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  October 05, 2006 | Global Facelessness « Previous | Current | Next » Comments (0) | Archives | About Email lind at

I mentioned this last week, but in case you missed it: I didn't make up the line about the Toronto school banning talking during lunch hour. Here is the September 18 six-minute news clip from Metro Morning that provided backup for Frank's anti-facetime campaign. Got any other examples of social interaction bans -- or the moratorium on familial relationships? Leave a comment.

The inquiry clearing Maher Arar is one of the few bits of good news that we can cling to these days. Now the federal government is waiting to apologize until the lawsuit that Arar has launched is settled. (It would be a sorry state if apologies were only made under threat of lawsuits.) While the Conservatives like to point out that the Liberals are the ones who bear partial responsibility for Arar's 10 months and 10 days in a grave-like cell, the Tories were not defending his rights as he was being tortured by the Syrians. On the contrary, Parliamentary records show that they criticized the Liberals back in 2002 for not being tougher on Arar, whom Stockwell Day called "a dangerous man." This cartoon deals with it. Below is the Hansard excerpt, from Monday, November 18, 2002:

Mr. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the government's right hand does not know what its left hand is doing when it comes to national security.

The foreign affairs minister said for two months that the United States had offered no justification or information for the deportation of Maher Arar. Yet we now know that the RCMP knew of Arar's activities. They questioned him nearly a year ago and they were notified weeks ago by the FBI of its information.

My question is, when did the minister know of the RCMP's holding of information on this matter?

Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we would not in any circumstances of course disclose information of that sort, whether we had it or not, with respect to a particular individual.

Of course we raised issues regarding the consular rights of the individual involved, but in no circumstances would we confirm or make any comment on any information that we might have about an individual--

Mr. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, he said he did not know. It would be nice if there were somebody here to actually answer a question on this.

While the minister participated in high level consultations to defend a suspected terrorist, it apparently took a trip by the U.S. Secretary of State for the minister to admit what he really knew.

Officials now acknowledge that they have had evidence on Arar's activities for weeks. Why did it take a newspaper article to correct the record? Why did the minister and the government not reveal these facts to the House before today?

Hon. Wayne Easter (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade is working with United States authorities on this issue to clarify the matter. We do not comment publicly on these matters related to international security.

Mr. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, perhaps I will ask that minister. The Minister of Foreign Affairs was asked in the House of Commons about this file. He acted as if he knew absolutely nothing and said he was going to consult the United States because he had no justification or information.

The minister's department has an agency under him, the RCMP, which had that information. When was that information passed on to the Minister of Foreign Affairs?

Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is confusing the issue of a citizen's consular rights, that is, rights to consular support in any circumstance, and the issue of whether or not there was substantive information that concerned this particular individual in the possession of U.S. authorities.

In the former, of course we will intervene in order to ensure that consular rights are respected. In the latter, we will not be prepared to comment.

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is time the Liberals told the truth: that their system of screening and security checks is pathetic. Arar was given dual Syrian and Canadian citizenship by the government. It did not pick up on his terrorist links and the U.S. had to clue it in.

How is it that the U.S. could uncover this man's background so quickly when the government's screening system failed to find his al-Qaeda links?

Hon. John Manley (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I point out to the hon. member for Calgary--Nose Hill that Mohammed Atta, the conspirator behind the September 11 destruction of the World Trade Center, received his visa from U.S. authorities six months after September 11.

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the government needs to take responsibility for what it is doing to protect Canadian security. The fact is that these Liberals were asleep at the switch.

Arar was not properly checked. Instead, the government ran around chastising the U.S. for sending Arar back to Syria, where he is also a citizen.

Why is it that the Liberal security system is so weak here that they overlook vital information that the U.S. picked up on a routine check?

Hon. Wayne Easter (Solicitor General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, if hon. members on the opposite side would listen, I want to make it very clear that we are on top of our game in terms of international security. The RCMP and CSIS are very much on top of their game in ensuring that we are protecting Canadian citizens against terrorism.

Attack of the Same-Sex Sleeper Cells Retailers:

Pages, 256 Queen Street West (at John). On the graphic novels table.
The Beguiling, 601 Markham Street (near Bloor and Bathurst)
Book City, three locations - 501 Bloor St. West, 348 Danforth Ave., 663 Yonge St.
Hairy Tarantula, 354 Yonge Street (near Dundas).
David Mirvish Books, 596 Markham St.

The Bookshelf, 41 Quebec Street.
Macondo Books, 18 Wilson Street

Waterloo: Words Worth Books, 100 King Street South

Kitchener: KW Bookstore, 308 King Street West

Hamilton: Bryan Prince Bookseller, 1060 King Street West

Ottawa: Collected Works, 1242 Wellington Street West (at Holland)



You can see a more extensive portfolio of my work at the blog, including This Bright Future, a distilled and partial continuation of Weltschmerz, Turtle Creek, a daily comic about a turtle and a computer, and Footprint in Mouth, a quarterly cartoon I draw for Alternatives.

Weltschmerz in Print

Weltschmerz ran in Toronto's Eye Weekly from 1997 to 2007. It ran in weekly papers in southwestern Ontario, Ottawa and Edmonton between 1995 and 2008.

Notes on Writing a Comic Strip

I wrote this 17-page, 4 MB PDF document for my workshop at the 2006 Eden Mills Writers' Festival. It details the creation of one strip and gives tips on writing comics.

Politics and Environment

Monbiot | Guardian columnist and Heat author George Monbiot's blog. Not only about global warming, but expect plenty of refutations of the flat-earthers. His writing is witty, incisive and bang-on.

Desmog Blog | An indispensible (and Canadian) resource that "clears the PR pollution that clouds climate science."


Weltschmerz playlist at CBC Radio 3 | Some of the music I listen to while drawing this comic -- independent and Canadian.

This American Life | Radio documentaries that hit the heart, brain and funny bone.

CBC Podcasts | I don't listen to much live radio. Now, podcasts allow me to catch a lot of what I miss. I listen to The Current, Ideas, Spark and Search Engine while inking.


Diesel Sweeties by R Stevens | Witty repartee between guys, girls and robots drawn in a pixelated yet surprisingly versatile style.

Scott Pilgrim Manga-style indie-rock romance by Canadian Bryan Lee O'Malley | The most fun I've had in a comic book in recent memory. Highly recommended.

Dykes to Watch Out For | Alison Bechdel's brilliant weekly strip has been ghettoized because of its gay themes but deserves a wider readership.

Doonesbury | Garry Trudeau is still great after all these years.

Kevin Heuzenga | Enviable drawing style and dry wit. Start with Time Travelling.

Graeme MacKay | The editorial cartoonist for the Hamilton Spectator has a distinctive, addictive drawing style. And he makes me chortle.

Friends and Neighbours

Blog Guelph | Hometown photos and events.

The Narrative | Riveting photoblog. Matt O'Sullivan is at the right place at the right shutter speed.

Breast of Canada | A calendar promoting women's health.

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