Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Same Issue, Different Treatment

This is Mark Warner. He was the Conservative candidate for Toronto Centre. He would have been running against Bob Rae. He's now been told that he cannot run. Apparently he occasionally speaks contrary to the Con message. I'm not sure if that is because he disagrees with Michael Coren but if it is, the Con's just made a big mistake. If you aren't familiar with Michael Coren do look him up on You Tube. I'm loathe to call him a loon, because I think it's too tame a term. I think that Coren would love a Theocracy in this country, provided it was Roman Catholic.

This is Brent Barr. He was the Con candidate for Guelph. Apparently he too has been told that he cannot run. Apparently, he didn't make enough gains during the last election. Huh? He brought the con vote from 26% in 2004 to to 30% in 2006, vs the winning Lib @ 38%. (The Lib's were at 45% in 2004).

So, here we have two apparently capable people running for the Con's, yet the powers that be deem them unsuitable.

In Mr. Warner's case, I can only assume he is too "centre" and not right enough from that position to articulate Harper's vision. Toronto Centre people! Do you really think a right of centre individual has a hope in Hades in this riding? Bill Graham's old riding? Idiotic and it remains to be seen who they put in there. If she/he is more right, not a hope. If she/he is more left, laughable. If she/he touts the Party line....perfect, but no sale in this neighbourhood.

As for Mr. Barr, he is quite upset apparently. He's worked to get the Con message out, but it's not good enough I guess. He increased the con profile, but not to Harper's liking. This guy is loyal and devastated.

So who do the Con's want? We don't know yet, but we do know they want an election.

Here's the thing. When the Lib's look at their candidates, it's all "ooohhh, aaahhh...they are in so much trouble, they are resorting to naming candidates" so say the media. When the Con's do it, it's a post script.

When the Con's abstain from a vote, it's mentioned. When the Lib's abstain, it's wall-to wall, front page news. "Party in Disarray", "Mutiny in the Caucus", etc, etc. This has been the narrative since since Martin lost. Do the media seek out Dion supporters? No. Do they choose critic's that have something positive to present to the public on their journalist panels? No. Even that so called bastion of Liberalism, the CBC, has no one who speaks for the Party. Newman, relatively fair is still touting the con lines he's been fed. Mansbridge? Please, he practically giggles as he goes to Chantal Hebert. CTV? Well we all know where they stand.

It's pretty funny to me that the right continue to suggest that the media is "left". It's not people, it simply is not. They trot that line out because it has resonance. It's long been used by the Limbaugh's of the world and it's crept up here. It's absolute fallacy and fantasy, though it's being consumed. Lord Black's perfect dream. (Note how he's retreating and groveling to Canada now. Apparently we're not that bad. LOL)

So, how to get our message out?

I don't at this point have the answer, but we have to get credible people out there who can shoot these theories down on the first take. I know media go for the blood, but that in itself says something. The Con's reduce all to black and white. Perhaps because the media see their words written in that literal context, they are happy to spew from that narrow view. Whatever happened to grey? You know, that place where you actually analyse and seek the under-story?

Does no one exist in this realm anymore? Me thinks not.

Update - Kady O'Malley speaks to the issue here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Trick that Wanted to be a Treat

It's tough to miss the political strategy involved in today's mini-budget. First of all, in spite of Flaherty standing in the House and saying that this would be just an update, (lied again), indeed it is a mini-budget. That said they may still get a bounce in the polls as a result but I think it will be short lived and settle back to where it was, or has landed according to this poll.

I'm quite sure that many Lib's will be upset with Dion for not taking the Government down over this but his last vote didn't appear to hurt him or the Party. Every interview on the street, no matter the political stripe, said they were glad that Dion did not provoke an election.

Indeed, it gives the Government and Jumping Jack an opportunity to take swipes at Dion but it also puts him in the public eye. In fact it gives him a chance to explain some policy positions, which he rarely has a chance to do. I enjoyed his stance tonight. We all knew he wasn't going to vote this down tomorrow but by articulating that the Liberals will choose their own time to bring down the government, he insinuates that they are in the drivers seat. The Con's can try to manufacture an election by opening the car door, but the Lib's have the keys. The Con's typically, cut off their nose to spite their face by putting term limits in place so dependent on the polls the Con's will continue to construct their own demise if they deem it favourable.

Back to the polls. First of all, this "North Star" reference is lamer than all the other "cute" names they come up with for policy or just general rhetoric. Don't you always think they are speaking to 5 year olds when they name their programs? Maybe it's just me. Anyway, the poll found that in spite of overwhelming satisfaction with the economy:

Decima placed the Tories at 33 per cent in overall support - three points lower than in the last election, down slightly from earlier this month, but still four points ahead of the Liberals.

So, the Lib's went up a point and are only trailing the Con's by 1 point when you take the MOE into account. In Quebec, they are even, with a surge for the PQ. Poor Bruce Anderson. Try as he might, he cannot twist the news for the Con's. In fact, he demonstrates that in trying to twist the Liberal record, the Con's have conned no one.

Just last year, the scandal-plagued Liberals were turfed from office when unemployment was already at a 30-year low.

People aren't stupid, they live their reality in spite of what Governments say.

I know many will Libs will disagree with me but I think Dion has done the right thing. He's given himself and the Party more time to pounce on an issue that matters to Canadians.

What the Con's put out today was risky. The GST cut will buy most Canadians a pizza a month. It's a foolish move and one that I know is popular, but will amount to little if our dollar continues to rise. The Con credo of encouraging spending versus investment and savings, has yet to bear fruit. Furthermore, Flaherty was clear today that there will be no big spending programs under this Government. So, nothing for environment, nothing for Child Care and Early Development, nothing that comes close to Kelowna, indeed nothing. They are raiding the coffers and leaving little if anything for social spending. Good luck with that when Canadians are told the truth.

That is their goal of course. We've known that for a long time. They are determined to change the face of this country. What they are putting in place will paint a much clearer picture of their true motive and we'll be doing the painting.

That is why I think what Dion announced today was the right thing to do. The more entrenched the Con's get in their ideology...remember, not supported by 60% of the country, the better the chance the Lib's have at presenting their case.

I know media is all over this and will present the Flaherty move as brilliant. But there are times in life when you have to sit back and think, watch, to see how your opponent is making his moves. It's not as important when weighing strategy to think of the immediate. It's far more important to look to the future and plan.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Who Writes the Headlines?

Yes, yes, I know, it is not the reporter's who write the headlines. I also know they are written to entice and provoke, fair enough. This article however, entitled MacKay calls for more NATO troops in the south, sounds tough but solicited a big yawn from me.

I mean, haven't we been doing this for a long time now? The Government says we have, so what's new? Other NATO countries don't really care what we say and interestingly, we read what the Dutch Minister said:

The Dutch defence minister opened the talks on Wednesday with a call for other European countries to shoulder their fair share of the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
"There is no such thing as a free ride to peace and security," said Eimert van Middelkoop, the defence minister.
"It is not about what we are willing to say for a safer and more just world," van Middelkoop said. "It ultimately depends on what we are willing to do. Fair risk and burden sharing will remain the leading principle for this alliance."

We also heard what the US said:

U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates cranked up the pressure on wavering countries earlier in the week, with criticism of NATO countries who failed to provide the extra troops promised last year.
"I am not satisfied that an alliance whose members have over two million soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen cannot find the modest additional resources that have been committed for Afghanistan," Gates said Monday during a visit to Ukraine.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've seen nothing in print of what MacKay said. He tells us he was strong and we all know what a man of his word he is...gag.

When Major-General Lewis MacKenzie is in doubt,

"They (Canada) are starting to play hardball now diplomatically, so I'll give it a little bit of time, but it's not very encouraging," retired general Lew MacKenzie told Question Period.

there is a problem.

This is what the Liberals have been encouraging forever. Clarity.

A retired Dutch general told The Canadian Press in an interview that Canada shouldn't expect NATO to offer more help in Kandahar until the Canadian decision on extending the mission is imminent.
"As with the Dutch, they will do just enough to keep them in place," said Maj.-Gen Frank van Kappen

These are confusing times. Hillier wants to beef up the army and being in conflict is the best way to do that. Harper wants to wear the "macho" badge and an extension is a way to do that. That said, I do not believe either of these men are willing to place Canadian lives over their ambition.

What I do think however, is that ambition seems to have clouded reality and common sense. When do we ever hear honest discourse or even argument as to what is going on there? When is it explained how the Pashtuns are involved and aren't going to disappear, ever? When will clarity be drawn between al-Qu'ida and the Taliban? When will they state the reality of where the 9-11 terrorists came from?

My guess ia never. Clarity doesn't speak to immediate need. It does not serve any individual's purpose.

It does serve a global purpose though and the sooner we get there, the better off we will be.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

One Way Conversation

Well, we now learn that the John Manley panel will be setting up a website to allow "we the people" input.

Isn't that fantastic? There won't be any public hearings of course, because, well...they have a website!

Sigh. It's perhaps a bit early to comment, because it's not really clear what this website will be. At the moment it appears to be to be a forum, through which you can submit your thoughts, just as you could to your MP or the Government. If it is open to all Canadians, other than gauging the mood of the public, (good information to gather in case of an election, but that can be done through polling), what purpose does that really serve? The voices of Canadians should of course be heard but what effect will they have on the larger decisions to be made?

Here's the effect they can have. I can see a narrative being written to better explain, (read sell) the mission by appealing to our compassion or patriotism or whatever shows up as the "burr under the saddle". If the site is indeed a one-way affair, then I think there is an argument to made for that possibility. Too cynical for you? These are cynical times my friends. Call me crazy, but I cannot believe that Manley has free rein. Even if he does, everyone on the panel is a hawk, so you know that it's going to take the shape of a sales pitch. For the record, I wouldn't want the panel to be made up of all doves either. It's time for balanced discourse.

I'm not of the mind that we should just abandon Afghanistan. I am adamant however that we've done our share militarily in Kandahar are due to rotate out of there. Hillier of course wants to stay, as was evidenced by his comments yesterday. They were direct comments and unless you live in a cave, he was sending a message.

Here's the thing. Once again their is no public dialogue and it's long over-due in this country. There is a sales campaign going on. Oh, there's banter on the blogs, but that is usually filled with uninformed individuals spewing rhetoric like, "fight 'em there or fight 'em here" or "the Taliban will take over and beat women" or "you must support the terrorists and hate our troops". Ridiculous stuff.

No, what is needed is a real dialogue, in fact, it maybe too late. Watching the "Reasonable Accommodation" hearings, it's clear there is little understanding of what is going on in the world, it's impact on Canada in the form of it's immigrants and sadly a complete lack of tolerance rooted in fear and ignorance. So myopic are some that they draw parallels between completely disparate scenarios. How we have become so dumbed down is beyond me. I mean no offense to our American friends, but it would seem that we are not immune to what we often accuse them of, a la Rick Mercer Speaking to Americans.

We shall see where this site goes. For my part, my position is this. Troops rotate out of Kandahar, (and replaced), by 2009. Before that happens though, a total reassessment of the strategy there. Much more work and pressure on Pakistan, cutting the US off at the knees vis a vis their opium strategy and a firm training plan to get a national army and police force up and running. Continued NGO support, financial and otherwise. A much stronger focus on assistance with their, I stress their Democratic reforms. That may entail what we don't want to hear, including power sharing with those we're trying to oust. This is a long term shift. Looking at that country's history, you have to know it's going to be a long go.

Will we have these conversations? I don't know, so far it's a one way conversation.

Cynical times indeed.

BTW, looking at body language, what does that picture tell you?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Going Forward

Well, the week played out pretty much as expected. The media has been beating the "why did you sit down?" drum, but Dion has held his own.

He made the right decision. As much as I would like to send this government packing, the TS was not the moment.

Keeping the House sitting is a much better strategy. The media seems to roll their eyes at the con election spending story, but I think there is something there. The media still does not speak to Dion about real issues, they are still consumed with "gossip" but there are greater issues that would give Canadians more interesting information.

Here's what is odd. They consider their fight with Harper, "inside baseball". If there is real in-fighting in the Liberal Party that is fair game but should that be the sole focus? Often, commentators rail about the Lib's not having any policy. When is the last time you saw a reporter ask Dion about policy? As it relates to the media and the Lib's, they report inside baseball and do Canadians a disservice.

Today of course, there was Hillier apparently contradicting the Government as it relates to Afghanistan. I know he was all over the airwaves saying he did not do that, but there is no question that our mission there is confusing to most Canadians. We've been told, 2009 in Parliament, 2011 in the Throne Speech and 2017 by Hillier.

To be frank, I think even Hillier is optimistic. I do not think the conflict will ever stop, but to be sure it's better to have a National military prepared in that country than not because then it's up to them.

Anyway, I think a sitting Parliament can better keep Harper's feet to the fire.

Many on the right will suggest that the Lib's and other opposition party's are using the military as a political football. Absolute BS. If the opposition is not able to question the government of the day on such a serious foreign policy issue, why have a parliament?

This is where the con's are going wrong in my view. Secrets and hiding will not play well to the view of Harper. Perhaps you noticed today just how many con's hid behind the Manley panel. Many of us predicted this the day it was announced.

So we know the con strategy and the Lib's have their own. The more the Lib's expose the con's as hiding, the better. The list is growing.

By keeping the House sitting and having the Lib's pushing the con's, will bring up an issue that the Lib's cannot ignore, nor support. That's when we go. The GST will not be it, because it will be buried in what we can defend.

Harper will test that theory, but he has the burden of not contravening his so called "sell by" date, term limits. It'll be tough to push an election without being obvious.

Interesting times to be sure.

Update - Here and here.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Not a Death Threat...but a Preference That I Should Die

What on earth have we come to? The "right " in this country suddenly thinks it's fine to suggest that someone should be dead, lest they be allowed to proclaim their stance.

Here's a recent comment on my blog:

Anonymous said...
If you have indeed emptied out your pool for the winter, you should take a hearty dive into it.
6:20 PM

This has to do with my recent Arar post. I guess this is someone who actually believes Arar should just shut up now.

How do these ignorant people not understand the import of what this man went through? Yes, I said ignorant on purpose, because that is who and what they are.

Do you really think you are going to shut me up with childish dares? Read people, learn. Give your brain a chance to engage the other side by learning what they think.

You know, an NDP MP laughed at a Lib today because he quoted Flanagan's book. He said he'd prefer to read what he understands. He suggested Naomi Klein. How anyone could be so myopic is beyond me. I'm reading both books. I want to read both sides to understand each.
Looking in the mirror tells us little about the world.

Cowardly anon, I suggest you go back to your FOX-hole. You'll find comfort there and warmth...the last reference you'll have to figure out on your own.

Vision vs Opportunism

When you compare and contrast Dion and Harper, it's not difficult see the vast differences. You see differences in the men, specifically in terms of civility, honour and integrity and you see differences in how they approach the issues facing this country.

As I've written previously, the situation in Quebec is disturbing and seems to be getting worse with each passing day. Harper's closest ally in Quebec is the ADQ, who of course capitalised on the whole Hérouxville debacle earlier this year and brought this sordid, regressive view into the national spotlight.

Harper for his part, fueled the argument with his whole "Quebec is a Nation" ploy. Even Con supporters cannot deny that Harper is desperately looking for votes in Quebec.

Yes, of course all politicians are looking to increase their vote share there and elsewhere, but Harper seems to blithely plod along in his lumbering gait, without thinking through the consequences. Gains are more important to him than actual future results of what he and his gang present in the Commons. Witness how many changes have been made to what Flaherty has presented. Witness the number of amendments made to most of their bills, not necessarily to take Opposition views into account, more so to correct the errors made by an inexperienced bunch more concerned with rushing their ideology through than making good law.

When you think about the "Quebec as a nation" resolution, it's worth noting what Dion has said:

For many years, I have maintained that we Quebecers are a nation, by which I mean a community that is proud of its own identity. Mr. Harper’s office consulted me before a resolution was put forward in the House of Commons last November to recognize Quebec as a nation. I voted in favour of the resolution, but my vote was accompanied by a proviso warning people about some aspects of Mr. Harper’s political manoeuvring. The English version of his resolution said “the Québécois form a nation”. This suggests an ethnic definition of a nation, that does not include all inhabitants of Quebec, whereas the French wording does not mean the same. It was clearly a attempt to allow Conservative and Bloc politicians to interpret the resolution and comment on it in their own different ways, which of course they did. This kind of political manoeuvring is not in the interest of Canadians and it deserves our disapproval. My Quebec nation includes all inhabitants of Quebec.

By way of contrast, Harper could not care less about the people of Quebec, all the people of Quebec. No, he was interested in pandering, period.

Sadly at this point, we really only see these contrasts in print. Harper obviously gets more press and more favourable press. He's the PM. It's odd though. When Harper is covered, the media tells us what he's announced, not that it's a re-announcement, not where the objective originated, was cut then announced again under a fraudulent Con guise. No, they are more focused on internal battles within the Lib's, real or imagined. Both riveting and, oh so pertinent.

Harper obviously still has that bad taste of "opposition coverage" in his mouth, so he is playing up his role as PM for all it's worth. I cannot figure out why the media still fawn, without reporting all compelling details but perhaps they too will shake themselves out of this inane lull and focus on reality before it's too late. I'm not a country music fan, but perhaps a few listens to the Dixie Chicks, "I'm not Ready to Make Nice", might be in order.

Not much governing going on, but ton's of announcements of Liberal plans are. Not much governing, but hey, let's "play" election.

One man has a vision of this country, the other has opportunism in his sights. His intent is to bring about an ideology that is not only regressive, it's wrong, wrong, wrong.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Punt the Pundits Aside for a Minute

With every day that passes, we read and hear more of the same uninspired blather from pundits who took their cue long ago, from the juvenile ads the Conservatives put out.

Not just pundits on the right, but those on the left as well. They all claim to have good inside info. Whatever.

I'm sure there are some malcontents in the Party, but when do you ever get a group that size together and get unanimity? I didn't see anyone vote again the Throne Speech tonight, did you?

Do you really imagine that all involved in the Conservative Party are content? Regular con's certainly aren't. Gerry Nichols and Ezra Levant for example have gone out of their way to point out how Harper is not conforming to their needs. You have to know that these people also exist within the Con caucus, but the media cannot get to them. Harper's "firewall" has certainly been employed as it relates to caucus.

All of that said, in the end, I wonder what really matters when we actually go to the people? Polls after all are compiled based on the current climate. Harper indeed was successful in painting an image of Dion, but it's one that is not based in truth, nor fact. Given the clay feet that they based there campaign on, you have to know it will crumble as Dion gets out there, in an election situation. It also is quite telling as to how frightened the Con's are about Dion.

You don't see that written anywhere. We did at the beginning of Dion's Leadership, but now you see the buy-in of media. So, that said, this was an interesting take to read today.

I do think that if Dion is out there, with policy, he'll resonate. Think about it. He's gone to the most unlikely venues and has been well received.

Perhaps it's time to stop and think about what we have to offer, rather than follow the current polls, based on current information.

That information is going to change and in my opinion, we should be spending our energy on shaping that, rather than fretting about what will be the past with each passing day.

Harper: "I find it encouraging..."

Harper, in response to the comments made by Condoleezza Rice today, stated that he was encouraged by them. Why?

All she said is that the US didn't communicate well with the Canadians. That could mean anything from they didn't make their case clear, they didn't tell Canadian officials or they basically did not care what Canada thought.

What is new about that? What is encouraging about that? From Arar's perspective, I can understand that he would be pleased that Rice has finally said something but the Canadian Government has no reason to be encouraged. Indeed, the Canadian Government already knew that. They signed a deal, with the US, (with Bill Graham), that said in the future they would notify Canada if they were deporting a citizen. Isn't that comforting? I've no doubt it is the best that Graham could hope to achieve at the time, but time has moved on.

It's quite clear that the US has an interest in continuing to believe that Arar is either a terrorist or associated with terrorism. It certainly tells us that they are prepared to accept faulty evidence over fact and furthermore, they know that their evidence will not hold up to scrutiny . Think about that for a second and think of all the measures that have been put in place to limit a fair trial in that country, let alone access to information in the US.

It also should give us pause here in this country. While I'll say that our system has proved more transparent, with new legislation being brought back by the con's, there is reason to be concerned.

For Harper to say he is encouraged, tells me they are past this issue and have no interest in pursuing it further. Apparently there was a meeting with US Ambassador Wilkins today and this was not mentioned.

Given that we will all be subject to our personal information being given to the US when we fly certain routes over the US, we should not find comfort here. Our Government has been unable to convince the US of anything, even the protection of our Charter rights. Given the apparently low threshold of evidence required by the paranoid government in the US, our Government is not doing enough.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hypocrisy... Again and Again

I suppose I understand why the masses do not get into this stuff. The Senate and it's worthiness. It's pretty mundane, but the hypocrisy that I saw concerning the Con's today was stunning. Talk about being all over the board, which is their most common claim against the Lib's. What happened today was worth many columns. Will that happen? I somehow doubt it but it deserves coverage.

The regular, (as in daily), diatribe from the Con's, is how ineffective and unaccountable the Senate is. Every day, this comes out of almost every Minister's and Con backbencher's mouth.

Today however, they chose to reintroduce a Bill, (which is all they seem to do these days), to the Senate. Not the House, but the Senate that they ridicule each and every day. There may be an ulterior motive here, but I've yet to ponder what that might be. The bottom line is they are putting their trust in the Senate, to pass this Bill. The very same Senate that they believe can't pass the gravy at a family dinner.

They either have confidence in the "other" place or they don't. They look scattered and the Lib's should make a point of telling everyone that.

Compound that with Hugh Segal's speech today, and you just have to wonder what page they are on.

His suggestion, is one without context. Tell me who in this country really understands what the Senate does, outside of we wonks? Anyone?

Good grief, a national referendum on procedure? Me thinks he's smoking too much of what he'd prefer to ban.

How about an honest discussion of how our systems works, the nuts and bolts of the stuff. Yes, there is responsibility for citizens to know this, but they don't. That is fact.

So, on a day when the Con's sent a bill to the "other" place in an effort to show it's relevance, one who resides there and one of their own, throws out the suggestion that they may have none.

Which party is disjointed?

Give It a Rest

Can someone explain to me what these past their "sell-by date" insiders think they are accomplishing with such articles?

Aside from lamely attempting to maintain their relevance, this day-in, day-out pontificating is absolutely ridiculous.

Between Heard, Copps, and Gibson, they have done more to reinforce just how old and stale they are. I know Gibson has a better reputation than Heard, but it's tough to see that in his writing. I mean really, what did he say that was new or novel? Nothing. These musings have been articulated for weeks now and played every which way to Sunday. He has nothing new to say, but has a need to say it anyway.

Why it's it always these kind of Liberals who are trotted out on political shows? Aside from partisan panels, it's rare to see a Liberal, especially from the past, actually speaking about what headway has been made in the party. If you believe no progress is going on, you're licking the inside of the Kool-Aid package, not just drinking it.

Something tells me that the youth in the Party could not care less about these people drawing on their ancient "conspiracy" experience. Do they actually think they are helping things with this kind of prattle, are they just so committed to whomever they backed, (publicly or not), or are they just so vainglorious that they cannot help themselves?

My vote would be for the latter, but what ever the reason, I say, cut it out!

Layton apparently said that Dion was giving the con's a majority. No. I would argue that the old Liberal guard is, and if they are really comfortable with that, I hope to see them campaigning for Harper, whenever the election comes.

At least that would be honest.

Update - The con's aren't immune to this either.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Why So Silent?

This doesn't seem to be on the Federal radar, but I find it really troubling.

And if Canada can require new immigrants to speak one of the country's official languages before handing them citizenship, she asked, why wouldn't Quebec -- where the official language is French -- require French?

Um, because as much as you'd like to be, you are not a country?

Failing to learn French would bar an immigrant from holding public office at any level, raising funds for political parties or petitioning the National Assembly for redress of a grievance.

Since when in this country is a citizen not allowed to petition the government?

For the record, the ADQ supports the notion of Quebec citizenship given Harper's "Quebec as a Nation", ploy . That could be interesting in a Federal election.

I also find some of what is coming out of the "Reasonable Accommodation" debate in Quebec troubling. I know it can be argued that getting this out in the open is healthy and I suppose there is something to that, but I'm shocked at the open bigotry and racism coming from these debates. That's not of course confined to Quebec. A quick visit to some BT blogs will tell you that these loathe some traits are alive and well across Canada.

Obviously, there have always been bigots and racists in this country. I don't imagine the British had too many compliments for the French in the beginning and vice versa. Indeed, each new wave of immigrants arriving in this country were met with resistance, but with time we worked through it and have become an incredible country as a result.

In my view, this has shifted since 9-11. Sweeping generalisations began to creep into daily dialogue and media reports. Governments began using language that gave credence to certain terms. Indeed even our own current government, (while in opposition) called Maher Arar a terrorist. They currently have no qualms in calling the Official Opposition while in the Commons, "Taliban Supporters", when responding to important questions. Our PM sunk to a new low, by quoting a questionable story about someone related to a Liberal MP, insinuating that he was linked to the Air India bombing.

Somehow, it seems to be okay these days to resort to this disgusting behaviour. There was a story this morning out of the States that said nooses are showing up in the the south again for goodness sakes.

This is a global issue. We've seen it in the European Union, (France, the Netherlands and Switzerland come to mind), Australia, in the States and elsewhere. To see it in Canada is really disturbing to me. Something has to shift. This is not who we are and not what we want to promote.

It's a shift to the melting pot theory out of the US, which is a dismal failure. We have done integration well people. Call it a mosaic or a tapestry, it worked, until now. Some Harper followers are of the mind, "conform fully or get out".

That is not my Canada.

Getting rid of Howard and Bush is a step in the right direction. Sarkozy and Harper must be next. Let's expose the bigots for what they are and swerve back to the right track.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Con Game

As the Governor General was reading the Throne Speech, we of course had news that day that the crime rate has once again dropped, year over year and in fact has been on a steady decline for the past 3 decades.

That of course doesn't jibe with Harper's "keep 'em scared" agenda, so of course he went ahead to create a ridiculous omnibus crime Bill. Imagine a PM telling the public that crime is on the rise and must be addressed, when the truth states the contrary? Perhaps I missed it, but on all the political shows I watched, the hosts focused on the Bill and how Dion would respond, rather than stating the obvious. Crime is down so why is this necessary?

What's really odd about this Bill is that they sound so ridiculous trying to defend the move. I suppose that doesn't bother them as they must be used to that by now. I'm sure to their way of thinking, this makes them look "tough on crime".

In an interesting move today, the Liberals stated once again that they are willing to fast track the bill. The con's can continue to suggest that the opposition is slowing down their crime agenda, but it's patently false.

This whole "crime" agenda doesn't end there though. A prison review panel is due to report to government. They will recommend scrapping mandatory release. Like most things, this is a complicated issue. Sadly, it's yet another one that the con's can put simple words to. They can woo the masses with simplistic statements like, "who could argue with not letting criminals before they've done their time?". That misses the point of course, but they cannot speak to what is important.

Simplistic is obviously the modus operandi of the Conservatives. 5 points, keep it simple, that's all the people of this country can digest. Smart politics? Maybe, but it is such an insult to who we are, I'm surprised it works. I know we are in the age of quick, quick, sound bite, next...but that does not mean that we cannot digest larger, grander concepts. Good grief, anyone who has a life knows that we balance complex issues every day.

The point is, the con's choose complex issues and frame them in terms that make your life easier. They are basically saying, we won't bother you with details, trust us, we'll look after you. Interesting coming from a Party who out of the other side of their mouths say, "we trust you to look after yourselves and we don't believe that government should do that". Hypocrisy is not something they shy away from.

What is most disturbing to me, is that this issue and many others have been reduced to political posturing, strategy and tactics. The important and much larger picture, Good Governance for instance, is being ignored.

Where is the question, is this good for the country? That seems to have escaped every one's purview, specifically those who should be asking the tough questions.

Bottom line, the con's are implementing flawed legislation, by stealth. This is very bad for the country my friends. That's not meant to frighten, it's truth.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Well, it's been quite an interesting few weeks hasn't it? I've been mulling them over for the past couple of days. I've been thinking about the media, their reaction to Dion, the oh so many polls and what the future may hold.

None of us has a crystal ball of course, but let's take a look at the past and venture a guess about the future.

The media has been focused on Liberal "dirty laundry", much to the delight of the BT's and other c/Conservative supporters. As I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that they had little else to focus on. Harper shut parliament down and as is widely known, he also shut down all caucus members from speaking to the press. Not that there weren't any scandals to report about, vis a vis, the Conservatives. There were and they were reported on, but they weren't quite as juicy as what went on within the Liberal party. If any solid info comes from these investigations, I believe we'll see that change.

Harper, if nothing else, is tight on strategy. It's interesting to me that the Harper supporters trot out the line, "the Lib's want power at all costs", when it's quite obvious, that is Harper's driving force.

What political party wouldn't want that? They want to see their vision of this country implemented because they believe it's the right way to go. Gawd, even jumping Jack believes he's right up there. In my opinion, this guy has jumped ship. Honest to goodness, he's now become this craven vote getter, which smacks the face of all that he calls holy. Grassroots? Jack left those behind long ago.

There are differences though. Canada is a liberal country and Steve's intent is to change that. He is doing it by stealth and he is banking on the right mix of fear and policy announcements to get Canadians to buy it.

Jack?...well he doesn't have a hope. The country as a whole is not that liberal. He'll appeal to people who don't have a full grasp on the issues, (through naivete, not stupidity) and tug at those heart-strings. The demographics of this country do not stand him in good stead.

I think Dion did well today, by writing his version of a Throne Speech. He gave us a glimpse of policy. A TS of course is not meant to be specific, but if you contrast and compare, Harper is sticking to his grade 3 approach, "talk to the people in simple terms". While I personally find it insulting, I think there is merit in what someone said on Duffy's show last night. Dion by contrast can be too complicated, use words in a fashion that does not resonate, in spite of how true they may be.

So...the future. I think there is an opportunity here.

Dion, according to Susan Delacourt, listened. John Moore, suggests that the Soap Opera is as valid as creationism. Both are right in my opinion. Dion must hone his "political" listening skills and the news consumer should watch what they are being fed.

We still have giddy partisans, writing stories, Don Martin, a nice guy I'm sure and Andrew Coyne, who is probably a nice guy too, but he's been on this same theme since the Conservatives came to power.

The intrigue of "the Hill" will push forward. There will be stumbles and bumbles on both sides. It's up to us to tell media what we want. It's up to us to tell government what we want.

In the end, it's up to us.

Who do you think will listen?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Which is It?


When I first saw Liberal MP Susan Kadis raise the fact that some of her constituents were asking how the Government gained information that prompted a card to be sent to them on a holiday, it made me uncomfortable. I thought I'd wait a bit, because these stories are often fraught with posturing. I understand why the Lib's raised it, but I needed more info.

I suppose I still do need more info, but this tells us a bit more as does this.

Here's the problem. The Government of the day is having a tough time separating themselves from their Party. The Government website is so "Con" , it comes close to propaganda. Con's will balk of course but that in itself says something.

So, I'll reconsider the articles and think that perhaps there is a story here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Are the Stars Realigning?

Well finally some good news!

Imagine my surprise to hear Bob Fife and Mike Duffy actually saying something hopeful about Stephane Dion. (There is a video clip on the right hand side of the link.)

Getting Garneau back is a very good move. It, on it's own of course, will not reverse all that ails the Liberals in Quebec, but it is a good start.

There seems to be a genuine recognition of what they have done wrong and what they must concentrate on. I think this is a good sign, a very good sign in fact.

Today, once again, the media were tough on the decision made by Dion yesterday, preferring to describe his decision as craven rather than any honest analysis of what the man is facing. Tough guy Harper on the other hand, was lauded as being a great strategist.

Dion reaching out to Garneau, I think tells us a little bit more about the resignation of Proulx. It was reported that he found out that Dion was shopping around for a new Quebec lieutenant and that caused his resignation. That may be fact, but if indeed he was not doing his due diligence in the province, I don't see looking for someone who can do the job more effectively as a bad thing. Having been in business, a lifetime ago, I did that often. What is revealing here is that Proulx and two potential candidates for his job, Coderre and Rodríguez, supported Ignatieff. Maybe the rumours therefore, have some basis to them and it's about time they were called on it. Unlike the media I do not think that there is move aground to displace Dion immediately but I do think that these three have yet to get over their loss. My humble advice to Ignatieff? Reign these self-interested politicians in. They in my opinion, would be the most likely leaks from the Party. I'm not sure how you confirm that. Perhaps tell them something bogus and watch it make the news?

Anyway, Garneau is back in and Dion can be credited with that.

Have the stars realigned? Let's just say they are moving in a positive direction at the moment.

Update - Here is a thoughtful article, forwarded to me by Gayle.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

We Had a Choice to Make...We Made It

My personal opinion is, it is now the time to put this behind us and rally. Enough already with the shoulda, coulda.

There were arguments to be made on both sides and both were compelling. A decision has been taken and if we want this Party to go forward, it's time we respected that decision.

So, how to go forward?

I think Dion made clear what he objects to, but he wasn't Jack Layton-like, in that he cited where the government included some good things, or at the very least items we can and should support. That admission contributes an element of sincerity, integrity and honesty, versus the NDP brinksmanship.

I get the hawks and the doves argument, but maybe we can extend that analogy to include another bird, the owl. I know, I know, that conjures images of the egg-head, but consider that for a moment. Harper is no dummy and he has great strategists, aligned to his cause.

Polls be damned as it relates to leadership. These polls are no different than polls that had Harper in the same position. Worse even.

To the hawks, I say you're consuming media without analysis. You're believing what the con's are putting out and the media is reporting on. Do you have a point, ie, perception is reality? Yes. What you've not done however, imo, is given any chance for that perception to shift, nor do you seem to support that.

Dion did what he had to and I believe the Lib's will take them down, when it is more sound to do so. That includes you hawks.

Harper will fall on a Bill at a time when we are better prepared.

Donate. That will be important, but the media has spun that aspect into a frenzy. If an election is called, all bets are off. We have a playing field that will be fought on level ground, financially.

In my mind, it's better to fell them on a real issue and thereby give the
Lib's a chance to show how they are different, much different from the con's, to Canadians .

Whether you agree or disagree about the timing, now is the time to unite.

Monday, October 15, 2007

We Didn't Mean It...Really

I am sure everyone has read this story by now, but apparently, the government has decided to scrap the plan.

Well, why wouldn't they? As petulant as this PM has been, the media have followed him around like puppies looking for a reward and overall they have not held him or the government to account. His coverage has been pretty damn good.

Had I been one of them, I would have shunned him at the National Press Gallery, but nope, they were there in droves and even stated they were dying to ask what prompted the move, but refrained. Pant, pant, where's my treat?

Consider that every Con spokesperson, from the PM on down...wait, I guess that's really just the PM and the "spinners", (okay, some select cabinet people who have been given enough treats to stay on message) is constantly speaking to the fact that they passed all of their priorities. The "got the job done" line is rarely challenged.

Instead of just putting the usual Liberal counter-points out there, I'll ask this question. If indeed they had accomplished all they set out to do, why would they be telling us that they need a Throne Speech to address what they were unable to, wait for it...get done?

Come on. The media do not challenge. On the Environment front for example, I just heard an ad on radio that was completely misleading. You would think that they placed hard caps on all industry, yesterday, and GHG's will start dropping tomorrow.

I don't expect the media to challenge an ad specifically, but they allow people like Baird to make these claims, without pointing out how ridiculous they are.

By the same token, I would say that the media do not challenge Dion either. What I mean is, they never ask him about policy. Their sole focus is on discord within the party. That's the nonsense stuff, but it's easily consumed and they seem to be thrilled with this narrative. That's not to say that things are peachy internally, but there is more going on. Where's the intellectual curiousity about that? They are quick to say that Dion has no policy, but then never proceed to probe him on that front.

In defense of the media. Had this "Shoe Store" project proceeded, I would have been out there with those in the media who would have protested. The idea was both paranoid and vainglorious. In fact, that may be a good description of Mr. Harper.

One last thing. If one more person in the media, (or another line of work that shows up on/in media), to suggest that Canadians do not care about them and what they do, I am going to scream.

We saw Burma shut down media. We see daily what government controlled media results in. We see our media here as a fundamental component of our democracy.

Yes. We care! In fact we more than care. We expect you to take your responsibility seriously.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

This Could Be Interesting

The Conservative riding association in Northern Nova Scotia, has apparently decided to back Bill Casey, in spite of Harper's edict last week.
Interesting move. They are hoping that Harper changes his mind. Somehow I just don't see that happening.
What is a little curious though, is why Casey would want to go back, under Harper? Obviously, he can be much more effective under the Conservative banner, but still, having been treated so badly, particularly last week, that caucus would be a mighty chilly place to go back to.
Perhaps he feels vindicated, but Harper, who Preston Manning has said always thinks he's the smartest man in the room, surely wouldn't want someone around that made him back down, nor one who caused him so much grief.
The other thing that in this story that I find odd, is the fact that I've never read the details of the plan. Apparently, nothing was drafted or signed. MacDonald was quite crafty during his interviews in Ottawa, suggesting that he couldn't explain it because it was far too complicated, for we the audience. Did Nova Scotia really get what Casey was asking for? If anyone has more information on this I'd be interested.
Back to the matter at hand, I'd be shocked if Harper allows Casey to run as a Con. Casey's biggest sin wasn't his vote, it was breaking with the "almighty unified message", that is the life blood of Harper's strategy.
I imagine if they are looking for a new candidate and they were running an ad, it would contain the line, No independent thinkers need apply.
You know, no matter how much I like this guy and wish he'd join the Lib's, I admire just how convicted he is.
Update - I just heard a news report that Casey still doesn't think that Harper lived up to his word. The report also said, the riding association will stick with Casey, but they are urging the PM to reconsider. Hmmm, and Independent with an election "machine" behind him. Interesting indeed.
Steve - Has a great succinct post on this as well.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

In for a Penny, In for a Pound(ing)?

Had you asked me yesterday, I would have said that it would be tough to make Dion's fight any harder. As happens often in my life however, I stand corrected.

After reading this and this, it would seem that there is some mysterious star alignment out there, determined to give Dion the fight of his life.

I don't know how or if this book will have a major impact on Dion's fortunes, but certainly raising the spectre of division within the ranks, makes his life more difficult.

I suppose it could be argued that he could cite that as being a thing of the past and show concrete examples of how things have changed, but the media are obsessed with the "in-fighting" meme. I don't think it would be noticed, no matter what he said. They do not follow him. Too sorry they.

While my honest desire is for unbiased, insightful, reporting, at this moment in time, it would be nice to find a reporter sympathetic to Dion. I'm not suggesting that either of these writers is not. In fact, I think they are simply telling us what a gossip-fest this book is going to be. The fact remains however, that the timing is not good.

Well, one thing I do know for sure, Dion is no coward. I understand that is how the con's would like to portray him, but that does not add up with the facts about the man.

I guess we are about to see how honed his "avalanche survival" skills are.

Shrewd, But Not a Death Knell

In Don Martin's well written article this morning, he refers to Harper's latest move as being not only shrewd, but:

... by filling the chair slot with John Manley, the deputy prime minister who supervised the Afghanistan mission launch under the Chretien Liberals, well, that elevates the announcement into the strategic realm of evil genius.

In reading the article, you can practically hear Martin giggling with delight at how our crafty PM outsmarted the Lib's. Indeed, he makes some good points, but I do not think his conclusions are quite as airtight as he makes out.

For instance:

Yes, yes, there are other members, including, perish the thought, former television personality Pam Wallin.

But this will likely be called The Manley Report when it's released in five months and that puts its recommendations under a Liberal flag that current Liberal leader Stephane Dion will find difficult, if not impossible, to refute.

Aside from the fact that both Harper and Manley insisted that this was above partisan politics, having Manley at the head of the committee does not make it a Liberal Report and I suspect the 3 prominent Con's would take exception to that. Good spin though. Furthermore, since when does a committee, made up of non-parliamentarians dictate policy to a particular Party?

And that means it cannot be casually shrugged off by the Official Opposition as Conservatives goosestepping in policy lockstep with U.S. President George W. Bush.

He has a point, but I seem to recall Manley giving advice to Paul Martin about the U.S. and Bush. He correctly stated the importance of the relationship, but then said that Martin should join the BMD system. Manley may be a Liberal, but he doesn't exactly represent it's current policy and indeed is quite well known to be on the right of the spectrum.

With this single masterstroke, Afghanistan has ceased to be a point of confrontation in the Commons this fall, it has been eliminated as an explosive issue in any fall election and it will ultimately provide a road-map for Harper's face-saving Afghanistan exit strategy with built-in independent, non-partisan credibility.

This assertion imo, is ridiculous. The Afghanistan mission continues and through unforeseen events, it will generate debate in the Commons. To suggest that it's off the table, a) assumes that a group of non-elected committee members hold more sway over this country's foreign affairs than parliamentarians. Accountability anyone?, and b) after trying to convince us that the committee and the report they will produce is Liberal, he suggests that Harper can hide behind independence and non-partisanship. Which is it?

He knows Afghanistan, having been there twice--five years ago and five months ago. His contacts run deep in humanitarian causes and people like author Rory Stewart, who walked across a Taliban-ravaged Afghanistan in 2002, told me he considers Mr. Manley a highly respected friend.

While I respect Rory Stewart and the fact that he considers Manley a friend, but I'm not sure that going to Afghanistan twice in 5 years gives him deep insight into the country, it's history, the tribal nature of various regions, etc. My hope is that he does seek out many experts on the region as most of them seem to suggest that the mission is not structured properly.
I sill maintain that had Harper truly wanted an objective panel to advise, it would have been comprised of people like Stewart, Sarah Chayes, Gwynne Dyer, etc.

That doesn't mean the Prime Minister didn't do his homework to ensure Mr. Manley's views were compatible with his own before extending the panel chair invitation.

This of course is the glaring weakness of the plan. It doesn't take much cramming to know exactly where Manley is coming from and how closely his views resemble Harper's. In fact, I suspect most Canadians will have a very good idea of Manley's views on the subject of Afghanistan and other policies currently held by the Lib's. Not that he's not entitled to disagree with the Party, but the more light he puts between himself and the Lib's, the less credible the term, non-partisan, becomes.

While Martin's article is compelling and a great read, it strikes me as an attempt to direct the narrative or, at the very least, filled with some wishful thinking.
Update: Steve has his own take.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Fool Me Once...

To read the press today and how they have described the "Blue Ribbon" panel appointed by Harper, you'd swear that it was a statesman-like thing to do.

It's beyond me where the press have been living for the past 20 months, but Harper does not have a non-strategic, nor a non-partisan bone in his body.

It also makes me wonder where the hell Manley has been. I know he has credibility, I know he has experience, but if he honestly thinks that Harper isn't using this, and him, to his advantage, he's dreaming. Naive wouldn't have been a word I'd put in the same sentence as Manley, though perhaps it's not naivety. Perhaps it's honest conviction with respect to our "duty" vis-a-vis the Afghan people, combined with a touch of ego, but that does not excuse turning a blind eye to what this PM is all about. To suggest that this is all about policy and not about politics, (a take on a phrase used by Manley today), is to provide Harper cover.

I only saw a bit of the press gallery panel on Newman's Politics, but it would seem that Manley has made himself persona non grata within the party. I don't know that I'd go that far, but certainly his political instincts seem to have been dulled.

On it's face, there is nothing wrong with appointing a panel, though didn't Harper appoint "Widget" to bring forward a report that would be shared with Parliament? How did that turn out?

Come on people! Harper does nothing, not one thing, that he doesn't see potential political gain from. This is not about Harper suddenly becoming collegial over night. It is all about him wanting to appear to be just that. He will use this panel to deflect questions in Question Period. He'll use it to deflect questions from media. He'll use it to counter Dion's obvious collegial attitude. He'll use it to dupe Canadians and for that I give him points. He's done that well. Isn't that something to be proud of?

Sad really. Canadians are apparently content to drift along with the current without giving any thought to where they may end up.

My only comfort is that fact that Rory Stewart holds Manley in high esteem, (that according to Don Martin). Stewart is critical of the Canadian mission and sees opportunity elsewhere. Will Manley turn to him? Will the rest of them listen? Who knows?

The bottom line is to suggest that this is not a non-partisan panel, is foolish. Manley is right of centre and he's joined by 3 conservative partisans and Pamela Wallin, who has spent the past few years trying to prove the US point of view to Canadians.

Fool me twice...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ridiculous to the Extreme

The bully administration to our south has decided that Canada must submit to their brand of paranoia and phony effort to be seen as "tough on terra".

They want Canada to submit a passenger list of every flight that travels through American air space, to the Department of Homeland Security. Unbelievable. If you've ever had the thought that the current administration in the US thinks that it is the "boss" of the world, this will confirm it.

Do take the time to watch the Wilkins clip with Duffy to the right of the article as well as the one with Fred Gaspar's comments. Duffy seems to think it's very sensible. Are you surprised?

Wilkins, in a feeble attempt to suggest that it's the right thing to do, that is, allow the US to collect all data on Canadian passengers flying over US airspace, looks foolish when he says it makes us all safer. What he's really saying of course is that we in Canada do not do enough, they can do it better and btw, they'd really like the data.

Good grief. Has Arar taught us nothing?

Here's the clincher, they say they need the information to protect their country, but only if you are flying over their space and travelling north to south. If you are travelling easy to west, or vice-versa, you're fine. How bloody ridiculous is that?

If Harper does not stand this down, he's a complete sell out and more of fool than I thought yesterday.

...And He's Off

Well, Bob Rae has wasted no time in getting out there. Good for him.

I'm quite convinced this is going to have a positive impact for the Lib's. For one thing, his breadth of experience as the article points out, really does highlight just how shallow and unsophisticated the Con's are. He won't be in the House of course, so he cannot take on Bernier face to face, but I'm sure that Wilfert will have no problem articulating Rae's views and findings.

He will however have access to the media. My hope is that he'll raise the dialogue from the kindergarten level that the con's have brought to issues. I also hope that he calls the media on how they report the lies told by the government without challenge.

The con's of course are panicked by this move as evidenced by their immediate rush of "past quotes" to the press. Funny how they are still obsessed by the Lib Leadership race isn't it? They seem to view that as their gold mine for advertising. I wonder what we'd find if we went back in time during their race? Frankly, I don't care. Anyone with any sense understands that you are going to disagree with your opponents, on some issues. How else would you differentiate yourself? In the end, you back the party, it's stance and it's leader.

Con supporters are greatly under-estimating Rae. That's fine by me. They'll soon realise the error of their ways.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Conservatives: We Don't Want an Election, Pinky Swear

Hilarity abounds on the Hill.

Are you kidding me? Now, I do not know all the details of the agreement nor do I think anyone does. The fact remains, during the announcement, Harper was vague and in 2 subsequent interviews, so was MacDonald. MacDonald went so far as to suggest that most people, including Nova Scotians, couldn't understand it.

Yeah, that's the ticket. Tell people they are too dumb to get it, but "trust me".

On the provincial side, I'm too far removed to understand the implications. I do though understand that he is low in the polls and this on the surface looks like a booster. That he's been dealing with MacKay, is an obvious push by the Fed's to bolster his profile.

Come on, just how stupid does the current government think people are? I'll wait to pass full judgement until I see the details, but the fact that Harper punted MP Casey to the side, tells me that this is not an honest deal. Nova Scotia may have gained some revenue, but to me, from here, settling as it relates to what's called a Crown share, is a coup, but at the same time a veil as to how MacDonald compromised.

"No more side deals", according to Harper during the last election. What an absolute crock. This is the government who keeps on giving, imo. Say one thing then do another. It will take some time, but it is time to put a list together of how dishonest this government has been. Dion can capitalise on this and under normal circumstances, it should be easy.

William's with his landslide came out today to say, that MacDonald caved and he will not. Calvert was more diplomatic, but said the same thing. Harper appeared as a "lover spurned" when he spoke about N.S. MP Casey, increasing his "pettiness" persona. Dare to disagree with me and you're done!, was the message. Love it and I want to see more of this cocky man. Canadians hate it.

I know they think that they are showing real strength. Most bullies do.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Interesting Move

Though the Canadian Press reported that Stephane Dion didn't make any major changes today, I'd consider naming the yet to be elected candidate Bob Rae as Foreign Affairs critic, pretty significant.

It's an interesting move and one that I think ultimately will play well. I know there is much angst out there about Rae, but there is no denying his ability to deal with media and certainly he is a good choice for this particular position.

Of course reporters this evening were searching for their footing on this news. Throwing out pro's and con's of the move, I suspect, (keeping with the theme of my last post), deciding what new narrative they will "sell" to Canadians tomorrow. One recurring theme is that by having Rae out there in addition to Ignatieff, Dion will further be highlighted as not being a leader.

What absolute nonsense. That may well be their narrative and of course the con's will play on it, but think for a second. What is leadership? A person who is unafraid to share the spotlight and use the very best talent he has, or a man who muzzles all around him, takes no advice and decides that he and he alone is the the "party"? For those unable to spot the difference, one of the above is termed a dictator in common parlance.

I can't wait for the first shot across the bow from the con's who suggest that Rae is unelected. In fact, I'm sure that was one of the first things they were all told not to say today. Rae, will be assisting with policy and unlike Fortier, is allowed to speak to the press and I hope he's out there often. (They also have Emerson .)

The problems aren't over, but this is an interesting start. Consider this, we are being attacked by the Con's, the media and the NDP. It takes an awful lot to fight that. I wonder how many Liberal supporters are doing what they can to fight back? It's time to turn this around.

Laughing out loud at the media would be a good start. Did you listen to the press conference?

Monday, October 08, 2007


Lawrence Martin had an interesting piece on how the media breathlessly follows Harper, in spite of how he treats them.

This is an observation that I've alluded to often here, only to be told by the right-wing kool-aid crowd, that I've got it all wrong and that all media is decidedly liberal.

What helped Mr. Trudeau get good press in his day was the liberal bias of the media. What helps Mr. Harper today is the conservative bias. Much has changed. The press in Canada is much the philosophical opposite (arrival of the Sun chain, CanWest etc.) of what it used to be.

Precisely. This isn't news to most of us, but it is nice to see someone in the industry actually put that in print.

In my mind, whenever there is absolute bias on any side, "we the people" lose. I understand that there will always be some fringe bias publications and that's fine, but when it becomes part of the fabric of all the media we consume, there is a problem.

What's most interesting to me, is how the current media is creating a singular narrative. That is, "Dion is not a leader". Are there problems in the party right now? Yes, I think so, but are they outside the realm of what may have been expected given what Dion inherited? No, I don't think so. We see few objective observers here. He must take some responsibility and work to repair and renew what is wrong and that which is lacking. I think he's doing that. How does that get reported? Words like, desperate, drowning, imploding, etc., always precede any action being taken.

On the other hand, Martin points out how Harper is covered:

To look at the recent coverage, you would think his government is on a roll. Breathless reports follow breathless reports on how he could destroy all opponents in an election this fall.

That's not bad for a governing party stuck at 33 per cent in the polls for months, one that has fallen six or seven points since it tabled its last budget in March, one that has lost more support in that time than the Liberals or NDP, both of whose numbers have remained stable.

No kidding! Have you seen those points inserted into any article, op-ed, news report? If it is somehow referred to, it's quickly countered by how horribly Dion is doing. It's a kind of, "follow the shiny object" exercise, which is not only insulting, but obvious.

Here is what is humorous to me though. As Martin points out through polls, it's not working. That tells me that it will take on a new rancour. The question is, can this group hope to "convert", what is a traditionally liberal nation? The "right" is quick to point out that support for the Lib's and Con's is tied, but the fact remains, that over 60% of voters are progressive and that includes Liberals.

On Cross Country Check-Up yesterday, the subject was Dion and leadership. Murphy, (no Liberal he), laid out the predictable narrative. He opened the show with Don Martin, a bit later he spoke with L. Ian MacDonald. Incredibly though, most callers, (who are often very Conservative, despite what is said about the CBC), rebuked the premise. The number of those who spoke to media bias, was stunning. Those who supported Dion and the Liberals, specifically contrasted with Harper, doubled those who thought Harper was a star. Those who thought Harper was a star had little else to offer than what they've read or heard. In other words, repeating the kool-aid lines. Murphy later on interviewed Janice McKinnon, NDP and finally Patrick Gossage, Lib. We know the NDP stance but she was pretty fair. Gossage, is perhaps, past his prime. He's so non-committal that I suspect Murphy's crowd, sought him out. That was not a contemporary Liberal voice.

NDP and Liberal callers, were honest about what they were seeing. They saw bias in the media, they saw how Dion was playing out in their community and offered insight as to what is going right or wrong. What was most telling to me, was the fact that some who didn't necessarily support Dion, still felt the accusation in the media, was unfair. Perhaps the NDP is seeing how the media will work against them too?

Bottom line, Martin is correct and more people in his industry should have his courage. Sadly, I'm not sure how many are still out there.

Good news though, we have shown that we are smarter than those who feed us the pap.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Afghanistan...Spinning Doesn't Move us Forward

Listening to some of what these two had to say today, it's clear that the war being fought in Afghanistan is a political "tool" for the con's. Do all parties try to capitalise on it? Yes, but who is actually getting the facts and looking at this situation as it deserves to be studied?
The NDP are completely off the mark. They do nothing more than react to polls and have designed their unachievable goal based on little else. The party that claims its concern is human rights, is prepared to stop defending them in Afghanistan by pulling our troops out, now, with no reasonable strategy to keep those who are attacking those very rights at bay.
That said, I think the war in the south is largely a vicious circle. There is an unending supply of sympathisers coming over the border of Pakistan and that's growing. That tells me our approach is wrong and it must be re-thought.
Bernier and Oda, good grief, completely out of touch, as is this current government with most things.
“The territory is more secure today here in Kandahar than it was a year ago,” he said.
Last year there were many attacks, he added.
“Those attacks have diminished,” Mr. Bernier said. “It's still difficult. I saw that it's still difficult. But the situation has greatly improved.”
A recent review by the UN Department of Safety and Security described the situation in Kandahar as “volatile.”
Across the country, 2007 has been the bloodiest year since the Taliban was ousted from power in a U.S. invasion six years ago.
So far this year, there have been an average of 525 violent incidents a month, compared with 425 last year.
It's one thing to lie to Canadians, as they do daily, but it's quite another to say these false statements in the country that is living, day to day, with the reality. When confronted by the local press in Afghanistan, who asked about recent attacks in Kabul, one for instance that occurred as they arrived, they continued to say, Afghanistan is safer. Evidence speaks to the contrary, but why get mired in fact?
Everyone and everything, tells us what is true, but the con's deny truth, as is their want. The Conservatives may want to push water uphill, but the debate, the real debate is of course being missed. Are we serious about helping this country? Are we serious about protecting rights and most basically, do we really understand what the people want?
The south of Afghanistan is quite tribal. Many are not interested in a democracy. Is our aim to convert them? If that is the case, we'll be there a very long time. The fact that we respect "our system", is obviously not enough to convince those who reject it. So, are we keeping out, or pushing back, the very people who the inhabitants want? Agree or disagree with that particular desire, (you do remember Imperialsim), how does democracy play out in this scenario? We are forcing many to adopt what they don't know and therefore don't want.
I do think our forces are good at PR. I think we far excel the US, but I don't think they have enough support with them, literal support, non military people with them.
Have you heard of Turquoise Mountain? A simple approach, no? Pride.
What we are doing is telling some that they mean nothing, their opinion means nothing, their history, their culture. Think about that at home. Think about how we are now making reparations to our native groups. Think people.
We are doing this wrong and the con's, as this article points out, are using this war in the most despicable way.
But the government seems to be pushing its own agenda and not listening to Canadians who want answers, said Francisco Juarez, a former military reservist who refused to serve in Afghanistan and now is active in the peace movement.
Juarez said what started as a mission ostensibly launched on humanitarian grounds and to protect national security interests has morphed into a war designed to retool the Canadian military and serve national economic interest instead.
As is said, this has become about Canada, not Afghanistan. This is the brilliant statement that came from Bernier's mouth today.
“John F. Kennedy said to the Americans: ‘Don't ask what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,”' Mr. Bernier said.
“Now, today, I'm asking Canadians, ‘Don't ask the Afghan government what it can do for us in Canada, but what we Canadians can do for the Afghan people.”'
Sir, all I can say is, "You are no Jack Kennedy". Nor is your leader and the sooner Canadians realise your deceitful stance, the better.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Role of the Official Opposition

According to the Parliament of Canada web site, this is the definition of the Official Opposition:

In Canada, the party with the greatest number of elected representatives that is not the governing party becomes Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. This party takes the lead in holding the Government accountable for its policies and actions. The leader of this party becomes the leader of the Official Opposition, sitting directly across from the Prime Minister. The duty of the Official Opposition and other opposition parties is to “challenge” government policies and suggest improvements, and present an alternative to the current Government’s policy agenda.

While this fact is obvious to all who are interested in politics, Peter MacKay seems to have skipped "Parliamentary Process 101".

By ignoring Denis Coderre's numerous requests for permission to go to Afghanistan, not only is he being petty and "playing politics" with a pretty serious issue, he shows tremendous contempt for our system. Of course, you can hardly be surprised by this, Harper is making a career of it. MacKay full of bluster, condemned Coderre's visit as a stunt.

Now, is Coderre known for seeking publicity? Absolutely, but that is hardly the point here. Coderre has been asking for permission for sometime and has been summarily ignored. His job, as Defense critic, is to be aware of what the government policy is in Afghanistan and whether or not it is effective. The most thorough way of doing that obviously, is to see for himself what is happening on the ground. Recognising that this is outside the usual procedure, there is nothing usual about the state of Parliament right now.

Knowing that the con's have geared up for an election, it's not a given that Coderre could get to Afghanistan, through a committee, before an election and I'm sure that was what MacKay and Harper were counting on.

The fact that Bernier and Oda, had a trip planned that Coderre could have easily been included on, shows just how petulant and intentionally mean-spirited this government is. Obviously insecure in their role as government, they see no advantage in working with the opposition.

The irony of course is that Coderre is now bringing far more attention to the issue than would have been the case had they taken him along. Perhaps they felt that he was bluffing and called him on it. That does not bode well for their ability to "read" situations.

A further irony is that should Coderre actually travel with aid groups, etc., he will see far more than would have been the case had he simply been confined to the military base.

Harper & Gang played this poorly and I'm sure there will be more to come. When a control freak loses control, things never turn out well.

Hypocrisy Update: There is a process to be followed with the government here," Bernier said. "I question why Mr. Coderre doesn't want to make a safe trip...It is irresponsible for him to come here without contacting us or planning his progress far in advance to assure his security."
Bernier was accompanied to Afghanistan by Bev Oda, the minister of International Cooperation.

Of course Coderre did contact them and they knew about his trip before he left. Why didn't they offer to take him? Oh, right, all the world is an enemy when you are a Harper conservative.

This guy is going to be a laugh a minute as Foreign Affairs Minister. Ill informed or touting the party BS. Take your pick, he's emulating his predecessor.