Wednesday, August 30, 2006

US Media's Priorities Out of Whack . . .

Most people I associate with have been thoroughly disgusted over the past couple of weeks regarding the national media's obsession with a story about the murder - ten years ago - of a single child. (Never mind the fact that there are thousands of children losing their lives in a senseless war or starving to death around the world on a daily basis.)

This article by Jeff Cohen is a great explanation of the situation and why today's press coverage is so pathetic. It's an explanation, but I'm afraid it won't make you feel any better about the situation. There a lot of priorities in this country that need adjustment . . . .

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Couldn't Have Said It Better . . . .

With today being the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina coming ashore on the Gulf Coast I was trying to come up with appropriate comments. Then I read Tom's post on "Canadian Hope" and decided I could not have said it any better.

"drf" and I especially agree with Tom's comments regarding Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, a personal favorite of ours.

Check out Tom's post . . .

Friday, August 25, 2006

Multicoloured Vancouver

Since JoJo Dog and I are not able to be with "drf" in Vancouver, we got a little "homesick" and put this 4 minute video together.

(Click the > button in the lower left to play. Includes audio)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Positive Sign

This story on today sounds good to us:

Bloc opts for united front against reopening same-sex marriage debate

Sylvain Larocque
Canadian Press

Thursday, August 24, 2006

ORFORD, Que. (CP) - The Bloc Quebecois has opted to present a united front against the reopening of the same-sex marriage debate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe put the matter to a vote at a party caucus meeting and asked members to respect the party line, Bloc MP Real Menard said in an interview Thursday.

The Bloc plans to oppose any attempts by the Conservatives to revisit the issue when Parliament returns in the fall. Five Bloc members voted against the redifinition of marriage last summer and Menard said he does not believe they have changed their minds on the issue.

"It is simply believed that the debate has taken place and it is not relevant to start it again," he said.

The New Democratic Party made support of same-sex marriage a party position and as a result its 29 MPs will vote against any motion to reopen the debate.

The Liberal caucus, meeting this week in Vancouver, has not considered the issue.

During the last federal election campaign, Harper promised to hold a free vote on the definition of marriage but hasn't pushed it since the Tories took power.

Menard cited the voting record of the previous Canadian Alliance and Reform Party, which merged to become the Conservative party, and said they generally voted against gay and lesbian rights.

"I think it is necessary to make the public understand the government is homophobic," Menard said.

"When, since 1993, you vote each time you can against gay rights, I think it should be concluded that they (the Conservatives) are homophobic," Menard said.

"If the Bloc had voted nine times against women, natives or any other specific groups in the country, I think the necessary conclusions would have been drawn."

Menard predicted any homophobia on the Conservatives part will hurt them in Quebec where gay rights are generally supported.

An Environics poll released in May indicated that 62 per cent of Canadians do not want to see the debate on same-sex marriage revived.

© The Canadian Press 2006

Jo's Certified Canadian!

Our online friend of The Canadian Way received her Canadian citizenship yesterday in Nova Scotia. It's great to see other people who have emigrated from the US get their Canadian citizenship after jumping through all of the hoops involved.

At the ceremony there were:



And, as Jo says: "Now that's cultural diversity!"

To commemorate the occasion, JoJo and I flew the Maple Leaf over our dock here in Florida.

Here's the official photo of one of the newest Canadian Citizens
(Complete with an RCMP "Mountie")
Congratulations, Jo - You've earned it!!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Delayed Return . . .

"drf" was due to return to the States Thursday from Vancouver . . . . . Alas, it is not to be. Nothing's wrong: No strike of security guards at YVR Airport, no elevated security threat (Unlike the day I returned!), no weather-related issues . . . .

He was able to delay his return by one week by paying a $50(US) change fee on his Delta ticket. No-brainer decision: "Let's see, shall I stay in 65 degree (F) Vancouver or return to 95 degree (F) Florida???? Hmmmmmmmmm . . . . . . . )

So, it's the JoJo Dog and me here wishing we were up there, too!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Question . . . .

I posed a question to L-girl of "We Move to Canada", re: Do you know of any immigrant-applicants from the US that have been denied PR status in Canada? (Since Laura is the "Grande Dame" of the US-to-Canada immigrant community I thought she of all people would be aware of any instances of this situation.)

L-girl replied: "So far I have not heard of anyone who applied to emigrate to Canada who has not been accepted. I heard from a few people who were not accepted before the passmark was lowered. After that change, they applied again and got in."

Does anyone in the blogosphere have any stories of persons denied PR status? Please share if you do . . . . (I hope no one does, actually.)

Friday, August 18, 2006

Great Picture

This pic is "borrowed" from the guys over at Canadian Hope blog . . . Beautiful, isn't it?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

At last, a good court decision!!

Federal Judge Orders Halt to NSA Wiretapping

By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 17, 2006; 2:42 PM

A federal judge in Detroit ordered a halt to the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program, ruling for the first time that the controversial effort ordered by President Bush was unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor wrote in a strongly-worded 43-page opinion that the NSA wiretapping program violates privacy and free-speech rights and the constitutional separation of powers between the three branches of government. She also found that it violates a 1978 law set up to oversee clandestine surveillance.

The Justice Department said that it was appealing the decision and that the parties to the lawsuit had agreed to delay the judge's order until the appeal could be heard.

Ruling in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups, Taylor, 73, wrote that "public interest is clear, in this matter. It is the upholding of the Constitution. . . . "

"It was never the intent of the framers to give the president such unfettered control, particularly where his actions blatantly disregard the parameters clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights," she wrote. " . . . There are no hereditary Kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution. So all 'inherent powers' must derive from that Constitution."

The ruling marks a significant setback for the Bush administration, which has aggressively defended the legality of the NSA program since its existence was first revealed in press reports last December. Dubbing it the "terrorist surveillance program," officials have said the effort allows the NSA to monitor telephone calls and e-mails to and from the United States without warrants when one party is suspected of ties to al-Qaeda.

The decision could also have an impact on Congress, which has for months been debating whether to limit or endorse the NSA program through legislation.

The Justice Department argued in court that the program is well within Bush's authority as president, but said proving it would require revealing state secrets. The ACLU argued that many details about the program had already been revealed by Bush and other government officials, and Taylor, who was appointed to the bench by President Jimmy Carter, agreed.

"Today's ruling is a landmark victory against the abuse of power that has become the hallmark of the Bush administration," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. "Government spying on innocent Americans without any kind of warrant and without congressional approval runs counter to the very foundations of our democracy."

He called the ruling "yet another nail in the coffin of the Bush administration's strategy in the war on terror. . . . The judge very clearly points out that this, at its core, is about presidential powers." © 2006 The Washington Post Company

Perhaps there is still hope??

Good Description of the US/Canada Difference

Found this comment on a post by "Jen" on the Idealistic Pragmatist blog and thought you would enjoy:

Overall, I think that the differences between Canada and the U.S. can be summed up like this: that the U.S. world-view seems to be more black and white, whereas Canada, thankfully, sees more shades of gray.

I like that . . . .

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"Where's Stephen?" becoming a pattern?

Perhaps if the PM continues making blunders such as this his time in office will be minimal . . . Let's hope so.

PM a no-show at conference

CanWest News Service

TORONTO — Prime Minster Stephen Harper’s decision not to attend the International AIDS Conference appears to have had more than just a symbolic impact.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was to headline the meeting’s opening ceremonies as a representative of Africa — the continent hardest hit by the pandemic. But she cancelled after learning that Canada’s prime minister would not be there to officially greet her, conference organizers said.
“Her non attendance is really a direct consequence of Mr. Harper not being here,” said Dr. Mark Wainberg, head of the McGill University Centre for AIDS and the conference co-chair.
“I think, honestly, that he made a political mistake by not coming here to be with us.”
The conference was “elated” when President Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first female head of state and a representative of the AIDSravaged sub-Saharan region, agreed to attend.
But her office later withdrew, indicating that she would not come to a foreign country if the head of government would not be there to meet with her.
Wainberg said he believes Harper was afraid of being booed over his opposition to same-sex marriage by the gay-friendly AIDS research and activist community.
“Mr. Harper, for better or for worse, is perceived as being a right-wing fellow who is not a mainstream politician,” he said.
“This would have been a great chance for him to come and soften that image. This may be a political opportunity lost.”

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Back Home in Florida . . .

Well, I'm back here in the hot and humid Florida panhandle and wishing I was back with "drf" in the West End of Vancouver . . . . . We talk a couple of times daily and he is still enjoying the pleasant, cooler temperatures of our future home. Living where we are now in the late summer and early fall is unpleasant - and that's without an active hurricane threatening your door. That event just adds additional stress to an already uncomfortable situation . . . . . We've already been through that more than a few times in our five years of living here.

The last evening in Vancouver was spent at our next door neighbor's ("G") having a wonderful dinner she prepared. Also in attendance were our friend ("K") and another new friend ("K") all from our building. The food, company and conversation was all wonderful. Both "K"'s are Ex-Pats from the States who have lived in Vancouver since the 90's and thoroughly understand our desire to relocate there. We have many photos of the evening, but for the sake of web-anonymity will not post here . . . . They have been shared with everyone and will remain in our "memory box". Here is a photo of that night's sunset over English Bay from her window, however:

I was fortunate (??!??) enough to have the opportunity to fly internationally on the first day of the new security measures instituted at all the airports. I left our small strata at an hour so early I didn't check the news and was totally unaware of what was going on. After disposing of my toothpaste - as I was not keen on checking any bags with a very tight connection in Houston - I opted to retain my other "products" (As the "Queer Eye" guys would call them) and made it though the screening process intact. All of the Vancouver-based personnel were as cordial as possible under the circumstances and I was fortunate enough to get a US Customs Agent who was not the usual surly type. Alas, as I was boarding the plane there was another two-person security check prior to boarding the plane. Needless to say my "products" are now probably adorning some homeless person - at least I hope that's where they ended up.

Many calls and emails that evening from friends and family who were aware of my flying that day and were concerned if I made it home on time or at all . . . Nice to feel their concern, but all was well and I made each flight, if by only moments in the last case.

Got up early the next day and retrieved our little girl for the ride home - only barked at one squirrel, so she was on her best behavior. (It seems like that is the case after her being away from home for a while - Like all of us it seems she likes her own surroundings best - can't wait 'til her surroundings are in Vancouver!)

The past few days have been consisting of basic chores: Mowing the lawn, cleaning the house, filling bird baths and feeders, etc. Not anything exciting, but they have to be done . . . .

Now I am eagerly awaiting spending US Thanksgiving in Vancouver . . . . Looking forward to it, as you can imagine.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Vancouver Farewell?

Today we saw what appeared to be the Canadian Snowbird contingent for the International Air Show being held this weekend buzzing the city skyline . . . . I suggested they were probably just wishing me a "goodbye" for this trip to Vancouver as I leave in the morning. ("drf" was skeptical of my analysis of the event . . . . .)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

They're In!!!

Mason and Nick are In!!!

Congratulations, Guys!! (The following is from their blog.)

Welcome to Canada

We got a letter from Seattle in the mail today, and I immediately dropped everything and drove over to Mason's job. I walked into his office and we opened the manila envelope together...

This concerns your application for permanent residence in Canada. The processing of your application is complete. We require valid passports for you and your spouse before we can issue your permanent residence visa(s)...

We're in, and I'm speechless.
Posted by Nikolas

Here's their Timeline for all of those interested . . . .

Application Submitted: 02-14-2005
Application placed in queue: 03-21-2005
Transferred to Seattle Consulate: 02-09-2006
Initial Assessment Complete/Request for Additional Info: 03-07-2006
Medical Examinations: 03-13-2006
FBI Clearances Received: 04-07-2006/04-20-2006
Second Round of Documents to CIC-Seattle: 04-20-2006
Request from CIC-MSB in Ottawa for further medical: 05-12-2006
Application approved (WE'RE IN!), Requests for passports: 08-07-2006

Monday, August 07, 2006

Footnote to Gay Pride in Vancouver

Here's another answer to the "Where's Stephen??" queerie (sp) . . . .

SENATOR GERRY ST. GERMAIN had 1,200 members of the B.C. Conservative caucus over for a barbecue at his and wife Margaret’s 28-hectare south Surrey ranch recently. (To be accurate, it was the same day as the Gay Pride Parade.)
That’s a bigger crowd than the annual beano drew when Jean Chretien and Paul Martin’s governments occupied Ottawa. It was doubtless swelled by fulfilled rumours that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and wife Laureen would mingle with guests after being whisked past some three-dozen protesters at the ranch’s gates.
The latter disregarded Grit-turned-Tory Trade Minister David Emerson, who escorted wife Theresa, to focus on alleged Canadian government support of Israel’s fight against Hezbollah terrorists. Few heard the plaints, though, as amplified country artist Kenny Hess performed songs from his Where Love Leads album.
Partisan attendees clapped at Harper’s promise to rebuild the “overtasked and under-equipped” Canadian Armed Forces. Applause for tougher criminal legislation, especially regarding sexual predators, increased when Harper addressed his government’s approach to family funding with: “We believe the real child-care experts in this country are called mom and dad.”
Host St. Germain, who was appointed to the senate hours before Tory Prime Minister Brian Mulroney left office, beamed throughout. He kept it up even when Harper said he hoped to reduce senatorial terms in office “from 45 years to eight years.”
That would still be a longer kick at the can than the affair’s other attendees — 600 chickens — got.

Don't think those views would have been too well received at the parade, thank goodness!

Gay Pride in Vancouver

Last week was Gay Pride in Vancouver - Perfect weather all week for the festivities! The week's activities culminated in the parade through the West End neighbourhood. The event is the largest parade held in Vancouver with about 200,000 spectators, 140 different groups marching and lasting 2 hours. Great fun for everyone.

A special treat for us was getting to meet and spend time with Daniel and Alan of "Would Be Canadians" blog. We saw the final night and finale of the HSBC Celebration of Light fireworks on Saturday evening together. On Sunday we watched the parade, walked around the West End and had lunch. Great to get to know these guys and share information on the immigration process . . . . .

Some other shots follow . . . . . .

Stilt-walkers including one with a hoop skirt . . . .

How do they do that??

National NDP Leader Jack Layton made an appearance . . . . . Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in the metro Vancouver area the same day but was not in attendance . . . . What a surprise, eh?

Liberal MP H
edy Frye was also marching . . . .

Where's Stephen??

Oh, there's Stephen!! He's on the puppet strings that "w" is holding . . . . How appropriate!!

Guess we'd better keep an eye on this to avoid any
future problems, huh???

(Sign reads: "Queer Eye on the Stupid Guy"
with a picture of "w" ((which stands for "wrong")) )


The local guys and their SuperSoaker water guns valiantly attempted to hold off the Vancouver Fire Department's pumper truck . . . . Alas, the professionals appeared to win this contest . . . . . . . .

Sunday, August 06, 2006

And the Winner Is:

Mexico had the honor of putting on the final fireworks exposition and was awarded the coveted "Best of Show" for the 2006 HSBC Celebration of Lights world fireworks competition.

We had the pleasure of sharing this show with Daniel and Alan of Would Be Canadians blog . . . . We all enjoyed the experience in our future home!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Fireworks Follow Up

The Czech Republic had their opportunity to "wow" the judges on the third evening of the HSBC Celebration of Lights fireworks competition. Theirs was a great show with excellent choreography to the music . . . . .