Monthly Archives: February, 2016

Reforms of the pipeline review process have literally satisfied nobody

Image description: A banner reading "NO PIPELINES" is suspended from pine trees in a forested area. (Image credit: YouTube/Kahsatstenhsera)

Image description: A banner reading “NO PIPELINES” is suspended from pine trees in a forested area. (Image credit: YouTube/Kahsatstenhsera)

The Liberal government’s release of new guidelines for the pipeline review process a few weeks ago was meant to end furious feuding over the future of Canada’s oil and gas sector. The National Energy Board (NEB) reforms came hot on the heels of a nasty debate over Energy East, as the rejection of the pipeline by Montreal-area mayors was absurdly spun as a threat to national unity. The reforms were also delivered in the context of continual pressure on the new government by activists frustrated with Trudeau & Co’s delays in following through on campaign promises to fix what was widely viewed as a broken process.

The reforms, announced at a joint press conference by Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr and Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna, aimed to “rebuild Canadians’ trust in our environmental assessment processes” and to “take into account the views and concerns of Canadians, respect the rights and interests of indigenous peoples and support our natural resources sector.”

But if the government expected their announced reforms to actually create trust in the NEB process or to do anything to cool down the overheated pipeline debate, they must be sorely disappointed. Two weeks later, it’s now clear that their proposed reforms have satisfied literally nobody, and the squabbling over pipeline proposals looks set to carry on indefinitely.

Just look at the wave of opposition to various proposed pipelines that’s arisen in the days since the government tried to calm everybody down with their (hastily-thrown-together?) reform package:  Continue Reading

Liberals’ plan for Iraq & Syria will be unrealistic, unwinnable and unfinished

Image: An RCAF CF-188 Hornet refuels from a CC-150 Polaris over Iraq. In the background are white fluffy clouds and a blue sky. (Image credit: Department of National Defence)

Sources inside the Department of National Defence indicated to the press last Friday that the Liberal government’s long-awaited plan for Canada’s military operations against the so-called Islamic State (also known, derisively, as Daesh) will be revealed early this week.

While the specific details of the plan remain to be seen, a few things are already certain: it will be unrealistic, will feature no feasible path to victory, and will not address the main driving forces of the conflict in any meaningful way.

Bold claims? Perhaps. But how else to interpret the last four months of hyper-cautious prevarication on the part of Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and his colleagues on this issue, their near-perfect silence on the escalation of Russian intervention in Syria or the mounting evidence of Turkish governmental collaboration with Daesh, their total unwillingness to justify their drawdown of fighter jets, their wilful ignorance of our “ally” Saudi Arabia’s involvement on both sides of the conflict? Continue Reading

Rosie Dimanno’s coverage of the Ghomeshi trial is victim-blaming rape-shaming vitriol at its worst

Image description: The top half of the front page of the Toronto Star on Feb. 6, 2016 in a newspaper box on the street.. The main headline reads "Lucy's lawyer lashes out", with the subhead (Image credit: author)

Image description: The top half of the front page of the Toronto Star on Feb. 6, 2016, in a newspaper box on the street.. The main headline reads “Lucy’s lawyer lashes out”, with the subhead “‘Trial is about Ghomeshi’s conduct,’ not his alleged victims’ behaviour”. Note the use of witness Lucy DeCoutere’s first name, which connotes a certain lack of seriousness, almost a childishness, and also the phrase “lashes out”, which implies unfocussed anger and unreasonableness. (Image credit: author)

CW: Rape, rape apology, victim-blaming.

The Toronto Star, Canada’s highest-circulation daily newspaper, has been nothing if not thorough in its coverage of the ongoing trial of Jian Ghomeshi, disgraced former CBC radio personality. (Ghomeshi, in case you’ve been living under a rock in the Himalayas, had his career implode on him last year after several women came forward accusing him of extremely violent sexual assault.) The Star has had wall-to-wall coverage of the trial, devoting a whole section on the front page of their website to regular updates on every aspect of the proceedings.

And the most prominent of their, ahem, journalists writing about this issue is the perennially snarky and provocative Rosie DiManno.

DiManno, for those unfamiliar with her work, is a narcissistic attention-craving blowhard with a tendency to be deliberately offensive. Almost ten years ago, Torontoist briefly attempted to run a series mocking her abominable prose style and her unfailing lack of empathy; the series terminated after a mere seven entries with a scathing review of an article she wrote on another rape trial: Continue Reading

B.C. terror trial suspended indefinitely after CSIS refuses to discuss their involvement in plot

Image description: A beaming John Nuttall, with shoulder-length hair and unkempt beard, sits in the passenger seat of a car. Directly behind him is Amanda Korody, wearing a black headscarf; Korody is grinning and has a cigarette in her mouth. (Image credit: RCMP surveillance photo)

The trial of Canada Day bombers John Nuttall and Amanda Korody has been indefinitely suspended after CSIS once again refused to turn over documents relating to their involvement in the plot.

Specific details on the reasons for the delay seem to be subject to a publication ban, as much of the past several weeks of the trial have been. But what is clear is that Canada’s spy agency is committed to doing everything in its power to keep its role in the affair under wraps. After weeks of efforts by the defence and the judge to compel CSIS to disclose any documentation they may have relating to an alleged human source of theirs, whom Nuttall says radicalized him and repeatedly urged him to commit violence in the name of Islam, the spy agency continues to stonewall. Continue Reading

Wednesday Links Roundup 2/3/16

Readers – if you come across any stories you think ought to be included in next week’s links round-up, please send them my way by email (matt@thealfalfafield.com), on Twitter (@thealfalfafield), or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/thalfalfafield). Also if yer not following me on Twitter and/or Facebook yet, get on that!

First off, some tunes:

And we’ll lead things off today with some gallows humour: Scientists reveal they accidentally forgot to adjust Doomsday Clock for Daylight Savings Time (The Beaverton) Continue Reading

Comedy of errors at CSIS highlights incompetence of surveillance review body

Image description: an outline of a keyhole against a black background. Through the keyhole is a blue eye looking directly at the camera. In the top left is a crest of a red maple leaf surrounded by a blue circle.

Last week, with the release of an annual report by the Security Review Intelligence Committee (SIRC), we got a rare glimpse into the normally secretive world of Canada’s spy agency – and the barest outline of a farcical comedy of errors emerged.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) is very protective of its privacy – see their attempts to engineer a top-secret closed-doors no-defence-lawyers-allowed court session discussing their alleged involvement in a high-stakes terrorism trial – so it’s unlikely we’ll ever know the full story of what transpired. But from what’s been revealed to the public already, there’s some serious cause for concerns, both about CSIS’s ability and willingness to respect Canadians’ rights and about the government’s ability and willingness to create effective oversight for intelligence agencies. Continue Reading

CityNews engaged in reckless journalism by pushing pro-carding police propaganda

Image: A Toronto police car. (Image credit: Wikimedia/Raysonho)

This past weekend, there was a late-night shooting in Toronto’s Chinatown neighbourhood. Two people are dead and three injured; the shooter remains at large. It was the latest shooting in what was an unusually violent January for Toronto.

In this post, I’m not going to be looking at the shooting in much detail. Instead, I’d like to look at the way that one specific media organization has responded to it – by using irresponsible and unfounded remarks by the president of the Toronto Police Association to draw in traffic and stir up a false controversy. Continue Reading

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