An Interesting Week

It has been a strange week in the news.

Sex-Ed Woes
Ontario announced to much fanfare that it was giving the sexual education curriculim a significant overhaul. I was franky surprised at how much media attention the issue got. It was almost as if they were stirring the pot rather that reporting the news. If that was their goal it worked. It only took a day or so for the religous lobby to climb up on their high horse and force the Ontario government to back down.

There has been a great deal of positive and negative response to the proposal but as always it is easier to get attention for opposing an issue than by being on the supporting side.

My favorite comment though was in a letter to the Globe & Mail where letterwriter Geoff Millar wrote "The President of the Somaii Parents for Education thinks that sex eucation should not be a public, but private matter, and not part of general education. This from someone who hails from a country where 95% of the female population has been forced to undergo female genital mutilation."

Good point Geoff. 

Have the Police Got Better Things to Do?
Both the Harper and the Wall governments have been wasting  police time and resources this week by asking them to examine information to see if in eaither case charges are warrented.
  • In Ottawa  Harper asked the RCMP to investigate the famous Guergis/Jaffer couple to see if pictures exist of the couple in the company of prostitues and with cocaine being present.
  • In Regina the Wall government claims that they can't really talk about the details about the Serge LeClerc incedent because the police are investigating a tape which was provided to the CBC in which it is claimed thet LeClerc talked about doing cocaine and smoking weed.
I am sorry but the police can't lay charges or take any action as a result of their being pictures taken or because some who might sound like a MLA admits it on tape. Both governments are hiding behind this absurd notion to avoid talking about their errant politicians and in doing so are abusing their power and wasting the time of the law enforcement agencies. We woukd all be better served if those agencies just spoke up.

Tom Lukiwski Weighs in

I was surprised to read that at the Jaffer hearings Tom Lukiwski scolded Rahiem Jaffer this week asking him, Do believe or do you understand that your actions have tarnished the reputation of all politicians from all parties"  

I had to give my head a shake. How Tom "A Team" Lukiwski could lecuture anyone about keeping a higher standard is beyond me.

Kenny vs Galloway

Catheryn Atkinson wrote a large peice on Rabble about British MP Goerge Galloway and his being prevented from entering Canada to give a series of four lectures on mid east issues.It seems, as most of us suspected all along that Jason Kenney was very hands on in the decision to ban Galloway despite his repeated denials.

Documents showing that Kenney's office was vigoriously invloved in pressuring the Canadian Border Services to ban Galloway will be filed in court next week.
Atkinson wrote " The controversy behind the Canadian banning of outspoken British anti-war MP George Galloway is set to deepen -- with potentially damaging implications for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Jason Kenney, and others.  ....After Galloway and his supporters launched court action against the ban, 66 pages of documents of particular importance were mistakenly released to his legal team. The documents make up a paper trail of the events leading up to Galloway's ban, and are known as the Court Tribunal Record. The Canadian government's lawyers requested their return, unopened and unread, and in order to be redacted, claiming they related to issues of National Security. The judge, Justice Richard Mosley, declined this request on Jan. 4, 2010, with some minor exceptions" 

It should be an interesting week in the courts and in the house.

Peter Milliken's Historical Decision

Next week, the speaker of the House of Commons will make a landmard ruling about which group holds the real power in Ottawa, the collective Members of Parliament or the political party that has formed government. This is a particularly important issue when the party in power is in the miniority. and when that government is controled with an iron fist by the Prime Minister's office.

Peter Milliken has ruled on hundreds of points of privilege since he was first elected speaker of the House of Commons. He has held the position for almost a decade now but none of his decisions may be as importantas the ruling he hand down next week as part of the struggle between the opposition parties that collectively hold the balance of power and Stephen Harper's minority government.

After months of stonewalling by Harper's Government and being completely stimied in their efforts to get their hands of documents relevant to the transfer of prinoners in Afgahanstan Canada's opposition parties which, after all, form a majority in the House, passed a motion in December ordering the government to release unredacted versions of documents concerning the treatment of detainees in Afghanistan. The government refused and the opposition, collectively asked the speaker to find the government in contempt of parliament.

What ever happens next week however will not be the end of it so, don't expect the government to hand over the documets any time soon. As understand it if the Speaker rules in favor of the motion, which would be the first such ruling in our history, the issue then goes back to government committee, which may then bring it back to the House of Commons for a final vote. Some suggest that even the Supreme Court might get involved no matter which way he rules and of course a ruling in favour might just mean an spring election.

The vision of Stephen Harper wrapped in the Canadian flag, out on the hustings self righteously preaching that he is just trying to protect our brave Canadan soldiers who are putting their lives at risk, trying to bring democracy to Afghanistan ,from the reckless actions of the opposition parties already is starting to turn my stomach.

No matter how the issue got before the Speaker or how you feel about the Canadians military's cavalier attitude about handing prisoners over to be tortured, this issue is bigger than that. The struggle between kings, queens and prime ministers and Parliament isn't new but it is pretty fundamental to our democracy.

If the Speaker rules in Harper's favour, it will crystalize the power in the PMO and this government wrapped in a cloak of secrecy, one elected by considerably less that a majority of Canadians, bouyed by their new found power will most likely move this country even further to the right.

Hold on to your hats,


You Are Suppoese to Read Your Own Press Releases

Saskatchewan Conservative Mps have often been accused of having a bad case of foot in mouth disease. From Gerry “the cracker” Ritz to Tom ”A team” Lukiwski the Saskatchewan Tory team of lightweights never fail to amuse and infuriate us.

The latest fool on the Hill is the little known Garry Breitkreuz from the Yorkton-Melville riding.. Garry doesn’t like gun control and the Tories have launched an orchestrated campaign to ridicule Ignatieff's decision and to try to bring pressure to the eight Liberal MPs, who supported the bill at second reading, to stick to their guns when it comes up for a final vote next month.

A big team player Garry jumped on the bandwagon and issued his own press release about the matter this week. Unfortunately for Garry he had to apologize for what some suggest was urging Liberals to beat Michael Ignatieff “black and blue” in that release.

Breitkreuz was quoted calling Ignatieff's attempt to head off elimination of the registry "an act of desperation that insults the intellect of Canadians." That Ignatieff is "a bully who may well be committing political suicide." The release goes on to say. "His true colours are showing and, if his caucus has any integrity, those colours should be black and blue."

He also called the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police to task for saying that the registry helps save lives. Describing the association he said "It's like a cult that is led by organizations of police chiefs who pretend the registry helps them do their jobs. They should be ashamed."

Liberal MP Wayne Easter, one of the MPs the Tories are trying to court, called it "a tirade that's unbecoming of a member of Parliament." Easter, who broke ranks and voted last November to scrap the registry, said the release was "off the wall" and called questioned whether Breitkreuz might have inhaled too much air on the Hill on Tuesday, which was heavy with the smell of marijuana during a protest against restrictive pot laws. "Was he out there talking to the wacky tobacco groups or something? I think he must've got too much of that smoke up his nose and it affected his brain."

Reminiscent of an incident of a Saskatchewan Party MLA who recently claimed to have been misquoted in her own press release, Tuesday afternoon the MP is reported to have said that he did not write the release, which was issued under his name earlier in the day. Mystified by it all Breitkreuz is quotes as saying "I want to apologize for the language in the news release. It was over the top," he said in a phone interview from his office. I don't know how that got out of here."

It must be a bit frustrating for the Yorkton MP after 15 years in the House of Commons and he finally got his name in the big city newspapers, for looking like a fool.

A bit of advice Garry. You are supposed to read these releases before they go out under your name.


Move Over Helena Guergis

The question many people here on the prairies are asking themselves, well here on the middle of the prairies anyway, is who the hell is Serge LeClerc? It is also the question that Premier Brad Wall must be wishing he’d asked himself some time ago.

LeClerc was the kind of guy the political religious right dream about. The former drug kingpin, gang leader and self proclaimed most dangerous criminal in Canada, who found God and right wing politics was like a dream come true to Brad. In fact LeClerc says that Brad Wall asked him to run for the Saskatchewan Party after a vision of LeClerc being sworn in came to him in a dream. That all must seem like a bit of a nightmare at this point.

In retrospect it seems like the MLA has been unravelling for a while now. He was recently was accused of giving the Leader of the Opposition the finger in the Saskatchewan legislature and the NDP leader has also claimed that LeClerc threatened him.

Now the CBC has a tape on which someone who apparently sounds very much like LeClerc talks about personal drug use and engaging in sex with another man.

LeClerc has been vociferous in his denials calling the leaked material to be a smear job saying that he does not use drugs anymore saying “If I had been doing drugs, cocaine especially, 13 months ago, I’d be 110 pounds and I’d be a babbling idiot.” Really? For a former drug kingpin he really doesn’t know much about recreational drug use or perhaps he is just another babbling idiot.

He also was quick to say that he has never engaged in “illicit homosexual sex” which helped to confuse matters even more. That comment of course, made one wonder, either LeClerc thinks that sex between two, or more, consenting men or women for that matter is illegal or he might be saying that any sex he may have had with another male was between consenting adults.

Since his initial comment he has tried to clarify matters by saying that he does not have sexual relations with men.

If there is nothing to all this it would seem that it would be simple to offer up his computer so his hard drive can be scrutinized but as luck would have it, Serge claims he doesn't have his personal laptop any more. No word on where the one he was issued as a MLA is.

We may never see Serge LeClerc back in the legislature. He is now saying that he had decided, before the potential scandal broke, not to seek re-election and that he had discussed his decision not to re-offer with the premier. The Premier must have forgotten that conversation since he apparently signed LeClerc’s nomination papers March 30. LeClerc is now saying that he may go in sick leave rather that face the music. No surprise that he would take this very modern way out rather than staring the opposition down across the legislature. The NDP have made it very clear they do not want him over on their side of the house.

Serge LeClerc is a bit of an enigma. He is a shameless self promoter with about five websites all talking his former life of crime in a rather boastful manner. He sounds proud of his work as a criminal. Somehow most of what he says rings hollow to me. There is no shame when he talks about his former life and to me at least, his boastful tone doesn’t seem quite right for someone who has turned his life around after finding religion.

What we really do need now is for someone with at least some moderate research skills, a modest budget and some time, a rare thing in the Saskatchewan newspapers community, to find out how much of the Serge LeClerc story is actually true and how much of it is just the ramblings of a petty criminal who found an easier way to fund his meal ticket.

So, move over Helena Guergis, Serge is taking over.


No Fool Like an Old Fool

Like many Canadians, I was surprised to read an opinion piece in the Globe & Mail last week encouraging Canada to strengthen ties with Saudi Arabia. At a time when 24 year old Nazia Quazi, a Canadian Citizen from Ottawa is basically being held captive by her father in that country, to prevent her from marrying her boyfriend, it seemed a bit out of touch. What surprised me even more was to see that the article was penned by none other than that old rascal, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Mulroney, who could clearly use some advice when it comes to picking his friends, has once again climbed into bed with a partner of questionable reputation.

The former Prime Minister notes that Canada exports more than $1.4 billion dollars worth of materials into Saudi Arabia. He gushes that it is “…a country with a dynamic economy that offers tremendous opportunities for our businesses and institutions.” “This relationship is about more than trade.” he says.

Mulroney says that there have been six major ministerial visits to Saudi Arabia by Canadians recently and boasts that he is personally leading a bevy of senior business leaders on a junket to the country last week. Mulroney says that Saudi Arabia offers us tremendous opportunity and that we share a “commitment to inovation and education” and that we are both countries “poised for continued success” and that we jointly value “peace and security.”

So what is wrong with that?

Let’s take a look. Saudi Arabia is a monarchy ruled by huge the Saud royal family. Not like Prince Charles and those nice boys but a huge family of about 7000 who live in luxury by skimming their cut off the top of the Saudi economy.

The country’s constitution is the Koran and women are prohibited from driving and the Economist magazine’s Democracy Index rates Saudi Arabian government is the 7th most authoritarian regime among the 167 countries rated.

There are no recognized political parties or national elections. The king’s power are limited supposedly by Shari’a law and other Saudi traditions but who is to tell him if he strays.

On the up side, slavery was abolished in 1962.

I wonder what old Brian thinks we share when it comes to our justice systems. The legal system prescribes capital and corporal punishment including the possible the amputations of hand and feet for crimes such as homosexual activity, adultery, robbery and drug smuggling. If you are lucky or are found guilty of more minor offences you might get away with a flogging.

It makes you question what has happened to our principles when a former Prime Minister, a senior partner in a major Canadian Law firm is proud to lead a delegation to this country. It also makes you wonder about the depth of the ethics of our business leaders who are clambering to invest in the Saudi economy.

I wonder if Mulroney will pay tax on what ever he is paid to lead this junket or, if he will “forget” about it and once again negotiate some much reduced amount with the CRA at some point in the future.