Court strikes down signal-theft law

For those of us lucky enough to have the breadth of television programming that comes along with Canadian cable or satellite, a particular public service announcement from the Coalition Against Satellite Signal Theft may have flickered on our screens one or a hundred times. You may remember it: a boy steals a candy bar from a convenience store and when the boy’s father comes to discuss the situation with the boy and the authorities he asks “Where did you learn to steal?” and the boy replies “But dad, you steal satellite signals”.

According to a ruling by Quebec judge Danielle Coté, that little boy’s father was not stealing at all, and was rather fighting his own victimization by the satellite companies for violating his rights to free expression gained through the importation of foreign television signals.

The Satellite Coalition lamented that the case is not about expression but rather about programming rights.

The problem is that the system is antiquated and constructed in a way that favours the comfort of companies in spite of the reality of the medium. If CTV is upset that Canadians will tune into the West Wing on NBC rather than their channel, perhaps CTV needs to figure out a way to keep Canadians interested. Furthermore, satellite signal interception is not a one-way street; Americans can capture the CTV signal and watch it instead of the Peacock.

Simply, the law is one that comforts corporations at the expense of a consumer’s right to choice and a free market.

Furthermore, it’s not all about Martin Sheen pretending to be President. News sources from around the world (with varying opinions) are occluded from Canadian consumption (and evaluation) merely because they may conflict with the values (read: position) of those that make television and media policy in this country.

More Greatest Canadian Silliness

Matt Fletcher over at Living In A Society notes that the current standings for the CBC’s Greatest Canadian contest stands as follows:

1. Tommy Douglas
2. Terry Fox
3. Pierre Trudeau

The prominence of Tommy Douglas might have something to do with the following email which I received from the NDP (I’m on every party’s mailing list so that I can keep up with everyone’s silliness):

(my emphasis in bold, snide comments in italics)

Happy Birthday, Tommy!

Today (October 20, 2004) is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Tommy Clement Douglas. He was born in Falkirk, Scotland.

Tommy Douglas was Premier of Saskatchewan (1944-1961); the first federal leader of the New Democratic Party (1961-1971); and a Member of Parliament for the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (1935-1944) and the New Democratic Party (1962-1968, and 1968-1979).

His accomplishments well known by most Canadians, including being the father of Medicare. The Saskatchewan medicare program was actually launched by Douglas’ successor Woodrow Lloyd in 1962

This week, the CBC has started its contest to select “The Greatest Canadian” and Tommy Douglas has been nominated. The program and contest feature Douglas and nine other Canadians. Six weeks from now, one of them will be named “The Greatest Canadian.” The episode highlighting Tommy’s life, hosted by MuchMusic’s George Stroumboulopoulos aired on Monday, October 18th. It will be rebroadcast on CBC Newsworld at 7pm ET on October 23rd. The winner will be announced on Monday, November 29 at 8pm ET on the CBC.

That’s all good and good but what can we do to pay hommage to the one known as Tommy?

The CBC vote is a great opportunity for all New Democrats to mark the anniversary of the birth of Tommy Douglas. And to entrench social democratic values as the greatest “Canadian” values. It will also give Jack Layton something to talk about for about… forever.

> [Click here to] Vote for Tommy Douglas as “The Greatest Canadian” (link omitted)

NDP Launches “US Election Night Meet Ups” – November 2

Planning on watching the US election results on Tuesday, November 2? Why not watch with fellow New Democrats in your local area? Today, the NDP launched “US Election Night Meet Ups.” It’s a great opportunity to get together with like-minded Canadians and have some fun. (However hive-minded the NDP is, John Kerry does not espouse their views as they may think because the Massachusetts senator is against gay marriage, voted for the war in Iraq, and is against economic development in 3rd world nations)

Final word: I don’t mind being a symbol but I don’t want to become a monument. There are monuments all over the Parliament Buildings and I’ve seen what the pigeons do to them. — Tommy Douglas — Leader of Canada’s NDP 1961-1971

Everytime I get an email from the NDP, I get all teary eyed.

This whole contest is turning into an exercise in media manipulation (we got Don Cherry nominated after all) for the purpose of political bonus points. If you must vote for somebody based upon a policy program, either vote for Tommy Douglas because of the idea for socialized healthcare, vote for Pierre Trudeau for the National Energy Program, or vote for John A. MacDonald for this wonderful idea and confederation we call Canada.

Or please vote for Terry Fox, the most heroic Canadian example of excruciatingly painful altuistic sacrifice. If Terry Fox should win, it will be based upon his merit as the greatest Canadian that ever lived and he will accomplish this feat without any political party behind him shamelessly trying to score validation points.

UPDATE (Oct 29th): The NDP is still at it. I just got another email:

Tommy Needs Your Vote: The Greatest Canadian

Did you know that you can vote for Tommy as “The Greatest Canadian” after each and every episode? That’s right. You can vote for Tommy more than once – but you can only do so after each episode. They’re not going to quit are they? The show airs every Monday and Wednesday, (except Nov 1 st) at 8 pm local time on the main CBC network. The results will be aired on Monday, November 29.

> [Click here to] Vote for Tommy as “The Greatest Canadian” (link omitted)

Conservatives call press biased, also note that sky is blue and that water is wet

One of the fundamental freedoms in any democratic society is the freedom of the press to report facts and uncover the truth wherever it may be. The press should investigate unhindered and express newsworthy information to public. With this principal democratic right comes the critically non-pervertible responsibility to report in an unbiased and truthful manner free of influence.

Recently, however, the Conservatives are crying foul as a few journalists have been netted by the Liberal party to vocalize points of view rather than points of fact. The Globe and Mail’s Drew Fagan recently left his post as that paper’s Ottawa bureau chief to work for Foreign Affairs as a senior economic advisor. Most notable has been CBC Radio’s loss of Susan Murray who left to go spin for Scott Brison. The previous Liberal prime minister, Jean Chrétien appointed CTV reporter Jim Munson to the senate (Munson had worked for Chrétien for a mere 16 months before he got his golden ticket).

“Too many media people are right in bed with the Liberal government and that’s scary” — Conservative Party of Canada House Leader John Reynolds

Stephen Harper even joked about the situation at the annual Press Gallery Dinner when he expressed mock sympathy for journalists having to endure a 35 day interview period before being hired on by the Liberal government.

Don Martin, columnist for the National Post, has suggested a cooling-off period for the government to hire journalists. He proposes a one year period after an election. Further, Martin writes, no national affairs journalists shall be entitled to receive the Order of Canada, a Senate appointment or a patronage assignment until they are no longer employed by the news media. Sounds like common sense.

A cat always lands on its feet

Along the same lines of the paradox that asks: “if you strapped a piece of buttered toast, face-up, on the back of a cat and tossed it into the air, which holds true: A cat lands on its feet or a piece of buttered toast always lands face-down?”

I don’t know if the following video is more cool or cruel (but I’m sure the cat got over it). It comes from the American Air Force Academy’s training on the KC-135A Reduced Gravity Research Program which flies an empty passenger jet (affectionately called the “Vomit Comet”) in a parabolic arc at the appropriate speed over the appropriate amount of time to simulate weightlessness within the Earth’s atmosphere. Researchers suspend a cat in the weightless environment while it tries to figure out which way is up.

Cat in 0G (Quicktime)

Queen’s Blogger Meetup – Post-game analysis

Homecoming weekend was a success. I met up with some old friends, introduced new grad school friends to some Queen’s traditions and met up with a few fellow bloggers.

It turned out that Alfie’s was in fact closed and Clark Hall Pub was open (contrary to the homecoming weekend schedule posted in the Journal) so after the initial meet-up inside the JDUC, we decided to move the fun to the QP where beer and good times were had by all. Al McLeod of Gen X at 40 joined the fun for a short while before going out for a night on the town with his better half (hopefully he caught the latter half of the BoSox game). John Hamilton, Matt Fletcher and the elusive “Blackhole” from View From In Here and myself talked about everything from AMS politics to, well, federal politics to our blog war stories and l’affair Kinsella.

The party then spilled out onto Aberdeen where we joined about 3000 Queen’s students, past and present, for the greatest Kingston block party of the year. I believe that the police presence didn’t dampen the party too much; however, it was the first year that I saw an alumnus (a 40 year old alumnus) in handcuffs and under arrest. I’m sure that even he would agree that the party was a mad success and that we’ll see everyone back on Aberdeen next year.

Cha Gheill!

Homecoming weekend 2004 002.jpg

(L-R) “Blackhole”, Stephen Taylor, Matt Fletcher, John Hamilton at the QP

Queen’s University Blogger Meetup

aberdeen-street-party-homecoming-queens.jpgNow is the time when we party

That’s right! It’s homecoming weekend… where alums, old and new, mix it up with the crazy kids at Crazy Go Nuts University for a weekend of football, pancake keggers and memories new, recalled and fuzzy.

We also thought that this would be a perfect opportunity for Queen’s past, present (and future) bloggers to meetup. The festivities kickoff at Alfie’s (formally the Underground for you older kids) at 6:30pm on Saturday and will probably spill into Aberdeen as the night progresses.

Join Joey (Accordion Guy) DeVilla, Matt Fletcher, John Hamilton and I and others at Queen’s this weekend for this 1st annual (yeah, 1st annual) Queen’s blogger meetup.

Every blogger currently at Queen’s, that has graduated from Queen’s or any Queen’s student/alum that plans to start blogging is welcome to join us for cheers, beers and an oil thigh this weekend.

Cha Gheill!

Give my cell a call if you’re lost this weekend: 540-2001

Talk about the issues? Let’s play politics instead

“All Canadian provinces are obviously distinct from one another. But with its difference in language, Quebec is different in a fundamental way which requires specific attention … Other multilingual democracies, like Switzerland and Belgium, have these kinds of arrangements. They give the minority language community the ability to feel secure and to make a more positive contribution to the country” — Liberal environment minister St├ęphane Dion, 1996 (then the Liberal intergovernmental affairs minister)

Prime Minister Paul Martin mocked Conservative Party of Canada leader Stephen Harper in the House of Commons for lacking a “made-in-Canada” solution and wanting “to do it with the both of them (the Bloc and the ADQ) in a bed and breakfast in Brussels”.

Instead of “kick-start[ing] some national discussion” on the topic, looks like we’ll stick to partisan hackery.

Then again, perhaps Harper is guilty too of playing politics with the Liberals by drawing them out with veiled Liberal quotes and by hitting them back before the news cycle comes full circle.

Or has Stephen Harper learned that Canadian politics is all about Quebec?

Canadian unity crisis averted

Anglophone lawyer, Jennifer Myers got out of a traffic ticket on Monday because the “No Left Turn” sign that she neglected, and for which she subsequently received a ticket, wasn’t in French.

By the way, the traffic violation was in the city of Toronto and Myers doesn’t speak a word of French.

It’s good to see that these laws of language equality are now being applied and exploited equally by all Canadians, regardless of their linguistic background.

Warren Kinsella takes on the blogosphere

Warren Kinsella, former aide to Jean Chrétien and fellow blogger, has threatened members of our own community of bloggers with legal action for what he calls ‘libelous’ comments.

“The fact that I did so (posted a picture of a little boy saluting his deceased submariner father) offended rightist bloggers, however. That’s okay, I guess. Those kinds of guys – and they’re mostly white, angry and aroused by Mark Steyn’s web site – get offended by all sorts of things. But when one of them wrote that I was actually responsible for the death of that child’s father, that wasn’t okay. I demanded that he take down his post. He wouldn’t. I told him I would sue, and the post disappeared. Thereafter, he posted a veritable avalanche of hate. That was a big mistake.” — Warren Kinsella

Simmer down now Warren. You’re obviously not responsible for the death of this boy’s father, and honestly, the only people who might believe that you might be may be Jack Layton (Paul Martin killed homeless people after all), and some members of the association of amateur armchair advocates for asinine attributions (and atrocious alliterations). Now really, you feel that your reputation has been sullied by these brutes and you feel that you need to collect on damages to your reputation caused by this incident? Honestly, I know garbage when I read it and I don’t believe that any significant number of people are really going to become anti-Warren after this incident.

I’m actually surprised by, what some may call (not me, after all — please don’t sue me) hypocrisy concerning your eruption over your latest scraped elbow. Aren’t you the Warren Kinsella who giggled himself pink with a Barney the Dinosaur toy on Canada AM to illustrate your personal opinion that Stockwell Day’s personal religious beliefs are dillusional? Isn’t that you mugging for the camera wearing a t-shirt labeling U.S. President George W. Bush an international terrorist?

However, you may have done more do damage your reputation by taking on your blogger colleagues than any falsehood on some political hack’s website.

Those that live in glass houses…