A History Lesson

If you are anything like me you have been watching the events unfolding in Egypt with real interest. The first thing I have discovered is that I really know very little about the history of that country. 

Oh, I am old enough to remember the Suez crisis, King Farouk living in exile, President Nassar, Anwar Sadat being shot and the six day war. Presidant Mubarak’s ruling party is called the NDP which I find kind of ironic  I don't know know a hell of a lot beyond that.

I expect most of you,  not unlike me, are struggling to put together the puzzle.

This historical time line was put together by  Facts-about and the BBC. It helps a bit to add context.

1100s Christian Crusaders from Europe invade Egypt
1168 The Fatimid ruler receives help from Saladin who forces the Crusaders out of Egypt
1171 Saladin overthrows the Fatimid ruler and becomes the sultan of Egypt forming the Ayyubid dynasty
1250 The Mamelukes seized control of Egypt andBaybars, the Mameluke general, became sultan
1517 Ottoman forces invaded Egypt
Mid 1700s The Ottomans and the Mamelukes competed for Egyptian control
1798 Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt and the Mamelukes were defeated in the Battle of the Pyramids
1801 The French were forced out of Egypt by the Ottomans, with the help of the British
1805 - 1849 Muhammad Ali, an officer in the Ottoman army, established himself as the ruler of Egypt and the Mamelukes
1854-1863 Said Pasha ruled Egypt
1859 The construction of the Suez Canal began
1869 The Suez Canal opened and the British bought the Egyptian shares
1882 British take control of Egypt
Late 1800s-Early 1900s The Egyptian khedive ruled Egypt overseen by British administrators
1914-1918 World War I
1914 Egypt becomes a British protectorate
1922 Egypt is granted its independence and an Egyptian constitutional monarchy is established
1939 - 1945 World War II
1940 Italian and German troops invade Egypt to try and capture the Suez Canal
1942 The Allies halt the German advance in the Battle of El Alamein
1945 Egypt formed the Arab League with other Arab nations
1947 The United Nations vote to divide Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state
1948 Israel was formed which prompted Egypt and other Arab nations to go to war
1952 King Farouk (His full title was "His Majesty Farouk I, by the grace of God, King of Egypt and Sudan, Sovereign of Nubia, of Kordofan, and of Darfur.") is overthrown in the Egyptian Revolution and was forced to abdicate.   He died in exile in Italy.  
1953 Egypt was declared a republic
1954 - Nasser becomes prime minister and later, in 1956, president.
1954 - Evacuation Treaty signed. British forces, who began a gradual withdrawal in 1936 finally leave Egypt.
1956 July - Nasser nationalises the Suez Canal to fund the Aswan High Dam.
1950s Egypt supported the Palestinian Arabs to regain control of Palestine from the Israelis
October 1956 Israel invaded Egypt and occupied the Sinai Peninsula
1958 Syria and Egypt formed a political union called the United Arab Republic
1961 Syria withdrew from the U.A.R.
5 June 1967 The Six Day War 
1968 The Aswan High Dam opened
1971 Sadat changed the official name of the country to the Arab Republic of Egypt
1978 The Camp David Accords and Sadat meets with Israeli Prime Minster Menachem Begin in the USA. The agreement guaranteed the return of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt
1979 Egypt was removed from the Arab League, because other Arab nations felt the Sadat had given up too much in the agreements with Israel
1981 6 October - Anwar al-Sadat is assassinated by Jihad members.
1981 October - A National Referendum approves Husni Mubarak as the new president.

Over the next 30 years Mubarek is repeatedly re-elected supported by the USA to the tune of $1 billion a year most of which goes to supporting the military. Opposition politicians are arrested and jailed, there have been accusations of rigged elections and internal unrest grows.

The very interesting thing about the current protests is that they are not Islamic radical groups, it is not the omans stirring dissent it is a grassroots movement of people who need jobs and who want to live within a freer society.

We may very well be seeing a true Arab renaissance unfolding before our eyes. Watch closely.


Oh Joy, mail from my MP and my MLA today

Today’s mail brought me material from both my MLA and my federal MP.

To be honest I don’t get all that much mail from my MLA Sandra Morin so I was interested in what she had to say.  This is an election year in Saskatchewan and the prospect of facing the voters when your party leader  hasn’t yet taken the hint that he has to move on, must be a little daunting for her. I like Sandra and wish her luck.

Sandra is the Environment critic and  tells us that “In this spring Session beginning in March, I plan to introduce a private members bill to protect Saskatchewan Residents against oil sands toxins coming from Alberta.”

Well, I am sorry Sandra but, how the hell do you actually do that? Build a wall? Install big fans to work against the prevailing westerly’s?  That is one piece of legislation I’ll be keeping my eye out for.

On the other hand,  I get lots of mail from my MP, Tom Lukiwski. Tom is a classic Conservative postal spammer.

This week, as his party is about to risk being defeated in an effort to introduce tax cuts for corporate Canada, Tom-Boy is trying to convince me that “Our Conservative government has cut taxes more than 100 times since 2006 to help the typical Canadian family save $3000.00 every year.”

I have news for you Tom. Someone must have got my three grand because my taxes sure didn’t go down.  I don’t buy it.

Tom, who is pretty much useless and a mouthpiece for Stephen Harper must be a little worried this time around. He all but disappeared during the BHP potash debate and he has been pretty sparse with his support for the proposed new stadium here in Regina.

It was noticed.

I for one don’t want to see money spent on a new stadium but it is a big deal out here in “Rider Nation”. Tom’s lack of support has hit a chord with some of the red neck crowd. A friend sent me some posts from a talk radio site. Reading these I’d say Tom must be getting a bit edgy.

I am very disappointed to say that I am going to change who I vote for in the next election. At least by voting for an opposition party they will make noise. Tom Lukiwski is in my riding and I have written a few emails to him and all I have received back is a prepared statement from some intern and a christmas card. Through this debate and through Potash Corp our representation has been a complete joke. I would rather have a guy who maybe I don't see eye to eye with all the time who will make some noise rather than some puppet who has to ask Harper which hand to wipe his *** with.

Way to stand up for your constituents there Tom. It isn't his job to make sure the "government is fair to everyone". It's his job to make sure they are fair to Saskatchewan.
I love the fact that really, in two years, the first thing any of our MPs have said about this project has been very negative.

What were you expecting him to say? We all know that Conservative MPs aren't allowed to say anything unless Harper has his hand up their butt so they move their lips properly when Harper's voice comes out.

13 MPs and what does it get you? Nothing. Screwed on equalization, and the stadium deal. I think these will be big issues in SK during the next election.

have to boot out Andrew Scheer, i heard he was one hell of a waiter before he got his great silent backbencher gig

Should be an interesting election  assuming the Liberals and the NDP don't chicken out again



Just Few Things I Noticed


I notice that Tony Clement was hinting yesterday that he might review the CRTC’s decision on Usage Based Billing. Then today it was reported that the Prime Minister Stephen Harper, remember him, never one to let a minister take positive credit if he can take it himself,  may be announcing that his cabinet may review the regulator’s decision.

I view this, along with all the renewed stadium talk to be a sign the PMO thinks an election is probably around the corner

The Budget
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is trying to cozy up to the NDP in an effort to win support for his new budget. He is offering targeted help for low income seniors in his upcoming budget.  The New Democrats have been asking for increases to the Guaranteed Income Supplement  for seniors and Flaherty just might deliver.

I have always argued to my friends who are starting to feel that the New Democrats are like some toothless tiger, that a strong voice on the left helps to shift government decisions in a more humane direction.

Meanwhile, the Liberals are demanding that the government roll back $6 billion in scheduled corporate tax cuts this year and the Bloc wants an extra $5 billion spent on various things or else they won’t support the budget.

This one must create a quandary for Jack Layton and his buddies.  He probably holds the balance of power.  You have to ask. Is tossing a few crumbs to seniors worth supporting tax cuts to corporate fat cats? 
I don’t think so.

I say take the buggers down but, perhaps that is just me.

In the end they all may blink and allow this sorry excuse for a government continue.

Saskatchewan Crown Bargaining

A group of unions representing employees at Saskatchewan Crown Corporation  say that they are banding together in a “Common Front” so get more power at the bargaining table. This group of unions wonder why, in the mist of that “boom” Premier Brad Wall is always boasting about, they are supposed to be satisfied with wage increases which would be inadequate even during tough economic times?  

One has to ask, “How can this government expect the employees who took a real hit when times were tough, to continue to get battered at the bargaining table during times when the economy is supposed to be booming.
It is because a Saskaboom isn’t like a boom in other provinces. It’s  a phony kind of boom. Mostly hype, little substance. Remember Saskatchewan still so small, that Ikea won't even consider building a store here. Some boom.

A Saskaboom is when a few high profile corporations and industry get rich and the rest of us try to make ends meet with what we have.

Either that of the Sask Party are just mean spirited.

Oh, I guess that must be it.


A Chance to Lobby Against Usage Based Internet Billing

Internet Service Providers  are about to impose usage-based billing on Canadians.
This means ISPs will charge per byte, the way they do with smart phones. If we allow this to happen, Canadians will have no choice but to pay much more, for less Internet. Big Canadian Telecom companies already gouge consumers for cell phone service, now they want to rip us off for our internet use and to to control the Internet market. 
These Big Telecom companies are forcing small competing ISPs to adopt the same pricing scheme, so that we have no choice but to pay these punitive fees.
This will crush innovative services, Canada's digital competitiveness, and your wallet.
We urgently need to send a clear message to Ottawa, saying that we won't stand by while some of the most profitable companies in the country indiscriminately add new fees to our Internet bills. Enough is enough.
 The Liberals and the NDP have now come out AGAINST Internet metering. We're winning, Canada - now onto the government in power!
Open Media has a petition I urge you to sign it.

Coalition Follow up

We all know that statistics are sent to drive us crazy so I was intrigued by an article I saw this morning about a  pool run by Postmedia and Global News.

The story basically told us that Canadians won't accept a coalition because 55% of Canadians prefer a minority government. So, the conclusion is - coalition bad.

On the other hand 63% of Canadians who bothered to vote, cast their ballots for a party other than the minority government in power. Somehow that is somehow seen as good.

Go figure. We have to start talking about proportional representation before my head explodes.


Perhaps we Should be Thinking Coalition

Time to Start Talking Boys

Interesting to read a piece in the Globe & Mail this morning, musing about coalitions.

Our Prime Minister is rabidly against them, with good reason I guess. He clings to power with the support of  around 37% of Canadians. Unless the opposition parties find some backbone this spring our broken, first past the post electoral system may put him into power once again but, what kind of democracy is that? A government which isn't supported by 63% of Canadians is hardly legitimate.

How did they get there in the first place? Peter McKay as leader of the Progressive Conservatives broke an agreement he made in order to win the leadership of that party. It took him about 24 hours to break the promise was that he would not merge the PCs with the Reform/Alliance Party. How legitimate is that. It speaks volumes about right wing political ethics.

On the other hand, if expedience is king in Federal politics , McKay was bright enough to see that until both of the right wing parties came together, there wasn't a hope of getting elected.

The Liberal and the New Democrat leadership could learn a lesson or two from that scenario. Lets quit all the bullshit and start talking. As a long term NDPer I years ago accepted that we are not going to win an election. But, I always felt that a strong voice from the left has made a difference and I am glad that we have been there.

Times change and Liberal fortunes have waned, the NDP are stuck where they have been for years and now it is the Conservatives that are running up the middle of the vote split. It is time for a new plan. A coalition of these two parties could put Canada back on track. Nothing is standing in the way but hubris.