Thursday, June 30, 2005

Unanswered Questions About Same-Sex Marriage

1. Bill C-38 has extended the Prohibited Degrees of Marriage Act, which bars consanguineous marriage, to include same-sex couples. The principal reason for that Act was to prevent incestuous marriages from producing genetically defective offspring. This can't happen with a same-sex couple. So why maintain the prohibition?

2. Failure to consummate the marriage is grounds for annulment in all jurisdictions. Not to be crude, but what acts would constitute consummation of a same-sex union?

3. Mistake of identity is also grounds for annulment. If a man marries someone he thinks is a woman but who turns out to be a man, how does he demonstrate mistake of identity, since the marriage cannot be annulled by mistake of gender alone?

4. Although adultery has now been subsumed into marriage breakdown in the Divorce Act as grounds for divorce, adultery can still be claimed in a petition for divorce. What will constitute adultery in a same-sex union?

5. If other laws affecting marriage end up being changed to accomodate the different circumstances of same-sex couples, should opposite-sex couple be able to take advantage of these changes, given that there would be no difference at law between the two?

6. Doesn't anyone realize that the state is now more intimately involved in the bedrooms of the nation because of the same-sex marriage law than ever before?

It's Over, Shut Up: Martin

Recent travels have kept me from commenting about the passage of the same-sex "marriage" bill in the House of Commons. Other bloggers have canvassed the matter quite thoroughly and I don't think I can add much more to their commentary.

But I would like to point out that the Liberal government is now attempting to claim that passage of the bill itself in the House of Commons is sufficient to end all public discussion of the issue.

Canadians want to put the rancorous debate on same-sex marriage behind them, despite Stephen Harper's pledge to make it an election issue, Prime Minister Paul Martin says.

Fresh off a House of Commons final vote on the matter, Mr. Martin also warned yesterday that anybody who tries to exploit the issue will be seen as an individual wanting to take away others' rights.

"This is an issue that Canadians I think want to put behind them," he said in an end-of-sitting news conference. "The Parliament has dealt with it."

Martin cannot command the public to cease debate on the issue, especially now that the effects of legalized homosexual "marriage" will now move from the theoretical to the actual.

He is attempting to claim that Canadians have, or want, "social peace" on the issue--the same "social peace" that has been used to forestall all political debate on abortion, an issue that remains no less contentious a generation after its legalization.

Marriage is one of the cornerstones of civilized society throughout the whole world. Changes to the institution affect us all, therefore we cannot simply be indifferent to a change in its civil definition. The blithe statement that "it doesn't affect me or my marriage" is fallacious, because it treats marriage as simply a private contract with no public effects.

Equally fallacious is the claim made by supporters that "we've had it for a couple of years and society hasn't fallen apart." No one has claimed that society would immediately descend into orgiastic debauchery and murderous mayhem once the bill passed. But we can reasonably predict that certain effects will result based on similar effects to changes in other laws related to marriage, divorce, and sexuality. Whether the trains still run on time has nothing to do with whether homosexual marriage is beneficial or detrimental to society.

Parliament can change the law, but it cannot tell Canadians to accept it as a good law, nor can it tell us not to discuss the subject any further. It also cannot decree in advance that the effects thereof will only be beneficial.

The debate hasn't ended. It's only just begun.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Monday, June 27, 2005

No Drag Racing With The Popemobile

Pope Benedict XVI took the time during last Wednesday's address to the public at St. Peter's Square to remind everyone to drive safely this vacation season:

Then, noting that summer holidays are starting in the countries of the northern hemisphere, the Holy Father said: "While I hope that everyone can live with serenity a period of well-earned rest and relaxation, I would like to make an appeal for prudence for all those who are starting their trip to vacation spots. Every day, unfortunately, especially over the weekend, there are many highway accidents with so many lives tragically cut short, more than half of whom are young people.

"In recent years," added Benedict XVI, "much has been done to prevent such tragic accidents but more can and must be done, with everyone's contribution and commitment. Distraction and superficiality must be vanquished for, in a single moment, they can ruin one's own life and that of others. Life is precious and unique: it must always be respected and protected, even with a correct and prudent behaviour on the highway."

Let's all keep His Holiness' words in mind as we head to the cottage for Canada Day weekend.

Source: Vatican Information Service

Sirius Static

As new technologies have rendered the CRTC's attempts to uphold Canadian content requirements on the airwaves as futile as King Canute's attempts to hold back the tide, the much-maligned regulatory agency has bowed to the inevitable and allowed pay satellite radio into Canada.

Naturally, the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting have taken umbrage:

The ruling by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, if allowed to stand, would erode years of efforts to promote and protect Canadian programming on the country's airwaves, said Ian Morrison of the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, one of the groups challenging the decision.

“It's a slippery slope,” Mr. Morrison said in an interview.

“It's taken decades to build up the Canadian content regime in this country. ... By the stroke of a pen, the CRTC is now saying that pay radio can be delivered at a content level of only 8-per-cent Canadian.”

The CRTC, in its ruling released earlier this month, cleared the way for two groups to provide pay-radio service – long in existence in the United States – to the Canadian market via satellite.

Canadian Satellite Radio is a partnership between Toronto businessman John Bitove and Washington-based XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc.

Sirius Canada is a joint venture among the CBC, Standard Radio and U.S.-based Sirius Satellite Radio Inc.

Under the rules laid out by the CRTC on June 16, both groups would be required to provide eight Canadian channels, one-quarter of them in French. But they could carry nine foreign channels for every Canadian one they deliver.

Given that the U.S. broadcast market is about nine times larger than Canada's, it's reasonable to expect that it would produce about nine times as many broadcast channels. The requirement to carry eight Canadian channels is certainly not onerous or arbitrary; it's about what the market would end up with in the normal course of events. And presumably, the Canadian channels would still be subject to the same Canadian content regulations as any other radio broadcaster.

But that's not good enough for the Friends, who, since their inception in 1985, have acted a thinly-disguised lobby group for the CBC and the cartel of organizations who have handsomely profited from CanCon.

In addition to Mr. Morrison's group, the coalition includes:

The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA), the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), Canadian Independent Record Production Association, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Directors Guild of Canada, Songwriters Association of Canada, Writers Guild of Canada, and the National Campus and Community Radio Association.

Ask yourself where the interests of the Friends, and their friends, lie. It's not with you, the Canadian listener.

Source: Canada's National Newspaper

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Million Man March? Maybe Not!

Canadian Press's Paul Choi reports that 125,000 spectators watched the Toronto gay pride parade.

Other media outlets have been telling us that one million people have attended the parade in recent years.


With upwards of a million spectators and participants expected to pack the downtown core this Sunday, the Toronto event is one of the world's biggest -- and most mainstream -- gay celebrations.


About a million people attend the pride parade and it deposits an estimated $80 million into Toronto's coffers.

So if a million people traditionally come to the parade, and only 125,000 did this year, one would expect the article to note a sudden massive drop in attendance.

Unless, of course, the attendance figures have been inflated all along, but accepted by lazy journalists as the gospel truth as have so many other bogus statistical claims.

No Pride for Harper

Someone at Broadcast News is miffed that Stephen Harper preferred to spend Sunday afternoon in Toronto with his son than watching the gay pride parade:

Conservative leader Stephen Harper's efforts to improve his image apparently doesn't extend to Canada's gay community.

Despite being in the Toronto-area today, Harper won't be attending the city's Gay Pride Parade.

Harper helped launch Toronto's International Dragon Boat Race Festival yesterday.

But he says he plans on spending time with his son today rather than catching the world-renowned pride parade.

A national law legalizing same-sex marriage could be voted on as early as tomorrow.

How would it improve Harper's image to attend a parade of grotesque displays of sexual exhibitionism? For that matter, how does it help the image of homosexuals?

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Martin Washes Out in Alberta

Now that the floodwaters have receded and residents are busy cleaning up the damage, Paul Martin has finally deigned to drop by to show his concern for Alberta.

As quoted in Maclean's:

"I very, very much wanted to be here, but . . . in a minority Parliament - when you take a look at the discussions we just had over the budget bills and other such legislation - it was absolutely impossible to be here," Martin said. "This is the first possible opportunity that I had to be here."

Martin pointed out he and Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan, an Alberta MP, had already been "in touch" with Premier Ralph Klein and most of the mayors whose communities were affected by heavy flooding.

"We would have been here much sooner if, in fact, we hadn't been withheld by the problems of a minority government."

Strange how the problems of a minority government didn't prevent Martin from going to Montreal to announce a $1 billion gas tax revenue deal with Quebec while Albertans were being swamped.

Paul Martin's belated appearance after the danger had completely passed, coupled with a thinly disguised crack at Alberta's electoral preferences passing for an apology, are even more offensive than if he had simply not shown up at all.

This government responded much more quickly to the Indian Ocean tsunami, with a much greater show of public concern, than it did for Albertans. Their own people!

Or maybe Ottawa doesn't think Albertans are their own people. Keep that attitude up, and Alberta will return the feeling in spades.

Yank Like Me

In a rare bit of introspection about its anti-American attitudes (but also a not-so-rare bit of Torontonian navel-gazing)the Toronto Star sent reporter David Bruser to play the role of an American tourist in Toronto for a day, and discovered to its surprise that the most tolerant and diverse city in the world is as arrogant as ever towards Uncle Sam:

While many were happy to talk geopolitics and differentiate between the U.S. government and its citizens, several others did not make that distinction, projecting the perceived sins of a nation onto me.

In Kensington Market, the tone was shrill. Of five people I approached, two were downright sanctimonious.

First, I approached John, sitting on a stoop smoking, a Toronto hat on his head. I asked for a lighter, introduced myself and said I'd noticed anti-Americanism in Toronto. He asked if I was a Republican and I said I was.

Then John asked, "Are you a fundamentalist of some kind?"

"This is Kensington Market," he added. "It's about the worst place for fellow right-wingers."

After I thanked him for his time and started walking away, he instructed, "Reconsider your views."

Up Augusta Ave., closer to College St., Charlie, an elderly man sitting outside smoking, needed only my introduction as an American.

"You like Americans?" I asked.

"They brag too much, don't they?" he said.

"They boast. They have this and they have that. (If they spent less) time doing that, they'd just get their problems solved, eh?"

Now this might be dismissed as just the typical ravings of the Kensington Market crowd, where the anarchist bookshop and retro secondhand clothes shops are unlikely to attract the more mature and level-headed members of society.

But one veteran American observer of Toronto has neatly identified the fount and origin of the Toronto attitude:

"I've seen some really appalling behaviour simply because I'm an American," said New York-native Clifford Krauss, Canadian correspondent for The New York Times, who has lived in Toronto and travelled the country for several years.

Though he feels the attitude has improved a little since the November re-election of President George W. Bush and beginning of the war in Iraq, Krauss said he's noticed this "waving a virtuous finger of superiority" is most pronounced in Ontario.

"I think that the anti-Americanism is part of a regional character that fills a vacuum. The Canadian identity, which in some parts of Canada is quite strong, is not so strong here. I say with some trepidation, because it might sound very arrogant, but there are other places in Canada where the culture is richer and where people are more confident in their culture," said Krauss. And, as he points out, the feeling is ingrained in the national psyche, even if what makes an American ugly to some Canadians changes through time (from isolationist in the early days of World War II to world's cop today).

"It goes back to the American Revolution. It's inbred — the Loyalists coming up here, the fact that there was quite a bit of fighting going on between the United States and Canada," Krauss said.

Toronto endlessly reminds its citizens and the rest of the country that it is the most diverse and tolerant city in Canada, if not the world. The message is reinforced with every news article and advertisement.

Yet at its heart, it retains the old parochial attitude of Toronto the Good, that outpost of Empire where the Orange Lodge held sway and everything shut down on Sunday.

The insufferable Protestant moralizing of old has been replaced with a far more insufferable secular humanist moralizing. The Orangemen's Parade has been replaced with the Gay Pride parade as the symbol of Toronto's new civic identity and morality. Instead of temperance crusades, we now get hectored about recycling and carbon emissions.

Toronto, and Ontario itself, would not exist in its current form had it not been for the American Revolution. Its entire civic identity is dependent on a negative--not being American. As founding father John Graves Simcoe stated in 1792, "this province is singularly blest, not with a mutilated constitution, but with a constitution which has stood the test of experience, and which is the very image and transcript of that of Great Britain."

Much has changed in 200 years, but Simcoe's comment about the "mutilated constitution" still resonates in the Toronto psyche.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Summer Bloc Buster

The Bloc's sudden turnaround on the NDP budget bribe bill in exchange for quick passage of same-sex marriage before breaking late for summer has everybody fuming in Tory blogdom.

The MSM has been harping about the Tories being in bed with the separatists for so long that I think even we started believing they were some sort of coalition partners, hence the screeching by Peter MacKay et. al. about the Grits' underhanded tricks in wooing the Bloc.

The Globe and Mail is predictably quite happy about the vote to shut down debate on C-48, since it practically assures passage of their beloved same-sex marriage bill next week.

But buried in the celebratory article are hints that Paul Martin still can't keep his caucus in line:

With the support of the Bloc and the NDP, the Liberals had little problem winning a vote late yesterday to approve a motion to extend the sitting indefinitely and an earlier motion to shut down debate over the extension. Still, 14 Liberal backbenchers voted against the motion. Many are known to oppose the same-sex marriage bill.

If the Bloc hadn't done an about-face on the budget, some or all of those anti-SSM Grit backbenchers would almost certainly have voted against C-48. The Liberals would go into an unwanted summer election with SSM pushed to the forefront by its own MPs.

Martin would be hard-pressed to blame the "Alliance-Conservative-separatist coalition" for an election caused by his inability to manage his caucus.

What can he do, slag his own backbenchers on the campaign trail?

It seems Paul Martin can manage everyone else's caucus, but not his own.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Mulroney Funeral Rumours?

A cautionary note about NealeNews' report about planning by Heritage Canada for Brian Mulroney's state funeral:

State funeral plans are periodically reviewed, not just when there are rumours or the likelihood that death is imminent.

These plans are not unlike the stock obituaries newspapers and broadcasters keep on file for leading public figures and update regularly, even when these persons are not in any apparent danger of death.

Logistics require at least basic plans to be in place, because it's too late to start from scratch once someone actually dies.

Healthcare Hypocrisy

The RCMP and Armed Forces will now be receiving private healthcare through a recently-signed $400 million contract with Calian Technologies, a private healthcare outsourcer.

Here's the kicker:

The RCMP is spending $250 million on health-care, with some of that money going to private clinics. Corrections Canada also spends some of its budget on private health care.

This makes the government the largest purchaser of private health care services in the country.

Canada expects that every man will do his duty to defend the sacred symbol of our nation.

The Armed Forces and Mounties may have to die in the line of fire.

The rest of us may have to die in line for treatment.

Source: CTV

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Real Men Don't Eat Soy

Thanks to Warwick for this little gem.

One wonders if the rise of the feminized sensitive new age man and increased acceptance of homosexual behaviour is in some way linked to increased soy production and consumption.

If we are what we eat, it certainly explains why the new left, especially its environmental wing, disdains the traditional manly virtues in favour of effeminate sentimentality.

On the positive side, they won't reproduce future generations.

Dereliction of Duty

NDP MP Bill Siksay wants Canada to open the doors to American military deserters who have fled from duty rather than serve in Iraq, reports CTV:

According to the British Columbia MP, the issue resonates with a lot of Canadians.

For example, Siksay told CTV's Canada AM early Wednesday, Canadians are widely opposed to the prison abuse reported at the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay prisons.

"They're (also) outraged at the failure to produce any weapons of mass destruction, since that was one of the main reasons for going into this war," he added.

So far, that support has translated into 15,000 signatures on a petition organized by the community-based War Resisters Support Campaign.

"There's huge public support for these war resisters in Canada," Siksay said.

Let's leave aside the issue of 15,000 signatures on a petition equalling huge public support. I could get 15,000 signatures on a petition to reinstate the stocks for petty thieves and dunking for common scolds.

The question is whether Mr. Siksay would have extended the same support to conscripts into Saddam Hussein's army, or to conscripts in the Chinese and North Korean armies.

Refusal to serve for them would not have resulted in a fair trial, a dishonourable discharge and a year or two in an austere but livable military prison.

Refusal for them would have met with a quick bullet to the back of the head, if they were lucky.

Live 8, Talent 0

Never mind that the proceeds from the Live 8 concerts will do nothing to relieve African poverty, not even for an hour.

Never mind that the opinions of a group of self-important multi-millionaire pop stars on debt relief should be given as much weight as the IMF's views on bass riffs and synth cords.

Never mind that writing off $40 billion of foreign debt will only reward decades of kleptocracy and wasteful Marxist-inspired dirigisme.

No, the most offensive part of this pharasaical exercise in public self-congratulation is that we'll have to listen to a bunch of has-beens who were available on such short notice because, well, they're over the hill.

Thus sneers Toronto Star pop music critic Ben Rayner:

While the collective popularity at home and abroad of the artists who will assemble in the barren stretch of highwayside turf formerly known as Molson Park and now known as Park Place (not quite the Palais de Versailles, that) on July 2 is nothing to be sneezed at, the artists are, in the accelerated terms by which popular music operates, almost without exception representative of the distant past.

Bryan Adams, Bruce Cockburn, Gordon Lightfoot, Randy Bachman, Burton Cummings and Tom Cochrane have all made a significant dent in the Canadian and international consciousnesses at various points during their careers, but the days of their greatest visibility and popular success are long behind them.

Blue Rodeo, Jann Arden, the Tragically Hip and the Barenaked Ladies, too, are now fondly regarded as elder statesmen (and woman) more so than they are vibrant artistic concerns. Even the comparatively callow Our Lady Peace has, to some extent, become yesterday's news to the kids; the reformed Mötley Crüe actually has more contemporary resonance.

So what gives? If, as Geldof has stated, the Live 8 project is aimed at raising as much awareness and enthusiasm for the drive to eradicate global poverty as possible, would it not make sense to cast the net a little more widely, to trawl for support amongst generations that might actually be around long enough to see the goal through?

It is rarely a problem drawing 35,000 bodies out to a star-studded free concert, even one that raises the terrible spectre of a via-satellite appearance by Vegas-shackled Céline Dion. The concert's simultaneous scheduling with five other massively hyped Live 8 shows in Paris, Rome, Berlin, Philadelphia and London automatically makes it the kind of event that people want to be a part of.

Why not, then, make an effort beyond the cursory inclusion of young(-ish) Canadians Sam Roberts, A Simple Plan and Tegan & Sara — who will, no doubt, wind up playing three-song sets with fellow sacrificial tokens the African Guitar Summit and DobaCaracol featuring Kna'an to an indifferent crowd beneath the full might of the early-afternoon sun — on the bill to attract at least the attention, if not the physical presence, of a broader range of music fans?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

On Again, Off Again

Paul Martin has changed his mind again about sitting through the summer to pass the SSM bill.

Official reason: SSM is a crucial matter of human rights and this issue must be settled, once and for all.

Unofficial reason: Three Tory MPs are too sick (two physically, one ethically) to show up and sink the government on non-confidence.

Side note: If a rough month is enough reason to toss Stephen Harper overboard, why isn't Paul Martin's striking ineptitude at caucus management? There should never even be a hint that one minority government MP might vote non-confidence, let alone up to 35.

Read the full story in the Globe and Mail.


When floods ravaged the Saguenay region several years ago, the federal government whipped out the chequebook faster than you can say "sponsorship".

When the Red River flooded at the beginning of the '97 election campaign, Jean Chretien threw a few sandbags on the pile for a timely photo-op.

But when the waters receded, Liberal votes were washed away with them.

In that vein, one Alberta Tory MP is complaining that the Liberals have neither offered relief funds nor photo-ops to Alberta flood victims:

''The real question is: where are the feds?'' said Tory MP Lee Richardson, whose Calgary riding includes the overflowing Bow and Elbow rivers and is among the worst-hit areas.

''If this was happening in central Canada, the Prime Minister would have been there 20 minutes later.''

Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan said it's up to Alberta -- not Ottawa -- to decide whether federal flood assistance dollars will start flowing toward the waterlogged province.

So far, she said, the federal government has heard no calls for help.

The Alberta government has announced $55-million in provincial flood assistance, but observers estimate the total price tag to clean up the damage will soar far beyond that number.

It seems that "let the Eastern bastards freeze in the dark" has been met with "let the Western bastards drown in the flood".

Source: National Post

Monday, June 20, 2005

PQ Phones It In

The Parti Quebecois will hold its leadership vote by telephone this November, Broadcast News reports.

While some commentators fear the potential for widespread fraudulent voting, I remind them that it's easier to stuff a ballot box than hack a phone system.

They should worry more about the phone system actually working. Those of us with long memories recall the fiasco when the Nova Scotia Liberals tried it first in 1992. They had to redo the vote a week later. Then again, 13 years is an eternity in telecommunications.

From Penalty Box to Witness Box

A year without the NHL has left sports editors scrambling for anything to fill the hockey section other than the Bettman-Goodenow stalemate.

In the absence of coverage of the Leafs' 2005 Cup win, this blog brings you another tale of a fanatical hockey dad, an overpressured son, and the resulting lawsuit:

Toronto — A 10-year-old boy who says he was booted from his minor hockey team because officials hated his dad is suing the league.

“It's a no-brainer: the sins of the fathers should not visit the children,” said Harry Kopyto, the family's legal agent.

The lawsuit, to be heard Monday and Tuesday in small claims court and expected to include testimony from expert witnesses in abuse and bullying, is the latest legal battle stemming from rink rage.

In a statement of claim, Brendan Butrimas said officials of the Applewood Hockey Association in Mississauga, Ont., took a dispute with his father out on him.

The boy launched the $10,000 suit in an effort to prevent similar incidents in the future, Mr. Kopyto said.

“It's not a money grab. This is a case to protect the rights of children,” he said.

The claim, disputed by the association, said Brendan's father, Dalius Butrimas got into a feud with Novice White team officials because he wanted to see his son in the dressing room after games.

Brendan, who was then seven, said he needed help getting out of his equipment but Mr. Butrimas said the coach refused him entry.

As a result of the feud, the boy was suspended in October 2002, then demoted to a less skilled team — an announcement the boy said was made by the association's president in front of his teammates after a game.

“It made me feel sad,” said Brendan in an interview. “I was also quite mad, too.”

In its defence, the association denies barring any parents access to the dressing room.

Instead, it claims Mr. Butrimas was “aggressive and confrontational” and became increasingly agitated and abusive.

“(Mr. Butrimas) was observed using inappropriate language and carrying on in a manner that was inappropriate, unwelcome and unbecoming of a parent,” the association said in its defence, filed in court in Brampton, Ont.

The association removed Brendan from the team “in the best interest of the other 14 players” and to protect the coaches from his father, it said.

Needless to say, this dispute should never have seen the inside of a courtroom. Too many minor hockey people take themselves far too seriously, even if the system does produce future NHL talent.

Fathers pushing their sons to live out their frustrated dreams of glory, combined with coaches striving to rise to higher-level leagues and empire-building league officials add up to hundreds of boys abandoning the sport in frustration every year.

Does Brendan really care about the money? Probably not. Does he care about which team he plays on? Of course. Is he embarrassed about Dad helping him dress when he's old enough to do it himself? Almost certainly.

Do any of the grown-ups here have sense enough to ask Brendan what he wants? Not a one.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Sunday, June 19, 2005

There's No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

Unless you're a Member of Parliament, that is.

And predictably, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation takes umbrage:

CTV News has learned that the federal parties order approximately 180 meals a day, four days a week when Parliament is sitting.

Based on a catering price list that pegs the cost of Monday's fish dish at just under $20, the Parliamentary kitchen is serving some 20,160 meals a year for a total tab to taxpayers of $382,000.

John Willliamson of the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation finds those figures very hard to swallow.

"This is another outrageous example of MPs fleecing the public for something they should be paying out of their pockets," he said.

When CTV asked the MPs who was paying for their lunch, many had no idea. Of those who ventured a guess, most thought their parties paid.

If they were to pay, it could cost a little more. When CTV went to the Parliament Hill and ordered Monday's fish meal, for example, the bill came to $31.

This sort of story makes lets us all huff and puff about politicians sticking their snouts in the trough, but the cost of these small perquisites is miniscule compared to the genuine waste of taxpayers money in the ordinary course of government business.

But few of us deal with multi-billion dollar budgets every day. Everybody buys lunch. That's why stories about petty perks attract more outrage at times than those about wholesale mismanagement.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Histoires Vrais de la Highway Patrol

Ou est le feu, buddy? N'as pas tu regarder le sign? T'as fais 90 dans le fifty zone.
On se donne un ticket--pardonnez-moi--on se donne une avertissement, don't do it again.

Winnipeg — A Winnipeg judge has thrown out traffic tickets issued to six people because they are not bilingual.

Provincial Court Judge Glenn Joyal has ruled that traffic tickets issued to Reynald Remillard and five others are invalid because only portions of the tickets were bilingual.

The judge says that violates the City of Winnipeg charter, which says people living in the Riel district of southeast Winnipeg are entitled to received services in both official languages.

Crown prosecutor Lisa Cupples says there has been no decision on whether to appeal the ruling.

Merci bien, Le Globe and Mail .

Healthcare Reform: Vision Impaired

The first major public opinion poll on healthcare reform since the Supreme Court's breakthrough court rulings shows that Canadians are both for and against private healthcare at the same time.

Quoth Ipsos-Reid:

A majority (64%) think that this ruling "will lead to two-tiered healthcare in Canada - one for the rich and one for the poor", and 57% would like their "province to use the Notwithstanding Clause to ban private insurance and protect public healthcare". Most (57%) believe "doctors and nurses will be leaving the public system to work in a new private system, which will cause shortages in the public system".

In fact, seven in ten (70%) agree they should be able to buy services from a private healthcare provider if they want to - 37% strongly feely this way, and more than half of Canadians see two potential positive outcomes as a result of this ruling:

1) 60% percent think it will lead to shorter waiting lists, and
2) 54% think it will lead to improvements in the quality and availability of the healthcare services that their family receives.

These poll results underscore the confusion about healthcare reform Canadians have, a confusion that none of the parties are dispelling in their public refusal to budge from an all-out defence of the current Canada Health Act.

People know that the system isn't working, just from their own personal experience. Everyone can name a family member or friend who can't find a family doctor, who's been waiting for months for an MRI or hip replacement, or who spent painful hours on a stretcher in a hallway waiting. Studies and statistics merely quantify our collective knowledge.

At the same time, decades of propaganda about the public healthcare system as a cornerstone of the Canadian identity have left people fearful of change. This fear usually expresses itself in worries about ending up with a "American-style" healthcare system, one falsely pictured as leaving millions of people without any healthcare at all, or bankrupted by catastrophic medical expenses.

(This National Post article provides a much-needed corrective to the myth.)

If our national identity were less negative, that is, being Canadian is "not being American," we could place our healthcare system in its proper perspective. It is, after all, a delivery system, not a sacrament.

The Conservative Party, however timidly, at least stands in principle for healthcare reform and freedom of access. It could also stand for public healthcare as originally envisioned by Tommy Douglas: a system to prevent people from being bankrupted by medical expenses for severe health problems. The two fit each other, hand in glove.

By moving people who prefer private access into a private system, the public system would be relieved of great financial burdens and could become again what it was intended to be all along.

We can offer real reform and assuage fear of change at the same time.

There's a great slogan in there somewhere about the Conservative Party being the true believers and defenders of Tommy Douglas' vision of medicare. I can't come up with it. (Neither could the communications team, for that matter.)

But it will be the winning one, if Stephen Harper will seize it.

Friday, June 17, 2005

No Rush to the Altar

Sorry, Lance and Bruce. Put away your skintight leather tuxedos and cancel the bulk order of crystal meth. The same-sex marriage bill won't pass in time for your lovely June wedding.

Alexander Panetta reports from CP:

Prime Minister Paul Martin won't promise to call a vote before the Commons starts its three-month break next week. He blamed the possible delay on opposition filibustering on an unrelated budget bill, which would push a same-sex vote into the fall.

"There is no guarantee in a minority Parliament," Martin said after a cabinet meeting Thursday.

"Really, that is in the hands of the opposition. . . . If the opposition continues to filibuster, then that is in their hands."

Same-sex advocates and the NDP heaped scorn on the possible delay. And they weren't buying Martin's attempt to blame the Tories.

"Talk about an abdication of leadership," said NDP Leader Jack Layton.

"What kind of commitment has (Martin) got to human rights? . . . I call upon him to lead."

A prominent gay-rights advocate also called into question the prime minister's gumption.

"The government can pass the equal marriage legislation if (it) wants to," said Alex Munter of Canadians For Equal Marriage.

"That's where the question of leadership comes in."

It's a refreshing change to see Paul Martin get the blame for once instead of Stephen Harper. Martin's heart was never into supporting the issue; every time he was faced with a little opposition within his own ranks, he gave more ground, starting with the name of the bill (from Marriage Act to Civil Marriage Act, as if one could draw distinctions between a "civil" and a "religious" marriage's valid spouses), to more and more promised protections upon which he cannot ultimately deliver.

The question now is whether continued social spending bribes are more valuable to the NDP than what they think is a burning human rights issue. The NDP could have traded its budget support for an expedited passage of same-sex marriage and taken a little less increased social spending.

What if they had?

I really don't know if the NDP would have stood on principle, misguided though it be.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Raining On The Liberal Parade

By plastering Quebec with the Maple Leaf, the sponsorship program was intended to raise Canada's profile in the province and connect the country to the Liberal Party in the minds of Quebecers.

It has succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of its masterminds. So much so, that when Montrealers think of the Canada Day parade, they think of the Liberal Party, and stay away in droves.

So reports Alan Hustak in the Montreal Gazette:

It's hard to beat the drum for Canada if no one is paying attention.

Organizers of this year's Canada Day parade in Montreal held a news conference yesterday and, unlike previous years, only this reporter showed up.

Montreal's 14 Liberal MPs, including Prime Minister Paul Martin, have been sent invitations to take part in the parade, but not one has bothered to reply.

Even more discouraging, only two corporate sponsors are supporting the event this year: Power Corp., which has chipped in $3,000, and The Gazette, good for $1,000.

"The sponsorship scandal has spooked a lot of people," said Dominique Zito, organizing committee vice-president.

"Companies are reluctant to sponsor a Canada Day parade if it means being associated with a Maple Leaf."

"Cash is hard to come by."

How appropriate that the only two corporate sponsors for the Canada Day parade in Montreal are the parent corporation of the Liberal Party, and its most faithful Quebec media mouthpiece.

They've been telling us for decades that Liberal values are Canadian values, and by definition, that to be a good Canadian is to be a Liberal. Ontario has got the message, loud and clear. Unfortunately for them, so has Quebec.

Surely You Jest

The recent heat wave must be tiring out the Liberals because they're not even trying to spin this one:

OTTAWA -- Belinda Stronach was handed a plum cabinet job only after deciding to join the Liberals, says a spokesman for the prime minister.

Scott Reid, Paul Martin's director of communications, says negotiations over Stronach's responsibilities in a Liberal government weren't launched until she had made up her mind to leave the Conservatives.

But Reid said former Ontario premier David Peterson didn't have to exert too much pressure on Martin to secure a cabinet post.

"In Belinda Stronach's case, her talents are exceptional and obvious," Reid said of the millionaire auto-parts heiress.

"There was never any question that someone of her stature was going to enter cabinet."

Someone want to tell me why this obvious bit of prevaricating non-news is clogging up the airwaves?

Source: Canoe

A Degree Without Distinction

The University of Western Ontario will confer an honorary doctorate at today's convocation upon Canada's most notorious abortionist, Dr. Henry Morgentaler.

The decision has led to petitions against conferring his degree, protests by both sides and the cancellation of bequests and donations to the university.

The resulting furore puts the lie to the oft-repeated claim that Canada has reached "social peace" on abortion. For if abortion were a truly settled issue, Morgentaler's honorary doctorate would have been of no more public interest than anyone else's.

But the decision to confer the degree also highlights a shift in thinking amongst supporters of abortion. As the medical and scientific reasons for so-called therapeutic abortion have been rendered increasingly indefensible, and the social science evidence increasingly negative, abortion supporters' rhetoric has changed.

When abortion was first legalized, its supporters spoke of it as a tragic but sometimes necessary procedure to prevent worse health risks. Now its supporters praise abortion in itself as a practical good, the sine qua non of women's freedom. Its eugenic benefits are now openly praised for reducing everything from health care costs to crime rates.

A similar shift in thinking occured in the United States about slavery in the period between the end of the American Revolution and the Civil War. Even in the South, slavery was generally regarded as a temporary evil that would eventually disappear.

But as abolitionist sentiment grew throughout the North and the rest of the civilized world, and economic and social changes rendered slavery increasingly anachronistic, Southern defenders of slavery began praising slavery as a positive good, not only for white slaveholders, but also for the slaves themselves.

The pro-life movement in Canada needs to address this shift in thinking and counter it. Something much more malign underlies the rhetoric of "choice" now than did 35 years ago. That malignancy manifests itself today with honorary degrees to abortionists and celebratory barbecues. Tomorrow, its manifestations may be much worse.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Gomery Stands Up

Jean Chretien made his way through politics as a street fighter, ready to mix it up with anyone who got in his way, especially loudmouth protestors in silly caps.

Mr. Justice John Gomery will not be so easily pushed aside, however, and he's going to court to keep Chretien out of his way:

Sponsorship inquiry commissioner John Gomery is going to Federal Court to clear the air regarding allegations of bias levelled at him by former prime minister Jean Chretien.

Chretien withdrew a legal challenge on May 30 but a letter the same day from the Justice Department to Chretien's lawyers raised the possibility the challenge may be renewed at a later date.

Gomery and Chretien have repeatedly crossed swords since Prime Minister Paul Martin appointed the Quebec Superior Court justice to head the inquiry.

Chretien has tried on several occasions to have Gomery step down for making comments the former prime minister believes are prejudicial, including calling Chretien "small-town cheap" for having golf balls imprinted with his signature.

Chretien's latest challenge against Gomery came earlier this month when his lawyers argued the judge's final report must not be based on any advice given privately by commission counsel.

Gomery swiftly rejected the motion.

Morphy accused the government of inconsistencies for at first urging Chretien's challenge be expedited and now suggesting Chretien can withdraw his motion and re-issue it later.

But Justice Department lawyer Brian Saunders doesn't see how the court can prevent Chretien from withdrawing his motion now and from relaunching one once his report is completed.

"Mr. Chretien was ... fully within his rights to discontinue his application for judicial review without our consent," he wrote in a June 9 reply to Morphy.

"It was his decision to discontinue. We do not see any basis upon which the attorney general could move to set aside the discontinuance and force Mr. Chretien to proceed with the application."

Paul Martin would love nothing more than to have Gomery lay all the blame on Chretien and company for the sponsorship mess, especially since Chretien moved up his resignation to let the Auditor-General's report on the sponsorship program explode in Martin's face instead of his.

But Chretien's threatened court challenge might save Martin's skin. Paul Martin foolishly put the gun to his own head by promising an election call within 30 days of the release of Gomery's report during his televised plea for mercy. Anything that can delay the report will give Martin time to contain the damage therefrom.

Mr. Justice Gomery's alleged bias has never been the real issue for the Liberals. The real issue has been how to spin the report to their advantage, no matter who takes the brunt of the blame.

If Gomery blames Chretien, they'll forget the claims of bias and sell it as solid gold exoneration of Martin and call an election.

If Gomery blames Martin in any way, they'll claim that Gomery had to bend over backwards to avoid even the appearance of bias against Chretien and ended up biased against Martin instead. The inquiry's findings will be dismissed summarily and there'll be no election call.

Either way, it's win-win for the Liberals.

Source: Canadian Press

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

He's Got Paulie By The Walnuts

Liberal-turned-Independent MP Pat O'Brien might bring down the government tonight with the help of an unnamed Liberal MP unless the same-sex marriage bill is delayed into the fall, CBC fears:

I met with two senior elected MPs from the Liberal party earlier today," said O'Brien on CBC's Politics. "I suspect I will meet with them and others later."

He wants a promise, in writing, that the passage of the same-sex marriage bill will not happen until after Parliament resumes in the fall.

O'Brien did not say which Liberal member of Parliament is joining him in seeking the delay.

At least five confidence votes will take place late Tuesday night as the House of Commons tries to pass the federal budget before the summer recess.

For all of the media speculation about Stephen Harper's leadership because of a few bad polls, why hasn't there been the same speculation about Paul Martin's leadership?

There should be no question about how everyone in a minority government's caucus will vote on a non-confidence issue. None. Never. For weeks, there have been rumours of defections on the budget vote by anti-SSM MP's, and Paul Martin has done nothing to silence them except to point fingers at Gurmant Grewal's dirty dealings.

If Paul Martin loses a single confidence vote tonight, he will have proven himself to be the most incompetent caucus manager of any Prime Minister in living memory.

Even if Joe Clark couldn't count, he could still count on his own caucus. Paul Martin can't even do that.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Misplaced Fears

A poll commissioned for the Department of National Defence suggests that Canadians think George W. Bush is as grave a threat to our national security as Osama Bin Laden, the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix reports:

The 1,500 people contacted for the poll, conducted last February for the Department of National Defence, listed "International Organized Crime" as the top danger, with 38 per cent ranking it as a great threat to security concern and another 50 per cent listing it as moderate.

But tied for second in the poll were "U.S. Foreign Policy" and "Terrorism," with 37 per cent rating it a great risk. Just behind those worries came "Climate Change and Global Warming."

Amazing what a steady diet of anti-American media propaganda will do to a people already conditioned to regard self-defence and naked aggression as morally equivalent.

If Al-Qaeda were to fly planes into the CN Tower and DND Headquarters tomorrow, the MSM would scream that the Americans were to blame because Al-Qaeda wouldn't have struck back at us if the Americans had addressed the root causes of terrorism instead of fighting back.

On the other hand:
Most of those contacted for the poll had "great confidence" in the Canadian Forces' ability to respond to natural disasters in Canada, but only 25 per cent felt the same way about how our military would handle a terrorist attack on Canadian soil.

People know our armed forces aren't equipped to handle the national defence properly and are resentful that the Americans are, and might have to bail us out. If our governing classes were not enthralled by myths of soft power, they wouldn't have to fear the Americans' hard power. The people get it about national sovereignty, in their confused way. Too bad our government doesn't.

National Post Drops the Hint

The National Post , alone of the major MSM outlets, has not joined its campaign to destabilize the Conservative Party by exaggerating reports of a largely mythical dump-Harper movement. But it has suggested that Mr. Harper has one last chance to redeem himself before it too will join in:

We have had our differences with the Tory boss, to be sure -- most notably, when we wondered in print last fall whether Canada still had a "conservative" party, given Mr. Harper's endorsement of Liberal deals with the provinces on health care and transfer payments, and the party's failure to come out boldly in support of ballistic missile defence. (He grumpily shot back that Canada had a conservative party -- "what it lacks is a national conservative newspaper.") All in all, though, we have probably been as supportive of Mr. Harper as any mainstream newspaper in Canada. But even we must conclude that now may be a good time for the Tory leader to contemplate his future.

We are not calling on Mr. Harper to resign. But recent events have put into question whether he is the man who should be leading the Conservatives. In particular, the failure of the party to surge ahead of the Liberals in popular support, even as the government has been buried in scandal, and Mr. Harper's misplaced trust in Gurmant Grewal's claims regarding his jobs-for-votes tapes, suggest this is a good time for reflection.

Still, for all he has accomplished, we cannot say with confidence that Mr. Harper is the man to take the Conservatives to power. With all the Liberals' troubles, the Conservatives should be far ahead of the ruling party in the polls. They are not, and have not been, even at the height of the Gomery commission's revelations.

The problem lies not, as Red Tories would have us believe, with the party's socially conservative roots, or its alleged failure to create a "big tent." Mr. Harper has moderated the party's stance on the most contentious issues. Indeed, as his feeble postures on health care, missile defence and the Iraq war demonstrate, his party is, if anything, too similar to the Liberals.

Rather, we imagine the trouble lies with how the message is being delivered. Mr. Harper is a glum, moody figure who has shown little enthusiasm for the rituals of mass-media politics and for the simple glad-handing expected of party chiefs. And instead of hiring communications staff who make up for these weaknesses, he has hired glum, clannish people who reinforce them.

Glad to see that the Post has finally picked up on themes that have been circulating through the blogosphere for months.

The MSM will always be hostile to the party, no matter its policies or its leadership. There is always a way to cast the Tories in a bad light.

We've all suggested that Mr. Harper replace his communications team. But with whom? Communications staff are usually drawn from the ranks of former journalists, public relations officers and advertising people. These professions have now become the domain of people educated in journalism schools and communications programs where liberal groupthink works to exclude people who do not share the same political and social opinions.

A strong parallel right-of-centre media industry, from which a top-flight communications team could be drawn, simply does not exist yet in Canada.

The Liberal Party has drawn on the talents of many mainstream journalists for their communications staff; like tends to attract like. The talent pool the Conservative Party must draw from is much more shallow. That isn't to say he can't put together a competent team, but he has much less to work with.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Have APC, Will Travel

Since it appears that the government is in no danger of falling anytime soon, instead of sending troops into harm's way in Sudan, we'll be sending our second-hand armoured personnel carriers instead:

Canada may send 100 old Grizzly armoured personnel carriers to Sudan, CBC TV news reports.

They would be used by the African Union, which has a 7,500-soldier force that is trying to stop Arab militias from killing the local population in the Darfur area.

About 50 Canadian soldiers would go to a neighbouring country with the carriers to teach African soldiers how to drive and maintain them.

But sending the vehicles is not a sure thing because the U.S. State Department has a veto. The Grizzlies contain U.S. equipment, and cannot be sent to a third country without U.S. permission, said CBC reporter James Cudmore.

If the U.S. says "no," Canada might give the African Union money to buy or rent vehicles like the Grizzly.

More evidence, as if more were needed, that our country's vaunted peacekeeping myths have long since worn threadbare. We're now reduced to promising that we might be able to send our second-best military equipment or cash in lieu. Without real assurances, of course, that the African Union will actually spend the money as requested.

What would General Gordon say?

As Long As They Don't Frighten the Horses

Police in Oxford, England arrested an undergraduate for calling a police horse gay.

The police's response was too gay even for the gay rights people:

Peter Tatchell of the pressure group Outrage! said that the arrest of Sam Brown, a student at Oxford University, "brought the police service into disrepute".

Mr Brown, 21, a student at Balliol College, was arrested for causing harassment, alarm or distress and fined £80 after asking a mounted police officer if he knew that his horse was homosexual.

The student made the remark during a night out in Oxford where he was celebrating completing his English Literature degree.

Mr Tatchell, who has handcuffed himself to Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, in his campaign for homosexual rights, accused the police of grossly wasting their time and resources. "The police are not doing nearly enough to halt genuine violence against gay people and yet they waste their time on this absurd arrest," he said.

They should have trotted Mr. Brown before one of our provincial human rights commissions for making the poor horse feel unstable. They'd have reined him in and saddled him with a heavy fine.

Source: The Daily Telegraph

Saturday, June 11, 2005

There's Something About Nina

Canada's National Newspaper has a most interesting article about MP Nina Grewal, whom the Globe's fair and balanced reporters portray as Gurmant Grewal's Stepford wife:

She learned everything she needed to know about politics from watching the parliamentary channel CPAC, her husband Gurmant Grewal says, but Nina Grewal's continued silence has a growing number of critics wondering if she was watching on mute.

When she gave a CBC radio interview after they both won for the Tories in the 2004 election, making history as the first husband-and-wife team elected at the same time, he whispered the answers to her.

In the hours of conversation Mr. Grewal had with the Liberals, she is referred to simply as his “wife” as the talk centres on a possible Senate seat for her — part of a deal that would have seen the couple leave the Conservative party or sit out the budget vote.

Her life before she got started in politics remains something of a mystery.

Born in Osaka, Japan, where her father had business interests, Ms. Grewal, 46, and her family moved to Liberia in West Africa when she was 4½ years old. From there, she was sent to Shimla, India, to study in a convent, finishing her college degree in history and English literature before getting married in 1982.

“My father placed a matrimonial advertisement in The Tribune newspaper and Gurmant's parents responded,” she said in a rare interview in November, 2004, for an Indian website.

“Not one person that I know has ever remembered her doing anything in the community. It's a big mystery about where she came from, what she did,” she said. “People here resent the fact that someone who was only known as the wife of a politician suddenly becomes a politician herself with nothing to show with any community involvement.”

You get the gist of the article (co-authored by giggling schoolgirl reporterette Jane Taber). The Globe is shocked and appalled to discover that Mrs. Grewal chooses to stand quietly behind her husband during his difficulties, instead of dumping him publicly or running to the microphones in his defence.

These cosmopolitan urbanites are no less shocked to discover that the Grewals' marriage was arranged through a matrimonial ad. Well, that's how they do it in Punjab. How's that different from posting a personals ad on Lavalife? Respect for other cultural traditions, people!

And horror of horrors, she might defer to her husband's judgment on occasion instead of being Superwoman.

To read the article, you'd think that Mrs. Grewal was practically barefoot, pregnant and chained to the stove. The subtext is unmistakable: here's another Indian treating his wife like property, aren't they all an unenlightened bunch?

Somehow I doubt the Globe would have written a similar hit piece about Jack Layton and Olivia Chow.

(And they've suddenly ceased to write about Belinda Stronach in the same vein, too.)

Gurmant Grewal Gone for Good?

Many people think Gurmant Grewal should be an ex-Conservative because of his sting operation against the Grits. His constituents might like to make him an ex-MP. But the government of the day is taking it one step further and wants to make him an ex-Canadian:

Immigration officials refused to divulge Friday whether they are investigating Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal for allegedly faking a business transaction to fulfill his obligations as an investor immigrant when he moved to Canada from Liberia in Western Africa in 1991.

But spokesperson Greg Scott said: "If there is evidence that somebody obtained their citizenship through fraudulent grounds, false representation, knowingly concealing material circumstances, it is something the department takes very seriously."

A former business associate accused the Indian-born MP Wednesday of having bought a small carpet business from him in the city of Vancouver for 50,000 dollars (40,000 US dollars) in April 1993, then taking the money back the next day in a phoney transaction meant to dupe immigration officials.

Then, Air Canada announced it would investigate an incident at the Vancouver airport in which Grewal was overheard asking several passengers if they would carry a package for him on a flight to Ottawa.

Immigration and Citizenship Minister Joseph Volpe hinted at a possible bad outcome for Grewal if the allegations proved to be true, telling reporters Thursday that investor immigrants who failed to meet their conditions "don't usually get to stay" in Canada.

Since 1977, only 50 Canadians have been stripped of their citizenship after investigations showed they had been gained improperly, Greg Scott said.

Our government has never shown this much concern for the gangsters and terrorists who have been renting Canadian citizenship to further their nefarious enterprises, let alone for ordinary illegal immigrants.

For exposing the government's corruption, Grewal is about to get the same treatment usually reserved for old Nazi concentration camp guards.

If Volpe gets Immigration to expel Grewal, he might just hand us an even more potent wedge issue than same-sex marriage in the immigrant communities.

Many new Canadians came here to get away from harassment and persecution for speaking out against their homelands' governments. They didn't come to Canada to get more of the same. If the Liberals can expel an MP, they can expel other immigrants for writing critical letters to the editor.

(Side note: If OLO communications could tell their ass from a hole in the ground, they'd be on this story like this already. Instead, the CBC and Globe will suddenly become champions of strict immigration enforcement.)

Source: Yahoo

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Supreme Court Slaughters Sacred Cow

The Supreme Court of Canada has now graciously granted the Canadian people the right to have an honest debate about health care reform, now that it has decided that paying for private insurance for medicare-covered procedures does not violate the Charter.

From CBC :

In its ruling Thursday, the court said the provincial policy violates the Quebec charter, but they ruled it does not violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, meaning there is no immediate impact on the Canadian health-care system as a whole.

The two men had separate complaints, but the court decided to hear their court challenges together.

In 1996, Montreal businessman George Zeliotis waited a year for hip replacement surgery. While waiting, he asked whether he could purchase insurance that would allow him to skip the public queue and pay directly for the surgery.

When he learned it was against the law, he took his case to court.

Canadians can buy private health insurance for things outside of public medicare such as prescriptions, physiotherapy or private hospital rooms.

The 73-year-old Zeliotis argued the year-long wait for surgery was unreasonable, endangered his life and infringed on the charter's guarantee of right to life, liberty and security.

The second plaintiff, Dr. Jacques Chaoulli, wants the court to overturn a Quebec provision preventing doctors who don't operate within the medicare plan from charging for services in public hospitals.

Chaoulli, who had tried but failed to set up a private hospital, represented himself before the court.

The Liberals now have the perfect cover under which to steal health care reform as an issue from the Conservatives; they can distinguish Liberal health care reform as a defence of Charter/Canadian values from Conservative health care reform motivated by greed.

All hail the Supreme Court, infallible magisterium of the sacred Charter!

Random Comments on Recent Events

Recent travels have prevented me from blogging during the past few days, so forgive me for being late to the party.

Pat O'Brien's defection from the Liberal caucus was not a surprise. Nor is it entirely surprising that it has not received the same media attention that Belinda Stronach's defection. Mr. O'Brien, after all, was a relatively obscure backbench MP who only came into public prominence because of his vocal opposition to same-sex marriage legislation.

Nor could he expect sympathy from the media for having abandoned their party on the most crucial issue of the day to the Toronto media elites.

What is surprising, however, is that enough MP's in the Liberal caucus were willing to consider voting against their own government on a non-confidence motion in a last-ditch bid to derail the SSM bill.

The Liberals have owed much of their success to their unbreakable caucus solidarity in the face of adversity. Defections on a non-confidence issue should have been unthinkable. That Paul Martin and Irwin Cotler had to address this issue indicates just how poorly Mr. Martin manages his caucus and how unable he is to take a stand on principle (assuming, of course, that he even believes SSM to be a matter of principle).

He may well end up gutting the bill beyond all recognition, with so many amendments and exemptions to appease the anti-SSM faction in his caucus, that he will alienate the hard-left pro-SSM faction in turn.

Perhaps he hopes that the courts in the remaining jurisdictions will legalize SSM and let him claim that the matter is now forever out of Parliament's hands. The Supreme Court didn't oblige him, but the lower courts will.

And so he will have dithered his way into confirming judicial supremacy.

Turning to the Gurmant Grewal scandal:

The Tories have lost control of the issue, not so much because of Gurmant Grewal's antics, but because of the incompetence of his communications team.

The only reason that doubt has been cast on the authenticity of the tapes is because of the opinions of two self-styled experts of dubious credentials being given undue credence by the Globe and CBC. The blogosphere exposed these two "experts" as neither having any particular expertise in audio forensics not with having worked with the original tapes, which remain in the RCMP's possession. The communications team should have exposed these poseurs and given the media hell about it.

Global and the National Post could have been out there slamming the deceitful performance of their competitors, if Geoff Norquay and company had thought to work their connections there.

Harper has got to fire the lot of them and get people in there who know the modern journalism school-produced media mentality.

That said, Harper is at part to blame for not taking a consistent stand with Grewal. If he thought that Grewal was running a genuine sting operation, he should have been backing his actions right from the beginning, thus heading off any questions of his actions (and perhaps preventing the "doctored tapes" meme from ever spreading).

If not, he should have denounced him, turfed him from caucus and made it clear that Conservatives do not play the same corrupt game that the Liberals do. He could have built up an even higher moral ground on the corruption issue.

Instead, he appears to be controlled by events instead of controlling them. Whether because of bad advice or bad judgment, it does not make him look like a strong leader.

Nonetheless, we must remain united behind his leadership. He has done far more in 18 months to rebuild one conservative alternative than was thought possible during our decade in the wilderness. The two-party system has been restored, however imperfectly.

To mutiny every time the ship hits rough seas will not bring us to safe harbour, nor will it encourage anyone to become captain.

If we change leaders now, the media will attack the new leader's perceived weaknesses and ignore his perceived strengths regardless.

There will be an election in the fall. Save our strength for that.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

A Question for Bernard Landry

If 76% is not enough to stay on as leader of the Parti Quebecois, why is 50%+1 enough to take Quebec out of Canada?

Arctic Anglicans Against Amoral Absurdity

The Anglican Diocese of the Arctic, whose adherents are primarily Inuit, has unanimously rejected same-sex marriage as contrary not only to natural law but also to the Inuit way of life.

Ben Arreak, the church's bishop for Nunavik, Que., said their stand will keep out non-conservative views and practices, and instead, Inuit traditional values about relationships between men and women will form the base of their beliefs.

"That's tradition," Bishop Arreak said. "In order to survive, the man and woman have to help each other, for family and for hunting. . . . If you want to have a healthy body, you can only have a relationship man to woman, woman to man."

Living in a society and climate where survival requires genuine hard work and a healthy respect for the realities of nature infuses common sense in a people.

The Inuit are rightly suspicious of the white man's latest social engineering experiment. They've been experimented on too often, to their detriment.

They should be sending missionaries to the heathen peoples of Toronto and Vancouver this time around.

Source: Canada's National Newspaper (and don't you forget it!)

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Succession Crisis?

Civitatensis and Angry in the Great White North have been considering the question of the Liberal leadership succession.

Part of the Liberals' electoral success can be attributed to their relatively smooth handling of its leadership succession.

At each leadership convention, one of the losing candidates has been identified as the new leader's heir apparent: John Turner in 1968, Jean Chretien in 1984 and Paul Martin in 1990.

The practice of alternating between anglophone and francophone leaders has also made it easier to select a successor and his heir apparent.

Thus the transition between leaders has been smooth and free of the rancour that has been a hallmark of Tory and Reform/Alliance leadership races.

Paul Martin's success in squeezing out all of his opponents from the race has changed the Liberal leadership succession dynamic greatly. For the first time in recent memory, the Liberal Party does not have one obvious heir apparent. The wounds caused by the Chretien-Martin civil war have not healed, and may never completely heal.

Moreover, the Liberal Party's collapse in Quebec has left it without a strong francophone leadership contender with enough of a national profile to be regarded as the natural successor to Martin under the principle of alternance .

Whoever succeeds Paul Martin will have succeeded under quite different circumstances from those of his predecessors. He may have to spend much more time protecting himself and trying to keep the party together after a divisive leadership race.

The Liberal party is used to coronations, not civil wars. They've never had to face a Tory-style leadership race before, and it shows.

Plausible Deniability

Ethics commissioner Bernard Shapiro will investigate the Gurmant Grewal tape scandal to determine whether Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh bribed Grewal to cross the floor and whether Grewal, in turn, entrapped Dosanjh.

Will Paul Martin tell us all to suspend our critical faculties until Shapiro reports?

Very likely, because not only can Shapiro's investigation be quickly suspended, but he also can't investigate the other major player in the affair, PMO chief of stafd Tim Murphy:

From The Globe and Mail :

The Prime Minister's chief of staff office falls outside the scope of the ethics commissioner, and Mr. Murphy will not be investigated.

Mr. Shapiro has the power to subpoena witnesses, but his investigation would be suspended if the RCMP launched a criminal probe into the matter. So far, the RCMP has obtained the original tape but has not announced whether or not it will investigate.

Ethics commissioner spokesman Jonathan Choquette said "it was a bit early" to tell how long the process would take.

"It's hard to say, it depends on the complexity of the investigation," he told "It will also depend on what the RCMP decides and how fast we get the information."

When complete, Mr. Shapiro will table his report in the House of Commons, but does not have the authority to sanction or discipline a Member of Parliament.

If the RCMP gets involved, Shapiro will never report because the investigation will be taken out of his hands long enough for everyone to have forgotten about his inquiry.

If not, his report will be suspect because it will not be able to make any positive assertions about the PMO's involvement--only second- and third-hand reports about Tim Murphy's conduct.

Paul Martin will stand up in the House and claim that he's been exonerated because Shapiro's report did not state that the PMO was involved in any way. Tim Murphy will be still be chief of staff, Ujjal Dosanjh will still be in cabinet, and the media will be screaming for Gurmant Grewal's head for distracting Dosanjh from fixing health care for a generation.

Meanwhile, the Liberals are still trying to prove that the tapes have been doctored without actually studying the tapes themselves:

The Liberals have said for days that the tape has been edited. Late Friday afternoon they produced their own expert, Glenn Marshall, who said he found identical sound fragments of someone asking for a cup of tea repeated twice in the tape.

"In a continuous tape you should not see a duplication such as this, the timing is too exact," he said at an Ottawa press conference.

Stevan Pausak, a former Ontario government expert and forensic scientist who trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said a 46-second audio segment containing a chat between Mr. Grewal and Mr. Dosanjh about an unspecified reward for joining the Liberal Party contained an unexplained dead air gap of 0.3 seconds.

"Two seconds into the recording there is this continuous gap and the signal is missing for 0.3 seconds," he told "The missing signal definitely shows the copy [provided to him by The Canadian Press Thursday] is altered."

In Liberal time-keeping, 0.3 seconds is as a big a gap as 18 1/2 minutes. What could Dosanjh have said to exculpate himself in 0.3 seconds? What could anyone?

I'll leave the last word to John Reynolds.

Tory House Leader John Reynolds compared the Liberal handling of the tape scandal to "sort of like Monty Python's Flying Circus but more sinister."

I wonder if he was thinking of this Python classic?

And now for something completely different: a man with a tape recorder up his nose.

Friday, June 03, 2005


NealeNews got my hopes up with this headline: SENIOR LIBERAL MP WANTS DOSANJH, MURPHY TO STEP DOWN.

The Globe and Mail dashed them when it turned to be Roger Gallaway.

Roger Gallaway has been against his party on just about every major initiative, from the gun registry to same-sex marriage. I would have been more surprised to see him defending his colleagues.

Technical Difficulties: Please Stand By

The Liberals think they've caught a break in the Gurmant Grewal tape scandal because of a break in Gurmant Grewal's scandalous tapes. CBC and CP's hired gun audio experts seems to think so, too:

The Tories are defending the authenticity of the tapes in the wake of two audio experts who independently concluded that the secret recordings made by Grewal were edited.

John Dooher, a forensic audio engineer hired by CBC News, said Thursday there is a "crude" edit and something "amiss" about a section of recordings made by Grewal.

"Right here, we hear what sounds like an edit. We have a change in the frequency spectrum so something has changed there," said Dooher, demonstrating the difference while at a sound board.

Dooher said that more sophisticated testing could offer more certainty, but he believes his original conclusion.

"This sounds to me, not only that this is an edit, but an edit done with something very crude," he said.

His conclusions are supported by Stevan Pausak, one of Canada's leading forensic-sound analysts. Pausak was asked by the Canadian Press to carry out a similar examination. He said one of the recordings has an abnormal break, indicating a section may have been cut out.

"I'm talking about alteration. I am trying to avoid the word tampering," Pausak told the Canadian Press.

"When you are using the word tampering, that means intent, right? Most of the time there is no way to show intent through the examination of the recording. You just see that it's altered."

Unfortunately for the Liberals and the MSM, these two experts' opinions and $1.50 will buy you a cup of coffee.

Neither of these experts worked with Grewal's original tapes, which are currently in the RCMP's possession. They worked off what they heard from a transfer to CD. Their testimony is about the same as proving a forgery of an original document from a photocopy.

And even if the tapes had been edited, what difference would it make? The portions released, for all of the cryptic double-talk, quite clearly show Tim Murphy and Ujjal Dosanjh discussing what it would take to bring Gurmant Grewal across the floor. It is extremely unlikely that any missing portions, whether two seconds or two hours long, would exculpate either of them.

When Grewal approached them, they could have said no in two seconds flat.

If they had discussed the matter with him and then decided to say no, they could have said no just as quickly then.

It doesn't take 23 phone calls and 2 1/2 hours to go through all the reasons behind saying no.

No means no means no.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Most Vitriolic Parent

We've all come across the stereotypical "hockey parents" if we've ever had anything to do with minor hockey.

You know the type: the parents who are convinced that their son is the next Wayne Gretzky and spend thousands of dollars pushing him through various teams, tournaments and summer hockey schools. They yell atthe coaches for not giving him enough playing time. They holler at the referees for making a bad call against him. They berate him for not playing up to his superstar potential.

They are the bane of every minor hockey league. More young boys have given up on the sport because of parental pressures than for any other reason, because they take all the fun out of it.

But there's no hockey dad quite as fanatical as Michel Croteau. Three years after his son was denied the MVP trophy in his AAA league, he's still fighting to get it for him.

Read the whole crazy story in the Globe and Mail .

If I were Steven, I'd tell Dad to shut up and get over it already. Life goes on, and no one will care in the long run whether he was MVP that season or not. Better to deal with one's frustrations than to throw a prolonged temper tantrum.

No, They're Not All Alike

Had Gurmant Grewal been a Liberal MP conducting a sting operation against a Conservative minority government desperately seeking any means to survive a non-confidence vote, not only would the media have cheered him as a hero for exposing corruption, but his Liberal caucus mates would have congratulated him for pulling off such a sly move.

Not the Conservative caucus, though, according to Canoe:

While agreeing the Liberals have been caught with their hand in the cookie jar, many other Conservatives reacted with public ambivalence and private vitriol to their colleague's ruse.

Sources said there's deep distrust of Grewal in caucus and his future in the party was limited even before this incident.

He was taken to task at caucus Wednesday and told his actions were dishonest, wrong and brought disrepute to all politicians.

If indeed this was a sting operation, as Grewal maintains, he was told Harper should have been informed from the outset and the negotiations carried on far longer than necessary to obtain incriminating evidence.

There is also a sentiment among some Conservatives that information remains to come out and - if it turns out Grewal lied to Harper about his involvement with the Liberals - he should be turfed from the party.

Grewal's sting operation has done more to reveal the criminal venality that dominates the Prime Minister's Office than hundreds of witnesses and thousands of documents at any government inquiry could hope to do. It has also destroyed any claims that Paul Martin could have credibly made about corruption being a problem only under Jean Chretien's government.

Yet there is at least some residual sense of honour and respect for parliamentary tradition and fair dealing in the Tory caucus. They still believe that there are some things that just aren't to be done, no matter the potential political rewards.

This is the difference between motivation by power and motivation by principle.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Vote Selling Sells Us All Out

By now, there isn't too much more that I can add to the story of the Liberals' attempted bribery of Gurmant Grewal.

But Prof. Arthur Schafer has in his Edmonton Journal op-ed.

Politicians are in a trust relationship with the citizens they govern.

There are special norms that are meant to govern behaviour in the public realm. When the self-seeking values of the private sphere are illegitimately imported into the public sphere, then the public sphere becomes debased.

Public officials have a fiduciary duty to excise their judgment and allocate government offices solely on the basis of what they think is best for the community.

When citizens perceive that politicians are motivated by self-serving interests rather than the public's best interest then the very label "politician" becomes a term of abuse. What should be seen as an honourable vocation comes to be seen, instead, as mere opportunistic careerism. The resulting contempt and cynicism can easily undermine the foundation of democratic society.

If we shrug off this particular bribery attempt as politics as usual, it will become politics as usual. Public offices will become just another commodity for sale, as they once were in England in the era of the rotten boroughs, special pensions and army and navy commission sales.

The Liberals are undoing the work of centuries of progress in parliamentary democracy.

Don't let them drag us back to the 18th century.