29 December 2007

White Ribbon Campaign - Halifax Blog

In order to devote more focus and attention on the systemic problem of male violence against women, I have started a blog related to my work with the White Ribbon Campaign. It is called White Ribbon Campaign - Halifax, and it can be found here. Please tell all your friends about it.

Thoughts on the Bhutto Assassination

First, belated holiday greetings to everybody. It's been a pretty busy week around here, hence no previous updates on what I got for Christmas or anything of that sort. Suffice to say, it was fantastic, possibly the best ever, and I hope that everybody had themselves a wonderful time. Thanks to everybody for all the wonderful gifts and cards, it means an awful lot to me.

I've been trying to formulate in my mind how damaging the assassination of Benazir Bhutto by a homicide bomber will be to the future of Pakistan's development as a reliable ally and friend of the West. The murder of an opposition political leader is unfathomable in Canada. People may have grumbled about Stephen Harper like they do now about Stephane Dion, but that is nowhere near the scale of the threat of violence and murder that Bhutto lived with on a daily basis. People who speak out against the actions of the government do not enjoy the same freedoms in other parts of the world as they do here--many end up in exile, in prison, or disappeared never to be seen again to challenge the government. What happened to Benazir Bhutto serves as a vivid reminder of that reality.
For a long time now I have been very wary of Western support for the regime of Pervez Musharraf, the once-military dictator who now rules the country as a civilian. I do not believe him to a reliable friend and ally in the conflict against Islamofascism, as if not he himself, there are certainly elements within his regime that coddle and turn a blind eye to the actions of terrorists who seek to kill innocent people. While Musharraf may condemn the act of terror committed this week, he does stand to gain a lot from it. The main political opposition is now without a leader, there is a lot of civil unrest stemming from the assassination that may give him carte blanche to institute martial law and/or cancel the forthcoming election, and there will be people looking to him to clamp down and impose security to prevent further political violence. All of this adds up to a potential nasty recipe for democracy, the rule of law, and the ability to look upon Pakistan as a true partner in changing the political face of the Middle East.
There are still a lot of unanswered questions surrounding Bhutto's assassination. We're not yet sure who is responsible, what will happen next, and how all the major players will react. It seems, however, that the coming weeks will be very ominous times in Pakistan, and the potential for further violence and a regression of freedoms in the country would appear to be very high.

22 December 2007

Foreign Policy is Not a Three-Word Catchphrase

This morning CNN is providing graphic evidence of why it's called the Crappy News Network. It's also providing graphic evidence that the majority of its website's viewers think that American foreign policy is so basic that it can be reduced to a perjorative campaign slogan. Feast your eyes on the "Quickpoll" that exists on the right-hand side of the main page after a little bit of scrolling:

By a nearly 4-to-1 margin, CNN readers believe that "go it alone" wraps up American foreign policy better than my mom can wrap a Christmas present. I realize that we're in the age of the 6-second soundbite, where simplicity matters more than thoroughness, and that a lot of people have been led to believe that American unilateralism is at an all-time high. But to see it all manifested so succinctly still causes me great concern. It is beyond the pale to describe a country that is the foremost promoter of free trade, which has a huge trade deficit, that has more political-economic-military alliances with other countries than you can possibly shake a stick at, that is involved in numerous international organizations--often in a leadership capacity, and so many other things that to mention all of them would require a list thousands of pages long as having a "go it alone" foreign policy. May everyone who clicks "Yes" in that poll get a terrible present under their tree on Tuesday for being so thoroughly ill-informed and simplistic.

21 December 2007


Kosovo is set to unilaterally declare its independence from Serbia in the next few weeks, following years of intransigence between the Albanian-dominated province and Belgrade. This is a move that Canada should support, having invested blood and treasure in protecting the lives of Kosovars in 1999 and thereafter. Canada should also not pay much attention to the Russian promise to veto conferring legitimacy on the UDI by Kosovo in the UN Security Council, something that the Russians say "is the first attempt to say that the West is no longer interested in the United Nations, that they will now solve complicated international problems outside the United Nations." Well, that's fine with me. The West's leader, the United States, has been little interested in the UN for many years now, and other countries are seeing its limitations as well. It is well past time to move towards a new multilateralism based on the realities of the 21st century, not the world order of 1945. I know that if Canada were governed by the Liberals, they would acquiesce to the will of the UN after Russia vetoes any resolution proclaiming Kosovo's independence, but I have confidence that the Harper-led government will do what is right and support the principle of self-determination for Kosovo.

In other hits, I got my Carey Price rookie card last night! Yay for eBay!

The view from my office window is almost nothing but cars packed into the mall parking lot. Looks like most folks aren't done their shopping yet. Must be awful.

In case I don't blog again between now and Tuesday, Merry Christmas!

18 December 2007

Quick Hits

At precisely 7am this morning, I finished my Christmas shopping. Thank goodness for 24-hour WalMarts to pass the time brought on by out-of-commission elevators.

Now that the Mulroney/Schreiber madness has died down a little, can we get back into the business of running the country and looking forward? Nary a peep of the Manley panel on Afghanistan and Canada's future role there during the past few weeks because of all the airtime dedicated to this political farce.

Trying to snag a Carey Price rookie card on eBay is proving to be as challenging as that time I tried to get Elton John tickets for some folks back in Kelowna when he came to town. That ended in success (after a frenzied ten minutes of F5'ing), so there's no reason to believe that I won't have Upper Deck Young Guns #227 in my hands in the near future.

Being at the office while it's still dark outside is a unique experience I hope I don't have to replicate again.

12 December 2007

Stream of Consciousness

Boredom is reigning supreme today, and after having entered "110753" and "31.5" into a computer a couple hundred times this morning I'm finding myself thinking that there has got to be more to life than this. So to help alleviate this, I'm going to keep this window open for a good chunk of the morning and pop in whatever pops into my head that may be discussion-worthy and press "Publish Post" at the end of the day and see what comes of it.

* I was glad to read last week that Iran gave up uranium enrichment for the purpose of producing a nuclear weapon in 2003. So that means the Iraq War is now responsible for: getting rid of Saddam Hussein, compelling Qaddafi to forsake terrorism, establishing a democratic bridgehead in the Middle East, and getting Tehran to stop pursuing nuclear weapons. These are 4 very strong positives. It's unfortunate that there have been as many negatives to emerge as a consequence as well.

* Pursuant to my recent post on US Presidential 2008, I'm pretty much certain that if it's not Giuliani or McCain I'll be supporting the Democrats.

* Canada fancies itself a progressive country, and Halifax embodies that attitude. If that's true, why are Canadians and Haligonians seemingly very supportive of one of the following two tracks regarding prostitution: legalization or maintainig the status quo in which women are criminalized for being used as a thing? Seems to me that the real progressive countries, ones that are genuinely dedicated to equality, are taking the approach that regarding women as things to be purchased and then disposed of is an act of violence against them and is a criminal offence. You don't see Sweden, ranked #1 in the world in terms of gender equality, undertaking sting operations to throw prostituted women in jail. Progressive means moving away from failed policies towards new ones that positively affect citizens, does it not?

* Christmas shopping has been a lot more fun this year. I'm still glad I'm done, though.

* Environmental activists are mad at John Baird because he went back to a meeting that would potentially get results for the environment rather than stick around to take a browbeating from them. You just can't win, eh?

* I saw a trade rumour that had Saku Koivu and Michael Ryder being shipped to San Jose in exchange for Patrick Marleau and Jonathan Bernier. If Marleau and Bernier can score and avoid taking selfish penalties, it might not be a bad idea.

06 December 2007

Remembrance and Action

Today, December 6, is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Eighteen years ago today, Marc Lepine walked into the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal and opened fire while yelling that he "hated feminists" and killed 14 women. This horrific act was carried out because Lepine, like far too many men, hated women. It is the world's oldest hate crime and form of discrimination, it has been justified and rationalized by numerous arguments, and it is largely ignored. More than 3000 women are killed by men in the United States every year--roughly equating to a 9/11 on an annual basis. Yet there is no "war on misogyny" that seeks to eradicate men's terrorism and violence against women; it is accepted as the most outrageous manifestation of a "boys will be boys" mentality.
Today is a day of remembrance, to the extent that people know about what happened on December 6th. Given the paucity of white and purple ribbons adorning people's coats in Halifax, I think it is safe to say that not many do. A month ago, we all honoured--rightly so--those killed in the two World Wars by wearing poppies. It is expected. It is right and proper. But we don't take the time to remember the women who are murdered by men today, yesterday, last week, last month, last year, and who will continue to be killed tomorrow, the next day, next week, and so forth. There are memorials in many cities in Canada, and some small vigils. You don't see too many politicians wearing white ribbons in late November/early December. It says a lot about our pride in our forefather and our country that we remember those who gave their lives to a just and noble cause more than half a century ago. Unfortunately, it also says a lot about us that we don't remember and don't honour the women who are killed on an all-too-regular basis. But those of us who do, do so through books, through public events, through personal memorials, and through the commitment that we undertake to take action.
Today is a day of action. Today we come together and say, "This must stop." We join the White Ribbon Campaign, taking the pledge to never commit, condone, encourage, or turn a blind eye to men's violence against women. We can join Amnesty International's Campaign to Stop the Violence, or the Stolen Sisters remembrance campaign. We talk to our friends and family about violence that affects 1 in 3 women world-wide. We send letters and emails to our elected officials demanding justice. We tell people that think beating up, humiliating, and degrading women makes for good comedy that they are wrong, that it is not funny. We change our attitudes and look to change the attitudes of others so that we can all come to the very sensible conclusion that the scope and scale of violence against women is unacceptable, that it must end, that we must begin to regard all people with the same compassion and empathy and accord them the same rights and dignity that we expect for ourselves. This is what we do today...and what we must all strive to do every day.

02 December 2007

Best There Is, Best There Was, Best There Ever Will Be

Rather than express my disgust with Costco over how brutally disorganized the event was yesterday, I'll post simply this and say yesterday was a really good day in which I got to meet a childhood hero:

He's a little older and a little grayer now, but I could see the light in his eyes when I told him about how I saw him at the Canadian Stampede PPV in Calgary where they had the roof shaking. He's still the best.