31 May 2006

Atrocity spin

A young girl whose Iraqi family was murdered by U.S. marines speaks out. And after hearing what she witnessed, it's no wonder she says of the Americans, They kill people. Then they say 'sorry'. I hate them.

Thanks to The Business of Emotions for the lead. The previous blog there predicts how Bush et al will use Haditha to save their political morality, by spinning it as an American Tragedy. Oh, that spinning wheel goes round and round.

I'll bet the Harper is taking notes.

The Cons Hot Air

Here's what Mike, at the SaskProgressive Blog has to say about the recent environmental announcements by the Cons: Can you say Hubris?

30 May 2006

Geneva Conventions Out the Window!

Oh my god, nooooo! No, no, no!! This is not my Canada!!!

Troops told Geneva rules don't apply to Taliban


Globe and Mail Update

WASHINGTON — Canadian troops in Afghanistan have been told the Geneva Conventions and Canadian regulations regarding the rights of prisoners of war don't apply to Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters captured on the battlefield.

That decision strips detainees of key rights and protections under the rules of war, including the right to be released at the end of the conflict and not to be held criminally liable for lawful combat.

“The whole purpose of those regulations is to know if Geneva applies,” said Amir Attaran, a law professor at the University of Ottawa who has been pressing the Defence Department for details of its detainee policy for months.

How can we possibly live with this?!?

UPDATE 31May06:
Canadians following rules of war, O'Connor says

CTV.ca News Staff

Prisoners captured in Afghanistan by Canadian forces will have the rights accorded to them by the Geneva Convention, Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor said Wednesday.

"When they take prisoners, they will always follow the rules of the Geneva Convention, no lower standard than that," he told the Commons.

His comments are in response to an article published in Wednesday's Globe and Mail.

That's a relief!

UPDATE 2 02Jun06:

Have a look at this reminder to be wary of the puppeteer.

Another Nicaragua?

It's deja vue! I seem to recall something like this going on in the 80s. I shared an office with the Tools for Peace administrator. From The Globe and Mail:

Bolivian president accuses U.S. of assassination attempt


Associated Press

La Paz — Leftist President Evo Morales said Tuesday the U.S. government had organized groups to kill him and said he believed Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's assertion that Washington was preparing to overthrow his administration.

“I've been informed recently how the U.S. had organized teams — groups to persecute Evo Morales, to kill Evo Morales. They haven't been able to and now we're organized, from unions to this political party and they can't stop us anymore,” Mr. Morales said, without giving more details.

NDP Call the Harperites on Media Antics

Gotta love Charlie Angus for calling it like it is!

NDP MP Gets It Right On Harper VS the Press

Thanks to Buckdog for the lead.

29 May 2006

Worth Working Toward

What would be the chance of this happening under the Harper's regime?

A Minister of Peace for Canada
Weary of waging war, people everywhere are seeking ways of waging peace. We, the Working Group, are committed to the establishment of a Minister of Peace in the Government of Canada. We are convinced that this is an idea whose time has come and that there exists widespread, untapped public support for such an idea.

Given the escalation of violent conflict and insecurity across our world today, there has never been greater urgency nor a better window of opportunity to seed this intent in Canada, The proposed minister would hold peace as an organizing principle in our society. She or he would advance an agenda of individual and collective security based on the principle of the responsibility to protect life through activities promoting a culture of peace and assertive non-violence.

Certainly worth working towards. Read the full piece here. There's more here, including contact information, listserv details and the full proposal.

28 May 2006

International attention on the Harper

Yes, the Harper is making news around the world, but none of it positive. Take a trip to the Experiment where you'll find links to international news media coverage of the Harper's attempt to control the Parliamentary Press Gallery. Media from the UK, Southern Africa, and South America, to name a few, have weighed in on an issue our PM had dismissed as just inside Ottawa stuff.

Cons Mean-Spirited and Bloody-minded: Regina Leader Post

It is rare to find me in agreement with anything Regina Leader-Post financial editor, Bruce Johnstone, says. But here it is: Harper's policies going the wrong way and I can't argue that! In the article, he reports on the news conference/scrum when Ambrose was in town for the non-announcement on ethanol and he mentions Carol Skelton's visit to Regina for $66,000 feasibility study announcement.

Buried deep in the piece is
More importantly, while the Harper government seems fixated on saving nickels and dimes, the bigger picture often gets missed.

Media reports are suggesting that the Tories are looking to axe deals the Liberals made with the provinces to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This despite a recent report that Alberta's GHG emissions rose nearly 40 per cent since 1990, while Saskatchewan's jumped nearly 62 per cent -- the highest in Canada.
It reminded me that this NDP government has to deal with its gas, oil, and coal fixation and put even more effort into alternatives.

Further down in the Johnstone article, he gets to the point:
So the Tories are going to save a few hundred million dollars by chopping GHG reduction projects, all the while saying they can't meet the Liberals' Kyoto targets.

Talk about your self-fulfilling prophecy!

Similarly, the government chopped the EnerGuide for Houses program to save $45 million annually. Yet that same program levered probably 10 times that amount in energy-efficiency improving renovations.

It also reduced average energy consumption and home-heating bills by one-third and greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent, or four tonnes per home per year. It's understandable for the Conservative government to want to put its own stamp on policies, such as Kyoto. It's another thing to systematically kill any program or project the Liberals had a hand in.

That sort of mean-spirited, bloody-mindedness is not in Canadians' best interest.
Mean-spirited, bloody-mindedness! Wow! Nothing quite like telling it like it is, Bruce!

27 May 2006

Ambrose Lies?

The Toronto Star suggests the Harperites are misleading the public on Canada's Kyoto targets.
The Harper government fired the first salvos in this battle when Ambrose announced in the Commons April 7 that national emissions "are actually up by 30 per cent." The Prime Minister then weighed into the fray April 25, saying Canada's emissions had increased by 30 per cent above the Kyoto target.

Other Conservatives jumped on the bandwagon, claiming the failure of Liberal Kyoto policies was obvious because in 2003, emissions were up by only 24 per cent but then jumped all the way to 30 per cent in one year.

All those statements are factually wrong, according to the voluminous "National Inventory Report" prepared by Ambrose's own department and filed last month with the UN's Framework Convention for Climate Change, the agency that meets in Bonn.

Comparing emissions to 1990, the key base year in the Kyoto pact, the report concluded that:
  • Canada's 758 million tonnes of emissions in 2004 were 26.6 per cent higher than the 599 million tonnes in 1990 — not the claimed 30 per cent.
  • After adjusting for better information, the correct figure for 2003 emissions was 25.9 per cent higher than in 1990 — not the quoted 24 per cent.
  • The year-to-year emissions increase was four million tonnes — one of the smallest annual hikes recorded — because less coal was burned in electrical power plants as nuclear plants came back into service.
Fudging numbers to make Kyoto commitments seem impossible to reach is deplorable for a party that campaigned so righteously to Stand Up for Canada! To whose Canada were they referring?

Yes, Canada is off-target on Kyoto but surely that is no reason to stop striving for the goals to which we've committed!

Thanks to LE REVUE GAUCHE - Left Analysis And Comment for the lead.

Flip-flop, flip-flop

After the bad press the Government of Canada received in the international community and at home, the Harperites appear to be changing their minds on Kyoto and proceeding to the second phase. One must wonder if the decision has anything to do with citizen action in Edmonton and Regina.

And the Harper is doing some serious back-peddling on the issue of media attendance at the repatriation of fallen Canadian soldiers. That's most certainly because of the words of Capt. Nichola Goddard's father:
"I would like to think that Nichola died to protect our freedoms, not to restrict them. I cannot support the privacy decision. There was room on the tarmac for a military videographer and a still photographer. They did not intrude on our grief.”
And I wouldn't be surprised if the buzz on the right and ongoing stories about the Parliamentary Press Gallery have contributed to the flipping and a-flopping. Of course the Harper will say he's listening to Canadians (who all know his MO is to secure a Majority Conservative Government--may it never come to fruition!)

Thanks to The Galloping Beaver for the lead.

26 May 2006

Toward A Hypertext Poem

Message Manager

If a political philosophy exalts nation,
embraces autocratic leadership, as in a Victorian family
If it promotes economic and social regimentation through legislation
and spending and suppresses opposition, then why
is it not named fascism?

Comments welcome.

Political Poetry: Haiku

In struggling to bring it back to poetry I found Spark of Freedom: Poem: Anti-Oppression Haiku and then went a-googling and discovered political haiku from our neighbours to the south, and from Canada, more specifically, from Dr. L. P. Visentin, an artist and a poet who is the President and Vice-Chancellor of Brandon University, the university which is conferring an honourary Doctorate on fiction writer, Miriam Toews.

Cool, huh? I'm certain that the U of Regina and other universities -- not to mention writers -- would benefit from having poets in the Administration!

Towards a Citizens' Statement on Water (SK)

From the Saskatchewan Environmental Society:

If you are interested in participating in a process to help create
progressive water protection and governance policies for Saskatchewan,
please plan to attend the following meeting in Regina:

Friday June 9, 2006
Classroom building, University of Regina
Classroom 305
1:30 PM to 4:00 PM

Meetings in Saskatoon are scheduled for May 31 and June 1 and North
Battleford and Prince Albert meetings are in the planning stages.

(Please circulate this notice to others, thanks)

At this Regina session, and at similar sessions in other centres, we will hold informal, round-table discussions to get your input into a Saskatchewan Citizens' Statement of Expectations on Water Protection and Governance. Our hope is that we can create a consensus document that will be supported by many organizations and that can serve as a blueprint for local and provincial governments and help move them toward improved water protection and governance legislation and policies.

In preparation for these sessions, we will circulate a discussion version draft of a Saskatchewan Citizens' Statement of Expectations on Water Protection and Governance; you should receive that in the coming days. If you do not, please contact me at darrinq@environmentalsociety.ca or visit the Environmental Society website to get a copy. The draft will include a set of headings and policy points on which we can build at
the round-table sessions.

It would be great if people could let me know that they're coming. That way, if many people want to attend, we can add an additional session to keep numbers workable. Thanks.


At the late-March water conference in Saskatoon organized by the
Saskatchewan Environmental Society (SES), many people expressed an interest
in contributing energy and thought to drafting a consensus document on water
protection. As a result, the SES is now coordinating the formulation of a
¡ÈSaskatchewan Citizens¡Ç Statement of Expectations on Water Protection and
Governance.¡É The hope is that citizens and organizations will come
together to create a clear, concise statement of citizens¡Ç expectations on
issues such as:
- Wetlands protection;
- Water exports;
- Water conservation;
- Source water protection (protecting watersheds in order to protect
drinking water quality and quantity);
- Water pricing and allocation (commodification vs. the human right to
- Water diversions; and
- Drinking water safety and the prevention of contamination by chemicals and
other toxins.

The late-May/early-June consultations in several centres are one part of a
broad-based initiative will include several steps:

- Meetings and consultations to develop a Statement of Expectations;
- Work to expand and link together the network of Saskatchewan citizens and organizations working on water issues;
- Additional consultations and finalization of the Statement of Expectations;
- Efforts to gather sign-on from a wide range of organizations;
- Presentation to government; and
- Continued work as government policy is developed to ensure that local and provincial government policies reflect the wishes of Saskatchewan citizens.

The Statement of Expectations process has worked very well in Ontario. In that province, organizations led by Canadian Environmental Law Association and Environmental Defence created an Ontario Source Water Protection Statement of Expectations (focused slightly more narrowly-on watershed protection in the context of drinking water purity). The Ontario document exists in both long and short forms and can be accessed at their website.

In the wake of the North Battleford water crisis and in the face of growing uncertainty about water supplies and quality, Saskatchewan governments at all levels are working to create new policies on water allocation, protection, conservation, and security of supply. Our Statement of Expectations process is an important initiative to provide focused citizen leadership to governments as they formulate these important policies.

I hope that you can participate in this process and I look forward to working collectively with many Saskatchewan citizens and organizations.


Darrin Qualman
Water Issues Coordinator
Saskatchewan Environmental Society
(306) 492-4714

25 May 2006

Con Party Uses Government Resources for Partisan Purposes?

24 May 2006

Harper Equals Bush

Right out of GW's playbook: if you don't like what the media is saying, find media that will like what you say.

The Harper, 24 May 06
Harper says he'll avoid 'biased' national media
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the national media are biased, and he will work hard to avoid them.

Canadian Press
Published: Wednesday, May 24, 2006

OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the national media are biased against him so he will avoid them from now on.

The prime minister says the Ottawa press gallery seems to have decided to become the opposition to his Conservative government.

He told a London, Ont., TV station Wednesday that he is having problems with the media that a Liberal prime minister would never have to face.

So Harper says he will take his message out on the road and deal with the less hostile local media.

The Bush, 14 October 2003
Bush Courts Regional Media

By Dana Milbank
Washington Post
Tuesday, October 14, 2003; Page A04

The Bush administration, displeased with the news coverage of the war in Iraq, has accelerated efforts to bypass the national media by telling the administration's story directly to the American public.

Yesterday, Bush granted exclusive interviews to five regional broadcasting companies -- an unprecedented effort to reach news organizations that do not regularly cover the White House.

This stinks. Wholly and completely! This from a PM who campaigned about accountability and transparency. Without a national media, where's the transparency? Where's the accountability? We'll have different takes on a story all across the country, which in and of itself is not a bad thing when combined with a national point of view. This takes us back a hundred years or so, I'm sure.

Surely, a Prime Minister does not have the right to dictate what the media can and cannot say about the leader and his government! Doing so lays a cornerstone for a fascist state. He has gone too far!

Email the PMO, NOW!

Thanks to The Galloping Beaver for the lead.

UPDATE 1: A strategic suggestion from The Hive: If the NDP war-roomer's are smart...

UPDATE 2: Conservative mouthpiece Geoff Norquay said
The reality is that every new government wants to keep a tight lid on its messages and this one in particular because it had the previous example of Mr. Martin who had so many priorities that they all turned to mush in the minds of the Canadian people. And that's why this government is tightly focused on its messages.
So, Canadian's have no minds? And the Harper isn't trying to manipulate and control those minds?

U.S. Nurtured Terrorism: German Novelist @ PEN Conference

Here in Canada we have The Harper bringing the political wizard from Oz to praise their American Idol, The Bush, while in Europe -- in Berlin, Germany, to be precise -- a Nobel Laureate for Literature, Gunter Grass, lambastes The Bush and Co. for crimes and other actions that only encourage terrorism and strengthen dictatorial regimes. Grass opened the 72nd International PEN Congress, Writing in a World without Peace this week, where writers from more than 90 countries are gathered to share information regarding freedom of expression and writing around the world.

At the PEN Canada website is a Take Action item regarding Iranian-Canadian writer and philosopher, Ramin Jahanbegloo, who has been detained in Tehran since about April 27, 2006. He has not been informed as to why he is being held, but there are some suggestions that it is because he has contacts with foreigners. The UK-based Open Democracy says Mr. Jahanbegloo is a philosopher committed to the principle of non-violence and that he has worked tirelessly to foster cultural understanding and dialogue between Iranians and other societies. Their open letter, demanding his release, is signed by hundreds of scholars from around the globe. Though he has not been tortured, there is concern for his health and PEN Canada demands he be released immediately and unconditionally.

Thanks to Book Ninja for the lead on this.

23 May 2006

Snubbing The Control Freak Harper

I smell a big policy reversal coming if The Harper wants his majority. From MacLean's: Journalists snub PM
May 23, 2006 - 18:51

Journalists boycott Harper news conference as media battle heats up


OTTAWA (CP) - About two dozen journalists walked out on Stephen Harper on Tuesday after he refused to take their questions, the latest chapter in an increasingly unseemly spat between the prime minister and members of the national media.

The scene of reporters boycotting a prime ministerial news conference was described by Parliament Hill veterans as a first. It resulted in Harper being forced to make his announcement on aid to Darfur to a small handful of reporters, photographers and cameramen outside the House of Commons.

From The Globe and Mail: Charest snubs The Harper
Quebec to go it alone on Kyoto, Charest says

Canadian Press

LAVAL, Que. — Quebec Premier Jean Charest says he's ready to act alone to respect the Kyoto accord if the federal government reneges on its commitments.

"The Quebec government is resolutely committed to Kyoto and we intend to soon announce our policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Mr. Charest said Tuesday.
Such principled action!

The Harper's Boo-boos: A Summary

Well, if I'd've just waited a couple of days I wouldn't have had to blog so much last week! Because, here's a nice summary of The Harper's boo-boos:

Harper's disdain for Parliament grows more visible by the day
PM's petulant reactions forming a sorry pattern

Don Martin, Calgary Herald; CanWest News Service
Published: Friday, May 19, 2006

OTTAWA - He emerged from the squeaker Commons vote on extending the Afghanistan mission, ignored the speaking podium his staff had set up and waved off questions until he could climb a handful of steps toward his second-floor office.

Having reached the desired altitude for showcasing his superior attitude in vintage Brian Mulroney style, Stephen Harper turned to lord over the assembled media with his message.
Thanks to The Cylinder for the lead.

22 May 2006

Write Letters re Fed Changes to Climate Change Policy

This action is recommended by David Suzuki Foundation, the Sierra Club of Canada, Greenpeace Canada, and Young Environmental Professionals (Ottawa Chapter). Be sure to take a look at the links for each of the talking points they suggest. Thorough! And there is a link to a sample letter.

Might also want to mention that the Minister for the Environment's announcement today in Regina is not good enough.

Consider sending a copy of your letter to Minister Ambrose. And, remember that land-mailed letters tend to carry a bit more weight with politicians and are more likely to be read. But sending an email is better than doing nothing.

Thanks to stolen moments of island time for the lead.

Ambrose would not face dissent

About twenty Singers of the Sacred Web (and friends) gathered at the airport to welcome Minister for the Environment, Rona Ambrose, to Regina. Standing around Shelley Sopher's photographic installation of the Old Man on His Back Tipi Ring we sang two songs written by songwriter, spiritual feminist, and social activist, Carolyn McDade. The songs, based on words from the Earth Charter, apparently frightened the Honourable Minister away.

We sang:
We of Earth
We declare our responsibility
To the whole, to the future
We of Earth declare
(which has a few more verses) and
We are one
One human family
One Earth community
A common destiny for all
How sad the Minister lacked the courage to listen to our voices raised in song!

More Boo-booing on Kyoto

Thanks to Sinister Thoughts for the lead on this story.

Seems the international community and others are disappointed with Canada's decision to pull out of Kyoto.

The European Union has urged Canada to respect goals for slowing global warming.

The Climate Action Network, a worldwide network of over 340 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working to promote government and individual action on climate change today said, The Canadian government of Stephen Harper is trying to sabotage 15 years of international efforts to address climate change.

Not only is the international community unhappy, but so are some businesses. Tech firms working on solutions on global warming suggest that putting climate program in limbo not only hurts progress but also innovation.

Is this the leadership the Harper was going on about? According to Peter MacKay's leaked Briefing Notes, the Harperites know that a pull-out from Kyoto will damage Canada's international reputation. The Harper and the Ambrose and the rest of the UltraCons are more than wrong on this.

I concur with Halifax Chronicle columnist, Richard Gwyn who says, What’s missing from Ambrose’s equation is what’s known as leadership. Also missing is any sense of moral obligation.

Nuff said.

21 May 2006

Welcoming Minister Ambrose to SK

A greeting party! I'm so excited! Meet at the Teepee Ring in the Arrivals & Departures area at the Regina airport. Bring a placard if you like.

Greeting the Federal Minister of the Environment with Songs from the Earth Charter.

The Singers of the Sacred Web will gather with citizens concerned for Earth at the Regina Airport at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, May 22, to greet the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of the Environment.

The Singers of the Sacred Web, with citizens concerned for Earth, will sing from the Earth Charter by way of protesting the Federal Government's plan to scrap Kyoto and eliminate climate change programs including the One Tonne Challenge.

For more information contact
Ruth Blaser

The songs are very catchy and easy to sing.

BTW, Linda McQuaig makes a good case for staying with climate change programs..

Finally, Poetry

Not mine, and not poetry, but this review of a memoir by Nigerian poet, Wole Soyinka, who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986. As I learned in Amy Goodman's April 2006 interview with him he was a peaceworker accused of conspiracy and imprisoned by the dictatorial Nigerian government of the late 60's. He spent almost two years in solitary confinement, an attempt he says, to break his mind.

My favourite nugget from what I've read of Soyinka's work thus far: The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism. Do you think the Harper and his merry band of UltraCons and right-wingnuts could learn something here? B-)

Saving EnerGuide

Thanks to Maple Leaf Politics for the link to this story about Natural Resources Minister from Quebec, Pierre Corbeil, and his effort to save the EnerGuide Program at a meeting in Regina on May 24.

Now this is interesting. The program is still on the federal government's website. And Quebec's PM, Jean Charest and the Harper are great buds. Makes me wonder if pulling this one off might help the Harper save face in Quebec and the rest of the country.

Environmental organizations have called for action, insisting the Harper reverse this cut. But would he do so at the expense of the Alberta oil industry and those who paved his way to 24 Sussex?

Then again, one can't help but wonder if this meeting will be a nuclear energy love-fest. After all, the nuke-loving Australian PM, John Howard, recently met with the Harper. Oh, these wealthy white males!

We'll see what transpires.

20 May 2006

Another Harper Boo-boo

It seems the poor PM is having a bad week. In at least his fifth blunder this week, the Harper jumped on board a false story in the National Post, ready to rally with Bush against Iran.

Antonio Zerbisias at the Toronto Star has a lengthy post discussing the issue.

And here's an interesting twist to the story, thanks to My Blawg.

Ah, poor, poor Stephen, caught in the midst of an attempt to manufacture consent...

UPDATE:Just a bit more on this from Daily Kos.

Scrapping Kyoto Commitments

As if to confirm what we all knew was coming:

OTTAWA — Canada will not support attempts by other countries to set deeper emission-reduction targets for the Kyoto Protocol's second phase, according to private instructions to Canadian negotiators in Bonn, Germany.

The instructions obtained by The Globe and Mail also show that Canada wants the climate-change accord phased out in favour of a separate, voluntary deal.

So now the Harper has picked on peaceniks, trade unionists, and environmentalists, as well as Ontario's McGuinty and the Liberal Party.

Gotta wonder who's next.

UPDATE: Canada wants into Asia Pacific Partnership on Climate Change. Thanks to Dymaxion World for the lead.

19 May 2006

Harper's Boo-boos

This week has been a week of boo-boos for the Harper.

Wanting the appointment of Encana's former CEO, Gwyn Morgan to go off without a hitch and then whining about it like a child was Boo-boo Number 1.

Boo-boo Number 2 was also a two-part boo-boo. The severely limited debate on the extension of the mission in Afghanistan has the peace movement rejuvenated and working toward the next election. And, though the Harper won the vote in the House and succeeded in splitting the Liberals, he will definitely lose support in Quebec as a result of this.

Boo-boo Number 3 has to do with the visit of Ozzie PM John Howard, another union-busting, nuke-loving, neo-conservative Bush-lover. It's a great way to link those who have a different vision for Canada with those who have a different vision for Oz.

And boo-boo Number 4 is written up by Cowboys for Social Responsibility.

All this conservatism and still, the Bushite won't meet with the Harper.

And the week's not even over, eh?

UPDATE: Words of advice for PMSH.

Update #2:Boo-boo Number 5The PM slams alleged religious label law