Monday, March 31, 2008

House Renovations

Watching the new members of the Liberal party be ushered into the House today was satisfying.

Before I go on, I'd also like to mention the newly elected Conservative member, Rob Clarke. Pride and sincerity was clearly visible on his face. During the by election, I watched him on the extensive CPAC coverage. He seemed to be a very decent guy and I wish him well.

While all the Liberals were visibly pleased and excited to be entering the House, by far, Martha Hall Findlay most lit up the room.

She has certainly earned her seat.

Bob Rae was equally chuffed,

and it's not tough to read his mind is it? YES!

Kissing Ignatieff was a clever touch on his part. It won't do a thing to stop journalists from all of their lazy speculation but it shows just what kind of political instincts this guy has with respect to optics.

Anyway, it's good to have new energy in the Liberal caucus and despite all attempts from some media types to downplay and throw cold water on the new additions and what it will mean in the future, I for one am going to ignore them and enjoy the moment.

Of course, that wasn't the only renovating going on in the Liberal's home today. There was also a shift of critics within the party.

Mr. Dion has made the following changes in the Liberal Opposition’s roles and responsibilities:

• Bob Rae continues as the Liberal Party’s Foreign Affairs Critic and will join the Priorities and Planning Committee;
• Martha Hall Findlay becomes Associate Finance Critic, and will also join the Priorities and Planning Committee;
• Joyce Murray becomes Vice-Chair of the Caucus Committee on Environmental Sustainability;
• Geoff Regan replaces John Godfrey as Chair of the Caucus Committee on Environmental Sustainability;
• Denis Coderre becomes the Liberal Critic for Canadian Heritage, la Francophonie and Official Languages;
• Bryon Wilfert, formerly Associate Foreign Affairs Critic, becomes Defence Critic;
• Gerard Kennedy becomes Critic for Intergovernmental Affairs; and
• Senator James Cowan and Dr. Bernard Patry join the Priorities and Planning Committee.
Much is being made of these changes, specifically moving Denis Coderre. Despite denials from the Liberal party that this is a demotion, the media are insisting that it is. I'm not inside, so I don't know for sure. Those who are insisting it is make a point of telling us that this is a huge mistake and will just make things worse because now Coderre will really start working against Dion.
To that I say Coderre is many things, but he's not suicidal. To continue to build an environment that could well cause him to lose his seat makes no sense to me. Additionally, last week when all of the junk hit the fan in Quebec, Coderre was the only one on record as supporting Dion. Yes, he passed up the opportunity to be the Quebec deputy a while back, but it was said at the time that he did that out of deference to how Proulx had been left out of the loop on being ousted.
Here's the thing. Coderre is now in a position to make a difference on the Quebec file. Think what you will of him but given our situation in Quebec, isn't it a good thing to have someone who seeks the spotlight, will defend Liberal positions and not hesitate to point out how faulty the Con agenda is as it relates to his new file and more? The way I see it, Coderre never limits himself to one issue. Having a hard working, albeit bombastic MP working on issues that will touch Quebec isn't a bad thing, imho.
The other criticism that came out today, was the Gerard Kennedy appointment. Joel-Denis Bellevance (La Presse) spewed a number of quotes this evening, (out of context and paraphrased), in a manner that mirrored John Baird's propensity for baseless accusations. What he missed of course was Kennedy's experience in Ontario, facing Baird, Flaherty and Clement. He's got their history down pat and the issue is contemporary. I think this was a good appointment and I look forward to seeing him in the House, hopefully on the government side. (Note, his NDP opponent, Peggy Nash never misses an opportunity to bash the Lib's, even today as she was supporting their motion.)
So much is being made of the Liberal 'team approach' but I see it as a good thing. For me it's tough to understand how any Canadian can compare the depth of knowledge and experience of the Lib bench with the nonsense coming from the Con's. Would you like an example?
I give you Helena Guergis, formerly in charge of the Brenda Martin file.
On her upcoming wedding to Edmonton MP Rahim Jaffer:
"I can't plan a wedding. Why don't you call Stephane Dion and ask when we are going to have an election so I can set a wedding date."

Deep isn't she? Here is another illustration of her depth.
MHF on the other hand, with no experience in the House, today made Flaherty look like the buffoon that most of us recognise he is. She stated it and he confirmed it with his idiotic response.
All in all, it was a good day to be a Liberal.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Media. Our Very Own 'One Note Johnny'

It's a new week, with a new Liberal caucus, but before we even have a chance to see if there are any new dynamics in the House, the media is piling on Dion with their same tired old narrative.

Is there going to be an election? When might there be an election? Are you going to abstain from confidence motions? And when Dion answers with, there will be an election when the timing is right, they resort to telling us that Dion is threatening an election again but he'll probably back down.

I can't recall a time when Dion actually threatened an election and then backed down. Oh, I know it was portrayed that way and perhaps he was hawkish during caucus meetings, but that is not what he has been telling the country.

We all know that the situation in Quebec for Liberals is far from the land of milk and honey, however, to hear some of the pundits call it just seems over the top to me, specifically when you consider where the information is coming from.

On At Issue last week, Chantal Hebert was busy polishing Dion's coffin with the most pathetic, doleful look on her face. Today on Question Period, Craig Oliver announced that the program's Quebec insiders would be giving us the real story. Who does he introduce? L. Ian MacDonald and Jean Lapierre. I literally laughed out loud. (Well, I did more than that, but I'll leave that to you to your imagine.)

As expected, they did the male version of Hebert's monologue and in MacDonald's case, he could barely disguise his glee. They spoke of the recent crop poll, which is of course was not good for the Lib's...devastating, is MacDonald's descriptor of choice as I recall and fair enough, we know there is work to do. Let's get out and do it.

Here is an example of the of intelligent information we are being treated to these days.

The election guessing game resumes Monday with Stephane Dion continuing to hold out the possibility that he'll finally pull the plug on Stephen Harper's minority government.

The Liberal leader's threat rings increasingly hollow

Can someone explain to me how holding out on the possibility of when he'll pull the plug is a threat that he will pull the plug, then reneges?

What has happened to reason in this country? Rationale thought seems to have escaped many of those who are responsible for informing us. By alternately providing and stealing Conservative talking points, the media is has completely abdicated it's role.

Is there any analysis of the man? None. From the day the Con's came out with their attack ad's, the media has followed that cartoon. Are there no thinkers out there?

Here's the good news. To use an expression uttered by someone I loathe, Dion has been misunderestimated. Yes, there are problems in the party, but they are not Dion's invention. He took leadership of a party that had huge problems not in the least related to him and spare me the, he was at the cabinet table, BS.

For those who care about such things, polls that ask participants if they would vote for the Lib's if Dion or Ignatieff or Rae was the leader, the reply as I recall was about a 2 point difference between them all, so all of you who think the world would be different if we had another leader...get over yourselves.

The party has to re-establish itself and if you consider Dion's history, he's the right person to do that. He understands what the party represents both from an academic standpoint and a practical/experienced one. Rae is relatively new to the party and Ignatieff has his own problems. Neither man has the experience that Dion has.

While I've swayed on occasion between the dove/hawk argument, I've stood fast on not revealing policy.

Well, as we live, we learn, in my view. I'm now at the point that I think some policy should be revealed and talked up. Were it me in charge, I'd limit it to policy that we are sure the Con's won't lift, knowing full well that they will attack it. Having thought it through, an attack gives us a position to highlight, not unlike the McGuinty/Ontario, Flaherty/Harper feud.

So, a reversal on my part. Does that make me what the Con's call a flip flopper? (so original, lol) No. It means you assess what is in front of you at the moment and make your best call based on that information.

That's all Dion is doing, imo, and for the media to paint that to fit their narrative is telling us the industry is being oblique.

The expression goes that we drive the media. They only write what we want to read. What a crock! They drive the conversation and I'd love ideas on how to curb that.

As an aside, this was a fun read. Speculative of course, but it's nice to read something that breaks away from the idiocy of MSM.

Bottom line? Tell me how to break this cycle of non-news.

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Government as Transparent as a Stone Wall

Do you remember the Manley Report? Of course you do. It was promoted far and wide as the definitive, non-partisan, (cough), answer to Canada's future in Afghanistan.

One of the biggest pieces of the report tackled the issue of the lack of transparency by this government concerning the file.

The government had little choice but to accept the findings and the Liberals in their amendment to the bill that followed, stressed the importance of openness and put forward suggestions on how to achieve that.

The Con's desperate for support on the issue whole heartedly agreed, (uh-huh), and moved on.

Well, now that time has passed of course the Con's are back to, well, who they are. That would be a government who says one thing for public consumption and does the opposite.

How incredibly ridiculous. Invite the opposition, provide an itinerary then abruptly revoke same without credible explanation. Not only is there no explanation today, yesterday they said it was NATO's fault. (If you read my previous post, you see the pattern here. When the going gets tough, blame someone else - the Conservative credo.)

The bottom line here to me, is that for whatever reason the Con's believe that their original strategy is working. I'd characterise that strategy as, tell Canadians what they want to hear, then implement our agenda by whatever means possible. First and foremost, keep Canadians out of the loop.

How is that working so far? They haven't moved in the polls so I'd say overall, it's not.

Resuming a secretive, exclusionary position is a bad move imo. Perhaps they believe it won't be noticed because the House isn't sitting.

Well, we'll just watch how that plays out on Monday.

Blame the Victim

As we have seen numerous times during the course of this government, when things are looking bad for them, they point the finger elsewhere.

That tactic has taken many forms, but this one really seems to be scrapping the bottom of the barrel.

To leak records from Foreign Affairs in an effort to cover the mess that they have made of this file, is not only slimy, it's illegal.

Oh, I know that conservative bloggers have been out defending this move, claiming that the document was obtained through Access to Information channels, but there is no evidence of that and based on this story, the reporter would have had to apply for the report before this story even became widely known to the general public.

The federal Access to Information process appears to be in crisis as the rising number of requests, along with the pressure of the Harper government's promises of increased transparency, are not being met with additional funding and resources, a new government report indicates.
The assessment, based on focus groups with ATIP employees, reveals that one department is so overwhelmed that it automatically implements one-year extensions for every request it receives "regardless of the pressure" and the Access to Information and Privacy Act's target of 30-day responses.

So until said reporter comes forward with documentation that confirms that he gained access through proper channels, let's leave that alone shall we?

What's truly disturbing to me though is the absolute glee that some Con's seem to be taking as it relates to this woman's situation. There is a truly repugnant little group who follow Harper, (not all conservatives obviously), but a select group that somehow believe it's okay to treat another human being despicably, because it suits their political agenda.

Gawd, even Duffy and Oliver were laughing about Martin and what the report said. Disgusting.

Some have argued that Brenda Martin deserves what she gets because she spoke ill of the current government, is ungrateful for their help, etc. That's some democracy these people live in isn't it? It suggests that only Harperites will walk freely on our streets.

Something else announced on Duffy tonight is that a new poll to be released tomorrow, Ipsos I think, shows the Lib's in Ontario have a 10 point lead. Thanks no doubt to Jim, the leprechaun, Flaherty. Considering that Brenda Martin is from Ontario, I can't see this story doing them any favours.

If someone in Foreign Affairs did leak this, it will be yet one more piece of the puzzle. The puzzle pieces continue to be put into place, but Canadians haven't yet stepped back far enough from the image to quite make it out. It may take an election for that to happen. If so, I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Damned if You Do, Damned if you Don't

I've resisted writing about what has been going on in Quebec for a couple of reasons. In spite of it being pushed in the media as a massive breakdown, something about the players didn't make sense to me. Additionally, I wanted to see where the story would go.

Now, I'm not suggesting that there are no problems in Quebec, I'm quite convinced that there are and ultimately Dion has to take responsibility for that. What I am suggesting however is that it appears as if the same dissenters have been stirring this pot for 15 months.

Think back to last year when has-been Ray Heard started making replace the leader noises. Frulla chimed in then and has often since Dion was elected. Jean LaPierre is another one that takes every opportunity to shake his head in feigned sympathy, suggesting that Dion is not a leader. I expect other unnamed senior Liberals have kept up this drum beat and if their story dies down, they drum a little louder.

All of this obviously does nothing to unify or motivate individuals to work toward a common good. If the object of the dissension exercise is to demoralise the team, I'd say that they almost accomplished their mission. The lack of foresight in such a strategy is stunning though.

That said, I think there are lessons to be learned and hopefully Dion's meeting with the group today will go some way in doing that. I don't think that the objections raised by Pinkus for example should be ignored however, I think it's equally important to look at why it happened.

At the news conference today Dion did not mince words about what was needed. More discipline which I interpret to mean, let's keep our internal business to ourselves, let's not pass along information to those who we know are working against us and let's prove the dissenters wrong.

If as Pinkus said, he has been trying to make the point quietly but to no avail, well that has to change immediately. Will it?

Well that remains to be seen of course but given all the publicity that this has generated, I suggest that it would be awfully difficult to keep a lid on who is behind the obviously organised attempt at a putsch.

As for nobodies like Pierre-Luc Bellerose, who cares? He's been outed as loon and as far as I'm concerned, any media outlet that is prepared to give him a further platform deserves to be called on that.

Is all of this going to go away? Given how it's been reported it's unlikely that the usual media suspects will let go of yet another way to go after Dion, however, if this cautionary tale actually ends up producing results then the oft repeated mantra of Dion being underestimated could/should be reinforced.

Dion has had every conceivable wrench thrown his way and he is still the Leader of the Official Opposition. Being portrayed as something you are not, does not make it fact. Yes I know, perception is everything, but until Dion has an opportunity to square off against Harper, he's not being given a real chance to dispel the nonsense.

He's already being criticised today for coming out and discussing this issue. One commentator asked, why would a leader need to demand discipline? Aside from the question showing a complete lack of understanding of how large organisations work, imagine if Dion had not spoken out?

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Flaherty Passes the the Twerp

The country in recent days has witnessed the Conservative leprechaun Jim Flaherty popping up at random, kicking his heels in an attempt to knock the Ontario Liberals off balance. He failed. The Liberals stuck to their guns (as if there was any doubt) so now it's on to phase 2 of the Conservative plan apparently.

Yesterday, the Con's decided that Pierre Poilievre should be their post budget point man. He made the usual scripted noises in his usual nasty manner.

I thought it a bit odd that such an insignificant back bencher would be sent to do this work, though having witnessed him in committee and watched him on the House floor, I know this guy stops at nothing and I mean nothing, in an effort to belittle and demean anyone who he perceives to be in his path.

He doesn't argue with fact. No, that would require knowledge and experience after all. Rather, he chooses to twist and distort at will, so long as it supports his agenda. He's one of those Con's who thinks it's funny to call opposition members Taliban supporters and would think nothing of ruining someones reputation if it meant his party could advance.

Well, now I think we may gain some understanding as to why he was selected to comment on the Budget. It seems the criticism is not about to stop there. Tonight I read this,

The federal Conservatives' relentless assault on the Ontario government intensified Wednesday with their most explosive salvo — an accusation that Premier Dalton McGuinty of having run a "sponsorship-style" slush fund.

Tory MP Pierre Poilievre drew parallels between Mr. McGuinty's Liberal government and the corruption seen in the federal Liberals' infamous sponsorship program.

Are the Con's insane? Apparently. For some reason they believe that attacking is a winning strategy and why wouldn't they? They've been doing that since they came to power and the public don't seem to be reacting all that negatively when you look at the polls. Why is that? Why are Canadians more inured to cheap politics than Americans at this moment in time? Are we that far behind the curve? Maybe we are, in terms of how we are fed information though you would think we'd have learned from the American experience wouldn't you?

That said, in this case I think the Con's are are making a big mistake and it's based on absolute arrogance. They pulled Flaherty back, imo, because his credibility in Ontario is zilch. Anyone promoting supply side economics in 2008, in Ontario, while already having proved first hand that it doesn't work looks rather foolish don't you think? So, they have to replace him with someone who will attack, but does not have a record in Ontario where it counts. Poilievre's riding is Nepean I think.

It's obvious to me that Poilievre has spent a great deal of time in the so-called, Conservative media training Centre. His speech pattern is so measured, so stilted, that he sounds like a robot.

I think the Con's have made a big mistake here because on camera he looks like a little twerp and it's obvious that he is thoroughly impressed with himself. He's as loyal as the day is long to his party, but his ego is voracious. He seems not to know when to rein himself in.

The Fed's are looking to denigrate Ontario Lib's. If they are bringing the twerp Poilievre out for phase 2, I cannot wait for phase 3.

I for one am going to enjoy watching them lose seats, in Ontario, in the next election.

More info: Kady O'Malley as usual has more insight.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Flaherty's Cowardly Machinations

What do you do when you know the country's economy is likely to suffer and along with it a province that has been especially hard hit in the manufacturing industry? Oh, I almost forgot. What do you do when that is happening and you happen to be the Finance Minister of the country?

Well you call an unprecedented press conference, apropos of nothing, point your finger and blame your past rival of course.

It matters not that it's illogical, juvenile and asinine. All that matters is that you deflect the blame from where it belongs. To be clear, by that I mean the high dollar resulting in a loss of manufacturing jobs, but Jimmy seems to have missed that. Indeed, he made all the wrong tax cut's to cope with what is going on, but he's determined to suggest that he took action and his rival from the past has not.

It seems to me that Flaherty is a little too focused on his short term strategy of shoring up his support and as a result, failing to see the larger picture of how this province is likely to react.

In the first place, it's astonishing to me that he had the audacity to refer to his record as a Harris MPP, today. If he honestly believes that Ontarians forget what his lame brained ideology did to this province, he's the one with amnesia. Secondly, it seems to me that the Con's got all the die-hard Harris supporters last time around and perhaps a couple of seats from some disgruntled Lib's, vis a vis Gomery/Sponsorship. I don't imagine that too many Lib's who temporarily parked their vote with the Con's are going to be endeared nor fooled by Flaherty's recriminations.

The bottom line is, he's ticking off grass roots Lib's at both the federal and provincial level. Wouldn't that be a force to be reckoned with during a general election? I don't know how much these two groups work together during general elections traditionally, but it seems to me that volunteers won't be difficult to find.

To those of you who are tempted to suggest that the provincial Lib's have not cut business tax and all experts are on your side, think again.

But he also notes that the provincial Liberals have done much to improve the business climate since coming to power, despite being handed a $5 billion deficit in 2003, ironically enough, from Flaherty, Ontario's last Conservative finance minister. The debate makes it look like Ontario is out to lunch, and that's not true," said Drummond.

McGuinty has cut corporate taxes by $3 billion a year, which is no small change. Ontario is phasing out their capital tax and taken a big chunk out of the provincial portion of property taxes, which are much more important to business than the corporate income tax."

As well, it is not clear that the federal approach of creating a low-level tax climate for all businesses would work for the troubled auto sector, an industry where direct government inducements for new plants is common.

When Don Drummond, who traditionally agrees with the Con's starts pointing out their hypocrisy, I'd suggest the Con's are in trouble. Other economists have been critical of Flaherty, but Drummond traditionally has supported him.

In short, (take that as a pun if you like), I think Flaherty's cowardice is doing more damage than he realises. Funny, I would have thought Harper would look out a bit farther than Flaherty is capable of, but he's chimed and backed him, so I guess he's not quite as clever as he's made out to be. What a surprise!

The Con's have gone beyond cocky and arrogant. From Finley, to Guergis, to Prentice to use an old expression, they have jumped the shark.

I'm liking the odds here. Canadians are not going to ignore these half hidden ideas forever. Special interest generates general interest and that is what I see happening here.

Bullying, denial and trying to pull a fast one always expose cowardice. Flaherty personifies that distasteful trait.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bring Me Your Poor...Your Huddled Masses, or at Least Your Disgruntled Liberals

Given the varied opinion out there about the Liberal party and Mr. Dion, I thought it might be productive to try to focus on a course of action that bridges the divergence we have seen of late, specifically on Liberal blogs.

My thinking is this. If we are witnessing so many varying opinions in this medium, there is a good chance that mood is being mirrored at the grass roots level as well as the more established echelons of the party.

If that is true, perhaps we could examine productive ways to build bridges and develop a consensus. If we can do that, then I suggest so can those who are intimately involved.

So, what I'm asking for is your best suggestion(s) on a course of action going forward. What ideas do you have that could both achieve unity (something that we're being told is lacking) and a common message without splintering us? What conditions do you believe we need in order to fell the government and how best do you believe we could win an election? How could we engage media? By that I mean, develop a narrative that they would be interested in following?

Well, you get the idea of what I'm looking for.

Respectfully, I'm not interested in looking backwards, nor am I interested in glib 'change the leader' comments. I'm looking to rational people to provide a rational perspective.

Obviously comments are open to all, including those from other parties, but if your comments do not add to the discussion, I'll delete them. That said I'm not out to censor any one's voice. Those who have come to know me, realise that I do not delete comments. In this case however, I simply would like to have a productive discussion which of course will include statements of discontent. Dissenters won't be deleted. Nonsense will be.

I know that readers of this blog are spread across the country, which always brings interesting perspectives. Both local and national concerns are reflected in your reactions and I think that is an important part of the discussion because imo, it reflects the reality of what the 'higher-up's' are faced with.

Anyway, I look forward to your contribution because I believe there is an answer and I think this forum is a great place to get to it.

Well That Didn't Take Long

When Mike Duffy followed up on a W-5 program that shone badly needed light on Brenda Martin's plight, I confess I was a bit surprised.

Why? Because it's not often that you see Duffy present something that might have a negative impact on the Con government. All the same, I was quietly grateful to see that the right thing was being done.

Then suddenly, last week, I saw Duffy modify his message somewhat. I muttered out loud, well that didn't take long. I'd already noticed that right leaning blogs were defending the government and shifting the blame to Ms. Martin, so I thought that the media may soon be shifting their position.
Duffy wasn't callous in fairness, but he was taking the party line by asking/telling Martin's friend Deb Teileman that the PM had pointed out that the government could not intervene in Mexico's judicial system. He seemed resigned to that fact and asked Tieleman 'What more can the PM do?'

Slowly but surely, the media seem to be readjusting their course to support the government. They are buying Harper's line that our government has been in touch with the Mexicans over 100 times. They omit pertinent facts however like:

Martin's Toronto lawyer, Guillermo Cruz Rico, said a review of the legal file showed consulate officials were notified of Martin's incarceration on Feb. 18, 2006, but it was not until Dec. 14, 2007, that a representative made official inquiries to the Mexican court about her legal status.

Her MP, Rick Norlock has made the comment that he's been on the case since day one. That is reported, but what is no longer in the news is this:

Norlock is the MP for the riding that includes Trenton. When he was approached by Canwest News Service in February 2007 for the first story about Martin's imprisonment, he told the reporter he had reviewed her file and said she belonged in prison.

Gone from the narrative now is the fact that when she finally received a consular visit and was presented with a list of lawyers, there was no assistance in choosing one that was a) reputable and b) a criminal lawyer. No, now the story has shifted how she herself may have damaged her own case by changing lawyers, etc.

Why is this happening? You tell me.

All I can see is that the government was being damaged by this story and now subtle shifts are showing up in how it's being told and I find that disturbing. They are still reporting what the politicians are saying, but they are leaving out context and what else is known about the case.

Bill Casey however once again shows us the difference between a Progressive Conservative and the gang who run the country at the moment with this article. Get a load of some of the comments that follow it. Compassionate conservatives showing us once again just how low they will stoop to defend Harper, who by the way wouldn't defend them if they found themselves in dire circumstances.

As the song goes...Isn't it ironic?

Update 1 - Stockwell Day's compassionate policy
Update 2 - Helena Guergis's version of compassion

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Quebec Federal Liberals...Time's Up!

According to Emmanuelle Latraverse, Radio-Canada, the executive of the Quebec wing of the party is calling an emergency meeting tonight to discuss the future of it's President, Robert Fragasso.

In fact, I think my language is too tame. Two VP's are prepared to table a motion tonight to ask for his resignation claiming that he has not done enough to prepare for an election.

She reported that war rooms and phone lines are not lined up, nor has a deal been struck to print signs. They only have 40 candidates, sigh, the list goes on.

Come on! Really? I obviously do not know if that is true, but if it is it's time for someone to draw a serious line in the sand and either replace him or get everyone possible on the front lines to be ready next week.

I mean really, what the hell has been going on? Fragasso was an Ignatieff supporter and that is being bantered around as the reason, but so were the 2 vp's who are bringing the motion forward so cut out the the back stabbing rumour. Perhaps it's a case of incompetence? Who knows?

Where is Céline Hervieux-Payette in all of this? Well she came out today and supported Fragasso. Even before she did though, the general consensus was that Fragasso would survive. Fine, that's all inside baseball and I'm nowhere near the dugout, but if that is the case surely to goodness this is a big wake-up call and one that must be heeded immediately.

I know it's easy to blame everything on Dion and we've surely seen a piling on this week, by media and by bloggers, but people, get a grip.

I thought about the Liberal Party as a corporation today and just how incredibly vast it is. The head's of corporations that large obviously depend on those beneath them, on the org. chart, to be overseeing what goes on day to day, level by level. Anyone who thinks the one who heads the company is intimately aware of what is going on in a regional office, is dreaming. The head of an organisation should be concerned with the concept of time span and complexity. That is the continuum that a leader would work by. That, I am sure is what Dion is working by.

I won't get into what that means and sadly, that fact seems to soar over the heads of those who give us our news but suffice it to say, those of you who believe that Dion should be involved in Quebec tonight, first hand, have no idea of what you are speaking of.

That said, the ability to inspire down the line is important and perhaps Dion has not done that, but I go back to time span and complexity. Remember the Herculean task he was up against once being named leader.

The race had gone on too long perhaps and there was a vacuum there. There was a lack of policy, direction, strategy, introducing yourself to the grass roots and the country, simultaneously. The Conservatives, playing their political role, practically from day one, began a character assassination campaign. It could be argued that Dion should have been focused there, but who in their right mind would believe that the Con's could show cartoons and be believed? Who in their right mind as leader, would focus there? Dion instead chose to focus on what really matters, but the press is not interested in that stuff. Sad isn't it?

So, we are where we are and it's time to either rally or go away. What should happen is that the Quebec wing will realise what is at stake and pull it together, now and I mean now.

Get it together or pack your bags. I for one am done with lot of you who speak to the press in an effort to produce what? Give Harper a majority?
Are you nut's?

Time's up!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Truth is Irrelevant to this Government

Do you remember when the issue of commuting a Canadians Death Sentence in Montana came up?

The Con's, including Day, Nicholson and Harper, have all said that asking for clemency would mean repatriating the convicted man, Ronald Smith to Canada and given their tough on crime agenda, well, that would just send the wrong message to Canadians.

Apparently they were lying though. The problem with lying of course is that it's tough to keep track of what you've said.

After the government revealed in late October that it would no longer be seeking clemency for Smith from Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, Harper explained that: "The reality of this particular case is that were we to intervene, it would very quickly become a question of whether we are prepared to repatriate a double-murderer to Canada. In light of this government's strong initiatives on tackling violent crime, I think that would send the wrong signal to the Canadian population."

According to Irwin Cotler, Day wrote a letter to the Sun media, stating that it's not necessary to ask for repatriation when asking for clemency re' the Death Penalty.

So, just as we all knew, their decision was based on their ideology. They believe in the Death Penalty. Not all of them of course, but those making the decisions in this case, Day an Nicholson surely do. It would seem that they are tacitly giving their approval of the Death Penalty.

Perhaps because they know they'd get nowhere trying to revive the debate in Canada, they have found a way to satisfy their primitive belief system. Maybe that is how Harper is placating the extremists in his Party? He gives them just enough to sate them, while keeping the larger issue off the table.

Consider the private member's bill, giving a fetus status, or the hidden portion of the bill that would give the Minister of Heritage veto/censor power, (though I don't know how extreme she is actually).

Anyway, it seems pretty clear to me just how little they really try to understand the nuances involved when it comes to matters of justice. They seem to only be able to think in black and white terms. Criminal (real or perceived) = bad. Tough justice = good. Even as it relates to the Brenda Martin case. The government is scurrying now, but it hasn't always been that way. Here is what the MP for Martin's riding had to say in February 2007.

Norlock is the MP for the riding that includes Trenton. When he was approached by Canwest News Service in February 2007 for the first story about Martin's imprisonment, he told the reporter he had reviewed her file and said she belonged in prison.

The real consequence of the Conservative position is the absolute lack of clout it gives our government when dealing with other governments, like this one and of course fundamentally shifting our national values.

Political Intimidation in Canada?

This is a very bizarre story.

Following Martha Hall Findlay's landslide win in that riding in the north end of the city Monday night, scores of her supporters woke up yesterday morning to find their tires had been slashed and the letter "L" had been scratched into their cars.

I've seen scores of lawn signs that have been defaced over the years, but I've never heard of anything like this.

At least one of the victims is a woman in her 70s who had two tires slashed.
Of the vandalized cars the Sun knows about, all were parked in private driveways with Martha Hall Findlay campaign signs in the yard, even though some had been taken down yesterday.

Some of the signs had been taken down, so that tells me that whoever did this knew where Martha Hall-Findlay supporters lived. They were familiar with specific routes/areas which would suggest that they were perhaps people who worked the area.

This is ridiculous and characteristic of just how militant our political discourse has become in this country. Could it just have been a malicious prank carried out by kids? I suppose so, but it seems pretty odd to me that only 1 group was targeted and that some of them didn't even have their signs out anymore.

Shutting down political expression through threats has no place in this country, but then, I'm of the view that a lot of what we have seen lately has no place in Canada.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Looking Forward

Reading and watching the post byelection coverage, I see that a new negative narrative is beginning. What a surprise! Last night wasn't a sweep and that was disappointing, but nor was it the disaster that is going to create innumerable problems for either the party nor it's leader.

Of course analysis of the loss in Sask. must be done, just as a review of what happened in Quadra must be undertaken, but the bottom line is we won 3 out of 4 and we have to create our own narrative of what that might mean going forward. I'm not for a minute suggesting that any of the reality of last night should be ignored. I am suggesting that publically, it is time to move forward in a way that will enable us to employ lessons learned.

The first thing I think the party should do is laugh at the media that is turning on it's head searching for anything that might continue to be a threat to Dion's leadership. I don't think we (the party) have been strong enough in denouncing some of the ludicrous scenarios that are trotted out on a daily basis.

Next, let's have a frequent show of strength as a team in public as often as is possible. Rather than react to the nonsense that the media throw at the Lib's, (which more often than not is simply a parroting of what the Con's have said), let's focus on what Harper has and hasn't done to the country. Two years of this government have passed and the media have been consumed with Dion's leadership style rather than analysing what Harper's policies really mean. I don't think the Lib's have been strong enough in making those points stick. Let's get some strong voices in front of media to do that, while stating what Dion would do differently.

Let's not fall into the trap of allowing others to write our narrative. We should take this opportunity as a party to turn the page and write our own.

For the record, I'm not saying that blogs shouldn't continue to critique and voice their opinion. I'm referring to a couple of things that I think the party should do to take advantage of the wins we did have and change the tone.

One last thing. The next time the caucus meets, let the dissenters voice their concerns (if they have the courage), address those concerns, then insist that they forever hold their peace.

Oh and anyone caught speaking to Jane Taber should be barred from caucus, ;).

Finally, it wouldn't hurt to point out how the NDP strategy seems to be reversing their fortunes. The Lib's have been attacked by both sides for months now. Let's start dismatling their hoary lines to shall we?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

When You Can't Muzzle Everyone

I wrote the other day about the odd behaviour of Art Hanger, chair of the Justice Committee, when he walked out of the meeting rather than hold a vote on whether or not to uphold his ruling.

Well, there is an interesting article today in the Chronicle Herald that mentions Hanger's behaviour, while introducing us to some new players and old colleagues of his, into this affair.

The journalist Stephen Maher, explains how he ran into Dan Wallace after a committee meeting last week. (If you've forgotten, Mr. Wallace was Chuck Cadman's executive assistant and while he wasn't in the actual office when the alleged offer was made to Cadman, he was there, presumably outside the office.) Maher tried to speak to Wallace, but his article points out that Wallace did everything except run out of the building to avoid him.

After the meeting, I approached him in the hallway outside the committee room where he and another man were waiting for an elevator.

"Mr. Wallace," I said.

He appeared not to hear me. "Dan Wallace?"

He moved to go down the stairs, without ever looking at me, and I followed him.

"Mr. Wallace, can I ask you a question?"

The elevator arrived. He got on and I followed him.

He got off the elevator.

"No, you can’t ask me a question," he said and made to go down the stairs.

I made to follow him, at which point he got on the elevator again.
I stepped on.

"I’m going up anyway," I said, at which point he got off and I decided to leave him alone.

Bizarre, but as Maher says, it's likely that Harper's team has put the fear of God in him.

Maher goes on to say that Hanger, who is a big law and order guy is obviously not interested in looking into this matter. It begs the question, is he too being pressured to take this out of the public eye? Hanger doesn't strike me as a man who could be intimidated, so I guess that question will just hang out there for a while.

Here's the interesting part though. Two of Hanger's former colleagues who are no longer beholding to this government are speaking as if the offer did occur.

Some of Mr. Hanger’s old colleagues from the Reform days — former MPs who knew Mr. Cadman well — believe that someone offered Mr. Cadman something, and that the powers that be in the Conservative party will try to prevent anyone from finding out what.
Randy White and Val Meredith are so confident in the integrity of the Cadmans that they speak about the million-dollar offer as if it were fact.
"It doesn’t surprise me that an attempt was made," Ms. Meredith said in a telephone interview.

Not only do White and Meredith believe that an offer was made, White reinforces the claim by saying:

"I hear there was an offer made in Ottawa once with regard to the mayor, and somebody was involved in that," he said, laughing. "I don’t know who that was, but you might want to check it."

Last year, Ottawa mayoral candidate Larry O’Brien met with fellow candidate Terry Kilrea to persuade him to give up his candidacy. Mr. Kilrea says Mr. O’Brien, who has been charged with bribery, promised to talk to B.C. Tory MP John Reynolds to arrange a federal appointment for him.

It's difficult to tell from that passage whether or not White is serious or not, but it does bring Mr. fix-it Reynolds back into the picture.

Ron Wood, a Parliament Hill veteran who worked for Mr. Reynolds, says his guy wouldn’t have done it, but someone else likely offered something to Mr. Cadman.
"I don’t think that either Chuck or Dona would have invented this thing," he said. "It’s possible there were other conversations that went on."

It's one thing when the opposition parties are going after the Con's on these issues, but when ex-party members and staffers see Cadman's story as not only credible but likely, I'd say the Con's have more trouble on their hands than they anticipated .

It's difficult to tell what Hanger's real motivation is here, but it does shine a bit more light on it. What is apparent though is that the Con's seem to be going to extreme lengths to keep this thing buried.

Suing the Lib's, keeping Wallace quiet, speaking of only one meeting, blocking procedure at committee, writing statements for both Dona Cadman and Wallace (allegedly) and offering no credible alternative explanation.

This government is not just looking bad, it's looking scary. Something tells me we are going to see more cracks in something that they've done their best to keep impenetrable.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Federal Byelections

There was some interesting programing on CPAC today. It was about all four byelections, but by far the most interesting of the 4 to me were the two going on in my back yard. That would be Willowdale and Toronto Centre.

The show was a bit of a behind the scenes look at what is going on in each riding. The CPAC reporter spent time with each candidate, in their riding offices, out door-knocking and at all candidate meetings. I know you are familiar with the two Liberal candidates, Martha Hall Findley and Bob Rae but you may be less familiar with the 2 Conservative candidates.

If you are not familiar with them, you can be forgiven. Let me introduce you. On your left is Maureen Harquil. She is Martha's opponent. On the right, Don Meredith who was injected into the Toronto Centre riding after the Con's ejected Mark Warner.
The reason you may not know them is because they have both been forbidden to speak to national media and of course that includes CPAC. The show exposed this fact in no uncertain terms. It was painful to watch my friends but if there was ever any doubt about how much control Harper has over his people, this puts it to rest.
The CPAC reporter arrives at Harquil's riding office, a 2 storey house. She's upstairs and he asks if he can speak with her. An employee dispatched from above runs down the stairs and picks up a phone and suggests that the reporter speak to Harquil's campaign manager. (She is upstairs people, likely listening to all of this!) He tries to book a time and is told that she will not be speaking to media. Apparently, she has failed to show up at some of the all candidate meetings too.
The same held true for Meredith. The reporter cornered him at one point and he said he was just too busy at the moment, but gave him his cell phone number. The reporter left messages for 2 days, with no reply. On the 3rd day at an all candidates meeting Meredith was at the front of the room and the CPAC videographer had him in his sights. The reporter dialed the cell phone number. Meredith looked at his phone and let the call go to call answer. In fairness, he gave the reporter a few minutes after the meeting, but it was pathetic.
As I said, it was painful to watch. I may not agree with what these people stand for, (Harquil for instance is Flaherty's cousin), but they are clever, accomplished individuals. What I do not get is how such individuals can accept such terms in order to run? If they cannot deviate from script when they are running a byelection, what makes them think they'll have a voice in caucus. Ironic really, because they run on the fact that they are in government so they have a voice and can get the people's work done. Voice? Not a chance, at least not in those riding's.
I'm sure the programs will be repeated, so if you're interested, tune in. I watched the Sask and B.C. pieces too. Those Conservative candidates spoke. The candidate in Sask. was impressive, the one in B.C. is very accomplished, but the Kool-Aid stains were visible on her T-shirt.
Great campaign don't you think? Vote for me. I don't matter, but if you vote for me you give my master, Stephen Harper, more power.

The Consistent Dearth of Truth

The Con's are fond of telling us that they are consistent. That you always know where they stand. Well I would dispute that because they rarely tell us where they actually stand. They are satisfied with telling us where they want you to believe they stand.

Their one consistency is, misleading, or what I like to call their dearth of truth. Whether it's the environment, crime statistics, sound economic policy, our sovereignty and space industry, voting to uphold the Canadian position on the Death Penalty worldwide then twisting the meaning of that vote, transparency, well you get the idea.

The latest in this long string is an interview I heard with Diane Finley on Duffy. The lies began as soon as she opened her mouth, led on by Duffy of course. She is asked about the amazing immigration numbers under the Con's and she replies that for the first time in 100 years they've attracted 430,000 newcomers. Note the word newcomer, not immigrant. Duff points out that we used to be thrilled if we got 250,000. Guess what, we really only attracted 251,000 immigrants, in fact the Con's attracted 10,000 fewer permanent residents than the Lib's. So how did she get her number? Well she added in the balance of 178,000, which is made up of temporary foreign workers who have no legal status and are at the mercy of their employers, as well as students.

Rah, rah! The Con's once again are manipulating language and their lies are being given air time. Well, the new legislation that they snuck into the Budget Implementation Bill last week, actually means a reduction to permanent residents and give the Minister new power. Finley was looking pretty smug on this one, (well to be honest, she always looks smug), but I when the truth comes out it'll come back to bite her.

Let's see if she has the courage to appear on media that actually understands the subject and would challenge/expose her. Somehow, I doubt it.

Hmmm, it just occurred to me that her riding is tobacco country. I presume that is an area that would welcome seasonal workers who can be paid a low wage. I'm just saying...

Tsk, Tsk Says the Speaker

The Speaker of the House, Peter Milliken, decided to admonish MP's yesterday for what he terms is their descent,

into virtual anarchy, lawlessness and crisis.

Not surprisingly, each party has their own interpretation of what his remarks meant but it's fair to say that when 3 out of 4 political parties agree with each other as to what is going on, a pretty clear picture starts to develop.

Is that to say that the 3 opposition parties have been angels? No, but to that I would say you can only put up with so much before you react.

I've spoken about the antics that have gone on in committee more than once on this blog, but it is really out of control now. Considering that is where the work of the country is meant to get done, this dysfunction should be concerning to all.

One of the most concerning to me is the Justice Committee and the fact that it's Chair Art Hanger has walked out of 2 meetings, refusing to uphold democracy and hold a vote, then proceeded to cancel the next meeting. The Procedures Committee is of concern too. Having put up with a 7 month phony filibuster, Confidence in the Chair was lost. A new one was voted in (albeit against his will, so an example of the opposition pushing back), and as a result he's not scheduled the next meeting. The Environment Committee has been filibustered, but it does get some work done in terms of hearing witnesses.

It's been mentioned that in addition to the 'dirty tricks manual', the government has inserted parliamentary secretaries on committee which is taking direction from the PMO. I have no way of knowing whether or not that is true, but it certainly is plausible.

I don't personally think this situation will be resolved before an election. Speaker Milliken said tsk, tsk, but that is generally his stance on these issues. That's not to say that he minced his words, but he provided no specific guidance.

So, expect more fireworks when parliament returns. Let's hope an opportunity to win an election presents itself soon because until then, it's Kindergarten Kommittee Time on the Hill.

All of that said, I want to give credit where it is due. While it would seem unlikely that I'd agree with Art Hanger on anything, in this case I say kudos to him.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Walking Away from Accountability/Democracy

Well, Harper filed his suit against the Liberal Party today. For whatever reason, he did not pursue his suit against Dion, Ignatieff and Goodale. Oh, wait, maybe the reason is he didn't have a case that he could win.

Interestingly, he's taken a page out of Mulroney's book and is suing for approximately the same amount. I wonder if we'll see him at a Committee in a few years time?

Anyway, the statement of claim is rather interesting. In addition to citing any and all terms used on the Liberal web site that Harper's lawyers believe constitute libel, they also drag Paul Martin, Gloria Galloway and of course the author himself into it, (not suing them though...yet), in an apparent attempt to determine where the leak of the book came from. I'm not certain how that directly relates to their case but hey, it's not unusual for Harper to fish with a very wide net and malign everyone within it's reach.

In Galloway's (G&M) case, they have a copy of an e-mail sent by the publisher, to her on February 27, 2008. It says,

This is an unproofed excerpt, with just the especially incriminating part of the book if you want to use it...

The implication I guess is that the publisher is behind the leak and that Galloway aided and abetted. My question is how did they get hold of that e-mail and my comment would be that even a 6 year old can see that context is not provided here, right down to the, ...., .

On Paul Martin the publisher suggests that the leak didn't come from their office and went on to say,

"It must have been from one of the reviewers that the author had contacted."

Paul Martin was not the only one who received a pre-release of course, but pish tosh, let's not let facts get in the way. It would be an interesting turn if Martin sued Harper.

I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me that many of the claims made will be easily rebutted. The tape of Harper speaking, clearly refutes some of them but of course within the claim they are suggesting that the tape is incomplete and doctored. They suggest that it picks up in mid-conversation with Harper and ends in mid-conversation. Here's the transcript, judge for yourself.

Zytaruk: "I mean, there was an insurance policy for a million dollars. Do you know anything about that?"
Harper: "I don't know the details. I know that there were discussions, uh, this is not for publication?"
Zytaruk: "This (inaudible) for the book. Not for the newspaper. This is for the book."
Harper: "Um, I don't know the details. I can tell you that I had told the individuals, I mean, they wanted to do it. But I told them they were wasting their time. I said Chuck had made up his mind, he was going to vote with the Liberals and I knew why and I respected the decision. But they were just, they were convinced there was, there were financial issues. There may or may not have been, but I said that's not, you know, I mean, I, that's not going to change."
Zytaruk: "You said (inaudible) beforehand and stuff? It wasn't even a party guy, or maybe some friends, if it was people actually in the party?"
Harper: "No, no, they were legitimately representing the party. I said don't press him. I mean, you have this theory that it's, you know, financial insecurity and, you know, just, you know, if that's what you're saying, make that case but don't press it. I don't think, my view was, my view had been for two or three weeks preceding it, was that Chuck was not going to force an election. I just, we had all kinds of our guys were calling him, and trying to persuade him, I mean, but I just had concluded that's where he stood and respected that."
Zytaruk: "Thank you for that. And when (inaudible)."
Harper: "But the, uh, the offer to Chuck was that it was only to replace financial considerations he might lose due to an election."
Zytaruk: "Oh, OK."
Harper: "OK? That's my understanding of what they were talking about."
Zytaruk: "But, the thing is, though, you made it clear you weren't big on the idea in the first place?"
Harper: "Well, I just thought Chuck had made up his mind, in my own view ..."
Zytaruk: "Oh, okay. So, it's not like, he's like, (inaudible)."
Harper: "I talked to Chuck myself. I talked to (inaudible). You know, I talked to him, oh, two or three weeks before that, and then several weeks before that. I mean, you know, I kind of had a sense of where he was going."
Zytaruk: "Well, thank you very much."

Did anyone see Harper in the House today? He looked pathetic. He pulled at his shirt cuffs like a little boy and complained about how the big, bad, Lib's had made terrible claims about him, so he was going to sue them, just like any other Canadian would do. Big tough Harper decided to hide behind a law suit, rather than face the music that not only Lib's, but the Bloq and occasionally the NDP are playing for him. All he has to do is sing, but adding a U to that word is more his style.

What an ass, what an embarrassment of a PM. If the man would only answer the questions that are being asked of him this could have been done with long ago. Harper, upon receiving the first question in the House, could have produced a document that outlined the offer made to Cadman but rather than do that they saw strategy in the story. They felt they could milk this into a sob story for the poor, poor PM who has been libelled by that nasty Leader of the opposition. I think Harper has even said that all would be revealed in court. (He also said he'd see Dion in court and we now know that is not going to happen.) Well, obviously he has something to reveal, so why doesn't he reveal it in the House?

He's either got nothing or he has something and either way, he's wasting our time. He's turning his back on democracy and has chosen a craven, ideological path that should come as a shock to no one.

These suits drag on forever and I've no doubt that brave Mr. Harper will refuse to answer questions from now on. Though technically I'm not sure he can hide behind the 'before the courts' thing, unless he interprets the Conservative Party to be comprised of only himself? Oh right, he does. Yes his lawsuit is Harper vs the Liberal Party, but the accusations reach beyond him of course.

Funny how the bully's are always exposed as being cowards isn't it?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Forgiving Interference Does Not Give You Permission to Interfere

Man, I thought I had problems with Cellucci but this man, David Wilkins, makes me crazy. He admitted last week on The House, that yes, the NAFTA leak was interference in the Democratic Primary.

Today, he comes out against the Liberal ask to remove our ambassador to the US, Michael Wilson.

Hello? This guy has interfered in our process more times than I can count and it's ticking me off. I know he had no experience as an ambassador before this appointment, but you'd think he'd 'caughtened on' by now, to use one of his expressions. That in itself should tell you something, but let's move on.

He spoke to a group today and suggested that there was no reason to remove Wilson, because the Canadian government had acted swiftly to denounce leaks and to look into the issue, so it's time to move on. Huh?

Why do I always feel as if I'm living in Alice's world when a Conservative speaks?

Wilson leaked, "allegedly" (lest I be sued), and that is very, very, bad according to Harper, but it's fine to leave the leaker in his position, because after all.... What? He's one of you? He's on your side? He strengthens a McCain talking point?

Good grief people, open your eyes and ears.

For those who are not following the issue, it was reported tonight that the NAFTA issue is going to PA. Yep, Clinton is not letting go of this issue which keeps Harper's lackeys in a tough spot. Apparently McCain is willing to use it to his advantage as well. Harper is not faring well on this one.

Wilkin's should just shut up. His words are not diplomatic, they are partisan beyond belief and that is how he began his diplomatic career in this country. My dream is to have the Liberals in power with this guy as our diplomat from the US.

Cellucci was a pain to be sure, but he's toned down since leaving that post. Wilkin's is unbelievable. When Bush is gone, so will his short lived career.

Until then, it's about time someone called this toady to account.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Minority Government...It's Not Working

Journalists and pollsters are fond of telling us that Canadians are happy with this minority government. That would suggest that they believe it is working. But it's not.

I suppose that sentiment is based on what they see in the papers, specifically that the country is still humming along so business must be getting done efficiently. But it's not.

Today in the Justice and Human Rights Committee the Chair, Art Hangar, walked out when his ruling was challenged. This of course was the committee that was to hear testimony on the Flanagan/Finley affair, (let's leave the Cadman's alone for a while shall we?). Anyway, Dominic LeBlanc presented his motion and the Chair ruled it out of order. A Bloc member challenged the Chair and Art Hangar promptly walked out of the room. That's right. Just up and left. Your government hard at work my good friends.

Now, before my Conservative readers begin to mount their defense of this action, ie. witch hunt, fishing expedition, blah, blah, blah, you should of course remember that the Chair of a committee is not there to determine it's destiny. The Chair is there to ensure that procedure is followed and remain neutral. The committee itself is the master of it's own destiny and the Chair must defer to their wishes. For the record, Hangar told Don Newman tonight that he'd already made up his mind to take the action he did before the meeting.

So once again today we have an example of just how dysfunctional this parliament is. This committee is of course not the first to show the Con's inability to play by the rules. They've been filibustering for weeks in the Environment Committee and for months in the House Procedures Committee, which incidentally is where Hangar wants this matter to go. What a surprise! That would take the investigation into the Conservative In & Out scheme off the table, which is what the Con's have been filibustering.

Here's the thing though, they aren't really filibustering, which is a legitimate tactic. They are taking up all the air time during committee meetings, (2 hrs.), then the Con Chair adjourns. No, no, no! If you choose to filibuster, you should talk for as long as you can without washroom or meal breaks. You don't prepare material for 2 hours and know you'll be done...that defeats the purpose doesn't it?

The point is this parliament is not working in the areas it should and to be honest, I don't believe it can so long as the government is the current Conservative government. Now, don't blow a gasket here. If this government was the Progressive Conservative Party, of course it could and has worked. This particular government is not that though, as we all know. You can dispute what their agenda is, but what is clear is that they do not represent what the majority of Canadians believe. They have been very clever at concealing it and the media, all media, have given them a free ride. I've yet to figure out why, but if I read one more time that the 'hidden agenda' was a mirage, I'm going to scream.

It wasn't and isn't a mirage. They are real and standing right in front of you, honest to goodness sentient beings, chanting na-na, na-na-na, yet you seem to hear, these are the same old Tories, nothing scary here... move on. It is you my friends who are living in a mirage.

Anyway, back to my point. If approximately 66% (representing us of course) of the House is philosophically opposed to the ideology of the government, it will be constantly under attack. Governments are of course always under attack, but they are rarely in the position that they have to resort to bullying, lying, threatening, suing and having a point man in every corner prepared to throw a punch.

At present, it's not permeating the public consciousness, because the Lib's are making their point on issues, but they are not yet in a position to vote the government down, so the public, (the normal people who do not follow committee meetings, :), believe all is well.

I've understood the rationale of the abstention tactic, but I think now is problem time. I still believe we have to allow the by-elections to take place and then I'd like to see the Lib's take the government down, but we have to lay some groundwork first. Here's what I mean. If Canadians think all is well, the call of an election will not make sense if it's suddenly brought about. We have to position, not dishonestly, that we've done what we could to make this parliament work, we've tried to amend Bill's, bring important issues to committee, but the government is being uncooperative and we have lost confidence in their willingness to work with opposition party's.

We should also point out that the NDP spends more time attacking the Lib's than they do attacking the government, who should be their target. Let's point out how often in committee meetings that they, the NDP, vote in favour of Liberal motions. They talk tough about their disagreement with the Lib's, but where the real work gets done, that is not the truth. They agree with the Lib's. Let's expose their votes shall we?

A minority government with this Con Party in power is not sustainable and I guess the objective is to prevent a majority. I think sometimes that is what some hawks miss. We have to be in a position to prevent a majority and we have to prove that to Canadians, tell them the truth of what has been happening. Will the truth be carried by the media?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Evading the Obvious

The Conservative Affair that sadly we all refer to with Chuck Cadman's name, continues. What is now obvious, is that the Con's are being very specific about their language and they are evading very specific questions.

Their point man, James Moore, has been ridiculed for repeating 2 or 3 lines, over and over again. It doesn't seem to matter that his spiel is in no way is a response to a legitimate questions. He, in a robotic manner, insists on the repetition.

A recent article clearly tells us just how controlled the messaging is. It also tells us just how dishonest the Con's are being.

When The Canadian Press asked Sandra Buckler, the communications director for Mr. Harper, if anyone connected with the party had ever offered Mr. Cadman the policy, Ms. Buckler replied: "I categorically deny it."
That is the furthest a member of the Prime Minister's staff has gone to date in disputing the allegations of Mr. Cadman's widow, her daughter and her son-in-law.
But Ryan Sparrow, a Conservative Party spokesman, declined in six e-mail exchanges with The Globe and Mail to state that no Conservative official had ever offered a financial inducement of any kind to Mr. Cadman.
And late last week, Ms. Buckler also balked at making that kind of blanket denial – even when it was made clear that financial benefits were not being interpreted to include the campaign funds that the Conservatives admit they were prepared to give the dying MP.
The Globe and Mail asked Ms. Buckler to confirm that "no representative of the Conservative Party at any time offered Chuck Cadman a financial benefit in exchange for his vote [understanding] ‘financial benefit' to mean anything but help with a possible election campaign."
She twice refused, saying only that "the CP story is accurate" and that her "comment to CP stands."

What does that tell you? Buckler is hanging her hat on the narrow wording that the CP reporter used....Insurance Policy. Come on! Think back to how Chuck spoke. He indeed may have told his family it was an insurance policy in an effort to not go into detail or perhaps the Con's did offer that they would ensure that a policy of sorts would be covered by them. He was not a man who elaborated. He depended on the recipient to understand his meaning.

At any rate the Con's are sticking to that story and in the House, Moore insists there was one meeting with Flanagan. They refuse to discuss other meetings, which admittedly they had. Maybe not with Flanagan but with others.

With all of this time passing, I imagine that there has been an awful lot of paper shredding going on. My hope is that someone with a conscience has something to say, something to show.

The odd part of this story is that it's reported that Cadman had decided to run in the next election. I know, I read something recently that said he was told in April just how bad his condition was and upon reflection he decided not to run again. For the life of me, I cannot find that passage anywhere, but if you know it, please forward it. Dona and Jodi may be able to confirm that fact...but to continue to drag them into this seems unseemly.

All I know is Moore's statement in the House today, Chuck Cadman was going to run, is that James is depending on Cadman's public statements and ignoring reality. He calls himself a friend. Good grief. Cadman wasn't answering calls that day, he was too ill. Flanagan himself said how frail he was when they did meet. This was not a man who was going to run again.

Prior to getting the meeting though, Flanagan was frustrated and he wanted a meeting on that day come hell or high water. Cadman obviously knew better than to respond to Flanagan or Finley. So the tough guys, the good cop/bad cop team, decided to employ John Reynolds a decided bad cop and he calls good cop, or at least the one that presents himself that way, Gary Lunn.

I still wonder why the Libs aren't going after him. HE set the meeting up after all. I know he cannot testify to what went on in the room, but surely to gawd he can speak to what and who he was suggesting Cadman should listen to and why. Notice no Ministers in BC are responding to this affair. Only people once removed have come forward. That in itself is telling.

There is too much here people. I suspect that the media will grow weary of the story and start to turn on the Lib's because they are pursuing it too fiercely, but that in my mind would be a mistake. To me, really good journalist's have an opportunity here to uncover what has been only given a peek at thus far.

Evading the obvious serves none of us.

International Incompetence

I hope by now you know who this woman is. If you don't, in part, you can thank your current government for not having brought her to your attention. That is because their attention doesn't seem focused in her direction. The media are finally doing a better job at getting her story out there, but the incompetence that the Con's have shown on this file is astonishing.

For those unfamiliar with the story, Brenda Martin has been in a Mexican prison for over 2 years. Her crime? She hasn't committed one, but if you had to ascribe one to her, it would be that she was not equipped to navigate a corrupt justice system.

Martin, 51, has been imprisoned in Guadalajara since February 2006, charged with money laundering and being part of a criminal conspiracy. She had been living in Puerto Vallarta for several years before she was hired in 2000 as a chef and house manager by former Edmontonian Alyn Waage.

Martin's Toronto lawyer, Guillermo Cruz Rico, said a review of the legal file showed consulate officials were notified of Martin's incarceration on Feb. 18, 2006, but it was not until Dec. 14, 2007, that a representative made official inquiries to the Mexican court about her legal status.

Can you imagine being in a prison, in Mexico for 22 months without Canadian officials taking up your case? It should be unbelievable but the incompetence that this government has shown on Foreign Affairs matters, sadly makes it quite credible.

This isn't the first time I've written about Brenda Martin. The government has an option to send a formal Note of Protest, but they seem to be resisting that. The situation has been bad from the beginning, but it's become much worse over the weekend when Brenda Martin was hospitalised and is now under a 24hr. suicide watch. She's lost all hope because a judge ruled against her last appeal which outlined how she has not been afforded due process.

More info here and here.

She is just one person of course who is languishing in a foreign jail. Two others who have been in recent news are Huseyin Celil, and Saul Itzhayek. Then of course we have the ridiculous situation where we recognise the Death Penalty in the US re' the Ronald Smith , while advocating against it and expecting to be effective in negotiating on behalf of Mohamed Kohail.

Since this government took power, they have made a real mess of all things related to Foreign Affairs. Beginning with the war in Lebanon, insulting China, Ambrose on the environment in Nairobi, not attending the International AIDS conference, Harper and his position on the Environment at the G-8, Baird in Bali and of course now the NAFTA mess.

Please write your MP and copy Foreign Affairs on behalf of Brenda Martin.