Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Well, this is a surprise


Friday, November 23, 2007

No Mr. Harper you can not give Mr. Khan back

I guess Liberals can be happy that Wajid Khan decided to take that walk across the House of Commons floor.

It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that Mr. Khan's new troubles with the law would be trumpeted from the rooftops by the Conservatives and their media cheerleaders if he were still a Liberal.

As it stands they will still probably find a way to blame the Liberals for this. It would mean righting off Mr. Khan in the process but they have pretty much written off all of Toronto anyway so what is the harm?

I am certain taking him into the Conservative caucus seemed like a good idea at the time. I wonder what Stephen Harper is thinking now?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bill C-22 is a very bad idea

I have had problems with this bill from the very beginning and I am happy that the Liberals will not be supporting it. My only concern is they are taking that stance for the wrong reason.

I do not see the problem with this bill being the lack of representation for Ontario.

The problem is politicians should have absolutely no say in how the seats of Parliament are distributed. They all have a vested interest in it so they cannot be trusted to make their own self-interest subordinate to that of the nation.

The only thing Parliament should do is pass a law that sets out the broad prinicples and parameters that would be used to determine representation in The House. It should then hand over those principles to an independent agency to implement. That agency would report to Parliament.

Bill C-22 does not do this. It opens up the possibility of politicians gerrymandering provincial representation for their own interests and for that reason this bill needs to die.

What the...!?

Brian Mulroney and his backers must really think Canadians are not very bright to use this defence of him taking money from Mr. Schreiber.

Mr. Mulroney was wealthy before he became PM and then he took a job with a salary of 250K and perks that equal more than 150K a year. How could anybody who spends eight years earning that salary with no mortgage, with no need to pay for gas, groceries, commercial airfare, work cloths, haircuts, utilities and a whole host of other perks be broke at the end of his term?

There were persistant rumours that Mila Mulroney loved her shoes but could she seriously have spent $2 million dollars on shoes?

This issue had pretty much migrated to the back burner. It boggles my mind that Mr. Mulroney and his backers would revive it by making such silly claims.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The opinions of media pundits and a dollar will buy you a coffee

This is why I have absolutely no respect for media in general and media pundits in particular.

When the Gomery Inquiry began Mr. Travers had no qualms about its effectiveness or whether the political parties trying to benefit from it were hurting themselves or the government. He also did not have too many complaints about the issues that were taking a back seat as a result of the focus on that inquiry.

Now we are talking about an inquiry that may find out about a former PM accepting cash payments from one shady character while that former PM was still in office. So how does Mr. Travers react? It is a non-issue, he implies.

I would really love to know if he would say the same thing if, in this affair, the name Mulroney was replaced with the name Chretien? Would he have a different opinion about the inquiry's effectiveness and its impact on the political scene? You are fucking right he would.

Before the Sponsorship Scandal broke the media narrative was Paul Martin would roll over the Conservatives and win one of the biggest majorities in Canadian history. Mr. Travers was one of those who said as much. When the Sponsorship Scandal broke the media narrative changed to Mr. Martin would be lucky to hang onto power. Again Mr. Travers agreed with that narrative.

When the Mulroney-Schreiber affair broke I was wondering if the current media narrative would change as well. This pundit and others that I have read would seem to indicate that it will not.

Ah for the days when the media actually told us what was happening in the world, a narrative was something you only found in a novel and spin was something you did on a midway ride at the local summer fair.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What a terrible week in the Afgan war

Canadian soldiers are dying both in Afghanistan and at home.

Canadian soldiers could have made a terrible mistake.

The Canadian government could have broken
international law and known all about it.

The Taliban is not only sticking around but they appear to be getting
stronger and more dug in.

One of the key allies in the Afghan war could be
knocked out of the war or at the very least be too distracted to be of much use.

The countries that should be leading the efforts in Afghanistan seem to want to do this on
the cheap, which of course, never works.

Finally, the probable
deadline for the end of the mission is fast approaching.

I have always been a supporter of the Afghan mission. I believe that Canada can do good work there. Unfortunately, the prosecution of the mission has gone off the rails, as this week demonstrates, and unless it gets back on track it will fail.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Why can't the Conservatives put some space between them and the Liberals?

That must be a question being asked by a great number of Conservative supporters. I would say the same about the punditocracy as well, since they have been proven wrong over and over again, but doing so would mean I have to assume they have some scruples.

This question is also becoming more relevant as a result of Mr. Mulroney and the impending public inquiry into his actions. Although much of that same punditocracy is arguing that there is no link between Mr. Mulroney's actions and the Conservative Party I argued in my previous post that ordinary Canadians will not necessarily buy that line. So, the problems that Conservatives have been having in gaining consistent breathing room on the Liberals may just become more difficult.

So, that does beg the question as to why, even before The Mulroney Affair, the Conservatives have not been able to grow their support beyond what they achieved in the 2006 election.

Here are some ideas.

Stephen Harper: Mr. Harper is about as cuddley as a porcupine and as charismatic as a turnip. This in itself would not be that bad but he combines those features with a petty, vindictive and mean-spirited style of running the government. I do not say governance because he is not governing. The two together makes him very unappealing to large swaths of Canadians.
Make no mistake, Jean Chretien had the very same petty and vindictive streak but he also had the political instincts to know when to suppress those urges. Mr. Harper either does not have those instincts or he just chooses to ignore them.

The Conservative Party: Since the creation of the new Conservative Party they have lacked any real sense of identity. They have certainly tried to cultivate a brand, as I stated in my previous post and as has been pointed out by knb at
Liberal Arts and Minds. However, I think if you ask anybody what is the identity of the Conservative Party you would receive different answers or blank stares.

The Conservatives have now found themselves in the unhappy situation of having a large number of Canadians who do not trust them because they still do not really know what they stand for. As well, they now have the potential problem of Mr. Mulroney reminding a great deal of folks of just why the "Tory" brand has been tainted over the years. A Party with a tainted brand and no sense of its own identity is rarely successful in the medium to long-term.

The healthy Canadian economy: This one would seem to be counter-intuitive. After all it is convention wisdom that a healthy economy is good news for the government. However, we need to understand that we have now witnessed over a decade of uninterrupted economic good times. Therefore, I believe the Law of Diminishing Returns is rearing its head.

In the period between the late 1960s and the early 1990s the North American economy rarely had economic "booms" that lasted more than 5 years. That meant that just as people were getting comfortable and confident in the economy something would come along and muck it up. That has not been the case in the last 10-12 years. As the economic good times continue so does the sense that they will never end so the electorate is not looking to the government to "fix" the economy. Of course, when the economy does finally hit a bump in the road the party in power at that time will find themselves in some trouble.

As well, despite the Conservatives efforts to convince them otherwise, I believe Canadians do realize that the Liberals had a hand in these good times so they are not necessarily going to give the Conservatives all of the credit for them.

I believe that these three factors are the key factors that explain why the Conservatives are still in the duldrums despite a struggling Liberal Party and a rather satisfied electorate. Unfortunately for them there is not much they will be able to do about any of them in the short-term so they have a cause to be concerned. This is particularly true if The Mulroney Affair takes enough attention off of the Liberals to allow them to get their act together without the distraction of constantly being under the media microscope.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Is Stephen Harper going to have a brown envelope moment?

One of the most enduring and most damning images from the Gomery Inquiry was the testimony about Liberal operatives taking cash payments "in plain brown envelopes" from people who left those envelopes on the table while they went to the bathroom.

Now we have another inquiry where we could have similar imagery. It has already been admitted by Mr. Mulroney and Mr. Schriber that Mr. Schriber gave Mr. Mulroney $300,000 in cash in three installments. Could we hear testimony from Mr. Schriber that he handed over these payments by giving Mr. Mulroney briefcases full of cash?

Brown envelopes and cash filled brief cases both have the image of being underhanded ways to pay off people. They have the image of being methods used by dishonest folks to hide payments for goods and services that are illegal, unethical or immoral. Mr. Schriber's testimony could be interesting to say the least.

There is also the issue of whether the revelations of this inquiry will impact the current government. After all these events took place over a decade ago, where one of the key players was the leader of a now defunct party.

Unfortunately for the Conservatives they and their apologists in the media have been assiduously cultivating, with some success, the image of a Party that is not much different from the old PCPC since the creation of the CPC. They even took on the old party's nickname "Tories". Does anybody think that Canadians that do not follow politics on a daily basis will make the distinction between the former Tory PM and the current "Tory" government?

As well, it is no secret that Mr. Harper's mentor for the past three or four years was Mr. Mulroney. It is not going to take much for Mr. Harper's opponents to remind Canadians of that fact. Hostility to Mr. Mulroney amongst all but his most ardent supporters is never very far below the surface. That can be witnessed by the fact that the GST cuts are so popular amongst Canadians. They know who gave it to them and they have still not forgiven. Having Mr. Mulroney back in the spotlight would be bad enough for the Conservatives. Having him back in the spotlight and being linked personally to Mr. Harper is even worse.

There is no predicting how this inquiry will go. It could turn out to be a boring exercise. However, there is a strong possibility for some fireworks that could burn the current government very badly. And if that imagery of cash filled brief cases comes to pass then the Conservatives will be in big trouble.

As an aside, it would be unfair to link Mr. Harper to the actions of Mr. Mulroney, as many Conservatives are now arguing. However, I would point out to the arguments Conservatives are using to defend Mr. Harper are the very same arguments Liberals used to defend Mr. Martin during the sponsorship scandal.

Payback is a bitch isn't it?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Liberals are to blame for the current Liberal Party troubles

Warning: This a rant against my fellow Liberals who I have found more and more to be undermining the very Party they all claim to support.

If you are not prepared to look inward to see your own culpability in the creation of the current troubles of the Liberal Party leave now. If you are then read on.

The current media narrative is Stephane Dion is a weak leader. This narrative was started by Stephen Harper and it was picked up by the media. The interesting thing about media narratives is they quickly change when they are no longer considered credible. So if in the last few months the only people saying Mr. Dion was a weak leader were the media and the Conservatives the narrative would have begun changing months ago. Unfortunately many Liberals in the blogsphere and those who have media contacts gave credibility to the narrative by agreeing with it. Canadians are smart enough to realize that Stephen Harper is not going to find anything nice to say about Stephane Dion. They are also smart enough to know when they are being fed a bill of goods by the media. However, when they hear Liberals actually buying that bill of goods they begin to believe it. So, if Liberals would have put the kibosh on this narrative months ago things would probably be better for the Liberals. Of course that did not happen. Instead Liberals have given the narrative legs and a life of its own by their own actions.

And keep in mind I am not talking about the "Liberal Party". I am talking about its supporters. The Party has been doing what it can with the limited resources at its disposal to move the Party forward but they are being held back by many in the Liberal blogsphere and by those Liberals who have media contacts.

I can only imagine what the last two months would have been like if Liberals would have rallied around the Party and Mr. Dion after the first installment of the Conservative "Not a leader" advertizement and in the aftermath of the Outrement loss. They would certainly be in a much stronger position and they might just have triggered an election over the economic statement. But you have to forgive a leader of a political party for not doing so when his own supporters are undermining him at every turn. It is bad enough to face your political opponents but when your own supporters attack you as well then you are in a truly unwinnable situation.

Mr. Dion certainly has to take some of the responsibility for the current troubles of the Party but the lion's share of the blame lies with his erstwhile supporters and all of this is beside the point in the final analysis.

That is in the past. Now Liberals must prepare themselves to battle Stephen Harper and the Conservatives, probably in about 4-6 months. So Liberals had better begin focusing on them instead of Mr. Dion if you want to see the Liberal Party regain the government.

The Senate is not going anywhere soon

The blogsphere is all atwitter about the latest alliance between the NDP and the Conservatives to abolish the Senate. It all sounds very important.

The biggest line of bull I have heard is the NDP motion will pass the House because of the NDP and the Conservatives will join forces together and then the Liberals will be embarrassed because the Liberal dominated Senate will vote against it.

Nice theory but it is wrong!!!

The Senate only considers Bills that have been passed by the House of Commons. What the NDP is proposing is a non-binding motion delivered on its Opposition Day. It will never see the inside of the Senate Chamber regardless of its fate in The House.

When Stephen Harper tables an actual Bill to abolish the Senate then we can all worry but that will not happen because he has stated that his preferred choice is to retain it and have the Senators elected.

So calm the f*** down. Like all of these motions it will be a one day story and then disappear.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Thankfully Mr. Dion does not listen to bloggers and the media about election timing

I have seen more than one suggestion by Liberal bloggers and by a newspaper widely regarded as being friendly to the Liberals demand that Mr. Dion bring down the government.

The arguments are that this government should be brought down on a matter of principle as they are taking the country in the wrong direction and/or it makes the Liberals look week. Although I share their concern about the direction of the country I unequivocally disagree with their suggestion that Mr. Dion bring down the government.

The simple truth is the Liberals are not prepared to fight an election at this time. So having an election right now would probably lead to a Liberal defeat. For me that defeats the purpose of bringing down the government based on principles. If the Conservatives were to win a minority government they would have at least 2 years free reign to continue taking the country in its current direction because there would be no way any opposition party would plunge the country into its 4th election in 4 years. Of course, if the Conservatives were to win a majority then we would have four years of watching helplessly as the Conservatives take full advantage of unfettered power. If you believe that the Conservatives are taking the country in the wrong direction now, when they are held back by their minority government status, just imagine what would happen if they did not have that anchor.

Mr. Dion has made the right decisions in the past couple of weeks. The Throne Speech was designed to trigger an election but it did not. If you look at that Speech you will note that the parts that do not threaten the Conservatives can be accomplished in about 6 months, if the Opposition were to put a fight. Of course, the Liberals are not so those parts should be done by Christmas. Then the Conservatives have a choice. Bring forward legislation and votes on the issues where they are on the wrong side of public opinion or go back to drifting as they were doing last Spring.

Either way they will not be able to build their support during that period and they will eventually have to bring forward measures that will allow the opposition to defeat them on their terms and not Mr. Harper's. The Harper government has been denied its preferred method of suicide so now they will have to await their fate from the opposition.

In politics, as in life, people of good conscience sometimes have to make the difficult decision of delaying the right course of action in the short-term because to wait will bring greater benefits in the medium and long-term.

That is the decision Mr. Dion has made and it is the right one.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Dion blog idea is gathering steam

Just go to Red Tory's place to see the Stephane Dion blog bandwagon begin to roll.

Of course there are some issues that have been brought up by many people who have commented at Red's place.

One is the idea of what Mr. Dion would do about comments. My answer is nothing. Mr. Dion should write the original post and then let the comments fly. He should respond only sparingly if at all. His very first post should explain that he is using the blog to let people know about his ideas and opinions on a whole host of issues and then he will let Canadians use his blog to debate those ideas and opinions. As well, he can state that he will use the blog to explain some of the decisions he makes and let Canadians debate the merits of those decisions.

Such an approach has many advantages, not least of which maybe some actual debates amongst Canadians about issues that are important to them. It would certainly be a change from the nonsense that currently passes for "debating the issues".

Another advantage is such debates always bring out the trolls. Such a situation would be advantageous as ordinary Canadians, and much of the MSM, may actually visit the blog of the Leader of the Official Opposition and they might actually see some of the BS that the Blogging Tories and their ilk spew on the Internet. Some of the hate filled, bigoted and loony opinions of these cementheads would be very difficult to take for most Canadians and very difficult to ignore for the MSM. After a very short while, I would wager, the trolls would stay away in droves, on orders from Conservative Party HQ.

Another question is what would he blog about? Well, what do we blog about? I stated in my first post on this idea that Mr. Dion should blog about whatever topic strikes him that day. Politics, sports, literature, whatever. The idea is to let Canadians see a side of Mr. Dion that is denied them by the many filters in the media world. Of course, being a politician he has to be careful and choose his words carefully.

A third question is how often should he blog? It should be a semi-regular blog I would think. At least three times a week. One of the things that would create some buzz about the blog is if he lets out some juicy details about some of the things he sees around him on a daily basis. I wonder how things might have been different if he would have used a blog instead of the MSM to announce his decision on whether to support the mini-budget along with the explanation of his decision. The MSM would have no choice but to visit the site, acknowledge that they got the information from the site and not spin the reasons for the decision because they are all there for anybody with a computer and an Internet connection to see, straight from the horse's mouth.

In my first post about this topic I suggested that any Liberal blogger who might have some contacts in Mr. Dions office (Jason Cheriak I am looking in your direction) might reach out to those contacts to pass along this suggestion. I am making that suggestion again.