The Electric Pencil

Posts Tagged ‘Canada

Does Canada filter journalists, Rendon-style?

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Normally a piece like this wouldn’t make me think twice: of course, as Canadian Press reports, the Canadian government keeps a close eye on what is being written out of Afghanistan by Canadian journalists. The extent of it may seem excessive, but we already know that this government is incredibly tight when it comes to media relations.

What I wonder, though, is what they are doing with all this information once they filter it through six different government bodies? Is there some kind of Rendon-style ranking system carried out by the government? How does it impact who gets embedded, who gets leaks, who’s invited to sensitive press briefings, etc? The article notes that the Privy Office has directly approved or nixed interviews, but doesn’t go so far as to link type of coverage with access.

CP says it got its information through an Access to Information request; hopefully they’ll be digging a little bit deeper…


Written by Tim McSorley

September 14, 2009 at 12:22 am

Canada, les mines, et le coup d’état au Honduras

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Il y a beaucoup de nouvelles qui circulent à propos du coup d’état dimanche dernier au Honduras. Ce matin au Lendemain de la veille nous avons ajouter au discussion de notre propre façon. Ma collègue à l’émission, Sabine Friesinger, a accueilli en studio Antonio Artuso, un colombo-montréalais qui est membre du Comité citoyen contre le coup d’état au Honduras. Il touche sur plusieurs aspects importants, peut-être le plus important étant la complicité des gouvernements canadien et étatsunien dans ce débacle.

À propos du positionement du gouvernment Canadien dans le coup d’état: “Les intérêts pour le Canada au Honduras sont trois grandes mines: Goldcorp, Breakwater et Yamaha.” (vers 6 minutes)″

Written by Tim McSorley

July 2, 2009 at 10:59 pm

Immigration reversal?

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Would a Liberal government spell the end of the changes brought in by Bill C-50?

The controversial law changing the rules of the immigration game in Canada was enacted over the spring. Roundly criticised by all opposition parties and immigration rights advocates, the bill passed when the Liberal party abstained rather than bring down the government over the bill.

Today, the Liberal leader Stephane Dion, speaking at a breakfast with the Chinese community in Richmond, B.C., said that a Liberal government could do away with those changes.

From La Presse:

«Au printemps dernier, le gouvernement conservateur a donné des pouvoirs discrétionnaires très importants au ministre de l’Immigration, ce qui lui permet de rejeter d’office toute une catégorie de demandes, a rappelé M. Dion. Quand je serai premier ministre, je reviendrai immédiatement sur ces décisions injustes et dangereuses pour notre système d’immigration.»

[My translation: Last spring, the Conservative government gave the Immigration Ministry significant discretionary powers, allowing it to reject and entire category of requests,” Dion reminded the crowd. “When I am Prime Minister, I will immediately revisit these decisions, which are unjust and dangerous for our immigration system]

It is good to see that the Liberals have not forgotten the fact that they allowed these tighter and discriminatory laws go through. Even better would be to have voted against them in the first place, so that those who have already been affected by the government’s new rules would not have had to go through the process of finding their applications facing arbitrary rejection (although passed in May, the new laws apply to all applications since Feb. 27 2008).

An earlier post explaining Bill C-50, which granted the Immigration Ministry sweeping discretionary powers to reject or accept potential new immigrants based primarily on economic reasons.

Dion also took the opportunity to announce $800 million in promised funding for immigration and new immigrants. A detailed list of the proposal can be found in the La Presse article linked to above.

Written by Tim McSorley

September 13, 2008 at 5:11 pm

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Image already trumping issues

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Vincent Marrissal has it right this morning. The La Presse political columnist points out that he can’t remember a more negative start to an election campaign, with nearly all leaders, except perhaps Elizabeth May of the Green Party, going negative in the first two days of campaigning. He chalks it up to the image setters (or, conversely, the image breakers, as he puts it) – those PR gurus who help party leaders set their messages and frame their campaigns. But he leaves a big part of the equation out: the media’s willingness to play into the trap. Within all the attacks yesterday, there were some important policy questions that came up: Stephane Dion, going hard on Harper, legitimately called into question whether or not our gun control policies are working when Kimveer Gill can get his hands on a semi-automatic weapon and shoot fellow students and teachers at Dawson College. Stephen Harper, tearing into Dion and side-swiping Gordon Campbell over carbon taxes opened up a window for an actual analysis and debate on how to protect the environment and at the same time allay the population’s economic concerns.

The picture above, though, is the above the fold of today’s La Presse. More Julie Couillard, and an exposé on a Conservative candidate (in my hometown riding, no less) who is a member of Opus Dei, the secretive Catholic sect that sprang to notriety through the Dan Brown novel/movie sensation The Da Vinci Code.

Marrissal probably had little idea of what his newspaper would look like the next day as he wrote his column, but hopefully it will lead to a little self-reflection on their own election coverage.

Parliament Passes Bill C-50: Tories continue to remake Canada in their own image

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When I started up this blog, I had little intention to post so much about what bill the government happened to be passing when. But then again, I didn’t expect the Conservatives to be pushing through so many controversial pieces of legislation, particularly as a minority government.

It began in 2006, when the Tories, flush with a $13.2 billion surplus, eliminated funding for the Court Challenges Program, the Medical Marijuana Research Program and cut drastically from the Status of Women commission, among other programs. Because these were part of the budget implementation bill, it was a confidence vote. The Liberals, smarting from their election loss and unwilling to campaign on issues they believed could pigeonhole them as left-wingers, let it all pass. They made sure to voice exactly how much they disagreed with the changes, but stated they would fight the Tories another day. (IMAGE: Immigration Minister Diane Finley smiles as she votes in favour of Bill C-50. Image from

Two years later, the Conservatives have fine-tuned their strategy and are continuing to carve out their version of what Canadian society should look like – despite public outcry to the contrary. From Bill C-10, which would allow the government to withhold much needed tax credits from already produced film and TV shows for being ‘contrary to public policy’ (this being decided by the Heritage Minister), to Bill C-484, which could very likely result in challenges to the right of a woman to chose to have an abortion: the Tories are playing hardball with a Liberal opposition unwilling to take its chances at the polls.

Tonight, though, must be the icing on the cake for Stephen Harper and his government: in a 120-90 vote, the House of Commons passed the final reading of Bill C-50, this year’s budget implementation bill (see the pattern?). Buried not so deep within it though was the real prize: a radical transformation of Canada’s immigration policy that, among other things, will allow the government to place a quota on certain types of immigration applicants, place a priority on economic immigration (limiting the possibility of families being re-united), and grant the Minister of Immigration drastic powers to decide on individual immigration cases.

It’s true that our immigration system is severely flawed, starting with the atrocious waiting times immigrants face due to backlog. But few people outside the Conservative Party and organisations closely linked to the party see this as being an adequate solution – including the Canadian Bar Association. While it may allow for limits to be placed on the number of would-be immigrants waiting for an answer, it is clearly at the expense of who is allowed to immigrate.

I have never been one to believe that Canada’s immigration or refugee system are nearly as utopic and open-hearted as some characterize it. Migrant workers, refugees and immigrants from the Global South have long faced unnecessary hurdles when applying to Canada for residency, but there are other ways to fix this than to impose sweeping changes to how we decides who gets in, particularly when this is based on purely economic grounds. One solution would have been for the Conservatives to actually fill the inordinately high number of vancancies on the Immigration and Refugee board. According to Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland, 57 out of 164 positions on the IRB are unfilled – that’s 35 per cent. These are the people who, according to Kurland, oversee refugee claims, determine eligibility for claimants, preside over detention reviews and hear immigration appeals. The Conservatives have pointed out that the backlog for immigration application is currently 42,300 and will rise to 84,300 in 2010-2011. But what they avoid saying is that the IRB’s own report chalks this drastic increase up to these vacancies.

The bill is now off to the Senate, where it will be rubber stamped. For the record, the NDP and Bloc Quebecois voted against the bill, while the Liberals flapped their arms and and squawked opposition, but still allowed it to pass by disappearing from the parliament floor before the vote took place.

More on Bill C-50:

Written by Tim McSorley

June 9, 2008 at 11:49 pm

War Resisters: Parliament says yes, government says no

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In a significant – although ultimately symbolic – victory, American war resisters who have sought sanctuary in Canada received the support of parliament to stay. After an extensive and hard fought public campaign, U.S. soldiers who have fled their country over their objections to the war in Iraq saw 137 MPs vote to allow them to remain in the country, with only 110 saying they must go.

But the down side is that all 110 votes against came from the Conservative Party, who make up the government. Because the vote was not binding, whether the estimated 200 American war resisters are allowed to stay in the country still remains at the whim of the government, and that government has so far given a resounding no.

The motion in parliament, brought by the New Democratic Party, comes as war resister Corey Glass faces deportation on June 12th. Glass and other resisters have seen their application for refugee status refused, and the courts reject their request for appeal. A central reason for the rejection of their appeals has been the court’s refusal to hear arguments that the war in Iraq is illegal.

And yet, under United Nations guidelines, “Soldiers who refuse to fight in wars that are widely condemned by the international community as contrary to standards of human conduct should be considered as refugees.” It’s hard to believe that the war in Iraq doesn’t fall under this category.

The War Resisters Support Campaign is now asking backers to contact the offices of Immigration Minister Diane Finley and Prime Minister Stephen Harper directly in a last chance bid to let them stay. If deported, many face certain reprisal, including court martial hearings and possible jail time.

Canada has a significant history of providing asylum to American war resisters: Over 30,000 Americans fled to Canada to avoid serving in the Vietnam War, receiving refugee status and many eventually becoming citizens.

Written by Tim McSorley

June 3, 2008 at 7:19 pm

Biofuel bill off to the Senate

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The House of Commons passed the controversial biofuel law, Bill C-33, yesterday afternoon when the Liberal Party backed the Conservatives to carry the vote 173 to 64. The result is only slightly surprising, since the Liberals clearly need to avoid coming off either anti-farmer to keep votes, or anti-agribusiness to keep campaign donations. But there was hope until the last minute that they would switch camps, especially since this wasn’t a confidence measure. The law will most likely sail through the senate, since the Liberals dominate there.

Unsuprisingly, a biofuel industry rep hailed the vote and placed blame for the food crisis on droughts, oil prices and price speculation. That last one is a little surprising though, given that much of the specualtion has arisen because the food is now being used as fuel. Although I guess the agribusiness can’t be directly blamed for what commodity traders do.

Reuters also reports the legislation will create demand for an estimated 2 billion litres of ethanol and 600 million litres of biodiesel.

In any case, it seems like Canada will continue to be part of the biofuel problem and not part of the solution for at least a few more years to come, until we figure out hydrogen or something.

Written by Tim McSorley

May 29, 2008 at 6:39 pm