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Blue Blogging Soapbox
...rambling rants, thoughts and musings on mostly political topics - from your late night blogger.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

On blogging 
(en francais)

We all have our up and down days and weeks when it comes to blogging. One of the reasons I started doing the Blogging Tories Site of the Week was to help highlight bloggers on the roll who might otherwise escape attention. The BT is blessed with some fantastic bloggers, although some with higher profiles than others.

I must say, I was really happy when I saw a recent post by this week's site of the week, At Home in Hespeler. It's always nice to give someone a lift and it was also good to hear that other people are taking a little bit of time to visit the various Sites of the Week. There is such a diverse group of people on the roll that you are really denying yourself if you don't visit someone you normally wouldn't.

Blog on!

WE Speak at 10:24 p.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

On the way... 
(en francais)

Moving day is almost done. Down to one last desk, chair and computer. (and a whole bunch of cleaning).

Damn, I hate moving - almost as much as unpacking!

WE Speak at 9:52 p.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

Monday, February 27, 2006

NDP MP is the sham 
(en francais)

The following article awaited me as I opened up today's issue of the Windsor Star. I haven't written a Letter to the Editor in a while and this one certainly cries out for a response. My submission follows the article.
MP calls judge hearing 'sham'(subscribers only)
Danger of compromising top court nominee on future legal matters, Comartin says

Roseann Danese, Windsor Star
Published: Monday, February 27, 2006

Windsor MP Joe Comartin is raising concerns about today's historic public hearing that will see MPs question Supreme Court of Canada nominee Marshall Rothstein, a federal court judge.

Comartin, the NDP representative on the 12-member committee that will publicly scrutinize Rothstein this afternoon, is calling the hearing a "sham" and a "public relations exercise" by the new Conservative government.

"I'm highly critical of the Conservatives doing this," Comartin said Saturday. "I think they're trying to mimic a process in the United States that has no particular application in Canada."

Comartin, the NDP's justice critic, is backing away from earlier threats to boycott the hearing. But he plans to table a motion before the hearing, setting out the criteria for questions and spelling out what should and shouldn't be asked.

Comartin says the committee should ask questions about Rothstein's capacity to get along with other judges, about how he analyzes the law and about his specific qualifications. They're technical questions that will bore most people, but they're important to know and they won't subject the judge to partisan grilling about matters that may come before him during his tenure on the nation's highest court.

Comartin believes the government is responding to a segment of their supporters who want to see Supreme Court nominees vetted over their positions on contentious issues such as same sex marriage, abortion and age of consent. "There is this rabid right wing group that is very, very adamant about trying to bring in these types of hearings," he said.

But such tough questioning doesn't really mean anything in Canada. Unlike U.S. Senate hearings, the committee of MPs overseeing the hearing here has no real power to stop the nomination. In the U.S., the Senate can veto a Supreme Court nomination.

"That cannot happen here. Our constitution gives the Prime Minister sole authority to appoint Supreme Court justices," Comartin said.

Real danger

The real danger lies in compromising the justice's position on matters that could be placed before the Supreme Court in the future.

"You do not want the judges to be asked questions that would show that they've prejudged a factual or legal situation," Comartin said. "What you see happening in the United States is where judges are backed into a corner and forced to take a position."

He noted the Bloc Quebecois representatives on the committee have said they want to ask Rothstein how he would have voted on the case of Sue Rodriguez, a severely ill B.C. woman, who was not entitled to receive assistance to end her life, according to an earlier Supreme Court ruling. "So in effect they're asking him what's your position on assisted suicide," Comartin said.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said he wants the hearing to shed light on an appointment system that always has taken place in private.

Letter to the Editor

NDP MP the sham

The only thing that was a sham in Monday's article on the new Supreme Court selection process was NDP MP Joe Comartin's response. He managed to accuse the Conservatives of implementing an American style process, aligning themselves with a rabid right wing group and carrying out this process only to advance their own social agenda.

How about looking at things from a different perspective. The new hearings are a first step in breaking open a process that has been dominated by secrecy, politics and an elitist legal community. No longer will Canadians have to accept a 'father knows best' attitude when it comes to appointing judges to unassailable lifetime appointments.

For an MP representing a so called progressive party, Mr. Comartin is certainly portraying a regressive attitude. Under the current system, Prime Minister Harper could simply appoint his own version of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. No rabid right wing vetting process to worry about, an absolute fait accompli.

Academics and politicians alike have been spending millions of dollars trying to figure out how to engage Canadians in the political process. The answer is simple. Unlock the door, open the window and let the public in. The public can't be all that bad, we keep electing you and the 307 other MPs to represent us. Although on some days, who knows why we do.

Stephen Taylor also wades in on the issue of Joe Comartin and his 'progressive' attitude.

WE Speak at 5:56 a.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

Congratulations Windsor Lancers 
(en francais)

Lost in all the noise of the Winter Olympics, the University of Windsor had a stellar weekend in OUA sports. The Women's Volleyball team achieved a first in sweeping the championship series over 9th ranked Toronto. In the last 34 years only Toronto, York, Ottawa and Western have won a volleyball title. Windsor beat all the odds and three of those four teams on their way to victory. A fantastic achievement for the team.

The Women's and Men's team continued their dominance on the track, retaining both titles. Lancers head coach Dennis Fairall has built a world class program at the University that continues to excel. Eschewing the traditional track focus on individual performance, Fairall has fostered a team concept that everyone feeds off of. The results speak for themselves.

Rounding out the action, the Men's Basketball team ended an 18 year drought in playoff action winning an OUA quarter final match against the Waterloo Warriors with a buzzer beating 3 point shot. With 7 wins in their last eight games, the men now face top seed McMaster in the semi-finals. Best of luck to the team.

Congratulations to all the Lancer athletes on their outstanding performances.
Lancers wins first ever OUA Championship

For the first time ever, the University of Windsor Lancers are the OUA Women's Volleyball Champions. The visiting Lancers upset the #9 Toronto Varsity Blues 3-0 to win the conference crown and earn a place in next weekend's CIS Championship in Calgary.

Lancers retain OUA track title

Men, women sweep championships
Jim Parker, Windsor Star
Published: Monday, February 27, 2006

Once in the lead, the University of Windsor Lancers never let up on the accelerator.

Both the men's and women's team built on leads established in the first day of competition and eventually romped to victory Saturday at the OUA track and field championships at the St. Denis Centre.

It was the second straight title for the women's team and the eighth straight title for the men.

Lancers advance to semi-finals with dramatic buzzer beater

The Lancer Men's Basketball team qualified for the OUA Semi-Finals in dramatic fashion this afternoon, with a buzzer beater victory over the Waterloo Warriors 61-58. The team has now won 7 of their last 8 games.

WE Speak at 4:37 a.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Time to Move on Pt II 
(en francais)

Time to move on Pt I

Last time I checked, the Reform Party, Alliance, United Alternative, Democratic Alliance, Social Credit, Progressive Conservatives and whatever other names you can remember, no longer exist.

Ted Byfield makes his case that Stephen Harper is ignoring Alberta and his Reform roots. I guess he forgets that Stephen Harper is the first Prime Minister elected from west of Ontario since 1979. The fact that he's an MP from Calgary and now holds the top job in Canada is just chump change to him. He has accomplished what neither Preston Manning nor Stockwell Day were able to do. He has united the right under one banner, reduced the Liberal's to a minority then defeated them in favour of his own minority. Along the way he has increased membership, rebuilt the organization and brought a sound fiscal foundation back to the party.

To level a charge that he's forgotten Alberta when the government is less than a month old is good for circulation I suppose. Not satisfied with that, he raises the spectre of Stephen Harper finding a way to transfer Alberta's wealth to the east. Toronto fears and resents Alberta and will find a way to pressure Stephen Harper. This one is almost as good as the National Enquirer's yearly psychic predictions. IF Stephen Harper actually brought forward a proposal to initiate something like this, by all means slice and dice him. Hauling out this old bogeyman is nothing short of fear-mongering to sell papers.

Brian Laghi's article
features the old standard quote "It is a lot of the old Tories," said one caucus member who asked not to be identified.

So the unidentified caucus member wants to act just like disaffected Liberals. Agree or disagree with Garth Turner, at least the man speaks his mind and doesn't hide behind journalistic anonymity.

You'll have to excuse me. Now that I've finished reading these articles I have to go change the paper in my bird cage and refill the outhouse supply.

WE Speak at 8:24 p.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

Blogging Tories Site of the Week 
(en francais)

At Home in Hespeler

I am a mid 40's father of 2 and husband of 1 living in Camridge, Ontario. I commute about 75 Kms , to work with a major automotive manufacturer. That makes me a grudging CAW member. I have a BA in economics from the University of Waterloo. I play Guitar, mostly classical because that's easy to do in the basement after the kids go to bed: but also because it allows me to play some of the worlds most stunningly beautiful music. I also play with a friend on an occasional basis, and we play old time blues and straight up rock.

Make sure you read the Grounding in Hespeler Toy Raid Expected post, including the comments. Makes me wonder just who is getting grounded!

Blog on!

WE Speak at 7:00 a.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

Saturday, February 25, 2006

BZ to Hillier 
(en francais)

Congratulations to General Hillier for keeping this issue front and centre. To be honest, it's not just Tim Hortons, but the CFPSA and Canex organization that must get it's act together and make this happen.
General ready to take Tim Hortons boss to Afghanistan for coffee

Canadian Press
Published: Friday, February 24, 2006

OTTAWA (CP) - The country's top soldier is prepared to personally escort the boss of Tim Hortons to visit Canadian troops in Afghanistan if it will help get a Tim's running over there.

Gen. Rick Hillier says his soldiers in Kandahar keep pestering him about when they might see one of the iconic coffee shops open.

Soldiers' fondness for the chain's coffee and pastries is legendary.

American troops in Afghanistan have access to fast food from Pizza Hut and Burger King, but the Canadians can't get fresh Timbits.

Hillier says it would be a big morale-booster to have a coffee shop in Kandahar.

"I invite the CEO of Tim Hortons to come with me to Afghanistan and see the powerful implications that would come from that."

The company said in a statement that it's working with the Forces on having its products available in Afghanistan.

"We are excited about the possibility, and have a great relationship with the Forces," the statement said.

"We understand how our service personnel feel about their Tim's and we, with the Canadian Forces, are seeing what we can do to bring a little taste of home to those serving overseas."

WE Speak at 6:40 a.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

I thought this was about Universal Childcare? 
(en francais)

Just how many 'childcare spaces' were going to be created by Saskatchewan's Pre-kindergarten program? From the description below, it was to be two half days for all four year olds. What about the 3 year and unders? What are the parents supposed to do for the other four days of the week?

So just what is the issue here, is it about childcare or education?

Here's an idea. How about using the money for this year to create infrastructure for non-profits to take advantage of the funding offered in the Conservative plan. Think outside the box instead of stomping your feet.
Pre-kindergarten expansion cancelled
Last Updated Feb 23 2006 12:31 PM CST
CBC News
A plan to set up pre-kindergarten programs throughout Saskatchewan will not go ahead this fall after all.

The provincial government announced a pre-kindergarten plan in the Nov. 7, 2005 speech from the Throne that was supposed to allow all four-year-olds in the province to spend two half-days a week in school.

But now the province says a loss of federal money means that will no longer happen.

Saskatchewan and the former Liberal government had a deal for a five-year, $146 million child-care plan last year, but when the deal was scrapped when the Conservatives won last month's federal election.

The Conservatives have their own child-care plan, which involves paying families $1,200 for each child under six years old.

The province estimates there are more than 11,000 four-year-olds in Saskatchewan.

Only about 1,600 of them go to pre-kindergarten.

Learning Minister Deb Higgins has expressed the government's disappointment with the loss of the child-care funding. She said the province-wide expansion of pre-kindergarten can't happen now.

"What we're going to have to do is step back and see what we can afford to do, just with provincial funding," she said.

WE Speak at 1:18 a.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

Friday, February 24, 2006

A month late? 
(en francais)

I thought this and all sorts of other disasters were supposed to happen on the 24th of January not the 24th of February.
Quake Rattles Ottawa - West Quebec
Josh Pringle
Friday, February 24, 2006 9:36 PM

There are no reports of injuries or damage after a "moderate" earthquake rattled Ottawa Friday night.

Natural Resources Canada says a magnitude 4.5 earthquake rattled the Capital Region at 8:39 pm.

The quake was centred in Thurso, Quebec.

Ottawa Police and the City of Ottawa say there are no reports of damage across Ottawa.

Seismologist Sylvia Hayak says the west Quebec area is a fairly active earthquake zone and quakes of this size are not uncommon.

Hayak says they've occurred about once every 10 years.

WE Speak at 11:02 p.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

Delayed decision for RIM and NTP 
(en francais)

Basically the Judge told them, go settle this or you're both going to be unhappy when you next come in the court room.

Rim decision prudent: lawyer

Patent lawyer, analyst applaud judge's decision not to impose immediate injunction on BlackBerry service


Globe and Mail Update

A U.S. federal judge was prudent to reserve his decision on Research In Motion Ltd.'s long-running patent dispute with NTP Inc. because it turns up the pressure on both sides to try again to reach a settlement, one patent lawyer said.

"I think the judge is obviously sending a strong message to both parties to think long and hard about whether they want to see his decision, because it might not please either party," James Hurst, a patent lawyer at Winston & Strawn LLP in Chicago, told globeandmail.com. "He is just doing what a good judge does."

District Judge James Spencer's move not to order an immediate injunction against RIM's BlackBerry service in the U.S. gives the two sides time to work out an agreement. The judge reserved his decision Friday, and stressed that the patent case should already have been settled and that a damages order may follow shortly.

WE Speak at 10:20 p.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

Thursday, February 23, 2006

One last trip to the trough 
(en francais)

No great surprise here. It's common knowledge that this generally occurs at both the federal and provincial levels across Canada, some worse than others. Thankfully public knowledge of this is expanding which will help drive its reform.

I noticed a bunch of announcements when the $1 billion in funding was authorized by an Order in Council during the election. At the time, I cruised through the rest of the orders for October and November. I remember making a note to come back and look into them a little deeper, but then election events overtook me.

I agree with most of Greg Weston's article, with the exception of creating a new impartial staffing agency to handle these appointment. The last thing we need to be doing is creating new government agency.

Canadians already have a staffing system in place, Employment Insurance. Their job listing system is more than suitable for these appointment. List the appointment available and requirements. Intial vetting to ensure all requirements are met would be done at the point the application is submitted. Names would be removed from the applications, to be replaced by reference numbers. The only time names would be revealed would be interviews for a final selection process. Use the system we already have and add some personnel where required. There's no need to re-invent the wheel here.
Departing Liberals kiss their Grits

Poking through some recent cabinet records, we discover that Paul Martin's government spent its final days in power doing what Liberals have always done best -- namely, sending Grit faithful to hog heaven by the truckload.

By our count, Martin and his gang doled out a breathtaking 212 patronage appointments -- and that's just in the two weeks before the election was called last November.

Some were relatively minor plums, but most were not.

In the category of nice work if you can get it, the list of lucky Liberal appointees includes: Civilian and military judges up to the highest echelons; a dozen ambassadors; directors of huge Crown corporations; trustees of national museums; executives of important federal agencies; immigration adjudicators; even promotions in the most senior ranks of the RCMP.

At that rate -- and if voters had not kicked Martin's butt out of office before he could do more damage -- Mr. Dithers might well have matched Pierre Trudeau's record patronage spree of almost 2,000 Liberal appointments in the year before his retirement in 1984.

... more
H/T Dust My Broom

WE Speak at 7:53 p.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

What's in a title? 
(en francais)

I guess the Liberals are still dealing with the shock of no longer being the government. With the release of their Shadow Cabinet, it makes me think of George Bush's 'No child left behind' progam.

Not counting Opposition Leader Bill Graham the shadow cabinet consists of 85 Critics, Associate Critics, Whips and the like. A note at the bottom states that all the critic positions haven't been finalized as yet. I'm assuming the 8 Critics without associates will be filled. That gives us 94 out of 102 Liberal MPs with some sort of title. What about the other 8 Liberal MPs? It's just not fair that they're left out in the cold.

Suggestions for titles for these poor souls will be gratefully accepted in the comments section. Once we have a collection of titles, we'll have to wait for the final shadow list in order to assign the appropriate title to each forgotten MP.

Here's my first few suggestions:
1. Official Greeter for Stornoway (preferably a more 'senior' MP)
2. Special Assistant to Ex-Prime Minister Paul Martin
3. Special Liason to the RCMP responsible for Criminal Investigations

... add your own!

WE Speak at 10:11 p.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

Supreme Court Appointment 
(en francais)

I've been reading and watching a lot of what is being said in the MSM, blogs and message boards regarding this subject. The following is something I posted at FD in response to a long running thread regarding party policy. I thought it was worthwhile to blog about.
People should always listen very carefully to what Stephen Harper says. His first goal is to pass the top five priorities. That will take a great deal of focus to accomplish.

The Supreme Court appointement was not the place to fight a battle so early on in the government. He has set a precedent of an all party committee review, choosing from the Liberals short list simplifies the process and reduces complaints. The important factor is that a public review process has been established.

Look forward. I wonder just how many Superior and Appeal Court appointments are coming up over the next 2 years? One will be made to fill the spot left open by the Supreme Court pick.

With the precedent already set for public hearings, the government has time to plan and prepare for a more open and honest process from the very beginning to the actual selection.

Everyone seems to be focused on the "one" opportunity in the next 7 years. Look beyond that one appointment. Where do the majority of Supreme Court Justices get picked from?

The politicization of the process starts at the initial drafting of the list and the subsequent paring down to a short list. The Liberals put a semblance of a process in place to draft these lists, the problem was it was still conducted in secret. Look for Harper to come up with a process that is open, transparent and public. Once that is in place, I can see a final move to free votes in Parliament.

It's barely been three weeks since the swearing in of this government. We can't be expecting knock out punches every time the government makes a move. Change is a marathon race, not a sprint.
For another similiar view, see Let it Bleed's 'Getting There'

WE Speak at 6:43 p.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

'Unsure Liberal' discovered 
(en francais)

After much Googling, a few brown envelopes and a job offer for a down-on-their-luck Liberal staffer, I've discovered the just launched website for the frontrunner in the Liberal Leadership race.

Bookmark this one, it's the one to watch!

WE Speak at 12:40 a.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Smear and fear continue 
(en francais)

Considering how well this strategy worked for them in the last campaign, I hope the current batch of Liberals continues to amaze us with their in-depth analysis.

By the way, speaking of a politicized judiciary, just how many was it of Cotler's friends and former associates made it to the bench?
Harper to Politicize Supreme Court Appointments

The Supreme Court is an independent judicial body and judges should be selected based on the over-riding principle of merit and not on the political leanings of the government of the day. As Liberals, we are highly skeptical of a public hearing process that could become politicized and impinge on the dignity of the Supreme Court.

Canada’s Constitution calls for a clear separation of powers between Parliament, the Executive Branch and the Judiciary. By politicizing the appointments process, the Conservative government is blurring this Constitutional line in order to clear a path for their right-wing social agenda.

WE Speak at 10:34 p.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

CUPE sets strike date 
(en francais)

Looks like everyone's going to the wall on this one. Strike date is Thursday, 12:01am.

Once again, the provinces children will be held hostage to other's agendas. If children truly are the future of our nation, this practice must end.
Ont. pension bill prompts CUPE strike Thursday

Updated Tue. Feb. 21 2006 7:37 PM ET

CTV.ca News Staff

More than 100,000 Ontario Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) workers are set to strike Thursday in reaction to a final government reading Tuesday of a controversial pension bill.

Bill 206 was introduced to the Ontario legislature on Tuesday afternoon for a third and final reading.

"No one's pension is in any danger whatsoever as a result of this legislation," Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister John Gerretsen said in the legislature Tuesday.

He said pensioners should not be worried about losing money in their pensions.

"Pensioners will not see a reduction in the amount of pensions that they are receiving because of Bill 206," Gerretsen said.

In response, CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan said he will initiate strike action at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

WE Speak at 8:18 p.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

A little lemon with that Basil 
(en francais)

Jack Layton must be hauling out the stress relief dart board again today.

Not content with campaigning for the Liberals or supporting the Bloc, Buzz Hargrove unveils his latest election strategy. The NDP should just stop running candidates in most ridings in the country and let the Liberals win. The Liberals, of course, would reciprocate in the other 10 ridings.
Liberals, NDP should join in coalition, Hargrove says


OTTAWA -- Taking his controversial strategic voting plan a big step further, Canadian Auto Workers president Buzz Hargrove said the Liberal Party should stop running candidates in NDP-friendly ridings while the NDP should pull out of Liberal strongholds.
Lest local readers forget, this is the man who supported Joe Comartin for the leadership of the NDP and who Joe Comartin and Brian Masse continue to loudly support.

No need to run candidates in Windsor - that belongs to the NDP. Despite the fact that Essex was represented by NDP MP Steven Langdon for eight years, it should be returned to the Whelan family.

Buzz must be running out of unions to raid and is looking for another sideline.

WE Speak at 10:23 a.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

You decide 
(en francais)

One organization is a threat to democracy and freedom in Canada, the other is an educational voice for people.

Organization A

Organization B

WE Speak at 8:20 a.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

Truly amazing - a local tax break 
(en francais)

It's always nice to see how motivated some councilors are during an election year. A tax reduction, no matter how small though, is welcome.

Now we just have to convince the City of Windsor to get out of business. Between the Golf Course, Convention Centre and the Marina the city is spending way too much time and money competing with local businesses.

The Cleary Convention Centre requires over $600,000 a year in subsidies. A public outcry forced the Cleary to relinquish a City catering contract that it had outbid a local business on. The Convention Centre is too small to attract large conventions and without them it doesn't seem to be able to turn a profit.

The Golf Course and Curling Club, while turning a small profit, takes up time of both staff and councilors to manage. As well, it is not being upgraded or improved due to the optics of spending 2 or 3 million dollars while people's basements are flooding. They also compete with other golf courses and banquet halls in the city.

The marina? Sell it with the a clause to maintain a public boat ramp. A quick look at the map on the linked site shows that there are no lack of marinas available in the Windsor Area. With 300 docks, fuel, and concessions the City is a direct competitor to numerous area businesses.

This doesn't even take into account the other White Elephant on Riverside Drive, the Chrysler Building. We're paying $70,000 a month for two bare floors of space that we can't rent and subsidizing the Chrysler parking garage to the point where it has drained our parking fund. Expropriation payments are 30% over estimations and the process is still not completed. Good example of why cities should not be developers.

Sell them and pay down the debt. A more aggressive debt reduction plan will allow the city to begin directing more money to the Capital Infrastructure budget. Deteriorating roads and sewers are core city responsibilities, not golf courses, marinas and convention centres.

A pat on the back is deserved for a reasonable budget, but I wouldn't be applauding too much. There is still a lot of work to be accomplished in a city that is only completing roughly 65% of recommended infrastructure projects.
City gives taxpayers a tiny bit of a break
Budget boosts road and sewer upgrades
Doug Schmidt, Windsor Star
Published: Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Mayor Eddie Francis and city council applauded themselves Monday night for delivering something most Windsorites haven't seen in a long time -- a tax break.

For the average local homeowner -- with a property valued at $150,000 and hit by an average 2006 assessment hike of 3.44 per cent -- the total city tax bill this year dips slightly to $2,595 from last year's $2,601.

City council unanimously approved a 2006 operating budget of $298.8 million, as well as a capital budget of $72.7 million that is heavy on boosted spending for roads and sewers upgrades.


The same average ratepayer whose property assessment remained unchanged this year can expect an even better break, a total tax rate cut of 3.5 per cent, or a $92 reduction over last year's bill, according to Onorio Colucci, acting city treasurer.

WE Speak at 6:33 a.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

Help a Liberal... end the pain 
(en francais)

Check out Rick Mercer's Media Zone

The video is called "Unstaffed Liberals"

Desktop wallpaper is available in various sizes.





WE Speak at 4:56 a.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

Riot Tones 
(en francais)

Cell phones are fast becoming powerful activist tools. Text messaging is being used for organization, communication and coordinator.

Riot Tones is an interesting service. Image being able to take the audio from one of the Liberal campaign spoofs and convert it into a ringtone, then making the ringtone publicly available.

The service is currently in Alpha testing and is expected to launch in the spring of 2006.
Riot.tones is the first Web 2.0 free and open source hosted service dedicated to the generation and distribution of cell phone ringtones by grassroots activists. By simplifying the complicated process of editing, converting and transferring MP3 files into file formats supported by cell phones, Riottones is turning a closed, corporate communications medium into a global alternative broadcasting network for progressive political voices around the world.

WE Speak at 12:17 a.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

Monday, February 20, 2006

Did we forget to mention... 
(en francais)

I smell class action with that side order of stupidity.
McDonald's sued over french fry ingredients

Associated Press

CHICAGO — McDonald's Corp. is facing at least three lawsuits related to its disclosure last week that its french fries contain wheat and dairy products.

Debra Moffatt of Lombard, Ill., seeks unspecified damages in a suit filed Friday in Cook County Circuit Court that accuses the company of misleading the public. Her attorney, Thomas Pakenas, said his client has celiac disease that causes gastrointestinal symptoms when set off by eating gluten, a protein found in wheat.

"You cannot sell gluten-free french fries when they have gluten," Pakenas said. Moffatt's lawsuit seeks class-action status.

McDonald's said Feb. 13 that wheat and dairy ingredients are used to flavor its fries. Those substances can cause allergic or other medical reactions in food-sensitive consumers.

Earlier this month, McDonald's also acknowledged that its fries contain a third more trans fats than it previously knew, citing results of a new testing method it began using in December.

WE Speak at 12:11 p.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

Worst kept secret in town 
(en francais)

Supreme Court nominee to face questions from Parliamentarians
February 20, 2006
Ottawa, Ontario

Process designed to increase openness and accountability

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced the process that will be used to fill the current vacancy on the Supreme Court of Canada. At the centre of the process is a publicly televised appearance by the nominee before the Ad Hoc Committee to Review a Nominee for the Supreme Court of Canada.

“The Supreme Court is a vital institution that belongs to all Canadians,” said the Prime Minister. “I believe the public deserves to know more about the individuals appointed to serve there, and the method by which they are appointed. A public hearing is an unprecedented step in this direction,” he continued. “It will bring more openness and accountability to the process of appointing people to our nation’s highest court.”

The hearing by the Ad Hoc Committee to Review a Nominee for the Supreme Court of Canada is an interim process designed to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Justice John Major. Full details of a process to fill future vacancies will be announced at a future date.

Details of this interim process are contained in the following backgrounder.

* * * * * * * * * *


In the interest of greater openness and accountability, the Ad Hoc Committee to Review a Nominee for the Supreme Court of Canada will publicly interview the nominee to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Committee will not be a parliamentary committee, although it will be comprised of parliamentarians. It will be subject to rules of procedure agreed to by all parties having recognized status in the House of Commons.

The Chair of the Committee will be responsible for ensuring that ordinary parliamentary rules of decorum are respected and will act in a manner that reflects the will of the committee.

The merits of a number of candidates had been previously thoroughly reviewed and assessed through a process of extensive consultation by an Advisory Committee set up by the previous Government, which included Parliamentarians. The Prime Minister has decided to select the nominee from the short list created by that Advisory Committee in the interest of ensuring that the Supreme Court is able to fulfill its important functions with a full complement of nine justices.

The hearing by the Ad Hoc Committee to Review a Nominee for the Supreme Court of Canada is an interim process designed to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Justice John Major. It does not preclude changes to the Supreme Court appointments process being made in the future.

(emphasis added by me)

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(en francais)

It's a shame that Ezra Levant has to explain the FORK article, but he does so in today's issue of the Calgary Sun. Anonymous sources are the lifeblood of political reporting. Most times they infuriate people. They often are provocative and blunt, hence the desire for anonymity. Party insider, Conservative source, top Liberal; we've heard them all.

I wonder just how many campaign managers and fishing buddies Ralph has?
Insult was unfair
Racist overtones of slur were beyond the pale


A man of the people runs a government for years, dispatching a series of opposition leaders. He coasts to re-election. The media like him because he's a colourful character -- a little guy who made good.

His would-be successor is fancy. He's corporate. He serves for a term as finance minister, taking credit for balancing the budget. He waits patiently for the chance to sit in the big chair as leader.

But years pass, and the boss gets comfortable in the job.

So the leader-in-waiting builds up his campaign organization, raising millions of dollars, especially from his corporate friends.

The old boss announces he's sticking around a little bit longer, and the successor feels betrayed. The boss in turn feels rushed, as if he's been shuffled out too soon.

The would-be boss's campaign lieutenants gripe. The harder the dauphin pushes, the more the boss digs in his heels. A civil war looms; the most successful party in the land starts to lose its discipline and unity. Leaks and accusations fly. So do personal insults.

Paul Martin vs. Jean Chretien in 2003? Or Jim Dinning vs. Ralph Klein in 2006?

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Miller needs to balance budget 
(en francais)

Toronto Sun columnist Sue-Ann Levy takes Mayor David Miller to the woodshed and back again. (see also "Come, take us over" and "The TTC's magic bus")

Seems like Mayor Miller didn't like Toronto Board of Trade President Glen Grunwald's suggestions for balancing Toronto's bleeding red budget. Miller doesn't want to hear any suggestions that don't start and end with yet another bailout from the Province.

Grunwald cites things like a 20% increase in spending, a City Auditors report with over 800 suggestions for efficiency savings languishing on a shelf and a general sense of a lack of prudent management when dealing with the budget. I know - shocking isnt' it. The Mayor's response?
Mayor Miller fouls out
Miller defended his attack. The Board of Trade had not done a proper analysis of the city budget, he said. "For such a sophisticated organization to do such a shoddy job was completely inadequate."

He then went on to note that the Board has "been Toronto's ally ... today's presentation didn't befit the role they have as city builders.
Why the focus on Toronto's budget? With Premier McGuinty set to hand over additional taxing powers to the City of Toronto with no strings attached, how much longer do you think it will be before other municipalities are clamouring for the same thing? Hamilton, London, Kitchener-Waterloo and all the others will want their piece.

Problem is, that piece is you and me and there's only so much of us to go around. Given the choice of making hard decisions to balance a budget or increasing an entertainment tax or hotel tax, what route do you think most councillors are going to choose?

Toronto needs to get it's own budgetary house in order before receiving any new taxing authority, and that authority better have some rather stringent conditions attached. Anything less will be a recipe for disaster.

Other posts on this topic: Miller never saw a dollar he didn't like (to spend)

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Blogging Tories Site of the Week 
(en francais)

Babbling Brooks
Where left is never right.

I'm an Ontario redneck who hopes Alberta will invade and occupy Ontario sometime in the next week or so. I'm a proud Papa Bear to Boo and Mini-Boo. My wife Litlbit is sexy. I'm not very. I'm a small-c and a BIG-C conservative. You want to know more, start reading the blog. Oh, I almost forgot. I believe most problems can be solved with weaponry of a high enough calibre. Take me seriously at your own peril.

Stop in and say hello.

Blog on!

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

O'Connor well suited for the job 
(en francais)

Hugh Winsor injects a little sanity into the supposed 'conflict of interest' problems faced by Gordon O'Connor as Minister of Defence. Some of his analogies in the article are bang on. What's next - a lawyer can't be Justice Minister or a farmer is disqualified as Agriculture Minister?

There's nothing wrong with an ex-lobbyist as defence boss

The critics attacking Prime Minister Stephen Harper's appointment of retired brigadier-general Gordon O'Connor as Minister of National Defence because he once lobbied for companies in the defence and aerospace industries are missing the point. There's a much bigger equipment problem hobbling the Canadian Forces than an unsubstantiated apprehension of a conflict-of-interest scandal.

The critics are apparently unaware that defence procurement has become such a complex and sclerotic business, involving at least half a dozen government departments and central agencies such as the Treasury Board and the Privy Council Office, that a defence minister has little or no influence over equipment choices.

Allan Williams, who recently retired after being assistant deputy minister at the Department of Public Works (which has the contracting authority for defence purchases) and assistant deputy minister of materiel at the Department of National Defence, told a conference at Queen's University that, in the 10 years he had been closely involved with defence procurement, not once did a minister influence the outcome. "Ministers are quite aware of the high political and legal risks in even trying to do so."

Referring to Mr. O'Connor's appointment, Mr. Williams said that "whether or not he was a lobbyist in the past, he will not have much of an impact on who wins any contract. . . . That may be disappointing to him and frustrating to him, but that's the way it is.

... more

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Anyone home? 
(en francais)

Between the federal Liberals and their provincial cousins in Ontario, I'm surprised there's anyone left to report the news these days.
A camera-ready candidate
Ben Chin may be media-savvy, but he faces a tough fight to become an MPP


Special to The Globe and Mail

The 42-year-old Mr. Chin found his calling in broadcast journalism in 1989 after submitting a demo tape to CITY-TV. The next 14 years included a stint with CBC Newsworld and ended with a short-lived position at what was then Toronto 1 (now SunTV). As the latter station was tanking, he accepted a new position at Global, but before he even made it to air, he attended a media lunch with party brass from the Premier's office and was offered a senior communications advisory position.

Within a few months of his taking the job, party officials approached him to run.

His move into politics makes him the latest in a long line of journalistic recruits to the Liberal party: Ex-CBC journalist-turned-communications adviser Matt Maychak helped Dalton McGuinty come to power in 2003, and others now working for the party come from Global TV, the National Post, CFRB, CFTO and the Toronto Sun.

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Baby steps 
(en francais)

A reasonable compromise. It looks like Justice Minister Toews is going to pick the next Supreme Court Justice from the previous government's short list, but then hold public hearings with an ad hoc committee of MPs.

This will probably displease many on all sides of the political spectrum, for various reasons.

Like I said, a reasonable compromise.

Supreme Court pick the first to face MPs
Harper to choose candidate from Liberals' short list

Janice Tibbetts, CanWest News Service
Published: Saturday, February 18, 2006
OTTAWA - The Harper government is poised to name a new Supreme Court of Canada judge next week and subject the contender -- for the first time -- to public questioning by federal politicians.

Justice Minister Vic Toews will announce on Monday that he will set up an ad hoc committee of parliamentarians and hold a public hearing by the end of the month, a source confirmed.

The prospective judge, to be named from one of the Prairie provinces, will be chosen from a short list of three contenders that was submitted to the former Liberal government just before the election was called in November.

While the new judge will be questioned by a committee, the members will not have veto power, as they do in judicial confirmation hearings in the United States.

The final decision will remain with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, as is dictated by the Constitution.
H/T Jack's Newswatch

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Deja vu? 
(en francais)

Rick Bell has a great article in today's Calgary Sun on the leadership rumblings in Alberta
Error apparent
Ambition, ex-cessive pride, a lack of balance, not knowing when it is time to wait and time to yield. All qualities killing those craving the crown.

In this real life story, the king is Ralph and he has said he will leave in 20 months. He made his intentions quite clear last fall when he spoke about people lining up to replace him.

"These guys can kick tires. They can kick tires until their toes are blue but I ain't goin' until 2007 unless the party tells me they don't want me or I'm dead. Alright? Period."
Is it just me or does this sound strangely like the Chretien/Martin debacle? The forces pushing for Ralph's ouster might want to go back and study a little recent history. Do they want to risk a repeat of the Liberal's internal war in their own party?

Here's a thought. Spend your time building an organization. Work constructively within the caucus or within the party. Consult, discuss and learn what is important to everyday Albertans. Twenty months may seem like a lifetime, but look at it as a gift instead. Use the time to develop some real policy alternatives instead of the usual bullshit served up during leadership races. You have an opportunity to build something solid. Use it.

Just a thought.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Time to move on 
(en francais)

It's a shame that people and various media outlets continue to define the CPC and different issues by one of the legacy parties.

We have had a leadership race, policy convention and fought two different elections under one banner. While the history will always remain, those involved in the party must make a concerted effort to avoid perpetuating these divisive references.

Personally, I could care less which legacy party anyone was involved in. I suppose it is easier for me, in some ways, as I did not belong to either.

The key is what do you offer the party today and into the future.

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Gold and Silver for Canada in Skeleton 
(en francais)

Congratulations to Duff Gibson and Jeff Pain. Outstanding performance.

Canada wins Gold, Silver in Skeleton
Duff Gibson won the first significant skeleton race in Turin and on Friday he won his last significant skeleton race in Turin to win Olympic gold.

The 39-year-old expressed a desire to "go out on top" at the Torino Games, and he did just that, winning the competition with a combined time in two runs of one minute, 55.88 seconds.

Most observers figured if a Canadian was going to top the podium it was going to be Jeff Pain, the World Cup leader. Pain finished with a silver to give the country its first 1-2 podium placing at the Games.

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PoliticsTV - new US internet initiative 
(en francais)

A new initiative from the left in the US. Slick new site. Taking streaming video and the internet to new levels. PTV has established themselves as a media company.

PoliticsTV.com is an Internet TV network for progressives, independents, Democrats – or any American opposed to the Republicans’ radical right agenda.

Over the next several months, it will roll out several video shows and channels in addition to those on the site today. Future channels and shows include:

* THE CANDIDATE CHANNEL, featuring videos of candidates for office for state, local, federal office.

* THE CITIZENS CHANNEL, featuring video editorials - often video "rants" by PTV personalities and submitted by PTV viewers.

* THE SATIRE CHANNEL, featuring flash cartoons, sketch comedy, and other humorous and creative content contributed by PTV viewers.

* THE BLOG CHANNEL, featuring the PTV Blog, and shows featuring and about bloggers and the blogosphere.

* THE PUNDIT CHANNEL, featuring Pundit Search, a nationwide contest among would-be political pundits – a sort of "American Idol" of politics!

* THE LEADERS CHANNEL, featuring profiles of leaders from the halls of Congress to your neighborhood – and everywhere in between.

* THE IDEAS & ISSUES CHANNEL, featuring programs on the issues, opportunities and challenges facing America, and ideas and proposals for how to address them.

PoliticsTV.com was started by a group of bloggers, activists, and political professionals who believe that InternetTV presents an unprecedented communications opportunity to progressives. It is a media company under the Federal Election Campaign Act.
This is something to keep an eye on. With mid-term elections coming up we are likely to see many different applications being tested online in the US. While election regulations and financing are distinctly different between Canada and the US, many of these initiatives can be duplicated in Canada, albeit on a smaller scale.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Think outside the box 
(en francais)

Blogette has her own unique style. Personally, I think she's hit a home run with her latest...
Beyond geeky political circles, does anyone know who Kinsella is? Not really. And since there has never been a high-profile blog-type lawsuit in Canada, this will get loads of media attention.

Check out the whole post.

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Since lawsuits are all the rage lately.. 
(en francais)

I thought I'd wade in and launch one myself.

First things first, some research. After looking at several examples of suits and threats, I think I've got a firm grip on things.

When I found this blog yesterday, I must admit, I was shocked and then outraged. The damage to my reputation was possibly enormous. Once I calmed down, it hit me. Visions of three figure judgments danced in my head as I leafed through the phonebook seeking a suitable attorney.

A simple comment from my friend brought me crashing back to reality - "What if it's true?" he said.

"What!" I replied.

" I heard your mother call you an idiot just the other day" he said with a smirk. "What is it they say, the truth is the best defence?"

Damn. Foiled by my own mother. What's a guy to do.

Oh well, let sleeping dogs lie.

Down Spot.

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Another issue, it seems, with Western Standard 
(en francais)

Anyone have a copy of the current issue of the Western Standard? I like to see a little more context regarding this issue.

Edit: Found the following in the Calgary Sun. I'm still interested in seeing the whole article. On the basis of Levant's statement, the CIC press release is a little misleading. They cite Delphin as the one who "described the premier's wife" when in actual fact he quoted an unnamed source.

Mag accused of racist slur
Western Standard publisher Ezra Levant explained the article includes comments from two unnamed members of the premier's inner circle.

Levant said the pair said rude things about Klein staying on as premier too long, suggesting his wife's enjoyment of being treated well was one reason. One of the men said when Klein was no longer in office, his wife would be "just another Indian."

Levant called the remark "outrageous," but defended its use, saying it shows a rift developing between the premier and his "team" over his decision to continue in office until 2007-08.


February 15, 2006


The Canadian Islamic Congress announced today that it has joined with a
number of aboriginal rights groups to condemn a Calgary-based conservative
magazine for racist remarks made against the wife of Alberta premier Ralph

In the Monday (Feb. 13, 2006) issue Western Standard writer Ric Delphin
described the premier's wife, who has native roots, as "just another

The comment has shocked and angered Native Media Watch, the Aboriginal
Human Rights Commission of Alberta, the Metis Nation of Alberta, the Urban
Aboriginal Affairs Committee and the Institute for Advancement of
Aboriginal Women.

The CIC has joined them in denouncing the paper's conduct as insensitive
and bigoted toward the entire Aboriginal community.

"Canada is a nation of many cultures, languages and religions. All must be
equally respected," CIC said in its own summary statement today. "We call
on the Western Standard to apologize and to cease publishing bigoted and
racist material that serves only to demean minorities and divide us as a

The Western Standard also chose to reprint a set of notorious Danish
cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad. The CIC is filing a hate-crime
complaint against the magazine and its publisher.

Aboriginal NGOs have planned a press conference in Edmonton for later today
to discuss the impact of the Western Standard article.

The press conference is held at City Hall Press Room, Edmonton, 10 am local
time, today Feb 15, 2006, contact Kim Ziervogel, cell is 780-231-1873 Or
780-490-6762 or 780-231-1873, kziervogel@yahoo.ca.


Dr. Mohamed Elmasry
(519) 746-4107 (O)
(519) 498-1350 (Cell)
e-mail: np@canadianislamiccongress.com

Mrs. Wahida Valiante
(905) 771-1023
e-mail: nvp@canadianislamiccongress.com

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Why it pays to Blogsearch your own name 
(en francais)

A quick search with Blogsearch today and I found this blog.

Coincidently, the same day I received this email, around the same time the blog was created.
Sat, 14 Jan 2006 16:40:15 -0700 (MST)
Date: Sat, 14 Jan 2006 16:40:11 -0700
From: W Patels xxx@xxx.net
Subject: I don't mind being "nominated"...
To: bluebloggingsoapbox@gmail.com

... but I disagree, which is my right, with Scott Tribe's or your characterization that an Albertan Liberal cannot support the CPC. Read the article written today, and you'll see that the Alberta Liberal Party is almost the spitting image of the CPC in terms of policies. The only problem is that the CPC "borrowed" these policies from the Alberta Liberal Party, because we were the first to introduce them (e.g., on accountability).

You are also an example of why the Blogging Tories should not be allowed to use the party name, because you give the CPC a bad name.

You are just as uneducated as Scott Tribe; otherwise, you'd know that the Alberta Liberal Party is a progressive conservative party and has the name "Liberal" only for historical reasons. Get your facts straight, think, and then, and only then, open your uneducated piehole.>
For reference, see the following posts:

Apparently someone didnt like getting nominated..

Who is Canada's Political Nut Of 2005? Prog Blog is accepting nominations.

I'll have to bookmark this for the 2006 nominations!

Edit: The following email was received from Mr. Patels:
From: "W Patels" xxx@xxx.net
To: bluebloggingsoapbox@gmail.com
Subject: You need to correct your insinuation
Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2006 23:50:34 -0700

If the most recent Kinsella example is anything to go by, you should be more careful about making careless assumptions. I have nothing to do with that childish blog in your name. Implying that I had anything to do with that is libellous, and if Kinsella can sue, so can I. You better post a retraction and remove my name from the context of that idiotic blog, or you'll be facing the same music as the Ottawa Watch blogger.

Yes, we did have our disagreements in the past, but setting up a blog like that is not my style at all. In fact, I did not even know your real name until tonight (at least, it never registered before - you were always just that "Soapbox" to me).

So, get off my back and retract those silly and libellous posts of yours. This is my first and last warning.
Mr. Patels, it what you say is true, then I do apologize if you have taken offence. Unlike the assorted hate mails and other threats you have sent me, I don't believe in holding a grudge. As far as the post goes - it stands.

Your other point, "but setting up a blog like that is not my style at all" ? You really should spend some time with Google or another neat little utility called the Way Back Machine. They're just two of many handy online tools. Any of these addresses ring a bell?
How about a file called blogcast.wma - sound familiar? Interesting listening.

That took about 5 minutes.

"So, get off my back" - As stated above, after reviewing the various hate mails you have delivered and perusing your public history online, I have no desire whatsoever to continue publishing, conversing or in any way referring to you. I've learned my lesson. Done

Cross Posted to Progressive Bloggers

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Interesting communication strategy... 
(en francais)

for a so called "communications professional". His approach and debating skills leave me in absolute awe. (sarcasm off)

From the comments section at Small Dead Animals
"No, spike, the only way you would be able stomach tolerating her would be in a dark...make that a very dark...alley

The sniping of a gutter rat, the anger of a sexually frustrated blogger from Saskatchewan.

And the tunnel vision of a diehard Reformer.

Yup. That's Kate.
Posted by TDH Strategies at February 14, 2006 06:38 PM"

From Jonathon's website, TDH Strategies:

TDH Strategies skillfully weaves policy research and development, a wide range of communication services & products, and a special aptitude for writing into one entity.

Since its establishment in 2000, TDH Strategies has been able to fill the void existent between communication professionals with little knowledge of the far reaching parameters and implications of public policy and policymakers with an inability to effectively convey a message.

Jonathan Ross is a communications professional with extensive experience within federal, provincial and municipal politics from across the country. An accomplished writer that has been published over 40 times in newspapers such as the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and the Vancouver Sun, Jonathan has worked within several political environments, including the offices of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Minister of Natural Resources.

Jonathan also has extensive experience in the private sector, serving as the VP of Communications and Marketing for an inaugural international trade show, as an Associate Producer of high level websites for a major domain development company, and as a Policy and Communications Consultant for one of British Columbia's most powerful industry associations.

TDH Strategies has established strong professional relationships over several years to expand the breadth of services available to clients, including full website design and architecture capabilities, in-house layout and printing (magazines, brochures, newsletters, etc.), graphic design, as well as professional photography.

Tracked to Small Dead Animals - A Busy Day

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Superbowl and politics 
(en francais)

Local blogger WindsorCityBlog has some interesting questions for the Mayor and City Council relating to Windsor's Superbowl participation and the eventual costs:
"I wonder if any of the Councillors will demand an audit of what the real costs to the City were, the amount paid by sponsors and any shortfalls. It looks like the policing costs alone will be around the $250,000 mark.

I wonder who received tickets to the events during the week. Politicians got some freebies I know (and which they deserve for taking all the crap we give them all the time) but did Administrators get something for nothing too? I gather that some but not all attended the super-secret VIP party at the Armouries as an example. And how many Super Bowl tickets did we get and who got them?"
Add to that the $250,000 USD it cost Windsor to join the Detroit Superbowl committee. I've also heard that local hospitals all had extra staff on for the festivities, twice what would normally be scheduled. My source wouldn't tell me who won the Euchre tournament.

If the City of Windsor received free Superbowl tickets, why were they not offered to the public to benefit a local charity? A raffle or some other event would have been appropriate. The taxpayers of Windsor paid for these tickets, not the Mayor or his guests?

By the way, who did the Mayor take to the game?

I would hope that the Councillors don't have to demand an audit. A full and detailed report should be provided by the City without prodding and without all the usual delays.

I have no problem with the Mayor representing the City at events such as this. That's his job. But when additional perks such as event tickets, Superbowl tickets and the like are available as a result of large expenditures of taxpayers money, I certainly don't expect these to be used as a reward for already well paid city staffers or thank-you's to political cronies.

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Latest Canadian Islamic Conference Press Release 
(en francais)

Dr. Mohamed Elmasry is of the belief that Canadians require "remedial education".

[By Dr. Mohamed Elmasry]

Any publication which incites hate, or which spreads negative stereotypes about a Canadian minority is morally wrong because it compromises the well-being of all members of that minority. The issue here goes beyond the boundaries of free expression; it is about the power of so-called "free speech" to dehumanize fellow citizens and depict them as "not like us." Unfortunately, that consideration did not deter the Western Standard or the Jewish Free Press, so perhaps some remedial education is in order.

In modern Germany, there are museum exhibits covering the period leading up to the Holocaust. Among those displays one can see "cartoons" depicting Jews as thieves, cheats, fools, etc. All of these were caricatures that grossly exaggerated the physical features and perceived mannerisms of a targeted group or ethnic community. The message was abundantly clear: "Jews are not like us -- they are therefore not worthy to live with the rights and respect that we have."

I believe it was this sort of "free speech" that led to increasingly violent acts against Jews, which culminated in events like Kristallnacht and ultimately the horrors of the Holocaust. It was a gradual intensification of hate, with deceptively "harmless" things like cartoons helping pave the way for the evil that happened under the Nazis.

Today, a Danish newspaper's offensive cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a bomb-wearing terrorist, or a ridiculous fanatic, fall into the same divisive and dangerous stereotypical category as slogans like, "Jews are Christ-killers," "Christians are savage anti-semitic Crusaders," "Blacks are drug-dealers," "Aboriginals are lazy drunks," etc.

Ever since the news media broke the story from Europe, numerous Muslim and non-Muslim Canadians have objected to the publication of these cartoons, especially in papers and magazines originating from within our own country. One does not have to be a Muslim to feel the pain and betrayal these drawings convey. It is the same kind of pain felt by descendants of Holocaust survivors when confronted with the illogical ranting of those who deny it ever happened; or the pain of Black citizens faced with the spectacle of white supremacists marching down the main street of their

The editors of Canada's largest-circulation newspapers including this one made the right ethical and professional decision not to republish the Danish cartoons and the government of Canada expressed regrets that the cartoons were published in Denmark.

They realized that those cartoons are not about a so-called "clash of civilizations," or the collision of the Islamic and Western worlds. The real issue is about a Western Muslim minority, struggling in a hostile post 9/11 environment to live as normally as any other group in our multicultural society. It is about a minority at a crossroads in their relationship with the Muslim world of their former home countries; as such a community, Western Muslims have much to learn from Jewish history in both Europe and North America. Canadian Muslims know they must not stand apart from their fellow citizens, but must actively move into the concept of smart integration as the ideal model for social unity and cultural coherence.

One of the Danish cartoons, which depicts Prophet Muhammad as a terrorist, suggests by inference that all Muslims are terrorists. This is not merely offensive or insulting -- it is a enticing hate, pure and simple. And those rogue Canadian publications that insisted on reprinting are therefore knowingly promoting hatred against Muslims. To condone such an explicit depiction of the Prophet of Islam as a terrorist, one has to be at the very least willful in not acknowledging that such a depiction vilifies and discredits all Muslims, creating a dangerous climate for Muslims in Canada and everywhere else.

Canadian Muslims are a minority, often a highly visible one, and the vast majority of non-Muslim Canadians have grown up with stereotypical views of Muslims, no matter how well-intentioned they may be. The republication of the anti-Islam cartoons has served only to further stereotype Muslims as dangerous and threatening.

Canadian Muslims do accept and acknowledge that extremists exist and must be dealt with. But when the ideologies and actions of a very few are used as the basis to judge an entire people, distortion and unfairness are the inevitable result. Extremism is not in any way, shape or form, the essence of Muslim life. Extremism, in fact, is no more a monopoly of Islam than it is of any other faith group, whether it be Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, or Sikhism.

The vast majority of Muslims, though conservative, are moderate in their political views. Islam has long been regarded among its adherents as "the religion of the middle way." The Prophet himself, so misconstrued in the infamous Danish cartoons, repeatedly denounced extremism.

We Canadian Muslims share the same common values: a deep respect for knowledge; a passion for justice; compassion toward the sick, elderly, needy and underprivileged; devotion to the values of family life, including respect for parents and elders; and acceptance of the "other," the strangers and travellers in our midst.

We live today in one world, a global village continually connected via instant communication. Our world economy is an interdependent entity, where a ripple on one continent can cause a tidal wave on another. Consequently, the selfish and irresponsible publication of hate literature, even if some consider it "funny," damages the world we live in. We need to stop, think, and care -- after all, it's the only world we've got.

[Dr. Mohamed Elmasry is national president of the Canadian Islamic
Congress. He can be reached at np@canadianislamiccongress.com]
Tracked to Small Dead Animals - Busy Day

WE Speak at 6:39 p.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

Miller never saw a dollar he didn't like (to spend) 
(en francais)

And McGuinty wants to give more taxing powers to Miller and the gang? Talk about fox in the hen house scenarios.

Windsor's Mayor and council may be lacking on several fronts but at least they instituted a Modified Zero Based Budget system two years ago. The plan is in it's second of a three year phase in and the results speak for themselves. The budget is balanced, the debt is being reduced and our bond rating is improving again. Now if we could only convince them to sell the golf courses, marina, convention centre and stop trying to develop buildings, we'd be laughing.
Mayor's vision bankrupt
Miller's plan is 'magnificently' lacking in reality--and cash


A little more 2 1/2 years ago -- when it seemed likely David Miller would be voted in as mayor -- I warned Toronto taxpayers to hang on tight to their pocketbooks.

Weeks before election night, I noted the tax-and-spend Bob Rae clone had no fiscal "plan B" other than relying on unrealistic pots of gold from the province and the feds. I predicted property taxes (and other fees) would go up under Miller.

We all remember how NDP premier Rae's fiscal policies drove the province deeply into debt. Now, as I watch Miller and his minions waiting for a money miracle to bail them out of a $532-million operating deficit mess of their own making, I pray that taxpayers catch on this time around.

I truly fear that if the mayor and his socialists are allowed to continue on the same track, this city will sink into record levels of debt, or near bankruptcy.

Coun. Case Ootes says there's no "setting of priorities" whatsoever. "This administration has never seen a program it didn't like ... it just implements everything that comes along regardless of the cost," he said.

It's not just an absence of fiscal vision, leadership or even interest in the budget proceedings from His Blondness -- the same mayor who expects the province to give him more powers, fiscal and otherwise, under the pending City of Toronto Act.

WE Speak at 6:51 a.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

$6 million for Windsor Spitfires 
(en francais)

Long rumoured and finally here. Peter Dobrich, Warren Rychel and Bob Boughner take over the team 7 days after the end of this season. While current owner Steve Riolo's purchase of the team kept it in Windsor, his ownership over the last 18 years has been a OHL version of Harold Ballard, without the profitability.

Now all we need is a new arena. Most locals are hoping the trio can do for Windsor hockey what Mark and Dale Hunter have done for London.
Owners flush with cash
New arena not dead issue, says Mayor Eddie Francis

Jim Parker, Windsor Star
Published: Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Windsor Spitfires' new owners say the team can be a successful business as well as a winning hockey club.

Pete Dobrich, one of the Spitfires' ownership group that includes current NHLer Bob Boughner and former NHLer Warren Rychel, said Monday that despite the $5-million to $6-million price tag, the new owners won't be short of working capital.

"They're hockey guys, but they're also dollars and cents guys," Dobrich said in an interview after a news conference to announce the team's purchase from longtime owner Steve Riolo.

Dobrich, 37, acknowledged the team did not come cheap. At more than $5 million, it's one of the highest prices paid for an Ontario Hockey League franchise.

In recent OHL transactions, Oshawa was sold for $3.8 million in 2004, Belleville for $3.5 million in 2004 and North Bay, which moved to Saginaw, Mich., in 2002, for $3 million.

... more

WE Speak at 6:18 a.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

Renner and Scott win Silver in Ladies Sprint 
(en francais)

Beckie Scott and Sara Renner win Silver in the ladies sprint

Despite a pole break during one of Sara Renner's laps, Scott and Renner skied a fantastic race. It's hard to say if the broken pole cost them the gold, but it's a possibility. Scott was leading entering the stadium, but just didn't have the kick to hold of the Swedes.

Way to go! You've done Canada proud today.

WE Speak at 5:45 a.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

Trackbacks installed 
(en francais)

Finally got around to installing trackbacks. I've installed Haloscan, although just for the trackbacks, not the comments. Sometime over the next couple of months I want to transition to Wordpress on my own host, but post-election that project has moved a little lower on the to-do list.

Up to now I've been using Adam Kalsey's great manual trackback tool. It's simple to use, but the drawback is that no one can trackback my posts, as well you have to manually post code to signify the trackback on your own site. Blogger's linkback just doesn't cut it.

Haloscan should do the trick until I get around to shifting to Wordpress.

Track away, if you so desire.

WE Speak at 4:24 a.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

Monday, February 13, 2006

CPC EDA Websites 
(en francais)

I'm currently attempting to put together a list of CPC EDAs with active websites. If you know of one, please post the link in the comments or email me. bluebloggingsoapbox@gmail.com


I have links already for the following EDAs:


Burnaby - New Westminister


Calgary South East

Carleton-Mississippi Mills


Dartmouth-Cole Harbour






North Vancouver

Nanaimo-Cowichan Electoral District

Ottawa South

Ottawa Centre


Prince Edward-Hastings

Saanich-Gulf Islands

St. John




WE Speak at 9:11 p.m. links to this post    | en francais | Go to Top|

Local NDP MPs choose volunteers, money over principle 
(en francais)

Edit: Welcome to Small Dead Animals readers. Thanks Kate, for the link. While you're here, check out the preceding post - NDP has a 'principle' problem.

Looks like local NDP MPs Joe Comartin and Brian Masse know who butters their bread.
MPs fight Hargrove ouster
Comartin, Masse want NDP to reconsider decision to kick out CAW chief

Don Lajoie, Windsor Star, with files from Star news services
Published: Monday, February 13, 2006

"I hope there will be little effect on the federal party," said Parent, whose local representing DaimlerChrysler and Casino Windsor workers is one of the most influential in the union. "But it would be up for debate in our union and that's not a good situation."

A dispute with the CAW will hurt fundraising and volunteer support for NDP candidates, Comartin said.

"The money is a secondary consideration when compared to the number of volunteers we could lose," he said. "If the union urges them not to volunteer there's no question we'll be hurt."
I don't know about you, but it seems to me that an 85% vote to violate the NDP constitution is a pretty clear message.

The latest NDP constitution(pdf) was adopted in 2004. In light of recent events, maybe it's due for some emergency amendments or quite possibly just a "wider interpretation".

Sometimes the shoe's a little tight when it's on the other foot. It might get even tighter once they get around to dealing with the fact that the CAW not only supported the Liberals but campaigned for the Bloc as well. I guess that one will have to be Jack Layton's call as an issue of national scope.

Amazing what you can find when you pull back those bedcovers.

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NDP has a 'principle' problem 
(en francais)

Much has been made this weekend over Buzz Hargrove's ouster from the Provincial wing of the NDP. Apparently the situation has been clarified and Buzz is only suspended, not expelled.

A closer look at the CTV article highlights another dilema for the Provincial NDP.
"No, I have nothing to apologize for," Hargrove said Sunday on CTV's Newsnet. "Nine-hundred (CAW) delegates debated this and voted overwhelmingly, over 85 per cent, for this to be the position of our union going into the federal election. I defended that and promoted that throughout the campaign. I have no regrets."
A look at the NDP constitution(pdf) has this to say about affiliated organizations such as the CAW:

4.01 (1) Affiliated membership shall be open to trade unions, farm organizations, co-operatives, ethnic associations, women's/men's organizations and other appropriate organizations.

(2) An organization wishing to affiliate shall do so through methods determined by the organization itself.

(3) A local, regional or provincial organization may apply for affiliation for its membership in the province or for members of a local, lodge, branch or district.

4.02 Each affiliated organization shall undertake to accept and abide by the principles and Constitution of the Party, and shall not be associated or identified with any other political party.

4.03 Each application for affiliation shall be made to the Provincial Council. Any such decision for affiliation may be appealed to the following Provincial Convention, which shall have the final determination on any such appeal.

4.04 The per capita fee for affiliated organizations shall be determined by the Provincial Council.

4.05 Any member of an affiliated organization may, at any time, officially notify his/her organization that he/ she does not wish his/her per capita payment to be made to the Ontario New Democratic Party on his/her behalf, and the organization shall forthwith cease to do so.

4.06 Subject to Article 3, a member of an affiliated organization may become an individual member of the Party upon the payment of the difference between the annual per capita fee paid on his/her behalf and the individual membership fee.
With over 85% of CAW delegates voting for the position of strategically supporting Liberals, they have violated their terms of affiliation with the NDP.

So what's it going to be? Kiss and make up or abide by the terms of the constitution?

Money and supporters or principle?

Stay tuned.

Bonus: I wonder how many Conservative and Liberal union members know about clause 4.05 of the Provincial NDP constitution:
4.05 Any member of an affiliated organization may, at any time, officially notify his/her organization that he/ she does not wish his/her per capita payment to be made to the Ontario New Democratic Party on his/her behalf, and the organization shall forthwith cease to do so.
Might be worth a phone call or two. Who knew?

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