Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How Very Sad

Dave Batters ~ 1969 - 2009

Statement from the Batters family:

"The family of Dave Batters is grieving the sudden loss of their beloved husband, son and brother, who sadly chose to take his own life at home in Regina on Monday, June 29. Last fall, Dave courageously made public his battle with depression and anxiety when he chose not to run for re-election as the Member of Parliament for Palliser. He entered treatment and his family and friends hoped he would overcome his illness. Tragically, this was not to be.

"Dave and Denise's family greatly appreciates the support of their friends during this extremely difficult time and requests that the media respect their privacy. Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date."

I just can't imagine how difficult this must be for the family.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Can't Be! Not Possible!

I just read that the Liberals have tripled their donations over the same time last year. How can that be?

Very reliable (unnamed) sources continue to 'leak' to the press, well, just last week in fact, that the party is broke. Broke I tell you! So, that must be true right?

From that anonymous(e) source, journalists extrapolate and well, write articles to support that comment. Funny that, because you know, people read those articles and if you were to ask someone with a passing interest in politics whether or not the Liberals had enough money to fight an election, most people would do the big....phffft...' Absolutely Not'! Their depth of knowledge? Zero.

Anyway, this is great news and it shouldn't stop here. I know times are tough for many, but if you're still willing and able, go here and do what you can.

Oh, and don't buy the doom. As much as I wish it was not the case, money does make a difference. Ideas are more important, but it does take money to get them out there.

Here's the beginning of an albeit tough, but earnest start.

Give if you can and join if you're willing.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Home at Last!

While I imagine he will still face some difficulties, Abousfian Abdelrazik is finally home. I have to say that I was a little concerned that something untoward might happen at Customs, but thankfully all seemed to go smoothly.

This story should not be forgotten however. I heard a news report on the radio, simply saying that he was home, had been in Sudan for 6 years and was tortured, and that he was brought home by the Harper government.

Really. That's what they said. The Harper government brought him home. Technically correct, but...shades of good 'ol Harper to the rescue, were hardly hidden. No mention of how the government has resisted this every step of the way and only did what they did because they were ordered by the courts to do so.

I'm sure few people know about this case, and fewer have likely followed closely, but the take away from a news report like that is that the government came in on a white steed and rescued the man. What a crock!

Meanwhile, Stockwell Day was in Saudi Arabia and met with Mohamed Kohail's family. You remember him right? The young Canadian man facing death by beheading. Anyway, he wrote to the PM, not for the first time, asking for help. His family gave the letter to Day.

The first letter that was written never reached the PM, which I suppose is not unexpected, but I wonder if it reached the PMO? Will we be able to track what happens to this letter?

Day did not meet with Kohail personally. Surprise, surprise.

While Day met with the family, he didn't go to the prison where Kohail is being held.

The minister was in Saudi Arabia as part of a business trip to the Middle East.
But Day should have met with Mohamed Kohail at the prison, and should have been more forceful with Saudi officials over the case, said Liberal MP Dan McTeague.

"Mr. Day has had two opportunities to travel to Saudi Arabia, suggested he's met with the right people to raise this," said McTeague.
"He ought to have visited Mr. Kohail and he ought to have been very forceful in the concerns that he and Mr. Kohail have raised about . . . allegations of torture."

I guess we'll have to wait to see if the government is successful in getting this man released or clemency. In which case, I will be the first to support a news report claiming same.

The Struggle Hasn't Ended

Written for Neda and the ongoing struggle in Iran. Please share the video.


Jeffrey Simpson certainly doesn't shy away from saying what needs to be said, this morning.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was at it again this week - making announcements. Get used to it. He's going to be making them all summer, just as he has for weeks now.

On Thursday, the Harper announcement show hit Halifax, where, in one of those patented made-for-television setups, he said Pier 21 would become a national museum. Surrounded by Conservative ministers, senators and MPs, who looked on him like angels in a Christ child painting, Mr. Harper rolled out his announcement.

This is his style: matter of fact, flat, direct, the antithesis of the uplifting visionary. He can't move away from it, because the style incarnates him. He's stuck in the polls, but he knows no other way.

I have a minor quibble with his description of Harper being direct as I tend to associate a measure of honesty with that term and really, isn't Harper the master agitpropist?

By now, at least some of you will have seen the colourful newspaper advertisements and TV spots extolling the virtues of the Harper government's stimulus package. These ads aren't the standard ones that give straight-up information about the where, how and when of government programs. Rather, they are blatantly propagandistic, talking up the virtues of the programs as if they'd been crafted by the Conservative Party itself.


As the summer progresses, the Prime Minister also will be test-marketing several themes that his party will use against the Liberals in the next election, whenever that occurs.

The first is that the Conservatives are “tough on crime,” whereas the Liberals (and the other parties) are not. As almost every criminologist in Canada would attest, the Conservatives' crime policies are mostly illusory.

Gee, what if we lived in a world that gave voice to those who speak the truth? Instead, all the coverage goes to those who spin it.

The other thematic test-marketing revolves around taxes, with the Conservatives already accusing the Liberals of planning to raise taxes if elected. Of course, any responsible government should raise taxes, at least temporarily, after the recession winds down to bring an end to the deficit as quickly as possible.
But Mr. Harper is peddling the notion that no tax increases will be necessary because his stimulus package will expire and the resumption of economic growth will do the rest.

This is baloney...

Indeed it is baloney, but apparently it's tasty, because more than a few Canadians are still buying it.

So we shall (again) have a debate about illusions - about “tough on crime” policies that are nothing of the kind, and about future economic policy based on false projections and political fear.
But we shall have prefabricated photo-op announcements and taxpayer-subsidized advertising all summer long. We will be asked to consider these as real substance about the future of our country

And that pretty much sums up how Harper is failing this country.

Some Liberals talk privately of being brave, of saying to Canadians: “We are the party that worries about the deficit, and wants to bring it under control, so here is how we propose to do it."

Let us hope the brave prevail.


Poll - Here

Friday, June 26, 2009

Current Events

I confess to never having been a Michael Jackson fan. This mash-up however, I think, deserves some spreading around.

If you are so inclined, spread it.

Oh, and we thought it would be inconvenient to vote in the summer?

h/t to impolitical

The Rule is What?

I'm pretty sure each and every one of you have received one of these tacky, juvenile mailings. Perhaps not this one specifically, but something like it, right?

I also know that it's not only Liberals that are upset by this waste of paper. I've read and heard countless accounts from Conservatives who are at once embarrassed and disgusted.

So, in reading this article, I was struck by the final line:

The rules for 10-per-centers allow for some partisan content but are not to suggest that an MP be elected, re-elected or defeated.

Really? That's the rule? Then why are these bloody things allowed to be distributed? I have many that actually have the image of a ballot on them. That seems like a pretty blatant 'suggestion of re-election' to me.

Federal opposition politicians accused the Conservatives Friday of using taxpayer funds to produce and distribute political propaganda, a charge the party denied.

But one of the Conservative MPs who sent out the mailing said the content was "simply the truth."

Brian Jean, who represents the Alberta riding of Fort MacMurray, said, "I don't think of it as an attack at all. I think it's providing information and my job is to inform Canadians as to what their options are."

I find it astounding that no one in the media has contested this now common assertion that both the 10 per centers and the ads on TV and radio, are just telling the truth. They are not!

Some of the old ones said that Dion would revoke the child subsidy program, tax EVERYTHING and increase the GST. The ones attacking Ignatieff are no better. Worse maybe, and they still have a ballot-like option on them.

Oh, they have been clever though. Those Con's. The ballot no longer reads vertically, but is horizontal and they don't say mark an x, but rather suggest that you check one of the boxes, but it's a ballot by any other name.

That said, I understand why the Liberals would be tempted to fight fire with fire:

One, from Neville's office, shows pictures of former prime ministers: Next to Brian Mulroney are the words "$42 billion deficit," while the caption next to former prime minister Paul Martin reads "$13 billion surplus." Finally, beside a picture of Stephen Harper are the words "$34 billion deficit." (Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has subsequently revised the expected 2009 deficit figure to $50.4 billion.)

While that actually is accurate, I still don't think the Liberals should go there. We can still get the message out using more traditional ten per centers.

I'd really like to see the Conservatives nailed on this. Not just to get at the party, but to change the tone in this country to one that respects our intelligence.

The article is a little light on detail concerning the complaint though. Where it goes seems to be anyone's guess.

Here's an Idea

Instead of running around the country, making stops at every media outlet along the way to mislead Canadians about the Liberals, how about this? How about instructing those with direct oversight over the CBSA to put together a summer training session.

No, not more training on carrying a firearm that you can't use. You know, useful training, like who can and cannot enter this country and why.

The federal government had to apologize to a visiting Salvadoran judge for some out-of-date information about his country.

Eugenio Chicas was detained at Toronto's Pearson airport for 24 hours last week after he says officials told him he was a member of a questionable organization.

The FMLN was the revolutionary guerrilla group that fought the government in a brutal civil war between 1980 and 1992. Chicas was once a senior commander in the former military movement, and is a high profile member of the party.

But the FMLN now is the governing party in El Salvador. Canadian minister of state Peter Kent attended the presidential inauguration this spring alongside U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"They told me that because of my affiliation with the organization, they wouldn't let me into the country," Chicas said from San Salvador.

"I told them that the war in El Salvador ended 17 years ago and the FMLN is now the governing party in El Salvador, but they told me that was the information they had available."

Sigh. You know, it seems not a day goes by without some embarrassing incident with this government.

Wasn't keeping Ayers and Galloway out idiotic enough? This man was invited by OUR government!

All I can say is, I sincerely hope that when Abdelrazik lands, there are no problems.

Ignatieff at 'Silent Scream Vigil'

Video by Liberal Minute

"The Iranian regime did not anticipate you." ~ Michael Ignatieff

Thursday, June 25, 2009

No Shame...None

When parliament broke last week, I wondered what the tenor would be coming from the Conservatives as we moved into summer.

Actually, I didn't wonder too much and here we are, barely a week out and they are certainly playing true to form.

Let's start with the most recent displays of pandering shall we?

You may have noted that the government named Pier 21 a national museum today. That is a good thing in my view. What struck me though, watching the announcement was a small thing, but it's telling. After making the announcement, toward the end of his speech, there was a wave of applause. Harper grinned, nodded, and then came back and said 'maybe I should quit while I'm ahead'.

I know, cute quip right? Except this announcement wasn't about him. The government of Canada making this designation is a good thing, but it's something that has been in the works for a while and something that is good for Canada. It's unusual that a PM would make the announcement, in fact, the honour should have gone to MP Moore. That Harper assumed the applause was minor, but a real indication of the man. It's always, all about him. Another complaint? CBC banner during the announcement was: Harper Announcement. Wrong...oh, so wrong.

It was what followed that announcement though that is more telling. A PM with a pathetic transparent grin on his face, unable to answer a simple question asked by, wait for it... Steve Murphy of CTV. Yep, none other than that upstanding, well...standing upright, person who fancies himself to be a journalist, when he isn't breaking his word, that is.

Q: You have been spending a good deal of time with Ignatieff lately working on this compromise that averted the election, and at same time your party is running ads that attacked Mr. Ignatieff. And frankly, we and other broadcasters have been getting complaints about those ads. How do those ads right now improve or dignify the political process?

A: “My understanding is the campaign’s over for now. But look my preference would be to see opposition work with the government. The opposition has not chosen that path, until very recently. I must admit to being somewhat disappointed the very day after we’d agreed with Mr. Ignatieff to work on employment insurance, the Liberal party was out saying well this was just a cover for a fall election. I do think people want to see the parties work together, but certainly if the parties aren’t going to work together, the Conservative party won’t unilaterally disarm.”

(Transcript here.)

Not only was Harper unable to answer the question initially, in his typical weaselly way he slammed the Liberals, with a lie and a grin. The victim hood that the Conservative party continues to wallow in, boggles the mind.

During the interview he also repeated the mantra for the week, 'the Liberal Senate is holding up our crime bills'. Absolute BS!

They of course are trying to capitalize on the UN report that cites Canada as being the highest producer of 'ecstasy' in NA. But, and it's an important one, they got the bill to the Senate a week before they were scheduled to rise. No one is holding it up. But hey, since when did Van Loan, Nicholson or Harper rely on the truth to get their message out?

Oh and for the record, Murphy nodded and uh huh'ed throughout Harper's replies, including his claim that 80% of the stimulus fund was working and a shout out that emphasized that most EI recipients, or those in need of same, are happy. It was pathetic.

During another Q & A today, Harper had this to say about swine flu:

"We really don't know why the H1N1 is more severe among some populations, rather than others," Harper said in Halifax.

But, but, (why can't he hear me when I shout at the TV?)...hasn't your Minister been standing up in the House denying, indignant even, at the suggestion that some populations have been harder hit than others?

Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of Health, CPC): Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear, first of all, on the H1N1 situation.

Presently there is no scientific evidence to show that H1N1 is predominantly affecting aboriginal people. Based on science, we will continue to monitor the situation very carefully.

I come from an isolated aboriginal community in Nunavut, and the systems that are in place to respond to the pandemic are no different in the north and in small communities. We have provided 10 additional nurses and doctors to St. Theresa Point to respond to this situation.

That is from Hansard, last Thursday. I guess the pathetic news that Health Canada didn't send hand sanitizer to said communities because they contained alcohol, had him re framing the government response?

And then finally, we heard this. Right on cue from the Obama decision. Not an original thought in their heads apparently.

These are just a few things that have happened since the House rose. All of it from the party who doesn't want an election but just can't help campaigning 24/7, 365 days a year.

No shame. None.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Roméo LeBlanc

Roméo-Adrien LeBlanc PC CC CMM ONB CD
18 December 1927 - 24 June 2009

My deepest sympathy to Dominic and LeBlanc family.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

This is Canada?

Colour me completely unsurprised. The government waited until parliament wasn't sitting to appeal, yes appeal, the court order to get Omar Khadr out of Guantanamo.

You remember that don't you?

Federal Court Judge James O'Reilly ruled in April that the government's refusal to demand repatriation of Khadr offends fundamental justice. The government must ask the United States "as soon as practical" to send Khadr, 22, home, O'Reilly said.

Since that time, the government has avoided every question on the issue by putting up the bumbling, stumbling, parliamentary secretary Deepak Obhrai. Actually, both he and Nicholson have both said that they were awaiting the US process to take it's course. Obhrai said this as recently as June 18/2009:

Mr. Speaker, I have answered this question on many occasions and it is the same answer. Our position has not changed. Mr. Omar Khadr faces very serious charges.

We are waiting the outcome of the review that President Obama has requested to be conducted.

The lies just keep on coming don't they? They weren't waiting. They were planning to fight the court order and keep him there at any cost. But wait, it gets worse.

You would expect, in fighting to have this order overturned, the government would be presenting a pretty compelling case to not return Khadr to Canada. Right? Danger, terrorist, bad guy...something like that?

A federal lawyer conceded Tuesday that she cannot "point to any risks" if Omar Khadr were repatriated to Canada.
Doreen Mueller made the admission Tuesday under repeated grilling from Federal Court of Appeal judges on why the Canadian government refuses to seek the return of the Canadian terror suspect from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"If the government makes the request, is there a negative impact on its security interests?" asked Justice Karen Sharlow.
"If that were the conclusion . . . I can't point to any risks," said Mueller.

Isn't that unbelievable? Doesn't that just make the case that sane people have been making all along? That the Harper government is keeping that man in Guantanamo Bay for gawds sake, because of their ideology? Because it wouldn't go over well with their base? You know the base I mean. Those people who put such a high value on all life. Disgusting.

So their argument is not that Khadr is a risk, no their argument is that the judiciary has no place telling the government what to do. Are you getting the picture here? Does the term activist judiciary come to mind?

A federal government lawyer said the courts need to back off when it comes to the Omar Khadr case and leave foreign affairs decisions to the Prime Minister and his cabinet.

But I'm certain that Harper said that he'd be kept in line by the checks and balances of our system, if elected? Didn't he say that?

Without going into paranoia mode here, I do think we are getting into dangerous territory. Other rulings, decisions and issues also came out today that don't bode well.

The Harkat raid has been ruled illegal and mysteriously, a reporter was excluded from attending the Canadian China Business Council today. The Council is funded by the government. And finally, Democracy Watch is taking the government to court re' Harper breaking his fixed election law.

This is Canada?

Reference Khadr articles: here, here and here.

Ignatieff Goes To China

Michael Ignatieff met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi today and accepted an invitation to travel to China in early September.

To the best of my knowledge, Harper has yet to make time for such a trip. In fact I've heard Minister Cannon on many occasions repeat that Harper will travel there, when his agenda allows.

Who knows, maybe his schedule will open up now?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

When Is That Going To Start?

Stand Up for Canada was a cute, catchy little phrase wasn't it? I know that it made C/conservative voters feel warm and fuzzy and sadly likely convinced some, had they known better, would never have voted for the man.

It's odd isn't it then, how we've come to this place? Harper winning elections with a core of voters, a lot of voter apathy and those who just either bought the faux message or wanted to exercise their franchise, but couldn't vote for the other guy/woman.

The Star is running a series of articles that I will get into in future posts, but suffice it to say, they are taking a close look at our democracy, or to coin their phrase, the sham it's become.

Which brings me to my point. Those who follow will know that I have been caught up in the situation, nay, the outrage, in Iran.

I noted when Ignatieff made a statement and have since linked to Lawrence Cannon's statement .

Cannon's was late in my opinion. All over Twitter, not just in this country, it has been noted that we, Canada, are not taking in the injured. If you're not into Twitter, but understand social networking...trust me, this stuff moves quickly and spreads country to country.

So, I'm still engaged there on this subject and I'm watching the news. If you want news though, you'd best go to CNN or something because from what I've seen on CTV or CBC, (who really has let us down here), is nothing more than a blurb. Just another 30 or 60 second soundbite. So old...so not relevant.

This rant leads back to one thing though. Where the hell is Harper on this?

Forgetting the fact that I'm obviously a committed Liberal, where the heck is our government on the affairs of the day? Good for Cannon for speaking, but if you don't think that came after tremendous pressure...e-mails, calls, etc., go and check Twitter to understand how many did just that.

I confess that I am totally perplexed by Harper's silence. He doesn't support the regime in that country, so where does the reluctance lie?

A Canadian reporter has been taken into custody. Anyone remember the last time that that happened? Still, nothing from the government.

So, to end the rant...Stand Up for Canada? Me thinks not.

Cute slogans don't save lives and they sure as hell don't make a mark when you need them to.

Where is Harper?

Don't Ask...Won't Tell

So the government has decided that we the people don't need information on what the war in Afghanistan is going to cost. I mean after all, telling us might just tip the Taliban off as to what our exact, top secret, strategy and tactics plan might be.

Are you kidding me?

In a significant policy shift, the Canadian government now believes that telling the country’s taxpayers the future cost of the war in Afghanistan would be a threat to national security, Canwest News Service has learned.

Didn't the government make a deal with the official opposition to provide more transparency re' Afghanistan. Do they think that because they dodged that bullet they can now go back to playing cat and mouse?

When the NDP asked for the identical figures last year, the military made them public. Canwest News Service was able to disclose in April 2008 that the yearly incremental cost of the war would top $1 billion for the first time since Canada’s military became involved in Afghanistan in 2002.
But this year, military censors cited Section 15 of the act in blocking out the figure.

Is this what we are going to see. A summer of unilateral decisions without the benefit of the House being in session to ask questions?

I know it's the Conservative dream to have a majority and since they've been living a nightmare, I guess they will play pretend and behave as if they have one anyway. To be frank, even if they did have a majority, we deserve some answers here.

Does anyone else wonder just how this might be affecting our fiscal situation? I mean, Flaherty is so damned certain that this deficit is just going to go poof! and disappear after the stimulus takes hold and expires, it begs the question looking out a few years. Increased spending does not a balanced budget make.

Conventional wisdom, (according to some of our, oh so esteemed pundits), is that Harper gets a free ride during the summer.

I certainly hope they do their job and prove themselves wrong.

Update - A friend just reminded me of another good point on this story. We know that the Conservatives are going to be electioneering this summer. This takes that nasty bit of business off the table. Or does it?

Again, not if the press stay on such issues.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ignatieff Speaks on Iran

Statement from Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff on Iran:

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff today condemned the Government of Iran's use of violence to stifle peaceful dissent by protesters calling for open and transparent democratic elections.

"We mourn each life lost as a result of the Government of Iran's unjust actions, and share the anguish and outrage of Canadians of Iranian origin at the suppression of peaceful protest and the apparent denial of fully free and fair elections," said Mr. Ignatieff.

Amid reports of death and injury inflicted by the Iranian government upon peaceful protesters, the Liberal Leader also encouraged the Canadian government to do all it can to help the injured at its embassy in Tehran.

"Canada should join other countries in keeping our embassy open for the humanitarian needs of the people of Iran."

Despite the media blackout put in place by the Iranian government, reports emerging largely through online social media show images of bloodshed among protesters and clashes with government police forces.

"The Iranian government cannot hide the truth from their own citizens or from the rest of the world. By answering the call for open and transparent elections with a violent disregard for the rights of its citizens, the Iranian government has further alienated itself from the international community."

"The Liberal Party of Canada strongly affirms the rights of Iranians and people everywhere to freely express themselves and associate with others, without threat to their life or liberty. We call on the Iranian government to cease the violence and continue to call for open and transparent elections."

So where is our government on this? Missing in action as far as I can tell.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Don't Book That Holiday Quite Yet

We've heard a bit about the inequity of the distribution of funds in general by this government, but today, Liberal MP Savage party, made an official claim and has asked the auditor General to investigate the Enabling Accessibility Fund.

Liberal MP Mike Savage has requested Auditor General Sheila Fraser examine what he called a Tory "slush fund."

He made the request after calculating that 94 per cent of the funding approved so far from the $45-million Enabling Accessibility Fund has gone to Conservative-held ridings.

In particular, only two of 89 applications for major project funding have been approved, both for $15 million and both in Conservative ridings - Calgary Northeast and Flaherty's Whitby-Oshawa in Ontario.

Now, accusations are often made in the House. Some with bearing, others a little more cavalier. To ask the Auditor General for a probe though, that is no frivolous little game.

If what Savage suspects is true, well it's tough to come up with anything lower than funding of this nature being handled in a partisan way.

Savage said disabled organizations have complained that the application criteria for large projects appeared "custom-made" for the centre in Flaherty's riding.

Moreover, he said many non-profit organizations were shut out of the application process for smaller projects because of the strict criteria and one-month time frame they were given for preparing applications

"As a consequence of these concerns, I am asking you to consider conducting a full and complete audit into the EAF to determine whether all applicants received due consideration for approvals and whether all standards of government ethics, regional fairness and transparency were met in the administration of the fund," Savage wrote Fraser.

Savage brought this up in the House and if Diane Finely's answer is any indication of how seriously they consider such matters, she may be pretty busy this summer working on EI and answering to the Auditor General's office.

Mr. Speaker, we're helping the disabled get access to facilities to which they never had access before. That's a noble thing, Mr. Speaker. Something we're very proud of. Mr. Speaker, there are a number of groups that weren't able to get funding because the program was so popular, it was oversubscribed. I would note that one program that was funded was that liberal member's riding. The Ioanna presbyterian church in Dartmouth. Is he saying that's a conservative riding? It should be!

Savage's riding did get some funding.

Savage later acknowledged a church in his riding did get funding - though nowhere near as much as Tory ridings.
"My riding got one project funded ... for $50,000. Jim Flaherty got one project in his riding worth $15 million."

Can you see the difference?

Update - Impolitical has a view too.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

School's Out For Summer! Well...Almost

Is it me, or did a lot of things seem to surface on what should have been a real wind-down day in Ottawa?

QP was pretty uneventful, unless of course you caught Rob Nicholson's sheepish, (head bowed) admission that the government will finally abide by the court order that stipulates Abousfian Abdelrazik be brought back to Canada.

While this is fantastic to hear, it certainly means that there are many, many more questions to be answered here. And, while perhaps the government thought by waiting until the last hour to announce this development the whole thing might just go away, something tells me that will not be the case. The committee still wants to hear from this man and rightly so. Both Bob Rae and Paul Dewar said as much and no shrinking violets are they.

Will they sit during the summer? I don't know. I do wonder though how the screaming ninnies who have made outrageous claims in defense of keeping him out of Canada will react now?

Then we moved to some committee meetings. The Natural Resources Committee heard some remarkable testimony, not the least of which was that the PM was dead wrong when he said that the MAPLE reactors never produced an isotope. Every single witness confirmed that it was an error to shut down the reactors and that indeed they could be producing at the moment.

It became clear to me as time went on in this meeting that the Harper government made a purely political and ideological decision concerning this file and that we potentially may have avoided this crisis.

For the record, the witnesses did not say this. They were professional and technical in their testimony and consisted of nuclear scientists etc., who had worked on the reactors and had intimate knowledge of their functionality/ability. This file is certainly still in play, so what will happen over the summer will be interesting.

And oh yes, one more thing. The attention we are getting for this outside of our borders is not to be ignored. Well worth the read.

At the Procedures and Public Affairs committee, we learned that we have a little mystery going on. Not quite Watergate, but indeed it involves erased tapes. Hours of erasure apparently. I'll let Kady do the talking here, but from what I heard, the government certainly didn't want this discussed.

And then we come to the Transport Minister. Yes, he of bluster, replete with expletives for those he dislikes, John Baird. He made it quite clear in the House that the federal government was not about to step up to the plate as it relates to Toronto's ask ,vis a vis the stimulus package.

This whole issue of stimulus becomes more interesting as you read this, and this. Bottom line for those who don't like homework? The money is going to Conservative ridings.

That can play out during the summer if, with each announcement, the Liberals put a map on their site and attribute spending with blue or red, (okay orange and turquoise too), as it happens.

And finally, I'll leave you with this.

We all know that since this government took power they have controlled the media. Not what they report, but certainly their access. Today as Van Loan announced the legislation that I referred to in my previous post, they brought new meaning to the word control in this country.

When questions began to fly at this news conference, obviously some issues, contained in this post, were queried. The response?

...it was a big news day and reporters also had questions for the ministers on the case of Abousfian Abdelrazik, the ongoing Cornwall bridge closure
and a report from the House of Commons public safety committee.

The moderator, former Winnipeg police officer and first-term Conservative MP Shelly Glover, would have none of it.
“If I could interject,” she said after a question on Mr. Abdelrazik. “Today’s a very, very special day for the people who have come from a long distance. Could we please keep our questions focused on today’s announcement?”
“With due respect, it is a news conference,” CTV’s Roger Smith replied.

Thankfully this is still Canada...but that hardly comes to mind when you consider the rejoinder.

“Yes,” Ms. Glover replied sternly. “And when they put a police officer in charge, they give directions and we hope that you follow them.”

Hmmm. Maybe that whole 'boots in the streets' stuff wasn't that far off the mark?

Whenever the House doesn't sit, it's always a time for the government to make gains.

With all that is going on, maybe this summer will be different?

You Might Be Next

After months of making loud noises about yet another 'law and order' bill, the government will introduce legislation allowing law enforcement access to internet providers.

Police will be given new powers to eavesdrop on Internet-based communications as part of a contentious government bill, to be announced Thursday, which Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan has said is needed to modernize surveillance laws crafted during "the era of the rotary phone."

The proposed legislation would force Internet service providers to allow law enforcement to tap into their systems to obtain information about users and their digital conversations.

Sorry. You want to snoop around in Canadians personal files, a warrant seems a reasonable place to start.

That said, what really gets to me about this and almost all of the legislation brought forward by this government, is the posture it assumes. It's always framed in a way that enables them to attack anyone that might disagree or oppose the legislation in the most odious manner. Obviously, no one is for child porn, but that sort of idiotic line is always touted by this government when faced with opposition.

So, here we are in the dying days of this sitting and the 'tough guys' are bringing out yet another, round 'em up and lock 'em up, piece of legislation that will go nowhere right now.

Why now?

Well there's nothing like talking about evil doers and their supporters over a hot dog on the BBQ circuit over the summer, is there?

Morning Smile

Patrick Corrigan, Toronto Star

h/t - Impolitical via Twitter

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

And The Winner Is....?

Well, I guess the winners are all of those people who didn't want a summer election, which by all accounts certainly was the majority. Things didn't go as I would have liked, but that's true of many things in life isn't it? Am I happy with everything? No, not really, but I am willing to look at what is and move forward.

I wasn't around today when all of this came down, so I've been playing catch up. I've read some carping and I've read some praise. I guess if I were to chime in, it would be somewhere in the middle. That is to say, I would have preferred that we had felled the government, but failing that, ending up where we did will likely satisfy most Canadians and that in the end is what matters.

Now, I'm sure the first screams will be, but you got nothing for EI. True, there is nothing immediate for those who are struggling right now and I think that is a shame, but nor would there have been had we gone to an election.

Will the panel produce anything? I guess none of us really know but you have to admit that by Harper conceding that there is inequity in the system after having Diane Finley rise in the House, day after day, and say they had done enough and everything was rosy, is something. All I really mean by that is, you can be damn sure that there would have been no movement on that file without Liberal intervention. The proof however will be in the pudding. One advantage here is that the government will have to open the books on this file and that can only be good for the Liberals.

As to the other areas, it's really just more of the same. The stimulus money will flow, albeit not as quickly as the government had promised it would and we'll go through the summer watching announcements, but it will be important to watch the recipients and their reaction as time moves forward.

The arcane detail of getting a fixed opposition day will have no relevance to Canadians at large, but it does prevent the manipulation of those days by the government and under the right circumstances, that could mean a great deal to us come September.

I've also read that Ignatieff looks diminished by this. Well, I think that's an inside the Queensway talking point right now to be honest. If Canadians by and large were not looking for an election, he won't be diminished in their eyes, in fact, he may well have grown in stature for some.

In the end, we won't really know the success of this strategy until the Fall. The Summer may present some interesting situations, but for the most part I think you'll see lots of fundraising and many occasions where Ignatieff can present himself as someone who is doing what he feels is best for the country. It's important to remember how the media played all of this and where they directed the conversation. That is, what a potential mistake a summer election would be. Personally, I didn't see or hear one clip of Mr/Mrs Citizen saying they wanted an election. Of course, no one asked me!

Again today, some media is playing the opposite game, as I pointed out in an earlier post, taking whatever position is the most sensational.

I have to say that the NDP look really pathetic in all of this. My gawd, Mulcair sounded ridiculous in all of the clips I heard of him. They seem not to be players anymore at all, sort of kicked to the sidelines. By excluding them from any of the talks and the panel, they look like the tiny party in the background. With apologies to my NDP friends, I have to confess that I feel as though it serves them right at this point.

So, to those who were looking forward to a quiet summer, enjoy! Personally I'm going to have to come up with something that will keep me calm until the Fall.

The Globe Has Mail

A letter writer with a sense of humour:

Our leadership, Who art in Parliament,

Harper be Thy Name.

Thy Dysfunction come.

Thy should be done, in Ottawa as it is in Calgary,

Give us this day our daily insult.

And forgive us, Tommy D., as we forgive those who work against us.

And lead us not into overtaxation, but deliver us from Tory evil.

For thine is the system, and the perceived power, and the goofy,

for ever and ever.


William Perry
Victoria — Globe and Mail, Wednesday, Jun. 17, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mr. Speaker, Nothing Could be Further From the Truth

Do you know what frustrates me the most about what is going on inside the bubble called Ottawa? The consistent lying.

It comes in varying degrees, but there can be no argument that this government and the Conservative party, has taken the act of lying to a new art form.

Yes, all parties spin and show themselves in a good light, but the Conservatives go so far beyond that and I'm seriously perplexed as to how they get away with it.

I know that most 'normal' people don't follow this stuff, but that is the real tragedy, because the bits and bites they do hear are often untrue. I'm becoming more and more convinced that a segment of the media...not all, act as nothing more than a conduit to whatever message suits them. Conduits of information are a good thing. Conduits of misinformation make the country dumb.

What the government is saying about funding stopping should an election arise, is patently false, yet tonight, I heard Tom Clark, CTV, say that it's not black and white.

I do not ascribe bias here, at least not in the conventional sense. Bias toward their own agenda can't be ignored though. Profits, circulation, market place dominance...name it.

Take what's happening in Ottawa now. Ignatieff came out yesterday, after reading the update, and said it didn't address many things, but specifically, he had 4 issues. The press reacted with dispatch and reported that Ignatieff had put the government on notice and he wanted answers. Good. The conduit transmitted an actual event accurately. Throughout the day though, that shifted. Why?

Did Ignatieff change anything that he had said in the morning when he spoke throughout the day? No. (Read the transcripts or watch the interviews to be sure.) But to read the press yesterday afternoon and today, you would think the guy had completely reversed himself.

I saw panels, heard shows and honestly, to suddenly see Ignatieff and the Liberals being lambasted is farcical. Is anyone watching the government? Is anyone listening to the ludicrous claims...election lies lines in the making...coming from them?

Gawd, I also heard Tom Clark tonight ask McCallum for his plan to reduce the deficit! Huh? The Conservatives offer no plan so the onus is on the Liberals, with no access to the current fiscal position of the country, to come up with a plan?

I don't know what is going on right now, but it seems that the government and Ignatieff will meet again tomorrow. Obviously, they are making progress. What that means is any one's guess.

I would still like to take this government down, but I guess if Ignatieff gets some answers, that was his mission at the outset and so be it.

What I don't want to see is any more, 'further from the truth' reporting. We get it. You want to go on vacation. Geesh, some of you even commented that you had cottages rented and that would be messed up! The horror! Small comfort to those who were just laid off and can't get EI, but hey...don't let them upset your deposit.

No melodrama intended here, but as we watch what is going on in Iran, is is too much to expect that in this country, we would have a fair and accurate accounting of events?

Update, fwiw - The latest.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Stepping Back a Bit

Well, if it was nothing else, it was an interesting day for political junkies.

I've already top noted what Ignatieff said this morning. Harper responded somewhere between stepping back and appearing amenable to dialogue, but I rarely take his words at face value, so we shall see.

Beyond all the obvious though, I wanted to try to take a cursory look at the subtleties of both men and their positions.

The toughest bit to answer though is, do they both want an election, or do they both not want an election?

Why would Harper want one?

The only thing I can come up with is to demonize his opponent to the point that he is no longer a threat. He may think he can do that, but I doubt he's that unequivocal.

Why would he not want one?

Well, to stay in power is a given. To maintain control and get his ducks in a row for the inevitable. To gain time to sell Canadians. To avoid being accountable. To ensure that his plan is implemented. To provide further time to implement more Conservative policy. To perhaps see the economy improve and take credit for that. There's more I'm sure.

Why would Ignatieff want one?

To begin with I suppose it would be to put some distance between himself and the Dion (necessary) strategy. To show that he doesn't make idle threats, is a different kind of leader, etc. Not to be ignored are the poll numbers that show that he and the party have momentum and now may be their best bet to change government and set the country on it's proper axis again. (Yea, that was meant to raise hackles.) There is a genuine concern that the fiscal outlook for the country is in tatters.

Why would he not want one?

If the party was not prepared yet to fight as they would like to, it would be imprudent. That includes nominations, money and the ability to respond to attacks. He too has his eye on the economy. Cynics would say that he doesn't want it to improve, but that's base politics. Those same cynics claim that he's not a politician, but rather an arrogant academic or some such. The facts are, anyone rooting for further decline in the economy doesn't deserve to be leader and the party would tell him so. He may genuinely feel that by going to an election he'll not help the economy.

Those are some reasons, but as I listened to Ignatieff on Politics and reviewed some of what he said this morning, I sense that his decision lies in the fiscal realm. Remember, anything he agrees to now, he'll likely inherit. The problem is, for whatever reason, Harper has gotten away with telling us nothing. We really don't know what the fiscal capacity of the country is, because the numbers haven't been put out for all to see. We know Flaherty is the master at this game. So I think there is a real concern as to where we are as a country and all of his questions point to that.

EI? The clarity he wants has to do with what the fiscal framework will support. So, he needs to see the numbers. The paying down of the deficit? Well, that requires a look at where we stand now and what revenue vs expenditure is projected for the next 5 years. The stimulus? Well that's the obvious one.

In any event, I suspect that this is going to be an eventful week.

Harper says he's happy (cough) to meet with Ignatieff...over the summer. Ignatieff said, sooner is better...as in tomorrow.

Stay tuned...

Update - Good post here by Ottlib

Ignatieff Says...

This is the ball travelling directly to Harper's court as a result of Ignatieff's presser this morning.

While some are trying to portray Ignatieff's comments as unclear, the truth is that he laid out 4 points for Harper that he wants answers on. Those answers will determine his actions re' the vote on Friday.

1. Harper indicated that there would be changes to EI in the Fall. Ignatieff wants the details associated with those changes and an explanation as to why the Lib proposal is not feasible. In other words, the Con's will have to provide a fiscal argument, forcing some accountability.

2. The report provided no detail re'spending stimulus. He wants details.

3. Given that the Conservatives brought us to the brink of deficit long before the recession hit, Ignatieff is asking for a clear fiscal accounting. He wants to see a plan to get the country out of deficit.

4. The isotope crisis is a pressing one. The government has skirted (no pun intended) the issue thus far. Ignatieff wants a plan as to where Canada is going to get it's supply from.

Ignatieff has played this perfectly and it's now up to Harper. We'll hear his reply in QP apparently.

I imagine that Harper despises being put in this position. He's damned if complies and responsible for an election if he doesn't.

As a last note, Ignatieff did well to point out, on more than one occasion, just how uncooperative Harper and the government have been to date. No contact from the PM or his office since January? That's not a sign of a government willing to play with others. Nor is it a sign of a government concerned for the country. Highlighting that fact will shine the spotlight on Harper a little more brightly this afternoon.

BTW, for those who missed it...Ignatieff said that ALL MP's will be in the House and be required to vote on Friday.

Call 1-800....A Gov't Near You

From - BCer in Toronto

Saturday, June 13, 2009

And the Pundits Predict...

It's always interesting to read opinion pieces isn't it? Given all the election talk, there is no shortage of opinion out there today.

I can't say that I've read too much in favour of calling an election now, but there are varying opinions as to why we shouldn't.

Some are rallying behind Harper and chirping his 'tough talk' and others are taking a more measured view. Yet others are reading polls and tea leaves and basing their opinion on the odds.

At this moment, I happen to think it is a good time to go. I know there are scores of reasons not to.

- Polls suggesting Canadians don't want an election
- Harper will play up Liberal opportunism
- Summer is a tough time to engage people/potential for backlash
- Coffers aren't as full as we'd like

There are more I suppose, but when I look at these, the ones most commonly cited, they still don't outweigh the reasons why I think we should go.

The first objection is ridiculous. No one ever says they want an election, which is sad when watching Iran today, but turn the question to, do we need one? The Conservatives would obviously say no because everything is just going along tickity-boo according to tax dollar funded infomercial we saw on Thursday. But, if the need question is then framed in a way that presents a clear alternative, the answer could very well be yes, on both sides.

Things aren't all peaches and cream as it relates to the economy. If you can tell whether the money is actually flowing from that carefully crafted propoganda brochure we saw after the infomercial, well, I suspect you are seeing what you want.

So, that is the premise on which we have said we'd go to the polls and the spin at this point is,

- 80% of the money is flowing
- the money would stop
- we're better than everyone else in the world
- Ignatieff is only in it for the power
- the Liberals are being opportunistic

Is that money flowing? There is no evidence that it is and what's more difficult to determine is precisely how much has been specifically allocated. In simple terms; if an invoice were to come in today, would it be paid?

You see, that the money would stop is a canard. The main estimates have passed and now I think we are waiting on the supply motion. Of the main estimates, how much has been allocated? All of that could still flow, by means of special warrants. Stopping the flow of money could in fact lie in the hands of the Conservatives...but I need more info on that.

As for political opportunism and Ignatieff only seeking power, I say yes to both, because I don't necessarily restrict their inference to being negative.

Using opportunity to gain power is not unique to the Liberals, nor just political parties, obviously. Isn't that how everything in life operates? When an opportunity presents itself, you evaluate whether or not it is beneficial? And, seeking power isn't necessarily crass. It's necessary to hold power in order to implement change and that certainly is what we need.

The reasons why we need a new government? They are numerous. I know many say it is difficult to distinguish between the two parties and as ridiculous as that concept is to me, it may be one of best reasons to go.

Having had to support the government and cite our dissent has been necessary up to this time. Anyone who believes we should have pulled the plug earlier, isn't thinking. This time, yes based on some of the polling, people are paying attention and they see the Liberals as a viable alternative. I think it's time to take that sentiment and provide reasons for the change.

The Conservatives really have a miserable record as it relates to what people in this country care about. To name a few:

Human Rights, the protection of Canadian citizens, the environment, the economy, food safety, immigration, progressive law and order, nuclear safety, heritage, culture, Canadian institutions, foreign affairs and our reputation, equality (Status of Women), drug treatment, meaningful research and technology/science funding, real transparency, respect for the rule of law...

Crafting how the Conservatives have failed us and demonstrating how the Liberals would change things in a 30 second sound bite is no easy task....but it's not impossible.

When I see something like this, in addition to the rest of their 'hang 'em high' law and order agenda, I can't help but see opportunism in it's most negative sense being employed. It's time to put a stop to the abuse.

All of that said, if we decide to go, as I hope we do, it's still quite possible that the NDP will strike a deal with Harper. Gawd knows Layton has done it before and I'm sure I read somewhere today that he's still thinking about it.

With that in the shadows, it's still a win/win for the Lib's. It's time to break the mold, no matter the outcome.

Worth a gander : Rex, opinion, Chretien, Spector, Ivison

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Yet Another Sad Show Today

I was able to catch some of the Natural Resources Committee meeting today. The show in Cambridge was one thing, but this was really something else.

The witnesses were not showpieces, nor were the questions from all opposition members scripted. The tone and tenor from the government however, was more than disturbing.

I should note that every single meeting I've had a chance to look in on this week has been the same. The government is completely unabashed in attacking witnesses. You'd think they were nervous or something.

Anyway, today we learned that the government hasn't been truthful. Now, I know it's a shock to read those words, but here we go.

A brand-new backup nuclear reactor at Chalk River, Ont. produced enough medical isotopes during some test runs to supply the needs of every Canadian hospital and clinic, a parliamentary committee was told Thursday, putting a dent in one argument the Conservatives have been using to defend their decision last spring to mothball that backup plan.

The revelation that the MAPLE reactors at Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.'s Chalk River Laboratory did indeed produce the isotope Moly-99, the key ingredient used in pharmaceutical radioisotopes, came on the same day doctors in Quebec said as many as 12,000 patients there have had their cancer and cardiac tests put off because of a shortage of those isotopes.

Now, consider what we've heard from the government from the time they fired Linda Keen, to shutting down the MAPLE reactors, to the recent bumblings from Raitt.

While it's true that AECL was not yet able to prove that the MAPLE reactors could be safely operated in emergency conditions, it is not true that they were incapable of and indeed did, produce isotopes.

But AECL could never prove to Canada's nuclear safety regulator that the MAPLEs could be operated safely in emergency conditions and so, last spring, AECL pulled the plug on their development with the backing of the government. Ever since, AECL executives and senior members of the government have justified this decision by saying the MAPLEs never produced an isotope.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper repeated that defence of the government's decision, saying, "after hundreds of millions of dollars and years and years of investment, not a single isotope had been created and the expert assessment we received was that there was no realistic reason to believe there would be any isotope production for years and years to come, if ever. So it was not a viable project."

I'm not sure. Have we ever had a PM that actually never seems to speak the truth?

But Jill Chitra, a vice-president and professional engineer at MDS Nordion told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources that is incorrect.

"From 2000 to 2008, the MAPLE reactors ran numerous times at various power levels, up to 80 per cent power," Chitra said. "(Isotope) targets were inserted in the reactor for a number of those tests. When targets are inserted in the reactor and it operates at power, isotopes — Moly-99 — is created."

Chitra said that the targets were simply not processed or harvested.
"Those targets could have been removed and processed and you'd have had medical isotopes for sale," Chitra said. "It's one of the reasons we think MAPLE has potential."

Yes, yes, I know. MDS Nordion is in the business of making money from this process, but hey, I thought the Conservatives were all about the free market! Not so much apparently, because the government side of the Committee room was rife with recrimination on this subject. Literally accusing the spokespeople of only being there to protect their business and profit margin. Thankfully there was an independent defender to the claims.

Chitra's testimony that the MAPLEs had produced isotopes was backed up at the committee by an independent expert, John Waddington. He served on the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the safety regulator, until 2000. Waddington is not connected with AECL or MDS Nordion.

The government's, sorry, I should say, the Conservative party's agenda is pretty clear here, but they are playing with lives now.

I suppose they always have been, but surely none of us thought it would become so literal.

Oh What a Show!

I'm still gobsmacked at what our supposed PM, overseer of all the land and all it's people, attempted to pull off today.

Thankfully, I've not read or heard one positive review. Clarity seems to have overcome those who sometimes have a tendency to consume what they are served.

Beyond the B-grade theatrics of it all, the content was absolutely appalling. Rah, rah, pep talk is not what I expect to hear from a PM on an economic update. Harper hit the notes his people wanted him to hit, but good grief, not one concrete fact came from that presser. I half expected to see chorus girls in the background, echoing his punch applause lines.

I haven't gone through the document yet, well, at least not in full.

I hope Harper supporters were happy with this tacky display. How Duffy even shows his face to the media in this country is beyond me. He's every bit the hack we always knew he was.

Oh, if the questioners after the networks cut out weren't being paid, they should have been. It was live streamed and it was infomercial at it's finest/worse, depending on your perspective.

"Mr. Prime Minister, my husband and I are thinking of renovating our home...." Aack! You think self directed questions in QP are bad?

So, where are we? Well, we have to wait and see. The NDP and Bloc, who have nothing, to lose of course, didn't even read the update. They just came out in their typical fashion and said they would not support the document.

Ignatieff will read it and then decide. So we wait.

CBSC:CTV Mike Duffy Live violated CAB Code of Ethics

And because we know that Harper doesn't believe in having a code of ethics, it's absolutely fitting that he should be (cough) interviewed by this disgraced former host of the worse political show Canada had to offer.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to present a rosy picture of his Conservative government's handling of the recession Thursday in a slick made-for-TV presentation designed to forestall a quick summer election.

Nothing like democracy at work huh? Slick? Ugh. How about sleazy, slimy, shifty, sly....

No reporting to the people in the people's House. No sirree, that would be just so...so, accountable. It would be so...oh I don't know, exactly what you would expect the government to do, rather than a political party that after 3 years still doesn't get that they are meant to represent all of us!

The funniest part to me is that Duffy is doing a 'mock' interview. This is new(s) somehow?

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The 'I' in Apologise

Today's apology has been written about by many. I too have a comment, but would like to take it a step further.

The apology was forced. That much was evident by the PMO gang standing over her as it was made. Fair enough. That's not the first time that's happened, but to me it's telling as it relates to this Minister.

Don't get me wrong. I think the emotion she displayed when referring to her personal experience was genuine, but that was the part of the apology that was completely superfluous. Oh, I have no doubt that the brain trust that forced the apology felt it would add empathy, but on the contrary, it made it, once again, all about her. I suspect she may even resent having had to bring it up.

That said, if you step back a bit and consider the new bit of tape that has come out, Raitt has a singular focus and that is Raitt.

Of course it could be argued that everyone, MP or otherwise, is concerned with career advancement, but if you listen to this woman and apparently there is 5 hours worth of her talking, what is evident thus far is, no matter the issue, it's all about her.

There is a sophomoric quality to her conversations and while based on some of my posts concerning this government you might consider that an upgrade. I don't. This is her, unplugged. Not playing to the camera, not participating in the antics of QP, just the person elected to put her constituents first and to consider the big picture, the country, as it relates to her portfolio.

Some may argue that she is not unique in this regard. Maybe, but she's the one that's been exposed and when you consider the tone of the government as a whole, I remain convinced that she is but an example of a bigger picture. We know that Harper incites division in the House, in the country and Raitt's comments lend credence to the fact that the feeling of 'get while the gettin is good' is also alive and well within the party.

I read a column this morning that dripped with contempt. Not directed at the Minister, but at anyone who would dare declare that they don't conduct themselves in private differently than they do in public.

I suppose there is an element of truth to that, but in the main, I and many people I know are pretty much the same no matter the environs.

I later heard this same reporter on the radio. Ironically, she loves to throw around the term, sanctimonious, while simultaneously judging the character of all beings by her standards. She literally screeched about the bloody Liberals and their supposed perpetual desire for power, while defending Raitt's so called 'normal', um...desire for power. It was bizarre. She finished her screed by saying something as profound as: 'if you want to get remotely human being types in the public service...'

Really? Is the bar really set that low now? Is it time to set aside the desire for vision, moral character, leadership and a sense of duty?

I'm not suggesting that every Liberal is lily white and possesses the aforementioned traits. I am suggesting that the Conservative party has set and given voice to a new standard in this country though and it's very low indeed. It's one that some seem willing to latch on to and we are poorer for it. Raitt however may have played a part in awakening those who expect better.

She may have achieved her coveted notoriety in a way that she never imagined. She may have been the icing on the cake that drew the attention and the cameras, without realising that the heat they would generate would not only melt said icing, but cause the cake to collapse as well.

Wait and See

The story this morning of Bob Rae being turned away in Sri Lanka, is really disturbing.

Whether you are fan of Rae's or not, there can be no doubt that he is one of the foremost experts on international affairs and on this specific issue, he has been passionately engaged.

While I've met and chatted with Rae a few times, I certainly have never discussed Sri Lanka with him, but I have listened to him speak on the subject. He has always expressed a neutral view with a vocal concern for civilians innocently caught in the conflict and of course a push to see an end to the violence. He has spoken out against the LTTE and is on record as having done so.

I don't know what's happened here, but I eagerly await the response of our government.

My hope is that they will speak out loudly and forcefully against this ouster from the country. Rae applied for and was issued a Visa before leaving the country, so it seems incredibly suspicious that he would be turned away upon arrival.

Nothing short of a condemnation of this action from the government of Canada, is acceptable.

Update - Here

Monday, June 08, 2009

Just Some Thoughts

I don't imagine that any one of you reading this blog haven't had cancer touch you or your family, extended or near. Maybe it wasn't cancer, maybe it was heart disease.

In my case, it was both and it was my mother.

Now this story isn't about me obviously and my mother is gone now, but I can empathize with those who are currently facing this in their lives. Nor should this story be played in such a way as to use those individuals as pawns...but it's bloody personal isn't it? When a Minister of the Crown actually see's this as something that will further her career...?

Mind you, I recall Gerry Ritz thinking that life and death was a joking matter too.

I am certain that the PMO and every staffer available will be burning the midnight oil tonight, trying mightily to get a through line, a story, to justify all of this, but imo, it can't be done.

Raitt, in spite of Teneycke's earlier comments has to resign and to be honest, I'm not quite sure where the Health Minister stands. You know, last week she came out with a real partisan punch, which was totally out of character. I cringed at the time, for her, not for the Lib's. It struck me that she had been put up to it. Maybe I was right, based on what we now know.

Two more quick thoughts.

L. Ian MacDonald, is the most unctuous opinion guy that I have ever read. He creeps me out at the best of times, but this one, (as a good friend pointed out), must be killing him.

Finally, on top of all that Raitt has wrought, (that's catchy) I think she messed up big time today in QP. Dosanjh asked a question and she slipped a bit. (From closed captioning)

Hon. Ujjal dosanjh (l): Mr. Speaker, the minister states that the dutch or the australians or the belgians will make up the isotope shortage across the world. Is there any guarantee that any of those isotopes will end up in canada? Can the government offer a guarantee to this house that any isotopes from any of those three countries will ever be guaranteed to come into canada?

The speaker: The honourable minister of natural resources. Order!>> Hon. Lisa raitt (c): As the member points out, there is a difference between the medical isotopes being produce at a reactor and those -- to the end of the line with respect to the medical establishment, and indeed, mR. Speaker, we are working not only with the reactors but we're working with those companies in the united states, having had a very important and a very successful meeting in the united states on friday. We're collaborating. We're working together to deal with this on a continental basis

You see, the government keeps pushing the fact that other reactors will be running, contrary to what the opposition is saying. What's being neglected in those talking points, is whether or not the reactors will be a)producing medical isotopes and b) if they will be for international consumption. The thought at the moment is that medical isotopes will be in short supply, so the price will be jacked and the US will pay the price and strip the market.

Incompetence doesn't begin to cover it when it comes to this government.

Any Conservative, PM, Minister, party member, blogger or troll, who stands by this, further debases their party, such that it is.

Steve Maher, in his own words.

Isotope crisis 'sexy' ??

If you've held yourself back today, be prepared to be disgusted by this Minister, the one that Harper thought should be kept in place.

As they drive around Victoria, chatting with their driver, Ms. Raitt and Ms. MacDonnell discuss their unsuccessful efforts to get Ms. Aglukkaq to contribute a quote to a news release on the isotope crisis.
They’re terrified of the issues,” said Ms. Raitt.
“You know what? Good. Because when we win on this, we get all the credit. I’m ready to roll the dice on this. This is an easy one. You know what solves this problem? Money. And if it’s just about money, we’ll figure it out. It’s not a moral issue.”

Ms. MacDonnell said the isotope issue is hard to control, “because it’s confusing to a lot of people.”“But it’s sexy,” says Ms. Raitt. “Radioactive leaks. Cancer.”
“Nuclear contamination,” says Ms. MacDonnell.
“But it’s only about money,” say Ms. Raitt.

The article is here.

I'll have more to say later.


The Prime Minister's Office has reviewed transcripts of an as-yet unpublished audiotape that the Opposition says is fatal to Raitt's political career, confirmed Harper's communications director Kory Teneycke.
Asked if it is fair to conclude that Raitt still has the prime minister's confidence, Teneycke said in an email reply "That would be accurate."

Libel Chill? Again?

It seems that Mr. Harper has more tape difficulty.

Allnovascotia.comBy David BentleyJune 8, 2009

There`s a highly embarrassing sequel to last week's Ottawa hullabalooover cabinet Minister Lisa Raitt's misplaced nuclear-sensitivedocuments - and the Harper government is pulling out all the stops to prevent The Halifax Herald from telling it.

The newspaper will be in court in Halifax today to defend against anapplication for an injunction to muzzle information gathered by Hill reporter Steve Maher.

Allnovascotia.com understands Maher listened to a tape that was recorded by Jasmine MacDonnell, the Nova Scotian who resigned as Raitt's press secretary after Atomic Energy of Canada documents wereleft at the bureau of CTV - which broke the story last week. Opposition members like Halifax West MP, Geoff Regan, said Raitt herself should have resigned pointing out that's what External Affairs Minister, Maxine Bernier, did after sensitive papers were left at theapartment of his biker chick girlfriend, Julie Coulliard.

Stephen Harper & Co apparently believe Raitt's political future could be seriously in doubt if the Herald publishes what was on the Jasmine MacDonnell tape.

According to one unconfirmed report*, the federal Minister of Natural Resources was recorded making some less than flattering comments abouther cabinet colleague, Leona Aglukkaq, the fed Health Minister who entered parliament for the first time last year as the MP for Nunavut.

Allnovascotia.com understands that the Herald will be confronted incourt by lawyers representing MacDonnell. But sources suggest that Harperites are plotting the strategy. There`s a suggestion that the way the Herald obtained the tape will even be characterized as a breach of criminal code. The paper is expected to respond with a Charter argument, declaring that nothing less than freedom of the press is at stake.

The Raitt Affair already features a couple of Nova Scotians - and now that reporter, Steve Maher, has been drawn in, that makes a third. Raitt is originally from Cape Breton, according to the Toronto Star,though she has a master degree in chemistry from Guelph and a lawdegree from Osgood Hall. She lives in Oakville with comedy writer, David Raitt, and was previously CEO of the Toronto Port Authority.Jasmine MacDonnell is 26 and the daughter of Ralston MacDonnell, thewell-known engineering entrepreneur.

*Allnovascotia.com decided not to conventionally source this report,after considering what has happened to the Halifax Herald. The newspaper was apparently minutes away from publishing its story last week, when legal chill intervened.

Since that broke, Tonda McCharles of the Toronto Star is reporting that they are also trying to suppress the applicant.

An emergency hearing has been set for 2 p.m. during which Justice Gerald Moir will hear the injunction motion by an as-yet unnamed applicant who also seeking an order of confidentiality or publication ban. Such an order could block any publication of the identity of the applicant seeking to stop the newspaper from publishing, said spokesman John Piccolo.

Ooops, too late?

You'd think the brain trust behind Harper would realise that trying to hide stories is bigger news than the story itself.

It's just so, um, Nixonian?

Update - Those who are noticing:

David Aikin - here

Susan Delacourt - here

Gloria Galloway - here

CBC - here

She, McDonnell, left the tape in a washroom?

Follow Kady until my next post.