Saturday, June 30, 2007

One Day to Zero Hour: Free Agency Kicks off Tomorrow

Tomorrow is judgement day for Kevin Lowe and the Oilers

Just some thoughts on hockey before tomorrow's big free-agent explosion.

With a promise to add upwards of eight to twelve new players for next season, Kevin Lowe has his work cut out for him, and his work load will only increase come Canada Day.

The Oilers have glaring needs following last year's 25th-place finish, and Lowe will have to work hard to meet them.

First off, the Oilers have seven unrestricted free agents who have the option of testing the markets: Petr Sykora, Petr Nedved, Daniel Tarnqvist, Jan Hejda, Jussi Markannen, Brad Winchester and Tobey Petersen; none of whom really warrant an urgent return ticket to Edmonton.

While Petr Sykora started the season off hot and set pace for a 40-goal season, he fizzled throughout the mid and late season, instead posting a paltry 20-goal season. While a 20 goal season is still a fairly successful season, Sykora's $3.5 million could be better spent on a player who produces throughout the entire season. Re-signing Sykora may be in the cards, but he should definitely be considered a low-priority signing.

With Shawn Horcoff, Jarret Stoll, Raffi Torres, Ales Hemsky and Joffrey Lupul returning, and Robbie Schremp and Robert Nilsson apparently ready to crack the lineup, the Oilers have few needs in terms of scoring forwards. They also have a collection of decent defensive forwards in Marty Reasoner, Ethan Moreau, and Fernando Pisani, along with a number of young prospects -- Jean-Francois Jacques, Marc-Antoine Pouliot, Kyle Brodziak, as well as Andrew Cogliano -- who could also make the team.

The Oilers could really use a good high-impact forward. A number of them are available. The lion's share of attention should be directed toward Daniel Briere, Chris Drury, Ryan Smyth, Teemu Selanne, Robert Lang, Peter Forsberg, Paul Kariya and Bill Guerin. This should take some of the pressure off Mike Peca, Nils Ekman, Mike York, Jason Blake, Scott Nichol, Radek Bonk, Jozef Sumpel, Martin Gelinas, Kyle Calder, Eric Lindros, Ladislav Nagy, Anson Carter and Vyacheslav Kozlov. Lowe could pursue any of these players -- but forget about Mike Comrie.

But what Edmonton really needs are defensemen. Fortunately, there are a number unrestricted defensemen who could really help this team out. Montreal's Sheldon Souray will be fiercely sought after. Roman Hamrlik likely won't be resigned in Calgary. Dallas' Darryl Sydor (an Edmonton native) could potentially fly under the radar, passed over in favour of Mathieu Schneider, Danny Markov, Andrei Markov, Brad Stuart, Brian Rafalski or Scott Hannan. Greg DeVries, Bryan Berard, Jiri Fischer and Tom Preissing are also available.

If Lowe goes to the well early and often enough, and negotiates aggressively enough, he should be able to secure two defensemen for his club -- that is, if he doesn't commit too much potentially unproductive time trying to secure a trade for Wade Redden. A fantastic as Redden would be as an Oiler, a trade of this magnitude would open more holes in the Oilers lineup, which Lowe may not be able to fill.

One should also keep in mind that Edmonton is one of the two choice destinations for Dick Tarnstrom as well. That should make some of Lowe's decisions much easier.

Goaltending should be a relatively simple decision: Dwayne Roloson is clearly number one, and Jeff-Drouin Deslauriers is due for a gig as a back-up goaltender. If Deslauriers takes to the NHL, he could be ready to slide right into Roloson's spot by the time Roli's four-year hitch is over.

This should be an exciting off-season for Oilers fans. Expectations are high, but Lowe just might have another summer of 2005-esque coup in his hat.

It's doublful is Oiler GM tenure could survive another sumer of 2006-esque fizzle.

CBC Highlights Potential Darkside of Dion Leadership Win

Rex Murphy shines spotlight on Liberal leadership controversy

On 28 June, 2007, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation featured a segment by Terry Milewski that underscored the discomforting relationship between Canadian politicians and extremist (often terrorist) groups.

Members of all three of Canada's political parties have been known to have their brushes with these extremist groups (the NDP's El-Farouk Khaki marched in a pro-Hezbollah demonstration, Jean Chretien was once photographed with child soldiers at a Tamil Tigers fuction, and Conservative MP Jason Kenney once addressed a rally in support of an Iranian terrorist group).

Milewski's segment underlined, in particular, a recent controversy surrounding the Liberal party, and one of its MPs seeming links to Sikh separatist groups, possibly including those responsible for the Air India bombing.

At the 2006 leadership convention, when Bob Rae gave a speech mentioning the Air India bombing, a word-of-mouth campaign was seemingly organized against him by Sikh delegates at the convention. "My wife was approached by a delegate who happened to be a Sikh, not supporting Bob Rae and not knowing who my wife was," Dosanjh explained. "He said 'well, you shouldn't vote for Bob', because Bob expressed the issue of violence about Air India in his speech."

Rae's report on Air India identified Sikh separatists as being responsible for the bombing.

"It baffles me that you have delegates on the floor of a major political party (to which I belong) who do not want a reference to Air India in a candidate's speech," Dosanjh added.

When Gerard Kennedy lent his support to Stephane Dion, many analysts credited Mississauga-Brampton South MP Navdeep Singh Bains for putting the new Dion/Kennedy coalition over the top with the 250 Sikh delegates he had under his influence.

When Dion lead the Liberals in opposition to renewing the anti-terror act, this raised serious questions about Bains' father in law, Darshan Singh Saini, who was a potential witness to be called before a judicial investigative hearing being sheduled by the RCMP.

When the Liberals led the opposition parties in defeat of the anti-terror act provisions that allowed for such hearings, RCMP deputy commissioner Gary Bass announced, "while I do not dispute that the vote on this critical issue involved perhaps valid considerations beyond the Air India investigation, without a doubt, it represents a serious and damaging blow to the interests of the families in this case."

"The interests of the families in this case" being finding important answers regarding the bombing.

The Liberals insisted that Prime Minister Stephen Harper was "smearing" Bains. Stephane Dion insisted that his actions hadn't damaged the investigation at all. Yet, his actions also allow Darshan Singh Saini -- a former spokesman for Babba Khalsa Panthak, a Sikh terrorist group -- to refuse to testify at any Air India inquiry.

In fairness, it should be considered that Saini -- and Bains -- might have nothing at all to hide. Yet, Canadians are still waiting for definitive answers more than 22 years after the most deadly terror attack in Canada's history.

The opposition of Dion -- who won the Liberal leadership with significant support from Bains -- to the anti-terror act (which protects Saini, Bains' father-in-law) may be entirely coincidental. Unfortunately, because Saini cannot be compelled to testify at any type of hearing, and seems unlikely to testify voluntarily, Canadians can never truly be certain.

And while all of Canada's political parties have, from time to time, cozied up to extremist groups in exchange for political support (one has to especially wonder about support for Sikh separatists despite most of Canada's opposition to Quebecois separatists), the controversy circling Stephane Dion, Navdeep Singh Bains, Darshan Singh Saini and the anti-terror act stand as one of the few examples where such relationships have impacted public policy.

Without such answers, this controversy could be relegated to being one of the unsolved mysteries of Canadian politics.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

100 Things to Improve Canada #2

#2 - Constitutional Reform
Patrick Ross

The truth is, Canada is a country originating from not one, but two foundations.

The first stemmed from the 1867 British North America act, wherein Upper Canada (Ontario), Lower Canada (Quebec), New Brunswick and Nova Scotia established the country as a marriage between these four provinces. Over the following 130 years, that family would be expanded with the addition of eight provinces and three territories.

Post-Confederation Canada would prove preoccupied with various challenges: the conciliation between federal and provincial powers, the debate over the roles of English and French Canada, as well as various controversies over the place of Aboriginals within Canada.

For many Canadians, the foremost problem with Canada was that its constitution remained an act of British parliament. Pierre Trudeau seemingly fell into this category, and in 1982 he repatriated the Constitution, re-founding the country based on principles established by decades of constantly evolving Canadian values, originally legally enshrined by John Diefenbaker. Trudeau entrenched Diefenbaker’s Bill of Rights in the new Constitution.

Yet, Trudeau’s single-minded determination to patriate the Canadian constitution on his own terms led to an incomplete Constitutional family, as Quebec refused to sign onto the new constitution following the infamous “night of the long knives”. Also left out of the new constitution were Canada’s aboriginal peoples, who would manage to get self-government concessions out of the government, but yet in many ways would essentially remain wards of the state.

In short, the repatriated British North America Act 1982 not only failed to resolve the constitutional divides pre-dating the new constitution, but would also leave Quebec effectively constitutionally outside the country, yet locked within it by way of the 1867 agreement.

During the American civil war, president Abraham Lincoln intoned that “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. Yet, 25 years after this re-founding of the country, Canada remains not only a house often divided against itself, but a house built on an incomplete foundation.

This house cannot stand indefinitely.

While some Canadians have advocated solutions that essentially require tearing the Canadian house to the ground the rebuilding it, it remains a matter of debate whether or not this is necessary. Reform doesn’t demand a radical reconstruction of the country, only a more amicable alteration to current affairs.

A reformed constitution essentially requires the solution of Canada’s three major historical dilemmas: the place of Aboriginal Canadians, the relationship between Ontario and Quebec and the nature of Canada’s lingual policies.

Canada would best resolve the difficulties posed by the current status of Aboriginals by reorganizing their place within confederation. Canada’s six treaty areas should be reorganized into defacto provinces, each with the power to set laws within reserves, power of taxation over its residents, and powers to set policy over areas of provincial jurisdiction.

The department of Indian affairs would need to be abolished, and its funding could instead be directed toward transfer payments.

Most importantly, Canada’s aboriginals would be able to embrace Canadian citizenship and a place in confederation in dignity, with their demands for self-government essentially met.

Reconciling Quebec’s demands could prove more difficult. Quebec has historically had numerous demands, most of them driven by concerns over political and cultural autonomy. Yet, Quebec is also a rapidly diversifying province, one of the most popular destinations for incoming immigrants. As such, the presumption of francophone and (post-1960) Quebecois cultural dominance can be called into question. Even if Quebec isn’t assimilating into anglophone Canada, many immigrant groups in Quebec aren’t assimilating into francophone Quebec culture.

Brian Mulroney came closest to satisfying Quebec’s demands with the “distinct society” clause of his failed Meech Lake accord. This idea, however, was categorically rejected by the rest of Canada.

Yet, Quebec clearly is a distinct society. This being said, so is Atlantic Canada. So is Ontario, the prairie provinces, British Columbia and the Territories. Any recognition of Quebec’s distinctiveness must recognize the distinctiveness of these regions as well. Furthermore, any cultural powers ceded to Quebec would have to be ceded to Canada’s other regions, and any political powers ceded would also have to be ceded to the other provinces.

Another facet of the Quebec difficulty is Canada’s lingual nature. Since 1982, official bilingualism has been entrenched in the Constitution. Yet, Canada has many more lingual groups other than simply English and French. Replacing official bilingualism with official multilingualism, wherein federal government services could be provided in any language appropriate to the region.

Most importantly, any renegotiation of the Canadian constitution must be fair to all Canadians. Not only the needs of present Canadians must be balanced against the traditions of the past, but the interests and needs of future Canadians – both naturally-born and via immigration – must be addressed as well.

Opening the Canadian constitution is politically risky, and negotiating a new agreement would be intensely difficult, but it will be necessary if we as Canadians are to build a better Canada.

#1 - Teaching History by Kevin Millard

Anne Coulter & Her "Freedom of Speech" Get Pwned by Elizabeth Edwards

Coulter provides meagre defense for her vicious attacks

Perhaps the sole endearing quality about Anne Coulter is that, whenever she makes a ridiculous comment, as she is prone to do, the controversy never percolates quietly. Her humiliation has become almost permanently a part of the public discourse.

Anne Coulter crossed an interesting line in a recent appearance on MSNBC's Hardball, Coulter fell prey to one her own ridiculous comments, when Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of presidential nominee John Edwards, called in to confront her.

The matter dealt with comments that Coulter recently made about John Edwards on June 25, 2007 (thanks to Good Morning America, we can even identify the exact time -- 7:34 AM), when she said, "I've learned my lesson. If I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he'd been killed in a terrorist assassination plot."

What the ears may doubt the eyes must believe -- she even said it with a smile on her face!

This all led to the infamous call-in, arranged ahead of time by Elizabeth Edwards.

Chris Matthews: You know who's on the line? Somebody to respond to what you said Edwards yesterday morning -- Elizabeth Edwards. She wanted to call in today we said she could. Elizabeth Edwards go on the line you're on the line with Ann Coulter

Elizabeth Edwards: Hello, Chris.

CM: You wanna say something directly to the person who's with me?

EE: I'm calling you … in the south when we -- when someone does something that displeases us, we wanna ask them politely to stop doing it. Uh - I'd like to ask Ann Coulter -- if she wants to debate on issues, on positions -- we certainly disagree with nearly everything she said on your show today -- um but uh it's quite another matter for these personal attacks that the things she has said over the years not just about John but about other candidates -- it lowers our political dialogue precisely at the time that we need to raise it. So I want to use the opportunity … to ask her politely stop the personal attacks.

Ann Coulter: OK, so I made a joke -- let's see six months ago -- and as you point out they've been raising money off of it for six months since then.

Coulter, in her rather charming arrogance, must have suspected that Edwards was referring to the infamous "faggot" remark she uttered.

Now, Coulter's first impulse was, apparently, to lie.

CM: This is yesterday morning, what you said about him.

AC: I didn't say anything about him actually either time.

EE: Ann, you know that's not true. And once more its been going on for sometime.

Coulter has been shown to have a tendency to try and redirect and dissemble when challenged about her comments. This time she chose John Edwards' alleged $50,000 speech to an anti-poverty group, and John Edwards' use of her "faggot" comment to raise funds on his website. Both of these are actually fair game. But what eventually emerged as the heart of the matter is absolutely not.

AC: I don't mind you trying to raise money. I mean it's better this than giving $50,000 speeches to the poor.

EE: I'm asking you

AC: Just to use my name on the Web pages…

EE: I'm asking you politely…

AC: … but as for a debate with me, um yeah, sure. Yeah, we'll have a debate

EE: I'm asking you politely to stop personal attacks.

AC: How bout you stop raising money on the Web page then?

EE: It didn't start it did not

AC: No you don't have cause I don't mind

When Coulter's ugliest and most vicious comments started to come to light, however, Coulter quickly referred to her top rhetorical tactic. She complained that her freedom of speech was being impugned.

EE: It did not start with that you had a column a number of years ago

AC: OK, great the wife of a presidential candidate is calling in asking me to stop speaking

CM: Let her finish the point...

AC: You're asking me to stop speaking stop writing your columns, stop writing your books.

CM: OK, Ann. Please.

Coulter must know her own work very well, and known what was coming. So she put up her "freedom of speech shields" to try and deflect what was about to be directed at her, talking over Elizabeth Edwards while she did so. What did she want to prevent Edwards from saying?


EE: You wrote a column a couple years ago which made fun of the moment of Charlie Dean's death, and suggested that my husband had a bumper sticker on the back of his car that said ask me about my dead son. This is not legitimate political dialogue.

The truth was out. How as Coulter going to defend herself?

AC: That's now three years ago

EE: It debases political dialogue. It drives people away from the process. We can't have a debate about issues if you're using this kind of language.

AC: Yeah why isn't John Edwards making this call?

When challenged about what may be the most vicious comments in the career of a woman who has built her entire career on vicious, hateful comments, Coulter responded by trying to envoke a non-existent metaphorical statute of limitations, then by challenging the manhood of Edwards the nominee.

Edwards the wife explained,

EE: I haven't talked to John about this call.

Coulter then once again resorted to trying to talk over her opponent. This time, however, her opponent was louder.

AC: This is just another attempt for –

EE: I'm making this call as a mother. I'm the mother of that boy who died. My children participate -- these young people behind you are the age of my children. You're asking them to participate in a dialogue that's based on hatefulness and ugliness instead of on the issues and I don't think that's serving them or this country very well.

The applause that followed told the tale: Anne Coulter had just been destroyed -- on national television -- by Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of (as Coulter once entoned) a "faggot".

CM: Thank you very much Elizabeth Edwards. Do you want to -- you have all the time in the world to respond.

AC: I think we heard all we need to hear. The wife of a presidential candidate is asking me to stop speaking. No.

So, when finally bested in one-on-one debate, Coulter shamelessly resorted to the freedom of speech sheild.

In times such as these, Coulter is well-known to blame her plight on "evil liberals". But perhaps she would be surprised to learn that her own patented "criticizing me is violating my freedom of speech" defense has also been mastered by a Canadian individual who would call himself a liberal: 9/11 celebrator Kevin Potvin.

When Coulter was called to task about her "faggot" remark, she claimed it was a joke. When Coulter was confronted over her callous and vicious remarks regarding the death of Charlie Dean Edwards, she complained it was three years ago. When she's criticized, she claims she's being "censored".

When Kevin Potvin was called to task for his 9/11 remarks, he claimed they were symbollic. When his critics quoted him, Potvin claimed he was somehow being libelled. When he was criticized, he claimed he was being "censored".

So, there you have it. Anne Coulter and Kevin Potvin: cut from the same cloth. In his defense, at least Potvin doesn't wish death upon political opponents; he just doesn't care when innocent people die. Likewise, Coulter doesn't care when the son of a political opponent dies; For her, that's just another opportunity for a vicious, hateful attack.

Anne Coulter can brandish her freedom of speech all she wants. But so can Elizabeth Edwards, and in a brilliant move, Edwards has used her freedom of speech to force Anne Coulter to be confronted with her own comments.

Not that Edwards can force Coulter to take responsibility for them. Only Coulter can do that, and unfortunately she refuses.

But if the "esteemed" Anne Coulter happens to be reading this article -- and since it's easy to imagine herself as a committed self-Googler, it's entirely possible -- allow the point to be made. Elizabeth Edwards isn't asking you not to speak: a growing legion of both liberals and conservatives (world wide) are. You've abused your freedom of speech enough. Now it's time for you to learn a sense of responsibility.

Kindly shut up.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Stephane Dion Turns Up the Slander

Dion makes potentially libelous accusation

As it often seems to in Canada, the mainstream media has allowed a potentially big story to slip through its fingers.

Yesterday, on CTV's Mike Duffy Live, Liberal leader Stephane Dion addressed rumours that banished former Liberal MP Joe Comuzzi would join the Conservative party. He suggested that Comuzzi, who broke ranks with the Liberal party over the recent federal budget, should be investigated for selling his seat to the Conservatives.

That's an extremely strong accusation. And despite Gerard Kennedy's later reluctance to either stand by his leader's accusation or distance himself from it, it does raise many interesting questions about Dion as a leader.

During the same interview, Dion also addressed his refusal to allow his MPs to vote in the interests of their ridings, as opposed to his willingness to allow his senators to do precisely that.

Comuzzi told Dion he would vote in favour of the budget due to its support of Thunder Bay's Molecular Medicine Research Centre. Before even having voted so, Comuzzi was expelled from the Liberal caucus (he didn't leave his party, as the 23 June CTV story falsely indicates).

Yet Dion defended his decision to allow Liberal senators to vote their conscience on the budget (which passed, necessitating support of Prime Minster Stephen Harper's allegedly "bad" budget from Liberal senators) under the following rationale: Parliament can defeat the government; The Senate can't.

In one interview, Dion admitted that his expulsion of Comuzzi was more about Dion's desire to defeat a confidence motion in the house than his support of a budget that Dion pledged to oppose before he had even seen it.

He then followed this up by flinging a very serious accusation at Comuzzi, one that will prove to be libelous if Comuzzi continues to sit as an MP, as opposed to resigning so that another individual may run for his seat.

Even then, could Dion's accusation also be applied to Belinda Stronach? Garth Turner? Wajid Kahn? David Emerson? Former Conservative MP (now independent) Bill Casey was also wrongfully expelled from his caucus over the budget. If he defects to the Liberals -- and certainly Dion would be chomping at the bit to have him -- would he also be "selling his seat"?

Dion has opened two very dangerous cans of worms -- one that proves that party unity means far less to him than his single-minded desire to become Prime Minister, and another that proves that, despite his claims that he is a "gentleman", he is willing to say absolutely anything to gain an edge for himself, no how ungentlemanly his comments may be.

With a slanderous approach such as this, it's no wonder that so few Canadians want Dion to be Prime Minister. If the mainstream media -- particularly CTV, which is doing a disappointing job of reporting comments made on its own telecast -- were bringing such things to the attention of Canadians, it's likely that fewer still could stomach the thought.

UPDATE: Comuzzi has officially joined the Conservative party caucus.

Monday, June 25, 2007

R.I.P. Chris Benoit : 1967-2007

Canadian WWE performer and two time world heavyweight champion Chris Benoit, his son Daniel and his wife Nancy were found dead in their Atlanta, Georgia home earlier today.

Benoit, the most decorated performer in the history of professional wrestling, having held nearly every championship contested. Speculation placed Benoit to add yet another title to his collection at the WWE's most recent pay per view. However, his absense had been described as due to "personal reasons".

According to the Fayette County Sheriff's Department, "instruments of death" were found at the scene. Early reports indicate that the deaths have been ruled a double-murder suicide.

Chris Benoit was a true Canadian hero. I extend my condolences to all members of Benoit's family, as well as to all his fellow fans.

God bless you, mr Benoit. May you rest in peace.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

This Weekend in Farce: Vancouver 9/11 Truth Conference

"Truth" likely to be in short supply at 9/11 conference

Somewhere in East Vancouver, Kevin Potvin is surely knee-deep in his own glee.

Starting yesterday, and continuing until tomorrow, the Vancouver 9/11 Truth Society is hosting a 9/11 Truth Conference.

Dr. Steven Jones -- pushing the envelope of credulity

Among the speakers at the conference is Doctor Steven Jones, a retired professor from Brigham Young University (an institution owned by the Church of Jesus Christ for Latter-Day Saints -- also known as the Mormons), who will claim that the official 9/11 report cannot explain that collapse of the World Trade Center. Dr Jones, whose specialties include "metal-catalyzed fuision, archaeometry and solar energy", claims the only way to explain how a pair of 110-story skyscrapers could collapse as they did is that they were demolished by pre-set explosive charges, as used by demolitions experts.

According to Dr Jones, the 650 degree celsius temperature generated by the fires from burning jet fuel from the two airliners would have not been enough to melt the steel girders of the two buildings. He also argues that, historically, when such buildings have collapsed (most often as a result of earthquakes) they have always toppled over sideways.

Dr. Jones even claims he can identify microexplosions, where thermite demolition devices are being detonated sequentially as the building collapses.

However, Dr. Jones' "peer-reviewed work" quickly falls into credibility pitfalls. For example, his work is consistently touted as peer-reviewed -- but it was never peer-reviewed by a civil engineer. He is noted to have no experience in building collapse forensics. Even his own university rejected his paper. Dr. Woodruff Miller, BYU's chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering said, "the structural engineering professors in our department are not in agreement with the claims made by Dr. Jones in his paper, and they don't think there is accuracy and validity to these claims."

Dr. Jones' "peer-reviewed work" was not even peer reviewed by the engineers at his own university. Perhaps there's some sort of "consipracy" at work here, too.

Dr. Jones' claims rely on skepticism regarding the alleged "pancake effect" where the floors fall neatly into each other at freefall speed, as in a professional demolition. For evidence of this, he relies on video footage. Yet, when the video footage is more closely examined, it becomes ovbious that this "pancake effect" never truly occurred. Much of the debris fell faster than the debris cloud, which fell faster still than the building itself. Dr. Jones' primary argument holds no credibility.

Not only are Dr. Jones claims refuted by examining the video footage which he, himself, uses to try to refute the official story, but they are also refuted by virtually every legitimately peer-reviewed study on the subject.

Even then, Dr. Jones' claims suffer from one fatal flaw: demolitions charges need to be set up before they can be used to demolish a building. Yet, no one working in the World Trade Center reported seeing anyone setting up such charges. Not one.

So much for Dr. Jones.

Robin Hordon and the politics of the 9/11 truth movement

Another speaker at the Vancouver 9/11 Truth Conference, Robin Hordon, describes himself as a commendated air traffic controller, certified air, ground and facility instructor and designer of the Boston Center Descent and Metering Program. He has worked on numerous in-air emergencies, and two hijackings.

Hordon insists that he knew 9/11 was a "false flag" operation (an attack carried out under the guise of another country or group) hours after. He insists that "there is absolutely no way that four large commercial airliners could have flown off course for 30 to 60 minutes on 9/11 without being intercepted and shot out of the sky by our jet fighters unless very highly placed people in our government and our military wanted it to happen."

Despite the fact that no hijacked plane in the history of the United States has ever been shot down, Hordon does begin to make a persuasive case. He notes that a sophisticated system was in place, prior to June of 2001, that would enable fighter jets to intercept any suspicious airliner within 10-15 minutes of a potential problem.

Yet Hordon's claims over look two very serious issues: firstly, a number of war game exercises were being conducted on September 11, 2001, diverting figher jets that otherwise would have been available to intercept the jetliners. Secondly, the FAA was not dealing with one hijacking on 9/11. They were dealing with four largely simultaneous hijackings.

Hordon is actually much more revealling as to his true motivations for his claims when he begins to discuss his political views. "I see September 11th as being a symptom of a far bigger problem. A problem that Dwight David Eisenhower had brought to our attention as he left office in the 1950s when he he warned [the United States] about two significant elements of our economy looming above us: the Military Industrial Complex and the Military Industrial Congress. 9/11 served the goals of both those elements."

"That I can show how Rumsfeld's Military reshaped interceptor protocols so that 9/11 could happen without the airliners being shot from the sky, is but a small bit of evidence that is flooding past the Bush regime," Hordon insists.

Yet, Hordon is exaggerating the Pentagon's eagerness to shoot down hijacked airliners, particularly when full of civilians. Despite the 75-150 high-speed scrambles he notes were performed by military aircraft each year in the United States for ten years, not a single plane was ever shot down. Surely, at least one of these 1,500 scrambles would have been related to a plane off course for at least 30-60 minutes.

Finally, there is the matter of shooting down civilian airliners over populated areas, such as New York City. When examined on merely the basis of the procedures in place to deal with hijacked aircraft, Hordon's claims are very persuasive. When compared to the actual situation on 9/11, they don't hold water.

Furthermore, it isn't as if events such as those surrounding Hurricane Katrina don't demonstrate that the proper procedures can fail when human error causes them to be disregarded.

Like any good 9/11 conspiracy theorist, however, Hordon doesn't seem to let facts or even proper analysis get in the way of politics. While shooting down flights 11 and 175 could have prevented the World Trade Center disaster, it still would have resulted in thousands of casualties. The decision to shoot down the planes would have also had to have been made at a time when the applicable authorities couldn't have known the true goal of the hijackers.

Certainly, there is a degree of negligence in the FAA's handling of 9/11. But negligence doesn't demonstrate complicity, and certainly not in the conspiracy that Hordon and his cohorts allege.

In short, Hordon has traded his air traffic controller's hat for that of a base conspiracy theorist, and surrendered his credibility for activist cred. It isn't as good a fit as he'd like to think.

Rowland Morgan - Contradicting the conspiracy

Among one of the most amusing claims about 9/11 is made by British author Rowland Morgan, who will be speaking at the conference as well. Morgan actually claims that a drone Boeing 747, painted with American Airlines colours, was flown into the Pentagon.

This is an especially amusing claim considering that it contradicts one of the most popular 9/11 conspiracy theories, one that insists a missile, not a jetliner, hit the Pentagon.

He, along with his co-author Ian Henshall (who together wrote 9/11 Revealled) make this claim despite the positive identification of all 64 passengers & crew of the downed aircraft.

Rowland will also speak to his claims that United Airlines flight 93 (crashed in Pennsylvania) was actually shot down, as opposed to being accidentally crashed in the process of re-taking the plane from the hijackers. This, despite the number of family members of UA 93 victims who reported that their loved ones had told them of their intention to re-take the plane, and the lack of any confirmation of orders to shoot down the plane.

Remember also that one of Robin Hordon's complaints is the lack of any such order (an absense he feels lends credence to conspiracy theories).

This demonstrates the greatest weakness shared by the entire "9/11 truth movement" -- a myriad of competing, contradictory, and usually far-fetched claims about an event that unfortunately lends itself to shameless sensationalism.

The conference will also feature a collection of social and political commentators, whose area of expertise is related to the consequences of 9/11. This is a much fairer point. There is a litany of concerns shared by citizens of many countries the world over, ranging from US President George W Bush and his War on Terror to the errosion of civil liberties in many countries around the world -- particularly western democracies that are under threat of further attack.

Consider also that an order to shoot down a hijacked airliner is much more likely to be issued today, in the post-9/11 era, than six years ago.

These speakers, such as Ken Fernandez and Connie Fogal, have much more solid ground to stand on. At least they don't need to resort to trying to contradict facts, hide contradictory evidence, or (often) engage in often-vicious anti-semitic rhetoric or counter-factual arguments in order to make their case.

There is a great deal of room to debate the consequences of 9/11. The actual events? Not so much.

The fact is that all too many 9/11 consipracy theorists make it immediately apparent that they don't exactly represent the best and brightest our civilization has to offer. Take, for example, Youtube denizen Dadabase 2006, who posted a video in which he makes the suggestion that people should vote for the embattled Potvin based on his beliefs regarding 9/11 -- essentially turning a Canadian federal election into a referendum on 9/11.

"Dadabase", as well as his bestest-buddy Kevin Potvin, will most certainly be sitting front-and-center throughout this (mostly) perverse conference in Vancouver.

Fortunately, the public at large is more than able to identify these individuals for what they are: politically deranged kooks, looking to distort one of history's greatest tragedies into fodder for their own extreme political views.

In that sense, they really aren't that much different from Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his guests at the Holocaust denial conference in Tehran. Whomever may actually show up to attend their conference, one thing is certain: their minds are made up, and any conclusions drawn from the Vancouver 9/11 Truth Conference will reflect their predecided conclusions.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Green Party Behind Times on Nuclear Power

Outdated ideology preventing the embrace of most viable climate change solution

By perusing the Canadian Green Party's website, one thing quickly becomes apparent: they support the Kyoto Protocol, almost to the point of obsession. Yet, what also becomes apparent is that the Green party lacks the one thing that is most crucial to implimenting Kyoto successfully: a viable energy alternative to fossil fuels.

In the western world, we have known these alternatives exist for a long time. Yet, the Green party stringently opposes the one alternative energy source that could concievably entirely supplant fossil fuels: nuclear energy.

"Climate change [came] along and transformed nuclear power from a total bad guy into a total good guy in terms of carbon-dioxide emissions," says Stewart Brand, the environmentalist author of The Whole Earth Catalogue (one of the most important publications in the historty of the environmental movement).

It seems the Green Party of Canada is sadly behind the times in terms of their opposition to nuclear power. In two recent press releases, the Greens pontificate against nuclear power. In one release , the party announced that Elizabeth May had called for a moritorium on nuclear power development, claiming that levels of tritium, a radioactive isotope generated by nuclear fuel, makes living within 10 km of nuclear plants potentially dangerous.

In other words, May is calling for a stall on developing nuclear energy facilities, while at the same time promoting policy that requires drastic reductions in fossil fuel consumption. The fact that reducing fossil fuel consumption is actually a good idea aside, how does May presume Canadians will get their energy from, considering that solar and wind energy are too expensive and unreliable, and hydro electricity not available nationwide?

In the other release, the party raises the issue of waste disposal, claiming that burial of nuclear waste is "not safe, not long-term."

Yet, burying nuclear waste is precisely what is done in France. According to environmentalist James Lovelock, French reactor waste is encased in glass, packed in stainless steel containers, then buried. Lovelock took readings at a burial site, and found that they represtented scarely one twentieth of the radiation generated by a single passenger plane.

According to Brand, romanticism overwhelms trust in science for many environmentalists. "A feeling with nature is profound and engenders heartfelt emotion and action that has a quasi-religious quality to it."

"They'll probably never admit to mistakes," Brand explains of romanticist environmentalists. "Whereas the best scientists will -- it's what science is."

"Antinuclear positions get posed in an absolute way, usually with the argument 'this is not natural. We humans don't really know what we're doing, and we'll unleash forces that will surprise us in terrible ways'," Brand explains.

Brand and Lovelock are not alone in their advocacy of nuclear energy. Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, has also identified nuclear energy as having the potential to help prevent (or at least reduce the intensity of) climate change.

These are not merely individuals who are environmentalists: they are individuals who helped craft the environmentalist agenda, including the initial opposition to nuclear energy, often for precisely the same reason sited by Brand: a romanticism-driven fear of nuclear holocaust.

Even while the environmental movement moves to cannibalize these progenitors, the quandry raised by the about-face in attitude toward nuclear power by these individuals cannot be ignored.

If they are willing to change their attitudes toward nuclear energy, certainly Elizabeth May and the Green Party can, too. Whether or not they are willing to is a bigger question.

They may want to keep in mind that the solution to climate change they so desire probably depends on it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Conservative Party Wants To Go Fast

New twist on "horse race" model of politics

In a new effort to reach potential supporters, the governing Conservative Party of Canada is off to the races.

In an unconventional move, the party has sponsored the #29 car of Pierre Borque, the owner and operator of Bourque Newswatch, a website that sells favourable headlines to politicians. The Conservative party has reportedly been a client.

The Tories are seemingly using this move to pursue the "Nascar dads", a predominantly middle-class market.

While it could give them a unique edge, the Tories' latest move is also fairly boneheaded, and could quite easily be classified as a blunder.

First off, sponsoring a car on the NASCAR Canadian Tire circuit (the re-named and re-launched CASCAR, which was bought out by NASCAR last year) doesn't even constitute effective political advertising. Politics works most effectively when a message is involved. While sponsoring a stock car may expose the Conservative party to potential voters, it gives them no idea as to why they should vote for the party.

By making a move such as this, the party is clearly relying on a mere exposure effect. While potentially effective, this does unfortunately make for rather fickle politics. Sponsoring a stock car doesn't necessarily mean that you relate to this particular block of voters any more than your political opponents, and it's hard to print a party's entire platform on the hood of a car travelling around an ashphalt track at 170 miles per hour and still make it legible to the spectator.

Beyond the basic strategic issues surrounding the move, there is also the criticism that this has -- and will continue -- to draw from the environmental movement. With climate change occupying the central position in the environmentalist agenda, sponsoring motorsports -- which spew tons of CO2 into the atmosphere in what many may consider to be a rather frivolous activitiy -- only alienates Canadians who are concerned about climate change. All this in the name of pursuing the "NASCAR dads" -- a market that it's pretty safe to say the Conservatives have all sewn up.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May could have it right (for a change) when she suggests that "there is more money than sense in the Conservative party right now."

The Conservative party needs to go back to the drawing board, produce some new ideas, and focus on getting its message out. That will have a much greater impact on their recent slinking polls.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Senate Reform is Liberal Party's Rubicon

Liberal senators unknowingly making strongest case for senate reform

On June 6, the Liberal party's senators won a small victory in their battle against senate reform, when they used their red chamber majority to vote in favour of relegating the Conservative government's term limits bill to review by the Supreme Court of Canada. The senate legal and constitutional affairs committee recommended that the bill be shelved indefinitely.

The Liberal party's blockade of Bill S-4 recently exceeded a full year.

The Liberal senators, and their party leader, Stephane Dion (who is allegedly in favour of senate reform), insist that any move to impose term limits on senators must be cleared with the provinces in order to be constitutional.

Yet since winning this small victory, these same Liberal senators have gone out of their way to demonstrate why senate reform, including of the variety proposed by the Conservatives, is so necessary in Canada.

This past week, the Conservatives and the Bloc Quebecois combined their numbers in the house to pass the 2007/08 federal budget, amidst narrowly founded complaints by Nova Scotia and Newfoundland that the Atlantic accord is being violated, and entirely unfounded complaints by Saskatchewan that promises to premier Lorne Calvert are being broken.

Yet, Liberal senators are promising to stonewall the budget in the upper chamber.

This entire situation puts Canada on the brink of a possible constitutional crisis -- one wherein an unelected body may essentially overrule Canada's elected representatives, and essentially force an election by rejecting a federal budget, which is unquestionably a confidence motion.

While under other minority government positions this could prove to be a boon for the opposition, recent polls have found that only 20 per cent of Canadians want Dion to become Prime Minister, and a whopping 52 per cent flat-out don't want him to be Prime Minister.

Unless the Liberals could pull off a 1979-esque Trudeau miracle, it's likely that Dion's leadership could sink their party in an upcoming election.

So naturally, Dion with his single-minded desire to be Prime Minister, doesn't want an election. This has led him to conflict with his own senators. He insists that the budget is now "the law".

The Tories have argued that the senate is "duty-bound" to approve the budget. The budget may be one of the few instances where the senate is bound by duty to approve an act of parliament. The powers of the budget, in many ways, reflects the agenda-setting powers of parliament. For the senate to reject the budget would essentially be an attempt to usurp this agenda-setting power, effectively wresting the arm of legislative government away from the democratic, elected parliament, and into the aristocratic, unelected senate.

In essence, the conflict over the budget allows the Liberals to act as if they are governing from the senate while they are actually in opposition in parliament. This has obvious constitutional implications.

Of course, one has to wonder what would happen to the Liberal's majority in the red chamber if eight-year term limits were imposed. It's unlikely that the Liberal party -- Canada's so-called "natural governing party" -- would be able to maintain an indefinite majority in the senate if their senators were shown the door after eight years.

If term limits for senators were coupled with federal legislation obligating the federal government to appoint any senators elected by provinces, and the Liberal ability to maintain dominance in the senate is severely threatened. Even while governing, they wouldn't be able to appoint exclusively Liberals to the senate under these conditions. Thus the quiet revelations found in Dion's comments regarding the appointment of elected Senator Bert Brown. Dion said he was "not sure if the Prime Minister chose the best person."

Perhaps Dion would have been happy if Prime Minister Harper had chosen someone unelected, as was the obvious tendency under the Liberal party.

This all puts Dion in a tenuous position: he is the leader of the Liberal party, yet his senators won't follow his lead, and are putting him at risk of an election that he won't likely win. He claims that he is in favour of senate reform, yet has done nothing to promote it, and has opposed it at every turn.

This budget crisis will prove to be an important litmus test for Dion. Either he has the power to rein in his senators, or he doesn't. Either he supports senate reform, or he doesn't. Either he is a leader, or he isn't.

It could prove to be the defining moment in his tenure as leader of the Liberal party. If he can't maintain order and control within his own party, the Liberals may be in search of a new leader sooner than many party members expected.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Kevin Potvin Cries Over Hate Mail, Blames "Evil Corporate Media"

Quelle Suprise!

For anyone who thought the tiresome Kevin Potvin self-inflicted debacle were over, guess again.

Mr Potvin has found a new way to pout about his plight. In the most recent issue of his Republic of East Vancouver, Potvin's most recent editorial once again blames his troubles on the journalists who had the utter nerve to cover the story of the controversy surrounding his 9/11 comments -- this time, he blames them for the death threats he recieved.

Dedicating the article to his detractors, Potvin quotes the various death threats he recieved during his self-inflicted ordeal.

Here are some exerpts, as provided by Kevin Potvin.

"One four meter-on-a-side 2,000 kilogram plate plummeting down from a height of five meters to land squarely on your wretched carcass would indeed be a thing of beauty. The thin gruel ejecta that was you squishing out from all sides would leave a splatter that would be breathtaking in its beauty. I'd settle for a gas truck though. That way you'd get to taste your own bile before your essence drains away, forever making the world a better place by your absence. Disgusting filth.”

Certainly, this is a little much. It hardly qualifies as a death threat, though. Interestingly, this individual would feel the same way about Kevin Potvin's death as he felt about 9/11 (which, as everyone knows, involved the deaths of thousands).

“You share a common fate with the terrorist slime you liberal gutter swill. Heading for a late term abortion, are you?”

A person would have to wonder what this person thinks to be Potvin's greater offense: writing what he wrote about 9/11, or being a liberal? All the same, as far as hateful vitriol goes, this is a real gem.

“You said it bro, and someone will kill you for it, you stupid inconsiderate prick. How can you be so dumb? Oh well, you will get what you deserve asshole.”

Once again, there doesn't really seem to be much of a death threat here. Not so much of a "[I'm going to kill you] you stupid inconsiderate prick", as a "someone will kill you for it".

“It would be terribly sad if a fringe nut like you was in any way associated with the Green Party. I hope an airplane slams into you and your family ;)”

While it's certainly disturbing that this could be typed by another human being, this doesn't constitute a death threat. Merely a hope that what was suffered by the thousands who died on 9/11 may in turn be suffered by mr Potvin. An expressed that it would be beautiful, if you will.

“You are a despicable human being . . . I wish you were in the towers.”

Fair enough. A lot of people share the opinion that Kevin Potvin is a despicable human being. And he probably wouldn't have minded being in the towers, either. 9/11 was Beautiful, you see.

“What comes around goes around and you my friend will end up in Hell.”

Apparent belief in Karma aside, only god can decide if mr Potvin "will end up in hell".

“You are a revolting slime-ball for publishing this trash Kevin. Hopefully you and your ilk will never make it anywhere near Parliament.”

Once again, a lot of people share the opinion that Potvin is a revolting slime ball. Also, most Canadians share the hope that Kevin and his ilk will never make it anywhere near Parliament.

“I hope Mr Potvin dies the same way the Great Americans did in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. What a slap in the face, but what can you expect from idiot liberals.

Once again, the hostility toward liberals in general is a little disturbing. Aside from that, there isn't much of a death threat hear. Merely a hope that mr Potvin will share the "symbolic" deaths of the victims of the attacks he thought were "beautiful".

“God Bless America and we’ll defeat the Muslim bastards in the name of Jesus Christ. If I were you I would not come to the USA, a big building might fall on you. Eat shit and Die.”

Here a disturbing general hostility toward liberals is swapped for a disturbing general hostility toward Muslims. Also, that isn't a death threat, it's more of an instruction to die, and advice on how.

“I will not say ‘you should be ashamed’ because clearly you were brought up by hyenas in the desert and you don't know this.”

Mr Potvin wrote an article about how 9/11 was "beautiful", then tried to claim he was being "symbolic". Shame must be a foreign concept to him.

“I'm an American. I'm way older than you are. If I ever come face to face with you, I will administer the whupping your Mama would have given you if she'd had opposable thumbs.”

That is actually a threat. Notice the subtle nuance? The "I will" substituted for variations on "someone should" or "I hope"? That's a threat, any day of the week, and quite unacceptable.

“A special place in hell awaits you. You claim to want peace, yet your heart is so callous you cheer the death of thousands whose only crime was they went to work on time that day.”

It requires a certain callous nature to cheer the 9/11 attacks. Callousness of that degree is anathema to a true desire for peace. Yet, "a special place in hell"? No human is the judge of that.

“I could wish some terrible event on you, but I think continuing to live as the twisted soul you are is probably punishment enough.”

Either that, or constantly denying him his smug self-assured sense of entitlement to spew hateful nonsense.

“I was born and raised in Canada. You are a sub-human and I only wish I would have had the opportunity to have you in my military unit. We would have taught you in no uncertain terms to be a MAN, a CANADIAN!!! No doubt about it. You would have cowered in a corner and pissed your pants like the freak you are.”

Clearly, a message like that had to have been written at that point where rage overwhelms logic. It may be fair to say that the author of those comments had a tenuous grasp on that point to begin with.

“You're a selfish freeloader who leaves it to others to pay the freight. You are an irresponsible sub-human scum.”

Irresponsible? Perhaps. Sub-human? That's either a bit extreme, or right on the money and just not politically correct. The reader may be the judge.

“I hope to see the day you are tried for treason and convicted. Yes, you are a pathetic Canadian and not subject to US treason laws. But you could just as easily be tried and convicted up there in your little skanky county. It is in you to be a traitor as your words and deeds have encouraged the likes of Bin Laden and others to fight on and kill more Americans and infidels (infidels like you, by the way), and I am sure those same terrorists are up there in your hell hole just waiting to kill a few Canadians too. I would love to see you held accountable for your treasonous actions and held to the full extent of the law. It would be very nice if that included hanging. It was good enough for Saddam, it would be good enough for you.” —Retired, USAF

Nothing mr Potvin wrote actually qualifies as treason. Stupid? Yes. Irresponsible? Absolutely. But treasonous? No.

“I suggest that you stay out of the US, particularly to not ever come to NYC. There are a few million people here who would be happy to kick your ass before running your face through the dirt at the WTC site. PS - Thanks for confirming the link between enviro-fascists and the jihadi sand-nazis.”

After writing what he took it upon himself to write, staying out of New York City would actually seem to be very sound advice for mr Potvin.

“You are a sociopath as well as a sick, vile individual. You are not controversial, sir. You are damaged, as are any individuals who agree with you. In the body politic, you are a cancer that any competent doctor would recommend be excised immediately in order to preserve the greater health.”

Potvin is both damaged and controversial (well, he was, for the duration of his 15 minutes of fame). He can do both. (Boy, can he ever.)

“You are a very sick and disturbed individual. You are obviously an Islamic Terrorist Sympathizer. Stay in Canada and enjoy your hate.”

He did cheer "go, Osama go!", and hope for him to avoid capture by Americans. That's not an unfair description of a sympathizer.

“What you do not seem to understand is that the same Terrorist that you applaud will just as happily cut off your head unless you are prepared to convert to Islam (maybe you have). Enjoy your sick and demented life.”

Once again, there's really no threat here. Frankly, there's a sound message for Potvin: he's as likely a target for terrorist as anyone else -- both figuratively, and statistically.

“Keep your opinions about 9-11 to yourself, and may you rot in hell for them.”

An interesting point is brought up: if Potvin had conjured the sense to keep his inflammatory 9/11 opinions to himself, he wouldn't be in the position he is now. While that hardly excuses some of the more seemingly psychotic readers who chose to write to him, it isn't as if he couldn't have avoided it.

“You sir, are a sick, evil man, filled with psychopathic rationalizations that would have made you a useful tool for the Nazis at Auchwitz while feeding Jews into the gas chambers. You have a date with destiny; for that which one wishes upon others, is that which one has condemned oneself to experience."

That one in particular must have hurt. This reader should have kept in mind that Potvin's applause of 9/11 was founded in political beliefs that, at least at the base level, would have precluded him taking part in the senseless slaughter that occurred during the Holocaust.

“I'd have to say you're in the same category as the animals that blow up other human beings on a daily basis. No conscience, morals, or decency. You have a mouth that regurgitates crap. I'd have to sum up by calling you despicable. Enjoy your sick life.”

Potvin's belief he can defend his article as "symbolic" clearly demonstrates he has no conscience. His morals? It's probably pretty safe to assume that an individual who cheers an event that resulted in the deaths of thousands doesn't really have any.

“It's too bad you weren't trapped on one of the twin towers. Pieces of shit like you wouldn't be around if evolution were true.”

Using Potvin to disprove evolution is a stretch (the evolution motif resurfaces later).

“Sadly, you seem to have avoided being prosecuted under the Hate Laws of Canada. Perhaps someone in authority will realize the effect of your words and change that. I sincerely hope so. I presume both your parents are deceased. If not, I'm sure they wish they were.”

If Potvin's article was meant to incite hatred against anything, it was against (in his own words) militarism and corporatism. Canada's hate crime laws don't protect abstract concepts.

“Fuck you. The only reason you can spout your commi poison and remain warm and cozy is my country protects yours. So kiss my yanky ass you walking talking piece of shit.”

This individual clearly yearns for the days of "Tailgunner Joe" McCarthy. Good night and good luck, mr Potvin!

“You must be a sick fucking pig, to rejoice in any horrific global event. It's one thing to be desensitized, but it's another to rejoice about deliberate global terror, asshole. Looks like from your picture you're a cocksucker.”

It is pretty sick to rejoice in a horrific global event. It's especially sick to publish an article about that joy, actually expecting others to share in it. Does that make mr Potvin gay? Probably not.

“Your words will haunt you and be remembered by many people, to the end of your days. Wait and see! I'll be watching your career with interest to see how it unfolds.”

This is a prediction that has proven to be spot-on. Mr Potvin's words have haunted him (rightfully so), and have been remembered by many people (unsurprisingly).

“I just want you to know, you disgusting piece of shit, that if I ever see you face to face it will be my distinct pleasure to punch you right in the mouth.”

That could be interpreted as a threat. Not as a death threat, but a threat.

“Here's one more death threat. Yeah! It would be beautiful if your head were smashed with a sledge-hammer. You're a professional cockroach.”

That one's actually a little odd. The writer promised a death threat, then merely opined that it would be "beautiful" if Potvin's head "were smashed with a sledge-hammer". That doesn't really count as a threat.

“You’re human garbage! Hopefully the next attack by your buddies will be on your home and family, preferably your family one by one before your very eyes! You make me vomit.”
“Boy Kevin, it would be a terrible shame if a high caliber rifle were to put a gaping hole through the head of your lovely wife, or maybe your kids, or perhaps even you. Please do whatever you can to keep such a travesty from happening.”

Writing in these tones about the killing of a man's wife or children is more than a little bit disturbing. Potvin's comments aside, those are absolutely disgusting comments.

Finally, to the point: Potvin isn't wrong to react to the messages he recieved the way he has. It's natural to react fearfully, or angrily to such messages, and few of them say good things about the individuals who wrote them.

But Potvin is wrong to blame Michael Smyth, Peter O'Neil, Colby Cosh, Brian (not Bruce) Hutchinson, Lorne Gunter, Bill Tieleman, Ian King, Dean Broughton, Harold Munroe, Roz Guggi or Patricia Graham for his plight. To date, he has already accused them of libel (demonstrably untrue), censorship (an absurd accusation) and turtling (a desperate allegation). Now, he's accusing them of provoking the hate mail and death threats directed against him.

Potvin tells these reporters, "these are your people." Of course, this is untrue. They're Kevin's people.

Potvin has no one to blame for any of this but himself. The funny thing about it is that in blaming everyone who he can think of for his "victimization". He's cast the blame and the responsibility everywhere but in the one place where it truly lies: with himself.

Many people would think that somewhere in all of this is a lesson to be learned: if not for Kevin Potvin (apparently, he'll never learn it) then for others.

That lesson is fairly simple: liberal democracies give their citizens freedom of speech, and freedom of expression. These are powerful concepts. An idea expressed in the right way can change the world. As such, freedom of speech and expression comes with a great deal of responsibility. We can say what we want, but we have to take responsibility for what we say.

Kevin Potvin has exerted a lot of effort trying to avoid responsibility for his 9/11 comments. It's not terribly surprising. No reasonable individual would want to accept responsibility for such comments. That's why few reasonable individuals consider them, and no reasonable individual publishes them.

With his irrational denials of responsibility, Potvin has proven that is is not a rational person. Yet, there is a lesson in his tribulations to be learned for anyone willing to learn it.

Say what you want. But in the end, the responsibility will be yours to bear. Potvin, on the other hand, would seemingly like nothing better than to actually make reporters responsible for the consequences of reporting people's comments, while excusing the people themselves (in this case, himself) from responsibility on their own.

It hasn't worked. Kevin Potvin's example proves that no amount of whining can excuse anyone from that responsibility.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Calvert to Drop the Gloves in Court

Saskatchewan premier pushes the envelope of credibility for political gain

In the most recent twist in the ongoing drama over federal equalization payments, Saskatchewan New Democrat premier Lorne Calvert launched a new attack against the Conservative federal government, asking his provincial Justice Department to launch legal action against Ottawa.

At the heart of the issue is the equalization scheme, particularly in relation to non-renewable resources. Calvert insists that Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised to remove non-renewable resources (such as oil, gas, and potash) from the equalization formula. Harper insists he made no such promise, and merely capped the amount that can be collected from such resources under equalization.

In order to try and resolve the dispute to his liking, Calvert has resorted to precisely the tactic that his party's federal leader, Jack Layton, lampooned Harper for: "I'll sue ya!"

Yet, Calvert has a relatively more private taxation-related embarrassment brewing in his own province.

Under the NDP, the government of Saskatchewan has taken to claiming all of the property taxes collected in its various municipalties. Essentially, every year all of the property taxes collected by the municipalities are sent to Regina. There, Calvert's treasury redistributes the funds amongst the municipalties as it sees fit -- something of a intra-province equalization program.

Through this practice, Calvert ensures that municipalities with little or no industrial activity -- particularly related to the oil and gas sector -- recieve funds for needs such as road maintenance.

Unfortunately, many municipalties with the aforementioned oil and gas activity occuring within their boundaries aren't recieving enough of their own property taxes (which they themselves collect) to maintain their roads. Oil and gas activity in these municipalities means that an exponentially larger portion of traffic is active on their roads compared to municipalities that aren't blessed with the revenue that these activities should bring to the municipality.

This sad state of affairs has progressed to the point where many municipalities have been forced to use their road ban powers as weapons against the oil companies that make such stringent use of their roads. In many cases, oil companies have struck deals with the municipalities wherein the oil companies contribute a portion of funding toward road maintenance.

On one hand, it's wrong that the municipalities use their road ban powers in such a way. On the other hand, however, they have to do what they have to do -- and it's wrong that they should have to do it at all.

Consider that oil and gas companies already pay property taxes on their leases, and this becomes a case of these companies paying extra funds to cover government responsibilities that they already pay taxes for.

Given the level of profit earned by oil and gas companies recently, there's little reason that anyone should be shedding crocodile tears for them. For the municipalities, however, the situation is very different. They are essentially caught between the raiding of their property taxes by the provincial government and the generosity of the oil and gas industry. Caught between a proverbial rock and a hard place, indeed.

So, while premier Calvert is threatening legal action against the federal government over alleged broken promises over equalization, Calvert's own centralizing tendencies within his own province are leaving Saskatchewan's oil- and gas-producing municipalities stretched to the point of desperation, with too many road maintenance expenses, and not enough funds to meet them.

Meanwhile, Calvert has taken the liberty of declaring his 2007 budget a surplus, despite the fact that various analysts have joined the Saskatchewan party in pointing out that it is, in fact, a deficit. All this while Calvert and his lapdogs insist that the 2007 budget is a surplus despite the need to draw on government savings in order to have more funds on hand than it is spending.

In the end, it all comes across as rather absurd. Consider all this in concert with the fact that Calvert is facing an upcoming election (all he has to do is call it) and that many of his MLAs are resigning from what many observers opine to be a sinking ship, and Calvert seems to be reduced to a desperate politician, trying to score some quick political capital by shaking his fists at the "big, bad Conservatives" in Ottawa. Ralph Goodale's constant pouting (essentially about the injustice of being relegated to Opposition) can't hurt Calvert's cause either.

In the meantime, the citizens of Saskatchewan seem to know the score. In the 2005/06 federal election, Saskatchewan sent 12 Conservative MPs to the House of Commons, along with 2 Liberal MPs (including Goodale), and...

...Zero NDPers. In a province governed by the NDP, not a single riding in Saskatchewan elected an NDP candidate federally.

That could turn out to be big trouble for Calvert, and he likely knows it. Given that his primary opposition, the Saskatchewan party, is closely aligned with the Conservatives, Calvert could be forgiven if the premier of the NDP's heartland is sweating bullets looking toward the oncoming election.

Whether or not his gambit succeeds has yet to be seen.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Breaking News: Life Unfair to Paris Hilton

Cries to Her Mommy On the Way Back to Jail

Poor Paris Hilton. Life is rough when you're a 26 year-old filthy rich celebrity hotel heiress.

On Thursday, Paris must have been certain she had managed to weasle her way out of her 45-day sentence citing some sort of undisclosed medical difficulty that allegedly led the Los Angeles County Sheriff to deem that prison was a dangerous place for her.

No dice, says Superior Court Judge Michael T Sauer, who ordered her back to jail to await a hearing he had scheduled in order to determine the nature of her medical condition. In the meantime, Hilton certainly must have provoked his ire when she suggested that she would not appear for the hearing, claiming that a telephone hearing had been scheduled -- which it hadn't.

For her own part, Hilton disapproves. "It's not right!" she was reported as complaining as she was led from the courtroom in a soggy, sobbing mess. "Mom!"

...Her mom was standing nearby. Apparently, she didn't intercede on Paris' behalf. Poor thing.

Yep, life sure is unfair for Paris Hilton. While the average person will likely agree with LA City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo when he remarked, "this decision sends the message that no individual -- no matter how wealthy or powerful -- is above the law. Today, justice was served."

Indeed, justice was served with a steaming hot side of "awwwww, muffin."

Now, all Los Angeles county needs is a new Sheriff.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

100 Things to Improve Canada #1

By its very nature, a democracy is never truly complete.

As a political union of its entire citizenry, a democracy, by nature, has to grow and expand to reflect the interests, beliefs and needs of as many of its citizens as possible. Given that the interests, beliefs and needs of its citizens change and diversity over time, changes within a democracy are inevitable.

Canada, as one of the world's oldest functioning democracies, is no exception to this demand. As one of the most rapidly diversifying societies, Canada is proving to be an unexpected proving ground for the underlying principles of democracy.

As comic book readers the world over know, a civil war consumed the Marvel Universe throughout 2006 and 2007. At the centre of the conflict was a Superhuman Registration Act passed through the United States congress following a massive tragedy that destroyed an entire town in Conneticiut.

In the story's concluding chapter, Civil War #7, the Registration Act's architect, Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) reveals to one of the characters that the Act, and many of the things that were done in support of that act were part of a "100 things to do for a better America" list compiled by himself and fellow super-geniuses Reed Richards (aka Mr Fantastic) and Henry Pym (aka The Giant, Ant Man, Yellow Jacket, and a plethora of other superhero identities).

The list compiled by Stark, Richards and Pym ultimately led to disaster. This underscores an important caveat about conceptualizing utopian visions: these visions can become monsters, and lead to dangerous excess. Historical examples of utopian visions carried out strictly by elites bears this out in constant examples: the Russian, French Revolution, and Iranian revolutions come immediately to mind.

This isn't to say that visionary dreams are inherently dangerous. Any program of democratic self-improvement, by necessity, must begin with the people with whom the power and sovereignty of a democracy ultimately lie: in the people themselves.

In a new feature, here at the Nexus and elsewhere, ordinary people are going to chip in with their ideas on how to make Canada a better place to live, and a better citizen in the global community. This is the combined bold vision of 100 separate bloggers, of varying political stripes.

Our first participant, Politics 101's Kevin Millard, reminds us that the best way to embark on improving Canada for the future is to task ourselves with remembering its past.

#1 - Teaching History
Kevin Millard

One of the best things we can do to improve Canada is to teach more Canadian history in our schools. Doing this will improve our knowledge of who we are, where we've been, and where we're going. It would also correct common misconceptions about ourselves and instill in Canadians a sense of pride about their country.

At present in Ontario only one credit in history is required to obtain your O.S.S.D. Sure there are history classes available in grades 9 through 12. But, let's face it history is not going to be on a teenagers list of top subjects. That's why more than one year needs to be compulsory.

76% of Canadians are embarrassed by their lack of knowledge about Canadian history. This is something we should be alarmed about. It is the reason, when asked, why we tend to identify ourselves as "not American". Yet, I think most of us know more American history than our own.

This lack of knowledge keeps our accomplishments as a country (especially our military ones) in the dark. It allows special interest groups and political parties to tell us who we are and what we think. One instance of this is the common misconception that we are a neutral country, which is historically inaccurate. Canada has always picked a side and fought for it.

In WWI Canada 's military went from being a rag tag bunch of farmers to becoming one of the most respected, most effective and most feared forces on the western front. This is a reputation that has followed us--with good reason-- into every conflict we have been in. What we have not been is neutral.

We tend to think of ourselves as beer drinking hockey fans and nothing more. While we are those things, we are also so much more. We are leaders in the Aerospace industry, insulin was invented here, standard time was invented in Canada, and no Canadian army unit has ever retreated in the face of the enemy. These are just a
few accomplishments that are worth mentioning. There are many, many more.

Our lack of knowledge about our history greatly impedes our ability to to make informed decisions about who we are, and were we're going. This needs to change, so we can start to be proud of being "Canadian".

Thank you for your time,
Kevin Millard

Monday, June 04, 2007

Sir Bob Gives Prime Minister Static Over Foreign Aid

Sir Geldof makes big noise about Canada's aid contributions

Always an outspoken advocate on behalf of impoverished developing countries, sir Bob Geldof recently made a big noise by complaining about Canada's alleged (and seeming) failure to boost its aid budget to what he feels is an appropriate level.

Claiming that Canada has served as a key "blocker" of the aid agenda at the G8, sir Geldof said "it's a bizarre circumstance. Especially today when Prime Minster Harper, in Berlin, was boasting about in a speech that Canada was the most successful of G8 countries in terms of economy for the tenth year running."

In sir Geldof's mind, the matter seems very simple: the prosperity of wealthy countries obligates them to deliver aid to impoverished countries, particularly in the developing world.

He's actually right about that. Unfortunately, sir Geldof, like many of his contemporaries, have been worshipping at the alter of an aid philopsophy that is ultimately a failed god -- that is, the idea that contributing more money toward aid policies automatically ensures high quality aid policies.

While sir Geldof is clearly well versed in what William Easterly calls the "first tragedy" of poverty in developing countries -- the fact that such extreme poverty, and the suffering that accompanies it, should exist in the first place. However, sir Geldof is clearly not acquainted with Easterly's "second tragedy" of this poverty -- that the billions upon billions of dollars spent over decades to try to alleviate this poverty has not improved the lives of these people.

In White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good, Easterly outlines the principle failures of aid policy -- which isn't that not enough money has been contributed to push developing countries out of an ill-concieved and non-existent poverty trap, but rather that the policies have been focused upon large, overarching goals without sufficient attention to the tasks necessary to achieve these goals.

To Easterly, aid policies have lacked the bottom-up accountability that market forces provide. Policy Planners (as Easterly explicitly describes them) attempt to diagnose the needs of the population of these countries without responding to the market signals that denote what these needs actually are.

Easterly argues that more Searchers (market entrepeneurs) are needed in developing countries to determine the needs of the population, and meet them. However, incentive is necessary in order to attract such forces, which implicitly suggests offering a profit for those willing to actually do the job.

While sir Geldof has done wonderous things to alert people's attention to the pivotal issue of poverty in the developing world, he has contented himself to living in a glass house, espousing a "more money, no problems" philosophy for solving the problems of poor countries that, to date, has not worked. Now, he's throwing rocks at governments he believes should be bound by the promises made by their predecessors.

While sir Geldof's criticisms -- conveniently echoed by rock star-cum-world hero Bono -- are misplaced and guided by outdated and immediately discreditable presumptions (largely centered around the policy trap that is the "poverty trap"), the fact is that Canada can fill an important leadership role in the fight against poverty in the developing world by focusing its aid policies away from reckless and often destructive macroeconomic policies (such as structural adjustment and "shock therapies"), and toward more productive microeconomic policies that would help citizens of poor countries grow their anemic economies by creating their own wealth, while also helping the governments of these countries develop the political, judicial and economic institutions necessary to run an orderly society.

Poverty in the developing world is indeed a pivotal issue. However, sir Geldof does not have a miracle solution. While action is necessary, Canada would do better to reject sir Geldof's prescribed discredited methodology in favour of a new approach -- one that could actually succeed.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Eco-Hero or Eco-Ego? Vol. 3 - The Flying McGuinty Brothers

The McGuintys: Avid environmentalists or disingenuine demagogues?

Recently, some of Canada's most outspoken politicians on the environmental portfolio -- particularly the climate change portfolio -- are the Flying McGuinty Brothers, (federal environment critic) David, and (Ontario premier) Dalton.

Recently, Dalton convened a first minister's conference on the topic of climate change. More recently, David categorized Prime Minster Stephen Harper's accurate insistence that Canada is a special case in terms of greenhouse gas reductions -- on the basis of both climate and an inactive prior government -- as "theatre of the absurd."

"I've being doing this for 20 years and I have never heard anything as absurd -- on the international diplomatic level, on this internation environmental issue -- as this," McGuinty insisted. "Ever."

Perhaps mr McGuinty would be surprised then, to be reminded of his brother's Dalton's promise to shut down all of Ontario's coal-fired power plants, a broken promise that, along with Ontario NDP leader Howard Hampton, the Ontario Clean Air Alliance described as "a broken-promise hat trick".

"[Other countries] tell us they're paying the price and biting the bullet," David entoned, "working feverishly hard to meet their Kyoto targets. But they're not going out the world and saying, 'we're special! We're soooooo special!"

Unfortunately for David, his brother, as Ontario's premier, hasn't "bit the bullet", or worked "feverishly hard" to keep his promise, one which would have achieved 70% of Ontario's share of Canada's Kyoto commitments. One would wonder whether or not David would argue that Ontario is special.

His brother certainly does. While signing a landmark agreement with California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, McGuinty argued that an international, North America-wide standard should be set for vehicle emissions. Then he insisted that Ontario will stop short of California's standards, claiming they will hurt Ontario's auto industry.

Apparently, Ontario is special. It's sooooooooo special!

Naturally, Dalton is keen on scoring some political capital by being seen arm-in-arm with the man who may well be North America's most effective politician on the environmental portfolio. Given, however, that Dalton himself has one of the unabashedly worst records in North America -- along with his national-party counterpart, Stephane Dion -- it all reeks of an absurd brand of hypocrisy.

His brother, by failing to recongize and criticize the catastrophic and humiliating failures of his brother, shares in this hypocrisy.

The Flying McGuinty brothers are certainly not eco-heroes. In fact, David may well be one of the most obnoxious of the eco-egos. What is really absurd is that either would pretend to hold an ounce of credibility on the environmental portfolio.