Election upsets; CSIS secrets exposed; three blind mice can see again:

A1 Headlines and Political Daybook

Election upsets; CSIS secrets exposed; three blind mice can see again: Get an audio summary of what's topping the front pages of papers across the country by clicking on the link below.

Julian Fantino Toronto Sun

You can also get these audio summaries automatically every day via podcast from iTunes or via an RSS feed by subscribing to my AudioBoo stream. Both the iTunes link and the RSS link are at my profile at AudioBoo.fm.

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U.S. spies on Canada; Als again in Grey Cup; West Coast cycling dangers.

A1 Headlines and Political Daybook

Washington spies on Canada; Als again in Grey Cup; and the West Coast's cycling dangers. Get an audio summary of what's topping the front pages of papers across the country by clicking on the link below.

Grey Cup Montreal Alouettes

You can also get these audio summaries automatically every day via podcast from iTunes or via an RSS feed by subscribing to my AudioBoo stream. Both the iTunes link and the RSS link are at my profile at AudioBoo.fm.

Technorati Tags: 


Twitter Redux: CEO of the year; cost of cash machines; most boring day ever

Coming in/going out on the Twitter tide today:

  • ROB Magazine reporter Iain Marlow writes: “They come from very different corners of Canadian business but are united in one goal: to change forever the $17.5-billion domestic wireless service industry. Oh, and to screw Bell, Telus and Rogers in the process. This year’s unprecedented choice of a three-headed CEO of the Year acknowledges the vast changes that have swept through this country’s telecommunications landscape in the past year, as new wireless companies seized government licences and rushed to do battle in an increasingly crowded, fast-changing marketplace. The three are Pierre Karl Péladeau of Quebecor Inc., Anthony Lacavera of Globalive Communications Corp., and Jim Shaw of Shaw Communications Inc. ”

    Hey look at that: The Globe and Mail says my boss is one those sharing CEO-of-the-Year honours: #SunNews

  • Economist, UWO lecturer, and Twitterer Mike Moffatt says the opportunity cost (lost interest) for banks for keeping all of its ATMs stocked with money is about $3,000 a year. Hmm.

    Conversations with a banker: ATMs and the Money Supply – Worthwhile Canadian Initiative

  • Former OPP commissioner Julian Fantino wants to be an MP.

    Christie Blatchford wonders if Julian Fantino is really the right guy for a conservative “little guy” 

  • Journalism today:

    Though @ wrote this in '07, it's still my template for how I go about being a journalist  

  • SherriLynne Starkie, an Ottawa-based social media and pr expert, is trying to figure out who, in Ottawa, is most influential on Twitter. She concludes that I am and my good friend Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star. (I rather think Kady O'Malley ought to be on this list but what do I know)

    Indeed. RT @: Now I just have to figure out how to use my powers for good, not evil.  (h/t @).

  • A supercomputer has crunched all the historical data it can in order to answer this important question: 

    April 11, 1954 was the most boring day ever. Computer says so, says @: |

Twitter Redux: Sun News gets TV license; Journalists for Free Expression

Spent the day in transit from meetings this week in Toronto back to Ottawa so was unable to monitor the Twitter tide as much as normal. Still:

  • SUN NEWS got its license today. Conservative blogger Stephen Taylor tweeted:.

    @MargaretAtwood can I get your reaction to today's CRTC approval to Sun TV News?

    And Ms. Atwood replied:

    Hello, naughty @stephen_taylor: SunMedia TV: Their license is standard, no special deals, sd @DavidAkin to me last nite at CJFE dinner. 🙂

  • My old friend, new grandfather, and columnist for the Calgary Herald and National Post does what I believe is rather effective job at removing himself from Conservative MP Jim's Abbott's Christmas Card list:

    So what did Jim Abbott, who has announced he will not seek re-election, witness on a visit of no apparent value to taxpayers? “I saw Canadian soldiers, diplomats and people involved in development activity who made my heart want to burst with pride over what we as Canadians were doing for the people in Afghanistan and that part of the world.” he bubbled.

    Yup, that’s the classic shower-every-day, cafeteria-grub, feel-good tour the military reserves for protected politicians.

    The only hardship they’ll experience is having jet fighters screech off the Kandahar Airfield runway at 5 a.m.

    BZ RT @BCheadle: Brilliant @dsmartin56 column on #AFGH, eliciting comments (anonymous, of course) beneath contempt.

  • I cover politicians for a living, as you may have heard, but I've only put my name on a ballot once in my life: At the University of Guelph in the late 1980s where I thought I would make a very good president of the Central Students Association, the student union at the university. At the time, the U of G had about 13,000 students and I would need to win enough votes from them to send me on the way to a political career. Standing in the way: A certain Ms. Jaye Robinson, a very pleasant and popular woman who had spent her first years in school working the political trenches of student life, as it were, trying to improve life in the university's student residences. I, on the other hand, had spent my time at Guelph up until that time as a DJ at one of the campus pubs and at any big campus parties. Jaye cleaned my clock. I got the message that perhaps politics wasn't for me and ended up running the student paper. I mention all of this to say I'm so pleased to see that Jaye is back in politics — as a newly elected Toronto city councillor

    On a ballot just once in my life: for Pres of U of G students assoc. Got whipped by Jaye who @ profiles:

  • Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) works to improve press freedom in Canada and around the world. Every year, it puts on a gala affair at which it honours the courage and dedication of those who fight to tell their stories or who fight to help journalists tell their stories.

    In T.O.+ privileged to a guest at @'s table for this event tonite
    Also at our table G Gibson, A Nikiforuk, Sylvia Fraser and old NatPost colleague John Geiger

    Hey @: FYI: U of T's Citizen Lab just won award from Cdn Journos For Free Expression.

    [From @OxbloodRuffin] @davidakin Yes, I heard the other day. Couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch.

    Cameroon journalists incl late Bibi Ngota, honoured for their fight against govt oppression

    Carol Off closes gala”You gave the enemies of free speech another bad day”

    @ oh ease up 🙂 We're takin' on African dictators and Mexican drug lords here!

    [@ezralevant replies]So thinking globally, doing nothing locally



The prime minister's prevarications on Afghanistan

In our papers today, I write:

Your mother probably told you two wrongs don’t make a right.

And she was right.

But every rule has its exception, and the exception to this one is Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

On two key issues when it comes to the Afghanistan file, our prime minister told us he’d do one thing before he went and did the other. Those are the two wrongs.

And yet, because of those two wrongs, he ended up doing the right thing:

Keeping Canada in Afghanistan with its NATO allies past 2011. You’ve already read in these pages (I hope) why this new mission is the good one and worthy of our support.

Still, the prime minister’s prevarications ahead of that correct decision has weakened his and his government’s credibility.

Last January, … [Read the rest of the column]

This column follows along from some annotations I made of a Bloc Quebecois motion being debated today in the House of Commons.


Twitter Redux: iPhone war photography, Paradis' coat; Liberal woes

Some stuff that I sent out on the Twitter tide today:

  • New York Times photographer Damon Winter heads out on patrol in Afghanistan with the men and women of First Battalion, 87th Infantry of the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army. But instead of using a $12,000 camera to document a day on the job, he uses his iPhone's camera. (left)Pretty neat.

    NYT photog Damon Winter uses an iPhone for some great pix from the front lines in #AFGH.

  • Harper cabinet minister Christian Paradis can't seem to get a break. Accused by his political opponents of various kinds of skulduggery while he held the public works portfolio, we learned today from a witness at a House of Commons committee that Paradis had his cashmere coat stolen while at a fundraiser in Montreal. The witness was a contractor who organized that fundraiser and organized because — as he told the committee — he felt he had to as a thank you for Paradis' department giving him a big fat government contract. ('Course, his firm was the low bidder and bureaucrats determined he was qualified to do the work so you'd hope, because of those two factors, he'd be the one to get the contract. But I digress …) Because this contractor, Paul Sauve, organized the fundraiser, Paradis' aide phoned him up the day after Paradis' jacket got stolen and, according to Sauve, demanded that he cover the cost of a $5,400 cashmere jacket. Now it turns out, it's damn hard to find a cashmere jacket that costs of $5,400

    @kady Best I could find: US$3,840 for this one: #DressingParadis

    — but that's what Sauve said Paradis' aide said. Then it emerged from Paradis side that it was never $5,400, it was less than $800. And Paradis has both the police report and the receipt to prove it:

    RT @danlebla: Le rapport de police pour le vol du manteau de Christian Paradis, et reçu pour achat d'un manteau en 2006

  • My colleagues at the Ottawa Sun report that the City of Ottawa is about to spend a pile on condoms:

    MT @ottawasuncom: City of #Ottawa to buy 2.3 MILLION condoms next 3 yrs.

  • Canadian Press photographer Tom Hanson was a friend of mine and friend to many on the Parliamentary Precinct. His unexpected death — he collapsed while playing hockey — was a terrible blow to many. In his memory, friends and colleagues established the Tom Hanson Photojournalism award. Nominations/entries are now being accepted online.

    Applications now being accepted online for Tom Hanson Photojournalism Award #media

  • Brigadier General Daniel Menard once commanded all Canadian troops in Afghanistan. Then he had an inappropriate relationship with a female officer. Now he's got to explain it all to a military judge:

    Brig Gen Daniel Menard to be court-martialled for inappropriate conduct in #AFGH

  • After being shouted off the stage by protestors when she tried to talk about her new book about the Caledonia (Ont.) standoff, Christie Blatchford has a new date in Waterloo.

    Blatchford's rescheduled presentation at U of W set for Dec 7

  • No explanation needed:

    RT @nytimes: Corporate Profits Were the Highest on Record Last Quarter

  • Warren Kinsella, Sun columnist and sometimes quarrelsome Liberal, says his old party needs to find a new stick to beat Stephen Harper with. Agreed.

    @kinsellawarren reflects on the fifth anniversary of the last Liberal govt  #cdnpoli

  • Meanwhile, Toronto Star senior political writer Susan Delacourt, who has been covering the Liberals for more than two decades, has her own diagnosis for the Liberal malaise:

    Feels about right to me. RT @SusanDelacourt: The Liberals' woes. My two cents:

  • UK Prime Minister David Cameron's official Twitter feed is @Number10Gov and this poppped up on that feed today:

    RT @Number10gov: Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding on 29 April 2011 to be celebrated with public holiday:

This is the first of what I hope will be frequent (daily, if I can manage it) editions of Twitter Redux. My aim here is to provide a brief summary of things that occupied me on Twitter for those who may have missed it on Twitter the first time around or who simply couldn't be bothered with Twitter and prefer reading blogs like this one. As always, let me know what you think of this idea, in the comments or directly to me by e-mail


Thursday's House of Commons debate: Did Stephen Harper break his word on Afghanistan?

The Bloc Quebecois have just tabled the motion they will present to the House of Commons Thursday (it is their allotted opposition day) for debate and a vote. The Bloc seeks debate and a vote on the following:

That this House condemns the government's decision to unilaterally extend the Canadian mission in Afghanistan until 2014, thus denying two promises made to the people, one made in the House May 10, 2006 (1) and reiterated in the Speech from the Throne from 2007 (2)) to present a vote of Parliament and that any military deployment made January 6, 2010 to the mission in Afghanistan a strictly civil mission after 2011, no military presence other than the care necessary to protect the embassy ((3)).

I have annotated that motion and here are my footnotes:

(1) The Bloc, in this motion, seeks to condemn “the government” decision and the prime minister for, in the Bloc's view, saying one thing and then doing another. By way of background, the government announced last week that Canada will indeed be shutting down its combat mission in Kandahar next year but will then take up a new mission involving training only in Kabul. That mission will involve 950 trainers, will run until 2014 and will cost the Canadian treasury about $700 million a year (including the development budget). Harper has said that while he is open to a Parliamentary debate on the subject, he will not be submitting this plan to Parliament for its approval. Here is Exhibit 1 in the BQ's prosecution of this line of attack, from Hansard, on May 10, 2006:

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who is currently on a trip to Afghanistan, suggested yesterday that Canada might continue its mission there beyond February 2007, the date on which Canada’s present commitment in Afghanistan is to end. Can the Prime Minister make a commitment that any extension of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan will be conditional on a debate and a vote being held here, in this House?

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Bloc knows, as everyone knows, that during the federal election campaign we committed ourselves to holding votes on new commitments. We are already in Afghanistan. Obviously, I prefer to have the support of all parties in this House for this important mission. I hope that the Bloc Québécois will support us and support our troops in the future as it has in the past.

(2) This was the second Speech from the Throne for the still-young (9 months old) Conservative government. And it contains what seems to be an unequivocal promise from the government on the Afghanistan file and, thus, it forms the Exhibit 2 for the Bloc:

The Canadian Forces mission in Afghanistan has been approved by Parliament until February 2009, and our Government has made clear to Canadians and our allies that any future military deployments must also be supported by a majority of parliamentarians. In the coming session, members will be asked to vote on the future of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan. This decision should honour the dedication and sacrifice of Canada's development workers, diplomats and men and women in uniform. It should ensure that progress in Afghanistan is not lost and that our international commitments and reputation are upheld.

(3) Finally, the Bloc refer not to something Harper said in Parliament but rather something he said to me and the National Post's John Ivison during a New Year's interview earlier this year. I've quoted from this before, but here it is again:

IVISON: Afghanistan — can you elaborate on a military pullout in 2011 actually means? Are we still going to have a Provincial Reconstruction Team? How is CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) going to operate? Do we have any of those answers yet?

HARPER: We have been working on those answers but the bottom line is that the military mission will end in 2011. There will be a phased withdrawal, beginning in the middle of the year. We hope to have that concluded by the end of that year. As you know the Obama administration, not coincidentally, is talking about beginning its withdrawal in 2011, at the same time we are. We will continue to maintain humanitarian and development missions, as well as important diplomatic activity in Afghanistan. But we will not be undertaking any activities that require any kind of military presence, other than the odd guard guarding an embassy. We will not be undertaking any kind activity that requires a significant military force protection, so it will become a strictly civilian mission. It will be a significantly smaller mission than it is today.

Not to pile on or anything, but the Bloc could have tossed in a couple of more exhibits to support its case. Here, for example, Policy Declaration 120, adopted by the Conservative Party of Canada at its 2008 policy convention in Winnipeg:

120. Parliamentary Role in Foreign Affairs The Conservative Party believes that Parliament must be responsible for exercising effective oversight over the conduct of Canadian foreign policy and the commitment of Canadian Forces to foreign operations.

A few months before his party reaffirmed that principle (which it has had since its creation), Harper was in front of the electorate in the 2008 election. He and his party promised:

A re-elected Conservative Government led by Stephen Harper will continue to support Canada's military and development mission in Afghanistan and will respect the terms of the Parliamentary resolution passed in March, 2008. Under this resolution, Canada's military mission in Kandahar will continue until July, 2011 now that that NATO and allied forces have agreed to provide additional troops and resources in Kandahar. Canada's military mission in Afghanistan will cease by the end of 2011.

And, finally, let me quote from the 2006 Conservative election platform (p. 45):

A Conservative government will:
• Make Parliament responsible for exercising oversight over the conduct of Canadian foreign policy and the commitment of Canadian Forces to foreign operations.


The Irish press on the troubles they're having with useless gobshites

Irish Times Cartoon

It's not going well right now for the government of Ireland and the press in that country are teeing off in no uncertain terms on Prime Minister (or Taoiseach) Brian Cowen and his cabinet. The Sunday Independent, the top-selling paper in that country, had the following across the top of its front page (which reaches, it says, 992,000 readers):

Irish Sunday Independent

Irish Star Gobshites

Today, The Globe and Mail's European correspondent Doug Saunders tips us via Twitter to more outrage on the front pages of the Ireland's dailies. First, an editorial cartoon published on the front page, above the fold, of The Irish Times (above) rather neatly sums things up. Then there's the front page of the Irish Daily Star. Saunders helpfully snapped a pic (left) and posted it on Twitter.  This will  surely be the envy of tabloid writers at our company and anywhere else.


Heritage Minister Moore to Edmonton re: Expo 2017 funding request: "Nope"

Heritage Minister James Moore wrote a letter today to Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel. Edmonton had wanted the federal government to help fund its bid to host Expo 2017. Here is an excerpt of the letter Moore wrote, provided by Moore's staff. (Read the full text of the letter):

“A key element of the next phase of our Government’s Economic Action Plan will be to return to balanced budgets. As the Minister of Finance emphasized last Friday, our Government will not make significant new government spending commitments. We simply cannot afford the risk of running large deficits longer than necessary.

This means we have to make some difficult decisions and one of those decisions is not to proceed with funding a bid to host Expo 2017. Supporting an expo bid would necessitate a federal investment that could reach over $1 billion once we take into account the full cost of security and other federal obligations to host an event of this size.

In this context, it would not be responsible to support a Canadian bid to host an international exhibition in 2017.”

Mandel is furious and is blaming Edmonton MP and Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose.