Friday, August 31, 2007

Another Stupid Gesture From Dion

Forcing yet another vote on Afghanistan. He must know the NDP will never support a motion calling for an extension of the mission until 2009 (after all we have been down this road before). This has nothing to do with getting the troops out of Afghanistan and everything to do with Dion's obsession with playing wedge politics with the NDP.
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Dick Goes National

The CanWest papers have now sent the story of Dirty Dick national. I am glad Nathan Cullen has launched an official complaint and I still think he should take this up with the Speaker as well. I definitely feel his privilege as a member has been attacked by Harris and the Tories. I also think all NDP members should look very carefully at the CPC nominees in their ridings and see how widespread this is. I just don't buy that this was a rogue operation in one riding (especially now that the media has confirmed the story about a "go to person in Catherine Bell's riding too).

Finally, since Harris, in his initial CBC interview mentioned the "third party" as not cutting it, Bloc members should also scrutinize the CPC for unethical behavior. I firmly believe that this government has become as rotten in 20 months as the Liberals ever were.
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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Suck On This Blogging Tories -- The U.S. Military Agrees With Layton

Political solutions end insurgencies. There is no military solution to the conflict. So, are the BT's going to call Uncle Sam "Taliban Sam"? I doubt their tiny minds could stand the strain.
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Dick Harris Just Doesn't Get It

From today's Prince George Citizen:"
I'm sure that the ethics commissioner will have a chuckle about this one," Harris said. "There's nothing unethical about having a volunteer working for you or unethical about wanting to help people out if they have a problem and can't get help from other sources."

He said the outrage comes largely from Cullen's supporters.

"We're not trying to steal any clients away from Cullen, we're just trying to help the ones that can't get help from him," Harris said.

Smith won't be paid, nor will she get an office and phone as a result of her appointment, said Harris. The experience will make her a better MP if she's elected, he added.

Smith couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday, but Harris said she told him the response she encountered while in Smithers for the Bulkley Valley Fair last week was great.

"Apart from some of the well-known NDP types who came up an harassed her and the people in the booth, the response was very positive," he said.
No there is nothing unethical about a having a volunteer working for you Mr. Harris, in your own riding. The Ethics Commissioner may look twice however, at your decision to appoint a volunteer in someone else's riding with the intention of usurping that other person's position. Especially when the person being usurped is the duly elected Member of Parliament for that riding.

My favorite bit though, is the last paragraph, where Harris claims that "Apart from some of the well-known NDP types", everyone else loves the idea. With nonsense like that, Harris could become a charter member of the Blogging Tories when he retires.

Finally to any members of the MSM, if you are reading this. Isn't it funny that Harris won't talk to you but will talk to the local press? Who does that sound like? Also, it doesn't seem to me that Harris is "backpedaling" in any way. Could it be that Ryan Sparrow is playing you for suckers?
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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dick Harris Is A Lonely Man

A very lonely man.
"He just kind of did that himself,'' government spokesman Ryan Sparrow said of Harris's move.
Sure, he thought this scam up all by his lonesome. Remember we are talking about Stephen Harper's Conservatives where the MP's can't go to the bathroom unless they get a note from the PMO. I guess all of those other cases of "go to people" who "are getting things done" are just illusions.
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Hear That Sound?

It is an electoral bomb going off in BC. The chain reaction is beginning.
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Nathan Cullen Responds

Quite eloquently I think, in his local paper. The money quote:
The government does not belong to the Conservative Party – it belongs to the people of Canada. We elect representatives through a fair and open process and Mr. Harris and his boss, the Prime Minister, will learn that the people of Skeena-Bulkley Valley will not be tricked or bullied by anyone in deciding who will represent them in the future.
I agree Nathan, but you would be hard pressed to get his psychotic majesty accept that as true.

Update:This from the House Of Commons Procedures web site. It is from the section on Parliamentary Privilege:
Freedom from Obstruction, Interference and Intimidation

Members of Parliament must be protected from influence or interference as they make laws and take decisions crucial to the nation. This protection is provided in part by the criminal law which, for example, specifically prohibits attempts at bribery and at interference with the electoral process. Even in circumstances in which the criminal law has had no application, Speakers have recognized claims by Members that they have been obstructed, impeded, interfered with or intimidated in the performance of their duties, as prima facie cases of privilege.

The application of this privilege extends beyond parliamentary proceedings in the Chamber and in committees. This protection is also recognized as extending to Members’ staff and to the staff of the House of Commons while they assist the Members in the discharge of their duties, and even to witnesses before parliamentary committees.

Any physical barrier preventing a Members’ access to the parliamentary precinct or blocking their free movement within it may be treated by the House as a breach of privilege. Questions of privilege have been raised in connection with traffic barriers, security cordons, and even union picket lines.

Speakers have recognized as obstruction, interference and intimidation such varied activities as the harming of a Member’s good name or reputation, and public criticisms of the neutrality of the Chair. In each case, the Speaker has had to determine whether the alleged breach of privilege relates directly to the Member’s ability to carry out his or her parliamentary duties. (emphasis mine)
I would submit that appointing a "go to person" in Nathan Cullen's riding defacto harms Mr. Cullen's reputation by suggesting he is not doing his job. I hope Mr. Cullen rises in the House on the first day and asks the Speaker to rule on this possible breach of privilege.
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Dumbassitude In The Raw

Give this a listen. It is the CBC interview with Dick Harris about Sharon Smith. This sounds like a centrally controlled campaign to go after the NDP and the Bloc. The whole "getting things done" mantra, sounds like a trial balloon slogan for the next campaign.
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MSM Sharon Smith Watch Ends On Day 8

Finally, the Vancouver Sun does a piece on Sharon Smith. Money quote:
Harris "is essentially saying that the federal government system is corrupt and is run by the ruling party only, and that voters who vote for other parties will not get served."
Yes, that about sums it up. Vote Tory or FU.

It looks like the Tory plan is getting a rough reception in the riding. No surprise, but still gratifying.

Update 2: If this turns out to be a widespread plan by the Tories, it will make Adscam look like peanuts. The Tories are saying flat out that only Tory ridings will be helped by the government. That's the kind of message of which electoral wipe outs are made.

Update 3:
Garth Turner has some interesting insider stuff on Dick Harris.
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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tories Go Toing All Over The Place

It looks like the "Go to person" system of representation without the benefit of voting is more common than first thought.
Vancouver Island North MP Catherine Bell has already had a similar situation happen to her in her riding. Several months ago, the Tories named a candidate as the “go-to person” for the Conservative party, in what Cullen feels is an effort to undermine her and give the perception that she is not doing her job.
One "Go to" is a mistake, two is a problem, three is a scandal, just waiting to explode.
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MSM Sharon Smith Watch Day 7

The press release from a CPC MP outlining the party's subversion of democracy is now a week old. Where is the MSM on this story? Nowhere, that's where.

Update: Meanwhile according to Tim at POGGE, the Tories are doing this in more than one riding.
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Note To Progressives Who Vote Liberal

Read this poll. The second choice of 55% of your party is the CPC. Think about that. Also, as a general side note. Has anyone else noticed a subtle shift in the coverage of these polls by the MSM? It has only been in the last little while that getting 33% of the vote is being reported as "momentum" or a "surge". Anyone care to speculate as to why this is happening?
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Straight Talk Needed

I am about where Mark Abley is on Afghanistan. I think most Canadians are.
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Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Theme! A Theme!

His Psychotic Majesty was in Quebec, campaigning for the by elections today and he said this (around the 4:20 mark).
"And by the way my friends, I would like to remark that the chief of the Bloc is traveling through Quebec these days. But everywhere he goes, remember he always has empty hands."
So remember kids, elect Tories or no federal cash for you. People in BC shouldn't feel too special, the Harper government is telling the same story all over the country.

Update: Others have pointed out another charming thing His Psychotic Majesty had to say. It is hard to believe that a Prime Minister of this country would accuse the labor movement of hiring protesters, but this one did (around the 8:20 mark of the same clip). All hail Steve, king of the pricks.
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Democracy Is A Four Letter Word To His Psychotic Majesty

When I was a kid (back in the 60's), my father told me about how "things were" in Ontario. To get a job at the LCBO (our government owned liquor monopoly) one had to go to the local Conservative party functionary (the Conservatives had been in power for over 20 years at this point) and prove your worthiness to him. I don't know whether this was true or not, but the fact my father and his friends believed it gave the story and the Conservatives power. Toe the line or good, secure, jobs may be denied you. I thought those days of "patron politics" were behind us, but apparently Steve (who just loves "old Canada") wants to bring the good ole days back.

Imagine, if you will, that you are one of Nathan Cullen's constituents and you read something like this note, from a neighboring MP. What is one to think? The message is pretty clear. You can only talk to the government through representatives of the CPC. Since you elected someone from outside the party, you will not be able to have any government action by talking to that person. Only by presenting your case to our "go to person" will you get any action on your problem. Don't thank us now, you can reward that "go to person" by correcting your "mistake" in the next election.

I think if I was one of Mr. Cullen's constituents, I might be somewhat upset to learn that my democratically elected representative is now considered persona non grata, by the government. I think I would ask this "go to person", by what right does she think she is the legitimate representative of my concerns to the government? Who elected her? H/T to Dr. Dawg.
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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Credit Where It Is Due Department

The Star is calling for a public inquiry. We can only hope that the rest of the MSM will follow suit.

Update:And speaking of credit where it is due, let's hear it for Licia Corbella of the Edmonton Sun (yes, you read that right).
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Friday, August 24, 2007

Stockwell Day's Yabba Dabba Doo Time

Really, what can one say about Stockwell Day that hasn't already been said by others? The man is a walking hemorrhoid in a government filled with assholes.

Update:Kady O'Malley is being very charitable toward Stockwell here. In my opinion, Day doesn't care what is in the video clip. He is playing to Ray and friends in the post below. He is trying to whip up the base into a frenzy of righteous indignation over the "hippies and weirdos" who have destroyed "Vimy Ridge Canada". Showing him the video will do nothing. You might as well show him a first edition of Origin of the Species while you are at it for all the good it will do.
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Harper's Base Speaks Out...

About the Montebello incident:
Coles is changing his tune a little now. It was the anarchist type protesters who outed the officers to him, pointing out that they were police. Coles only fuelled the situation, by pulling on their masks and shouting, ultimately putting their safety at risk. My fury is not with the police or their tactics. I'm pissed because people like Coles take actions that force the government to spend millions on security for these events. No one really cares what they have to say....and I personally enjoy seeing one of them take a rubber bullet in the arse once in a while. If they REALLY feel the need to shoot their yaps off, please do it somewhere and in a manner that isn't costing me money.
The rock was just a part of the disguise.

Coles is just using this story to get free advertising for himself. This would have been a non-issue if he would have just ignored the undercover cop and continued with his "peaceful" protest. But no, Coles had to ham it up for the camera, shouting and waving his arms so he could be on tv.
BRAVO!!! What a brilliant tactic by the Quebec Police to shift focus from the meetings. The person who ordered it should be given a raise. I see it as totally harmless (as was the case) and totally effective, besides who really listens to protesters anyway... you only hear about protests when things get out of hand.
Let's look at this with an open mind and a bit of logic people.
-The police will often use undercover cops dressed like protesters in order to gather intelligence. They need to look the part even if that means grabbing a rock like the other protesters.
-Protesters who are about to throw a rock at police, don't go up to the front of the line. They stay way back in order to make an easy getaway.
-Things only got heated up when David Coles started telling everyone that they were cops, and tried to pull down their bandanas. Who was provoking whom?
-The police would not purposefully start a riot at the risk of injuring the public, not to mention their own people. Besides the police always get villified at these things, so why would they want the negative press.
-The only person who was trying to start a riot was David Coles by yelling that the 3 protesters were cops. He's lucky the anarchist types didn't turn on them.
-The police actually denied that they had placed "provocateurs" in the crowd, which was true. The 3 weren't "provocateurs" since their goal was not to provoke anything, but to watch.
-David Coles gave several interviews where he totally blamed the police for their actions, but now he says that he doesn't blame the police, but feels that the focus should have been on the reason for the protests.
-The police were being evasive because they are not in the business of divulging the undercover tactics that they use, for obvious reasons.

Instead of always being so anti-police and anti-authority, why not open your eyes and your minds and you'll see this for what it really was. An excercise in self serving fame seeking orchestrated by David Coles.
And Tories wonder why many people are worried that Harper might someday get a majority. With level-headed supporters like this on his side, Harper can't fail but do right by the nation.
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Pushing The Blame Downward...Ever Downward

I was watching Newsworld and they were interviewing Doug Kirkland. Mr. Kirkland (with a great deal of prompting from the interviewer) suggested that the "agents provocateurs" were low level cops out on a lark with the permission of someone "at the sergeant's level". I am not sure where Mr. Kirkland is getting his information, or whether he is just engaging in wishful thinking. In any case he has given the higher ups just the shield they need to get them through this scandal. I can hear them now. "We knew nothing. We are shocked, shocked at their behaviour! God bless democracy!" Get your barf bags ready folks. You will feel the need to use them.

Let me point out to Mr. Kirkland that at one time, higher ups took responsibility for the actions of their juniors and also, this kind of behaviour at a junior level, almost always happens because the juniors think they are going to be commended by those higher in the chain. Now why would they think a thing like that?

There is going to be a newser at 3:30 on Newsworld. I will be keenly interested in what the SDQ has to say for itself.

Update:No sign of the press conference yet at 4:15 pm.
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Day Passes The Puck

So, the SDQ is now claiming that they did have undercover cops in the crowd, but that they were there to stop violence. So, what was the one cop doing holding a rock and pushing Dave Coles?

Second, Stockwell Day is trying to push all responsibility for this fiasco away from the RCMP and onto the SDQ, by saying it was purely an SDQ issue.
"I've made the inquiries and there was no RCMP that were involved as far as those three individuals go," he told reporters in Winnipeg.
How is that possible? I realize Day is slicing the salami pretty thin here. No, the three were not RCMP, but the RCMP was in charge of security for the event. Either the RCMP knew about these operations in which case it is as culpable as the SDQ, or it didn't, in which case it was grossly incompetent (I suspect this is the final defense Day will fall back to in the coming days). Either way, Canadians have a right to know what the hell was going on up in Quebec.

Update: As others have pointed out, the fact that the SDQ lied about the cops' identities in the first place makes the rest of their utterances on the matter highly suspect. Why should we believe anything the cops have to say on this matter? We need an independent investigation.
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Thursday, August 23, 2007

NDP Calls For Inquiry

Hon. Stockwell Day
Minister of Public Safety
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Minister,

As Members of Parliament we are writing you with great concern regarding the allegations of the use of agents provocateurs during the peaceful protests against the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America summit on August 20, 2007 at Montebello, Quebec.

Along with hundreds of other Canadian citizens who participated in the Monday protest, we were both alarmed at the enormous police presence. We are more shocked at the allegations that inside agents, appearing to be working with riot police, attempted to provoke a violent incident during the peaceful demonstration. Video and photograph evidence has led to many unanswered questions.

We are calling on you as Minister to order an immediate inquiry to uncover whether or not agent provocateurs were used at the peaceful protests in Montebello.

If agent provocateurs were present, the public deserves answers to valid questions, including:

* Who are the three individuals alleged to be agent provocateurs?
* Was the Government of Canada informed that such measures would be used as part of the security detail at the summit?
* Were the RCMP or other security forces at the summit, including from the US, privy to the use of such a security tactic?
* Who was responsible for providing direction to the agents? , Were the agents directed to use force and/or violent means to disrupt the peaceful protest?
* Finally, if agent provocateurs were used, what was the expected outcome in deliberately trying to destabilize a democratic protest in Canada?

We believe these are critical questions that cannot go ignored - questions that concern the relationship between state security forces and the potential infringement of democratic rights to peaceful assembly protest and to freedom of expression. As Dave Coles, President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union said “in a free and democratic society, people have the right to peacefully protest something they don't like.”

We trust as the Minister for Public Security you will uphold your responsibility to show accountability and maintain public trust.


Libby Davies
MP Vancouver East

Peter Julian
MP Burnaby-New Westminster
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Hitting One's Head On A Hard Surface

Kady O'Malley has all the details of the RCMP and the SDQ's Operation Stonewall.
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Tale Of The Sole

The sole of the boots worn by the "protesters" in Quebec, have been identified as Vibram Model 134AR. Coincidentally, those same boots are worn by the police and are marketed by the company as Fire/Police soles. There are just too many coincidences here. There needs to be an investigation by a judicial inquiry.
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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Is This The Face Of A Cop?

I took this from the Youtube video of the three "protesters". It is the best screen capture I could manage. It was taken just after his masked was ripped off. Anyone recognize this guy? Click on the picture for a larger version.
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Another Of Steve's "So Sue Me" Moments

I see Steve is determined to be taken to court over Kyoto, even as his own officials are telling him that Kyoto is hard but doable. I will leave it to readers to decide whether his psychotic majesty is showing leadership in this policy area.
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Did The Cops Try To Start A Riot?

Thanks to Crawl Across the Ocean for this:

Given the RCMP's recent behaviour, it makes the protesters charges all the more believable.
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Monday, August 20, 2007

Cuz It's Always Better To Rent

Long after Michael Fortier has retired from the Senate, this boneheaded scheme to sell off prime real estate will be seen as Harper's true legacy. The government is essentially giving the buildings away by promising to stay in the buildings and paying rent. Sure we are getting some cash up front but by the time we have paid rent (and taxes and improvements!) for 25 years, how much of that cash will be left over? I suspect not much. So, we lose control of the buildings and pay the landlords back the purchase price in rent and other costs. Pretty sweet if you are the landlord. Pretty crappy if you are the taxpayers of Canada. Can you say "Canada's new 407"?
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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Iraqi Wonderland

An interesting article in the NY Times today, by ground-level grunts. It is an antidote to all the happy talk coming out of the Republican blogosphere. In a nut shell they say that the Bush Administration has taken sides in a civil war and that side is not the Iraqi government's side. It does not paint a very rosy picture of what is going on over there, so expect the Republicans (and their yapping little dogs up here) to question their patriotism.
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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Hypocricy Alert

Is it just me or do others find it ironic that the same people who are campaigning against MMP and post things like this:
MMP is a system that decreases the number of ridings and adds new MPPs who are not directly elected by citizens. These new MPPs will be chosen from lists that are organized by the political parties. This will allow political leaders to stack their caucuses with blind loyalists who have no direct responsibility to the people. (emphasis mine)
Are also posting congratulations to candidates in safe ridings, who circumvent the nomination process?

For the record, I support what Dion is trying to do and have no problem with him appointing a candidate if he wants to (although MMP is a much more efficient way to get more women into the legislature). What I do object to is Liberals talking out of both sides of their mouths about electoral reform.

Thanks to Ben for the spelling help. :)
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Friday, August 17, 2007

Sorry Warren

You must remember that criticizing the policies of the government of Israel is not the same thing as a "Jewish blood libel". I will never accept that. That kind debate ending sledgehammer is beneath someone of your obvious intelligence. The NDP may be many things but it is not a nest of anti-Semites.
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Cherniak Laughs At " Ignorant" Voters

I have had a suspicion from the start that the attitude expressed by Jason Cherniak below typifies the attitude of those running the NOMMP campaign. It is good that Jason has come out and said publicly, what the others no doubt have been sniggering about in private. In response to Dr. Dawg's comment about he and other back room Liberals fighting to scuttle the process, Jason replied:
"Lol. While I reject your foolish accusation, I wonder whether you think it is right to have a referendum of the population on electoral reform, when at least 90% of them know even less about political systems than me."
Of course, the fact that this McGuinty government is low-balling the referendum process and not adequately educating the public about their choices is a joke to the likes of Jason. If the public are not educated in their options it makes the distortions and fear tactics of the no campaign all that much more effective. The truth is, the no forces are counting on voter ignorance. It is the only chance they have. The public can and will have the last laugh. Let's wipe that arrogant smile off the no campaigner's faces.
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Cabinet Shuffle Quote Of The Week

I am really starting to love the Star Phoenix. Here is the paragraph of the week. It sums up, in two sentences, the "character" of the Harper regime:
It's difficult to assess the performance of ministers in the Harper cabinet because the Prime Minister's Office is a one-man show. Ministers merely end up doing Harper's bidding, as they nod like horses in the fly season.
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Thursday, August 16, 2007

On Fake Consultations With The People

Michael Den Tandt, the editor of the Owen Sound Sun Times gets it exactly right. The government wants to look like it's doing the right thing by consulting about electoral reform and yet is doing its best to sink the initiative. Here is the money quote from Mr. Den Tandt:
But if you don't have Internet access, or the time to go hunting for specifics, as I did? Two months before referendum day, you're likely still in the dark. Here's the magic trick: The government has decided that at least 50 per cent of voters in 64 Ontario ridings, and 60 per cent of voters provincewide, must choose reform, or it dies. For the reform side to reach anywhere near that margin of victory will require a highly informed and motivated populace. But that would require a high-profile debate, which we haven't had.

Why not? Perhaps it's because neither the Liberal Party, nor the Conservative Party, has the slightest interest in electoral reform. The status quo suits them just fine. Conservative John Tory has his nose to the wind and can almost smell a majority in October. Dalton McGuinty has tasted the almost absolute power granted any leader with a majority mandate in our present system and doesn't want to give it up. A poorly funded, low-key referendum campaign suits both these gentlemen just fine. But they'll pay homage to "public consultation" until the cows come home.
Indeed, I can already see McGuinty on election night, doing his best bleeding heart conservative routine. "I had hoped for more, but the people have spoken." We as a people cannot let that happen. We have to avoid that McGuinty money shot at all costs.
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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sheep Look Up

One of the vocal opponents of MMP commenting on another matter, touched on one of the major flaws of FPTP yesterday:
Everybody knew the shuffle was coming, so I believe that the poll results are actually more interesting. Of course, it is important to not take this poll as saying more than it seems. One improved poll does not a trend make. Nevertheless, it is hard to deny that these numbers suggest a real shift in Ontario from quiet acceptance of Mr. Harper to a determined preference for Mr. Dion. It is also worth noting that the general direction for the NDP is down. In particular, NDP numbers in Qu├ębec and Ontario make it less likely for the Conservatives to win seats because of vote splitting. (emphasis mine)
Jason acknowledges that vote splitting is a problem. He even (inadvertently) acknowledges that this splitting distorts the will of the voters and hurts his own party in some circumstances. Yet he still persists in opposing MMP, a system designed specifically to end that kind of vote distortion. Could it be that Jason is not all that concerned about the distortion of the will of the voters, as long as it distorts in his party's favor? Surely not. It must be something more noble than that. I am sure he will tell us in due course.
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Polls Mania

As if to prove that comment technology is not infallible, my comment over at Greg Staples place seems to have bee lost in the shuffle. I think the poll is a pretty accurate snapshot of where we are at the moment. It is hardly surprising that the government is up a few points. It has had the stage entirely to itself for a couple of months, with no pesky question period and the keys to the cash box are entirely in its hands. What is surprising and should be troubling to conservatives is we are almost exactly where we were on election day 18 months ago. One would think that with all of the advantages of government and no daily opposition, the government would be higher in the polls, not bumping up against that 36% ceiling (and it is certainly starting to look like a ceiling).
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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Doctor Dawg's MMP Smackdown

At some point I am going to write an entry on the nonsense they are passing for argument over at NoMMP. But, for the time being read Doctor Dawg. As my old history professor, Craig Simpson used to say, "He speaks!"
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Monday, August 13, 2007

Signs And Portents

It is starting to look like the NDP may be a winner in the ongoing civil war within the Liberal Party. Mr. Dion has proved to be a weak leader and it looks like Montreal Liberals are looking to send him a message. Outremont appears to be the place for that message to be sent, with Thomas Mulcair the beneficiary.
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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Why We Are Losing In Afghanistan In Two Paragraphs

From today's New York Times:
When it came to reconstruction, big goals were announced, big projects identified. Yet in the year Mr. Bush promised a “Marshall Plan” for Afghanistan, the country received less assistance per capita than did post conflict Bosnia and Kosovo, or even desperately poor Haiti, according to a RAND Corporation study. Washington has spent an average of $3.4 billion a year reconstructing Afghanistan, less than half of what it has spent in Iraq, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The White House contends that the troop level in Afghanistan was increased when needed and that it now stands at 23,500. But a senior American commander said that even as the military force grew last year, he was surprised to discover that “I could count on the fingers of one or two hands the number of U.S. government agricultural experts” in Afghanistan, where 80 percent of the economy is agricultural. A $300 million project authorized by Congress for small businesses was never financed.
I can shorten the reasons down to two words "gross incompetence". The west has had six years to get this right, yet we let the bozos who brought us the New Orleans catastrophe, lead us into a dead end.
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Saturday, August 11, 2007

More Deception From The No Side

Wow, the anti-reform people sure are organized. They have people standing by ready to distort the reality of MMP at the drop of a hat. The latest outrage comes from one Edelgard Mahant, academic and one-time Liberal candidate, who has ridden in from Toronto to counter a pro-reform piece in the Cambridge Times. Let's catalogue the flights of fancy.

First, Ms. Mahant writes:
The number of constituencies will be reduced to 90. This means that for people living in medium and small towns, such as Cambridge, their local MPP is likely to be far away and will not have time for their problems. And the 39 list MPPs in this model will mostly come from large urban areas, severely hurting rural areas.
This is a lovely bit of scare propaganda. Who would want an MMP who is "far away"? The problem is, it isn't true.

Greg, at Democratic Space has already produced a map showing what a 90 seat legislature would look like. Frankly, if one looks at the Cambridge riding map, one would be hard pressed to see the change in the boundary. As for being "far away", the MPP may live in Brown's Subdivision rather than East Galt, but I suspect most people in Cambridge can handle that difference.

Next, we move into the straw man portion of the article.
As for coalition governments, can anyone really believe that they will reduce voter cynicism? Deals behind closed doors? This is what Belgian and Italian politics is all about. Is that what we want for Ontario? Permanent coalitions where no one party can be held responsible for what the government does?
First of all, I have said repeatedly that MMP is not a panacea. It will not fix cynicism. Only politicians behaving better will do that.

Speaking of cynicism, the phrase "deals behind closed doors" stimulates my inner cynic. Is Ms. Mahant saying that "deals behind closed doors" are not the standard operating procedure of politics in Ontario today and that somehow MMP is going to introduce this to our politics? I think if she came out and said this plainly, she would not get another word out. She would be drowned out by the laughter coming from the voters.

Finally, as for "permanent coalitions", this is an interesting tack. Most of the time, the opponents of reform have been bleating about how we are going to be condemned to minority government. Now we are going to enter a dictatorship of "permanent coalitions". They should make up their minds.

As for accountability, the government will be held to account. The parties that make up the coalition will suffer if the government messes up. It's not like Germany has had one ruling coalition government since WWII. Voters there know who is in charge and hold those people to account. Ontarians are just as smart as Germans.

Ms. Mahant attacks the notion of MMP's equalizing tendency.
As for the myth that MMP will help more women to get elected, that is just that, a myth. Yes, some PR countries where proportional representation is used do have a high proportion of women legislators (Sweden, Norway). But others, usually the larger ones (Italy, Germany), do not. Fully involving women in politics requires profound economic and political changes, changes which Canadian governments have not yet been willing to embrace. There is no quick formula to achieve this desirable end.
In fact, this isn't a myth, but it isn't a fait accompli either. If Ontarians don't value a more diverse legislature, then the parties won't meet that market demand. If Ontarians do, the parties will respond. The market will speak.

MMP is not going to be a magic pill that makes all of our problems disappear. It will however make the job of diversifying the legislature easier (through list mpps) than the present system is.

Finally, Ms. Mahant comes to the end, where she pleads for more time.
Yes, it is possible to improve the quality of democracy in Ontario, but a quick fix change in the electoral system is not the answer. We need to study how to truly involve Ontarians in the politics and the policies that affect them.
This is the plaintive call of all those who want to do nothing. We hear it all the time in issues from the effects of smoking on health, to global warming. "We need more time, more studies". Whenever, I hear that phrase, I know that someone who wants to maintain either their power or place in society is feeling threatened. We have had plenty of study. We have had a Citizen's Assembly. The time for study is over. The time for change is here.
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Friday, August 10, 2007

Ibbitson Asks The Right Question

"Why should anyone trust anything that our government says about Maher Arar any more?"
I would just add a second question: Why should we trust anything our government says about national security any more?
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In Theory

I heard Dwight Duncan on the CBC this morning (the second anti-reform story this week on the CBC) saying that in theory a Premier could refuse to run for a constituency seat under MMP. This is quite true. Did you also know that in theory the Queen can disallow any act of Parliament within two years of its passage (BNA Act Section 56)? Did you know that in theory, the Queen is the commander in chief of the army (Section 15)? Did you know that in theory the Queen can decide to move the capital of the country at her pleasure (Section 16)? As we all know, the reality in all of these cases is different than the theory. Ask yourself what the reaction of the public would be if a leader of a party refused to run for a constituency, in reality? Exactly.
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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Christ On A Crutch

It's not as if I didn't suspect all of this stuff. And still, no one in our security services has been touched by this disgrace. Imagine, the Harper government fought to save the reputation of the CIA. It makes me weep.

Update: Here is the addendum to the Arar Report with the previously blacked out portions in bold.
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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Get Some Perspective

I am starting to get the feeling that people on the nets are projecting too many hopes and dreams onto the MMP debate. MMP is not going to stop global warming, or end world hunger. Nor will it turn politicians into angels. It is what it is -- an electoral system that will more clearly reflect the voters' intentions. If you project more onto it than that, you will set yourself up for disappointment. It will also make the opponents of any reform much stronger because they can cynically point out that the proposed system will fail because it won't turn politicians into angels. Everybody, take a deep breath and look at the proposal. It isn't perfect, but it is an improvement over what we currently have because we will no longer have minority government vested with majority power. That's all.

As usual, the Simpsons shows us what can happen when expectations outstrip reality.

As we all know, this ends badly for Homer (as his schemes always do). That's what happens when expectations do not match reality.
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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Peace In Our Time Watch

Just 10 months into the softwood lumber deal that saw Canada cave on everything, the Americans are coming back to gnaw on the bones. I wonder if our psychotic majesty will give away Vancouver this time.
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What's That Sound?

Why I do believe it is the sound of chickens coming home to roost.
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Condemned To Minorities

I heard the No MMP campaign on the CBC this morning (I expect we will have a Yes MMP piece on any day now, right CBC?). The main thrust of the "message" is that Ontario will be condemned to minority governments. Let me just say that we have always had minority governments in Ontario. We call them majority governments and vest them with absolute power, but there has not been a government with a majority of voter support, since WWII. As for suffering, I will define suffering for you. For Conservatives and Liberals, it was seeing Bob Rae given absolute control of this province with less that 40% of the vote and for the NDP. For NDP supporters, it was seeing Mike Harris strip mining this province when he never had much more than 40% support. The problem the "No MMP" campaign is worried about is not minority government, it is sharing power.
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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Stephen Harper Can't Possibly Get It

Everyone knows that I think Stephen Harper is a psychopath, who seems to think that the state exists only as an extension of his will. While others won't go that far, the realization that Harper believes that all state apparatus should follow his script, without question (even to the point of breaking the law), is starting to dawn on the MSM.
Harper seems to be saying the law is an ass and we're going to get the wheat board out of barley marketing by hook or by crook. This shows Harper's clear contempt for the law, if the law doesn't happen to conform to his world-view.
Guys like Harper are poison in any organization. Sane Tories had better get rid of this guy, before he destroys their party.
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Markets V. Middle Class

The Globe and Mail discovered this morning that without government, the middle class gets slaughtered, in a market economy. Markets are great at creating vibrant economies,there is no doubt, but they are a lousy way to create vibrant, stable and just societies. I am glad the Globe has finally caught on. Ed Broadbent's line, that "We want a market economy, but not a market society." is as true now as it ever was.
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Friday, August 03, 2007

Sending Subtle Messages Through Headlines

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The Dear Leader Is Not Amused

Shorter Harper: To Hell with the courts, to Hell with farmers, I want the Wheat Board gone and gone it will be.

Did you ever get the feeling Harper was born a few centuries too late? The world as it exists now in Canada, with its rule of law and democracy, just wasn't made for a psychotic like our PM. No, he is more of a 16th century Russia kinda guy.
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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Quote Of The Day

From the Regina Leader-Post:
When a judge flattened his prize "crop" this week, federal Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl seemed as surprised as a city slicker watching the hail batter his hobby farm.
Funny, isn't it, that no one but Chuck Strahl and the usual suspects are even mildly shocked by the results?
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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Tories Rally In PEI

Too hard on them? Read this.

Update: Paul Wells is much kinder to the Tories than I am. He calls them "a bunch of chickens", rather than Nazis. I am glad he slammed the RCMP, too. That organization needs more reform and less Reform.
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Let's hear it for Prairie Farmer Survival Day! Chuck may be "surprised" by the ruling (Goddamn liberal activist judges), but when you don't follow the law and make policy on the fly, bad things are bound to happen to you. I realize the psychotic bastard he works for is probably going to beat Chuck to death for his failure to bend the system to his will, but Chuck should see this for what it is, a good day for justice in Canada.
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Tom Flanagan: Super Genius

Tom Flanagan has a plan to get tough with the opposition. Stephen Harper's "Karl Rove" shared his thoughts with the Globe and Mail.
Some MPs said they also want to see their government find ways to get its agenda through the House of Commons. Mr. Flanagan has suggested attaching more confidence votes to legislation to tell the opposition that there will be a steep price to pay for blocking it.
I just bet the opposition is quaking in their boots over that threat. At 30% in the polls and falling, that kind of threat is the political equivalent of holding a gun to your own head and threating to pull the trigger. With advice like that it is no wonder Flanagan is becoming a, shall we say, divisive figure in the party.
But other MPs and strategists were not as keen on the idea.

"Tom always has interesting analysis," said a senior Tory official. "[But] I'm hoping we're going to step back a little bit and work more co-operatively on files."
Ouch. That is what you call a metaphorical pat on the head from someone who doesn't want to be collecting unemployment cheques any time soon.
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