Friday, July 31, 2009

Who is responsible for wafergate?

Kady O'Malley discusses a set-to between Warren Kinsella and over some rather clumsy conspiracy mongering on lifesite's part.

Social conservatives seem eager to diminish or dismiss any concern over the Prime Minister's mistake. Apparently it was anyone's fault but Harper's. Social Conservative activist John Pacheco, for example, had originally blamed the presiding priest for not having given clear instructions , later suggesting that the whole fuss was a Liberal smear. In fact, according to Pacheco, the true desecration here was the Liberals and the Media, who showed disrespect to the Eucharest by making it a political plaything.

So what's one to make of this? Leaving aside the potential for making investment advice ("buy tinfoil futures!"), all this loses sight of the fact that if Harper had not asked for the communion wafer, he never would have been given it.

And responsibility for this, ultimately, falls to the PM and his PMO. Taking communion was a breach of protocol, and the Prime Minister's Office employs hundreds of people in order to, among other things, keep the PM from fucking up on the public stage. If Harper didn't know that he wasn't supposed to take the host in a Catholic service, someone has failed: the person who is supposed to review the PM's itinerary for protocol issues. Now, I have no idea who does this in the PMO, but whoever it is, he or she should answerable to the Chief of Staff, Guy Giorno.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Impolitical's greatest hits

Today Impolitical notes AECL comes out in favour AECL decision. This adds to her great posts about the Isotopes Crisis, which you can see in her summary thread, Blog Post Index: Medical Isotope crisis & Chalk River shutdown. There you will find a list of her many posts on the subject together with a brief summary of the contents of each post.

Indeed, I was so impressed by her work on the Medical Isotope issue that it reminded me of the old K-Tel records: "20 original hits! 20 original stars!". Hence:

"What can be better than reliving the old times! Who can forget Lisa Raitt saying "Cancer is Sexy"? Or Jasmine Macdonell's taped conversations with Lisa Raitt? Or heavy water leaks? Maple reactors? Linda Keen being fired? All that and more you can see at Impolical's Power House index of the Isotope Crisis."

the Isotope Crisis. While you're there you can relive the old times! Who can forget Lisa Raitt saying "Cancer is Sexy"? Or Jasmine Macdonell's taped Lisa Raitt? Or Chalk River Maple reactors Linda KeenIsotopes crisis href="">medical Isotopes shortage

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More on Shona Holmes

Shona Holmes has received notoriety in recent days for doing a commercial for an American lobby group in which she claims that she had a brain tumour that threatened her life, that her treatment was delayed in Ontario, and that she had to pay for her own treatment:
"I am a Canadian citizen, and as my brain tumour [sic] got worse, my government health-care system told me I had to wait six months to see a specialist," Holmes says in the commercial. "In six months I would have died."
She is suing the Ontario government for her costs.

Her story, however, is quickly falling apart. She did not have a tumour, but a cyst, as her testimonial at the Mayo clinic shows (link; archive). And, it seems, it was her vision that was threatened, not her life.

So what's the deal? Was Ms. Holmes confused about her own diagnosis and prognosis? This is, I'm afraid, not likely.

Creative Revolution points out that Shona Holme's lawsuit is being funded by the Canadian Constitution Federation, a political advocacy group that funds right-wing legal challenges (they were profiled in the Toronto Star). The CCF's wikipedia article has recently been scrubbed, but if you know the right people you can see both the original article and all of the edits that produced it. Here is what was added on 13 June 2008 by user jamesmclean23:

Shona Holmes

Who is jamesmclean23? Creative Revolution points out that there is a James Mclean who is co-author of a CCF study, and in the June 2008 CCF newsletter (pdf), a James McLean is described as a CCF staff researcher, at exactly the time the above edits were made to wikipedia article.

The point? A staff-member of the group funding Shona Holmes' lawsuit against the province of Ontario wrote of Holmes' prognosis thus (my emphasis in red):
Shona Holmes was told she would lose her vision forever, unless surgeons immediately removed her growing brain tumour. But Ontario's government monopoly health care system told Shona whe would have to wait for months just to see specialists and obtain treatment. Not willing to risk permanent blindness, Shona obtained surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona. Within ten days, her vision was completely restored.
Given that the only way Mr. McLean would know what Shona Holmes was told was from Ms. Holmes herself, we have here a serious discrepancy, since this is not the story that Holmes told Americans, where she claimed to be facing death, not blindness.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Contest: Name that tune for Harper's Power House

Impolitical, as many have noticed, has pulled together a great index thread for the Isotope Crisis. While you're there you can relive the old times! Who can forget Lisa Raitt saying "Cancer is Sexy"? Or Jasmine Macdonell's taped conversations with Lisa Raitt? Or heavy water leaks? Maple reactors? Linda Keen being fired? All that and more you can see at her index thread for the Isotope Crisis. It's reminiscent, isn't it, of a "greatest hits" album?

This all reminded me of the old TV commercials for K-Tel. So I thought it would be fun to put one together. And you can contribute by suggesting a tune! Enter early, enter often. The best entry will win a prize — Canadian Cynic will say something nice about the winner. (Or maybe he won't, I don't really know.)

Anyway, here's the cover art. Go to town!

the Isotope Crisis. While you're there you can relive the old times! Who can forget Lisa Raitt saying "Cancer is Sexy"? Or Jasmine Macdonell's taped Lisa Raitt? Or Chalk River Maple reactors Linda Keen

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Open letter to Russ Hiebert about the CHRC, Dean Steacy, and wifi hacking allegations

Dear Mr. Hiebert,

In a recent letter to the National Post you wrote the following.
    Further, uncontradicted expert evidence presented before the hearing demonstrated that investigator Steacy illegitimately used an unsuspecting private citizen's wireless Internet service to post his offensive comments.
This contains several mistakes.

You are referring to the allegation that on Dec. 8, 2006, Dean Steacy logged into Stormfront using the IP

The "expert evidence" to which you refer is that of a Bell technician who testified on March 25, 2008. If you had bothered to read the transcripts of that testimony, you would know that he did not testify that Steacy had used "a private citizen's wireless internet service to post his offensive comments". Rather, he merely identified the Bell customer who had control of the IP on Dec. 8. He said nothing about that person's wireless, nor about any posts made by anyone anywhere. That is all the supposition, speculation, and conspiratorial fantasy accumulated at extremist blogs and discussion sites in the weeks following that hearing.

Nor, in fact, did Steacy post any comments at all on Dec. 8, as you say, much less offensive ones. Steacy's pseudonym, jadewarr, has only ever made one comment at Stormfront, on Sept. 15, 2006. (It's not offensive, by the way.) Steacey posted nothing on Dec. 8; he merely logged in on that date.

So you can see, although you are correct to say that the "expert evidence" of the Bell technician is uncontradicted, the allegation of wifi-hacking has been investigated by the privacy commissioner and dismissed as likely the result of "a mismatch on the part of a third party".

So in a single sentence above you have made at least three factual errors: the expert testimony said nothing about anyone's wireless; Steacy did not post any comments on the day in question; and the whole allegation has been contradicted by the privacy commissioner.

Everyone, of course, makes mistakes. You, however, are offering this error-filled sentence -- and these are not your only errors -- to rebut claims that you had been misinformed. Did you actually read any of this material?

All of this, however, raises an even more problematic aspect of your recent performance. You chair the Parliamentary Subcommittee for International Human Rights (SIHR), which is a subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (FAAE). As Chair you have held hearings on Canadian Human Rights Commission. Why is it that your committee is delving into the CHRC at all? To compare how Human Rights is handled in Canada as opposed to other states? Or was the point to provide a platform whereby defamatory allegations could be made in privileged circumstances?




Other posts relevant to this controversy:

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Index to impolitical's istope posts

One of the best bloggers on the progressive side of the blogosphere is impolitical, whose posts are a model of careful collection of material, accurate reporting, and sound analysis. There is, also, a soupçon of policy wonkiness.

One issue that impolitical has been following carefully in recent months has been the collection of collection of mishaps associated with Chalk River, Lisa Raitt, and the production of medical isotopes.

It struck me that an index of all her posts would be worth having. So here it is. Enjoy!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Harper's protocol breach

As Impolitical and Galloping Beaver pointed out earlier today and others today, Harper decided that the troops should salute him before the Governor General at the Canada Day celebration. And, as Jason Kenney makes clear in the following clip, the decision to do so was Harpers, no one elses.
Update. More commentary on this at Impolitical.