Friday, June 30, 2006

I've made up my mind

I've settled on my first choice candidate for the Liberal leadership. It wasn't really a sudden decision; rather, it was one of those things that arrived at gradually.

So who is it?

It's the candidate that I feel has the knowledge, skills and experience that are vitally necessary for the next leader of the Liberal party to possess.

This individual is regarded as having the best command of both official languages of any candidate, and they maintain impeccable integrity (to be fair, most of the candidates do, with only 2 having any issues).

They have extensive leadership experience, which is unmatched by any of the other candidates. They've led, and won. They have also experienced the down side, but there are key learnings to be garnered there, and they seem to have appreciated this.

Beyond their political acumen, they've also served Canada and internationally in non-partisan roles both publicly and privately, through mediation and consultation; this has added to the impressive breadth of issues with which they are closely familiar, which include Federalism, Security and Intelligence, and Education.

Who is it? You know.

Having said that (or not said in this case), I want to mention that while I feel that this choice is evident, it's doesn't mean that I don't appreciate any of the other candidates... quite the contrary, I think it is an excellent slate, especially when compared to what the other parties have put forward in the past. Whoever wins the leadership will have a solid team to work with moving forward.

Have a great Canada day, and enjoy your long weekend.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Is it just me, or is Tony Clement getting off easy?

With a significant conflict of interest involving the Minister of Health, wouldn't you expect that a bigger deal was being made of this?

The Toronto Star doesn't even mention it in his report card rating (where they give him a D).

The only mention I've caught recently was in the Opposition evaluation "The opposition's best 11," where they give credit to Ruby Dhalla for bringing this issue to the attention of Canadians (not available on-line).

Jeff Jedras gives a detailed post on the matter, which sums up nicely.

So, is he selling off his interest of not? According to this story he is but...

Mr. Clement has said he has not found a buyer for his holdings in the company and to comply with federal ethics rules he promised to avoid discussions or decisions involving the company.


Maybe he's holding out for a better price?

Shouldn't he have resigned his portfolio by now?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Multiculturalism

Before Harper's speech in Vancouver yesterday, I was begining to wonder if the CPC was going to be adopting the stance that multiculturalism has failed. If you were to judge by the opinion that seems to predominate the conservative bloggers, it would seem that the party's supporters feel that way. (links here, here, here, here, here)

I wonder if this is going to be one of those areas where they'll want to make changes that put their conservative stamp on the nation... maybe this is the kind of policy re-shaping they'll save for the majority they're hoping to form.

I wonder how Canadians will react? honestly, I'd expect that most would voice support for our system, but now terror has been added to the mix. Who knows... I was surprised there existed so much opposition to same sex marriage.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Hey John

A little later than expected... (this is a follow up to this discussion)

You seem to be saying that if someone does not explore how their desires will affect others, then they could be said to be ignorant.

It might not be a problem of taking the time to explore how their desires will affect others; maybe they haven’t learned to be so circumspect about anything, let alone their desires, actions, beliefs, etc.

"could be said." Hmmm. (yes, I say could be said because there probably is a better way of explaining what I’m suggesting… I’m not a social scientist, at least not a qualified professional one) Since you determined that they are missing knowledge and experience that gives them a true appreciation of their own self interest, I will run with that. Under what circumstances would they be said to be ignorant? Similarly, under what circumstances would they not be considered ignorant?

I think I've been pretty clear on this point John; it's a judgment call on my part, to be sure, but I don't think I'm far from the mark: When people break the law, conspire to harm others, and basically behave in a manner that is counter to the rules of our society, there is an issue. Granted, this is based on the assumption that the cause of their actions isn't related to other problems, such as mental illness. It is possible that a suicide bomber is a person with an illness which has been exploited by extremists.

The apprehended terrorist suspects where comprised mainly of teens and young men, who are still at what can be a volatile age with regard to socio-political development.

On a related note, there was an interesting article in the Star on June 12th by Andrea Gordon on the development of young men by the title of “Consider the mysteries of the teen mind

A quote in the article from Toronto psychologist and brain scientist Dr. Ron Clavier.does say

"It's very murky, and too complicated to make sweeping statements about because there are so many factors at play."

I do agree with that… there are many factors, ignorance just being one. Physiological causes come into play also:

"Brain development, while only part of the picture, is a place to start. Scientists used to think that by the time the body was all grown up, the brain was too. But now, thanks to technologies such as magnetic resonance imaging, they know that long after an adolescent has stopped putting on inches, their brain is continuing to develop. The pre-frontal cortex — responsible for executive functions such as judgment, impulse control and decision-making based on assessing consequences — isn't fully formed until the early or mid-20s. And until it is, "they don't really have a full understanding of the impact of their actions on society or on themselves," says Clavier, author of the 2005 book Teen Brain, Teen Mind.”

I’m also reminded of the recently released book on young Pierre Elliot Trudeau, which talks about the political beliefs he had when he was a young man.

The point here is that it’s common for young people to experience some radical ideological phases; fortunately most people won’t be dangerous during this phase of their development, and will grow out of it.

You admit that you are only guessing what the would be terrorists goals were and whether or not they achieved any of their goals. In light of your guessing, it would be difficult to figure out their level of ignorance. How do you know what their knowledge and experiences are? How do you know if they have a "true appreciation" of their own self interest? How do you know if they do not?

Yes, and then again… no. The Behavioural Science Unit of the FBI do some pretty amazing work. I would bet that they could, if they haven’t already, give an accurate assessment of the development and motivation of terrorists that haven’t been apprehended; this information would be easy to gather from any who are in custody.

And without proving that the ignorance exists, how can you state that it is the crux of the problem that is faced by the liberal democracies?

Again, let’s be clear that what I wrote was: “the crux of the problem that is faced by the liberal democracies, with regard to the threat of terrorism.” You keep leaving out the “with regard to terrorism,” and it’s a key part of what I was saying; and I can state that easily… many hypotheses start off that was you know, as statements, guesses, possibilities… the proving or disproving will eventually follow.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Roundup

  • I was able to attend the breakfast meeting with Bob Rae hosted by Burlington Federal Liberals yesterday. I liked Mr Rae's message... I can't do it justice here, but I think that as more people hear what he has to say he's going to gain more support.
  • Nice to see some positive polling numbers for the good guys, from a reputable polling source no less.
  • I want to post so much more on multiculturalism, or rather rail against the people who feel it has "failed." Hopefully I'll have time for more thoughtful posting on this in the next week.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

How did Robert Fulford get his head so far up his ass?

Sometimes, I just have to spout. Today, I've been torturing myself reading some of the reactionary nonsense being spouted against multiculturalism.

Reading Fulford's piece, I got to this sentence before I snapped:

No reasonable Canadian opposes the right of immigrants to respect their homeland cultures and retain aspects of their pre-Canada lives.
But Canada has gone beyond that. Multiculturalism has become a way of putting people in narrow categories. Some groups have decided to live in ghettos of their own making, apart from the rest of us.


What? People of different cultural/affinity groups, like, forming their own small communities? No way! Like, Mennonite villages, or Chinatowns? These just appeared in Canada in the last 30 years? They didn't exist anywhere else before that? Wow. [/sarcasm]

Monday, June 12, 2006

Ok, one more time...

So how is ignorance "the crux of the problem that is faced by the liberal democracies, with regard to the threat of terrorism?" John wasn't satisfied with my answer, and he seems to have mis-read what I stated in my first post on the subject, but I'll give it another go anyhow; he is correct about one thing however, I haven't done a good job of explaining my thoughts on this matter.

How is ignorance manifest in terrorism? I thought this was self evident, but maybe not...

When someone lacks the knowledge and experience that gives them a true appreciation of their own self interest (let alone the self interest of their family, or fellow citizens, culture, or whatever group they ultimately aspire to represent or be a part of), then they could be said to be ignorant (Sticking with the idea that the real problem is the kind of ignorance that results in a callous or malicious disregard and/or disrespect for the dignity, rights and/or physical safety of others).

For example, did any of the 17 alleged terrorist arrested in Canada recently really do anything to further their own cause? Would they have, even if they had successfully carried out an attack? No. At a time when the public support for the war in Afghanistan was strangely low, they probably only would have enraged Canadians, but that is just a guess on my part. They have succeeded in bringing the fear of reprisal to Muslims in Canada, but again, I'm guessing that isn't what they were out to achieve.

Take a look at some causes and movements where the use of violence is employed to try and bring about a desired end, the result is varying degrees of failure. Consider the Basque movement, IRA offensives, the infamous FLQ actions, or the Palestinian movement. Has violence helped these causes? Perhaps some could split hairs and say it has, but it's hard to say to what degree, and we'll never know what the corollary would have achieved.

In contrast, consider the movement to free India from British colonial rule, or the movement against South African Apartheid, or the civil rights movement in the United States. While these movements were not totally devoid of the use of violence, it arguably played significantly less of a role in each, and what is most outstanding about these movements are the leaders who emerged from them and the methods they chose.

Again, in a country like Canada where dialogue and debate are more highly regarded that violence, the young men who will soon stand trial as terrorists would likely have enjoyed much more success in life and for whatever cause they chose to support had they instead become impassioned advocates of peaceful progress or solutions.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Fait Accompli?


“There is already one carrier task force there in the Gulf, two are steaming toward it at the last report I have at least - they will all be there in another week or so. The propaganda has been laid, the aircraft carriers are in place, it doesn't take much to fly the bombers out of British and US bases - cruise missiles are at the ready, Israel is egging us on."(Former CIA Analyst, Ray McGovern... says Iran Strike Possibly Set For June Or July)

I was thinking that the two sides were nearing some sort of rapprochement, but then the "weeks, not months" business came out.

This morning, this is in the news: Iran confirms stepping up N-activities. Is this the spin? Is this the propaganda McGovern was talking about?

(Note: I've made some corrections to this post to clarify the ambiguous quotation link, and the erroneous attribution of the propaganda. I've back-dated the post to the 9th to avoid re-posting to the blog roll.)

Ok, I'll explain further

After the arrest of the 17 terrorist suspects in Canada last week, there was a surprising amount of static in the airwaves and over the net blaming multiculturalism at least in part for the terrorist threat that we now seem to face. This prompted me to express my thoughts on the matter in this post, which received one rebuke which I felt deserved a reply.

What a terrible article. You made the hypothesis that multiculturism is not the problem. Instead, you suppose that ignorance is the problem, but you never proved that.

Fair enough; you're entitled to your opinion. I'll concede that I didn't explain in detail how ignorance manifests itself in terrorist activity, or any of the other ills that I claim are similarly resulting from ignorance. For that matter, using the term ignorance is somewhat vague, so in an effort to explain further, I should probably start by defining what I mean by 'ignorance':

ignorance n : the lack of knowledge or education.
Source: WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University (from dictionary.com)

To be honest, when I'm referring to ignorance, I'm talking about a broader concept that just this definition would imply. Maybe Charles Dickens would have believed in his time that given enough knowledge or education, then ignorance would cease to be a problem or could be erased from the human brow; unfortunately, in this day and age that doesn't appear to be the case.

The problem isn't so much ignorance itself, but rather the ignorance that results in a callous or malicious disregard and/or disrespect for the dignity, rights and/or physical safety of others.

At this point, I could start writing tomes how this definition of ignorance applies to religious extremism, racism, homophobia, sexism, etc. I might have to come back to this in another post...


My problem with multiculturism is how intolerant it is. Gone is Merry Christmas which has been replaced with Season's Greetings. Gone is the Christmas tree which has been replaced with the holiday tree. There are many more examples of how intolerant others have been toward the dominant Christianity in the name of multi culturism. How does that generate peace and harmony?

What is causing you this grief isn't multiculturalism, but rather political correctness. The two are sometimes considered connected, but if you read the two links, you'll have a better understanding of the difference between them. I'm not totally keen on political correctness myself, but I still try to be respectful towards others in my choice of words and use of language. Suffice to say, in my house it's still a Christmas tree, and nobody has demanded that I call it otherwise.

I would like to read your opinion on the issue of what the true problem is that is facing liberal democracies. I would also like to see some examples to back that up.

Well, the problem de jour which has precipitated this exchange is terrorism. Did you need an example of terrorism, or how it's related to ignorance? I honestly feel both are self evident, but here goes:

Terrorism n. The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.
Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth EditionCopyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

The definition of terrorism pretty much says it. In a society that guarantees the rights and freedoms of all, the use of terrorism over open disscussion or debate is unnaceptable. Ok?


On another note, taking one of your examples, I would like to know how feminists insulting the work of stay-at-home moms did not contribute to misogyny.

You've misquoted my example, but instead of "equal rights" you've substituted "feminists insulting the work of stay-at-home moms." It boggles the mind sometimes. I'd like to leave it to the links for explaining women's rights in society. Your question is more related to the different perspectives of the role of women in society (with the use of the word 'insulting' giving a slight clue as to your point of view).

Without know exactly what you mean by the use of the term 'insulting' I can't really answer your question properly; did you mean to imply that the feminist movement's insistance on equal rights is an insult to the work of stay at home moms, or are you referring to a specific incident or insult that I am not aware of?

Your question reminds me of another similiar type of arguement, which is equally fallacious: "attractively dressed women provoke sexual assault." The point is, whether demanding fair treatment or dressing in an attractive manner, there is no justification for hatred or violence against women. In these cases, hatred and violence are choices made by people, who should know better.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Multiculturalism is Not the Problem; Ignorance is.

"This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased." Charles Dickens

It’s important that everyone understand that this is the crux of the problem that is faced by the liberal democracies, with regard to the threat of terrorism, as evidenced by the arrests of suspected terrorists here in Canada. Why is this important? If multiculturalism were the problem, then it would be easier to solve. Instead, because the problem is at its very root ignorance itself, it is going to be much more difficult to deal with.

How difficult? How difficult has it been to eradicate bigotry in our society? What about racism, homophobia, sexism, superstition, crime and gang warfare? These are all examples, or rather symptoms of the true problem.

I have been dismayed to hear the suggestion that the problem lays with multiculturalism; that a policy of tolerance of varying cultures, that promotes peace, harmony and the acceptance of the differences of others should be seen as a weakness couldn’t be farther from the truth. Multiculturalism is a policy that by its nature is diametrically opposed to the kind of ignorance that we now find our society being threatened by.

Blaming multiculturalism, as part of the problem, is akin to saying that integration caused racism, or that equal rights result in misogyny.

How do we deal with this militant ignorance which threatens our society? The same way we always have. On a practical level, we pass laws and create regulations that will help protect the public from violence. We enable our security services with the knowledge and power (within reason) to be able to work against the purposes of those who would use violence against their fellow citizens. All the while, we increase awareness and education in an effort to curb the spread of ignorance.

Likewise, fear is an appropriate response to that kind of violence, or threat of violence in our midst; its how we deal with that fear that is important. Do we allow it to overcome us, and cause us to lash out and react in kind? No. We recognize the problem, we educate ourselves, reassure ourselves, and we carry on with courage.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Roundup

Two campaigns have confirmed they will be submitting responses to the questionnaire.

Meanwhile, I attended my first Burlington Federal Liberal Association policy meeting last week. It was a smaller turnout than I would have expected. Paddy Torsney was able to attend, even though she had just arrived home that afternoon from Ethiopia where she was helping with the training of parliamentarians.

I asked her about what she was doing:

They are using Canada's expertise and experience to expand public participation in their committees and to develop consensus around issues and bills. It's a new government with an overwhelming majority and demonstrating to them that opposition and government members each have roles to play for the good of all citizens was important. A point reinforced when the local citizens, frustrated by city hall, lit tires and threw rocks at the police who advanced with guns firing. It was a brief but important demonstration of what can happen when govt isn't seen as working to resolve problems citizens are experiencing.

Nice to see you've kept up the good work Paddy!

Rolling Stone: Was the 2004 U.S. Election Stolen?

This article is a pretty disturbing read. What I wonder is, why isn't this bigger news? Rolling Stone is the only publication compiling this stuff?