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Peace, order and good government, eh?: Who are we trying to impress?

Canada ends all trade with Iran citing ‘grave and sincere concern’ over nuclear program

Canada ended all trade with Iran on Wednesday, citing “grave and sincere concern” over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program and its failure to engage in meaningful negotiations.

The ban on all imports and exports to and from Iran is Canada’s latest . . . → Read More: Peace, order and good government, eh?: Who are we trying to impress?

Peace, order and good government, eh?: Abstaining above our weight

Canada won’t run for UN Security Council seat in 2014

Canada will focus on other priorities rather than mount a fresh campaign for a spot on the United Nations Security Council, says Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

Baird’s disclosure that there’s no new campaign in the works comes after Canada’s failed 2010 campaign to win . . . → Read More: Peace, order and good government, eh?: Abstaining above our weight

Peace, order and good government, eh?: Bullying above our weight

Palestinians could face ‘consequences’ for pursuing Israel at the UN, says Baird

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has told a powerful pro-Israel lobby that Palestinians will feel “consequences” from Canada if they pursue the Jewish state at the International Criminal Court.

Baird issued the warning just as the federal government considers whether to end hundreds . . . → Read More: Peace, order and good government, eh?: Bullying above our weight

Peace, order and good government, eh?: Dear John Baird

You recently suggested that Israel has no better friend than Canada. So perhaps you would be the best one to have a chat with our friends and suggest that this kind of thing is generally frowned upon.

Deadly attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists are being carried out by an Iranian dissident group that is financed, . . . → Read More: Peace, order and good government, eh?: Dear John Baird

Peace, order and good government, eh?: Speaking of political theatre

While the National Post does its best to hype the threat posed by Iran, here’s the news I can’t seem to find from a Canadian source:

WASHINGTON, Feb 1, 2012 (IPS) – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told Israeli leaders Jan. 20 that the United States would not participate in . . . → Read More: Peace, order and good government, eh?: Speaking of political theatre

Peace, order and good government, eh?: On Iran and the IAEA: what’s really new here?

When Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird indicated last week that Canada would be acting in concert with our allies to punish Iran, he was saying what he was expected to say. Ostensibly he was reacting to the IAEA report issued last Wednesday on the state of Iran’s nuclear program. But it didn’t matter whether the . . . → Read More: Peace, order and good government, eh?: On Iran and the IAEA: what’s really new here?

Peace, order and good government, eh?: Something John Baird should actually get grumpy about

Canadians face two months of incarceration in Israel without trial On Tuesday, Freedom Waves to Gaza activists detained in Israel — including Canadians David Heap and Ehab Lotayef — came before a judge and were told they could be held in prison for two months without charges or trial. To avoid this, the judge told them, they must sign a statement that they entered Israel "voluntarily" and "illegally" despite being violently kidnapped from international waters and taken to Israel against their will while trying to reach Gaza. While a handful of Freedom Waves to Gaza participants have been deported — including Canadian Karen DeVito — 18 activists and journalists have now been in Israeli prison for five days with no end in sight. There’s a post at Mondoweiss that provides a detailed account of the way the Israeli navy took over the two ships involved in the latest attempt to breach the maritime blockade of Gaza:… . . . → Read More: Peace, order and good government, eh?: Something John Baird should actually get grumpy about

Peace, order and good government, eh?: Any chance we could have an adult in charge of foreign policy?

Updated below. Baird stops funding for UNESCO after Palestinian decision Canada is putting a stop to future support for UNESCO now that the United Nations agency has accepted the Palestinian Authority as a full member. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says the decision is not in the best interests of peace in the Middle East, and so Canada is freezing all future voluntary contributions to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. This follows the announcement yesterday that the United States is stopping its own financial support of UNESCO and while the story reports that, it doesn’t say why. But Juan Cole explains: Since a law passed by Congress in the 1990s forbids the US from funding UN bodies that recognize Palestine, the Obama administration has no choice but to withdraw the $80 million a year it gives UNESCO, which is a fifth of the agency’s budget. So what’s Baird’s excuse? There is no such legal issue in Canada so this just looks like spite. Or pandering to Israel and the U.S. And as Cole argues, this just further isolates us from most of the international community. When that vote on UNESCO membership was held, Canada was one of… . . . → Read More: Peace, order and good government, eh?: Any chance we could have an adult in charge of foreign policy?

Peace, order and good government, eh?: Has anyone spoken to John Baird lately?

In the immediate aftermath of the Auditor General’s report on G8 spending, we were assured that while the attention to administrative detail was lacking, there was certainly no intention to mislead parliament. We were also assured that while Tony Clement was heavily involved in considering all the projects in his riding, it was John Baird who made the final decisions. The auditor general’s other major concern is that there is no paper trail to show how or why the 32 projects were chosen out of 242 that were proposed by the municipalities. Wiersema said they were selected by the infrastructure minister at the time, Baird, based on the advice of Clement, who was then industry minister and is now president of the Treasury Board. No public servants were involved in the decision-making process, the audit found. Of course we’ve since learned that public servants were involved — the documents obtained and released by the NDP make it clear that bureaucrats from Industry Canada, Infrastructure Canada and DFAIT were all involved at one point or another. What’s now unclear is just how much John Baird was actually involved, despite the fact that Clement himself assured us his colleague made the final… . . . → Read More: Peace, order and good government, eh?: Has anyone spoken to John Baird lately?

Peace, order and good government, eh?: In which Angry McPointy passes the buck

Early in June it was reported that Abousfian Abdelrazik’s application for child-assistance benefits had been denied by the Quebec government because his name still appears on the UN’s 1267 terror watchlist. At the time I wondered if John Baird, freshly minted minister of foreign affairs, might get involved because the province suggested it would honour a certificate signed by the minister granting it permission to pay the benefits. Foreign affairs has now responded to Abdelrazik’s plight in much the same way it did under Lawrence Cannon: with a shrug and a "not my problem." "It is the opinion of the Department of Foreign Affairs that such a certificate is not required, as the Regulations do not prevent persons from making deposits into Mr. Abdelrazik’s account, so long as it remains frozen," the department wrote in a letter dated July 6th. So the province is free to pay the money to Abdelrazik as long as he can’t actually have access to it. His lawyer expresses confusion over this but it seems perfectly clear to me. In the face of an obvious injustice — obvious because no proof has ever been presented that Abdelrazik is guilty of any crime — the government… . . . → Read More: Peace, order and good government, eh?: In which Angry McPointy passes the buck

Peace, order and good government, eh?: The adventures of Angry McPointy on the world stage

Canada continues to distinguish itself by taking principled stands on foreign policy: Canada plans to boycott the United Nations conference on disarmament to protest North Korea’s selection as conference chair, CTV News has learned. … Officials say Baird and the Conservative government are dismayed that the UN chose North Korea, which is building nuclear weapons and has threatened South Korea with military action. Except that the UN didn’t exactly choose North Korea. As the blogger at The Sixth Estate pointed out — ten days ago (emphasis in the original): …the chairmanship of the Conference rotates alphabetically. You don’t get appointed for any reason, other then that it’s your turn. Canada’s turn came a few cycles back of North Korea. The fact that Canada’s official protest was announced without mentioning the alphabetical selection process that caused it is a strong indication that Mr. Baird doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about. And if we conclude that Baird was clueless when that statement was issued, what are we to think about CTV and Robert Fife when it’s ten days later and they haven’t picked up on this? So is Baird’s approach to foreign policy going to involve stomping his little… . . . → Read More: Peace, order and good government, eh?: The adventures of Angry McPointy on the world stage

Peace, order and good government, eh?: Paging John Baird

Abdelrazik can’t get child benefits while on terror list The Quebec government has told a Montreal man that he cannot receive child-assistance benefits because his name appears on a United Nations terror watchlist. It’s the latest in an ongoing saga for Abousfian Abdelrazik, who spent six years in forced exile in Sudan including time in prison where he says he was tortured. Despite being exonerated, he still finds himself on the UN Security Council’s 1267 list — which means Abdelrazik can’t leave Canada and all of his financial assets remain frozen. It also means he can’t have a bank account, can’t work and can’t benefit from government programs like child tax credits. As Abdelrazik himself points out, we’re effectively penalizing his children for crimes he himself has never been convicted of committing. So why bring John Baird into it now? The letter advised him to get a certificate signed by the minister of foreign affairs stating he can collect child-care benefits. The behaviour of the previous minister, Lawrence Cannon, with regard to the Abdelrazik case was nothing short of contemptible. Here’s an opportunity for Baird to demonstrate that he’s prepared to be at least marginally better than that. Abdelrazik is… . . . → Read More: Peace, order and good government, eh?: Paging John Baird

Peace, order and good government, eh?: A matter of national security

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Canada is on the verge of imposing sanctions on Syria. Since the Americans, along with the EU, have already moved in that direction it’s only natural that the Harper Government™ would tag along. But I thought this part of the report was interesting: John Baird, the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, will present his recommendations for punitive measures at the cabinet committee on national security, which was created as part of last week’s cabinet shuffle. Tim Naumetz of The Hill Times reported at length on this new cabinet committee last week. He described as "a dramatic measure…" the establishment of an entirely new committee of Cabinet ministers responsible for overseeing national security and intelligence agencies, even intelligence and information gathered through delivery of Canadian aid programs. It will be only the second of two Cabinet committees now chaired by the Prime Minister… As an aside: does this demonstrate a conscious intention to use aid programs as a means of intelligence gathering? Are we already doing that? But I digress…. . . . → Read More: Peace, order and good government, eh?: A matter of national security

Peace, order and good government, eh?: Now representing Canada on the world stage

This could be the end of diplomacy as we know it…. . . . → Read More: Peace, order and good government, eh?: Now representing Canada on the world stage