Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Prosecuting Change

Independent special prosecutors have kept the executive branch in the United States much more open and transparent than the strict interpretation of the Constitution and general practice would otherwise allow. They helped bring down Richard Nixon and nearly brought down Bill Clinton for abuse of office. They have also exposed wrongdoing by Cabinet secretaries and other administration officials that might otherwise have remained hidden behind the White House door.

Our own executive branch, with powers vested in the PMO beyond the dreams of even the most ambitious U.S. President, or of any other Western head of government, needs no less scrutiny.

Which is why Stephen Harper's announcement of a proposed independent office of public prosecutions is especially timely and necessary.

The Minister of Justice, as Attorney General for Canada, no longer enjoys the necessary political independence, or at least scrupulous non-interference with his non-political duties, that the position once had.

An independent prosecutor, responsible to Parliament and not to Cabinet (or the PMO, in effect), will be freed from the arm-twisting that has stifled many an investigation. Think of how the Auditor General's independence has emboldened that office to investigate and reveal financial mismanagement in government without fear of reprisal. Without that independence, Adscam would have been buried forever as an issue.

The fox will no longer be in charge of the henhouse under a Tory government!

Change Of Face

Surgeons in France have successfully performed the world's first face transplant.

Liberal donors were rejected because they couldn't function without two faces.

Corruption Eruption Interruption

Bloggers, pundit, columnists and all manner of amateur political strategists have been telling Stephen Harper to focus less on Liberal corruption and more on the Conservative platform.

The problem now is that the Liberals won't oblige:

The RCMP have begun a review of reported heavier-than-usual trading in income trusts and dividend-paying stocks ahead of an announcement last week that the federal government was increasing the tax credit on corporate dividends.

NDP finance critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis sent a letter of complaint to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police earlier this week requesting the probe into whether Bay Street insiders received advance knowledge of the announcement, Staff Sgt. Paul Marsh told Bloomberg News.


Some stock market regulators are reviewing trading that took place ahead of Finance Minister Ralph Goodale's tax policy announcement, Doug Maybee, a spokesman at Market Regulation Services Inc., told The Globe and Mail.

"The markets did move prior to Mr. Goodale's announcement, there's no denying of that," he said.

"What caused the markets to move, that's something we're still looking into."

Goodale has denied allegations that the information may have leaked in advance to some investors.

And now Jean Chretien has timed his court challenge of the Gomery inquiry to coincide with the beginning of the election campaign, just when the Liberals can least afford another to take another salvo in the the Chretien-Martin civil war:

Former prime minister Jean Chretien is fighting back against the sponsorship inquiry just as the Liberal party launches its Quebec campaign.

Chretien filed a Federal Court challenge on Wednesday against the Gomery commission's findings against him in the sponsorship scandal.

Chretien says Justice John Gomery, the inquiry's commissioner, was biased against him and drew some wrong conclusions.


For example, Gomery described Chretien as the architect of the program, and his chief of staff Jean Pelletier as the man who implemented it.

The challenge also attacks the appointment of Bernard Roy, a one-time chief of staff to former Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney, as chief counsel for the commission.

Even if nothing else happens on the court challenge front during the election campaign, the Liberal civil war is going to start up again as insiders will start attacking each other as secretly working for the other side's interests instead of the party.

Watch for a series of embarrassing leaks and impromptu damaging comments from Chretien loyalists and allies of possible Martin successors in the party.

Martin will spend more time in this election running against Chretien than against the Tories. Fine by us!

It'll be an eight week long multi-car pileup.

The Assassination Of Tsarevich Michael

While spaceman Marc Garneau's parachute has successfully deployed, Michael Ignatieff may hit the dirt before his opens:

Now, however, his undemocratic drop-in "acclamation" is being rebuffed in Etobicoke-Lakeshore as determined local Liberals, including the president of the Toronto branch of the Ukrainian Congress, move forward with their own nomination meeting tonight. Indeed, the Liberal riding association has now indicated that Ignatieff is not even a member in good standing. So much for the concept of democracy, eh Mr. Ignatief ? This growing nightmare can only find one logical outcome, insiders say. Ignatieff will have to step aside. Worse, senior Liberals in Toronto, Bourque has learned, are readying a game plan that will allow the egghead to step aside in favour of devoting more time to his students, lest the growing unrest surrounding his imposed candidacy split the Liberal vote in Etobicoke-Lakeshore. A little egg on the Great Ego's face, after all, might be the perfect reminder to him that democracy has a process and it must be followed.

Ignatieff must be fuming at the prospect of a Ukrainian peasant revolt, one that he cannot, unlike his noble ancestors, put down with a few hangings or deportations to Siberia.

The arrogance that marked his candidacy from the start is about to bring him down, hard. Despite not having lived here for 25 years, he thought the Liberal Party, if not Canadians, would embrace him as the next great philosopher king.

And despite having neither connection to Etobicoke-Lakeshore nor even a party membership in good standing, he thought that the common folk would bow to him because of the mere nobility of his presence.

Whether this nomination meeting chooses Ignatieff or or this one chooses a candidate the riding association actually wants, , Ignatieff will find himself joining the ranks of the has-beens and never-weres more quickly than anyone in modern political history.

White Russian, Red Liberal, Redder Ukrainians

Michael Ignatieff's disdain for the Ukrainian people may well ensure that the scion of old Russian nobility does not become the crown prince of the Liberal Party.

Canadians of Ukrainian descent have long memories, passed down through the generations, of Russian contempt for their people, from the days of the Romanovs in whose court the counts Ignatieff served, through to Stalin's genocidal famine, and they won't let anyone forget. Just mention the famine at a Ukrainian club and watch the tempers flare. My brother-in-law gets the same way, and he's only half-Ukrainian.

Lubomyr Luciuk's editorial in the Ottawa Citizen shows just how sensitive a nerve the Ignatieff candidacy has struck because of the Liberals' insensitivity to those "ethnics" whose votes they've taken for granted.

That's the last time they make that mistake in Etobichuk-Lakeshore.

Major Dissonance In A Minor Key

The current Liberal minority owes much to having won a majority of the minorities, as have their past majorities. But the Liberals now only have a minority of minorities to support their minority, and maybe not even that:

A poll of 1,500 Canadians taken this past weekend by The Strategic Counsel found support for all four major parties to be more or less where it was at the time of the federal election in June, 2004: with the Liberals modestly ahead but well shy of a majority government.

But Conservative support among visible minorities — who traditionally have overwhelmingly favoured the Liberals — hovered just under 30 per cent, within striking distance of the Liberals' 38 per cent.

Moreover, Tory support from minorities is in line with the party's support from the broader population, suggesting the Liberal advantage in this area may be overblown.

If these numbers are borne out in other polls, a lot of seats in the Toronto area long since thought to be unwinnable will start coming into play. New Canadians may finally be realizing collectively that the Liberal Party may have brought them here, but that is hardly a reason for gratitude.

Think of how many highly-qualified immigrants have been lured here through a cruel bait-and-switch, with promises of well-paid jobs only to be told their degrees, licences and experience don't count when they get here.

Think also of how many immigrants establish small businesses, work themselves to the bone to get ahead, and find themselves dealing with endless piles of red tape and taxes.

Think also of how many came to escape corrupt governments that are little more than organized rackeetering, where those in office get rich off bribes to get ordinary work done or protection money to avoid harassment. Adscam may seem mild in comparison, but immigrants can see the same mentality present in both countries' governments.

To say nothing of same-sex marriage, an issue that convinces many immigrants that the Liberals not only promote immorality but also threaten the freedom of conscience they thought they'd have.

The Liberals brought armies of immigrants over to help keep themselves in office in perpetuity with the votes of supposedly grateful new Canadians to offset those of old Canadians, primarily of European descent, who might favour the Tories.

Their aims recall the words of Bertolt Brecht: "Would it not be easier in that case for the government to dissolve the people and elect another?"

Too bad for the Grits that the newly elected Canadian people aren't all playing along.

Source: Globe and Mail

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Maple Leaf Ragging

Patriotism is usually the last refuge of a scoundrel, but for the Liberals, it's become the first.

Paul Martin's CSL ships may fly under flags of convenience, and Michael Ignatieff may have spent the last 25 years in London and Harvard, so naturally it's Stephen Harper's love of country that must be called into question.

It's going to be an ugly eight weeks, folks.

Marital Dispute

The Liberals are screaming that Stephen Harper would roll back Charter rights by revisiting the same-sex marriage issue.

As many commentators have stated before, the Supreme Court did not rule on the constitutionality of the traditional definition of marriage; it merely ruled that redefining marriage did not violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Quite a significant difference between saying that SSM is permissible under the Charter and saying that it is mandatory.

And if we want to go down that road, why did the Liberals allow their backbenchers to vote against a so-called Charter right while not permitting their ministers the same freedom?

If legislation to repeal the redefinition of marriage were to come before Parliament, would the Liberals whip all of their members to vote against the repeal? Why not, if it is such a fundamental human right?

Worries that the revival of this issue will derail the Conservative campaign will likely prove exaggerated. Stephen Harper has defused it by stating the party policy in no uncertain terms, at the beginning of the campaign, to avoid it becoming one of the items of the "hidden agenda."

Harper's failure to address social policy questions upfront, and finding himself reacting to off-the-cuff statements by MPs by referring to the absence of a party policy on such matters, needlessly fuelled the "hidden agenda" rumours all throughout the last campaign.

Now that it's out there--a free and final vote, no hiding behind the courts, no whipping of the cabinet--after the initial media frenzy, people will say, "Was that what we were afraid of? How foolish!"

OBITER DICTA: There is a real need for a debate about judicial activism and its effects on government, and the effects of the Charter of Rights on our constitutional order, and whether the Charter in its current form actually is an effective protection of rights and freedoms. But we'll never get a proper debate during an election, certainly not in the media, and least of all in our law schools. Canadian legal scholarship follows a rigid orthodoxy that makes Islamic madrassas look like bastions of free inquiry in comparison.

ADDENDUM: The NDP is staying silent about the issue. They know where they stand, and so does everyone else. Unlike the Liberals, who have to hide their divisions under hysterical rhetoric.

Funny, You Don't Look Neo-Conservative

The Blog Quebecois points out that Paul Martin's speech last night castigated the Conservative Party as "neo-conservatives". Presumably this will be the official campaign slur, now that "Alliance-Conservatives" is no longer timely two years after the merger.

Uninformed observers will think he's referring just to the American right that everyone in this country is trained to fear on command, like Pavlov's dogs.

More informed listeners on both sides of the political spectrum understand that it's become a code word for Jews: more specifically, Jewish intellectuals and supporters of Israel.

I don't think Paul Martin intended it that way; it's just a common characterization, practically a cliche. But the rabid leftists who have loaded the word with its second sinister meaning will mumble it in the faculty lounges and newsrooms of the country, and all will know what it means.

Ezra Levant and David Frum are suddenly going to be held up as the eminences grises pulling Stephen Harper's strings, especially on foreign policy. Count on it.

Five Points

Today's Toronto Star editorial lists five key issues the editorial board thinks the election will turn on:

Health care: Canadians are deeply attached to publicly funded, universal health care. The party with the most credible prospect of cutting patient waiting times, stopping creeping privatization and thwarting two-tier health care will have the widest appeal.

National unity: In Quebec, support for sovereignty is on the rise. The next prime minister must have the stature and skill to "sell Canada" in Quebec, and to win another referendum.

Poverty: Despite Canada's strong economy, child and aboriginal poverty, income inequality and homelessness remain stubbornly persistent. The next prime minister must offer hope to those left behind.

Cities: Despite winning some transit funding, and a share of the federal tax on gasoline, Canada's big cities still lack a reliable source of long-term finding, like a share of sales and income taxes. They need a champion.

Education: Canada's future prosperity hangs on a highly educated, adaptable workforce. We need to boost productivity by investing in university and college education, and worker training.

Foreign affairs: The next prime minister must champion Canada's sovereignty in security and trade issues with the United States. He must also project Canada's interests in the world by strengthening the military to help the United Nations keep the peace, and by increasing foreign aid.

The first one on health care is an outright lie and a coded endorsement of the Liberal Party's cynical defence of the status quo (or the NDP, should the Grits disappoint). Paul Martin and his friends at the Star may be deeply attached to the public health care monopoly for ordinary Canadians, but not for themselves; they can afford to buy their way off the waiting line. Too many people know someone who's died or suffered on that line to defend it any more.

For the second point: governments cannot offer people hope. They can offer money, but only the poor can offer themselves hope. Government can't buy, and doesn't want to buy, a change in attitude that might lead to people being less dependent on its munificence.

The third point on cities actually makes some sense, but it's for the provinces whose creatures the city governments are to decide.

The fourth point on education disguises the call for federal meddling in provincial jurisdiction under a pile of platitudes.

The fifth point on foreign affairs is subtle code for Yankee-bashing and submission of our foreign policy to the gaggle of tin-pot dictators and their effete European underwriters at the UN.

This paid political announcement has been brought to you on behalf of the Liberal Party. Thanks again for the heads-up on what's going into the Red Book Volume V.

Monday, November 28, 2005



Red Star Rising

The Toronto Star is ready to roll with its first of its Liberal Party advertorials:

When Stephen Harper stands up later today to deal the death blow to the Liberal minority government, he will be setting out to beat long but not necessarily insurmountable odds to become the next prime minister.

The history of minority governments in this country is that they are almost always re-elected, often with a majority.


For 16 months, Canadians have had a chance to see Harper in action as the chief critic of the Liberal government.

They have not been impressed or at least not in great enough numbers to bring him any closer to power.


So far, Harper's main accomplishment as leader of a new party has been to turn orphan Progressive Conservative supporters into adopted members of the Liberal family.

Here are the new memes to replace "Canadians don't want a Christmas election" and "Stephen Harper has a hidden agenda," both of which have worn threadbare through overuse.

The first one, "minority governments always become majority governments", is intended to inspire lazy Liberals to go out into the cold and get out the vote. Conversely, if repeated too often, it might make them complacent and wait for the inevitable victory that never comes.

The second one, "Harper makes moderate Tories vote Liberal", is actually a revival of the old "Alliance takeover" meme, one that lost traction when the Red Tories couldn't inspire a mass exodus of their own.

It also shows how the media got so obsessed with one idea that it ignored all the evidence of a much more damaging exodus: the departure of anti-establishment populist voters, especially in British Columbia, for the NDP.

But that phenomenon, which will accelerate in this election as Ontario gains are offset somewhat by B.C. and Saskatchewan losses, doesn't fit the Harper as scary right-winger media template.

More likely, the MSM, with its gaze focused firmly on the Highway 401 corridor, never even saw it happening because it was happening out west somewhere.

And it would hardly do to condemn the new Conservative Party as being part of the same Upper Canadian establishment which, as the modern Family Compact's faithful mouthpiece, it depends on for its survival.

The End Of Days

This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning:

Jan. 23 is the likely date of an election that will be triggered when the three opposition parties vote to defeat the 17-month-old minority Liberal government tonight and force a nasty, eight-week winter election campaign, Liberal sources said yesterday.

Barring the unforeseen, division bells will summon MPs to the Commons at 6:30 this evening. The roll call on a no-confidence motion will begin 15 minutes later, with the outcome all but certain.


Following constitutional tradition, Mr. Martin will formally inform Governor-General Michaëlle Jean before the next scheduled sitting of the Commons -- tomorrow at 10 a.m. -- that he lost a confidence vote. He will ask her to issue election writs for all 308 ridings.

When Mr. Martin emerges from this private Rideau Hall ritual, Liberal sources say he will announce the election date is Jan. 23 and the first winter campaign in a quarter-century will be under way.

Bring it on!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Inside Job

Does insider trading count as organized crime to you?

On Friday, CBC News reported that trading in many income trusts and dividend-paying stocks became much heavier than usual late Wednesday – just before the government announced that it would not tax trusts and would cut the tax on stocks that pay dividends.

And several published reports said investors knew early about the plan, which lowers taxes on some stock returns.

"Clearly, there was a leak between 2 and 4 [p.m. EST]," forensic accountant Al Rosen said.

The numbers don't lie:

For example, the share price of BCE, which pays a rich dividend, climbed 4.9 per cent on Wednesday. The last hour featured a noticeable uptick in price and volume.

Similarly, income trusts like Aeroplan Income Fund and Yellow Pages Income Fund saw their unit prices jump 6.1 per cent and 6.6 per cent, respectively. Volume and prices turned up in late afternoon trading.

"We are seeing much greater rises that tell us someone knew or many people knew it [the coming Goodale announcement] was not just a clarification, but that dividends would be taxed at a lower rate and [income] funds would not be taxed at all," Rosen said.

Was John McKay deliberately kept out of the loop when he told the press that income trust dividends would be taxed to allow for a measure of plausible deniability ("If the parliamentary secretary didn't know, the traders sure as hell didn't!")?

Don't expect any answers soon about insider trading. The TSX and OSC will bury their investigation findings PDQ regardless of who wins the election. No point in exposing a practice everybody knows has been going on every budget time during "consultations".

Grumpy Old Statesmen

There is no more dispiriting sight than a senior politician using his former position to lend credibility to the most disreputable of causes.

Example #1: Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark has joined Saddam Hussein's defence team:

Khames Hameed al-Ubaidi said Clark was in Baghdad and will meet with the defense team on Sunday night or Monday morning, when the trial is scheduled to resume.

If Clark is not allowed to participate in the courtroom, he will act as a legal adviser, al-Ubaidi said.

A U.S. official close to the Iraqi High Tribunal said there have been no motions made by Hussein's attorney to have an international lawyer work on the defense team. But the official said that if the proper motion for that was filed it would probably be accepted.

Example #2: Paul Hellyer from putting sailors in little green uniforms to making friends with little green men:

On September 25, 2005, in a startling speech at the University of Toronto that caught the attention of mainstream newspapers and magazines, Paul Hellyer, Canada’s Defence Minister from 1963-67 under Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Prime Minister Lester Pearson, publicly stated: "UFOs, are as real as the airplanes that fly over your head."

Mr. Hellyer went on to say, "I'm so concerned about what the consequences might be of starting an intergalactic war, that I just think I had to say something."

Hellyer revealed, "The secrecy involved in all matters pertaining to the Roswell incident was unparalled. The classification was, from the outset, above top secret, so the vast majority of U.S. officials and politicians, let alone a mere allied minister of defence, were never in-the-loop."

Hellyer warned, "The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. He stated, "The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide."

Neither of these men realize the damage they have caused to their reputations by embracing tyrants and crackpots. The exchange of credibility only goes one way in these arrangements, and it's not to Clark and Hellyer.


Because Canada didn't send troops to invade Iraq, our people have nothing to fear from Iraqi insurgents. Just sew a maple leaf on your backpack and they won't mistake you for an ugly American, and they'll shower you with love and affection.

Or so we've been told....

Four humanitarian workers, including two Canadians, have been taken hostage in Iraq, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Sunday.

The Canadian embassy in Amman, Jordan, notified Foreign Affairs about the kidnapping on Saturday.

The aid agency has asked that the names not be released, Dan McTeague, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs, said Sunday.

McTeague said the aid agency, which he would not name, "has not requested any assistance at this time." Officials in Amman and Ottawa are in contact with the organization, he added.

There are reports that the other two workers are British and American, but McTeague could not confirm it.

In April 2004, Foreign Affairs issued an advisory that said no Canadians should travel to Iraq.

"Under no circumstances should Canadians be there," McTeague said Sunday. "The situation remains very unstable ... and continues to be a danger for all foreign travellers."

Don't expect Foreign Affairs to bail you out of trouble, anywhere, at any time, for any reason. It's not their job, and even if it were, they wouldn't do it if it offended their hosts.

Source: CBC

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Hail And Farewell

Deputy Speaker Jean Augustine will not seek re-election in Etobicoke-Lakeshore, making way for Michael Ignatieff to be anointed the saviour of the Liberal Party.

I have never met Jean Augustine, and probably never will, but her most profoundly inane yet disturbing public comment gave my blog its name.

I would like to thank her for the inspiration, but I don't know if she'd take it as a compliment or an insult.

Mulroney Exonerated

CBC's Liberal party political broadcast dressed up as a documentary about Brian Mulroney failed to scare the electorate back into line, and now the media's attempts to use false allegations of Tory corruption to excuse proven Grit corruption have been dealt another hard blow:

After 12 years of investigation and prosecution, fallout from the Airbus scandal that plagued former prime minister Brian Mulroney's government appears to be over.

Barring a successful Crown appeal, the end came yesterday when an Ottawa judge discharged a helicopter company of the only charge ever laid by the RCMP in the case. The judge ruled there was no evidence against Eurocopter and discharged the company following a preliminary hearing.

"It is a good news day for Brian Mulroney. It is a bad day for the RCMP," said William Kaplan, a Toronto lawyer and author who wrote a book on the secret hearings into the initial Eurocopter search warrants.

"None of the allegations against Brian Mulroney have been shown to have any legal legs at all," he observed.

With this last loose end from the Airbus affair tied up, Brian Mulroney can now be conclusively proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, innocent of any wrongdoing in the Airbus affair.

Mulroney was foolish to have accepted $300,000 cash from Karlheinz Schreiber for consulting fees, an act that while legal, was not becoming of a former prime minister, nor should he have tried to hide that fact.

But he did not deserve to face an investigation based solely on his successor's vindictiveness towards his political enemies and the lies cooked up by a spiteful journalist who sold herself to the RCMP as an informer in her quest for vengeance against a man who had never wronged her.

History will more regard Mulroney more kindly than his Liberal successors. The failure of the recent smear campaign following the release of Peter C. Newman's book about Mulroney speaking at his frankest shows that his public image is even now being rehabilitated.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Britain Snowed Under

Motorists on Britain's streets and highways find themselves stranded today because of a few inches of unexpected global warming:

HUNDREDS of motorists were rescued from Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, last night after being trapped in their vehicles in heavy snow.
About 500 vehicles, including coaches, were stuck on the A30 between Kennards House and Bodmin near to Jamaica Inn after a lorry overturned at about midday.

Police used 4x4 vehicles to rescue people and the RAF and the Navy sent helicopters carrying blankets.

Among those stranded were an 80-year-old woman and a mother with a one-month-old child. One woman was airlifted to hospital from Bodmin Parkway railway station because ambulances could not reach her.

About 500 rescued people were expected to spend the night sleeping on mats at a leisure centre in Bodmin.

Inspector Steve Whitney, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said: “It will take the weekend before everything gets back to normal. People have abandoned cars in the middle of roads.” The eastbound carriageway has reopened, but the westbound lanes remain closed.

Remember the ridicule then-mayor Mel Lastman received for calling in the army a few years back to dig Toronto out of three feet of snow? He violated the unspoken, unwritten law of Canada: winter storms are a fact of life, so shut up and dig yourself out.

I would tell the Brits the same, except for the fact that the Gulf Stream keeps them from having real winters, so they've never really needed snowplows, winter tires or central heating.

In any event, this will no doubt be blamed on global warming, the wonderful hypothesis that can never be disproven and can explain everything from August heatwaves to February blizzards and why tornadoes always seem to hit trailer parks the hardest.

Source: The Times Online

Olympic Overdraft

The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, like all other such displays of the modern Roman circuses, is already costing several hundred million dollars more than the original budget estimates. And wouldn't you know, the organizing committee has discovered these cost overruns just as the Liberals are handing out piles of pre-election bribes to everybody under the sun:

Alarmed by skyrocketing construction costs, Olympic chief John Furlong said yesterday that more government cash may be needed to build facilities for the 2010 Winter Games.

"Our concern today is to make sure that we have what we need to complete the project to the standards that we promised," Mr. Furlong told reporters, after delivering a lengthy status report on the Games to the Vancouver Board of Trade.


He disclosed that VANOC has already raised the issue of money with the provincial and federal governments, which agreed in 2002 to provide $310-million each to cover Olympic construction costs.

Until now, both governments have insisted that those sums were fixed. But VANOC is now asking government to adjust its total $620-million commitment to reflect inflation and other factors so that it will retain its value in 2007 dollars.

Hint, hint. Vancouver seats at risk. Canada's public image as the prosperous peaceable kingdom in danger. Any ideas?

Source: Globe and Mail

Pro Bono

Paul Martin can't get George Bush to take his calls and everybody thinks he's a hero for standing up to the ugly American.

But when Bono--Bono!--expresses his disappointment with Paul Martin's dithering on foreign aid, suddenly we're supposed to feel ashamed for the PM and our country:

"I am personally not just disappointed, I'm crushed, actually, because I really believed that the Prime Minister would do that," he said, noting Canada is the only country in the G8 to boast a surplus.

"I felt, as a former finance minister, he would be able to make the numbers work...If it doesn't work for Canada, it's very hard to ask why Irish people should commit to 0.7 per cent or French people or English people. So there is a lot at stake here."

I fall to recall what public office Bono holds, or what particular expertise in macroeconomics and international development he possesses, that gives such weight to his opinions.

The good opinion of allied governments, especially that of our southern neighbour and largest trading partner, should count for far more than that of a pretentious rock star with a Messiah complex.

Source: Globe and Mail

Friday, November 25, 2005

Power And Privilege

Overlooked in all the hysteria about Stephen Harper's comment in the House of Commons about the Liberals being connected to organized crime, other than those niggling details about Alfonso Gagliano being named as a made man of the Bonnano family and cocaine smuggling on Canada Steamship Lines freighters is the issue of parliamentary privilege.

The need for full and frank debate in the House of Commons has been regarded as paramount. Without immunity against civil and criminal prosecution for libel and slander, parliamentarians might fear to raise contentious issues in the House, or speak out against the government of the day.

Issues of parliamentary privilege have always been regarded as Parliament's alone to adjudicate. Neither Crown, court nor cabinet can intervene. If they could, Parliament would soon find itself paralyzed by lawsuits and orders-in-council.

Which is why this solicitor's letter from the Liberal Party to Stephen Harper demanding an apology is much more offensive than anything he could have said about the party:

Prime Minister Paul Martin demanded an apology Friday morning. When the Tories refused, the Liberal party sent a letter through the Blake, Cassels and Graydon law firm.

A spokesman for Martin cast it as a legal warning shot.

"Mr. Harper (was informed) in writing of our intention to defend the party vigorously against any false smears such as those he uttered (in the Commons) under the protection of privilege," Scott Reid said.

"Mr. Harper has a chance to show leadership by admitting he went too far. He should simply do the right thing.

"At minimum, he should know the party will not tolerate false smears from he and his surrogates."

I am sorry to see such a prestigious firm lend its name to an assault on one of the cornerstones of the Canadian constitutional order and free government thereunder. No constitutional lawyer worth his salt would have advised the Prime Minister to intimidate the opposition with a threat of unconstitutional legal action.

If Paul Martin believes that Stephen Harper violated parliamentary privilege, he should complain to the Speaker of the House, and let him start the process that will take it to the House to decide.

Let him ask for an apology in Parliament, and not cower behind a lawyer's letter.

But then, the Liberals did carry on governing after losing a non-confidence vote in May. The only parliamentary privilege that it realizes is its privilege to control Parliament.

Source: Yahoo

Read more about parliamentary privilege at the Speaker of the House of Commons' official webpage.

Time For A Change

That's what the voters want, according to this Decima poll for CP:

Only 35 per cent of respondents who said they wanted to replace the government cited the scandal as their prime motivation.

A far greater number - 57 per cent - said it was because the Liberals have been in power too long and they wanted a turnover after 12 years.

The poll surveyed 1,040 respondents between Nov. 17 and 20, and its findings are said to be accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Both major parties can promise everything under the sun and it won't make a bit of difference to the average voter. They can both try to frighten them by painting each other as the devil incarnate and the average voter will tune them out.

Once the idea takes root that it's time for a change, it's practically impossible uproot that idea from the voting public's mind.

The public have almost never gone into an election seeking change for change's sake only to end up re-embracing the status quo.

Source: Yahoo


Sure, he's been out of the country for the last 25 years teaching at Harvard.

Sure, he's probably the only professor in academe to support the liberation of Iraq and ballistic missile defence.

Sure, he's so popular with the Toronto crowd that he might have to run against a sitting Tory MP in rural Ontario.

But Michael Ignatieff is the coming saviour of Canada's governing party by divine right, so you'd better get out of his way!

PS: He does have the proper pedigree for the leadership, because his grandfather was a cabinet minister. Even if it was Tsar Nicholas II's cabinet.

PPS: Susan Kadis and Joe Volpe will be surprised to learn that Elinor Caplan still holds both their jobs. The Star will regret the error on page G44 tomorrow.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

20,000 Visitors

Congratulations to Mr. or Mrs. or Miss Unknown TELUS ISP Subscriber in Beaverley, British Columbia!

At 10:45:52 PM Eastern Time tonight, you became my 20,000th recorded visitor!

You won a free oven mitt!

Pro Patria

Pte. Braun S. Woodfield, 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment

Remember him, his injured comrades, and all his comrades who stand in the line of duty.

More about today's incident in Afghanistan here.

The Royal Canadian Regiment is one of Canada's most storied and honoured regiments. From the Northwest Rebellion to Afghanistan, wherever Canadian fighting men have been in arms, its men have been there too.

Learn more about the RCR at the official website and see what 2RCR has been doing in Afghanistan here.

In Ralph We Trust (Or Not)

Ralph Goodale has suddenly discovered the need to resolve the matter of income trust dividend taxation, weeks before the Department of Finance was expected to settle the matter ahead in the feel-good budget that will never come:

Finance Minister Ralph Goodale tried to put a lid on the messy income trust debate and placate angry investors yesterday by promising to lower taxes on dividends. But the surprise announcement was botched, creating momentary confusion in the business community and prompting some to suggest that Ottawa's policy-on-the-fly is a poor solution to the trust problem.

Mr. Goodale, whose ruling Liberal party is expected to be defeated next week, surprised many observers by announcing a change in tax policy before the next election. His review of the income trust sector, which rapidly snowballed into a heated political issue, was not expected to be completed until the end of this year.


The haste of this decision was readily apparent. Mr. Goodale's parliamentary secretary, John McKay, gave a television interview shortly before Ottawa formally announced the dividend tax cut, and mistakenly suggested the government also planned to levy a modest tax on income trusts.

Mr. Goodale denied that Ottawa was seriously considering a tax on trusts and suggested Mr. McKay was mistaken.

"We are not proposing any tax on trusts," Mr. Goodale said.

Sources said Ottawa was still debating this option hours before it made its decision, but opted not to meddle directly with the sector because of stiff opposition from both pension funds and trusts.

They can't even get their stories straight any more on the fly, even when billions in tax revenue are at stake, and an entire sector of the investment industry is poised to turn its guns on them at election time.

Ralph Klein set the Tory faithful panicking with a few of his usual ill-timed and ill-considered comments to keep himself in the headlines:

"If I were a betting man," the Progressive Conservative Premier said to reporters after he was asked whether he thought the election result would be the status quo, "I would say there will be another minority. I wish that wouldn't happen . . . It's a damn shame."

Mr. Klein made the prediction about another Liberal government after being asked to evaluate the federal Conservatives' chances.

He said that many voters, especially in Ontario, which has 106 seats in Parliament, likely would not support the Tories because its leader, Stephen Harper, is perceived as "too much on the right."

"Maybe, I'm wrong, I hope I'm wrong," he said.

Better for us that Klein get his drunken babblings out of the way before the election is called than kneecap us towards the end of the campaign like he did last time. This will be out of the news cycle in a couple of days because Ralph's wind isn't enough to pump it up even in a hostile MSM.

Naked Came The Stranger

Tragedy would be unbearable sometimes without absurdity:

A naked man darted from a sport-utility vehicle into a downtown Washington office building at lunchtime yesterday and then jumped to his death from the eighth floor, officials said.

The man double-parked in the 1000 block of 15th Street NW about noon, bolted from his still-running gray Jeep Cherokee, dashed past a crowd on the street and ran into the lobby of an office building, witnesses said.


Before it became apparent what was taking place, the city's parking enforcers reacted to the abandoned SUV, which had leather seats, Maryland plates and no sign of clothing inside. They slapped a ticket on the windshield.

What a delightful insight into the workings of the bureaucratic mind in the world's greatest bureaucratic city. They'll probably still expect his estate to pay it, too.

Source: Washington Post


Attention subway passengers: the Montreal police assures you that there is no cause for alarm. Any connection between this trainspotting enthusiast and Islamic terrorism is completely coincidental:

Montreal police are scrambling to reassure commuters after a Spanish newspaper said a man arrested in the wake of the 2004 Madrid bombings had detailed information about the Quebec city's subway system.

El Pais daily newspaper reported Tuesday that Spanish police found information about the Montreal subway system as well as data on Spanish trains and a map of the London system on Abdelhak Chergui's personal laptop computer.

It allegedly included detailed plans of Montreal's Metro, such as route information, station locations – even details on passenger capacity and the system that opens and closes the doors on the subway cars.

Insp. Paul Chablo of the Montreal police tried to allay public anxiety on Wednesday, saying the material didn't add up to a specific threat and police didn't think they needed to increase subway security.

Just another innocent hobbyist only being checked out to be on the safe side. It's quite common over there, actually, just like one-way flight simulation.

Source: CBC

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Allan Cutler: Our Man In Ottawa South

From the Gomery Inquiry:

Because Mr. Guité was regularly receiving instructions directly from his Ministers, David Dingwall and Alfonso Gagliano, and because he had
direct access to persons in the PMO, including the Chief of Staff of
the Prime Minister, Mr. Guité was no longer subject to the authority
and direction of his immediate superior, either Richard Neville or James
Stobbe, nor was he subject to the authority and oversight of the Deputy
Minister, Ranald Quail. In their eyes and those of everyone in the public
service, he was in a special category, seemingly exempt from the usual
reporting rules, and not obliged to conform to normal practices and
procedures. Only one subordinate, Allan Cutler, dared to challenge Mr.Guité’s authority and methods and, as a result, he was declared surplus
by Mr. Guité.

Let the Liberals run all the retired astronauts and obscure actresses they can find.

One ounce of integrity outweighs a ton of celebrity.


No comment of mine could add, explain, or clarify the reason and purpose of the non-confidence motion Stephen Harper will introduce tomorrow in the House of Commons:

"That the House condemns the government for its arrogance in refusing to compromise with the opposition parties over the timing of the next general election and for its 'culture of entitlement,' corruption, scandal, and gross abuse of public funds for political purposes and, consequently, the government no longer has the confidence of the House."

Minority Report

You know it's election time when the Grits go all out to help keep the Indians on the reserve and the blacks in the 'hood.

$4 billion for the band chiefs to waste on themselves and their cronies to break the vicious cycle of poverty and despair Indians is just the start.

Paul Martin will grace the good folk of Jane-Finch with his presence at a meeting to discuss how to smash the Jamaican gangs or deport them to shoot each other at home why disadvantaged black youth need more social programs to keep them from turning violent.

At which time, of course, Paul Martin will declare it his absolute number one priority, and whip out the chequebook.

Spaceship Superstar

The first Canadian in space, Marc Garneau, will boldly go where many men have gone before as a Liberal parachute candidate:

Mr. Garneau is expected to vie for the Vaudreuil-Soulanges seat in western Quebec, currently held by Bloc Québécois MP Meili Faille.

Transport Minister Jean Lapierre, Prime Minister Paul Martin's Quebec lieutenant, refused to confirm or deny Mr. Garneau's candidacy yesterday

"We're not there yet," he told reporters. "When there's an announcement to make, we'll do it at the appropriate time."

But other Liberal sources said that the discussions on the former astronaut's candidacy have been completed, and he is expected to run, even if it is not yet official.

The former Liberal MP in the riding, Nick Discepola, has been planning a comeback since he was defeated in an upset in the 2004 election.

But the Liberal riding association in Vaudreuil-Soulanges has attempted to schedule a nomination meeting in recent weeks that would have likely chosen Mr. Discepola, and was rebuffed by the party's Quebec election committee, according to party members there.

One of Paul Martin's very important number one priorities, one that he has made absolutely clear, is remedying the democratic deficit in Parliament. There is currently a democratic deficit of Liberal seats to survive next week's non-confidence vote. So the local riding associations in Quebec will have to keep running their deficits until Parliament has a healthy surplus of Liberals again.

Source: Globe and Mail

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ralph Klein's Sober Considerations

Ralph Klein's defence against the scapegoating he's received from both Grits and Tories for their problems with health care reform sounds more like Tony Blair than the Ralph we all know and love, but he still makes perfect sense:

"The Liberal rhetoric relative to me being the bad boy of health or the boogeyman of health is wrong. It's absolutely wrong. It's bad, it's bad politics and it's b.s. politics," he told reporters.

Klein urged all three federal parties to have an "open and honest debate" about the state of Canada's health-care system when an election is called.

Canadians deserve better access to a health-care system that properly meets their needs, he said.

"If the Canadian system is unsustainable, which it is, and the American system is unacceptable, which it is, let's find a third way," he added.

We'll never have serious health care reform if we're asked to make a false choice between two strawmen, the first being the divine revelation to Tommy Douglas as faithfully transcribed into the Canada Health Act, the second being the heartless capitalist snake pit where rich white are driven in luxury Lamborghini ambulances to five-star emergency suites for their tummy tucks while poor black car crash victims have their mangled bodies tossed by bouncers out the front door.

Besides, people no longer fear even limited private health care in Canada. Too many people have family and friends whose suffering or deaths they have witnessed because of long waiting lines.

Ralph Klein talking reform doesn't send even the CBC's bedwetters under the covers trembling in fear any more.


Sorry Scott Slags Supporter

Scott Brison's rage and arrogance know no bounds: one day after being forced to apologize to Stephen Harper and the NCC to avoid a libel suit, he's out insulting long-time local Liberals who dare ask him for a little help:

OTTAWA -- A longtime, loyal Liberal is demanding an apology from Public Works Minister Scott Brison, claiming the Nova Scotia MP told her to "kiss my ass" during a dispute in a public restaurant.

Sandra McGrath, who has given three decades as a Grit campaign volunteer, has written to Prime Minister Paul Martin urging him to rein in the rude language and inappropriate behaviour.

After serving two terms on the Human Resources Development Canada Board of Referees, she was upset that Brison had led her to believe she was a shoo-in for the reappointment she ultimately did not get.

During a chance encounter at Acton's Restaurant in Wolfville, N.S., McGrath aired her frustration and advised Brison she would not support him in the next campaign.

"He got very upset. He looked at me and said, 'Well I've got something to tell you. I'm going to be the MP for a very, very long time, and you can kiss my ass,' " she recalled. "We were shocked and dumbfounded. This is a cabinet minister and there's supposed to be ethics in government. If he can't take some heat from the people of Canada, he shouldn't be in cabinet."

Her husband, Daniel McGrath, a lawyer who has also worked for the Liberals for 50 years, was the only witness to the exchange, she said.

A lot of long-time Liberals in Kings-Hants like the McGraths weren't happy to see Brison and his ex-Tory friends push them out of the way. They'll be only too happy to push them out again, and he's giving them every reason to.

Bob Mullan is going to be the MP for a very, very long time.

Source: Edmonton Sun

Last Minute Shopping

With only six shopping days left til Doomsday, the Liberals are rushing around anxiously to buy every vote they can't steal:

A $100-million promise for rail and mass transit. Millions more for labour-training deals with the provinces. About $4.6 billion for new military transport aircraft. A forestry plan worth more than $1 billion that will include a softwood lumber bailout package. The government plans to make those promises - among others - leading up to its expected defeat in a non-confidence vote next Monday.


They already made two big-ticket spending announcements aimed at Canada's largest province Monday: $920 million over five years to improve Ontario's immigration services, and $46 million to help DaimlerChrysler with automobile research and for refurbishing its assembly plant in Windsor, Ont.

Industry Minister David Emerson acknowledged political concerns were speeding up the rate of government spending initiatives.

He said the whirlwind of activity was about getting things done for Canadians before an election.

"What it is coincident with is the fact we could be defeated as a government next week," said Emerson, who offered some details of the Daimler-Chrysler announcement.

"We're trying to clean up as many files as we've had well advanced as we possibly can. "

They're not even trying to pretend anymore that their spending promises are about anything more than simple vote-buying. That's how arrogant the Liberals have gotten: even the simple courtesy of transparent hypocrisy is beneath them now.

Source: Yahoo

GM Shakeup: Magna Come Lousy?

General Motors' radical restructuring in a last-ditch bid to avoid filing for bankruptcy will shut down one plant and downsize two others in southern Ontario.

The timing of the announcement couldn't be worse for the Liberals, whose ability to keep their Ontario subjects in line by instilling gratitude for their supposed provision of wealth and fear that the Tories may take it all away. One especially grateful Liberal might be especially fearful today:

The Auto Parts Manufacturers Association says three jobs in the Canadian parts industry are created for every job in the assembly plants.

Those ratios suggest that the GM downsizing of 3,900 jobs could cost close to 12,000 jobs in Canadian auto parts companies.

Thus, the total job losses in assembly and parts plants could hit 15,000 to 16,000 -- hardly a killer for a large economy like Ontario's, but not to be treated lightly. Also, the impact is heavily focused on the area east of Toronto.

But that is only part of the story. In an integrated North American auto sector, Canadian parts plants are linked to supply chains south of the border, thus augmenting the multiplier effect.

Although the Globe doesn't mention Magna by name, its profit projections were somewhat disappointing of late, and even with rival GM spinoff Delphi under bankruptcy protection, the shrinking and potential bankruptcy of GM can't be good for business.

If GM's efforts can't keep them out of bankruptcy protection, southern Ontario is going to hurt really badly over the next few years. Can't blame this one on Alberta, folks. This one is on GM's and UAW's heads.

Globe and Mail

Monday, November 21, 2005

Bang Bang Bang Bang Bang HEY!

One-hit wonder 70's Brit glam rocker Gary Glitter could be facing a firing squad in Vietnam, not for annoying hockey fans with endless playings of Rock and Roll (Part 2) at every arena, but for allegedly raping a 12-year old girl:

Glitter, real name Paul Gadd, was arrested as he tried to leave Vietnam for Bangkok via Tan Son Hnat airport in Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday, after police started searching for him in connection with allegations about his relationships with two teenage girls.

If he is imprisoned, the former singer will find Vietnamese jails very different from Horfield Prison in Bristol, where he served two months in 1999 for possessing “hard-core, sick and degrading” images of children. Vietnamese jails are notorious for their squalor, harsh treatment of prisoners and lack of attention to sanitation, hygiene and food.

Even if he is not prosecuted in Vietnam, Glitter could face charges in this country if he ever returned under Britain’s “sex tourism” laws — the Sex Offences Act 1996.


Last November ten people were publicly executed by firing squad in front of 1,000 people in Nam Ding province.

Each victim received five shots to the body and one final bullet to the head, but the Government is now considering a more “mechanised” method to bypass the “trembling hand syndrome” suffered by members of some of the firing squads.

Glitter was sentenced to four months in jail in Britain, but served only two, after admitting downloading more than 4,000 images of children, some as young as two, on his laptop computer. The pictures showed boys and girls being sexually abused, tortured, bound, gagged and blindfolded.

Let Charlie deal with him, for once. Southeast Asia needs to drain the swamp of these Western perverts who come trawling for underage children.

Source: The Times Online

A Date Set In Stone

The House of Commons has just passed Jack Layton's motion calling on Paul Martin to seek a dissolution of Parliament in January for a February 13 election by 167 to 129.

The way is now cleared for Stephen Harper's non-confidence motion to be tabled Thursday and passed next Monday.

Lost in all of the arguing over what language constitutes a proper non-confidence vote is the unexpected evolution of a new constitutional convention: fixed election dates.

Paul Martin inadvertently created it when he pledged to call an election within 30 days of the Gomery report's release. Jack Layton has moved it along with this unprecedented motion to fix an election date three months in advance. And the Conservatives and Bloc have helped it pass into being.

For the first time, Parliament has voted to set dates for the dissolution of Parliament and an election, instead of them being set at the Prime Minister's prerogative. Even if Paul Martin doesn't recognize this current vote, the precedent has been set, and future votes will be easier to pass and harder to ignore.

Fixed election dates have long been seen as a way to prevent the Prime Minister from manipulating Parliament and the timing of elections to favour the party in power. No doubt that was the last thing Paul Martin wanted when he made his televised plea for clemency back in April with what he probably considered a throw-away line.

But from such ordinary turns of political circumstance have constitutional conventions evolved before, and will continue to evolve.

Source: CBC

Sorry Scott

Scott Brison has apologized to Stephen Harper and the National Citizens' Coalition for falsely claiming that they had both violated laws regarding registering as lobbyists and third-party election advertising.

The full text of Brison's apology may be found at Gerry Nicholls' blog.

Following on the heels of his most vicious anti-Harper rant yet to date, one wonders just whether Brison's animus towards Harper is more than just the usual overheated political rhetoric.

Does Brison secretly regret having jumped ship to the Liberals to become the defender of Adscam's most indefensible?

Does he see Stephen Harper where he always saw himself, and despise him for that?

If so, it's a shame, because Brison had a great political future ahead of him in the Conservative Party. He let his personal life override his political instincts, and now he will be remembered as just another turncoat, used, abused, and thrown away.


The White House is now saying that it is unlikely that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is dead.

Put away the champagne for another day, folks.

Source: Jihad Watch

Interest Groups Not In The Liberal Interest

Hoisted by their own petard on donation limits to political parties, the Liberals are now trying to minimize the damage by handicapping special interest groups:

The federal Liberals will push this week for new rules to limit fundraising by interest groups that take an active role in election campaigns — and put Conservative Leader Stephen Harper on the hot seat.

Tomorrow, cabinet is expected to consider a proposal to bring donations to interest groups in line with existing political financing rules — $5,000 for individuals and $1,000 for corporations. The limits would apply just for the period of an election.

Once approved by cabinet, the Liberals will then push to have the new rules quickly passed by the Commons and in place for the federal campaign, which could begin next week.


While the proposal is pitched as an initiative to boost fairness, it's also an effort by the Liberals to mute the conservative think tanks and advocacy groups that could be vocal on everything from same-sex marriage to the Kyoto accord in the campaign.

And it's also an effort to put Harper, who just released his accountability and ethics package, on the hot seat if he comes out opposed to the proposed limits.

Only in Canada is pressure group political advertising during a campaign considered undue interference in the political process. To say nothing of the timing of this particular bill, too.

One wonders how expansive a definition the Liberals would make of the term interest groups. Scott Reid has already stated that anyone who attempts to influence public policy should register as a lobbyist, a definition that could encompass even lowly bloggers.

The article also lets slip the Liberals' likely intentions to have this legislation selectively enforced against groups such as the National Citizens' Coalition, Campaign Life Coalition and the Fraser Institute, while groups that defend the Liberal Party will be allowed to break it with impunity.

Just as Liberal Party values are Canadian values, so too is the Liberal Party interest the public interest.

Source: Toronto Star

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Another Unwanted Holiday Season Election

Israelis are expected to go to the polls on March 28 next year after the Labour Party withdrew from the Likud Party-led governing coalition.

That's right between Purim (March 14) and Passover (April 13).

Why isn't Ariel Sharon telling the Israeli people that they don't want an election in between two major holidays?

Al-Zarqawi: Rest In Pieces

Al-Qaeda's number two man (and probably the effective leader since Osama bin Laden got bombed into paste) Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is believed to be dead following a firefight in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

Yahoo has more details on his possible demise.

If he's dead, then this is very good news for all mankind, because Al-Qaeda's leadership will likely start falling apart.

So much for all the bleating about America being drowned in a pointless bloody quagmire, eh?

From Apathy Into Dependence: The Liberals' Ontario Subjects

Earl McRae's Ottawa Sun column today gives us a disturbing look into the psyche of the Ontario voter, as exemplified by Paul Racicot and Naomi Heller of Ottawa

Saith Mr. Racicot:

"Is Stephen Harper too scary for you?" I ask.

"Yeah, he is. Weird. Scary. Whatever. He makes me nervous."

"What's scary about him?"

"He just looks and seems strange. I don't trust his eyes. Who knows what he's got in mind to do. He's also too dull. We need someone with fire. He comes across too perfect and you can never trust somebody like that."

"So despite all the years of Liberal corruption and scandals to do with your money, you still like Martin better, you'll vote Liberal, you trust them?"

"Martin's dealing with the corruption. The Liberals aren't perfect but I forgive them because overall we've done well under them. My worry is that Harper will screw the country up."


Naomi Heller, 40, jumps in: "Look, Martin's kind of creepy, too, but Harper, he's like those Christian nuts who always vote for Bush. He's got a secret agenda. He'd probably try to bring back the death penalty and ban abortion. Stuff like that. And with Harper, you'll never see him taking shots at the Americans like Martin does. He'd want us to be in bed with them."

There are many cogent arguments to be made against voting Conservative and for voting Liberal, but this couple is apparently incapable of making them. They appear to believe everything they watch on TV and hear second-hand from equally uninformed and apathetic people, and that's enough for them.

This goes far beyond a mere passive lack of interest in political matters. They have been brought to believe that the king can do no wrong, and that if even if he can, it is wrong to oppose or depose him.

That is not the attitude of a free citizen, but of a dependent subject.

I am reminded of the quote attributed to the Scottish historian Alexander Tytler:

"The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependence back into bondage."

If this couple is typical of the Ontario populace, then Ontario is well into the latter stages of decline, and bondage cannot be far off.

Senate Shutdown

The house of sober second thought, though stuffed to the rafters with superannuated Liberal hacks, occasionally bestirs itself to defend its constitutional prerogatives. Even if it has to kill a few Liberal pre-election bribes in the process:

Canadians aren't likely to see home heating fuel rebates — or other measures MPs have pledged to fast track into law before an election — because the Senate will not have enough time to pass the bills, The Globe and Mail has learned.

Leonard Kuchar, chief of staff to Senator Jack Austin, the Government Leader in the Senate, said the Liberals simply do not have the power to rush bills through the Red Chamber on such a short timeline.

“The membership and party structure in the Senate is very different than that in the House of Commons, so there is certainly no guarantee about the fate of these bills if the opposition parties in the House of Commons are determined to seek a rapid and premature dissolution of Parliament,” Mr. Kuchar said yesterday.


Independent Senator Marcel Prud'homme said he has not decided whether he would block unanimous consent should the bills make it to the Senate, but he noted that senators do not like to feel as if they are being pushed around.

“I don't like to work with a knife to your throat and a gun to your head,” he said. The Quebec senator noted that any disgruntled MP could also block unanimous consent when the votes come up in the Commons.

The four bills that were agreed to include legislation giving energy rebates to low-income Canadians facing rising home heating costs; a bill to reverse the onus of proof for those charged with drug offences who have previously been convicted of gang-related crimes; a bill making it easier for first-nations governments to manage oil and gas revenues; and a bill aimed at protecting pensions when companies go bankrupt.

What can the Liberals do during a cold winter campaign when heating bills go through the roof and voters' tempers with them? Blame the Senate, most of whose members the Chretien-Martin regime has appointed, for killing the $250 energy rebate?

Rarely does the Senate show itself to be effective. But when it does, it shows the indispensibility of a second chamber in preventing the House from running roughshod with every crazy pre-election bribe and scheme.

I just wish we had a different form of Senate instead of this appointed anachronism to check the House.

Source: Globe and Mail

Referendum III: A Clear Question For A Clear Victory

The next premier of Quebec (and likely its last pre-independence one) will not submit his secession referendum question to the provisions of the federal Clarity Act.

In an interview with the all-news channel RDI to be aired Sunday, Andre Boisclair says independence is up to Quebecers only and he sees no reason to submit to the federal Clarity Act.

Boisclair argues that sovereignty is a not a legal decision, but a political one and that voters will have the last word.

He maintains the province's legislature has the authority to oversee the process.

Boisclair, who met with senior party officials on Saturday, has said he wants to see a referendum as soon as possible in the first mandate of a PQ government even though most opinion polls have suggested Quebecers don't want another referendum.

Boisclair is being disingenuous here: the Clarity Act doesn't require the feds to write the question and run the vote, only to determine whether the question is clear enough for its purposes to enter into secession negotiations:

3) In considering the clarity of a referendum question, the House of Commons shall consider whether the question would result in a clear expression of the will of the population of a province on whether the province should cease to be part of Canada and become an independent state.

(4) For the purpose of subsection (3), a clear expression of the will of the population of a province that the province cease to be part of Canada could not result from

(a) a referendum question that merely focuses on a mandate to negotiate without soliciting a direct expression of the will of the population of that province on whether the province should cease to be part of Canada; or

(b) a referendum question that envisages other possibilities in addition to the secession of the province from Canada, such as economic or political arrangements with Canada, that obscure a direct expression of the will of the population of that province on whether the province should cease to be part of Canada.

I have never understood the reluctance of the Parti Quebecois to ask a clear question in either referendum; perhaps they believe too strongly in the conventional wisdom that Quebeckers would reject independence if there were no prospect of a common market or dual citizenship afterwards.

The conventional wisdom, I think, actually insults the intelligence of most Quebeckers. They would vote YES overwhelmingly for independence if they were ever asked an unambiguous question; they don't need to be tricked into it with false promises about nothing really changing. The longer and more convoluted the question, the more likely the voters think something is being put over on them, and the more likely they are to vote NO.

The 1980 question, which was defeated by 59.6% to 40.4% (and by about 53% of francophone voters), is a model of ambiguity which only asked the voters to vote for negotiating an agreement that itself would have to be put to another referendum:

The Government of Quebec has made public its proposal to negotiate a new agreement with the rest of Canada, based on the equality of nations; this agreement would enable Quebec to acquire the exclusive power to make its laws, administer its taxes and establish relations abroad - in other words, sovereignty - and at the same time, to maintain with Canada an economic association including a common currency; any change in political status resulting from these negotiations will be submitted to the people through a referendum; ON THESE TERMS, DO YOU AGREE TO GIVE THE GOVERNMENT OF QUEBEC THE MANDATE TO NEGOTIATE THE PROPOSED AGREEMENT BETWEEN QUEBEC AND CANADA?

No wonder why the question was rejected by three to two: if nothing was going to really change after such a vote, why vote YES?

The 1995 question, though narrowly defeated by 50.6% to 49.4%, still won about 60% of the francophone vote. Just by being a little clearer and shorter, it probably attracted more people to vote YES. Nonetheless, it still assumed that voters had background knowledge about the referendum legislation that few would have had:

"Do you agree that Quebec should become sovereign after having made a formal offer to Canada for a new economic and political partnership within the scope of the bill respecting the future of Quebec and of the agreement signed on June 12, 1995?"

A question like this, which would force Quebeckers to make a clear and unqualified choice, would almost certainly be a winner:

"Do you want Quebec to secede from Canada and become an independent country?"

The Parti Quebecois needs to overcome its timidity about asking for secession without an economic safety net. The committed separatist vote will take sovereignty, with or without an association. The francophone federalist vote's commitment to its cause is much weaker, as its supporters generally do not believe in Canadian unity for its own sake but in Robert Bourassa's cynical federalisme rentable. Offer them independance rentable and they will vote for it en masse .

Source: CTV

Saturday, November 19, 2005

911: Cold Food Files

Here's the least likely reason to call 911: your onion rings are cold!

Thibodaux, Louisiana (AHN) - A Louisiana woman now faces charges after calling 911 to complain that her onion rings were cold. She summoned police to the Malt-N-Burger Wednesday night where officers arrested her. 30-year-old Sharita Williams was irate over the temperature of her food, the Thibodaux Daily Comet reported.

Williams told police the food was cold when she received it and the attendant refused to replace it with a new order, the report says. At that point, Williams dialed 911. She was arrested and issued a summons for misuse of the 911 system. She was released and given a December court date.

In many states, it’s a crime to call 911 for a non-emergency. Law enforcement officials say these types of calls not only waste time and money, but can also be dangerous. In many areas, a conviction for a first offense can result in fines of $50 to $300 and 90 days in jail.

Ms. Williams' extreme reaction underscores the welfare state mentality perfectly: an overweening sense of entitlement combined with an abdication of personal responsibility in favour of state intervention.

That same mentality produced the looting and mayhem in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. One wonders whether she was one of the evacuees who waited for "da gummint" to do something about her plight the way it always expected to for those people.

Canadian Anglican Workers?

The Canadian Auto Workers' failed bid to unionize United Church ministers may have kept the union label off those particular labourers in Christ's vineyard, but Buzz Hargrove's boys might want to cast an eye at this group of Anglican clerics in Nova Scotia:

The group, called the Association of Professional Anglican Clergy, is autonomous and not tied to the structure of the Anglican Church.

Rev. Randy Townsend, a member of the association’s board of directors, said concerns about health and how health affects the effectiveness of ministers in their work, is the main issue facing the association.

"At any given time, probably ten to 15 per cent of active clergy are out on long-term disability or stress leave," he said. "The clergy who’ve come together to form the association felt the need to take responsibility for some of the things that affect their wellness.

"We are interested in helping our congregations be healthy, spiritually and otherwise, and so it is important to advocate for that on our own behalf as well."

The association will also help ministers upgrade skills and education, and work to inform the public about issues related to their ministry.

Overwork and burnout were the main reasons the United Church ministers cited for leading a union drive. This group's reasons sound the same as well. It could easily be the nucleus of a future union local representing its interests against the diocese's.

A closed shop union at that, since its proposal to help ministers upgrade their skills and education sounds suspiciously like a method to keep clergy who haven't gone through their approved programs from being incardinated into the diocese.

If its members view the ministry not as a vocation but a trade, unions are bound to come calling.

Haligonians may yet be treated to the sight of Anglican clerics picketing Old St. Paul's and St. George's.

Source: Halifax Chronicle-Herald

No Homecoming For Karl Toft

According to the Globe and Mail, New Brunswick's most infamous pedophile, Karl Toft, will be released from jail next week after serving 13 years for molesting more than 200 boys while serving as a guard at the Kingsclear reformatory near Fredericton.

The New Brunswick government is relieved that he'll be staying in Edmonton:

New Brunswick Justice Minister Brad Green said the provincial government is relieved that Toft has decided to stay in Edmonton.

"Quite candidly, the province of New Brunswick has no interest in him ever stepping foot in this province again," Mr. Green said.

Mr. Green said nobody believes he is rehabilitated and his victims will never forgive him.

"His victims will say there is no way he could ever pay the debt for what he has done to them," Mr. Green said.

But their relief may be as much for their party as for any future potential victims, according to this 2003 letter from Edmonton Centre East MP Peter Goldring to then-Solicitor General Wayne Easter:

6/ The late New Brunswick Premier Richard Hatfield has been identified by former Kingsclear residents as having been with Kingsclear children taken from the institution. Was Premier Hatfield officially questioned in the context of any Kingsclear investigation? If so, What was the result?

Richard Hatfield's homosexuality was New Brunswick's least well-kept secret during his 17 years as Premier.

One popular anecdote concerns two New Brunswick journalists who tracked down Hatfield to a gay nightclub in New York during one of his frequent trips to the city on a government plane. "Don't worry, fellows," he told them. "Your secret is safe with me."

Especially after his acquittal on marijuana possession charges, rumours about Hatfield's liking for teenage boys were common political gossip in New Brunswick, just as Gerald Regan's lechery was known by everybody in Nova Scotia long before the ex-premier was tried for sexual assault.

Hatfield cannot answer the allegations against him, but they will hang over his reputation forever. If Karl Toft ever confirms them, he could sink the current New Brunswick Tory government because of their late leader's supposed sins.

The White Man's Burden

White men need not apply to any at the Department of Public Works and Government Services, not even if they catch the responsible minister's eye:

A major federal department has temporarily banned the hiring of able-bodied white men in an unusual move critics say could spark a backlash against the very disadvantaged groups it is meant to help.

Managers in the Public Works department must hire only visible minorities, women, aboriginals and the disabled, except with written permission from their superiors, David Marshall, the deputy minister, ordered in an e-mail circulated yesterday.

The policy, designed to address shortfalls in the department's employment-equity goals, will last at least until the end of next March and be reviewed then, the memo said.


"I think it's creating a possible backlash against equity groups and then it's not helping these people to get into government," said Nycole Turmel, president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

"It's even creating more frustration or anger from the workforce as well as from the population ... I am quite sure the people they hire will be competent and good employees, but that is not the point here. They will be seen as targets, and then people will question their hiring, and I don't think it will help them."

She also charged that many of those hired over the next few months may well be laid off once the department reaches its targets by the end of the fiscal year in March.

Everyone knows that white men are supposed to get the shaft under every affirmative action scheme, but no one is supposed to put that statement on paper. Whoever approved telling the plain truth instead of using the weasel word disclaimer will find his (her? its?) position suddenly open under the scheme on Monday for blatant honesty.

Moreover, even the union can see right through the champions of one of their favourite causes. Managers can leave the executive level positions open or in the hands of acting managers until March, and meet the quota through labourers and clerical staff through temp agencies, who can then all be laid off at the same time.
If managers can follow the order to the letter while ignoring its spirit, they will.

A question mark has just been placed beside the names of every woman and minority who gets hired at that department from now on: is this person really qualified for the job?

Hardly a way to build trust and confidence in a public service that has increasingly become a closed shop for those born in genuinely bilingual regions of Canada and other government-favoured groups.

Source: National Post

Friday, November 18, 2005

Orchard's Poisoned Fruit

According to an informed source of well-known blogging adversary Calgary Grit , David Orchard is discussing a potential candidacy with the Liberals.

The Liberal spin practically writes itself: two-time Progressive Conservative leadership runner-up, staunch defender of the Canadian national identity, further proof that moderates have no place in the Alliance-Conservatives, etc., etc.

Never mind that Orchard's leadership candidacy was a symptom of the decrepitude of the old PC party, or that he will likely embarrass the campaign with intemperate anti-free trade outbursts at inopportune moments.

Never mind, also, that the fact that the Liberals are even talking to him is an indication of the sad state of the party in Saskatchewan.

The real story is that radical anti-American sentiment has moved from the periphery to the centre of the Liberal Party. David Orchard has the potential to be the Liberal Party's version of George Galloway. Worse yet, he might even be put in Cabinet to replace Ralph Goodale as Saskatchewan's man at the table, in a position to cause lasting damage to trade relations and the national economy.

Picture David Orchard as Minister of International Trade discussing the softwood lumber tariff dispute with Robert Zoellick or Condoleeza Rice, shrieking about American conspiracies to annex Canada by looting its natural resources through NAFTA. He could shut down Canadian forestry in an afternoon.

As a former Progressive Conservative, I saw the damage he wrought on the party. As a Liberal, he could do far worse.

Discussing Abortion: The Abortion Of Discussion

The MSM will go to any lengths to avoid discussing the A-word, and our politicians happily oblige them by declaring that Canadians have reached "social peace" about a------n.

Colby Cosh is a hard-core pro-******** man, but he does not fear breaching the collective code of silence about the issue:

A schema of modest legal steps against therapeutic abortion should be a vote-winner: As the LifeCanada polls shows, radicals like me -- that is, those who are unreservedly pro-choice -- seem quite outnumbered by the "moderates" who would circumscribe a woman's right to abort in various ways. But senior politicians, including capital-C "Conservatives," are terrified to propose any such steps. Which means we are left with the status quo -- the only nation in the entire Western world where there is no abortion law whatsoever. First trimester, second trimester, third trimester: Anything goes. And any politician who dares question this state of affairs risks being shot down by the media as a stone-age misogynist.

Of course, there are several similar puzzles in Canadian life; there is good evidence that we collectively favour capital punishment for the most loathsome murderers, and overwhelming evidence that we would prefer a more restrictive immigration policy. Yet neither of these positions will find its way on to a federal platform soon.


It is easy for politicians to ignore those who share the majority opinion. You are unorganized and quiet. But why are you? There may be an opportunity for some nonpartisan group, or even a brave party leader, to emerge and speak for the disfranchised moderate majority.

But in truth, I'm more cynical. I believe most of us lie to pollsters. I suspect that we are genuinely ashamed of our reproductive freedom, but that we secretly cherish it for our private purposes (or those of our wives, girlfriends, and daughters). And so we tell pollsters that we favour restrictions on abortion. But when a politician makes noises about doing something about it, we get scared.

Are the politicians the real cowards here, or is it the people they serve?

Cosh has diagnosed one generally unrecognized cause of Canadians' general reluctance to violate public orthodoxy about contentious public issues, especially this one. People don't like to be confronted with their consciences privately; they certainly don't want to wrestle with them publicly.

Few will talk about having had or counselled others to have an abortion publicly with much pleasure. Yet those who have done so will often console themselves with all sorts of rationalizations, economic, psychological, or eugenic. They both want to play God and yet suffer for doing so.

As long as people are unwilling to look within themselves, they will never summon the courage to debate the matter publicly, and the pro-abortion hardliners will continue to set policy by default.

Another cause, no less disturbing than the first, can be found at the heart of the transnational progressivism that has become the ideology of the governing classes.

If you believe, as they do, that society is progressing inexorably towards enlightened perfection, and that all change in society is perforce correct, once a change in social values and customs has arisen or been decreed, it is no longer open for debate.

For debate would suggest that the matter is not settled, that it may not progressive but regressive, and that its champions might be mistaken.

Thus we shouldn't be surprised to see progressives declare their opponents not well-meaning but misguided, but bigoted and evil. Why else would they side with wrong?

As mankind nears perfection, more and more issues will be settled, the limits of debate will be narrower and narrower, until the day comes when man will be perfect, and he will have no need of philosophy, metaphysics, politics, religion, or science.

Thus our governing classes' refusal to consider any debate, not just on abortion, but also on a whole host of contentious issues they consider to have been settled.

Those who stand in the way of progress must therefore be crushed under its advance.

Source: National Post

Pettigrew Slaps Boisclair

The immaculately coiffed Pierre Pettigrew has started a fight with Andre Boisclair for the title of top man in Quebec:

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday following Andre Boisclair's election as head of the PQ, Pettigrew said the ceremony - which paid tribute to the party's former leaders - was a "homage to losers."

"It was the night of the election of the next loser, because of what the hardliners will do to him," Pettigrew said.

Jonathan Valois, a PQ member of the provincial legislature, called on Pettigrew to take "another trip around the world with only his bodyguard."

Valois was referring to the controversy surrounding Pettigrew's decision to spend $10,000 in taxpayers' money to take his chauffeur on government trips to Europe and Latin America.


A Pettigrew-Boisclair feud will provide ample fodder for tasteless jokes, the kind that standards forbid me to publish here.

Source: National Post

Don Quixote Stevens

The Federal Court of Appeal has dismissed Sinclair Stevens' appeal to reverse the merger of the Progressive Conservative and Canadian Alliance parties.

No doubt he will appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, and most likely he will be refused leave to appeal.

These tired old Red Tories will do anything to embarrass the Conservative Party, because it has refused to recognize the Red Tory elite's divine right to rule.

After the next election, when we have a Conservative government, they will look like the old Japanese soldiers who were still fighting World War II 30 years after it ended.

This is no way for even a disgraced former Cabinet minister to cap his legacy, competing with UFO enthusiast Paul Hellyer for the dishonour of being the greatest laughingstock amongst retired politicians.

Give it up and go home.

Source: CBC

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Deliverance In Pakistan

When it comes to inbreeding, West Virginia has nothing on Kashmir. Cue the duelling banjoes:

It is estimated that at least 55% of British Pakistanis are married to first cousins and the tradition is also common among some other South Asian communities and in some Middle Eastern countries.

But there is a problem: marrying someone who is themselves a close family member carries a risk for children - a risk that lies within the code of life; within our genes.

Communities that practice cousin marriage experience higher levels of some very rare but very serious illnesses - illnesses known as recessive genetic disorders.


Such unions are seen as strong, building as they do on already tight family networks.

"You have an understanding," explains Neila Butt, who married her first cousin, Farooq, nine years ago.

"Family events are really nice because my in-laws and his are related," she says.

No wonder why so many Muslims from the Middle East are so attracted to jihad: their family trees don't fork.

Centuries of inbreeding and polygamy have made their dispossessed young men insane with sexual frustration.

Blowing yourself up for seventy-two virgins in the afterlife is an attractive prospect if your other options are your cousins, your left hand, or your goat.

Source: BBC