Saturday, February 09, 2008

Daily Digest February 9, 2008



ST.JOHN'S TELEGRAM - You may have already won

HALIFAX CHRONICLE HERALD - Playing in sand boxes

        Slap on the wrist

MONTREAL GAZETTE - Afghan prisoners are entitled to justice

        And another thing ...
        Concise comments on some current topics

OTTAWA CITIZEN - Property prejudices

BELLEVILLE INTELLIGENCER - Dion should go on offensive, offer credible Afghan options

TORONTO STAR - Harper's opening Afghan gambit

        Why organs are for sale

NATIONAL POST - The Suzuki shtick

         Speaking of waste

SUDBURY STAR - Province shouldn't have cancelled bidding process for home care

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS - Armistice, Mr. Harper

WINNIPEG SUN - Exclusively black not right

SASKATOON STARPHOENIX - Dreams offer voters solace

CALGARY HERALD - What's Harper really up to?


        Dr. Stelmach waves a wand

LETHBRIDGE HERALD - Coming clean on infections

VANCOUVER SUN - B.C. has to get a handle on private schools to ensure a good education for foreign students

VICTORIA TIMES-COLONIST - The wrong way to decide on war


G7 finance ministers worry over global economy

Allies heed plea for help

Afghan officials seek to ease handover fears

PM rallies NATO support

NATO's divisions on dress parade

Judges must think police work in a fantasy world

Tasers need to be banned

GTA Muslims with multiple wives collecting multiple welfare cheques causing outrage

The political gloves are off and the heavyweight leaders are taking a shot at everything, but the cost may be a TKO of Albertans' cash

Alta. Tory campaign hits bumps in first week

PM to speed forestry, factory aid to Quebec
Harper meets Charest for an hour to discuss economy, other issues with possible election looming

Afghan debate gets ugly
Ottawa seeks to extend mission as barbs fly in the Commons

The blindly irrational debate over Afghanistan

Conservative motion offers Dion an exit
Analysts say government's line in the sand was carefully drawn to give Liberals political cover

Tories brace for fight
Motion to extend combat mission a matter of confidence, setting stage for election

Baird faces renewed scrutiny over O'Brien investigation

Dion faces uphill battle explaining Liberal position

Safe-injection clinics are okay, legal cannabis is not, Dion says

Green Party organizer to run for NDP

Stephen Harper caps secretive Quebec City visit with Carnaval tour

Manley provides political cover

PM will get the election he angled for

The cult of Harper

Election campaign bound to highlight ...

It's what others say about you that brings on the trouble

Suzuki's dragnet can't keep real science behind bars

Death with dishonour

Allowing private providers would boost health-care system

When oil crisis hits, fantasyland will become nightmare

Going far too far in the name of airport security

The madness of history
Are certain human behaviours timeless, or always part of a greater cultural context? The answer, in some cases, means the difference between pathology and theology

Japan redefines sickly smile
Service with a smile creates health crisis

A transformation under trying circumstances

Let itch go unscratched

The last thing we need are race-based schools
Plans for an 'Afrocentric' alternative for students with coloured skin run counter to Canada's history and aspirations

Zealots too quick to complain to human rights commissions


On attend la réponse de Stéphane Dion

Harper et Charest se sont rencontrés à Québec

Prolongement de la mission: la motion est déposée

Maoeuvres conservatrices: c'est assez, estime Dion


The "national community development trust fund" aimed at helping vulnerable one-industry communities and workers who have been laid off in traditional industries, such as forestry, fishing and manufacturing." was passed as Bill C-41 by the House of Commons in one day, February 5, 2007.
Why was the "fund" moved from being a budgetary item? Was it to have this as a positive together with the posturing against the Liberals of the Senate holding up crime Bills as negatives in order that an election could not occur with Afghanistan as the single focus?


        Why seek to have an election called now - be it on Crime Bill, Afghanistan or Budget when the best that can be hoped for is another minority?


        A re-elected minority government would be in office FOUR MORE YEARS.  No election held now? If not now there must be one in 2009 when all
         indications Canada will be in a recession with falling revenue and increased expenditure due to unemployment.

        It'll be interesting to see how the Game is played out, by compromise to obtain a widely accepted consensus as  suggested in the following
        or for partisan political advantage.

        Stay tuned.

Mr. Morin was advising Canada to wait until after the NATO summit in Romania in April, and that is good advice for Mr. Harper. If in April NATO
does not meet the Manley demands, the issue is moot --- Canada will leave Afghanistan. If it does, that is the moment to ask the House of Commons for a vote of confidence in the pursuit of the war.

Ultimately, however, Harper and Dion may prefer to play politics rather than seek consensus. Harper may reject amendments in the hopes of provoking a non-confidence vote and an election on the issue. Dion may refuse to water his wine.

But a bipartisan approach would serve Canada better, and our troops. Harper and Dion should try it, this once.

Whether it is ultimately triggered by the budget, the Conservative law-and-order agenda or the motion on the Afghan mission, a campaign this spring is guaranteed to feature a lively debate on the future of the Kandahar deployment. But unless it results in a majority for the Conservatives, an election will only confirm that a continued combat role for Canada in Afghanistan is not politically sustainable.

The motion calls for the continuation of the current mission to the end of 2011 "in a manner fully consistent with the UN mandate on Afghanistan, but with increasing emphasis on training the Afghan national security forces."

It reaffirms the core recommendations of the Manley report: that NATO find an additional 1,000 combat troops and that the government supply medium-lift helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles. The motion says Canada's combat role "should be commensurately reduced" if those conditions are met.

All of this amounts to a compromise by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to find middle ground with Dion, said Fen Hampson, director of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa.

"By setting a deadline for the mission in Kandahar until 2011 that is consistent with the UN mandate, saying that the resolution is amenable to negotiation within the general parameters of the Manley report ... the Conservatives have sent a strong signal that they are prepared to make some concessions," said Hampson.

The government's motion makes addressing those issues a condition of continuing.

But Harper wants it voted on next month. At this time the military has no plan for obtaining the helicopters and other equipment. So far no NATO country has said it will provide troops, although there are some hints. And the government has not demonstrated improved leadership or accountability. If anything, the pattern of secrecy continues.

There is no reason to rush into this decision. The vote will not increase certainty for NATO, given the unmet conditions that the motion imposes.

There is a strong case for continuing this mission, on the terms set out by the Manley report.

But beyond political opportunism, there is no case for forcing a vote on some arbitrary timeline.

The government has the chance to show, with actions not words, that it has accepted the Manley recommendations. It can line up the needed troops and equipment and show it is committed to better management and reporting.

And then it can ask Parliament and Canadians for support in keeping our troops in the danger



IN 1980, furious Albertans slapped bumper stickers on their cars stating "Let the eastern bastards freeze in the dark" to protest Ottawa's "Canada First" National Energy Program. Every federal government since has ceded national energy policy to the provinces and, by proxy, to the North American marketplace.
This appalling abdication of leadership leaves Canada completely exposed to the supply crisis experts predict is inevitable once the world enters the dark and uncertain time of Peak Oil.

Here are some of the reasons why:

Canada exports 67 per cent of its oil to the U.S. yet 40 per cent of Canadians are totally reliant on offshore, mostly Middle Eastern, oil. The three leading Middle Eastern countries upon whom 36 per cent of Ontarians and 90 per cent of Quebecers and Atlantic Canadians depend are Algeria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Before the North American Free Trade Agreement, 30 per cent of Canada's oil was exported to the U.S. NAFTA has more than doubled Canada's oil exports south.
The five proposed new pipelines from Alberta's tar sands to the U.S. will commit 75 to 80 per cent of Canada's oil to the American market. Yet it is the taxpayers of Alberta and Canada who will pay the staggering environmental costs and subsidize the extraction bills.

NAFTA's proportionality clause prohibits Canada's government from reducing energy exports even in times of crisis unless Canada cuts its consumption by the same amount.

No new east-west oil pipeline has been built in Canada since the Trudeau era. Until 1999, there was a steady flow of 250,000 barrels of western oil east to Montreal through the Montreal-Sarnia pipeline. Since 1999, that same pipeline brings 250,000 barrels of offshore oil west to Sarnia. Industry, not government, reversed the flow, no questions asked by government.

If a crisis hits, there is not enough east-west pipeline capacity to transport western oil to eastern Canadians.

Not only are there no new east-west pipelines on the drawing board, none is even being contemplated. No statistics are kept so no one knows where Newfoundland's daily 370,000 barrels of oil go.

Canada is the only oil-producing country -- and the only western industrialized country -- not to have a Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). The International Energy Agency (IEA) requires net import nations to maintain emergency 90-day oil reserves. Net export nations are not obliged to keep SPRs because the IEA sensibly assumes no country exports without ensuring domestic needs first. The IEA has no mechanism for a nation that doesn't control its own resources.

Peak Oil is coming fast. The U.S. Department of Energy predicts it no later than 2010. The drop-off will be steep and rapid, throwing the world into crisis upon any war, terror attack or natural disaster. "Government intervention will be required, otherwise economic and social implications would be too chaotic," says the USDE.

Oil Shockwave, a 2005 U.S. National Commission on Energy Policy report, warns that a fairly minor disruption to world oil supplies would create a 177 per cent price spike. If the U.S. bombs Iran and the Strait of Hormuz is closed, global supply could be cut by one-fifth, or 17 million barrels a day.

As oil supply tightens, nations are moving away from free markets. About 80 per cent of global oil reserves are controlled by state-owned oil companies. Most have a nationalist orientation; domestic needs come first.
Canada's energy policy -- or lack thereof -- is unique across the globe. Again, it has no SPR, although nearly half its citizens are totally dependent on foreign oil. It ranks its own domestic needs and security inferior to those of its neighbour. Central and Atlantic Canadians are left without energy security and dependent on Middle East oil so that the U.S. can have greater energy security and less dependence on Middle East oil.

These sobering realities -- and more -- are laid out in a new report by the University of Alberta's Parkland Institute and Ottawa's Polaris Institute. Entitled Freezing In The Dark: Why Canada Needs Strategic Petroleum Reserves, its author is University of Alberta political economist Gordon Laxer, Parkland's founding director.

Laxer finds the curtain of silence around Canada's lack of energy security "unbelievable. We are as dependent on Middle East oil as the Americans. Every other country is talking about its security of supply -- India, China, the U.S. They are locking up long-term contracts with oil-producing countries. But here, nothing. We are so focused on our exports that nobody in Ottawa seems to think about security of supply for Canadians."

Laxer is shocked at the disinterest he encountered at the National Energy Board and Natural Resources Canada. "There's resource nationalism rising around the world, but the NEB and NRC just say they can't see a problem: 'We have all this oil and we can go to spot markets.' They're off in fantasyland."

When the oil crisis hits, Canadians will find the fantasyland a nightmare. They shouldn't forget who to blame