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This is a daily missive that is written for an American audience by a Canadian who cares about what is going on in the United States.
Downing Street Minutes 3rd Anniversary Events: The Smoking Gun that Proves Bush Lied About Iraq
Mourn the Losses, Learn the Truth, and Investigate the Lies
SIGN UP TO ATTEND. Check for an event near you.
SIGN UP TO HOST. Announce an event that you will host, so that people can sign up for it.
Celebrate the 3-Year Anniversary of the Downing Street Meeting with Your Own Town Hall Meeting or House Party
Be part of a national day of action on Saturday, July 23, 2005.
You and your organization should work with other organizations to form a coalition and hold one large event in your area.
Resources and tips for holding an effective town hall meeting are below. Be sure to invite your Congress Member and Senators, but there's no reason to make the event dependent on their coming. You should certainly hold it, even without them. (But if they didn't have a good reason not to come, make sure there's an empty seat on stage with their name on it where cameras can see it well.)
Where you cannot organize a large event, organize some friends and hold a house party. In either case, post the event on this site so that people can sign up to come. Many of the resources below will come in handy.
(06-29) 05:13 PDT WASHINGTON, (AP) -- Congressional critics of President Bush's stay-the-course commitment to the war in Iraq argued Wednesday that the administration lacks sufficient troops on the ground to mount a successful counterinsurgency.
Democrats in particular criticized Bush for again raising the Sept. 11 attacks as a justification for the protracted fight in Iraq after the president proclaimed anew that he plans to keep U.S. forces there as long as necessary to ensure peace.
Urging patience on an American public showing doubts about his Iraq policy, Bush mentioned the deadly 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington five times during a 28-minute address Tuesday night at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Some Democrats quickly accused him of reviving a questionable link to the war in Iraq — a rationale that Bush originally used to help justify launching strikes against Baghdad in the spring of 2003.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi accused Bush of demonstrating a willingness "exploit the sacred ground of 9/11, knowing that there is no connection between 9/11 and the war in Iraq."
Bush first mentioned the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center at the beginning of his speech, delivered at an Army base that has 9,300 troops in Iraq. He acknowledged that Americans are disturbed by frequent deaths of U.S. troops, but tried to persuade an increasingly skeptical public to stick with the mission.
"The war reached our shores on September the 11th, 2001," Bush told a national television audience and 750 soldiers and airmen in dress uniform who mostly listened quietly as they had been asked to do.
"Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war," he continued.
Bush said he understands the public concerns about a 27-month-old war that has killed more than 1,700 Americans and 12,000 Iraqi civilians and cost $200 billion. But he argued that the sacrifice "is worth it."
"We fight today because terrorists want to attack our country and kill our citizens, and Iraq is where they are making their stand. So we will fight them there, we will
fight them across the world and we will stay in the fight until the fight is won."
He offered no shift in course in Iraq and said he did not believe it necessary to send more troops. U.S. forces in Iraq total just under about 140,000 and they constitute the bulk of the coalition fighting force.
Appearing on television news shows Wednesday, some key lawmakers took issue with that position.
Sen. John McCain, interviewed on CBS's "The Early Show," maintained that "one of the very big mistakes early on was that he didn't have enough troops on the ground, particularly after the initial victory, and that's still the case."
Sen. John Kerry, Bush's Democratic opponent in last year's presidential election, told NBC's "Today" show that the borders of Iraq "are porous" and said "we don't have enough troops" there.
Sen. Joseph Biden Jr., appearing on ABC's "Good Morning America," disputed Bush's notion that sufficient troops are in place.
"I'm going to send him the phone numbers of the very generals and flag officers that I met on Memorial Day when I was in Iraq," the Delaware Democrat said. "There's not enough force on the ground now to mount a real counterinsurgency."
Biden argued, "The course that we are on now is not a course of success. He (Bush) has to get more folks involved. He has to stand up that army more quickly."
McCain, R-Ariz., did defend Bush's call to stop terrorism abroad before it reaches the U.S. shore. Appearing on CNN's "Larry King Live" program, McCain said that those spreading violence in Iraq "are the same guys who would be in New York if we don't win in Iraq."
Bush's speech marked the first anniversary of the transfer of power from the U.S.-led coalition to Iraq's interim government. The president cited advances in the past
year, including the January elections, infrastructure improvements and training of Iraqi security forces.
Democrats also criticized Bush for not offering more specifics about how to achieve success in Iraq along with his frequent mention of the Sept. 11 attacks.
"The president's numerous references to September 11 did not provide a way forward in Iraq," Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said. "They only served to remind the American people that our most dangerous enemy, namely Osama bin Laden, is still on the loose and al-Qaida remains capable of doing this nation great harm nearly four years after it attacked America."
Bush urged Americans to remember the lessons of Sept. 11 and protect "the future of the Middle East" from men like bin Laden. He repeatedly referred to the insurgents in Iraq as terrorists and said they were killing innocent people to try to "shake our will in Iraq, just as they tried to shake our will on September the 11th, 2001."
Bush again rejected suggestions that he set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq or send in more troops. Setting a timetable would be "a serious mistake" that could demoralize Iraqis and American troops and embolden the enemy, he said.
The president also said that sending more troops would undermine the U.S. strategy of training Iraqis to be able to as quickly as possible take over the security of their
"Sending more Americans would suggest that we intend to stay forever," he said.
Beyond their criticism, Some Democrats said they thought Bush strengthened his credibility. "I think he told the American people why it's important," said Biden.
Said Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.: "The president needs to do more of what he did last evening. This is a beginning."
The Liberals' controversial same-sex marriage legislation has passed final reading the House of Commons, sailing through with a vote of 158 for and 133 against.
Supported by most members of the Liberals, the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP, the legislation passed easily, making Canada only the third country in the world, after the Netherlands and Belgium, to officially recognize same-sex unions. (More at Link)
Leon Mugesera in 2000. (CP photo) -->
Government lawyers have been fighting for 10 years to have Leon Mugesera kicked out of Canada, arguing that in a November 1992 speech, he incited fellow Hutus to kill Tutsis and set the scene for the 1994 slaughter in the African country.
In an 8-0 decision Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled that Mugesera did incite murder, genocide and hatred. The justices also ruled there were
reasonable grounds to conclude that the speech amounted to crimes against humanity.
The court said Mugesera, aware of the country's history, ethnic tensions and past massacres of Tutsis, would have known the consequences of his speech.
"A man of his education, status and prominence on the local political scene would necessarily have known that a speech vilifying and encouraging acts of violence against the target group would have the effect of furthering the attack," the court wrote.
Mugesera had been a member of the ruling Hutu party with close ties to the military. During the 1992 speech, he told 1,000 party members that they should
kill Tutsis and "dump their bodies into the rivers of Rwanda."
He also allegedly spoke of "exterminating these bastards" and warned that "the person whose neck you do not cut is the one who will cut yours."
It is unclear how soon the deportation order involving Mugesera might take effect, or whether he has any options in his struggle to remain in Canada.
The Rwandan government of the day issued an arrest warrant against Mugesera following the 1992 speech. He and his family fled to Quebec City and were initially granted permanent resident status in Canada.
He had been teaching at Quebec's Laval University, but lost his job when the accusations were levelled against him.
Philip Gourevitch, a journalist who wrote a book about the Rwandan genocide, said Mugesera's speech laid the groundwork for the carnage that was to follow two years later.
"He was one of the first to go in a major public speech and say, 'Look, our mistake in the past with the Tutsi minority has been allowing them to survive, has been allowing them to live. We must get rid of them,'" said Gourevitch.
Guy Bertrand, Mugesera's lawyer. ---->
Guy Bertrand, Mugesera's lawyer, had argued that his client never incited people to kill Tutsis or political opponents.
"His speech should be read in the context of legitimate defence," Bertrand argued in written submissions to the Supreme Court.
The speech was the focus of several immigration hearings and appeals since Mugesera arrived in Canada. Two immigration tribunals ordered his removal from Canada.
But the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the verdicts, concluding that Mugesera's remarks had been taken out of context and that he should be allowed to stay in Canada. It ruled that some of the comments had been badly translated and may have been altered to make Mugesera look guilty.
Mugesera had a reputation as a "fervent supporter of democracy, patriotic pride and resistance to invading forces," said the three-judge Federal Court appeal panel. They described the overall themes of his speech as "elections, courage and love."
Failing to pass bill would be cowardly attempt to transfer issue to the
courts (Ottawa, ON)
Today the Court of Queen’s Bench of New Brunswick ruled that the Charter requires that same-sex couples be given access to civil marriage and ordered the inclusion of same-sex couples in civil marriage in the province.
While Canadians for Equal Marriage (CEM) is pleased with the decision, it laments the fact that the conservative Party insists on stubbornly opposing passage of Bill C-38. Despite the fact that all MPs have made up their minds on equal marriage, the Conservative Party persists in trying to prevent Parliament from voting. With this decision, there remain only two provinces (PEI and Alberta) and two territories Nunavut and Northwest Territories) in the country that exclude same-sex couples from marrying. This decision follows similar decisions in the other seven provinces and the Yukon, which also said that excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage violates the equality provision (s.15) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Supreme Court of Canada re-affirmed these decisions in its December 9, 2004 reference decision.(More at Link)
As an actor he had a sidekick called Bonzo. And as politician, he never quite lived down his quip to start bombing Russia in five minutes. But in life Ronald Reagan was forgiven most of his faults, and in death America now regards him as the greatest of them all.
Edging out Abraham Lincoln, the man who abolished slavery and guided the country through civil war, Reagan, the B-movie star whose presidency is commonly regarded as having brought down the Soviet bloc, won the popular vote to be crowned the greatest American ever. (More at Link)
Members of Parliament have set the table for a final vote on Bill C-38, the same-sex marriage bill, to happen as early as Tuesday evening.
Late Monday, MPs passed a motion 163 to 106 limiting further debate on the legislation to about eight hours.
The bill is currently at what's called report stage, and must proceed to a third reading and be passed in a vote in the House of Commons before it can receive royal assent and become law of the land.
Earlier Monday, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said that although the bill will likely pass, it lacks legitimacy because it will do so with help from the Bloc Quebecois.
"Because it's being passed with the support of the Bloc, I think it will lack legitimacy for a lot of Canadians. The truth is, most federalist MPs will oppose this legislation," Harper said.
The comments raised the ire of members of all political stripes.
Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe countered that the Bloc's mandate "is every bit as legitimate as any member who sits in this chamber.
"That's what they call democracy.'' He added that Harper could help end the Bloc's influence by backing Quebec independence.
The Liberals, who need the Bloc's support to get the legislation passed, defended the separatist party. Justice Minister Irwin Cotler called Harper's comments hypocritical.
"It hasn't seemed to have troubled Mr. Harper about any other votes in the past, in which he's asked for and voted together with the Bloc, so why should this now suddenly be an issue of legitimacy?" he told reporters.
"If that's the case then all his votes in concert with the Bloc would lack legitimacy themselves," he added, pointing to recent budget bills which the Tories and the Bloc both voted against in the House of Commons.
NDP Leader Jack Layton said Harper's remarks are further proof of why many Canadians aren't embracing the Conservatives.
"Mr. Harper is essentially saying that Quebecers' votes don't matter .... So he wants to deny equality to same-sex partners, and he wants to deny equality to Quebec voters.
"Maybe Mr. Harper should think about why people aren't listening to him by just simply looking at what he says."
Conservative justice critic Vic Toews, meanwhile, backs his leader's remarks.
"The federalist MPs in Canada, the majority of them, would oppose (gay marriage) on a free vote. So what we are seeing now is simply an agreement by this government with the separatist Bloc -- who have no long-term interest in staying in Canada.''
Last week, the Liberals made a deal with the Bloc and the NDP to push the Liberal-NDP budget bill through in a surprise midnight vote. The vote passed because the Conservatives had seven caucus members missing. If the Tories won, it would have toppled the government and triggered an election call.
A vote on same-sex legislation is not considered a confidence motion so there's no danger of the government falling should they lose. But the bill is expected to pass easily because of support from the Bloc and the NDP -- although some Liberal backbench MPs may vote against it.
Thompson reported Monday night that 11 Liberal MPs, in fact, wanted to keep debate on Bill C-38 going and voted against closure.
There are about 30 Liberals who are expected to vote against the bill -- among them is Dan McTeague.
"Frankly, I think this legislation will not provide the kind of guarantees let alone the respect of Canadians' views," he told Canada AM on Monday.
"If there is indeed a diversity, what has happened now is completely and utterly one-sided and I have a responsibility to protect that."
...I found Muench in the Patrick Henry cafeteria at lunchtime one day a few months later. She is twenty-one years old and has clear, bright hazel eyes and sandy-brown hair that she straightens and then curls with an iron. Patrick Henry is a Christian college, though it is not affiliated with any denomination, and it gives students guidelines on “glorifying God with their appearance.” During class hours, the college enforces a “business casual” dress code designed to prepare the students for office life—especially for offices in Washington, D.C., fifty miles to the east, where almost all the students have internships, with Republican politicians or in conservative think tanks. When I met Muench, she was wearing a cardigan and a navy skirt. The boys in the cafeteria all had neatly trimmed hair, and wore suits or khakis and button-down shirts; girls wore slacks or skirts just below the knee, and sweaters or blouses. Most said grace before eating, though they did it silently and discreetly, with a quick bow of the head.... (More at Link).
OTTAWA -- The Paul Martin government succeeded yesterday in prolonging the spring sitting of the House of Commons even as MPs worked late last night to end the budget standoff that, in part, forced the extension.
The move essentially means that the Commons will sit into next week. MPs also decided to end a week-long game of political chicken by voting on a $4.6-billion amendment to the budget bill.
Liberal officials said they had their full complement of MPs in the House, as did the New Democrats, to vote fore the measure. The Conservatives were short at least three members before the vote took place. If the numbers held, the Liberals were expected to survive what is likely the final confidence motion of the spring sitting.
One distant fear for the government last night was that Liberal backbenchers opposed to same-sex marriage would vote to topple the government to prevent the legislation from being passed.The agreement to go ahead with the vote at about midnight was a shock to most MPs, who were expecting it next week.
The bill was the subject of controversy earlier in the day as Tory MPs continued to threaten to defeat the legislation and the government. However, some Tories said they would probably stop short of precipitating the minority government's demise.
Loyola Hearn, a Conservative from Newfoundland, said he is unlikely to vote against Bill C-48 because that would mean that the Atlantic accord, which would provide more than $2-billion in equalization payments to his province and is before the Senate, would die along with the Liberal government.
"We could easily look at the Liberals and say, 'You guys have fooled around with the Atlantic accord from Day 1 and you are now holding it up in the Senate simply as a blackmail attempt to assure passage of other bills,' " Mr. Hearn said.
But "what it means if the government is defeated is [when it is] within two days of getting $2-billion, your province has absolutely nothing."
If the Liberals were returned to office in a summer election, it is possible the accord could never be resurrected, he said.
"That's not just another item in that budget," Mr. Hearn said. "It's our future. And so, if it comes to that, you make the choice you have to make."
Because the federal Parliament is so evenly divided, Mr. Hearn's vote took on added importance.
But the Newfoundland Tory didn't think he would have to vote against his party to keep the government from falling.
With the support of the Bloc Québécois and the NDP, the Liberals had little problem winning a vote late yesterday to approve a motion to extend the sitting indefinitely and an earlier motion to shut down debate over the extension. Still, 14 Liberal backbenchers voted against the motion. Many are known to oppose the same-sex marriage bill.
The Tories warned yesterday that they will bring as many MPs as possible to the House during the extended sitting, which could cause the Liberals some trouble.
The Tory muscle-flexing appeared to cover over backbench skittishness among some MPs, who said yesterday that they have no idea what the party's strategy is. Party Leader Stephen Harper shared little with MPs at their caucus meeting this week, said one MP, and no one has been told yet to put their riding workers on election footing.
Another MP said the Tories would need the support of one or two Liberals on the confidence motion, lest they be accused of sparking an election Canadians don't want.
Veteran Conservative MP John Reynolds told reporters he would "love" to have an election that would focus on two recent allegations of government corruption involving immigration permits and Industry Canada grants, as well as the Gomery inquiry into the sponsorship scandal.
MPs will hold a vote Wednesday afternoon to decide whether to extend this session of Parliament.
It is expected to pass, because it has the support of most Liberals and NDP and likely the Bloc Québécois.
The Bloc has said they will only support the motion to extend the sitting if it states specifically that MPs will sit until the same-sex bill is passed.
The Liberals want to introduce a motion to prolong the sitting of the House of Commons because they want to push the same-sex marriage bill, C-38, and the budget bill, C-48, through the Commons. Only one final vote remains on C-48.
The Liberals say they are committed to sitting until the legislation goes through.
Liberal House Leader Tony Valeri met privately with his counterparts in the other parties earlier this week and provided them with a draft agenda that would have MPs sit for an extra three weeks to ensure passage of the bills.
The last day of this session of Parliament was supposed to be Thursday.
Although Wednesday afternoon's vote to extend the session is likely to pass, several Liberal MPs who are opposed to same-sex marriage may vote against it in protest against bill C-38.
At least one, Roger Galloway, a back-bench member of the government, has said outright that he would not vote for the extension. Others with similar views on C-38 will be absent from the House.But other MPs say it's time to pass the legislation.
"I think we've been dealing with this issue for two years. We know in Ontario, same-sex marriage has been occurring for two years, that eight of the ten provinces already allow same-sex marriage, yet there's a disconnect. We do not have federal legislation. The Prime Minister has been clear this is an important piece of legislation and we've debated it thoroughly," said Ontario's Mark Holland in an interview with CBC Newsworld.
If the vote fails to pass, Mr. Valeri has said he would ask the Speaker to recall Parliament during an adjournment. The rules say the Speaker can reject a request if it is not in the public interest, and Mr. Valeri said it is not certain the Speaker would consider the same-sex bill important enough.