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December 2007 Blog Archive

My archived blog articles for December 2007 are below. You can also click the respective links for my current blog articles, my featured blog articles, and my complete blog archives.

Blood, Duty, and Responsibility
21 December 2007, 21h10 EST (GMT-5)

Liberal Forum on Peace in Sri Lanka
International Day of Peace Movement
Click logo for the Liberal forum advisory

Since the end of the Cold War, the threat of a single infinitely consuming international war has given way to the reality of an infinite number of single-nation civil conflicts. Of them, few have been bloodier than the civil war in Sri Lanka between predominantly Buddhist Sinhalese and predominantly Hindu Tamils.

Since 1983, nearly 70'000 people - the vast majority unarmed civilians - have died, and the catalogue of atrocities is one that should shock the conscience of the international community.

Canada is home to significant Tamil and Sinhalese expatriate communities, and like earlier Protestant and Catholics immigrants from Ireland, they have contributed to our national miracle: more often than not, members of communities locked in bloody conflict abroad have lived together in harmony upon settling in Canada.

Canada's traditional facility for fostering concord within our borders gives rise to both a duty and a challenge. Given our historical success as a safe haven for conciliation, Canada has a duty to try to project that dynamic back to the original conflicts in the communities' regions of origin. Given the contemporary ability of globalisation to manifest foreign conflicts domestically, we have a responsibility to assure our national security by fostering international peace.

I have tried to modestly contribute to fulfilling that duty and to meeting that challenge in my professional and voluntary life. Accordingly, I was honoured to be asked to moderate a forum being held by Liberal MPs from across the Greater Toronto Area, to discuss the civil war in Sri Lanka and to attempt to forge a consensus on what Canada can do to establish peace in the country. Crucially, the forum will be open to all Canadians: Tamil, Sinhalese, and otherwise.

Bob Rae, as Liberal Shadow Foreign Minister, is the keynote speaker, and Derek Lee, the MP for Scarborough - Rouge River, is the host. Other panellists include: Alan Tonks, the GTA Caucus Chair; John McCallum, former Minister of Defence; John McKay, the MP for Scarborough - Guildwood; Jim Karygiannis, the MP for Scarborough - Agincourt; and Jonathan Kay, the National Post Comment Editor.

The details of the forum are at my advisory.

Maclean's 50: Harper is But Mad North North-West
18 December 2007, 16h26 EST (GMT-5)

Maclean's 50
The Maclean's 50
Click logo for the full commentary and original article

Maclean's Magazine's Aaron Wherry has offered the view that Stephen Harper's "recent tendency towards violent and unpredictable mood swings" has "seemed particularly untethered" during debate (for want of a better word) in the House of Commons over the Atomic Energy Commission Ltd (AECL) medical isotope crisis.

Though Wherry jocularly hints at a more organic source for these antics, in my commentary as a member of the Maclean's 50, I suggest that Harper is obviously but mad north-north-west.

My full commentary published at the Maclean's web site is below. The original article and companion commentaries are available by clicking here.

* * *

Stephen Harper's penchant for manufactured outrage is, perhaps, more comprehensible in light of the inexorable ooze of revelations seeping out of the AECL fiasco. He is "but mad north north-west".

An independent expert panel twice recommended that the government confirm the AECL's serving interim Chair as the permanent incumbent, and it made those recommendations under both Liberal and Conservative administrations. Harper, however, instead appointed a former Alliance fundraiser to the post.

The current crisis over medical isotope production erupted because - as everyone including the AECL concedes - the AECL failed under Harper's partisan appointee to adhere to nuclear safety regulations. He has since quietly resigned from his post.

By contrast, the person whom Harper publicly derided - from the libel-proof perch of the House of Commons - as a Liberal shill bent on endangering the health and safety of Canadians, was actually a non-partisan career civil servant who is legally compelled to enforce the regulations the AECL had violated.

The reason Harper does not sustain his tantrums is that his outbursts are nothing more than the oldest of political ploys: when caught in an indefensible position, attack instead, and hope that the collective mind of the media wanders before the truth emerges.

Maclean's 50: A Sordid Campaign of Character Assassination
08 December 2007, 20h15 EST (GMT-5)

Maclean's 50
The Maclean's 50
Click logo for the full commentary and original article

The attempt by Irene Mathyssen to smear James Moore with false allegations of ogling pornography in the House are being rightfully ridiculed, but they are also being recklessly dismissed as the vulgar inanity of a single NDP MP. In reality, Mathyssen's actions reflect a calculated pattern of behaviour by her party.

During the general election, NDP leader Jack Layton accused Paul Martin of killing the homeless, an accusation he never withdrew.

To this day, the NDP web site proudly trumpets NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis' role in precipitating an RCMP criminal investigation into Ralph Goodale, but it makes no mention of the fact that the RCMP fully exonerated Goodale.

Fewer than twenty-four hours after Mathyssen's humiliating apology to Moore, NDP House Leader Libby Davies was also forced to apologise for her party's false allegations during the election that Liberal candidate David Oliver had attempted to bribe his NDP opponent into withdrawing from the race. Davies admitted that the NDP had induced their candidate to repeat the accusation some forty times before the national media and that the NDP had then suppressed a letter from the Elections Commissioner exonerating Oliver.

How is it possible for a party of such zealous political self-righteousness to engage so fervently in so sordid a campaign of character assassination?

One of the many ironies of politics is that there is little more ethically corrosive than the ideological certainty of virtue. It was because Robespierre "The Incorruptible" was utterly convinced of the morality of his position that he was able to sanction the immorality of the Reign of Terror. It is because the NDP believes that it holds a monopoly on the interests of "The People" that it is able to casually sanction the destruction of innocent people.

Jack Layton should remember that Canadians have the wisdom to know better and the decency to expect better. And he should remember that in the end, Robespierre was despatched by the same guillotine he had wielded so savagely against his political opponents.

Letter from a Grey-Beard Loon
07 December 2007, 00h15 EST (GMT-5)

The 100 Year Letter Project
DeSmogBlog's 100 Year Letter Project
Click logo for the project's home page

In the face of the overwhelming scientific consensus that global warming is a reality, the last redoubt of those who would keep us prisoners of inaction is a steady, numbing stream of disinformation. DeSmogBlog seeks to parry fiction with fact, drawing together articles from scholarly research and from the popular press.

Recently, DeSmogBlog launched its 100 Year Letter Project, inviting contributors to compose letters to our great great grandchildren, reflecting on how global warming is likely to affect the world they will inherit from us.

My letter published at DeSmogBlog is reproduced in full below.

* * *

Dear Great Great Grandchild,

In composing this letter to you, I am not sure what I find less likely: that I will have descendants a century hence, or that they will be remotely interested in anything I have to write. Still, one lives in hope!

Personally, I can not imagine my own great great grandfather as anything other than a grey-beard loon peering out from frayed and sepia-tinted photographs, but I am sure he must have had his salad days, as I have mine, even if you find that equally difficult to believe. Yet, if I may strike the pose of one of the pantheon of wise and aged relations, I should ask you to try to learn from our mistakes, rather than simply condemn us for them.

By this time, late 2007, it has become clear to my generation that we squandered earlier opportunities to avert the calamities of climate change, and we can now only try to mitigate its worst effects, in the hopes that you will inherit a world to which you have a fighting chance of adapting.

I suspect that in the face of our "too little, too late", you will want to know how we could have shirked our responsibilities to you for so long, and so disastrously

No, we do not have the excuse of ignorance; we knew the consequences of our actions, even if many of us did everything possible to delude ourselves with fantasy and politically glamorous lies. But equally, we were not indifferent to the world we would leave you, and all of us certainly wanted the best for you. We were, perhaps, simply weak willed.

We knew that something had to be done, but it is a long journey from "something must be done" to "I must do something", a journey that proved too arduous for too many of us.

Our family has a long and occasionally chequered history, but we have always held that each of us is nothing if not a living memorial to the men and women who came before us, and that if we are to be deserving heirs to the sacrifices of our ancestors, we must be worthy stewards of the world to our descendents. I hope you will be able to forgive us for not doing better by you.

Perhaps, if only through leaving behind the cautionary tale of our age, our gift to you is to inspire you to be better than we were, as we have tried, howsoever unevenly, to be better than our common forebears.

Good luck with it all. We wait for you in the next world, and you can be sure that we could not possibly offer you any rebuke for your care of this one!

With much affection,
Your Great Great Grandfather,





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