By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 0 Comments
Two weeks ago, officials from the U.S. State Department and the United Nations expressed concern about Julian Fantino’s comments about Haiti. In an interview with the Vaughan Citizen, Mr. Fantino responds.
And Mr. Fantino had strong words for anyone who would put Canada’s contribution to Haiti’s recovery in a bad light. “Shame on them. It’s unfortunate that people have run off without full information about what we’re going to do. These comments from (UN representatives and U.S. State department representatives) are irresponsible when matched with our commitment. We should be thanked upside down and sideways. We pledged $400 million over two years in March 2010 at an international donors conference and we are one of very few countries that actually meets its commitments,” he said in defending Canada’s participation in the rebuilding effort in Haiti since a devastating earthquake killed upwards of 300,000 people three years ago, left 300,000 homeless and caused an estimated $12.5 billion in damage.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 11:53 AM - 0 Comments
(This post last updated at 6:57pm.)
So reports the Washington Post. With an asterisk.
The Obama administration will announce this afternoon it is rejecting a Canadian firm’s application for a permit to build and operate a massive oil pipeline across the U.S.-Canada border, according to sources who have been briefed on the matter. However the administration will allow TransCanada to reapply after it develops an alternate route through the sensitive habitat of Nebraska’s Sandhills.
The Prime Minister’s last comments on Keystone came Monday in his interview with the CBC.
I think what’s happened around the Keystone is a wakeup call, the degree to which we are dependent or possibly held hostage to decisions in the United States, and especially decisions that may be made for very bad political reasons. So I think that just … it puts an emphasis on the fact that we must perform our regulatory processes to get timely decisions on diversification of our markets.
Update 2:03pm. Maybe “rejected” is too simplistic a characterization. The New York Times has the project “on hold.”
The administration has until Feb. 21 to decide the fate of the 1,700-mile pipeline to carry heavy crude oil from formations in Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Officials are expected to announce that they cannot meet that deadline and that they are looking for ways to complete a thorough environmental review before making a final decision on the project … The State Department is expected to say that routing, environmental and safety concerns raised by the project are too complex to be decided on that abbreviated timetable and is recommending that President Obama reject it for the time being.
Update 3:17pm. And here is the official statement from the U.S. State Department.
Today, the Department of State recommended to President Obama that the presidential permit for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline be denied and, that at this time, the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline be determined not to serve the national interest. The President concurred with the Department’s recommendation, which was predicated on the fact that the Department does not have sufficient time to obtain the information necessary to assess whether the project, in its current state, is in the national interest.
Update 3:28pm. A note from the Prime Minister’s Office on Mr. Harper’s conversation with Mr. Obama. Continue…
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Monday, October 3, 2011 at 9:10 AM - 17 Comments
Obama’s base turns up the heat on the oil sands pipeline
One day in early September, some dozen Democratic activists showed up at the Washington state headquarters of Obama for America, the President’s re-election campaign organization in Seattle. They cornered the state director, Dustin Lambro, and called on the President to block TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would bring crude oil from the Alberta oil sands through the U.S. Midwest to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas, potentially doubling exports of oil sands crude to the U.S. “It’s not an issue I know much about,” Lambro said. So the activists gave him an earful.
“We want to get the message to President Obama,” said a bearded man in a baseball cap, “that if you want us to vote for you this time around, this is what you’ve got to do.” Added a woman: “If you want us to work for you, that’s more important. We all worked for you.” Said a grey-haired business owner: “I was a campaign donor for Obama. I raised money for him. I raised a lot of money for him. We can’t afford to have Barack Obama keep compromising on the issues and the values that endeared him to his faithful.” By the end of the encounter, Lambro offered: “I’ll call my boss in Chicago. She’ll relay the message to the senior leadership of the campaign.”
The scene, as captured on a YouTube video, is playing out all over the country as anti-pipeline advocates increasingly turn away from the official State Department-run permit process, and turn up the heat on Barack Obama’s political operation. They have been showing up at his speeches and fundraisers, and greet him with chants of “Yes We Can—Stop the Pipeline.” They bird-dog his top campaign manager, Jim Messina. And as a follow-up to the summer’s civil disobedience that saw some 1,200 activists arrested in front of the White House in August, they are planning demonstrations at Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago, and bigger operations at his state headquarters. Environmentalists also plan to remind the President of his environmental campaign promises on Nov. 6, one year before the election, by bringing 10,000 people to Washington to form a human ring around the White House.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, July 15, 2011 at 12:49 PM - 5 Comments
Adam Chapnik explains the wisdom of dysfunction at the United Nations.
To suggest, however, that North Korea’s accession to the presidency of the conference on disarmament – not to mention the conference’s failure to play a role in any recent progress on global non-proliferation initiatives – justifies a Canadian boycott, which could eventually lead to the decline of the conference altogether, misses the point.
The United Nations is nothing more than a framework through which its members can sort out their political, economic, and security-related disagreements. It cannot do the negotiating for them, but it can make it easier to negotiate when the time is right.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 15, 2010 at 2:09 PM - 0 Comments
Cannon reiterated what several top government officials have disclosed already this week — that Canada had 135 written assurances of support and 15 verbal ones. ”The United States was among that group,” Cannon said from Brussels, where he was meeting his NATO counterparts.
Cannon made that remark only in French, during a short teleconference with journalists in which he took only three questions. Cannon immediately backtracked from the statement when asked a follow-up question. ”Let me clarify that: I don’t want to indicate that we did or did not get support from the United States. I want to make that clear,” the minister stated. ”I don’t want to go into who supported . . . during the course of that vote. I’ll leave it to the individual countries to indicate their position, vis-a-vis that given that it is a secret vote.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 12, 2010 at 10:55 AM - 26 Comments
Human rights organizations reported local authorities tortured and abused detainees. Torture and abuse methods included, but were not limited to, beating by stick, scorching bar, or iron bar; flogging by cable; battering by rod; electric shock; deprivation of sleep, water, and food; abusive language; sexual humiliation; and rape. An April Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) report stated that torture was commonplace among the majority of law enforcement institutions, especially the police, and that officials used torture when a victim refused to confess to elicit bribes or because of personal enmity. Observers report that some police failed to understand the laws regarding torture.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 18, 2009 at 11:07 PM - 5 Comments
In spring 2007, the Globe’s Graeme Smith conducted 30 interviews with detainees and documented various allegations of abuse after they were transferred from Canadian to Afghan authorities. Paul Koring subsequently reported that the Harper government was warned of mistreatment. Months later, Smith reported that Canada had lost track of at least 50 detainees due to poor record-keeping. In November of that year, Canada temporarily halted transfers.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 22, 2009 at 12:46 AM - 12 Comments
The Foreign Affairs committee was having a lovely time in Washington. Then the State Department asked about Question Period.
Leaving a meeting at the State Department late in the afternoon yesterday, I was asked by a State Department official what I thought of the doings in the House of Commons during the day’s Question Period. I confessed I had been in meetings all day and hadn’t heard. Finally on the Internet in the evening, I read the accounts of QP and of the hyper-partisan attacks. Again, it was saddening. He we were with major players, acting professional and serious with some of the high people in the American administration, while back home it was partisan business as usual. Our teams had let us down. We had put aside our differences here to make an impact, and under Mr. Sorenson’s help I think we did, but it was being eroded at home. The saddest part of it all was that it was a State Department official who alerted me to the conduct in our own Parliament. This is hokey stuff and deserves better from all of us.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 19, 2008 at 10:19 PM - 24 Comments
For some months now, the Prime Minister’s Office has been conducting periodic briefings for reporters—usually bureau chiefs, but generally one representative from each of the major media outlets. John, Paul and I have regularly attended (except when we don’t get the note). The topics discussed typically range from the Prime Minister’s itinerary to upcoming government action to the PMO’s spin on whatever happens to be making news at the moment.
There is only one rule at these briefings: the government official conducting the briefing must not be identified by name.
Everyone in the room agrees to this. And, in the myriad reports that follow, any information gleaned subsequently cited to a “senior government source” or some such.
This is now widely accepted practice. But, er, why? Continue…
By Paul Wells - Wednesday, August 13, 2008 at 4:10 PM - 0 Comments
From the Los Angeles Times:
A senior U.S. official involved in Russia policymaking vehemently denied that the administration had sent mixed messages, arguing that although Saakashvili had long received strong support from the most senior American officials, Georgians were warned not to engage Russia militarily.
“We have consistently, and on Thursday also, urged the Georgians not to move their forces in. We were unambiguous about it,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity when discussing private talks with the Georgians. “Saakashvili had always told us he could not stand by while Georgian villages were being shelled, and we always knew this was a point of pressure. We always told him that he should not give in to the kind of provocations we knew the Russians were capable of.”
But Phillips said he believed that even if the State Department was warning the Russians, the Georgians heard a different message.
“I think the State Department was assiduous in urging restraint, and Saakashvili’s buddies in the White House and Office of the Vice President kept egging him on,” Phillips said.