Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Year End Feelings

This goes out to Mr. Harper and 2009 in general.

If you are easily offended by swearing, don't start the vid.

It's not new of course, but it sums things up rather well.


Happy New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!


And to those who do not celebrate, may your holidays bring you joy!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Take the Time to Look at Facts

If there is one thing this government is good at, it's spin. They are masters at changing the channel, making what is appear as if it is not, and vilifying people for the sake of saving their own skin.

With Colvin's letter today, we gain yet more information that clearly points to the government's transgressions and their response tells us they are trying to make this issue go away.

In his letter, Colvin highlights six reports sent to Ottawa in 2006, including one he said noted that "torture is rife" in Afghan jails.

"The report used the word 'torture' repeatedly," Colvin wrote.
Colvin writes that during a meeting in March 2007 with 12 to 15 officials in Ottawa, he informed them that the Afghan intelligence service "tortures people, that's what they do, and if we don't want our detainees tortured, we shouldn't give them to the [Afghans]."


There is much to read in the letter and I will confess that my day has not allowed me to read it in depth. So I will only provide an impression of what I saw transpire today.

Colvin rebutted, with force, everything that the government and some in the military have thrown at him. It was the right thing to do and tells me just how committed this man is to seeing the truth come to light and his commitment to Canada's reputation.

Because that's what this is all about isn't it? Our good reputation in the world and the passing on of our values? Well, to hear the Conservatives speak on the subject, they seem to think that if you are seen as a mighty fighting force, the rest of our mandate be damned. Laurie Hawn once again tonight (re-run tape I think) thought the whole thing about a prisoner being beaten with a shoe was a big joke. It was basically, who cares?

I honestly believe at the core of all of this is that mentality. The whole 'scumbag' rationale had to permeate and likely was embraced with ardour by O'Connor and the rest of caucus and frankly, it sickens me to write that.

So, tomorrow I will comb the document and hopefully have more to put down than impressions.

One last thing. Last night, Laurie Hawn was on two political shows. On both shows he claimed that he had contacted Lib MP Bryon Wilfert and offered to have a tele-conference instead of a meeting in Ottawa. Today I heard Wilfert say that he was never e-mailed on this. In fact, the chair of the committee, (a Conservative) actually sent out notice that the meeting would convene.

In as much as I think the media is doing a good job at keeping this story current, I think they are missing those kind of details. Details that clearly show the government lying. Not comfortable to deal with I'm sure, but necessary for Canadians to know.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Disdain


If ever a photo summed up what is clearly Harper's attitude toward this country, our parliament and other institutions, this would be it, right down to his expression.
Today, the government simply decided not to show up at the Afghanistan Special Committee. How's that for respecting the will of Parliament and the will of the Committee?
This behaviour has no place in a democracy, but I guess we also know what the Harper government thinks of that quaint notion don't we.
Another example is what we learned at Copenhagen today. You know of course how Prentice and Harper and others all quote, ad nauseam, the hard targets of 20% by 2020. Well, surprise, surprise. They didn't really mean it.
If you believe in this country, you should be outraged at how it/we are being treated.
That is, without respect and in fact disdain.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Nation Slumbers, As Democracy Dies



When Stephen Harper was first elected, I knew the nation and our institutions were in peril.

I wasn't alone of course, but for some reason, the known was never, or rarely spoken of. By that I mean in the media. I have yet to understand why, to be honest. Harper has of course been masterful at disguising his intents, mostly by doing something reprehensible, immediately followed by something rather benign and mainstream.

For whatever reason, the focus has been on the latter. The people who report these things are far from naive and are certainly bright, but they are maybe too cynical and focused on the "game" of politics rather than it's impact, thereby, not really believing that anyone would actually be doing what Harper set out to do.

I'm not talking about reversing abortion rulings or rescinding gay marriage. Those kinds of issues are the hot potatoes that everyone throws out there to prove that he does or doesn't have an agenda. With apologies, those issues are tiny and easily reversed in the grand scheme. Harper's sights were always set much higher than that.

Today, I watched part of Question Period. I did so with mixed emotion to be honest, because what I've believed for some time was coming out and for that I was grateful, but at the same time I was very disturbed and sad to know that it's taken so long.

Here's an interview with Peter Tinsley, the former chair of the MPCC, (Military Police Complaints Commission).

Former, not because he is not prepared to continue, but former because he was getting in the way of the government. Like many before him who were either fired or didn't have their contracts renewed, the Harper government is shutting down the very instruments that Stephen Harper assured Canada would keep him in check. I can't find that video, but if any of you have it, I'd love a link.

You remember that right? He was about to become PM and assured the country that they were safe from any "hidden agenda", because our system had checks and balances. He smirked as he said that and I knew then and there, he had figured out how to game the system, so to speak.

Why didn't the media expose this? I don't think there was any nefarious reason there, I just don't think that a critical eye is always cast. Mine is hyper-critical of course and I don't expect those who bring us the news to share my view. I really believe they didn't see this coming. Outside of the right wing columnists, who were jumping for joy, I'm not certain many studied the man and understood where he really wanted to take the country.

Well, I think many of them, including columnists, are a bit more critical, (as in critical thinking) today and for that I am grateful.

For the record, in addition to Tinsley, Harper has silenced and harassed, Linda Keen, a staffer at the Environmental Protection Agency, Elections Canada, (more than one in that department), and the Commissioner over-seeing the RCMP enquiry.

The only body able to keep him in check at the moment, is the judiciary, yet even they are challenged at every turn.

His disregard for parliament should disgust anyone who cares about our system.

That this is coming out now, over the holiday's, shouldn't put anyone off. Yes, it will not be paid close attention to outside of we wonks, but it will be in the papers, on news casts and on political shows. It's not going to die and the flames will be fanned when the country gets back to work. Count on it.

I'm known for saying, Where is my Canada?. Obviously, that can be taken as a highly partisan comment. Usually though, that is not my intent. What I mean is, this is a country built on values. Not left or right values, but values that evolve in our concept of respecting human rights, abiding by the law, respecting our system of government and abiding by our Charter of Rights and our Constitution.

Harper isn't actually vested in any of those ideals or institutions and any serious study of the man would tell you that.

Here is hoping that many are finally getting it and stepping forward.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What Issue?

One of the first stories I read this morning was this one. Hillier Mum on Abuse.

Apologies, but when I read the following, I'm afraid I laughed out loud:

"I haven’t followed it," Mr. Hillier said Friday in Halifax.
"I’m really not even in the mood or the ability to comment upon it, at this point, because I have not followed it in detail."


Really? He's not following a story that could heavily impact on his legacy?

There are a few things to consider here. Immediately following Hillier's testimony, the government, MacKay specifically, went on at length to not only to buy every word of what Hillier said, but to frame everything in terms like, 'decorated war hero' etc., and while I don't question that, it must be noted that often in the same breath he was discrediting Colvin and painting quite a different picture of his character.

It struck me then that Hillier has a hell of a lot to lose if things were not done properly. You'll remember that both he and Gauthier never really answered many of the questions but preferred rather to emphasize their specific duties and how hard it was on the ground.

Both were either directly dismissive of Colvin or inferred that he was in no position to know or understand the realities of the situation in Afghanistan.

To me, that in fact bolstered Colvin's description of these two men in terms of how they were difficult to deal with and did not put much stock in civilian observations.

That Hillier is now saying that he isn't following any of this is ludicrous. His successor came out this week and contradicted not only government claims, but military. Do you seriously believe that Hillier isn't intimately aware of that?

Could it be that he is so arrogant he believes that he'll simply be taken at his word, (previous testimony)? Or could it be that he knows this government has his back because of course that means protecting their own?

I don't know what it means to be honest, but I can say I don't buy it for a second.

This issue is obviously not going away given the vote in the House of Commons last week. I know the government intends to ignore it, as they ignore everything our democracy compels them to do, but I'm certain that no one in the opposition is going to let this go and it could get ugly.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ignatieff to Wente: Not True!

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you'll know that I have little tolerance for misinformation and outright falsehoods seen in either media reports or uttered by the government. Further, I become even more frustrated when something untrue is said of the Liberal party and the party does not respond.

So, it was nice to see a letter to the editor penned by Ignatieff and directed at Margaret Wente, who, imo, wrote the most inappropriate screed on the gun registry and more specifically on the Montreal Massacre.

Buried in her column was this:

The gun registry has been written off as useless – by the Liberals.

As a columnist, she is entitled to her opinion, but as the saying goes she is not entitled to her own facts.

Apparently, the Liberal party is no longer going to sit back and allow such distortions to just sit out there. Perhaps the addition of Donolo has prompted this shift and if that is the case, then I say well done.

Here's what Ignatieff had to say:

Gun registry not ‘useless’

Margaret Wente’s claim that the Liberal Party has “written off” the gun registry “as useless” (Montreal Massacre Death Cult - Dec. 8) is incorrect. Liberals have always been strong supporters of effective gun control and we believe in the importance maintaining a registry that includes all guns. It is a vital part of protecting public and police officer safety, used by police 9,000 times a day and supported by Canada’s Chiefs of Police.

As the Day of Remembrance for the tragedy at l’École Polytechnique reminds us, gun control is also essential to preventing violence against women. Far from Canada’s gun registry being useless, there has been a decline in all types of gun deaths since the registry was brought into force, and it’s been used to refuse or revoke over 16,000 gun licences. For all of this, the registry costs less in a year than the Conservative government has spent on partisan advertising in the past few months alone.

Working alongside police and women’s groups, the Liberal Party is fully committed to maintaining the gun registry and ensuring Canada has smart, effective gun control.

Michael Ignatieff, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Tedium is the Message

It is an odd mentality that insists on repeating lie upon lie, when those lies have been called out and disproved. Yet, we seem to be have a government that does just that. On issues large and small, they have spent more time defending the indefensible than they have doing practically anything else.

They have no Climate Change plan, yet they continue to insist that they do. The Speaker ruled that a 10 per center sent out insinuating that the Liberals were Anti Semitic, was out of line, not factual and impugned a member's character impeding his ability to perform his duties. That went to committee today, but the government side continued to push the falsehoods in the brochure and completely ignored evidence that completely discredited their argument. Poilievre to be precise.

In Question Period, the government refuses to answer important questions and day after day repeats nonsensical responses. It's tedious and dangerous, imo.

Of course the big topic at the moment, is the Afghanistan detainee issue. It is clear that MacKay has been all over the board in his replies and his denials are becoming more strident and over the top. Baird, well, he doesn't even answer logically, more concerned with smearing whomever happens to be in his way than anything else.

The government's behaviour has not gone unnoticed.

Today we have diplomats speaking out to decry their treatment of Richard Colvin and his testimony. I'm sure I don't have to tell you how unusual it is for diplomats to speak out. Their statement is extremely important, as it speaks to trust, the public trust and the ability of the public service to speak truth to power.

It will come as no surprise that I think the Conservatives have no problem at all in undermining the public service. This obviously is dangerous for our democracy and one reason that I have suggested that Harper himself was dangerous for the country.

Additionally, the NDP came out today to ask for MacKay's resignation. I agree with this, but have no idea whether or not the Liberals will call for the same. Taking that move to it's logical conclusion though, if MacKay knew, and everything points to the fact that he did, then it stands to reason that Harper did too. This conclusion feels even more plausible when you consider the vigorous defence they are mounting, flawed as it is being based on falsehoods.

And then finally today, we learn that the government was more concerned with creating their spin and honing their talking points than they were in actually implementing a transfer agreement.

Federal officials assured the Red Cross in 2006 that Canada would take an active role in monitoring the fate of Afghan prisoners — but for critical months behind the scenes did little more than manage the political spin, secret memos show.

The records, examined on a confidential basis by The Canadian Press, show the Harper government placed a greater emphasis on drafting "key messages" to the public and preparing "approaches" for embarrassing disclosures than on dealing with the human rights of prisoners.

...... officials in Ottawa placed the notion of formally monitoring prisoners at the bottom of a "Strategic (Macro) Level Engagement" plan produced near the end of February 2007.

No. 1 on the eight-point plan for officials was to "Prepare standard key messages (ie. importance of adhering to obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law regarding the treatment of detainees.)"
Point No. 8 in the plan was to "consider supplementing the existing arrangement" in such a way to include the "guarantee of access for Canadian authorities to individuals transferred by the (Canadian Forces)."


Anyone who watches this government is not surprised by this. This has been their M.O. since they took power. They are amateur hour when it comes to matters of importance, but they are masters at spinning the message.

The reputation of this country is worsening by day. From Copenhagen to the Afghan issue, the Conservatives are being exposed for who they are.

While I continue to be perplexed as to why it has taken so long, I am glad to see more and more of the inner workings of this government being revealed.

They treat all of this as a game of strategy and seem not to have a moral compass when it comes to knowing and doing what is right.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Fiction Posing as Fact



The other day it was noted that Christie Blatchford had her facts wrong. She drew conclusions that fit her narrative, but she had her facts wrong.

This morning, we are treated to some more fiction from yet another opinion writer, who couches his narrative in what seems to be fact, except it isn't.

Glenn Pearson, MP from London, who is probably the most respected MP in the House is mentioned in the story. He read it this morning and was quick to rebut Persichilli's assertions.

Here is his post:

I woke up early this morning to a shock. In the news, I read a headline claiming that MPs were planning Michael Ignatieff’s early retirement. And then I read my own name mentioned as one of those who took part in a planned meeting at the Chateau Laurier to discuss how to move the Liberal leader out of the way. The piece, by Angelo Persichilli, claims that Bob Rae called a special meeting of Liberal MPs following a retirement party for Liberal senator Jerry Grafstein to discuss moving Mr. Ignatieff on. I have no idea how Mr. Perichilli came to such a conclusion.

For the record, let me state that Carolyn Bennett, Bob Rae, Ruby Dhalla and I did meet on the night mentioned. This often happens in the evenings following parliamentary sessions as politicians and senators seek to wind down following hectic days. On the night Perichilli mentions for example, other MPs and senators were in the lounge, though not at our table. Someone was singing at the piano, the place was packed and noisy. The only part of this meeting that was planned was between Ms. Bennett and myself. She has been to Sudan with my wife and I as a part of two special teams we took in the last couple of years and has made significant contributions regarding public health, rural clinics and need to build better infrastructure for health in that troubled country. We had agreed to meet to discuss my upcoming trip to the region in a few weeks’ time. Mr. Rae and Ms. Dhalla were not part of that invite.

Partway through the discussion, Mr. Rae did appear in the lounge but had no idea we were there. It was me that waved to him to see if he wanted to join us. About 15 minutes after that, Ms. Dhalla walked in and she was welcomed to join us as well. Talk of Sudan ended as we spoke of some of the speeches and persons present at the Grafstein dinner. As always on such occasions, things got around to politics. Angelo Persichilli claims in his piece that I stated Mr. Ignatieff was losing the trust of the party. This is profoundly untrue. I did comment that he maintained the loyalty of caucus but that Mr. Rae was a trusted performer in the House. I also stated that with Mr. Ignatieff traveling the country more, it would be good to see Bob take on more responsibility for helping us as the official opposition to hold the government to account in the House, especially during Question Period.

Where Mr. Persichilli got the idea that a discussion was held to seek the removal of Mr. Goodale from his responsibility in the House I have no idea. Not once – nada – was this discussed. In fact, we think we’ve done better in the House lately and that Ralph Goodale has been an important part of elevating that performance. And for Persichilli to claim that it wasn’t an isolated meeting is totally unfounded. It was isolated and the only planning was between Ms. Bennett and myself re: Sudan.

I have never met Angelo Persichilli, nor do I know what he looks like. But I do occasionally hold discussions with a few journalists, some who are friends. If they received such information, they would clarify our positions before writing the story. Angelo Persichilli didn’t provide that opportunity and got his story wrong. It’s just the way everything has been going in Ottawa these days, as people rush to the lowest common denominator. I have sought to keep a low profile during these last three years, in large part because of situations like this. Mr. Perichilli has it wrong and he has done proper politics a great disfavour. Our discussion about Mr. Ignatieff did cover his trouble in the polls and how we trust he’ll do better, but the rest of the talk was about how we could help him in the House and how we could take on more of the load. Mr. Rae, Ignatieff’s competitor for past leadership bouts, called no such meeting and I feel the sorriest for him because he neither led the discussion (no one did) and he affirmed that Michael Ignatieff has the loyalty of caucus and that was a good thing.

It’s hard for some of us to try to move politics to a higher level in Ottawa, but with journalism like this it’s almost impossible. At least check it out with us to make sure you have your story straight. I’ve been as honest as I can be in Ottawa and, Mr. Perichilli, you’ve got this one wrong. And Michael, I’m sorry this happened at all. We’re all fully there behind you and saddened by the pain this must cause.

Carolyn Bennett also rejected the story this morning.

This pseudo-journalism, (opinion told in such a way as to twist or distort facts) is helpful to no one, not the least of which is the electorate. It feeds cynicism and that is bad for democracy.

Blatchford and Persichilli are hardly retiring when it comes to their political leaning and that is fair enough, but distorting the truth has become far too common place and we deserve more than this. Had he written, 'X MP's were spotted at Y lounge and in my opinion, here is what they might have been discussing'...fine. Obviously no opinion writer would do that but you get my drift.

Thanks to Glen Pearson for setting the record straight.

Friday, December 04, 2009

(Un)Truth and Consequences


Last Saturday, I commented on Christie Blatchford's opinion piece in the Globe and Mail.

My beef wasn't that she shouldn't be allowed to express her opinion, but rather the manner in which the piece was presented, that is, as if it was the definitive view of the situation in Afghanistan.

I argued at the time that she approached the piece with an outcome in mind and made the pieces fit to suit her viewpoint.

Well, today we have have a correction, put out by the Globe and Mail. (What? You didn't see it buried in the print edition?)

CORRECTION - published Dec. 4, 2009

Comments released to a parliamentary committee this week about Afghanistan's Kandahar prison that the facility seemed "to be in reasonably good condition" and that inmates got "enough food" were misattributed to Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin. In fact, the comments were made by an unknown third party and quoted by Mr. Colvin in an e-mail. Mr. Colvin made several trips, not one, outside the military base in Kandahar. Incorrect information appeared in a column Nov. 28.

Now, these corrections may not seem like much, but consider her original assertion on one of these issues.

As context for Mr. Colvin's tour in Afghanistan, it should be noted that he arrived at Kandahar Air Field on April 28, 2006, and went several days later to the Provincial Reconstruction Team headquarters on the outskirts of town, where he spent about seven weeks – leaving the compound, as comfortable and safe a place as there is in that country, only once for a few hours.

That was his “outside the wire” tour, which means that in his information gathering, he would have relied heavily upon phone interviews with Afghans, contacts with the ICRC and other non-governmental agencies, and any journalists, local or foreign, he may have met at the PRT.

Mr. Colvin then headed off for a month's leave in July, spending the remainder of his time in Afghanistan at the Canadian embassy in Kabul, finally heading home in October of 2007.

By the kindest reckoning, he would have spent a grand total of a half-day outside the wire in Kandahar.


The condescending tone aside, she jumped to a conclusion to back-fill her assertions. In addition to misunderstanding Colvin's job description, (I presume intentionally because she does have access to this info), she was determined to completely undermine his credibility with that statement.

This type of misinformation has become far too prevalent and tragically, it inserts itself into the broader dialogue. I noted how many times the Conservatives quoted Blatch this week. That then seeps out of the House of Commons and ends up on panel discussions, etc., yet this is all nothing more than her personal conjecture.

It's time for more people to be held to account. Yes, opinion writing is interesting, but it must be clearly identified as such. In my view, the Globe relied on Christie's background and gave her the space to put out a story that should never have appeared in that format.

Lest you doubt the symbiotic relationship that I suggest exists, take a peek here.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I Got Nothing...But He's Wrong



Christie Blatchford's piece in the Globe and Mail today made no bones about where she was going to come out on the Afghanistan issue. That doesn't, or shouldn't surprise anyone.

Blatchford makes no excuses for her devotion to the troops and her admiration for Gen. Rick Hillier. Certainly, she is entitled to her feelings and her perspective, but how that qualifies her to put out such a lengthy and faulty analysis, perplexes me. Well, no I guess it doesn't really. She's written an opinion piece, but it's presented with such a huge amount of ink, that one would be led to believe that she has the last and definitive word on the issue.

Look, credit where credit is due. Blatchford has courage that I don't possess. Her experience in Afghanistan is not one many of us would undertake and by all accounts, she presented her observations during that time honestly and from the perspective of the soldier. That was important work in my view.

Given that though, how she or anyone believes that she can objectively look at a diplomats duties and findings, is beyond me. Hillier, whom she adores, all but spat out the word diplomat this week at the committee meeting. The disdain the military feels for the civilian/political realm is neither new, nor surprising. In fact, I suppose it could be argued that a certain amount of animosity is necessary in order for each sector to do it's work.

I tend to think that Blatchford shares Gen. Hillier and Gen. Gautier's views on that score.

So, if as she says the Globe and Mail received the redacted documents, why did it fall to her to go through them? Just thinking out loud here, but it seems to me that someone who was far closer to the situation, as in Graeme Smith, who really broke much of this, would have been a better choice, no?

I raise that because I wonder if The Globe received the documents or if Christie herself did. Just putting that out there. I know that she would have to share/vet her information with her higher up's. Her analysis, at any rate is faulty.

Let's start with the last paragraph first, because it sets up how she approached the issue.

In condemning with the same brush highly professional Canadian soldiers, and to complain that they were complicit in breaches of the law of armed conflict and knowingly buried his reports, it is Mr. Colvin who has some explaining left to do.

No one, I repeat, NO ONE, has accused the Canadian soldiers. This is about their political masters. The 'attacking our brave sons and daughters' line is one that is being pushed by the government as a shiny object and Blatchford obligingly picked it up and ran with it.

Furthermore, the amount of redaction applied to these memos makes it impossible for her to refute their content, but she does. She goes on to portray Colvin's exposure as limited, but in doing so, she exposes her lack of understanding of his post.

You do recall that we tragically lost our first diplomat in Afghanistan Glyn Berry. In spite of that danger, Colvin stepped up and volunteered to take his place. She diminishes the man with her 'military point of view' impression of him.

A more thoughtful view can be found here.

And then we have this:

The Globe and Mail now has what appears to be the entire collection of the e-mails Mr. Colvin sent on the subject during the 17 months he spent in Afghanistan from April of 2006 to October of 2007. A couple are virtually completely blacked out; some are heavily redacted, others rattle on at such length they could have done with a little more redacting.

Do they have the entire collection? And apologies for being a nudge here, but why does the Globe have the doc's while parliamentarians are being left out of the loop?

In the end, the Globe facilitated getting the government argument out through another voice. There is nothing substantial in Blatchford's piece, but it's this kind of messaging that the government we live with at the moment depends on. Messaging is the order of the day and sadly I see too much compliance in that effort.

I read messages from Ottawa journo's on a daily basis that state they will not be given an opportunity to question the PM or a Minister, or, they will be allowed one question and only if they are deigned deserving. Can't quite figure out how they put up with that, but what are they to do?

In place of that of course, we have an excess of opinion, friendly local media spin, oh and that ever reliable source, talk radio. Canada, we have a problem.

That said, I sense there is a mood to seek the truth here. This issue isn't being dismissed and make of that what you will, I think it bodes well.

Additionally, I suspect that more and more real information will emerge. That is what is needed here. Colvin has nothing to gain by his coming forward.

Here's hoping, for the sake of our national reputation and the protection of our troops, that others find his courage.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Demeaning Our Democracy

It is clear that our current government is comfortable with employing the tactic of, character assassination, when it suits them. Sometimes it's to gain political advantage, or, as is happening now, it is to cover themselves.

I've been thinking back over the time they have been in office and who they have attacked in the most vicious and spiteful ways. In the House of Commons, I recall being appalled as Harper attempted to smear Navdeep Bains over a speculative story about a family member in the Sun media. Also in the House, I remember Vic Toews, screaming at the top of his lungs the most vile things about Louise Arbour. Then, there was Jason Kenney at a committee meeting who went after Gen Roméo Dallaire re'the Omar Khadr case. Of course there was also the despicable Taliban lovers reference to anyone who brought up prisoner abuse in Afghanistan.

We aren't talking about back benchers here. This dangerous behaviour is coming from the leader of the Conservative party and his Ministers. There is no regard for the person they attack, their family or their reputation. We know what they did to Stephane Dion and now Michael Ignatieff and last week of course, Minister MacKay and Laurie Hawn, have begun to slowly erode the credibility of Richard Colvin. Even going so far to portray him as a Taliban stooge.

These tactics, (which of course are part of a larger strategy), I maintain do tremendous damage not only to the people being attacked, but to our democracy as a whole.

In a democracy such as ours, you expect a government to be open, truthful and above all not to attack it's own citizens. You further expect citizens to feel they can come forward, or just go about their daily work, without worry of being maligned by the government.

That is not what we have with Harper in power. As I saw it described somewhere this weekend, there are thugs in the party that have no compunction in destroying someone if it somehow advances the so-called, Conservative cause. This is not your grandmother's notion of Conservative mind you. No, instead we have a government that has lied to us on numerous occasions and seems to think that it is above the law or at least the spirit of the law.

They insult our intelligence, waste our money and manipulate the media, all in the name of advancing their agenda.

I won't pretend that life was all sweetness and light when the Liberals were in power. We certainly made our mistakes and fought to maintain power, but not like this. Not to the degree we are now seeing now.

Consider the 10 per center's put out last week by CPC back benchers. Accusing the Liberals of being anti-Semitic is apparently their idea of fair game and a way to operate while in government. Not in my world and I'm sure not in the world of many Jewish Canadians. Taking on Irwin Cotler? I found this to be an interesting response and for the record, the Lib's have asked that the rules be changed.

What our government is doing both disgusts and saddens me. A lying, thuggish government that ignores motions and Bills passed in the House, that plays at the margins of election laws re'spending, (In and Out trial coming up next week btw), ignores International Treaties and now is faced with proving that they haven't broken International Human Rights laws, doesn't sound like the Canada I know and love. Nor does Canada come to mind when I think of a government attempting to destroy good people in an effort to either increase their poll standings, or more often, create a false narrative.

There will be another Afghanistan Committee meeting this week. This one seems designed to further try and discredit Richard Colvin. It is important to note that absolutely no one who does not have an association to the government has disputed what Richard Colvin has said. In fact, his testimony has been corroborated at the highest levels, and not just in this country. Nor is Canada the only country taking note of this issue. Oh and for all the government's braying, the truth on some of the detail is starting to come out.

Obviously, this is a story that we as Canadians should be engaged in. Will we be though? Has Harper demeaned our democracy to such an extent that people simply can't bear to look, let alone get involved any more?

I sincerely hope not.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Raise Your Hand if You Are Surprised



Let me begin by apologising for being gone so long. No, I did not have H1N1, but I seem to have the mother of all colds and couldn't concentrate enough to post. I tweeted now and then, but that was all I could manage. Still not back, but have this to offer.

Duffy made his debut tonight on the new CBC show, Power and Politics. He made an ass of himself, which frankly wasn't a surprise to me.

Did you watch and listen to that? Were you surprised?

What is funny, nay, obvious, to me is just how partisan this guy is and I guess we know now, always has been. I don't get the attraction to be willing to appear to be a jerk, but it's got it's appeal apparently. I've watched newly minted Conservative MP's in the House and in committee meetings. They all strike the same note, which tells me they have some kind of "be nasty, here's how" training.

There is an unabashed nastiness attached to what they say. I here-by push the media to quote them more often, because I don't think Canadians have a clue who these people are and how contemptuous they are toward what most Canadians think this country is all about.

To those who follow, I do have something to say about the gun registry vote and Van Loan's delay of the report, the stupid partisan EAP signs, Lisa Raitt, H1N1, the Olympic torch run/stops, the AG's report...okay, there is a lot to talk about. I have been paying attention.

In addition to Duffy's idiocy, feel free to bring up any or all of these subjects in comments.

Will be back soon.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Facts Have Always Been a Problem for this Government

From the moment this government took office they have denied, disputed and rejected facts. Oddly, this is rarely pointed out, so they of course carry on their merry way spewing nonsense, in ads and in person and that becomes the truth, or the mythical truth I suppose.

That ignorance and game playing is coming home to roost now and the Conservatives aren't dealing with it very well.

Before we look at the current situation, I think it's worthwhile to look back a bit and consider the amount of duping that has gone on.

Crime legislation from day one has been based on no data, nada. It's ideologically driven and does little more than tweak the system, in large measure to it's detriment. Fact: Crime rates are decreasing in this country without any of the Conservative legislation having been put in place. How about the gun registry? Fact: Every police force across the country is insisting that it is valuable, but the Conservatives will insist that it's never used. They inflate it's current cost and pander to their 'yahoo' base.

How about Science? I'll bite my tongue on much of this but will raise the InSite program in Vancouver and how the government has kept them hanging. I recall Tony Clement, bald face lying about stat's to committee and of course ignoring the real facts. Science of course leads to Climate Change and if anyone really believes that this government gives a whit about it, show me their plan, with costing, targeted industry caps and a road map for how Canada is going to achieve it's goals.

There is more, but suffice it to say that they have somehow gotten away with saying nothing and haven't been challenged nearly enough on their lack of facts.

Now though, not so much.

The spending of infrastructure money has finally caught the imagination of many and there is report after report, all saying precisely what the Liberals have been saying for months.

A) The money is slow to flow and B) what flows is going to Conservative ridings in higher numbers than it's going to opposition ridings.

Let's take politics out of it for a minute, because surely some of my Conservative readers have family or friends who live in an opposition riding, non?

This program was very special in that it was to be designed to address the needs of the country during an unprecedented time of need. It was meant to target areas of the country with high unemployment, in an effort to create job's, thereby stimulating the economy....a 'stimulus program'.

It's clear now, that is not what has happened. Read here, here and here. There are more accounts, but I'm sure you've read them all.

In addition to all of this, I listened to a committee meeting today that had Municipal Federations as witnesses. Some were more diplomatic than others, but to a person, it was clear that much of the money hasn't gotten out and a few weren't too shy to say, that it was being used in a political game. Furthermore, some even alluded to the fact that since the money hasn't flowed and this construction season has been missed, the likelihood of having projects completed by the program expiration date was slim in some cases.

What does that mean? Well, if the program has expired, as it will in March of 2011, the municipality is on the hook for the rest. Likely outcome? Municipalities won't have the money to complete them, so all those tax dollars will have gone in to a project half completed, then abandoned. Nice use of your money don't you think?

So here we are. The hard work that Gerard Kennedy and his team have done has been noticed and various media outlets have started doing their own digging and the facts, ultimately proving his point, are coming out.

As I said though, the Conservatives don't deal in fact. To that point, I saw an extraordinary comment from the PCO today, Dimitri Soudas to be precise, commenting on the G&M story. I'm paraphrasing, but the media notice went something like:

The Globe and Mail, using calculations either generated from or approved by the Liberal Party of Canada (Michael Ignatieff) have painted an unfair picture of the Infrastructure Program...

That is an astonishing statement and one that I hope gets a lot of attention. That the PMO would actually hold that idiotic view that the media is biased toward liberals is no surprise, but that they would come out and attack the Globe and Mail is unbelievable. This is the stuff of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck...in the PMO.

In the end, it tells me one thing. The facts are being revealed and they have no real defense against that, when confronted.

Stay tuned, because, oh...there will be more.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Little Luv

I'm under the weather, so a little awwww moment, is the order of the day.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Define Transparency



I've watched apologists for the Harper government do a couple of things since the Conservatives came to power. They either dismiss any or all breaches of ethics committed by the government or they resort to implying that the Liberals, while in government, did it too.

Well here is a news flash folks. Harper was elected on a platform of transparency and doing things differently. Once in office, the Accountability Act was introduced and all parties worked on that Act and ultimately agreed to it's passage. It was intended to stop what Harper had alleged and complained about about for years. Mis-spending, partisan appointments, Access to Information, etc.

You see, I won't tell you that Liberals were angels, but there weren't rules in place in some instances. The Accountability Act was designed to put new rules in place to address all of Harper's complaints.

Guess what? He still hasn't fully implemented his much vaunted Act and has proceeded to break many of the rules, laws and guidelines that he insisted on.

Still, the apologists defend him.

A Harper supporter who actually would take the time to think this through, would realise that they are supporting what they decried. They are supporting what they suggest Chretien did...a de facto support of Chretien, I guess.

Call Alanis Morisette.

Is the discussion of the cheques the end of the world? Probably not, but that is not the point is it? It is the pattern of behaviour that has become obvious and in fact you could argue it's worse than the accusations of old. Certainly much of it is more obvious and it stands out as a government contradicting itself.

Let's take a look at the Afghanistan Detainee issue. The government has effectively shut down the enquiry, in spite of screaming for transparency when the Liberals undertook the mission. Not only is their stonewalling obvious, it's stupid and will serve to make the matter worse.

All opposition parties are in favour of more info here, so guess what? It's going to go to committee and likely be forwarded to the appropriate individuals to be reviewed for obstruction of justice. Obstruction of justice people. Think a bit here.

McKay is on the hook, but so is the PM. He, the man who suggested in the House that there was a coddling of terrorists by opposition parties. He who derided the Liberals and the NDP and took shots at individual members. Sorry, it seems pretty clear that there is information that they do not want to come out, while screaming that they are the party of transparency.

BTW, this all fits with their disdain for Canadians facing the Death Penalty outside our country, doesn't it? There is a through thread to all of this.

Then today we have this. If you are committee watcher, you have heard witness upon witness complain about the Access to Information Act and how poorly it's working. Dial back a few years and Harper was one of them. All of a sudden...he's not such a fan of changing the system he decried.

Surely you can see the pattern here. When they, the Conservatives, took office it was not long after that they, shut out the press, shut down committees through filibustering and shut up our democracy by proroguing, and the list goes on.

This PM is not about transparency or a new way of doing things. He's about manipulating the system to his advantage. To coin a phrase, 'he's in it for himself'.

He's not only been the most hypocritical PM in memory, he engages in the activity with delight and disdain. An odd combination, but apt don't you think?

So I watch the die hard defenders that generally have little above a school yard taunt to bring to the discussion, and ask them to define transparency.

Forget the irony of your conundrum, the lack of logical thought speaks for itself.

Can't Even Get Wrong Right?



I heard Bill Carroll, (CFRB), talking about the Conservative/Government cheques this morning. He of course was playing it down, suggesting that the Liberals did it too, (we didn't) that it was just one stupid MP, (it wasn't), etc., etc.

To be fair though, he did say that he thought it was wrong and stupid. In fact, he said:

'I sometimes wonder if you have to fail an IQ test in order to be a member of the Conservative government'.

Take a close look at the cheque above, issued by Barrie MP Patrick Brown and you be the judge. (Larger view here. See slideshow.)

It's made out for $78,750.00. However, what is written is, Seventy Eight Thousand, Seventy Five Hundred.

Most novelty cheques are obviously not the cheque you bring to the bank, however, if they are drawn on a bank, with an account number identified and signed by someone with signing authority, they can be cashed.

Thankfully, it's a pretty safe bet that Patrick Brown doesn't have signing authority.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Drip, Drip, Drip...

The only surprise I had watching the story of the 'branded' cheques from the government today, was the surprise exhibited by some of the media.

I say that, because surely there is a track record of skirting or blatantly ignoring the rules by this government that should have triggered some intellectual curiosity before now?

I mean we're still not clear on the In and Out scandal, the mis-use of 10 per centers, or the distribution of stimulus dollars favouring Conservative ridings, the Government website now all Tory blue and referring to the Harper government versus the Government of Canada. What about, all social network links on the Action Plan site leading you directly to Harper's pages on Facebook, etc, and of course the massive advertising campaign designed to pat the government on the back rather than inform Canadians?

I heard Tonda McCharles say two remarkable things last evening. First, she admitted that the press goes after the shiny object, until the next one comes along and second, she placed the responsibility of Ignatieff receiving coverage squarely in his lap, :"that's his job", meaning to capture her/their imagination.

I say remarkable, but I can't argue with her. On the first count, I've long argued that the industry has taken that turn and I think it's doing us all a disservice. Chasing and reporting on a shiny object is of little import when the subject of that particular story is then allowed to dull it down to the point that it no longer attracts the attention of the journalist.

I heard Tim Powers trying to do that tonight about the cheques. Think about how many times the government has come out and defended itself, always ending with a 'much ado about nothing' statement. Often, (not sure why), that is taken as fact and there is no follow up. How is that pap ingested?

On the second point, I do think that Ignatieff has a responsibility to attract attention, but yesterday for instance, he announced some pretty compelling environmental policy. This, after being berated for months by the media for not delving into policy. Was it covered? Barely. Why? Well, as far as I can tell that would take some knowledge of the subject which I don't think journo's are given the chance to establish.

For instance, it was subsequently reported today that Ignatieff's announcement was overshadowed, (read irrelevant), because of Harper's announcement in Alberta. Anyone who understands the file would quickly realise that Harper read a lot of words and said nothing. He's speaking of a project that is unproven and an expenditure that is spread over time, in other words...means very little. That said, I don't expect every journo to be an expert in every field, but something is wrong when we don't get the fact's juxtaposed to what we are being told/fed.

So back to what has been going on with this government. Yeah, yeah, I know the Conservatives are still flailing around dragging up the sponsorship scandal, but really, much of what is going on with the current government is in direct contradiction to what came out of the Gomery report that examined that scandal.

You remember him don't you? The hero of the right? The man that exposed the ills that resided, not so much in the Liberal government, but that took place under it's watch. Well he made a number of recommendations in that report to guard against that kind of thing happening again. Guess what? Harper is ignoring many of them.

Blah, blah, blah, Accountability Act, seems to be the come-back, except they haven't implemented the serious aspects of it. Why does that not get reported, in conjunction with all that has gone on? It seems to me that would be a pretty simple story to follow.

For the record, my objective here is not to berate the media. Susan Delacourt was on this cheque business in July and many stories have been written that expose the ills of the current government, but there is no through line.

No, my point has more to do with a narrative not being part of their mission anymore. Or, so it appears to me.

There is a compelling narrative here and it is one that does not bode well for the government. It's consistent, in most cases it's measurable and in fact it's an interesting story. The story of a government that came to power professing everything under the sun. One that has failed on almost every count, yet Canadians don't seem to realise that.

The Accountability Act is step one, but then of course we have the 'no deficit', 'no recession' comments/nonsense, we have the vow not to partake in patronage appointments to the judiciary, boards or panels and of course, no appointments to the Senate. Ha! All of the above is laughable of course and falsely justified by Ministers, the PM and the apologists, ad nauseum.

The Liberals have raised all of these issues, yet somehow, they seem to be sloughed off by the media and in fairness, perhaps as 'one offs' they look like nit-picking...but taken as a whole, it's not too damn tough to see the pattern here.

To me, the pattern of this government is one of contradiction, 'believe we're doing what we say, but don't look at what we're doing'. That holds true to the accountability issues raised above, but pertains to just about every file.

Look at the Afghanistan detainee issue. The appointee shut it down today because of a lack of co-operation by the government. Climate change? Well appeal to that huge base that still lives in la-la denial land and sort of deny it, do nothing of substance, but suddenly defend the need to defend the North that is more vulnerable due to melting ice. Huh? Interfering in arms length institutions? Oh yeah...think AECL. It goes on from there of course.

So, the drip, drip, drip of contradiction will hopefully be explored and exposed. Who will allow/change the model and let the intelligence of our journo's to shine? I don't know the answer to that.

Until then, keep up the posts, the comments and the tweets. And if there is still someone out there that disputes the impact of Twitter, you're living in another world.

Update - An unlikey suspect steps forward. Ivison. A part of a sentence I disagree with though:

The Conservative Party needs to rediscover its humility in short order...

Rediscover? Tell me when they ever held that trait. Hubris has been the order of the day from the start.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

It's Your Money!

Martha Hall Findlay has worked diligently to get the issue of political advertising, paid for by taxpayers, on the radar. She's had some success at this, as the issue is now slowly being raised on political shows and in the press.

About bloody time in my view.

Initially it was thought that the Conservative ad campaign was worth $34 million, but today, MHF came out with new numbers.

Liberal MPs today charged that the Harper government has spent at least $56 million in taxpayer dollars since January to promote themselves, including driving voters to Stephen Harper’s $2 million vanity website – outspending their H1N1 prevention campaign by at least 10:1.

Liberal Public Works Critic Martha Hall Findlay also asserted today that the heavily partisan nature of these ads is in contravention of the various laws and rules intended to prevent such abuses.

“The Conservatives are buying voters with their own money. Not only is that unethical, we believe it’s against the law,” said Ms. Hall Findlay. “This spending spree on taxpayer-paid partisan advertising is unprecedented. The Harper government is running roughshod over all of the rules established to prevent exactly this kind of abuse.”

The Conservatives are pathetically trying to get a 'much ado about nothing' message out there. Sadly, media, who I'm thinking were the first to back Harper when he decried this was happening under a Liberal government, are either talking the Conservative line or are silent.

Have you looked at the numbers? The increase in ad spending under this government is staggering. Not only do the Conservatives sound ridiculous, it would seem that they have some unexpected opposition.

A partisan government advertising campaign paid for by taxpayers raised alarms from the outset among senior public servants who serve Prime Minister Stephen Harper, The Canadian Press has learned.

The Privy Council Office, the non-partisan bureaucratic arm of the Prime Minister's Office, has never been comfortable administering the website for the Economic Action Plan -- and informed Harper of its misgivings at the time of last January's federal budget.

Those misgivings were heard, but overruled.


While the story is being denied by both PCO and PMO, the extraordinary claim originates from several sources within the famously discreet Privy Council Office.

The fact the story is being aired at all -- even under the cloak of anonymity -- suggests just how far the Conservatives are stretching the traditional boundaries of partisan behaviour in Canada's professional bureaucracy.

The PMO, etc, deny this, but:

In interviews with past and present government insiders, The Canadian Press was told the Tories are trampling the admittedly grey area between partisanship and policy.

More than one career bureaucrat said they've never seen anything so blatant as the current use of the office for self-promotion.
None would speak on the record, some for fear of reprisals, but many said it is a story that needs to be told.


"You have a political party that is not constrained by what conventionally would be perceived as overtly partisan actions," said one former insider.
"I can tell you every funding program across the government is being politicized," said another public servant.


"They do it for their own needs and they don't do it to help people. Welcome to Stephen Harper's world."

The Privy Council Office doesn't even have a line item accounting for the cost of development of the economic action plan website. The $2-million budget went to Finance, but PCO developed the website with frequent input from the PMO.

"Expecting public servants to manage government communications that has a partisan spin to it is a misuse of public power," Peter Aucoin, a professor emeritus at Dalhousie University, said in an interview.

That's the clincher isn't it? A misuse of power. It's evident everywhere with this government, but somehow, the masses are accepting. Why?

Because we are not getting facts from sources who should be providing them. I don't think the media is bias...except to say that they are bias toward turning a profit in their own name. That's okay, but what is missed in that scenario is their raison d'étre and their integrity.

The larger loss though is for Canadians. Information we deserve is being pushed aside. We are poorer for it and I think the media will find their coffers are literally poorer as a result.

So here we are. We have a government that is abusing power, spending money we don't have on self promotion and no one outside the Liberal party seems to have a problem with this? The 'Accountability' mantle that the Conservatives trotted in on was shot down in the first year and has become considerably worse.

Where is the outrage? Where are all the stories?

It's your money too!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

As Transparent as a Bloc

Today, Gerard Kennedy introduced two motions at the Transportation and Infrastructure committee.

The first motion was meant to have PBO Page, appear before committee to discuss what he has been able to analyze re' the stimulus spending and presumably, what he hasn't been able to gain access to.

Kennedy made his case and then the committee set about debating the issue. The NDP was on side, but shockingly, the Bloc said they would vote against. MP Laframboise said he didn't want to waste Page's time. I know! Huh? He suggested an amendment or something else all together, and that was to write to Page to give him time to prepare.

All of this seemed odd to me, because Kennedy had indicated that Page had done some work and would be available, however, I've long stopped trying to figure out the Bloc.

The real obstructionists however were of course the Conservatives. Yes I know it seems improbable, because, you know, they keep telling us that they are being completely transparent, have nothing to hide and even put up a useless web-site for heaven's sake, for all Canadians to see!

First up was MP Brian Jean. He's a highly partisan member who never misses an opportunity to punch below the belt, demean and generally behave like a boar. He accused Kennedy's office of making 1000 phone calls to determine what money had been spent and where. He thought that was profound. Wow, imagine accusing a critic of doing his job!

Furthermore, if everything is so open and transparent, why on earth would there be a problem? He went on to demean Kennedy, who I must say handled it all as a gentleman.

Jean dismissed the motion, but really wasn't able to put up any sort of real argument. MP Hoepner also spoke and for a rookie MP, she certainly has learned the Conservative babble quickly. She too went after Kennedy and said that there were far more important things to discuss...things that are on the minds of all Canadians...like high speed rail.

Um isn't this spending, this Action Plan the jewel that they keep crowing about? Isn't it the one thing that the government says Canadians need more information on and that is why they are spending millions in advertising....oh wait, that isn't really the point of the ads is it.

Then we come to MP Jeff Watson. Oh, he is yet another hyper partisan who really has no problem going after the opposition, but generally he does it in a passive aggressive manner. He left the passive at home today. The aggression was out in full force though. He berated Kennedy, brought up that he'd been absent for some meetings and suggested that the normal work of the committee isn't usually politically 'sexy'. (I guess he didn't get the memo post the Raitt affair.)

He went on to berate the media, who he says never show up at these meetings, unless Kennedy appears and brings them in tow. He closed with the profound, 'if it was up to me, Mr. Kennedy wouldn't be on this committee at all'. (Maybe he's jealous?)

So, in the end, what we have is a government and it's members on the Infrastructure Committee, refusing to have their infrastructure program receive any scrutiny. I mean seriously. If the government truly had nothing to hide, wouldn't they welcome such a review? In fact, as Kennedy said, isn't it the job of the committee to act as the oversight body to this legislation?

While I was disappointed that the motion didn't pass, it says much more that the government is blocking it.

Kennedy will bring forward another motion, amended in a way that the Bloc said they could support it. That requires 48 hours notice, which I presume he gave today.

The second motion was to bring the Conservative candidate for Markham, Landon, who, as I'm sure you remember, resigned after saying publicly that money wouldn't come to that riding because it was held by John McCallum, a Liberal.

That was defeated too, but that one didn't surprise me.

Fun fact of the day. MP Jean, in one of his rants, (inadvertantly I think) said he thought it was remarkable, fantastic even, that the government had actually managed to spend 12% of the funds!

Ooops!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Show Us the Money


Regular readers will of course recognise Gerard Kennedy, Lib MP for Parkdale-High Park. You may not be as familiar with Senator Elaine McCoy, from Alberta.

Senator McCoy is a Conservative Senator, but that increasing rare form of Conservative, a Progressive Conservative...and she happens to be one of my favourite Senators.

With introductions out of the way, I'd like to point out that it is possible for parties to work together for the benefit of Canadians and underscore just how this present government makes that impossible.

I should note, that Kennedy and McCoy have not collaborated, but they could have. You see, they are both trying to follow the money the government of Canada is claiming to spend on stimulating the economy. Both have recognised that there have been an abundance of announcements and both were trying to measure the effectiveness of public dollars being spent. Both parties are frustrated and have found that the government is not being forthcoming with details. As a result, their efforts have been somewhat thwarted.

While it could be claimed by some, that MP Kennedy is simply on a partisan witch hunt, I'd ask you to first consider the man. Yes, he is a committed Liberal, but he is also a committed public servant with an earnest view of how government should operate. Senator McCoy, similarly, is a committed individual who wants the truth to be available to all Canadians, in spite of how this may reflect on the Conservative government. She has a reputation for being an independent voice and thinker, standing for truth for the region she represents.

The secrecy that this government is employing is shameful, maybe shameless, especially since they continue to tell all and sundry that they were elected because of the promised and (un)implemented Accountability Act. In fact, John Baird rose in the House today and had the temerity to insist that this is the most transparent government in our history. All opposition parties howled with laughter...and rightly so.

The opposite is true of course and if anyone out there is as geeky as me and caught some CPAC this weekend, that was beyond obvious. (More about that later in the week.)

Okay, I still don't have you? How about non-partisan contributors to this debate? Kevin Gaudet for instance. You know him. Head of the Taxpayer's Federation...against just about all spending by government. Or what about Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, appointed by this government then starved for money to keep his department working. They both agree that there is no clear way to follow the money and in Page's case, he's being denied access to the very numbers he was put in place to keep an eye on.

How is it that the electorate is buying what the government is selling them? Well, that might have to do with a certain, million upon million dollar advertising campaign, that you are paying for incidentally, taking the issue and turning it in to propaganda. There is something wrong in a democracy where this is allowed to happen and media seem not to see a story in this.

Given that, I should also note the following from Question Period today. Seriously, this is how bad, how disingenuous, this government has become. Martha Hall Findlay asked the pres. of the Treasury Board this:

[Martha Hall Findlay] (l): Mr. Speaker, I tried last week to get some answers on government advertising but got no answer, no numbers. So I'll try again and I'm going to ask the president of the Treasury Board, because after all, he is the one responsible for the spending and he should know. So how much exactly have Canadian taxpayers now paid for this government's partisan pat yourself on the back advertising so far?

Get ready for this...

The honourable president of the treasury board: [Vic Toews] 'Treasury, treasury well, in fact, the government of Canada does not bill the taxpayer for that kind of advertising. What the government of Canada does is get out key messages that reach a large number of Canadians on important issues -- and they laugh -- h1n1, elder abuse, the home renovation tax credit, Canadian forces recruitment. That's what the role of government is and we will continue to do that.

What a pathetic excuse for a Minister. Makes you really wonder what has gone on in his department doesn't it?

Member for Willowdale. [Martha Hall Findlay] Mr. Speaker, who does the president of treasury board thinks actually pays for government spending if it isn't the Canadian taxpayers? I'm not sure which is worse, the fact that he doesn't have the numbers, he doesn't know them or he's trying to hide something. Look at the t.v. campaign alone. We're talking tens of of millions of dollars. 40, 60, A hundred. Once in government, the government did away -- this conservative government did away with the rules restricting ad spending and they've run wild ever since. In '07-'08 they spent double what the previous government spent so I challenge the minister once again to give us a number, how much has this government spent on its advertising?

I won't bore you with his non answer. Suffice it to say, he wanted to talk about H1N1 instead...sort of.

We are in a mess here people, but it's not being spoken of with enough emphasis, in my opinion.

I've noted some people here who are speaking out, but unless we speak out, nothing is going to change.
Write your MP's for sure, but also write the editors of newspapers and demand more coverage. I know some journo's who would love to cover this stuff, but can't unless we create a demand.
We can do that, I know we can.
References here and here.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Playing the Piano While the Economy Burns

As I've mentioned in other blog posts, Ignatieff is often confronted with the question, 'where is your policy'. Whether you believe he should be revealing one is not what I want to look at. What is confounding to me is that I rarely hear that being asked of the government, specifically as it relates to the economy and reducing the deficit created by the Conservatives.

Yes, I said created by the Conservatives. All this nonsense language about a global economic crisis, being bantered about by the government then dutifully transcribed by the media, fails to take into account the dire place we were in fiscally, before the recession. Of course what has happened to world markets has played a part in our fiscal situation, but it didn't have to be as bad as it is.

This government is not being held to account and it's about time someone started pushing the issue.

On that note, it was an interesting read to learn that Paul Martin has begun to do just that.

The Harper government has created a structural deficit and now needs to outline a clear exit strategy, says former prime minister and deficit-slayer Paul Martin.

Martin, speaking to reporters after a speech to a global economic conference in Waterloo, Ont., on Sunday, said his government left behind a $13 billion surplus and the Conservatives whittled that down to nothing before the recession even hit.

"That surplus was wiped out and more before a penny was spent on stimulus spending," Martin said.

If the surplus had been left untouched, there would have been enough money in Ottawa's coffers to cover billions of dollars of stimulus spending without going into deficit, he added.


Indeed. Odd how that is rarely mentioned in the press. It's not old news. It's directly related to where we find ourselves today. Furthermore, Flaherty and Harper are simply relying on market forces to get us out of this. That's not a plan...that is wishful thinking.

But Martin, who balanced the books as finance minister in the Jean Chretien Liberal government from 1993 to 2002, said Canadians deserve a clearer picture of what their government is going to do to eliminate the structural deficit it has created.

"It's not enough to say we will have a plan," Martin said. "The government should have a plan now and it should lay it out in front of the Canadian people."

So maybe, instead of focusing on what the Leader of the Opposition plans to do, perhaps we could get an idea of what the people who actually hold power have in store for us?

Seems reasonable to me.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

A Man Seeking an Election

Um. Oh, my!



I think he is singing to you Jack!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Dedicated to a Good Friend

For some reason, this vid has been restricted from being embedded...but please click here.

This is for a good friend of mine.

Oh, There are Differences

The meme that the is being pushed in the media now is that there is no difference between Ignatieff and Harper. It's based on um, nothing, as far as I can tell and of course it's a very old theme employed by the NDP and the Bloc at times.

As the story line goes, there is no difference between these two men and their policies. What is hilarious though, is that line is generally followed by, Ignatieff should put out some policy. So, his policies are the same, but we don't know his policies. Not terribly clever, especially when you consider there is more than one author taking this tack.

That said though, listening to his speech in the House of Commons yesterday, he laid out pretty clearly why he no longer has any confidence in the government. Did he lay out policy? No of course not, that is not what yesterday was about. But you certainly got a sense of how he would be a vastly different leader than the one currently in place, as well as a feeling for what kind of policy he would lean toward.

Should he put policy out? Well, that's the question isn't it? There are risks and rewards associated with that. As much as I'd like to see something, the chance of it being fairly debated in the current environment, with the current government, range from zero to none.

Don't get me wrong. I do not expect Ignatieff to be treated with kid gloves, but it would be nice to see some pushing in the public square for a civil dialogue on issues of import for the country.

In that respect, I thought his speech yesterday was really good strategy. He tapped into what most Canadians want from their government. That is, they expect it to be a force for the collective good. Obviously, that is not a new concept and one that the country expects, but until this speech, it hasn't been framed quite so clearly, that they are not receiving that from Harper.

Here, he started to do that by showing what a lack of vision Harper has. Indeed he went further and explained that Harper's vision, if you can call it that, is to back government out of the picture. The 'Starve the Beast' ideology is precisely what Harper is up to and I don't recall that being laid out quite so clearly before, ever. It's not a hidden agenda. It's one that is quite well known in political circles, but hasn't been laid out there for mass consumption. About bloody time it was.

Not only did he lay this out, he also revealed how it is not being challenged in the main. That is something that I want to follow and I suspect we may see some of that going forward. Here's hoping as they say, for more reality.

You've likely seen it, but here is his speech.



For the record, he got good reviews for the speech from corners I wouldn't have expected.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Truth According to the CPC

If you had any doubt as to how the Conservative party operates, (well frankly you must have been living under a rock), this story certainly makes it crystal clear.

We know that truth has no place in that party, because Tom Flanagan has been gracious enough to that point out. Tell the truth and your career is over. Do something honestly that contravenes your party line or upsets your base? Your career will stagnate.

Gordon Langdon is simply the latest in a long list of people who have had their ambitions shot down by the duplicitous Conservative Party of Canada.

Landon was dumped Monday as the Conservative candidate for Markham-Unionville after publicly musing the GTA riding was being shut out of federal infrastructure funding because it is held by a Liberal.

I wouldn't call it musing exactly. The man was a regional councillor and had intimate knowledge of how the plan was being implemented.

No surprise though, because of course he was speaking the truth and shoring up what Gerrard Kennedy has been saying for months. Oddly enough, that story, the story of how money is being unevenly distributed, doesn't seem to be a story for the MSM. Can't quite figure out why. It may be due to a shortage of resources in bureaus these days, but still, you'd think that would be a story of interest to Canadians, wouldn't you?

So, as MP's Chong, Ablonczy, Lunn, Ambrose, Gallant, etc. have learned, so has Mr. Landon. Truth has no place in the party. In fact, maybe the CPC have done him a favour, for he leaves with his integrity and 'soul' intact.

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act
~~George Orwell~~

Monday, September 28, 2009

Really?


I cannot believe that this government is once again going to drag this woman through the wringer. Well, actually I can believe it, but I'm disgusted.

Now we are only hearing one side of the story at this point but:

In one interview with the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi, Mohamud indicated she was a student at Humber College and was studying fashion design. But in another interview, she denied it and said she was only thinking about going to school at Seneca College.

Having heard her testify, it is clear that she understands and speaks English, however, it was also clear that she sometimes misunderstands questions and given the stress she was under, that is hardly surprising.

That aside for a moment though, as an astute person on twitter pointed out, it should have been pretty clear that she was from Toronto by the mere mention of Humber and Seneca College.

The documents alleged she lacked knowledge about Toronto, where she had lived for 10 years. She couldn't name Lake Ontario, and even though she took public transit to work, she had trouble explaining the acronym TTC, the Toronto Transit Commission.

Um, maybe she had trouble with the meaning of the word acronym? Have you ever listened to talk radio? I guarantee half the adoring audience couldn't define it.

I'm not going to defend every point here. I'll allow Suaad and her lawyer to come out to speak to this, but it is beyond belief that after all she went through the government, Harper and Cannon, are actually taking this route.

To try to sully her name once again, is disgraceful.

Canadians don't want an election? This Canadian does and I'd wager that Suaad Mohamud does too.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Just Because...It's Saturday

Because I miss the season/sentiment and have missed her for a very long time. Not the best quality, but there goes time...




If you don't like Janis, close your eyes and listen to the guitar. 1968, folks, (I think).

All that is old is new again.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Conservatives Breach PublicTrust - Even CPC Candidate Says So

Press Release:

A comprehensive report by the Liberal opposition shows that major infrastructure stimulus programs intended to create jobs for the unemployed have been distorted into partisan vehicles to benefit Conservative Cabinet Ministers and Conservative MPs.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pander de Jour

Oops, wrong shot...that's Harper's Starbucks photo op.

Ah, here we are. The official pander of the day. The Timmie's crowd.

Watching Harper supporters on the web, I can't help but notice just how chuffed they are by all the bizarre and frankly shameful moves that Harper has made this week. It occurred to me that he is simply preaching to, or comforting his base.

A reporter made a similar comment tonight and that made me think through my initial sense a little more.

If you look at what most sensible people are saying, not attending the Climate Conference was a major faux pas and one that clearly has pushed us to the back of the room, if not outside in the hall. But if you carry that sentiment through to it's logical conclusion, doesn't it just make the portion of his base that either denies climate change all together or sloughs it off as inconsequential, happy?

Then we have the snubbing of Pres. Obama's speech. It's no secret that a portion of his base spends all of their time hanging out with the Glenn Beck crowd, so... by not putting any significance, in perhaps one of the most significant speeches to be delivered at the UN, he makes that group smile?

Instead of staying for the important speech he goes to an announcement/photo-op at Tim Horton's? Just typing that feels ridiculous, but when you consider the content of Obama's speech and what it could mean for the direction of the UN going forward, snubbing it simply underlines Harper's known contempt for the institution, doesn't it? Again, feeding his simplistic base.

Following this line of thought, it has also occurred to me that it's a bizarre strategy to be putting stimulus money into riding's you already hold...unless of course you are concerned about losing them.

To me, if you were confident about your base, you'd be pouring money into riding's you'd like to hold. The whole, 'see how fantastic we really are' pandering. But no, that's not what they have been doing. Instead, he's saying, 'hey, I know I'm spending a ton, but see, having me in power means you aren't being ignored...I'm still your guy!'

If I conclude anything about all the odd behaviour, including the tape we saw at a rally, it's that in spite of all the bluster from party strategists and in spite of all prop's that some opinion media give Harper, the Conservative party is worried about and spending time firming up their base. Not because they are worried they will vote for another party of course, but that they won't vote at all. Only polling or reaction to grassroots dissent would seem to drive this, imo.

Interesting strategy, but I would suggest that the risk is high. Former Progressive Conservatives certainly won't be impressed and in that case, there is a good chance they will vote for another party and it sure as heck isn't the NDP.