Monday, November 23, 2009

How Do You Keep Karl Rove Off Parliament Hill?

And the answer to that question. Get the Reformers off the Hill!!!

For any of you who don't know, Karl Rove is one of the most despicable men on the planet. He helped George Bush steal an election and is responsible for some of the dirtiest politics known.

He once distributed a push poll when Bush was running against John McCain for leadership of the Republican Party, that asked the question: "If you found out that John McCain had an illegitimate child with a black woman, would your opinion of him change?"

McCain's wife had adopted a little girl from Africa, who was included in family photos, but those pictures and that seed of doubt did the trick.

Of course Stephen Harper and his Reformers, use the same tactics. In fact, Harper's campaigns have been handled by a Republican pollster, John McLaughlin, and another Republican Frank Lutz, is still working behind the scenes.

Don Newman recently stated that he noticed politics got a whole lot dirtier when the Reform Party first entered Parliament, and an American journalist noticed a change in our political discourse when Stephen Harper became Prime Minister.

Now we are seeing similar tactics used by the Harperites, when dealing with sticky situations. And of course the media is complicit in the nonsense, because they not only condone it, they promote it.

The Globe and Mail even ran a headline that the character assassination of Richard Colvin is working, meaning that the Ref-Cons will only step up their attack. Shame.

What's also interesting is that while Peter MacKay is suggesting that there is no proof of torture because Colvin didn't witness it personally, he claims that the opposition are supporting "people who throw acid in the faces of schoolchildren and who blow up buses of civilians in their own country." Did he personally witness any member of the Taliban throwing acid in the faces of children or blowing up buses? How does he know that the Karzai government didn't do it, or the Americans?

He would probably argue that he just knows. Well... you don't have to see it for yourself to know that it's happening, and MacKay's argument is weak to say the least.

Tories using smear-your-opponent U.S. Republican-style tactics, say Grits and NDP PM Stephen Harper's government is using 'boiler-plate wedge politics' and 'poisoning the well' of Canada's political culture.
November 23, 2009

The Harper government is using smear-your-opponent tactics borrowed from the U.S. Republican Party that are "poisoning the well" of Canada's political culture, NDP and Liberal MPs say.

They cite as one instance Defence Minister Peter MacKay's (Central Nova, N.S.) heated responses in the Commons to allegations last week the government tried to cover up knowledge that Canadian troops handed detainees over to Afghan forces during the early stages of the Kandahar mission knowing there was evidence the prisoners would be tortured.

The allegations from Canadian intelligence officer Richard Colvin, made in testimony at the Commons Committee on Justice and Human Rights, included charges that senior government officials up to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) office were aware of the information but suppressed it and instructed him to keep it out of official internal memos.

Although aspects of the Afghan prisoner controversy first became public in 2006, and the government later instituted a new prisoner transfer agreement with the Afghan government, Mr. Colvin's claim of a cover-up added a new and potentially damaging charge, one which Mr. MacKay was determined to defuse the minute it hit the Commons floor following Mr. Colvin's testimony.

Mr. Colvin said he spoke to four of the detainees claiming abuse and admitted he was certain only one had been handed over to the Afghans by Canadians, but he referred also to information from other sources, including the Red Cross. Mr. Colvin told the committee many of the prisoners were farmers, truck drivers and peasants "in the wrong place at the wrong time" but others likely did carry arms for the Taliban, possibly for pay or under coercion.

In fact, at the time, the Foreign Affairs Department referred to some detainees in the Kandahar prison where they were taken as "political prisoners" and Canadian Forces also referred to its detainees as suspected Taliban supporters.

"According to our information, the likelihood is that all the Afghans we handed over were tortured," Mr. Colvin told the committee.

When the opposition seized on his allegations of a cover-up and wider Afghan abuse of prisoners Mr. MacKay responded with an accusation that Liberal MP Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, Ont.) was relying on testimony from "people who throw acid in the faces of schoolchildren and who blow up buses of civilians in their own country."

Mr. MacKay said the opposition was relying on "second and third hand information and Taliban information."

The claims prompted NDP Leader Jack Layton (Toronto Danforth, Ont.) to recall the government's attacks against the opposition during a 2007 controversy over detainees, when Harper accused then Liberal leader St├ęphane Dion (Saint-Laurent-Cartierville, Que.) of sympathizing with the Taliban. Conservative MPs at the time also derided former NDP MP Dawn Black in similar fashion, heckling her as "Burqa Black" and "Taliban lover" during Question Period.

"I can understand the leader of the opposition and members of his party feel for Taliban prisoners; I just wish they would show the same passion for Canadian soldiers," said Mr. Harper said to Mr. Dion. The claim shocked the opposition and Mr. Dion demanded an apology, saying Mr. Harper had "insulted the entire Parliament."

The opposition response was similar after Mr. MacKay's latest charge that the opposition was relying on evidence from Taliban terrorists as they pressed the government about Mr. Colvin's cover-up allegations.

"This is McCarthyism, this is absolute McCarthyism," Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh (Vancouver South, B.C.) said in reference to the 1950s-era Republican Senator who was eventually censured for widespread and unbelievable allegations of Communist sympathy in the United States. "This is absolutely unthinkable, that a Canadian minister would accuse those who want to restore and protect the reputation of this great country of being Taliban sympathizers. I can't comprehend that."

NDP Leader Jack Layton (Toronto Danforth, Ont.) cited the response as being among the reasons the opposition is demanding a public inquiry into Colvin's claims. "These are very, very serious allegations and the government is attempting to sweep them under the rug and divert attention by calling those who raise questions names," he said.

The opposition says the governing Conservatives have mastered more-recent Republican-style wedge politics in attacks against their Commons opponents, including the use of flyers suggesting the Liberal party supports anti-Semitic groups and other flyers that targeted opposition MPs for allegedly supporting the federal gun registry.

Liberal MP and former justice minister Irwin Cotler (Mount Royal, Que.), who is Jewish, claimed Conservative flyers distorting the Liberal position on anti-Semitism, terrorism, and Israel were circulated in his Montreal riding, which like others where similar flyers were circulated, includes a large Jewish population. Among other things, the flyer claimed Mr. Cotler and other Liberals participated in a conference in Durban, South Africa, that took on anti-Israel tones. Mr. Cotler, as he argued the flyers breached his Parliamentary privilege, pointed out Liberals and other Canadian MPs went to Durban to attend a world conference against racism, but it became a controversial conference dominated by anti-Semitic and anti-Israel sentiments.

In the case of Conservative flyers targeting opposition MPs over the gun registry, Commons Speaker Peter Milliken (Kingston and the Islands, Ont.) ruled there was evidence, on the surface of a complaint from Nova Scotia NDP MP Peter Stoffer (Sackville-Eastern Shore, N.S.), that a Conservative flyer on the topic circulating in his riding may have breached his Parliamentary privilege.

The circular under the name of Saskatchewan Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, Sask.) claimed Mr. Stoffer had voted in favour of the registry—even though he has consistently opposed it—and also included false allegations about Mr. Stoffer's position on the registry. On a motion from Mr. Stoffer, the House agreed to send Mr. Vellacott's possible breach of Mr. Stoffer's Parliamentary privilege to the Procedure and House Affairs Committee for an inquiry.

"This is boiler-plate wedge politics," says NDP MP Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre, Ont.). "We've seen this used with the Republicans in the States; I'm sure they've been sharing how to take that kind of approach, during the (U.S.) health debates they've been using it. But this goes back further, that's how the Republicans gained a lot of ground. It poisons the well of our political culture."

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