Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Afghan "detainee" transfer problem that has not gone away

"...that history has yet to be written."



"In some ways that history has yet to be written....We went in there and we conclusively proved that Afghans were being handed over to torture chambers.  I was just one guy, but following up on the work we did, the United Nations led by a woman named Georgette Gangnon, who is also a Canadian, she led teams of human rights investigators that produced reams of reports that conclusively showed that in Kandahar detainees are regularly tortured by Afghan authorities......The answer about whether the Canadians knew that they were handing people over to torture - those answers are in Ottawa."
Graeme Smith on Afghanistan
The Dogs Are Eating Them Now
CBC Power and Politics
December 20, 2013
Clip on prisoner transfers starts about 4:52.
Sorry about the ads.


"So I said, you know, the NDS tortures people, that is what they do, and if we don’t want to have detainees tortured, we shouldn’t give them to the NDS."
– 
Richard Colvin, testimony before the Canadian Military Police Complaints Commission, April 13, 2010

    Lastly, the general problem of responsibility for the treatment of prisoners of war can be solved only on the very basis on which the system provided by the Convention is itself founded: the States parties to the Convention must remain responsible for the prisoners captured by their armed forces. A unified command which has authority over the armed forces of several countries cannot in this case take over the responsibility incumbent upon States; otherwise the proper application of the Conventions which are, at least at the present stage, indissolubly linked to a structure composed of States, would be endangered.
Commentary - Art. 12. Part II : General protection of prisoners of war
Third Geneva Convention, August 12,1949 
Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Grapes and the Magna Carta




RON MACLEAN
Welcome to House of Commons Night in Canada.. Tonight is our roundup for 2013.  I'm Ron MacLean here with Don Cherry and our special guest, Ken Dryden.  Ken, welcome to House of Commons Night in Canada.

KEN DRYDEN
Thanks, I've been looking forward to it.

RON MACLEAN
Ken, you're one of the few Canadians to have played the game of hockey AND the game of parliamentary democracy at the highest levels.  How do you compare the experiences?

KEN DRYDEN
It's an interesting question.  The first thing that comes to mind I guess, is that there's not as much talking in hockey.

DON CHERRY
There's a lot of yapping...

KEN DRYDEN
You're absolutely right, Don, there is a lot of yapping in hockey.  But now that I think of it, there's a lot of yapping that goes on in the House of Commons as well.

RON MACLEAN
Maybe we should get into that a little, the difference between yapping on the rink and yapping in the House of Commons.

KEN DRYDEN
Don, why don't you take that one?

DON CHERRY
Thanks Kenny, but as you know I've never played in the House of Commons....

KEN DRYDEN
I know, but you've seen Question Period and have pretty informed opinions about what you see there compared to the British House of Commons...

DON CHERRY
...and I'm not a lawyer, like you are...

KEN DRYDEN
There's lots of lawyers around the NHL but only one Grapes...

DON CHERRY
I think that's a compliment but anyway, in hockey yapping is needling a guy, trying to get him to do something stupid, or getting him off his game.

KEN DRYDEN
I agree, except my experience of the Commons is the yapping isn't that sophisticated - it's more trying to shout people down, drown 'em out.

RON MACLEAN
The fans normally do that in hockey.

KEN DRYDEN
Yeah, the Commons yapping is more like a bunch of drunks in the nosebleed section.

RON MACLEAN
So does the Commons do any better than just yapping?

KEN DRYDEN
Yes it does.  Really - and I'm sure you'll get this, Don - it's about respect...

DON CHERRY
I'm happy to hear you say that...

KEN DRYDEN
...respect for your opponents..

DON CHERRY
I'm happy to hear you say that, too...

KEN DRYDEN
...and really you can see that at work in the recent debate about Syria in the British House of Commons.

RON MACLEAN
How so?

KEN DRYDEN
Well, I've got a clip of it here.

DON CHERRY
Let's roll it.



DON CHERRY
We don't normally do 15 minute clips but I gotta say, it's a long way from Question Period in our House of Commons.

KEN DRYDEN
And that's the difference between talking and yapping, and I think Michael Chong's Reform Act is a step in the right direction.  But I think we shouldn't be discouraged about this.  British Parliamentary democracy is in constant evolution and has about 800 years behind it, that's one of its strengths. As Winston Churchill said in the British House of Commons in the dark days of 1942:
Thus we arrive, by our ancient constitutional methods, at practical working arrangements which show that Parliamentary democracy can adapt itself to all situations and can go out in all weathers. 
DON CHERRY
So besides the Canadian election in 2015, it's the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta?

KEN DRYDEN
It's going to be a very big deal.  The Queen is Patron.

DON CHERRY
I don't wanna get in trouble like I usually do but shouldn't she be the Matron?

KEN DRYDEN
You'll have to take that up with the Organizing Committee.

RON MACLEAN
So we should be optimistic?

KEN DRYDEN
Absolutely.

RON MACLEAN
What would you suggest for starters, if you could reform House procedure?

KEN DRYDEN
I'd rip out all the desks.

RON MACLEAN
Really?  Why?

KEN DRYDEN
Not sure I can explain it, but I think the desks provide too much cover and separate the government from the opposition like it was trench warfare.

DON CHERRY
The Australians have desks.

KEN DRYDEN
Not the front benches.

RON MACLEAN
And on that note, we'll have to leave it until....

DON CHERRY
Kenny, you always were a little different but you never fail to surprise me.

KEN DRYDEN
I feel the same way about your suits.  Would you mind if I went shopping with you some time?

DON CHERRY
First Mercer, now Dryden  Where will it end?

RON MACLEAN
...next time on House of Commons Night in Canada.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Base and The Nation


Flaherty’s tears for Rob Ford are a reminder of the ties that bind the federal Conservative government to the Toronto mayor and his criminal advisors. In August 2011, newly reelected Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a very telling appearance at the annual, summer picnic spectacle of the Ford family and its ‘Ford Nation’ supporters....
Ford’s west-end street was blocked off by police when Harper’s motorcade arrived, while in the backyard, Tory supporters enjoyed burgers, beer and wine.
In his surprise speech to the crowd, Harper thanked Ford’s mother, Diane, for “giving us this great Conservative political dynasty.” 
“Many of you may remember Rob endorsed us in the election. That helped a lot,” Harper told the crowd in the video. “Rob is doing something very important that needs to be done here. He is cleaning up the NDP mess here in Toronto.”
The prime minister said his government had cleaned up the “left-wing mess federally” and said he hoped to “complete the hat trick” by turning Ontario blue come the Oct. 6 provincial election, a comment that elicited applause from the crowd.
[emphasis added]
 ***

DON CHERRY
(cont'd)
18.  Forcing committees into closed hearings for no good reason and to the detriment of accountability
19. Refusal of the Prime Minister to answer questions from the press
20. Shipping three armoured limos to India by air for the PM's use for a few days and blaming the RCMP for the decision
21. Stalling the release of Residential School records on the grounds of "privacy" or "it's too hard" when these records are necessary to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to carry out its mandate...

RON MACLEAN
You have a long list of these, ah.... not accomplishments.

DON CHERRY
22. Writing a book about hockey...

RON MACLEAN
Whoa, whoa.... I thought that would be an accomplishment in your eyes.

DON CHERRY
23. Writing a hockey book about the Leafs...

RON MACLEAN
This obviously isn't striking you as a good thing.

DON CHERRY
Why is he fiddling about the Leafs while his PMO is burning?  The Leafs have had all the amateur hour help they can use over the last few decades.  As Brent Rathgeber said, Harper is the PM in the PMO and if he had no idea that evil was being done by his closest advisors, why was he spending time writing a book on something he knows nothing about?  What next, I'm going to write a book about the history of Canadian Prime Ministers?

RON MACLEAN
I've heard worse ideas.

DON CHERRY
Like?

RON MACLEAN
The NHL in Phoenix rather than Hamilton.

DON CHERRY
Well, I have to agree with you there.  The NHL should have taken Balsillie's offer while he was on a roll.  Let's face it, southern Ontario could have two NHL teams without breaking a sweat.

RON MACLEAN
Why not Waterloo?

DON CHERRY
Why not Owen Sound?

RON MACLEAN
Now you're trying to confuse me.

DON CHERRY
Owen Sound makes more sense that South Carolina.

RON MACLEAN
In more ways than one.  Let's face it, the NHL should be in Halifax, Quebec City, and Saskatoon.  They'd be sold out in no time.  The NHL finances are a black box, it has nothing to do with hockey in my opinion.

DON CHERRY
There you go.  There are more serious hockey fans in western Canada than the American south, where the major competition is Roller Derby.

RON MACLEAN
So where do you see the hard core support for British parliamentary democracy?

DON CHERRY
Not in the American south.

RON MACLEAN
In Canada....

DON CHERRY
Everywhere in Canada....

RON MACLEAN
The Conservative Party of Canada doesn't seem like a hotbed of support...

DON CHERRY
That's not fair. There are many Conservatives who are supporters:  Michael Chong, Brent Rathgeber, just to name two.

RON MACLEAN
Can you name any more?

DON CHERRY
Don't rush me, don't rush me....

RON MACLEAN
How much of The Base cares about parliamentary democracy?

DON CHERRY
About the same as The Nation.

RON MACLEAN
And that is...?

DON CHERRY
Lemme put it this way, they watch Coach's Corner.  In fact Kenny Dryden said it best, only yesterday in The Globe:
For Mr. Ford and his supporters, their greatest delight is to see the know-everythings whine, to see how powerless the know-everythings are with only argument on their side. To see how powerless the powerful can be.
The difference between the two sides now has little to do with cutting taxes or smoking crack cocaine. Mr. Ford’s supporters hardly support his abuses. It’s about the deep, diseased hatred each side has for the other. The other side can not, must not win.
RON MACLEAN
So if they don't want parliamentary democracy, what do they want?

DON CHERRY
That my friend, is the question that needs an answer.

RON MACLEAN
And maybe we'll find one, next time on House of Commons Night in Canada.

DON CHERRY
Maybe we should have Kenny on the show.

RON MACLEAN
Let's ask him and see what happens.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Weaponizing Christmas



Saturday, December 14, 2013

"Designing a Parliament for the 21st Century"

Get Adobe Flash player
It is my very strong sense, sitting institutionally where I do, that the class of 2010 did not arrive here minded to serve its time, do what it was told, and keep itself quietly occupied. 
John Bercow
Speaker, British House of Commons
Speech to Hansard Society
Nov 27, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The evil of banality



The guy on the right, in any plain reading of the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions of 1949, has a case to answer for violations that are "grave breaches of international humanitarian law" a.k.a. war crimes, particularly murder without due process in Pakistan.

The guy on the left supported the invasion of Iraq which, in any plain reading of the Nuremberg Principles  is also a war crime, one that got Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel hung with respect to Czechoslovakia.  Of course, Keitel also authorized treatment of Russian prisoners of war that were also war crimes, and that also got him hung..

I'm not sure about the actual photographer, but Denmark hasn't been noticeably wise about NATO excursions in the Middle East and North Africa, and of course Afghanistan.  Also, the NATO Secretary-General is Danish, and rah-rah about humanitarian violence.

They're all having a great time.  I'm sure it will play well in the Daily Mail and Vanity Fair, not to mention their high school year books..

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A third rate accountability attempt

On behalf of the President, press secretary Ziegler said then that he would not comment on a “third-rate burglary attempt.” He added that “certain elements may try to stretch this beyond what it is.”
Laurence Stern and Haynes Johnson
Washington Post Published: May 1, 1973

DON CHERRY
(cont'd)
13. Not Bev Oda
14. Gazebos
15. G8/20 $1 billion-for-nothing boondoggle...
16. The "in and out" fiasco
17. Guelph...

RON MACLEAN
There's just no letup is there?

DON CHERRY
I know.  Just when the Senate had taken over centre stage again from the, ah, events in Toronto - bam! - a Conservative back-bencher weighs in with a Private Member's bill to reform the way the House works and everybody's paying attention.

RON MACLEAN
That would be Michael Chong, MP for Wellington-Halton Hills.

DON CHERRY
That would be correct. I have to say I'm liking Chong, he's the real deal; not exactly a rookie but he's young, sees the House well, has good hands.

RON MACLEAN
So tell our viewers what he's trying to do.

DON CHERRY
What he wants to do is get more power to elected representatives...

RON MACLEAN
...Members of Parliament...

DON CHERRY
...right, and remove some from the cabinet and particularly from the PMO where kids nobody has elected or even heard of  famously try to boss around actual Members of Parliament. Government MPs get told when to talk, what to say, when to clap, how to vote, when to pee...  We've talked about respect before...

RON MACLEAN
Is this just a Conservative problem?

DON CHERRY
Not at all.  Chong makes that point. The other thing about Chong's bill is he wants to transfer more power to the ridings. It's an all party problem, and the same thing was going on with Chretien and Trudeau the Elder now that I think of it.  Politicians who want to get things done are always trying to centralize power to they can make actual decisions, not surprisingly, and don't want to run it by a few dozen members who all want their say and then say it in ways that make people nuts and nothing gets done.

RON MACLEAN
Yeah, David Frum was writing about exactly that in the National Post.

DON CHERRY
Who's David Frum?

RON MACLEAN
Senator Linda Frum's brother. He's spent most of his political career in the States and worked for George Bush.

DON CHERRY
Which one?

RON MACLEAN
W.

DON CHERRY
And he's knocking British Parliamentary Democracy?

RON MACLEAN
Yeah, he was saying if MPs had more power, the government wouldn't get anything done.

DON CHERRY
Let me quote Winston Churchill at him:
We work our affairs in a different way. The Prime Minister is the servant of the House and is liable to dismissal at a moment's notice by a simple vote. It is only possible for him to do what is necessary, and what has got to be done on occasion by somebody or other, if he enjoys, as I do, the support of an absolutely loyal and united Cabinet, and if he is refreshed and fortified from time to time, and especially in bad times, as I have been, by massive and overwhelming Parliamentary majorities. Then your servant is able to transact the important business which has to be done with confidence and freedom, and is able to meet people at the heads of the Allied countries on more or less equal terms and on occasion to say, "Yes" and "No," without delay upon some difficult questions. Thus we arrive, by our ancient constitutional methods, at practical working arrangements which show that Parliamentary democracy can adapt itself to all situations and can go out in all weathers.
RON MACLEAN
Also, judges are unaccountable.

DON CHERRY
He said the Canadian judiciary is unaccountable? This is a guy who worked in the White House and enthuses about the presidential system in which the Supreme Court Chief Justice goes duck hunting with the Vice President.  How do we know Cheney didn't threaten to shoot Scalia like he shot some other guy on a similar hunting trip, after a few beers?  There was a big case coming up shortly after that named Cheney as the defendant.  So now we're talking about it, who's Senator Linda Frum?

RON MACLEAN
"She currently serves on the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, the Energy and Environment Committee, and the Senate Conflict of Interest Committee." I just checked on Wikipedia.

DON CHERRY
Which party?

RON MACLEAN
Conservative.  Appointed by Harper in 2009.

DON CHERRY
Conflict of Interest Committee?  You'd think she'd be all over this. It's a conflict for Deloitte being the auditor of the CPC that Irv Gerstein is the chair of while also conducting an audit of Duffy for the Senate where Irv Gerstein is a Conservative Senator, the audit being awarded by the Standing Committee for Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, the results of the audit possibly implicating the current Prime Minister or his appointed staff in improper attempts to manipulate the Senate where Linda Frum is a Conservative Senator responsible for conflict of interest. So, no problem. The other thing is I don't know why the Senate needed an outside auditor when they have a perfectly good inside auditor in the form of the Auditor General. In fact his audit is already happening.  The Auditor General made that clear in his remarks on June 11, 2013 to the very same Standing Committee for Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration.
I would like to assure the Committee that we have sufficient resources to conduct the audit.  As we did in the last one, we may engage experts, if the need arises.
 It's hard to believe the Board didn't know that before they asked Deloitte to do the outside audit.

RON MACLEAN
OK so back to the House of Commons, what's your take on Michael Chong's reform bill?

DON CHERRY
Well, it really isn't a reform.

RON MACLEAN
You're kidding.

DON CHERRY
The Conservative back bench can unseat the Prime Minister any time they want.

RON MACLEAN
How?

DON CHERRY
Like Churchill said, the nuclear option is voting with the Opposition on the budget.  That would bring down the government.

RON MACLEAN
Anything less drastic?

DON CHERRY
They can maneuver in caucus.

RON MACLEAN
How?

DON CHERRY
There's 39 Conservatives in the Cabinet which leaves 126 Conservative back-benchers. It wouldn't be a contest. The back-benchers in the British House of Commons exert influence through the 1922 Committee. That was speaking truth to power. The thing about Chong's bill is it'll get people talking, like we're talking now.

RON MACLEAN
...and will be again soon, possibly on YouTube.

DON CHERRY
We can make our own studio, I'll decorate it tastefully...

RON MACLEAN
Both imagination and words fail me.

DON CHERRY
Seeing is believing.

RON MACLEAN
*puts on impressive snow goggles*  I'm prepared for a snow job.



Monday, December 2, 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013

"moral indifference and general incompetence"

Harper's fairy tale on House of Commons Night in Canada


The entire system of checks and balances inside the Ottawa Bubble completely broke down. It is possible that a culture of moral indifference and general incompetence exists inside Langevin Block. If so, that culture was nurtured under this Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is responsible constitutionally for the operation, ethical standards and general competence of his own office. He is the PM in PMO.
Either the Prime Minister’s honesty or his competence as a manager of his own office is under siege. At this point, it is far from clear to me which scenario is worse.
Brent Rathgeber 
Member of Parliament for Edmonton-St. Albert
Toronto Star

RON MACLEAN
Well Don, there's been a lot going on 

DON CHERRY
Tell me about it

RON MACLEAN
..and it seems now for you and me, too.

DON CHERRY
Tell me about it.

RON MACLEAN
So before we get to the hectic action in the House of Commons and the Senate, let's talk about Rogers getting Hockey Night in Canada for the next decade..

DON CHERRY
Well HNIC is a great institution created by the CBC, and though I know there are business reasons for making a change, I just hope that all the collected experience of the last 60 years doesn't get lost in translation.

RON MACLEAN
I think a lot of us are hoping that.  Is it sixty years?

DON CHERRY
Foster Hewitt ... 1953

RON MACLEAN
Coach's Corner doesn't go back that far, however.

DON CHERRY
Just seems like it.

RON MACLEAN
So here's the money question.  How do you see the future of Coach's Corner?

DON CHERRY
We'll have to hang 'em up some time, but meanwhile I'm not worried.  Now that I'm pretty much up to speed on Twitter and the other antisocial media..

RON MACLEAN
That's a joke, right?

DON CHERRY
...not really, no, but I see a real chance for us to go freelance, get ourselves a YouTube channel, and we could have Coach's Corner as often as we felt like it, see how many advertisers are interested.  We could even do the Olympics.

RON MACLEAN
Wouldn't the Olympics have something to say about that?

DON CHERRY
They'd try, but I'd like to see what would happen.  It'd be commentary on the Olympics, no different from any other sports journalism that doesn't pay the IOC.  It's free speech.

RON MACLEAN
This is boggling.  Grapes becoming a political activist.

DON CHERRY
All sorts of people have been outraged at my politics before, nothing new there.

RON MACLEAN
Well it's boggling me and my immediate plans for the future..

DON CHERRY
We'll talk...

RON MACLEAN
So now let's get to the House of Commons where all sorts of opposition questions are getting all sorts of answers, none of the answers having much to do with the questions.

DON CHERRY
Yeah, well we talked about this before.  In the British House of Commons the Speaker can inject discipline into the debate and shut people up.  Our current Speaker doesn't think he has this power, and certainly doesn't have it through the Standing Orders...

RON MACLEAN
As Bercow does.

DON CHERRY
Right.  In a perfect world the Harpers of the world would have respect for the institution of parliamentary democracy, but in fact the Harpers of the world treat the House of Commons and the Senate as tools to be manipulated and avoided in their attempt to return to feudalism.

RON MACLEAN
Not  respect.

DON CHERRY
Exactly, there's no respect.  This is where The Code comes in.

RON MACLEAN
You're suggesting there should be party enforcers and front bench-clearing brawls?

DON CHERRY
Something's gotta happen.  Like  Bruce Anderson  said on "At Issue", the message from the insiders in Harper's government is "We're perfect and you're scum."   That's contempt, and if the Speaker can't or won't control the game somebody's gonna stand up to the abuse.  The House of Commons has to do its job.

RON MACLEAN
A lot of people would say this government's strength is competence.

DON CHERRY
I keep hearing it, it's a joke.

RON MACLEAN
Really?

DON CHERRY
What has this government accomplished?  I mean accomplished at all?

RON MACLEAN
There's abolishing the long-gun registry.

DON CHERRY
Right, and reducing the GST 1%..

RON MACLEAN
And then eliminating the required long form census..

DON CHERRY
You're getting my point.  They've eliminated things that were useful, and reduced the GST in a politically attractive but realistically insane pretense of tax reduction.  Then there's all the things they screwed up.

RON MACLEAN
Like?

DON CHERRY
Like... 1. Lecturing China on human rights and then discovering they had to suck up to China when it was a little late.
2. The F-35. Let's leave it at that.
3. The whole Afghan detainee mess in which Rob Nicholson obstructed justice to interfere with the Military Police Complaints Commission, among many of other examples of trying to operate in secret.
4. Taking bad care of Afghan vets while jumping on NATO bandwagons to bomb things.
5. Proroguing the House of Commons to avoid political responsibility.
6. Trashing the Palestinians and then being crushed in a bid to be elected to the Security Council.
7. Failure to see the pipeline disaster coming.
8. Politicizing the civil service.
9. Muzzling of scientists
10. Bundling together of unrelated legislation in an attempt to avoid reasonable debate.
11. Holding committee meetings in secret to avoid public accountability.
12. Non-cooperation with Parliamentary Budget Office that it created...

...want more?

RON MACLEAN
That'll do for now, but you think the way to deal with this is dropping gloves in the Commons?

DON CHERRY
Like I say, if the Speaker can't control the House, the House will have to control itself.

RON MACLEAN
Well, on that mind-bending image we'll have to say that's it for tonight on House of Commons Night in Canada.

DON CHERRY
Whaddya think of the YouTube idea?

RON MACLEAN
I'm liking it.  It'll be the power of the Free Market.  I can't see them doing Hockey Day in Canada without us.

DON CHERRY
Also, they won't have any fashion sense.

"If only white men voted..."

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Supreme Court on Senate Night in Canada


Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

RON MACLEAN
Don, I don't think we need flowery introductions, what's going in in The Supreme Court?

DON CHERRY
It's just so...I don't know...this is beyond the playoffs....I've never seen...

RON MACLEAN
I've never seen you speechless.

DON CHERRY
Gimme a second. You keep talking about my command of English.

RON MACLEAN
For sure.  It has an impressive robfordian quality to it.

DON CHERRY
Do. Not. Go.....

RON MACLEAN
So bring us up to speed on demolishing the Senate.

DON CHERRY
Now we're talking.  As if we didn't have enough excitement on Parliament Hill, the government is in the Supreme Court getting an opinion on whether King Steve can disband the Senate on his own say-so and turn the whole thing into the new PMO.  Naturally, most proceedings would be conducted from the dais.

RON MACLEAN
What would they use the rest of the space for?

DON CHERRY
Well, command centres for CSEC, CSIS, DND, RCMP, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers....it goes on and on.  So, no problem.

RON MACLEAN
Does it matter what the Senators themselves think?

DON CHERRY
No, they have problems of their own.  Craig Anderson out with a concussion...

RON MACLEAN
Lehner played well.

DON CHERRY
Absolutely.  So the government is now yanking the chain of the Supreme Court, trying to get it to say the government on its own can abolish the Senate, which with the current government, interprets the Constitution to mean the House of Commons can abolish the Senate.

RON MACLEAN
Is that bad?

DON CHERRY
Of course! If a majority in the Commons starts exercising rights it doesn't have to alter independent institutions, it's game over for Parliamentary Democracy in Canada.  Where does it stop?  The government then starts looking at the Supreme Court Act, decides to reduce the number of justices to three and then makes each justice a political appointee, and there's no Senate to blow the whistle, and maybe no Governor General either.

RON MACLEAN
That's pretty extreme.

DON CHERRY
This is serious.  Kids, the game of Parliamentary Democracy is beautiful, but it's been put together over a long time and you don't wanna mess with it; if it ain't broke don't fix it.

RON MACLEAN
So what are the chances of your worst nightmare coming true?

DON CHERRY
I'm an optimist, you know that. I think there's almost no chance Harper can pull this off.  First of all, the hearing at the Supreme Court last week did not go well for the government, although I'm waiting for the transcripts.

RON MACLEAN
What transcripts?

DON CHERRY
Of the hearing.

RON MACLEAN
How do you get Supreme Court transcripts?

DON CHERRY
You ask for them.  This is Canada.  If that's not enough, the provinces are going to have something to say about this, and after that there's the Governor General who I think will not be keen on that sort of approach to governing Canada, and if all else fails there's the Queen.

RON MACLEAN
We'll be looking forward to even more developments next week on Senate Night in Canada.

DON CHERRY
Kids, the price of freedom is always keeping your head up.

RON MACLEAN
I see there's a by-election in Brandon Souris coming up.

DON CHERRY
We're in Wheat Kings territory, and it's not a slam dunk for the Conservatives.

RON MACLEAN
That's unheard-of

DON CHERRY
You heard it here .

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Neverending War

And what is this bill? 
This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations
Major-General Smedley Butler
US Marine Corps
"War is a Racket" 




November 11, Remembrance Day, 2013

James Wilfred Elliott
Regimental Number 908082
195th Battalion
Canadian Expeditionary Force

Dear Uncle Wilfred,

Well, it's over 98 years since you were in the Battle for Hill 70, got seriously wounded, and received the Military Medal as a result.  And it's 4 years since I wrote you last so I thought I should bring you up to date.

A lot has happened, and not much has happened. The International Security Assistance Force for Afghanistan is leaving in confusion, and leaving chaos in its wake.  I don't think it's what anybody had in mind. On the first page of the UN Security Council Resolution 1386 of December 20, 2001, the goal was stated to be "root out terrorism."

As a goal, it seemed preposterous, nobody defined it.  The definition of "terrorism" has remained fuzzy all this time, even though people are dying trying to root it out.  This goal was originally defined by NATO as a "collective act of self-defence" and therefore qualifying the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan as legal.  I'd like to know what they would have thought of that  at Nuremberg.

Anyway, and after about 12 years, almost all the troops are back in Canada. Nobody can define the purpose of all that dying and wounding and civilian casualties, or even had the honesty to define what "winning" would have looked like.  They had the same problem in Vietnam.

To be fair, there were a lot of statements about Afghanistan becoming a peaceful society in the modern world, having elections and everything, but even if - despite the lack of plan - Afghanistan had miraculously been transmogrified into such a society, it would have still been surrounded by nations who still view things differently, which means the whole region would have had to go through a miraculous evolution to the same type of society that would have - miraculously - come to exist in Afghanistan. Nobody asked the Afghans if that's what they wanted.

However, the cost of not knowing what your goals are getting in, and therefore not having a clue how to get out, is horrendous and apparently neverending, as you would know.



 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Return of the Serial Proroguer Part 2



It was bizarre, and yet....

"She doesn't want me to go back to the Privy Council does she?"

"It is not for me to say. She requests only a meeting at the Savoy."

"When?"

"Tomorrow in the Grill at nine o'clock in the forenoon..  She will offer you a $16 glass of orange juice and ask if you can get her some raw seal."

"I've worked for that woman. I'll know her when I see her."

"Then I need say no more." He lurched into the night, leaving a faint aroma of cod.

I considered leaving immediately for a warmer climate, but thought the present opportunity too good to pass up. What could possibly go wrong?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Hell in Bruges




Excerpt from The War Diary of ISAF's Media Operations Centre NATO Headquarters Blvd Leopold III 1110 Brussels, Belgium. Friday, November 1, 2013 9:30 AM.  Diverted on way in to work to super secret meeting in Bruges, nowhere in Brussels is safe. Chief showed considerable imagination convening at top of Belfort Tower. Who would know? Also, three hundred and sixty-six freaking steps to the top, a test of loyalty and resolution. 12:30 PM  Chief arrived at top, not looking at all well, clutching bottle of Delirium Tremens, half full, or empty.



His aide-de-camp carried a picnic basket of moules et frites, a welcome relief from the cold and wind, not to mention the bells.  The bells, the bells!



There were three of us, the Chief, Secretary to the Chief and me. The others presumably had died on the way up, or been driven mad by the bells and leapt to their deaths poetically in the market square below. OK I saw the movie. After more Delirium Tremens, we turned to the business at hand, the complete disintegration of NATO security. 1:00 PM. Unfortunately the bells, while providing total operational security, destroyed any chance of effective communication. Maybe it didn't matter. 1:30 Moules et frites, Delirium Tremens long gone. Bells quiet. Chief remarks that everybody in NATO is bugging everybody else.  Thing is, everything is going on as before. Even if everybody knows everybody else's secrets, it doesn't matter.  Advantage, Snowden. 1:45 PM. We descend 366 steps and retire to the Staminee de Garre.

We should do this more often.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Senate Night in Canada






















RON MACLEAN
Hello, I'm Ron MacLean here with Don Cherry on the occasion of our first ever broadcast of  "Senate Night in Canada." Don, we should give people a little background on this.

DON CHERRY
Yeah well we were as you know covering the Senate as a sort of sideline on House of Commons Night in Canada, when all of a sudden it took on a life of its own. The Red Chamber really demanded its own coverage, and there's no end in sight. So I talked it over with Kathy Broderick...

RON MACLEAN
Your Twitter manager...

DON CHERRY
Yeah, I'd be lost without her, and we decided - we being all of us, you too - that we needed dedicated coverage.  Who knows where this will go, but we thought we should follow the money.  We thought of having an all inclusive "Houses of Parliament Night in Canada" but it sounded either boring or the highlight reel from a bordello, so we decided to separate the powers.

RON MACLEAN
What about "Governor-General's Night in Canada"?

DON CHERRY
We thought of that too when Michaëlle Jean was GG, mainly because we were all huge fans....

RON MACLEAN
But how about David Johnston? He actually played for Harvard and had a shot at a pro career.

DON CHERRY
I know.  A great guy.  But I think of him like Bill McCreary, he works best when he's invisible...

RON MACLEAN
I think you had a crush on the previous GG.

DON CHERRY
Who didn't?  But she doesn't play a contact sport.

RON MACLEAN
Well...

DON CHERRY
Stifle yourself. We're talking about the Senate.

RON MACLEAN
So bring us up to date.

DON CHERRY
Hard to know where to start.  It's like sudden death overtime...

RON MACLEAN
Mike Duffy might not agree it's "sudden"...

DON CHERRY
Yeah OK, it's more like "death of a thousand cuts" overtime, but Duffy's fighting back. That's what makes it so interesting.

RON MACLEAN
There's a lot of people suggesting this whole debacle shows that the Senate is useless and should be abolished...

DON CHERRY
That's so old.  People complain about political institutions when the institutions don't follow orders. Harper calls political debate "bickering" and has, just in my opinion, no idea why there's an actual opposition that has a job to do in British Parliamentary Democracy, which is to hold the government to account, as opposed to forelock-tugging obedience to an executive that rules by Divine Right...

RON MACLEAN
Wow...

DON CHERRY
I'm just getting started.  Then, when it starts to leak out that there's some kind of malfeasance...

RON MACLEAN
What?

DON CHERRY
...playing fast and loose with expenses and residency requirements, the Prime Minister wants to fire the Senators he appointed - having said he wanted Senators elected and also, now that I think about it, championed a Federal Accountability Act after which he has avoided accountability and transparency like the plague, Duffy and Nigel Wright both having a plague to be avoided, and is confused about why anybody objects...

RON MACLEAN
And who is objecting?

DON CHERRY
Hugh Segal for one, Don Plett for another.  Both these guys are Conservatives but have some respect for due process and the rule of law, neither of which is in evidence in current motions to disbar, fire, suspend, excommunicate sitting Senators.  In fact, the Senate is now caught up in figuring out the rule of law. Everybody's on the hook, including Noël Kinsella.

RON MACLEAN
The Speaker of the Senate...

DON CHERRY
Exactly.  The guy who has the power to suspend proceedings in case of "grave disorder"..

RON MACLEAN
As you talked about before...

DON CHERRY
As I talked about before.  So the show will continue next week, and I can hardly wait.  In the meantime we have the Conservative annual meeting in Calgary to entertain us, with apparent rebellion brewing about the shabby treatment of Nigel Wright...

RON MACLEAN
...which we'll have to leave until next time on Senate Night in Canada.

DON CHERRY
You know, David Bulger said when Duffy was appointed that he didn't think it was constitutional...

RON MACLEAN
And now it's coming back to bite Duffy?

DON CHERRY
It's coming back to bite the entire government. Yagottaloveit.



Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thursday, October 24, 2013

'Grave Disorder' in Senate on House of Commons Night in Canada

Senate Debate, Thursday, October 24
2-6. (1) The Speaker may interrupt any proceeding in order to restore order or enforce the Rules.

2-6. (2) In the event of grave disorder, the Speaker may suspend the sitting of the Senate for up to three hours.

Rules of the Senate of Canada

*** 
Standing Order 10 

The Speaker shall preserve order and decorum, and shall decide questions of order. In deciding a point of order or practice, the Speaker shall state the Standing Order or other authority applicable to the case. No debate shall be permitted on any such decision, and no such decision shall be subject to an appeal to the House.
The preservation of order and decorum has been a duty of the Speaker since 1867, but the task was never as difficult as in the early years of Confederation. Speakers in that time were regularly confronted with rude and disorderly conduct which they were unable to control. The throwing of paper, books, and other missiles, including firecrackers in one case, combined with the noises Members made imitating cats, making music and generally being loud, made for a very riotous assembly. It was often suggested, not without some truth, that the root of the problem of order and decorum lay in the basement of the Parliament Building, just below the Chamber, where a much frequented public saloon plied “intoxicating liquors” to Members seeking "refreshment” during the lengthy evening debates.
Annotated Standing Orders of the House of Commons, 2005
pg. 22

RON MACLEAN
Welcome to House of Commons Night in Canada.  Tonight we have a special feature on play in the Senate and not the House of Commons. I'm Ron MacLean here with Don Cherry.  Don, the Senate normally doesn't get much attention, a bit like the American Hockey League...

DON CHERRY
Whoa, whoa, whoa....I played in the American Hockey League.

RON MACLEAN
I'm sure the fans know that Don, particularly after you had a TV movie about you...

DON CHERRY
Yeah, "Keep Your Head Up, Kid", one of those times the CBC got something right.

RON MACLEAN
I really liked how you kept the beer cold on the bus.

DON CHERRY
Look, those were different times.  Kids, no beer on the bus, OK?

RON MACLEAN
And then there's Eddie Shore and the noose.

DON CHERRY
Don't go there.

RON MACLEAN
You can relax.  Tonight I want your take on what's going on in the Senate.

DON CHERRY
It's unbelievable.  I didn't think the Senate could play like this. Normally, watching the Senate is like watching paint dry, a real snooze fest, but not any more...

RON MACLEAN
How so?

DON CHERRY
Come on! Wednesday, we had a Senator appointed by the Prime Minister stand up in the Senate and threaten the same Prime Minister: if Harper makes him walk the walk, Duffy's going to talk the talk.  It won't be pretty. And of course Mike Duffy isn't alone, he's got Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau with him. It's gonna be war.

RON MACLEAN
Maybe you could bring us up to speed on this.  The Senate isn't on television like the Commons.

DON CHERRY
Sure. Duffy is being excommunicated by the Senate...

RON MACLEAN
Excommunicated?

DON CHERRY
Don't slow me down. There is an attempt by the Conservative majority in the Senate...

RON MACLEAN
Led by Senators David Tkachuk and Marjory LeBreton...

DON CHERRY
...to excommunicate....by the way, David isn't related to Keith Tkachuk is he?

RON MACLEAN
The guy who played for Winnipeg?

DON CHERRY
Yeah, him.

RON MACLEAN
No idea.

DON CHERRY
...to excommunicate Duffy and Wallin for unparliamentary claimed expenses, expenses they say they were assured by the same leaders would be OK.  Now, they're being left alone in a room with a loaded revolver and asked to do the right thing for the sake of the Maximum Leader, which they don't exactly see as a reward.  They'd be better off with Shanahan.  At least he gives his reasons for suspensions.

RON MACLEAN
Fudging your expenses is a reason...

DON CHERRY
So is misleading voters telling them their voting station has been changed...

RON MACLEAN
Zing.

DON CHERRY
It's more fun even than the Commons where the opposition asks questions and the government gives answers that have nothing to do with the questions.

RON MACLEAN
But more has happened since Wednesday.

DON CHERRY
It just doesn't stop.  It's like the playoffs. On Thursday Pamela Wallin took off on LeBreton, and Brazeau challenged his imminent suspension because there was no due process, an objection supported by members of the Conservatives like Don Plett, formerly chairman of the Conservative Party.

RON MACLEAN
Sounds like the Conservatives are coming apart under pressure.

DON CHERRY
Like the Republicans.  There is definitely a split along the due process/Red Queen divide...

RON MACLEAN
Red Queen?

DON CHERRY
Keep up!  It's from Alice in Wonderland.  The Red Queen said "Sentence first - verdict afterwards."

RON MACLEAN
You never cease to amaze me.

DON CHERRY
And it's only Thursday!  I can't wait for tomorrow...

RON MACLEAN
So that's it for tonight at House of Commons Night in Canada.  Join us tomorrow after what's sure to be fire-wagon play in the Senate.

DON CHERRY
Did you know the Speaker in the Senate can suspend proceedings for three hours in the case of "grave disorder'?

RON MACLEAN
No, I...

DON CHERRY
But there is no equivalent Standing Order for the House of Commons Speaker?

RON MACLEAN
Also no, I...

DON CHERRY
But the Speaker in the British House of Commons still has that power?

RON MACLEAN
Uh....

DON CHERRY
You read Rob Walsh on Twitter?

RON MACLEAN
I don't read anything on Twitter.

DON CHERRY
You're really missing out.


Monday, October 21, 2013

The Daily Mail - Identification Friend or Foe



Here is Mr Ward Price, of the Daily Mail, in 1932:
Ignorant and prejudiced people talk of Italian affairs as if that nation were subject to some tyranny which it would willingly throw off. With that rather morbid commiseration for fanatical minorities which is the rule with certain imperfectly informed sections of British public opinion, this country long shut its eyes to the magnificent work that the Fascist régime was doing. I have several times heard Mussolini himself express his gratitude to the Daily Mail as having been the first British newspaper to put his aims fairly before the world.
George Orwell
Who are the war criminals?
My country right or left, 1940-1943
David R. Godine, 2000, pg. 319

And then there's Lord Rothermere and "Hurrah for the Blackshirts"
Page 6


There are those who think a newspaper's perspective that is 80 years old is irrelevant. Sure. But a constant of The Daily Mail has been deference to authority.