Question of the day

Who do we think we are, putting, for more than eight years into limbo, the German judicial process that seeks to prosecute allegations of bribery and corruption involving the administration of former German chancellor Helmut Kohl? Schreiber faces no charges in Canada and neither does Mulroney. The only serious matter these two face in this country, is nebulous speculation and partisan interest from the Liberal Party and the Fifth Estate. Given that Schreiber charmed, offered a hypothetical bribe to a Bloc committee member yesterday, the former arms dealer seems not to show any regard for the serious charges that he faces in Germany.

Do we?

Supplementary: And since when did the Liberals start favouring the idea of Parliamentary supremacy over that of the courts?

Notes about the Schreiber Show

Karlheinz-Schreiber.jpg
Today, I was able to make the House of Commons committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics at Parliament. Here are my notes about what happened.

– Schreiber arrived in committee escorted by the RCMP. During the closing minutes of the committee he was flanked by four suited ear-pieced Mounties. Outside, on Parliament, police cruisers were on standby. Schreiber insisted that he be allowed to appear in committee in plain clothes instead of an orange prison, the police presence quickly reminded people about the serious allegations surrounding Schreiber.

– The last item during committee was a debate concerning whether or not Schreiber would be held in an Ottawa detention centre or in his private estate under house arrest in Ottawa. One Liberal committee member expressed that he wanted to ensure Mr. Schreiber got a good night sleep so that he’s able to testify. Prior to the committee, Schreiber was escorted to Parliament Hill by police in handcuffs.

– Main sticking point of the committee is Schreiber’s “inability” to testify because he hasn’t had access to his notes and that the German-Canadian businessman wouldn’t be able to recall specific details. One Conservative member complained that Schreiber was able to write an 80+ page affidavit and that Schreiber has had about 8 years to recall the details of his dealings with former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

– At first, Schreiber read from a hastily scribbled note that he struggled to read that he would not testify until given access to his notes which are located in Ottawa, Toronto and Switzerland. The last locale elicit laughter from those in attendance as it almost seemed like wishful thinking that Schreiber would be able to travel outside of Canadian (or German) jurisdiction to access his notes.

– Later, after being told to defer on answers from which he would need his notes, Schreiber eventually answered in the definitive to earlier questions on which he was unclear. This inconsistency seemed to wash over those in attendance as if they came to expect dodging from this star witness.

– I counted five CBC/SRC journalists in attendance and four of them were front-row-centre. The involvement of the state-funded broadcaster may come under more intense scrutiny when Dr. Johnston delivers his terms of reference. If Mulroney, who himself has called for a full inquiry, gets his way, the CBC – particularly the Fifth Estate – will be called before the inquiry to answer for what he has termed a vindicate character assassination campaign.

– Headlines, if any, will include the new information that Schreiber arranged $500,000 for Mulroney’s services, however, he only paid $300,000 because he was unsatisfied with Mulroney’s work.

– Every reporter that I’ve spoken to about this have a feeling that Harper’s office is not directly tied to the Mulroney-Schreiber affair and of course, implying such a connection is the strategy of the Liberal party. One reporter remarked that the meeting was the biggest press circus that he’s ever seen for a committee witness.

– With respect to the delaying tactics of Schreiber, both he and the Liberals can easily serve each other’s agenda. Schreiber seeks to delay extradition to Germany to face bribery charges, while the Liberals don’t mind stretching the process out over weeks and even months. The Liberal chair was quite accommodating to Schreiber’s dilemma of not being prepared to testify. Schreiber will continue to appear before committee meting out small portions of his story until the committee is satisfied with his testimony. Conservatives are receptive to full testimony by Schreiber, but want the man to get on with it and wrap up as soon as possible. The Liberals aim to tar Mulroney and the Conservative Party with the same brush as they have inquired into past donations to the PC Party by Schreiber. Elizabeth Thompson reports this morning that the Liberals were also recipients collecting $10,000 in donations from the former arms dealer. The Conservatives made an effect to insulate their party from Schreiber as they point out that he has not donated to the Conservative Party of Canada.

CBC jumps into the sandbox

You know that there’s something wrong with your line of thinking when you tread in territory where even the Canadian Federation of Students won’t go.

The radical left wing activists at the Ryerson Student Union (RSU) were to table a motion at the annual congress of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), which the CFS voted to not even consider. That, of course, won’t stop the RSU from their mission.

Consider this event, posted on the RSU website:

ACADEMIC BOYCOTT & ACADEMIC FREEDOM

A Ryerson Community Forum

Wednesday November 28th 2007 @ 6pm

Ted Rogers School of Management, Rm 1-067 (1st Floor) 575 Bay Street @ Dundas “Student-led university academic boycott movements were deployed trans-nationally in resistance to South African apartheid. Today, in response to a statement against academic boycotts, issued by President Sheldon Levy, the debate continues in the contemporary context about the Middle east.

This forum will explore the role of academic boycotts as a tool of resistance and their relationship to academic freedom.

The panel will include:
* Salim Valley South African anti-apartheid activist
* Alan Sears Ryerson Sociology Professor
* Stuart Murray Ryerson English Professor
* John Caruana Ryerson Philosophy Professor

Moderated by SUHANA MEHARCHAND Award-Winning CBC News Anchor

This is a historic debate, seating will be limited, come early.

This event is brought to you by: RSU & Ryerson University Presidents’ Office”

Name: Heather Kere, Vice-President of Education Phone Number: 416.979.5255 ext. 2318 Email Address: vp.education@rsuonline.ca

Let’s summarize:

  • According to the student representatives at Ryerson, Israel is an apartheid state, much like South Africa used to be.

    Heather Kere, vice-president education of the Ryerson Students’ Union, is calling on the Canadian Federation of Students – Canada’s largest student lobby group – to “research the feasibility of a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign” against the “Apartheid State” of Israel.

  • Given this, a discussion/debate will be had as to the effectiveness of academic boycotts as a tool against Israel.
  • The premise, according to this group, is clear: Israel is an “apartheid state”. The finer points of a solution are what is under consideration.
  • Suhana Meharchand, a CBC News Anchor is, in effect, validating the RSU’s premise by moderating a debate about academic boycott as a tool for “resistance”

Questions

  • Is CBC an impartial news organization when it comes to reporting on Middle-Eastern affairs? How it labels terrorism?
  • News anchors should not endorse political views (and Meharchand is by validating a debate based on a premise that is itself debatable (if not absurd), but is instead accepted as fact by the RSU and as the basis of subsequent debates, including this one!). News anchors aren’t even allowed to endorse toothpaste, why is Meharchand endorsing a debate involving these radical views?
  • Is there something wrong with the corporate and philosophical culture at CBC that this sort of thing is considered acceptable?
  • As a Canadian, you are a stakeholder of the CBC. Is this what you’ve come to expect from representatives of an organization that claims to represent you?

UPDATE: It’s worse. Not at all apparent from the event’s press release on the RSU website, is that the “debate” on academic boycott as a tool for “resistance” is co-sponsored by the Ryerson Faculty Association and the University itself. I fear that these groups, and the involvement of a reporter from CBC will add an air of legitimacy to a discussion which would be deemed indefensible outside of the loopy arena of student politics.

My friends in the Jewish community forwarded a particularly troubling account of “debate” on the campus at York University. From an article titled “Jewish York Students Flee From Mob” in the Jewish Tribune:

York University saw the worst antisemitic display ever on that campus last week, said Ben Feferman, senior campus coordinator for the Canadian region of Hasbara Fellowships, an Israel advocacy organization spearheaded by Aish Hatorah.

The Betar-supported Campus Coalition of Zionists (CCZ), together with Hasbarah, manned a table in Vari Hall, with permission from the university, with pamphlets and brochures about the danger emanating from Iran.

However, the situation became very difficult for the students who participated. They were vastly outnumbered by pro-Arab students who surrounded them, and eventually the pro-Israel activists fled. As they left, there was cheering by the pro-Arab mob.

According to Feferman, “I’ve never seen anything like this at York. We weren’t even discussing the issues anymore. It was pure Jew hatred. That’s what
it’s come to.”

In fact, Feferman noticed an acquaintance there and said hello, but received no acknowledgement.

She emailed him later that day to apologize, explaining that she didn’t want everyone to know she was Jewish. To Feferman, this episode is a red light.

“We know there’s a crisis when a student on campus is afraid to reveal she’s Jewish and feels unsafe,” he said.

The following day, Palestinian Media Watch’s Itamar Marcus addressed York students on the daily indoctrination of children living under the Palestinian Authority to hate Jews. “It was absolute chaos,” Hollander declared. “It was impossible to moderate. People would
ask loaded questions. Marcus wasn’t given an opportunity to respond. He refused to get into a screaming match. One girl, raised in Canada, said she herself would gladly become a suicide bomber and would have no qualms raising her daughter to be a shahid.”

A couple of weeks ago, when US-based anti-Israel professor of linguistics Noam Chomsky was scheduled to address York students via satellite, CCZ and Hasbarah joined forces to provide information about what Chomsky stands for. “We wanted to do a protest,”

Feferman said, “but the university administration wouldn’t allow it, saying they didn’t want a lot of noise and they were afraid that signs could be used as weapons.”

The RSU is free to publish their positions labeling Israel as an “apartheid state”, but we are also free to condemn their position. When the Faculty Association, the University and a CBC reporter get involved to foster debate on the issue, they are legitimizing the RSU’s indefensible position. By labeling Israel as an apartheid state, in effect, the RSU is arguing that Israel is illegitimate under international law.

Contrast this with the academic freedom afforded to those that defend Israel’s right to exist and the rights of activists that wish to educate people that anti-semitism is still a problem.

Wajid Khan out of caucus

Following this story in the Globe and Mail which broke a few hours ago, this press release just landed in my email inbox:

OTTAWA – Today, Member of Parliament Wajid Khan announced he is stepping aside from Conservative caucus. The decision was made following media reports that he may be charged under the Elections Act over matters dating back to the 2004 election, when he ran as a candidate for the Liberal Party.

“Although I have not yet been served with court documents, Given the circumstances, I am withdrawing from the Conservative caucus to sit as an independent MP. I have also offered the Prime Minister my resignation as his Special Advisor for Middle Eastern and South Asian Affairs.”

Wajid Khan MP
Mississauga Streetsville

Canadian Federation of Students wisely rejects Israel boycott

Yesterday, B’nai Brith emailed me their press release concerning a Ryerson Student Union motion to be tabled at the Annual congress of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). CFS is a student organization that collectively represents many student governments at Universities across Canada. Critics say that it is largely an incubator for NDP and radical left-wing activists. Here is the release:

TORONTO, November 20, 2007 � B’nai Brith Canada has voiced its strong opposition to an anti-Israel motion calling for “boycott, divestment and sanctions” that is expected to be introduced by Ryerson University students at tomorrow’s meeting of the Canadian Federation of Students.

“The very flawed notion that Israel is an apartheid state is an assault on history and truth,” said Frank Dimant, Executive Vice President of B’nai Brith Canada. “The fact that this motion is proceeding in the name of the Ryerson Students’ Union when it was neither put to a vote, nor backed by the student body, is a further affront to due process in order to advance a vehemently anti-Israel agenda.

“We urge the Federation to categorically reject this motion on the grounds that it lacks the most basic of democratic underpinnings and more importantly to signal that it will not allow its forum to be hijacked by those who seek to demonize and delegitimize the democratic State of Israel.”

-30-

Late last night, the Canadian Federation of Students voted to reject consideration of the motion. This comes as welcome news. The motion to reject consideration of the anti-Israel motion was endorsed by two-thirds of the voting plenary.

In September of this year, I wrote about the rejection of my Alma Mater of similarly absurd calls to boycott Israel proposed by the Britain’s University and College Union.

Not enough room for Garth in parade

It appears that there will only be one jolly bearded man in a suit spreading cheer to the little ones in this year’s Milton Santa Claus Parade. That is, there will only be one that was invited.

My hometown’s local newspaper (full disclosure: years ago I was once a paperboy for the outfit), had the following story about Halton MP Garth Turner and the latest controversy he’s involved in.

Controversial Halton MP Garth Turner is butting heads with the Milton Santa Claus Parade Committee after learning the only politician allowed in the festive event this year is Mayor Gord Krantz

One of the parade organizers, Mike Ricker, had the following to say:

“It’s got to the point where I want to quit the parade. I’ve volunteered 200 or 300 hours this year. To throw our credibility down the drain… He just wants to promote himself rather than the well-being of the whole parade.”

Turner, Halton’s controversial [Liberal] MP, was told that there’s not enough room for him, for PC MPP Ted Chudleigh or for Regional Chair Gary Carr. Garth’s planned crashing of Milton’s Santa Claus parade will ruin the credibility of parade organizers with the other politicians that they’ve turned down, according to Ricker.

Isn’t this supposed to be for the children?

UPDATE: Garth has sent out this press release:

Garth Turner , MP Constituent Help Centre
Parade Day Open House

For immediate release

Milton – The office staff of Hon. Garth Turner, P.C., MP for Halton will be serving up hot apple cider and holiday greetings from their constituency office along the Milton Santa Parade route.

“Many businesses and services along Main Street have an Open House tradition where they invite family and friends to drop by during the parade. My office, thinks this would be a great way to celebrate the launch of the holiday season.” said Turner.

Parade watchers young and old are invited to drop by Garth Turner’s Help Centre at 86 Main Street East from 2:00 to 3:00 pm on Sunday, November 25th to warm up with a cup of cider.

-30-

In and Out common to all parties say Conservatives

The Hill Times had a cover story today describing an affidavit that the Conservative Party filed in Federal Court one week ago today.

The affidavit details examples of so-called in and out election financing by other parties. The HT story included a quote from Tory MP Tom Lukiwski,

In the affidavit, we listed more than 100 individual candidates from all three parties that did the exact same thing that we did in terms of how they entered into an agreement with their national parties on a regional ad buy. So in effect, regardless of the motion of Ms. Redman, we will now be able to take a look at the affidavits that have been presented and I would be fully prepared to bring forward witnesses and all of these candidates from the various parties and have them come forward and have them explain how they entered into this agreement and ask the question that if all parties were doing the same thing why is it that only the Conservative Party was being singled out?

The motion of Ms. Redman, the Liberal whip, was tabled at the Procedure and House Affairs committee asked the committee to investigate “In and Out” financing during the last election. The Conservatives believe that their affidavit shows that all parties participated in the financing practice which allowed individual candidates, in some cases, to participate in regional ad buys.

In discussions with some Conservatives I have heard that there is generally held belief among officials in the party that Elections Canada has been biased in its withholding of $1.2 million of rebates from the Tories. The Conservatives ask rhetorically what the key difference is between their “in and out” financing versus that of the NDP and Liberals. Some Conservatives believe that it is because of party stripe.

I have obtained a copy of the “Donald Affidavit” which describes examples of “in and out” ad buying by other parties.

Donald Affidavit (PDF)

McKenna in Ottawa

Frank McKenna is in Ottawa today for an informal and intimate dinner at a small Centretown restaurant. He’ll be meeting with political staffers from all four parties, journalists, civil servants, lobbyists and intellectuals, all of which are Atlantic Canadians.

Given SES’s recent poll showing Dion’s Prime Ministerial potential at rock bottom, is McKenna in the first stages of testing the waters for a future bid at Liberal leadership?

The former New Brunswick Premier was smart to sit out for the last contest. But would McKenna steamroll Rae and Ignatieff in the next race?

Insiders say that McKenna would be a strong contender for the Liberal Party if he should ever become leader, however, it has also been said that the former Canadian ambassador to the US would rather be the clear favourite in such a race rather than getting down into the mud to slug it out with others that aspire to lead Trudeau’s party.

CBC and China

cbc-communists.jpgThe CBC has recently come under fire for rescheduling and retooling a Falun Gong documentary at the 11th hour. The state-funded broadcaster admitted to reacting to requests by the Chinese government to pull the doc and provide ‘balance’, however, anyone that watches CBC aired documentaries knows that, at previous times, this hasn’t concerned the execs on Front st.

Now, consider this recent news story concerning the popular children’s toy “Aqua Dots” published on the CBC website (byline is CBC)

7 more children fall ill after ingesting Aqua Dots beads

Last Updated: Friday, November 9, 2007 | 4:06 PM ET
CBC News

U.S. officials said Friday there are seven more reports of children falling ill after ingesting Aqua Dots toy beads containing a powerful chemical that metabolizes into a potent date-rape drug.

The children were treated in hospitals in Texas, Delaware, New Hampshire, Illinois and Utah after ingesting beads from Aqua Dots craft kits, said a spokeswoman with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. On Thursday, U.S. officials had confirmed two associated cases of children being hospitalized.

Toronto-based Spin Master has issued a recall of 4.2 million Aqua Dots toys in North America.Toronto-based Spin Master has issued a recall of 4.2 million Aqua Dots toys in North America.

Officials in North America and Australia pulled the toys, called Bindeez in Australia and Aqua Dots in North America, after testing showed the toys’ beads contained 1,4-butanediol, a potentially harmful chemical that can cause seizures, drowsiness, coma and death.

The packaging says the toy contains 1,5-pentanediol, a non-toxic chemical commonly used in glue, according to Australia’s Minister for Fair Trading.

In Australia, four children were hospitalized after ingesting beads from the Bindeez toys. No illnesses have been reported in Canada.

Toronto-based distributor Spin Master Ltd. has issued a North American recall of about 4.2 million Aqua Dots toys.
With files from the Associated Press

A critical piece of information is missing from this article. There is no mention of China being the source of these chemically infused children’s toys. Why?

It isn’t Australia, Bindeez, or Spin Master that has a history of defective and toxic products. There is, however, a history of this sort of thing happening in products originating in China.

(ie. pet food, toothpaste, lead in toys etc.)

In the news media, this is called “relevance”. I don’t know why this would be left out of the news story, especially since Canadian consumers need to make informed decisions about the products that they buy for their families.

Even though the CBC is funded by our government, it should never bow to the pressure of it or any other. The omission that I point out above may or may not have been actively made by the broadcaster and it may or may not be a function of institutional bias and culture at the CBC.

Consider this story that came to light last week from Gazette reporter Elizabeth Thompson,

OTTAWA — The RCMP spied on CBC and Radio Canada employees for years and was convinced at one point that communists had infiltrated the CBC in Montreal, according to secret documents that have just been released.

Moreover, it appears that senior CBC managers knew that the Mounties routinely investigated the political views of staff members such as Rene Levesque and kept such “adverse records” in personnel reports on file long after the employees had left the broadcaster.

In one heavily censored 1958 report marked “secret” and titled “CBC Montreal — Collaboration of Officials with Known Communists” the force says conclusively that there were communists working for the public broadcaster.

“If the present report serves no other purpose, it does establish beyond reasonable doubt the presence of Communists in the CBC and their active conspiracy to use its facilities for Communist purposes,” wrote the author, whose name was blacked out. “It would, therefore, give some measure of reassurance to the Minister that there is at least a proven intended threat to security on the part of such persons as (blacked out) and perhaps others as yet unknown to us.”

UPDATE 11/12: Lorne Gunter asks some tough questions about the CBC too.

UPDATE: A CBC employee registers their discontent and frustration at CBC censorship at China’s request.

Maybe the CBC has it online? No, the show “was pre-empted for a timely documentary about Pakistan and President Gen. Musharraf.” Nothing to do with the Chinese at all, you see. And nothing at all to do with our Olympic broadcast in 2008. Be sure to tune into Canada’s Own Network this summer!

Stonewalled again. And I still don’t have the information I need to make an informed decision about Falun Gong or the Chinese government, let alone a good blog post on the subject.

Hold on, am I allowed to blog about it? The answer is not clear. Isn’t my site blocked inside the CBC? To be safe, maybe I should check with the Politburo.

Er, I mean, my supervisor.