ARCHIVE: http://littletobacco.blogspot.com/2004/12/ ARCHIVE: http://littletobacco.blogspot.com/2005/01/ ARCHIVE: http://littletobacco.blogspot.com/2005/02/ ARCHIVE: http://littletobacco.blogspot.com/2005/03/ ARCHIVE: http://littletobacco.blogspot.com/2005/04/ ARCHIVE: http://littletobacco.blogspot.com/2005/05/ ARCHIVE: http://littletobacco.blogspot.com/2005/06/ ARCHIVE: http://littletobacco.blogspot.com/2005/07/ ARCHIVE: http://littletobacco.blogspot.com/2005/08/ ARCHIVE: http://littletobacco.blogspot.com/2005/09/ ARCHIVE: http://littletobacco.blogspot.com/2005/10/ ARCHIVE: http://littletobacco.blogspot.com/2005/11/ ARCHIVE: http://littletobacco.blogspot.com/2005/12/ ARCHIVE: http://littletobacco.blogspot.com/2006/01/ ARCHIVE: http://littletobacco.blogspot.com/2006/02/ ARCHIVE: http://littletobacco.blogspot.com/2006/03/ ARCHIVE: http://littletobacco.blogspot.com/2006/04/ ARCHIVE: http://littletobacco.blogspot.com/2006/09/ ARCHIVE: http://littletobacco.blogspot.com/2006/10/ AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/31/2005 02:07:00 PM TITLE: Motion to recuse being heard by Gomery ----- BODY:
I was watching the Gomery Commission ... the motion for Gomery to recuse himself is being heard. The legal arguments were exactly that... the test to be applied and the application of the facts to the test. Chretiens's guys want one test and they have their version of the facts. The parties opposed to the motion want a different test and their interpretation of the facts.

The interesting thing was actually brought up by the lawyer for the Conservative Party. The motion was filed without a supporting affidavit by Chretien. In fact the supporting affidavit was not signed by Chretien's lawyer. The supporting affidavit was signed by an articling student.

Is this important? Well Chretien signed an affidavit in support of the standing application, but this time around he is reluctant to sign his name? I wonder why?

For you articling students out there, it is sometimes hard to say no when your principal requests you to swear out an affidavit, but always ask yourself why a lawyer is not doing so. In the long term it will serve you well. (Not that the clerk in question did something wrong. I have not seen the application. It is a general rule.)
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/31/2005 09:30:00 AM TITLE: Paging the Insurgents ----- BODY:
Where were the insurgents? Despite all the talk of security problems and the lengths that the "insurgents" were willing to go to stop the elections, election day went of with hardly a hitch. It begs the question of the strength of the insurgencey; just how many and how popular are these guys?

UPDATE: David Janes is ahead of me with the questions and the links..
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/28/2005 03:24:00 PM TITLE: Harper's gay marriage strategy exposes rift among Conservatives ----- BODY:
The Alliance could never form a government without the Tories, thus the merger. However, the month of January has the old tories wondering what the hell is going on.


Harper's gay marriage strategy exposes rift among Conservatives

Thu Jan 27, 4:03 PM ET

DAN DUGAS

OTTAWA (CP) - Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's position on gay marriage may play well with most of his MPs on the surface, but it exposes deep divisions that remain after the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative wedding.


While former Alliance members appear comfortable with Harper's decision to launch an ad campaign against same-sex marriage, many ex-Tories are decidedly uncomfortable. Marie-Josee Lapointe, former press secretary to Tory Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, calls Harper's stance "bad strategy that's left me completely flabbergasted."

"Have we no respect for the rule of law? . . . We are supposed to be the party that stands for the rights of individuals. Times have changed and it's time we changed with them."

Lapointe, whose public relations company is doing work for social groups opposed to the Conservative position, said the courts have made clear what their interpretation of the law is and Harper should accept that.

"The ad says: 'Where do you draw the line?' How about right here, Mr. Harper?" she said.

"We've found a way to divide the nation when we should be looking at ways of uniting it."

There are also doubts in Atlantic Canada, where the four provinces are run by Conservative premiers.

"This is bizarre, way out there," said a senior adviser to Nova Scotia Premier John Hamm.

Hamm has not spent five minutes on the issue, nor has it ever come up in any meaningful way, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"The strategy has got our political people just shaking their heads. Is this where you draw the line, really? How about dealing with issues that really affect our lives."

Harper's strategy has also raised concerns on another level as well.

His decision to launch the ads without consulting his deputy leader, Nova Scotia MP Peter MacKay, reignited talk in some circles about just how involved former Progressive Conservatives are in the new party's direction.

MacKay has said the ads took him by surprise.

Harper has also drawn criticism for musing that gay marriage could lead to legalized polygamy.

Tory Brad Green, New Brunswick's attorney general, moved quickly to dispel that suggestion, but he would not pass judgment on Harper's tactics.

"Polygamy is not an issue I have heard raised by anyone in the province of New Brunswick," he said.


-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/28/2005 11:31:00 AM TITLE: Doctors must vote with their feet ----- BODY:
The Star is lecturing Doctors not use patients in their effort to get a better deal.
As for business issues, the business of doctors is supposed to be to make people better, not to extend their suffering. That's why, if the anesthesiologists really cared about patients, they would act like professionals and cancel their one-day job action on Feb. 11.
Actually, the effect of the Canadian Health Act, and recent legislation by the Ontario Liberals to strengthen the same is to deny patients the ability to limit their suffering by attending on a private clinic. If the government really cared they would allow people and service providers to opt out.

But this is not necessary in the view of the Star. Their solution: doctors should put their grievances to OMA negotiators. And then what? The government turns it down?

The only relief for doctors comes from increased waiting lists. This puts political pressure on the government who then must respond.

Of course the doctor who does not like the system should just get out and open his own clinic ...wait a second...that is illegal in Ontario. Fines of up to $25,000 per offence. So the only option then is to leave the province, to take your act south of the border. It really is the government way or the highway.

If enough doctors take the highway route, which is unlikely as it involves moving your family away from their family and friends, then conditions will improve for the doctors who move in to take the place of the ones that are leaving.

The Star, has been supporting the PM's claim that minority rights must be protected. Here's a minority that could stand some protection. Lawyers, dentists, accountants, plumbers, MBAs, roofers, teachers, and just about everyone else in this country are free to pursue their livelihood in the private sector, charging whatever the market dictates. Doctors are denied this "right". They are forced to work in a government monopoly where the only power they hold is to vote with their feet.

It is disingenuous of the Star to pretend that it is otherwise.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/28/2005 10:33:00 AM TITLE: Martin keeps on spinning ----- BODY:
With Williams & Martin meeting today, an Evening Telegram editorial is reproduced in The Toronto Star. It's worth the read. Here is a teaser:
So, it must be a few days before Premier Danny Williams is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Paul Martin. Why? Because the strategic federal leaking has started again.

Once again, an "unnamed federal official" has supplied the mainland media with juicy bits of information designed to soften up opposition.

The latest offering? "I'd be shocked if there was a deal Friday. Completely stunned," The Canadian Press reported the official as saying Tuesday.

"We're giving him just about everything he's asked for. But he doesn't want to give on anything."We think it's a stalling tactic — that he wants to delay until after he delivers his budget.

"For those who don't remember, that sort of political leakage happens before and after every meeting Williams has with the federal government.

At crucial meetings in Winnipeg, Williams and the Newfoundland contingent read about the federal offer in the Globe and Mail before they had even heard from the federal government.

Federal Natural Resources Minister John Efford didn't even attend the meeting in Winnipeg, the outcome of the meeting was so obvious in advance.



-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/28/2005 10:19:00 AM TITLE: Canada lags US prosperity. ----- BODY:
Canada lags behind the US in prosperity ... The Toronto Star has found the silver lining:

Even more encouraging, the report shows income is distributed more evenly in Canada, with the bottom 60 per cent of households having higher average incomes than their American counterparts.

Of course they fail to mention that on that income Canadians pay more taxes. There was a report last week that indicated that Canadians have not seen a real increase in their income in twenty years. There was another report that indicated that the increase in standard of living for Canadians was accounted for in increased debt.

Then we get back to the story mentioned above, which also has this to say:

In 1974, 90 per cent of Canadians enjoyed higher incomes than their southern neighbor's, compared with 60 per cent today, Milway said.
The answer to the prosperity questions are simple, cut taxes and cut spending.

-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/28/2005 09:47:00 AM TITLE: Gomery to take Feds to court ----- BODY:
Justice Gomery to take the Feds to court to get full docs.

This story reared its head back in early December. During question period, the Opposition Tories asked the Liberals why they were providing edited documents after promising to co-operate fully with the Commission.

I wrote the following on December 7th, 2004 in response to that initial story. I was not blogging then so I will have to reproduce the whole thing:

Perhaps things have changed in the few years since I stopped practicing law. Back in the day, the judge made the decision on the relevance of evidence. A party could suggest relevance, but at the end of the day, that decision lay with the judge.

The Government of Canada, or more specifically the Liberal Government of Canada, has made the conscious decision to edit the documents that they will release to the Gomery inquiry; blacking out those parts that they determine, in their wisdom, to be irrelevant to the purpose of the inquiry.

No doubt that there will be a lot of material in cabinet documents that is not relevant to the issue at hand. It should be further conceded that there may well be sensitive information in those documents that should not be released to the public and that the privilege in those documents will be compromised if the documents are released to the public. There may well be questions as to whether it is legal for the government to release certain information into the public domain.

However, that is not the issue. The issue is who determines relevance. Should it be a party to the proceedings or the judge presiding over the matter? The clear answer is the Judge.

In a trial involving the Crown as a party, the Crown would not be able to pull this stunt. The Crown would be required to make originals available, the judge would review the documents and then determine which parts should be released, which parts should be blacked out or deemed irrelevant. Even if the party had blacked out portions of the documents that they released to the other parties, they would have to make the originals available to the judge in the event that there was any question about the relevance of a blacked out document.

If this Liberal government is serious about getting to the bottom of the scandal, as they so often claim, they would pursue this route. They would allow Justice Gomery to review the documents, or the portions that the government has issue with, and make a determination as to what is relevant.

Judges make decisions on relevance all the time. They see evidence, determine that it is irrelevant, no matter how damning and then make decisions based on the relevant information that was put before them.

We would, I am sure, like to believe that the government would provide all relevant information, living up to their commitment to co-operate fully. However, there is no difference between the “government” and the "Liberal Party" in this instance. The decisions and payouts were all political in nature, thus we can assume that the State will have politics as its first priority.

At the end of the day, there will always be questions about what information that is coming forward. We already know that a lot of the handwritten notes in the files were destroyed. We also heard that "alleged" perpetrators of the fraud ordered their underlings to make their handwritten notes on "sticky paper" to facilitate easy removal. There is already a massive fraud being perpetrated on the people of Canada in this regard. There were a group of people who set up a system for the easy destruction of relevant evidence when they went out the door.

The outcome of the Gomery commission is important, but equally so is the process. There cannot be even the slightest whiff of a cover-up. There can be no hint of bias. (Note: Since this was originally written, there have been allegations of bias by Jean Chretien against Justice Gomery for comments that Gomery, for reasons that I still cannot understand, made to the press over the Christmas break.)

The Liberal government has used the resources of the state purely for their own political success rather than for the benefit of Canadians; or if there was a benefit it was a side effect at best. This is the real story of this scandal and other Liberal scandals.

The politics, of course, cuts both ways. It would be safe to assume that good portions of what is blacked are matters that could be political fodder for the opposition. And if anyone thinks that this is not a main motive of the opposition parties then they would be mistaken.

The Opposition want the documents, not just for their relevance to the issue at hand, but in the search for political ammunition. Justice Gomery cannot allow that. The documents are covered by a privilege that the Government has waived for a specific purpose. A government can not operate completely in the public view.

Thus we come back to the same conclusion, Justice Gomery must make the decision on relevance.

Accountability and transparency are not just words. They have meanings.

The Canadian public is finding out is that there are actually multiple meanings: the meaning expected of citizens when paying taxes; and the one that politicians apply to themselves when dealing with our taxes.

The rules of evidence should not be able to be perverted to allow for the politicization of the commission’s workings by the very party being investigated. In order for an inquiry such as the one in question to have the effect of giving the public assurances that it is in fact an impartial, unbiased adjudication of the facts, it is important that there cannot be even a taint of bias or favoritism on the part of the commission. Further there cannot be the smell of a cover-up. The government struck the commission and allegedly has put all of its faith in justice Gomery. Now we find out that the government has taken unto itself a role that one would expect would apply to the justice. The government has put on the hat of the justice and is self-determining relevance.

In order for the public to have any faith in the process and outcome this has to stop immediately. The rules should not be perverted to allow for the politicization of the commission’s workings.

-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/28/2005 05:02:00 AM TITLE: Racial Profiling by Liberals! ----- BODY:
Yesterday it was the Liberals accusing the Tories of being racists for directing advertising to specific ethnic communities ... Now this!

Senior government sources confirm that the government is bracing itself for inevitable criticism over proposals to reduce the number of countries to which Canada gives foreign aid, and focus it instead on areas where Canadian dollars can make a difference.

Complicating matters is the fact that in a minority government, any funding cuts will be politically sensitive, because every country or region that receives aid also has an expatriate community in Canada — "We have all the diasporas," said one source — and often those communities have strong voices within the Liberal party.
Paging Susan Delacourt! Paging Susan Delacourt!

UPDATE: Via, Norm Spector ... The National Post does not like the Liberal's analysis:
The Liberals' latest propaganda tactic is a crude exercise in hypocrisy. In election after election, the Liberals have monopolized ethnic votes by pouring millions into multicultural projects, co-opting influential community leaders and bending immigration policies to reward their friends. If anything, Mr. Harper's approach is more enlightened: Rather than buying off multiculti constituencies with favours and cash, he is appealing to them on a substantive policy issue. In other words, he is treating them as sophisticated, independent voters, rather than as anonymous party-machine cogs to be bussed in to campaign events at the behest of local powerbrokers. Which approach should immigrants find more "offensive"?

-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/27/2005 04:49:00 PM TITLE: Free Trade ----- BODY:
Virginia Postrel has an article on the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement. It is worth a full read as it demonstrates the gains for all concerned.

Those who are old enough will recall that the Liberals (who now claim to be the champions of free trade) and the NDP waged a campaign of fear against the deal. Canada was going to lose its social programs. Perhaps we should remember that when the same guys are talking about missile defence and the health care reform.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/27/2005 04:01:00 PM TITLE: Martin calls Harper a Racist ----- BODY:
Racial Profiling??? While I guess one could admire the efforts of the Prime Minister to paint Stephen Harper as a crazy bigot cracker from out west, however, this is the largest leap in logic that I have see in a while:
Prime Minister Paul Martin is accusing his federal Conservative foes of "racial profiling" in their bid to rally opponents of same-sex marriage among Canada's ethnic and cultural communities. Sources say Martin made a spirited speech to a closed meeting of Liberal MPs yesterday, waving his arms and belting out attacks on Conservative Leader Stephen Harper. He told them a recent wave of Tory ads against same-sex marriage — strategically placed in newspapers catering to new and immigrant Canadians — show Harper discriminates on the basis of race and nationality. Joe Volpe, the new immigration minister, told reporters later the ads show Harper and his Conservatives still don't understand the people who are recent Canadians, their communities, and their embrace of rights deemed basic to this country. "It demonstrates that they have a very poor understanding of the social-cultural dynamics of the country," Volpe said, arguing that communities of new Canadians are "mildly offended" by the ads that imply they are different or separate from the mainstream Canadian population. "That kind of patronizing, lack of understanding of how new Canadians have integrated in society will come forward."
Racial profiling? From a PM that flew al the way to Sir Lanka to campaign for the Tamil vote?

When the PM says "racial profiling" what he wants you to hear is racist. He does it by providing the definition "...
Harper discriminates on the basis of race and nationality." That sure looks like Harper is being called a racist. I guess that is not as bad as being called a supporter of child pornography.

The hypocrisy: if Harper were to say that the PM was racial profiling when he went to Sir Lanka or spoke to a fund raiser for Indians in Toronto, and followed it up with a comment about discriminating on the basis of race, it would be Harper who would be branded an intolerant racist. Martin says it, and it is Harper who will be branded as an intolerant racist.

-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/27/2005 02:51:00 PM TITLE: First the world championsips, now the Champion ----- BODY:
Another Canadian abandons his citizenship ... he is now an Australian ... blame it on health care.

One week after losing the right to hold the 2005 world aquatic championships, Canada has lost one of its best young swimmers.

Kurtis MacGillivary, 21, the Canadian 1,500-metre freestyle record holder who in recent years has soared up the world rankings, was granted citizenship Down Under yesterday and said he fully expects to make the powerhouse Australian team for this year's worlds -- "wherever that might be."

"Part of me will always be Canadian, but I had no choice," the Cambridge, Ont., native said from the Gold Coast in Australia. "Sport Canada cut off my funding [in the fall]; they said it was because I train down here."

MacGillivary said he can't understand such logic, especially when many Canadians -- including Olympic kayak champion Adam van Koeverden -- have had to train in other countries to reach the top.


-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/27/2005 02:32:00 PM TITLE: Good thing we bought those Subs ----- BODY:

Prime Minister Paul Martin confirmed Thursday that an upcoming foreign policy review will push for Canada to be more of a force on the global stage.

The Liberals have been working on the policy review for more than a year.

It is likely to be released before the federal budget comes down, most likely some time in February. Sources have said that it will also call for the army to become the pre-eminent force within the military, with the navy and air force playing less of a role.

-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/27/2005 02:08:00 PM TITLE: Get the scoop on Williams vs. Martin ----- BODY:
If you want the skinnyon the NFLD - Ottawa, off shore oil revenue dispute, watch Don Newman's Politics on CBC Newsworld tonight ...
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/27/2005 02:04:00 PM TITLE: The UN keeps talking and talking ----- BODY:
Over at the Diplomad ... More UNhonesty. Worth a look at the PR camapign that is the UN. I wrote a little about it here.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/27/2005 11:23:00 AM TITLE: Those seven seats in Nfld are starting to look good ----- BODY:
Danny Williams & Paul Martin will have another crack at the offshore oil deal on Friday. Williams has ordered his cabinet to cancel all appointments for the weekend and be on call to discuss a deal... good luck. How badly does Martin want those seven Nfld seats? Enough to ignore this?

I am going to see Williams speak at the Empire Club next week. Will it be Williams explaining the deal or will it be Williams calling Martin every profanity in the book? I am looking forward to it.

If there is a deal( and it looks like Nova Scotia is about to make a deal), I expect that the key will be what happens if Newfoundland enters into the realm of the "have" provinces and then finds itself slipping back into the "have nots".

Newfoundland is in a different place with regard to oil revenues than Nova Scotia. Exploration off the NS coast has turned up virtually nothing other than Sable gas. The companies have abandoned the province. Newfoundland has more gas than Sable off the coast of Labrador and the the technology is coming on line that will allow it to be developed. Hibernia is bigger than expected and the exploration in the basin between NF & NS has come back with positive results. Terra Nova is on stream and White Rose is proceeding. If it all comes on stream, the revenue is properly managed, and it is not all clawed back, Newfoundland could be able to get its financial house in order over the course of the next decade.




-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/27/2005 09:23:00 AM TITLE: Dresden, the Holocaust, and ----- BODY:
The Germans ... they just can't give it up ...

Germany is struggling to contain an embarrassing and potentially explosive debate on the Holocaust, just as it prepares to join other nations in commemorating the victims of Nazi aggression at Auschwitz.



The far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) provoked outrage on Friday by walking out of a minute's silence for Nazi victims and referring to Allied strikes on the German city of Dresden in 1945 as a "bombing holocaust."

Now the government, which failed in a previous attempt to ban the party, is under pressure to act, with opposition conservatives pushing for a rapid response.

Apparently, Dresden was a holocaust as well ... the second wrong therefore cancels out the first wrong .... or some such thing.

The problem it seems is coming from the East:

The debate comes at a time when some Germans, particularly in the depressed east, are questioning whether they should be made to feel responsible for atrocities committed over half a century ago.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, the first German leader with no personal memory of the war, said in a speech on Tuesday that Germans bore a "special responsibility" for the Holocaust.

But a survey published in Stern magazine on Wednesday suggested that a solid majority of Germans do not feel guilty.

In the survey, conducted by the Forsa institute, 74 percent of over 1,000 respondents said they did not believe Germans today needed to feel guilty for killings at Auschwitz, compared to 20 percent who said they should.

Should a kid today feel responsible for the holocaust? Excellent question. If he is talking about the historic wrongs done to Germany he cannot exclude the historic wrongs that have been carried out by the Germans. Then they have to be balanced. The Germans will always be found wanting.

As Daniel Goldhagen said when he was calling the Nazi camps at Auschwitz a symbol of "irredeemable evil''... the difference between the actions of the Nazis and other genocides was their intentionality. Even as the war was being lost a full wing of the German civil service kept up its work towards the final solution. It was systemic.

The Germans who do not feel guilty, rationalize it.
We are over our Nazi ways, it is our critics who are the Nazis: Israel is the new Nazi regime. America are the new fascists. Besides, look at what the Allies did in Dresden.

The reality of course is that the Poles, the French and just about all of the rest of Europe was complicit in the holocaust. They do not need to rationalize in quite the same way. They can just blame it on the Germans or, if that does not work, the Jews.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/26/2005 03:33:00 PM TITLE: Gomery, Gay Marriage and Spector. ----- BODY:
Some clarification on the Harper election call .... he wants the Governments lawyers to intervene at any court proceeding to support Gomery ... and if he does not then an election???

Norman Spector has been going crazy over the Gomery issue ... essentially he is pissed off with the proceedings, feeling that Dingwall & Kinsella were treated with kid gloves... He wants some simple questions asked, the best of which: Does he know anything about advertising firms voluntaring during elections with the understanding that they will get contacts after the fact? That pretty well sums it up, except for the money flowing back in way of donations to the Party. Oh yeah, and who gets access to the cash? Who got a pay-cheque or expenses paid by some wing of the Liberal Party? Chretien? Gagliano?

Oh well, it is off to Gay Marriage where Paul Martin keeps talking about the Notwithstanding Clause and reporters keep asking Harper about the Notwithstanding Clause.... oh yeah, there is that Liberal backbencher running around saying that the Notwithstanding Clause should be used.( Paging Randy White. Paging Randy White. You are being upstaged by a Liberal.)I'm sure that this is a tough issue for some Liberal backbenchers who know that their constituents are not exactly going to be thrilled with the new definition of marriage. However, Martin and Harper both know the same thing, their public opinion polls. I do not know what the polls are saying but I can speculate:
  1. Martin knows that he may lose some existing seats over the issue but he should shore up Toronto and make desperately needed gains in Quebec.
  2. Harper knows that there are already seats in play in Atlantic Canada and that their are gains in Ontario to be made. He is also betting that since the Bloc are going to be on the same side of the issue as the Liberals, that the gains are not going to be significant for the Liberals in Quebec.
Then we have the Law Profs. Some 130-140 of them have come to the same opinion on the protection of Gay Marriage. Strangely enough, some practicing lawyers have come to the opposite conclusion when retained by the Tories. Where were these champions of the Charter when the Liberals were limiting the individuals' freedom of expression during elections while protecting state speech? When are we going to get the opinion of the Arts community?

Gentlemen, Time! Give it up. There is no election on either of these issues. Paul Martin is not a defender of individual rights. Governments are the only group that can violate rights. If they were champions of rights then we would not need the Charter. Harper is not going to collapse the government over a court ousting Gomery. If Gomery goes the inquiry is going to continue even if it is delayed.

How about cutting taxes or doing something useful for a while?
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/26/2005 02:21:00 PM TITLE: Thinking about Gomery ----- BODY:
Thinking about what I posted here & here about the Gomery Commission, Chretien's motivations and Harpers election call, it occurred to me that I have not really commented on what caused the stir in the first place, Gomery's interviews with the press. I have indicated that the Chretien motion to have Gomery removed is at best a long shot. Gomery's comments are not of the nature to show real bias. But, the very fact that the comments were made, that a sitting judge in the evidence stage would give interviews and comments is pretty well unheard of. When I first heard it on the news I could not believe it. I figured he had to have more sense than that. I was wrong.

The sad thing is not that the comments will get Gomery kicked off the commission, because they won't, but because the Chretien gang have all the required fuel to burn the final report.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/26/2005 09:11:00 AM TITLE: Another Election Call ----- BODY:
Do not be surprised if Jean Chretien hauls all of the missing sponsorship contracts out of his back pocket when he testifies next month. Actually, you should be surprised. However, the conclusion being drawn by the Chretien legal team that Gomery's comments indicate a prejudgement of issue suggests an alternate conclusion to "there is money missing and the program was mismanaged". It seems only Chretien can see such a conclusion: (Globe & Mail)

"I'm coming to the same conclusion as [Auditor-General] Sheila Fraser that this was a government program which was run in a catastrophically bad way," (Gomery) told a newspaper in December.

When he was asked about the appropriateness of the remark the next day, he argued that he was simply confirming the findings of Ms. Fraser, and that he was amply qualified to do so after three months of hearings. And he relied on the commonsense proposition that he was merely stating the obvious: "Does anybody have a different opinion on that subject?"

Yes, Justice Gomery, someone does. His name is Jean Chrétien. And he doesn't like what he thinks you're about to say about him.

The Conservatives are playing the Chretien motion for what it is worth, attempting to link it to a lack of commitment by Prime Minister Martin to the Commission. Apparently he is willing to collapse the Parliament over the issue. (From the Toronto Star):
Jean Chrétien is attempting to force Justice John Gomery to step down as head of the inquiry into the biggest scandal ever to hit his Liberal government. And Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is attempting to blame Prime Minister Paul Martin for Chrétien's actions. Asked if he would be prepared to bring down Martin's minority government over the issue, the Conservative leader said, "We will consider all possibilities."
....
"We will not tolerate any attempt by the government, either through action or inaction, to see this inquiry fail to reach its conclusion," Harper told reporters at a Tory caucus meeting in Victoria.

He said he will seek the support of New Democrat Leader Jack Layton and Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe to ensure the Liberals avoid disruptions of the inquiry. Harper said Canadian voters would punish Paul Martin if he fails to keep his promise to get to the bottom of the $250-million spending fiasco.

Let's get this straight. Chretien has a legitimate interest in the outcome of the commission. Chretien is going to have to testify. It is in the realm of possibility that the commission will conclude political supporters were paid off with tax payer dollars and that some of those tax payer dollars made there way back to the Liberal Party in the way of donations. Chretien feels that Justice Gomery is biased, thus the motion to have Gomery removed. The motion will be heard by the Federal Court which will decide if Gomery stays or goes. If it is "stay" , then it is business as usual. If it is "goes", then the Conservatives will collapse the Parliament? What exactly will they be voting on? Will Harper put forth a motion that the court ordered removal of Justice Gomery be defied?

Harper is attempting to tie the legitimate (procedurally) motions before the courts to inaction by the PM.

If Gomery does go, it does not mean that the inquiry would go. It would mean that Gomery would be replaced and the inquiry would proceed. As reported in the Star, even Chretien's team concede this:
Despite those concerns, Scott said Chrétien has every intention of giving evidence at the investigation into the now-defunct program run by the Chrétien government between 1996 and 2002.
"He expects that he will testify," Scott told the Star. "If he (Gomery) will not recuse himself, then Mr. Chrétien will testify before the commissioner. If there's somebody else, he will testify before somebody else."

I guess in theory, the Liberals could use the removal of Gomery as an excuse to kill the inquiry, but there is little doubt that Canadians would use that as an excuse to kill the Liberals.

On Chretien's part, this is pure PR strategy. It seems unlikely that the motion will succeed, but the optics favour the former PM. Chretien's supporters have been running around Ottawa since the commission's inception telling anyone who would listen that Gomery was biased and that his appointment was evidence that Martin, et al were out to pin the whole thing of Chretien. When Gomery gave those interviews he gave Chretien the excuse he needed to bring a motion. Now, regardless of the outcome of the motion, Chretien can claim that the commission was stacked against him from the beginning. Chretien is fighting for his reputation, his legacy:
FREDERICTON -- Jean Chrétien always pretended to be too tough to care what was said about him, but the proud former prime minister was always sensitive to anyone judging his legacy. Even a real judge.

When Mr. Justice John Gomery was given a mandate to do just that, it was only a matter of time before they collided.

Mr. Chrétien hasn't yet written his memoirs, in part because he is waiting for a key chapter to be concluded. And the street fighter from Shawinigan has no intention of quietly letting someone, even a Quebec Superior Court judge, grab the pen and scribble all over his pages.

Mr. Chrétien's lawyers argue that Judge Gomery's comments in the media about the evidence before him suggest the judge may have already made up his mind on major aspects of the sponsorship scandal.

But his lawyers, led by David Scott, must know that seeking the recusal of a judge from an inquiry is a low-percentage shot, and Judge Gomery is likely to preside over the commission to the end.

Despite those long odds, there's another reason why Mr. Chrétien and his supporters would want to officially contest Judge Gomery's impartiality. The former prime minister isn't on trial for his life or his freedom, but for his reputation.

If Judge Gomery is going to write a critical chapter of Mr. Chrétien's tenure, they can at least question the fairness of the portrait.

On Harper's part, this is pure politics. He wants to tie a negative federal court decision to the PM. This may be a dangerous game, for his actions support the idea that the Commission is stacked against the Chretien gang.

For Martin the train wreck continues. He is faced with a whole series of divisive issues and now the one issue that cost him a majority is again raising controversy. He must, however look for the silver lining. Mr. Martin is also due to testify next month. If Chretien is successful, this could delay his testimony for some time, perhaps even until after the next election. If the Federal Court rejects the motion, then Martin will have met the Harper test.

For the Liberal Party, the Commission is like a cancer. Every morning you wake up and it is there, it can be cured but it may kill you. Any claim by the Party or its MPs that they were unaware of the shenanigans are dubious at best. They chose not to know. And that is the most damning thing. As reported in today's Globe:
It's true that Mr. Chrétien and his staunch supporters have always hated the Gomery commission -- from its very existence to its expansive scope -- and have never forgiven Paul Martin for calling it. Even yesterday, one senior Chrétienite said bitterly it's the stupidest decision that Mr. Martin has made, and "an albatross around this party's neck."
True, but it was Chretien who passed the albatross on to Martin.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/25/2005 09:32:00 PM TITLE: A citizen is first a citizen, not a Muslim. ----- BODY:
Over at LGF - American citizens who are Muslims may be subject to fingerprinting upon return from the Mecca pilgrimage. Of course, at LGF they do not see a problem with this (after all these Americans are Muslims), however, at a fundamental level, you cannot have two classes of citizens. If these were non-Americans coming from Saudi Arabia, there is no problem with fingerprinting. A state owes its obligations to its citizens; non-citizens get privileges.

Thus, if the US were to decide that all Americans who visit certain countries will be subject to fingerprinting or subject to random fingerprinting, I doubt that there is much reason to complain. In the same manner, if the Americans in question are on a legal watch list, then fingerprint away. However, picking out the Arabs and treating them as a different class of citizen does not even pass the smell test.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/25/2005 04:25:00 PM TITLE: Chretien to seek removal of Gomery ----- BODY:
The Former PM is seeking to have Gomery removed for bias or for referring to Chretien as "small-town cheap":

One of Chretien's lawyers confirmed that they have begun steps to formally ask that Gomery step aside. They accuse him of losing his objectivity and making conclusions before all the evidence is heard.

At issue are pre-Christmas Media interviews Gomery gave. In one, he called Chretien's use of promotional golf balls embossed with his signature, "small-town cheap."

He also referred to Chuck Guite - the bureaucrat who ran the sponsorship program and who now faces criminal charges - as a "charming scamp" who was impossible to dislike.

David Scott, Chretien's lead counsel, called the comments "highly inappropriate."

"They raise serious issues as to the fairness and objectivity of the process now underway," Scott said in papers filed with the commission Tuesday.

"It is respectfully submitted that the Honourable John Gomery ought to recuse himself as commissioner of the inquiry."

Of course this move by Chretien is not motivated by this:

Chrétien supported expenditures, inquiry hears

Former Canada Post executive said Ouellet told him PM wanted programs
OTTAWA -- André Ouellet claimed to have government support -- and sometimes the personal backing of Jean Chrétien -- for some of the projects he championed as board chairman at Canada Post, the federal sponsorship inquiry was told yesterday.

Georges Clermont, former president of the Crown corporation, pointed to one initiative in particular that saw Canada Post spend $50,000 on a coffee-table book of artistic photographs in 1998.

"Mr. Ouellet told me the PM wanted it," Mr. Clermont testified at the inquiry headed by Mr. Justice John Gomery.

He acknowledged that he never checked directly with the Prime Minister's Office, so he had no firsthand knowledge of Mr. Chrétien's wishes.

But Mr. Clermont insisted it wasn't the only time Mr. Ouellet suggested to him that he had high-level backing. "He often talked about speaking to the PM."

On other occasions, Mr. Clermont said, Mr. Ouellet would tell him he had approval for projects from "the shareholder" -- a euphemism for the federal government in its role as owner of Canada Post.

Documents tabled at the inquiry indicate that the post office bought 1,000 copies of the coffee-table book entitled Le Chant de l'Eau.

Mr. Ouellet had a personal hand in the project in more ways than one. He wrote the foreword to the book, copies of which were to be given away by Canada Post as corporate gifts.


or this:

Knew little of sponsorship program, Dion testifies
Ottawa — The former minister for national unity says he knew little about the federal sponsorship program and never got involved in doling out money under the scheme.

.....

He told a public inquiry Tuesday, however, that he never thought the program, which was created to fight Quebec separatism, was key to keeping the country together.

Mr. Dion has long maintained that nobody in Quebec ever abandoned separatist views just because of a government ad from Ottawa.

He repeated that view at the inquiry, which is probing how millions of federal dollars went to Liberal-friendly ad agencies and other middlemen for little or no work.

Later Tuesday, lawyers for former prime minister Jean Chrétien demanded that Justice John Gomery be removed as head of the inquiry

or this:

It's Chrétien who has a lot to answer for, not Gomery
...
Now, it's worrisome to see those reporters and others buying the anti-Gomery spin. Based on my experience in Ottawa, Judge Gomery will come under heavy fire if he exposes the systemic problems — bureaucratic and political — that produced the sponsorship mess.

The judge has been building toward the appearance of Mr. Chrétien, who — we've learned through strategic leaks — will argue that the sponsorship program was about saving Canada. If Judge Gomery is wise, he'll simply ask the former prime minister to explain his thinking, and use Paul Martin's appearance to explore the national unity benefits of funding comedy festivals and purchasing autographed golf balls.

With Mr. Chrétien, the challenge is to ascertain whether national unity was his real motivation. I'd like to hear why he would have entrusted the future of Canada to Chuck Guité — a “charming scamp,” perhaps, but also a mid-level official with no particular expertise in the Quebec file.

After the Parti Québécois victory in 1976, the Trudeau government established the Canadian Unity Information Office, headed by powerhouses such as Paul Tellier, Marc Lalonde and, eventually, Mr. Chrétien. Was the 1990s structure designed with Mr. Chrétien's chief of staff, Jean Pelletier, in mind?

I'd also like to know why sponsorship spending did not tail off as Quebec premier Lucien Bouchard's attention turned from sovereignty to the deficit — with a consequent drop in popularity. Surely, at some point it must have been obvious that there would not be another referendum.

As well, I'd like to know why Mr. Chrétien did not involve the Conservatives and the NDP in a common front of federalist forces — as was the case in 1980 and 1995.

And I'd like to know whether Mr. Chrétien's objectives included enticing Quebec Conservatives to cross the floor and defeating Bloc Québécois MPs in the 1997 and 2000 elections — even though the former were federalists and the latter had no power to call a referendum.

Finally, I'd like to hear Mr. Chrétien's reaction to pollster Alan Gregg's explanation of the sponsorship scandal (in a CBC broadcast):

“At the root you have a situation how political parties run their election advertising as they pull together a consortium of essential volunteers. They're either unpaid or if they're paid, they're paid significantly below market value. And at the end of a winning campaign . . . there's kind of a nudge, nudge, wink, wink, you know, we owe you one.”

In any event, Chretien is entitled to full legal representation. Having not seen the application to the Federal Court, it is hard to know exactly what the claims are based on. But is the press is accurate, then Chretien's application is facing an uphill battle.

The Chretien gang, however, understand the game, and if they cannot get Gomery tossed, they want to create doubt in the minds of the public as to the impartiality of the Inquiry. If Gomery can be intimidated, that is even better. If they can get Gomery to react when Chretien is testifying, it is better still.

At the end of the day Chretien is going to testify. He may or may not be forthright. His lawyers' goals are clear, vilify the judge and skate like crazy.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/25/2005 11:35:00 AM TITLE: The problem with the Jews..... ----- BODY:
Mark Steyn:
The old joke - that the Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz - gets truer every week.
Read the whole thing.

Update: Damian Penny has some news from Russia...

Update: Watching the Speech at the UN by Elie Wiesel, I noticed that the room was pretty well empty. The Globe & Mail picks up on that point:

But that ambiguity could just as easily be ascertained from Mr. Wiesel's podium at the UN General Assembly. As he spoke to the special session called to commemorate the liberation of Auschwitz, where 1.5 million were systematically murdered, he faced a room that was only half full.

After diplomats from the United States, Canada and other countries had aggressively pushed to have the 60th anniversary of the liberation marked with a special session of the UN, they managed to get 138 of the UN's 191 members to agree — the first time a majority of nations had agreed to acknowledge the Holocaust, or any other manifestation of anti-Semitism, on such a level.

….

Among Muslim countries, Jordan and Afghanistan were prominently visible, but most were absent. The Jordanian Foreign Minister was the only Arab leader to speak, and part of his speech was devoted to suggesting that the Nazi oppression of Jews is comparable to Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

Again, you should read the whole thing, but here's another teaser:

In New York yesterday, author Elie Wiesel, one of a dwindling number of survivors of the Nazi death camps, was delivering the first major speech the United Nations had ever agreed to hear in commemoration of the deaths of six million Jews. His hopeful words were tempered by what he described as "the silence and indifference of the world" through most of the past 60 years.

"But the question is," he concluded, "will the world ever learn?"

At about the same moment, in the German city of Dresden, a dozen members of the far-right NPD party stormed out of the state legislature. They were refusing to recognize a moment of silence that was being held to mark the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp by Soviet troops on Jan. 27, 1945.

As that was taking place, 20 parliamentarians from right-wing and Communist parties in Russia were issuing a press release calling for "the prohibition in our country of all religious and ethnic Jewish organizations," on the grounds that Jews are unpatriotic and responsible for a number of social ills, including anti-Semitism.

The world, it seemed, has not entirely learned.



-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/25/2005 09:22:00 AM TITLE: Warning: Tidal Wave of Graft Heading For Indonesia ----- BODY:
Does that headline say "heading" ... should it not be "continuing":
Indonesia, one of the world's most graft-ridden nations, said it would publish a monthly list of aid donated for relief operations in Aceh province.

“We will announce every month, on the 26th, the money we receive,” Welfare Minister Alwi Shihab said. “We will list down all contributions and where it is going to avoid any suspicion (of graft).”

Wait a second...didn't Animal Farm have a list?

Small-scale graft has already been reported, with some soldiers and government officials charging relief agencies “administrative fees” to escort convoys of trucks in Aceh or to process tents and other equipment arriving at Jakarta's airport, aid workers say.

The UN is right. More foreign aid is what these soldiers and government officials need. As I have said before, money being monitored by the usual money launderers.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/24/2005 12:22:00 PM TITLE: Lack of Common Sense ----- BODY:
When Bush was in Ottawa he suggested to the PM re missile defence , that the US can only be expected to do so much for the defence of Canada only to find out that Canadians would do nothing to assist in their own defence:

"(Bush) leaned across the table and said: `I'm not taking this position, but some future president is going to say: Why are we paying to defend Canada?'" the Post said, quoting an unnamed Canadian official who was present for the discussion. According to this account, when senior Martin government figures tried to explain the difficulties of convincing Canadians it would be worthwhile for Ottawa to join the new defence system, Bush appeared astonished. Bush "waved his hands and remarked: `I don't understand this. Are you saying that if you got up and said this is necessary for the defence of Canada, it wouldn't be accepted?'" the Post quoted the Canadian official as saying.
Yes Mr. President, that is exactly what he is saying. One of the strongest strains of Canadian nationalism is anti-Americanism. A goodly portion of this country would rather act to their own detriment than assist the USA in any defence matter. We, if you will recall, have always been a country of peace and peacekeepers.

Update: More on this at Peaktalk

Update: Still more at Gods of the Copybook Headings
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/24/2005 09:57:00 AM TITLE: PR is for losers Part II ----- BODY:
Ah France ...another shining example of how the economy of a country governed by Proportional Representation works. Interest groups gian power well beyond proportion. Another shining example, French Perfume giant, Marionnaud is in desperate financial trouble but the unions will not allow the necessary cost sutting measures. If a company makes a bad decision it has to live with it forever or insolvency, whichever comes first.

Scents and sensibility
Jan 20th 2005 | HONG KONG AND PARIS
From The Economist print edition


Hutchison Whampoa is buying a troubled French perfume retailer

IT IS the end of a French success story. Twenty-one years ago Marcel Frydman launched Marionnaud after buying his first parfumerie in Montreuil. The firm became Europe's largest perfume chain, with 1,231 shops in 15 countries. Then last year it ran into difficulties, and Mr Frydman decided to seek a buyer. On January 14th, he found one. A.S. Watson, a manufacturing and retailing subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa, a Hong Kong-based conglomerate controlled by Li Ka-shing, struck a deal to buy Marionnaud.

....

Many of Marionnaud's subsidiaries outside France are leaking money. Only its Austrian operation makes healthy profits. Even at home, Marionnaud expanded too quickly. There are two or even three Marionnaud shops, often only a stone's throw apart, in some commercial streets in France. It would make sense to shut one in three Marionnaud shops in France, says Olivier de Combarieu of Fitch, a credit-rating agency—but the unions would fight it.

-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/24/2005 09:52:00 AM TITLE: David Suzuki ain't gonna like it ----- BODY:
From the Economist:

Greener than you thought
Jan 20th 2005
From The Economist print edition


Genetically modified sugar beet is good for the environment

THOUGH often conflated in the public mind, arguments against the planting of genetically modified (GM) crops fall into two distinct groups. One, which applies only to food crops, is that they might, for some as yet undemonstrated reason, be harmful to those who eat them. The other, which applies to them all, is that they might be bad for the environment.

Proponents of the technology counter that in at least some cases GM crops should actually be good for the environment. Crops that are modified to produce their own insecticides should require smaller applications of synthetic pesticides of the sort that Greens generally object to. But in the case of those modified to resist herbicides the argument is less clear-cut. If farmers do not have to worry about poisoning their own crops, environmentalists fear, they will be more gung-ho about killing the wild plants that sit at the bottom of the food chain and keep rural ecosystems going—or weeds, as they are more commonly known.

Research just published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society suggests, however, that it may be possible for all to have prizes. Get the dose and timing right and you can have a higher crop yield and a higher weed yield at the same time—and also use less herbicide.

The research was done at Broom's Barn Research Station in Suffolk, by a team led by Mike May, the head of the station's weeds group. The team was studying GM sugar beet. This was one of the species examined in the British government's Farm-Scale Evaluations (FSEs) project, a huge, three-year-long research programme designed to assess the effects (including the environmental effects) of herbicide use on GM crops.

The results for sugar beet, which competes badly with common weed species and thus relies heavily on the application of herbicides for its success, came in for particular criticism from environmentalists when the trials concluded in 2003. They indicated that fields planted with GM beet and treated with glyphosate, the herbicide against which the modification in question protects, had fewer weeds later in the season. These produced fewer seeds and thus led to reduced food supplies for birds. Some invertebrates, particularly insects, were also adversely affected.

The Broom's Barn researchers, however, felt that this problem might be overcome by changing the way the glyphosate was applied. They tried four different treatment “regimes”, which varied the timing and method of herbicide spraying, and compared them with conventional crop-management regimes such as those used in the FSEs.

The best results came from a single early-season application of glyphosate. This increased crop yields by 9% while enhancing weed-seed production up to sixteen-fold. And, as a bonus, it required 43% less herbicide than normal. Genetic modification, it seems, can be good for the environment, as well as for farmers' pockets.


-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/24/2005 09:36:00 AM TITLE: Shameless II ----- BODY:
The Star has a summary of the PM's Asian Trip here. It is worth a read. Apparently the purpose was unclear to the press and it probably is to Canadians. I happen to think that it is clear... The PM wanted to show himself as a player in foreign affairs and not just pandering to the USA. Then a tidal wave hits, so he gets a chance to go pandering for votes in the "ravaged" countries. At the end of the day, this trip had only political reasons, no policy reasons.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/24/2005 08:47:00 AM TITLE: Free Vote? Part II ----- BODY:
The PM has made the vote on gay marriage a free vote for back-benchers but his cabinet must tow the line .... then he threatens to go to the polls over the issue. The effect then is Liberals voting against the Bill will be voting to bring down their own government in an alleged free vote? Makes so little sense that the PM backed away from it rather quickly.

In the interim, the Conservatives have been hardening their position while at the same time saying that their MPs have a free vote on the issue: In the CPC newsletter, the Conservative Courier:
Stephen Harper has indicated that he is committed to a free vote on the government’s legislation that changes the definition of marriage and his proposed amendments to the legislation. These amendments will recognize the traditional definition of marriage without detracting from the rights and benefits of same-sex relationships and will provide protections for religious institutions. Prime Minister Martin is now threatening his MPs with an election on the issue. In response, Mr. Harper issued the following statement: “I find Mr. Martin’s statement difficult to understand. While he promised that the upcoming vote will be free for his backbenchers, he now appears to be threatening them with an election should they vote against his legislation. I thought Mr. Martin had an agenda that he was planning to legislate, but if he wants to call an election on this issue, so be it. I am confident that our position on this issue is supported by a majority of Canadians.”

Mr. Harper is right that the PM's position is all over the place, but he is willing to fight an election over a position that his MPs are not necessarily going to support? Win the election with a amndat for traditional marriage and cannot get the Bill passed through the House? Are you confused.

UPDATE: Apparently Harper is flying on his own with the advertising campaign against gay marriage. The Globe & Mai l also reports:

Mr. Harper, for his part, appeared likely to face questions from his own caucus after it emerged that he aired a series of anti-gay-marriage ads without consulting either the caucus or deputy leader Peter MacKay.

The ads ran in English and French, even though the same-sex issue is widely deemed to be a non-starter for the Tories in Quebec.





-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/22/2005 10:01:00 PM TITLE: Clarkson weaves a tangled web - Part III ----- BODY:
My question over who paid for the GG's "official" business trip / vacation to France has apparently been answered:
GG PAID OWN WAY TO EUROPE
Toronto Sun
Of course the answer poses the question of why the GG is paying when she is on an official trip that prevents her from returning for the funeral of Alberta's LG.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/22/2005 08:55:00 PM TITLE: Where stop means go and go means stop ----- BODY:
The United Nations has it all under control and the Indonesia want the foreign troops out ... unless they are really going to go.

The US announced that it "would begin immediately transferring responsibility for relief operations to the 'appropriate host nations and international organizations '."... Not so fast there Yankee ... perhaps it is time to admit that we cannot do it without you:

Globe & Mail, Jan.22, 2005
Not so fast, aid groups tell U.S. over tsunami pullout
Banda Aceh, Indonesia — Aid groups warned Friday that it may be too soon for the U.S. military to scale back its emergency operations for Asia's tsunami victims, while an informal ceasefire between Indonesian troops and rebels appeared to have collapsed, threatening to derail relief efforts.

Following a U.S. announcement on Thursday that U.S. forces would begin immediately transferring responsibility for relief operations to the “appropriate host nations and international organizations,” some aid groups expressed concern that the move came too quickly, as tens of thousands of survivors from the Dec. 26 tsunami that struck a dozen nations still need food aid and shelter.

Tallies of the dead from the disaster have varied widely, from about 158,000 to 221,000.

“"My gut feeling is that no, the civilian side isn't ready to take over",” said Aine Fay, Indonesia director for the Irish aid group Concern. "“The American military, the military hardware has been so useful."

“"I'm a bit taken aback that they're thinking of withdrawing it already."

Speaking in Bangkok, the UN special co-ordinator for tsunami relief, Margareta Wahlstrom, said she hopes the military will not leave immediately, because the relief operations depend on its “resources and machinery.”

She added, however, that “in a number of weeks to a month the military will be able to phase out and (the operation) be supported by an entirely civilian infrastructure.”

Can't believe your eyes? The UN admitting that the US did a good job and are necessary? It does not last:

She added, however, that “in a number of weeks to a month the military will be able to phase out and (the operation) be supported by an entirely civilian infrastructure.”
....
Ms. Wahlstrom praised the military contributions of several nations, saying that India and Singapore were the first to deploy ships with medical teams. U.S. helicopters had been crucial in transporting personnel, and now French and Japanese helicopters have been taking over that responsibility from them.

I did not realize that they French actually managed to get a helicopter to the area ...wait a minute, I do recall the one helicopter they had for transporting dignitaries.

Indonesian officials said last week that all foreign troops should be out of their country by March 26, but they later backed away from that deadline. On Friday, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono reiterated that the date was not hard and fast.

Everyone out! Nothing to see here. We have it all under control... except the relief operations part... so when we say get out what we really mean is stay.. so go and take them Australians with you ...where are you going? Remember, when we say go we mean stay, so go ..go now.

More than 11,000 U.S. Navy, Marine, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard personnel backed by 16 U.S. Navy ships are involved in providing relief support in the tsunami's aftermath, according to the U.S. Defence Department. Since the operation began, they have delivered more than 8,600 tonnes of relief supplies to the affected region.
That is impressive.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/22/2005 07:05:00 PM TITLE: Paul Martin Train Wreck, Part III ----- BODY:
What a trip it has been. Around the world in ...I don't know .... a week? The trolling for the Tamil vote did not go exactly as planned for the PM who is now being openly criticized by the Tiger leadership for not visiting Tiger held Territory(also here).

Now The Star's Thomas Walkom is asking, "Refresh my memory. Exactly why is Paul Martin traipsing around Asia?" . You should read the whole thing, but here is a teaser:

Flip through the evening news channels. One night, you might find coverage of Martin in Thailand, viewing areas devastated by the recent tsunami.

A day or so later, he's in Sri Lanka, apparently to boost the morale of homesick Canadian troops, who arrived so recently that they've barely had time to unpack.

So you think: Okay, he's in Asia doing something about tsunami relief.

Then, whoops, he's in India having his same-sex marriage policies criticized by a senior Sikh religious figure.

Why's he in India? No one ever says exactly. Something to do with Martin's long-term plan to create an international group of not very powerful countries that would do ... that would do ... what?

The Indians seem equally puzzled. They are probably also wondering, like me, why Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh is meandering around their country on a separate tour.

But by this time, Martin is in Japan. ...
Not enough for you? Okay...here's some more:

.... But one result of Martin's constant gallivanting is that other crucial issues are left by the wayside.

For instance: During last summer's election campaign, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein mused that he might contravene the Canada Health Act, the law governing medicare,Martin was quick to respond then. "I will look Ralph Klein in the eye and I will say: `No,'" he vowed then.

Just 11 days ago, Klein announced again that he might contravene the Canada Health Act. However, Martin didn't look him in the eye and say no. He didn't say anything. How could he? He was readying himself for travel.

He was probably getting his shots.

-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/22/2005 06:23:00 PM TITLE: Breaking News from China on Individual Rights & Elections ----- BODY:
Extra! Extra! Hear all about it! Prime Minister in China vows to fight for minority rights! He claims he may even hold an election on the issue!
"It's not my intention to go to an election. We are there to govern. And I want to continue, we want to govern. But if the question ... is, am I ready to go to an election to support .... Rights against those who want to attack (them), the answer is absolutely yes."

Who would have thought that they would see the day?

UPDATE: There will be no election .... i guess it is just the same old commie governing for the people.



-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/22/2005 02:05:00 AM TITLE: Clarkson weaves a tangled web - Part II ----- BODY:
As posted here, if the Governor General missed out on the funeral of Alberta's Lieutenant-Governor, Lois Hole, and the reason appears to be the Clarkson/Saul vacation.

The Globe & Mail now reports that the deception is pretty much as reported:

Ms. Clarkson had said she could not attend because she promised Prime Minister Paul Martin that she would represent Canada at the Ukrainian inauguration -- an event originally timed for Tuesday, the same day as the memorial, then rescheduled for this Sunday.

But her office confirmed yesterday that Ms. Clarkson accepted that obligation in Kiev only after arriving in Paris on a personal holiday with husband John Ralston Saul, two days after Ms. Hole's death.

Some Albertans who originally cried foul at Ms. Clarkson's "snub" now say they feel deceived.

.....

Alberta Conservative MP John Williams ....

"I find this quite disgraceful," he said.

Misinformation coming out of Ottawa over the past few days suggests to Albertans that Ms. Clarkson did everything she could to avoid attending the memorial service, Mr. Williams said.


At least there is no more talk of the official visit with the Queen. Again I pose the question, on whose dime are the Canadian Royals traveling? Are they picking up the tab for their "vacation" or, because of all the official business, are the tax payers holding the bill?

Of course, not all agree with the deception theory:

As an Albertan, Troy Steele said he was angered that Canada's Governor-General didn't attend Ms. Hole's memorial services, but at the same time, the chairman of the northern Alberta chapter of the Monarchist League of Canada also gives Ms. Clarkson the benefit of the doubt.

"I'm very sad that she wasn't there, but I buy the fact that she couldn't [make it]," said Mr. Steele, who suggested that people in charge of her itinerary have her best interests in mind.

"If the Governor-General could have made it back here, does any sane human think she wouldn't have come back? Is this the kind of person who would duck out from the most popular lieutenant-governor in Alberta's history?"


Yes Mr. Steele, you have to be insane to think that Ms. Clarkson & Ms. Saul choose a holiday in Gay Paris over a funeral in the hinterland ... The GG only visits the hinterland if she is allowed to bring along at least 30 of her friends, first class. Is Clarkson the "kind of person who would duck out from the most popular Lieutenant-Governor in Alberta's history"? Apparently yes. And with the lamest of excuses.

Monarchist League? Grow up.
-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/21/2005 07:50:00 PM TITLE: A Personal Letter from Ralph Goodale ----- BODY:
Actually, it is a form letter in response to the form letter that was sent to him via the "Fair Deal for Newfoundland" campaign started by Kevin McCann (who happens to be the youngest brother of Sean McCann of Great Big Sea fame). Here's the letter:

Thank you for taking the time to bring your views to our attention.

Let me assure you that the Prime Minister and I fully agree that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as Nova Scotia, should receive greater benefits from offshore resources in recognition of the unique fiscal challenges faced by these provinces.

As you know, Newfoundland and Labrador signed the Atlantic Accord in 1985 which allowed it (and not the Government of Canada) to set royalties on offshore resources and to collect 100 per cent of these revenues as if they were on land.
Newfoundland and Labrador has argued that it is currently not the principal beneficiary of these offshore oil and gas revenues because, as these revenues flow into provincial accounts, there is a corresponding reduction in Equalization payments from the Government of Canada. (This is how the Equalization formula normally operates everywhere in Canada.)

However, it is important to note that the existing Accord includes certain extra payments to Newfoundland and Labrador that help to offset the reduction in Equalization that would naturally occur as a result of increases in provincial revenues.

Since the start of offshore production in 1999-2000, the value of Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore revenues (up to and including 2003-2004) was $429 million. Existing provisions under Equalization and the Atlantic Accord have resulted in offset payments of $466 million over that same period, more than compensating the province for declines related to offshore revenues.

The Government of Canada is nevertheless fully aware that under these existing arrangements the protection that Newfoundland and Labrador receives is scheduled to begin declining in 2004-05 and the offset will be lower than 100 percent between now and the end of the offset provisions in the Atlantic Accord in 2012.

This is why the Prime Minister made his "100-per-cent" commitment to Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia last June.
The Government of Canada's offer entirely honours the commitment made by the Prime Minister by guaranteeing that:
  • Newfoundland and Labrador will continue to receive 100 percent of revenues from its offshore oil and gas production, no matter what the price of oil;
  • Newfoundland and Labrador will receive 100 percent protection from any Equalization reductions caused by those same revenues for at least the duration of the existing offset provisions of the Atlantic Accord; and
  • all existing offset benefits within the Accord will be 100 percent respected should Newfoundland and Labrador get to the point of no longer qualifying for Equalization.
The Government of Canada stands ready to work out any remaining details to reach an agreement that is consistent with the Prime Minister's commitment, fully protects the offshore resource revenues of the province, and is fair to all Canadians.

That being said, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador's request for Equalization offset payments to continue even after the province no longer qualifies for Equalization goes well beyond the Prime Minister's commitment.

It is also inconsistent with Premier Williams' declaration that "once we get to the equalization standard, we are saying we don't want any more equalization. All we want after that, forever, is 100 per cent of our provincial revenues, no different to Alberta or anyone else".

I can assure you that the Government of Canada appreciates the importance of what is at stake for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Both Minister Efford and I look forward to continuing discussions in good faith with representatives of Newfoundland and Labrador to arrive at a fair and honourable solution.

Yours sincerely,

Ralph Goodale

Hey, I got it right. The issue can be negotiated but make no mistake, what Williams wants is a continuing offset that will allow oil revenues to carry outside of equalization. That said, who wouldn't want it? If he can pull it off then good for him.

If the Feds had adopted what is in this letter as their opening position, things may have stayed on track. The question for Newfoundland is what happens if the province reaches the equalization standard and the slips back below the standard? If they agree that the offset will stop at the point of becoming a have province it assumes that the province will always be a have province. That is a big assumption. Look at BC, a have province whose socialist ways saw it become have not for a while and is now about to become, yet again, a have province.

Newfoundland would be remiss if the did not address this issue in any deal.



-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/20/2005 10:38:00 AM TITLE: A380 Update ----- BODY:
I asked what would come first, the airport infrastructure of the planes. Instapundit is providing an answer (via David Janes):

SOMEBODY ASK JAN EGELAND WHAT HE THINKS ABOUT THIS:

TSUNAMI-struck Thailand has been told by the European Commission that it must buy six A380 Airbus aircraft if it wants to escape the tariffs against its fishing industry.

While millions of Europeans are sending aid to Thailand to help its recovery, trade authorities in Brussels are demanding that Thai Airlines, its national carrier, pays £1.3 billion to buy its double-decker aircraft.

The demand will come as a deep embarrassment to Peter Mandelson, the trade commissioner, whose officials started the negotiation before the disaster struck Thailand - killing tens of thousands of people and damaging its economy.

While aid workers from across Europe are helping to rebuild Thai livelihoods, trade officials in Brussels are concluding a jets-for-prawns deal, which they had hoped to announce next month.

As the world’s largest producer of prawns, Thailand has become so efficient that its wares are half the price of those caught by Norway, the main producer of prawns for the EU.

Norway. Home of Jan Egeland. If you ask me, this sounds rather . . . stingy.

The EU, in an effort to indirectly subsidize their heavily subsidized farmers, have essentially made it impossible for developing countries to feed their people with genetically modified foods. Now they are offering their airline the indirect subsidy of forcing developing countries to buy the A380 if they want to be able to export their food. Nice.


-------- AUTHOR: Little Tobacco DATE: 1/20/2005 10:29:00 AM TITLE: Free Vote? ----- BODY:
I was under the understanding that the Conservative Party of Canada had no real position on the gay marriage issue... I saw one of their pundits on Don Newman's Politics saying just that. The CPC was going to have a free vote for its MPs. So why now are the CPC running ads against gay marriage?

Tories launch anti-gay marriage ad

The Conservative Party, meanwhile, is against the bill and has launched a print advertising campaign on the subject.

Copies of the ad were supplied to media outlets on Wednesday.

The ad asks Canadians to send the Tories a reply on whether they support gay marriage.

With block letters reading: "Where do you draw the line", the print ads show a picture of Mr. Martin with a caption saying he intends to impose gay marriage on Canadians and a photo of Mr. Harper saying he believes in traditional marriage.

"Frankly, we think a clear majority of Canadians support the compromise I put forward, including a lot of people who vote Liberal and traditionally don't vote for this party," Mr. Harper said following a speech to the local chamber of commerce in Quebec City.

The campaign will target Canadian ethnic groups. During Mr. Martin's trip to India on Tuesday, he was forced to defend the Liberals on the domestic issue of same-sex marriage after a top Sikh religious leader there came out strongly against gay unions

I see... the ads are for the Sikhs ... but that still leaves me uncertain. Is the Leaders position, that the Parliament should decide, the actual position of the Party? Or is it that the Leaders postion, the compromise suggested above, in fact the Party position?

Clearly the Conservatives have decided to abandon the urban vote for the rural vote and the Ontario 905s. In the long term, this may be a bad strategy. In the short term it may be a strong strategy. Only time and an election will tell.


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