Rick Glasel sent me an interesting link and some comments on same...

"The party is ending for free Internet services," Mr. Asper told
shareholders at the company's annual meeting in Vancouver yesterday.
[January 30th]

Will Internet surfers pay for "deeper content"? I don't think so. We have seen so much evidence lately that newspapers add very little to the world's storehouse of knowledge. If I want to go beneath the headline and get reliable, in-depth information or read intelligent analysis; I go on-line to get it, and I don't get what I need from the mainstream media web-sites. Let's face it, I can get better analysis from individuals like yourself [accuracy demanded that I leave that in] , or Bruce Rolston, or a number of other semi-anonymous Internet pundits; than I will find by surfing the commercial media outlets.

I don't know that you're going to find 'better' analysis from Internet pundits (defining better is a whole can of fishing worms all on it's own) but you can certainly find a wide variety of analysis and form your own opinions. The question of material does come up though and the topic of subscription services does get discussed out in Blogland. There is in fact a site dedicated to the topic, it has the unlikely name of The End Of Free. There is also an interesting conversation about this topic going on over in the Frank Magazine Forums.

So, if we can't link to newspaper articles for free anymore, what will have to be done? How will local content, or items not carried by CP or AP or Reuters, get exposure on blogs? I'm not a lawyer (famous last words), but if the source of a direct quotation is fully attributed, and the quotation is not used in a product that has monetary value, is a copyright being violated? What if I send an email that contains excerpts of an article from a copyrighted newspaper, with the source indicated in the email, and that email gets distributed for free to hundreds or thousands of people? Have I broken the law? The next question is: Is anyone willing to contribute excerpts of articles to an open forum, in order to share their personal viewpoints with the public? I have, and would continue to do so, without any compensation, other than acknowledgement that I was the contributor, and I think there are hundreds of other people in this country that would do the same. Frankly, I think an on-line community can do a much better job of keeping the public informed than mainstream media. So, Mr. Asper, by all means take away free access to your media properties; if there is anything worthwhile in them, the public will still hear about it, and we will probably keep buying newspapers to read at coffee breaks and for the pictures and advertising. Just don't forget that you can't sell advertising if you don't have readers, or viewers, or listeners, and if you charge more for subscriptions, and the number of readers drops, your advertising revenue drops. You still need content, or your customers will go elsewhere to get it.

Paul Martin Caves...

Federal Liberals headed off a confrontation between the backers of Paul Martin and Jean Chretien on Saturday, reaching a compromise in a fierce dispute over party membership rules.

By a unanimous vote, the 55-member party executive "strongly recommended" national guidelines that will, in effect, roll back a previous Martin victory in the Liberal stronghold of Ontario. Chretien, in return, disavowed any claim to special treatment in a leadership review vote set for next year.

What a goddamn shame! Martin has never been my favourite politician but he was the last faint hope we had for getting rid of that cancer, Chretien. The wording is all diplomatic but it seems pretty clear to me that Martin's supporter's caved and got nothing more than a promise that Chretien would not intervene in choosing his successor. That promise, and five Canadian dollars, will get you a large double-double at your local Tims.

Chretien also noted, in a letter to LeDrew, that a separate leadership convention will eventually be needed when he steps down "at some time in the distant future."

The prime minister said he has no interest in the rules to be set for that convention, since by definition he won't be a candidate in the race.

That really says it all, doesn't it? "Do whatever the hell you like in the future. Just don't dick around with me."

Martin had a chance to do something good for himself, his party, and his country. When push came to shove, he didn't even take a shot. What a disappointment.

Update: I just caught the Sun's version of this story. It's pretty much identical but there were a couple of additional points.

Chretien had made it clear, in the weeks leading up to the national executive meeting, that he didn't like the Martin-inspired rules adopted in Ontario four months ago.

He repeated that view in his letter to LeDrew, but insisted it was a matter of philosophy rather than self-interest.

"The Liberal party has always been, and must always be, an open and accessible party," Chretien wrote.

It's bad form to repeat yourself but... what else can you say?

The prime minister said he has no interest in the rules to be set for that convention, since by definition he won't be a candidate in the race.

It's a beautiful Saturday Morning in the Ottawa Valley, the air is crisp and cold and bracing as any beer commercial, fresh snow reflects the thin blue of the cloudless sky. The children, warm and rumpled and sleepy, are jammed like puppies onto the couch, voices quiet, but urgent nonetheless, as they debate the virtue of this cartoon over that. Ahhhh it's a beauty of a day.

What could top it off? How about a little good news from the Globe & Mail; Richmond says No to Joe

Liberals in Joe Peschisolido's riding are demanding the resignation of the former Canadian Alliance MP who defected to their side this week.

Mr. Peschisolido, who had earned the wrath of his former party for crossing the floor, lost the support of the Liberal riding association in Richmond after the executive met Thursday and voted unanimously to ask him to quit.

"Mr. Peschisolido, by his actions, has shown contempt for the integrity of the electoral process and for the constituents of Richmond who participated in the 2000 federal election," a statement from the party constituency says.

"The constituents of the riding of Richmond deserve an apology. Mr. Peschisolido should resign as MP for Richmond. Let the people speak."

It warms my heart. Even though Chretien and his closest cronies long ago abandoned even the pretence of principle, there are genuine people working and thinking at the grassroots level. Cheers to the Richmond Liberal Association, continued jeers to the Chretien Liberals, and I am outtahere before I read anything else that might destroy this fantastic mood. It just feels like a Saturday Morning when the bad guy outsmarts himself, doesn't it? It's like watching Wile E. Coyote get screwed by the ACME corporation all over again.


An email from Gilles Brunet about voting incentives.

People are so conditioned to contests in all of life's transactions
these days, it would seem like the right motivator to get people to vote
by having a draw for an expensive car for all those who vote. Sounds
like a sure fire way to get more folks to show up at the polls to me.

My father was offended when the Government got involved in lotteries - I think it was Wintario that was the first one introduced, at least it's the first one I remember him deriding - he called government lotteries 'an extra tax on the stupid.' I guess I've inherited that prejudice because I don't like that idea at all. If you want to use greed as a motivator in the electoral system - heaven knows it brings out the candidates - it's probably simpler and more effective to issue a small tax credit for proven voters. A receipt issued at the polling booth would be fairly simple to implement and administer. I don't really like the concept of persuading people to vote in any case; if people don't see any purpose to voting then I think they ought to be left alone about it. I don't like the thinking that says 'it's all a bloody fraud anyway' but people have a right to that opinion. I don't see that any public good is served by coaxing or compelling people into casting a vote.
Charles Gordon has a reply to the Southam Editorials in today's Montreal Gazette.

Good on Southam for printing it. Obviously they have to print something in rebuttal since the whole point was to show how open they are being. But still, you have to give them credit for printing something that is an effective argument rather than a weak or poorly argued piece. Speaking of which - they didn't print my response either.

Several thousand words have been carried on these pages in the last two days on the subject of the national editorials written by Southam News. The major argument against them was barely mentioned.

It is that the individual newspapers in the Southam chain cannot take editorial stances that differ from the Southam national editorials.

Gorden also quotes from Southam's own annual report... (why didn't I think of that?)

"A major strength of Southam publications is that each is absolutely independent in setting its own policy on all matters involving news and opinion. This has been Southam policy for more than a century. It is a policy we are proud of. It means that in the widely different environments in which we operate across this varied country, publishers and editors make their own editorial decisions, free from interference."

That is the sentiment of a previous owner, of course, but it seems an interesting counter example to Southam's current thinking.

Gorden is far too gentle with Southam by my standard but, then again, he's getting published (and paid) while I'm sputtering indignantly, for free.
Read This

Since TPC's inception in 1996, Ottawa has collected a paltry $24.48 million of the $1.6 billion it has offered up in sweetheart loan deals to corporate Canada. This sorry squandering of taxpayer dollars partly explains why many refer to Industry Canada more sarcastically but appropriately as Subsidy Canada.

That's a 1.53% repayment rate. $1,575,520,000 (Canadian) has been shoveled out the door since 1996 and we will likely never see a dime of it again. That's almost a Billion American dollars. In fact, it was over a Billion American dollars back in 1996. Hey! The lower dollar really is good for the economy! If it weren't for our faltering productivity we'd be throwing away real money on corporate welfare.
This is a little surprising... Censure motion against Eggleton can go ahead: Speaker

Again though, I'm listening to Question Period in the background as I type and I can't understand why the opposition has to turn this Win into a Loss by over pressing their advantage. Instead of moving on to other matters they are standing up, one after another, and demanding Eggleton's resignation. MOVE ON!, you idiots, you won this round.

Chretien to Reporters - "Don't get Uppity"

When Chretien meets with global leaders at the World Economic Forum this week, he will no longer take questions during international photo opportunities. Scribes who dare to throw a query will get all reporters barred from future photo-ops. This new foreign travel rule follows several gaffes Chretien has made on international trips.

The Emperor solves the whispering problem by demanding gags on the peasants. I know it's a horrible cliché but does anything else fit?

Liberals continue to protect 'da boss'

Opposition MPs wanted Jon Grant, an Ontario banker who was chairman of government-owned Canada Lands until November, to tell a Commons committee about his dealings with the former public works minister.

But under the watchful eye of a staffer from the Office of the Liberal Whip, Liberal MPs voted 8-7 to defeat a motion to have Mr. Grant testify, complaining it was a witch hunt launched "in contempt of Parliament."

The National Post is commenting on Da Little Guy today.

With no Opposition to speak of, a cowed Cabinet and a glumly silenced backbench, Mr. Chretien has turned his sights on his one remaining area of vulnerability -- the volunteers who help run the federal Liberal Party. The Prime Minister wants them to change the rules to give him unfettered access to as many party memberships applications as he wants. This would allow him to stack his own leadership review scheduled for February next year -- a review that was meant to take place last year but that was delayed at his request.

These are not the actions of a leader who regards himself as a "little guy." They are the strong-arm tactics of a man who has enjoyed power a long time and has no intention of giving it up for a long time to come.

Should Eggleton Resign?

The Globe tells us what "informed people" are saying. I tend to agree with those who say 'leave him there' - unless other information comes forward. The opposition parties seem to have trouble with the concept of diminishing returns sometimes.
Jeffery Simpson is musing about mandatory voting in today's Globe & Mail saying, 'We need all hands on deck.'

He makes some valid points about the benefits of wider participation but I still think it's the wrong solution. As a matter of principle; you're talking about converting a freedom to an obligation. As a matter of pragmatism; what is the advantage of a bunch of sullen, reluctant voters? More sullen and reluctant than the current bunch I mean.


Asper's counterattack

A two-pronged reply from the Aspers this morning. The first item from the Globe & Mail quotes Izzy Asper at a Shareholder's Meeting.

Mr. Asper remained defiant when facing questions about the editorial policy, which he said would continue.

"We firmly believe that on some major issues our readers deserve, and will welcome, a national point of view and not merely a local or parochial perspective," he said.

"We do this because, as publisher-in-chief, we are responsible for every word which appears in the papers we own and, therefore, on national and international key issues we should have one, not 14, editorial positions."

What's interesting is not so much what he says (which is nothing new, after all) but the fact that he is being questioned about by Shareholders. I'm sure that the Aspers have complete control of the corporation but questions from other shareholders have to be discouraging just the same.

The second prong, a long rambling whine by Murdoch Davis, is even more interesting. Davis goes into far too much detail about journalistic gossip and infighting. He warns the reader right off the bat...

As has been said of seeing sausages made, sometimes watching journalism happen is unappetizing.

For the past two months, Southam newspapers have been at the centre of a furor within parts of the journalism community, particularly the CBC, Toronto Star, Toronto Sun and Toronto Globe and Mail. (A coincidence, all those Toronto names ...)

It's back to that regional prejudice canard. I wonder if Davis has forgotten about the Gazette Journalists or if he just finds the geography inconvenient.

So under CanWest Global Communications Corp., which owns Southam, we are publishing national editorials to draw Canadians from coast to coast into a discourse. Critics can debate the wisdom of that, but they shouldn't overstate it.

If your critics overstate their objections then they only hurt their own cause. If you are seriously seeking a national dialogue then you ought to welcome the dialogue you've created. Why attempt to quell it?

But look at the language of those who denounce us:

"Abuse of power."

I'd agree with that.


No. Censorship is an act of government authority. However, it is exactly the same impulse that demands 'we all speak with one voice.'

"Repression of dissenting views."

Very definitely - Davis has been quoted (repeatedly) saying that contradictory views will not be published as editorials.

"Dictating to the newspapers."

Of course. Why even include this one?

Or, my personal favourite, from the Canadian Association of Journalists, "threat to democratic traditions." One would think we were plotting to subvert an election or to blow up Parliament. (More about the CAJ later.)

What were you saying about overstating objections earlier? The 'threat to democratic traditions' is certainly debatable but an analogy to terrorism? Pretty silly.

You can disagree with the hows and whys of this policy, and with the ideas themselves. But to see the coverage and comment in Toronto-based media, the reaction from journalism profs and from some so-called professional organizations of journalists, we are committing crimes against society.

I think you are committing a crime against society. Any action or policy which has the effect of silencing any voice is a crime against an open society. When the voices you silence are those of experienced and thoughtful commentators - people with years of demonstrated relevance - then your crime is a felony. You protest that you will 'allow' dissenting views, on bylined commentaries, in letters to the Editor, or from 'invited' voices. The fact that you claim you will use this power wisely does nothing to reassure the people that had that freedom taken from them. You will decide what voices are heard where previously a dozen or more editorial boards - diverse and distinctive - were making that decision. If you take something from me - something as important as my right to speak my mind - don't start with the placating assurances about how permissive you'll be with my freedoms.

Davis then goes into a number of specific incidents where nobody phoned him. I can't really comment on that because, indeed, I don't know who phoned him. He does raise the case of Douglas Cuthand - the writer from Saskatchewan...

-Doug Cuthand, freelance writer for our Saskatchewan papers, submits a piece comparing Palestinians in refugee camps to Canada's aboriginals. It's flimsy, badly researched, historically inaccurate and trite. The editor in Regina rejects it.

No one else in the company hears of this until after the decision. But newsroom speculation is that maybe it was a head office call, because CanWest is known to have strong views about Israel. The CBC hears that, calls Cuthand, who never quite says it happened but never quite says it didn't, and another round ensues.

Stories differ on that.

Did even one commentator from among many at other dailies call to check a fact or ask a single question? No.

Worthington still hasn't, although he's written about it four or five times. He even hooked one piece to what he called the failure of Maude Barlow and the Council of Canadians to raise questions about CanWest. The director of the council wrote to the Toronto Sun saying that had Worthington bothered to call them, or even just checked their Web site, he would have found their criticisms.

I just checked their website; I did searches on 'Asper,' 'CanWest,' 'Editorial,' and 'Southam' - no relevant hits. The 'Southam' search was kind of funny - nine hits - nine alarming and alarmist screeds about the danger of Conrad Black, court challenges, press freedom campaigns, wailing and gnashing of teeth, but on Canwest? Boo. Nada. Not a peep.

I'll skip over a bunch of stuff even though an awful lot of it deserves to be more closely examined. You'd think the Uber Editor of Canada would take a little care to edit himself; this sucker is loooo-oooong. If you think I go on at length - and I sometimes think so myself - I defy you to read this whole Davis Screed without a bathroom break.

Sadly though, Davis is not done and I will quote him at length here. Speaking about the Canadian Association of Journalists...

Worse, much worse, they did what no journalist who values freedom of the press and freedom of expression can do. CAJ directors debased themselves by calling on the government to take action against us for expressing ideas in ways they don't like. They invited - no, they begged - the government to get involved in the editorial process, the very thing that the term freedom of the press is meant to protect against.

This is dishonest. No one is calling for the government to 'take action against (you) for expressing ideas' they are calling on the government to intervene so that you don't stop them from 'expressing ideas'. You can argue that you have the right to do that - as you have - but don't try to misrepresent what the debate is about. No one wants the government involved in the 'editorial process,' least of all the journalists. But where an extremely powerful private interest is acting against the interests of the citizens (as in this initiative) then the government has a right and a duty to investigate and intervene if circumstances warrent that intervention.

This point cannot be repeated often enough. Freedom of expression and freedom of the press do not mean that journalists get a place in a newspaper regardless of quality or accuracy. It does not mean editors should not edit. It certainly does not mean that proprietors shouldn't have a voice in their newspapers, or in fact run their newspapers however they wish. Yes, newspapers are public trusts, but they aren't public utilities.

No they are not public utilities, that's true. But your own premise, that they are a public trust, is undermined - even destroyed - by your contention that 'proprietors (should) run their newspapers however they wish.' If you genuinely feel that newspapers are a public trust how can you object to public scrutiny in the form of government oversight? Canwest has never called for the abolition of the CRTC or other barriers to foreign competition. Why the horror at one form of government intervention when other forms have served CanWest so well?

Those freedoms are freedoms from the state, from government intrusion into the editorial process, any government role in determining or evaluating content. To cite concern for those freedoms as a reason for asking the government to take action reflects a profound ignorance of journalistic tradition and values.

Whatever one might feel about the decisions of a publisher or an editor or a publishing company, to involve the government is much, much worse. That, not national editorials or even biased or incompetent editing, threatens the freedom of Canada's media.

What's threatening the freedom of Canada's media is an excessively concentrated ownership of that media. Concentrated ownership, on it's own simply makes people uneasy about the potential for abuse of that power, but this policy and this ownership demonstrates very clearly that the potential has been realized. It's an incredible display of arrogance on the Asper's part to claim 'we have this right' and it is embarrassing that you argue their cause so dishonestly.

The issue should not be whether publishing a national viewpoint as an initial proposition is right or wrong. The issue should not be red herrings such as media concentration (the hue raised by other media shows that Canada has more than ample outlets.)

Your own argument has been that all the protest is centered in Toronto, one of the few pockets of the country where actual competition still exists. The issue is media concentration - a problem serious enough in the abstract - but far more serious when that ownership doesn't understand the responsibility that has found it's way into their hands. Perhaps the Aspers could be forgiven for misunderstanding the role of the newspapers, they are businessmen rather than journalists. You, Mr. Davis, have no such excuse.


Art Eggleton.
What can you say about this guy without breaking into tears or laughter. Imagine Chretien, in some parliamentary bathroom yesterday afternoon, pounding his head on the vanity, saying "Why? Why? WHY?!?!" "Why didn't I shuffle this chump into the back row two weeks ago?" Talk about your missed opportunities. I must go check on the Globe's impression of the 'new team' this morning.

Update: As expected, the Globe is much less impressed with Team Chretien this morning.

The Liberal government has landed Canada in the middle of an international storm over U.S. treatment of Afghan prisoners, prompting one expert to suggest Canada has violated the Geneva Conventions.

I was just chatting with Charles Tupper in email when a new thought occurred to me; Perhaps that slippery old Chretien left Eggleton in the Defence Ministry as a deliberate (and cruel) strategy of insulating himself. Anyone who caught Eggleton in the Scrums yesterday can not doubt that the poor bastard is getting the stuffing pounded out of him. Remember Chretien rushing to the defence of Jane Stewart during the HRDC flap? There was no Calvary coming over the hill for Art Eggleton yesterday as he sputtered and spun about "Geneva-like" conditions and "similar uniforms." Maybe Eggleton kept his cabinet post precisely because Chretien wanted someone expendable in the position. This way Chretien can continue to speak out of both sides of his mouth and leave his strawman Minister to take all the pounding.

Jean Chretien is preparing to apply the Shawinigan Handshake to his own party.

Jean Chretien intends to show up at a crucial meeting of the 55-member Liberal party national executive on Saturday to face down supporters of Paul Martin, the Minister of Finance, over controversial membership rules.

Insiders say Mr. Chretien has also warned Cabinet ministers to back his campaign to change the rules and threatened to fire anyone who opposes him.

"He told people in the Cabinet that they could be out as easily as they could be in, depending on what they do on this," a source said.

"He is determined to win the vote. He will be an intimidating presence and people will feel threatened with him in the room," said a Martin advisor.

He's da little guy,
just a little guy.
Never hurt a fly,
love dat little guy.


The latest Southam editorial is out and it looks like Canwest has consulted a conflict resolution expert. The tone is somewhat moderated from that overwrought screed from David Asper of last December. Not surprising when you consider the most recent voices speaking on this issue...

The Washington Post,

CanWest controls a major newspaper in every major city outside of Toronto. Bell Globemedia, a subsidiary of Bell Canada Enterprises, a telecommunications company, owns the Globe and Mail, a nationally circulated paper, and the private network CTV. Quebecor, a Montreal-based printing company, owns the Sun newspapers, a chain of tabloids. Torstar Corp. controls the Toronto Star, the largest paper in the country.

"You can fit everyone who controls significant Canadian media in my office," said Vince Carlin, chair of the School of Journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto. "This is not a healthy situation... . There is competition in the United States. There is no competition here."

Marketing Magazine, not surprisingly, focuses on the bottom line;

The Aspers' journalists and critics are doing them a big favour by warning them of the dangerous ground they're tramping on. In the long run, the commercial viability of these newspapers will diminish if they are not trusted as credible sources of unbiased news and sources of diverse opinion by readers. The Aspers should be smart enough and big enough to swallow their pride and lighten up on their micromanaging of their newspapers' editorial operations.

Of course, the fact that Journalists are petitioning the government might enter into it as well.

Damian Penny informs me that another journalist has resigned in protest bringing the total to three (or four if you count Peter Worthington as a Southam alumnus.)

The editorial takes a more moderate tone but it still doesn't make a very compelling case. I'm going to write an opinion piece and submit it. It will be an effort to moderate my normal tone of sarcasm, wish me luck.

The Globe & Mail thinks I'm off the beam. They are cheering on Chretien's new cabinet and pronouncing him a happy little PM whereas I think he looked decidedly ill at ease yesterday.

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien looked to be thoroughly enjoying himself, pleased with the way his new Deputy Prime Minister deflected the scandal questions and tickled with the ability of his new Foreign Affairs Minister to navigate the touchy issue of U.S. relations.

I think my observations are better but, then again, I wear my bias on my sleeve. What are we to make of the following construct though:

Thanks to the cabinet shuffle, the Prime Minister's biggest cabinet headaches were out of sight, if not completely out of mind.

Read; Smart, competent management by Chretien.

Mr. Gagliano was gone, preparing for his new post as ambassador to Denmark. Threats by the opposition to bring him back to answer questions at a Commons public works committee rang hollow, given that the Liberals enjoy a majority on the committee.

Read; Empty threats from impotent opposition parties.

Hedy Fry and Maria Minna, who lost their junior minister status in the recent cabinet shuffle, chose to play hooky on the first parliamentary sitting of the new year.

Hedy Fry and Maria Minna, who lost their junior minister status in the recent cabinet shuffle, chose to play hooky on the first parliamentary sitting of the new year.

No mention of Tobin or Grey

While Mr. Chrétien started 2002 with his new team in place, there were gaping holes across the floor as the Official Opposition Canadian Alliance struggles to reverse a long slide. Absent were former leader Stockwell Day, former deputy leader Grant Hill and MP Diane Ablonczy.

Three missing MP's on the Alliance bench create 'gaping holes' but five missing MP's on the government side (including 2 powerful cabinet Ministers and the Deputy PM) indicates nothing more than a new team. That's balance, folks. Of course, the Alliance is in a powerful mess but it might be wise for the leading National newspaper to refrain from gloating about it.


I caught a bit of Question Period today... Here are some highly biased impressions of some of the main players in this spring Semester of 2002.

Chretien - the more things change the more they stay the same. Bored, cranky, bitter and nervous all at the same time. Watching Chretien and his newest protégés is a little bit like watching Andy Kaufman back in his Women-wrestling days - it's fascinating and nauseating at the same time. Is he having fun out there or is he in the middle of a nervous breakdown? Chretien claims that he loves politics but, in the House, he often looks like a shoplifter sitting in a holding cell. No wonder he wants to hang out in the third world where our dollars buy him all that respect.

Manley - I suggested this morning that Manley's rep can only suffer from his proximity to Chretien and it didn't take long for that call to be vindicated. Manley suggested (twice) that repeated questions about Gagliano would be answered with citations from other Members (read opposition members) interventions with Liberal Ministers on behalf of their constituents. Day one and he's already threatening the Binder-Boy routine. He doesn't appear to relish the role the way that Boudria did but he's obviously ready to play it. Can Manley fling mud? That remains to be seen... but it sure seems that he's willing to try it out.

Speaking of Boudria, the male half of the Rat Duo didn't waste any time daring someone ( I forget who) to "say that outside!" C'mon Don, you don't open with your greatest hit. I thought an old showman like you would know better than that. Someone was asking about Boudria's promise to 'clean up Public Works' - Boudria immediately and forcefully denied saying that and challenged the rotten scoundral to repeat that in the corridor. What a shmuck.

John Reynolds - This guy just reminds me of that guy in Dilbert with 'executive hair.' He's got the demeanor and the tone of voice down pat - now please, somebody, give him something to say. Your opening question, after a six week break, ought to show a little more consideration than three repetitions of the same bloody question 'What are you going to do about the dollar?' Is there no one in that party with the ability to think on his/her feet? Give the opening questions to Jaffer - he seems to be the top three intellects in that party.

Bill Graham - I was just beginning to miss Tobin's arrogance when this newest Liberal prize took up the role of the sanctimonious twit. I can tell you right now, on the basis of three minutes exposure, this guy is a prize-winning twit who would make John Cleese proud. He practically oozes condescension and arrogance which is a surefire recipe for future laughs. If I was a member of the press gallery I'd be on this guy like a dog on a porkchop.

Anne McLellan - Seems pretty competent - actually addresses the questions put to her which is kind of refreshing.

"We'll drive off that bridge when we get to it."

The question of how Canadian soldiers would handle any prisoners they might capture in Afghanistan still needs to be clarified, Prime Minister Jean Chretien said Monday.

Just days before the first Canadian soldiers are scheduled to depart for the south Asian country, Chretien said the matter is up in the air. "There is some legal discussion on that at this moment," he said after the Liberal caucus met. "We want the international law to apply. At this moment it's a hypothetical question, we don't have any (prisoners) and our troops are not there. But we'll clarify the situation."

"We have no prisoners, we'll see when we have some."

Meanwhile, with soldiers ready to start leaving Friday, the Forces have yet to nail down the rules of engagement the troops will use in Afghanistan.

These rules basically outline when Canadians can use deadly force during their mission.

Eggleton has said they will be similar to those used by the Americans.

Those uncertainties set off alarm bells for Peter Desbarats.

He was a member of the board of inquiry which studied the ill-starred Canadian deployment to Somalia in 1992-93, during which soldiers killed several civilians, including a teenager who was tortured to death.

What an incompetent boob. At least Homer Simpson has Marge to bail him out. This guy would be funny if he weren't so dangerous; how'd you like to be a Canadian soldier operating in the field under these terms of engagement. If I'm a Canadian soldier in the field, trying to read between these fuzzy lines, I get a simple message; "prisoners = problems, no prisoners = no problems.'

I hope to God that our soldiers are under American command because there is no leadership coming from this sideshow government.

There's nothing more annoying than a Lawyer with time on his hands.

Warren Kinsella is suing the Globe & Mail for that Jan Wong lunchdate. Warren, the next time you shed your skin you should try for a thicker one.
Our fearless leaders will be returning to the House today. In preparation for the big event Jean Chretien has been beating up women, recruiting new and improved slimeball henchmen, attempting to outweasel his own underling weasels, and generally stinking up the place. Tune into question period at 2:15 this afternoon and get a glimpse of Chretien at his bloated best - the swaggering bully surrounded by his cheering cowards. UGH!

I'm starting to agree with those who think that Manley's 'promotion' is more likely to be the kiss of death. Manley enjoys a reputation for being an honest man; six months in close proximity to Chretien and his PMO flying monkeys will either destroy that reputation or destroy Manley.


I've been neglecting the hellhole and - like a good Catholic - I'm feeling guilty about it... First a couple of emails on the loonie thing;

Robin Brown writes;

As for Rick Glasel's comments about there being inefficiencies in the US
economy that have to come into play to slow down the USD, well, he's
undoubtedly right. A person running with a thirty pound weight will tire
eventually, but that will be a long time after a bunch of people caring
sixty pound weights will tire. The US keeps pulling ahead because they are
so much more efficient than Canada and the Europeans and the rest of the
world who've never bothered examining the real consequences of their ever
increasing governments.

Alan Cameron offers an explanation on why the American dollar is so incredibly strong against other currencies;

Despite some inefficiencies the U.S. economy is still the most efficient, and the most productive, in the world. Its continued growth and productivity gains continue to widen the gap. Its willingness to trade and promote economic growth throughout the rest of the world (in their very long term interests perhaps, but in the short term a major reason for a massive current account deficit) means a massive transfer in the form of investment and aid to the rest of the world. This in itself should mean their currency declines. Why then does it not?

Simple. Currency and equity markets are a constant democracy in action. We get to vote for a prime minister every five years (or sooner if he thinks he can win). Money votes every minute of every day. What it tends to vote for is good, and non-intrusive, government; a hard working people; a free market system where the rewards are retained; and, crucially, a place where investment is safe. Safe from confiscation (whether through outright theft, taxation, or nationalization), and safe from harm (crime, terrorism, etc.). The world has been voting in favour of the U.S. Who does more in the world today to reduce the confiscative effect of government, to ensure the safety of person and property (not just at home but world wide), and to promote business activity?

Our dollar has purchasing power parity value of around US$0.73. Why does it trade for just .62 when it can buy .73 worth of goods? Because the rest of the world is passing judgment - harshly in the negative. Few investors in Canada - whether investing in shares, businesses, factories, or our currency - have a time frame of one day. They are investing over time frames that span decades. If their only concern was what they could buy today, perhaps we would trade at 0.73. We trade at a substantial discount to that because the world's view of our policies and economic future is that we will continue to slide. If we are doing nothing better than the U.S. - not productivity gains, not lower taxation, not higher growth, etc. - then what are we doing to turn it around? Short answer: nothing. Long answer: US$0.62.

Investors are discounting today the effect of continuing for another decade or two on the disastrous course of the past ten or twenty years.

That seems a good explanation to me but it doesn't account for the fact that much currency trading is based on nothing more than extremely short-term thinking; not where is Canada headed 10 years out but where is the Loonie headed 3 days or 3 weeks out. I don't know how much currency trading is pure speculation. That speculation is, of course, based on something more than pure hunch but something less than pure reason; I think psychology is the underlying motivation for most of the current trading. Anyway - I keep coming back to this - if these traders were as fair-minded and wise as they are purported to be then the dollar should have been seeing some improvement over the past five years rather than the steady decline we've witnessed. Give the devil his due - Martin turned the Titanic away from the deficit iceberg 3 years ago, but the money traders are still lowering the lifeboats. The latest budget was a reversal of a (too tentative) policy of debt reduction and the latest dip likely does reflect that. But getting the fiscal house in order didn't stop the dollar's slide in any case.