Friday, November 30, 2007

Good Move

Well it looks as though Stephane Dion will not be supporting the bill on "veiled voting".

I think that is great news given that the entire debacle was fashioned out of whole cloth. I have not supported that bill since the beginning. I thought spending all that time on an issue that didn't exist, was foolish.

To be honest, I could not believe that our country was changing to such a degree that we would actually arbitrarily attack a specific group, that had never contravened any law. To then move forward, (or backward imo) and decide to put one in place as a preventative measure was insulting to me.

In short, it rankled.

All parties took part in the fiasco, so no one gets a pass on that. Having the courage to say you were wrong and look at the issue logically however is the right thing to do.

This position speaks more closely to the values of the Liberal party as I interpret them and while I know it will set Dion up for a "soft on terror" type of charge by the Con's, it's still the right thing to do. He's changed his mind in a principled manner, based on logic and should the Con's throw the tired "flip-flop" line out there...well recent events show they hold no high ground in that regard.

The terra attacks can easily backfire mind you. The Con's can set themselves up to look like the paranoid, immigrant bashers that some of them are. It can also clarify just how often the Con's presume guilt, not innocence, which turns our justice system on it's head.

This move and Dion's decision to go to Bali are an indication, to me, that things are getting back on track. These are issues that Dion can take to the bank. Reaching out to immigrants and the Environment. The Con's can pan Dion all they like on the Environment file here in Canada, but guess who will be noticed in Bali as a Leader? Those people know and respect him and I have no doubt that he will be sought out.

It also dispels the notion that he won't fight back. Not only will he fight, he'll go to the fight to stand up for what this country wants to see.

These issues differentiate the Lib's from the Con's, in spite of the NDP trying to link us together.

On an issue that had me feeling like a bit of an orphan from my party, I have only this to say, "Please sir, I want some more".

Thursday, November 29, 2007

In Committee on Parliament Hill

Well, what a day in Committee. Lot's of drama, good behaviour, less than exemplary behaviour and all in all, pretty heady stuff for political junkies.

Schreiber? No, that is not the committee I'm speaking of. I will speak to what went on there, but later.

No, the Committee I'm speaking of was the Environment Committee, where once again John Baird made an absolute ass of himself and insulted every Canadian who cares to pay attention to his baffle-gab.

He once again gave a misleading power point presentation that said absolutely nothing, but clearly showed that this Government is going to Bali with one motive, and one motive only. That is to derail the summit using misleading information. This government is determined to dismantle all the tools that the Kyoto protocol gave the International community.

To my way of thinking, so far, they sadly have been successful. I do not think that the world has held to the courage of it's convictions. I understand that certain forums require consensus, but perhaps it's time to review that protocol and shine a light on the dissenters.

So what happened at Committee? Baird blustered, the Lib's pointed out that Baird had misquoted not only Gore, but Achim Steiner UNEP Executive Director . Baird spun and denied of course. The Lib's went on to point out that not one economist, not one environmental group nor one scientist has endorsed the Con plan. Baird said something like, you can always look at the naysayers. Huh? (btw, what is this man on? His ability to spew nonsense at the speed of sound is truly disconcerting.) Bottom line, NO ONE on the planet supports you. Baird is okay with that.

The Bloc then brought up a news wire item (that I cannot find yet), I think from the UN that denounced the Con position. Baird shrugged it off, he hadn't seen it.

The NDP reiterated the Lib point that they have no endorsement then went on to ask good questions. I do like Cullen the NDP member on this file because I see him as committed as are the Lib's and the Bloc. Cullen makes me nuts often with his reference to the Lib's and inaction, etc., etc. (Yes the Lib's didn't do enough but, the fact is that they the NDP voted the Lib government down when reg's were finally going to happen after years of the con's shooting them down...don't get me started.) Anyway, Cullen went on to ask good questions. The Lib's started with credibility and Cullen expanded on it. He asked how many regulations this government has passed, how many GHG'S have been reduced, do you have an economic assessment for Canada vis a vis your plan and who has validated your program? Zero was the non answer we received.

The Con's? Why even bother? No questions really, just lavish praise on current non-action and disgusting misinformation about the previous government.

Baird went on, through questioning to quite clearly blow smoke into the room. He purposely confused hard targets with intensity based. John Godfrey, (Lib), asked how on earth could he go to Bali and insist that other countries commit to hard targets when Canada is not.

The long and short or it, Baird exposed his lingo. Hard targets is a phrase that Baird often throws out. He interprets that as anything that could be manipulated in a power point presentation as real, but it's myth.

I do not know who is behind the spin, but I suggest they are genius. Nothing, I repeat nothing, that Baird said today even remotely touched on what we are facing in terms of climate change.

In the end, predictably, the Con's moved a motion to congratulate this government and wish them well in Bali. GAG!

After much procedural wrangling, that motion was supposed to be debated, but the Con's filibustered, again, but this time it was against...themselves!

Hello, do you guys know how ridiculous you look? You sound like your sycophants on the BT aggregator. Who is leading who here? I cannot see the difference.

The opposition walked out and broke quorum and rightly so.

Two years of bluster from this government has only produced hot air and no tangible plan. Nothing, nada. Media are great at reporting announcements, but if there was even one honest media rep there, (the chairs were bare), I beg you to tell the truth of what you saw today.

I doubt that will happen, everyone was on the Scheiber story.

Shiny objects do not move this country forward.

Committee's on Parliament Hill deserve more attention and Canadians deserve more information.

For the record, I doubt this post will resonate, ie, not garner comments. Fair enough, but to me, that's a truly sad commentary.

Update: This is a Leader.

Update 2: Well said.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hurting Our Reputation, One Policy at a Time

We in Canada are of course aware of how the Conservatives are changing our country, but when that shift begins to creep out into the world, then the chances of more media coverage of same increases. That is a good thing.

It seems that the world has indeed been paying attention and they are not amused. It's one thing to be a new government with some new policies, but when the entire tenor of country changes, that is noticed.

Officials at two European missions at the United Nations, meanwhile, have expressed disappointment and concern over Canada's recent positions on several issues, and warned the country's reputation is on the line.

By Obrai's comments it's obvious that the conservatives don't care what other countries think. No surprise there, they don't care what over 60% of Canadians think.

Once again, I think they, the Conservatives, take this stance at their peril. While the media in this country is dominated by Harper cheerleader's, as he spreads this "my way or the highway" attitude further and further afield, the more attention he and we will receive. That is particularly true with every International forum we attend.

I do not think Bali is going to be the cake walk Harper and Baird expect.

Baird was quite pompous in taunting the Bloc in the House yesterday and today, stating that he was quite proud to invite the Quebec Environment Minister to Bali. Well that's fine, but Quebec's not on side as he suggested. Furthermore, as far as I could make out, Bloc MP Bigras stated that the Bloc would be in Bali expose the Conservative agenda. I do hope that the Lib's and the NDP go as well, but I've yet to hear anything.

Who knows how Bali will be covered here? Some journalists get it, many don't.

This government is opening itself up to much more scrutiny, through it's brazenness. I think they have been set back on their heels a bit this week. Environment, Justice, Human Rights and Foreign Affairs are all on the hot seat and these issues play to a large global audience. That these issues are being noticed by our allies, is at once embarrassing and gratifying.

I'd much prefer to have this Government exposed than have it go on unchecked. Harper may believe he has brought Canada back to the world stage and perhaps he's right. What he fails to realise is in what context he has done that.

Here's the thing. We were never off the world stage. We were an established entity that could be counted on. In a relatively short period of time (historically speaking), Canada came to stand for something globally. That is not a reputation to be toyed with, nor scoffed at. Harper is doing both. He also seems to be ignoring Pearson's Nobel anniversary. How arrogant is that? That was not about party allegiance, that was and is about our country and pride.

He seems to believe that his time has come in terms of seeing the world. Thankfully, I think the pendulum is swinging in the other direction and he missed the boat. Had he come to power sooner, who knows? I guess he'd be riding the wave of Bush and Howard and though Sarkozy has come to power recently and he too is a law and order guy, they are at odds vis a vis the environment.

Our reputation is at stake and I want Harper to be held to account and our standing restored. The sooner Canadians are told how disreputable and contrary Canada is becoming, the better.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Slowly But Surely

Shining the light on truth is sometimes a slow and arduous task. It involves peeling back many very cleverly laid layers. It also requires a willingness for those who either do not care or are unwilling to accept the truth, to cast their gaze in that direction.

One other aspect is also helpful. That is when those who are attempting to hide the truth, get a little sloppy through their own arrogance. I think we are seeing some of that now.

The man who has been sentenced to death in Montana is now suing the government. When Rob Nicholson stood in the House and actually defended the Conservative Government's position on this, I not only thought it was outrageous and wrong, I thought it was a mistake on their part and a big one.

The Con's are very good at justifying their position through obfuscation capped off with catch phrases. Their tactics involve defending their position by painting whomever is questioning them with a lie and a smear.

When first asked about this matter, the Con's attempted to paint the Official Opposition as supporting, mass murderers being set free. Ludicrous of course, but media carried it.

I think the Con's got just a bit too cocky on this one. If you watch QP, do you ever notice just how often Nicholson looks down at the floor? He did it all day answering the Schreiber questions and he does it on this issue too. When do you do that in your life? The only thing that comes to mind is when you are trying to defend something you don't believe in.

I don't know actually whether Nicholson believes in capital punishment or not. What I do know is that many is his party do. There's the whole "eye for an eye" group and there is the "we are tough" crowd.

Neither position comports with Canadian values as expressed in our Charter. They have taken a position that is fundamentally contrary to what the majority of Canadians think and they the Con's, have arrogantly exposed more of their ideology. Remember, they asked for a poll on this issue recently. Why would you do that unless you thought you could capitalise on the result? Sadly, it did not turn out in their favour but I suspect their hope is to continue to frighten Canadians with crime and terror bills, in order to get us to rethink that opinion.

It's a waste of time. In fact it's turning the passage of time, progress and adopted values on it's head. Their regressive and old world face is peeking out at us, in spite of the control that Harper is trying to maintain while appeasing his base.

Their argument is ridiculous. You cannot be against the death penalty here and support it there. You cannot honestly be against the death penalty for some, but not all. You cannot uphold Human Rights or the Charter for that matter, only when it suits your agenda or ideology. You are either against it or you are for it and it is about bloody time that a reporter with guts insisted on the answer to that question.

They are not being asked that question outside the House often and when they sort of are, reporters are content with the answer, "the law in Canada is clear". The question back should be, "...but you've blurred that clarity, does this Government believe in it or not?" Insist on an answer and watch them dodge. That is what Canadians need to see. When I see reporters just playing a 1950's steno role every time a Minister answers, it's infuriating, no, it's insulting.

From proroguing the House only to re-introduce the "Tough on Crime" bills, to blatantly ignoring all legal opinion re' the power that the Minister of Justice possesses with respect to the Schrieber affair and now this case, the Government is exposing themselves in small increments. Well, I suppose they've done it all along, but now it's being done in a way that is garnering some attention.

Will that attention last? I don't know, but to see some light shed on what is truth is a good thing.

I've said for some time that their arrogance would catch up with them. Slowly but surely perhaps it finally is.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Fooling Some of the People All of the Time

Yes, I spoke to this yesterday but this photo and Harper's most recent statements simply exacerbated an issue that already had me annoyed.

There is no mistaking the look on Steve's face is there? That's a face that as my mother used to say, "I'd love to slap". The smugness speaks to precisely what this man has done. He has managed, at this point in time at least, to bring the Climate Change debate to where he was when he was in Opposition.

Harper is claiming that he didn't stand alone on the issue of aspirational targets. I suppose technically he can make that claim because initially Australia was with him, but Howard is gone now, (thank gawd) and Rudd is going to sign Kyoto. The way Harper makes his claim insinuates that many countries joined him. From all reports that is a lie.

He claims Canada's stance is the only right one. It indeed is RIGHT in terms of the political spectrum, but it's wrong according to every credible expert on the planet.

Finally, he wrapped up by saying that Kyoto was a mistake. Well, we've always known that is what he truly believes but in making that statement now, it's quite clear what he intends to do in Bali.

That said, in this country both he and Baird have said they will not withdraw from Kyoto. Can you spell hypocrisy? Straddling two logs in the ocean is what he is presenting as a position. Ridiculous.

What is so perplexing in all of this is that this one man is derailing years of work in the International community and he's proud of it. With allies falling away, Howard and Bush, he I suppose sees himself as the new champion of the far right Conservative agenda. He can ally Sarkozy on some points, but not this one.

He turns a fact on it's head and sells it. Luntz, Rove and many others? Pick your poison. That ideology and sales technique has been adopted by this government and is playing out just as it did in the US. In the US, I think the media was timid and lazy, but that was due to a result of fear, 9-11, blah, blah. Here? It's not laziness, it's the media being complicit. Of that I am convinced. On this issue however, there has been some good factual coverage. I'm encouraged by that, but a bit nervous that his "team" of spin will kidnap the media, once again and we will see this story wear another cloak.

I think Steve has been very clever, perhaps this will be his test in terms of how he and his friends can actually spin the facts. Accordingly, it will test the mettle of all media to keep him, Baird and others dealing with fact.

I'm angry that he has so far has been successful. The commonwealth countries went into this summit united. ALL countries save Canada and Australia were prepared to abide by targets, including India, yes people, India. Wasn't that a great endorsement to go to Bali with? Of course it was. Harper killed that clout.

Apparently this man does not care about his children and their children. Yes, I said it because it's true. I'll couch it by saying that I'm sure he is good to his children, but he is so damn political, so ideological, that he has inured himself from what he is bequeathing his children.

It's beyond tragic and my plea to all who will attend the Bali conference is, shut this man and his minions down.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Losing Friends and Making Enemies

So, Harper's pal Howard is done. Rudd is not perfect, but at least as it relates to Climate Change, he's on the right side of the issue.

Unlike our esteemed Bully in Charge who apparently strong armed 50 other countries into adopting his ridiculous, aspirational targets.

While this seems somewhat unbelievable, ottlib has explained that these summits are all about presenting a united front and Harper went there armed with that knowledge. In other words, like a 5 year child, Harper dug in his heels knowing that the rest of the group would come around to his view, simply because they require consensus. Of course Harper's gang is going to tout this as a major victory, but that is utter nonsense.

"Canada led the way," said spokesman Dimitri Soudas

No, Canada blocked the way to progress. In my view the oft used phrase "Canada is Back" is shorthand for backwards.

While I understand why consensus would be important from a diplomatic point of view, I do wish someone would publicly put this man in his place.

I doubt for instance that Gordon Brown is very happy with our PM and I'm quite certain that a number of commonwealth countries have walked away from the summit with less than warm feelings toward Canada.

A diplomat from another Commonwealth country described Canada's position - that there's no deal unless everyone agrees - as a recipe for inertia on climate change.

Perhaps we'll have to wait to see how this plays out.

What Harper has done is disgusting and he has now made his game plan very clear. He will maintain this position in an effort to hold back any future progress on the file. He'll hide behind the fact that not all developing countries will accept the same targets as an excuse to continue to do nothing here. My hope is that he won't be given such an easy ride in Bali next month. Australia's change of government is one good sign.

In spite of Baird's petty attempt to keep the Opposition out of the loop, Environmental Groups are offering them spaces in their delegations. That is another good sign in that they will not be able to spin, or rather at least they will be called on it.

I don't know if the media will finally call the government to task on this, but it's about time that they did.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Yes this is amusing, but hardly startling. The Lib's were uncomfortable with this guy and it's not the first time his practices were considered fishy.

Now, he's a Con with Harper's blessing. Watch Harper distance himself even more than he already has.
Does Khan speak in the House? Rarely. I imagine Harper saw through this guy with his first report and that's why it was not released.
A seat was all Harper was concerned with. How is that working out?
Khan conned and now he is a Con. Perfect!
This one can not be swept under the rug, pun intended. He adds to the list of other Conservatives being investigated by Elections Canada.
Oh, and the sanctimonious NDP are not off the hook here either.
The NDP of course love to bash the Lib's and the Con's, but when your Whip comes under this kind of scrutiny...I'd suggest that Jack and wanna be Jack, Mulcair, cool their jets.
Will something come out against the Lib's? Perhaps. At the moment however, there seem to be an awful lot of pots who don't have an eye for non-colour.
It's not the most pressing issue, but a fun one that all at once exposes how craven Harper truly is.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It's Going to Catch up With You

Though Dalton McGuinty was on this fairly quickly, it was kind of a sleeper story, until yesterday when Van Loan made a big mistake.

To be honest, I'm not sure that the con's have yet figured out just how transparent they have become in terms of how they are attempting to fool Canadians. Not only was Van Loan's "small man" comment yesterday a bad move, when it was raised today in the House by Stephane Dion the Government side applauded Van Loan for slagging the Ontario Premier. Think about that for a minute. Really bad move. Their arrogance is blinding them to how ridiculously manipulative they are. Slagging premiers good...doing what is right, wrong.

A common statement by this government is how they have united the country, yet at every opportunity, they divide it and now do it openly. I cannot wait to see the NS deal. Four times now they have cancelled meetings to update. What do you think?

Do you think the bureaucrats are bumbling or are they not putting forth language that the current government can sell, while being deceptive? I think, "change the language" is the instruction. We love to hate the bureaucrats, but frankly I pity them at this moment.

Back to the point. Each and every bill the Con's bring forward has nothing to do with governing. In truth, each and every bill is designed to contain a cute sound bite that suggests they are doing something monumental, historical even, but it's a sham.

Senate reform, some crime bills, the Accountability Act, and now this. The bills are multi-faceted really. They push their agenda, provide themselves with ad slogans, change the country without really telling Canadians what they are really doing and manipulate the system to give them advantage. Clever really, but you can only do that for so become exposed. In Van Loan's case, that visual is a bit disturbing.

This seat count has been exposed to be completely bogus and Ontario's Premier is on the right side of the issue. So is Dion. Barney Rubble, (he does actually look like him doesn't he?), can spew whatever he likes but in this case, numbers speak.

I find it somewhat humorous that the media has been spending their time trying to figure out Harper's strategy. Media on the right aren't of course, they are just feeling their way to sell the message. Other media, assume that he plays by the normal political rules. He DOES NOT. When they will get that I'm not quite sure.

Harper is more interested now in solidifying his base, not growing it.

Why? That seems to make no sense. Apparently it's not shifted. Poll after poll shows it's solid, but it can't be. Internal polling must be telling them other news. Reformers and Alliance must be ticked at the whole Mulroney thing. Traditional PC'ers are peeling off so he has to give the West something to bite on and do it in a way that will appeal to Progressives. I think they have his number though and the Lib's would do well to play on that.

Ontario needs attention and he, Harper, seems to be ignoring that concept. Don't be fooled. Van Loan seems to have just undercut Harper's credibility. My bet is he's deliberately putting McGuinty in a tough spot. He's engineered this response only to corner McGuinty. If there is an election, he'll offer McGuinty the moon. He'll do it in a way that McGuinty will accept and Dion will be hard pressed to counter.

In my opinion, Van Loan has put this ploy at risk.

Scatter shot is how the con's do business. That is no way to run a country.

It's time to make that clear.

Monday, November 19, 2007

What's in Our Cabinet?

Peter MacKay, our Minister of National Defense like his predecessor, is not taking responsibility for the transfer of prisoners in Afghanistan. In spite of reports alleging torture, (from his department), he continues to state that all is well.
Yesterday we learned that some of these transfers include children. Children are being incarcerated in the very same prisons where the allegations of torture are being made. Apparently MacKay is just fine with this. He sees no problem because the children are kept away from the general population of the prison. Huh? First of all, that doesn't answer the question but isn't that even more of a concern?
Apparently not. In fact, he once again accused the opposition of being overly concerned with the very Taliban that have the blood of our soldiers on their hands.
What a disgusting political ploy given the events of the past week. What a petty, incompetent man. The Minister of Defense fails to realise the impact of not abiding by International conventions, on our troops.
How about we insist on or better yet, assist with, developing a youth detention centre that educates these youth and dispels the lies they are being told by the Taliban, (or whatever group)? It seems to me that such a move would go much further in promoting whatever vision the current Afghan government wants to see for the country. It would also support what we are supposedly doing there.
Oh, I forgot, our current government isn't into rehabilitation. It's all black and white. Bad guys = punishment. That's it, that's all. No vision here, NONE, move along.

Maxime Bernier, our Minister of Foreign Affairs appears to be equally as incompetent as his predecessor, Peter MacKay. This appears to be a man more concerned with photo op's than solid foreign policy. Apparently the Minister is going to give an upcoming meeting of over 50 countries to decide the fate of Pakistan, (with respect to the Commonwealth) a pass. Instead Bernier will be in Laos for a francophone summit. He's sending Guergis in his stead.
Yes that's right. Pakistan is not enough of a priority for this Minister. Where is one of the most troubling situations on the planet right now? Does Pakistan, with a suspended constitution, under emergency rule having recently thrown thousands of innocents in jail not to mention the fact that they are a nuclear power, stand out? I guess not. I haven't heard of any major problems in the world's francophone community, but hey maybe I'm missing something.
Perhaps I just don't understand his priorities. After all, his biggest moment in Afghanistan was handing out Jos Louis' to the troops. The press ate it up so it must have been important. He also announced that everything was improving in Afghanistan on a day that a major report came out telling us that attacks were on an upsurge.
In fact he seems to get quite a few things wrong. He stated that Aristide was leading Haiti even though he's met with Preval. He also said that Canada had not changed it's position with respect to citizen's facing the death penalty outside the county, only to be contradicted by his party.
I know his press has been good. They call him a star and a potential future leader of the party but personally, I've always seen him as a contained form of vacuity and vanity, contained only by his fashionable wardrobe.
Flash does not equal a sound Foreign Policy. Harper appointed him to that position for two reasons. He's from Quebec and he looks good.
A fine way to run a country don't you think?
This man, Stockwell Day, the Minister of Public Safety, probably makes me the most nervous, (outside of Harper) as it relates to the Cabinet.
He's a man focused on retribution, imo. His type of retribution seems to lie in the Old Testament view of the world. It's no secret that this retrograde minister does not believe in evolution. He seems to believe that there are only two kinds of people: good or evil and he alone holds the only definition of evil. If you fall into the evil mercy. Think about that for a minute. This guy is supposed to be looking out for our safety, Canadians safety, all Canadians. Is he?
There is a Canadian who is due to be killed in the US, on death row. Day's response to that is this government will not import murders to this country.

In other words, you do not fit my view of a member of a good tribe, so you deserve to die. Canadians should really take this new stance very seriously. There is no question in my mind now, that with a majority they would try to bring back the death penalty.
Day does not see Canadians, he sees Canadians that he accepts and those he does not. Khadr is another example.
On the recent tasering tragedy in BC, Day was so cavalier that it made my skin crawl. I think in large part, most Canadians support the RCMP, but this event and others deserve an non bias, serious enquiry. It also deserves some national consideration in terms of how tasers are used. Day won't entertain the thought though. He hides behind "separation" between government and the RCMP. Nonsense. National regulations are called for here and the government has the power to impose that.

His recent idiotic comment tells you who this man really is. It's not just apples and oranges, it is a typical conservative feint tactic. It shows an inability to maintain two concepts simultaneously or at the very least, a willingness to suggest to the public that that is not possible. It also shows just how little he cares about what is right.
His comment:
"Quite rightly, the whole nation is aghast.... One person was killed who didn't have to be killed," said Day, MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla.
But he says drunk-driving accidents also claim the lives of fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and other loved ones, "and where's the shock and horror?"
What on earth, (even if it is 2000 years old, according to him), relates those two comments? Nothing. What a linear, unevolved, high school argument. Proportional outrage seems to be the order of the day.
This is the man who is supposed to protect us. He only seems willing to do that however, if you agree with him.
His twitching during QP is telling. This is a very scary man. He knows his point of view is not popular yet he delights in throwing out the most outrageous, disgusting comments and he delights in the fact that this government is giving him cover. Of course they are, that is their forte after all. Being tough and nasty is quickly becoming their trademark.
This is a long post and I know that is not popular. Here's the thing though. The media has forgotten or neglected to tell us who these people are and what their motive may be. They have manufactured the current arguments between the parties into a false scenario, one that keeps them content. They tend to mute what is salient, the background that would place positions in context. That's not important apparently, headlines seem to rule.
Thanks to Scotian's input in the last post, it's clear what is happening vis a vis some media.
I bring these MP's up because I find it astonishing that these people are running the country. Harper I suppose is really doing that and of course he is the worse offender. Today he delighted in charging Dion with accusing our good men and women of the military of committing war crimes. That's not a verbatim quote, but you know the drill. He grinned as he made the comments, checking the gallery to be sure he had the desired impact. He's a vile man.
Oh, did I mention that the parents of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers were in the gallery?
It seems to me that the Cabinet is empty. Empty of decency, sound policy and respect for Canadians. Perhaps in time this will become clearer to the nation, but as it stands now, there is no attempt by media to put these people in context.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Without Our Permission

This past week had me reflecting on many things. Some were limited to our current government, others were broader in scope, still though, with ramifications at home.

There seemed to be so much bad news. The war in Afghanistan brought us further allegations of torture, then Pte. Frederic Couture's suicide and of course the deaths of Cpl. Nicolas Raymond Beauchamp, 28 and Pte. Michel Levesque, 25 and their translator yesterday.

There was also both tragic and disturbing news about the RCMP. The recent deaths of Const. Douglas Scott and Const. Christopher Worden and of course the horrible tasering of Robert Dziekanski. I have not and will not see the video, but I have heard and read all I can bear about the incident. (For the record I cannot tell you how sad it makes me to see another damaging story about the RCMP. More about that tomorrow if I can.)

I was finding the tragedy of all these events a bit overwhelming and in thinking about them, I tried to find something to put them in perspective.

On the surface there seems to be no correlation between all of these events. I believe there is one though, and that is the militia mentality that now seems to permeate our society and others. It affects both the law abiding and the lawbreakers. (I would remove Pte Couture from this equation, except to say it must be incredibly difficult to ask for help when you've been taught to be the tough guy.)

The militia mentality is one that has been on the rise in general for the past 5 years for obvious reasons, though not justified in my opinion. We've seen it rise in many cultures playing out to varying degrees. Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, Burma, Pakistan are some literal manifestations of this of course, but those images are sent around the world so we too, in our own way have a sense of them.

In this country, the current government is all over this stuff. From their ridiculous terminology that most of us remember from childhood, "bad guys", etc., to far more dangerous actions. The all crime, all the time gang continue to push the "tough guy" mentality at the expense of any other reasonable approach to difficult situations. Calling those who are concerned with human rights and our obligations under the Geneva Conventions, Taliban sympathisers or worse, is but one example. They have no qualms in painting all who call them to account something akin to terrorists, or defenders of same.

Their initial cavalier response toward torture was unbelievable and considering what they apparently hid, it still is. The reversal of the practice of pleading for a Canadian on Death Row was another stunning development. I suppose you could go back to the Maher Arar case to really understand the mentality of many who now lead this country. It's frightening really.
That message has to trickle down to the few who are inclined and in a position to embrace it, especially when we see no counter balance to that mentality in the government. I think we may just be seeing some of the results of that posturing.

It's beyond misguided, it's dangerous. Their way is the only way. That in itself is not so unusual, most of us feel that, but most of us are balanced. They see no merit in providing balance on the other side. Programs, preventative measures and an understanding of anyone who may not think like them are irrelevant. No, there is only the side of what they perceive as good that is worth considering. Nuance, tact, diplomacy, social structures designed to assist the disenfranchised are not on the radar and yet that kind of thinking had brought this country so far. No longer, sadly.

By stealth and through ignorance, the government is slowing dismantling this country in my opinion. They are changing institutions but more importantly, they are changing the mood, pride and values that most Canadians hold and most non-Canadians have come to identify with us.

(I will say here that they outpouring of support for Robert Dziekanski at various memorials today, told me that overall, we still hold those values. The question is, how many are aware of how they are being eroded?)

Laws pass and that changes the face of things of course. Some that have been proposed recently are all about show with no substance. Senate Reform, Voting Regulations, dismantling of the Gun Registry, seat allocation in the Senate, Crime Bills, all of these bills demonstrate their narrow, vacuous view...but it's not restricted to what is put into law is it?

No. It's how the Government positions Canada at home and in the world.

From the change re' the Death Penalty abroad, torture and Human Rights, Kelowna, Kyoto, the Environment in general, our word vis a vis International Treaties, our well respected role of Honest Broker in the World, Poverty at home and abroad...all of this has changed dramatically.

Sadly, all of it was changed, without our permission.
Other changes: As they come up daily, (as they do), I'm going to link to them here. They have varying degrees of importance but they all eat away at the fabric of the country.
Hiding xenophobia behind whatever excuse is handy, here and here.
Discarding useful programs/projects for ideology, here and here.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Branding...Be Careful What You Wish For

I am not of the mind that the House should be consumed with all Mulroney, all the time, but there is an interesting aspect to all of this.

As we all know, Harper has not improved his fortunes in this country despite Herculean attempts.

The Con's have spent more time trying to appear moderate than almost anything else. Their aim has been clear. Allow (read dupe) Canadians to believe that they are really no different than the PC's and Canadians will warm.

As Mulroney slowly crept back into the public consciousness, this time as an elder statesman, he became the perfect foil for the Con's. He was touted as being "green", he had received an apology and compensation from the Liberal government which seemed to remove the stench of impropriety, he faced and fought an illness that evoked an emotional reaction in the country and he still had admirers in Harper's caucus and cabinet.

What a perfect ingredient to add to the recipe that the Con's had planned to feed to Canadians, right? I mean as it relates to strategy, you understand why they thought this was a stroke of genius. No doubt, Marjory LeBreton thought so. (It will be interesting to see how Harper treats her in the future.) The strategy wasn't thought through though. It's not the first time for this party under Harper, but I suspect this will be the one that makes him kick the furniture and scream Why did I listen to them?

Harper was trying to build a brand. That's a tough thing to do. I suspect he went against his gut but he took a chance in an attempt to gain seats. His craven need to gain majority power outweighed his ability to project how this might all turn out.

Building a brand takes time and thought though and he knew his Reform roots were not going to assist him with that. In fact, he felt the need to push all of that aside, I'm sure to the chagrin of many, in order to pursue power.

So in the end he hitched himself to someone he thought was a rising star. Obviously, that is not the case. The manner in which he has kicked Mulroney to the curb is stunning and I imagine we'll see much more of this. How this will affect MacKay we don't know, but it will.

He was looking for a brand and he chose the wrong logo and spokesperson. He's back where he started from and it remains to be seen how he attempts to re-brand. PC'ers who were beginning to get on side, will not take this lightly and Reformer's will scream for their agenda to be reinstated.

Harper is faced with trying to once again to brand the Party, have no doubt. Watch and wait.

Conversely, the Liberal brand is still strong. The Lib's have built a brand that is right up the middle of the political spectrum. Socially progressive, fiscally responsible. The Con's can continue their claim that the Lib's don't know what they stand for, but that would be classic projection now wouldn't it?

Look, in spite of all the junk that has been laid at Dion's feet, the Lib's tie with Con's. That is everything to do with branding. The Liberal brand is strong and established. The Con's are trying their level best to destroy it, but they may choose to re-think that strategy.

A) They do not yet have a brand and are primed to be branded from the outside

... and,

B) They brought Martin down, through "association" .

Harper sought to brand his party by associating with Mulroney. His wish was that link would tie him to the progressive constituents who had avoided him.

Be careful what you wish for.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Spinning a Tory Story into a Liberal Liability

Well here we go. As the facts of this complicated case emerge, so will the spin. The headline here is beyond spin though.

I am not wont to outrage, nor am I about to change that practice now. I'll simply state that the headline is completely disingenuous.

That said, the article pushes the concept that Con's are not at the centre of this affair. No, no, no. Let's pile equal blame on the Lib's and the NDP in an effort to appear unbias.

I'm not terribly familiar with Jennifer Ditchburn's work but what I have seen I generally thought was fair. This article however straddles that fairness creek. It suggests that balance relies on making the drier side of the creek feel as mucky as the side that is sinking. There is survival involved in putting more weight on the firmer side but it doesn't make for balanced news.

Take this comment:

Karlheinz Schreiber sent copies of red-hot documents to the Liberals and NDP two weeks ago detailing correspondence with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but neither party reacted immediately to the provocative contents.

Baloney. Once the Lib's saw the package, they sent it to the RCMP. Did that incite the review announced by the RCMP? Who knows?

She goes on to say:

Still, Dion did not address the media before Harper's news conference on the issue of Schreiber's letter.

My reaction is, and your point is? Had Dion been out in front of the press waving documents, she and others would have labelled him as a political opportunist. He did not do that. Dion took the ethical course of action and the fact that Ditchburn is attempting to suggest otherwise is absolutely ludicrous. It's a headline getter though, isn't it?

The NDP? Well Pat Martin, is on record, film/video even, last night as saying that they threw what Schreiber sent them in the garbage. I think that was irresponsible. For the record though, I like Pat Martin. I do not agree with him on all issues, but I like his fight and I like the fact that he was a carpenter before being elected, (someone I'd consider to be an artisan).

It is a bit rich though for the NDP to cast aspersions against the Lib's, dating back to Gomery, when they obviously did not pick up on what was important here. The NDP's mission is clear. A pox on both their houses would be their cry. Sadly the house they built rests on sand, on a beach, with the tide coming in.

I think Ditchburn may be that start of a new/old trend. New on this story, old (very old) in terms of pillorying the Lib's, which we've seen for years now. What is happening now is important. It is time for the media to think, report and leave their ego and tired sound bites behind.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Conning of Canadians

This government came to power by playing the corruption card. As they hiccuped the name Gomery throughout their campaign, they also claimed that they would be the government to clean everything up.

This week they find themselves chin deep in the alleged wrongdoings of one of their predecessors. Should this government be held to account for the sins of the past? They make it a practice to paint all Liberals as crooked so should they not receive the same treatment, be held to the same account?

Well, that's a matter of debate I suppose and of course there are differences in the two cases. But when you examine those differences, it's quite interesting to draw out the facts. Conservatives hate to admit this, but Gomery did not implicate any political figure. Conversely, the former PM, Mulroney himself, is at the core of the current sordid affair.

True, Harper was not in Mulroney's cabinet, while Paul Martin was in Chretien's, but Chretien as the leader of the party was not implicated. The former leader of the Conservative, (then PC of course), is of course implicated.

So can we simply say that Harper wasn't there, therefore he cannot be linked? Nope. Not in my mind anyway. The PCO knew the information that Harper referred to on Friday 7 months ago. Seven months ago! Only 3 things can be true. Willful blindness, complicity or incompetence. In my view, with the knowledge I have now, I'd say it's the latter.

Before the right wing readers go ballistic, I will also say that by definition, Chretien not knowing what was going on, he and his office also showed incompetence. Not criminality, not corruption, but a degree of incompetence.

The PMO under Harper should have been made aware of the correspondence coming in from Shreiber. In fact, he should have made a point upon taking office that anything to do with this case be brought to his attention. Apparently he did not. It is said that he asked some questions when he took office, such as, "Is there anything I should know?" and was told no. He took that advice and probed no deeper. Therein lies the mistake.

What he failed to do, out of loyalty no doubt to his friend Mulroney, was look to the future and make the file a priority. You see, the allegations had been out there for some time and were well known. There was every reason to keep an eye on it.

Chretien on the other hand, could not ask that a priority be made of something that he was not aware of. Should tighter controls/reporting have been put in place concerning the advertising program? No doubt, but the fact remains that there was no knowledge of impropriety proceeding it's exposure. Btw, it should be noted that the Lib's called the enquiry on themselves...the Con's have not.

Looking to the future is not Harper's strength. Oh, he has a vision of a narrow Canada, but he seems unable to comprehend the breadth and impact of current decisions aimed at achieving that future. He is focused on tactics at the expense of strategy.

That is how we are being conned.

The focus on tactics as it relates to the environment for instance. Ad's and vacuous statements that amount to no real action, but they tell Canadians they are doing something finally. They are not.

The same is true as it relates to what they are doing for the military...but I won't go there today.

Accountability is the biggest laugh of all really and that is what they campaigned on. That was their platform. Their claim is that they passed the toughest Accountability Bill in history.

It was indeed passed, but what they fail to tell us is that they have not fully enacted it. Why? Well, it wouldn't allow them to apply constraints on the very issues they screamed about before coming to power. In fact, they want to avail themselves of those failings, once done, then perhaps clamp down.

Conservatives, thine name is hypocrisy.

I am glad that these issues are being reported on, but somehow it hasn't yet penetrated the Canadian psyche. Examples are provided in this particular story and I think that is great. We need more of this. We also need more than a one story wonder. The Dion is not a leader meme, has surely worn itself out? Why not stick to this stuff, the reality of what is going on?

The Dion file has merit and should not be ignored, but good grief as it relates to the country, why not hound what is real rather than that which is fabricated?

I'm sensing that the media is doing more homework and I for one am glad of it. Many more Access to Information sought documents are coming out now.

Canadians are being conned and I'm hopeful that the media will be able to make this clear. It's complex to be sure and should not be dumbed down, but the masses must be able to relate to it.

Repetition seems to be the name of that game, why not now when it matters?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Conservatives Help Struggling Students!

The Conservatives have long said that they want to do their part to assist students in this country. This MP, the petulant Pierre Poilievre, seems to have kick-started this initiative.

Yes indeed kids, you'll get $1000.00 if your essay is good. Oh...and there is a slight catch. You'll only get the scholarship if you completely support my position and do my work for me. No biggie, just get all your friends to sign the petition so I can push my agenda.

Based on the students reaction, I don't think it's a hit, do you? In fact, I think the kids show a remarkable understanding of how the Con's work. Support us and we'll give you goodies...oppose us, you get nothing.

While this is hardly the stuff of outrage, particularly considering that the kids themselves see through it, I found one aspect quite interesting.

The lack of respect for independent thought is glaring. Coming from an MP who probably trains his fellow seat mates on how to put their own thoughts aside and support Harper at any cost, it is hardly surprising. It is telling though.

There is a show on CPAC called Beyond Politics. Catherine Clark hosts it. It's a 30 minute interview with an MP and her questions generally focus on the MP's life outside of politics, though the obvious crossover does occur. She does not probe deeply, in fact it's a bit fluffy, but it's a chance to see MP's in a slightly different light.

I've enjoyed most of the interviews I've seen. Yes even the interviews that focus on Cons and Dippers. I respect that have chosen to do what they do. The one that stuck out though was Poilievre. There is a cockiness there that is tough to miss. In my opinion, there is also a lack of depth. Put that down to age perhaps, but it cannot be ignored. When you lack depth, as we all do in our youth, you fail to measure the long term consequences of your actions. Strikingly, during the interview, he mentions the fact that his youth has often prompted media to portray him as a caricature of himself. Hmmm. Youth side, the concept gives one pause for thought, no?

He also suggests that his youth requires him to hold himself to a higher standard. Huh? Is there a politician out there, (outside of Day perhaps, Poilievre's mentor, btw), who is slimier than this guy? Who hits below the belt more than he does? Cowardly comes to mind and frankly I'd say he's delusional on this count. He also thinks the jeering and taunting during QP is just fine, because apparently we've been doing that for 400 years? He notes that he reads history with a passion. Perhaps he should re-visit Canadian history and when the House was established.

Anyway, in the end I think his lack of depth is showing big time with this initiative. Is there anything wrong with engaging youth in the political process? Of course not, I actually commend him for that. How he is going about it is wrong though.

If you're trying to engage kids, you respect their views. You don't go after them with a cookie cutter in your back pocket. I'm happy the students saw through him. It suggests he's already out of touch with those he thinks he connects to and needs to rethink.

Too bad they're too young to vote.

(For the record, there is more to be written about the Mulroney affair and Dion's Poverty stance but sometimes you just have to take a break and focus on the perimeter.)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Changing How We're Viewed by the World

So the discussion on the Death Penalty continues, this time on the world stage.

Apparently breaking with tradition, again, Canada will not be co-sponsoring the UN Resolution: A Global Moratorium on the Death Penalty. We'll vote for it, but we won't take our usual place as a nation that does all it can to promote Human Rights.

My question is why? This along with our refusal to sign the Aboriginal Resolution and blatantly reneging on Kyoto is truly changing how we are being viewed in the world. What I don't get is, what is in it for Canada?

We are a country that has earned our previous global reputation, why would Harper systematically destroy it? It's easy to understand why he wants to destroy the all the inner workings of government here at home. Those who care to understand his position on such matters are clear on his domestic stance.

So, let's take a look at his International positions. The failure to support the Aboriginal Resolution was inexcusable. They argue that it contravenes laws at home. Absolute nonsense. Couple that with the fact that they apparently were waving the Kelowna Accord around claiming that Canada was ahead of the pack, when they'd already said they would not honour it. The words, disgustingly duplicitous, come to mind.

Kyoto. Both Ambrose and Baird have lied to their confreres at every gathering they've had. Claiming they are doing something, when nothing has been done and in fact we're sliding backwards.

Now this latest news. I'm not sure what went on, but why on earth would we remove ourselves from the position of leader, to simply a vote? Is this another case of being inconsistent with being tough on crime? Are they so deluded that they believe their domestic agenda or more precisely their base at home would be affected by Canada's strong stance on Human Rights? Or is it as simple as they do believe in Capital Punishment but do not have the courage to come out and say they are taking baby steps?

The obvious reason, Harper has no respect for the UN.

At a time when we supposedly want to have influence over our NATO partners, we are backing away from our traditional stance of supporting all things democratic and working in concert with others who hold the same values. How is that helpful?

Frankly it's not and when you think about it, it's no wonder that Canada's pleas are not being responded to. We are losing credibility people, very quickly.

If you are of the mind that all this piddly stuff doesn't matter in the grand scheme, you truly miss the point. The news covers country leaders. The real work and the real dialogue between countries does not happen there, nor does the dissemination of information between countries and where they are headed. No, that happens at a different level and the actions that Harper is taking are going to resonate and not in a good way.

My sense is, we really aren't applying pressure within NATO vis a vis Afghanistan. I've never read what MacKay said at a recent meeting. Have you? Perhaps the truth is we've said we'll be there for as long as it takes and Harper is crafting his way to that end. Certainly we saw the shift from '09 to '11 in the Throne Speech.

I hear fiddle music and in my opinion, the instrument being played is called a Canadian.

Monday, November 05, 2007

I Thought You Said You Didn't Want a Debate?

Didn't Harper just tell us that he has no interest in reopening the Capital Punishment debate?

If that is indeed the case, can someone please explain to me why the government would commission a survey to determine Canadian opinion on the subject? The survey was done this summer, long before the issue was raised last week. Obviously it was on their radar. The survey was meant to find support for their justice package.

That should concern us. Not because they will go ahead now, they won't. The results show that only 1 in 5 Canadians support capital punishment. That coupled with the outrage that followed Day's comment last week make it impossible or at least incredibly unlikely that they will bring it up.

Here's the thing though. It tells us that their, no longer so hidden agenda, is real. The media continue to laugh it off and the pundits advise Dion and others to "change the channel". My hope is the media will take a more realistic view of this, rather than provide the narrative that they have thus far. I'm not sure why they have frankly. You'd think that the reality would be far more interesting to write about. Perhaps seeing the long governing Grits being ousted was more interesting to them, causing them to ignore what was true. Given the way Dion is portrayed and focused on, that may still be the case. All of that said, I still think we should keep this reality in the public eye. I don't think it should be our only focus but nor should it be ignored.

Just as the Con's have tried define Dion, they have been busy redefining themselves. Their aim of course is to present themselves as moderate and again, many in the media quote this as fact quite regularly but really, if that was the case wouldn't their numbers be higher? That is why I think it still should remain as a talking point.

Here are some examples of what Mr. Day, our Minister of Public Safety, has said in the past. It would be quite easy, listening to him these days, to believe that his views have changed, but that is only due to the tight messaging edict coming out of the PMO. If however, you saw the way he delivered the statement about commuting the death sentence of the Canadian citizen in the US, it's difficult to believe that he's changed one iota. In fact, his past voice comes through loud and clear. His declaration tacitly supports capital punishment. That's what he's always believed and now he has a chance to support it through the back door.

In 1994, Mr. Day advocated the death penalty for teenagers convicted of first-degree murder.
He has advocated American-style work camps for some young offenders.
In 1997, he drew condemnation from all political stripes when, in a speech,he suggested serial-child killer Clifford Olson should be dealt with by fellow prisoners. "People like myself say, "Fix the problem. Put him in the general (prison) population. The moral prisoners will deal with it in a way which we don't have the nerve to do".
In 1988 Mr. Day said granting greater access to abortion would prompt a rise in child abuse.
--Calgary Herald, April 9, 1998
"Homosexuality is a mental disorder that can be cured by counseling." He has said homosexuality is "not condoned by God" and maintains being gay is a matter of choice.
"God's law is clear," an angry Day told Alberta Report in 1984. "Standards of education are not set by government, but by God, the Bible, the home and the school."
--Ottawa Citizen, June 8, 2000"Stockwell Day added he would eventually end all taxpayer financing of CBC television and eliminate all cultural subsidies to all cultural institutions.
-He has called official bilingualism an "irritant" and questioned the effectiveness of sex education in the schools. "There is a growing body of literature suggesting that, as sex education becomes more comprehensive,there is a corresponding increase in sexual activity."

Obviously, not all of these positions fall under his current purview, but he does sit at the cabinet table and he is one Minister that is allowed off his leash, if he stays on message. To me that means he's agreed to limit his views to the Cabinet table and himself. Isn't that fantastic? He has sway behind the scenes but Canadians aren't allowed to know what he stands for.

I think we have to be careful how we approach this talking point. It shouldn't be framed in a trite manner nor should it be all we talk about, but as these small fissures appear in the veneer they strive to keep whole, I think they must be noted and pointed out.

Who they are is not what they show us, but this past week has drawn back the curtain a bit. We need to wrest the control of that curtain and pull it back when necessary.

Update: Apparently intervening on behalf of a Canadian is considered to be interfering in the American judicial system, but intervening on behalf of an American, is not.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

You're Kidding, Right?

Jack, in his infinite wisdom has chosen a target that the majority of people do not understand, nor care about, to be brought to the House. Note, he's bringing it to the House when obviously there are much more serious issues to be dealt with.

Why? I really think he believes now is the time to pounce. I think he believes he will over take the Lib' he believes his own press.

So back to the issue. The Senate is not a barn burner issue, but like the Con's, when the arrogance of your own self worth comes into play, ideology trumps reason.

Flip sides of the same coin Harper and Layton are, as it relates to ideology. One extreme or the other. Canadians on the whole are neither.

Canadians are fiscally responsible and neither of these two are showing that. Socially conscious within that parameter. Neither of these two are showing that either.

Guess what? Only one party does that.

Jack, I'm not sure how high you can jump but I think we're about to see.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Time for a Reality Check on What Leadership Means

Since the Conservatives are so worried about Stephane Dion that they feel the need to mount more attack ads, I thought it might be time to examine what a Leader really is.

For some reason, since 9-11, the term leadership has been defined in a very limiting way. It's definition has been hijacked in fact and has been manipulated to exemplify specific people, rather than they themselves exemplifying the trait.

I'm sure this has happened many times throughout history, but at this moment in time, too many seem willing to suspend disbelief and accept whatever incarnation of the word is put in front of them. By the same token, they seem equally comfortable in accepting as fact, those they are told are not leaders.

The current definition seems to be rooted in machismo. Think George W. Bush. A pretty dismal character pre his 9-11 make over. His team knew how to take advantage of the situation and recreate him into an image that would exude machismo. A man who could take care of the people of his nation, who were understandably frightened. How's that turned out? In fact, if you look at most of the GOP candidates, they spend more time talking tough than they do putting forward good policy.

Of course, stressing machismo over substance isn't a trait of a good leader, in fact it could be argued that it's the antithesis of leading. It's more closely and correctly aligned with bullying.

Do bullies ever lead? Yes, through threats, intimidation and manipulation, they do. Does that make them leaders? Of course not. The current government has followed the US model of painting anyone left of them on the spectrum as "soft on....", pick your poison. It's nonsense, but they can sell it without having to explain their charge. That it has no basis in fact is not an impediment. Make the charge, check your intellect at the door and suggest it's self explanatory.

There is a kinder term than bully of course and that would be manager. A manager could be a the head of a team, but simply managing the group that he or she is in charge of, does not a leader make. No, a bully who through fear is able to manage his followers is not what comes to mind when I think of who I want to govern this country, but that is what we have at the moment, imo.

So what is a leader? There is no question that the trait will manifest itself uniquely in each individual who possesses it. Intellect alone is not enough. To my mind, that intellect must be capable of capturing whatever is at stake under her or his purview, understanding how that must be dealt with in the present and having the vision to extrapolate that decision into the future, understanding the consequences. Beyond that, a leader must be able to articulate that vision to those who are like-minded. That explanation should include a glimpse at how it was arrived at, giving the followers a frame of reference in order to support it. I think too, a leader encourages participation so those that he/she is leading has a stake in the success of the vision.

Does charisma help? Yes I think so, but charisma also comes in various forms. Sometimes it's incredible personality, the person that everyone automatically warms to. Sometimes it's honesty and sincerity. I think most people are drawn to such individuals quite naturally. Think of your own life. Who's advice do you follow? The friend who you know has your best interest at heart or the one you know always thinks about them self first? If the trusted individual with vision is also full of personality, that's a bonus, but not vital. Sincerity coupled with tenacity goes much further than dishonesty married to being obstinate and self absorbed.

With every day that passes, Harper shows us who he really is. He does it in various ways. Sometimes it's throwing out an arrogant phrase at a press conference and what is telling about that is, it's not limited to the opposition. Just ask Bill Casey. At other times, it's behind the scenes as in the ouster of Warner and Barr. Turner, Casey, Warner, and now Caldwell have all said just how controlling Harper is. While this is being reported, the media are not really focused on it, because it's old news for them of course.

These tactics are not the sign of a leader, they are the sign of a bully. Harper cannot get the agreement of his caucus to follow his agenda, so he bully's them into doing so. If they go off script, they're out. That is NOT a leader. Sadly, he appears to have a group of people he can manipulate. Yet another sign of not being a leader. Leaders convince through reason, they do not coerce.

The Con's are nervous about Dion. There can be no other reason for running those ads. Whatever you think of Kyoto, you have to consider what kind of leadership it took to gain consensus at one of the largest intergovernmental conferences ever held and Dion, (not alone but at the helm) did that.

Dion does have problems today due to the meme conceived by the Con's and repeated daily through media, but looking to the future I think that particular theme will be short lived. The reality of the man cannot be expunged through rhetoric, though they will try.

Real leadership qualities rise to surface and Dion contrasted with Harper on an even playing field, (dependent of course on the media), has the potential to have Harper portrayed for who he is. It won't be necessary for the Lib's to develop a caricature of Harper, he has developed one all on his own and few are drawn to the persona he likes to portray.

So we have two men to look to in this country to lead us. One has had a caricature of himself put out into the public sphere, one that he can easily fell by being himself. The other actually is a caricature of a leader, one that he created and would be hard pressed to dismiss.

The choice seems obvious.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Lies, Arrogance and Playing Games with the Country

I've been reflecting on the overall effect of the current government on this country, as well as how the country has responded. It's an interesting, though disturbing picture.

What is most glaring to me, is the fact that the current PM is playing games rather than actually governing. It's as though he's an actor, playing the role of PM, but in fact is more concerned with his craft. In this case, his craft is strategy. He's not as intent on implementing his ideology at the moment, as he is in finding a way to be in a position to fully implement it. Oh, he still slips in some ideological policies where he can, but that is not his main focus. No, Steve's all about the game at the moment. Sadly, he does this at the expense of our country.

Consider the recent policy change re' Canadians facing the death penalty in another country. Has he taken this stance because he thinks it's the right thing to do for the country? Obviously not. By his own admission he's doing it to impress his base and build on the tough guy brand he's trying to develop, à la the US Republicans. In answer to why the policy changed, Harper said:

"In light of this government's strong initiatives on tackling violent crime, I think that would send the wrong signal to the Canadian population."

He made no reference as to whether or not it was in Canada's best interest, only his Party's. In fact, this change is deleterious to Canada in my opinion. Canada has a solid reputation for protecting Human Rights. How on earth can we tell another nation that they must protect their citizens and respect their rights when we don't? How can we say we oppose capital punishment, when we allow one of our own to face that? Ridiculous! This man cannot think beyond his nose.

Are we as a abusive as countries we may choose to diplomatically take to task on such issues? No, but that is hardly the point is it? You cannot be a defender of rights on an ad hoc basis. So this disturbing move is all about increasing votes with a hint at what future policy may be, if he gains a majority.

The other interesting aspect of this move and indicative that it is about strategy, is the fact that Stockwell Day made the pronouncement. The policy of course originates in the Department of Foreign Affairs, not Public Safety. Why is Day setting policy for a department he doesn't oversee? Because it's not about policy it's about posturing. In fact, Bernier, who handles the file, somewhat contradicted the PM and Day by saying the policy hadn't changed and this was just a one-off.

When you consider what this government has actually done in 22 months, it's little more than making statements that are meant to be viewed as policy, but it would be more accurate to view them empty slogans. Whatever you call it, it is not governing.

A PM obviously should be addressing the needs of a nation. Current needs, with an eye to the future. Among other things, this country needs improved health care, a sound environmental plan, daycare spaces, assistance for cities and sound fiscal principals to ensure future prosperity.

Harper claims to have done these things, but has not. Big announcements are made to improve his image, but there is little or no substance behind the announcements. They will continue to claim, (read lie), that they have taken action, but when you look to the supposed beneficiaries of each program, you learn there has been no benefit what so ever. It's all show.

What's galling, is the fact that they lie about their achievements, they lie in order to pass their legislation, they lie about the opposition, they lie about the past and the accomplishments of the Liberal Party, they lie about just about everything and they get away with it. By the media giving them a pass often, they grow more arrogant and more aggressive in their quest to achieve their one and only goal, unfettered power.

All Party's spin of course, but this is more than that. It's lying in a way that Canadians would not expect. It's lying in a manner that we haven't been exposed to before, therefore many don't recognise it. We rely on the media to cut through it, to challenge the claims. Some do, but not often enough. In fairness, the breadth of the deception is so wide spread, it's difficult to write a cohesive narrative that exposes it.

In the end, the arrogance that Harper is now displaying with more and more frequency, may be his own undoing. Blatant arrogance has a way of waking people up who have perhaps been closing a blind eye to someones true nature.

Harper's heightened appetite for power may lead to carelessness. Hubris often does.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

What is Going On Here?

When I first read this article this morning, I thought there must be some kind of mistake. I thought I'd wait to see if it was brought up in Question Period and it was.

Irwin Cotler asked Stockwell Day, whether or not the Canadian government would commute this man's sentence. Day, being his typical cocky self, replied that "The Canadian government was not in the habit of bringing convicted murders back to Canada." (I've paraphrased).

So let's get this straight. Just last week the department of Foreign Affairs was pushing for clemency, now suddenly it's hands off? Obviously Day is more interested in playing "tough guy" again, (which is a hilarious image in itself), than he is in upholding our record of Human Rights. Given that a Liberal asked the question, I've no doubt that he'll once again resort to juvenile turns of phrase, such as "we know the Lib's don't care about murderers on our streets, but we Conservatives do", or something equally as inane.

First, no one is asking that he be returned to Canada and set free. Cotler asked that we push to have the sentence commuted. Good grief, as Cotler pointed out, we don't even extradite Americans back to the States to be tried if the possibility of the Death Penalty exists.

This is serious stuff people. How can this government simply change such an important principal? Canada does not support the Death Penalty anywhere, including the US. Is Day now saying we do?

Surely this requires debate and defeat in the House.