That weren't no DJ, that was hazy cosmic jive

Steve and Laureen: Canada’s Coalition

Just thought I’d linger at the yawning jaws of Hades for a moment this afternoon (known quaintly as the Conservative party website), when I noticed a couple of interesting things.

One was seeing that Harper’s cringeworthy “I Get By with a Little Help From My Friends” (do you really?) piano recital is still front page news nearly a year later. “Look, he attempted charm, once!” It’s quite a testament to our significant political “fun deficit” that this should even be remembered, let alone lauded (as regards staged spontaneity, I have to confess to wishing we could get a PM with his own penchant for a Ray’s Hell Burger, but I digress).

Another feature I smiled at was the adolescent “Ignatieff Me!” mock site, which is also still front page news. Although there’s no mention anywhere of the biggest Conservative policy announcements of the past few months. No news about the jets? The census? The prisons? I guess it really is all about Ignatieff!

A third point of interest was seeing (the same photo of) Stockwell’s face gracing two separate articles. Desperate times when they not only decline to hide Stockwell Day, but double his exposure.

But my favourite part of the site was hovering over the “Leader” tab and seeing two figures listed: Stephen Harper, and then his wife Laureen.


Wow! That's why this government doesn't have a Deputy Prime Minister – it has a First Lady instead! So what are her leadership qualities?

– interested in Africa, and has visited 13 countries
– rides a motorbike and likes gardening
– volunteers for school bake sales

That is truly all fantastic stuff (riding a motorbike to a bake sale can’t go unnoticed), but as it doesn’t say anywhere that she’s run for office, been appointed to the Senate (yet), or that she holds a ministerial portfolio, why is she included as one of our leaders?

Is this Harperian coalition government at its finest?

Filed under: Canada, Politics, , , , ,

War crimes and kangaroo courts

While Naomi Campbell complains about the colour of her blood diamonds at Charles Taylor’s UN SCSL war crimes tribunal, another farce of a trial is taking place elsewhere – and this farce could set horrendous international precedent as well.

In the first war crimes trial under President Obama‘s watch, a former child soldier is being tried by an American military court that hasn’t gained international legitimacy. Never mind the fact that Omar Khadr is Canadian, and the only western, and by far the youngest, tenant still resident at Guantanamo. That’s an embarrassment principally to Canadians, as our government denies any of the responsibility that other Western nations have taken in repatriating their citizens from a prison of felons without charges – indeed, our government helps people to stay in there. So much for protecting our citizens, or standing up for international law.

Where other western countries have successfully lobbied for the return of their nationals from Guantánamo, Canada has refused to intervene despite a recent court ruling that ordered it to remedy its failure to protect Khadr’s rights. The Guardian

The greater farce is that a boy of 15, without any real capacity to choose whether he’d be brought to Afghanistan or not, was incarcerated as a war criminal by sweeping U.S. forces in the earliest stages of the Afghan invasion, and is now being tried in a kangaroo court for crimes he may/may not have committed, using evidence that may/may not have been extracted under torturous duress, subject to a legal framework which isn’t internationally recognised, and which diminishes habeas corpus as well as the moral upper-hand in anything that the U.S. has been up to over the past 10 years in the Middle East.

Sucking up potential combatants and associates (including children) with a giant military vacuum cleaner, locking them up for a decade, and then deciding to press charges and try them in an illegitimate court is teeth-gnashingly wrongheaded for any democratic regime. To press ahead with this trial of a child soldier who’s spent over a quarter of his life in Guantanamo lays bare 1) Obama’s helplessness and 2) Obama’s carelessness. Of course, pressure from Ottawa could have helped, if only Harper would dare!

Charles Taylor’s UN-SCSL trial may have been temporarily dropped in tabloid muck thanks to Naomi Campbell’s airheaded testimony. But at least the United Nations acts as our singular, global agent for convening, designing and upholding international law, and it maintains a globally recognised convention of what a war crime is. The military tribunals for Guantanamo can’t even claim to have that legitimacy.

Filed under: International, Politics, , , , , , , , , , ,


August 2010
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