Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Future

Canada's new Governor General David Johnston aims a C7 assault rifle at the perception that the Monarchy is archaic and ridiculous. For the next while it will be all about guns, soldiers, hockey and cheap donuts. I Miss the Haitian lady.

Photo via Globe & Mail

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Night Marxism

Given all I've been reading about wiki-leaks, I can't help but thinking we would have been no worse off with Rufus T. Firefly as our leader. We've always been at war with Sylvania.

That and the unbelievably quiet revelation that former Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor was the de facto CIA station chief in Tehran under the Joe Clarke government.

Come back Mrs. Teasdale, we need you

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Holy Biased Poll

I realize website polls are primarily for entertainment and shouldn't be taken seriously, especially not on a hyper-conservative radio site.

But this poll really stuck out as having a totally meaningless, poorly worded and biased set of choices.

There is some context to this. The "bureaucrats" bad, PC Government good theme has been coalescing all week among partisan conservatives.

The messaging will get heavier this coming week, blaming anyone and everyone - except the Tory Government - for the latest Health Care crisis.

CHED will use their talk radio shows to push this pro-Tory view. Guaranteed.

Update: Last time I checked 77% of the respondents believe the "bureaucrats" were to blame for this political crisis.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

‘In Memoriam’ for murdered Mexican anti-mining activist refused by Calgary Herald

According to a press release from the Council of Canadians:

An ‘In Memoriam’ classified ad to be run on November 27th on behalf of the family of murdered anti-mining activist Mariano Abarca Roblero has been called "unsuitable" by the Calgary Herald, though several other Canadian newspapers, including the Globe and Mail and the Edmonton Journal, have agreed to print it.

"We are confused about why the Calgary Herald would refuse a paid ‘In Memoriam’ on the anniversary of the death of Mariano Abarca. Former employees of Blackfire Exploration, a Calgary-based firm, are in jail in Chiapas, Mexico awaiting court appearances related to his murder. We sincerely hope the Herald is not simply trying to avoid controversy from a local company," says Rick Arnold, coordinator of Common Frontiers.

Sickening if true. I look forward to a time when the Calgary Herald just doesn't matter anymore.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Calgary Herald Opposes Basic Democracy

To no one's surprise the Calgary Herald wrote an op-ed wholly justifying the Senate's vote down of Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act. It seems so twisted, to me I can only summarise it in point form:

  • The bill would cause irreparable economic harm while at the same time mandating unattainble C02 reduction goals. Unattainable, yet catastrophic.
  • Millions will end up out of work and we'll be standing in soup lines.
  • Ideological climate change denial trumps any consideration of basic democracy.
  • Stephen Harper had no choice but to appoint Conservative partisans to the Senate because no other province would hold fake Senate elections like Alberta.
  • Canadians will freeze in the dark, will have to stop driving, and will have turn down their heat by 40%.
  • Our estimates and statistics were very carefully checked by Lord Monckton.
  • For rhetorical purposes, the oil sands and coal based electricity do not exist and do not produce C02. All reductions are on individuals.

Ok, I made the part up about Monckton. But would you have doubted it if I hadn't said so?

As Harper's era comes to an end, and the rest of the world starts tackling climate change without us, the status quo will be defended by liars.

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When a Witch Weighs the Same as a Duck

Ed Stelmach's communication style is oblique and opaque most of the time. Opaque in the sense of being impenetrable by light. Today he all but confirmed that Stephen Duckett would be relieved of his duties as the Alberta Health Services CEO. At least that's what I read among the grimaces and incomplete sentences. I'm not surprised. Health Care is the most dysfunctional file in the Alberta Government and has been in constant churn since the end of the Don Getty era.

Duckett will be paid contract severance and we are obligated to pay to move him and his family back to Australia. (View his contract here.) On top of that, he may be able to sue for wrongful dismissal. While the cookie thing was certainly unprofessional I'm not convinced it is grounds for termination. On the other hand, the current condition of the Health Care System strongly suggests he either failed in his job, or just could not effect any good changes because of politics. In either case, I strongly suggest he was looking for an early exit anyway. It's not pleasant for a CEO to have no real control, and to work in a gong show environment.

Really, it's a failure of the whole top level bureaucracy, from the Premier downward. It's a strange feeling for me to agree with Danielle Smith on something, namely that the super board concept is a failure and needs to be disbanded. Of course, the Wildrose general philosophy about health care is very different from mine. Still, put that dog down.

One thing that did bug me, was the way Albertan's treated Dr. Duckett right from day one. Edmonton tends to be a little inward looking and Duckett wasn't really welcomed as an outsider. Furthermore, there were constant gratuitous references to his Australianness which were irrelevant and seemed xenophobic. The op-ed cartoons referencing Crocadile Dundy themes were sort of lame.

The PC Government has been fairly consistent for a long time. No matter what bad thing happens they'll use the wrong Yardstick, and the hammer will come down on the wrong person.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Link Byfield "Resigns"

Link Byfield resigned his position as one of Alberta's senators-in-waiting today. I was hoping at his press conference he might have explained why his friend Senator Bert Brown participated in a shady vote down of a House of Commons Bill, passed by an elected majority. It's extremely ridiculous that Bert Brown can never be removed from his position, which he was appointed to for life by Stephen Harper. There is no bill Parliament can pass to force a term limit on Bert Brown or any other Senator.

Alberta held Senate elections in 2004 and three people were elected to serve 6 year terms as senators-in-waiting. Upon expiry this year, Premier Stelmach declined to hold another election and instead extended their terms. Regardless of what you think of this fake Senate reform, it's worth noting that Stelmach has zero regard for any kind of political reform.

The fact that Byfield is a Wildrose Alliance executive, and a candidate for them in the next election explains why Premier Stelmach was not willing to give him a tonne of free publicity with a senator-in-waiting election. The pattern by now is very clear. Ed Stelmach puts his party ahead of every single public issue, no matter what it is.

The senator-in-waiting act is a Provincial Statute that has no meaning outside of Alberta. It was invented by Ralph Klein as a PR stunt to shore up the right side (Reformers) of the PC Party. The Senate is a national body defined in our Constitution Act. All Senators are appointed by our Head of State, on the advice of the Prime Minister, who traditionally may ask for a recommendation from a Premier. This is High School curriculum knowledge, but seems on the decline among voting adults.

The Alberta Senate elections are relatively inexpensive, harmless, and give right leaning Albertans a warm fuzzy feeling about political reform. They get poor turnout and the candidates, so far, have only been drawn from the political right. Like everything else in Alberta, you can pick the conservative, or the other conservative. Watch out for the homophobia.

In all honesty, to me they are a meaningless gong show. And for the record, I'm interested in Senate reform as an ongoing issue.

The broader issue is not Link or Ed. This issue is the deteriorating knowledge about our institutions and how they work. I meet people who honestly believe a senator-in-waiting is legally entitled to the next open Senator position.

Stephen Harper and to some extent Klein and Stelmach have worked hard to de-educate Albertans about our national institutions, in particular about how Senate appointments work.

Where this issue goes in the future is hard to say. After the next Provincial election the Alberta Legislature could be divided up among 3 right leaning parties. I think it will continue to be used as a partisan wedge issue.

The next Liberal Prime Minister will not be bound to appoint any of Alberta's senators-in- waiting. Nor will he be bound by any of Stephen Harper's fake Senate reform bills. After all, Canada is founded on a faulty constitution, and other fault lines that seem intractable.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Night Cockburn

I'm loner with a loner's point of view,
I've always been a loner,
Now I'm in love with you

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

UN Endorses State Violence against Gays

The Social, Humanitarian Cultural Affairs Committee of the UN General Assembly has voted to remove reference to sexuality from a resolution which condemns the use of "extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions".

Shame on the United Nations. And since it was a close vote, shame on those nations that abstained or didn't show up. I realize the UN has little real power, but these kind of resolutions are extremely important. Please recommend this post

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

James Travers: Remembrance,Country

James Travers is such a great writer. Here he says exactly what needs to be said, at a politically incorrect time.

There are many things my father and uncle wouldn’t recognize. They wouldn’t understand a country where patriotism is partisan, where men and women in uniform are used as political props or where death and sports are shamelessly conflated on Hockey Night in Canada.

Every year on Remembrance day there's that one thing that I see or read that just caves me in.

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Monday, November 08, 2010

Queer Ugandans ask Parliament for refugee assistance (Canada)

Since when is it the role of a Member of Parliament to agree or disagree with someone's lifestyle choice. Someone please shoot me, I can't live in this country anymore.

The Commons subcommittee on international human rights – part of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development – heard from the Pride Uganda Alliance International on the plight on queers in Uganda.

He also noted that the influence of American evangelical Christian groups has been widely felt as they try to use the proposed Ugandan law as a “model” for other countries to follow when it comes to legislating against homosexuality.

The mention of these evangelical groups prompted Conservative MP Dave Sweet to try assure the witnesses that not all Christians condone the acts of hate even though “we might not agree with the lifestyle choice,” while Reid said that he felt his parents, who were evangelical missionaries, would be horrified by what has transpired in Uganda.

Bold is mine. One hopes our government will do the right thing. It must be incredibly awkward for the social conservative caucus in Harper's Government, given their close ties to the groups that are exporting homophobia to Africa.

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Saturday, November 06, 2010

Canadian Veterans National Day of Protest - Calgary Alberta

(a lot of links below, hope they all work ...)

I attended the Canadian Veterans National Day of Protest this morning in Calgary. It was a good event on an unusually warm November day. I was disappointed that more Calgarians did not come out for this. After reading up a bit I was really shocked and saddened by how badly the current government has mishandled Veteran Affairs.

Here is a link to what they handed out at the rally today. There is more good reading at the Veteran`s voice website, and at the event website.

Please sign the petition here.

Here`s a video of the speech by retired Major C.J. Wallace, and under that is a link to some photos at the event.

Canadian Veterans National Day of Protest - Calgary Alberta
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Health Care WAP Style.

Here's a podcast of CBC Calgary's noon hour show today, featuring Danielle Smith talking about the Alberta Health Care system. It starts at around 25:40. Her critiques of the existing system are mostly right on. Everyone knows that the Stelmach government's management of the health care system is ridiculously incompetent. There are really no words to describe it.

However the Wildrose/Fraser Institutes philosophy presented here is equally as ridiculous. She really gets hammered by a number of callers who see through the BS.

An emergency hip replacement for a senior is not the same as shopping around for new vinyl siding.
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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Prentice Abandons Ship

What can you say about Jim Prentice? Widely regarded as a moderate conservative, well liked by fellow MP's and a well respected Calgarian. But also, a man with no influence or future in Stephen Harper's highly radicalized political movement.

Two Prentice moments that stick out for me:

1. Voting for same sex marriage. I believe that he was sincere in this vote, mostly alone among conservative MPs. In three elections in Calgary Centre North, Prentice won by wide margins. He took no political hit for this brave choice, which also says something about Calgary.

2. The second moment was the discovery of the wreckage of the British ship HMS Investigator. This ship was sent out in search of the Franklin Expedition in the 1850s and itself was destroyed in an ice pack. In August 2010 Prentice sailed out into ice free water to look down through the water at the wreckage of the Investigator. He gushed, apparently, that it was just like looking through a window into the 1800's. Actually, its probably more like looking into the future where there's no more ice and everything is under water. Prentice expressed no sense of the irony of this discovery given his responsibility as the environment minister. Archeology is made much easier by global warming I guess.

After the elaborate photo-op with the Archeologists it was back to Ottawa to cut more climate change programs.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Batman and the Birth of Venus

Isabel Samaras is my latest guilty pleasure artist. It hits my spot because I love both pop art and classical art. This Batman and Robin piece works in so many ways.

And then there was this homage to Bouguereau and all those birth of Venus paintings, using character from Gilligan's Island. Too much.

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