Saturday, August 28, 2010

Toronto residents turning to Rob Ford in desperation

Sad to see the once proud City of Toronto in a downward spiral with little prospect of a turnaround in the near future. Toronto has had only one—maybe two—effective leaders since David Crombie resigned as mayor in 1978. And the chance of this record of failure ending any time soon seems remote.

Leaderless and rudderless, the wannabe world-class city meanders along on the edge of financial ruin, while its city council of fat-cat career politicians sit impotently by and watches—when they are not snarling and scratching at each other’s eyes.

With 44 city councillors and a mayor supported by an operating budget of $9.2-billion, Toronto could be world-class, but chooses instead to be progressive, overgrown with weeds and littered with trash.

In contrast, consider a real world-class city. Consider New York City, which has a population of about 8.4-million to Toronto’s population of about 2.5-million, making New York 3.3 times larger in population. In land area, New York is almost double the size of Toronto, making New York considerably larger to manage and finance.

And yet the world-class New York is managed by a city council of 51 members, while Toronto—half the size in area and 30 per cent of New York’s population—has 44 councillors. Toronto boasts about being world-class, New York merely lives it.

Toronto’s 2006 operating budget was $7.6-billion; for 2010 it is $9.2-billion, an increase of over 21 per cent in five years. The average annual inflation rate in that period was 1.75 per cent, the percentage change in the inflation rate was 9.06 per cent and the rise in the CPI was 9.7 per cent.

Toronto is in a financial death spiral.

So desperate have the residents of Toronto become, polls show they are prepared to elect as mayor in November a blowhard, gaffe-prone, anti-intellectual, anti-immigration candidate with an astonishing lack of savoir-faire, creativity and vision, and a rather tacky background that includes brushes with the law.

The dilemma faced by Toronto’s residents is that, although Rob Ford is totally unsuitable as a future mayor, he is undoubtedly the least obnoxious of the choices they face in the fall election.

It’s Rob Ford against a hostile and uncooperative city council or one more in a line left-wing mayors in cahoots with a free-spending, out of control bloated city council. What a choice.


© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Terror suspects with potential al-Qaeda links arrested

Last night when I heard that terror suspects had been arrested, I wondered whatever could those Christian extremists be up to? Imagine my surprise when I learned that the suspects are more likely Muslims. Go figure.

Three terror suspects have now been arrested. They were, apparently, in possession of schematics and bomb parts, including more than 50 circuit boards that could have been used to detonate electronic devices remotely.

Havi Mohammad Alizadeh, Misbahuddin Ahmed and Khurram Syed Sher are alleged by authorities to have conspired with James Lara, Rizgar Alizadeh, Zakaria Mamosta and other “persons unknown” to faciliate a “terrorist activity.”

The three men arrested are alleged to be part of a terrorist group as defined by the Criminal Code of Canada. It is believed they conspired with people located in Iran, Afghanistan, Dubai and Pakistan to facilitate a terrorist offense—this according to court documents. Apparently, the men intended to commit a violent terrorist act and had amassed extensive terrorist literature.

Moreover, the suspected ringleader of the conspiracy allegedly attended terrorist training camps in the Pakistan and Afghanistan region and may have links to al-Qaeda.

Considering recent events—the bombing attempt in New York City’s Times Square and the shooting at the military base at Fort Hood, Texas—its not a stretch to assume this latest plot indicates those with a certain Islamic extremist ideology have targets in North America lined up in their jihadist sights.

I keep hearing from progressives on television talk shows like the Michael Coren Show how all religions have dangerous extremists. Funny, though, that whenever there is an arrest on terrorism charges the suspects almost always are Muslims. Coincidence? I think not.


© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Time’s running out for Afghanistan

The war in Afghanistan has been waged since October 7, 2001, with the first contingents of regular Canadian soldiers arriving in January and February of the following year. Earlier, forty operators from Canada’s Joint Task Force Two had been sent to Afghanistan in December 2001 to work with the Americans in their effort to remove the Taliban.

The strategically important centres of Mazar-i-Sharif and Kabul fell in November 2001 and the Taliban retreated from the north of the country, paving the way for the installation of the newly formed Karzai administration. Hamid Karzai has been the President and leader since December 20, 2001, and the current parliament was elected in 2005.

In other words, the current state of Afghanistan is not a new one, but rather it is, at least, five years old and by some measurements closer to nine years old.

My point here is that at some point that country—including its leaders and its government—will have to be left to stand on its own two feet. There has been plenty of time and billions of dollars available for Afghanistan to recruit and train a national force sufficient to take on the Taliban without outsiders having to do their fighting for them.

At the start of the Second World War in September 1939, Canada, Great Britain and the United States had very little in the way of standing armies, navies or air forces. Nor did they really have the industrial infrastructure to equip them. Despite this, those countries were able to lead, and provide most of the forces for, the invasion of Europe at Normandy on June 6, 1944, a scant three and a half years later.

Canada, Great Britain and the United States went from a near-zero base to combined armies, navies and air forces capably of taking on and defeating what was—until that time—the most powerful war machine ever in less than four years, while holding off the powerful Japanese at the same time.

Surely then Afghanistan could have built and trained its forces in five to nine years. After all, it doesn’t have to build a war industry to manufacture anything. All their equipment needs can be purchased.

Billions of dollars have been poured into Afghanistan, thousands of lives have been lost. Any obligation we felt we had to that country has been more than paid off. It’s now time to go, and we needn’t cast a glance over our shoulders as we leave that misbegotten place. No more Canadian treasure or lives need be wasted there.

We are committed to remain for under a year more, but not a day longer should we stay; not a cent more of treasure should we contribute. Enough is enough.

It’s time to leave.


© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Are Tamils refugee claimants playing Canadians for fools?

Today’s Toronto Sun newspaper breaks a story about a secret government survey that reveals that the majority—71 per cent of those surveyed—of successful Tamil refugees travel back to Sri Lanka. This, of course, raises questions about the legitimacy of refugee claims made by Tamils entering Canada.

It’s a small survey to be sure, but the results are disturbing. To think that a significant proportion of a single community may have obtained residency in Canada by fraudulent means should be disturbing to other Canadians who value their residency/citizenship rights and privileges.

Nothing is ever self-evident when only one side of an argument is heard, however, one can deduce from the fact that, when a refugee can return freely to a homeland for vacations, visiting relatives and the like, it is unlikely that person’s refugee claim was legitimate. After all, successful refugee claimants must prove they are in danger of torture or risk to their life or some other such criteria that shows they will face persecution or worse in their home country if forced to return there.

This does not seem to be a situation in which former refugee claimants go back to their homelands many years after their successful claims—such as after a change in government as occurred in many East European nations after the fall of communism. This is a much more recent occurrence.

Armed with this knowledge, will our Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) take a tougher stand on current and future Tamil refugee claimants than last year when the IRB accepted 85 per cent of their claims? I doubt it.

I seems that everyone in the world is born with a right to come and live in Canada. To exercise that right, all that is necessary is for one to show up at our border with a plausible reason why one cannot return to one’s homeland—and the reason doesn’t have to be true…it just has to sound true enough.



© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Keith Olbermann responds to criticism of “Ground Zero Mosque”

Although I see the so-called Ground Zero Mosque as triumphalism and inappropriate and said so earlier this year, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann does an excellent job of defending the other side, the one in favour of the proposal to build a large Islamic centre and mosque a few blocks from Ground Zero in New York’s lower Manhattan.



© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tory support edging back up

The Tories have managed to widen the gap from one point two weeks ago to five points in the latest EKOS poll. According to the opinion survey, Conservative support is at 32.5 per cent nationally compared to 27.9 per cent for the Liberals—well off the 11-point lead Tories enjoyed over the Grits in early June. The NDP has 17.4 per cent support.

According EKOS pollster Frank Graves, the narrowing of the gap between Tories and Grits in recent weeks,  is “almost certainly exclusively a product of the census decision.”

Mr. Graves’s survey shows Liberal support among university-educated Canadians climbing to 34.4 per cent from 26.3 per cent over the past several weeks—almost entirely at the expense of the Conservatives whose support among the group declined to 29.2 per cent from 32.7 per cent. Interestingly, though, Tory support among College-educated Canadians seems to be holding.

Full story below.


© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Haven’t we learned anything since the bombing of Air India Flight 182 some 25 years ago?

It really doesn’t seem as though we’ve learned that when immigrants bring their national feuds to our shores, Canadians can get hurt and even killed. The bombing of Air India Flight 182 some 25 years ago should have taught us that, but apparently it has not.

Events in the form of what Toronto’s Police Chief Bill Blair described as “unlawful and unsafe” protests should have been warning enough, yet many among us still want our refugee laws loosely applied to those who enter Canada without following generous, well-know procedures.

Almost 500 people arrive by boat in Vancouver and our authorities are expected to give them every benefit of the doubt that they are bona fide refugees who would risk their lives if they are returned to their homeland, Sri Lanka.

Many would have us believe Tamil Tigers are not among these “boat people” aboard the ship now docked in CFB Esquimalt. None, we are assured, are here as part of a carefully devised and well financed strategy of forming a government-in-exile in our country.

About a year ago, the National Post reported that, according to a secret intelligence report obtained by that newspaper, Canada was one of the top sources of funding for Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers, providing up to $12-million a year for several years.

Readers may remember also that back in May of that year, demonstrators waving flags bearing the Tamil Tigers’ emblem blocked city streets and part of a major highway in downtown Toronto. And, of course, a Buddhist temple and Sri Lankan restaurant were set on fire in the Greater Toronto Area. These places were known to be frequented by members of the Sinhalese community, former members of Sri Lanka’s ruling majority and the enemy of the Tamil Tigers.

The World Tamil Movement is reported to be one of the main fronts for the Tamil Tigers, also known as LTTE, and is said to have often used “coercive” tactics to collect money from Toronto’s large Canadian Tamil diaspora. Funds collected were apparently used to bankroll the rebels who recently lost the Sri Lanka civil war.

With their increasingly sound foothold in Canada, one can only hope our government is careful of crossing this violent organization, for it is the same Tamil Tiger organization that “invented” the phenomenon of the suicide bomber.

Such tactics seem anathema to our society, but so too, we thought 25 years ago, was the bombing of an airplane filled with Canadians.


© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Omar Khadr committed crimes against Americans so he should do the time there

I have been following the plight of Omar Khadr the 23-year-old Canadian who is alleged to have thrown a grenade during a July 27, 2002 firefight in Afghanistan that fatally wounded U.S. Sgt. First Class Christopher Speer. It’s been eight years or so since he was captured by American forces in Afghanistan, and he’s spent seven years in the U.S. Guantanamo Bay detention camps accused of war crimes and providing support to terrorism.

Khadr is finally receiving a jury trial in the United States, arguably the fairest most democratic country in the world. His trial is open and is being followed by the press and other media, which is free to report on its proceedings—and, indeed, have been doing so.

All very straight forward I would have thought, but it never is here in Canada. In a country that seems very much at ease with abortion on demand, which leads to the deaths of over 90,000 premature babies and fetuses annually, we have wide-spread angst over this one man and demands for him to be brought to trial in Canada rather than in the United States because, apparently, he’ll receive a fairer trial.

We provide not a single law to protect our unborn babies, but worry incessantly about an accused killer. Go figure.

Much of the public furor is emanating from the progressive media and politicians, but many on the right like broadcaster Michael Coren have joined in. And much is made of Khadr’s age at the time he allegedly killed the American soldier. MP Joe Comartin (NDP, Windsor-Tecumseh) told the audience of the Michael Coren Show that Khadr was a child soldier, and that seemed all one needed to know to have the young man released from American custody and returned to safety in Canada, where, I assume, he’d be tried as a young offender—wrist slapping and all.

Of course Omar Khadr was not a child soldier. He did not meet the international definition because he was already 15 years old at the time. And why should we try him when the United States is the injured party and are every bit as capable as we are of ensuring he gets a fair trial. In past wars, it was common practice for prisoners of war captured by Canadians to be detained for the duration of the conflict. Seldom, if ever, did these combatants receive a trial of any kind. Afghan prisoners captured by Canadians are routinely turned over to Afghan authorities. If Omar Khadr is ever tried in Canada, it should be for something like treason for he willing participated in a war against military forces of which Canadians were a part.

So why special treatment for Khadr? Because of his age I suppose and the fact he’s Canadian. Yet many youthful Canadians commit crimes in foreign lands and must face justice there. Michael Coren claims Khadr’s trial has taken too long to begin and that’s the justification for his return to Canada. Yet war prisoners held by Canada have traditionally had to wait until the end of the conflict, and the last time I checked the war in Afghanistan was still being waged.

Omar Khadr is just another unfortunate who is caught up in the consequences of actions in which he freely participated. At 15 years of age, he was fully capable of knowing right from wrong. His participation was willing. In a 40-minute video shown at his trial, a 15-year-old Khadr can be seen smiling while sitting cross-legged on the floor rigging explosives.

Can every 15-year-old Canadian expect to get a free pass when charged with murder? I don’t believe they should and nor should Khadr receive special treatment.