Sunday, August 31, 2008

The More The Merrier

As we embark on yet another pointless exercise in electoral fraud, I want to get something off my chest. I want Elizabeth May included in the debates. Why? Because the more parties involved in this farce, the greater likelihood we will get a "majority" government with a ridiculously low percentage of the popular vote.

I want those Liberals who helped destroy Ontario's chance at getting PR and by so doing pushed the issue off the national radar, to squeal with pain should Harper win a majority with 34% of the vote. Because, make no mistake, if Harper does pull it off, he will run with it. He will rape this country. Then I want to hear the folks at the Star and the Liberal blogosphere talk about how we need the kind of stable government that only FPTP can deliver. Yes I am sure they will be quite effusive in their praise for a system that delivers a phony majority to Psycho Steve.

Now, it may not happen. Harper may let his mask slip long enough for the voters to see the pure evil inside. Dion may be an electoral genius. Layton may yet get his dream and toss the Liberals into the trash heap of history. But none of these things is likely. With four and five way splits inherent in our beloved voting system, anything can and will happen. So, bring on the clowns. Start the music. Let the games begin.
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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dating Tips For Steve

After you have dated someone for a long time (and you and Dion have been going out for over a year), it is totally bad form to dump the relationship via a phone call. This is something you have to do face to face. If your partner keeps putting off the inevitable, you can start a rumour about them being a total skank, but you have to wait to see them face to face to give them the boot. Dumping a long-term steady by phone is considered very rude and if other potential partners hear you did that, you will never get laid again. And face it Steve, aside from Jack and Gilles, no one is beating a path to your door (and they are only coming to see you out of self interest. They don't really love you). I say these things because I care and because I was an adolescent twit once myself.
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Isn't This Exactly Why The Tories Wanted An Election Date Law?

The Tories, when in opposition, bitched constantly about how the Liberals used the timing of elections as a weapon with which to screw them when they were least prepared to fight back. Now that they are in power and despite the fact that they pushed a fixed election date law on Canadians, the Tories have suddenly discovered the efficacy of screwing the opposition when it is down.
The Tory insider said that Mr. Harper and his strategists looked at the landscape – the economy possibly getting worse and Mr. Dion possibly getting better over the next few months – and decided that they had to go to the polls this fall.

“All those factors outweighed the grief they were going to take for breaking their own legislation,” the insider said. “If you let the by-elections take place and you do super well in the by-elections, then it looks like you are an opportunist. If you don't do so well as people expect in the by-elections, you look like the momentum has gone.

“And if you're determined to go … it looks like this is what you do.”
The arrogance of this whole power play is just breathtaking. The chief justification for passing the election date law was to precisely end this kind of governmental advantage. Now, whether we needed this kind of law at all, is a side issue. However, the fact that the very party and government that pushed for this law in the first place is so willing to toss it overboard at the first opportunity, should give all voters pause. This Tory Party will do anything for power. Anything.
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Stephen Harper, Man Of Certainty

From today's Globe:
“Love him or hate him, our Prime Minister knows where he stands on the issues and will offer Canadians certainty,” a senior Tory official said.
Certainty? Ya, like when the election is going to be? Or perhaps the certainty that he will make promises he has no intention of keeping (income trusts anyone?)? Yes, the man fills me with certainty.
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Friday, August 29, 2008

Hey, Air Canada Must Be Using Conservative Lawyers

Apparently, it is legal for Canadian airlines to fly people over water without life vests as long as they stay within 50 miles of a shoreline. Who knew? You just got to love an airline that follows the letter of the law in order to save a few bucks on fuel costs. Remember if you are boarding a Jazz flight with your children, teach them to swim 50 miles first.
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The New Commercial

I finally saw the pre-writ commercial by the Tories. It is pretty slick and contains scads of women (gee I wonder if their polling is telling them that Steve is striking out with the ladies?) singing the praises of the Dear Leader. It was all going so well, until the final frame, whence they show a picture of Steve, in obvious pain, from the guy off camera poking him with a sharp stick, smiling his death's head smile. It was a pretty grim sight. All that was missing was the caption "Stephen Harper. He hardly ever eats human flesh anymore!"
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You know you have a political problem when the Bush Administration has a stronger position on poisoning its own people than you do and you are caught trying to persuade them to your point of view. Can you see the print ads now? A dual picture of George Bush and Stephen Harper, with the caption "Guess which leader has a stronger position on food safety? Hint: He doesn't own a ranch in Texas."

Update: For those of you who have doubts, it looks like many people in Ontario are able to make the connection between poisoned meat and poisoned water.
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Nanos Speaks

I listen. Ontario is going to screw over Psycho Steve. I predict he and his flying monkeys will not take that well.

Almost Instant Update: With numbers like this, the Tories have no choice but to run the dirtiest, screw-the-Elections Act, election campaign in history. It will make the Mulroney "Bomb The Bridge Strategy" of 1988 look like a tea party.
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Thursday, August 28, 2008

And The Clocks Are Striking 13

From today's news:
A senior Conservative source said the party plans to broadcast an announcement each day of the campaign at 6 a.m. from an in-house studio at the party's national campaign headquarters in Ottawa.
The Sinister News Service has discovered footage of a trial run of the first such broadcast, scheduled for the not too distant future. In the trial run, they substituted an unknown chap for Dion's face, but don't worry, when the real election comes, he'll be there, front and centre.

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An Ad I'd Like To See

Close up of a "craps" table. Roller shakes the dice in slow motion. Ominous music in the background. Captions read. "Stephen Harper likes to gamble with Canadian lives. He believes that government has no business regulating things like nuclear reactors, climate change or meat processors. And now he wants Canadians to gamble on another Tory mandate."

The roller throws the dice and the camera follows. The dice come up "snake eyes". You hear a voice in the background say "You lose".

The final caption comes up. "Is that a risk you are willing to take with your family's health?"
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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ballot Question

Are we, as a people, ready to reward a party that let's 89 year old women die of food poisoning, in order to satisfy its own ideological hatred of government?

Update: For my anonymous commenter. Nik Nanos weighs in on what "reasonable" people in Ontario may conclude from this incident. H/t to Impolitical.
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Dun, Dun, Dun

Last Thursday I wrote:
If there are any MSM types out there, perhaps you can ask some food inspectors if they were told to back off and give industry the benefit of the doubt, and if so, when?
Well the good people at the Globe and Mail must have been on the same wavelength because they answered my question today:
And the federal agency responsible for food safety this year began to let the industry conduct its own food testing, The Globe and Mail has learned.

A leaked cabinet document that outlined plans for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to give the food industry a greater role in the inspection process raised the ire of opposition politicians last week.

However, some of the plans have been in place since March 31, according to a CFIA manager and an official from the union that represents the federal inspectors.

At the Maple Leaf plant behind the listeria outbreak, a single federal inspector was relegated to auditing company paperwork and had to deal with several other plants, the manager and the union official said, contradicting the impression that officials had left last week that full-time watchdogs were on-site.
So, the government had already shifted to the Walkerton Model before this outbreak at the Maple Leaf plant. How suddenly very interesting. I wonder if this incident rather than any other, is driving the election timing? I also wonder if the Tories left it a day too late?
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Theme Music For Canadian Politics

Coyne is right. Sigh indeed.

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What Dion Needs To Say

Every time a microphone is shoved in his face, for the next two weeks, is exactly what he said yesterday.
"This is an invention by Mr. Harper to try to trigger an election before he loses the by-elections," he said.

"This is full improvisation, and it shows panic from the Prime Minister."
It is short, sweet and has the added benefit of being true. It also might stop the panic in some of our more easily cowed pundits.

Update: This is no surprise really, but I think Wells has it about right. Harper is the George Costanza of Canadian politics. His default position is angry paranoia and rash actions. Harper is terrible at playing the waiting game and his impatience with the niceties of democracy (like waiting for an actual non-confidence vote) will bring his eventual downfall.
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Monday, August 25, 2008

The Problem Is, Do You Believe Him?

Rob Nicholson said this today, as the Tory government killed Bill C-484:
"We've heard criticism from across the country, including representatives of the medical community, that Mr. Epp's bill as presently drafted could be interpreted as instilling fetal rights. Let me be clear. Our government will not reopen the debate on abortion," Mr. Nicholson said.

"For this reason ... I'm announcing that the government will introduce legislation that will punish criminals who commit violence against pregnant women but do so in a way that leaves no room for the introduction of fetal rights."
Of course, this is the same Rob Nicholson who just a year and a half ago was saying that the Tories would never throw the fixed election date law overboard, so....
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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tories Confused By Their Own Election Law

There seems to be some confusion in Tory circles about the intent of the fixed election date law. The main bone of contention is what happens in the case of a minority Parliament? Tories are saying that Harper is not breaking the law because this is a minority Parliament and the law was only meant to stop "majority" prime ministers from pulling the plug and calling an early election. That is a wonderful and imaginative theory, but that is not what the government's own House Leader and Minister of Democratic Reform (Rob Nicholson) said during the debate on the bill:
I believe all parties share the view that elections belong fundamentally to citizens. They belong to the people. All parties agree with the principle that the timing of elections should not be left to the Prime Minister, but should be set in advance so all Canadians know when the next election will occur.

I will begin with the description of the current process for calling general elections and I will discuss some of the difficulties associated with it. This will be followed by a discussion of the many advantages associated with fixed date elections. Finally, I will be very pleased to present the specifics of Bill C-16.

Currently, it is the prerogative of the Prime Minister, whose government has not lost the confidence of the House of Commons, to determine what he or she regards as a propitious time for an election to renew the government's mandate. The Prime Minister then requests dissolution of the House from the Queen's representative and if the Governor General agrees, he or she proclaims the date of the election.

What we have is a situation where the Prime Minister is able to choose the date of the general election, not based necessarily on what is in the best interests of the country, but what is in the best interests of his or her political party. Bill C-16 would address this problem and would produce a number of other benefits.
That sounds familiar. Has the PM lost the confidence of the House? Nope. That is one point, but there are more.
First, let me discuss the question of fairness.

Fixed date elections would help level the playing field for those seeking election in a general election. With fixed date elections, the timing of the elections would be known to everyone. Since the date of the next election would be known to all political parties, each party would have an equal opportunity to make preparations for the upcoming general election. Instead of the governing party having the advantage of determining when the next election would take place, an advantage it may have over the other parties for several months, all parties would be on an equal footing. It is only fair that each party would have equal time to prepare for the next election and to know when it would be.

Another key advantage of fixed date elections is transparency. Rather than decisions about election dates being made behind closed doors, general election dates would be set in advance, as prescribed by this bill. Once the bill is passed, the date of election will be known by all Canadians.
Does anyone but the PM know when the next election will be held now? Nope. His bill was supposed to fix that too. But wait there's more.

The Tories seem to be hanging their hat on the fact that the bill does say that the law will in no way stop the Governor General from dissolving the House. That is quite true and the truth is, the law had to say that in order for it to be constitutional. However, well let's just have Rob Nicholson explain the original intent of the bill in this area:
I would like to return to the details of the bill. Legislation providing for fixed date elections must be structured to meet certain constitutional realities of responsible government. They include the requirement that the government have the confidence of the House of Commons and respecting the Governor General's constitutional power to dissolve Parliament. The bill before us was drafted carefully to ensure that these constitutional requirements continued to be respected.

The bill does not in any way change the requirement that the government must maintain the confidence of the House. Moreover, all the conventions regarding loss of confidence remain intact.

In particular, the Prime Minister's prerogative to advise the Governor General on the dissolution of Parliament is retained to allow him or her to advise dissolution in the event of a loss of confidence. The bill states explicitly that the powers of the Governor General remain unchanged, including the power to dissolve Parliament at the Governor General's discretion. (emphasis mine)
The intent was to limit the PM's ability to ask the GG for dissolution to only those times when the governing party has lost the confidence of the House. Nicholson is quite clear in the matter and so this law should apply until the Conservatives lose a vote of confidence. To try to weasel out of their obligations under the law because the law itself does not say that a PM can go the GG at any time is, well, weaselly.

Don't get me wrong. I want an election and I want it now. However, I also believe (unlike this government apparently) that the government should follow the law. Harper should bring the House back and put his government to the confidence test. It is what the law has meant for him to do. To do otherwise makes that law (and by extension all laws) merely a suggestion, to be followed or ignored on the whim of the government of the day. Tories may cheer Harper's "boldness" now, but I suspect if they let him get away with this, they may live to regret the actions of some future PM, with whom they do not share an ideological kinship.
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Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Case Of The Missing Inspectors

The other day, I speculated whether the current proposals to hand over food inspection to industry (hereafter known as the "Fox Chicken Inspection Agency")was the end result of earlier moves to change the food inspection system. The union representing food inspectors hints I may be right. From today's Globe and Mail:
Many people working in food inspection have said they are not surprised by the outbreak.

The president of the union representing CFIA inspectors says the agency is so short-staffed that food inspections and follow-up audits simply aren't taking place.

"What is really needed, in my perspective, is a full-blown inquiry on what is happening to the food inspection business in this country," said Michèle Demers, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada.

Ms. Demers said inspectors are warning her that shortcuts cuts are taking place on food safety, but they fear speaking out.

"Inspecting the products before they make it to the stores, before people can actually purchase them, those are the audits that aren't being made, those are the audits that aren't being made because they're too short-staffed," she said.
The next logical questions are, how long has this been going on and who ordered the earlier staffing cutbacks to the agency in the first place?

Update: Kady O'Malley suggests an alternative scenario. She hints that the "proposed" changes (read cuts) have already happened during the course of this year.
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Friday, August 22, 2008

Seven Houses

Obama plays hardball.

Oh and I think the line "He couldn't remember", is inspired. It raises doubts about McCain's mental fitness.
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Sneak Peek At The 2010 Vancouver Olympics

News item: Vancouver opening ceremony must help Harper government 'achieve its domestic and international branding goals,' memo says. The Sinister News Network has uncovered an early proposal for what the opening ceremonies might look like, from the PMO. The note on the bottom of the memo reads "Something like this, only with more emphasis on the leader".

Update: What does this all mean? Maybe nothing. Maybe a lot. If they could get away with it, the government would include a section "honoring our brave men and women serving in Afghanistan" (but they wouldn't have the balls, would they?) and there is no way that the "All Gay Revue" is happening now.
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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Stephen Harper's Very Own Walkerton

With one person already dead and many more expected to get sick from tainted meat, it sure would be a foolish time to suggest that we should cut money from the food inspection system. Psycho Steve had better hope the the official opposition does its usual crappy job, dealing with this issue, or he is in big, big trouble.

Update: The Globe and Mail has a copy of the report that the government will not give to the opposition, so stonewalling no longer seems like a viable option guys.

Update: If there are any MSM types out there, perhaps you can ask some food inspectors if they were told to back off and give industry the benefit of the doubt, and if so, when? In other words the proposed cuts may have been an acknowledgment of an already established change in procedure (why fund an inspection system if we have told the inspectors to back off?) than a precursor to a change.

Update 3: As for the Tory reaction? It seems it is none of our business, but if we are good boys and girls and elect a Tory majority, we will find out. Please Big Daddy, please give me food poisoning!
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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I Didn't Know Steve Was A Legal Scholar

Using Steve's reasoning, we can conclude that drug laws are irrelevant because there is a drug trade and election finance laws are irrelevant because the governing party ignores them.
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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's All About Ethics, You See

“Is it unethical for health-care professionals to support the administration of drugs that are of unknown substance or purity or potency, drugs that cannot otherwise be legally prescribed?” Mr. Clement said in a speech.
If the Health Minister truly believes this, shouldn't he call someone in to investigate this breach of ethics?
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Calling Warren Kinsella

The world (meaning me) is waiting for Warren's reaction to the PM's salvo against Jean Chretien. Psycho Steve had better watch out, he won't like Warren when he is angry.
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Clement And The Doctors

I am sure there will be many who will be puzzled by the Health Minister's turn at the CMA, yesterday, wherein he attacked the ethic of doctors. I am not one of them. Although it seems counterintuitive to be attacking doctors and Insite, there is some logic to the government's strategy.

This government is led by a group that believes in narrowcasting. A proponent of Insite, writing in today's Star, inadvertently gives us a clue into the government's strategy:
Harm reduction programs enjoy broad public acceptance; in Ontario, for example, 60 per cent of adults support safe, supervised drug injection. That level of acceptance rises if these facilities increase drug users' contact with health and social workers.
60% of adults accept harm reduction. That means 40% do not. This is the group the Tories are after. They know that in our "democratic" system, 40% of the vote represents a "majority". Let the other parties go after the majority of the public. The Tories don't care about the majority of the public. They only care about a majority in the House of Commons.
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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Feist And The Monsters

If you don't love this, you probably vote Tory (Plus you are probably wondering whether she got any of "your money" to do this).

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Friday, August 15, 2008

The MSM Still Doesn't Understand

From today's Globe editorial on the "In and Out Hearings":
The Conservatives may be pleased with their role in making a farce of a committee that has them in its sights. But in the process, they have also undermined the entire system that Mr. Harper purports to be concerned about - and not just for the duration of this Parliament. (emphasis mine)
The MSM has to realize that it is the plan of the group of radicals controlling our government to discredit the very idea of government, since they see government as anathema. They know that Canadians do not share that radical view, so they must be conditioned to view government as stupid, wasteful, impotent and seized with insane games playing. Hence the antics this week.

Canadians have the misfortune to be ruled (if one can call it that) by the most radically anti-government party in the history of the country (rivaling the Mike Harris abortion that is still taking lives in Ontario) . Their very actions show that they do not believe in democracy, nor even in the rule of law. They are revolutionaries who want to destroy our nation.

Update: Just in case people are wondering why I am referencing the Harris government, it was their brilliant idea to get government out of the business of regulating propane storage sites (and boilers and elevators, God help us). Industry can do a much better job, n'est pas?
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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Harper: "I'm The Decider"

Really, Psycho Steve needs to stop channeling his hero. He passed a law intending to handcuff future prime ministers when it comes to calling elections. He should live with it or change the law.
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Tory Election Plan?

From today's Globe:
On one positive note for the Tories, the poll suggests that Conservative supporters are more likely than Liberals to actually show up to cast a ballot whenever the election is called.

Fully 73 per cent of respondents who intend to vote for the Conservatives said they are certain to cast ballots. Only 62 per cent of Liberals said the same.
That sounds right to me. The Tories have been ruthless about ruling for their base and attacking the credibility of the Liberals (such as it is). Their one and only hope is to push the turnout to historic lows in the hope of winning by default. What a pathetic group of thugs we have as a government.
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Monday, August 11, 2008

The Tory Art Movement

This poem is more of what the Tories are looking for in art. It is rustic, earthy and promotes rural values (I can even smell the cows). The poem would probably have to be edited to remove the mention of Toronto (and the word "gaily" will have to go), but other than that, it is the height of Conservative Art.

Ode on the Mammoth Cheese
(weight over seven thousand pounds)

We have seen the Queen of cheese,
Laying quietly at your ease,
Gently fanned by evening breeze --
Thy fair form no flies dare seize.

All gaily dressed soon you'll go
To the great Provincial Show,
To be admired by many a beau
In the city of Toronto.

Cows numerous as a swarm of bees --
Or as the leaves upon the trees --
It did require to make thee please,
And stand unrivaled Queen of Cheese.

May you not receive a scar as
We have heard that Mr. Harris
Intends to send you off as far as
The great World's show at Paris.

Of the youth -- beware of these --
For some of them might rudely squeeze
And bite your cheek; then songs or glees
We could not sing o' Queen of Cheese.

We'rt thou suspended from balloon,
You'd cast a shade, even at noon;
Folks would think it was the moon
About to fall and crush them soon.

James McIntyre
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Mr Sinister's Translation Service

The Tories just axed another arts program and the PMO spokesthingee used the following justification:
Kory Teneycke, the Prime Minister's press secretary, declined yesterday to address the decision to close Trade Routes, but noted that Ottawa "spends $3.5-billion on arts funding ... and is spending more on arts than did the previous [Liberal] government. In the case of PromArt, we think the [funding] choices made were inappropriate ... inappropriate because they were ideological in some cases, with highly ideological individuals exposing their agendas or [money going to] wealthy celebrities or fringe arts groups that in many cases would be at best, unrepresentative, and at worst, offensive."
Here is my translation:

"We cut this particular program because some the things funded either questioned the status quo or offended Charles McVety. Oh and by the way, we are better than the Liberals".

Say what you will about the Tories, they know their base. This will be very well received by the Blogging Tories. It's a threefer. It offends the arts elites, the media and the residents of downtown Toronto. As far as the Harperites are concerned, reactions to policy decisions don't get any better than that.
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Saturday, August 09, 2008

From The "Ya Right" File

From today's Globe:
The Harper Tories, who are often accused by the Grits of being too tight with the Republicans, are not saying yet who they are sending to watch Arizona Senator John McCain become the Republican candidate.
Like Jason Kenney would miss a chance to rub shoulders with his political heroes. Here is the the 2004 list: John Reynolds, Stockwell Day, Peter Van Loan, Jason Kenney, Rob Anders and Tony Clement.
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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Why The Conservatives Deserve To Lose Part 2

I realize this could be construed as piling on, but how arrogant do you have to be to disregard the advice of the people you are apologizing to and then stalk off the stage before they even have a chance to deliver their own (PMO approved) speech? Maybe Harper is getting bored with the whole apology of the week strategy? Maybe he just doesn't think Indo-Canadians matter as much to his re-election as the Japanese and Chinese? Whatever the reason, I have always believed that apologizing for historical grievances is a mug's game. Stephen Harper, that political genius, has other ideas. Let the chickens now come home to roost.

Update: How much do you want to bet that Jim Abbott isn't the only BC Conservative calling for a change in direction? The only question left is whether Harper will take one for the team and change his mind?
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Why The Conservatives Deserve To Lose

Making poor Tony Clement look like a complete idiot by supporting the WHO's harm reduction strategy and opposing Insite. Such a position tends to generate such tongue-in-cheek paragraphs as:
Mr. Clement has never clearly stated why the government supports needle exchange and rehab programs but so sternly opposes the existence of a facility where drug users can actually use the safe needles and be encouraged to enter rehab. The sticking point appears to be that, at Insite, drug users cannot be arrested and prosecuted.
The government seems to be like Homer Simpson proclaiming loudly that they love addicts so much that they want to help them, while under their breath mutter to themselves how much they hate them and want them in jail. It would be really funny if it was a sitcom, but these guys are supposed to be running the country and representing Canadians internationally. I know that the WHO is a UN agency and is therefore anathema in the eyes of the Tory base, but it is taken seriously in the real world and so the government might be a tad worried that it is making Canada a laughing stock (yet again) on the world stage.
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Monday, August 04, 2008

Why The Liberals Deserve To Lose

Can anyone imagine the fun the Conservatives are going to have with the Liberal's version of "I was for immigration reform until I was against it"? Of course "progressives" will still be expected to salute this nonsense and claim that this was the plan all along (and condemn the NDP for not seeing the brilliance of the Liberals' strategy).
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Saturday, August 02, 2008

That Sounds About Right

Dennis Perrin on McCain and the politics of race:
Many observers are amazed that McCain would use race this early in the campaign. But really, what choice does he have? McCain's only shot at winning the White House is to stir up as much racial anxiety and fear among American whites as he can. He cannot compete with Obama as a speaker, as a perceived agent of "change," and certainly not as an inspiring symbol. Obama has youth, verve, sexiness, and global appeal. McCain is still bitching about gooks. And yet, that may be his saving grace. It's a vile approach, but it could work. Never underestimate the power of personal racism. A lot of whites might not be crazy about McCain as a man or a candidate, but at least he's not black with a foreign name. You work with what you got.
I agree (not a surprise) with Perrin. McCain only has one card to play and he is playing it. BTW, check out the last paragraph of Perrin's piece, those of you who think Perrin might actually be an Obama shill.
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Mr. Sinister's Public Service

As a public service to my three readers, I am going to provide the script that Peter Van Loan will (I suspect) be using this fall every time someone asks a question about the Bernier Affair:
Mr. Speaker, the Foreign Affairs Department has thoroughly investigated this matter and its conclusions have placed the greater responsibility for this incident on another person. Mr. Speaker, the government, unlike the Liberals, has nothing to hide and that's why we on this side, are always found innocent whenever there is an investigation into our behavior. The government now considers the matter closed and if the official opposition insists on wasting the time and resources of this parliament trying to pursue this matter further, we will conclude they have nothing else to offer the Canadian people and will go to the Governor General to dissolve this House.
There, now you don't have to watch question period in the fall.
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