Thursday, October 30, 2014

Memo to Amy MacPherson: It's Over

...Her career, I mean. If you ever work anywhere in the Canadian media again it's going to have to be because some editor somewhere is even more fucked in the head than she is.

Because Amy MacPherson is fucked in the head. I don't really enjoy saying it, but it just so happens to be the most concise way of saying it.

Yesterday, I noted on High Noon that concerned readers -- concerned about the sheer dementia of her take on l'affaire Jian Ghomeshi -- had questioned her about yesterday's developments in the case. Most significantly that actress/RCAF Captain Lucy Coutere had come forward.

MacPherson promised an update to her story in "a few." Finally, at 8:48 am ET (6:48 am MT) MacPherson vomited forth this:
So MacPherson's response to Lucy DeCoutere coming forward is, effectively, to smear her by playing "six degrees of Stephen Harper." She managed to make the connection in just three Stephen Harpers. That would be impressive if it weren't incredibly deranged.

And as for MacPherson's claim that "civilians won't substantiate the Star's claims?" Well, today author Reva Seth came forward. Not only is Ms Seth not in the Armed Forces, she's a lawyer. So for MacPherson to try to discredit her with an ad hominem attack, as she tried and failed with Coutere, may not be entirely wise.

If anyone has attempted to confront Ms MacPherson with this bit of information over Twitter she has yet to respond. But she also has yet to delete her incredibly deranged conspiracy theory from the internets either (memo to Ms MacPherson: good luck with that).

Absolutely nothing about MacPherson's take on the story makes sense, or is even supported by the evidence -- or any evidence at all. MacPherson has yet to produce any evidence to even remotely support her theory. She's produced no evidence to support involvement from Rob Ford. She's produced no evidence to support involvement from Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Yet she rambles on regardless.

Whatever Amy MacPherson's next move is, one thing is beyond question: it ought to be retirement. Another thing is beyond question: it probably won't be.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Now That I've Been Convinced About Jian Ghomeshi...

Let me start out by noting that Jian Ghomeshi has not yet been charged criminally, nor has he been convicted. I'm told that Lucy DeCouture will press charges, but we'll see about that.

That being said, I think I'd like to see if Jian Ghomeshi would like it if I choked him and slapped him around just a little bit. I'm going to draw the line at pushing him down and groping him, but I will declare myself thusly: if I ever encounter this guy I'm going to fuck him up.

But there's more yet that needs to be said. People who do the things Ghomeshi has been now-convincingly-alleged to have done are half the problem with sexual violence against women. But there's another half of the problem, and I'm going to go ahead and say what it is. Even knowing that I'll face a rhetorical swarming over it, I'll say it:

The other half of the problem is the women who stay quiet about it.

Don't get me wrong. I don't mean to be callous about this: I feel like I understand that it's not easy for a woman who has been victimized to come forward. They have a lot to worry about. I understand that sometimes their assailant is in a position of power over them. I understand that there are some who blame the victim. I understand it can be painful to recount their experiences. I get all that. I get that coming forward is tough. I understand it, and I sympathize.

But here's what must be said: predators thrive off the silence of their victims. Unstopped, they continue to claim more victims, and it's in no small part because their victims don't speak up.

Whether their victims are intimidated, persuaded, or rationalized into silence there is one thing that is certain: the silence of the victim always, always, always works to the advantage of the predator. Always. Always. Always.

That doesn't make them to blame for future victimizations. The only one to blame is the predator. But in staying silent they become an unwilling enabler to the predator. No one has to like this, but that doesn't mean that it's not true.

I'd hope that Lucy DeCouture -- who may have found her courage late, but found it nonetheless -- would tell women to never stay silent about this kind of an attack. To stop the predator dead in their tracks, and never allow them to victimize again. Just like Jian Ghomeshi should have been stopped.

In closing, Moxy Fruvous was a shitty band.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Unforgiven: Defeatists, Partisans & Peaceniks Need to Put a Sock In It

Today Canada was the victim of a low-grade 9/11-style coordinated terror attack. Shots were fired at four locations in Ottawa, including Parliament Hill and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. One Canadian Forces member is dead. So is his killer, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, reported as Canadian-born and a recent convert to Islam.

Many have taken to social media to insist that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is to blame for this: that Canada is under such attack only because we have sent CF-18s to bomb ISIS militants in Iraq.

The logic is flawed, and the greater implications of it are nothing short of alarming.

The attack in which Zehaf-Bribeau participated is only one of two in the past week. Martin Rouleau, also a Canadian-born convert to Islam, attacked Canadian Forces members in what many have described as a Lee Rigby-style attack. (In actuality, Ahmad de Converti -- Rouleau's chosen name -- was far more cowardly than Rigby's murderers, who at least stayed to face the police who arrived to shoot them.)

Not long ago I wrote a blogpost noting that we're fighting ISIS in Iraq so that we don't have to fight them here. Well, as it turns out they're already here, and now we are fighting them here.

While I remain adamant that we must not treat Canada's Muslim populations as if they are all ISIS members or even as if they're potentially ISIS members, we can no longer deny that fighters for the Islamic State are walking amongst us. Perhaps not many, but clearly some. Two attacks within a week, with two victims, speak for themselves.

So suppose that we were to do what the various people who want to pin the attacks on Harper seem to want us to do: withdraw our warplanes from Iraq, abandon our alliance with Israel, and essentially allow them to dictate our foreign policy to us in order to placate these ISIS fighters already hidden in our midst. What would we have just done?

We would have just submitted to living under de facto occupation. Perhaps living under occupation by a force that we may not otherwise be confronted by, but under occupation no less.

We would have handed to ISIS, on a silver platter, Canada as their first conquest in an empire of fear.

I'd be tempted to tell these assorted defeatists (who seem to think we cannot defeat the Islamic State), partisans (who simply point the finger for political gain) and wannabe peaceniks (who seem to miss the detail that there can be no peace with organizations such as ISIS, by their own accord) that they're welcome to live like this.

But if they live like that, so do we all. So they aren't interested in it. And if they aren't content to face the reality of today's events then they just need to put a sock in it.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Rattling The Birdcage: CRA Audit of "Bird Watchers" is Spot-On

If you've been anywhere near the #CdnPoli Twittersphere over the past couple of days, you've heard a lot of chirping about it:the Canada Revenue Agency is investigating a bunch of bird watchers for political activity. Sounds ridiculous, right?

Well, not nearly so much. And it took Greg Renouf to reveal it.

I don't want to steal too much of Greg's thunder. I highly recommend visiting Genuine Witty and reading his story. I am, however, going to quote a specific snippet and add to his analysis.

From Greg's post:

"I spent the first minute of my investigation into this story by looking up the website for the Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists and making my way to the About page. Once I arrived at the page it became immediately apparent this is more than just a group of “birdwatchers”- they’re a group that’s taken on the task of protecting and preserving wildlife. Shortly into my second minute I read the last line of the group’s objectives: 

'to support public interest in nature and its preservation by supporting the enactment of wise legislation and by other means that fall within the scope of the Corporation.'

The first problem is that supporting the 'enactment of wise legislation' is a whole lot more than simple birdwatching. The next problem here is that “supporting legislation” is not a charitable activity- but there’s no problem with that- unless they’re spending more than 10% of their resources on that activity. We’ll have to leave that up to the CRA to decide- that said, if you search the KWFN on Google News, they certainly do spend a lot of time pushing this mandate."

Greg's right. The Income Tax Act stipulates that purely political activity is to be limited to 10% of an organization's spending, and may not be a primary aim of the organization. Educational activity on political matters, however, is permitted; it's how think tanks qualify for charitable and non-profit status.

"Supporting the enactment of wise legislation" is inherently political. If KWFN had instead stipulated that "informing public policy" is a central goal of their organization, they'd clearly be in the clear. Clearly.

But this is a matter of semantics, right? Right? KWFN could be stating "supporting wise legislation" -- as in specific pieces of legislation they deem to be wise -- but then simply educating people as to the potential "wisdom" of this legislation, then letting people make up their own mind about those issues, right? Right?

Sorry. But no. From a column appearing in the KWFN newsletter:

"Ontario may be facing a spring election and time is running out to pass Bill 83 [an act protecting speech on environmental issues from SLAPP lawsuits]. Please ask your MPP and political leaders to pass this law."

A column educating readers about the potential benefits of Bill 83 without asking them to support it -- entrusting to them the task of making up their own minds about it, as educated people are wont to do -- would have been well within the rules stipulated by the Income Tax Act, which the CRA is obligated to enforce, This column, advising KWFN members to take specific political action in support of a specific bill, absolutely does not.

It looks like the KWFN are not entirely innocent victims after all. The Canada Revenue Agency's audit is entirely justified. In fact, it's entirely reasonable to wonder how they've gone this long without an audit, or how they received charitable status in the first place.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Phantom Menace, Pt II: Media Party's Outrage is Heavily Misplaced

No, it's not Attack of the Clones.

Previously on Bad Company I tackled the alarm raised about a series of emails exchanged between a consortium of Canadian media outlets about the use of copyrighted news footage in political advertisements. In 1988 a court case ruled that networks could not refuse to run an ad on copyright grounds, but the consortium is still threatening to do it in 2015.

Perhaps in response to or in anticipation of this, the Conservative Party has proposed to amend the Canada Copyright Act to allow for use of copyrighted news footage in political advertisements.

The Media Party immediately blew a gasket. And while the unequivocally unexplosive emails exchanged between various media bigwigs show no sign of collusion for political ends -- to my reading they seem genuinely and not-at-all-wrongly concerned about their copyrights -- the hands of media commentators are not nearly so clean.

Media commentators, on the other hand are frequently being downright hackish. They're overlooking the not-so-finer points of the matter and falling all over themselves to find something nefarious in all of this. Their greatest enabler so far has been copyright law expert Michael Geist. I don't dispute his expertise in copyright law, but his reading of elections law leaves a lot to be desired in his analysis of this amendment to the Copyright Act.

From Geist's column:

"...the proposal is very narrow. It would only apply to political parties, politicians, candidates, and their agents. The creation of an exception that only allows a select few to benefit is not a provision that can be defended on freedom of political speech grounds. We are all entitled to exercise our political speech rights. A new exception that guards against copyright stifling such speech should apply to all."

Really? Well, no. Let's look at the relevant section of the document Geist cites as his source:
Readers may want to do what Geist seems to have not done: read the bullet point before the one that refers to political parties.

"Proposed changes... would allow free use of 'news' content in political advertisements intended to promote or oppose a politician or political party or a position on a related issue."

That happens to be the Elections Act definition of third-party advertising. A registered third party is any group authorized to advertise in an election in support or opposition to a political party, or to promote or oppose a position on a related issue. Under the Elections Act, registered third parties are treated very much the same as a political party: they must have an official agent, report their expenses to Elections Canada, and are subject to spending limits.

In other words, for the purpose of the election, the registered third party is just that: a registered. Third. Party. Albeit a party that runs no candidates for election.

So while perhaps the next bullet point talks specifically about political parties, it's also helpful to note that it does so purely as a means of example -- that's what the "i.e." is meant to specify.

Don't expect anyone in the media party to correct this obvious mistake by Geist. As it turns out, Geist's error, even if they recognize it or not, helps them build up the idea that this is some nefarious hijacking of copyright law for political purposes. The fact that the amendment simply changes the Copyright Act (the legislation) to catch up to LPC vs CBC & CTV, 1988 (the case law) seems to be either entirely lost on them, or is simply being ignored. It wouldn't be the first time either transpired, especially where the Conservative Party happens to be involved.

And while the use of an ominbus budget bill to amend this legislation is a choice that is entirely open to be questioned (while omnibus bills are frequently used for such legislative "house-keeping," budget bills should contain the budget, and nothing else), that does not make the changes, in themselves, the sign of a malevolent or fascist government (as Don Martin recently suggested).

No matter how you slice it, there is more smoke than fire involved in this issue. It's just as simple as that.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Phatnom Menace: Attack Ads, the Media Party & the Collusion Scandal That Isn't

So this is happening: the Conservative Party is planning to introduce legislation amending the Canada Copyright Act to exempt political ads from copyrights held by newsmedia. And the Media Party is up in arms over it. Right? Right?

Well, yes and no. Yes, they are up in arms. No, it's not really a political thing.

Recently, emails exchanged between representatives of several news outlets were released. Some people are pretending that these emails are damning evidence of collusion between those news outlets, perhaps for political ends.

If that's the argument intended, then the emails will disappoint. Far from explosive, they're really a quite-banal series of continuous consultations between various news outlets trying to discuss how they will protect their copyrighted material.

The ultimate result of this correspondence was the following letter:
It's actually very underwhelming stuff. Apparently they're concerned that the use of their footage in political ads will raise questions about their independence. Never mind that all sorts of people already raise all sorts of questions about the political independence of the news media: conservatives complain that the news media is too left-wing, and the left complains that it isn't left-wing enough.

The only thing in these emails that comes even close to being provocative, let alone damning or explosive, is this email from CBC's McGuire:
There may inevitably be questions about what construes an "out-of-context" use and whether or not there is sufficient context to justify that. (For example, partisan Liberals love to cite "context" in regards to Justin Trudeau's expressed admiration for China's basic dictatorship, but there is no context present that would make an aspiring democratic leader's admiration for a dictatorship acceptable.)

There are plenty of questions that McGuire and company should feel themselves compelled to answer. Such as: is use of their footage to expose the relevant shortcomings of a political candidate -- as was done to Stephen Dion (who, regardless of how bitterly Liberals may lament it was not a leader) not in the public interest? And can media outlets actually refuse to air an ad because it happens to use footage that may (or may not, as the case may be) belong to another news outlet? Previous case history (LPC v CBC, CTV, 1988) seems to indicate that they don't. Political ads were deemed to be in the public interest.

Are the media party simply taking this stand to protect Justin Trudeau? Their emails make mention of the coming 2015 election only by way of acknowledgement of its approach. And again, the case history -- the Liberal Party suing in 1988 to force CTV and CBC to air their attack ads -- seems to indicate this is not a matter of their political preferences.

In short, this story just is not what some people are making it out to be.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Quick and the Dead: BCHRC's Showdown With Its Own Legitimacy

For as long as Human Rights Commissions have been controversial in Canada, it has frequently been said that no HRC would ever help a Christian.

It's been said that discrimination against Christians is an institutionally-accepted form of discrimination. But in the case of Bethany Paquette vs Amaruk Wilderness Group (aka an epic bunch of Norwegian assholes), that notion will be tested.

It hasn't been very often that a HRC news story in Canada has featured any actual, demonstrable discrimination. But this one has. This isn't t say that HRCs rarely deal with cases of genuine discrimination, but that those cases rarely make headlines. But this one has.

Bethany Paquette applied tfor a job with Amaruk Wilderness Group. Paquette is an experienced river rafting guide. She applied for a job as -- get this -- a guide. But she also has something that soured the deal: a biology degree from Trinity Western University.

So apparently it wasn't enough for Olaf Amundsen, a self-aggrandizing buffoon in the company's human resources department (as it were) to merely tell Paquette that she wasn't qualified for the job. (This would apparently be untrue, based on Paquette's experience.) Instead he felt compelled to write her an email abusing her for what he simply presumed were her religious beliefs.

"Unlike Trinity Western University, we embrace diversity, and the right of people to sleep with or marry whoever they want," he declared. But as it turns out, Amundsen is quite the bigot himself. "The Norse background of most of the guys at the management level means that we are not a Christian organization, and most of us actually see Christianity as having destroyed our culture, tradition and way of life."

Ironically, that's an allegation made against LFBT persons by those Christians who happen to believe in discriminating against them.  Mr Amundsen isn't nearly as different from such people as he'd like to believe.

If you read the law strictly, by the letter, Mr Amundsen and his friends at Amaruk are, to use a parlance he and his cohorts will appreciate, fucked. It's unlawful to discriminate against someone on the basis of their religion in matters of employment. Mr Amundsen may think himself clever enough to try to skate around it -- claiming that he was merely expressing his opinion after rejecting an allegedly-unqualified applicant. But Paquette;s qualifications put the lie to that. Mr Amundsen is entirely transparent, and dead to rights. Even the Britisch Columbia Civil Liberties Union seems to think as much.

He's not even necessarily wrong about some things. When he states that Trinity Western University's values covenant -- which requires students at the university to publicly affirm a belief in traditional marriage in order to be permitted to attend the university -- is discriminatory.

It's also inherently coercive. So for Amundsen to ascribe such beliefs to Paquette -- whether she believes in such things or not -- is presumptive. To then churn these presumptions out in an email laden with bigoted remarks about Christianity is, in a word, stupid.

Then again bigots such as Amundsen are rarely intellectual giants.

If the letter of the law is more important to the BCHRC than the individual biases of HRC commissioners, then Olaf Amundsen and Amaruk Winderness Group are, to put it most simply, fucked.

Unless, of course, all the people who have said that a Human Rights Commission would never help a Christian, even in cases of actual discrimination, are right. But if they are, then these institutions have no legitimacy at all, and must be abolished.

Your move, BCHRC.