Texas conservatives reject Harper’s crime plan; ‘Been there; done that; didn’t work,’ say Texas crime-fighters

A state that had the highest incarceration rate in the world and the highest execution rate in the USA. Took awhile ot figure it out but at least people in Texas got it right.

Someone send this to Harper, before he locks up all of Canada.

Conservatives in the United States’ toughest crime-fighting jurisdiction — Texas — say the Harper government’s crime strategy won’t work.

“You will spend billions and billions and billions on locking people up,” says Judge John Creuzot of the Dallas County Court. “And there will come a point in time where the public says, ‘Enough!’ And you’ll wind up letting them out.”

Adds Rep. Jerry Madden, a conservative Republican who heads the Texas House Committee on Corrections, “It’s a very expensive thing to build new prisons and, if you build ’em, I guarantee you they will come. They’ll be filled, OK? Because people will send them there.

The Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice Central Unit seal is painted on the cell block wall in Sugar Land, Texas. The 102-year-old jail is slated for development as Texas reducing its prison population.The Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice Central Unit seal is painted on the cell block wall in Sugar Land, Texas. The 102-year-old jail is slated for development as Texas reducing its prison population. Pat Sullivan/Associated Press

“But, if you don’t build ’em, they will come up with very creative things to do that keep the community safe and yet still do the incarceration necessary.”

These comments are in line with a coalition of experts in Washington, DC, who attacked the Harper government’s omnibus crime package, Bill C-10, in a statement Monday.

“Republican governors and state legislators in such states of Texas, South Carolina, and Ohio are repealing mandatory minimum sentences, increasing opportunities for effective community supervision, and funding drug treatment because they know it will improve public safety and reduce taxpayer costs,” said Tracy Velázquez, executive director of the Washington-based Justice Policy Institute.

“If passed, C-10 will take Canadian justice policies 180-degrees in the wrong direction, and Canadian citizens will bear the costs.”

A state with a record

On a recent trip to Texas, an array of conservative voices told CBC News that Texas tried what Canada plans to do – and it failed.

As recently as 2004, Texas had the highest incarceration rate in the world, with fully one in 20 of its adult residents behind bars or on parole or probation. The Lone Star state still has the death penalty, with more than 300 prisoners on death row today. But for three decades, as crime rates fell all over the U.S., the rate in Texas fell at only half the national average.

That didn’t change the policy — but its cost did.

Faced with a budget crisis in 2005, the Texas statehouse was handed an estimate of $2 billion to build new prisons for a predicted influx of new prisoners.

They told Rep. Madden to find a way out. He and his committee dug into the facts. Did all those new prisoners really need to go to jail? And did all of those already behind bars really need to be there?

‘We can’t ignore the fact that our “tough on crime” stance that puts a person in prison and assumes that their drug problem will somehow magically disappear while they’re incarcerated and they’ll never get out again and offend, is ridiculous!’—Dr. Teresa May-Williams, forensic psychologist

Madden’s answer was, no. He found that Texas had diverted money from treatment and probation services to building prisons. But sending people to prison was costing 10 times as much as putting them on probation, on parole, or in treatment.

“It was kinda silly, what we were doing,” says Madden. Then, he discovered that drug treatment wasn’t just cheaper — it cut crime much more effectively than prison.

That was the moment, he says, when he knew: “My colleagues are gonna understand this. The public is gonna understand this…The public will be safer and we will spend less money!”

His colleagues agreed. Texas just said no to the new prisons.

Instead, over the next few years, it spent a fraction of the $2 billion those prisons would have cost — about $300 million — to beef up drug treatment programs, mental health centres, probation services and community supervision for prisoners out on parole.

It worked. Costs fell and crime fell, too. Now, word of the Canadian government’s crime plan is filtering down to Texas and it’s getting bad reviews.

Marc Levin, a lawyer with an anti-tax group called Right on Crime, argues that building more prisons is a waste of taxpayers’ money.

“We’ve see a double-digit decline in the last few years in Texas, both in our prison incarceration rate and, most importantly in our crime rate,” says Levin.

“And the way we’ve done it is by strengthening some of the alternatives to prison.”

The statistics bear him out. According to the Texas Department of Corrections, the rate of incarceration fell 9 per cent between 2005 and 2010. In the same period, according to the FBI, the crime rate in Texas fell by 12.8 per cent.

By contrast, Levin says, the Canadian government has increased the prison budget sharply, even though crime in Canada is down to its lowest level since 1973.

In fact, federal spending on corrections in Canada has gone up from $1.6 billion in 2005-06, when Stephen Harper’s Conservatives took power, to $2.98 billion in 2010-1011. That’s an increase of 86 per cent. Soon, it will double.

The Harper government has already increased prison sentences by scrapping the two-for-one credit for time served waiting for trial. Bill C-10 would add new and longer sentences for drug offences, increase mandatory minimums and cut the use of conditional sentences such as house arrest.

In each case, Texas is doing the opposite.

So are several other states — egged on by a group of hardline conservatives who have joined the Right on Crime movement. These include Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, the tax-fighter Grover Norquist and the former Attorney General for President Ronald Reagan, Ed Meese.

That’s not a list of liberals. Marc Levin says Canada is out of step with the best conservative thinking south of the border.

“We’ve seen in the United States, states and conservative leaders moving in a much different direction than the Conservative Party is saying in Canada,” he says.

“I think the conservative thing to do is to be cost-effective and to hold offenders accountable. And, frankly, for many of them, they go to prison, they don’t pay child support, they don’t have to work in the private sector, they don’t pay restitution — I don’t believe that’s holding people accountable.”

Hugging criminals? In Texas?

What Levin means by accountability is what happens at Judge John Creuzot’s drug court in Dallas.

Thieves, drug addicts and drunk drivers must file into Creuzot’s courtroom each week as a condition of their sentences. They’re on probation with the threat of prison hanging over them. They must prove they are keeping up with their drug treatment.

Judge Creuzot cajoles, threatens and lectures them to stick with the program – but he also rewards them when they succeed. If they graduate from treatment, clean and sober, he holds an awards ceremony in his courtroom. Then, he gives them a big, back-slapping Texas hug.

“Congratulations, bro!” he says as he wraps his arms around a hulking ex-addict. “Proud of ya!” he says as he hugs another and places a medal around her neck.

Hugs? From a judge in the state that gave us chain gangs?

It’s not your father’s Texas. But Judge Creuzot isn’t all hugs. He renders a blunt verdict when he is asked what’s wrong with the Harper government’s plan to get criminals off Canadian streets.

“Nothing, if you don’t mind spending a lot of money locking people up and seeing your crime rate go up! Nothing wrong with it at all!”

Creuzot says prison just doesn’t work as well as the less expensive methods he uses — because, one way or another, drugs and alcohol lie at the root of 80 per cent of crimes.

“What we’ve learned,” he says, “is that if you deal with those underlying issues with the proper assessments up front, doing that before you make a sentencing decision … and you fund programs that will deal with that on a long-term basis, that you avoid sending thousands of people to prison.”

Prison trustees work to dismantle cubicle walls in a dormitory at the Central Unit prison in Sugar Land, Texas in August, as the facility made famous in Leadbelly's blues classic 'Midnight Special' closed its doors. Prison trustees work to dismantle cubicle walls in a dormitory at the Central Unit prison in Sugar Land, Texas in August, as the facility made famous in Leadbelly’s blues classic ‘Midnight Special’ closed its doors. Pat Sullivan/Associated Press But isn’t all the treatment expensive?

“It’s less expensive!” Creuzot snaps. “We had a university do a cost-benefit analysis. And every dollar we spend is worth $9 and 34 cents in avoided criminal justice costs.”

Other studies in Texas agree that treatment and probation services cost about one tenth of what it costs to build and run prisons. Besides that, offenders emerge much less likely to commit fresh crimes than those with similar records who go to prison.

Getting results

At Phoenix House, a drug treatment centre in Wilmer, just south of Dallas, Dr. Teresa May-Williams is a forensic psychologist, paid to assess the risk of letting offenders out on parole or in treatment. She’s found that prison is even riskier.

“We can’t ignore the fact that our ‘tough on crime’ stance that puts a person in prison and assumes that their drug problem will somehow magically disappear while they’re incarcerated and they’ll never get out again and offend, is ridiculous!” she says.

Dr. May-Williams says most offenders with drug or alcohol problems quickly resume their criminal lifestyle when they get out of prison.

“The data showed that 60 per cent of those individuals will be out and committing a new crime in, on average, about 11 months.”

That’s four times the rate of those who go through her six-month program instead.

“A big focus of it is getting their drug problem under control,” she says, “and then beginning to work on education, job training, getting them employed, getting them focused on becoming a tax payer rather than a tax user. The recidivism rate for probation, the same kind of offender, is somewhere around 15-16 per cent.”

A ‘hopeless’ case

Equally striking is that even the hardest cases can respond to court-ordered treatment.

Kathryn Griffin, by her own account, was a “hopeless” case.

Loquacious, loud and candid, Griffin had six felonies on her record — for drug possession and prostitution — so she was facing 35 years to life in jail when she came to court in Dallas, yet again.

“I’m a person who had a $30,000 a month cocaine habit for 22 years!” she says. But, “I am totally clean and sober today.”

And she’s stayed clean for eight years — because, she says, she was a “guinea pig” in what was, back then, a new experiment: drug court.

The judge gave her a choice: get clean in drug treatment or flunk out — and die in prison.

She made it. Now, she has a job counselling street prostitutes, pays taxes and tells anyone who will listen that Texas, too, has changed its ways.

“What I like about this state and our government is they are willing to listen, look, study, learn and see results.”

Left, right and middle-of-the-road Texans are recommending that Canada do the same — and the Conservatives most of all.

Canada urged to arrest President George W.Bush on B.C visit

Former U.S. president George W. Bush speaks at the Summit to Save Lives on Sept. 13, 2011, in Washington, DC.

Former U.S. president George W. Bush speaks at the Summit to Save Lives on Sept. 13, 2011, in Washington, DC.

Brendan Hoffman/GETTY IMAGES

Do not pass go. Do not collect $150,000.

That’s the message from international human rights groups to former U.S. president George W. Bush — a popular, high-rolling guest speaker — when he arrives in Surrey, B.C., for a regional economic conference on Thursday.

Amnesty International wants Canada to hand him a “go to jail card” on charges of directing torture during the CIA’s secret detention programs between 2002 and 2009.

Canada has ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture, and the Canadian Criminal Code says that anyone suspected of torture can be arrested and subject to criminal investigation when he enters the country.

But it’s not going to happen, says Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

He accused Amnesty of “cherry picking” its accusations against Bush, and mounting an ideologically motivated “stunt” that “helps explain why so many respected human rights advocates have abandoned Amnesty International.”

Alex Neve, who heads Amnesty in Canada, retorted that “what motivates our work is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and we apply it universally. International law makes it clear that when a country is unwilling or unable to launch a case, other countries can fill the void. No country or person should be above the law.”

Amnesty is one of several human rights organizations that contend Canada can and should launch a criminal investigation of anyone who lands in the country and is suspected of torture.

They include Human Rights Watch, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights and the Canadian Centre for International Justice, which filed a 70-page legal brief summarizing “4,000 pages of evidence of the widespread use of torture under the authorization and direction of G.W. Bush as President of the U.S. and Commander-in-chief of the U.S. Armed Forces.”

They cite the U.S. use of torture techniques during Bush’s term in office, including waterboarding, allegations of torture of Guantanamo Bay detainees, and enforced disappearances.

Bush himself has admitted to authorizing waterboarding — or simulated drowning — of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, and said “I’d do it again to save lives.”

Although rights groups in the U.S. have found little traction for a prosecution against Bush, other countries might use the torture convention to claim jurisdiction if he travels there.

Last February, Bush hastily cancelled a visit to Switzerland — the home of the Geneva Conventions — after arrest threats. But his former vice-president, Dick Cheney, carried on with a promotional book tour to Vancouver in September in spite of similar calls from human rights advocates to apprehend him.

For high-profile former officials on the lucrative celebrity speaking circuit, such embarrassment could be bad for business.

Talk may be cheap, but ex-presidents can command as much as $1 million a speech — a record set by Ronald Reagan in Japan. Bill Clinton tops the current list of must-haves with prices up to $350,000.

Bush, who won the Plain English Campaign’s Foot in Mouth lifetime achievement award, has pulled in some $15 million in speaking fees since leaving the Oval Office, a former spokesman told iWatch.

So far, Bush has not responded to the arrest calls in Canada, which he has visited on earlier occasions. Ottawa, which considers itself America’s closest ally, has made it clear that he has little to fear.

But according to Charlie Smith, editor of the Vancouver-based Georgia Straight, “Cheney attracted a sizeable protest here and I have a hunch this time it will be bigger.”

Plans for a protest outside the Sheraton hotel where Bush will be staying are swirling on the Internet, said Smith, who has covered Canadian attempts to arrest members of the Bush administration for several years.

“The Occupy Vancouver protest begins on Saturday,” he said. “Occupy Surrey is Thursday.”

Do not pass go. Do not collect $150,000.

That’s the message from international human rights groups to former U.S. president George W. Bush — a popular, high-rolling guest speaker — when he arrives in Surrey, B.C., for a regional economic conference on Thursday.

Amnesty International wants Canada to hand him a “go to jail card” on charges of directing torture during the CIA’s secret detention programs between 2002 and 2009.

Canada has ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture, and the Canadian Criminal Code says that anyone suspected of torture can be arrested and subject to criminal investigation when he enters the country.

But it’s not going to happen, says Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

He accused Amnesty of “cherry picking” its accusations against Bush, and mounting an ideologically motivated “stunt” that “helps explain why so many respected human rights advocates have abandoned Amnesty International.”

Alex Neve, who heads Amnesty in Canada, retorted that “what motivates our work is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and we apply it universally. International law makes it clear that when a country is unwilling or unable to launch a case, other countries can fill the void. No country or person should be above the law.”

Amnesty is one of several human rights organizations that contend Canada can and should launch a criminal investigation of anyone who lands in the country and is suspected of torture.

They include Human Rights Watch, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights and the Canadian Centre for International Justice, which filed a 70-page legal brief summarizing “4,000 pages of evidence of the widespread use of torture under the authorization and direction of G.W. Bush as President of the U.S. and Commander-in-chief of the U.S. Armed Forces.”

They cite the U.S. use of torture techniques during Bush’s term in office, including waterboarding, allegations of torture of Guantanamo Bay detainees, and enforced disappearances.

Bush himself has admitted to authorizing waterboarding — or simulated drowning — of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, and said “I’d do it again to save lives.”

Although rights groups in the U.S. have found little traction for a prosecution against Bush, other countries might use the torture convention to claim jurisdiction if he travels there.

Last February, Bush hastily cancelled a visit to Switzerland — the home of the Geneva Conventions — after arrest threats. But his former vice-president, Dick Cheney, carried on with a promotional book tour to Vancouver in September in spite of similar calls from human rights advocates to apprehend him.

For high-profile former officials on the lucrative celebrity speaking circuit, such embarrassment could be bad for business.

Talk may be cheap, but ex-presidents can command as much as $1 million a speech — a record set by Ronald Reagan in Japan. Bill Clinton tops the current list of must-haves with prices up to $350,000.

Bush, who won the Plain English Campaign’s Foot in Mouth lifetime achievement award, has pulled in some $15 million in speaking fees since leaving the Oval Office, a former spokesman told iWatch.

So far, Bush has not responded to the arrest calls in Canada, which he has visited on earlier occasions. Ottawa, which considers itself America’s closest ally, has made it clear that he has little to fear.

But according to Charlie Smith, editor of the Vancouver-based Georgia Straight, “Cheney attracted a sizeable protest here and I have a hunch this time it will be bigger.”

Plans for a protest outside the Sheraton hotel where Bush will be staying are swirling on the Internet, said Smith, who has covered Canadian attempts to arrest members of the Bush administration for several years.

“The Occupy Vancouver protest begins on Saturday,” he said. “Occupy Surrey is Thursday.”

Canadian Citizenship Test

 

It has been reported that new immigrants into this country who are taking the citizenship test are failing ever since the revamp of the citizenship test. I am sure the test below which was pblished in the Toronto Star is not the test, if it is anything close and one fails it, you obviously didn’t do your homework. I got 4 wrong. Not bad but seriously this wasn’t difficult. I was just not sure about the four I got wrong and should of went with my instincts.

 

Web Analytics Image

Citizenship Test


maple leaf

1. What are the three responsibilities of citizenship?

a) Being loyal to Canada, voting in elections, serving in the navy, army or air force.

b) Obeying the law, taking responsibility for oneself and one’s family, serving on a jury.

c). Learning both official languages, voting in elections, belonging to a union.

d) Buying Canadian products, owning your own business, using less water.

2. Name four fundamental freedoms that Canadians enjoy?

a) Freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of speech and of the press; freedom of peaceful assembly; freedom of association.

b) Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of speech and of the press; freedom of peaceful assembly; freedom of association; freedom of voting in elections.

c) Freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of speech and of the press; freedom of international travel.

d) Freedom of peaceful assembly; freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of speech and of the press; freedom of living anywhere in the country.

3. Name two key documents that contain our rights and freedoms.

a) The Constitution of Canada and the Canadian Charter of Rights.

b) The Canadian Charter of Rights and the Lawyer’s Handbook.

c) The Constitution of Canada and Discover Canada booklet.

d) Discover Canada booklet and Lawyer’s Handbook.

4. What is the meaning of the Remembrance Day poppy?

a) To remember our Sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II.

b) To celebrate Confederation.

c) To honour prime ministers who have died.

d) To remember the sacrifice of Canadians who have served or died in wars up to the present day.

5. How are Members of Parliament chosen?

a) They are appointed by the United Nations.

b) They are chosen by the provincial premiers.

c) They are elected by voters in their local constituency (riding).

d) They are elected by landowners and police chiefs.

6. Who is entitled to vote in Canadian Federal elections?

a) If you are 18 and a Permanent Resident.

b) Foreign workers, permanent residents and Canadian citizens.

c) Canadian citizens and international students in Canada.

d) Canadian citizens.

7. What does it mean to say that Canada is a constitutional monarchy?

a) Each provincial and territorial government has an elected legislature where provincial and territorial laws are passed.

b) Canada’s head of government is the prime minister who governs the country in accordance with the Constitution.

c) Canada’s head of state is a hereditary sovereign (king or queen) who reigns in accordance with the Constitution.

d) The Premier of each province reports directly to the king or queen reigns in accordance with the Constitution.

8. What does Confederation mean?

a) The birth of Canada on July 1 1867 is known as Confederation.

b) It’s when the first settlers came to Canada.

c) It’s when the Constitution of Canada was amended in 1982.

d) Newfoundland and Labrador joining Canada to complete the union.

9. Who were the founding peoples of Canada?

a) Aboriginal, Canadian and French.

b) Aboriginal, French and British.

c) French, British and American.

d) Aboriginal, British and American.

10. Who are the Métis?

a) The Metis are a distinct people of mixed Aboriginal and European ancestry.

b) The Metis are a people who live in scattered communities across the Arctic.

c) The Metis migrated from Asia many thousands of years ago.

d) The Metis came to Canada from Europe with settlers.

11. What does the word “Inuit” mean?

a) The People.

b) The Family

c) The Clan.

d) The Territory.

12. What did the Canadian Pacific Railway symbolize?

a) Superior technology.

b) Unity between the east and the west coast.

c). Coming together of British and American investors.

d) Years of heroic work.

13. Who was Sir Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine?

a) He was a Canadian historian, professor, civil servant and diplomat.

b) He was the first head of a responsible government in Canada in 1849.

c) He was seventh prime minister of Canada from July 11 to October 5 1911.

d) He was a leading filmmaker and the first recipient of the Order of Canada.

14. What are the three branches of government?

a) Executive, legislative and judicial.

b) Municipal, provincial and federal.

c) Municipal, legislative and judicial.

d) Municipal, Provincial and Canadian.

15. In Canada, are you obliged to tell other people how you voted?

a) Yes.

b) No.

c) Depends on which province you are in.

b) Depends on who you voted for.

16. After a federal election, which party forms the government?

a) The party with the most seats in the House of Commons.

b) The party with the most seats in the UN.

c) The party with the most seats at Queen’s Park.

d) The party that has 15 elected MPs and 12 Senators.

17. What is the capital of the province or territory that you live in?

a) Greater Toronto Area.

b) Ottawa.

c) London.

d) Toronto.

18. What provinces are sometimes referred to as the Atlantic Provinces?

a) Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

b) Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec.

c) Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador.

d) Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador.

19. What is the highest honour that Canadians can receive?

a) Order of British Empire.

b) The Purple Cross.

c) Much Music Award.

d) The Order of Canada.

20. Name two Canadian symbols.

a) The Maple Leaf and the Canadian Flag.

b) The Canadian Flag and the Leafs.

c) The Leafs and the Canadian Crown.

d) The Beaver and the Bluenose.

Answers (no cheating!)

1. b.

2. a.

3. a.

4. d.

5. c.

6. d.

7. c.

8. a.

9. b.

10. a.

11. a.

12. b.

13. b.

14. a.

15. b.

16. a.

17. d.

18. c.

19. d.

20. a.



10 reasons Canada’s U.N. bid failed

OTTAWA—There are 10 non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and there were at least that many reasons offered this week for Canada’s failure to obtain one of those seats. Here are the top 10 reasons (excuses) put forward for the rebuff. More surely to come in the days and weeks ahead:

1. It was Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff’s fault.

“I would say a big deciding factor was the fact that Canada’s bid did not have unity because we had Mr. Ignatieff questioning and opposing Canada’s bid,” Dimitri Soudas, Harper’s communications director, said in the immediate aftermath of the vote. “That was a factor that played ultimately against Canada because people outside of Canada were saying, ‘Well, Germany and Portugal have a united front, their opposition and their governments seem to be fully, 100 per cent behind this bid.’ . . . We had an opposition leader that opposed Canada and clearly was not in it for Canada on this one.”

2. No wait. It was because of “principles.”

“Our engagement internationally is based on the principles that this country holds dear; it is not based on popularity,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Thursday.

3. Or maybe ballot secrecy is the issue.

“We take our positions based on the promotion of our values — freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, justice, development, humanitarian assistance for those who need it. Those are the things we are pursuing and that does not change, regardless of what the outcome of secret votes is,” said Harper, also on Thursday.

4. It was Israel.

“Canada’s increasing ties with Israel and its defence of Jerusalem have cost it a seat on the United Nations Security Council, diplomats here are saying after days of manoeuvring by Arab countries, Brazil, and Cuba in which the U.S. had nearly disappeared,” journalist Ben Avni wrote in the New York Sun.

5. Then again, maybe it was Africa.

Canadian Press reported this week: “African ambassadors, in particular, pointed to a series of Canadian stances on issues ranging from African debt relief to the Conservative government cutting funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and accusing it of having terrorist links.”

6. Or it could be President Barack Obama’s fault.

Richard Grenfell, a Republican commentator on Fox News in the United States: “I find it offensive that the Obama administration chose not only not to get involved with the Canadians, but to instruct all of the diplomats around the world to not get involved in helping the Canadians,” he added, citing sources with the U.S. mission to the UN and the State Department.

7. Or was it India?

“When the time came for Canada to count its friends in its bid for a seat at the United Nations Security Council, India wasn’t there,” The Globe and Mail reported this week.

“Those with a close knowledge of how nations voted in the General Assembly say India supported Portugal over Canada in the contest (for a seat).”

8. Maybe the United Arab Emirates scuppered the bid.

From an Associated Press story this week: “The United Arab Emirates lobbied against Canada’s bid for a U.N. Security Council seat in the latest blow to relations that soured after disputes over airline routes, a UAE official said Thursday. The Gulf country’s opposition followed harsh complaints about Canada’s refusal to open more flights for the fast-growing carriers Emirates and Etihad.”

9. Has anyone seen International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan lately?

On the eve of the vote at the UN, Van Loan put out a press release touting a bid to boost trade with Israel. From a PostMedia report: “Some government insiders expressed surprise Monday at the timing of Van Loan’s announcement — even as they welcomed the substance of the initiative . . . Others expressed privately that Van Loan’s office might have waited a day or two.”

10. Doughnuts.

From the Economist: “He (Stephen Harper) came to power in 2006 skeptical of Canada’s traditional multilateralism (“a weak-nation strategy,” he said) and of the U.N. itself.

Last year, Harper raised eyebrows by choosing to inaugurate a doughnut-innovation centre rather than attend the UN General Assembly.”



Canada buys 1/2 of Hawaiian Islands

Canada has just closed a deal to purchase half of the Hawaiian Islands.

The deal is touted as a groundbreaking new way for the US to generate money in order to bounce back from the tough economic times it has seen in the past couple years. Terms of the deal were not fully disclosed, but those familiar with the negotiations put the final price at around $2.3B USD. The purchased land is rumoured to carry the name “Harper Islands”

Talks are currently underway to determine where exactly the border would dissect the islands. Once those details are worked out, each country will build their own immigration and customs offices in order to make travelling through the islands as painful as possible.

John Hennechuk, Canada’s chief Island Procurement Officer was excited to have the contract finally signed.

“This is a huge deal for us, and now that we have our own tropical locale, we’ll need to shoot new tourism videos and ensure Europeans that our side of Hawaii is American-free.”

The deal has left some Americans stunned, while others welcome the sale as a new way to generate income.

“I can’t believe it. I live on the land that was sold to the Canadians, does that mean I’m a Canadian now?” asked one local business owner.

“I don’t even like Hawaii, it’s full of volcanoes and surfers,” commented one New Yorker.

With most of the details still uncertain, one very important and dangerous bit of information has recently leaked to the media.

 

APRIL FOOLS!!!

You’ve been fooled! 

Canada Top 10 place to live according to some magazine

Well, if you can tolerate their rudeness and arrogance, France is apparently the place to be. Interestingly, I told my US friends that I wish we had more convenience in Canada like they do in the USA. They have everything drive thru down there and tons more selection of everything. They literally have a drive thru down there for everything, it’s no wonder Americans are on the top list of having the most obese people in the world. They eat and never leave their car.

 Canada?? Really. We’re heavily taxed on everything, it’s dispictable. And I just I learned today the 5 cent cost for grocery bags that the city of Toronto brought in this past summer goes to the fregin store!!! I thought it was to charity!! Only very few grocers donate to their chosen charity from the bag proceeds. Hell to the NO, I will not be buying bags anymore. I will carry with me those heavy duty granny bags you buy from Metro.

 

Canada squeaked into the Top 10 of International Living’s best places in the world to live this year.

The magazine, which specializes in finding comfy, well-priced retirement real estate for Americans, put France in the top spot for the fifth year running. But the 30-year-old magazine boosted Canada’s ranking in the leisure and culture and economy measures to lift it into ninth place, after Belgium but before Italy.

“It’s evident from our compilation that the British Commonwealth countries of Australia, New Zealand and Canada are doing very well and despite the bumps in the road have managed dependable economic performance,” publisher Jackie Flynn said in announcing the annual rankings released in early January. “Australia moved from fifth place last year into second place this year, largely thanks to its remarkable economic recovery. It’s already officially out of recession.”

Climate has long pulled Canada’s score down. Canada ranked 19th in 2009; 16th in 2008 and 22nd in 2007.

“Health care and living standards are among the highest in the world,” the magazine’s Quality of Life Index reports in its January issue. “Cost of living is affordable, although the strong currency has made it relatively more expensive. Canadians are warm, welcoming and fun and the country still retains many of the charms brought by her early visitors from Europe.”

European charm is a big factor for International Living and its affluent retiree readers. In praising France, the magazine notes a bottle of the “world’s best rosé wine” costs $4.12 (U.S.), a half-pound of homemade garlic sausage $1.60 and “monthly premium for private health care” is $125, while a four-bedroom stone farmhouse goes for just $186,000.

“I don’t think anyone will argue that France is one of the most beautiful countries in the world,” says Flynn. “The French love little window boxes filled with flowers, tidy gardens, pretty sidewalk cafes and clean streets.”

The top 10:

1. France

2. Australia

3. Switzerland (“Swallow a Swiss pill and you know it won’t poison you. You know the bank will always be discreet. You also know everyone will speak your language.”)

4. Germany (“You could buy a 55-square-metre apartment for $160,000.”)

5. New Zealand

6. Luxembourg (The most “Michelin-starred restaurants per square mile … a tax haven.”)

7. United States (“The land of convenience.”)

8. Belgium

9. Canada

10. Italy (“Farmhouses with a couple of acres for $60,000.”)

 

Obese in the air

As if sitting in the coach section wasn’t bad enough, like sitting in a sardines can, along comes something to make it even more tighter. More uncomfortable.

Majority of Americans polled think that obese people should pay more for taking up two seats. While it is against the law for airlines to charge for two seats for obese in Canada, it’s not the case in the USA. I’ve traveled a lot in my time and not once have I seen someone this big in a seat of an airplane..lol.. But I also think that those with screaming kids should pay higher fee’s as well. Especially when parents don’t do anything about their kids that disturb others during a flight.

The photo in question is believed to have been taken from American Airlines. We spoke with American Airlines media spokesperson Tim Smith to get his take on the situation. Here’s what he had to say:

“We are currently in the process of looking into this situation. We do have a policy that tries to be flexible for passengers of size. Certainly no passenger would ever be allowed to fly on American Airlines in any way that obstructs the aisles of the aircraft, and all passengers must be properly seat-belted—part of the FAA rules. It is very obvious in the photo that the aircraft is not inflight at the time the photo was taken—other passengers are still boarding and several overhead bins are still open. We can assure you that all passengers on this flight were safely and comfortably accommodated, and that no FAA rules were broken.”

Tim says that they don’t “routinely charge for an extra seat unless there are simply no other options. Our people are trained to work with customers to try and accommodate ALL passengers onboard. Often, pending how full the flight is, we can get everyone taken care of.” Tim adds that “each situation is handled individually on a case-by-case basis with utmost professionalism and discretion.” He also cites FAA rules on the matter, which state that “all passengers must use FAA required restraint devices” and that “no aisle may be blocked by any passenger or bags in case of emergency.”

A sampling of how some airlines handle full-figured guests:

Southwest
Passengers who “compromise any portion of adjacent seating” should plan on booking a second seat before getting to the airport. If the flight isn’t packed, the cost of the additional seat will be refunded. For more information, see Southwest’s Guidelines for Customers of Size or refer to their Customer of Size Q&A

United
In March of this year, United changed their policy regarding larger passengers. If unoccupied seats are available on the flight, the passenger will be relocated next to one free of charge. If not, passengers must purchase an upgrade to a cabin with available seats, or transfer their ticket and purchase a second seat on the next available flight. For additional information, see United’s webpage for Passengers Requiring Extra Space.

Continental
Larger passengers will be required to buy two seats. If the second seat is booked in advance, the same rate applies as the original seat. Those waiting for the day of travel will have to buy the second seat at the price applicable to the departure date. Customers also have the choice of upgrading to first class or business. For more information, check out Continental’s webpage for Customers Requiring Extra Seating.

JetBlue
JetBlue reserves the right to charge larger passengers for an additional seat, at the lowest available rate. They will charge larger passengers only if the flight is fully booked.

US Airways
Charging a customer for two seats is a last resort for US Airways. The carrier first tries to accommodate the passenger by relocating them near an empty seat. If no empty seats exsist on the flight, they offer to rebook them on a later flight that has open seats available, free of charge. If none of these are options, only then does the carrier require passengers to buy two tickets.

Larger passengers should pay larger fees:

This man violates FAA standards for safety.
As an airline captain I can tell you that passenger depicted in your article does not meet FAA standards for safety. More important than passenger comfort or even emergency egress issues, in the event of a crash sequence, the overweight passenger could cause death to surrounding passengers as he is not safely secured. At our airline, and I know at Southwest, obese passengers must pay for two seats. It has nothing to do with fair treatment; it has to do with total passenger weight which is limited to 190 per passenger for weight and balance, on average. They certainly would be considered handicapped as they could not exit as normal passengers would. There is absolutely no discrimination here. Weight is weight; if your bag exceeds 50 pounds, prepare to pay extra, same for passengers.

People need to pay their share.
It fits right in with the 100-pound. traveler toting 3-4 pieces of gigantic luggage, it’s about time people people pay their share.

They should pay more and board last.
I think oversized passengers should have to pay for two seats and be located where the last person(s) to exit in an emergency so as to enable able-bodied passengers to escape rapidly. An exception would be when empty seats are available after all seat requests (stand-by, etc.) are satisfied. They should also either board early or last so as not to hold up the whole boarding process.

There should be a “demo” seat at the ticket counter—don’t fit? Pay more.
Perhaps the airline should put a “demo” seat at the ticket counter—if your posterior luggage does not fit into the space, then you should have to buy a bigger space. Currently the same rules apply to oversized luggage. In looking at the picture, I wonder how the stewardess could fit the beverage cart down the aisle or how any passengers could access the lavatory.

Overweight passengers put other travelers at risk.
Absolutely. Since airlines treat us (and now our luggage) as nothing more than “packages” and charge us by weight on our luggage, why not charge morbidly obese people based on their additional weight? Think of this scenario: a convention of morbidly obese people is being held in San Francisco and a group of 150 morbidly obese people get together to fly there from Philadelphia. All that additional weight makes the plane unsafe to fly and the average-weight passengers on that flight have their lives put at risk, their comfort compromised by the “overflow” from the obese passenger sitting next to them, and the safety hazard of having a morbidly obese person blocking the aisle for exits in emergencies.

If you take up more than one seat, you should pay for two.
I’m not a lightweight, but I am constantly battling to keep myself healthy at 65 years of age. However, having traveled in coach with people who are “obese”, I really feel that if you take up more than one seat, you should pay for more than one seat. I traveled across the US seated next to a severely overweight young lady. She sat by the window and I sat in the middle. The aisle seat was taken up by a huge person as well. For five hours I was in sheer misery. I could not use either armrest because they could not be put down due to the excess flesh from both sides encroaching on my seat. If there had been a crash, I would have been overwhelmed by both these people trying to get out.

I’m a flight attendant and we frequently end up re-arranging seat patterns to put children next to obese passengers.
As a 20+ year flight attendant with a major carrier, we are not to address the obesity/space issue unless another passenger expresses their concern or displeasure—which they inevitably do not until we are airborne! Our only other company directive is to “attempt to re-seat passengers in order to accommodate the larger individual”! So, in addition to stowing a ridiculous number of bags because no one is willing to “utilize the space beneath their seats” and trying to cram in the tiniest possible articles into the overhead bins, we are now expected to rearrange the entire aircraft to put children beside obese passengers.

It’s only fair to charge for two seats.
I’m overweight but not obese. I can comfortably fit into any seat on the plane, but if I were over, say 300 pounds. I think I’d prefer two seats so I’m not embarrassed by squashing the person next to me. I know everyone is scared of discrimination suits and that obesity is a disease, but you are legally fitting into two seats and therefore, I think you should pay for it.

It’s discrimination to charge overweight travelers more:

It is discrimination.
It is discrimination. Period. Yes, airplanes have weight limits that must be followed for physical principles of flight; however, one person, no matter how much they weigh, should only have to pay for one ticket.

There’s a lot more to worry about than someone’s size.
Pay more?! Safety issue?! Screw that!!! The man in the picture wouldn’t be any slower to exit than the harried lady with 4 kids, or the drunk businessman who can’t figure which way to move, or the diva with her mink and manicure and purse. In other words, there’s a lot more to worry about than someone’s size.

The concept of “two seats” is deplorable.
That picture is me. I weigh 450 pounds. I fly constantly. My position is that I am one person, and to treat me differently is nothing short of discrimination. I would gladly pay extra for a larger, more comfortable seat—should one be available. What they should do, what no one suggests, is to make a bench seat, to accomodate handicapped individuals, or those who want more comfort, and charge accordingly. But the concept of “two seats” is deplorable.

This is the airlines’ fault for being greedy.
I am a large person of approximately 350 pounds and I work in the business aviation field. I can personally testify that the seats used in many commuter jets nowadays are built smaller for fuel savings and payload. Blame the interior design engineers for these sorry passenger jets and the greed that paid for it before you point fingers at larger people. It is a medical fact that all of our population is getting larger and taller. If you believe that forcing larger people to pay for two seats is the answer, good luck paying the bills in the future!

Obese people have the same rights as anyone else.
As far as I’m concerned obese people have the same rights as anyone else and shouldn’t be penalized like excess baggage. We all know, except for the privileged few, that airline seats are made as tiny as possible so as to accommodate as many fliers, and thus increase revenue. On the other hand, if you’re small, why shouldn’t you receive a reduced fare if overweight people are charged extra? Would you, personally, be willing to sit between two NFL linemen each weighing in at 375 pounds if you could get an interview with some famous people?

If heavier people have to pay, so should those with screaming children.
The airlines keep squeezing in more and more seats—when I first started flying, there were two seats on either side of the aisle—not three. Then they added the third seat on both sides and diminished the width of the seats. Why should heavier persons have to pay the difference? It’s the greed of th
e airlines that has caused the problem. If the heavier person has to pay more—then those people with screaming children should have to pay more for the disturbance they cause. The list can go on and on.

Canada boycotts douchbag Iranian president’s speech

Do they even know Canada has a seat at the UN? Why is the Iranian goofball even at this UN meeting anyway? Nonetheless, the Iranian hater needs to keep his ugly trap closed and do the world a favor and stay in his cave, no one cares for his hatred opinions or comments. STAY and KEEP YOUR HATE IN IRAN!!


Ottawa bureau

OTTAWA – Canada boycotted a speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tonight to protest his “absolutely repugnant” comments on the Holocaust and Israel, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says.

Harper today forcefully defended Ottawa’s decision to walk out when the Iranian leader takes the podium at the United Nations in New York tonight.

“There are times when things are being said in this world that it is important that countries that have a moral compass stand up, make their views known. Our absence there will speak volumes,” Harper said during a stop in Oakville.

“Given President Ahmadinejad’s declarations . . . disgraceful, insulting declarations denying the Holocaust, there is no way I’m going to permit any official of the government of Canada to be present and give any legitimacy to remarks by a leader like that,” he said.

In a speech last week, Ahmadinejad repeated previous incendiary comments as he lashed out at Israel and the West, questioning whether the Holocaust occurred and calling it a pretext for occupying Arab land.

Speaking before a crowd of supporters at Tehran University, he questioned whether the Holocaust was a “real event” and called it a pretext for the creation of Israel. He said the Jewish state was founded on “a lie and a mythical claim.”

Beyond the president’s comments, Harper said the federal government is also troubled by the crackdown in Iran on “legitimate” protesters, the “fiasco” around the elections and the continued detention of Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari.

Bahari was working for the U.S. news magazine Newsweek when he was detained by Iranian authorities on June 21.

“The holding of a Canadian journalist . . . without charge continues to be unacceptable. We continue to demand his release,” Harper said.

 

Bill Clinton to speak for 25,000 people in Toronto

 

Thanx to Ontario Tax payers…

Part of Canada’s economic stimlus plan is to invest $3 million into the CNE (the national fair, held at the end of August each year in Toronto), it’s been reported that a six figure amount is being paid to have Clinton to do a speech here.

It’s evident that Clinton loves Toronto, this is what, his 20th time here?

You gotta go where your fans are.

You gotta go where the money is.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton will be a main attraction at Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibition this summer — and taxpayers will be paying for a significant part of his lucrative speaking fee.

Clinton will speak at the BMO Field at the CNE on August 29, the second week of the popular summer fair.

Clinton’s large fee — he normally charges about $175,000 a speech — will partially be covered by a portion of the Marquee Tourism Events program, a controversial federal stimulus fund that can deliver up to $3 million for a single event.

“A part of Clinton’s fee is being paid for by taxpayers, and a part of it is being paid for by ticket purchasers. What a great use of stimulus money,” David Bednar, general manager of the CNE, told CTV News.

The full funding announcement is expected to come Monday from Lisa Raitt, Canada’s natural resources minister.

Opposition parties in Ottawa have already come out against the funding plan.

“You have money in the stimulus package to bring in Bill Clinton, why don’t you have money to pay for a vaccine?” NDP MP Judy Wasalycia-Leis said at Wednesday’s hearing on the swine flu vaccine.

CNE officials confirmed the date of Clinton’s speech but did not mention who was paying the charismatic leader for his speaking engagement.

In a news release, officials at the CNE said Clinton’s speech will be entitled “Embracing our common humanity.”

Clinton, who has become a renowned public speaker since stepping away from the Oval Office, has the “ability to bring consensus where there was once conflict, and unity where divisions abound,” CNE officials said Wednesday.

“His vision for the world is very much alive in Canada’s cultural mosaic,” said CNE Bednar. “As individuals and as a society, Canadians recognize that the interdependence of our communities is vital to living an enriched and rewarding life.”

The BMO stadium seats more than 20,000 people. Tickets will be sold through Ticketmaster, according to CNE officials.

It will be Clinton’s first Canadian appearance since helping negotiate the release of two American journalists that were being held in North Korea.

Only Bill Clinton

 

My role model and he could be considered a hero. Only Bill Clinton, one of the best Presidents the US has ever had, comes and saves the day.

 

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – Former President Bill Clinton brought two freed U.S. journalists out of North Korea early Wednesday following rare talks with reclusive leader Kim Jong Il, who pardoned the women sentenced to hard labour for entering the country illegally.

Euna Lee and Laura Ling were heading back to the U.S. with Clinton, his spokesman Matt McKenna said, less than 24 hours after the former U.S. leader landed in the North Korean capital on a private, humanitarian trip to secure their release.

The women, dressed in short-sleeved shirts and jeans, appeared healthy as they climbed the steps to the plane and shook hands with Clinton before getting into the jet, APTN footage in Pyongyang showed. Clinton waved, put his hand over his heart and then saluted.

North Korean officials waved as the plane took off. McKenna said the flight was bound for Los Angeles, where the journalists will be reunited with their families. The White House had no comment.

Their departure was a jubilant conclusion to a more than four-month ordeal for the women arrested near the North Korean-Chinese border in March while on a reporting trip for Current TV, the media venture founded by former Vice-President Al Gore. They were sentenced in June to 12 years of hard labour for illegal entry and engaging in “hostile acts.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had urged North Korea last month to grant them amnesty, saying they were remorseful and their families anguished.

North Korean media characterized the women’s release as proof of “humanitarian and peace-loving policy.”

Their families said they were “overjoyed” by the pardon. Lee, 36, a South Korean-born U.S. citizen, is the mother of a 4-year-old. Ling, a 32-year-old California native, is the younger sister of Lisa Ling, a correspondent for CNN as well as “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and “National Geographic Explorer.”

Clinton’s landmark trip to Pyongyang also resulted in rare talks with reclusive Kim Jong Il that state-run media described as “wide-ranging” and “exhaustive.” The meeting was Kim’s first with a prominent Western figure since reportedly suffering a stroke nearly a year ago.

While the White House emphasized the private nature of Clinton’s trip, his landmark visit to Pyongyang to free the Americans was a coup that came at a time of heightened tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program.

State media said Clinton apologized on behalf of the women and relayed President Barack Obama’s gratitude. The report said the visit would “contribute to deepening the understanding” between North Korea and the United States.

The meeting also appeared aimed at dispelling persistent questions about the health of the authoritarian North Korean leader, who was said to be suffering from chronic diabetes and heart disease before the reported stroke.

Kim smiled broadly for a photo standing next to a towering Clinton. He was markedly thinner than a year ago, with his greying hair cropped short. The once-pudgy 67-year-old, who for decades had a noticeable pot belly, wore a khaki jumpsuit and appeared frail and diminutive in a group shot seated next to a robust Clinton.

The journalists’ release followed weeks of quiet negotiations between the State Department and the North Korean mission to the United Nations, said Daniel Sneider, associate director of research at Stanford University’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center.

Clinton “didn’t go to negotiate this, he went to reap the fruits of the negotiation,” Sneider said.

Pardoning Ling and Lee and having Clinton serving as their emissary served both North Korea’s need to continue maintaining that the two women had committed a crime and the Obama administration’s desire not to expend diplomatic capital winning their freedom, Sneider said.

“Nobody wanted this to be a distraction from the more substantially difficult issues we have with North Korea,” he said. “There was a desire by the administration to resolve this quietly and from the very beginning they didn’t allow it to become a huge public issue.”

Speaking out for the first time since their capture, Gore said in a joint statement with Current co-founder Joel Hyatt that everyone at the media outlet was overjoyed by the prospect of their safe return. “Our hearts go out to them and to their families for persevering through this horrible experience,” it said.

The Lee and Ling families thanked Obama, the secretary of state and the State Department.

“We especially want to thank President Bill Clinton for taking on such an arduous mission and Vice-President Al Gore for his tireless efforts to bring Laura and Euna home,” it said. “We are counting the seconds to hold Laura and Euna in our arms.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists also welcomed their release.

In North Korea, Clinton was accorded honours typically reserved for heads of state. Senior officials, led by Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan, who also serves as the regime’s chief nuclear negotiator, met his private unmarked plane as it arrived Tuesday morning.

Video from the APTN television news agency showed Clinton exchanging warm handshakes with officials and accepting a bouquet of flowers from a schoolgirl.

Kim later hosted a banquet for Clinton at the state guesthouse, Radio Pyongyang and the Korean Central Broadcasting Station reported. The VIPs and Kim posed for a group shot in front of the same garish mural depicting a stormy seaside landscape that Clinton’s secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, posed for during her historic visit to Pyongyang in 2000.

North Korean state media said Clinton and Kim held wide-ranging talks, adding that Clinton “courteously” conveyed a verbal message from Obama.

In Washington, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs denied Clinton went with a message from Obama. “That’s not true,” he told reporters.

In the past, envoys have been dispatched to Pyongyang to secure the release of Americans. In the 1990s, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a congressman at the time, went twice on similar missions: in 1994 to arrange the freedom of a U.S. pilot whose helicopter strayed into North Korean airspace and again two years later to fetch an American detained for three months on spying charges.

Richardson, Clinton and Gore, Clinton’s vice-president, had all been named as possible envoys to bring back Lee and Ling.

However, the decision to send Clinton was kept quiet, revealed only when he turned up Tuesday in Pyongyang accompanied by John Podesta, his one-time White House chief of staff, who also is an informal adviser to Obama.

The trip was reminiscent of one 15 years ago by former President Jimmy Carter when Clinton was in office, also at a time of tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program.

Carter’s visit – he met with Kim Jong Il’s father, the late Kim Il Sung – helped thaw the deep freeze in relations with the Korean War foe and paved the way for discussions on nuclear disarmament. Clinton later sent Albright to Pyongyang for talks with Kim in a high point in the often rocky relations with North Korea.

Discussions about normalizing ties went dead when George W. Bush took office in 2001 with a hard-line policy on Pyongyang. The Obama administration has expressed a willingness to hold bilateral talks – but only within the framework of the six-nation disarmament talks in place since 2003.

North Korea announced earlier this year it was abandoning the talks involving the two Koreas, Japan, Russia, China and the U.S. The regime also launched a long-range rocket, conducted a nuclear test, test-fired a barrage of ballistic missiles and restarted its atomic program in defiance of international criticism and the U.N. Security Council.

Last month, the U.S. Navy tailed a North Korean cargo ship as it sailed south suspected of carrying cargo banned under a U.N. resolution on board until the vessel turned around and returned to port.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry recently had harsh words for Clinton’s wife, describing her as “a funny lady” who sometimes “looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping.”

Kim inherited leadership of impoverished North Korea upon his father’s death in 1994, 20 years after being anointed the heir apparent. Kim has not publicly named his successor but is believed to be grooming his third son, 26-year-old Jong Un, to take over.