bcholmes: (beret)

old-stock-vs-those-peopleI feel like there should be more talk around the fact that Canada’s current Prime Minister is using Lynton Crosby-designed phrases like “old stock Canadians” to pretty clearly say, “We’re the party of white Canadians and if diversity makes you afraid, vote for us.”

Mirrored from Under the Beret.

bcholmes: I was just a brain in a jar (brain thoughts)

An Ontario Superior Court judge has taken the novel step of granting a divorce to a same-sex couple over legal objections from the federal Crown.

Madam Justice Ruth Mesbur ruled that same-sex civil partnerships from foreign countries that don’t permit same-sex marriages can nonetheless qualify as marriages under Canadian law.

It was the second time in the past year that the federal government has adopted a restrictive position on same-sex marriages.

In an interview Friday, one of the ex-spouses, Wayne Hincks, expressed anger that the federal Crown strung out a costly, emotional process by injecting itself into the case.

“The Attorney-General of Canada intervened in my very private matter and caused it to be stretched out, almost bankrupting me in the process,” Mr. Hincks said. “I eventually had to leave Toronto with no protections, no financial support to acquire my rights and no social network to rely on for personal support.”

The divorcing couple both have Canadian citizenship. They moved to Toronto in 2010, a year after their civil ceremony took place in London, England.

Britain does not permit same-sex couples to marry. Instead, it has a separate legal regime for same-sex couples that involves a civil partnership ceremony.

“Ontario court grants same-sex divorce”, The Globe and Mail

Mirrored from Under the Beret.


May. 3rd, 2011 09:24 am
bcholmes: (You're not of the body)

I think the most sobering thing is realizing that Toronto played a huge role in giving Harper his majority.

bcholmes: (haiti)

WikiLeaks confirmed late Sunday there would be as many as 2,648 documents that refer to Canada.

The vast majority of these cables are not expected to become public until sometime this week, but the website offered some hints about the broad range of topics they cover: arms control, CBC coverage, consular matters, energy technology, foreign trade, Haiti, intelligence, military nuclear applications, provincial affairs, Syria, and terrorism.

"Canada's foreign minister decries 'deplorable' leak of U.S. diplomatic cables", Winnipeg Free Press, emphasis added

bcholmes: (You're not of the body)

Canada is facing international criticism in the prestigious science journal Nature over the Harper government’s decision to stop requiring Canadians to fill out a long-form census questionnaire.

Two U.S.-based statistics experts describe Canada’s move as part of an international attack on census taking that is jeopardizing a vital tool for taking the pulse of a nation.

"Census taking around the world is under assault, thanks to concerns about privacy, cost and response rates," Stephen Fienberg and Kenneth Prewitt write in the August 26 edition of Nature.

"Most scientists and policy makers worldwide fail to appreciate what is at stake until it is too late to repair the damage of short-sighted decisions," they say.


"This decision will lower the quality and raise the cost of information on nearly every issue before Canada’s government," the opinion piece in Nature says.

"Science journal laments census 'assault'", The Globe and Mail

bcholmes: (haiti)

The Trusteeship System was, by all accounts, successful. And even after the program became obsolete, a form of trusteeship was used in Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, and Cambodia -- places where the collapse of order necessitated help from the international community to perform the basic functions of a government.

Haiti -- an independent sovereign nation and a United Nations member -- would not be eligible for trusteeship. But, as in those other cases, the U.N. mission can be broadened to coordinate the various international actors currently working in Haiti.

Instead of the ad-hoc system currently in place -- the United States controls the airport, the United Nations controls food distribution, and other responsibilities are divided in a scattershot fashion -- a form of trusteeship would allow the UN to coordinate assistance in an orderly and transparent fashion.

Other international actors could then be tasked with specific roles -- ranging from security and governance to economic development and the coordination of international aid.

The goal is simple: Provide Haitians with a legitimate, functional state -- one capable of managing the day-to-day tasks of government and providing security, economic stability, and social services.

This won't work without the Haitian people and their elected leaders -- it must be done with them, not to them.

"Place Haiti under 'trusteeship'", Senator Chris Dodd (D)

Right. Because the UN operations in Haiti, to date, have worked out so well.

bcholmes: (haiti)

As I mentioned in my previous post, our Prime Minister went to Haiti today.

There's this photo of his previous visit, in 2007. I've been sketching from it, recently. I want to use it in a cartooning assignment. But here it is:

This woman is my hero )

In this photo, Harper is in Site Soley. It's a medical clinic in Site Soley that, presumably, Canada provides aid to. In advance of this visit -- which, let's face it, was just a photo opportunity -- several political organizers were arrested. They were planning to protest Harper's visit to Site Soley and make the argument that, really, the cameras shouldn't be pointing at little medical clinics: the big emphasis on Canadian "aid" to Haiti was in the form of the Haitian National Police -- a police force that's been pretty brutal in places like Site Soley.

And, of course, in an ironic twist, that same police force rounded up the leaders of the protest so that journalists wouldn't be confused about where to point their cameras. I should mention that one of the prominent community leaders who spoke out about the arrests was Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine.

What I admire most about the picture is the women. Particularly the woman in red. She gets what's going on. Harper is mugging for the cameras. In the presence of poor, tragic Haitians, mired in economic misery.

And she doesn't even deign to notice his presence. What she's denying him is respect -- which, for Haitians, is probably the most valued thing that they have.

Pro Rogue

Jan. 5th, 2010 08:05 pm
bcholmes: (politics)

In Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai's government faces fierce opposition at every turn; many of his cabinet choices have been rejected in a secret ballot by the more than 200 parliamentarians that sit in the legislature. Simply closing parliament down and operating without their consent is not an option for Hamid Karzai; to do so would be blatantly undemocratic or at the very least downright Canadian. If Hamid Karzai suspended parliament on a whim we might be forced to ask why Canadians are dying to bring democracy to that country.

Stephen Harper doesn't have that problem. The Parliament of Canada has been suspended for no other reason than the prime minister simply can't be bothered with the relentless checks and balances that democracy affords us. He doesn't want to have to stand in the House of Commons and hear anyone question him on any subject. I don't blame him. Parliament is filled with jackals, opportunists and boors. The problem is, like it or not, they were elected.

— Rick Mercer, "22 Days of Snow Days"

bcholmes: (haiti)

From what I've read so far, Damming the Flood by Peter Hallward is turning out to be one of the best analyses of the 2004 Haitian coup.

bcholmes: (politics and strange bedfellows)

An alternative path would be for [Canada] to simply remain committed to the values we hold -- and to try to advocate them in the world -- regardless of the contrary direction the United States might take. [Canadian Ambassador to the US Allan] Gotlieb rejects this approach, suggesting instead that we avoid taking positions aimed at creating "counter-weights to U.S. power." Rather, Canada should simply accept U.S. power as "the dominant feature of the contemporary international order" and avoid asserting positions -- even on morally important issues -- that put us at odds with Washington. Even when the U.S. does things that offend our sensibilities and our sense of justice, Gotlieb would apparently have us keep our eyes cast demurely downward.

So if the United States chooses to invade Iraq, to launch a lawless "war on terror," to start an arms race in space or to obstruct worldwide efforts on climate change, Canada should quietly stand by her man. Similarly, we should avoid supporting causes -- like banning land mines or protecting children in combat zones -- for fear that this sort of "sanctimonious" behaviour might annoy Washington. If we want to disagree with our powerful boyfriend, we should whisper softly in his ear, not embarrass him in public. We should confine ourselves to being the manipulative little woman behind the scenes, using our wiles to get what we want from him and using our position of influence over him as our ticket to status in the outside world.

Leaving aside for a minute any skepticism about the effectiveness of such a role -- whether the manipulative little woman really does manage to influence her man -- there is the aching question of what it means for us as a nation to take on this role.

It is hard to imagine a more demeaning vision for a woman -- or a country.

— Linda McQuaig, Holding the Bully's Coat: Canada and the U.S. Empire

I'm enjoying this book, although I think it suffers from an unwillingness to view Canada as a nation that pursues an imperialist agenda over those nations (such as Haiti) where it has the strength to play that role. In McQuaig's worldview, when we're good, it's because Canada is Good! And when we're bad, it's because we're being sycophantic puppets of the U.S.

bcholmes: I was just a brain in a jar (brain thoughts)

All this has created real confusion about what constitutes peacekeeping, and whether what is presented as peacekeeping has much to do with peace any more. It also raises questions of whether peacekeeping -- carried out either by the UN or by NATO with UN authorization -- is even a beneficial activity, or is simply a cloak for Western powers to pursue their own agendas with a veneer of international legitimacy.

Let's start by admitting that these are extremely difficult questions. Certainly, the UN has been used to further the interests of Western powers. This can be seen in Haiti, where, as noted earlier, a UN peacekeeping force helped prop up a brutal regime put in place by Washington, immediately after Washington had removed the democratically elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004. The role of the UN in this blatantly undemocratic "regime change" -- supported by Canada -- raises important questions, partly because Canadian officials seemed to regard these actions as justifiable under the principle of "responsibility to protect," a doctrine promoted by Canada and endorsed by world leaders at the UN General Assembly in 2005.

Under this doctrine, the nations of the world, acting through the UN, are considered to have a responsibility to intervene to protect civilian populations at risk of suffering severe human rights abuses such as genocide or ethnic cleansing at the hands of their own governments. The notion of the world acting collectively to protect helpless people in desperate situations has an obvious appeal. But it is also fraught with problems. It undermines a key UN principle -- the sovereignty of each nation -- by allowing nations to collectively violate the sovereignty of another nation, in the name of preventing it from carrying out severe abuses. But which abuses will be deemed worthy of intervention? What other factors may motivate the interveners? This "responsibility to protect" doctrine, for instance, could have been invoked to justify the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. And, indeed, among the key supporters of the doctrine (along with Lloyd Axworthy) has been Michael Ignatieff, who supported the invasion of Iraq as a necessary action to unseat a brutal dictator.

Disturbingly, Canada appears to have relied on the notion of "responsibility to protect" to justify the removal of Aristide's democratically-elected government. [...] "If you've been to Haiti you've seen the poor conditions in which Haitians are living and anyway from what I've seen personally there, I think that if there is one place where the principles of this 'responsibility to protect' would apply around the world, it's Haiti..." [Denis] Paradis told an interviewer in September 2004. "[I]sn't the role of the international community to make sure that the people can survive in a country, can have an economic well-being?"

— Linda McQuaig, Holding the Bully's Coat: Canada and the U.S. Empire

bcholmes: (haiti)

Since I have a moment, I want to say that Canada and the IDB and other donors have been targeting the rural sector in a way that is supporting infrastructure, for example, working on environmental degradation and promoting export crops and aquaculture farms. These are all worthwhile goals.

What I'm trying to get at is more of a peasant path to development that would prioritize food security. Some policies in that direction would be aimed at reducing the gap, for example, between capitalist farmers and peasant farm sectors; adapting existing modern technologies to the needs of the peasant sector given the conditions there; creating more peasant-friendly, appropriate sustainable technologies; and also, as part of this, promoting broader social and political conditions to make rural peasant production sustainable and productive.

What I mean is that it was clear to donors in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s that the liberalization of Haiti's markets and the lowering of protective tariffs on rice, for instance—the country's most basic staple—would devastate Haitian rice producers. This was well known. USAID came out with two reports, one in 1987 and another one in 1995, that said that if they lowered their tariffs, it would basically bring a loss of about $15 million a year to rice-growing peasants, further reducing their already poor standard of living. That was in a USAID report. In other words, we are advancing macro-economic policies that we know will impoverish these sectors. So maybe a “do no harm” policy would be a good way to start, regarding not decimating it further and pushing people out of rural areas into the slums of Port-au-Prince, where of course there is no employment.

Dr. Yasmine Shamsie, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Wilfrid Laurier University, to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, Wed. May 31st, 2006

bcholmes: I was just a brain in a jar (brain thoughts)

The problem, obvious in retrospect, was the premise on which his entire theory rested: the idea that before healing can happen, everything that existed before needs to be wiped out. [Electro-shock experimenter Ewen] Cameron was sure that if he blasted away at the habits, patterns and memories of his patients, he would eventually arrive at that pristine blank slate. But no matter how doggedly he shocked, drugged and disoriented, he never got there. The opposite proved true: the more he blasted, the more shattered his patients became. Their minds weren't "clean;" rather, they were a mess, their memories fractured, their trust betrayed.

Disaster capitalists share this same inability to distinguish between destruction and creation, between hurting and healing. It's a feeling I had frequently when I was in Iraq, nervously scanning the scarred landscape for the next explosion. Fervent believers in the redemptive powers of shock, the architects of the American-British invasion imagined that their use of force would be so stunning, so overwhelming, that Iraqis would go into a kind of suspended animation, much like the one described in the [CIA interrogation] Kubark manual. In that window of opportunity, Iraq's invaders would slip in another set of shocks -- these ones economic -- which would create a model free-market democracy on the blank slate that was post-invasion Iraq.

But there was no blank slate, only rubble and shattered, angry people -- who, when they resisted, were blasted with more shocks, some of them based on those experiments performed on Gail Kastner all those years ago. "We're really good at going out and breaking things. But the day I get to spend more time here working on construction rather than combat, that will be a very good day," General Peter W. Chiarelli, commander of the U.S. Army's First Cavalry Division, observed a year and a half after the official end of the war. That day never came. Like Cameron, Iraq's shock doctors can destroy, but they can't seem to rebuild.

— Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine

bcholmes: (politics)

The Prime Minister warned the Opposition yesterday that if they keep calling for an inquiry into Brian Mulroney's dealings with lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber, he would be forced to dig up Liberal skeletons too.

In comments that came close to a dare, Stephen Harper taunted the Official Opposition, refusing to reopen the Airbus file and arguing that it could set a precedent leading to probes into the business affairs of former Liberal leaders.

"Don't play with fire, Harper tells critics", The Globe and Mail

Good god. What is wrong with these people?

Afterward: And wasn't it one of the Conservative campaign promises to bring accountability to Canadian politics?

bcholmes: (You're not of the body)

Canada has decided to sidestep the corrupt Afghan government and ensure the safety of Canadian soldiers by paying Afghan police directly, in cash.

— "Canadians pay to bolster Afghan security", The Globe and Mail

Don't worry. There's no chance that kind of situation will be abused.

bcholmes: (haiti)


A prominent U.S. refugee advocate has been arrested by Canadian authorities as she was helping 12 Haitians seeking asylum in Canada.

Janet Hinshaw-Thomas, a director of Pennsylvania based Prime - Ecumenical Commitment to Refugees, was taken into custody around noon yesterday at the St. Bernard de Lacolle border crossing.

According to her Montreal lawyer, this is the first time in Canada a section of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act of June 2002 has been invoked against a human rights worker.

Section 117 makes it a crime to "organize, induce, aid or abet" the entry into Canada of persons who do not have a visa or passport.


Montreal lawyer Mitchell Goldberg, who is acting for Hinshaw-Thomas, said he knows of no other cases when "someone acting for humanitarian motives has been arrested" under the act. "It was designed to deter smugglers and people who are trafficking, not people who are saving lives.

bcholmes: (You're not of the body)

The rights of non-native Canadians would have been threatened had the government not opposed an indigenous rights declaration that the United Nations overwhelmingly approved yesterday, Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl said.

The Universal Declaration of Indigenous Peoples' Rights is inconsistent with Canadian legal tradition, and signing on to it would have given native groups an unfair advantage, the minister said.

Montreal Gazette (A CanWest Global paper)

Apparently we're one of only four countries to vote no. Canada, US, Australia, New Zealand.

bcholmes: (You're not of the body)

The police admission came after several days of accusations from the protesters and denials from police that the three men were agents trying to provoke a confrontation between protesters and police.

Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day continued to dismiss calls for a public inquiry on Friday, saying the RCMP has a formal complaints process.

"The thing that was interesting in this particular incident, three people in question were spotted by protesters because were not engaging in violence," Day said.

"They were being encouraged to throw rocks and they were not throwing rocks, it was the protesters who were throwing the rocks. That's the irony of this."

On Friday, politicians and protesters alike were still demanding answers about the incident.

CBC News

This from a man who believes that dinosaurs and humans lived together.

So, um. After three days of lying about having cops among the protesters, why should we believe the new story that the police weren't there to instigate violence, but to investigate those urging violence?

This was the front-page story on the Globe yesterday, and I think it has really angered the public. But I agree with David Coles that that this story is eclipsing reporting about the SPP, which is something that the public needs to hear about.


Aug. 24th, 2007 08:40 am
bcholmes: (fascism)

Quebec provincial police admitted Thursday that three of their officers disguised themselves as demonstrators during the protest at the North American leaders summit in Montebello, Que.

However, the police force denied allegations its undercover officers were there on Monday to provoke the crowd and instigate violence.

"Quebec police admit they went undercover at Montebello protest" CBC News


bcholmes: (Default)
BC Holmes

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