Saturday, September 30, 2006

Ideology behind budgetary cuts

Jim Flaherty (the Minister of Finances) and Jason Baird (the President of the Treasury Board) both announced that Canadians must expect to see a few budgetary cuts in the budget that will be adopted in May. Given the things that can be seen in the announcement made by Jim Flaherty and John Baird, the budget is not likely to be adopted in the House of Commons. Therefore, in the next month, there will certainly be an election, because Stephen Harper is at the head of a minority government.

The surplus that was recorded on the 31st of March in our financial books was $13.2 billion. Prime minister Stephen Harper used this surplus to reimburse the national debt, which is now at $481.5 billion according to an article written by Joël-Denis Bellavance in La Presse on Wednesday. In Harper’s opinion, some federal programs are useless and that explains why certain programs got abolished.

In fact, the Tories are willing to abolish “useless programs” such as the Medical Marijuana Research Program ($4 million), the Funding for First Nations and Inuit Tobacco Control Strategy ($10.8 million), the Youth International Internship Program ($10.2 million) and most of all, the Court Challenges Program ($5.6 million). Furthermore, let it be said that the Canadian government will cease to reimburse the Good and Services Taxes (GST) to foreign visitors (a saving of $79 million per year).

With a perfunctory calculation, the Canadian government will make savings of more than $1 billion after two years. However, some of the scrapings were a result of the Tories’ ideology. For example, the Harper government preposterously undermined its popularity by stabbing the Court Challenges Program. This stabbing will give to the Francophone minority living outside Quebec many reasons to hate Stephen Harper. The presence of this judiciary program allowed the French-speaking Ontarians to defend their right by putting a stop to the closing of the Montford Hospital.

Moreover, it’s the Court Challenges Program that brought the legalization of same sex marriages. When he was in the National Citizen Coalition (NCC), a Canadian right-wing think-tank, Stephen Harper openly denounced the Court Challenges Program by stating that Canadians must not pay with their taxes something that is only accessible to ethnic minorities.

The condition of women has stunningly gotten to a better level in Canada, but there are still some rooms for improvement. Is $5 million too much to finance the improvement of the condition of Canadian women? Some cuts are quite condemnable, but others were done smartly since they don’t correspond to Canadians’ interest. For instance, we can applause Harper for abolishing the Medical Marijuana Research Program and the Visitor Rebate Program.

Canada doesn’t need the Medical Marijuana Research Program because it’s up to private scientific companies to make some research about marijuana if they feel like doing it. After all, Canadians are not willing to see their taxes being used to make some research on a drug that is still not recognized for having medical virtues and besides, no country has legalized the use of marijuana. As for the Visitor Rebate Program, Stephen Harper understood that tourism is definitely a good source of revenue for this country. By reimbursing the GST to foreign visitors, an important amount of money is getting out of our country.

On the other hand, what was the point to reduce the Museums Assistance Program’s fund of $4 630 000? Are we so poor to finance the preservation of our national culture’s heritage? The answer is no. Most of the cuts that you can see on the web site of the Treasurey Board of Canada Secretariat are hard to digest when you look at them.

Stephen Harper could hardly be able to divide left-wing Canadian voters if Bob Rae, one of the front-runners in the leadership race of the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC), wins. This can be said, because the LPC have always managed to absorb left-wing Canadians, but let it be said that the next federal election will be tighter and more unpredictable than the previous one. All in all, cleaning up Canada’s finances is important, but Stephen Harper is supposed to know that playing with the taxpayers’ money is like walking on a minefield 24/7; the way you play with the finances can also make you lose some votes. Moreover, if no solution is proposed in the next budget to tackle the fiscal imbalance once and for all, be sure that the Bloc Québécois might not support it.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Outstanding historical movies

I am perfectly aware that what I wrote today in my blog has nothing to do with politics or other related stuff, but at least, I'd like to take the time to share with you my favourite historical movies. Obviously, the things that you need to know before you can go further are quite simple: there are absolutely no particular order and secondly and foremost, I'd like to know what are your favourite historical flicks. Don’t worry, tomorrow, you'll have my thoughts on the budget that was announced by Canada's Prime minister Stephen Harper.

For some people, Munich might definitely not be the best historical movie ever, but hopefully, despite his internationally known religious leaning, director Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan) hopefully manages to present with his wonderful cinematographic vision the Palestinians and the Israelis as what they truly are, which means real human beings animated by subjective and collective desires, without glorifying their respective endeavours, hopefully. This is certainly the most violent historical movie that you'll see, but the violence, besides hitting our sensitiveness, brings us into the torn mind of the characters as they evolve.

Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War
Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War
It is definitely a pleasure for me to introduce you to this South Korean movie on the Korean War (1950-1953). Even though Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War is full to the brim with American-style clichés that you have already seen in other American war movies, it does go further than its Yankee counterparts by going further into the study of the characters' psychology. Furthermore, the historical aspect of the movie is quite well exploited although certain historical elements could have been added. All in all, the movie is extremely easy to understand.

The Downfall
The Downfall
Any given enthusiastic of History should do a homework that consists into watching this terrific German movie. Some people might find it extremely hard to watch to the end, because the movie's director made the choice to present Adolf Hitler the way we're not used to see him. Hopefully, The Downfall is a historical movie that destabilizes us very easily because of its impressive neutrality. No prejudices. No made up facts. The story is well rendered thanks to the impeccable performance of the cast led by Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, as Adolf Hitler.

Hotel Rwanda
Hotel Rwanda
Although Hotel Rwanda might not necessarily help you to thoroughly understand the reprehensible genocide that took place in Rwanda back in 1994, the story, which is seen through the eyes of Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who witnessed the genocide, will definitely touch you as you can't even imagine it. The movie also shows the difficulty that the UN forces had in order to guarantee stability in a land torn by ethnic tensions. It's definitely worth your time for the magnificent performance of Don Cheaddle, as Paul Rusesabagina, and Nick Nolte, as the Canadian general who is in charge of the UN forces in Rwanda.
Maurice Richard
Maurice Richard
I know that the final choice was quite hard to make, but after all, since I like hockey, I took this movie. Anyway, this account of the career of Canadian (or Quebecker, depending of your viewpoint) hockey player Maurice Richard perfectly shows the ethnic tensions that was dividing the English and the French Canadians not only in Canadian politics, but also on the skating rinks of the National Hockey League (NHL) back in the 1940s to the 1960s. The movie doesn't try to go beyond what Maurice Richard really is. Despite the fact that the story is seen through the eyes of a Quebecker, the movie doesn't present the English Canadians as monsters. All in all, this objective movie has no villains, but only one hero that is well interpreted by Roy Dupuis.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Hamas and its discourse

We all thought that a coalition government could be created by the Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas. At the light of what we're witnessing, we can't say that Abbas will be able to create a moderate coalition government that is combining the Hamas and the Fatah (the party of Abbas). This is due to the stubbornness of the Hamas's members, the governing party at the Palestinian parliament.

According to an article of the Globe and Mail, a top political adviser of the Hamas told to the news agency Associated Press that the party that he's representing doesn't want to be part of a Palestinian coalition government. This refusal to be part of a coalition government with the Fatah can be explained by the incapacity of the Hamas's members to recognize the State of Israel, as a country that has the right to exist.

The recognition of Israel by the Hamas is a condition that was set by the international community. If the members of the Hamas comply with this condition, the international community will give fundings for the Palestinian government. After all, even though the Hamas was elected democratically, it deserves to be severely punished for its stubbornness.

The Western nations did the right move by blocking the funds that the Palestinian government needs. What will happen if this money came into the hands of the Hamas? Evidently, many people will agree to say that the Hamas will finance the purchase of weapons to destroy the Jewish State of Israel. After all, giving the funds that are necessary to the development of the Palestinian Authority can fade our hopes for peace, because it's not with violence and bloodshed that a nation will find peace.

In fact, these funds will nurture the violent anti-Israel ideology of the Hamas. Thus, this will solve nothing, because it will only create annoying confrontation between the Palestinians and Israel. Ismael Haniyeh, the Prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, wants to satisfy the interest of his people, but he doesn't want to regard Israel as a country. Now that's a contradiction.

Many Palestinians want to have peace once and for all with Israel, but even though the Hamas desperately wants to give good things for the Palestinians, its incapacity to see things rationally not only put a stop to the development of Palestine, but it also isolates this party. This is where the contradiction lies.

When will the Hamas notice that it is the only Palestinian political party that seeks the destruction of Israel? Actually, it's quite hard to tell, but as long as the Hamas doesn't want to recognize the State of Israel, the Western nations will never give any financial help to the Palestinian government, because it will make our hopes for peace fade. If these funds have been given to the Palestinian government, the Western nations will be held responsible for putting the Palestinians into a quagmire. After all, as Westerners, it's not our job to negotiate with such a bunch of isolated savage terrorists who openly advocate anti-Semitism (i.e. the Hamas).

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Two words to Jan Wong: Butt out

Saturday, a very mindless article was published by Jan Wong in the Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper that is sold nationwide. Wong, who was born in Montreal in 1953, upheld that the three shootings that took place in Quebecker schools must be associated with the Bill 101. According to this bill, French is technically the language that must be used within the provincial boundaries of Quebec.

Jan Wong is viscerally convinced that the Bill 101 excludes the Anglophones and the New Canadians. That's why, as she said it, the three killers (Marc Lépine, Valery Fabrikant and Kimveer Gill) expressed their anger in a society that apparently favours the French-speaking Quebecker.

Where is the truth?

If you take the time to think about it, you'll see that Wong was totally wrong.

Marc Lépine, who was born in Canada from a father who came from Algeria and a French-Canadian mother, killed 14 female students at the École Polytechnique. Lépine vindicated his acts of violence by saying that he hated women and feminism. He never said that he felt excluded or alienated because of the Bill 101 which defends the use of French within the provincial boundaries of Quebec.

As for Valery Fabrikant, he was working at the Concordia University, an English-speaking institution. None of his four victims were Francophones. Seriously, we can't see what Jan Wong is trying to tell with her weird thesis. What a strange way to verbally demolish Quebec!

Kimveer Gill, the killer who was held responsible for the shooting at Dawson College, expressed his anger on young students in English in an... English-speaking college of Montreal. Gill's parents remembered him as someone who loves Canada and Montreal.

Were these three killers feeling excluded or alienated just because of the Bill 101? The answer is no. Obviously, someone who ludicrously pretends to be a genius in psychology like Jan Wong can be against the Bill 101. However, it's completely deplorable and irresponsible that someone holds the Bill 101 as an element that nurtures violence and ethnic tensions in a supposedly prestigious, progressist and serious newspaper like the Globe and Mail.

Furthermore, all these rubbish things that she wrote were not supported at all with real sources. No scientific studies. No remarks from social scientist. No deep analysis from psychologists. Jan Wong's column, which is devoid of sense, was built with her fiery subjectivity that is meant to express her reprehensible and condemnable hatred towards Quebeckers.

Linguistic struggle? Huh, what struggle?

In her preposterous article, she was also talking about the linguistic fight from the minorities. As a matter of fact, Quebeckers of all ancestry warmly expressed their support for the students of Dawson College. Besides, these students were able to speak well in French. This shows you that unlike what the Wong Ton Soup Lady believes, Quebeckers of all ancestry do not hate anything that represents the Anglophones. Time goes by so quickly and Quebec has changed. Most Quebeckers of all ancestry live in peace with their fellow Anglophones brothers.

Jan Wong wanted to give her analysis about the shooting that took place at Dawson College, but I personally fear that her thesis will fuel the resentment that the Quebecker separatists have for the rest of Canada. In fact, while I'm writing this, I can clearly see so many separatists stating that Wong's article reflect the negative perception that English-Canadians have on the Quebecker society. Of course, she has the right to express her opinion, but her remarks are absurd, ludicrous, mindless and pathetic. These remarks are only prejudices on the Quebecker society.

Obviously, I'm reassured to see that so many English-Canadians got the courage to lambaste Jan Wong for her racist and disgusting article. Moreover, when these kind of dirty things are written about Quebec, federalists in Quebec (just like me) feel strangled because some Quebecker separatists dare to associate them with pathetic people such as Don Cherry, Barbara Kay and Jan Wong. All in all, these comments from Jan Wong not only threaten the unity of Canada, but they also illustrate her serious paucity of grey matter.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Inaccuracy and lies

Read this very shocking article from the newspaper The Globe and Mail and you'll see how the Canadian government, back in 2003, was using ethnic discrimination to enforce our laws that were apparently inherited from the British colonization. Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian, was sent by the Canadian authorities to the USA and then, my Southern neighbours sent Arar to Syria. Once he arrived in Syria, Arar was thrown behind bars and the Syrian government tortured him. Three years later, the Canadian government discovers that Maher Arar was a victim of inaccurate intelligence reports of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

All that being said, the Canadian government believed that Maher Arar had some ties with Al-Qaeda, but it turns out to be all rubbish according to a federal report made by the judge Dennis O'Connor. After you've read the article of The Globe and Mail, you'll have an idea of what it means to have a government that is often politically paranoid just like certain Americans since the attacks of the 9/11.

Moreover, Bill Graham, the Minister of Foreign Affairs back then, said that he didn't even know that torture was being used in Syrian prisons. Seriously, when you have a parliamentary team of experts working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, you, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, are not supposed to expect some countries of the Middle East to be democratic, do you? Furthermore, can someone tell me why the @$%$ the Canadian government censored the report made by Judge O'Connor when it was presented to the public?

All right, this is really annoying. Finally, before I finish this blog entry, I'll leave you with two good blogs that often deal with politics or stuff that are related to it: one by Freecyprus and Ergo Te Lina.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The meaning of the 9/11

Today, five years separate us from the very moment when the World Trade Center was hit by two airplanes. This moment that will change our life occurred on the 11th of September 2001. In fact, the Western world has become a little bit paranoid. For instance, most of the time, Canada is described as a tolerant country. However, the suspicion that some Canadians have towards their fellow compatriots who are Muslim is bigger than before.

After the insane double attack of the World Trade Center, the Canadian government has spent a huge amount of money to protect us. Besides all these efforts, the government of Paul Martin was criticized by the American government for its laxity in the way it handles the issues on security. This fear coming from the American government is justified by the fact that some international terrorists use Canada as a gateway leading to the USA. Nonetheless, the time has changed and the Conservative Party now governs Canada, which is a party that is a little bit pro-American.

The American media regards Canada methods in security management with a greater respect. With the arrest of seventeen Canadians of Pakistani ancestry during the summer vacation, American officials believe that Canada is willing to put some order in its yard once and for all. Apparently, the Canadian government has tightened its control on a few Muslim citizens who are considered as a “national threat”. Of course, this obsession for security often brings contradiction with our judiciary principles inherited from the British colonization. Criminals must be arrested with an arrest warrant (that encompasses real proof), but in Canada, some people have been arrested without an arrest warrant. Was the arrest of seventeen terrorists in Toronto a tasteless show or a real tour de force?

The event of the 9/11 has made us lose our innocence. Some members of the Muslim community often have bitter feelings in response to how Canadians lock them in a weird identity with their eyes and also to how the Canadian government is treating them. Again the Canadian government certainly tries to treat them fairly, but some of the Muslims living here think that my country is no longer their home.

Finally, the attacks of the 11th of September 2001 clearly indicate a change of century. The French Revolution will put an end to the 18th century by bringing forward the concept of a nation, nationalism, republicanism and questions about the legitimacy of a monarchy. The beginning of the First World War in 1914 will introduce the world to new fighting methods. The attacks of the 9/11 has shown us the new face of terrorism.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Writing on the 9/11

In exactly four days, humanity will soon remember that five years separate us from the time when the World Trade Center collapsed. In this article published on the web site of the Canadian Broadcasting Channel (CBC), we can learn that American writer Ken Kalfus has decided to pen the first satirical novel about the 9/11. This novel, for your information, is called A Disorder Peculiar to the Country.

Seriously, I really don't know what to expect from this novel that I'm looking forward to read, but it appears that we must take its satirical tone with a grain of salt. After all, the novel really looks good and by the way, have anyone read Kalfus's novel about the 9/11? I just asked this question, because I want to have your opinion on his books. Here's a list of the other books about the 9/11 that are mentionned in the article from CBC on Ken Kalfus. I still haven't read these novels, but I'll try to look for them when I'll have the time to do it. Anyway, have a nice reading.

Windows on the World by Frédéric Beigbeder (2003). Perhaps the most literal and eccentric of the 9/11 novels. The fictional story of a New York realtor breakfasting with his sons at the World Trade Center’s famed restaurant on 9/11 alternates with the musings of a Paris author (a thinly veiled Beigbeder) one year after the attacks.

Due Preparations for the Plague by Janette Turner Hospital (2003). Much of this mystery-thriller had already been written at the time of the 9/11 attacks. Still, this taut, devastating story about 10 hostages from a hijacked flight facing their deaths has deep resonance.

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson (2003). An eerily intuitive cool hunter, whose CIA agent father disappeared on Sept. 11, is sent on a classified assignment to track down footage of a mysterious film that’s circulating on the internet. Not strictly about 9/11, but the story is steeped in a new-world-order paranoia that captures the jittery mood of the time.

Specimen Days by Michael Cunningham (2005). Three novellas in different genres (a ghost tale, a noir-thriller and a science-fiction story) set in different time periods in New York, all connected by the poetry of Walt Whitman. Its 9/11 relevance lies mainly in its middle story, about a children’s terrorist cell operating during the anxious days after the attacks.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (2005). This sophomore effort by the New York wunderkind author (Everything is Illuminated) contains clever embellishments, including photographs, doodles and stray bits of text. The unconventional form is fitting since the protagonist is unconventional himself — a preternaturally bright nine-year-old inventor, tambourine player, actor, jeweller and pacifist whose father died in the World Trade Center.

Saturday by Ian McEwan (2005). Britain’s master novelist follows a thoughtful neurosurgeon on a 24-hour journey through London on the same day a million protesters march against the war in Iraq.

Terrorist by John Updike (2006). The bard of suburban discontent covers new ground, specifically a poor New Jersey neighbourhood, where an Egyptian-American teenager — who is a follower of a zealous storefront imam — gets drawn into a terrorist plot.

The Good Life by Jay McInerney (2006). A group of snobby, ambitious, wealthy New Yorkers (a portrait of the author’s own social circle, maybe?) are forced to reassess their lives after the attacks of 9/11.

Monday, September 4, 2006

Dialog with Iran

So, do you really believe that there's still a chance to continue the diplomatic dialog with Iran's president Mahmud Ahmadinejad? Apparently, Erkki Tuomioja, the Finnish minister of Foreign Affairs and also the president of the European Union (EU) believes so. In an article published by the French-language Canadian newspaper Le Devoir, Tuomioja declared that "diplomacy is always the number one way to go forward" even though Iran isn't willing to comply with the demands made by the international community.

As time goes by, we can see that it becomes harder to sustain a diplomatic dialog with Iran. According to what I saw on the news, this Islamic republic has been testing missiles and the journalist who talked about it said that Iran has got itself out of its reliance on foreigners in terms of development of weaponry. Unfortunately, even though we don't necessarily mention the reasons why we don't trust Iran, it's because the discourses that shape the international relations is often full of "political correctness", if you know what I mean.

We, as Westerners, certainly don't trust Iran, because its anti-Semitic president doesn't want to recognize the State of Israel. In fact, Mahmud Ahmadinejad has said so many times that Israel "must be wiped off the map" and yet, the president of Iran said that his country will only uses its nuclear program for "pacifist purposes". Furthermore, can you imagine what will happen if Iran provides the Hezbollah with nuclear weapons since this country is one of the Hezbollah's "sponsors"? This tough story is to be continued.

Friday, September 1, 2006

Does Ignatieff sound like Trudeau?

As an intellectual figure who has an international reputation, Michael Ignatieff, one of the eleven candidates in the leadership race of the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC), definitely has the technique when he wants to say ludicrous things. As a former university teacher, people expect Ignatieff to be very intelligent, but his remarks often illustrate a disconnection with reality. Furthermore, if you're a foreigner, don't wonder why so many Canadians compare him to Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the Prime minister of Canada 1968 to 1979 and from 1980 to 1984.

Obviously, as opposed to Michael Ignatieff who didn't have any experience in Canadian politics before the federal election of the 23rd of January 2006, Pierre Elliott Trudeau has been the Minister of Justice in the government of Lester B. Pearson, which means that Trudeau did have some experience before he became at the same time the leader of the LPC and eventually Canada's Prime minister.

In this article written in French, it is reported that Ignatieff has said that the Clarity Act was necessary in the province of Quebec, because it can supposedly prevent a civil war if a referendum on the independence of Quebec is won by the separatists. Trudeau also resent the Quebecker separatists even though he used to be one of them back in his days of being a young student. Jean Charest, the federalist-leaning Premier of Quebec, said that he never felt that a civil war would potentially start back in the days of the referendums of 1980 and 1995. As for, Jonathan Valois, a deputy of the Parti Québécois, he said that even Quebecker federalists don't make such remarks about the separatists. Moreover, Ignatieff has said in the past few weeks that the bombings in Lebanon wouldn't make him stop sleeping.

Although his viewpoints on foreign policies (which are so different from the ones ofPierre Elliott Trudeau), Michael Ignatieff could have been a deputy of the Conservative Party, but this party wouldn't accept Ignatieff in its ranks, because of his vision of Canadian federalism. Indeed, just like Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Michael Ignatieff is firmly convinced that Canada must be governed by a strong federal government that must, at times, take into its hands the provincial governments' competences. Besides, does Michael Ignatieff admits that there's a fiscal imbalance (a concept in which the federal government has too much money to fullfil its responsabilities while the provincial government don't have enough money to fullfil theirs)? Who knows...

If Ignatieff was elected as the new leader of the LPC, you can be sure that this party won't be able to win some seats in the province of Quebec. In fact, Michael Ignatieff would remind people of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, because just like the latter, Ignatieff advocates a concept of Canadian federalism in which the federal government is very strong at the point that it can take the provincial governments' competences into its own hands. Michael Ignatieff's political vision doesn't correspond to today's reality and Bob Rae can certainly be a good leader, but people in Ontario have a sad memories about Rae's mismanagement of Ontario's finances. We'll see who will be at the head of the LPC in December.

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