Suing The Government For The Unforeseeable

Posted February 16th, 2011 in Canada by Adrian MacNair

Yes, it’s unfortunate that these people had to witness the entirely unpredictable and unpreventable murder of Tim McLean by mentally deranged immigrant Vince Li, but I fail to see how it’s anybody’s fault. Yet two women are suing Greyhound, the RCMP, the government of Canada and Vince Li for beheading McLean on a bus in 2008.

I can understand suing Vince Li, since civil law is different from criminal law in significant ways. Although the courts were unwilling to find Li responsible for his actions, a civil court may award damages, just as it did against murderer OJ Simpson.

But in what way would Greyhound be responsible? Was it supposed to have passengers sign a waiver indicating that “due to unforeseeable events, a passenger may or may not be murdered on this trip”? How could Greyhound have anticipated a delusional schizophrenic would board their bus and cut somebody’s head off?

In what way is the RCMP responsible? Were they supposed to arrest Li on the basis of pre-crime evidence? Were they supposed to wire-tap his subconscious or consult psychics on likely murders in Manitoba that day? It doesn’t make any sense.

And in what way is the federal government responsible? Are they responsible for preventing you from seeing anything unpleasant throughout your entire life? Perhaps they should be sued for the witnessing of other traumatic events, such as attending Toronto Maple Leafs games.

In fact, let’s have every witness in every court case sue everybody they can think of for having seen bad things. That way we can make everybody responsible — and by extension, nobody in particular — for everything that happens.

What’s even more disturbing about this is that these women, who have lost beauty sleep and can’t seem to work anymore, are suing the RCMP without apparent realization of the irony that they would be the first responders to the grisly scene. Somehow I suspect the RCMP aren’t able to sue the government for every drop of blood they witness during their career.

The real martyrs? Christians

Posted December 22nd, 2010 in Canada, International, Islam by MarkOttawa

Earlier:

Christian cleansing in the Middle East

Now closer to home for those already effectively cleansed:

Canadians targeted on radical Islamic website
[It's interesting that the word "Christian" is not in the Ottawa Citizen's headline. The National Post, for a fuller version of the same story, omits "Islamic": "Website targets Coptic Christians". A curious example of fair and balanced.]

The RCMP is aware of an al-Qaeda linked website that has posted the names of Coptic Christian Canadians it accuses of trying to “tarnish the image of Islam.”

The names are among hundreds listed on the Shumukh-al-Islam site which is known to support Osama bin Laden’s terrorist organization.

In many cases, the citations include photos and telephone numbers, which security experts fear could be used by radical Muslims to inflict harm.

The three web pages of names target Coptic Christians, typically of Arab-Egyptian origin, all over the world.

The RCMP wouldn’t say whether an investigation is underway, but Sgt. Julie Gagnon noted the force would “not hesitate to take action if there is evidence that criminal activity is being committed.”

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service also refused to discuss specific cases, but noted it’s “aware” of certain web-sites that “support or incite terrorist violence” and that it is mandated to “investigate such threats.”

Among those targeted was Canadian Coptic Association media spokesman Samuel Tawadrous.

“They are accusing me and other people of false things,” said Tawadrous who added he is “not afraid.”

“Copt” and “Egypt” have the same Greek root. The Copts in Egypt were recently persecuted as a side-effect of swine flu:


A wave of anti-Coptic feeling prompted the recent mass slaughter of pigs in Egypt, officially sanctioned to stop the spread of swine flu. Many Copts work as rubbish collectors in the big cities, and pigs are used to feed on discarded food and remains. The move appeared to be directed at the Copts while reinforcing the Muslim view of pigs as unclean.

Copts are the oldest and largest Christian community in the Middle East. Representing between 10 and 20 per cent of Egypt’s population of 80 million, they claim descent from the church brought to Alexandria by St Mark during the reign of the emperor Claudius, and call themselves the Church of St Mark. For centuries Copts formed the majority in Egypt, until the advent of Islam in 641…

Where are our progressives decrying Christophobia?

Mark
Ottawa

Afstan: A woman commanding Canadian infantry/An intrepid Mountie/Is COIN working?

Posted December 12th, 2010 in Afghanistan, Canada, united states by MarkOttawa

Read all about the Canadians, and more, at Milnews.ca’s daily round-up.  Plus a major Washington Post story on the US Marines practicing COIN in Helmand à la Petraeus (with photo gallery):

Nawa turns into proving ground for U.S. strategy in Afghan war

Yesterday:

“Afghanistan: Progress-more needs to be done”/”Bleak Intelligence Brief”/Polish Update

Mark
Ottawa

A Discreditable Justice System

Posted October 18th, 2010 in British Columbia by Adrian MacNair


Photograph: Darryl Dyck, Canadian Press

There was a sudden denouement for the trial stemming from the 2003 RCMP raids on the BC legislature today, but it was as anticlimactic as my grade seven baking soda volcano science project. I haven’t been this disappointed since George Lucas unwisely decided to ruin my childhood memories by creating three Star Wars prequels.

What is most frustrating about the fact that the Basi-Virk trial ends with a slap on the wrist that wouldn’t disturb the baby powder on an infant’s rear end, is that the senior ranking members of the Liberal Party, such as Mr.Nine-percent-approval-rating himself, won’t be testifying under oath. And other than the fact that Dave Basi and Bob Virk will have to spend a lot of extra time watching House on satellite television for the next two years, the two former federal Liberal insiders can still go to work, shop and exercise away from their residence.

As for the “other Basi”, the man accused of laundering money through the BC Liberal Party, he’s as free as the metaphorical bird. If this sort of miscarriage of justice was the status quo, one would have to modify the expression to the more straightforward descriptor, abortion.

All that’s left from this mess that has taken nearly a decade to sort through is how much it has cost the BC taxpayer. Although for those already adjusted to 9 years of BC Liberal rule, the revelation of wasted time and money does little more than add a checkmark on a line item list that includes the carbon tax and the HST.

The co-defendants pleaded guilty today in order to receive house arrest and community service for a crime widely regarded as one of the most corrupt in Canadian history. Basi and Virk both admitted to receiving bribes in exchange for providing insider information about bids on the sale of BC Rail to other railway companies. What remains a mystery is to what extent the two worked with government insiders and Liberals. And now we’ll likely never know.

Perhaps the only silver lining in this fetid swamp water is the fact that the BC Liberal politicians can no longer hide behind the excuse that the case is “before the courts.” But it remains unlikely that an obfuscatory expert like Gordon Campbell will blurt out the truth while the media makes a halfhearted effort to get some answers.

The most inexcusable, lamentable part is that it took this long to get a conviction. During the time the BC Liberals have been squirming on the end of the BC Rail fishhook, they have been reelected twice. For seven years the party has been able to deflect attention of the case away from themselves because it was stuck in what seemed like a quagmire of inaction.

Aside from never being given a valid reason why it’s taken seven years to send two grown men to their rooms with no supper, it’s impossible to understand why this kind of plea deal wasn’t available half a decade ago. How many government lawyers were billing out $500 hours while passing around this repugnant piñata? It may disgust you to learn than the province has been picking up the legal bills for the very defendants they were prosecuting.

The rancid reality is that this was all happily resolved just a day before former finance minister Gary Collins was due to testify before the court. What invisible hand was working for a conclusion before any details pertaining to the Liberal party could be released to the public? Last month we learned that BC Rail was riding an attractive $1-billion debt which any new buyer could use as a fat tax writeoff.

Perhaps the best thing that can be said about all of this is that we don’t need to know any more about this case than the fact that the government of the day utterly failed to deliver the truth. That alone — despite the hundred other reasons — is enough to warrant a moratorium on reelecting Liberal governments in this province.

Not to be taken seriously: What amounts to an Afghan fellow traveller/Good questions from the Toronto Star

Posted October 4th, 2010 in Afghanistan, Canada, International by MarkOttawa

Excerpts, from Terry Glavin:

Guest Post: “Malalai Joya’s Message Is Anti-Peace.”

By Babur Mawladin, President of the Canada Afghanistan Solidarity Committee [disclosure: I am a member - MC].

This week, Malalai Joya will begin her latest speaking tour of Canada. The message of Joya, who has long collaborated with Canada’s anti-war community, is that Canada is part of a foreign occupation which has invaded Afghanistan and which is unwelcome by the Afghan people.

This could not be further from the truth.

As an Afghan-Canadian, I am alarmed that another Afghan is working so hard to spread a view that is not widely held among either those in Afghanistan nor among Afghans living here in Canada…

I feel compelled to speak up because of the misinformation I believe Canadians are subjected to. The news reports only the negative, giving a skewed picture of what is really happening in Afghanistan. Further, many of those calling for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan have ulterior motives for their positions, whether it’s their alignment with ‘troops out’ organizations in western countries, to connections to the insurgents or their regional backers. When individuals such as Malalai Joya demand the withdrawal of foreign troops, before peace has been achieved, they are effectively saying they want Afghanistan to be drawn back into the darkness of the Taliban time, of civil war, of bloodshed. I can only be suspicious of someone who would take such a position…

The Taliban run a powerful propaganda machine powered by intimidation. They use leaflets, local radio stations, and the Internet to recruit new members and publish their beheadings and suicide attacks, with the primary goal of terrorizing people in Afghanistan and beyond. Canada must confront the Taliban head-on, and Canadians should question any person—Afghan or otherwise—who advocates a course of events that would ever make it possible for the Taliban to return to power or even to share power in Afghanistan.

Afghans want progress and peace, not death and destruction. Malalai Joya, and her call for the world community to abandon Afghanistan, has failed to speak up for Afghanistan, and for Afghans.

Meanwhile the Toronto Star asks ever more relevant, and urgent, questions in an editorial:

What role will Canada play?

What exactly does Prime Minister Stephen Harper have in mind by way of a role for Canada in Afghanistan after our combat mission ends next year? And when does he plan to let Parliament in on the plan? Time is running short.

As the Afghan war drags into a 10th year, most Canadians are eager to bring home our 2,800 troops next summer, period. And Harper’s own preference is to shift to a “strictly civilian” role…

Afghanistan has been a graveyard of hopes before [note that the Star had the wit not to write "empires"--see "Incorrigible Koring of the Globe and unconquerable Afghans: Extraneous and erroneous"]. Still, this is shaping up to be a pivotal moment. The Prime Minister should tell us how the government sees things playing out and what it is prepared to contribute going forward [for one possible hint see the "detective work" link here].

Earlier:

Afstan: News you won’t see in our media (plus some Great Gaming)

In the name of God, go?

Afstan: We’re outta there, gone, lock, stock and no smoking barrels (nor memos in Kabul)

The last command…/”political cowardice” Upperdate

Mark
Ottawa

“Terrorism”: Globe and Mail reporters still at it/Toronto Star does point the finger

Posted August 27th, 2010 in Afghanistan, Canada, International, Islam by MarkOttawa

Yesterday:

“Terrorism” update: Globe and Mail version/Toronto Star broad strata news

Today in the Globe it’s the fault of our war in Afstan, a PR exercise, and “fanciful teenagers”:

Terror plot would have brought Afghan war home to Canada

The Canadian citizens accused of belonging to an Ottawa terrorist cell allegedly planned to fund the purchase of weapons for Canada’s enemies in Afghanistan and had been trained to launch Afghan-style IED attacks in the Canadian capital. Had such a plot succeeded, it would have brought Canada’s Afghan war home with murderous effect….

A decade after the 9/11 attacks changed America and the world, the latest arrests will be held up as evidence that the threat of extremism is undiminished [emphasis added, it's in fact been said: '"Canada is not immune to terrorism," Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said from Winnipeg on Thursday. "We are not immune from international or home-grown radicalization."'].  Six years ago, officers stormed a suburban Ottawa house to arrest 24-year-old Momin Khawaja, unearthing a small arsenal of weapons and circuitry before successfully prosecuting him as a terrorist. Four years ago, police in Toronto raided homes of 18 young suspects, including a 20-year-old ringleader who videotaped himself testing a prototype bomb detonator.

Officials point out the latest accused are educated professionals clustered around 30 years old – and not, as in past busts, fanciful teenagers with violent fantasies [emphasis added, what about Mr Khawaja?]…

Such as this fantasist?

‘Toronto 18′ mastermind gets life sentence

Whatever the writers of the story are, they are not reporters. Then, in a truly broad strata editorial, the Globe manages never to mention the “I” word (nor, it must be noted, did minister Toews):


The question for Canada is how to protect against a threat that cannot be stereotyped, or fought by profiling based on age, appearance or education…

It is a nasty world in which one cannot trust a brother or sister, or a hockey-playing Canadian medical graduate who sings Avril Lavigne songs…

On the other hand a Toronto Star editorial, to give them credit, is not so stupidly politically correct:


Raised Muslim voices are a vital element in thwarting jihadist terror, along with good policing and vigilant courts.

Update: As for Afghanistan:

Afstan: “We have not even bothered to try”

Upperdate: John Robson on the arrests and their repercussions on CFRA Ottawa:


Friday, August 27, 2010
John Robson in the Morning- Aug 27
Madely in the Morning – 8:10am — Every Friday, John Robson, CFRA Commentator at Large, and Ottawa Citizen Columnist, joins Steve Madely (Mark Sutcliffe fills in) for an hour to discuss the world’s news and his take on it. John also reveals his top 5 strange stories of the week!

Not enough Robson for you? Visit THEJohnRobson.com for more!
mp3 (click here to download)

Mark
Ottawa

“Terrorism” update: Globe and Mail version/Toronto Star broad strata news

Posted August 26th, 2010 in Canada, International by MarkOttawa

Further to this post,

CBC objectivity: ‘”TERRORISM” ARRESTS: Police arrest 2 Ottawa residents’

Globe reporters seem to think the arrests are all part of security agencies’ and the government’s, er, agenda:


For Canada’s embattled security agencies, the bust may help show that CSIS and the RMCP remain relevant in terms of fighting terrorism.

They spent more than a year on the investigation and will specify charges Thursday morning at a joint press conference while the accused make their initial court appearance under heavy security.

The roundup will add fuel to the federal government’s continued insistence that Canada is not immune from the threat of terrorism…

So it’s all PR, right?  But the “broad strata of our society” do seem represented; this is news:

Third terror suspect was ‘Canadian Idol’ contestant

Mark
Ottawa

The Needle And The Damage Done

Posted August 23rd, 2010 in Canada by Adrian MacNair

Macleans writer John Geddes undeniably has a captivating yarn to read about alleged RCMP and federal Conservative influence into the Vancouver “Safe Injection” facility, Insite, that is publicly funded by Health Canada. The story contains assertions that the RCMP brass in Ottawa went out of their way to scientifically disprove the peer-reviewed medical research that Insite delivers “positive impacts” of supervised injections for intravenous drug users.

According to the article, the RCMP almost held a press conference to announce a reversal of policy on Insite, and express their support for the benefits and positive impacts that such a facility presents for both drug users and society at large. But that press conference never happened, contends the article, because of possible political interference from Ottawa.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Conservatives have had a hand in trying to shut down Insite, but it is a little unusual to learn that the RCMP themselves spent federal tax dollars funding research into studies that would scientifically corroborate their predetermined ideological view of the supervised injection site. At the heart of the Geddes article is a strong suggestion that Industry Minister Tony Clement has had direct influence in ordering the RCMP to tow the line on the Conservative Party’s stated opposition to Insite.

The mistake in this whole business appears not to be the opposition of Insite, but the attempt to argue against the facility from scientific, rather than ideological reasons. I think that anybody who honestly assesses the “harm reduction” philosophy of Insite’s medical mandate, would agree that supervised drug injection has measurable benefits.

Providing clean syringes, sanitized conditions, and supervised administration of heroin, has prevented the spread of HIV and Hepatitis, while treating a recorded 400 overdoses on the scene. Nobody has ever died in the facility, and counsellors and social workers are always standing by with the offer of rehabilitation and assistance in kicking the drug habit.

But there are two problems with a medically supervised injection site from where I’m standing.

The first is that, unlike a country like Portugal that has similar facilities and drug treatment, our laws have not decriminalized drug use. A logical extension to drug treatment would be to continue to make selling drugs illegal, but to remove all criminal penalties for those taking drugs, so that there is never a stigma attached to seeking help for drug abuse. It is because possession of certain narcotics are still illegal, that many conservatives have an ethical problem with administering aid in their use.

The second problem is that medically supervised narcotic use isn’t a privately funded affair. The concept that public tax dollars are being used in a form of blackmail — i.e.: it’s cheaper to treat them now, than later when they get HIV and require millions of dollars in public health aid — is undeniably a difficult means of gaining public support.

There is certainly no excuse for either the Conservative government, members within, or the RCMP itself, to go out of its way to find scientific evidence that Insite does not provide the kind of harm reduction claims it makes. That is like seeking for truth in a logically backward process; you arrive at a conclusion, and then attempt to discover whether that conclusion is supported by evidence.

But the objection to Insite by conservatives has been, and should continue to be, based upon the simple argument of whether the ends justify the means. If one believes that publicly-disbursed tax dollars should not go toward the facilitation of illicit drug use of a harmful narcotic because of the principle that it is unethical, then that person is obliged by his conscience to oppose such a facility, regardless of the alleged scientific benefits. The net reduction of harm to society does not justify government assistance in the taking of a harmful substance.

Unfortunately the Conservatives haven’t taken a clear and unequivocal stand that this is an ethical matter, and not one of how much harm is being reduced. Nor does Insite seem to be consistent with the Conservative ideology that drug abuse is immoral, as evidenced by their increased penalties even for drugs considered relatively innocuous, such as marijuana. Indeed, a drug injection site under medical supervision would not be fully effective within a mandate of net harm reduction without an absolute decriminalization for all drug use.

It isn’t that the Conservatives are wrong here; it’s that they’re being inconsistent by trying to fight an ideological issue with science.

The last command…/”political cowardice” Upperdate

Posted August 23rd, 2010 in Afghanistan, Canada, united states by MarkOttawa

…of our Afghan combat mission:

Kingston man to lead troops
AFGHANISTAN: Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner will oversee mission until July 2011

A Kingston man is next in line to be the head of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan.

Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner will deploy to Afghanistan on Aug. 31 to take over as Commander of Joint Task Force Afghanistan from Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance.

Milner was quarterback for the Frontenac High School Falcons, which beat Regiopolis-Notre Dame in the 1979 Kingston area football championships by a score of 2-1.

Milner said he will be in command a total of 5,000 soldiers in Joint Task Force, including roughly 3,000 Canadian soldiers [see last link at end of post].

He said his nine-month term as commander will be a crucial period in the Kandahar region, where Canadian Forces are based.

“My particular area will be a big focus in the coming months,” he said. “Kandahar is one of the main focuses to resolve. It’s getting a lot of the heat and light.

“There’s a realization that a lot of the insurgents are working in the area and they’re having an impact on Kandahar City [more on the city].”

With Canadian Forces scheduled to begin withdrawal from Afghanistan by the time Milner finishes his term in July 2011, he said one of his main goals is to create a stable environment for whatever organization takes over the Canadian post.

“We’ll make a smooth transition to some NATO force or the Afghans themselves [almost certainly the poor bloody GIs],” he said. “Our goal is to hand a lot of responsibilities to the Afghan national army and Afghan national police as well.”

Milner said he’s designated one particular district under his command that shows potential to be completely Afghan-run.

“In the district of Dand, I’m confident that we can get the Afghans in the right direction,” he said [more here].

“This is a district has the right Afghan leadership, it’s got Afghan national police that have recently been well trained and we’re going to put in the Afghan national army.”..

Milner said preparing much of the Canadian military infrastructure for removal come July will be a task unique to his term as commander [more here].

He will receive an additional team of 200 around December to begin disassembling equipment…

Milner said he has planned his term with the understanding that Canadian Forces will move out on schedule in July.

“We’ve worked very closely with the Afghan national army and the leadership. We’ve established some very close ties so leaving won’t be easy but the bottom line is it’s going to happen [emphasis added].”..

Offical biography here (via Spotlight on Military News and International Affairs):


http://www.cmp-cpm.forces.gc.ca/dsa-dns/images_officer/milner_BGen_Jun_10.png

Meanwhile, in a district that was once the CF’s responsibility:

United States, Afghan forces prepare for major assault on the birthplace of the Taliban

HOWZ-E-MADAD, Afghanistan – As Lt. Col. Peter N. Benchoff prepares for an assault next month into the birthplace of the Taliban, he doesn’t sugarcoat the hurdles his troops face in this crucial swath of southern Afghanistan.

“Security sucks. Development? Nothing substantial. Information campaign? Nobody believes us. Governance? We’ve had one, hour-long visit by a government official in the last 2 1/2 months,” the battalion commander says. “Taliban is the home team here.”

“Here” is 116 square miles (300 square kilometres) of Zhari, a district just west of Kandahar through which the insurgents funnel fighters, drugs, explosives and stage attacks into the city…

Earlier:

Canadian tragedy in Afghanistan”…

Afstan flash: One and half cheers for Peter MacKay/Dipper Update

Taking the“Can” out of Kandahar

Update: Some interesting observations about President Karzai’s plan to ban private security firms at BruceR.’s Flit.

Upperdate: After the last command:

Ottawa maps out post-combat role in Afghanistan
Internal documents reveal Ottawa’s vision for a ‘strictly civilian mission’ after 2011

A spring 2010 PowerPoint presentation, stamped “Secret, Canadian Eyes Only,” offers further evidence of how solidly committed Ottawa is to ending the military mission in Afghanistan despite pressure from allies to keep a combat force there.

The presentation, obtained under an access to information request for records from Chief of Defence Staff General Walt Natynczyk’s office, quotes Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s January, 2010, pledge that Afghanistan “will become a strictly civilian mission after 2011.”..

Defence officials said privately Monday the document was authored by the Privy Council Office – the central bureaucratic agency that serves the prime minister and is helping steer the Afghanistan mission.

…A Tory senator and even senior Liberals have talked up the prospect of keeping a soldiering force in the south-central Asian country past that date [2011, more here].

But Mr. Harper has been adamant that Canada’s combat mission – which has claimed the lives of 151 soldiers – will cease in 2011…

Canada’s post-2011 funding would include $9.7-million to support the RCMP’s international training program that deploys Mounties to Afghanistan to train local police [emphasis added]…

The presentation says that the “U.S., NATO and [other] allies” have asked for post-2011 contributions including training Afghan National Security Forces – a job that could require Canadian soldiers to stay behind…

So it’s OK for Mounties to stay on training the Afghan police but not for the CF to stay on doing non-combat training for the Afghan army. There is absolutely no logic in that, just political cowardice since the RCMP’s role has not been controvesial. Fie and hurl.

Mark
Ottawa

Why Do It For Free When You Can Waste Taxpayer Dollars?

Posted August 4th, 2010 in British Columbia by Adrian MacNair


Oops. Wrong Graphic. Now how did that get in there?

The B.C. RCMP website used to allow users to translate a news release into French by using a link to Google’s translation tool, but that option has since been removed after a complaint by the CBC’s French-language department, Radio-Canada. In response, the RCMP caved, and removed the option from the website while they attempt to find a translator in the province who speaks French.

Given the demographics of B.C., that won’t be easy. French only accounts for about 1.41% of the population here.

[Note - to nip any long-form census nonsense in the bud, the mandatory short form census still asks what language is spoken in the home. Question 7: What is the language that this person first learned at home in childhood and still understands?]

Exchanging the instantaneous, free Google translate tool for a live body means that French-speaking people in the province will have to wait several days for news releases to be “officially” translated. But until they can hire somebody full-time, it’s sending its news releases off to Public Works Canada for translation at a cost of about $3,000 a day:

“After an internal examination, the RCMP has decided to remove Google Translate for French translation of news releases,” RCMP spokesman Insp. Tim Shields confirmed Tuesday.

“It’s disappointing, because now French-language visitors to the website will not be able to read news releases in their own language instantly when they are posted.”

Under the Official Languages Act, federal government agencies — like the RCMP — are required to communicate with the public in both English and French.

I’m sure French-Canadians in British Columbia would like to take this time to thank the CBC, and in particular Radio-Canada, for bringing this to the attention of the RCMP. It’s certainly heartening to know that the budget of the RCMP is being spent on $3,000 a day translations, when it could be spent on things like police work.

Apparently the South Asian community doesn’t have the same problem Radio-Canada does. The BC RCMP website will still offer Google Translate in Mandarin and Punjabi.

Oh, and here’s a tip for those not in the know. You don’t need a button to link to Google Translate. For instance, do you want to read this post in French? Copy and past the web address into the Google Language Tools address bar. Et viola! Maintenant je peux lire mon français! Hooray!

Earlier

Mother Corpse keeps mouldering in her Talib grave