Friday, June 26, 2009

Finally, a Lame Official Answer on Whether the Canadian Embassy has Helped Wounded Protesters in Iran

From Foreign Affairs Canada:

Dear Bill Amos,

In response to your concerns regarding the situation in Iran, we would like to share the following with you:

Reports on Saturday that the Canadian Embassy in Iran was turning away people seeking sanctuary are false. The Embassy was closed Saturday and there were no Canadians at the Embassy when the protests began.

We have been advised by other embassies in Tehran that they did not provide shelter to injured Iranians, as has been alleged.

Embassy staff has made every attempt to ensure services, particularly consular, remain unaffected by the situation.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, including the Canadian Embassy in Tehran, continues to provide consular assistance to Canadian citizens in-person, on the phone and through email.

In case of emergency consular assistance regarding Canadian citizens in Iran, please contact the Embassy of Canada in Tehran at 98 (21) 8152-0000 or the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada’s Emergency Operations Centre by calling collect to 613-996-8885 or by sending an email to

Hardly impressive.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

An email appeal to clarify our Embassy's duties in Iran

Dear Prime Minister Harper and Minister Cannon,

As a concerned Canadian, I urge you to immediately clarify whether our embassy in Tehran is or is not helping wounded and injured protesters in Iran, and if we are not, to immediately change course and do so. The situation is clouded in confusion and many Canadians are demanding accurate information about what our country is doing to help these courageous Iranians who are exercising their democratic and human rights.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Our Shame in Tehran

All day long twitterers and Facebook users have been trying to determine if the Canadian embassy was going to join embassies from Australia, Belgium, Britain, Poland, Norway, Mexico, The Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Slovenia, and Switzerland and provide much-needed aid to injured and wounded protesters in Tehran.

There was never a clear answer, and it turned out the embassy was never open on Saturday. It was early Sunday but had no medical personnel on hand to provide any meaningful help. In fact, quoting -- "Foreign Affairs says that Canadian embassies do not normally offer asylum to individuals abroad but will provide temporary safe haven if there is an immediate threat or injury."

Other twitterers who actually contacted the embassy said Canadians could get help, but not Iranians. By Sunday morning Tehran time, the issue became moot as access to most embassies apparently was blocked by the Basij -- the self-styled Iranian militia.

The whole issue reveals how lame we have become as a democratic nation. Canada, once a beacon for other countries, is now a bystander, that may or may not be of any good to those courageous enough to stand up to tyranny who may be desperate for aid. It makes this Canadian feel quite ashamed.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Defence of Luongo

Let me preface this by saying I am a long-suffering Chicago Blackhawk fan, since I was entranced by watching flickering black-and-white images of Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Glenn Hall work their magic at old Chicago Stadium. So when Roberto the previously half-divine goalie let in seven goals the other night, propelling my team over his, I felt very satisfied.

But, today's Vancouver Sun headline -- "The Case for Letting Luongo Go" -- and all the bleating from wounded Canuck fans about trading him, does him a grave injustice. All the third period of game six between the Hawks and Canucks proved was that Luongo is still not a mature playoff performer, and the high-risk decision to make him team Captain was probably a mistake.

In that period, he let himself get flustered by being run by Byfuglien and other Hawks -- which should be expected in a deciding game -- and probably let himself get even more frustrated over the irritations of imperfect or incompetent refereeing. Rattled, he began shrinking back into his crease, making himself more vulnerable to the Chicago snipers. And so the Canucks bowed out.

But, if he is as smart as he has shown himself at times to be, that may have been the best lesson he could ever learn. A hard one for the fans to swallow, no doubt, but he should be given the chance to show he's learned it, not run out of town. It should be noted that the Canucks, who, remember, didn't even make the playoffs last year, wouldn't have been there without him.

And this sudden Luongo-baiting also reveals more of the fickleness and impatience of Vancouver fans. They didn't take Chicago seriously as an opponent, now they're mad at their idol, who has only proven to be human after all.

BC Election Post-mortem

Well it's over. The dullest Provincial Election campaign in the 20+ years I've been in BC. Gordon Campbell droning on about not rocking the boat or changing horses in this economy, Carole James harping about Gordo and his insider friends selling out B.C. and the Greens being their usual ineffectual selves. It could and probably should have been a better opportunity for James to make a breakthrough. She tried, and she did better after the debate in which Campbell sounded condescending about what a tough job he had, but she just seemed too much like a well-meaning School Trustee and not enough like a get-things-done woman (like a left-leaning Thatcher, maybe?) to really catch on.

When the campaign's focus shifted from how Carole seemed to be selling out environmentalists on the gas tax to how she was going to hike up the price of beer, it became obvious who was controlling the public agenda and how it would turn out. Serious topics, unfortunately, were not to be dealt with.

So why should we be surprised over the 52% turnout? We were all lulled into complacency. Gordon may have had a slight scare by not getting more than 50 seats in the ledge, but anyone who thinks humility will transform the man is dreaming. We're getting four more years of the same. More privatized rivers, longer waits in Emergency and more corporate influence. And we only have ourselves to blame by not waking up from this sleepy sideshow.

Friday, May 1, 2009

More on the BC Vote

Rafe Mair -- hardly known as a primary left winger in this province, sure has a hate on for the Campbell Liberals. There's some good food for thought on his website.

For Rafe, it's all about protecting our water and salmon and averting a wholesale sell-off of our resources to private enterprise. Wait-- haven't we just been living through a bad time with market forces spinning out of control? Hmmmm........

Friday, April 24, 2009

The BC Election

All we seemed to hear about for the first week of the BC Election campaign was how Carole James has put herself in hot water by opposing the Provincial Carbon Tax. There's been precious little reporting about how public health care has been deteriorating for years in BC or how Gordon Campbell's cherished Vancouver Convention Center has hemorraged more money than the fast ferries or how anyone wanting to launch a major lawsuit in the province has to spend thousands of dollars in court costs (which no one else in the country would have to pay)or how the closure of dozens of Provincial Jails in the province impacted the fight against crime or.... well should I go on?

The BC Media can be lazy and indolent once the major players -- The Vancouver Sun, CKNW, Global News -- have decided which buttons they want to push, and they seem to be lolling about in the doldrums again. Now that they have the Carole James Carbon Tax bone wedged in their mouths they won't spit it out. This of course is the exact opposite of what we were hearing about the Carbon Tax last year, when Gordon Campbell was regarded as a moron for imposing a few more cents on the ever-increasing price of gas. Then James was almost seen as a visionary for breaking with the environmental lobby and going against it. So now that gas is cheaper and she won't abandon her position she's being pilloried. What was she supposed to do -- change course again? That would have brought her under even more fire.

Hopefully now the Canucks are in a lull until their next series, the NDP can sharpen the focus of its campaign and we can move beyond this one-trick pony issue.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

BCIT Broadcast Journalism Blog

Check out the blog run by BCIT's Broadcast Journalism students... including stories and audio posted by student reporters for Evolution 107.9, BCIT's radio station.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Gang Crime

What's been happening in Greater Vancouver for the past couple of months has been coming for a long time. When I first arrived here more than 20 years ago, I could not believe the leniency of the Justice system in B.C.

First of all the fact that police do not lay charges against people accused of crimes in this province to some extent weakens the system. It creates a sense among prosecutors that they will only go into court with "winnable" cases, and so they tend to shy away from prosecutions that might prove challenging, preferring to plea-bargain many times instead. And because the prisons and jails here are so overcrowded (because there aren't enough of them) another tendency has developed-- to avoid sentencing people to incarceration. When Gordon Campbell famously closed a number of Provincial Court facilities and cut back on prosecutors there was a further erosion of the system.

When gang members are sentenced to 18 months or less for firing off guns in crowded night clubs or when they can get two-for-one "credit" for time served while awaiting trial, it seems to me the balance has shifted too far in their favour.

I recall a conversation I had with Wally Oppal when he was the Chief Justice of the BC Court of Appeal, before he became B.C.'s Attorney-General. He pooh-poohed any notion that judges might be too light in sentencing, putting the blame largely on Parliament for encouraging them to avoid sending people to prison. He didn't seem to have much tolerance for people calling for tougher sentences.

Now that he is a public servant he is of course wearing a different hat, but it's been too late to avoid what's been coming. The fact is the gangsters shooting up our streets have no fear of anyone in legitimate authority. And it may be some time before they do again.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I am sure I am not alone here, but could anyone appeal more to ignorance than a Republican? Bobby Jindal's response to Obama's speech on Tuesday was so incredibly lame it was unbelievable.

First he delivered it like he was teaching a Sunday School class or something (maybe that says something about the reading level of a Republican?) and then he trotted out the argument that you can't trust "the govvament" to do anything -- a la the way Katrina was handled in his home state of Louisiana.

But hold on -- first of all in that case, he was talking about a Republican government under George W., and second, where would his state be without that Federal aid? Wasn't that the problem during Katrina, that they weren't getting enough help quickly enough, from the Feds? Does he really think people are that stupid?

Also -- the optics of having a "Republican of colour" follow Obama seemed a little like "me-too-ism" -- especially when his is hardly the party of the minority!

On the plus side, we can only hope the GOP continues to fall on its collective sword with this approach.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

First Post

Hello People

I am starting a blog that will follow Canadian and US news and politics and the latest trends in Journalism. I am generally left-of centre, except on crime issues, so I consider myself fairly mainstream. All comments are welcome.