This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The American Way

Well, talk about conflicted. There is the United States of America on the cusp of electing a new chief executive. And there is the rest of the world, on tenterhooks of suspense. What will the result be? Rather, who will triumph, becoming the winning contender, ascend to the presidency of the United States. Much depends upon the outcome.

Of course, regardless of whom it is the electorate chooses in the final analysis to elevate, to bring into the White House, there will be an outcome no one can really foresee. If it is to be Senator McCain, the Republican choice, it will not necessarily result in a direct continuation of the last eight years. One shudders to think, however that it might.

If it is to be Barack Obama, a biracial American of great perceived promise as a new kind of leader, one who may present as a racial balm to a troubled country, a man with a social conscience far to the left of John McCain's whose own isn't entirely absent, the world will look upon that country as through a completely new lens of possibility.

A conciliator, he promises to be. One who extends the patience of offering to discuss matters with adversaries rather than to march into battle as the first line of offence. He has lived a privileged life, but he also knows how the underclass lives, and the middle class, and he promises to represent their interests first and foremost.

It remains to be seen whether, in 21st Century America, in great corporate America, that can be done. He is promising great things for his country's people, a leavening of its wealth to benefit all, a universal health system, opportunities for the country's youth for a better tomorrow on the near horizon.

The welfare system, the education system, the health system will undergo radical alterations under his tenure, he promises. He will tax the wealthy and the corporations, pull out of Iraq, and make big government waste a thing of the past. Sounds good, sounds very good. That alone should ensure he has more than sufficient votes to succeed.

His powers of persuasion have become legendary, in so short a time. People throng to hear him, to see him in person. He belabours his adversary for the position of chief executive, as representative of the same tired old discredited governing that has brought the United States to its current parlous economic and social decline.

He's right, of course. And is it solely his righteous declarations of trust, hope and charity that have gained him so many adherents, so many faithful among the electorate? Give a thought to the stupendous sums of money his campaign has been able to raise. Hundreds of millions of campaign dollars.

He has, in essence, been successful in raising, independent of public coffers, unlike his opponent, twice what John McCain is receiving. And he has, and is using those funds to good effect. His massive bombardments of campaign advertising and his hiring of public relations companies to create a skillful and powerfully engaging thrust in public confidence has gained him much.

He has earned the trust of countless supporters who work unstintingly to support his campaign, as fervent volunteers. There's a fever of accomplishment abroad in the land. The world looks on in amazement. Much, in truth, will have been gained, if the country votes to approve the ascent of a man who self-identifies as a black American.

Still, there's a niggling bit of discomfort in there. He may, in fact, prove himself to be as capable as he has led the electorate to believe. He may, in fact, produce an excellent administration, capable of steering his country in an entirely fresh and internationally useful direction.

Yet, apart from his social agenda, and his charismatic ability to arouse people and earn their support, he will have, by and large, bought the election. The United States is a great democracy, it is true. But it takes huge sums of money to make that democracy work through its elections process.

And Barack Obama has undoubtedly spent more money than any other single candidate for high office, before him. How does that square?

Labels: ,

The Executive Position

Amazing what self-confidence can accomplish. A serene personality, an unflappable demeanor, an aristocratic bearing, and a patient character. So unlike most people. It's often been said that unintelligent people can appear otherwise, if they merely listen, and say nothing. Their silence is taken as a token of their intelligence. They withhold their counsel, as wise men often do.

People who are good listeners, who permit others to have their say, unburden themselves of the weight of their thoughts, are able by that very act to impress people, to earn their respect and their loyalty. One or two choice words, can earn them great credibility. Timing is critical, choice of words imperative to render maximum effect.

Of course highly intelligent people are also capable of presenting themselves in the very same way. It's up to the listener to determine the depth of the character, personality and intelligence being presented, to accurately assess, to separate the dissembler from the astute and knowledgeable presenter.

So it's a bit of a crap shoot, and what else is new. In that sense, it resembles much else in life. First impressions are important, and one builds upon that. In the beginning there was the word. And from the word sprang a great anticipation. An overwhelming exhilaration overtook the people, and they viewed their man as the candidate.

A political saviour, if you will, to bring the populace out of the shadow of the valley of uncertainty, of self-doubt, of fear of the future. Hope. That's a powerful word. Trust. That too. Change. That can promise anything one construes it to represent. Hope, trust and change. Or you can alter the sequence of the words, to suit yourself.

Much can be inferred. And in so doing, it launches a frenzy of expectations. Responding to the zeitgeist of the time.


The Mindsets of Lunacy

There are many around the world wishing Barack Obama well in his efforts to outstrip John McCain in the general election as chief executive of the United States. Among whom are those carefully withholding their cheers in the certain knowledge that were they to publicly express their support for Senator Obama they could very well scuttle his chances for success, now looming so large.

"O God, humiliate Bush and his party, O Lord of the Worlds, degrade and defy him" was the message from a top al-Qaeda commander, delivering a sermon from that seat of high command, in the mountain hideouts between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Fanatic Islamists have been praying to Allah for some time. to deliver them from the scourge of the Bush White House.

Can one blame them? There they are, innocently tending to the business of upholding their divine obligations to the Lord of the Worlds, when suddenly the wrath of Hell descends upon them, through the overwhelmingly superior forces and modern weaponry of the spawn of Satan; the armies of the United States and its debased allies.

That they dared to advance their cause to strip the Muslim world of its hallowed assets, the fossil fuels that God in His great wisdom allocated to His people is beyond contempt. That, in their pursuit of those gains, to subjugate and despoil Muslims of their rightful inheritance, they sought to destroy al-Qaeda, the warriors of Islam, the first line of defence of Islam, is their error.

For al-Qaeda, and all its associated Islamic Jihad militias will fight to the bitter end and destroy their enemy, the iniquitous Americans, along with their major ally, the State of Israel. So is it written, so it will be. For the world of the West, with its grotesque and decadent democratic values has launched a war against Islam.

Muslims everywhere see themselves unspeakably victimized by the growing tide of Islamophobia. But the true and the just will fight to the very last man, the mujaheddin will strike at the heart of every Western country that dares to interfere in its divine business, obeying the words and the example of the Divine Prophet.

In their defence they claim that we slaughter thousands of innocent people, among them primarily our own, Muslims, people of the Faith. What do they know? These are those who claim to serve Allah, but they are false; it is our duty to strike them down. They claim that our courageous martyrs kill innocents, but there are no innocent infidels.

Our armies of believers, our brave and mighty jihad warriors will continue to march on Asia, on Africa, on Europe. They will steadily continue to infiltrate the inner confines of trust in North America and Europe, to position themselves carefully for that time when they can safely reveal themselves, and prepare to assume responsibility.

Those countless Muslims who cower in terror at our plans for the Ummah are as locusts to growing fields of wheat ready for harvest; they are a scourge, unfit to be thought of as true Muslims. They fear us and our aspirations, but when the Caliphate becomes reality and the infidel must live as slaves to our bidding, they will be proud.

Yes, the killing of innocents is condemned by the Koran, but Crusaders and those whom they represent are not innocent. Yes, suicide is forbidden by the Koran, but these missions are conceived to create a greater glory for Islam, and martyrdom is a blessing, one that has its great rewards, conducive to granting young men's desires.

The evil fanaticism of the West must be countered. Their slaughter of innocent Muslims must be redressed. Our righteously dedicated jihad will succeed in creating rivers of blood, in a universal fear of our ability to strike anywhere we wish, whenever we will it, serving up terror on a scale hitherto unrealized.

The western religious bigots who spurn and scorn our sacred beliefs and our hallowed symbols will pay, and pay dearly for their blighted, unreasoning arrogance.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Terror Recidivism

How, actually, to deal with sentencing people to long terms of imprisonment, knowing on the record that their criminal behaviour has become so ingrained, so deeply a part of their psyche through their deep belief that a higher order has instructed them to act as they do, that once no longer incarcerated they will turn again to their terrorist intent?

Imprisonment for people who have surrendered their humanity to the higher concept of fulfilling a theocratic command, becomes a hiatus in their search for fulfilment. They enter imprisonment and their hatred festers and grows, ensuring once they have paid their debt to the society they sought to harm, they will return remorselessly to their original purpose, doubly resolved.

People so immersed in the pathology of grievance that their beliefs are utterly impregnable. No amount of exposure to arguments that might belie the 'instructions' or interpretations of holy scripture they absorb will have any effect on them. They spurn all attempts at remediation, because their mental security in the belief of a holy spirit leading them to act on behalf of the greater good comforts them and confirms their instinct to strike.

Saudi Arabia has sought to give intensive anti-jihad instruction to terrorists in that country that they have identified and arrested. It most surely must be the humane thing to do, to attempt to counteract the effects of radicalism by re-introducing dedicated jihadists to the very hadiths that were used to convince them that Allah gave instruction to the faithful to attack and murder non-believers.

Yet it's that country's strict adherence to a fundamentalist strain of Islam that led in part to the situation now being faced across the world by Islamist jihadists determined to do their part to extend and enlarge the Ummah, to bring a universal caliphate as of yore to the larger world, under Sharia law. Their generous funding of madrassas from Pakistan to North America inspired the growth of violent jihad.

Perhaps that re-education coming from a strictly conforming Wahhabist form of Islam resonates with fundamentalist Muslims, who may allow themselves to be convinced and to relent in their determined onslaughts on Western and Muslim targets in the fulfilment of their jihadist threats. But those convicted in democratic countries of the West can be guaranteed to be incorrigible.

Rehabilitation is possible only when those attempting to reach the rational intelligence of a jihadist can persuade him that his violence isn't serving the cause of Islam. There is nothing rational in the passion of violent jihad. Is it likely that any source in the West would be successful in reaching a level of interior awareness attempting to rehabilitate a dedicated jihadist?

They can attain to their level of savage intent only by persuading themselves through the influence of those they trust, that their enemies are legion, intent on destroying them first, and they are, in any event, corrupt and inhuman. When their enmity can reach the fever pitch of roiling hatred by the example of Iran's supreme leader, the late Ayatollah Khomeini's describing of non-Muslims as fecal matter, the dehumanization ritual is complete.

Bearing in mind that young men and women don't become raving hate-monsters out of the ether. They become steeped in the legends of ancient religious animosities and warfare, connect to the figures whose memory is venerated as a champion of their religion. Aided and abetted by a deeply abiding cultural tradition that families treasure in raising their young.

Insuring their initial vulnerability to later indoctrination through religious parochial schools, by rogue clerics on the search for converts to violent jihad, and through myriad links on Internet sites.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Such Unwonted Humility....

Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams is well known for his bombastic, confrontational, aggressive style. He is no shrinking violet, charging into an issue of contention using all means fair and foul at his disposal. To argue his case with blistering confidence.

Not necessarily the merits of his case, since on the national scene, they've been entirely without merit, but to argue convincingly against common sense through the very physical force of his outrage. Common sense being that emoluments that are not entitled, rest in the arena of gratuitous over-spending.

But that's another story altogether. This story is about a premier who denies personal culpability in a sad and sorry medical scandal in his province of Newfoundland. Where incorrect cancer tests were implicated in the deaths of women given incorrect diagnoses and unrelated protocols.

Appearing before a commission of enquiry into the dreadful debacle, and speaking before breast cancer patients, Danny Williams revealed an entirely other side. "We sincerely apologize and take full responsibility", said he. Is that, perchance, the royal 'we'? We, that is he, apologizes with sincerity, taking, in the process, full responsibility?

Can we take that to mean that he did not care sufficiently to exert his authority over the matter to straighten it out while there was yet time, more overtly engaged in his strident accusations against the federal government of withholding 'entitlements' from his province, than to give care to the vulnerable and the ill people of his province?

Apparently not, for despite that he mea culpaed "We will never be able to give you back what you have lost" (assuredly so, for it isn't given to modern man to restore lives taken by neglect), his humble patronizing at the feet of his constituents' grievances appears to have worked wonderfully well in his favour.

"I can assure these people it was not deliberate", he said feelingly, speaking of their suffering. Mr. Williams emphasized to the commission that he should have been informed, should have been given more information than had been the case. Obviously, the fault lies elsewhere than with him.

His staff, he avowed, never informed him of the issue. It wasn't seen, simply put, as an issue of grave moment..."This was considered to be a non-issue at the time", he said. "That's not for one minute to downplay the seriousness and importance of improper testing on patients and its effects on their lives" he backtracked.

How decently accommodating the man presents himself. No longer characterizing the enquiry questioning as a witch-hunt, complaining about the inquisitory style of the commission's lawyer. A distinct and deliberate effort made to demonstrate contrition.

"The fact I was not notified about this, in hindsight, I find this to be disappointing", he claimed. And who is it who gives definite orders to his staff about when and how and with what he should be apprised to ensure he is on top of his game? His staff, it can be safely assumed, does his bidding.

He spoke of the 'overwhelming volume' of all manner of items that come through his office during the course of a year. One must allocate priorities, after all, mustn't one? A fine line, he added, between what must be given sufficient importance to be brought to his attention and what should not be.

So convincing are the oily declamations of innocent and good intent on his part that he has managed to convince a hitherto-critical spokesman for the Canadian Cancer Society. Who is now full of praise for the premier: "He seemed to be very sincere and very straightforward in all his answers to all the questions that were posed to him."

It was, obviously, the health authorities who were guilty of trivializing the situation, to minimize its impact on the public's opinion, not Danny Williams. What a wily politician it is who instinctively knows how to play people off.

Making sincere motions of personal responsibility on the one hand, while deftly apportioning blame elsewhere. A bravo performance.

Labels: , ,

Shame! My Country

For a societally-aware, developed country with a healthy balance sheet, a liberal democracy mindful of its responsibilities to its citizens and to the global continuum of human need, it's unfortunate that Canada appears to have lost its moral compass with respect to its continued support of an industry that has been positively linked to asbestos-related diseases.

In support of a long-time discredited industry in Quebec, Canada has chosen to surrender its wisdom to the narrow-minded intent of the asbestos industry to continue its harmful operations. It's harmful in the extreme to industry workers - Quebec has the distinction of having one of the highest rates of mesothelioma (asbestos-related cancer) in the world.

And it's beyond conscience that the Government of Canada would lend itself to the chrysotile asbestos industry's determination to continue exporting its deadly product around the world. Canada has strict safety laws in place respecting the use of asbestos, yet it sees nothing amiss in exporting this deadly material to emerging economies who exercise no caution in its use.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, and a whole host of other respected medical and research agencies have reached the unequivocal conclusion identifying chrysotile asbestos as a human carcinogen. Most technologically and scientifically advanced countries of the world either ban its use or have enacted strict restrictions on its use.

It's hard to get one's head around the fact that a mere $77-million profit to the Quebec asbestos mining industry can justify the exportation of a mineral known for its dire threats to human lives. Canada has consistently vetoed the addition of this type of asbestos to the Rotterdam Convention's Prior Informed Consent list.

At this year's gathering in Rome which was set to debate the issue, Canada's delegation vetoed a Swiss-led proposal to alter the ratification process to require a three-quarters majority to list a chemical rather than the current required "overwhelming majority" support. As matters stand, a mere handful of objectors can overrule a hundred others determined to list a dangerous chemical.

Canada is in such esteemed company as Russia, Iran, Zimbabwe, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, in opposing the listing of chrysotile asbestos. Russia, Zimbabwe and Iran mine the mineral, and see nothing amiss in sending it to countries looking for cheap materials to mix as a fire-resistant binder with cement. And Canada chooses to be in their company.

India, Pakistan, Vietnam and the Philippines opposed the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos on the Rotterdam list in Rome; they and a handful of other dissenters successfully have kept it unlisted. "Canada got others to do their dirty work for them. The first speakers were our biggest customers" according to NDP Member of Parliament, Pat Martin.

He was there as an independent observer, critical of his government's unforgivable stance on this matter. And he has quite personal knowledge of the critical nature of the product, having been exposed to it in his younger days. Canada also has another Parliamentarian, a Cabinet Minister, whose exposure to the asbestos as a young man has left him with incurable cancer.

But with all of that, including the condemnation of the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Medical Association, Canada remains adamant that countries not known for their concern about the fate of their asbestos workers, are capable of protecting them from the harmful effects of chrysotile asbestos.

And shame on us.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Denying The Past

The Government of Canada has succeeded in its determination to revoke citizenship from yet another Nazi collaborator, who settled in Canada as an immigrant, post WWII, without divulging his past activities. Had the man initially released the information to immigration authorities that he was involved in criminal activities, he would never have been permitted to emigrate to Canada, would never have been granted citizenship.

Canada's Federal Court has upheld the government's right to revoke the citizenship of Helmut Oberlander, a former Nazi collaborator, characterizing his wartime activities as "the very epitome of brutal", in a delicate understatement of comprehension. Mr. Oberlander was, in fact, attached to a unit of Einsatzkommando, special police task forces whose task it was to operate "mobile killing units".

Their dedication to their task in efficiently obliterating undesirables from the world of the living resulted in excess of two million people dying undeserved, untimely and horrible deaths. They were,for the most part, civilians who were of Jewish origin, along with Communists, Roma, political dissenters, and the mentally and physically disabled.

Mr. Oberlander has his supporters. He has lived quietly and as a superlative citizen in a small Ontario town for his 50 decades as a Canadian citizen, bringing no undue attention to his presence. His neighbours attest to his kindness, his very neighbourliness, an exemplary citizen. The German Canadian Congress has risen to his defence, that he was a young boy when the Germans entered his town in Ukraine.

They sought his help because of his language dexterity, speaking German, Russian and Ukrainian. He became that deadly unit's interpreter. Somewhat like, explained the national president of the German Canadian Congress, what currently obtains in Afghanistan with Canadian soldiers eliciting the assistance of indigenous interpreters.

Except that the presence of international and Canadian military in Afghanistan has the purpose of defending the indigenous population from the ravages of the Taliban. And interpreters working with Canadian military personnel do so willingly, knowing they can be murdered by the Taliban for their efforts on behalf of the foreign militia.

Mr. Oberlander, on the other hand, was a cog in the machinery of delivering organized death on a scale not seen in modern times.

He was fully cognizant, moving with and working alongside the Einsatzkommando that their vital work was comprised of exterminating living human beings. He was able to live with that inconvenient fact, made no attempt to remove himself from the scene of ongoing carnage, and sought afterward, like countless others, to leave that blemish on his character behind, to settle abroad and find a new life for himself.

Mr. Oberlander proved quite successful in building a new life for himself. His past took a very long time to catch up with him. In the interim, he was able to enjoy opportunities available to him in a different country that guaranteed those freedoms and opportunities. None of the millions of slaughtered in whose fate he had an oblique hand, had any such second chances.

Canada's government has every intention of making good on its obligation to make certain that the country is not a haven for those involved in massive dread atrocities against other human beings. Mr. Oberlander's revocation of citizenship now joins a list of others who, since 1977, have been similarly deprived of their comfortable anonymity.

It's unfortunate that he is elderly, and has established roots in Canada. It's time he was finally deported. Never too late to atone for unspeakable crimes.

Labels: , ,

How Fareth Women In a Male World

History tells us much about the struggle between the sexes, and nowhere does it tell us more than what has come down to posterity from the Isle of Lesbos through the poetry of Sappho, and again, through the legends of the fabled warrior queens, the Amazons who campaigned in the ancient world out of Turkey, thence to Greece. Their sole use for men was as temporary studs, capturing males in combat, holding them as sex slaves, releasing them and their male progeny, retaining the females.

One can only suppose this to have been a rebellion from long traditions of abuse by men in one society after another. Although the genders complement one another, each bringing to their union something completely unique, without which the other is unable to reproduce, the greater physical strength and energy and dexterity of the male leads him to the belief he is superior, and his anger lead him to violence.

Well, that's a gross overstatement of fact, since males and females alike are quite capable of living together in harmony, and raising their young together, and growing old in contentment with life, together. And it's an additional undeniable fact of life that there always have been and likely always will be men, or women, who detest one another, and can not and will not live in harmony.

It's also incontestable that in a contest of physical strength and endurance it's men who win the battle. And a corollary of that is the number of women who are murdered by their husbands or their male companions for any number of reasons, most of them relating to power. It's true that women can be as nasty and miserable to live with as men, but generally speaking the male's physical strength gives him the final violent advantage.

The result of which is that every day throughout the world in the news we hear of tragedies, reports of domestic violence resulting in untimely deaths. And then there are other types of occurrences with males delivering death to women, men unrelated to the women they murder, predators who prowl in society to isolate their victims. Added to that are the misogynists who believe women to be responsible for every misery that befalls males.

In one day's issue of a newspaper, stories abound of the sordid, gory incidents that take women's lives. From a young man murdering his wife, for reasons known or unknown to relatives; through a history of brutal aggression, or one of mental imbalance. And then there is the cultural, or institutionalized treatment of women and girls that victimizes them beyond human endurance.

In today's newspaper:

Mogadishu: Thousands of people gathered to witness 50 Somali men stone a woman to death after an Islamic court in the southern port of Kismayo found her guilty of adultery. Aisho Ibrahim Dhuhulow, who had been found guilty of extra-marital intercourse was buried in the ground up to her neck while the men pelted her head with rocks. "Our sister Aisho asked the Islamic Sharia court in Kismayo to be charged and punished for the crime she committed," local Islamist leader Sheikh Hayakallah told the crowd. "She admitted in front of the court to engaging in adulterous sexual intercourse. She was asked several times to review her confession but she stressed that she wanted Sharia law and the deserved punishment to apply."

Niamey, Niger: West African judges yesterday fined the state of Niger for failing to protect a woman sold into slavery at age 12. Adidjatou Mani Koraou, 24, was sold into slavery for the equivalent of $500, and over the next decade was forced to carry out domestic and agricultural work. She also lived as a sexual slave to her master, who already had four wives and seven other sex slaves. She lived in a state of submission, was subjected to regular beatings and sexual assaults.

Cairo: Sunni Islam's highest authority has approved a woman's right to fight back if her husband uses violence against her, Egypt's Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported. The declaration by Sheik Abdel Hamid al-Atrash, who heads Al-Azhar University's committee for fatwas or religious rulings, comes after similar rulings by religious leaders in Saudi Arabia and Turkey. "A wife has the legitimate right to hit her husband in order to defend herself."

Karachi: A 17-year-old Pakistani village girl was falsely accused of immorality and had dogs set on her as a punishment before she was shot dead, the girls' parents said. Gul Sher, father of the girl, Tasleem Solangi, demanded justice for the killing of his daughter after he said a council in their village in the southern province of Sindh falsely accused her of having sex with a man. But Mr. Sher said his daughter was killed because of a land dispute with relatives. Traditional tribal codes still hold sway in many backward, conservative parts of Pakistan and they often stipulate brutal punishment and death for women deemed to have acted immorally, besmirching the honour of their family or tribe.

Labels: , ,

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Moral Choice

When the Conservative Government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided months ago that Canada would not attend the second annual World Conference on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, to take place in Geneva in early 2009, it was with the memory of the Durban, South Africa first such conference - which erupted into a sordid hate-fest against Israel - in mind.

He made the decision at that time that Canada would have no part in attending a quasi-serious-international-conference of that ilk, which he termed an "anti-Semitic and anti-Western hate fest". It would not be Canada's intention, or in the best interests of the country, to give validation to a miserable and squalid campaign of hate under the guise of concern for human rights by lowering Canada's own standards of decency to attend.

The calibre of the organizing committee, reflecting countries of the world renowned for their casual rejection of human rights, (example: Libya, Pakistan, Iran and Cuba) gave ample forewarning of what could be anticipated at "Durban 2". That once again, despite assurances from the United Nations that there would be no repeat of the - in their words - "virulent anti-Semitic behaviour" of the past, an identical agenda would be revealed.

And sure enough, that's precisely what has occurred, made manifest in a preliminary draft; the ritual dehumanization of Israel as an evil occupying power usurping territory, and terrorizing hapless Palestinians, institutionalizing a national system of official apartheid. Along with the perverse denunciation of the Western industrialized countries for their egregious "Islamophobia", reflected in their response to violently bloody attacks by jihadists.

Obviously, as stated by Canada's Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity, Jason Kenney, "This is clearly an effort by certain interests and certain countries to use every available organ of the United Nations to play the same tune. It's getting tiresome." And exquisitely absurd, that a collective of totalitarian states stand together as a cabal in proud condemnation of Western liberal democracies.

Canada stands alone in its non-participatory, non-recognition stance with respect to Durban 2, thus far. The troubling thing for most fair-minded Canadians is that while initially the country's two other major political parties supported the decision of Prime Minister Harper to withdraw Canada from this fictive human-rights supporting conference, they've had second thoughts on the matter.

A contender for the leadership of the Liberal party, Dominic LeBlanc, feels that the governing party is demonstrating "a pattern of disrespect ... for the multilateral process", while an NDP spokesperson insists support for a Canadian delegation at Durban 2 is required. Unsurprisingly, opinion has come forward from two Canadian NGOs, the Ontario Federation of Labour and the Canadian Arab Federation.

Both would have it that the government's decision should be reversed. Mohamed Boudjenane, executive director of the Canadian Arab Federation, claims that "certain pro-Israel organizations" go "too far" in their support of a boycott. "If you're not there", he insists, "who will make sure that voice is there? Who will make sure to bring balance to the debate". Balance...consider the source.

Logical enough under most circumstances where neutrality and rational intelligence are the order of the day. Considering the pre-determined agenda and the insistence of the committee that it will once again bring its mendacious grievances to the light of day, there is little point, other than to lend ourselves to the process through our presence, to the organizing committee's agenda.

"Canada, under the Liberals, went to Durban 1, stayed there, tried to participate and we failed completely to change the outcome. I think most people would agree that our presence and participation, if anything, simply legitimized the process. When you look at this stuff, who's organizing the conference, how it's being organized, when you look at what actually happened at Durban 1, it's almost best to simply ignore this," explained Jason Kenney.

That's a pretty neat summation. Speaking volumes about the lack of ethical concern, the bankrupt moral position of Canada's opposing political parties.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Extraordinary Times

One can only suppose that throughout human history people have felt they're living in extraordinary times. In a sense, that's likely correct, since events are always occurring, natural and man-made, that surprise us and provide us with more than enough trials and tribulations to keep us busy trying to circumvent the harm they do to us. There's a limit to what humankind can do to fend off cataclysmic natural events that cause upheavals leading to mass human migration, and stress on the environment.

And, it would seem, there's also a limit to what humankind can do to defend itself from the relentless, ongoing onslaught from other humans who seem to feel that their destiny is to create other types of cataclysmic upheavals. Say, for example, overturn, through violent actions, the orderly and accepted methods by which human settlements have agreed upon, resulting in stable and safe societies. There will always be some groups resentful and aggrieved by the modus operandi of other groups.

Nature has endowed us with an unfortunate tendency to tribalism, a required reaction in ancient times to enable human creatures to persevere in small supportive collectives against the ravages of natural events and other small supportive collectives who would wage aggression for the purpose of achieving for themselves rare and needed natural attributes through territorial aggression.

We fought one another over resources that would enable us to live to see another day. Hunting territory, agrarian lands, ores that could be fired and shaped, lakes and rivers that could provide potable water for ourselves and our flocks of grazing sheep and cattle. The tribe to which one belonged was always the right one; the others were inevitably the wrong ones.

That was then, this is now. Religion was constructed by wise men to teach their flocks that peace was preferable to war, that all of humankind is related and thus needful of compassion and understanding and mutual care for one another. Which handily explains why, in the present era, Islamists have launched yet another jihad against the kuffars who know no better than to deny the supremacy of Islam.

This is getting a trifle tiresome. How much longer must the world flail against itself? And how much longer must Canada, with its carefully balanced and nuanced responsibility to its citizens, to ensure their freedoms and rights, be taken for a fool? There are those unfortunate instances when, because extraordinary times cause extraordinary crimes, and the free world seeks to cope with both, we are taken advantage of.

Because we try so hard to be rational and balanced and just. We don't always succeed, as in those thankfully rare instances when we fail our own citizens. But too, in the case of the truly dreadful experiences of Arab-Canadians having been taken prisoner in the lands of their birth and incarcerated and tortured, we have been seen to fail our responsibilities in part - while those who have suffered that torture must claim some responsibility also.

The world is an uncertain place, it is true. But we learn to cope with uncertainties. Mostly by avoiding those situations which promise to erupt with a series of uncertainties that will, in the end, land heavily upon us. If one escapes a tyrannical, unstable country for a democratic stable one, accept the new citizenship and destroy the old one. And never, ever, return to a country where it is certain that abuse of its citizens, and torture, are commonplace.

That said, if Canada has been sloppily unaware or its agents uncaring enough to cause harm to any of our citizens, it is dreadfully wrong, obviously regrettable, and does not reflect the wishes of Canada or its people. This country has acquired a lamentable reputation as being a possible haven for the world's psychopaths, those who cause limitless harm to others, then escape justice by fleeing to Canada for refuge.

We're so gracious, we hardly know when we're being used and abused. As in the case of two former Montrealers who were imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay. They were nominally 'Montrealers', in the sense that they were passing through, not citizens of the country, but as a respite from their other, more important dealings, being part of al-Qaeda, and engaging in jihad.

Yet lawyers for Mohamedou Ould Slahi and Ahcene Zemiri insist that the Federal Court of Canada order the country's security agents to give over details of interviews the men say they had with RCMP and CSIS agents in an effort to support themselves at trial, and hold Canada complicit yet again for failings at a time when it must protect itself from the incursions of jihadist agents.

Yes, the RCMP and CSIS do, from time to time, pass information to U.S. security authorities. This is quite simply what allies and good neighbours do. Canada cannot and would not control what happens with that data, that is hardly its concern; protection of its home turf and its citizenry is. The two men in question must themselves respond to the queries to be resolved at their trials.

Give support to a violent movement intent on destroying the peace and security of another country by impairing its civil infrastructure, by murdering its people, and pay the piper.

Labels: , ,

Overcoming Inhibitions

In a world of growing food scarcity, where a small fraction of humankind eats regularly and well, while a far greater number of people eat on a marginal basis, and a larger still proportion face hunger and starvation, we look for ways that might lead us to re-balancing this unfortunate equation. People in industrialized, wealthy nations eat too well.

We've become accustomed to eating whenever we want to, whether or not we're hungry, and we invest our eating habits in unhealthy choices. As a result, the population of overweight and obese people increases, while the underprivileged struggle with chronic malnutrition and starvation. We're addicted to 'expensive' types of foods, like animal-derived products that use a preponderance of grain to reach maturity.

To obtain one kilogram of beef, cattle is raised on immense land areas, fed huge kilos of fodder, require large amounts of water, before they're ready for slaughter. The amount of food and energy it takes to produce a small portion of meat for a relatively small number of privileged eaters, could feed a vastly larger army of people eating the grain as a finished product.

We're told time and again that there are alternatives. Other sources of animal protein that we value, including the fish of the seas. And we've misused those resources abysmally to the point where fisheries world-wide are collapsing. While we're fishing for the choice types, we're wasting the less palatable, but still protein-wise fish as throwaways.

And ever growing urban centres are narrowing our capabilities to retain prime agricultural lands. International commerce in food stuffs have further aggravated the situation by diminishing the return for home-grown food products, using the developing countries' products grown especially for export, and competing with cheaper labour in a no-choice labour market, for indigenous products.

Now, with steadily rising food prices, some of it occasioned by the rising costs of energy, along with the need to pay better wages to agricultural workers in some more fortunate parts of the world - exacerbated by a growing number of people in places like India and China earning more and expecting to be able to eat 'better' in terms of more energy-using products, there's a growing food scarcity.

From time to time we read about delicacies enjoyed in other countries, where people make practical use of the protein available to them in their particular geographies. In the developed world it isn't taken as a given that the insect world can offer human beings a sound food source. Yet no matter where anyone lives on the globe there are insects in abundance and some, from grubs and larvae to beetles and spiders, are reputed to offer alternatives to the familiar sources.

There are about a thousand insects the world over considered to be edible. It's said that ants and termites alone represent about one-third of the animal biomass in the tropics. Insect populations are huge, vastly overshadowing the presence of mere human beings. People think of insects, for the most part, as pests, to be endured. Or to protect ourselves from. And in many instances that's quite correct, but then again, not entirely.

Taking into account the presence of trillions upon trillions of various types of insects occupying every square metre of space on this Globe, it can be safely assumed that they far outnumber humans - let alone other animals - in terms of populations. And put in total overall weight on the ecosystem, as well. They're there in vast abundance, and we could, if we had to, if we put our mind to it, if we overcame the 'ick!' factor, accustom ourselves to using them.

Take, for example, Shoichi Uchiyama, a Japanese chef who has recently published a new cookbook: 'Enjoying Bug-eating Recipes'. Um, yes. Yes indeed. "Domestic spiders are large at this time of year and the females are carrying their young in their stomachs, so they're both tasty and healthy", Mr. Uchiyama declares. I do declare, the thought never entered my mind to feast on pregnant spiders. I have thought of them as extremely fascinating, but not as potential meals.

But spiders, claims Mr. Uchiyama, gently boiled and served up on a bed of rice are quite wonderful, the flesh soft and somewhat like simmered soy beans. So, do I like soy beans? Uh, not exactly, but one could, needless to say, develop a taste.

Pure protein. MMMMmmmm!

Labels: , , ,

Friday, October 24, 2008

Good News, Canada!

There are those Canadians who fear the worst will claim our national economy, and there are those - greater in number - who take comfort from the fact that we're in fairly fine economic fettle, despite fears to the contrary. Canada will most certainly suffer some loss in economic activity, but we're in good overall shape, and we'll muster the patience to see us through a year of sluggish economic action, then cheer up when we're back on track.

We're encouraged by none other than the governor of the Bank of Canada, who assuages our worry by informing us that the "sky is not falling, the sky is still there". Nice; not all of us were rushing about like Chicken Little; the election campaign is over, we're settled down to waiting things out. For the truth is, as Mark Carney remarked: "We do not have the imbalances in our economy that other economies have going into this time of difficulty."

The difficulty of which he speaks representing rather an understatement of international financial distress. A real morass, a miserable and nasty mess brought to the global world of finance that has put its money on unfettered capitalism and its certain returns, thanks to a credit-enthusiastic America. You can have it all, you can have it now, and pay well...some time in the future, just don't worry about it.

And the future arrived, and while they had it now - whatever they wanted, whether or not it was reasonable and the acquirers capable of paying for it in the future - the present suddenly collapsed, all those acquisitory delusions of entitlement. And the facilitators went into a state of shock, that the inevitable - which had been forewarned, but that had elicited scorn from all those bankers - suddenly arrived.

All of a sudden Canadian homeowners, so critical of a Canadian government that wasn't nearly as helpful as the American one that allowed U.S. homeowners to deduct the cost of their mortgage payments from personal income tax, became appreciative of the fact that their government held stringent rules for the Canadian banking system. As a result, we're not going to experience anything resembling the American melt-down.

Our employment rates, incomes, wholesale and retail sales will remain in an acceptable range. This time around, we can be fairly comfortable in feeling that an American bout with pneumonia will result in a mere head cold for Canada. Rest and plenty of liquidity. The economic downturn caught the international money market by surprise, and stopped it cold in its tracks.

But Canada? A stronger labour market. We've more reasonable household and corporate balance sheets; we owe less than our American and international counterparts on credit. Our country's financial system is strong, and our government has stepped in to encourage access to financing where it's required, without indebting the entire country for an eternity.

We may see a downturn in consumer spending, but perhaps not a whole lot. The coming Christmas season will see Canadians intending to spend what they usually do, offering a leg-up to retail sales. Ironically, at a time when the Canadian dollar has dipped below $.80 U.S., American imports of Canadian products will be weak, but even so, the differential may help Canadian exporters in the short run.

So we're not chortling, that wouldn't be polite, nor very kind, but we're doing all right. We've been forecasted for slight GDP growth for this year and the next, but in 2010, we'll be up and away. And by then, so will the rest of the world. Rest easy.

Labels: ,

May I Help You?

Stephane Dion's obliging helpfulness to his party betrays the sensibility of a man incapable of viewing the larger picture. That of his party wishing to be rid of him, at last. The man is so utterly wed to his personal idealization of himself as the right man with the right message at the right time whose agenda was derailed by the evil machinations of an opposing political party, that it became obvious to everyone he had no place in politics.

That he represented a poor choice as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada in the first place is a matter for the Liberals themselves to mull over at leisure. Their instant embrace of that come-from-behind surprise, thanks to the gentle maneuvering of Gerard Kennedy, in acceding his vote and his candidates to Mr. Dion's advantage, speaks volumes about acting in haste and repenting at leisure. There was good will aplenty, and hopes for the future in vast abundance.

All squandered, because of the outcome of a poor choice. Well, we all make unfortunate diversions from our intended direction because of unforeseen obstacles, and often we embrace the opportunity to see things in a new light, and take the other path hoping it will render in the final analysis, a solution to the problems we face. There are times when things do work out well. And then there are occasions when they do not.

Who might have imagined that this highly-touted intelligence, this even-handed, high-minded former academic was made of a fabric resistant to weathering? The kind of weathering that the political arena invokes in the seasoning process of an able politician? That Mr. Dion is fundamentally a decent man, a virtuous man of great integrity, is very nice.

That he is incapable of conferring with his colleagues, of seeking advice, of collaborating for the greater good, and of reaching workable compromise, is not so very nice; obstinacy does not lead to sound judgement. Obstinacy as it relates to one's fixed apprehension of one's own abilities and cerebral soundness above the intellectual abilities and political talents of confreres can only lead to failure.

Particularly and most obviously when that complacency of self is not matched with the level of political awareness and social-needs comprehension and governing administrative skills required in a leader. So Stephane Dion, so freshly rejected by the electorate, so acutely personally responsible for the dismal showing of his party across the land, is eager and happy to stay on as interim leader for the good of his party.

And lest there be too many obtuse party members whose instinct it is to recoil at the prospect, Mr. Dion informs the media that the race to succeed him would assuredly be conducted in a "respectful" manner. First and foremost, "respect" would be demonstrated for the dignity of the current leader's intent to remain in position. For the selfless, and perfectly altruistic purpose of helping to groom his successor.

"What has been great was there was not an inch of defeatism in what they have said", Mr. Dion reported to the news hawks, eager to hear his every word. What? No one came straight out at the caucus meeting to bitterly denounce Mr. Dion's inept campaign, his incapacity to heed implicit warning, his self-indulgence, his whining accusations during a time when a leader should be recognized by the public as worthy?

What a polite bunch of losers. More credit to them. They have no wish to further bruise the ego of a frail-minded politician. Who sequestered himself initially the better to nurse his wounds, which proved in the end, not to be as potentially fatal to his self-regard as feared.

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Explaining Misanthropy, Misogyny

Some people, unfortunately, simply seem to dislike one another. Not as individuals, but as representatives of the human race. Some, through legitimate experience of having been victimized come to understand the frailties of human nature. Samuel Clemens wrote a number of books, the most celebrated of which were those dealing with children growing up in late 19th Century Mississippi. But he also wrote a book he titled 'The Misanthrope', well understanding the intelligent man's despair at human failings.

Then there are those who are or who have somehow become through a twist of fate, haters of others not because they are intelligent and have dissected and examined and weighed the complexities and mysteries of human nature and their emotions, and found them intellectually and spiritually wanting, but because they lack conscience and compassion as incomplete, unformed human souls. They are pathologically driven by hatred of others. And they tend to be those who seek to destroy others.

One such - of countless many - is the Austrian man who held his daughter captive for 24 years in an underground dungeon, and whom he forced as a sex slave to bear seven children. When his daughter was eventually rescued through a series of discoveries, from her underground prison, along with several of her children, the world looked on with horrified fascination at the grotesque and inexplicable behaviour of a man, a father, and a grandfather.

Condemnation was swift and predictable, and compassion for the wasted life of a young woman and the conditions in which she and her children were kept were universal. The simple fact is that the man was a living monster who preyed on his own in the most disgusting manner imaginable. Creating, from a skewed liaison with his own daughter, children whose genetic endowment has been compromised beyond understanding, whose mental and intellectual balance must be inescapably frail.

But psychiatrists, in their inevitable way, can find reasons for this kind of tortured psychopathy. Not his fault. The fault of his cold and abusive mother. How many of us have cold and abusive parents? Who experience unfortunate childhood events? We manage, somehow, to gather together our intellectual and emotional resources and overcome unfortunate beginnings, to become sane and capable human beings.

Psychiatrist Adelheid Kastner reports "His story describes an unpredictable family atmosphere with humiliating and unprovoked attacks from his mother", thus excusing this monster from the dreadful trials and circumstances he inflicted upon his entire family. "His childhood made him susceptible to an emotional handicap" causing him "to possess an entire human being" wrote Dr. Kastner. Please.

As for the 73-year-old Josef Fritzel, he admits to having an "evil streak", that he was "born to rape" and had restrained himself for just so long, then succumbed to his monstrous imaginings, turning them into reality. The man, forever mired in a childhood of resentment, as validated by expert medical witness; his need to humiliate, enslave, and victimize one of his own, excusable therefore.

One can only hope that he will be convicted of the charges of rape and sequestration, and for the additional manslaughter charge in the death of one of his children in infancy. Life in prison sounds like just desserts for the prison life he imposed on his daughter and their children.

Labels: , ,

Political-Social Dilemmas

India, like China, a huge geography with an immense population, is forging ahead with empowering itself into a political-economic colossus on the world stage. The country has moved steadily into the future, enabled by the sheer numbers of its population whose native intelligence and capable enterprise move the entire country to advance its agenda as one of a trio of burgeoning new successful economies on the world stage.

Like China, which has only a week earlier launched a spacecraft of its own, India too has realized success in her massive investment in her space programme, launching a $100-million space vehicle on a mission to the moon. the Indian Space Research Organization is said to have executed a precise "copy book" launch of a 1.3-tonne space vehicle to reach lunar orbit in 15 days to relay back data to its headquarters.

That's quite the investment. Most countries, on the other hand, invest massive amounts of their treasury in their militaries, in armaments, in advanced military missiles, and of course both India and China fall into this weapons-acquisition category as well. Unsurprisingly, with their vast and diverse populations, poverty remains an issue in both countries.

Wouldn't it seem to make more sense, governance-wise, to invest huge sums in bettering the lives of such countries' vast indigent populations? Well, it most certainly would seem so, if it were not for the sad fact that both countries, like most other countries of the world, feel themselves embattled, vulnerable because of the existence of neighbours whose focus and threatening actions leave no doubt as to their belligerent intentions.

That said, India, like China, is moving steadily ahead in its trajectory toward super-power status, with its vast economic engine and its relative political stability as a great democracy. Per capita income since 2000 has risen by 7.2%, an exponential growth for the country. All levels of society have engaged in entrepreneurial enterprises creating thousands of new companies and ever-growing levels of employment.

Their money markets are busy buying up other successful companies, in North America and Europe. To the extent that direct investment in other countries last year alone totalled a whopping $14-billion. There's been a decline in the poverty rate, but relative to the past. Of India's 1.2 billion people, 23% live on $1 a day, but by the World Bank's benchmark standard of $1.25 a day, fully 40% live in poverty.

There's been a move from widespread subsistence farming to other occupations, which appear to have resulted in greater numbers of Indians becoming mass consumers of mass consumer goods like electronics and televisions. Among the low caste untouchables, the Dalit, traditional constraints are slowly breaking down, and they have become emboldened to agitate for their rights.

As it happens, as the formerly indigent become more reflective of a lower middle class they become more agitated about their relative deprivation, which spurs them to fight for equal rights. And the emerging conflicts between the castes and divergent religions is causing increasingly violent rifts in Indian society, with Hindus increasingly attacking Christians, and Hindus and Muslims edging toward conflict.

Marking a societal malaise that the government of India has yet to come to grips with.

Labels: , ,

A Hideous Dilemma

How does a decent society deal with the monsters among them? Those pathological and inhumane specimens of human detritus incapable of compassion for others, who prey on the most vulnerable in society? Most developed countries have long ago eschewed capital punishment as an acceptable form of justice to deal with the capital offences and unspeakable crimes foisted on their communities by marginal members of society whose psychopathy marks them as incapable of living among normal people.

And although most members of society shudder at the very prospect of agreeing to enable their government to enact capital forms of punishment in response to truly egregious crimes against humanity, there are times when even the most ardent anti-capital-punishment supporters have cause for second thought. The moral reality is that to take a life under any circumstances as a just penalty by the state imposed upon nightmare offences does reflect our humanity.

Yet, there are times when we want to distance ourselves from the state forgiveness we offer to those whose crimes transcend the darkly menacing passage between wrong-doing and downright evil, and in our sorrow would briefly accept the unthinkable of a life for a life. Take the example of a murderer of three generations of one family, a predator who, in the deliberation of cold blood, murdered a set of grandparents, their two young grandchildren, and the childen's parents.

In a secluded backwoods area, in Alberta, where the entire family of six had embarked on a camping expedition. This degenerate monster of whom we speak tracked the family, and with calibrated intent, murdered the adults to enable him to capture the children, two young girls, aged 11 and 13. He planned to murder the grandparents and the parents because their protective status with their children interfered with his intent to abduct the girls.

The children became his playthings for a week. A week of unspeakable agony for the children, witness to their parents' and grandparents' murder, and then to become the horribly obscene subject of this monster's sexual fantasies and gratifications. It's impossible to visualize the extent of their terror. And then it was the girls' turn to be murdered. This disaster occurred in 1982, and the murderer, David Shearing, has been incarcerated with a life sentence since then.

After serving society's deemed appropriate punishment for his unspeakable crimes, this pitiless man felt it would be appropriate for him to be discharged back into the free world. That quarter-century of imprisonment, he felt, discharged his obligations to society, his crimes paid for, himself now washed clean of responsibility. He should be free to resume his place in free society.

And so he sought day parole. After serving a 'life sentence', it becomes an automatic process to apply for a review after for parole. He deemed it timely, having served the obligatory 26 years in prison for his crimes to apply. He was, he said, deeply ashamed of himself for killing the family, and now was seeking the opportunity to forge a new beginning for himself. A new beginning.

He wanted, he said, the opportunity to be loved and to be with caring people, to share their lives with him and him they. His ungovernably cruel passions had led him to destroy a loving and caring family, so they could no longer share their lives with those who cared for them. Amazingly, at the hearing of the National Parole Board of Canada, the man sat with his wife, to await the parole board's finding.

It's beyond belief that any woman could have any emotional investment in a man so obviously incapable of returning meaningful emotions other than how to appease the beast in himself. That said, there are such women: Karla Homulka with her husband Paul Bernardo, for example. Whose punishments for their unspeakable crimes would never suffice to wipe their personal record clean of guilt.

When his appeal for parole was denied - "The board's decision today is to deny both day and full parole", no reasons given by any of the three members who reached that decision - the murderer expressed no emotion on the board's decision.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Obscene FanatIcism

Afghanistan presents itself as a serial failure. A critically unstable country unable to provide for its own economic well being, and as a society incapable of offering its people the freedom to be normal human beings with normal aspirations toward self-sufficiency and a future for their children.

One of the five most indigent countries of the world, torn generation after generation by conflict, it is a truly desolate place. Along with its endemic poverty, corruption is resolutely entrenched as a tradition and is as much a part of the society as its unforgiving religion.

Despite liberation from the iron rule of the Taliban, women walk about in burqas, revealing nothing of their semblance to the female beings. Governance is disjointed, despite the currently elected government of Hamid Karzai in whose parliament sit the very warlords who had fractured and violated the country after the departure of the Russians, many of whom still govern various provinces as their personal satrapies.

This is a country mired in the historical past, religious and tribal and geographic. Its traditional hierarchical culture is one in which mullahs and tribal chiefs are authoritarian, tyrannical and to be abjectly obeyed. Illiteracy and innumeracy are rampant. Honour killings remain an integral part of tradition. Wives are treated as chattel and girls married by thirteen.

The international community is invested with the notion that it must bring full democracy to Afghanistan, to rescue it from itself, from its past, its traditions, its religious fanaticism. While the fundamental Afghanistan remains mired in the memory of the Islamic caliphate re-born under the Taliban, UN and NATO forces strive doubly to wrest the country irrevocably from the Taliban, and to introduce 21st Century sensibilities to its politics.

While fighting off the Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents - along with all the foreign Islamists eager to fight honourable jihad on behalf of an Islamic country - foreign troops and their diplomats and their NGOs are also heavily engaged in infrastructure building, in setting up schools and health clinics and instructing men and women on their freedoms and rights. Volunteers from abroad come to teach their judiciary, their military and police.

Yet, it must be asked, just how much separates the moderates, like Hamed Karzai, from the fanatics? An Afghan journalism student who mistakenly thought his country had already arrived into the 20th Century asked an unappealing question to his journalism tutor with respect to Islamic tenets concerning women's rights, while in class. He was swiftly yanked back to the 14th Century.

Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, a journalism student, was convicted of blasphemy. Under Sharia law, incorporated into the Afghan constitution, it is illegal to insult Islam by questioning any of its tenets. The punishment for which is death. One might consider it to be a human right to question matters of concern. It is the most elemental of Western freedoms.

International outrage over that case resulted in the young man being re-tried. He has now been sentenced to 20 years in prison, an improvement over death, but in an Afghanistan prison, one might equivocate. It represents a living death. His brother, another journalist, is convinced that influential Islamists compelled the appeals court to impose that penalty, and took President Karzai along with them.

The 24-year-old budding journalist has doubtless been cured of his human-rights curiosity; at least in that particular type of forum. He has now spent a full year in Kabul's dread prison system. If the international community fails to adequately express its outrage over this miscarriage of justice for the sake of appeasing fanatical Islamists, he has another 19 years to go.

He joins another ex-journalist in the country who a month ago was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the unpardonable sin of publishing a translation of the Koran that was held to contain errors.

Errors in judgement; they exist everywhere.

Labels: , , ,

Full Disclosure

So much for truth and reconciliation. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up to provide a public forum for Canada's aboriginal victims of residential school abuses has dissolved before it could even set up its internal standards and guidelines to enable it to commence with process. The residential school survivors have won a conciliatory apology from the Government of Canada, along with provisions for monetary settlement.

The establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was to represent an arena where they could air their grievances of having been dealt with badly through the auspices of the government and its associates in the residential school programs, various religious institutions. All of which, at the time, felt they were providing First Nations children with educational opportunities they might require to bring them into the broader community.

Trouble was, neither they nor their parents - for the most part - were invested in the 'white man's' philosophy of merging with the broader Canadian community. They were content to remain in their isolated communities and to continue their traditional way of life on the soil that was theirs before the arrival of European settlers. They did not aspire to leave what was familiar and true to them.

The residential schools project proved to be a success for some aboriginal children, and for very many others, a brutal, disjointed and miserable interruption of their lives. All of these details were to be taken into account, and the operation of the Commission was to provide a healing opportunity for those who held to their grievance and felt all the circumstances of their trauma needed to be aired.

But !poof!, gone the Commission, in one fell swoop. At least it seems that way to the casual onlooker. Not quite like that to the Commission chairman nor the other two members enlisted to oversee the Commission. It would appear the 80,000 survivors of residential schools will still be required to wait a little longer before they find closure on their psychological trauma.

Apparently, the Commission chairman, Justice Harry LaForme, had been under the impression that he had been given the authority to chair the Commission, with the able assistance of two assistants. The assistants have the impression that their investiture in this initiative bears equal weight with that of its chair. Consensus, they claim, is the name of the game, and Judge LaForme begged to disagree.

Moreover, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Phil Fontaine, maintained, despite Justice LaForme's accusations, that he had no intention of interfering with the work of the Commission and had never undertaken any mode of interference. Despite his anger over the rejection of his former chief of staff as commission executive director, by Justice LaForme.

Therefore, Judge LaForme, in whose judicial wisdom and experience so much was invested for the future healing of troubled souls, decided he would resign his post. Informing the Indian Affairs Minister that the Commission was doomed to failure as a result of inappropriate interference by the national chief, and through the intransigence of his commission subordinates.

There's quite a difference of opinion within First Nations' executive councils. While Chief Fontaine maintains all the commissioners be approved as mandated with equal authority, Chief John Beaucage of the Anishinabek Nation Grand Council opted for dismissing the dissenting two commissioners, Jane Brewin Morley and Claudette Dumont-Smith.

"With Justice Laforme's resignation, I can say without a doubt that First Nations have lost confidence in the Commission as it is presently constituted. Clearly, the remaining commissioners are responsible for this turn of events and need to be replaced."

As for Patrick Brazeau, Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples - dearly unbeloved of the Assembly of First Nations for his stinging condemnations of their inability to adequately represent the needs of First Nations - he recommends "This is about truth and reconciliation, so let's find out the truth".

Which could be very embarrassing for Chief Fontaine, no credit to him at all, and no help to the need of the residential school survivors, and the work of the Commission.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Craven Assent

Canada is very well aware of the dangers of asbestos as a carcinogenic agent. Public buildings in which asbestos was used have been worked on, in Canada, at great expense, to remove the asbestos. It's been done in the Parliament Buildings, among others. When people sell their homes, they're asked by their realtor before the contract is written up whether their home has any asbestos in it; it's a precautionary move taken by the realty industry.

Asbestos is no longer used in construction in Canada. Its destruction of human tissue is well documented. Yet Canada has a thriving asbestos-extraction industry where, although the material is forbidden for use in Canada, it is sold abroad in under-developed countries as a legitimate and sound material to be used in construction. Out of sight, out of mind. And absent conscience. And why might that be, one might wonder?

Well, asbestos is mined in Quebec, and employs several hundred people who don't wish to lose their livelihood. It's something akin to North America having full knowledge of the health-destructive properties of nicotine, and enacting laws to ensure that adults are fully aware they're gambling with their lives, smoking. And while increasingly municipalities have enacted laws forbidding smoking in private places and even public spaces, concern for the carcinogenic effects of tobacco is limited to proactive awareness.

In that the cultivation of tobacco and the manufacture of nicotine products represents a huge industry and a hugely profitable one. Growers, manufacturers and distributors look elsewhere for their livelihood to be enhanced by popular demand, where governments are less concerned, having more elemental problems of drawing their economies into the 21st Century on their minds. And it is in the developing countries that tobacco consumption has sky-rocketed, among the poor and uneducated.

It's something like that with the use of asbestos. The Government of Canada is guilty of lack of conscience in upholding the Quebec asbestos industry's right to make a living. Not in Canada, or in any other developed countries of the world all of which are well aware of the devastating effects of asbestos use, but in developing countries, susceptible to trust in the motivations of other countries with whom they trade.

Canada is the world's second-largest exporter of asbestos, where the government connives with the industry to export their products to India, Indonesia and Thailand, among other unsuspecting or heedless countries where it is used to produce asbestos cement for construction use. Of the two types of asbestos, that mined in Quebec produces the chrysotile type, said to be the safest form of the product.

But the dust and fibres of that type of asbestos also infiltrates lungs and can lead to cancer and lung disease. Attention has turned once again to naming and shaming the Government of Canada for lending its support to this Quebec industry. Three influential medical journals, the 'Canadian Medical Association Journal', the 'U.S. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine', and the 'Annals of Occupational Hygiene' in Britain, have all condemned the industry and the country.

People working in buildings that have used asbestos and in which the asbestos is in the process of breaking down over lengthy periods of time have become ill from cancer, asbestosis, pleural plaques. Just as it threatens the lives of those who work in the mines. Vast sums of money in the developed world are spent in cleaning up these diseased buildings so that they can be once again put to use by the thousands of people working in them.

Yet Canada co-funds the industry lobby which insists that the chrysotile type of asbestos is safe when used properly. The material is lethal and insidious; when building or home renovations take place, walls taken down, or house sidings, workers are exposed to the break-down of the fibres, harming them and by extension anyone else who happens to be nearby. A mere 550 workers are involved in Quebec's asbestos mines. Truly, can their jobs be worth all this anguish?

Canada is so dreadfully invested in supporting anything Quebec demands it needs support with that it has assented to this kind of criminal behaviour. The Government is preparing to present an argument protesting the placing of asbestos on a United Nations watchlist of dangerous substances. It remains supportive of Quebec's ongoing intention of supporting its asbestos industry.

The World Health Organization and other health-related agencies argue that chrysotile asbestos use should be halted, unequivocally. It's past time for Canada to halt its death export to those parts of the world unaware of their victimization.

Labels: ,

Monday, October 20, 2008

Gay Abandonment

Canadians represent a fairly relaxed society. We've been through the gay wars; those among us who clung to the quaint notion that homosexuals, transgendered and other unacceptables in the field of pairing off were an assault and an insult to society have also more or less come around to accepting the inevitable. That being that people seek comfort where they will. That being that not all people conform to what is considered to be social normatives.

And, finally, that people whose gender or sexual orientation confounds them because they're somehow different, still must be respected and accepted for what they represent; merely another expression of human emotional needs and behaviours. And while society as a whole has more or less relaxed into an attitude of acceptance, tinged in some areas with exasperation and in others with resentment, we do, by and large accept that same-sex couples are owed the same entitlements we all share.

Admittedly, it's difficult for social conservatives to find enjoyment in flamboyant expressions of otherness like the displays presented for public consumption and joy in gay pride parades. The thing is, most people find it distasteful to display aspects of their personal sexuality. Sex and intimacy are private, not public affairs. By and large most people in society are simply not interested in extravagant displays of self-indulgence.

So why exactly is it that gays take such pleasure in public display? It was heartbreaking and shameful that they had to struggle to arrive at the public acceptance that has become the norm. The anger and violence thrown at them did credit to no one, least those whose hatred for a different cultural mode painted them as ignorant and intolerant. Is it resentment for the difficulties they so long encountered that has so many now behaving aggressively entitled?

Take the instance of a couple who moved to the small town of Arnprior several years ago. One, a medical doctor, had the financial wherewithal to purchase a heritage property on a beautiful site just outside of the town. The doctor and his partner preferred that their property be off limits to locals, whereas the previous owners welcomed locals to use parts of their property as walk-throughs or short-cuts.

There's an adjacent nature preserve that the locals enjoy, contiguous with the couple's property on which sits the mansion they own. To ensure that their property was no longer viewed as acceptable for public access, they erected a wire fence around it and posted it with 'no trespassing' signs. Moves obviously geared to endear themselves to their neighbours.

When an older couple happened, one winter, to intrude on a portion of their property while on a winter outing, they were halted by the owners and informed they were not welcome there. And the local police were contacted to enforce the private sanctity of their property. It just happened that the older couple were long-time residents of Arnprior, had raised their children there, two of whom were adopted and black.
Oh yes, and the male of the couple was the town mayor.

The doctor and his partner had sent a missive to the Town Council, inviting them to recognize Gay Pride day, and to erect colourful banners in town for the occasion. The Town Council chose to ignore the invitation. Which led the doctor and his partner to claim homophobia was alive and well in town. Justifying their shutting their property off from use by the hateful residents.

The unfortunate events have since been aired publicly, and the town has been portrayed as backwards, a haven for bigots. The mayor himself attests that his adopted children did run across some racist remarks when they were growing up, but no more, he asserts, than anywhere else in society. He raised them to fend for themselves, to befriend those whose ignorance could be imputed to lack of exposure.

So this has turned into a spider's web of misunderstandings and resentments. Most certainly not to be envisaged as a how-to manual on making friends and influencing people.

Labels: , ,

He's Not A Quitter

All very well, but there are signal times when reasonable people understand there is a time to stand down, to walk away, to allow others to resume where you have unsuccessfully left off. A man of grace, honour, integrity and honesty, is the way people who believed in Stephane Dion described him. He obviously, quite obviously, believes himself to be imbued with all of those descriptives.

Add to them highly intelligent, principled, adept at bringing people around to his way of thinking.

How intelligent can someone truly be if he or she is functionally incapable of carefully listening to others, of weighing alternate opinions, of seeking reliable advice, of understanding that there are times when one's agenda is too unilateral to suit the times and the circumstances beyond one's control. Compromise is often necessary to produce a balanced result.

Those incapable of learning from others become a self-fulfilling failure.

But not Stephane Dion, that good and honest man, that upright and brilliant politician, surely one of a kind. Nothing, it would appear, was his fault. It was his personal tragedy that the Conservatives set out to portray him as inadequate to the job he was elected to do; lead the Liberal party.

Lead he might, but ascend to the prime ministership of the country? Absolutely not, said the Conservatives; he wasn't leadership material. He claimed otherwise, as did his fervid supporters. They were, after all, stuck with him, and to their credit many in his party did believe in his capabilities.

His attestation of his devotion to the environment left many in doubt, given the opportunities he squandered while his party was in power and he was in control of that portfolio. But he became very fond of his Green Shift initiative, fondling its brilliance in his mind, so certain he was on the right track.

He might have been, and perhaps not, but his salesmanship was sorely lacking. He was incapable of convincing the electorate, despite their general wish to be obliging to the environmental needs of our day. That too was not his fault. Mostly he blames the Conservative Party and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, for convincing people that his way lay fiscal ruination.

But then, isn't it up to each to convince the other? If the parties agreed with one another, what use of oppositional parties with varying agendas?

He offered Canadians a way out of a dilemma facing us all, and Canadians shunned his offer. Another failure not entirely his own, since no one could accuse him of a lack of passion. It simply was not met as it should have been, through a general acceptance and a dedication to the vital task at hand.

People are too wedded to their comforts and the assurance of a healthy economy; not his fault, ours. We had the opportunity that Mr. Dion so high-mindedly offered us to become better than we are. We politely restrained our enthusiasm.

The "not a leader" campaign, and the "Green Shift failure" propaganda that torpedoed his election campaign represent nasty campaigning on the part of the Conservative Party. Mind, the Liberals' campaign advertisements casting aspersions on the character of Stephen Harper, and the evil hidden agenda of his party were not to be classed as propaganda, but truth as they saw it.

Stephane Dion resides in a comforting cocoon of smugness. His self-righteousness is his staff of support through life. Unable and unwilling to recognize when privilege morphs into obligation for the greater good, he has come to the decision that he must, on principle, stay on as leader of the opposition until such time as a leadership review can be held.

Blinkered, self-assuredly confident as he blinks into the spotlight, he becomes a hapless liability to his party and the country he so passionately feels he has earned the right to govern. An unappreciative, selfish electorate slammed his vision of a noble avenue to a better, more sustainable economy to benefit both ourselves and nature.

The aspirations of other, high-ranking members of the Liberal Party will simply have to be put on ice for the time being. Everyone, from the political pundits who know everything, the news media, and his own colleagues, bitter at the inadequacy of his communication, his techniques, his unfailing faith in himself, despite evidence that would encourage a more rational head to act differently, expected he would resign, painfully but with grace.

It was expected of him, but Stephane Dion is his own man, marching to his own vision, far and away ahead of mere mortals whose cerebral function simply cannot match his. That his historical loss at the polls for his party, representing a mere 26% of the popular vote was everyone else's fault, certainly not his. The man is most definitely not a 'quitter' we know that, because he assured us this is so.

And so, his party can sigh, and wait another seven months before it can begin to rescue itself. From its deserved oblivion. To re-invent itself and find its place on the political spectrum. To reassure Canadians anew that their party is worth investing in. They've got a long hard uphill clamber.

Labels: ,

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Amazing Reach

Incredible what $100-billion can buy. It goes a long, long way to reaching the moon in supplying state funding for space enterprise, sending astronauts into the atmosphere. It can also fund a series of tentacle-like approaches to geographies more familiar here on Earth, but fairly remote in distance from the country from whence the rail systems originate.

But China is determined more than ever to extend her reach over the Continent she straddles in no small part. The country has plans and has begun to see that those plans are realized, to open Central Asia to trade routes by road and rail that will modernize a human activity that has its genesis in the ancient, fabled Silk Toad route with its colourful caravans criss-crossing Eurasia in a constant commerce of trade.

The Silk Road traversed a series of routes from China to the Middle East. By the time of Alexander the Great it had expanded to the Mediterranean.

Modern shipping by sea routes and even by air have brought Chinese goods and products to the far reaches of the planet. There's nothing new about Chinese trade and enterprise; the country has picked up where it left off a thousand years ago.

There's construction to begin shortly for a rail link through Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan with lines running east from Xinjiang into Mongolia and then to the Qinghai plateau. Rail lines are destined to reach as far as Moscow and Tehran, with another direct route planned through the Hindu Kush to Kabul.

A giant engineering feat planned to dig rail tunnels under the mountain areas to bring goods to Afghanistan and well beyond. Energy pipelines for conveying oil and gas already exist from Russia and Kazakhstan, to provide the immense energy needs for Beijing and Shanghai.

Even with the current financial slowdown internationally threatening to damp down all modernization and infrastructure initiatives in the near future, it seems China will permit nothing to get in the way of its intended target; to dominate world trade.

A truly amazing renaissance of startling dimensions as China continues to emerge as a world power; economically, socially, politically.

Labels: , ,

Which Is The Terror Component Here?

Who's the terrorist here, anyway? Kind of like the chicken or the egg, and which came first conundrum. Around Dawson Creek and elsewhere in rural British Columbia with the gas and oil boom, it most certainly depends on whether you're a home- and land-owner, or whether you're a functionary for the giant corporations who build those infrastructures that draw natural gas and other petroleum commodities out of the ground.

There's money to be made in them thar hills and valleys. But sour gas, when it's especially virulent in doses of greater than 200 ppm hydrogen sulphide has an unsavoury reputation as a killer. It attacks the respiratory system of unwary or simply unlucky people, and either makes them very ill, or in the worst-case scenario, kills, in a matter of seconds.

Little wonder that farmers and homesteaders are irate that developers can place those wells where they please.

Little wonder that farmers like Alberta's Wiebo Ludwig, fought a long battle with developers, trying to protect his property, but more importantly, the health of his family, and resorted, through sheer unadulterated frustration, to oilpatch bombing and vandalizing. Charges that stuck, and cost him his freedom, when he spent over a year incarcerated, post-trial.

Now, near a remote northern British Columbia town, a mysterious duo of explosive devices were set off under sour-gas pipelines, the property of Encana Corp. In neither case was the pipeline ruptured, and the company took immediate steps to shut down the leaking pipelines.

Encana is Canada's largest oil and gas company. The explosives were laid under a line carrying deadly hydrogen sulfide.

Someone, or some undercover group is decidedly unhappy at the company's presence, and the investigating authorities can take their pick among the many groups who have attempted in the past to protest against its presence, endangering the land and the population with its poisonous gas extraction. Residents are wary and worried about the presence of the well sites.

They're located wherever the company seems to feel it has the right to place them. And there are no laws in the province to prevent Encana from doing just that. In fact, the law is on their side; what they're doing is considered perfectly legitimate. Residents' fears about the toxic effects of sour gas somehow get overlooked in the extraction equation.

A well exists a stone's throw from a community elementary school. Residents of Tomslake, some 30 kilometres south of Dawson's Creek, have protested at the development of sour-gas wells in their neighbourhood, with the knowledge that hydrogen sulphide-tainted natural gas is a direct threat to the health and lives of their children, themselves and their livestock.

The Kelly Lake Cree Nation has also expressed its concern over the presence of oil and gas drilling on their traditional lands, for years. They've conducted peaceful protests against the development and it's gained them nothing. An anonymous warning letter sent to the Dawson Creek Daily News on the 10th of October referred to the danger the pipelines represented.

It gave a deadline of the following day for "EnCana and all other oil and gas interests" to close down operations near the community of Tomslake, insisting they had no intention to "negotiate with terrorists" in their "crazy expansion of deadly gas wells in our home lands." Residents are puzzled, as to the identity of the writer and fearful of the violence.

But their concerns about the presence of the pipelines are well founded. Their quality of life has been abducted in the interests of energy groups' extraction and export of Canada's natural petroleum based resources. Good farmland has been impacted, farmers' livelihoods endangered, and residents' health potentially compromised.

When the concentration of hydrogen sulphide is slighter than merely deadly it can cause a phenomenon termed a 'knockdown'. Unwary well operators can stumble into leaks and collapse from the toxic effects. Several pipeline workers are known to have died from sour gas exposure in the past.

The Workers Compensation Board admits that four to five knockdowns are known to occur annually. This is not something the industry is fond of discussing. But the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health considers sour gas a common cause of sudden death in the industry.

Low-level exposure is capable of causing neurological damage, reproductive disorders, and it's suspected also of being a carcinogen. It's not an area closely studied by scientists. Obviously, the industry hasn't offered to fund scientific investigation into the matter.

And Canada is very serious about its resource extraction industries. Government at the federal and provincial levels would far prefer to believe that nothing amiss will result in the processing allied with extraction. The RCMP anti-terrorism Integrated National Security Enforcement Team has taken over the investigation into the explosions from local policing authorities.

Small communities seem to be helpless to protect themselves from the incursion of large corporations which have the protection of government because their business represents an important revenue source for international trade.

The quality of life for area residents becomes severely degraded. They live in constant fear and uncertainty of the potential for dire illnesses befalling them and their children.

In other words, they live in a state of low-grade terror. Something's dreadfully awry in our value system here.

Labels: ,

Friday, October 17, 2008

Nasty Little Hissing Spats

Who does it benefit, exactly, when two high-profile individuals, seen as exemplars in their professions, spar off against one another bitterly denouncing each other, and embroiling an unwilling public in their disagreement, inviting condemnation or support to one or the other.

And, in the case of retired general Lewis MacKenzie, who has retained a notably high public profile as a political adviser and military pundit, sparring off against retired general Romeo Dallaire, now sitting as a Liberal selection in the Senate, it is not a pretty debate.

The airing of which does no credit to either; perhaps far less to Lewis MacKenzie than the unfortunate Romeo Dallaire who has spent a lot of energy attempting to restore his reputation and self-respect, after the horrors of Rwanda were unleashed while he represented the United Nations' peacekeeping effort there.

Belgium, the former colonial power in Rwanda, had a significant number of its soldiers in the international team headed by Romeo Dallaire, and that country still regards the general as an abject failure in his post, responsible for the deaths of ten Belgian peacekeepers.

General Dallaire had been en route to a meeting of public officials in Rwanda, intent on staving off a bloodbath, when his official car passed the compound where the Belgians were surrounded, and it was clear what the outcome would be. He made the decision to continue with his urgent meeting, rather than take steps to rescue the Belgians.

That decision has haunted him ever since, although he claims he had no other choice. He opted to save the mission rather than the men attached to the mission, and in the end, saved nothing, neither the mission nor the men he was responsible for.

The slaughter that ensued, with the ruling Hutu militias murdering moderate Hutus and majority Tutsi erupting into a deranged genocide bringing the world to an abrupt state of shock. Where neighbours turned against neighbours and the passion of hatred overcame their humanity.

Both men are recruited from time to time to speak before the Canadian Forces Command and Staff College in Toronto, and each delivers a different message of military leadership responsibility. Mr. Dallaire's presentation emphasizes his belief that the mission is paramount. While Mr. MacKenzie's claims that sometimes the mission should be subordinated to the safety of its personnel.

"The disagreement between Dallaire and me regarding priorities was obviously confusing for aspiring senior leaders in the Canadian Forces", wrote Mr. MacKenzie in a recently-completed book. When he complained to then chief-of-defence-staff Maurice Baril, he begged to differ; the disagreement in values would be useful, General Baril felt.

We in the general population and elsewhere are aware of the tragedy through the eyes of Senator Dallaire, his proclaimed love for the people of Rwanda and the beautiful country whose tragedy he oversaw in his failed peacekeeping mission which he blamed on the inaction of NATO and the UN in failing to bolster his troops and better equip them.

We were not generally aware that during retired General Lewis MacKenzie's stint as a UN commander in the former Yugoslavia he was accused by some Bosnians during the dreadful conflict - an accusation never substantiated - of raping and killing Muslim girls.

One might think that the very hint of such abysmally dread occurrences might humble and silence both men, rather than encourage them to engage in accusations and counter-accusations. Perhaps it's simply an unfortunate truth that military heroes too often stumble over their feet of clay.


Labels: , ,

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Modest To A Fault

No sooner is the federal election of 2008 concluded than Jack Layton gives warning to the prime minister that he personally will not find it acceptable should Stephen Harper not seek to govern as a conservative Conservative. That dread hidden agenda which the opposition leaders keep warning Canadians to be wary of, and which Canadians gave insufficient heed to, is set to rear its ugly head.

That's not the conservative-led government that Canadians have been exposed to, however, over the last two and a half years. Seems that the Conservative-led government decided to tamp down its right-leaning agenda, much to the chagrin and even anger of its traditional right-wing supporters who complain that the prime minister has abandoned Conservative ideology.

He hasn't. He's a cautious leader, sensitive to the mood of the public, and quite aware of what Canadians will accept as government policy, and what they will disdain, forcefully. He has bartered in no small part, his personal values toward a moderate view that as prime minister his decisions must more closely reflect the values of Canadian society as a whole.

There are some issues upon which he will remain adamant, others that he grants concessions toward; we've seen that happen, and it has given us confidence in the man. He is capable of compromise while adhering to his position, capable of absorbing the need to be reasonable and reasonably compliant on some issues. He does not, as does Mr. Layton, fulminate lavishly and eloquently grandstand.

Prime Minister Harper has been placed on notice by Mr. Layton, however: "He should respect Parliament and respect the results of the election, and we'll proceed in the recognition of that fact." Mr. Layton generously intoned, having forgiven the memory-impaired, intellectually-unaware voting public for denying him the opportunity at this time, to govern the country.

He is, however, satisfied with the breakthroughs his party has made in areas of the country where success has heretofore eluded them. "I'm very satisfied that we were successful in putting the issues of everyday families onto the agenda of the election". A feat only he was capable of succeeding in; no other party, no other leader being interested in accomplishing that.

"Of course, we still have some more work to do before I will be able to succeed in the campaign to become prime minister." There. Now we're on notice. Hold your breath, Jack. Fact is, the New Democratic Party will gain back some of its long-time disheartened supporters, once you're replaced as leader.

Labels: ,

() Follow @rheytah Tweet