Friday, October 31

The Galloping Beaver: Petition for justice for Robert Dziekanski

The Galloping Beaver: Petition for justice for Robert Dziekanski

"... prosecutors weren't able to meet that deadline because the material received from RCMP investigators was deemed incomplete, with a required report on the use of deadly force missing."

"RCMP investigators have taken more than a year to provide Crown with the material needed to decide whether any or all of the four officers involved should be charged with Dziekanski's death."

This is a disgrace and I share Alison's outrage. Here is the link to the Justice for Robert Dziekanski petition:

Montreal Simon: Margaret Wente, Shaidle, and the Moral Dimension

Montreal Simon: Margaret Wente, Shaidle, and the Moral Dimension

More on waste of space Margaret Wente and her colonialist attack on our native people.

Thursday, October 30

Troy's Scribbles: Three former residential schools, dozens of graves

Troy's Scribbles: Three former residential schools, dozens of graves: "That's an estimated 237 graves from three schools. And there were hundreds of these damned institutions in both Canada and the USA."

Troy concludes:

That's an estimated 237 graves from three schools. And there were hundreds of these damned institutions in both Canada and the USA.

I've read correspondence between Indian Agents and their bosses in Ottawa dating back to the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s and the total disrespect shown in those letters and memos paints a very clear picture of how despicable and paternalistic their attitude was (and continues to be for far too many Canadians). The underlying motive for residential schools was assimilation. The government with the enthusiastic support of churches hoped to purge our FN, Inuit and Aboriginal peoples of their culture and identity. I think the first step to truth and reconciliation is identifying their actions as a policy of cultural genocide.

Wednesday, October 29

Sudbury Against War and Occupation: Indigenous cultures rivalled those of civilizations around the globe

Sudbury Against War and Occupation: Indigenous cultures rivalled those of civilizations around the globe

Ms. Wente's true colours were revealed yet again as she basically trumpeted European superiority to the "savages" they met in their colonial quest. Here is a brilliant rebuttal from Hayden King, a member of Beausoleil First Nation and professor of Indigenous Studies at McMaster University.

Sunday, October 26

Another Point of View: Coalition Opposition Needed Against Harper Agenda

Another Point of View: Coalition Opposition Needed Against Harper Agenda: "But given Canadians' resilient attachment to progressive values, this world of lowered expectations could be challenged by genuine visionary political leadership."

A must read article by Murray Dobbin is profiled. I have made my comments at APOV.

Monday, October 20

Troy's Scribbles: LaForme's resignsation signals exactly how much Conservative's value First Nations

Troy Thomas once again hits the nail on the head. Harper is not a friend to FN, Inuit and Aboriginal people. The sooner everyone realizes that, the sooner we can turf him out of government. Shame that LaForme's resignation didn't come before E-day. Harper figured an apology and sham commission would be enough to pass as a platform for Aboriginal issues.

Troy's Scribbles: LaForme's resignsation signals exactly how much Conservative's value First Nations

Tuesday, October 7

Harper launches his Coffee Table Book

Oops, I meant election platform, one week before the election date. Globe and Mail provides a nice summary description:

The document is entitled “The True North Strong and Free: Stephen Harper's plan for Canadians.” It's a slim, glossy, 41-page booklet printed in huge blue font and includes 22 colour photos of Mr. Harper.

It features loads of photos of Harper being the bid daddy in the blue sweater. He wants to bring back the real meaning of patriotism to Canadians: the word derives from the Latin patria or “fatherland”.

Big Daddy will kiss your children and keep your neighbourhoods safe from sex offenders. He’ll also be introducing initiatives that protect and reward pregnant women. Because Father Steve is all about the babies! Well except for those born to Aboriginal women – there’s nothing in the coffee table book for your First Nation and Inuit communities.

But moving on, Harper is offering tons of tax relief to corporations. In case you haven’t heard, Big Daddy is a full-fledged economist so he knows how to stimulate a collapsing economy. (In the film industry, we call that a fluffer.)

By taking a page out of Bush Jr’s nursery tale book policy book, we can be rest assured of a rosy and prosperous future. Oh in case you forgot, George has a Harvard MBA so we know he knows what he’s doing on the economic front. And just like his mentor, Harper encouraged Canadians to buy, buy, BUY. He meant stocks in particular, but shopping in general is always good.

Layton’s ads got it wrong. He may very well be about kitchen tables but Harper’s all over the coffee table.

I encourage you to read these other blog sites for reviews of Harper’s platform.

The Conservative Platform

Steve Harper finally released his platform for re-election

Talk About A Dud

Harper's platform misses the boat

The Belated Harper Platform

Weasel Words

Harper’s platform is finally ready for prime time television. CTV reports:

The platform also makes changes to controversial tax eligibility legislation for film projects, which had been passed in the House of Commons as part of a larger omnibus bill. The changes allowed government to have the final say on which projects qualified for the exemption, and many in the arts community said it was tantamount to censorship.

The Conservatives had defended the move by saying it was designed to ensure taxpayers didn't foot the bill for pornography or for films deemed "offensive."

However, Harper appears to have changed his mind in an attempt to win votes in Quebec -- where opposition to the bill was most pronounced -- as poll numbers show a slide for the Conservatives in the province.

Interesting phrase, appears to have changed his mind. Did he or didn’t he?

You be the judge:

"We will take into account the serious concerns that have been expressed by film creators and investors," says the platform.

They strike me as weasel words.

Just more smoke and mirrors, similar to Bill C-484 (the kicking ass abortion bill that’s not really about abortion). Harper similarly claimed that they would withdraw the controversial bill and introduce a variation that would protect reproductive choice, days before he announced the election. Both moves are a Conservative ploy to pander to Quebec voters, whom Harper seems to believe are stupid. Both statements are purposely vague, giving Harper wiggle room to pander to his core base, social conservatives.

An honest change of heart on either issue would have resulted in four simple words: We Are Axing It

The CTV site was updated between the time I first accessed it and returned to provide links in this post. Stageleft captured it on his blog:

The Conservatives are cancelling plans to put government control over which artists receive federal grants — a move that enraged the arts community, especially in Quebec where the party is desperate to gain ground.

Stephen Harper announced the party’s full election platform in Toronto on Tuesday, one week before Canadians go to the polls.

The platform pulls back from the controversial film tax changes that were passed in the House of Commons.

The Conservatives had defended the change by saying it was designed to ensure taxpayers didn’t foot the bill for pornography or for films deemed offensive.

However, the party appears to have changed its mind in an attempt to win votes in Quebec as poll numbers show a slide for the Conservatives.

In case you caught the first attempt at covering Harper’s so-called cancellation of the censorship clause, let’s point out the glaring mistake. A tax credit is not a GRANT. It is a refundable tax credit that is calculated on a production’s labour expenditures. It's a program designed to stimulate the film and television production industry and create jobs. Financing of films hinges on demonstrating that your production is eligible for a tax credit. Without that assurance, the fragile array of funding mechanisms can’t fall into place and productions will not be made. The negative economic impact that would have is tremendous in cities where films are predominantly shot. This is why the mayors of Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal attempted to appeal to Steve “the economist” Harper’s common sense.

Between the media being willfully lazy and the Conservative Party's tendency to conflate things (individual artist grants with industry driven tax mechanisms), no wonder some "ordinary" Canadians are confused. Thankfully this news item was updated and the “grant” reference struck out.

What was added was this quote from the producer of one of the films that was bandied about by Harper’s spiritual advisor Chuck McVety before the Senate hearings:

Steve Hoban of Copperheart Entertainment, who produced this year's Canadian film "Young People F---ing," told The Canadian Press it was "good news all around." The film became a focus for debate about the legislation, largely because of its attention-grabbing title.

Sorry to disagree with you Mr. Hoban but this is not good news all around. There is no commitment to strike out the clause completely. And there is no commitment to restore the arts and culture cuts announced on two consecutive Friday nights just before the election. Don’t be fooled. Harper hates us and has no intention of taking into account our serious concerns. His government’s track record for conducting stakeholder consultations is non-existent.

Harper and his gang never announced the policy change with respect to the censorship clause in Bill C-10. It only came to light when Bill C-10 was in the Senate for review and Harper's spiritual adviser Chuck McVety boasted his influence over Justice Minister Rob Nicholson in getting that clause inserted. Harper’s minions purposely buried the short but controversial clause in an omnibus tax bill, hundreds of pages long. (Interesting that it was also Nicholson who was responsible for announcing the change of heart on Bill C-484 that McVety has been championing for ages.)

This was a stellar example of Harper's dishonesty and disrespect for government and Parliament. It backfired hugely once McVety opened his fat mouth. Filmmakers, film industry associations, guilds and unions, and other allied artists barraged Senators with their complaint. And they organized and campaigned against Harper's Bill C-10.

I honestly believe the subsequent arts and culture cuts were a result of Harper's vindictive nature. He hates artists, not because they are lazy hippies or silver spooned elites, but because they are intelligent, well spoken and creative. Unlike his gang of bully frat boys who think their "not a leader" website antics are brilliant, artists like Michel Rivard and Linda Griffiths know how to make very clever and hilarious video clips that send a profound message.

I suggest Mr. Hoban and anyone else who is interested in Canadian arts and culture as it pertains to this election, check out The Regina Mom blog site. She provides links to the NDP and Liberal responses to a series of straight shooting questions prepared by the Saskatchewan Arts Alliance. (The Conservative candidate refused to respond to the survey since it was distributed before they had a platform, I guess.)

Saturday, October 4

I have a cold and I’m in a piss poor mood

The Winnipeg Free Press never fails to annoy me. When did it become such a right wing rag?

Winnipeg Free Press is creaming itself over how wonderful Harper was during the debate. This rag has some kind of "insiders panel" gimmick going were they are constantly polled for their opinions, which have been consistently pro-Harper:

The online survey was sent to members of the Free Press Insiders panel and was conducted from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday.

The debate's impact on voting intentions was mixed, but the Conservatives appear to have gained more traction from it than other parties. May's shining performance is not likely to translate into votes, the survey suggests.

More useless twaddle, this time on the economy with these "Insiders" claiming Harper strongest:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's steady-as-she-goes approach to global economic turmoil has strong voter endorsement in Winnipeg, a new Free Press Insiders survey suggests.

Harper's response to the U.S. financial-sector meltdown and wild stock-market gyrations was backed by 46 per cent of 2,635 members of the Insiders panel who answered an online survey conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday.

NDP Leader Jack Layton's urgent call for an emergency meeting of federal party leaders and new policies to deal with rising fears of a Canadian economic downturn was endorsed by 27 per cent.

But Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion's response -- largely an attack on the minority Conservative government's economic performance -- was backed by just 22 per cent of Insiders, suggesting he has so far failed to capitalize on the strong economic legacy of the Chrétien-Martin years.

Who are these “Insiders” and what were the polling questions? So far, the only thing Harper has offered is a plagiarized McCain quote, the fundamentals of the economy are strong. As blogger Troy’s Scribbles asks, What exactly are these fundamentals that Harper praises?

Hard to tell since Sweater Vest Boy doesn’t have a platform as both Layton and May correctly pointed out during the English debate. Are these Winnipeg Free Press “Insiders” clairvoyants? What makes them think that Harper is strongest on the economy? That lifted statement, the fundamentals of the economy are strong smacks of one of the Bush administration’s penchants for finding meaningless catch phrases as a replacement for actual facts and policy. Remember these gems:

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Axis of Evil

Mission Accomplished

Staying the course

I still have faith in Canadians by and large not being completely fooled by Harper's blue sweater vest image. However, the CONSERVATIVES really did an effective job in emasculating Dion and creating the illusion that he is completely inept with the help of the media. And it seems like they also provided Layton with enough rope to hang himself as far as his ever being PM is concerned.

Whether Layton realizes it or not (or even freaking cares), the majority of Canadians like a caretaker government that balances budgets, doesn't raise taxes, and maintains the status quo with respect to public services they appreciate. That's the reality – most Canadians consider themselves socially progressive but small "c" fiscally conservative.

Those convinced of the smear campaign on Dion are not going to rush to vote for Layton. That's exactly what Harper is counting on. The NDP might gain some soft red Liberals but they'll be fighting the Greens to get those votes while attacking the Liberal brand in the same nuanced way they attacked Harper.

More conservative Liberals will go with Harper, convinced that Conservatives are fiscally prudent and tax cut friendly (again thanks to the media). Some may even hold their noses doing so, recognizing that he is too conservative on social issues and too closely aligned to the US.

What astounds me is how absolutely useless the NDP and Liberal strategists have been. Duceppe wasn't afraid to go into aggressive attack mode on Harper's ass from the get go and it's working for him.

Dion's group deceived themselves into thinking that they could campaign on policy. Good luck with that when Harper set the stage for it being a content free election. Then there is the distraction of wasting time attacking the NDP. What purpose does that serve? Calling the party last century socialists is ridiculous. Do these strategist think we're in the US where the socialist label is poison? Focus on the Liberal's track record on the economy and the fact that Dion actually has a platform with ideas that Canadians can relate to. I highly recommend checking out Newsworld's X Challenge, as posted by blogger Red Tory, and see just how well Harper's team does when they are actually asked to speak. Wake up Liberal strategists, Harper's weakness is his slate of candidates.

As for Layton's claim that he would only focus on Harper in this election, unlike their relentless attack on the Liberals during the last election, it strikes me that he has done very little damage with his non-specific, contrast the leaders, approach. What strategist decided that the "kitchen table vs corporate table" was considered a blow against Harper? Most Canadians don't care if their government is friendly to corporations if it means a stimulated economy and jobs. Sure when you bail out banks with billions when the economy is in a tailspin, then public perception of corporate support becomes extremely jaundiced. But Harper called the election before the economy could fully tank under his guard. And what the hell does a "new kind of strong" mean to anyone? Did the strategist really think some kind of Obamarama love fest was going to happen and Canadians would be swept into believing Layton should be President of Canada?

As for the Winnipeg Free Press and all other corporate media in this country, stop manipulating and start informing the public. You are not helping democracy by dumbing down how elections get covered.

Can our media not get it together to actually demand policy commitments and descriptions from these politicians? Can the media please question Harper on his performance record in Parliament? Can the media drop their partisan hypocrisy and hound Harper on the numerous scandals that plagued his short tenure as PM?

The coverage of this whole election is largely limited to stump speech sound bites and snap polls. We are not the United States and we are not electing a President.

I will vote for a candidate who I dislike immensely because he has the best chance of defeating a CONSERVATIVE. I strongly recommend you visit Vote for Environment to see how you can make your vote count towards kicking Harper to the opposition benches where he belongs.

Thursday, October 2

where'd that bug go?: The Artists' Other Gala (this time, they're not the waiters)

All you "ordinary" folk who live in Toronto should check out this event. It's a fantastic line up of talent and the proceeds of the evening go to a very appealing initiative in support of using art creation to help young people living on the street.

where'd that bug go?: The Artists' Other Gala (this time, they're not the waiters)