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"Five axiomatic propositions of Canadian Nationalism vis-a-vis the Americans:

1. Boy, we hate Americans.

2. We really do.

3. Really.

4. I'm not kidding. We really hate them.

5. So how come they never pay us any attention?"

--Will Ferguson, Why I Hate Canadians, Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1997, p.105.


Tuesday, April 30, 2002

You've got to watch out for those French, too. Marie-Reine Le Gougne, the French judge at the center of the Olympic figure skating scandal, has been banned from the sport for three years by the ISU. As has Didier Gailhaguet, the president of the French ice skating federation:

ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta said the council found Le Gougne guilty of misconduct on two counts -- voting for the Russian pair on Gailhaguet's orders and not reporting Gailhaguet to the ISU for his pressure tactics.

Gailhaguet was sanctioned on the charge of instructing Le Gougne to give first place to the Russians.

But, of course, the banned pair plan to file an appeal:

Le Gougne and Gailhaguet both denied any wrongdoing and sought to clear their names. But they claimed they didn't get a fair hearing, maintaining the ISU stacked the case against them to justify the decision to give second gold medals.

What? An international organization stacking the deck to reach a pre-ordained verdict? What would Kofi Annan say?
Et tu, Tutu? Damian Penny emailed me about Desmond Tutu's recent speech, suggesting that I post thoughts. Here they are: Ditto, agreed, what he said.
A very special prosecutor. In the U.S. we have independent special prosecutors. In Canada we have the Federal Ethics Counselor. The Counselor is intended to be a neutral ethics watchdog who will discipline the Prime Minister and his cabinet. Lawrence Martin writes today about just how well this system works:

Mr. Wilson, the man who administers the government's conflict-of-interest code, isn't a watchdog after all. He's the Prime Minister's PR man. And as documents released to the media yesterday revealed, he even helps prepare answers for Jean Chrétien for Question Period in the House of Commons.

The specific case in question -- the propriety of the Prime Minister playing golf with Tiger Woods (who cares?) -- is not important. But the general admission is of telling significance. The veneer of impartiality that Mr. Wilson has operated under is now ripped away.

On numerous highly controversial cases, including the infamous Shawinigate affair, Mr. Wilson has come rushing to the Prime Minister's defence. Francie Ducros, Mr. Chrétien's spokesperson, would cite Mr. Wilson's words, saying, There you have it, boys and girls; our leader did nothing wrong. Mr. Chrétien was able to shuck off the charges and move on. The neutral arbiter had spoken.

But now the extent of the hose job is becoming apparent. Mr. Wilson was quoted in yesterday's newspapers as saying that it is a "normal matter" for his office to prepare Question Period answers for the Prime Minister. Deputy Prime Minister John Manley, pinned on the matter in the Commons yesterday, didn't even try to put up a pretense, as the government has usually done, that the ethics czar is neutral. He said that, as Mr. Wilson's title suggests, he gives advice.

Well, Mr. Manley, you can't be judge and PR boy at the same time.

Somehow, I can't imagine Ken Starr helping Bill Clinton formulate his responses to Congressional questions (or Archibald Cox and Richard Nixon, or Lawrence Walsh and George Bush senior). Unless of course you believe that Nexus Magazine is correct:

Just as Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh effectively covered up the "high crimes and misdemeanours" of George Bush in the so-called "Iran-Contra Report", so did Kenneth Starr continue the cover-up of CIA drug trafficking with the Clinton/Lewinsky sexcapades and the Clinton impeachment.

And I don't think Starr or the other independent prosecutors would be so keen to give the President the benefit of the doubt the way that the ethics counselor seems to do here. Imagine how this would have been treated in the U.S.:

In the last election campaign, it was revealed that the Prime Minister had directly lobbied the head of the Business Development Bank for a loan to a hotel in his riding, a loan that could have affected the Mr. Chretien's own financial stake in a neighbouring golf course. It was a campaign bombshell. Mr. Wilson stepped in and immediately delivered a verdict cleansing the Prime Minister.

Mr. Chrétien was owed $300,000 from his 1993 sale of his shares in the golf course. But Mr. Wilson and Ms. Ducros initially tried to claim that he had no ongoing financial stake in the matter. If they could sell that line, then the government moneys that Mr. Chrétien helped get sent in couldn't be said to have affected his own pocketbook.

I believe that the Whitewater hearings went way too far. But it certainly appears that the Canadian equivalent doesn't go nearly far enough. Here's hoping we reach a happy median someday -- and the happy median has to include an independent prosecutor (and most likely a slightly less rabid Congress).
Time keeps on ticking into the future. One week; no response; I have re-sent emails to them.

Voicer of "disproportionate" complaint....................Time since my email
Peter Hansen (UNRWA)...........................................................7.5 days
Bill Graham (Canada Foreign Minister).................................7.5 days
Francine Lalonde (Bloc Quebecois foreign policy critic)....7.5 days
Chris Patten (EU Commissioner, External Affairs)..............6.25 days
Mikhail Margelov (Council of Europe).......................................3.5 days
You've got to watch out for those Canadians. Two high profile cases of multimillion dollar scams in Toronto right now:

Police say they exposed a $40-million fraud scheme yesterday, which may turn out to be among the largest swindles in Canadian history.... Investigators will be watching downtown Toronto hotels this weekend in hopes of finding some of the 1,000 to 6,000 people who may have lost their savings in the bogus investment scheme. Police believe that a young man persuaded hundreds, possibly thousands, of investors since August, 2000, that he held the rights to an innovative tooth-whitening product.

And, separately:

"Canadian guilty in huge Web fraud." A Canadian man pleaded guilty yesterday to participating in a Ponzi scheme that bilked 13,000 investors out of nearly $60-million (U.S.) in what officials said was one of the largest-ever U.S. on-line fraud cases.

Imagine if guys like these put their creative energy into legitimate pursuits? The Canadian productivity gap would be erased in no time.
A new definition of chutzpah?

A murder suspect who hanged herself in a Florida jail in March left a suicide note asking her lawyer to sue the jail for failing to prevent her from killing herself, authorities said.
What a difference a day makes. Two headlines from the Globe and Mail:

"Musharraf's image takes beating."(Globe and Mail, Monday, April 29)

"Love fest with Musharraf reaches mythic heights: Pakistanis bank on President, picked to win referendum, to brighten their future." (Globe and Mail, Tuesday, April 30)
Newfoundland no longer exists! Well, not quite. But the Canadian Post Office has just changed the abbreviation for that province from NF to NL, which reflects the recently-changed official title of the province as "Newfoundland and Labrador." What does Damian Penny think of this?

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