Monday, September 28, 2009

Denis Coderre: Looking out for #1

After being over-ruled last week on the Liberal nomination in Outremont riding, Denis Coderre spared no bitterness today in resigning as his party's Quebec lieutenant and defense critic (but not as MP):
Coderre said he still has "confidence" in Ignatieff, but he suggested the Liberal leader make changes to his inner circle of advisers.

"Much more fundamental questions are raised by these events: Who should the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada listen to on decisions that strictly affect Quebec?

"Should he follow his Quebec lieutenant while working closely with a credible team? Or to his Toronto advisers who know nothing about the social and political realities of Quebec?"


CTV News' Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reported earlier Monday that Ignatieff's office was completely unaware of Coderre's plans and said the Liberal leader had not been in contact with his lieutenant over the weekend. However, Ignatieff had left three voice mails on Coderre's cellphone and two emails this morning, all of which had gone unanswered, Fife said.
Coderre certainly has not shone as Defence critic, and the fact he chose today - and so publicly - to resign from the shadow cabinet, proves who he puts first when balancing what's good for the his party and his country, and what's good for Denis Coderre.

Because as impolitical points out, not all of Ignatieff's close advisors are non-Quebeckers. For someone so ostensibly concerned with the over-TO-ification of Iggy's inner circle, an honest MP, loyal to his leader (as he purports to be) might have seen fit to mention that in his all-too-public rant today.

Or perhaps Coderre truly believes that a former Quebec Education minister and a former Quebec Liberal Party president - both with close ties to Jean Charest through three straight electoral victories - really do know "nothing about Quebec".

- 30 -

Being in the "Pre-employment phase"...

...I instinctively know exactly what our Dear Prime Minister means when he speaks of all the projects in the "pre-construction phase".

Friday, September 25, 2009

Outremont est Ouvert: Iggy, Coderre concede to Cauchon

Well! No sooner had I suggested in the comments over on Pogge's excellent blog that the Liberals would be wise to allow Martin Cauchon to try and unseat the NDP's Thomas Mulcair in his old Outremont stomping grounds than the G&M reports that they are apparently taking my advice.
Party insiders say Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has decided to allow an open nomination contest in the prized Montreal riding of Outremont.

Earlier this week, Mr. Ignatieff declared that the riding had been reserved for businesswoman Nathalie Le Prohon.

Mr. Ignatieff made that decision despite Mr. Cauchon's expressed interest in making a comeback in the riding he represented for 11 years before retiring from politics in 2004.

But insiders say Mr. Ignatieff relented in the face of a fierce party backlash and decided to give Ms. Le Prohon another Montreal riding – Jeanne-Le Ber.
Amazingly, I even called the bit about offering up Le Prohon to Jeanne-Le Ber. Cauchon was a Chrétienite whom Paul Martin Jr. didn't want hanging around too long once he became leader. Why he stayed out of politics with Dion's return is unclear, but if the Liberal tradition of alternating english and french leaders continues, then maybe that has something to do with Coderre's earlier reticence at welcoming him back.

At any rate, Cauchon was a fine Justice Minister who fought the good fight on Same-Sex marriage and he deserves to have a crack at winning the nomination in his old riding. And it's good to see Ignatieff has enough grace to admit when a mistake has been made, and then reverse it.

But not so fast, Iggy: what about Stéphane?

(H/T to Mark Francis over at Secion 15)

- 30 -

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Give Unto Woman What is Woman's

A woman must have control over her own body. But the anti-abortionists will never be satisfied with that. I am sickened to learn of this 40-day campaign of self-righteous busy-bodies, bent on harassing women at abortion clinics across the United States and Canada - even here in Montreal.

From Antonia Zerbiasis:
The birds of `pray' who will be targeting women's clinics in Canadian cities for the next 40 days really don't care about saving lives.

If they did, they wouldn't be so much about intimidating the desperate women and girls who are seeking abortions.

That's because, no matter how much they will attempt to cloak their vigils outside two Toronto clinics with solemn vows to "never stop defending life," their true agenda is unveiled by their lack of support for babies once they're born, their often impoverished mothers and the kind of sex education and contraception accessibility that would avoid abortion in the first place.

Nowhere on is there any discussion of any of these matters.
Of course not. I wonder what these people would have had Mackenzie Phillips do if abortion wasn't an option for her after being impregnated by her own father? There are more than enough unwanted children in this world. And when safe abortion is not an option, the result is that women die. Needlessly.

As for our governing Conservatives, Zerbisias goes on to remind us of where they stand:
There are reports in the blogosphere that Harper will replace Status of Women minister Helena Guergis – who hasn't done much for women, but that's another column – with the anti-choice Cheryl Gallant, who has fought against gay rights and even parental leave.

It just gets worse.

Last weekend, a prominent American anti-choice activist made a speech at the "Value Voters Summit" where she proposed that abortions be performed "in the public square."

This is the true backlash against feminism, whose second wave became a tsunami after the pill became widely available in the late 1960s.

It's all about keeping women down to those Biblical depths where they are little more than breeding stock, born to serve their masters.


No wonder Harper boasted two weeks ago, in a closed-door meeting of the party faithful, that he killed the mechanisms for women to protect their constitutional rights.
Zerbisias signs off her blog post saying she worries about the prospect of a Harper majority government.

Antonia, let me just say this: As a Canadian; as a proud father; as a feminist; as a humanitarian, I couldn't agree more. This is a public health issue, and it's also about protecting women's rights, and protecting the integrity of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

That's why we can't get these Harper Conservatives out of power fast enough.

- 30 -

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Grow up, Quebec federal Liberals!!!! Cauchon, Coderre, this means you

Getting Harper out of Dodge should be your primary consideration. So make good and figure it out already. If Cauchon wants to run in the riding he took thrice already (with the stated blessing of the riding association), let him run. Cauchon has more talent in his little finger than the entire Harper cabinet. If that threatens Coderre in some way, then he is not being a very good Québec lieutenant for Ignatieff by being subservient to such a self-serving attitude.

Keep your eyes on the prize, people. Infighting disgusts the voters. Grow up. Please.

- 30 -

Harper Priorities: Preserving Canadian D'oh-how

Peevey Stevie, focusing on what he thinks Canada does best:

June 10, 2009:
"Eventually, we anticipate Canada will be out of the business" of making isotopes, Harper told the media today.
Sept. 18, 2009:
...the federal government (has) washed their hands of the sale to foreign interests of a key piece of Nortel, the one-time gem of Canada's high-tech sector...

Some have argued that this is an "Avro Arrow" moment – a reference to the decision of a previous Conservative government, under John Diefenbaker, to scrap a Canadian-designed jet fighter. But that was a cost-driven decision, as the government was financing the project.

In the case of Nortel, it would not have cost the government a penny to intervene in order to keep its wireless unit in Canadian hands. In deciding not to do so, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff declared yesterday, the Conservatives are "wilfully turning their backs on the future of Canada's technology sector."
--Toronto Star

In today's news:
“Tim Hortons’ decision (to re-incorporate in Canada) shows our strategy is working," Prime Minister Harper said.

- 30 -

Monday, September 21, 2009

Im'grints Taking our PENSIONS dagnabbit !

I got an email [origin: vancouver craigslist?] forwarded from a family member who hoped I would become incensed over Bill C-428:
Subject: URGENT ATTENTION About Our OAS pensions Bill C-428 An Act to Amend the Old Age Security Act ( residency requirements) This bill had first reading in the house on June 18, 2009.

When I saw the video on U tube, I heard that it was seconded by Bob Rae. MP Ms Dhalla who introduced the bill represents the riding of Brampton whose population is mainly east Indian. Right now you have to have lived in Canada for 10 years in order to qualify for Old Age Security. She wants the time reduced to 3 years. So you could come here when you are 62 years old, never work or contribute to this county’s tax system etc and qualify for full Old Age Security benefits. Can you believe this. 10 years is a stretch!!

I certainly hope this bill does not get passed and I am thinking it is about time we call our elected MP’s as well as the NDP and Liberal candidates and ask them if they support this bill. This may be one factor to help us determine who get elected in the next election.

I hope this bill doesn't get passed!!!!!!

What Can You Do?

1. Spread the message to family and friends
2. write letters, send emails or call Members of Parliament
If you don't agree, I apologize for wasting your time

Bill C-428, An Act to Amend the Old Age Security Act.( residency requirements ) It is time Canada looked after it's own citizens before splashing OUR money around on people who have no right to this money, never having contributed to it. If a family wishes to bring elderly relatives here and wish to waive their own right to collect these resources in order that the elderly relatives can - fine, otherwise, look after them yourself and do not expect the Canadian people to do it. There are too many people abusing the generosity of the Canadian people, it needs to stop ... NOW!

Here is my reply:

Sorry, I can't muster the outrage, and here's why:

Let's say you escaped war-torn Congo or Somalia or North Korea or Gaza - where you have likely slaved away in harsh conditions your whole life with nothing to show for it but your new-found freedom as a refugee here in Canada - a land of peace and relative prosperity. What are you supposed to do when you hit 65? You probably need social assistance one way or another. So if it isn't a pension it'll be something else, because the sight of such persons starving to death on the sidewalk wouldn't be pretty.

For them to be in this situation, the government must have previously allowed them to come and live here at an advanced age. So Canada implicitly became responsible for their well-being at that point. We obviously can't leave them to rot just because they didn't pay into the Canadian system all those years. Anyway, it's not like this is a whopping huge number of people, sitting pretty and "living off the fat of the land" while you and I are left with nothing. And remember, this does not affect other pension recipients one iota - only tangentially, by possibly adding a few hundred thousand to our $55+ billion deficit. (Is that what Jim Flaherty last pegged it at? I can't keep up).

This email campaign is just a typical baiting tactic of the right-wing political machine meant to get us all fired up over nothing of much import, distracting us from some of the real mis-steps and atrocities of our Harper government (note that we are asked to pressure our NDP or Liberal candidates, implying them as the "culprits"; leaving the Conservatives as the de facto "good guys".)

- 30 -

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Iggy (Ford Prefect) and Jack (Mr. Prosser) Layton star in: "Ottawa Bulldozer"

H/T to the late, great, Douglas Adams...

The excerpt below came to mind while reading Jack the Obstructionist over at Section 15.

Ford stared at Arthur, who began to think that perhaps he did
want to go to the Horse and Groom after all.

"But what about my house ...?" he asked plaintively.

Ford looked across to Mr Prosser, and suddenly a wicked thought
struck him.

"He wants to knock your house down?"

"Yes, he wants to build ..."

"And he can't because you're lying in front of the bulldozers?"

"Yes, and ..."

"I'm sure we can come to some arrangement," said Ford. "Excuse
me!" he shouted.

Mr Prosser (who was arguing with a spokesman for the bulldozer
drivers about whether or not Arthur Dent constituted a mental
health hazard, and how much they should get paid if he did)
looked around. He was surprised and slightly alarmed to find that
Arthur had company.
"Yes? Hello?" he called. "Has Mr Dent come to his senses yet?"

"Can we for the moment," called Ford, "assume that he hasn't?"

"Well?" sighed Mr Prosser.

"And can we also assume," said Ford, "that he's going to be
staying here all day?"


"So all your men are going to be standing around all day doing

"Could be, could be ..."

"Well, if you're resigned to doing that anyway, you don't
actually need him to lie here all the time do you?"


"You don't," said Ford patiently, "actually need him here."

Mr Prosser thought about this.

"Well no, not as such...", he said, "not exactly need ..."
Prosser was worried. He thought that one of them wasn't making a
lot of sense.

Ford said, "So if you would just like to take it as read that
he's actually here, then he and I could slip off down to the pub
for half an hour. How does that sound?"

Mr Prosser thought it sounded perfectly potty.

"That sounds perfectly reasonable," he said in a reassuring tone
of voice, wondering who he was trying to reassure.

"And if you want to pop off for a quick one yourself later on,"
said Ford, "we can always cover up for you in return."

"Thank you very much," said Mr Prosser who no longer knew how to
play this at all, "thank you very much, yes, that's very kind
..." He frowned, then smiled, then tried to do both at once,
failed, grasped hold of his fur hat and rolled it fitfully round
the top of his head. He could only assume that he had just won.

"So," continued Ford Prefect, "if you would just like to come
over here and lie down ..."

"What?" said Mr Prosser.

"Ah, I'm sorry," said Ford, "perhaps I hadn't made myself fully
clear. Somebody's got to lie in front of the bulldozers haven't
they? Or there won't be anything to stop them driving into Mr
Dent's house will there?"

"What?" said Mr Prosser again.
"It's very simple," said Ford, "my client, Mr Dent, says that he
will stop lying here in the mud on the sole condition that you
come and take over from him."

"What are you talking about?" said Arthur, but Ford nudged him
with his shoe to be quiet.

"You want me," said Mr Prosser, spelling out this new thought to
himself, "to come and lie there ..."


"In front of the bulldozer?"


"Instead of Mr Dent."


"In the mud."

"In, as you say it, the mud."

As soon as Mr Prosser realized that he was substantially the
loser after all, it was as if a weight lifted itself off his
shoulders: this was more like the world as he knew it. He sighed.

"In return for which you will take Mr Dent with you down to the

"That's it," said Ford. "That's it exactly."

Mr Prosser took a few nervous steps forward and stopped.


"Promise," said Ford. He turned to Arthur.

"Come on," he said to him, "get up and let the man lie down."

Arthur stood up, feeling as if he was in a dream.

For the uninitiated, the above is an excerpt from Chapter One of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Watergate Redux (Canadian style)?

Say it ain't so, Peevie Stevie! Say it ain't so.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

BQ and the separatists' need to forestall a fall election

It's simply bad for the cause. The big cause: Quebec separation. That's why Bloq Québecois leader Gilles Duceppe's MPs will prop up the Harper government and support the upcoming Ways and Means vote on Friday.

That's also why I suspect the Bloc will keep the Conservatives afloat until at least the first week of November (once the Montreal municipal election is over). Because the real reason former Parti-Québecois cabinet minister Louise Harel jumped into the race for the mayor's chair - under the Vision Montreal banner - is so the separatist movement could establish a strong organizational beachhead on the populous island where all the "money and ethnic votes" flourish. And to do that, first they have to help ensure she unseats incumbent Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay - himself a former Quebec Liberal leadership hopeful with strong ties to many in the Charest government.

A little Quebec politics background here: Harel has worked her whole professional life for the PQ and the separatist cause, having joined the party in 1970 at the age of 24. She got elected in 1981, back when René Lévesque was party leader, and went on to serve in both Parizeau's and Bernard Landry's cabinets; including a stint as interim party leader in the National Assembly.

While you won't find a hint of separatist policy (nor any mention of her impressive PQ and separatist bona fides) on the Vision Montreal website, make no mistake about the true motive here: Installing a separatist municipal government with strong PQ ties into Quebec's largest city would serve a similar purpose to the raison d'etre of the BQ: organizational and ideological support that each party can leverage off of between their respective elections.

And any government of Harel's will have at least one eye trained on promoting Quebec separation at any given opportunity. For if the last 40 years of Quebec history teaches us anything, it's that you can take the politician out of the ostensibly separatist party, but you can't take the separatist drive out of the politician.

And with the notable exception of former Vision Montreal leader (and Paul Martin Liberal) Benoit Labonté, who allowed himself to be bumped down a notch from party leader to become Harel's right-hand man, most of the candidates recruited by Harel have similarly strong separatist credentials. For example, yesterday I received a full-colour glossy pamphlate in my mailbox promoting former PQ MNA Elsie Lefebvre as a Vision Montreal candidate for city councillor in the Villeray arrondissement (or district). And how about former Bloq MP Réal Ménard, brought on board by Harel last June to run for mayor of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough?

So how does this all fit in with Duceppe's propping-up of the Harper government? Well, voter apathy in municipal elections - the conventional wisdom goes - is not helped one iota by a concurrent national campaign competing for the public's (and media's) attention.

That said, Harel needs to bring up the issues and stir up voter anger towards her opponent. That's her greatest hope for dislodging him in what has become a two-way race. Especially since her history with the PQ does not in any way endear her to the overwhelmingly federalist and entrenched Liberal-supporting constituency of the island.

Because traditionally, Montrealers return their mayoralty incumbents to power unless and until they get really fed up with them. Getting us fed up should be easy, given the rampant allegations of wide-spread corruption within the Tremblay administration. But if a federal campaign comes along in the meantime, that makes Harel's job a whole lot harder. And if she loses, then the possibility of a new (de facto) separatist government lording over Montreal island becomes that much more distant; with the goal of separating from Canada as elusive as ever.

The over-arching separatist strategy, therefore, is best served spending the next 11 weeks quietly putting all three parties' volunteers and support to that purpose - not fighting another federal campaign wherein they will need to concentrate on helping the Bloq maintain their seat count against the ambitious Liberals and Conservatives.

Simply put, there is absolutely no need for the separatists to bring down Harper's government right now, since it would only serve to hamper the separatist cause (not to mention Harel's personal ambition).

I'm surprised Jack Layton is letting all his party's political capital seep away, given this reality. His base must be furious with him, especially considering the Conservative government is comfortably safe without NDP support ...until November at least.

- 30 -

I was on my way to the Death Star that morning...

h/t to Section 15 for finding this one:

There is comic brilliance, and then there is comic brilliance with exquisite post-modernist satire, done with impeccable execution. Brilliant.

(The real tragedy is that all three brave Stormtroopers pictured here would eventually be killed in the destruction of the second Death Star, just five years later. Contributions to their widows and children are being taken up by the Intergalactic Imperial Loyalist Fund. Your generosity is greatly appreciated.)

- 30 -

Monday, September 14, 2009

What a Find: Schoolhouse Rock pronoun vid

Sometimes it's good to lighten the load a bit. The Schoolhouse Rock series was the epitome of the 1970s' effort to make good use of television's educational possibilities. If nothing else, it brings back fond memories. I was tickled pink to find my personal favourite among a slew of them on youtube:

Maybe ol' Jim Flaherty could look into using something like this for his project to educate Canadians on the world of finance (I heard them musing about it on CBC Radio One early this morning - link anyone?)

Of course, Flaherty might be wise to sign-up the whole Harper cabinet for remedial Finance 101 first (himself included). How big is that deficit projected to be this week now?

- 30 -

Sunday, September 13, 2009

RT @PaulMartinJr - LMFAO: "Transport Canada 'fictitiously' expensing millions"

Methinks that with G&M headlines like these - just in time for Parliament to return from summer - there will be crow on the menu in Ottawa this week.
Federal public servants at Transport Canada are routinely filing millions of dollars in expenses – including overtime, salaries and computers – toward a construction project that doesn't exist.

Further, The Globe and Mail has learned that public servants who object to the scheme are routinely overruled by their managers.


Documents released through access-to-information requests list the expenses, which total $10.7-million since 2004. Expenses continued to be billed to the pipeline project this year.

What's more, government documents show Transport Canada managers insisted employees bill all expenses to the fund for any travel that is loosely in the area of the proposed pipeline – listing 23 communities in the Northwest Territories as “Mackenzie Valley locations.” When employees noted their trips to the region had nothing to do with the pipeline, they were told that Transport Canada headquarters approved the use of the fund based on geography.
I imagine Transport Minister John Baird will sadly be sleep-deprived for tomorrow. Pity, because he'll need his wits about him (all two).

Shall we start the scandal naming now, folks? Vote and contribute in comments, please!

1) Pipeline to Nowhere?
2) Pipe-dreamy accounting?
3) Pipescam?
4) Put that on the pipe and smokescreen it?
5) Other (but not Pipegate; too easy)

Wow. Between this and the earlier confirmation that Clement came down hard on Ablonczy to ensure no goddamned faggots unwarranted groups in Toronto or Montreal would receive any Harper government money, this government appears to be floundering worse than the Fraser river salmon. Iggy might as well invite the CTV cameras into his crypt and let his eyebrows grow out if this keeps up.

(h/t to Montreal Simon)

- 30 -

Libs Not Making it Easy Being Green (for May) Anymore

The Green Party's stated electoral goal is to concentrate their efforts on winning a seat for leader Elizabeth May.
Last month she announced that she would not run in Nova Scotia again, and moved her home to the West Coast riding (of Saanich-Gulf Islands).

May has said her party has made her election to the House of Commons a priority and insisted that she run in the riding with the best chance of electing a Green MP.

But her campaign manager John Fryer dismissed the notion she's simply a parachute candidate.

"Canada needs Elizabeth May in Parliament and when we surveyed the country we found this riding seems to be the greenest," Fryer said.
Unfortunately, it's always risky to put all your eggs into one basket - especially when that strategy backfired once already.

Here's hoping for the best, but I have to say, both incumbent Gary Lunn and the new Liberal candidate in May's hand-picked BC riding look like pretty tough competition, even for a party leader with May's profile.

I guess in the end, there is no safe riding for the Greens. You'll recall Kermit the Frog sang about our plight, (way back before he became a Disney stooge).

My only beef with this party - which has the best platform of the lot - is that its leader has a nasty habit of painting herself into corners. [gulps] "Quixotic" is definitely not the first adjective one wants people to associate with one's party.

- 30 -

hat-tip to impolitical

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Juan Cole's contrast in Joe Wilsons

This is why the historical perspective is important. I haven't seen anyone sum it up any better than this.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Your Bias is Showing

Some interesting word choices on the part of Globe & Mail reporter Campbell Clark in this piece about Ignatieff ruling out the coalition question:
The Conservatives still insist a coalition is one of Mr. Ignatieff's secret schemes – and it's not yet clear if ruling out will help de-fang the issue for the Liberals, or simply bring more attention to it.

If it became clear in an election campaign that the Liberals might be able to win government, but not a majority, Mr. Harper would use the coalition attacks to argue that only a Conservative majority would stop the NDP and Bloc from gaining a hand in running the country.
(emphasis mine)

Seems like Mr. Clark (or some editor) has the inside track on what the Conservative war-room would do, and is happy to trot out their talking points rather matter-of-factly, as if the numerous "secret schemes" of Michael Ignatieff's were a matter of public record, and the Conservatives are merely insisting this is "one of" them. So where is the attribution for that? Seems like somebody's bias is showing.

- 30 -

The Sound of Conservative Talking Points Fizzling





"My cynicism can't keep up"

Mark Francis over at Section 15 seems poised to give Canadian Cynic a run for his moniker with this post on Conservative tricks with crime bills, wherein the Globe & Mail piece he quotes includes this:
“This will be the third election we've had that bill before the House,” said New Democrat justice critic Joe Comartin, complaining that Canada's identity-theft laws are years behind those in Europe and the U.S.

Crime has proved to be such a no-risk political winner that the Harper government has for three years stacked up a long queue of crime bills in Parliament, sometimes letting them sit without debate, and blaming the opposition for stalling them.
Mr. Comartin said the Conservatives are transparently slowing the progress of some crime bills so that they can use it as a political weapon, mainly against the Liberals.

“Pushing the crime button has worked for them fairly effectively,” he said. “They'd love to be able to beat up on the Liberals.”

The pile-up occurs in part because the government introduces its crime bills as small amendments, forcing the justice committee to consider them one at a time, in sequence, often hearing the same witnesses repeatedly – instead of combining them in an omnibus bill.
Mark sums up his post with: "My cynicism can't keep up". You know something Mark? Neither can mine.

- 30 -

What was that about appointing idealogues?

“Imagine how many left-wing ideologues they would be putting in the courts, federal institutions, agencies, the Senate. I should say: how many more they would be putting in?”
--Stephen Harper, in Sault-Ste. Marie, Ontario, September 3, 2009.

Yesterday's news of former Mulroney Tory Pierre Blais's appointment by Peevey Stevie as chief justice of the Federal Appeal Court fell below the radar for a whole slew of newsmakers unable to get their one-track gaze off the "upcoming election" meme. Luckily, the story did not escape the attention of the Canadian Press (view it here, via the G&M), where they know a thing or two about putting perspective into a news story:
Judge Blais was first elected to the House of Commons as a Progressive Conservative MP in 1984 and was re-elected in 1988. He lost his Bellechasse seat, just outside Quebec City, when the PCs were devastated by Mr. Chrétien's Liberals in the October 1993 federal election.

Judge Blais served in multiple junior cabinet roles under Mr. Mulroney before replacing Kim Campbell as justice minister in a January, 1993, shuffle. He co-chaired the PCs' national re-election campaign.

Critics of his tenure accused the Quebec nationalist of being more concerned with party politics than with justice policy.

As justice minister, he rejected mandatory anti-sexism training for judges at all levels. He also proposed lowering the age at which the Young Offenders Act applies to 10 from 12 and reducing the age at which adult criminal law applies to 16 from 18.
Clearly, the right-wing partisan appointments are in full swing under a minority Harper government. Patronage is something opposition leaders have been able to make hay with before, of course.

- 30 -

Calling on Decent Canadians to Stand with Jake Raynard

I read about this terrible attack earlier this week from Montreal Simon's blog. I was shocked and angered - as anyone would be - to know that people living in this country, under the protection of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, are still subject to episodes of blatantly homophobic violence.

Today, Simon shares an encouraging update:
But luckily for me there are people like Jake, and so many other gay people, to remind me that violence is not the answer, because we are better than the brutish, cowardly, gay bashers who hunt us like animals.

And because we are like that, out of something horrible can come something BEAUTIFUL.

Like this:

Dave Ivany, director of Gender Issues Centre at Lakehead University said that since Raynard’s story has come out, more people are starting to tell their stories about dealing with homophobia in Thunder Bay.
Well I stand with Jake Raynard, and with everyone who wants to see an end to violence, homophobia and hate in general. We must denounce it, loudly and incessantly. I wish you a speedy and full recovery, Jake. And may the justice system do you justice as well.

Also, there is a Facebook group set-up for anyone to join who wants to stand up and be counted as a voice against hate.

Good luck to Jake. And keep up the good fight.

- 30 -

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Last Word to Red Tory

I was going to blog about Michael Ignatieff's presser from this afternoon, but Red Tory sums it up so well I just have to send you over there.

Icky Yucky Nasty Weasley Peevey Stevie

I saw the report on CBC last night, but it didn't fully sink in how awful Harper's vision of Canada under a majority Conservative government really is. Not until I read impolitical's excellent analysis. Montreal Simon also shares my sentiments. I have nothing more to add at this point - beyond my own considerable nausea.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Is that all ya got, Kenney?

It was Sunday evening before Labour Day and the only guy in Canada wearing a suit and tie with no funeral to attend was looking like he knew he was laying an egg, and trying hard not to show it. Jason Kenney delivered this pathetically thin personal attack on Michael Ignatieff in response to the release of a pre-writ ad wherein Ignatieff dons the powerfully Chrétienish blue shirt and waxes all sweet and cuddly about us great Canadians.

(here is the ad - try not to fall asleep watching it):

Still awake? While the ad provides little substance, it does subtley fight fire with fire by extolling the virtues of having a broad international view of the world, negating the silly and niggardly provincial argument that Iggy is somehow a bad Canadian for having lived and worked abroad for much of his adult life. That argument didn't wash and the Cons seem to be realizing it.

So now they want to paint Ignatieff as being phony. And they yanked a bland quote, presumably from somewhere in a 2005 Harvard professors' lounge or some such place - wherein he is telling his then-colleagues that he will have to present himself differently as he enters the world of politics. And the Conservatives think Canadians will find this terribly shocking? As if Harper himself doesn't measure every word and gesture in public? As if we voters are such babes in the woods that we wouldn't be able to conceive of a public official having to act accordingly when espousing party politics, as opposed to ruminating on public policy from an academic perspective?

It's another example of the Cons' small-mindedness, and it appears to play right into the Liberals' game-plan of creating a contrast between an outward-looking, confident Canada we can all be proud of on the world-stage; and a petty, snippy, combative Canada that can't even summon enough respect for other world leaders to show up on time for the group photo-ops.

So Mr. Kenney, if that's all you've got, you ain't got nothing. I think you know it, and I look forward to seeing more of these nervous, desperate Conservatives trying to sell us on their laughably lame lines of attack.

- 30 -

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Prime Minister Stephen Harper needs to Resign Now

Let us not beat around the bush: Prime Minister Stephen Harper misled the world about the seriousness of a breach of secret information under his watch that, it turns out was so major, risked compromising Canada's - and NATO's - mission (on several fronts). It also may have provided crucial information to our enemies, according to the lede in le Devoir reporter Bahador Zabihiyan's explosive front page story in this morning's edition.

Yes, thanks to the Montreal daily newspaper, whose editors waited over a year to receive the now heavily-censored documents under the Access to Information Act, we now know that Stephen Harper was at best, disingenuous and completely lacking in judgment in May, 2008, when he dismissed opposition calls for a full inquiry into the matter.

In lieu of the highly sensitive and broad-ranging scope of detailed information we now know was contained therein, it more than stretches credulity to imagine Harper was unaware of the wide-ranging international security implications of the breach - especially given the fact the documents were in the possession of a woman linked to organized crime, and for a period of weeks, before they were retrieved. At the very least, a breach (and possible cover-up) of this importance requires a criminal investigation by the RCMP, since the information may have compromised national security, not to mention that of our NATO allies.

As you'll recall, then Foreign Affairs minister Maxime Bernier was hastily relieved of his portfolio over the incident - but only once the news broke a month after the actual breach occurred, in May of 2008.

Browsing through the points of interest contained within the 560 pages of classified information, Zabihiyan notes that few global flashpoints are absent:
De l'élargissement de l'OTAN aux pays des Balkans à la contribution de celui-ci dans la lutte contre le terrorisme, des prisonniers talibans en Afghanistan à la défense antimissile, du contrôle des armements au conflit israélo-palestinien, de la situation en l'Ukraine à la présence d'al-Qaïda au Pakistan en passant par la position du Canada en ce qui concerne le dalaï-lama et le nucléaire iranien, tous les grands sujets de la politique canadienne à l'étranger y sont abordés de manière détaillée.
The CBC sums that up in english like so:
The documents include classified information about NATO's plans to expand operations in the Balkans, Taliban prisoners in Afghanistan, arms control in the Middle East, security in Ukraine, and al-Qaeda's presence in Pakistan.

Almost every page obtained by the newspaper has large sections blacked out.

The original copies — left at (Bernard's girlfriend, Julie) Couillard's house in April 2008 — were not censored.
Given the seriousness of this breach, there can be no justification for Harper's downplaying of it as being simply a mix of public and confidential material, and briefing notes for meetings, as his government said at the time.

In lieu of the inevitable questions brought up by the scope of the information leaked, the potential damage to Canada's worldwide reputation is incalculable. Our NATO allies must be deeply concerned, with gusts to appalled, that one of their most trusted partners could undermine our collective international security with such flippant disregard for a possibly treasonous breach of secret information - and without any sort of credible investigation having been undertaken into the matter in the 18 months since.

Given what we know today, one imagines that leaders in London, Washington, Brussels, Paris, etc. must be (privately, if not publicly) livid that the Canadians still cannot ascertain:

1) The breadth of the Bernier leak
2) How it was ever possible
3) What was done to mitigate the risk of future breaches (and how come other ministers - hello Lisa Raitt - evidently cannot keep track of their sensitive documents either).

One imagines our allies would be equally unimpressed that Maxime Bernier was allowed to remain in place within the Conservative caucus, then run again for the party mere months later, whence the voters in his riding re-elected him.

So please, Mr. Harper, do it. Visit Rideau Hall and resign as Prime Minister of Canada.

Do it before the Governor-General needs to step in and remove you from power. Because like a chain, NATO security is only as strong as its weakest link. Canada, under the Harper Conservatives, has proven itself unable to live up to its responsibility in regards to its NATO allies' collective security. There may be no way to save our national credibility as a fair partner. But Harper's immediate resignation would be a necessary first step in rebuilding the trust that lies at the foundation of NATO and Canadian security.

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