Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sorry, I didn't realize that we lived in CHINA!

The Conservative government announced Wednesday that it plans to prorogue Parliament until March 3, said the Prime Minister's Office.

Parliament has been scheduled to resume its current session on January 25, following the holiday break, but a spokesman for Stephen Harper said that the government will instead appeal to the Governor General to end this session of Parilament and then will wait until March 3 to deliver a new Speech from the Throne.

"This is quite routine but it is also important to give Canadians an overview of where we will be taking the country over the next little while," said Harper's spokesman, Dmitri Soudas.

Routine is a bit of an understatement. This is the second time that Stephen Harper has appealed to the Governor General to allow him to prorogue Parliament.

In choosing to prorogue, all bills and committees that are currently before the House of Commons are wiped off the table- in this case, one of the Tories' crimes bills will be finished, as will the Parliamentary committee looking into the allegations of Afghan detainee abuse.

Prorogation would also prevent Question Period criticisms from Opposition MPs during the Olympics.

Liberal House leader Ralph Goodale called the move "almost despotic," and described the government's justifications for prorogation as "a joke."

What we have now is a bit of a dilemma. While the GG could technically refuse Harper's request to prorogue Parliament, to do so could be widely criticized as an intervention in the free affairs of government. On the other hand, if she allows Harper to prorogue then she is effectively condemning the entire framework of responsible government, which is that the government in power be held accountable for its actions.

Muzzling opposition criticisms just because the world eye is on Canada during the Olympics is no different than Beijing's swift and brutal repressing of citizen dissent leading up to the 2008 Olympics. While Harper would be able to shut down legitimate opposition during the Olympics, he could also risk drawing the ire of foreign nations who were quick to criticize China for its opposition muzzling in 2008.

How does it reflect on Canada that we are willing to continually re-elect a prime minister who repeatedly refuses to accept accountability for the crimes and short-fallings of his government?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Shooting Our Reputation to Hell

The Conservatives have rejected calls for a public inquiry into the allegations of Afghan detainee torture presented by a former senior diplomat.

Richard Colvin, a former senior diplomat with Canada's Afghan mission, told a House of Commons committee on the Afghan mission that Canada was aware of torture being used against detainees who were transferred to Canadian custody to Afghan prisons.

Colvin said that between 2006 and 2007 Canada was warned by the Afghan intelligence service that detainees would be tortured, yet handed them to Afghan prisons anyway. Torture techniques included sleep deprivation, electrical shocks, and rape, he said. He also told committee members that most of the detainees were not Taliban, but rather individuals who had been in the wrong place at the wrong time- only a couple are thought to be foot soldiers.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay has responded by saying that there will be no public inquiry into the allegations, which the government feels lack credibility. He said that Canadians are being asked to accept the word of prisoners "who throw acid in the face of schoolgirls."

Except that they're not. We're being asked to think about testimony that has been given by a senior diplomat, a man who has everything to lose and nothing to gain by coming forward. While I fully agree that we should not instantly jump to assumptions about what happened or why, we do need to be prepared to seriously investigate the allegations of torture. Unless the Canadian government investigates this issue and is able to honestly clear its name, our reputation will be as sullied as that of the United States under the Bush administration.

How can we even think to criticize countries like China for their human rights abuses when we harbour a dark stain, whether or not it is true, that removes any and all credibility behind our moral authority?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

So true.

Apparently, I'm not the only one whose mind is boggled by the new CNN

Oops, sorry..'CBCNN'

Monday, October 26, 2009

Wow, CBC

The CBC premiered its new look Monday, with brand new shows and apparently, a whole new focus on what constitutes quality reporting.

During the new Politics & Power segment, Evan Solomon interviewed three people involved in the environmental protests that took place today during Question Period on Parliament Hill. One of the participants was brought in to the CBC newsroom and put on camera, with blood dried on his face after what protesters described as a 'violent' removal from the House of Commons.

How long would it have taken for someone behind the scenes to wipe the blood of his face? Apparently, CBC didn't care to take the time to clean up their source before his big interview because they were more focused on shocking audiences than getting to the root of the issue. The entire interview reeked of the rabid sensationalist tactics popularized by American newsrooms. After all, "if it bleeds, it leads."

Am I the only one who thinks that quality reporting should not rely on vapid shock tactics to grab audiences? And taking into consideration the budget cuts that CBC was handed early this year, where did they get the money for such a dramatic overhaul? Maybe they budgeted too much for new green screens and tailoring for their anchors and forgot all about paying actual reporters to go out and investigate news.

While I realize that CBC is facing intense competition from CNN and other breaking news networks, they should not be resorting to the old adage, "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." What message does this hold for the future of Canadian reporting? Newspapers have collapsed due to the recession, radio has failed to attract a broad audience in the news sector, and now broadcast is sinking into the depths of sensationalism. If this is an indication of what news values the CBC intends to respect during the coming years, I'm petrified for journalists and attempting-to-be-informed citizens across the country.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Isn't Quebec the French Province?

The Supreme Court of Canada handed down a unanimous ruling on Thursday that will force Quebec to change a law that restricts the number of students who are allowed to attend the province's public English schools.

A class-action lawsuit brought forth by 25 families challenged a Quebec law which they say is unconstitutional because it forces many English-speaking students into the French language school system. Students must meet extensive criteria laid out by the provincial government in order to qualify to attend one of Quebec's publicly-funded English language schools.

Students who do not meet the criteria must either pay tuition at a private English-language school or else attend the publicly-funded French schools. The Supreme Court ruling has overturned this provincial law, and has given Quebec one year to come up with a new policy.

Maybe this is just the Anglophone in me, but isn't Quebec our french province? Its most basic reason for being is to preserve and foster the French culture. It was not created in hopes of being a place where English-speaking people can go about their lives as they would in Ontario or British Columbia. I am left with the question, why would someone who does not speak French and has no desire to be immersed in French move to Quebec? There are nine other provinces that offer publicly-funded English education; why are people targeting the one province with an actual justification for not funding English education? The number of people in Quebec who are fully bilingual is far more than any other province, except maybe New Brunswick, and clearly demonstrate that the French language system in place is not as negative as it is being made out to be.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

No More Excuses

Halifax archbishop Anthony Mancini addressed his parishioners on Sunday about the disturbing story of Bishop Raymond Lahey, which broke earlier this week.

Sunday marked the first time that parishioners across the Maritimes met since Lahey, former bishop of the Antigonish diocese, turned himself in to Ottawa police. He is charged with possession and importation of child pornography, and is currently out on $9 000 bail.

"You think, and many people think, that all we've got to do is throw more money at it, throw more structure at it, throw more psychiatrists at it, and at the end of it all we're going to come up with this wonderful, perfect structure. And you know what? That's never going to happen," Mancini said to parishioners on Sunday.

"So is it gonna happen again? Yeah, of course it's gonna happen again. What all we can do is try to prevent and try to make sure that we put up all the safeguards that we can possibly put up."

What kind of person is okay to just accept priest perversion as a reasonable situation? Mancini argues that there is next to nothing that people can do to prevent pedophiles from entering the priesthood, but he is missing the most obvious solution to the problem; let priests have sex.

The more forbidden something is, the stronger the pull towards what the mind sees as 'forbidden fruit.' By enforcing celibacy, the Roman Catholic Church only forces eroticism and sexual desires of its clergy under the surface, where they stew and ferment. In my opinion, it's these pent-up sexualities that manifest themselves in extreme and perverted behaviour.

Whenever news breaks about priests molesting children or watching child pornography, it is rarely (if ever) priests outside of the Roman Catholic Church. Why? Because reverends and ministers and preachers are allowed to marry and have loving, healthy sexual relations. In marriage there is an outlet for sexual desires, and they do not become evil and twisted as so often seems to happen within the minds of Roman Catholic clergy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

For once, an admirable action from Harper

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Wednesday that Canadian officials will be boycotting Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's address to the UN General Assembly because of his remarks concerning the Holocaust.

Speaking from Oakville, ON, Harper said that "there are times when things are being said in this world that it is important that countries that have a moral compass speak up, make their views known... Our absence there will speak volumes about how Canada feels about the declarations of President Ahmadinejad."

Ahmadinejad has repeatedly denied the Holocaust, and said that was a pretext for occupying Palestinian lands. He was quoted by Irna, the official Iranian news agency, as saying that "God willing, in the near future we will witness the destruction of the corrupt occupier [Israel] regime."

His comments were given to students at a conference in Iran called 'The World without Zionism,' which drew about 3 000 people.

This is the first and probably only time I will ever say this, but Harper has done exactly what needs to be done in this situation. His refusal to attend the address will speak volumes about Canada, and also displays a level of dignity that I really did not think this Conservative leader was capable of. If he is willing to risk angering Middle Eastern leaders by openly opposing their views on Israel, then he's got some guts. Hopefully, Canada's absence will show that not only can we legitimately claim credit to our reputation as a peacemaker, we are also willing to take a stand on important moral issues.