Thursday, May 07, 2009

Portraits of Great Canadians - OK, I'm Kidding! How About "Some News from Canada!"

Canadian human rights commissioner has free expression wrong
Serious misunderstanding of free expression
By Troy Media
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
-Janet Keeping, President, Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership
It is perfectly understandable that people disagree on how human rights statutes should be amended to best protect free expression. But a recent speech by Jennifer Lynch, Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, should worry everyone for it reveals a serious misunderstanding of free expression.
To be fair, Lynch makes some valid points about the controversy over whether human rights agencies should have authority to punish offensive speech. Much, as she points out, of what has been said about human rights commissions is “inaccurate” or “unfair.” For example, commentators have suggested complaints about offensive speech make up much of the commissions’ work. In fact, in Alberta, such cases constitute 1 to 3% of the case-load. Across the country, it is not much different.
Some critics have even claimed that discrimination no longer occurs, so human rights commissions have no “legitimate” work left to do. Tell that to the many women refused work or fired because they are pregnant. Legally, pregnancy discrimination is a form of gender discrimination, but many employers are good at making it look like something else. Aboriginal people, the disabled, gays and many others can provide plenty of evidence that discrimination, unfortunately, remains widespread.
But Lynch is wrong on some basic issues, most importantly on freedom of expression. She says that the “power (of words and ideas) while overwhelmingly positive, can also be used to undermine democracy, freedom and equality.” For that reason “Canada, and many other nations, have enacted laws to limit forms of extreme hateful expression that have very minimal value in the free exchange of ideas, but do great harm to our fellow citizens.”
In fact, most ideas are neither “overwhelmingly positive” nor harmful – they are trivial. It’s not only “extreme hateful expression” that has “very minimal value.” Just turn on the TV, go to nearly any blog or Twitter.
Why then is freedom of expression so important? Because it is too dangerous to let people decide for others what they can say or hear – except in a few limited circumstances, where the harm is serious, and irreparable or imminent, such as, yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre.
Curtailing freedom of expression is no idle concern. For example, the reasoning behind the ruling that Reverend Stephen Boissoin’s letter to the editor violated Alberta’s human rights statute was abysmal, the penalty imposed on him absurd. Boissoin is banned, for life from expressing his sincere, religiously-founded opinion that homosexuality is evil. While I detest Boissoin’s opinions, giving a single human rights commissioner the power to shut you up forever because he or she thinks something you said is offensive or hateful is dangerously wrong. Boissoin’s views may have no social value, but what about the next visionary dissident with an unfashionable truth to tell?
The fact is that stifling people like Boissoin will not make their views go away; it will only force them underground instead, where they can fester, inspiring even worse down the road.
Lynch’s opinion that “the modern concept of rights is that of a matrix with different rights and freedoms mutually reinforcing each other to build a strong and durable human rights system,” invites us to think of freedom of expression as just another ingredient in an evolving recipe – a dash of equality here, a pinch of liberty there – for the perfect human rights concoction.
But freedom of speech is not just another human right. It has a pragmatic priority, because it is necessary for the realization of all other rights. Freedom is not more important than equality, but you will never have equality if you can’t speak freely. Think of Iran: women there will never have equal rights, if their demands for them can’t even be articulated.
Whatever good could possibly come of human rights commissions’ censorship is vastly outweighed by these harms and can, in any event, be achieved through other means. We don’t have to file human rights complaints to protest obnoxious speech. We can shun the source of it, demonstrate or protest, make calls, send e-mails, and so on.
Lynch’s remarks were disappointing in other ways. Here’s one that especially rankles. The Alberta legislature recently confirmed the provincial commission’s jurisdiction over offensive speech, but Lynch notes “not without a chorus of ‘boos’ from the far right.” The Chumir Foundation, other organizations and individuals presented carefully constructed arguments against Alberta’s hate speech provision. It is disrespectful to dismiss our reasoned objections as “boos” or to comment on the Alberta debate without adequate knowledge of it.
And to assume all Albertans are on the far right is to engage in the very stereotyping human rights commissions were set up to combat. We should demand better of our human rights commissioner.
Economic recovery for Alberta a year awayA Rough Patch: Alberta Economic Profile and ForecastBy Troy Media
Thursday, June 25, 2009
CALGARY – Alberta’s economy was hit by a rare combination of negative factors, but recovery is on the horizon, according to a new report from Canada West Foundation.
A Rough Patch: Alberta Economic Profile and Forecast, written by Senior Economist Jacques Marcil, says that while oil prices have begun to recover, lower employment, reduced investment and a still-struggling global economy mean that the news is more bad than good. According to Marcil, this downturn is an anomaly in Alberta’s history: the combination of low energy prices and global recession.
“Alberta is being hit harder than in previous recessions,” says Marcil. “In past economic slowdowns, either the energy industry kept Alberta growing while the national economy was struggling, or the energy industry took a hit while the national economy stayed the same. The one-two punch of global recession and plunging energy prices mean that Alberta will be hit worse than the rest of Canada this year.”
Economists currently predict that the United States, the largest market for the Alberta energy industry, will begin to recover in 2010. While it is not known how dynamic this recovery would be, if it does take place it will be an important first step towards economic recovery in Alberta.
“Many signs point to a rebound in energy prices, which will be of great benefit to Albertans,” says Marcil. “However, last year’s contraction, the first since 1986, came as a bit of a shock to them.”
Where will it stop?Nannny State and the New QuebecBy Beryl Wajsman
Friday, June 12, 2009
We have railed against the control state mentality of government for quite some time now. We have warned that the slippery slope of politically correct social engineering policies and politics is steep and swift in its descent into nothingness. Our use of the term nanny-state has become so ubiquitous that many said we were out of touch with the “new” Quebec.
Well, as troubling as Quebec’s latest foray into the état-nounou is, we are pleased that it has progressive francophone voices troubled too. This foray involves the oversight by state authority of the relationship between parent and child. Though, as always, it is clothed in the most altruistic of motives.
The Quebec government has introduced legislation making it an offence for a parent to smoke in a car if a child is in it. Obviously, smoking in front of an infant in a small enclosed space is not the most intelligent or responsible act. But herein lies the rub. How far is the state to be allowed to go? And more importantly, where will it stop?
As Le Devoir’s Denise Bombardier has pointed out the role of the state should be “pedagogical” not punitive when it involves private actions in private domains. If the state can regulate an issue like smoking, what is to stop it from sending say food inspectors to make sure meals are prepared without any trans-fats?
Health Minister Yves Bolduc’s logic is impeccable of course. He stated that though smoking is a free choice, second hand smoke – particularly to an infant – is not the child`s choice. True enough. But neither are the ingestion of trans-fats. Or to go even further, neither is the age at which a parent decides to teach their child to bike or skate. Should we have control regulation to prevent broken bones?
As Bombardier has pointed out, bad things in life will happen. It takes courage, and honesty, for elected officials to tell that to citizens. If they fail to do so, then we will fall victim to Benjamin Franklin’s warning of centuries ago that “Those who would trade permanent liberty for temporary security shall in the end have neither liberty nor security.”
Government must be a teacher not a nanny nor a brute. The state has a legitimate role – and may legitimately spend – to educate and persuade, but not to compel or coerce.
The state is there to serve individuals, not demonize them. We have progressed as human beings. When people see someone hurting or abusing a child – even a slap on the bottom in public – people react to protect the child. The power of what Bombardier called “reprobation sociale” is stronger than even the force of law. Our officials should get that.
The power of punitive law as a successful preventative measure is highly questionable. There is usually more push-back than acquiescence. Even the anti-smoking measures have now proved ineffective as the number of smokers has ceased to drop and in fact have risen in teens. Human nature eventually reacts against suffocating statist dictate.
In the case of parent and child it is even more important to remember that. And further, that if the Quebec Charter of Rights recognizes in section 7 the inviolability of private domain, how much more important is it to recognize the inviolability of relations between parent and child. We are not talking here of ignoring child abuse. That is another matter. But the sight of police officers pulling over cars and ticketing parents is something that should trouble us all. What personal behavior in personal domains shall be beyond the reach of the state? What price freedom? And more importantly, when will we understand that the state cannot solve all problems? We as individuals need to take responsibility for our lives and not assume that it is the state`s role to solve all problems and protect against all ills. It cannot do that. If this latest venture in nanny-statism is not just another tax-grab and Mr. Bolduc really believes this kind of intervention is acceptable and appropriate, we are all in for some Orwellian days ahead. Jeremy Bentham wrote at the start of the industrial revolution that “perfection is the enemy of the good.” M. Bolduc, are you listening?
GM – Will we ever get our money back?
General Motors aka Government Motors aka Obama Inc.
By Arthur Weinreb
Thursday, June 4, 2009
On Monday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced that their respective governments would be kicking in a few billion bucks for General Motors aka Government Motors aka Obama Inc. The federal government is providing $7.1 billion while the have-not province of Ontario is throwing in $3.5 billion. As a result of this largesse Canada will own 11.7% of GM and get one representative on GM’s board of directors along with Obama’s union buddies and other crony’s. Yippee!
The leaders of Canada and Ontario seem to differ on whether the “taxpayers” will ever see any return on their “investment”. Harper is skeptical, saying that he’s not counting on getting any money back when (it should be when or if) the equity shares are ultimately sold. McGuinty on the other hand thinks that GM will become profitable again and we, whoever “we” are, will recoup our investment. It’s not difficult to figure out which one is the optimistic liberal and the one who is at least a quasi conservative.
So which one of our fearless leaders is correct? Well, it’s no contest. When it comes to taxing and spending taxpayers’ money, Dalton McGuinty Jr. has a well deserved reputation as a liar. He made of one his famous “I won’t raise taxes” promises shortly before announcing that the province will be bringing in the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) in July 2010. That means that the few goods and all services that are currently exempted from provincial sales tax will see the sales tax rise from 5 to 13%. This will include such services as legal fees, veterinary bills, accountants fees, dental services, hydro and natural gas costs and a whole bunch of other items that will only be realized when the first bill begin to come in. It’s a giant tax increase that is being imposed during what is billed as the worst recession since the Great Depression. If GM turns out to be profitable, McGuinty will simply use the profits to add to his government’s prolific spending. Steve is right , and at least honest -we can’t count on getting any of the money back.
Dalton McGuinty is a tax and spend liberal and Stephen Harper is really not much better. Don Drummond, the chief economist with the TD bank was quoted in yesterday’s National Postas saying that, independent of the current recession, government spending has become “like an addiction”. So if the two levels of governments do receive a return from the equity that they hold in GM, they will simply spend it.
Right now both McGuinty and Harper are saying that they really do not want to own shares in GM; they are just doing it to save the economy and jobs yada yada yada. But once having gained ownership will they or any successive governments be willing to give such equity shares up? Will they end up like Barack Obama who says he does not want to run an automobile company while calling all of the shots? It boils down to power and the decision by a government to sell the equity that they now hold will be a lot more difficult than to acquire that equity in the first place. After all throwing money at a problem is second nature to politicians and bureaucrats. Giving up power is a lot more difficult.
If GM does become a lucrative venture as McGuinty seems to think it will, he and his ilk will be the first ones to take credit for the upturn. They will say that GM only became profitable because of the involvement of governments. There will be as much chance of taxpayers receiving anything good from this bailout as there is that the tax on income, imposed temporarily after World War I will be abolished.
Right now, the federal government is considering having an asset sale; selling off government entities to the private sector. And the opposition is whining and complaining about such proposed sales. The same thing will happen if the government ever attempts to sell their shares in GM and Chrysler.
The taxpayers of Canada and Ontario will be lucky if their governments don’t end up pumping more money into a failing GM in the future. No matter what happens, the ordinary hard working taxpaying citizens of Canada will never see a return on “their” investment.
Saskatchewan Housing Authority steps up campaign to drive elderly lay missionaries out of their homeJohn and Gay Caswell, Saskatchewan La Ronge Housing Authority, Our Lady of the North SchoolBy Judi McLeod
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Saskatchewan La Ronge Housing Authority’s intent to drive lay missionaries John and Gay Caswell out of their home of 11 years took a draconian turn for the worst today. As they worked in their garden, the Brabant Lake residents and founders of Our Lady of the North School, found a note left under a rock for them, which officially gives them “a couple of days notice” to clear out.
“Please be advised that Lot 2 Block 1 will be boarded up in the next couple of days. Please consider this our final notice to have you remove all of your possessions. Should you not comply with this advisement we will be sending a moving van to remove your possessions without further notice,” stated the notice.
“The signature, I believe, is that of Vaughn Skogstad,” Gay Caswell told Canada Free Press (CFP) on the telephone.
As the offices of the Housing Authority were still open at the time of Mrs. Caswell’s telephone call, CFP immediately called Skogstad’s office. “He is not here and will not be returning until Friday,” said an employee who said her name was Sherry. Sherry gave CFP the telephone number of an executive at the Authority’s Prince Albert office.
The executive did not respond to the message left by CFP on his voice mail by press time.
Skogstad has apparently gone off on another government course or with a case of diplomatic flu and will return on deadline day for the Caswells, should the Authority follow through on its threat to board up their home of 11 years “in the next couple of days”.
The letter left under the rock followed by one day SaskPower cutting off the couple’s electricity on Tuesday. The Caswells had been only been back in their home for a week when the power was cut.
After locking them out of their home and boarding up its windows in April, Housing Authority employees told the RCMP that the Caswells had made no effort to purchase their home and were behind in the rent, which the Caswells deny.
Supporters insist that the Caswells are being persecuted because they run a Catholic, pro-life school.
John and Gay Caswell founded the mission school, Our Lady of the North, in March of 1996. Since then they have been “teaching, catechizing, and spreading the faith.” They recently began an organization to fight for the pro-life cause in Northern Saskatchewan, called “North Star Pro-Life”.
“The goal is to wreck the school. This was stated very clearly at the September 17 Appeals hearing. The two people from La Ronge Housing emphatically said that we cannot have a school That is why they are after our house to stop and punish us. The hearing is recorded and the words were blatantly and bluntly stated,” said Mrs. Caswell, a former elected member of the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly.
The Caswells, parents of seven children, three of whom are in religious life in the United States, drove home through a snowstorm after a seven-hour trip for supplies on April 24. Upon their arrival home, they discovered their locks had been changed by SHC employees and there was an Eviction Notice stapled to the door. Since they needed to put their groceries away, John broke a window to get inside. Vaughn Skogstad, chairman of La Ronge Housing Authority and an officer of the South-end RCMP Detachment soon arrived to tell the couple that they had committed an unlawful entry to their house, and ordering them to leave the premises. The couple was taken to the police station, and were later released with no charges laid. They hitchhiked home and having no place else to go, camped out at their school, with no access to their food and clothing. They were told they had 15 days to get their possessions out of the house. When they next saw their home of 11 years, the windows had already been boarded up.
Mrs . Caswell says that today’s note “contradicts” what Roger Parenteau of Saskatchewan Housing Corporation said at a meeting on Monday, May 25. He said that until the money is in, (the $20,000 they are raising to purchase their home) the “status quo” would be maintained.
“We are depositing the money we have at the lawyer’s office. We are doing so electronically because we can’t afford any two-day trips to Prince Albert,” Mrs. Caswell explained.
She asked CFP to send this message to supporters: “If you intend to give, please call us or email us as to the amount. We know sometimes it takes up to to weeks to actually get the money in our mail or in the account. We only have mail delivery twice a week. That is okay. It eventually comes. We have lots of money promised and we know that people mean it.
“We have 36% of the promised amount at this hour. Don’t give up. Don’t think it is useless.”
One of the groups trying to help the Caswells is an American parish led by Brother Nathan, one of the three Caswell children serving in religious orders in the USA.
“We are having a book sale at our Parish. Brother Nathan is an amazing young man (he’s the one on the left in the photo of the three Caswell kids),” a parishioner wrote CFP. He (as are all the Society of St. John Cantius Seminarians) is expert at Gregorian Chant and they make Masses extra special!”
A whole new meaning to “school lockdown”
Toronto District School Board, Lunchtime Lockdown, fastfood, obesity
By Arthur Weinreb Thursday, May 21, 2009
God made the Idiot for practice. And then He made the School Board. - Mark Twain
The reality of the term “school lockdown” is a fairly recent phenomenon. It is a practice that is put in place to prevent students from leaving their school if there is some immediate threat of violence or a dangerous person who is thought to be in the vicinity.
Given the nature of today’s societies, these so-called institutions of learning cannot be faulted in their attempt to protect their young charges from harm. More often than not, these threats come from fellow students or other young people. What was unheard of a few years ago is now as common in big city schools as the fire drills of old.
But the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) wants to give a whole new meaning to the term “school lockdown”. Some board members are proposing that students in middle schools be “locked down” at lunchtime to protect the little dears from the dangers of walking to the mall, eating junk food for lunch and falling victim to the scourge of obesity. Lock them in and force them to eat food from the school cafeteria. Great idea – we all know how tasty institutional cafeteria food is. The kids will become healthier, health care costs will come down and everyone will be so happy. There is actually one middle school that has already implemented the practice of not letting students leave the school during lunch. Not only are these kids protected from blades and bullets; now they are kept away from deadly trans fats and calories.
In another time and place, those trustees who sat around and discussed an issue like this would have been charged with defrauding the taxpayers of their salaries. The idea of a lunchtime lockdown is so ridiculous that even a child can figure out how it will fail to accomplish what it sets out to do. Come to think of it, a lot of children have figured it out. Surprisingly even a couple of trustees have figured out why it won’t work. It will deter students from ever entertaining the possibility of going home for lunch. Those that crave junk food will simply go to the nearest burger or pizza joint when school lets out rather than for lunch. Instead of having a Big Mac and fries for lunch, they will have their fill after they have already eaten lunch when school lets out. There’s no maximum age that a kid has to be before he or she can outsmart a school trustee. And in an age of the Internet, video games and 500 TV channels, children don’t get a lot of exercise like kids got in the past. At least they get some exercise when they walk to and from their junk food palace of choice at lunch time.
If kids can’t be trusted to be out on their own for lunch, perhaps they shouldn’t be allowed to go home for dinner either. Their parents surely can’t be trusted to provide a nutritious dinner for them. Many students have parents who are not home at dinner time forcing them, that’s right, to get dinner on their own at the same places that the noble trustees are trying to prevent them from eating at during the day. Perhaps the solution is just to lock the children in their schools 24/7. Parents can take their kids to school in September and pick them up in June. After all the school board and the teachers’ unions can take care of the children a lot better than parents can. And this is really what it’s all about.
The proposal of the TDSB about lunchtime lockdowns has nothing to do with children. It’s about control and power. It’s about brainwashing children into thinking the same politically correct way that these trustees do. It’s about utter contempt for parents and the family unit. School kids are nothing more than pawns in the social experiments of a bunch of left wing school trustees.
It’s mindboggling to think what Mark Twain would say if he were alive today.
The year of the bailout pigBetween 2004 and 2008 alone, more than $750 million was sent to Canada's automotive sector
By Troy Media
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
According to the Chinese calendar, 2009 is the year of the ox.
But North Americans might be mistaken for thinking it’s actually the year of the pig, and not because of the swine flu; the four-legged pink animal is a more appropriate mascot, given how many companies and sectors have wiggled up to governments to ask for aid in this year alone.
The list is almost endless, ranging from the brazen --the U. S. porn industry when represented by Larry Flynt who was at least half-joking - to the reckless --major players in the U. S. financial sector - to the predictable - the automotive sector, which has sought taxpayer money in both good times and bad.
As to the automotive industry, it’s worth recalling the public dollars already sent to auto companies even before the financial meltdown. Their time at the public trough is not a recent phenomenon.
Between 2004 and 2008 alone, more than $750 million was sent to Canada’s automotive sector from the federal and Ontario governments in the form of grants or “repayable” contributions, the latter often being anything but. Chrysler received $123 million; Toyota-- profitable though it was until this year - received $125 million; General Motors took home $200 million, while Ford garnered $280 million. The rest was spread among more minor players.
Now in a recession, two of the Detroit three have asked for and received billions from both the U. S. and Canadian governments. Thus, Chrysler (with $3 billion from our own Canadian government this past week for a two per cent stake in the company) and General Motors serve as useful but expensive case studies in the folly of intervention by Washington, D. C., or Ottawa.
Dennis DesRosiers, an auto industry consultant who tracks the numbers, points out that automobile sales in March in Canada were down by 15% from the same month in 2008.
The declines ranged from a mild 3% drop in Quebec, to a dramatic 31.3% drop in both British Columbia and Alberta.
The March figures understate the magnitude of the decline. In the first quarter of 2009, automobile sales in Canada were down to 284,000 from 364,000 in the same quarter last year; that’s almost a 22% decline in year-to-date sales relative to 2008.
Which auto companies have suffered the most in sales declines, but in Canadian and the US? The former Big Three.
Total North American automobile sales reached a peak of 20.3 million in 2000, declining to just over 16.1 million last year. Forecasts for 2009 are for 12.7 million unit sales with a slight recovery next year, hitting 19.6 million in new automobiles sales in 2013.
The 2013 numbers are probably optimistic. What’s interesting is that the Detroit/Ontario Three are losing market share even faster than the general decline. This becomes evident from looking at the share of union-produced vehicles.
Desrosiers’ calculations reveal that in 1995, 79% of all new vehicle sales came from a factory with either the United Auto Workers (the U. S. automotive union) present or the Canadian Autoworkers Union (CAW) on the factory floor.
Ruby and the Slumdogs
Michael Ignatieff, True Patriot Love
By Charles Adler Thursday, May 7, 2009
The Big Dog of the Liberal party Michael Ignatieff, so visible in recent weeks, has fallen under the radar. He’s been as rarely seen as a Canada goose during a Manitoba January. I throw in these Canadianisms because Michael is educating himself on how best to impersonate a Canadian. They feed him my commentaries and while I am not a Harvard professor, I try to be instructive.
The Big Dog has been barking up a rhetorical story in the past few weeks, promoting his book called, “True Patriot Love,” (a real Canadian gave him that title) and he’s also been busy in recent weeks contesting an uncontested coronation of himself. Remember it was a contest and he only got 97 percent of the vote. While he has made himself exceptionally visible to virtually every media player in this country, except for me - and I wear his scorn as a badge of honour - this week Michael Ignatieff is nowhere to be seen or heard from. It’s not because there are many signs that the worst of the economic firestorm is behind us and he doesn’t want to rehash his boilerplate speech about how the Prime Minister is burning down the economy and Canadians are desperate to have the Liberal fire department come to the rescue. Michael Ignatieff isn’t invisible because of that.
He is making himself scarce because he doesn’t want to answer questions about a Liberal that he was very visibly slumming with last week. For the very few of you who were paying attention to the Liberal Convention in Vancouver, you couldn’t help but notice that Michael was sharing a lot of camera time with the exceptionally telegenic, Ruby Dhalla. The Member of Parliament for Brampton, which some think of as the capital of Ontario’s East Indian community. What does that have to do with anything? Because Ruby until recently saw herself as the Queen of that Community and more importantly, many who fund the Liberal Party and supported Michael Ignatieff’s efforts to become the King or the Big Dog, as I prefer to see him, also saw her in that light and some probably still do. Some want to be believe that whatever the Toronto Star has been saying about Ruby’s possible abuse of the law, of her nannies who were brought to Canada from Asia under interesting circumstances and underpaid and overworked and bullied and threatened and abused, well some of her fervent supporters will say this is media trash. But Michael Ignatieff is walking around egg shells and wants to be seen as little as possible, and heard as little as possible.
After all, Michael Ignatieff cannot clear his throat without mentioning the phrase: human rights. And he will be the first to tell you that he has always worked very diligently for human rights, and it is true that his younger brother has. Just as Michael Ignatieff will tell you how close he was to his mother, especially in her final years when she was fighting and losing to Alzheimer’s. He even wrote a book about it and it’s true that his brother was close to his mom and the story that was written in first person was actually not about Michael’s relationship with his mother. That’s a fiction and thankfully for Michael, the book was labeled as such, because the real beautiful relationship that did exist between mother and son was between Michael’s mother and Michael’s brother. And so by now you know that when a man indulges in a great deal of pretense, he has to be very careful about getting too close to someone who has been caught being pretentious.
As the critic for Multiculturalism, Ruby Dhalla has passionately toed the Liberal line, claiming that the Liberals care more than the Conservatives about immigrants, about women, about the rights of women, about the rights of working women and about the poor. And of course, this may be true about some Liberals versus some Conservatives. But is it true about Ruby? Is it possible that there ain’t much Mother Theresa in the Real Ruby, and that the Real Ruby is a lot closer to Marie Antoinette? Is it possible that Ruby is involved in a situation where she took the slumdogs and instead of treating them respectfully, she treated them shabbily? And, if she did behave like the Slumlord the media stories portray her to be, she becomes all of a sudden someone Michael Ignatieff will have a hard time slumming with.
Even though Michael Ignatieff is in his bunker, he gets the papers and here are just a few of the lines he read this morning about the allegations in what I call the Ruby and the Slumdogs story.
From today’s Globe and Mail:
The MP for Brampton-Springdale is glamorous, energetic and career-oriented. She’s also viewed by fellow caucus members as a “high maintenance” self-promoter, unwilling to do parliamentary drudgery, and demanding with her staff.
“I don’t get the sense that too many people are feeling all that sorry for her,” one MP said.
Two women have alleged that Ms. Dhalla and her family had hired them under the federal Live-in Caregiver program for foreign workers to care for the MP’s mother. They say they were paid $250 a week for 16-hour days of household chores – from shining shoes to shovelling snow – and cleaning the family’s chiropractic clinics.
One, Magdalene Gordo, 31, compared the job with slavery; the other, Richelyn Tongson, 37, said Ms. Dhalla withheld her passport for weeks.
In the Ontario Legislature, Labour Minister Peter Fonseca faced accusations that he protected a fellow Liberal when he took no action after he first learned about the allegations from the employees themselves, in a town hall meeting two weeks ago hosted by Education Minister Kathleen Wynne.
“Will you penalize Ruby Dhalla? Will you put Ruby Dhalla in jail?” New Democrat MPP Cheri DiNovo asked in the legislature.
“Ok, enough, enough…spare me more details,” Ignatieff must be saying to himself as he reads this. Only days earlier he was posing with her. And when he won that hotly contested leadership on Saturday, she was on stage with him, hoisting his hand in victory. And now, what may be the seamy side of Ruby Dhalla emerges. And she appears to be a capital C Liberal, but certainly not a person with a liberal heart, a liberal soul, a liberal attitude toward - and I’m going to borrow one of the left’s favourite expressions - the most vulnerable. The Ruby and the Slum Dog story clashes with the idea that the Liberal Party is the only one in this country that will deal fairly with immigrants, with working women and with - will everyone now say it with me - The Most Vulnerable.
How politically vulnerable is Michael Ignatieff and the Liberal Party? My hunch is they are very vulnerable. After all, it appears that Ruby Dhalla may have not only offended a lot of Canadians, she may have violated several laws. There were some in the last forty-eight hours who said she could face up to two years in jail for the things she is accused of and I am going to repeat, accused of doing. These allegations have not been proved in a court of law. Problem for Ruby is that Michael Ignatieff, her leader, is treating her like she has already been convicted. His unwillingness to speak about her, speaks volumes of how he feels about her. Now I have said in the past, on this show and elsewhere, that Michael Ignatieff has never been unwilling to abandon friends, relatives, jobs, universities, marriages, and of course countries. The man is a serial dilettante. And it’s true that he might have been better served on this file had he taken more seriously previous stories about her.
In the winter of last year, Ruby took a trip to India and the headline in the Toronto Star read:
Furor engulfs Brampton MP in child beating
It’s from January 10, 2008, a year and a half ago, and Michael Ignatieff would have been wise to read this.
A Brampton MP is caught up in an international furor after a young boy was beaten and arrested after he stole a purse from her aide.
Ruby Dhalla, in India on a two-week trip, was at an event on Monday in a northern village when the purse was snatched. Half an hour later, a boy, Sachin, 11, and his little sister Bindia, 9, were caught with the help of members of the public and Indian police travelling with Dhalla, police said.
The bag was returned, the two children were taken into custody and at least one was beaten. Images of the children were flashed across India and around the world.
“I was not there to witness this and I can tell you seeing this picture I did express my shock and horror and disbelief,” Dhalla said in a phone interview with the Toronto Star from her New Delhi hotel room last night.
“I don’t think any child should ever be treated in this manner by any individual and especially police, which are there to protect and ensure safety and security.”
An online broadcast by Times Now television described Dhalla’s first response to the incident as “shockingly callous.”
In an interview Dhalla was quoted as saying she “cannot control what the police do…and I hope that those young kids learn from this incident.”
Dhalla said last night that at the time she made that statement, she was unaware the children had been taken into custody or had been mistreated.
“I was hoping they would learn what they had done was wrong and that you can’t take something that was not yours,” she said.
She said she condemns the way the children were treated and encouraged senior police officials to investigate.
“Hopefully, they realize what they have done is wrong and I think in terms of the arrest there is a judiciary that is in place and the Punjab government did inform me that they have a process in how they deal with these types of cases.”
Manish Tiwari, a special correspondent with the Hindustan Times, said in a phone interview there are photos of the boy being dragged and beaten in full public view while his sister — her small hands clasped together— begged for mercy.
But once the images of the pair were made public by news outlets the Punjab State Human Rights Commission took notice, he said.
The commission has requested a formal explanation from the region’s senior superintendent of police by Feb. 13, he said.
Gurpreet Bhullar, senior police superintendent for the region, told the Star last night that, when the beating was brought to his attention, he immediately launched an investigation.
He said he expected results in 48 hours.
He said the children were charged with theft, examined by medical officers and handed over to a juvenile facility.
“I told (the police to) look into the matter and give me the details so we can take action if something was done,” he said by telephone.
Dhalla said she is looking into whether she can get a chance to meet with the children to discuss the theft and how they were treated.
We have no word on whether she ever did get to meet those children to discuss their lives. Perhaps some day she will allow me to interview her, and I will ask.
My guess is she will allow me to interview her on the same day those slum dogs she abandoned that day become millionaires, like the kids in the movie. I really liked that movie. So did a lot of other people. Slumdog Millionaire - I recommend it. I don’t know if anyone will ever make a movie called, Ruby and the Slumdogs. But if they do, I am sure Michael Ignatieff will not be giving it a very kind review.
Also See:
Been Caught Stealing
January 09, 2008
Mastervk posted a story on our news tab about two children in Punjab who were punished with a merciless (and illegal) beating; they had been accused of stealing a VIP’s purse.
Sachin is nine and his sister Bindia just five. But their tender age didn’t stop Punjab police from thrashing them mercilessly after they were caught allegedly stealing the purse of Canadian member of parliament Ruby Dhalla on a visit to Pohid village near here.
The kids begged and pleaded for mercy but the cops didn’t relent; they kept raining blows on them. The two were later bundled and taken into custody. The police action wasn’t just inhuman but a brazen violation of the law meant to deal with underage offenders. For, under Juvenile Justice Act, the kids should have been produced before a magistrate who, depending on the evidence against them, could have referred them to a juvenile home.
I hope the children are okay. I think the reaction of the police who were part of Dhalla’s entourage was excessive. If anyone deserves a thrashing, it’s these young people (who are Canadian, incidentally) instead. Part of me is concerned about whether little Sachin and Bindia even did what they are being trotted out and accused of, or if they’re just being scapegoated.
Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla, whose parents were born in the Punjab region, is on a two-week tour of India with other parliamentarians. Her purse was grabbed while she was touring the town of Pohir on Monday, but was retrieved by police a half-hour later.
Indian Express says that the purloined purse was pilfered from an NRI who was accompanying Dhalla, and not Dhalla herself. Initially, from the first few articles I read, the MP from Brampton—Springdale seemed tepid in her response to the abuse meted out on her behalf, but the same article which clarified whose bag was actually taken contained this quote:
“I think children make mistakes and they should be taught with love. They should be given love and respect. I will take a look at the whole matter,” she said, when asked if she would ask the police to withdraw the FIR that had been lodged against the kids in the case.
I hope she does. I also hope that I’m forgiven for not being able to get this song out of my head, from the moment I read this tip on…
“Reverse Reaganism” comes to OntarioProvincial government feels the need to control private enterprise
By Arthur Weinreb
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Under the watchful eye of Dalton McGuinty Jr., premier since 2003, the province of Ontario that was once the economic engine of Canada has gone from a “have” to a “have not” province. If that wasn’t enough, Ontario’s large manufacturing base was hit especially hard by the current economic recession. Now Dalton is not content to be premier; he wants to be its CEO.
At a luncheon meeting on Monday at the Canadian Club, Economic Development Minister Michael Bryant announced that the province will begin to invest directly in the province’s businesses. These investments, in the form of loans and grants will come from a $2 billion fund that Ontario will set up. According to the Minister the province will choose “winners and losers” and invest in those that they believe will be the former. Bryant referred to this program as “reverse Reaganism” where the government is not the problem but the solution to everything that ails us.
The next day the premier made a poor attempt at backtracking the Minister’s statement. McGuinty said that he was leery of picking winners. In other words, the province will invest in companies whether or not they appear that they could profit from government intervention. That’s more like the Dalton that we’ve come to know and love.
No doubt this idea stemmed from the fact that Dalton, along with his current best friend Steve in Ottawa are now the proud owners of 2 per cent of Chrysler and now he just can’t resist owning more and more businesses. Given the high level of integration in the North American automobile industry, taking a chunk of Chrysler was inevitable. Tasting ownership, the governing provincial Liberals just have to have more of it.
On the bright side, the Ontario Liberals, like their federal cousins, are devoid of policy and any type of political philosophy. They will do and say anything as long as they believe that it will lead to gaining or keeping power. It’s all about power. At least now, thanks to Michael Bryant, the party actually has a guiding philosophy albeit reverse Reaganism.
It’s understandable why the provincial government feels the need to control private enterprise. Barack Obama’s policies in the United States made the takeover of private business respectable. And why simply be the leader of a democracy when you can lead a totalitarian government that not only picks winners and losers but tells companies what to do and when to do it?
No doubt Dwight Duncan, Ontario’s Minister of Finance will have a crucial role to play in Ontario Inc and Dalton McGuinty should be grateful to have such a brilliant economic mind in his corner as he moves to run the private sector. When the list of civil servants making over $100,000 a year was released recently, Duncan pointed out that these large public sector salaries were good for the economy; the more money Ontario employees make, the more they have to spend and therefore stimulate the economy. With logic like that how can Ontario not regain its status as a “have” province when Dalton finally begins to take control?
McGuinty has already shown that he has a good grasp of the economy and economic issues. By planning to bring the blended sales tax in next year, recession or no recession, he’s shown pure genius. It doesn’t matter that taxpayers will have to pay 7 per cent more on some goods and all services than they do now even if the economy is still in the tank. The government needs the bucks in order to buy businesses run by those pathetic private owners and to pay civil servants enough to stimulate the economy through spending.
It looks like Dalton McGuinty will achieve his true legacy. He will be remembered as Ronald Reagan is now remembered. In reverse of course.
Dalton McGuinty wants to screw youOntario wants to grab more of your moneyBy Klaus Rohrich
Friday, March 13, 2009
Recently Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty was musing about the possibility of introducing the so-called Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), which some provinces have adopted under the guise of simplifying and harmonizing the complex federal and provincial tax regimes. His reasons for taking “a good look” at Ontario adopting the HST ostensibly was to “simplify” the remittance process and to “save businesses money”.
But to me, it seems much more likely that the real reason behind this “good look” is that provincial coffers would nab a huge windfall in additional taxes as many of the goods and services sold in Ontario today are taxed under the GST and not the current provincial sales tax.
For instance, if you purchase a new home that home ‘s purchase price is subject to the 5% GST. So if you buy a new home for, say $400,000, the builder is obligated to tack on an additional 5%, or $20,000 in GST. Under the HST the government of Ontario would be able to tack on its own 8% tax raising the cost of that home by another $32,000. But it isn’t just homes that would fall victim to this new tax, it is a wide range of other services that are currently only subject to the GST. Paying legal fees to a lawyer? The lawyer must charge 5% GST. With the HST, the lawyer will then be obligated to charge 13% in HST. Same with accountants, psychologists, architects, engineers, and a whole slew of other professionals that currently only charge the GST. If you happen to be suffering from depression and seek counseling form a psychologist, the usual fee is $125.00 plus GST, which works out to about $132,00. McGuinty’s HST will depress you even more, as the cost of treatment would now increase by an additional 8%, as Dalton would want his cut. Seeking help from a psychiatrist is out of the question, as most psychiatrists, who are medical doctors and are covered under the province’s health plan, no longer counsel patients, but assess and refer them to psychologists, which is much more lucrative. Newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations would increase the cost of their products and services by an additional 8%, as Dalton would want to claim his own piece of the pie under the new GST. A full Page ad in The Globe and Mail, which under some circumstances can cost in excess of $50,000 is subject to $2,500 in GST today. Under McGuinty’s scheme that same ad would have an additional $6,500 tacked on in HST. In his musings about this new HST, McGuinty claims it will save businesses somewhere on the order of $100 million per year, as they will no longer have to file duplicate returns. What McGuinty hasn’t talked about and one wonders why the so-called mainstream media hasn’t picked up on this either is how much it will cost the taxpayers of Ontario. The Greater Toronto Homebuilders’ Association has estimated that a new HST regime would increase the average price of a new home in the GTA by about $46,000! That’s a huge windfall for Dalton and the boys to buy more votes with, when you think that during a good year Toronto homebuilders pump out somewhere in the neighbourhood of 3,000 new homes. The GTA’s new home market alone would increase the province’s revenues by close to $140 million. When you extrapolate these added costs across the entire provincial economy, the additional revenue will be many billions of dollars. What do you suppose happens when you take this much cash out of an economy in the form of additional taxes? The end result will make the current recession look like economic boom times, as the burden of these new taxes would crush any hope for a recovery any time soon. It would further depress the new home market, as well commercial leasing and other businesses. Musings such as these demonstrate the degree to which the premier of Ontario is out of touch with the realities facing the citizens of the province. Using the specious rationale that the HST would save business $100 million in accounting costs is an act of kindness Ontarians really don’t need. It’s likely to totally screw the economy.
Canada's Military Exports Soar as Numbers go Unreported: CBC Investigation
CBC News, Canada
31 October 2007
Canada's military exports have more than tripled over the past seven years, a CBC News investigation has learned. Over the past seven years, Canada has exported $3.6 billion in military goods. Canada now exports more arms and military goods than it imports. The CBC analysis is based on customs data on exports specifically for military use, such as tanks, rocket launchers and munitions.
The surge in exports has made Canada the sixth-biggest supplier of military goods to the world, according to the most recent report by the U.S. Congressional Research Service. ... But the full extent of Canada's military exports is hard to track with precision, because for the past four years the federal government has not released annual reports providing detailed information to Parliament. ... The prolonged silence by Ottawa has now become an international embarrassment, said Ken Epps of Project Ploughshares, an arms control watchdog and peace group founded by the Canadian Council of Churches.
Epps cited a recent report by the Small Arms Survey, a Geneva-based monitoring group, which dropped Canada's transparency rating on arms controls to just above that of Iran. "Canada's rating is 11 on the scale out of 20 this year and the rating for Iran is 10.5," Epps said. "What does that say to you?" ... But the federal government couldn't release figures on military exports to Canada's biggest buyer, the United States, even if it wanted to. Ottawa doesn't track those sales. In fact, most military exports to the U.S. don't even need government permits because of a defence agreement signed by Ottawa and Washington in the 1940s.