C-51 The View From Here … and there … and

So the Liberals have managed to simultaneously poop their pants and generally betray us all by backing this horrendous piece of “legislation” and in so doing attack the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the legacy of Justin Trudeau’s father no less. They did this despite the public uproar. They did this despite the advice of scholars, representatives of the law and of business. I hope they suffer mightily for it.

Why did they do it? The following pretty well represents what passes as logic in the Liberal camp. I apologise if I appear to be picking on a particular denizen of Twitterville. I use him/her only as a handy exemplar.

Screenshot from 2015-05-08 21:48:18

Argument 1: The Conservatives would have “made hay” if the Liberals voted against accusing them of being “soft on terror”. Name calling apparently being stronger than convictions held.

Argument 2: It would have passed anyway and besides it will not survive a Charter challenge. Liberals thereby appear to misapprehend their purpose in a parliamentary system of Government. What use are they if they perceive themselves to be of no use?

Argument 3: The bill is “flawed” but we will fix it later. And, besides, it’s needed. Where to begin? First is this assumption without argument that C-51 is “needed. How so? We have lots of laws on the books, including even a previous “terror law” that more than adequately deal with this threat. A threat, I might add, that is minuscule. Examples abound how more people are killed by toddlers or their own furniture. As to “repairing” the atrocity? Once this Pandora’s Box is open it will expand and it will do so no matter WHO forms the next government. This is Canada’s Patriot Act and has the potential of being every bit the horror show we see to the south of us….. and we proceed with little or no oversight. Who “oversees” secret police anyway? Secret courts making secret decisions? No danger there eh? CSE(C), CSIS and the RCMP have all broken the law as it stands, so let’s give them more power?

The Liberals are in my own opinion, and you have every right to yours, beyond redemption.

So what to do?

Well the NDP and Greens have been very vocal in their opposition to C-51 and good on them for that. A tip of the hat to the BQ for voting against. While the NDP voted against they reportedly would not commit to repeal. One argument was that it would be too difficult to disentangle from other legislation. Elisabeth May insists “Repealing is totally possible” and given her reputation, I “totally” believe that. There are Twitterati that insist that the NDP is now, 2 months later, committed to repeal. After all,  IT’S ON TWITTER!! …. but where is it written,  unambiguously, in black and white?

I invite you to search the NDP site for the word “repeal” … good luck with that.

So be as partisan as you like but be please at least try to stay awake.

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GAZA – “Once and For All” vs “All or Nothing”

The latest incursion into Gaza essentially began with the kidnap of three “settler” boys.
It has come to light that these boys were murdered almost immediately and that Israel knew both, that they were dead, and who the perpetrators were (i.e. Not Hamas).
Nonetheless, Israel raided Gaza, arresting hundreds (the numbers vary but appear to be upwards of 500) and killed some 28 or more “searching for the boys”.

Now, it has been argued that the peace was broken by Hamas when it started to fire rockets at Israel. The arrests and killings seem not to be part of the narrative.

It is as if Israel was waiting for some excuse and Hamas gave them one or were finally pushed into giving them one.

From Israel’s perspective flattening Gaza takes care of several objectives.
1) It stops the “threat” of Hamas and the P.A. getting together.
2) It will likely put any hope, if there was any, of a two state solution to bed.
3) It gives Israel a strip of no man’s land to add to what the wall had carved away, that will be called a “security zone” comprising of some 43% of Gazan land. (Add another frame to the timelapse pictures of a disappearing Gaza). Cue the “settlers”, perhaps.

Ultimately Israel appears to be out to deal with Gaza once and for all. The more dead Palestinians the better….. and more land.

From Hamas’ perspective, and perhaps Israel has not come to the realization, they appear to have made “Live Free or Die” more than a motto on a licence plate this time. It is question as to whether or not the Gazan population has bought into this. It was not a decision they got to have any say in. They do, however, know who is doing the killing.

I don’t believe Hamas has any intention of accepting a cease fire this time without an end to the occupation. On their terms, not Israel’s. To do so would be a back-to-prison status quo scenario.
They have gone through a door and Israel has, in effect, slammed it shut behind them. For, even if they were to turn back, the prison now has no power, lacks food, water and sanitation. Hospitals are destroyed and medicines hard to get. Refugee numbers are very high. Status quo says building materials and a lot more are restricted.
It is not unreasonable to assume that Hamas thinks that all would have died for nothing should they relent.

Occupation or not, more people are going to die.

Both sides have made a calculation based on civilian deaths. The difference is the goal.

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Canada’s National Day of “Honour”

Canada’s National Day of Honour is a one time event to “to recognize the completion of the country’s mission in Afghanistan”. That’s wonderful.

I Only have 4 questions :

  1. What was the mission?

    Was it to fight TERRRRRorism? After the U.S. basically failed/gave up getting Bin Laden so they could concentrate on war crimes (Iraq) where were the “terrorists”? Were there even 50 Al Queda left in Afghanistan? Why did the west fight on the side of one set of “bad guys” (the Northern Alliance narco state) against another set of “bad guys” (the Taliban/Pashtun). What was the mission again?

  2. How was this mission “completed”, assuming a vague, never specified, mission could ever be completed? The Taliban will be back as soon as everyone leaves. People like Karzai will be ensconced with their ill gotten millions in some well heeled corner of the world and Afghani womanhood will be beaten down. In particular, those not old enough to remember and “adapt” after having tasted relative freedom. Will someone define completed?

  3. How was this the “country’s mission”? What did Canada gain or even contribute in real terms while they poodled for the hegemon? How many angry Afghanis did we create? How many did we kill and for what? … or is it for whom?

  4. WHERE IS THE HONOUR? Most Canadian personnel, no doubt, served with honour. Many died, were wounded and/or still suffer from PTSD and other results of having served. There are indications that the Government does not particularly honour them. Not as actual people, Canadians or even as soldiers. WHERE IS THE HONOUR? They went through it all for nothing. The Afghan war was not an honourable war, so WHERE IS THE HONOUR?

Why are we having a National Day Of Honour if it is NOT for cynical political reasons.

The War of 1812 celebration updated a few hundred years and a few thousand miles in a place we had no business being.


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General Andrew Leslie : A Teachable Moment

    Before I expound on what this “affair” teaches, let me first deal with privacy issue here or as one twitter user argued:


    Now let us go out of our way, be kind, and merely say that this is an “apples and oranges” argument. Let us, for example put an apple and an orange in the same basket.

   A Member of Parliament puts in a travel claim for, say $50K and also, as it happens, in the same period, has an abortion that is claimed on an OHIP card. For the sake of argument let us assume both claims are entirely legitimate.

   I argue that the travel expense, involving public funds was claimed in her role as a public servant whereas the healthcare claim, also involving public funds, was done as a private citizen having NOTHING to do with her position and is nobody’s damn business. Is this so hard to grasp?

   I argue that General Leslie’s claim was made attendant to his role as a public servant and not as a private citizen. I do not take into account whether the claim was legitimate or not. I do not take into account, if it is legitimate, whether it is excessive or not. I merely argue that an expenditure of public funds attendant to a pubic function should be a matter of public record.

   The Alberta Government, for example, had no problem recently publishing the salaries of upper management civil servants.

So now, what does this teach us?

I maintain that if all such expenses were out in the open and not hidden in ATIPville there would be no opportunity for a “smear”. All the facts and figures would be there for anyone to see. No need to defend or offend. General Leslie would not be the centre of a cat fight nor would his character be impugned or impugnable.

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Is The NSA Watching Canada?

Let’s start this off with a spoiler.  Yes, the NSA is spying on Canadians. (and so is CSEC) We are not only a “foreign” country but we are right next door and their biggest (or is China in the #1 spot now?) trading partner. Apparently they spy on foreigners and allies alike.

Whether there is any association with CSEC or any other security apparatus in Canada has not been revealed. Again this is a virtual certainty to some lesser or greater extent.

Quite simply communications do not stop at an imaginary line called the “border”.

One of the biggest “tells” was the recent statement by the American Ambassador to Canada asserting that the U.S. is NOT spying on Canadians. Now, this is obviously a lie (whether the ambassador believes it or not) because, by implication, we are asked to believe that the ambassador is privy to information that Congress itself does not have.

As the saying goes “Give me a break”.

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The Great Canadian Militarization


    There are several aspects to the Harper Governments approach to the militarization of Canada. First, it has become apparent that this government believes words speak louder than actions. The Action Plan ads are a good example. Call it communications, spin, re-branding, advertising, what have you, it is all a form of propaganda.

    Gone is the vision of Canada the “peace keeper”. From the ham-fisted attempt at stirring up some kind of jingoistic martial spirit with the War of 1812 “celebration” to (more recently) the rewriting of our history, to the more subtle renaming of Canada’s forces to ensure that we are all aware that they are “armed” they appear to be beavering away to get us all into the right mindset. We can add to this what is, to date, a PR campaign with respect to Iran. Then there are the adventures in Libya and, of course Afghanistan. Maybe Harper, like Reagan, will find Canada’s Grenada (it turned out Mali wasn’t it) Maybe like Grenada it will result in lots of medals all around. They could repurpose the Jubilee medals. There must be a gross or two in the PMO somewhere.

    Canadians dying for nothing in Afghanistan have their bodies paraded on the “Highway of Heroes” . Apparently Canada’s Valhalla is a piece of the 401 highway. And I mean dying for nothing because they are not defending Canada (the second D in DND) but some corporate vision of Canada. It may well give some closure to the loved ones left behind but it is theatre. It is propaganda.

    And its not that the Harper government is a great fan of military personnel per se especially the injured and the vets (they, having lost their utility). It would not be at all surprising, in fact, that the Harper Government looks with a jaundiced eye at DND in general, having been gamed by them to some extent with respect to acquisitions. The F-35 comes to mind.


   So why this social engineering? Why the militarization?


   We have only to reference the hegemon to the south. I am sure Harper et al look with envy at the U.S. military industrial complex with its attendant (and bloated) security establishment. It is a capitalist’s wet dream, sucking in trillions (with a ‘t’) of dollars. All that is required is perpetual war, which appears not to be a problem. Social fabric and infrastructure be damned. Let them “pursue happiness” through the ruins of cities like Detroit and Buffalo.

    Canada has devolved into a one trick pony resource center. Its manufacturing sector hollowed out and shipped overseas on the cheap. A homegrown military industrial complex would be another source of bucks, lots of bucks, for the Friends of Harper. This type of industry has two “advantages” in particular. Being part of National Security(TM) it is sacrosanct when it comes to trade deals and the restrictions pertaining thereto. It is a wonderful source of political pork (which we are told transforms itself into votes). In the U.S. It has even resulted in the manufacture of arms that the military does not need nor even WANT. Gone would be the days of mere gazebos and fake lakes. The opportunities to further control a population via a security establishment (have you seen the new CSIS HQ??) would also sit well with a control freak like Harper.




    Let’s look at some of the weapons systems that the Harper Government proposes to buy.


    Why would Canada require F-35s? Almost entirely in support of NATO war missions i.e. In support of the American Empire. Let’s not pretend that NATO is a “partnership”. Domestically, that is to say, in the actual defence of Canada they would not have much utility. Drones can fulfil just about any mission in the North that an F-35 could and at a fraction of the cost. Some say the F-35 is inappropriate for such a mission in the first place. One dimbulb in a blog somewhere suggested that they would be used in defence against the Russians. In that extremely unlikely event they should be good for most of a day, probably less.

    The lifetime of an F-35 is said to be 25 to 30 years. It is not a huge leap to imagine that drone technology will render them into very expensive clay pigeons inside, say, 10 years. Drones will be like very smart SAMs … that will not miss. Able to outmaneuver anything containing a meat puppet.





    The purchase of drones by DND and the RCMP is worrying because it has possible implications beyond defence and law enforcement. Even at the height of the Bush/Cheney years could anyone have imagined that today the President would take upon himself the power to kill Americans without charge or trial and perhaps even to do so on U.S. soil? Is it entirely ludicrous to imagine that something untoward could “happen here”? (I leave you with a mental image of Vic Toews).

  Even more disturbing, to me at least, is the purchase of tanks. In an age of drones and “smart” missiles buying tanks is the military equivalent of buying horses for your cavalry in order to fight the Wehrmacht. The life of a tank on a modern battlefield will be measured in hours, if not minutes. Why would Canada ever need tanks?

    One possibility presents itself. Tanks have another proven purpose. Look at Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, Tiananmen Square in 1989. Look at the militarization of police forces in the U.S.


  Tanks are effective in the repression of civilian populations.


   Are we expecting trouble?

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Support Our Slaves


Anna Lappé: “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.









Slavery, once a “global” phenomenon was largely abolished many years ago. It was what fed the economies of the British Empire and the U.S.


Consumers of the day, both pro and anti slavery, bought their cotton goods with their eyes closed as to it’s provenance much as meat eaters (myself included) would rather not acknowledge the slaughterhouse.


Annnnd it’s back.


    It has morphed from “global” to “globalized”. No longer are slaves shipped at great cost in the holds of rat infested ships. Rather the corporate world uses them in situ. Perhaps there are those who would attempt to rationalize this by saying/thinking “They can’t be slaves, they’re paid”. This is mere sophistry. They, on the whole, get a less than living wage because, unable to unionize and kept in desperate straights, are a “dime a dozen”. More easily replaced and less valued than the slaves of the antebellum South.


    Witness the “happy” employees in Bangladesh made to work (26 cents/hr top wage) in a factory they knew was in danger of collapse because they were threatened with the loss of an entire month’s wages. Witness the “happy” employees of Foxconn (maker of Apple products) plunging to their deaths until a net was installed to impede them. These are not the actions of “employees”.


    And it’s the same in all of the “low wage” countries. Funny how there are so many who live in wealth within them.


    So, “Professor”, you say, “what is the solution”? Some might say the answer is adding tariffs, but this would only either lead to relocation (and job loss) or a wage cut (“tough shit”|) to cover the difference.


    If you were to ask about the “root cause” some would glibly ascribe it to greed. This is far to simplistic, although an element of it is certainly there. At the core of the corporate esthetic is the maximization of profit. This is greed of an entirely amoral kind.


    The only way to do away with modern day slavery is to remove the profitability of slavery. One way is the “race to the bottom”. That would be the corporate favourite, where western wages become “competitive” with slave states. Wages low enough to negate any hassle of outsourcing. This results in a general impoverishment of the middle and lower classes (already in progress).


    Ultimately it would be nice to give the slave population a voice in their employment, an emancipation as it were. Globalization of unions would be one solution, but with governments generally carrying the can for the corporate sector not a realistic option…..short of a world revolution that would make the Occupy movement just a sign on the bathroom door. Good luck with that.


    So the solution then is not “push” but “pull”. It lies, cher consumer-of-slave-goods, with me and thee.


   What is required is a means to put the fire to the feet of companies like Nike and Apple to a greater extent than has been done heretofore. No more bullshit inspections by the interests involved. What is needed is an international certification, maybe along the same lines as dolphin safe tuna and fare trade coffee, Both consumer “push” results. A refusal to purchase non-certified goods on the part of consumers (forget Government) would get the message through and make certification an added value that the corporate sector would seek to attain.


Would this be the brush to paint it all away? No. But it would be a beginning and the size of the brush will be determined by what certification will require.


    What I’m trying to convey here is that it does no good to assign human traits such as greed to a corporate entity, even if some of the humans involved within it are greedy. Better to think of it as an animal that behaves on instinct and which will, like Pavlov’s dogs, react to stimuli. Correction of corporate “behaviour” then, can, I believe, be attained through proper stimuli. This is what regulation (much hated by the right) is about for example.



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