Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I Guess It's Not as Complicated as the Media Think

During most news reports or panel discussions with media, it is often said that the In and Out scheme is too complicated for Canadians to really get it. Or, they suggest that it doesn't really register with the public.

Message to media who feel it necessary to make such ridiculous comments. Canadians are smarter than you think.

A new poll suggests most Canadians believe the federal Conservatives spent more money than they were legally allowed during the last election.

Fifty-eight per cent of respondents told The Canadian Press/Harris-Decima survey they don't believe the Tories' insistence that they did nothing wrong.
Doubts about the ruling party's response to the affair were most pronounced in British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario - the three most populous provinces that will determine the outcome of the next election.

Also, 33 per cent of respondents believed that if the allegations are true, the illegal overspending would have been a decisive factor in the Conservatives' minority victory in the 2006 vote.

Not only do Canadians get it, it would seem that all the ridiculous attempts by Poilievre to conflate the civil matter with the investigation have failed.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What the Hell are We Doing?

I realise my pic doesn't represent the article I am going to refer to, but take a good look because we are responsible for this.
The article is here and all I have to say is I have no words to describe what is going on and fewer yet for those who strive to defend it by pointing fingers.
They disgust me, all.

Throwing Snowballs in Hell

Well it seems that the Bloc was pretty clever to bring forward their motion today that states, that the House express full confidence in Elections Canada and the Elections Commissioner, (paraphrased). It of course was a political move but useful in it's way. It's just too bad all of Canada didn't see the debate. Many things came to light.

Poilievre spent his 20 minutes deliberately confusing issues, distorting as usual and bringing up comparisons of how the other parties followed exactly the same procedure as the Con's. Interestingly, he seems to be raising all the issues that their legal team wanted to present in the civil suit, but they were ruled inadmissible and irrelevant, (that according to Dominic LeBlanc).

Why would you do that? Oh right, to confuse Canadians!

Each and every example Poilievre brought up, was shot down by the opposition. For example, the petulant one stated that Dominic LeBlanc did the same thing in a group ad buy. LeBlanc has explained numerous times how it is different, so I won't go through that, but Poilievre went further and said that LeBlanc's office wrote a cheque for the ad to the Liberal Party of Canada, proving that the national party actually paid for the ad and allowed LeBlanc to claim a refund from EC. What Poilievre leaves out is that the cheque was made payable to the Liberal Party of Canada (N.B.). In other words, he interpretted the law as it was intended.

Over and over P.P. uses the same evidence, (all contained in a shiny new black, 3 ring binder), all of which is as solid as a snowball in hell. He speaks only to the civil suit and of course ignores the real issue, alleged over spending nationally. It's really quite bizarre.

Anyway, the debate served to shine a light on what the Con's did and their evasive responses shone a light on who the Con's are.

The Con's voted against the motion tonight and even though this was meant to be a political move on the Bloc's part, I think the Con's have made yet another mistake.

For the government of this country, not the Conservative party, but the government to indicate that they do not have confidence in a trusted institution through a vote and not just rhetoric, sends a pretty bad signal.

Will it resonate internationally? Doubtful but the risk is certainly there. Sending Canadian observers to an area that is known to be less than ethical in voting procedures is something we have been proud of. What's to prevent an unethical player to suggest that our observers are useless, using the argument that the Government of the country they represent doesn't have confidence in them? As I say, I doubt that will happen but this a group of people that seems not to think through the possible consequences of what they do.

Most of us have known their position on EC and other institutions for some time, but they have been pretty good at denying that and providing an alternate explanation that seems to receive a lot of ink. Now they are on record and that just reinforces all of their other moves and the motivation behind them.

The list has grown to be quite long but, hmmm, who was the last person they said they had no confidence in? Hint, she's suing for wrongful dismissal.

Throwing snowballs in hell. Go team!

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Anatomy of Arrogance

If one thing has become crystal clear, it is that the CPC government, caucus and many others associated with the party seem to hold the opinion that arrogance is a virtue.

It's difficult to know how this bizarre notion came to be.

Perhaps it's a trait that shows itself when you are desperate or perhaps it emerges when you are paranoid or then again, maybe it stems from an ideology that is focused on fighting the culture and institutions that make up the country that you currently are meant to govern.

As it relates to the Conservatives, my money would be on all three.

There is no question in my mind that this arrogance comes from the top and is being modeled by all who follow Harper. His caucus, his staff, some opinion writers, some bloggers...they all display the same arrogant tone that is either delivered with an attitude of superiority, childish taunts or vindictiveness.

The reason I say it comes from the top should be obvious to all when you consider Harper's history and his disdain for so much of what this country has grown to be. If you need a reminder, Elizabeth Thompson has an interesting letter here, penned by Harper when he was the leader of The National Citizens' Coalition. Fast forward to Tom Flanagan's book where he absolutely delights in telling us how election spending laws can be skirted and it's clear that they feel they have a right to do what they choose without consequence. That is arrogance. There is not a scintilla of regret, remorse or even thoughtful consideration of the ramifications.

I think this places Canada in a rather interesting albeit frightening, position at the moment. We have a party in power that believes the Canada we have become, is wrong, and their vision of it is right. They represent only one third of the population, (though personally I think the number of people that actually understand and believe in the Con vision is less than that), and they do not care what the remaining two thirds has to say. That's arrogance.

I brought up three points when I opened this post. Desperation, paranoia and ideology.

The ideology for all who pay attention is obvious. It was interesting in QP today and I think a good idea, for Dion and Ignatieff to speak to the Economy and leave the scandal stuff to their bench. They both raised the ideological issue of running the public purse so close to the line that the ability to create and/or fund programs becomes impossible. That part of the Con platform has never been clearly articulated and before now would have only been speculation. Flaherty did nothing to dispel the plan.

The desperation in my view is showing up on all sorts of areas. Attacking Dion in an effort to define him before he'd even filed his acceptance speech indicated that they knew they would be facing an opponent that would reveal the Con's, in sharp contrast, as being contrary to what Canadians expect from a government. I think it was Susan Delacourt on Politics last week that pointed to the fact that if you consider that they were willing to do anything to get Cadman's vote and willing to do anything to win an election, even overspend, you start to see a pattern of desperation.

Paranoia? Well again, this too should be obvious to all. From the famous mutterings of Harper hoping for a majority to the continued outright attack since taking power. Even yesterday the, enfant irascible, of the Con party, Pierre Poilievre suggested that Elections Canada tipped off the Lib's to the 'visit', (then changed to raid, now being termed the storming of Con offices). Hilarious really considering we all saw what happened. I somehow missed the battering rams and drawn arms. (BTW, he was made short work of on the panel that CBC Sunday put together, but of course given a pass when Craig Oliver had him on QP. Go figure?) He was equally as foolish in QP today. If the Lib's were ever given a gift it's this guy as the Con point man on the In and Out. He fabricates, misquotes, uses outdated material and generally looks like a buffoon.

I think Canadians are starting to get this party and government now. I'm sorry it's taken 2 years, but I'll allow that sometimes you need to let things play out in order to truly learn. They have been masterful at hiding and conning and given what the Lib's have been through, we've likely been less than masterful at exposing it.

I'm one of those impatient people that would prefer to have everyone have their light-bulb moment at once and wishes that the media actually stuck to reality and gave their audience some history and fact, but I accept the moment for what is.

Cross Country Check-Up, (which I am wont to listen to), had an interesting show yesterday. It spoke to how dysfunctional Parliament is at the moment and while Dion didn't get off the hook, call after call spoke to how the government has created an environment that doesn't work.

Committee's were mentioned, (gee, I thought only Kady O'Malley and I watched that stuff, lol), QP of course, Bills with hidden bit's in them, the Manual to shut down committees, nastiness, personal attack, well the list went on and frankly laid out what I and many others have been saying for many months. While sad for the country, I found it encouraging that Canadians are getting it.

This bears mentioning though. There was not one call that I heard supporting what Harper has done or is doing in the kind of uncertain terms that I used to hear on the program. That is a shift and tells me that Canadians have understood the arrogance of Harper.

Will the Con's shift strategy? I don't think so. For all their attempts to present a faux centrist position, I do not think Harper's fundamental ideology will not permit that. You see, they believe that the longer they are in power, (though not through the scandal stuff), the more they will be able to push their view under the radar, have it become the status quo and Canadians will shift to their mentality.

Good try I say, but to coin a phrase, it ain't gonna work. Underestimating those who elect you is arrogant. Most people easily recognize that trait and have a negative reaction to it. By assuming that no one will notice is beyond arrogant. Give me a word here, I'm at a loss.

Perhaps this phrase comes close?

He was like a cock who thought the sun had risen to hear him crow.

George Eliot

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Drip, Drip, Drip

I wouldn't go so far as to say the wheels of the government bus are falling off, but I think they are getting a bit wobbly.

While Flaherty continues to make statements that fly in the face of what Mark Carney had to say last week, it would seem that Canadians aren't buying it.

A new poll suggests economic fears and a lack of optimism are problems for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservatives.

Fifty-six per cent of respondents to The Canadian Press-Harris-Decima survey said they were worried about a recession, and 55 per cent said they didn't feel Harper offered much optimism or inspiration.

Slightly over 50 per cent said they felt the Tories don't care about the same issues they do.

Perhaps with the arrival of Spring, Canadians may be awakening from their 24 month hibernation.

Friday, April 25, 2008

On the One Hand

A Leger Marketing poll has come out and for all intents and purpose it does not sing a pretty tune for the Lib's, but I'm not going to analyse the poll because that was not my first thought when I saw it. My first thought was the other Leger Poll that spoke to Quebec provincial concerns and leadership.

I thought about how Harper has hitched his wagon to Dumont and how the shine has come off him in the province. What struck me is the rationale behind why Dumont's popularity seems to be dropping, vis a vis Sylvie Tremblay's departure as well as what else is mentioned in the article. It sounds so familiar doesn't it?

All of those reasons and more are what kept Harper at bay for so long. They haven't gone away as the Con's like to crow, they've simply been buried or obfuscated, particularly in Quebec where Harper only allows the conversation to focus on how much he's done for the province. When was the last time he was forced to discuss social issues?

I'm not in Quebec, so I'm going to rely on my Quebec readers to set me straight if I'm off base here. I'm simply expressing what I see from here.

What intrigues me, is what part of Harper will play more strongly in a national election? The devolution of central power, which is where he has been coming from and plays, or the importance of a progressive agenda as it relates to so many issues? He's on the wrong side of almost all of the later, yet at the moment he seems to be forgiven for this. I find that odd so I question how much press it gets in the province. Conversely, it will be interesting to see how Dion plays up those very issues. As much as it is reported that Quebec hates Dion, where does their heart lie?

Dumont is not forgiven. I understand he has bill boards in the province that speak to restricting immigration. How will that play out against the new immigration bill that Harper has brought forward? Quebec has the most vibrant Arts community in the country. Are they yet in tune with the bill being brought in that will give their "darling" of the party Verner control over who will receive funding? Is the back door entry to pro-choice rights through a private members bill even being discussed? And the scandals that seem all important in Ottawa and to us junkies, seem to have been displaced by hockey at the moment. I know the In and Out is not sponsorship, but it is still in large part catering to Quebec.

The bottom line here for me is I'm not sure that Quebecer's have realised just how closely aligned Harper is to Dumont, not just ideologically and thats important, but in fact. They both manage the press, they manage their caucus and have no front bench to speak of. Neither of them represent a team, (because they have none) so they are top down managers of the message. It should be noted that Harper let some of his guys off the leash recently and that hasn't turned out so well, even this far into the game. Expect to see that stop.

If Quebecer's are critical of Dumont it stands to reason that they should take the same tack with Harper and perhaps in a national race that will come to the fore.

Harper was depending on Dumont to help him through the next election. Let's hope he sticks with that strategy, though in Quebec where they really are very political in my view, opinion truly seems to align with a barometer in that it seems to change from day to day. Perhaps that is a reflection of just how sophisticated they are in measuring what is real.

On another note, Susan Dellacourt told us that tomorrow the Star will be releasing a poll that suggests the Con's are paying the price nationally for the In and Out and more important to me, both she and Rob Russo finally articulated that Canadians do get this scheme.

It's nice to see journalists not assuming we're idiots isn't it?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Keep it Up Pierre

On Politics tonight, the ever petulant Poilievre took a slightly different tack. I suppose all his recent whining about the Con's being treated differently than everyone else had run it's course, so instead he displayed a rude, cavalier and dismissive attitude that suits him so very well.

Of course the issue was the In and Out scheme and Newman had just played video of a former Conservative candidate who could not have made this whole scam simpler to understand. Here's the clip (click on Thursday)and the ensuing interview with Poilievre and LeBlanc.

What is disappointing is that Newman, who obviously knows his stuff and is usually pretty good at following up on something that opens up unexpectedly, somehow tonight missed the obvious.

In the interview with the candidate Goudie, he (Goudie) claims that he received instructions from the Nat'l offices that $2000.00+ was going to come to his riding account to contribute to his advertising campaign for television advertising.

Hello? The party is telling him that they will put money in his account for local advertising, but they will make the buy and it will be on TV. When Goudie's people asked if they could instead use the money for local radio the answer was no. The money must be returned tomorrow. (Hmm, any accountants out there? Could this money have been re-used elsewhere and still show a legit expense/intake balance at the end of a fiscal reporting period? I ask the question because perhaps that would address just how much information the commissioner required.)

Poilievre then goes on to say that Goudie obviously chose not to spend the money he was given on Conservative advertising. Huh? No, he chose not to claim it as regional advertising, BECAUSE IT WASN'T. Goudie clearly lays out the scheme.

I suspect Newman was taken aback by Poilievre's arrogance, rudeness and general dismissive behaviour. Not only of the accusation, but of a former candidate of the team he bat's for. (I wish anyone considering running for this party well. Check your brain at the door though.)

It's unbelievable to me that any of this is being swallowed, even by Con's.

I'll exclude Newman from this next comment, but most of the media is becoming dismissive of this issue now. Tonda McCharles who I generally respect was all sympathy and tears for the poor Con on her panel today. The opposition was apparently piling up. It must be noted that she was one of the invitees to the Con spin control session last week. Craig (it's time to retire) Oliver commented that the Con's should have just buried this a long time ago with a different strategy. Yay, go Craig! Jane Taber and the equally riveting Gloria Galloway did their level best to portray the Con's as victims too.

It's time to ask some serious questions here and I suspect that is what EC is doing. I think these questions are reasonable and of course, they are partisan.

Anyway, I say to the Con's, keep Poilievre out there. What you consider to be your asset will turn out to be your demise.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tacit Support?

There is no question that Chantal Hebert is a clever writer. She generally includes just enough balance and logic in her articles so as to provide cover for any bias that might be picked up, unless of course she is referring to Stephane Dion.

While she does get a dig in at Dion in this article, that is not the subject of this post.

What bothers me here is that anyone (outside of the obvious partisan opinion piece writers), would entertain the thought that Elections Canada's reputation is on the line for doing their job.

Her argument may seem reasonable at first glance, but she misses an important step. Hebert leaps to the conclusion that without an absolute win by EC, they lose their credibility.

But if it should turn out that Elections Canada overplayed its hand, the cost to its institutional reputation could be prohibitive.

Their credibility has only ever really been attacked by Harper and his compadres at the National Citizens Coalition, Gerry Nicholls for instance. Here's the thing. EC is only at the stage of investigation. To the best of my knowledge, it hasn't yet been determined yet whether or not to refer this to the Director of Public Prosecutions. It may turn out that the commissioner decides not to do that. Will they have ruined their reputation then?

Hebert thinks so, primarily because they went into the offices in such a public way and used the RCMP.

By calling in the RCMP to assist them in executing a warrant against the governing party, election officials had to know that they were hanging the Conservatives out to dry, creating a perception of guilt that will not be easily dissipated and a sense of wrongdoing that may yet not live up to the facts.

Well, from what I've read they used the RCMP because they do not possess the expertise in their ranks to extract the information they required.

It's also been asserted that EC was only able to gain the cooperation of 14 or so of the 67 candidates whose riding's were used for the scheme. It is alleged that the Party advised the remaining candidates not to cooperate with EC.

Let me ask you. If you were investigating a party who was telling key participants not to cooperate with you, would you depend on the party to provide you with the information you felt you needed to complete said investigation?

The Con's tell us that they have provided all the information that they have been asked for by EC, but of course that has to do with the civil suit which involves making a case for rebates. That, specifically, is not what EC is investigating and it's tough to know what information could have been excluded concerning the real issue here...national over spending.

It will be a while before all the facts come out obviously and that is why I take exception to what Hebert is doing here. She's setting up a narrative and unnecessarily raising the spectre of doubt on one of our institutions that has a stellar reputation around the world.

I think it's dangerous, unfounded and while she'd never say as much, her unjustified narrative just happens to coincide with Harper's view.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

He Came to Change Ottawa, Not in the Way He Said Though

During the last election, Harper made great claims of change, should he take government. He said he was going to clean things up and of course we all now know how that has gone.

The thing is, he didn't come to Ottawa to clean things up. He came to Ottawa to tear it apart. The big hint was when he claimed that he would be kept in check by all of the Liberal institutions that were part of Ottawa. He said it with a smile on his face but behind his back he had a stick that was searching for the hornet's nest.

The change he spoke of to the country was one of honesty, transparency and clean government. Since taking power there are too many instances of dishonesty, obstruction and dirty government tricks to mention coherently.

No, the change he was focused on were the institutions and government practices that he had derided for years. The Senate, the Judiciary, the Civil Service, Arts funding, media access to government, Immigration and Elections Canada, to name a few.

He's often cited as being a great strategist. I beg to differ. He's slick but spinning a situation into an unrecognizable state does not constitute good strategy in my books. It's a temporary method to divert attention but when it is used in each and every situation that calls for accountability, it loses it's effect. The recent communications strategy employed last Sunday? Idiotic.

Today when asked about the In and Out scheme in New Orleans, he again diverted and said this.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the Conservatives followed the spending rules in the last election — but if the official interpretation of those laws changes, the party will adapt as well.
“This is the same story as before,” he said. “We always follow the law as it has been interpreted.”

The prime minister said if the agency's reading of the rules prevails, then the Tories will change their spending strategies.
But he said all the other parties will have to follow suit.

Cute don't you think? He suggests that the court might rule that the interpretation of the law might change. Uh, no. If the court rules in Election Canada's favour it would mean that the Con's misinterpreted the law and according to the affidavit, EC are suggesting that they did that knowingly or that they should have known.

He also says that if the ruling goes that way, the party will change their spending strategies. Well someone should tell that twerp Poilievre that he's contradicting his boss. For days he's been saying that of course he'd spend the same way in the next election. After all, a bunch of bureaucrats have no right in telling them what the content of their ads should be. If you missed him this morning on Canada AM and you can stomach it, here you go. To be honest, I burst out laughing listening to him.

It would appear that Poilievre, Van Loan and Harper are going to continue to divert and distract. They will stay focused on the civil suit and ignore the fact that they are charged with overspending nationally. And btw, if I hear one more commentator tell me how complicated this is and don't all the parties do it anyway?, I think I'll scream. It's not complicated and the other parties did not do what the Con's did...full stop.

Harper wanted to gain power in Ottawa for one reason and one reason only. He wanted to change it to fit his ideology, plain and simple. If he is ruled against in this civil suit, I expect he will find a way to continue his attack on that institution. He's point men have done everything but say outright that EC marches to a Liberal drummer. In fact, it could be argued that Poilievre crossed the line in the interview I provided above.

I don't know what body oversees the ten percenter's, but given that the Con's appear to have overspent there as well, I do hope that too receives the light it deserves.

Harper came to change things alright, but he lied as to what he wanted to change. The hidden agenda claim is derided by almost all media now, yet it's being unveiled before their eyes. Weird that.

I suppose the phrase 'can't see the forest for the trees' might be apt, but to me, 'if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear, does it make a sound?' seems a better fit.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Nasty Piece of Work

On more than one occasion, Thomas Mulcair, the supposed 'star' of the NDP, has exhibited what we commonly term passive aggressive behaviour.

He shows this on TV panels, at committee and in the House.

The current strategy of the NDP is of course to employ the 2 for 1 line. Bash the Cons then point out that they are just like the Big Bad Liberals, then sit back with a patronizing expression. His honesty is often belied by a satisfied smirk that is sometimes caught when he believes the camera is off him.

Well, he followed his predictable script today on QP, but stepped way over the line telling us clearly where the NDP will probably go during the next election.

He was on a panel with ankle biter Pierre Poilievre and Garth Turner, moderated (cough), by lightweight Jane Taber.

Of course the conversation was about the raid at CPC offices and the arrest this week of Benoit Corbeil.

Mulcair opened the the discussion by distorting the truth about Corbeil, insinuating that he was still involved with the Liberal party and that the arrest was part of Sponsorship. He referred to the "perp walk" of a senior member of the Liberal party.

Uh, he hasn't been in that position for 7 years and certainly is no longer a member of the Liberal party. Furthermore, he is charged with stealing from the Lib's and some shady land deal, but hey, those are just facts right?

Poilievre of course piled on with something like, 'He's not just any Liberal employee, he was the top Liberal employee' the key word being was, but he glossed over that to suggest that the Sponsorship scandal lives on. No, not really for most Canadians, but the regressive Con's live in the past so they mention it every day. Again, this particular charge has nothing to with AdScam.

Quite the tag team.

But Mulcair wasn't satisfied that he'd made his point strongly enough, so he had another go and when he gets going he has no problem in twisting the truth on it's head, if it suits his agenda. He came out with this:

The Liberal Party of Canada, set up an elaborate structure to bilk Canadian taxpayers of their money, use it for partisan political purposes and that's how the Liberal party have been winning elections.

That disgusting and disingenuous claim tells you much of what you need to know about this guy. He's not interested in the higher good as the NDP is always claiming. No, he's interested in getting votes even if it means lying.

This is a man that needs to be confronted. Taber wasn't about to do it, Turner tried but was told that he lacked class for his effort.

Lies must be called out, I do not care what party is telling them. It seems that they are never challenged now, especially in the media. Perhaps they are concerned with the phony free speech argument being pushed by the right?

Guess who is not being served well?

For the record, I'm happy to see Corbeil charged if he did what he is alleged of doing. If more charges come in the future against him or others that are related to Sponsorship, great. No one is for what happened but turning it into what it was not serves no one.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Not Satisfied with America's Decline, He Offers Advice to His Homeland

If ever you refer to the CPC as modeling themselves against the current Republican or neocon ideology, the CPC loves to tell you that the notion is simply ridiculous.

It's not of course and anyone who follows what the Con's are trying to implement in Canada can easily identify the similarities.

I think much of what has taken place in the US began after 9-11 when the population was stunned and willing to follow the Leader and that included the media. The Republicans took full advantage of the state of the nation and changed government in ways that were often not noticed. They lied to their people and when caught or at least suspected, they spun, confused, changed the channel and went on the attack.

As Canadians we had our own experience of 9/11, but not one that I think could match our neighbours. That day may have shifted some of how we saw the world, but overall we carried on with our lives. The CPC didn't though. No, I believe they were taking notes on how to keep people diverted with shiny objects on the left while making changes on the right that most people wouldn't notice until it was too late.

So what has all of that to do with the photo of the guy at the top of this post? Well he gave us yet another example of how talking points by the CPC dovetail perfectly with neocon thinking.

(If you are unfamiliar with him, his name is David Frum and while it's a pretty bland profile, wiki, will give you some idea of who he is.)

He wrote an article in the NP today that served up the Con talking point du speech. It's so specious that it's difficult to write about.

It relates to the raid on the Con offices last week and a ridiculous point that Van Loan and others, (including ankle biter Poilievre), continue to raise. That is the party is being denied it's right to freedom of expression. Bureaucrats are determining what they can and cannot advertise and that's just not fair!

The more frightening possibility raised by this week's RCMP "visit" to Conservative party headquarters is that the Canadian bureaucracy has once again revealed a deep, sustained and highly ideological hostility to ordinary rights of free speech.

Huh? You are free to say what you like, but hey, in a civilised environment there are rules.

They don't seem to like rules unless they are setting them. They are all about the survival of the fittest with a seeming lack of understanding of what the impact of that mentality has on society. New Orleans anyone? BT's blogs and how they ridicule the underdog? Ironically, they consider themselves to be the underdog at this point in time and they whine and pule when they feel hard done by. How do they not connect the dots?

More from Frum:

Opponents of the Harper government accuse the Conservatives of cheating on campaign spending limits. As we have been reminded this week, Canada caps both national and also local campaign spending. In the last election, local Conservative candidates used some of their taxpayer-reimbursable funds to rebroadcast lightly edited national campaign advertisements.
By spending their local money in this way (Harper opponents say), the local parties enabled the national Conservative party to exceed national spending limits.

It is this latter accusation that gives the dispute its ugly anti-speech character.

Ugly anti speech? What a leap and what a great example of spin. Local candidates did not use some of their funds to re-broadcast. They were given an option to allow money from the national office to pass through their local office and the party would decide how it was spent. Bonus for the candidate because they would be entitled to a bigger rebate and bonus to the national party because they would receive exposure that they were not entitled to.

Like it or not, Elections Canada follows a law that sought to make the playing field level. Cons, neocons, aren't interested in the field being level. Might makes right for these guys.

Journalists do not write about this shift in Canada, in fact, they never take the time to explore the ideology of the Conservative party. I often wonder why?

Do they agree? Do they not understand or is it just too much work that they can't sell to their boss, because she/he says it won't sell?

In the end, I think Frum's argument is beyond ridiculous, but with this article you can bet that the Con's will continue along this path. No minority is important, except the one that is them.

Unbelievably naive, ridiculously ironic, yet that is what we are being sold.

It's time for an election. These guys are using a window that we the voters opened during the last election. It's time to close that window.

Sorry...were you're fingers in there?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

It's No Wonder Harper Keeps Them Leashed

Rob Anders returns. No one in this country or perhaps I should say few, would defend China's human rights record but a lack of tact/diplomacy seems to be endemic to some Con's.

Anders is not alone of course. Harper's recent decision to let his people off their leash may be good for Canadians, but not so good for Harper and the Con's.

Bernier's most recent blunder has brought on a deserved rebuke. The man is so ill informed, ill equipped intellectually and vain beyond any standard. I am frankly surprised that Harper placed him in this role in the first place but of course it was purely political and once again aimed at Quebec.
And we now have this little nugget. Good grief!

And of course we have the ever reliable Flaherty who flaunts the rules and doesn't care.

And just to round things out, we have these elegant comments from our parliamentary potato picker.

It was recently reported that Harper had decided to give his MP's a little slack to counteract the image that the Liberal's had a much stronger team.

Something tells me he may rethinking that strategy over the break week.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Like My Hat? It's Made of Tinfoil!

Instead of dealing with the serious issue at hand, alleged election overspending, the Con's are as usual pointing fingers at the Lib's and anyone else they can think of as a diversion.
One of their favourite attack dogs, Pierre Poilievre apparently sees a conspiracy here.
Ottawa-area Conservative Pierre Poilievre (PWAH'-lee-ehv) goes further, accusing Elections Canada of inviting the Liberal party to watch the raid unfold.
Note to Petey. The Lib's have said that they saw the story on Newsworld.
If this wasn't so disgusting, it would be laughable. Where do these people get off thinking it's perfectly fine to destroy the reputation of our institutions. I couldn't care less at this point that they are somehow tying to denigrate the Lib's, they do that every day, but Elections Canada? Are you kidding me?
They bash the Senate, they attack the CNSC then debase and fire it's head, now this. Of course it comes from the top when you think about it. Harper openly mused about Liberal dominated institutions before he came to power.
Not only do we have a government that is paranoid to the extreme, they have no compunction in denigrating anyone or anything that gets in their twisted ideological way. All I can say is it's about time more of Canada got to see this party as they really are.
In other news the RCMP and Elections Canada are still at the Con offices. Apparently the warrant was issued for 3 days.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Under the Radar No More

Well the Con's may have been successful in keeping up a filibuster and temporarily shutting down the Procedure and House Affairs committee, but it seems all that energy was expended for nothing.

I can tell you that this blogger is not sorry to see this happen. Those who read here frequently will know that one of my biggest frustrations with this government is how they spin and keep stories under the radar. They turn things around, suggest that the opposition is inventing scandals and the press for the most part doesn't follow the story. Something tells me that might just change now.

I would imagine that as part of Elections Canada's investigation it would be necessary to obtain documentation from the Conservatives, but I wonder why a warrant was necessary? Could it be that the Con's refused to voluntarily submit documents? Who knows but if that is the case, it certainly doesn't bolster the Con's claim that they have done absolutely nothing wrong.

Obviously this is an ongoing story so I'll update when I know more, but to say that I'm happy to finally see this story being told to the public is an understatement.

Update - An interesting tidbit from Dominic LeBlanc (Lib, Beausejour NB) in QP today.

The government was downplaying the issue of the RCMP/Elections Canada raid, claiming it had only to do with the law suit that they the Con's brought against Elections Canada. LeBlanc however disclosed that the lawsuit is a civil one and that warrants are never issued in civil cases.

Update 2 - Hilarious. Courtesy of Kady, this is what the Cons's released today as it relates to the the raid.

"Today Elections Canada visited the Conservative Party of Canada Headquarters. This is related to an on-going court case initiated by the Conservative Party of Canada in the spring of 2007. The Conservative Party has provided Elections Canada with all the information that they have requested."

Visited? LOL.

Monday, April 14, 2008


I wrote earlier this week about Charles McVety and his stand on bill C-10.

His ties to this government have always disturbed me, but he fades into the background until a social issue comes into national focus. Then, he pops up again and comes into our consciousness.

The more I thought about that, the more it bothered me. It highlights what happens when we are not paying attention, which is what I think is occurring in Canada at this moment.

We are living in unusual times and while I realise every generation utters those words, mine is the only one I can speak to with any experience.

What I mean by unusual is that we have had the very real experience of watching a right wing revolution to our South, one heavily influenced by the religious right. The politicos and their advisers added just the right amount of secular issues to their platform to draw in voters who were fiscal conservatives but social moderates. In the end, it paid off for the GOP, but not for the country nor the world for that matter.

So, we have seen this movie before and we know the ending, yet we seem to be completely oblivious when it comes to identifying that same strategy employed here in Canada. Why is that?

I know right wingers roll their eyes when they read such comments, but fact is fact. They either roll their eyes because they know the statement is accurate and they want to discount it or they roll their eyes because they really don't see it, because their aim is to have that kind of government in power.

The fact that someone like McVety has real access to Harper should disturb all of us greatly. I'm not suggesting that the PM would take all of his demands and implement them outright, but it should be obvious that this government will find ways to slip into it's agenda just enough of what the loons want to keep them satisfied.

Is this a new story? No of course not. All governments look to keep their supporters happy and all governments are lobbied. What's disturbing is who is lobbying because it is changing the fabric of the country. These Con's are not your grandpa's PC's.

cherniak_wtf, recently commented:

There has been a slow but steady infiltration of corporatism and socially repressive agenda in the U.S. and Canada. The fact that a Jesus Freak such as McVety is even close to the government is testament enough for me, that freedom of speech and liberty are under attack.

A few years ago, who would of thought that America would be a rogue state, kidnapping and torturing? Who would of thought that the Canadian government would not give a shit about on of it's own accused of being a child soldier and rotting in jail?

I agree completely, but I also witness our anemic reaction and wonder why it is so.

Think for a moment of who must by lobbying this government and how it has manifested itself into policy.

- McVety
- REAL Women
- Bogus org's that deny climate change
- Corp's who push against regulations vis a vis climate change
- Anti-abortion groups
- Right wing tax think tanks
- Right wing think tanks, period
- Pro death penalty groups
- Pro gun groups

Well that list goes on, but also consider who he put into positions of power.

- Stockwell Day
- Vic Toews
- Rob Nicholson
- Jim Flaherty
- Tony Clement
- John Baird
- Diane Finley

That list also goes on. Studying the history of any of the groups or the Ministers I've mentioned, paints a pretty clear picture.

So the question remains. Why? Why are we not paying attention and drawing the comparison? We've traditionally been a country that respected our neighbors to the south, but we went to great lengths to differentiate ourselves from them. Not out of spite or malice, but rather from an objective view that assessed what would be an asset to our way of life. We had pride, perhaps even hubris (with humility, lol), in terms of how we observed the world and found our place in it. We seem to be losing that ability and again I ask the question, why?

I find this particular time in Canadian history extremely disturbing. I want to understand it and I want to reverse it.

It's not a tidal wave, but it's a wave that is lapping at the fabric of our country. We are apparently standing on the shore chatting, ignoring that lapping and failing to look over our shoulder to see what it portends.

What do you think will make us look?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Wait! I Have Another Idea

Well attacking the Liberals has done Jack no favours apparently, so I guess he felt that a different approach was necessary.

Now, I doubt that these polls will change the NDP strategy of including the Liberal party in every attack against the Con's. No, I think that's too engrained and all of them to employ this hiccup-like mantra. Conservatives, hic, like Liberals... blah, blah, blah.

Still, he seems to be looking for yet another angle to make himself and his party relevant. His latest ploy is to separate the immigration portion of the budget bill and have that sent to the immigration committee. Not as a matter of confidence, but I guess he might say, as a matter of fairness.

I'm no procedural expert, so I don't know if this can be done or not, but if it can, I think Jack has missed the obvious here.

Aside from Harper hiding important legislation in places they don't belong or might be missed and making everything under the sun a confidence motion...uh, as I recall, the whole committee thingie isn't going all that well.

Now some committee's are working just fine of course. There is the typical political wrangling, but over all they are getting through their work. The ones that are not working however, are not working for a reason.

Let's take the Environment committee. The Con's have been filibustering for 19 hours or so. Why? Well there is a bill that is before the committee and they are trying to get through the clause by clause, but damn, it holds Con's accountable for their so called environment plan and let's face it, accountability, especially on that front cannot/must not happen. Oh, did I mention the bill was drafted by Jack?

Then there is the Procedures and House Affairs committee. It too is being filibustered for months now I think. Chairs being removed, new ones elected, then quitting. A real mess and it must be said that this is one of the most important committees. Anyway, it's dysfunctional because the opposition has raised a motion to look into the Con's in and out financing scheme during the last election. Darn. There is that accountability thing again.

Let's wander over to Justice shall we? Well the chair of this one is giving 'Jumping Jack' a run for his moniker because every time the opposition puts forward a motion that Hanger doesn't like, he jumps out of his chair and leaves. Specifically, he refuses to look at the Cadman affair. Yep, the 'a' word, accountability shows up once again.

It doesn't really end there, but those are the most let's get back to Jack.

If I understand his latest proposal, he's suggesting that the offensive portion of the budget bill be hived out and sent to the Immigration committee, a move I'm certain will be embraced by the Con's, cough, so reason of course will prevail and if not reason, certainly the will of the majority of the House will because the Con's have shown themselves to be reasonable when brought to account, right?

Is he nut's? I understand his desire to stop this bad legislation, but why not let it go to the Finance Committee, extend the hearings and sub in members from the Immigration committee when they arrive at that section and show this nonsense for what it is? Bring witnesses in, as was just done in the Senate, to really expose what this legislation will mean and let the cards fall where they may.

I do not know where the Lib's will fall on this but to bring yet another committee to a standstill, doesn't get to the heart of the matter, imo. In fact, I think it pushes it under the radar.

We need prominent stakeholders to make statements, loud statements, about how wrong this legislation is. We need the same kind of coverage that the Senate committee got yesterday in order to shake the intellectual/political malaise we see in this country.

I guess we'll have to wait to see where this goes.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

From the Ridiculous to the Sublime

A few weeks ago, Charles McVety was in the news crowing about his influence with the Con government in getting the controversial section of Bill C-10 pushed forward. He huffed and puffed, (literally) about the immorality of some content in Canadian films. Along with the Globe story , his blathering drew a lot attention. Sadly it wasn't the kind of attention he nor Harper was after.
Following in his socially conservative footsteps, (wow, that's putting it mildly given that he believes if you are gay you can be 'cured'), REAL Women appeared before the Senate Committee last night. I did not see the entire testimony by their rep Diane Watts, but what I saw had me laughing out loud at times. She, like McVety, decried the dangerous amoral section of our society, commonly known as the artistic community, and she was so ill informed, well it was nothing short of astonishing.
Not only is she delighted with C-10, she wanted to go a bit farther. You see, Heritage Minister Verner had said that she would consult with the industry to develop the censorship, (my word) guidelines. Watts didn't particularly like that idea.
But Ms. Watts said she objects to giving the people who make movies and television shows that kind of clout.

She of course thought that REAL Women should be consulted as to what the guidelines should be. Ha, ha ha! Can you imagine what that would look like? Shudder!
Anyway, today sanity prevailed at the same committee. Members of the Television and Film industry appeared and presented compelling and informed arguments against the section in question. One of the witnesses of course was Sarah Polley, but every single presenter was terrific. As the questions came forward and were replied to, it was obvious to me that this thing is dead in the water.
The Con's don't have a hope in hell in getting this through the Senate 'as is' and indeed I'm sure it will go back to the House of Commons where parliamentarians had better get it right this time.
A word to the wise, official opposition members of parliament. Even a seemingly innocuous omnibus, 500 page, Tax Bill has to be thoroughly examined. The world is not as it was with the Con's now in power. They will push their agenda in any way they can.
You know, I often despair on this blog as to the influence of the political right on public policy. This particular issue hasn't been fully addressed yet but today's testimony restored my faith in both the checks and balances that we have in this country and the sanity of the majority.
I predict that the Harper government will completely cave on this. Lukiwski opened a door that was a big reminder to the country of who makes up his government.
Groups like REAL Women and people like McVety may want to restrict artistic expression in this country to only include happily ever after stories but unless Harper gets a majority, their dreams won't come true.
For those who are interested, McVety is apparently appearing before the committee next week. His argument is that extremism and ignorance should not be given a public forum and certainly shouldn't be considered entertainment.
The irony is delicious isn't it?
One last bit of news. The Conservative Chair of this committee forgot that his mic was on. I cannot tell which Senator he was speaking to. It kind of sounded like Tkachuck, a conservative, but I don't know. Anyway, it's positively shocking! ;)
What do you hear as his last word on that vid? Certainly not the F word, lol! McVety and REAL Women are surely shocked!
The ridiculous to the sublime.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Tyranny of a Conservative Minority

For those of us who watch the occasional committee meeting, it's been obvious for some time now that the 'Handbook of Dirty Tricks' that Don Martin uncovered some time back has been relied on with enthusiasm. In fact, I'm willing to bet that the pages of said manual are so dog-eared and worn, some MP's must be asking for new copies.

So, while this little gem didn't come as a shock per se, it's still pretty loathsome. What's really galling though is that this government has pulled every underhanded procedural trick possible and they seem to be getting a free ride while doing it? Why? Because they lie about it of course.

If the opposition mentions the manual, they say it doesn't exist. If the opposition outlines how the Con's have filibustered for months in some cases, the Con's say it's the opposition holding things up. If the opposition points out how the Con's have tucked important legislation into other bills, they rationalise the move, and for some reason they have been equal time to lie in the media without being called out on anything.

I'm not sure how it happened, but somehow we have come to a point where everyone believes that every issue should be given equal weight in a debate. Maybe it started with Climate Change. Every nut-bar in the land demanded equal time to dispute the indisputable and they were given it. The same of course has happened with Evolution and Creationism being debated in science venues.

That mentality seems to have spread to all issues, even parliamentarians lying to Canadians for their own gain.

Consider what has been said about Dion. It's lies, but they say it anyway. I've yet to hear a journalist describe the true measure of the man. No, they are content to parrot the latest Con line and perpetuate an image that is false.

What's really happening here is pretty obvious to me. The Con's have nothing as it relates to policy. They've been riding their 'We're Tuff on Crime' and 'Pseudo Accountability' wave for 2 years and that's all they've got. Planning a policy meeting in the fall tells us that story.

They have created a crisis and will now proceed to make it all better. Kind of like a kiddie time cartoon distortion of Naomi Klein's, The Shock Doctrine.

I say don't given them the chance. Let the Immigration Bill get to committee, get some witnesses in that will highlight it's hypocrisy then take down this pathetic excuse for a government.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Back to the Future?

No matter what your opinion of former PM Paul Martin is, his passion for Aboriginal Affairs in this country cannot be disputed.

I watched him, (with Ralph Goodale and Andy Scott), testify at a Senate committee this morning. It was fascinating to look back at the Kelowna Accord and realise the damage that has been done by the Con's having scrapped it.

In fact it reminded me of just how much damage this government really has done to the country over the past 2 years, but that's another post.

Today, I read this and after having seen Paul Martin speak to the issue versus what I read, it's clear that the current government has now drifted beyond hypocrisy and if there is a word for that outside of liar, I'd be happy to use it.

What was really striking in Martin's comments was the comparison of what the Con's propose in terms of expenditure between 2006-2010 and what Kelowna would have accomplished. I'll keep it to education, which in my view is maybe the most important component. Kelowna, working with the provinces and territories, allocated 1 billion, 251 million. The Con's? 171 million. Can you see the difference?

It's striking to me that those who rail against the Kelowna Accord do not understand how much of a step forward it was. It put power into the hands of leaders who had a vested interest in moving forward. They were part of the process and made commitments. Imagine that. We gave the stakeholders a voice. What our current government has done is go back in time to the old 'we know best' system that undoubtedly is causing problems. They have a ton of announcements, but really they are still the director and therefore countenance discrimination.

Here's the vid if you haven't seen it. Charlie's heart is in the right place, but he conveniently omits that the NDP voted the Accord down. You'll notice that kid's had been promised schools for 8 years, then they finally had hope. He fails to include why. Kelowna was the hope.

For the record. Jim Prentice, the first Con Minister on this file was at the Kelowna signing. He agreed with it.

I wonder why he was moved to another file?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Tearing a Page from Harper's Book

So Premier Wall has decided to sue Canadian Press for their headline of the story they ran on him and his participation in the now infamous video.

I'm surprised they aren't suing the NDP, but perhaps we should just give that time, given this is the headline that has Wall upset.

"Tape with Sask premier and Tory MP has racist, sexist, homophobic comments: NDP."

Now I'm no expert on headline writing and guidelines, but it looks to me that they were printing a quote made by the NDP. If that's not the case, all it says is that the premier was on a tape that contained sexist, homophobic and racist comments.

Anyway, it strikes me as odd and I wonder if it's a trend that Harper has now begun in this country.

I wonder if Ezra will defend Canadian Press on this?

Update - Ooops, nevermind.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Sincere Apology but Still no Honest Answer

True remorse is never just a regret over consequence; it is a regret over motive.
Mignon McLaughlin
I've noticed many bloggers suggesting today that some of us are being too hard on Mr. Lukiwski. Some suggest that it was a different time in 1991, that people thought differently about gays and AID's back then. They suggest that because it was 16 years ago (a very long time apparently!), that we the public should not take his comments in the context of today's standards.
Well, I don't know where you all lived in 1991, but I can tell you that I certainly didn't know or associate with anyone who used that kind of language, either in jest or seriously.
Some statements I've read seem to be confusing 1991 with the 1970's. By 1991, while things were still not perfect, societal attitudes certainly weren't at the level demonstrated by Lukiwski, at least not in the mainstream. And certainly, the myth's about AID's were be debunked. We were wearing red ribbons as a symbol of the fight against AID's. Magic Johnson had declared that he was HIV positive and began a career to raise awareness and prevention.
So, I'm sorry, I do not buy the allowances being afforded this man. I believe that he was contrite and his apology was heartfelt, but he continues to say that he has never held such views. Well as someone who truly has never held such views, I can promise you that it has never entered my mind to utter such things.
That said, I still think the government is wrong to keep him in his position of Parliamentary Secretary to the government House Leader. Should he be thrown out of caucus? Maybe not.
Perhaps he stays and the people will decide his fate during the next election.
More info. You decide.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Which Comments Are True?

After being exposed as having made some pretty disgusting remarks about gays 16 years ago, Tom Lukiwski, apologised and said:

“I have no prejudice against gay people whatsoever. Those comments do not reflect the type of person I am.”

Really? I understand why he would say that today and I give him credit for apologising, but how do you utter such vile comments unless you believe them?

Something else came to light in House today. Apparently, another Con MP, Art Hanger I think, (of running out of committee fame), correlated an increase in crime with an increase of immigrants. I think this was in 2001, but I'll get the exact wording when Hansard is available.

The intolerance that some Con's were known for has been fairly well hidden since they took office. We know that Harper has kept most of his party on a short leash precisely so this kind of thing and true policy positions do not destroy the illusion that they have worked so diligently to create. Even journalists have suggested that the party had become moderate, moved to the left and had no hidden agenda.

Well, something tells me it's going to get a bit tougher for them to defend their new immigration policy, their proposed censorship policy, not to mention the private members bill that designates that a fetus is a person under the law.

No doubt the Harper apologists will be out in full force defending this. I'm sure they will suggest it's no big deal because it was 16 years ago.

Somehow I do not think that will wash. He's been with the party a long time and actually replaced a member of the party who was dropped from caucus for similar homophobic remarks.

The incumbent, Larry Spencer, was a member of the Canadian Alliance caucus but was dropped by the party after he told a reporter in 2003 that homosexuality should be outlawed and that a conspiracy is responsible for the successes of the gay rights movement.

Sorry, history counts when you are elected MP.

The transcript

Update: Sandra Buckler has commented. The net of her statement is that Lukiwski has apologised. Next!

Dream on Buckler. Is it just me or has anyone else noticed the irony of her surname?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Climbing Down? Changing the Channel?

Like many of you, I expect, I was surprised to see Jean-Pierre Blackburn's comments this morning on re-opening the Constitution.
The Harper government is telling Quebec that if the Conservatives win a majority in the next election, they will look to reopen the Constitution and give more meaning to their recognition of Quebeckers as a nation.
First of all, I wouldn't use the term government in that sentence. Instead I'd use the Harper Conservative Party, because this has nothing to do with governance and everything to do with politics.
What is it with Conservatives? Do they not read our history? It's obvious that they do read polls and I'm sure that is what prompted this idiotic move. I have no doubt that the Con's looked at the recent Crop poll and Blackburn thought it would be wise to jump now and dangle something in front of Quebeckers.
How incredibly stupid! Who talks about opening the Constitution, even in innuendo, if they have nothing tangible to offer, in the year 2008? Being in full time campaign mode I suppose lends itself to serious stupidity.
Just one more example of how dangerous this party is, imo.
I know that Blackburn is now backing down from his comments, no doubt being told by the PMO to put the genie back in the bottle. But, do you really think that the Bloq is now just going to shut up about this?
That is one reason why this notion, overall, is so ill conceived. No matter how much you give the Bloq, they want more. How's that, Quebec as a Nation, thing working out so far? It didn't satisfy them for one day.
To those who believe this is just an off the cuff remark without a plan to support it, albeit a plan that has yet to be revealed, think again.
Michael Fortier at the Liberal convention said, 'we're delighted that Dion won because he's such a hated federalist'.
Perfect! We have a government that is more focused on their craven needs and playing their partisan politics than they are on what is good for the country.
Aren't you surprised?
The Con's have a favourite line right now. They claim that the Lib's will only go to an election when the conditions to win are there.
Yeah, like that's a new concept on the Hill.
They are claiming that the Lib's only want power and aren't interested in what is good for the country and Canadians.
Talk about projecting!