Does Elizabeth May fundamentally agree or disagree?

One thing that we can all agree upon is that Elizabeth May talks too fast and this has got her into some trouble in the past surrounding her February 2007 comments on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin where she says “All the other politicians are scared to death to mention the word ‘tax’. And they think Canadians are stupid — and cannot — and I fundamentally agree with that assessment.”

As I mentioned in my interview on CBC, I was never of the mind that she had said “I” rather than “they” in the sentence where she says “they think Canadians are stupid”. What stunned me was the part where she said “and I fundamentally agree with that assessment”. I didn’t realize there was ambiguity over the pronoun until it was raised by other who saw my video and made comment over at Buckdog.

Now, as it has been confirmed, the audio was “they” but now May reveals that the real difference in interpretation was that she either meant “agree” or “disagree with that assessment”. In Steve Paikin’s Friday interview of May, the Green Party leader explains that she said “disagree”.

However, on Sunday’s CTV Question Period May has a different story that contradicts her explanation to Paikin. May said that she said “fundamentally agree with that assessment” in reference to another panelist who had made an observation that wasn’t recorded.

Most people that run for political office do it out of a love of service for their fellow Canadians. I do not doubt that May’s heart is in the right place. However, her reported off-hand comments after the panel discussion might reinforce for us another element of her thinking. She said “No I want [Hummer drivers] shot actually, jail is not good enough for them!” Of course, any reasonable person would understand that May was joking. However, some might interpret this as a streak of elitism in Ms. May. Some Canadians may get the impression that while she wishes to serve Canada, she likely thinks she knows what’s best for us.

PMO pushes, CTV pushes back, and I give a small shove for good measure

From Susan Delacourt’s blog:

Yesterday, at the end of CTV’s Question Period broadcast, there was some strong and remarkable evidence of journalists pushing back against the Prime Minister’s Office. Rather than explain the story, why don’t I just put the transcript here? I would imagine we’ll be hearing more about this in the days to come:

JANE TABER: Craig, we’ve got to address a complaint. We received a complaint from the Prime Minister’s director of communications Sandra Buckler about something you said on the show about the fact the Environment Minister or the Finance Minister would not come on to talk about Dion’s green plan.

CRAIG OLIVER: And it was accurate for me to say they had both turned us down. However, they did offer us Jason Kenney, the Minister of Multiculturalism, to attack the government’s green plan, and we said, sorry, we’re not talking about multiculturalism, we’re talking about taxation or we’re talking about environment. And so they’re insisting that we should take their person. And the question really is who’s producing the show? Are we producing the show or is the Prime Minister’s office producing the show? Would somebody tell me?

First Jason Kenney gets rebuffed by CTV and then Craig Oliver mistakes the Liberals for the government (and Stephane Dion as the Prime Minister by extension)

ADDENDUM: Why wouldn’t Jason Kenney be permitted to speak for the government? After all, he was the first one quoted on the Conservative “Will You Be Tricked” ad campaign in Sun Media. He’s been quoted in just about every Conservative Party press release attacking Dion’s Tax Shift plan. Kenney has also been the government point man in QP answering all of the questions put forward by the Liberals on the topic of the environment during this latest Tax Trick/Green Shift arc. Kenney also had a press conference at the National Press Theatre to give the government’s reaction to Dion’s plan. It sets a horrible precedent for journalists to choose who can respond on behalf of the government.

“Controversial” civil rights

In every struggle for civil rights, there is controversy. By its very definition, a right implies not permissibility, but rather that permissiveness is not only inherently offensive to the concept of rights, but that this frame is at the root cause of the struggle. When one has the right, it is without question.

Controversy has existed in every struggle for human rights, for without controversy there is no struggle and without struggle there is no assertion of rights.

In the fight for racial and gender equality there has been controversy. In the struggle for equality in sexual orientation, there has been controversy. For those fighting for reproductive choice and those fighting for the right to life there has been controversy.

If controversy is definitively intertwined with the fight for any civil right, isn’t it redundant to say?

In fact, when it is used selectively for some rights struggles versus others is there a values judgment and a betrayal of impartiality to one side of a rights debate versus the other?

Consider CTV’s eulogy of Charlton Heston:

“Now to the death of Charlton Heston. As an actor, he parted the Red Sea, painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, won a chariot race and survived an earthquake. But his most controversial role was played off-screen lobbying for gun rights as president of the National Rifle Association.”

Canadian news reports thankfully would not do Martin Luther King Jr. disservice and would not describe him playing a “controversial role” for civil rights, nor would they describe the Famous Five’s role as “controversial” when they asked the Supreme Court of Canada, “are women persons?” The fight for free speech has caused controversy, yet no self-respecting Canadian journalist would selectively describe such a struggle as “controversial”.

Since all rights struggles are controversial, why do some merit the qualifying (and effectively disqualifying) label?

Bali conference partisan and ideological?

The media narrative of the Bali climate conference has been the “obstructionism” and “sabotage” of the talks by Canada’s government (note to Stephane Dion: outside of our borders, the “Harper/Conservative government” becomes your government too. Canadians have given the Conservative Party, not you, a mandate to speak for us on the world stage.)

We’ve heard reports that Environment Minister John Baird has been so audacious to even suggest that future climate treaties include caps on developing nations such as China and India, a truly offensive suggestive shared by the unoffensive new Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd. We’ve heard that Baird “ran away” from a meeting of environmental activists, “Canadian youth” and Svend Robinson!

CTV reports:

Baird was supposed to explain Canada’s position at a meeting with non-governmental activists attending the conference. He showed up for the meeting, but quickly left before speaking.

Canadian activists and others waited for the minister to return. But they were later told Baird had to attend negotiations and would not be back.

“The minister who was supposed to address us was AWOL. He ran away,” said Olivier Lavoie of the Canadian Youth in Action.

Lavoie said the minister probably did not want to confront young activists critical of Canada’s stand.

How can Baird turn a blind eye to good people that are non-partisan, non-ideological and simply concerned about the coming worldwide devastation?

Unreported by CTV and undeclared by Lavoie is this “activist” and leader of the “Canadian Youth in Action” was also president of the Liberal campus club at McGill.

So was Baird simply avoiding a meeting with people who see so much green that they see red when they see blue?

Was he avoiding a partisan ambush by a group of NDP and Liberal activists?

When can we get some honest reporting on the merits of Baird’s plan and what interests some have in blocking it?

At its core, Canada and Australia’s vision for a future climate treaty is rooted in environmental concern.

The intent of Baird’s position is that no matter what country in which you emit CO2, you pay the same cost. All worldwide CO2 would be declared equal if Baird and Rudd had their way. However, the intent of “social” environmental activists is to shift the burden on developed nations. If China and India and other “developing” countries get a better deal on their CO2 emissions, economic development and manufacturing of companies headquartered in Canada or the US, for example, will shift to developing countries because of their lower CO2 costs. The effect of this is redistribution of wealth.

If we are concerned about CO2 emissions, then all CO2 should be costed the same. If it is not, the effect will be the creation of CO2 havens. CO2 production will be shifted rather than reduced. Perhaps what Baird is doing is calling on the warming warriors to show their cards. Is all of this noise really about CO2 or is it about the redistribution of wealth and production?

Decoding Harper’s Political Strategy on Afghanistan

This article by Campbell Clark of the Globe and Mail describing Defense Minister Peter MacKay’s comments on Afghanistan on CTV’s Question Period this past Sunday, left me a bit unsettled and confused.

OTTAWA — Canada has made it clear to its NATO allies that they cannot count on our troops to fight on the deadly battlefields of southern Afghanistan after February of 2009, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said yesterday.

“The signal that has been sent already is that our current configuration will end in February, 2009,” Mr. MacKay said in an interview on the CTV television program Question Period.

“Obviously the aid work and the diplomatic effort and presence will extend well beyond that. The Afghan compact itself goes until 2011,” he said. “But the way the mission is currently configured, with respect to our presence in Kandahar, there is an expiration date that has been set.”

This is a clear step forward from the Prime Minister’s earlier assertion that a consensus in Parliament would be needed to extend the mission – in it’s current state – past February 2009.

So, what is going on here? Is this what it seems? Is this surrender by the Conservative government on a key conservative principle?

The more I thought about it, the more I started to think about this announcement in a strategic way.

So, here’s my prediction:

Afghanistan is going to be the wedge issue during the next election to take place when the government puts the mission to a vote in Parliament. The vote will fail, the opposition will indicate its majority intention to withdrawal from Kandahar and the government will fall, because Harper will make it a confidence vote.

Why? Numbers.

As it stands, 50% of Canadians support the current mission in Afghanistan while 50% of Canadians do not. Harper needs about 40% of the vote to get a majority government.

MacKay’s announcement on Sunday does a few things. First of all, it indicates an utmost respect for Parliament as the mission and extension will still go to a vote (as indicated in Clark’s article). Secondly, it makes the opposition put down their guns on the Afghanistan issue for a while (continuous shelling of the mission puts it in a weak position in the forum of Canadian opinion). The opposition looks foolish when continuing to whine about the issue when the government has indicated that the mission (in the current parliamentary climate) cannot continue past February 2009. Third, it allows the government to prepare behind the scenes to sell the mission. The governing party has an advantage over the opposition parties in that it has two forums to spread its message, the House and outside of it. By indicating that the government recognizes that it is unlikely to win the Afghanistan mission vote, this disarms the opposition from consistently bringing it up in the House. Meanwhile, the government (the Conservatives) aim to sell it as an issue campaign across the country.

While the government recognizes it is unlikely to win an extension in Afghanistan, the Conservative Party will still maintain the position that an extension is in Canada’s interests and will advance that position up to the vote. There is a bit of a dichotomy here: Minister MacKay concedes the realities of the government’s minority position on the policy, while the politics of Conservatives will continue to lobby for an extension. By playing government minister, MacKay disarms the House (because the House checks the government, not the Conservative Party).

The Afghanistan extension is a perfect wedge issue for Harper. Only the Conservatives and the NDP have a clear position on the issue and only one can form government. The Liberals are bitterly divided on the issue. Ignatieff supports the mission in Afghanistan and Rae has indicated a tough on terror position in the past. Dion’s position is weak, somewhat against but certainly not for the mission. In fact, he has flip-flopped so many times in the past on the issue of Afghanistan. Of course, this plays into the Conservative narrative of weak leadership regarding Dion. Both Ignatieff and Rae are looking to topple Dion after an election, but concerning an extension as far away as 2009, this might be a wide enough window for both Rae and Ignatieff to act sooner rather than later. Harper’s strategy is to both create both a stronger NDP and a Liberal Party bitterly divided.

What other issue creates these winning conditions?

Afghanistan is a perfect issue to rally the conservative base, a reluctant group that has become angry over income trusts and only came out to vote in their champions in the wake of the biggest corruption scandal in Canadian history.

Regarding Quebec, I’m starting to think that the media’s read on Quebec voting intention regarding Afghanistan are overblown. I think that more Quebeckers would get out to vote for the mission than get out and vote against it come election day. Quebec remains a puzzle though despite Harper’s continuous attention to that province.

Speaking of which, Harper has also taken hits among the base for increased spending. Where, however, has this government spent? Childcare cheques, the military and transfer payments (fiscal imbalance) have been the shifted spending priorities of Canada’s New Government. The latter of which should help buffer some of that anti-military sentiment that the Toronto press believes that exists so pervasively in la belle province.

Back to leadership, this issue favours Harper in an electoral footing. Because he has a better control of the timing of an election, he will obviously define a ballot issue that favours his government and personal leadership. Afghanistan is a red meat issue while the environment is assorted mixed greens. Defining the election on Afghanistan favours Harper’s strong grizzle-laden leadership style, while the weaker Dion will be left sitting in vinaigrette. Harper is not going to willingly contrast himself in an election on any other issue. The only thing green that the Conservative Prime Minister hopes to talk about during the election is Dion’s leadership and that Dion “doesn’t have what it takes”, “isn’t a leader” etc.

Conservatives will also ask, “If Dion is a weak leader with an ambiguous stance on Afghanistan, is he ready to be Prime Minister?”

I believe that Conservative strategists are counting on a majority coming from NDP gains (hoping to catch that unambiguous 50% against the mission) and the bottom falling out on the Liberal party on Afghanistan and Dion’s leadership.

CTV-Globemedia-CHUM

Today the CRTC announced that it has approved the purchase of CHUM by CTV Globemedia, however, it lopped off the five regional Citytv stations in the process. The troubled A-channel however was approved for acquisition by the growing media company. Critics say that the Broadcasting Act, written in 1991 is outdated and that the mutli-media world has changed significantly since that time. Further, it is said that the antiquated nature of the Act limited options for the CRTC in ruling on the acquisition. Here’s the release:

OTTAWA and GATINEAU, June 8 /CNW Telbec/ – The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today approved the transfer of effective control of CHUM Ltd. (CHUM) to CTVglobemedia Inc. (CTVgm). The CRTC did not approve the transfer of five Citytv stations in Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver to CTVgm, given that such transfer would be inconsistent with the Commission’s common ownership policy. That policy stipulates that a licensee may not operate more than one conventional television station in one language in a given market.
“The purpose of this policy is to maintain diversity of voices within the Canadian broadcasting system,” said Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC. “Some exceptions to the policy were granted in the past for failing stations in secondary markets. CTVgm asked for the exception using arguments based upon competitive equality and the impact of new media. However, the Commission was not convinced by CTVgm’s arguments.”
Approval of this transaction is conditional on the trustee responsible for the Citytv stations submitting to the Commission, within 30 days, an acceptable plan for the sale of the Citytv stations.
The Commission found, however, that the A-Channel group of television stations did fall into the established exception to the common ownership policy and approved their acquisition by CTVgm. As a consequence of this decision, CTVgm will be able to acquire seven television stations, 34 radio stations and, in whole or in part, 20 specialty television services. Today’s decision follows a public process that included a public hearing held by the Commission, which began on April 30th.

So, what does this mean for you? This will allow the company to change the way that it buys advertising meaning that purchased ads will appear across a wider variety of television stations. So, if you thought Canadian ads were repetitive enough get ready to watch the same Ford Fusion ad on a larger proportion of your TV dial. However, with a larger capability for advertising, the flagship network CTV will be able to purchase bigger and better shows (so the theory goes).

UPDATE: Rogers has picked up the Citytv stations.

Whistleblower stomped by unaccountable Senate

I cannot believe the news that has been swirling around the city in the past couple of days about Tory staffer Jeffrey Kroeker. Kroeker was reprimanded by a Senate report from the board of Internal Economy for having the audacity to blow the whistle on a junket taken by Senators to Dubai last year.

CTV had the original report of the trip:

Canadian senators waited in an expensive Dubai hotel for seven days after a failed attempt to reach Afghanistan when the military had warned them not to attempt the trip in the first place, CTV News has learned.

Liberal Senator Colin Kenny had hoped to take his National Security Committee to Kandahar province for a fact-finding trip, as well as Dubai — a city in the United Arab Emirates that is trying to become a global business hub. Instead, the senators ended up spending seven days in Dubai.

The total hotel bill came to more than $30,000. Plane fare, meals and other expenses were not included.

CTV reported then that it obtained the information from a “leak”.

We now know that the information came from Jeffrey Kroeker, then a staffer for Conservative Senator Marjorie Lebreton.

Kroeker should be commended for bringing the excesses of the Canadian Senate to the attention of the public. Unfortunately Joan Bryden of CP makes an unfortunate comparison to the bureaucrat that was arrested two days ago for leaking the Tory’s Green Plan:

Coming a day after a federal contract employee was hauled off in handcuffs for allegedly leaking a draft of the government’s climate change plan, Liberal Senate Leader Celine Hervieux-Payette questioned how the Tories can sanction keeping Kroeker in the employ of a cabinet minister.

Of course, the situations of Kroeker and the Green Plan leaker Jeff Monaghan are completely different as Monaghan leaked government policy whereas Kroeker made available information that the Senate has actually chosen to keep itself exempt from revealing — yes, the Senate is not accountable to Access to Information requests. With respect to the environment leak, Monaghan broke his oath to keep state secrets. While the cost of junket to Dubai was meant to be kept secret by Kenny and his co-travelers, the information hardly represented any information critical to policy/security or governance. Kroeker simply blew the whistle on Senate excess. While Monaghan was an activist who leaked confidential and secret government policy that he didn’t agree with, Kroeker acted to disseminate information on the extravagant expenses of a handful of senators from the Upper Chamber which has exempted itself from the kind of transparency that keeps other facets of government accountable. Moreover, these expenses were not authorized by the Senate.

We have now learned that the Senate “investigated” Kroeker’s act in total secret and the investigation was conducted by a Senate sub-committee. Kenny himself sits on the board of internal economy, which had oversight over the investigative sub-committee, however Kenny did not think to recuse himself.

Bryden also makes an unfortunate omission in her article. She writes,

The rebuke of Jeffrey Kroeker was contained in a unanimous report of the Senate’s committee on internal economy. The 15-member committee includes four Conservative senators.

The description of a “unanimous report” is misleading here because “unanimous” means that the decision to table the report was unanimous, but the acceptance of the report was hardly the same.

In summary, what do we have here?

Unaccountable senators, part of an unaccountable Senate — the lack of transparency of that body is reflected by its lack of public accounting and disclosure — went on a seven day junket to Dubai at the cost of $30,000 to the Canadian taxpayer. The purpose of the trip was to observe the operations in Kandahar, however, it was expressed to the Senators that this leg of the trip would not happen therefore making the excursion overseas useless. Nevertheless, the senators spent seven days in the hotel, only attended two meetings, and “wrote a report”. However, CTV’s original article includes a quote from Sen. Tommy Banks that the report for the most part was written before the trip was taken. The Vice Chief of Defence Staff in two separate letters confirmed that Senator Kenny was fully aware that they could not get into Afghanistan and as such, should have canceled that leg of the trip. When Kroeker learned what they had done by staying the hotel for over a week, he knew that they had gone beyond the authorized expenses of the Senate and as such, he decided to research the costs. When he saw how galling the expenses were he made the decision to blow the whistle. What the senators did was grossly unfair to taxpayers.

Kroeker should be commended, not condemned.

This seems like politically motivated retribution by a Liberal dominated Senate for the whistleblowing act of a Tory staffer. Why should the cost of a senate junket to Dubai be “secret” from Canadian taxpayers?

Bryden’s article thankfully includes praise from Conservative Senator Terry Stratton:

Senator Terry Stratton, the Tory whip in the upper house, rejected the report’s conclusions. He cast Kroeker as a conscientious staffer who blew the whistle on misuse of taxpayer’s money.

“(The report) makes it very difficult for people to expose the unauthorized expenditure of public money,” Stratton said in a written statement issued late Thursday.

“We should be proud of the stand that Jeffrey Kroeker took. He is a staffer who saw wrong and tried to make it right.”

Unfortunately, the Globe and Mail omitted this praise from its editing of Bryden’s CP article.

Here is a statement, released from Sen. LeBreton’s office just a few hours ago:

Today the Senate Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration tabled a report with the Senate in which it called into question activities of former Senate staffer, Jeffrey Kroeker.

The report is the result of an investigation undertaken by the Committee following media reports in October 2006 regarding the alleged misuse of public money on a trip to Dubai by the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, led by Liberal Senator Colin Kenny.

Senator Stratton today rejected the report: “I am extremely disappointed that this Senate Committee has issued this report. I disagree entirely with its conclusion. It makes it very difficult for people to expose the unauthorised expenditure of public money and is contrary to all of the principles in a post-Gomery world.”

In 2006, a group of senators were to take a trip to Kandahar, Afghanistan to visit Canadian troops. This trip was cancelled due to operations before the committee left, but some of the senators decided to proceed to Dubai, in any event, where they stayed, at taxpayers expense for 10 days.

Shortly following the trip, Jeffrey Kroeker discovered that the expenses for the trip to Dubai were not properly authorised and, further, that Senator Kenny, the Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence was aware he would be unable to visit the base in Kandahar before he left Ottawa.

When Jeffrey Kroeker became aware of these facts, he blew the whistle, and reported the misuse of public funds to the media.

Today’s report of the Standing Committee is retaliation by a group of Liberal senators against a hard working Senate staffer, who exposed misuse of public funds. Jeffrey Kroeker did what anyone else would do when he saw public money being misused.

“We should be proud of the stand that Jeffrey Kroeker took. He is a staffer who saw wrong and tried to make it right. I am disappointed that this action has been taken,” stated Senator Stratton.

Canada’s New Government has worked hard over the last year to toughen laws that protect whistleblowers. This is exactly the type of staffer that such laws were designed to protect.

“I am very disappointed in this action by the Committee. We need more staffers like Jeffrey Kroeker and we need to support them, not punish them for doing what any honest person would do,” concluded Senator Stratton.

Taliban tortured? Some context.

From the second last page of an Al Qaeda training manual found in Manchester England from a terrorist safe-house:

Lesson Eighteen

PRISONS AND DETENTION CENTERS

IF AN INDICTMENT IS ISSUED AND THE TRIAL BEGINS, THE BROTHER HAS TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE FOLLOWING:

  1. At the beginning of the trial, once more the brothers must insist on proving that torture was inflicted on them by State Security [investigators] before the judge.
  2. Complain [to the court] of mistreatment while in prison.
  3. Make arrangements for the brother’s defense with the attorney, whether he was retained by the brother ‘s family or court-appointed.
  4. The brother has to do his best to know the names of the state security officers, who participated in his torture and mention their names to the judge. [These names may be obtained from brothers who had to deal with those officers in previous cases.]
  5. Some brothers may tell and may be lured by the state security investigators to testify against the brothers [i.e. affirmation witness], either by not keeping them together in the same prison during the trials, or by letting them talk to the media. In this case, they have to be treated gently, and should be offered good advice, good treatment, and pray that God may guide them.
  6. During the trial, the court has to be notified of any mistreatment of the brothers inside the prison.
  7. It is possible to resort to a hunger strike, but it is a tactic that can either succeed or fail.
  8. Take advantage of visits to communicate with brothers outside prison and exchange information that may be helpful to them in their work outside prison [according to what occurred during the investigations]. The importance of mastering the art of hiding messages is self evident here.
  9. - When the brothers are transported from and to the prison [on their way to the court] they should shout Islamic slogans out loud from inside the prison cars to impress upon the people and their family the need to support Islam.
  10. - Inside the prison, the brother should not accept any work that may belittle or demean him or his brothers, such as the cleaning of the prison bathrooms or hallways.
  11. - The brothers should create an Islamic program for themselves inside the prison, as well as recreational and educational ones, etc.
  12. - The brother in prison should be a role model in selflessness. Brothers should also pay attention to each others needs and should help each other and unite vis a vis the prison officers.
  13. - The brothers must take advantage of their presence in prison for obeying and worshiping [God] and memorizing the Qora’an, etc. This is in addition to all guidelines and procedures that were contained in the lesson on interrogation and investigation. Lastly, each of us has to understand that we don’t achieve victory against our enemies through these actions and security procedures. Rather, victory is achieved by obeying Almighty and Glorious God and because of their many sins. Every brother has to be careful so as not to commit sins and everyone of us has to do his best in obeying Almighty God, Who said in his Holy Book: “We will, without doubt. help Our messengers and those who believe (both) in this world’s life and the one Day when the Witnesses will stand forth.” May God guide us.

When taken into Afghani custody, did the al Qaeda training take over? Curiously, detainees did not claim torture at the hands of Canadians, but only by Afghani jailers. Detainees are only held by Canadian Forces for at most 96 hours before being handed over to Afghan authorities.

Of course, this does not absolve Canada from their duty to protect the human rights of even the most despicable human beings. However, we should be aware that claiming torture is standard operating procedure for those trained by, or in association with al Qaeda.

The Globe and Mail’s Graeme Smith has been covering this story all week from Kandahar and details horrible accounts of abuse in this article.

I suspect that the truth lies somewhere in the middle: I suspect the claims because the Taliban have been trained to claim such mistreatment while imprisoned. However, the Afghan prison system is one of the last places where I’d want to be incarcerated.

The Canadian government is also trying to balance a couple of important objectives here. They must help the Afghani state to stand on its own two feet, and this includes the establishment of a prisons/corrections department of the government. But, they must balance this with being cognizant of human rights.

Consider this from an interview with Afghani ambassador Omar Samad from CTV NewsNet:

“We don’t kiss murderers, and I’m not saying that anyone who is detained is a murderer, but we are dealing with very vicious dangerous people. Every day we are facing normal citizens being beheaded, normal citizens being blown up, your soldiers being attacked, other soldiers that are being attacked. We’ll not tolerate that. At the same time we are trying to bring rule of law to Afghanistan. Justice system that works in Afghanistan. And so we are working on those things. If there are problems we’ll try to correct them as soon as possible.” — Afghanistan’s ambassador to Canada, Omar Samad

This point brings me back to an earlier thought. While the opposition is coming down on the mission in Afghanistan, showing concern for Taliban detainees, they are driving a wedge through the support of the Canadian electorate for a effort to establish and maintain human rights for millions of Afghanis, including women and children who for many are only experiencing their rights for the first time. We know that the opposition opposes the mission in Afghanistan. However, on the issue of rights I feel that Dion and Layton are throwing the baby out with the bathwater by trying to sink the Conservatives on the issue of detainees.

The news is inherently foggy as it deals with accounts from some unsavoury characters. One example has emerged from Smith’s story that I link above. Smith quotes Sadullah Khan, the Kandahar NDS chief and senior administrator of the system where most of the torture is alleged to have taken place.

However, in a release today, the Afghani embassy in Ottawa issued a release questioning that particular detail of Smith’s report:

“NDS officials also confirm that their employee rosters for Kandahar do not show any person named Sadullah Khan as having been employed by the agency in the past year. They also clarify that the person in-charge of NDS in the province is a person by a different name.”

One thing is certain, we do not have all of the details and those that we have are questionable, at best. The Canadian government has its own capacity to investigate and I’m hopeful that they are doing what they can to clarify, and if necessary, remedy the situation.

Harper’s a gas

I have it on good authority that the Prime Minister will be appearing on the season finale of CTV’s Corner Gas. The episode will air on March 12th.

This should give the PM some good publicity as the show has been averaging about 1.6 million viewers per show.

I’ve never seen the show, but as a loyal viewer of CTV Newsnet, I can tell you that Season 3 is now available on DVD and can tell you the words of the first 10 seconds of that damn theme song (as I’ve heard it 1.6 million times). Oh, and wouldn’t it be nice to get a CHIP reverse mortgage?

You think there’s not a lot going on / But look closer, baby, you’re so wrong / And that’s why you can stay so long…

UPDATE: Here’s the CTV media release dated March 6th:

CTV Program Alert – March 6, 2007

Out of Gas: Brent Closes Shop and Lacey Moves Home as Corner Gas Wraps Up, March 12 on CTV

Prime Minister Stephen Harper; Canada AM’s Seamus O’Regan and Beverly Thomson guest star in the most unforgettable Corner Gas episode ever

Season high 1.81 million watch last night’s penultimate episode on CTV

**** WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD ****

Corner Gas goes out with a bang in the series’ most unexpected episode ever when what seems like a great idea to increase tourism in Dog River actually makes things worse beyond Hank’s wildest dreams. Guest starring Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canada AM’s Seamus O’Regan and Beverly Thomson, Corner Gas wraps up Monday, March 12 at 8 p.m. ET on CTV with a shocking but ultimately fitting conclusion that will leave Corner Gas fans talking for years. The episode also airs Saturday, March 17 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The Comedy Network and on demand on The CTV Broadband Network at CTV.ca.

In Monday’s monumental episode, entitled “Gopher It,” Dog River is run rampant with prairie dogs – or gophers – among other alarming events. When Prime Minister Stephen Harper becomes the second PM since Diefenbaker to visit Dog River, he wades into a local controversy which he blames on the previous Liberal government. As the episode unfolds, Brent closes shop, Lacey moves home, and the fate of Hank, Oscar, Emma, Wanda, Karen and Davis are put into question – not to mention Corner Gas itself.

“This episode is for our loyal viewers who have supported the series for the past four seasons,” said Executive Producer, Virginia Thompson. “We hope they love it as much as we enjoyed making it.”

Last night’s Corner Gas episode was watched by a season high 1.81 million viewers. With an average audience of 1.7 million in 2007, Corner Gas will end the season as Canada’s No. 1 comedy series – Canadian or American – currently ranking #14 in the Top 20 chart of Canada’s most-watched programs. Since the television phenomenon launched in January 2004, no original episode in its entire four-season run has ever delivered an audience of less than one million viewers. With Monday’s finale, Corner Gas is poised to deliver its 69th consecutive million-plus episode, an unprecedented achievement in Canadian television history.

Visit the Corner Gas Web site at Cornergas.com.