Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam: 1 down...

To me, BBC's leading paragraph summarizes Saddam the best.

He brought little but war and suffering to a people who should have been among the most prosperous in the Middle East, given the oil wealth the country sits on.

That is the crux of the despot that was Saddam. There is a twinge of sadness that is the result of any loss of life, but with Saddam's death I can only say one thing.

1 down. Many more to go.

As Abu Sinan said, "Why should this one die whilst we send others money, arms and political support to the other dictators? This is the same man who received arms, money and political support from the USA."

Saddam was a cruel man. Those of us who do not like the US administration or its policies should not fall into the trap of 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' mindset. No present day Western leader in his or her most evil moments can come an iota close to Saddam's brutality. This was a man who had his own son-in-laws killed, who had his brother-in-law shot when he grew too powerful, who made a man divorce his wife so Saddam could have her, who had wives of his officers raped to teach them a lesson, who let his sons loose in Iraq, who gassed Kurds (no one asks where the gas came from btw), and so on. His list of crimes go on.

Death by hanging was a much more humane way for him to go compared to how he treated his foes.

I believe though Iraq was a much better place under Saddam than it is now. As long as you didn't speak up against Saddam or his cronies and kept a low profile you have a good (read: secure) life. Whether the death of 30,000 Iraqis ('more or less', as Bush callously stated, showing how much he values Iraqi lives) and the collapse of infrastructure of a country was worth the price to bring this one man to the gallows is a question history will decide.

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Muslim's Merry Christmas

I would like to wish a very Merry Christmas to everyone.

Ten years ago when I landed in Canada from the Middle East I would not have said that. Call it my evolution over the decade I am in Canada but now I realize wishing someone well on their occasion of joy does nothing to diminish what is yours, but only adds to the mosaic that is ours. Yes some people may argue that Jesus (peace be upon him) was not really born on December 25, but you know, ultimately in this instance it's not what is right but what is good. And no one can deny that Christmas is a good time.

Yes, even though I may not celebrate Christmas in the religious sense as having a Christmas tree or going to church (I am a Muslim after all) I do enjoy the festive season. As the days get shorter and darker, as the temperature falls and a sense of gloom descends with the weather that will not falter until March, it's nice to slip into the malls and marvel and the embellished decorations and glitzy lights. It's fantastic to see crowds of people roving around with smiles on their faces. And yes, you can't deny it, people are generally in a better mood in December, and you can't but help being caught up in smiling and being festive - good behavior is infectious. Not to mention all the bargains that can be had.

Add to that all the free food you can eat at various Christmas parties and the sense that you are under no pressure (after all I don't have to buy gifts, look for and decorate a Christmas tree or have a dysfunctional family over for dinner) I would dare to say Muslims have a better time over Christmas than many Christians themselves!

Of course our Eid is coming up shortly (December 31) so there is that pressure to come. Fortunately we have Boxing Day (in Canada) in the middle (December 26) to shop for our gifts.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Orchard's Importance In Dion's Liberals?

Read an interesting article in the StarPheonix on the role of David Orchard in the victory of Dion at the recent Liberal convention. A few interesting excerpts.

If delivering support to the winning candidate means anything in politics, then David Orchard's star must surely be on the rise in the Liberal party. The longtime critic of free trade, two-time candidate for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party and new Liberal can be credited for playing a significant role in Stephane Dion's rise to the Liberal leadership.


In fact, every Dion delegate from Saskatchewan but one was part of the Orchard camp.


There were many reasons why Dion won, but he obviously would not have had the horses to overtake Kennedy without Orchard's support.


This turn of events raises some very interesting questions about Orchard's future. There's no doubt he intends to remain active in Liberal politics, and there are a number of issues he intends to press.


Should he decide to run for the Liberals and actually win a seat, he might even have a shot at a cabinet post.

[full article]

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Ignatieff Smacks Down Day

When the then-Liberal government began belatedly, timidly asking for Arar's release from his Syrian torture chamber in the fall of 2002, opposition leader Stephen Harper was dismissive. The Liberals, he claimed, were "hitting the snooze button on security matters". His colleague, Stockwell Day, even argued the government's "lack of vigilance" had allowed a notorious terrorist like Arar to avoid detection and detention in the first place. [source]

"I have in my possession a letter from the former Commissioner dated November 2, in which he notes his intention to clarify his initial testimony," said Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion today. "Given that the Prime Minister's national security advisor must have known about these inaccuracies, why did the Minister of Public Safety tell Canadians on Monday (Dec 4) that the commissioner ‘still has the confidence of the government’?"

Today, in Question Period, Stockwell Day had this to say:

"Why these folks across the way refused to deal with it then and let an innocent man languish in prison?"

Ignatieff's response was smack on.

"This government, when it is in a tight position, has become accustomed to blaming the previous government."

"You are the government now. When are you going to start to act like one and take responsibility?

Stéphane Dion Is A Loyal Canadian

Stéphane Dion as a French citizen is OK by me. He has done more for Canada than Ezra Levant ever has and ever will. When the call came, he stood by Canada in opposition to his peers and despite it being an unpopular move, called for the Clarity Act. I am proud that such a man is the leader of the Liberal Party.

Ezra Levant (and the nature of Cons as a whole) is also hypocritical. He should then criticize any MP who has American citizenship. As I noted previously, Peter Worthington (another stauch Conservative) once wrote:

The view that "a Canadian is a Canadian" and all should be treated equally may need revising.

However that should not include American-Canadians, because:

If someone wants to be a Canadian, that person should give up citizenship in his birth country.An exception should be made with the U.S. on grounds that we are geographically, traditionally and culturally close.

Ofcourse. You cannot serve two masters. Unless it's the US. Then it's OK.

People may not give up the citizenship of another country for many reasons. They may wish to retire there. They may have property or business there and the citizenship helps ease the legal paperwork. This is the 21st century.

Canada is a multicultural country, one in which people can pride themselves on being Canadian without being forced to forget where they or their family came from. It is insulting to many of us that Levant questions the Canadian-ness of any dual citizen, particularly one of such stellar qualities as Mr Dion.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Beware the Extremists - 2

Let's see if I understand this properly.

 Same Sex (or being gay)Adultery (having sex with someone you are not married to)
Sin?Yes (mostly)Yes (most definitely, clear and unambiguously stated)
Destroys the institution of marriage?DebatableMost definitely.
Number of Canadians involved?Negligible portion of the populationSignificant portion of the population - and I am counting premarital sex, one-night stands, live-in, common law - all of which are 'sin', as defined by religion.
Number of protesters againstA lotZero
Number of politicians against?Quite a fewZero

This is where I stop understanding. If you are going to apply religion, why apply it selectively? Why not all of it? If you believe homosexuality is a sin and that is why you are opposed to gay rights in Canada you should also be supportive of legislation to punish adultery, as well as a host of other things your religion tells you to.

Conservatives will rally against a Muslim who wants allow voluntary arbitration by religious clerics but will endorse (and associate with) their own candidates who want to implement their version of Sharia. Calling it 'traditional' does not make it any less than an equivalent of Sharia - it is still religious law. A lot of it doesn't even make sense.

I am a definitely straight Muslim. I believe homosexuality is a sin and gays are living in sin and all that. There is no way around it, that's what God said to us and you are free to reject it if you like. At the same time, I know in Canada I have to live with people whose values and religious beliefs are a lot different than my own. I would not like my rights as a minority curbed, so why should I deny another minority their rights?

And why is that always the people to deny others the rights are always the same 'type' of people? First they supported slavery because the Bible allowed slaves. Then they didn't want Sikh RCMP officers to wear turbans in the name of 'tradition'. Now they are targeting gay rights. Will Harper become the first Prime Minister to take away a right?

And they call us religious fundamentalists.

See also:
Beware The Extremists - 1
Contraception and you


Monday, October 23, 2006

Jane Pitfield Grabs My Attention

"but her pledge to build two kilometres of new subway line each year for 25 years drew some scepticism. She reiterated her claim that the subways could go in for $100 million a kilometre, although the new subway line to York University will cost more than twice that." [Star]

That's the best idea to come out of a councillor in decades. I don't care how much it costs. I don't care if garbage pickup is once every two weeks. I don't care if she flip-flopped (allegedly). This single issue will most likely clinch the deal for me.

I have to now pay more attention to her.

And best of all, she has the hair of a mayor.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Tories Worried About ...

Here's another story that some of the Blogging Tories don't want you to see. After all, it would destroy their nice little fantasy that we are out to violently take over the world.

For their kind information, the soup kitchen at Nugget Mosque serves over 600 people a day during some of the busiest weekends.

Whereas from the Blogging Tories we get post denouncing women's rights to clothe themselves as they see fit, 10 ways to fight Islamofacism (BTW wtf is Islamofacism), alleged persecution of Christians, and so on. Coupled ofcourse with a post on how the Court Challenges Program is not dead enough.

Stephane Dion said it best: "Liberals, we need to get back to power as soon as possible."

Being Murdered While Black

When someone tells me that there are no racist police in Canada or that racism is not a problem for immigrants in Canada that person is usually not of a visible minority. I would be one of the first to believe that yes, there is some racism in Canada. However, even I am loathe to concede that the delay in the conclusion of the murder investigation of Chantel Dunn has anything to do with racism.

Dunn vs. Creba [Star]

Jane Creba was shot in broad daylight in one of the busiest intersections of downtown Toronto while shopping in one of the busiest days of the year. She was totally a random figure and was not connected in anyway to the shootings.

Chantel Dunn was killed as she left the darkened Northwood Community Centre near Jane St. and Sheppard Ave. W., on a dead-end street in a quiet residential neighbourhood. She was connected to the killers - the bullet was meant for her boyfriend. And her boyfriend, Shane Morrison - as I suspected when I read the first paragraph - though not a member, was associated with a gang that became divided. Rivalries escalated, and one group shot at the former high school basketball star to send a message. He was hit, but the fatal bullet struck Dunn.

The public outcry that followed Creba's shooting was because the bullet could have hit anyone on that day, and people were outraged at criminals that displayed such brazen disregard for human lives. In comparison, the killers of Dunn clearly aimed at her boyfriend, according to the police.

I am all in support of the black community when they want to complain about racism. However, in Chantel Dunn's case, if you want to blame anyone for the delay in the investigation, blame an uncooperative Morrison. If you want to blame anyone for bringing death to Dunn, blame Morrison.

Moral of the story: Stay away from gangs and gangmembers. They kill.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Harper Exactly Right On Reverse Onus

I don't usually find myself in agreement with the Toronto Sun, so today is a rare day. Their editorial today praises Mr Harper's recent decision to place a reverse onus on a criminal convicted for the third time, a plan opposed the Liberals and the NDP. To quote:
We were particularly amused to see the federal Liberals and Toronto mayor David Miller criticizing Harper's proposal almost as soon as he announced it.

Remember in the last federal election when former Liberal PM Paul Martin and Miller, along with Premier Dalton McGuinty, announced they favoured placing a reverse onus on people accused of gun crimes who seek bail?

They said that following a wave of shootings in Toronto leading up to the horrible Boxing Day massacre on Yonge St.

So, to review, less than a year ago they advocated placing the onus on someone simply accused of a gun crime to prove he was not a threat before being granted bail.

But now they're against a law to place a similar onus on repeat offenders who have not just been charged, but convicted of violent crimes not just once, but three times?
The Conservatives have got it right on this occasion.

I always felt the Liberals started to lose support around Boxing Day, and not because of the RCMP investigation into the income trust tax scandal. It was after the shooting of Jane Creba on Boxing Day. Toronto had been struck by gun crime for the last year, and the government seemed to do nothing. I lived in Toronto, and I always voted Liberal, and I was frustrated at the Liberals.

Especially when Paul Martin unveiled his good-for-nothing plan to ban guns that were already banned. Especially when he suggested a policy of reverse onus on a person not yet convicted of anything. That showed to me that the Liberals were desperate, willing to do anything and say anything to cling on to power, and such governments rarely do any good.

Though I disagree with Mr Harper on most issues, on the problem of crime he has got it exactly right. As I wrote before to the Sun,
There are two aspects to dealing with crime - social and judicial. We need social policies to distribute wealth to the poor, to provide education and health care. We need to identify and assist "at-risk" youth. But once a crime is committed, the criminal no longer deserves our sympathy. We don't need to find reasons why they committed the crime. We have to provide justice to the victim - by hunting down the criminals and punishing them with a tough sentence that will act as a deterrent to others. The criminals involved in the Toronto Boxing Day shootout had the same health plan, education and opportunities in life as their victims. Where is the "exclusion?"

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Converts Breaking The Law

I would urge everyone to watch Canada's entry for the Oscars, Water, an excellent film about injustices faced by widows in India due to religious fundamentalists. Another negative aspect to emerge from religion in India is the caste system, and today thousands of lower case Hindus converted to Christianity and Buddhism to escape the discrimination faced by lower-caste Hindus. However they will now face troubles from the law, as several Indian states have outlawed "conversion".
Thousands of people have been attending mass ceremonies in India at which hundreds of low-caste Hindus (Dalits) converted to Buddhism and Christianity.
Udit Raj, a Dalit leader, told the BBC that around 2,500 people converted to Christianity and Buddhism.
Similar mass conversions are taking place this month in many other parts of India.

Several states governed by the Hindu nationalist party, the BJP, have introduced laws to make such conversions more difficult.
Hinduism teaches that most humans were created from parts of the body of the divinity Purusha.

According to which body parts they were created from, humans fall into four basic castes which define their social standing, who they can marry, and what jobs they can do.

But Dalits fall outside this system and are traditionally prevented from doing all but the most menial jobs or even drinking from the same water sources as other castes. [BBC]


Friday, October 13, 2006

When Ignatieff Was Right ...

Despite my criticism and misgivings about Mr. Ignatieff, I stand behind him 100% when he issues a statement such as this:

Yesterday, Stephen Harper used my statement that war crimes were committed in this conflict to launch a personal attack on me and on my colleagues running for the leadership of the Liberal party of Canada.

Mr. Harper's remarks were a disgrace. A disgrace for a man who holds an office that is supposed to represent all Canadians. A disgrace for a man who is supposed to defend our constitution and our national institutions, including the integrity of our Parliament. There is no basis for Mr. Harper to suggest that the Liberal Party is biased against Israel. The Prime Minister showed a profound lack of respect to the official opposition and a profound lack of respect to the Canadian people who elected him.

For Mr. Harper, all issues are black or white. He believes that you're either with him or against him. He believes that the blind pursuit of ideology and power should trump all else.

It is because of this one sided, black or white, blind to the realities of the world approach that Mr. Harper failed Canadians this summer.

Mr. Harper and the Conservatives failed to address the damage that the conflict was doing to relations between the Lebanese and Jewish communities in Canada.

Never mind, failing to stake out the positive role that Canada could play in defusing the crisis.

Finally, by taking an entirely one-dimensional position on the conflict, the Conservatives may have weakened Canada's ability to contribute to the potential long term resolution of Middle East tensions.

Leadership means talking honestly and directly with Canadians. Leadership means putting aside the political game now and again to talk about what is in our country's best interests.

Canadians deserve a Prime Minister that helps Canadians from all communities to find a common language in which we can speak about difficult issues together.

One of the first facts about you learn when studying for your citizenship is that once elected, the elected official represents ALL the people in the constituency. A Prime Minister represents the office, not a partisian political party.

To see how good the Conservatives are at dividing Canadians, splitting friends against friends, and provoking rather than defusing, check this comment left on Michelle Oliel's blog by a conservative.

The liberal party is embracing an ever-growing muslim immigrant community that despises us. The liberals don't hate Jews or Israel, they are opportunists who will do anything to get votes. The writing is on the wall. Soon the muslim vote will mean more than the Jewish vote. Iggy's just being a good little red. Jews helped the liberal party get where they are and now they don't need you anymore, Michelle.

Iggy's words are typical of the left. Throw out an accusation for consumption of the unclean masses and hope it sticks. He said these comments to gain support of Quebecers and muslim immigrants in Quebec who are viciously anti-Semitic and viciously anti-Israel. My family is from Quebec and that's how it is there. To deny it shows you don't know Quebec.

Michelle, when Ignazieff wins your nomination and turns the entire party into an anti-Semitic basket-case, what will you do? Or you can sit back as they lie to your face that they're friends of Israel. Don't believe them. And look at Ottawa Liberal's comments for what the NEW liberal grassroots thinks about you as a Jew.

Stephen Harper, you are without class. I can't wait to defeat you out of office under the next Liberal leader, whoever it is.


2006 Nobel Prize For Poverty Bankers

As a Bangladeshi-Canadian Muslim this makes me extremely proud. Atlast they have recognized this great man for his simple yet practical solution to eliminating poverty from the world. With his business venture he has enrichened himself as well as empowered thousands of poor, rural women. He also shattered stereotypes of the country, by allowing women not only to earn and make financial decisions for the family, but to act as a role model for others.

Just out of curiosity, and as a thought exercise, I wonder if such a project will work in Canada. For starters, Grameen Bank only lends to women - because they don't waste the money on gambling, drinks or women unlike their husbands. Pretty soon someone will bring a Charter challenge to that, citing discrimination by gender. Second, the bank uses a system of collective co-security. For example, if four people want the loan, the bank will assign it to one of them, but each of the four will have to co-sign as guarantor. When the first person pays it back, the loan goes to the second person, and so on. If the first person wants to default or slack off her project, the others pressurize her and "motivate" her to succeed. Could this be intimidation in Canada?

Interesting how concepts work differently across different cultures.

This year the Novel committee has struck twice; first by awarding the Literature prize to Orhan Pamuk of Turkey they have promoted freedom of expression, and second by awarding it to Muhammad Yunus they have promoted a practical way of fighting poverty and realising visions.


Gaza fishermen risk Israeli fire

Now This Is A War Crime in my book.
According to Mr Habeel, it did not issue any verbal warning, but opened fire first at the cables holding the nets - cutting them adrift.

Then he says the Israelis circled the unarmed fishermen spraying their craft with machine gun fire from no more than 20m away.

Mr Habeel says that one of the bullets hit Hani al-Najaar - ripping open the side of his head.

"I saw him killed," Mr Habeel says. "I couldn't bear it. God bless him."

Mr Najaar leaves two children.

I am against such policies of collective punishment by the State of Israel. Does it make me anti-semitic? I don't think so, as I don't grudge Israel's right to exist, however such policies need to be condemned by our Foreign Affairs minister and Prime Minister when they talk about Middle East issues.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Where Does Ignatieff Stand?

"I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." - John F. Kerry, 2003.

I have compared Ignatieff to Kerry before. Smart man, a not so smart politician.

On the Israeli war against Lebanon he told the Canadian Press on August 12 that he had miss-spoken when he told the Toronto Star earlier that he was "not losing sleep" over civilian deaths in Lebanon. But the words and the attitude behind them were not the least bit hesitant at the time. In the Star interview -- where he was asked to comment on the Israeli bombing of the village of Qana, where at least 28 Lebanese civilians were killed, he said dismissively:

"It wasn't Qana. Qana was frankly inevitable in a situation in which you have rocket launchers within 100 yards of a civilian population. This is the nature of the war that's going on ...This is the kind of dirty war you're in when you have to do this and I'm not losing sleep about that. [link]"

And now, we are to suddenly believe Ignatieff thinks Israel has committed a war crime [National Post]? Why did Michael Ignatieff change his position? What new evidence does he have? And if there is no new evidence, what changed his views?

This (new) view of Ignatieff is actually closer to my views. I have always held the belief that Israel went overboard in its reaction and thought it could finish off the Hezb ollah, and then got stuck in a war it couldn't "win" in the technical sense of the term. Typical neo-con mentality. At that time, after perusing all of Ignatieff's quotes, I had the feeling he was very pro-Israel.

Which is fine. You are free to be pro-Israel. When I choose my leader, that is just one factor I take into consideration. I know Bob Rae is staunchly pro-Israel and that does not discourage me from him (his NDP past does that). I know where most of the other candidates stand.

But now, I don't know where Ignatieff stands. And please - don't give me the crap about he stands for the truth. Either he

a) made a gaffe when trying to explain another gaffe
b) genuinely switched his views after coming into contact with some new evidence that the rest of the world does not know about
c) saw that he was the most popular person after Super Weekend and thought changing his position would help him more
d) didn't change his position at all - huh?

So, which of the above is it?


Friday, October 06, 2006

Jack Straw's Veil Comments

I wasn't originally going to post anything on this issue on this blog as it's not a Canadian issue; however a couple of the Blogging Tories (the usual suspects) have raised this topic as their latest excuse for Muslim bashing comments, perhaps as a distraction from the soldier's pay cut issue. My comments on Jack Straw's statements are on my personal blog.

As an aside, I fail to see where most of the supposed outrage in the Muslim community is coming from. For example, during the Pope fiasco, the media focused on this group in Bangladesh, Khatme-Nobi Andolon, that protested and led a march against the Pope. Number of people = 200. Number of people at a nearby political protest against the government = 10,000. They are a small group of fundamentalists - however they are more fun to interview.

If the media wants to know what the average western Muslim thinks, they should interview Western people like Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, Dr. Zakir Naik, Br. Tarik Ziad and so on, not zealots who crave attention.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Toronto Election Watch - 1

With the Super Weekend gone, it is time to focus on the upcoming municipal elections. As far as Toronto is concerned, I am going to vote for the candidate that will solve (or attempt to solve) our no. 1 problem - traffic.

Right now the big idea promoted is dismantling the Gardner (east of Spadina) and building a Front Street extension (similar to four lane University Ave.), as if University Ave. is such a high speed expressway.

Traffic on southbound University Ave., 5.10 pm

So far both the primary candidates (Miller and Pitfield) have decided to focus on crime as their main issue - whereas statistics show crime is down in the city. I hope the community takes them to task on the issue of gridlock - we need to increase the outdated TTC subway system and upload the cost to the province.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

President Musharraf Is Right

Over the last couple of days there has been some outrage in the Canadian blogosphere over President Musharraf's remarks, in a CBC interview, where he told Canada to quit crying.
"When a soldier puts on a uniform and he joins the army, is this for fighting or for peacekeeping? What has he joined the army for? He's joined to fight, and when you fight, there are casualties. The nation must be prepared to suffer casualties. So if you're not prepared to suffer casualties as an army, then don't participate in any operation," Musharraf said. - [Globe]
Where exactly is Musharraf wrong? He is not belittling our war effort, but our whining about it.

It would be wrong to say Pakistan places less value on a soldier's life. Every commander hates to lose men. Yes, they do not have free press to the extent that we do, therefore they cannot examine whether their soldiers died for a valid reason or a just cause.

Most of the opposition to Canada's new war in Afghanistan by Canada's "new" government has stemmed from the fact that increasing number of Canadian soldiers have begun to be killed disproportionately in recent times. If we have to oppose the direction this war is taking, it should NOT be due to increasing body counts - but whether our approach to Afghanistan is right for democracy to prevail, or whether our troops are being increasingly placed in needless danger for political reasons. To critics of Musharraf, I ask you this: if tomorrow the Canadian public was told that in a newly planned operation in Afghanistan, necessary for military reasons, we were expecting 500 casualties, do you think support for the mission would go up, stay the same, or Canadians would be up in arms in protest?

If you have to criticize Musharraf, criticize him for this. Or this.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Liberals Call For Daniel Petit's Resignation

This is inexcusable.

After the Montreal shootings, Charlesbourg MP Daniel Petit of the Conservative Party of Canada made the following comment:
"the reason that the three gunmen terrorized Montreal campuses was because they were not "pure laines" (old-stock francophones)."
This is a racist comment. This comment is unbecoming of a Member of Parliament of any party. An apology is not enough, punishment is necessary.

Where is the outrage on the Blogging Tories? I remember a few weeks ago when they jumped on Denis Coderre for attending a pro-Lebanese rally in Quebec, without acknowledging the fact that the MP spoke against terrorism. Garth Turner is all over those Lebanese-Canadians, who have now returned to their homes after being evacuated.

The Liberal Party of Canada has already issued a statement calling for Mr Petit to resign, or for Prime Minister Harper to sack him.

See also A Conservative Blogger's "Paki" Rant


Gerard Kennedy Is The Right Man For Liberals

Very rarely in politics do you get to vote for a politician you really like; usually you have to pick the lesser of two evils. I am glad to say that amongst the candidates for the Liberal leadership, there is one person I can genuinely vote for and that person is Gerard Kennedy. I agree with most of his stances on various issues, and endorse him whole heartedly for the coveted post.

Immigrant Success

This is an issue very close to my heart. In my interview with Dion, I had asked him what he would do to help immigrants get the jobs in Canada (for which they emigrated to via the points system in the first place). I liked Dion's answer, and I like Kennedy's strategy. I wish the two could be merged.

First of all, Kennedy wants to declare "closing the gap between Canadian-born citizens and immigrants of similar education and work experience" a National Priority. Recognition of the problem is the first step - and so far this problem has been marginalized, despite Canada losing an estimated $6 billion per year.

Kennedy advocates greater recognition of skilled labour within Canada's Point System, increased focus on family reunification and greater access to language programs.


When the Taliban was first toppled, I had great hopes. After all, the Taliban were abusing Islam and the muslims of Afghanistan, perpetuating great myths (such as women not working when the Prophet's own sister-in-law worked, that too in the fields, or no education for women). They were engaging in barbaric massacres, such as Mazar-e-Sharif. They were engaging in supporting terro rism.

However the mission was so badly mismanaged (lack of sufficient manpower, for example) that now it is a losing mission. We cannot overwhelm the Taliban by might alone.
"We cannot eliminate the Taliban, not militarily anyway," Gordon O'Connor told Reuters in an interview on September 7 from Australia [Globe].
Yet we are there, losing lives, dollars and goodwill. We need to help the Afghanistan people, but in other ways. Kennedy has called our strategy in Afghanistan a losing strategy and I agree. He wants to reevaluate the mission and I agree.


Kennedy is not for declaring one part of the country a "nation" or re-examining the constitution. He wants to fight for Canada. That's why he has called for Saskatchewan to become a leader in bio-fuel technology (which will also aid our environment), values his Western roots (set up Canada's first food bank in Edmonton), had an eye on our climate by calling for a GST aid to hybrid car purchasers. He had worked as MPP and in cabinet in Ontario, where our education system now unrecognizable from the mess that it was under the Harris government.

Foreign Affairs

Kennedy has supported a balanced view of the Middle East, calling on Israel for restraint and deploring the Canadian lives (and others) lost in the recent Israel-Lebanon conflict. Unlike Harper, Kennedy thinks Canada can be a leader while promoting peace, while Harper's ideas of leadership roles are a bit different. Kennedy is for solutions and peace, not for war. When the news about the arrests of the Toronto 17 broke, Kennedy was one of the first to offer an honest statement, which while congratulating the police and RCMP, also stated we must assume the suspects "not guilty unless proven", and also not discriminate against other Canadians of similar faith and culture. Frankly, he didn't jump on the 'We Are Not Scared' bandwagon, when none of the charges are proven, and now that we know that the RCMP can make mistakes, and then try and hide them.


A full list of Kennedy's positions and statements on various issues is available from his webpage. He is young, charismatic, has been in our country for the last little while, has been a Liberal as far as I can remember, has no baggage and is bilingual. He can appeal for support from various constituencies, and I am sure is the right man to lead our country. I hope he stays in the leadership race till the end, and wins it.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Why Is Curling Recalled?

When I was growing in a 3rd world country, some friends of my father, who were ambassadors to foreign countries, knew that their postings were temporary, until the government changed. When a new party would rise to power, the party leaders would appoint their own friends and inner circle to lucrative foreign posts. I never knew such a tactic would be present in Canada.

By mutual consent, most ambassadorial positions are appointed to men and women who deserve the honour, and their loyalty is mostly to the country rather than to a particular political party. Even if the Senate is a centre for patronage appointments, most of the Senate appointees are lawyers, judges, businessmen and other prominent figures in Canada's political scene, and their loyalty is to Canada first and foremost. They are a safeguard against politicians trying to leverage short term gains.

Canada's "New" Government must explain why it recalled MPP Alvin Curling from his post as ambassador to the Dominican Republic, a post for which he quit as MPP and Speaker of Ontario Legislature. He was the first black Speaker of a House for Canada, and served as MPP for over 20 years.
He [Curling] could think of no reason for being axed other than partisan preference, explaining he must have fallen out of favour with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He added: "I didn't come with a Liberal agenda; I came with a Canadian agenda."

A spokeswoman at Foreign Affairs said the department does not comment on appointments, and calls to the PMO yesterday were not returned.

Curling joins a growing list of Liberal-appointed diplomats who have been recalled - a not-unusual practice with a change in government.

After the Conservative victory in January, some resigned from their posts, such as Frank McKenna, the former New Brunswick premier who stepped down as ambassador to Washington, and former federal minister Allan Rock, who resigned his post at the United Nations.

Others are slowly being called back. In July, former MP Stan Keyes was recalled from his position as consul general in Boston, and, this month, former MP Karen Kraft Sloan's position as Canadian Ambassador of the Environment was abolished.

Last week, former MP Yvon Charbonneau was recalled as Canada's ambassador to UNESCO.

"I think Harper is being overzealous," said Delores Lawrence, president of Operation Black Vote Canada, which encourages black Canadians to participate in politics. Members of the black community are "very disappointed and very upset by this," she said.
- [Star]
Yesterday, Prime Minister Harper was out of town when the house apologized to Maher Arar, a man the Prime Minister at one time called a "suspected terrorist". When Conservatives think why they cannot get more votes from the immigrant or multicultural communities, they should ponder on the optics of a case such as this. No wonder we don't see the Conservative Party as one of our own.


Friday, September 15, 2006

The Pope And His Speech

The first headline this morning on CNN:

Muslim fury at pope jihad comments

"Oh no," was the first thought that came to my head. "Not again!"

So the pope believes (wrongly) that Islam was spread by the sword and by violence.

I hope the hordes of illiterate, oppressed and unemployed Muslims in the developing world do not take the decision to prove him wrong by burning down embassies, churches or businesses. It seems every time there is an opportunity to put a foot in our mouth, the Muslims in the uneducated East will oblige.

First - the Pope is wrong. If Islam was really enforced on the colonies, then all of India, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Greece, Armenia, Sudan, Egypt etc. would all have been Muslims. The Coptic church survived thousand years of Muslim rule. The Ottomans never interfered with the local churches. The Mughals in India did not convert hordes of Hindus and Brahmins into Muslims.

And Indonesia would never have become Muslim either. No Muslim army landed in Indonesia, Malaysia or Singapore.

Second, and this I find troubling, is why the Pope made those statements. It's one thing if he believes it. It's also negligible if it's a slip up; but if he deliberately made those statements to provoke a certain reaction, then he is guilty of a serious charge. He wants a clash of civilizations - that's very easy to get in today's polarized world.

I had hoped the Catholic church was going to move into the twenty first century. Yet, one of the first statements I recall from this pope was that Turkey shouldn't be allowed into the European Union as this would dilute Europe's "Christian" heritage. The Pope also wanted situations of Christians in the Muslim world to improve (I would like to know how his current statements would help them). On one hand the Pope leads a fight for the rights of this minority and on the other hand the Pope leads the fight against same sex marriage and gay rights. And now, he reads a 14th century criticism of Islam in discussion of the present century (as if there was a shortage of criticism from this century). One has to question - why?

UPDATE: (11.15 am) I am in NYC so it will be hard to have the updates of this sitation but I will try.

In India, taking strong exception to the remarks, Congress party spokesperson Satyavrat Chaturvedi said: "The Pope should have spoken with more wisdom. He is not merely the head of a religion, he is also the head of a state (Vatican)."

The (Hindu nationalist) BJP's reaction was stronger. "The pope should immediately clarify his position and if he has actually made the remarks he should apologise," senior party leader Mukthar Abbas Naqvi said. [link]

In a gross overreaction a Turkish lawmaker compared the Pope to Hitler.

In an alarming development, Reuters reported an explosion at a Gaza church, meanwhile BBC showed pictures of Sunni and Shia muslims marching in India, burning effigies of the Pope, while Pakistan deployed forces to guard Catholic churches.

BBC has a variety of "important" people in the Muslim "community" who have decided to take offense.

Again, one has to wonder at the Pope - why? Did any Muslim leader criticize your faith, your religion or you that you suddenly decide to be Pope Urban II (or XIVI or whatever).


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

And The Reasons To Vote For Watson Are ...

Am I the only Liberal who is getting irritated at the increasingly negative tone of the by-election in Parkdale-High Park? For the last week or so, rather than outlining reasons on why we should vote for local city councillor Sylvia Watson, we have been hearing selectively edited excerpts of a speech by her NDP opponent Cheri DiNovo.

This battle has ceased to be about ideas, about local issues, about riding issues and has become a negative mudslinging match. That's not what the Liberal party should be about - especially when we are talking about renewal.

The Liberal party is the best party to be but sometimes they do not choose the best candidates. For example, in Scarborough-Rouge River by-election last year I would have preferred local councillor Raymond Cho (who has done a lot for the area) but he was not nominated.

Are there any good reasons to vote for Ms Watson? If so, I want to hear about it.

This statement of Mr McGuinty angers me to no end:
"Look, it's a tough by-election for us," the premier told reporters at an event held at the High Park home of prominent Liberal strategist Peter Donolo. "We're going to fight as hard as we can."
The end justifies the means, eh? Where have we heard that before, I wonder.

I am not outraged at the number of government ministers on the campaign trail, Mr John Tory's outrage there seems to me hypocritical - in a pinch the Tories would do the same. However, Paul Martin ran a negative campaign last time and lost. The Harper Tories ran a positive idea-based campaign and won. The Ontario Tories ran a negative campaign and lost. The McGuinty campaign ran an issue-based positive campaign and won.

And for the record, I read the full script of Ms DiNovo's sermon, and I do think she is more coddling and forgiving of criminals than I would be. But guess what - she's a priest. That was her sermon. When legislating, the NDP always votes with one voice and I cannot imagine the NDP voting to reduce punishments for child molestation, pedophilia or sexual assault. One of Layton's big promises of the last election was getting tough on crime. Yes, he also promised to fight for more statutory holidays but I am yet to see him getting results for people in that area.

From my understanding of her speech, Ms DiNovo implied harm was more likely to come from people we know than the stranger down the street. I would like to know what she proposes we can do in that regard. I would like to hear Ms. Watson's thoughts on the condos that continue to go up on the waterfront. I would like to hear their musings on the never ending construction along certain areas of the riding. I would like to hear about the high property taxes (that continue to increase every year) forcing long time residents to sell their houses. I would like them to debate the island airport issue. I would like them to outline their plan to fight for cities in the Ontario legislature. I don't want to dwell on selectively edited excerpts of an old speech.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Laws To Protect Homeowners Just A Start

Regarding Ontario's new laws to "protect" homeowners from fraud:

The laws fail in one important aspect - they do not fine the bank that approved the mortgage to a faulty title in the first place. In the case shown in the article, a simple phone call to the house would have prevented a lot of hassle to the rightful homeowner. Fining fraudsters is great - only if you can catch them. The article says the person taking out the mortgage 'disappeared'. In this age of documentation and computerization, how did the bank give a mortgage to a fraud? And who will stop the bank as they now try to harass the proper homeowner.

The new 'laws' are just tinkering. The fault is with the government-run land titles registration system, and there seems to be no change on offer there [Star].
Currently, the law provides that fraudulent property transactions based on bogus mortgages, land transfers, and powers of attorney are considered lawful by the courts as soon as they are registered under the province's land titles system.

Because of that defect, homeowners may find themselves on the hook for mortgages fraudulently put on their property without their knowledge — instead of the banks and the mortgage companies.

Homeowners may also discover to their horror that they are in danger of losing their properties permanently to people who bought them from criminals without knowing of the fraud.
The government should amend the Land Titles Assurance Fund, which should also provide legal help to victims of land fraud. The fault is with the failure of the government's run land registry system - so why should victims pony up the cash for legal fees? Cases take a long time to settle as well - leaving legal homeowners in limbo.

In going after the fraudsters, will the law also tackle the lawyers who prepared these fake legal documents? After all, you need a lawyer to affect a land transfer.
Actress Elizabeth Shepherd, whose Leslieville home was recently stolen by criminals who rented the property and then put a large mortgage on it using forged documents, said she "resented" having to go through "this expensive and cumbersome process for seeking compensation.

"I don't see why I should be one cent out of pocket," she said. "It's not my fault. The bank is responsible for handing out mortgages without due diligence."

Shepherd said her quest for compensation is "draining. It is extremely time-consuming and I have to spend so much time researching the situation and meeting with my lawyers."
At best, this is a start. The government should not now claim 'job done'.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Vatican Flexes Muscle - III

The Pope is at it again.

Today, he lashed out at Canadians for allowing gay marriage and abortion.
Pope Benedict hit out Friday at Canada for allowing same sex marriage and abortion, saying they result from Catholic politicians ignoring the values of their religion.

"In the name of tolerance your country has had to endure the folly of the redefinition of spouse, and in the name of freedom of choice it is confronted with the daily destruction of unborn children," the Pope told a group of bishops from Ontario.

Such laws, he said, are the result of "the exclusion of God from the public sphere."
Well, excuse me, it's not exclusion of God but your version of God. Just as you won't like me to tell you what you should worship, neither should you tell me how I should worship.

As Pope and leader of Catholics he has every right to tell Catholics how to conduct their religious affairs. As leader of a state he has no right to interfere with our legislative matters. I would like my Catholic politicians to keep their religion aside when legislation. Just as I would want for politicians from any other religion.

From my other blog:

Vatican, Canada and homosexuality.

Vatican, Slovakia and Abortion


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Japan Celebrates Birth of Boy

The news on TV showed ecstatic Japanese crowds celebrating the birth of a baby boy in the royal house.

Japanese Crowds [CNN]

Obviously stories of countries such as Saudi Arabia, Nepal (both self-proclaimed 'religious' states) etc. where the birth of a boy is preferred and women denied their rights are tragic. However, I would have expected better of the up and coming developing countries such as China, India and Japan.
"A few days before India's 60th Independence Day celebrations, government officials in Punjab, one of the wealthiest states of India and also the birthplace of Bhangra music, discovered dozens of female fetuses dumped in an unused well in a town called Patran." [Blogcritics]
The Indian film Matrubhoomi detailed the story of a village in India where no brides could be found (all the girls were killed while still babies) for men - therefore baby girls from nearby states were married to as many as 5 men. We already know that in China and India there are many more men than women.

And now we have the Japanese celebrating the birth of a prince. Forgetting that monarchy is an unjustified age-old chronism at best, this tells the princesses that their lives weren't worth a lot - just due to their gender. Japan cannot have a female successor to the throne. I would have thought we have come far from the time where baby girls were buried alive. Not so far, it appears. Shame on the Japanese government and the royal family and their supporters.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Scarborough Politicians Should Be Turfed

All Scarborough councillors who have agreed to not push for an extension of the subway deeper into Scarborough should be turfed from office. It is clear to anyone that the RT is just not capable of sustaining the growth. At 5.30 pm, the rush into the RT at Kennedy Station is so huge that people have to wait for two or three trains before boarding one. The buses run infrequently amidst busy streets. Even smaller roads such as Neilson are now busy.

What we need is an extension from the Kennedy Station to Markham Road and Morningside. We also need to extend the purple line into Scarborough Town Center. Finally, we need a North-South subway line on Markham Road.
"I think we came to a mature conclusion that we Scarborough politicians are not going to fight for a subway," said TTC commissioner Glenn De Baeremaeker.


Scarborough councillors have long complained of the lack of attention the former city receives from the TTC, saying residents pay the same fare, but have no streetcar service and only three subway stations. - [Star]
Today those councillors have agreed that dedicated bus lines, street cars and better LRT is the way to go. This would only work if they increased the road width (not happening so rush hour would be more packed than usual), or increased the size of the subway stations and platforms.

What really bugs me is that they took the low cost option. This is infrastructure we are talking about, it's worth will not be known in the short term. Scarborough needs councillors who can fight for a subway. I urge all Scarborough residents to write to their local councillor and make their feelings known.


Is This Man The Next Kerry?

Question: Will you run as MP in Etobicoke-Lakeshore if you lose the leadership race?

Possible - simple - answers could have been "No", "I don't know", "Let's see".

What does Michael Ignatieff say?

"I'd like to serve my constituents well, but you're asking me an anticipatory hypothetical about the situation that prevails on the 3rd or 4th of December."

[The Star]


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Can You Hear Me Now? Good!

Preacher Moss, a muslim comedian who appeared on Comedy Network and at Yuk Yuk's, starts his comedy routine with "Welcome to America! Land of the freedom and opportunity, where I can be anything I want - except a pilot!"

Add cellphone businessmen to that list of jobs that Arab Americans can now no longer participate.

As Shabina from Moz Boondoggle writes,
In a nutshell, some 20-year-old Dearborn guys were held on terrorism charges because they bought a ton of cell phones and had a security guidebook for Royal Jordanian Airlines in their car (oh, and they were Arab). The bros from Texas were held on terrorism charges because they bought a ton of cell phones and snapped pictures of the Mackinac Bridge (oh, and they were Arab).

Both cases crumbled pretty fast (Texas boys free first, then Dearborn dudes). After hours-long interviews, the FBI conceded that the guys were innocent. Their families and lawyers said they were just being good businessmen, buying cheap phones and selling them at a markup. The guys will most likely sue, and I sure hope they make a buttload of money.
Liberal Catnip has more of that as well.

The good thing about the affair was that the investigation agencies approached the cases with an open mind. The bad thing was that we are now encouraged to snitch on our neighbours and fellow citizens. While that may not be a bad thing, as the British airplane plot was foiled by a Pakistani-British muslim reporting suspicious behaviour, I do wonder where as a society we are heading off to, as Britain discusses profiling.

UPDATE: Thanks to knb, here's the CSIS head's attitude to profiling.
The director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service said Tuesday that the spy agency avoids racial profiling because it is "fundamentally stupid'' and does not knowingly use information gleaned under torture offshore because the practice is "morally repugnant.''

Friday, August 11, 2006

One Blogging Tory's "Paki" Rant

The next reason Conservatives wonder why people in ethnic communities don't vote for them, they should take a hard look at posts like this by fellow Conservatives. While it is illogical to tar all Conservatives with the same brush, I find it amazing that Blogging Tories allows such posts to be linked to from its main site, and no other Tory rebukes the original blogger.
Pakistani Terrorism

Call me a racist or a bigot, I am gonna say it any way and I don't care what you call me at all! I was wondering why all these Pakis want to blow up thousands of people all over the world including Canada and recently UK.

Pakistan is the most dangerous country on the face of planet and its people are among the most dangerous and most radicals.

They are an Islamic nation without a national identity. Believe me, they identify themselves first as Muslims and then as Paki nationals.
First, regarding the alleged terror plot yesterday, it was the Pakistani government and intelligence services that helped disrupt the plot.
At a news conference, British Home Secretary John Reid said he was "grateful" for the help of the international community, in particular Pakistan, in disrupting the suspected plot.[BBC]
Second, some of the suspects are not even of Pakistani origin.

Third, it's just wrong to term all Pakistanis as 'dangerous', 'radical' and 'Muslim first'. If all Pakistanis were Muslim first then Bangladesh wouldn't have separated from Pakistan in 1970, and Pakistan wouldn't have a Baluchistan issue to deal with now. If all Pakistanis were radicals, then the Conservative Prime Minister wouldn't have appointed Wajid Khan, a Liberal MP of Pakistani origin, as his 'special advisor'.

Fourth, while I am not a Pakistani, the term 'Paki' has racial connotations and history, and should not be used in such a manner. It's like using the 'n-word' for a black person. It's just racist.

Finally, it's one thing to say Pakistan has a problem with some radicals (that moderates like Musharref are trying to fight). It's another saying all Pakistanis are so. It's plain wrong, and the Blogging Tories should call him on it.

And for symbolism's sake, last week England won a cricket match and clinched the series against Pakistan, in England. Their main bowler in the second innings? One bloke called Sajid Mahmood, of Pakistani origin, now playing for England, who took 4 wickets for only 22 runs to help crush Pakistan.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Which Part Of Opposition Don't You Understand?

To MP Wajid Khan,

Dear Sir,

You are a member of the Opposition party. The Liberal party is right now NOT the governing party. As such, your duty as a caucus member is to keep the government on its toes. It's the governing party's responsibility to govern. For that, they need members of their OWN caucus to step up to do the job. If their caucus canNOT do the job, it is your duty to call them on it, and remind voters at election time why the whole party of Conservatives could not find a special adviser on South Asia and the Middle East to the Prime Minister.

Thank you,

Crescent Canuck.

PS. Mr Bill Graham, much as I like you as a person, how could you allow this to happen?

UPDATE: I believe the Conservative party must make efforts to have one of their OWN caucus members approach South Asians and other ethnic minorities to show that they are reaching out to those communities. Hiring an opposition member is no way to move to the centre. Where is Jaffer, Grewal? The Conservatives must also try to examine WHY they cannot get elected in major cities.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Israel's Right To Defend Itself

Today Israel has warned South Lebanese that it will 'escalate its operations' as well as destroy 'moving vehicles' [BBC]. So if you are a family still living there, you can't escape.

As the conflict dragged on, I heard various people say 'well Israel has the right to defend itself'. I don't have any problem with this statement. Any sovereign nation (and I include Israel) has the right to deal (militarily if needed) with threats to its existence. You heard it here on Crescent Canuck - most Arabs accept that Israel is here to stay (some like Jordan and Egypt even have peace treaties with them). This may come as a shock to some people, but most residents in the middle east aren't opposed to peace - even if that means giving up claim to occupied territories - in return for a fair solution to the refugees / displaced people and settlements.

Growing up in the Middle East, every book teaching Arabic used to have a chapter on the Palestinian issue. During 1993, when the Oslo accords were signed, and we saw pictures of Arabs and Jews in the Holy Land exchanging flowers, I remember telling my Arabic teacher - "we don't need this chapter now". There was genuine optimism amongst the Arabs. Sadly, the joy was short lived as the thorny issue of the refugees remained.

In this crisis, I criticize the 'defensive' action of Israel that went too far in proportion. Most Arab states - initially supporting the Israeli action (even *gasp* Saudi) - has now withdrawn that support.

As I posted on June 28,
"Today, in response to the kidnapping of a 19 year-old Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, Israeli forces have invaded the Gaza Strip - cutting off electricity and water, at the height of summer, to some 1.3 million people."

This is what sparked off the chain of events. Israel could have dealt with the militants by
a) sending in a negotiation team.
b) trying to pinpoint where the soldier was being held hostage and attempt a rescue.
c) warn Ham as of consequences if the soldier wasn't released.

They did none of that.

Again, when two soldiers were kidnapped and few others killed in Lebanon, again Israel had the following options
a) give the government of Lebanon time to negotiate a safe release for the hostages and demand punishment for killing eight others, and warn of consequences.
b) send in an elite force to rescue the hostages.
c) restrict military operations in south Lebanon. As Beirut is over 100 km away from the border, and the maximum range of the rockets are 30 km, rocket launchers in Beirut are not a threat.
d) provide positive proof to the UN that Iran was behind this attack.

This didn't do any of this. Instead, Lebanon is being collectively punished. A government that could've been a model of democracy is now terribly weakened. A terr orist organization is now seen as legitimate by the rest of the country.

And finally, Israel could have asked itself why are 342 Palestinian children (under 18) still in custody. Surely, they can't all be terro rists?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Divisive Politics From Harper

"I understand that not everyone is lucky enough to be born into a rich family, to attend private schools, or to live an international lifestyle," he said. "Instead, millions upon millions of people wake up each and every morning, and get ahead the Canadian way. By working hard, by saving a bit of money, by doing the best they can to make the right decisions for themselves and their families, these people are our people." - Stephen Harper's address to members of his caucus and invited constituents in Cornwall, Ontario.

This type of us versus you is crass politics at best, and at worst class warfare. We shouldn't be surprised. We have seen similar divide-and-smear attacks from conservatives in the past. We should be above this way of politics where we divide and include certain groups and exclude others. My Liberal Canada is inclusive of ALL Canadians. It is progressive. Is it no wonder that it is only in the Liberal party that we have religious candidates with strong views of homosexuality campaign along with gay candidates? It's because we don't play divisive politics, unlike others.

'Real' Canadians versus 'fake' Canadians.

Good Women versus Ambitious Women

'True' Marriage versus 'Fake' Marriage

'The West Wants In' versus 'a culture of defeatism'

Those Who Drink Tim Hortons vs Starbucks (ohh...).

And many others.

h/t Red Tory, HarperBizarro.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ban Or Regulate Cycles On The Road

As someone who carpools to work every weekday, I see lots of cyclists on the road as we approach downtown. Downtown Toronto is a very bike-friendly city, with bike lanes, narrower car lanes, right-of-way and other facilities given to the bicycle. Unfortunately I find cyclists often abuse those rights.

For example,
  • many a time I have come to a complete stop at an All-Way-Stop, and the driver in the other direction is about to go, when a cyclist zooms by besides me. It seems Stop signs do not exist for some cyclists.
  • When the light turns red, as a driver you stop. Some cyclists on the other hand become a 'pedestrian', getting off thier bikes and running the red if the road is clear. That's jaywalking for you, on a bike.
  • Many cyclists do not check their blind spot before veering onto your lane in case of construction blocking the bike lane. Many a time you can brake and the cyclist 'dings' you. By the time you are out of the car yelling at him, he is on some side street furiously biking away.
  • Quite often it seems to me an accident between a car and a cycle will be due to the cyclist's recklessness, yet you will see some city politicians and bicyclists crying foul about this city's intolerance for bikes.

As the price of gas keeps going up, we are only going to see more and more cyclists on the road. Those bike lanes are going to get crowded. It's time to either ban cyclists from the road, or regulate them. I propose the following legislations that should be passed either in busy metro cities, or province-wide, and should apply to any cycle using the main roads:
  • All cycles must have working white (front) and red (rear) lights (not reflectors).
  • All cycles must be equipped with mirrors on the handles.
  • All cyclists must pay a plate registration fee (could be as small as $40 per annum). This should give them a license plate with a unique license number they can (and must) attach to their bikes. This would prevent them from 'dinging and running'.
  • All cyclists must pass the G1 road test (or an equivalent bicycle test) so they are aware of the rules of the road.

While I agree that the bicycle is an environmentally-friendly way to commute, save money and be physically fit, that does not give it a free pass from the law.

PS. FYI I was not 'hit' by a bike today. This is something I have thought about for some time, and especially after near misses.


Monday, July 31, 2006

Snubbing Ontario Could Be Costly

Flipping Ontario The Bird Could Cost Harper

Remember those early days of the Conservative government when Harper met Charest numerous times, yet could find just precious small time for the premier of Canada's most populous province, while attending a Tory fundraiser? Harper Snubs Ontario, read most headlines across the province.

Now it looks like Ontario could be important again.
"Harper has staked much of his political fortunes on gains in Quebec and on his promise to make federalism work there.

If he fails to satisfy Quebec Premier Jean Charest, it will allow nationalists to crow about the failure of federalism, and fuel the separatist cause, a nightmare scenario for Harper and Charest, both of whom will likely face the electorate in the next year or so.

Quebec's strong Lebanese and Arab community condemns Harper's recent support for Israel in the Mideast crisis, and warns he cannot count on their support.

Quebecers are also the least supportive of Canadian involvement in Afghanistan.

So most observers think the Tories will need to win more ridings in Ontario, where they now hold 40 of 106 seats.

Premier Dalton McGuinty hints that Harper could pay a political price in Ontario if he meets only Quebec's demands on the fiscal imbalance.

What should McGuinty do if Harper suddenly wants to 'be nice'?

Down in Quebec

According to the latest polls, Harper's chances of majority government have taken a huge hit by low polls from Quebec, stemming from his support of Israel. The interesting fact for me is that while the Tories are reported to be down to 23%, the BQ has surged to 43%.

Why did the votes not go to the Liberals? I interpret it as soft federalists going to the BQ because they see the Liberals not likely to win the next election. I predict that if, by midway through the next election campaign, the Liberals look favourites to win, the Conservative support in Quebec will bleed further (as federalists look to back the winner and abandon a sinking Tory ship) while those voters flirting with the BQ will return to the Liberal fold.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Liberals Standing Up For Canada

Graham blasts PM

There you go.

Also, does any one know who David Orchard is endorsing /has endorsed for the Liberal party's leadership convention? I heard a rumour he was endorsing Dion (don't know how true it is). I don't know too much about Orchard, though I recently posted one of his writings. His latest article deals with Stephen Harper and 'Stand Up For Canada'.

Orchard's latest article:

Standing up for Canada?

[also posted at Global Research]

Here are a few excerpts:

A million tourists, expats and "snowbirds," including roughly 50,000 Canadians, were trapped in the country.


The current Canadian government was recently elected promising to "stand up for Canada."


With 50,000 Canadians in harm's way what has been our government's response? Canada's new UN ambassador, John McNee, told the Security Council that Israel's action in Lebanon "was an exercise in its right to self-defence." The minister of foreign affairs, Peter MacKay, refused point blank to endorse the secretary general's call for a ceasefire. Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated: "Israel's response, under the circumstances, has been measured." He announced that it was "too early" to call for a ceasefire.


Eight visiting Canadians, including four children, were killed by Israeli bombs. The Canadian government made no protest. Is this Mr. Harper's idea of "standing up for Canada?"


The Harper government's abject response to the murder of Canadians and its refusal to demand an end to the bombing constitutes an abandonment of its duty to protect Canadians and to defend the rule of law on behalf of all humanity.


Gideon Levy, writing in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, said, "In Gaza, a soldier is abducted from the army of a state that frequently abducts civilians from their homes and locks them up for years without a trial but only we're allowed to do that. And only we're allowed to bomb civilian population centres."

Our government in Ottawa has, whether for reasons of religion or ideology, sided uncritically with a foreign government, in this case Israel's, at the expense of our own national interests as Canadians and law abiding members of the world community.

Perhaps Harper should review the change he made to his Five Priorities.

" ... strengthening our country at home and around the world".

I thought it was a sad day for Canada when our nationals (particularly operating under the UN badge) are killed by a foreign army and our Prime Minister questions the actions of those killed.

I have said all along that regardless of who you support (Israel/Palestine) this is a foreign conflict.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Ottawa to Review Help For Non-resident Citizens

Following on from my discussion of "Convenient Canadians", I find this article from the Globe and Mail (emphasis mine).

Ottawa to review help for non-resident citizens

Canada will re-examine the practice of paying to rescue its citizens who have made lives in other countries, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said yesterday as the evacuation in Lebanon winds down.


Numbers suggest that most of the 8,700 people evacuated through the port of Beirut on ships chartered by Canada were tourists. Many Lebanese-Canadians have strong ties to their homeland and holiday there with relatives and friends.


Canadians travelling abroad who are placed in a situation of danger and need to be evacuated are generally expected to cover the costs. But those fees are occasionally waived in the case of large-scale operations that involve extraordinary circumstances, Foreign Affairs officials have explained.

The article does not detail the cost and logistics required to vacate the 8700 or so Canadians who wanted to get out of Lebanon.

I don't know what to say about this. I think Canada has a duty to help her citizens (any citizen, regardless of hyphens) get out of a warzone. However asking them to pay for it may not be so bad. Those who went there on vacation will get a refund from their unused portion of the air ticket but Canadians who live there may be unable to access their bank accounts in a war zone. However, it shouldn't have costed too much to evacuate 8700 people that a G8 country cannot handle. There are many countries where many citizens live elsewhere (such as Ireland, Sri Lanka) but the home country does not question their citizenship. Is there any reason Canada be different? I hope the review is only about the cost of the evacuation and who will bear it.

The article had this interesting excerpt:
But Mr. Harper's suggestion that the government will review the policy of helping to evacuate Canadians who have relocated to their countries of origin is unlikely to sit well with the immigrant communities he has been courting in his bid to win a majority government. His remarks represent another example of his willingness to take a strong and occasionally controversial stand on issues of principal or that appeal to his core constituency.


In either case, no distinction has been made between Canadians who make their home in Canada and those who have homes in other parts of the world. And no distinction is made between Canadians who are citizens of more than one country and those who belong to this country alone.

The Citizenship Act of 1977 permitted people to be citizens of Canada and another country. And, for decades, Canada has taken pride in the fact that it takes in people born in other parts of the world and embraces them as its own. Former prime minister John Diefenbaker pledged to bring in a Canadian citizenship that "knew no hyphenated consideration."

Mr. Harper's remarks drew some harsh criticism from opposition members yesterday.

There was no complaint last year when Canada tried to rescue hundreds of its nationals from Louisiana after hurricane Katrina, said Dan McTeague, the Liberal who was responsible for the protection of Canadians overseas during the previous government.

"Why is it an issue today when it wasn't at this time last year?" he asked. "There is no such thing as degrees of citizenship or classes of citizenship. And what does it say about Canadians who are going around the world imparting their expertise and making Canada a world player? . . . [That] the Prime Minister might review whether or not it's worth the effort of trying to get them out?"

Bill Siksay, the NDP citizenship and immigration critic, said there is no distinction in Canadian citizenship for people who are resident in Canada and those who live elsewhere.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"Fisking" Peter Worthington

I should start a "Toronto Sun Stupid Column Watch (As I See It)" on this blog. I am sure with Michael Coren and Peter Worthington on their staff, that section would never be short of new material.

Worthington's latest article is "Convenient Canadians".

First, he makes the ridiculous statement that "there are twice as many Canadians [50,000] in Lebanon as there are Canadians in the army". As far as I know, the strength of the Canadian Armed Forces is 62,000 [Wikipedia]. Moreover, only 40,000 Canadians have requested evacuation.

Worthington, half of 40,000 is 20,000, not 62,000. Please get your facts straight.

He writes "most are dual-citizenship Canadians who've chosen to return to the motherland to live as Lebanese -- until trouble strikes and then they want the Canadian government to rescue them, not the Lebanese government". We have no way of knowing how Worthington came to this conclusion. Does he know the average age, wealth or status of Lebanese-Canadians? Some have lived for decades in Canada before choosing to retire there. Lots of snowbirds do that. They live for 6 months in Florida. It doesn't make them any less Canadian.

Others, after spending considerable amount of time here, have returned to start a business or venture there. They may still have family, property here.

The venom continues: "frankly, any dual-citizenship Canadian who chooses to live in one of the danger areas of the world should not expect Canada to rush to his aid and rescue him and relatives when danger threatens."

So I guess we should also not rescue any mountain climber, skier who gets stuck on the 'Danger' terrain, spelunker or a hiker. And if you choose to live in a desolate part of the world (like Northern Canada) you should not expect a rescue when danger hits either. Remember, two weeks ago, Beirut was a peaceful capital city of a thriving multicultural country recovering well from a civil war.

Then Worthington gets to his point of view that deserves its own blog entry - "The view that "a Canadian is a Canadian" and all should be treated equally may need revising".

A Canadian is a Canadian. Period. Across all political aisles, there should be no dispute. We should not have categories of Canadians.

The Lebanese-Canadians who were living in Lebanon are no less Canadian than the thousands of Canadians who live and work in the USA. You know, like Worthington's daughter and son-in-law, a certain Mr David Frum.

Mr Frum and his wife, Danielle Crittenden, have both emigrated to USA. They are now US citizens. They live and work there [Wikipedia]. And so, Worthington concludes, in his bid to deny dual citizens full Canadian status, "If someone wants to be a Canadian, that person should give up citizenship in his birth country.An exception should be made with the U.S. on grounds that we are geographically, traditionally and culturally close.

Ofcourse. You cannot serve two masters. Unless it's the US. Then it's OK.

One other statement from the column caught my eye.

"Although Lebanese have settled in Canada for well over a century and are productive citizens, Canada's current policies risk clogging the country with people who shouldn't be here and whom we don't want."

Who do you not want to come to Canada, Worthington? And why?

PS. I actually submitted a Letter to the Editor, that got published today, however it's a truncated and edited version.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Saturday Protest Pictures

The Saturday protest started on time, weaving it's way past ROM and the Israeli consulate and stopping at the US consulate. What was surprising was that given how angry some of the protestors were (they after all had family members still being bombed and killed) the protest managed to pass off quite peacefully. The Druze, Christians and Muslims (Sunni and Shite) of the Lebanese community were there, protesting, as were some Christian and Jewish (!) marchers. In the Middle East these groups would be fighting each other. Here in Canada they march together peacefully, get angry at the government and then go for work. That's the beauty of 'freedom of speech'.

There was a strong NDP presence at the rally (and these are communities that traditionally vote Liberal). After Warren Kinsella managed to obtain from some of the Liberal candidates statements unilaterally supporting Israel (kudos to Martha Hall Findlay for not falling into the trap) many people were angry at Joe Volpe. I remember Volpe coming to our mosque and issuing blunt statements that he was 'with us'. That kind of ethnical politics can backfire spectacularly, as he no doubt will find out. I don't have a problem with candidates such as Bob Rae supporting Israel. He has been very clear on this issue and we can disagree on some things, but what really irks me is when politicians try to play both sides and be hypocritical.

Sign saying 'bombing Canadians is NOT a measured response'.

What surprised me was the presence of a large number of Jewish protestors.

The NDP had a strong presence at the rally, here represented by MP Peggy Nash.

More Jewish protestors.

What's a Bantustan? But the map was interesting.

A Jewish rabbi and a Shite Imam speak. The placard to the left had an interesting drawing of a 'BBC' missile.

The vibrant (and angry) Lebanese community of Toronto were loudly present.

Some of the pictures were heart wrenching, especially those of babies bombed that the media won't carry.

(Photos courtesy: L.C.)