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.

Louise Arbour commits to eradicating “Zionism”?

Jason Kenney responds, see update

Louise Arbour responds, see update

Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has voiced her support of the Pan-Arab human rights charter, which among other things, commits to “rejecting all forms of racism and Zionism.” Critics have argued that rejecting “all forms” of Zionism is in effect an effort to delegitimize the state of Israel.

Arab Charter of Human Rights:

The Canadian government rejected sending delegates to a UN Conference against racism because it argues that the conference paradoxically promotes racism in the form of anti-antisemitism, questioning the validity of an Israeli state and because of the postering of conference walls with Hitler imagery by invited NGOs and activists protesting Israel at the original “anti-racism” UN conference in the fall of 2001.

Arbour is out of step with Amnesty International which has stated:

The draft Charter includes provisions rejecting Zionism as”a violation of human rights and threat to international peace and security”(preamble and article 2 (c)). Amnesty International believes that states and non-state entities should be held accountable for human rights violations under international human rights standards. For this to be done, Amnesty International believes that the reference should be international human rights standards rather than focussing on a particular ideology or ideologies.– Amnesty International

Furthermore, the International Commission of Jurists has expressed its view on the Arab Charter:

The ICJ invites the authors of the Arab Charter to remove the condemnation of Zionism in the preamble and in its article 1 in order to devote the Charter exclusively to protection of human rights in the Arab region, without digressions of a political nature liable to obscure the Charter’s basic purpose.– International Commission of Jurists

As a member state of the UN, Arbour is seen to represent Canada at that organization. As Canadians, we stand for human rights and ought to reject the language of the Arab Charter and its support by the UN High Commissioner Louise Arbour.

UPDATE: Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity Jason Kenney has written a letter to Arbour and calls her statements troubling and asks for her to clarify her remarks.

UPDATE: Arbour clarifies her support for the Arab Charter:

To the extent that (the charter) equates Zionism with racism, we reiterated that (it) is not in conformity with (the 1991) General Assembly resolution, which rejects that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination … OHCHR does not endorse these inconsistencies. We continue to work with all stakeholders in the region to ensure the implementation of universal human rights norms. — Louise Arbour

Jason Kenney opines on HRC/Canadian Islamic Congress case against Steyn

Well-read and well-written conservative columnist Mark Steyn has become the subject of a “human rights” complaint filed by the Canadian Islamic Congress.

The complaint draws Steyn and Macleans, the magazine in which his articles appeared, into a lengthy proceeding in which the fundamental freedoms of the writer and the historic Canadian magazine could be suspended. If the CIC is successful in their complaint, both Steyn and Macleans could lose their freedom to publish and/or opine on certain issues.

Macleans had published an excerpt from Steyn’s popular book America Alone. In the excerpt Macleans quotes Steyn’s book:

“The number of Muslims is expanding like mosquitoes” — From America Alone, by Mark Steyn

However, likely unknown to the CIC at the time was that the offending quote was actually that of a Mullah Krekar, a Scandinavian Muslim.

Joining the Canadian Islamic Congress in asking the state to clamp down on press freedoms are four Osgoode law students. At one time, legal activism on civil rights would make a great start to any young lawyer’s career. However, legal activism against civil rights may not be the best career move. However, who knows, there is always hope in the Canadian legal system for a variety of activists, right?

Here’s a letter sent to one of those law students by Jason Kenney, Canada’s secretary of state for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity:

Letter to Khurrum Awan from Jason Kenney (.pdf)

The letter appears to be in response to correspondence sent to Mr. Kenney regarding statements he made defending press freedoms against those disingenuously flying the banner of human rights when the head of the CIC himself has, at other times, shown contempt for those rights.

In closing, Kenney seems to suggest that Awan may have acted inappropriately by signing his correspondence with “Judicial Law Clerk / Articling Student at the Law Office of the Chief Justice Ontario Superior Court of Justice. After all, it would be troubling if it was the opinion of the Chief Justice of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice that a Canadian journalist has published material deemed not only offensive to the Canadian Islamic Congress and over-caffeinated il-liberal law students but to the judiciary.

In closing, Kenney asks:

“Were you writing on your own behalf? Or were you writing on behalf of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice? I have taken the liberty of copying Roslyn Levine, Executive Legal Assistant in the Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Justice for clarification.”

Jason Kenney interview

This week I had the chance to sit down and have a chat with Jason Kenney, the new Secretary of State for Multiculturalism. Kenney has been working multicultural outreach for the Prime Minister for quite some time and it was good to see Mr. Harper make it official last week.

In the interview we chat about the difference between the Liberal and Conservative approach to multicultural outreach, the Wajid Khan defection and more.

Rumours and fact

Yesterday, I reported at 1:30pm that no cabmin would lose their job and that cabinet would grow. Craig Oliver broke the news in the MSM about 8.5 hours later on CTV nightly newscast.

I’ve been tapping many contacts and will confidently predict that one of my minor predictions yesterday was actually wrong. Yesterday, I predicted that there wouldn’t be any growth from Alberta in cabinet.

Today, I can confidently predict that we will see Alberta get more representation in cabinet.

The Toronto Star is reporting that Wajid Khan is going to be appointed to cabinet this morning. My friends at CTV say that they won’t touch that speculation. Good for CTV, I’ve just heard that Wajid Khan will not be joining Harper’s cabinet this morning.

UPDATE 10:22am: Ontario MP Guergis in cabinet.

UPDATE 10:22am: Quebec MP Paradis in cabinet.

UPDATE 10:23am: Saskatchewan MP Ritz in cabinet.

UPDATE 10:26am: Jaffer arrived with Guergis. Speculation: Is Jaffer the the new Alberta representation?

UDPATE 10:30am: Confirmed by Ambrose. She’s out of the environment portfolio.

UPDATE: New jobs: Ambrose (intergovernmental affairs?), Baird (environment?), Solberg, Kenney (in cabinet), Toews (treasury board?), Finley, Van Loan, Jay Hill (in cabinet).

Official news: Nicholson goes to Justice and Attorney General, Lebreton gets Sec. of State (seniors), Solberg goes to Human Resources and Social Development, Toews goes to Treasury Board, Finley goes to Citizenship and Immigration, Ambrose goes to Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Privy Council, Van Loan goes to House Leader, Baird goes to Environment, Hill gets Sec. of State, Guergis gets Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Trade and Sport, Kenney gets Sec of State for Multiculturalism, Paradis gets Sec of State for Agriculture, Ritz gets Sec of State for Small Business and Tourism.