Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday October 22, 2014
Conservative government orders studies into homegrown terrorism
A day after committing six fighter jets and hundreds of personnel to the fight against the Islamic State, the federal Conservatives are commissioning five new studies into homegrown terrorism and terrorist financing.
Public Safety Canada issued a call for five new research projects into a variety of terrorism-related topics Wednesday, including the domestic impact of international conflict and the role of the internet in terrorist recruiting.
“These cases are rare, but the impact of an act of terrorism is potentially enormous, with serious and lasting psychological and emotional harm to a large number of individuals, as well as economic impact and/or the creation or escalation of tensions between communities and countries.”
The research will consider a number of questions:
- How does the “psychology of the internet” play into terrorist activities and recruitment?
- What are the domestic impacts of international conflicts, such as the war in Iraq?
- What are the gender dynamics involved in radicalization to violence?
- How are resources transferred to terrorist organizations? How are those resources moved and used?
- What makes people susceptible to recruitment into violent extremism?
Despite the government’s mockery of political opponents for searching for the “root causes” of terrorism or “engaging in sociology,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has committed around $5 million to similar research over the last three years. (Source: Toronto Star)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday October 18, 2014
What’s fair play in an election campaign?
The efforts of purported online hackers to “expose” a Ward 3 candidate as a Freemason just jumped to the top of a list of questionable campaign tactics in Hamilton.
It’s getting to be a long list.
Alleged mass destruction of Marie Robbins signs in Stoney Creek. An anonymous letter disputing how long Sandy Shaw has lived in Ward 1. A suspected “whisper campaign” about the health of mayoral candidate Brad Clark.
Clark, in turn, was accused of mudslinging after claiming candidate Fred Eisenberger misled the public by withholding rapid transit memos when he was last mayor. Clark then faced criticism when it was revealed he got the memos from outgoing Mayor Bob Bratina, not via a Freedom of Information request, as suggested by his campaign.
The difference between hardball tactics and dirty politics is often in the eye of the beholder, said political pundit Gerry Nicholls, known for creative attack ads during his time with the conservative National Citizens Coalition.
“Attack ads, brawling tactics … it’s kind of par for the course in elections,” said Nicholls, who fondly recalls skewering federal politicians using “farm animals and billboards.”
“Politics really is a blood sport. If you’re not ready for the rough stuff, maybe you’re not ready to run for office.”
Still, Nicholls said every candidate has to respect basic rules, such as libel law. “You don’t call someone a liar … You may hint at it, you may imply it,” he said. Also, do your research. A factually incorrect attack ad “can really come back and bite you.”
Clark rejects the characterization of his campaign as negative. He argued Thursday the vast majority of his announcements have been positive and added it’s fair to criticize the track record of opponents.
“There’s a difference between comparing performance and quite literally name calling,” said Clark in response to a Spectator question at a news conference on improving council relations.
The Stoney Creek councillor has indeed endured some notable barbs from mayoral competitors like Brian McHattie, who has called him “Machiavellian.”
Clark also recently held a news conference to address what he felt was a “whisper campaign” about his rheumatoid arthritis, which he said is in remission and has never interfered with his duties as councillor.
Shaw was irritated to learn about the anonymous pokes at her residency. The rookie candidate said she briefly lived outside the ward for family reasons but is back and has had a home in Ward 1 for 32 years. She describing the letter in field hockey terms: “like a crack at your ankles on a breakaway.”
Ward 3 candidate Matthew Green is the latest victim — or, possibly, beneficiary — of a political attack. A YouTube video ostensibly posted by the online collective of hackers Anonymous warns viewers the rookie candidate is a Freemason who moved his business to Ward 3 to “control” the neighbourhood.
Some online comments noted the video does a good job reminding viewers of Green’s activism and media plaudits for being a “young professional to watch.”
Green said he appreciates the shoutout, if not the “poor production values” and “tinfoil hat stuff.” He declined to say who he thinks is behind the video — but added it isn’t him.
“I don’t know, this election seems to have really brought out the kookiness in some people,” said the candidate, who described himself being “two-for-two” in unwanted election news after being accused of defamation following a heated exchange with a school board trustee.
“Maybe you haven’t arrived until someone makes an Anonymous video about you?” (Source: Hamilton Spectator)
By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday September 27, 2014
Stephen Harper more open with Americans, UN than with Parliament
Stephen Harper made an important announcement Wednesday about Canada’s willingness to do more in the battle to stop Islamic State fighters in Iraq.
You might have missed it, though, because the prime minister let it slip during a question and answer session before a business audience in New York City.
“The United States just recently, in the past couple of days, has asked for some additional contribution,” Harper said, before deflecting questions about what kind of support was being sought.
“Since they didn’t release the letter publicly I’m not going to do that,” he went on. “I’ll just say the government of Canada will make a decision on that very shortly.”
Canadian government sources indicated later that the request is “not for combat” troops. So as information goes, it’s a shred.
But it’s more detail than what the Conservatives have shared in the Commons, where opposition parties can barely get the government to divulge anything about the role Canadian Forces personnel already are playing in northern Iraq, or even how long those soldiers might stay.
Harper also didn’t mention the U.S. request at a news conference on Monday, when a reporter asked what concrete action Canada would take in response to new threats from ISIS to target Canadians.
Now, this isn’t the first time Harper chose to announce significant government policy overseas. Canadians first learned of the plans to make them wait longer to collect Old Age Security from a speech the PM gave in Davos, Switzerland in 2012.
When it comes to an audience, Harper obviously prefers barons of business to members of Parliament. (Continued: CBC News)
— mackaycartoons (@mackaycartoons) September 26, 2014
By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday September 24, 2014
Netflix refuses CRTC demand to hand over subscriber data
Netflix says it won’t turn over confidential subscriber information to Canada’s broadcast regulator in order to safeguard private corporate information.
The video streaming company was ordered last week to give the data to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission by Monday, along with information related to the Canadian content it creates or provides to subscribers.
A Netflix official said Tuesday that while the company has responded to a number of CRTC requests, it is not “in a position to produce the confidential and competitively sensitive information.”
But in a statement, the company said it is “always prepared to work constructively with the commission.”
The comments came in the middle of the regulator’s “Let’s Talk TV” hearings on the future of broadcasting rules, including allowing cable customers to be able to create their own personalized cable packages. Since Netflix is not a conventional broadcaster, there’s much doubt that the Broadcasting Act that the CRTC enforces even applies to the company.
What happens now is very much in the air, University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist told the CBC in an interview Tuesday. “Netflix likely felt pushed into the corner on a bigger issue, which is the CRTC’s authority to regulate online new media,” he said.
“The issue has been simmering for about a decade, but everybody took a hands-off approach,” Geist said. “Once there was a threat from the CRTC on Friday, it really did force Netflix’s hand.” (Source: CBC News)