Monday, January 15, 2007

The Dion Haters Handbook

Originally posted at A BCer in Toronto

Over on his blog so-called Conservative Olaf has published the Harper-Haters Handbook. We’ll need to track down the source of this leak, but in the mean time coincidently I’ve come into possession of a copy of the CPC’s Dion-Haters Handbook.

The first thing I noticed is it’s a much slimmer volume than the anti-Harper text. But then again, that’s not surprising. Conservatives have always decried bureaucratic red tape and besides, it’s much harder to find things to hate about Stephane Dion. Because, really, what’s not to love?

Anyway, the flyer is broken down into two sections: Anti-Liberal in general, and Anti-Dion specifically:

How to Debate the Liberals Without Having to Think Too Hard or Resort to Facts

Written only by Stephen Harper, with absolutely no help from anyone
Conservative Party Press

Fighting the Liberals

Whenever responding to the Liberals or writing an attack of your own, the language you use is very important. For example, never use the word Liberal. While Liberano is still an acceptable substitute, Fiberal is now preferred.
No matter what the topic, be it child care funding or national defence, be sure to include a reference to the sponsorship scandal.

Whenever Conservatives are being called on a broken promise, just say it’s pragmatism and an example of The Leader’s superior political acumen. Then mention the sponsorship scandal.

Whenever you’re seriously on the ropes, being called on any negative action by the Conservatives, you can always fall back on The Liberals Did It Too defence. Just change the channel by mentioning some past Liberal scandal, real or imagined.

Fighting Dion

Much like the Fiberal rule, always refer to Dion as Citoyen Dion to remind people he committed the egregious sin of being born to a French mother. Resist Liberal attempts to rebrand him as Freedom Dion.

Remember, since he’s a Quebec MP he must have known something about sponsorship, despite all evidence to the contrary. And hey, you’re from Alberta? Do you know Frank? Tall guy, black hair?

Dion was environment minister for just over a year, that was plenty of time to fix all the so-called problems.

We’re still working on more attack lines, so in the mean time just make fun of his accent and/or ask if we want another PM from Quebec because hey, we’ve never gone wrong with that kind of thing before, now have we?

This message will self destruct in 30 seconds.

Liberal Team Dreaming

Originally posted at ChuckerCanuck

This week, Stephane Dion is set to name his shadow cabinet, a decisive six weeks since he became leader of the Liberal Party. Early indications are that Mr. Dion is following Jean Lapierre's advice to make the Liberal party as "virgin" as possible. As part of that re-flowering process, Mr. Dion will be setting Ralph Goodale to pasture on bench way up in parliament's bleachers. The price, they say, for Mr. Goodale's last minute conversion to the Bob Rae campaign. (Bad, bad Liberal).

Without folks like David Orchard and Bob Rae to form the truly Liberal Dream Team, Mr. Dion has more limited choice within his caucus to form a shadow cabinet. Here are some predictions and sure things for its ultimate make-up.

With a nod to his mentor, Jean Chretien, Stephane Dion will make Michael Ignatieff the finance critic. It is a poison chalice designed to eliminate Iggy as a threat to Leader Dion's authority. Iggy would flounder in fiscal projections and budget estimate, leaving the man begging for any other portfolio, like sport.

The only MP who supported Mr. Dion, Marlene Jennings, gets bumped up to prime time. She brings a Dionista's bombastic pugilism to the justice critic's role.

For his military genius, Ujjal Dosanjh keeps his defense critic portfolio. No credible alternative can be trusted on that soapbox to parrot the Dion line on Afghanistan.

Belinda Stronach will play a kind of uber-critic in the Dion lineup, focusing on Foreign Affairs & Women. The theory is the Foreign Affairs minister will be torn between Belinda and Condi.

Needless to say, Mr. Dion will keep the environment critic position for himself - the only person he trusts to do his good works.

Ken Dryden, the hockey legend with Fellini for a speechwriter, will nab the intergovernmental affairs role and riff on his "Big Canada" themes with anyone in a twenty foot radius, including his family, God have mercy on them.

Bill Graham slots in somewhere; John MacCallum never has to worry about working through happy hour again; Scott Brison gets trade or industry; Joe Volpe gets a long, cold stare while ELO's "If you leave" plays loudly in the background.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Harper-Haters Handbook, Vol. 1

Originally posted at Prairie Wrangler

As of today, Stephen Harper has been in office for nearly 1 year. Miraculously, there has been no popular revolt against his leadership. Even more worrisome, Harper has not fulfilled Martin's apocalyptical insinuations that Harper would enact legislation limiting abortion, declare martial law in cities, or destroy public health care. This makes our job more difficult, but not at all impossible. I thought it would be helpful for progressive elements to have a simple handbook, which, if utilized precisely as outlined, will provide a politically effective counter attack in every conceivable situation...

1) If Harper (or, indeed, any member of the CPC) does anything which can be even spuriously connected to the Bush administration, or the United States in general, it shall be rejected on these grounds alone. No critical analysis is necessary; merely connecting the two is more than sufficient. The calculation is elementary: Bush=Evil; Harper=Bush; therefor, Harper=Evil. Ignore the policy, make the point, smile in self-satisfaction, move on. Bonus points for each time the word "neo-conservative" is used, even if ignorantly misapplied.

2) If, however, Harper publicly opposes American policy, make no mention of the regretful incident. Or, if one feels compelled to comment, the move was merely a political ploy in an attempt to not seem like Bush's lackey, which Harper clearly is. In this way, actions which can seen as pro-Bush, and those that can't, can be criticized, covering all possible Bush related actions.

3) If a member of the CPC proposes a mistaken policy, that mistaken policy originated in Stephen Harper's brain and was dictated to underlings. If, however, a member of the CPC proposes a policy which does not seem fundamentally evil, it was made without the knowledge of Stephen Harper. For example, if a female Conservative MP proposes an investigation into the cause and effects of human trafficking in Canada, this should be assumed to be without Harper's knowledge or approval - otherwise, it may indicate to voters that perhaps Harper doesn't have a festering hatred for women outside of his immediate family, which is altogether unacceptable perception.

4) If rumours circulate that CPC members are "muzzled" by the PMO, jump all over this as indication that Harper is a control freak (if possible, compare him to some of the most ruthless authoritarian dictators throughout history). If, however, Harper doesn't muzzle even perpetually misbegotten members of caucus, it indicates that he is ignorant of or approves of their foolish statements. Again, all possible situations are covered.

5) If Harper seems in any way moderate or progressive, such as by reaching out to ethnic communities, or strengthening environmental legislation, it is merely an exercise in insincere political opportunism, and in no way indicates his true intentions. If, however, Harper proposes legislation which seems in any way discriminatory or conservative, it has nothing to do with pacifying his base or appealing to a certain section of voters, but instead is indication of deeply felt desire to marginalize those whose lifestyle he abhors (unless, of course, one may be a high profile member of his cabinet). Again: moderate policy= insincere political opportunism; conservative policy= immoral ideological rigidity. Either way, he's a jackass.

6) In defence of rule #5, Harper's history in the Reform party shall be brought up whenever possible; the fact that he left the party due to fundamental ideological tensions with the leader Preston Manning will not, of course, be mentioned. Liberals in particular must be cautious with this line of reasoning, for Stephane Dion was a member of a party which had its own share of scandals and monumental failures. This criticism, however can be easily deflected by reminding readers that Stephane was not the leader of the party, and thus cannot be held accountable in any way for that parties mistakes and failures. The fact that Harper was not leader of the Reform party shall be ignored.

7) If Harper seems in any way interesting in protecting human rights, don't lose hope, there is always a counter argument. For example, if Harper publicly rebukes the Chinese President for human rights abuses, it's political grandstanding and/or will harm trade. Or, if Harper seems interested in repealing laws which allowed council chiefs the prerogative to deny basic rights to women on reserves, it is again done for political expediency and/or in an attempt to violate aboriginal self-governing rights. Remember: Harper hates all rights which can't be singularly applied to rich, white, Canadian males, so just be creative, people.

8) If a foreign element criticizes Harper on economic issues, it is done not out of self interest, but out of a genuine altruism and care for the people of Canada. If a foreign element approves of a Harper policy, it is done out of self interest, because it's better for that foreign element than it is for Canadians. Get it, either way, Harper's a dick, and is more dedicated to the interests of those who can't vote for him, than those who can.

9) If a right wing think tank criticizes Harper, it is to be taken as gospel (say something like "even the right wing disagrees with him!"). If however, the same right wing think tank agrees with Harper, it's merely a sign that they're dishonest shills for the government in power (say something like "big shock!", or in Quebec, "quelle surprise!").

10) If Harper realizes he made a mistake, and changes his policy accordingly, he's a flip-flopping liar. If he fails to recognize an error, and sticks obstinately to a failed policy, he's a rigid, spiteful policy maker. Essentially, if Harper didn't accurately predict shifts in public opinion or the effect of external factors on policy areas, he's fucked, either way.

11) Harper bashing in every situation is a progressive badge of honour. The longer you can go without saying anything even slightly positive about anyone even vaguely associated with anyone who has ever called themselves any sort of conservative or themselves have indicated even the most reserved or qualified approval for anything Harper has ever done or thought or said, the more "progressive" you are.

The key is to suppress any individual or objective thought. Even if you agree with something Harper has done or has said, you must always find the angle where the action may not have been completely wrong, but the intentions surely were. The consistency of your criticisms is secondary to the fact that you criticize in all situations (eg. you can characterize Harper as both a flip-flopping political opportunist and an uncompromising ideologue, depending on the circumstances). Good luck and happy bashing!

Putting the CON in CONservative

Originally posted at A BCer in Toronto

With a judge ruling that the Conservative Party of Canada must pay up to $50,000 to a former candidate that agreed to step aside for a star candidate in Ottawa-South, it’s time to revisit whether or not Steve Harper lied to the Canadian people to help win the last election campaign.We’ll get to that in a moment. I’ve been blogging about the Allan Riddell saga since December of 2005, during the campaign.

See posts here, here, here and here. Riddell was seeking the Conservative nomination for Ottawa-South in an open nomination process, but then the party brass recruited sponsorship whistleblower Alan Cutler and wanted him to run there. What to do with Riddell? He was pressured to step aside, finally agreeing to bow out if the party agreed to pay the expenses he incurred winning the nomination.* The party brass agreed, Riddell bowed-out, Cutler ran and lost to Liberal David McGuinty.

An interesting aside on Cutler. Apparently the Conservatives also promised him compensation before he agreed to run for them if they won the election. Except this compensation would have come from the taxpayers. The Conservatives later denied that one too.

Anyway, after the election the party started to balk on paying Riddell and he went public with their little arrangement. At that point the CPC said Riddell was supposed to keep the shady arrangement secret; he violated that by going public. Riddell sued, the Conservatives kicked him out of the party, fought the case, and last week they lost. An arbitrator will come up with the exact amount the Conservatives owe Riddell, who still has lawsuits outstanding against Steve Harper and CPC president Don Plett for defamation.

CTV’s Dave Akin has lots of analysis on the ruling over at his blog, including links to the court ruling if you want the nitty gritty. It is truly a sorrid mess of politics at its worse that proves once again beyond a doubt that all the Conservative chest-thumping about accountability and cleaning up politics was a big load of crap.

Akin also hits on the larger issue here, if only briefly and rather belatedly. That’s the fact that Conservative Party officials admitted during the case that they had indeed made a deal with Riddell. That wasn’t at issue. The CPC contended by going public Riddell had invalidated the deal, that’s what the court case was about; the judge said they still had to pay.

Why is that important? Because as Akin notes, and as I blogged way back in September, during the election campaign Stephen Harper was asked point blank if there was a compensation deal with Ridell, and he flatly denied it:

"The party does not have an agreement to pay Mr. Riddell these expenses, and Mr. Riddell has not been paid anything to date," he said, explaining that the party's national council had decided Riddell was not an "acceptable'' candidate.

Except they did, Stephen. Your party didn’t even dispute that before the courts. So, it would seem appropriate to revisit your answer to that question during the election campaign, when you were going before the people of Canada and asking them for a mandate, promising them a new, clean, responsible, accountable government. Were you bring straight with us Stephen?

As I blogged back in September, I see two explanations here:

1) Harper knew there was a deal and also knew that admitting it would seriously torpedo his plan to campaign on being a new clean and ethical government, just as the election was getting underway, so he lied to the media and the Canadian people, or

2) Harper was kept in the dark about the deal and therefore told the truth as he knew it, which means his staffers and/or party executives hid this damaging information from him and set him up to the microphones in December to unknowingly lie to the Canadian people.

Either possibility is quite serious. Either Harper blatantly lied to the Canadian people to win an election, or members of the CPC campaign team/inner circle lied to their leader and made him look a liar and a fool.

No reporter has seen fit to dig into this yet or question Harper on the discrepancy between his answer and, well, reality, even though this contradiction has been obvious for some time. I would think that the possibility the Prime Minister of Canada may have, at best, deliberately mislead the people of Canada to help win his election would be worthy of some investigation. Maybe it’s just me.

*Edited because I was mistaken in saying Riddell had won the nomination in 2005. He hadn't yet, he was seeking it and was pushed aside for Cutler, with the agreement to cover his expenses.

Caucus Shrinkage

Originally posted at ChuckerCanuck

If present trends hold, by January 2008, the Bloc Quebecois will wrest from the Liberals the position of Official Opposition in Canada's parliament. Jean Lapierre has left the building - the second Liberal to quit the caucus in as many weeks.

As good Liberals have pointed out, Wajid Khan was never really a Liberal's Liberal. He was 'okay' because he wasn't white and didn't sound like someone on a Tim Horton's commercial, but when it came to the whole Liberal values thing, he never seemed to fit in.

Jean Lapierre, on the other hand, is a classic Liberal bursting with Liberal values and his 'take this job and shove it' act is entirely congruous with those values. Afterall, for a Liberal, there is no greater honour than serving Canadians, except landing a gig co-hosting a TV show with a hot babe just back from the tanning salon. That's a real honour.

Mr. Lapierre was fairly unequivocal --- this has nothing to do with the election of Stephane Dion as leader of the Liberal party. Its all got to do with the science of show business; an election is coming in the next few weeks, he says, so he must move aggressively to the sidelines to by-stand the whole business. The prospect of being quickly returned to limo-land and cabinet did nothing to shake his firm commitment to get out of Dion-Dodge pronto. Or else, Mr. Lapierre realized that there was no such prospect.

To mark Mr. Lapierre's courageous act, Chuckercanuck is launching a new contest called, "who's bailing the good ship Dion next week?" Contest winners will win a copy of my autobiography, "So far, not much has happened".

Very Fat, Peta-Types Pipe Up - Update

Originally posted at ChuckerCanuck

Jason Bo Green forwards this link but the more I think about it, the less I want to thank him for bringing it to my attention.

Executive SummaryIn the UK, there was a court trial over a fat pet. Very Fat, Peta-Types Pipe Up. The pet owners lost - even though they get to keep the pet under probationary terms. Terms number one: the pet has to stay a svelte as the RSPCA made her while under their care. The RSPCA is "devasted" with the court's decision to let dthe family keep the dog.

I love dogs. They are stupid and eternally friendly. They are athletic and fun to pat. However, my view of animals is distinctly regressive: they are not moral agents and have neither moral rights nor duties. PETA is not about to picket a pride of lions out for a night's hunt or slap up an apartheid fence so the gazelles can exercise their rights. The idea of pets being legal agents - able to sue or press charges - reminds me of pre-Enlightenment times when legal charges were brought against pets and livestock. What is so progressive about emulating un-Enlightened practices?

And certainly, making such a high-profile court case of pet obesity, only begs the question of why UK courts have been so inactive prosecuting human child obesity. Human children, in my radical, neokon perspective, are moral agents, have rights and should have greater protection by the justice system than chocolate labs. There should be British parents in jail right now for serving their children one too many breakfast frys. Unless, making human and animals moral equals means a great devaluation of human beings.

This foolish story comes from the United Kingdom, not Canada. I hope, like marmite and eurotrash*, it never makes its way across the pond.

*oops. spoke to soon.

UPDATE:Sheena and the Prime Minister are starting an "IAMS CANADIAN" campaign. Is there a doubt who's the sharpest wit in the northern kingdom?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Multiculturalism under fire! Another Crisis for the Tories

Originally posted at Prairie Wrangler

Wouldn't you just know it. As soon as Stephen Harper makes an attempt to make inroads into "culture communities" - to use Ruby Dhalla's words, which, one assumes, suggests that only recent immigrants to the country can claim any sort of cultural heritage - everything comes crashing down around him. Well, not exactly, but soon after Harper appointed Jason Kenney as Secretary of State for Multiculturalism, the findings of a recent report suggest that Canada's multiculturalism policy has been abundantly insufficient (it's like they planned it that way)...

The Globe and Mail:

"Visible-minority immigrants are slower to integrate into Canadian society than their white, European counterparts, and feel less Canadian, suggesting multiculturalism doesn't work as well for non-whites, according to a landmark report.

The study, based on an analysis of 2002 Statistics Canada data, found that the children of visible-minority immigrants exhibited a more profound sense of exclusion than their parents.

Visible-minority newcomers, and their offspring, identify themselves less as Canadians, trust their fellow citizens less and are less likely to vote than white immigrants from Europe.

The findings suggest that multiculturalism, Canada's official policy on interethnic relations since 1971, is not working as well for newer immigrants or for their children, who hail largely from China, South Asia and the Caribbean, conclude co-authors Jeffrey Reitz, a University of Toronto sociologist, and Rupa Banerjee, a doctoral candidate."

Well didn't that work out well for the Liberals, and their cronies in the "academic community"? (Kidding.) They sit on their laurels for 13 years, doing nothing about the environment, and the massively complicated issue explodes into Canadians number 1 priority. Then, they entirely ignore Canada's "cultural communities", comforted by their "historic affinity" and the mistaken impression that the "ethnic vote" is in their pockets; then all of a sudden following the election of a minority Conservative government, comes a report suggesting that the success of a passive policy of multiculturalism has been unsuccessful in efforts to integrate visible minority immigrants, and even "second generation" visible minorities.

Can't the boys (and, some girls) in blue catch a break??? As if they didn't have enough national identity crises on their plate. Next thing you know, the Premiers are going to all of a sudden gang together and come to the long belated conclusion that major reforms have to take place to improve a static and unsustainable health care system, on the same day a report co-penned by Darren Dutchychen and Bobby Orr is going to suggest that hockey is not, in fact, the greatest sport in the world.

Blasphemy aside, this type of groundbreaking report provides a convenient, if unwelcome, opportunity (and a substantial challenge) to test the Conservative governments more 'multicultural' focus. I haven't parsed through the whole report yet, but I have to admit, as far as the prospects for widespread minority integration into the Canadian dream, it doesn't look good.

So, whats my opinion, which you all have been patiently waiting for (cough)? Politically speaking, the Conservatives should own this issue. Set up a Senate Commission to study concrete steps a government can take to rectify the inequality, without jeopardizing the equality of treatment which citizens rely on. If the Conservatives don't take such, admittedly abstract but important, steps, you can bet that the Liberals will make it an election issue. Although, like with the environment, it was the Liberals who largely got us to the position that we're in, they're going to successfully (as they did with the environment), blame the Conservatives for not coming up with an immediate solution to a long term problem of ethnic integration.

Harper, ignore the sage words of Olaf at your own peril. Or, maybe not.

P.S. I fully recognize that the gravity of the situation was highly sensationalized in this post and the title. I was just trying to make it as dramatic as the front page story in the Globe. Sue me.

UPDATE: Here is Werner's always thought provoking take.