Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Justin runs for his father's old job

I really have only four words about Justin Trudeau making a run for the Liberal leadership ...

Just can't win Sussex.   Unless some kind of a miracle happens or PMS stumbles big time, Trudeau is easily beatable.   I suspect any of the registered candidates may well be too. 

I also think a merger between the Liberals and NDP and maybe even the Greens is all but inevitable.   Call it the "Liberal Democrats" if one will; and if Justin winds up the leader of such a merged party he'll have to make a lot of concessions to the socialist party that his father was once a member of, even if the NDP under the late Jack Layton made considerable strides to the centre.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Harper selling out to UK?

It's not necessarily a bad thing to be able to share consular services.    Canada and Australia have had such a sharing agreement for over 25 years -- Australia handles Canadian interests in parts of Asia-Pacific region and in turn we handle theirs in some countries in Latin America and Africa.    Similarly, a citizen of any EU country can use the services of any the other 26 if there's no mission of their home country.

But do we really want to have a protecting power relationship with Britain?   Our former colonial power, who we broke from in 1931 all because a British-appointed GG couldn't tell the difference between representing "Buckingham Palace" and 10 Downing?  This doesn't exactly bode well for an independent foreign policy.   I wouldn't go for a dual diplomatic relationship with the US -- the brief one in the 90s in Nigeria was required only because all Commonwealth states boycotted that country in a show of derision.   But surely there are other countries we can pair up with.   Say, Ireland or New Zealand perhaps?

When you consider all those propaganda ads showing how we "defeated" the States in the War of 1812 -- in reality it was a draw since no border changes resulted -- you'd think John Baird and PMS would want to "Stand Up for Canada ™".   This is anything but.

Friday, September 21, 2012

SCOC grants standing in sex-trade case

The Supreme Court of Canada has done the right thing by agreeing to consider the appeal regarding the prostitution laws in this country.    In a 53 page decision and on behalf of a unanimous court (PDF), Associate Justice Thomas A. Cromwell said that while the women who filed the class action lawsuit from Vancouver's Downtown East Side (DTES) may not represent an active criminal case at this moment in time (in the sense that none of the women leading the class are facing prosecution nor are victims who have filed charges against attackers); but the argument they present is clearly in the public interest and that there has to be certainty as to what the law in this matter should be.

Therefore, wrote Cromwell, the attempts by Team PMS to quash the litigation and have the laws kept as is without a hearing should be trashed -- and as a result the case has been remanded back to the BC courts for further hearing.

Frankly I think the SCC should have taken it further and instead actually had a full oral hearing now, consolidated with the parallel case from Ontario -- simply delaying that hearing only gives PMS even more time to demonize victims rather than helping them as he claims.    I do not as a rule like courts rewriting laws but if it is in the public interest to strike down patently unfair laws and Parliament or the majority in the legislature refuses to even consider the issue, then the courts should do so with due course.    This is clearly a case of the "cure being worse than the disease" and we need to address it ASAP.   Parliament should take the lead here but it's not going to happen with the so-called so-cons.

It is my hope that whatever the result is, a more practical and humane approach to the issue comes out.    We must absolutely put our foot down on the rape and torture of prostitutes, and have zero tolerance for anyone who enslaves someone under eighteen whether for sex or not, but the current status quo is untenable.

There should be laws that actually make sense -- that go after pimps and other predators -- and not go after sex trade workers or to make it a crime to report a sexual assault merely because one is in the trade himself or herself by choice or coercion.   In other words we should actually protect the rights of those who are voluntarily in the trade and helps the already victimized -- and not give the advantage to the bad guys, or make cowards out of the rest of us.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Canada: Sending a message to Iran, or giving up on it?

Following up on my previous post regarding Canada's sudden decision to completely sever ties with Iran, I have these extended thoughts on why this was way too fast and too sudden.   Five days after the announcement, there's still no indication on who Canada has in mind to be a protecting power.   If the Cons have no intention on seeking an intermediary state, then it must be presumed that Canada no longer recognizes Iran's right to exist anymore than most countries in the neighbourhood don't recognize Israel.

Iran certainly does need to have its wings clipped.     Certainly because of its nuclear program -- we now know the country ran computer models within the last three years to determine just how much enriched would be needed to have a viable warhead.   We know who is the intended target -- no state other than Israel.

An oil embargo would be useful, except that as a member of OPEC it pools its output with the rest of the 12 nation bloc -- only one of which, Nigeria, has what can properly be called a democracy or at least a plausible one (Ecuador and Venezuela have regressed big time).    Like a customs union, say the EU, revenues are pooled proportionally in exchange for an understanding one will neither diminish nor strengthen its output or pricing.

It goes without saying that any country that puts its military ambitions ahead of its people is one thing; to use oil royalties that properly belong to the people -- a well educated and relatively wealthy populace but heavily suppressed nonetheless -- to get Da Bomb in defiance of international obligations is unacceptable.

Also completely untenable is its continued sponsorship of state sponsored terrorists as well as states which get much of their armaments from fellow terror states -- in this case, Iran giving a helping hand to Syria.

Trade sanctions need to be applied, except they only work if the regime actually has (or believes it does) the best interests of the people in mind.  Travel sanctions as well are needed-- although they can be a joke if for no other reason than because the US, Switzerland and Austria must provide safe conduct for high officials to and from UN offices in the respective countries, even blacklisted ones -- and those officials are safe even if there is an international arrest warrant meaning the host country can't do a thing about it.    In the same vein, Italy must provide safe conduct to the Vatican -- and perhaps also San Marino.  (That's how the Yasser Arafat and Muammar Gaddafi had, and the very much living [unfortunately] Robert Mugabe and Omar Bashir have, remained free for so long.   Just do official UN or church business then go right back to home base.)

But in these cases, as others like it, there needs to be some sort of contact maintained.   We held our ground in Eastern Europe and Communism fell.    We stood our ground in South Africa, and apartheid ended.   And so on.

Cuba may not have relations with the United States or Israel but communication is maintained through a "protecting power" setup like I noted earlier in the week.   Canada has put its ties with North Korea on ice for the time being (due to its nuclear program and record of state sponsored terrorism as well) but is using the UK as a go between.

For banks to single-handedly close bank accounts because of a customer's ethnicity is outrageous but even more so if the government condones it on that basis.   But to leave when a number of our own is in jeopardy -- well, that's just plain nuts, especially if there is no one to pass messages along and back.

Bottom line, this is a case of the cart before the horse.   Recalling our ambassador for "consultations" (i.e. showing displeasure at the receiving state's actions) would be sufficient.   It would chill things further but it would send a message we're as mad as hell.    Expelling their diplomats posted here back to Tehran is bizarre unless Canada had proof that all of them were spies or laundering money.  There doesn't seem to be proof of either.

John Baird got his 15 minutes of international fame before things turned nasty in Bengazi and Cairo.    But he needs to keep in mind that wielding a sword for the sake of image can have problems of its own.    After all, it's one thing to stand up for Israel and democracy.   It's another thing to just pull up our stakes and say we've given up on democracy in Iran.   Democracies, after all, don't aim nuclear missiles -- or any missiles for that matter -- at each other.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In respect of 9/11/2001 ...

... this page is black today.    In memory of the 2977 men, women and children from nearly 60 countries who were slaughtered in this unthinkable act.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Who's protecting Canada now that we've left Iran?

There's no doubt sanctions need to be put on Iran.   And at first, I thought John Baird had a lot of guts going for the jugular like this.   But wasn't Canada suddenly cutting ties with Iran last Friday just a tad too rapid?    No skeletal staff to handle outstanding visa and immigration applications.    No warning this was going to happen.   And even more important, no protecting power -- which country will act as the go-between on Canada's behalf.    Only a warning that Canadians still in Iran get out as quickly as possible after contacting our embassy in Ankara, Turkey.  (After the so-called "Canadian Caper" in 1980, Canada suspended ties until 1988 with the Netherlands acting as our "go-to".)

If Canada is smart enough to be Israel's "protector" in Cuba, doesn't it stand to reason we should ask one of our allies to step up -- perhaps, Holland again?  Then again, with things changing so rapidly in that part of the world -- several NATO Allies, after all, have acting as protecting powers for the US or other countries in a few of the most volatile countries before they felt the need to leave and throw the hot potato to some other state --  we may need to rely on the good offices of Switzerland for stability's sake.   (Among other things, this would allow our embassy to reopen, as the "Canadian Interests Section" of the Embassy of "X".)

I'll have more on this later in the week ... I've had too much going on so I apologize for the absence.