Monday, January 31, 2005

Big News Day Tomorrow

Today was a little light on news, but don't expect the same tomorrow. The Liberals will introduce same sex legislation and Justice Gomery will announce whether or not he will remain in charge of the sponsorship inquiry.

Stay tuned, should be interesting.

After Offshore, Ontario Wants Their Piece Too

The predictable aftermath of the offshore oil flap has begun. Greg Sorbara, Ontario's finance minister, has demanded $4.8 Billion of the 2004-'05 Federal Surplus.

Currently, Ontario contributes $23B more to Ottawa that it gets back. Ontario is the engine of the Canadian economy and, in the view of many residents, it's an engine that doesn't get the respect it deserves. Sorbara has previously complained that he is tired of the Feds racking up huge surpluses on Ontario's back while the province is mired in a fiscal emergency.

"The Canadian fiscal system has got some very serious cracks in it and those cracks must be addressed and must be repaired. The system is very badly skewed ... I think lopsided is a fair description," he said.
The $4.8B figure is based on the fact that Ontario is responsible for 40% of the nation's GDP. Sorbara has argued that they are, therefore, entitled to 40% of the $12B, or $4.8B.

Provincial and Territorial Finance Ministers are meeting in Ottawa today.

In just over a year in office the Prime Minister has all but institutionalized regionalism. His deal with the Atlantic Provinces is only the latest in a stream divisive acts, from the Health Care Summit to failure to adequately handle trade disputes with the US. Paul Martin's offshore energy deal may have ended his flap with Danny Williams, but it will become an albatross over the coming months and years.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Why Gay Marriage is Important

Parliament returns from their winter vacation this week and the first item on the agenda will be Same Sex Marriage. Initially thought to be a slam dunk, the legislation has become a hot button issue in recent weeks as a coalition of right wing elements have risen to fight for traditional marriage. Led by Stephen Harper, these groups argue that legalizing gay marriage would destroy the moral fabric of society, opening the door to higher divorce rates, pornography and even polygamy. The simple fact is that they are ignoring the underlying issues at the heart of the debate and employ a series of arguments with dangerous implications for the future of our nation.

A recent article in the journal Human Genetics identifies three chromosomes which appear to control sexuality in men. Additionally, zoologists have long been aware of homosexual animals. There are even a pair of gay penguins at New York's Central Park Zoo which have been mates for more than six years. Opponents of same sex marriage have long argued that homosexuality was a lifestyle you "chose", something which increasingly appears to be untrue. If homosexuality is in fact a genetic mutation, and all indications are that it is, then persecuting gays not only opens a dangerous door for the future, but harkens back to a dark period in the history of humanity. Only in the last century did we truly make progress in ending racism and already conservatives have found a new genetic difference upon which to base their persecution.

The conservative mantra also ignores the most important document in Canada. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms could not be more clear on this issue. Section fifteen clearly states: "Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination". Courts across the country have, in recent years, affirmed that section fifteen guarantees homosexuals are constitutionally guaranteed the right to wed.

Conservative leader Stephen Harper has claimed that he is the only tolerant Canadian politician on the issue of gay rights. He insists Prime Minister Martin and others are ignoring the beliefs of the public, putting the minority before the majority. Harper sites an internal Conservative poll which shows Canadians are against gay marriage; unfortunately, this goes against almost every independent poll ever taken on the issue. This past December, an Environics Research Group poll found that 54% of Canadians were in favour of passing same-sex legislation. What exactly was the methodology of his internal poll?

Harper and other right wing leaders have long suggested that the introduction of legalized gay marriage will lead to the destruction of 'traditional' families. They insist that changing the definition of marriage will open the door to legalizing all sorts of 'immoral' behaviours, polygamy in particular. What the right fails to acknowledge is the fundamental difference between polygamy and gay marriage. One is about granting equal rights to all citizens, the other suggests creating new rights for all. The two are polar opposites, yet the right claims they are closely linked. The only reason for doing so is to cloud the fact that their ideology is based on prejudice, discrimination and homophobia.

Conservatives' arguments against gay marriage are based almost entirely on morality. Such individuals are generally very religious, and often site their religious texts as the source of their moral outrage. This raises a simple question: are we a nation based on democracy, reason, law and order or are we a nation of fundamentalist zealots? Canada is supposed to have separation of church and state. In fact, our political leaders frequently speak out against fundamentalist nations, citing their intolerance and abuse of human rights. Do these same rules not apply to us? Is the foundation of our country the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or is it the bible?

The debate over gay marriage is far from over. The Knights of Columbus are in the process of sending out tens thousands of letters, American religious leaders are getting involved, and Stephen Harper is preparing for a valiant last stand in Commons. In these days to come, the opinion of the masses will be of growing import. It is vital for people to remember that the issue here is not what we believe in, but what is legal and what is right for the future. Do we want to have a society based on religion, intolerance and persecution of those who are different, or is our goal an inclusive society based on equality?

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Offshore Deal

Late last night Prime Minister Martin and the Atlantic Premiers reached a deal over the months long offshore energy row. The dispute stems from equalization payments and the new found oil reserves off the Atlantic coast. The energy resources should fall under the control of the Federal Government. The Premiers have been demanding that they not only get all the oil money, but also continue to receive their massive equalization payments.

Last night's deal essentially involved the Prime Minister caving in every regard. Newfoundland.

Here's how it worked before last night's deal: for every dollar Newfoundland and Nova Scotia earned in offshore-oil revenue, they lost a dollar in equalization payments. But then Ottawa sent a cheque a rebate cheque, in effect to give them 30 cents for each of those lost dollars.

Martin's promise was to bump that 30 cents up to one dollar. For Newfoundland that would mean about $134 million for the 2004-05 fiscal year; for Nova Scotia, about $30.5 million.
So, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia are going to keep getting paid as if they're a poor province, even after they are making tons of money from offshore oil. The deal runs eight years, and by the end of that time Newfoundland and Nova Scotia are likely to be two of the wealthier provinces in the country.

Paul Martin has caved completely in the face of pressure. Crumpled like a deck of cards under pressure from the Conservatives. Equalization payments serve a purpose - to help provinces in need of financial assistance. They are not tool for political favours and gamesmanship. As a citizen of Ontario, one who's tax dollars will now be going to Newfoundland under the pathetic pretext of 'equalization', I'm livid. And every Canadian should be as well.

It's Official, Campaign Promises Can Be Broken

Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Rouleau has ruled that politicians can break their campaign promises. In fact, he went a little further and suggested that anyone who believes otherwise is incredibly naive.

The ruling stems from a suit brought to court by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. The group is upset with Ontario's new health car premium, which they claim violates Premier McGuinty's promise not to raise taxes without the 'permission' of the electorate. The future premier signed a 'pledge' amidst much fanfare during the chaotic 2003 campaign. The president of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation was present at that signing ceremony.

Justice Rouleau pointed out that McGuinty is far from the first politician to break a campaign promise and suggested that it is up to the electorate, not the courts, to punish dishonest politicians.

Hopefully this will quiet the Taxpayers Federation for a while. Their banter has grown truly ridiculous is recent months. The Liberals inherited a $5.2 Billion deficit from the Conservatives, the fact that all they have done is introduce a new health care premium is remarkable. Further, the premium is not exactly steep. It only applies to individuals making over $20,000 per year, and the fee ranges from $60 to $900. This is a tiny fee, and when taken in comparison to the actions of other provinces suffering through fiscal difficulties it is obviously minor.

Why exactly the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has decided to make such a big deal about this is beyond me. What exactly they hope to gain is far from obvious. Do they want the Conservatives to return to power? Is John Tory the leader they want? A typical corporate hack who couldn't care less about the poor? Or are they going to back Howard Hampton's NDP, a party that doesn't have a hope of winning in the post-Rae era? Or are the simply having a hissy fit because they were lied to?

One thing, however, is certain -- the most frivolous lawsuit in the history of the province has been thrown out of court. About time.

Martin to Back Gomery

On Monday, lawyers representing Prime Minister Paul Martin's government will argue in support of Judge Gomery remaining in charge of the sponsorship hearings.

Jean Chretien earlier this week argued that Gomery should be removed from the inquiry because of biased statements made this past December. Opposition leader Stephen Harper had put pressure on Martin to defend the integrity of the inquiry.

However, the news that Martin will defend Gomery comes as new questions are raised about Gomery's choice of chief counsel, Bernard Roy. Alfonso Gagliano's lawyer has recently raised questions about Roy's ties to the Conservative Party. Roy served as principal secretary to Brian Mulroney from 1984-'88.

Sadly, recent events surrounding the players in the inquiry have taken the focus off of the facts of the case. The Liberals paid $250 Million for services which were of questionable worth. That is undisputed. Gagliano claims that the money was well spent, a critical part of keeping the Quebecois happy. Even so, this 'scandal' doesn't even compare to similar problems in other countries. The US has given billions of dollars worth of contracts to Dick Cheney's former company, much of it for work that was never done.

$250 Million for a program which some of its architects strongly support. This policy is being attacked by a party which opposes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, is in favour of two-tiered health care and is trying to foster a relationship with the American Republican party.

That makes sense, right? It's not just political gamesmanship, an attempt to bring down their opponents. The Conservatives are above that, right? Right?

Friday, January 28, 2005

Same Sex Marriage Will Pass

Prime Minister Paul Martin is certain his same sex marriage bill will pass, and dissidents within his own party seem to share the belief.

"I am very confident we will win that vote," Martin said at the end of a three-day caucus retreat in Fredericton — a meeting at which the same-sex marriage controversy was a simmering issue under all the displays of upbeat Liberal unity.

Opponents of same-sex marriage within the Liberal caucus are also quietly acknowledging they are resigned to almost inevitable success of the bill to recognize gay and lesbian marriage.
Liberal MP Paul Steckle, one of the dissidents' leaders, acknowledged that the battle was lost, but vowed to continue to fight.

Martin is able to pass the bill in spite of his own dissidents because of aid from the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois. While the Conservatives are almost unanimously against same sex marriage, the NDP and Bloc easily make up the difference.

Canada will soon join the legion of nations who have acknowledged civil rights for all -- not just a select group. We will join Denmark, Germany, Holland, and Sweden. We will become members of a community of nations who believe is fairness, equality and justice. We will be civilized. We will be at the forefront of the next great civil rights battle. We will be a beacon of light for our brethren to the South, lost in a sea of despair.

I Am...American?

Molson Inc. shareholders voted by an overwhelming margin to approve the proposed merger with American brewer Adolph Coors Co.

Class A shareholders approved the deal by 80.2% and Class B shareholders by 84.3%. The new beer giant would have annual sales in excess of $6 Billion US. Coors shareholders will vote on the merger next Tuesday in Colorado.

Molson was founded in 1786 by John Molson, who started the company in Montreal. The company employs over 3,800 people across the country. Molson is one of the longest operating companies in North America and the continent's oldest brand of beer.

So much for the "I Am Canadian" slogan.

And Yet Another Corrupt Journalist

On the same day that President Bush ordered his Cabinet Secretaries to stop paying journalists to promote his policies, uncovered yet another journalist on the government's payroll.

Michael McManus, a syndicated ethics columnist, was paid to endorse Bush's plan to protect the 'sanctity of marriage' by the Department of Health and Human Services.

No Pundit Left Behind!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Remembering Auschwitz

Sixty years ago today, one of the greatest tragedies in the history of humanity came to a close. On Jan. 27, 1945 Soviet Troops liberated the Auschwitz and the neighbouring Brezinka camp. A million and a half people had perished at the two camps.

Auschwitz survivors from around the world returned to Poland to commemorate the occasion. Political dignitaries from around the world were in attendance, most notably Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia, Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland and Moshe Katsav of Israel. German President Horst Koehler was also in attendance, but was silent throughout the ceremony in recognition of his nation's role in the disaster.

Canada was represented by Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson.

Ealier in the day, US VP Dick Cheney commented that the tragedy hadn't happened in some far off place, but rather "in the heart of the civilized world."

Are the Americans the ones who really want to be reminding the world of the fact that so-called 'civilized' nations are capable of evil too? The country which is about to name an Attorney-General who believes in torture and thinks the Geneva Conventions are 'quaint'? A country which went to war and killed 100,000 innocent Iraqis without thought? A country which has repeatedly tried to overthrow the government of Venezuela? A country which sexually abused prisoners at Gitmo?

Thanks Dick, I hadn't realized that civilized countries could go bad.

Global Warming Worse Than Previously Thought

A new study led by an Oxford University Professor has discovered that the Global Warming problem is twice as bad as previously believed. Researchers from across Britain used computer simulations to discover that under a 'worst case scenario' London would be underwater and the average global temperature would shoot up by 11 degrees Celsius.

The 11C rise is twice the increase predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change. Such high temperatures would melt most of the polar ice caps and glaciers, increasing sea levels by approximately 20 feet.

David Stainforth of Oxford University, the chief scientist of the latest study, said the results of the study indicate that the planet is more vulnerable to temperature changes than previously believed. Global warming estimates generally envision a time when CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere reach twice the levels seen before the Industrial Revolution. It is generally believed that the planet will reach those levels some time in the middle of this century.

Mr Stainforth said: "An 11C-warmed world would be a dramatically different world... There would be large areas at higher latitudes that could be up to 20C warmer than today. The UK would be at the high end of these changes. It is possible that even present levels of greenhouse gases maintained for long periods may lead to dangerous climate change... When you start to look at these temperatures, I get very worried indeed."
When studies like this are being released on a monthly basis, the continued resistance of world leaders to take action is preposterous. Conservatives across the world demand more research and question the impact of environmental laws on the economy. Which is more important, jobs or human existence?

"Myles Allen, of Oxford University, said: "The danger zone is not something we're going to reach in the middle of the century; we're in it now." Each of the hottest 15 years on record have been since 1980."

Surgery Shutdown Feb. 11

Ontario's anesthesiologists will be walking off the job February 11th, according to a report published in The Star this morning.

The doctors are protesting the government's program for shortening wait lists and the snail-like pace in contract negotiations with the government. The walk out will require the cancellation of all elective surgeries at the seventeen targeted hospitals on the 11th.

The 'reason' for the walkout is to allow the doctors to participate in a day long contract negotiations meeting in Toronto.

"This isn't a job action," Dr. Geraint Lewis, chair of the anesthesiologists section of the OMA, said yesterday. "This is a business meeting to discuss business issues."
However, the Star uncovered an email which suggests the complete opposite.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of surgeries across the province will have to be cancelled if the walkout goes through.

Last Minute Deal?

Three meetings in seven days, the first real talks in almost a year, the first signs of progress since '94. The clock is seconds from midnight, the drop-dead date for any semblance of a season is almost certainly sometime this week, but we just might be able to squeak this one out.

Following up on last week's meetings initiated by NHLPA President Trevor Linden, the two parties met yesterday in Toronto. The owners were represented by Vice-President Bill Daly, Flames owner Harley Hotchkiss, outside counsel Bob Batterman and surprise guest Devils GM and CEO Lou Lamarillo. The players were represented by Linden, PA Senior Director Ted Saskin and outside counsel John McCambridge.

Lamarillo's presence was apparently requested by the players, who view the Devil's head huncho as one of the few executives who actually wants to make a deal.

There were also unconfirmed sightings of Penguins owner Mario Lemieux. The 'Magnificent One' had cancelled his appearance at the Bob Hope Charity Classic Golf tournament, citing a 'meeting' in Toronto.

Specifics from the meeting are sketchy at best, as both sides have imposed a media blackout in the hope that a repeat of last week's debacle can be avoided. The media was told the meeting was taking place at the Sutton Place Hotel but was not allowed inside. However, the meeting actually took place a few blocks away at the Park Hyatt without the media ever catching wind.

Talks are set to resume either today or tomorrow in New York

Bush Confused About Social Security

According the TalkingPoints, President Bush has been down this road before. Running for Congress in 1978, George W. Bush predicted social security would be bankrupt within a decade. He also claimed the system should give people the opportunity to invest money in the way they feel is best.

The Texas Observer ran a story in 1999 recounting similar tales from the same failed Congressional run.

Bush criticized energy policy, federal land use policy, subsidized housing, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("a misuse of power," he said), and he warned that Social Security would go bust in ten years unless people were given a chance to invest the money themselves.
The President of the United States has been lying for two and a half decades. Social security is not going to go bankrupt, it is, rather, one of the most vital social programs in the US.

He didn't fool the people of Texas twenty-seven years ago, don't let him fool you now. Find out what you can do to save social security.

Seymour Hersh Predicts the Collapse of an Empire

Famed reporter Seymour Hersh seems to be growing more and more fearful for the future. Hersh recently delivered a speech on the nomination of Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales, criticizing the government for it's role in torture from Gitmo to Abu Gharib and Vietnam.

Hersh took direct aim at the neocons, naming nobody in particular, but referring to them in extremely strong language, all but comparing them to fascist dictators:

The amazing thing is we are been taken over basically by a cult, eight or nine neo-conservatives have somehow grabbed the government. Just how and why and how they did it so efficiently, will have to wait for much later historians and better documentation than we have now, but they managed to overcome the bureaucracy and the Congress, and the press, with the greatest of ease. It does say something about how fragile our Democracy is.
Hersh cited the recent CIA purges as a specific example of the neocons' power. This purge was a topic of great discussion in blogosphere, but was largely ignored in the mainstream media:

What they have done is neutralize the C.I.A. because there were people there inside -- the real goal of what Goss has done was not attack the operational people, but the intelligence people. There were people -- serious senior analysts who disagree with the White House, with Cheney, basically, that's what I mean by White House, and Rumsfeld on a lot of issues, as somebody said, the goal in the last month has been to separate the apostates from the true believers.
Hersh's prediction for the future is rather bleak. The man who uncovered Abu Gharib, has won countless awards and is one of the most respected journalists in the world, is predicting the collapse of the American Empire:

It's going to go very bad, folks. You know, if you have not sold your stocks and bought property in Italy, you better do it quick. And the third thing is Europe -- Europe is not going to tolerate us much longer. The rage there is enormous. I'm talking about our old-fashioned allies. We could see something there, collective action against us. Certainly, nobody -- it's going to be an awful lot of dancing on our graves as the dollar goes bad and everybody stops buying our bonds, our credit -- our -- we're spending $2 billion a day to float the debt, and one of these days, the Japanese and the Russians, everybody is going to start buying oil in Euros instead of dollars. We're going to see enormous panic here. But he could get through that. That will be another year, and the damage he's going to do between then and now is enormous. We're going to have some very bad months ahead.
Even though Hersh is not the greatest orator, it is a phenomenal speech, full of passion and intelligence. Read the transcript, judge for yourself.

Hacking the Vote in Ohio

The following entry is taken directly from a Kos diary entry by Jamboi. The second part is from an email, it contains numerous spelling errors but is left in it's original form.

The following story was mistakenly posted to a recount mailing list Sunday Jan 9th 2005. The poster did not intend to release it to the mailing list but was working on two e-mails simultaneously and switched the title and destination. So instead of sending it to an MSM outlet with the hopes they might cover it (don't hold your breath) it was sent to the list. Perhaps a fortunate mistake.
I saw the subject line and wondered what it was about (since the subject was so irrelevant to the e-mail list). I doubt many others looked at it due to the odd title. Upon opening I immediately recognized its significance and posted it here and my blog. I was contacted by "Bozos for Bush"/"Bozos Rnot4 Bush" and together we verified the story and passed it to Larisa Alexandrovna at RawStory. Larisa investigated it and took it several layers deeper. The result is the subject of my other DK diary today, today's breaking RawStory about Ohio Election Fraud.

Larisa instructed me to delete the DK and myDD entries to protect the witness. Now that the story has broken, here it is again...

"I Know the vote was hacked..." Ohio Recounter

Based upon my observations as an Ohio recount witness for John Kerry in Clermont County, Ohio I do not accept the validity of the electoral votes from Ohio. Clermont County used a ballot system where voters blackened circles next to the candidate they selected. The ballots were then scanned by a machine to determine the vote tallies for all races.
I know the vote was hacked, since I witnessed the following problems during the recount:

1.) Board of Elections (BOE) selected there own 3% hand count sample, not conforming to any scientifically valid sampling procedure. The hand count sample deviated from the official machine count. The BOE attempted to offset differences in overvotes and undervotes from 1 precinct to another, but it still would not balance. Although Ohio state law requires a 100% hand recount if machine and hand counts do not match, the director of the BOE refused us a 100% recount and deemed any difference immaterial.

2.) Unique oval-shaped white stickers were placed over the circles next to candidate Kerry's name and the circles next to Bush's name were blackened. The BOE staff and officials all denied any knowledge of how the stickers came to adhere to the ballots, although they were identical to stickers used to identify switches and knobs located on the ballot scanning machines at the board of elections. When the ballots were scanned the machine registered a vote for Bush. The effect of the stickers was to change an overvote to a vote for Bush, or a vote for Kerry into a vote for Bush depending on whether the voter or an official blackened the circle for Bush. When this anomaly was discovered by the witnesses the BOE insisted on counting the ballot for Bush.

3.) I discovered non-security keys for ballot boxes lying around the BOE scanning rooms. I repeat, the keys were just lying around. At one point, Director Bare came in asking if anyone had a key for the ballot boxes. In another instance a worker announced she found her key. The locks for the ballot boxes were Master 1.5 inch key locks. All ballot boxes were identically keyed. The keys resembled a mailbox key, and they were not security keys, nor were they labeled "do not duplicate." Any BOE employee, county employee or witness for any one of 4 political parties could have taken a key and made a copy at anytime. Also, another Kerry witness stated ballot boxes were not in compliance Ohio state code.

4.) I observed a ballot box with 678 ballots in a precinct, Union Township E, with 1190 votes for president. The BOE Director explained this anomaly as resulting because a different ballot box had 522 ballots for a 3 column zoning referendum. Yes, the number of ballot box pages balanced, but that still did not account for 1190 votes for president. When I queried the BOE employees, Director Bare screamed at me for continuing to ask questions about a precinct with ballot pages equaling number of votes for president. Director Bare refused to acknowledge this anomaly and threatened to remove me from the BOE premises if I mentioned the subject again. Since, I was the only Kerry witness present that day, I stopped for fear of leaving Kerry without a witness.

5.) Ralph Nadar's Name appeared on the ballot, although Ralph Nadar was not running for president in the state of Ohio. Director Bare explained this anomaly because he was told by the printing company he had insufficient time to reprint the ballot. Bare later said he was concerned that the county "would have no ballots for the election. We thought that leaving Nader's name on the ballot was less of a problem." A worker at the Board of Elections told us that Clermont County was "first in line at the printing company, and Dan didn't want to lose that place in line."

(Witness' name removed)

While these claims by no means indicate there was any 'hacking' of the vote, they only add to the mountain of evidence which indicates there is a critical need for an in depth examination into the 2004 vote and all future votes in the US. Unfortunately, such a study would be impossible without a Democratic Congress and, should accusations of a 'hacked vote' be accurate, we will likely never see one again.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Record US Budget Deficit

The White House projects this year's buget deficit will reach a record $427 Billion. This comes on the heels of news that the Chinese now own a third of the current account deficit.

That's good for the US economy, right?

Gomery Update

Last night saw a flurry of activity with the Gomer Inquiry. Former Prime Minister Chretien filed a motion to have Mr Gomery recuse himself from the trial, citing 'biased' comments made by the veteran judge. In response, opposition leader Stephen Harper implied Prime Minister Martin was behind the moved and warned Mr. Martin not to interfere in the case. Mr. Martin then replied by saying he could not comment on his predessesor's legal challenge.

For once in his political career, it appears as though Mr. Harper is acting in a reasonable fashion. The Canadian public has lost an incredible amount of faith in their politicians. Not only the Liberals -- although they are the cause of it -- but politicians from all parties and all walks of life. Judy Sgro's strippergate and pizzagate, the sponsorship scandal and now the gay marriage farce have all damaged the long held view of our politicians being above the fray.

If they are to ever win back our trust and our faith, they must not be allowed to sweep past transgressions under the table. Rather, they must come forth in all honesty and admit their faults and promise to do better in the future. Jean Chretien was a phenomenal Prime Minister, regardless of his role in the Sponsorship Scandal. He kept this country out of Iraq, defeated the seperatists, defeated right-wing extremists, presided over a strong economy, and built a solid global image for our nation. Even heroes must be allowed some flaws, and if Mr. Chretien's government squandered $200 Million I can forgive him for it -- and I am sure the rest of the Canadian public can as well. What we cannot, and will not, forgive if an aura deceit and obfuscation from our leaders.

Another Journalist on the White House Payroll

I appears as though yet another journalist was on the White House Payroll. Syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher was paid $21,500 by the Department of Health and Human Service to promote Bush's tax cuts. The Washington Post will run a story on it in their morning edition.

What happened to freedom of the press? Given the press's involvement in the lead-up to the Iraq War, the help in getting Bush re-elected and their pathetic coverage of his regime, how can we not think that dozens of other reporters were on the payroll? How can we ever trust anything they tell us again?

Blogs are the only source of truth left to the public. If only they knew it...

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

No on Gonzales

Today, I am joining the call initiated by Kos, joining the chorus of bloggers from across the world voicing their dismay at Bush's selection of Alberto Gonzales for Attorney-General.

The Attorney-General is supposed to defend the US Constitution, to ensure it is protected against all assaults. Mr. Gonzales has spent a lifetime attacking that document, and during the last few years has extended his attack to international agreements as well. Mr. Gonzales referred to the Geneva Conventions as "quaint", he has suggested that the President is not bound by the Constitution and drafted a document which all but condoned torture.

This is not a man who will protect the Constitution, this is a man who will attempt to destroy it. The United States was once the pride of the Western World, the birthplace of freedom, a beacn of hope for people all over the world. John Ashcroft has done enough damage to that image, do not let Alberto Gonzales finish the job.

Liberal Dissidents

Next week's vote on the gay marriage issue will be an open vote, only cabinet ministers will be required to tow the party line. Today, Liberal dissidents launched a last ditch effort to ensure gays are deprieved of the civil liberties. They held a closed door meeting with the Liberal caucus, desperately trying to convince their colleagues to join with them in their homophobic protest vote.

Ontario MP Paul Steckle even had the audacity to claim that the bill would be defeated if Cabinet members were not required to vote with the party. A gay rights website which has been following the vote claims that there are currently 153 in favour of the bill, 134 against and 20 undecided.

The people need to speak out, to let the Liberals know we will not tolerate hate, racism, homophobia, intolerance, un-justified war or the militarization of space. Go to the Liberal convention in March and reclaim our party.

Harper Claims He is Tolerant

Apparently Stephen Harper thinks Canadians are stupid. Shortly after beginning an ad campaign attacking the Liberals for supporting gay marriage, the Conservative leader is claiming he is Canada's most tolerant leader on gay rights. In an interview with the National Post, Harper also dismissed concerns from anti-racism groups and those within his own party whom are concerned the move could alienate voters.

Mr. Harper claims he is the only political leader taking into consideration how other minority groups feel about gay marriage. Such a pathetic attempt to gain the moral high ground cannot be tolerated by the Canadian government, nor by the media and the people. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is quite clear on this matter. That document is the basis of our nation, not the bible, not the torrah, not the koran. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Former leadership candidates Peter McKay and Belinda Stronach have spoken openly against the ads, claiming they would not have run them. However, Mr. Harper and his supporters claim that the move is a win-win situation which divides the Liberal caucus. Harper's detractors within the party are concerned the Conservatives may see a repeat of the '04 election flop. On the cusp of victory, the party crumbled in the face of Liberal ads which painted them as extremist. Given that the courts of the nation have already ruled on the matter, the party certainly seems vulnerable to such criticism.

It is time to call the Conservatives what they are: liars, extremists, homophobes, Republicans.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Martin Willing to Go to the Polls Over Gay Marriage

Paul Martin is going to stand up for fairness, for equality, for dignity and for human rights. Speaking during his Asian Economic tour, Prime Minister Martin stated his willingness to call a new election and let the people decide whether or not Canada should legalize gay marriage.

"If you're are asking me am I ready to go into an election to uphold the Charter of Rights against those who would attack it? The answer is certainly yes," Martin said Friday.
In recent weeks, Opposition leader Stephen Harper has been on a religious crusade, airing commercials and speaking out against gay marriage. Harper has purposefully ignored the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Supreme Court rulings and the fact that half the provinces have already legalized gay marriage. Instead, he speaks of family values, tradition and the erosion of decency. Despite this thinly veiled rhetoric, the simple fact of the matter is that all the obfuscation in the world Mr. Harper cannot hide the fact that he is arguing against the enforcement of Canadian law.

This is not Texas, nor is it Kansas, Kentucky or any other bible belt state. Nor are we a fundamentalist nation of zealots. Canada is a socially progressive nation, a fact its citizens are proud of. Mr. Harper is trying to change that, trying to ally our great nation with the American south. Trying to replace the Charter of Rights and Freedoms with the Book of Leviticus.

He must be stopped and, for once, Mr. Martin is on the right side of a critical battle.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Black Thursday Roundup

Yesterday was a sad day for humanity. Bush and his cronies spent $40 Million celebrating his victory and another four years of his glorious rule. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Tsunami victims are homeless, the Iraq War is going worse than ever, the deficit is still out of control and the greenback has hit a new all time low. FDR cancelled his festivities in '44, why is Bush celebrating this debacle?

The latest jibjab video is out, and needless to say it's hilarious. A fitting jab at Bush, and a great day to release it. link

Bush's speech was all about exporting 'freedom' to the entire world. It went so well in Iraq, why stop now right?

Bush's speech also included a ridiculous number of hidden biblical messages. I'm surprised he wasn't thumping his bible while delivering it.

Despite the fact that the mainstream press all but ignored it, there was a large protest in DC yesterday. Maybe there is some hope after all.

Obama '08?

A little bright spot after the doom and gloom recap of Bush's inauguration. Yesterday, Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune wrote an article explaining why he believes rising star Barrack Obama will run for President in 2008.

Barrack Obama is the rising star of the Democratic Party, if not US Politics as a whole. A child of mixed heritage, Obama was educated in Indonesia, Hawaii and at Columbia and Harvard. He delivered one of the most rousing speeches in recent memory at the Democratic Convention this past summer and won his US Senate race by nearly sixty points.

The United States is current mired in one of the worst Presidencies in the history of the country. The Democratic Party has consistently suffered electoral failures for nearly a decade. The time has come for a change. The time has come for new blood. The time has come for Barrack Obama.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Black Thursday

This is a dark day for our civilization. Much more on this tomorrow, I'm just too depressed to write anything right now.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Calgary's Bishop Re-opens the Gay Marrirage Debate

The pre-eminent Catholic in Calgary, Bishop Fred Henry, has launched an aggressive assault on the government's plan to legalize gay marriage. Despite the fact that the Supreme Court has rule it unconstitutional for homosexuals to be deprieved of the right to wed, the Catholic Church is unwilling to allow the issue to go ahead without a fight.

Bishop Henry recently sent an inflamatory letter to Calgary's Catholic, stating that "the State must use its coercive power to proscribe or curtail" homosexuality, adultery, prostitution and pornography "in the interests of the common good."

Ignoring the question of whether or not the Church even has the right to claim moral authority in light of their own recent sexual scandals, the fact remains that the Supreme Court has already ruled on this issue. This is no longer a question of whether or not the issue is morally acceptable, but rather which document is the basis of our nation - The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or the Bible?

Gay marriage has already been legalized in most of the country, and as of yet prostitution, pornography and other scourges of civilization have yet to overrun Toronto, Manitoba, or any other anywhere else for that matter. The very fact that Bishop Henry compares homosexuality to prostitution and adultery is likewise disheartening. The religious objection to homosexuality stems from the Book of Leviticus, a hate filled portion of the bible which also condemns dozens of other activities. A brilliant editorial in the Star last year pointed out several of the other ridiculous claims therein -- from stoning neighbours who do not attend church, to prohibitions on touching pig skin on sundays or eating shellfish.

So what is the basis of our nation. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the Bible? Are we reasoned human beings, or zealots?

Monday, January 17, 2005

Canadian Blog Awards

My Blahg deserves a big kudos for creating an innovative new system of recognition for Canadian blogs. The first (hopefully annual) Canadian Blog Awards were awarded today, with an Argentinian in Toronto collecting top honours. Congrats to all who won prizes, and a special thanks to My Blahg for coming up with an original idea.

Here's the complete list of award winners:

Best Blog - An Argentinean in Toronto
Best Liberal Blog - Peace, order and good government, eh?
Best Conservative Blog - Brock: On the attack
Best Group Blog - BlogsCanada: E-Group
Most Humourous Blog - Bacon and Eh's
Best Non-Political Blog - Bacon and Eh's
Best New Blog - Japnaam Singh
Best Blog Design - PolSpy

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity. But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free.

One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.

So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition. In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.

So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights.

The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. we must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" we can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Reverend Martin Luther King
"I Have a Dream"
Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.
August 28, 1963

Friday, January 14, 2005

Sgro to Resign

Immigration Minister Judy Sgro has finally decided to resign. This week, following in the aftermath of strippergate and accusations that a staffer was connected to terrorism, Mrs. Sgro was accused of offering citizenship in exchange for help with her re-election campaign in June. The Liberal Party first became aware of the accusations last year, but dismissed them after Sgro's aides swore they were running a clean campaign.

Mrs. Sgro will be replaced by Eglinton-Lawrence MP Joe Volpe, a famed backroom power-broker. Lucienne Robiliard will take over Volpe's portfolio as Minister of Human Resources.

Sgro's latest troubles stem from a Toronto Star report which indicates she offered citizenship to a pizza store owner in return for his aid in her campaign -- namely free food and drinks for her campaign staff. Mrs. Sgro had already been under fire for starting an immigration program which fast tracked applications from strippers. The program has since been cancelled.

While Sgro has yet to be proven guilty, one certain fact is that she has dealt yet another black eye to her party. Prime Minister Martin assumed control of the Liberal Party promising to clean up their public image, but in the past year we have seen nothing of the sort. Accusations that Cabinet Ministers were members of the mob, Strippergate, the Gomery inquiry and more. The Liberal Party is reeling, god help us all if they should fall and the Conservatives are left to pick up the pieces.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Missile Defense Nonsense

Outgoing US Ambassador Paul Celluci has re-opened the BMD can of worms. Today's Star contains an inflammatory post from the lame duck Ambassador:

Cellucci, who is scheduled to leave his post this spring, said he expects the issue will be resolved before he returns to the United States.

"We've been told that it will be dealt with over the next couple of months," he said during a brief conversation.

Asked if, based on his discussions, he anticipates that Canada will take part in the controversial missile shield, Cellucci replied: "Yes."

The simple fact of the matter is that Canadians want no part of this program. Beyond the fact that it simply does not work -- not even with tests rigged for success -- it will inevitably lead to the militarization of space. The fact that bush and his corporate cronies are interested in this preposterous idea should not in any way influence our decision on whether or not to join in the plan.

The time has come for Canadians to speak out against any joint effort in BMD. Write you MP, the PM, the editor of your local paper. Write whomever you can, we must stop the Liberals from joining in this farce of a plan.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Journalist on White House Payroll

Well now we know why the media loves President Bush so much - he pays them to. Apparently, syndicated pundit Armstrong Williams was paid $240,000 US to support Bush's 'No Child Left Behind Act'. The story also comes right after an internal report condeming the Office of National Drug Control Policy for distributing commercials which were broadcast as news reports. The Department of Education was also found to be guilty of a similar offense, paying advertisers to produce items which were aired as news reports.

So much for freedom of the Press.

Read much more about this over at Kos

Friday, January 07, 2005

Taking Down Comments

I'm taking comments offline, had a few problems with offensive comments and on blogspot I can't do much about them. For the time being I just think it's best to take them down.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Back from Holidays

Back from my holidays, the snowboarding was great although it did get a bit cold around New Years.

Expect more updates in the next few days.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all.

Please, celebrate this holiday by helping some who are not enjoying a festive New Year. The Tsunami death toll is now over 130,000, and they are in desperate need of help.

Red Cross

Help those who can't help themselves.