- Update: – Update: Mr. Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham, the Libyan Permanent Representative, who broke from Gaddafi days ago, speaks in the video below during Security Council Meeting on the situation in Libya. It is quite good.
Al Jazeera is also reporting that the US is in the process of finalizing a package of sanctions as well. I will echo the concerns raised below that sanctions are likely to have little if any effect on a man that: 1) already massacring the country’s citizens; 2) is promising to fight to the death; and, 3) is demonstrating he has next to grip on reality.
In better news, the UAE will deliver two plane loads of humanitarian aid to Libya, following on the heels of Qatar who have already sent a plane load.
And, UK officials are “contacting senior Libya figures directly to persuade them to desert Muammar Gaddafi or face trial alongside him for crimes against humanity” according to the Guardian.
- Update: The Gaddafis continue to replicate the Mubaraks. Saif Gaddafi had apparently chimed in today ahead of his father’s speech (see above and below) in an on air interview with CNN-Turk saying:
Breaking news out of Tripoli today where Ghadaffi has just made an unexpected public appearance in Green Square reportdely speaking to supporters and announcing he will be arming his civilian supporters to slaughter protestors.
“We can defeat any aggression if necessary and arm the people,” Gaddafi said, in footage that was aired Libyan state television on Friday.
“You, the youth, be comfortable… dance, sing, stay up all night,” he said.
His last speech, on Thursday evening, had been made by phone, leading to speculation about his physical condition.
The footage aired on Friday, however, showed the leader standing above the square, waving his fist as he spoke.
His speech came even as thousands of protesters against his regime across Libya focused their attention on the capital on Friday afternoon, following the midday prayer.
As demonstrators in Tripoli took to the street, security forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, reportedly began firing on them. At least six had been killed, according to the Associated Press news agency.
There was heavy gun fire in various Tripoli districts including Fashloum, Ashour, Jumhouria and Souq Al, sources told Al Jazeera.
“The security forces fired indiscriminately on the demonstrators,” said a resident of one of the capital’s eastern suburbs that has seen previous clashes between opponents of the regime and its remaining loyalists.
“There were deaths in the streets of Sug al-Jomaa,” the resident said.
The death toll since violence began remains unclear, though on Thursday Francois Zimeray, France’s top human rights official, said it could be as high as 2,000 people killed.
So, on a day when we are seeing the largest pro-democracy protests yet turnout in both Bahrain and Yemen, Western governments continue to be weak-kneed in their commitment to the ensuring the spread or democracy or their willingness to impede the violation of human rights, failing to take action to address the ongoing massacre and crimes against humanity taking place in Libya.
Elsewhere, Paul Wolfowitz enters the fray. While clearly hardly an expert in democratic transition – his Iraq clusterf*ck rages on today with reports that protests against the supposedly democratic government which has also taken to firing on its own citizens – does have at least one thing right. Sanctions, as being threatened by Germany, as well as admonishments are useless at this point. With no further ado, the Wolf on what to do:
The international community—to include the Obama administration—that is so concerned about the United States acting “unilaterally,” waits four days before even holding a meeting of the Security Council, while the Libyan people cry out desperately for help. Multilateral action takes much longer, so it should be organized earlier. The UN Security Council needs to do more today than just pass hortatory resolutions or impose sanctions that will have no immediate effect.
In a small vignette of what is happening in Libya: after Qaddafi’s chief of protocol came out against the regime, his house was raided and his daughter, the mother of three children, was seized and disappeared.
From everything we can tell, Saif al-Islam Qaddafi was serious when he warned that Libya would go back to the stone age, that the regime would fight to the last bullet and there would be nothing left. The regime seems determined to destroy the country before it goes down.
More public statements, or even the imposition of sanctions, are of absolutely no use at this point. Much more urgent action is needed. The United States should be seeking U.N. approval for:
— Recognition of a provisional authority in liberated areas (or even a Provisional Government of Free Libya if the Libyans can organize a credible one), initially in Benghazi in the east and Misurata in the west, which seem to be liberated, although are still under threat of air attack;
— Provision by member countries, including specifically Egypt and Tunisia, of any support requested by these provisional authorities;
— Imposition of a NATO-supported “no fly” zone over Libya to halt further bombing by Qaddafi’s forces;
— Urgent supply of food and medical supplies to any point in Libya that is accessible by road or by military transport aircraft;
— Provision of arms to the provisional authorities.
When there are so many things that could be done to help the unbelievably brave Libyan people—without any risk to American lives—it is shameful to be sitting on our hands. If that is not reason enough to act, then we should be thinking about the terrible reputation the United States is acquiring, by its inaction, among the Libyan people and throughout the region. It will stay with us for a long time.
Now Wolfowitz has never been a fan of the UN and would gladly take up any opportunity to criticize it, but I think he is criticism in this instance is well founded. He also takes his digs at the current administration which I think is both to be expected and fair. And none of what happening now in any ways his own and the Bush administrations own failings. A number of his suggestions are good and in line with the suggestions we posted a few days ago from the Libya Outreach Group.
That said I am highly skeptical of the suggestion of arming a provisional authority. Again, look at the mess that led to in Iraq and Afghanistan. Arming a provisional authority would demand America choose who to arm, and in effect the next Libyan government. That has disaster written all over it. Instead, I would be much happier to see the West, via the security counsel stick to the Libya Outreach requests of deploying peace-keeping forces. Here is the group’s lists again:
1. Establishing a no-fly zone to prevent Gaddafi from using the air-force against the Libyan people.
2. Calling on the United Nations Security Council to take decisive action and invoke Chapter 7 to stop the massacre of innocent civilians, and deployment of International Peace-keeping troops.
3. Facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid and relief supplies such as medicine, blood, food, and other basic provisions to the people of Libya.
4. Freezing the international assets of the Gaddafi family as well as senior officials.
5. Indicting Gaddafi for crimes against humanity and trying him in the International Criminal Court.
6. The immediate deployment of U.N. troops to confirm reports of crimes against humanity.
I’ve still not gotten to writing up the Khadr post yet. In part because each time I set forth to write the thing another important event unfolds. The latest bit of information comes by way of the WikiLeaks Cablegate.
It turns out that French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner raised the subject of Khadr with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in their first bilateral meeting, held on February 5th, 2009 in Paris. Unfortunately, the cable does not provide a great deal of detail on exactly what Kouchner said. The details are limited to essentially two lines in the cable:
On GTMO, [Kouchner] indicated Europe would help on a case-by-case basis, and asked the U.S. for assistance with a 15-year old Canadian national…
At the end of this discussion, [Kouchner] handed the Secretary a paper concerning Omar Khadr, a 15-year old Muslim of Canadian origin. The Secretary agreed to review the case.
Canada’s record on Khadr is dismal. Omar Khadr is, of course, a Canadian citizen, born and raised in the country until he was shipped off to a Taliban training camp by his terrorism financier father who was an associate of Osama Bin Laden (not that that should condition his or anyone’s citizenship). Canada is the only western country that has not pleaded for the return of its only citizen detained in Guantanamo; the nationals of all other western countries (Great Britain, Germany, Sweden and Australia) detained in Guantanamo had long been repatriated by their respective embassies while Khadr has languished in Gitmo for the last 8 years and was subject to torture. The refusal of both the previous Liberal and current Conservative governments to respect the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which it was one of the architects and is a signatory is a blight on the reputation of a country that likes to slap itself on the back for its record of human rights.
It is awfully depressing that Khadr had to rely on the Foreign Minister of another country to make his case while his own was own country was willing to be complicit in his torture and the denial of his legal rights, as recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Update: I want to make this point because I think it is important. Obviously Khadr’s treatment goes to the very heart of a comment Adriejan made on this post, discussing some of the reaction to WikiLeaks including calls for Assange’s assassination.
This can be seen in another leaked cable that recounts a meeting with former head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Jim Judd, from 2008. It makes the fact that Khadr was reliant on the French even more depressing.
¶2. (S/NF) Counselor of the Department of State Eliot Cohen and CSIS Director Jim Judd in Ottawa on July 2 discussed threats posed by violent Islamist groups in Canada, and recent developments in Pakistan and Afghanistan. (CSIS is Canada’s lead agency for national security intelligence.) Director Judd ascribed an “Alice in Wonderland” worldview to Canadians and their courts, whose judges have tied CSIS “in knots,” making it ever more difficult to detect and prevent terror attacks in Canada and abroad. The situation, he commented, left government security agencies on the defensive and losing public support for their effort to protect Canada and its allies.
Legal Wrangling Risks Chill Effect
¶3. (S/NF) Responding to Dr. Cohen’s query, Judd said CSIS had responded to recent, non-specific intelligence on possible terror operations by “vigorously harassing” known Hezbollah members in Canada. According to Judd, CSIS’ current assessment is that no attack is “in the offing” in Canada. He noted, however, that Hezbollah members, and their lawyers, were considering new avenues of litigation resulting from recent court rulings that, Judd complained, had inappropriately treated intelligence agencies like law enforcement bodies (refs A and C). The Director observed that CSIS was “sinking deeper and deeper into judicial processes,” making Legal Affairs the fastest growing division of his organization. Indeed, he added, legal challenges were becoming a “distraction” that could have a major “chill effect” on intelligence officials.
¶4. (S/NF) Judd derided recent judgments in Canada’s courts that threaten to undermine foreign government intelligence that threaten to undermine foreign government intelligence-and information-sharing with Canada. These judgments posit that Canadian authorities cannot use information that “may have been” derived from torture, and that any Canadian public official who conveys such information may be subject to criminal prosecution. This, he commented, put the government in a reverse-onus situation whereby it would have to “prove” the innocence of partner nations in the face of assumed wrongdoing.
¶5. (S/NF) Judd credited Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s minority Conservative government for “taking it on the chin and pressing ahead” with common sense measures despite court challenges and political knocks from the opposition and interest groups. When asked to look to the future, Judd predicted that Canada would soon implement UK-like legal procedures that make intelligence available to “vetted defense lawyers who see everything the judge sees.”
Terror Cases and Communities Present Mixed Pictures
¶6. (C/NF) Judd commented that cherry-picked sections of the court-ordered release of a DVD of Guantanamo detainee and Canadian citizen Omar Khadr (ref D) would likely show three (Canadian) adults interrogating a kid who breaks down in tears. He observed that the images would no doubt trigger “knee-jerk anti-Americanism” and “paroxysms of moral outrage, a Canadian specialty,” as well as lead to a new round of heightened pressure on the government to press for Khadr’s return to Canada. He predicted that PM Harper’s government would nonetheless continue to resist this pressure.
It is one, undoubtedly very bad, thing when governments break laws. It is quite another when the machinery of government begins to treat the law as a hindrance and to dismiss demands from citizens and legal institutions to ensure that same government’s decisions and behaviour accord with the law as the stuff of “an “Alice in Wonderland” worldview” or to dismiss the unwillingness of citizens to passively accept the torture and the denial of legal rights of one of their fellow citizens as mere “knee-jerk anti-Americanism” or that old favourite “Canadian specialty”, “paroxysms of moral outrage”.
Unsurprisingly, since we haven’t treated the problem seriously, it has gotten worse. Julian Assange at Wikileaks has released massive amounts of classified data. Some of it is embarrassing. Some of it is very sensitive. Some of it could have political ramifications for our friends around the world, and worst of all, some of it could lead to the deaths of people who’ve risked their lives to help America. That’s the first reason why the CIA should have already killed Julian Assange.
1) Julian Assange aided the Taliban and risked the lives of Afghans who helped American forces.
2) Killing Julian Assange would send a message: Julian Assange is not an American citizen and he has no constitutional rights. So, there’s no reason that the CIA can’t kill him. Moreover, ask yourself a simple question: If Julian Assange is shot in the head tomorrow or if his car is blown up when he turns the key, what message do you think that would send about releasing sensitive American data? Do you think there would be any more classified American information showing up on Wikileaks?
3) You can’t run a government without secrets.
4) Releasing the information to the world is even worse than giving it to a single foreign government.
5) We need to regain the confidence of our allies who’ve been burned by these leaks.
Well, they’re probably going to have their way, as I wouldn’t wage any bets on the lifespan of Julian Assange – who has already announced that Russia and big corporations are next. Either that, or he’ll be arrested by Interpol.
Do that, and you make him a martyr.
- Update: Mark adds another shocking example, showing that this kind of reasoning is not confined to the U.S.
This clip shows Tom Flanagan – the former chief of staff to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Howard of the Conservative Party of Canada and Professor of Political Science at the University of Calgary – also suggesting that the United States should assassinate Assange on the CBC. Flanagan seems to be advocating a special version of masculinity whereby your toughness is associated with appearing on television advocating that someone else ‘man up’ (as if the suggestion that the rule of law be tossed out the window is not deranged enough).
Well, it sounds like this might be particularly bad news for the United States. The CBC is reporting that WikiLeaks is on the verge of another round of leaks “that could result in the expulsion of U.S. diplomats from foreign postings“. The US seems to have scrambled diplomats to try to head off the fallout. The new leak is reported to centre on diplomatic files.
The U.S. government has notified Ottawa that the WikiLeaks website is preparing to release sensitive U.S. diplomatic files that could damage U.S. relations with allies around the world.
U.S. officials say the documents may contain accounts of compromising conversations with political dissidents and friendly politicians and could result in the expulsion of U.S. diplomats from foreign postings.
A Foreign Affairs spokeswoman said the U.S. ambassador to Canada, David Jacobson, has phoned Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon to inform him of the matter.
Melissa Lantsman said the Canadian Embassy in Washington is “currently engaging” with the U.S. State Department on the matter.
A State Department spokesman said Wednesday the release of confidential communications about foreign governments probably will erode trust in the United States as a diplomatic partner.
U.S. diplomatic outposts around the world have begun notifying other governments that WikiLeaks may release the documents in the next few days.
Not sure if they are just trying lower expectations or if they are really this worried but this quote from State seems to be pretty grim:
“These revelations are harmful to the United States and our interests,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. “They are going to create tension in relationships between our diplomats and our friends around the world.”
Also it looks like Obama won’t be able to just be able to point to the previous clods (making my earlier tag pretty prescient):
Many of the cables are believed to date from the start of U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration, meaning that the White House will not be able to distance itself from any disclosures.
One concern, for example, is that the documents may reveal the kinds of pressure the U.S. administration has put on various countries to accept the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees who have been cleared for release but are unwelcome in their home countries.
The Globe notes that it may include conversations with regard to the repatriation of Canadian Omar Khadr. Khadr is one of the most egregious stories from Guantanamo. I had been meaning to post here on his case for the last while but had been a bit snowed under to do it justice. Depending on what the cables say this could be of particular embrarassment to the current, if not the previous, Canadian government. I will get something up here on Khadr on the weekend and the implications of this story for that story.
The New York Times sings Canada’s praises for avoiding the messy strife over immigration raging across much of the western world with a fairly lengthy article contrasting the Canadian experience, and especially the Manitoban experience, with the U.S. It describes how the province went out of its way to attract more new arrivals in an effort to compete with larger Canadian cities Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver where immigrants typically settle:
(…) Demanding “our fair share,” Manitobans did something hard to imagine in American politics, where concern over illegal immigrants dominates public debate and states seek more power to keep them out. In Canada, which has little illegal immigration, Manitoba won new power to bring foreigners in, handpicking ethnic and occupational groups judged most likely to stay.
This experiment in designer immigration has made Winnipeg a hub of parka-clad diversity — a blue-collar town that gripes about the cold in Punjabi and Tagalog — and has defied the anti-immigrant backlash seen in much of the world.
Rancorous debates over immigration have erupted from Australia to Sweden, but there is no such thing in Canada as an anti-immigrant politician. Few nations take more immigrants per capita, and perhaps none with less fuss.
Is it the selectivity Canada shows? The services it provides? Even the Mad Cowz, a violent youth gang of African refugees, did nothing to curb local appetites for foreign workers.
“When I took this portfolio, I expected some of the backlash that’s occurred in other parts of the world,” said Jennifer Howard, Manitoba’s minister of immigration. “But I have yet to have people come up to me and say, ‘I want fewer immigrants.’ I hear, ‘How can we bring in more?’ ”
“From the moment we touched down at the airport, it was love all the way,” said Olusegun Daodu, 34, a procurement professional who recently arrived from Nigeria to join relatives and marveled at the medical card that offers free care. “If we have any reason to go to the hospital now, we just walk in.”
(…)Canada has long sought immigrants to populate the world’s second largest land mass, but two developments in the 1960s shaped the modern age. One created a point system that favors the highly skilled. The other abolished provisions that screened out nonwhites. Millions of minorities followed, with Chinese, Indians and Filipinos in the lead.
Relative to its population, Canada takes more than twice as many legal immigrants as the United States. Why no hullabaloo?
With one-ninth of the United States’ population, Canada is keener for growth, and the point system helps persuade the public it is getting the newcomers it needs. The children of immigrants typically do well. The economic downturn has been mild. Plus the absence of large-scale illegal immigration removes a dominant source of the conflict in the United States.
French and English from the start, Canada also has a more accommodating political culture — one that accepts more pluribus and demands less unum. That American complaint — “Why do I have to press 1 for English?” — baffles a country with a minister of multiculturalism.
Another force is in play: immigrant voting strength. About 20 percent of Canadians are foreign born (compared with 12.5 percent in the United States), and they are quicker to acquire citizenship and voting rights. “It’s political suicide to be against immigration,” said Leslie Seidle of the Institute for Research on Public Policy, a Montreal group.
The article does note that there are “some stirrings of discontent”, though it gives them pretty short shrift, and does quote an individual, Martin Collacott, from an NGO “that advocates less immigration”. Collacott argues that “There’s considerably more concern among our people than is reflected in our policies”. This is quite likely accurate for at least some parts of the population. Although even there note that the argument is not to cease or radically reduce immigration. Even Collacot notes “There’s literally no one in Parliament willing to take up the cudgel”.
The article, while playing into mythology of the ‘always nice’ Canadian, points to some factors that may explain why the Canadian experience might be successful:
The Manitoba program, started in 1998 at employers’ behest, has grown rapidly under both liberal and conservative governments. While the federal system favors those with college degrees, Manitoba takes the semi-skilled, like truck drivers, and focuses on people with local relatives in the hopes that they will stay. The newcomers can bring spouses and children and get a path to citizenship.
Most are required to bring savings, typically about $10,000, to finance the transition without government aid. While the province nominates people, the federal government does background checks and has the final say. Unlike many migrant streams, the new Manitobans have backgrounds that are strikingly middle class.
“Back home was good — not bad,” said Nishkam Virdi, 32, who makes $17 an hour at the Palliser furniture plant after moving from India, where his family owned a machine shop.
He said he was drawn less by wages than by the lure of health care and solid utilities. “The living standard is higher — the lighting, the water, the energy,” he said.
The program has attracted about 50,000 people over the last decade, and surveys show a majority stayed. Ms. Howard, the immigration minister, credits job placement and language programs, but many migrants cite the informal welcomes.
“Because we are from the third world, I thought they might think they are superior,” said Anne Simpao, a Filipino nurse in tiny St. Claude, who was approached by a stranger and offered dishes and a television set. “They call it friendly Manitoba, and it’s really true.”
One complaint throughout Canada is the difficulty many immigrants have in transferring professional credentials. Heredina Maranan, 45, a certified public accountant in Manila, has been stuck in a Manitoba factory job for a decade. She did not disguise her disappointment when relatives sought to follow her. “I did not encourage them,” she said. “I think I deserved better.”
They came anyway — two families totaling 14 people, drawn not just by jobs but the promise of good schools.
Every province except Quebec now runs a provincial program, each with different criteria, diluting the force of the federal point system. The Manitoba program has grown so rapidly, federal officials have imposed a numerical cap.
But Arthur DeFehr, chief executive officer of Palliser furniture, does see a lesson: choose migrants who fill local needs and give them a legal path.
With 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, he sees another opportunity for Manitoba. “I’m sure many of those people would make perfectly wonderful citizens of Canada,” he said. “I think we should go and get them.”
While I love DeFehr’s pragmatic attitude and think it may be a big part of the story of the continued success of immigration in Canada I am not as sure that any of the factors in the Times’ story fully explains, unto themselves or in combination, Canada’s seemingly more positive immigration attitudes or experience. The article glosses over the fact that there has been considerable evolution in Canadian immigration policy, processes and requirements. For example, the greater devolution to provinces to craft their own immigration agendas is pretty new. There have been changes in the point system over time, and indeed the point system itself was only created in 1967. And yet, Canada has a fairly positive immigration experience over a broader time span. This short presentation provides a much fuller description of this evolution examining eight periods of Canadian immigration history. So it seems to me there is something more at play here that the article does not dig into. Perhaps it is the very adaptability that the author make so little of that has led to the great benefits immigrations has bestowed upon Canada?
Recent polling seems to affirm the article’s general thrust, that there is no prominent anti-immigration thrust among politicians or most citizens:
More than half of Canadians (54%) said they think the number of immigrants coming to Canada is about right, up from 49% in 2004; Almost one in four (23%) said there are too many immigrants, down from 31% in 2004.
Though there are nevertheless signs of unease:
The firm also said that while 71% of respondents said they felt immigration was good for Canada, the number declined to 48% when asked if they thought it was good for their neighbourhood …
The article leaves much to desire in identifying the historical and current problems and/or concerns that plague the Canadian immigration system. As that presentation linked to above makes much more explicit than the Times article did, Canada has had shameful racist immigration policies in the past. But, there are also a number of issues that should currently be raising eyebrows. This Maclean’s piece makes clear that whatever the upside of attracting more middle-class migrants, that it is also leading to exclusion. Even if the article is correct this does not amount to simple racial profiling it seems as though it may be having a similar, if not the same, effect. That Maclean’s article also makes clear how recent policy shifts are delaying and limiting family reunification. To the degree that we are wanting to attract folks who will stay and become permanent citizens this seems rather misguided not to mention it is rather crude to begin with. Finally, very recent responses to mass human trafficking cases threaten to recast how we define and treat refugees, both rhetorically and in practice, including what rights we afford them. All of these items – and they probably only scratch the surface – ought to be giving us serious pause and none of them are explored in the Times article.
We have a terrible habit in Canada whereby, to the degree that we are seen to compare favourably to our southern neighbours on any matter, whether important or not, we tend to pat ourselves on the back and rest on these laurels, however dubious they are. A great example is political culture. For years we prided ourselves on the fact that we had not succumbed to the worst excesses of the kind of negative politics practiced in the States, believing that our politics were more rational, grounded in reality and suitably gentle. Assuming that this would always be the case, no matter that the differences were probably considerably more narrow than perceived, we did little to figure out what the actual differences were, why they existed and how we might protect them (to the degree we saw them favourably). Today there is virtually no light separating American and Canadian politics. Let’s hope that we don’t take our positive immigration experience for granted in a world where immigration seems broadly under attack, and instead start working to address already growing number of serious problems now.
The Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s two national newspapers, weighs in with an article that notes how some locals, including businesses, are not eager for Ford’s war on graffiti.
When Evergreen decided to reinvent the Don Valley Brick Works, its creators went out of their way to preserve its graffiti-covered walls.
This is the side of Toronto Rob Ford wants to clean up.
From Evergreen’s perspective, however, the inclusion of the graffiti was a key business decision in maintaining the atmosphere of the site.
“It’s a legitimate art form down here,” says Geoff Cape, executive director of Evergreen, “in the sense that there’s a story line associated with it on how the site has been used.
“It’s also esthetically fantastic. In so many cases it’s really beautiful and contrasts in a really exciting way with the older industrial material.”
On the walls of the warehouse, colour is everywhere. Angular red lettering, deep blue shading and golden rays of light adorn the walls in thick, vibrant paint. Illegible flowing fonts and scribbled tags adorn almost every free surface. The graffiti in the Brick Works is a testament to the creative work of a generation of young artists, many of whom never expected their work to be seen.
“One of the key themes of the site is about our heritage and heritage conservation,” says Robert Plitt, manager of sustainability for Evergreen. “The heritage of the site is not simply around brick-making. There was a 20-year period where the site was abandoned and it was home to a whole different culture.”
Although the graffiti was illegally created, Mr. Cape remains philosophical. “It’s democracy. People need a place to explain their view on things,” he says. He sees very little difference between the tags on the walls here and the political slogans scrawled on the walls of Pompeii homes 2000 years ago.
Lisa Martin is the managing director of Well and Good, a studio of Toronto-based art promoters specializing in graffiti and street art. “It’s a time capsule of people who travelled through here,” she says after a recent tour of the site. “There’s work from artists from coast to coast. There’s a footprint of who was here and what they did – it’s a massive public sketchbook.”
Ms. Martin recognizes work from artists such as Robot, Nektar, and Ochre, the graffiti handles of artists who often work in different media as commercial artists and graphic designers, contributing to the economy by plying their craft. “Different writers have different colour relationships. A lot of Robot’s work is really lustrous and simple.”
Mr. Ferrara is particularly impressed with two adjacent murals at the end of the kiln warehouse. Artchild and Bacon are members of the Humble Servants of Art (HSA) Crew. “These guys are legends,” Mr. Ferrara says. “They’re one of the first Toronto crews. They’re just so talented at what they can do with a spray can. There’s stuff that’s 10 years old that nobody’s touched yet.”
Near the end of the tour, the Well and Good pair get excited when they see a bomb from New York-based graffiti artist Utah. “She’s public enemy No. 1 in a lot of ways,” says Mr. Ferrara, referring to Utah’s recent arrest for defacing public property in New York. She settled for $10,000 and a six-month jail term. Her tag at the Brickworks is probably years old.
It’s not about vandalism for the sake of destroying property, but about creativity and culture, something Mr. Ferrara wants Rob Ford to understand. “We’d love to take him around this site and explain the artistic merit of these pieces. We want everybody to understand their cultural importance,” he says. “Graffiti is part of the Toronto we love.”
It is a surprisingly cool piece from the Globe. It also include a slideshow of some of the pieces discussed. Unfortunately I am not optimistic that Ford will be receptive to the message.
From a North American (or even in Australia, my current home away from home) Cohen’s patience and near silence while the right-wing negotiations proceed is jarring. Instead one would expect Cohen to take every opportunity to rail against Wilders’ potential involvement in governing as well as against the other potential coalition partners for allowing Wilders to even get near such an opportunity. Cohen could easily have added pressure to the already splintering CDA. And his incentive seems to be clear enough: if the current right-wing talks had failed to deliver a coalition agreement, the next iteration of negotiations would likely have included Cohen’s PvdA front and centre.
Harper also had some comments on minority governments and coalitions, given that Cameron is the head of a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.
“Losers don’t get to form coalitions,” Harper said, in a shot apparently aimed at Canadian opposition parties…
“And of course this coalition in Britain, I would note, doesn’t contain a party dedicated to the break up of the country. And these were, as you know, the two problems in Canada, the proposition by my opposition was to form a coalition with the purpose of excluding the party that won the election and for the purpose of including a party dedicated to the break up of the country,” Harper said.
The British situation has some “instructive lessons for Canada,” he added.
Harper made the most of the opportunity to misrepresent not just the Westminster system and responsible government, but also a nearly formed coalition set on ending his grasp on power shortly after the last Canadian election. Without getting into all the gory details (see link below for more info), the key point is this: Harper in facing down a potential coalition consisting of the centrist Liberals and social democrat New Democratic Party that relied on the separatist Bloc Quebecois in much the same manner that Rutte and Verhagen will rely on the Islamaphobe Wilders, launched into all sorts of invective to (effectively) turn public opinion against the coalition effort.
A fiery Harper, in turn, accused Dion of “playing the biggest political game in Canadian history,” saying the [then] Liberal leader would recklessly attempt to govern the country amid a global economic crisis under threat of veto by “socialists and separatists.”
The over the top rhetoric hit its peak when Harper’s Conservative Party sent out Member of Parliament Daryl Kramp to the mic to address the proposed coalition’s effort to unseat the government and gain an opportunity from the Governor General to govern in its place:
“This is over the top now. This is a coup d’état. It makes us look like a banana republic. The only difference here is there’s no blood, thank goodness.”
To those paying attention, like prominent Canadian pundit Paul Wells, Harper has already made clear that nearly two years later he intends to continue to campaign on much the same lines:
On Sept. 14 in a wedding hall in Edwards, Ont., Harper said, “Friends, next time the choice will be either a Parliament where we Conservatives have the majority of seats, or one where the Liberals, NDP and Bloc Québécois have the majority of seats.”
Pay no attention to the opposition’s current silence on the matter, he said. “Regardless of what they tell you during an election, they will form a coalition the day after that election is over. Last time they waited—and they found out that that meant they couldn’t get away with it without having another election.” He said the opposition could never campaign on an explicit promise to form a coalition. “They would have been slaughtered.”
I’ve noticed this line of argument repeatedly from Harper over nearly two years, and written about it often on my blog.
His speech last Tuesday at the Canadian Club of Ottawa was expected to be about the Canadian economy. Instead, it turned into a highly partisan rant about an “Ignatieff-NDP-Bloc Québécois Coalition” that will take over and bankrupt the country unless the Conservatives are elected to a majority.
Flaherty used the word ‘economy’ eight times in the speech. He referred to the coalition 14 times.
The speech, less than 24 hours after Parliament reopened for the fall sitting, ended any premise of civility and co-operation between the government and opposition and automatically had the election-speculation meters running.
While I would have been much more happy had the negotiations for the forthcoming right-wing Dutch government fall apart, and I have no particular sympathy for CDA, I do have a great appreciation for Cohen’s willingness and ability to reinforce the perception of Netherlands’s more consensual politics by not taking up the opportunity to vilify his opponents for the sake of grabbing power. And to be clear, this is not a call for the end of politics (what would I do with that half of my waking hours?!?!). But, there is much to be said for a more mature brand of politics than that currently practiced by governments and opposition alike in Canada, the United States or Australia.
Now hopefully the Netherlands’ seemingly inevitable new right-wing government will self-implode before they cause too much damage…
Of course challenges to my argument are most welccome!