Day of action a success?

What have we learned today?

  • We’ve learned that 10 people and a school bus can disrupt rail traffic between Toronto and Montreal and between Kingston and Ottawa.
  • We’ve learned that the mere threat of blocking the 401 can get police to shut down sections of that route.
  • We’ve learned that $100 million worth of commerce travels the 401 daily.
  • We’ve learned that if there is a warrant out for your arrest, if you camp out at a quarry you are immune from arrest even if plan to shut down the most trafficked rail line in the country.
  • We’ve learned that both Oka and Ipperwash have spooked the provincial government and police force to such an extent that ongoing illegal actions are negotiated by authorities from a powerless position.
  • We’ve learned that if you have an issue and the government doesn’t listen, blockading the 401 and Toronto-Montreal rail line will allow you to receive wall-to-wall coverage in the media and the only consequence is being arrested for “mischief”. We’ve also learned that you can declare that you will continue to “push this button” any time that you need to get your point across.

If this behaviour by this handful of troublemakers is met with positive re-enforcement by the government via policy concessions and laughable charges, we will see more of this more often as we’ve learned that such behaviour has been effectively validated and condoned by provincial authorities. Unfortunately, the actions of this handful of protesters may taint the ‘Day of Action’ for natives in the rest of the country who wished to educate rather than disrupt. We may instead see the government dig in its heels to prevent the appearance of rewarding unruly behaviour. This is certainly not the objective of peaceful and non-disruptive activists.

If $100 million worth of commerce was disrupted, shouldn’t these protesters be liable for this amount? In other jurisdictions, the disruption of interstate commerce is a felony. Should we be considering real consequences instead of rewards for these sorts of disruptions?

Ministerial staffers back on Facebook

I’ve learned that in a reversal of internal government policy this past week, Conservative ministerial staffers are once again permitted to keep a Facebook profile on the popular social networking website.

Indeed, Facebook has become the latest killer online app and for some, it has replaced email for messaging friends and scheduling events and parties.

Earlier, I opined that the ‘corporate’ Facebook ban implemented by the Conservatives on their political staff was a shrewd move made to prevent a hungry media and opposition from exploiting personal material not intended for “front-page” exposure. A complete ban may have been harsh, yet the careless use of the site would have also been less than ideal. Thus, in policy refinement and compromise, the government has found a new optimum that works for everyone.

I’ve learned that each department has been tasked with implementing a policy on the use of Facebook for their staff, particularly concerning which privacy settings ought to be adjusted to both allow employees the use of the popular social networking tool and to allow a government known for its tight messaging to keep any loose ends from sticking out. The policy might be considered analogous to any other employee code of conduct, but this one is specialized for a website.

Ministerial facebookers will be pleased by the move and their employers will remain conscious of how to maintain the ideal balance.

Is Garth Turner stretching the truth?

Monday’s Hill Times features an article about Bruce Sutherland, the videographer for Conservative-turned-Independent-turned-Green-teaser-turned-Liberal MP Garth Turner. It’s an interesting piece that describes the work of the man behind the MPtv production that Turner features on his website.

However, the subtitle of the piece caught my attention:

Garth Turner says his webcast is downloaded by about 30,000 to 40,000 viewers every night.

30,000 to 40,000 viewers every night? That would be incredible, if true. Garth would start to rival some of George Stroumboulopoulos’ numbers for The Hour (and George is on the TV dial of every Canadian television).

Let’s take a closer look at Garth’s numbers (accurate at time of this post):
Garth’s latest videos:

Title Number of views
MPtv interviews Catherine Bell NDP MP on Bulk water exports 18 June 2007 6
MPtv interview with Derek Lee on National Security- 18 June 2007 22
MPtv Interviews Gary Merasty on funding Aboriginal Languages 15 June 2007 56
MPtv- interview with Ken Boshcoff discussing gas prices 13 June 2007 79
MPtv- Hon. Garth Turner poses a question during Question Period 12 June 2007 165
MPtv- Interviews Omar Alghabra Critic Citizenship/Immigration 13 June 2007 38
MPtv- Interview with Mark Holland Liberal Critic Natural Resources 11 June 2007 88
MPtv-Interview with Hon. Hedy Fry Critic Sport and Vancouver Olympics 11 June 07 104
MPtv – Stories about Parliament Hill-The Laurier Tower 11 June 2007 34
MPtv-interviews Glen Pearson MP from London North Center 8 June 2007 145
MPtv- Interview Nancy Karetak-Lindell MP for Nunavut 7 June 2007 92
MPtv Stories about Parliament Hill- Lester Pearson statue 4 June 2007 28
MPtv- Interview with Bill Casey Independent M.P. 6 June 2007 453
MPtv- Interview with Hon.Robert Thibault 6 May 2007 73
MPtv-Question Period- Hon. Garth Turner poses a question 5 June 2007 197
MPtv- Questions from the House Hon. 5 June 2007 57
MPtv -Interview with Hon. John McCallum Liberal Finance Critic 4 June 2007 142
MPtv- Interview-Paul Szabo on Bill C-251 Alcohol warning labels 30 May 2007 138
MPtv – Stories about Parliament Hill with Don Nixon 31 May 2007 24
MPtv Stories about Parliament hill- Cat Sanctuary 31 May 2007 182

These are the most current videos (the ones featured “above the fold” on Garth’s MPtv website).

Here are Garth’s top 10 videos by number of views:

Title Number of views
MPtv – Garth Turner’s address to residents in Halton – October 18, 2006 7,264
MPtv – Interview with Green Party of Canada Leader, Elizabeth May – October 17, 2006 3,170
MPtv – Income Trust Press Conference 29 January 2007 2,945
MPtv – Garth Turner joins Liberal caucus – February 6, 2007 2,593
MPtv – Question Period in the House of Commons of Canada – October 25, 2006 2,465
MPtv – Garth Turner reflects on his options after dismissal from the Conservative Party 1,865
MPtv – Freedom Of Speech In Canada – November 12, 2006 1,554
MPtv- Mike Duffy On Parlimentary Preparations 26 January 2007 1,549
MPtv – Garth Turner commentary before press conference – November 14, 2006 1,392
MPtv – Pierre Paquette discussion Quebec as a Nation- December 12, 2006 1,344

The numbers for the top 10 videos aren’t bad, but consider that Garth boasts 30,000-40,000 views of MPtv per night. The numbers above represent the number of views since the date included in the title. It is closer to the truth to say that Garth’s videos have been viewed 30,000 times (in total) rather than per day.

It seems that Garth’s typical video gets about 50-200 hits (total) while his top video received 7,264 views since October 18th, 2006. A far cry from 30,000 to 40,000 video views every night that Garth claims.

NOTE (6/20): Anyone who wishes to verify the numbers that I state above can click on the title links in the table to go to each movie hosted on Google Video. The “All time views” are listed in the right hand column of those pages. The numbers are accurate to the time of this post yesterday. All of Garth’s video are hosted on Google Video and he embeds the player on his site. Every view from the embeddable player on Garth’s website registers as a “view” on Google Video, since the player is hosted on Google’s site and plays the same Google-hosted video. Whether a Garth video is viewed on Google, on Garth’s site or my site via embeddable player, Google registers a “view” on the video’s homepage hosted on Google. I see that Garth has chosen to respond to this post in a way that attacks me as a person, rather than challenge my claims with any valid counter-argument. This is unfortunate.

Of course, I’ve written about Garth’s poor choices before:
I took the Garth Challenge
Garth the Grit

ABC News: Suicide bombers being sent to Canada

ABC News is reporting that a “graduation ceremony” for suicide bombers was held along the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan on June 9th. Some of the bombers are intended for striking within Canada.

Large teams of newly trained suicide bombers are being sent to the United States and Europe, according to evidence contained on a new videotape obtained by the Blotter on ABCNews.com.

Teams assigned to carry out attacks in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Germany were introduced at an al Qaeda/Taliban training camp graduation ceremony held June 9.

A Pakistani journalist was invited to attend and take pictures as some 300 recruits, including boys as young as 12, were supposedly sent off on their suicide missions.

abc_canadian_070618_ssh.jpg
ABCNews.com photo caption: “These recruits stand ready to target Canada.”

Of course, this may simply be a propaganda campaign by al Queda and the Taliban. It is not certain if the Taliban has the means to strike within Canada and individual suicide bombing has not been common in North America (I cannot think of one incident). Further, a suicide bomb strike within Canada would only strengthen the relatively shaky resolve that Canadians have in the Kandahar mission, an outcome that wouldn’t seem to be consistent with Taliban objectives. Of course, this quote from a Taliban commander indicates that their objective may simply be revenge:

“These Americans, Canadians, British and Germans come here to Afghanistan from faraway places,” Dadullah says on the tape. “Why shouldn’t we go after them?”

U.N. says “flick off” for Darfur

Climate change is responsible for the genocide in Darfur, we’ve recently learned. According to the Secretary General of the U.N., Ban Ki-moon, the Darfur genocide is due in part to anthropogenic global warming:

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the slaughter in Darfur was triggered by global climate change and that more such conflicts may be on the horizon, in an article published Saturday.

“The Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change,” Ban said in a Washington Post opinion column.

UN statistics showed that rainfall declined some 40 percent over the past two decades, he said, as a rise in Indian Ocean temperatures disrupted monsoons.

“This suggests that the drying of sub-Saharan Africa derives, to some degree, from man-made global warming,” the South Korean diplomat wrote.

Those poor Darfurians, the U.N. has brought the genocide into the realm of climate science. When global governments reverse the trend of planet-wide climate change with their bureaucratic wisdom and wide-spread policy changes, can Darfurians really rest assured that the killing will stop? Of course, most of us would prefer that the international community take more immediate action on factors that are more directly linked to the conflict.

Unfortunately the world has not taken any real action to stop the Darfurian genocide. Is the U.N. really appealing the popularity of climate change and Darfur as issues in order to guilt us to turn off those extra light bulbs? Since the time-frame for starting to reverse global warming is 2025-2050, is this about stopping the genocide or this about using the genocide as a poster campaign to affect global attitudes surrounding climate change?

The secretary general of the U.N. claims that anthropogenic climate change is responsible for Darfur. The U.N. should stop thinking up twisted graduate thesis topics and take immediate steps in encouraging and enabling the international community in ending the genocide.

The industrial revolution has been responsible for generating the tools of wealth creation, has been responsible for removing barriers for the movement of labour and capital and has created the conditions for globalized and freer trade among nations. In fact, industrialization has done much to spread philosophy and enlightened ideas around the world. Arguably, the world is richer because of our emission of greenhouse gases and if Darfur is suffering, it is not because we drive SUVs, it is because of ethnic hatred that has existed long before the Watt steam engine or the mechanized loom.

Bush coming to Canada

Dust off those bongos, young progressive agent of change! In a news release from the Prime Minister’s Office today it was announced that US President George W Bush is coming to Canada on August 20th/21st for a North American leaders summit.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced that Canada will host the North American Leaders´┐Ż Summit on August 20 and 21, 2007 in Montebello, Quebec.

“We share a continent with the United States and Mexico, and our people, our economies and our security are closely interconnected,” said the Prime Minister. “This summit provides an opportunity to discuss issues of shared concern with my Mexican and United States counterparts and to promote cooperation on measures that are central to the quality of life of Canadians and all peoples in North America.”

U.S. President George Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon will join the Prime Minister in Montebello, Quebec. The last meeting of the leaders of Canada, the United States and Mexico took place in Cancun, Mexico on March 31, 2006.

Within the context of the summit, the leaders will review progress in their ongoing cooperation under the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, which was established to foster collaboration for a more secure and more economically dynamic North America. In Cancun, the leaders identified five priority areas for special attention in the coming year: strengthening competitiveness in North America; North American Emergency Management; Avian and Pandemic Influenza; North American Energy Security; and North American Smart Secure Borders.

In other news, Canadian patchouli oil futures experienced heavy trading today.

Adjournment

Negotiations are currently underway, and barring some procedural snafu, the rumour is that we’ll see adjournment of the House either today or tomorrow. That’s the current word from the gossip-hounds on the Hill.

UPDATE: Peter van Loan, the government House leader has moved for emergency debate on two pieces of legislation. Yes, they’re pushing through to wrap up soon.

UPDATE (Friday afternoon): Alas, it’s not to be. Liberals and Conservatives (and journalists) are complaining that its the NDP that’s holding up the House. But good news, the latest consensus estimate is that the House will break after Monday with unanimous consent.

Dion, Stornoway and Laurier Club Liberals

Last night, members of the Liberal Party’s elite “Laurier Club” assembled at the residence of the Leader of the Official Opposition. The venue was the Stornoway mansion and the event was a garden party.

First, what is the Laurier Club?

The Laurier Club is a national organization made up of business executives, community leaders and those interested in sustaining the Liberal Party who also support the principles of parliamentary democracy and are interested in the public policy decisions affecting the lives of the citizens of Canada.

Individual membership contribution is $1000 and is in good standing for a period of twelve months starting on the sign up date. Membership does not include contributions made to local ridings, candidates, leadership and nomination contestants. Members can choose to make a one time gift or sign up for monthly contributions.

Laurier Club Members will:

* Receive invitations to Laurier Club functions with representatives of the Liberal Party of Canada;
* Attend Laurier Club functions in any region of the country;
* Attend any Party fundraising event at cost

Sounds like lots of fun for any Liberal, however, it was a Laurier Club event and to attend you must have been paid up to the Liberal Party of Canada to the tune of $1000 (if you’re under 30, you can get in for $500)

Stornoway is the property of the National Capital Commission (ie. the government). It’s not illegal to use government property in this way as a perk for top donors to a political party per se, but is it ethical?

The Prime Minister does not assemble top donors for parties or hold fundraisers for the Conservative Fund at 24 Sussex.

However, former Liberal leaders Bill Graham, Paul Martin and Jean Chretien have used Stornoway and 24 Sussex to fête top Liberal Party donors in the past.

dion-laurier.jpg

Harpers and Dions contrasted

In Chatelaine’s July magazine, the home lives of the Harpers and Krieber-Dions are both featured.

It is interesting to see the differences between the two families and what it those differences may mean to the much sought-after “ordinary” Canadian voter.

Of course, a key element of the Conservative message is family. Targeted tax relief for families that have kids in sports and a child-care tax credit are among the policies emphasized by the party to capture this key demographic. The Harpers are the First Family of Canada, and every time you check in with them, they become more and more like the family down the street (or even your own).

Conversely, the key message from the Dion camp has been the environment. The issue, with greenhouse gases, climate change, and radiative forcing seems a bit more abstract than the very tangential concept of family. The magazine even captures the extent to which no opportunity is lost to push the environmental message to the ordinary Canadian. Here’s Dion’s wife: Janine Krieber from the Chateleine article,

It was during these teenage years that Krieber took up acting, piano (she still plays) and painting. “With acrylics today – they’re environmentally friendly,” she quips.

The Conservatives will likely try and contrast the Harpers and Dions in the role of Canada’s first family and will portray the Harpers (genuinely) as traditional, nuclear and ordinary.

Consider this excerpt from the same issue:

“I’m happy with my life,” says Laureen of being Canada’s first wife … “but I don’t have the urge to see myself on the cover of a magazine. It’s just not my thing.” And she insists that she’s not the power behind the man. “That’s the story people want,” she says. “No, not true.”

Contrast this with the Dion article found a few pages over:

Dion may be the leader of the opposition, but Krieber is the CEO of Krieber-Dion Inc. She does the banking, writes the cheques, keeps the books, files the taxes and buys all of his clothes – even his underwear. … “He’s colour-blind. You don’t leave him in a house alone.” … It’s comments like this that have backroom Liberals shaking their heads. Says one, “Many suspect she controls him. She reads his briefing notes. He takes her advice and brings it back to staffers. She’s the one people need to go to in order to get to him. Who are people reporting to?” There’s even a suggestion circulating in Ottawa that Dion is saving a riding for his wife in the next election.

Ordinary seems to be the operating strategy of the Harpers; Ben and Rachel are the ordinary kids in hockey and gymnastics, Stephen and Laureen are such an ordinary couple that one or the other may forget an anniversary, similar to the story of any other ordinary Canadian couple. They’re just so darn ordinary those Harpers! Indeed, their ordinary nature has helped shirk their “scary/hidden agenda” characterization. However, accounts of Dion – such as the one above – simply plays into the Conservative narrative that “Stéphane Dion is not a leader”.

Mrs. Krieber is, to her credit, quite accomplished with complex sociological and academic views on terrorism and how it is driven by ideological radicals. However, with respect to “ordinary” Canadians, voters may find it more difficult to see themselves in the Dion-Kriebers than in the Harpers. Perhaps the last names of the two women are indicative as well to mainstream Canadian appeal. Mrs. Harper used to be Laureen Teskey before she famously stated “call me Mrs. Harper” after moving into 24 Sussex. However, Mrs. (Ms.?) Krieber remains Mrs. Krieber. Does the maiden name play with ordinary Canadians? The Harpers are banking that it doesn’t.

Conservatives will have a lot of success portraying Mr. and Mrs. Harper as the ordinary Canadian family. Mr. Harper is an ordinary guy, with ordinary hobbies (hockey) with ordinary kids and some ordinary cats. The party will likely be successful because, by definition, the “typical” person is “ordinary” and can therefore relate.

Can the Liberals make Dion an ordinary guy? Or is “ordinary” an inherent trait possessed by people like the Harpers (and a large number of Canadians).

UPDATE: Some people have expressed dismay that I would label the Harper family as more “ordinary” than the Dion-Kriebers. I do not attach these labels as a means of passing moral judgment on any familial arrangement, but rather note “ordinary” as the meaty part of a normal population distribution. This is a commentary on political strategy without endorsement (it is rather a deconstruction). In real terms, I do not consider the maiden name to be an issue for me personally (this was never a post about my own preferences), however, I merely note that it may have some effect on “ordinary” in an electoral sense since since a large proportion abandons the maiden name upon getting married. Also, when deeming a person as “ordinary”, this is by no means a compliment. Having a PhD for example would do much to disqualify somebody as “ordinary”. Such an accomplishment is rather “extraordinary” (ie. rare). The same praise could be given to a modern woman that keeps her maiden name. HOWEVER, in a statistical sense, women that keep their maiden names and anyone that has a PhD are somewhat extraordinary and ordinary people may not see much of themselves within these types of people. As I have noted above, it may indeed be the strategy of the Conservatives to portray Harper to be as ordinary as possible in order to appeal to the majority of the population that is “ordinary” (by statistical definition). This sort of analysis is nothing new in politics and the same argument has been applied to politicians from John Kerry to Andre Boisclair. Both men did not reside within the “ordinary” range in many respects and this was likely a detriment to their electoral success because they couldn’t connect (ie. voters may not have been able to relate). Again, this is not a commentary on whether or not the electorate is at fault for behaving this way, this is merely an observation and dispassionate analysis of strategy as it relates to demographics.

Here’s such a normal population distribution.

pop-dist.jpg

It can represent a variety of population characteristics that are normally distributed from IQ to marks of a particular English class to average weight in kg.

Since, as illustrated by the distribution, most people are in the ordinary range for a variety of traits that can be represented this way, Harper may do well to appeal to these people by being like them in as many ways as possible (and to find himself within the same range). In many ways, he already is. In other population distributions that are not normally distributed, it is arguably advantageous for Harper to find himself in the most heavily populated proportion of the distribution.

UPDATE: Due to the overwhelming opinion generated concerning this post (some supportive, a lot of it angry) I wanted to measure the opinion and determine what went wrong. Most people seem to still seem to be hung up on “ordinary” (ie. “how can you say I’m not ordinary, I feel pretty damn ordinary thank you very much”). Perhaps I will try one last time to explain: in a purely statistical sense, “John” is a more ordinary name than “Tim” because a larger proportion of the population is named John. It’s not to say that Tim isn’t “ordinary” per se, just that there are more Johns than Tims and thus Johns are more common/ordinary. Perhaps there should have been less emphasis on the dichotomy ordinary/not ordinary and more of a focus on degrees of more and less. And that’s as far as I can break that down. Harper is a more ordinary character than Dion because his traits are common to more of the population than Dion. Again, no moral judgment there… sometimes it’s advantageous to be less ordinary, sometimes it’s not. My thesis is that at some level people will elect leaders that reflect them. This thesis is actually supported by this political science research article.

Moving on…

I think that this post actually went south when I referenced maiden names and the propensity of a woman keeping them/losing them as a measure of more ordinary or less ordinary. Of course, this was meant to be a short reference to another example to support the overall thesis, but I’ve found that more people have become concerned by the issue than any other I’ve raised in this post. After I published this post, I ran it by a left-wing feminist friend of mine who works for the MSM (yes, they do exist) in Ottawa. While she disagreed with the thesis (see above), she did not find the post to be offensive to her in any way. In fact, she agreed that it was a dispassionate academic argument on a perfectly legitimate debate that has been going on in the “image” field of politics for quite some time. After hanging out with some of my other women friends tonight (all right-wing), I polled them. Half (2) thought that the writing was straight forward and well-explained, the other two thought that the post might be problematic. One explained that an issue such as retention of one’s maiden name after marriage is viewed as empowering to some women and that it’s generally a domain that men ought to tread lightly (if at all). Point taken and understood! So, I’d like to apologize to anyone that I’ve offended with respect to discussing the degree of “ordinary” in keeping one’s maiden name. I found myself out of my depth (and league!) In fact, I’ve learned a couple of facts including the fact that most women in Quebec keep their maiden name. I tried to weave the maiden name topic into my overall thesis but it fell flat. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have included it. From a few personal communications via email, I know that I have significantly offended a couple of people. My post was never meant to stir such emotion. For that I am so very sorry. For the record though, I should state that as a vocal promoter of other aspects of liberty, I fully support a woman’s choice with respect to choosing her last name in marriage.

CTV-Globemedia-CHUM

Today the CRTC announced that it has approved the purchase of CHUM by CTV Globemedia, however, it lopped off the five regional Citytv stations in the process. The troubled A-channel however was approved for acquisition by the growing media company. Critics say that the Broadcasting Act, written in 1991 is outdated and that the mutli-media world has changed significantly since that time. Further, it is said that the antiquated nature of the Act limited options for the CRTC in ruling on the acquisition. Here’s the release:

OTTAWA and GATINEAU, June 8 /CNW Telbec/ – The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today approved the transfer of effective control of CHUM Ltd. (CHUM) to CTVglobemedia Inc. (CTVgm). The CRTC did not approve the transfer of five Citytv stations in Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver to CTVgm, given that such transfer would be inconsistent with the Commission’s common ownership policy. That policy stipulates that a licensee may not operate more than one conventional television station in one language in a given market.
“The purpose of this policy is to maintain diversity of voices within the Canadian broadcasting system,” said Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC. “Some exceptions to the policy were granted in the past for failing stations in secondary markets. CTVgm asked for the exception using arguments based upon competitive equality and the impact of new media. However, the Commission was not convinced by CTVgm’s arguments.”
Approval of this transaction is conditional on the trustee responsible for the Citytv stations submitting to the Commission, within 30 days, an acceptable plan for the sale of the Citytv stations.
The Commission found, however, that the A-Channel group of television stations did fall into the established exception to the common ownership policy and approved their acquisition by CTVgm. As a consequence of this decision, CTVgm will be able to acquire seven television stations, 34 radio stations and, in whole or in part, 20 specialty television services. Today’s decision follows a public process that included a public hearing held by the Commission, which began on April 30th.

So, what does this mean for you? This will allow the company to change the way that it buys advertising meaning that purchased ads will appear across a wider variety of television stations. So, if you thought Canadian ads were repetitive enough get ready to watch the same Ford Fusion ad on a larger proportion of your TV dial. However, with a larger capability for advertising, the flagship network CTV will be able to purchase bigger and better shows (so the theory goes).

UPDATE: Rogers has picked up the Citytv stations.