Stand on guard, run like hell
See the paid-off local bottom feeders
Passing themselves off as leaders
Kiss the badies shake hands with the fellows
And it's open for business like a cheap bordello
And they call it democracy - Bruce Cockburn
I haven't written much here about Canada (once, I think). There are several good reasons for that, and perhaps some bad ones, too.
Since I write about Canada elsewhere, for a Canadian audience, I suppose I think that's enough. Also, I have that annoying, self-effacing tick: who really wants to hear about us? But maybe the chief cause has been my lingering naivité that Canada is a place where politics still trumps deep politics. It's a presumption that doesn't bear scrutiny. After all, this is the home of Bush family interest Barrick Gold and of the Bronfmans, a family with a pedigree in organized crime that also has links to "the Nine." Montreal figures in the background of both John Kennedy's murder (it was the home of Louis Bloomfield, Chairman of Clay Shaw's Permindex) and Martin Luther King's (James Earl Ray met Raul in the city in 1967). And there's always more, when you look for it.
Prime Minister Paul Martin, a former protege of Maurice Strong, has a family concern called Canada Steamship Lines, "the world's largest fleet of self-unloading bulkers," that controls assets worth $700 million. He transferred control to his sons in 2003 when running for the Liberal leadership. Until then, the company had been in a blind trust during his years in government. Martin acknowledged when seeking the top job that $137,000 in federal funds had been received by his company while he served as Finance Minister. That was a slight miscalculation. The actual amount of grants and loans CSL received was $161 million.
And then there was the story that broke July 1, 2004: "Nova Scotia Police Seize Cocaine on CSL Ship." And again, it wasn't a piddling amount. Two duffel bags found behind a ballast grate on the bottom of the hull were found to contain 83 kilograms, worth $12 to $14 million. The ship was named the Sheila Ann, after the Prime Minister's wife.
CSL spokeswoman Martine Malka pulled the family’s nuts out of the bilge water. "This cannot be done through the ship," she said. "The only way this could have been done is by divers underwater." In other words, Gosh, officer, how'd that get there?
Susan Horne, president of the Customs Excise Union in Nova Scotia, agreed, and explained with some fuzziness that the drugs were almost certainly destined for Canada, as their placement would have interfered with the crew unloading coal in Sydney, and would surely have been noticed.
There are a few things that just don’t sit right about that.
For instance, what kind of argument contends that the hypothetical placement of the drugs in Sydney would have interfered with the crew, and yet the placement of the drugs in Venezuela supposedly proceeded without notice? A pretty damn circular one, I’d say. Also, how could the duffel bags have been retrieved without drawing attention of the crew, if their placement "would surely have been noticed"?
The quick presumption of innocence for the crew is bizarre, since it was only the earlier summer that RCMP canine units sniffed out sailors’ "personal use" narcotics on five CSL ships. A single crew member was found in possession of drugs valued at $250,000.
The Sheila Ann had arrived loaded from Venezuela. Leaving Sydney Nova Scotia, its next port of call was destined to be Miami. Empty. And after the fluke seizure, especially empty.
Perhaps most suspicious is the amount involved. Eighty-three kilograms is an exceptionally large amount to risk on an unwitting mule. For instance, the same week as the Sheila Ann seizure, no more than 369 grams of hashish and 706 grams of cocaine were discovered hidden in the wing of a Boeing 767 that had arrived at the Vancouver International Airport from Australia.
This suggests a couple of things: either this method had been tried and trusted over a long period of time, or the mule was not so unwitting. Either way, it certainly wasn’t the one-off authorities pretended it to be. And that the story broke not long after the Vancouver headlines of RCMP drug raids on provincial Liberals with strong Martin ties – well, this is Canada we're talking about, so let's not get carried away. Like last November's story, that a drug-related contract to hit Martin for $300,000 was shopped around the Toronto underworld - that just can't be right.
But that was then, and this is mid-January, and in two weeks Canadians will be electing a new government. And chances are high it will be led by Stephen Harper of the Conservative Party, whose braintrust brims with Straussians and Bohemian Grovers.
To get an idea what that would mean, last month The Washington Times ran a piece entitled "Gift from Canada?" It begins:
Why does President Bush hope Christmas comes a little late this year? Because on Jan. 23, Canada may elect the most pro-American leader in the Western world. Free-market economist Stephen Harper, leader of the opposition Conservative Party, is pro-free trade, pro-Iraq war, anti-Kyoto, and socially conservative. Move over Tony Blair: If elected, Mr. Harper will quickly become Mr. Bush's new best friend internationally and the poster boy for his ideal foreign leader.
Harper and his crowd are not the brand of conservatives Canadians have seen in office before. That party, the stubbornly oxymoronic Progressive Conservatives, was destroyed by the Bush family lapdog misrule of Brian Mulroney, and eventually absorbed by the far-right fringe of social- and neo-cons who needed a presentable vehicle to carry them to power. Now, to the casual voter, they're just "Tories," like those before whom they remember as governing not so differently than the Liberals. I think, even if they don't pay particular attention, they'll be surprised by what they get.
We're living at a time when all the pieces are coming into play, and that includes the other North America. If the next move is a Harper victory, I think we can expect a certain destabilization that will be welcomed by some in Washington who will be ready to exploit it. Because there will likely be an election in Quebec next year that will almost certainly elect a separtist government bent upon holding a new referendum on sovereignty. These Conservatives, led by alienated Westerners, have no love or understanding of Quebec, and many of them hope for its departure from Canada as it's predominently left values are regarded as impediments to untrammelled rule by the far right. Harper is already cutting deals with the sovereigntist Bloc Quebecois, whose leader has pledged not to bring down a minority government for three years.
That could be enough time to see the end of Canada, both conceptually and factually. There would then be nothing for us but Fortress North America. So US residents seeking shelter from the storm will need to look further. And may have some company.
The future, she doesn't look so good.
By the way, here is a provocative story for those who suspect weather manipulation during last year's hurricane season in the Gulf: "Hurricanes of 2005 were filled with mysterious lightning":
The boom of thunder and crackle of lightning generally mean one thing: a storm is coming. Curiously, though, the biggest storms of all, hurricanes, are notoriously lacking in lightning. Hurricanes blow, they rain, they flood, but seldom do they crackle.
Surprise: During the record-setting hurricane season of 2005 three of the most powerful storms - Rita, Katrina, and Emily - did have lightning, lots of it. And researchers would like to know why.
Indeed, the electric fields above Emily were among the strongest ever measured by the aircraft’s sensors over any storm. "We observed steady fields in excess of 8 kilovolts per meter," says Blakeslee. "That is huge - comparable to the strongest fields we would expect to find over a large land-based 'mesoscale' thunderstorm."
Gee. Fancy that.