The fifth-floor kitchen in the Government Conference Centre was the spot where future prime minister Jean Chrétien and the attorneys general, Roy McMurtry of Ontario and Roy Romanow of Saskatchewan, reportedly hammered out a compromise that helped save the tense constitutional talks from failure.
If I had my way they'd raze the building and salt the earth.
Nice little internet business you've got here. Would be a shame if something happened...
Netflix refused to heed a demand from Canada’s federal broadcast regulator to hand over confidential customer data by Monday evening despite threats its exemption from regulation would be revoked if the video streaming service did not comply.
“While Netflix has responded to a number of the CRTC’s requests, we are not in a position to produce the confidential and competitively sensitive information ordered by the commission due to ongoing confidentiality concerns,” said Netflix spokesperson Anne Marie Squeo in a statement Monday night.
Caudilho Jean-Pierre Blais of the CRTC actually ordered Netflix to hand over their confidential information. Acting as if he was a judge in a criminal trial instead of a busybody interfering with a successful business that is violating no one's rights. It's questionable as to whether the CRTC even has the legal power to make such a request. Netflix is not a broadcaster in any traditional sense of the word. The story behind the story is that a Trudeau-era regulatory framework is running smack up against the modern world.
With technology speeding past the CRTC Mandarins they are confronted with three options: 1) Acquiesce and watch as time turns them into a medieval guild during the industrial revolution. 2) Lobby the government to explicitly expand their powers over the internet. 3) Say to hell with the rule of law and see what they can get away with.
Option 1 ain't happening because too many cushy jobs are at stake. Option 2 ain't happening because the Tories may not understand capitalism but they don't actively hate it. This leave us with option 3. As you can tell it is by far and away the worst option. This isn't just a bad for consumers story it's a bad for freedom story as well.
At the moment much of the media is focused on the pick and pay cable model debate. But the debate is little more than a statist three card monte trick, the government's crude attempt to legislate business into behaving like what they think a free market should look like. The future, however, is being decided in the Netflix case.
Since the CRTC's ability to regulate the internet is at best questionable, despite the agency's repeated insistence that it can regulate whatever and whenever, the fight with Netflix is an obvious test case. They're hoping that if they can force the 800 pound gorilla Netflix to cave it will be easier to intimidate the rest of the Canadian web. They are seeking to accomplish this largely on the basis of bluff. It's like threatening to shoot someone without showing them your gun.
Netflix, which thinks of the Canadian market as a side salad in its global strategy, is not backing down. If they surrender to the tin pot tyrants of the CRTC it will set a terrible precedent when dealing with the big boys at the American FCC or the umpteen regulatory bodies of the European Union. Whatever it's rationale Netflix has struck a small blow for freedom. Since large companies have an unfortunate habit of not seeing past their cash registers don't expect it to last. This is likely the first salvo of a bargaining war. Netflix might succeed in fighting off any regulatory supervision, or it may just partially cave. Agree to some "voluntary" regulation while keeping most of its data private.
If the Tories understood the case for freedom, instead of paying it so much blue sweatered lip service, this would be a perfect time to show it. The CRTC is an arcane and technical body. Most Canadians are aware of its existence only so far as it relates to their cable bill. A reform minded government, how I love that word reform, could quietly gut the CRTC and let history take its course. In ten years the very word broadcasting is going to sound as quaint as Telex and telegram. Let the CRTC fade into that twilight where FIRA and NEP now reside. It belongs nowhere else.
The Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State (Social Development), along with business leaders, social agencies, and members from all levels of government last night participated in the 4th Annual CEO Sleepout event. Over 145 participants camped out overnight on Portage Street in Winnipeg in order to raise awareness and support homeless employment programs.
Because downtown commuters are somehow unaware that other human beings are sprawled strategically at busy intersections. They are perfectly aware and deliberately ignore what they see. Partly it's human nature to ignore the unpleasant, partly it's an understanding as to the unacknowledged nature of homelessness.
People sleep on the streets not because of a lack of funding, immigrants who barely speak English are able to tap the social safety net, it's because being homeless is a symptom not a cause. The primary drivers are mental illness and addiction. A humane society might identify those lacking the capacity to make decisions, such as those who wander about begging for money while mumbling incoherently, and place them in specialized hospitals. We used to do that. However flawed that approach the current method seems hardly better.
But our modern age believes protective custody would be cruel. A much kinder thing to leave people to freeze in a Canadian winter. A far more compassionate thing to have a minister of the crown play at being homeless as if to mock these people's plight. Like Marie Antoinette playing at peasant.
When Conservative MP Michael Chong launched his bid to rebalance the power between MPs and party leaders, it was seen as a noble, if doomed, endeavour — a quixotic campaign to restore a modicum of dignity to beleaguered backbenchers that would almost certainly be squelched by the front benches at the earliest possible opportunity.
That is until the PMO and the Whips decided to "help" Mr Chong:
He announced last week that, after having "consulted widely with colleagues from all parties," he was prepared to change the bill in response to their "constructive criticism."
Under his latest offer, the bill would still amend the Elections Act to strike out a section requiring the party leader to sign off on nominations, but it would be up to the party to designate who should have the final say — which would presumably include simply leaving it in the hands of the leader.
I love the phrase "constructive criticism." You have the sneaking suspicion that Chong was sent to a Tory re-education camp in northern Alberta for "counter-revolutionary activities." I'm having visions of Peter Van Loan wearing a Mao-style tracksuit and yelling "Revionist!" at the inmates. Perhaps they were also smelting iron in backyard furnaces to produce steel.
Of course I'm joking. Peter Van Loan would never be caught dead wearing a tracksuit.
What is fascinating, in a grim sort of way, is that Chong wasn't forced to withdraw the bill, he was compelled to emasculated it with his own hands. A cruel and fitting punishment for his outrageous disloyalty. Had the Harperist High Command simply stomped on the bill, or allowed it to die on the Order Paper, the not always bright lights in the Press Gallery would have noticed and commented upon it. By allowing the bill to go forward, but as a harmless shell of legislation, the party leadership has neatly defused this political bomb with a minimum level of collateral damage. It's clever and cynical in a way that makes your skin crawl.
Michael Chong showed uncommon political bravery, or gross naivety, when he objected in 2006 to the Tories' the Quebecois-nation-within-a-united Canada gambit. It was empty political theatre but still grossly offensive to we Diefenbaker-style One Canada types still kicking around. Having left cabinet as a matter of principle for that disgrace, Mr Chong then proposed this bill as a matter of principle as well. But the bill, as it is now constituted, is so bereft of principles it could stand as a Liberal candidate in Papineau. So why not withdraw it?
If Mr Chong's real goal is reform this bill won't do it. It's cheap and tawdry window dressing. The honourable course of action is to denounce the bill and, if necessary, resign from caucus. That might spell the end of what's left of Michael Chong's political career. It would be a small price to pay for embarrassing not only the Tory leadership but for all the party leaders for having tacitly sanctioned this indignity to what's left of parliamentary government.
Fifty years ago this Sunday night, Canada successfully invaded America, or more precisely, Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster made their legendary first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show.
They performed "Rinse the Blood Off My Toga," a wry historical parody of the type they excelled at. In tough detective-story style, private eye Flavius Maximus (Wayne) pursued Brutus (Shuster) for the murder of Julius Caesar.
There are days when the blogging gods are very kind to me. This is one of those days:
In 2004, native protesters on the Kanesatake reserve in southwestern Quebec attacked a police station and set it on fire.
And they used a bulldozer in the attack – later seized by police.
The courts ordered it destroyed. Except bureaucrats at the department of Public Works made a mistake.
They didn’t destroy it; they sold it privately – for $5,555.
Does it really matter if the bulldozer was destroyed or sold off? The idea is to seize property used in a criminal enterprise. Will the criminals' feelings be hurt if the confiscated property is sold off instead of scrapped? Apparently the answer to that question is yes. The "protesters" in question demanded the bulldozer back. Which is pretty funny when you think about it. Does a non-aboriginal man who shoots his wife with a rifle get the rifle back when his prison sentence is over?
But that's not all folks. No sir. With the Government of Canada the fun never stops.
Now here is where things get really wacky. The bulldozer apparently “has a special significance for a group of aboriginal people in Kanesatake.”
No doubt. Perhaps it's their sacred bulldozer. Reminiscent of the bulldozers their ancestors used before the white man came. Anthropologists have well documented the role of heavy construction equipment in traditional aboriginal culture. Many of our readers will recall from their history textbooks how Joseph Brant used bulldozers to aid the British during the Revolutionary War. It is for this reason that the American rebels bestowed upon him the nickname "Bulldozer Brant."
Seriously. Just look it up.
So realizing they had accidentally sold off rather than scrapped the Sacred Bulldozer of Kanesatake, not that it really matters when you think about it, the bureaucrats then wanted the bulldozer back. Naturally the fellow who got the bargain basement bulldozer, with its holy magic powers, had no intention of selling it back. Our public servants, being the skilled negotiators that they are, wrestled the new owner to the ceiling and paid ten times the initial sale price.
Now for the really funny part, at least if you're not a Canadian taxpayer, the aboriginals who wanted their Holy Sacred Bulldozer back lost their case. So the bureaucrats were stuck with an overpriced bulldozer they no longer needed. Having gone through this remarkable bit of rigmarole our public servants have decided, no prizes for guessing, that the perfectly usable overpriced Holy Sacred Bulldozer is getting sent to the scrap heap anyway.
Never, ever forget that these people think they're smart enough to run our health care, teach our children and defend our borders.
The ability to lie or manipulate is more important to getting a job, keeping a job and getting promoted than actual talent or work ethic. This long observed truism of corporate life has finally been struck upon by business school researchers:
A study by University of Manitoba professor Nicolas Roulin found that hiring managers and recruiters can seldom detect when an applicant is using deceptive tactics in an interview. These can range from outright lying to more subtle attempts by candidates to make themselves look good, such as embellishing credentials or overstating past accomplishments.
For their next project researchers will determine that business people like money. The more money the better.