A re-elected Harper government would crack down on dual citizens originally from Beringia, sources are saying.

The sources say Harper and his advisors consider many Beringians to be a threat to Canada or at least to Harper’s vision of Canada.

According to Statistics Canada there were at least 1,400,685  residents of Beringian origin in Canada at the time of the 2011 census. Almost all those of Beriginan origin were born in Canada and are Canadian citizens by birth.

Beringians are among the fastest growing demographic group in the country.

“We know Beringians have been following well established human smuggling routes for millenia,” a source close to the Harper government said. “But like most migrants there is no immediate fear of persecution in their region of origin.”

Some of those characterized by Harper and his government as “Beringians” are disputing the claim, saying they have been in Canada “from time immemorial.”

A reconstruction said to represent the notorious human smuggler known as "Kennewick." If spotted call 911 or Crimestoppers.

A reconstruction said to represent the notorious human smuggler known as “Kennewick.” If spotted call 911 or Crimestoppers.

The source said the Harper government has ordered both the RCMP and CSIS to search for two alleged kingpins of the human smuggling operation known by the names “Clovis” and “Kennewick.” Investigations have indicated that one of the human smuggling rings may be headquartered in the Folsom, California area.

Another smuggling route is along the rugged coast of British Columbia where the many fjords and islands are a perfect landing spot for “boat people from Beringia seeking a better economy,” according to a Conservative Party source. Bluefish Cave in the Yukon is known to be a hiding place for the illegal migrants for Beringia, the source says.

The sources say that anyone of Beringian origin convicted of a terrorist or any other anti-government activity would, after serving time in prison, would be stripped of their citizenship and deported back to Beringia.

Map showing the human migration Isome say smuggling) rout between Ber and Canada)

Map showing the human migration, some say smuggling, routes between Beringia and Canada.

“People like Beringians have no respect for Canadian values,” a source in Citizenship and Immigration observes. “Many consider themselves separate nations here, something which is offensive to old stock Canadians.”

Asked just how the government would deport tens of thousands of Beringians to their ancestral homeland, the CIS source said, “We’re hiring Donald Trump as a consultant, he is an expert on these issues.”

When it was pointed out what was once Beringia is part of the old Soviet Union and now Russia, one of the sources said, “Well that will be Vladimir Putin’s problem, not ours and it’s a good way to keep him busy.”

( Just so there’s no misunderstanding the era of social media. This is satire folks)

Marmite

Updates with CFIA statement saying Marmite not banned

Marmite

My jar of Marmite showing the ingredients

When I was a little kid my father insisted—yes insisted—that I eat my Marmite.

This morning I woke up to the news that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has apparently banned Marmite, a yeast extract spread, in this country, along with some other British “comfort foods.”

(After 48 hours of world wide news coverage CFIA issued a statement–below–saying Marmite is not banned. There are however, questions remaining, and it’s a fun story)

The news is hot enough for the British media, from the tabs to the respected national broadsheets to the BBC, to relegate Justin Beiber to the back pages (now that he’s out of jail) and collectively express their amazement that this country would not only have a drunken, crack-smoking mayor for its largest city but that Canada would actually ban something most people in the world consider not just a comfort food but healthy.

According to media reports, the CFIA doesn’t like Marmite because it may—repeat may– be illegally enriched with vitamins and minerals, even though the label doesn’t say that.

So why did my father insist that I eat Marmite? Why did he say it kept him alive? My father was a prisoner of war on the Burma Thailand Railway, where allied prisoners, starved by the Japanese were forced as slave labourers to build the infamous “Railway of Death.” (The story made famous for an older generation in the Oscar winning movie Bridge on the River Kwai and chronicled in my book A River Kwai Story: The Sonkrai Tribunal).

The Japanese kept the slave labourers, both POWs and local forced labour on a minimal starvation diet. One of the problems was that the Japanese served polished rice which, in combination with the lack of other food, created a Vitamin B deficiency. Polishing removes the outer husk of a grain of rice and it is that outer husk that is rich in vitamins. That Vitamin B deficiency causes a disease known as beriberi.

As Wikipedia says:

Symptoms of beriberi include weight loss, emotional disturbances, impaired sensory perception, weakness and pain in the limbs, and periods of irregular heart rate. Edema (swelling of bodily tissues) is common. It may increase the amount of lactic acid and pyruvic acid within the blood. In advanced cases, the disease may cause high output cardiac failure and death.

Today beriberi is rare, found usually where people have been displaced by war or natural disaster and have no or little access to proper nutrition. In even rarer circumstances people with HIV/AIDS or eating disorders may show symptoms of beriberi.

The POWs desperately needed a source of Vitamin B and luckily, at least at the beginning of their imprisonment in Singapore, the city had large stocks of Marmite, which were recovered from warehouses in the city and stored, then rationed to the prisoners.

Marmite is a yeast extract, a healthy by product of brewing beer and thus is very rich in Vitamin B.

Unless there’s a problem with the ingredient label in Canada, the British  Marmite label says it is “100 per cent vegetarian”  (that line is excluded in Canada so the French can be put on the front)

Marmite label

UK label for Marmite says it is 100% vegetarian.

Daily Telegraph Canada bans sale of Irn Bru, Marmite and Ovaltine

BBC Canada orders Briton to stop selling Marmite and Irn Bru

Daily Mail  We hate it! Canadian food inspectors ban MARMITE for ‘unapproved ingredients’ along with Ovaltine, Irn-Bru and Lucozade

Globe and Mail Marmite crackdown in Canada has Britons outraged

According to most media reports, the CFIA intercepted a shipment bound for Brit Foods in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, then local food safety officials raided the store and removed the offending items from the shelves.

The other items banned are all favourites in Britain including Ovaltine, Bovril, Lucozade and Penguin bars.

Bill Hotchkiss, owner of Mrs. Bridges’ British Bakery in Toronto, told CTV News that the crackdown is going even further.

Hotchkiss has been operating his store for 20 years, but says crackdowns in the last five years have made it hard to keep his small business afloat.
The problem, he says, is that CFIA rules on imported products are constantly changing, and shop owners aren’t made aware of changes on restricted ingredients.

Hotchkiss says products that contain certain food colouring have been barred, but he says he has been most affected by crackdowns on fish products. Customer favourites such as fish paste, salmon spread and pressed cod, which were sold in his store for about 10 years, have recently been taken off the shelves because they don’t meet CFIA regulatory requirements.

The CFIA, of course, is the same agency that considered listeria and other problems in Canadian meat a public relations problem rather than a food safety problem.

It also appears that CFIA is aiming at those who have few resources to fight back like British specialty stores.  I get my Marmite at Overwaitea, owned by entrepreneur Jimmy Pattison. So far no reports of the CFIA taking Marmite off the shelves of the big supermarkets.

What about Vegemite?

There are no reports of the CFIA cracking down on the Australian version of Marmite, called Vegemite, created by the Aussies in the First World War when they couldn’t get Marmite. Australians are weaned on Vegemite, every Aussie friend I have is addicted to Vegemite. When I was living in London in the early 1980s New South Wales House had a huge display of Vegemite in its window.

Warning to Stephen Harper, if the CFIA continues with this ridiculous crackdown and extends the Marmite ban to Vegemite, it is highly likely that Australia will break off diplomatic relations (at the very least).


It took 48 hours of world wide coverage for the vaunted Stephen Harper media machine to wake up and realize the world was paying attention to this story while was gazing at the ruins of Petra.

CFIA Statement on Rejected Shipment of Products from the UK

Irn Bru and Marmite are not banned for sale in Canada. These products have been available on Canadian store shelves for more than a decade and will continue to be sold in stores across Canada.

Recently, a shipment containing a number of products imported from the UK was detained in the course of regular border activities because it contained meat products that were not accompanied by the required documentation.

Appropriate certification of meat products is required to assure food safety and protect animal health in Canada.

The CFIA determined that the rejected shipment also included other products, including Irn Bru (drink) and Marmite (a yeast-based spread).

Imported products, including Irn Bru and Marmite, that meet Canadian requirements under Canada’s Food and Drug Regulations are and will continue to be available for sale in Canada.

The CFIA will work with the food seller to ensure they are accessing the correct products, destined for Canadian markets.

Food safety remains a top priority for the Government of Canada, and is the primary focus of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) food inspection action.

 

 

A quarter century ago, the US State Department had its own
analog, paper-based Wiki that covered almost every diplomatic dispatch going
back centuries, millions of three by five inch index cards. And that tells a story  more complicated than the current Wikileaks data dump.

My story for CBC News Online

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238-kitimatremembrance2010.jpgSnow began falling in Kitimat, BC, for the first time this winter, at about 9 in the morning Pacific Time. and by the time the residents gathered 90 minutes later for the Remembrance Day ceremony at the cenotaph, it was still snowing. A photo gallery of a small town Remembrance ceremony.  In Kitimat, children lay the wreathes for those who cannot attend, which is why I call this image, Passing the Torch.

Slideshow  of the Remembrance Day ceremony in Kitimat.

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This morning’s Globe and Mail has a real investigative scoop, but apparently they don’t realize it.

As most Canadians know by now the government wants to make the census
long form voluntary rather than mandatory, which everyone who has any
expertise in statistics knows, will destroy the validity of the survey. 
The head of Statistics Canada,Munir Sheikh, has now resigned rather than implement the decree
from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Industry Minister Tony Clement.

In an editorial this morning (July 22) the Globe notes that:

And in recent days, the rhetoric has become baffling: the government has
invoked the fact that a tiny mischievous minority list “Jedi Knight” as
their religion as a reason to get rid of the questionnaire.

160-Palpatine-thumb-200x216-159.jpgAs the millions of people who have seen the Star Wars movies know, that when former Senator, now Chancellor (the equivalent of the  Prime Minister in the galactic republic) Palpatine does when he is ready to seize absolute power is to wipe out the Jedi (the guardians of freedom and the light side of the Force)  from the toddler younglings all the way up to the Jedi Council. As we all know, Palaptine succeeds in destroying almost all the Jedi, and then becomes the dictatorial emperor of that galaxy far, far away.

Some columnists and commentators have said that Harper and Clement are embracing American style Tea Party politics, extreme libertarianism where no one supports the maintenance of society.  

Now thanks to the Globe’s scoop, we know the future is much more  ominous.

Ottawa columnists have said that Harper is the unfriendly dictator, with his whims and short term political tactics governing his decisions. Some commentators have said that Harper is a king, especially when it comes to the rule of law where Harper personally decides whether or not the law applies to certain individuals.

163-Dooku-thumb-150x122-162.jpgNow it appears that if there are no Jedi in Canada (at least on paper or in a StatsCan database), Harper will be free to declare himself Emperor, with Count Dooku Clement by his side. (And since the Liberal Party, the supposed loyal opposition, is in as much disarray as the opposition in the galactic republic was, the Jedi may be Canada’s only chance.  Is there a Luke Skywalker somewhere in the dry land country of south central  British Columbia?).

We have to keep our fingers crossed for a new hope.

Now to get serious for a moment.  That reference to the Jedi in the last census actually proves the value of the long form.  Fewer and fewer people in Canada believe in traditional religion. Canadians are interested in various forms of spirituality, and the George Lucas Star War’s concept of The Force is one way of expressing that spirituality. So if someone in Canada believes in a spirituality that say blends The Force, aboriginal spirituality and traditional monotheism, there is no little box to check that says part of a, part of c and part of e.   Calling oneself a Jedi Knight maybe be mischievous for some, but for others it is an accurate reflection of their beliefs.

That amorphous spirituality is another inconvenient truth among many that the Conservatives want to bury (especially those who are Christian fundamentalists). 

 

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Here in Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has twice prorogued parliament to avoid  political challenges, first the threat of a coalition of the three opposition parties and second a rather unsuccessful attempt to avoid nasty questions about the treatment of Afghan detainees.

When Harper porogued  parliament, all the government bills on the order paper died and had to be reintroduced in the new session of Parliament. In Canadian democracy, federal or provincial, the same thing happens when the prime minister (or premier) goes to the governor general (or lieutenant governor) to “drop the writ” and call an election.

The outrage among Canadians at Harper’s tactics was loud and clear and many, even some Conservative supporters, consider the second proroguation an affront to democracy.

But there’s a silver lining to all that…… in our nuanced world, nothing is ever black and white.

If a government is facing the electorate,  the death of those bills is a key element in democracy, any bills should be stopped until a new parliament can consider them.

Not apparently at the Mother of Parliaments, at Westminster, where there is what my friends in the UK call the “mash-up.” The actual  political term is apparently “wash-up.” That means after the election is called, the not-so-honourable members get to push through bills at the last minute. “Mash-up” is certainly a more appropriate term.

Based on my Canadian experience, I was rather surprised at the blogs, tweets and Facebook entries from the United Kingdom that said the controversial digital economy bill was still alive and to be voted on in Parliament, even after Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited the Queen to ask for the disolution of Parliament for an election.

92-commons_floor-460.png

In the wee small hours, Friday, Apr. 9, 2010, with only a few members in the  House, the highly controversial Digital Economy  as reported by The Guardian: Digital economy bill rushed through wash-up in late night
session

The government forced through the controversial digital economy
bill
with the aid of the Conservative party last night, attaining a
crucial third reading – which means it will get royal assent and become
law – after just two hours of debate in the Commons.

The bill claims to promote the “digital economy” by what some say are draconian copyright provisions. As a creator and writer, I am very much in favour of copyright and copyright enforcement. This UK law (or will be law as soon as the Queen signs it) is largely the creature of the giant media companies and follows their agenda. There are even fears that the bill could lead the UK to block Google and sites like Wikileaks..

So the law is not a step forward to protect creators but a step by the media corporations to protect their empires. The only outcome will be more income from media lawyers, bureaucrats and whatever copyright police come into existence, rather than a real attempt to create a 21st century copyright framework.

Also according to The Guardian, the outraged digital community in the UK are now going take a very active part in the coming election and lists of MPs who voted for the bill, voted against the bill and just didn’t show up are already available on blogs.
See the Guardian’s: General election 2010 Digital economy bill backlash dominates e-election debate

When Harper porogued  parliament,  Canadians expressed their outrage on a Facebook group “Canadians Against Poroquing Parliament” which as of this moment has 220,664 members.

The Conservatives who appear on shows like the CBC’s Power and Politics,  routinely dismiss the Facebook group as meaningless. (They were saying that it was meaningless with the first 80,000 in the day after the FB group was created and still say so). But there is no election on the Canadian horizon.

So the UK election will be a big test of how engaged and energetic  the digital generation will be (that is if they have someone to actually to vote for since MPs from all three parties, Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat supported the monstrosity.)

Canada does need an up-to-date copyright law that respects the real creators of content in the 21st digital ecosystem. So far, no new law is on the horizon here, likely because of the minority government.

Although the Conservative government (and the Liberals before them) pull all kinds of parliamentary tricks, which each time they are used, take politicians to a new low, Canadians can be thankful that the great election mash up doesn’t happen here. *Yet.*

Note Until March 31, when I took early retirement, I worked for CBC News.