Friday 3 December 2010


I discovered this gem on YouTube and Vimeo after a seeing report about it on Deutsche Welle TV. You can view it in several quality levels - the best is Full Screen 720p High Definition if your internet bandwidth is good enough. The film is 9 minutes long and has been viewed about 350,000 (as of December 3, 2010).

Here's film maker Philipp Beuter's note about this video:

Creator's Note:

I dedicate this film to Berlin where I have been living for 19 years now. While the architecture of Berlin is stunningly beautiful, only its inhabitants make Berlin the unique city that it is. In every corner there is something new to discover. And the best thing to do is to film it.

Filmed with my beloved Sony HC9. Edited with Sony Vegas Pro 9.The miniature effect is called tilt-shift, which originates from a particular lens that was used to photograph architecture. The miniature effect is a by-product of that. It can also be achieved by digital postprocessing. Music: “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2” by Franz Liszt

Thursday 2 December 2010


Some Thoughts by one of the few Great Canadian Prime Ministers.

When we see the mediocrity of most Canadian federal and provincial politicians, and when the see the federal government, the (supposed) protector of our human rights, being eviscerated by people who put their own petty provincial fiefdoms ahead of the country as a whole, we should remember this great man whose visions for Canada have only been equalled by Lester B. Pearson, Wilfrid Laurier and John A. Macdonald (despite his alcoholism, bigotry, and corruption).

"A country, after all, is not something you build as the pharaohs built the pyramids, and leave standing there to defy eternity. A country is something that is built every day out of certain basic shared values. And so it is in the hands of every Canadian to determine how well and wisely we shall build the country of the future."

"Who speaks for Canada? Our strength lies in our national will to live and work together as a people. Weaken that will, that spirit of community, and you weaken Canada. Weaken Canada, and you damage all the parts, no matter how rich some of those parts may be. My friends, you and I must stand up for Canada, and we must see that there is a national government that has the courage to do so as well."

"What a magician this Mr. [Brian] Mulroney is, and what a sly fox! ... In a single master stroke, this clever negotiator has thus managed to approve the call for Special Status (Jean Lesage and Claude Ryan), the call for Two Nations (Robert Stanfield), the call for a Canadian Board of Directors made up of 11 first ministers (Allan Blakeney and Marcel Faribeault), and the call for a Community of Communities (Joe Clark). He has not quite succeeded in achieving sovereignty-association, but he has put Canada on the fast track for getting there."

(Quotations from the 1980's debate around the Mulroney attempt to dismember Canada with the Meech Lake Accord)

In a newspaper column Trudeau also wrote: "The federation was set to last a thousand years. Alas, only one eventuality hadn't been foreseen: that one day the government of Canada would fall into the hands of a weakling. It has now happened." He was speaking of Mulroney, of course, but this can be applied equally to Harper, who apart from his insatiable hunger for personal power at the highest level, has no vision for Canada as a country or for protecting it from provincial rapacity.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Simon's Cat (a bit of relief from my rantings)

From time to time I feel it necessary to lighten the tone of my anti-Harperite & anti-Republican rantings to ward off terminal depression. This cartoon is for cat lovers and anyone else with a sense of humour. ;-)

And here's another one:

Tuesday 2 November 2010

The Sad Farce of the Omar Khadr Case

Everything about the Omar Khadr case stinks to high heaven.

First we have a boy abused by his family and turned into a child soldier (does anyone out there who ever had or knew a 13-15 year-old child think that children don't generally obey their parents?).

Secondly, would anyone, 15 or 30, not defend him/herself automatically when attacked without spending time debating whether self-defence was justified by international law (remember, the Americans were attacking, not defending). No, I'm not supporting terrorism, I'm talking about reflex action here.

Thirdly, as a child soldier Omar Khadr is exempt from prosecution. But, of course, the U.S. only acknowledges international law when it suits their purpose. American politicians would do well to remember that their empire is fading, just as the British Empire did last century. They may come to regret flouting international law sooner rather than later.

Fourth, as a 15-year old he was physically and mentally tortured by the CIA and the American military and abused by Canadian interrogators in Guantanamo and kept imprisoned illegally for 8 years, 1/3 of his life. Then he was subjected to a farce of a military trial whose only objective was to find him guilty for political reasons, and for political reasons only.

Lastly, we have the Harper neo-cons who aren't interested in the rights of Canadian citizens abroad if they're not white anglo-saxon protestants (remember, they chartered a private jet to get a white woman out of a Mexican jail, but let a number of non-white Canadians rot abroad for years until the media were able to publicize the cases). Human rights is not a concept to be associated with the current Conservative Party.

While it is terribly sad that anyone had to die during the military engagement that Omar Khadr became involved in, that's not the point. What is at stake here are a number of things: Is military justice, justice? Clearly not! Does the U.S. adhere to international law? Clearly not! Can the Harper Conservatives be trusted to protect the rights of Canadians abroad? Clearly not!

So we can only hope that, when Omar Khadr is finally set free, his mind has not been irreversibly damaged by what his family and society have done to him, and that he can be rehabilitated and live a more or less normal life.

Sunday 31 October 2010

Muse Winery on the Saanich Peninsula near Victoria, BC

The Muse Winery (formerly Chalet Estate Winery) is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. They produce some wines I really like and are only about 20 minutes from home. Check out their website at

Gordon Pinsent reads Justin Bieber

From a Canadian icon about a Canadian iconlet, viewed 530,000 times! :-)

Thursday 14 October 2010

And now for something completely different from my usual postings

After Canada's embarrassment in full view of the whole world a few days ago, it's time for progressive Canadians to wake up and shout ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! It's time for intelligent Canadians to get together and make a decision to rid the country of the neo-conservative politics of division and return our country to its democratic roots.

Canada needs a leader who knows and understands and cares about the whole world, someone who respects diverse opinions and can empathize with other human beings. In other words, we need someone who is a fully rounded, intelligent human being with an enquiring mind open to all and a vision for Canada and its place in the world!.

Since first being elected to Parliament in 2006 as the MP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore in Ontario, Michael Ignatieff has travelled to every corner of the country, listening and talking to Canadians about their hopes and dreams.

Before entering politics in 2005, he served as Director of the Carr Centre for Human Rights at Harvard University and taught at leading universities around the globe. He has been a proud contributor to international public policy for nearly four decades, as an author, broadcaster, and advisor.

Michael Ignatieff’s commitment to Liberal values has defined him throughout his career, from his undergraduate years at the University of Toronto to his graduate work at Oxford and Harvard to his first teaching job at the University of British Columbia and the long career that followed. Michael has been a leading advocate for human rights, democracy, and international law, and has been recognized around the world for his leadership and scholarship.

He’s contributed to the World Economic Forum and served on international commissions that have contemplated the future of NATO, humanitarian law, citizenship and minority rights.

Michael is married to Zsuzsanna Zsohar and has two children, Theo and Sophie.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

UN Security Council: Canada Embarrasses Itself

There he sat today at the United Nations General Assembly, Lawrence Cannon, our Foreign Minister, watching Canada's humiliation as we came in 3rd in the voting for a two-year Security Council Seat. That's the first time that's happened since the UN was founded.

And what's the Neo-Cons reaction to this defeat? THEY BLAME MICHAEL IGNATIEFF! If Michael Ignatieff is so powerful that he could effect this, there's only one thing to do: MAKE THE MAN PRIME MINISTER! Of the many idiotic pronouncements made by Harper and his neo-con minions, this has to be right up there near the top.

I'm not going to go into all the reasons why Canada fell short in obtaining the votes needed to be elected, they've already been covered elsewhere. But surely, this defeat is proof of Canada's diminishing reputation and role in international affairs. When you have a prime minister who sees everything in terms of national political aims, you shouldn't be surprised that you're ignored internationally.

How Canada has been diminished since the day of Lester B. Pearson! Pearson was our pre-eminent diplomat and the man who gave us, despite running a minority government, the basis of what Canada stands for and hopefully will continue to stand for, despite the Harper interval which is an embarrassment to us all. Canada can do so much better than what Harper is doing to us and to our image in the world. Oh Canada!

Wednesday 15 September 2010

About Harper's New Fighter Planes

So here we have the Minister in charge of destroying the Census and the Ministress in charge of buying paper clips for the Neo-Cons telling us why we need new fighter planes!

In 1959, Diefenbaker (remember him?) destroyed the Canadian Avro Arrow and the Canadian aircraft industry because "we don't need fighter planes to defend us against the Soviets. We need American nuclear-tipped rockets". Today, we have the same clowns telling us we need new American fighter planes, because those same Russian bombers are still flying close to Canadian airspace. Some of their commentators are even still referring to Russia as the Soviet Union.

As a retired senior Canadian military intelligence officer, it makes me sad beyond belief to see the depth of incompetence and mental dishonesty so many of our politicians and political commentators have sunk to. Do we really need to imitate the Americans in everything, including bigotry and stupidity? Is that why I was supposed to be ready to lay my life on the line?

Monday 30 August 2010

The Long Gun Registry

So much ado about so little!

You get a firearms license after you've proved you know about gun safety, just as you get a driver's license after you've proved you can drive safely.

You register your firearm after you've bought one, just as you register your car after you've bought it.

Is that such a difficult concept to understand? For anyone, regardless of where they live or what they do? Or do the people who want to abolish the long gun registry also want to do away with automobile registrations?

Is basic intelligence really such a difficult concept for so many Canadians?

Wednesday 11 August 2010

More on Tony Clement's Census Debacle

Today, someone in Tony Clement's office blinked on the Census mess. First, Tony announced the obvious response to the neo-cons' supposed problem with the jail threat in case of a non-return of the mandatory census forms (you'd think with their "law & order" fixation they'd love throwing people in jail). Then, he moved questions about language from the long form to the short form which will remain mandatory.

So, by shifting the language questions to the mandatory short form, poor Tony Clement has agreed that voluntary forms do not produce valid statistical data. Otherwise, why would he have shifted the questions? Is there no one on Clement's staff who's intelligent enough to see that?

Clement was a disgrace under the Harris neo-cons in Ontario 10 years ago, and he's still a disgrace in the Harpocrisy government of today. Get thee to a nunnery, Tony! (with my apologies to William Shakespeare)

Monday 26 July 2010

Leaking the Afghan Documents & National Security

Since absolutely everything that happens has national security implications to the neo-con mini-minds, it's not a surprise that they'd now claim our soldiers are at risk because of the release of these historical documents. In fact, they don't do much more than reinforce what anyone with any military experience knows full well, namely that we are losing this war because of lack of resources and political will.

Afghanistan is a guerrilla war, not a conventional war. 150,000 soldiers operating in a hostile country with a totally corrupt government and an ineffective and corrupt local security organization will never "win", regardless of how long we stay there. 500,000 might. On the other hand, it would be a lot cheaper in lives and dollars, if we just paid to re-settle those Afghans who are in danger because of co-operating with us and also those who just want to get out.

There's no sense fooling ourselves, Alexander the Great couldn't subdue Afghanistan 2300 rears ago, the Brits couldn't do it 125 years ago, the Russians couldn't 30 years ago and the Americans don't have a military record that's any better. The guerrilla fighters (regardless of what name you want to give them) have the same mindset now as they did 2300 years. The difference is that today they have modern weapons. And who originally gave them those and trained them starting in the 1980's?

Saturday 24 July 2010

Clement's Folly - The Census

For more on this issue, see my earlier posting below: The Census & Neo Con Intelligence

Friday 16 July 2010

Avro Arrow Affair, Airbus Affair, Lockheed Martin Affair? Conservative Party History

In 1959, at the height of the Cold War, a Conservative government killed what was potentially the best fighter in the world (and destroyed Canada's aircraft industry). At that time, we needed such a plane. Today, they want to spend $9 billion+ on an untendered plane contract for a plane we don't need. There is no conventional war on the horizon (no, Afghanistan is not a conventional war, it's a guerrilla war). You don't need fighters for that, you need all sorts of other planes - transport planes, helicopters, reconnaissance drones, etc.

So, in 1959 we had the Conservative Avro Arrow affair, 20 years ago we had the Conservative Airbus affair, and today, the Lockheed Martin affair?

What happened to the military base in the North we were promised by Harper? What happened to the ice-breaking warships we were promised by Harper to protect our northern sovereignty? If we don't have a country on the ground, why do we need new American fighter planes in the air?

Wednesday 14 July 2010


It's not enough that successive Alberta governments have been giving away Alberta's oil and gas to mostly foreign companies for almost no royalties (Norway, which controls its own oil production has amassed about $170 billion in the same time that Alberta has been content with $17 billion). In addition, the Alberta and the federal governments have not enforced even the minimal anti-pollution regulations they've enacted, again unlike Norway which has some of the most stringent regulations in the world.

So, it's not surprising that international anti-Alberta and anti-Canada voices are getting stronger. Here's the latest:

The Census & Neo Con Intelligence

I knew the good feeling wouldn't last!

The neo-cons' explanations for their latest example of brain-dead stupidity would be laughable if the reliability of census data weren't such an important issue. It's no surprise that Harper & Co. would come up with something like this - making the census long form voluntary despite protests from experts and business people. The development of government services at all three levels of government depends on the data collected from the long forms.

But let's not forget, the main reason the Neo-Conservative Party exists is to kill all government services.

We need to get rid of this government, before it gets rid of us!!

Thursday 8 July 2010

Our New Governor-General: Harper Makes His First Ever Intelligent Decision

Well, I have to say I'm absolutely astounded. This is the first time I've agreed with anything Harper has said or done since I've followed his less than stellar career in federal politics during the past 20 years.

David Johnston is an excellent choice as Governor-General! An eminent scholar well-versed in Canadian constitutional law, he would not be easily dismissed if he had to stand up to Harper on a constitutional issue such as prorogation. We must never forget that if Michaelle Jean had not agreed to prorogation, Harper would not only have attacked her personally, but also her office, and thus would have provoked a constitutional crisis from which we might not have recovered as a united country.

With David Johnston's background and with him being his own choice, Harper will have a much harder time undermining Canadian democratic institutions. The Governor-General has specific powers under our constitution which he (or she) must and will, if necessary, exercise to control any potential excesses by the executive branch of government (the prime minister). In the past, our governors-general have risen to the challenge, and I have no doubt Dr. Johnston will as well.

Wednesday 30 June 2010

Happy Canada Day, eh!

Let's hope Canada gets well soon!

Monday 28 June 2010

About Harper's G8/G20 Fiasco

So we spent $1.5 billion (watch the figure climb to that when the Auditor-General checks into this fiasco) for another Harper ego-trip. Or you can call it evidence of a Harper brain malformation. Everything that happened has happened before, so why should we be surprised? The police acted in their usual amateurish way. Could they not anticipate that protesters, both legitimate and otherwise, would gather somewhere other than at the fence?

It's looks almost as though on Saturday, by doing nothing, they were inviting those who wanted to wreak havoc, to do so, so that on Sunday they themselves could go on a rampage against anyone out and about.

The fact that the meeting of world leaders wasn't that important even to the participants is exemplified by the video clip of the Chancellor of Germany and the Prime Minister of Great Britain spending Sunday morning watching the Germany-England soccer game (which WAS important)!

I monitored the international media over the week-end to see what they'd say about the two meetings and the results. Poor Stephen Harper! His name wasn't mentioned even once. The only time the name Canada was heard, was when some commentator said the G20 meeting was taking place in Toronto, Canada (I guess to make sure people didn't think Toronto was in Italy). Gives you an inkling of how far Canada has fallen in world stature during the past few years.

Oh yes, and then there's Canada's media. All the commentators are now saying the voices of the protesters were not heard. Tell me, could that be because the CBC and CTV were spending all those hours pontificating about the riots and showing the burning police cars over and over for 48 hours non-stop? (Well, at least we were spared the 200th repeat of the CBC's favourite Princess Di gossip documentary!)

So, was it all worth it? Is the question even worth asking?

Thursday 13 May 2010

Tuesday 11 May 2010


Guess what? The U.K. had an election a few days ago that resulted in a "hung", as the Brits call it, parliament. None of the three major parties received a majority. And, surprise, surprise, the first thing the Conservatives did was to start negotiations with the Liberal Democrats to form a COALITION government. And no one, in any party, started screaming TREASON or BETRAYAL OF DEMOCRACY as you did, just before you shut down parliament for the first time to avoid well-deserved defeat.

Of course, you, Harper, aren't interested in democracy or the welfare or the good name of the country. You're only interested in NAKED POWER at any cost, aren't you? No principles, no vision, no program, just NAKED POWER! Isn't that typical of white, anglo-saxon, fundamentalist christians, both here and in the Republican Party, your role models.

Guns and tar sands for every white man, denial of human rights and climate change, abandonment of the rights of women and minorities, abandonment of Canadian citizens abroad, financial irresponsibility, denial of corruption and torture scandals, those are the hallmarks of your power trip. Let's hope enough Canadians wake up before it's too late. Mediocrity is not something that suits Canada well, even if millions of Canadians seem to revel in it. But, for heaven's sake, let's stop making Canada a laughing stock in front of the entire world!

Wednesday 28 April 2010

Who says the U.S. Military doesn't allow or have a Sense of Humour?

Posting this is so much more fun than writing about the continuing efforts of "The Wicked Witch of the West" to undermine Canadian society and to damage our system of parliamentary democracy.

Life is short and so will be the memory the world will have of Stephen Harper once he sinks back into the morass of the tar sands from which he emerged. May it be sooner rather than later!

Monday 25 January 2010

About the Incredible Generosity of Many Canadians

Now for something which totally amazes me. Individual Canadians have donated $68 million dollars to the Haiti relief effort so far, which will be matched dollar for dollar be our federal government for a total of $136 million. To get a sense of what that means - it's as if Americans had donated $1.36 billion - it just blows me away (of course, it's still really just $136 million - much, much more will be needed). The 2 one hour telethons the other night (one English, one French) raised $18 million (also to be matched). That $36 million compares to $57 million that George Clooney's telethon raised (so far), both also amazing sums. Let's hope all that money will be put to good use asap.

Of course, it wouldn't be me if I let the above pass without a negative comment. All that money apparently came from less than a million of us. Where are the others? I've even heard comments about why we are giving to Haiti when there are many poor people right here in this country - as if Canada isn't rich enough to look after both! All it takes is political will (in short supply, it seems). There even seems to be some racism at play - Haitians are black, French-speaking, and mostly Catholic. Need I specify what kind of people these remarks are coming from? It's shameful!

Saturday 23 January 2010

Stephen Harper’s top twenty democratic abuses

Courtesy of

1. Shutting down Parliament – twice – to get out of political hot water and avoid democratic scrutiny.
2. Firing nuclear whistleblower Linda Keen for her warnings about the Chalk River nuclear reactor.
3. Refusing to renew the contract of RCMP Public Complaints Commissioner Paul Kennedy after he was critical of the government.
4. Shutting down the Military Police Complaints Commission before Richard Colvin was set to appear and failing to renew the contract of Commissioner Peter Tinsley.
5. Using a “dirty tricks manual” to grind Parliamentary committee business to a halt.
6. Withholding information from the Elections Commissioner, which necessitated a police raid on Conservative Party Headquarters.
7. Breaking his own fixed election date law to call the 2008 election.
8. Refusing to provide adequate funding and independence to the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
9. Refusing to provide unredacted documents concerning the Afghan detainee scandal to Parliament after a motion ordering their disclosure was passed in the House of Commons.
10. Boycotting the Afghanistan committee by refusing to show up.
11. Attacking public servant Richard Colvin for doing his public duty to truthfully respond to questions from Parliament.
12. Breaking election promises to never run a deficit, appoint only elected Senators, to never raise taxes, and to increase the accountability of government.
13. Trying to eliminate political party financing in the 2008 Fall Economic Statement in a bid deprive political opponents of funding.
14. Scrapping the court challenges program that helped underfunded groups fight for constitutional rights.
15. Abandoning their promised Public Appointments Commission after their proposed watchdog, Conservative fundraiser Gwyn Morgan, was rejected.
16. Firing Canadian Wheat Board President Adrian Measner to undermine its independence.
17. Trying to amend Canada’s constitution to put term limits on Senate appointments and redistribute House of Commons seats – without first consulting the provinces.
18. Launching a lawsuit to hush-up the Cadman Affair into bribery allegations.
19. Refusing to disclose the time, date and location of Cabinet meetings.
20. Requiring media to be on a pre-approved list before they can ask the Prime Minister questions at press conferences.

Tuesday 19 January 2010

Harper shuffles the Deck Chairs on the Titanic

Here's a thought about Harper's cabinet shuffle:

Oh my gawd! Stockwell Day, the Sarah Palin of Canada, in charge of Treasury Board? We're definitely doomed now!

"Educated" in an American bible college, Stockwell thinks Planet Earth is 6,000 years old (maybe flat too). How can we trust him to deal with anything financial? How much is 2 plus 2, Stockwell? Will he listen to his public servants? Or just take his marching orders from Boss Harper? Anyone want to take a guess?

Thursday 14 January 2010

As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap

Prorogation tightens gap between Tories, Liberals
CBC News


The lead enjoyed by the Conservatives over the Liberals has dramatically narrowed since Prime Minister Stephen Harper suspended Parliament last month, a new poll suggests.

The Conservatives now lead by a marginal 1.6 percentage points over the Liberals, compared with the 15-point advantage they had in a mid-October survey, according to the EKOS poll released exclusively to CBC News.

Asked which party they would support if an election were held tomorrow, 30.9 per cent of those polled chose the Conservatives, and 29.3 per cent backed the Liberals. The poll found 15.3 per cent of respondents supporting the NDP, 11.9 per cent the Green Party and 10.2 per cent the Bloc Québécois.

Harper prorogued, or suspended, Parliament for two months on Dec. 30. His spokesman said the break would allow the government to consult with the public as it worked on its economic action plan. However, critics saw the move as a plot to gain a majority on Senate committees while perhaps also avoiding criticism over the Afghan detainees affair.

Government moving in wrong direction

The EKOS poll found that almost 64 percent of respondents felt suspending Parliament was "anti-democratic." About 47 per cent told EKOS the government was moving in the wrong direction — a sentiment expressed for the first time since June 2009.

EKOS president Frank Graves said the results show the issue of prorogation isn't as obscure a topic as many people might have thought. "Canadians have noticed, they do care and this is having a very negative impact on Conservative fortunes," Graves said.

The poll was conducted from Jan. 6 to Jan. 12 and involved a random sample of 3,730 Canadians. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.6 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Monday 11 January 2010

Now Tony Clement adds his thoughts to the neo-conservatives' prorogation debacle

Today, 100 academics condemned Harper as being anti-democratic for proroguing parliament. Neo-Conservative MP Tony Clement, echoing his boss' opinion of anyone disagreeing with him, reacted by calling the critics "elitist", the favourite term of right-wing "thinkers" north and south of the border.

If being educated, cultured, being able to read, being able to write coherently, makes a person a member of the "elite" that the neo-Conservatives are always making such a fuss about, then consider me elitist. On the other hand, when two-thirds of Canadians despise Harper and his minions, then we can't really talk about being elitist, just being the majority.

I remember Tony Clement very well from the time I lived in Toronto during Mike Harris' attempt to undermine Ontario's economic and social structure. Clement was a neo-Conservative even then. He used to be the Conservative mouth piece on the local CBC Evening News political panel. He was known as the stupid pretty boy, no brains, just looks - a sort of early Britney Spears type.

Well, Tony, the looks are gone, the brain is still missing. Oh, Canada!

As ye sow, Steve, so shall ye reap:

Thursday 7 January 2010

Harper Is At It Again

Stephen Harper: "L'état c'est moi! Democracy is a socialist plot!"
Here's a representative sample of the reaction to Harper's current subversion of Parliament:

Saturday 2 January 2010