Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Saudi Passports

I like to read the Arab News occasionally, one can frequently find the most interesting little tidbits. While this is where the Saudi government tries to put its best possible face forward for the western world, fascinating insights into Saudi affairs nevertheless slip through.

Like this item, where they say:
Saudi passports cannot be used as a means of identification in the Kingdom, Interior Minister Prince Naif said here yesterday.
He said Saudi passports are sometimes issued to non-Saudis. The reason why they were given Saudi passports was to ease their travel abroad. But in the Kingdom, the proper means of identification is the iqama or the temporary card issued by the Passports Department, Prince Naif said.

Fascinating, that. A country doesn't accept its own passports as identification. I wonder what they'd say if we didn't recognize them either. After all, if the Saudis say they're not adequate to identify Saudi citizens, I'm inclined to accept their judgement on the matter.

And then there's this:
Meanwhile in Jeddah, a family from Pakistan have been stripped of their Saudi citizenship because the father was "involved in sorcery", a local newspaper reported.

The man had been sentenced to four years in prison.

The entire family were arrested at the end of Ramadan and were kept in the deportation jail in Madinah until their case was transferred.

Well, I guess if the father is involved in sorcery, one does have reasonable doubts about the rest of his family. Can't be too careful these days.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Three cheers for the Supreme Court

Reluctantly, I'm sure, but they've decided that parliament has a role to play in parliamentary democracy and refused to strike down the marijuana law. Excellent for them.

Of course pot prohibition is a stupid public policy and should be repealed immediately. But the courts are not our philosopher kings, empowered to correct public policy errors because they feel our elected representatives are insufficiently enlightened, much as they have been behaving so lately. Limiting themselves to the word of law is something much to be commended, rare as that is these days.

I checked the charter of rights, and sure enough, I could not find the right to get stoned in it.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Poor Tyler Cowen

Spare a thought for poor Tyler Cowen.
I've been spending my last four days locked in a UNESCO room debating cultural diversity with a French diplomat and a Quebecois lawyer, as well as with some African intellectuals.

Sounds like one of my neighbourhood gatherings. A collection of diplomats, international development do-gooders, civil servants and immigrants from France. I feel his pain. I have succeeded in not shooting anyone so far, and hope he restrains himself.
The French and Canadian parties have built an intellectual alliance. This requires them to cover up their fundamental differences on the proper level for recognizing diversity. Many French wish to cement French culture on the international scene while suppressing diversity at home. Much of French history consists of centralizing tendencies, whether it be language, religion, or administrative law. Just consider Chirac's recent decision to ban Islamic headscarves in schools. The French Canadians, of course, want strong assurances of regional diversity within Canada. This is the exact opposite of the French method.

Sort of, but not quite. Trudeaupia is probably not comprehensible to an American. It's a power struggle between statist, socialist politicians who try to draw power into Ottawa with statist, socialist politicians in Quebec who think the centre of power should be in Quebec City. They disagree on nothing much of substance, other than who should be in control the statist power. Diversity means bringing token ethnics into their intellectual tent, not a diversity of ideas. Only Albertans and a few of us fringe lunatics in Quebec think less state control would be a good thing.
I believe that the French/French-Canadian intellectual alliance on this issue will collapse in the long run, once talk of diversity has to be translated into concrete proposals. Anti-Americanism is not enough to bind a coalition together. The two parties wish to fight for film quotas, and the so-called "cultural exception."

Don't try to understand it, you'll just go insane. Our governments fund multicultural Cancon claptrap that no one watches. The vast majority of the people watch American television and movies. We elect governments that introduce restrictions on American satellite television, then flock to businesses that illegally bring it in. Why do we do this? Dunno. Why did Strom Thurmond campaign to segregate himself from his daughter? Some things cannot be explained.
But as it stands, both the French and French-Canadian views are allied by a great suspicion of American culture and of Hollywood in particular. I was quite surprised to hear The Lord of the Rings movies used as an example of how cinema reflects an American point of view. Of course the director Peter Jackson is a New Zealander. The author Tolkien was a Brit, and his stories drew on a wide range of influences, many of them Nordic. Most of the characters in the movie are not even human beings. How can this possibly be said to represent American culture in any way that is prejudicial to the Europeans?

Anti-Americanism is not rational. Some people simply believe the world in its natural state would be a garden of Eden. Where it differs from a garden of Eden is the influence of crass American culture and capitalism.
Polly Toynbee idiotically succumbs to one of those Nigerian scams and who does she blame?
We point fingers at Nigeria, this richest and best-educated country in Africa that should be a mighty power had it not been so catastrophically misgoverned, with legendary corruption. Yet what kind of global honesty is promoted, what model of good capitalism and good government?...The image of capitalism now being spread about the world is cowboy stuff: little gleaned from America extols the virtue of regulation, restraint and control. We reap from the third world what we sow: if some Nigerians learned lessons in capitalism from global oil companies that helped corrupt and despoil that land, it is hardly surpising they absorbed some of the Texan oil values that now rule the White House.

Well, what can one say about that? She gets scammed by a Nigerian and it's George Bush's fault. You literally cannot argue with logic like that.

I despair for the future of international cultural cooperation. America, France, and Canada have far more in common than their points of difference.

That is certainly true about Canada. Less so of France, where the anti-Americanism has a rather creepy conformity to it. At least in Canada there is some opposition, though for now Canadians are content to elect and be governed by intellectual fellow travellers of the French.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

The weighty Issues of Headscarves

As noted in Le Monde Jacques Chiraq has solemnly weighed in on the need for a law restricting (Muslim) headscarves in schools, colleges and other public buildings.
"En conscience, j'estime que le port de tenues ou de signes qui manifestent ostensiblement l'appartenance religieuse doit être proscrit dans les écoles, les collèges et les lycées publics", a déclaré le chef de l'Etat

I've heard the arguments that some girls are subjected to intimidation and I don't dismiss out of hand the idea that this might be a reasonable response in some neighbourhoods. But I marvel at the idea that an issue like school dress in France is dealt with by the President of the Republic.

If such problems were to develop here in Quebec, even, I can't really imagine the issue would reach the Premier of the province, let alone the Prime Minister of Canada. I could imagine a certain neighbourhood in Montreal might have a problem with an ethnic gang and their specific dress. Perhaps it would be reasonable to experiment with a dress code within the school board to see if that mitigates the problem somewhat. I'm far from convinced that it would be an effective response, but I'd be open to the argument. But surely what might be appropriate for a particular downtown neighbourhood of Montreal is hardly necessary to implement in Gatineau or Quebec City, and never mind Saskatoon.

France is a big country (population 60 million) with a huge variety of problems. It seems hard to believe the issue couldn't be handled within cities or regions, but rises to the desk of the President of the Republic, resulting in an edict that applies equally from Paris and Marseille to little villages in the Alps. I think it says something about the lack of flexibility in the French political system that such a minor, superficial and largely symbolic issue can consume the body politic at the national level.

Personally, I would endorse a school choice system. Let the parents and school administrators set their own rules school by school, and allow parents to choose the school that either allows or bans religious wear as they see fit. I fail to see the need for the President's involvement.

And not just school dress, but seeing a doctor in the hospital:
"Il faut rappeler les règles élémentaires du vivre ensemble, a estimé M. Chirac. Je pense à l'hôpital, où rien ne saurait justifier qu'un patient refuse, par principe, de se faire soigner par un médecin de l'autre sexe." "Il faudra que la loi vienne consacrer cette règle pour tous les malades qui s'adressent au service public", a-t-il ajouté.

Surely a woman could choose to see a female gynecologist without incurring the wrath of the President, Monsieur? Can't French individuals and their doctors work such issues out among themselves without a decree from the state? Apparently not.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Idiot du Jour - Irwin Cotler

Irwin Cotler, whoever he is, is apparently Canada's Minister of Justice now. Fittingly, representing Pierre Trudeau's old riding of Mont Royal he has quickly become the perfect Trudeaupian idiot, if today's National Post is correct.

I don't have a link, but I have the primitive crushed pulp smeared with ink version before me, and reporter Janice Tibbets writes in today's National Post regarding the trial of Saddam Hussein:
Mr. Cotler says he supports a process that would blend an international war crimes tribunal such as the one in The Hague and Iraq's U.S.-backed war crimes tribunal, which was created last week.
The problem in going with the Iraqi tribunal alone is that it was not established with the help of the United Nations.

Well. Irwin Cotler says the United Nations is needed to give the tribunal legitimacy.

Irwin Cotler is an idiot. He's not just any idiot, he's a Jewish idiot. And not just any Jewish idiot, he's a Jewish idiot who witnessed firsthand how the United Nations turned a conference against racism into the anti-Semitic hatefest at Durban. He came away shocked and appalled, and wrote an article about it.
I first greeted the announcement of the WCAR with anticipation. It was to be the first international human rights conference of the 21st Century, with anti-racism as its basic theme. However, what happened at Durban was truly Orwellian: a Conference against Racism became a Conference of Racism against Jews.

Why, yes, it did, Mr. Cotler.
But if September 11th overshadowed Durban, Durban foreshadowed September 11th. It was not only a wake-up call for the Jewish community, but it should be seen as a wake-up call for the World Community. It tells us something not only about the state of Israel and world Jewry among the nations, but the state of the world community inhabited by Israel and world Jewry.

It also tells us something about the United Nations, Mr. Cotler. It tells us it's infested with tyrannies, terrorist apologists, and Jew hatred. A strange place to look if it's legitimacy you're looking for.
in December 2001, the contracting parties of the Geneva Convention convened for the first time to criticize Israel. This was the only time in 52 years that any nation was indicted. Similarly the UN Commission on Human Rights has singled out Israel for discriminatory indictment while granting the real human rights violators exculpatory immunity.

Indeed. This is what happens when you entrust Human Rights bodies to the United Nations. They put Libya in charge and howl at Israel and the United States, while ignoring "real human rights violators", like, for example, Saddam Hussein.
Put Saddam on trial in front of the Kurds, Shiites and others he massacred and you're likely to get something approaching justice. Put the United Nations in charge and Saddam is liable to face a Syrian judge with a Libyan prosecutor. Imagine asking the Syrian representative - what is an appropriate punishment for murderous Ba'athist tyrants?

Uh - sentence him to a villa in the south of France? Or appoint him to the Human Rights commission to take some of the load off of Ghaddafi?

Somehow I don't see how getting sitting Ba'athist tyrants involved to judge deposed Ba'athist tyrants adds legitimacy to the court. Quite the opposite, it debases it.

What is it about Trudeaupian idiots that continue to worship such a debased institution? It's one thing to say the world's a messy place and we need some place to try to coexist with these deranged regimes. It's quite another to say the actions of legitimate, democratically elected governments aren't legitimate unless they are endorsed by a collection of tyrannies, despots, kleptocrats and their appeasers.

But if Mr. Cotler can actually be a delegate to the hatefest at Durban and not learn anything, I suspect he is quite impervious to any reason. Like many Trudeaupian positions, unquestioning attachment to the United Nations is an article of faith, not a position arrived at through rational thought. Utopian ideas quite detached from the reality of their implemention is the rule, rather than the exception.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

A Worsening Quagmire in Canada

If this news in the Telegraph turns out to be true, and the September 11 attacks are conclusively tied back to Iraq, Canadian Liberals and their pro-Saddam anti-American fellow travellers might want to start preparing their own holes in the ground in Shawinigan.

But I doubt they will have the decency to do that. Those who prided themselves on their unwillingness and inability to confront Saddam will no doubt continue to nag give their advice on how he should be treated.

My advice to them would be that this is an excellent time for them to SHUT THE F*** UP. The Americans are in no mood to be told Saddam should be handed over to an international court, or receive any complaints on how they are treating him. They've been proudly uninvolved in deposing and capturing him, they should just shut up now. The more evidence that now comes out about all his crimes the worse Canada's going to look.

Canada's sitting on the sidelines has been a long, shameful affair. If the concrete evidence tying Saddam to WMD or Al-Qaeda was lacking, his ties to almost every other terrorist group in the region were long undeniable.

Update: I listened to Foreign Minister Bill Graham's news conference and am relieved to hear he didn't say anything too stupid. For once he managed to refrain from lecturing the Americans, and was simply happy the dictator was captured. That's progress, at least.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Adieu Sheila Copps

The Trudeaupian state does not generally operate on explicit corruption, that's a little too third world-ish. Instead it operates on an informal system of gentleman's agreements. Grants are arranged for the Lib-friendly companies with the understanding that the favour will be returned at the appropriate time.

Since Sheila has sent government grants to directors of lesbian porn films like Bubbles Galore perhaps we'll see her displaying some as yet undiscovered talents as the favour is returned. A chance to put her mouth where our money was, so to speak.

Alas, from Polyscopique we learn Sheila Copps is frigid. Ah, well.

If this doesn't work out I'm sure she'll find a soft landing somewhere else.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Gas shortages in Iraq

Andrew Sullivan asks "after six months, why are there still gas lines in Iraq?".

A rather bizarre question for a conservative to ask. The answer, of course, is the same reason there were lines for gas in the U.S. when Nixon was president - price controls. Gas costs about 4 cents a gallon at the state-owned pumps which are supplied by the state-owned refineries from the state-owned oil fields. Back in Saddam's day smuggling and black marketeers could be dealt with, so to speak. Now people make a living diverting the entire supply onto the black market and selling it at market prices.

Nothing short of a totalitarian crackdown can prevent lineups at a gas station selling gas for 4 cents a gallon. Try it Washington, for example, and see how long the lines will be.
The pot gets stirred

The mainstream media in Canada reminds me of the Kremlinoligists of Soviet times. The latest purge happens amid much speculation of the cosmic significance of it all. Great speculation emerges about who will get shuffled into the key role as Minister of State responsible for delivering Boondoggles to the Boondocks. I'll save you the trouble and tell you what it means.

It means nothing.

The Trudeaupian state is a beast quite beyond the individuals who think they run it. Whenever a certain part of it gets sufficiently diseased those tentacles are trimmed off and new ones grow in their place. Many years ago we had progams called Scientific Research Tax Credits (SRTCs), Canadian Home Insulation Program (CHIP) and the National Energy Program (NEP). They were all thoroughly discredited through scandal, inefficiency, and grotesque unintended consequences. CHIP subsidized many shady outfits to fill houses full of substandard chemical-leaking Urea Formaldehyde insulation, for example. All of them involved delivering taxpayer booty to the assortment of Lib-friendly businesses who knew how to work their way through the byzantine rules, while suffocating the others under punishing regulation, quotas and taxes. Over time these programs all became sufficiently discredited that they were cut off to save the beast.

Now we have Technology Partnerships Canada, Home Energy Efficiency Retrofit Grants, and of course, Kyoto. Everything old is repackaged with fresh new logos, sold by fresh new faces, and has a fresh new rationalization for their existence and usually in duplicate or triplicate overlapping, unaccountable, impenetrable programs. Only the result is the same - scandals and boondoggles, repeated each time with renewed energy and vigor.

When it's the people who are discredited by scandal, they get packed off as ambassador to Denmark or put in charge of some obscure agency or other. Bureaucracies get renamed and repackaged rather than sent to Denmark. But each time the Trudeaupian state is bigger, more intrusive, more entwined in the economy and individuals' lives.

Martin claims he's going to "change the way government works", starting with a "New Deal" for cities. Your local municipal government was one of the few areas in Canada that was not entirely beholden to the federal Liberals. Before, you could debate whether the city budget should be spent on your neighbourhood library or new sidewalks as a purely local affair. Now it will be entangled in a federal quagmire, as city budgets will become dependent on federal funding programs. Make sure your mayor is plugged into the Martin PMO or else watch the funding go to the mayor who is.

So they've thrown some Liberals into a pot, given it a stir, and stuck them into renamed, rearranged ministries. Yawn. Wake me up when something new happens.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Senator Damian Penny?

A little reward from the CBC and Damian's attitude to the state broadcaster softens. Perhaps a little more sucking up to Chretien before the evening's out and he'll get a seat in the Senate.

Such is life in a Trudeapian state. Even the bloggers get Liberal handouts.
First Amendment and Gag Laws

In America the first amendment is remarkably brief and clear:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

It seems reasonably straightforward that this clause is designed to restrict Congress from passing laws to restrict speech, especially as regards people peaceably assembling, pooling resources and petitioning government (either for or against a law). It does not say the Dixie Chicks shall not be subjected to criticism for saying something stupid upon their return from London. Nor does it say anything about lap dancing or committing buggery. It says "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech".

So how can a court possibly uphold a law that restricts the ability of people to advertise during campaings, as they just did? It boggles the mind.

Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms is equally clear:
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
a) freedom of conscience and religion;
b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
d) freedom of association.

Same freedoms. Assembly, association, opinion and expression, including the press and other media of communication. Like, say, television ads.

Yet, Canada, too, keeps passing these gag laws, and charging the National Citizen's Coalition under them. So far, Canada's courts keep striking the laws down (seven times so far), but we should be worried about the US example now. Canada's Supreme Court will be fully aware of this latest decision in the US. While the courts in Canada have consistently struck down these stupid laws in the past, we have real reason to fear they may now reverse themselves. The NCC will be back in court in January, and we can only wish them well.
The price of posturing

The Americans have excluded Canadian companies from bidding on Iraq reconstruction contracts. Understandably, they think Canada didn't support the war against Saddam and are limiting the participation to those countries that did. An understandable mistake, but Canada contributed far more than many of the countries that were on the list like Afghanistan, Rwanda, Nicaragua.

Canada had troops participating in the invasion through exchanges with the American and British Armies. Canada's warships were in the Gulf escorting the ships and supplies through the Gulf to Kuwait and the Marine landing on the Iraqi beaches on the Faw Peninsula. Had the Iraqis loaded up any speedboats with explosives there's an excellent chance it would have come to Canada's ships to perform the interdiction. And Canada has contributed a couple of hundred million to the reconstruction.

But what Canada has also done is participate in the posturing with the French. So we've committed troops and money to an operation we rhetorically don't support, while pissing off our closest ally in the process. Quite a diplomatic accomplishment.
I gave to the taxman

From Laurent at Polyscopique, we learn that the Quebecois donate the least to charity in Canada, giving just over half the national average. I don't have the reference, but I understand Canadians give about half what their American counterparts give. Naturally, in Quebec especially we have the government to be our conscience for us.

As David Warren has said, as long as you have the right progressive opinions your conscience is clear.

Quebec unions are holding a day of protest against subcontracting (among other grievances). Sad that we're happy to subcontract charitable activity to the government.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Adieu, Monsieur Brison

So Scott Bryson has decided that resistance is futile and joined the Borg, I mean the Liberals. Scott Brison in response to the Liberals last flurry of pork budget:
This budget is a return to the 1970s Liberal free-spending habits that have imperiled Canada's economic prosperity. Instead of a vision for the future, the government is reverting to a nostalgia for the past. ...It is simply not sustainable and we are imperilling the future of the country. It is like the sixties and the seventies all over again. There are anti-war protesters in the streets, there is talk in the House and elsewhere about the idea of decriminalizing marijuana, and there is a free-spending Liberal government in Ottawa again. The Prime Minister must be having a flashback.

The Prime Minister should have warned his finance minister not to make the same mistakes that he made when he was the finance minister in the 1970s and to simply say no to this Liberal waste and largesse. There was probably not one single Liberal backbencher who did not get something in this budget.

I guess he was offered a nice position giving him the opportunity to gorge on a little corner of his own Liberal waste and largesse. It's no doubt easier to say no to someone else's waste and largesse than when it's offered to you. Whatever, dude.

Enjoy your position as junior assistant to the chairman of the committee of Eastern Opportunity, Industry Clusters, Pork and Sensitivity to Transgendered Aboriginal Spirituality or wherever you land.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Uptown Theater Collapse

In response to the theater collapse in downtown Toronto, the Ontario government has already announced its response:
In the wake of the accident, the Ontario government announced it will hire at least 25 additional workplace safety inspectors.

Without knowing anything about why the accident happened, they respond immediately, reflexively with more inspectors. I work in software development. Would there be fewer software bugs if we had government software inspectors standing over us, examining our work? Would surgeons make fewer errors if we had government surgeon inspectors looking over their shoulders?

The company, Priestly Demolition has been in business for more than thirty years, and has been hired by many municipal governments and provincial ministries to do demolition work. Here is a partial list of their clients from their Web site:
City of Barrie, City of Mississauga
City of Toronto, City of Vaughan
Management Board Secretariat, Metro Toronto Public Works
Ministry of Transportation, Ontario Hydro
Public Works Canada, Regional Municipality of York
Town of Aurora, Town of Halton Hills
Town of Markham, Town of Newmarket
Town of Oakville

This is one of the companies they hire when they need demolition work done. What will a government inspector have to say to a company that is specialized in the business, and is hired by the government to do its work?

Recall the case of the True North II, a glass-bottomed boat that passed more than two dozen inspections, including one less than thirty days before it sank. The warm, comforting embrace of Big Brother may make bureaucrats feel better, but in the real world is likely to have little effect on real accident rates.

Clearly a tragic accident happened, but at this point there's nothing to suggest a government inspector would have had them do anything different. For all we know they were either recently inspected, or would have found nothing amiss in any case, as with the True North II.

If the government wishes to review its role in the building collapse, they should ask themselves why the building was being demolished in the first place. The government ordered Famous Players to make the 70 year old theater wheelchair accessible. That being too expensive, the company decided to close it and sell the property instead, resulting in its demolition. Demolished theaters being no more wheelchair accessible than ones with stairs, perhaps the government could have just left this building alone as a heritage theater building? There are, after all, no shortage of wheelchair-accessible theaters in the downtown Toronto area.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

David Warren on Multiculturalism
Our Liberal Party discovered that by importing various exotic immigrant groups, and discouraging them from assimilating, they could create dependants -- pools from which to harvest reliable Liberal votes.

The formula, once again, is, "We rule, and They" ... can do pretty much anything they want, so long as it is compatible with, "We rule". Master wouldn't dream of intervening unless something is done that might undermine his place at the top, in which case all this cultural relativism goes quickly through a window.

Go read the whole thing

I'm not against the immigration, it's the idea that they are actively encouraged to gather in identity-blocks and hooked up to a corrupting multiculturalism bureacracy that I'm against.

Bill Graham is an unbelievable idiot

I don't usually like to make politics personal, but Bill Graham, Canada's minister of Foreign Affairs is just such a collossal idiot one wonders how he is able to sit up and take nourishment.

Iran beats and kills one of our citizens in custody, and we do nothing but mumble some incoherent, vague disapproval.

Saudi Arabia frames Bill Sampson, tortures him and broadcasts the bogus confession on television. The quiet diplomacy of "soft power" ensues.

Syria imprisons and tortures a number of Canadian citizens, (not just Maher Arar). None of them have been charged with anything. Arar is eventually released. If Canada disaproves of Syria, it is very quiet about it, though less quiet about the U.S. sending Arar to Syria.

Israel arrests a suspected Hamas terrorist with a Canadian passport in Gaza. Ambassador answers questions on why he was arrested, including information on what he will be charged with.

NOW Bill Graham is upset and is going to get tough? No soft power for a democratic country defending itself from Hamas, no sirree. He publicly denounces Israel and announces he'll ream Israel's ambassador first thing Monday morning.

This idiot has got to go. I know there's a certain segment of their support base that really gets off on Israel-bashing, but this is really too much. Yes, this suspected terrorist deserves a fair trial. BUT HE WILL GET A FAIR TRIAL IN ISRAEL, unlike any of our citizens in any of the Arab tyrannies.


Friday, December 05, 2003

Happy Gamil Gharbi Day

I think our Heritage Minister should name December 6 Gamil Gharbi day in honour of multiculturalism. Gamil Gharbi has that nice ethnic sound that our Heritage ministry likes to celebrate in the honour of our modern, multicultural mosaic.

One really should not make light of this day. Gamil Gharbi is better known as Marc Lepine, the perpetrator of the Montreal Massacre, but he only took on that name at 18 years old.

He is the son of an Algerian Muslim immigrant, who immigrated with his misogynist attitudes intact and passed on to his son the violent, women-hating tendencies that are sadly so common in the Arab Muslim world. A sad byproduct of Trudeaupian multiculturalism is that little effort is made to rid immigrants of some of their less attractive cultural baggage. Indeed, it is rather gauche to point out that some other cultures have rather unattractive characteristics. So when the son of a woman-hating wife-beater goes out and murders 14 young women how do we react?

Make duck hunters register their shotguns, of course. And rifles.

Yes, the gun registry fiasco really should be labeled the Gamil Gharbi boondoggle. Being too culturally sensitive to look into the real root causes of this massacre, Liberals do what they do best. Create massive bureaucratic monuments to their own incompetence so that people see they care. Effectiveness is not the issue, highly visible demonstration of compassion is.

As Dr. Butler says on the Adam Smith blog:
I commented to one of our guests how hideous were the anti-terrorist concrete blocks that were now lined up outside the Treasury and Foreign Office buildings. The threat of truck bombs has been with us for years, and will not doubt continue: so could we not at least have permanent, nice-looking barriers that blend in with the Westminster architecture?

"You've completely misunderstood their purpose," said my friend, a shrewd and successful businessman. "They are not there to be effective. Or to blend in. They are there to be obvious. To show that we take terrorism seriously. The more in-your-face they are, the better."

Just so. He's not talking about the Gamil Gharbi Boondoggle, but it applies just as well. Annoying Saskatchewan duck hunters is the purpose, not a side effect of policies like this. If lots of people are demonstrating on Parliament Hill, why, that shows the Liberals are being tough on crime.

You might have noticed that gangsters are engaging in open gun battles in Toronto, and are not at all deterred by the fact they don't have their official papers from the Gamil Gharbi Boondoggle. That's because effort to deterring crime would, at a start, be focused on criminals, not duck hunters. But sweeping through Toronto neighbourhoods and getting tough with the gangs there would highlight a very uncomfortable truth. Many of the gangsters are illegal immigrants, and many have ties to organized crime in foreign countries such as Jamaica.

Toronto has an admirably low murder rate of 1.8 per 100,000 people. Jamaica's is 36. Many of Toronto's murders are related to - wait for it - Jamaican organized crime. At the risk of incurring the wrath of the hate crimes laws, I would suggest an effort to combat gun violence in Toronto would be better focused on rigid screening of immigrants from violence prone areas whether they are the middle east or West Indies. In addition to colourful folk dances and spicy cuisine, some cultures are also prone to import cultural traditions of wife beating, honour killings, organized crime, homophobia and intolerance of feminists, as Gamil Ghabi so emphatically demonstrated in Montreal.

But don’t expect the Heritage ministry to name December 6 Gamil Gharbi day. So we’ll have to settle for the futile gun registry he spawned the Gamil Gharbi Boondoggle.

Law enforcement at work

Many people who advocate this law or that regulation undoubtedly mean well. They are for good things and against bad things, and simply wish the law to reflect that, without really thinking through the logical consequences.

Yesterday, 69 year old granny Olga Friesen was put in jail. Her offense? Failing to completely clear her sidewalk.

She was taken into custody, led downstairs to be booked, frisked and have her black purse and all her money confiscated. Within 30 minutes, she was told she'd officially spent her day in jail and was released.

This has caused a bit of a media stir, the public not really liking the idea of throwing little old ladies into jail. But if you don't like the idea of throwing non-criminals into jail, why try to coerce good behaviour through the force of law in the first place? That's what law is, applying force through handcuffs and jail, rather than persuasion.

We have busybodies constantly advocating "ban this", "mandate that". We need to ask ourselves are we really prepared to throw people in jail for it? Or shoot them if they resist arrest? Last year western farmers went to jail for selling their own wheat, bypassing the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly. Lots of people have grey market satellite dishes, illicitly catching snippets of Fox News against the wishes of CRTC regulators. Should we lock 'em up? Or how about someone killing dandelions on his own property with an approved herbicide (but in violation of a municipal by-law)?

Believe it or not, it's possible to influence behaviour through mechanisms other than legal force. Perhaps we should consider them rather than locking up grannies and farmers.

This media stir has also demonstrated how we can fight back against the ever-expanding nanny state. Make 'em lock up a few grannies.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

George Bush - Passive Eco-terrorist

At least that's the reasoned assessment of Canada's largest newspaper. It's not as if there's any shortage of people who oppose the Kyoto protocol, for reasons scientific or economic. But the Toronto Star is demonstrating that living in the same world as George Bush is making them slowly lose hold of their last, tenuous grasp on sanity itself:

In refusing to participate in the Kyoto accord [...] U.S. President George Bush could reasonably be described as a passive eco-terrorist against the planet we all share.

It is kind of amusing watching the world's liberals self-destruct this way. Do they think inserting the word "reasonably" into insane, foaming-at-the-mouth rantings makes it so?

It is somewhat interesting that Russia was able to calmly debate the merits of the accord and assess it "without scientific foundation" and "economically restrictive". Russia, a tenous democracy at best, was able to hold a reasoned debate, calmly debunk all the hyperventilating hysterical nonsense that has been spewed and reject the accord. Yet Canada, a similarly large and cold country with a long tradition of democratic debate has allowed the debate to be hijacked by hysterical propaganda, such as labelling opponents eco-terrorists.

Almost everything the Russian economic advisor Andrei Illarionov has said applies equally to Canada. Read his entire briefing here for a complete and thorough deconstruction of the entire accord. The entire thing is worth reading but here are a few excerpts from the conclusions:

...So far the Kyoto Protocol does not have a scientific substantiation.
...That model of climate which is proposed, has many deficiencies and fails to accommodate many factors, and what has been presented so far lacks conviction.
...The Kyoto Protocol has significantly exaggerated the speed of the real increase in carbon dioxide emission especially in recent years.
...By its mechanism, the Kyoto Protocol is not effective, it cannot attain even the goals that it proclaims.
...The Kyoto Protocol is unacceptably expensive.
...The costs given in the calculations in this book are of course beyond the boundary of the reality.
...The Kyoto Protocol relies of course on technological illusions.

The US Senate's 97-0 vote against the protocol came to the same conclusions. That, my friends, is how democracy is supposed to work.

Rather than tackling any of these problems with reasoned responses, the Kyoto proponents in Canada and Europe have saturated the media with seemingly effective propanda and name-calling. But to what effect? It's not as if Canada or Europe have actually taken steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Canada signed the paper to temporarily bask in the praise of the green activists, and then did absolutely nothing that would suggest the commitments are serious. While pretending to accept the problem we've pretended to respond to it. Lots of hot air, signifying nothing.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

"Freedom for All, Privileges for None"

It's always fun and easy to mock the il-Liberal party of today by looking up their policies of the past. The quote above is none other than Sir Wilfred Laurier, Liberal Prime Minister back in the days when the Liberal party had its roots in classical liberal ideas. Sadly, they have now built a massive edifice of privileges for the connected and chosen ones. The labyrinth of ministries disgorgement of various and sundry pork defy description, but include Technology Partnership for fashionable technologies, regional economic development (building $5.3 million airports near the Desmarais family lodge), regulatory agencies to suppress competition, etc. And what did Sir Wilfred Laurier have to say about using the power of government to favour one class over the other?

I do not admit that there should be any antagonism between class and class. I do not admit that there should be any antagonism between the manufacturer and the farmer. The manufacturer is the best friend of the farmer, and the farmer is the best friend of the manufacturer. Let them walk hand in hand, let each profit by the trade of the other; but so far as we are concerned, for 14 years we have administered the government of this country on these lines, trying to do away with collisions between class and class trying to keep all abreast of one another keeping always in mind the motto: Freedom for all and privileges for none. That has been our policy and that policy we shall continue. There are men who believe that we are going to reckelssly ruin industry and capital. Capital is timid under all circumstances and the man who is at the head of affairs and the ministers who assist him, would not be worthy of the public confidence if they were not always careful to see that capital will be safe, whenever it is invested in any industry in this country.

I think I'd like to see a little more of Sir Wilfred Laurier, and a lot less of Trudeau in Canada today. Capital is anything but safe, useful only to the extent it can be taxed and fund their chosen boondoggles.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Welcome to Canada, Al-Jazeera

This article in the Globe and Mail says Al-Jazeera will soon be available in Canada, and I think they're probably right.

Even as they spew their anti-American, judeophobic rantings there will still be no legal way for Canadians to watch Fox News, nor is there any Canadian equivalent remotely similar to Fox News.

It is astounding, but Canadians tolerate a situation where the government licenses what we are allowed to watch. Why do we do this?

There's no technical obstacle to pointing a satellite dish at American satellites, it's just illegal. The Lib-friendly media companies stack the CRTC with ideologically compatible regulators who in turn keep out undesirable (read American) competition. Al-Jazeera's fine, that doesn't compete with the CBC or the Lib-friendly media companies. But Fox News? Goodness, no.

Technically speaking, one of the regulated Canadian cable or satellite services could apply to the CRTC to carry Fox News. But exposing Canadians to such subversive ideas would enrage the Trudeaupian establishment, so no one bothers. They have licenses to protect. No need to cause trouble unnecessarily.

It is long past time that we abolished such Big Brother nonsense. With the advent of digital transmission there's no more shortage of bandwidth than there is shortage of shelves in bookstores.

So welcome to Canada, Al-jazeera. I say let Canadians see it for what it is. The best antidote to someone spewing hate is to shine a light on it for all to see in all its ugliness.

And maybe someday our government will let us watch Fox news. But then we'd get exposed to dangerous ideas, like abolishing the CRTC or privatizing the CBC. So I won't hold my breath.

Democracy or Mob Rule?

Or why it's so hard to shrink the government, even when politicians are elected with a mandate to do so.

Ontario Premier Mike Harris had to put up with it. BC Premier Gordon Campbell had to put up with it. And now it is Quebec Premier Jean Charest's turn. I'm betting it will be worse in Quebec.

"It" is mobs of activists who didn't like the result of the election trying to obstruct the government from implementing their platform. Not liking the democratic verdict, they try to accomplish through intimidation what they failed to accomplish through the democratic process. I'm not impressed.

At (Speaker of the House) Bissonnet's office, they shredded and scattered papers and plastered stickers on walls. At the hospital, protesters carrying signs and wearing anti-Charest T-shirts made their way through the hospital lobby. Scuffles broke out with security guards. Montreal police were called but no arrests were made in either incident.

Sending an intimidating mob to a children's hospital is a poor way to gain my sympathy.

This is a big challenge for those of us who would like a smaller, less intrusive government. Charest's reform plans are very mild, yet they trigger a response like this. The type of reform I would like to see in Quebec would undoubtedly spark riots by these union goons.

No one will have the courage to truly take on these union goons short of a full-fledged fiscal crisis. Much easier to just appease them and pass the costs on to the taxpaying public.

Monday, December 01, 2003

David Suzuki against Kyoto

He's not really against Kyoto, of course. He has, however, written a column illustrating why it is so breathtakingly stupid in practice. Whatever merits Kyoto may have in an abstract, theoretical world the real test of any government program is in its implementation. If one grants the good intentions of Kyoto proponents, the result of its implementation will be to redirect harmful, polluting, energy-intensive industries to benign renewable energy-driven green industries in harmony with nature, saving the earth from a climactic cataclysm in the process. Okay.

As with so many things born in wishful thinking and good intentions, the bureaucracies to implement them quickly become unmoored from their foundations and drift off into the real world of corruption, malice and perverse unintended consequences.

Mr. Suzuki is shocked, shocked to find out that Canada’s first investment in Kyoto-related carbon credits is a bizarre junk science boondoggle to produce pig iron in Brazil’s rain forest. I’m not shocked. Mildly surprised to see boondoggles like this come to light before the treaty is even in effect, sure. Slightly surprised to see such nonsense being exposed by Suzuki, who, after all, has done more than anyone else in the country to infest our bureaucracies with junk science and manufactured environmental demagoguery. But you have to be really deluded to think the result of paying developing countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for us could result in anything else.

If cutting emissions in developed countries is too hard, how could we possibly expect less developed countries to do it when their per-capita emissions are orders of magnitude less? Not to mention the fact that most of these countries are less developed because they suffer from corruption, crony capitalism and a poorly functioning rule of law. Distributing billions to cut greenhouse gas emissions will inevitably attract charlatans, swindles, corruption and junk science boondoggles like this. If you think Enron was creative in accounting for its cash flow, just imagine what a banana republic can do with a cash-for-carbon-credits program.

We should thank David Suzuki for pointing out where this program is going. It is painful for a mother to acknowledge her baby is ugly, but that’s exactly what Suzuki has done in this column. We can expect this multiplied by many thousands of times if Kyoto is fully implemented.

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