Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2007

Tories didn't need dirty tricks to deliver a message

Somebody play the theme from Deliverance. The Liberals got caught with their pants down and they're squealing like pigs. Weeeee. What kind of crazy world is this when the federal Conservatives launch attack ads, then admit they did it?Amateurs. It's not like the good old days when the Liberals could launch a smear against Stephen Harper without leaving any fingerprints, then watch it unfold as "news." Oh, what fun that was. It was mid-December, 2005, in the midst of the last federal election campaign, when a Canadian Press reporter travelling with Conservative leader Stephen Harper was approached by -- how did they describe him -- "an opponent of his social policies." It was the day before the first leaders debate on T.V. and just after the Liberal communications director had said parents getting monthly child care payments would just spend it on beer and popcorn. Psst, said the tipster. ( Okay, we made that up for dramatic effect - ed.) The "opponent

War in Afghanistan 2007, Week Four

A NATO official has dropped a bombshell about Canadian policy in Afghanistan which may have deadly implications for the troops in the field. Mark Laity, the senior civilian NATO spokesman in Kabul, told the Greek news agency AKI that the Canadian forces administering Kandahar Province are following the example of British forces and signing controversial peace deals. Under the deals, known as the Helmand Protocol, the International Security Assistance Forces surrender control of provincial districts to councils consisting of local clerics and tribal elders. Nato troops and Taliban fighters are supposed to withdraw from the districts. The councils chose their own police chiefs and pledge loyalty to the central government. They are in charge of keeping Taliban insurgents out. Yeah, sure. The first such deal was signed last October in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province, which the Brits administer. The British are expanding the idea to the Sangin and Nawzad districts of Helmand. A

The Taliban cries "Uncle"

With the mainstream media in the country obsessing on the Pickton trial, the biggest story out of Afghanistan has gone unreported. The Taliban announced last Sunday that they have decided to open their own schools! The first classes start in March. The significance of this can't be overstated. It's a clear signal of defeat. This is bigger than the military thumping they got from NATO forces during Operation Medusa last September. Three weeks ago, The Black Rod noted that Mullah Omar, in his first interview in five years, talked about the Taliban's purported concern for the education of girls. And we red-flagged the significance of this surprising declaration. "Girls schools were either too few or were nonexistent before we took over," he said. "We were preparing a strategy for girls' education in accordance with the Sharia." The mere fact he's claiming that the Taliba

The Coming Wave of Made-in-Manitoba Movies

With the Sundance Film Festival ongoing and the Oscar nominations announced Tuesday, everyone is talking movies. Why should we be different? Early last week (on the coldest days of the winter so far, wouldn't you know it) the advance team from the independent thriller The Horsemen was expected in town to do the prep work before shooting starts at the end of the month. Director Jonas Akerlund has to brave the wind chill in Winnipeg for two and a half weeks before the stars arrive, Dennis Quaid and Ziyi Zhang. Well, you knew it was a dangerous job when you took it. The one saving feature is that the movie is sure at least to break even. Ziyi Zhang--- yes, she of Hidden Tiger Hidden Dragon, Flying Daggers, and Memoirs of a Geisha---is such a star in the East that she'll carry the flick by her lonesome over there. Zhang, it's said, plays Kristin, "a dangerous and manipulative young teenager" who forms a small gang with four boys to avenge the victims of injustice. D

A new policy at the Winnipeg Free Press: Facts are Optional

Just when you think the Winnipeg Free Press can't sink any further --- it sinks further. This week we learned that henceforth at the venerable daily newspaper, facts are optional. Columnist Gordon Sinclair wrote a blistering attack Thursday on Mayor Sam Katz (no surprise there) based on an Executive Policy Committee vote to close Elmwood Community Centre. "... the mayor and his chosen councillors voted to close Elmwood Community Centre ." Why? " The real reason appears to be that an easy target ." If only Manitoba Public Insurance funded community centres it could reduce car theft, he bleats . " Places like Elmwood ." ... " Next week city council will vote on the closure of Elmwood Community Centre ." Except that city council isn't voting on the closure of Elmwood Community Centre. Mayor Sam Katz "and his chosen councillors" have never voted to close Elmwood Community Centre. And who knows if Elmwood Community Centr

War in Afghanistan 2007, Week three

There was more exciting action, more intrigue and more twists in Afghanistan this week than in a full season of 24. It's still too early to start cheering, but there are indications of major developments that favour the NATO mission to stamp out the Taliban insurgency and bring peace to the beleagured country. A brief sampling of what happened during week three of the War in Afghanistan, 2007: * NATO troops are abuzz with the story of the most daring rescue mission of the war, one that will be celebrated in British military books for generations * Six Pakistani nuclear scientists were kidnapped and their captors said they were taking the men to a Taliban commander on Afghanistan's border * And the governor of an Afghan province next to Pakistan said a Taliban spokesman was captured in a house containing packets of anthrax. Have you read any of these stories in your local newspaper or seen them on any national television newscast? Early Monday morning in Helmand province a Briti

Centreventure's cinematic solution to spiff up downtown Winnipeg

CentreVenture's latest plan for revitalizing downtown Winnipeg is breathtaking. Not breathtaking like when a stunningly beautiful woman walks into the room. But breathtaking like when your boat overturns in Lake Winnipeg and you're going down for the third time. The plan as outlined to city council Thursday consists of spending all the money in CentreVenture's bank account over the next three years and heading for the exit doors before the public starts asking questions. Left behind to distract the mob, if all goes well, will be three new parkades, some spruced up parks and maybe some flashing neon lights along Portage Avenue. It ain't the bright lights of New York's Broadway, but it'll do in a pinch. And, boy, is CentreVenture in a pinch. Its clear that CentreVenture has openly abandoned its designated role in revitalizing downtown Winnipeg. "The CentreVenture mandate is to lead and encourage business investment and development downtown, and enhance th

War in Afghanistan 2007, Week Two

The second week of 2007 was hugely successful for NATO forces in Afghanistan. As usual, we'll examine the action and the analysis of the mission. The Action Paktika Surprise Paktika is a province of Afghanistan bordering Pakistan and to the east of Kandahar (where Canadians lead the NATO mission). It was the scene of a major Taliban defeat this week in a battle that may foreshadow a more active role by Pakistan in disrupting the easy passage of insurgents across the border. Taliban forces, driven out of Kandahar in the fall, have been putting pressure on Paktika in operations that have not made the radar of the Western press until Friday. In 2006, the governor of Pakita was killed by a suicide bomber; he was the highest ranking political figure to be murdered by the Taliban all year. During first week of January this year, a suicide bomber (the year's first) tried to drive his car into a NATO convoy in Paktika. Troops opened fire and he detonated his explosives, killing only hi