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rtod: we only want the earth

we move to canada - Sat, 04/30/2016 - 10:00
On the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, these Revolutionary Thoughts of the Day are brought to you by the great Irish socialist, James Connolly.
The day has passed for patching up the capitalist system; it must go. (1910)
This speech, from 1897, is recreated in the excellent Ken Loach film "The Wind that Shakes the Barley":
If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organisation of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain. England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs. England would still rule you to your ruin, even while your lips offered hypocritical homage at the shrine of that freedom whose cause you had betrayed. Nationalism without Socialism – without a reorganisation of society on the basis of a broader and more developed form of that common property which underlay the social structure of Ancient Erin – is only national recreancy.
This recalls what I recently posted: yoko ono was right.
The worker is the slave of the capitalist society. The female worker is the slave of that slave. (1915)
And from Connolly's poem "Song of Freedom," 1907.
“Be moderate,” the trimmers cry,
Who dread the tyrants’ thunder.
“You ask too much and people fly
From you aghast in wonder.”
’Tis passing strange, for I declare
Such statements give me mirth,
For our demands most moderate are,
We only want the Earth.

What's That in Erdogan's Hand? Oh Yeah, It's Europe's Balls.

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 04/30/2016 - 09:39

You gotta give him credit. Turkish strongman, Recep Erdogan, knows it doesn't matter how much he's reviled so long as he has his critics by the balls. In this case that would be Europe.

The Euros may look down their noses at the Ottoman thug but they know that they need Erdogan to staunch the tsunami of refugee/migrants desperate to escape the Middle East for the safety of, okay let's face it, western Europe. That's where the good jobs are, so they think.

And so the EU and Erdogan have reached a deal but it's one in which Turkey holds all the aces.

Erdogan is unpopular at home. Turkey stands on the brink of its own civil war. Recep needs goodies to hand out to his supporters and that comes in the form of visa-free travel to Europe.

Ankara's logic is simple: Given that Turkey is solving Europe's refugee problem, the country's 79 million people must be provided with visa-free travel to the EU, even if Ankara hasn't yet fulfilled all 72 of the conditions set out by Brussels. That's the price. Europe must turn a blind eye.

It's likely that it will do so. On Wednesday, the European Commission is expected to make a decision on whether to move forward with the visa liberalization process and there is much to suggest the EU executive will decide in favor. During a meeting on Wednesday of this week, members of the Commission agreed that if Turkey fulfilled as many of the 72 conditions as possible between now and then, that it will make a favorable recommendation. Sources with knowledge of the Commission proceedings said the number of outstanding conditions would have to be single digit in number. "The count will take place on Wednesday." So far, Turkey has met around 50 of the demands.

Out of the frying pan, into the fire.
Merkel and other western leaders are in a double bind. The concessions to Erdogan may be their best, perhaps only hope of staunching the wave of migrants and refugees but the arrival, even if on "temporary" terms, of large numbers of Turks could play into the hands of extreme rightwing groups.
The question now is how far Europe is willing to go in its self-denial. It's likely the European Commission will provide an answer next week. "It's not possible for Turkey to fulfill the criteria 100 percent. We know that," says one German official with knowledge of the negotiations. The official says the situation will not ultimately be black or white -- it will be gray. "It's like when you tell your kids that you will take them on vacation if they great straight A's," says another EU diplomat. "Are you really going to cancel if they get a B?"

But what if there is also an F or two in there? One of the points of contention is a Turkish anti-terror law so broadly defined that it makes it possible for Erdogan to go after anyone he decides to label as a terrorist, even journalists who report critically about him. Inside the European Commission, some believe this law gives a "blank check" to Turkish security agencies to do as they please. Parts of Turkish law are also inconsistent with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Erdogan's strategy is that of agreeing to many of the conditions. But he has done little in a few, decisive areas. It is a course of action he hopes will make it as difficult as possible for the Europeans to turn away from their visa pledge. When a 20-person EU delegation traveled to Ankara to negotiate the details of the visa deal, around 60 well-prepared Turkish specialists were waiting for the Europeans. They addressed issues like combatting corruption and altering laws against money laundering. For the last four days, there has even been a daily video conference between Commission representatives and Turkish government experts in order to clarify problems.

This is one case where "the devil you know" might not be the preferred default option.

Sleepy in Sudbury

Fat and Not Afraid - Sat, 04/30/2016 - 09:32

I can't seem to get warm. Have been hit with a 48 hour flu or something after Katherine brought it home from daycare earlier this week. I'm an achy ball of misery but there are things that need doing so today I'm going to take my time and get them done.

The new place in Sudbury is great; the buses run every 15 minutes and I'm a five minute walk from the biggest mall in town so any time I need anything, or I'm just bored, I can wander over that way. Gabe decided to stay in the Soo with his Nana and Poppa (my in-laws) to finish the school year and it's so odd not to have  him around all the time. It's quieter, that's for sure. He's at camp this weekend with my parents and I'm sure when we talk later he'll have amazing stories to tell me of riding on the atv, shooting the .22 and going fishing. 

Ryan's new position finally seems to have all the kinks worked out so that's good too; it was a rough road getting all the new staff in place and trained. It's SO wonderful to be together again; to sleep side by side every night, cuddle on the couch and watch a movie, share the pick ups and drop offs for Kat's new daycare and be able to sit and chat and dream. We're hoping to get to FanExpo again on the Labour Day weekend and do some traveling and camping when we can this summer. Other than that, no big plans.

On the 'what the heck is up with my thyroid?!"front, I had a meeting with a thyroid specialist and he's recommended we take out the whole thing, just to be on the safe side. I'll be going back to the Soo for that sometime in June and will probably need 3-4 days off work. After that they'll poke around and see if it was cancerous. I don't want to think about what comes after that if it was.

There's more but I'm fading fast so I'll just say that I like my new branch and being with my old boss, Shannon, again. Sudbury has been, so far, pretty great.


Wake Up, Canada. Australia Calling.

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 04/30/2016 - 09:18

You don't read much about it but Canada is a big juicy target for landgrabs by foreign corporations.

A couple of years ago Argentinian officials were alarmed to discover an attempt by a Chinese company to purchase a vast swathe of prime ranch land. The government moved to block the sale. The Chinese investors did an end run by purchasing a controlling interest in an Argentine company that owned the coveted lands.

Now it's Australia's turn.

The Australian government on Friday blocked once and for all a bid that would have seen a chunk of its land the size of Ireland — or more than 1 percent of the country's total landmass — sold to a private Chinese company.

The company at first seems like an extremely unlikely contender to become not only Australia's, but the world's, biggest private landowner. It's called Dakang, and it was once a struggling pig-breeding firm until it was bought in 2013 by Pengxin Group, a Shanghai-based company mostly involved in real estate.

But ever since a massive tainted milk scandal effectively shuttered China's domestic dairy industry in 2008, companies there have been seeking to source dairy products from overseas, and Pengxin has been particularly pioneering, if not very successful, in the endeavor. In September, New Zealand nixed its plan to buy one massive farm there, and Pengxin subsequently canceled its plans to buy 10 more in the country. The company has bought vast farms in Argentina, Bolivia and Cambodia.

You might never know it by anything you've heard from a Canadian government over the past 20-years but the world is rapidly entering an era of severe food insecurity. Foreign land grabs plague Africa and Southeast Asia. South America has been targeted. New Zealand was targeted, now Australia. We're ripe for the picking.
China is in a mess. It has severe water shortages and a good bit of what water does exist is industrially and agriculturally contaminated, unfit for human consumption and unsuitable for growing crops. China also has a major soil contamination problem, the result of smokestack emissions, especially arsenic, cadmium, mercury and other persistent heavy metals.
Local climate change impacts compounding other forms of environmental degradation can endanger domestic stability. If your ability to feed your own population is undermined, you have to find that food somewhere and your supply has to be both adequate and reliable. That means you have to control the land.
It's time we had another one of those "adult conversations" Catherine McKenna recently spoke about.

And To Round Up The Week

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 04/30/2016 - 05:54
Yet one more reminder of our collective folly:

Recommend this Post

A Very Old Lesson

Northern Reflections - Sat, 04/30/2016 - 05:31

Alberta isn't the only province caught between a rock and a hard place. Newfoundland is in the same boat -- and for the same reasons. Alan Freeman writes:

We’ve all heard about that special connection between Newfoundland and Alberta — stories of hard-working labourers from the island province flying out to Fort McMurray to make their fortunes in the oilsands.

Unfortunately, the east-west linkages went deeper. When politicians in Newfoundland hit their own gusher in offshore oilfields like Hibernia, they looked to Alberta for guidance. What to do with the billions in windfall royalty revenues that in 2008 turned Newfoundland and Labrador into a “have” province for the first time after decades of equalization payments from Ottawa? Sock it away for a rainy day like those boring Norwegians? Hell no. We’ll have a big party like our buddies in Alberta.
And now that the price of oil has tanked, there is hell to pay -- literally:

Taxes have been raised across the board; the HST has been hiked to 15 per cent from 13 per cent, the gasoline tax is up 16.5 cents per litre and the province is introducing a highly regressive “deficit reduction” income tax levy that will cost $300 for a taxpayer earning $25,000 a year. Public servants will be laid off. Half the province’s libraries will close. Those $1,000 baby bonuses are long gone.
It's a repeat of the Alberta saga. There were other ways to deal with the boom. But they were paths less -- in fact, they are seldom -- taken. There is a very old lesson here.


Will the Gay Marriage Issue Tear the Cons apart?

Montreal Simon - Sat, 04/30/2016 - 04:56

For almost ten years Stephen Harper never ceased to show his contempt for gay Canadians.

He voted against every gay rights bill that came before parliament. He cut off funding to all LGBT groups.

And he never changed the party platform that calls for same sex marriage to be banned.

But now with their convention only weeks away, that issue may be coming back to haunt the Cons.
Read more »

u.s. iraq war resisters: the struggle continues

we move to canada - Sat, 04/30/2016 - 04:00
Still war resisters. Still in Canada. Still fighting to stay.

So far, the change in government hasn't helped the Iraq War resisters who remain here, nor the ones who were forced out of Canada who would like to return. The Trudeau government could do this so easily. And yet.

The CBC Radio show "DNTO" recently did an excellent segment about the US Iraq War resisters and the fight - still going on - to let them stay in Canada.
When American soldier Joshua Key fled to Canada in 2005, he never imagined that ten years later he would still be fighting a war — against the U.S. army, against post-traumatic stress disorder, and against the Canadian government.

Key is one of an estimated 15 Iraq war veterans who are fighting to remain in Canada.

The resisters left home to avoid being sent back to a war they didn't believe in. Today, they fear they'll be sent to prison if they're deported.

On this week's DNTO, you'll meet modern war resisters. Each of their stories is unique, but they all have one thing in common: they wish to stay in Canada. Should they be allowed to? Some segments:

Meet the war resisters desperate to stay in Canada.

Who's helping the war resisters?

The Brockway family: fighting PTSD and searching for home.

A photo essay about Josh Key.

The show is really worth hearing, and you know how I feel about radio. You can listen to the full episode here.

John Ibbotson's Scary Journey Into Harper's Head

Montreal Simon - Sat, 04/30/2016 - 02:48

Ten days ago the Globe writer John Ibbotson was awarded the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, for his book Stephen Harper.

With the jury praising him for managing to "put us inside Harper’s head during some of the most critical moments of his life."

But although I've always been interested in meeting the voices in Harper's head, and asking them to explain themselves, I haven't read the book.

Not after I read Bob Rae's review, and what he had to say about Ibbotson, and what Ibbitson had to say about Harper.
Read more »

When the Pentagon Claims that Bombing a Hospital is Not a War Crime

Montreal Simon - Fri, 04/29/2016 - 16:25

On the night of October 3, 2015 A U.S. AC-130 gunship attacked a hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz, run by the humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders.

And despite frantic calls from MSF doctors kept up its attack for half an hour.

Forty two staff members and patients were killed, many of them burned to death in their beds.

But today the Pentagon released a report claiming that murderous assault was not a war crime. 
Read more »

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 04/29/2016 - 16:19
Radical Face - Welcome Home

The World's First "Buy Before You Fly" Warplane Explained

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 04/29/2016 - 13:02

It's customary when a country buys an ultra-expensive bit of aerial kit to get all the contenders for the contract to bring their warplanes to one place for a competitive fly-off. They go head to head in exercises to determine just how well they perform and hold up in a full range of mission scenarios - air defence, air superiority, tactical strike, ground support, precision bombing, patrol, the whole deal. Each contender is graded on each category. Points are also given for the reliability of the aircraft, how much time it takes to turn it around, how many missions it manages to fly each day over the length of the exercise.

The world's costliest and most controversial light bomber is the only warplane that doesn't "do" competitive fly-offs. That's because it does a few things somewhat better than the others but far more things considerably worse.

Just getting airborne is one of those things that the F-35 doesn't do terribly well. At a recent mock deployment of six of the Lightning II warplanes at Mountain Home AFB in Idaho only one was able to boot up its software on a readiness exercise. One out of six was able to answer the bell. That's 600-million dollars (USD) of warplanes to get just one F-35 into the air.

“The Air Force attempted two alert launch procedures during the Mountain Home deployment, where multiple F-35A aircraft were preflighted and prepared for a rapid launch, but only one of the six aircraft was able to complete the alert launch sequence and successfully takeoff,” Gilmore wrote. “Problems during startup that required system or aircraft shutdowns and restarts – a symptom of immature systems and software–prevented the other alert launches from being completed.”
Perhaps more troublesome for the F-35 program, overall, is the fact that software stability seems to be getting worse. U.S. Marine Corps F-35Bs loaded with an earlier version of the software are reportedly the most stable, enjoying up to eight hours between “software stability events,” military lingo for glitches in one of the aircraft’s computer programs. The Marine Corps has already declared its F-35s combat ready, though Gilmore acknowledged that in real-world combat the F-35B would require assistance acquiring targets and avoiding threats.
So, if the Americans can't get the damned things to work at home, what are the chances they'll allow the F-35 to be put to the test abroad for "small order" customers such as Canada? There are some things you just don't do in public. Testing the F-35 is one.
But these are glitches and, of course, the manufacturer and the US military have for years been assuring everyone that they'll all be sorted out in due course only they've been saying this for years and still, today, here we are with more of the same old, same old.
And let's remember, the F-35 is getting old. Its design is closing in on 20-years. The programme itself began in 1994. The Lockheed prototype was selected for production in 2001. Even today there's no expectation that flight testing will be completed before 2019.
Meanwhile the adversaries that the F-35 could conceivably be needed to attack have looked at America's 20-year old idea and figured out ways to counter it, including with stealth warplanes of their own design.
John Ivison may still sing the praises of the F-35 but, then again, he writes for the National Post which means his credibility is genetically impaired.

Trudeau's Betrayal

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 04/29/2016 - 10:28

To Murray Dobbin, Justin Trudeau is looking more and more like Stephen Harper with each passing month. C-51, BDS, the TPP and so much more. But it's the venal Saudi arms deal, to Dobbin, is the icing on Trudeau's cake:

...the stunningly stupid decision to go ahead with a $15-billion sale of light-armoured vehicles (LAVs) to Saudi Arabia has the potential to expose Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a phony.

You could hardly design an issue so perfectly fitted to reveal a government with a progressive public face contradicted by a ruthless disregard for human rights. It raises the question of whether the spin doctors simply misjudged the extent of public revulsion or whether there is something deeper going on. Is it really just about jobs or is there a hard-nosed commitment, inherited from the Conservatives, to a backward Middle East foreign policy?

Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion has been severely damaged by his performance on the Saudi arms sale file. First he said the government couldn't get out of the contract, claiming it was legally committed by the Conservative government's actions. That was not true.

Dion compounded his credibility problem with another misleading claim that he was following Canadian law in signing the export permits.

After a Globe and Mail editorial accused him of hypocrisy for approving the sale, Dion attacked the newspaper, claiming that "the Foreign Affairs Minister may block the exports permits at any time if there were serious evidence of misuse of the military equipment." That is, presumably, after our LAV's have been used to attack civilians.

According to Belkis Wille, Yemen researcher for Human Rights Watch, "The Saudis have used such vehicles to violently suppress peaceful protests in eastern Saudi Arabia in 2011 and 2012."

Is there a "reasonable risk" that it will do so again? Everything we know about the new and far more aggressive regime in Riyadh today says yes. In January the regime executed 47 prisoners (most by beheading) on a single day. The regime executed 151 in 2015 -- the most in 20 years.

The Saudi government described those on Jan. 2 executed as "terrorists," but the law defining terrorism includes anyone who demands reform, exposes corruption or otherwise engages in dissent or violence against the government. We don't know how many were executed for acts of violence and how many for "dissent."
And, Dobbin notes, Trudeau has shown himself faithfully Harperian when it comes to Israel:
Trudeau supported a Conservative resolution that would have the government "condemn" any advocacy for the BDS (boycott, divest, sanction) campaign for Palestinian rights. He also opposes the European Union's new initiative that require products from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories to be clearly labeled. And there seems to be little if any movement on Trudeau's commitment to re-engage with Iran.

In short, so far, Trudeau's Mideast policy looks disturbingly like Harper's.

It is the same and again we're reminded that the son is not the equal of the father, not remotely. He seems to more closely resemble the guy we just threw out.

Wow. Greenland's Summer Melt Starts a Month Early - With a Bang !!

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 04/29/2016 - 09:50
Imagine a cubic kilometre of ice water. That's a gigatonne, one billion metric tonnes of water. Here's the kicker - in a single day. It happened on the Greenland ice sheet this month. See the blue spike below? Scientists couldn't believe it was true - until they checked.

"Everything is melting", said Aqqaluk Petersen, a resident of Nuuk, Greenland's capital.

The heatwave, Greenland style, added to other evidence that the top of the world continues to warm about twice as fast as the rest of the planet.

"Greenland is really the big show when it comes to ice melt," said Matt King, Professor of Polar Geodesy and an ARC Future Fellow at the University of Tasmania. "It's probably losing as much ice as all the small glaciers around the world combined, and probably more than Antarctica.

"Greenland is being eaten away from away from above and from the edges."

Arctic air temperatures have risen about two degrees since the 1960s. Ocean temperatures are also warming, thawing Greenland glaciers in contact with surrounding seas.

Since satellite records date only from the 1970s, some natural fluctuations may be in play, he said. Still, Greenland's early April warmth was consistent with other signals of a warming planet.

"Such a big spike in melting so early is in complete agreement with what you'd expect when we heat the atmosphere so much," Professor King said, referring to the impact from humans burning fossil fuels and releasing other greenhouse gases.

Trump Attracts Some Very Ugly Supporters

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 04/29/2016 - 09:32

She came to America with her parents 26-years ago to escape from anti-semitism in Russia. Since then Julia Ioffe has established herself as a journalist writing for the New York Times Magazine, Foreign Policy, The New Republic and other news outlets.

However a recent profile of the next former Mrs. Donald J. Trump, Melania, Ioffe wrote for GQ, has earned her a barrage of anti-semitic hate mail from Trump supporters.

Here are a couple of photos she's received:

The sender of this one advised her to swallow her diamonds.

The next one came with the message, "they know about you."

Someone reaches her by phone playing Hitler speeches. Last night she got a call from a business, Aftermath Services, enquiring about "homicide clean up" she had ordered.

Dear Ms. McKenna, Don't Be Shy, Spread the Word

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 04/29/2016 - 08:51
Canadian EnviroMin, Catherine McKenna, is onto something. She says the key to dealing with climate change impacts on the Arctic is to have "real conversations" with the Innu who inhabit the area.

Hmm - real adult conversations - what a fabulous idea!! Kudos to you, Catherine McKenna. Bring it up next time Justin Trudeau gathers all those men and women - you know, the cabinet - and tell them they should try doing the same thing, having adult conversations with all Canadians about what is and is going to be affecting their lives and their children's lives. And, remember, the "adult" part means no lying. Sure it's going to be hard but you have to tell the truth.

Or did I get that wrong? Are "real conversations" only for the Inuit? Do the rest of us have to keep making do with an endless stream of bullcrap from Ottawa?

McKenna's "real conversations" teaser paled compared to her counterpart, US interior secretary, Sally Jewell's more pointed assessment that climate change spreading through the Arctic cannot be stopped and countries with northern populations will have to prepare for "climate refugees."

Really? Well, who knew? Oh, everybody - okay.

Do you ever get the sense that, while Harper just denied everything or acted as though challenges such as climate change were irrelevant, this Trudeau government prefers to play dumb, naive and then, eventually, surprised by oh so determined to act - maybe, somehow, at some point. It's kinda hard to miss that hazmat pipelines are a bigger priority than climate change with the government of the day, just like the government of days past. On that one, Ms. McKenna has already played the "national  unity" card to get herself and Mr. Trudeau off the hook.

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 04/29/2016 - 06:45
Assorted content to end your week.

- Michael Klare writes about the future direction of the oil industry - which looks to involve cashing out quickly than building anything lasting:
At the beginning of this century, many energy analysts were convinced that we were at the edge of the arrival of “peak oil”; a peak, that is, in the output of petroleum in which planetary reserves would be exhausted long before the demand for oil disappeared, triggering a global economic crisis. As a result of advances in drilling technology, however, the supply of oil has continued to grow, while demand has unexpectedly begun to stall.  This can be traced both to slowing economic growth globally and to an accelerating “green revolution” in which the planet will be transitioning to non-carbon fuel sources. With most nations now committed to measures aimed at reducing emissions of greenhouse gases under the just-signed Paris climate accord, the demand for oil is likely to experience significant declines in the years ahead. In other words, global oil demand will peak long before supplies begin to run low, creating a monumental challenge for the oil-producing countries.

This is no theoretical construct.  It’s reality itself.  Net consumption of oil in the advanced industrialized nations has already dropped from 50 million barrels per day in 2005 to 45 million barrels in 2014. Further declines are in store as strict fuel efficiency standards for the production of new vehicles and other climate-related measures take effect, the price of solar and wind power continues to fall, and other alternative energy sources come on line. While the demand for oil does continue to rise in the developing world, even there it’s not climbing at rates previously taken for granted. With such countries also beginning to impose tougher constraints on carbon emissions, global consumption is expected to reach a peak and begin an inexorable decline.According to experts Thijs Van de Graaf and Aviel Verbruggen, overall world peak demand could be reached as early as 2020.

In such a world, high-cost oil producers will be driven out of the market and the advantage — such as it is — will lie with the lowest-cost ones. Countries that depend on petroleum exports for a large share of their revenues will come under increasing pressure to move away from excessive reliance on oil. - Meanwhile, Murray Dobbin discusses how the Libs are helping Saudi Arabia to continue and expand its human rights abuses. The CP notes that they're also following in the Cons' footsteps in limiting workers' ability to refuse unsafe work. And Alison calls attention to the farce that is the Libs' excuse for public consultation on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

- Patrick Cain reports on the plummeting number of tax evasion prosecutions in Canada. (And it's worth noting that the starting point hardly represented an obvious deterrent to begin with.)

- Brian Hutchinson points out the odour of corruption emanating from Christy Clark's donor-funded income. And Sarah Mills highlights Brad Wall's similar payments for service.

- Finally, David Walters offers a look at the options and choices facing families at several points on the income spectrum - though it's worth pointing out that the people included in article skew far higher than the U.S.' actual income distribution.

Four Days In A Wild Weather Week

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 04/29/2016 - 06:16
I admit I am a bit of a weather geek. To witness nature's fury and our powerlessness in its face is truly humbling. However, the other reason for my fascination with our increasingly volatile and destructive weather is the rueful recognition of our collective refusal to make any changes that might mitigate the worst effects of climate change. If given the option of sacrifice (losing some convenience, changing our lifestyle, taming our bloodlust for beef, paying higher prices for energy, etc.) or enduring the destructive force of climate change, it seems that for almost everyone, both leaders and the led, the choice is lamentably clear.

We get what we deserve:

Recommend this Post

Stephen Harper and the Secret Society

Montreal Simon - Fri, 04/29/2016 - 05:37

Well no doubt Stephen Harper is waiting anxiously to see whether his lawyer's letter on the Duffy trial has convinced Canadians that he acted honourably.

And helped repair his soiled legacy.

But since we know he's doomed to disappointment.

I'd be fascinated to know what he might tell the members of his favourite secret society, when he pays them a visit this weekend.
Read more »

In Harperland, Stupidity Rules

Northern Reflections - Fri, 04/29/2016 - 05:30
Perhaps stupidity is a virus. Despite the verdict in the Duffy trial, Michael Harris writes, stupidity still rules in a lot of roosts:

A significant part of the Canadian Establishment is not only blaming a victim — it’s blaming an exonerated victim. Some want even more punishment for a man the courts decided deserved no punishment at all.
Consider RCMP Assistant Commission Gilles Michaud who

actually wrote congratulatory letters to the investigators who worked on the Duffy case and helped come up with the 31 charges against him.

Never mind the fact that the Mounties never “got their man” on anything, not even jaywalking. In the wake of the court’s verdict, the RCMP decided it was “inappropriate to comment”.Small wonder. It’s hard to speak with a mouthful of crow, even if you’re the assistant commissioner who held the splashy press conference announcing all those bogus charges. Besides, it gets harder to congratulate the team for a 31-0 blowout when they’re on the doughnut-hole end of the score.
The there was the National Posts's Andrew Coyne:

When a judge issues a stunning rebuttal of a vicious and baseless criminal case that made salacious headlines at Duffy’s expense for years, it’s simply not normal to argue that ‘acquittal does not equal innocence’. That’s what Andrew Coyne wrote in the immediate aftermath of Justice Charles Vaillancourt’s decision. Some people have forgotten that, as an accused person, you answer only the charges as they are brought against you — not every aspersion cast against your character that comes along.
And also in the pages of the Post, there appeared an article by Richard Staley, Harper's lawyer, who claimed that Harper acted honourably:

As soon as the laughter dies down, I’d like to ask each and every reader to judge Staley’s claim based on what came out at Duffy’s trial — especially the part about the PMO’s “ruthless” behaviour.

Staley says he was instructed by Harper to cooperate with the RCMP and that doing so was politically inexpedient — which, he argues, offers some sort of evidence of good faith.

He talks about it as if Harper had a choice. He didn’t. If he hadn’t cooperated, it would have been seen immediately as a cover-up — and rightly so. Is Staley really suggesting that the former PM had the option of suppressing all the emails that put the lie to Harper’s claim that only Duffy and Nigel Wright were in on this deal? That it was somehow selfless of him to hand them over?

Besides, had Harper refused to cooperate, it could have led to him being subpoenaed. Everyone remembers how much he likes answering questions. Imagine the fun he would have had answering them under oath.

Staley also points out (correctly) that there is a constitutional principle that prosecutorial decisions must be free of partisan concerns. He forgets that Harper was the serving PM who congratulated the RCMP when they charged Duffy, through his spokesman Jason MacDonald. Harper was also the PM who directly involved the RCMP in the Helena Guergis affair when he had Ray Novak write on his behalf to the RCMP commissioner to pass on unfounded criminal allegations against her. (I might add that in the wake of her exoneration by the Mounties, she was kicked out of the Conservative caucus anyway. Harper rules.)
In Harperland, stupidity rules.



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