March 11, 2007

 

Say good-bye to the CWB...

From: The Wall Street Journal

Canada's Grain Growers Chafe
Wheat Board Tensions Stir Up Issues of Money And Self-Determination
By: DOUGLAS BELKIN
March 8, 2007; Page A8

Canada's barley farmers, long insulated from the vagaries of global trade by the government-backed Canadian Wheat Board, will vote next week on whether to break free.

Some farmers view the 72-year-old board, which buys and sells their product on the world market, as inefficient. If the barley farmers are allowed to bolt, wheat farmers could follow, marking the biggest change in Canada's huge grain business in three generations.

Farmers like Doug McBain, who has harvested barley on 1,500 acres of high country prairie all his life, are among those agitating to leave. As global grain prices have climbed in recent years, the debate has grown more contentious. "Where you stand has almost become like a religion," says Mr. McBain, 49 years old. "What I say is, if you can't compete on your own, get out of the market, but don't try and tell me what to do."

Last year Mr. McBain was offered $4.25 a bushel from a Chinese distributor for his malt barley. He was legally prohibited from selling it himself, and instead was required to accept $3.25 from the Wheat Board, which hadn't sold at the top of the market. He says he has friends who would like to grow organic barley but, because they couldn't sell it for the premium it could command, they have little incentive to try.

In recent weeks, long-simmering tensions between backers and opponents of the 15-member board have reached a boil. Some 80,000 barley farmers have until March 13 to cast their advisory vote on one of three options: ditch the board and sell their grain themselves, preserve the status quo, or remain under the board with the provision that they can opt out. Polls show less than one-third of farmers want to leave things as they stand.

Barley represents about 10% of the wheat board's business, but the vote is seen as a bellwether for the nation's massive wheat market.

At the heart of the fight are issues of land rights, self-determination and money. Ultimately at stake is the system through which 55% of the world's durum wheat and 25% of its malting barley will be sold. U.S. grain companies are watching the struggle because they stand to benefit from a more accessible market.

In 1935, Canada created the wheat board to insure loans to farmer's cooperatives during the Great Depression. About 90% of the country's wheat and barley for domestic human consumption and export is sold through the board. The majority of that harvest is pooled and farmers receive an averaged price.

For the farmer, that means the lows in the market are generally avoided - but so are the highs, and whether that has meant an overall benefit to the farmer has become a contested issue.

In the mid-1990s farmers began to challenge what they came to see as over-regulation. Some protested the board by illegally trucking their harvest to the U.S. and selling for better prices. Dozens ended up in jail. For farmers who want out of the wheat board, which now sells about $4 billion of grain a year, those protesters are seen as freedom fighters. To others, they are traitors.

"If you make a decision on your farm that only affects you, you get to make it," says Kyle Korneychuk, a wheat board director and Saskatchewan farmer who favors maintaining the board's monopoly. "But if you're going to do something that affects all the farmers in Canada ... you're going to get pushed back."

The board today is more crucial than ever, says Mr. Korneychuk, as a half-dozen multinational agricultural companies like Archer Daniels Midland Inc. and Cargill Inc. control the lion's share of the global grain market.

"We're aware [of the controversy] but we're not lying awake dreaming about it or scheming around it," Cargill spokesman Robert Meijer said. "Once they make a decision we will work with them, whether that be with the board or without the board."

Last year, Canada's Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper replaced four of the five government-appointed members of the board. In their place he selected directors who want to break the board's monopoly.

"The ultimate aim is to have a strong, viable, yet voluntary wheat board," said Conrad Bellehumeur, spokesman for Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl. "We want to remove the wheat-board monopoly and offer farmers the freedom to choose how they market their product."

Mr. Korneychuk says that if the board became optional, it would lose effectiveness and limp along until it disappears in a few years.

To that, Mr. McBain says good riddance. His broad stretch of prairie at the feet of the Rocky Mountains has been painstakingly cultivated by his family since his grandfather immigrated from Scotland 100 years ago. Every slab of timber in the pair of red barns and each furrow in the soil was set in place by a McBain. Today, the farmer has little patience for anyone telling him what to do or how to do it.

Mr. McBain also says board regulation has stymied local investment. He argues that were it not for the board, hundreds of millions of dollars would have been invested in Canada instead of migrating to the U.S.

Mr. Korneychuk says tens of thousands of farmers have already left their land because they couldn't compete with subsidized U.S. farmers or the cheap labor available in Eastern Europe. As fixed costs for farmers continue to rise and competition tightens, he predicts it will only get worse. In the meantime, the board has reformed itself and now offers farmers a broader array of options to sell their crop than they had a decade ago.

After the March 13 vote, the debate over whether barley farmers remain under the wheat board will be taken up by the federal government, which appears headed toward an election this spring. Should the Conservatives gain a majority in Parliament, Mr. Bellehumeur, the agriculture ministry spokesman, said the board will be opened up. The battle over wheat is likely to follow. "The ultimate goal is to remove the monopoly," he said.

Mr. McBain said he is ready. "I don't need a baby sitter."

Copyright 2007 - The Wall Street Journal

 

Some distinctly non-left ideas are being discussed in Quebec... The ADQ has everyone on alert!

From: The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

ADQ wants to scrap school boards
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/quebecvotes2007/story/2007/02/26/qc-dumonteducation20070226.html

Last Updated: Monday, February 26, 2007 1:37 PM ET

ADQ Leader Mario Dumont said if elected premier he'd abolish school boards and reinvest the savings to streamline and improve Quebec's education system.

The province could pump up to $150 million into schools if it eliminated administrative boards, Dumont said on Monday during a campaign stop in Saint-Nazaire, in the Saguenay.

Dumont said school boards are bloated and suck up education dollars that could be used in the classroom. "The administrative costs are going up at a much bigger pace than the investment in the children, in the classes," said the ADQ leader.

Whatever school boards now accomplish could be assigned elsewhere, Dumont explained. School boards currently handle tasks such as payroll that could easily be outsourced to countries such as India, where labour costs are low.

Municipal governments could take over responsibilities such as maintaining schools grounds and snow removal. And regional education directors could assume the tasks of buying educational materials and hiring staff, Dumont said.

An ADQ government would also put an end to school taxes, and introduce new taxation powers for municipalities to generate revenue they'll need to pay for increased responsibilities under a reformed education system.

The ADQ's proposed education reform would cut administrative costs, leaving more for the classroom, and that could have a positive influence on the province's dropout rate, the ADQ leader said.

Dumont cited Finland as a success story, where dropout rates diminished after the Scandinavian country eliminated one level of school administration.

*****

Charest attacks ADQ and parries too
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/quebecvotes2007/story/2007/03/06/adq-charest.html

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 6, 2007 7:17 PM ET

On his first campaign visit to the Outaouais, Liberal Leader Jean Charest defended comments about health care made by one of his own candidates and repeatedly attacked the Action Démocratique du Québec.

Charest, the first Quebec party leader to visit the region, arrived Monday evening and attended several events, including a Tuesday morning funding announcement for Rapibus, a regional transit project involving fast buses in dedicated lanes.

Part of his time was spent trying to defend the controversial comments of Liberal candidate Charlotte L'Écuyer, who is running in Pontiac, a riding that includes Gatineau's Aylmer sector, where she won a seat in 2003.

L'Écuyer said several days ago that not all Quebecers need a family doctor and she herself does not have one.

Gatineau is a region where thousands of people do not have a family doctor, and the Liberal party has pushed improved access to health care as its main campaign promise.

But Charest defended his candidate, insisting that what L'Écuyer meant to say was that each person must have access to a family doctor.

He said that if elected, the Liberal party will help provide 1,500 more doctors and 2,000 more nurses, boost funding for the province's emergency wards and ensure family physicians are easier to find for "families with children, older people and people who are vulnerable."

Attack on the ADQ

Charest did not spend all his time on the defensive - at a Monday night Liberal rally, he also attacked ADQ Leader Mario Dumont and his party, which has been gaining in the polls.

Charest barely mentioned the party's longtime main rival, the Parti Québécois, even though PQ supporters from the Quebec Federation of Labour protested outside the rally, delaying its start.

Charest accused Dumont of having a hidden agenda.

He challenged Dumont to be specific about the ADQ's fiscally conservative policies."Let him give you the list of everything he's going to get rid of," he told party supporters.

Charest also said ADQ candidate Jean-François Plante, who is running in the riding of Deux Montagnes, should pull out of the election for trivializing the École Polytechnique massacre on his website.

In an internet podcast that aired in December, Plante said he refused to wear a white ribbon to commemorate the tragedy, but he later apologized.

Parti Québécois Leader André Boisclair echoed Charest's condemnation of Plante's attitude towards the Montreal massacre.

"I knew some people that were hit by the events at Polytechnique, and let me tell you, I was shocked to hear these kinds of words," Boisclair said Tuesday, adding that the comments are further example of the ADQ's inexperience.

"There's no team behind Mario Dumont. He's alone. His candidates have no experience in politics. Most of them have no experience in government."

Charest also accused ADQ president Gilles Taillon of planning to shut down the province's employment and welfare agency, Emploi Québec, and accused the party of parachuting into Gatineau a candidate who does not live in the riding, Martin Otis.

Copyright 2007 - The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

 

Questions that need to be asked...

From: The Wall Street Journal

Islam's Other Radicals
By: BRET STEPHENS
March 6, 2007; Page A18

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - At this landmark Summit on Secular Islam, there are no "moderate" Muslims.

There are ex-Muslims: People like Ibn Warraq, author of "Why I Am Not a Muslim," who doesn't want an Islamic Reformation so much as he does a Muslim Enlightenment. There are ex-jihadists: people like Tawfik Hamid, who, as a young medical student in Cairo, briefly enlisted in the Gamaa Islamiya terrorist group and who remembers being preached to by a mesmerizing doctor named Ayman al-Zawahiri.

There are Muslim runaways: People like Afshin Ellian, who in 1983 fled Iran - and the threat of execution - on camelback and is now a professor of law at the University of Leiden in Holland. (Now threatened by European jihadists, he lives with round-the-clock police protection.) There are experts on Islamic law: People like Hasan Mahmoud, a native Bangladeshi who, as director of Shariah at the Muslim Canadian Congress, was instrumental in overturning Ontario's once-legal Shariah court last year.

There are even a few practicing Muslims here, such as Canadian author Irshad Manji. Ms. Manji, whose documentary "Faith Without Fear" airs on PBS next month, describes herself as a "radical traditionalist" and draws a sharp distinction between Muslim moderates and reformers: "Moderate Muslims denounce terror that's committed in the name of Islam but they deny that religion has anything to do with it," she says. "Reform-minded Muslims denounce terror that's committed in the name of Islam and acknowledge that our religion is used to inspire it."

The difference is not trivial. For more than five years, the Bush administration has been attempting to enlist the support of the so-called moderates in the war on terror - its definition of "moderate" being remarkably elastic, to put it charitably. To take one example, administration emissary Karen Hughes has "reached out" to such figures as Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, head of al-Azhar theological university in Cairo, with whom she had a "wonderful meeting" in September 2005.

Sheikh Tantawi, adept at talking out of both sides of his mouth, had earlier approved a fatwa calling on the Iraqi people to "defend itself, its land, and its homeland [against the U.S. invasion] with all means of defense at its disposal, because it is a jihad that is permitted by Islamic law. ...The gates of jihad are open until the Day of Judgment, and he who denies this is an infidel or one who abandons his religion."

Undersecretary Hughes is not at this summit, of course, nor is anyone else from the State Department, nor is the U.S. funded al-Hurra Arabic TV station - facts archly noted by the conferees. In the quasi-official U.S. view, the speakers at this conference amount to an exotic, publicity-seeking fringe group, with whom close association is politically unwise.

Al-Jazeera, however, is here, suggesting that the real Arab mainstream better appreciates the broad interest the conference's speakers attract in the Muslim world, as well as their latent power. Perhaps this is the flip side of the appeal of extremist Islam, an indication that what Muslims are mainly looking for are radical alternatives to the unpalatable mush of unpopular autocratic governments, state-approved clerics like Sheikh Tantawi, and Saudi-funded "mainstream" organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Radicalism, at least of a kind, is certainly what this summit provides via Wafa Sultan. Dr. Sultan, a Syrian-born psychiatrist now living in the U.S., came to widespread public attention last year after she debated a Sunni cleric on al-Jazeera. "Only Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches," she observed. The televised clip, translated by Memri, has been downloaded on YouTube more than a million times.

Dr. Sultan, whose outspokenness has forced her and her family into hiding, is here to receive an award from the Center for Inquiry, the summit's organizer and lead funder. She accepts it by saying: "I don't believe there is any difference between radical Islam and regular Islam."

The view is shared by some, though by no means all, of the conferees. "Salafists cannot imagine Islam without the killing of apostates," says Dr. Hamid, who also now lives in hiding. "To them, the religion is a house of cards: Remove one element, and the whole structure collapses." Another conferee subscribes to the Salafist logic, though he dissents from the religion as a whole. "Truth is," he admits, "to be a Muslim democrat you have to be a bad Muslim."

In this view, the baggage of Shariah and hadith - the traditions in which some of the most violent Islamic injunctions are to be found - are as central to Islam as the Quran itself. Hasan Mahmoud disagrees. "Most Muslims don't even know what the Shariah laws are," he says. "The moment you actually show them what the laws are, they can understand they're unjust." Mr. Mahmoud illustrates the point by observing that, under Shariah, a husband does not require a witness to divorce his wife. "But the Quran says that if you want to divorce your wife, you need two witnesses. With Muslims, this kind of thing works magic."

Mr. Mahmoud spreads his gospel partly by way of cheaply produced DVDs, which seems pretty crude until one recalls that Ayatollah Khomeini, during his exile in Paris, spread the gospel of Islamic revolution by way of audiocassettes. Other conferees also have their Web sites: Alamgir Hussain, from Singapore, has islam-watch.org; Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, the conference's moving spirit, puts out IranPressNews.com; other conferees write for MiddleEastTransparent.com and so on. These are the "frugal chariots," to borrow a phrase from Emily Dickinson, that bear the Muslim reformer's soul.

A fair bit of U.S. government money is being spent on conference security, including from the FBI. Still, it's remarkable that the government, given the huge resources available from places like the National Endowment for Democracy, provides no funding or support for this conference or its various participants.

Here are two questions for the government: If Mr. Warraq, Dr. Sultan et al. are really irrelevant to the larger Muslim debate, why are the jihadists so eager to kill them? And if the jihadists want to kill them, don't they deserve support as well as security?

Copyright 2007 - The Wall Street Journal

 

Freer trade, freer markets, freer societies!!!

From: The Wall Street Journal

GOP Protectionists
By: JACK KEMP

March 6, 2007; Page A19

As the GOP stumbles around Washington trying to be the party of Herbert Hoover, it's sad to see so many Republicans drifting so far and so fast from the Reagan model that helped pave the way for the great, non-inflationary economic and jobs expansion of the past 25 years.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R, SC) threatens China with a 28% tariff for daring to tie the yuan to the dollar. Rep. Tom Tancredo, running for president, is miffed at President Bush for trying to design comprehensive immigration-reform legislation. The president wants a guest-worker program that could help alleviate border problems in the Southwest.

But Mr. Tancredo is a sissy compared to my old pal Duncan Hunter, the congressman from San Diego. He's also running in the GOP primaries as an unambiguous Hoover-like protectionist and anti-globalization candidate. Then there's my other old friend Pat Buchanan, railing against Japan and Toyota for having the chutzpah to sell so many cars in the U.S., even going so far as to build manufacturing plants right here under our noses.

Mr. Buchanan resigned from the GOP a few years ago because Republicans weren't tough enough on trade, tariffs and immigration for his so-called "economic nationalism" model. His answer to the competition faced by U.S. automakers from abroad is to bash Japan, and to accuse those of us who believe in classical free-trade policies of being "fanatics" who cause U.S. manufacturing to move offshore. Adam Smith and David Ricardo are spinning in their graves!

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm on the advisory board of Toyota North America and now drive a hybrid Lexus. But I also believe that the real answer for U.S. auto companies is a decrease in tax rates, lower costs of labor and greater flexibility in future union contracts. The attack on a trading partner like Japan is misguided when the real enemy of American jobs and auto production comes from Washington and Detroit. Having driven American automobiles for 50 of my 71 years, my long-term, (and short-term) solution to the profound challenges faced by U.S. manufacturers is to reform the complex, confusing and confiscatory U.S. tax code, and to ease the onerous regulatory burden that undermines our ability to compete in the global economy.

The suggestion that Japan manipulates its currency for trade advantages - even though the yen has appreciated against the dollar by 75% since 1985 - is misleading. The same attack could have been made against the U.S. when the Fed lowered the federal-funds rate to 1% in 2003 in order to boost the economy. Every central bank manipulates its currency to some degree in that they control the printing of the supply of money that determines the value of their currency.

Protectionists claim that the trade deficit threatens the dollar and causes it to fall, further de-industrializing America and diminishing our freedoms. In reality, the trade deficit is just the other side of what President Reagan correctly called the capital account surplus, which reflects foreign investment leading to increased production, output and job creation in the U.S.

As a case in point, since coming to America 50 years ago Toyota has invested more than $14 billion in our domestic economy and set up 10 manufacturing plants. It has "insourced" more than 380,000 jobs since 1981, and just announced an 11th plant, with more U.S. jobs. Toyota pays close to $15 billion in wages to American workers.

Overall, since the 2001 recession, according to David Malpass of Bear Stearns, the U.S. economy has created 9.3 million jobs; Japan only 350,000. As for the legacy health costs and pension costs for U.S. auto workers, protectionists would better spend their time lobbying for Detroit to move to health-savings accounts and defined pension-contribution plans. Defined-benefits pension plans are far too costly for auto makers, as economist Arthur Laffer has written and lectured about for years.

Protectionist views on trade resemble Al Gore on global warming: Pessimism permeates their arguments and they misuse statistics to drive their propaganda on these very important issues. Mr. Buchanan, for example, argues that the U.S is witnessing the passing of our nation as the greatest industrial power the world has ever seen. Nonsense: Half the wealth our nation has ever produced was generated in the last 25 years or so.

With the recent passing of Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan, we've lost two great champions of the free-enterprise and free-trade policies that helped lay the groundwork for the last two decades of low unemployment and low inflation, fostering the growing class of working families who own stocks, bonds and property.

The answers to our challenges in today's global marketplace can be found in sound money, lower tax rates on capital and labor, an easing of regulatory burdens, and the welcoming of foreign investment and trade with nations like Japan. Isolationism and protectionism are not worthy of 21st century America.

Mr. Kemp is founder and chairman of Kemp Partners and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Copyright 2007 - The Wall Street Journal

 

The dark side of Castro's socialism...

From: The Wall Street Journal

Castro's Gulag
By: ARMANDO VALLADARES

March 5, 2007; Page A16

Like thousands of other Cubans, I was arrested in the middle of the night. Fidel Castro's police raided my parents' home, stuck a machine gun in my face and took me away. It was 1960 and I was 22 years old.

The news that the Cuban dictator is gravely ill floods my mind with memories of my years spent in captivity. I believe that those of us who were political prisoners know his legacy better than anyone. For 22 years, I was an inmate in his vast prison system, mostly confined to an island gulag, for crimes I did not commit.

Like the majority of Cubans in 1959, I cheered Castro's victory over Fulgencio Batista, a dictator on friendly terms with the U.S. Castro called himself the enemy of all dictatorships; he had a cross hanging round his neck and he swore that there would be free and fair elections. But as his near five decades of uninterrupted power proved, he tricked everyone and replaced the dictatorship of Batista with his own bloodier version.

In a famous 1959 appearance on "Meet the Press," Castro answered a question put to him by Lawrence Spivak, "Democracy is my ideal, really ... I am not communist ... There is no doubt for me between democracy and communism." Once Castro began making his sympathies overt, I began speaking out against his ideological shift amongst the people in my workplace, the postal savings bank.

At the time, the government was distributing placards with the slogan: "If Fidel is a communist, then put me on the list. He's got the right idea." The phrase was ubiquitous, from decals to billboards. When officials in the bank demanded that I put the slogan on my worktable, I refused. When they asked if I had anything against Fidel, I told them that if he was a communist, then, yes, I did. I had no desire to become a symbol of political dissidence. That decision was made for me that day.

Thirteen days after my arrest, I was tried on charges of threatening the powers of state security, even though there was no evidence against me. The justice system under Castro was a mockery of the rule of law; members of my tribunal were Communist Party apparatchiks who sat with their boots up on tables, smoking cigars and reading comic books. Their very presence was but a formality; the verdicts had already been decided. I was not permitted an attorney.

I received a 30-year prison sentence as a potential conspirator. Two men in the same court room falsely accused of shooting at a government spokesman were executed by firing squad. When their defense attorney (whom they had met just minutes before) pleaded with the prosecutor to reduce the sentence, the prosecutor responded that he had received orders to have them shot, no matter what, as a means of social prophylaxis.

Once in prison, if the guards felt like punishing us, they would put us in cages, with mesh roofs, and walk along the edge while pouring buckets of urine and excrement all over our bodies. Sometimes, guards would shoot prisoners for target practice. That is how they killed Alfredo Carrion and Diosdado Aquit. Many of the men whom Castro had imprisoned, tortured and killed had been his comrades in overthrowing Batista. But most of them were innocent people eliminated in Ernesto "Che" Guevara's psychotic quest for what he and Castro called the "new man."

The impunity of Castro's dictatorship was marked by its cruelty. A prisoner in my block, Julio Tan, once refused an order by a prison guard to dig weeds. The guard struck him with his bayonet, another hit him with a hoe, and a gang of guards beat him until he bled to death in just a matter of minutes. My friend Pedro Luis Boitel, a student leader and courageous opponent of Batista, went on a hunger strike in 1972 to protest his treatment. On the 49th day of the strike, Castro personally ordered that Boitel be denied drinking water. Boitel died of thirst, in horrific agony, five days later.

Terror was Castro's main tool. The tactics used for enemies of the regime included the exploitation of phobias such as reptiles and rats; the use of drugs so as to have prisoners lose all notion of time and place; blindfolding prisoners, hanging them by their feet, and then lowering them into wells they were told are filled with crocodiles; the use of guard dogs that had their teeth removed and which were set upon prisoners with hands tied behind their backs. Usually, these dogs attacked the genitals first. All of this was investigated and extensively documented by a visiting delegation from the United Nations. The evidence can be found in Geneva.

The legacy of Castro for Cuba will be much like that of Stalin in Russia, Pol Pot and Ieng Sari in Cambodia, and Hitler in Germany. It will be the memories of the unknown numbers of victims, of concentration camps, torture, murder, exile, families torn apart, death, tears and blood. Castro will go down in history as one of the cruelest of all dictators - a man who tormented his own people.

But his poisonous legacy will also include the double standard by foreign governments, intellectuals and journalists who fought ferociously against the unspeakable violations of human rights by right-wing dictatorships, yet applauded Castro. To this day many of these intellectuals serve as apologists and accomplices in the subjugation of the Cuban people. Rafael Correa, the recently inaugurated president of Ecuador, has declared that in Cuba there is no dictatorship. Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, considers Castro his mentor and has already shown that he is willing to silence his own critics at the point of a gun. Venezuela, once a democracy, is the new Cuba, replete with a growing population of political prisoners.

Castro hemmed and hawed in the early 1960s, concealing his ideological allegiance to the most murderous system of government humanity has ever experienced. Today's Latin American caudillos openly express their allegiance to communist ideals. "I am very much of Trotsky's line - the permanent revolution," Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said in January.

If we have learned anything from Fidel Castro, it is that the totalitarian impulse outlives even its most hardened - and ruinous - practitioners.

Mr. Valladares, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, is chairman of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation and author of "Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro's Gulag" (National Book Network, 2001)

Copyright 2007 - The Wall Street Journal

 

Something worth looking into...

The Institute for Liberal Studies (http://www.liberalstudies.ca) Presents:

--The Windsor Liberty Seminar--

First held in 2006, the Windsor Liberty Seminar brings participants together for a one-day discussion of the ideas of liberty. Listen to talks from world class speakers and debate the issues with others.

Windsor Liberty Seminar 2007
Saturday, March 24 9:30am-4:00pm

Vanier Hall at the University of Windsor
http://www.liberalstudies.ca/events/index.htm

 

The pathetic joke that is university student government... What do these groups even do these days?

From: The Charlatan
http://charlatan.ca/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=18514&Itemid=27

Student association under fire for politcal attack buttons
Written by Ciara O'Shea
Thursday, 01 March 2007

A conservative student group is in uproar at Trent University about buttons sold on campus that portray Prime Minister Stephen Harper as the devil.

The Trent Central Students' Association (TCSA) has been selling the controversial buttons on campus. One button reads "Fuck Harper," and another adds devil horns to Harper's image. A third button shows the middle finger and the word "Harper."

The Trent Progressive Conservative Association claims the buttons are hurtful, especially because the student government is selling them.

The TCSA believes it has the right to express its opinion even though the conservative club has a problem with it.

"We are an non-partisan political organisation that should be able to make to make comments about governments," said Scott Dempsey, president of the TCSA.

"We are an non-partisan political organisation that should be able to make to make comments about governments," said Scott Dempsey, president of the TCSA.

"We [...] expressed our fears that [the buttons] might reinforce the existing anti-conservative sentiments in Trent University," said Erwin James Casareno, the secretary of the conservative club. "Because of our right-leaning beliefs we already experience quite a [lot] of prejudice and hostility within the seminar rooms and lecture halls."

"The opinion of the board was that it wasn't a hateful statement but that it was a political statement," said Dempsey.

But the conservative club claims the buttons are aimed specifically against Harper. Casareo said they could be considered hate speech since the buttons could be seen as inciting hatred on campus.

"If you're going to criticize someone's policies then one must talk policy," said Casareo. "To depict an individual sporting horns and the use of profanity and other profane symbols to depict him is not criticism, it is demonizing an individual."

"The hate crime provisions of the Criminal Code only applies to an identifiable group distinguished by colour, race, religion or ethnic origin," not political affiliation, said University of Ottawa professor Errol Mendes, an expert in law.

Trent administration declined to comment, only saying that the TSCA is an autonomous group outside their jurisdiction.

Copyright 2007 - The Charlatan

 

Another great piece on Chief Louie from BC...

Check this video out...

http://www.caledoniawakeupcall.com/media/national%20feb%207%20Cheif%20Louie.wmv

 

Prosperity is not an impossible dream...

From: The National Post

A better way to help Africa
By: HUGH SEGAL
Published: Thursday, February 22, 2007

Africa stands alone as a continent excluded from the economic growth that has reduced poverty and swollen the ranks of the middle class in other parts of the world. Last week's report from the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade makes a strong case for a new Canadian approach to development in this impoverished continent.

The report, Overcoming 40 Years of Failure: A New Roadmap for Sub-Saharan Africa, reflects the testimony of hundreds of witnesses in Ottawa and throughout Africa, as well as the reality observed by committee members on the ground in various sub-Saharan African countries. A principal conclusion is that we must improve the quality of our aid, as opposed to focusing on the number of dollars we spend. Unless the way we deliver aid changes, increasing our expenditures won't advance the cause of a self-sufficient, entrepreneurial and prosperous Africa.

The high regard we have for the diligent work done by the employees of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) does not diminish our concern for the slow, often ineffective and top-heavy structure the agency has assumed.

Consider an international comparison: In the case of the U.K.'s equivalent aid agency, 80% of its staff are in the field. In Canada's case, 80% of staff are at home. This helps explain why it costs us more to distribute our aid, per aid dollar distributed, than many other donor nations.

Since 1968, CIDA has spent $12.4-billion on aid to sub-Saharan Africa. Yet the standard of living in the region has declined over that period. Since 1989, CIDA's Minister has changed 11 times. Clearly, we need to ask ourselves whether our approach to international development makes any coherent sense.

My committee colleagues and I have learned much from our study of Africa. We have seen and heard countless examples of the determination of Africans to work and survive. Most Canadians cannot possibly fathom the scope of the absolute poverty in that part of the world. We can surely find in ourselves and our government the determination to assist Africans.

But we must be more choosy about where we spend our aid dollars. Canada's aid is currently diffused throughout many nations and represents no more than 10% of the bilateral aid received by any one target country, thus producing little impact. In the future, CIDA should have a clear statutory mandate identifying critical priorities. CIDA should also have a unified Africa office that deals in a co-ordinated way with diplomatic responsibilities, aid, security and trade.

Africa cannot be left to wallow in a morass of bad governance, corruption, disease and global neglect. In strategic terms, the dire situation in Africa creates the risk of more failed states and the spread of terrorism. It also threatens democracy and creates huge, potentially destabilizing, migratory pressures.

Africa has the mineral wealth, agricultural potential and popular will necessary to move toward a promising future. But realizing this goal requires improved governance, a more effective fight against corruption, targeted job creation and the reduction of Western agricultural barriers to African exports. It also requires Canada to look at our African policy, separate the strengths from the weaknesses, and move ahead as an influential aid partner.

Above all, we should understand that the remoteness of Africa geographically has no bearing on its importance to us strategically. Many of our commonwealth and francophone brothers and sisters are among those countries with the greatest need and potential. The 40 years of failure in global aid to Africa must end. With a more streamlined, less top-heavy aid apparatus, Canada can and should lead the way.

Senator Hugh Segal (Kingston-Frontenac- Leeds) is a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

Copyright 2007 - The National Post

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