Thursday, March 31, 2011

Liberals Now Rolling in the Dough and a Relaxed Ignatieff Looking Better All the Time

According to the Globe: Liberals trumpet ‘unbelievable’ campaign fundraising gains
Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals have raised $1-million in the first four days of the federal election campaign – as much as they did in the first three weeks of the 2008 campaign under Stéphane Dion, according to the party president.

Alfred Apps suggests a combination of daily policy announcements as well as new television ads – which are playing in heavy rotation in Ontario, British Columbia and Manitoba – are contributing to the increase. “It’s wild,” he said. “Unbelievable.”
I think it's completely believable. Harper went out the gate an angry man and seems to be just getting angrier as the campaign continues.

I think we may have a race.

Is it Wise For Harper to Anger the Media so Soon?

The showdown between Stephen Harper and the media is already becoming heated. For five years they've been shut out, and now when he's asking Canadians to trust him with a majority, he's proving that we can't trust him at all.

Hiding from the press is just another sign that it will be the same old, same old.

After several days, it is clear his daily schedule is carefully designed to minimize political risk. Harper has not done any “walkabouts” on city streets where average voters can meet him. Moreover, the photo-ops with voters — such as at a seniors’ home and a deli — have been pre-arranged. Also, people who attend rallies must be on a list to gain entry to the event.

Mr. Harper only provides one news conference per day, and it is specifically designed to ensure that it is not free-wheeling. Journalists who are travelling with his campaign tour are, as a group, only allowed to ask four questions. One more question goes to a local journalist at the news conference. On Thursday, Mr. Harper was asked to explain why — when Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and NDP leader Jack Layton provide news conferences with no limits on questions — he insists on no more five questions.

Mr. Harper chose not to answer that question and moved on to the next questioner.
Week one: Lies and secrets.

Stephen Harper Says Coalition is the Only Way to Avoid a One Party State

Terry Milewski has an interesting piece, reminding us that Stephen Harper once thought that coalitions were the only way that we could end one-party states. Ending Canada's 'benign dictatorship'
So, let's consider that obscure but intriguing article, written in 1997 by two brainy conservatives, Tom Flanagan and Stephen Harper. Yes, it calls Canada "a benign dictatorship." Oh, and it's a passionate defence of coalition governments.

That's right: the whole article is a detailed, persuasive and deeply-researched plea for governments to be forced to compromise with opposition coalitions. That's the only way, said Harper and Flanagan, to curb the tendency to a "one-party state" induced by Canada's "winner take all" system. At the time, Harper was on a break from active politics, working at the National Citizens' Coalition. When he returned as Opposition leader, Flanagan became Harper's chief of staff in 2003 and became campaign co-chair in the 2004 election.
And they further suggest that: "a strategic alliance of Quebec nationalists with conservatives outside Quebec might become possible, and it might be enough to sustain a government."
A Quebec nationalist isn't necessarily a separatist. They're not the same thing. But "nationalists" don't have a party in Parliament; separatists do. The article does suggest that conservatives might have "little choice" but to deal with the separatist party — the Bloc — as the only political formation able to join such an alliance where it counts — in Parliament — along with the Reform and the PCs.
I think I'll send this to Joe Preston.

We Need to Also Make the Nortel Disability Pension an Election Issue

A classic case of corporations over people.

Thank you Ryan Dolby. A Real Canadian Hero. And Joe Preston. Give it a Rest.

Yesterday, the NDP candidate for the Ontario riding of Elgin-Middlesex-London, Ryan Dolby, pulled out of the race for the May 2 federal election, and will throw all of his support to the Liberal candidate Graham Warwick, to take down Conservative Joe Preston.

Of course Preston is suggesting that it's proof of a coalition.

He needs to get off that nonsense. It's proof that democracy may be alive and well in Canada after all. Besides there's actually a group pushing for a coalition, so he might want to rethink his strategy.

Stephen Harper's New Environmental Plan is to Keep Canadians in Stitches

The Globe ran a story today under the headline 'Lower Churchill Project a 'Big Chance' to make climate gains, Harper says.' The comments make better reading than the story, which is difficult to read with tears in your eyes from laughing at the notion of Harper caring about the environment. Too hypocritical for words.

They've since change the heading but you can still see it in the address. It's now Harper wooing Newfoundland ‘with Quebeckers’ money’.

You can read the article if you want, but the best reading is in the comments.

Pierrio: "So climate exists in Newfoundland where hydroelectricity is produced, but not so in the Alberta tar sands. Ain't that convenient."

Sunnyfish: "So Harper believes in Climate Change now? What is going on? Next I am expecting him to concede that the world isn't 6000 years old. Nah, his head would probably spin around and that makes for a poor image."

Merkin: "Harper and climate change! hahahahahahahahahaha. I'm convinced he's listening to the voices in his head now."

Thay_T: "Well we know a promise from The Right Honourable Prime Minister is as good as his word. Oh.... about those Income Trusts........ Before he takes on climate change, I think it's up to Canadians to deal with changing the climate in Ottawa".

BCFORME: "Listening to Harper preach about climate change is like listening to Joseph Stalin lecture about human rights.".

Toronto Elite: "Harper's legacy. Another day another lie.".

Free Me: "Harper talking about Climate Gains. I giggled. A lot."

Gs5: "Harper's Policy Platform: coalition,.... Coalition,..... Coalition,.......Coalition..........."

King Buzzo the First: "For the past 30 months, the Harper Gov. met 1100 times (!) with big oil lobbyists. Yes he cares about the environment, don't worry."

We win two colossal fossil awards for sabotaging climate change negotiations and now he's concerned about the environment. What a joke. The new heading only flames Western-Quebec rivalries. Good job Globe and Mail.

The Liberals are Narrowing the Gap. Is This a Shift? I Hope So

News in the Globe this morning is that the Liberals have narrowed the gap with the Conservatives to six points. The first real dramatic shift since the campaign began.

Harper backing down from the one on one debate that his supporters saw as his throwing down the gauntlet, will no doubt further diminish his support.

The Liberals have also produced a series of post cards 'Wish you were here', that highlight 'fake lake' and the 'Clement gazebos'. Sheer waste of tax dollars.

There is an excellent piece in the Globe, written by Henry Mintzberg, Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies at McGill University, in which he asks: Conserving Canada or a Conservative Canada?
We have had wave after wave of attack ads, carrying the gutter politics of the Bush-Cheney-Rove gang into Canada. At the Copenhagen conference on global warming, Canada became the laughingstock of the world. Our government has questioned personal choices about abortion but not about guns. The oil companies received huge tax cuts, and there were moves to bring in a Fox News North (to replace the CBC?). The Prime Minister has exhibited contempt for parliamentary procedure while his appointments have been embroiled in one scandal after another. This is a pattern in actions if I ever saw one, and it points to exactly the strategy a Conservative majority would pursue
A letter in the Stratford Beacon Herald is headed: Harper majority? No thanks! Well worth a read.

Another poll from Elections Meter suggests that Michael Ignatieff is beginning to win the favour of voters. And his education plan is earning some moderate respect. At least he has a viable one.

The following video is very good. Citizen activism is growing especially in the social media. I think that will help to turn things around. Let's hope so.

Stephen Harper's Social Contract. Are we Really Prepared For This?

In June of 2004, when it looked like Stephen Harper's newly formed 'Conservative' Party might win the upcoming election, journalist Frances Russell asked her readers, if voters were really prepared to give this party a mandate for radical change.
Are voters so angry they are prepared to relive the trauma of decades-old searing national debates on a woman's right to control her own body and the death penalty? Are voters so determined to get "change" they are willing to jeopardize the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and his spin doctors are working overtime to convince Canadians he and his party are mainstream. But you don't need the Liberal attack website to measure the paradigm shift the Harper Conservatives plan for Canada.(1)
Indeed it was his party's attack on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that resulted in their losing the election.
Mr. Harper's antagonism to the charter is fundamental and well-documented. He said this week he would propose for the top bench only candidates who agree courts must defer to Parliament. "The role of the court is not to invent rights that are not in the Charter."
He was on record many, many times opposing the Charter and the judiciary:

"1 share many of the concerns of my colleagues and allies about biased 'judicial activism' and its extremes. I agree that serious flaws exist in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms." (Globe and Mail June 13, 2000)

"I consider the notwithstanding clause a valid part of the Constitution." (Canadian Press March 15, 2004)

"Right from the beginning, the charter has been controversial. There were a large number of politicians who did not support that approach to civil liberties. They prefer the traditional approach of common law and parliamentary supremacy." (Kitchener-Waterloo Record Sept. 29, 1994)

Just because he no longer speaks of these things, does not mean that he does not still hold those views. And as Russell stated: "Consider how all this would play out with the possible reinstatement of capital punishment by a Conservative government. The high court would almost certainly strike it down as unconstitutional, inviting the use of the notwithstanding clause." Ultimate power to a government of one.

There is an excellent new book, written by Christian Nadeau, Rogue in Power, that will serve well as an election primar. It does not contain ad hoc statements like 'Harper is an idiot' (guilty as charged), but is just a practical, yet fundamental assessment of this movement. And it is a movement, as confirmed recently by Conservative MP Rob Anders.

This is something that every Canadian should be concerned with, even Conservative supporters. Are we ready for this?

In his now famous 2003 Civitas Society speech, he outlined his plan.
Harper distinguished between two versions of conservatism. The first, economic conservatism, attaches vital importance to individual freedom, and therefore promotes private enterprise, free trade, religious tolerance, and legal limits on government action. The other type of conservatism, inspired by Edmund Burke, argues for respect for customs and traditions, especially religious traditions. To achieve this goal, unbalanced moral standards and misconduct need to be corrected through moral and legal sanctions.(2)
In other words, he would like to legislate morality.

This comes as no surprise. One of the founding members of the Civitas Society was the late Ted Byfield, who was also one of the founding members of the Reform Party. Byfield once claimed that the only thing the government should legislate is morality.

This was a deliberate move away from the Libertarian principles of individual freedom. You are only free if you do as you're told.

Stephen Harper is an ideologue, who believes that if we go back to the 1950's and search for the lives portrayed by shows like Father Knows Best or Leave it to Beaver, then everyone will be happy. We won't sin, we won't commit crimes, and if we do we will not be rehabilitated, but severely punished.

- We will rise out of poverty through hard work.
- We will become better citizens if we all convert to Christian fundamentalism.
- We will no longer "choose" to be gay, but can be cured.
- Women will stay home, stay married, and look after their own children.

And perhaps more importantly women will have those children.

They've defunded family planning, so the only plan is for "married couples" to have very large families. But as Gloria Steinham said recently, the Right's belief is that "life begins at conception but ends at birth". Don't be expecting no government hand outs.

This is social engineering.

Tom Flanagan in his book Harper's Team, admits that Canada is not a right-wing conservative country, but that "it can be governed by conservatives as long as they know what they are doing".
Hence Flanagan has formulated a series of precepts aimed at gaining power (the Ten Commandments of Conservative Campaigning), which he describes in his book. According to him, the Conservative Party must avoid useless internal arguments and instead seek unity, which implies moderating its political objectives and directing its actions towards making slow but sure progress. The caution is only strategic, as the party's political ambitions can and should be set quite high. When the Conservatives do form the government, says Flanagan, a hard line is required. (2)
And whether we want to admit it or not, in the five years that Harper has held power, he has radically changed how we do business. We have lost our standing in the world as evidenced by our loss of the UN Security seat, for the first time in our history.

And if you need further evidence of how he has undermined our democracy and time-honoured institutions, you can pick up an Australian newspaper. They know.

The good news is that we are no longer boring. The bad news is that until then, the Australians are singing "Oh Canada, we cry our hearts for thee."

So again I ask: Are we really prepared to give this man another mandate? Or more importantly, are we prepared for the consequences?


1. Harper Hides His Social Agenda, By Frances Russell, Winnipeg Free Press, June 11, 2004

2. Rogue in Power: Why Stephen Harper is remaking Canada by Stealth, By Christian Nadeau, Lorimer Press, 2010, ISBN: 978-1-55277-730-5

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How Bad is it When an Australian Newspaper Bemoans the Loss of Our Democracy?

An Australian Newspaper is running a piece on Canada under the headline: Canada watches its democracy erode

We're not even watching, we've just turned our heads and refuse to see what is right in front of us.
Edmund Burke noted that all that was necessary for evil to triumph was for good men to do nothing. Canadians are certainly good and worthy folks, but they suffer an excess of civil obedience, politeness and lack of civic rage that could be harnessed to combat political atrophy. At a time when Arabs risk life and limb for political freedoms, Canadians seem largely apathetic about the erosion of their democracy. The centralisation of power in the hands of the prime minister and political staffers - with the resulting diminution of the role and status of cabinet, parliaments and parliamentarians - is common to Anglo-Saxon democracies in Australia, Britain, Canada and the US, but the extent to which constitutional conventions, parliamentary etiquette and civil institutions of good governance have been worn away in Canada is cause for concern.

A minister told parliament she did not know who had altered a document that cut funding to a foreign aid group. Later, she admitted to ordering the changes, but did not know who had carried out the order. Lying to parliament, a cardinal sin of Westminster-style democracy, has become a political tactic. Following rulings by Speaker Peter Milliken, for the first time in Canadian history, the government and a minister have been found to be in contempt of parliament for withholding information and misleading the house.

The Integrity Commissioner was so inept that she failed to uphold a single one of more than 200 whistle-blowing complaints. Forced out of office by the ensuing public outcry, she was awarded a $C500,000 severance package on condition that neither she nor the government talk about it. That is, a public servant paid by the taxpayer was financially gagged by yet more taxpayer money to stop taxpayers finding out what was going on.

When a foreign service officer blew the whistle on the Canadian military handing over detainees to Afghan security forces, in likely violation of international humanitarian law, the government tried to destroy him and refused to give documents to a parliamentary inquiry. The Speaker reminded the government parliament controlled cabinet, not the other way round. After the last elections, when the opposition parties were close to agreement on a coalition majority government, rather than face the house in a vote of confidence, Harper talked the governor-general into shuttering parliament for a month until he shored up his own support.

When the time came to choose a new governor-general, Harper opted for someone who had carefully drawn up terms of an inquiry commission to exclude the potentially most damaging aspects of a scandal involving a former conservative prime minister. Four conservatives have been charged with exceeding campaign spending limits in the 2006 election that put Harper into power. A minister used public office and material to pursue party-political goals of courting ethnic vote banks for the conservatives.

Having come into office on campaign promises of greater transparency and accountability, Harper has silenced civil servants and diplomats, cynically published guidelines on how to disrupt hostile parliamentary committees, and suppressed research that contradicts ideologically-driven policy, for example data that show crime rates to be falling. Judges who rule against the pet causes of the government's ideological base are not immune to attacks from cabinet ministers. Civil society groups that criticise any government policy or ideology risk loss of funding and hostile takeovers by boards stacked with pro-government ciphers.
If they know all this in Australia, what is wrong with Canadians?

We should be ashamed.

Harper Running Scared is Back in His Bubble

The first few days out, Stephen Harper tried something different. He took questions from the media.

But they had him in knots, so he's back to campaigning in a bubble with human props.

4 questions a day for those travelling with him (why bother?), 1 for the local media, salute and turn right. Rinse and repeat.

No wonder Canadians are starting to warm to Michael Ignatieff. He'll talk to anyone, even hecklers. How refreshing.

The Real Reason Fantino's Liberal Opponent Jumped Ship

The sign can be purchased at They have lots of cool stuff.

The news today was that Fantino's former rival in Vaughn had jumped ship and joined the neocons. But as it turned out he was dumped by the Liberals and for good reason.
Prior to entering politics, Genco had been the head of Downsview Park, a federal agency set up to develop federal land in the middle of Toronto. The federal information commissioner is investigating several refusals to release Genco’s expenses and other files related to his time as head of the agency.
They can have him. Has anyone been keeping track of all the undesirables working for Harper's candidates? Not to mention the two candidates out in B.C. who had declared bankruptcy before running so were disqualified. They've got This guy:
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is distancing himself from another tainted political organizer who found a home in a local candidate’s campaign. Giulio Maturi, who was a top official in the campaign of disgraced former Montreal mayoral candidate Benoit Labonté in 2009, was listed as late as Wednesday afternoon as the campaign manager for a Montreal Conservative candidate.
And this guy:
Conservative campaigners are flying in from all over the country. Money is gushing northward from safe ridings in Calgary.
For two years, the unelected Ryan Hastman has been handing out Government of Canada cheques all over the city. He's has been working full-time since June 2009 to undo the great humiliation, the ugly aberration, the icky fluke, the disaster, the horror, the slime, the evil. The Conservatives must win back Edmonton-Strathcona. So why was Sebastien Togneri, a disgraced senior official, working for Hastman?
I think Warren Kinsella says it best.

Harper Finally Accepts Ignatieff's Challenge for a Debate. Sort of.

A few days ago Michael Ignatieff challenged Stephen Harper to a debate, and Harper has finally accepted. Sort of.

It's odd that this item implies that Harper is laying down the gauntlet, but I think it's Sun News. They're paid to lie.

Harper challenges Ignatieff to debate showdown

What I did find interesting was his comment:
"We could also have a debate between Mr. Ignatieff and myself, since, after all, the real choice in this election is a choice between a Conservative government or an Ignatieff-led government that all of these other parties will support.
How is it a bad thing if a prime minister has the "support" of other parties? Isn't that how Parliament is supposed to function?

Go Get 'Em Norm Boucher. Medicine Hat Deserves Real Leadership

The Liberals have just gained a very high profile candidate for Medicine Hat Alberta. Norm Boucher has taken a leave of absence from his job as mayor to give the Conservative candidate LaVar Payne, a run for his money. And he has already come out swinging.
Medicine Hat Mayor Norm Boucher officially declared his candidacy for the federal Liberal party on Tuesday. In a passionate speech in which he announced he would be taking an unpaid leave of absence from the Mayor's office for the duration of the campaign, Boucher tore into Conservative candidate and incumbent Medicine Hat MP LaVar Payne. Boucher criticized Payne for what he called a lack of proper representation for this area, and said Payne has failed to deliver on a number of issues important to Medicine Hat — from funding for the proposed Regional Event Centre to a 24-hour border crossing at the Port of Wild Horse to health care.

"We went from a good parliamentarian in Monte Solberg to a heckler in LaVar Payne," said Boucher. "His own party treats him like a member of the opposition."
And before anyone says a thing about his leave of absence, remember Shelley Glover took a leave from her job as a police officer in Winnipeg to act like an idiot for the Conservatives.

Dare we hope the West wakes up and realizes that they need representation in Ottawa, not just a hallelujah chorus for Stephen Harper. He handles that fine on his own.

Did the Conservative MP Russ Hiebert Use Taxpayer Money to Start His Campaign? And why is a Former Conservative Running Against Him?

'FORMER' Conservative MP for South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale, Russ Hiebert, is being accused of using taxpayer money to launch his campaign. Conservatives abusing our trust is nothing new, but something else is taking place in that riding.

A former Conservative Party member is running against him. This could be interesting.

Former White Rock mayor, Hardy Staub, announced today (Friday) that he will throw his hat in the ring as a federal Liberal candidate. And Aart Looye, a keen local athlete and community volunteer, said Wednesday he would be running as an ‘independent conservative’ for the seat currently occupied by Conservative MP Russ Hiebert.

Both Staub and Looye said they were running to provide more responsive representation for the riding. “I feel that our community needs somebody who will represent us in Ottawa rather than represent Ottawa to us,” Staub said in a prepared statement
And that's just what this party has become. The message is so controlled that MPs aren't allowed to speak for themselves. They only read scripts and do as they're told.

Canadians deserve better.

The Bruce Carson Story Reveals Far More Than Sex

In George Ignatieff's Memoirs, I was struck by a story he told of an altercation between himself and then leader of the NDP, Ed Broadbent.

This is no slight to Mr. Broadbent. He is still one of my all-time favourite Canadian politicians, a list that includes Tommy Douglas, David Lewis, John Diefenbaker and Pierre Trudeau.

Apparently Broadbent was displeased with Canada's failure to help a small nation that would become targeted for genocide. But the NDP leader was looking for a simple solution to a complex issue (how neighboring communities would react, other major powers, etc.) And the way that Ignatieff explained the situation was quite an eye opener.

He asked Mr. Broadbent how we would react as a nation, if foreign visitors showed up at our borders to rescue our Aboriginal people, many of whom live much like those in third world countries.

A similar situation took place in the United States following Katrina. The nation and the rest of the world, caught a glimpse of how many Americans live. Movies and television programs suggest affluence, but these "victims" were "victims" long before the levies broke.

Victoria Salvas writes for This Magazine: Three real reasons the “Carson Affair” is scandalous (none of which involve escorting)

The first thing she mentions is the "shockingly bad state of water quality in First Nations and on reserves".
The Aboriginal population has 1.5 times higher risk of heart disease, a 3 to 5 times higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and at a 8 to 10 times higher risk for Tuberculosis infection
So what Carson and his girlfriend were doing, was exploiting the poor water conditions for financial gain. I believe that members of the First Nations should have been handling this and reaping any rewards.

She then brings up the horrendous "Indian Act"
Enacted in 1868, as part of the Constitution, the Indian Act gives the federal government exclusive authority to “Indians and lands reserved for Indians.” It also defines who qualifies as an “Indian.” Reports of the Carson scandal note that Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo was about to go into talks to negotiate the termination of the Act when Carson contacted him about the water deal. The day after this, Atleo announced that he would work to abolish the act within five years time. In exchange for help in getting rid of the Indian Act, Carson wanted Atleo’s support in promoting H20 Global Group. The abolishment of the Act was used by Carson as a pawn in getting his deal to go through with the Assembly of First Nations.
Further exploitation.

And of course the third thing to focus on is "influence pedalling", that is currently under investigation by the RCMP. I'm sure had there not been an election on the horizon, Stephen Harper would have handled this scandal in the same way he handles all political scandals that his party are engaged in. With a broom and a rug.

When Harper made his apology to the First Nations for the residential schools, many felt that it was not enough.
Indigenous people seek remedies to a long list of injustices that go far beyond the residential schools' direct and collateral victims addressed in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's apology this week. The closing of the residential- school door leads down a hallway lined with other doors most Indians know about. The partnership now involves walking down that hallway together.
We can't possibly preach about human rights abuses to anyone else until we deal with them at home.

Conservatives Good News on the Economy Was All Smoke and Mirrors

The two big campaign highlights for Harper were going to be the "reckless coalition" and his handling of the economy. But alas, after just five days, those plans are going up in smoke.

As Jim Stanford says in the Globe: Not exactly an economic gold medal
The Conservatives’ drive for a majority is premised on positioning themselves as the best economic managers. After all, they say, Canada got through the recession much better than other countries. The government accepts no responsibility for the recession itself – which, they remind us, was “global.” But they happily take credit for Canada’s performance since.

In reality, however, the claim that things may be tough here, but they’re better than anywhere else, has never been statistically valid. And it’s getting increasingly inaccurate, the more it is regurgitated on the hustings.
- In real GDP growth, Canada tied for 10th in 2009, falling to 13th in 2010.

- As for the unemployment rate, Canada ranked a gloomy 21st in 2009, tying for 18th by 2010.

- The International Monetary Fund ranks is 25th out of 53 countries for performance

- Canada ranked 28th in employment rates

And while we continue to hear that we replaced all the jobs lost since the recession began, the truth is that more than a million young people have now entered the arena, so we are not doing well on that score either.

Just because the conservatives are touting their handling of the economy, as a success story, doesn't make it so.

We cannot give these guys another mandate. When Jim Flaherty was finance minister in the Ontario government, he hid a six billion dollar deficit, claiming that he'd balanced the books. I shudder to think what we'll find when we finally get them out of office.

Conservative Supporters Now Complaining of Harper's Heavy Handed Ways

For anyone following this party from since their Reform days, the control of everything from the nomination process to messaging, would come as no surprise.

The Reform movement was supposed to be populist but there were many complaints that it was being controlled by what became known as the 'Calgary clique'
The "clique" which was being criticized in 1990 consisted of Manning and four of his staff members. One of the key members was thirty-two-year-old Stephen Harper, a founding member of the party, its Chief Policy Officer, and the man who became known as Manning's chief political lieutenant. Though only a staff member, he often made speeches and was one of the two people, the other being [Stan] Waters, whom Manning trusted to speak for the party .... The charges of elitism and control of the party by a Manning clique struck a very sour note in an otherwise spectacular rise in party fortunes. (1)
Now conservative campaign workers and candidates are complaining of an 'Ottawa elite'.
While the cushy front-row seats at Harper's stop at Performance Marine were reserved for MPs, candidates and other loyalists (the media were relegated to the back of the backshop), it's interesting to know local Conservatives are frustrated by their inability to penetrate Harper's bubble when comes to local nominations.

Griping about excessive Harper-Ottawa control over nominations is an emerging pattern. It's been raised in Alberta and Okanagan-Coquihalla, where local party members went so far as to claim the process to replace Stockwell Day was "rigged". And while the concerns surrounding the process that selected Ian Shields as the Conservative candidate in Regina Wascana over two other candidates didn't signal anything untoward, they do paint a picture of a top-down process rather than a grassroots one.
Some things never change.


1. Preston Manning and the Reform Party, By Murray Dobbin, Goodread Biographies/Formac Publishing, 1992, ISBN: 0-88780-161-7 4, Pg. 215

Harper Digging in His Heels May Only Mean Digging His Own Political Grave

Despite so much evidence to the contrary, Stephen Harper is sticking to his story that he never tried to become prime minister in 2004, in a coalition that included the full support of the Bloc.

The more he denies this the less credible he sounds. And the media doesn't appear willing to give up the story until he comes clean.

From the Chronicle-Herald: Stop Harper-ventilating
We’re talking about the "reckless, unprincipled coalition" that Mr. Harper has invented as his political opponent and chief whipping boy in the 2011 campaign and the underlying attitude that it’s somehow illegitimate for other parties to work together without him in a minority Parliament if he isn’t able to find a way to govern co-operatively with any of them. "I don’t choose to work with other parties. So reward me with a majority. Or we’re doomed." The sophistry of the prime minister’s coalition hyperventilating really amounts to nothing more than this.
And from the Winnipeg Free Press: Deception, thy name is Harper
Tom Flanagan, Stephen Harper's former campaign manager and chief of staff, has confirmed the prime minister himself had a plan to form what he now demonizes as "a coalition of losers" and take power without an election in September 2004. Harper's "co-opposition accord" was "a perfectly legitimate exercise" to explore whether there was "common ground for the Conservatives to undertake a minority government," Flanagan told The National Post Monday.

Now that "the Conservative-socialist-separatist coalition" is on the official record, it should haunt the prime minister. It exposes to Canadians the man's disquieting traits: his intellectual dishonesty, his vindictiveness, his preference for personal destruction and the low blow and his disrespect for British parliamentary democracy whose tenets he uses when it suits him and abuses or tosses out when it doesn't.
He's sounding like a broken record and the more he lies the harder it will be for him to explain.

He's asking Canadians to trust him with a majority, but how can we trust him with that when we can't trust him at all?

The End of Public Healthcare. Are we Really Ready For This?

On May 8th, 2005, then leader of the Opposition, Stephen Harper, made a bold announcement. He promised that if he was elected Prime Minister of Canada, one of the first things on his agenda would be to privatize the Canadian Healthcare System. (1)

This was just a week after he gave a lecture at the Fraser Institute, where he was in fact introduced as Canada's next PM.

He doesn't speak about that now, but then he doesn't really speak about anything of substance. Have his views changed since 2005? Hardly. On a visit to the United States during the debates over Obama's healthcare plan, he was asked by CBS about Canada's healthcare system, which is the envy of many other nations. He told the reporter that he really didn't know much about it, because it was a provincial issue.

The CANADA Health Act and the country's leader claimed not to know much about it? Given that he once headed up the National Citizens Coalition, a group founded to abolish public healthcare in this country, I contend that he probably knows the Canada Health Act better than most.

Then and Now

In the Spring of 2005, many were worried about the direction of our medicare. Preston Manning and Mike Harris had just released a Fraser Institute report calling for more healthcare privatization. The report said that those who could afford it, should have the "freedom" to choose their own healthcare – whether it is for-profit or non-profit.

The report failed to recognize the demise of the non-profit healthcare system for everyone, once for-profit health care is allowed to escalate.

Why should we care? I can give you an example.

When Mike Harris was premier of Ontario he began to introduce user fees. My daughter, who is disabled and on the Ontario Disability Support Program, injured her knee when at a soccer tournament for the Special Olympics. The injury required surgery, and the surgeon recommended physical therapy, during the healing process. But there was a catch. We were told that if she wanted to use the public healthcare system, she would have to go on a waiting list, and it could be months before she was called.

Or, she could attend a private clinic, partially subsidized, which would cost her $15.00 per visit. I know that doesn't sound like much, but the doctor recommended three visits a week. ODSP wouldn't cover it since there was a public option available.

$45.00 per week for someone on a pension, or who is a member of the "working poor", is a fortune. It means roughly $200.00 out of the monthly budget. She couldn't afford it so we paid for her therapy sessions. I was later told by her worker that if we gave her money for this, she was supposed to claim it, to be deducted from her benefit.

I don't think that worker ever recovered from the strip I tore off her. I was livid. She never pursued it further. (they have since laxed the rules but only slightly) Of course what this means, is that only the wealthy will get top rate care, while everyone else is at the mercy of what will eventually be a virtually bankrupt public system.

And in the spring of 2005, the hot topic at Canadian water coolers was the future of something, that we by then took for granted (2). That the letter and spirit of the Canada Health Act guaranteed the same level of medicare for everyone, and that this was now being threatened.

It didn't help the Neocons that the Alberta premier at the time, Ralph Klein, was traversing about praising the fact that there would be lots of money to be made in the industry (3). And now Stephen Harper had come out publicly with his pledge. And while Harper retracted his statement six years ago, what has he done since becoming prime minister to strengthen, or at least not further weaken, our medicare?

Our health minister has snubbed important medical conferences
, prompting the question: "Does Canada still have a federal health minister? And, more important, does it have a government with the slightest interest in maintaining the national health-insurance program called medicare? For all practical purposes, the answer to both of those questions is a resounding “No.”

Erroll Mendes
, lawyer, author and Professor of law at the University of Ottawa, was interviewed recently about the Contempt of Parliament charges against the Harper government, and he brought up another important point. Renegotiation with the provinces and the Canada Health Act, is scheduled for 2014.

With Stephen Harper refusing to provide the costs of big ticket items like the fighter jets, corporate tax cuts and his new law and order agenda, how will Parliamentarians know whether or not there is any money to sustain medicare?

Which brings us to another concern. Instead of allowing Parliament to examine the issue, Harper has handed it over to the unelected senate. A senate that he now controls.

Healthcare vs Sickcare

Another issue with the corporate sector taking over the industry, is that the focus will be on what Liberal health critic, Carolyn Bennett, calls "sickcare". An auto mechanic doesn't care what kind of car you buy or its gas mileage. Their only interest is fixing it when it breaks down.

With health becoming a for-profit industry, again the focus will only be on fixing you when you break down. We will be reduced to a series of pay scales, based on the plan that we or our employer has purchased. There will be free plans for the poor, but what quality of care will they receive?

But healthcare is about more than just tending the sick. It's also about prevention of illness, and under corporate care, prevention is a word to avoid at all costs.

Those in the medical profession understand the need to eat healthy and maintain a healthy lifestyle. But poverty is one of the root causes of illness. So healthcare must also address feeding and housing the poor, if we want to keep everyone as healthy as possible.

The working poor or those engaged in precarious employment, often have no sick leave plan, so they go to work when they shouldn't, not able to lose even a day's pay. Under a corporate system none of these things will be factored in. The more sick people, the more profit.

Healthcare should not only be an election issue, but it should be the election issue. And remember, just because Stephen Harper no longer discusses it, does not mean that he has changed his plans.

We need to start listening to what's not being said.


1. Stephen Harper Promises To Privatize Canadian Healthcare, Lilith News, May 17th 2005

2. What separates a wrestling match from a health care, Globe and Mail, April 28, 2005

3. "Tories to Klein: keep your mouth shut",, April 28, 2005

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Remaking of Canada. Are we Really Prepared for This?

Like many people living in Canada, I am ashamed of our current government. I am ashamed and I am appalled by the actions it has undertaken, and continues to undertake, in our name. I have never been particularly patriotic, but I do have a Canadian passport and I do pay taxes to the Canadian state. By virtue of these simple facts, I am responsible, like any citi­zen, for my government's initiatives. For this reason, I have to take action because feeling ashamed is not enough. I have to understand who I am dealing with, exactly what it is that they want, and why this government, with considerable success to date, is changing the face of our Canadian institutions.
That is the opening paragraph to Christian Nadeau's new book, Rogue in Power, and his words are chilling. I've often wondered myself just what Stephen Harper does want with us, and why a majority is so necessary, given the enormous amount of control he currently has over every aspect of government, and all Canadian institutions.

In fact, can I still call them 'Canadian institutions', or are they 'Harper institutions' now? Much of the political discourse today centers on the bogey-man coalition, with the Harper team keeping it alive to deflect attention from other things, like their Contempt of Parliament charge. And unbelievably, there are many in the media applauding his strategy. But what is that doing to our democracy?

During an election campaign we should be presented with the issues and that's the only thing that should matter. Yes, politics is a blood sport, and attack ads par for the course, but the Conservatives have been engaged in visceral assaults on their adversaries for five years, especially on the Liberals. As Andrew Cohen writes in the Ottawa Citizen:

There is a story of a meeting between Stephen Harper and a visiting head of government. During the conversation, which took place in the Prime Minister's Office, the two leaders eventually discussed the parliamentary opposition in their respective countries. What struck the visitor was Harper's antipathy toward the opposition, particularly the Liberals. "I don't like my opponents," the visitor allowed afterwards, "but I don't hate them. He hates his opposition.

Hatred is a strong word. Whenever we spat "I hate you!" in the schoolyard, teachers told us to watch our tongues; you disliked the bully who washed your face with snow, but, really, you didn't hate him.
You have to wonder about how little personal regard Stephen Harper has for his opponents and how it affects how he runs a government and fights an election. More than any other politician in this country, this is a man with animus.

Others in his circle have said that he can't be nice. "It's not in his DNA".

We know that the coalition flap has a shelf life, and after that I shudder to think what his next move will be. To date his policies are only getting negative attention. Can we expect even more poisonous darts thrown Ignatieff's way?

The fact that he's still standing says something of the Liberal leader's strength of character. I'd have been reduced to whimpering mass months ago.

Ezra Levant already wrote of an Ignatieff ancestor who was anti-Semitic. How relevant that is today is beyond me. When I was doing my family history, I discovered that some of my Acadian ancestors, who helped to settle Louisiana, owned slaves. It hardly makes me embrace slavery.

But what does all of the poison, all of the anger, the hatred, the bullying, the secrecy and contempt, really mean? What is the endgame? Is it simply power or is it something more? Nadeau believes that "the primary danger represented by the Conservatives lies in their profound belief in certain ideas and values and in their willingness to impose those ideas and values on Canadians." But I think that's only part of it.

Tom Flanagan has said in the past that Stephen Harper himself is not a social conservative. He only sees the Religious Right in his party as a means to an end. But he is willing to allow them to impose their version of morality on the rest of us, for his sole benefit. His new tax plan for families, only helps the nuclear family. Husband, wife, children. Not single families, same-sex relationships or any other configuration. This is clearly written to draw that conservative Christian-Judeau support. They are the ones with the websites and mailing lists who can bring him the votes.

Most religious organizations are worried about the poor and homeless, not whether gays want to marry and raise families.

This same strategy, was no doubt behind his decision to drop license fees on guns, which will reduce our revenue by $21 million. Gun enthusiasts see his party as the only one willing to take up their cause. It's interesting that the budget only mentions 'sports shooters' and 'hunters'. Not farmers this time.

So if all of his policies are designed for the sole benefit of religious fundamentalists and the gun totin' crowd, what happens to the rest of us? And why should we care?

There is a reason why Stephen Harper draws on the radical right for support, and it has nothing to do with his moral values. His is a government that operates solely for the benefit of multinational corporations. Canada or Canadians rarely cross his mind, except to exploit for political gain, in a fierce, albeit ambivalent nationalism.

In the video provided at the bottom of the page, you'll hear Harper first tell the Canadian media that we will not be expected to "surrender our sovereignty", yet in his speech to the G-20, he's pretty clear that he understands why people oppose the notion of global governance, because it "means a loss of national sovereignty". He also goes on to say that there is no longer a Canadian economy only a global economy.

Did we miss the memo? Or do Canadians really not care if we are still a united Canada? For all the hoopla over the Bloc wanting to break us up, it would appear that there may be nothing to break up. His speech certainly doesn't sound like a commitment to this country. His only commitment is to a Global economy. Multinational corporations.

Policy is designed to keep us passive. And if he can't pacify us, he'll turn us off the entire process, by making Parliament so toxic we no longer have the will, or even the desire, to save ourselves.

Journalist Russell Wangersky has a suggestion: "So, while you’re out there, caring about your wallet and the economy and little else, ask yourself this: regardless of how you’re going to vote, is that the kind of place you really want to live? It’s certainly a different country than the one I grew up in, and treasure."

We cannot give this man another mandate. It's that simple.


1. Rogue in Power: Why Stephen Harper is remaking Canada by Stealth, By Christian Nadeau, Lorimer Press, ISBN: 978-1-55277-730-5

Mike Duffy Claims That Harper Tried to Become an Unelected Prime Minister

I really hope that this Coalition nonsense will fade soon, but it's interesting that the National Post is writing about it. They bring up one fact that I already knew. Tom Flanagan's revelation that he strongly opposed Stephen Harper's coalition attempt, since it included the full support of the Bloc.

But it's interesting that Mike Duffy also confirmed the coalition. Not now, but back in the day when he was a commentator at CTV.
On the day in October 2004 when Mr. Martin’s government delivered its throne speech, CTV journalist Mike Duffy — later appointed by Mr. Harper as a Conservative senator — reported that some Conservatives saw the Liberals’ troubles as a chance to make Mr. Harper prime minister. “It is possible that you could change prime minister without having an election,” Mr. Duffy said on CTV on Oct. 5, 2004. “If you could put Stephen Harper — and this is some of the thinking of Conservatives — in 24 Sussex Drive, even for five or six months without an election, it would make the Conservative option much more palatable to Canadians because they’d see that they don’t have horns and a tail.”
I think Stephen Harper could risk losing the support of his base, if he continues this lie. They deserve an explanation.

Constitutional expert Ned Frank mentioned this morning that given the limited role of the Governor General, there is one reason and one reason only, for the Opposition parties to present her with a letter, and that's with an intention to form government. Otherwise, she would never have agreed to speak with them. It would have been unconstitutional.

Harper's just digging himself further and further into a hole, that he'll have no hope of climbing out of. I think he's trying to take the focus off the Contempt of Parliament charges, and so far it's working. But as time goes by it will only add to the myriad of lies this man has told us, giving Canadians even less reason to trust him. It's time to change the channel.

Harper Gives us Tacks on Seat Not Taxes in Pockets

Harper's big announcements of tax cuts are not for anyone who needs them. From the Montreal Gazette:
The most interesting thing about the first major campaign announcement of Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party is what it conceals, not what it reveals. This proposal, entitled the Family Tax Cut in the Conservative Party press release, would cost a whopping $2.5 billion a year, and is pitched as a way of lightening the burden on hard-pressed families raising children. But what’s not said is that most such families would receive little or nothing from this costly measure. And that’s on purpose. If you’re a single parent raising a child, you get nothing. The tax break is solely for families with two parents.
I think Jim Flaherty's pal Charles McVety wrote that one.

From Stephen Gordon in the Globe: The truth behind tax cuts: You might not be better off

From News1130: Critics slam Harper's post-dated tax break promise. Probably won't kick in until 2015

From Barry McKenna in the Globe: Reality Check, Probing the pledge: The Tories’ flawed tax break for families

Why Is Man Under Investigation by the RCMP Working on Conservative Campaign?

It was learned today that Sebastien Togneri, the ex-aide who is under investigation by the RCMP for illegally obstructing access to information, is working on the Consevative campaign in Edmonton-Strathcona.

I don't know what's more disturbing. The fact that he is still working with the party, or the fact that the man he's working for, candidate Ryan Hastman, calls him an "old friend".

Is Shelley Glover on Her Knees Apologizing to Seniors? No. She's Getting Her Talking Points.

Conservative MP Shelley Glover made a disparaging remark about senior Anita Neville, suggesting that she was past her expiry date.

Later she twitted that "She doesn't dislike Neville as senior, she just doesn't like her seniorism." Not sure what that means, but a CRUSH member twitted back: "I don't dislike Glover because she is stupid, I dislike her stupidism."

This woman is a loose cannon, once suggesting that it "was a known fact that all criminals voted Liberal and all cops voted Conservative" What does that mean to those of us who don't vote Conservative? That the police officers we pay with our taxes are not there to protect us too? But the Cons are there with their talking points.

First of all, I would like to remind seniors in the Winnipeg area that Ms. Neville just voted to oppose the Conservative Government’s plan to increase GIS payments to the most vulnerable, lowest income seniors in Canada — a measure that would benefit single seniors by up to $600 and senior couples by up to $840.

Your government wasn't defeated on the budget but on your Contempt of Parliament.

Seniors will be looked after by the Liberals too, who are also presenting a better plan for caregivers, than the .82 a day you're providing. So little for seniors but $21 million for gun owners. We know where your priorities are.

Harper's Claim That Canadians Don't Care About Contempt Charges, is Only Showing Further Contempt

Stephen Harper claims this week that Canadians don't care that his government was charged with Contempt of Parliament. And indeed, given it's toxicity, in some respect he's right. I've been a little contemptuous of it myself.

However, let's imagine for just a moment, a board meeting at a corporation, where the pitch for a new product line is being presented. Those involved in the design believe it to be a good product. But when board members notice that there is no cost analysis, they question those with the sparkly eyes.

"What's it going to cost?"

Now imagine being told that the cost was none of their business. Or when pressed, a box of receipts was dumped in the middle of the table, with the message "figure it out for yourself".

How long do you suppose it would take for board members to call security?

Here's another scenario. Your company enters into an agreement with a supplier. Contracts are drawn up and duly signed. But then an employee decides to change the contract AFTER those involved bargained in good faith.

By changing one word to 'not' it nullifies the entire thing. But worse yet, it is made to appear as though the signatories agreed to 'not' being paid, or 'not' being granted the contract for future services.

How long do you suppose it would take for that employee to be fired? Because that's what Bev Oda did.

As Thomas Walkom wrote recently in the Star: Yes, contempt of Parliament does matter

Contempt of Parliament means that you hold contempt for those that we elected to represent us. Thus it means that you hold contempt for us.

I would like to ask Conservative candidates this question. If your boss and your party have such little regard for Parliament, why do you want us to put you there? Wouldn't it be more like a sentence, than the honour it is supposed to be?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Best Ignatieff Line: "there is no ethnic vote: ‘A Canadian is a Canadian’"

I love that quote. The Conservatives keep talking about winning the ethnic vote, while Ignatieff says there is no such thing, only the Canadian vote. I remember when Stephen Harper was fear mongering to immigrants about same-sex marriage:
Mr. Harper drew criticism not only from within his own party, but from some of the very people he had hoped to attract. "Mr. Harper is ignorant about mmigration issues, and his statement reflects that ignorance," said Tarek Fatah of the Muslim Canadian Congress, a grassroots group with a membership in the hundreds. "What he's saying is that people can only be gay if they're white Anglo-Saxons."
Everyone is pigeon holed.

Harper's Family Tax Plan Only Goes Into Effect After You're Dead

Harper announced a family tax plan today, but he said that he will first have to pay for the F-35s, the prison expansion and his corporate tax cuts. Then he'll worry about your family. But the good news is, he plans to put more of your children in jail, so you won't have to worry about feeding them. Do you think that's what he meant by savings for families?
... the Family Tax Cut plan announced by Mr. Harper Monday in Saanich, B.C. wouldn’t come into effect until the federal budget is balanced, which could be years from now. Like pension splitting before it, splitting earned or other income for tax purposes would benefit only some families and be no help at all to singles, including single parents. To get the full benefit, even qualifying families would have to have a large income disparity between the higher and lower wage earners. Even then, a maximum of $50,000 of household income would be splittable for tax purposes.
Can't wait until tomorrow when he announces a childcare plan that goes into affect when they're old enough to take care of their aging parents.

We Can't Think About a Harper Majority. We Have to Focus on a Harper Unemployed

Heather Mallick asks: What if Harper's dream of a majority comes true? It should read what if our nightmare of a majority comes true. But it won't. We won't let it happen.
A Harper majority government would be dishonest. That's an easy one, they're Dodgy Inc. now, with their in-and-out campaign financing, lying to Parliament, allegations of illegally blocking freedom of information, killing the long-form census to cater to invented online outrage, wildly underestimating the cost of those Lockheed Martin jets, padding the Senate they previously vowed to reform, accepting fat MP pensions they once decried . . . I could go on but lack the space and sometimes the will to live, frankly.

A recent poll shows that Canadians know the Harper government tells whoppers. For the Harper regime, lying is a core value, to the point where there's a bouncy aggressive incredulity when they're questioned about it in the House of Commons. They regard opposition MPs as dogs lunging at a G20 wire fence when they've already been trained with electroshocks to never do that again.
Murray Dobbin in the Tyee is also Contemplating the Unthinkable Harper Majority. Five years of minority has frustrated their ambitions:
They couldn't slash Medicare or gut the Canada Health Act. They couldn't cut transfers to the provinces, or further weaken EI. They left the public services unions with their rights intact. They had to leave education alone (more or less). And they didn't risk slashing the civil service they hate so much. Even the CBC has been spared (though they raised millions from their loyalists attacking it in fundraising letters).

The frustration level, especially for Harper, must have been almost unbearable. Remember, this is a man who got so frustrated being in Opposition as right-hand man to Preston Manning that he bolted from politics altogether. The place he chose to cleanse himself after all those years having to play the democrat was the National Citizens Coalition, by a big margin the most right-wing organization on the national scene. He said he was glad to be out of politics so he could say what he really thought.
So we can't even use the "M" word anymore than we can use the "C" word. And in fact, we can't even contemplate another mandate. I have to be able to sleep nights.

Stephen Harper Advertising for People to Leave Right-Wing Comments at On-Line News Items. Can you Smell That?

The Harper campaign is advertising on Craig's List for someone to leave comments at the end on news items. Can you smell the desperation?

I leave comments lots of times for free. You have to submit a sample so I think I have something.

"C'mon you leftie rag, Liberal shills ... how bout reporten sumpin tru fer a change. That Iffy gonna haf him a colition with dem traters the Blok an dem dar soshilists just as sur as i'm gonna drank me won mor twofer"

Do you think I'll get the job? I wonder what it pays?

Come on everyone. Send a sample and see how soon they shut it down.

With Harper Still Stuck on the "C" Word, Michael Ignatieff is on Fire

Stephen Harper is still stuck on the "C" word, but Ignatieff is not taking the bait. As one woman wrote to the CBC, if I read 'coaltion' one more time, I'm going to poke my eyes out. So if his strategy is just to annoy people, I say keep going.

Michael Ignatieff has already moved on, taking the focus off the "C" word and putting it on the economy.

Ignatieff goes on the attack over economics

Tory focus on 'jets and jails' threatening to bankrupt Canada, Ignatieff says

And Harper's election gravy is the promise of a plan that won't start for five years. In five years we'll be saying "Stephen who".

G20 was a ‘$1-billion Harper photo-op’ that accomplished nothing: Ignatieff

If you can stomach one more "C" word, here goes:

Harper's Lawsuit Against the Canadian Taxpayer Has Cost Us $1.3 Million

Despite the fact that you would be hard pressed to find anyone who agreed that fabricating receipts to get taxpayer money you weren't entitled to, was legal, Stephen Harper sued us anyway.

And we just got the bill
. $1.3 million. I think we should add that to his tab.

I Love the New Ignatieff 'Eyebrows" For the Press. Where Can I Get a Pair?

The Ignatieff team was handing out fake 'Ignatieff Eyebrows' to the media. I don't know if John Ivison was trying to strike an Iggy pose, but he looked more like Khrushchev.

Contrast that to Harper already limiting media access.

Michael Ignatieff is also going after Harper's poor fiscal record, spending us into deficit long before the recession even started. That's what he needs to do. Let Harper continue his personal attacks and coalition bogeyman campaign. Frankly, he's starting to sound like a comic book character and it's grating on people's nerves. Shazam.

The Globe also reminds voters: Let’s not make Ignatieff a personal issue
Personal attacks on Mr. Ignatieff have been the preferred tactic of his political opponents from the moment he entered political life after a distinguished career as a human-rights theorist, writer and academic. These attacks have benefited from an unfortunate national prejudice that views success abroad with suspicion or, in its extreme form, contempt. He is indeed an extraordinary Canadian.

He was listed as one of the world’s 100 leading public intellectuals by Foreign Policy for his thinking on the “tension between security and human rights, the fight against modern terrorism and the philosophy of freedom.” (That quote is taken from the citation of one of his 11 honorary degrees.) His books have received many awards, including the Governor-General’s Award for Literature and the George Orwell Prize, and one was short-listed for the Booker Prize.

The American philosopher Francis Fukuyama called Mr. Ignatieff’s Lionel Gelber Prize-winning book, Blood and Belonging: Journeys into the New Nationalism, “a marvellous work that shows the diversity, complexity, agonies and horrors of nationalism with greater depth and insight than most, if not all, academic treatises.” He has written for The New Yorker, hosted programs for the BBC, and has held teaching positions at Cambridge, the University of London and Harvard.
Time to bring back the smart.

Conservatives Have Another Corporate Lobbyist Running for Them

When Stephen Harper named Gordon O'Connor as his first defence minister, people were outraged. O'Connor was a corporate lobbyist for Hill & Knowlton, responsible for securing military contracts. And he didn't disappoint. But then that whole lying, Afghan Detainee Abuse thing, got in the way.

Now the Conservatives have secured the nomination of Raymond Sturgeon, another military contract lobbyist, responsible in part for the horrible F-35 contract.

So much for accountability.

I noticed on his website, that he will be speaking at the Rod and Gun club, no doubt heralding the 21 million provided in the budget for gun owners.

I don't think he'll stand a chance against Carol Hughes, but then the Conservatives have a lot of money, and sadly often money talks. We must silence it.

The Liberal candidate for this riding, François Cloutier, is also a strong contender, who may be able to tap into history. This was once the riding of Lester Pearson.

Want Some Cool Stuff For Your Campaigns and Rallies?

UnseatHarper has some really great items for your local campaigns and rallies. T-shirts, lawn signs, bumber stickers. You name it, they've got it. Be sure to check them out.

And you can download free flyers here.

Jason Lietaer and Stephen Harper's Tea Party Campaign Not Going so Well

I watched Power and Politics yesterday, something I haven't done in quite awhile, and despite the fact that the whole 'reckless coalition' mantra is tanking, Harper's communication point man, Jason Lietaer, suggested that it would continue to be at the center of their campaign.

A big mistake.

It took just two days for the media, with the help of Gilles Duceppe, to nullify. Stephen Harper did indeed try to become Prime Minister in 2004, with the full support of the Bloc. Duceppe is far more credible on this because he not only has the original letter, but also video and Tom Flanagan's book. It's time to move on.

This only validates what Harper's critics have said all along. That he is deceitful.

It took a lot of courage for Duceppe to go public with this, because across Quebec people are saying "you've get to get rid of Harper", so admitting that he was once prepared to be kingmaker for him is a risky move. It's also interesting that Jack Layton is stepping away from it, despite the fact that he was key to both coalitions, and instead is allowing Michael Ignatieff to shoulder all of the "blame".

But I don't want to talk about the "C" word because it's enough already. On the weekend Gilles Duceppe referred to Stephen Harper's Tories 'as a retrograde Tea Party', and I think that's one of the things the other parties should focus on.

Not only on Harper's long and deep connections with the Republican Tea Party, but his style of campaigning. Stick to a few talking points and hammer them home. This might work in the U.S. where their battle cry is "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness", but in Canada, we follow the creed of "Peace, Order and Good Government".

In his five years, Harper has made no attempt to be peaceful, orderly or to provide good government. Instead it has been just a never ending election campaign, much of it at the expense of the Canadian taxpayer. His caucus rarely answer questions in the House, preferring to be glib and stick to their scripts. They have a 200 page manual instructing them on how to make committees dysfunctional, to avoid accountability. And they have a vetting system for handling access to information, that would rival Joseph Goebbel's.

So pitting himself against the other parties in such a manner, only validates what his critics have said all along. That he is impossible to deal with. I also found his choice of those to lead his campaign interesting. Guy Girorno, a corporate lobbyist, who once choreographed Ontario Premier Mike Harris's every move, and Jason Lietaer, another lobbyist and Mike Harris top aide.

It was once thought that Lietaer might replace Kory Teneycke as what Kady O'Malley called Director of Uncomfortable Silences. Even Jane Taber, top Harper cheerleader, listed him as one of the lobbyists in Harper's revolving door.

Which only validates what Harper's critics have said all along. That his government is run by corporate lobbyists.

This brings me to the second talking point of this campaign. That "only Stephen Harper can lead us to economic stability". They cite the fact that we did better than most countries during the collapse, despite the fact that many in the financial world agree that it was only because of measures put in place by the former government, many of which have since been torn down by Harper and Co. However, it would appear that our economic prowess was only in the short term. Many other countries are now leaving us in their dust.

That could have something to do with the fact that we were the only ones who saw the need to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on "aren't we doing a great job" ads and signs, instead of focusing on the actual economic strength of recovery.

The Montreal Gazette gives us a Reality 'cheque': Harper's claims on the economy

- Canada's economy has been improving, but not at the same rate as the leading economies. Australia and Sweden are expected to lead in economic improvement in 2011, according to the report

- "Any likely post-election government can also be expected to stay on a course aimed at deficit reduction, with only the specific mix of spending and tax policy priorities under real debate."

- The Harper government increased program spending faster than the inflation rate. Between 2006-07 and 2008-09, program spending increased by an annual average of 5.1 per cent.

And the suggestion that only Stephen Harper can handle the economy, and not the Conservatives, validates yet another criticism, and perhaps the most important of them all.

Stephen Harper is a government on one. He listens to no one, not even the Canadian people.

It took just two days to tear down the entire Conservative strategy. They'd better change the channel soon because they've still got a long way to go.