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.

Relatively quick Saturday hits

Originally posted at A BCer in Toronto

Dion visits Alberta, Chiarelli eyes Baird, Khan’t we all just move on, and what to do in Outremont?

*Stephane Dion was in Alberta yesterday, and he was talking the environment and sustainable development to the oil sands. He seems to be advocating a carrot and a stick approach, with rewards for companies that voluntarily meet emission reduction targets and penalties for those companies that don’t. Werner was there and has extensive coverage. Dion also apparently got a little snub from new Premier Ed Stemlach. Now, I’m not an environmental policy expert, far from it. But there seems to be something sensible in a carrot and stick approach to me. And I’ll say this too: When you’ve got the far left of the blogsphere criticizing you for being too soft and the far right of the blogsphere criticizing you for being too hard you may well be on the right track.

*The Ottawa Citizen reports a Chiarelli/Baird battle royale in Ottawa West-Nepean is moving closer to reality, with the former Mayor Bob reportedly talking to the riding association about the nomination and taking on his long time arch-nemesis. And don’t we all need an arch-nemesis? I’m sadly without one at the moment, but applications are being accepted. Anyway, I hope Bob goes for it, as I’ve blogged before it would be a helluva fun race. (H/T La Ruche)

*My friend Jonathan over at TDH Strategies is encouraging Libloggers to move on from the Khan story. I agree with his sentiment. I think protests like the one the other day are of limited utility.

As I’ve blogged before, I don’t have a big problem with the concept of floor crossing per se. But what is important is the exposing the true reasons and motivations for the floor crossing so people can make a judgment based on the facts. It has become readily apparent that the circumstances of this floor crossing as first spun by Khan and Harper were misleading, if not untrue. Then there’s the issue of his report and it’s apparent partisan nature, that’s as much a use of taxpayer dollars issue as a floor crossing issue. Not to mention the patronage appointment for his former opponent.

Anyway, while I share Jonathan’s desire to move beyond this issue, and I agree Wajid isn’t really worth the attention, I think it’s important we not allow Harper falsely frame the debate. Perhaps now that the odor of this thing has been made clear though, as Jonathan hopes we can move on to finding the next MP for Mississauga-Streetsville.

*One of the first tests for Stephane Dion as a leader committed to a renewal of the Liberal Party will be what to do in Outremont in the wake of Jean Lapierre’s departure. (And so far, I must say, while he sucked as a Quebec Lieutenant I’m loving him (though not necessarily agreeing with him) as a tv pundit).

There’s long been talk that riding was reserved to appoint a star candidate; while I’m not a big fan of bypassing nominations if it’s a truly accomplished star candidate I’d get over it. I also support his desire to get more women candidates.

But we also apparently have at least two strong candidates interested in this riding. Former YLC(Q) president and Belinda Stronach staffer Brigitte Legault is organizing and is said to have strong support on the ground; Justin Trudeau is also reportedly interested in the riding. I understand Brigitte wants an open nomination process, I’ve not heard if Justin is angling for an appointment or wants an open process too. I’d hope it’s the latter.

Anyway, if there is an appointment it’s sure to be contentious. How contentious depends on whom is appointed. If it is someone truly accomplished outside of politics, a true star candidate, then it will be less so. If it’s a political partisan with the right connections, then the outcry will be titanic and rightly so, and I’ll be part of the protest.

I don’t envy Stephane here. Frankly, unless they can appoint his sister Celine or someone of equal stature (apparently Louise Arbour passed), I think it may be best to let this one be an open nomination race and let the grassroots of Outremont decide.

Khan's been lying

Originally posted at Cherniak on Politics

Some people thought I was on the wrong track with these posts. However, as Jeff Jedras points out, there is now no doubt that Wajid Khan's switch had nothing to do with St├ęphane Dion. Khan and Harper have both been lying to us for a week now. Here is the evidence - from Stockwell Day:

Mr. Khan is a common sense guy who has been frustrated by a number of Liberal policies even when they were still the government. He knew a cabinet shuffle was coming but wanted to wait till after the announcement was made before he crossed the floor to join us. He didn't want any suggestion that he was doing this in hope of getting some kind of appointment.

There you have it. Hook, line and sinker.

Could Harper survive an election loss?

Originally posted at Cherniak on Politics

There's lots of talk about a possible election. There's lots of talk about a possible Liberal win. Everybody seems to assume that Harper would be done if that were to happen. I'm not so sure.

If the Conservatives were to have a former Prime Minister sitting in Parliament, why would they want to get rid of him? Why not have him stick around for a bit? If Dion is a breath of fresh air after a year, then Harper could resign. If people start to miss Harper, then he could wait for the next election. However, if Harper resigns immediately then the Tories would lose the ability to choose. They would have to pick a new face and hope for the best.

Let's face it - the Canadian public does not follow politics very closely. As an example, I ran into my cousin the other day before leaving for Mississauga. When I told her what I was going to be doing, she admitted that she doesn't read the news. She is not alone. The fact of the matter is that any opportunity you have to offer people something that they know is a good one. In the case of Trudeau in 1980, Canadians even elected a man they disliked just because they wanted a steady hand. Would the Liberals have been better off without him at the time? Suddenly Clark would have been the guy with experience.

It just so happens that Martin made the right decision to step down. However, it did not have to be that way. What would have happened if Harper had been as bad as some of us expected him to be? Wouldn't the Liberals have been safer with Martin ready to lead the party into a June election if necessary? Things didn't turn out that way, but that doesn't mean things couldn't have turned out that way.

If I were a Tory, I would obviously be upset with an election loss. However, I would also recognize that Conservative Prime Ministers don't come around very often in Canada. Who is waiting in the wings? Peter MacKay? Rona Ambrose? Jason Kenney? Wajid Khan? The fact of the matter is that Harper is the best they have. I'm not so sure an election loss would decide his fate.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Wajid Khan's $13,000 super secret Excellent Middle Eastern Adventure

Originally posted at A BCer in Toronto

After a barrage of pressure from the media and the opposition, the Harper government has finally disclosed the expenses for turncoat MP Wajid Khan’s super-top secret, super important, non-partisan Middle Eastern trip.

Here they are:

As you’ll see over some 19 days Mr. Khan visited Damascus, Riyadh, Aman, Cairo, Jerusalem and Beruit. All the garden spots, to be sure. He spent nearly $8000 on air fare, just over $3000 on accomodations, and some $1600 on meals for a total of just under $13,000.

Then he went home, wrote his $13,000 report that he promised he’d share with everyone, his Conservative friends gave his old election opponent a patronage job, he supported Joe Volpe for the leadership, then he supported Bob Rae for the leadership, then he supported Stephane Dion for the leadership, then apparently he was upset Dion’s foreign policy wasn’t more like Michael Ignatieff’s foreign policy, and finally jumped ship to the Conservatives for reasons that seem to change by the news story.

Any-ho, did the taxpayers of Canada get value for money from their $13,000? We’re not going to be able to find out. As mentioned, the report is super-duper-tip top secret. If it was released, I mean, the Earth would stop spinning on its axis, day would become night. What’s that? You’re asking, what about all that Conservative stuff about accountability? Hey, look over there! Adscam! Liberanos and so forth!

P.S. Hey, David Emerson, could you join me over at camera three?

Hey David. How ya doin? Fabulous. Listen bud. Look at this expense report Wajid filed. Just under $8k on air fare and he hit six cities in the Middle East. Six! Including Beruit! I mean, I don’t think WestJet exactly flies there, you know what I’m sayin’?

I’m just asking…maybe you could use Wajid’s travel agent for your next trip, rather than spending $10k on a roundtrip to Geneva. You know what I’m saying big shooter?

Thanks chief.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Liberals: You've Always Supported Us, Why Leave Now?

Originally posted at Prairie Wrangler

Watching Ruby Dhalla today was a real pleasure; she's well spoken, articulate and smiles a lot. She was on Don Newman's brooaaaaadcast responding to Harper's recent efforts in courting the "ethnic" vote, and handled herself just as an impressive politician would - by bullshitting as much as was possible under the circumstances...

She spent the majority of the interview (video, Thursday, cue to 31:30) arguing that ethnic minorities really don't like the Conservatives, because they're "right wing" (little known fact: ethnic minorities genetically predisposed to be left wing). This may come as a shock, but Dhalla tells us "honestly" that people prefer the Liberals, because they have a "affinity historic in nature" with "the culture communities", as apparently they're now called. If this truly vacant line is going to be the position of the Liberal party - you've always supported us so why leave now? - they're in trouble.

Liberals often like to portray themselves as the party of multiculturalism with a monopoly on the ethnic vote, because they "understand" immigrants, while Conservatives are more indifferent. For recent memory, this has indeed been the case - the Reform Party was never accused of being terribly responsive to the concerns of the ethnic community, and there were anti-immigration undertones in some of their policy positions. But that was then.

Harper has since poached two relatively high profile new Canadians from within the Liberal Party, Wajid Khan and just today Marc Persaud, former chairman of the Liberals Standing Committee on Multi-Culturalism, no less, who "has wasted over a decade supporting a Liberal party which is ideologically bankrupt" (his words, not mine). He also redressed the divisive Chinese head-tax and established the Air India inquiry. Although Harper took a lot of heat for trying to "buy votes" with moves of only symbolic value (a move quite foreign to Liberal governments, cough), it worked.Most important of all, in my opinion, he reduced the Right of Permanent Residence Fee by half, making it that much easier for less than wealthy immigrants to enter the country. Call it pure, political calculation if you want. Insinuate without evidence that Harper is just an anti-immigrant clone from the Reform party. But if the Liberal Party wants to remain relevant in fast growing ethnic communities, they're going to have to do much more than reminding those communities that they've always supported the Liberals.

UPDATE: Steve from Far and Wide has an interesting post on Wajid Khan up, and conveniently for me, plays the "Harper's from the Reform Party card and thus is anti-immigrant".

The politics of wait times

Originally posted at BCer in Toronto

In Toronto today Steve Harper took a baby-step towards fulfilling his infamous missing fifth priority. Appropriate it was a baby step, since he made the announcement at the Hospital for Sick Children.

The unfulfilled priority I refer to of course is this one:

…work with the provinces to establish a Patient Wait Times Guarantee

And I say infamous because, as first noted by Paul Wells, it simply seemed to disappear from Harper's list of priorities at some point without much progress having been made or acknowledgment given. Over the last few months the sense of abandonment on this priority generated a dollop of media attention, and with an election coming some time soon (I'm betting not before a by-election in Outremont though) Harper's need to nip this one in the bud grew, no doubt bringing us today's announcement:

Ottawa will invest $2.6-million to help 16 pediatric hospitals across Canada set up a data base to collect information on how long children are waiting for surgeries…The 15-month pilot project will develop the first pan-Canadian system to measure waiting times for six key surgical areas: cancer, neurology, cardiac, sight, spinal deformity and dental treatment that requires anesthesia.

The problem with Harper's campaign promise on the wait times priority was that it was one he knew he couldn't follow through on. But it was still politically attractive at the time to make it anyway. It was an election and he wanted the votes.

Take a look at the income trusts issue: again, he new economically he'd have to tackle trusts, but it was politically advantageous in the campaign to promise otherwise.

Back to the vaunted five priorities though. All the other five priorities were quick deliverables that he could easily deliver on himself, solely within the federal realm: child care, GST. Bam, done.For wait times he needs to rely on the provinces. Health is a provincial domain. The only lever he has to get the provinces to act is money, but even if he had lots of money for it and was willing to use it as a club to beat the provinces with, the fact is fixing wait times isn't as simple as spending more money. You need to identify metrics and standards, set definitions, and get multiple cross-jurisdictions on board. It's a real logistical and management headache.

The Libs made their own wait times promise in 04 as part of Paul Martin's healthcare "fix for a generation" (we loved that double entrende out in B.C. btw, our jaws dropped in our little rural campaign office when we heard it...might have moved a few votes out in EastVan) and when he tried to follow through on it post-election he ran into a wall, threw some money over it and declared victory.

So, when I heard that promise from Harper in the last campaign I knew immediately that was going no where. And so did Harper.

Therefore, politically they should take a hit for not keeping the promise. They knew full well keeping it wasn't near as easy as they implied, yet they decided to reap the political benefit (votes) for making the promise anyway.

However, if Harper and Clement are actually serious about starting the hard work to tackle this problem (jury is still out there) then I'll be happy. From the brief bit I've heard on today's announcement I think they may be on the right track; it sounds like a good start on doing the work that needs to be done. Let's hope it is.

Press Conference: Harper Loves Kids

Originally posted at Prairie Wrangler

You have to admit, Harper can be the master of political theater. Today, he gave a speech at Toronto's Sick Kids Hospital, regarding the development of a Pediatric Wait Times Guarantee for surgical procedures for children. Surely, this is a step in the right direction, unless, of course, you hate kids and want them to die on a waiting list. You don't hate kids and want them to die on a waiting list, do you? Good, glad you're onside...

The Globe:

"The federal government will unveil a pilot project today aimed at helping reduce waiting times for children's surgery, sources say.

But the government has earmarked only $2-million to $3-million for the project, an Ontario government source said, not nearly enough to make a major dent in waiting times.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Health Minister Tony Clement will make the announcement at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

Ontario Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Marie Bountrogianni said last night that Ottawa is making an "insignificant contribution" to the health of nearly three million children in the province. She learned about the project, involving information systems, after Mr. Harper's office issued a media advisory late yesterday about the announcement."

In fairness, it's only a "pilot" project, which is obviously going to cost much, much less then the comprehensive program. However, this is essentially a non-announcement that will be trumped up as "meeting a promise" to implement wait times guarantees, when in fact it's only a pilot project towards "information gathering" in a narrow field (pediatrics); kids will have to wait at least 15 months for any real guarantees, and anyone who isn't a kid, well, you should have thought of that before you slipped on a patch of black ice, old man.

This failure by the Conservatives has been highlighted in the past, as the only priority in the fabled "5 priorities" where absolutely no progress has been made. So is this progress on wait times? I guess technically it's progress, but it doesn't amount to much. The big challenge in implementing comprehensive guarantees will be to get the provinces to agree to whatever standards are set, and hashing out exactly how much it's going to cost the Federal government - I assure you, the provinces will absolutely not agree to pay for extra-jurisdictional treatment without further financial contribution from the Federal government.

Jesus, they can't even agree on the level of federal money going into a federal fact finding mission, calling it an "insignificant contribution". What the hell does Bountro care how much the Federal government spends on a measly pilot project? She doesn't, she just wants to make the point at every possible opportunity that the provinces need more money, not from raising taxes, but from the federal government.

Maybe I've been forever jaded from my thesis on the topic, but putting up with the provinces when it comes to passing the buck on health care is insufferable. In this field at least, we need a strong hand at the Federal helm, as the sound thrashing of Paul Martin in the 2004 health care summit attests to.

In any case, this wait times guarantee for poor wittle sick kids at the Poor Wittle Sick Kids Hospital is brilliant political theater, but largely without substance. I know Harper has been busy, but what the hell has Tony Clement been doing for a year?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Originally posted at ChuckerCanuck

You’ve likely heard the rumours: Justin Trudeau covets the Liberal nomination for the Montreal riding of Outremont. [Outremont is the Trudeau homestead. It’s a lavish neighborhood on the non-sunny-side of Mount-Royal; the French equivalent of Westmount].

Shock No. 1. Liberals in the riding don’t want him.
They describe Justin Trudeau as a “poster boy” and they don’t want a “poster boy”. How could they call Justin Trudeau a mere “poster boy”? At 35, the man has racked up some impressive credentials:
1. Taught drama in a Vancouver high school.
2. Quit that, tried to become an engineer at Ecole Polytechnique, dropped out of that.
3. Took up a master’s degree at McGill in geography and might actually finish that (rumour is he’s having a hard time remembering Oslo is in Norway and Stockholm is in Sweden).
4. Took a trip to the Yukon.
5. Got married.Showed up the Liberal convention and got more press coverage than Stephane Dion.

Maybe I’m missing something, but could you name a Canadian who has accomplished more? Okay, maybe Celine Dion and the folks who came up with the Blackberry. But none of them covet the Liberal nomination in Outremont.

My advice to Justin Trudeau: if they want to see Jean Lapierre levels of gravitas, then run down Ste-Catherine street screaming “betrayed! Betrayed!” and briefly found a separatist party. Then, the riding execs will take you seriously.

Shock No. 2 Stephane Dion doesn’t want him.
Sources close to the Liberal leader say Mr. Dion wants to save that riding for a “star” candidate. Not some peep-squeak Trudeau who indirectly WON Mr. Dion the leadership. No, a real “star”, like Sirius or Proxima Centauri.

Khan as a "pundit"

Originally posted at Cherniak on Politics

Paul Wells doesn't like the Conservatives' excuse for not disclosing Khan's report:

"But the Conservative government will not release the report, said Dimitri Soudas, a spokesman for Mr. Harper. He argued that Mr. Khan's advice would become less valuable if his report is made public."'

It defeats the purpose of Mr. Khan being an adviser to the Prime Minister. He would then be a pundit rather than an adviser, on such an important issue,' Mr. Soudas wrote in an e-mail replying to The Globe's request for a copy of the report."

Unlike Wells, I am inclined to take Harper's people at their word. However, their word means more than it seems. If Khan's entire report is partisan in nature, then it would make perfect sense for the PMO to keep it secret. You don't give public political advice when you have a private ear. Why would the Tories want the Liberals to know their political strategy for selling Tory Middle Eastern policy to Muslim voters?

As I have been arguing for the past few days, this is likely further evidence that Khan has been pretending to support the Liberals for months now. As Khan said himself in a prepared statement, "Over the past six months, I been honoured to serve Prime Minister Harper and Canada's new Conservative Party". The real question in my mind is whether his partisan trip to the Middle East in September was paid for by the tax payers.

Or maybe Wells is right and Khan just didn't write anything worth reading. Take your pick.

Khan You Dig It?

Originally posted at Prairie Wrangler

I know, stupid title, overused pun, apropos of nothing - sue me. That aside, as my last thought on the Khan defection, I thought I'd provide some sort of commentary on the newfound fascination regarding what exactly Khan's report contains. It seems that Harper has acquired a formidable political enemy; Paul Wells has been quite disaffected by the whole incident. He has gone to lengths to point out why the whole thing smacks of either incompetence or political dishonesty. I'm a bit torn...

First, Wells said:

"The prime minister couldn't be keeping the "report" under wraps because it either (a) doesn't exist or (b) is appallingly awful, could he? Certainly not."

Then, responding to the governments admittedly feeble excuse that "It defeats the purpose of Mr. Khan being an adviser to the Prime Minister. He would then be a pundit rather than an adviser, on such an important issue", Wells provided a list of high profile government reports made public, and opined:

"All these people are pundits? It is tiresome for this Prime Minister's Office to continually take the Canadian people for idiots."

Personally, I'm still shocked that, despite Harper's supposed propensity for all tactics Bush, he didn't play the 'matter of national security' card (can you even imagine the calamity if he did? I shudder at the thought). That being said, simply making a report visible to the public, or at the very least to opposition parties, does not deplete the quality of advise therein, and if this is the only excuse one could come up with, I'm inclined to call bullshit.

Likewise, my erstwhile arch nemesis and newfound colleague of sorts, Jason Cherniak (forgive me yet, Jason?), is skeptical:

"If Khan's entire report is partisan in nature, then it would make perfect sense for the PMO to keep it secret. You don't give public political advice when you have a private ear. Why would the Tories want the Liberals to know their political strategy for selling Tory Middle Eastern policy to Muslim voters?"

This would seem a reasonable conclusion, especially if the Tories are unwilling to provide the report to opposition members. However, there seems to be one overlooked fact in this whole debacle, which I think is important:

"Soon after Mr. Dion was elected Liberal party leader in early December, Mr. Khan contacted his office and offered to share his expertise and serve as an advisor to Mr. Dion on Afghanistan. Mr. Khan says his call was never returned."

So, leaving aside whether the report should be made public or accessible to opposition members, is there even a slight possibility that Khan's reasons for providing advice did not stem from treachery, but rather a genuine desire to provide advice - to whoever would take it, be they Harper or Dion - on an important area of particular expertise? Who knows, but the offer to also advise Dion doesn't seem to fit in well with the whole "special adviser status as a pretext for political betrayal" thesis.

That being said, none of this explain why the government would be unwilling to, at the very least, provide the report to opposition members. Indeed, if Khan's advise is so sagely, surely all within parliament could benefit. Leave your own conspiracy theories in the comments (the more creative the better!)

Daily Canuck Debate: Fun With the Subjegation of Women

Originally posted at Prairie Wrangler

In her post at the Daily Canuck, LPC(BC) communications director Shannon Satler predicts women will be "barefoot, pregnant, and in kitchen by 2008", blaming Harper for policies amounting to the "active subjugation" of women. Did you catch that? Harper is not only failing to do enough for womens issues, but is actively subjugating them. Reluctantly, I read the whole piece, and I'll provide my rebuttal to each point in turn...

Barefoot: Salter posits that because poverty rates for women are on the rise, while welfare rates have fallen, Harper is making a concerted effort to make women poor, and thereby make it difficult for them to buy shoes (hence barefoot), and therefore make it difficult for them to find work. The convoluted domino effect aside, Salter's attempts to portray poverty as a womens issue is more than slightly disingenuous.

The difficulty here is that according to the Liberals own Pink Book, women constitute 53.9% of Canada's low-income population. Less than four percent above gender parity, and as women constitute more than half of the population, one would expect a slight imbalance. Therefore, if there is in fact a concerted effort to make women poor compared to men, it's failing miserably.

The second problem with the argument is that provinces set welfare rates, and despite frequent provincial acquiescence to the whims of Prime Ministers (cough), you'll excuse me for not holding Harper completely responsible for provincial policy.

Pregnant: Her pregnancy rant is admittedly quite good, if you ignore the fact that it makes no sense whatsoever. She suggests that the composition of a new fertility panel, stacked with social conservatives, will somehow lead to increased pregnancy. However, a cursory reading of the article suggests the greatest concern voiced by critics is that the new panel will advise against stem cell research. The connection between stem cell research and fertility rates is conspicuously absent.

Further, critics fear that more rigid guidelines will be placed on fertility clinics - potentially leading to closures - which one might expect would lead to less pregnancy, not more. She then makes the massive leap to the suggestion that this panel, combined with a conservative propensity to restrict abortion - as evidenced by ultra-conservative nations of Sweden and France - would somehow lead to a situation where "women should be pregnant when, how and by whom they are told by their government." All this despite Harpers well documented disinterest in abortion legislation. See how that follows?

Kitchen: Finally, we get the coup de grace. Salter rails on the Conservative day care plan, claiming that "the only person who will accept $3.29 a day to take care of their kids is the strange old lady down the street with the gingerbread house and child-sized oven." First of all, no one lives in gingerbread houses anymore. Secondly, in making this case, she does a miraculous job of undermining both of her points above.

On poverty, she glosses over the fact that a very large percentage of spaces created within Quebec's "universal" childcare service are occupied by upper income families, preventing those who truly can't afford it from accessing care (or receiving monthly cash). On pregnancy, it is actually "universal" child care programs which have proven to promote larger families (which one would assume, would necessitate more pregnant women). See what I did there?

From these insights, we can draw one unequivocal conclusion regarding her argument that Harpers is "actively subjugating" women: saying stuff is fun!

Now, you might say I took the rather tongue-in-cheek piece too literally, and failed to pick up on the calculated exaggeration and amusing undertones. However, in my own defence, I didn't know that the active subjugation of women was a topic of such levity.

The Factanistas Strike Again

Originally posted at A BCer in Toronto

That blasted Liberal-biased main stream media is at it again! I mean how dare they report the, you know, the facts, especially when they're so embarrassing to the Canada's Relatively New Government and make a mockery of the Conservatives' pious campaigning about accountability and doing politics differently. The nerve!

The Conservative cabinet minister in charge of helping the world's poor spent more than $4,000 for a fill-in chauffeur while her regular driver was off for 11 days, Sun Media has learned.

Documents released through Access to Information show Quebec's Josee Verner, the minister of international development, awarded the contract to Maurice Cyr last March. The records obtained by NDP MP Pat Martin's office show the daily hours billed ranged from four to 16.5 for a total of 124, but chauffeurs often sit idle while ministers are between meetings, events or hospitality functions.

They even followed Chuckercanuck's First Law of Film

Originally posted at ChuckerCanuck

What the hell do I know?

I watched an early episode of Will & Grace - the punchline for every joke was that Will or the cooky, flaming friend of Will, was gay. I never watched again but millions of people did for years.

I watched some of the first season of ER - eventually I got bored because I knew before I even watched that night's episode there would be medical emergencies and morons running around screaming, "Stat!" I never watched again but millions of people did for years.

Tonight, I watched the premier of Little Mosque on the Prairie. My expectations, as you know, were low. It had three strikes:

1. It was on the CBC and my Tory-sense tingles whenever something is coming from the CBC.

2. The "sit" part of this sitcom is obnoxious and eye-rolling at the same time; as if concocted by one of Trump's "Apprentice" teams.

3. The zingers contained in the trailers were, if this is even possible, inflammatory groaners: dumb white folks who think all muslims are terrorists and act in the very unfunny sense of the word "hysterical".

About 50% of the entire show is garbage - precisely where the inflammatory groaners that made up the trailer are set. But the series cannot rest on that cheap material no more than a house can rest on a styrofoam foundation. The other 50% of the show focused on the principal characters exclusively --- fellow right wingers who love to froth at everything the CBC does, please forgive me for saying the following, I'm no Garth Turner --- the principal characters have lots of promise and those are good comic actors slotted in the roles. I laughed. I tried not to, but I laughed.

Eliminate the sensational story lines, stop mocking the largely white audience the show seeks to entertain and this show is a hit. Better still, beam the sucker into every household in the middle east and this show could be highly effective propaganda. Now that would trap us Tories: how can we do anything with CBC revenue sources when its making a valued contribution to the war on terrorism?

Oprah's Solving Africa's Problems in One Fell Swoop

Originally posted at Prairie Wrangler

I'm not exactly Oprah Winfrey's #1 fan. In fact, I have never liked her much at all. Indeed, I hate her fucking guts. Ok, that's too far. But I really don't like her - her success was recently touted by National Geographic as one of the 10 greatest unsolved mysteries of the 20th century, and last year, she decided it would be in everyone's best interest for her to sue a fan with the criminal temerity to tout her as a presidential candidate. All that aside, I have opened my mind to see Oprah in the saintly light she so clearly deserves...

Why the change of heart? Well, true to her legendary reputation for philanthropy (remember when she gave that family a van?), Oprah has decided to fund a school, modestly named the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls:

Talk show star Oprah Winfrey is due to open her long-awaited school Tuesday -- fulfilling a promise she made to former President Nelson Mandela six years ago and giving more than 150 poor South African girls a chance for a better future.(...)

Oprah said she decided to build her own school because she was tired of charity from a distance.

"At a certain point, you want to feel that connection."

Well isn't that wonderful. Not only that, but the school would be appropriately comprehensive:

"Set on 22 lush acres and spread over 28 buildings, the complex features oversize rooms done in tasteful beiges and browns with splashes of color, 200-thread-count sheets, a yoga studio, a beauty salon, indoor and outdoor theaters..."

I must admit, 28 buildings for 152 children dwarfs my bereft Jr. High school, which was a pathetic single building establishment for a thousand kids. I'd say the intuitively appealing 5 children-per-building standard Oprah has employed here is not only essential for a successful learning environment, but far more reasonable and representative of the average quality of life found around the planet. So far, so great.

Sure, cynics might point out that the school costs $10m less than Oprah's house, but they simply don't know the resources that are needed to maintain Oprah's psychological well-being, and thus their opinions can be rejected out of hand. Other more rational skeptics might argue that the money could have been used more efficiently towards the alleviation of the disease and poverty which absolutely desecrates the continent - for example, the yoga studio could be easily replaced by a botox clinic, or the grounds crew could be replaced by personal chefs for each child. Such criticisms are perfectly reasonable, but are missing the point.

You see, Oprah wants to "feel a connection" to her charity work, so instead of donating an impersonal $40 million dollars to buy, oh I don't know, 4 million insecticide treated bednets for a continent where 1.3 million people a year die of malaria, she thinks that money is better spent on 200 thread count sheets for 152 little African girls.

I can kind of see her logic. If she was myopic enough to only fund bednets, it's more than likely (I don't have the statistics in front of me at present) that the people who would benefit from those bednets wouldn't have a yoga studio or 20 acres of warfare-free land to frolic in, exponentially increasing the likelihood that children in Africa will die from obesity-induced diabetes or high cholesterol levels from lack of exercise- essentially, it would be counterproductive.

I admit that providing bed nets for millions of people across sub-Saharan Africa seems like a good idea on the surface, but without providing those 4 million people with a beauty salon as well, you'd just be needlessly prolonging the life of ugly people, which flies in the face of everything Hollywood stands for.

In effect, Oprah has brilliantly designed a comprehensive education program in the philanthropic style of Jeffrey Sachs - no single step, whether it be bednets, luxurious sheets or yoga classes, can be effective in itself; all must be enacted in coordination with each other to ensure success. If you can get past your stubborn anti-Oprah prejudice, and really put some thought into it, $40m spent on 152 children makes flawless sense from a humanitarian standpoint.

One last point, that you may not have considered: what in the fuck is wrong with this lady?

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Comments, like them or not

Originally posted at Cherniak on Politics

1) As I have written before, I have nothing against Justin Trudeau personally but a lot against him using his last name to get ahead within the Liberal Party. If Justin wants to run for the Liberals, I think he should find a seat that we do not hold and show that he has the ability to do some heavy lifting. Others who have given much more time and energy to the Party deserve a safe seat in which to run.

2) Elizabeth May should run in Halifax. It is a riding that the NDP barely holds because of Alexa McDonough's personal popularity and it is full of progressive university students who would be more than willing to give May a serious look. If May does that, I might even argue that the Liberals should leave her unopposed. Some of my Liberal friends in Halifax wouldn't like the idea, but I think the possible strategic value is obvious.

3) According to Stephen LeDrew on Politics with Don Newman, Stephen Harper will be "the MacKenzie King of this century". Clearly it is time for Don Newman to get a new Liberal on his Political Leadership panel.

4) Meanwhile, Robin Sears is back on NDP message now that Rae is not Liberal leader. Too bad.

Conservative "media" ranking: Bourque, then Levant

Originally posted at A BCer in Toronto

Given the flurry of posts recently questioning the perceived Conservative leanings of online news aggregator/blogger/whatever Pierre Bourque (Olaf has another take) it was quite serendipitous I came across this passage in the Stephen Harper biography I'm currently reading by William Johnston, called Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada.

You'll remember the big scoop Ezra Levant of the Western Standard had during the last campaign, posting the full Liberal platform online before it was released by the party. The document of course came to Ezra courtesy the Conservative campaign, which got it from the infamous Liberal mole, no doubt.

The passage though indicates Ezra wasn't the Conservatives' first choice for a Conservative-friendly outlet to leak the platform to though:

The initial Conservative idea had been to leak the Liberal platform to Pierre Bourque's website, called Bourque Newswatch. That would conceal the fact that it was the Conservative Party that first received the leaked document from a mole. Bourque Newswatch was a popular Ottawa-based site which published political news and gossip, and it had on occasion published items the Conservatives wanted out in the blogshpere. But, when the war room finally got in hand the long awaited Liberal platform, no one could find Pierre Bourque to give him the scoop. In a last minute switch, they sent it instead to Ezra Levant's Western Standard; he was former communications director to Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day.

Interesting, that. What does it say about how Conservative-friendly you consider your first choice to be when your second choice is Ezra Levant and the Western Standard?

Johnson's bio (recently updated post Harper PMship) is an interesting read btw, watch for a review soon.

Tories made Khan's opponent a judge

Originally posted at Cherniak on Politics

When Wajid Khan crossed the floor, Stephen Taylor, head of the Blogging Tories, posted the following:

Khan should have to face nomination in his own riding with the local Conservative EDA before he should attain the label of "incumbent" in the next election. Khan switching to the Conservatives nets no discernible gain for Khan (from backbench MP to backbench MP) and it should net no discernible gain for him in the future (such as having his nomination grandfathered, as the Liberals do). Before Belinda Stronach faced the voters in Newmarket-Aurora, were the Liberal members of that riding given the opportunity to challenge her nomination before the next election? Let's hope that Khan will have to stand for nomination for the party before he faces the voters.

At the time, I thought he was just trying to give Blogging Tories something to talk about beyond complaining about another Harper broken promise on democratic reform. However, I have since realized that Taylor's concern is even more of a rope-a-dope than expected.

As you can read here and here, the Conservative who ran against Wajid Khan during the last election, Raminder Gill, was appointed as a Citizenship Judge on October 31, 2006. As a result, Taylor's big concern about Khan running for the nomination is all but meaningless. The one person who could have beaten Khan has been shuffled off in a patronage appointment.

I don't mean to question Mr. Gill's qualifications. He seems like he should be a fine citizenship judge. My only point is that the Tories and Mr. Khan have clearly been planning this move for longer than a week. Say what you want about Stronach, but at least she was honest about the timeline.


As a side note, I must say "mea culpa". The other day, I openly considered the possibility of picketing Khan's personal business. My thinking was that he has probably increased his business by being a Liberal MP and that he should now see the negative of abandoning his supporters. I was wrong. This is not the sort of thing that Liberals should do. Whatever one might think about Khan, political repercussions should remain in the political world. If you want to picket, please stick to his constituency office. I should not have suggested otherwise.

Layton's Environmental Balls of Steel

Originally posted on Prairie Wrangler

True to form, Layton seems to have thrown down the environmental gauntlet, and outlined the minimum standards which any new environmental legislation would have to meet in order to get his approval. I think that the standards which Layton demands, namely meeting Kyoto targets and a hard-cap on emissions, are fantastic, with the minor qualification that Layton would need the balls made of bi-carbonate steel to propose them...

Here's the story:

"NDP Leader Jack Layton says any deal with the Tories to pass the Clean Air Act will have to include a commitment to the Kyoto Protocol and a hard cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

Layton’s statement sets a clear bottom line for any negotiations on the government’s flagship green bill, and could have a bearing on how long the Tories stay in power.

In an interview Monday, Layton rejected rumours that he might trade off Kyoto for other concessions from the government in other areas.

“We’ve always supported Kyoto, it’s fundamental, and it’s essential that Canada stay part of that Kyoto program,” he said.(...)

However, Layton is also supporting a bill proposed by Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez that would force the government to respect its Kyoto commitments, and says Kyoto should be reaffirmed in the Clean Air Act.

“It should be included as part of any legislation that’s dealing with climate change.”

The obvious sticking point is Kyoto, and as predicted, Layton is unwilling to compromise on the Protocol one bit, and supports the Liberal's wildly audacious bill that would somehow force the current government to do 10 times more within the next 5 years than the Liberal government managed to accomplish in 13. (Does anyone else find it weird how the Liberal government had 3 consecutive majority governments, and yet didn't pass legislation compelling the government in power to meet its Kyoto targets? Just me? Nevermind, then.)

So, Layton is demanding that Canada commit itself by law to meet it's Kyoto targets, in order to receive the prestigious Layton seal of approval. Let's imagine that Layton expects the current government to accomplish this lofty objective by adopting the NDPs Green Plan in full, which includes a 5 step program. Cumulatively, by the NDPs always conservative estimates, the plan would reduce GHG emissions by 210 megatons by 2013-14.

Two things immediately spring to mind: first, the Kyoto targets are to be met, at the latest, by 2012 in order to be considered "in compliance"; second, according to Suzuki's stats, Canada would need to reduce GHG emissions by 270 megatons, not 210, in order to be "in compliance". How being 60 megatons short, 2 years late, is being "in compliance" with Kyoto targets, is beyond me.

"Did you get all of your homework done on time, little Billy?" "Sure did, Pa. But I didn't finish it all. Oh, and it wasn't on time. But otherwise, I got it all done on time."

And yet, Layton proposes the passage of a bill which would commit the government to accomplish something which even his comprehensive plan could not, and he seems willing to set a standard for cooperation that even, in the case of hell freezing over, he as PM would not be able to accomplish. That's balls, folks.

Please note: My mathematics skills have been rightly impugned in the past. Plus I'm in a rush. So if you can prove that I've misrepresented things here, I'll gladly change the post and include a mea culpa.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Follow Up To Yesterday's Memo

Originally posted at ChuckerCanuck

Judging by my inbox, the new blogging protocols set in place by the International Alliance of Global Conspiracies (IAGC) have many Blogging Tories confused. So, using today's topic, as designated by the planning committee of the IAGC, following is an example of how the protocol works.

Step 1. Introduction
Hi there everyone, funny weather, eh?

Step 2. Personal Experience on Travel
Is it just me, or do they keep removing one train car every month on the Montreal-Rigaud commuter line? Every month I have to shift up the platform while waiting for the train only to squeeze into ever smaller spaces. This morning, I was jammed up with the private school kids who were talking about - well - never mind. No father with daughters wants to repeat what those kids talk about, even a father of such delinquents as my raised-from-home girls, Rainbow and skyPiper.

Step 3. [insert content emailed to you from the global conspiracy alliance]
Years ago, the CBC emancipated itself from the constraint of telling Canadian stories and opted instead to invent Canadian stories. The goal is to re-define Canada in the image of the CBC itself: bleeding heart, overtaxed livers and a skill at looking cynically confused whenever numbers get mentioned. (Numbers are the root of all evil in CBC lore). Tomorrow night, the CBC launches "Little Mosque on the Prairie" - a Corner Gas pointed straight at Mecca. The trailers look terrible - or as they would say at CBC headquarters "excellent" - and we, er, oops, I urge everyone to watch the show and tell us - shit! - me what you think.

Step 4. Personal Experience on Food, Music or Booze
That's all for now, I have to finish off a three-cheese lasagna purchased at the ready-to-eat counter at the local Metro grocery store (tranlation: Dominion grocery in Ontario). Wow, lasagna and green salad for $4.55.

Memo to All Blogging Tories

Originally posted at ChuckerCanuck

My sources at the Leo Strauss Institute for Global Conspiracies tells me that the following email memo failed to reach a huge proportion of blogging Tories. So, if you didn't get it, please read on. If you are not a Blogging Tory, pretend this post was never written, thanks.

TO: Blogging Tories

FROM: Planning Committee for the Alliance of Global Conspiracies, Internet Division (PCAGCID)

SUBJECT: Concerted Campaign to Assasinate Stephane Dion's Character

Hello everyone! In general, we are very happy with how you have been performing over the past twelve months. Except maybe him. However, recently, the Liberal Godfather of Blogging, has been wise to PCAGCID involvement in your posts and we must all do a better job of obscuring the true nature of the Blogging Tory Propaganda Machine. Effective immediately, the following is the new protocol for all blogging Tory posts:

1. PCAGCID emails to each BTer the content of that days post. No email, no post. (Some days, things are "too crazy" or you feel "under the weather", so you don't post. That's our first means of individuation.)

2. Each post will be put together following this formula:

a. Introduction.

b. Personal Experience #1. Transportation/Travel/Place.
for example, you could talk about rush hour, a trip to Cancun or the view from a particular conference room at work.

c. contents of email we sent you, word for word, including typos (we insert those randomly for even more individuation.)

d. Personal Experience #2. Food/Wine/Music.
something simple about what you ate (bad or good) or are going to eat. Maybe a craving for something. What wine do you recommend? Provoke a debate by saying if Phil Collins were Canadian, he'd be a Harpermaniac.

This is our second means of individuation, by wrapping the mesage in a fabric of autobiography. People will read it and know it comes from the heart.

3. BTers publish the post at different times each day.

The third manner to individuate the blog entries will be for each blogger to post her posts at different times day after day. 3:00 pm one day. 7:41 am the next. etc.etc.

If we follow the new protocol, we should be able to put even the most dogged liberal bloodhound off the trail. Good luck!

Hope that helps, I'm off to finish off Kendall Jackson's Cab Sauvignon decanted in our new Christmas decanter. Then I have to go pick up Rainbow who went to the railroad tracks to play with a couple of friends from preschool.

Dion Steals a Page from Martin's Playbook

Originally posted on The Prairie Wrangler

Here we go again, I fear. Remember a month ago when I proposed that Dion's most distinguishing feature, his integrity, may be in jeopardy following his election as Liberal Party leader. Well, we now have the first example of his integrity taking a hit (in the all important court of Olaf's mind), as he seems to be utilizing Paul Martin's trademark ploy from the last election - "I can read Stephen Harper's mind and believe you me, he's lying"...Here's Harper's quote, from CTV's Question Period only yesterday:

""I think the preponderance of the evidence on [climate change] is clear, that it's a real long-term challenge, but what I've said is it can't be fixed overnight."

Here's Dion's impression of what Harper really means:

"Prime Minister Stephen Harper still doesn't believe in the science of climate change, says Liberal Leader Stephane Dion.

Dion, speaking to reporters in Nova Scotia, says the Conservative government's recent embrace of environmental issues must be viewed skeptically.

"He spoke about the 'so-called greenhouse gas emissions'" only weeks ago, Dion said.
The fiscal update of Nov. 25 contained "not a word" about climate change, he said.

"Now all of a sudden, it's a priority. I think something happened ... (Harper) saw the polls, he saw the kind of official opposition he's facing, and he pretended that he saw the light."

Ok, so Harper says he believes in the science behind global warming, but somehow, Dion knows better what he thinks. This is the whole "I know Harper says he won't legislate on abortion and won't destroy Medicare but trust me, he will legislate on abortion and destroy Medicare" move that Paul Martin employed during the last election, right before he became ex-Prime Minister. You could taste the desperation (and it was delicious).Now Dion is using the same tactic, and I regret to inform you all that, in my opinion, it doesn't bode well for Liberal fortunes. I mean, speculating on whether or not Harper subscribes to global warming science is one thing, but to do so the day after he explicitly accepted it in plain English (maybe that was the problem), is just sad.

UPDATE: Dazzler at the Blogging Party is on this as well, with the amusing title "Oh No He Didn't"

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