Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Northern Lights Have Seen Queer Sights

Yellowknife cancels Heterosexual Day

It looks like heterosexuals won't be allowed to parade through the streets of Yellowknife nearly naked on sexually explicit floats as a symbol of pride and dignity.

The city fathers should have offered a reasonable compromise: let us hold Heterosexual Day in June and you can have a Gay Pride parade in January.

Surely they can be as proud to show it all off when it's forty below as they would during the midnight sun.

Caught On Tape

"No offer was made--that means no offer was made." -- Paul Martin.

Prime Minister Paul Martin knew about negotiations with Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal ahead of a crucial budget vote, CTV News has learned.

Transcripts of Grewal's taped conversations show Martin was ready to talk to Grewal about defecting and to offer him a government post within two weeks of the vote, CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reported

"This is the operative statement. The others are inoperative." -- Ron Ziegler.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Islam Humiliated by Giant Teapot

I guarantee that you will not see a more bizarre headline today.

Dhimmi Watch brings you the story.

Hat tip to Kathy Shaidle.

Protocols of the Learned Elders of 100 Huntley Street

Gloria Galloway continues her thrilling expose of the nationwide evangelical Christian conspiracy to seize control of the Conservative Party and impose theocratic rule on Canada:

Christian activist groups told The Globe and Mail last week that they have made concerted -- and often successful -- efforts to win Conservative nominations for members of their faith who are willing to go to Ottawa and fight against measures such as the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples. They said members of congregations were urged to take out Conservative memberships and flood meetings to ensure the candidate of their choice was elected.

"If they have won the race fair and square, and as long as they sign on to 100 per cent of our platform issues, then they have the right to run," Mr. Clement said. "The minute they veer one centimetre away from the defined policy position taken democratically by our party, then I have a problem."

At the recent Conservative policy convention, the party said MPs should have the right to vote according to their consciences in the House.

While Mr. Harper has not commented on the push by the Christian right, others in his party have concerns.

Gerald Keddy, a Conservative from Nova Scotia who is one of a handful of Tory MPs to support same-sex marriage, said people opposed to same-sex marriage have called his office to say they would organize candidates to run against him -- an idle threat given that all sitting Conservative MPs have had their nominations protected.

Mr. Keddy said the democratic process of nominations must be respected, but single-issue candidates will have a hard time persuading voters that they will represent them in Ottawa.

The "single-issue candidate" is a misconception that the media will not correct, because it makes reporting on politics that much simpler for lazy journalists on a deadline.

These "single issues", social or economic, may motivate candidates to run. But any serious candidate knows that he will have to respond to many more issues during an election campaign and in office.

These "single-issue" candidates are, for the most part, people who have been involved in party politics for a long time. If they don't know the platform and local issues inside out already, they'll be quick studies. They couldn't have got past the nomination committees to the nomination meeting otherwise.

But articles on these candidates' views on regional development programs or interprovincial trade barriers would hardly sell papers now, would they?

Sunday, May 29, 2005

This Memorial, On the Other Hand....

....is rather less inspiring.

From Canadian Press

TORONTO (CP) - A bronze statue of one of Canada's first gay public figures was unveiled in the heart of the city's gay village Saturday.

Hundreds of people were on hand to witness the first glance of the 2.5-metre monument of Alexander Wood, a 19th century city magistrate.

"Two years ago, we decided we wanted to do a public art project," said Dennis O'Connor, chair of the Church-Wellesley Village Business Improvement Area, the organization that decided to honour Wood as a forefather of the gay community.

"We chose him because he has a connection to our community, and this particular spot."

In 1827, Wood purchased a parcel of land in what is now Toronto's gay neighbourhood.

The statue is located in the area, on the corner of Church and Alexander streets, the latter of which is named after Wood.

At the time, many mockingly referred to the flamboyant Wood as Molly Wood, Molly being one of the era's derogatory terms for homosexuals.


Wood's place in Canadian history is relatively unknown.

He emigrated from Scotland prior to the beginning of the 19th century.

He established himself as one of Toronto's leading merchants and was appointed as a city magistrate in 1800.

Wood became the centre of a gay sex scandal 10 years later when he was accused by several young men of fondling them during a rape investigation.

A woman who claimed to have been attacked by a group of men told Wood she had scratched the penis one of the assailant, so Wood took it upon himself to investigate the suspects' genitals.

He was soon forced to flee to Scotland in order to avoid potential sodomy charges. At the time, homosexuality was an offence punishable by death.

Wood returned to Canada two years later, without charge.

It is disingenuous for homosexuals to claim Alexander Wood as a founding figure of their community in Toronto, and honour him for his association with scandal.

This monument does a great disservice to his memory, as it moves the focus of his legacy from his role as a leading figure in early Toronto to his sexual preference.

He would not want to have been remembered for a cause which did not exist in his day and which he likely would have found abhorrent.

Remembering Forgotten POWs

A memorial has just been erected in Halifax to 192 American POWs who died on Melville Island in the Northwest Arm during the War of 1812.

The dedication of the memorial marks years of effort by local citizens and American veterans' associations to prevent a little-known historical site from being buried and forgotten under ever-expanding real estate development.

The Halifax Daily News has the rest of this moving story.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Old Soldiers Never Die

The The Daily Telegraph reports the discovery of two old soldiers in the jungle who are still fighting a war that ended a long time ago.

Sinclair Stevens and Joe Hueglin could not be reached for comment.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Fear of the Christians

Gloria Galloway of the Globe and Mail has alerted the public to the sinister menace of theocracy lurking within the Conservative Party:

Ottawa — Christian activists have secured Conservative nominations in clusters of ridings from Vancouver to Halifax -- a political penetration that has occurred even as the party tries to distance itself from hard-line social conservatism.

At least three riding associations in Nova Scotia, four in British Columbia, and one in suburban Toronto have nominated candidates with ties to groups like Focus on the Family, a Christian organization that opposes same-sex marriage.

But organizers say many more will be on the ballot during the next federal election, a feat achieved by persuading parishioners, particularly new Canadians, to join the party and vote for recommended candidates.

One can almost sense Ms. Galloway's blood running cold with the chill of fear running up her spine, as visions of Bible-bashing theocrats seeking to recreate John Calvin's Geneva dance through her fevered imagination.

But what, pray tell, defines a "Christian activist"?

The NDP has a United Church minister and a former director of a Catholic Worker house in its caucus. Its CCF predecessor was founded by a Methodist minister; a Baptist minister has been its leader. It has had several clerics elected to previous Parliaments, including two Roman Catholic priests.

The Liberals have also had clergymen as candidates and MP's in the past.

Yet neither of these parties have ever been accused of harbouring "religious extremists" with a hidden agenda to create a confessional state.

The not-too-subtle context of this article is a warning to "conservative Christians" (in reality, Protestants from evangelical denominations unaffiliated with mainline liberal denominations) to stay out of the public arena. It is an attempt to impose a religious test for public office, a regressive notion that had been put to rest with the Reform Act of 1832.

At its heart, though, it is an attempt to silence anyone who believes that rights and freedoms are ultimately derived from a source other than the state, which no state may alter, abrogate or redefine.

It is the refusal to worship Caesar that troubles the modern progressive, just as it troubled the Roman pagans.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Marching to Tshwane

Pretoria, South Africa, has been renamed Tshwane by the South African government, as a symbol of the break with apartheid.

The name is derived from a former tribal chief. In recognition of South Africa's diversity, it means "we are all the same".

In an unrelated story, the federal government is mulling renaming Calgary to Trudeauville in recognition of Canada's diversity.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

More Confidence Tricks

The Liberal government has confirmed the death of the centuries-old parliamentary convention that a government must resign if it loses the confidence of the House of Commons, or is defeated on a money bill. From the Globe and Mail:

OTTAWA -- The federal Liberals would consider ignoring a House of Commons defeat should they lose any of the several coming votes that are matters of confidence between now and the end of the spring session, Chief Government Whip Karen Redman says.

Although no final strategy has been decided, Ms. Redman said the government could respond to a defeat by bringing in a motion on whether the government has the confidence of Parliament to make sure MPs actually want an election.


In an interview, Ms. Redman said the government would consider several possible responses to a government defeat.

"There are options. Clearly if there was a loss, the government may decide to put forward another confidence motion when everybody was there to see if it held the day. Those options are available," she said.

Unlike the Conservative motion that passed earlier this month calling on the government to resign, Ms. Redman said the Liberals do not dispute that the money votes between now and the end of the session are clear matters of confidence and are taking each one seriously.

Our constitutional conventions are too important to the rule of law and our free and democratic society to be left in the hands of the PMO to obey or ignore at its sole discretion.

It is high time that they were actually codified in the Constitution of Canada. But given the impossibility of amending the Constitution, we are likely to see these conventions--and even the written parts of the Constitution--gutted in the name of defending people from an election they've been told they don't want.

Return of the Prodigal Daughter

CTV reports that Carolyn Parrish may soon be welcomed back into the Liberal caucus as a reward for voting to keep the Liberal government alive.

Good heavens, no! Next thing you know, they'll be dragging in Tiny Tim!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Power of Advertising

The Conservative Hipster is disappointed with the quality of choices in the Globe and Mail's top ten Canadian TV commercials of all time.

Indeed. The most effective advertising is advertising that you remember for years after the ads stop running and still drives your decision-making.

The most effective ad in this regard I've ever seen was for Casino Taxi in Halifax. Anyone from Nova Scotia of a certain age will remember the jingle verbatim.

If you're a person on the go, write down this number
It's the key to travelling quick!
It's Casino Taxi's number

Casino Taxi, they're the fast ones
Casino Taxi, near as your phone!
No need to run, don't get wet, dial that number
429-6666! Or 425-6666!

That ad hadn't been running for years and Casino Taxi was still the only cab company I'd call in Halifax, just because I could remember the number from it.

I hope that the person who came up with that ad went on to bigger and better things with a Toronto or New York agency. Theirs was a talent in need of a broader audience.

Soft Power Meets Hard Reality

Inside the front cover of my old passport is embossed this florid declaration:

The Secretary of State for External Affairs of Canada requests in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.

No doubt the same inscription was on Zahri Kazemi's passport. To the government of Iran, that passport was a meaningless scrap of paper, as evidenced by its response to the Canadian government's inquiries regarding her suspicious death in Iranian police custody two years ago:

Iran told Canada to back off yesterday over the case of Montreal photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, who died in Iranian custody, criticizing the Canadian government's "immaturity" and warning it to stop interfering in the case.

Spokesmen for both Iran's foreign ministry and its judiciary took shots at Canada over the weekend, and indicated that Ms. Kazemi's Canadian citizenship was irrelevant to them.

"I am amazed by [Canada's] immaturity. This lady was an Iranian citizen and this case is a domestic affair," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said yesterday.

"Canada's current attitude towards Iran will not lead to anything. Pressuring Iran in these kinds of affairs will not bring about any solutions."


Ms. Kazemi died in July 2003 while in Iranian custody, after she was arrested for taking photos outside a Tehran prison where many dissidents are held.

Iranian officials initially said that she had suffered a stroke, and later that she had fallen and hit her head. An Iranian presidential commission found she died of a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage.

A doctor who treated her, who has since fled the country and was recently granted asylum in Canada, Shahram Azam, said she appeared to have been tortured and raped.

Another doctor who treated her, Hadi Sepherlou, was reportedly arrested last week by Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Zahra Kazemi knew the risks she took and died as a result. No one expects the Canadian government to protect us from the consequences of all our actions when travelling abroad, especially in dictatorships such as Iran. But we can expect our government's inquiries to be met with proper respect, and not flippant insults from a despot's petty functionaries.

But what has Iran to fear from Canada? Canada's naive reliance on "soft power"--in reality, a blind faith in the United Nations, various international conventions and censorious scoldings for not respecting them--without the "hard power" of economic and yes, military force to back it up, lets the dictators of the world flip us off to our face, and laugh at us behind our backs.

Canada could have mobilized world opinion in Ms. Kazemi's case, and encouraged other governments to put pressure on Iran regarding its treatment of dual nationals accused of such crimes. That would have been in keeping with our strengths and abilities.

But Ms. Kazemi's case will pass unheralded, the truth unspoken, justice undone, because Iran knows how hollow our government's words are.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Monday, May 23, 2005

Germany Going to the Polls?

CBC reports that German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder may call early elections because he believes that his Social Democratic government needs a clear mandate from the people to implement economic reforms.

What is this nonsense, Herr Bundeskanzler?

Why can't you just get Deutsche Welle and Der Spiegel to keep telling the German people that they don't want an election? Isn't there a left-leaning Christian Democrat you can buy off with a cabinet post? Why aren't you out there denouncing that scary Angela Merkel's hidden agenda?

Stand Firm Behind Stephen Harper

Toronto Tory has an excellent post about the media's attempts to create a movement to force Stephen Harper out of the Tory leadership.

Some Conservatives, including a few members of the Blogging Tories, are falling for it, fearing that Stephen Harper has become damaged goods, especially amongst Ontario voters, and will never lead the party to victory no matter how sick the electorate gets of the Liberal government.

I will not, just as Toronto Tory and most Conservatives will not.

The Conservative Party has suffered a disappointing setback with the defection of Belinda Stronach and the consequent loss of the non-confidence vote. Coupled with the loss of the 2004 election, and the inability to break open huge leads in opinion polls, it does appear that matters are not going as well as we'd like.

But compare these setbacks against what Mr. Harper has been able to achieve, and they are not sufficient reason to remove from the leadership.

Consider where we had been since for the past ten years: two parties, one unable to break out of its Western regional base, the other surviving out in Atlantic Canada with a great historical legacy and little else.

Everyone knew that the two parties would eventually have to merge if the right were ever to form another government in Canada, yet the obstinacy of once-powerful and respected figures in the Progressive Conservative Party (and to a lesser extent, in the Reform/Alliance parties), prevented those who wanted to do the sensible thing from doing so.

Stephen Harper won the leadership of the Canadian Alliance in 2002, brought it back from the brink of collapse, and restored it to the point that he could credibly seek a merger from a position of strength, not desperation.

He won the leadership of the Conservative Party with strong support from members of the former Progressive Conservative Party.

Members of both parties voted overwhelmingly to merge, and having done so, have worked together at the riding association level and higher with a remarkable amity, setting aside past differences based on membership in the predecessor parties.

His decisive leadership victory, and the seamless merger of the two parties, quickly gave the lie to hysterical claims of an Alliance takeover of the PC Party.

The loss of the 2004 election must be seen in its proper persepective. The situation during the campaign was highly fluid, and both major parties traded the lead back and forth. The Conservative Party had just come out of an exhausting merger process and leadership campaign, and had yet to hold a policy convention. The full extent of the Liberal Party's venality and corruption had yet to become public knowledge, and Paul Martin still bore the image of a succesful finance minister and party leader.

Despite all of the Liberal Party's advantages, including Paul Martin's prior reputation for prudent fiscal management and strong leadership, we still reduced what had been expected to be a landslide majority to a shaky minority.

A year after that election, matters have not improved at all for Paul Martin.

The Liberal Party, accustomed to polling in the high-40's and sometimes over 50% in mid-term polling, has not been able to crack the 40% ceiling.

Quebec is now irretrievably lost to the Bloc Quebecois, thus ensuring that the Liberals cannot even hope to win a majority government.

Ontario remains a problem, it is true. But the Liberals' lead in Ontario is owed to its lock on the city of Toronto; without it, it is essentially tied in the rest of Ontario, and well behind the Liberals outside the 905 belt.

Paul Martin has fallen further, faster and harder in public esteem than any other Liberal leader. His crushing takeover of the Liberal party leadership has also left it without an obvious successor who could take over without difficulty. The Liberals will face internecine warfare over their succession such as it has not faced in decades.

The Conservative Party has come out of its policy convention with a well-defined policy acceptable to the electorate at large, though one based on sound conservative principles.

There is a genuine two-party system again in Canada. We are not doomed to a decades-long stretch of one-party rule, as in Italy under the Christian Democrats, Japan under the Liberal Democrats, or Mexico under the Institutional Revolutionary Party.

The health of the Canadian body politic has suffered greatly over the past decade of Liberal misrule, but not beyond all hope of recovery.

For that hope, we have Stephen Harper to thank more than anyone.

His leadership is not perfect, and the party has much to work on, especially with its media relations, but he has put us back in the game as a credible governing alternative.

Now is not the time to throw him overboard and undo the work of the last 18 months.

Now is the time to stand behind him.

I stand behind him.

Do you?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Cowardice Doth Makes Consciences For Us All

Amnesty International has embraced the cause of Jeremy Hinzman, an American soldier who took off AWOL to Canada rather than fight in Iraq.

The Immigration and Refugee Board, in a rare moment of lucidity, rejected Hinzman's claim for refugee status, but that has not stopped Amnesty from taking up his case:

In a decision taken at Amnesty's international office in London, the organization said it considered Hinzman "to have a genuine conscientious objection" to serving as a combatant in Iraq.

"Accordingly, should he be imprisoned upon his return to the United States, Amnesty International would consider him to be a prisoner of conscience," the group said in a statement.

The designation is important, at least symbolically, because it will raise awareness of the issue and put public pressure on American authorities, said Gloria Nafziger, a refugee co-ordinator with Amnesty's Canadian section.

"People would write letters to the U.S. government asking that he be released and stating their objection to his imprisonment," Nafziger said.

"We have varying degrees of success when we take that position."

Hinzman's lawyer Jeffry House said Amnesty's decision cuts to the core of the case.

"It means that if the Canadian government sends Jeremy back to imprisonment in the United States, it will be complicit in a serious violation of human rights," House said.

"Amnesty recognized that a deeply held ethical refusal to kill other human beings cannot justify a jail term, however powerful the country which proposes to do so."

Hinzman enlisted for four years in November 2000 to earn financial support from the military for a university degree. He became a crack infantryman but gradually came to believe that taking part in offensive military operations would violate his personal beliefs.

Amnesty International taints its reputation as a defender of human rights and civil liberties when it draws such invidious analogies.

Here we have the case of a volunteer soldier in a free and democratic country, whose armed forces provide for the release of a serviceman who has had a genuine change of conscience without penalty.

Hinzman hadn't even been sent into harm's way before running off to Canada: he deserted because of the remote theoretical possibility that he might be called upon to commit atrocities in violation of the Geneva Conventions, the Uniform Code of Military Justice and other laws of war and military service.

Most of the soldiers he'd have faced in Iraq were conscripts who, had they declared their conscientious objections, would have been shot dead on the spot, and their families persecuted.

Where was Amnesty International when they needed them?

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Lament for a Nation

David Warren's latest commentary, Lights out, reads like an obituary for Canada.

The events of the last few weeks have brought to light what thoughtful, public-minded citizens of all political persuasions, not just conservatives or Conservative partisans, have feared for years but have not been able to express with complete coherence and clarity.

The Canada we once knew and respected, a free nation founded on the rule of law, personal liberty and respect for our fellow man and our national traditions, has been replaced with a corrupt oligarchy who hold in contempt the public whose treasure they steal and whose liberties they violate.

We have committed suicide, as a nation. Outwardly, and immediately, the consequences of what we have done will be seen in much different areas. We must deal with the renewed demand for separation in Quebec, and much deeper alienation in the West, where people begin to realize that they have been permanently disenfranchised. We will endure the continuing bleeding of economic opportunity, as both capital and our most talented citizens migrate to better prospects in the United States and beyond.

But as a people, we have proved incapable of connecting the dots between our national decline, and the bottomless corruption of our legal and political order.

Multicultural states inevitably disintegrate when the raison d'etre underlying their existence disintegrates, whether it be the dominance of a royal dynasty, political ideology, religious faith or peculiar political circumstances.

The peculiar political circumstances that led to Confederation in 1867 have long since passed away. The sun has set forever on the British Empire, and the United States has no desire to annex new territory, the fears of anti-American nationalists notwithstanding.

The entity inaccurately known as "English Canada" exists no longer. The vestigial ties to the British Crown are of little practical importance, as the bulk of the population of the rest of Canada is neither of British descent, nor identifies with Britain, British culture or the Commonwealth in any way.

A new centre of political and economic power has grown up in Western Canada, yet its influence and concerns are ignored at best, scorned at worst, by the old power elites in Central Canada.

Atlantic Canada, the wealthiest part of the country in 1867, has steadily declined in political and economic influence until it has been reduced to a backwater, deliberately kept in colonial dependency by Central Canada (Upper Canada, if you prefer.)

Quebec has long since ceased to identify its national aspirations with Canada's in any meaningful way. It has become, in fact if not in law, a separate nation unto itself.

Canada will pass into history over the next couple of decades as yet another failed state, like the Austrian Empire, Soviet Union and Yugoslavia before it, whose original foundations had crumbled and could not be rebuilt on new ones.

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Day After The Day After That Wasn't The Day After

Like a doomsday cult after the much-anticipated end of the world has failed to come, Conservatives today are feeling dispirited and confused, wondering whether they've been deceived or just made an error in their calculations.

There will be calls for Stephen Harper's resignation, as there were after victory eluded the party in 2004. We will be told once again that we must move to the amorphous centre, that we must follow an unchartable course of indeterminate moderation, that we must silence one group or another, if we are to win the confidence of the electorate at large.

Our lesser sins will be magnified, that the government may be absolved of its greater sins.

However, we should not fall into despair at last night's unfortunate result.

The Liberal government will survive for a while longer, but at the price of its last remaining shreds of credibility.

Its wild spending spree has led it to forfeit its claims to responsible management of the public treasury. Its defiance of parliamentary and constitutional convention manifest its contempt for the rule of law and the democratic process.

The continuing revelations from the Gomery inquiry will underscore its growing reputation for corruption and dishonesty, as well as undermining its claims to being the one party that can assure national unity.

For all of the advantages that the powers of government offer the Liberals, they survived only by the grace and favour of the Speaker of the House and a few unpredictable independent MP's.

When the next crisis of confidence strikes, the Liberals will have much less to offer to a less pliable opposition.

The end did not come yesterday. But it cannot be prevented, only delayed.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Thanks for Nothing, Belinda!

If this woman were not a spoiled rich princess accustomed to getting her own way all the time, and running off sulking when she didn't, we would not have the most blatantly corrupt and unconstitutional regime in Canadian history surviving in office tonight.

The whole country can now sympathize with Peter MacKay tonight, because she just ran her stiletto through its heart too.

That's It, Folks

Chuck Cadman just voted to prop up the most corrupt and unconstitutional regime in the history of Canada.

A government that lost the confidence of the house and bribed its way into regaining it will now likely prorogue indefinitely, until Paul Martin can find some way to finagle a majority.

The constitutional order of this country has been overthrown.

We have not the rule of law any longer, but the will to power.

The Vote

C-43: Chuck Cadman votes in favour.

I don't think he'll vote against C-48.

The bastards look like they've pulled it off.

The Tale of the Tape

While the MSM has been milking the tragicomedy of Belinda and Peter for all it's worth, the blogosphere has been covering the less dramatic but more disturbing story of bribes to Tory MP's to beat the budget vote:

Tim Murphy's cryptic doubletalk with Gurmant Grewal brings the phrase "plausible deniability" to mind. From Politics Watch:

Earlier the Conservatives played to reporters an eight-minute segment of a recording of the conversation between Murphy and Grewal Wednesday morning.

At no time during the tape does Murphy make an explicit offer to Grewal, and he carefully chooses his words and speaks about hypothetical situations.

The tape suggests that Murphy is more interested in Grewal abstaining than having the MP crossover to the Liberal side.

Murphy also says that it is a "bad idea" to "have any kind of commitment that involves an explicit trade."

However, Murphy tells Grewal that there are "other members of your current caucus who are facing the same dilemna that you face," suggesting the Liberals have been talking to other Tories who may be considering crossing the floor or abstaining.

"I don't think it's good if anybody lies, or if anybody is asked the question, 'Well is there a deal?' and you say, 'No.' Well you want that to be the truth," says Murphy.

"And that's what I want. I want the truth to be told."

On the tape, Murphy proposes the concept of Grewal abstaining from the vote and using the following excuse, which sounds eerily familiar.

"That can be done on the basis, those members can do it on the basis, 'Well look, my riding doesn't want an election, doesn't want one now. Thinks it's the wrong time to do it.'"

Murphy explains to Grewal that abstaining is a better option than crossing the floor and could allow for future talks.

"If someone abstains in that environment who has exercised a decision based on principle, (it) still gives him the freedom to have some negotiating room on both sides.

"Then the freedom to have discussions is increased."

Murphy described the next step for an MP who has abstained against the wishes of his party leader.

"A person can say, 'Look, I obviously abstained and created some issues' and then they can say, 'I'm thinking hard about what the right thing for my riding and the contribution I would like to make.'"

Murphy goes on to say, "In advance of that explicit discussions about Senate, not Senate I don't think are very helpful and I don't think can be had in advance of an abstention tomorrow."

He says discussions could be held later.

"You can easily say, if you don't like, you can stay home or stay back where you are or if you do like we can make an arrangement that allows you to move."

Egads! Here we have, buried under a pile of carefully-parsed verbiage (vetted by Justice Department lawyers beforehand, perhaps?) an offer to an opposition MP of a government appointment in exchange for his abstention from a confidence vote.

Yet the MSM takes umbrage at Gurmant Grewal's heinous act of taping a private conversation!

Real journalists would have delighted at having a smoking gun like this dropped in their laps. You know, the kind who will investigate stories of corruption in government, without fear or favour, regardless of whether the government in question is on the side of the angels or the devils as they see it.

But not our MSM. They're as much a part of the political establishment as the politicians they report on. They go to the same cocktail parties and golf clubs. There is not the slightest hint of an adversarial relationship, not even of a gently probing friendly scepticism, in their reportage.

We pay a price for having a media that falsely claims an independence from and an objectivity towards the political establishment that it has tied itself to.

And though the media doesn't realize it, it pays a heavy price too. Tying its credibility to a particular political party's fortunes means that it will go down with the party.

Poor Little Rich Girl, Continued

If this Globe and Mail article is to be believed, Belinda Stronach left the Conservative caucus because Stephen Harper was a big, bad meanie to her:

OTTAWA -- One of Belinda Stronach's friends says she was driven from the Conservative Party by a loud dressing-down she received from Stephen Harper after she went public last week with her belief that an election should be delayed.

"I'm surprised she put up with it as long as she did," said one of her confidantes, who has talked with her repeatedly since she announced her departure Tuesday.

"The conversation she had with Harper, it was abusive. He yelled, he screamed, he berated her. It was a completely ridiculous situation for any person, particularly a woman, to have to be put in. And I can't imagine anybody in that situation putting up with that kind of nonsense and being expected to sit around in caucus."

The Liberals have bemoaned what they consider to be sexist undertones to the public denunciation Belinda has rightfully received for her act of crass opportunism.

But consider the undertone of her friend's comment: A delicate lady like Belinda shouldn't, couldn't, withstand having a man raise his voice at her.

I wonder if she swooned like a Victorian maiden and had to be revived with smelling salts.

How's that for sexist?

But seriously, folks:

Belinda owes her lot in life to being Daddy's little princess, aided and abetted by equally indulgent father figures doing the hard work for her, whether executives at Magna or senior political operatives.

Stephen Harper might have been the first man in her life who did not treat her like a little princess, who told her to work and obey the rules like everyone else, who did not indulge her every whim.

And so she flounced out of the room, pouting and sulking about how mean and unfair that Mr. Harper was to her.

Along come two other indulgent father figures, in the persons of David Peterson and Paul Martin, to tell her how wonderful and special she really is, and offering her that cute little pony cabinet post she wanted right now!

How else would you expect Daddy's little princess to respond?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?

CBC reports that Peter MacKay's feeling "a little banged up" after Belinda publicly dumped him and the Tories yesterday to shack up with her latest suitors.

Tough break, Peter. But that's how it is with those pretty rich bimbos.

The screwing you got ain't worth the screwing you got.

Budget Fudging

The wound from Belinda's knife in the back is still gushing and Stephen Harper's attempt to pull it out might just drive it in further. From CTV :

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper announced Tuesday night that the Tories would be voting in support of the federal budget on Thursday, but that they would still try to defeat the minority government on a budget amendment.

The amendment in question was part of a Liberal deal to win criticial NDP budget support. It proposes $4.6 billion in new spending on housing and the environment and also proposes a delay in a series of corporate tax cuts. It is also scheduled for a vote on Thursday.

"It's our intention to support Bill C-43, the original budget," Harper said after an emergency caucus meeting Tuesday night, hours after high-profile MP Belinda Stronach defected to the Liberals.

"We'll oppose Bill C-48, which was the deal with the NDP, which is complete irresponsible fiscal policy," Harper added.

Prime Minister Paul Martin has said both bills are confidence matters and that losing either vote would trigger an election.

Stephen Harper committed the caucus to voting down the budget, come hell or high water, regardless of his previous position two months ago. The public has forgotten that the Tories were going to support the budget back then. Even I, a more focused political observer than the norm, had half-forgotten that.

With Belinda's defection, and the wavering of Norman Doyle and Loyola Hearn over the fate of the Atlantic Accord, the perception is that Stephen Harper has blinked.

The public will not care about the jesuitical hairsplitting between the body of the budget in C-43 and the side deal with the NDP in C-48. He pledged to defeat the budget, he backed down, and that's all we'll hear about from the media.

He should have stood his ground and risked the budget passing.

The voters will sooner forgive obstinacy than weakness.

The Liberals are corrupt and authoritarian, but they do not back down out of some misguided sense of fair play and consistency.

Neither should the Tories.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Poor Little Rich Girl

Every week on The Simple Life , we witness the comical misadventures of a silly spoiled blonde heiress as she stumbles her way through a series of sometimes difficult, often unglamorous jobs.

We've seen her muddling her way through the corporate world as titular head of the family business, cutting ribbons at new plants and handing out cheques at charity fundraisers while Daddy and his handpicked team of executives do the real work.

We cringed even as we laughed while we watched her playing at party leadership contender, as she travelled from coast to coast hemming and hawing about tents and pies while flashing her pearly smile and designer duds.

We shook our heads when we saw her attempts at being just another opposition MP and shadow cabinet critic. It was only a matter of time before she decided that answering constituents' letters and criticizing government policy was just too hard, y'know, like, having to learn about policy and boring stuff?

Now we get to see her in another exciting instalment as cabinet minister. Sure, she'll love getting a nice cushy office and limo back. But we'll get to laugh again when she tries to defend the integrity of her new boss, right after she dumped her old job and boyfriend in public!

Or maybe the voters of Newmarket-Aurora will cancel the series for good.

And maybe Daddy will finally cut off his little princess's allowance.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Paul Martin has called upon the Conservatives to restore civility to debate in the House of Commons, reports Canoe.

Joe Volpe could not be reached for comment.

Scott Brison wasn't available to comment either.

Carolyn Parrish, though no longer a Liberal, unfortunately was.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Thumbs Down From Sudan

Sudan has rejected Paul Martin's offer to send 100 peacekeepers to Darfur under the aegis of the African Union because it wasn't consulted about the proposal, CTV reports:

Canada may not be able to single-handedly bring an end to the fighting and bring peace to Darfur, but Canada can do a great deal," Martin told reporters Thursday.

But Sudanese ambassador Faiza Hassan Taha said Friday that Ottawa didn't consult or negotiate with Sudan on the planned deployment of Canadians before Martin made an announcement and that the troops will not be allowed into the country.

PMO spokeswoman Melanie Gruer told The Globe and Mail that Martin phoned Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir about 24 hours in advance of the announcement.

When asked whether the conversation was a "consultation," Gruer repeated instead that "the Sudanese were advised."

Taha said that while Sudan welcomes Canadian concern, it objects to foreign peacekeeping troops in Darfur from non-African nations.

She said the Sudanese government is concerned about the political climate in Canada, with independent MP David Kilgour leading the call for increased involvement in exchange for his support on a confidence vote next week, The Globe reported.

Even tin-pot little African dictatorships can see through Paul Martin.

When Canada was genuinely respected on the world stage and had the commensurate military force, such an offer would not have been summarily dismissed as futile gesture by a weak man clinging to office by any means necessary.

Sudan has much more to worry about than propping up a second-rate Western power's government. It knows full well why Martin is offering this little token of assistance, and it will not dignify it nor demean itself by accepting it.

This pathetic episode underscores what decades of Liberal posturing about soft power and neglect of our military capacity have done to our reputation in the world.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Come Fly With Me

The feds will spend $350 million to build the new Bombardier C-Series aircraft in Montreal, the Toronto Star reports.

The province of Quebec was selected as the final assembly site location because of the Canadian and Quebec governments' competitive partnership offers, as well as the overall favourable economic and manufacturing context," Bombardier said in a statement.

But the Star isn't happy with this recent announcement of Liberal largesse. Not in the least, because the Downsview plant was supposed to get the job:

Critics of the deal say the decision to make the plane in Quebec is a political ploy by the Liberals, who are likely going to face voters next month and are using the Bombardier investment to curry favour in Quebec at a time when disillusionment over the sponsorship scandal is high.

Meanwhile, some of those who lobbied hard to bring final assembly of the CSeries to Toronto now worry what the future holds for workers at the Downsview facility.

Bob Hamilton, plant chairperson for Canadian Auto Workers Local 112, which represents 1,600 workers at Bombardier's Downsview facility, said yesterday it was widely expected that Montreal would get the work. Workers at the Downsview plant, which builds the Dash 8 turboprop aircraft and Global Express executive jet, agreed to a wage freeze and changes in work rules as part of a 2003 deal that cost 360 jobs.
Councillor Maria Augimeri, (Ward 9, York Centre), who lobbied for Bombardier to locate the CSeries in Toronto, sounded deflated yesterday. Augimeri, chair of the Aerospace Action Partnership, a government, labour and business body set up to promote the industry said: "They left us with no hope for the plant. I'm angry."

Toronto's blind allegiance to the Liberal Party lets the Liberal government off the hook for any promise to Toronto it may choose to break. "New deal for cities"? Gas tax sharing? Infrastructure deals? Waterfront development? All those have, or will, fall by the wayside without serious political cost.

Montreal voters get skittish and the money rolls in.

Toronto voters stay loyal and get nothing for it, except the privilege of tarnishing the rest of Ontario's image as a province of corruption-loving statist fools.

Toronto could learn a lesson from Montreal, if it weren't so smug and self-righteous about its position as the enlightened centre of the universe.

Twin Spin

Latest rumour running round the Hill is that Jack Layton will "twin" the next confidence vote, whenever that may be held.

Angry in the Great White North has the best analysis of the reasoning behind Layton's offer (if true).

If Layton has decided to twin the vote, Ed Broadbent is the most likely candidate to abstain from voting.

Broadbent is not seeking re-election because of his wife's illness. He would have the most legitimate reason to absent himself from the vote, and in so doing, could not be criticized for playing mere partisan games.

It would also be an act of compassion and statesmanship towards an MP who himself is severely ill.

He has also publicly stated that he considers Tuesday's vote to have been a non-confidence vote. His abstention would underscore that statement: this vote is not really necessary, because it has already been taken.

Any of the NDP caucus could be absented, but only Ed Broadbent has the stature, as a former party leader and widely-respected parliamentarian, to make a simple parliamentary practice into a grander gesture.

UPDATE: Ed Broadbent has announced that he will sit out the next confidence vote, thus allowing Darryl Stinson to return to British Columbia for surgery.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


He who controls the sitting of the House, enjoys the confidence of the House. He who does not, does not.

How much simpler can it be put than that?

Paul Martin's billion-dollar-a-day bribefest announcements are great photo ops. They may be even great campaign material.

They are not, and will never be, a sign that his government commands the confidence of the House.

Show some courage for once in your life, Mr. Martin. Go back in there and introduce your own vote of confidence, if you think your government can win it. Don't rely on the ghoulish hope that one of the ailing MPs will either die or be too sick to vote in a week's time. Don't send troops in harm's way as the price of a former colleague's vote.


Ontario Budget Report

Will Ontario have a balanced budget by election year 2007? Greg Sorbara said no yesterday in his budget.

Ian Urquhart at the Liberal Party's house organ, however, is cackling with glee about Sorbara's cunning plan to produce one just in time for the next Ontario election:

In fact, the government is on track to deliver a balanced budget in 2007, which just happens to be an election year. The small print in the budget tells us so.

First of all, the deficit forecast for the 2007-08 fiscal year — $1.5 billion — is offset in the government's projection by a "reserve" fund of the same amount.

This is prudent budgeting. A government never knows when unforeseen events — like the SARS outbreak in 2003 — might throw its projections off track and require the use of reserve funds. But absent such an event, the government could book the reserve and claim a deficit of zero in 2007-08.

Indeed, the government did just that in the past fiscal year to help bring the deficit down from a projected $6.1 billon to $3 billion.

Secondly, the government traditionally underestimates its revenues. Last year, for example, revenues were $2.65 billion higher than forecast. A similar windfall in 2007-08 would wipe out the deficit for that year.

Thirdly, the outlook for 2007-08 contained in yesterday's budget does not include new federal transfers that were promised in last weekend's deal between Premier Dalton McGuinty and Prime Minister Paul Martin. Provincial officials were reluctant to estimate how much money is involved, but it could be in the range of $1 billion by 2007-08.

And finally, yesterday's long-term budget outlook makes no provision for new revenues from the sale of government assets, even though Sorbara said in his budget speech that "a review of major government assets continues."

The previous Conservative government used asset sales to balance the budget before each of the last two elections. What assets might the Liberals sell? The LCBO, for one. An expert panel is currently examining the government-owned booze retailer with an eye to selling it or turning it into an income trust.

So the elements are in place for Sorbara to pull a balanced budget out of his hat two years from now — or within six months of the 2007 election, thereby depriving the opposition Conservatives of an effective attack against the governing Liberals.

But look what else he's promised:

$6.2 billion over five years for post-secondary students.

$30 billion for infrastructure.

$33 billion for health care and NO NEW TAXES (so far).

All this and a balanced budget in two years time, assuming that economic growth continues to rise, they can sell the LCBO, the recent deal with Paul Martin holds up, etc. etc.

Wishful thinking, all of it. But who'll remember this promise two years from now?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Heward Grafftey. Remember him? No, seriously. Used to be in Joe Clark's cabinet. Ran for the PC leadership in 2003.

It seems the people couldn't get enough of him, so he's running for the Progressive Canadian Party in Brome-Missisquoi.

From his press release:

Starting from the bottom up, from the grass roots, we shall build up our
party from coast to coast. We shall be known as a "peoples' party." Someday
the P.C. party will form a new government in Ottawa. It will take a lot of
hard work and I call on the people of Brome-Missisquoi to support me in this
vital task. I want to work with them and serve them as their future M.P. Let
us begin.


Macdonald and Cartier, the two principal Fathers of Confederation called
themselves Progressive Conservatives. A P.C. coalition governed Canada from
1867 to the early twentieth century, with the exception of a brief time.
Macdonald and Cartier would be the first to ask the citizens of
Brome-Missisquoi to support my candidacy as a committed Progressive

There is something pathetic about a certain subset of politicians who achieve a certain status and then reduce themselves to laughingstocks by drifting out to the political fringes through repeated futile campaigns.

Harold Stassen, the former Minnesota governor who went from boy wonder of the Republican Party to perennial presidential candidate is the most obvious example. Paul Hellyer's drift from the Liberals, to the Progressive Conservatives, and finally to oblivion as leader of the hard-left Canadian Action Party is another.

Don't do it, Mr. Grafftey. You will only look like an old has-been pining for long-lost glory days.

Paul Martin Speaks

Here is Paul Martin's official statement about yesterday's non-confidence vote:

Good afternoon.

Can't disagree with that. The weather is nice this afternoon.

Canada has a long and proud Parliamentary tradition, and there are rules and conventions that guide that tradition. Rules and conventions that are older than any of us.

The vote in the House of Commons last night was important, but it was not a matter of confidence.

So important, in fact, that two senior ministers didn't show for it. Even more importantly, the government ignored just about all the constitutional and parliamentary rules and conventions to deny the obvious.

If your boss asks you to clean out your desk, he's not just advising you to tidy up your workspace. A vote calling for the government to resign works on the same principle.

However, it is clear that in keeping with our Parliamentary tradition, the question of confidence in the government must be settled soon, clearly, and definitively.

I have just met with my caucus. Earlier today, I spoke with my cabinet. And this is what I told them.

On May 17, voters in British Columbia will be going to the polls in a provincial election.

Next Tuesday and Wednesday, I will be in Regina to welcome the Queen to Canada. On Thursday, May 19, I will be in Ottawa. And I am proposing that there be, on that day, a vote on the budget bill. This vote will be a matter of confidence.

And why will it be a vote of confidence? Because Martin says so. This time, parliamentary and constitutional convention just happen to agree with him, when it's convenient to blame the opposition for playing political games during a royal visit.

Make no mistake: I am committed to working with Jack Layton to pass the budget -- a balanced budget that would help strengthen our economy, protect our environment and create a national program of early learning and child care.

I believe that Canadians want this budget passed. And I believe they want an election to be held after the final report of Judge Gomery.

In other words: he's going to use Jack Layton to keep his government alive until he can prorogue Parliament until after Judge Gomery issues a report full of recommendations but empty of blame. At which time he will declare that he and the Liberal Party have been exonerated, then call an election and hopefully sweep to a majority.

If the government loses the vote next Thursday, I will seek the dissolution of this Parliament and Canadians will know that Stephen Harper and Gilles Duceppe have worked together to force an election less than one year after the last election.

By scheduling this vote, I am respecting my obligations to our Parliamentary tradition.

I call on Stephen Harper and Gilles Duceppe to respect their obligations – to demonstrate respect for Parliament and for Canadians by ensuring this House is able to function between now and the day of the vote, and by committing to Canadians that they will honour and recognize the outcome of the confidence vote.”

A fugitive who surrenders himself after fleeing arrest doesn't deserve praise for making a gracious concession to the law. Neither should we consider Paul Martin's pledge of a confidence vote next week the same way.

But now he's released his campaign theme--those scary Tories and the treasonous separatists have ganged up on us to force people back from the cottage to vote in the summer.

Wonder how long it took Scott Reid and David Herle to cook this statement up? They should have had something for the PM last night better than this warmed-over hash.

The Duty of A Free Society

Yesterday evening, Paul Martin's government disregarded centuries of parliamentary and constitutional convention by refusing either to resign or seek dissolution of the House after being defeated on a non-confidence vote.

So arrogant was the government in its refusal to treat the non-confidence in the proper manner, that it allowed two of its cabinet ministers to skip the vote, thus underscoring its dismissal of the Constitution and parliamentary procedure.

In other countries, such an act of defiance would be met with public scorn and outrage, protests, and demonstrations.

In Canada, it may simply meet with public indifference.

It should not. It must not, because indifference to the rule of law weakens and inevitably destroys the foundations of our democratic system.

The Liberal Party stands exposed, through the testimony given at the Gomery inquiry by those involved, as a thoroughly corrupt organization governed by nothing except the will to power.

To its leadership and its activists, the rule of law is not sacrosanct, but a flexible device for maintaining its hold on power, a sword against its enemies, a shield for its allies.

Where the rule of law does not serve the party's ends, it is dispensed with. Then it turns to the power of the purse, showering their friends with contracts, offering bribes to voters. In so doing, it builds a network of dependents whose interests become inextricably intertwined with the interests of the party, reinforcing each other's reliance.

It is not necessarily illegal, immoral or unethical for a party in power to reward its supporters, or to promote their interests, Indeed, without the promise of such reward, there would be little incentive for active political partisanship.

But where the rule of law is disregarded in this pursuit of reward, and the public purse treated as the party's treausry, the law must step in to bring an end to these acts, and punish the guilty.

Each transgression that goes unpunished is easier to rationalize away. The individual conscience becomes dulled, and eventually is deadened, as minor transgressions give rise to major.

So too, the collective conscience of the party, and of the people, whose outrage eventually gives way to tolerance, passivity, and finally acceptance.

If we fail to protest the government's refusal to resign, we become accomplices to the government's misdeeds. We become party to the greatest of all crimes in a free society: the failure to defend the rule of law.

The current government has made much of its party's role as defender of civil liberties, human rights, and social programs. Yet its claims ring hollow because they are not supported by honest and ethical practice.

The current government would have you believe that its principal opposition would diminish your civil liberties. Yet what liberties would it not also diminish, to retain its hold on power?

What rights would it not violate, if such rights stood in its way?

What programs would it not cancel, or bankrupt, if to do so would ensure the loyalty of the public necessary to remain in office?

Why should we trust the word of this government in lesser matters, when its word cannot be trusted in the greatest?

The government has broken faith with the people.

Let us now break faith with it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Fire Sale

Emboldened by Dalton McGuinty's recent payoffs on daycare and transfer payments, Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert is off to Ottawa to extract his pound of flesh from the Libranos. As CP reports:

Calvert has a meeting with Finance Minister Ralph Goodale on Tuesday and, if all goes well, a meeting with the prime minister will follow, he said. He said he is planning to return home with a cheque.

"I think we can all observe that there is a desire in the national government to conclude some of these outstanding files," Calvert told reporters Monday.

"I'm appreciative of this opportunity to conclude it."


Saskatchewan has long been seeking an accord that would essentially see all of its oil and gas revenues removed from the federal equalization formula.

It's similar to a deal that Nova Scotia and Newfoundland were able to negotiate with Ottawa earlier this year, taking into account their offshore oil revenues.

The Saskatchewan government has never put a figure on how much it wants from Ottawa, other than to say that it has missed out on about $4 billion in extra revenue over the last decade because of the way oil royalties are handled by the formula.
Saskatchewan is currently one of a handful of provinces that does not receive any equalization payments because higher resource royalties from high oil prices have swelled the province's coffers.

But the prairie province has long contended that its equalization payments are clawed back at an unfair rate because of its energy revenues.

Premier Calvert will indeed come home with a cheque for about...oh, say, $4 billion? If he pulls down the Canadian flag, maybe he can get a couple hundred million more on top. And if he threatens to deploy the provincial NDP machine against Ralph Goodale in Wascana....

Paul Martin will pay any price to cling to power for just one more day, and he's already paid with his reputation for fiscal responsibility.

But hey, it's easy money. If we beg and scream loud enough, maybe Paul and Ralph will cut us cheques too.

Why don't we ask them?

Ralph Goodale: Goodale.R@parl.gc.ca
Paul Martin: Martin.P@parl.gc.ca

A Question of Confidence

Our long national nightmare may come to an end today, because the Tories have finally discovered how to play a little dirty pool, according to the Globe and Mail:

MPs will vote today on a Conservative motion calling on the government to resign, after another wild day of procedural tactics.

Although the Liberals insist the motion is not one of confidence, two experts said the government would be expected to schedule a clear confidence vote in coming days if it loses today's vote.

"If that motion passes, I think they are -- to use the vernacular -- in deep doodoo," said parliamentary expert Charles Franks.

The Conservatives secured the vote yesterday through a surprise move that they had quietly planned days in advance with the Bloc Québécois.

Two Tory MPs who have cancer are being flown in for the vote, and all 54 Bloc MPs are in Ottawa today. B.C. Independent MP Chuck Cadman, who had chemotherapy treatment yesterday, will not be there to support the Liberals, so the Tories should have the votes to win.

It also looks like Paul Martin may have the same problem that Joe Clark did with counting votes:

Liberal Whip Karen Redman said two Liberal MPs could be absent today, for personal and medical reasons. But she insisted this is not a no-confidence vote.

Both Bloc Québécois House Leader Michel Gauthier and Tory House Leader Jay Hill confirmed yesterday that the two parties had met to plan for yesterday's surprise motion. The Speaker of the House ruled the motion in order, setting the stage for today's confrontation.

So let's see if I have this right:

The Liberals will lose a vote calling on their government to resign--as clear an expression of non-confidence as one can get--yet the Liberals will ignore it and keep on governing. So sure are they of their own interpretations of parliamentary and constitutional convention that they don't even see the need to have everyone in the house to defeat it.

Yet if they call their own non-confidence vote, and lose, will they also ignore that too?

Our parliamentary and constitutional conventions rest on the assumption that our elected officials will have the honour and decency to abide by them. If they do not, then all of the declarations of constitutional experts and parliamentarians mean nothing.

This government thinks nothing of stealing taxpayers' money for its own political purposes. What are mere constitutional conventions to it?

Monday, May 09, 2005

Last Rat Off The Sinking Ship

Don Boudria, the last member of the infamous Liberal "Rat Pack" in Parliament, will not re-offer as MP for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell.

The Rat Pack were most effective in opposition, where their style of attack lowered the tone of debate while raising their public profile.

They proved to be somewhat less effective when entrusted with power.

John Nunziata never made the switch and got the boot for voting against the 1996 deficit-slashing budget.

Sheila Copps never recovered from her pledge to resign if the GST wasn't scrapped, and the sham speedy by-election which she won.

Brian Tobin was effectively squeezed out of the leadership race.

And Don Boudria ended up as collateral damage in the sponsorship scandal because of a weekend ski trip.

(Side note: Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, in all its incarnations, has been Liberal since 1887. Boudria's margin of victory, once well over 30,000 votes, was cut to about 5,000 in the last election. This seat could well be turned in the way the rest of Eastern Ontario is being turned. It wasn't that long ago that Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke was one of the safest Liberal seats in the land, either.)

Sunday, May 08, 2005

V-E Day: When Halifax Went Wild

As the world commemorates the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe, Haligonians remember the V-E Day riots, when servicemens' resentment towards locals boiled over into an orgy of drunken fighting and looting.

From the Halifax Daily News:

By midnight, downtown Halifax was filled to bursting with more than 12,000 celebrants who had no place to eat, drink or relax. They rioted instead, setting ablaze tramcars and a police paddy wagon, smashing windows, looting liquor stores and denuding shops of merchandise. On Barrington Street, there was so much broken glass in the street it spilled over the top of the curb. One reporter who wandered through the downtown devastation the next morning compared it to “London after a blitz.”

The riots might have ended that morning as hungover sailors and civilians, many clutching their ill-gotten booty, stumbled home to sleep off their night before.

But Admiral Murray, assuming the newspapers were again trying to blame his sailors for the sins of civilians and convinced few of his men actually participated in the riots, unleashed another 9,500 sailors on the city at noon.

By the time the mayhem ended later that day — after the admiral and mayor drove through town in a sound truck ordering everyone to return to their homes and barracks, and imposing a curfew on the city — Halifax was suffering a hangover of its own.

There were three men dead, 363 arrested and 571 business pillaged. Sixty-five thousand quarts of liquor, 8,000 cases of beer and 1,500 cases of wine had been “liberated” from liquor commission shelves. The total price tag: more than $5 million, including the cost of replacing 2,624 sheets of plate glass.

Oh How The Money Rolls In!

Paul Martin is doing his damnedest to buy off skittish Ontario voters redress the fiscal imbalance, #338 on his ever-expanding list of #1 priorities.

$5.75 billion over five years wouldn't come near to covering the deficit, let alone cover interest on the provincial debt. But it might break up Dalton McGuinty's recent flirtation with Stephen Harper, and that's all that counts right now.

Read the details in the all-too-often cited Globe and Mail.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Baby Bonus

The Grits have bribed Ontario voters with their own money again with the announcement of the $1.8 billion daycare program.

A national daycare program, as you may know, was top priority in the Liberal party platform in 1993 1997 2000 2004 , well, whenever.

But wait! There's a catch! If those evil, right-wing Tories join hands with the treacherous Bloquistes to defeat the budget, , the deal is off!

How important is this new program to the future of Canada? No less important than medicare itself!

Martin said the agreement-in-principle with Ontario will mean a stronger child-care system, and compared the agreement to those that led to the creation of medicare in Canada.

After spending an hour with day-care workers at a school in Brantford, Ont., later Friday, the prime minister recalled his father's role as Canada's health minister in the 1940s, when hospital insurance was first created.

Martin said he hopes historians will one day recognize the importance of his government's child-care strategy.

"I believe that what is happening in terms of early learning and child care, is that we are building the next generation's medicare," he said.

Next generation's medicare? Great! That means all babies will have to wait for weeks on waiting lists to get their diapers changed and bottles filled while the RCMP bust housewives for promoting private two-tier childcare!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Confidence Tricksters

When is a vote of non-confidence not a vote of non-confidence? When the Liberals say it isn't!

A Conservative effort to hold a confidence vote by May 18 was approved by the House of Commons on Thursday - but it took the Liberals just minutes to brush it aside. Constitutional experts say precedents in Canadian parliamentary history offer little direction as Prime Minister Paul Martin's government lurches toward a crisis.

House Leader Tony Valeri insisted the motion is simply a procedural matter that has no binding effect on the government.

"There is no non-confidence motion," Valeri said. Moments earlier, the Commons Speaker endorsed the Conservative motion, which calls on the government to resign.

"This is merely an instruction to a committee," said Valeri.

The motion asked the Commons Finance committee "to recommend that the government resign."

The Liberals are not above stealing taxpayers' money to fund their election campaigns. They would certainly not be above ignoring centuries of parliamentary and constitutional practice to hold on to power.

Should this motion pass, and the Liberals ignore it, we may have a genuine constitutional crisis on our hands. The government of the day will have lost the confidence of the House, yet it will be clinging to power unconstitutionally.

The Governor General would almost certainly have to intervene, whether to call on Stephen Harper to form a government, or to dissolve Parliament and call an election.

But supposing that the Governor General, a Liberal partisan appointee herself, also ignores her constitutional duty?

At that point, the system will have broken down, with barely a shrug from the people.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The China Syndrome

The fine folk who ran the sponsorship program, in expression of their solidarity with fellow supporters of corrupt one-party regimes, dropped $10 million on a 26-part Chinese TV series about Canada called Dashan and Friends in Canada .

Per Canada's National Newspaper:

"The China project, from start to finish, was strictly politically driven," Mr. Guité said.

"My problem was, how do I justify a sponsorship . . . to put up money for a project in China?" he added.

"There's not too many sovereigntists in China," a bemused Mr. Justice John Gomery concurred

Mr. Guité said that (Vickers & Benson)CEO John Hayter told him the project had support in the Prime Minister's Office in the wake of the 1994 Team Canada trade mission to China.

Mr. Guité said Mr. Pelletier and Mr. Carle both reviewed the project and gave funding approval.

From 1996 to 1999, documents tabled at the inquiry show, various federal departments put $9.9-million into the series, with Public Works footing the bulk of the bill, with $8.8-million.

The program was supposed to cost Ottawa $3-million, with the rest of the funding coming from private or provincial sources, but the federal government ended up paying the entire bill.

Dashan & Friends had an estimated 20 million viewers in China. In perspective, though, that would translate into 500,000 viewers had it been aired in Canada. We could've done a hell of a lot better sending them Beachcombers reruns.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Chuck Guite Speaks!

The on-again, off-again, on-again publication ban on sponsorship boss Chuck Guite's testimony has been blown right off.

From CTV:

After being implicated by so many witnesses since the commission began, it appears Guite has decided not to go down alone.

Throughout his week testifying in Montreal, Guite named names including the prime minister's.

Guite testified that back in 2000, he was told that then-finance minister Paul Martin had intervened to ensure a Liberal-friendly ad firm wouldn't lose its lucrative contracts with the federal sponsorship program.


"The minister had spoken with both ministers and the volume of business would be maintained," Guite testified. He claimed he was assured (Benson & Vickers) contracts with two federal departments -- Industry under John Manley and Finance under Paul Martin -- were safe.

Guite also claimed ad contracts were routinely handed out to reward ad agencies that did election work for the Liberals.

"It was politically driven," he said, explaining that he was constantly being told to help out the party's friends such as ad executive Jacques Corriveau.

Accused of exploiting a personal relationship with former prime minister Jean Chretien, Corriveau has denied the two were close.

But in his testimony, Guite said that in 1994, then-public works minister David Dingwall told him a different story.

"If you ever meet someone in bed between Jean Chretien and his wife, it'll be Corriveau," recalling Dingwall's remarks. "His comment was, you'll look after him."

In the broad sweep of his testimony, Guite even suggested Chretien's wife wielded influence over the sponsorship program.

Guite told the commission that Aline Chretien chose some of the promotional items purchased by the government. Guite said she pointed out her favourite watch, that he promptly ordered.

"We used to refer to those as Madame Chretien's watches."

These are a just few highlights from Guite's testimony. He's had a week to tell Gomery where the bodies are buried, so they can dig them up and bury Martin their place.

Goodbye, Ed

CBC reports that Ed Broadbent will not re-offer in Ottawa Centre, as his wife Lucille is in poor health.

The NDP that Ed Broadbent came up through to lead is not the NDP that we know today. It's doubtful that Ed could have become leader of the humorless, over-educated and under-informed New Left ideologues who dominate it today. The man has too much fundamental decency and respect for people and Parliament.

Goodbye, Ed, you will be missed, and best wishes for Lucille's health.

Guite Gag Lifted?

Hot off the Canadian Press:

The Department of Justice is seeking to lift the publication ban imposed on sponsorship supremo Chuck Guite's EXPLOSIVE! DYNAMITE! BRILLIANT! A MUST SEE! testimony before the Gomery inquiry.

Government lawyer Sylvain Lussier said Tuesday his principal objection to having the ban maintained is based on jurisdictional grounds. He said Quebec Superior Court, where Guite is awaiting trial on fraud charges, has no power to rule on proceedings before Justice John Gomery's federal inquiry.

"It has no jurisdiction to order the commission to lift or not lift a publication ban," said Lussier.

Beyond that, he said, there is a public interest in keeping the Gomery inquiry as open as possible.

"The federal government has continuously stated that it wanted proceedings before the Gomery commission, and the result of the Gomery commission, made public.

"That's the whole point of having an inquiry."

Memo to Mr. Lussier: Except a call from Irwin Cotler ordering you to drop it. Every time a bigwig's testimony comes out, Grit poll numbers tank. The national interest demands no less.

The Battle of Lebreton Flats

The new Canadian War Museum opening this week on Lebreton Flats (you know, that big empty lot of prime real estate just west of downtown Ottawa that's been sitting vacant for 40 years because the NCC has never been able to figure out what the hell to do with it) is catching flak from War Amps boss Cliff Chadderton for hanging portraits of two soldiers who tortured a Somali boy:

One of the paintings portrays Master Cpl. Clayton Matchee – of the Canadian Airborne Regiment – torturing a teenager, Shidane Arone, inside a Canadian compound in Somalia in 1993.

The other painting shows Pvt. Kyle Brown, who was sentenced to prison for his role in Arone's torture and death.

"The commission of these paintings was completely contrarily to the mission of the new war museum," Chadderton, who also heads the War Amps of Canada, wrote in an editorial published in Tuesday's Ottawa Citizen.

"I am proud of my work for veterans and could not stand by and have my name associated with a trashy, insulting tribute to those who gave their lives."

One may object that the purpose of the Canadian War Museum, or indeed any war museum, is to present an honest reflection of military history, not a jingoistic glorification of war and conquest.

But those object to the display of these portraits are not calling for history to be whitewashed. We are all aware of the horrors of war. It is not the museum's place, however, to propagandize against the Canadian military, and war in general, by throwing the shameful conduct of a few soldiers in people's faces.

One could find examples of even worse acts committed by Canadian soldiers during other conflicts. Why are those not displayed, if this one is?

What is it specifically about the Shidane Arone case that merits such prominence, unless it allows the curators a chance to express their disdain for the military as a haven for violent, racist thugs?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Read My Lips

Dalton McGuinty has promised no new taxes in the May 11 provincial budget.

Promise made. Promise broken. The $6 billion deficit man strikes out again.

Belinda, Prophetess of Doom

Belinda Stronach, the Family Compact's Tory leader-in-waiting, has joined the chorus of voices calling for a halt to plans to bring down the Liberal government:

While her party pushes ahead to try to defeat the minority Liberal government, Conservative MP Belinda Stronach warned yesterday that forcing an election before the federal budget passes is a risky strategy that could backfire on the party.

Ms. Stronach said that critical portions of the budget -- particularly the billions being promised for municipal infrastructure -- are extremely important to individuals in her riding north of Toronto and other constituencies in the area.

"I do have a concern that voting against the entire budget will impact negatively in my riding," she said. "However, I think it's important to say that if this government is serious about doing some good and doing what's right in the public interest, they could pull out certain elements of the budget that all parties could move forward on and agree to."

The Grits have already been sold to Jack Layton. They're done with pulling out bits of the budget as separate bills. They've chosen the hill they want to die on, and it will be the budget as currently constituted.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Cold Feet?

Canada's National Newspaper reports that some Tory MPs are getting cold feet about a non-confidence vote:

I've said for a while that I don't think we should be going to an election right now," said Larry Miller, the Tory MP for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, in a radio interview Saturday.

"Ultimately the choice will be out of our hands, but that's what the majority have said here and that's what I'll take back [to caucus]."

The interview, aired by CKNX-FM in Wingham, Ont., was immediately seized upon by the Liberals as fresh evidence that Tory Leader Stephen Harper is forcing an election that few Canadians want.

Asked whether the decision to oust the Liberals without delay could be reversed, British Columbia MP John Reynolds, the Tories' national campaign co-chair for the coming election, said "you can always change your mind in politics."

Tory deputy leader Peter MacKay struck a similarly ambiguous tone . "I wouldn't call it inevitable," he said yesterday. "I think that the leader will still want to hear from caucus and get a cross-section of feedback from right across the country."

There is an ingrained timidity within the party in the face of extreme media hostility, and it never fails to surface after the media joins the Liberals in launching a full frontal attack.

There has yet to be an adequate response to the "hidden agenda" canard, such as a Contract With America or Common Sense Revolution-style release and repitition of the key points of the party platform. Not even a dismissive one that could disarm the phrase by turning it into a joke.

The media has been telling people every day for the last few weeks that they don't want an election now, not in the fall, not next spring, perhaps never again. Since most people don't think about whether they want an election at any given time, they'll respond to what they think everyone else believes.

The party's response? Back down.

Backing down would only confirm the media myth that the Tories were intent on forcing an election but only held off because the people didn't want one. It would not be a principled decision to respect the people's wishes but another retreat in the face of a Liberal-inspired media campaign.

People may not want an election at this time. Who really does at any time, except active political partisans?

They will not respect the party for backing down from its stand, however. People do not respect the fearful. They would sooner forgive the Tories for forcing them to the polls than they would for flip-flopping.

Sunday, May 01, 2005


The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy topped the box office charts with $21.6 million in its first weekend.

The news just makes me want to break out into reciting Vogon poetry!

Oh freddled gruntbuggly
Thy micturations are to me
As plurdled gabbleblotchits on a lurgid bee.
Groop I implore thee, my foonting turlingdromes
And hooptiously drangle me with crinkly bindlewurdles,
Or I will rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon,
See if I don't!