Monday, December 29, 2014

Strange Goings On In Ontario Anti-Wind Movement

A number of Ontario ERT (Environmental Review Tribunal) decisions were released just before Xmas; they can be found here.   The results should no longer be surprising; forces opposing the development of wind farms in the province challenged several projects on grounds that they were dangerous to human health, and lost.  However, one appeal--Gillespie v. Director, Ministry of the Environment-- contained a few elements novel enough to deserve some commentary.


The appellants in this case were John Gillespie and The Municipality of Bluewater, Mr. Gillespie being a town Councillor up there.  One peculiarity was that, while Mr. Gillespie argued the "security of his person" was endangered due to the fact he lives "in proximity" to the proposed facility, he apparently did not supply the ERT with so much as a mailing address.  From the decision:

[147] It is the Director’s position that the analysis of s. 7 involves two steps: first, the claimant must demonstrate that the legislation or state action deprives him or her of life, liberty or security of the person; and second, if the first step is met, the claimant must demonstrate that the deprivation is not in accordance with a principle of fundamental justice. The Director submits that the Appellant Gillespie fails on both steps.

[148] With respect to the first step, the Director argues that the Appellant Gillespie adduced no evidence about himself, where he lives or how his rights have been infringed.

And later on, when the Tribunal is discussing the reasoning behind its findings:

[170] The Tribunal now turns to the Director’s argument that the Appellant Gillespie, as the Charter claimant, adduced absolutely no evidence of how his rights have been infringed. In support of this position, the Director emphasizes that there is no evidence regarding who Mr. Gillespie is, where he lives, or even if he lives in the vicinity of the Project. The Director submits that for this reason alone, his Charter claim must fail. 

It appears that Mr. Gillespie saw himself as a proxy, a kind of every-man representing the allegedly violated rights of other Bluewater residents, so these facts about his personal situation didn't matter However, according to the relevant law you aren't allowed to represent others; the evidence presented must be about you and your situation.  So this aspect of Mr, Gillespie's appeal (a constitutional challenge under s. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms) failed as a result.


More interesting  were the circumstances around the testimony of Dr. Hazel Lynn,  She co-authored Systematic Review 2013: Association Between Wind Turbines and Human Distress, a lit survey of papers dealing with the health effects of wind-turbines.  It survived peer review to appear in the journal Cureos.  This paper IMHO was not particularly useful, and its conclusions re the significance of annoyance (dubbed human distress in the text) as an impactor on human health were overstated.  Nevertheless, this document, plus several other reports Dr. Lynn helped prepare, were the entire body of evidence relied upon by the appellants to make their case against the Grand Bend facility.

Therefore it is extremely worth noting Dr. Lynn did not want to be at this hearing, to the point where she suggested (through hired counsel) that she had no expertise in the relevant matters:

[18] The Approval Holder adopted the submissions of the Director.  Dr. Lynn’s counsel submitted that Dr. Lynn herself does not believe she has the expertise to give opinion evidence in this proceeding and, as a result, her evidence would be of no benefit to the Tribunal, and, therefore, is unnecessary. 

At several points in the ERT decision, the same fact is raised again and again: Dr. Lynn did not appear voluntarily but as a result of a summons, which she fought:

...Bearing in mind that Dr. Lynn was opposed to giving evidence and retained counsel to represent her in opposing the summons, the Tribunal finds that counsel for the Appellants made reasonable efforts to obtain a witness statement from Dr. Lynn and to provide the parties with as much information regarding her proposed testimony as he could reasonably be expected to obtain prior to the commencement of the hearing.

And it is interesting in light of this that the testimony Dr. Lynn provided was distinctly unhelpful to the Appellants.   In fact she seems to have walked-back or at least de-emphasized the most important claims in her previous research.  For example, the substitution of the concept of "human distress" for the concept of "annoyance" has drawn considerable criticism. Dr. Simon Chapman, an associate dean at the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, has argued that:

The authors chose to use the term “distress” instead of “annoyance". The American Medical Dictionary defines distress as 1. Mental or physical suffering or anguish or 2. Severe strain resulting from exhaustion or trauma. Annoyance on the other hand is defined as 1. The act of annoying or the state of being annoyed or 2. A cause of irritation or vexation; a nuisance. (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright 2000) and is generally identified as a highly subjective state in medical literature. It is clear that the authors chose a stronger term than was used by the majority of studies. Most literature refers to annoyance, while the referenced alternative of “Wind Turbine Syndrome” was coined in a vanity press published case study with extraordinary weaknesses of selection bias, methodology and analysis (17). Similarly, “extreme annoyance” is rarely used in the literature. Annoyance is by far the most commonly used term in the material referenced, so it is unclear why “distress” was chosen.

Similarly, at the ERT hearing itself, Dr. Kenneth Mundt argued for the wind farm project that: of the most serious errors made by the authors was to manipulate the results of the
studies by combining a variety of self-reported symptoms into a new category that they
term “distress”, which, he asserts, is not a scientifically meaningful term, and obscures
the findings in some of the studies.

And in her (compelled) testimony before the ERT,  Dr. Lynn basically admits this point:

[77] Dr. Lynn stated that she prefers to use the term “distress”, because a lay
person’s understanding of the term “annoyance” may be perceived as understating the
seriousness of people’s complaints. She indicated that she considered annoyance, in
relation to wind turbine noise, to be whether a person could hear and notice the noise.
She acknowledges that “distress” is a human term, not a research term.

And so on throughout. I would suggest that Ms. Lynn tried in her testimony to discourage any further use of her as a witness in tribunal hearings/court cases.  And so Ontario's anti-wind forces continue to lose sources of expertise.  Ms. Lynn's case is the first one where these losses have been "self inflicted", as it were, and not at the hands of an unsympathetic tribunal.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

BCLSB Exclusive: Preston Manning's Mea Culpa (Secret 1st Draft!)

Preston Manning has issued a Mea Culpa for his involvement in the defection of nine Wildrose party MLAs back to the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party.  Here at BCLSB we've got moles inside the Canadian Conservative Movement, and they have leaked us a preliminary version of his statement.  As you can see, the original is very different from the  the final, "official" version.  I would say that the tone has been "softened" somewhat.

Statement by Preston Manning

As you will know by now, I've really fucked up good. 

Recently I was asked to meet with members of the Wildrose caucus to share my experience in “uniting the right” at the federal level.  So I told them how shitty it was to be in opposition.  How you get tiny little offices, and the heat doesn't work, and the Prime Minister can shut off your electricity any time with a button under the desk in his office.  I told them that, generally speaking, it was way, wwwaay better to be in power.  You don't have to criticize Alison Redford.  You can BE Alison Redford, with your own private jet and pet monkey. And I told them how Jim Prentice had a hot-tub in his office, and maybe they would get access to it.  So warm.  So wet.  So wonderful.

And I told them about the experience that led to the creation of the Canadian Alliance, which involved a democratic process of discussion with grassroots members, several consultative referendums, large conferences on principles and policy, a vote on acceptance or rejection by party members, and ultimately subjecting the results to electors in the 2000 federal election.  What a bunch of fucking bullshit all that fucking bullshit was!  The "grassroots" are a bunch of nine-tooth goobers from the foothills beyond Yokelton.  Their only "input" into this "process" was to keep insisting that the metric system be repealed because it was the work of Marx and the Devil together, who they call Darx (No shit!  I'm not shitting you!).  But when you tell them that's crazy fuck you, they're fine with it. You could violate them all with a whiffle board bat and they would still vote Conservative. Just don't touch their guns, and let them keep their quaint tradition like capturing  college students who come through town on Spring Break and sacrificing them to the corn gods, and eating them.

And, oh yeah, respect their democratic processes.  They're crazy for their democratic processes. THAT'S  what I forgot last week.  So I want all nine of the Wildrose Members who I talked into crossing,  to cross back the other way.  Outta the jacuzzi and back into the wilderness!  Its good for you; it builds character.  One day you'll sit in that jacuzzi, maybe, when you've earned it.  But not today.

Preston Manning
December 22, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014

Life In Scarborough: The Celebrities Of Scarborough

I sat next to a gal at a bar today who claimed to have been in show-business once.  She said she knew Hugh Hefner and had visited the Bunny Ranch, back in the day.  In fact she said she had slept with Hef, and had offered him some life advice afterwards: "You've been around too many beautiful women," she said she told him. I have no idea what she meant.  She said she was 53 years old and that her name was "Vicky", or at least that was her old show-business name.  She is probably the first famous person I've met in Scarborough, or as we natives call it "The Scar", or as we also call it "The Bro", for obvious reasons I can't get into.  Celebrities are a bit thin on the ground out here.  Dunno why.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Enbridge Spills

One in a continuing series.  They're playing Regina this time.  But don't worry, the NEB is on the case.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My First CBSC Complaint, Part III: Request For A Ruling

The third stage in filing a CBSC complaint is, if you are not satisfied with the response you've got from the station rep, is to outline your reasons in a ruling request form, and, well, request a ruling. Below is the final version of what I submitted on Sunday.  If you've followed this you've read some of it before, though I've added a bit at the end.  In any case:

The CBSC Secretariat will be reviewing your file in the near future to determine whether adjudication by a panel of industry and public members is appropriate in the circumstances of this complaint.  The CBSC’s examination of any complaint includes a review of all of the correspondence in the file as well as our own viewing or listening of the broadcast in question.  Each CBSC decision creates an important precedent and is used to clarify the interpretation of the broadcast codes.  Due to the importance of every complaint, we review each one in the order it was received, and accordingly, it could take up to four months for this process to be completed for your file.

And here's the complaint:
CBSC File Number: CBSC File C14/15-0421

Thanks to Mr. Manson of Sun News for his response. However, I find it an inadequate defence of Mr. Ezra Levant's November 10 broadcast.  Therefore I would like to request a a ruling on this particular case.  Mr. Manson and I have exchanged a pair of emails.  The bulk of this complaint is my response to his first email; the remainder is a response to issues raised in his second.

When I first contacted the CBSC, I suggested that the segment in question violated clause
2 of the CAB code, and also clause 5.  Clause 5 demands accurate reporting, which standard I felt Mr. Levant had failed to meet when he asserted that the Greater Essex school-board was exempting Muslim school-children from Remembrance Day ceremonies due to conflicts with their/their family's religious beliefs.

Now, Mr. Manson has suggested that a failure of communication between The Board and SNN occurred, and points to several exchanges between their spokesperson and Sun News representatives dating from the morning of November 10 as evidence of this.  But none of the facts contained in these exchanges would render Mr. Levant's original assertion an accurate report of what was said to him by Board representatives, or even a plausible inference from what was said to him.  In fact, Mr. Manson quotes from one email as

"The procedure for religious accommodation has been in place for some time and no it was not in response to any concerns from any particular people or groups – it’s a necessary document to allow the board to manage any requests for accommodations based on religion or beliefs."

The claim that no particular people or groups requested accommodation logically implies that no Muslim people or groups requested it.  Therefore the assertion Mr. Levant made to the effect that Muslim individuals did request such accommodation (and were granted
it) would necessarily be an inaccurate report.

 And in his later discussion of the controversy,  Mr. Levant neither admits to nor apologizes for this basic inaccuracy.

 Furthermore, this inaccurate statement serves as a trigger for what I would call an extended violation of the CAB code's second clause.  That is, Mr. Levant engages in  a stream of Muslim bashing invective.  I would probably argue that even if facts stood as per Mr. Levant's original assertion--if in fact some Muslim parent had requested accommodation for religious reasons—Levant's tirade would still  have been abusive and unduly discriminatory.  But as it stands we have a falsehood serving as an excuse for a concentrated blast of  bigotry.  And of course Mr. Levant has neither admitted to or apologized for his bigoted statements anymore than he has for his inaccurate ones.

 In his second email, Mr. Manson writes as follows:

 "In his follow-up monologue on November 12, 2014, Mr. Levant said:  “In the end, the school board claims that no students asked for an exemption. I take public statements from the board with a grain of salt now, but I hope that’s true.”

"Mr. Levant therefore acknowledged the Board’s position that no students had asked for an exemption.  Sun News therefore reiterates its position that no further action by the CBSC is necessary with respect to this complaint."

 Put generally, Sun News and myself are offering different narratives as to the sequence of events that occurred the week of November 10.

I am arguing that Mr. Levant's first exchange with the school-board on the morning of November 10 was absolutely clear: no students, including Muslim students, had requested an exemption, and none had been granted. Nevertheless on the evening of that same day Mr. Levant claimed that the school-board had exempted a number of Muslim students from its Remembrance Day ceremonies for religious reasons.  It is this statement, as well as the anti-Muslim tirade that followed, that I believe Mr. Levant should be sanctioned over, and for which he has thus far assumed no responsibility.

 On the other hand Mr. Manson and Mr. Levant have argued that this first exchange with the school-board somehow supported or at least did not at least logically disallow Mr. Levant's claim.  And when afterwards Mr. Levant received new information which cast his earlier assertion into doubt, he was willing to take responsibility for any of the resultant confusion.  And it is clear why  he would prefer to promote this narrative.  To be told clearly that not-A, and to then go on television and say A, suggests either deliberate misrepresentation or a reckless disregard for the truth.

However, I think even a cursory reading of the school-board/SNN correspondence makes clear that Mr. Levant and Mr. Manson's time-line of events is largely fictive.  Nor is this just my opinion.  For example, The Globe's Sylvia Stead has written of this incident:

"Nothing in the partial memo received by Mr. Levant or in the follow-up questions justified his conclusion because it is not based on the truth."

Other writers who have looked at the matter have come to similar conclusions.  I can supply more links as needed.

 Finally, I would suggest past incidents make a “reckless disregard for the the truth” the more likely explanation for Mr. Levant's assertion.  It is, after all, the manner in which his writings have been described in a number of defamation cases which Mr. Levant has found himself on the losing side of, including this one decided very recently between Mr. Levant and Khurrum Awan:

 MJ Murphy

Monday, December 15, 2014

I Will Bounce No More, Forever

More evidence that the Tory uptick is over, though its from Forum, so take it with salt:
Although it wouldn't surprise me if it's real.  Most of the things the Tories have had go their way lately have been lucky bounces.  The Ottawa shootings stirred up some fear among the base; our action against ISIS scored them a few cheap military points.  More frightening over the medium term will be the government's ability to rain money down on targeted constituencies and an economy that may perform a little better in 2015, giving the CPC a measure of unearned credit.

The End Of The Harper Bounce?

Rest of the poll is here.  The coalition talk is so much chin music; most important thing is that the red line has stopped falling and the blue line has stopped rising.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ezra On Tour

Playing the mighty Pen with Bian Lilley (who is back-ground left; looks like he's trying to hustle coins out of a vending machine).   Witnessed by crazy boy Dean.

More grey hairs in this place than backstage at a Rolling Stones concert.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

My First CBSC Complaint, Part II

So, when you first approach the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council with concerns over one of the tv/radio stations they regulate, they forward those concerns to the station in question and ask the company legal reps to address them.  Below is an email from Tycho Manson,  counsel to the Sun News Network, addressing my issues with Ezra Levant's broadcast of November 10th.  During this show Ezra accused the  Greater Essex County District School Board of pandering to Muslim extremists, and then went on with a good ten minute rant about how ungrateful Muslims immigrants are. Above Mr. Manson's letter is my reply to it.

As noted, unless Mr. Manson has some better arguments up his sleeve, I will be going forward with the complaint.

My reply:

Thanks to Mr. Manson for his response. However, as it stands now I find it an inadequate defense in several respects.

In my original complaint, I suggested that the segment in question violated clause 2 of the CAB code, and also clause 5.

Clause 5 demands accurate reporting, which standard I felt Mr. Levant had failed to meet when he asserted that the Greater Essex school-board was exempting Muslim school-children from Remembrance Day ceremonies due to conflicts with their/their family's religious beliefs.

Now Mr. Manson has suggested that a failure of communication between The Board and SNN occurred, and points to several exchanges between their spokesperson and Sun News representatives as evidence of this.  But none of the new facts contained in these exchanges would render Mr. Levant's original assertion an accurate report of what was said to him by Board representatives, or even a plausible inference from what was said to him.  In fact, Mr. Manson quotes from one email as follows:

The procedure for religious accommodation has been in place for some time and no it was not in response to any concerns from any particular people or groups – it’s a necessary document to allow the board to manage any requests for accommodations based on religion or beliefs.

The claim that no particular people or groups requested accommodation logically implies that no Muslim people or groups requested it.  Therefore the assertion Mr. Levant made to the effect that Muslim individuals did request such accommodation  would necessarily be an inaccurate report.

And in his later discussion of the controversy,  Mr. Levant neither admits nor apologizes for this inaccuracy.

Furthermore, this inaccurate statement serves as a trigger for what I would call an extended violation of the CAB code's second clause.  That is, Mr. Levant engages in  a stream of Muslim bashing invective.  I would probably argue that even if facts stood as per Mr. Levant's original assertion--if in fact some Muslim parent had requested accommodation for religious reasons--his tirade would still  have been abusive and unduly discriminatory.  But as it stands we have falsehoods serving as an excuse for a concentrated blast of  bigotry.  And of course Mr. Levant has neither admitted to or apologized for this either.

I'm not sure if Mr. Manson wishes to address  this matter further.  If not I think I will probably request a ruling on the matter.


MJ Murphy

Mr. Manson's letter:

Dear Mme. Courteau and Mr. Murphy:

I am counsel to Sun News Network.  I am writing in response to Mr. Murphy’s complaint below concerning a monologue by Ezra Levant at the beginning of his show The Source, which was broadcast on Sun News on November 10, 2014 at 8:00 pm ET.

In the monologue, Mr. Levant discussed an apparent policy of the Greater Essex County District School Board (the “Board”) that schools within the jurisdiction of the Board should provide alternate activities for students who do not wish to participate in Remembrance Day activities (or whose parents do not wish them to participate).

The facts

I am advised by Sun News that the facts of the matter are as follows.

The monologue was based on a memorandum that had been sent by the Board to schools within its jurisdiction.  That memorandum read in part:

Some schools may have their own school assemblies while others may choose to participate in the ceremonies of their local municipalities such as the Windsor Cenotaph.  Please be mindful that some families may be reluctant to have their children attend your local municipality’s ceremonies.  Please note that meaningful alternate activities should be provided at the schools for those families who do not wish their children to participate in any Remembrance Day activities.

Please find attached some images that reflect Canada’s diverse military and to honour those families who are, and have been our allies in conflicts that we as a nation, have participated [sic].  

Included in the memorandum were two web links, one to the Canadian War Museum and one to a blog post about a Canadian Muslim soldier in Afghanistan.

On the morning of November 10, 2014, a Sun News producer contacted an official of the Board by email, referred to the Board’s apparent policy “that will exempt certain students from participating in Remembrance Day activities”  and asked the following questions:

1.       Is this a new policy? If not, when did it start?

2.       Is this policy in response to complaints from parents?

3.       Is this policy aimed at any specific group?

4.       What was the intent of including the article on the Muslim in the Canadian Forces?

The Board official responded to this email the same day.  He stated in part: “Any such exemption would be granted in consideration of our Religious Accommodations procedure – a parent/guardian may request an exemption – which would have to be approved, after consideration, by the Principal.”  He added that that he was not sure which article the producer was referring to, “however it is our goal to celebrate diversity whenever we can.”

In a follow-up email, the Sun News producer sent the Board official a copy of the memorandum, and asked: “Was this policy in response to complaints from parents? Is the policy aimed at a specific group?  I’m also wondering why the last two links at the bottom were included.”

The Board official responded as follows:

The procedure for religious accommodation has been in place for some time and no it was not in response to any concerns from any particular people or groups – it’s a necessary document to allow the board to manage any requests for accommodations based on religion or beliefs.

The particular link merely is an example and a reminder of the diversity that exists in our country’s armed forces.

The Board official therefore stated twice, in response to specific questions from Sun News, that the policy was in place as part of a religious accommodation policy.  At no time did the Board official mention security concerns as a reason for the policy.

Sun News is willing to make this entire correspondence available to the CBSC in full if the CBSC considers it necessary for resolution of this complaint.

 In his monologue, Mr. Levant went on to express his opinion of the Board’s policy, as he is entitled to do pursuant to Clause 5 of the CAB Code of Ethics.

 The facts are, therefore, that Sun News contacted the Board in advance of airtime, provided the Board with the memorandum Sun News had received, asked specific questions about it, and was expressly told by the Board’s official spokesperson that the policy was about religious accommodation. Again, parents' concerns about security were not mentioned.

 The subsequent controversy

Subsequent to the airing of Mr. Levant’s monologue, a controversy broke out over the monologue and over the Board’s intention in promulgating the policy discussed by Mr. Levant.  Officials of the Board apparently told some media representatives that the policy was put in place in response to parents’ security concerns.  However, as noted above, at no time were security concerns mentioned as a reason for the policy in the Board’s email correspondence with Sun News.

In addition, it appears that a different version of the memorandum was in circulation.   In this version of the memorandum, the web links in the memorandum included web pages about aboriginal Canadian soldiers, African Canadian soldiers and Asian Canadian soldiers.  Sun News cannot explain the discrepancy in the versions of the memorandum, but notes that the Board representative who responded to Sun News did not at any time state or suggest that the version of the memorandum shown to him by Sun News was inaccurate or incomplete or had been superseded.

On a subsequent appearance on Sun News, Board Superintendent Sharon Pyke made the following statement in response to a comment by host Jerry Agar:

AGAR: Alright, while what we might have here is failure to communicate. There was a memo that went out. We had a look at the memo. Some of the producers here and Ezra did at Sun News. Then we asked a question about it and we were told that exemptions would be granted in consideration of [your] religious accommodations procedures. And that was, well that seemed wrong and seemed confusing, but of course, we had to take the word of [the Board spokesperson] in your organization that sent that to us.

PYKE: And I'm sorry for the miscommunication. It was certainly was not our intent at all.  It was to provide information to our principals so they could make the ceremony - their ceremony - the best it can be. [Emphasis added.]

Ms. Pyke therefore referred expressly to a “miscommunication” and said she was sorry for it.

 On The Source on November 12, 2014, Ezra Levant referred to the controversy that had erupted and stated the further facts set out above.

 In the circumstances, Sun News submits that its original item was based on information provided to it by the Board, and that Sun News followed up appropriately when further facts became available by airing and discussing those further facts.  Sun News therefore submits that no further action should be taken with respect to this complaint.

Yours truly,

Tycho Manson

Monday, December 08, 2014

I Have Arrived

And, in arriving, been blocked.  (PS. Easier to read when you click on pic.)

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Just Resting

Regular readers will note it's been quiet around here.  That's because of life-maintenance stuff, work, and a few other things.  And being a little bored by the world as it stands at this moment.  One possibly exciting  thing coming up is the next step in my CBSC complaint against Ezra Levant and the Sun News Network.   When you first complain to the CBSC about some media outlet, they forward your complaint to said media outlet and give them 21 days to respond directly to you.  We're in day 17 and I have got no response out of SNN so far.  The clock is ticking.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Xmas Horror Descends To New Depths!

My wife has recently started watching chick flicks about Xmas on the Hallmark Channel.  She won't stop. I call them Chickmas Flicks.  I can't barf harder, or any more frequently.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Your Daily Ezra: Ezra Levant Gets Legal Ass Handed To Him

He's going to be paying Khurrum Awan $80,000 for "reckless disregard for the truth".  I've read the decision, and will excerpt a bit tomorrow, and try to post it if it isn't available elsewhere by that time,  but it isn't really that interesting if you have followed Levant's career.  He spread evil bullshit intent on destroying careers and lives and when brought before the legal system, got hosed.  Just like all the previous occasions.  And just like the next time, because it's hard to imagine the Warman v. Levant case being any less of a slam dunk. Ezra's dad will have to dig deep to pay all his kid's legal bills.

Update: Judgement is here.

But Where Would Alberta Separate To?

David Marsden, of the Clagary Herald editorial board, complains about  troubles facing the Energy East and other pipelines:

Quebec separation appears to be dead for the time being. But if Alberta is continually thwarted by politicians peddling spurious arguments, don’t be surprised if talk of Alberta separation begins to catch fire once again.

I guess the question really is: who cares?  Does anyone in Alberta think it would find it easier get pipeline built as a separate country?  The mention of Quebec here is apropos: Alberta stands to Canada where Quebec did about a decade ago: we're tired of their incessant whining, and no longer moved by their threats.  In fact I would suggest that the ROC has come to realize that we have Alta. by the balls.  Its time they figured that out, else we decide to squeeze 'em.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Will Brian Lilley Issue Grovelling Apology For November 18th Video Segment?

The video segment itself is  here.  Its print counterpart here. The grovelling apology (print edition) is below:

Media preview
Will there be a video version of this apology to follow?  Official steps have been taken by Mr. Raynolds to extract one, and they seem to have paid off:
Stay tuned (but not to Sun TV, needless to say).

NEWS FLASH! NDP MP Anonymously Accuses LPC MP Of Sexual Assault!

“It was sex without explicit consent,” she said.

This is bullshit, because, want to or not, she has in fact destroyed a man's career.  And seems willing to keep the story alive via anonymous interviews.  This is starting to look like a sleazy NDP political maneuver.  The alleged victim(s) should come clean or clam up.

Monday, November 17, 2014

New Leger Federal Poll

Because there hasn't been much federal polling lately:
Here's the link.  Not much analysis, however.  For that, read  Grenier.  Bottom line: not much change.


AHRC legal counsel Arman Chak, a frequent target of Sun News TV personality Ezra Levant over the years, has been elected to the BOD of the Alberta Law Society.  Ezra's encounters with the Society have been of another kind altogether.  So congrats Mr. Chak.

PS. Ezra's now thoroughly debunked anti-Muslim screed from last week has picked up a few "likes" from notorious Canadian racist Paul Fromm.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ezra's Grovelling Apology

...can be found here.  The "I was wrong" bit comes at the end (about the 14 minute mark).  Ezra has also pulled the explicit Muslim-bashing from his "Canada: Love It Or Leave It" site (from the cache too, if you are trying to find it there). Finally, SNN has also pulled down the original segment and replaced it  with Ezra's Mea Culpa.  The original T.O. Sun column, however, remains.

Some background on this story can be found here, and  here.

Update:  This person was good enough to screen cap the original/updated Love It Or Leave It page:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ezra Versus The School-Board: Prepare For The Grovelling Apology?

If anyone actually watches, let me know what happened.

Ezra, The School Board, And The Muslims: Day Three

Well, as my CBSC (and also CRTC) complaints await processing in Ottawa, it's time for a few updates.  Most importantly, Ezra has offered his side of the story, and also an email exchange between himself and  Greater Essex County District School Board representative Scott Scantlebury.

Probably the most important bit from his "Factual background" is this:

-Someone who received an e-mailed memo from the school board forwarded it to me as a potential news item.


-That memo we received did not include the links to aboriginal, Asian, and African soldiers in the Canadian military. Scantlebury did not advise us of this fact. The quotes we cited from the memo are accurate.

-I have attached my producer’s email exchanges yesterday with Scantlebury. I have only redacted the producer’s name and contact info.

This leaves open the distinct possibility that Ezra's source deliberately removed the extra links so as to, well, sucker Ezra and his production team into the misconstruction that they did indeed put upon the memo.  In fact, this would not be the first time Ezra has been lied to by one of his tipsters.  In an earlier case as well, the result was a CBSC complaint.

Not that such a scenario would make Ezra's subsequent behavior any less reprehensible.  After all, he surely knows that anyone watching his show and slipping him tips must be to some degree sick in the head, and should be fact-checked quite a bit more thoroughly than the effort Ezra gave it.

On the other hand, after his recent anti-Justin tirade, several family members emailed Ezra to say that the whole episode had been entirely innocent.  These emails conveniently disappeared into Ezra's spam folder (can't find the link for that, so I am going by recollection), so discount the man's words appropriately.

Also,  Greater Essex County District School Board Superintendent Sharon Pyke appeared on the Jerry Agar show to discuss the incident.  Sun News has spun this into an apology by the board, but read the entire transcript of the interview and see if you can detect the contrition in it.  I can't.

And, meanwhile and finally, Ezra is still using the false story as a means of hawking merch at one of his websites.  Hopefully, the CBSC/CRTC will take this into account when trying to form an idea of Ezra's intent in spreading this story.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My First CBSC Complaint!

From the submission I filed with them this morning:

In this segment, Sun News Network personality Ezra Levant implies that the Greater Essex County District School Board has sent around an email to its principals exempting Muslim students from Remembrance Day celebrations due to possible conflicts with their/their families' religious beliefs.

As evidence that the exemption caters to Muslims, Mr. Levant points to a number of links in the email, which send the reader to stories about Muslim soldiers serving in the Canadian army.

Mr. Levant then goes off on a ten minute rant suggesting that any Muslim immigrants who refuse to participate in Remembrance Day ceremonies are being dis-loyal to Canada, and denigrating Muslims in general.

However, when you look at the email in question (which can be found here), you will see that the link to stories re Muslim soldiers are followed by links to other, similar stories about Aboriginal CDN soldiers, African CDN soldiers, and etc.

So the rant is based on a falsehood.  There is nothing in the memo that suggests that this exemption was meant to spare the religious sensibilities of any Muslim child/parent   In fact, a CBC story on the email indicates that the exemption was a matter of parents having safety concerns re sending their kids to a public ceremony, given the Ottawa attacks of a few weeks ago.

Surely this piece fails the CAB code provision requiring accuracy, and contains material that discriminates against Cdn Muslims.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Solid Work: Blogger Gets Anti-Abortion Group's Funding Pulled

Not really my story, so I'll let them tell it.  Swapping insults on the Intertubes is nice, but if you really want to put the boots to the Conservative Menace™, you need to start looking around for ways to defund it.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Fraser Institute On Ontario Electricity Prices: Secret Deals, Conspiracy Theories

Ross McKitrick and Tom Adams have authored What Goes Up…Ontario’s Soaring Electricity Prices and How to Get Them Down for The Fraser Institute.  It purports to be an analysis of the effect government contracts with electricity producers have had on Ontario's power bills.  According to McKitrick and Adams, a large portion of the increase in these bills is due to the Green Energy Act, and in particular to the installation of wind farms that the act encouraged.  Response to the study has been limited, but  typically uncritical .    The Canadian Wind Energy Association has promised a rebuttal, but until that happens I thought I would offer a few thoughts of my own.

The study offers an econometric model designed to explain  the "Global Adjustment", which is a monthly charge added to Ontario power bills to pay for the cost for providing both adequate generating capacity and conservation programs.  The GA has been rising over the past decade or so, even as the market driven portion of the bill, the Hourly Ontario Energy Price or HOEP, has fallen.  At the same time, the installed capacity of wind and has also risen and so, naturally enough, has been the urge to link these facts together.

Now, without getting too deep into the weeds, the companies that contract with the Ontario government to provide the province its electricity can get paid for their actual generation of energy, or for that plus their capacity to generate energy.  From the report:
Note that, according to this, gas plants get paid for their on-hand capacity, but solar and wind generators do not...

Or do they?

Adams and McKitrick fire up their econometric model and use it to crank out a couple of tables. This fellow thinks they contain an error or two,  but for my purposes such details aren't really that important.  Their first attempt at running the model is represented by Table 3 in the report.

You can read what they say about Table 3 through the link, but the bottom line is that they don't like the result it gives them for wind energy; it is not sufficiently alarming.

So Adams and McKtrick decide to give  their model a tweak, which they justify as follows: even though wind generators don't officially get paid for capacity, the global adjustment "behaves" as though they did.  They then provide the following scatterplot as supplying "correlational evidence" for this argument:

What this purports to show us is that where we have greater wind capacity, we have a higher Global Adjustment.

But of course we already know this because, as I noted above, we already know during the last decade or so both installed wind capacity and the GA have increased concurrently. And if you look at the data from whence the chart was derived--this for the GA, and this for wind capacity--it's just basic time-series stuff.  What the GA was at a certain date; how much wind capacity was installed at a specific date. And so if you graphically represented this information as a time-series chart rather than a scattergram you would get a graph with two lines on it, one representing the GA and one wind capacity.  They would both start low on the y axis at earlier dates and rise gradually as you moved date by date along the x axis, closer and closer to the present.  Which, again, we knew already.

But does this mean that the installed capacity of wind was responsible for the increase in the GA?  Well, no: correlation is not causation, as they say.  Furthermore, according to earlier statements by one of the report authors, the price increases in electricity previous to 2013-2014 cannot be put at the feet of wind energy:

[Tom] Adams said the real effect of the wind and solar investments on bills has yet to sting ratepayers but will drive up prices over the next few years.

So it is difficult for me to see why he would change his tune based on a single graph containing no new information.

But onward and upward!  Tom and Ross adjust their model for the assumption that wind generators also get paid for capacity.  And hey presto! we get Table 4!   Suddenly wind-power is driving the increase in the GA.

But there is a problem with this reasoning.  Though the model assumes that wind generators get  paid both for capacity and generation, there are no contracts out there with this in their terms.  Therefore   Adams and McKitrick have to postulate a series of  secret contracts, side deals,  off-the-books stuff. 

So wind drives the GA only if a conspiracy theory they are offering turns out to be true; that is, if the Ontario government has made undisclosed arrangements with the wind companies which, if brought to light, would make up the difference between Table 3 and Table 4.  Not that they offer any evidence of such deals in their report (though I should say that Tom has made a few arm-wavy gestures on twitter:


And I suppose further investigation might turn up such evidence.  But at the moment the McKitrick/Adams conspiracy theory is just an unsupported assumption needed to justify the result they would prefer their model gave them.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Sunday Morning Breakfast By Eat

From Sell Me A God, the greatest album you never heard of:

And another one from the same album:

Heroin is the only thing that kept these guys from becoming God.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Coyne On Income Splitting

He writes:

The Tory plan...removes an unfair preference: between two-income and one-income families.

This is a point that seems to elude the critics. Income-splitting isn’t some sort of special tax break for one-income families. It merely puts them on the same footing as two-income families. Under the present system, a family with one spouse earning, say, $80,000 pays thousands of dollars more in tax — $4,170 more, according to economist Jack Mintz — than a family with two spouses earning $40,000 each. This is manifestly unfair, even allowing for any value imputed to the “unpaid housework” performed by the stay-at-home spouse (a conceptual and computational morass, probably best avoided).

Actually, no it isn't.  If both members of the family earning $40,000 apiece wanted to make more money...well, they probably couldn't.  That is, they're porbably making as much as they can.  On the other hand, a family where one spouse makes  $80,000 and the other $0 has mostly likely voluntarily chosen to forgo the income of one spouse so as to persue a boutique life-style most of us can't afford. And I'm not willing to pay $182 out of my pocket for that.  Forget the principles yada yada that Coyne's refs in his piece.  We all now who this measure is for, right?  We all  know where the money's going: wealthy Reform-style Conservatives who need to have an ideological bone thrown them in advance of the 2015 election.  Andrew's just throwing a layer of philosophical abractions over the whole pile so people don't notice the smell.  Typical for him.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Jian Ghomeshi: A Brief Note


Monday, October 27, 2014

Our Long Municipal Nightmare Is Over

Of course one's first response must be an overwhelming sense of relief.  The Ford's are gone from power in this town, even though Rob reclaimed his council seat out in Etobicoke.  That's a sideshow. Peak Ford has passed.  Ford Nation is dead.  Even though they turned out in full force for this the Ford's have no true successors in T.O. politics.  Mammoleti is asshole enough, but he's got 0 charisma.  And you can literally smell the crazy on him.  So Ford Nation will  go back to drinking beer and watching football.

But its worth saying something about the campaigns, as they struck me, through this long dismal affair of an election.

I won't spend too much time on DOFO. Probably my biggest impression of him was derived from a couple of days ago,  They were showing one of his events on the tube and I was watching, with sound off, as this woman stood next to a life-side cardboard cutout of Doug Ford while she praised the man himself.  She talked for a good 30 seconds while the cutout smiled menacingly, as the real Doug Ford is wont to do.  And then cardboard cutout blinked, and I realized the it was actually DOFO! That was weird.  People shouldn't be physically  able to stand still for that long at one time, with their teeth fully on display.

As for Olivia.  Poor Olivia.  But wait, you might say, she doesn't need my sympathy!  And you're probably right.  She's loaded, after all.  They even did a movie about her dead hubby. But then why was she playing on my sympathies for the last month of the campaign?  Let's get something clear.  She was the subject of racial attacks throughout this thing and they stunk; they made the whole city look bad.  BUT THEY WERE NOT A REASON TO VOTE FOR HER!  She handled all of this stuff personally with great aplomb, but her campaign seemed to work it into their messaging, and her supporters have been hosting an endless pity party.  But: "Vote For Me I'm A Victim", as a slogan, don't attract flies in this town.  Oh, and along the same lines, why bring up her support for an inquiry for murdered aboriginal women as a reason to support  her as T.O. mayor?  It's a good cause, but I GOT STUCK ON A TTC BUS FOR AN HOUR TODAY, AND SPENT ANOTHER HOUR GROWING OLD IN MY CAR ON DON MILLS ON SATURDAY AFTERNOON!  A DUDE GOT KNIFED UP THE ROAD LAST MONTH IN A FIGHT OVER A LADDER!  AND UPPITY DOWNTOWN RICHY RICH ASSHOLES ARE SCREWING SCARBOROUGH OUTTA ITS RIGHTFUL PARKS & REC MONEY.  AND I'M SUPPOSED TO VOTE OUTTA SOLIDARITY WITH DEAD PEOPLE IN SOME OTHER FUCKING PROVINCE???????  WHAT KIND OF STONED-OUT HIPPYS Chillen'IN THEIR HAMMOCK AND SMOKIN' SPLIFF ON PLANET MORON THOUGHT UP THAT IDEA?  

And there was also the issue of Olivia's inability to communicate.  This charge was usually brought out in reference to her sometimes clunky  English, but I will just note  that her brush will Ramsey Hunt syndrome came at an unfortunate juncture.  She had gotten alot better towards the end of the campaign, but I still think this medical issue might have degraded the quality of some of her off the cuff responses.

As for mayor elect John Tory, the best thing you can say about him is that he is relatively harmless. He will attend gay pride events, as he should.  He won't publicly berate city staff, and when negotiations come up in a year he will probably be looking to extract fewer concessions from his muni workers than a second Ford administration would have.  The thing against QAIA will fade when he realizes that the city's human rights laws depend on the province and he can't do squat unless the province does. Mind you the city might get stuck with another subway that nobody rides, at the cost of billions.  But it can survive that.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Something Ugly This Way Comes

Media preview

I really don't know what this is about, and frankly I'm not sure I want to.  But you wanna talk about the nation losing its innocence?  The career of the nicest guy on Canadian radio ends in a grease fire?  Bad for Jian; bad for CBC.  Bad for Canada.

Friday, October 24, 2014

New Tory Hate Speech Laws? Richard Warman On Government's New Anti-Terror Initiatives

So I read this this morning:

OTTAWA — The Conservatives are understood to be considering new legislation that would make it an offence to condone terrorist acts online.

There is frustration in government, and among law enforcement agencies, that the authorities can’t detain or arrest people who express sympathy for atrocities committed overseas and who may pose a threat to public safety, one Conservative MP said. “Do we need new offences? If so which?”

Sources suggest the government is likely to bring in new hate speech legislation that would make it illegal to claim terrorist acts are justified online.

I emailed Richard Warman, an expert the legal status of on-line hate-speech, and he was kind enough to offer these brief comments:

Extreme online hate posts that target groups or justify violence based on their religion, race, or nationality were illegal under s. 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Conservative Party MPs voted unanimously to repeal s. 13 in June of 2012.  The Conservatives destroyed the only effective legal protection against online hate speech.  Conservative MP Brian Storseth described himself as "ecstatic".  Jonathan Kay of the National Post said "good riddance".

It was the Conservatives who dismantled the law that protected Canadians from online terror.

It would be beyond ironic if the Tories were to resurrect, or create something indistinguishable from, the law they spent so many years trying to get rid of.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Toronto Mayoral Election: A Brief Note

Monday, October 20, 2014

I Voted Out Of Fear Last Night

But I'm OK with it.  And I followed my usual tradition of supporting the person whose name most reminded me of a terrorist for Councillor.  So in that at least I remained true to my progressive roots.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

But Wait! Some Pundit Said Something About Gaffes!!!

Exclusive - While a general election must be held within a year, the Liberals Justin Trudeau continue to lead in voting intentions of Canadians. According to an EKOS survey CBC /, support for the Liberal Party of Canada are at 38.5%, more than 12 points ahead of the Conservatives, who collect only 26.4% of the vote. Nationally, the NDP at 25%.

You know, these days when a pundit criticizes you...what with the news industry in a tailspin down the toilet bowl of failure, and most pundits looking at career changes that likely involve spatula training and properly enunciating the words "would you like fries with that sir?"'s a little bit like getting yelled at by some homeless guy.  The nerve of these people! you think.

PS.  Also lots of talk re Tom Mulcair getting his chance!  Is it too soon to say he's already blown it?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Iraq Debate: The Center Of Gravitas Shifts Jean Chretien.  Mind you, I'm not particularly set in my opinions re Canada's contribution to the fight against ISIS.  These thoughts still apply, more so, perhaps, now that the tide seems to have turned in Kobani.  But JC's main point, that there are more roles to be played in this situation beyond bomb-lobbing, and that being among the bomb-lobbers now may preclude taking up certain other roles later, is a sound one.  It's is certainly nice to hear an adult voice in this debate, rather than kooks like Terry Glavin, who seems to be dabbling a bit heavy in some kind testosterone replacement therapy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Randy Hillier Turns On His Own

Three would-be leaders of Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives made obeisance to the Ontario Landowners Association last weekend, horrifying their caucusmate who helped found the group.

Christine Elliott, Vic Fedeli and Lisa MacLeod, all senior Tory MPPs, went to an “international property rights conference” the association held in Kanata Saturday. Speakers included former Australian politician Len Harris (the only senator ever elected by the nationalist One Nation party, who served one term), Oregon mining-rights activist Ron Gibson (who advocates for private claimants’ right to prospect and mine on federal property) and U.S. environmental thinker Michael Coffman (who promotes a “Judeo-Christian” idea of stewardship that’s opposed to the “pantheistic” religion of modern environmentalism).

On Twitter, Elliott called it a “very informative day.” “Interesting speeches!” Fedeli gushed. MacLeod posted a grinning selfie there.

They must have all made some sort of mistake, says Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington MPP Randy Hillier.

“I would be devastated if any of them knew just what (the landowners’ groups) are promoting these days,” he says.

I'm not sure I buy Randy's claim that he tried to discourage nutbars when he ran the OLA.  However, his break with them took place several years ago and if you read this you'll see his concerns (the landowners focus on the mysterious powers of Crown Land Patents) have remained the same during the intervening period.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Life In Scarborough: Got Me Some Ford Nation Hoodys!!!

My bus crapped out  around Lawrence & Warden.  The bus-driver kicked us all off due to mechanical difficulties, and told everyone the next 54 was coming along any minute.  After 15 minutes waiting, I noticed that our stop was right out front of the Ford Campaign's Scarborough office.   It was quite bustling (they're canvassing out here today) and, more important, was selling those gray hoodys I've noticed around the East End lately.  I bought two for $30 apiece as possible Xmas gifts.  I've got a brother-in-law who worships ROFO, who knows all his secret Etobicoke drinking spots, and my dad on Vancouver Island wants either Ford to win because he loathes Toronto and thinks we deserve it.  I may gift them to them, or I may keep one for myself. Wearing a Ford Nation hoody out in The Scar, as we call it, or The Bro, as we also call it, makes the locals think I'm one of them.  Wearing one amongst downtowner types  makes them think I'm some crazy mofo from The Bro who might knife them for looking at me funny.  So it works either way.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

What Post Media Bought, When They Bought Sun Media

Part of any sale or purchase it that of good will. They buy the title with the assumption that they are buying, in this case a newspaper (s) that are beloved by their customers. We all know that as stated earlier, "when they see the circulation, they'll throw up" I was embarrassed to tell people our paid circulation numbers, they are pitiful. We try to not mention paid versus free, it just complicates things.

Just a rumor; one I'm trying to spread, not start.

Bernie Farber On Ezra Levant And The Jewish Tradition

My favorite bit:

All too often Levant cloaks himself in his Jewish heritage as a true defender of Jewish values, in contrast to those he refers to as the “official Jews,” or Jewish leadership.

Make no mistake, Levant’s antics and intimidation tactics have nothing whatsoever to do with Judaism. Both Jewish law and tradition speak powerfully about “loshon hora,” derogatory speech against a fellow human being, which is absolutely forbidden.

Indeed, in the Jewish tradition, we believe that the tongue has such awesome power that it requires two gatekeepers, the teeth and the lips. It is recognized that words have meaning and that malicious words can have foul consequences. 

Friday, October 03, 2014

Wind Farms Popular In Ontario

Only Forum, but:

More than one half of Ontario voters approve of wind farms in rural areas (56%), while 3-in-10 disapprove (31%) and one tenth don’t have an opinion (13%). This represents an increase in approval from the last time we polled this question (December, 2013 - approve 50%, disapprove 38%). Windfarms are equally popular in all regions of the province, but somewhat more so among New Democrats (66%) and Liberals (65%) than among PC voters (44%). Slightly more than this approve of windfarms offshore in the Great Lakes (60%), one quarter disapprove (24%) and one sixth do not have an opinion (16%). Offshore windfarms are especially popular in Northern Ontario (69%) and among New Democrats (68%).

The "equally popular in all parts of the province" bit is interesting.  One would think this would not be the case South-Western Ontario, where resistance to new wind farms has been strongest.

Why Not Bomb ISIS?

Nine planes for six months; no ground fighting.  Why not?  As a matter of history, many things went wrong with the Arab Spring, but the nature of The West's commitment: providing air-support for indigenous resistance movements (I'm thinking of Libya specifically) was not one of those things. So it might work again, as in Libya.  ISIS's pattern has been to press forward until resisted, and then pull back and try elsewhere when  U.S. bombs start falling.  Like water sloshing in a bucket, back and forth between Iraq and Syria, but in smaller and smaller sloshes as their movements have been gradually constrained.  Six months from now a few of their leaders will have been killed, and their successes will have become less and less. Hopefully the movement will therefore have lost some of its savage allure, and recruiting and fund-raising abilities will be negatively effected.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

News You Can Luze


Monday, September 29, 2014

Ezra's Apology, An Early Draft

Yesterday afternoon, we learned
Today it was announced that Ezra himself would present the apology.  And I was able to secure a first draft of this document from one of my informants inside Sun News.  I have reproduced it below:

Dear Justin,

I know I've acted badly.  I've said things about your mom and dad that would've earned me a well-deserved punch in the mouth from a less finely bred man.  And I'm sorry for that.  But, Justin, there's something I have to get off my chest before I go any further.  

I love you, Justin.  I have for a long time now.  Since you first became an MP and I was back in Calgary defending The West from your dad's policies.  I saw you on on TV and I said to myself I'm gonna make that future liberal prime minister my number one.  

And I've tried, and tried.  Good Lord I've tried.  But you won't talk to me, you won't even look at me, and its made me crazy.   And when I get crazy, you know me, I talk crazy.  And when I talk crazy, the nations various regulatory agencies starting looking at my bosses like they might pull the plug on STV any minute.  And things get all messed up.  

But I'm done, Justin.  I'm done.  I won't follow you around anymore, if you say the word.  I've sent you a box of chocolates with a note saying how sorry I am, and a big bouquet of roses...the biggest I could find!  But you don't have to eat those chocolates, you don't have to read that note; you can through those roses in the dumpster, if you like.

But let me just say that a better man has not been created on this  Earth, Justin.  You are like an archangel, who has flown too low and broken his wings.  I do and will always worship the ground on which you walk. I would kill and die for you, Justin.

Ezra Levant

I imagine they'll be a few changes made to it before air time.