Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Great Parliamentary Afghanistan Debate

Harper wasn't there. Neither was Duceppe.
Not only was there no vote, there was no debate either.
Attendence : Out of a possible 308 MPs:
  • 58 Conservative MPs, dropping to 14 after O'Connor finished
  • 21 Liberals but dropped to 102
  • 2Bloc Quebecois
  • 8 NDP, rising to 20
Fucking shameful.
Especially as Canadians are divided about 50/50 over whether we should be there at all.

Here is one reason we are just a bit concerned:"
"Canadian soldiers could be charged with war crimes in the International Criminal Court because of an agreement the government approved on the handling of detainees captured in Afghanistan," warns UBC international law professor Michael Byers.
University of Ottawa Prof. Amir Attaran, a constitutional human rights law specialist, agrees.

Under international law Canada has an obligation to ensure any detainee is protected against torture, not only when they are transferred into Afghan custody but if they are sent onwards to a third nation, such as the U.S.

Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor said last week he is satisfied with the pact, as is Opposition leader Bill Graham, who was the Liberal's defence minister when the agreement was signed in Kabul in December.
Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier signed the agreement even though the Afghan government's own human rights commission warned in 2004 that the torture of prisoners is "routine."
So far, more than 100 detainees from Iraq and Afghanistan have died in U.S. custody.
Canadian military officers, however, have continually said they are confident any detainees turned over to the U.S. would be treated humanely."

Here's another reason, from the Government of Canada National Defense website :
"On November 29, 2005, Camp Julien, which was the Canadian base of operations in Kabul, officially closed. Canadian Forces personnel in Afghanistan, were relocated to Kandahar in the southern region of Afghanistan as part of the United States-led campaign against terrorism known as Operation ENDURING FREEDOM ( OEF )."

And Defense Minister Gordon O'Connor had the unmitigated gall to open the proceedings with Bush's "Fly-paper" analogy :
"Fighting terrorists in Afghanistan is better than waiting until they show up in Vancouver, Montreal or Ottawa, Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor told the Commons on Monday."Canada is in Afghanistan because it is in our national interest,'' he said. "Our security begins very far from our borders.'' "

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Big Box Government

I didn't see the president of Home Depot climbing around the ruins at Cancun but evidently she was there :

Bush, Harper, and Fox "also announced the establishment of a North American Competitiveness Council. The council will comprise representatives of business and the three governments and will have a say in targeting projects and ideas aimed at creating a more creative market environment.
One business leader who joined in a meeting with the three leaders over the new council said she feels considerable urgency among governments to get at the smart-card issue.
"I don't know the technicalities of it, but I do know that the intent of governments are to get together and come up with something that is technologically easy," said Annette Verschuren, president of Home Depot Canada. "We just don't want to slow down the movement of products and people."

Say, didn't Tom Ridge retire as US Homeland Security Secretary to join the board of Home Depot?
Why yes he did :
"We are honored to have Ridge join our board, where we expect that his unique global experience and perspective will make a profound contribution to our company and our shareholders," said Home Depot Chief Executive Bob Nardelli.

Ridge is quite familiar with home-improvement projects. He was instrumental in a short-lived run on duct tape in early 2003, when he encouraged Americans to turn to the sticky substance and plastic sheeting as protection against terrorists using chemical and/or biological agents.
The move, which drew criticism from many corners, motivated many across the country to stock up -- to the extent that some retailers reported widespread shortages.
Home Depot, in fact, went so far as to set up special Homeland Security displays near its entrances to tout sales of duct tape, plastic sheeting, batteries and bottled water, among other safe-room supplies.

At the time, Ridge had just upped the color-coded security threat advisory to orange, the second highest level."
Government and business, working together.

OK back to the future at the Glib and Mall :
"Our three countries are facing unprecedented competition from large developing economies such as China and India," said Thomas d'Aquino, president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. "A positive and constructive tone at the top is essential if our three countries are to move forward in defining a new and stronger North America."

He elaborates further on this new North American Competiveness Council at the Council of Chief Executives website where he adds :

"We would restate our view that it is in Canada’s interest to participate in the ballistic missile defence program."
Government and business working together.