Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Detainee abuse: Who Knew? Every MP. Since 2004.

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, everyone wants to know who knew what and when with regard to Afghan detainees being tortured after being turned over by Canadian Forces. The evidence is piling up and it's starting to look like everyone in Ottawa knew and they knew almost from the get-go.

As early as February 2004, the antiwar group Lawyers Against War sent a legal brief to PM Paul Martin and all MPs. Here's part of it:
"The transfer by Canadian soldiers effectively deprives transferred prisoners their rights and leaves the determination of their status, treatment, trial and punishment subject solely to the arbitrary standards President Bush and his advisors determine.Those potentially liable under this statute [Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act] include the person committing the offence(s), his/her military commander(s) and his/her superior(s). Superior is defined in this statute as a 'person in authority other than a military commander.’ Both offences carry penalties of up to life in prison.

Clearly the interests of Canadian soldiers and prisoners alike require that the legality of prisoner transfer be determined before further transfers occur. In view of the U.S. demonstrated refusal to afford prisoner of war status to the prisoners pending determination, Canada is obliged by Article 12 to request the return of prisoners transferred by Canadian soldiers. The legality of the transfers ought to be referred immediately to the Supreme Court of Canada."
Lawyers Against War (LAW) has written an open letter to the Parliamentary Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan. In the December 21, 2009 letter, LAW cites several official reports made to the UN regarding the abuse of transferred detainees. These notifications didn't start in May 2007 as Peter MacKay tried to tell us. As early as March 2005, the UN was informed of "reasonable grounds to believe that prisoners in Afghanistan were being subjected to torture."

LAW's latest letter to the Afghanistan Committee reiterates what yesterday's testimony to the committee asserts: The abuse is still happening.

On Twitter yesterday, David Akin asked "What's the rush?" regarding in the Afghanistan Committee wanting to hold meetings during the Christmas parliamentary recess. The Conservative MPs on the committee are boycotting, saying there's nothing urgent to discuss.

But the committee is hearing that detainees are being tortured now... today. That's the rush. That's the urgency.

Enjoy your eggnog.



Here is the entire open letter as published here and here:

Monday, December 21, 2009

Open letter to the Parliamentary Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan

Dear Committee Members:

Chair: Rick Casson, Vice-chair: Bryon Wilfert, Members: Jim Abbott, Ujjal Dosanjh, Francine Lalonde, Claude Bachand, Laurie Hawn, Dave MacKenzie, Paul Dewar, Greg Kerr, Deepak Obhrai:

Lawyers against the War (LAW) urges the Parliamentary Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan to recommend:

The immediate cessation of transfers of people taken prisoner in Afghanistan (prisoners) by Canada, to third countries, including Afghanistan; and,

That Canada immediately undertake effective protective and remedial measures with respect to all prisoners already transferred by Canada to third countries; and,

The creation of a judicial inquiry mandated to inquire into allegations that the transfers violate Canadian and international law and to recommend the civil and criminal remedies required by law.

Concerned Canadians know that people taken captive in Afghanistan and transferred to either U.S. or Afghan custody are at risk of torture and other grave violations of their internationally protected rights. The facts establishing the illegality of the transfer of prisoners have been a matter public record since, at the latest, early 2004. Under Canadian and international law transfer to risk of such harm violates both Canadian and international law. Knowledge of the applicable law is presumed.

Evidence that Canada was and is, violating Canadian and international law by transferring people taken captive in Afghanistan to either U.S. or Afghan authorities has long been part of the public record. Since November 13 20011, the world has known that the U.S. intended to illegally detain non-Americans taken prisoner in Afghanistan and to deny them access to properly constituted courts and other due process in violation of international law.2 The world has known since February 7, 20023 that such prisoners transferred into U.S. custody would be denied the protection of the Geneva Conventions and subjected to whatever treatment, including torture and/or other prohibited treatment, the President or Secretary of Defense arbitrarily determined was ‘required by the exigencies of the war on terror’. By the end of September 2004, concerned people and those in positions of responsibility knew, from the report of the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan, that prisoners were routinely subjected to torture and other internationally prohibited treatment in both Afghan-run and U.S.-run prisons within Afghanistan.4

Statements by Canadian officials that there was no torture or that, if there was they didn’t know about it, ring hollow and remind us of similar statements by U.S. officials. Suggestions by Canadian officials that the law doesn’t apply to ‘those people’ also remind us of the statements of the Bush administration to justify treatment of people taken captive in Afghanistan. Such statements do not alter the known fact that these transfers violate the internationally protected rights of prisoners: nor do they alter the law. Canada has the legal duty to act effectively to ensure that past violations are remedied and future violations prevented. It is instructive to consider that some U.S. officials who used their status to facilitate the illegal detention and treatment of people taken prisoner in Afghanistan are now being prosecuted5 and sued for damages for torture.6

Some of the reports detailing evidence of the likelihood and/or certainty that prisoners transferred to either U.S. or Afghan authorities would be subjected to criminal violations of their internationally protected rights including, but not limited to torture, are cited below. The Prime Minister and other political authorities responsible for ensuring adherence to the law received notice of these reports. They had a duty to ensure that military leaders were properly advised and instructed as a result.

On 11 March 2005, the Report of the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan, M. Cherif Bassiouni, to the UN Commission on Human Rights, indicated there were reasonable grounds to believe that prisoners in Afghanistan were being subjected to torture. Professor Bassiouni reported that while he had difficulty gaining access to detention facilities, he had interviewed prisoners who alleged that, “ …Coalition forces and special units of the Afghan security agencies and police act above and beyond the reach of the law by engaging in arbitrary arrests and detentions and committing abusive practices, including torture.” (paragraph 5) Professor Bassiouni also reported a grave situation with regard to, “The absence of due process in the arrest and detention of persons and the use of torture by various government intelligence entities, including those associated with the National Security Directorate, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of the Interior;” (paragraph 8.c)

On February 1, 2006, the Afghanistan Compact, created at the London Conference, January 31-February 1, 2006, acknowledged that torture of prisoners was a systemic problem that could only be successfully remedied over a long period of time and set the following goal, “By end-2010: The Government’s capacity to comply with and report on its human rights treaty obligations will be strengthened; Government security and law enforcement agencies will adopt corrective measures including codes of conduct and procedures aimed at preventing arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, extortion and illegal expropriation of property with a view to the elimination of these practices;”

On March 6, 2007 the U.S. State Department Report on Afghanistan reported that, “…human rights organizations reported that local authorities in Herat, Helmand, Badakhshan, and other locations continued to routinely torture and abuse detainees. Torture and abuse consisted of pulling out fingernails and toenails, burning with hot oil, beatings, sexual humiliation, and sodomy.”

On March 6, 2007, Lawyers against the War, sent a letter to Stephen Harper, Peter MacKay, Rob Nicholson and Gordon O’Connor, advising that, “Evidence clearly indicates that people transferred to U.S. or Afghan custody are at risk of criminal rights violations including serious injury or death. By transferring people to risk of such harm, Canada is violating its legal duty to uphold Canadian and international law and Canadians responsible for the transfers are exposed to possible criminal liability. We urge you act to ensure immediate strict adherence to applicable laws: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment, the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, Geneva Conventions Act, Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Criminal Code, and Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act.”

On April 25, 2007, the Liu Institute on Global Issues of the University of British Columbia submitted a complaint, War Crime and the transfer of detainees from Canadian custody in Afghanistan, to the International Criminal Court (ICC) asking that General Hillier and others be investigated for possible war crimes in the transfer of prisoners in Afghanistan. Professors Michael Byers of the University of British Columbia and William Schabas, Director of the Irish Human Rights Centre, advised the ICC prosecutor that, “…we are concerned that Minister O’Connor and General Hillier might wilfully be placing detainees at risk of torture, cruel treatment and outrages upon personal dignity. If so, they would appear to be violating Articles 8 and 25 (and perhaps Article 7) of the Rome Statutes of the International Criminal Court.”

o On March 4, 2008, Alex Neve Secretary General of Amnesty International/Canada gave this evidence to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development regarding prisoners apprehended by Canadian troops, “Amnesty International first raised concerns about this issue in early 2002, when Canada first deployed in Afghanistan. At that point, our concerns were with respect to the policy of handing over detainees to U.S. forces and the likelihood of such prisoners ending up at Bagram Air Base or Guantánamo Bay. That approach came to an end in December 2005, with the first agreement between Canada and Afghanistan, under which prisoners were to be transferred into Afghan custody, with indications that the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission would play a role in monitoring.

We immediately stressed that it had not solved the problem, given the widespread, longstanding reality of torture throughout the Afghan prison system. We urged Canada to consider a different approach, one that would accord with our international obligations.”

On February 1, 2004 LAW sent a legal brief to the Prime Ministers and other Members of Parliament advising that the transfer of prisoners in Afghanistan violated the law,

“The transfer by Canadian soldiers effectively deprives transferred prisoners their rights and leaves the determination of their status, treatment, trial and punishment subject solely to the arbitrary standards President Bush and his advisors determine.

Those potentially liable under this statute [Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act] include the person committing the offence(s), his/her military commander(s) and his/her superior(s). Superior is defined in this statute as a ‘person in authority other than a military commander.’ Both offences carry penalties of up to life in prison.

Clearly the interests of Canadian soldiers and prisoners alike require that the legality of prisoner transfer be determined before further transfers occur. In view of the U.S. demonstrated refusal to afford prisoner of war status to the prisoners pending determination, Canada is obliged by Article 12 to request the return of prisoners transferred by Canadian soldiers. The legality of the transfers ought to be referred immediately to the Supreme Court of Canada.

In June 2008, Maj. General Antonio M. Taguba (USA-Ret.), author of the U.S. Army’s 2004 internal report on Abu Ghraib wrote, “…After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current [Bush] administration has committed war crimes."7

Those same words apply to Canada’s transfer of prisoners in Afghanistan: there is no longer any doubt that the transfers are illegal. Neither is there any doubt that the law requires that the transfers be stopped, the violations investigated, identified and remedied and further violations prevented. While the personal knowledge of the Canadian officials in command of the transfers may be germaine to future legal suits, this factor does not and cannot alter Canada’s legal duties now or then.

LAW urges the Committee to act responsibly to uphold the law: to stop the transfers, ensure the identification of and remedies for past violations and to prevent future violations.

Respectfully submitted.

Gail Davidson, Lawyers against the War.

Copied to:

The Clerk of the Committee is Carmen DePape

Members of Parliament



1. Military Order of November 13, 2001, Detention, Treatment, and Trial of Certain Non-Citizens in the War Against Terrorism.

2. Denial of fair trial rights is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and a crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act.

3. Humane Treatment of Taliban and Al Qaeda Detainees, February 7, 2002 memorandum from President Bush.

4. Report of the Independent Expert of the Commission on Human Rights on the Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan. U.N. GAOR. 59th Sess. Agenda Item 105(c). U.N. Doc. A/59/370. September 21, 2004.

5. For example, in April 2009, the Spanish National Court accepted a criminal torture complaint against former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, William Haynes II, former general counsel for the Department of Defense; John Yoo, the former Justice Department lawyer who wrote secret legal opinions saying President George W. Bush had the authority to circumvent the Geneva Conventions; Douglas Feith, former undersecretary of defense for policy; Jay Bybee, Yoo's former boss at the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel; and David Addington, chief of staff and legal adviser to ex-Vice President Dick Cheney.

6. For example, in Padilla v. Yoo U.S. filed in the District Court for the Northern District of California, Padilla claims damages for deprivation of constitutional rights against John Yoo for, during his tenure in the Office of Legal Counsel for the U.S. Justice Department, authoring memos purporting to legally justify “enhanced interrogation techniques” used on Padilla. Yoo advised, inter alia, that interrogation methods were not torture unless they caused pain “equivalent to the intensity of the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.” Dismissing Yoo’s application to dismiss the suit, the U.S. District Court ruled that Yoo, had “set in motion events that resulted in the deprivation of the Padilla’s constitutional rights” and that, “government lawyers are responsible for the foreseeable consequences of their conduct”

7. Preface to Broken Laws, Broken Lives: Medical Evidence of Torture by U.S. Personnel and its Impacts, A Report by Physicians for Human Rights, June 2008.

Friday, December 18, 2009

More Brown Stuff Hits the Fan - Canada Tortured Detainee

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, I been startin' my days lately by readin' the MSM's latest bombshells on the disgraceful Afghan detainee scandal. A day doesn't go by without more proverbial shit hittin' the proverbial fan.

I also indulge my masochistic bent by reading the hundreds of comments at the Globe, CBC and CTV. For the most part, I am somewhat encouraged by the "thumbs-up, thumbs-down" tallies. The voting on comments, while entirely unscientific, lend support to the basic belief that Canadians, by and large, do not want our country's reputation tainted by war crimes. Of course, there are plenty of notable exceptions.

There are several tactics/arguments the apologists for torture use in the MSM comment boards.
  1. It's just Afghans torturing Afghans, nothing to do with Canada.
  2. Nobody Cares
  3. Even if people do care, Martin Started it
  4. If you criticize a Conservative cabinet minister you are attacking “the troops”
  5. Adscam, Adscam, Adscam
  6. They are terrorist scumbags and deserve torture
  7. The 23 former ambassadors who are criticizing were Liberal appointees
  8. Even if they aren’t terrorists they live in the same neighbourhood as terrorists and how are CF personnel supposed to know the difference?
  9. The first casualty of war is truth. SOP.
  10. It didn’t happen.
  11. If it happened, it only happened to a few of them.
  12. Even if it happened to more than a few of them, it didn’t happen to ALL of them.
    (h/t to Balbulican at Stageleft)
Today's particular bombshell may be one of the most devastating. A Canadian Forces Sergeant, Carol Utton, reveals that it wasn't just Afghan on Afghan abuse. Here's the whole story from CP.
By ELIZABETH THOMPSON - Parliamentary Bureau

OTTAWA — A new report has surfaced that suggests an Afghan detainee might have been mistreated while in Canadian Forces custody.

Global National reported Thursday night that a military police sergeant says not only was an Afghan detainee mistreated and kept for days in a tiny cell that reached intolerable temperatures, but that superiors ignored warnings.

In an interview with the Military Police Complaints Commission, Sgt. Carol Utton said an order in the spring of 2007 halted detainee transfers. One prisoner was still in custody, in a walled compound on the base with eight cells designed to hold prisoners no more than 96 hours.

Utton said the temperature reached 60 C in the cells. The soldiers tried to help him with bottles of frozen water, but the prisoner screamed and yelled.

However, Ottawa headquarters initially wouldn’t allow the prisoner to be released and ignored warnings about conditions in the cells, Utton said.

“We felt (Ottawa HQ) didn’t care,” Utton told the commission. “Nobody in Canada gave a crap.”

Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s office said the Global National report was the first they had heard of the incident and they’ve asked the defence department for more information.


Ottawa was informed that Canada was keeping a detainee in a 60° C cell but the troops on the ground "felt (Ottawa HQ) didn’t care,” Utton told the commission. “Nobody in Canada gave a crap.”

The other new story today comes from the Globe & Mail: The Buck Stopped Nowhere. I'm not sure if it's another attempt by the government to shirk responsibility and accountability. It lends credence to the contention that "We didn't know." But, it begs the questions, "Why didn't they know? Why did they adamantly deny abuse when, according to the latest dirt, they didn't know whether or not abuse was happening?"

Over the next couple weeks, many of us will be socializing and enjoying time with our families and loved ones. Rather than proroguing our consciences, we can use the festive season to keep the issue on the front burner. I've already been steering discussions away from hockey and home renovations.

Conversation starter: "Thanks for the eggnog. Boy, this Afghan detainee thing is really a mess, ain't it?"

Peace on Earth. Goodwill to men.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Current Detainee Transfer Agreement Failing

The Globe has a story on how the current transfer agreement is failing. Seems we really don't know what's happening to those we turn over. What's more, CF troops are reporting that they capture the same enemy fighters again and again.

Like almost every other aspect of this story, those of us who were paying attention knew about this long ago.

Indulge me a moment, please. Here's the bulk of a blog post I wrote in March 2008.

60%-70% of prisoners handed over to Afghan authorities are only held only briefly before they are able to bribe their way out of jail. See:

Q: Why do we fail to follow up on detainees to make sure they do not pay $20 and go back to the Taliban front lines?

A: We are so afraid of confirming that we are in violation of international law that we look the other way while two crimes are committed: bribery and torture.

Q: Why have we given in to Afghan demands that we resume detainee transfers?

A: Afghan soldiers and police only make $4 a day. They need the bribes to survive. Bribery has been an integral part of the Afghan economy for centuries. If we keep the detainees or follow up on their treatment, Afghan soldiers and police lose the opportunity for much needed extra cash.

Many so-called Taliban who are delivered for bounty to NATO forces are not Taliban at all. Tribal and family rivalries routinely see Afghans kidnapped for ransom or turned over to NATO, then by NATO to Afghans. From there, the age old system of bribery, pay-offs and torture goes into effect.

Detainees are released AFTER being tortured sufficiently enough to induce the detainees' relatives (or fellow Taliban) to cough up bribe money.

The failure of the detainee agreement is demonstrably putting out troops at unnecessary risk. Now. Not back in 2002-2006. Now.

Chew on that, Hillier-MacKay-O'Conner-Harper-Cannon-Baird.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Elizabeth May's Nomination: Challenges and Opportunities

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, the gal I adore, Earth Mother Lizzie May, got the nomination to run out on Vancouver Island in the Saanich Gulf Islands riding. Green Party blogger Camille Labchuk wrote up a blog on it and there's some comment action over there. Commenter Mark Francis brought up a couplafew points regardin' Ignatieff's less-than-stellar environmental stance vis-a-vis the tar sands, incumbent Gary Lunn's vulnerability and the need for getting "boots on the ground." Here's my response recycled:

Mark makes some good points. Every candidate will have some baggage. For the Libs, Ignatieff’s environmental intransigence will be serious baggage for small-g green voters. He’s on record supporting nukes, too. His militaristic support for Bush’s Iraq invasion/fiasco doesn’t really speak well for his international savvy, either, and won’t play well with the stereotypical west coast flower children. Hetherington will be saddled heavily with her un-green leader.

Lunn is vulnerable on Chalk River. As Minister of Natural Resources, he was the guy who fired Linda Keen so ignominiously in the middle of the night. He was responsible for restarting the limping reactor that is now giving Canada an international black eye in the medical isotope department. So hapless was Lunn that he was relieved of that portfolio and it was handed off to the even more hapless Lisa Raitt.

Elizabeth May’s biggest piece of baggage seems to be the parachute label. If she can wrap herself in SGI issues and make herself visible enough between now and whenever the Cons get too unpalatable for Layton, she may be able to shake that off. Her environmental credentials and those of the GPC are impeccable. For small-g green voters, she should be able to capitalize on the Liberal leader’s poor environmental stance.

The Herzog flair-up will be seen by most as a sour grapes thing; internal, riding-level party power politics: no worse, better or different than what happens with every party. Elections Canada will not find anything amiss with the riding funding plan and despite some valid concerns regarding top-down party management, Herzog’s complaints will not continue to play a significant part in an election campaign.

Have the NDP nominated anyone? BC voters have the advantage of having had a provincial NDP government by which to judge the NDP’s commitment to the environment. Sure, federal NDP does not equal provincial NDP… except when the NDP wants it to.

I’m a longtime GPC member and EDA exec. I wasn’t too keen on the SGI choice but now that it is a done deal, I’ll be putting my support behind Elizabeth. The decision to run her wherever she is most electable wasn’t a top down decision but was endorsed by the rank and file. My biggest concern centres around the availability of SGI foot soldiers. When Elizabeth ran in London, the foot soldiers flocked in from Toronto and elsewhere in densely populated southern Ontario to knock on doors. I fear that sort of feet-on-the-ground support will be much more difficult to muster in SGI where the doors are further apart and the population nearby is sparser.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Electoral Reform in My Lifetime? I Doubt It.

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I was just over to POGGE's fine boog an' left me a bigass comment on the troublems with our dumbass electoral system. One o' the commenters by the name o' Greg said he figgered he only had 3 parties to choose from an' that got my Green Party hackles raised up so I lit in with a ramblin' diatribe. Here it is:

Greg said: Finally, I could withhold my vote...

There is another party that runs in all ridings and has remained steadfastly in favour of PR. While the Greens have not elected anyone, GPC support has been steadily growing and the unfairness of FPTP is driven home to more and more voters after each election.

NDP and GPC voters tend to have a better grasp on the problems with the current system simply because we are the ones most victimized by it. The two leading parties are the main beneficiaries of the unfair FPTP system and find it very easy -- and self-serving -- to deny that any problem exists.

I worked alongside my GPC candidate in the 2008 election. She was a big Fair Vote Canada campaigner and worked tirelessly in the Ontario referendum. Whenever she would bring up electoral reform, it would end up working against her. After a few such debacles, it was decided to keep the issue low key. It just didn't resonate or else it was deemed too complicated -- or a dead duck done deal due to the resounding defeat in the referendum.

Attempting to get votes, knowing full well that your party doesn't stand a chance in FPTP, can be frustrating. People will ask, "Why bother?" One of the best reasons has to be the mere fact that once a person sees his or her vote declared essentially meaningless due to FPTP, they will be more receptive and more vocal about the inherent unfairness of the current system.

When enough people start asking why a party that gets 8% or 9% of the popular votes gets 0% representation, we might stand a chance of changing the system. And, it's not just the disenfranchised GPC and NDP voters who can see the discrepancy.

Obviously, the main beneficiaries will be loathe to change a system in which they are the main beneficiaries. I'm not sure we can change that. A Liberal or Con MP who votes for a system that will deprive his party of seats will quickly be dropped from the party.

In the meantime, all we can do is vote our conscience and do our best to inform the public that we have a patently unfair system. I'm 60 YO and have lost all hope that the system will change within my lifetime. That won't stop me from pushing for change. Hey... I'm still pushing for world peace, too.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Depleted Uranium Weapons: Cancer and the Canadian Connection

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I sure ain't been doin' too much boogin' lately. I been doin' some twitterin', though. This mornin', I tweeted:

Soldier's cancer death linked to depleted uranium (DU): UK court - - Canadian DU connection -
Them there links got clicked 20 times in the first few minutes so I reckon there's some point in the Twitter. I been skeptical about Twitter but I thought I'd give it a chance after havin' a live-in-person chat with Stageleft a coupla weeks ago when I was up in Ottywa.

I ain't so sure about carryin' on conversations 140 characters at a time, so I figgered I'd expand (expound?) here on my boog where I can blather on as long as I want.

Anyways, here's a little more about how depleted uranium killed a Brit soldier.
The death of Stuart Dyson, a 39-year-old former soldier, from a rare from of cancer was caused by his exposure to depleted uranium used in military munitions, an inquest jury ruled.

The jury heard that Mr Dyson, a lance corporal in the Royal Pioneer Corps, cleaned tanks after the first Gulf War during a five-month deployment to the war zone.

His widow Elaine told the hearing that her husband's health had deteriorated after he left the Army in 1992 and that he was diagnosed with colon cancer, which spread to his liver and spleen, in 2007.


Giving evidence at the inquest, Professor Christopher Busby, an expert on the effects of uranium on health, said Mr Dyson's cancer was "more likely than not" caused by ingestion and inhalation of the substance during his service in the Gulf.


Professor Busby said he had visited Iraq in 2000 and had personally found particles of depleted uranium with dangerously high radiation levels near the wrecks of tanks destroyed during the 1991 war.

Keep in mind that DU ammo is also being used in Afghanistan and now that the US is stepping up its involvement, even more DU is likely to be used.

Also keep in mind that coalition soldiers are far more likely to get medical treatment and diagnoses than Iraqi or Afghan civilians living in the zones where this radioactive hazard is being dispersed. Destroyed vehicles and former battle grounds are routinely scavenged by children and others looking to pick up a few pennies from salvageable parts.

There's a Canadian connection to DU.

While the U.S. appears to be on the verge of attacking Iran just for having a nuclear reactor, Washington and its allies continue to be the biggest nuclear proliferators in the world. Chief among these nuclear allies is Canada, which provides up to 40% of the world’s uranium, the largest amount. Eighty percent of Canadian uranium is exported, with 76% going to the U.S.

Canada has long been the main source of uranium for the U.S. nuclear arsenal, globally the largest and deadliest at 10,000 warheads and bombs. Washington has a first-strike nuclear policy and is actively preparing for nuclear war. It is also the only country that has actually used nuclear weapons--not once, but twice, on Japan in 1945.

Q: How is Canada violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty?

Harding: Canada signed this treaty in 1970 and claimed that it would not be using uranium for weapons production. We now know that uranium out of Saskatchewan has been diverted through the depleted uranium (DU) system and has been fuelling the weapons stream. The public, I think, is largely unaware that we are still complicit directly in the weapons stream. It’s a tricky thing to track, but it goes something like this: After refining the uranium at Port Hope, we send it to the enriching system in the U.S. This system integrates both the military and the industrial uses of nuclear power. The U.S. Department of Energy and the Pentagon both take uranium from this system.

The uranium that is to be used in electrical generating nuclear reactors is concentrated to about 5%. This is uranium-235. About nine-tenths of the mass of what’s left after enrichment is called depleted uranium. This is then available to the Pentagon to use for weapons. And it’s not really depleted. That’s a misnomer. It’s still uranium. It’s primarily uranium-238, which can be put into Pentagon reactors to create plutonium. All the Pentagon needs to do is bombard the depleted uranium with neutrons and it can create a plutonium stream for weapons. Also, the depleted uranium is the packing on the H-Bomb. What makes the H-Bomb the mega-bomb is the amount of packing of the depleted uranium around the plutonium trigger.

Then the various weapons-producing companies such as Aerojet and ATK take this uranium and make the conventional depleted uranium weapons that are now contaminating probably the last four war zones in the Middle East and Southern Europe. Uranium out of Canada that’s got into the depleted uranium stream has already been dropped on Iraq during the U.S. invasion. So the weapons connection got obscured when the Non-Proliferation Treaty came, because technically the uranium is shipped to the U.S. for their reactors, but in fact the depleted uranium that’s left is then in the control of those countries. So it fundamentally abrogates the intentions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but not technically.

Q: What are the implications of Canada’s continuing support for U.S. nuclear militarism?

Harding: It’s frightening stuff to think about. We’re really talking madness here in terms of the capacity. How few of these mega-bombs it would take to create a catastrophe that makes climate change look insignificant! The U.S. had 37,000 nuclear weapons during the 1980s, armed and ready to go. And we’re talking about using a very small number of those and having disastrous global implications.

When you dig below the surface, the complicity issue is always there. It was there in Vietnam, in terms of companies in Canada exporting armaments and even chemicals that were used in the napalm bombing. And in Canada we’re still doing that around depleted uranium. It just tends to be hidden behind the public statements of us being a non-nuclear power and having made the decision to focus on exporting medical isotopes and not nuclear weapons. This is an effective PR and propaganda system, but it just doesn’t happen to be true.

Q: What are the effects of depleted uranium on humans when it is used in conventional weapons, aside from immediate death and injury?

Harding: The number of cancers and death by cancer are significantly greater (than if the depleted uranium were not present), as are permanent sterility, birth deformations, and death from birth deformation. Depleted uranium affects the whole embryonic development, as well as increasing the risks of thyroid leukemia and other childhood cancers. They are seeing increases in a number of cancers in Basra and in other areas where they know there were high levels of depleted uranium weaponry used.

There's plenty more in that interview.

I watched David Akin, Steve Paiken and a couple of nuclear proponents on TVO's The Agenda a couple nights ago. The topic was Canada's Nuclear Future. While they spent about two-thirds of the hour discussing Canada's role in the medical isotope business and the rest of the hour on nuclear energy issues, the topic of nuclear proliferation and Canada's role in supplying the raw material for nuclear weaponry was not mentioned, at all.

We cannot keep our heads buried in the sand. Canada is complicit in the proliferation of DU weaponry. Twenty or thirty years from now, some future Prime Minister will be issuing another meaningless apology and claiming we didn't know what was happening and sorry about all the cancer deaths. We do know.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

No Nukes in Nanticoke - Yippee!!

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, OL' JB ain't been doin' too much boogin' lately on accounta I been busy fightin' a bigass nuclear war down here in Nanticoke. Now, I ain't gonna say we won the war but I'm sayin' the other guys lost. Leastwise, they turned tail an' run away. Good riddance, sez I.

Bruce Power abandoned its proposal to build a new nuke plant in Nanticoke. -- Public opposition was mounting. -- The estimated price tag went from $7 billion last November to $10-$15 this May. -- Nuke investors have been walking away from proposals all over the place.

According to our MPP, 76% of folks down this way were opposed to the plant. The Ontario government said it wasn't going to buy any electricity from the dumbasses. Bruce was probbly hoping to sell the power to the Merkans. If that happened, the Merkans'd get the power; the fatcats'd get the profits; and Nanticoke'd get to store tonnes of deadly radioactive waste for a few hundred thousand years.

Over in Port Dover, they're dancin' in the streets an' gatherin' up some driftwood for a bigass bonfire on the beach.(My ol' Grannie was a Dover girl, born in 1894. I reckon she and/or some of her sisters might be in this here pitcher. I'll ask my Mum if she recognizes anyone.)

In Port Dover, they don't mince words:

Port Dover Friday 13th 03 035

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Isotope Crisis: Right Hand Hanging Left Hand Out to Dry

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, seems like these here Conservative ministers is their own worst enemies. Instead of throwin' a lifeline to their flounderin' colleagues, they sit on their hands and watch 'em splash an' drown. Instead of pullin' out the rabbit they got in their hat, they play dumb... or, are they actually just as uninformed as they let on?

While Ministers Raitt and Aglukkaq continue to demonstrate their incompetence, real progress is being made in the field of isotope production. While Prime Minister Harper tells us Canada is throwing in the towel on future isotope manufacture and supply, Canadian research and technology is moving forward achieving just what Harper says is not feasible.

One wonders why Raitt, Aglukkaq and Harper seem unable to even attempt to fend off opposition questions with real answers that would put their government in a much better light. Although it seems improbable, it appears that none of the politicians are up to speed on what is happening under their very noses.

Back in November 2008, TRIUMF : Canada's National Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear Physics, the University of British Columbia and Advanced Applied Physics Solutions, Inc. (AAPS) released a report “proposing a uniquely Canadian method for producing select medical isotopes which avoids using weapons-grade uranium and nuclear reactors.”

More recently, MDS Nordion, the same company that purchases and distributes all of the Chalk River isotopes, entered into a commercial agreement with TRIUMF “to study the feasibility of producing a viable and reliable supply of photo-fission-produced molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) used globally for diagnostic medical imaging.”

While Harper and his crew of liquidators are intent on selling the farm at bargain basement prices and abandoning Canada’s formerly respected role in the field of nuclear medicine, Canadian researchers and business interests are working outside the AECL framework to deliver much-needed isotopes using a safer, cheaper technology. While Harper and his nuclear grease monkeys are applying duct tape and Bondo to Chalk River’s 52 year old clunker, forward thinking scientists are developing an alternative source of Molybdenum-99.

While Harper and his inexperienced cabinet ministers sputter about securing isotopes from international sources, UBC, TRIUMF and MDS Nordion are forging ahead on a highly promising plan that, incredibly, was the subject of an announcement by Ministers Raitt and Aglukkaq less than two weeks ago.

Federal Gov't Takes Forward Steps on Medical Isotopes

29 May 2009

Yesterday, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources Lisa Raitt and Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq announced the Government's plan to establish an Expert Review Panel for Long-Term Isotope Supply Solutions. TRIUMF, Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, supports these steps and looks forward to contributing to the process.

Why, one wonders, did neither Raitt nor Aglukkaq point to this development when they faced tough questioning in the House? Is it possible that the announcement, though seemingly made jointly by their own offices, was unknown to the ministers?

Now, let’s move along to part two of the ministers not knowing what’s happening under their noses. This time, we have former Health Minister and current Industry Minister Tony Clement remaining silent in the House while his hapless colleagues Raitt and Aglukkaq squirm under questioning about what they are doing to ease the shortage of isotopes.

Odd, since it was just about a week earlier, on June 1, that Clement announced $22 million in new funding to upgrade McMaster University’s research reactor, part of which was designated “to expand Canada's isotope research and production capacity.” Although $22 million is a piddly amount by nuclear standards, Clement could have come to the aid of his fellow cabinet members with at least one concrete example of what Canada is doing to increase domestic isotope production. Additionally, unlike Chalk River’s NRU, the Mac reactor is currently operational and presumably could be producing some of the needed isotopes while the repairs to the NRU are being carried out.

When PM Harper told us yesterday that Canada is getting out of the isotope business, did he not know that his industry minister, just 10 short days ago, had doled out $22 million to expand Canada's isotope production capacity.

Don't these ministers talk to one another? Don't they even read their own press releases?


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Secret, Schmecret -- AECL's Incompetence Further Revealed

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, everybody's talkin' 'bout dumbass Lisa Raitt leaving secret papers behind at CTV. Par for the CPC course. Their talent pool's pretty shallow, after all. While the fact that another of Harper's Ministers can't keep tabs on secret stuff is damning, what is more interesting is the stuff itself.

Underlying all of this security breach stuff is the fact that AECL is as incompetent as the minister in charge. The AECL refurbishment up at Bruce is now known to be more than 400 days behind schedule and hundreds of millions of dollars over budget. Par for the nuclear course, I realize, but how can Ontario even consider AECL's unproven ACR-1000 design for its ridiculous $26.6 billion commitment to unneeded new nuclear builds?

That $26 Bn will undoubtedly turn into 10's of billions more and we all know who pays for these cost overruns.

Of course, Ontario could choose France's Areva to build the new reactors. They're 42 months behind schedule on their only contract to build the same new generation EPR reactor that is being considered for Ontario. Areva's Finnish project is running 60% over budget. On top of that, Finland was depending on Areva to be on time so that Finland would not face multi-million dollar penalties under Kyoto. In addition to the cost and time overruns, the Areva build also has safety shortcomings.

Governments need to face up to the fact that nuclear is the most expensive and least reliable option for meeting energy needs. We dole out lavish corporate welfare to these nuclear giants and, in turn, they use that money to lobby governments and mount public relations campaigns aimed at convincing decision makers and the public that they are selling a viable product.

The secrecy surrounding nuclear costs is only the tip of the iceberg. What are we not being told about lapses in safety and nuclear security? We are creating stockpiles of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel without any permanent storage solution. These stockpiles are guarded by paramilitary swat teams who must constantly upgrade their capabilities to stay ahead of terrorists and rogue states. We are saddling countless future generations with these security costs all so we can continue to waste energy like there's no tomorrow.

As far as the isotope crisis goes, watch for Harpoleon to pull a rabbit from the hat. The research reactor at McMaster Universty is to be upgraded with a paltry $22 million and part of that sum is intended isotope production.
In a statement, McMaster University said, "As Canada's only nuclear reactor outside of Chalk River capable of producing medical isotopes, the funding will be used to upgrade McMaster's physical infrastructure to expand Canada's isotope research and production capacity, to enhance research activities and train personnel for the nuclear industry and health care sectors."
There's just one little problem. The Mac reactor, like the Chalk River dinosaur, is 50 years old. Throwing good money after bad seems to be the singled-minded goal of both the federal Conservatives and the Ontario Liberals.

What is somewhat surprising, though, is that when Minister Raitt was being grilled in QP the other day, she seemed to know nothing about the plans to upgrade the Mac reactor. More incompetence? Tony Clement failing to step up and defend his collegue? One hand unaware of what the other hand is doling out?


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Seal Hunt Not Worth the Fight - Time to Move On

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, I'm gonna wade into the seal hunt issue. Over to StageLeft, there's a comments section gabfest goin' on an' I left me a bigass comment. I'm recycling that comment here.

How about we look at the economics of the hunt?

Back in 2007, the landed value of the seal hunt was only a paltry $12 million. 2008 was about half of that. In 2007, the federal government paid about $3.4 million to rescue sealers from the ice. I don’t know how much we spent in 2008. Taxpayers also pay for aircraft used to locate seals and commercial sealers are led to the seals by Coast Guard icebreakers. Canadian tax dollars support the hunt and the massive PR campaign that was mounted to counter EU opposition.

Despite all the money we spent, the EU still voted for a ban. Now, we’re going to throw good money after bad by mounting a legal challenge at the WTO. At least the lawyers are still making money.

When the banks need money, we bail them out with billions of public dollars. When the dumbass, gas-guzzlin’ auto industry needs money, we bail them out with billions more. When the dirty tar sands need money, we give them billions in tax cuts and bogus R&D grants to fantasyland carbon capture schemes. When tobacco farmers can’t make it, we cough up $288 million in buyout money.

We sell a lot of other stuff to EU customers and our protestation over the seal hunt could well cause a larger boycott of Canadian products of all types. When the US banned seal imports, we didn’t mount a legal challenge, even though the US was formerly the biggest customer. We understood the possible trade ramifications. We’d better wake up and understand what a blanket European boycott of Canadian products could mean.

The seal hunt may be unjustly portrayed as inherently cruel. However, we fought the PR battle on that score and, like it or not, we lost. Public opinion is against the hunt. Also, contrary to what Doug Newton said, the EU Parliament is an elected body.

Even without the EU ban, the market for pelts was down so much in recent years that many sealers didn’t bother going out and risking their necks this past year. I suggest that the EU ban is less a case of an authoritarian imposition than it is a case of the EU Parliament reflecting the wishes of EU citizens. They spoke with their pocketbooks already.

If we simply didn’t fight the ban and gave up the logistical and search & rescue support we lavish on this industry, we’d have millions to invest into alternatives or to simply dole out to the out of work sealers. Instead, we’re planning to spend good dollars fighting a fight we cannot possibly win.

I have no opposition on humanitarian grounds and I understand and appreciate the argument that seals compete with humans for fish. Nevertheless, the public relations war is over and we lost. Time to move on.

BTW, I killed 5 mice in the past 36 hours. There is no market for mouse pelts or mouse meat so I tossed them in the trash. If the seals are pests to the fishing industry, I have no problem with the fishing industry financing a cull. We’ve culled deer down here on Long Point when they became too populous.

Something that I wonder about, though… Back when Cabot sailed into the Grand Banks, the cod were so plentiful they scooped them up with buckets. There was no commercial seal hunt at that time. Who is to blame for cod stock depletion? Seals or human over-fishing?

I think we can develop a Canadian market for Inuit seal products. I think the commercial sealers are already accustomed to taking handouts and giving them each a couple thousand bucks would be much more cost-effective than flogging the dead horse at the WTO.


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Soldiers... with guns... in our streets - Forces Training for Domestic Deployment

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, I'm a little slow on the uptake in catchin' this story. I come across it while lookin' fer news about nuclear power plants in Canada.

Military readies reservists for threats to 'domestic front'

Adrian Humphreys, National Post
Published: Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Reserve units across Canada are being trained in securing perimeters in case of an emergency.Master Cpl. Brian Walsh/DNDReserve units across Canada
are being trained in securing perimeters in case of an emergency.

The Canadian military has embarked on a wide-ranging plan to turn its reserve soldiers into focused units trained and equipped to respond to a nightmarish array of domestic threats, including terrorist "dirty bomb" attacks, biological agent containment, Arctic catastrophes and natural disasters.

The creation of seven units within each region of the country -- including unusual all-terrain vehicle (ATV) squadrons and perimeter security teams to cordon areas of potential devastation -- prepares reserve soldiers for operations on the "domestic front" while freeing regular force soldiers to concentrate on foreign battlefields.


What's that got to do with nuclear power plants?

"We all know the threat from dirty bombs, chemical contaminants. This is certainly one of the more dangerous situations that can arise," said Brig.-Gen. Collin.

"You can certainly get it from a terrorist act. You can also get it from a man-made disaster. You can get nuclear contamination from a nuclear power plant -- Three Mile Island, Chernobyl.

"We are training to establish a perimeter. Do I see a scenario when we might be obliged to keep people in? Probably. You need to be trained to be able to make sure that you don't become a casualty in the process of doing that security."

(Emphasis mine, JB)

The proponents of nuclear energy routinely dismiss concerns about security and the possibility of terrorist attacks and the problem of dirty bomb fuel being stored at power plants. The Canadian army is not so dismissive and is preparing for just such possibilities.

One of the more disturbing things in General Collin's quote is when he says that soldiers guarding a perimeter could be deployed to keep people inside the perimeter. If people happen to be in the 30KM radius of a nuclear accident, toxic leak or chemical warfare attack, I would hope the military would be deployed to get them out -- not to keep them in.

This is another example of the public picking up the tab for nuclear power plant security. How many military units will be needed to guard against contamination from windmills, solar panels and distributed hydro power?


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Three Mile Island - People Died

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, this is the 30 year anniversary of North America's worst nuclear accident: Three Mile Island. True to form for nuke incidents, we've been kept in the dark concerning the actual scope of the disaster.

Robert, over at Blast Furnace Blog, had a piece on TMI and I left a bigass comment. I'm recycling that comment here.

We're only just learning about the cover-ups at TMI.

People died.

In 1983, Metropolitan Edison was busted for falsifying documents related to the accident and reactor safety. They pled guilty to six, and no contest to one, of the 11-count indictment.

(The) thousands of people who received the same dose as an x-ray included pregnant women and children under the age of five. Pregnant women, fetuses and young children are more easily damaged by small doses of radiation. Acceptable doses are based on "reference man" -- a 20-30 YO Caucasian male.

Until we have a permanent, safe, passively secure site for storing spent fuel, we sure as hell shouldn't be adding to the stockpile.

While (Robert's) assertion that CANDUs are safer than other types is arguable, AECL has abandoned the old heavy water CANDU and is promoting the ACR 1000, a EPR (Generation 3) type reactor. All 3 of the reactor designs shortlisted for Ontario are EPR types.

In the past couple weeks, the Oxford Research Group, UK think tank, released a study for the Institute for Public Policy Research. They warn that these third generation (EPR) reactors, like the three models on OPG's shortlist for Ontario and Bruce Power's shortlist for Nanticoke, pose proliferation risks that could lead to “nuclear anarchy.” The report notes that the new type of reactor produces high grade plutonium as a by-product. Plutonium is used to make the most efficient nuclear weapons.

It's been nearly 60 years since the "Atoms for Peace" campaign started promoting nuclear electricity generation. Back then, the scientists were heady from successes like the Manhattan Project. They saw the problem of spent fuels but were understandably confident the problem would be solved quickly. After all , the world's best minds were working on a solution. After 60 years, the best they came up with was Yucca Mountain and that has just been kiboshed by Obama after 20 years work and $11 Billion thrown down the drain.

Reprocessing doesn't work either. A reprocessing plant in West Valley, NY, just across Lake Erie must be decommissioned at taxpayer expense. The operator went broke. NY State taxpayers are looking at a $27 billion estimate to decontaminate the site. Remember though, nuke projects typically come in at least 50% over budget.

Why on earth would any sensible person even consider a technology that leaves behind waste that must be guarded by paramilitary swat teams for 250,000 years?

Here's picture from Bruce Power bragging about their security team. The stuff they're guarding will need to be guarded for more than 100,000 years. Who's going to be responsible for securing the waste we're creating today? What right do we have to burden future generations and civilizations with the toxic legacy of our wasteful lifestyles?


Friday, March 27, 2009

Earth Hour: A Curmudgeon's View

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, I'm doin' some recyclin' an' I reckon it's OK on accounta it's all about Earth Hour. My boogin' buddy Balbulican has a post on how the anti-Earthers can carry their stoopidity to the next level. I'm recyclin' my comment from StageLeft and usin' it fer my boog story. I ain't sure how many KwH I'm savin'.

I’m a bigass treehugger an’ ol’ Mother Earth is who I fight for every day but I’m a little cynical about Earth Hour. Oh, I’ll participate. It’ll be easy. Ma and I always walk the dogs fer about an hour a night. Usually, we leave the back porch light on but on Saturday, I’ll pull the main breaker down in the basement before we go out and reset all the clocks when we come back.

Here in small town Ontariariario, we get useta power outages — even when yer livin’ in the shadow of the Nanticoke Generating Station. I hafta reset the clocks about 6x a year anyways. One more time ain’t gonna hurt much, sez I.

Reason I’m a bit cynical on Earth Hour is I get the impression some folks think if they turn off their lights fer an hour a year, they’re actually making some difference vis-a-vis savin’ the planet. I reckon symbolism is a little beyond some folks.

I also am a little concerned with the message that conservation involves freezing in the dark. There are far more effective and less inconvenient ways to use less energy than to turn off everything for an hour a year and then carry on with the usual wasteful practices the rest of the time.

Earth Hour can be fun and informative and I’m maybe a curmudgeon but I’ll do my bit on Saturday night. And, man-o-man, do I ever figger that them Small Dead Anti-Earthers is about as anti-conservative as they can get. Wanton waste does not equal conservatism in anybody’s dictionary.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

How Pleasant for the Peasants: A Ringnecked Pheasant

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, Ma an' I was out in the country on a errand this mornin' an' Ma spotted this here ringneck. She put on the brakes an' backed up an' rolled down the window an' I snapped this here pitcher.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

See also: Hockey and Beer

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, I was leavin' a comment at somebuddy's boog recently and I seen an ad in the combox for a new news aggregator: Alltop. When I went to see what they got, I had me a good laff.

"All the top Canadian News. See also Hockey and Beer."


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Green jobs, yes we can. Tar sands, no we can't.

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, I read the other day that Environment Minister Prentice sez Canada and Merka are side-by-side on environmental issues. Strange, sez I. A few short weeks ago, we were side-by-side with Bush. Bush and Obama are pretty much at opposite ends of the environmental action spectrum. How could Harper be onside with Bush and then onside with Obama when he hasn't changed course?

I ain't the only one who noticed that Harper ain't really onside with Obama. Jack Layton and Lizzie May signed a letter to Obama tellin' him what a hypocrite Harper is. I guess Iggy couldn't sign with him agreein' to Harper's plan to destroy the planet and all.

Prominent Canadian Artists, Athletes, Activists and Community Leaders to Obama: Green jobs, yes we can. Tar sands, no we can't

OTTAWA, Feb. 18 /CNW Telbec/ - On the eve of President Obama's first foreign visit to Canada, a group of over 50 prominent Canadians have signed an open letter telling Obama that the tar sands don't fit in the new energy economy.

"In your discussions with the Canadian government, we encourage you to raise concerns over the environmental and social problems associated with tar sands production and make no exemption for the tar sands in any binational agreement addressing climate change" says the open letter.

Actress Neve Campbell, authors Ann-Marie MacDonald and Farley Mowat, musicians Anton Kuerti and Jim Creeggan of the Barenaked Ladies, athletes Adam Kreek (Olympic Gold Medalist) and Andrew Ference (Boston Bruins defenceman), and political leaders Jack Layton of the NDP and Elizabeth May of the Green Party, are just a few of the many prominent Canadians to sign the letter.

"The tar sands are one of the most destructive projects on Earth and this letter illustrates the diversity of Canadian opposition to the dirty oil and support for a new energy economy," says Tony Clarke, Executive Director of the Polaris Institute and author of Tar Sands Showdown.

"We must look at the bigger picture and see the consequences of relying on the tar sands as an economic driver" says Maude Barlow, Chairperson for the Council of Canadians and Senior Advisor on Water to the President of the UN General Assembly. "There is an opportunity presented by the current pause in expansions to reassess, address, and develop a strategy to meet Canadians' energy security needs that transitions to sustainable energy production."

The open letter is one of many actions undertaken by a network of groups across Canada and the United States leading up to Obama's visit. The full letter and complete list of signatories is available on

For further information:
Andrea Harden-Donahue, Council of Canadians, (613) 218-5800,;

Joe Cressy, Polaris Institute, (613)668-5542,

I sure hope the Merchant of Hope gets to read that letter and doesn't bury his head in the tar sands.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Budget: Where's the green stuff?

Whooee! Well friends and foes, I was just over to the ol' Prairie Wrangler's boog. There's some topnotch boogin’ from OlafFeller. Olaf's makin' the case that Harper ain't a real fiscal conservative with all his spendin' and now this here bigass deficit budget. Olaf seems to reckon Harpoon's spendin' like a drunken sailor. That's why the lefties shouldn't oughta criticise Harpoon. He's a big spender. Lefties is big spenderrs. They're peas in a pod.

I'm a lazyass comment recycler so some of this post was copied and pasted from a comment I left over to the Olaf the Wrangler's roost.

I wonder howcum Harper keeps gettin’ votes from real conservatives when he’s such a dang commie pinko big spender? Maybe it’s on accounta the CPC’s social conservatism. With what Olaf's sayin’, it sure as hell can’t be on accounta Harpoon’s fiscal conservatism.

Does this mean that the CPoC is essentially dedicated to social conservatism? Does fiscal conservatism take a back seat to crackin’ down on pansyass artistes in their penguin suits and designer gowns at them fancypants galas all standin’ around munchin’ rice crackers an’ Brie an’ sippin’ Chardonnay an’ exchangin’ tips on the best abortion clinics an’ who’s ass to kiss fer Canada Council grant money?

What’s next fer Harper? Is he gonna go green? Will he look south an’ see President Bracko savin’ the Merkan economy and ol’ Mother Earth simultaneously and finally a CFB goes off in his econobrain an’ sez: "Gee, the Yerpeans an’ Merkans are cashin’ in on this here save the planet stuff."

Bracko’s plan looks a lot like the Green Party policy book. And him takin’ that “whistle-stop” train ride just like the gal I adore, Earth Mother Lizzie May. Bracko ain’t The Manchurian Muslim. He’s The Manchurian Greenie.

I ain't a hunnert percent sold on just how green Bracko really is. He's a whole lot greener than Dubya but that don't say much. I'm a little worried about Bracko's big love affair with ethanol. But, that aside, I reckon he's puttin' a whole lot more emphasis on ol' Mother Earth than Harper's doin'. If Harper don't get on board with savin' the planet stuff, he's gonna isolate Canada even more. Used to be, we had ol' dinosaur Bushman in our corner when we were obstructionizin' global efforts at addressin' CO2. Now, with Oz's Howard gone and the Bushman beatin' a retreat to Texas, Harpoon's gonna make Canada the laffin' stock of the civilized world.

If Harper wants to show he's reachin' out and he's serious about fixin' the economy, he oughta do like Bracko. He oughta latch on to Green Party policies. If he don't, he's missin' the boat, no two ways.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

What's ASSPOTY? Only the bestest award on the 'tubes, that's what.

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, the honours just keep rollin' in fer ol' JB. First, I got mentioned by the dang National Post an' now, I been nominated fer an ASSPOTY award. I gotta tellya, I'm more tickled pink by the ASSPOTY nomination than by the Top Ten NattyPo thing, no two ways.

Ol' Saskboy outdid hisself an' he's come up with a super duper best boog story of 2008 contest.

Now, I gotta apologize fer bein' a little slow off the mark on postin' up anything about the contest. I been all busy workin' on a cash money job an' I ain't had much time fer boogin' or boog readin' the past couplafew days. Sasky's post's been up there fer days now but I just seen it this mornin'. The feller from the flatlands has got a whack o' good boog stories in his list o' nominees.

O' course, I'm hopin' to win. I reckon it'd be a dang honour up there with the likes of Rhodes Scholarships an' Orders of Canada an' Victoria Crosses an' Nobel Prizes all rolled into one.


Monday, January 12, 2009

CBC Unfair in Next Great PM Contest

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I got a email today from Camille Labchuk. Camille was a bigwig at Green Party headquarters and just recently changed jobs. Now she's workin' for the Canadian branch of the Humane Society International. She's also been runnin' in the Next Great Prime Minister contest on the CBC. She's been doin' great in that contest and was considered a frontrunner.

Today, I found out that the CBC kicked Camille outta the contest. They say it's because she's disqualified on accounta she ran fer Parliament once and that's against the rules. Apparently, if you're serious enough about Canadian politics to actually throw your hat in the ring, the CBC sez you're not qualified. Goofy logic, sez I.

The thing is... there's another NGPM contestant who also ran fer Parliament, Emily Berrigan's still in the running even though, like Camille, Emily ran for the Greens in a federal election.

The rules also set limits on the length of the YouTube videos the contestants are required to post. Some contestants did not comply with the time parameters but they ain't been kicked out.

Here's the story in Camille's own words:

From Camille Labchuk

Saturday, January 10, 2008

Hi supporters,

I just received the shocking news that CBC has disqualified me from the Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister contest. They say it is because I ran for Parliament in 2006, but when they asked me to enter the competition in November (yes, they recruited me) I raised this point with the producer and asked if it made me ineligible. The producer told me (in writing) that I was “good to go”.

Until today, I was a front runner in the contest. Thanks to your support, my entry video got more votes than any other contestant.

I devoted all of my free time to this competition over the past two months. My campaign team and I spent over 200 hours researching policy, filming videos, organizing online and encouraging people to vote for me. My efforts paid off and I was slated to become the Web Winner next week when voting closes, meaning I would have automatically advanced to the semifinals.

Another contestant has run for Parliament yet has not been deleted from the CBC’s website, like I have. There are 31 additional contestants whose videos are either too short or too long to comply with the entry rules and, according to the rules, should be disqualified too. I don't think these candidates should be kicked out and I don't think I should be kicked out either. CBC let us enter this competition, allowed us to spend two months of our lives on it, and they should let us finish it. I have asked CBC if they will disqualify these other candidates and they refuse to answer me.

The intent of the Next Great PM contest was supposedly to encourage youth political engagement. This outrageous treatment of a contestant who has poured her heart and soul into the contest sends an opposite message: "get involved, get kicked out". I am appalled that our publicly funded broadcaster sees fit to backtrack on its word. I am also shocked that major sponsor Magna, run by former MP Belinda Stronach, would accept this. Ms. Stronach has had to fight every step of the way to climb to the top in politics and I can't imagine that she would support this treatment of a young Canadian who loves politics and simply wants to make a difference.

CBC and Magna chose to disqualify the wrong young Canadian. I am launching a major campaign to draw attention to this abuse. I feel utterly crushed that my efforts have been for nothing and I refuse to just quietly go away. I will be retaining counsel and intend, if necessary, to pursue legal action against the CBC for unfair disqualification. Lawyers cost money and this is going to be difficult for me to take on financially, so if you want to contribute to my legal fund, write to me. I feel it’s the only way to hold CBC accountable.

Please help me expose this injustice by contacting CBC and Magna to tell them their actions are reprehensible. Write to: (Seema Patel, Senior Producer) (Matt Barrington, Producer) (Hubert Lacroix, CBC President) (Mary Gittins, Magna)

Copy your emails to me ( so I can track support!

Thanks for standing with me.


My Facebook group

Yeow! More'n 200 hours and winnin' the contest an' she gets kicked out.

Generally speakin', I'm a pretty big CBC booster. I don't begrudge 'em the money they get from outta the public purse and I think CBC Radio One, in particular, helps Canajuns understand one another. This time, the CBC's wrong. If they didn't want Camille in after she told 'em she'd run fer office, they shoulda sed so before she spent so much time and energy workin' on this here contest.

I've already written to the numbnutses and told 'em what I think. Maybe some o' my thousands an' thousands of readers'll do the same.


Friday, January 09, 2009

End of Innocence: JimBobby Sings Tom Paxton

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I been readin' the news about how Canada's deportin' another war resister. And then there's the Canajun soldier who's been charged with murder over in Helmand. And then there's the senseless slaughter takin' place in Gaza.

I've had an old Tom Paxton song runnin' through my head the past couplafew days. I reckon these news stories mighta triggered the memory. Back in about 1966, ol' Tom wrote a song called The Willing Conscript. These days we ain't got conscription anymore but we still got armies an' drill sergeants an' freckle-faced kids showin' up fer duty.

I reckon when our country is fightin' in a war, we all gotta take responsibility. Like another song sez, "the orders come from far away no more; they come from him and you and me..." One thing I figger we don't often take into account when we're sendin' our kids over to Afghanistan is the sacrifice of innocence we demand from our troops.

I ain't posted many audio boogs lately but I recorded up a version of ol' JimBobby singin' the song. I changed the first line so's to make it an enlistee singin' instead of a draftee.

Click here to get a MP3 of ol' JB singin' all a capella like.

(Tom Paxton)

Oh sergeant, I'm a draftee and I've just arrived in camp
I've come to wear the uniform and join the martial tramp
And I want to do my duty, but one thing I do implore
You must give me lessons, sergeant, for I've never killed before

To do my job obediently is all that I desire
To learn my weapon thoroughly and how to aim and fire
To learn to kill the enemy and how to slaughter more
Oh I'll need instructions, Sergeant, for I've never killed before

Now there are rumors in the camp about our enemy
They say that when you see him, he looks just like you and me
But you deny it, Sergeant, and you are a man of war
So you must give me lessons, for I've never killed before

Now there are several lessons that I haven’t mastered yet
I haven't got the hang of how to use the bayonet
If he doesn't die at once, am I to stick him with it more?
Oh I hope you will be patient, for I've never killed before

And the hand grenade is something that I just don't understand
You've got to throw it quickly or you're apt to lose your hand
Does it blow a man to pieces with its wicked muffled roar?
Oh I've got so much to learn because I've never killed before

Well I want to thank you, Sergeant, for the help you've been to me
You've taught me how to kill and how to hate the enemy
And I know that I'll be ready, when they march me off to war
And I know that it won't matter that I've never killed before
I reckon the song's as topical today as it was back in the Vietnam Era.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

People be Damned. There's Money to be Made.

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I just left a comment over to Excited Delerium. The excited blogger posted up a dandy piece on nuclear power. Here's a bit of it:

Nuclear power is an incredible waste of taxpayer’s money.

Rarely have we seen the full promised potential of nuclear power, the cost overruns have always been well beyond anyone’s wildest imagination and the risks of dealing with waste greatly outweigh any described benefits of nuclear power.

However, it’s very likely that the McGuinty government in Ontario will sign agreements in the spring of 2009 to bring on 2 new nuclear power plants in this province.


Please petition / attend meetings / write Smitherman and do what it takes to encourage our provincial leaders to spend $50-60 billion on renewable power generation.

Start here and spread the word .

Yeow! Nuthin' delirious about that, sez I.

I'm a lazyass recycler so I'm re-postin' my comment here.

Here's another source of nuke info:

Down here on Lake Erie, we got Bruce Power pushin' to build a new nuke plant in Nanticoke. They contend that since they are a private company, stuff like cost overruns and delays are not the public's problem. They been winin' an' dinin' the local gummints an' got the endorsements they was lookin' for. They been spendin' hunnerts of thousands on advertisin' in all the local papers and radio stations. They been holdin' public information (propaganda) sessions where they been puttin' out deluxe buffet dinners for the rubes.

The local folks got a petition goin' against the plant. The local county gummints have refused to hear delegations from anti-nuke citizens' groups but have been more than willing to allow Bruce's paid liars to present fabrications and exaggerations to councils. Councils are interested in jobs an' tax revenue. They have shown that they don't give a rat's ass for public health and safety.

Bruce got its Environmental Assessment officially started in November. They're steamrollin' and the only thing that's gonna stop 'em is public opposition. The Mayors and councillors never did any sorta public opinion gathering before endorsing the proposal. "People be damned; there's money to be made."

This Nanticoke location will put the entire golden horseshoe in jeopardy... all for 1000 jobs and the continued ability to waste energy at will. Our great-grandchildren will curse us in our graves. Our great-grandchildrens' great-grandchildren, too.