Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Leni Riefenstahl moment in Vancouver

Triumph of the Shill

The sports: fabulous

The spectacle: Berlin, 1936

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Don Cherry on The Battle of the Robs

So it's me, Ron MacLean with Don Cherry on House of Commons Night in Canada. Don, it's looking like we're shaping up for a real battle in the House of Commons over parliamentary privilege. What's your take on that?

You know, I'm a big fan of Roberto Luongo, but I thought that first Slovak goal was pretty cheesy. I mean, I'm a big fan of the Slovaks too, they really took it to Canada in the whole game and never gave up. But leaving the post before you know where the puck is? I'm starting to think we should put in Fleury.

Don, we're talking about The Battle of the Robs in the House of Commons.

Yeah, well that includes Roberto Luongo doesn't it?

No, it involves Rob Nicholson, the Attorney-General of Canada, and Rob Walsh, Law Clerk for the House of Commons Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan.

We'd be better off with Luongo...

...but the fact is that the House of Commons...

Yeah, well it's like the mind games about goaltenders - maybe we'll use this guy, maybe we'll use that guy - the Liberals are dragging their motion out in public to let everybody get a look at it and see what happens. You know, it's like that in Olympic hockey: you've got your marquee players who may or may not be invisible, and the heavy lifting is done by the "foot soldiers", but hey, just making this team makes you a marquee player, I don't care what anybody says.

So what's your point, exactly?

Derek Lee.

Derek Lee?

Yeah, Derek Lee. I'm a huge fan of this guy, Member of Parliament for Scarborough-Rouge Valley since 1999, wrote the book on parliamentary privilege with respect to the production of documents, and is surprising people in the big crunch.

How so?

He's got a draft resolution that he's previewing in public, which might not seem like a big deal but is in fact the beginning of a constitutional crisis. Personally, and this is just my opinion, I think we need a constitutional crisis.

This is pretty radical talk, even for you. How do you think this will go down in Quebec?

I don't want to get into constitutional matters with Quebec, I think there are other people to discuss that, not me.

So, OK, we're back to Derek Lee. How is he a game-changer?

Well first thing is, Harper blew it with the prorogation thing, thinking he'd get a bye into the finals. Rob Nicholson is running around squawking about "Truth in Sentencing" but nobody's listening, and guys are still getting shot up in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Liberals are taking this very seriously, and Derek Lee, who's had 10 years to think about this, is coming to the slow boil. He's got momentum behind him, he knows what he's doing, and the opposition are a bunch of flakes in the Department of Justice who, if they had any guts, would have resigned by now.

Pretty strong words.

Parliamentary democracy isn't a game for wimps.

So until next time, it's House of Commons Night in Canada.

Mercer sent me a tie with a picture of Al MacInnis on it.

You should get a seal skin suit to go with it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010



To: All Staff

From: ISAF Public Relations

Re: Now that’s what I call public relations.

John Furlong on Poor Ice Conditions at Richmond Olympic Oval

The problem at the Olympic Oval is not the ice but the machines that clean the ice: "The machines were a problem."

You see, people? There is no problem in Helmand: the inhabitants are the problem. Helmand itself is a richly fertile agricultural land, but has been abused by persons who hate our freedoms and democratic values. By itself, Helmand is beautiful and innocent.

Why can’t we get this message out?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Myth of London Fog

by Margaret Wente

Special to The Globe and Mail

London, 1951

So we've been hearing for years now, ad nauseum, that coal is responsible for the fogs that have caused such trouble in southern England. As the head of British Coal remarked, "You might as well blame horses for the Battle of Waterloo."

Fog has always been part of British weather. It always has, and always will be. At least one battle in World War 2 was postponed because of weather, the Dieppe Raid, and that turned out well in the end. Caesar had the same problem.

People should get a grip.

Serial Proroguer Omnibus [.pdf]

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Case of the Serial Proroguer - Part the Last

Return to Rideau Hall...

I arrived in Ottawa and went directly by cab to the front entrance of Rideau Hall. Secrecy was useless.

I was shown in to a reception room where I'd been told Stephen Harper had been kept waiting for hours. I lit a cigar and enjoyed the moment.

At length, Her Excellency sat opposite me and asked: "Well?"

"I must tell Your Excellency that your appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council has been dismissed."

There was a pregnant pause. "Shit," she said.

"Nevertheless, I am commanded to express to you Her Majesty's views on the present constitutional problem in Canada."

"Which are...?"

I told her.

"Furthermore, Her Majesty, through the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, has commanded me to present to you her private views."

"Which are...?"

I told her.

"I didn't know she could use language like that."

I'd been waiting avidly for this moment.

"It's the Queen's English," I said.

She gave me a black look and said, "Thanks, I guess."

I let myself out the tradesmens' entrance and repaired immediately to the Chateau Laurier in a dishevelled state. It occurred to me that being a constitutional lawyer was a pretty good gig.

I was comfortably into my third Screech on the rocks when I was approached by a pair of cowboy boots, above which was a cowboy suit to match.

"Hi," said the owner of the suit. "My name's Ed, and I'm looking to take Alberta out of Confederation."


Monday, February 1, 2010

The Case of the Serial Proroguer - Part 5

Before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Parliament Square...

A week had passed. I had obtained an expedited Hearing before the Judicial Committee, to be held in camera and ex parte. I had no idea what that meant.

I represented Her Excellency, the Appellant, and The Prime Minister was represented by Lord Goldsmith, an Attorney-General.

It had been a week of feverish preparation, exchange of documents, and close arguments presented to one of the most distinguished judicial bodies in history. The Rhino and Weasel had put its full resources at my disposal. Fortunately, in this day and age, almost all case law and statutes were available on the web. Everything else I needed was at the bar, including the bartender, who as it turned out, was a barrister.

The pith of my argument was that the Canadian executive was challenging the essence of Canada’s constitution, trying to create a rubber stamp Parliament, a tame judiciary, and a police state. My colleague at the bar immediately took the pith out of it.

“I wouldn’t try that if I was you, squire” he advised me in rich upper class tones. “Their Lordships will bring up Alberta v. Canada [1922] 1 A.C. 191, and that peace, order, and good government don’t extend to the exile of Prime Ministers.”

I tried another tack. “What about the War Measures Act?”

He cringed. “No, no, no, squire. First of all, Quebec would revolt. Second, it’s now the ‘Emergencies Act’, and even if you could convince Their Lordships that a ‘public order emergency’ existed in Canada, you’d have to try to get an Order from the Governor in Council without actually having the Prime Minister in Council.”

“What about Martial Law? We did that in 1840 and there didn’t seem to be any problem.”

We talked it over, and it seemed the only chance. I prepared written submissions accordingly.

On the appointed day I paced the anteroom nervously in the company of Lord Goldsmith, who seemed relaxed and confident, having felled a Robert Mugabe-like figure with a single blow despite the impediment of a flipper pie.

After the courtesies, the President of the Court announced its judgment.

“Her Majesty is unable, even by the most assertive use of Reserve Powers, to declare Martial Law in Canada in order to exile the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, to St. Helena.

“Her Majesty is likewise unable to grant leave to Her Excellency to construct a moat and fire pit around Rideau Hall, to repulse any putative attacks on her authority by the executive.

“On the other hand Her Majesty wishes to convey her understanding of alarm at any threat to Parliamentary Democracy in Canada, or indeed anywhere where She is Sovereign.

“Further, Her Majesty has Herself experienced the demeanor of some of her Ministers which suggested they might, given half a chance, usurp the power of the Crown. Her Majesty instructs us to inform you that the exile of certain Ministers to St. Helena has attracted her favourable attention in the past. She had not previously considered constructing moats around various of her residences and filling them with Alberta Tar Sands, but she is likewise attracted by this possibility.

“Her Majesty, through this Committee, instructs us to send this message to Her Excellency.

First, the institution of British Parliamentary Democracy is an imperfect ship of state: its design has been haphazard, it leaks, and it has many oddities of construction. Nevertheless, it is seaworthy and has been so for a thousand years. Her Majesty believes it will so continue.

Second, before this very committee was heard the “Persons” case on appeal from Canada, in 1928. In addition to recognizing the rights of women to equal roles in political life, the ruling established the “living tree” principle of constitutional law; that is, that the constitution will grow and adapt with the society it governs.

Third, Her Excellency should know that all good wishes are extended to her, as is Her Majesty’s confidence in the future of Canada’s constitutional democracy.

“Her Excellency’s appeal is therefore dismissed.”

I rose and bowed.

I flung myself from the chamber, flung myself upon the Underground, and flung myself back to Ottawa. I forgot to stop at the Rhino and Weasel, but they forwarded my meager belongings at minimal expense.

To be continued…..