Thursday, July 31, 2008

Are You Quaking Yet?

Well, the Con conference wrapped up today and the 'tough guy' Harper came out to taunt again.

The prime minister was in high dudgeon Thursday as a two-day Conservative caucus planning session wrapped up in this community across the St. Lawrence River from historic Quebec City.

We have a mandate from the people . . . We'll be bringing forward important pieces of legislation - and you can bet some of these will be confidence measures.

"Either we govern or we go to an election. Mr. Dion has a simple choice."
It was the second act of a choreographed squeeze play on Dion.

Aside from his pathetic base, just who do you think he believes he's attracting and how much do you think he regrets putting in fixed election dates?

You won a minority man. What don't you get about that?

'Media Check'
Harper's message to Liberals is two-fold: give our minority government free rein to govern, or get crushed on the hustings in a general election. To date, it's proved a highly persuasive combination despite the fact that polls put the two parties in a dead heat.

If the polls haven't moved, how precisely has it proven to be highly persuasive? What a ridiculous, unthinking statement to throw into the middle of an article.

And then Harper once again shows his respect for our political institutions and processes.

Having achieved power in 2006 on a platform of accountability and transparency, Harper is now giving short shrift to Opposition tit-for-tat investigations into the ethics of his government's behaviour.

Parliament's purpose, said Harper, is not to "hold a bunch of kangaroo courts, or to do investigations into scandals that never occurred, or try and pretend they can second guess the police in a criminal investigation."

Problem is of course, they did occur. Second guess police? I presume he's referring to the RCMP/Cadman proclamation. All the RCMP said is that they can't find evidence to pursue charges. Meaning, the one witness who knows what went on is gone. That doesn't negate Harper on tape.

Back to the love-in, I guess they have been too busy bashing to take the time to pay attention to the news.

Very little of what the 120-some Tory MPs and assorted senators discussed leaked from the caucus room. Tory talking points, however, abounded.

Safe, sound economic management will be the Conservative mantra this autumn.

This economic soundness mantra by Conservatives absolutely perplexes me. Where is the evidence? There is NONE. How is this absolute myth perpetuated? Surely someone with a brain could write about our history and recent US history that would show just how blatantly false that presumption is. I do not get it.

So how do you end a Liberal 'bash fest'? Well, you lie to Canadians of course.

"The purpose of Mr. Dion's carbon tax is to raise money for the federal government so that he can spend it," Harper claimed. "That is the only reason a politician ever put in a new tax."

What a guy Harper is. Taunter, basher, bully and liar. Yes, that's who I want as PM.

But the Criminals Told Me it Would Work

Stock's sounding as nutty as ever.

Ottawa's push for longer jail terms will not result in overcrowded prisons or ballooning corrections costs, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day says.

Day said yesterday he's confident Canada can implement new mandatory jail terms for serious crimes and still avoid the U.S. example of having those new sentences cause a dramatic increase in the prison population.

Really? How can you put more people in jail for longer periods of time and not load up the jails?

"The course that we are taking in terms of criminal justice reform and corrections reform is not reflective of what happens in the United States at all," the minister said during a Conservative caucus meeting.

Uh, yes it is. It is precisely based on the US model who has certainly not seen any decrease in crime rates. But Day has an answer for that. You see criminals in Canada are different from criminals in the US.

But Day is betting that the longer sentences for drug and gun offences will deter people from committing the crime in the first place.
"Once you send out a message that you are becoming serious ... that alone starts to have a deterring effect on those who looking at the risk/reward equation in terms of getting into crime," Day said.

American criminals aren't deterred, but Canadian criminals, well you know, they spend more time weighing the pro's and con's of partaking in criminal behaviour.

In fact, Day said the government's new sentences for gun crimes, which kicked in May 1, have already had an effect.

"We heard from people who are involved in the criminal community that they were having second thoughts ... about the illegal business they were going to conduct and using firearms at the same time," Day said.

What? LOL. Did some gang members watch the Committee and Senate hearings on the new legislation and decide to phone Stock to tell him that they were going to continue breaking the law, but now they might not use guns?

And in further nuttiest, speaking about that horrific incident on the Greyhound bus:

Day says he wouldn't even entertain the notion of registering knives as dangerous weapons, noting that millions of kitchen knives alone are likely sold each year.

I watched the Press conference and no one actually asked him about a knife registry. He just gratuitously threw in that he's heard rumours about one on Parliament Hill. Who on earth would propose a knife registry?

Day is often described as someone who has turned around and become a really good Minister. I still think he's way out there.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Do You Want to See a Real Side Deal?

Wasn't it just last week that the Con's were bleating disingenuously about Dion making a side deal with the provinces? It was all nonsense of course, but that has never stopped them has it?

Never a group to shy away from hypocrisy however, they brazenly announced their own real plans for side deals and it's something that should concern the 70% of us who would never vote for these guys.

It's frightening to see how arrogantly Harper and his party are, in terms of going forward with what we've known has been his intent all along.

In the clearest indication to date that the Conservatives are willing to offer exclusive arrangements for each province, Mr. Cannon signalled the Harper government is prepared to shift the way the national government works with its provincial counterparts.

While he declines to use the word "asymmetrical," Mr. Cannon concedes the effect of his proposed framework creates precisely such a landscape.

Of course it's going to create an asymmetrical system. Worse, it's the path to turning provinces into independent states, yes, somewhat like the US. That's the plan.

Now, before anyone on the Left chimes in with 'the Liberals propped up the government' nonsense, consider what we were faced with. Had we gone to an election early on, we'd either be where we are now or worse and Jack would be just as unable to do anything as he is now. So could we put that aside that old chestnut and work together here for common cause?

To be honest, I find this article to be really depressing. The article primarily focuses on labour issues and some could read it and find it pretty innocuous. Perhaps that is why the Con's are going forward at the pace they are. Articles are written but there is no context given, as in this one, as it relates to Harper's ultimate vision of this country.

The strategy could lead to a restructuring of powers between the federal and the provincial governments, especially given that the Harper government's recent rounds of tax cuts reduced Ottawa's ability to launch new social programs.

This article however provides a bit of context.

But Brooke Jeffrey, a professor of political science at Concordia University, said she believes Mr. Harper is using decentralization as a “back-door way” to achieve his neoconservative goal of less government.

“If you devolve responsibility to the provinces and you only give them a certain amount of money and essentially cut them adrift, you're going to guarantee the withdrawal of the state from certain areas of activity that you don't already believe in,” she said.

By pursuing a rigid interpretation of the Constitution, Mr. Harper ignores Canada's regional disparity and the disconnect between provincial responsibility and federal funding, she added.

“Mr. Harper is being either willfully blind or ingenuous,” she said, noting that the fathers of Confederation never envisioned Canada's welfare state when they set out provincial responsibilities.

Harper is not one to be willfully blind. The man has been focused on this forever and now sees his first opportunity to implement his dream.

Equalization “wasn't a power grab by the federal government. It was an attempt to provide a minimum level of standards and services to all Canadians wherever they live,” she said.

“That's why there are federal-provincial relations, that's why there are all these agreements to try to work this out. Provinces used to like this and many of them still do.”

Let us hope that in spite of this being a tricky subject, especially in Quebec where we now have by elections, some honesty will be spoken and more articles that actually explore the meaning of what is being said rather than just repeating how the Conservatives parse it, will be written.

Update - I just watched Harper speak. What a sham. Oddly in French he can pronounce Dion correctly. When he speaks English he loses that ability magically. Take note people, in English dee-yawn is all the rage.

Beyond that, when is the last time you saw a PM speak to party politics.? PM's are meant to speak to the country, not their party faithful.

Disgusting. This man is disgusting.

Update 2 - Andrew Cohen article

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Where Are the Real Conservatives?

When I first read that advertising and poll spending was up, I wasn't surprised and didn't intend to write about it. I thought the Con supporters would find a way to justify this (as they do about every other anti- Conservative move this government has made) and those of us who oppose the Con's, would all be saying the same thing.

Having thought about it a bit more though, I wondered where traditional Conservatives stand on seeing this kind of increased spending, by a government who vowed to support their fiscal sensibilities. I've yet to see reaction and I don't think I'll hold my breath. They tend to fall silent in spite of this.

Ottawa's advertising budget doubled to more than $80-million in the first full year of the Harper government, the first rise in marketing spending since the start of the sponsorship scandal in 2002, according to an unreleased federal report.

The report on advertising spending in 2006-2007 has been ready for weeks, but Public Works had yet to make it public last night. A copy was provided to The Globe and Mail in answer to questions on its content.

The report shows Ottawa's advertising spending came in at $87-million in the 2006-2007 fiscal year. Only one year earlier, the government's total advertising purchases were just $41-million.

First of all, to hold up the release of this report is offensive, but not new with this government. But for all those Conservatives who really expected Harper to do politics differently, where is your voice now? He's not only doing the same, he's doing it more.

Oh, he's cut spending where it counts (to me where it's unwarranted), but the increased spending by this government is incredible. Using our tax dollars to tell us what a fine job they are doing and to poll us as to what we are thinking is ridiculous.

Before my Conservative friends jump up and down, pointing and screaming 'you did it too!', save your energy. I realise that some advertising must be done by governments, but I don't support the largesse that the Liberal government employed at times either. Thankfully, that was coming down, until Harper took office.

Ottawa's advertising budget had been on the decline since the Jean Chrétien Liberal government spent $111-million in 2002-2003.

...By 2005-2006, spending on advertising had fallen to $41.3-million, a drop of 63 per cent over three years.

...An expert on federal advertising said the increased level of spending on advertising in Ottawa shows that things are returning to their historic levels under the Conservatives, who had harshly criticized the Liberals on the subject while in opposition.

So my question is serious. Where are the Conservatives who believed that Harper offered them hope?

I'm not just speaking of PC's here because Harper's track record goes beyond this issue. He offered hope to many. Who among you is satisfied? I just do not see who he is representing aside from those who enjoy reducing the conversation to grade nine levels and are willing to throw everything they formerly supported aside.

The So-Con's haven't been served, the fiscal Conservatives have been duped and Harper pays more attention to Quebec not less, so the West's views on that subject are being ignored. The global warming deniers once again have a government saying it's one of the most important issues of the day, (yeah I know they don't believe it, but they are advertising to that effect), and last but not least, 'accountability' is a joke under these guys.

Who are the 30% who love this guy? My view? They consist purely of those who don't care if their agenda agrees with what is implemented, they only care that their tribe is finally in power again. That is sick and delusional in my view.

I'm hopeful that the people of principal who are Conservative will find their voice. I for one would love to hear it.

She Fits Right In

This is Gloria Kovach, the Conservative candidate in Guelph.
In today's Guelph Mercury, there is a story about Stephen Truscott, the compensation he was awarded and how life is now for the family. Given that this is a contemporary issue, the candidates in Guelph were all asked their opinion on whether or not the federal government should share the cost of the compensation that Mr. Truscott is to receive. The issue was raised by a spokesperson for the AG of Ontario.
"We have made a request to the federal government to contribute 50 per cent of the total cost of the compensation for Mr. Truscott," said Sheamus Murphy, a spokesperson for the Attorney General of Ontario. "I don't know we've got a timeline. The request has been made and that's been standard in the past -- the cost of compensation has been shared between jurisdictions."
Here's what the Liberal candidate, Frank Valeriote had to say:
"If you've investigated this, you'll know that the Criminal Code under which he was convicted is federal law.

The rules of evidence that would have been applied, there's actually rules of evidence provincially and there's rules of evidence federally. The application of the law and enforcement of the law is a provincial jurisdiction. So both the federal government and its laws and the provincial government and its application of the laws contributed to the failure of the system of justice," said Valeriote, who is a lawyer in Guelph.

"So it makes sense to me to conclude that since the whole national system of justice failed Mr. Truscott, the entire national system -- provincial and federal -- should contribute to (compensation)."

"Personally, I support that decision that it be born 50-50," he said. "Neither was more at fault than the other. That's clear."
A well thought out reply, spoken by someone who is not afraid to speak his mind and weigh in on issues.
Conversely, this is what Gloria Kovach had to say, er, type.
I am pleased with the Truscott decision," the current city councillor said through an e-mail. She declined to weigh in on the cost-sharing proposal.
"The issue of funding is not a local issue and those questions are best directed to the PMO press office," she said.
Clearly, she has not received permission to speak and is experiencing the joys of the short leash mentality of the PMO.
Not a local issue? She does realise that her current position is not the same as being an MP doesn't she? I mean I hope someone has told her that should she win, she will be involved with national issues and be expected to debate them.
Well, at least she looks like a good fit for the Con's.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Wearing the Conspiracy Hat, Yet Again

Well that didn't take long, did it?

Steve pointed out earlier that a Canwest publication, The Ottawa Citizen, had used an inflammatory and false headline to publish the fact that the Lib leadership candidates had been granted a loan repayment extension under the current EC rules.

As I expected, Pierre wasted no time reacting to the media, who propped him up once again, is suggesting that EC is bias.

The Conservative MP said he was not even sure the extension complied with the complicated details of the financing law.

"We're still reviewing whether this is legal," said Poilievre, who added "Elections Canada has been extremely generous with those candidates."

No, they haven't. The provision exists in the law and EC will no doubt follow it, just as they have in rejecting the Con election expense claims. Oh and can someone please explain to me how on earth the Con's would know the legality of EC laws if it slapped them? I mean really.

He went further of course. What would Conservative outrage be without making something an issue that isn't?

Poilievre added that Dion's failure to reach a repayment arrangement with the federal electoral agency 19 months after his leadership campaign puts into question his ability to manage finances. And he said it places doubt on Dion's ability to garner broad support from ordinary Canadians under lower political contribution caps introduced by the Tories.

"The fact that Stephane Dion cannot commit to paying off his debts promptly shows that he is a weak leader who can't be trusted with the nation's finances," Poilievre told The Canadian Press.

Dion's ability to manage finances? For the country? Get a grip. Unlike Harper, I do not suspect that Dion will run the finances of the country though indeed, he will be the over-seer. He'll do what most PM's do and that is put someone in place who is qualified to do that job, unlike Flaherty.

Come on media. Which party runs deficits and who has to bail out the country historically? You are running the US narrative and it's not even true there.

Why is that? Someone please explain that to me. Con's good with money, Lib's bad? Give me the modern historic narrative that actually bears that out.

He challenged Dion to "commit to Canadians that he will pay off all of his debts before the next election."

Ewww, scary. I double dare you says Pierre. We're not in High School anymore wonderboy.

Look, I joked on Steve's blog that he'd be the point man on this, but really, if he continues to be, he'll just look more and more ridiculous and make their case look worse. Go Pierre.

The buffoonery doesn't end with the Con's of course. No, Pat Martin had to make a pat martin comment.

"It makes you wonder why leadership races within a political party are subject to election financing rules," he said. "When is a loan not a loan? When it's not paid back."

Who has not committed to paying it back? No one. Martin and Mulcair were determined to implicate the Lib's during the committee meetings. Mulcair pushed on the Lib's being tipped off pre-raid. He was shot down, but his buy-in to the nonsense showed. He's a smart guy so he surprised me with this line of questioning.

Oddly though the examples the Con's used were Bloc and NDP examples. If Jack could get back to objecting to the real villain and lay off the Lib's, the country would be better off.

All of that said, I expect Dion to put forward a reasonable plan that abides by EC reg's. I'm sure he has. What is not mentioned of course is how much time he spent assisting the other candidates to pay down their debt by showing up at events.

I wonder. Will they return the favour?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

...and Now the Kitchen Sink

Good grief the Con's are a desperate bunch aren't they? They are so terrified of the Green Shift that they are throwing every ridiculous claim they can think of to discredit it.

The latest? That Dion is going to make secret side deals with the provinces re' the implementation of the Green Shift.

Tory MP Jason Kenney, the party's designated attack dog on the Liberals' carbon tax, says Dion on Sunday contradicted statements made recently by British Columbia's premier.

How incredibly ridiculous. What did Gordon Campbell say?

But B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell said earlier this month that Dion had assured him the Liberal plan would not amount to double taxation on British Columbians, who are already subject to a provincial carbon tax.

Well, call me crazy but how is that a side deal? That's called working with the provinces, a concept so far removed from this government's psyche that they mistake it for what it is not.

At least this reporter used his/her head and pointed out that the Con's were doing some interesting interpretation of Campbell's comment.

The Conservatives apparently took Campbell's remarks to mean B.C. would get special treatment under the Liberals' so-called "green shift." Kenney says Dion's comments seem to fly in the face of Campbell's.

Kenny further claims that a deal will also be struck with Nova Scotia, a question asked of Dion by Bob Fife on QP today.

Asked during an interview broadcast on CTV's "Question Period" about side deals, Dion said special arrangements with the provinces had not been discussed.
"No, we didn't speak about side deals," he said.

Why does Kenney think so?

The Conservatives also claim Nova Scotia may get preferential treatment after Liberal MP Scott Brison told a Halifax newspaper last month that his party would work with that province to implement the so-called "green shift."

Brison is quoted as saying "a Dion government would sit down with the provincial government and engage both the government of Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia Power in a constructive discussion on how to help Nova Scotia (make the) green shift and we would invest in it."

The shock, the horror! A Dion government would take the time to meet with provinces to assist them to implement the plan. Scary stuff!

Well, if this is what they have left to throw at the plan, I'd say they are more desperate than I thought. They may find it easy to think illogically, but most of the rest of don't engage in such nonsense.

If you want to watch the Dion interview, it's here. Good interview, or replies anyway, ;). He finally says clearly that the Con plan will also increase prices, but they offer no tax cut's to offset increased costs. As I've said many times, that has to be emphasized each and every time the Shift is spoken of.

Oh, there are also clips of Kenney and his fellow attacker Van Loan if you care to watch them blather on.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

With a Straight Face

I wonder what it is going to take for someone to actually confront this guy when he spouts off his bafflegab. In fact, when is someone going to credibly question his Climate Change Hoax?

It's incredible really to witness the daily attacks by right-wing opinion writers on the Green Shift, yet none them explain the Conservative plan, but then again, most of them don't believe in Climate Change so perhaps they don't support their master's plan either.

More important though than the opinion writers, are the journalists. They report on the Green Shift and Dion's tour which is good in terms of publicity, but in general they speak to it being a 'tough sell'. Why? Because the Con interpretation of it seems to be the base from which they operate. Does anyone remember such scrutiny and reporting on the Con plan? I surely don't.

Here's the thing. Baird is running around saying things like:

"A company could simply buy their way out of the problem by simply paying the tax and continuing to go forward, putting carbon into the atmosphere," Baird told reporters in Vancouver on Friday.

Note, he told this to reporters, more than one. Why wouldn't at least one of them refer to the Con program that says this:

Making contributions to a technology fund. Firms could meet part of their obligations by contributing to a fund that will be used to develop and deploy technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions now and in the future.

Domestic emissions trading. Firms that do better than their targets will receive credits that could be sold to those who are unable to meet them. Credits could also "banked" for future use.

Offsets. As part of the domestic emissions trading, firms could acquire credits by purchasing emissions reductions from activities that are not regulated (e.g. emissions from agriculture). This is a way to engage other sectors of the Canadian economy to make greenhouse gas reductions.

Aren't those ways to buy your way out of actually changing behaviour?

The other thing that Baird and others often spew is how the cost to consumers will increase as a result of industry passing on increased costs to their customers.

Why don't journalists refer to another point in the Con plan?

Canada's New Government understands that Canadians are concerned about climate change and air pollution on a local, national and global scale. But Canadians cannot expect others to act unless they are prepared to share the responsibility and take significant action at home.

We have developed a plan to implement mandatory reductions in emissions and which targets all of the major sources of greenhouse gases and air pollution: industry, transportation, and consumer and commercial products. It will deliver significant emissions reductions but it can also lead to noticeable price increases for consumer products such as vehicles, natural gas, electricity, and household appliances.

The economic costs associated with this initiative are real but manageable.

It truly is astonishing that the two major points being criticised by the Con's are also a part of their plan, yet no one in the media is speaking to that fact. Why?

One final point about this Canadian Press piece. When speaking to the Green Party the journalist was told this:

Adriane Carr, deputy leader of the federal Green Party, was skeptical about both federal parties' plans.
She said the best solution is a combination of taxes and emissions caps.

"We need both," she said. "He's making it sound like it's one or the other."

Who's he? Baird or Dion? The journalist doesn't tell us but implies through the sequence of preceding quotes that he/she means Dion. Why isn't it pointed out that the Lib's agree completely and intend to implement a cap and trade system as well. Is the journalist schooled enough in the Green Shift to be asking questions about it?

The lack of scrutiny into the NDP plan is equally pathetic. Their plan will also increase prices obviously, but that is never mentioned.

So every one's plan will increase prices for consumers and only one will mitigate that reality for Canadians, the Liberal plan. Have you seen that written in any newspaper? I haven't.

Wouldn't it be nice to have the full story once in a while?

Friday, July 25, 2008


I don't know how the Con's are going to play this, but I see it as good news overall.

The reason? Mr. Zytaruk just doesn't strike me as a man who would even consider doctoring tapes, etc.

He admired Chuck Cadman, which led him to write about a man of integrity. Who in their right mind would think an author who held his subject in high regard for his integrity, would do this man the disservice of being less than honest?

We've been over this ground before, so I won't re-till it, but I think this development is a good one. Dissenting views automatically put the Con claim into question. Though to make it really fair, given that the Con's already have two competing opinions out there, I think the court in addition to having these two experts, should assign one of their own. Can he do that? I don't know.

Now the question is, who is Murray Clemens? If he's charged with overseeing the process and protecting the tape, I'd like to know more about him. Anyone with info, send it please.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Appeal of Appealing....Too Tempting?

For someone who seems thrive on diminishing institutions that most Canadians hold dear and considers avoiding public scrutiny as sacred, it's difficult to imagine that the Con's won't appeal this latest ruling.

I mean, it would be brilliant if all of this came out during an election, because I really believe the Con's are dead in the water on this, but I cannot imagine Harper allowing that to happen.

The Conservative party's 15-month legal battle against Elections Canada could draw to a close this fall after the federal party lost a last-ditch bid to enter new evidence in its lawsuit.

However, if the Tories decide to appeal the decision, voters may not find out until after the next election whether the ruling party perpetrated campaign spending fraud during the last campaign.

The timing of an election of course is far from certain, but indications are that we will go in the Fall. I guess it's all about guessing. If we do go in the Fall and there is an election, then the coverage of the court proceedings will likely play against the Con's. If we don't go, the same scenario plays out and Canadians have more truth when they finally cast their ballot.

I'd prefer to have the outcome before an election obviously, but I don't think it's critical, so long as the media is able to follow the story.

The official gave the party until Aug. 29 to file its final submissions and gave chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand until Oct. 10 to respond.

It's beyond me why so much time is given and required in this day and age. When this whole thing came to light, I thought it would be wrapped up in quick order. Silly me. What is it about our court system that takes so long?

However, the Conservatives have 10 days to decide whether to appeal the decision before a Federal Court judge, potentially dragging out the lawsuit beyond the fall.

Michel Decary, lawyer for the two Tory campaign agents, would not say Thursday if he'll launch an appeal.

"If there is to be an appeal - and there can be - it's within 10 days," Decary
told The Canadian Press.

Uh huh. Sounds to me as if they will appeal, but what they can offer now is beyond me.

Conservative party spokesman Ryan Sparrow also refused to comment on a possible appeal, although he denied the court officer's decision is a setback for the party.

Sparrow dodged when asked if the party believes the lawsuit should be settled before Canadians head to the polls again.

"I think Canadians accept that we used Conservative money to fund Conservative advertising. We did that legitimately," he said.

And exactly why do you think that young Sparrow? Have you done a poll lately? I mean a poll that asks a legitimate question, clarifying first if the respondent is conversant on the issue. I think not.

Fascinating isn't it? The Con's really believe that most Canadians agree with them. The world of delusion must be an interesting place to live.

Thankfully, 2/3rd's of the country don't live there.

Phenom or Phantom?

There doesn't seem to be much middle ground when it comes to Barack Obama does there? People seem to love him or find him vacuous.

I can't say that I fall into either camp, however, given that I really hope McCain does not win, I can say that I support Obama as much as a Canadian can.

Here is a transcript of his speech today if you didn't hear it. I'm not going to comment on the content, you can make up your own mind on that.

What I do find absolutely fascinating though is how people react to this man. If the numbers are correct, apparently 1M people turned out today. That is remarkable but the question is,why?

What struck me watching him today is what he represents for those who have watched the US spiral out of control for the past 7 1/2 years. Not just Americans obviously. The degree to which the rest of the world has been affected by the Bush administration is undeniable and I think it is that fact that has made Obama so popular.

Now, there is no denying that he is charismatic and he says the right things if you are in disagreement with Bush, but I think much of America and much of the world is desperate for change in the States and Obama is the personification of that change and hope. There is danger in that of course, because you run the risk of becoming known for rhetoric only.

What I particularly like however, is the fact that the conversation is shifting and 'progressive' (I know, it's a dangerous word) issues are no longer being ignored. In fact, the regressive views of the right are looking more and being presented as more ridiculous with each passing day. That's good news.

That this man is not just being covered in the US, but around the world, means that same progressive conversation, attitude if you like, is likely to occur in many places, including Canada.

It's difficult to know if this phenomenon will continue with Obama, but it's interesting to watch. As an aside, my partner was at a dinner last month and a Canadian journalist who was at the same table, (who I will not name), said that he's seen Obama speak on a few occasions, and in his career he's never seen or felt anything like it. For the record, this journalist is no 'lefty'.

So what do you think? Is Barack Obama flying too close to the sun or will this play out to the end?

Here is part of the speech.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

So, What Does He Have to Offer?

I think it's been clear for a while that an election is likely this Fall. So, stories like this are not really news.

A 'media check' moment:

It's not exactly election fever, but Canadians appear more ready this year to head to the polls than they did last fall, says Liberal Leader Stephane Dion.

"We have seen over the winter and the spring more and more interest for federal politics," Dion told reporters Wednesday at a hotel in Ottawa's west end. "And more and more appetite for an election."

You'll note that the way that is written, it suggests that Dion was just musing out loud unprompted, which many think he shouldn't do. Um, he was speaking with reporters. Do you think that maybe he was, for the gazillionth time, asked when the next election might be?

Back to my point though, Garth Turner on his blog stated that Dion and the Lib's have the following to offer as part of what they will give Canadians in the next election, by means of The Green Shift:

• Broad-based income tax cuts to increase cash flow and help consumer spending in troubled times
.• Substantial direct financial help for families to offset higher energy costs.
• Deep tax incentives to get businesses investing in green technologies and innovation.
• Lower corporate taxes, making the country far more competitive for global investment, and help create jobs.
• A cut in small business taxes, because the greatest numbers of new jobs come from start-ups and small-scale expansions.
• Tax write-offs in the form of capital cost allowances letting companies afford green tech investments
• Federal money to achieve the goal of having 10% of Canada’s energy come from renewable sources
• A big new fund to stimulate green manufacturing ventures.
• Money for homeowners to retrofit their houses; inducements to buy hybrid cars and energy-saving appliances
• Incentives for citizens to generate their own power, not just to get off the grid but to feed it.

That's one plank of course, and a good one, but it got me thinking about what Harper might offer. It's tempting to say 'nothing that Canadians want', but that's not true of course.

Like it or not, the Con's did master the art of simple messaging during the last election and I fully expect them to try that again. The question is, what will they offer?

I think there will be more 'crime fighting' stuff, in spite of the fact that crime rates are coming down. Simpson has an interesting article on this today.

Tax cuts of course, but where? A mirror of what the Lib's are proposing? That will shoot their objection to Dion's plan out the window. Dion has hit just about every sector. There is always the infamous GST of course, but if they try that again, I'm sure most economists will come out against them with a strong voice.

What else? I'm at a loss here and perhaps so are they. I've no doubt they'll come up with something, maybe even the vaunted '5 point plan', but they have lost their grip on integrity, accountability and doing things differently. Dion is leading the party differently and given their reaction, they are painfully aware of that, so to argue it's the same old, while arguing his difference, is ridiculous.

Anyway, tell me what you think the Con's will propose during the next election.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It Looks Like it's On

It seems that Harper is finally prepared to call the by-elections.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to call the byelections this week in the Montreal-area ridings of Westmount-Ville Marie and St. Lambert and the southwestern Ontario riding of Guelph.
If you live in these ridings, I'd love to hear what you think about how things are shaping up.
Here are the Lib candidates. Saint-Lambert, Roxanne Stanners. Westmount- Ville Marie, Marc Garneau. Guelph, Frank Valeriote.
As an aside, don't you love how non biased CTV is in their reporting?
The stakes are highest for the Liberals, who won two of the three ridings in the 2006 election.
Moreover, they offer Dion a chance to solidify his fragile grip on the reins of his party after suffering embarrassing losses in two previous sets of byelections.
Good grief. Fragile grip? Will anyone in the news bring perspective to stories?

I Know I Promised, but You Know...

Didn't Harper promise all his devoted fans that federal spending would not exceed the rate of inflation? In fact I think he said the rate of inflation and/or population growth.
Well, that obviously hasn't worked out very well has it?
This man who claims to be devoted to integrity and accountability, isn't of course, but his devotees continue to genuflect at his altar in spite of all the evidence that contradicts their claims.
According to news stories, the federal government has announced some $3-billion in spending priorities since Parliament recessed for the summer less than a month ago. That is roughly $100-million a day or more than $4-million every hour. Weren't the Conservatives elected to root-out waste in government and spend tax dollars judiciously?
...The Conservatives have controlled the government purse strings since early 2006; After their first two years, Ottawa had grown another 14.8%. This is higher than Mr. Martin's appalling record.
Poor John Williamson. He like many others I presume, believed Harper when he made pre-election promises. Income Trust investor's come to mind. I do wonder just how many Progressive Conservatives have opened their eyes to the fact that Harper is not their father's Conservative?
In fact, it is no contest between the Harper government's spending and that of Mr. Chretien's government; the Grits exercised greater fiscal discipline.
Ouch! But he's correct of course. Now, I'm not exactly a Williamson fan, because his parameters for spending are far more narrow than mine, but that this Conservative government is spending at a higher rate than the Lib's, primarily to buy votes, really is something to behold.
I wonder how long it will take for people to realise that Harper only wants a majority, at any cost. Yes, I know, most Canadian politicians want a majority, but few go against just about everything they have previously claimed to achieve one.
Where do you think former PC, or perhaps I should say fiscally conservative voters will park their vote during the next election?

Monday, July 21, 2008

The 'In and Out and Sideways' Scheme

Well now! It now looks as though the 'In and Out' scheme may have actually been more devious and complex than we've already learned.

The Conservative party shifted thousands of dollars in advertising expenses from two of its top Quebec candidates to other Quebec candidates who had more spending room in their 2006 election campaigns, the lawyer for Elections Canada has suggested.

A former financial officer for the party confirmed last month in a court examination that expenses incurred by Public Works Minister Christian Paradis and former foreign affairs minister Maxime Bernier were assigned to other candidates.

Since when is it accepted practice to ask a neighboring candidate to take on your expenses because you've hit your limit?

If this claims bears out, all the faux outrage demonstrated by the Conservatives last week during the committee meeting will be beyond laughable.

But former chief financial officer Ann O'Grady said the expenses were "pro-rated" to the other candidates because the firm that placed the television and radio ads billed Paradis and Bernier for higher amounts than their campaign agents originally committed.

'Pro-rated' will be an important point in the overall case, imo. One of Mayrand's main points in front of the committee last week was that his investigators noted that the ad buy expense by candidate did not represent anything remotely resembling 'fair market value'. Some were charged hundreds others thousands for the same ad buy. Obviously the national party was looking for room where they could find it.

Boy, this whole 'everyone did it' line is sinking fast. So the question is where do the Con's go from here? The committee meetings are scheduled to go forward Aug. 11 - 14. To shut them down now would look too suspicious, to go forward will only paint the Con's into a tighter corner. What to do, what to do?

My guess is they will allow the committee to go forward and continue to play the 'everybody is against us' card. They may bet on Canadians not paying attention through the summer and prefer to change the channel in the Fall by bringing out something they can hammer away on. If they prorogue, the focus will remain on this issue.

Awww, it looks like they are in a bit of bind. I'm sure you can tell just how sympathetic I am.

What's your prediction on how they will handle this? It's early day's of course, but you have to admit that this new element, if true, lends even more credence to Harper's disdain for Elections Canada.

Fact's really do get in the way of the Conservative agenda don't they?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Huh? 'We Taxed Industry, but we are Against a Tax on Industry'

Did anyone watch QP today? Ed Stelmach and Brad Wall were interviewed on their position on the environment as raised at the recent Premiers meeting.

A couple of days ago Wall wanted to 'go on the record' as saying that he was
against a carbon tax.

Stelmach, makes the same claim but opened the interview with this statement.

The province of Alberta was the first to legislate emission targets for 100 or so large emitters in the province of Alberta. We also put a 'CARBON LEVY' of $15.00/tonne...

When is a levy not a tax? When that word is uttered by someone who is disingenuous about both his commitment and his critique of another party's plan. Alberta did legislate a levy, based on intensity targets that don't actually kick in until 2020. Clever don't you think?

Both he and Wall were effusive, (okay wrong word as it relates to these two personalities, but you get my drift), about carbon sequestration. That's their plan, they are on the cutting edge, the vanguards, don't you know, so everyone else is wrong and they've got it right. Uh, huh.

Of course most of know that capturing the carbon is not the issue, it's the sequestration on the scale that they propose that has no solid proof or results. Additionally, it beggars logic to suggest that this is the best plan ever and oppose a tax at the same time. I mean if they are sooo certain that this technology will work, no one that they are trying to protect would have to pay a tax. Right?

Anyway, I'm not going to argue their weak arguments, but I am going continue to demand that people doing such interviews be either knowledgeable on the subject or have someone included in the discussion that is qualified to counter the idiocy that we are being fed.

This is wrong people. We are not getting a real debate, we're not even getting a rational reporting of fact. When is the last time you heard a journalist point out that the Green Shift is not just about taxation, but about tax cuts too?

Have I written about this before? Yes, and I will continue to write about it until we actually have a real debate in this country. We are being done such a disservice it's insulting. I know it's summer, I know people are not particularly engaged but unless we speak out now and demand real coverage of the issue, we'll get the same drivel in the Fall.

Third party endorsers should be out en masse putting some of this nonsense to rest. At the very least, the media should be seeking them out after all, they are not Liberals and they could bring the badly needed voice of reason to a debate that has been fought in the media in an unreasonable manner.

Give me ideas people. We have to turn this lie around.

Oh and a gentle reminder to those who want to see this nonsense curbed, including Harper's lead role in sending out a message that is untrue, give what you can, here.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Little Bit of Tourism

On this rather muggy Friday, (42 with the humidex), with little in the news motivating me to write, I took a wander over to the BT's.

I won't provide links, but it seems that SDA and The Crux of the Matter, and some of their commenter's, are less than impressed with the quality of the Conservative website.

I and many other Lib and Progressive bloggers have spoken to this many times, but the BT's seemed satisfied until now. What changed?

The bullet hole photo of Dion seems to have put them over the edge. I know some Liblogger's wrote about it, but somehow I think when Kinsella (and I'm no fan) picked up on it yesterday, they realised the exposure may be wider than anticipated and a few of them have reacted.

Will the site change as a result of this? I have my doubts. They have a lot invested in 'Oily' and their other cheesy, tacky, ads so to deviate too far from that juvenile format would not be in their best interest. I'm sure they are quite pleased with their efforts and if you read many BT's, they speak in precisely the same language that the site encourages.

One of the funniest comments I read seemed to think that the Lib site was linking to 'news' articles and he lamented that the Con's have very few positive articles to link to. He then realised his mistake, but not fully. What he was referring to were the press releases that sit on main page. Once he realised they did not come from the media, he assumed they were pieces just written for the site.

A press release, dear Con, is something that goes out and is picked up or ignored. Most are ignored. That doesn't stop the Lib's putting them out and posting them.

To be frank, his idea wasn't bad. There could be a section that linked to press coverage and there could be updates provided to the initial press release that substantiate their case.

I'm not sure that all BT's will rally behind a cause to change the Con site, but SDA does hold sway over that group. Comments thus far do not support that notion, in number or substance, but we shall see.

Personally, I'll choose an intelligent presentation of issues over idiocy every time, but that doesn't mean we Lib's can't use more ideas.

What would you offer to the Lib's in terms of their site? How would you change it and what would you offer that isn't present? Most importantly, how would you disseminate this information?

I'll forward good ideas.


Here are some endorsements of both Dion and the Green Shift plan.

Some of it comes from Liberal Party members and some comes from people who probably aren't going to be on Jack's summer BBQ list.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Do you Have a Plan B?

Harper, while ignoring any meaningful dialogue on the environment, has already begun making noises about getting tough on crime. Yes, again. That seems to be the central theme going forward for either governing or going into an election.

Speaking to party faithful at the Stampede this month Harper said the following:

Attending his third Calgary Stampede as prime minister, Harper also repeated his party's pledge to deal with the "escalating problem of violent youth crime" when Parliament resumes in the fall.

"We must send a message — and we will — that we hold young lawbreakers responsible for their behaviour. That is what we intend to do this coming session."

He has a a slight problem though.

The youth crime rate declined two per cent in 2007 after a three-per-cent increase the year before.

The Stat's Can site provides an interesting picture. The second graph tells an interesting story about violent crime. Clearly it's been declining since the 90's with a slight increase near the end of the decade, then back down.

So what's Harper likely to do, change his strategy? Not a chance. He'll adopt his usual tack of scaring the public and telling us he's the only one who can protect us. In fact, I wouldn't put it past him to take credit for this decline, which of course would be a lie, but we all know that truth doesn't play a prominent role in this government.

So, watch for the spin coming to a conservative media outlet near you in the upcoming days. I actually turned to a conservative radio station when I heard this news today. As expected, the comments went something like this.

I don't believe the numbers. Statistic's are manipulated to tell you what you want to know. The bureaucracy is Liberal. It can't be true, just listen to the news.

In other words, Conservatives have difficulty with facts that don't support their narrative, so expect those facts to be distorted.

Well, what do you know. I barely finished this post before I saw this. The spin has begun:

The Statistics Canada figures may not tell the whole story. Irvin Waller, director of the Institute for Prevention of Crime at the University of Ottawa, says fewer people are reporting crimes to police because they are disillusioned with the justice system.

Past spin by Harper and co.,

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has dismissed empirical evidence that crime rates are actually falling, suggesting that emotion is a more telling barometer.

Can you imagine someone actually saying that? Ignore empirical evidence, rely on emotion. The emotion he speaks of is that which he creates out of whole cloth, promoting fear.

Harper has cast those who point to statistics to oppose elements of the Tory law-and-order agenda as apologists for criminals.

Hmmm, terrorist sympathisers and Taliban lovers come to mind. What absolute rot.

"(They) try to pacify Canadians with statistics," he told party supporters in January.
"Your personal experiences are impressions are wrong, they say; crime is really not a problem. These apologists remind me of the scene from the Wizard of Oz when the wizard says, 'Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."'

Uh, the man behind the curtain would be Harper!

That assertion was echoed Thursday by Justice Minister Rob Nicholson.
"We are not governing by statistics. We are governing by what we promised Canadians in the last election and what Canadians have told us," he said in an interview.

That's right Rob, I couldn't agree more. You are governing from and for your base and ignoring fact. What a way to run a country.


Let me know what you hear or read.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Choices, choices! What to Do?

Oh dear. The boneheaded move of the government proclaiming against Insite a couple of months ago is coming back to bite them.

I know most Canadians are turned off politics, but special interest groups are not. They are listening. I would encourage them, (not that my voice here really has any influence) to speak out now and speak out loudly. I'm pretty sure that there will be an election called in the Fall and if 3rd parties do not start speaking in unity now as to what this government is doing, they will have lost their chance when the writ finally drops.

As it relates to this story, bravo to Quebec. It does indeed put the Con's in a corner. Votes or ideology? Where do they compromise? My bet is that they stick to their very flawed logic, but make a play to make it palatable to Quebecers in the same manner that Clement presented at committee which I suspect most Canadians ignored. Failed logic, even wrapped in Conservative spin, cannot prevail.

I don't know if an election will bring all of this nonsense to the fore, but I have to say at this point I want to scream, no I want to employ Cher's line in Moonstruck, and yell, 'Snap out of it!' to disengaged Canadians.

Dion started to engage people on issues, but I notice now in the press it's really only the idiot Sun columnists who speak to his plan. Actually they don't speak about it, they speak at it through amazing distortion. The MSM have moved on to more sexy stories and their definition of sexy is sorely lacking, imo.

Write to third parties people. Encourage them to make their case very public and do it now. Third party validation, on any cause, is important. At the moment we only seem right wing groups speaking out. The left is being buried in the letters to the editors section.

It's time to push the groups you support.

It's Not Fair! It's Not Fair! It's Not Fair!

Today's committee hearings were something to behold. In fact, for me it was a day that made you cringe to think of who is running this country at the moment. If today's performance was our only measurement of these people, you'd conclude that we are being governed by whining, defensive, paranoid, offensive, liars, who view all Canadian Institutions with disdain, including parliament itself.

Oh right, we are.

The gentleman shown here is David Tilson, Con MP for Dufferin -Caledon. As Kady O'Malley likes to remind us, he's very cranky. Not just occasionally, but it seems to be a regular state of mind for him. He was not happy with today's proceedings and really did say, "It's not fair!" about 4 or 5 times.

The morning session was taken up by the Conservatives taking issue with Mayrand's remarks that he will be careful not to speak to issues that are currently before the Court. In fact, the Con's seem to have been putting forward questions that have already been asked in Court because apparently the transcripts are available.

I found that interesting actually. I presumed that their defense team would have more than what the Con's have been putting forward in public. Apparently not, at least not so far, which does not bode well for their case. Ironically Poilievre tried to make the case today at just how badly things are going for the opposition parties and how well they are going for the Con's, which made me laugh out loud. I guess he doesn't read any press.

So the morning was basically a lot of to and fro'ing with the Conservatives telling us, once again, just how hard done by they are and how everybody and I mean everybody is against them.

What was really offensive though was how blatant their disdain for Mayrand and EC really is.

This afternoon was about going over the witness list, (to be called beginning in August, 11th I think). Szabo began by striking out duplicates on the list then proceeded to explain that only those witnesses that actually fell within the parametres of what the committee was charged with and that eliminated all the Conservatives witnesses. Any guesses as to how that went over?

Good grief, squeals of, unfair, kangaroo court, bias, illegal running of committee and so on. Why were the witnesses excluded? The best I can make out is because their list consisted of NDP and Bloc members, past members and official agents. Given that the committee is charged with looking into what the Conservatives did, those individuals don't seem very relevant do they?

So we were treated to about another hour of whining from the Conservatives until finally Marlene Jennings moved to adjourn and since that receives no debate, just a vote, so 'crack', down came the gavel and the meeting was done.

This did not allow Poilievre to put forward his ridiculous motion to compel Mayrand to call an independent investigation into the fictitious leak, but something tells me he'll bring it up again at the next meeting.

So I guess we'll pick this up in August, unless Mr. Poilievre decides to do some more radio shows.

As always, for a play by play account of today, visit Kady's blog.

BC'er also has an account.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Over Their Head's...The Media.

I've listened to numerous media reports today that suggest that the release of the Omar Khadr tapes did not garner the desired effect. They say that his lawyers were looking for sympathy but instead they received a backlash.

That's true of course because the BT-like people knew this vid was coming out and they lined up to freep every comment section going.

How long is it going to take for the media in this country to understand that a hyped-up grassroots organisation that follows Harper's law without thinking or question, is skewing comments sections, Green Shift web sites, and on-line polls? (I refer to nonsense polls here.)

Who will have the courage to say, this is what we see, but it's weighted because....?

Don't they realise that reporting these events without context presents a view that is not main stream? Don't they know that without context when they report these faux phenoms, they further skew opinion?

I'm sick to death about the ink right wing columnists get and I'm fed up with the freeping the BT's manage and more than anything, I'm astonished that the MSM do not want to set this record straight. Isn't it to their advantage to do so?

Are they afraid of something? Didn't they, haven't they seen what happened and is still happening in the US? Do they want this here? Do they believe that by speaking out they'll sound 'left'?

I think they are.

How about we approach this in a Canadian way? The 'right' is free to do what they do, but that does not mean it can't be reported on. It doesn't mean you can't tell the full story of why opinion on certain sites shifts.

For the most part, Canadians can figure this stuff out, but the assumption that all can, given the lack of fact, is specious in my view. We are only being exposed to a re-cap of ridiculous events. Analysis of the events is missing. That is not reporting as it was meant to be, imo.

I don't want bias in our media. I want truth and that includes telling us what is going on on all fronts.

Khadr was done an injustice today. Not by his lawyers and not by those who freeped sites. In my view he was ill served by the media that most Canadians depended on to tell them the whole truth.

Where do honesty seekers go now?

Oh and for my right leaning readers, it doesn't get more right than this guy. Kudos to him for calling out the nonsense in his own way.

From Fact to Fiction with a Sprinkling of Funny

There was no filibuster at Committee today. There's always tomorrow when the Con's plan to bring forward 4 motions.

It started off well with Mayrand spending about 1 1/2 hours summarizing what led him to refer the claims of 67 Conservative candidates to the Commissioner. Pretty dry stuff, but it put everything in context. Overall, the questions were as you would expect with each Party attempting to glean more information while making their political points.

Dominic LeBlanc and the rest of the Liberals for that matter spent their time clarifying the misleading information that the Con's have put out:

'Everybody does the same thing, the Conservatives were treated differently, Elections Canada changed the rules mid-election, they are using new rules retro actively, the media was tipped off, etc.'

while being sure to point out at every opportunity that only the Conservatives are being investigated.

The Bloc couldn't understand why Mr. Mayrand wouldn't just say that the $1.3 million in spending must go back to the CPC and that in turn would put them over the limit. Mayrand said that wouldn't be decided until the judgement was rendered in court.

The NDP were obsessed with naming all the office holders, Day, Verner, Bernier, Paradis and more, who were involved in this scheme, while making it very clear that the NDP see this as a clear plan to subvert democracy and steal the election. Well, Pat Martin did that, but Thomas Mulcair seemed to be following his pattern of drawing the Liberals into the fray, including how they just happened to be there with a camera when the raid occurred. He backed away from that a bit toward the end.

And the Conservatives? Well, I suppose the term I would use to describe their questioning would be farcical. In spite of the Liberals asking Mayrand to clarify all the claims they have made, they just kept making the same claims. Poilievre obsessed with the 'leak'. There was no leak of course, but Pierre begs to differ.

He wanted to know what kind of investigation was done to get to the bottom of the fictional leak and is outraged that EC would investigate itself while the CPC was being subjected to court proceedings! (Hmm. Do NAFTA-leak and Bernier enquiry ring a bell?)

He also makes the outrageous claim that EC was focused on ensuring that the CPC received negative press. Paraphrased 'EC was totally preoccupied with creating negative press for a political party.'

I swear, every time this guy opens his mouth he sounds more ridiculous. He later went on to suggest that if the Liberals used any of the tape they acquired as a result of the 'leak', in future election ads, that Elections Canada could be viewed as supporting the Liberal party. Whaaat? Shades of shutting down the use of the Zytaruk tape, no?

Mayrand's expressions while listening to the translation were priceless. His eyes doubled in size when the ridiculous comments were made and as he went to answer, he kind of shook his head in that 'did he really just say that?' kind of way.

David Tilson was the other card on that side that provided some levity, only I think he was serious. He basically said, 'so EC leaks to the Liberals that there will be a raid, as a result of the raid EC now is in possession of Conservative election strategy, so my question is, have you shared the Conservative election strategy with the Liberal party'. He almost cost me a new lap top. For the record, everyone in the room laughed, except the Conservatives.

In the end, much was learned today, but I'll wait to hear tomorrow's hearings to proclaim what that means.

I will say this though. Out of the Blue, the Con's brought forward another motion requesting that EC appoint an independent observer to investigate the fictional 'leak'.

Yo, Harper! The raid was 2 1/2 hours old before the media got there. Leak?

It will be interesting to see how they present this motion tomorrow. The opposition clarified that there was no leak, so I expect they will vote against...that is if they are given the opportunity to vote.

Monday, July 14, 2008

How to 'Right' this Ship?

Oh dear. Another snag in the 'we have irrefutable proof' case.

See what happens when you lie?

Another Filibuster?

Yesterday, Pierre Poilievre was on QP with Thomas Mulcair and Scott Brison to discuss the upcoming committee meetings, (tomorrow and Wednesday), on the In and Out scheme.

While what he said was the same old tripe, he was somewhat more restrained than we've seen in the past. (I guess he really got a dressing down.)

In view of his more subdued demeanor, I wondered if the meetings might go smoothly, (I know, silly me) given how clear the Notice of Meeting is.

Well if I'm reading this story correctly, it doesn't look as though tomorrow is going to be all that smooth. I'm not sure if the intent is to actually filibuster, but it does appear that the Conservatives will bring forward 3 motions in an effort to have the Bloc included in the hearings. That is precisely how they have been filibustering all these months.

Like the handling of Zytaruk tape case, it really seems to me that the Conservatives simply don't care how their actions resonate with the public, which of course doesn't make much sense as we approach an election . Don't you think that after months of filibustering, an attempt to once again distract and delay the committee business will be seen as an obvious ploy to not have their case examined?

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they'll simply make the motions and have them voted down and move on believing that they have presented reasonable doubt as to the credibility of Elections Canada. Perhaps they further believe that they will be bolstering their case to discredit the institution by pointing out the bias they believe Elections Canada is employing.

If that's the case, I think it's a risky move. I imagine the meetings will be televised, therefore they will be viewed by a larger than usual audience. Until now, they have batted away charges of being obstructionist, but that will be a little tough to do if you're on the nightly news obstructing, don't you think?

Then again, maybe they think all eyes will be focused here.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

It's Not About the Truth. It's About the Show

Doesn't Harper look like a director sitting in his chair, watching to ensure that the show goes on as he imagined it?

Consider how the lawsuit he has brought against the Liberal party is being played out. First the revelation by Zytaruk, then the implausible rebuttals by James Moore in the House, then the whole 'we'll see you in court!' exclamation and finally the flashy presser to announce, in language verging on hysteria, that the tape had been altered.

None of the above has yet addressed the essence of what all of this is really about of course. That is the Conservatives offering Cadman financial compensation of some sort prior to a vote of grave importance, but it's been a pretty good show so far hasn't it?

It's funny how quickly the Con's presented themselves as being vindicated, because after all, the tapes were doctored right? 'Case closed as far as we're concerned, but we'll still see you in court! '

Except, the Harper gang, as is their wont, didn't provide all of the information they received as it relates to the tape.

A former FBI scientist hired by Stephen Harper's lawyer in the prime minister's $3.5-million lawsuit against the Liberal party has contradicted two other experts who said an audio tape at the centre of the legal action was doctored, court documents reveal.


The initial two experts, one from the United States and the other from Stratford, Ont., categorically ruled that an audio tape recording of an interview Zytaruk conducted with Harper in September 2005 had been altered.

Koenig, who also performed an authenticity analysis of the Linda Tripp telephone recordings in the investigation of former U.S. president Bill Clinton, reported irregularities in the copy tape and portions where an earlier recording had been taped over, but concluded Zytaruk's original recording, his tape recorder and an external microphone if Zytaruk used one "are required to conduct a conclusive authenticity examination in a forensic audio laboratory."

That kind of examination is required to "scientifically" determine whether the original information is truly original, contains or has alterations, such as deletions or additions, Koenig said in the report he submitted with his own sworn affidavit.

There is nothing surprising in what he says of course, nor is it odd to have different results from various witnesses. What is odd though are the lengths to which the Conservatives go in relying on the 2 experts they told us about, while ignoring this one.

Didn't they think Mr. Koenig's affidavit would be revealed? Did they not realise how ridiculous they look in doing this? How is it that they continue to believe the public will accept their half truths and ridiculous scripted replies? Maybe they really do believe that they can convince Canadians that black is white and up is down?

While the Conservative strategy may be banking on Canadians being stupid, something tells me this one is going to backfire, especially if this all comes down to the first two experts picking up noise from a previous conversation that Zytaruk taped over.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

He's Been Consistent

It's not unusual to read some of Dion's critics charge that he has changed his mind by bringing in the Green Shift. I say, no, not really.

It's true he did not always believe that a carbon tax was the most effective way to get there, but the overall concept of what he has said he wanted to accomplish remains the same. He evolved his thinking with circumstance and market, and decided on a better plan.

Think back. This is what he said in one of his first speeches as Liberal leader to the Economic Club of Toronto:

January 16, 2007
“Climate change is now seen as one of the defining challenges of the 21st century -- and as a global risk with impacts far beyond the environment.” –World Economic Forum, January 2007

When one sets out on a journey, it is important to have a clear understanding of the final destination. So in this, my first major speech as Liberal Leader, I begin by telling you what I want to achieve if I become Prime Minister.

It will not surprise you to hear that my goals are based on the three pillars of a prosperous economy, social justice, and a sustainable environment. These three pillars are not silos. They do not exist in isolation from each other. Rather, Canada must combine them, more effectively and more profitably than anywhere in the world.

The Green Shift sets out to be one part of that vision for Canada. It doesn't just tackle the environment, but obviously reaches out to include the economy and social justice. It is meant to incentify people and industry to modify behaviour and in industry's case, to make changes that will keep profit sound, through tax cuts.

The Con's are calling it everything from social engineering to a tax grab designed to justify loony Liberal social programmes. Both comments miss the mark of course and actually point out just how regressive their thinking is. The contrast is stark. I think most countries who have taken the environment seriously and have been successful, have been able to make the shift from thinking in silo's to knowing that going forward means thinking differently.

Oddly, even Layton doesn't seem to get this. The noises coming out of his mouth suggest he's looking out for the little guy, but he offers no relief or incentive to the obvious cost's that consumers will have to bear through a cap and trade system and he too seems to keep environment in more of a silo. Layton to me is a one topic at a time thinker and certainly not someone who can integrate complex issues into a plan. Not a big thinker in other words. That's not really a dig, I just don't think many are cut out to do that.

Harper on the other hand is that kind of person. Sadly his master plan has little to do with Canada as we know it.

Back to the Green Shift. Adam Radwanski wrote a thoughtful, though critical piece this week. Here is some of what he had to say:

Is it really revenue neutral?
Short answer: Only if you accept the broadest possible definition of what qualifies as a tax cut. But then, that's pretty much the definition we've been accepting for years.

Straightforward tax cuts, in the form of reductions to business and income taxes, add up to roughly $9-billion in Year 4 of the Liberal plan. The rest of the more than $15-billion the party expects its carbon tax to generate would go mostly toward spending initiatives dressed up as tax benefits and credits - a $465-million supplement for low-income workers, a $150 supplement for every rural resident (totalling $749-million) to help pay their bills, a $600-million capital cost allowance for green technologies, another $400-million for R&D, an $800-million boost to the guaranteed income supplement for low-income seniors. Biggest of all is a nearly $3-billion child tax benefit - quite possibly a worthwhile expenditure, as are many of the others, but not exactly a tax cut in the traditional sense of the word.

Personally, I'd prefer the Liberals would just acknowledge that they want to use the revenues from the carbon tax to help fund a platform that combines tax cuts and social spending aimed mostly at alleviating poverty - a defensible method of putting Dion's "Three Pillars" business into effect. But for the Tories to accuse them of being disingenuous, even if it's not inaccurate, is a bit rich.

I understand why he tries to parse it, it's traditional thinking, but really I think Dion has been making that link during his Town Halls without making it too complex. Adam's certainly right about the Con's though.

So, as these meetings go forward, I think there should be more emphasis placed on how we have to change our silo thinking. Dion seems to have already shifted in that direction based on a couple of things I read today.

The other thing I think the Lib's must do a better job at is pointing out the fact that cap and trade also brings costs that will be passed to consumers and both the NDP and the Con's have no plan to help the affected.

I'm not clever enough to come up with a model that could be used in a presentation, but if there is anyone out there that is or has, I'd love to read it.

Good or bad press, the Green Shift is in the news just about every day. It has changed the debate. We are still seeing old school methods of attacking and be assured that the Con's will hold to the tax grab line, but we can change that thinking. We are however seeing far fewer arguments over whether or not climate change is real and whether or not we must do something. True, the Con plan does nothing so it could be argued that they reside in the distant past, but even they have been forced to present something.

As it stands, Dion is the only one going forward in terms of thinking differently and in the end I think that bodes well. Tim Powers (Con strategist) tonight on radio said no one is paying attention. Kinsella, and John Wright of Ipsos, of all people, countered with, 'when people hear him and understand the program, clearly they like it'.

Dion all the while has been consistent. Imagine that in a leader?