Saturday, March 31, 2012

GM Defunds Heartland Institute

General Motors, the world's largest carmaker, has confirmed that it is pulling funding from the Heartland Institute, an ultra-conservative thinktank known for its scepticism about climate change.

This is a result of the efforts of the much maligned Peter Gleick, who several months back conned Heartland out of some of their budget documents. And you know, I am all for measuring a person's contribution to the culture wars in strict $ terms. So I can fairly say that I have cost evil people $1,000s of Cdn $ for one reason or another. Mr. Gleick has single-handedly cost the Heartland Institute $15,000 directly and who knows how much more indirectly. Can any of those in the climate science community who have condemned him boast of doing more?

What Will Replace Section 13 Of The Canadian Human Rights Act

Rob Nicholson responds to my email.  Comments below:

Correspondence from the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada‏

Thank you for your correspondence concerning the Government’s proposed amendments to strengthen the hate crimes provisions of the Criminal Code. I regret the delay in responding.

As you are aware, on September 30, 2011, Conservative Member of Parliament Mr. Brian Storseth introduced Private Member’s Bill C-304, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (protecting freedom), into the House of Commons. The Bill proposes to repeal section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which empowers the Canadian Human Rights Commission to deal with complaints regarding the communication of hate messages by telephone or on the Internet.

Our government supports the repeal of section 13 as it has been found to be subjective and unnecessarily vague when it comes to informing Canadians about what can and cannot be said on the Internet. We firmly believe that the Criminal Code is the best vehicle for combating hate propaganda and we remain committed to the promotion and protection of free speech by all Canadians.

To that end, on February 14, 2012, the Government tabled in the House of Commons Bill C-30, the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act. Among other things, the Bill proposes to expand the definition of “identifiable group” for the crimes of inciting hatred in a public place likely to lead to a breach of the peace and the wilful promotion of hatred, which are found in section 319 of the Criminal Code. The criteria of national origin, age, sex, and mental or physical disability would be added to the current definition of “identifiable group” for these two offences. In addition, the criterion of national origin would be added to the definition of “identifiable group” for the offence of advocating or promoting genocide, contained in subsection 318(1) of the Criminal Code.

Thank you again for writing.
Yours truly,
The Honourable Rob Nicholson

If this is all they plan to do, some obvious problems:

1) The requirement that the AG must approve hate speech charges would appear to remain, which in practice means that such charges will be almost impossible to lay.  There were rumors going about that this requirement might be removed, but apparently no such luck.

2) Any expansion of the criterion can trigger a legal challenge to the criminal code provisions, which might mean section 319 falls and  the country's winds up being without any hate speech legislation.

3) The bill containing these new provisions is the infamous C-30, which the government appears to have already given up on.

So, not a very impressive response.

Friday, March 30, 2012

War Has Begun

B.C. First Nations are reacting with anger to the government's decision to retroactively shorten the regulatory review for the Northern Gateway pipeline project in British Columbia.

"This incredibly stupid move on the part of the Harper government will only serve to expedite the battle in the courtrooms and on the land itself," said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. He described the situation between B.C. aboriginals and the federal and provincial governments as "volatile."

This "pipeline is going to traverse the territories of literally dozens and dozens of First Nations. And all of them have said very clearly that they do not support the Northern Gateway project and that they will do everything that they can to stop this project," added Phillip.

Smug pricks like Paul Wells really don't understand what they are serving as the pathetic enablers of.  It will be B.C., which has never really considered itself part of "The West", vs. Alberta--hippies, rural eccentrics and natives vs. loud-mouthed cowboys in gold-plated  ten gallon hats. Wells thinks he can just sit this one out  whilst snapping his fingers to shitty jazz music.  He doesn't really understand that a federal government that says Canada when it really means Calgary is a threat to national unity.

One good thing, though, about the government's new position is that, depending on the timing, B.C. Lib Leader Christy Clark might get smoked out and have to reveal her real position re Northern Gateway.  Before, the decision's timing  was sure to land on the other side of the next provincial election.  Now, who knows?  I would love to see Ms. Clark run on the platform of despoiling B.C. for the benefit of Alberta.

The Budget And The Environment: The Deniers Liked It

 A statement from the ICSC:

Canadian federal Budget a step forward on climate change

Ottawa, Canada, March 29, 2012: “The International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC) congratulates the Government of Canada for removing from the federal Budget the misleading language of previous Budgets concerning clean air and climate change,” said Tom Harris, executive director ICSC which is headquartered in Ottawa, Canada. “In past years, this serious science mistake, appearing repeatedly in such an important document, contributed to public confusion about the distinctly different approaches needed to address these two issues.

Meanwhile, what the budget means for the future of the Northern Gateway Pipeline:

The Northern Gateway pipeline project could make B.C.’s famous battles over clear-cut logging of the 1980s and 1990s look like a university residence food-fight. While we have been given plenty of advance warning of this coming reckoning, today’s budget appears to me to be a declaration of political war on the natural resources-environmentalist front.   

I don't think the federal government knows what its got itself into here, but if its a war they want...

Although that said, when you read this bit from APTN re the streamlining of approvals processes for projects like Northern Gateway:

What specific, detailed changes the overhaul will bring remains to be revealed, but federal officials speaking on background, said all projects currently awaiting approval will be reviewed during a so-called “transition period.”

...its hard to imagine too much time being cut from the 18 months set aside to review it.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Stéphane Gendron In Dutch With CBSC

While trolling the The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council for other reasons I noticed this special announcement:

The CBSC has received a large number of very similar complaints concerning the March 22, 2012 broadcast at 10 AM of Face à face on V, exceeding the CBSC’s technical processing capacities. Accordingly, while the CBSC will be dealing with this broadcast under its normal process, it is not able to accept any further complaints. The results of the CBSC’s investigation will be made public in due course

Face à face is Stéphane Gendron's show.  Gendron is a small time shock-jock best known for the fact that he can get elected mayor in rural Quebec while engaging in some pretty extreme tirades about folks he doesn't like, in particular Israeli folks.

This time, as far as I can tell, he's in trouble for an interview he did with Quebec student leader  Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois of CLASSE, a student union behind the recent anti-tuition hike protests in that province.  Probably called Nadeau a hippy or something.  In any case, the kids seem to be fighting back.  Good on them. 

Rob Anders Does More Than Just Sleep

 He thinks deep deep thoughts.  From FreeD:

I got a letter from my MP Rob Anders and he mentioned that it would be nice to eliminate the GST before the next election.

I can't see them ditching it.  But still, I can see them lowering it as part of some "starve the beast" strategy.  And  with a new budget due, the timing of this little trial balloon is interesting.

Ezra Levant And The "Actual Facts"

 From a CBSC (Canadian Broadcast Standards Council) complaint I hadn't even heard about:

The CBSC has traditionally recognized that hosts of public affairs programs are entitled to hold and express their opinions on the topics discussed during those programs, even when those opinions are controversial, unpopular or provocative. 1 While Clause 7 of the CAB Code of Ethics provides that broadcasters must present all sides of a public issue and treat all subjects of a controversial nature fairly as part of balanced programming, the CBSC has also recognized that broadcasters are not required to bring to light all the divergent views on such topics within a single program. 2
These opinions must, however, be founded on actual facts, and the host cannot base his or her opinion on unproven information.
Yet, host Ezra Levant maintained several times throughout the entire program that Arts Habitat offered free housing to artists, when it was in fact a provincially and municipally (Edmonton) subsidized housing/studio program that is offered to eligible artists who are required to pay rent. His guest mentioned on one occasion that the housing in question is “free”, but otherwise referred to it as “subsidized”.

After watching the program and examining all the related documents, the Panel adjudicators unanimously determined that Sun News did not breach the provisions of Clause 7 of the CAB Code of Ethics as both guest and host were entitled to question the relevancy of taxpayer subsidized programs for artists. The Panel did, however, also rule unanimously that Sun News Network and its host Ezra Levant violated Clause 6 of that Code because the opinion broadcast was based on an erroneous premise.
Ezra gets in so much trouble with this whole "truth telling" stuff that its hard to keep up.  Here's my favorite bit from the decision:
On July 6, two days after the program at issue containing his assertions had aired, host Ezra Levant read an e-mail on the air that faulted him for not having verified the accuracy of his information, and pointed out, among other things, that the Arts Habitat program is a subsidized housing and studio program and not a free housing program. The host admitted his error, adding that his opinion remained unchanged with respect to public funding of subsidies for artists.

That's our Ezra; no matter what the facts are, his opinion doesn't change.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sounds Yummy

The Barrie Examiner has a real weeper about the fate of the Ontario horse-racing industry if the McGuinty Gov.  eliminates the slots-at-tracks agreement.  It ends with:

“It is a grim situation. If these horses aren’t making the owners money, they’ll have to sell them,” he [Essa Township horseman Stephen Byron] said. “What are we going to do with these horses? It could snowball and in the worst-case scenario, they could go to slaughter.”

If they go to slaughter, Mr. Byron, I'll be happy to eat 'em.  One of my favorite youthful memories is of chowing down on horse steaks in France.  Very lean, very can almost hear them neigh.  But if we must talk compromise, I would be OK if the McGuinty Libs just reduced the government handout to Ontario racetracks rather than killing them entirely.  The rural types that depend on such government largess should be eased off their entitlements rather than being forced to go cold pony... I mean turkey.  Bah Hah!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Daniel Everett And The Pirahã

 A bit too pooped to write anything serious this morning, so here's a nice interview with linguist Daniel Everett re The Pirahã tribe of the Amazon Basin:

All languages have unique characteristics, but the Pirahã just seems to have so many unique characteristics. Things that we didn't expect. I mean the absence of numbers, the absence of counting and colours, the absence of creation myths, and the refusal to talk about the distant past or the distant future. A number of things like this, including, the special characteristic of recursion, the ability to keep a process going in the syntax forever.

Actually, a number of Australian languages are also mathematically impoverished in the same fashion as Pirahã.

In any case, my point here is not the particulars of Everett's argument, but just that he seems to me to be one helluva guy.  I argued philosophy of language with him via email some years back,  and he was happy to share a few unpublished notes with me.  For my part, I told him his view was quite Wittgensteinian and he should read the PI or Blue and Brown Books.  I don't know if he ever did.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

OK, I'm Out

Attending NDP conventions isn't supposed to be my full time job.  Rumour has it they're handing out sleeping bags and we're all supposed to sleep on the floor.  Not happening.  Mulclair will eventually win and give his speech to a convention center full of sleepy, disgruntled socialists sometime Sunday morning.  He'll be up against Return of The Swamp Monster on the sci-fi Network, so he should kill in that time slot.  I'm not sticking around for it.

Rumour is he'll be "conciliatory", and then tomorrow the purges begin.

Update: Yeah, its Mulclair.  They just announced and are now playing victory theme.  More drums.

Third Ballot; Bottom Line

Fuck me, I think we're off to a 4th ballot unless Topp backs down.

Its Descended Into CHAOS!

The computers have crashed and the vote was going to be delayed!  Then the announcement announcing the delay was delayed!  Now they have successfully announced the delayed announcement!  The delay is officially in effect, until 5:40 when things are supposed to get back on track.  I'm getting flashbacks to the Democratic Convention of Chicago, '68.

The NDP official position is that its all a DOS attack.  On the other hand, I suspect Kinsella peed on a server.  But if he threatens to sue I will retract that statement. 

And its as though the whole city has decided to join in the convention spirit.  A chunk of glass fell from the Trump Tower and the cops have sealed off Bay & Adelaide.  I think that's Stephen Taylor's fault.  He's been lurking about the place something fierce.  But, again, first time a lawyer calls this statement goes bye bye.

As for me, I'm waiting patiently for goddamn history to happen.  Its happening awefully slow.

2nd Round; Bottom Line

-- Total vote count went down.  The rumoured B.C. surge (late waking B.C. voters casting on-line ballots) did NOT occur.  LPoC should take note; on-line attendance will disappoint you.
--Peggy Nash drops out.  Where does she go?  Apparently she has released her people.
--Cullen didn't pick up much steam at all.  He will not be the guy.
--Topp has a long way to go.  Mulcair will probably grind this one out.

First Results; Bottom Line

Mulclair comes in at the low end of predictipns;Topp exceeds expectations.  Dewar drops out.   Nash disappoints.  Will she drop out?  This may go a little longer than some folks thought.  Also turnout about half expected.

NDP Convention: Day 2

Others have given a better sum up of yesterday's events than I could, so I won't bother.  Beyond some erratic speechifying, the Dippers pulled off a pretty solid day 1. 

However, while nothing is certain, there seems to be a distinct worry among NDP insiders that this thing could all end too quickly, without having generated a sufficient degree of drama and excitement.  My understanding is that live tv coverage of the proceedings will not begin until 1:00 pm.  Given that round one results will be available at 10, and that organizers think they can get things ready for the 2nd go-round in less than two hours, the contest has to run at least three votes if people at home are going to see the big wind-up in real time.  There is a small but definite possibility that when the big media players swing their cameras towards the convention floor they find people mopping up and going home after an overwhelming Thomas Mulcair victory.

Meanwhile here's some video of yesterday's real WTF moment--NDP MP Charlie Angus doing a rap duet with some guy I've never heard of.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Peggy Nash Survives Major Teleprompter Malfunction

pSuddenly, the text started zipping up the screen then it stopped, wound back, and then started zipping by again.  Peggy stumbled a bit, improvised re her collective bargaining victories, and the wind-up music kicked.  Peggy was ill-served on this one.  And the two municipal pols she brought in flubbed their lines.

My favorite so far is still Cullen, who went entirely lo tech ; Mulcair wailed through his text too fast, but has a nice voice.

Update: it appears that Nash went off-script and the techie was scrolling back and forth to figure out where she was supposed to be.   Finally, they brought in the music and killed her mic. And Mulcair's army of live drummers impeded his advance to the stage such that when he finally arrived he had burnt though half of his speech time.

Paul Dewar Is Apparently Going To Rap His Convention Speech

And he is not even slightly funky.

Cullen was quite eloquent re Northern Gateway.  Horwath got in a good line about Bob Rae knowing how to do what's right by Bob Rae.  That got a roar out of some of the Libloggerspresent.  Dewar's skillz, however, are truely inadequate.

Update:  Dewar actually spoke in the end.  His speech didn't impress me much but it made me notice how little french Cullen's presentation contained.  Hmm.  Wonder what this signifiies.

Another update:  The soundtrack to Mulcair's video lead in is mostly white noise, something that sounds like a jack-hammer, and drums.  It is starting to make me angry, which may be the point.

You Know The NDP Is In Town

..the TTC operators are extra surly.

On my way to the convention center, a senior got on the bus in front of me with a couple of obsolete tokens.  He told the driver that was all he had, and several other people on board offered to cover.  Naturally, a standoff ensued, with the driver calling both TTC security and police.  When my bus pulled up and a load of disgruntled passengers got aboard, two cop cars had blocked another lane of traffic.  I think the senior got away clean.

Later, these passengers just WOULD NOT move back no matter how much the driver swore, although little old ladies were accommodated.

And so the TTC Staff vs passenger cold war continues apace.  Why cant we all just get along? Anyway, things are taking off down on the convention floor. A welcoming prayer...

Fox News North Gets Sued!

Sources tell me that Ottawa human rights lawyer Richard Warman has launched a defamation suit against Sun TV. His suit pertains to an episode of Michael Coren's The Arena on which fellow Sun TV employee Ezra Levant guested. I have also learned that Kathy Shaidle of Five Feet of Fury has been served as well; I believe this is for hosting the episode in question on her blog.

This may be history in the making. Unfortunately, George Soros abandoned his suit after Fox News North issued a grovelling apology, so this will almost certainly count as the first one to go forward against the struggling network.

Note: I should note that Soros actually threatened to sue the T.O. Sun for a column Ezra wrote; he did not sue Sun TV.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fox News North Dumped By Parliamentary Cable TV System

 3 Days Ago!  And nobody has even noticed!  Don't know how many can get to Mark Bourrie's Facebook page.  But you should try and friend the guy.  He's a media insider.   He knows all sorts of deep shit. A cap of his Facebook post is here:

Pro-Northern Gateway Pipeline Astroturf Group Struggles To Find Warm Bodies

The Northern Gateway Alliance, a community coalition established to support the project, was in Grande Prairie for a reception to meet its local members and try to increase membership Wednesday night.


The alliance bills itself as being independent, however Enbridge does pay Kinsley for his work.

Note that this is in Alberta where they're struggling to find supporters.  They are also, according to the article, "pushing hard" for memberships within B.C. and, presumably, finding even less than the 50 around Grande Prairie.

Kathryn Marshall Steps Back From Ethical Oil

The New head-shills for EO are Jordan Graham and Jamie Ellerton.  Jamie is an ex-Kenney aide who also did time with Tim Hudak.  So behind the scenes puppet master Ezra Levant is keeping things all in the Tory family.   Jordan served as city councillor in Fredericton, New Brunswick and describes himself as a Libertarian.  Oh my!

Kathryn will apparently still blog for the astro-turf group on an occasional, but I suspect after her famous on-air meltdown we won't be seeing her on tv as much.  Alas, the world has become a little less blonde.

Goodbye, Kathryn, goodbye!

Update: On October 2, 2015, Ms. Marshall contacted me and suggested that my original post title was misleading.  I have changed it to reflect her remarks.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More Sackings At Sun TV?

Their full schedule page shows this:
First Look was  Neelam Verma; Newswire was Jacqui Delaney.  Couple that with this tweet from Lorne Gunter (National Post):
...and I think we have some staff rotation.

I'm In!

Got my confirming email yesterday, so that makes it official.  I'll be blogging the NDP leadership convention this weekend.  My prep work is almost complete, and I'm down to choosing which t-shirt to wear on day 2.

Any blogging I do will be relatively gentle and non-partisan--like a friendly anthropologist come to study the curious ways of some new tribe.  I do, however, intend to investigate a story I have heard over and over re NDP conventions--that they don't really know how to par-TAY. That the wings in the hospitality suites are made from tofu; that you have to read at least five Marxist-Leninist tracts and pass a test at the end; and that its impossible to get laid.

I can't test this last thesis directly, as the wife would kill me.  But if anyone manages to get lucky over the course of the weekend and can provide confirmatory trophies, please drop me an email.

Sun News Tries To Raise Funds

Apparently nobody showed up for Ezra's Freedom Weekend.  You can deduce this from the fact that when you  google "Ezra Levant" and "Freedom Weekend" you get basically nothing.  Not a single news story, blog-post, tweet, twit-pic...nothing.  The gang at FreeD bowed out; the Shaidle's were busy waving placards in front of a mosque somewhere; Dr. Roy apparently went to the opera.
And if you watch some Sun TV clips on youtube these days you will find they can ramble on for 15 or 20 minutes without a single advertiser interrupting to to hawk their wares.  Not Dr. Ho with his inserts, not the silver merchant that paints himself silver, not nobody.  Maybe these guys decided they're too classy for Fox News North.

So, when there's no dough coming in, what do you do?

You try something that didn't work the first time.

Now, I'm willing to link to the Maple Leaf Dinner sign-up page because I know you won't sign-up.  Either will anyone else.  Pay a $1,000 to sit between Ezra and Adler?  Sounds like a good evening to spend playing mini-golf with the guys from the office instead.

By the way the Canadian Centre for Policy Studies is these people

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Nathan Cullen Testifies

The most LPoC friendly Dipper lays it out:

[Nathan Cullen's] proposal is simple: In the next campaign, the goal would be to choose joint candidates in the ridings now held by Tory MPs. The decision about whether to co-operate with another party would be left up to the local riding association.

If it works, card-carrying New Democrats, Liberals and Greens would gather in their constituency to choose a single candidate from one of the parties to run head-on against the Conservative.

"If it works" is a big if.  In my extremely limited experience of riding level politics, the further you go down in the party structure the bigger the divas get, clutching their tiny allotment of power close and closer.  It wouldn't surprise me if the local riding associations reject this scheme en masse, preferring to fight the good fight under whatever party banner and lose rather than compromise and win.

No.  A merger of parties has to be like a merger of companies. The lower-downs don't get a choice.   Efficiencies have to be achieved and, unfortunately, people have to be fired or otherwise wrenched from their entitlements.  Like Harper did with the Alliance and the Federal PCs. 

Its painful.  I'm not sure how much some of the merger cheerleaders realize this.

Randy Hillier Has Left The Building

 ...or at least quit the OLA.  Over this.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Expect A Lot More Of This Kind Of Thing

I am not sure that Bob Rae, given his obvious political skills, couldn't  transcend it with a good campaign performance.   On the other hand, maybe not.  Certainly, if there is anyone on offer in '13 without his baggage and even two-thirds of his charisma, then that person would be the better choice.  Bob Rae if necessary, but not necessarily Bob Rae.

Speaking of charismatic politicians, Gerard Kennedy might attempt a come-back.  He definitely has the hair to lead this nation to greatness.  I remember, though, finding his last go round as leadership candidate a bit light on substance, and at the time his French was said to be weak.  If Gerard up his game this time out, then maybe...

Harper Brings Down The Hammer On Another Faith-Based Group

From Gruending:

The hammer that had earlier landed on faith-based organizations such as KAIROS and the Mennonite Central Committee has now fallen on the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P). Michael Casey, D&P’s executive director, has just written an emergency letter to the organization’s local volunteer leaders in Catholic dioceses throughout the country. He informs them that D&P has just heard from CIDA on a funding proposal made back in July 2010. “We have finally received the government’s response,” Casey writes. “It is not exactly what we were hoping for.” That is a considerable understatement. Casey writes that CIDA, which had provided D&P with $44.6 million in the years 2006-11, has chopped that amount by two-thirds, to a total of $14.5 million over the next five years.

From my perspective, the most interesting bit from the article is this:

Some of the church’s more conservative members in the pew have never accepted D&P’s preference for justice over charity. They also accuse the organization of supporting international development partners who do not always adhere to the church’s line on family planning.

The folks behind Lifesite News have been conducting a vendetta against D&P re this latter issue for ages.  It wouldn't surprise me if they haven't been whispering into Jason Kenney's ear, and this is the result.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Randy Hillier Breaks With Ontario Landowners Association

...over Crown Land Patents. 

While IANAL, some of the powers ascribed to these documents by people at the OLA--wave it in front of a government official trying to gain access to your property and he will apparently melt--seem downright bizarre.  Furthermore, Lanark MPP Randy Hillier seems to have contacted a real lawyer, and as a result is now expressing doubt over this particular arrow in the OLA's strategy quiver:

Dear friends in the Landowners; 

There has been much written and said regarding Crown Land Patents, but most, if not all, that you have heard is either false or misleading. As the founding President of both the Lanark and Ontario Landowners, I feel I have an obligation to caution you regarding much of the information that is out there, and provide you with some facts and informed positions on Crown Patents.

There follows a recitation of these facts, after which Randy concludes that Crown Land Patents do not override the principles of common law, and cannot therefore keep the government off your land.

This has not made them happy at the OLA, and today President Tom Black posted a response.  It begins:

It is with great sadness that I respond to a letter that was sent to the Ontario Landowners Association (OLA) members on Sunday, March 11, 2012. In this letter, Randy Hillier MPP for Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington and one of the original founders of the OLA informed the membership that he no longer supports the direction of the OLA and specifically our quest to discover the value of the Land Patent/Crown Grants as per our property rights.

Mind you, some of the OLA membership have not taken Hillier's musings with such equanimity, and have lashed out instead.  For example:

Nick Vandergragt I am very sorry Randy, but you blew it big time with this. I only hope we can do enough damage control to avoid a major setback.


Andrew Phillips: Randy Hillier is a sell out. You could tell that when he backed off on closing the Ontairo Human Rights Commission.

Who says they don't know how to have fun out in Lanarck?

New Keystone XL Route Still Likely To Attract Protests

From Inside Climate News:

"A relatively modest jog around the Sandhills"—that's how one TransCanada executive describes the Keystone XL oil pipeline's new route through Nebraska, which is expected to be released in the next few weeks.

But while the path will avoid the Nebraska Sandhills—a region of grass-covered sand dunes that overlies the critically important Ogallala aquifer--it could still pass through areas above the Ogallala, where the water supply is vulnerable to the impacts of an oil spill.


"If they're not going to be generous about the Sandhills boundary," we're going to continue to protest, she said. "TransCanada is putting in as little effort as they can. They're not taking our water and land seriously."

The problem for TransCanada is that the environmental assessment done on the pipeline was pretty thorough.  And it wasn't rocket science either.  You simply tally up how many property owners will be effected, how many streams and other sensitive areas will be crossed, and so on. The route with the fewest number of trouble spots is by definition the safest from an environmental perspective   And as I wrote previously:

...the bottom line is that the proposed route is almost certainly the best among the available alternatives. Thus any rejig simply transfers the environmental risk to some place other than Sandhills, and increases it overall. If the Obama administration can't get behind the current route, it would be even more difficult to get behind any of its major competitors. And note too that Nebraska lawmakers themselves are only talking about moves that would increase the pipe length by 30 or 40 miles, which doesn't sound like any of the possibilities considered in the EIS and which, therefore, will almost certainly not solve the problem of the pipe's crossing Nebraska's environmentally sensitive areas in the first place. 

Note that TransCanada is not even looking at a 30 or 40 mile extension anymore; they're now talking about a mere 20 miles of extra pipe.

So the only difference between the current and proposed routes will be that that TransCanada will have swapped one set of aggrieved land owners for another, probably slightly larger set.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Not Buying It Yet

Ivison's latest on the Robocon scandal:

The call that claimed to come from Elections Canada was sent out to 5,053 recipients in the 519 area code that covers Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Windsor and Sarnia.

But it was also received by 35 people in downtown Toronto, 74 in the 905 suburban belt surrounding the GTA, 14 in the 613 area code that includes Kingston and Ottawa, 22 in the 705 code area that includes Barrie, Sudbury and North Bay and one person in Thunder Bay.

The revelation that the Guelph robocall went out across Ontario may explain why there have been complaints in ridings such as Ottawa Vanier and Trinity Spadina — two ridings the Tories had no hope of winning.  People familiar with the Conservative Party’s voter information database say whoever orchestrated the Guelph call likely used the non-supporters list for the riding.

“The database makes mistakes. We try to fix the supporters side but no-one pays attention to the non supporters side — the data is not maintained,” said one source.


It’s likely the Tories will now use the information to suggest the voter suppression tactic was limited to Guelph. It seems entirely possible that people as far north as Thunder Bay received a robocall purporting to be from Elections Canada, redirecting them to vote at a mall in Guelph.

For this explanation to work, it would mean that the database CIMS contained the correct phone-number of the non-supporter contacted, but still had their old Guelph address.  In other words, the database was not annotated to show that the person had moved from Guelph since previously contacted--this particular field was not "maintained"--but it would contain an updated phone-number--this particular field was "maintained".

That seems unlikely.

Update: To put this a little more clearly, if the "non-supporters" end of CIMS had really been non-maintained, then robocalls employing that list would never have reached any riding outside of 519; calls would have gone to phone-numbers that were either no longer working or had been reassigned to someone else in the Guelph region.

Ethical Oil Drops Da Bomb

Somebody is a genius.  They even slip in a reference to the Vigna suit.

Details on the video makers here.

The Fruits Of Northern Gateway

CPoC: 30%, -16%
LPoC: 20%, + 7%
NDP: 40%, + 7%

Meanwhile, the same poll contains a few provincial numbers as well: pipe-line sitter Christy Clark stands at 31%; the Socialist hordes, who have declared against Northern Gateway, hold a commanding 45% of popular support; and the far-right pro-pollution Zalmbies languish at 14%.

Supporting Northern Gateway has already cost a few politicians their jobs.  Mark my words: it will claim a few more before it is finally abandoned.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

On Replacing The F-35

Today Bourque writes that:

Now, word that top military minds at DND HQ have been unleashed to determine potential alternatives with a view to bringing one on-stream in time to replace an aging fleet of CF-18s. Bourque has learned that two options have popped to the top of DND's wish list, the Dassault Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon, both incredibly advanced and lethal with twin-engined rockets that dovetail into Prime Minister Stephen Harper's desire to impose Canadian sovereignty on the Arctic frontier.

Let's compare, shall we?  First the French Jet:
Not bad.  Sharp nose, pert little body.  If it were human it would be blond and 5'2". 

Now the Typhoon:
Now there's a machine that's truly well-hung with death toys.  Eurofighter Typhoon is strong like Bull Moose!  Bust your bunker, and your momma's bunker too.  I know which one I want defending the Arctic.

Real Women In The Senate

Senator Terry M. Mercer gives government Senate Leader Marjory LeBreton the gears over anti-Gay hate group Real Women's being invited to help hand out Diamond Jubilee Medals in honour of Queen Elizabeth’s 60 years of service to Canada.  I don't think any of this has come up in the HOC; perhaps someone in that chamber could make an effort.  REAL Women really are bad news.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Interesting Words From Justin Trudeau

Though not quite as definitive as WK seems to think.  And Justin's particular suggestion-- a panicked attempt at merger in the runup to the 2015 election if the polls look crappy-- will not end well for anyone, let alone our poor nation.  And I am also not yet convinced that the the LPoC can't reclaim enough of Ontario and Que. to form a government on its own.

That said, if Justin is softening to the idea he can convince others to as well.  But the merger either has to get started AS SOON AS the LPoC has a new leader in place, or in the aftermath of 2015.  The timing doesn't work otherwise (because the merger process will be protracted and miserable and everyone will hate one another for awhile).

They Wanted A Debate

Ottawa A proposal from a Conservative backbencher to legally define fetuses as human beings - and reopen the abortion debate - will have its day in the House of Commons. let's have a debate:
...and then they won't want to have that debate again for a long, long time.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Farber On Uganda Gay Bashing Legislation

Bernie Farber speaks out on Uganda's “Kill the Gays” Bill:

As Canadians, we must be careful not to be lulled into complacency. After all, we live in a country that celebrates diversity, pluralism and acceptance. Canada was one of the first nations to legislate recognition of same-sex marriages. Sadly, many other places in the world are not as tolerant.

In October of 2009, Ugandan MP David Bahati submitted a private member’s bill targeting Uganda’s 500,000 gay and lesbian population. Labelled “Kill the Gays” bill, this draconian piece of legislation would have not only criminalized homosexuality but, in certain cases, mandated the death penalty.

Bernie winds up with:
As a human-rights leader, Canada has an obligation to speak out. As individuals who honour human life and dignity, we, too, have a responsibility to advocate for those less fortunate than us. We know that strong reactions from respected rights activists can have a salutary effect, and we’ve been able to make change when we work together for the common good. Silence is not an option.
In the past, John  Baird, Harper and company have spoken out on this legislation.  Let's hope they do so again, and soon.

The Shoe Is On The Other Foot

OTTAWA — While it has aggressively slammed environmental groups for using foreign dollars to finance a small portion of their budgets, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government is being tight-lipped about revelations that climate change skeptics in Canada are getting money from an American think-tank with corporate funding.

Another good piece from PostMedia's Mike De Souza, who's up for a National Newspaper award this year for his coverage of the AGW Denialist movement in Canada.  I just wish Mike had more competition.  It always surprises me how much coverage climate change issues get in the U.S. and U.K. press as opposed to Canada.  That's what happens, though, when the national government and too many of the nation's people are content to see themselves in the role of hewers of wood and bearers of bitumen.

Monday, March 12, 2012

B.C.ers Oppose Northern Gateway

46% oppose the construction of a pipeline in contrast to 37% who support it. The remaining 17% are undecided or do not have an opinion.

Not sure who commissioned this one, but the Mustel Group has done similar work for Forest Ethics previously.  So if its them that paid the piper take it  into account, though I trust a poll from Forest Ethics quite a bit more than one from Enbridge.

Where Did Pierre Poutine Get The Script?

“He didn’t come up with the same script in 30 ridings.”  Exactly. In both official languages.  That suggests organisation. 

On the other hand, I didn't know Andy Prescott was this guy.  I certainly hope he wasn't involved (as he maintains).  Andy's  one of the more likable ones.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


...confirmed.  Nine hours after the blogosphere got to it.  What's up Matt Rowe?  You sleep in?

Rumour: Reporter Who Broke Robocon Story Booted From Manning Conference Party!

Source.  Confirmed here (M. Rowe from Ipolitics)  among other places.

PS.  On a related matter, don't get too excited by Coyne's column from yesterday, mourning how the CPoC's has lost its principles.  He's been writing the same piece for years now.  They still let him into their events, which means that being reamed by Coyne, for a CPoC hardcore, is a bit like being spanked by your grandma.  It doesn't hurt that much.  It isn't meant to.

Update: Dawg has some details that I missed, including the fact that Glen McGregor of the Ottawa Citizen was there and left the party in solidarity with Maher.

Friday, March 09, 2012

GM To Cancel Funding For Heartland Institute?

They are thinking about it, and that's a start.  Another online pressure campaign may have paid off.

Suzuki Vs. The Canadian Senate

Amidst all the rhetorical hippy kicking and general wingnuttery in the Senate over Northern Gateway and the tar sands recently (for example Senator Finley and his "It should never be considered a charitable act to attack Canada's oilsands" line), Tory Senator Larry W. Smith issued a press release (on March 7, to be exact) from which I excerpt the following:

“This debate is about Canada’s economic sovereignty” stated Senator Smith. “The question we face is fundamental. Do we with natural resources that form 9.5% of our economy’s GDP, have the right to decide how we develop the riches our nation is blessed with,” questioned Senator Smith. “Or, are we willing to abdicate that right and grant it to those in other nations?”

“US foundations gave 1.5 million to David Suzuki’s group to produce a brochure called “Why You Shouldn’t Eat Farmed Salmon”. Is it a coincidence that Statistics Canada reported a 22.5 million dollar decline in BC salmon fishing revenue in 2009? Think this is just about the environment? Think again. This is about business. It is about promoting American business” stated Senator Smith.

The notion that a single pamphlet from Suzuki and co. could bring about a decline in the B.C. Salmon fishery is ridiculous on the face of it.  However, the foundation decided that a response to Senator Smith was in order. 

Senator Smith's news release also contained numerous errors. His claim about declining revenues from salmon fishing demonstrates confusion between salmon fishing and salmon farming. In fact, much of the drop in revenue from salmon fishing has been attributed to the rapid drop in world salmon prices caused by the glut of farmed salmon that entered the marketplace in the 1990s. If the Senator meant to refer to drops in salmon farming revenues, he should know that those have been driven by oversupply in the marketplace by the salmon farming industry in Chile and by global economic crises, not by environmental concerns.

A lot of foaming and empty threats from the Senate, methinks,signalling their own frustration with the way the pipeline wars have been going lately rather than any serious attempt to change tax laws regarding Canadian environmental groups.

A Cheery Chart For A Friday Morning

Unions Not In Decline (Quite)!  Time to slam a celebratory  6-pack in the parking lot, lads!  Then its off to build cars.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

I Shouldn't Find This Funny, But...

Real Women Should Not Be Choosing Diamond Jubilee Medal Winners

From Xtra:

A Canadian group whose homepage currently states that one of the biggest threats to families is the “homosexual lobby” and “the media” has been appointed to help government decide how to award Diamond Jubilee Medals to honour Queen Elizabeth’s 60 years of service to Canada.

REAL Women of Canada, a socially conservative, anti-feminist group that often acts as an intervenor in court cases that oppose queer rights, will recommend medals under the social and volunteer category.
If I were to explain in a few lines why they shouldn't be involved in this event, I would choose these lines from a 2003 speech by their National Vice President Gwen Landolt:

"Before I got involved in the UN people would talk about one world government and I said "oh yea, yea, yea", I didn't believe it. But after REAL Women has been to roughly 30 UN meetings I realize that the UN is a tool for maybe a handful of 300 people to control one world government, and certainly the international criminal court that is coming up is going to be used as the tool to attack the Catholic Church and all other religions. I know it's coming."

"It's all part of the same package. The homosexual issue is being used, discrimination, human rights are being bring in the whole thing and one world government..."

Now, this presser suggests to me that Xtra is a little late to the story and the medals have already been awarded.  But if you still want to send the GG a disapproving email, here is his contact page.


Update: I am informed that medals will be given out through the course of 2012, and RW's involvement will continue for that whole period of time.  So an email to the GG is definitely still in order.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

That Night I'll Be Bathing My Hamster

OTTAWA - Sun News Network has landed a knockout by winning the exclusive television rights to bring the hugely anticipated boxing match between Senator Patrick Brazeau and MP Justin Trudeau into the homes of Canadians.

...and so will everyone else.  FWIW, I'm betting on the FBI, but I won't tell you what that means because these days it might be considered be a racist expression.

If CPoC Central Contols Local Voters Lists Tory MP Vellacott indicates, then this makes it more likely that Robocon was planned by someone close to the center of the party rather than via fringe players.  It also contradicts the gov's last couple of days worth of talking points.  Another interesting day in the HOC, I suspect.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Robocon Update: How The CPoC Stiffed Sona

It was already common knowledge that the notion of Mike Sona's involvement in the Robocon affair was pushed by Conservative Party sources.  This bit from Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher's latest makes clear the exact path by which the rumour was transmitted:

Sona, who was director of communications for the Burke campaign, made headlines during the campaign when he tried to shut down a special ballot being held for university students by trying to grab the ballot box.

He was first associated with this story when Sun TV reported that senior Conservatives believed he was a person of interest to the investigation. Sona soon resigned from his job working for Conservative MP Eve Adams.

The original report can be found here.

As for all those stories re the Canadian public not caring about the scandal, I would simply urge patience.  Adscam surfaced in 2004.  Nobody cared until about two weeks into the '06 election until, suddenly, they did.  And its been a ball-and-chain around the LPoC's neck ever since.

Shmuley Boteach Carves B’nai Brith Canada A New One

You know I've seen the original clip (below).  Michael Coren says the Jews control Hollywood and use it as a platform to trash Christians.  Then he walks it back and suggests Jews don't control Hollywood, but are so influential there that they can use its resources to make movies that trash Christians. Its really that plain.

So it is passing strange strange that B'nai Brith's Frank Dimant should have so vigorously defended Coren. Or rather, it isn't given who Dimant typically pals around with,  but still it does him no credit that he should give Coren a pass on this stuff merely because he has defended Israel and bashed Muslims in the past.

 But Shumley says it better.  Let's turn the floor over to him:

Unfortunately, Dimant’s unbelievable defense of Coren has given him license to vilify me non-stop on his TV show while simultaneously defending the “saintly” Pope Pius. Indeed, Dimant himself sat in total silence while Coren made fun of my height, name, appearance, and then slandered my character. I have long given up hope of Sun TV reining in their shameful, immature, and unprofessional host and clearly they will give a TV show to absolutely anyone. But I did expect much more from a Jewish organization which purports to defend the Jewish community. We are a community that has been maligned for millennia and must be on our guard against defamation, and that applies also to extremist right-wing commentators like Coren who are friends with conservative Jews but who savagely attack liberal Jews. We are one people and dare not allow outsiders to divide us.

Truth be told, I gave Coren an out. Right after the interview was over, as he ordered me out of his studio, I asked him if he really wanted to be known for those comments. His reaction was to grow extremely aggressive, tell me I was threatening him, and then to have his Jewish intern attack me as well. I refused to leave the studio as he tried to evict me, enforcing my long-stated policy of ‘No tolerance for Intolerance.’ I told Coren he can call security, but I would not leave until I spoke to one of his superiors. Ever since, Coren’s attacks have lowered the bar on any semblance of journalistic professionalism or adult maturity, repeatedly attacking my name, appearance, and height. But though Coren chooses to be a disgrace to his profession and network, that does not mean that respected Jewish organizations need condone such shameful behavior.

Go get 'em Shmuley.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Libertarian Civil War!

When Libertarians fight, we all win.  Frankly, I can't see much difference if the Koch brothers own or merely control The Cato Institute; its credibility remains zero either way.

And as to WHY the brothers have decided to move now, well, I've heard several rumours.  One is that an audit of the Institute's computers revealed a stash of pictures where the head of Ayn Rand had been photo-shopped onto the bodies of various naked celebs.  Especially Ronald Reagan.  Another is that the Koch's were unhappy with Cato's support of the Libertarian Island Concept.  That's where Libertarians would buy a private island and govern it according to the principles of their political philosophy--ie. no laws, no restrictions on the ownership of fire-arms.  So: an island full of heavily armed nerds and no police or women anywhere in sight.  D'you remember that scene in Apocalypse Now where the army brings in Playboy Bunnys to entertain the troops and they dance around to CCR and the lads all go apeshit at the sight of undulating female flesh?
The same thing will happen on Libertarian Island first time Ann Coulter flies in to give a lecture. Naturally the Koch brothers want no part of that.

Dear Alison...

When your bitumen belches carbon into the atmosphere, remember that Ontario is rapidly closing all its coal-burning power plants to reduce our pan-Canadian footprint for greenhouse gases. I don’t hear you thanking us for that.

Alberta owns the resources under its soil. But if this were a truly functional federation, instead of soaking up so much revenue today you’d create a sovereign wealth fund (as other oil-rich countries have) to minimize currency distortions. I don’t hear you talking that up.

Cohn's piece in The Star this morning is quite brilliant.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Tory Story Changes Again

Now they're as confused as anyone about the Guelph robocalls.  And in one sense Dean Del Mastro is the perfect advocate for this position; he does indeed seem very confused. 

PS.  It was the Tories that told everyone that Mike Sona was suspect number one.  Just to be clear on that.

But So What?

Dalton McGuinty is right about the oil sands and its effect on Canadian manufacturers, says Andrew Coyne, but there's nothing anyone can do about it so we all might as well suck it up, or, better, move to Fort Mac with our shovels.

But if you let your resource extraction industries overwhelm your manufacturing sector, when the oil runs out you wind up with neither. And of course some things can be done about it, as this study suggests.  But these things would involve Alberta giving over some of its oil money to the feds and when you raise that possibility the talk out in Calgary switches from pablum about the national interest to what the flag for an independent state should look like.

And have I ever mentioned the irony of a columnist at The Post, which has NEVER turned a profit since the day it launched, lecturing anyone about the rigours of Capitalism?  That's like being given lessons in boating safety by the captain of The Titanic.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Clearly The Best Way To Squelch

 ...the whole Robocon scandal is to sue the loudest MP in the HOC AND flip Stephen Taylor the legal docs on the down-low so as to blow your whole case out of the water if it ever DOES go to court.  I mean, most judges really hate it when your real intent is to fight out your suit in the court of public opinion, and more particularly in the blogosphere.  They're serious folk who don't like having their time wasted.

But of course the whole point is to get Pat Martin to shut up and instead what will happen reminds me of that old Jesus joke where Jesus walks into the inn carrying some nails and a hammer and asks the innkeeper to put him up for the night.  Pat Martin will spend the next two years cranking this for all its worth and if I were the NDP I would fund his legal case to the last stand, just to get to discovery.

Somewhere in Harper's inner circle somebody is trying to figure out a way to disappear Matt Meier and RackNine.  Or, if they think this latest tactic will put this whole thing to bed, then they really are crazy.

A Point Worth Noting

Keith Beardsley writes:

Canadians are tuned into this story because they get these types of calls all the time. They understand the issue. Who hasn’t been called at the dinner hour by some type of telemarketer? Even if they weren’t called in the last election the general public can relate to the story, for this reason alone this story is real to Canadians and they are paying attention to it.

I would go even further and say that a fair number of Canadians have had direct contact with the Responsive Marketing Group, one of the phone spammers at the heart of the controversy.  Check out the remarks on them at 800 notes.  Lets just say that they are known and not well loved.

Yeah Its A Meaningless Poll

...but its nice to see all the Tory mis-steps are finally starting to leave a mark.  Mind you, it sucks to see that, despite Bob Rae's exemplary performance in the HOC, the LPoC is still very much in 3rd place.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Tim Hudak Is The Waffle-Master

 Has anyone ever heard a Tim Hudak Presser that hasn't ended in exactly the same way? He takes a position:

“I think we’ve got a responsibility as a provincial government to help break gridlock,” said Hudak, who would repeat the word no fewer than three times during his roughly six minute address. “Money’s on the table. It’s the biggest investment in Canada. So let’s do it right. Let’s invest in subways.”

And then he walks it back:

When asked about how exactly such a subway plan—while serving all proposed routes—would be financed, however, Hudak was unable to provide an alternative funding model, and he rejected any suggestion that the province should spend more than the $8.4 billion it has already promised Toronto for transit projects.

He's like one of those sun sensitive snails. He sticks his head out. He sees the light o' ideological clarity.  He withdraws.

Should Ontario Capitulate To The West?

 Alison Redford thinks so; some guy from the Canada West Foundation thinks it isn't necessary.  Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the clowns on the Op-Ed pages of Canada's various right wing papers, Alberta has become the new Central Canada, and Calgary the new Toronto.   Cheerlead for the tar-sands all you want, folks, McGuinty's remarks are tapping into a simmering populist backlash.