Monday, June 30, 2008

Conference Board says Canada losing ground

This is from the CBC.

I wonder how we rank now in spending on the military. No doubt we have moved up even though we are probably moving down in other areas. We are trying hard to reach the bottom of the environmental list in order to surpass the worst Australia and the U.S. It seems that being tops in innovation means little in terms of other important categories such as health or the environment. The U.S. was first in innovation but did badly in other cateories. There is not much description of who did best except for Switzerland.

Canada losing ground, Conference Board says
Last Updated: Monday, June 30, 2008 9:08 AM ET Comments83Recommend88
CBC News
Canada is in the middle of the pack of the 17 wealthiest countries in terms of social and economic rankings, the Conference Board of Canada reported Monday.
It gave Canada four Bs — for economy, education, health and the social environment — but only a C on environment and a D on innovation. The board gives a B to countries in the second quartile, a C in the third and a D in the bottom.
Its 12th benchmarking report card was "disappointing," the board said.
Canada's ranking out of 17 countries
*Out of 16 countries; no data for Belgium
Source: Conference Board of Canada
"While Canada is still in the gifted class among nations, its report card tells the story of a country moving to the back of the class because of its underperformance in almost all subjects."
Canada's standard of living has slipped to ninth this year from fourth in the 1970s, the report said.
The report links Canada's lack of innovation to flagging economic performance, which means there is less money to spend on services such as health and education.
"Canada's deteriorating transportation infrastructure, its longer hospital wait times, and the collective sense of urgency about the affordability of social programs are all directly linked to Canada's lagging productivity, which in turn is linked to its innovation problem," the report said.
Canada does not have an innovation policy, which would help commercialize discoveries and allow new world-beating industries to develop. Instead, resources are used to shore up fading industries, the board said.
The lack of innovation has hurt economic performance, where slower productivity and other factors have opened the gap between U.S. and Canadian individual purchasing power to $6,400 US now from $3,200 in 1985.
Canada came third last in the environment ranking, ahead of only Australia and the United States. Like them, Canada has a resource-based economy and long distances to travel, but the board said the record is poor in areas such as climate change, smog, and cutting waste.
"Canada now generates more waste per person than any of its peers," the board said, and is producing more greenhouse gases as petroleum and forest products exports rise.
On the B team
Canada's No. 2 ranking in education is a bright spot, because high school and college graduation rates are very high. But there are problems, including the 40 per cent of adults who have trouble coping with the literacy and numeracy demands of life and work.
Moreover, "Canada also trails its competitors in fostering PhD graduates and in producing graduates in the fields that underpin innovation — mathematics, science, computer science and engineering," the report says.
In terms of health, Canadians have fewer problems today than several decades ago, but higher rates of diabetes and obesity suggest that young Canadians "may be the first generation of children in over a century who can expect to be less healthy than their parents."
Canada does pretty well as a place to live, as our "social safety net" helps many people. But "many Canadians would be surprised to find out that the U.S. has a lower burglary rate, a lower suicide rate, and greater gender equity than Canada," the report said.
The reduction in senior poverty is a major success story, but the low ranking on child poverty is troubling.
"Much evidence suggests that children who grow up in poverty have lower educational attainment and poorer health, and that they are less able to contribute to their communities," the report said.
Canada was ranked against Australia, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.S.
Smaller European countries, particularly Switzerland, did very well. It was ranked second in three categories, fourth in two and fifth in one.
The U.S. led in innovation, but was last in environment and society, and second-last in health and education. It ranked seventh in economy.

The U.S. as Rogue State

The U.S. has made the concept of a rogue state a significant aspect of its foreign policy. Intervention in the affairs of and attempts sanction and isolate states such as Iran, Syria, or North Korea on the basis of "rogue" behavior are central to the U.S. global foreign policy orientation. Yet on the basis of its own behavior the U.S. is a rogue state par excellence. There have been many articles on this subject and there is a website where many of these articles are collected. There are even several books on the subject. Of course this never but never gets discussed in the mainstream media. See the Third World Traveller.
Not only has the U.S. been found guilty of what is in effect terrorism in mining Nicaraguan harbors but it also opposes an international court of justice and even the rights of children:
"Every country on earth has ratified the United Nations' Convention on theRights of the Child, which prohibits the death penalty for juvenileoffenders, with two exceptions: Somalia, which effectively has nogovernment, and the U.S.. Even China, one of the world's most enthusiasticcriminal-killers, recently banned juvenile executions."
"Wasted Youth," The Mojo Wire, December 23, 1999

Anyway here is a recent article on the issue by Charlie Reese in
Somehow Charlie thinks that in the past the U.S. was never a rogue nation. Maybe he knows nothing of U.S. history. Of course the U.S. is not the sole rogue nation that is not recognised as such that is for sure.

America Is the Rogue Nation
by Charley Reese
One gets the impression that there are some people in Washington who believe that Israel or the U.S. can bomb Iran's nuclear reactors, fly home, and it will be mission complete.
It makes you wonder if perhaps there is a virus going around that is gradually making people stupid. If we or Israel attack Iran, we will have a new war on our hands. The Iranians are not going to shrug off an attack and say, "You naughty boys, you."
Consider how much trouble Iraq has given us. Some 4,000 dead and 29,000 wounded, a half a trillion dollars in cost and still climbing, and five years later, we cannot say that the country is pacified.
Iraq is a small country compared with Iran. Iran has about 70 million people. Its western mountains border the Persian Gulf. In other words, its missiles and guns look down on the U.S. ships below it. And it has lots of missiles, from short-range to intermediate-range (around 2,200 kilometers).
More to the point, it has been equipped by Russia with the fastest anti-ship missile on the planet. The SS-N-22 Sunburn can travel at Mach 3 at high altitude and at Mach 2.2 at low altitude. That is faster than anything in our arsenal.
Iran's conventional forces include an army of 540,000 men and 300,000 reserves, including 120,000 Iranian Guards especially trained in unconventional warfare. It has more than 1,600 main battle tanks and 21,000 other armored combat vehicles. It has 3,200 artillery pieces, three submarines, 59 surface warships and 10 amphibious ships.
It's been receiving help in arming itself from China, North Korea and Russia. Unlike Iraq, Iran's forces have not been worn down with bombing, wars and sanctions. It also has a new anti-aircraft defense system from Russia that I've heard is pretty snazzy.
So, if you think we or Israel can attack Iran and not expect retaliation, I'd have to say with regret that you are a moron. If you think we could easily handle Iran in an all-out war, I'd have to promote you to idiot.
Attacking Iran would be folly, but we seem to be living in the Age of Folly. Morons and idiots took us into an unjustified war against Iraq before we had finished the job in Afghanistan. Now we have troops tied down in both countries.
For some years now, I've worried that we seem to be more and more like Colonial England – arrogant, racist, overestimating our own capacity and underestimating that of our enemies. As the fate of the British Empire demonstrates, that is a fatal flaw.
The British never dreamed that the "little yellow people" could come ashore by land and take Singapore from the rear or that they would sink the pride of the British fleet, but they did both.
I suppose no one in Washington can imagine the Iranians sinking one of our carriers in the Persian Gulf. How'd you like to be the president who has to tell the American people that we've lost a carrier for the first time since World War II?
Exactly how the Iranians will respond to an attack, I don't know, but they will respond. In keeping with our present policy, our attack on Iran would be illegal, since under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.
Who would have thought that we would become the rogue nation committing acts of aggression around the globe?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Northern premiers reject carbon tax plan

This is not too surprising given the extensive and necessary use of fossil fuels in the North and the already excessive costs of living in the north. The premiers do not seem to buy the proposition that the increased costs would be offset by tax decreases. Dion may have a very much uphill battle to try and sell the carbon tax plan in the present economic climate. Harper and his negative ad comrades are probably chortling with glee.

Northern premiers reject carbon tax plan
Last Updated: Sunday, June 29, 2008 12:12 AM ET
CBC News
The three northern premiers have rejected Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion's plan for a national carbon tax, saying it will just add to the already high costs of energy in the region.
Wrapping up a conference in Yellowknife on Saturday afternoon, all three leaders said Dion's plan would be unfair to those who live in Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.
"We think there are better ways to deal with this issue than another tax being applied, especially in the North where the cost of goods and services is already predominantly higher than anywhere else in the country," said Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie.
Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik said that unlike the North, other jurisdictions may have alternatives available.
"But in the North, there really are no alternatives for us in Nunavut to turn to, to get away from diesel generation for power and for heat," he said.
"We'd rather focus on alternatives to get away from fossil fuels. But to add on a cost to very high fuel costs already is just not an option for homeowners in our territory."
Dion's $15.4 billion-a-year Green Shift tax plan would increase costs on fossil fuels such as coal, oil and diesel. But those costs would be offset by broad-based personal and corporate tax cuts.
The plan would initially peg the price of emissions from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas at $10 per tonne of carbon dioxide, rising to $40 per tonne in the fourth year.
Northwest Territories Premier Floyd Roland said it would be more productive to fight climate change by investing in alternative energy sources, such as hydro and wind power. A carbon tax is simply "passing on to the end user an additional cost of doing business," Roland said.With files from the Canadian Press

Rights commission dismisses complaint against MacLean's

Distasteful speech is much less distasteful than the puffery and prudish political correctness rhetoric spouted by many of my supposed leftist colleagues who seem to often abandon what is worth preserving in western liberalism. The human rights commission was certainly right to dismiss the complaint. Prejudice and hatred of Islam is not going to be cured by repression. Personally I oppose any type of hate crime legislation. It is more dangerous than the speech it is trying to prevent. People whose speech is banned believe that their views are being repressed--which they are--and this must be because those whom they oppose know they are true and as powerful people they repress them. This may be untrue but it certainly is not obviously untrue!

Rights commission dismisses complaint against Maclean's
Last Updated: Saturday, June 28, 2008 7:09 PM ET
CBC News
The Canadian Human Rights Commission has dismissed a complaint by a Muslim organization against Maclean’s, ruling that the views expressed in one of the magazine's articles were not “of an extreme nature.”
The Canadian Islamic Congress had alleged that the article written by Mark Steyn entitled "The Future Belongs to Islam" and posted on the magazine’s website in October 2006 discriminated and spread hatred against Muslims.
The article, an excerpt of a book authored by Steyn, talks about Islam being a threat to North American institutions and values. It used statistics to show higher birth rates plus immigration mean Muslims will outnumber followers of other religions in Western Europe.
"The writing is polemical, colourful and emphatic, and was obviously calculated to excite discussion and even offend certain readers, Muslim and non-Muslim alike," wrote Lucie Veillette, secretary to the commission.
"Overall, however, the views expressed in the Steyn article, when considered as a whole and in context, are not of an extreme nature as defined by the Supreme Court."
The commission said there was "no reasonable basis in the evidence to warrant the appointment of a Tribunal."
On its website, Maclean's said it was pleased the complaint was dismissed and that the decision was in keeping with its position that the article "was a worthy piece of commentary on important geopolitical issues, entirely within the bounds of normal journalistic practice."
But it added that no human rights commission should have the mandate to monitor or assess the editorial decisions of the nation's media.
Faisal Joseph, a lawyer for the Canadian Islamic Congress, told the Canadian Press that the Congress is disappointed the commission made its decision without hearing "the compelling evidence of hate and expert testimony" the Congress recently presented in a complaint to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal. That tribunal has yet to release a ruling.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

B.C. Carbon tax could be reversed.

Everyone is an environmentalist until it costs them! This is from the Globe and Mail.
It is rather surprising that the NDP should oppose the tax. Perhaps there was consultation. The government consulted environmentalists such as Jaccard and maybe the great guru Suzuki. Of course they did not consult the ordinary citizen. Now they are worried that the great beast of the general public may get restless and hard to control come election time.
Environmentalists are often themselves reasonably well off so the extra costs of some environmental policies may not impact on them to the degree it does on those less well off.

Carbon tax could be reversed, special adviser to Campbell fears
Political pressure might doom it, he says
June 28, 2008
VANCOUVE -- Premier Gordon Campbell's special adviser on climate change says he fears critical and political pressure could prompt the Liberal government to back off the province's carbon tax.
Mark Jaccard, a noted resource economist at Simon Fraser University, made the comments in an interview yesterday shortly after he joined other academics at a news conference to argue for the tax linked to a 2.34-cent rise in gasoline prices on Canada Day. By 2012, the tax will be at seven cents a litre.
"I've seen politicians reverse themselves before after reading polls, so I want to see a good public discourse out there," Prof. Jaccard said. "I would say this is not a done deal at all."
Prof. Jaccard is a member of B.C.'s Climate Action Team, which was formed to provide feedback to the province's plan to cut greenhouse-gas emissions one-third by 2020. He is also a special adviser to the cabinet committee on climate action.
He did not disclose any insider information on the government's intentions, but said he thinks a reversal can't be ruled out as a possibility.
He noted that the Liberals are facing a provincial election next May. Mr. Campbell and his party will be seeking a third consecutive term, and the Premier has warned supporters that a loss of seven seats could plunge the party into opposition.
"If [the Liberal government] see that the NDP, by misinformation or whatever, have gotten hold of a policy that might just help them win an election, then I wouldn't be surprised if the government dropped it, and I think that would set us back a huge amount," he said.
Prof. Jaccard, a critic of the Liberals in the past, is a fan of the B.C. tax, calling it "the best carbon tax I have seen in the world."
Were he advising an NDP government, he said he would urge it to adopt the same tax. It will be applied to all fossil fuels, starting at $10 a tonne of carbon and rising by $5 a year for the next four years, capping out at $30 a tonne in 2012.
He described the opposition's objections, which have included an "Axe-the-Gas-Tax" campaign, as "political posturing" that has prompted him to speak out.
The NDP, which has decried the tax as developed without consultation and imposing an unfair cost on British Columbians, is calling on the Liberal government to withdraw it. NDP Leader Carole James repeated that suggestion yesterday in Williams Lake, where the mayor recently mused about having the community refuse to pay the tax on municipal energy bills as a form of protest.
But Mr. Campbell yesterday showed no signs of changing course.
The Premier took calls on Bill Good's morn

U.S. environmental ads target Alberta oil sands development.

This is from CP.
I just wonder how effective these environmentalists will be given that the cost of gasoline is soaring in the U.S. Moves that threaten to make the supply even less will hardly be greeted with great applause by the masses who will pay more at the pumps. Stelmach needn't worry anyway. Any oil that does not go to the U.S. will be snapped up by other nations. China is not about to complain about dirty oil nor many other countries I expect. A boycott of dirty oil by the U.S. is a plus for Alberta since it can sell at higher prices to other countries no doubt.
Stelmach's defence is interesting. The U.S. should buy dirty Alberta oil because Canada has been a faithful junior partner in the wars of U.S. imperialism.
""Stelmach said he would try and convince the U.S. governors to stay onside with Alberta by reminding them how Canada has "protected the backs" of Americans in several wars. "

Ad mockingly invites U.S. governors to watch Alta. 'dirty oil' destroy forests
1 hour ago
EDMONTON — A Washington-based coalition of environmental groups is taking another tongue-in-cheek shot at the Alberta government with a newspaper ad targeting oilsands development.
The ad from the Natural Resources Defence Council features a faux postcard from Premier Ed Stelmach inviting western U.S. governors - who begin meetings Sunday with western premiers in Jackson Hole, Wyo. - to hold their next get-together near the tarsands.
"We can watch as pristine boreal forests and wetlands are destroyed to produce some of the dirtiest oil," reads the postcard, which sits atop two vacation-style snapshots of an open-pit mine and an oil plant spewing smoke.
"Sunsets over the giant toxic waste lagoons are spectacular - just hope the ducks don't land as they fly over looking for a place to nest!"
The ad is scheduled to run Monday in the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming's largest newspaper, and is timed to coincide with the meeting in Jackson Hole.
It's the latest attack on the environmental record of the Alberta oil industry, which made international news in April when 500 ducks died after landing in an oilsands tailings pond.
Earlier this week, Greenpeace put up a new satirical website offering mock tours of the province's industrial northeast, tempting travellers with black sand beaches, toxic lakes and clearcut forests.
It recommends starting the day with a "propane cannon wake-up call" and suggests a little open-pit paragliding over the vast oilsands mines.
Susan Casey-Lefkowitz of the Washington-based coalition said the two campaigns were developed separately but she was "thrilled" at their timing.
"We certainly talk to each other, but I wouldn't go so far as to say we're co-ordinated," she said in an interview from Washington. "I think what you're seeing is that a lot of groups on both sides of the border are very concerned about the tarsands."
Casey-Lefkowitz said in addition to the ad, the defence council has sent a more serious letter to the governors and premiers, explaining their concerns.
"The oilsands development is expanding at a rate that's too high for environmental protection to keep up," she explained. "What we're seeing is that the boreal forest eco-system is being destroyed and huge toxic tailings ponds are being created that are indeed proving a hazard to wildlife."
She said there have also been health concerns expressed by many in aboriginal communities near the development.
"What Alberta's leaders are not focusing enough on is that there is a real desire to have oil development done in a way that doesn't hurt the environment," she said.
"Alberta is so far behind right now in really getting a grip on cleaning up the tarsands. It's important for them right now to be focusing not on public relations, but focusing on actually cleaning up the situation."
Before leaving for the Wyoming conference, Stelmach admitted Alberta is "now in the cross-hairs" of various environmental groups and other agencies around North America that are denouncing the huge volume of greenhouse gas emissions from the province's massive oilsands plants.
And it isn't just environmental groups.
The U.S. government is currently drafting a law that could limit American agencies from using oilsands fuels because of the large volume of emissions created in their production.
Presidential hopeful Barack Obama is also talking about curbing imports of "dirty" oil from various sources, including Canada's oilsands.
America's big-city mayors also recently passed a resolution urging a ban on the use of fuel from the oilsands in municipal vehicles in the U.S.
Stelmach said he would try and convince the U.S. governors to stay onside with Alberta by reminding them how Canada has "protected the backs" of Americans in several wars.

B.C. court ditches libel case against B.C. 'shock jock''

This is from the Star.
At least we still have some degree of free speech in Canada although I would feel much better if we had no laws against hate speech. I fail to see how any one's reputation could be harmed by many of the shock radio jocks. Our radio commentators seem rather tame compared to some in the U.S. It would be an honour to be berated by most of them! It would show that one made some sense.

Top court ditches libel case against B.C. `shock jock' - Canada - Top court ditches libel case against B.C. `shock jock'
Decision on boundaries of fair comment will make it easier to engage in freewheeling debate
June 28, 2008 Tracey TylerLEGAL AFFAIRS REPORTER
While making it perfectly clear that nobody's reputation should be brushed aside like "roadkill," the Supreme Court of Canada made it easier yesterday for radio "shock jocks" and devil's advocates to engage in freewheeling public debate.
In an important case about the boundaries of free speech, the court struck down a B.C. Court of Appeal ruling that found controversial Vancouver radio talk show host Rafe Mair defamed a family values advocate who was against having books depicting gay parents used in the province's schools.
In an on-air editorial in 1999 that took issue with Kari Simpson's crusade, Mair suggested she was displaying the kind of bigotry more commonly associated with Hitler or some notoriously racist Southern U.S. governors.
The case turned on the issue of what constitutes "fair comment," a defence frequently used in defamation cases.
While courts hearing these cases must strive to balance freedom of expression with the protection of a person's reputation – often their most valued asset – many courts around the world have already decided defamation law should be modified to give the media a wider berth to report on important issues without fear of being sued, the court said.
"Public controversy can be a rough trade and the law needs to accommodate its requirements," Justice Ian Binnie said in writing for the seven-judge majority.
"An individual's reputation is not to be treated as regrettable but unavoidable roadkill on the highway of public controversy, but nor should an overly solicitous regard for personal reputation be permitted to `chill' freewheeling debate on matters of public interest," said Binnie.
It was the first time in nearly 30 years the court has considered the limits of "fair comment."
"It is a long overdue first step by the Supreme Court to modernize libel law, to properly protect free speech," said Paul Schabas, president of Ad Idem, an association of media lawyers, which intervened in the case.
"The Supreme Court has heard very few libel cases in the last few decades and this is the first one where they've really weighed in with an analysis that's (anchored in) the importance of free speech," he said.
Until yesterday, a crucial question in determining whether a harmful remark constitutes "fair comment" was whether the person who made it was expressing their own honestly held view. The court revised that component of the test so the question now is whether any person could honestly voice the same view.
Mair, a former Social Credit cabinet minister, made his comments on CKNW radio. A B.C. trial judge dismissed Simpson's case against Mair and the station's parent company, WIC Radio Ltd., but her decision was overturned on appeal.

Trudeau defines Canada?

This is excerpted from the CBC.
As I recall Alberta was not particularly in love with Trudeau! When Trudeau was in power PetroCan was owned by the Canadian government. Now of course with almost everything else it is owned by the people who own the Canadian government. Its not us!

The Ipsos-Reid survey, on behalf of the Dominion Institute and the federal Department of Citizenship and Immigration, asked Canadians what best defines their country.
After tallying the results, Trudeau was revealed as the person who most defines Canada. Niagara Falls was the defining place, Canada Day the defining event, Canadarm the defining accomplishment and the maple leaf was the defining symbol.

Global Finance, the Current Crisis and Challenges to the Dollar.

This is an interesting analysis of the U.S. financial crisis by David McNally. McNally is a prof. at York University in Toronto Canada. McNally claims that the crisis is not a liquidity crisis but a bank solvency crisis. McNally certainly has a point but the fact that banks are facing financial problems does cause a liquidity crisis of sorts in that money stops flowing as loans to a considerable extent. The crisis is exacerbated by the increasing costs of energy and foodstuffs as speculative funds seek as safe haven. This drives up prices even further. At the same time these problems cause a slowing economy and distress for ordinary citizens. It is rather ironic that Bush a worshipper of the free market applies a band-aid of giving Americans a government check (aka handout) as means to stimulate the economy. If a leftist had suggested this it would have been panned as a unconscionable interference in the operations of the market as concocted by some idealistic free spending liberal who knew nothing about economics.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~(((( T h e B u l l e t ))))~~~~~~~~~~~~~A Socialist Project e-bulletin .... No. 118 .... June 25, 2008________________________________________________Global Finance, the Current Crisisand Challenges to the DollarDavid McNallyIt is not often that we find ourselves living through financial turmoil so serious that the International Monetary Fund calls it "the largest financial crisis in the United States since the Great Depression." Yet that is where we are today. Already, commercial banks have collapsed in both Britain and Germany, as has the fifth-largest investment bank on Wall Street. A series of hedge funds have gone under or are teetering on the brink of ruin. And it is a near certainty that more financial institutions will fail before the crisis burns out.It is clear that the Left needs serious analysis of just what is happening to world capitalism at the moment. Too often, however, our assessments are stuck in the past, revolving around debates as to whether or not this crisis represents a repeat of 1929 and the Great Depression.Such debates detract from the hard work of analysis that is needed. On the one side are those who assume that history tends to repeat itself. On the other side are those critics who so exaggerate what has changed (particularly the ability of central banks to dampen tendencies to financial collapse) that they present a picture of a capitalism whose contradictions have been so muted that the system is no longer susceptible to severe economic slumps.The real challenge for radical analysis, however, is to grasp both the changes and the enduring economic contradictions within capitalism in order to understand how capitalist transformation displaces and reorganizes crisis tendencies without eliminating them.In the absence of such analysis, much of the radical commentary on offer tends to focus on the blatant deceit and corruption of financial players who have contributed to the market upheaval. This has its purposes. But it runs the risk of downplaying the structural features of late capitalism that breed financial meltdowns – and in so doing of suggesting that the Left focus on issues like financial regulation rather than class struggle against capital.Trying to make sense of this crisis is one important step toward developing both an analysis of late capitalism and some of the tasks that confront the Left. To be sure, any assessment of unfolding events will necessarily be partial and incomplete. Nonetheless, it is possible to offer some crucial guidelines for making sense of this crisis.A Banking Crisis, Not a Liquidity CrisisIt is critical to recognize at the outset that, contrary to the claims of central banks, this is not a liquidity crisis, i.e. financial turmoil caused by insufficient supplies of money flowing through the financial system. Instead, we are dealing with an insolvency crisis caused by the fact that many financial institutions are effectively broke. The result is a trauma in the banking sector.This trauma persists because a myriad of lending institutions hold billions of dollars in massively depreciated paper that nobody is interested in buying from them. There is a host of exotic names for this paper, but essentially it is an array of debt obligations – titles to payment of interest and principal on a vast array of loans. Until the crisis broke, investors had been treating this paper as a pile of assets that they could always sell, i.e. as real wealth. Yet, the value of a debt rests in the first instance on the capacity of the borrower to pay. If the borrower can't pay, the alternative is for the creditor to seize the asset. But if the asset itself is losing value, then it may not cover the loan – and there might not be anyone out there who wants to buy it. In short, it may not be convertible to cash.And that is precisely what is happening on a larger and more complex scale today. Economic reality is demonstrating that much of this paper – tied in the first instance to tens of millions of U.S. mortgages – is worth billions of dollars less than what was paid for it. So much of it is being written off or written down (revalued at amounts that involve enormous losses). It is as if you once had $1,000 in the bank, against which you'd borrowed many times that amount (say, ten times that amount or $10,000) and you have now learned that you only have $500. Once your creditors discover that, they'll scramble to collect in the knowledge that there's no way you will ever pay off all that you owe. But your $500 will be gone pretty fast. And since you owe $10,000, a lot of your creditors (including people who bought fancy paper called "Collateralized Debt Obligations" which includes some of your loans) won't be able to collect. And they won't be able to sell off your debts to anyone else either.Precisely such dynamics are at work when an institutional "run on a bank" occurs, of the sort that rocked Bear Stearns in mid-March. In the course of 48 hours, Bear's holdings of cash and liquid assets plummeted from $17 billion to $2 billion as investors pulled their funds from the bank.So the root problem is not a lack of liquidity in the system. It's that there are all kinds of institutions out there that nobody wants to lend to and whose ostensible "assets" nobody wants to buy. Worse, none of the players in the system are entirely certain as to who is holding increasingly worthless paper, or how much of it they have. As a result, the flow of funds between banks, and between banks and other lenders (like mortgage companies), keeps seizing up.This is the reason that injecting cash into the system doesn't restore confidence. In fact, despite deep cuts to interest rates by central banks, particularly the U.S. Federal Reserve (designed to encourage borrowing) and massive injections of money into the banking system, American banks have continued to tighten lending to consumers, corporations and other banks (Financial Times, May 6, 2008).When investors lost confidence in Bear Stearns, they did so for a fundamental economic reason, not a simply psychological one: Bear's actual assets, particularly those tied to real estate loans, had been losing massive amounts of value for months. In fact, in June of last year, two of the bank's hedge funds, which were deeply invested in sub-prime mortgages, effectively collapsed.Continue reading:

Friday, June 27, 2008

Judge: Treatment of Khadr described by US official violated human rights

So Canada is complicit in U.S. violation of human rights. This is hardly surprising news. Canada does this routinely as part of the joint "war on terror". Canada surely was involved in a type of rendition lite in the three cases the Iacobucci inquiry is investigating. By the way there is not a peep out of that inquiry. Their website is virtually a deadsite. The final report is now due in September I understand. Most of the inquiry is in secret and behind closed doors. Even so there will probably be some criticism by Iacobucci I imagine but little to help the three in whose name the inquiry was called.

Treatment of Khadr described by U.S. official violated human rights: judge
Last Updated: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 11:35 PM ET
CBC News
The treatment a U.S. official said Omar Khadr received at Guantanamo Bay to prepare him for an interview by a member of foreign affairs was a violation of international human rights, a Canadian federal court judge ruled on Wednesday.
Judge Richard Mosley ruled that a government document relating to the possible mistreatment of Khadr at Guantanamo Bay is part of the material that must be disclosed to his defence team lawyers. Khadr is at the U.S. naval base in Cuba awaiting trial before a military commission on charges that he murdered a U.S. army sergeant in Afghanistan in 2002, when he was 15.
Mosley said a paragraph in one of the documents, which had been blacked out by the federal government, contains information from a member of the U.S. military regarding "steps taken by Guantanamo authorities to prepare" Khadr for an interview with a Canadian foreign affairs official in March 2004.
"The practice described to the Canadian official in March 2004, was, in my view, a breach of international human rights law respecting the treatment of detainees," Mosley said.
Canada "became implicated" in violating international human rights when the foreign affairs official learned about Khadr's treatment but decided to interview him anyway, the judge said.
Mosley referred to a recent report in the U.S. describing harsh interrogation techniques used on Guantanamo detainees that would not have been permissible under American law and that are prohibited by the U.S. military.
"Canada cannot now object to the disclosure of this information. The information is relevant to the applicant's complaints of mistreatment while in detention," Mosley wrote.
Mosley's ruling follows a Supreme Court decision in May that Khadr has a constitutional right to see certain videos and documents held by Foreign Affairs, the RCMP and CSIS. The items relate to interviews Canadian officials conducted with Khadr during his detention at the U.S. naval base in Cuba in 2003 and 2004.
The Supreme Court ordered Ottawa to grant limited access to the material and gave a federal court judge the task of assessing what parts of the documents should be passed to Khadr's lawyers by determining whether they "fall within the scope of disclosure obligations."
Government lawyers said information was classified
Lawyers for the Canadian government had argued that releasing the files could jeopardize international relations and reveal classified information. They said that Canada isn't obligated to hand over the files.
Mosley said an edited version of the tapes should be handed over to Khadr's defence team. Sensitive information and the identities of officials who attended the 2003 interview must be edited out, he said.
He also ordered that five pages of the 186 pages of interview notes and witness statements that had originally been withheld be disclosed to the defence team.
Mosley left it up to Khadr's defence team to decide what material they will release to the public.
"Mr. Khadr and his counsel will be free to use the information as they see fit for the purposes of his defence, including release to the media for publication," he ruled.
Media, including the CBC, intervened at the federal court, asking for the release of the videotaped interviews by CSIS and foreign affairs officials. Lawyers argued the footage should be released in order for the public to assess how CSIS helped

High Court Reprimands CSIS over policy of destroying evidence

Of course nothing will be done to punish the CSIS any more than anything was done to the RCMP or CSIS for their misdeeds re the Arar case. Intelligence operatives are the untouchables along with some special forces units operating in Afghanistan. There is zero accountability and an almost nil chance of anyone being held responsible for any wrongdoing. Harper is hard on crime except when the offences are committed in the war against terror. Some involved in the Arar affair have actually been promoted.
Destroying evidence was a policy. Given that evidence is destroyed it cannot be used against the CSIS or by suspects such as Charkaoui. Very convenient.

High court reprimands CSIS over policy of destroying evidence
Last Updated: Thursday, June 26, 2008 2:25 PM ET
CBC News
Adil Charkaoui flashes a victory sign in Montreal after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on his case Thursday. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)
The Supreme Court of Canada has scolded Canada's spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, for destroying classified evidence related to the case against a Montreal man accused of having links to terrorism.
However, the court in Ottawa unanimously decided Thursday that it will not halt the proceedings to have Adil Charkaoui deported to his native Morocco.
Charkaoui, a landed immigrant who came to Canada 13 years ago, was arrested in 2003 and imprisoned until 2005 under a controversial security certificate, used to hold foreign-born terrorism suspects without charge based on secret evidence.
"This is not a half victory, it's a full victory, even though I wasn't able to have the proceedings stopped," Charkaoui, 34, told reporters in Montreal after the decision was handed down.
"In 20 years, this is the first time CSIS is told to be careful of what it's done… For the first time, those people are told they cannot do this sort of thing. They cannot destroy evidence and put information in files that are nothing but summaries, with no context."
In preparing its case against Charkaoui, CSIS provided summaries of its agents' interviews with Charkaoui to a federal judge, but destroyed the original notes and taped conversations, in keeping with an internal CSIS policy designed to protect sensitive security information.
"The destruction of operational notes is a breach of CSIS duty to retain and disclose information," the Supreme Court wrote in a summary of its decision.
Original notes provide better info, court says
CSIS's duty to retain all intelligence is clearly outlined in Section 12 of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, the Supreme Court said. The court said CSIS should be presenting all its evidence to judges in court cases, and those judges can determine what is safe to release to the public, and what is not.
"The meaning of the word 'intelligence' in Section 12 should not be limited to the summaries prepared by officers. The original operational notes are a better source of information and evidence," the court wrote.
The destroyed evidence in question came to light during a fourth review in Charkaoui's case at a Federal Court in January 2005. Government lawyers admitted CSIS had done two interviews with Charkaoui that they had inadvertently failed to disclose as evidence when Charkaoui's case began in 2003.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Emerson made head of foreign affairs

This is an ideal choice for this government. Emerson is a turncoat Liberal widely praised by analysts apparently. No doubt this is because he has shown himself to be unprincipled and also a sellout to the United States in the softwood lumber deal. This positions himself well to occupy a post where we will be a junior partner and provide manpower and cannon fodder for U.S. projects such as the war in Afghanistan. We already have a head of our forces who received a medal for service in Iraq! News Staff Updated: Wed. Jun. 25 2008 3:35 PM ET
Prime Minister Stephen Harper handed the highest profile job in Wednesday's cabinet shuffle -- the head of foreign affairs -- to B.C. MP David Emerson. It was a move praised by analysts, but one that also stirred controversy.
Before being officially assigned the post, Emerson had been serving as the interim head of foreign affairs for the past few weeks. He took over the job for Maxime Bernier, who resigned last month following a series of political blunders.
Emerson had been serving double-duty, managing both foreign affairs and his post as the head of International Trade, which Prime Minister Stephen Harper has now handed to Senator Michael Fortier, the former public works minister.
Emerson also served as the minister responsible for Canada's Olympic and Paralympic Games. Analysts have praised Emerson, 62, as one of only a handful of qualified Tories whom Harper could turn to when adjusting the cabinet.
He chairs several cabinet committees, including the special committee on Afghanistan and the foreign affairs and defence committee. Emerson is also widely credited for helping forge a new Canada-U.S. softwood lumber pact. The deal occurred after a five-year-negotiation deadlock under the previous Liberal government.
"He's been a very steady performer. He will bring adult supervision to the Department of Foreign Affairs," former Liberal deputy prime minister John Manley told CTV Newsnet shortly before Wednesday's shuffle.
Manley said Emerson should be able to help the government regain credibility on the world stage after a series of recent missteps by foreign affairs. Those included:
the misplacement of classified material
the leak of a confidential report about NAFTA positions held by U.S. Democratic presidential candidates
inappropriate public comments about an Afghan leader
However, while Emerson has been praised for his efficacy, he has also been the centre of controversy. Emerson had served as the industry minister after being appointed to the post by Liberal prime minister Paul Martin in 2004. But Emerson, who was handpicked by Martin to run as a Liberal, crossed the floor of the House and joined the Conservatives -- within days of winning the 2006 election for Vancouver Kingsway under the Liberal banner.
The move outraged many of the riding's voters, who said they would never have voted for Emerson had they known he was planning to switch parties. The Conservative candidate in the riding had come in a distant third behind Emerson and the NDP candidate.
Before his sudden and unexpected post-election party switch, Emerson declared that he wanted to be Harper's "worst nightmare."
Just days later, he embraced Harper. The move was politically shrewd for Emerson, who jumped back into a cabinet post while his former Liberal colleagues languished on the opposition benches.
The Tories did not hold a byelection in Emerson's riding after he crossed the floor. Residual anger about Emerson's switch appears to have remained. A lone protester appeared on Parliament Hill on Wednesday, holding a sign which called Emerson a "hypocrite," a "coward," and a "fraud."
Before joining federal politics, Emerson served as B.C.'s deputy minister of finance in the 1980s. He began working with the provincial government shortly after receiving his doctorate in economics from Queen's University in Kingston, Ont.
In addition to serving in provincial politics, Emerson has also served as the head of the Western and Pacific Bank of Canada and B.C. Trade Development Corporation. The married father of five also oversaw the expansion of Vancouver International Airport during the 1990s and headed Canfor Corp., one of B.C. largest forestry companies.
"He brings some really serious qualifications to the job ... I think it will be a seamless transition," Conservative strategist Geoff Norquay told Newsnet.
© 2008 All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Talisman invests in Kurdish Iraq

This is from the Calgary Herald.

These agreements with the Kurdish regional governments are ongoing even though the central government does not recognise them and there is yet no "oil law" Apparently there are other contracts being signed even in the absence of the oil law but almost no publicity is given to this since everyone is supposed to agree that the Iraq war was never about oil. Of course most people realise that it was about oil at least to a considerable degree. The passing of the oil law was one of the great Bush benchmarks but this fact has been quietly shelved. The important things in the US are the upcoming election and the economy.

Tuesday » June 24 » 2008

Talisman heads into Iraq with $300-million stake
Risks of work in Kurdistan 'manageable'

Shaun Polczer
Calgary Herald
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Despite uncertainty over the future of oil deals in wartorn Iraq, Talisman Energy on Monday said it intends to spend more than $300 million to explore in Kurdistan.
Talisman announced an agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government to assume a 40 per cent interest in Block K44 in partnership with Calgary-based Western Zagros, which will also hold 40 per cent. The Kurdish government will retain the remaining 20 per cent.
"This is an exciting opportunity in a world-class hydrocarbon basin," said CEO John Manzoni.
"It is a great fit in terms of Talisman's global expertise and the strategic objectives of our exploration program, with the potential to become a core producing area for us."
Talisman plans to spend $80 million on the first block, including past costs and a commitment to drill three potentially high-impact exploration wells.
In addition, Talisman announced an agreement to conduct a seismic survey over a second parcel, Block K39, over two years.
After the initial term, where it expects to spend up to $15 million, it will have an option to take a 60 per cent interest and drill one exploration well.
Western Zagros immediately welcomed Talisman into the fold of Canadian companies in Iraq.
Western Zagros -- formerly part of Western Oil Sands -- was a subject of controversy after it became the first Canadian firm to go there in the spring of 2006 following the American invasion.
"Talisman brings extensive experience in the international arena, operational expertise and financial capability," said Zagros' president Simon Hatfield.
Although the security situation is improving, there is some question of whether the Iraqi central government will recognize deals with western oil majors that have been signed with the Kurdish government.
Negotiations regarding the country's oil law continue as part of its attempts to hammer out a new constitution.
"We recognize that it's an issue," said Talisman spokesman David Mann. "Some political accommodation will be required. But given the amount of time involved, we still have to make a discovery before this all becomes germane."
Mann said Talisman is excited about the potential for large discoveries in Kurdistan, which has several billion-barrel fields.
Although Iraq has 112 billion barrels -- the second-largest conventional oil reserves outside Saudi Arabia -- it is also recognized as one of the least explored oil countries in the world thanks in part to its wars with Iran and then the United States.
Despite the geopolitical situation, Mann said the company has performed a security assessment and thinks it stacks up with other areas in the world that it operates, such as Southeast Asia.
"It's (Kurdistan) not a war zone like the rest of the country. We recognize there are issues, but we've done our due diligence. We think it's manageable."
Alan Knowles, an analyst with Haywood Securities, described the ongoing negotiations between the Kurdish authority and the central government as "a real wild card," but said he expects an amicable outcome for both sides.
Compared to other areas of the country, Kurdistan has been relatively unaffected by the ongoing turmoil in the south, he said.
"Kurdistan just hasn't had the continued unrest other people have had," he said.
"It's not a very expensive entry point into a world-class oil basin. I think it's positive for the company."
Talisman's shares jumped 94 cents on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday, gaining four per cent to close at $23.22.
- - -

Ontario man dies after being hit by Taser

This is from the National Post.
The guidelines suggested by the RCMP report do not seem very restrictive and would justify the use in this situation where the victim died. The taser can be used if a person becomes combative. Of course the article may not have the details of the restrictions correct but as it is described here the taser would still be allowed in many situations where it would still be dangerous to use. For example, if the person has a serious medical condition or is on drugs the effect of the taser could be lethal in combination with the condition. As Taser Corp. points out ad nauseam it is not usually (if ever according to them) that the Taser itself causes death.

Monday, June 23, 2008
Ontario man dies after being hit by Taser
Tiffany Crawford, Canwest News Service Published: Monday, June 23, 2008
Julie Oliver/Canwest News Service
An Ontario man is dead after Ontario Provincial Police used a Taser after they said the man became combative and disturbed others.
The OPP said the incident happened at about 10:30 a.m. Monday after police responded to a call of a disturbance in Norfolk County, about 130 kilometres southwest of Toronto.
The Taser incident reportedly happened at the beach hamlet of Turkey Point, which is a three-kilometre long sandy beach onlake Erie popular for fishing and hiking. The hamlet is home to very few year-round residents.
"During the encounter police deployed a conducted energy weapon," provincial police said in a statement Monday.
Officers said ambulance personnel attended the scene and the man was taken into police custody. He was then transported to the Norfolk County OPP detachment, where he collapsed.
Officers said they administered first aid until the ambulance arrived. The male was transported to Norfolk General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
A spokesman for the OPP, Sgt. Pierre Chamberland, refused to divulge the name or age of the dead man.
He said the police had no further comment on the matter, adding that because he died while in police custody, Ontario's Special Investigation Unit is investigating.
The SIU is an independent agency that investigates incidents involving police in which people are hurt or killed.
Since 2003, there have been 20 Taser-related deaths in Canada. More than 300 people across North America have died.
The RCMP's watchdog released a report last week saying he wants stricter guidelines on the use of Tasers but did not recommend an outright ban or moratorium on the weapons.
Paul Kennedy, chair of the RCMP's public complaints commission, said he supports the continued use of the stun gun, but only if the RCMP implements all of the recommendations contained in the commission's report.
Kennedy wants Tasers classified as "impact weapons"' and to only be allowed in situations where the person is combative or poses a risk of death or major harm to the officer, themselves and the public.
Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day asked the commission to look into RCMP use of Tasers after the high-profile death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport last fall.
Dziekanski died following an encounter with RCMP officers, who used a Taser on him.
Video of the incident sparked international outrage, debate over use of the devices and several investigations.
The RCMP has been using the weapon since 2001.
Copyright © 2007 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Liberals facing ''green shift' branding fracas.

Green politics seems often to be about branding and not much about substance or what is behind the brand name. The Liberal party is being re-branded. The new website should actually be to portray the reality of the Liberal party as an opposition party rather than the inappropriate rhetoric about a green shift. When in power the Liberals failed miserably to do much of anything towards meeting Kyoto targets.
The new Liberal rhetoric about going green will distract attention from other issues such as our mission in Afghanistan, the new immigration regulations that the Liberals helped pass and on and on.
Maybe the Liberals will try to file a countersuit to collect money for the extra hits that the firm''s website will receive!

Liberals facing 'green shift' branding fracas
Toronto firm challenges Dion on name
With a report from The Canadian Press
June 24, 2008
OTTAWA -- Stéphane Dion's cross-country tour promoting his "green shift" hit a potentially embarrassing pothole yesterday as a Toronto environmentalist took legal action over what she describes as "blatantly unethical" trademark infringement.
A firm already operating as Green Shift sent a cease and desist letter yesterday afternoon to the Liberal Party and the company is considering whether to sue for damages.
Jennifer Wright, who has been running the small but successful environmental consulting company for nearly 10 years, said she was heading out to a Dave Matthews concert last week when a call came in from the House of Commons.
She grabbed the phone because her company has a contract with the Parliament Hill cafeterias, providing them with products such as recycled coffee cups.

Instead, Ms. Wright said the cheery caller was Katie Telford, the deputy chief of staff to Mr. Dion, the Liberal Leader, informing her that the Liberals were about to launch their own "green shift" plan.
Ms. Wright recalls being told by the senior Liberal aide: "I just want to let you know that you're going to be getting a lot of hits on the website."
Ms. Wright said she warned Ms. Telford the Liberals could expect a lawsuit if they went ahead and used the name.
"I said, more importantly, why would you do that to a nice, friendly, environmental organization?" Ms. Wright said.
There were no apologies from Liberals yesterday, who noted the party had secured the rights to the domain name a slick-looking website that allows visitors to calculate how Mr. Dion's plan to reduce greenhouse gases will affect their family finances. Ms. Wright's website is
"What they're doing is so blatantly unethical," Ms. Wright said.
It is not the first time that a political party has run into such a problem in a bid to rebrand its environmental policies.
Environment Minister John Baird issued an apology in April of 2007 after Prime Minister Stephen Harper launched a $1.5-billion program called Canada ecoTrust even though a B.C. firm was already operating under the name EcoTrust Canada. The government pledged not to use the name any more.
Conservatives continued to reject Mr. Dion's call for a summer debate on climate-change policy yesterday, but Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and NDP Leader Jack Layton said they are eager to debate Mr. Dion all summer. Mr. Dion's spokesman, Mark Dunn, said Mr. Dion won't be debating the NDP and Greens.
"The invite is to the PM and the PM alone," he wrote in an e-mail.
The first national poll taken since Mr. Dion unveiled the proposal last Thursday found most Canadians did not know enough yet to form an opinion. But once the policy was explained to respondents, the Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey found, close to half - 47 per cent - liked the idea, while 39 per cent said they were opposed

Monday, June 23, 2008

Carbon Tax: Who wins, who loses?

This is from the Star.
The results of the tax are difficult to predict and also who exactly will win and lose. I find it strange that Dion should trot this tax out as a center piece of his policy. It is certainly not at all clear that it is the sort of policy that can be easily sold to the public or that it will in any way increase his popularity at this juncture when people are already angry at high costs of fuel. There may be little appetite and much aversion to a policy that is perceived to increase costs even though it is claimed to be revenue neutral. Sometimes I wonder if some are plotting to have Dion fail! Of course many environmentalists will applaud the tax but this may not translate into a more widespread increase in voter support.
The Liberals have already lost any credibility in my view because of their craven support of Conservative policies that they claim to oppose. Harper may just as well have had a majority since the Liberals are unwilling to challenge him except with their mouths.

Carbon tax: Who wins, who loses? - comment - Carbon tax: Who wins, who loses?
June 23, 2008 Carol Goar
Bill Graham always had a talent for cutting through political bafflegab.
It is a shame the Liberal elder statesman – who served as interim party leader, foreign affairs minister, defence minister and five-term MP for Toronto-Centre-Rosedale – is no longer a member of Stéphane Dion's caucus.
With one simple question, he pierced the attractive packaging of the Liberal leader's carbon tax plan. "What does revenue-neutral mean? It sounds nice when you say it, but it will create winners and losers. Who's going to win, who's going to lose and who's going to pay?"
Unfortunately, Graham – who is now chancellor of Trinity College at the University of Toronto – didn't ask that question in Ottawa. He posed it at a panel discussion in Toronto, organized by the Institute for Research on Policy Public.
The influential think-tank invited the city's business leaders, bankers, economists, energy experts and political analysts to a two-hour working lunch last week to discuss the challenges of crafting a carbon tax that doesn't undermine Canada's competitiveness, doesn't exacerbate regional disparities, doesn't cause federal-provincial battles and doesn't trigger a public backlash.
It was an enlightening session. The three panellists – Mark Jaccard of Simon Fraser University, Thomas Courchene of Queen's University and Sam Boutziouvis of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives – laid out the complexities of taxing fossil fuel use in daunting detail.
It would force exporters to jack up their prices, putting them at a disadvantage in world markets. To protect Canada's share of global trade, Ottawa might have to exempt products destined for sale abroad from the tax.
It could induce energy-dependent manufacturers to move to countries with lax environmental policies. The one percentage point cut in corporate tax rates that Dion is offering, plus the incentives for investing in green technologies, may not be enough to stem the outflow.
Imposing a carbon tariff could contravene Canada's trade obligations. It is unclear how a Liberal government could penalize imports from countries with lax environmental policies without violating the World Trade Agreement.
Putting a price on pollution would hurt some regions more than others. The impact would be particularly severe in the industrial heartland, which is already reeling from high energy prices and a sputtering economy; and the western oil sands, which spew huge amounts of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.
Finally, all the revenue from Dion's carbon tax would flow into federal coffers. Provinces that took the lead – such as British Columbia with its groundbreaking carbon tax and Quebec with its tax on oil and gas distributors – would be expected to join the federal plan, losing their right to distribute the proceeds of the tax according to provincial needs.
"This is going to be messy – really messy," Jaccard warned.
No one in the room needed much convincing. For all Dion's talk about simplicity and fairness, it is clear the "green shift" he is proposing would be one of the most complex, challenging and divisive policy initiatives in Canadian political history.
But it took Graham's plain-spoken intervention to bring the debate back to basics.
He asked the question millions of Canadians will be asking, as they ponder Dion's climate change plan: Will I be a winner or a loser?
The Liberal leader's pledge to return every dollar of his carbon tax doesn't really answer that question.
Collectively, Canadians will be no worse off. But individually, their fates will vary, depending on how much they earn, where they live, how they heat their home, what they do for a living, how many children they have and how much flexibility they have to shrink their carbon footprint.
What Dion is proposing is a massive wealth transfer, designed to clean up the atmosphere, cut poverty and transform the industrial landscape.
If more voters see themselves as winner than losers, Dion's plan will fly. If not, it will fail.
The technicalities of taxing carbon may be opaque. The political calculus is crystal clear.
Carol Goar's column appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

GM to build hybrid trucks at Ont. plant.

It is hard to fathom what is behind this announcement. At first glance it seems to be simply a move to defuse some of the anger at closing the truck plant. However, since the truck plant is still to be closed next year it is hard to see why it is good news for the industry or why it will do much to defuse anger over the decision to close the truck plant. This is from the National Post.

Saturday, June 21, 2008
GM to build hybrid trucks at Ont. plant
Canwest News Service, National Post Published: Saturday, June 21, 2008
Canada's struggling auto industry received some good news Saturday, with General Motors announcing it will start building hybrid pickup trucks at its plant in Oshawa, Ont.
"GM has decided to launch the new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra Hybrid production operations at the Oshawa truck plant," company spokesman Stew Low said in an e-mail to Canwest News Service.
The company had earlier said the hybrid pickup trucks would be assembled in Mexico.
Despite the new truck order, the company still plans to close the Oshawa plant in 2009 or sooner - a move that will put 2,600 employees out of work.
"It's anybody's guess how well these hybrids will sell," Chris Buckley, a spokesman for the Canadian Auto Workers, told Global News on Saturday.
"General Motors is not changing their position. Their position, still, is they're going to close the Oshawa truck plant."
The spokesman said the union plans to meet with the company again this week to discuss the future of the plant and its workers.
GM announced it would shut down the Oshawa plant in early June, just two weeks after signing a collective agreement with is unionized workers.
The announcement enraged employees, who quickly set up a blockade of General Motors of Canada's Oshawa headquarters. A court order eventually ended the blockade.
Global National
Copyright © 2007 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc..

Friday, June 20, 2008

Jewish community negates rumours of Hezbollah attacks.

Probably the Jewish community is more likely to be a victim of homegrown anti-Semitic hoodlums rather than a Hezbollah cell attaack. U.S. intelligence agencies often base their views on inadequate, misleading, or false information. The U.S. still considers Arar an Al Qaeda agent mostly on the basis of unsifted intelligence provided by the RCMP.

Jewish community negates rumours of Hezbollah attacks
Friday, June 20, 2008 - 07:21 AM By: Colin D'Mello
Toronto - The Jewish community is re-buffing a report that Hezbollah is ready to attack Canada.
Canadian Security Intelligence Service has been hearing the rumours for months, especially after a Hezbollah leader was killed in February.
But intel officials here say it's only chatter, and there's no credible information on a specific target.
However, ABC News reports synagogues in Toronto and the Israeli embassy in Ottawa was at risk.
Bernie Farber with the Canadian Jewish Congress told 680News he's been reassured by CSIS and numerous police sources.
"It turns out to be not true atall. There's absolutely categorically no truth to this story," Farber said firmly.
Farber says he was told that there's no meat behind the rumours at this point.
Either way, Jewish organizations and the federal government are on alert.

Routed Taliban flee territory north of Kandahar

Did anyone really think that the Taliban could hold territory against a NATO onslaught--oh sorry I meant the Afghan forces! No mention here of US air support. If there is any trouble troops just call in the US to bomb.
Just to hedge their bets the official pronouncements warn that there could be more attacks. That is sure a good bet. The attacks may even be inside Kandahar. The casualty count cannot be verified by reporters. Who knows what casualties there were and who they were. If they remained in the villages they are just taken to be Taliban.

Routed Taliban flee territory north of Kandahar
Despite Arghandab defeat, insurgents still capable of spectacular attacks in coming months, Canadian commander warns
June 20, 2008
KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN -- The Taliban's swift retreat from their newly conquered territory north of Kandahar city left Afghan officials triumphant yesterday, but a Canadian commander warned that the insurgents are capable of more spectacular attacks in the coming months.
Brigadier-General Denis Thompson, the top Canadian commander in Afghanistan, said Afghan forces and foreign troops pushed deep into the Arghandab valley on Wednesday night. A few hours after dawn yesterday morning, a Taliban spokesman confirmed by telephone that most insurgents were pulling out of the district.
"There is no doubt in my mind, however, that further insurgent attacks will take place in the months ahead," Gen. Thompson said.
In the past week, Taliban insurgents launched a spectacular attack on Sarpoza jail on the western outskirts of Kandahar city, freeing nearly all the prisoners, and briefly seized control of a dozen villages in Arghandab district, a strategic valley with no major Taliban presence until recently.
Speaking to reporters in Huntsville, Ont., Prime Minister Stephen Harper acknowledged that the Sarpoza raid was a "setback," and his senior commander in Kandahar said more such attacks can be expected.
Gen. Thompson said the Taliban remain capable of more attacks, even something on the scale of the prison break.
The latest crisis appeared to have passed, however. Kandahar police chief Sayed Agha Saqib said 50 to 60 insurgents were killed in the fighting, including two fleeing Taliban shot by police near the bridge that connects Arghandab with the district of Shah Wali Kot.
Many other insurgents escaped northward, officials said.
"The search is still going on," Kandahar Governor Asadullah Khalid told reporters. "Wherever they are, we will find them, and if they think what they've showed us is the tip of the iceberg, they can come back and they will get the same treatment that their insurgent brothers received in the last 24 hours."
NATO estimates that 700 families, or roughly 5,000 people, given the average size of an Afghan family, have fled Arghandab district in the past week. A military statement urged those people to go home, but the Afghan official responsible for the district, Haji Ghulam Farooq, said they should not be invited to return while Afghan and Canadian troops continue to sweep the area for insurgents and other hazards.
"We're not allowing the ordinary people back to their villages yet because we don't know if there are any land mines or Taliban left over," Mr. Farooq said. "We had fighting this afternoon, but it was only minor fighting."
One of those whose family was displaced, a 35-year-old farmer named Abdullah, said he is still waiting to be certain the Taliban have vanished. He moved his wife and four children from the village of Kohak on Tuesday, just before it was bloodily retaken from insurgents on Wednesday.
"We are happy the fighting is finishing now," Abdullah said. "But maybe the Taliban will come again to Arghandab. I thought the fighting would continue for a month or a year, like in Panjwai, so we will be lucky if this is the end of the fighting." Despite having received no assistance from the government or aid agencies, the farmer said he wants nothing but security.
"I have a good garden and pomegranate orchard at home, so I don't need anything. I just need my village back."
Some villagers had feared the fighting in Arghandab would resemble the kind of offensive launched by foreign troops in the Panjwai valley two years ago, when a large group of insurgents was routed by heavy bombing and many civilians were killed.
By contrast, the Arghandab operation appeared to rely on an influx of 1,400 Afghan soldiers instead of aerial bombings, and few civilian casualties were reported.
The Afghan military responded to the Taliban threat this week with signs of growing professionalism, the Canadian commander said.
Hundreds of troops from Kabul were relocated to Kandahar and incorporated into the local fighting force with a speed that Gen. Thompson said was impressive.
"From flash to bang we're talking about a two- to three-day period," he said. "That takes a lot of co-ordination."
The arrival of so many fresh Afghan soldiers also allowed Gen. Thompson to set up a new outpost in a soccer stadium inside the city, and request British paratroopers to patrol the streets, without leaving any outlying districts undefended.
"Nothing else was thinned out in the rest of the province," Gen. Thompson said.
But the presence of so many foreign troops inside the city limits has rattled some urban residents, who worry that the war is drawing closer.
"The soldiers must go to villages and stop the Taliban from coming to the city," said Said Ahmad, 25, a money changer. "They should not make their bases inside the city."

Obama softens on NAFTA

This is from the Star.
Too bad. It would be a great idea to open NAFTA. Canada should never have sold out all its natural resources to the U.S. as it did and continues to do under NAFTA. McCain will be spouting platitudes about the beauty of free trade and how he loves NAFTA while Obama is a danger to NAFTA.

Obama softens on NAFTA - USElection - Obama softens on NAFTA

Illinois Senator Barack Obama denies in a forthcoming Fortune magazine interview that his administration would move to unilaterally reopen NAFTA (June 18, 2008).
Presidential hopeful backs off threat to reopen trade pact; says he would talk with Canada, Mexico
June 20, 2008 Tim HarperWASHINGTON BUREAU
WASHINGTON–Barack Obama, who once vowed to use the "hammer'' of opting out of NAFTA to force the renegotiation of the trade pact, now says he will seek change through dialogue if he is elected U.S. president.
The presumptive Democratic nominee says in the upcoming edition of Fortune magazine that campaign rhetoric can sometimes get "overheated and amplified," and he denies he would move to unilaterally reopen the trilateral trade deal.
Obama's comments surfaced on the eve of a Canadian appearance by his rival, presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, who is expected to use an Ottawa speech today to highlight the Democrat's threat to reopen the deal.
Obama dialled back his anti-NAFTA stance in an interview with Fortune the same day he said he received a congratulatory phone call from Prime Minister Stephen Harper on winning enough convention delegates to get the Democratic presidential nomination.
"I'm not a big believer in doing things unilaterally," Obama said in the Fortune interview. "I'm a big believer in opening up a dialogue and figuring out how we can make this work for all people.''
His campaign denied he said anything in the interview that changed his core position on trade, pointing to earlier statements in which he promised to talk to Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon about improving NAFTA's labour and environmental standards.
At a debate in Cleveland in the final days of the Ohio primary campaign in March, Obama agreed with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton when she said the six-month opt-out clause should be invoked on NAFTA to force changes.
"I think we should use the hammer of a potential opt-out as leverage to ensure that we actually get labour and environmental standards that are enforced," he said.
But every time Obama alters his statements on NAFTA, he lends credence to a Feb. 8 memo describing a meeting between his economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, and George Rioux, Ottawa's consul-general in Chicago.
The Canadian memo, which was leaked to The Associated Press, said Goolsbee told Rioux that Obama's campaign remarks about NAFTA should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy.
In a more complete Fortune transcript, obtained by the online Huffington Post, Obama says: "My core position has never changed.
"I've always been a proponent of free trade and I've always been a believer that we have to have strong environmental provisions and strong labour provisions in our trade agreements."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Inflation rises as gas prices soar.

This is from the National Post.
No doubt as the increased cost of transportation and of manufacture of goods produced from petroleum products works its way into the prices of other commodities the inflation rate will increase even more. This will include prices for food items. We could very well be facing what I call recflation, a combination of recession and inflation.

Thursday, June 19, 2008
Presented by

Inflation rises as gas prices soar
Canwest News Service Published: Thursday, June 19, 2008
Peter Redman/National Post
OTTAWA -- Canada's inflation rate jumped to 2.2% in May from 1.7% the previous month as gasoline prices continued to soars, Statistics Canada said Thursday.
May marked the second consecutive monthly rise in the consumer price index and was the sharpest increase since January 2007. On a monthly basis, the CPI rose one% from April.
"The acceleration in consumer prices in May was mainly a reflection of the 12-month increase in gasoline prices,"the federal agency said. "This acceleration in gasoline prices occurred as crude oil prices almost doubled between May 2007 and May 2008. Gasoline prices increased substantially across the country, rising the most in Quebec and Ontario."
Statistics Canada said gas prices rose 15% in May from a year earlier, up from a year-on-year pace of 11.6% in April. Excluding gasoline prices, the 12-month growth in the CPI in May was 1.6%, it said.
Meanwhile core inflation, which excludes volatile energy and food prices and which the central bank monitors for underlying price pressures, rose 1.5% in May from the same month last year -- the same pace as the 12-month increase in April.
"Lower prices for passenger vehicles dampened the upward pressure on the core index," the agency said.
Last week, the Bank of Canada surprised markets by not cutting its key interest rate and expressing concern over growing inflationary pressures. The key rate remains at 3%.
Thursday's CPI number surpassed the central bank's 2% target.
Most economists had expected May's inflation rates would be around 1.9%.
"There are signs that spiking energy prices are spilling into other goods, though gasoline is still the main inflation source. The Bank of Canada noted last week that total inflation could approach 3% later this year," said BMO Capital Markets economist Douglas Porter.
"Given today's result, a 3% [year-on-year[ reading as early as June is quite possible [as prices fell last June]. Thus, today's report will only deepen the bank's new-found concerns on the inflation front."
Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney will likely further explain the bank's decision to hold rates steady during a speech Thursday night at the University of Calgary.
The Canadian dollar was only marginally higher after the inflation numbers were released. It closed at 98.22 cents US on Wednesday.
Charmaine Buskas, senior economics strategist at TD Securities, said the rise in inflation "is indeed, troubling, and will certainly lend support to the case that the next move for the Bank of Canada is to raise rates."
"The question is timing and in our view the market has gotten ahead of itself a bit by pricing in a rate hike by the end of the year. We expect the Bank to remain on hold through the first half of 2009 and only hiking rates by the second half of the year."
Percentage rate of inflation (April to May / May to May):
Total (+1 / +2.2)
Newfoundland and Labrador (+0.8 / +2.8)
Prince Edward Island (+1.9 / +4.1)
Nova Scotia (+1.4 / +3.5)
New Brunswick (+1 / +2.1)
Quebec (+1.1 / +2.3)
Ontario (+1 / +1.8)
Manitoba (+0.7 / +1.6)
Saskatchewan (+0.7 / +3.2)
Alberta (+0.7 / +3.7)
British Columbia (+0.9 / +2.1)
Whitehorse (+1.6 / +3.7)
Yellowknife (+0.7 / +4)
Iqaluit (+0.7 / +1.7)
Source:Statistics Canada
Copyright © 2007 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.

Taliban routed by Afghan, NATO forces near Kandahar: Officials.

This is from AFP.

Here we have official pronouncements of successes and positive spin on what has been a disaster. Note that there were air strikes. These were not Afghan but U.S. and no doubt they destroyed buildings and orchards creating a miserable situation for those returning and not likely to endear the villagers to their liberators.
We may not have witnessed the end of this operation yet as attackers may already be infiltrated into Kandahar to wreak havoc in the coming days or weeks. I wonder how NATO spokespeople distinguish Taliban casualties from those of villagers who did not flee. I guess the rule is that anyone left is Taliban!
The first casualty of war is truth and the first benefit goes to those with PR skills.

Taliban routed by Afghan, NATO forces near Kandahar: officials
7 hours ago
ARGHANDAB, Afghanistan (AFP) — Afghan and NATO forces using air power cleared Taliban militants from villages near the strategic city of Kandahar on Thursday, killing at least 56 Islamist insurgents, officials said.
Troops were now making a final search of houses in Arghandab district, a day after around 1,000 soldiers launched a huge offensive against the rebels, said the defence ministry and the NATO-led International Security Assistance force.
A NATO spokesmen said the "highly successful" operation involving air strikes would help allay concerns about the force's capabilities after hundreds of militants escaped from Kandahar's main jail at the weekend.
Taliban spokesmen had said some of the fugitives from the prison were among those who took up defensive positions in Arghandab's dense pomegranate groves and vineyards from Monday evening.
"Arghandab district is totally cleared of the enemy presence," defence ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi said at a joint press conference in Kabul with NATO officials.
Fifty-six "enemies" were killed, mostly foreigners, while a number of others were wounded, Azimi added, in a likely reference to militants crossing from neighbouring Pakistan.
A civilian and two Afghan troops also died, he said.
Kandahar provincial governor Asadullah Khaled said earlier that hundreds of Taliban were killed or wounded during the offensive and also confirmed that the district had been cleared.
NATO civilian spokesman Mark Laity said the operation, which was led by Afghan forces and involved Canadian troops, was an effective response to Friday's jailbreak in Kandahar.
"Nobody is complacent, but so far it been highly successful," Laity told reporters.
"After the recent incident, the jailbreak, there was concern about our capabilities. This was a fast and very effective response, I think something that all Afghans can take great heart from," Laity added.
The joint forces were now "in the closing stage of the operation," codenamed Operation Doar Bukhou, or Turn Around, ISAF military spokesman General Carlos Branco told the same news conference.
He accused the Taliban of lying about their numbers in the district, adding: "The insurgents were there, but they do not have the numbers or the foothold that they have claimed."
The Taliban's build-up in Arghandab posed a fresh challenge to President Hamid Karzai as he seeks to tackle the bloodiest phase of an insurgency launched after the hardline movement was toppled in 2001.
The rebels viewed the district as a strategic stepping stone towards their goal of retaking Kandahar, the city where the movement rose to power in 1996.
The Taliban said in a statement on their website that a group of "martyrdom attackers" had entered Kandahar city to target Canadian and Afghan soldiers and Afghan officials, the SITE Intelligence Group said.
With nearly 70,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, Karzai has come under growing pressure from his Western allies to improve security, but the Afghan leader has faced a series of setbacks including Friday's mass prison breakout.
Karzai responded by threatening to launch attacks on militants on Pakistani soil, sparking a war of words with Islamabad.
In the Pakistani border town of Chaman on Thursday, hundreds of people chanting "Death to Karzai" burned an effigy of the Afghan leader in protest at his comments, an AFP reporter witnessed.
The Arghandab operation began as the deaths of the six NATO soldiers were announced elsewhere in Afghanistan. Four were British, including the nation's first female casualty in Afghanistan, in the southern province of Helmand.

Kennedy: Crack down on Tasers!

This is from the Star.
Even though the report does not ban tasers it certainly does have a lot of good recommendations concerning restricting of its use. The report also makes it clear the degree to which the RCMP have misused tasers. I expect it is misused because it is simply easier and quicker to use tasers to subdue people than other measures. Even existing guidelines seem to have been regularly broken. There is no indication that officers were ever punished for violations. It remains to be seen whether these recommendations will lead to much in the way of reform or if the reporting process will be even more truncated and the RCMP and their supporters will mount a public relations campaign informing us how necessary tasers are, how safe, and how their use is far preferable to other techniques. Taser International will help with guidance and content for the campaign if asked!

Crack down on Tasers, watchdog tells Mounties - Canada - Crack down on Tasers, watchdog tells Mounties

Paul Kennedy, the RCMP watchdog, leaves a news conference in Ottawa after releasing his report on the Mounties' use of Tasers on June 18, 2008. The report was based on 4,000 incidents where the gun was used or threatened.
Wants only experienced officers to use stun gun
June 19, 2008 Tonda MacCharlesOTTAWA BUREAU
OTTAWA–The RCMP must immediately restrict the use of Tasers by the Mounties to experienced officers and order medical attention once a person is hit by the 50,000-volt stun gun, a new report says.
RCMP watchdog Paul Kennedy's report, based on a review of more than 4,000 cases where the weapon was used or threatened, was approved in principle yesterday by Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day and the RCMP.
But both Kennedy and Day signalled the RCMP has reservations about the impact on its operations.
While Kennedy rejected a ban on the use of Tasers, he criticized the RCMP for failing to act on his main interim recommendation in December to immediately restrict their use to situations where "combative" or "assaultive" suspects threaten death or "grievous bodily harm" to themselves, officers or the public.
Kennedy, commissioner for public complaints against the RCMP, said Tasers are still used in situations where suspects cannot even be described as "resistant."
Now, after a seven-month probe, Kennedy says Mounties must go even further and restrict the stun gun's use to experienced officers – above the rank of corporal in urban centres, and constables with five years' experience in rural detachments – and must summon medical attention every time it is discharged.
If adopted, the recommendation to limit who can carry a Taser could affect nearly half the Mounties now deployed on active duty, and take the stun guns out of the hands of many cops in rural and remote areas, where junior officers are frequently posted.
In all, the report contains 12 recommendations that slam RCMP data reporting on Taser use as faulty, unsupervised, and a poor justification for relaxing the rules around its use since the Taser's introduction in 2001.
Day had asked Kennedy to study RCMP protocols on Taser use in the wake of the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver airport last October.
"We see this somewhat as a victory," Walter Kosteckyj, the lawyer for Dziekanski's mother Zofia Cisowski, said yesterday. "This report was essentially calling for a conditional moratorium."
Kennedy said he accepts that there is likely an "as yet undefined" link between the stun gun's use and some deaths.
Yet he said police risk losing public confidence if they fail to become more publicly accountable for the increased use of the weapons.
"Nobody is calling for the police to be disarmed and not use weapons," said Kennedy. But, he added, "the police alone cannot and should not decide what is appropriate use of this weapon."
Day and RCMP Commissioner Bill Elliott issued written statements yesterday that welcomed Kennedy's rejection of a moratorium on the weapons.
Elliott said he would act "to provide clearer direction to our members, to further restrict situations in which the (conducted energy weapon) can be deployed, and to develop and implement measures to enhance accountability and to promote officer and public safety."
But he stressed that any "specific steps" would be need to considered along with the geographic realities and "operational imperatives" faced by the national police force.
Neither Elliott nor any other senior RCMP officer would comment further or do interviews on the report, a media spokesperson said.
Staff Sgt. Brian Roach, a staff relations representative of the RCMP's rank-and-file members, said he was "relieved" that Kennedy supports "the continued use" of the Taser.
"It is an important intervention tool that not only enhances officer safety, but public safety. Obviously, proper training and clear policy on the proper circumstances for its use are important."
Kennedy admits his data analysis did not prove younger, inexperienced officers were quicker on the Taser draw.
But he said he inferred it from many of the complaints he received, including 117 cases where 13 to 16 year-olds have been shot with a Taser.
Kennedy painted a disturbing picture of the typical police user of Tasers, and the average victim. The weapon is most often deployed when two or more officers are present, usually constables on general patrol duty. The jolts are frequently cycled multiple times.
Tasers are most often used on males, aged 20 to 39, who are usually drunk, on a Friday or Saturday night, when police are called to scenes of a disturbance or assault, or when the subject is disruptive in a cell.
"These activities have been going on since man found firewater ... we've been able to confront them without resort to the Taser," Kennedy said.
The weapon should only be available to officers who have "the maturity of judgment" and experience.
Kennedy also dismissed the "storyline" in the RCMP's training program that says it's appropriate to use a Taser to control a person in the throes of "excited delirium" so the individual might receive prompt medical attention.
Day said the government "accepts the report and its recommendations in principle, including the main recommendation to further restrict the circumstances within which conducted energy weapons may be used."
But Day quoted Elliott as telling him that he would act "in a manner that takes into consideration the operational requirements of the RCMP."
With files from Petti Fong
RCMP watchdog's analysis of Taser use
• Mostly RCMP officers in the West, between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m., often on Friday or Saturday nights.
• Often two or more officers are present; usually constables on general patrol duty.
• Most likely involves a "disturbance" or assault-related offence.
• Usually males (90 per cent), unarmed, between the ages of 20 and 39. However, many have been aged 13 to 16.
• Individuals suspected of, or confirmed to be, using a substance, usually alcohol.
• In "probe" mode – where electrodes attach to a suspect and discharge a jolt over a wide area, which "translates into muscular incapacitation in addition to pain" – the weapon is most likely cycled once for five seconds.
• In "push-stun" mode – where the weapon is pushed against a person's body or clothing, and a five-second shock is discharged that generally does not cause muscular incapacitation – police often (40 per cent of the time) cycle the weapon two or more times.
• Individuals are likely to receive medical attention if they are 50 or older; if they are female; if they are suicidal or having a mental health crisis; if weapons are involved.
• If substance use is suspected, they are less likely to receive medical attention.
• Medical attention is also likely if weapon is deployed in "probe" mode alone, or if combined with "push stun" mode, or if multiple officers are present.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Khadr report tabled in Ottawa

This is from the Globe and Mail.
To be seen as tough on terror trumps human rights for the Conservatives even when the Khadr case really is just a matter of making the optics right for

Khadr report tabled in Ottawa
Globe and Mail Update
June 17, 2008 at 1:48 PM EDT
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba — A widely leaked house subcommittee on the Omar Khadr case was officially tabled in Ottawa on Tuesday, one day before the detained Canadian is set to appear in a Guantanamo Bay courtroom for the ninth time to resume pretrial hearings before a U.S. military commission.
The report's first recommendation is that the government of Canada demand the immediate termination of the U.S. military commission's proceedings against the 21-year-old Canadian.
However, conscious of the security concerns raised throughout the Omar Khadr debate in Canada, the subcommittee also called for the Director of Public Prosecutions “to investigate, and, if warranted, prosecute Omar Khadr for offences under Canadian law.”
The subcommittee – which broke down along party lines, with opposition parties calling for Mr. Khadr's return to Canada and government members arguing against such a proposal – said in the report that Mr. Khadr should be considered a “child involved in armed conflict” and afforded special protection under international protocols dealing with child soldiers.

“The subcommittee therefore believes that the Government of Canada has an obligation to ensure that its position on the case of Omar Khadr is consistent with its commitments to international human rights law, and its policies on child soldiers and on assistance to Canadians imprisoned abroad,” the report stated.
It was widely expected that the opposition members on the subcommittee would make such a recommendations, while the government members would dissent.
In their dissenting opinion, the Conservative members accuse the Liberal opposition of simply reacting to “a recent sway in public opinion and the potential for political gain.” The Conservatives also argue that the subcommittee process was one-sided, limited in its scope and of the opinion that Mr. Khadr is a victim.
The dissenting opinion also provides more insight on the government's deep opposition to bringing Mr. Khadr home – Conservative members usually respond to questions about the detained Canadian with one or more of a handful of pre-approved talking points.
“Mr. Khadr could become a litmus test on Canada's commitment to impeding global terrorism and the results of our actions today could result in consequences that are not in the long-term interest of the country,” the dissenting opinion states.
Mr. Khadr, who was 15 when he was captured in Afghanistan in 2002, will be back in a Guantanamo Bay courtroom on Wednesday. He faces multiple charges - including the murder of a U.S. soldier during an Afghan firefight - before a military commission. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.