Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Water: A Human Right

Today the United Nations General Assembly passed a draft resolution declaring access to clean water and proper sanitation a Human Right.

A group calling itself Article 31 has been pushing the adoption of access to clean water the 31st Article in the UN Declaration of Human Rights. They would write the article in this manner:
Everyone has the right to clean and accessible water, adequate for the health and well-being of the individual and family, and no one shall be deprived of such access or quality of water due to individual economic circumstance.

The reason for this is simple:
The text of the resolution expresses deep concern that an estimated 884 million people lack access to safe drinking water and a total of more than 2.6 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation. Studies also indicate about 1.5 million children under the age of five die each year and 443 million school days are lost because of water- and sanitation-related diseases.

Water is one of the basic necessities of life. Without water, life on this planet does not exist. We need water and we need clean, safe water. The resolution makes it clear that it is the right of all people to have access to this water.

The actual wording for some of the text is:
Declares the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as
a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights;
2. Calls upon States and international organizations to provide financial resources, capacity-building and technology transfer, through international assistance and cooperation, in particular to developing countries, in order to scale up efforts to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all;

It seems so straightforward. After all, we do all understand that when we are thirsty, water is the best way to sate the thirst. We also use water in cooking and cleaning. As pointed out, clean water is very healthy for us, contaminated water is responsible for the death of millions each year.

A lot of people are very happy with this and a few are not. The BBC carried an article about this resolution and mentions some of the disagreement a few nations have with it. One of the nations with a problem is Canada. An article in the National Post gives some of the concerns. Part of the concern has to do with Canada's sovereign right to control its own supply of clean water. We all know that Canada has a fair percentage of clean water and there has been pressure put on the government, every so often to share it with those in need, in particular the US. However, for the Americans, the water would not be for the people, it will be for the agribusiness, and to fill the pools of people living in Arizona. Yes, that might be a slight exaggeration. The Post goes at length to quote from Maude Barlow. She says, at the end of the article:
All countries, whether they’re water-rich or water-poor are going to have to start building plans to protect their water. Even if you live in a country with a lot of water, there are going to be water refugees really soon and there’s not going to be anywhere in the world where there isn’t a demand on the dwindling water supplies.

One might ask if she's being hypocritical, since she doesn't want to share our water with anyone, especially the US. I wonder if anyone will remind her of this fact. Still, its not delivery, it cleaning up and providing what is there.

Two realizations, one the planet got more people and water is a finite resource. It is the challenge of all people to make water clean and to use it properly. I mentioned the pool owners in Arizona, I could easily have said 'Ontario'. This is, of course, like the old 'eat your food because people in Africa are starving'. Having a pool is not going to affect those in Africa, for example. What is needed is research and creativity to make the water that is available fit for human existence. As well, hopefully this means, water won't be subject to the privatization practices of the World Bank and IMF. You might recall that a number of years ago pressure was put on many of the developing world to privatize things such as water in order to qualify for loans. Now, hopefully, this will be the right of governments to make water available to its people.

How now can we make this the reality. It is easy to dismiss it, like everything else that comes from the United Naions. But if we forget that bias for a moment, we see the call to all of humanity, to the citizens of the planet, to ensure all do have access to clean water.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Considering Canadian Leaders' Future

Early this month I blogged about Elizabeth May's political future. There was a groundswell, or at least some talk that she should go. Actually by the Constitution of the party, her term was only four years and she would have to step down by 2010. Well, its 2010 and she should, to maintain the integrity of the Constitution, step down and have a leaderhip race. She should enter and perhaps she might surprise all her opponents and critics by winning just such a thing. By the way, there is someone who is running for her job, it is Sylvie Lemieux and she has quite a dossier. I still think Elizabeth should step down, because of the reason stated, if she doesn't it might cause some long term repercussions for the Party that would bring about long term damage. I am not going to declare my support at this time, I'm still trying to fill out the eballot for the Party.

I will say this about Elizabeth, she is using the tools of social networking to get the message out, this is now going to be so important. As well, a number of candidates send out tweets to keep everybody in the loop.

She as well, does present the Green view on major issues of the day. She is doing her best to keep the party relevant and engaged.

As I thought about it, I pondered what is the political future of the leaders of the various parties in Canada. Especially those in the House of Commons, and since I haven't done a political blog in a while, I decided to think about it. Here then, are my thoughts about the future for our leaders.

Stephen Harper. Yeah you want to bell that cat? I think he's quite safe in his position, being Prime Minister tends to give a person a safety net. Honestly, can you visualize what would happen to the poor shmuck who suggests Mr. Harper steps down? I think the last thing he or she will see is Harper reaching into his or her chest to pull out their still beating heart, ala Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. He's good. Besides this isn't Great Britain where the backbenchers can always revolt to get rid of a leader they don't like.

Michael Ignatieff. You ever to a cemetery and read some of the headstones. Its fascinating. You've perhaps come across the tombstones that have the person's name, date of birth but the date of death, aka their departure date is blank. That's Mr.Ignatieff. It's not so much a question of if, but when. When will his tenure as leader of the Liberal Party end? Before, after or during the next federal election? I think he's on the bus trip across Canada because a moving target is harder to hit.

Gilles Duceppe: let's be honest, the Bloc Québécois has morphed from a separatist party, to a nationalist party to a "let's keep going so we can qualify for that fully indexed MP pension" party. Yes they represent the aspirations and complaints of Quebec. They make all the right noises so that the separatists keeping voting for the BQ. Yes you have to keep those 10 guys and gals wearing the Quebec Nordiques jerseys happy. M. Duceppe facing almost no opposition from anyone in his party. He's good to go as long as he wants.

Jack Layton: He may be the enigma of Canadian Politics. Of all the party leaders, he's the one with the best numbers. In one poll I read, he was ahead of all of them, including the PM. He's hard working, he's on Twitter. In fact he post photographs to TwitPic. He's got some interesting posts as well. He's popular, the problem he faces is, the party isn't riding on his coattails. The NDP are still hanging in the 15-20% range, rarely more then that, rarely less then that. So whatever halo effect he may have, isn't happening for the party. Even in Progressive Toronto, there's just him and his wife as MP's. Lately he's been battling some health issues. Jack we're praying for you. Doesn't seem to face any opposition in the Party, even though he may come up with some bonehead ideas like a coalition with the Liberals. Seriously Jack, you want to unite with that dead weight? Steve Janke had an interesting editorial, in which he calls the Liberal Party: "Dead Party Walking".

I think Mr. Layton, baring health issues will have a successful term as leader of the NDP. Although I have to think that if the party remains stagnant in the range, there may be a suggestion for him to voluntarily step down.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Re-Discovering "The Ascent of Man"

It was one of those acts of kismet that can only happen on the Internet. I'm not sure how it all started, I believe it was watching some documentaries through Google Video, yes it still exists, when I cam across a documentary I haven't seen in, shall we say, decades. The Ascent of Man came out in the golden age of documentaries, when thinkers were able to take complex concepts and explain, not in simplistic terms, but rather to bring us to think and begin to see how it all comes together.

As I watched some of the episodes, of which there are 13, I was reminded of being absolutely riveted by the words of Dr. Jacob Bronowski. If you watch the opening, it becomes obvious, this is a rather dated opening:

After all, what screams 'the 70's' like the opening, with the music and the lettering. Also the show demonstrates signs that it was truly shot on 16mm film. However, that is not what makes this so fascinating, it was how Dr. Bronowski was able to present the ascent of humanity, it began with his opening words:
Man is a singular creature. He has a set of gifts which make him unique among the animals: so that, unlike them, he is not a figure in the landscape—he is a shaper of the landscape.

He witnesses both the greatness of humanity, the fact we as a species does shape the landscape, and yet in the shaper, comes the beauty and, sadly, at times, its ugliness. He can take ideas such as periodic table and turns to the fact it affects cubism:

He talks in the first episode, about evolution, not in the way we know or think about it, but the cultural evolution, that which takes our questioning, our emotions, our reason and makes us grow. It truly is a marvelous thought when you think about it.

Was this truly a time when intellectual project of the mind was not stuck into a dogmatic and political agenda. Today, for Dr. Bronowski just to breathe the word 'evolution', would cause people to demand to either burn Dr. Bronowski and the film to the fire, or make him the cause celebre of their agenda.

What Dr. Bronowski does, it not give a chronological study, but the great themes, that may take decades or centuries to come to conclusion, but that does not matter. He calls the episodes essays as journeys through intellectual history, of the high points of human history, or as he quotes Yates, monuments of unaging intellect.

Some might say that has been the problem of humanity, we become impressed with our monuments, but again, is that not human striving? Isn't this what brings about the change, the desire, not to make monuments but to understand. We are a questioning bunch and that also makes us dangerous. The greatest danger and the greatest act of intelligence is the one word 'why'? With it revolutions happen and atoms are understood and split.

Should a person get all tied into knots because Dr. Bronowski supports the views of Charles Darwin? After all, Darwin is the enemy of Christianity, as some would believe.

However, I wonder if there is a such a great divide? I know that many take the view, for or against, and make it political, I already used the word 'dogma'. I think of the words of David:
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?

5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings [c]
and crowned him with glory and honor.

6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:

The spark of creativity comes from the creation of humanity. In the end, that is what matters. In the creation it matters not how it all happens, rather that we bear the spark of divinity and inquisitiveness.

It is interesting to listen to Dr. Bronowski describe a baby as a mosaic of animal and angel. He takes the moment a baby stands up and makes the first steps as a dramatic moment.

Now the series is not one that looks at the achievement of humanity as only good and great, he considers some of the dark moments of humanity:
It's said that science will dehumanize people and turn them into numbers. That's false, tragically false. Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance, it was done by dogma, it was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.

Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known; we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible. In the end, the words were said by Oliver Cromwell: "I beseech you in the bowels of Christ: Think it possible you may be mistaken."

He reminds all of us, we may make mistakes.

I plan to watch the series and enjoy all of them.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Steve Jobs, AntennaGate and Fanboys

Full disclosure time: I have been a fan of the Apple iPod line of products since the iPod Mini. After a time, I received a Nano and then recently a Touch. I do like these products and enjoy the hours of entertainment each has brought. I have also enjoyed the weather of media offered through the Apple iTunes Store.

Now for full disclosure 2: I know nothing about antennas, radio waves and how it all comes together for a cellular phone. My phone is the Motorola MotoKrzr, which is the means by which I text, talk and take the occasional photograph. Alright, more then the occasional photograph.

I didn't watch the press conference, but I have followed it through news reports and blogs. What I have noticed there are two distinct themes going through it. The first theme was, there is a problem and Apple plans a work-around until its fixed. The work-around includes a free case and the opportunity to return the phone should the owner simply not want it anymore. Both are laudable and should have dealt with the immediate problem. Apple had to move on this, it was be reported in the media and it was now becoming the butt of jokes:

He goes before the media and gives an apology and a promise to do better. That is good, however, he had to go weasel on us, and this is the problem.

Let me give a few points on the Job's weasel imitation:

1) the iPhone parody song:

A parody pokes fun and I'm sure many would think so, but a careful listen to the lyrics gives a bit of a different spin. The message if you don't like it, don't buy it or return it. In other words, the message from Apple is, 'we don't really care about your problems or complaints. You don't like it, get lost'. Not bad for a company that says it wants its customers happy. The second is the whole 'death grip' comment. Consider this, the 'grip' that caused the problem is not a death grip, but the standard and natural way people hold their cellphones. It's how its held and although Steve Jobs said it should be held differently, that hold is the standard, there is nothing wrong with the way its hold, the problem is the location of the antenna.

The third problem and this is vintage weasel is that Steve said Apple is not unique with this problem. In fact most smartphones have this problem. Jobs said:
What we have learned is smartphones have weak spots, not unique to iPhone 4. All smartphones have weak spots and you will drop calls. AppleCare data shows that 0.55 percent of all iPhone 4 users have called about antenna or reception. If you read all these articles, half our customers have called and are angry. One half of one percent — 0.55 percent! Historically, this is not a large number. Doesn’t jive with what you read about this problem.

Of course this got under the skin of some smartphone manufacturers, who had a slight disagreement with Mr. Jobs assessment:
However, RIM's co-chief executives Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsille said over the weekend: "Apple's attempt to draw RIM into Apple's self-made debacle is unacceptable. Apple's claims about RIM products appear to be deliberate attempts to distort the public's understanding of an antenna design issue and to deflect attention from Apple's difficult situation."

Mr Jobs has apologised to disgruntled Apple customers and promised to give away a free case with every iPhone 4 sold until September.

The RIM executives added: "One thing is for certain, RIM's customers don't need to use a case for their BlackBerry to maintain proper connectivity."

Nokia has also launched a strident defence of its phones. The company said: "We prioritise antenna performance over physical design if they are ever in conflict."

Now Apple wants to point a finger and say, 'look, everyone else has the same problem, why are you picking on us...' I like what one person commented on the GigaOm website:

Wow, so to apple, who made this video before the press conference, it’s just a big joke to them that customers are having a problem? So, they say, we made lots of other stuff and nobody complained so we can never be accused of making a mistake, … Ever.

I can see BP adopting this tactic. Hey, what’s one little oil spill? We drilled thousands of wells and so one of them leaked. Don’t swim in the oil if you don’t like it. Only, like 1% of our customers world-wide are affected by that well.

BP could adopt this strategy, and the US government would be including a few more zeros on the fines to be levied.

Then what really got to me was the reaction of the fanboy element. This is always Steve Jobs secret weapon, his cadre of fanatics who will go out of their way to demean and discredit any and all critics of Apple. PCWorld had an article entitled:
"Apple must kill the iPhone 4", and it drew the response of the fanboys:
Not surprising considering the source. The most one sided subjective biased opinion on the matter. And of course it's from "PC WORLD" why would they want it to be objective? The don't.

How's this, I think PC World should kill PC WORLD, the sooner the better!!

If Steve Jobs had said to the crowd: "go and burn down the PC World offices", it would have been destroyed. In fact had Jobs told the assembled to hunt down and destroy the .01% who criticized the iPhone, there would have been a lot of dead bodies out there.

What also got to me was a comment Robert Scoble left on the website Cinch. He had a comment he entitled; "Arrogance or Artistry at Apple". His comments included things like "why is the media piling on at Apple?". Probably because the media has been piled on by the fanboy when they have dared made a negative or questioning comment towards Apple and Steve Jobs. He kept saying its the best phone ever and that Steve Jobs is an artist and the iPhone is a masterpiece. Sure, stick it on your walls, because you may have problems with it as a phone.

With all this, would I purchase an iPhone 4? Hard to say, I still have a little over one year left on my contract and I'm not sure I'm going to change carriers when its all over, or I could go back to Virgin.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Prado Red Sunflowers

I've always been a fan of growing sunflowers. Something about taking a little seed, planting into the ground the seed, and watch what happens. Usually the addition of some good soil plus fertilizer, water and time and some incredible happens. I was going through an archive of older photographs and found some pictures of past Sunflowers:

Usually my choice has been the standard yellow huge sunflower. To me this is a plant that is a true go-getter. Anything that grows to over 6ft tall from such a small little seed is a plant that deserves our respect and love. I have never taken the seeds for anything, leaving them for the birds and squirrels. After all, they need to eat and I know I can buy a whole bunch of sunflower seeds for a relatively inexpensive price.

This year I decided to do some experimentation with the garden. With a number of plants I'm doing different things with different plants. Why stay with the tried and true when there are so many different varieties to grow. This year, I decided not to plant the huge sunflower but attempt to grow the Prado Red Sunflower.

It is a fascinating sunflower. It's one of the early bloomers of the sunflower family. You plant it and give it a couple of months, the plant will start to bloom. As well, it is a multi-branched type of sunflower, not satisfied with just one bloom but a number of them. According to a number of sites, it is a great plant to use for cut flowers. It is also not one of those extremely large sunflowers, growing to about 4-5 feet.

I ordered my seeds from Dominion Seed House, a reputable Canadian Seed Company. I waited until about the middle of May to plant the seeds. After that it was a lot of time and watering before the plants started to show:

If you look at the time stamp on the photograph you can read this picture was taken on June 29th. As you can see, there wasn't much to the plant. It did grow, gaining some nice height then July 14th came about:

There it was, finally the first bloom of the sunflower. As you can tell by the deep hue, it is a dark red flower, some sites describe it as almost being chocolate in colour:
Gorgeous chocolate and dark crimson red blooms. Bushy plants have numerous long, slender lateral branches with a dark maroon colour and contrasting dark green foliage. Handsome 5-8" flowers are produced prolifically up until frost.

The above quote was taken from the Veseys catalogue on the Prado Red. The catalogue mentions it is about 53 days from germination to flowering. I didn't keep a close calendar but I suspect that's about right for these seeds. perhaps closer to 60 days.

What has also impressed me about this plant is the colour of the back of the leaves:

Right now, I have three plants flowering, hopefully the rest will soon follow:

If you would like more information on the Prado Red, simply google the name. By the way, the Posterous posting on the front page is my photograph

After the success, so far, of this type of sunflower, I'm looking carefully at the those seed pages and thinking about what type I'll try next year.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Messy Urbanism and Brantford

In the recent issue of Spacing Magazine, an excellent magazine that once was centred only in Toronto but I think is on the verge of being the magazine of Canada's Urban Landscape, had an article which examined the messiness that is Toronto. The term is 'messy urbanism' which can be described as a mixture of old and new. There is the cultivated and manicured lots, lanes and green spots that are uniform and then there is the old buildings, that are not gentrified, but are allowed to show their age.

It started with an article a few years ago. It was entitled "Toronto’s Messy Urbanism from the perspective of an Angeleno" . The article was also reprinted in the National Post. The article was written by James Rojas, who founded the Latino Urban Forum.

He spoke at a conference and said this about Toronto:
I spent last week in Toronto and fell in love with what I will call its messy urbanism. The city contains the usual suspects on the menu of elements of contemporary good urban form: mixed-use, bike paths, transit, street trees, etc. However, there’s a sort of less-than-manicured quality to the whole thing, and coupled with a huge diversity of people, the city ends up feeling gloriously messy, in a functional and walkable way.

The City is not of one time period, but is a combination of the time past and the time present. It is the new architecture and the old buildings that remain standing. It is a city where all ages, incomes and combinations meet together. I realize there may not be a utopia, but rather a mixture that represents the city. The old and new stand together, not necessarily as complimenting each other, but make the city what it is. The City is not under control but develops naturally. One author, Mark Hinshaw wrote in his book "True Urbanism":
They try to encapsulate, sanitize, and suburbanize the public realm...There is no room foro messy vitality, spontaneous commerce and idiosyncratic homegrown businesses..In real cities, not everything is tidy. Downtown have many kinds of people with different income levels, and many choices, and some things are simply not photogenic. that is what has always made great cities great.

As all know, Brantford is going through a period of sanitization. The 'urban renewal' of the South Side of Colborne is progress, or happening. Building seen as derelicts of a past time being torn down with the hope of something better, something new and shiny. So the downtown core will be neat, there will be no room for the old and funky.

But can there be this celebration of messy still in Brantford? Or will it be a series of post-modern municipal ugly structures and will shout out 'progress' and sterility. There are still people fighting for the preservation, but I wonder if its now over, the battle has been either won or lost, depending on your point of view. Now the energy should be directed towards making the downtown a vital place in the City. Can commerce, education and culture be brought together for a great place to be.

I went to the site "Principles of True Urbanism" and there is the listing of the principles that make a city great. While messiness is not spelt out, there are a number of points that can exist in the messy. Culture can be messy at times, and in its messiness, is its celebration.

Let's join to celebrate the future urban messiness of Brantford.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Lessons Learned from the Eleventh Doctor

All right. I have watched the first season of Matt Smith as Doctor Who. You may know from reading this blog, I was not overly excited when I saw the first photographs of the new Doctor. Too young, too wild the hair, just, just not right. However, all my worries evaporated following the first episode. He fits the role and a lot of credit has to go to Steven Moffat for his interpretation of the series. He did have some big shoes to fill after the departure of Russell T Davies. How do you take over from the man who brought back to life a series long thought as dead? Well he did. If I may say a few things, what I liked about Mr. Moffat's interpretation was that he gave a number of nods and acts of appreciation to the past, he didn't forget what went before him. Also he seems to have remembered that Doctor Who roots are that of a kids show, so he had enough scary stuff to make sure they did hide behind the chesterfield, but not for long. It was intense, but never for long.

What are the lessons learned from the first season?

Here are some of them, starting with Number 10

10) If your Scottish, fry something
9) Nothing beats a midnight snack of fish sticks and custard
8) if you're smart. If you value your continued existence, if you have any plans about seeing tomorrow, there's one thing you never, ever put in a trap, and that is the Doctor
7) He only comes for the dancing
6) He is the Doctor, so basically, run.
5) The words that could burn stars, raise up empires and topple gods is "Hello Sweetie".
4) Funny how you can say something in your head and it sounds fine.
3) He's not afraid of monsters, monsters are afraid of him.
2) In 1963, London was not only the coolest place on Earth, it was the coolest place in the Galaxy

And the Number One lesson learned from watching the Eleventh Doctor is

Bow Ties are Cool!

The Next Season of Doctor Who starts with the Christmas Special, 2010.

It will also feature Katherine Jenkins and Sir Michael Gambon. It should be great.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Canada: Police State?

Police State Canada from bill johnson on Vimeo.

The video says it all; that the activity last weekend in Toronto is proof that Canada is now a Police State. The actions were done as part of the whole new world order G20, globalization that has swept the globe over the past decade. The purpose of these meetings is to make the world safe for the elite and the multi-nationals. The workers, the poor, the dispossessed have no rights under the new system and they had better just sit back, shut up and do what they are told. If they attempt to protest, they will be arrested, hurt or worse, killed by the elements of the state.

Part of the problem is our political leaders are in the back pocket of the elite, which is why nations such as Canada go to such extremes to protect the leaders of other lands.

What about the events. I will confess my personal opinion of the Satuday night was that the true criminals were behind the security barrier, not in front. Yes there was violence, there was destruction of private property, usually the property of major corporations and a few police cars were destroyed. There was the usual response by middle Canada about how sickening it all was and how horrible these people were. I got into a bit of an argument with a Green Party candidate, she accused me condoning violence. I don't condone violence. But seriously, the reaction was a bit over the top. Vancouver had a worse riot after Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 1995(6)?

If you examine the events of the weekend, there seems to be two distinct aspects to the G20 Toronto situation; Saturday and Sunday. The first day, was the riot that got everyone upset. Members of the Black Bloc were part of the peaceful demonstration, but they broke off and began to trash buildings. The police seemed to have been held back, perhaps there was an understanding that if the Anarchists just break some windows, then let them get it out of their system. They did smash the windows of a Bell Canada building, all that could mean they had contracts with Bell Canada- on the other hand, if that was true, they would have burned the building down. Let me tell you, if you have ever been on hold with Bell's Customer Services, you would be glad to trash the store.

Then there is Sunday, when the tables were turned and the police were ordered(?) higher ups to smash all displays of violence. The problem is, the only violence seems to have been generated by the Police. Please understand I am not anit-Police, they are the thin blue line, but you have to question some of the videos that are now being shown.

Some of them are completely surreal:

I guess the Police waited until after they finished singing. There are a great deal of videos out there, just go to YouTube for the many of them. Funny, the Chief of Police has asked that if people have any photographs or, type into the browser and start there.

We have heard the numbers, 900 arrested, 700 released after spending the night in jail. Some of the people were arrested because they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Then we get to the law that may not have existed. There was this whole news that the Province of Ontario passed a law stating that all persons who came within 5 metres of the Security Fence had to show identification or else. Afterwards it was announced there was no such thing. Couple this with the bizarre display of 'weapons' seized before G20 that turned out not to be weapons, you have to wonder what exactly was happening. While now everybody says it never was, it sure was before the protest.

If you add it all up, you have to wonder what was happening, what was the news, and who was controling it all. Was there plants within the Black Bloc to ensure there would be violence? Did the OPP or the RCMP plant some agent provocateur to make sure there was violence. Was there, only a formal investigation would tell for sure, however it must be said, it wouldn't be the first time such a tactic had been used. As well, it is known the police had infiltrated the Southern Ontario Anarchist Resistence.

There are a lot of questions that need answering.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Canada's Next Governor General

After some speculation as to whether or not the present GG Michaëlle Jean will have her term extended, or allowed to expire, the Prime Minister has made a choice. We will have a new Governor General. The person chosen is David Johnston, the President of the University of Waterloo.

The Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, in announcing his choice declared:
"David Johnston represents the best of Canada," Harper said in a statement. "He represents hard work, dedication, public service and humility. I am confident he will continue to embody these traits in his new role as the Crown's representative in Canada."

To say he is brilliant is an understatement. The CBC website contained some of his academic and public credentials. Yet at the same time, he does come from common stock, so he probably has both feet planted firmly on the ground. It is also interesting to note, and this has been picked up by a few media outlets, he may have served as the basis of a character in Erich Segal's book "Love Story".

He also has one more claim to fame, and this is probably the reason why he was chosen as Governor General. Andrew Coyne in his comment on the appointment, in maclean's Magazine points out this fact:
And, the clincher, a stint as a CBC broadcaster (he hosted a political talk show, The Editors, that was seen on Newsworld): the fourth Governor General in a row, and fifth in the last six, with that distinction.

That now seems to be de rigueur for the post of Queen's Representative to the Dominion.

I think this tells us something of the viewing habits of our last three Prime Ministers. If you consider the GG's they have all been a part of the CBC and in particular CBC Newsworld. And people say the Prime Minister hates the CBC, that the only source of candidates for the Office of the Vice Regal.

This got me to thinking. What if the Prime Ministers had been loyal watchers of The Comedy Network, for example. Imagine who we would have had as Governor General:

one choice would have been Red Green.

Who better to give advice to the Prime Minister of the day then the man who coined the phrase: "Keep your stick on the Ice"?

Or how about Brent Herbert Leroy.

Here is a man from the Prairies, who is well-read, at least when it comes to comic books, sorry, graphic novels. Plus he's a small businessman who still lives close to his parents. I mean what is more Canadian then that? He loves the Saskatchewan Roughriders, so he's a pure a Maple Syrup, when it comes to that.

Another choice might have been Mike Bullard.

He's funny, well sort of funny. During the speech from the Throne he could stop and ask questions of the people in the front row. Plus he's not doing a whole lot right now.

Now another choice, and this may be controversial. In fact some may wonder why I include him. First off, some may say, he's not Canadian. Then again, if you study Canadian History, you will note that for more of our nation's time, the Governor General was not a Canadian. So here it goes, another choice might have been:

Andy Zax.

He's the guy in the blue robe, by the way. Yes, the Music Geek, from the show "Beat the Geeks". You may wonder why him, why not the movie geek. For one simple reason, the Movie Geek is too pompous. The TV Geek, is too typical. I thought of Andy Zax because, he looks good in a robe, which has got to be important as the Queen's Representative. As well, with his knowledge of music he could be a great source of information as the government deals with the new copyright law.

If not him, the how about Blaine Capatch, or he is just a bit too nerdy?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

What if He's Right?

The one thing you can expect with the summer is for things to heat up. This year, it's not just the thermometer, the papers have been filled over the past few weeks of the interesting comments being made by the head of CSIS, Richard Fadden. He had a little chat with a reporter from the CBC and made a few observations. One in particular that seems to have gotten under the skins of everybody is this little remark:
Yes, we now call it foreign interference. I don’t quite know when the terminology changed, but it’s called foreign interference. This is another area where I knew it existed but I was a bit surprised about the extent to which it is occurring. A number of countries take the view that if they can develop influence with people relatively early in their careers, they’ll follow them through. And all of a sudden, they’re a politician or they’re a public servant who exercises some influence and they can really have an impact.

There are also a couple of countries that use the universities. There are social clubs, you know, related to particular countries and before you know it, a country is providing them with money, there’s some sort of covert guidance. We’re in fact a bit worried in a couple of provinces that we have an indication that there’s some political figures who have developed quite an attachment to foreign countries. I think it’s the kind of thing that if you’re a country that has a lot of patience, this can really pay off. And there are a few who are like that.

He was invited to discuss his comments in from of a Commons Committee, after there has been a lot of howling by politicians demanding his head. He has stated, first of all, he has no desire to resign, and in my opinion,nor should he. He's also been accused of smearing a whole community of people in Canada.

If we forget all the noise and controversy, there is still one question, what if he's right. What if there's a whole lot of politicians who have a favourable opinion of a foreign government and that opinion is colouring their view of things, so that they are more interested in that foreign government then the needs of the people of Canada.

This is not to say those politicians have been bought outright by foreign interests, but what if they are encouraged to consider a few points of view. I don't think at least from reading what Mr. Fadden said, that these people are leaking classified secrets to those foreign governments, but I suppose another question would be, why do we think Canada would be immune to this sort of influence peddling. It has happened in a lot of nations, where compromise takes place, are we any different?

One thing I find disturbing is what groups are calling for his head, let me quote from an article in the Globe and Mail:
Bloc Québécois and New Democrat MPs on the committee were the most forceful in their criticism, calling on Mr. Fadden to resign. New Democrat Don Davies pointed out that the 1,600 municipal politicians in British Columbia have written a complaint letter over the director’s remarks.

“You have smeared them all,” Mr. Davies said.

So the Separatists and the Socialist are the most strident. Makes me wonder if any of their friends and associates aren't going to be found on a list some place.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Should Elizabeth Go?

An article appeared in the Toronto Sun and it lit up the twittersphere. If you search all the tweets that have the hashmarks #gpc, you will see a lot of talk about the article. Is it true? Is it the Sun seeking to find something to print besides another article about how horrible those smelly hippies are and how brave the Toronto Police Department really is and how they saved the city.

The article states there's a fair bit of discussion both at the national level and in the grassroots that wants to see another leader. One twitter wrote:
The Green Party of Canada's happiest day will come when Elizabeth May is dumped and a party leader (not a self-centred twit) takes her place.

Apparently a lot of people didn't and still don't accept the results of the leadership vote that made Elizabeth May the leader of the party. I suppose that's natural, when you strongly support one person and they lose, there will always be a strong feeling of resentment, immediately following. Hopefully time heals and a person decides to work for the leader or at least keep quiet and wait.

I will be honest and state I did not support Elizabeth May as leader. For a time I was one of those people who were critical of Elizabeth. I will be honest there has been times that I have questioned her authority or even her competence to lead the party. There were times she seemed to be the right leader and at times the wrong leader.

To give the litany: during the last election she seemed be more supportive of Stephan Dion then even the Liberal Party. She announced the strategy of *not* running a Green candidtate in Dion's riding and he wasn't going to run a Liberal in Central Nova. By the way, the choice of Central Nova was a bit of a head scratcher, considering how well she did in London. Many wondered why not run in Green friendly British Columbia, which she is doing now.

She managed to get involved in the leadership debate during the last election but came across more a supporter of Stephan Dion and was a bit annoying with her attach against Stephen Harper. I think she should have spent more time discussing why people should vote Green rather then the same old three.

Then there was that bizarre rumour she was up for a Senate seat, if the Liberals won the next election. As well as there was the discussion to join the Liberal-NDP coalition. Yeah, that's an idea, join the coalition of losers.

A few people are not pleased with her recent letter. In particular she wrote:
Please review all the related leadership motions. Recent changes to Election legislation have put our Party's constitution into conflict with the Elections Act, and this must be rectified. Council has put forward a solution avoiding any immediate leadership race as Resolution c029. I abstained on that vote, but it is entirely up to you, our members, whether I remain as leader through the next election or not. We have an excellent chance of winning seats in the next election -- in fact, some recent polls have projected as many as four Green seats! The campaign in my riding of Saanich Gulf Islands is going extremely well. But the election strategy is only one factor. If members want me to step down, so be it. It will have been my honour to serve you since 2006.

Some people are confused, what changes is she referring to? It appears, from what I have read, the changes took place in 2004, and so the Party has had opportunity to make the necessary changes. Also do the changes effect the ability of a party to decide when and where to have a leadership review.

For the record the Green Party constitution has this:
All Federal Council members shall be elected to serve a two year term or until their successors are elected, except the Leader who shall serve a four year term or until a successor is elected.
The Leader shall be elected in 2006 and every four (4) years thereafter.

One of the resolutions coming up during the General Convention attempts to make more sense of this:

BE IT RESOLVED that Bylaw be amended to " All Federal Council members shall be elected to serve a two year term or until their successors are elected, except the Leader who shall serve a term pursuant to Bylaw "

BE IT RESOLVED that Bylaw be amended to " Within six months of a Federal General Election, unless the leader becomes prime minister, a Leadership Review, where all Members in good standing may vote, shall be held. The date of the Leadership Review vote will be set by Federal Council and may coincide with a General Meeting. The Leader's term shall end if Members in good standing do not pass a resolution endorsing the Leader by at least 60%. "

So let me answer the question, should Elizabeth go? Yes she should. She should step down because that is required of her by the constitution. She should step down and allow for a leadership race and vote. If she chooses to run again, she has that right. If she wins, then she wins. Also, the party should pass the resolution listed and this become the means by the way the party operates.

Considering all I have written, should she still be leader? That's up to the rank and file, but nonetheless, she should honour the constitution.