People have been questioning the Leftists dedication to principle over the Southam editorial battle. Here's one Leftist's response.

John Miller and many other "journalists" have suddenly discovered that they are engaged in class warfare --- congratulations! Should the rest of us rush to the barricades? I think not!

It's heartwarming to see this kind of dedication to principle. Our Leftist friend then trots out the Nazi analogies. Including this gem;

Where were the mainstream journalists when the rest of us were being rounded up by the system and herded off to the gas chambers?


He then goes on to list the sins of the media and concludes with;

If you want the support of your "fellow Canadians", earn it. You regularly endorse the views of the Fraser Institute, C.D.Howe and other right-wing droolers, therefore take your own advice -the market rules baby!

It's not often that you see a Leftist bare his true agenda more clearly. In love with the ideals of justice, freedom and dignity, for everyone on OUR SIDE. Not just indifferent to the oppression of rights but actually celebrating that oppression when it's practiced against the enemy.

They wonder why they are marginalized. Not only does this tripe get published, it goes unchallenged. Either the left doesn't recognize hypocrisy or it doesn't have the courage to denounce it. Either way, this kind of crud deserves to be marginalized.

Here's a Globe & Mail piece that includes an editorial cartoon which was disallowed.

In the most recent incident, sports columnist Jack Todd was suspended without pay for a week.

Mr. Todd, who was short-listed this year for the Governor-General's non-fiction award, would not comment, but sources said he was recalled from assignment in Boston after sending a critical reply to a company-wide email announcing new appointments at CanWest.

The dispute goes more broadly over the issue of freedom of speech, with staff complaining that stories are modified to reflect the views of the Aspers, who are said to be pro-Liberal and pro-Israel.

Sources at The Gazette mention the following incidents as examples of editorial meddling:

Political columnist Don Macpherson initially wrote about the new editorial rules by saying, "A policy that forbids a newspaper from deciding for itself where the interests of its readers lie is not only bad journalism, it's also bad business."

He had to change the column and the published version read: "A uniquely Canadian policy that allows for editorials written from both local and national viewpoints, and occasional lively disagreement between the two, could be good for business."

Other critical parts were also removed, such as his praise for editorial page editor Peter Hadekel's decision to resign and an explanation that only a management order ended a staff decision to protest by refusing to sign articles.

TV critic Peggy Curran wrote last month about a CBC documentary about Palestinian journalists getting shot by Israeli troops.

The column was held, then she was told that the piece had to be rewritten, sources said, adding that editors wanted to label the documentary "one-sided" until Ms. Curran agreed to call it a "point-of-view documentary."

"They simply tried to censor her column," one reporter said.

The controversy has been reported widely in Quebec and even in the Parisian daily Libération. The Gazette has alluded to it only indirectly.

The paper carried a Canadian Press dispatch yesterday about the Quebec National Assembly motion against CanWest. However, it excised parts that reported its own staff's unhappiness.

Two cartoons of editorial cartoonist Terry Mosher, also known as Aislin, were rejected, including one that said, "Imagine, a newspaper that looks just like, ummm, Global Television."

One journalist said, "People are fed up with feeling like they're working for a paper like Pravda."

Jean Chretien, the master of the meaningless threat, has warned George W. Bush that he's going to have to take on Saddam Hussein without Canadian assistance. It's not that I disagree with the decision - going after Saddam Hussein is about settling old scores, not terrorism - it's just the thought of G.W. trying to keep a straight face when informed that Canada sends it's regrets. " We regret that you have taken this position, Jean, but we respect your decision. We'll just have to soldier on without you." Then Bush, Powell and the Joint Chiefs rush into Clinton's anteroom and collapse in gales of laughter.
The new airline 'security tax' is raising some objections. GST on Service Fee

Critics also say the new tax will not be dedicated strictly to pay for security, and once collected will go into the government's consolidated revenue funds.

This could allow the Minister of Finance to use the funds for other initiatives, much like he does with the Employment Insurance fund, which has been used to cut the deficit.

"It's a revenue grab. It's another EI fund, guaranteed," said Walter Robinson, director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Brian Guest, a spokesman for Mr. Martin, denied any of the money raised by the new tax would be used to pay for anything other than air security.

I've been meaning to write about the EI premiums ever since the budget. After I heard Paul Martin on Cross-Country Checkup last week I was all fired up to write about it again. Everything about the EI program makes me furious and this thing is exactly the same. A regressive tax that has nothing to do with it's announced purpose and everything to do with dinging those stoopid voters once again.
Check out Chretiens interview;

Mr. Chrétien also dismissed questions about the rising costs of travelling by air within Canada and suggested that people who find it too expensive should consider taking the train or driving.

More of that thoughtful, considered approach we've come to expect from this PM. Chretien doesn't seem to understand that 'take it or leave it" is not in any way related to leadership. It's the ethos of a weakling who finds himself in a position of strength.

An ill-advised foray into site design last night. I near fell over trying to read my own site this morning. I guess I'll just stick to the template from now on.


"A Partial Win"

A Federal Court judge has scolded Revenue Canada's "sloppy practice" in its handling of controversial rulings that let a rich Canadian family move nearly $2-billion across the U.S. border without paying tax.

Judge Dawson ruled there was insufficient evidence to support Mr. Harris's case, but she had plenty of criticism for Revenue Canada in her 87-page decision.

"Indeed, given the large amounts of money involved, it is astonishing that senior officials at Revenue Canada failed to keep minutes of certain meetings where crucial decisions were being made. It is axiomatic that poor practice of this sort has the potential of compromising public accountability," she wrote.

Although Mr. Harris's case failed to prove the bad faith on the part of the government that it had alleged, Judge Dawson ordered the Crown to pay him and his lawyers undetermined costs.

"I can't say I was terribly surprised," Mr. Harris said yesterday. He called the decision a moral victory for his side.

A gentleman from New Mexico sent me a very interesting e-mail about the structural problems in the Canadian government...

On visits to my step family in Ontario I always delight in congratulating them on Canada's progress since 1867 despite the apparent
lack of political evolution away from a pseudo colonial constitution. This takes total advantage of most Canadians' lack of comprehension that for the most part your government's actions have been predetermined by foreign events or decisions emanating from London or Washington DC up until the present. Until 1945 most of your foreign policy was British, and after that point it was subsumed by NATO coalition politics for the most part. What has passed for a foreign policy since 1990 has been a classic case of how hope and wishes sometimes are victorious over mundane realities. Unfortunately, I don't think that such a balmy approach to foreign affairs is going to be applicable to the next few decades. I may be wrong though in this.

I'd like to think that you are wrong but, unfortunately, I have no good reason to think it. Canadian Sovereignty already seems a polite fiction but I suppose that fiction can be maintained so long as it remains a tolerable inconvenience to the US rather than a genuine impediment. It will be interesting to watch the diplomatic dance over the next decade or so, particularly in the energy sector. The U.S. can afford to be - and usually has been - magnanimous with Canada but a certain hardening of the US attitude towards us can already be discerned. The US Ambassador's recent comments about our defense spending being only one example.

Economically Canada has always tagged along besides or behind the US, if for no other reason than so many Canadians have historically immigrated to the US. That has always put something of a cap on Canadian economic potential in the long term. Where Canada has differed from the US is in social policies of various sorts. But how great can this variance be if it is practically bounded by the economic and foreign affairs policies which are externally driven?

As you say, the variance is slight and (it seems to me) bound to get slighter...

I'm going to link the remainder of this message because it is too long to reprint here but well worth the reading.

World's Funniest Joke Revealed After Internet Vote

Famed fictional detective Sherlock Holmes and his gruff assistant Doctor Watson pitch their tent while on a camping expedition, but in the middle of the night Holmes nudges Watson awake and questions him.

HOLMES: Watson, look up at the stars and tell me what you deduce.

WATSON: I see millions of stars, and if there are millions of stars, and if even a few of those have planets, it is quite likely there are some planets like earth, and if there are a few planets like earth out there might also be life.

HOLMES: Watson, you idiot! Somebody stole our tent.

The Canadian Alliance continues to demonstrate that they just don't get it. Dr. Grant Hill is doing his best to perpetuate the Alliance as Troglodyte theme.

"Flop open the medical textbook and leaf through it, the data is there," he said. ". . . As a physician, remember, if I found someone who was smoking, that's a lifestyle issue. If I found someone who was driving drunk, that's a lifestyle issue.

"Stop: Whatever you say, you can never take that away from me. I can be a politician, but I will always be a doctor."

Why is this idiot even wasting our time? Canadians are not interested in your rationalizations for bigotry. If you want to deny homosexuals certain rights based on a (highly questionable) belief that they are endangering their own health, why aren't you working to deny those same rights to smokers, obese people, daredevils and mountain climbers? If this guy is the Alliance's best hope then we really are without a hope at all.

A quick glance at Dr. Hill's webpage splashscreen tells you all you need to know about his self-image. Love that shaft of heavenly light thing, Grant.

More on the Southam Editorials, this one from the Alberta IndyMedia webcast news

Quoting a Murdoch Davis interview on As It Happens...

Interviewer: But if the paper's editorial board took a position on say 'Prime Minister Chretien [garbled]', or Israel, that was absolutely contrary to the editorial written from your office, would they be able to write that?

Davis: No. It is clearly the intent that the newspapers will speak with one voice on certain issues of overarching national or international importance...

I don't know if anyone else is interested in this stuff but I'm strangely fascinated with it... A large chunk of the media in this country to being mugged in broad daylight, the mugger is unapologetic and the bystanders (that's me and you) are very studiously ignoring it all. What does it take to offend the Canadian public?
Hugh Winsor continues the wrist-slapping battle with Conrad Black. He appends his latest rebuttal to today's column in the Globe.

PEERS IN ACTION: Lord Black of Crossharbour's legendary sensitivity to adverse comment seems not to have been assuaged by his recent elevation. He assures us he voted with the majority of his fellow peers nine times when they forced the British Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill back to the Commons. But a search of the Lords' Hansard does not produce one intervention on the bill from this usually loquacious chap, indeed not a word on any topic over the past two months.

Hold up, Hugh. You made the charge, out of the blue, that Conrad Black had nothing to do with the changes. Did he vote on them or not?
It strikes me a bit slippery to change your complaint now.

Still more on the Southam situation. I've been curious to see if the Aspers were backing away from the 'No Contradiction' edict. Recent statements seemed to be a little fuzzier than those first reported. But lo, the contradiction interdiction is back. In this story about the Quebec legislature a CanWest spokesman says;

"The only thing we have said, as a purely practical matter so that we don't look like we're contradicting ourselves, is that on the core points of view, we do not wish the editorial columns to contradict."

In another quote we see that delightful boldness we've come to love from CanWest;

"Governments generally are usually quite willing to try to edit the media and it's generally not helpful."

In a strange way, I'm coming to admire these people. They're like Gonzo media magnates, drunk with power, driving Daddy's Buick Roadmaster with their feet on the wheel and their heads out the sunroof. Let's hope they don't get stopped cause David's only got his learner's permit and the Insurance lapsed six months ago.

( this metaphor was conceived, directed and pushed out the window by Lawrence Garvin, who's up too late)
The ubiquitous Charles Tupper Jr. writes about the parallels between OJ and Bin Laden and the suspension of disbelief among oppressed persons.

The first thing to be said about the O. J. Simpson trial is that he was obviously guilty. Given the overwhelming evidence, one is inclined to wonder how the jurors managed, other than through a willed suspension of rational deliberation, to find reasonable doubt-though it can be said in the jury's defense that Simpson's lawyers set up a display of legal smoke and mirrors so elaborate as to render the obvious obscure. It had nothing to do with justice, but it had its own perverse virtuosity.
The second, and socially more significant, thing to be said is that the trial revealed yet again the appalling gulf that separates blacks and whites in America. It's not simply that most whites thought Simpson guilty and most blacks the reverse. It is not surprising or even necessarily a cause for dismay that blacks would reflexively side with "one of their own," even in the face of the evidence, in a controversial case. That sort of instinctive solidarity is quite understandable. What does dismay is the basis for solidarity: the clearly widespread sense among black Americans that this is a pervasively racist society in which a conspiracy in the white legal establishment to convict an innocent black is not simply plausible but in fact reflects the normal course of affairs.

and then...

Eric Margolis of the Toronto Sun writes:

The U.S. government is delighted by the smoking gun tape, which was mysteriously "found" in Afghanistan a few days ago. The White House says the tape should dispel any lingering doubts bin Laden was behind the Sept. 11 mass killings.

But two other Arabic experts say the tape's audio quality is so poor that almost nothing bin Laden says on it can be verified. To my ears, well accustomed to Arabic, half of bin Laden's words were inaudible. The translation was sometimes out of sync with the action on screen. Bin Laden's statements looked cut up and edited.

Cynics (some Muslims...my words)suggest the tape was a forgery made by Russian intelligence or the U.S. government, with incriminating statements spliced into an otherwise boring exchange of pleasantries between bin Laden and a visiting admirer. This is possible. In 1990, the U.S. used retouched satellite photos to convince the Saudis that Iraq was about to invade - which it was not.

and Charles comments...

A willed suspension of rational deliberation. A very interesting description, a politically correct way of describing Black America as irrational, unreasoning,illogical, unable to reason concerning the O.J. Simpson trial and to a larger degree the American justice system for people of colour.The statistics, it appears, finds basis for their distrust in this system. Black men are , it appears, are routinely convicted and more harshly punished than white men committing the same crime. Ergo, "the Juice" would get a raw deal from white man's justice. The problem is O.J. is guilty.

A willed suspension of rational deliberation. History is full of Muslim repression in Russia, China, the Balkans, the Middle East and India. An argument could be made to support the suspicions of some Muslims. The problem is bin Laden is guilty.

Well, it's obvious that the situations are parallel. You can't reason away an emotional or spiritual belief unless your reasoning is extremely powerful or the belief is comparatively weak. The OJ case is (in my opinion) a much stronger case on the evidence but the emotional belief that this was a white against black case was well exploited by OJ's defence and belief won the day. The Bin Laden case is weaker on the evidence (but not weak per se) but the strength of the belief is very, very strong in some quarters. I doubt that belief will ever be defeated among some believers even if Bin Laden gives a full confession and begs Allah for forgiveness on CNN.

Another message from Charles Tupper Jr. who sends along a link and a comment about this Lawrence Martin piece.

No one doubts the enormous suffering of Americans least of all Canadians. The 8 billion dollars spent in a recent budget to enhance Canadian border security was long over due. The fact remains, however, all of the 9/11 murderers lived, trained and worked in the USA for a number of years before committing this horror.

This is all true but, the fact remains that we still are guilty of extremely lax immigration and refugee control. We were mindnumbingly stupid in the past and the fact that we have (barely) escaped culpability on 9/11 does nothing to change that stupidity to wisdom. That's the worry I have when I see people like Lawrence Martin, and Paul Wells and Anne McLellan assuring the public and each other that there was really never anything wrong in the first place.


Charles Tupper Jr. objects...

[about the call to buy out the Blogspot ads, which bandwagon I jumped]

Lawrence, I cannot agree with this one. This suggestion seems like a knee jerk liberal response that one would expect to resonate from the hallowed halls of academia. Blogger’s business plan, I assume, was to entice people with a desire to write and publish to sign on. They provide easy access to the web without knowing an ounce of programming language. The intent was to develop a captive market that would accept the ads in return for free access. Blogger makes its money through the advertising. If they wish to receive donations, then apply for tax-exempt status and issue receipts. If they cannot make ends meet, by selling ads, then charge the user for the service.

Bill me for the service, do not brow beat me into another subsidy plan.

I understand your sentiment but I don't think it was an intrusive appeal or anything untoward. If it were either of those horrid things I would be sharing your indignation. I went ahead and bought out my ad because I had noticed the bandwidth problems over the weekend, it seemed a small gesture of support and was given freely. I even got a prompt acknowledgement and a 'thank you'. It was, not to get too flowery about it, one of the most civilized financial interactions I've had in a long spell. Long live Blogger! Long live Evan!

Bill Garvin pulls rank and scolds me mercilessly...

You guys are debating the wrong issue here with your first past the post versus proportional representation. We can leave the system the way it is and simply have a Senate that is more than a simple patronage appointment. If we had a Triple E Senate that did the job that our system was supposed to be all about this would be a non-issue. An effective senate would force the house to do a decent job or their laws would not be passed, simple as that. In order to be effective that senate would have to be elected, if not you
continue with the scenario where the government of the day stacks it with their longtime party hacks or others who they owe favors to. Finally if you have a senate with equal representation from all provinces you don't need to worry about PR or FPTP, also the senate must be equal if it is going to achieve the effective part of the equation. If Ontario and Quebec have more senators than Alberta, BC or PEI then it becomes more of the same old story of Central Canada concerns continuing the domination of the country. A huge part of the problem of western alienation is that the over-riding concern of all governments, particularly the Chretien government is how it affects Ontario and Quebec, not whether it is good for the country as a whole or not. Of course this last sentence is supportive of your assertion that we need to change the system, I just think that it would be much cheaper and
much easier to achieve the triple E senate than to change the way we elect the house.

Cheaper, probably. But I don't think you can make the case that it is easier. The Senate is the pot of gold, the brass ring, the Swiss bank account, the money hidden in the cookie jar and the prize at the bottom of the box all rolled into one. The whole thing about PR is that it is something that we, the voters, can bargain with. An opposition party can campaign on electoral reform in the hopes that the promise of reform will bring the power. But there is nothing we can offer the government (any government -sitting or aspiring) in trade for their treasure chest, the power of appointing the Senate. There's nothing in it for them so why would they give away the best and brightest jewel in the crown?

While we are talking about necessary reforms I can't believe that you haven't gotten to mandatory elections at pre-set intervals. When the government (read PM), in addition to having the sole power over all the things I wrote about a couple of days ago, determines when they want to call the election it makes a mockery of any sort of honor among thieves and politicians, in other words it's a joke.

I have to give you that one. Opponents of the idea generally point to the 'lame duck' leader as the problem which the current system solves. I think it's absurd that Chretien can brag about 3 successive majorities when those three elections were carried out in the same span as two standard government terms. It seems that setting records is the only thing that Chretien is really interested in at all. He's like the Olympian who wins the decathlon after all his opponents have been kneecapped by Tonya Harding's boyfriends. Sure it's a gold medal, but only your paid entourage is willing to pretend admiration.
Rick Glasel writes with some observations about the Asper family.

I live in Winnipeg, and I can tell you that the Asper family seems to have a collective thin skin. This is 2001 and I don't think the country clubs are barring Jews from their membership rolls anymore, but unlike most public figures these days, the Aspers don't take cheap shots lightly. Nicholas Hirst, the editor of the Winnipeg Free Press, did an opinion piece some time ago suggesting that Leonard Asper should put his money where his mouth was, when Mr. Asper made a comment at a rubber chicken event about the ugliness of Winnipeg that greets visitors when they leave the airport. Not only did Mr. Asper show up on the talk shows to review the philanthropy of the Asper family and their commitment to Winnipeg, but the Free Press got a lot of flack from the Winnipeg "public"
about its disrespect and willingness to knock successful Winnipeggers. The Aspers get cut a lot of slack here in Winnipeg for obvious reasons, but building an empire on syndicated American TV shows and hiring fresh broadcasting school graduates to do their news shows is not the same as running a newspaper chain.

The National Post forced the Globe and Mail to wake from its slumber, and in the last couple of years has really driven a lot of Canadian news stories. God help us if it goes down the tube or shrinks into a TSE newsletter. I didn't like it when Conrad Black replaced local columnists in the Southam papers with people like Andrew Coyne, so I definitely don't like the sounds of "national editorials". That's what the Post is supposed to be for. Let the local papers keep some character and give their readers a reason to buy them for something other than classified ads. When I spent some time in Montreal in '97, I enjoyed the Gazette and thought it was possibly the best local paper in the country.

I'm a big fan of Andrew Coyne so I can't agree with you there. I do agree about the Gazette being a fine paper however. I read one person's explanation of this fact recently (but I can't remember where it was, so no link on this). This unnamed person theorized that operating as an anglophone island in a francophone sea made the Gazette both alert and precise, qualities that come highly recommended in a newspaper. Witness also that it was the Gazette reporters alone that took a public stand against the Aspers even though they have had to take a strategic step back under the barrage of irrational threats issuing from Casa Asper. There appears to be more dedication to journalistic ideals in Montreal than elsewhere. [In the interest of scrupulous fairness, I did come across a horribly formatted message of support from Paul Wells of the National Post.]

[This blogging reminds me of that Leacock piece about the Retroactive Life of Mr. Juggins. While looking up the link for Paul Wells I accidentally read some of his latest column and now I have to say something about this uncharacteristic Canadian insolence that seems to be taking root among the pundits.]

By the way, are there any theories why Can-West didn't buy the Winnipeg Free Press from Ken Thomson, when the Press was publicly up for sale?

I don't know why they didn't buy it, but I suspect it might have something to do with that old saying about 'shitting where you eat'.

In the end, foisting a personal political agenda through the editorial page is wildly ineffective. Remember Black planning to grind up Chretien until he could be poured through a straw? What should scare all of us is the unemployment hammer being used to suppress the pursuit of a good story. What if we end up with most of our major newspapers looking like bigger versions of Pennysaver Publications?

Having made my way, at last, to the end of this marathon reply. I will finish with a hearty 'Agreed!'

Quebec is considering legislation to address the need for "plurality" in the media. I can't say that I like the legislative approach but I welcome the attention to the problem.

Diane Lemieux, Quebec's Culture Minister, said she is planning to introduce legislation to ensure "a plurality of opinion and a plurality of sources of information" in the face of concentration of media ownership.

Her comments come in the wake of the decision by CanWest Global Communications Corp. to publish a weekly national editorial in its 12 major Southam newspapers across Canada.

I don't care what anyone says, I like Conrad Black and I'm sorry we lost him. Here we have Lord Black ripping his detractors.

Immigration lawyers are upset with the New Immigration rules

An outraged David Cohen, a Montreal immigration lawyer, says...

"It's given the Canadian government carte blanche to choose whoever they want."

Cohen said the government appears to want to exert more discretionary power over who is allowed to immigrate to Canada.

I'm being a bit flippant (Immigration lawyers seem to bring that out in me) but I do have some sympathy with the position of Cohen and the skilled immigrants he represents. I wish the government would focus their attention on the refugee and 'student' streams of immigration rather than needlessly complicate the process for legitimate newcomers. Screen them closely, of course, but let's not use an indecipherable (and shifting) web of regulations to do by stealth what we refuse to do openly. There is nothing evil or illegitimate about preferring one type of immigrant over another.

Maple Leafs Post-game Commentary

Quinn allowed that Valk took "a dumb penalty," then couldn't help himself when it came to the referees. "The most egregious event of the night was right in front of our bench and we didn't get a call," he said.

The coach was referring to a hit midway through the second period when Kings forward Adam Deadmarsh knocked down Leafs winger Darcy Tucker. As Tucker lay on the ice, Deadmarsh turned to skate away and accidentally hit Tucker on the side of his head with the back of his skate.

Tucker lay on the ice for several minutes and had to be helped to the bench. But he was able to resume a regular shift a few minutes later.

Toronto lost, in case that wasn't clear already.
Asylum seekers in Australia riot for second night. Elinor Caplan is reported to be rushing to the scene with a boxcar full of immigration lawyers and a suitcase full of Canadian passports.


I wrote last night about the lack of follow-up on the RCMP raid of Mr. Beaudion's home and I wrote today about the lack of probing journalism under the Asper regime. Both themes come together nicely in what is said (and more importantly, what is not said) in an interview with the RCMP Commisioner. The interview is conducted by Andrew McIntosh, another of the lead journalists on the Grand Mere affair, but there is no mention of Shawinigan at all... None.

The toughest questioning concerns independence;

I have absolute and total independence and that independence has never been challenged or questioned,'' he says, dismissing suggestions to the contrary by retired justice Ted Hughes.

In an RCMP Complaints Commission report tabled earlier this year, Mr. Hughes said the RCMP had buckled to political pressure when it manhandled student demonstrators at the APEC Summit in Vancouver in 1997.

The Commissioner also dismisses concerns about an incident this month when he hugged Françoise Ducros, the director of communications in the Prime Minister's Office, at a Christmas party at the U.S. Embassy.

''I'm an outgoing, social person. I talk to a lot of people. I talked to a lot of people that evening. I am Italian. Many of my greetings, I hug people,'' he says.

''I can assure you that when I'm at those functions, I do not discuss or get involved in any, any issue relevant to the work I do ... There were greetings and pleasantries exchanged. There was absolutely no business discussed.''

Either the Commissioner refused to discuss the Forgery question or he was not asked about it...
Damian Penny over at Daimnation! is 'not losing any sleep over Izzy's national editorials'. (That's okay, Damian, I'm losing it for you) but he is concerned about the roaring silence from the Leftist intelligentsia. He makes a good point. I was interested to read this old column on Conrad Black & the Aspers by CBC footstool Larry Zolf. Seems that ol Larry has a real soft spot for the Aspers but further reading reveals that ol Larry is nothing much but a soft spot. If you're looking for some insight into how the CBC spends your money, read a bit of this guys back catalogue... Wowsers! Apparently Larry has never met a backside he wasn't drawn to like the leech to the pustulent wound.

This Damn Speech

I've decided to just link this post cause it's bound to get pretty fricking long. Looking at my own page I picture myself as a disinterested surfer who happens by and promptly hits the back button cause 'this guy can't even answer an email without writing an essay.' Guilty as charged. If you're interested in the Asper situation hit the link, if not check out the other fun stuff on this page. If the link is not active it means I'm prolly working on the damn thing again.
My own Brother is reading This Fresh Hell which is both gratifying and slightly embarrassing. It's hard to act like a serious, smart, concerned adult when someone who's reading knows how goofy you really are.

Bill Garvin writes... (In response to the Chretien interview from the Calgary Herald)

I know that every time I don't vote for the Libs
that I am voting for the opposition but what Chretian and those who vote for
him and his band of lackies obviously haven't learned yet is that a vote
'wasted' on the opposition is still a much better vote than a vote for a
cabinet position that means nothing in this land of the one man rule.
As we talked about yesterday, when the PM appoints the Senate, appoints
the judges, appoints 100's of political hacks to everything from ambassador
to zookeeper and doesn't allow the duly elected MP's to do the job for which
they were elected a vote for a voice in cabinet is as much of a 'wasted'
vote as a vote for the opposition. At least voting for the opposition gives
a fighting chance for something to change...now if we could just get a few
more people in Ontario to see the light.

Bill and I have already thrashed this to death over the phone so I'll refrain from comment now.
A girl named Cyn, who is a pedantic usenet EXPERT , writes...

Dear Lawrence of Canadia,

It must be getting colder up there, your brain is frozen. Or are you trolling to see if I'm still reading your blog?

Mike *Godwin*, not Goodwin, is credited as the originater of *Godwin's* law,
and the first ref I could find from him is in 1991, not 1981:

However, the Kibologists have unearthed evidence that Richard Sexton came up
with an early version of it in 1989:

I figure it's fair to give it to Mike, since he did eventually work out the
actual probability and wording of it, but the page you reffed gives it to
some "Professor Goodwin".

This is the Law as found on Usenet:
Godwin's Law /prov./ [Usenet] "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the
probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." There
is a tradition in many groups that, once this occurs, that thread is over,
whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in
progress. Godwin's Law thus practically guarantees the existence of an upper
bound on thread length in those groups.

If most of the above seemed like gobbedly-gook, you are healthy. If you understood it all, turn off your computer and go outside for a while.

Update from Harper's Weekly

In Michigan, a postal worker pleaded guilty to throwing ten gallons of porcupine feces on his colleagues.
An Italian lost part of his penis while watching a porno movie after he inserted it into a vacuum cleaner.

Jay McKeown writes about PR;

Sorry, you are wrong.

Don't be sorry. It's hardly your fault.

But, as someone represented by a Liberal MP, your
confusion is understandable.

Currently, party members control nominating meetings, not party leaders.
And in Canada, if you want to belong to a party, you just have to pay your
money. If you pay soon enough, you get to vote in the nomination meeting.
Members or their executive decide who, what, where, when and how nominating
meetings are conducted. If you want to become a candidate for a political
party, sell enough memberships to your friends and supporters prior to the
riding deadline and you will succeed. Some parties have tried to hand pick
candidates for certain ridings, as the Liberals did in the last election
for some of their ridings. Even these selections were a small minority of
all Liberal candidates. These are exceptions, not the rule. As a rule,
local organizations control who gets to be a candidate for election. The
leader's role, under the current system, is restricted to a veto of
unacceptable candidates, not the hand picking of all candidates.

Okay, I'm in an agreeable mood this morning; In what way would a mixed PR system preclude any of the above?
You would still have local representatives standing for election and those representatives would still be chosen by
the local associations, wouldn't they?

PR centralizes the nomination function in the leader's office and allows
the leaders to make choices about who sits, or not, after the election.
(Just what we need in Canada. More centralization.) In our current
system, you know up front who your MP will be for each party, if they win.

Under a mixed system you would still elect a local representative using FPTP but you would also have a 'party' representative chosen by percentage of the popular vote. There certainly must be some mechanism by which you could ensure that those party representatives also reflect the geographic distribution of the vote. If you happen to live in a riding where your local Liberal is a long-serving and popular MP why would you even bother standing for nomination under the current system? Perhaps a mechanism to allow each riding to nominate both a FPTP candidate and a PR candidate would address the problem. PR representatives would be chosen on the basis of geography (a balance maintained for each region) and on the basis of the votes received at the local level. This is all speculative, of course. A more diligent blogger would go and check how other jurisdictions handle the nuts and bolts of the system.
I'll put it on my to-do list.

The Green Party paper that you cite does not address this problem, either.

You imply in your response that MP's are powerless. Once again, that
perception is skewed by your experience with the Liberals. Their strength
and their weakness as a party is the iron discipline they exercise over
their member MP's. Individual MP's have the power to make government more
accountable to voters and to Parliament. That they choose not to do so is
a flaw in them, not in the system.

I certainly agree that it is a character flaw among the members. But where the choice is between changing human nature and changing a voting system, I think we should concentrate on the voting system. John Nunziata is a perfect example of the admirable folly of taking a principled stand under the current system. As I said earlier, I don't think PR is the be all and end all of parliamentary accountability but it seems a good starting point in wresting some control away from the PMO.

The relevance of the candidate is what you make of it. My MP is John
Williams of the Alliance and I expect him to represent me, by following his
party's stated policies. Mr. Williams does not too badly. The problem for
all us is expectation. If we have low expectations of our MP's and do not
hold them to account, then we will get and deserve poor performance from

Ain't it the truth. I once had a ten minute conversation with my MP (David Pratt). It only lasted 10 minutes because it took him that long to satisfy himself that I was not a Liberal supporter. He ended the conversation and he no longer takes my calls. That's how it goes in Canadia. What remedy do I have?

If you want to reform the FPTP system, try looking at run off elections.
But no system is foolproof. We will all get out of whatever system we use
only what we are prepared to put into it. So, the question is not about
the system, the question is, what are we all prepared to do to make our
governments more democratic and more accountable to voters?

The first thing (probably 80% of the whole damn thing) is to get people to pay attention. We have rights and freedoms that the vast majority of the world's people can only dream about and we just don't appreciate what is being stolen away from us in tiny increments.
I'm planning a rant about this for another time, stay tuned.

A few emails first...

Peter Carayiannis writes to congratulate me on passing the 1000 hit threshold. Thanks Peter. It's been two weeks since I started this thing and I only took it public 12 days ago. I got a big boost from Glenn Reynolds who gave it a plug on his site and I also owe Damian Penny a belated thanks for putting up a permanent link to this Hellhole. Now I just have to keep people interested enough to come back.

Peter also writes about...

Good work on the Saul expose. This is, to me, is another egregious abuse of
power. Not only should Mr. Saul be censured by the PMO for using the office
of the G-G as his personal vehicle for self-promotion (seeing as the G-G
doesn't see fit to do it herself), but it occurs to me that the media would
throw an absolute raging hissy fit if Mr. Saul (or, for arguments sake, the
spouse of any official holding government office) were to use the platform
to move forward an agenda associated with the right (say, for instance,
school uniforms, private schools, ratings on cd's, flat taxes, triple-E
senate reform, etc...).

I was really hoping that somebody else would beat the drum on this one because I am a pretty strong proponent of unfettered speech in most matters. John Reynolds has fumbled the ball on this as far as I am concerned. It's not the content of Raul's political commentary that should be an issue but the government's response. Chretien's response is paraphrased as ' So what? It's nothing to do with us!' Sorry Jean, you're the fellow who was crowing about the great twoferone deal you were getting when you announced this pair as your GG a couple years ago. As for Saul, he's the greatest coat tail rider since Kato Kaelin. The right to free speech encompasses both the Gettysburg address and fart noises, a man in Saul's fortunate circumstances ought to avoid the latter category even though we recognize his right to choose it.


Freedom of the press is not a property right of owners. It is a right of the people. It is part of their right to free expression, inseparable from their right to inform themselves.

- Kent Royal Commission on Newspapers, 1981

I've been meaning to get back to that speech by David Asper (and now the Memo to the Gazette reporters as well) but things keep happening and the next thing you know it's old news and getting older. Still, I think it's important to say something more incisive than "boy, is that guy stupid," which has been close to the level of my comments so far. I'm sure everyone remembers the incident of last spring when David Asper imposed his infamous "Put up or Shut Up" rant on the National Post and the other Southam newspapers. It was a blatant attempt to subdue the journalists who were in hot pursuit of the Shawinigan affair and the only debate about it was the question of which was worse, Asper's logic or his writing. The 'opinion piece' was delivered with a 'must publish' directive, it was roundly dismissed as an especially ineffective whitewash and everyone had a loud (if somewhat nervous) laugh about it. Lawrence Martin, one of the lead journalists on the Shawinigate story was not laughing when he got his walking papers shortly thereafter. The Post still covers the Shawinigan affair, after a fashion, but it is certainly not pursuing the story with any vigour. Four days ago, the RCMP raided a private home in the latest attempt to extricate the PM from this neverending morass of duplicity. Four days and there is not one word about it in any online Southam paper.

The reason I bring that incident up is that the Asper's current line of defence is that they are not trying to dictate the editorial tone of their Southam papers, heavens no!, they are simply wishing to add to the debate. I bring up the Shawinigan thing only to remind people that the Aspers have demonstrated, in a very concrete manner, their willingness to impede and/or fire journalists who put their loyalty to journalism before their loyalty to the Aspers and their purposes. At the time, David Asper's challenge was "Put up or Shut up" but when the challenge was answered, the Asper's silence and their subsequent actions, made their real message crystal clear; "Just Shut Up."

Now they are going to climb into the editorial beds throughout the chain...

Tomorrow, for sure, I'm going to get at that speech.
Glenn Reynolds at InstaPundit has suggested that bloggers consider sending a few bucks to blogspot to help out in the current bandwidth squeeze. This is a bandwagon I'm happy to jump onto... I just went through the obstacle course of registering for an international Paypal account and I hope to see my ad disappear before long. Good idea, Glenn
One more and then I gotta get back to work... This is an opinion piece by Linda McQuaig Her solution to the Canadian decline is more spending on the homeless... or something.
David Warren shares my dim view of John Raulston Saul's throbbing intellect.
I forgot to include the link for this commentary about the Southam chill. The David Asper speech that I linked last week was a condensed version and was labelled as such. According to this commentary, one of the quotes that was condensed out include;

"Maybe they [the dissenting reporters] should go out and, for the first time in their lives, take a risk, put their money where their mouth is and start their own newspaper."

Ahh! There is the real thing. It's not about what's right, it's not about good journalism practices, it's not about the responsibility of the press or objectivity or any of those other fancy-schmancy principles . It's about that schoolyard sentiment of my media conglomerate - my rules. These guys are so childish, petulant and stupid that it defies belief.
An interesting Staff Memo directed to the dissenters at the Montreal Gazette. I'm tempted to reproduce the whole damn thing here, but a few choice bits will have to suffice.

What follows is intended to define boundaries between our rights and duties while working at The Gazette.
In the past week, some journalists at The Gazette have breached the prohibition against use of confidential information. They have breached prohibition against use of information about persons employed by this company. Statements have been made to outside media agencies that violate the legal requirements for primary fidelity to the employer.

I guess we know what happened to that protest website now.

Case law supports sanctions, including suspension or termination, against those who persist in disregarding their obligations to their employer after clear warning.

Going forward, all staff must understand no statements or actions to outside media agencies should occur that might reasonably have the effect of:

- calling into question the good faith of decisions taken by senior management up to and including the proprietors of this newspapers. Disagreement just does not justify accusations of bad faith or attribution of ulterior motives to the employer.

- producing written, spoken, visual or web site material, whether as news or commentary, that violates employee obligations of primary loyalty to the Gazette and its proprietors.

In the current atmosphere, there may be a temptation to regard this message as an attempt to muzzle debate or chill dissent. It is, on the contrary, an attempt to clarify the conditions in which debate can occur at The Gazette by balancing and respecting the legal rights and obligations of all.

I don't want to say too much more lest I Talibash my own posting.
Please shed a tear for the OPEC nations. They are having an increasingly difficult time fixing the price of oil.

Mr. Lauerman of the Canadian Energy Research Institute, a leading proponent of the price-war scenario, believes the Saudis are coming to a realization that low prices are in their best interest, allowing them to maximize production while discouraging new production from higher-cost producers. But it's unlikely the rest of OPEC will go along with a low-price strategy, since the cartel essentially exists for the purpose of maintaining strong prices for its members. A rift over the issue could ultimately doom OPEC, he said.
A Dispatch from Charles Tupper Jr.

Was it the ghost of Jacob Marley?

Mr. Doer has decided to reverse a trend begun in the 1980s that has seen the elimination of references to Christ and the Christian holiday at the legislature. The decorated spruce tree that sits in the assembly's rotunda has been officially called the multicultural tree since 1990. The legislature has not officially used the word Christmas since 1996.

"If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's not a flamingo," Mr. Doer said. "We don't call the menorah that's outside a multicultural candle holder. What we have in our legislature is a Christmas tree."


On Usenet, a thread that has descended into flaming and personal attacks will, sooner or later, be ended when one participant accuses the other of being a Nazi or in some other way makes a comparison to Hitler. This is known as Goodwin's Law after the fellow who first proposed it. A person who 'Goodwins' a discussion has ended the discussion by forfeiting whatever credibility they had previously enjoyed. It seems that now, in this post 9/11 online environment, an update or corollary is required. I'd suggest the term "Talibashing" for this newest form of credibility busting over-reaction. Perhaps an example is in order... Check this overwrought protest piece found over at Rabble.ca

This fellow is apparently upset about something. He writes in that breathless style we all love, three or four disjointed thoughts in a single sentence which also serves as a paragraph. He inserts five or six paragraphs of Bush insults as an introduction to a complaint about a local issue in British Colombia. I think this automatic vilification of Bush is a form of rhetorical throat-clearing to establish the proper tone before getting to the nub of the thing. Speaking of which, here's the nub of the thing...

Between the events of September 11 and the resulting attack on civil liberties and rights by the U.S. and Canadian governments — as well as the bloody soap opera in Afghanistan — a lot of attention has been diverted away from more immediate local matters.

Particularly here in British Columbia, where our own homegrown form of Taliban — under Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell — has been merrily slashing and tearing apart the fabric of the province on a daily basis.

One of the latest developments to come out of the office of “Mullah” Gordon is the Select Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs report, recommending the form for the government’s vaunted referendum on treaties.

I do believe that's a double Talibash... a "local Taliban" and a "Mullah" thrown in for good measure. Let there be no doubt that this guy is seriously pissed off. This guy was rolling on pretty bald tires to begin with, but a double Talibash is just like hitting the self-destruct button. Look for your own examples of Talibashing, trade them with your friends, collect the whole set.

My faithful correspondent Rick Glasel writes;

I checked out your link to the Green Party's submission on proportional
representation. It's actually a pretty good piece (proving the need to
keep an open mind in politics), but I'm not yet convinced of the need for
even a mixed form of PR. I am leery of using past election results to
forecast the impact of a new political system. What happened in previous
elections will most likely not be repeated in an election with a new
system. After all, a majority of voters shift allegiances, and contradict
their supposed political leanings from one election to another. Ideology
determines election results on a very infrequent basis. Basically, a very
typical Canadian voter looks for a choice he or she feels comfortable with,
reserving the right to punish any politician that invokes great
antipathy. Mulroney was elected with the largest majority ever, then 9
years later, the Tories were annihilated. It's the Canadian way.

The Tory bloodbath seemed to surprise even the Canadian voters. It's like the Tories had overstayed their welcome, but in trying to fire a warning shot, we blew their damn heads off! Perhaps that's why we so quickly put away our anger and went back to our knitting. We were shocked and a little horrified at our own destructive power. Which, incidentally, gave the current government the free ride they have enjoyed all these intervening years.

I still think the future lies with locally elected representatives who are
responsible to their constituents. Maybe that could be Preston Manning's
legacy to the Canadian people. The political reforms put forward by the
Reform Party seem eminently reasonable. The system for selecting party
leaders is gradually evolving in the right direction, and once the
Chretiens get their just desserts, we might see additional reforms. I do
think we need to find a way to make our Senate useful, and perhaps a form
of PR on a regional basis would work in the upper chamber. I would be
really happy if Senate elections were timed to be in between House of
Commons elections. Fixed election dates for the House of Commons wouldn't
be a bad idea either.

Keep the faith, we will get good government when we insist on nothing less.

How true that is. I rant and rave over the Chretien Liberals but it is us, and only us, that allows such bad representation to continue.

Here's a confession. I grew up in Brockville which is the largest municipality in the riding of Leeds-Grenville. This riding is represented by Joe Jordan who is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister or some such overblown title which really means 'head toady".

Joe is one of the few Ontario Liberals who was ever in any danger of losing his seat in the last election. An automatic recount revealed that he won his seat by only 70 votes. I don't live in that riding anymore but I still have a lot of friends and family in the area and, prior to the last election, I considered getting on the phone and bending some ears to try and get out the vote for Joe's opponent, Gord Brown. I didn't do it and I'm sorry I didn't. I actually knew Joe at one time although I never knew him will. I didn't actively work against him during the last campaign because I liked the guy why back when, and I thought it would be somehow unfair for me to speak against him since I didn't live in his riding anymore.

I know. How stupid can you get?

Well, the fact is that a number of people I talked to after the election didn't even vote and most assured me that they would have cast a vote against Joe Jordan if I (or anyone) had troubled to ask it of them. I can assure you that I will be speaking loudly to anyone who'll listen in the future.

I always wondered what PowerPoint is good for? Now I know.
Dalton Camp writes on Information Overload
Christie Blatchford comments on Bin Laden's video.
A badly timed use of the Horse analogy by Preston Manning.

A family named Canuck once owned a barn in which they kept several prized horses. This family had a great interest in public finance, and had therefore named their three top horses Spending, Tax Relief and Debt Reduction. They hired two stable hands named Jean and Paul to look after the horses.

I think Preston Manning is a pretty bright fellow. Apparently, he thinks I'm an idiot.