Sunday, January 31, 2010

Thank You Ralph Surettes For Proving There Are a Few Good Journalists Left

There is a very good book available, possibly at your local library. (I bought mine used off

It was written by Trevor Harrison on the rise of Stockwell Day, entitled; REQUIEM FOR A LIGHTWEIGHT: Stockwell Day and Image Politics. You can read a review and the first chapter here.

I would have liked to have said the rise and fall of Stockwell Day, but since he is now poised to turn this country inside out; it could very well be us taking the fall.

However, what's interesting about Mr. Harrison's revelations, is the idea of image politics and the creation of a political leader. He wrote this before Stephen Harper and Danielle Smith were household names.

For all of the 'hype' about Stockwell Day's accomplishments by the various media, in the spring of 2000 he was an untested politician of modest accomplishments, a meager national profile, and enough controversial baggage to fill a Ryder truck. Yet, a few months later, he was leader of Canada's newest political party, a rising star in the new right firmament. How this came about is the question that sets in motion Trevor Harrison's Requiem for a Lightweight.

From his days as an Alberta politician, to the transformation of the Reform party into the Alliance party, to the high-point of Day's coronation as Alliance leader, to the 2000 federal election, to the debacles of early 2001 that shattered the Alliance dream: this book chronicles it all--the people, personalities, and politics.

The disastrous Goddard lawsuit that cost Alberta taxpayers roughly $800,000, and the series of very public gaffes that began Day's quick slide into political oblivion, is laid out in detail. The disenchantment directed at Day, the ongoing infighting within the party, the resignations leading up to the breakaway of eight MPs: nothing yet published anywhere has adequately put together this story, fascinating from start to finish.

Throughout, the question of media image is placed front and centre as this book explores the growing problem of rational democratic politics in an era of celebrity, image, and instant culture.

All of these statements could very well apply to Stephen Harper. Like Day he was nurtured by Conrad Black, moulded by the Calgary School and promoted by the Fraser Institute. They take someone with narcissistic qualities who will feed off the attention and power. It also may have been a plus in the case of Day and Harper, that they had strong religious convictions, so they wouldn't let things like scientific knowledge or common decency get in the way. And both of these men had extremist pasts, so wouldn't be afraid to get their hands dirty.

I call them political sociopaths.

I don't believe Danielle Smith fits, but as a journalist and television personality her views were always right-wing libertarian. Of note though, is that Pierre Poilievre is one of their creations, and though young now, he is definitely being groomed.

I often get angry with our media for allowing this to happen, but the fact is we helped. I have been noticing a bit of a change though as many are remembering why we found Stephen Harper scary in the first place; before the days of his taxpayer funded image consultants and $400.00 haircuts. We got a sense of his sinister side, and said not on your life.

But his rise to power was not so much because of him, but because of Adscam, that was founded by Brian Mulroney and capitalized on by the Liberal bureaucracy of the day.

I voted NDP in 2004 and 2006. I've now joined the Liberal team for the first time since Pierre Trudeau. But I'm a Canadian first and am now motivated to getting our country back, and making sure that we don't get blindsided by pure evil again. So pick a progressive team and make sure you vote, then hold their feet to the fire, to make sure they put us first.

Journalist Ralph Surettes, wrote an excellent piece for the Halifax ChronicleHerald, and while he took a lambasting for it judging by some of the comments, I'm so glad he was brave enough to say the things that need to be said. I hope more in the media will speak up.

When two of their numbers were held hostage by Stephen Harper the other day, one suggested that he had to write for his Harper supporters as well as sane Canadians. Could you please explain to me, how what happened to them, can be written off as unbiased reporting. In my day that was called kidnapping.

So my hats off to Mr. Surettes. I may just have to give him a Joe Canadian Award, for putting us first. I'm definitely going to email him, and thank him for his courage. You can too, here: .

Democracy under assault: time to wake up
January 30, 2010

I HATE to be grim, but there’s this gnawing question in the air: Is democracy in trouble? If so, what does it mean? In both Canada and the U.S., what’s transpiring is astonishing.

In Canada, Stephen Harper unilaterally shuts down Parliament with an astounding rationale: Parliament is just a bother, an impediment to doing real work, and people don’t care if it’s shut down. You’ll remember that this is the language used by generalissimos plotting coups: Democracy doesn’t work — it’s just a bunch of squabbling factions, scheming intellectuals and protesting students — so authoritarian measures are needed to break the logjam and get things done ....

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