Friday, July 18, 2014

Dear assorted Ukrainian and Russian machomen,

I hope the loss of MH17 and her passengers puts your pathetic and utterly unjustifiable little war in perspective and causes you to end it.

-----------


Commentary. I think it is likely that either the Russians supplied the rebels with advanced surface to air missile systems (SAM), or the rebels acquired them from actions against the Ukraine military. I think it is possible but unlikely that the missile was fired by the Ukrainians. Some half-trained rebel unit got excited and squeezed off a round. It might even be the case that they had no idea that there was an active international air corridor over the area.

I also think that the Ukraine government, airlines and air regulators owe explanations as to why they allowed an air corridor to be maintained over a war zone where sophisticated weapons capable of downing fast jets are regularly used to effect. My bet is that it has something to do with the fuel costs associated with rerouting and finding the answer they liked regarding air defence capabilities in the region that allowed them to maintain air corridors.



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Defence of Canada under Harper

Canada's political, social and physical geography define its defence priorities. Unless there is a massive shift in US politics, it has no land connection to any existing or potential military adversary. Our small population density and massive geography compared to the US means that even if that were a hostile relationship, the 49th parallel is too long to manually defend anyway.

Even without NORAD and NATO, Canada still sits between the major strategic military opponents: Russia and the United States. This means that confrontations between these two major military powers could occur near Canada's coasts and skies, not on the ground.

This fact makes the RCAF and RCN the key services of the Canadian Forces required for the strategic defence of Canada. We are surrounded by a lot of sea and airspace.  Like it or not, the Army's major territorial role tends to only involve aid-to-the-civil power actions, usually around emergencies like fire and flood, or tactical security for high profile international events and meetings and extremely rare armed stand-offs.

Under Harper's watch, both the RCAF and RCN are suffering rust-out and mismanaged procurement.

The RCAF is due to replace its CF-18 fighters and Sea King helicopters in the next few years. The replacement for the CF-18 is still likely to be the insanely expensive and problem plagued F-35, which may yet be cancelled leaving Canada without a combat air force. The smart scandal-rumour is that the RCAF even now does not have enough serviceable fighters to intercept Russian patrols near Canada, and the USAF has to do it instead. The Sea King replacement is the expensive, beta-standard Cyclone helicopter likely to suffer significant teething problems when it does become operational.

The RCN just lost an ancient destroyer to rust, with other ships and subs in repair after damage. The ability of the Navy to fully crew its vessels is also in doubt.  Earlier this year, HMCS Protecteur suffered a major fire and had to be pulled from another exercises and towed back to Canada. Last year, that same ship was damaged in a collision with the Algonquin, which suffered severe damage. And before that, HMCS Corner Brook sailed into the seabed and was nearly lost. At this loss rate, there won't be any ships in the water in another year or two.

Today we learn that HMCS Whitehorse, a smaller coastal warship got pulled from an exercise because of discipline problems with its sailors.

What is happening to the Navy? Is this a result of political neglect impacting morale and training, leading to slip-ups? Will the RCAF follow?

Under Harper's watch, Canada is losing the key armed services necessary for its defence. Keep in mind also that Harper's labour policies are eroding the capacity of Canadians to find employment in Canada. Harper's economic policy also privileges highly risky resource extraction at the expense of the environment, destroying the climate and landbase.

The Cons are clearly hell-bent on weakening Canada from within.

Under different circumstances, you'd start to think they were agents of some enemy power because they are passively and actively crippling the economic and military security of the state.

John Baird, international man of something or other


Why?

Canada is adding a further 14 individuals to the list of those sanctioned over Russia's ongoing involvement in the situation in Ukraine...
"Peace will only be achieved if Russia and the gunmen it continues to support start showing good faith in talks with Kyiv," he said, calling on Russia to stop arming insurgents and draw down its forces on the Ukrainian border.
Baird called news Friday of the deaths of 30 Ukrainian soldiers "shocking" and pointed to "Russian-sponsored subversion and violence."
Right now Russia is more or less letting the insurgency it supports die on the vine. Putin has likely worked out that would be some kind of colossal error that would end up costing Russia quite a lot in its relationship with the world. Otherwise, the Ukraine army wouldn't have been able to push it back to Donetsk so easily or at all. There could even be Russian troops pouring into Ukraine. That could possibly still happen, but for now it's probably best to let things evolve as they are.

There is NO need to bring in new sanctions against Russians, least of all from Canada. US, European, and NATO responses will draw Russia's attention because they can actually hurt Russia. The impact of Canadian sanctions would be neglible to the Russians and could actually be of greater harm to Canada, because - if Russia even bothers to respond - it will direct its response at Canada in some way. Alas, it made the Cons feel all tingly and tough.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

End of Harpergov?

The always good to read Kirbycairo makes the case that endless anger politics and court-corrected legislation has doomed the Harpercons in the next election.

I'd say yes, likely true if all other things were equal. However, this is also why why the Fair Elections Act exists. They just need enough seats, not all of the seats to keep on keeping on and I simply don't trust the FPTP system and the Governor General to deny them that, even without robocalls or whatever new skulduggery they've connived in dark corners for the next election.

After so long with Harper at the helm, the party had been reduced to one office and an operating mode that effectively denies the legitimacy of anything that opposes them, be it the parlimentary opposition, non-supporters, the Constitution, scientists, everyday Canadians, and so on and so forth.

This is THE problem for them because it means that they will never appeal to a majority of Canadians, and hence cannot sustain majority wins in fair elections. 
 
There's also no coherent recovery, if there is a recovery at all for the Cons if they lose and deep down they know it.  Why? Because they've concentrated power at the top, rewarded fealty and crushed initiative which means that rising stars only rise so far and none but the Glans has executive authority. More importantly, they've snuffed out the best of both their Reform and Tory roots, which involved a mature understanding of and respect for institutions of government and democracy and a clear ideology. They only destroy things now. With those things gone there's no foundation left to rebuild on.

They'll fight like cornered animals.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Disaster Putin Posin'

"Honey, that Harper boy is at again with his Putin Posin'."

"Let me be clear, I'm really a pilot. Why do you ask?"
Vlad, smiling for the camera in his Bear near Canada
as Stephen snaps his photo from his
prime ministerial CF-18. (I wonder if they trade pics?)
Word: It's not even a disaster in Manitoba, and may not be. There've been no evacuations yet in Manitoba's annual flood (seriously, it's what happens there because it's a floodplain, sigh), just "water lapping at farm buildings" and yet there he is...

Ukraine...

Ukraine hasn't made much in the news lately. I think it once it became clear that Putin wasn't likely to invade beyond Crimea and the pro-Russian rebels appeared to have consolidated their gains in the east, the press lost interest outside of the odd report. It's back in the news a bit now with the pro-Russians retreating in the face of the Ukrainian military's assault. It's hard to retake a city once you leave it.

It's just tragic for all concerned. Unless Putin has a sudden and insane change of mind in the next few days, the rebels appear to be pretty much on their own, and there are reports that they are fairing poorly in terms of support from Russia. Of course, we obviously don't know what it's like inside the rebel camps now, but they can't be feeling too good about the lack of decisive action by the leader of the country they think they belong to. Maybe Russian support is thinning out, and maybe the Russain commandos assisting them are leaving. In any case, their fates have already been decided in places like Moscow, Brussels, Washington, and Berlin.

Nostalgia mixed with masculine ideals, is a killer. These rebels before they were rebels and the territorial Russians crossing to help them, hanging around unemployed (this a hard but insightful piece) and whinging over beer and cigarettes, the older ones remembering life before the USSR collapsed, and the younger ones in awe thinking they'd all be better off if Russia were in charge... Then Euromaidan happened, and local politics got colourful. The Russian army walked into Crimea and tough Russians with guns showed up in Donetsk and other places and things got exciting. Pro-Russian volunteers came in to help. Nostalgic fantasies at the pub got uniforms and guns and life had a bit more meaning. Must have felt scary but thrilling at first to go off and learn some basic light infantry tactics in the woods somewhere or dust-off an old uniform and memories. A few easy wins against a starved, surprised and restrained Ukrainian army and a big chunk of territory was theirs. Dead civilians and comrades where the Kyiv struck back fueled the sense of righteousness about the cause.

Things must have felt different after the Donetsk Airport loss and casualties, and definitely now this week. The Ukraine government isn't going anywhere and finds itself moving closer to the EU, which is evidently not worried despite all the violence. The Ukrainian army has done some consolidating in the past few months and is now moving against the rebels with force. I don't think it will be long now.

Sadly, the question of what happens to the people in eastern Ukraine still remains, Crimea notwithstanding. There's effectively a civil war in that part of the country and anger and sorrow will be the fallout. Everyone should do their best to remedy things as much as possible as quickly with money and jobs and keep it that way for 20 or 50 years. There is a risk that the radicalised Donetsk denizens will start setting off bombs on buses and markets in western Ukraine, which is what happens in cases like this. Let's hope it doesn't.

Friday, July 04, 2014

F-35 fire

Seriously, it's like the plane is begging people not to buy it.
The U.S. military said it had grounded the entire fleet of 97 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets until completion of additional inspections of the warplane's single engine built by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp.
I wonder if the Royal Navy has a Plan B? Might say as much about the Monarchy as the military-industrial-political complex if the Sovereign's namesake carrier is unable to field the aircraft it was built for.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Another of Christy Clark's sparkle ponies dies

Let's see ... how should we word this?

You may not like fucking BC Ferries, but BC Ferries likes fucking you!

BC Ferries, A CORPORATION IN WHICH THE ONLY SHAREHOLDER IS THE PROVINCE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA which is wholly funded by the taxpayers of British Columbia, which makes it a citizen owned entity, has announced that it is building its next three ships in Poland

Isn't that just about the most interesting thing you've heard in the last ten minutes?

Seaspan, the only Canadian shipbuilder on the short list for construction, withdrew its bid because it could not guarantee delivery before 2017. Its order book, according to Seaspan, is full, primarily due to a federal government order for an entire fleet of new ships.

Except for one small item. They haven't even ordered the steel for the ships ordered by the federal government because the Harper government has played this like a dog fucking a football.

And Christy Clark? Well she's a mid-day radio blather-head so far out of her depth as to be laughable if she wasn't so goddamned dangerous.

Here you go Clark! Chew on your own fucking words!
"It won’t be just a matter of us building BC Ferries," Clark said. "We want to build ferries for countries all over the world here."
 When that pitchfork hits her in the ass we can only hope she deflates as fast as her sparkle ponies.

Party Poly-ticks

Perhaps it's the nature of party politics that eventually causes parties to abdicate themselves of their founding principles. Political parties come into existence with ideological agendas and a set of corresponding positions and policies. It's what makes them political parties.

Eventually though, parties lose themselves in politics. The Conservatives, whether Reform or a proper Tory variety, used to at least have some kind of honesty (brains?) regarding what they were about and tried to conduct government responsibly, at least as far as they saw it. Mulroney tried to sort Quebec, and NA/FTA fit within their vision. They liked nice suits, unity and business, and none were in the dark about it. Then the Great Grey Glans's Western faction of self-centred and piss-ignorant junior officers and cadets launched their coup and promptly fracked the place with what the rest of us know as authoritarian fascism (or abject thuggery). I really don't think that they could actually describe what they are.

Now the party that should really be the diametric opposite of all that is the HarperCons (including focusing on the party, not its expendable leader on the website) has embraced Tony Blair's (TONY BLAIR!) Giddens-y black-is-white, up-is-down, help-confused-voters-sleep-at-night, third-way mumbojumbo which saw Blair's Labour sign-up to an American Neocon war that continues to slaughter innocents to this day. At least our LIBERALS saw that thing for what it was.


Congratulations, NDP: You're now worse than useless.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Harper vs. Putin, air edition

RAF Typhoon with Russian Su-27 - June 2014
Brian Stewart at CBC suggests that Harper's  over-the-top tough-guy rhetoric about Putin has led to increased Russian strategic bomber flights and thus a busier time for Canadian fighters and pilots conducting Arctic interceptions.

I'm not sure there's a direct causal relationship or that Putin is petty enough to care about what an insecure Canadian political leader (and possible secret admirer) has to say about him, but it is probably true that things are starting to feel like the old days at NORAD.  Not that we would know, because as Stewart mentions in Canada these things are secret. I disagree with his reasoning that this to keep the Russians in the dark about what we know. NORAD sees pretty much everything in the air around North America (because that's its job) and the Russians know it, and the Russian aircrew certainly notice when US or Canadian fighters pop up to say hi or radar waves bounce off their airframes.

The secrecy claim is also a little weird when put in the context of Europe where the RAF is happy to highlight their Baltic interceptions of Russian aircraft of all types, including armed fighter aircraft.

Then again, if the Russians are flying armed fighters near Canadian air space, it might look a little more concerning than docile and easy to shoot-down large bombers or reconnaissance planes. Not that anything would happen, but I imagine the dynamic changes and pilots' palms sweat a little when fighters meet fighters.

Perhaps also it puts a particularly problematic repurposed bomber procurement/corporate welfare project in even darker shadow by daylighting reality and thus the need for Spitfires (or maybe, just maybe checking out of the absurd Great Game altogether)...

Monday, June 30, 2014

From the same group of thugs who brought you the Temporary Foreign Workers fiasco ....

The Trojan Horse! (Or horses, if you like). Ever heard of the International Mobility Program? How about Inter-Company Transfers, whereby foreign companies are permitted to bring their own foreign workers in to do work on Canadian soil?

No?

Off to Creekside where Alison had done an amazing amount of heavy lifting. It may be the most important post you've read this year.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

John Baird is either a liar or stupid ...

And, no, you are not limited to one or the other when trying to decide.

I've said before that Harper and his incompetent thugs are nothing more than hillbillies playing at governing with no coherent plan and no clear concept of the world around them. No one epitomizes the intellectual laziness of the Harper regime than his so-called Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird. This is the guy who's supposed be in touch with the world and understand the nuances of other countries and cultures. The truth is, he is utterly unqualified for the job.

After calling the former Canadian ambassador to Egypt, Ferry de Kerckhove, something close to anti-Semitic, Baird furthered the exposure of his own ignorance by stating an outright falsehood, proclaiming that de Kerckhove was on the payroll of the government of Qatar.

Ferry de Kerckhove squared this away quickly while making it clear what he thinks of John Baird and his penchant for making things up. Read it all.

[I] was never on the payroll of the Government of Qatar. Mr. Baird could have checked the fact rather than try to defame me!
...
Yet I would hope that he might understand the danger my grandmother faced during the German occupation of Belgium as she harbored a Jewish couple in her basement for the better part of 1944. She was visited by the head of the Komandantur of Liege who told her there were rumors she was sheltering Jews. She stared him down and challenged him to check if he did not believe her word that she did not. He backed off. The couple survived. That is real life Mr. Baird and I am deeply proud of my grandmother.

My mother, although born a catholic hailed from a well-known Jewish family of printers for the Vatican. Of course, Mr. Baird, you might not know that Catholics could not become printers for the Vatican a few centuries ago as it was not “kosher” (pardon the pun!) for Catholics to make money from the Vatican.
The people of Ottawa West - Nepean should be ashamed of themselves for sending this national embarrassment and total waste of skin to parliament.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Dear Canada ... Kiss your navy goodbye

The Royal Canadian Navy, your navy, is now in worse condition than it ever was under any other government since before the 2nd World War.

Today the RCN announced that HMCS Iroquois is so badly rusted out and so dangerous to sail that it may never return to service.

That leaves the RCN with one, that's right, one serviceable destroyer. The RCN has one, that's right, one replenishment ship.

What that means is that the RCN is able to put ONE under-strength task group to sea in the event of a crisis, whether military or humanitarian. In a country bordered by three oceans, we have to choose ONE and hope it's a correct guess.

The RCN is conducting patrols with clapped-out, continually useless Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels, the likes of which don't even have a useable gunnery system and present a useless sick-bay.

So much for the myth perpetuated by the Harper government that the Conservatives are all about defending Canada. You'd have to go back to 1936 to find Canada's navy in such a deplorable state.

Harper lied to you and he lied to the armed services.

Helicopters and Cons

This is ludicrous. Canada's Seaking replacement is the Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone. This is a militarised version of the civilian S-92 helicopter. Two S-92 helicopters, one in Australia and one in Canada, have crashed due to the loss of oil in the main gearbox. The Canadian crash killed 17 oil rig workers and crew.
Now, CBC News has learned the details of what the government has agreed to forego in order to conclude a long-awaited new deal with Sikorsky, and it includes a formerly mandatory safety measure: a 30-minute run-dry standard for its main gear box.
The importance of the ability to fly for 30 minutes after a loss of lubrication in the main gear box was reinforced by an investigation into a deadly 2009 crash of a Sikorsky-built helicopter.
The gearbox is a kind of linkage between the helicopters engines and its rotor system. It's packed with lubricating oil that cools the gears and keeps power flowing to the rotors. If a helicopter loses oil in its main gearbox, the system will get too hot and either seize up or otherwise fail. That would lead to a loss of power in the rotor, forcing a helicopter from the sky.
A helicopter that meets the run-dry standard can continue flying for 30 minutes even if there's no oil in the main gear box — a critical feature for helicopters flying hundreds of kilometres out to sea.

As a result, the Transportation Safety Board recommended revisiting the 30 minute gearbox run-dry requirement that this model of helicopter was exempted from under an "extremely remote" chance provision in the regulations because the chances are apparently somewhat less than extremely remote.

I suspect that if the CH-148 has been exempted from this requirement this late in the game, it probably has not been able to demonstrate that it can meet it and likely won't ever. I wonder what the paperwork looks like around that toxic nugget!

A few things to keep in mind. First, naval helicopters fly from ships that may be sailing thousands (not hundreds) of kilometres from shore. If a helicopter gets in trouble, it could be a long way from its ship, the sea conditions could be bad, it could be a combat situation, and so on, any of which makes a timely rescue difficult to impossible. Second, military aircraft, unlike civilian ones, are regularly flown right to the edge of their performance envelope (and sometimes beyond), placing additional stress on airframe components. It doesn't take an engineer to tell you that this both increases the likelihood of failure and the need for robust safety systems and criteria. 

There's no excuse for this. Like the single engine F-35, it isn't a question of if crashes will happen, but when. I hope the Cons aren't using the near 50% loss rate (incl. 37 deaths) of their ancestral (Diefenbaker) government's purchase CF-104s as an acceptibility benchmark.

It's cowardice and utterly criminal not to cancel a program that fails to meet safety standards set by fatal experience. Aircrew will pay with their lives for the Cons inability to eat their error. Should we be surprised? People, workers, military members, it doesn't matter: everyone is expendable to them if it is politically expedient.

Collective sociopathy, if there is such a thing. He's a little off, but this guy has a point.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The thickness of Peter Mackay

Let's face it, Peter Mackay is not among the sharpest implements in a drawer full of dull blades. His latest attack on women demonstrates a thought process that is not only overly-simplistic but flawed to the point of being dangerous. Tabatha Southey does a low-level strafing run on Mackay demonstrating his consistency in being wrong on, well, everything.
At this point, I’m impressed with the sheer breadth and scope of Justice Minister Peter MacKay’s ineptitude. These days he’s wrong about so many things and manages to communicate this wrongness in so many mediums, I’m in awe.
The man is wrong everywhere! He just keeps popping up wrong! Peter MacKay is like the Zelig of wrong! He’s wrong in the House of Commons – and throws papers on the floor. He’s as wrong in four-year-old as he is in adult.
It gets better and is a great Sunday morning read.

Of course, nothing about Mackay would be complete without pointing out his failure to keep it professional in the House of Commons when his steady squeeze gave Harper the finger. It also showed what he thought of women.
Liberal MP David McGuinty asked Mr. MacKay how the Conservatives' newly unveiled green plan would help his dog in Nova Scotia. Mr. MacKay is said to have looked up, pointed to Ms. Stronach's empty chair and said "You already have her."
...
Added Mr. McGuinty: "I mean, this is the kind of conduct that you expect from a schoolyard bully, not a Minister of Foreign Affairs ... It is not the conduct that is becoming of a minister of Foreign Affairs.
Mackay ran away from further questions on the matter.

But one has to wonder: What's motivating this mono-synaptic twit?

He sold out a "big tent" party (which admittedly had been shredded by Mulroney) to a bunch of intolerant, racist, small-minded, knuckle-dragging, low-life fascists just to get a seat at a particular table. This is not someone motivated by a sense of public service.

Could it be that Peter Mackay is so dumb that he believes he can outlast Harper and, because he sold out his once centrist party to the Calgary republicans, that he is the anointed monarch?

Please ... he can't be THAT stupid. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

TFW reformishness

Yeah, whatever. Some caps, some more inspections, some 'up to' fines. Capital is like water and will find the cracks.

A $1000 application fee? Some places could probably recover that in a paycheque or two, or find a way of transfering the cost to the employee. Fines seem high, but don't kick in until the fall, which should give the rats plenty of time to find the cracks and spaces to hide. I could go on.


The problem is the program, its expansion, and the attack on Canadian workers and the exploitation of foreigners the expansion represents. At the end of the day, Canadians are being displaced by lower-waged people from abroad who do not have the same rights and expectations from their employers that Canadians have.

Just wait until the news gets out in a few months that nothing's changed or things have gotten worse, possibly due to some Trojan horse hidden in the program reforms. That's how these Cons think. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Well, that's a little awkward

Harpergov does a poll (snicker) on Canadian political icons in the lead-up the 150th birthday (geez, didn't we just have Canada 125?), and well, the results really don't do the Cons any favours.

Folks like Layton, Suzuki, topped by Trudeau the Elder. It must be so hard to be a Con in Canada.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Swamp Blaney with information

So, Harper has ordered Public Safety Minister, Steven Blaney, to learn about and monitor every protest, everywhere by anybody in Canada.
The federal government is expanding its surveillance of public activities to include all known demonstrations across the country, a move that collects information even on the most mundane of protests by Canadians.
The email requesting such information was sent out Tuesday by the Government Operations Centre in Ottawa to all federal departments.
The Government Operations Centre is not allowed to issue such instructions. It's own terms of reference make it a body designed to respond to emergencies; not gather information on legitimate assemblies. In short the GOC is now spying on you. Welcome to Harper's Canada. (And the stinking turd has the unmitigated gall to call Putin a threat to stability).

Others have written extensively and eloquently on this. Dr. Dawg and Simon have pointed out very clearly what this means and if you don't get the "police state is here, now" flavour from their very clear messages, I would re-read them until you do.

So, what are you going to do about it?

Try this: Every community and local event, right down to a friggin' church bake sale should be reported to Blaney's office. Make every event a demonstration or protest.

Having a pancake breakfast? Make it a pancake breakfast to protest the consumption of toast.
Holding a bake sale to raise funds for the poor overseas? Make it a bake sale protesting the lack of foreign aid being provided by Canada.

Swamp the sonofabitch. They don't have the people or the resources to sort through it. And keep doing it. Don't let up and they'll eventually give up. You turn their own weapon against them.

You can send a letter, or thousands of letters, without postage, to:
Steven Blaney, MP
House of Commons,
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6

Email: steven.blaney@parl.gc.ca

Fax: 613-995-6856

Phone: 613-992-7434

And feel free to tell your community newspaper what you're doing. They'll eat it up.
 


Wednesday, June 04, 2014

It's time BC teachers realized that the woman in the pink shirt is a bloody bully

Christy Clark takes credit for creating Pink Shirt Day, an initiative intended to combat the bullying that occurs in BC schoolyards. It was a useful illusion to help her fulfill her political ambitions. There's only one problem: Christy Clark is one of the most notorious bullies in British Columbia.

Christy Clark is the one who tore up collective agreements, repeatedly violated the constitutional rights of teachers and has brutally starved the provincial public education system at all levels. It makes one wonder what it is this daughter of a BC teacher has against education in general and public-school teachers specifically.

She has enlisted her populist water-carriers in the media to refer to the BC Teachers Federation as "militant", an unwarranted term used without a shred of substantiation. As The Gazetteer points out, it was Clark who tried to provoke a strike, violated the constitution, ignored the rule of law and tore up contracts. Yet none of those media pundits have taken to calling Clark what she is: an extremist and a bully.

Jim Nelson does a great job of laying out the history of the BCTF and the fact that they're anything but militant. Forced by then-premier Bill Vanderzalm into becoming a union, teachers, by their very nature go out of their way to avoid conflict and confrontation and they do it at their own peril. Further, they have caused less classroom disruption due to labour concerns than the Campbell/Clark regime has done with a fiscal hatchet.

Jim Nelson used an interesting analogy when he put Christy Clark's behaviour with teachers against the backdrop of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. Interesting that he should use that particular group because the ILWU marine component has just experienced a single outrageous act on the part of the employer and they didn't hold back. A strike vote was swift and unanimous.

Seaspan, the largest tug, towing and vessel escort company in BC, unilaterally imposed a new contract on both officers and ratings, stripping them of established working conditions and placing a higher demand on call-out crews. The ILWU and the Canadian Merchant Service Guild (representing officers) were understandably outraged at the move. When Seaspan appeared intransigent the ILWU received unanimous approval from its members to go to a strike. The CMSG also announced a strike vote prompting the federal labour minister, Kellie Leitch, to get involved. The officers have agreed to an arbitrator and not to strike providing Seaspan does NOT implement the new contract. The ratings aren't being quite as nice about it. They expect negotiations to resume immediately, failure of which will lead to 72 hours strike notice and a virtual shut-down of shipping all over BC by Sunday.

Now, if I were betting on what's happening now, (and having had a couple of conversations with some tug captains), I'd bet that Seaspan expected a strike and then expected the anti-labour Harper government to legislate crews back to work with an imposed agreement ... favouring Seaspan's owners.

Tug crews are a tough lot. They have difficult, dangerous jobs requiring exceptional skill and a high level of knowledge. When they, without hesitation, threatened to get tough and get tough fast, they brought down their bully. There is no doubt the officers and ratings made it clear to Leitch that they wouldn't and did not need to back down. You see, the crews, particularly the officers, hold the hammer, something I'll describe if and when it appears they may close to swinging it.

The teachers haven't been getting the same kind of action. They've been bullied since 2002, yet they've only pulled themselves out to the picket line for 14 days since 1995. They've watched their working conditions deteriorate, at the hands of Christy Clark and have appeared powerless. The courts find in their favour and Christy Clark ignores it.

Time to get tough. Find the hammer handle and threaten to swing it. When Clark and Fassbender (who should be described by the media as an extreme fundamentalist) attempt to ignore the threat, follow through. Are there going to be hard feelings? Of course. You don't pull down a bully by being nice.

And the next time Christy Clark puts on a pink t-shirt everyone needs to mark her for the bully she is. 



Friday, May 30, 2014

F-35 and hot air

For anyone who still follows the very expensive comedy of errors that is the F-35, the latest news is that the air from the big hole what all the hot air blows out on the vertical take off/land "B" model is too hot for most landing surfaces.

Apparently it requires a special military grade concrete mix, or a special 30 ton  landing pad, which effectively negates the entire point of a V/STOL flying machine (i.e. operate in places of minimal infrastructure).