November 30, 2004

All (pretty) quiet on the northern front.

For having the most powerful person in the world in Ottawa today, the city appears to have functioned reasonably normally. I walked by the Parliament in the morning and, contrary to what the media might have had you believe, it was not Fortress Parliament. You could still walk up on The Hill. There was essentially no sign of protesters at 8:20 a.m. or so, although they apparently grew in numbers later in the day (to 5,000-13,000) and had some "scuffles" with the police. Although I missed the mid-day action owing to my presence in Gatineau (my federal government includes Québec!), second-hand reports and the news seem to suggest that things never got too, too hairy. As the Globe and Mail put it, "As outraged protest goes, it was a very Canadian affair." Right.

Of course, the night is still young. All hell could break loose when they serve a prime cut of vache folle at the dinner with the President tonight. ;)

On a vaguely related note, Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge announced his resignation today. The timing is odd. I would have thought there would be some sort of protocol against announcing that you're quitting the Cabinet while the President is out of the country. Unless, of course, it was done on purpose. I smell a vast, bi-partisan conspiracy. ;) As some wording in the New York Times suggests, Secretary Ridge leaves behind a "colourful" if somewhat disputed legacy:

"Mr. Ridge, best known to the public as the official who announced changes to the color-coded terrorism alert system, was the seventh member of President Bush's cabinet to announce his resignation since Election Day in a thorough reshaping of the administration in preparation for Mr. Bush's second term.[...] He was sometimes mocked for installing and, in the view of his detractors, mismanaging the color-coded terrorist alert system. That system became the butt of late-night comedy routines and sometimes seemed to leave the public more confused than reassured."

Ridge presided over the largest federal reorganization since the formation of the Department of Defense, and the U.S. has not come under attack -- in the homeland -- during his tenure. Still, critics have a lot more than just the terror alert system to take aim at -- from continued bureaucratic turf wars to underfunded security measures to persistent security gaps. Either way, for levity, good timing by The Onion with this week's lead article.

Back to Ottawa, I took my camera with me in the morning and snapped a few pictures of the Parliament and from my office in Gatineau.

Posted by anatole at November 30, 2004 07:17 PM

Iraq's color-coded system is much more accurate.

Posted by: Mike Hoye at December 1, 2004 09:01 AM