afghan regime's most powerful figure and strongman.

Every child in Afghanistan knows this. But somehow, Canada's see-no-evil/hear-no-evil generals and civilian officials claim they were sweetly unaware Afghan prisons were being run as torture centres by the revitalized Communists.

Amnesty International and the Red Cross warned Ottawa that prisoners Canada was handing to the Afghan government faced torture -- and worse. The U.S. State Department repeatedly warned of widespread torture in Afghan prisons, including "pulling out fingernails, burnings ... beatings ... sexual humiliations, sodomy" and rape of children. So did the UN.

Canada should have run its own prisoner camps under the proper rules of war. Yet Canada kept handing prisoners to the Afghan NDS.

Ottawa's disgraceful fig leaf: A memo from Afghan officials promising not to torture captives.

Now we see military men and high government officials trying to bluff away what seem to be some serious misdeeds
. A disgusting spectacle that deeply shames and sullies this good nation.

As Shakespeare wrote: "Who steals my purse steals trash ... But he that filches from me my good name Robs me of that which not enriches him, And makes me poor indeed."

NAFTA and the Selling of Canada. We Got a Raw Deal

The above is Part V of Mel Hurtig's documentary on YouTube; Who Killed Canada.

In part one he gives an introduction to the infrastructure of the extreme right-wing movement; beginning with the hi-jacking of our media, to the many so-called think-tanks, that provide the 'facts' to that hi-jacked media.

In part two he discusses the reduction in federal revenue that weakened spending in important areas. We learned that we are 25th of the 30 OECD countries, in terms of spending on social programs.

Part three deals with our increasing poverty, that coincides with the increase in corporate profits. And though these 'free market' gurus try to convince us that we should throw in our lot with corporate Canada, they have done nothing to advance Canadian interests or protect this country's citizens.

Part four discussed the fact that although neo-cons would like us to believe that we are overtaxed, Canada is actually 21st of 30 nations in terms of the amount of taxes we pay. It also discusses the fact that our history has been rewritten to erase the important role the First Nations played.

Part five deals with NAFTA and what a horrible thing this was and is for Canada. We are basically under the control of the United States. We got very little from the deal, and in fact 11,043 Canadian companies have now become foreign controlled.

The SPP made matters worse, since it has called for even deeper integration with the US. We can no longer refuse to join the Americans in combat, as we did with Iraq, but must now go where they tell us to go; and don't think our soldiers won't be given the most dangerous assignments.

Mr. Hurtig discusses how hard Liberal leader John Turner fought against NAFTA, calling the deal the 'Sale of Canada'. We now see he was right. From the New York Times:

John N. Turner; Canada's Liberals Battle the Trade Pact
New York Times
August 7, 1988

CANADA'S opposition Liberal Party announced last month that its majority in the upper house of Parliament would block the legislation necessary to implement a free-trade agreement that Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, a Progressive Conservative, had negotiated with the United States.

In a countermove to try to salvage his treaty, Mr. Mulroney is considered virtually certain to call an early election, possibly for October, and the treaty is likely to be the dominant issue in the campaign.

The trade bill would eliminate all tariffs over a 10-year period and lower barriers to investment and other curbs on trade in agriculture, energy and services. Legislation is moving through the United States Congress, which is expected to pass it before it adjourns for the November elections.

One of the loudest critics of the free-trade agreement is John N. Turner, the Liberal Party leader who served as Prime Minister in 1984 when he succeeded Pierre Elliott Trudeau as head of the party and then lost an election to Mr. Mulroney's Conservatives less than three months later. Mr. Turner explained why he is against the agreement in an interview last week with John F. Burns, The New York Times's correspondent in Toronto. Here are excerpts.

Question. You have said that if your party is elected and you once again become Prime Minister, you will ''rip up'' the trade agreement with the United States. Why?

Answer. I've said to the Prime Minister that unless there is a general election there will be no trade bill. In other words, we will not allow it to be finalized and implemented until the Canadian people have had an opportunity to decide. On an issue of this importance and magnitude it's important to be up front with the Americans, saying, ''You understand democracy, this is a fundamental change of direction politically and economically for Canada . . . and we believe the Canadian people ought to have an opportunity to review it.'' Concessions and Controls

Q. What is there about this agreement that you find so threatening to Canada's sovereignty?

A. Well, it's more than a trade agreement, it's the Sale of Canada Act. . . . We have lowered barriers on the Canadian-American border so that 80 percent of the dollar value of the goods moving across that border go free of duty, free of tariff. So what we were really talking about was the remaining 20 percent. And for that remaining 20 percent, Mr. Mulroney gave away the store. Had this been just a question of lowering tariff barriers, trade barriers, we would have little quarrel.

But we conceded our energy, and have become part of a continental energy reservoir with the United States. We have conceded our ability to control investment in Canadian business. We have conceded control over our capital markets. We have weakened our ability to market in an orderly fashion our agriculture.

By allowing ourselves to be caught in a five- to seven-year negotiation for a definition of subsidies, under the thrust of what the agreement calls ''market forces'' or ''harmonization,'' we have put in potential jeopardy our cultural programs and our social programs and our ability to assist our less developed regions.

And the sole purpose of a bilateral, as opposed to a multilateral or international trade negotiation, was to somehow gain secure access to the American market, as opposed to access that could be unilaterally impeded by trade remedy laws and countervailing and anti-dumping actions. To get secure access would mean a specific exemption from those laws, and we did not get it.

Q. By 1986, 77.8 percent of Canada's exports went to the United States, with a total value of $93.8 billion. With this kind of dependence on the American market, does Canada have a viable alternative to the economic integration with the United States that the free-trade agreement seems to foreshadow?

A. I believe we do. And I believe that when we form a government we will continue to attempt to enhance our possibilities in the American market. . . . But the word integration is one that implies to me the gradual surrendering of sovereignty.

Canada has never needed that type of integration. Integration implies coordination of fiscal and monetary policy, and increasing constraints on our ability to take decisions that might affect what the Americans call the ''level playing field.'' Blacks, Whites and Grays

Q. Proponents of the trade agreement tend to stress all the things that Canada and the United States have in common. Among opponents, it is the differences that are emphasized. How do you see these differences?

A. Historically, we were not born of revolution, we didn't have that spectacular beginning. . . . And I think that was reflected in the Declaration of Independence, which speaks of ''life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.'' In the Canadian Constitution, the phrase is ''peace, order and good government.'' It reflects quite a difference psychologically and historically.

And let's go on. America is a black and white country. And I don't mean racially, but in attitudes. You know the sort of thing: ''My country right or wrong,'' ''You're either with us or against us,'' ''I want to know where you stand.''

We are a grayer country. We are instinctively a consensus people. And we have a less highly centralized government. . . . We have appreciated the virtues of a mixed economy - crown corporations, a national railway, a national airline. Put all these factors into the mix and we are different. . . .

Q. You've said that anti-Americanism won't sell in Canada. But isn't there a danger, when you speak of the ''Sale of Canada Act'' and of Canada's becoming the ''51st state,'' that the Liberal Party will become identified with anti-American attitudes?

A. I would hope that the rhetoric of an election campaign will not be interpreted on our side as being anti-American. There will obviously be a strong pro-Canadian flavor, there may be even what might be interpreted as a Canada-first flavor, but it will not be hostile to the United States. And there may be words said in the course of an election campaign that are open to misinterpretation. I hope not. But the United States is now entering an election campaign, and I imagine that the vocabulary and rhetoric used there will be very tough, too. But that's the democratic system. . . .

Q. If you succeed in killing the agreement, how would you manage the fallout in Washington?

A. If I am successful in persuading Canadians that it's not just a matter of a trade agreement, it's a matter of political and economic and cultural independence, of our uniqueness as a nation, and of our way of life, I feel that that will be accepted by Americans. If there's an election first, and the agreement is rejected, it will have been by the democratic process. In American corporate terms, we're taking this one to the shareholders. Americans understand that.

The Council of Canadians would like us to tear up NAFTA and seek a new deal for the betterment of Canadians. We won't see that under Harper. In fact he is hoping to give them anything we may have left.

Tell your MP that Canada needs a better trade policy

Governments and big business have spent the last 15 years telling us that free trade is good for us. But Canadians know better. Despite promises that free trade deals would make Canadian companies more competitive, Canada has consistently lagged behind the United States in both productivity and competitiveness since the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in 1989 and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1995. The new jobs created in the free trade era have been largely part-time and poorly paid. Social inequality in our country has grown as a direct result of workers’ inability to earn a decent wage to support their families.

In the aftermath of the softwood lumber decision, even former supporters of free trade are arguing that NAFTA isn’t working for Canada. Some have called for forceful retaliation against the U.S., while others have suggested that we should get out of NAFTA – before it’s too late. The Council of Canadians believes that Canada needs a new trade policy – one that favours democracy, public services and the environment, over the “rights” of corporations to make a profit.


NAFTA undermines democracy. Foreign corporations use Chapter 11 to challenge environmental laws, municipal land-use controls, water protection measures, the activities of Canada Post, and even the decisions of judges and juries. While no Canadian citizen or corporation could bring forward these challenges, NAFTA grants corporations of member countries the right to challenge any federal rule or law that they perceive as a barrier to their ability to make a profit. The result is millions of tax dollars being spent to either fight or settle with these corporations.

NAFTA threatens health care and other public services. The exemption for health care under NAFTA, which has largely kept U.S. for-profit health corporations out of Canada, applies only to a fully publicly funded system. Once privatized, the system must give “national treatment” rights to American private hospital chains. The NAFTA exemption only applies to medicare as it stood in 1989, and doesn’t provide protection for a possible expansion of medicare into new areas like homecare and pharmacare.

NAFTA strips Canada of control over our energy resources. Canada now produces about 40 per cent more oil than it consumes, but has to rely heavily on imported oil from offshore. Thanks to NAFTA, Canada now exports 70 percent of the oil and 61 per cent of the natural gas we produce each year to the United States. NAFTA prevents us from selling our energy resources to Canadians at rates lower than we sell them in the U.S. And because of NAFTA’s proportional sharing clause, we can’t ever cut back on the amount of energy we produce and sell to the United States, even in times when our country runs short.

NAFTA could put our water up for sale. Canadian water is defined as a “service” and an “investment” under NAFTA. The agreement’s so-called water exemption is inadequate. After British Columbia banned bulk exports of lake and river water, the California-based Sun Belt Corporation launched a Chapter 11 challenge, seeking $10 billion in damages. The case is still outstanding, and has profound implications for the future of Canada’s water.

Current trade policies serve as a platform for deeper integration with the U.S. Our business and political elites are pushing for deeper ties with the U.S., and would see Canada privatize health care, join common security projects, give up sovereignty over our natural resources and harmonize our food and health policies with lower U.S. standards.

NAFTA is a bad deal for Canada, working families, our environment and our sovereignty. We want a trade policy that protects our democracy, social services, natural resources and way of life.