This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Brutally Unsavoury

It never ceases to amaze that Canada seems to have become an immigration magnet for people whose presence in Canada will never be a benefit to this country, but do become both an embarrassment and a threat by their very presence. To begin with, Canada has a well-founded reputation as an easy country to access for immigration. And there are huge numbers of migrating peoples in the world.

Perfectly legitimate candidates for emigration from diverse countries of the world who feel that other countries than their own may offer their families better living conditions; others who are eager to escape living conditions that are inimical to their well being, where they are persecuted on the basis of their ethnicity or religion. And those who live with the misery of migrant refugees, fleeing wars or natural disasters.

It's the left-over category comprised of several groups; those who no longer wish to live in repressive countries of the world, seeking opportunity and freedom for their families, but bringing with them the pathological resentment and suspicion and hatred of others that form the backbone of their social heritage, and whose importation of enmity harms Canada.

And finally, those fleeing their countries of origin because they are war criminals. Generally people involved in support of a dictatorial regime or an autocratic government that has been proven to be a human-rights violator and continues to be just that, or a deposed government which has brutally suppressed its peoples' human rights and engaged in a civil war or one of brutal repression.

Canada issues visas to people on the basis of their backgrounds, their presumed suitability to conform to and accept Canadian values, and the assurance that they have never been involved in either a civil criminal act, or associated with governments and their agencies which are known to be human rights violators. Yet people know when to withhold critical information that will exclude them.

And Canada has, in the past, welcomed within its borders former WWII fascists involved in the murder of countless civilians, and only many decades later discovered proof of denied involvement. Rwandans who have been proven to having engaged in genocidal tribal warfare, Somalians who have been in the forefront of tribal and clan population eradication. And figures responsible for countless deaths in places like Cambodia.

When it is discovered through later revelations and following confirming investigations that those who have committed crimes against humanity have entered the country through falsely stating their bona fides, steps are taken to remove them. There are instances where, in the case of a Lebanese-born Canadian, France has asked for his extradition on suspicion of bombing the Rue Copernic synagogue.

There have been other expulsions and extraditions from Canada for those apprehended as being suspected, with security evidence to secure suspicions, of being involved in international terrorist groups such as Islamist jihadists affiliated with al-Qaeda. People born in the Middle East or in the African Maghreb who have infiltrated Canadian society for the purpose of causing harm, have been an especial problem.

And latterly, a 50-year-old lawyer originally from Kinshasa who claimed refugee status in Canada has been deported by the Canada Border Services Agency under this country's War Crimes Program. Canada deported 23 war criminals in the year 2007-2008 alone and another 211 are awaiting deportation, with a further 170 suspected or known war criminals on outstanding warrants

This most current deportation order links Ambroise Mapangu Ishaku as a former ranking member of Congo's Mouvement de Liberation du Congo, involved in a horrible civil war targeting innocent civilians, raping women and children; murdering, looting and torturing. The Immigration Refugee Board cites that 40% of the armed wing of the this group was comprised of children forced into service as fighters and prostitutes.
"These children were subjected to unimaginable horrors, forced to fight and often kill their own families, forced to engage in cannibalism, raped and used as sex slaves."
In his defence, Mr. Ishaku portrayed this period in his country's history as reflective of the normal consequences of war. And he caught up as a patriot fighting for his country. Which is precisely what most people caught in the web of their own lies to cover their involvement in indescribable acts of barbarity against others explain themselves.

Adequate reason for Canada to become far more diligent in rooting out their presence, and to invest more heavily in processes that would deny them entry to this country to begin with.

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Meant To Benefit Canadians

Let's hear that again? Canada a potential destination for medical-tourism? That's a stretch, isn't it? Universal medicare and hospitalization within Canada is already stretched to its outer limits. And Canada is not in the business, like countries whose economies are struggling, in the business of making a reputation, let alone money, off the avails of surgical-medical expertise, therapies and state-of-the-art, precision equipment.

Canada has long waiting lists for certain surgical procedures. There is a shortage of medical experts in some quite particular disciplines. There exists, relative to other wealthy and developed countries of the world, a relative paucity of expensive diagnostic and surgical equipment. All complicated by the inexorability of a steadily aging population, requiring more hospital admissions and critical care.

But then, there are some that present the situation and the possibility that Canada might indeed open up to a different kind of medical-surgical treatment offered to foreigners suffering from unfortunate medical conditions. Apart from the occasional temporary visas issued to young children urgently requiring life-saving surgery or organ transplants from undeveloped countries through pure charity.

There are those who contend that simply because Canada is so relatively well endowed with the expertise of surgeons who have mastered new life-saving techniques in organ transplantation and surgical advances, that there is an obligation to share with others less fortunate than Canadians who may take advantage of such opportunities.

It's an argument that fails somewhat to convince, since in all instances, save for charity being extended to poor sufferers from abroad, non-Canadians seeking advanced medical-surgical treatment in Canada must pay their own way, and that way tends to be exceedingly expensive. Medical tourists going to countries like India and China experience a good level of satisfaction with their outcomes.

But costs associated with travelling there and other countries offering superior medical treatment in facilities not normally offered to their own populations, are relatively cost-effective to the medical tourist. It has become an industry, one that the travel and tourism industry itself has become lucratively associated with.

There are currently up to fifty countries of the world involved in offering medical tourism, where people may with relative ease, as long as they can pay the freight, receive joint replacement, cardiac surgery, dental and cosmetic surgeries, and surgeries that haven't been approved in their own countries like the MS 'liberation' procedure.

People willing to travel outside their own countries at a special rate tied up with surgical procedures must consider that the regulations and professional medical-school training may not equal the standards demanded in their countries of origin. That follow-up treatment and the drug protocol may prove to be problematical on their return home.

In Toronto the University Health Network representing multi-organ transplants appears to feel that since the medical professions' ultimate role is life-saving, it hardly matters whose lives are being saved, and the option to seek life-saving treatment should transcend borders. Doctors and patients from diverse places on the Globe make contact with the Toronto General for transplants, with patients bringing with them living donors.

But Canada's hospitals, its doctors, its medical-teaching universities are taxpayer-subsidized. There is a universal insurance plan for all Canadians paid out of general tax funds transferred to the provinces by the federal government, and individual provinces exact additional fees from families by way of an added tax in support of universal medicare.

Institutions and the benefits that flow from them are meant for the well-being of Canadians, acknowledging the odd exception for humanitarian purposes.

Even if a foreign patient is prepared to pay the entire cost of travel, the medical-surgical procedure and the follow up requirements, expert time and attention is taken away from Canadians, and operating rooms and hospital beds - already in short supply - are used for foreign, non-tax-paying individuals.

In the end, were this to be ome common practise in Canada, there is nothing particularly humanitarian about offering services to people from abroad. In essence, the services would be offered only to those who have the financial wherewithal.

It might benefit the health professionals by giving them more experience and enabling procedures to be streamlined, but this would occur under normal circumstances as procedures become more widely available.

Canada has, like most other countries, a problem acquiring enough donor organs to service the long waiting list of Canadians awaiting life-saving transplant operations. It makes little practical sense to complicate the issue even further by extending to non-Canadians the opportunity to travel on a visitor's visa for the purpose of acquiring surgery.

The issue is, if not a rare commodity, then at least one that is sufficiently difficult to obtain that its acquisition should be available to a narrow spectrum of beneficiaries; those who are citizens of the country, and who have paid their taxes in support of a universal education and medical care system meant to benefit Canadians.

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Africa's Rainbow Nation

Nobility of spirit is a rare commodity so that when it modestly exhibits its presence it takes people aback, they sit up, they take notice, they applaud. The team of Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu transformed the spirit of South Africa. Of course they had a little help from their friends, countries like Canada which undertook to exert diplomatic and trade embargo pressure on the Apartheid government.

And South Africa was also indebted to its neighbours, like Zimbabweans, Mozambicans and Angolans who kindly gave shelter to black South Africans fleeing the violence of their country during the paroxysms that finally led to the surrender of the country by the ruling white Afrikaans back to the rightful owners, black South Africans. At which juncture Mr. Mandela was finally freed from prison and governed his country offering equal rights to all.

And Bishop Tutu presided at the spectacle that became a healing circle called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where victims gave witness to the unspeakable and the suffering, and violators confessed their sins and all was forgiven. And the country settled in to become other than what it had been, with an honoured place for all and promises of housing and jobs.

A noble dream to be sure. What happened next was a slow, agonized climb in the resolute determination to become a fair and free society, but it was fairer and freer for some, not all, and endemic poverty was scarcely relieved, and decent living conditions still eluded in the slums. And tribal antipathies proved as resistant to enlightened thought as the moneyed-class system.

Where wealth could be achieved, but it had to be lived behind barbed wire and stone walls, sheltered from the crass thievery of the mobs who would take advantage if they could, of the riches known to reside there, protected by armed marksmen. So it is not they who are targeted, but the easier prey, the poor, murdered, their scant belongings looted, children violated.

One of the most crime-ridden, violent societies on Earth now; most unfortunate. And what is particularly notable is the resurrection of ancient primitive tribal and clan hunts. Where South Africans armed with chains, spears, whips, axes, cudgels, shovels, metal sticks; just about anything serviceable to the purpose, set out to hunt down defenceless refugees.

People who have fled the dangers in their own countries, from Mozambique, Angola, Nigeria, Somalia, Malawi and Zimbabwe. There are said to be over three million Zimbabweans seeking haven in South Africa. Robert Mugabe's people amidst their home-grown tribal 'misunderstandings', prefer to flee to where they might stand a chance of survival.

Even though they are hunted mercilessly by South Africans for whom an evening of blood games, of looting, beating, killing, raping, provides entertainment and a purpose in life.

From the time of Apartheid's Soweto killings and Winnie Mandela's sporty bodyguards under her direction abducting Stompie Moeketsi, a 13-year-old boy to torture and "necklace" him to the present where the very nationals who had once offered protection to South African asylum seekers are now set on fire for the entertainment of the mobs.

Even the retired Desmund Tutu who entreats South Africans to "Please, please stop! These are our sisters and brothers. We can't repay them (for their past support of desperate South Africans fleeing violence before the end of apartheid) by killing their children", exercises his conscience in vain, for no one hears, and none are interested.

"They set you alight ... and laugh at you while you are burning. It's so shameful right now to be a South African, seeing all these things happening here, while claiming to be a rainbow nation, after all the struggles that our parents have gone through."

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A Socially NDP Canada

We preparing for a clean sweep this time around? All the devoted followers of the NDP set to shout in unison: "Prime Minister Jack Layton!" And all the newly engaged suddenly seeing in nimble Jack - who can turn any perceived advantage on a dime toward the NDP and his personal cause to steer the country- the social progressive we've been waiting for all these years.

Middle-class families (who even knew the NDP cared beyond the low-waged, the welfare recipients, entitled trade unionists, and oh yes, the odd academic here and there, and hard-put-to-pay-tuition students?), the retired, small business, UNIONS (sorry, didn't mean to shout it out), Quebec nationalists (separatists, that is) and (disaffected) Muslims.

Joining them in a hugely enthusiastic group hug, none other than Bloc organizers who are now encouraging those who might normally vote Bloc to transfer their allegiance to the NDP, so they can have a real voice in Parliament, a federal party which is prepared to give Quebec everything it hankers after.

Gilles Duceppe may be feeling betrayed, may have his nose slightly out of joint with disbelief at the traitorous turn of events, but if Pauline Marois obligingly steps aside he can always vent his outrage at the helm of the Parti Quebecois and learn to love partnering with Prime Minister Jack Layton who will be most pleased to grant all his demands, in spades.

Inclusive of waving 'bye-'bye, when Quebec decides finally it's time to shove off. They'll do it, taking with them those parts of the province that don't want to go, would prefer to stay with Canada, but then they're just aboriginals so who gives a damn anyway? They'll also manage to keep a comfortable level of transfer payments because being on the dole is so addictive.

And here's another constituency falling all over itself to endorse the NDP and get out the vote. It's the Holocaust-denying contingent of the Canadian Muslim community who don't much like Stephen Harper and his corrupt, perverted view of justice and morals, standing in solidarity with Israel's right to defend itself against the ongoing attacks by Hamas against Israeli citizens.

Welcome to the fold, all. Of course the NDP's extravagant plans to alter Canada's vision of itself, and to irremediably change the economic landscape resulting in a gangbuster of a green economy and bruised corporate interests, and a failing job market and steeply rising taxes, and failed investments, and a very happy Quebec, will alter this country beyond recognition.

Canada, the country that deserves to hobble along the same track as the failed Italy, Greece, Iceland, Spain, Ireland; we'll be in noble company.

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Blazing Cat Fur: Intelligent Muslim Cites Holocaust Denial Site Rense.com In NDP Endorsement

Blazing Cat Fur: Intelligent Muslim Cites Holocaust Denial Site Rense.com In NDP Endorsement

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sadistic Cynicism

Britain has formally withdrawn the wedding invitation extended to the Embassy of Syria, in London. And the Syrian Ambassador, surprised and somewhat crestfallen at the dis-invitation, does not in fact think it advisable that he attend. Will they courteously usher him out of Westminster Abbey should he defy them, waving his invitation as proof that he was invited - or put him in the stocks on public display for further humiliation?

Not that there is any really good reason to feel compassion for the man. He does, after all, represent the government and the leader of his country while abroad. And the government and President Bashar al-Assad deserve little respect from the international community, much less Britain and the Royal Family. Both of which, truth be told, saw nothing amiss in sending out the original invitation until the embarrassment of public criticism had them take a second look.

After all, if Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and Sara Ferguson are persona non grata, it does look rather peculiar if Syria's representative appears as an honoured guest. But that's Britain, after all, the country that personifies eccentricity and the class-culture structure, and entitlements. If we think that Britain's sordid and dilatory attention to class-corrective actions and cultural niceties leave something to be desired, look to the United Nations.

Ah, the United Nations, where there are no class distinctions and where all countries are considered to be equally endowed and equally entitled. Belying reality, but making for political correctness, which is the standard-bearer of conduct within that august body. The UN's Human Rights Council presents as one of those creatures of the UN that stands above and apart; perhaps that should be descends below standards.

Canada, among another 36 co-sponsors requesting the scheduling of an emergency session on exploring what can be done about Syria's brutal crackdown on its own citizens clamouring for freedom from classic repression, would like some accountability. It was largely responsible for introducing into the UN the "responsibility to protect" doctrine, which the UN is now grappling with, pleading with Bashar al-Assad to stop killing Syrian protesters.

But the Human Rights Council, having received from Syria a key membership prerequisite in the form of a written pledge to respect the human rights of its own population, and to promote human rights internationally - a standard document required of all potential members elected to the HRC - is prepared to proceed to induct Syria into its 47-member council for a 3-year term.

Like Britain's invitation, away back in January the UN Asian group submitted the names of Syria and three other countries to fill four vacant "Asian" seats. With that submission, the admission of the four are rubber-stamped for acceptance, requiring only a simple majority of the 192-member UN General Assembly in a month's time. The international community, let alone the Arab League, is making no fuss about the Syrian situation, unlike the attention given to Libya.

Neither Russia nor China are prepared to issue a condemnation of the Syrian government, unlike Europe and the U.S. and Canada. Russian Deputy Ambassador Alexander Pankin claims that the situation in Syria "does not present a threat to international peace and security", therefore it is clearly not needful that the Security Council get involved in anything distastefully interfering like sanctions against Syria.

Syria, a clear threat in the Middle East and beyond, with its support for and links to terrorist Islamists militias, Hezbollah and Hamas; with its active encouragement and support of Islamist jihadists entering Iraq to confront and attack both Iraqis and U.S. and British troops there; with its closely supportive friendship with Iran; with its own attempts to build nuclear installations; with its Lebanese occupation; with its involvement in political assassinations; with its violation of its citizens' human rights, was still seen as deserving of an invitation to the royal wedding.

And it stands now, as of May 20, to join the UN's Human Rights Council. This blatant parody of concern for human rights represents the ultimate in paradoxically sadistic cynicism.

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Premier Qualities

Has quite the spectacular ring to it, got to admit it: "Prime Minister Jack Layton". Jack thinks it's about time. Members of the NDP do, too.

They've worked long and hard in the background of Canadian politics and feel justified in claiming they deserve the chance and the opportunity to prove themselves. It is perfectly true that the tireless nudging and badgering and background manipulation NDP-effect on various Liberal and Conservative-led governments can be traced to the adoption of some of Canada's more progressive social welfare programs.

We grant them that. They've been a background social conscience, as it were. And they've always been able to think of expensive social welfare programs that the reigning parties haven't signed on to, as well. Just a hopeful wish list. Their enthusiasm for social engineering and welfare and progressive stances on everything to make for one great big happy federation cannot be denied.

And there have been provincial NDP governments that haven't done too badly.

While others, like those that prevailed for a short while of temporary disorder in Ontario and British Columbia proved that the NDP had a great potential for screwing up right royally. Funny thing about that; in both instances the former NDP premiers after being tossed ignominiously out of office turned to the Liberal Party, which welcomed them warmly, and where they then set out to practise what they preached there, too.

Jack Layton performed exceedingly well at the Leaders' Debates; fluently bilingual, just a nice guy. And he really laid into Michael Ignatieff, pricelessly slaughtering him with the lines that pointed out that you've got to be present in the House to cast your vote and to demonstrate your dedication to your chosen profession to be counted in. "You know, most Canadians, if they don't show up for work, they don't get a promotion. You missed 70 per cent of the votes."

Point well taken, Jack. Can we assume too that if you're running for office during an election your candidates should be there, at the ready, prepared to return calls and emails, and show up at all-candidate meetings, and knock at doors and generally be there in the riding as a kind of signal that they're really, truly interested in being elected? The Canadian public was advised that only the NDP really invested heavily in encouraging female candidates.

So what's this? The NDP candidate for Berthier-Maskinonge chose to go on vacation to Las Vegas? Rather inconvenient, isn't it? I mean is this the way a candidate for political office demonstrates commitment? Good thing Cedric Williams was available as NDP Quebec campaign spokesman to give a reasonable explanation. "It's just that in this case she needed to go, and she couldn't get refunded." Oh. Good for Ruth Ellen Brosseau, She has her priorities.

Hey, another one: The NDP candidate for Richmond-Athabasca couldn't make an all-candidates debate because she is currently in France for three weeks? Isabelle Maguire has decided that being in France for three weeks tops sticking around home just because she's running for public office. And Cedric Williams is on top of that one too, he's in the process of verifying her whereabouts. He'll get back to us with another excellent explanation.

But they're not just in Quebec. Nicole Yovanoff, the NDP candidate running in Don Valley West is kind of ... not there ...? No telephone number, no campaign office, does not return emails, chose not to attend all-candidates' meeting. That's a peculiar kind of commitment, but then who knows? That's the thing about the NDP, their pluralist-socialist-ideology attracts the young and the untried; lots of university students opting to run while writing exams.

And then there's the mild embarrassment of candidates who suddenly decide, looking around at their opponents' energetic programs that it's just too much of a stretch to get out there and contest the seat, after all. Throwing in the banners and the posters and resigning their nomination, preferring to throw their support to a worthwhile rival - say the riding's Conservative nominee, as a better fit?

You'd think that would be enough to give the party and its dauntless leader a fit, but no, Jack is as chirpy and as self-assured as ever. He keeps studying his profile in the mirror, squinting a bit, and saying to that reflection, full-face, "now say after me, Prime Minister Jack Layton".

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Jack's Boundless Energy

Like the frustrated bridesmaid determined to finally become a bride, after having worked so hard to attain bridesmaid status following a very long period when she was merely a guest, here is Jack Layton bringing the New Democratic Party into the home stretch of either the official opposition or, unbelievably, the new government of Canada. He's sounding breezily confident of late, although perhaps slightly more guarded in his statements to the press since suddenly what he commits to may come back to bite him.

They will certainly - all of his promises, should he ever attain power, either through himself attaining a minority government, or finagling one by finessing a coalition-that-isn't-a-coalition with himself at the helm - come back to bite the voting public. Who may themselves take to biting their fingernails in frustration at the sudden flight of foreign investment, the moans of corporations stung with higher business taxes, and the agony of resulting higher unemployment figures, as fall-out leading to the economy staggering back into enfeebled recession.

Let alone all the expensive new commitments to the Province of Quebec which will call in all of its suddenly-discovered needs which Jack expansively guaranteed his government would be only too privileged to pay for, to keep Quebec happy. Because Jack believes in asymmetrical federalism, in the unique nationalism of Quebec, in the entitlements of Quebec to be its unqualified deserving self with little-to-no-interference from the federal government.

There are, after all, in the grandly-released, and little-focused-on election platform 205 policy promises as a starter as 'first steps' recognizing the needs of Canadian families in the process putting Canada on the highway to a soaring debt that will make the current one look attractive by comparison. A lovely new green plan will be unveiled to finally do justice to all the deserving environmental programs that have been ignored.

A new publication just released has some nifty little details the public can cue into for future prospects in that department. Little tidbits like the conclusion that Spain's efforts to be green resulted in "2.2 jobs (destroyed) for every job created", coming to us courtesy of Kenneth Green and Ben Eisen, writing for the Frontier Centre, explaining "while the capital needed for one green job in Italy could create five new jobs in the general economy". And that researchers at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos released data that the cost of each "green job" in 2009 Spain costed in at $791,597.

Green is a lovely colour, but it's an excessively expensive one to paint the economy with. Spanish researcher Gabriel Calzada Alvarez and company discovered that each "green" megawatt of energy installed "destroys 5.28 jobs on average elsewhere in the economy". Leading Spain finally to the conclusion that its bold new environmental venture into sustainable renewable energy alternatives were simply economically unsustainable.

In Italy and Germany, as in Spain, rampant corruption spread through the exciting new green corporate world of sustainable energy. Everyone eager to take advantage of this splendid new direction in business opportunities. "In Italy, however, rather than having numerous individuals defrauding the government, the Mafia is involved", while in Germany utilities are required by law to purchase solar energy at 59 cents per kWh, whereas conventional sources range from 20 cents to 3 cents.

But the thing is, no one is interested in boringly irrelevant details. The interest lies in the attractiveness of 'doing the right thing' since, after all, there is an environmental crisis at hand; the world is using up non-renewable energy sources at an astounding rate, and in the process adding further to the degradation of the environment. Add to that the fact that as the world's population rises and more people are demanding the privileges seen in the industrialized wealthy world, depletion becomes more assured.

There will certainly have to be some manner of functional address to be realized to this very real problem, simply not necessarily one reflective of proven failures, administered by rookie governments with no past experience in all the areas that the NDP is so eager to dip its fingers into as a purely social-welfare dedication to solving difficult problems. Layton has promised $20-billion for new green initiatives to be paid for by a cap-and-trade system yet to be devised.

But that amount represents only a fraction of the entire projected new spending commitments which come in at about $69-billion, in an economy which is still struggling to fully compensate for the downturn before full confidence can be assumed, and with it new jobs. Higher taxes can be assured with a newly-installed NDP government, but taxes alone won't be sufficient to pay for all the promises, let alone address the deficit and debt.

Canada will become more indebted, over and above the already burdensome amount that resulted from addressing the emergency of the downturn. And this is what Canadians are getting set to vote for? Reason appears to have floated into the upper stratosphere, beyond recall, as people are mesmerized by the picture of a courageous, scrappy populist, who faced down cancer surgery followed by a hip fracture, and still hobbles about tirelessly, and pugnaciously out there, capturing admiration.

Should the impossible come to fruition, we will begin to live in interesting times.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Canada's Finest

Canada, a country built on immigration. And continuing that tradition. Canadians are not replacing themselves at a level commensurate with the need to grow its GDP. We are becoming a nation of elderly people, and too few young people. Immigration stands at roughly a half-million each and every year. It is a costly but necessary process to ensure that Canada continues to grow. But the process comes at a cost when due diligence in admitting future citizens is revealed to have flaws that bring into the country people whose values are inimical to the country.

One such and now-obvious immigrant who entered Canada, originally from Mauritania, by way of Germany is an electrical engineer who lived in Montreal and served as an imam at the Al-Sunnah mosque. The most recent release of WikiLeaks documents details this man's trajectory from immigrant to radicalization and eventual engagement as an al-Qaeda operative. One who ended up as a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. But not before he successfully recruited new members for al-Qaeda, while imam of the Al-Sunnah mosque.

He has, in fact, been linked to three of the hijackers who were involved in the 9/11 terror attacks. As a high-value prisoner he is still being interrogated for any information he may divulge relating to the activities of Islamist extremists in North Africa, Europe and Canada. An American Defence Department assessment of the man which considers him "an admitted member of al-Qaeda" who "was prepared to be a martyr", posits that he was a lieutenant to his cousin, Osama bin Laden's religious adviser, a member of the al-Qaeda council.

A relatively high-ranking, high-value prisoner with deep involvement. He is presumed to have recruited Muhammad Atta, Marwan al Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah, pilots of three of the planes lethally and disastrously involved during the September 11, 2001 attacks. According to the American assessment of this very interesting and dedicated Islamist, "multiple independent sources" corroborate his intense involvement in the 9/11 recruitment, along with the Algerian terrorist Ahmed Ressam and the Tunisian synagogue truck bombing in 2002.

Interestingly enough, it was as a teenager in Germany studying on a grant by a foundation at the University of Duisburg where he was exposed to extremist religious indoctrination. He received training in jihad in Afghanistan, and returned there to fight with the mujahadeen against the Soviet-installed Afghan government. Which led to the installation of the Taliban. He planned to fight in Bosnia but decided to return to Germany, rather than face the "danger" in Bosnia.

Of the interesting information he divulged to American authorities was that al-Qaeda was able to invest in "unwitting companies" within Canada. Despite being a fount of useful information, he denies any direct involvement in terrorism. Another innocent man erroneously and grossly unfairly charged with crimes he did not commit. His forthcoming co-operation has been appreciated by the authorities, despite his denials of personal commitment.

Another of Canada's fine immigrants with citizenship potential.

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State-Funded Child Care

The Liberals and the NDP decry the Conservatives for not having launched a universal day-care plan, which both the Liberals and the NDP have mused about for a decade. Something that might be modelled after the Quebec day-care option, with $7-a-day, government sponsored and defrayed day care. Which the Conservatives years ago turned around and opted instead for a far less costly and less-intrusive yearly child-care support to parents to decide for themselves how the funding should be spent.

It's a nominal sum, serving as a recognition that some parents prefer to raise their children with one parent at home, rather than farm their children out to day-care providers. It is a tip of the hat to standard, old-fashioned parenting, in fact. And an admission that the Conservatives see it as impractical in the sense of becoming too great a financial burden for the taxpayer to support the concept of affordable, regulated, universal day-care. The public education system exists as a needful model of state-subsidized education.

As for the supposed effectiveness of state-subsidized day-care for the country's children, leaving parents not only free to get out into the workforce, but seeming to insist that they do so, since they have been freed by the state to do just that; parents feel the obligation they are under to leave the raising of their children to others. The end result of which can be far different than what those who encourage and demand it might anticipate, given the experience of a country which devoted itself to that very concept.

Sweden, with its long history of admired and often-emulated social welfare, had its universal, state-subsidized child-care system evaluated and the resulting study published in 2006 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ranked Sweden at the top and Canada at the bottom in child care provision. The comprehensive, affordable day care available in Sweden, and its history of gender equality has resulted in a very high percentage of women joining the paid workforce. After all, the demanding occupation of child care has been removed.

Because of a policy of generous parental leave of sixteen months after birth, mothers look after their babies for the first year-and-a-half. After that fully 92% of Swedish children from 18 months to five years are looked after in a day-care setting. Day-care subsidies are set at $20,000 annually per child. Which, among other things, explains why Swedish taxes represent among the highest in the world. The day-care system was initiated in 1975, and it took until the 1990s for an evaluation of the success of the program to be undertaken and recognized.

What was recognized was that Swedish health-care professionals cite the lack of parental involvement in their children's upbringing, and the parents' unfamiliarity with child rearing techniques as being responsible for socially dysfunctional children. Swedish youth are exhibiting psychological problems and disorders at a rate far accelerated over their European counterparts. As for educational progress in Swedish schools, they have descended from the top 30 years earlier to average among OECD nations.

Problem behaviours in Swedish schoolchildren far outdistance those of their European counterparts. The ratio of teachers to students is also increasing with deleterious outcomes. Quality service and care has been impeded by the simple fact that Sweden has been involved in a financial crisis. The bold and progressive experiment in state child-rearing has proven to be a failure.

Canadians should have no interest in going down that same dismal road.

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Interesting Times

Britain is well known to have been completely infiltrated by rabidly fanatic Islamists. British Muslims famously attend mosques where visiting and home-grown imams constantly preach jihad. The natural outcome of which is that a good percentage of British Muslims harbour sympathy for violent jihad, and a small but significant proportion of British Muslims aspire to become involved themselves with violent jihad. Of that number a smaller yet number have travelled to Afghanistan for terror training, and some of have returned to Britain.

Muslims living in Britain who espouse and encourage views in the Muslim community that run entirely counter to the welfare and values of the country which has given them haven and citizenship, consider Britain a 'colonial Crusader' country hugely invested in conquering and occupying Arab and Muslim lands to continue controlling oil output. Britain's role in NATO and its relationship with the United States in joining to combat international jihad has created the anomalous situation of an immigrant community loathing the politics of its adopted country.

While leaders of the fanatic groups of Islamists dedicated to defaming and challenging Britain's government and its military in their forays abroad with NATO continue to denounce the government, many of them live entitled lives of welfare dependency. Now, with the country in celebratory mode in preparation for the royal wedding to take place at Westminster Abbey, security alert is at a high level. And people are being warned that there may be problems, while the police ask them to be aware and inform the police should they note anything out of character.
"We really need you to be our eyes and our ears. If you see anybody in the crowd that is acting suspiciously, please bring it to the earliest attention of our officers."
Recent WikiLeaks documents describing Britain as representing a "crucible of terrorism" over the past several decades have not exactly revealed anything not previously known. But they do highlight what is known, bringing the reality closer to the scrutiny of people who would prefer to wave it aside as irrelevant. Until the next home-grown terror attack occurs, leaving chaos and bloody slaughter in its wake.

Some things have certainly changed in Britain in the past few decades. Where once Britain had the headache of the Irish Republican Army to concern themselves with, they now are concerned with a lethally determined religious ideology of fiercely paranoid hatred. The footman riding the wedding coach of the royal couple will be a security officer, armed, and fully prepared to physically cover the royal couple with his own body should they happen to come under attack by anyone with sinister intent who might breach security.

Five thousand police officers will be on duty the day of the royal wedding. Of that number, one-fifth represent a rapid reaction force prepared to isolate and surround and de-activate violent protesters,whether they are anarchists or anarcho-Islamists. The threat level has been set at "severe", interpreted as meaning that British authorities consider a high potential for a terrorist attack is likely.

A radical Islamist group, Muslims Against Crusades, which has planned a protest against the "Nazi" Prince William, and which has been denied a permit to protest and banned from the area of the royal procession, still intends to gather for the purpose of "disrupting" the wedding ceremony and celebratory occasion. Their website incites followers to get out, gather and "protest" the crusading British military, along with the fascist royal family, labelled as "enemies to Allah and his Messenger".

Friday is fated to be an interesting day of polarized events and participation. Interesting in the sense of that old Chinese curse.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Natural Disasters

If the bodies are not found and identified and their families given the peace of knowing, the festering lack of closure will take its toll. The government will forever face the quiet condemnation of the masses, that it made too little effort to act decisively when action was required.

As it is, over a month after the crippling earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan and left its population in a state of collective shock, and its industry enfeebled, it is too late.

Bodies of the drowned have been washed too far out for recovery. The dead, lying under deep layers upon layers of quake-destroyed buildings are steadily decaying and too few have been recovered, despite the tasking of 25,000 Japanese troops dispatched in recovery efforts at the worst scenes of disaster. There are 74 schoolchildren missing at an elementary school.

The official tally is 14,340 people killed in the triple disaster. With 11,889 officially missing. Not yet accounted for, but missing. It is those 11,889 whose bodies are being sought for recovery, accounting and burial. It is the government's responsibility to attempt to see that this is done. It is a government being accountable past a disaster it could not cope with.

Poking about in the twisted wreckage of what were once municipal buildings, shopping emporiums, schools, apartments and devastated homes is proving to be a monumental and dangerous task. Aircraft and ships, police, coast guard officers, all engaged in a large sweep for the possible location and discovery of bodies offshore. Fewer than 500 found, thus far.

And there's another dimension of tragedy as well, as once-productive farmland, now abandoned as a result of a government-ordered nuclear-evacuation zone. Farm animals deserted, left to slowly perish, unable to fend for themselves as domesticated and incapable of looking to their own needs. The evacuation zone encompasses 370 farms.

On those farms were four thousand cattle, thirty-thousand pigs, and six-hundred-thirty-thousand poultry. The Japanese who once proudly practised animal husbandry and farmed their acreage, are no longer there, but elsewhere, fearing for their health and mourning their lost livelihoods. Veterinarians have been dispatched to evaluate the situation, the dead animals.

The surrounding air, soil and ocean have been contaminated by radiation from the nuclear plant at Fukushima. Regional farm production has been banned. Automobile manufacturers have been unable to start up and regularize their production lines resulting in a shortage of parts and overall production shortfalls.

People are desperately concerned about the continued spread of radiation, of an increased evacuation zone. Farmers who have lost their livelihoods and sometimes family members are in utter despair. Some have committed suicide. And Japanese health authorities anticipate a rising wave of grief and anguish contributing to greater numbers of suicides.

This is a country in which pride and honour contribute to viewing suicide as a solution, the ultimate act of humble contrition. For those whose livelihoods have disappeared and who can see no future for themselves, the benefits of an insurance policy paid may assist their families if their suicides can be attributed to natural causes.

Which, in effect, they most certainly can be.

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Doing Jihad

That was some street party. It made a lot of people very happy. Almost five hundred, in fact. Who were most dissatisfied with the lodgings they were placed in that kept them too tied up to attend to the kind of dedicated and comprehensive activities they far preferred to be involved with. Little did they know that a little conspiracy was afoot, courtesy of government auspices and their happy-club, to free them from the inconvenience of bars and release them back to the activities they love best.

"The most astonishing thing" ,trumpeted the Taliban was that their carefully planned and executed route to the outside world for the politically-motivated inhabitants of Sarpoza prison in Kandahar City went serenely undetected for the many hours it took to void the cells of their prisoners. Astonishing too that the prison break-out might not have concluded so successfully had its planners-and-executors not been in possession of keys to the prison cells.

"They were just sleeping. They are always intoxicated, smoking heroin, smoking hashish, or sleeping", one of the escapees said dismissively of the prison guards who had no inkling, not the merest suspicion over the course of the night that anything amiss was occurring. The soundless and hushed exercise where Taliban members went about the political wing of the prison to awaken and hustle prisoners down into the escape tunnel escaped their notice.

These are the very guards who received careful and detailed training by experienced Canadian correctional services agents, to teach them the fine points of prisoners' rights, and the lawful and effective manner in which their profession should be practised. Correctional Services Canada had a number of officials regularly travel to Afghanistan to monitor the process.

Canada invested several millions in physical upgrades to the building.

And additional funding to the overhauling of the insecure and previously incompetent professionalism of Sarpoza's staff guards. This was seen as a huge improvement over the situation that prevailed a few years earlier when an earlier prison break-out occurred. Like everything else in Afghanistan, considering the corruption of the government, the national police and the armed forces, outside sources cannot compensate for a cultural lack of commitment.

The Taliban, determined to recover what they consider rightfully theirs by conquest, have not been idle in the face of NATO's recent successes. They planned well, but could not possibly have conducted the operation as successfully as they did without inside help. And despite the declarations of the Afghan government spokesman after the fact, there were obviously those in high places who were complicit.

How is it possible that over a period of five months' excavation work, the resulting tons of soil carted off in trucks and even on donkeys went unnoticed? A tunnel 320 metres long - a full kilometer - that went under a major highway and the outer prison wall, directly into the prison itself would result in an awful lot of excavated soil to be disposed of. And considering that the tunnel was 2 meters wide by 2.5 tall, even more so.

The start of the tunnel was inside a metal-making shop that came in handy to produce metal bars to bulwark the tunnel under the highway. That's a lot of heavy labour for a team of 18 men; and no one noticed...? The tunnel was ventilated with fans, electrified for light, and nothing irregular was noted? The tumult of almost five hundred men being suddenly notified that freedom was at hand, just fellow me - not heard, not seen, not spoken of.

And the deputy intelligence chief in Kandahar, who obviously has the title, but no inkling of what intelligence might actually consist of in its gathering potential and vital importance, moans that "this will have a negative effect on Kandahar's security situation." Yes, it most definitely will, given that some one hundred and more of the escapees represented high-value Taliban chiefs.

Abdul Wahab Salihi, the deputy intelligence chief in Kandahar may claim to be upset about the misfortune that has befallen the prison, but the escapees clearly are elated: "I have been doing jihad for 10 years. I will fight again, I will fight again."

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Canada's 21st Century Gold Rush

Well, it's a head-scratcher all right. The 'astonishing' surge of the NDP and the huge popularity of its leader, Jack Layton. Who might have thought this could occur? A former Toronto city councillor and would-be mayor who thought he would challenge for the leadership of the NDP, and here he is, a veteran of four election campaigns, suddenly thrust into the lime-light of beloved-first of voters' preference.

Are those voters thinking 'Prime Minister Jack Layton'? If so they're fairly suggestible, taking up from Jack Layton himself, who has enthused his party sufficiently that they too declare him the future prime minister of Canada, which is how he himself has been proudly proclaiming his intent. Will it come even remotely close to resembling the final results? How likely is that? Are Canadians listening to themselves, let alone the promises issuing from his smiling lips?

Even if this country were as wealthy commensurately as the oil sheikdoms, we would go broke paying for all the hefty and impractical social benefits Jack Layton is promising to rain down on us on May 3rd, when he bashfully makes his plans to move into 24 Sussex Drive. His green-energy agenda should make for very good relations with Ontario's Premier Dalton McGuinty, but theirs is fated to be a short-lived federal-provincial love-in, since Mr. McGuinty appears on his way out of the premiership.

Prime Minister Layton will open the Constitution and re-work it here and there to ensure it presents as compatible with Quebec's aspirations. He is prepared to give Quebec all that it wishes for, and to surprise it for having ushered him into the prime ministership, by giving it even more power, prestige and autonomy by moving Parliament to Quebec City and himself governing the country from that aerie.

Children nationwide will be cared for in government-sponsored-and-funded daycare. Their parents will be freed up to spend their time at unionized jobs that will successfully sue for greater and more generous perquisites, inclusive of a retirement plan that will release them from the stultifying effects of working for a living by the time they reach fifty years of age. There will be hugely-compensated employment for everyone. And for those who simply do not feel like demeaning themselves by applying themselves to working for a living wage, welfare will step in and provide, handsomely.

Health care will no longer present as a problem with long waiting times for surgeries and emergency room hold-ups, for the quality of Canada's universality of medicare will suddenly erupt in a bonanza of perfection paid for by ever-increasing transfers of funds from federal coffers, keeping the Royal Mint ever so busy minting gold coins everyone will clamour for, the precious metal dredged up from the Ottawa River where it has lain unclaimed by anyone for centuries. Canada's pharmaceutical generics will develop a not-for-profit conscience and offer almost-free drugs to those in need.

Finally, Canadians will be able to relax and enjoy life; no stresses, no messes. Thank you, Jack Layton.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

The Patient? Surviving

Updates on Afghanistan from NATO and from the U.S. military paint a glowing picture of societal and military success. The country is brimming with opportunities for its people. Children are finally being educated. Women are free to be themselves, to stroll outside their homes, to acquire jobs, free from persecution.

The country is being ably administered by a democratic government. NATO is training the national police and the military and conscripts are growing in numbers and doing very well.

Corruption is endemic, seen in every walk of life, a reflection of the situation is in the government itself. But this is traditional, and Afghanistan is on its way to recovering its pride and its dignity and will deal with such irrelevancies in due time.

Except that the political opposition in the country feels that the corrupt voting that confirmed Hamid Karzai firmly back as president with former war lords back in parliament represents a signal failure. Abdullah Abdullah knows what democracy should look like, and it should not be a corrupt organ of a corrupt government.

All is not exactly how it seems, evidently. Families in Afghanistan are in fact less well off economically than they were years ago; they are struggling to access elemental needs. 42% of the Afghan population live below the poverty line. The unemployment rate is near 40%, but indigent foreign workers are brought in by international organizations to work (for them) as food servers, guards and cleaners.

Billions in foreign aid were spent in the country yet accountability is somehow not there. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction found poor construction methods used on building sites due to corruption, or incomplete structures. For all the children who are being educated, far more will never see the interior of a classroom. Child mortality rates remain high.

Young girls of twelve are still arranged into marriages with old men. And those who manage to survive childbirth will soon take on the mantles of old women, worn down by bearing children, caring for them, burying them, and working tirelessly in the home. Their young male counterparts will continue to answer the appeal of the Taliban for there are no other jobs available.

Government infrastructure, authority and security does not extend beyond the large provincial cities. Threats and violence, intimidation and obedience to the Taliban are imposed without intervention. Fear ensures that villagers remain complicit with the Taliban for fear of vicious reprisals. Violence is rising and there seems no end in sight.

When NATO departs the scene the niggling question of how a country as poverty-stricken as Afghanistan will ever be enabled to pay for its own security needs will present itself as a problem. The cost to the U.S. government alone yearly for its security presence in Afghanistan stands at $113-billion. According to World Bank estimates Afghanistan's GDP is $12-billion.

The much-vaunted value of provincial reconstruction teams that makes NATO members feel so proud of themselves for establishing model villages has ensured that the teams have a feeling of accomplishment, but the impact on institution building reflecting Afghan government involvement is absolutely nil.

These are all some of the conclusions sadly reached by Nipa Banerjee, one-time head of Canada's Kabul aid program from 2003 to 2006, who frequently returns to Afghanistan, and writes in Policy Options magazine, while teaching international development at the University of Ottawa.

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Middle East Human Rights

Syrians are furious that their calls for human rights within their own country are being defied by their dictatorial government. More furious yet that government troops are opening fire on protesters. Funeral processions to mourn the death of civilians, of a child, fired upon with live bullets. More deaths, more funerals, more attacks.

President Bashar al-Assad is being informed by the international community that his handling of the situation defies human rights, that he is trampling on the aspirations of his people, that he is violating their rights. He has gone to great lengths to impress upon onlookers that what is occurring is the result of a foreign conspiracy, that it is 'gangs' and 'criminals' and jihadists who are defying his order.

Moammar Gadhafi has infuriated the West and his own Arab neighbours by dispatching his military to destroy the demonstrators and protesters who have assembled themselves into a righteous army determined to unseat him. They also represent 'gangs', 'criminals' and al-Qaeda in origin. And foreign interlopers; the Western crusaders are in league with them.

But for President al-Assad no such labelling as a human-rights violator, no threats of being hauled before the International Criminal Court, no concerted effort to assist the Syrians who scream their defiance of their dictator, shrieking that he should be turning his armed forces against the Golan-Heights-holding Zionists, not Syrians.

Syria, protector and patron of Hamas, whose leader lives in safety in Damascus, and the generously-supporting patron of Hezbollah, both of which terrorist groups are labelled as such by the West, appears to present as the known devil and conceivably tolerable. From the Arab League no condemnations, no intervention, no discussions similar to those taking place with Yemen.

Arab human rights groups, however, have an argument with the Arab League for their support of Syria's candidacy for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, set for a May vote. Egyptian, Bahraini, Algerian, Saudi, Yemeni, Syrian, Sudanese and Iraqi NGO groups claim the support of the Arab League "shows flagrant disregard for the feelings and rights of the Syrian people, who have broken the barrier of fear and risen up in revolt".

And so, what else is new? Libya too was on the UN's Human Rights Council. Iran has been lauded for its record on human rights through the Human Rights Council. Simply put, it's business as usual in the Middle East. And at the United Nations. That business represents utter failure in the areas of human rights and entitlements.

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How Corrupt?

Is anyone naive enough to think that there was no government hand in the prison tunnel break-out in Kabul?

President Hamid Karzai is intent on eventually driving an existential, government-sharing bargain with the Taliban. He really does believe that he is capable of surviving any such agreement. It would represent an indication of his 'good-will' toward the Taliban were he to be known as having permitted political prisoners, Taliban, to negotiate their freedom.

That no one might have been alerted to the presence of the scheme, none of the details revealed and shared, the reconnaissance, the physical effort of burrowing under a major highway, with the escape of almost 500 prisoners, a time-consuming, all-night occurrence of amazing success. Initiated five months earlier, the lengthy passage was 360 meters in length.

No hint of activity ever noticed by prison guards, as construction of the tunnel was ongoing, even though it was dug beneath various police checkpoints. And right into a prison cell. With the knowledge, so the exultant Taliban claim, of only three inmates. The exfiltration of prisoners began at 11:00 p.m. and took all night.

The following morning, at 7:30 a.m. a member of the Kandahar Provincial Council, Haji Agha Lali Dastagiri, was fielding telephone calls about the prison break. When he sought further information, contacting high-placed government officials, they were completely unaware of what was occurring. They said.
I would call this a shameful incident for the Afghan government,” says Ahmad Shah Khan Achakzai, a former member of parliament in Kandahar. “It is impossible for the Taliban to get 500 men out of prison without anyone’s help. I believe there are some people from the prison or the government who gave the Taliban support.… It’s now clear to everyone how corrupt the government is.”
The government of Canada spent $5-million a few years back, fortifying the prison. After another, earlier prison break-out of Taliban prisoners.

NATO plans to leave Afghanistan after having trained the national police and the Afghan military in the finer points of applying military expertise to defending the country against the Taliban, purportedly. Claiming that they will leave the situation of the country's security in good hands.

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The Message is the Medium

Spiritual leader of well over a billion faithful of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI sought to appeal to humanitarian compassion in his Easter "Urbi et Orbi" blessing and speech. The time for lamentation and rejoicing as good a time as any to remind the faithful and the world at large that human beings have a practical and moral obligation to one another.

Pope Benedict must think in terms of human goodness as he gives his benediction to the waiting crowds. He must not submit to the reality that human goodness and compassion eludes too many in this world of warped entitlements and values. He remains for the faithful the embodiment of God's promise to humankind; that the faithful will be redeemed.

In his elevated station as the interceder between the Almighty and the people, it remains his obligation to instill hope and the need for kindness and consideration; to elevate the souls of his followers. He speaks of diplomacy and dialogue triumphing over conflict, that kind words are a worthy replacement for violence and arms.

This is the world that he lives within, but not the one that humanity struggles to endure. "In the countries of northern Africa and the Middle East, may all citizens, especially young people, work to promote the common good." A noble sentiment, without one shred of doubt. But the countries of northern Africa and the Middle East, particularly the young people, are extremely busy slaughtering one another.

Tribal antipathies, regional disputes; territorial boundaries; acquisition of natural resources; religious and sectarian, ethnic and clan hatreds thrive, helped by the greed of their totalitarian rulers, and the endemic poverty left as the lot of the people whose human rights have been violated. But the crucible of hatred and violence does not need the impetus of poverty to set it alight; hatred of the other will do very well.

Pope Benedict has little option, as the spokesperson for good in the world, relaying God's wishes for humankind, but to call for peace: "That the light of peace and of human dignity may overcome the darkness of division, hate and violence" in the Middle East. The 'inviolable right' to dignity and basic human rights is violated because it cannot be guaranteed.

Visceral distrust, hatred and violence sadly express humankind's ultimate degradation, one all too quickly resorted to with particular fervour in the Middle East, a brimming cauldron of resentment and paranoia.

Solve that and God will indeed have descended to Earth.

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Reason, Logic, Humanity Denied

How do you make peace with a people whose instincts, culture and continual incitements lead to ongoing attacks against your existence? Those who see you not as like themselves and worthy of consideration as other human beings, but as impediments to their own aspirations and existence. The primeval gut instinct inbred in humans to distrust to the point of violent hatred those unlike themselves alive and well in the Middle East.

Where tribalism and sectarian religious strife among Arabs have always contributed to violence and unrest; from bellicose warning to vicious slaughter as clan and tribe and versions of religious adherence traditionally led disparate groups to war one upon the other. What brings the various Muslim states together is the presence of a non-Muslim state.

The single unifying principle that brings all the factions together in agreement is the presence of an historical group quite unlike their own with another religion entirely in the geography. Land held to be consecrated to Islam is not to be tolerated for use of others who worship another religion. Even if that other religion pre-dated Islam and the presence of the Palestinians.

And then the cries of Allahu Akbar! ring out. As occurred when a group of settlers set out to worship at Joseph's Tomb in the West Bank without first contacting the IDF to accompany them, pre-arranging with the PA military to allow Jews to access their holy site. The settlers, in a convoy of vehicles, sought to spontaneously, without notifying the IDF, pray at the tomb.
"When we got back to the vehicles the police shot at the vehicles, they were screaming 'Allahu Akbar'. It was crazy, they were shooting to kill. I screamed at the driver to drive out of there quickly. When we got to Har Bracha we attended to the wounded."
But there was one death, a 24-year-old settler, father of four young children. In the Middle East, one does not take precautions lightly, spontaneity can result in death. Enraged Palestinians then attacked the funeral procession of the young father, with rocks. And then Palestinians desecrated Joseph's Tomb, as they have done also in the past.

In an interview following the killing of the settler and the wounding of his companions, Palestinian Authority security forces' spokesman General Adnan Damiri, stated that Jewish settlers "are not normal people", and as a result there was no need to issue any kind of statement that might be taken as an apology for the attack.

How does one reason with such people?

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Malicious Credibility

The Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress have led a sanctimonious protest in public, airing their grievance that the Holdomor is not receiving equal, if not superior place of pride front-and-centre at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. They claim that the Holocaust, a historical and precisely-documented event representing the atrocity of institutionalized genocide should be treated as just one of many such events.

They take great umbrage that the museum was originally planned, and continues to be planned, to primarily showcase the Holocaust as representative of the unspeakable tragedy that can befall a specifically-focused-upon ethnic/religious group through systematically de-humanizing them with an organized agenda of slander to justify all human rights denied them, isolating them from the rest of humanity and embarking on a mission of total annihilation.

It does not assuage their grievance to be informed that the Holdomor, and indeed all events of man's inhumanity to man will be present, documented and clearly mourned in the museum. Their resentment and anger is directed at the plans to 'elevate' one nation's tragedy over that of another. Reasoning with them that the Holocaust represents a singular event in the scope and detail of its prosecution makes no inroads with them.

They have taken to inflating the dreadful and deliberate starvation of millions of Ukrainians (1932-33) by the Soviet Union in an effort to 'prove' that it represented a horror whose effect far transcended that of the Holocaust. Their loss was greater than that of European Jewry. Their numbers of dead far outstripped that of the Jews. The assault and trauma left them was more awful and must be acknowledged.

Academics and scholars representing studies in history, sociology, social anthropology, languages, literature, linguistics, communications, education, remembrance and research, history and classics, legal and political philosophy, holocaust studies, comparative politics, contemporary theory, humanities, sociology and social research, study of contemporary antisemitism, European studies, culture studies and academies of sciences, Slavic languages and literatures, from the United States, Britain, Spain, Canada, Israel, France, Ukraine, Germany, Austria, Ireland, Poland, and Russia have become involved to admonish this movement to de-legitimize the purpose of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

They correct the figures related to the Ukrainian famine to represent the true numbers, not the inflated numbers put forward by the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. They point out that some of the hallowed nationalist groups that these two associations defend were Fascists, allied with the Nazis and were themselves responsible for many civilian deaths.

And they conclude their statement of support for the function, purpose and focus of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights by this summation:
"We therefore assert that since the UCCLA and UCC have not understood that confronting the historical record openly and honestly is preferable to manipulative falsehood, have engaged in a competition of suffering, and have failed to acknowledge both the vices and the virtues of the nationalist movement, they ought to stay out of a debate about the Canadian Museum of Human Rights."

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Pageants and Circuses

It's a nice event on the social calendar, to be sure. British royalty at it again. Those magnificent and outrageously grand ceremonials with all their pomp and regal presence are irresistible to many people. Representing celebrity at its utmost elevation. Queens and Princes and the commoner who is living the fairy tale of being selected by a real, live prince. Who may, if succession proceeds as planned, take the throne in the near-to-distant future.

Europe has plenty of royalty and those photographs of pomp and ceremony, brilliant smiles and lavishly extravagant gowns and festivities are always captivating in their way, at least for a brief period. But the amount of space taken up in the news media with details of the forthcoming marriage at Westminster Abbey, and preparations for the grand event tend to be somewhat gagging.

When is enough just that? Just about now.

This brace of young people who have spent the last eight years of intimacy together are now to be formally wed. There's a departure that the last generation has brought to tradition. And the memorabilia that will flood the market; everything from fine porcelain cups, to look-alike dolls, commemorative coins and tea towels with the photographs of the happy pair in pre-connubial bliss.

And then there's that shabby little bit of information that of the royal guests one member of that family has not received an invitation. Two of the Queen's grandchildren, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie will be in attendance along with their father and all others. But not their mother. Quite so that Sarah, Duchess of York is a shabby character herself, but she is their mother.

All manner of foreign dignitaries, ambassadors to Britain from various countries of the world, including those in fairly questionable odour, have been invited, however. Diplomats who represent autocratic, tyrannical and dictatorial, theistic governments who oppress their people. Libya, however, is definitely out; no invitation for them, but Syria's all right.

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Canadian Leadership Material

The Canadian electorate is facing up to its choices. At least it might seem that way, given the latest poll revelations. But then nothing is ever assured, and as the pundits say, things could turn on a dime. Predicting the nation's mood sometimes works, sometimes doesn't. With a full week left yet to voting day there's ample time for someone to impress and someone else to fail to.

It seems to the reasonable mind that a Conservative visible-minority candidate in British Columbia may not be too bright, too aware, less than capable when neither she nor her campaign advisers were quick enough to pick up a familiar-sounding name as trouble. Ignorance can be used as an excuse that Wai Young attended a public meeting in the presence of, and to be endorsed by Ripudaman Singh Malik acquitted of guilt in the Air India bombing.

But ignorance in general nor lack of diligence in whom one permits to endorse a candidature is not a very laudable quality in a political candidate. Nor does it reflect well on another partisan crowd attending a meeting with Stephen Harper, that protected him from responding to a reporter's question about the event.

On the other hand, it defies reason that a Conservative candidate, much less the party itself would court the support of a man whom a bungled RCMP investigation enabled a situation to evolve that allowed this Sikh-Canadian involved in the militant free-Khalistan movement to escape justice for his part in a home-grown terrorist attack. The answer is clear; neither would.

Then there's the campaign of Jack Layton's New Democratic Party, with the leader himself commiserating with Quebec over the plight of: "Too many families can't make ends meet, too many seniors are living in poverty - it's not right"; promising to fight for the interests of Quebecers. How are their interests any different than that of all Canadians?

Well, Quebec with its pride in clean-energy hydro thanks to the massive James Bay hydroelectric project is very receptive toward promises of further investment in clean-energy technologies. And Quebec's aging, crumbling infrastructure requiring the replacement of bridges is another item dear to the minds of the province's voters, and Jack Layton is responding.

"We offer to Quebecers the same thing we offer to Canadians, we will look after the issues of health care with your families. We will focus on job creation. we will work hard to provide economic security for seniors and we will try to take steps to make their lives a little more affordable", he promised.

Wait a minute: Jack Layton is differentiating Quebecers from Canadians? Amazing. Isn't it?

And there's Michael Ignatieff campaigning for the Liberal Party to be restored to its natural governing status. "If any of you are tempted to vote for the other party, take a look at the costing table at the back of the NDP program. They got $30 billion of spending. ...Don't go there folks. This is not wise."

Time out for campaigning against the Conservatives, focus needed on the NDP because they're splitting the vote. The gullible public is expected to handily forget all the costly promises being bandied about by the Liberals during this election campaign?

"We could have NDP amateur hour or we can have competent responsible government", Mr. Ignatieff warns his followers and the voting public at large. Liberals may swallow that message, but the uncommitted may gawp at the statements. Jack Layton cut his baby teeth on politics; he comes from a political family, he was deeply involved in Toronto municipal politics, and he has thus far had experience in running in three elections.

Michael Ignatieff returned to Canada from his sojourns abroad to be the saviour of the Liberal Party accustomed to governing as though they were the only party worth mentioning in the country. When, under the Liberals, regions that supported them were lavished with pork-barrelling, and when social programs Canadians depended on, got seriously cut back.

Yet Michael Ignatieff, who is a prime example of a democratic deficit in the very manner in which he was elevated to office can claim without blushing "People have a long memory here... They know that a Liberal government can govern." Sure, people have a long memory; long enough to recall the greed and corruption under the Liberals and the diminishment of social programs.

His stated strategy for the remainder of the campaign until voting day; "hope, hope, hope" and "optimism" is just what Canadians appear to have concluded, in very fact.

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Influence, Respect, Humility

There is something endearing about even a programmed, obviously staged event where the most prestigious, respected religious authority figure in the world appears to be humbly presenting himself in a modest setting, to respond to the confusion in the hearts of his adoring public.

As the single most impressive and important representative of God on Earth Pope Benedict XVI made his august presence available for enquiry. At the televised question-and-answer session that took place on Good Friday, Pope Benedict responded to a question by a Japanese child by his admission that he does not have "the answers" to human suffering.

No one is too grand or too important to hold themselves above and apart from ordinary people. Particularly those people whose lives have been touched by God and who acknowledge their need to worship their Saviour during this time of his resurrection celebrated in a yearly ritual of mourning and joyfulness.

And Pope Benedict holds himself responsible for his vast flock, as must a pope do.

It is to his great credit that he has not shied away from the need to speak forcibly and without diplomatic guile to the modern-day forces of brutal violence expressed through the resentment of another, competing religion, against the followers of the Roman Catholic Church. He has pleaded repeatedly for Muslim countries to respect the human rights of Christians.

He has responded to the outrage of his own parishioners - for all those who worship at the altar of the Roman Catholic Church are his parishioners - against the depredations of parish priests and their superiors in violating the trust and the faith of children by sexually abusing them for decades. His response has been one of anguish - and of guilt.

"I am saddened", he said "that I can do so little". Referring without doubt, to the proclivities of human beings whose spirit and courage has not been equal to the demands placed upon them in the service of God. He is saddened, that though he reproves and protests against humankind's continual surrender to tribal, clan and religious destruction, passions are unabated.

He often enough - because, as the major representative as he would have it, of God upon this planet, he is infallible, and his decision is to be respected - infuriates both the faithful and those for whom his faith is not theirs. He seeks to be a unifying force for goodness yet he is often seen as a divisive force through his decisions.

Given his due, his is an impossible task. And even when tasks are possible there is the reality that no one can possibly ever satisfy all people all the time. He likely comes as close to that impossible goal as anyone may.

But then ... on the other hand ...

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Strong Stands Against Terrorism

Why would Canada's relationship with Colonel Moammar Gadhafi have been any different than that of Canada's allies? The Western world reacted in lock-step horror after the monumental disbelief that overtook everyone, witnessing by remote the unspeakable carnage and convulsive destruction that fanatical ideological religious hatred was capable of producing.

And when the Western world recognized through the conclusive evidence that soon followed that the incendiary hatred of jihadists through the efforts of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda was directed without equivocation at all vestiges of "Western imperialism" traditionally feasting off the natural resources of the Arabian Peninsula as violent jihad stated, they joined in a self-protective phalanx of security.

Muslim countries took notice, and some, like Libya, decided that it would volunteer to give up its nuclear program initiated courtesy of Pakistan's Q.Khan and offer to co-operate with the West since it too was struggling with the fanatical extremists in Libya motivated by political Islam, not matching the violent ideological "socialism" that Moammar Gadhafi espoused linked to his own resentment of the colonialist West.

So there we were, in the wake of full knowledge of Libya's former investment in funding, inciting and spreading violence against the West exemplified by the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 with the Canadian military, under the influence of Britain, France, Italy and the U.S., viewing Libya as a willing and helpful bulwark against al-Qaeda, a mutual enemy of Libya.

Much was forgiven Libya when Gadhafi agreed to pay restitution to the families of those who died in the Lockerbie bombing. France and England sold advanced weaponry to their new ally against Islamist extremism, and British special forces trained Libya's government troops. The irony cannot be lost on many that Gadhafi blamed al-Qaeda for the popular uprising in his country.

This time around, however, as a result of his tyrannical and brutal repression of a popular peoples' revolt, the tide has turned and the former allies have been busying themselves urging the the UN, NATO, the African Union and the Arab League join forces in the just support of the peoples' rebellion in Libya to enable human rights to prevail.

The jaunty self-assurance of the rebels insisted initially there was no need for foreign intervention on the ground though they would appreciate the courtesy of some assistance in detaining Libyan warplanes and helicopter gunships from decimating their numbers as they steadily advanced on Tripoli.

Canada's Department of National Defence, echoing the attitudes of other NATO member-countries, no longer views Gadhafi as a front-line defence against radical Islam. Canadian warplanes are flying missions over Libya along with a few other NATO member-nations, and Qatar. And the U.S. has added more accurate, low-flying unmanned drones to the armoury.

And, confoundingly to NATO and its members, al-Qaeda in eastern Libya, long viewed by Gadhafi as an Islamist stronghold, continues to provide the rebels with recruitment, training and other assistance in the battle against the government. While al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is taking the opportunity to take possession of surface-to-air missiles and other looted military equipment from government munition stores in rebel-controlled areas.

Which weaponry will most certainly continue to be trafficked out of Libya, taken to safe sites like Yemen and stockpiled for future use against the infidel crusaders who are even now occupying yet another Muslim country for their own nefarious needs.

This is an old story, seen countless times before, where merging, supporting then fractured alliances come back to haunt the West in its attempts to make common cause with the East.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Aiding and Abetting Murder

Is there no insistence of responsibility on the part of Correctional Service of Canada or the authorities at Mountain Institution in Agassiz, British Columbia, over the murder of one of its inmates? That murder was one that should have been foreseen. The cellmate of the murdered man had stated flat out time and again, even in newspaper interviews, that nothing would stop him from murdering again.

Murder was a pleasurable indulgence to Michael McGray. He made no secret of it.

And he and his cellmate disliked one another. The cellmate, Jeremy Phillips, feared Michael McGray, a man notorious for having killed repeatedly. And whose psychopathic temper and utter lack of conscience was well known by other prisoners in the institution.

Jeremy Phillips had begged to be separated from Michael McGray. For that matter, Michael McGray made it well known that he was dissatisfied with having a cellmate. He had demanded, in fact, time and again, that he be given a single cell.

It wasn't that there were no single cells available. Even if conditions were crowded at the prison, so that it would be difficult to find a single cell for this man, his isolation from other prisoners should have represented a high priority. But even that wasn't the case; there were cells available.

Prison authorities were simply disinterested in separating the men, in ensuring that McGray did not represent a dire and present threat to other inmates. All of whom, other than the cellmate, whose direct proximity to his nemesis was unavoidable, gave the psychotic murderer wide berth. And anticipated that trouble would follow.

Jeremy Phillips' fear was realized when he was murdered on November 22, 2010 in the cell he shared with McGray. Who confessed to having assaulted Phillips with a ligature he fashioned from a sheet, then flushed down the toilet. Despite the evidence of the confession that simply confirmed what everyone already knew, and the following investigation, no charges have been laid.

A $11-million lawsuit has been filed with the claim that prison staff demonstrated "reckless indifference" and negligence that led directly to the death of Jeremy Phillips. His constant pleas to be removed from the shared cell were steadfastly ignored, despite his obvious fears, well founded and ultimately realized.

Society should care, but we don't seem to.

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The Vulnerability of Pakistani Women

A Pakistani woman whom village elders in southern Punjab ordered gang-raped as punishment has, since that event 9 years ago, become a passionate and assertive spokesperson on the plight of women in Pakistan. She wrote her autobiography, and European readers made it a bestseller. She took it upon herself to open schools for Pakistani boys and girls in her home village of Meerwala, and initiated a shelter for battered women in her village.

From the desolation of personal suffering inflicted upon a young woman was born the desire for courage to enable her to do what few other Pakistani women might, after having been horribly assaulted. The village council, on the orders of their wise and elderly studying the precepts of the Koran, determined that Mukhtar Mai, who was 30 years old at the time, be punished because of her young brother's alleged liaison with a woman from a wealthy family.

The social infliction of a grievously ruinous retaliatory sexual assault in that society is tantamount to social death. Many such victims who have been subjected to the scorn and derision and isolation that results from such an occurrence prefer to take their lives rather than live them out in their villages thereafter. They are viewed as 'unclean' and unfit for civil company.

The stigma is such that it never leaves them. They are considered ineligible for marriage, for no self-respecting Muslim man would love, let alone take under his wing and into his home to be the mother of his children, any woman who had been raped. She is persona non grata anywhere she goes.

But Mukhtar Mai decided this would not be her fate. And when she publicly revealed what had occurred to her the world's attention was turned on Pakistan for its atrocious treatment of women. Notoriously, in Pakistan few men accused of rape or domestic violence are ever convicted of their crimes.

There were no fewer than fourteen men involved in Ms. Mai's rape, six of whom were charged and convicted and sentenced to death, while the remaining eight were acquitted. In 2005, the high court in Lahore acquitted five of the convicted men, then commuted the death sentence of the remaining man to life imprisonment, citing lack of evidence.

Now, Pakistan's Supreme Court has freed the five men, and a shocked Ms. Mai calls the ruling "a sad day for Pakistani women". "I wasn't expecting this. I've been struggling for nine years for women's rights and was expecting the Supreme Court to give me justice. And it hasn't." She has new concerns, now. Fearing her safety and that of her family.

The freed accused, she feels may yet exact vengeance against her for daring to make public the gang rape she suffered, and inflicting a prison term on her rapists, while looking for justice for herself and by extension other women in Pakistan. "Absolutely, I feel threatened, and my family feels threatened. The government of Pakistan and the Supreme Court will be responsible for any kind of violence that occurs against me or my family."

One has the impression that they couldn't care less. One can only wonder why the village elders were not also held responsible. And why the death penalty is seen as a just sentence for rape. And whether the country ever considers the potential good to society of educating its males against institutionalized violence.

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Accessories To The Crime

The Islamic Republic of Iran gleefully noted the street-murder of 16-year-old Yazdan Ghiasvand Ghiasi last year, shot in Ottawa as he was sitting in a vehicle, and then tossed out of the car as it sped off. Purportedly a drug deal that went wrong. What kind of country is Canada, that such dreadful things occur in the street, a young boy of Iranian extraction so heartlessly murdered, Iran thundered, sanctimoniously scandalized.

Well, it would seem to ordinary Canadians that there might be something awry with the seeming inclination of immigrants with a Muslim background, who seem to turn, disproportionate to their numbers in society, to crime. This is obviously a response that would never pass the lips of Canadian diplomats, nor for that matter anyone who respects the dictionary of political correctness.

Yet Muslim youth appear drawn to the easy pickings and the adventurous excitement of crime on a micro- and macro-level, from drug dealing to murder, in greater numbers than their demographic seems to warrant. Young Ghiasi was shot in the heart by Mohamed Webbe; the dispute evidently occasioned over a bag of drugs, on a residential downtown street.

One shot killed the boy, hitting him directly in the heart; the other went skyward, shattering the sunroof of the blue Nissan Maxima involved in the tragedy. Two others, Abdulhamid Wehbe and Mohamed Webbe are also charged, with 2nd-degree murder, while Mohamed fled Canada; all in the family, as it were.

The trial of 18-year-old Zakaria Dourhnou has just concluded. He is a young man, previously in trouble with authorities and on probation, which included the court-ordered condition that he was meant to live with his mother who would monitor his activities. His mother, evidently having little respect for such conditions, allowed her son to live elsewhere, and paid for his apartment.

And it was in the parking lot of that apartment that the murder vehicle ended up. Mr. Dourhnou was instructed to clean up the incriminating evidence, as a gesture of friendship. And he was not averse to doing just that; police watched as Dourhnou and another teen, Khaled Webbe, obligingly set about cleaning up gunshot residue and blood.

"Mr. Dourhnou was acting for a friend in order to defeat a criminal investigation, by destroying evidence. the relevance of DNA evidence is well known ... It was obvious by the state of the vehicle that a serious altercation had taken place", stated Ontario Court Justice Celynne Dorval, in arriving at her decision.

A year in prison, over the 135 days already spent behind bars awaiting trial, a ban from possession of any weapons for five years, probation for three years. And his lawyer is outraged.

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Election Health Care

Polls have troubling updates to disturb the equanimity of the Liberal Party of Canada. Their choice of leader was not quite the resounding success they planned it would be. Michael Ignatieff seemed as though he might be useful, capable of sweeping the hustings with the magic of his personal style. He seems to have miscalculated on behalf of the Liberals.

The electorate has been instructed by Mr. Ignatieff to view the Conservatives and Stephen Harper as a viperous slithering menace whose underbelly covers nefarious Canada-harming plans, should majority governing status be achieved, to undo all of Canada's social welfare programs. In the process, dragging the country into worse fiscal damnation that they've already managed to incur.

All the forward-looking, progressive fundamentals that make Canada the great country that it is, will be undone if we are foolish enough to grant Mr. Harper the majority he so wishfully urges upon the country. We have the option of voting 'blue', or 'red', either door is open to us; will we then grasp the obvious wisdom of bringing back the natural governing party?

Doesn't appear so. Not if those damn polls are anything to judge by. Even Jack Layton's New Democratic Party is on the upswing, prepared to demolish the hoped-for prospects for the Bloc Quebecois in Quebec. And the Liberals? So far back of the pack we're groping for our binoculars to get them within our line of vision.

Looks as though the latest ploy has fallen flat. And one wonders why. The vaunted intellectualism of the former academic appears to have failed him, in hauling out health care and the dastardly Conservative plan to privatize the country's universality of medicare-hospital care. True, the electorate has a famously forgetful attitude toward the past.

On the other hand, it hasn't been all that long ago that Jean Chretien and Paul Martin between them, with a majority government repeated, ruthlessly slashed social programs. That would include "our cherished health care system", as Michael Ignatieff so lovingly describes it. That very system that he is prepared to defend against the Conservatives' destructive tendencies.

Did no one in the party remind Mr. Ignatieff, who was absent from the country in those days, that it was Mr. Chretien and Mr. Martin who looked the other way when private clinics erupted here and there, in Quebec and British Columbia, throwing the sanctity of the Canada Health Act into disarray?

My goodness, Mr. Martin's personal physician ran a string of private clinics. And it was Paul Martin who allowed the provinces to allocate additional health-care funding transfers wherever they saw fit, not necessarily toward health care spending, without penalty.

So it does make Mr. Ignatieff sound rather hollow and hypocritical as he waxes indignant over Mr. Harper's purported diabolical plan to transfer federal tax points to the provinces to enable them to raise their own revenues, each funding their own health system.

And then there's the interference of the Supreme Court of Canada, striking down on June 9, 2005 a law in Quebec prohibiting people from buying private health insurance to cover medical procedures already offered by the public system. "Access to a waiting list is not access to health care," two of the justices wrote in their decision.

Things are not always what they seem, are they?

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