Saturday, May 30, 2015

Peter MacKay - Nothing

I have to say, I despise Andrew Coyne's Cro-magnon economic delusions. I think they're highly dangerous and self-evidently absurd. But I'm convinced that Coyne is a genuine defender of parliamentary democracy. I believe that if an NDP government were to be formed and began to implement policies half-way as left-wing as I'd like, that while he'd rant and rave and make predictions of doom that would fail, he would never consider advocating a coup. He would accept the outcome of the situation and rally behind a right-wing party to win back power fairly.

Because of all the excellent condemnations Coyne has written about harper's serial thuggery.

And I add this brilliant take-down of the simpering empty suit, Peter MacKay:
His career at the top of Canadian politics tells us more about the state of Canadian politics than anything else. That such a palpable cipher could have remained in high office for nearly a decade is a testament to many things: the thinness of the Tory front bench, the decline of cabinet, the prime minister’s cynicism, the media’s readiness to go along with the joke. The one thing it does not signify is his importance. He had all of the titles, but little influence, and less achievement.
As I've noticed while examining his performance at the C-51 hearings, he's just a bull-shitter of average abilities.  He's got the confidence that comes with privilege and the sense that he's too powerful to ever be held accountable. Nothing else.

Friday, May 29, 2015

C-51 Hearings Starring the Recently Resigned Peter MacKay

I've long had a healthy contempt for Peter MacKay. He just radiates entitlement and sleaze. He's an anti-democratic thug. His buffoonery when a reporter tried to ask him about the Colvin reports that he refused to share with Parliament but leaked to Christie Belchforth and Rosie DiMoron lowered him beyond all redemption. But reading his testimony at the C-51 hearings has given me more reason to despise him. This guy is just a mediocre bullshit artist who has grown confident due to the fact that abuses of power have allowed him to avoid a reckoning for his stupidity and deceit.

So, I gotta say, the news that MacKay has resigned brought a smile to my face today. It's pretty clear that like the other rats leaving the ship S.S. Harper, MacKay is worried about his electoral chances when his party is so thoroughly toxic to so many people. His massive ego and his considerable cowardice won't allow him to face the voters. MacKay is going to go on to his reward on all the corporate boards, wingnut welfare and patronage that he believes is his due.

Hopefully he'll be given a position of real responsibility somewhere. Because I have a strong suspicion that MacKay believes he has a contribution still to make. It would be wonderful if he obliged. Because he's a stupid idiot who would fuck it all up and there won't be the same safety net to catch him.

Anyhoooo .... Back to his performance at the C-51 hearings. [Oh! There was a word I was looking for yesterday. It's "choreograph." The whole shtick where they built up SIRC as the great watchdog over CSIS, when it's clearly not up to the task, and then they asked the CSIS dude if SIRC had ever criticized them for breaking the law and he could honestly answer "No" because SIRC didn't; ... that was choreography. CSIS has been criticized by other bodies, but not by SIRC. But by making SIRC out to be this "vigorous" and "robust" oversight body, they tried to make it seem like lack of criticisms from it is evident of an generally respectable institution.

After a few harpercon backbenchers got to recite their lines for Blaney and MacKay, questioning has returned to the NDP's Randall Garrison.

    Mr. Norlock opened up an interesting line of questioning, which I'd like to continue with, when he talked about the RCMP and its internal monitoring of activities. We used to have an inspector general of CSIS who did internal monitoring of observance of the law and CSIS activities, and that was eliminated by this government in 2012.

    I'd like to ask the minister, given the broad expansion of powers and activities contemplated for CSIS in this, why not bring back the inspector general's position? The former inspector general said quite clearly, and she actually used the word “ridiculous”, that it was ridiculous to think the review committee known as SIRC could do the same job of probing the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. She said:

They don't do the same kind of work at all.... They don't go into the same depth, the same detail. And they're basically part-time people.
    Instead of passing these powers to SIRC, which has basically had the same flat budget for the last 10 years, why not bring back the inspector general to help provide that internal oversight?

An excellent question! I wonder what the answer will be?
    I thank you for you question.
(Obviously stalling for time.)

    You are right in saying that there were some concerns when the office of the inspector general was closed, that it could have an impact. Well, it's the opposite that took place. For this I would refer you to the last annual report from SIRC, which clearly says:

As required under the CSIS act, SIRC's interaction with the Minister have become more frequent. Far from compromising its independence...this relationship has substantially added to [the security and intelligence review committee's] role in the system of accountability and has, if anything, deepened SIRC's ability to reassure Parliament and Canadians regarding the activities of the Service.
    This action was taken two years ago, and we can now say who has benefited: the whole Canadian society and the protection of their rights and their freedoms.
    Let me just add that it's not only SIRC that can review all CSIS activities, but it is also possible by the Auditor General and the Privacy Commissioner.  
So, according to Blaney, SIRC gives itself high marks for its oversight capabilities. Then, top off that embarrassing nonsense with empty assertions about how all of Canadian society is better off and all of our rights more protected, based on nothing. And then tell us we can depend on the Auditor General and the Privacy Commission to keep an eye on SIRC. What a repulsive imbecile.

     You raised two interesting points there. One, the last annual report of SIRC said very clearly that it had problems in receiving complete information in a timely manner from CSIS. They themselves have said that they've had problems doing the oversight because of a failure of cooperation in a complete and timely manner. How does that square with your argument that this is an improvement in robust oversight?

    I'm glad to see you are supporting our great Security Intelligence Review Committee. 
Clumsy. Obvious. Stupid.

Let me just say that Canada is one of the first democratic governments anywhere in the world to establish a statutory framework for its security service. We are pioneers in a totally independent institution. Is it critical sometimes of the work of CSIS? Absolutely. Actually, you just have to review their report. Indeed, they've done many reviews on counter-intelligence investigation, sensitive CSIS activities, namely the carrying of firearms—it's in the report—use of an emergency area, and they also have, as you know, a complaint process. We really have a robust system.

Desperate stringing-together of gibberish. NONE of that addressed Garrison's (and SIRC's) concerns about CSIS failing to provide information in a timely manner.

    What is also important is every year they are delivering a certificate to me.
    The question is, has CSIS operated under Canadian law? In most of its reviews, SIRC was satisfied this year with the manner in which CSIS carried out its mandate to investigate threats to the security of Canada and they gave this certificate of approval. Do they have good recommendations? Yes. Are they making CSIS a better security intelligence agency? Yes, they are.

Somebody shut this idiot up!

    In Bill C-51, for which I'm seeking the support of this committee, there are provisions that will mandate SIRC to review the threat diminishment activities that are in the provisions. We are increasing the mandate of SIRC the same way.
"We are increasing the mandate of SIRC in the same way that C-51 increases the mandate of SIRC." Say what???

    Thank you very much, Minister.

    Very briefly, at the end you mentioned the Privacy Commissioner, who unfortunately is not going to appear before this committee. Did you have a review of this legislation from the Privacy Commissioner before you introduced this legislation? What do you make of his concerns that this bill involves a significant loss of privacy rights?



    Yes, we consulted with the Privacy Commissioner, and I intend to meet with the Privacy Commissioner. As you know, this bill is about the protection of the rights and freedoms of Canadians and their privacy. There are embedded mechanisms in Bill C-51 and already within government, such as the privacy impact assessment, that will apply to the measures planned in this bill.

You spoke with the Privacy Commissioner and you'll speak to the Privacy Commissioner again. That means basically NOTHING as a response to the Privacy Commissioner's complaints about the bill. The purported subject matter of the bill has nothing to do with the Commissioner's complaints about the bill. The embedded mechanisms within the bill that the Privacy Commissioners must already know about do not address his concerns about the bill. Total useless, non-answer.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

More Useless, Self-Serving Testimony From Blaney-MacKay

Okay. Back to my exhaustive, and essentially pointless, examination of the testimony on C-51, Expansion of State Spying Act, at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

Last time, we caught out the witless Steven Blaney babbling about irrelevancies when asked clear questions about judicial oversight of the "disruption" activities of CSIS after the warrants have been issued. There is no subsequent oversight and Blaney knew this, so he dissembled and distracted, in his own clumsy way, to avoid having to admit it.

Now, evidently, the stolen majority government gets to have more questions from one of their own trained seals.
     I want to thank the ministers and their officials for attending this meeting this morning and for their input.

    Back in the 1920s my grandparents were experiencing terrorism in what was then known as the Soviet Union. They were refugees in Canada during that time. We've been thankful ever since that the government allowed my grandparents to immigrate here under the refugee program.
    One of the things that is of interest to me is with regard to the changes being made to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
    In terms of some of the amendments that this bill proposes, can you clarify why they are needed and why those changes are being made?

That's interesting actually. Dude refers to the terrorism of the Soviet Union. Where the government could spy on everyone, with no oversight. Where they had phony elections. Where human rights could be sacrificed to fight "wreckers" and "saboteurs" and other dangerous enemies of the state. Just like our elites today want to spy on us, and how harper engages in election fraud, and democracy is limited on purpose to only parties of the rich and powerful. And human rights are expendable. And environmentalists are all wreckers and saboteurs. And hunger-strikes by a First Nation Chief is "terrorism" and etc., etc., ...

Monday, May 25, 2015

A Krauthammer Diversion

I'm making a diversion from my in-depth summary of the C-51 hearings to deal with the latest propaganda attack from supporters of the GBWT.  This [extremely stupid] meme has been issuing from the orifices of several neo-cons but trying to read this particular version of it the other day has driven me to have to post a response.

Charles Krauthammer: "Ramadi defeat marks bottom for Obama's Middle East retreat"

So, apparently bad weather grounded the planes of the US anti-ISIS coalition and that left the inept Iraqi military alone against ISIS in the city of Ramadi. This resulted in a defeat for the Iraqi military who abandoned several types of armoured vehicles and heavy artillery. Krauthammer is going to try to pin this on Barack Obama, and take the opportunity to try to vindicate his hero, george dubya bush. Let's have a look at it, shall we?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

C-51 Hearings: Oversight of CSIS?

Yesterday we left off with Blaney and MacKay explaining to a fellow harpercon that lowering the threshold for putting a peace bond on someone or a recognizance on them will make it easier for the government to control the entire population, thereby helping to save us all from the dreadful fate of terrorism.

Which was a useless stating of the obvious blended with an equal part of creamy bullshit.

The questioning now moves to the NDP again:

     Thank you very much.


    Ms. DorĂ© Lefebvre, you have five minutes.

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    If I may, I would like to continue to talk about the civilian oversight of CSIS, because a number of questions have been left unanswered.
    Right now, the civilian oversight body of CSIS provides a report after the fact. Bill C-51 gives new powers to CSIS, but this is what I am wondering. Who will provide the oversight in real time? Who will ensure that CSIS complies with the warrants?

    Bill C-51 is providing several new powers to CSIS. Right now, the civilian oversight body provides a report once a year after the fact. Will we find out what happened after the fact as is the case right now, or will we know in real time what is happening exactly?   

    The answer is very simple. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service is subject to all Canadian laws, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and privacy laws.
    It is important to specify it this morning. The threat reduction activities set out in the legislation cannot undermine the physical integrity or health of an individual in any way whatsoever.

In other words, Blaney is saying that CSIS promises not to do something illegal, and, according to C-51, it is specifically stated that CSIS is not allowed to physically injure you or kill you.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Why Do I Continue With These Snippets of C-51 Hearings?

I'm doing this for my own purposes really. I don't expect my blogging to impact anything. Maybe half-a-dozen fellow progressives in Canada might get something out of reading my blog. (I assume the rest of my daily "hits" are people seeing my blog in the side-roll of someone else's blog, or as one of the lower down the page hits from a google search for something.)

If anything though, it's edifying to see that the harpercons are as contemptible when you give them time to speak and defend their views. For the most part, Blaney and MacKay have had nothing of value to say to justify this atrocious bill. You can tell that they're bullshitters, plain and simple.

Speaking of bullshit; yesterday I finished with Blaney's pathetic fluffing of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) as the soul remaining oversight body for the newly empowered CSIS. In response to Blaney's mutterings, harpercon backbencher Lavar Payne replied:

    That's a pretty good quote. Thank you.


    My next question is for Minister MacKay.
     Minister, in your opening remarks, you talked about lowering the thresholds for recognizance with conditions. I'm wondering if you could tell us why you believe that's important. Do you have any examples where law enforcement could have used this to benefit them in the past?

And what does the oily bimbo say in reply?

     The reality is that the peace bonds and recognizance are a tool, to borrow a phrase from Mr. Blaney, that the police are able to use in a pre-emptive manner. The classic case where you see an example of an individual exhibiting behaviour that would be consistent with someone who's been radicalized, somebody who may pose a threat, someone who may be, for example, subject to this type of activity in the future, the police are able, based on evidence, to go before a judge and seek a recognizance, or a peace bond, depending on that evidentiary burden, depending on the behaviour, and put in place through the judge certain conditions that the individual has to comply with. Those could include such things as forfeiture of passport, conditions of reporting, staying within a certain geographic area, not associating with certain individuals, not possessing weapons or explosives. 
This is all self-evidently dangerous twaddle coming from MacKay here. What do any of these terms mean??? What does "MAY" mean? You "may be ... subject to this kind of activity in the future"??? What the fuck does that mean???? "You're a Muslim, and therefore, you may be subject to radicalization in the future, therefore ..."? "Depending on the evidentiary burden"? What is the "evidentiary burden" under C-51? 

    You can see that these are two mechanisms, through the law, through a judicial exercise, that allow us to put controls in place prior to the commission of an offence. By lowering the thresholds, we gain greater access to those conditions and controls.

Yes Peter. Yes, you certainly do!

    It has been said in the past, and the argument I believe has been successfully made, that in cases of terrorism where the potential for harm, grave personal harm, is so real and perhaps imminent, lowering the thresholds to gain greater access to these tools is what we hope to achieve. That is what is encompassed in these sections of the bill. 

What "potential for harm"? If it is "so real and imminent" presumably we already have measures in place to deal with situation. Peter MacKay won't come down to specifics because he's peddling a line of bullshit meant only to vastly increase the surveillance and suppression powers of the state.

    Along a continuum, lowering the thresholds to have recognizance and peace bonds in place we believe will empower the police to make the right decisions, with judicial authorization, to put in place conditions that we hope will absolutely prevent and deter terrorist acts in Canada.

Meaningless garbage. God! What a mediocrity!

Monday, May 18, 2015

C-51 Hearings Continuing

This should be nauseating. A harpercon backbencher, LaVar Payne of Medicine Hat is going to ask questions:

     I'd like to thank Minister MacKay and Minister Blaney and their officials for coming. Certainly this is a very important piece of legislation and Canadians expect their government to protect our citizens as well as make sure that Canada is safe and secure.

    Minister Blaney, if you would like to go ahead and make that quote, I'd be more than happy to hear it.

Remember folks, that "conservatives" have killed more Canadians, through bad policies, than the terrorists have with their guns and bombs. Remember too, that their foreign policies, specifically, blind devotion to Israel and participation in bloody occupations, are what make us a target in the terrorists' eyes. So, not only is Payne's ass kissing disgusting simply for being ass kissing, his entire premise is erroneous.

    The chair is tough on me this morning, I must say.
Aha-ha-ha. Puke.

    What I want to say is really important. 

Thanks for the heads-up.

Our system is based on trust.

Ahem. I've just spent about half-an-hour looking for a post I wrote about a book on how Canada's parliamentary system was based on a minimum level of trust in the people working within it, and that harper's brazen dishonesty has made it untenable. If I find it later I'll put in a link. Because I can't remember the title at the moment. But, basically, Blaney's party countenanced Bev Oda's altering an official document, changing its meaning, and using that changed meaning to justify a policy decision. The policy choice itself was fairly innocuous (if stupid). Oda had every right to cut funding for the religious charity KAIROS. What she didn't have the right to do was alter the written recommendation from her staff that she fund KAIROS by scribbling "NOT" in after the fact. A cretin like Blaney needs to have it explained that changing the information and advice of your experts is dangerous. If the experts say crime is going down, but you want to scare peope, go in and change the document to make the "facts" fit your theory. 

That's why Munir Sheikh resigned as Chief Statistician at StatsCan, because idiot sleaze-ball Tony Clement kept saying that Sheikh agreed with the idiotic decision to cancel the long-form Census.

When harper refused to share basic financial information about the costs of his policies with Parliament (and was subsequently found to be in contempt of Parliament) that exposes Blaney's blithering about "trust" right there.

All of harper's policies are designed to encourage division among Canadians, thereby making "trust" impossible to achieve. Here's Alex Himmelfarb:
A growing body of international research, most notably by Sweden’s Bo Rothstein and, in the US, Jong-Sung You, points us to what may be the underlying factor we’ll need to address if we are to turn things around: the decline of social trust.
By “social trust” is meant something more than whether we trust our neighbour or others in our community or in similar circumstance. It is rather the generalized belief that most people in a society can be trusted, including those quite different from ourselves.
Social trust is not the same as political trust, but where it is high people are readier to trust their democracy, more willing to give the benefit of the doubt to government when something goes wrong, and less likely to see the latest scandal as indicative of the entire class of politicians. Even when governments perform so badly as to make political trust impossible, where social trust is high, citizens still participate, still try to make things better. Because they trust the future and their ability to influence it, they are still capable of outrage rather than the indifference or fatalism of the jaded.
High social trust implies solidarity, the sense that the members of a society share a common fate and mutual responsibility and this is reflected in greater commitment to helping others. Individuals take responsibility not only for themselves and those in their social milieu, but also for the stranger, and for the direction of their society.
According to the research, the most important factor in determining the degree of social trust in a society seems to be its level of equality, both economic equality and equality of opportunity. In highly unequal societies rich and poor live such fundamentally different lives that it’s impossible to develop the mutual empathy essential to building trust and a sense of shared fate. When this is coupled with lack of opportunity for economic progress we get conflict, politics as a zero-sum game and a downward spiral of distrust. Highly unequal societies are also characterized by widespread corruption, which undermines all manner of trust.
Over much of the post-war period, with some exceptions, most notably our shameful treatment of Aboriginal people, Canada did pretty well in both social trust and equality, tucked in just behind the Scandinavian countries and Netherlands. The last couple of decades, however, have seen a sharp decline in social trust and an accelerating increase in income inequality, and while mobility is still pretty high it won’t stay that way if income inequality continues to grow. We are in better shape than many but are moving in the wrong direction.
Canadians are rightly proud of our universal medicare but we are allowing it to erode. Public funding for education is in decline so more of the burden and related debt fall to students and their families. Wages are under assault – witness the attacks on collective bargaining and the abuse of the foreign workers program. Fewer than forty per cent of unemployed Canadians have access to employment insurance. Our income support system is fragmented and inadequate – and too often demeaning.  Huge gaps – childcare, civil legal aid, pharma- and home-care – exacerbate inequality.   Old fault lines are deepening and new ones are emerging, particularly with respect to constrained opportunities for young Canadians. We are squandering the Canadian advantage.
So much to be said about Blaney's ignorant ravings.
As politicians we get elected because people trust in us, actually. 
Says the Election Fraud Party of Canada. It is to weep ...
It is important to maintain that bond of trust, the trust of Canadians towards their institutions. Are they perfect? No, they are not. Are politicians perfect? They aren't either. Well, that's why we have mechanisms to review and see if there have been mistakes. Have there been mistakes in the past? Yes. Will there be mistakes in the future? There could be, but we must ensure we do everything to avoid them.
Whether he actually believes this or he's shamelessly lying, either way, it's sickening.

The quote I want to give you, and I'll give it to you right away, is about the Security Intelligence Review Committee. They are this Canadian model designed 30 years ago that is keeping an eye on our intelligence community. They are experts. They have independence. They don't have political interference. They have the knowledge and the expertise to conduct their activities. They have a deep understanding and knowledge of CSIS. You only have to read the report to know how deep they can go. Actually, this is the mandate we the parliamentarians have given them. They are actually an extension of Parliament. SIRC is an extension of Parliament. They are acting on our behalf and they are reporting to this very Parliament. That's what our Security Intelligence Review Committee is.
    Well, this security intelligence review process is an example of the Canadian legal system striking a better balance between the protection of sensitive information and the procedural rights of individuals. Who said that? The Supreme Court of Canada.

Such desperation makes it obvious he knows that what he's pushing is toxic. SIRC! SIRC! SIRC! The part-time oversight body run by retired hacks and white-collar criminals.  The harpercons eliminated the Office of the Inspector General and intend for SIRC to take on its responsibilities, but have not given SIRC extra resources for its new responsibilities.

Here, read this whole article. It's an indictment of Blaney's stupidity.

That's all for today.

Friday, May 15, 2015

C-51 Hearings: More Questions From NDP's Randall Garrison

So, yesterday's post showed us both Steven Blaney and Peter MacKay babbling like the nitwits they are, trying to explain why they previously removed the state's power to take down hate speech from the internet but are now saying the state should have this power to fight "terrorism" because, as Blaney pontificated, "It all starts with words." He would go on to say that the Holocaust and the Rawandan genocide were both products of (at first) words. So, Blaney was not talking about actual terrorist plots being posted on line. The Nazis never announced their "Final Solution" for the Jews. They did not broadcast to the German people to kill all the Jews. Almost up to the end they employed deceit and codewords to mask what they were doing. When Blaney talks about the "words" that were used, he is referring to the murderous, hateful words that Hitler and his gang of bigoted psychopaths used to set the tone for what they planned on doing.

But, the NDP's Randall Garrison insisted, if hateful words cause genocides, why
take away the Human Rights Commission's power and give it to the Department of Public Safety under the guise of fighting only "terrorism"?

Neither Blaney nor MacKay could give a good answer because the truth was hard to dignify. Ordinary right-wing racism is fine and dandy. But anything that targets the system, from actual terrorism to protesters, is fair game for suppression.

Garrison gave up on that line of questioning and turned to Blaney's bullshit about "robust judicial oversight" of CSIS trampling of Canadians' Charter rights to fight terrorism.

    I want to go back to the question of oversight. Again, when I was asking the minister, he said the warrant authorizes this disruptive activity if it involves illegal or unconstitutional activity, but he didn't get a chance to respond to my question, which is how does that ever get oversight from a judge? Once that warrant is issued, how does that ever get back before the courts?

    You talk about judicial oversight. I don't see any way.... In contrast, when the RCMP uses disruptive tactics as part of a criminal investigation, that ends up back in front of the courts and the courts do get to see that, but in this case, they are secret activities not aimed at criminal prosecutions and so they will not appear before the courts.

    As you know, we now have had the Canadian Security Intelligence Service for more than 30 years. In my capacity as Minister for Public Safety, and as Mr. Easter also had the opportunity to do in the past, we already have judicial oversight that relates to collecting information. This goes through a robust oversight mechanism first.
    When CSIS is willing to carry out collection activity that would require a warrant, it has to submit its proposal to the Department of Public Safety. There are more than 1,000 people working at Public Safety with experts who have the experience to validate that, and those people give me a recommendation on whether or not I should accept the warrant to collect information. Those activities—

Blaney always sounds like someone who doesn't have confidence in what he's saying. He has to lard on the complimentary adjectives to the slightest thing to try to sell his ideas because he senses the core of what he has to say is either nonsense or very thin gruel. Like what; do 1,000 people look at a warrant request? Are they all "experts" with "more than 30 years" experience?

     Minister, the question is about afterwards; how does this get back before the courts after the warrant?

    Well, what I want to tell you is that we're conducting those activities. We've already been conducting those activities for 30 years. Afterwards, what happens, where we have oversight, we have a review body. We have the Security Intelligence Review Committee, and I just quoted how the role of SIRC is important, but let me give you another quote this morning.

    Thank you very much.
    We will now go to Mr. Payne.

So, it's SIRC once again. The Committee that stephen harper felt so highly of that he appointed Arthur Porter to the position of its Chair.

By his own telling, there was nothing that justified his appointment to SIRC, beyond the debased coin of patronage. Once installed at SIRC, his attitudes towards the conduct of Canadian intelligence were, at best, superficial and, at worst, at odds with Canadian values. Porter was not a fit guardian, and brought into disrepute the office that Canadians rely on to keep tabs on our spies.

Porter tells us in his memoir that he ticked “all the right boxes” for an appointment to SIRC. What he means by the “right boxes” is clear: He was a known Conservative, had friends in the party, routinely attended fundraisers, did the back-slapping routine and was a doctor with an African background and international experience. In other words, he was a patronage appointment with multicultural benefits. No mention is made of his non-existent knowledge of security and intelligence matters, or his complete lack of political experience.

In a way, it's fortunate that this fraudster wasn't interested in CSIS or his job at SIRC. Imagine if he'd gotten it into his head to see if there was some way he could take advantage of his position?
One of Porter's replacements, former harpercon MP Chuck Strahl, was forced to resign because, as a pipeline lobbyist, he'd be in a blatant conflict-of-interest. (Given that anti-pipeline protesters are a target for CSIS and the oil industry controls the government and therefore CSIS.) "Damned stupid rules!" harper must have fumed.

I've already posted other condemnations of SIRC's inadequacies during this series. I don't think there's any need to further go into the uselessness of Blaney's argument here.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

C-51 Hearing: NDP's Randall Garrison

So, last time, we'd just finished reading Steven Blaney's nauseatingly stupid response to some soft-ball questions from a fellow totalitarian slimeball fraudster harpercon MP.  The question was stupid and Blaney's answer was a bunch of useless assertions and generalities that told Canadians nothing of substance. Now, we'll read the NDP's Randall Garrison's questions and the witnesses' answers:
    Thank you very much, Minister.

     Mr. Garrison for five minutes.

    You have the floor.

    Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
    I have expressed my concerns before about overinflated rhetoric when it comes to this bill. I heard the minister earlier make a reference to the Holocaust. I would assert that there is no equivalence for anything we're talking about here today to the Holocaust. At best, the reference seems to trivialize the Holocaust. I'd like to offer the minister an opportunity to withdraw that comment.

Ah! We're at this part of the hearing!

    I will answer in French.

    Violence begins with words. Hatred begins with words. I can mention the Rwandan genocide, which started on the radio. It was a horrible genocide. One of our former senators has paid the price, and his mental health has been greatly affected by it. Yes, it is important to call it what it is. A spade is a spade. Extremist speeches, the language that undermines Canadian values, basically hate propaganda has no place in Canada.
    It is time for the government to assume its responsibilities and not tolerate disrespectful, violent and hateful language. That is what the legislation basically allow us to do. I therefore stand by what I said and I repeat that the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers. It began with words. That is why it is clearly important to respect the rights and freedoms of Canadians, but we must not tolerate incitement to violence.

    Then, Mr. Minister, why did this government take away the power of the Canadian Human Rights Commission to remove hate crime material from the Internet? Your government sponsored and passed a bill through this House and through the Senate that took away the power of the Human Rights Commission to order the withdrawal of hate crimes material from the Internet. Why did you do that then and why are you advocating the opposite now?

I wondered about that too. Also, there was the Conservatives having Canada vote AGAINST a Russian proposal at the United Nations to combat the glorification of fascism. (Canada voted against it stating concerns for "freedom of speech" but, obviously, since they don't give a shit about freedom of speech, that answer is false. The fact of the matter is that besides having neo-nazi white supremacists as an important part of their political base, the Conservatives are also supporting a fascist, anti-Russian government in the Ukraine. AWKWARD!) 

Besides all that, it's kind of funny to read Blaney blithering about how the government isn't going to tolerate "disrespectful" language. Time and time again, his ilk have shown themselves to be the champions of disrespectful language, so long as it's targeted at Muslims. Or the First Nations. 
What does the idiot Blaney think of the fact that Israel has made a justice minister out of a psychotic racist who called for the destruction of the entire Palestinian people? There's a case where the words haven't led to genocidal violence; the violence had been going on since before that nut-bar was born. She just wanted to use her words to speed-up the killing. Blaney hasn't said anything on the topic. It's possible he has his brain shuts down when he encounters such information, so that he doesn't have to process it. But if one were to drag Blaney's face to the poop and rub his nose in it, that it wouldn't cause him to re-think his and his party's slavish devotion to Israel one iota. Because Blaney is a hypocrite and a fraud. He doesn't even give a shit about the safety of Canadians (ostensibly his highest priority).

But what about Garrison's question: If we have to have the power to remove hateful words from the internet, why did his party remove the state's power to take down hate-speech from the internet before?

    Mr. Garrison, what I am saying this morning is that the bill will enable us to take down websites that promote hate propaganda or propaganda related to any form of terrorism, regardless of its source. There is no place for incitement to violence in Canada. It's as simple as that. That is what the legislation says.

    I'm not sure whether you agree with me this morning, but if a website hosted in Canada promotes jihadism and tells us to kill all the infidels wherever they are in the world, I think that flies in the face of Canadian values. That is why I think we, as politicians, must continue to adopt measures to combat terrorism and prevent radicalization. That is exactly why I urge you to support Bill C-51. That is the right thing to do if we want to protect the rights and freedoms of Canadians and to protect them from the terrorist threat.

Notice that the stammering idiot hasn't answered the question.

     Mr. Minister, I'm still having trouble understanding what the difference is between the powers you took away from the Human Rights Commission and the powers you're suggesting today.

    Let me just clarify that. 

Ah! To the rescue rides the journeyman bull-shitter, Peter "Obnoxious Asswipe" MacKay: 

   Mr. Garrison, as you know full well, hate promotion, propaganda, genocide are covered in the Criminal Code of Canada and anyone engaged in that type of activity is subject to prosecution in Canada. Let's not leave any impression—I know that's not what you're trying to do—that somebody is going to be free to carry out that type of heinous activity in Canada and not be subject to charge and prosecution. It's in the Criminal Code. 

And the relevance of all that to Garrison's question is .....? It turns out that Garrison gives up on that line of questioning and goes on to another topic. So we'll pause here and just reflect on the significance of it. At an earlier time, the harpercons voted to eliminate the state's power to remove hate speech from the internet. Because they're all about the "freedom" to sow hatred against other groups of people. But, when it comes to "terrorism" (which is something that really, only Muslims or other specific groups of mainly brown people do) they want to restore that power. So, we need the "freedom" to post racist calls to violence against the First Nations whenever they protest (or, really, whenever they exist), but we've invented this new concept, this new version of the word "terrorism" that basically means the convenient bogeyman of Middle East terrorism, which is basically the replacement for the Soviet Union of the Cold War, ... an enemy for us all to hate, to distract us, and to rationalize clamp-downs on freedoms and rights. But "terrorism" is a purposefully elastic concept which can be extended to include anyone who is opposed to capitalism, or the abuses required to maintain capitalism. So, when it's a targeted group of people, racism AGAINST them on the internet is fine. Calls FROM them to fight back is "terrorism" and can be removed.

So, to repeat: Calls from bigots for the police or the military to exterminate First Nations protesters? Not terrorism. Calls for the nuclear annihilation of Arab cities by the US military? Not terrorism. Calls of support for violent police racism against Blacks in the USA (and for the gunning down of protesters against this police brutality)? Not terrorism.

Calls to Jihad against western imperialism in the Middle East? Terrorism. Criticism of Israeli expansionism and calls for boycotts? Terrorism. Blockading a railroad track to defend First Nations treaty rights? Terrorism. Calls to block a pipeline route? Terrorism. Calls to fight back against the criminal, fraudulent, anti-democratic, vile scum of the harpercons? Obviously terrorism.

That's enough for today.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Right-Wingers Responding to NDP Victory in Alberta

I'm taking a break from my leisurely summary of the Public Safety & National Security Committee hearings on Bill C-51 (which has passed the House of Commons and is now in the House of Patronage) to talk about the right-wing response to the Alberta NDP's amazing victory.

It might have been a CBC story, or the Globe & Mail, ... I forget, ... something in my Facebook feed anyway. But those crazy right-wing fuckers had obviously become totally unhinged. A few of them managed to retain their composure and say that it was merely a protest vote, it wouldn't last. But even those (perhaps one third of the comments) joined their colleagues in stating that Notley's NDP would fuck everything up and it would be (at least in the short-term) a disaster. The majority of the comments though were screeches about how much they hated seeing the retarded socialists celebrating their victory. How the right-wing was robbed because of vote-splitting in the first-past-the-post electoral system (that they hadn't complained about once in over four decades!), how the NDP would implement "the policies of envy and greed" (say what?), how the people of Alberta were fools for having allowed this to happen.

They have such passion, such conviction, ... if one didn't know better (and I do) one would almost think they might have a genuine point.

Of course, they don't have a point. For me, being the age I am, it's been decades of false promises and real fuck-ups by the right-wing agenda, topped-off with the double-whammy of the non-existent WMDs in Iraq and then, after governments everywhere had done everything the "free-market" ideologues asked for, the world economy crashed and burned in the aftermath of the financial sector meltdown caused by corruption and greed and brazen stupidity.

Now I just laugh (albeit ruefully) when these cretins begin their hideous moaning.

So the Alberta NDP is going to fuck everything up is it? But when the Alberta PC's blunder, and fail to collect $2 billion a year in resource royalties between 2009 and 2015, robbing the province's coffers of a total $13.5 billion, ... well, that's fine and dandy? "Sure it is!" bellow the rock-ribbed "conservatives." "That money stayed with the free market instead of being confiscated by the dead hand of the state. Meaning the captains of industry could invest it to produce even more wealth for the people of Alberta. The people of Alberta could enjoy even more of the sweet fruits of exploiting their province's non-renewable resource!" Too bad that whole argument is complete bullshit:
But what about the other side of the balance sheet? Which place is doing a better job of capturing public value from a public resource? Dividing resource revenues by production reveals some shocking figures. Norway realized revenues of $87.69 per barrel in 2013. Alaska managed $38.54. And Alberta? Just $4.38 -- one-twentieth what our Norwegian cousins managed to rake in. 
I will be the first to concede that Norwegian oil is a far more valuable resource than the high-cost and economically marginal oilsands resource that was allegedly destined to make Canada a global energy superpower.

But is Brent crude worth 20 times as much as bitumen? Of course not -- on the world market Brent currently fetches about 35 per cent more. More importantly, Alberta has already produced 15 per cent more conventional oil and gas than Norway, and didn't have to go 200 kilometres out in the North Sea to get it. Even at current depressed prices, Alberta oil, gas and bitumen production to 2013 would have a combined market value of $1.7 trillion. So where did the money go?
And it isn't just Alberta that serves as a lesson for right-wing fools who believe that business knows best and who trust in the advice of people whose primary goal is maximizing their own profits. Many have commented on how Britain's oil wealth was squandered during the Thatcher years:
Oil's failure to intrude into the public debate, particularly in southern Britain, had an important consequence. "Not fixing the roof while the sun shone", the favourite Tory accusation against the Blair/Brown regime, held true in spades for the way oil receipts were spent in the Thatcher years. Other countries – Norway is the leading example – used their tax on oil to modernise infrastructure and industry, or hoarded some of it in a sovereign wealth fund for the proverbial rainy day. Instead the Treasury used every last pound of it to set against current expenditure, leaving nothing for capital projects or the post-Thatcher future. No roofs were fixed: in this respect, Mrs Thatcher as the prudent housewife is a piece of make-believe.
Turns out that serving yourselves up at a discount to rapacious corporate plunderers isn't a winning strategy after all. Who knew? I'll tell you who knew! The left-wing! The people who believe in human rights and a healthy environment over profit.

I'm fully prepared to be disappointed by the new NDP government of Alberta. But I will never believe that the lunk-headed chumps, bigots and ignoramuses of the right-wing have anything to teach me.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

C-51 Committee Hearings Cont'd

Right, so RCMP Commissioner Paulson had just finished summarizing their "anti-radicalization" programs.

     Thank you very much, Commissioner and Minister.

    Now we will go to Ms. Ablonczy, for five minutes, please.

    A lot of Canadians will remember the debate a little over 30 years ago when the Liberal government under Prime Minister Trudeau brought in the act that created CSIS.

Okay. Before we go any further, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Diane Ablonczy is a cretinous back-bencher who has been fed her talking-points question by the almost as cretinous Steven Blaney. Also, That it's important to point out that CSIS was created by the Liberals. The Liberal Party of Trudeau that had invoked the War Measures Act during the October Crisis. The Liberal Party of the Anti-Terrorism Act. The Liberal Party that needlessly voted for this same bill we're talking about here; C-51. Supposedly they voted for it (even though the Conservatives have a stolen majority) so as not to be painted "soft on terror." They're so fearful of this charge that they can't even imagine defending themselves against it and so, are voting for a dangerous piece of legislation that they claim to disagree with. Personally, I'm starting to think that when it comes to creating the Orwellian state, it's Liberal-Tory, Same Old Story. They go through the pantomime of debate, but it's all a sad farce.

Immediately there were voices of protest and fear raised when CSIS was created. There were allegations that the creation of this civilian security agency would be a step toward a police state. Thirty years ago the naysayers said that...the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said that no Canadian would be safe from being targeted. Thirty years ago the Ontario government said that CSIS would have unlimited and unchecked powers, carte blanche, to break every law in Canada. We know today that there are many activities that threaten Canadian security that do not fall under the Criminal Code or under the mandate of the RCMP. We value CSIS and the work it does.

In an earlier post on these hearings, I quoted from legal scholar Craig Forcese, who pointed out:

Minister Blaney also sought to dismiss some critics as alarmists, suggesting that the B.C. Civil Liberties Association is a serial “fear monger” because it objected also in 1983 to the original CSIS bill. A little history: The CSIS bill tabled and debated in 1983 is not our current CSIS Act. As CSIS itself notes, that 1983 bill was referred to a special Senate committee in response to public outcry. That body made many recommendations, and the 1983 bill was withdrawn, redrafted and then a new bill tabled in substantially modified and improved form in January 1984 – incidentally, an election year. So thanks go to the Cassandras of the past.

So, just so we're prepared. And, anyway, once again, CSIS was created to separate spying authority from policing authority. When the RCMP had spying authority, they used their policing authority to abuse what they knew.

    One example is criticism of the expansion of the passenger protect program, Minister. The NDP say it is already illegal to travel abroad to join in terrorist activity. I wonder if you would speak to that and why you believe the mandate of the passenger protect program needs to be expanded.
    Thank you, Ms. Ablonczy, for your question. It seems that we are seeing history repeat itself in some way where some people are bringing a fallacious narrative. That's why I'm proud to be here to talk about the bill for what it is and not for what people may think or would like it to be.
    It is a very important exercise for this committee to undertake a review over the course of the next month. As Canadians we expect to base our conversation on facts and on reality.

What a stupid asshole.

I am confident that Canadians understand the goal of the bill, which is to protect the rights and freedoms of Canadians and their privacy. It provides tools to those who are there to protect us, as well as provides tools to those who are watching those who are there to protect us. That is what Bill C-51 is all about. 

Stop the self-serving babbling and start answering questions you fuckwad!

    There are robust oversight and review mechanisms. I give the example that we are one of the few countries that will need judicial oversight for threat diminishment. Once all of these activities have been conducted there will be a strong review.

This is nonsense! He's not saying anything!

     Let me tell you what our Security Intelligence Review Committee said about their work and how they see their work in terms of reviewing the work that has been accomplished. What they like to have is distance, so they can have a critical eye on the operation of the intelligence community. They said that our model of ongoing and methodological review also has the distinct advantage of allowing for a full and impartial assessment of our Canadian security intelligence agency's performance, arguably better positioning it to detect potential problems earlier.

SIRC has already been soundly thrashed as an insufficient, if not incompetent body. The fact that they wrote a summation of their work that was self-congratulatory is meaningless.

    We have 30 years of independent expertise and knowledge without political interference and without government interference, because they are fully independent. They are lawyers and researchers who bring continuity. Some of them have worked in the intelligence community. You may have heard the director himself yesterday saying he was fully staffed to do the important work he has to accomplish.
    To get back to your passenger protect question, it's fairly clear—

    Very briefly, Minister.

Yes, please, you blithering idiot.

    Okay. This act was passed when there was the attack on the World Trade Center by those who wanted to attack our safety using the airplane. We need to be able to arrest those people even though we cannot lay charges. If we have reason to believe they will conduct a terrorist attack, then we need to be able to prevent them from travelling. That's why we need to add the high-risk traveller to our no-fly list. 

That steaming mess of stupid garbage doesn't deserve any sort of reasoned critique. It was empty drivel from start to finish. Disgusting.