Tsunami Relief

The news every day gets worse and worse. The people of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Somalia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Maldives, Tanzania, Seychelles, and Bangladesh are in need of international aid and many are still in peril as disease threatens to claim as many lives as have already been taken. The people of these countries will be rebuilding for years.

Please consider donating to, and/or getting involved with, the following organizations to help provide relief to these tragically stricken nations.

UNICEF Canada online at www.unicef.ca, or 1-877-955-3111. Donations can also be mailed in to UNICEF Canada, 2200 Yonge St., Suite 1100, Toronto, Ont., M4S 2C6.

World Vision Canada online at www.worldvision.ca, or call 1-800-268-5528.

The Red Cross online at www.redcross.ca, or 1-800-418-1111 – the 24-hour toll free line accepts Visa and Mastercard. You can also mail a cheque made payable to the Canadian Red Cross, earmarked “South East Asia Earthquake and Tidal Wave Relief” to Canadian Red Cross National Office, 170 Metcalfe Street, Suite 300, Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 2P2. Donations of goods won’t be accepted.

The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (C.C.O.D.P.) online at www.devp.org, or 1-888-664-3387, or you can mail a cheque to Development and Peace, 5633 Sherbrooke St. East, Montreal, Que., H1N 1A3. The cheque should be marked “Tidal Wave Disaster.”

Oxfam Canada online at www.oxfam.ca or 1-800-466-9326.

Christian Children’s Fund of Canada Donations can be made at www.ccfcanada.ca following the link to “Devastating Earthquake and Tsunami Hit South Asia”. As well, donations can be marked as Earthquake and Tsunami Relief and sent by mail to: Christian Children’s Fund of Canada, 1027 McNicoll Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M1W 3X2. Donations will help provide emergency food, clothing, shelter, medical treatment and construction of housing.

ShareLife online at www.sharelife.org or by phone at (416) 934-3411 or toll-free at 1-800-263-2595.

From the department of irony

walmart-logo.gifOn sale now for $7.55 (you save $3.40) at Walmart:

How Walmart Is Destroying America And The World: And What You Can Do About It

Ha! I don’t know what’s funnier, Walmart selling an anti-Walmart book or alarmist leftist anti-corporate literature achieving its ends by selling at the world’s largest corporation… Walmart.

Whichever is funnier, one thing is for sure…
Advantage: Walmart

UPDATE: Looks like Walmart has removed the item. Funny while it lasted though.

CBC finally gets RSS feed

cbc-logo.jpgI don’t know the exact date that this happened but CBC.ca has finally joined up with the rest of the online and syndicated world and has started to offer its news in RSS format. All of the good stuff is there including Canadian, International and local news (including Toronto, Ottawa and even the North – you can now get news updates from Iqaluit as it happens)

RSS is syndicated content that is easily read by a news reader and thus notifies you whenever new content is posted… think of instant messaging meets news.

Ahem, this would be a good time to plug my own RSS feed.

I sent CBC news an email asking for the service back in the summer and received this reply:

Following your request, it is impossible to send you any RSS feed due to our strict policy. We understand your point, but we do not send it to particulars. We hope this will answer your questions

I guess that either enough people asked for it or enough of their staff were already receiving RSS content from the New York Times or CNN… which reminds me of a tour I took of the CBC newsroom a couple of years ago… I asked a staffer where CBC gets most of their news to which she replied, “We watch CNN a lot”

Paul Martin defends his vacation

Paul Martin is touring Northern Africa and meeting “a lot of leaders”… and… yes, is actually on Christmas vacation.

Yahoo News has more:

But his staff threw into doubt whether there would be more work than play during the tour. “We’re discussing a courtesy call with the king and prime minister of Morocco, but nothing is firm,” said Melanie Gruer, Martin’s deputy communications director.

She could not say what other leaders Martin was referring to, but said he would be doing a lot of reading of official documents.

Ha, sounds like a familiar excuse! Kinda like how some lawyers will mock a client at lunch and bill the account for the hour… or how some graduate students will take a day off for *ahem* “reading” (sleeping).

Have a Merry Christmas Mr. Prime Minister! Everybody deserves some time off. At least you vacation under the guise of work rather than under a cloak of secrecy as Jean Chrétien was known to do:

Jean Chretien’s staff jealously guarded Chretien’s holiday plans and never revealed them, though it was generally known he spent most of his winter vacations in Florida

Gaddafi and Martin: best buddies?

paul-martin-muammar-gaddafi.jpgPrime Minister Paul Martin was in Libya yesterday and met with its dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. Martin apparently hit it off with the man known for his role in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie Scotland as the dictator remarked, “On a personal level, we have gained a quite personal friendship. We are friends not just because he is the Prime Minister of Canada but we shall always be friends, even if he is not the Prime Minister”.

Touching.

Gaddafi even shared his vision for Canada: “Pretty soon I expect Canada to be a jamahiriya (a revolutionary socialist state of the masses led by a military dictatorship)”

Martin was in the Libyan desert for the tent summit to mark the one year anniversary of Libya’s renunciation of its weapons of mass destruction program. While this marks a good first step for the north African nation, Gaddafi still reigns over countless human rights abuses.

While Canada may have economic interests in the area, it is unfortunate that our Prime Minister is visiting with Gaddafi (given the human rights abuses and criminal past) rather than focusing his efforts elsewhere.

Belinda Stronach, the Conservative Party of Canada trade critic, questioned the focus of the Prime Minister’s priorities:

“the Prime Minister should have been spending a lot more time getting the basics of our national trade interests right first before spending several days with a known unpredictable and eccentric North African dictator … There is still no political strategy for investing political capital in our critical relationship with the United States, where the border is the Achilles heal of our prosperity. Why has the Prime Minster not toured the United States building the key and diverse political relationships so necessary to fight back the Byrd Amendment and try to prevent future Byrd Amendments at source? We need to retrieve the $4 billion in softwood lumber industry money confiscated in the United States, to open the border faster to the devastated livestock industry, which has lost $5 billion in the BSE crisis” — Belinda Stronach, Conservative Party of Canada

A particularly good question considering that I don’t remember the last time a Canadian Prime Minister has even gone on a ‘trade mission’ to our most significant trading partner, the United States.

The National Post has more details on the visit. Also, check out the Lybian news service’s account of the tent summit, it’s amusing. Quotes like “Paul Martin expressed during the meeting his country’s appreciation of the wisdom, vision and strategic analysis of the Leader and his initiatives and efforts in securing peace and stability in the world. He underlined that all of the Canadian political figures appreciate and respect the Leader’s vision, initiative and efforts at all levels.” (Sarcastic emphasis added by me) show the hallmarks of a military dictator’s grip on the media: narcissistic and editorialized news.

Beef, wood, ballistic missiles, and Quebeckers

Prime Minister Paul Martin is between a rock and a hard place. He sits as Prime Minister presiding over Canada’s first minority government in 25 years and is faced with one of those decisions he would have rather faced with a majority, a Jean Chrétien type of majority.

George W Bush, the newly re-minted US president is in legacy mode, yet clearly with lame-duck status as evident by his frustrations with his own party in passing key intelligence reforms through Congress. George Jr. returns to office with a renewed majority in the House and the Senate yet while the GOP’s concerns of Executive re-election have been satiated, Bush is alone in seeking a more favourable place in history.

Therefore, there will be intense pressure, from the U.S. President on Mr. Martin to sign up as a partner in the Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) plan. We’re told that beef is going through the U.S. bureaucracy, while softwood lumber remains unresolved. The lifetime of a minority government is measured in months instead of years and Paul Martin can ill-afford American red-tape when it comes to re-opening the border.

The two regions of the country which saw pithy Liberal fortunes during the last federal election were the West and Québec. The former is adamant about joining up with the U.S. on BMD while Québec is quite diametric on the topic. Evidential to this was the Paul Martin’s Québec Liberal caucus voted, to an over-whelming margin, against entering into such an agreement with our American allies. Even Stephen Harper has been spooked by the prospect of the regression of his efforts to gain a solid foothold for the Conservative Party of Canada in that province over this very divisive issue. Jack Layton, of course, is clearly against BMD, or “George Bush’s Star Wars” (as he’s found is easier to spoon-feed to his supporters).

Can Paul Martin use BMD as leverage with the Americans to expedite the re-opening of the border to Canadian cattle and perhaps initiate normalization of lumber exports? If he does, he’ll need to deliver and this will shut his party out of Québec for another election. Indeed, the objection to American BMD has been a plank of the Bloc platform for years. However, if he doesn’t play ball, he’ll further alienate the West and Canadians concerned about frigid relations with our largest trading partner and traditional ally.

How does Stephen Harper use this shaky Liberal decision to his advantage when he essentially has to declare his position on the same issue? Québec and the West while on the opposite ends of this issue, share one common concern and election strategy: greater power at the provincial level to have influence in matters of federalism which concern them. Stephen Harper could successfully play his decentralization card to his advantage by promising every province a seat at the negotiating table to outline the details and conditions of the bilateral agreement with the Americans. He also has the luxury of being for BMD at the same time while promising provincial input and direction. This could be the issue that splits the Liberals left and right and brings down Paul Martin’s minority government. Stephen Harper could capitalize on the essence of the Conservative argument for democratic reform and play it to his gain in the West and Québec.

Sorry Paul… the next election isn’t going to be based upon the ol’ stalwart Liberal red herring issue of healthcare. We’ll just see if Stephen and Jack can handle a wedge properly.