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Cache directory "/home/.jordon/josephkrengel/canadasdebate.com/wp-content/plugins/ttftitles/cache" is not writable.Launching a new blog

This will definitely be my last post, as I am shutting down this blog and launching a new one at some point in the next two weeks. See you in the funny pages!

Cache directory "/home/.jordon/josephkrengel/canadasdebate.com/wp-content/plugins/ttftitles/cache" is not writable.I hate to say “I told you so”

Scott is going to chuckle upon seeing this, but I just can’t resist commenting on the latest on developments in the Suaad Hagi Mohamud story. During a bbq held this past week for Progressive Bloggers the discussion of both her and Abdul Razik came up a few times, and the subject invariably came to how Suaad’s situation would develop once the DNA exonerated her. Being the cynic that I am, I immediately insisted that the Conservatives won’t immediately intervene and will say that they have to leave her case up to the Kenyan courts… in spite of the fact that she was turned over to the courts by the Canadian government, and that they are the ones that are essentially the complaining witness against her.

Well, sure enough:

Asked last night if Ottawa accepts the DNA result as proof of identity and, if so, when the government will send her home, Canada Border Services Agency spokeswoman Tracie LeBlanc replied: “It would be inappropriate to comment … as this matter is still before the courts.”

Apparently citizenship isn’t worth the paper its printed on… or at least, citizenship is only worth the amount of pink ink that’s used.

Cache directory "/home/.jordon/josephkrengel/canadasdebate.com/wp-content/plugins/ttftitles/cache" is not writable.So long, and thanks for all the fish

Well, I’m going to shut down Canada’s Debate. While my interest in politics has not abated, my enthusiasm for talking about it has. I am engaged in a new business venture with a couple of colleagues and that is going to consume the bulk of my online “bandwidth” for the foreseeable future. So long!

Cache directory "/home/.jordon/josephkrengel/canadasdebate.com/wp-content/plugins/ttftitles/cache" is not writable.If you believe that, I’ve got a fine Nuclear Reactor company I’d like to sell you…

To the surprise of nobody, the Federal government is looking to sell AECL, one of the country’s last remaining profitable Crown Corporations.

The Harper government plans to put Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.’s nuclear reactor business up for sale.

It’s part of a major restructuring that will also mean private-sector management for AECL’s Chalk River research facility.

AECL is in the midst of two major crises; the continued disaster which is the production of medical Isotopes, and the legitimate possibility that shaken Canadian clients (the Ontario government) will opt for the more expensive, foreign, and actually reliable service of international vendors instead of its own… and is just starting to get clear of the fallout from the MAPLE reactor fiasco.

AECL is clearly an organization in trouble, and at first glance you could almost make the case that the government is justified in dumping them… That is of course if you accept the familiar and unproven Conservative proviso that the private sector is always more efficient than the public one. The fact is that the people making this decision are the same ones who deregulated the energy sector in Ontario, and that should give us pause at the very least. The parallels don’t end there either: the government has been desperately trying to minimize the impact of its current budgeting issues and maintain their Conservative bona fides, and the sale of a crown corporation helps both; much like the Tories in Ontario in the early part of this decade.

There are several ways to explain the government’s decision to try and unload AECL: trying to distance itself from a disfunctional organization, trying to play small-government Conservative, raising capital quickly, trying to limit the PR damage of future management calamities, or perhaps they genuinely believe that this change is necessary for AECL to survive (although this is less likely, and also the least likely to have the desired outcome).

The reality is that this move makes little economic sense at a time when the economy is the overriding concern of any and all Canadians; and that is all you need to know about this issue, and the Harper Conservatives.

Cache directory "/home/.jordon/josephkrengel/canadasdebate.com/wp-content/plugins/ttftitles/cache" is not writable.Free Agency

I have been throwing myself into work and Ultimate Frisbee over the last month or so, and my activity here has declined accordingly. As of last Friday however I am unemployed, as Wardrop was required due to eliminate my position (a direct result of the recession which I have commented on somewhat callously here and elsewhere). I don’t plan on spending every waking hour on this site, but I obviously have more time and energy now than I did last week.

Cache directory "/home/.jordon/josephkrengel/canadasdebate.com/wp-content/plugins/ttftitles/cache" is not writable.Sovereignty? We don’t need no stinkin’ sovereignty!

I tend to participate in political discussions with Americans, and as the token-foreigner I often end up playing the role of “International Obligations” cheerleader. I’ve defended the International Criminal Court and emphasized the necessity for a real international Comity on justice and governance…

All of which leaves me in an uncomfortable position. The story of Abousfian Abdelrazik is not new, and I will not recount it here. Instead, I’d like you to consider the latest document released by the Feds to justify their latest assault on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (at least this was actually formally issued, and not “leaked” by the PMO).

The government document states that Abdelrazik’s listing under an international travel ban takes precedence over his right as a citizen to enter Canada.

“Section 6 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not guarantee a right to travel through other countries to enter Canada…The travel ban prohibits other states from allowing the applicant to enter into travel through their territories,” it says.

Yep, you read that right. Harper (because everything this government does, it does on his behalf) is arguing that Canada’s international obligations trump our guaranteed Constitutional Rights. The article goes into depth on the circumstances of this issue, and makes it pretty clear that this argument is more about bootstrapping than observing the law, but I find this new “approach” from the Conservatives far more disturbing than the Kafka-esque nightmare that Mr. Abdelrazik finds himself in. I honestly cannot think of a single instance where a Conservative politician anywhere has made this concession. Can anyone fill me in if this has happened?

What is the motive here? If he is a national security risk he can be flown home and detained under the conveniently dubious Security Certificates, and the evidence that he is a risk is negligible and has not been revealed at all. If we can eliminate security as the motivation, then what else? If the government wanted to look “Tough on Crime” they would be releasing or leaking their evidence at every turn, so their secrecy pretty much eliminates that theory…

What this looks like to me is another attempt to weaken the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Minority rights are extremely tough to dismantle, and the Tories would have to pretty-much abandon plans for a majority if they tried. On the other hand, guarantees of constitutional liberties are weakened every time they are rebuffed, and a “suspected” terrorist makes for a much less sympathetic target. Rights for everyone are weakened when they are denied to anyone; Harper is just taking advantage of the fact that the “anyone” in question is tucked away in an obscore, “dark” corner of the world.

Cache directory "/home/.jordon/josephkrengel/canadasdebate.com/wp-content/plugins/ttftitles/cache" is not writable.“A government is the only known vessel that leaks from the top”

The whole issue of the Reformers leaking Mulroney’s supposed departure from the Conservative party has been interesting pretty much right from the start. The conversation has been predominantly one of the “cracks” it reveals in the Reform-Progressive Conservative Alliance, and justifiably so. Harper wanted to distance his two-headed abortion of a Conservative party from the drama and public vitriol that Mulroney pulls in to the PC’s.

What is really interesting is in how clumsily he’s gone about doing it. Harper has done a masterful job of placating the masses with his public outcry’s of corruption and the evils of big-government, but he has had less of a deft-hand when it comes to bedroom that has become the Conservative caucus. Distanced from their crippling losses in the 90′s, Progressive Conservatives are no longer afraid speaking up for their own brand of conservatism; and with the cushion of a booming economy that was not his own doing, Harper’s reform-style governance is starting to turn off Canadians that want more substance than “More guns, less taxes.”

All of this makes the newest revelation on this story so interesting. According to an anonymous source, Harper specifically approved of the Conservative plan to “leak” the Mulroney story.

“He (Harper) knew and he agreed to it,” said the source, referring to plans to leak the original story. “They thought they could differentiate between old Conservatives and new Conservatives, Progressive Conservatives and the Conservative Party of Canada. And of course it’s a ridiculous notion.”

That in and of itself is not necessarily a revelation, the fact that he’s been outted by someone in his organization however is the strongest sign yet that Harper’s iron-clad grip on his party is loosening as reality intrudes on his governance, and old misgivings re-emerge… and the ineptitude fits him like one of those fugly blue sweaters.

Cache directory "/home/.jordon/josephkrengel/canadasdebate.com/wp-content/plugins/ttftitles/cache" is not writable.The decline of newspapers, or the decline of journalism?

Earlier this year I wrote on the trials facing the newspaper, and I was not particularly generous:

True or not, my sympathy is extremely limited; for years print publications have been reducing their content to easy-to-digest fear-gasms about crime, corruption and death. Is it any surprise that we are part of a generation that doesn’t want to dig deep in a story, when the newspapers that showed up on our doorsteps as kids screamed shallow factoids that required no investigation or elucidation?

The decline of the newspaper industry has as much to do with a decline in quality and process than it does with the cruelty of the new media environment. For me to have any sympathy, and for any of the major players to justify public support they must justify it by meeting the ethical standards of journalism which so many writers use as a crutch for their sensationalistic, egocentric posturing. If journalism is changing (and that is not an unfair appraisal) then journalists must not sit back and just guard their ethics as some sort of shrinking feifdom, they should work tirelessly to reestablish them as the cornerstone of traditional media. That is the only way that newspapers and magazines can justify their “Woe is me” cries of poverty. It is not simply enough for journalists to operate as they have in the past and say that their industry deserves to survive in an entirely new market.

Today, I have a perfect example of some of the failings from the previous post: the Toronto Star ran a CP article on comments by a retired food inspector about Canada’s inspection system. Now, anyone paying attention for the last year knows that the primary danger to Canada’s food supply is negligence or incidental contamination… and the comments largely talked about the lack of training for inspectors and a poor system of regulations.

So how does the story read (and what is the headline)? Canada vulnerable to outbreaks, bioterrorism: Report Now, what is your first impression on seeing this headline? If your answer is “Boy, Canada’s food inspection regulations are soft” then you’re a more astute reader than I. If journalists are the beacons of truth and justice that deserve veneration and an eminent place in the information pantheon, they need to collectively act the part. Every day I get a reminder that they are not yet prepared to do that.

Cache directory "/home/.jordon/josephkrengel/canadasdebate.com/wp-content/plugins/ttftitles/cache" is not writable.Destiny and Choice… and Battlestar Galactica

Ok, excuse me for a moment while I get something geeky off my chest.

Battlestar Galactica recently wrapped up after a tumultuous four-year run. Much to my surprise, the finale, which I considered some of the best made television I’ve ever seen, has been met by widespread frustration. For those who haven’t seen it, you’re better off not reading any further: if you’re a fan of the show you’ll spoil it for yourself, and if you’re not the following will probably be pretty boring.

As I was saying, I found the response surprising. I realize that people tend to get emotionally invested in tv (or movies or books) for a variety of different reasons, so I figured that some people would be upset that a show they were attached to was ending, but that wasn’t what happened. Instead, the reaction was largely like this:

Actually, the entire scene was quite different from what came before. It was quite a tonal switch. It was jarring to go from such lyrical moments to such exposition-y stuff. (And if you know what he looks like — and perhaps the majority of “Battlestar” fans don’t — seeing Moore in the scene was odd too. It took me out of the moment).

I agree with the comment on Ronald Moore, but otherwise perplexed. The show ends with a montage of robots, but the conclusion that this ending implied that “everything that has happened before will happen again” completely misses the point of the show, and ignores what we’ve been subtly presented these past few years (and not so subtly recently).

The show took up a theme that has dominated religion for millenia, the debate between destiny and free-will, and I think that the show made an interesting statement on free will that has largely been overlooked… Ronald Moore and David Eick must feel the same way because they practically spelled it out in the final minute.

Head Baltar: But the question remains, “Does all of this have to happen again?”

Head Six: This time I bet no.

Head Baltar: You know, I’ve never known you to play the optimist. Why the sudden change of heart?

Head Six: Mathematics. Law of averages. Let a complex system repeat itself long enough and eventually something surprising might occur. That too is in God’s Plan.

Something surprising? If we accept that human “fate” is the closed system, and that is all a part of god’s plan, then what could the surprise be BESIDES free-will? On the other hand, the show makes states repeatedly that destiny is driving these characters. The revelation of the show (and certainly the final episodes) was that these two ideas are not irreconcilable. What if (the showrunners ask) destiny is more than just a series of predetermined events, but rather the path set out before us that serves to take us only to a place and time where we must choose? (It is worth noting that this is certainly not a new idea; but its rare to see a TV show embrace it in this fashion).

The show’s “message” has been consistent from the start: Sooner or later, we must answer for the things that we have done. If there is no free will there is no “consequence”; events do not flow from those that preceeded them, they simply unfold in a predetermined order. No, destiny is something else entirely… it is the events and “forces” at work which drive us towards an inevitable choice; one that only we can make. The show has never been just about what we’ve done, it’s about the choices we’ve made… and as Battlestar Galactica boldly suggests in its closing shots, we have another perilous choice to make. As in the lives of these characters, the choice we face and the decision we must make is never revealed to us; all we can do is learn from our experiences, “the things that we have done” and hope to do what is right when the time comes.

Personally, I just wish that whatever forces were at work in my mind looked more like Tricia Helfer…

Cache directory "/home/.jordon/josephkrengel/canadasdebate.com/wp-content/plugins/ttftitles/cache" is not writable.The difference between Americans and Canadians?

I saw this at the Chicago Sun-Times and just had to share it. It could be inferred by Jaime’s comments on my earlier post that the difference between Americans and Canadians is the place that guns hold in our national awareness; but that is incorrect.

Facebook friends are not real friends, either, in that they won’t lend you $20 or help you move into a new apartment in return for pizza.

No, the real difference is that in Canada and friend will help you move for beer. That is all.

Cache directory "/home/.jordon/josephkrengel/canadasdebate.com/wp-content/plugins/ttftitles/cache" is not writable.Going mainstream

I’ve been unable to determine exactly why my comments aren’t working, and the other issues I’m having using a custom-theme are starting to become a hassle; so I am going to switch to Atahualpa for the time being. Feel free to offer your comments.

Cache directory "/home/.jordon/josephkrengel/canadasdebate.com/wp-content/plugins/ttftitles/cache" is not writable.Guns don’t kill people, Conservatives kill people

So Harper is trying to wrangle enough hunters and anglers to rally support for cancelling the Long-Gun Registry program. That fact alone isn’t news… the facts on this issue are not up for dispute: yes, it was expensive to start, but the program is now inexpensive to operate, law enforcement wants it but farmers and hunters don’t, etc.

What is really horrifying is the following passage. See if you can figure out what is disturbing me about it:

Jim Magee, a cattle farmer from Drumbo, Ont., near Woodstock, called the registry “aggravation.”

He said wild animals, like coyotes, will sometimes kill his livestock.

“As soon as I get my gun out and get my ammunition that’s locked away, the coyote is a mile away,” Magee said, who is also a former police officer.

“But if I keep (my gun) out and it gets stolen, I’m in trouble.”

Yep, that’s right… if someone steals this man’s gun, he gets in trouble, and what galls him is not that an incredibly dangerous weapon has been stolen in this scenario, but that he will get in trouble because of this legislation. Reality check Magee; it’s not the coyote that’s stealing your rifle, it’s a potentially violent criminal, and the state has a vested interest in not letting that happen.

This sordid complaint is proof positive of why we need the Long Gun Registry… this man considers his ability to kill a coyote easily more important than carefully securing his weapon so it can’t be stolen and used in a crime. And what do you know, this knuckle-dragging troglodyte is being courted by Stephen Harper.

Cache directory "/home/.jordon/josephkrengel/canadasdebate.com/wp-content/plugins/ttftitles/cache" is not writable.Comments broken

I just realized that the comments section of this site isn’t working. I’ll be looking into it over the coming week, and try to get it up and running as soon as I can.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Cache directory "/home/.jordon/josephkrengel/canadasdebate.com/wp-content/plugins/ttftitles/cache" is not writable.Should Political Theory be taught in high-school?

Simple question… Should Political Theory be taught in high-school? Our educational system seems to be designed to teach students the broad mechanics of government, but the education of civics does not provide any insight into how a young Canadian should learn to vote.

The foundation of any functioning democracy is a society that is free to vote with its conscience; and I just don’t think that Canadians have the tools necessary to know how to do that.

Cache directory "/home/.jordon/josephkrengel/canadasdebate.com/wp-content/plugins/ttftitles/cache" is not writable.“I know, we’ll dig our way out!”

When exactly did the current economic “situation” stop being a crisis and develop into a full-blown parody? Apparently the titular “head” of Ford Motor Company of Canada thinks that the solution to the stagnating auto-industry is to simply make it easier to buy cars.

The best way to rescue Canada’s battered auto sector is not through direct bail outs, but by giving consumers an incentive to buy new cars, the head of Ford Motor Co. in Canada says.

Everything about this article makes me angry, especially the fact that a supposed expert actually uttered the words “more safer,” in what is supposed to be an intelligent plea for aid. Now, lets consider this particular idea. If we give people a cash incentive to buy new cars (we’re told), people will junk their old ones, get new ones, and we’ll all be happy as clams… except this ignores the underlying problems facing the auto industry. Car ownership rates skyrocketed in the last 20 years (over 2 per household in Canada now) and stabilized in recent years, and they last twice as long as they used to.

What conclusions can we draw from these facts? That the demand for cars is declining. Now, what do we know about car loans? For starters, they are money pits. The average loan in the United States is for 98% of the car’s total value (couldn’t find Canadian stats, sorry). We’ve all learned the hard way that a mortgage with less than a 5-10% downpayment is a really bad idea; so who in their right mind would suggest that a loan for an asset that automatically declines in value is makes a lick of sense during a time of economic contraction? Easy-to-acquire credit courtesy of the global banking industry’s phantasmagorical derivatives market has fueled consumption of just about everything (including cars) beyond the means of the global economy to pay for it. The money is not there.

The majority of cars are purchased with loans. People cannot afford the amount of debt they have, and it is being suggested that the government acquire more debt, to allow Canadians to acquire more debt of their own, in order to artificially inflate a market which is in a period of inevitable contraction.

Normally I wouldn’t be worried that an idea this stupid would be considered seriously, but Stephen Harper is still in power, and still desperate.