Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Mid-Week Post

Your Zen for the middle of the work-week....

But not yet:

It seems that during a heated argument in the House of Commons, Trudeau and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair were about to come to blows, jostling (accidentally or otherwise) other members of Parliament.

A more candid video is here.

Some middling apologies were made but who cares? Everyone knows who throws the tantrums in the House of Commons, don't we, Justin?

It's bound to get better:

The opposition parties are pushing back after Liberal House Leader Dominc LeBlanc gave notice the government could seize control of the House of Commons.

LeBlanc has given notice of a motion that would let the Liberals force overnight debates and adjourn the House for the summer without any notice and with no debate. The motion would also restrict the opposition parties' ability to slow down proceedings.

The NDP and Conservatives are protesting the Liberal motion, arguing the Speaker should find it out of order. But MPs said they wanted to debate C-14, the assisted dying bill, so they put off much of the discussion for another day. ...

Tensions rose so high by Wednesday night that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was involved in an altercation on the floor of the House. When New Democrat MPs loitered in the path of the Conservative Party whip ahead of the time allocation vote, Trudeau strode to the back to escort the Official Opposition whip to his seat so the vote could proceed. In the process, he elbowed New Democrat MP Ruth-Ellen Brosseau, who appeared to crash into one of the wooden desks. Trudeau returned to apologize, where NDP Leader Tom Mulcair confronted him and the two leaders squared off. Other MPs separated them.  Brosseau left the House before the vote happened, and MPs spent the next hour debating how to handle the incident. Trudeau later stood twice to apologize.

Conservative House Leader Andrew Scheer called the proposed Liberal motion unprecedented and said it came out of left field.

"The motion that they put on notice is something that I’ve never seen or even heard of. It’s one thing for the government to use the tools available to it to implement its agenda. It’s another thing to take away tools from the opposition, and that’s what we’re seeing. This is a very undemocratic proposal by the government," Scheer said.

LeBlanc and Trudeau say they're trying to extend House sitting hours to give more time for debate, ignoring questions about the other measures that would allow them the ability to shut down the House for the summer with no notice.

"This attempt to put a straitjacket on Parliament deprives Canadians of their most important democratic institution," Mulcair said. "It's childish petulance by the Liberals who almost lost a vote this week, who are now trying to put their straitjacket on Parliament and submit it to their majority will."

On Monday, the NDP and Conservatives surprised the Liberals by triggering a vote on a bill regarding Air Canada maintenance. The government and opposition tied 139-139, which forced the Speaker to cast a vote. Following parliamentary convention, Speaker Geoff Regan voted with the government to keep the legislation moving.

The opposition parties say talks among the House leaders, which are a normal part of the behind-the-scenes discussions in Parliament, broke down this week. LeBlanc wouldn't tell the Conservatives and NDP which bills would be debated over the next few weeks.

"We had a very short house leaders’ meeting where the opposition were not even provided with a calendar. That's something that didn't happen in the last Parliament. Even when things broke down between the opposition and government, the Conservative government always gave the opposition a calendar for what was going to be debated," Scheer said.
Let's get ready to rumbllllllllllllle!

Residents may return to Fort McMurray in early June if the wildfire is under control:

The Alberta government says people from the fire-ravaged city of Fort McMurray could return home starting on June 1 if conditions are deemed to be safe.

"Remember, many hazards remain in Fort McMurray," Premier Rachel Notley said Wednesday.

"We need to address all of them before it is safe for residents to begin to return and we are doing this."

Notley said the re-entry will be done in stages and will be voluntary.

The conditions include no threat of wildfire or from smoke.

The Liberal government may have to prove that its arms deal with the Saudis was legal:

The Globe and Mail’s video evidence of Saudi Arabia using armoured vehicles to violently quell dissidents will advance the court challenge of the Trudeau government’s arms deal with the Middle Eastern country, said the law professor who is leading the lawsuit.

Last week, the newspaper released video showing Saudi Arabia using armoured vehicles to quell minority Shia Muslims in its Eastern Province. The video added to mounting evidence that Ottawa’s $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia could supply weapons that may be used against the country’s civilian population.

The lawsuit argues the Liberal government is obliged to uphold Canadian export rules and the Geneva Conventions Act that bar Canada from exporting military equipment to countries whose governments persistently violate the human rights of their citizens — unless Canada can demonstrate there is no risk the equipment may be used against the population.

“You just need to prove before a court that there’s a risk, that some equipment may be used to breach human rights,” said Daniel Turp, the professor of international and constitutional law at Université de Montréal who is leading the court challenge with a group of law students and a Montreal law firm.

“Things have evolved in a positive way for us and our lawsuit,” he said of the new video. “That’s really good and convincing evidence, in my opinion, for a court of law.”
I don't think that it will come to that.  It's not like one is dealing with a transparent and honest government here.

Remember - looking at one's cell phone while driving is so dangerous that they needed a law:

About half of pot-smoking Canadians who get behind the wheel while high believe the drug doesn’t impair their ability to drive safely — and 20 per cent say nothing would make them stop driving while stoned.

Will PM Cheech and Chong Trulander lead the push for a driving-while-high law any time soon?

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant resists a court ruling allowing citizens to transport alcohol from other provinces:

In a judgment that is long past due, a Canadian court has finally ruled that interprovincial trade barriers in Canada are illegal. In the New Brunswick case of Regina vs. Comeau, the provincial court acquitted Gérard Comeau of violating the provincial Liquor Control Act by bringing in more than 12 pints of beer from neighbouring Quebec, where prices are lower. Predictably, the New Brunswick government has vowed to keep the discredited rules in place anyway. But its shabby attempt to ignore the rule of law will fail, as it definitely should.

The court sided with Comeau based on Section 121 of the Constitution: “All Articles of the Growth, Produce, or Manufacture of any one of the Provinces shall, from and after the Union, be admitted free into each of the other Provinces.” The decision defies a 1921 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that forbade formal customs duties, while allowing endless protectionist jiggery-pokery thinly disguised as the exercise of legitimate provincial powers, like making beer in New Brunswick much more expensive than Quebec, without making it any more valuable.

The Comeau ruling also reflects the intent of Canada’s founders, summed up in George Brown’s ringing 1865 declaration, “to throw down all barriers between the provinces — to make a citizen of one, citizen of the whole … our farmers and manufacturers and mechanic, shall carry their wares unquestioned into every village of the Maritime Provinces … the law courts, and the schools, and the professional and industrial walks of life, throughout all the provinces, shall be thrown equally open to us all.” ...

While professing to favour interprovincial trade, New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant says he will ignore the court ruling. His rationale is that only superior courts can invalidate a law, rather than simply acquit a defendant. But if the province really believes its law is valid, it should appeal to a superior court to confirm that view. The alternative is a shabby effort to continue using its position of strength to mistreat its citizens.

In the wake of the Comeau ruling, any New Brunswicker who fights similar charges will probably win. But only after an expensive, protracted, stressful court battle against battalions of tax-funded lawyers devoted to enabling the government to continue extracting its cash. The government is hoping there are relatively few Gérard Comeaus out there, and most people will shrug and continue paying New Brunswick’s higher beer prices, or sneaking off to Quebec for an illicit trunkload, in the hopes they won’t be caught.

It’s a low and cynical approach to governing, which treats the population with disrespect. Somebody, somewhere, will use the Comeau ruling to challenge some similar piece of protectionism, win an appeal and deal a blow to such phony barriers. Premier Gallant should act now, when he has a choice, rather than later when he doesn’t.

It is always about the money.

Corruption in Ontario? Oh, heavens to Betsy!

Ontario’s multi-million-dollar payouts to teachers’ unions are a rarity unmatched in other provinces or for other public service unions, the auditor general has found in a report that also uncovered an additional $80.5 million in payments over the past decade-and-a-half.

A well-written article on how Catholic churches in Canada have done more than their fair share of apologising and making huge financial reparations for what is a major industry: victimisation and financial reaping.

Speaking of apologies:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking from the floor of an institution that once enacted racist policies against large-scale immigration from Asia until the 1960s, apologized Wednesday for the 1914 Komagata Maru incident.

Is the apology for the murder of three hundred and twenty-nine men, women and children and two baggage handlers forthcoming?

Gee, hashtags do eventually work... or something:

A Nigerian teenager kidnapped by Boko Haram more than two years ago has been rescued, the first of more than 200 girls seized in a raid on their school in Chibok town to return from captivity in the insurgents' forest lair, officials said on Wednesday.

Soldiers working together with a civilian vigilante group rescued the girl and her four-month-old baby near Damboa in the remote northeast, army spokesman Sani Usman said. They also detained a "suspected Boko Haram terrorist" called Mohammed Hayatu who claimed to be the girl's husband, he added.

"Preliminary investigation shows that she is indeed one of the Chibok schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram terrorists on 14th April 2014 in Chibok," Usman said in a statement.

Rights activists named the girl as Amina Ali Darsha Nkeki. They quoted her as saying her schoolmates remained in the Sambisa forest in the northeast, Boko Haram's biggest stronghold.

Yes, ISIS has been crucifying people for ages. Thank you for noticing:

A leading international rights group on Wednesday released a report documenting atrocities by Libya’s Islamic State affiliate — including instances of “crucifixions” and shooting a man to death for “cursing God” — in the coastal city of Sirte, a stronghold of the militants.

Thank you:

During the election campaign, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came out in support of conscientious objectors to the Iraq War. He accused the-then Conservative government of “lacking compassion and lacking understanding” by deeming American war deserters (as the Tories preferred to call them) ineligible for permanent residency. The Liberals have now said they will be reviewing this policy.
In fact, there are reasons for a government to support a hard line on war resisters that have nothing to do with a want of compassion or understanding.

For one, military desertion is an offence in Canada. Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, a person is ineligible for permanent residency if he has committed an offence in Canada, or an offence elsewhere that would constitute an offence here. This is a blanket rule. While there might be cases where exceptions to this rule are appropriate, it surely cannot be appropriate to create an exemption for American soldiers while Canada continues to prohibit its own soldiers from breaking this law.

It’s also important to understand that the roughly 200 Iraq War resisters who ought refuge in Canada had all voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. military. Unlike many of the conscientious objectors to the Vietnam War (who had been conscripted to fight in a conflict in which they did not believe), the conscientious objectors in this case chose to serve in the military and had committed to obeying orders.

The importance of this commitment cannot be overstated. A military cannot effectively project or exert force if soldiers could opt out of duties whenever they disagreed with a command. Discipline and obedience are essential in the military, particularly because the decision-makers generally possess more information than those lower in the chain of command.
Wasn't I saying this?


Police wearing body cameras experienced an increased number of assaults by civilians, a new U.S. and U.K. research study found.

“Assaults against police officers were higher when police cameras were worn, versus when they weren’t,” said the study’s co-author and RAND Europe researcher Alex Sutherland. The rates of assault against officers wearing cameras on their shift were an average of 15 per cent higher.

The study also found that the rate of use-of-force by police on citizens was unchanged by body cameras, but this finding depended on whether the camera was on consistently, or was turned on and off during an interaction.

If police had cameras on for their entire shift, use-of-force against civilians decreased. But if officers switched the cameras on and off at their own discretion, use-of-force increased.

Gee, if only there was some sort of law against this:

But the theory that Dixon decided to kill his girlfriend because she wouldn’t have an abortion was echoed on a GoFundMe page set up by one of her close friends.

“Candace was an amazing mother, friend and person,” Vanessa Peterson wrote. “She was always smiling and made the best out of life. She had recently found out she was pregnant and was murdered because she refused an abortion.

“So many loved ones have lost such an amazing person and more importantly an innocent child has not only witnessed his mother’s murder the day after his third birthday.”

A medical examiner confirmed that Pickens was pregnant at the time of her death, police said. The examiner told WLOS that he didn’t know how far along she was in her pregnancy.

Given the medical examiner’s finding, police also charged Dixon with first-degree murder of an unborn child.

(Sidebar: it must be one of those outlier states.)

A friend of late atheist warhorse, Christopher Hitchens, wonders if he was leaning toward conversion:

As Taunton drove, Hitchens read aloud from the Gospel of John and mulled over the precise reason Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus. “Where is grace in the Old Testament?” Hitchens asked at one point, in Taunton’s telling. “I see it in the New Testament, but God is different in the Old Testament,” Hitchens observed, leading to a discussion of God’s covenant with Abraham.

I will not make the case for any event. Christopher Hitchens held very repellent views on the soon-to-be canonised Mother Teresa. However, his virtue (such as virtues go) was his consistency unlike the Johnny-come-lately militant neo-atheists whose raison d'etre is to dump on everything in order to prove how superior they think they are.

What did Hitchens really think?

Discuss among yourselves.

(Sidebar: the comments after the article are quite telling.)


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