Monday, January 24, 2005

NEVER AGAIN?

Another example of how it is impossible for the U.N to accomplish anything:

For the first time in its history, the United Nations is convening a special session to commemorate the liberation the Nazi's largest concentration camp, Auschwitz.
...
Past attempts for a UN session dedicated to remembering the tragedy of the Holocaust had failed to generate sufficient support among the organization's member nations.
It took U.N members sixty years to to build enough support to hold a special session to REMEMBER the Holocaust. Is it any wonder that this body can't take effective action against serious global crises?

Posted by Matthew @ 12:13 PM :: (0) comments

WAR MENTALITY

During President Bush's visit to Canada last month a discussion over missile defence supposedly became 'tense.' Reports of the discussion are in the National Post, apparently leaked by 'un-named sources' (so take it for what you will). A couple of quotes are interesting. First:

"(Bush) leaned across the table and said: `I'm not taking this position, but some future president is going to say, Why are we paying to defend Canada?"
As if Canadian's have never heard this question numerous times from various Americans. As if when FDR proclaimed, "the people of the United States will not stand idly by if domination of Canadian soil is threatend by any other empire" he was not calling attention to Canada's weak defences as a liability for America.

The notion that America 'pays to defend Canada' always strikes me as a little ridiculous because any military resources America does put into 'defending Canada' are first and foremost done with the intent of defending America. If Canada reeps some benefit it is only incidentally. Missile defence will absolutely fall into this category, except that there will be little or no benefit to Canada.

Secondly, the president, apparently became frustrated with Canadian attempts to explain the difficult domestic politics regarding missle defence and exclaimed,
"I don't understand this. Are you saying that if you got up and said this is necessary for the defence of Canada, it wouldn't be accepted?"
This highlights one of the principal differences that currently exist between Canada and the United States. The United States is at war, and is shaken by it, while Canada is not. The president cannot imagine how 'the national defence argument' does not automatically end debate. One quotation, with an important insight into the president's mentality.

Posted by Matthew @ 2:19 AM :: (0) comments

McBLOG

I find via Mader that another of my friends from McGill has started up a blog. Saurja is writing at Baseball vs. Cricket. He describes his blog thus:

This is a blog devoted to sports, especially the differences between US Sports and Rest-of-the-World Sports. Politics will be the occasional segue, and just to be clear, I bear allegiance to, in order of devotedness: Chelsea FC, Barcelona FC, the Montreal Candiens, the NY Jets, the NY Yankees, and if I must, whatever team Shaq's on. But feel free to post about any team under the sun, regardless of sport.
He's just getting going, but it sounds promising. However, I think the name should have been Football vs. Football. Also, as previously mentioned my friend Nick is blogging about his teaching experience in Korea. He's keeping up with his blogging and there is some interesting stuff there.

With the introductions of these two new blogs, I have created a new category to the right: The McBlog's, being blogs of my friends from McGill. There are other McGill alums on my blog roll, namely Nestruck (who was a year ahead of me) and Ikram Saeed (if I'm not mistaken). For now, they will remain where they are in the blog roll since I know them more through their blogs than anything else.

Posted by Matthew @ 1:04 AM :: (0) comments

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

CABINET RESPONSIBILITY

Yesterday, while reading Mr. Attorney: The Attorney General for Ontario in Court, Cabinet and Legislature, by Paul Romney, I came across this passage outlining the concept of cabinet responsibility :

The modern attorney general, like any other cabinet minister, assumes two kinds of responsibility to the people of Ontario: a collective responsibility for all cabinet decisions, and an individual responsibility for the conscientious and effective performance of his departmental duties. Should he find himself in conscientious disagreement with his cabinet colleagues on a matter of policy, or if he should fail in a serious way to execute the duties especially pertaining to his office, it is constitutionally requisite that he express that responsibility by resigning his office.
With the resignation of MP Sgro we are seeing an example of the individual responsibility of which Romney writes. However, it is the collective responsibility that I wish to emphasize here.

I have made this point before (however I can't find the link) but the members of Cabinet are required, within the customs of responsible government, to vote with the ministry. The cabinet collectively forms the executive. If a cabinet member opposses a policy of the ministry, the time to show that opposition is in the cabinet room. Once the cabinet reaches a policy decision it must be united in that decision. If a particular cabinet member continues to oppose that policy, the proper thing for he or she to do is resign.

I make this point because with issues like gay marriage and marijuana decriminalization on the horizon for a minority parliament we are likely to see some free votes in the future. Of course a 'free vote' cannot apply to the cabinet. As Romney points out, cabinet members by definition cannot simultaneosly oppose the ministry and maintian their position in that ministry under a system of responsible government.

So, all of this is a pre-emptive response to all those members of the punditry or even opposition parties who would rise in righteous indignation claiming that a 'free vote' is not really 'free' if the Cabinet is forced to vote with the government. Such an argument is ridiculous. The cabinet is the government; it can't vote against itself. Not if it wants to stay in power anyway.

Posted by Matthew @ 7:26 PM :: (0) comments

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

NEW LINKS (i.e. MORE SELF-REFERENTIAL BLOGGING)

As part of my re-immersion into the blogosphere I did a quick technorati search to see if I had lost any reciprocal links during my absence. To my surprise several blogs have actually added links to my page since I last checked. Why anyone decided to link to me during a six week period in which I did not post anything is beyond me, but there it is.

The new links are listed below and will be added to the updated blog-roll to the right.

Ian King
Highway 401 Blog
Crawl Across the Ocean
Dean Rushes the Vote

They're at various points on the political spectrum but Canadians all.

Posted by Matthew @ 3:15 PM :: (0) comments

I'M BACK (SORT OF)

It's difficult to get back into blogging after a 6 week absence. Several times after returning to Kingston after Christmas I thought of something that I could post and then thought to myself: do I really want THAT to be the first thing I post in weeks? Also, this whole grad school thing is taking up more time than I thought it would, not that that's a bad thing. But I doubt anyone cares about WHY I haven't been posting, only that I haven't been, if you even care about that.

So, I figure the best way to get back into blogging is to not bother writing my own stuff but to link to other people's. The following is some of what I have been reading in the last couple of days and I suggest that you do so as well, if you haven't already:

Nestruck follows in the dissenting tradition of his defence of cat killing films and his defence of president killing video games with an intelligent defence of Prince Harry's Nazi costume. All three are good reads, and while my initial reaction was to be offended by Harry's little stunt, Nestruck is turning me around. Nevertheless, Harry's actions only matter at all because he's third in line to be the head of state of Britain, Canada and several other countries around the globe. Alan, writing for the majority, is offended by the monarchy in general and the prince's stunt in particular (he extrapolates in the comments to the post).

Meanwhile, Mader picked up one of his common themes yesterday, highlighting what he believes to be 'that ubiquitous Canadian anti-Americanism.' I engaged him in a discussion on the issue in the comments. Hopefully, I'll be able to have a more expanded comment on the theme of 'anti-Americanism' in Canada in this space soon.

Finally, another member of the McGill Arts '04 graduating class has started up a blog. My friend Nick has recently arrived in Korea for one of those English teaching gigs, and is blogging the experience. Nick has actually made several aborted attmepts at blogging, so hopefully he'll be able to keep this one going. Click over to his blog if for no other reason than some added traffic might peer pressure Nick into posting more regularly. I know Nick can't resist peer pressure. In fact he's morally obligated to give in.

Read that stuff, and hopefully I'll have something of my own soon.

Posted by Matthew @ 1:23 AM :: (0) comments