Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Liberals Hang On In Canada

Canada held an election yesterday and Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party, will retain his post as prime minister as his party kept enough seats to form a minority government.

Via CBC:

After a tight campaign that saw the two leading parties struggle to break out of the pack, the Liberals under Justin Trudeau have held on to just enough seats in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Ontario to secure a minority government.

Both Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh have spoken with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to acknowledge the election results.

While final ballots are still being counted in several ridings, the Liberals are expected to win 156 seats, 21 fewer than they started with 40 days ago. The Conservatives moved up from 95 seats to an estimated 122, while the NDP lost 15 seats to end up with 24.

The Liberals managed to win despite preliminary numbers showing the Conservatives won the popular vote, taking 34.5 per cent of the vote to the Liberals’ 33 per cent. That result was most pronounced in the Prairies, where Conservative turnout and support was very high.

For those of you unfamiliar with how the parliamentary system works, here’s a brief explainer: The party that wins the most seats for the federal parliament in the local districts in the provinces (called “ridings”) gets to form the government, and the leader of that party gets to be prime minister.  If that worked here in the United States, that would mean Nancy Pelosi would be running things.  (Would that it were so…)

It wasn’t an easy race for Trudeau.  He’s faced a number of stumbles, including a few scandals and his own black-face stupidity from his distant past.  But the Conservative leader, Andrew Scheer, didn’t do himself any favors by having to explain why he was a dual Canadian/U.S. citizen (a situation somewhat similar to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX); it’s his dad’s fault), and having to explain his previous views on marriage equality (he was against it).

The Conservatives did very well out west — the Liberals didn’t win a single seat in Alberta and Saskatchewan — but it’s also sparsely populated as compared to Ontario and Quebec, and the fact that there’s more than one major party in the mix diluted the Liberals’ support in the east and Atlantic Canada.

A couple of notes of observation: Canadian elections take forty days from the time they’re called to election day.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  Also, during the election, the news media, or at least the CBC, does not refer to the incumbent prime minister by his title; he or she is “[Party] leader.”  Therefore for the last forty days, it’s been “Liberal leader Justin Trudeau,” not “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,” even though he still is the PM.  I assume that’s because the press doesn’t want to give the slightest impression that they’re favoring one party over another.  That’s very Canadian: always play fair.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Happy October Holiday

To some, today is Columbus Day. In some places, school is out and it’s a holiday. Not in Miami-Dade County, though, which means I’m at work, and to some people, celebrating the arrival of Christopher Columbus is seen as not necessarily a good thing.

In Canada, it’s Thanksgiving Day. That means they get a six-week jump on Christmas shopping. I am sure they are thrilled to be inundated with jingling bells and heralding angels before the leaves are off the maples.

Anyway, enjoy the holiday if you celebrate it.

Canadian Thanksgiving

Monday, July 1, 2019

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Wrong Border

The Trump minions have been telling us that thousands of terror suspects have been pouring over the southern border which is why we need a state of emergency to end the horror.

Yeah, no.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered only six immigrants at ports of entry on the U.S-Mexico border in the first half of fiscal year 2018 whose names were on a federal government list of known or suspected terrorists, according to CBP data provided to Congress in May 2018 and obtained by NBC News.

The low number contradicts statements by Trump administration officials, including White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who said Friday that CBP stopped nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists from crossing the southern border in fiscal year 2018.

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen told reporters on Monday the exact number, which NBC News is first to report, was classified but that she was working on making it public. The data was the latest set on this topic provided to Congress. It is possible that the data was updated since that time, but not provided to Congress.

Overall, 41 people on the Terrorist Screening Database were encountered at the southern border from Oct. 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018, but 35 of them were U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. Six were classified as non-U.S. persons.

On the northern border, CBP stopped 91 people listed in the database, including 41 who were not American citizens or residents.

So it’s the Canadians who are the real terrorists, with their hockey pucks and Tim Horton donuts sneaking in to overtake our nation.  And the way they do it is especially crafty: y’see, most of ’em are white with names like Gordie and Justin.  Very clever.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Happy October Holiday

To some, today is Columbus Day. In some places, school is out and it’s a holiday. Not in Miami-Dade County, though, which means I’m at work, and to some people, celebrating the arrival of Christopher Columbus is seen as not necessarily a good thing.

In Canada, it’s Thanksgiving Day. That means they get a six-week jump on Christmas shopping. I am sure they are thrilled to be inundated with jingling bells and heralding angels before the leaves are off the maples.

Anyway, enjoy the holiday if you celebrate it.

Canadian Thanksgiving

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Sunday Reading

The Forgotten Border — Porter Fox in the New York Times took a trip along the Canadian border with the U.S.

At 5,525 miles, the United States-Canada border is the world’s longest land boundary, more than double the length of the United States-Mexico line. It passes through remote terrain arrayed with 8,000-foot peaks, millions of acres of wilderness and four of the five Great Lakes — a lot of it essentially unguarded.

With President Trump’s unrelenting focus on the Mexican border and all the dangers he says it poses for America, the nation’s northern boundary has remained mostly an afterthought — even though it is potentially more porous than the southern border. More unsettling, haphazard enforcement and surveillance efforts there have upended commerce with our No. 2 trading partner and have struggled to stop extremists, drug traffickers and illegal immigrants from entering the United States.

“The problem is that we don’t know what the threats and risk are because so much attention is given to the Southwest border,” Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat from North Dakota, told The New York Times in 2016. She was the author of a bill that required the Department of Homeland Security to develop a threat assessment for the northern border.

Last month, the department announced its latest strategy to secure the border. Its report says that the principal challenge is ending the illegal flow of drugs between Canada and the United States. But there are other issues, like making it easier for people who live in cross-border communities to pass over the line, and speeding up the flow of trade and services — all while keeping up the country’s guard.

I spent the last three years traversing the northern border for a book about that so-called Hi-Line. The northland is a singular place, occupied by the sort of small towns that modern America has skipped over, obscure industries and old-world professions that rely on hands, not machines. It is also a wild place, with forests of old-growth hemlock, fir and birch; wild rivers; unnamed mountain ranges; and some of the largest roadless areas in America.

For much of my journey, it was difficult to discern where the border even was. I unintentionally crossed it dozens of times without seeing an agent or border monument. A French teenager jogging along a beach in British Columbia recently wasn’t so lucky. When she inadvertently crossed the unmarked border into the United States, she was detained for two weeks.

What I did see and hear were unhappy citizens on both sides of the line who said that the northern border’s “Mexicanization” — essentially, the American government’s mimicking of procedures it uses in the south — has resulted in congestion at ports of entry, invasive questioning at checkpoints, racial profiling and long delays, all of which that have changed life for the worse on both sides of the border.

Since the 18th century, when the northern border was first hastily sketched, the boundary has had the appearance of a scrawl. It divides more than a dozen American Indian tribes, and in Niagara Falls, N.Y., it cleaves North America’s most famous waterfall. Homes, businesses, golf courses and factories sit on the border. During Prohibition, taverns were built on the line so that Americans could be welcomed on one side and sold booze on the other.

Before the Sept. 11 attacks, half of the crossings between the United States and Canada were left unguarded at night. Since then, the Department of Homeland Security has increased the number of agents in the north by 500 percent and installed some of the same sensors, security cameras, military-grade radar and drones used on the United States-Mexico line.

The number of apprehensions along the northern border is relatively low compared with those along the southern line — about 3,000 in the 2017 fiscal year versus about 300,000 in the south.

Even so, every year, millions of dollars worth of smuggled drugs, including large quantities of opioids, like fentanyl, and an untold number of immigrants cross the border illegally into the United States. Motion sensors and cameras detect illicit crossers, some armed, in remote areas, but the agents can’t always get there in time to catch them.

Illicit drugs and illegal immigration are not the only concerns. A 2015 report by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs said, “Some experts also believe that terrorists could exploit vulnerabilities along the northern border to carry out an attack on the U.S.” and noted that in 2011, Alan Bersin, a former commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that in terms of terrorism, “it’s commonly accepted that the more significant threat comes from the U.S.-Canada” border rather than the border with Mexico.

Today, according to the Department of Homeland Security report, the potential terror threats come “primarily from homegrown violent extremists in Canada” who are not on terrorist watch lists and thus can cross into the United States legally.

Beyond the terrorism threat, the government has the challenge of overseeing a border crossed every day by more than 400,000 people and $1.6 billion in goods through some 120 points of entry. According to a 2011 study by researchers at the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, increased secondary searches and unpredictable waiting times at the border were costing Americans and Canadians as much as $30 billion annually. Homeland Security has been working to minimize those waiting times.

Intensified security at border crossings also has disrupted centuries-old international communities that straddle the line. Two centuries of intermarrying among French, Acadian, Indian, German, Scottish and Dutch people created families and communities that span the border. After decades of being able to cross the line at will, families, Native Americans, members of church congregations, and employees at hospitals and small businesses now find themselves confronted with a sometimes impassable and, occasionally hostile, barrier.

In the coming months, Homeland Security will begin to put in place its border management plan, which calls for enhanced border security while also doing a better job of facilitating cross-border trade and travel. Some of the actions proposed to achieved those ends have been suggested before, with little follow-through.

This time, perhaps, our border to the north will get the attention and resources it needs.

[Photo of border at Point Roberts, Washington, by Florian Fuchs.]

Doonesbury — More tweets from the twit.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Who’s The Bad Guy Here?

A photo from today’s summit between Kim and Trump”

Meanwhile, Dana Milbank at the Washington Post on how Trump really took out our enemies over the weekend.

O Canada: You had it coming, eh.

They inflicted Nickelback on us. We did nothing.

They sent us Justin Bieber. We turned the other cheek.

They were responsible for one abomination after the other: Poutine. Diphthong vowels. Hawaiian pizza. Instant mashed potatoes. Ted Cruz.

Still, we did not retaliate — until now.

Finally, the United States has a president with the brains and the guts to stand up to the menace of the north. This weekend President Trump called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “meek,” “very dishonest & weak” for protesting U.S. tariffs. Trump’s trade adviser said “there’s a special place in hell” for Trudeau, and Trump’s economic adviser said Trudeau “stabbed us in the back” and is guilty of “betrayal” and “double-crossing.”

How do you feel now, Canada? Or, to put it in a language you understand: How’s she bootin’er?

Trudeau earned his place in the underworld for some truly appalling rhetoric, saying “we’re polite, we’re reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around.” Offensive! He also found it “kind of insulting” that the Trump administration said it was imposing tariffs on Canadian goods “for a national security reason” given that Canadians “stood shoulder to shoulder with American soldiers in far off lands in conflicts from the First World War onward.”

Canada is not a national security threat to the United States? Au contraire, as they say in (very foreign) Quebec.

Trudeau conveniently omits the invasion of Detroit from Canada in 1812. And there was that ugly dispute in 1844 when soon-to-be President James K. Polk wanted the U.S. border to extend all the way north to Alaska at 54 degrees, 40 minutes latitude (slogan: “Fifty-four forty or fight!”) but was forced to accept the 49th parallel, a humiliation that denied us Vancouver and many great Chinese restaurants.

And let’s not even get started about the softwood lumber dispute. Too painful.

[…]

Inexplicably, these foreigners are not putting America First. That’s why Trump needs to quit the group and make his own G-8 — the Great Eight — with more sympathetic world leaders:

Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, who enjoys “a great relationship” with Trump as he deploys extralegal killing squads.

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, who is “very open” and “very honorable” in running the most repressive regime on Earth.

Egyptian dictator Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, who established himself as a “fantastic guy” with his bloody crackdown on dissidents.

The Saudi regime, which has been “tremendous” as it purges business leaders and critics.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is “getting very high marks” as he jails opponents.

China’s premier, Xi Jinping, who did something “great” in making himself president for life.

And, of course, Russian President Vladimir Putin, “getting an A” for his leadership and receiving a congratulatory call from Trump after his “election.”

There is no room in this G-8 for Britain, France, Germany, Italy or Japan — and certainly not Canada. Canadians say “ Sorry ” for everything. But Trudeau not only failed to apologize to Trump, he won praise from his political opponents for defying Trump. This is a clear and present danger to the United States. Given Canadians’ well-known instability — their currency is called the “ loonie ” — there can be only one solution: We are going to build a wall from Maine to Alaska — and Ottawa is going to pay.

Fifty-four forty or fight! MAGA! Take off, hosers.

Democracy and compromise is a sign of weakness to Trump.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Friday, February 9, 2018

Monday, October 9, 2017

Happy October Holiday

To some, today is Columbus Day. In some places, school is out and it’s a holiday. Not in Miami-Dade County, though, which means I’m at work, and to some people, celebrating the arrival of Christopher Columbus is seen as not necessarily a good thing.

In Canada, it’s Thanksgiving Day. That means they get a six-week jump on Christmas shopping. I am sure they are thrilled to be inundated with jingling bells and heralding angels before the leaves are off the maples.

Anyway, enjoy the holiday if you celebrate it.

Canadian Thanksgiving

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Friday, August 11, 2017

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Friday, July 14, 2017

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Tuesday, June 27, 2017