Monday, July 30, 2007

Is Pierre Elliot Trudeau a Scumbag? You Bet!

According to this article published in La Presse, former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau won the title of the worst Canadian ever in the Winnipeg-based magazine called The Beaver. Obviously this was the result of poll conducted by this History magazine. Moreover, this poll was conducted with a slight tinge of humour and also with a desire to motivate Canadians to seriously talk about History.

After all, don't you remember that PET was nominated (I don't see any reason to nominate such a jerk) in 2004 for CBC's award of the "greatest Canadian" (the title was won by Tommy Douglas)?

What also made me have a little smile is the fact that you can find scumbags in The Beaver's list such as Karla Homolka, Paul Bernado and Clifford Olson. In case you were holding doubts in your mind, Céline Dion is in the list!! Let's hope that comedian Jessica Holmes will make an imitation of Dion in the next show of Royal Canadian Air Farce.

Finally, while I leave you with a video made during the humorous show Royal Canadian Air Farce (that shows you how arrogant PET was) about Canada's most morronic Prime Minister and also "intellectual", here's a message to his son Justin: have a reality check and change your public image for pity's sake!!!!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Making Your Blog Interractive

How do you make sure that your readers can rate each of your blog posts by giving them a rating from 0 to 5 stars?

In spite of your readership, don't expect to get too much comments. However, thanks to to the help of someone, I found a very interesting web page that allows people using Blogger to insert a 5-stars rating system that allows visitors to rate blog posts individually. While some people put the stars below the blog post's title, I prefer to put them at the end of each blog post.

Here's the link.

If this post was useful to you, please give it a 5-stars rating :-)

Ok, this was just a joke.

Second thing:

Secondly, what was the last Vietnamese movie that you saw? Without a doubt, I guess that you actually saw films made by movie director Tran Anh Hung in the likes of The Scent of the Green Papaya (good script, but toooo boring). Guess what? A Vietnamese martial arts movie is about to come out in the West. It's a fictitious story about Vietnamese nationalists fighting against French colonialists and Vietnamese collaborators in 1922. Here's the preview if you want to see how the movie looks like.

Oh, and while I think about it, let's not forget the link to The Rebel's official web site.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Mike Colle Took the Fall for the Ontario Liberals

Even though Mike Colle took the fall in this scandal, those who are to blame are actually the Liberals themselves, especially Dalton McGuinty.

Mike Colle, Ontario's Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, tendered his resignation, but he'll remain an MPP in the riding of Eglinton-Lawrence. This happened thanks to a report released by Ontario's Auditor general Jim McCarter revealing that $32 million was scandalously given out to ethnic organizations without any accountability.

Indeed, we can tell very easily that Dalton McGuinty, Ontario's Premier, didn't want to deal with this political scandal. Think about the upcoming provincial election of October 10! Even though Mike Colle took the fall in this scandal, those who are to blame are actually the Liberals themselves, especially Dalton McGuinty (photo).

Last March, the New Democratic Party (NDP) demanded explanations about why $200,000 was granted to what was described as the Iranian-Canadian Community Centre. However, CBC and the Toronto Star both affirmed that it was mistakenly listed an animal protection agency. That group didn't qualify for the financing criteria, because it has operated for only two years.

Furthermore, Ontarian taxpayers' money was granted to some ethnic organizations or community centres that didn't apply for the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration's subsidies! On the other hand, some groups received far more money than they had requested.

Obviously, during the parliamentary works in committee, while the Progressive Conservatives (PC) and the NDP all claimed for an investigation led by Ontario's Auditor general, what was Dalton McGuinty's reaction? He used his parliamentary majority in order to stonewall the opposition's demands! In short, it's clear that the NDP and the PC saw that the Liberals had something to hide.

Secondly, McGuinty used the mainstream media to accuse his opponents of being "racists" who can't accept the fact that Ontario is receiving immigrants. How funny! Is worrying about the way taxpayers' money is being spent a racist thing? To put things back in their context, both opposition parties accused the lack of transparency in the process of giving out grants to ethnic organizations and community centres.

With that said, McGuinty's accusations towards both opposition parties almost remind me of Jean Charest, Quebec's Premier, accusing Mario Dumont of racism in the debate about religious accommodations. As far as we know, the NDP and the PC never claimed that immigration should be stopped. All in all, McGuinty's accusations of racism is a complete display of disdain towards Ontarians who voted for two supposedly racist parties.

In other words or in Dalton McGuinty's words, if you voted for the NDP or the PC, you're just a closeted admirer of French far-right politician Jean-Marie Le Pen! Oooh, be scared! See the devil if you encounter an Ontarian who voted for either the NDP or the PC!

Now, how can McGuinty say that he speaks for all Ontarians, eh? Given his paucity of grey matters and his ability in demagoguery, let him figure out how to gain the trust of all Ontarians. However, this scandal might tell us that Quebecker and Ontarian Liberals are no different from those who are elected at the federal parliament: their reliance on the votes of ethnic minorities make them do condemnable things with taxpayers' money.


Finally, this show us that Canada's useless policy of multiculturalism must be abolished. Why on earth should a white person's taxes be used to finance ethnic organizations or community centres which are supposed to integrate newcomers and help them to keep their ethnic culture? Ethnic minorities don't have to be financially dependent of the state. Secondly, if they want to keep their ethnic culture, well, they should privately use the money coming from members of their ethnic community rather than from Joe Blow's taxes.

After all, what's the point to elaborate social policies if a portion of your population, based on its ethnicity, only have access to it? Well, I don't want to offend anybody out there, but it's about time that Canada treats its citizens with European republican values, which means treating everybody the same way without paying attention to ethnicity, religion and the colour of the skin.

I may be a proud Canadian, but unfortunately, I find most Canadians too stupid to understand what the hell is a republic. In fact, many of my compatriots believe that living in a republic will make us like the Americans. As far as know, there are three types of republics and the USA is far to be a model due to the complexity of its political institutions.

On another note, if you're a loyalist (i.e. someone who worships the English monarch), I'll respect your opinion, but you can be sure that you won't have my respect.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Needs Clarity

In spite of the Turkish Prime Minister's Islamist past (or present) and his lack of clarity, he has striven more than his predecessors to bring Turkey closer to Europe.

Yesterday in Turkey, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which is led by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, took 47% of votes and it gave it 341 seats in the 550-seats parliament of Ankara. Moreover, these results didn't meet the required quorum (two-thirds of the parliament's seats: 367 seats) that could have allowed the AKP to have its candidate Abdullah Gul elected by the parliament at the republic's presidency.

Despite his relatively comfortable victory, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's opponents still have doubts about him and by extension his capacity to integrate Turkey into the European Union (EU). These doubts are due to Erdoğan's past (or present) as being an Islamist. After all, here are some arguments that they could use to blast him:

  1. While he attempted to satisfy his party's conservative grassroots in 2004, Erdogan wanted to revive the criminalization of adultery (which was abolished in 1996). Obviously, because of protests, he made his bill die on the order paper.

  2. When he was mayor of Istanbul, Erdoğan made a law that restricts the use of alcohol in restaurants.

  3. Despite most of its current members' ideological break-up with Turkey's Islamists in 2001, it's needless to say that the AKP was born out of the Milli Görüs.

  4. On November 2005, Erdoğan, despite respecting secularism, reacted badly when the European Court of Human Rights refused to condemn Turkey's secular regime for forbidding Leyla Şahin (a medicine student) to wear a Muslim headscarf.

In spite of the Turkish Prime Minister's Islamist past (or present) and his lack of clarity, he has striven more than his predecessors to bring Turkey closer to Europe. Of course, while the AKP wasn't in power in April 2002, Turkey did a great step forward by abolishing capital punishment during peace time on April 3, 2002.

Besides, last year, the French quarterly magazine Alternatives Internationales (issue of June 2006) published a very interesting article written by Rusen Cakir, a journalist of the Turkish newspaper Vatan, and translated by Clémence Scalbert.

In his piece, Cakir wrote that the AKP brought many reforms that were meant to please the EU (ex: open-mindedness to freedom of press, fight against torture, limitation of the Turkish army's power within political institutions, granting cultural rights to Kurds). However, despite saying that the application of these reforms is made slowly, Cakir wrote that the AKP's moves "constitute undeniable democratic advancements."

That being said, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did great things for Turkey, but his annoying pragmatism can fuel certain people's impatience. On another note, yesterday in the French newspaper Libération, a former Turkish diplomat averred that Erdoğan is "an [adept of the art of equilibrium] who knows how to simultaneously talk about democracy in Kurdish areas, religion in mosques, Kemalism in Ankara, Europe in Brussels and security in Washington."

As time goes by, Turkish and also Westerners need to know more about his stance on secularism. After all, you can't pretend that you represent the Turkish mainstream society if you want to confront Turkey's Kemalist heritage! Moreover, if Erdoğan is in a bind, he definitely has no plan B for both Turkey and his political party. Indeed, all the liberal-minded and centrist people who voted for the AKP might desert this party if Recep Tayyip Erdoğan does another religious blunder.

Monday, July 23, 2007

How Will your Blog Be Rated and Understood?

While I'm preparing the next political blog post (to some bloke from Nova Scotia who probably recognizes himself: I am not a political expert and neither are you, by the way), I'll just leave you with two interesting things. The first one is a sort of web gadget that tells you how your blog will be rated according to American movie standards.

Free Online Dating

By the way, I almost forgot to tell you that the language used on your blog is the only thing taken in consideration.

Secondly, the next thing is about the level of difficulty to understand your blog depending on how you write (vocabulary and grammar). Just click on this link that will lead you to a text analyzer using the Gunning fog index. This index ranges from 0 (extremely easy) to 20 (extremely hard). According to Wikipedia, "texts that are designed for a wide audience generally require a fog index of less than 12."

I'll take some texts of mine to see how I write:

Conclusion: In general, I'm someone who is quite easy to read. However, I don't understand why my texts dealing respectively with the war in Iraq and the Canadian mission in the Afghan province of Kandahar got rated over 12. Anyway, here are some comparisons that we can make (thanks to Wikipedia) with other written stuff by using the Gunning fog index.

* 12 — Atlantic Monthly
* 11 — TIME, Harper's
* 10 — Newsweek
* 9 — Reader's Digest
* 8 — Ladies' Home Journal
* 7 — True Confessions
* 6 — Comic books

Now, tell me, am I usually easy to understand when I write something? You just tell me, because I'm willing to improve my blog :-)

Yours friendly,

Anh Khoi

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sunday Short Comments

1. When in Rome, do as the Romans do!
Who thought that this sort of thing only happened in Germany, Great Britain and Canada? Well, click on the link that I provided just to see what it's about. That makes me wonder why some people just immigrate into a Western country in order to harm it. Therefore, here's the last words of this short comment: if you don't like your new country, just hop in a boat (or a plane) and get out!

2. Would some Quebecker politicians say it?
For those who say that Quebec is just like France, you're not necessarily wrong. What do the first, which is a French-speaking Canadian province, and the latter have in common? Here's the answer: people living there don't work enough and see wealth as a taboo. Finally, the difference between them is that in France people are encouraged to think by themselves (maybe too much according to Nicolas Sarkozy), whereas in Quebec (well, I mean no offence), I've always had the odd feeling that the less you think, the better it is.

3. Will secularism stay alive in Turkey?
Today is quite a special day for Westerners, mostly for Europeans. Turkish people are heading straight to the poll, but many people have expressed fear because the AKP, the current governing party, seems to hate secularism given its Islamist roots. Strange though it might sound, Turkey's outgoing Prime Minister has always displayed his desire to see his country entering the European Union, right? I'm not showing my support to any political party. However, if the "supremacy" of the rule of law and the Turkish Constitution must be recognized, secularism can't be removed because the article 4 clearly states that "the provision of Article 1 of the Constitution establishing the form of the state as a Republic, the provisions in Article 2 on the characteristics of the Republic, and the provision of Article 3 shall not be amended, nor shall their amendment be proposed." Oops, these are probably words and I forgot what the Turkish army stood up for...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Happy Birthday to My Blog!

Of course, it was quite a moment to start things over again! Indeed, the first thing I posted was about the war in Lebanon and Canada's foreign policy. As I was developing this blog, most of you have always had the pleasure (or the displeasure) to see my opinion on various issues.

Whether it was about defending a flexible approach to federalism in Canada, being against excessive state intervention in the economy, advocating the European concept of a mixed health care system, laughing at the ridiculous concept of multiculturalism, being strongly against religious accommodations, talking about movies, learning new things or talking about History, my goal has always been that simple: offering an alternative to mainstream media when it comes to discussing about politics.

Again, I'm not pretending that I can do better than the mainstream media; it's just pitiable that some columnists are too afraid to say obvious things. This blog that started with barely ten readers or so (mostly close friends) gradually grew up and currently has a readership of at least 300 readers per week along with more than 20 RSS suscribers. Now, enough writing! I'll leave you with some videos.

Yours truly,

Anh Khoi Do

James Bond and Vesper Lynd taking the time to drink a Heineken!

A weird ping-pong match.

Watch this electrifying performance of France's current president Nicolas Sarkozy (in French)!!!

An admirable display of courage by Maryam Namazie.

Finally, this is a stand-up comic by Rachid Badouri at the 2005 Just for Laugh Festival (in French).

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ethnic Bashing in France?

Is it me or are white Western politicians too afraid to admit that there is a presence of ethnic nationalism in Western countries? Can France's president Nicolas Sarkozy remind some stupid French people that France was built on republican values that DO NOT take in consideration everybody's ethnic, religious and racial background?

© Le

Il faut sauver le soldat Dati
LE MONDE | 18.07.07
Nathalie Guibert et Patrick Roger

À l'Elysée, au gouvernement, dans la majorité, la ligne de riposte est arrêtée. Il n'y a pas de problème au ministère de la justice. Simplement une "campagne" visant à "salir" Rachida Dati. Mardi 17 juillet, elle défendait devant les députés le projet de loi sur la récidive promis par le président de la République, Nicolas Sarkozy. Mais tel n'était pas le vrai sujet du jour. Avant la séance, le président de l'Assemblée nationale, Bernard Accoyer, a demandé que "cessent les attaques inqualifiables" qui atteignent la nouvelle garde des sceaux depuis quelques jours.

Le matin, un communiqué de l'UMP avait donné la consigne : "L'UMP salue le travail accompli par Madame Rachida Dati. Patrick Devedjian (...) salue la force de caractère de Madame Rachida Dati, qui assume de façon remarquable le poids que les médias font désormais peser sur elle, et condamne de la façon la plus ferme les attaques et amalgames dont elle est aujourd'hui la victime."

Depuis la démission de son directeur de cabinet, vendredi 6 juillet, suivi de trois de ses conseillers, la ministre affronte ses premières difficultés. La coïncidence de la comparution de l'un de ses frères pour une affaire de stupéfiants devant la cour d'appel de Nancy, le jour même de l'examen du texte sur la récidive, a nourri la critique.

Les associations antiracistes ont placé le débat sur le terrain communautaire : "Rachida, une beurette à abattre ?", s'est interrogé Dominique Sopo, président de SOS-Racisme. Elle est "victime d'une campagne injuste du fait de la consonance de son patronyme", a soutenu Patrick Gaubert, pour la Licra.

Mais, deux mois après sa prise de fonctions, la ministre joue tout autre chose : une identité professionnelle, sa crédibilité dans le poste qui lui a été confié. Elle a "une obligation de réussite parce que sa présence Place Vendôme est un hommage à tous les enfants de France", a dit Nicolas Sarkozy, vendredi 13 juillet. Le choix de Rachida Dati, 41 ans, avait fait grincer des dents parmi les fidèles de l'UMP. D'aucuns pensaient que la jeune femme se verrait confier un secrétariat d'Etat.

Choisie comme un symbole, elle a hérité d'un ministère régalien. En deux mois, elle est devenue une icône républicaine. Face à ce miroir, elle sait qu'elle ne peut pas décevoir. Ses collaborateurs, eux, savent qu'elle cherche encore à être sécurisée, rassurée. Rachida Dati a une formation de gestion ; elle a été auditrice chez Elf Aquitaine, chez Matra, à la Lyonnaise des eaux, avant d'entrer, pour trois ans, dans la magistrature. Puis d'enchaîner, depuis 2002, les postes de conseiller sous l'aile de Nicolas Sarkozy et de son épouse Cécilia, qui parle d'elle comme d'une "soeur". La voilà dans une fonction neuve, surexposée. "Un rodage" est normal, convient son entourage. "Le soutien, il est dans l'avis des Français au quotidien. Ça sera un soutien populaire", a-t-elle rétorqué sur RTL, mardi.

Mais, dans l'institution judiciaire, on s'inquiète. Car, sans même évoquer la gestion des affaires sensibles comme Clearstream, les chantiers ouverts sont lourds, et nombreux. Avec la loi contre la récidive et le projet de création du contrôleur général des lieux d'enfermement, la chancellerie porte d'emblée deux textes lors de la session extraordinaire.

La réforme de la carte judiciaire, sur laquelle ont échoué tous les gardes des sceaux depuis 1958, est promise pour 2008. Tout comme l'informatisation totale des tribunaux. A l'issue de l'été, devra être prête une loi pénitentiaire. La justice des mineurs est remise sur le métier. La négociation budgétaire s'annonce dure.

Pression et manque d'expérience : certains prédisent déjà le scénario catastrophe. La démission de Michel Dobkine a montré une faille. Le directeur de cabinet, magistrat proche de Patrick Ouart, le conseiller pour la justice de l'Elysée, avait été choisi par l'entourage de M. Sarkozy pour sa connaissance de la "boutique".

L'équipe installée, des techniciens, a explosé en quelques semaines. Avant même que le directeur ne prenne sa décision, estimant "ne pas être fait pour le job", plusieurs collaborateurs avaient réclamé de partir. Le nouveau cabinet ne sera pas constitué avant la fin juillet. "Personne ne veut y aller", assure un magistrat. Rachida Dati est perçue comme une "combattante", mais elle se voit reprocher son caractère autoritaire. "On ne peut pas être garde des sceaux et refuser la contradiction, penser que tout doit se plier à votre volonté pour obtenir tout, tout de suite", résume un expert de la Place Vendôme.

L'entourage de la ministre met tout cela sur le compte de la "volonté". La sienne se confond avec celle de Nicolas Sarkozy : "nous avons une mission du président de la République", ne cesse-t-elle de marteler. La conseillère pour la presse de Mme Dati, Laurence Lasserre, "dément formellement qu'elle ait mauvais caractère" et explique : "elle veut avancer. Pour elle, ministre, ce n'est pas une fin en soi. Si elle part dans un an ou dans deux ans, elle veut avoir réalisé des choses".

Les méthodes sont nouvelles : la ministre appelle directement les directeurs et responsables de services, sans respecter les formes chères à la hiérarchie judiciaire. Le 25 juin, la première réunion des chefs de cours d'appel, procureurs généraux et premiers présidents, s'est tenue comme un rassemblement de préfets, ce qu'exècrent les juges.

La ministre s'impose elle-même un rythme très soutenu, avec au moins deux déplacements par semaine sur le terrain. Les circulaires pleuvent. Tout doit aller vite. Trop vite ? Le secrétaire général de la chancellerie, l'aguerri Marc Moinard, qui fut directeur des affaires criminelles de Jacques Toubon, évoque un "engagement total, nécessaire car les chantiers engagés ne se feront pas autrement." D'autres traduisent : "disponibilité jour et nuit", "colères", "surchauffe".

Les services ont été mis sous tension. "Prendre les hauts magistrats à rebrousse-poil, ce peut être positif, car certains vivent dans un ronronnement sur le mode : "est-ce qu'on ne fait rien tout de suite ou est-ce qu'on attend un petit peu ?"", analyse Bruno Thouzellier, président de l'Union syndicale des magistrats (USM, majoritaire). "Le problème, c'est le rythme et les relations humaines. Rachida Dati est dans l'hyper-communication, il faut qu'elle avance, et cette fuite en avant ne peut se satisfaire de réformes de fond."

Malgré des démentis, deux directeurs sont donnés partants avec insistance : Jean-Marie Huet, qui occupe le poste sensible de directeur des affaires criminelles, et supervise ainsi toutes les affaires pénales en cours. Et Léonard Bernard de la Gâtinais, le directeur des services judiciaires, qui coiffe les carrières et la discipline des magistrats, autre sujet délicat, situé au coeur du conflit entre Nicolas Sarkozy et les juges. La création d'une direction des ressources humaines des magistrats fait l'objet de discussions conflictuelles.

Grâce au nouveau directeur de cabinet, assure-t-on Place Vendôme, la confiance est en train d'être rétablie entre la ministre et ses services. Patrick Gérard l'a rencontrée en 1994, quand il était conseiller de François Bayrou au ministère de l'éducation nationale. Rachida Dati était alors mandatée par Hanifa Cherifi, la médiatrice dans les affaires de voile à l'école. "Qu'il y ait eu des incompréhensions, peut-être. Mais il n'y a pas de drame. Ni de dysfonctionnement", assure M. Gérard. "C'est vrai que c'est dur d'être un symbole pour le pays. Mais elle a un courage plus grand que l'on ne le croit." Le directeur demande qu'elle soit jugée sur les résultats.

Pour tous, le dossier de la carte judiciaire sera un test. Elus locaux, avocats, fonctionnaires guettent comme l'orage la suppression annoncée de tribunaux. Les spécialistes s'accordent à dire qu'une telle réforme, politiquement sensible, complexe et très coûteuse, ne peut passer que dans les premiers mois de la législature. Pourtant, la garde des sceaux a affirmé n'avoir "aucune idée préconçue". Une concertation a été lancée. Les propositions sont censées être élaborées en septembre. "Nous lui avons dit que son calendrier n'était pas tenable", indique Hélène Franco, du Syndicat de la magistrature (SM, gauche). "Il y a un problème de méthode dans cette réforme", renchérit l'USM. Les avocats craignent qu'un schéma préétabli surgisse des cartons à la rentrée. Un bâtonnier remarque : "La ministre représente une institution, elle ne peut être complètement en décalage avec ceux qui la font vivre sur le terrain".

A l'Assemblée, la gauche a fait montre d'une grande prévenance. "Vous nous trouverez à vos côtés face à des attaques déplacées et qui n'ont pas lieu d'être", a déclaré mardi Manuel Valls (PS, Essonne). Dans la majorité, certains observent un "devoir de réserve". Ni Patrick Devedjian, qui pensait emménager Place Vendôme, ni Dominique Perben ou Pascal Clément, anciens titulaires du poste, ne se sont manifestés à l'occasion de la discussion du texte sur la récidive.

D'autres affichent une attitude pragmatique. "Ce que nous attendons maintenant, c'est le courage politique qui a peut-être manqué à d'autres époques pour s'attaquer à ce serpent de mer qu'est la carte judiciaire", a souligné Georges Fenech (UMP, Rhône). "Là, il va falloir montrer à la fois de la souplesse et de la fermeté."

Harper versus Socialist Demagoguery

The visit of Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper to some countries of South America clearly shows that he's not as stuck as some of us want to believe on American economical policies.

Yesterday, Stephen Harper made a visit to some South American countries such as Chile, Peru and Colombia. Many of us would have expected him to act like George W. Bush's puppet by advocating an American-style hardcore capitalism. Hopefully, he didn't do it.

The visit of Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper to some countries of South America clearly shows that he's not as stuck as some of us want to believe on American economical policies. He proved that the existence of Canada proves that there are other choices apart from American-style hardcore capitalism and Venezuelan radical socialism.

This should rather be a good lesson to Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela.

Just like most populists that we've seen in South America, Chavez just got elected because he seems so close to the population. Still, there's one thing that we need to remember about Chavez. His political discourse is empty, founded on demagoguery and it is as interesting as a grocery list.

No wonder why Chavez thinks he's such a wonderful genius with his "21rst century socialism"!

Unfortunately, his so-called "21rst century socialism" looks more like a 19th century socialism. First of all, old-school socialists stress on the importance for the state to take control of everything in the economy. Moreover, the idea of socialism is just an egalitarian utopia, because by averring that he's extremely close to low-class workers, Chavez rather encourages class warfare. In fact, you just have to think about his contempt for rich people.

Let's guess that being rich makes you a bad person!

Hopefully, Michelle Bachelet, the president of Chile, understands that there are some ways to combine socialism with theories of market economy. It's as simple as that: just consider the theoretical elements that are likely to please to everyone instead of dividing people because of their social background. What Harper should have said is that between two radical choices, Canada, Chile and some European countries represent international role models when it comes to dealing with the economy.

PS: Am I the only one who is surprised by the fact that Harper struck a free trade deal with Columbia? I guess not...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Sheldon Souray: Not in the Habs' Plan

No matter how impressive Sheldon Souray's offencive stats from the previous season are, Bob Gainey left him with the feeling that he no longer had his place in Montreal.

It's official now. Sheldon Souray is now a former player of the Montreal Canadiens. This defence man just got traded to the Edmonton Oilers and he signed a $27 million contract of 5 years.

Souray will earn $6.5 million for the first two years of the contract, which include a bonus of $1.5 million per season, according to the Journal de Montréal's edition of yesterday. In addition to that, he'll earn $5.5 million in the third year and $4.5 million for the last two seasons spent with the Oilers.

During all the time, we could almost tell that the Montreal Canadiens, through its general manager Bob Gainey, didn't show any interest for Sheldon Souray. In fact, if the Habs was so interested to keep him, wouldn't it be logical if they've made an offer earlier? In fact, Gainey did a four years offer worth $22 million to Souray on July 1rst, which is quite late. The next thing we know is that Souray refuses it the other day.

Of course, Souray did participate to All-Star games. He has the hardest slap shot in the league. Besides, let's remember that during the last season, he scored 26 goals and made 64 points, which constitutes his personal record in the National Hockey League (NHL). These facts could have forced Bob Gainey to negotiate a deal with Souray, right?

Strange though it might sound, the Montreal Canadiens' general manager didn't seem to be impressed by these numbers, because they don't reflect what you really see on the ice.

No matter how impressive Sheldon Souray's offencive stats from the previous season are, Bob Gainey left him with the feeling that he no longer had his place in Montreal. All we can say is that Gainey hasn't shown any form of subtlety over the last few months since the end of the hockey season. That leads us to the central question: why did Gainey take so much time to make an offer to a player who was one of the Habs' best scorers?

It's as simple as that: Bob Gainey didn't consider Souray as one of the Montreal Canadiens' best defence men. That explains why he spent all the time negotiating with defence man Andrei Markov. Despite not being a big scorer like Souray, Markov is more competent than him in defence. During the last two seasons, Andrei Markov got a positive differential of +13 and +2.

That explains us why Souray often got deked and he has allowed many goals to be scored. That can be seen in his regression, defensively speaking. Three years ago, he finished his 63 games season with a differential of +4. The next year, it gets at -11. Last year, what was Souray's differential? It was - and you clearly read it! - at -28. All in all, Gainey has been negotiating with Andrei Markov, because if these negotiations fail, Gainey could turn to Souray, who was viewed as a sort of plan B.

Moreover, moving to Edmonton was probably the best decision for Sheldon Souray, because playing for the Edmonton Oilers has always been a childhood dream for him. After all, remember that he's born in Elk Point, Alberta. Obviously, this should help him to be closer to his wife who lives in California. As opposed to the Habs, which is a team from the NHL's Eastern conference, the Edmonton Oilers play more often against teams from the American West Coast.


On an another note, did you hear about a news saying that a judge from Toronto ruled Canada's pot possessions laws "unconstitutional"? Apparently, the Canadian government just contradicts itself through the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations (a policy implemented by Health Canada in 2001) when it comes to dealing with issues on possession of marijuana and this can be used as a defence arguments by those who extol the legalization of some drugs. Let's make it very clear: this kind of drug is not to be legalized! Let's assume that there are other alternatives to marijuana or pot, or anything like these.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Moderate British Muslims Must Speak Up

If most British Muslims decry Islamic terrorism, why, oh why, don't they speak up while everybody is listening? Unfortunately, debating about Islam is still a taboo and moderate Muslims are badly represented.

Recently, whether we like to hear it or not, some bombing attempts were perpetrated by some British Muslims. Secondly, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaida's deputy leader, threatened to attack the UK "in retaliation for the knighthood given to the novelist Salman Rushdie", according to The Guardian.

Still, while these barbarian acts were done in the name of Allah, it appears for most of us that most Muslims didn't want to publicly condemn them. Does this mean that most British Muslims support jihadists?

According to the Daily Telegraph, while the percentage of "British Muslims accepting suicide attacks on the West" is at 13%, the percentage of those "admiring organisations like al-Qaeda" is at 16%. Besides, 37% of "young British Muslims would accept to live under sharia law rather than British law."

If British Muslims were asked to publicly express their opinions, most of them are not likely to do it. If most British Muslims decry Islamic terrorism, why, oh why, don't they speak up while everybody is listening? Unfortunately, debating about Islam is still a taboo and moderate Muslims are badly represented.

Some will say that the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), whose former leader Iqbal Sacranie was knighted by Tony Blair in 2005, represents moderate Muslims. Let's remember that after the attempt to bomb the Glasgow Airport, the MCB's current leader Muhammed Abdul Bari surprisingly stated that "the police and and the security services deserve the fullest support and co-operation from each and every sector of our society, including all Muslims."

This is rather surprising. In the past, the MCB, which is funded by the British government, has normally been hesitant to tell Muslims to go to the police if they suspect some of their friends or acquaintances to be involved in Islamic terrorism! As for former Islamist Ed Husain, he's rather not convinced by the stances adopted by the MCB.

According to Husain, "none of the leading members of the MCB have condemned the hard-line anti-Western ideology of figures such as Syed Qutb, the Egyptian radical fundamentalist who developed, in the early Sixties, the theological justification for violence in the name of establishing an Islamic state." He also added that "no one from the MCB seems willing to make that move." Moreover, the MCB never condemned the Hamas' bombings against Israel.

Now, talk about an organization that is supposed to represent moderate Muslims! It's about time that the British government sees that trust can be misplaced.

Obviously, the MCB has always been a factory of controversies. For example, Iqbal Sacranie, err I mean Sir Iqbal Sacranie once said that homosexuality is "not acceptable" despite adding that everybody should be tolerant. By referring to same-sex civil partnerships as "diseases", Sacranie also affirmed that they're "harmful" and don't have their place in "the very foundations of society." Let's also not forget the time when Muhammad Abdul Bari said that "British should try arranged marriages"...

Hopefully, there are British Muslims who have coherently and openly blasted Islamism and jihadists. In fact, think about political columnist Yasmin Alibhai Brown, Imran Ahmad (a young trustee of the British Muslims for Secular Democracy), Ed Hussain, Hassan Butt, Amid Hussain, Michael Nazir-Ali and members of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.

The British government just wrongly assumed that the MCB, as a political body, is a voice for real moderate Muslims. Instead, the 400 morons of the MCB were more interested on being incoherent and injustices in the Middle East rather than on issues that affect all British. Of course, these issues are: community relations and home-grown terrorism. Yet, the MCB still pretends that it speaks for all sane Muslims.

If the MCB was a real political body for all sane Muslims, there's certainly no need to wonder why groups like British Muslims for Secular Democracy and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain were created! The British government can either pull the rug under the MCB (and also other useless political bodies) or just ridicule itself.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Canada's Ambition for Beijing 2008: Who Cares?

To reach the 15th place in the medal table of the Olympic Games of Beijing, the Canadian Olympic Committee's (COC) summer sports division deemed that the federal government must pour $58.8 million. However, during the previous summer Olympic Games of Athens in 2004, Canada got 12 medals.

Now, guess what? The COC's objective ranged from 18 to 20 medals! No surprise here. In the last federal budget, Finance minister Jim Flaherty decided that the COC's summer sports division won't get a penny!

Moreover, the COC's program called Own the podium 2010 will receive $22 million on a yearly basis. The Canadian government's refusal to financially back Canadian athletes' ambition up for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing probably means something: money won't help Canada to buy a place in the top 10 of the medal table in 2008.

After all, who cares a fig about our country's objective for the next summer Olympic Games? It's true that our athletes can win medals in diving, canoe and rowing. Hence, some money could have been granted to athletes who practice these sports. Indeed, Chris Rudge, the CEO of the COC, said that a governmental support of $10 million can help Canada to get at least 2 to 4 medals more in Beijing.

Nonetheless, almost nobody in Canada just doesn't give a business if our athletes win a medal next year in Beijing. Without being rude, let's not dither to say that there are no improvement to expect from Canada in summer sports. In fact, back in Athens, remember that some of our biggest hopes ended up being flashes in the pan just at the wrong place and at the wrong moment.

For instance, Perdita Félicien, the world champion in hurdling, hit a hurdle and it cost her a gold medal. Secondly, Lyne Bessette finished in 16th place in biking because Dutch biker Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel fell on her. Thirdly, wrestler Daniel Igali, who won a gold medal in Sydney, couldn't go further then the quarter finals. Besides, we can also talk about the bad performance of Canada's swimming team.

Sad though it might sound, helping our athletes for the 2010 winter Olympic Games in Vancouver represents a smarter investment. Last year, the COC's objective was fixed to 25 medals and our country finished the Turin Olympic Games with... 24 medals! The only source of nationwide dismay came from the men's hockey team. Best of all, this nation stood on the 3rd rank in the final medal count.

In general, Canada's performance at Olympic Winter Games has been improving if we start with the Nagano Olympic Games in 1998. While this country got 13 medals in 1998, it went on to win 17 ones in Salt Lake City in 2002. Afterwards, the nation won 24 medals in Turin in 2006. Now, talk about an improvement!

Granting $22 million to the COC's Own the podium 2010 on a yearly basis looks fine if we consider the fact that the next Olympic Winter Games will be held in none other than Vancouver, which is a Canadian city, mind you. Not only we'll welcome the world, but we also want to show to other nations that our home and native land is in a good position to become the world's superpower in winter sports. Remember that Canada finished close to the USA in the final medal count.

Besides, the program Own the podium 2010 is supposed to help Canada to finally keep getting gold medals in winter sports. In fact, whenever Olympic Games were held in Canada, our athletes never won any gold medals. It's clear and obvious that federal subsidies to the COC's Own the podium 2010 will help our athletes to make us proud of who we are, as Canadians, on our own soil by winning gold medals. There's no doubt that most of (if not all) the best winter sport athletes are born in Canada!

Finally, remember that during last year, it was said on CBC that winter is the greatest "reminder of what it means to be a Canadian."

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Happy Birthday Canada!

Ok, I really don't know what to write today, so I'll just make it quick. Today, Canada is going through its 140th birthday. Let's hope that better days await this country so that our children can have a better future. So, I'll leave you with some suggestions on books and movies (all made in Canada!) along with a quiz on Canadian History. Enjoy, because there are just a few simple questions!

Suggested books:
1. The Whirlpool, by Jane Urquhart
2. Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery
3. Bonheur d'occasion (The Tin Flute), by Gabrielle Roy
4. The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje
5. Les sept jours du talion, by Patrick Senécal

Suggested movies
1. Where the Truth Lies, directed by Atom Egoyan
2. eXistenZ, directed by David Cronenberg
3. C.R.A.Z.Y., directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
4. Felicia's Journey, directed by Atom Egoyan
5. Les ordres, directed by Michel Breault

And now, get ready for the quiz on Canadian History! Ready or not, here it comes! Just post your answers in your comment. Thank you.

1. Which one of these things DOES NOT belong to the Canadian culture?
a) The Bluenose boat
b) The Bloody Caesar (cocktail)
c) Hockey
d) The Liberty Bell

2. True or false: Was the ideology of multiculturalism invented in Canada?

3. The province of Alberta was named after who?
a) A Métis girl who got killed during the colonization of the province.
b) The daughter of Alexander Rutherford, Alberta's first Premier ever.
c) Princess Louise Caroline Alberta (1848-1939), the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria

4. In the English version of the national anthem written by Robert Stanley Weir, the passage saying "the true North strong and free" historically refers to what?
a) An old racist mentality from French and English Canadians expressed towards Americans, black people and Easterners from the 19th century to the 1960s.
b) A geographical worship of Canada's landscapes.
c) The tough winter period in Canada.

5. The picture of the duck on the loonie is taken from a painting made by who?
a) Robert-Ralph Carmichael
b) Alex Colville
c) Emily Carr
d) Jean Paul Lemieux

6. What is the title of Newfoundland's anthem?
a) Ode to Newfoundland!
b) Long live Newfoundland!
c) O Newfoundland!

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