Friday, December 29, 2006

Not In My Beach

Both the Globe and the Star have good articles on how some residents of the Beach (or the Beaches, for the holdouts) are objecting to a proposal by an Anglican parish to once-weekly for twelve weeks host twelve homeless people overnight. I thought this quote from a local councilor was particularly choice:

Local Councillor Sandra Bussin said the residents are concerned about supervision and wonder whether there is a need for this program. Ms. Bussin also wonders whether the program is effective.

"I understand a number of the Out of the Colds are very volunteer-driven, there's many hours, people are exhausted by this level of service and there's a move away because of the amount of effort that goes into it," she said.

The Good Councilor obviously has first the concerns of the worst-off. And she's probably right: housing people in a church just doesn't make much sense. There are no beds, maybe no showers, and it's just not comfortable. So, maybe we could find a better place. I propose 316 Glen Manor Dr. It's in a great part of the Beach, and I suspect that it's quite nice digs. And, since Sandra Bussin has no trouble telling a church how it's resources should and shouldn't be used, I am sure she would have no trouble with me telling her how her living room should be used.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ripping up ballots in Nova Scotia

Today's Chronicle-Herald reports that the Chief Electoral Officer for the Shubenacadie band has been charged with destroying ballots, among other offenses. This makes a further case for the Department of Indian Affairs handing over the administration of band elections to a more competent party, like Elections Canada. On the same note, Tom Flanagan had an interesting if provocative article about the need for (better) elections on reserves in yesterday's Globe.

"L'énigmatique Monsieur Mazhari"

I am sitting in a friend's unbelievable apartment in Toronto reading La Presse. Figures, as I read the Star religiously when I am in Montreal. Anyways, there is a great article today on the absolute whackjob to whom Miriam Bedard is married. This, for me, is the killer paragraph:

Ceux qui ont croisé la route de Nima Mazhari s'entendent sur une chose : c'est un homme qui raconte des histoires abracadabrantes. Genre : il fut ami de Picasso. Il est devenu riche grâce à une usine de fabrication de fausses pièces de Mercedes. Il a convaincu Jean Chrétien de ne pas participer à l'invasion de l'Irak. Et il a tenté, en vain, pendant un an, de prévenir les autorités américaines des attaques de 2001.

All in all this is a sad story of a bizarre couple.

UPDATE: Dennis, you want it, you got it. A poor translation:

Those who cross paths with Nima Mazhari come across the same thing: he's a man who tells unbelievable/incredible/magical stories. Example: he was a friend of Picasso. He became rich through a plant fabricating Mercedes parts. He convinced Jean Chretien to not participate in the invasion of Iraq. And he tried for one year, in vein, to inform American authorities of the attacks in 2001.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Pinocet at the Hitchens Post

What the National Post gives, Christopher Hitchens takes away. And he's right.

Hello Harper, goodbye Rupert

Stephen Harper made a visit to Quebec yesterday. Aside from affirming that English Quebecers and are not a part of the Quebec nation, he also announced that the Eastmain power generation project will go forward, meaning that the government will divert the Rupert River.

I've written earlier about the Rupert; about its spine-shattering rapids, its route across the bottom of the Taiga, its absolute magnificence. But I've also witnessed the material wealth and security afforded to Cree communities in Northern Quebec which shames that of the Crees on the Ontario side of James Bay. So, I am torn about the value of this project. The benefits are clear, but the drawbacks are perhaps harder to put into numbers. What I am certain about, however, is that everyone who can you should hop on the James Bay Highway and see the Rupert before it's gone.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Saturday, December 16, 2006

East Coast Mount Allisons

The East Coast Music Awards nominations were recently announced, and they might as well name them the East Coast Mount Allisons. Jana Starling, a professor of music at MTA, was has been nominated in for best classical recording. And, closer to home, In Flight Safety - of MTV Live and Dell computers commercial fame - have been nominated for four awards including Group Recording of the Year, Rising Star(s), Video of the Year, and Alternative Recording of the Year (where they'll be going up against the indefatigable and probably unshirted Jon Epworth, another Allisonian).

But, most significant to me is that David Myles has also been nominated for the Rising Star award. Now, I knew David back when he was the shy and unassuming leader of a ten piece funk band that used to pack Hesler Hall. And I knew him when he used to host the what was probably the most popular radio show in China, which is the same time that he was playing to a stadium of people in a blues band. Yes, I can see talent that others cannot. So, I am not surprised, but quite pleased. Good luck, David.

Friday, December 15, 2006

You think?

You think his personal problems have taken a toll? It will only get worse before it gets better.

The moral hazards of Liberal fundraising

The Globe has a story today about how the Liberal Party is going to hold fundraisers to pay off the collective leadership debts of all leadership candidates. On the face of it, this seems like a nice show of unity. But, on deeper thought, it obviously invites a moral hazard, especially if candidates are given money proportionate to their debts. The only way the party can avoid this is by distributing the dollars entirely evenly between the candidates (i.e. total raised/# of candidates), or, even better, by giving them a share of the money equal to the their first ballot placement (i.e. total raised*share of first ballot). If the money is distributed proportionate to debt, then it just encourages behaviour like Bob Rae's (borrow tonnes of cash from corporate donors) and discourages action like Michael Ignatieff's (work your tail off through countless small fundraising endeavours).

I am glad that there is unity in the Liberal party. It's good for them and good for our democracy. But unity shouldn't overcome reason, and there seems little justification, in my mind, for rewarding foolish behaviour during the leadership race. If they do, expect to see a lot of blown banks after the next race.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Peter Brock, RIP.

Ah, for just one time I would take the Northwest Passage.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Rodney MacDonald and Liquor

The Herald has a most interesting editorial on the privatization of NS liquor stores. What's the phrase? Ah, yes, the jig is up.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Why aren't journalists helping Mahar Arar?

The Globe features a story today on the government's continued search for RCMP officials who leaked false information to the press about Mahar Arar. Colour me confused, because I don't understand why journalists who were lied to just don't give up their sources. I have all the respect in the world for people like Juliet O'Neill, who stood up for her journalistic rights in the face of an illegal RCMP raid. But now, given that she's been lied to, why doesn't she reveal who deceived her? And why not all the other journalists who received false tips? If they believe the Arar case is a tragedy, then they should square up to their role in its furthering.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Leslie Bruce

I received awful news on Saturday. Leslie Bruce - a fellow Allisonian and a person of the finest character - was killed in an accident on Thursday. I cannot imagine the depth of loss experienced by her family and close friends. Her obituary follows in full. It does not capture the depth of the imprint she's left on the earth, but it awes nonetheless.

BRUCE, LESLIE ELIZABETH - The family of Leslie Elizabeth Bruce is saddened by her accidental death in Fredericton on Thursday, December 7, 2006. Leslie was born on December 26, 1979 in Saint John, graduating from St. Malachy's High School (1997) with high honors and receiving her Bachelor of Science degree from Mount Allison University in 2001, with a major in Biology and a minor in Women's Studies. Leslie also received the "Flying A" award from Mount Allison, which represents leadership in both the Community and the University. Leslie was currently attending the University of New Brunswick (Fredericton) and was to graduate this spring with her Bachelor of Education degree, specializing in elementary studies. Leslie was a leader in so many of her endeavours whether it was student councils, Camp Glenburn as "Fee", or pursuing her passion for the care of the environment. Working at Lake O'Hara, British Columbia held a special place in her heart where she hiked many mountain trails. Leslie loved the outdoors and, in particular, her travels across Canada by bicycle with the Climate Change Caravan which she was instrumental in organizing. Her travels also took her to Australia, China, Britain, the Carribean, and most recently, Boston and Florida. While at Mount Allison University, Leslie was Chairperson of the Blue Green Society, a member of the press for a group of World Trade Organization protesters in Seattle, Washington, and a participant in an exchange program in Britain, learning to build straw bale homes. In addition to pursuing her scholastic endeavours, Leslie was often busy sailing, canoeing and camping along the Saint John River, predominantly at her family cottage in Glenwood. She loved Birkenstocks, music, dancing and playing the guitar. Everyone who knew Leslie admired her compassionate and adventurous spirit. Always a true friend, Leslie made a special impact on all those she knew. Devoted to her family and friends, Leslie will be deeply missed by her mother, Marilyn (Marr) Bruce; father, Michael Bruce and Anne Musgrave; brother, Andrew Bruce; maternal grandmother, Constance (Mooney) Marr; aunt, Ann Devereaux (Andy); uncle, Dr. David Marr (Judy); cousins: Alex and Martinique Devereaux and Colin, Sara, Jeffrey and Brian Marr; several great aunts, cousins and extended family. Leslie was predeceased by her maternal grandfather, Ralph B. Marr and her paternal grandparents, Andrew E and Jean (Thompson) Bruce. Resting at Brenan's Select Community Funeral Home, 111 Paradise Row, Saint John (506) 634-7424 with visiting on Sunday from 7-9 pm and Monday from 2-4 and 7-9 pm. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated from Our Lady of the Assumption, 360 Dufferin Row, Saint John West on Tuesday, December 12, 2006 at 12 noon. A private family interment will be held on a later date. Remembrances may be made to Mindcare N.B. Foundation, Nancy Clark Teed Charitable Foundation or a charity of the donor's choice.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Silly me. I thought it was a victory for accountability and the non-deportation of citizens to be tortured.

From today's Globe article on the long-overdue resignation of Zaccardelli, we get this great tidbit:

Retired RCMP superintendent Ben Soave, now a security consultant, blamed the news media and politicians for the resignation of his close friend.

“It's going to be very difficult to find a man of his integrity and commitment to public service and law enforcement. This is a sad day for the organization. As far as I'm concerned it's a victory for terrorism, organized crime and the scum of the earth,” he said.

Sorry, Ben, but when the Commissioner of the RCMP either fails to inform his minister that he's helping someone be tortured or he is too incompetent to know this, and either way he lies to Parliament, then he has to resign. And it's not a victory for the scum of the earth. It's a reminder that no one is above the law, even those we charge with enforcing it (or not, in this case).

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Jack Layton on Dion's citizenship

Jack Layton proves himself a boor today: "I would prefer that a leader of a party hold only Canadian citizenship, because one represents many Canadians, and for me that means that it's better to remain the citizen of one country," Layton said. "But for a person that isn't in a position of representing others, holding dual citizenship is fine with us." Well, I am glad it's ok with you, Jack.

I presume Jack will also request that any future Jewish Prime Minister deny her right of return, lest we not know where her loyalties lie. Layton once again shows that he is just a politician like the others.

I can't believe this debate is even occurring. Does anyone really question Mr Dion's loyalty to Canada? Or do they have no argument beyond a birthright and a knowledge that some will respond prejudicially to anything French?

UPDATE: I'd say the following site might hold relevant information for any member of Parliament of Austrian descent who may be interested in running for Prime Minister someday.

I wonder if it's too dark in a Syrian prison to prepare a new resume?

Things are looking worse for Mr Zaccardelli and better for all Canadians. The response of the PM in this article doesn't sound like much of an endorsement. Even worse, Conservative MPs seem to have turned on the Good Commissioner.

Zaccardelli suggests at the end of the article that the reason why the RCMP top brass failed to intervene in the torture of Mahar Arar is not because they didn't give a shit, but because they didn't know. Now, normally this would be a firing offense, but the Good Commissioner has suggested that no one is at fault because the problem is "institutional." Who, pray tell, is in charge of that institution?

It warms my heart to think that this man will be out of work, probably in a few days. I am not sure it does terribly much for Arar, however, and that's the point.

Coyne on Dion

It's no secret Andrew Coyne is a long-time fan of Dion. In his latest column, I think he captures the essence of Dion well. He is a man much like Harper, but different in at least a few important respects. The next election should be one for the ages:

His is a singular political persona; we have not seen anything quite like it before. In intellect, courage, and conviction he is a match for Mr. Harper, as he is also in diligence, perseverance and integrity. Beyond that he is a paradox: outwardly humble, yet immensely self-assured; gentle in demeanour, yet tough as nails; respectful of opponents’ views, yet divinely certain of his own.

And overarching all is a quite unblemished authenticity: there is not an ounce of phoney in this man. Mr. Harper has, perhaps inevitably, acquired something of a Machiavellian reputation in the course of his rise to power. Mr. Dion has not. If anything, he is regarded as almost too sincere (on the environment, in particular, he risks coming across as a fanatic, even if it is “the issue of our time”). But authenticity, besides being a virtue, is a potent political weapon. The public can sense it, and hungers for it.

Liberal Loans and C-24

This Globe article raises the quite interesting question of what Liberal leadership candidates will do to retire their quite considerable loans (especially in the case of Bob Rae). There are basically three options: devote large amounts of time in the next 18 months to raise money to retire the loans; write off the loans and see what action Elections Canada takes; or leave it to the party to pay off the debts. The first course of action is bound to failure and is just purely unwise from the party's perspective. The collective debt of candidates is around 2.5 million. With $1000 donation limits soon to come into effect, this means that for all candidates to retire their debts they would need to find 2500 donors willing to give all the money they are allowed to in a year to retire debts from a race which is over. It is unrealistic and maybe imprudent.

The second course of action, however, runs the risk of exposing a major loophole in C-24 and putting Elections Canada in an awkward position. Moreover, it opens the Liberals up to ethics questions.

The third option is for the party to retire debts using the funds it raises from individuals. But this, it seems, will create a major moral hazard in future races. This is a no win for the Liberals.

Oh, to be back in the days when one could retire leadership debts without having to tell us how it was accomplished.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Liberals Conservatives delight in Harper's Dion's election

February 2004 December 2006 - Liberals Conservatives today were privately and sometimes publicly thrilled with the election of Stephen Harper Stéphane Dion as leader of the opposition. Liberal Conservative strategists have pointed out that Harper Dion is bookish, sometimes solitary, intellectually demanding, a poor gladhander, and not known as a team player. Moreover, they point out that the Conservatives Liberals have elected a leader from the West Quebec. They are doubtful that Mr Harper Mr Dion will be popular among Ontarians Central Canadians, and are certain he will not appeal to Quebecers Westerners. Among his greatest handicaps are his years as a bright light in the Reform Liberal caucus of Preston Manning Jean Chretien and Paul Martin.

Wanker Levant

Ezra Levant has a brilliant column in today's Calgary Sun. He spends about 90% of it questioning the loyalty of Stephane Dion, based on his French citizenship (his mother was a French citizen). And this despite the fact that he's never held a French passport or voted in a French election. He then polishes up Ted Morton a bit, without mentioning that he's an American citizen. Now, I don't think it matters for either of them, but you think Ezra could at least try to be consistent.

Anyways, it's just amazing to witness Ezra Levant calling into question the loyalty of a man who has suffered countless indignities for his defense of a united Canada. And never once has he resorted to a lawsuit, which is more than you can say for Ezra, who would sue his own mother.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Dion was never in fourth

I have read at least six articles today which have suggested that Dion was in fourth on the first ballot. This is not true. He was perhaps fourth in regular delegate count, though we cannot be certain without knowing the distribution of registered delegates, alternates, and the distribution of spoiled ballots. But, when the all votes were counted he was in third. Arguably, he could never have gone from fourth to first, because he would have been obligated to move to Kennedy. So, no more of this fourth to first. It's incorrect, incomplete, and unhelpful in the analysis of the convention outcome.

Goodbye Zaccardelli

UPDATE2: Just when I thought Zaccardelli couldn't be more capable of incompetency and outright dishonesty this comes out. Either he was complicit in Arar's torture or he had no control over his organization. Either way, any self-respecting minister would ask him to resign. I am beyond believing this man has the integrity to resign on his own accord. As for Julian Fantino, get to work. You have no business giving Zaccardelli "a show of support" when you have duties to attend to in Ontario.

It's all a little rich for our government to be criticizing the Chinese on human rights when they condone this type of action by their top cop.

UPDATE: Scanning Coyne's backpages, I came across this article on Zaccardelli. He makes the case much more compellingly than I ever could. To be clear, the RCMP took deliberative action to keep Mr Arar in prison in Syria, while fully aware he was innocent. And while being fully aware that he would be tortured there. How this man sleeps at night is a question for the ages. And how Mr Day, normally a champion of human rights, does not request his firing leaves me counting sheep.

I'd say this was the last straw, but then I thought that complicity in the deportation of a Canadian citizen to be tortured in Syria was enough. I also thought that covering it up and deceiving ministers of the crown was enough. So let's just say that this is the third fireable offense. And I hope the government sends this man packing. This is a lot worse than expensing a pack of gum.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Ignatieff leads turnout

According to TDH Strategies, Ignatieff's campaign is leading in registration/turnout. This should help push Ignatieff up into the low thirties. Regardless of whether a measurable share of these people will leave him after the first ballot, this further demonstrates his organizational superiority. This bodes well for his on the floor organization.

I will be interested to see the numbers from Dion, which a good friend and operative of his claimed would be quite promising. Indeed, the Dion to Kennedy turnout ratio will be our best indicator of who finishes ahead of whom for third place and thus a shot at facing Ignatieff on the final ballot.