Tuesday, 29 May 2012

When you gotta go...

I had to go.

Sure, I tried to hold it as long as I could, but I had to. 

I'd received the corporate communication not only about the appropriate times to go, but also the appropriate ways to go. At one point, it even specified to keep the two out of the one hole. How crazy is that? Sadly, not all that crazy. I've worked in places like that before, and there's always at least one person who is beyond clueless. The one that makes you ask questions that you never thought you'd ask before. "Is there any education requirement for this job?" or "Can you really expect a person to keep their elementary school graduation documentation" or "IS there elementary school graduation documentation?" ... Regardless of all of this, I had to go. 

I walked through the door and turned to the left.  I was allowed to use these because it was a one and not a two. Thank god for that email refresher. There were only two there. Why on gods green earth would any man build this room and only leave two of these here? There's no way a man built this room. Not one chance. Any man would build one, three, or five. In stadium situations it'd be much larger surely, but in those situations all bets are off. If you put 50,000 people into the Dome for a game, and 30,000 of us are men, and 25,000 of us men are drinking, the rooms are massive and no one cares where anyone else stands. There's no room. There's no time. As we stand in the room there's some act of incredible drama connected to sport and we're in such a rush to get back to it that it's a damn good thing we're all standing in this room. Except for Jim. He's sitting down in that little box with a bad case of the twos. You never get the Nachos at the Dome. But I digress. 

The room I'm in now only has two to choose from, I could go into the box but that'd be strange... right? If someone else was to come in and I'm just standing in the box and there's no one outside of it, then it looks like I'm either rolling a joint or doing coke. Seeing as how I don't do either of those things, I can't have rumours flying around the office saying otherwise. I can't use the box. I have to stand here and pick one of the two then hope and wish that no other man joins me in here. 

Everything is going perfectly. I'm practising my cursive, and then it happens. I hear the door open. This is one of those times where I wish performance anxiety could kick in halfway. If I walked into the room and there were only two and the box was full, I'd be terrified. Who wants to be the second guy? This makes me realize that this probably won't turn out too badly, it's not this guy I need to worry about it's the NEXT guy. That's what I thought at least... 

Nope. It's this guy. See this guy has some kind social defect where he wasn't raised to respect another mans space in this room. We all know the rules. You provide space! If there's only two standing spots and there's two or more available boxes, you go to the box and give the man space! I can't be seen to be freaking out though. It's fine. Everything is going to be fine. Maybe he was just raised differently. This isn't worth panicking about. I'll just finish what I was doing, maybe without the cursive, and get the hell out of here. Eyes forward...

The fact that this dude has now half turned his body in my direction can be taken as nothing other than a complete affront on all things we've agreed upon as a civilized people. Who turns toward the other guy? This is feeling like some kind of dream. If this person is ever in any kind of adoption process, either dog or person, I want some say in the matter. Clearly this man isn't right. I'm going to send a follow up email adding additional rules about the box and the turn. This might be the most uncomfortable moment of my life, but I'll carry on. Eyes forward... 

I'm finished now and having concluded the appropriate amount of shaking it out, I need to wash my hands. I feel dirty. What kind of man turns!? I've finished washing my hands and as I turn the little wheel that's needed when paper towel isn't already hanging out, I think about how many people with fully germed hands have touched this wheel. I feel more dirty. I feel violated. 

I slowly walk back to my desk. Dignity shaken, but I hold my head high. I imagine that once I left the room this man was taking a two in the one hole. Nevertheless, what he's done to me sticks with me. These people carry on with their lives like nothing's happened. They clearly have no idea what horrors await in the bathroom. 

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The G20 Reports and a Quick Note For The Left

Nearly two years ago world leaders met in Toronto for the G20 summit. Anytime that 20 of the most powerful people on earth (and their staff) are all in one place there is a necessity for a large scale security operation. Citizens of Toronto were aware of this before the summit started as entire sections of the city were being fenced in prior to the dignitaries arrival. Joe Blow Toronto couldn't have expected what was to follow. Anyone who pays attention to world events knew exactly what to expect.

In both Pittsburgh and London there were massive protests and massive arrests. In London in particular, one protester died during a confrontation with police.

On queue, massive protests descended on Toronto, including a small portion of the Black Bloc. Police responded by arresting more than 1,100 people. Immediately following the summit there were calls for the resignation of Police Chief Bill Blair, and allegations of assault, wrongful arrest, and various breaches of Charter Rights.

This past week The RCMP Commission for Public Complaints  and The Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) released reports in review of the incidents during G20 week. In addition Byron Sonne was cleared on all charges in his case where he nearly spent a year in prison without bail. In that time he also got the gift of a divorce via letter.

After having read the majority of the two reports, it became clear that there was no shortage of Charter Rights violations two years ago. The command and control structure of our police forces played a large part in this. The officers on the front line knew what they were doing was wrong, and in some cases unlawful. They had objections, but carried their orders.

The RCMP report was released on Tuesday, and the OIRPD report was released on Thursday.

The RCMP Report

The RCMP report revealed that two plain clothed Toronto Police officers were arrested as part of the five total arrests that the RCMP completed. This was not made known to the investigator. From page 38 of the report:

During the interview, as in the arresting officers’ notes, the POU Commander did not indicate that two of those arrested were plain-clothes officers, later stating that he did not believe it to be significant. 
It was only through an inadvertent comment that the Commission was made aware of the incident. 

This wasn't the only occurrence of the investigation being mislead by officers. In reference to the incident at Queen and Spadina the investigation notes. From page 39 of the report: 

A similar response was received from the RCMP Liaison Officer in the MICC who indicated that although he was aware that there was an RCMP tactical troop at Queen Street and Spadina Avenue, he was preoccupied with the movement of resources from Ottawa to Toronto. However, an entry on the sitboard at 6:21 p.m. on June 27, 2010, states: “On June 27, 2010,  at 1818 hrs,  RCMP Supt. . . .  (MICC) updated the crowd is still at Queen and Spadina where POU units, and [Toronto Police Service] Mounted Units are monitoring.” A second entry eleven minutes later goes on to note: “On June 27, 2010, at 1829 hrs, RCMP Supt. . . . advises that the crowd is contained, ongoing extraction and arrests.” This suggests that the senior RCMP officer in the MICC was aware of the situation at the time. (...) There is an apparent disconnect between the RCMP POU Commander on the ground, who had concerns with the ordered tactic, and senior RCMP commanders, including the Liaison Officer in the MICC, who either were not aware of the ongoing situation, or were aware but did not have or did not express concern.

The RCMP investigation was limited in scope. For example, it was not within the scope of the investigation to determine what intelligence gathering methods were legal. However, it appears as though the report hinted that it might look at this anyways since there was a lack of judicial oversight in this regard. From page 30 of the report: 

Given that the resolution did not include any judicial scrutiny of whether the operations were carried out in an appropriate manner, the Commission is considering whether further review of these operations is required. 

The RCMP report revealed that RCMP officers aren't exactly forthright when being investigated.

The OIPRD Report 

If I was to include all of the relevant quotes from this report, I'd break 30,000 words in this blog. Instead, I'll point you to my Reddit post for all the quotes and page numbers to substantiate the following bullet points:

  • 186 People were strip searched with no paperwork to justify it. 
  • Young Offenders were placed in adult cells 
  • The Prisoner Processing Centre (PPC) had obvious flaws brought up previous to the summit, that were ignored/dismissed. 
  • The planing documents for the PPC said it could hold 500+ prisoners, but had no logistical reason for that. The roof partially caved in, and there was a flood of six inches of water. 
  • The mass arrests at UofT were unlawful. 
  • During the unlawful mass arrests at Queen and Spandina (including two Toronto Police Officers) Bill Blair was busy shaking hands with the President of the United States. 
  • The mass arrests at Novotel were unlawful. 
  • Officers either didn't understand, or disregarded the limits of their stop and search authority. 

This was essentially a slightly watered down version of martial law. The right to protest was trampled on, and the abuse of police powers was far reaching.

For trampling on the rights of the citizens, these officers will clearly face severe legal consequences. Actually... that's not the case. In fact, according to CBC News the worst that could happen is they lose their job:

The charges, which are not criminal, would be laid under the Police Services Act. Officers found guilty could face penalties ranging from having their pay docked to losing their jobs.  

I doubt this will satisfy the 180 people who were strip searched without any justification.

A Quick Note For The Left

Can we celebrate for a second? If we're going to get on our high horse and profess the need to have programs in place for the less fortunate/downtrodden, shouldn't we also demand that those who abuse these same systems have some kind of accountability? 

I understand why the NDP and Liberals need to scream "bloody murder" over the changes to EI. Politics was never about truth, rather perception. Mr. Flarhety's comments about needing seniors and aboriginals to work are especially easy fodder for this. Likewise, the left-leaning sheeple (yes they do exist) will follow along this same line of thinking. 

The rest of us need to get on board with the conservative government for taking steps to ensure that serial users of EI are weened off the system. Better yet, have them shocked off they system. EI is an insurance. If I was to crash my car every 8 months, I'd be paying so much in insurance that I couldn't drive, or I wouldn't be able to get insurance anymore. Our safety nets should be used by people who occasionally need them, not by people who consider them a way of life.  

Friday, 18 May 2012

Ten Link Thursdays (5/17/2012)

I was going to merge this with a big post on the G20 (which will still  be written) but there was just too much information released this week for me to finish it all on time. Instead, here's 10 links on a Friday. As always, no particular order of importance.

1. Conservatives funneling money to their buddies? Isn't that what we got rid of the Liberals for? http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/tories-overrule-officials-to-fund-project-of-bairds-dear-friend/article2429391/ 

2. BC Primier rejects Dutch Disease exists - calls NDP leader names since she can't argue the facts http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/05/12/christy-clark-tom-mulcair-the-house.html

3. Undercover Toronto Police Officers were breaking the law arrested. We learned later in the week that being arrested made it oddly unlikely you were breaking the law: 

4. A man who took an Axe to the head in Afghanistan, clearly outlines why our Government is distinctly uncanadian. http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/1177442--trevor-greene-from-one-battlefield-to-another

7. The Conservative Government may have sold out our national security: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/05/15/pol-weston-huawei-china-telecom-security-canada.html?cmp=rss

9. This can't be right, it makes far too much sense to involve the legal system: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2012/05/17/g20-police-charges.html

10. This happens every 10 years or so - and we realize it's stupid every 10 years or so:  http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/05/16/reverse-sexism-at-simon-fraser/

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Ten Link Thursday

Ten Link Thursday, where I share ten links from the last week that I find interesting with a quick comment.

The following is in no particular order

1. It's not that difficult to draw connections between the Bush years and Harper years: 

2. It seems like some people opposing abortion now have working Uteruses:

3. Canadian Science Writers are being given an award for speaking up when they're told to shut up: 

4. 30 dollar rooms for rent: 


6. You're footing the bill for Mr.Harper's mouth, but the bill is yet to be disclosed: 

7. New poll has the NDP gaining Nationally, but sliding in Quebec: 

8. Offbeat: Some people have interesting goals: 

9. Stephen Harper opposes OmniBus bills: 

10. Stephen Harper and his Masters in Economics, doesn't understand economics: 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Then There Was Silence

The Canadian Association of Journalists are starting to make a stir about the level of secrecy being displayed by the Conservative Government*.  To quote The Globe and Mail:

The federal government was named for keeping information out of public hands on files such as the F-35 program, avoiding questions at media events and for restricting both public and media access to contentious information.

The article also notes that the Conservative Government almost exclusively communicates with the media by email. As one of the comments point out, the most amusing part of this story seeing the light of day is The Globe and Mail's endorsement of Mr.Harper. Like many Canadians, The Globe should take these actions as something of a point of introspection. It's not coming out of left field that the Government is withholding information from both the press and therefore public. In fact, it's the reason behind the impending motion of contempt that was only avoided by a vote on the budget. This was the exact reason for Andrew Coyne's endorsement of the Liberal Party in the last election.

Our citizenship has become so disengaged that the relevance of the media outcry is limited at best. The electorate is far more interested in the anniversary of William and Kate's wedding than they are in having information on how their government is behaving.

There are those of us that see the light, that feel like people will at any moment wake up and demand accountability from their government. There's little evidence to support this theory. Sure, polling numbers say that the NDP has drawn even with the Conservatives but years away from an election you can hardly count on that. There's an Omnibus budget bill on the way that will pass without much fuss, because after all it's nearly summer and people have more important things to think about than the future of our nation.

*It's recently occurred to me that anyone discussing or writing about the practices of the current government should withhold from referring to the Harper government. Only recently has this become a thing, but it paves the way to suggest that once Mr.Harper has been removed from power that the new Conservative government would act in a significantly different way. What the Conservative Government has created is a structure of information distribution and governance that citizens should expect to see carried over once a new Conservative leader is installed. The policies of this government are not only Stephen Harper's but also that of the Conservative Party of Canada - a distinction that we should not allow Mr.Harper to have us forget.