Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Yet Even More Things to Talk About

The world is not a dull place ...

In case no one heard them the first time, the Liberals repeated the word "gender" (a grammatical term, by the way) in the disastrous budget three hundred and fifty-eight times.

Signalling virtue in a country where women have had the right to vote since 1918 and where 36% of the country's self-employed entrepreneurs are women is essentially wasting breath (high corporate, carbon and capital gains taxes are making it hard for any entrepreneur to make a go of his or her business in Canada but why let facts get in the way?) but it sounds good to people who aren't paying attention.

And it is not the only smoke:

$18.1 billion — projected deficit for 2018-19
30.1 per cent — projected debt to GDP ratio for 2018-19
$323.4 billion — projected revenue for 2018-19

(Sidebar: Justin promised only $26.1 billion in deficits. He promised deficits and people still voted for him.  The current debt stands at $650,960,155,276.25.)

Oh, it gets better and by better, I mean worse:

$172 million over five years and $42.5 million a year afterward for the Canada Media Fund to foster the growth of Canadian-produced content.
— $50 million over five years to support “local journalism in underserved communities,” and plans to explore new models that would allow private and philanthropic support for “non-profit” journalism, including allowing Canadian newspapers to receive charitable status.

(Sidebar: ahem.)

— $75 million over five years, with $11.8 million a year afterward, to bolster Canada’s trade ties with China and Asia.

(Sidebar: again, ahem.)

— $191 million over five years to support jobs in the softwood lumber industry, including litigation under the World Trade Organization and NAFTA’s dispute resolution mechanism.

(Sidebar: this.)

— $90.6 million over five years to track down tax evaders and avoiders, plus $41.9 million over five years and $9.3 million a year thereafter to help Canada’s courts deal with the additional caseload.

(Sidebar: yes, about that.)

— Changes to income sprinkling, passive investment income and the small business tax rate that are expected to save the government $925 million a year by 2022-23.

That's a lot of smoke.

In other news ...

Justin appointed Omar Khadr's lawyer to the federal court:

The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today announced the following appointments under the new judicial application process announced on October 20, 2016. The new process emphasizes transparency, merit, and diversity, and will continue to ensure the appointment of jurists who meet the highest standards of excellence and integrity. ...

John Norris, a sole practitioner based in Toronto, is appointed a judge of the Federal Court. He fills a new position created under An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Federal Courts Act (S.C. 2010, c. 8).
Why would a government knowingly appoint the lawyer for an unrepentant convicted terrorist?

For the same reason that it would deflect blame for inviting a Sikh extremist to a state dinner:

Justin Trudeau is standing by a senior government official who suggested factions within the Indian government were involved in sabotaging the prime minister's visit to India last week.

During his first question period since arriving back in Canada, opposition MPs grilled the prime minister Tuesday about invitations issued to Jaspal Atwal – a B.C. Sikh convicted of attempting to assassinate an Indian cabinet minister in 1986 – to attend two events with the prime minister in India.

In a background briefing arranged by the Prime Minister's Office, a government official last week suggested that Atwal's presence was arranged by factions within the Indian government who want to prevent Prime Minister Narendra Modi from getting too cosy with a foreign government they believe is not committed to a united India.

About that

It is too easy to assume that the RCMP and CSIS were simply incompetent (as Justin has made clear before). If the guest list was checked by Indian security, why would it not be checked Canadian security? For that, one would have to start at the top. As prime minister, the buck always stops with Justin. 


Bill C-371, The Prevention of Radicalization through Foreign Funding Act, introduced by Conservative MP Tony Clement, was premised on a simple proposition: Canadians would be better shielded from radicalization if their cultural, educational, and religious institutions were not subject to the pernicious influence of foreign states and individuals that advance extremist ideologies. 

Conversely, so long as the patrons of extremist ideologies have an unfettered ability to invest billions of dollars in institutions in Canada, the threat of extremism and radicalization will only grow.

The legislation would have prohibited Canadian schools, cultural centres, and places of worship from accepting funding from foreign states designated by Ottawa as promoting extremism and radicalization.

Saudi Arabia and Iran would have been two likely candidates for such a designation. They respectively work to radicalize Sunni and Shia communities across the globe by funding textbooks, mosques, and cultural centres that teach and promote their ideological worldviews, in which hatred, intolerance, and the legitimization of violence are common themes.

Bill C-371 would have been an important tool to help insulate Canadians from foreign actors seeking to propagate such ideologies, which are known catalysts for radicalization and terrorist violence. The legislation’s creative and targeted approach for pre-empting radicalization, rather than just coping with its aftermath, minimally deserved to be explored further in committee hearings, where experts could have testified and provisions carefully examined.  

In scuttling this initiative before the bill even reached committee stage, it appears that Ottawa has chosen to ignore the experience of its European allies, who have belatedly acknowledged the devastating impact of foreign-funded extremism on their societies. It is a decision that may yet return to haunt the prime minister and his team.

These patrons:

Trudeau, regardless of the fact he's been a longtime friend of the Aga Khan, is the leader of Canada—a country which has given the Aga Khan Foundation Canada $310 million since 2004. That alone is a reason to not take a vacation on the privately-owned island of a billionaire whose organization lobbies your workplace for cash.

Making this ... :

The Minister of Democratic Institutions, who is new in her role, had the opportunity to table a bill on electoral financing reform. She could have tabled anything she wanted. She could have tabled something that could materially impact Canadian democracy, allow under-represented groups to enter, or further level the playing field, but she completely failed.

The reason I will not support this bill is that it does not address what I think is the biggest concern in political financing in Canada, and that is the major loophole that allows wealthy individuals, corporations, unions, and foreign influences to influence the outcome of our elections. The minister has done nothing to stop that.

... also a going concern.

Where are the checks and balances to stop the peddling and purchasing of influence not just in private quarters but in the highest offices of the land?

(Merci beaucoup to all)

A judge in Quebec loses her appeal to stop an investigation into her decision not to hear a woman's testimony if she did not remove her hijab:

The Quebec Court judge who refused to hear the case of a woman unless she removed her hijab in the courtroom has lost her latest bid to try to quash a disciplinary investigation into her conduct.

That means more than three years after Judge Eliana Marengo told Rania El-Alloul to remove her hijab, an investigation by a special committee of the Quebec Council of the Magistrature can begin at last.

Marengo tried to block that investigation in court, arguing the council didn't have proper jurisdiction to investigate.

Unappointed judges have no right to stop any investigation into their judicial affairs.

That being said, this wasn't done because the judge erred legally. 

Today in Big Aboriginal:

Of the many funding initiatives outlined in the B.C. NDP budget speech, spending for Indigenous communities is the one that most excites Dustin Rivers, also known by his Skwomesh name, Khelsilem.

Khelsilem is a councillor with the Squamish First Nation and a lecturer in Indigenous Languages at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby.

He is also the man behind a language immersion program offered by SFU that teaches Sk̲wx̱wú7mesh sníchim (the 7 represents a glottal stop or a slight pause) — or in English, the Skwomesh language.

"This kind of funding is a real tangible example of reconciliation in my opinion," said Khelsilem during CBC's On the Coast.

I'm not seeing how forcing the taxpayer to fund one's obscure language studies equals "reconciliation" but, then again, I am a stranger to graft. 


What is a law school for? According to the University of Windsor, revolution. Earlier this month, Windsor’s law school released a statement on the jury verdict that acquitted Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley of the second-degree murder of Coulton Boushie. According to the statement, the Canadian legal system is oppressive. “Canada has used law to perpetuate violence against Indigenous Peoples,” it states, “a reinvention of our legal system is necessary.”

The statement reveals how legal education has lost its way. One could be forgiven for thinking that the purpose of law schools was to train lawyers to understand legal principles and to think logically and critically. Instead, some law schools portray themselves as political actors working for a cause.

That reminds one:

The law is not a "light" for you or any man to see by; the law is not an instrument of any kind. The law is a causeway upon which, so long as he keeps to it, a citizen may walk safely.

There is a reason why these "officers" aren't liked:

A London woman who survived breast cancer isn’t faring so well against city bylaw officers who fined her $2,260 for providing a service to patients that medical staff say is invaluable.

For more than three years, the woman has been a regular at an outpatient clinic at St. Joseph’s Hospital, providing rides to and from the clinic to patients who aren’t allowed to drive after being sedated for procedures such as endoscopies and colonoscopies.

She refused tips, at first charged only $10 round trip, an amount to cover the costs of gas and maintenance, her work so appreciated by medical staff that many consider her a critical volunteer. 

She offers to get patients safely situated at home, rather than drop them off at the curb.

But years of good deeds may have come to an end after bylaw officers arranged a sting operation Feb. 15: An enforcement officer called her for a ride, saying he was a patient getting a colonoscopy; she even providing words of reassurance on the ride to the hospital. But after he paid her, another enforcement officer ran over and issued her two tickets for owning and operating a vehicle for hire without a licence.

“I’m devastated,” she said. “I had cancer and I just wanted to give back to the community.”

How can this go wrong?

The military is currently wrestling with the implications of marijuana legalization, Canada's top general says — including time restrictions on using the drug before going on duty.

"We're going to try to be smart about it," chief of defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance said on Monday. "But in the end, this is dangerous duty, this is serious duty for the country, and we don't want people doing it stoned."

NATO warns Canada of the Red Electoral Menace:

A leading NATO researcher says Canada should assume Russia will attempt to interfere in the 2019 federal election because that would serve the Kremlin's purpose of helping destabilize the military alliance.


Also - I was surprised to see the words "Russia" and "humanitarian" appear in the same sentence:

A brief, Russia-ordered “humanitarian pause” went into effect on Tuesday as Syrian and Russian forces set up a corridor to allow civilians to leave a rebel-held enclave near Damascus, but by the end of the five-hour pause, no civilians had crossed over from the embattled territory.

The lull gave a brief respite to the estimated 400,000 residents of besieged eastern Ghouta, which has been under intense attack by the Syrian government for weeks.

The United Nations and aid workers criticized the unilateral arrangement, saying the situation was not such that convoys can go in or people in need of medical evacuations can come out of the enclave.

Kim Jong-Nam feared that his half-brother would kill him:

Kim Jong Nam, the poisoned half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, told a friend in Malaysia his life was in danger six months before he was killed, a police official told a court on Tuesday.

Two women, Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, have been charged with murdering Kim by smearing his face with VX, a banned chemical poison, at Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb. 13 last year.

Four North Korean fugitives have also been charged with murder.

The Kim dynasty used Brazilian passports to apply for Western visas:

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his late father Kim Jong Il used fraudulently obtained Brazilian passports to apply for visas to visit Western countries in the 1990s, five senior Western European security sources told Reuters. 

While North Korea’s ruling family is known to have used travel documents obtained under false pretences, there are few specific examples. The photocopies of the Brazilian passports seen by Reuters have not been published before. 

“They used these Brazilian passports, which clearly show the photographs of Kim Jong Un and Kim Jong Il, to attempt to obtain visas from foreign embassies,” one senior Western security source said on condition of anonymity. 

“This shows the desire for travel and points to the ruling family’s attempts to build a possible escape route,” the security source said.

An escape route to this place:

In a rare public expression of dissent in China, a well-known political commentator and a prominent businesswoman have penned open letters urging lawmakers to reject a plan that would allow President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely.

Their impassioned statements on a popular messaging app were circulated widely after the ruling Communist Party announced a proposal Sunday to scrap term limits on the president and vice president.

In a Monday statement on WeChat to Beijing’s members of China’s rubber-stamp parliament, Li Datong, a former editor for the state-run China Youth Daily, wrote that lifting term limits would “sow the seeds of chaos.”

The problem with state-controlled media is that the party knows who said what and where to find one.


The government is considering a fresh deployment to Okinawa’s main island of a surface-to-ship missile unit as part of a bid to beef up defenses in response to Chinese maritime assertiveness, sources said Tuesday.

Tokyo has been proceeding with a plan to install a surface-to-ship missile unit on Okinawa Prefecture’s Miyako Island to bolster its defenses against threats to remote islands in the southwest.

But it believes the main island should also have a unit as Chinese naval ships have frequently passed between the two islands — an area known as the Miyako Strait — in the East China Sea.


China flew a military aircraft into South Korea's air defense identification zone (KADIZ) for over four hours Tuesday without giving prior notification, defense authorities here said.

The plane came close to South Korean territory, prompting the Air Force to scramble fighter jets to monitor its activity, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). More than 10 planes, including F-15ks and KF-16s, were dispatched.

The Chinese jet entered the KADIZ at around 9:34 a.m. and approached some 30 nautical miles, or 55.5 kilometers, northwest of Ulleung Island in the East Sea before flying out of the zone at around 2:01 p.m. at the military's warning message, the JCS added.

It described the flight route as "unusual," given China's previous dispatch of warplanes just into the KADIZ south of the peninsula. 

It's not like Moon is going to do anything about this.

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