I am The Consensus

The Consensus has spoken

Toronto: Massive Protests Against Israeli Assault on Gaza

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From late last year up until January of this year, protests were being held regularly all over the world to bring an end to the latest Israeli attack on Gaza.  Toronto was no different. I drove down to witness the intense atmosphere myself.  Thousands of  protesters, outraged by these attacks, marched in front of the US and Israeli embassies in Toronto downtown in peak of winter to voice their opinions.

The anger of the protesters was justified, in my opinion. SSPX0015

Over 1,000 people had died and every human rights organization had demanded Israel to end its assault yet Canadian leaders refused even a condemnation. Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff stated “Israel has the right to self-defense“, and the Harper government refused to condemn Israel’s attacks on Gaza recently at a United Nations Human Rights Council.

Canada is the only country, out of 47 others, to do so. There goes our neutral stance, and our image of being a fair arbiter of justice! This conflict should not be a religious/political issue. It’s a violation of human rights, and that’s how it should be treated.


The UN motion called “for the immediate cessation of Israeli military attacks throughout the Palestinian Occupied Territory, in particular in the Occupied Gaza Strip that have resulted, thus far, in the killing of more than 900 and the injury to more than 4000 Palestinians, including a large number of women and children, and the end to the launching of the crude rockets against Israeli civilians that resulted in the loss of 4 civilian lives and some injuries

The motion called for both parties to show restraint, yet we voted against it, which just begs the question: Why? Are we against the idea of bringing an end to the war?

It’s not like I believe Canada voting for the motion would’ve brought an end to the assault, but a vote against it surely compromises our position as a neutral party. Majority of the citizens wanted an end to the war and the massive protests all acorss Canada were a testament to it. We can’t even convince our own government through these protests, how can we  convince anyone else?


So much for democracy.

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October 6, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

War Resisters

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American soldiers that refused to take part in the Iraq war due to conscientious reasons have fled up north. These are the ‘War Resisters’. This is a similar situation to that of the 60’s and 70’s when tens of thousands of American citizens fled up here in order to avoid taking part in the Vietnam war. Our government let them stay here, and in a way that acted against the brain drain that we were facing, as a big portion of these people integrated into our system and became productive members of Canadian society.

The ‘War Resisters’ of today are facing a tough challenge. They have tried taking refuge here but Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been getting them deported back to the United States where they face a jail sentence and get a criminal record. I have attended this rally, which was held in downtown Toronto, to show my support for these war resisters. About 500 people showed up to the rally in order to urge the Canadian government to let these soldiers stay.

According to a poll conducted back in 2007, close to 70% of the Canadian population said these soldiers should be allowed to stay here. 51% of Conservative voters said the same.

Last June, the Canadian Parliament passed a motion calling on the government to immediately cease the deportations and to allow these war resisters to stay in Canada as permanent residents, but the current incumbents in Ottawa have refused to follow the demands. Prime Minister Harper is still going along with the deportations because our powerful neighbours have demanded so.

As a signatory to the Geneva Conventions, Canada has an obligation to protect these soldiers, since they’re rejecting it based on conscientious reasons. They are simply refusing to take part in an illegal war of aggression. A war that was not approved by the United Nations.

During the Nuremberg Trials, it was established that a soldier has a moral duty to disobey orders that are illegal and cruel. Thus, by deporting these soldiers, our government is not only going against the wishes of the Canadian public, but also violating International Humanitarian Law.

October 6, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Canadian Peacekeepers: From Loons to Hawks?

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The popular image of Canada as a peace-keeping nation will not last long if our government maintains the path of aiding and abetting American aggression. There will be no more cases like Adam Budzanowski’s. The man who was captured by Palestinian men in March 2006 but released unharmed and almost immediately after they saw his Canadian passport. Budzanowski said that his captors released him saying “We love Canada”.

It is surprising that Canada has maintained an image of fairness and even-handedness in the eyes of the Arab world. In 1987 Canada was regarded as second only to the US in its support for Israel in the UN, and we were also the first ones to cut aid to the democratically elected ‘Hamas’ in Palestine. Our unconditional support for Israel was reiterated by Prime Minister Stephen Harper three years ago when he refused to condemn Israel’s assault on Lebanon, and defended Israel’s bombings by saying that it was a “measured” response. This barbaric onslaught was still labeled as a “measured” response even after many innocent civilians, including 8 Canadians, were slaughtered.

Although Canada has almost always followed the US on major issues; nowhere in recent times has our support been more pronounced than with the Martin and Harper governments. Canada’s following in the footsteps of its powerful neighbour by pursuing a more militaristic agenda. Harper’s plan is to increase Canadian military spending from $13 billion in 2005 to $21.5 billion by 2010,  which is supposed to be making Canadians feel safer. However, contrary to what the current incumbents in Ottawa claim about Canada being in dire need of a military build up in order to be safe and protected, most Canadians will tell us that they feel pretty secure from outside threats. That is probably due to our status as a peacekeeping nation, so therefore countries and terrorists alike see no real reason to attack us. Most rational intellectuals would agree that the threat of a terrorist attack is higher in countries that intervene in other nations. That should be quite obvious, but it seems that our leaders need to be reminded of this simple truth.

Canada really has no sound explanation for its involvement in the war in Afghanistan. There’s no real evidence that suggests that we’re actually making a positive difference in Afghanistan. But we’re constantly bombarded by our elitist media to “support our troops in Afghanistan” which is really a foolish demand, because it makes it seem as if it was our troops that actually made a conscious decision to go to Afghanistan and fight a war, when in fact it was our government that sent them there. The media is implying that if we don’t “support our troops” then we’re ungrateful for the sacrifices they’re making. My discontent with the war in Afghanistan does not stem from my distaste for our troops (believe me, there is no such distaste), but rather due to our government’s decision to follow such an aggressive and imperialist agenda against an already impoverished nation. It has nothing to do with supporting our troops, rather everything to do with our government’s involvement in the war. So at this moment, the doctrine “Support our troops” translates to “Provide absolute support for our government’s antagonistic policies”. So no, I’m not going to get any of those t-shirts that say “Support our Troops in Afghanistan” that Don Cherry was trying to sell to the viewers during a hockey game.

Most Canadians don’t wish to partake in international aggression, but this seems to be path we’re headed towards. With this new role, Canada’s reputation as the just nation devoted to peace-keeping will be in jeopardy. Prime Minister Stephen Harper actually wanted to send our troops to Iraq as well, but fortunately he wasn’t in office at that time. He criticized the Chretien government’s refusal to go in to Iraq, but when he saw that the war was turning in to a lost cause for the Americans, he claimed he wouldn’t have sent our troops there either, and that staying out of the war was a good idea. But to appease its neighbours, who were bitter at our unwillingness to participate in the war against Iraq, Canada had to redeem itself.

In February 2004 a coalition of U.S., Canada and France invaded and ousted the Haitian president at gunpoint.

Canada has made a significant contribution to stability in Haiti,” – George W. Bush after meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in July 2006

If by ‘stability’ he meant the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide much to the discomfort of the Haitian people in 2004, then yes Canada did play a significant role. The shocking part is how much our media and politicians have undermined our role there, and the fact that no one has been held accountable for these crimes that were committed against the Haitian people. An estimated 8,000 people have died since the coup in the capital Port-Au-Prince alone. It is astonishing that our government is somehow, if not directly, responsible for these deaths. The scheme of the coup was planned in the Ottawa Haiti Initiative meeting in 2003. The excuse we used was that we have a “responsibility to protect”. It begs the question, responsibility to protect who and against what? It is obvious that this is not for the protection of the people of Haiti. Is it for the protection of Canada, the US, and France perhaps? But none of these countries were under any sort of military threat from the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. So it was our responsibility to protect the economic interests of the powerful nations that were involved in the overthrow. Aristide simply didn’t comply to western demands like a good leader ought to. So therefore his defiance had to be punished as an example to other nations.

It is our duty and moral responsibility to know the truth. In this day and age there is no excuse for ignorance, especially if you live in a wealthy nation such as Canada. It’s about time that we Canadians step out of the bliss that is ignorance and acknowledge the bitterness of truth.

Much of the research that went in to this blog came from Linda McQuaig’s new book titled ‘Holding the Bully’s Coat’. I urge all to read it.

October 6, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Out of the Rubble and Ashes in Sri Lanka

So came to an end a 26 year old war between the rebel group LTTE (Tamil Tigers) and the Sri Lankan army, or so the Sri Lankan government would like to suggest. It does seem that way, but wounds such as these do not heal so abruptly. The horror that was unfolded on the minority Tamil population by the government is something the people will not be able to forget so easily. One can only wonder when the next uprising would take place, and if history is any guide, it almost certainly will.

This latest insurgency against the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) has resulted in thousands of deaths. But if you ask the Sri Lankan government, or the general Sinhalese population of the country, they will say that it was all worth it. Truly, a moment to rejoice and a time for celebration for the majority Sinhalese population.

However, it’s disturbing to rejoice over the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent civilians. To be jubilant over the destruction of villages, towns, homes, and lives is a testament to the deep-rooted hatred that exists between the two groups. The rebel leader of the LTTE,Velupillai Prabhakaran, was killed by the military as the city celebrated the news. But now what?

Just like the phoenix; out of the rubble and the ashes of this war, the rise of another rebel movement seems imminent. I don’t think it’s hard to foresee such a scenario. A rebel movement which will, in all likelihood, comprise of the family members of the victims that were slaughtered in this latest offensive that the government had unleashed on them. There is no doubt in my mind that the survivors of this offensive would never be able to forget the horrors that they witnessed. A time for celebration for the Sinhalese population, perhaps, but a time of mourning for the Tamil mironity in Sri Lanka.

A population can only be brutally suppressed for some time. And when this suppression is successful, it is only temporary, as a new uprising will always emerge from the ashes of the previous destruction.

October 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

‘The Dragon’ Machida vs. ‘Sugar’ Rashad Evans

Evans MachidaThis Saturday is UFC 98 which will host a battle between two of perhaps UFC’s best Light Heavy Weight fighters. The challenger Lyoto Machida vs. the champion Rashad Evans.

I can’t wait for this fight. A lot of people think this is gonna be a boring main event and may not draw a huge crowd since it might not be so entertaining. I beg to differ. I think Machida’s fighting style is just great to watch. He does lots of little things during the fight that some people don’t pay attention to or don’t realize, and hence can’t appreciate. Sure, he may not be an explosive fighter, or one that goes for the knock out punch everytime, but I don’t need just that to enjoy a good technical fight. Sometimes an all out slugfest can get kinda boring, ’cause it just seems like a bar fight with two drunk idiots that are simply throwing wild punches at each other with no planning, or strategy or intelligence. Might be entertaining for a bit, but I don’t expect that from professional fighters.

Both Machida and Evans are counter strikers and intelligent fighters which will make for an epic battle between two undefeated fighters. Something’s gotta give.The Light Heavy Weight division in the UFC is surely the most stacked and the most competitive one but I think the winner of this fight will be able to hold that belt for a while.

Rashad Evans has extremely lethal punches and is really quick. Watching some of his fights, I’m beginning to think that he’s even quicker than Machida. At least his hands seem quicker, so I wouldn’t count out the possibility of Machida getting caught with one of Rashad’s quick and powerful punches. Then it comes down to how well Machida can take a punch.

That’s the dilemma… I don’t think anyone knows whether Machida has a strong chin or not. Well, that’s mainly because he hasn’t let anyone test his chin yet. He has taken very few hits and almost none that troubled him. Statistically, Machida’s taken the least amount of hits in the UFC, ever. Evans also seems to take a while before he feels comfortable enough to unleash his full fury. So I’m guessing both fighters will just be waiting for the other to strike in the first round, and round 1 might just end with very few exchanges… Machida winning that round with a few leg kicks and sweep attempts.

I have no doubt in my mind that Rashad has the power to knock out Machida… if he catches him. But seeing as how Machida is so elusive, I don’t see how Rashad’s going to get a strong punch in without Machida moving out of the way and countering it with a leg kick. Evans’ stance makes him light on his feet and quick with his hands, and therefore making him rather elusive as well, but it would be absurd to think Machida’s going to try and chase Evans. I think it will be the opposite. Evans chasing Machida and getting in a few hits and perhaps even attempting a few take-downs.

But as we’ve seen against Tito Ortiz, Machida has excellent take-down defense. I personally don’t think Rashad’s wrestling abilities will be that great of a factor in this fight, ’cause Tito Ortiz gave Evans a pretty tough time when they fought each other, which ended in a draw. But  Ortiz looked like he didn’t know what to do when he fought Machida and simply couldn’t take him down at all. Machida spoiled all of Ortiz’s take-down attempts by just shrugging him off, or by countering and taking Ortiz down instead.

I think that might be the mistake the champ is going to make. Confused as to what to do against Lyoto and his unorthodox style, Evans might end up chasing Machida after the first round or so. That would just play into Machida’s plan, and then Rashad’s just gonna get picked apart by the dragon.

So there… I say Machida’s gonna take it, I don’t know how.. submission, knock out or decision. I can obviously be wrong, but that’s just the way I see it. The only way the champ might successfully defend his belt in my opinion, is if he somehow catches Machida with a quick strong punch and knocks Machida out. I don’t know how likely that may be, so I’d pick the cerebral technique of Machida on this one. He’s just too technical and too smart of a fighter to fall for whatever Evans throws at him.

Evans’ quick punches might pose a challenge, but nothing too serious maybe. He won’t be able to take Machida down with ease, that’s for sure. But even if he does, Machida, having a black belt in BJJ, is a better ground fighter than most people think. He’ll probably counter the attempt with his own take down, and then Evans is going to have to be very careful. Evans’ ground game is gonna get tested. If I were Evans, I’d watch out for that punch and quick sweep or trip that Machida does so well to take his opponents down.

I’ll say we’re gonna have a new Light Heavy Weight champion this Saturday, and if so, Machida will be most probably be able to successfully defend his title in his first fight after becoming the champ, against ‘Rampage’ Jackson. I really don”t think a fighter like Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson would have much of a chance beating Machida. Evans has more of a chance beating Machida than Rampage in my opinion. I’d like to see someone like Griffin or Shogun Rua (if he is indeed back to his best) fight him though. Or perhaps even Anderson Silva. Now THAT would be an awesome fight.

So there, Machida takes it in my opinion. You may disagree, and you’re free to do so. Nothing I say is written in stone. My analysis may be completely wrong, or it may be correct… Whatever the case, we’re going to see a great fight. Good luck to both the fighters.

May 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Here comes the change… Oh wait… Nevermind

Like most people outside of the US, I too was rallying behind Barack Obama during the elections. It wasn’t because I believed his promises of “change” (whatever that meant), but because Senator John McCain seemed to be pushing a similar agenda as that of George W. Bush, and practically held the same ideology as the former president. But Obama, during his many speeches, did promise hope and change to the American people. Well, hope has always been there, but it’s this promise of change that seems to be a problem. Every presidential candidate promises change. I don’t know who or why anyone would promise to maintain the status quo while running for elections. It’s another issue that no president has been able to successfully live up that promise, and in that regards, President Obama is not much different from his predecessors.  Seems the only promise he has kept so far is the one he made during his election night address.

Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can imagine,You have earned the puppy that is coming with us.

And lo and behold… Enter the Portuguese water dog, Bo. A promise kept indeed!

I realize it may still be too early to be passing judgments but I can’t help myself.

A few Guantanamo prisoners say things have been worse under Obama in terms of their treatment than they had been under Bush. The Guantanamo torture cells are still up and running, the Iraq war rages on, and in fact there have been numerous drone attacks in Pakistan as well since Obama came to office, continuing the controversial tactic Bush had been using, killing more than 400 people so far. Not to mention the 1.5 percent increase in the defense budget for 2010.There are more troops in Afghanistan now, re-enforcing the belief that war IS the only answer. The notion is… Sending in more troops to kill Afghans is in fact what the Afghan people want, as paradoxical as that sounds.

Yes! We’re still on the edge of our seats waiting for this “change” that was promised. Most leaders of the world that welcomed Obama with open arms have been taken aback and are left scratching their heads wondering if it will be another 4 years of Bush policies. I, for one, am optimistic, but not blind to the realities.

But the dog… That’s a promise the American people really wanted Obama to uphold, and so he did! Let’s be honest here… Who doesn’t like puppies?

April 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Capitalism or Socialism… Hmm…

Speaking of consensus, according to a recent poll by The Rasmussen, just over half of Americans prefer Capitalism over Socialism as an economic system. This is pretty interesting. It seems that Americans are starting to lose faith in the capitalist order, and maybe closest now than ever in recent times to make a slight shift to the left.

53 percent of Americans say capitalism is better. 20 percent said they believe that socialism is the better system. I wonder what the sample size for this survey was, and the margin of error.

April 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We have a reputation to maintain

When I’m traveling outside of my country and I speak to people, they quickly hear the accent and ask “Are you Toronto, CanadaAmerican?” and I quickly respond “No I’m from Canada“. The reaction is almost always warm and welcoming then. “Great country” or “Oh I love Canada” are common responses. They quickly recognize the fact that Canada is one of the “good” countries. A country that opposes war, believes in peace-keeping, sending aid, and is a fair arbiter of justice.

We’ve built this reputation over the years. With open arms we took in thousands of Americans that opposed the Vietnam war due to conscientious reasons in the 60’s and 70’s that wanted no part in it. We have all the civil liberties and rights that Americans have (plus perhaps more) without the massive military arsenal.

We’d rather our government spend our tax dollars on universal healthcare than on building up our national muscle. We tend to (for the most part) mind our own business and take a moral and neutral stance on issues, and strongly believe in keeping peace rather than waging wars. That is Canada’s history and that’s the reputation we’ve built for ourselves. Peace-keeping has become Canada’s symbol. A neutral nation in a world of chaos. So it’s really no surprise to me when I’m greeted warmly by a foreigner when I tell him I’m Canadian.

I must confess, I do say it with a sense of pride and think to myself “Ok, now praise my country”, and that’s what usually follows… Praise.

However, I can’t help but feel that this great reputation that we have built for ourselves is in jeopardy. The current government of Canada has started building quite a notorious name for itself.

There are various reasons why this great country’s reputation can and is being tarnished under this administration in the international arena. I’m just going to mention a few recent ones that should still be fresh in our minds.

In doing so, my aim is make the general Canadian public realize what we were and what we are today, and where we’re headed.  This is not the Canadian Identity.

Recent actions (or inaction) from the minority conservative government that should make us sit up and re-think…

(1) Refusal to take part in the recent UN conference on Racism in Geneva.

(2) Banning British MP George Galloway from speaking and entering Canada. An outright attack on our civil liberties. Even the US allows Galloway to travel and speak freely within, and in the UK Mr. Galloway serves as an MP.

(3) Refusal to let the Iraq war resisters stay in Canada. US troops that were opposed to Iraq war due to conscientious reasons fled up here to escape a jail sentence in the US, and Mr. Harper is having them deported back to the US where they face not only persecution but a jail sentence along with a criminal record. This runs completely contrary to how we had acted in the 60’s and 70’s when we let the Vietnam war resisters stay. The Canadian House of Commons passed a motion recently, urging the minority conservative government of Stephen Harper to immediately cease these deportations and to allow these war resisters to stay. 64% of Canadians want the war resisters to be allowed to stay. These deportations are undemocratic. Take Action…

(4) Refusal to seek extradition or repatriation of Canadian Omar Khadr, who has been held in Guantanamo for the past 6 years. Despite Amnesty International, UNICEF, and many other renowned organizations’ pleas for repatriation, the Harper government has maintained its stance and been completely passive on the issue. Earlier this month, the Federal Court of Canada has ruled that it is obligatory for the government to immediately demand Khadr’s return under Internation Law.

(5) Refusal to condemn Israel’s military attack on Gaza. Canada was the only nation, out of 47 on the United Nations human rights panel that refused to condemn Israel’s assault on Gaza earlier this year which resulted 1,400 deaths and even more injuries. Canada opposed the motion which called for both sides to show restraint and that investigation into human rights violations by Israeli forces be followed. Canada has mostly sided with Israel and the US on the Israel/Palestine conflict, but this support has become even more pronounced under the Harper government.

Seeing as how Canada in the past has acted to protect civilians in conflict zones, it is quite shocking that we refused to call for an immediate ceasefire this time around when 900 people (at that time) had been killed and the battle was still waging on.

I think that’s all for now… This list is by no means exhaustive.

But my point was that this current government is beginning to push Canada to act more like a bully than the peace-loving, fair-minded, neutral country that we have been and ought to be.

It is time for Canada to step out of this imperialist shadow and once again lead the world and regain our title as the peace-keepers! If not for us, then at least have sympathy for the poor American that’s living or traveling abroad and tells people he is Canadian in order to avoid persecution when confronted about his nationality. Are we going to take that away from him too?

April 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment