Sunday, February 23, 2014

Press Progress Just Can't Play By Their Own Rules

The folks at Press Progress sure do like to play by their own rules. And like any good left-wing organization, they themselves don't play by the rules they demand other people play by.

Press Progress has been among the more obnoxious participants in the campaign to attempt to run Rex Murphy off the CBC. They insist that his failure to disclose what may or may not be paid speeches to various oilsands-friendly groups before speaking about the oilsands on CBC's The National is unethical.

So you would think that Press Progress would play by its own rules and disclose who funds their operation, or any organizational links they may have, on any stories where it could be of ethical concern, right? Right?

Well, if you read their recent sad attempt at a "gotcha" article about Jason Kenney attending Conservative Party fundraisers while also traveling on government business, you may or may not notice something missing: Press Progress' disclosure that they, as a project of the Broadbent Institute, are essentially an NDP proxy.

They do pretend to be non-partisan. The Broadbent Institute pretends to be non-partisan. And in fact they're so non-partisan that the NDP broke the law in order to fund them. Which is really not very non-partisan at all.

This probably explains precisely why the story simply fails to mention the number of NDP MPs who also attend party fundraisers while traveling for public business, on the public dime. Liberals do it too. It's quite common.

Of course, Press Progress can hardly taddle on NDP MPs while maintaining direct links to the NDP. Ethics or not, that just cannot work for them. Interesting how quickly Press Progress dispenses with its own purported ethical standards.

And besides: playing by the same rules they presume to make for others? Where's the fun in that?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The High-Tax Trojan Horse

Tomorrow, the Liberal Party will kickoff its biennial convention. Party leader Justin Trudeau insists that the party convention will flush out his party's first substantial policy proposals leading into the 2015 federal election. So far, he's only offered up one: the legalization of pot.

This was, and always has been, a blatant appeal to potheads -- the kind of sad individual who populates the typical 4/20 festival -- for votes. As I've noted before, any marijuana user who votes for the Liberals on the back of a legalized pot promise is setting themselves up for a serious disappointment. Perhaps even a disappointingly-life-changing disappointment.

But recent news out of Colorado -- one of the states to legalize marijuana -- shows just how bad it can be. Users in Colorado were already beginning to get a sense of just how badly this was going to go for them:
But as it turns out, it's even worse than they ever imagined. The tax take in Colorado has exceeded lawmakers' wildest expectations. By a whopping 21%.

To some people, this would seem like a good thing. For example, if you favour big government, and love to see the government raking in lucrative tax revenue in order to pay for it, you might love this. Perhaps not so much if you're a pot user paying for it all. And if you're a pot user in Canada thinking that you won't pay through the nose under Trudeau's promised marijuana legalization, you just haven't been paying attention. At least not to this issue. Maybe there's been a magic eye poster monopolizing your attention.

OK, I'm done being facetious. But here's the point: a Liberal government legalizing marijuana won't hesitate to tax the living bejeezus out of you. It's just what they do. And they'll find all sorts of pet projects to fund with it that won't benefit you in any way, shape, or form. Although I'd bet that the $10 in tax on the above pot buy, left in your pocket, probably would. Especially cumulatively across numerous buys.

That doesn't necessarily mean the status quo, either. Decriminalization offers pretty much all the freedom of legalization, without the government's hand digging to the bottom of your pocket.

Think about it carefully, before you wake up to find a Trojan horse in your living room.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Andrew Leslie Has Some 'Splainin' To Do...

Liberals continue to be hopping mad over a CTV report that Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's prized military advisor, Lieutenant General (ret) Andrew Leslie, claimed $70,000 for a move across Ottawa. They -- and General Leslie -- insist that he's being smeared by the Conservative Party, and that he's done nothing wrong.

Yet a perusal of the Department of National Defense's policy manual for the Integrated Relocation Directive suggests that this may not actually be the case; that General Leslie's expense claim may not actually have been eligible.

Simply put, the "one last moved" allowed under the IRD is not necessarily to move absolutely anywhere:
Section 14.02.03 eventually refers the reader to section 14.08.02:
Leslie's IPP -- Intended Place of Residency -- was not in excess of 40 km away from the residence from which he moved. It was closer to four km away.

Oddly, John Geddes doesn't mention any of this in his Maclean's blogpost on the topic today.

Having spent years as a command officer in the Canadian Forces, it's not unreasonable to expect General Leslie to have a firm understanding of these policies. That he bothered to make a claim for these expenses at all is fairly questionable to say the least. That the Treasury Board approved this claim after presumably having examined it is far more than questionable.

Plenty of people have some 'splainin' to do, and Lt Gen (ret) Andrew Leslie is chief among them.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Lights Out for Michael Harris

I've noted on this blog numerous times the spectacularly-poor quality of Michael Harris' work offered via iPolitics. Errors of fundamental fact have so routinely slipped past Harris -- presuming that you invest any faith whatsoever in his care for facts -- that one begins to suspect that iPolitics editors, as they were, may have pressured Harris to simply leave the facts out of it.

After all, he's not good with them.

So in his most recent offering on iPolitics, Harris dispenses with them altogether, and instead simply throws wild speculation into the wind to see where it winds up. His current bone to pick with the Harper government has to do with the Fair Elections Act.

Certainly, the FAA isn't without its share of flaws. For example, it's prohibition against Elections Canada promoting the act of voting is, quite frankly, simply bizarre.

But the decision to determine whether or not the Elections Act has been violated -- and thus crimes committed -- from the Chief Electoral Officer to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is not one of them. Yet this is precisely where Harris chooses to assail Bill C-23, and in fairly bizarre fashion, too:

"There were some good things in Bill C-23 — the elimination of the easily corruptible practise of vouching, tighter rules for robocalls, and harsher fines for preventing someone from voting. But with this prime minister, there is always a catch. In this legislation, it is the way Harper has disbanded EC’s investigative arm.

Once that power is passed over to the Public Prosecutor, all roads lead to the PMO — just the way Harper likes it. Elections Canada reported to Parliament; the DPP reports directly to the government in power. One venue is public, the other private. In that one move, we have probably seen the last investigation into a government member’s election expenses — unless they finance their campaigns by directly removing gold bars from the Mint.

From now on, Parliament will simply never know — because Harper holds all information close. Who knows? Even Dean del Mastro might rise Lazarus-like from the muck of Peterborough politicking if they figure out a way to make all this stuff retroactive."

Incredible. What Harris has chosen to do -- with or without a preponderance of thought -- is to dispute the very basis of criminal justice in Canada. He's practically inferred that practically all criminal prosecutions in Canada are personally directed by the Prime Minister of Canada. In short, that the Prime Minister -- or at the very least the Minister of Justice -- personally decides which crimes in Canada are prosecuted, and which are not; that in Canada crimes go unprosecuted by the personal order of such.

That's literally the one and only way Harris' razor-thin argument works. Frankly, it's one hell of a bold statement, one that requires some very serious factual corroboration if it's to be taken seriously. Yet Harris doesn't even attempt to support the argument he infers.

Perhaps with good reason. If it could be demonstrated that the Prime Minister or the Minister of Justice had given such directions to the DPP, it would amount to nothing less than a Minister of the Crown committing a very serious crime. It's called obstruction of justice.

Make no mistake, this is precisely what Harris has done here: set out to raze the entire institution of criminal justice in Canada to the ground just to damage a government that he doesn't particularly care for.

Don't hold your breath waiting for Harris to back up his inferences. After all, the last time Michael Harris chirped about Peter MacKay, it ended badly for him. Very badly. As in, his home publication printing a humiliating letter badly.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Orwell, Thy Name is Siddiqui

If anyone thought the battle for free speech in Canada had been won when section 13 of the Human Rights Act was repealed, they may have been mistaken; some of the most avid anti-free speech-ers are apparently far from content to give up the fight.

Among them, apparently, is Haroon Siddiqui who has penned an op/ed in the Toronto Star that is nothing short of Orwellian, in the worst way.

The essential theme of Siddiqui's screed is this: that since section 13, one of the premiere weapons of lawfair in Canada, has been taken away Muslims allegedly have it really bad; that not only has virtually every vulnerable group in Canada benefited from protection from hatespeech while Muslims allegedly have not, but the free speech of Muslims has been unfairly impugned.

And if you actually believe this tripe, you simply haven't been paying attention.

This Orwellian tirade comes mere days after Ontario Attorney General John Gerretsen decided that Elias Hazineh, formerly President of Palestine House, won't face criminal charges for a speech made at a 2013 al-Qud's Day rally in which he openly incited violence against Israelis. Hazineh also happens to have rather deep Liberal ties, so it certainly couldn't have hurt his case in the eyes of a Liberal Attorney General.

Nor were any charges laid stemming from an incident in which Jewish protesters were assailed with Holocaust-themed taunts by frequenters of, of all places, Palestine House.

There's more that Siddiqui omits, and it happens to pertain to who is really attempting to curb free speech, and for whom: the utterly astounding length of time Ezra Levant spent being prosecuted -- many would rightly say persecuted -- by the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal for daring to publish the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad which, at about the time he published them, just happened to be at the centre of one of the most compelling news stories of the day. Levant was targeted by known radical Muslims -- some would call them "Islamists" -- who have publicly made statements that could have also been considered for prosecution under hate crime law. Again, charges were never laid.

And that's just in Alberta. At the United Nations, a collective effort by various Islamic theocracies has resulted in the adoption of draconian anti-blasphemy resolutions at the committee level of the UN -- efforts to push such resolutions through the General Assembly have, to date, fortunately been unsuccessful.

Frankly, it's unthinkable that Siddiqui wouldn't be aware of any or all of this. Likewise, all of this is beside the fact that Siddiqui offers no evidence to support his absurd claims.

Make no mistake about it: his omission of the facts that reveal who has really held the upper hand via section 13, and who is out to milk it for all its worth, was quite deliberate. That Toronto Star publishers allowed this screed to be published while omitting those very important facts reveal in stark terms precisely where they stand on the issue of freedom of speech; it's the last place a newspaper should be caught standing.