Saturday, June 14, 2008

Gone Moving (and bananas)

I'm moving this weekend - for the third bloody time in a year. This place was supposed to be long-term but my roommate bought a house. I'm on the years long list for affordable housing in this city (something I'll write more about on a future date) and because of the oil boom, the vacancy rate is somewhere near -50%. (I jest but it might as well be.)

Here's how the arrangements for this move have gone so far:

1. Truck booked with really cheap but good movers I've used twice. Roommate changes her mind (because she does that a lot) and decides to rent one instead.

2. Family (cousins) promise a free semi-truck to use since one of them is working with a cross-country mover right now. Bonus: they were going to move everything on Sunday. Woohoo, right?

3. Rental truck canceled Friday nite.

4. NO woohoo. Cousin leaves a message this evening and says, "Whoops! The truck is too full to move your stuff". (The cousin hadn't informed her until tonite that any other stuff was even supposed to be in that truck and the other cousin is AWOL - no doubt sloshed - somewhere in the big city while the one who called is conveniently sleeping away the evening in his boss's hotel room). Murphy's Law. And, ironically, the cousins are actually named Murphy.

5. Rental truck place is already closed. Can't book another truck til Sunday.

6. Frantic phone calls made to round up friends (who all hate moving as much as I do) tonite. One guy might show up - later.

7. Roomie uses boyfriend's small van and tiny trailer to move stuff with teenager and other roomie and one of the teenager's friends. (The boyfriend is working tonite - lucky him.) Other roomie doesn't care about that pesky little thing called "organization". Prefers "speed" instead. Mass chaos ensues.

8. (Have I mentioned that I had been looking for another place to live because this bunch is nuts? No luck.)

9. Permanently sick, disabled woman (with lupus, fibromyalgia, scoliosis, and too much pent up fucking stress) - me - who wasn't supposed to lift a finger in this move other than to pack and who was looking forward to relaxing this evening suddenly has to help move her stuff upstairs to be taken out because, FOR SOME G*D-FORSAKEN REASON, new home-owner roomie is in a frenzy to get as much done as possible tonite.

10. The production turns into a perfect example of organized confusion and, boy, am I going to be hurting for the next week - not to mention being pissed right off too.

11. Moral: (Have I mentioned how stressed I am?) Don't trust cousins named Murphy and when you book movers, stick with them.

12. And, please, if any of you win the lottery, please consider buying me my own place. Please? I don't need much room. Really. Thank you. (Please??)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Aboriginal Affairs: Tone Deaf Conservatives

During Thursday's question period Chuck Strahl, the minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, called the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples an "aspirational document" which is rather similar to Alberto Gonzales calling the US constitution "quaint". While it's true that the declaration not legally binding, the Conservatives refused to vote for it because they said it was in conflict with our Charter - an obviously hollow excuse. It seems to me that if it was only "aspirational", there shouldn't have been any legal conflict whatsoever.

From wiki:

Canada said that while it supported the spirit of the Declaration, it contained elements that were "fundamentally incompatible with Canada's constitutional framework".[5] In particular, the Canadian government had problems with Article 19 (which appears to require governments to secure the consent of indigenous peoples regarding matters of general public policy), and Articles 26 and 28 (which could allow for the re-opening or repudiation of historically settled land claims).[12]

Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Chuck Strahl described the document as "unworkable in a Western democracy under a constitutional government."[13] Strahl elaborated, saying "In Canada, you are balancing individual rights vs. collective rights, and (this) document ... has none of that. By signing on, you default to this document by saying that the only rights in play here are the rights of the First Nations. And, of course, in Canada, that's inconsistent with our constitution." He gave an example: "In Canada ... you negotiate on this ... because (native rights) don't trump all other rights in the country. You need also to consider the people who have sometimes also lived on those lands for two or three hundred years, and have hunted and fished alongside the First Nations."[14]

The Assembly of First Nations passed a resolution in mid-December to invite Presidents Hugo Chávez and Evo Morales to Canada to put pressure on the Conservative government to sign the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, calling the two heads of state "visionary leaders" and demanding Canada resign its membership on the UN Human Rights Council.[15]

So why are you really afraid of an "aspirational document", Strahl?

Before question period began Pierre Poilievre, who has been under fire from the public for his racist remarks against first nations people on Wednesday (audio), attempted to fend off much-deserved criticism in the house by issuing a pre-emptive apology. It didn't work. Opposition members called for Steve to fire him. I'll let you guess what happened.

For all of their holier-than-thou blustering about how the Conservatives are now, supposedly, the champions of human rights for first nations people in this country, it's obvious that they're simply paying lip service to the horrendous circumstances too many aboriginals still face.

As so many people said on Wednesday, words are not enough, and the attitudes of people like Strahl and Poilievre are yet another reminder that real, effective action cannot be taken while bigotry and ignorance still exists.

US Supreme Court: Gitmo Prisoners Have Habeus Corpus Rights

This is a major victory for the prisoners and yet another slap in the face from the court to the Bush administration.

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have rights under the Constitution to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court, said, "The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times."
It was not immediately clear whether this ruling, unlike the first two, would lead to prompt hearings for the detainees, some of whom have been held more than 6 years. Roughly 270 men remain at the island prison, classified as enemy combatants and held on suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaida and the Taliban.

The ruling could resurrect many detainee lawsuits that federal judges put on hold pending the outcome of the high court case. The decision sent judges, law clerks and court administrators scrambling to read Kennedy's 70-page opinion and figure out how to proceed. Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth said he would call a special meeting of federal judges to address how to handle the cases.

And here's Scalia's version of judicial "wisdom":

Scalia said the nation is "at war with radical Islamists" and that the court's decision "will make the war harder on us. It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed."

Shorter Scalia: FEAR blah blah blah FEAR blah blah blah.

And the article also reminds us of how the Republicans have subverted the constitution every chance they got:

The court has ruled twice previously that people held at Guantanamo without charges can go into civilian courts to ask that the government justify their continued detention. Each time, the administration and Congress, then controlled by Republicans, changed the law to try to close the courthouse doors to the detainees.

They won't get away with that this time around.

The disposition of Omar Khadr's trial will likely be affected by this decision as well and the fact that we've now learned that notes about his detention were destroyed and that the judge handling his case was most likely dismissed because he ruled against US government lawyers should be more than enough for our Conservative government to stop stonewalling on bringing him home. It should be but since they don't even care that he was a child soldier when he was picked up - the first to be charged with war crimes - I'm sure we'll just keep getting the same "let the legal process play out" talking point in response to these developments. Like it was ever a legitimate legal process to begin with.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Quote du Jour: Poilievre's Racism

Ignorance on parade. Why not pull out the "lazy Indian" stereotype on the day your prime minister is apologizing for the residential schools abuse? Might as well signal to all of those racists out there who vote for your party that you're still on their side, right?

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, who represents the Ottawa-area riding of Nepean-Carleton, appeared on a lunch-time program on CFRA News Talk Radio in the capital Wednesday.

It was just hours before Harper stood to atone on behalf of all Canadians for generations of abuse in once-mandatory native residential schools.

"Now along with this apology comes another $4 billion in compensation for those who partook in the residential schools over those years," says Poilievre, in a clip circulated by the Liberal opposition.

He was apparently unaware that students were once forced to attend schools meant to assimilate them, as his boss would later rise to say in Parliament.

Poilievre then questioned the wisdom of related compensation payments.

"Now, you know, some of us are starting to ask: 'Are we really getting value for all of this money, and is more money really going to solve the problem?'

"My view is that we need to engender the values of hard work and independence and self reliance. That's the solution in the long run - more money will not solve it."

That's exactly the kind of "white supremacy" Phil Fontaine railed against in his statement in the house on Wednesday.

It's not up to you, Mr Pierre 'PMO Talking Points Coming Out of My Ass on a Daily Basis' Poilievre to "engender" anything on our first nations people. Do you not realize that that's exactly why residential schools were set up in the first place?

Oh, but he didn't stop there:

Poilievre also told CFRA that aboriginal chiefs have too much control.

"That gets to the heart of the problem on these reserves where there is too much power concentrated in the hands of the leadership, and it makes you wonder where all of this money is going.

"We spend $10 billion dollars - $10 billion dollars - in annual spending this year alone now, that is an exceptional amount of money, and that is on top of all the resource revenue that goes to reserves that sit on petroleum products or sit on uranium mines, other things where companies have to pay them royalties.

"And that's on top of all that money that they earn on their own reserves. That is an incredible amount of money."

It's their money and their resources, you fool.

You think living on a reserve is heaven? I'd suggest you take a field trip for about a year and get back to the rest of us on that. I'll tell you what: I'll even raise the money to get you to Hobbema here in Alberta. I dare you. Tough it out for a year (if you can last more than one week) and then tell us what it's really like if you can manage to even sputter by then.

Your hatred and bigotry are nothing short of astounding. Enjoy the flames you'll get in parliament and from the public for this amazing display of absolutely pathetic ignorance. You're a disgrace.

And your party wonders why so many first nations people didn't take the apology seriously. If you have a problem with the amount of money your party has decided to spend on aboriginal affairs, take that up with your boss. And while you're having that chat with him, ask him why he ditched the Kelowna accord - the first slap in the face towards first nations people perpetrated by your Conservative party when you won minority status. Oh yes, that involved too much money too, didn't it? How would you like it if I stole your land, gave you smallpox, kidnapped your children, abused them in every possible way and tried to turn them into what I deemed "acceptable"? Just how much money do you think you'd deserve as compensation for those crimes?

I, for one, am extremely grateful that you only have minority status. Enjoy the tiny bit of power you have while it lasts. Thankfully, we've all been saved by what surely would have been a destructive bull in a china shop style of government had you actually won a majority. Your party's actions have proven that you don't deserve to govern.

Never again will this House consider us the Indian problem just for being who we are.
- Phil Fontaine

When are you going to learn that, Poilievre, or are you now leading the campaign to prove him wrong?

Want to give Poilievre a piece of your mind? Here you go:

(h/t Far and Wide)

Live Coverage of The Apology for Residential Schools

Today we recognize this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm and has no place in this country.
- Stephen Harper

"Fallen Feathers" (image from Turtle Island Native Network - a site with extensive background links and information)

You can watch coverage online at CPAC which began at 1 pm ET.

Before Harper spoke, a motion was presented by the government to allow several first nations leaders, beginning with AFN leader Phil Fontaine, to give responses in the house - a move the Conservatives had resisted until the very last minute. Approval of the motion was unanimous.

I will post links to Harper's statement and the responses when they're available.

CBC reporters have noted in their live coverage that there is a festival-like atmosphere on the hill, where hundreds of first nations people have gathered inside and out, as many reunite with family and friends they have not seen for years. But the solemnity of the occasion hangs heavy in the air, just as it does in many of our hearts.


CBC has extensive text, audio & video coverage of Canada's Stolen Children.

The department of Indian and Northern Affairs also has live online coverage.

Globe and Mail coverage includes snippets of the statements by Harper and Dion.

The Toronto Star's coverage.


Leaders from the following first nations organizations responded in the house:

Assembly of First Nations (Phil Fontaine)

Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (Patrick Brazeau)

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) (Mary Simon)

Metis National Council (Clement Chartier)

Native Women's Association of Canada (Beverly Jacobs)

more to come...


Video of Harper's statement:

Part 1

Part 2

Phil Fontaine's response:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Kucinich Impeachment Resolution: Justice Delayed

I feel a long-awaited sigh of relief tonite as I listen live to the speaker of the US house of representatives read into the congressional record the resolution detailing the numerous articles of impeachment introduced by Dennis Kucinich (D-MI) and seconded by Robert Wexler (D-FL).

Regardless of the eventual disposition of this motion, one cannot deny the historical importance of this moment.

On this evening, 2 democrats have defied speaker Nancy Pelosi's spring, pre-election 2006 pronouncement that "impeachment is off the table".

On this evening, 2 Democrats have refused to continue to be complicit in the marching orders of their party elders to enable George W Bush's war crimes by refusing to hold him accountable.

On this evening Robert Wexler, who has been a staunch Obama supporter and adviser, refused to tow Obama's line on impeachment that he made clear almost one year ago:

Obama, a Harvard law school graduate and former lecturer on constitutional law at the University of Chicago, said impeachment should not be used as a standard political tool.

"I think you reserve impeachment for grave, grave breaches, and intentional breaches of the president's authority," he said.

"I believe if we began impeachment proceedings we will be engulfed in more of the politics that has made Washington dysfunction," he added. "We would once again, rather than attending to the people's business, be engaged in a tit-for-tat, back-and-forth, non-stop circus."

Illegal war fueled by manufactured propaganda.
Illegal wiretapping.
Torture flights.
Secret prisons.
etc etc etc

Just what exactly is a "grave breach", Senator Obama? Could anything be more grave than killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians and sending almost 4,000 US troops to their deaths? Torture isn't a "grave breach"?

You call the proper response to that - your duty as a US senator to defend and uphold the constitution - a "circus"?

How dare you?

Very few Democrats have raised their voices over the years to support impeachment as a result of their party putting the politics of convenience and avoidance above principles, basic human rights, and justice.

The Democratic party has failed to take up the responsibility, on behalf of the American people and all of the victims of the Bush administration's war crimes, to ensure that no one is above the law and that those who place themselves there through the creation of a unitary executive theory which holds that the administration is accountable to no one be punished severely.

Similarly, online Democratic party shills like Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos who proclaimed in December, 2006 that any talk of impeachment was "impeachment porn", whose bullying followers did everything they could to drive off impeachment supporters from that site and whose enlightened and so-called "progressive" political commentary about Kucinich's presidential bid amounted to an insultingly grunting "ugh" are also complicit in willfully allowing this administration to get away with what seems like an endless list of criminal activities while imploring salivating fans to send more money now! to a completely useless Democratic party.

And don't even get me started on how the mainstream media has utterly failed the American people on the impeachment issue as well. Dog forbid they should tell the truth and risk losing precious access to their government sources shills.

Integrity is a rare commodity. Too many people have been bludgeoned into complacency.

So, here we all are.

And I say "we" on behalf of citizens in all countries affected by the inaction of the Democratic party to do its job. We Canadians have had to live through and continue to be outraged by the incredible injustices the Bush administration has perpetrated on Maher Arar and Omar Khadr. We continue to lose soldiers in the other forgotten and mismanaged Bush war - Afghanistan. And we have yet to discover just how many of our citizens have really suffered as the result of the policies of this criminal gang and its so-called "war on terror". The impact will be felt for years, if not decades.

History will not be kind to Bush and it won't be kind to the Democratic party which chose to look the other way.

Which side of justice and history will you be on?

And now I'm off to watch the movie "Recount" - the story of the ridiculous 2000 election fiasco that brought all of us the George W Bush dictatorship in the first place. That seems like a ironic end to this nite, n'est-ce pas?

The Angst of Privileged White Men

Just how much personal resentment and anger does a person like Don Martin carry around inside of him to have the audacity to call the upcoming apology to first nations victims of residential schools "the greatest grovel in Canadian history"?

He continues:

The government, Parliament, indeed every Canadian will be apologizing without exception for every student's experience, be it positive, negative or abusive.

But there are still high-level concerns it won't be enough and, while unlikely, could be rejected by native leaders as a political stunt that isn't sufficiently sincere. One senior government official involved in drafting the apology acknowledged in mid-gulp on an Ottawa beer patio: "Of course, we're still not sure they'll accept it."

Beverage splattered. Excuse me?

No. Excuse me, Mr Martin.

It's absolutely clear that by his inclusion of the word "positive", Don Martin is just plain clueless and vindictive. No one is apologizing for "positive" experiences - whatever few there may have been. And his public angst over the possibility that this apology will not be enough to satisfy all first nations people who lived through and were affected by the horrendous trauma which impacted every single area of their lives - the sexual, physical and psychological abuse, the destruction of their identities and culture, the indoctrination of forced assimilation, the resulting suicides and massive social problems that still reverberate to this day - (and that's not even mentioning the fact that our ancestors stole their land, gave them smallpox, herded them onto reservations like animals to be penned and continue to expect them to live in third world conditions) and Martin bemoans the fact that some people won't see this apology as being enough?

As far as I'm concerned, it isn't.

And let's not be too charitable in giving props to Stephen Harper's government for crafting this apology. Over and over again in the house, he and his cronies have made a point of chastising the Liberals for not properly handling this issue. While it's absolutely true that the Liberals dragged their feet for decades, that type of finger-pointing by such a shallow prime minister shows that there is some political grandstanding involved here. If there weren't, Steve would allow - as has been requested on many fronts - aboriginal leaders and victims the right to respond in parliament. But Steve is so anal-retentive that he stands on the "tradition" excuse ie. that he simply can't allow those voices to be formally heard or recorded in Hansard for all time because it would be an unusual break from parliamentary tradition. Well, Mr Harper, extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures so spare us your angst as well.

Our first nations people have already suffered enough at the hands of policies crafted by privileged white men - government and religious leaders who decided their job was to "civilize" a group of people whose culture they feared and didn't understand. And it seems that fact is still being denied by people like Don Martin and Stephen Harper who would rather re-victimize that population by mocking them and silencing them on the national stage.

Parliament does not belong to privileged white people. It belongs to all of us so, as far as I'm concerned, the people who should really be silenced in all of this are those who have yet to truly come to grips with what our country has done and continues to do to our first nations brothers and sisters. What they most need to do is to listen instead of continuing to be in love with the sound of their own sanctimonious voices. Maybe then they'll actually learn and understand why the wounds this nation, the victims, and all of us who care about the sorriest part of our history cannot be fixed by mere words pontificated on from above.

StatsCan released a report on hate crimes statistics today. This country still has a long road to travel before prejudice based on race is anywhere close to being eliminated. One thing is certain: if our government officials and the media refuse to acknowledge their complicity in stirring up resentments against minorities, we are all doomed to suffer those continual injustices with the victims - those of us who actually care, that is.

Do your part. Speak up and act when you can. Compassion is not a vice.


More Don Martin bigotry. Let him know what you think about his intolerable rants:

Reconciliation goes sour in Canada

Assembly of First Nations

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

CBC Newsworld will provide complete coverage of the apology and house proceedings on Wednesday as will CPAC where you can watch it online.

The Smackdown: Goodale vs Van Loan

You've probably heard the news that the Conservatives' power-grab of an immigration bill (or rather, amendments within the budget bill) passed in the house on Monday. The Liberals ran scared - again - because they're still not ready to trigger an election. First it was that Canadians didn't want a winter election. Then it was that we didn't want a spring election. Now they're saying we don't want a summer election.

I can tell you that, as far as this Canadian is concerned, they're wrong.

Meanwhile, there was a little noticed vote in the house earlier today. Peter Van Loan Gasbag (aka the other failed "animated blob of grease") called for parliament to sit extra hours for the remaining 10 days of this session (until 11 pm each nite) and tried to shame those who would oppose such a motion (which has basically always been approved since its inception in the early 1980s) as being lazy, money-grubbing, do nothings. After some debate, that motion failed. And so it should have. The vote tally was 114 yeas - 139 nays.

Following Van Loan's speechifying about why MPs should be guilted into spending extra time now on the Cons' agenda, which all of a sudden seems so crucially important, Liberal MP Ralph Goodale explained exactly why what Van Loan was asking for was an absolute farce.

I'm reprinting the first part of Goodale's debate here. It's well worth reading. You can read the rest of the debate in Hansard which I linked to above:

Hon. Ralph Goodale (Wascana, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to take part in this debate on the government's request to extend the sitting hours in the House of Commons for the last 10 sitting days before the summer adjournment.

The government is exercising an option that exists under the Standing Orders, particularly Standing Order 27, and it is, in effect, asking the House to sit every sitting day until 11 p.m. from now until June 19. That is the substance of the motion.

What the government House leader has tried to do in the last few minutes is to offer some justification for those extended hours. The government says, in effect, that it is necessary to have these additional hours for the next two weeks to somehow speed up its legislation, that list that is found on the order paper, but I suggest that the real reason and the main goal for this motion, on the part of the government, is to hide its own patent mismanagement of the House calendar over the last many months.

Let us look at the facts. In 2006, out of 365 days, the House sat for only 97 days. That, of course, was the year that was interrupted at the beginning of the year by the election, but in 2006, the House sat for 97 days. In 2007, the House sat for only 74 days before the government prorogued the first session of this Parliament and then instead of coming back promptly, it delayed the beginning of the second session until well into October, October 16, 2007, to be exact.

This conscious delay, this delay by the government, was its prerogative. It exercised it, so it is the Conservatives' responsibility. They effectively eliminated 16 sitting days in last fall's House calendar, not to mention all of the time that was wasted on a vacuous throne speech debate since many of the bills that remain on the order paper today were simply reinstated from the previous session. In other words, prorogation and a Speech from the Throne produced precious little that was actually new. They were just recycling the same drivel from before.

The Conservative minority government is now asking for the cooperation of opposition parties to adopt this motion to extend hours in order to help it advance an agenda that largely consists of old business, despite the fact that the government itself has squandered a great deal of time and goodwill over the course of the last two years.

I would like to take a moment to remind members of this House of the words spoken by the now Prime Minister when he was leader of the opposition on the topic of how to make a minority Parliament work. That is one very important factor to bear in mind in the context of this motion, that we are operating in a minority situation. I am quoting the Prime Minister's own words that are found in Hansard for October 6, 2004:

"I believe that even when a government holds a majority it is not relieved of its obligation to consult with the opposition, with the House and with the people on important matters. That obligation is surely even more imperative when a minority government situation exists. It is the government's obligation to craft a working majority to advance its agenda by taking into account the policies and priorities expressed by the three opposition parties in the House."

In other words, a great call for cooperation in the House of Commons. I agree with what the Prime Minister said when he was the leader of the opposition. Unfortunately, the minority government has demonstrated no commitment to those principles that were described by the Prime Minister when he was leader of the opposition. The minority government has no idea what it means to consult the opposition parties, not to mention no idea what it means to take into account their priorities.

The modus operandi of the government is one of bitter partisanship all the time, running roughshod over everything and everybody in its path, no matter what. Let us take a look at its track record.

+ -(1540)

The Conservative leadership across the way prepared and distributed, just about a year ago now, a 200-page handbook on dirty tricks, instructing its members on how to obstruct the work of Parliament should things not be going happily in its direction.

Several Conservative committee chairs have actually followed that manual on dirty tricks very carefully. One example is the justice committee, which has just been referred to, where the chair repeatedly, just as soon as the meeting gets going, gets an urgent call of nature and rushes from the room. He does this at every single meeting. Is that accidental? No. It is a conspiracy to destroy the effectiveness of that committee.

We can see the same pattern being followed at the procedure and House affairs committee, the operations committee, and the ethics committee. All of this is an effort on the part of Conservative members to hide from the truth about a seemingly never-ending series of Conservative ethical difficulties, and parliamentary committees have been sacrificed to Conservative political expediency.

The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has refused to appear before standing committees to defend her supplementary estimates. The minister responsible for official languages refuses to appear before the standing committee to defend her government's action, or lack of action, on official languages. It is obvious that in the Conservative government, transparency and accountability are not principles that ministers are prepared to respect.

That creates an atmosphere in the House where it is, indeed, difficult to get the kind of cooperation that the government House leader has asked for today. What is the genesis of that problem? What is the root cause? The government House leader need only look in the mirror.

I will give the House another example. The government agreed to a compromise resolution earlier in this session about Afghanistan, and particularly Canada's role in that very difficult mission. The motion was comprehensive. It involved a good deal of give and take, back and forth, across the floor. But specifically, it included the creation of a special committee to oversee that mission, to provide a greater degree of transparency and accountability back to Canadians.

After the adoption of the resolution, which occurred on March 13 of this year, a full month went by and the government had not bothered to consult with anybody with respect to the creation of that very important special committee. In fact, the Liberal official opposition had to use an opposition day to force a debate that resulted in the motion in the creation of that special committee. The government would not have taken action if the opposition had not moved to force it to do so.

With respect to consultations, I should point out that the Conservative government has a great deal of difficulty sharing information with opposition parties, especially when it concerns the proposed calendar of House business. Members will be very familiar with the vacuous speeches that always appear here in the House of Commons on the Thursday of every week in response to questions about the future agenda for the House.

The government, one would think, would take advantage of official and unofficial meetings of House leaders to share plans and priorities about how the business of the House is going to flow. The fact of the matter is that information is rarely forthcoming.

When the Conservatives were the official opposition, they demanded and they received from the government of the day a calendar outlining the government's intentions for House business for three weeks in advance. Today, we are lucky if the government can provide five days of advance notice of proposed House business from time to time.

None of that contributes to the kind of atmosphere where there is a sense of cooperation or where the government can make a convincing argument that there is a sense of urgency that justifies the motion that it has presented.

On other matters, there have been simple requests from opposition parties for things like take note debates, for example, which are no burden on the government whatsoever but they do deal with important topics like Darfur and foreign aid, and other matters of public interest where members strive, for the better part, to set aside the intense partisanship of this place and take note of a matter of important public interest.

On several occasions, House leaders have asked for the government House leader to make an occasion available for various take note debates and the government House leader's response has been simply “no”. We asked why, his answer was “No reason. My answer is just no”. He said, “I can be arbitrary so I am being arbitrary”. That again does not contribute to a good working relationship in the House.

+ -(1545)

On another item that we have seen very recently, something like advanced notice and consultation for solemn occasions, like the recent visit by the President of Ukraine and the apology on residential schools, somehow the government, rather than treating these with the dignity and the solemnity they deserve, they somehow get twisted into partisan arguments that repel other members of the House from even trying to accede to government requests.

The government has also been quite strange in managing, or mismanaging, what it says are its priorities in the House. On the election campaign, the Conservatives have repeatedly said that their priorities include things like gun control and killing the Canadian Wheat Board, and both of those things have been on the order paper. However, they have only been called for debate in the most symbolic and trivial of ways.

The legislation on firearms, for example, has been on the order paper, in my recollection, since June 2006, and it has been called for debate in the House on one occasion for one hour. Similarly, the bill on the Canadian Wheat Board has been sitting on the order paper since March of this year, and the first time the government even mentioned it was today in response to a question during question period and then on a motion after question period.

If these things were such priorities, the debates would have been called on these items months and months ago, and not just brought up at the last minute and the government saying that now they are a priority.

When we asked the government, as we have done both in the House leaders meetings and on the floor of the House, to specify the priorities it has for things that simply must be passed before the summer adjournment in a couple of weeks, all it did was simply recite in total the entire order paper.

When the government claims that everything is a priority, then clearly nothing is a priority, and the government cannot, on that basis, make a compelling argument for extended hours.

The government has tried its very best to portray the opposition as the villains who are in some way delaying the work of this Parliament as it appears on the order paper, but the fact of the matter is, when we look at the government's own delays in bringing legislation forward, when we look at its disrespect for Parliament and for the committee process, when we look at the ways that it has failed in the mandate expressed in the Prime Minister's own words; that is, to consult and show respect for others in this place, then it is little wonder that when it makes a motion of this kind, the opposition is skeptical.

I would inform you, Mr. Speaker, that the official opposition will oppose this motion.


We've had enough of control-freak Steve and his twisted band of misfits avoiding questions, acting like attack-dogs, behaving like school-yard bullies, being oblivious to those little things called "facts", obfuscating genuine efforts at responsibility and accountability, shaming Canada on the world stage, enthusiastically acting like Bush sockpuppets, trampling on the human rights of Canadians imprisoned abroad, spending money on defence like there's no tomorrow, ignoring laid-off workers, pushing legitimate immigrants to the back of the line, trying to sneak in their anti-women agenda through the back door, bowing to Steve's every whim, claiming to stand for national security while they provide cover for a foreign affairs minister who mishandled classified documents, ripping people off in the income trust fiasco, trying to fool everybody into thinking that the Cadman tape was doctored, covering up for Brian Mulroney, paying lip service to environmental protections while protecting big oil...

The list goes on and on and on.

Enough is enough.

And they expect members of the opposition to sit extra hours on their behalf after all of that?


The end to this regime can't come soon enough.

(Make an effort to read the rest of the debate. Really. You won't be disappointed.)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

About last nite...

I made a simple (and admittedly easy) prediction last nite: cranky Obama supporters will continue to be cranky Obama supporters when he wins the nomination. And I was right, of course.

Anyone who's followed blogs like Daily Kos Obama the past few months has seen a level of ugly vitriol and kool-aid drunkenness that they ironically used to blast in neocons, their supporters, freepers, and wingnuts. Mass hysteria is not party-specific.

And then there are the cable news show talking heads egos who have been whining for Hillary to shut up and get out, as if they're covering their ears so they don't have to put up with the stereotypical nagging wife while they and the mainstream, so-called progressive bloggers have been screaming "Sexism?? What sexism??" And some people wonder why Hillary supporters are angry.

When I watched MSNBC's Tuesday nite coverage of the candidates' speeches, I couldn't help but notice the absolutely ridiculous "Waah! Hillary's making us talk about her again!! Tell her to STOP it!" whining. And then, right on cue, they'd go on talking about her anyway as if they had no control whatsoever. And the same thing is going on throughout the blogosphere today. It all reminds me of a teevee commercial I saw during the 60s. A guy walks into his workplace and complains about his lunch, "Chicken sandwiches, chicken sandwiches. Every day it's chicken sandwiches." Then one of his co-workers says, "Why don't you ask your wife to make something else?" to which the guy responds, "I'm not married."

[insert "d'oh" here]

You would think last nite and today would have been a cause for major celebrations among Obama supporters (and let's not pretend that the MSNBC crew hasn't been in the tank for months on end so that they would have to pretend to be unbiased at this point). But, no. That bad Hillary woman is still making them talk about her and they just can't seen to make her automagically disappear.

Call the wahmbulance.

Sore winners. That's what they are. And it's quite the pathetic display. It's as if they have no idea how to be happy - if even for a moment. (I'll give Chris Matthews props for admitting last night that he had "the giggles" and that, for him, it felt like New Year's Eve. At least he didn't admit to his leg "tingling" again, which was just creepy.)

As for me, I don't support the status quo Democratic party anyway so it really didn't matter to me who won and it won't make much difference whether a Democrat or Republican wins the WH in November. Surely I jest, you insist. Well, no. Especially after knowing full well that Obama's foreign policy is just a stone's throw away from McSurge's. Just read the transcript of Obama's speech to AIPAC on Wednesday. If you still think I'm wrong, go ahead and point out where the differences lie. I'll wait.

Imperialist America. Rah rah rah.

Let's not forget that Obama's all for "remaking the world" in America's image. Save the rest of us from that, please.

Clinton wanted to "obliterate" Iran. Obama wants to "eliminate" the "grave" threat. Does that sound familiar?

Maybe that's why some Obama supporters aren't celebrating today. Even's Justin Raimondo, who admitted earlier this year that he had a crush on Obama, has suddenly changed his tune. But why now? Surely he read last year's speech that Obama gave to AIPAC? Or the recent yay, Zionism! speech he gave in a Jewish synagogue in Florida? And he must know that Obama is only opposed to "dumb" wars - not all wars. If someone like Raimondo, who has been writing about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the military-industrial complex for years was fooled, is there hope for other Obama supporters? Or more, importantly, do they even care?

I don't think so. So, where are the party hats and noisemakers, you cranky Obama supporters?

As for all of the speculation about whether she'll be chosen as his VP
(which mean Hillary forced everybody to talk about by apparently casting some sort of witch's spell on all of you poor, helpless people) - get real. It's not going to happen. So quit the bedwetting and get on with the general election race - which promises to be about as exciting as watching paint dry.

Is November here yet? Let's get on with it already. The American Empire awaits.

(h/t about Raimondo's buyer's remorse to marisacat)


If Obama thought he was having problems wooing pro-Zionist Jewish voters before, surely Jimmy Carter's endorsement of him on Tuesday won't help matters. And Carter was quite blunt on Wednesday about what bad news it would be if Obama chose Hillary as his VP, stating that it would bring out the negative vulnerabilities in both of them. I've thought all along that if Obama won, he would choose a VP running mate who would basically be invisibly compliant - someone who won't make waves or steal the spotlight. Milquetoast, here we come. Sebelius fits that bill. She's like the anti-Hillary in many respects - although some female Hillary supporters have already said that she'd just be a female-faced spokesmodel for the ticket, so they'd cry foul.

I should add that I congratulate the Democratic party on its first African-American nominee but, on the other hand, what took you so bloody long?

Oh - that reminds me of something Tweety has been saying the past couple of days - that you wouldn't see an African-American being nominated in Europe or some South American countries. Gee, Matthews - do you think maybe the "American" part of that is a clue??