Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Daily Digest January 16, 2008



ST.JOHN'S TELEGRAM - Why scrutiny is healthy

CHARLOTTETOWN GUARDIAN - Getting at the roots of poverty print this article
The fact that soup kitchens and food banks have become booming businesses in this country should disturb us.

CAPE BRETON POST - Bathurst tragedy a parent's fear

HALIFAX CHRONICLE HERALD - Make way for inquiry

MONTREAL GAZETTE - A politician prevaricates!

OTTAWA CITIZEN - Weeding out bad policy

         Devil's helpers

TORONTO STAR - Put poverty on the agenda

         Baffling Mideast signals

NATIONAL POST - Abandoning Afghanistan
Dion and Ignatieff aren't just spineless -- they're misleading Canadians

         Recognizing the tarsands

LONDON FREE PRESS - Americans are dopes on pot

SUDBURY STAR - Arming boarder guards right move

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS - Harper and China

REGINA LEADER-POST - Wrong path to laudable goal

CALGARY HERALD - Butt out of lone truckers' lives

Be wary of spin-doctored combat statistics

LETHBRIDGE HERALD - Free press in peril

VANCOUVER SUN - Canada shirks its duty in Prince of Pot case

VANCOUVER PROVINCE - Should B.C. schoolkids take manners classes?


Supporting survivors of residential schools

Kabul hotel attack signals Taliban return

Military targets roadside bombs

Officials reviewing future of Kabul team

In Afghanistan, our rivalries conspire to make a great nation small

Afghan army to lead military operations, supported by U.S.-led coalition

The 'war on terror' moves East

U.S. warns Canada on plan for lumber sector supports

Ruling paves way for mercury emissions lawsuit

Canada puts U.S. on torture watch list: CTV

CTV News: Roger Smith with the surprising content 1:58

Big banks consider defying rate cut
Would risk destabilizing country's monetary policy

No bailout for Ford, Flaherty says

Ontario's economy remains resilient

The U.S. Defense secretary says he thinks alliance troops do not know how to fight a guerrilla insurgency.

NATO aghast at U.S. criticism of Afghan allies

U.S. defence chief's comments anger allies
Says NATO troops – including Canada's – not 'up to the job' of fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan

How the Pentagon planted a false story

Saliva test to signal prostate cancer risk

Study suggests bad news on antidepressants held back

US CDC launches study of Morgellons

CMA president touts privatemedical schools

Experts fear new super-AIDS,22049,23060547-5006007,00.html

Our ignorance of school violence

Victims of the revolution

Harper refuses to relinquish Ottawa's stake in Hibernia

Stelmach says environmental toll from oil sands is a 'myth'

Transit overhaul hinges on private partners

Language extremists decry lack of French

Lunn defends his handling of reactor controversy

Keen has support of colleagues despite dismissal

Keen's firing comes at crucial time
Nuclear critics say safety commission under growing pressure to approve projects

all 170 news articles »

Dion says Guergis should resign

Flaherty's task: making a virtue of thrift
The Finance Minister faces the challenge of persuading Canadians that the tax-relief cupboard is all but bare

Riding association: "That's what we're after, that everyone has their chance to be nominated."

Intervention in Pakistan key to Afghan success, Dion says

MacKay downplays U.S. critique of Afghan mission

Liberals Distance Themselves from Afghan Panel

Liberals get a boost from Kandahar trip >Chantal Hébert

Political behaviour goes nuclear >Carol Goar

Manley expected to call for partial pullout and transformed mission in '09

Anti-Americanism dictating military future

Charest and Harper still need each other
Provincial Liberals form the only federalist party in Quebec

Grit battles in Sask. highly personal

Lougheed thrashes PM's fixed terms plan

Government was asked for new standards

`Wall of secrecy' alleged over air safety reports

A game that no one ever loses makes a perfect statement about our times

I don't want to recycle all the useless junk they peddle


17 avions pour 1,4 milliard

Des déclarations qui choquent

Dion mise sur l'aide à la reconstruction

Du pétrole plus difficile à écouler

Gary Lunn s'explique

 Les E. U. veulent s'assurer que l'aide au bois d'oeuvre ne viole pas l'accord

Élections Canada contredit le PC

4,6 milliards pour 17 avions destinés à l'armée

Stéphane Dion exige la tête de la secrétaire d'Etat aux Affaires étrangères

Mutisme de la présidente de la Commission de sûreté nucléaire congédiée

Stéphane Dion juge que Pauline Marois se comporte en irresponsable

Dion exige la tête d'Helena Guergis


The 'war on terror' moves East
        The Yanks are criticizing N.A.T.O. forces for their lack of capability in fighting insurgents compared with their forces including the marines.
        Take the time to read the article from the Asia Times above. Do so  you'll be in all probability one among about 5 000 Canadians who will -
        and that's being generous to the numbers likely read it outside those receiving the Digest.
        My take on things may not be yours.  Mine is that shifting in 2 200 Iraq hardened marines for a few months will do little of value based on
        the views expressed in the article.
        Can't wait until the Manley Commission reports.

From: Margo Catamo
Subject: RE: Daily Digest January 15, 2008

In response to Phyllis Wagg:
I can imagine a few scenarios in which I would want the Leader to have the power to appoint a candidate. Not many.  I think it needs to be an exceedingly rare occurrence.

One scenario - suppose some Holocaust-denying neo-Nazi fascist manages to garner a lot of support and is about to get the nomination in the riding. You can almost imagine this being possible in one of our federal parties. Yes, I could want the party leader to be able to step in (and hope he would want to) and put a stop to something like that. 

Maybe David Orchard envisions scenarios in which a Leader might need to intevene for the greater good. I don't see that as destroying Orchard's credibility.
  However, the intervention we are seeing in Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River, SK  is quite another kettle of fish, and a rather odiferous kettle at that.
Margo Lamont Catamo
Vancouver, BC

From: Jacob Rempel
Subject: on bank mergers and foreign takeovers, a NP article  by Rick Waugh, President and CEO of Scotiabank Group.

I sent this to the National Post
What banks need. Ottawa should take a global
perspective on bank mergers and foreign takeovers
By Rick Waugh, President and CEO of Scotiabank Group.
" I'm convinced that there are real opportunities for Canadian companies to excel internationally. Many are doing so today, but more can be done to ensure that the policy framework is calibrated to the demands and practices of international commerce. The goal should be to actively encourage Canadian companies to be among global leaders, especially in areas where we have fundamental strengths and comparative advantages.

"It is time for both business and government in Canada to take action and strengthen our economic relevance in international markets. We need to appreciate the urgency of the challenges that the Competition Policy Review Panel has raised. Much remains to be done to ensure we have a vital corporate base in Canada over the long term."
Dear Editor, National Post:
I understand Mr. Rick Waugh's persuasive plea for government permission and help to get bigger and richer. I know that the CEOs and Board members and shareholders want banks and companies to get bigger and richer, and they want government help them to get bigger and richer. That seems to be our normal territorial imperative and acquisitive motivation. I learned this in Psychology 101 and personal experience. Our CEOs, corporate boards and corporation shareholders naturally share these human motivations with me.
However, Canada has about 34 million people. The over-18 among us vote for MPs to represent our personal interests. We vote for leaders to govern the nation and manage economic development to ensure the well-being of all our families and our nation.
I often read major articles about how important it is for this government to help companies to merge and expand internationally, and to help foreign companies and banks to buy Canadian companies and banks and related assets
like leases of our natural resources.
I need some serious analyses of just how the health and well-being and happiness of 34 million Canadians will improve if the government successfully promotes more international expansion of Canadian banks and other corporations, and also promotes the acquisition of more and more Canadian corporate and banking assets.
I have read very little about how the lives of 34 million Canadians improve when companies and banks merge and expand internationally, or when American companies and banks buy Canadian companies and banks. I know that share holders sometimes get richer, and of course the CEOs get bigger bonuses. But do the lives of the rest of the 34 million Canadians improve?
Do our schools and parks and homes improve? Do our poor become prosperous? Do our aboriginal people recover their health and well-being? Do mergers and foreign corporate expansions in Canada protect our natural environment?
Does Canada as a nation become better when our corporations expand globally with government support?
Does it bring peace and prosperity to Darfur,Sudan, to Afghanistan, Iraq, Congo, Haiti, Colombia, Chechnia
and Palestine? Does anyone anywhere actually become happier? 
Jacob Rempel
Retired Teacher

Vancouver, Canada

From: Marjaleena Repo
Subject: Repo replies to Phyllis Wagg

Marjaleena Repo replies to Phyllis Wagg

Phyllis Wagg has misunderstood the comment by David Orchard on CBC's Politics and based on that misunderstanding has rushed to vast and very negative conclusions about Mr. Orchard's character (Daily Digest, January 15, 2008).

David said that he recognizes the existence of the right of the Leader to appoint a candidate ­ a right that all party leaders have in Canada. The other side of the right to appoint is also the right to reject a candidate who has been chosen by the riding association. Both rights can be defended if they are used sparingly and in extraordinary circumstances. (I can think of  few reasons just off the top of my head: a candidate who has been nominated is discovered to have falsified his credentials or hidden his criminal record; a candidate who has been nominated falls ill or dies, and there is no time to go through another nomination process, etc.)

David Orchard did NOT say that he was waiting to see whether an aboriginal  female candidate was to be appointed before he declared his interest in the riding of Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River (where he owns the land homesteaded by his maternal grandparents). He was waiting to see whether such a candidate was found, in which case he would not run against her because he strongly supports having more women in the House of Commons. (If no other candidate would run, it would alsos make it possible that the female candidate would be acclaimed by the riding association, which is very different from an appointment.) David would then probably have considered another riding to run in, as he had agreed to do so at Stephane Dion's repeated requests.

Phyllis Wagg expects David Orchard to singlehandedly get rid of the right to appoint in the Liberal party's constitution ­ something usually done by a constitutional convention of the party ­ and because he has not undertaken this task as his first and apparently only priority while at the same time running for a seat in the northern riding, she calls him a "sycophant" ( which the dictionary describes as "self-seeking servile flatterer, fawning parasite, a yes man and a toady") which is a most offensively and strikingly inappropriate way to describe the person of David Orchard, as countless people who know David well and are familiar with his character and history can surely testify. (Please, Phyllis, read the letter from Joseph Iron to the Liberal Party, where he describes his community's experience with David Orchard and gives the reason for him supporting David's candidacy. The letter can be found on

Marjaleena Repo

From: Jacob Rempel
Subject: appointing candidates

Actually, every candidate for election in an Electoral District(riding?) registers as an individual with an independent official agent. The candidate has to get any 100 resident registered voters of any or no party affiliation to give written signed permission to register. The candidate and a party leader may mutually agree to indicate party affiliation (called a party endorsement) and later H of C party caucus membership if such a candidate is elected by the registered voters who may or may not be party members.
Elections Canada continues to relate to the elected MP as an individual representing all citizens of the electoral district, quite incidentally as a member of a party. The law also recognizes that the voters, not the party, elected the candidate to be their Member of Parliament, and therefore the MP is legally free to leave a caucus or to move to the caucus of another party. The voters (called electors) may or may not approve the change, and have to wait for the next election to make their sentiments known, pro or con. They often approve. I don't think that the electors in Vancouver Kingsway will approve of David Emerson's remarkably sudden change of party affiliation.
Quite often, party members are confused about or displeased with the candidate their party has endorsed, and will abstain or vote for another candidate. The river gets muddy. I hope the mud clears very soon in the Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River.
...Jacob Rempel


Subject: appoint, endorse, whatever
Reference: Phyllis Wagg's protestations

In whatever party Phyllis Wagg is active, her leader has endorsed candidates who were never chosen by party members other than by the leader. Call them appointments if you like, it's semantical, not a practical difference.
Few if any parties have organizations in 308 electoral districts. In districts where  a party has no association or even members, they regularly find some who will accept their leader's endorsement upon official candidate registration with written "acceptances" signed by any 100 registered electors of that district. When I was a candidate, I registered independently and Connie Fogal endorsed me as being affiliated with her party. I therefore indicated her party on my registration as candidate after I found 100 citizens who gave their permission to me with their signatures. Candidates in other parties signed for me.
Often the candidate has never been in that riding, and never does go to see it. (No appointment, as there is no such process except for senator members of parliament appointed by the Governor General, who is appointed (by our sovereign, and who also becomes a member of parliament). Very briefly when she reads her speech from the throne, all available members of parliament are present upon being called by the Gentleman of the Black Rod to attend her august presence in the red chamber.)
In other districts, if members fail to find a local candidate, outsider party organisers will find someone to accept a parachute and party affiliation in that district, and to
become an endorsed candidate. Representative democracy has many anomalies and imperfections, especially the latter in its practitioners. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God," Paul's Epistle to the Church in Rome, Chapter 3, Verse 23. (Even Stéphane Dion, David orchard, and Phyllis Wagg, not to mention me.)
So there, Q.E.D.
Jacob Rempel

From: Bernard Finestone
Subject: Re: A C/C/N EXTRA: Watch dog or lap dog?

What is so special about that. Anyone I appointed in my office got fired if he or she did not go along with my decisions. and I doubt that any other employer behaved any differently.
HCol  (Ret) Bernard J Finestone,  CD, CdeG

From: "Suan H.Booiman"
Subject: Watch dog or lap dog?

My feeling is that Adrian and Linda were not bilingual enough and
did not understand the instructions, is possible, was it the Minister
or the top French bureaucracy that fired them.


Subject: biligualism
To: Oda Beverley Minister of Heritage <>

                                                         Suan H.Booiman C.C.D.H.
                                                             204-1220 Fir Street
British Columbia                                   White Rock V4B 4B1                              Canad
January 16, 2008
The Hon.Mrs.Beverley Oda
Minister of Heritage.
Ottawa ON.
Reading in the Toronto Sun the story about your Manager of the Official Language
Support Program, a certain Mr.Michael Morin, running a red light and demanding to
be served in French is nothing less than narrow-minded, not fitting an bureaucratic
Am sure the personal conviction being from a distinct society and that every one
has to bow to them shows a lack of common sense, regardless belonging to a
minority group dictatorial patronized by order of Trudeau's arrogance.
The billions the country is forced to put out for this top down democratically
elected control is beyond the principle of this country, where 77 percent is English
speaking.(not mentioning the many of the claimed French heritage that do not
use the language)
The cost involved in this gentleman expectations that all laws be translated in
the French-Joual  language is above all understanding. No recommendation to
have more of the same in the higher ranks of our system.
A British Columbian,
Suan H.Booiman
From: "Phyllis Wagg"
Subject: RE: A C/C/N EXTRA: Watch dog or lap dog?

One by one the checks and balances within our system are being dismantled.  This has been going on primarily behind the scenes but occasionally the process is brought into the open by courageous individuals like Linda Keen. 
Linda Keen was correct in refusing the minister's demand to re-open the Chalk River nuclear facility because her job is to enforce the regulations.  Her role is to provide a "check" in the system.  The re-opening of the Chalk River Nuclear facility should never be a decision made by the body mandated to ensure nuclear safety when there are safety violations.  The re-opening of the facility was properly a political decision. 
If the Prime Minister and his Ministers respected the concept of checks and balances, they would have accepted the decision of the regulator and willingly assumed their responsibility by taking the issue to Parliament and it would have ended there. 
In our system the term "confidence" is a political term that refers to support for the government by the majority of the members of parliament.  Lunn is claiming that the government had lost "confidence" in Ms Keen to justify firing her because she would not make a political decision on their behalf.  They are also arguing that by voting to open the Chalk River reactor Parliament has registered its lack of confidence in Ms Keen.  This argument illustrates the belief that the public service, even when supposedly at arms length from the government, must act as a partisan political arm of whatever party is in power.
This is definitely a "new" government that believes that public servants should act like politicians.  The concept undermines the whole concept of division of powers and responsibilities.  This is a major attack on the checks and balances that have been built in to protect the interests of the public.
Phyllis Wagg
Subject: RE: A C/C/N EXTRA: Watch dog or lap dog? - How about dead dog, decapitated? ... Makes for nice alliteration, anyway
From: "Efstratios Psarianos"

 APPOINTEES RESPONSIBILITY: To the office assumed or the Government?
It depends. A given federal appointee's tenure is categorized as either "During Pleasure" or "During Good Behaviour". The former means "as long as the PM/Minister feels like keeping you" (including renomination when tenure is up). The latter means "until your tenure is up unless you've done something outrageous" (but you can be renominated if you've been good). Ms Keen's position is a "During Good Behaviour" one, which gives you an idea of how the PM/Minister perceive her recent actions and statements. (And rightly so!)
As I've stated in a previous comment, Ms Keen has publicly supported her agency's position, with said position being a Gross Breach of Public Ethic. The position in question, and Ms Keen's statements:
   - shutting down AECL's NRU isotope-generating reactor, which had the Obvious Consequence of stopping 60% of the worldwide production of Medically-Irreplaceable substances that have very short shelf-lives;
   - insisting that the reactor stay shut down until safety features had been fully installed ON ALL SYSTEMS (in this case, on both of two cooling-water pumps) rather than allowing one one to run while the other was being upgraded, and this despite the Obvious Fact THAT THIS WOULD CAUSE THE SUPPLY OF MEDICALLY-IRREPLACEABLE SUBSTANCES TO RUN OUT WORLDWIDE and that this SUPPLY DISRUPTION WOULD POSSIBLY (MAYBE EVEN CERTAINLY) LEAD TO DEATHS WORLDWIDE;
   - insisting on the above despite the fact that the PERCEIVED DANGER WAS A VERY IMPROBABLE ONE (an earthquake that would knock out the cooling-water pump power supplies) and that installing earthquake-resistant power supplies was a safety IN ADDITION TO THE MANY ALREADY IN PLACE;
Right now, AECL's NRU reactor is running again, with one pump running with its earthquake-resistant power supply operational, and with the backup pump being turned off and having its new power supply installed. This enables the NRU to work at full capacity while the backup pump's power supply is being installed, and it secures the worldwide supply of medically-irrepalceable substances. And it enables the NRU to OPERATE SAFELY because of all the other safety measures built into it.
Hence, the issues:
1. agency policy = deaths (or a significant possibility of deaths). No need for comment on this.
2. agency policy = favouring the elimination of risk, no matter how remote, at the price of many human lives (or danger to those lives);
3. the risk of there being an earthquake that would knock out both pump power-supplies is very remote (although not impossible);
4. even if both power supplies were to be knocked out, other existing safety features would all have to be knocked out too before the NRU's becoming a danger.
Based on policy and technical considerations and on their consequences, the agency's position is unjustifiable, is contrary to public interest, and is a CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER to human life. That alone calls for publicly flogging the agency's leaders.
Then, there's the responsibility thing. First, precisely what is "responsibility"? Until 10-odd years ago (I'm 44 now), to me "being responsible" meant:
   - doing what's expected of me (eg, acting responsibly);
   - something being my job or function (eg, "It's my responsibility, I'll do it");
   - and it being my fault when it doesn't work or lets others down" (eg, "Who's responsible for this mess?").
Boy, was I wrong. The above are just colloqualisms that mask the true meaning of responsibility: the just duty of having to answer for my actions when asked to by legitimate authority (and, according to some ethical theories, often when asked to by "stakeholders"). What this works out to is that when someone takes up a task justly assigned to him, then that someone, within the limits of his mandate:
   - must be free to decide how, when, etc., to perform his task;
   - must have the means to perform it;
   - must answer (be accountable) for his actions, etc., to legitimate authority (always) and "stakeholders" (some times, and possibly in a limited manner).
No freedom to decide = strong possibility of not being able to do one's task in an acceptable way or with acceptable results. This a perfect excuse for not performing. The task is either impossible because of restrictions (eg, regulations, procedures), or the person performing the task has no autonomy (eg, he has to do what other tell him, he has to follow rules that force him to act in a way other than what his mandate requires). In the latter case, the person giving orders to whomever performs the task is the one calling the shots and is thus the one who ought to be responsible. In any case, the one who performs the task (and thus has nominal responsibility) must let it be known, to whomever he's responsible to, that he can't perform his task and thus can't be held responsible.
Insufficient means = similar to no freedom to decide. No possibility of performing a task means that one can't be held responsible for failing to do so. But again, the person nominally responsible must let it be known.
No accountability (note: THIS is the Big Idea behind responsibility) = not having to answer ("respond", hence "responsibility") for one's actions. And having to answer/respond comes with the possibility of being sanctioned (or outright punished) by legitimate authority (or whatever one is responsible to) if one fails to perform the task, do it badly, misbehave, etc. Note that for one to answer for his actions, one has to answer TO someone / some group of people: one can't answer to a machine, a god (not on Earth, anyway), "humanity", "the benefit of mankind", or "the greater good". No one to answer to = no one to confer responsibility = no responsibility.
Accountability is the reef on which Ms Keen's argument gets wrecked. When legitimate authority (the PM/Minister) called her to account, she insisted that it was her agency's (and thus her) responsibility, and no one else's, to approve and enforce nuclear-safety measures in Canada. But to her, responsibility meant not answering to legitimate authority but rather to "the greater good", "the people" or something like that. In other words, by telling the PM/Minister to stay away from her agency and to stop questioning its actions and decisions, she was effectively saying that she was not responsible, that is IRRESPONSIBLE, to legitimate authority. And by declaring herself and her agency irresponsible to the PM/Minister, who is himself (themselves) responsible to Canadian voters, she was indirectly declaring herself irresponsible to Canadians.
So: policy-technical reasons for not shutting down the NRU reactor; potentially deadly consequences of shutting down the reactor for a prolonged period; and declaration of irresponsibility. The only result could have been Ms Keen's coming to conscience (and thus resigning), or her knuckling under to pressure (and again, resigning), or her sticking by her guns (and being fired, which is what happened). In any way, she had to go. And rightly so.

        Why was Linda Keen fired? For not fulfilling the responsibilities of her office or not acceding to the demand of the Minister whose Department
        had not ensured the conditions of a license were fulfilled fourteen months after it was granted ?
As concerns the license not being fulfilled, that requires investigation. Whoever didn't do his job, whether at the agency or at AECL, needs a good talking-to. Also, heads may have to roll to get the point across. I don't know any of the whys and wherefors, so I can't say more, but first impressions make it seem to me that someone should get the axe at AECL ... not respecting an operating license is as serious an offense as there can possibly be in the nuclear field (irresponsibility coupled with high sensitivities, an explosive combination, pardon the pun).
Plus, procedures have to be reviewed, rewritten if necessary, and enforced. Some guy at the agency saying that he e-mailed the Ministry about the shutdown and assuming that everything was OK because no one at the Ministry ever got back to him is a gross failure of communication, no matter who's at fault.

        The message to those holding office at the pleasure of the Government is clear, at least to me: support "the government's position" or be fired
That's pretty much the definition of "During Pleasure", yes. But Ms Keen's "During Good Behaviour" meant that there would have to be good reason for firing her. Which there was. If she feels differently, she can sue the federal government for illegal dismissal. I wouldn't count on her chances, though ... she's got much less to stand on than those Chretien Liberals that Paul Martin, Inc. fired from VIA, etc.