Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Expectations are funny things aren't they? More often than not they aren't based in fact, but rather developed by individuals to suit their own agenda.

I bring this up, because having read editorials, articles, blogs and tweets over the past few days, primarily by people who did not attend the thinkers conference, I noted that many claim it did not meet expectations. The unmet expectations they cite are their own and were never articulated by the Liberal party, but apparently that is unimportant.

That said, I can say that I went to the conference without expectations. I had a general idea of the agenda from going to the site and I knew that the exercise was not meant to result in policy, but beyond that I was open to whatever came.

Overall, I found the conference fascinating. It was a chance to hear discussions and debate on a range of issues that interest me and affect the country. It's no secret that I follow such issues as a matter of course, but to have so many convened in one place was a bit of a luxury. Was every panel riveting and every speech a barn burner? No, but on the whole the conference was a thoughtful, meaningful exercise that looked at issues that I think all Canadians should be engaged in or aware of. It was not limited to L/liberals and indeed there was criticism of the party on a number of fronts.

As one example of the kind of nonsense being written today, I read Wente's column in the Globe and burst out laughing. How one person can get so much, so wrong, is a mystery to me, but she seems to excel at it. She quotes Conservative talking points and bases her ridiculous assertions on a poll commissioned by the Manning Institute. What an objective way to approach what happened at the conference, don't you think?

After most of her ink is spilled bashing Ignatieff and the Liberals, she closes with this gem:

Meantime, Mr. Harper is steadily shrinking the role of federal government, beneath the radar, without debate. He is quietly transforming Canada into a more private, more regional, more entrepreneurial country, with more prisons, less shared purpose, and health care that is fragmenting into many different variations. We really ought to talk about this. But Mr. Harper isn't about to bring it up. And Mr. Ignatieff has no alternative to offer.

She is absolutely correct about what Harper is doing, but her last three sentences, especially, we really ought to talk about this? Seriously? The woman defines obtuse.

Anyway, she was not alone today in making ridiculous points. Numerous editorials chimed in, both missing the point of the conference while demeaning the very idea of holding a such a gathering. In other words, the people who share their opinion with this nation, seem to think it's wrong to debate the challenges we face in the country. They appear to be taking the stance that thinking is bad.

I find that remarkable to be honest. Some of these people are big thinker's themselves, yet their columns today are devoid of fact and/or reason.

To what end?

Well, I suppose they have to justify their widely touted and now proven erroneous expectations that they proudly spouted prior to the conference.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Thoughts on the Thinkers

While there has been more than one success here at the conference, what stands out at the moment for me is the interaction that the Can150 site is driving.
I think the organisers did a terrific job of putting that feature together and if you are someone who has been following the conference on line, or just checking in on Twitter, it's clear that many across the country are engaged.
Sure, many of those people are Liberals, but it's clear that not all are.
When the conference opened, at a presser, Michael Ignatieff said the purpose of the conference was to put the ideas that were about to come in the window for Canadians. He mentioned opening the doors, doing things differently, and encouraging participation. The objective was to talk about ideas for the country out in the open and not behind closed doors.
That I think has been accomplished in a way that will necessitate that more of this be done in the future. To me, it's one of those things that you cannot do just once, then fall back to business as usual.
I'm not suggesting an elaborate conference every couple of months, but I think it is important to maintain this open ongoing dialogue with the country.
I have heard many people here say that's it's time for an adult conversation in this country, about the issues of our time.
No one was so crass as to suggest that due to the current government, this has been missing since 2006, but I won't stand on such ceremony.
Since coming to power, the Conservative party has made it a mission to dumb down the conversation. This conference tells me that people are less pleased with that than they, (the Conservatives) may think.
Personally, it's been a breath of fresh air to sit at the adult table for the past couple of days. I get to have wine, instead of whine.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I'm off to Montreal for the Can 150 conference.

I hope to have some interesting things to report back. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in Comments.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Terms of Reference or Terms of Endearment?

The federal Justice Minister, Rob Nicholson, released the Terms of Reference today for former justice, Frank Iacobucci.

What? Perfectly normal to release this information on a Saturday isn't it? I mean, just because the opposition has been asking for it all week and the government refused to answer any questions on it....

No matter, the issue will still be around on Monday.

In the meantime though, as you go through the ToR, it is pretty clear that the government has gone to great lengths to employ yet another stall tactic and not much more. Granted, this investigation by Iacobucci may yield more than the government is prepared for, the narrow mandate he is being given doesn't really address the core issue as raised by Derek Lee, and that is the supremacy of Parliament.

In the Terms of Reference (Backgrounder), the government acknowledges the motion adopted by the House, but dismisses it right off the bat:

Whereas the House of Commons has adopted a motion, on December 10, 2009, ordering the production of Government documents related to the transfer of Afghan detainees from the Canadian Forces to Afghan authorities, which contain information the disclosure of which would be injurious to national defence, international relations or national security if publicly released;

So, they are ignoring the will of the House and suggesting that a third party make the determination instead. While I understand that former justice Iacobucci has an impressive record, this is not how our system works.

Frankly, it would be interesting to get Iacobucci's opinion on that particular matter, but he is not allowed to speak according to the ToR.

Additionally, the government is completely ignoring the premise on which the opposition parties and Derek Lee in particular, has made their claims. No, the government adopt their own criteria in the matter. Specifically:

“As I stated in the House of Commons, the government acknowledges that it is appropriate that decisions on the disclosure of information in these circumstances be reviewed in an independent manner,” stated Minister Nicholson. “This will ensure that parliamentarians will have access to the relevant government information on the arrangements for the transfer of detainees in Afghanistan while ensuring there is no injury to Canada's national defence, international relations or national security.”

I'm fairly certain that the opposition parties will not be satisfied with this, nor in my view, should they be. The government is blatantly flouting the will of Parliament and that is not only a serious matter, it is one that could conceivably push us into a constitutional crisis.

The government's flagrant disregard of our system must be called out and I firmly hope that Lib MP, Derek Lee will do just that when the House sits next week.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Remember, Buy and Spread the Word

"Waving Flag" - Young Artists for Haiti

Go to iTunes or your favourite site, buy the song and encourage your friends to do the same. ALL proceeds go to Haiti.

Friday, March 05, 2010


By now you've undoubtedly seen what our, too clever by half, Minister of Justice has decided to do as it relates to the documents surrounding the handling of Afghan detainees.

After months of first dismissing the whole issue as partisan politics by the opposition, followed by months of reassuring all and sundry that they had complied with the demands, (saying that as recently as yesterday by the way), what really stands out about this move is their tacit admission that indeed, the request has not been complied with.

It's clear to me that this is yet another stall tactic, as it was pretty clear that Derek Lee was going to take action, that the government wasn't looking forward to. It was widely speculated that Lee was going to rise in the House either today or next week. Nicholson appears to have rushed to beat him to the punch. I say rushed, because he had no details to what he wants Iacobucci to do exactly. No terms of reference were available for the opposition to review.

Obviously the terms of reference are critical here, both in terms of what conclusions Iacobucci can reach and in what they say about the government.

This is one to watch. If the issue of parliamentary privilege are not raised in the terms of reference, I suspect Mr. Lee will not be deterred.

Update - After watching some of the political shows tonight, it's clear to me that media aren't even close to understanding what the Iacobucci appointment means. They seem to think it should pacify the opposition. Afterall, they say, the parliament now has a chance of seeing documents, should Iacobucci rule that way.

No. Nicholson appears to have engaged him to report to the government, not the parliament, and lest we forget (no, I can't work the word doth in here), that simply brings us full circle to the government making the call. Ridiculous.

Media, I beg you. Expose the nonsense.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Throne Speech Anthem Change

Sorry, their suggestion was no better.