Monday, April 30, 2007

Prisoner Abuse In Afghanistan

Geez, can our Conservative friends in Ottawa shut up for a day or two? At the rate they're going, I'm going to have carpal tunnel syndrome from pointing out their incredible errors!

The latest comes to us via Stockwell Day, Minister for Public Safety. In the ongoing travesty around the handling of detainees in Afghanistan, we find our government's very own "Curly" can't even get the story straight with either Harper (Larry) or O'Connor (Moe) on the Afghanistan detainees issue.

This story has changed and flipped so many times, I'm getting dizzy from watching the Tory spin machine tripping over itself as it whirls about. One day the story is that the whole thing is balderdash; the next we have someone else telling us that they have 'assurances' from the Afghans; the day after that, someone else tells us of a "new agreement"; and now we have Day admitting that just maybe there have been allegations made.

When three senior members of Cabinet can't get the story straight between them, one can only surmise that one or more of them is lying through his teeth. Given the ongoing ineptitude that this government has shown, I'm going to guess that all three are full of it, and worse, they are so utterly incompetent that they can't even get their lies straight.

...and just what is really going on in Afghanistan is anybody's guess, since it's becoming increasingly clear that the government is deceiving the public on more and more fronts.

Canada Broadcast Standards Council Ruling Today

Via an anonymous commenter back here, we learn that CBSC has ruled on a complaint regarding Chandler's radio show.

While the ruling is not entirely critical of the radio show's hosts, it concludes with the following:

Not only has Freedom Radio stacked the odds against the complainant by directing virtually the entire half hour against the complainant, it has boasted that it will not only sue him and take the matter to the Supreme Court if necessary (which is their right to do), but it will not pay any fines that may be levied (in apparent disregard of the anticipated order of the duly constituted judicial authorities). It is rather arrogant to state baldly that “We won’t pay those.” The Panel considers the judicial assertions unfair and an example of electronic bullying, which is precisely the opposite of what is anticipated by the requirement of fairness in Clause 7.

* emphasis added

Which is more or less consistent for the approach of the individuals named in the ruling, as they seem to believe that the solution to everything they can't shout down is a lawsuit...a rather sad statement, IMO.

*H/T: "Anonymous" - thank you for being so vigilant watching these issues when I've been somewhat busy and less than fully attentive to them.

Dear Peter: Wrong!

Lord High Drip Mackay is at it again, trying to rescue the Celil portfolio from the crapper where they sent it by dropping the ball entirely last year when Celil was first arrested.

I'm sure that the Chinese mostly made polite noises at Mr. Mackay and are going to quietly go on ignoring him. ...And well they should - along with his leash bearer, our government's stance and attitude towards China has been deplorable.

Canada's Gnu Government - disgracing Canada on the world stage one sordid event after another.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Police ARE NOT Lobby Groups

Prime Minister Harper does not get it. Period.

At a speech last week, Harper called upon police to lobby our politicians to get his "tough on crime" bills pushed through.

This scares the hell out of me on several different levels. First, is the fact that the vast majority of this legislation is not only illegal, but undermines fundamental principles of law in Canada.

For Harper to turn around and call upon Police forces to act as lobbyists on behalf of already illegal legislation is just plain wrong. Worse, it sets a precedent that I consider extremely dangerous indeed. The police exist to enforce the law, not write it.

Additionally, turning them into politically driven organizations creates a very worrisome spectre of the Police forces in the country "lobbying" using the kind of persuasion tactics that used to be reserved for the likes of the KGB.

An armed enforcement agency should never be encouraged to act as a political lobby.

Of course, coming from a Prime Minister who is actively trying to stack the judicial bench, and reproductive technology overview panels with conservative hacks, his demand that the police "lobby" for illegal legislation shouldn't come as any surprise.

As the Globe and Mail points out Harper's statistics are just a wee bit suspect themselves. Coming from a party that has lied about itself and its motives from the get-go, it's not surprising.

... an aside (sort of) - take a look at this article about what BushCo & the Rethuglicans have been doing to America, and ask yourself how much Harper's policies and actions mirror BushCo...

Harper The Micromanager: The Cracks Start To Show

I've said for a long time that Harper is a micromanager, and that's very bad news for both his party and Canada.

Well, as is inevitable, some Conservatives are starting to get it.

“When you take everything on on your own, how can you possibly – no matter how brilliant you may be – know the sensitivities of a file?” a senior Tory asked. “You're bound to make mistakes when you don't have the day-to-day, hour-to-hour, second-to-second knowledge.”

All I can say here is "well duh"! But then again, I've known that for a long time - from rather personal experience. Harper finds himself in the midst of a leadership pressure cooker, and his style will simply degrade over the coming months as the issues he cannot manage outweigh the issues that he is trying to manage.

Capturing the whole picture quite nicely, the Globe and Mail quotes from The Strategic Counsel:

“It the old smartest guy in the room syndrome,” said Mr. Gregg, chair of The Strategic Counsel. “He handles all the issues because he believes he's better at it and he may be right 90 per cent of the time — but the 10 per cent when he isn't, he ends up wearing it.”

Basically, at this point in time, we (Canadians) have three paths open to us:

1) Harper wakes up and backs off. This is highly unlikely, because the micromanager is often so convinced of their own convictions and the "rightness" of their actions that they won't consider options. One might argue that allowing Baird to unveil the CPoC environment policy is a sign of this happening, but Harper doesn't believe the environment is important, so he's willing to let a minion run with it as long as they don't become a liability.

2) Harper continues to mire Canada and her government in the morass of micromanaged stupidity where his priorities get the stage, and the real priorities get sidelined to the detriment of the nation. (Harper's already doing quite a bit of damage to Canada - our reputation on the world stage is rapidly turning into that of "Bush's Toadie", and a country who doesn't stand behind its commitments.

3) The opposition wakes up, brings this turd of a government down, and we vote in something else. (Believe me, anything is going to be better for Canada as long as it isn't run by a micromanager)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Baird's Smoking ...

I'm pretty sure it must be "B.C. Bud", because once again, the Conservatives have unveiled a "do-nothing" policy on climate.

Perhaps most telling about this "policy" statement is this:

The federal plan requires all cars and light trucks built after 2011 to meet new fuel-efficiency standards, which have not yet been set. Eventually vehicles like motorcycles, snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles will be regulated too.

The government also wants to create and improve emissions standards for items like dishwashers, dehumidifiers, hot tubs and gas-fired furnaces.

As if to demonstrate the typical non-sequitur of Conservative government policy, we find Baird claiming:

Environment Minister John Baird said despite the inclusion of consumer goods in the plan, it will not take a financial toll on the average Canadian.

"That average middle-class family in Quebec, in British Columbia, in Ontario or out east shouldn't be asked to kick in support to help a polluter," Baird told CBC News after he announced his plan in Toronto.

He's either deluded, stupid or has a diminished understanding of the vaunted market economy that his party has always worshipped. If industry has to change its costs to reduce its emissions, or produce more efficient vehicles, the purchaser is always going to find the costs passed down to them. This is not advanced calculus, it's basic free enterprise economics.

You know it's bad when your own pet news outlet is slamming you...

At This Burn Rate...

Harper's going to run out of cabinet material, and will have only added to the CO2 in the atmosphere in the process.

So far, Harper's fired Rona Ambrose, demoted Toews and is well on his way to having to give a significant cabinet post to one of his prize winning wingnuts - just to keep his cabinet filled. Now O'Connor's an endangered species, and I wouldn't say Strahl is exactly good for Harper's cabinet either.

And, just for giggles, I point you to Cerberus who describes how the hypocrites in the CPoC are cooking up their own little cookie jar fund a la the now infamous Sponsorship Program...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Mandatory Reading

This is making the rounds in the blogosphere. It's the rational, intelligent side of the abortion debate. It's raw, unsettling and amazingly coherent - and underscores why we cannot blindly outlaw abortion, or any other medical treatment without incredibly clear reasons.

h/t: Feministe

In a few short weeks

The voter is a fickle creature. In a matter of a few very short weeks, the Conservatives have gone from hovering near 40% in the polls, to 30% this week, a mere 1% ahead of Dion.

Perhaps voters are starting to wake up and smell the turds that Harper's leaving everywhere - from Afghanistan to China, on the environment, the economy and his real agenda.

And Now For Something Completely Different

Astronomers think they have found an earth-like planet.

It's only 20 light years away from earth - which in celestial terms is "just down the block" from us.

Of course, given current technology, we'd be talking about generation ships to get people there sometime in the next couple of centuries.

John "Smoke & Mirrors" Baird

The dimwits in Ottawa have struck again. Yesterday's leaked speech notes for John Baird turns out to reveal yet another "postpone doing anything as long as possible" strategy:

The plan, entitled Turning the Corner, says that by 2020, the government hopes it will have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 150 million tonnes, or 20 per cent of current emissions.

The government will mandate strict targets for industry to reduce greenhouse gases, Baird says in his speech.

But to meet those targets, he adds, firms will be able to:

* Make in-house reductions.
* Take advantage of domestic emissions trading.
* Purchase "offsets."
* Use the Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol.
* Invest in a technology fund.

The government says it will also impose stringent targets on industry to cut air pollution in half by 2015, the speech says.

Uh huh. So, we have, once again, a Conservative government setting targets over a decade into the future, and now they are falling back to mechanisms described in the Kyoto protocol itself - you know, the one they keep saying would be "economically devastating" to Canada.

I'm not so deluded as to believe that changes are going to happen overnight. But as has been typical of this government from the get-go on the Environment portfolio, we find once again that the CPoC is trying to deflect attention away from a series of 'do nothing' targets that they think they can safely ignore - likely until they are well and gone from office.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

How Many Times ...

Do we have to beat the religious nutbar crowd over the head with the fact that correlation does not equal causation???

Beating on the drum of "The Virginia Tech massacre was all the fault of liberal society", we find Lifesite bleating that Cho hired an escort service before he went on his rampage.

If only he couldn't have found that hooker, he wouldn't have gotten all frustrated with himself and killed a bunch of other students ... really!

Cho’s request for “escort services” and frustrated attempt at a sexual encounter combined with a pornographic addiction show how his mind was dangerously overloaded with sexual fantasies fueling his insane rage, frustration, and lack of self-worth.

Ummm...possible, but since Cho's dead, I'd suggest that it's purely conjecture. I'm sure that Cho's self-worth was pretty low - but I'd be very careful about inferring why it was.

I'd guess that hiring a prostitute (escort/whatever name you want to use) was likely more akin to what a suicidal person would do - go do "one last big thing", and then end it all. It's not uncommon - a former colleague of mine did that a few years ago - went on a trip abroad, and a short while after his return, he killed himself.

Cho was disturbed - of that there can be little question. To claim that we "know" why or how he got to the point where killing others seemed like a worthwhile thing to do is hubris at best, speculative and bad science at worst. Was it schoolyard bullying? Was it frustration over language barriers? Was Cho just suicidal from the start, and he decided to "go out with a splash"? Hard to say. It's just as easy to blame "gun culture" or rap music for what happened - but neither can be substantiated.

This ongoing attempt by the religious to point the finger of blame at "liberal" or "atheist" society is offensive to say the least.

Conservative Government "Communications"

When Harper's Conservatives screw up, they do so monumentally...and then they compound the situation.

Tory emissions plan leaked to Liberals (we'll ignore the slightly Freudian undertones of that headline...)

It seems that some genius in the CPoC government offices dialed the wrong fax number, and delivered their fax straight into the Opposition's hands:

McGuinty said the speech was given to him after arriving on the Opposition lobby fax around 4:30 p.m. EDT. It was simply titled, "Remarks regulatory framework, Environment Minister John Baird, PC, MP."

A page handed him the remarks while he was in the House. The speech, dated April 25, did not have any stamp indicating the contents were secret or confidential.

Quickly thereafter a second fax addressed "To whom it may concern."

It contained a blunt warning: "You are in possession of confidential government information that was faxed to you in error in the last hour. You are asked to disregard its contents. Any sharing, reproduction or distribution of this material or its contents is strictly prohibited. The premature release of this information could constitute an offence under applicable securities or other legislation."

In typical Conservative fashion, the response is an attempt to strongarm people instead of admitting that they screwed up and dealing with the consequences honestly.

How accountable.

He's Baaack!

Remember Darrel Reid, hired last fall to play Chief of Staff to collapsing environment minister Rona Ambrose?

Well, via The Galloping Beaver, we learn that he's weaseled his way into Harper's PMO recently.

I've argued for quite a while that the religious wingnut faction in the CPoC holds the internal "balance of power", and this only serves to underscore my opinion. Reid's connections to Dobson from the states, and goons in Canada like McVety, should make all Canadians worry.

That Harper has hired him again shows either a lack of judgement on Harper's part, or it tells us about his real agenda. (I'd put bets on the latter - but that's just my opinion)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Shorter Fundies: Have Sex, Get Cancer ... you deserve it

I simply cannot believe this piece of narrow-minded, asinine drivel.

Apparently, vaccinating young girls and women against HPV (a virus known to be causally related to cervical cancers) is somehow "giving them a license" to be "morally loose".

Beyond the sheer stupidity of the reasoning, I cannot believe that anyone would wish cancer upon someone else because they are "morally deficient" in the other person's view. I'm sorry - I've seen too many people die slow, painful deaths because of cancer, and none of them deserved it as people. (Does anyone deserve that kind of death?)

If the "right-to-life" crowd is so mean spirited as to wish our daughters to experience the trauma of cancer, then they are no more about life than the execution chamber in Texas.

Conservatives "Nurturing" Foreign Policy?

When I hear Peter MacKay talking about Nurturing Relations with China, I can only imagine that Beijing has finally made it abundantly clear that they don't care what Canada has to say.

Of course, we don't have to look too far into the past to see why things are off the rails where China's concerned.

Just to remind everybody, as a direct result of Canada's gnu Government dropping the ball last year, Mr. Celil has just been sentenced to life in Chinese Prison. I suspect Celil's sentence, as well as the denial of consular access on the part of the Chinese is closely related to the Harper "tough guy" stance, and Harper's antics at APEC and since have hardly been "helpful".

Canada's gnu Government ... ham fisted diplomacy at its finest...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Abbreviated Stelmach Budget Analysis:

Last week, Lyle Oberg delivered the first budget in Alberta under Ed Stelmach's premiership.

Much like my criticism of Ralph - both during his rabid "cut it all, damn the torpedoes" years and more recent budgets, I find myself asking:

So where's da plan?!?

There's a tacit admission in a $30+ billion dollar spending spree that Ralph spent the last 15 years screwing Albertans over.

"But we have no debt!" F.O.R.K.s (Friends of Ralph Klein) will claim. And they are correct in a very limited way. Instead, we have a debt of infrastructure and services. In his blind rush to pay off Alberta's fiscal debt, Ralph forgot that things like schools and roads need to be repaired from time to time. Now, some are so badly damaged that they must be replaced outright at many times the cost of incremental repairs, and much greater disruption. Calgary is arguably 2 hospitals short of what it needs, especially given the growth we've experienced; and our school systems are starving for cash just to pay decent salaries.

We have a debt people, make no mistake about it. And the people who created it are sitting in the Legislature on the government benches - fat, dumb and happy.

Conservatives - Avoiding "Getting Anything Done"

Canada's gnu Government is once again doing everything it can to avoid the environment portfolio.

In the light of demonstrations on Earth Day, Environment Minister Baird (you know - big loudmouthed guy only slightly less oily than Jason Kenney) evades the public:

The Conservative government was notable by its absence at the events, but Environment Minister John Baird chose another forum to deliver his message.

Baird defended the Tory decision to abandon emission targets in the Kyoto Protocol in an interview on CTV's Question Period. He insisted the government has a better idea.

"The choice is not between Kyoto, strictly adhered to, and doing nothing,'' said Baird.

"We'll come forward with a tough approach, a balanced approach.''

So far, Baird's "tough balanced" approach has contributed more CO2 to the atmosphere than a herd of flatulent cows. It's been all talking wind and no action since Harper came into office - whether you are talking about Baird or Ambrose, all the Conservatives have issued has been smoke on the subject.

Like everything else Harper's government has done, it's all about doing as little as possible - in the least accountable way imaginable.

Blaming Philosophy For Virginia Tech

In the days following the Virginia Tech shooting, I've seen two lines of idiocy come out of wingnuttia. Frankly, blaming society - or broad swaths of philosophical thought - for one person's insanity is foolishness in the extreme.

The first, is that Cho's actions have something to do with atheism, which is nicely debunked here.

The second came spewing forth from Paul Jackson's witless mind today.

Jackson's rant basically claims that we are being "far too 'liberal'":

Because rampant liberalism simply demeans traditional values.

Just look at the evidence.

Movies hit our screens with non-stop violence and four-letter words spewing from them.

The pop music -- especially rap -- our teenagers listen to is also full of violence, four-letter words and is sexually explicit.

Pornography is rampant in the publications freely available at any newsstand or bookstore.

Teenage boys have no respect for teenage girls, and teenage girls no respect for themselves.

When some of us object to the demeaning standards evident in today's movies, music and publications, we are called prudes and are ridiculed.

Talk about pure argument by assertion. There isn't a shred of reality in Jackson's hand-wringing accusations. He complains about music, how kids dress today, pornography etc. Gee - I remember hearing the same worries expressed when I grew up about the pop culture of the day. Most people I know that are my age are not licentious, ill-disciplined people - but instead are earnest, hard working folk that grew well past the various things that Jackson worries so much about.

Our educational system is a shambles.

Teachers often dress like scruffy students, and churn out "graduates" who can hardly read, write or do simple arithmetic.

Oh wait, let's consider this for a moment. Who is it that has argued for cuts to public education? What stripe of government has consistently cut teacher's salaries and held back funding to maintain our schools? Oh right - Conservatives - especially in both Alberta and Ontario. In Alberta's recent budget, the funding for public schools isn't even increasing enough to keep up with inflation in the City of Calgary. This is a recipe for successful education how? While I respect and admire teachers, when the pay is 2/3 what I can make in other fields, it becomes pretty hard to attract people to the field.

Understanding the "plight" of criminals, rather than seeking punishment and retribution would cut down on crime, we were assured,

But no, the crime rates soar.

Oh bullfeathers, Paul. Overall, Canada's crime rates have been in decline for years. Recent outbursts of gang violence in Toronto or Calgary do not constitute a global change in crime rate - go learn some basic statistics.

Do the idiots in Toronto that have decided that whipping out a handgun at whim is a good idea deserve to have their asses kicked into jail for a long time? Absolutely. Of course, I've written about just how wonderfully Stephen Harper's government wants to protect our legal and judicial system - stacking it with ideologues instead of judges, introducing laws that violate the presumption of innocence, etc. Yeah - that gives me a lot of faith in the "conservative" idea of justice.

We are killing our babies with "near-birth" abortions in which the baby's head is crushed to get it out of the womb.

A "near birth" abortion is an abortion in which the baby would have been born alive -- if somewhat prematurely -- if its head hadn't been crushed and the womb injected with poison.

Oh brother - as if these extreme abortion cases are common. These are extremely rare, and generally only done when the baby is not viable, or the mother's own health is at risk. The notion of "near birth" is a term that the anti-abortion crowd dreamed up to describe a medical procedure. It is neither accurate, nor meaningful, but is rather part of the political dialogue. Feministe has a good article on the subject.

Jackson winds up his hyperventilating tirade as follows:

A liberal society, a society of licence, that's what.

In real words, a nihilistic society in which so many of us -- a majority of us, or a majority of those in politics, law and academia who set today's standards -- believe in nothing.

Is there any chance to save western civilization?

Not without strong leadership, but strong leadership is mocked.

Those with high leadership ideals are scorned and denigrated.

No Paul - what we have is a society that has grown beyond the narrow-mindedness of the 19th century that you are so in love with. You speak of people scorning those with "high leadership ideals", and yet I would argue that it is in fact "conservatives" like you that dish out scorn and sneering condescension at those who dare disagree with your ideology. Along with your cubicle-mate Micheal Coren, you have forgotten the idea that we live in an open society where disagreement is allowed.

That you get paid for spewing your nonsense is merely a disappointing comment on the price of a liberal society - we have to listen to your stupidity as well as actual reasoned thought.

It would appear that either Jackson's busy parroting Newt Gingrich or vice versa. In either case, the argument's still crap...although it does raise the spectre of Jackson engaging in a form of plagerism...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

There's an Irony In Here

In Manitoba, we have PMSH standing on his hind legs and yapping about funding the Human Rights Museum.

Of course, this is coming from a man who has made some real interesting statements on the topic of human rights:

"The establishment came down with a constitutional package which they put to a national referendum. The package included distinct society status for Quebec and some other changes, including some that would just horrify you, putting universal Medicare in our constitution, and feminist rights, and a whole bunch of other things."

- Conservative leader Stephen Harper, then vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, in a June 1997 Montreal meeting of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing American think tank.

Or, we can take a closer look at what some of PMSH's minions have said:

"I do believe it was a mistake to have legalized it."

- Canadian Alliance family issues critic Larry Spencer speaking about homosexuality, Vancouver Sun, November 27, 2003.

"I do believe life begins at conception. The very first time I ran for election, I took out an editorial in the local newspaper and said, look I am a democrat. [But] on this issue, because I see it as a human rights issue, if you wanted me to vote to promote that I wouldn’t be able to do that."

- Stockwell Day, indicating that even if a majority of his constituents wanted him to vote pro-choice, he would not be able so. Ottawa Citizen.

And then there's Stephen's "respect" for Canadians in general:

"I was asked to speak about Canadian politics. It may not be true, but it's legendary that if you're like all Americans, you know almost nothing except for your own country. Which makes you probably knowledgeable about one more country than most Canadians."

- Conservative leader Stephen Harper, then vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, in a June 1997 Montreal meeting of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing American think tank.

So, PMSH funding a museum that is intended to celebrate Canada's achievements in the realm of rights and freedoms is possibly one of the greater ironies visited upon Canadians in recent weeks.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

No, You Can't Change The Rules

It would seem that Rob Anders is no longer the valid nominee for Calgary West. An appeals court judge has ordered that a new nomination be held by June 30:

Justice Connie Hunt said she realizes Anders will be inconvenienced by having to fight another nomination battle in Calgary West, but party members should not be denied their democratic right to choose a candidate.

Gosh, Rob, you would be "inconvenienced" by having to fight another nomination campaign? Too bad. You and your bunch of corrupt cronies broke your own party's rules. Isn't the Conservative Party supposed to be all about grass-roots democracy and all that rot? Or is it just rotten?

In a move akin to lighting a scented candle in a bathroom after a particularly odorific event, we find Stephen Harper appointing Bert Brown to the Senate. Like other moves HarperCreep has made, this is nothing more than making a facade of reforming the senate, and does little in any real sense. (Unsurprising really - like his "Senate Elections" bill last fall, it's long on process and short on recognizing that the Senate is defined and described in the Constitution - and not as malleable as PMSH and crew might imagine. (It's also quite limited in its powers)

Yes, Steve and Rob, you shit and it doesn't smell roses - no matter what your delusional little bubbles may tell you.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

That Plummeting Sound ...

Is the US dollar as it enters freefall...

It seems that Iran is moving its oil sales from US$ basis accounting to Euros.

I've been half expecting this for quite some time. Both China and Iran are ideally positioned to become a serious problem for the United States, and the reality is that there is an economic war going on that the United States is trying to win with a military movement.

To borrow a line from several cheesy movies: Never bring a knife to a gunfight.

H/T: StageLeft

So...How's Those Extra 20,000 Troops Working Out?

...not so well it seems:

Hundreds killed in Baghdad bombings

This is one of the reasons that invading countries whose cultures are alien to you tends not to work.

Unlike the armchair warhawk crowd, I don't really have any delusions about the likelihood of peace in the Middle East while foreign powers are using military force to occupy nations such as Iraq or Afghanistan.

As the Soviets learned in the 1980s, an entrenched resistance that has roots in the local culture is next to impossible to ferret out - especially when you grok neither the culture nor the language of those whom you are trying to occupy.

Conservatives - Drive By Smear and Message Control

Say what you will about Garth Turner, but he's been pretty up front about what he believes, and what he is doing.

It's a shame that our Conservative government isn't capable of the same thing.

Not only is the CPoC government going out of its way to shut down Turner's "MPtv" project, but it seems that some lower level minions in the party are now working to spin/twist/fold and mutilate his words:

But the fact Hill would put so much effort this week into shutting down MPtv tells me something, and it is this: Conservatives are not feeling confidently positive about the future when they have to try and kill me off again. I mean, how many times is this? Is my dinky little webcasting experiment that much of a threat to the Harper machine?

Then the meter went code red with an email from a blog visitor asking, “have you seen this?”

“This” turned out to be an attack on me, and the credibility of this blog, published yesterday on the Tory web site, In the best tradition of hack journalists, spin doctors and public opinion manipulators, the stable of partisan writers that the Conservatives keep locked in a room deep beneath Metcalfe Street in downtown Ottawa, had created an online article claiming I actually support Jim Flaherty’s taxing of income trusts.

To a certain extent, trashing Garth is fair game - like any other public figure, he's put himself and his opinions on the stage.

However, there's a big difference between attacking what he's said, and twisting what he's said by yanking it entirely out of context.

The Conservative attempts to hamper and disable MPtv merely underscore the fact that Stephen Harper can't stand a dissenting opinion, and will do everything in his power to squash it.

- Canada's Gnu Government - more open, accountable and honest? ... unless you are "inconvenient"...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Conservative (dis)Respect For Canada

It's no secret to many that the Harper Conservatives actively dislike the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As writer EvilScientist muses, there are significant signs that Harper and crew are planning an all out assault on not just the Charter, but on the very principle of Presumed Innocence.

This week marks the 25th Anniversary of Canada's Constitution, and in particular the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. While The Globe and Mail has been examining the Charter and its impact upon our society:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

... however, Harper's own actions speak to his disrespect not just for Canada's laws, but Canada itself.

Interestingly, Dion is promising to undo some of the damage that the Conservatives have started to inflict.

Stephen Harper's Bad For Business

If you are a Canadian based business, it seems that Stephen Harper doesn't want you to remain so for much longer. The effects of two key Conservative government decisions are now starting to ripple through the business world.

The first decision to set the stage was a ham-fisted handling of the Income Trust issue. While I philosophically agree with the move itself, it was done in such an abrupt fashion it has left Income Trusts sitting on average around 20% below "fair market value" for the same company if they were still structured as a conventional corporation.

The second decision I commented on was the changes to taxation on interest which essentially oblige Canadian companies to hoard their capital in Canada.

These two policy decisions are making Canadian companies ripe targets for foreign takeover.

Sure enough, in the business news yesterday, two significant announcements popped up:

1. Algoma Steel being bought up by an Indian company.

2. 3 Income Trusts consumed by foreign takeovers:

a) VoxCom bought by UE Waterheaters
b) UE Waterheaters purchased by Alinda Capital Partners
c) Clean Power by Australia's Macquarie Bank

Lest some accuse me of being a hypocrite, complaining about protectionism in one sense, and then demanding it on the other hand - I don't object to foreign buyouts per se - I object to our government setting the stage for a discount auction of Canadian assets by the fiat of bad taxation policy that hamstrings the options that would normally be open to Canadian companies.

Under Harper's rule, the only way a Canadian company can grow onto the international stage is to be purchased by a foreign company - otherwise they are subject to a punitive tax regime when they try to finance expansion abroad.

Monday, April 16, 2007

And They Worry About Whose Morality ?!?

The circular hypocrisy of the so-called religious groups amazes me. In Calgary, we find a teacher charged with "sexual exploitation":

A teacher at a private religious school in Calgary has been charged with sexual exploitation, police said Monday.

Remember, this is the Calgary version of the same kind of organization that models itself after similar schools in the United States - you know the ones that do things like fire their staff when they decide to transition - for "not living a Christian lifestyle".

Remember, it's the so-called "religious right" that bleats the loudest when the topic of gay marriage arises, or divorce, or contraception - meanwhile the very people who are supposedly educating our youth are busy molesting them?

Let's not ignore the similarities between this case and the "pedophile priests" that the Roman Catholic clergy has been actively sheltering for decades - shuffling them quietly from diocese to diocese when the stench of their activities becomes too much to be ignored. (At least in this case, the perpetrator has been turned over to local authorities)

The Truth Comes Out...

So, according to Gordon O'Connor, It could take 15 years to stabilize Afghanistan.

Okay, fair enough. I've said for a long time that you are looking at decades-long engagements when you attempt to change a country's government by force - especially when you want to impose a government that the people aren't accustomed to, nor particularly willing to accept.

Now that our terminally dishonest bunch of thugs in Ottawa have finally said the obvious - namely that if Canada is going to be involved in Afghanistan (or any other Middle East conflict), it's a long term commitment, - we can actually discuss whether or not this is what Canada should be doing.

At the moment, I argue that Canada has no place in that country, especially over a 15+ year long period of engagement. As our peacekeeping experiences in Egypt and Cyprus demonstrate, we can be very effective as peacekeepers over the long term. However, if the various parties in the conflict are not ready for an "impartial arbiter" to interpose themselves, then the 'peacekeeper' becomes a focal point for the "local parties" to attack.

The Soviet experience in Afghanistan went down many of the same paths we are currently seeing the NATO forces using. It didn't work, and little has changed in the Afghani social/political arena to make me believe that NATO has a better chance of success. (In fact, as I write this, I start to suspect that Afghanistan may well be the last gasp of another Cold War era organization as its member nations start to question their involvement)

So, now that our overly eager Conservatives are starting to admit that Afghanistan will take more than a couple of years to stabilize, Canada must ask itself whether it is prepared to commit both the people and financial resources to this war, and whether that war is in Canada's interests.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Dear Ms. Landolt:, you do not have the right to speak for me or other Canadians.

When you wrote your "apology" to the world, along with your ideological brethren McVety and Rushfeldt, you claimed to speak for Canadians. Wrong - this is one Canadian you do not speak for, and I know I am not alone.

We are grieved and troubled as we consider the impact this is having in weakening the fundamental institution of marriage in countries and cultures around the world. We understand that because Canada does not impose citizenship or residency requirements in order for same-sex individuals to be “married” here, couples are coming to Canada to seek legal sanction for their homosexual relationships with the intent of returning to their own countries to challenge those countries’ legal definition of marriage.

Frankly, your wording here is offensive in the extreme - especially to those of us who respect the notion of a civil, egalitarian society. Your use of quotation marks around the word marriage is offensive and denigrating to everybody who is married under Canadian law.

Our government and courts only considered adult “rights.” Among other things, the impact on children’s rights, children’s education, parental rights, religious rights, adoption, the economy and family law were never fully considered. Changes were implemented quickly and without a genuinely free vote in our federal parliament.

Ummm...frankly this entire paragraph is pure assertion, and blind bullshit. You are inferring negative impact without so much as one iota of comprehensible reasoning. Of course, you come from the same group of narrow-minded pinheaded thinking that insists that a child who sees a gay couple is going to be irrevocably damaged for the rest of their life. (Oddly - this runs contrary to rational research which finds otherwise, but then, nobody expects you to be rational)

Budgets and Conservative Pseudo Protectionism

Over coffee this morning, my father asked a question about the changes to the interest deductability rules in the March 19 budget.

I must admit to having not paid much attention to this most recent budget - at least not in the kind of detail to identify and understand the implications of some of the more subtle changes like this. (Yes, I do have a life, and it's been rather busier than would allow me the time to dissect a large piece of legalese in detail - especially when it hasn't caught my immediate interest)

So, I went digging around for some analysis, and found a rather nice article on the subject here, which summarizes the interest deduction rules as follows:

The budget proposes a significant reversal in tax policy in this area. If the budget proposals are enacted, interest expense incurred to acquire shares of a foreign affiliate generally will not be deductible unless and until those shares generate income that is taxed in Canada.

The Notice sets out the details of this proposal. The Notice provides that "interest relating to an investment in a foreign affiliate" (as specifically and quite broadly defined) will generally go into a taxpayer's "disallowed interest pool." Amounts in the pool (which will include both interest and other borrowing costs) will be deductible only to the extent the taxpayer recognizes taxable income from shares or debt of the foreign affiliate or net taxable capital gains from disposing of shares or debt of the foreign affiliate. The determination of such taxable income will be made only after deducting (x) any deductions relating to the receipt of dividends from such foreign affiliate, (y) deductions available where a dividend is paid out of previously taxed "foreign accrual property income" (FAPI), and (z) deductions relating to foreign accrual taxes on previously taxed FAPI. In effect, this means that such interest expense can only be deducted to the extent the taxpayer realizes income from the foreign affiliate that is taxed in Canada (or sheltered by other losses or deductions).

It would appear that the "disallowed interest pool" is defined for each particular foreign affiliate of a taxpayer. The Notice contains no provisions for carryover of such amounts to successors in the case of mergers, amalgamations or similar transactions. However, it is understood that the Department of Finance will include appropriate continuity rules in the definitive legislation enacting these provisions.

The Notice provides for a specific anti-avoidance rule by defining "interest relating to an investment in a foreign affiliate" to include interest or borrowing costs that may reasonably be considered to be in connection with a transaction or series "a main purpose of which was to avoid the application" of these rules.

Along with some other changes that the Blake article points out, this starts to look like the Conservatives are implementing a bizarre, and somewhat incomprehensible version of the kind of protectionism that the United States Republicans have so often pushed in legislation (all the while talking about reducing government and "open markets").

This looks a little like an attempt to "keep capital investment at home", but it creates a unique problem for Canadian companies. Canada is a fairly small market overall, which means that a company that is growing significantly is going to have to "go abroad" sooner or later in order to continue growing. By constraining this ability as significantly as the Conservatives are, there is a very real danger of inverting the problem, and finding that Canadian companies will become takeover targets themselves - hamstrung by legal and taxation environments that would make it difficult for Canadian companies to remain Canadian.

There is a perverse irony to this, since we have a party who talks gamely about "open markets" and their supremacy and is in fact not only bungling their attempts to be protectionist (in the model of the Republicans they so admire), but worse will turn Canada's economy into one controlled not by Canadian interests, but by foreign ownership. (Anyone skeptical of this needs look no further than the gradual incursion of Kinder Morgan Inc. into the Canadian resource industries in a way that echoes of some attempts by Enron to manipulate our energy markets)

Friday, April 13, 2007

They Don't Know Right From Wrong

In whipping himself into a lather over the Sponsorship Scandal, Stephen Harper said something to the effect of "They don't know right from wrong" referring to the Liberals.

Well, it seems that he is no better himself. In recent days, we've begun to hear about Paul Wolfowitz's dishonorable conduct as head of The World Bank Group. The particulars of Wolfowitz's conduct are immaterial here - he abused his position and authority and got caught.

It was the comments from Canada's Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty that caught me. Apparently, he thinks Wolfowitz didn't do anything wrong. This coming from the man who controls the purse strings in Ottawa, and holds only slightly less sway than the Prime Minister as a result. He can't see anything wrong with Wolfowitz breaking the rules - in fact, he apologizes for Wolfowitz, and tries to paint it all as a giant media conspiracy.

Talk about not being able to tell right from wrong!

Smells Like a Cover Up In Progress

It seems that the DND is having a hard time coming up with a defense for the policy around handling arrestees in Afghanistan.

After missing a court deadline, Canada's Department of National Defence has decided it now wants to defend itself against accusations that its Afghan detainee policy violates international law and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Defence Department e-mailed a letter late Wednesday asking lawyers for Amnesty International of Canada and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association to agree to a three-month extension of a 30-day deadline to respond to the charges of the two groups.

Hmmm...the official commentary out of the DND?

“Retrieving and reviewing all relevant documents, including those generated in Afghanistan, is an enormous task,” the letter says. It was signed by Sanderson Graham, the senior Justice Department lawyer, representing Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor and Chief of Defence Staff General Rick Hillier.

This starts to smell rather rotten here - like a bureaucrat trying to cover something up. Especially when we remember that Hillier referred to the Afghanis being arrested in the following colourful language:

However, the blunt-speaking top soldier has also called enemy combatants “detestable murderers and scumbags.”

Meanwhile, on other fronts, Canada lost 8 (6 + 2) soldiers this past week to "IED" bombs (let's get real - these aren't "improvised" devices any more when they can take out armored vehicles - these bombs have been engineered for the purpose - quite well it would seem)

Apparently, in response, our government is going to burn untold amounts of taxpayer money not just on buying new (used) tanks but leasing a batch for immediate use. (The number I heard on CBC driving home yesterday was about $1/2 Billion - to purchase the "new used tanks", no word has been given on the terms and cost of the leased units from Germany - nor the duration of said lease. (How open and accountable of O'Connor)

I'm a little skeptical about buying and overhauling used tanks here - especially after the "great deal" Canadians got buying some surplus submarines from the UK a few years ago. According to the CBC, the tanks from the Netherlands have been "The 100 surplus tanks, which have been sealed in heated buildings for 10 years...".

Anyone who has owned an older car knows that even kept in storage, they need a certain amount of "care and feeding" - or things like seals dry out, gaskets weaken etc. The overhaul of those tanks could easily outstrip the cost of purchase as the overhaul process turns up various problems that would not be obvious on visual inspection. (Remember, tanks are used in battle zones - not exactly the place to be climbing around your vehicle trying to figure out why the engine just died, or the tracks just snapped due to metal fatigue). I'm not saying that the existing tanks (which are old) are a good thing, but I'm cautious about buying someone else's mothballed gear right now. Buy one or two, overhaul them and prove to me that they work reasonably well without costing an arm and a leg.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I'm Baffled

So...we have what is possibly the most dishonest, secretive government to sit in Ottawa in decades. Where's the opposition? I'm sad to say it, but none of the opposition parties is doing a good job right now.

Dion's nearly silent; Duceppe is obviously torn - looking homeward at the crumbling of the PQ and wondering what his future holds; and I don't even want to imagine what Layton and Harper have been doing behind closed doors.

The only opposition party with an excuse here is Elizabeth May's Green Party - who has no sitting members in the House of Commons.

We have a budget that is increasing the cost of spending at twice the rate of inflation, a military that has been committed to an extended stay in Afghanistan - and that is being used to ram through spending at a prolific rate, without adequate oversight.

Harper and his people have been caught out in so many lies and deceptions that they are starting to make Brian Mulroney's last years as Prime Minister seem positively honest. We have Harper condoning the use of so-called "attack ads" and push-polling techniques in a pre-election campaign straight out of Karl Rove's book of tricks. Meanwhile, the opposition is not calling Harper out on this - or at least not effectively. (Granted, living in Alberta as I do, I doubt that I'm going to see or hear much "against" Harper and his band of goons - the media out here is so biased it's not even funny - any counter-ads or commentary from Dion and others probably doesn't even get aired.

The blogosphere gets it, why don't the opposition politicians?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Remember Bush's "Surge"?

It doesn't seem to be having much effect at all.

The situation for civilians in Iraq is “ever-worsening,” even though security in some places has improved as a result of stepped-up efforts by U.S.-led multinational forces, the international Red Cross said Wednesday.

The IRC is probably a little more optimistic than I have been - they go on to state:

“Whatever operation that is today under way, and that may be taken tomorrow and in the weeks after, to improve the security of civilians on the ground may have an effect in the medium term,” said Pierre Kraehenbuehl, director of operations of the International Committee of the Red Cross, or ICRC.

“We're certainly not seeing an immediate effect in terms of stabilization for civilians currently. That is not our reading,” he said.

My opinion - and it is an opinion - is that Iraq will remain a seething disaster until the occupying forces withdraw.

Similarly, Afghanistan won't settle down much as long as there are foreign boots on the ground.

Now, Mr. O'Connor, Mr. Harper - just when are you going to wake up and recognize that military occupation of a foreign power will not change the political climate of that country substantially?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Michael Coren ... Revisionist

Usually I try to ignore Michael Coren - and then there's the days where he's so insufferably stupid that he deserves a more thorough swatting about. This week's column in the Sun newspaper chain is an exceptionally egregious assault on both reality and reason.

More people have died in the name of religion than anything else. Not true. There is a story that the Devil asked God for one century. Fine, said the Almighty, have the 20th century.

And hundreds of millions were slaughtered by atheist regimes led by Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and their friends. It is the absence of belief rather than its presence that has led to the most suffering.

There's a few bits of illogic here. I'm not sure what twist in scripture Coren uses to derive that God handed the 20th century over to the Devil - I'm not sure that I care. Causal legends don't go very far in helping us understand what really happened. I am, however, rather offended by his bone-headed linking of political totalitarian regimes with atheism. At best such a link is spurious - coincidence rather than causality; at worst, it is nothing more that a childish smear - implying that a worshipful Christian politician is less likely to be a bloodthirsty maniac.

But, that's just his opening assertion, his reasoning becomes ever more unhinged as one reads on.

Hitler was a Catholic. Not at all. He was born a Catholic but hated Christianity and some of the most devoted Nazi theorists wrote that their contempt for Judaism was based less on anti-Semitism than the fact the Jews gave the world Jesus.

Wow - that's a choice little bit of revisionism - been talking to Ernst Zundel again, Michael - or did you forget to put on your tinfoil hat before going out last week?

What about the Crusades? A geo-political response from Christian Europe to the massive military expansion of Islamic armies into the Christian heartlands of North Africa, Palestine and Syria. There were certainly aspects of it that were dreadful but it says nothing about the truth of Christianity.

How do you explain the Inquisition? Actually there is not a lot to explain. The number of people killed under its authority was very small and most European towns saw an Inquisition delegation once every 10 years.

Here's where Coren demonstrates not only his fundamental ignorance of history, but he mangles his interpretation of it as well.

He claims that the Crusades said nothing of the truth of Christianity - yet those same crusades were sanctioned by, if not sponsored by, various Popes. Last I checked, according to Roman Catholic dogma, the Pope is the only member of the clergy with a "direct line" with God - presumably those same Popes shared that line of communication. Besides, even if one says that the Catholic Church does not "represent the truth of Christianity", it's damnably hard to deny that the Crusades were undertaken in the name of Christianity. Trivializing it, and the long lasting consequences of western military and cultural intervention in the Middle East, is facile and stupid on Mr. Coren's part.

[Update 09/04/07]
A regular reader has pointed out the following overview of the Christian Crusades - with a certain amount of hint at the underlying motives at play - none of them exactly paint Coren's oh-so-noble Christianity in a very pleasant light...

As for his dismissal of the Inquisition as having only killed a few people, once again, Coren utterly misses the point. The inquisition was a part of the power structure - it was part of how the Church maintained its hold on not just spiritual power, but political and economic power. As anyone who has read the Malleus Maleficarum will confirm, the Inquisition structure was designed to be a no-win situation - once accused, you were going to die - it was merely a matter of how, and how quickly. It was a powerful tool for keeping a population controlled - in a manner than any 20th century dictator would have admired - from Lenin and Hitler through to Marcos or Duvalier. (Or perhaps, Mr. Coren would like to examine the oh-so-devoutly Catholic leaders of some South American countries who have perpetrated their own evils?)

It is not the numbers that the Inquisitions killed that matter - it is the purpose and intent not just of the inquisition, but the church itself in creating the inquisition. A roaming body of people meting out "the lord's justice" based on some extreme twisting of scripture and logic is little different than the death squads and "disappearances" of numerous regimes.

That the Sun chain pays Mr. Coren is astounding - that they print his monumental stupidity only goes to show the lack of editorial wisdom at the board.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

My, my...

How intriguing ... a brief bit of pawing through the neo-separatist website "Project Alberta", I learned a few things of interest.

First, this person has resigned as the CEO of this organization.

Okay, CCC is busy redesigning their website - which I thought was interesting to begin with, as the redesign suggests a significant change in direction for the group - one that didn't make a lot of sense under its previous leadership.

However, it's what's said in the resignation letter that I find intriguing:

In the years I have served the organization we have accomplished many things from being very instrumental in helping Stephen Harper become leader of the Canadian Alliance and the Conservative Party of Canada to our fight against Human Rights Commissions in defence of the family.

The assumptions here are too many to ignore - I have no idea just how some of the things which have been said by and on behalf of "CCC" have anything to do with "defending" the notion of family - they've been little more than blatant expressions of the kind of thing that gives the word "conservative" a bad name.

Firstly, I will be seeking office soon. I do not mean helping out a friend and putting my name on a ballot to help out a struggling party as I did in 1997 with the Social Credit Party. I do not mean running for leadership to deliver a much needed message as I did when I ran for leader of the former Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. I am actually seeking office to win. I believe, as do others that I will be much more effective for the movement in an elected capacity.

How fascinating - it seems that in the wake of Ralph Klein's departure, all sorts of interesting creatures are surfacing with designs on seats in the legislature.

Secondly, I have found service in the social conservative movement, frustrating at best. I have never witnessed a more tribal grouping of people in my life. The people I am refering to are the groups who are supposed to represent Christian interests etc... The best way to describe the back biting, cold shoulders or attacks is with scripture. The verse that comes to mind can be found in Galatians 5: 15 - "But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another". appears that someone is just beginning to figure out that even within a "movement" there is going to be dissention - and that unity in the case of religious conservatives only goes as far as they interpret scripture similarly for their political ends.

have also been a little troubled that when the Concerned Christians Canada Inc (CCC) is in a massive Human Rights Tribunal the only substantial monies contributed to our legal funds have come from the United States of America and the Alliance Defense Fund. Canada's Christians and social conservatives have not been forthcoming.

There's two points to this paragraph. First is a hint that CCC has had significant funding from American-based evangelical lobby groups - such as Alliance Defense Fund. I've suspected this for quite some time, but haven't had anything to substantiate the suspicion.

The second point of note is that CCC is involved in the suit(s) before various Canadian human rights bodies - as I have noted back here - at least in part as a result of the now resigning CEO's own actions. Given what I found recently on another website owned by the same individual, one has to suspect that things aren't going "as planned" with the various Human Rights complaints at play.

However, seeing this character entering public politics is bothersome - and I hear rumours that this individual is planning to seek a tory nomination somewhere in Calgary as well. (For those not familiar with Mciver's history, his campaigns have been managed by the same individual in the past - and I suspect they remain fairly close).

If this is in fact the case, what we likely have here is a move afoot to swing the provincial PC's even further to the social right wing than they already are.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Credibility ... The Wingnut's Nemesis

Over at Lifesite, it appears that they have forgotten to check the credentials of the "researchers" they cite. In this case, we find them extolling the virtues of improbably awful research done by Paul Cameron. It's the usual "gay men die young" screed, which Cameron's been beating on for years - using the same bad statistical methodologies which have been trashed repeatedly in the past.

Before we leave the subject of really bad research, let's take a look at Lifesite's take on The University of Guelph's Sexuality Conference...mostly because I feel like sandblasting a soda cracker or two.

Says Lifesite:

During the research forum on “Women’s Reproductive and Sexual Rights: A Global and Local Perspective” attendees consider three brief research presentations followed by questions, answers and discussion, such as “The ‘Fire Slut’ Versus the ‘Dyslexbian’ – Depictions of Active Female Sexuality in Forest Fire Suppression.”

Yes, there is a session that mentions these three rather odd-sounding topics:

T12 - Women’s Reproductive and Sexual Rights: A Global and Local Perspective - A Research Forum

Three brief research presentations will be followed by questions, answers and discussion. The session topics are:

* Impacts of Globalization on Reproductive and Sexual Rights of Third World Women
* The “Fire Slut” Versus the “Dyslexbian” – Depictions of Active Female Sexuality in Forest Fire Suppression
* Student Perceptions of Sexual Consent and Sexual Intent: The Impact of Relationship Length and Sexual Experience

Sem Chuddar Ponnambalam, MA, Policy/Legal Consultant, Gloucester; Kathleen Kartes, BA Candidate, Trent University, Peterborough; Stephanie Ross, MA, Research Assistant, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay

Then the brain kicks in and we realize that we are talking about some terminology from a subculture that I'm not actually familiar with. Oh - now it makes a lot more sense. (and oddly, the other two topics of presentation are pretty obvious mainstream sexual politics discussions.

Claims Lifesite:
The Conference also delves into how to make sex education more student-driven with “Out of the Cubicle and into the Classroom: Student Driven Sexual Health Programming in Secondary Schools.” However, according to recent news reports, American students as early as 5th grade are pioneering this one, demonstrating the lessons of sex education during other classes or school gatherings without any compunction.

Typical of neo-Christian denial, sex never happens, except in the blessed confines of holy marriage consecrated by one of the mystical clergy...right...

Reality is:

W14 - Out of the Cubicle and into the Classroom: Student Driven Sexual Health Programming in Secondary Schools

Students are often asked to lead or at least become partners in the development of sexual health programming. As health practioners we make the mistake of over managing student led projects and then risk alienating the student partners. The presentation will focus on a series of health unit/school projects which illustrate how letting go of a project and empowering students can lead to an effective and innovative product. Particpants will leave with a summary of key lessons learned and a series of recommendations for ensuring the future success of student led school-based programs.

Again, reality is much more grounded in something comprehensible - namely a perfectly intelligent and valid discussion of how best to engage students in sex education programs. Hardly the debauched licentiousness that our friends at Lifesite suggest.

As if to further fuel their righteous outrage, Lifesite really gets themselves worked up over all the workshops that focus on various sexual minority groups and the unique issues each represents:

Much attention is paid toward helping sex educators/counselors show LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual, Queer) clients and employees greater “sensitivity and inclusivity [sic]”. Polyamorists, however, do not get the short shrift as “Help! My Client is Polyamorous” teaches how to deal sensitively with polyamorist relationships. A polyamorist leads the course.

However, the gospel of this brave new world would not be complete without workshops on “Queer Family Planning” explaining the 9 week courses on creating children: Dykes Planning Tykes or Daddies & Papas 2B. ...

Yes, a browse through the University of Guelph does show a lot of topics that would raise the eyebrows of most people - especially if they haven't got any background in the amazing diversity of human behaviour, and sexuality in particular.

Of course, Lifesite's pseudo journalists have focused on the most shocking topics - the ones that would attract the most lurid headline they could dream up. Reality is that a lot of the topics are much less inspiring to their moral outrage:

W15 - Status of Sexual Health in Canada

This session presents a comprehensive portrait of sexual and reproductive health in Canada. Key national trends in sexual and reproductive health identified in the Status of Sexual and Reproductive Health in Canada Report, compiled by the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health will be highlighted. The focus will be on significant changes in sexual health indicators over time, including rates of contraception use, STIs, sexual violence, pregnancy, birth, abortion and access to services, with a particular emphasis on trends within the youth population. This presentation will facilitate a greater understanding of sexual health in Canada and discuss consequent policy recommendations.

Linda Capperauld, MSW, Executive Director, Canadian Federation for Sexual Health, Ottawa

Of course, Lifesite has to end off with this little snip:

The 29th Guelph Sexuality Conference follows an entire week dedicated to promoting post-Christian amorality with the Sexual Attitudes Reassessment Weekend (June 9-10) and the Intensive Sex Therapy Training Program (June 11-15).

As if any frank and honest discussion about sexuality was "amoral"...and implicitly, immoral. Yes, let's return to the era when talking about sexuality was verboten - it makes it so much easier for the pedophile priests to do their thing and be quietly hushed up.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

As If To Underscore My Point

Sometimes, one has to wonder if government's don't go out of their way to make a point for us. Last week, I commented on a proposal to curtail freedom of speech in this country.

At the time, I raised the very worrisome prospect that terms like "terrorism" or "terrorist" were extremely difficult to define in legal terms, and any law which attempted to do so would either be overly broad, or hamstrung by its own definitions.

This week, we find the Canadian Armed Forces have a training manual which tries to enumerate "potential" sources of "threats", and manages to enumerate Canadian aboriginal peoples among groups like Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.

To some extent, one may brush this off a little - the draft in question was written a couple of years ago, and under a different political leadership. Further, our armed forces are supposed to be cautious and responsive to possible threats, so an internal document that enumerates potential sources of armed threat shouldn't really surprise us.

However, what it does do is underscore the worrisome point - one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist. Consider the incident at Ipperwash a few years ago. One could certainly see how the natives would have seen themselves as "fighting for freedom" of some sort, and equally how the OPP would have seen the natives as "terrorists" or "insurgents". I do not choose to make any judgement about those events here - rather I want them to be seen as illustrative of the very problems I raised earlier.

We are not talking about a government action to protect the rights of any identifiable group of Canadians, nor are talking about the government taking action to limit the activities of any identifiable groups. Instead, we are talking about the government acting to limit the rights of all Canadians in the face of an unknown, and unknowable "threat".

The Harper government has already shown that it wishes to overturn the notion of presumed innocence, and now we see the first signs of authoritarianism coming forth.

The Cass Review and the WPATH SOC

The Cass Review draws some astonishing conclusions about the WPATH Standards of Care (SOC) . More or less, the basic upshot of the Cass Rev...