Sunday, July 01, 2007

Dominion Day

WHEREAS the Provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have expressed their Desire to be federally united into One Dominion under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, with a Constitution similar in Principle to that of the United Kingdom:

And whereas such a Union would conduce to the Welfare of the Provinces and promote the Interests of the British Empire:

And whereas on the Establishment of the Union by the Authority of Parliament it is expedient, not only that the Constitution of the Legislative Authority in the Dominion be provided for, but also that the Nature of the Executive Government therein be declared:

And whereas it is expedient that Provision be made for the eventual Admission into the Union of other Parts of British North America:

It shall be lawful for the Queen, by and with the Advice of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, to declare by Proclamation that, on and after a Day therein appointed, not being more than Six Months after the passing of this Act, the Provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick shall form and be One Dominion under the Name of Canada; and on and after that Day those Three Provinces shall form and be One Dominion under that Name accordingly.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Casey At The Bat

Bill Casey is not cut from the same cloth as Garth Turner, but let's not kid ourselves into believing that he has sacrificed his political career to the dictates of conscience.

Casey's plans to retire at the next election have been an open secret for months; to grandstand on a budget vote costs him nothing except ending his career with a brief stint outside caucus.

Nor does his vote against a confidence motion make him a martyr for the cause of freer votes in Parliament: not even the most enthusiastic boosters of free range MPs have ever suggested that a government MP should be free to vote no confidence in his own government. Were it to be so, not even a majority government could survive without endlessly brokering side deals with its own caucus.

Had Bill Casey simply not shown up that night, few would have cared about his abstention after the vote, and he could have got the point across without being turfed from caucus.

Nothing turned on his vote and nothing will turn on it.

The offshore deal will fail, as have all other such deals, because the dynamic of federal-provincial relations between Ottawa and Atlantic Canada, that of grudging charity to an incessantly whining supplicant, will not change any time soon.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Bland Blue Machine

Shell shocked by massive defeat in 2003, the Ontario PCs came to believe the media line that everything that even remotely appeared to have a connection to the Mike Harris years had to be purged to save the party.

Thus the election of John Tory as leader, the quintessential red Tory Toronto establishment man, with nary an idea to disturb the status quo or a word to ruffle anyone's feathers.

Randall Denley would like him to offer some. Not too disturbing, mind you. Just something to show that he's doing something other than not being Dalton McGuinty.

But Tory has no ideas of his own. He's never had to. All the positions he has held--principal secretary to Bill Davis, partner at Torys LLP, CFL commissioner, CEO of Rogers Cable--have all offered him the opportunity to show visionary leadership, and he's gotten by with being a bland if reasonably efficient manager of the status quo.

This will show on the campaign trail, to his detriment. People want a steady hand on the wheel. They also want someone who can navigate rough waters. Tory hasn't shown that he can do that. And unless he can, he'll be another nice guy who couldn't quite measure up.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Chicken Run

You knew that everybody just had to be blustering about forcing an election in Quebec three months after the last one. You just knew, because there was no way you could believe it possible:

The Quebec budget passed in the legislature on Friday, saving Quebecers from heading back to the polls this summer.

Premier Jean Charest's minority Liberal government remains intact after a 46-44 vote in the national assembly.

All Liberals in the legislature voted for the budget, while the 41 Action democratique du Quebec MLAs rejected it.

In a symbolic protest, three of the PQ's 36 MLAs showed up Friday to express the party's opposition to the budget, with the remainder abstaining from the vote.

So Jean Charest lives for now, but only at the grace and favour of the PQ. What's more, with the concerted opposition of the party ideologically closest to it. As soon as the PQ can finish coronating Pauline Marois, Charest's career as the golden boy of Canadian politics is done. Forever.

Would that he had stayed in federal politics, where he might be Harper's Quebec lieutenant today, instead a saviour for a cause that no longer needed (or had passed beyond) saving.

Source: CTV

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Quebec Syndrome

The Quebec syndrome strikes every federal government almost from its inception. Otherwise rational and responsible men are suddenly seized with the overwhelming urge to spend taxpayers' money in the vain hope that this project or that program will stir within Quebecois hearts the loyalty and passion towards Canada which has hitherto lain dormant.

In its worst manifestations, it produces Adscam and CF-18 contracts.

Its milder outbreaks, however, are no less dangerous to the health of the Canadian body politic.

Sometimes it's a little illegal referendum spending to save the country, for what are mere campaign finance laws when the unity of the Dominion is in peril?

Sometimes it's promises of jobs, jobs, jobs, even when said jobs are merely being moved over the Ottawa River without the jobholders' spending following along.

No government, Liberal or Conservative, is immune therefrom.

The only cure would a radical Quebecectomy, but even that might be worse than the disease.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The 950 Million Dollar Man

If you were wondering just why Jean Charest could be so foolish as to try to force an election three months after the last one over a tax cut even Mario Dumont says Quebec can't afford, here's why:

Under Quebec parliamentary rules the budget can't be amended in the course of debate. But a complementary financial statement could be added, giving in to the PQ insistence on increased funding for special education, seniors' care and regional development.

While PQ leader-in-waiting Marois was holding the hard line on the weekend, interim PQ leader Francois Gendron said anything that could prevent another election merits consideration. "There haven't been any discussions so far, but I'm open."

So what will be given with the right hand, will be taken back with the left.

And the most useless election call in Quebec history will be avoided, three months after the last one.

Source: Montreal Gazette

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Jerked Around

Some jerk with a beef at Toronto mayor David Miller threw a piece of beef jerky at him at City Hall yesterday.

This tragic event clearly underscores the need for a national dried meat registry.

Source: National Post


You always get more of what you reward.

A year of letting the goons at Caledonia squat on their neighbours' land and a couple of railway blockades allowed to continue in defiance of court orders has only encouraged the Assembly of First Nations--presumably not the most radical of Indian organizations--to side with the lawbreakers:

Canada's native chiefs will pressure the national railways to close down for the Assembly of First Nations' "day of action" on June 29, backing it up with a veiled threat they will probably face blockades from individual native bands if they refuse.

The carrot-and-stick approach was adopted nearly unanimously by chiefs at a special conference of the AFN, where chiefs who prefer more diplomatic political efforts were pushed to adopt tougher tactics by those who want to threaten economic disruptions to pressure the government.

This is indirect extortion against the railways--shut themselves down and cost the people millions of dollars, or be shut down and cost them even more.

Not one land claim will be settled, not one job created, not one child fed, because of these threats and blockades.

But outside sympathy for the cause will be lost.

Source: Globe and Mail

Monday, May 21, 2007

Why We Fight Them Over There

So that we don't have to fight this sort of bizarre reasoning over here:

Cairo's al-Azhar Islamic University on Monday suspended a lecturer who suggested that men and women work colleagues could use symbolic breastfeeding to get around a religious ban on being alone together.

The lecturer, Ezzat Atiya, had drawn on Islamic traditions which forbid sexual relations between a man and a woman who has breastfed him to suggest that symbolic breastfeeding could be a way around strict segregation of males and females.


The Dubai-based channel Al Arabiya quoted him as saying that after five breastfeedings the man and woman could be alone together without violating Islamic law and the woman could remove her headscarf to reveal her hair.

Even the most benighted of multiculturalists might consider this to be taking accomodation a bit too far. We think. We hope.

Source: Reuters

Right Back Where We Started From

To see the latest polls showing the Tories barely ahead of the Grits, you would expect panic in the Conservative ranks, and jubilation amongst the Liberals.

The lack of such response on either side is indicative of the recognition that what's happening now is the usual mid-to-late term malaise of any government that has accomplished most of its stated priorities, faced the usual initial scandals and problems, and is now casting about to set its next election platform. Certainly no joy for the Tories, but also no joy for the Grits, who have both exhausted much energy to end up treading water.

Which is why Stephen Harper won't be taking much of a summer holiday. The summer is a perfect time to draft the next election platform, with bigger and bolder ideas, active as opposed to being merely reactive.

But such is the problem of a government that accomplishes most of its stated objectives: so much energy gets invested in doing so that there's not enough left to deal with the problems that arise almost out of nowhere.

No party can win power without a platform, but no government can just stand on its platform, either.

Source: Globe and Mail

Thursday, May 17, 2007


If I block my neighbour's driveway and claim that his house is sitting on land that's rightfully mine based on a story that my great-great-great grandfather used it and never actually got around to deeding it over to anyone else, or didn't really know what deeding it over actually meant, I'd be lucky to get away with just an injunction to take the sawhorses down.

If I threatened to make even further trouble, I might find myself behind bars before long.

Indian land claim protesters, however, seem to be able to make these threats with impunity:

Court injunctions barring blockades on rail lines will do little to deter frustrated First Nations residents from staging similar demonstrations across the country, an aboriginal protester who led an eastern Ontario blockade said Thursday.

"I don't believe that an injunction changes the circumstances that people live in across this country," protest leader Shawn Brant said outside court Thursday. "I don't believe it serves to resolve those issues."

Shawn Brant's comments came after Ontario Superior Court Justice Colin Campbell temporarily upheld an injunction Thursday barring further blockades on the lines operated by Canadian National Railway.

Campbell granted the injunction last month after Brant and a group of protesters, members of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte First Nation, set up a 30-hour rail blockade near Deseronto, Ont., some 30 kilometres west of Kingston.

"This injunction or these proceedings, in fact, will bring about a reaction, and maybe an unintended reaction, that CN wasn't looking for," Brant said outside the court.

Is that so, Mr. Brant?

Perhaps his bravado will diminish after a night in a holding cell for contempt of court.

Regardless of what one might think about native land claims--and the history of conquest shows that they've been given much more consideration to their claims than most conquered peoples centuries after the fact--letting them get away with blockades only encourages more of the same, and worse.

Things got mighty quiet around Oka after the Mohawk Warriors got the point that the army could take them down.

Around Caledonia, the OPP's inaction has just kept the matter dragging and dragging on.

What will it take to show the blockaders that they'll be dealt with like any other law breakers?

Source: Toronto Star

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Gulag By The Sea

The horrors of Guantanamo Bay, America's very own Dachau, beside which the Black Hole of Calcutta was a stately pleasure drome, continue unabated according to the testimony of those who languish therein:

An accused enemy combatant held at Guantanamo Bay told a military hearing he was physically as well as mentally tortured there by having to read a newsletter full of 'crap,' being forced to use unscented deodorant and shampoo and having to play sports with a ball that would not bounce.

Majid Khan of Pakistan denied any connection to Al Qaeda and said he was tortured and his family hounded by U.S. authorities, according to a redacted transcript released Tuesday by the Pentagon.

Khan told an April 15 hearing called to determine whether he was rightly classified as an "enemy combatant" that he also had his baby pictures taken from him, that cleaners left marks on his cell walls and that detainees have no DVD players or other entertainment.


He said he has been unable to see his daughter, was denied communal recreation for 11 weeks, went four weeks without sunlight and fresh air, was deprived of basic or comfort items for three weeks, had his beard shaved twice and was forced to wear a protective suicide prevention smock.

And he complained that he was only given cheap unscented soap and shampoo, and that in the recreation room there is "no weight lifting machine, no toilet, no sink, ho hoops, and even balls them self have little air in them; they hardly bounce."

Tough. He's obviously never done time in one of Ontario's county jails, where he could only dream of balls with hardly any bounce, and getting jumped or shanked is the substitute recreation. Where people who truly don't deserve to be behind bars end up all too often. Where the weakest get introduced to the alternative lifestyle, forcibly.

He's probably cleaner, healthier and better-fed than he was running around the northwest frontier of Pakistan from cave to rock pile, dodging bombs and bullets. And in much less danger from his fellows, and his jailers, than the inmates at the county jail.

As for his claims of torture, take them with a grain of salt. Or a whole boxful. He wouldn't be the first of them instructed to lie or exaggerate for propaganda purposes.

Source: Fox News

Monday, May 14, 2007

Follow The Money, If You Can

Federal child care plan:

Give the provinces $2 billion.



Officials in Ottawa have few clues as to how well the cash was spent by most provinces since 2004. Provincial reports are months or even years overdue - when they're provided at all.

It's a blind spot that critics loudly warned about when past Liberal governments first started funding a national child-care system that was seen by many as encroaching on provincial social-policy turf.


A chart compiled by the association says reports for 2004-05 have still not been filed by Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Alberta, the Yukon or Nunavut.

The federal government's own child-care reports are missing for 2004-05 and 2005-06 "for a number of reasons," said Glennie Graham, director of child and youth policy for Human Resources.


Just five of 10 provinces reported on federal cash for the fiscal year 2004-05, and only Saskatchewan and British Columbia have filed for 2005-06, Lysack says.

Nonetheless, another $950 million was transferred from Ottawa to provincial and territorial governments in the last fiscal year. Senior officials with the federal Human Resources Department confirmed the missing data.

With this deal, the provinces get the best of all worlds. They take the money, don't tell the feds where it's gone because it's a provincial matter, then hold out their hands for more.

For all we know, it went to beer and popcorn.

Yet another reason for the feds to stop buying their way into provincial jurisdiction.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

In And Out

Everybody thought that the Parti Quebecois, left broken and bloodied by a third-place finish in the recent election, its ambiguously separatist thunder stolen by Mario Dumonts's "autonomism," was begging for Gilles Duceppe to come take over and lead it back to the promised land of independence.

Everybody, it seems, except the actual party militants, who couldn't run from Duceppe fast enough:

Within 24 hours of announcing he was running for the leadership of the Parti Québécois, Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe stunned the sovereignty movement by dropping out of the race.

Mr. Duceppe's organizers quickly realized that their strategy to take over the PQ had failed miserably and that an unpredictably strong level of support had quickly moved behind former PQ senior minister Pauline Marois, the only other declared candidate in the race.

The battle of titans everyone expected will not take place. A series of events that unfolded late Friday and all day Saturday convinced Mr. Duceppe that he would do better to remain Bloc Leader in Ottawa than pursue his strategy to become PQ leader.

A poll conducted by Crop for the Montreal daily La Presse on Saturday showed a vast majority of Quebeckers — 45 per cent — preferred Ms. Marois as PQ leader over Mr. Duceppe, who received the backing of 21 per cent. Mr. Duceppe reached the conclusion he didn't have the support.

"The Crop poll clearly showed an important and insurmountable trend in support of Ms. Marois. This was not visible two weeks ago," Mr. Duceppe's chief of staff François Leblanc said Saturday.

Actually it was visible even before the race began, but most commentators, having little knowledge of the PQ's peculiar nature, completely missed it.

Gilles Duceppe's political career, his youthful Marxist follies aside, has been defined by the Bloc Quebecois, from the day he became its first by-elected MP following Meech Lake's demise. He is not now, and has never been, a real pequiste , and the Bloc has never been simply the federal branch of the PQ.

He does not enjoy the same stature that Lucien Bouchard did when he went from leading the BQ to the PQ. He did not follow the same trail of tears that Bouchard followed along with so many Quebecois, from dashed hopes in federalism to renewed commitment to independence. Nor has he been with the PQ during its early days, its glory days, and its darkest hours.

Duceppe, unlike Pauline Marois, has no real roots in the PQ. The PQ, by the nature of its vision, does not take well to mere opportunists trying to jump to the head of the parade.

Duceppe's coronation was never going to happen; once Pauline Marois stepped in, he knew it, and he was left with no choice but to quit in an embarrassing manner.

The fact that the Bloc will take him back so readily is also a further sign of the Bloc's chief weakness: it has become, for all intents and purposes, the party of Gilles Duceppe. There is no one within its ranks with the necessary stature to succeed him and surpass him.

Gilles Duceppe just came out the loser here, but so did the BQ. Now they get to stumble along together for a fifth election, unable to extract themselves from each other.

Source: Globe and Mail

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Party Of None

You'll all remember how the Progressive Canadian Party swept the country like wildfire right after its founding, after millions of progressive-conservative Canadians left disenfranchised by the merger of the PCs with the Alliance flocked to the one party in the land left that represented the noble vision of Joe Clark.

Or maybe you didn't.

You will also remember that glorious day when millions left no less disenfranchised by the end of the Reform and Alliance parties abandoned the Conservative Party en masse to join the revived Reform party.

Or maybe you won't.

Dissatisfaction is the foundation of many a new political party, but that alone will not support a party in the long run. Nor will hankering for a past golden age that never was.

Anarchy Now

To the radical left, Jeff Monaghan, the low-level civil servant and lower-level amateur anarchist, is a hero for leaking the Conservative government's environment plans to meet (sort of) the Kyoto targets (maybe).

To hear him at press conferences, one would think he was a modern-day Daniel Ellsberg, leaking the Pentagon Papers out of pure patriotism and desire for peace and right to triumph.

And so he might be, in his own mind.

But is it not hypocritical for a self-styled radical anarchist to be in the employ of government?

Monaghan believes that there's no government like no government. The government should respect his beliefs and fire him at once.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Last Post: Dwight Wilson, 1901-2007

Such was the hecatomb of the First World War that boys of 15 could make their way into armed service without their true age being discovered, even in death.

Such was the call to arms if lucky enough to be caught and discharged, many of them would try to sneak their way back into service.

Such is the difference between our time and then, that few could even think of late teenage boys trying to do the same to serve in Afghanistan, or anywhere else where Canadian men are at arms.

Such were the men, and such were the times, that permit us now the luxury of forgetting the price paid.

Do not forget.


Frequent Flyer Continued

Another cabinet minister plays fast and loose with the rules of disclosure of public expenditure:

Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon made regular use of a government executive jet last year while keeping the trips off his travel expenses, documents show.

He's the second minister this week to have his travel habits exposed using government documents obtained by the NDP through an Access to Information Act request.

It's an embarrassing lapse of transparency for a government in the midst of trumpeting new accountability legislation in the House of Commons.

Transport Canada's aircraft flight log shows at least six trips taken by Cannon in 2006 aboard a sleek Citation C-550 executive jet that do not appear in his ministerial expenses posted on the department's website, as mandated by the federal Treasury Board.


Catherine Loubier, Cannon's communications director, confirmed there is no distinction between "program-related business'' and departmental business.

But she said the minister can't claim for costs incurred by the department. If the Transport Canada flight was the only expense for the minister's trip, he has nothing to declare, said Loubier.

"We have nothing to hide. This is public information.''

Again, the public will not draw such technical distinctions, true as they might be. This is not a club the government can afford to have the opposition beat them with. There is no national interest at risk in disclosing the particulars of these flights. Disclose and keep this from becoming a running sore.

Source: CTV

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Frequent Flyer

What's the difference between a ministerial expense and a departmental expense on behalf of the minister?

Who cares?

The public aren't accountants; all they'll see is coverup:

Federal Labour Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn said Monday he can’t do his job "by bicycle" but could not explain why his ministerial travel expenses failed to disclose a penny of almost $150,000 worth of charter flights last year.

The Conservatives have made a virtue of their ministerial frugality since taking office, but opposition MPs are now crying foul saying the government is simply hiding such expenses in different books.

Blackburn used the rental planes to tour Quebec as the regional economic development minister for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. But only eight of some 25 flights appeared in his quarterly "proactive disclosure" of expenses last year, and all eight listed air fare as zero.

This government needs to come up with an election platform, and soon, to get itself and the public attention focussed on getting things done as opposed to the endless nagging pinpricks from the opposition and accumulation of minor gaffes like the one above.

No one ever won an election by saying: "We did what we said we'd do. We don't know what we're going to do next. But whatever it is, we'll do it."

Monday, May 07, 2007

Help Wanted, Desperately

Even in the most rundown, yellow dog Liberal corners of Toronto, the provincial Progressive Conservatives can run competitive nomination races, if only between two no-names willing to go kamikaze in hopes of future preferment or out of the obligation of long service.

Kingston may be no less a Liberal rotten borough, but it's a sign of how bad matters are getting under John Tory's leadership that it has to run want ads for sacrificial lambs.

But perhaps this was to be expected, considering that John Tory did everything he could to block Randy Hillier from the Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington nomination and failed.

Many conservative and populist party members detest John Tory privately even as they praise him publicly, as another Toronto establishment figure, an even redder Tory than Bill Davis with none of the redeeming qualities. They'll be sitting out the October election, or going through the motions, with the hope that a second McGuinty majority will force him to take the hint.

As incompetent the McGuinty government has been, it won't be facing the most inspired opposition campaign.

At least in the 2008 provincial leadership race, the party won't have to run want ads.

Head Not To Roll

Everybody has been crying for Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor's head ever since the first reports came out about Afghan detainees being handed over by Canadian forces to local authorities for certain torture.

Everybody, it seems, except the general public:

A new Ipsos Reid poll, conducted exclusively for CanWest News Service and Global National, found 53 per cent of Canadians believe it is unfair for opposition parties to call for Mr. O'Connor to step down as they have been doing almost every day recently in the House of Commons. On the other hand, 36 per cent of Canadians believe Mr. O'Connor has been negligent and should have been monitoring what was happening to the detainees after they were turned over to Afghan officials.

The Harper government has been under steady siege in the Commons since allegations surfaced in late April that as many as 30 prisoners transferred by Canadians may have been abused.

I suspect Canadians are giving Minister O'Connor the benefit of the doubt in this affair. The fact that Canadian troops themselves are apparently not involved with detainee abuse, and that it is the Afghans who are the offenders, may allow for a good measure of absolution to the Canadian contingent," said Ipsos Reid senior vice-president John Wright.

Or it may reflect another part of the confused view that Canadians have of the Afghanistan mission. It would be an unspeakable evil to have our soldiers commit torture, but our hearts bleed less as long it's the Afghans doing it to their own.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Mission Inexplicable

One of the curious notions of our age is that war not only can be fought according to plan, but that it will also actually follow one.

More curious still is the notion that striking out at those who have already attacked will actually make countries more vulnerable to further attacks, a notion put to rest by anyone who has ever stood up to a schoolyard bully.

Miseducation, cultural malaise, ignorance or naivete--whatever the cause, these notions now are about to force the Conservative government to seriously consider pulling out of Afghanistan despite a casualty count that would have been thought a merciful visitation in previous wars:

Anyway you look at it, today's SES Research/Sun Media poll on the attitude of Canadians to our military mission in Afghanistan is bad news for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

More than half of those surveyed say neither Canada nor NATO has deployed the resources necessary for success.

More than two out of three think our presence in Afghanistan makes us more vulnerable, not less, to a terrorist attack in Canada.

More than half say if there are further casualties -- a given since we're there until 2009 -- Canada should pull out.

Finally, more Canadians (48.3%) disagree with the government's management of the mission than agree (43.9%).

Afghanistan may be the most godforsaken land on Earth, a land otherwise best left to its own strange ways, but it is now part of that no man's land running over into the Northwest Frontier of Pakistan where the sole law is the law of Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and their minions.

It will not a peaceful, democratic land in our lifetimes. But it cannot continue to be the staging area and proving ground for world-wide jihad.

If some sort of government can be left behind to effectively contain and then eliminate that threat, the mission will have succeeded.

Our NATO allies, mostly enervated by the general Western European cultural decline, and fearful of their small but growing and militant Islamic minorities, have been sloughing their responsibilities on to Canada as a result.

Now is the time to communicate to the people that Canada has been standing almost alone, and has accomplished great things in doing so, but must call on its NATO allies to remember that Canada once paid much of the price for their freedom.

Communicate all of that above, with conviction, and Afghanistan will not threaten to bleed the government to death.

Gordon O'Connor can't do that. Can Stephen Harper?

The opposition won't.

Source: Toronto Sun

Friday, May 04, 2007

Grave Robbery

The greatest prime minister Canada never had is now having his legacy marred by the sort of petty squabbling that marks too many fights over prominent persons' estates:

A bitter fight over Robert Stanfield's estate has sprawled over three years, prompted legal action in two provinces, and is now robbing the former Nova Scotia premier and leader of the federal Progressive Conservatives of his headstone.

Known as "the best prime minister Canada never had," Mr. Stanfield died in 2003 at the age of 89. He was buried at Halifax's Camp Hill cemetery, alongside other prominent Canadians such as brewer Alexander Keith and Joseph Howe, a former premier.

Mr. Stanfield's gravesite has now become embroiled in a legal battle between his third wife, Anne, and his four children from his first marriage.

Ms. Stanfield had the tombstone removed last fall, reportedly with plans to install a larger monument. The move angered her stepchildren, who argue Ms. Stanfield had no right to alter their family burial plot until a larger dispute over Mr. Stanfield's estate is settled. Last Thursday, the children filed a request for an injunction at a Halifax courthouse, asking Ms. Stanfield be barred from installing a new headstone and "restore the Stanfield lot to its previous condition."

Mr. Stanfield's son, Max, previously told the CBC that he and his siblings did not believe that their father would want a larger tombstone.

The tombstone dispute is just the latest fight in an ongoing family feud. In 2004, Mr. Stanfield's children launched legal action in Ontario, contending their father was not mentally competent when he altered his will in 1998 in order to award the bulk of his estate to his third wife.

Let the wife and children fight over the estate until there's nothing left.

But a man of Stanfield's public stature should not be left to lie under an unmarked grave like a pauper. Let the province put up the memorial, if necessary.

Source: National Post

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Canada's Least Wanted

No doubt some people will be tempted to nominate the usual gang of notorious criminals who, horrible though their crimes may be, caused no measurable damage to the functioning of the Canadian polity.

No doubt others will name whichever prominent politician whose ideology disagrees with them, no matter their actual effect on the peace, order and good government of the Dominion.

But everybody has an idea about who the worst Canadian of all time is.

Whoever that person might be, he is likely someone whom most Canadians have never heard of, but whose influence on public policy has been especially malign.

Maurice Strong would be such a candidate, because his visions of an authoritarian world government, and his backroom influence, have had significant influence on the drafters of the Kyoto Accord, the International Criminal Court, and other such unaccountable transnational institutions and agreements.

Who else can you think of?

We're In The Money

Political scientists and historians will look back on the previous Liberal government's decision to ban corporate donations as a death wish, for it turned one of their greatest strengths into a fatal weakness.

Not that Tories should be complaining:

Stephen Harper's Conservatives raised almost 10 times more money from 10 times more donors than the Liberals in the first three months of 2007.

Even the NDP — historically the poorest of the three main national parties — managed to raise twice as much money as the once-mighty Grits.

According to quarterly fundraising results, posted Tuesday by Elections Canada, the Liberals managed to raise only $531,141 from 4,365 donors.

By contrast, the Tories vacuumed up almost $5.2 million from more than 45,000 contributors. The NDP scooped up $1.2 million from almost 15,000 donors.

Bearing in mind that the Grits might have been tapped out following their leadership race, this is still a pathetic result for Canada's self-proclaimed natural governing party.

It's going to show on the campaign trail too: the public can tell an expensive campaign from a cheap one. And it will make the Liberals look even less ready to govern.

Unless they resort to loans from generous benefactors that get mysteriously written off. That would be the Liberal way.

Source: Globe and Mail

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Til The Cows Come Home

Slacking on the job is a chronic problem everywhere, but even this response might be taking matters a little far.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Return Of The Dauphin

Sound the trumpets for the coronation of the next leader of the Liberal Party:

He insists he wants to be known now for his first name — but Justin Trudeau rode on one of the most famous family names in Canadian politics to clinch the first victory of his new career Sunday.

Mr. Trudeau, 35, the first son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, survived his first political test by winning the Liberal nomination in a hard-fought battle in Montreal's Papineau riding.

To supporters, the victory will bring some of the old Trudeau dazzle back to the Liberal Party. To detractors, it could hobble Liberal efforts to rebuild their shattered fortunes in Quebec.

For Mr. Trudeau, standing before supporters who had been chanting “Tru-deau, Tru-deau,” it was a moment to step away from his father's memory even while he drew attention to it.

Before everyone starts getting nostalgic for the golden age of Pierre Trudeau, remember that it has been nearly 40 years since the first incarnation of Trudeaumania.

The Canada that was inspired to fall for the father is not the Canada that is expected to fall for the son. Justin Trudeau will be running a defensive campaign on his father's legacy, one that has effectively driven out Quebec, saddled us with eternal debt and fractured us into warring ethnic and regional fiefdoms.

In that sense, his will be a backward-looking campaign.

The Conservatives just have to keep promoting the notion of going forward whenever Justin Trudeau pops up to laud his father's past achievements and the country's past greatness under him.

No politician ever inspired a people through the rear view mirror.

Source: Globe and Mail

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Trop Clair

Andre Boisclair's political career is dead. The Parti Quebecois may be dying. But Quebec separatism will never die:

Embattled Parti Quebecois Leader Andre Boisclair on Friday rebuffed criticism by a departing executive member by saying someone with “real courage,” would have stayed to help the party through its current turmoil.

Boisclair said slamming the door in a huff is the old PQ way of behaving, but that has to end because the public is fed up with the drama.

“The real courage is not to leave and shut the door,” Boisclair said in reference to the resignation of the PQ’s Quebec City region’s PQ president, Philippe-Edwin Belanger. “The real courage is to engage in a debate.”

Belanger quit Thursday, accusing Boisclair of being afraid to face the party rank-and-file in a confidence vote this year or in early 2008 following the PQ’s disastrous March 26 election performance.


He was asked about a Le Soleil newspaper report that a group of sovereignty hard-liners —_including Patrick Bourgeois, editor of the sovereigntist newspaper Le Quebecois, and movie-maker Pierre Falardeau — were planning a May 4 meeting to discuss the creation of a new hard-line separatist party.

They accused Boisclair of being soft on separatism and planning to transform the PQ into a new kind of nationalist organization that will back attempts by the other parties to leverage more power out of Ottawa.

The Parti Quebecois vision of an independent quasi-socialist state linked in some nebuluous economic union with Canada has probably passed its sell-by date. Economic dirigisme is losing favour in Quebec and the economic union was always a non-starter, and if anything, reflected a certain timidity within the separatist movement.

But centuries of history and resentment cannot be set aside as blithely as economic policies. As long as there are Quebecois, there will be Quebecois nationalism.

The PQ compromised repeatedly on the principle of Quebec independence by hedging it with qualifiers about "sovereignty-association" and "winning conditions" instead of charging ahead for independence, full stop. And having compromised the principle, it has compromised its own survival.

The prospects for an uncompromising separatist party might never be better than with the failure of the PQ. At least it would recapture the vigour that the movement needs.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Curse The Darkness

With carbon credits traded as modern day indulgences for the remission of sins against Gaia, and addlepated songstresses proclaiming their virtue through mortifications of their rear flesh, one is increasingly reminded of certain exaggerated elements of late mediaeval European society.

We have yet to see the strange sights of St. Vitus' dance breaking out in the streets, but we are seeing one of those sudden enthusiasms that sometimes sweeps a credulous populace: the purge of the incandescent light bulb.

Six months ago, no one in the world saw the incandescent bulb as the greatest threat to Earth's survival. Now everyone's getting in the act to ban the bulb--supposedly because of its admitted inefficiencies, but perhaps because of hysteria that fails to consider the even worse effects of some of its replacements:

How much money does it take to screw in a compact fluorescent lightbulb? About $4.28 for the bulb and labor — unless you break the bulb. Then you, like Brandy Bridges of Ellsworth, Maine, could be looking at a cost of about $2,004.28, which doesn’t include the costs of frayed nerves and risks to health.

Sound crazy? Perhaps no more than the stampede to ban the incandescent light bulb in favor of compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) — a move already either adopted or being considered in California, Canada, the European Union and Australia.

According to an April 12 article in The Ellsworth American, Bridges had the misfortune of breaking a CFL during installation in her daughter’s bedroom: It dropped and shattered on the carpeted floor.

Aware that CFLs contain potentially hazardous substances, Bridges called her local Home Depot for advice. The store told her that the CFL contained mercury and that she should call the Poison Control hotline, which in turn directed her to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

The DEP sent a specialist to Bridges’ house to test for mercury contamination. The specialist found mercury levels in the bedroom in excess of six times the state’s “safe” level for mercury contamination of 300 billionths of a gram per cubic meter.


Consider the procedure offered by the Maine DEP’s Web page entitled, “What if I accidentally break a fluorescent bulb in my home?”

Don’t vacuum bulb debris because a standard vacuum will spread mercury-containing dust throughout the area and contaminate the vacuum. Ventilate the area and reduce the temperature. Wear protective equipment like goggles, coveralls and a dust mask.

Collect the waste material into an airtight container. Pat the area with the sticky side of tape. Wipe with a damp cloth. Finally, check with local authorities to see where hazardous waste may be properly disposed.

The only step the Maine DEP left off was the final one: Hope that you did a good enough cleanup so that you, your family and pets aren’t poisoned by any mercury inadvertently dispersed or missed.

This, of course, assumes that people are even aware that breaking CFLs entails special cleanup procedures.

So why the sudden enthusiasm to ban the bulb? Because it's much easier to convince the public of a threat in their own homes, now, than some abstract threat happening to someone else in the future.

Rick Mercer's "one tonne challenge" failed because people don't measure their carbon emitting activities the way they clip coupons and watch their gas gauges. Even if they could, they wouldn't, because it isn't relevant to their daily lives.

But everybody's got light bulbs.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Life Is Like A Box Of Chocolates

There is, at times, a symbolism behind a man's method and weapons of attack. Sending a box of chocolates rubbed with raw chicken is rich with meaning (and flavour, and salmonella, no doubt). What meaning that is, other than simple psychosis, we may never know:

The B.C. Court of Appeal has quashed the firing of a CBC Radio reporter who sent a box of contaminated chocolates to an activist who questioned his journalistic integrity.

Bob Keating was fired in 2003 but his union, the Canadian Media Guild, grieved the dismissal and an arbitrator overturned it in favour of a three-month suspension and an agreement to take an anger-management course.

The CBC appealed the decision and a B.C. Supreme Court judge overruled the arbitrator, saying he had exceeded his mandate by considering a favourable psychologist's report on Mr. Keating made after the firing and not allowing evidence of a past angry outburst.

The ruling appears to open the door to Mr. Keating's reinstatement at the CBC, but he has found work elsewhere and has no plans to return to his former employer.

“That's not going to happen,” he said yesterday about going back to CBC.

“I've moved on . . . I made a mistake. It cost me a career . . . I want to put it behind me.”

What a bizarre, passive-aggressive way to get back at someone. And what a cowardly way, as well. I'd have had more sympathy for the guy if he'd manned up and decked the guy. Or just said nothing and let the accusation fall of its own weight.

You wonder how many other nuts are running around at our esteemed public broadcaster.

Source: Globe and Mail

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Ho Down

Take hip-hop "artists'" three favourite words away, and their works will end up sounding like John Cage's 4'33".

Sounds good to me!

Monday, April 23, 2007

This Old House

I cannot recall who first said that one could derive the antonym of any word by attaching "social" as a prefix, but how true that is.

Consider the matter of social housing in Toronto, which does little to keep its residents properly sheltered:

A group of about 30 tenants of the Toronto Community Housing Corp.-owned building at Eglinton Avenue East and Markham Road marched into the management office Thursday with a litany of complaints that includes chunks of ceiling falling, an infestation of mice and roaches, and a week without hot water and heat.

"I've pretty much duct-taped everything, just to seal the mice and the roaches and the bugs [from] coming in," said Sherry-Ann Goordeen.

Goordeen, who has lived in the building for five years, says part of the damaged ceiling once fell on the head of her seven-year-old son.

The tipping point, however, was a week without hot water or heat that extended through the cold Easter weekend.

To keep warm, tenants used ovens and slept fully clothed. They are demanding a rebate for the week of inconvenience and that other problems be addressed.

No surprise that the city houses its poorest in a manner to rival the worst slumlords.

The city has no economic incentive to keep its housing habitable: theirs is a captive market, kept marginally alive on social assistance (another antonym) and reminded daily that it cannot survive without the city's beneficence.

And naturally, such housing tends to attract not those who have merely fallen down on their luck, but those who are fighting to keep from getting back on up it.

We will see more of these stories as Toronto continues to deny that it is on the brink of bankruptcy, as New York was in the 1970s.

And we will be told that everyone else is to blame, and to pay, for Toronto's plight.

Source: CBC

Sunday, April 22, 2007

You Say You Want A Revolution

No, this is not Gloria Galloway trying to stir up her much hoped for Conservative leadership revolt, but the Toronto Star musing on the prospects for same if the next election should produce another minority government:

"If he (Harper) takes the party to minority twice, there are going to be questions raised (about his leadership)," says John Wright, senior vice-president of the Ipsos Reid polling firm. Wright adds that a minority government is a very real possibility given that most Canadians don't really know Harper and, worse yet, don't completely trust him.

Wright says if the Conservatives win a status quo minority, "you got to think the party itself would be looking and thinking about getting another leader."

The next few weeks are the moment of truth on a possible trip to the polls by Canadians before summer. The Conservatives and their opponents have been primed for a possible quick election call, but if it doesn't happen soon, the likelihood is that Harper has decided to wait until the fall or possibly next spring.

And so arise the usual names:

Peter MacKay, because his superficial charm and stunning incompetence are the definition of the media's idea of an ideal Tory leader.

Jim Flaherty, because the media would love nothing more than to haul out all his supposed sins from the Mike Harris years.

Jim Prentice, because he's got the Red Toryism without the fecklessness of Joe Clark.

Maxime Bernier, because he's from Quebec, and can thus restore the unconstitutional convention that the prime minister must come from there.

Jason Kenney, because he's supposedly got an even scarier hidden agenda than the current leader.

And of course, John Baird, of whom it is diplomatically said that "it's unclear if he would want to be put under the spotlight of a leadership bid."

So there you have it, folks. Even though Lester Pearson handled two minority governments without a serious revolt and Mackenzie King handled even worse, Stephen Harper supposedly cannot survive a second minority government.

Of course, how the Liberals are expected to win one with Quebec and the West out of the picture, we are not supposed to ask.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Team Spirit

Do you know how hard it is to make priorities?

The federal Liberals want the Conservative government to push for a lineup change to Team Canada at the upcoming world hockey championship because of ethnic slurs that were allegedly made by a player toward a francophone referee more than a year ago.

The allegations, which sparked two lawsuits, revolve around an incident at a December 2005 NHL game involving Phoenix Coyotes forward Shane Doan and a francophone linesman. An NHL investigation absolved Mr. Doan of any wrongdoing.

"There is now proof that hockey player Shane Doan uttered racial insults during a game against the Montreal Canadiens," said Marcel Proulx, the Liberal party deputy whip, in the House of Commons.

So why should the federal government care about a hockey player mouthing off on the ice to a ref, like thousands of players before and after him, after a bad call against him?

Mr. Proulx later said it wasn't up to him to decide whether Mr. Doan should play, but he added the government must seek explanations from Hockey Canada.

"I'm saying that the government of Canada finances partly Hockey Canada, so if they agree that there shouldn't be racism in sports they should question Hockey Canada on how they can include him in their team," Mr. Proulx said after question period.

According to a document tabled last month in Quebec Superior Court in support of a lawsuit launched by Liberal MP Denis Coderre, linesman Michel Cormier reported that "at the (end) of the third period No. 19 Shane Doan skated (by) me saying: 'F... French did a good job.'"

Mr. Coderre's suit was in response to one Mr. Doan filed against the politician in the middle of the 2006 federal election campaign.

What is the damage that has been suffered here? The linesman has surely heard far worse on the ice, and no one seriously believes that either he, or NHL referees, or even the Quebecois nation, have been defamed beyond repair.

But when there is government money involved, however tangentially, the government must be to blame.

Settle the matter on the ice and not in court or on the Commons floor. It already was when Doan took a gross misconduct penalty and the league backed up Doan.

Radioactive Man

Hearken back to the good old days of the Manhattan Project, when a whole host of scientists involved in building the first atomic bombs turned out to be passing on the plans to the Soviets.

Sure, they might have been a little bit too fashionably leftish in their political views, but Stalin was an ally at the time, and all hands were needed to beat the Germans to the bomb.

What possible mitigating reasons could exist now, however, for hiring Iranian nationals at nuclear plants when Iran has been telling everyone it will build nukes and drop them on Israel and the West at the first opportunity?

A former engineer at the nation's largest nuclear power plant has been charged with taking computer access codes and software to Iran and using it to download details of plant control rooms and reactors, authorities said.
The FBI said there's no indication the plant employee training software had any terrorist connections.

Mohammad Alavi, who worked at the triple-reactor Palo Verde power plant west of Phoenix, was arrested April 9 at Los Angeles International Airport when he arrived on a flight from Iran, authorities said.

Alavi, 49, is a U.S. citizen and denies any wrongdoing, said his attorney, Milagros Cisneros of the Federal Defender's Office in Phoenix.

He is charged with a single count of violating a trade embargo that prohibits Americans from exporting goods and services to Iran. If convicted, he would face up to 21 months in prison.

According to court records, the software is used only for training plant employees, but allowed users access to details on the Palo Verde control rooms and the plant layout.

Not bomb making plans, to be sure, but something potentially no worse: how to start a nuclear power plant meltdown.

We didn't hire enemy nationals of doubtful loyalty for such sensitive positions during World War II--at least, not knowingly. There are surely enough people in the West who can work in nuclear plants without having to hire Iranians.

Not now, not as this point in history.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Stormy Weather

The first few weeks of spring's unseasonably cold weather may have led many to forget the first few weeks of winter's unseasonably mild weather. Oh, and the storms that knocked down a bunch of trees in Stanley Park, which were proclaimed as undeniable proof of manmade global warming's unleashing of a host of climatic plagues.

Except that they weren't:

[A couple of thoughts about the Stanley Park "devastation," after having visited Vancouver's rightly famous downtown park myself at the end of March: Even if SP has had 10,000 trees felled by two major windstorms this past winter, the park contains half a million, or more. So 10,000, while a large number, would be just 2% of the total inventory. And consider that wind has been an important natural part of forest renewal since time immemorial. Typhoon Freda, for instance, hit the park just as badly in 1962, long before the world had heard of SUVs or begun to think climate change was manmade. And Freda caused nearly $5 billion damage (in 2007 dollars), far more than the storms of 2006-07, neither of which was large enough even to warrant being named. And, finally, SP exists only because the federal government leased the land to Vancouver beginning in 1886 because the entire 1,000-acre peninsula had been logged out. Few, if any, of the trees toppled this winter were more than 120 years old. They were certainly not "old growth." Too many tree-huggers and enviro-squishes see nature as existing in a perpetual, never-changing equilibrium -- as if preserved under a dome. All change to "nature," therefore, is unnatural. So any change to SP, for instance, is proof some force beyond nature (i.e. manmade warming) is to blame. But SP is a manmade park to begin with, and wind damage there is nothing new. The level witnessed this winter is not even new in the park's relatively short history.]

The only planet climate and vegetation don't change on is a dead one.

Yet the promoters of the hyperenvironmentalist agenda rely on our short memories to conceal to divert us from this fact.

If it didn't happen before in our current memory (which grows ever more unreliable with time), it's never happened before.

Source: National Post

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Senator Brown

Bert Brown has been waiting behind a long line of Liberal hacks who have taken their seats in the Senate with nothing more to recommend them than the Prime Minister's desire to reward faithful service to the party or to appease some particular ethnocultural bloc.

Three times has he run for election to the Senate; twice has he been elected thereto, only to be ignored.

Though the law and the constitution did not forbid the Prime Minister of the day from appointing him to office, he was frozen out by those who did not perceive the need for Senate reform, or chose to fight against it.

Now his long wait for the Senate seat he has merited through his long efforts and championship of transforming the last wholly appointed national legislative body in any Western democracy will be coming to a well-deserved end.

Would that more politicians had the perseverance to achieve their goals this way. Bert Brown was championing a Triple-E Senate when the idea was considered mere constitutional crackpottery by the governing classes.

Now he's finally the most symbolically important step closer to it.

And the anachronism of an appointed Senate is that much closer to passing into the dustbin of history--a House of Lords without the nobility.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

To Arms

A timely reminder from the great Diogenes , that in spite of the crime at Virginia Tech, a society where the state does not enjoy the monopoly on protective force is still a freer society.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Naked Ambition

The mutual exchange of credibility between the Liberals and Greens that has arisen out of last week's deal has reaped yet more rewards in the person of Briony Penn, who left the Greens for the Liberals out of dismay even before the deal went down.
This is Briony Penn in a less formal setting, protesting logging on Saltspring Island in B.C.

This is her timeless quote for Colombo's Canadian Quotations:

"I've got a PhD and no one listens," she declared. "I take my clothes off, and here you all are. So thank you."

No, no, thank you.

The new Red Green show will provide hours of entertainment for political junkies across the land.

World's Oldest Profession

The CBC has come upon a shocking discovery that hitherto has escaped the notice of chroniclers of mass armies, gold rushes and politics alike: where there's a lot men and a lot of money, there's a lot of whores!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Green With Resentment

In politics, your worst enemies are not necessarily your direct opponents, not even your ambitious colleagues, but the people trying to occupy your particular niche.

We saw it in the virulent rhetoric with which the remnants of the old Progressive Conservatives attacked Reform/Alliance while sparing Jean Chretien's Liberals.

Now we may see the same emnity between the Greens and the NDP:

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says she's been trying for months to get the NDP to talk about ways the two parties can co-operate on shared priorities, but the party has kept the door firmly closed to her overtures.

She was reacting to NDP criticism over the announcement this week by May and Liberal Leader Stephane Dion that neither leader would run an opponent in the other's riding.


The NDP has called the move undemocratic, and former party leader Ed Broadbent revealed Friday that May had called former Canadian ambassador to the UN Stephen Lewis to try and get him to broker a deal with New Democrat Leader Jack Layton.

She admitted she has been frustrated with Layton's lack of co-operation, and turned to her old friend Lewis to try and open up the lines of communication.

"What the hell is wrong with Jack Layton that he can't answer a phone call?" she said on CTV's Question Period.

"I don't understand this. He talks to Stephen Harper all the time. Surely, our shared values are much closer between the NDP and the Greens."

Leave aside the petulant whining of a teenage wallflower who can't catch the eye of the high school football quarterback.

Jack Layton doesn't return her calls because the Green Party has taken the place that the NDP held for the past little while: occasional lenders of their social conscience, policy platform and stop-the-Tories votes.

Layton knows he'd just be a third wheel in the relationship.

They can't both have the same spot in Dion's affections.

Source: CTV

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sudden Jihad Syndrome Strikes Montreal?

The Quebecois may not be too fond of Jews either, but gut instinct told me that these two thugs weren't likely to be named Tremblay and Pelletier:

Two Montreal men have been accused of a raft of attacks against the city’s Jewish community, including the firebombing of a Snowdon community centre that police are treating as a hate-related crime.

Omar Bulphred, 21, and Azim Ibragimov, 23, appeared briefly in Quebec Court on Friday to be arraigned on charges stemming from incidents that began last fall. Both were denied bail.

Azim Ibragimov, left, and Omar Bulphred face nine charges each stemming from events that began last fall.

The case is due back in court on Monday, at which time a date could be set for a bail hearing.

In addition to their alleged roles in a rash of firebombings, the two are accused of conspiring to commit kidnapping and armed robbery. But it’s not known who or what their potential victims were.

The Gazette could have told you of how disputes are often handled in certain regions of Russia, but this would have required making some educated assumptions, a little investigative digging, and raising uncomfortable questions about the nature of our peaceable kingdom:

Jeffrey Boro, president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said he was told by police that the two accused are Muslims of Russian descent who were born in Canada.

“That makes it very disconcerting for those who live here,” he said. “We’re raising people here with such hatred in their hearts for people that they’ve never met or had anything to do with.”

But no doubt their attitudes were formed in their communities and reinforced every day with formal propaganda and casual comment.

The barbarisms of the Caucusus are finding fertile soil in our colder climes.

So much the worse.

Source: Montreal Gazette

Garth's Got A Secret

RepoCreepo has been feeding Garth Turner's insatiable need for attention ever since he joined the Liberals over his disappointment in not having his brilliant financial mind, sense of discretion and team spirit recognized with a cabinet post.

Now we're told that the great champion of open debate and democratic process had his nomination meeting held in secret.

No doubt Turner will be screaming that his confidences have been betrayed and whoever leaked the news about the meeting should be kicked out of the party.

However, one unnamed commenter suggest that it will be all for naught:

Garth has finally reached the minimum requirements to collect his MP pension. He has served 2243 Days (6 years, 1 month, 22 days) and is now over the age of 55.

My bet is that he'll pull a Boolinda (by the beginning of summer) with the excuse that he's not going to run again because he just doesn't have to take this "crap" anymore.

Garth isn't getting any press these days and his fundraising efforts sound marginal at best. Maybe he can get a lemonade stand going soon so that he can pay for the stakes for his shiny new red liberal - strike that - GARTH signs.

But then his lemonade would be real lemons - they'd be sour grapes.

Not that Canada's greatest financial advisor needs the money. (Or so we think. Did Garth take a bath on income trusts as well?)

But frankly, he is entertaining in a strange sort of way, like certain drunks ranting on at the local bar.

It would be a shame to lose both him and Belinda this year. We need someone to kick around.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Red Light, Green Light

We all knew what Jason Cherniak was going to say about the strange new coupling of Stephane Dion and Elizabeth May.

It was his brilliant idea, after all.

He won't let you forget how much foresight he had to join Dion's campaign when everybody else was boarding the Iggy-Rae juggernauts.

Beside him, Criswell was a mere piker.

Gut Check

Well, at least it beats getting knocked out and waking up hours later in a bathtub full of ice and a strange scar on your stomach.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

May Day

The Green Party occupies a curious twilight position in the Canadian political scene: not quite a major party, but much more than a fringe party. Its previous leader, Jim Harris, hit on just the right mix of environmentalism and fiscal responsibility to make the Green Party a safe place to park protest votes for people who want clean air but can't stand hippies.

Elizabeth May is set to undo all of her predecessor's good work, by cozying up to Stephane Dion and cutting a shabby that undercuts her and her party's clean, green image:

Stephane Dion has decided not to run a Liberal candidate against Green Party Leader Elizabeth May in the next federal election.

Dion, who shares May’s environmental idealism, is expected to make the announcement today. In return, sources say May will promise not to run a Green candidate against the Liberal leader and will essentially endorse Dion for prime minister.

The extraordinary back-scratching between two supposedly rival leaders is unheard of in Canadian politics and could generate a backlash within both parties.

Many Greens are already upset with May for lavishly praising Dion’s environmental record and inferring that he’d make a better prime minister than Stephen Harper.

What does May hope to accomplish with this deal? It is by no means certain that Central Nova's Liberal voters will happily follow behind her, however much they may detest Peter MacKay.

If she wins her seat, she does so not on her own merits but as a stooge for Stephane Dion. If she doesn't, she looks doubly foolish for taking the deal, and her leadership will likely be finished.

Worst of all, she confirms the perception that the Green Party isn't ready to become a serious player, and that it's a farm team for left-leaning environmentalist Liberals.

The Green Party built up a lot of credibility by not appearing to be playing politics as usual. Now it's all about to be lost because of May's strange infatuation with Dion.

Source: Toronto Star

24 Heures

Despite their endless grievances about the rest of the world doing them wrong, and their refusal to improve their situation and govern themselves responsibly, progressive opinion never fails to champion their claims of oppression and occupation of their nation by a foreign people accused throughout history of all manner of nefarious schemes.

Now they complain that they are being portrayed in the popular media with vicious and bigoted stereotypes that verge on the blasphemous.

But that's enough about the next season of 24.

Two Minutes For Holding Up Real Business

Why do legislatures seriously debate trivial matters leading to irrelevant resolutions? Because they can:

The Nova Scotia legislature has unanimously endorsed a resolution chastising the NHL for its decision to schedule the Pittsburgh Penguins'-Ottawa Senators playoff game for Saturday afternoon rather than the evening Hockey Night in Canada slot.

The league is trying to accommodate the U.S. television network NBC, which usually airs NHL games on weekend afternoons.

Conservative backbencher Pat Dunn drafted the resolution. Nova Scotians are keen to see Dartmouth native Sidney Crosby in his first playoff season and a 4 p.m. faceoff makes no sense, Dunn said.

"Most Nova Scotians are very busy with their lives — out, some working, some shopping, running errands and so on," Dunn said. "Just not a good time to be sitting down watching a hockey game prior to parents getting meals ready for their children and so on."

Tough. Let the NHL and CBC find out the usual way--through decreased viewership and ad revenue--and get back to the real work of legislating.

Source: CBC

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Given the choice between slogging away on the opposition backbenches for the next few years as an object of condescension and contempt, or between making millions as a figurehead executive in the family business with the prospect of making millions more as a figurehead auto maker CEO, which would you choose?

For Belinda, parliamentary politics was just another bauble to amuse herself with, only to be thrown away once she had had her fun with it, like her husbands and lovers.

Faced for the first time with challenges that required her merits, and not her father's money, to conquer, she withered.

Her contributions to the body politic remain as insubstantial as she; a few photo-ops, a few headlines, and a few bits of gossip.

Conservatives may rest assured, however, that her failure was their success.


To the chattering classes, the notwithstanding clause is considered akin to the so-called Satanic verses in the Qu'ran, an embarrassing interpolation into a sacred text which must be ignored or explained away lest the faithful be scandalized and the faithless emboldened.

The rest of the country apparently doesn't share the same sense of shame and disgust:

More than two-thirds of Canadians believe politicians should have the power to override court decisions by having the final word on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in certain circumstances, a survey indicates.

With the 25th anniversary of the Charter approaching, the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies and the Carleton University Survey Centre in Ottawa polled Canadians on what they think of the controversial "notwithstanding" clause in the Constitution, which allows governments to override rights.

Sixty-eight per cent either strongly or somewhat agreed the "notwithstanding clause" should remain intact.


The notwithstanding clause, added to the Constitution as a deal-maker at the insistence of several premiers during negotiations in the early 1980s, has seldom been used in Canada.

Both Parliament and provincial governments have a limited power to pass laws that are exempt from certain Charter provisions for a period of five years.

Until now, it was safe to assume that the public believed, as do the elites, that the Charter is the fons et origo of all our rights and freedoms, and that to change one word within (or not to read in many words without) would lead the nation into tyranny.

But as our judiciary has been spinning out of control with interpretations of the Charter that recognize strange new rights while denigrating others, perhaps people are becoming reassured that there is a remedy to rein in the courts.

Certainly the people do not share the same faith in judicial infallibility as the elites, else they would not be calling for an elected judiciary at the same time.

Most of our constitutional protections and conventions have arisen out of the need to check the predations of the executive or legislative branches. Now, it seems, we need to check the predations of the judiciary.

Source: National Post

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Leading Indicators

There was a time in this fair land when SES polls did not run, and we wonder how our predecessors managed to survive without their daily fix of Nik Nanos' consistently accurate numbers.

If these numbers are anything to go by--and this being SES, they're money in the bank--Stephen Harper is demonstrating the overwhelming power of incumbency in the face of a weak opposition:

Although the Conservatives are short of the committed support necessary to form a majority government, Stephen Harper has a clear advantage over Liberal Leader Stephan Dion. Forty-two percent of Canadians choose Harper as the best PM followed by Dion at 17%, Layton at 16%, Duceppe at 7% and Elizabeth May at 4% (the rest chose none of the above or were unsure). At this point in time Stephen Harper personally may be in majority territory but his party is not.

What is emerging is a situation where one leader is ahead of his party (Harper) and another leader trails his party (Dion). Of note, Harper is the second choice as the best PM among committed Liberals, New Democrats and BQ voters and the first choice as Best PM in the province of Quebec.

The office puts a stamp on the man more than the man puts a stamp on the office. Stephen Harper never enjoyed this much of a lead over Paul Martin even as Martin's campaign was sinking; simply holding the prime ministerial office is good for a few percentage points in these polls.

Yet now he leads significantly everywhere: in all regions, in all age groups, among men and women.

The real problem in this poll, however, is that Stephane Dion is trailing Jack Layton in several key demographics: everyone under 40, men, and Quebec (Quebec!) .

Keeping in mind the significant advantages of incumbency, there's still no silver lining for Dion. A majority of his own party's supporters doesn't think he'd make the best PM--40% just doesn't cut it. He should be at two-thirds, minimum, no matter how feckless a leader he is.

Dion needs an election campaign, whether he wants one or not, because only then will he have the opportunity to overcome his current image problems.

When people aren't paying attention, it's always the guy who's got the job who looks best.

Sudden Death In Afghanistan

Wars must be fought according to plan, but no war ever follows one. Lulls break suddenly into storms and death follows in their wake:

Caked with several layers of dust and fatigued from almost five weeks in the field, the soldiers of Hotel Company took to their vehicles on the afternoon of Easter Sunday knowing a warm shower and a fresh meal were only one task away.

The troops of Hotel Company, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, had been patrolling the Maywand District of northwest Kandahar province since March 6 and Sunday’s task - to escort a convoy of troops and supplies through the desert into Helmand province, as they had done the two previous days before - was to be their last before returning to base for some much-needed rest.

Not only that, but there had been no attacks on police checkpoints during the weeks they were patrolling the Maywand area and their company commander had formed strong and fruitful relationships with local leaders and elders.

Morale would have had to be sky-high.

Then at about 1:30 p.m. a LAV III carrying 10 Canadian soldiers hit an improvised explosive device (IED) that ripped through the back of the armoured carrier, killing six soldiers.

Military leaders said Monday that the bomb was laid at a choke point among a collection of deep irrigation wells - at the only place vehicles would have to drive in order to avoid a major diversion.

A few feet either way, and the bomb doesn't go off. A moment's delay or haste, and many more might have died. The difference between a routine mission and a deadly one often comes down to as little as inches and seconds.

A lesson that has to be learned again with every war: there are no guarantees on the battlefield.

Source: National Post

Monday, April 09, 2007

Iron Harvest

The fields at Vimy are now lush with grass and crops, but still they bear fruits of the bitter harvest reaped ninety years ago today:

When Marcel Vion was harvesting his autumn crop of beets not long ago, the earth suddenly opened up before him, and revealed a lost tableau from 90 years before. Beneath the front wheels of his tractor, and for metres beyond, were the remains of a Canadian underground field hospital, entombed in the earth for generations.

"Sappe," the 69-year-old farmer muttered -- "tunnel" -- and hit the brakes. This was not a surprising occurrence. Two years earlier, a nearby farmhand had been knocked out cold when he'd strolled into a furrow filled with leaking mustard gas. One farmer has been killed in the past decade, and others injured, by the shells of 1916. Such is life in the farmlands below Vimy Ridge.

This town has an active munitions depot, which still receives regular, deadly deposits from the area's farmers, and its own active mine-clearing team. It contains thousands of still-lethal antiques, and its gas-leak alarm still occasionally strikes fear into the town's residents.


"Every time we go out with the plow, we turn up something from the war," says potato farmer Alfred Ansart, 73, taking a break from washing potatoes in the brick courtyard of his farm just outside the village. His small plot spent decades disgorging deadly shells, bombs and mines; in recent years, it has regularly churned up hundreds of fuses from shells, bayonets, bullets, and pieces of hardware and uniforms.

The metal objects tend to rise to the surface, damaging harvesters and plows. Somewhat lower in the ground are far worse things.

"We all know not to set the tines on our plows too deep," says Mr. Vion, the beet farmer. "If we go below a certain level, we start disturbing the soldiers down there."

Volumes of histories backed up with volumes of photographs and statistics fail to reveal the full scope of World War I as effectively as this: nearly a century on, men are still finding countless remains thereof.

Even today, bomb disposal experts are still defusing live shells, mines and grenades before careless tourists and visitors fall victim to them, all across northern France and Belgium.

The phenomenon has its own peculiar name: the iron harvest.

Let it be a lesson that the reminders of war cannot always be neatly packed away in cemeteries and cenotaphs.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Sunday

And on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalen cometh early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre; and she saw the stone taken away from the sepulchre. She ran, therefore, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and saith to them: They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went out, and that other disciple, and they came to the sepulchre. And they both ran together, and that other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And when he stooped down, he saw the linen cloths lying; but yet he went not in.

Then cometh Simon Peter, following him, and went into the sepulchre, and saw the linen cloths lying. And the napkin that had been about his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but apart, wrapped up into one place. Then that other disciple also went in, who came first to the sepulchre: and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. The disciples therefore departed again to their home.

But Mary stood at the sepulchre without, weeping. Now as she was weeping, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, And she saw two angels in white, sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been laid. They say to her: Woman, why weepest thou? She saith to them: Because they have taken away my Lord; and I know not where they have laid him. When she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing; and she knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith to her: Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, thinking it was the gardener, saith to him: Sir, if thou hast taken him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

Jesus saith to her: Mary. She turning, saith to him: Rabboni (which is to say, Master). Jesus saith to her: Do not touch me, for I am not yet ascended to my Father. But go to my brethren, and say to them: I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and your God.

John 20:1-17

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Los Angeles, Mexico

While conservatives often bewail the Islamicization of Europe, not all of them have been paying enough attention to the growing problem of Mexican irrendentism within the southwestern United States and in southern California in particular.

It is now entirely possible for persons of Hispanic descent to be born, live, and die within an entirely Hispanic cultural milieu there, without having to learn a word of English or make any other accomodation to English-speaking American society.

With Mexicanization comes the call for secession and/or reintegration into Mexico: a faint cry today, limited to radical groups and their academic fellow-travellers for now, but one that will grow as it becomes clear that the United States does not have the will to defend its southern border against a mass of illegal immigrants intent on draining the milk cow dry before killing and eating it.

Gates of Vienna has links to several articles suggesting that a low-level form of ethnic cleansing is taking place in southern California as Mexican gangs turn on local black populations.

This article from the Guardian (yes, the short-sighted old Grauniad), is remarkably blunt in its assessment of the situation:

Los Angeles is where an estimated 120,000 gang members across five counties battle over turf, pride and drugs. It is a city of violence as a new race war escalates between new Hispanic gangs and older black groups, each trying to ethnically cleanse the other. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has referred to his city as 'the gang capital of America', has launched a crackdown on the new threat.


They have names such as Mara Salvatrucha, La Mirada Locos and Barrio Van Nuys, and now the 204th Street gang - who made it clear that they will kill innocent girls to force black families off their turf.

Last year there were 269 gang-related killings in LA. Gang-related crime leaped 15.7 per cent last year, as most other types of crime fell. Hate crimes against black people have surged. With a rapidly growing Hispanic population, LA's gang culture is shifting. It means that being black in the wrong neighbourhood can get you killed.

That's not ordinary gang warfare: that's outright insurrection.

How many more people in the Hispanic community down there are silently supporting the gangs, not out of fear, but out of hope that they'll drive the blacks and the Anglos out?

Is the Mexican government looking on with approval? It has been using illegal immigration as a safety valve to prevent its own people from fomenting revolution from within. And it has no shame in encouraging its nationals to break American law.

Perhaps the U.S. should be sending some of that troop surge to its own borders first.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday

And when they were come to the place which is called Calvary, they crucified him there; and the robbers, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. And Jesus said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. But they, dividing his garments, cast lots. And the people stood beholding, and the rulers with them derided him, saying: He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the elect of God.

And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, And saying: If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. And there was also a superscription written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. And one of those robbers who were hanged, blasphemed him, saying: If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering, rebuked him, saying: Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art condemned under the same condemnation?

And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done no evil. And he said to Jesus: Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom. And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise. And it was almost the sixth hour; and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

And Jesus crying out with a loud voice, said: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. And saying this, he gave up the ghost. Now the centurion, seeing what was done, glorified God, saying: Indeed this was a just man.

(Luke 23:33-47)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

You Can Run, But You Can't Hide

Adscam adman Jean Lafleur's faulty memory suddenly recalls that he was involved in that sponsorship scandal, after all.

How much worse is life on the run in Belize than in jail in Canada, anyway?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Svend Back?

Never underestimate the willingness of the electorate to be fooled by the same people again and again. Never also underestimate the willingness of any political party to recycle even its worst candidates, if their notoriety might yet squeeze out a few more votes:

Might as well plan on 20 more years of B.C. Liberal rule. Svend Robinson is thinking of running for the NDP. In their wildest dreams, the Liberals have never imagined a more encouraging future than one that involves Robinson running for the other side.

And provincial New Democrats are probably combing through their rule book, looking for some way to bar the tempestuous, far-left lightning rod from ever setting foot in Victoria.

The Province's Ian Bailey caught up with Robinson on the weekend. "When you get people coming up to you in the Safeway, in the library, in the park and saying: 'We would really like to see you represent our community,' that's something you take seriously," he said.

The current NDP caucus is a collection of earnest policy wonks, committed to moderation, civility and finding the middle ground. Inviting Robinson into that mild-mannered posse would be like bringing Britney Spears into your book club.

Robinson's political career has been one of endless public displays of narcissism, an attribute common enough amongst politicians and homosexuals, but especially flagrant in his case.

Whether it was rushing to Sue Rodriguez's bedside to stick the needle in her arm, or getting his pants torn by the RCMP at a protest, or stealing a ring for his boyfriend, Robinson always made sure that the story was about him.

What he can't stand is the relative obscurity of private life. Without a political platform, he's just another aging exhibitionist.

He'll be running for office until he dies just for the attention.

And should he be elected again, his election will reflect just as badly on the electorate as on him.

Source: Victoria Times-Colonist

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Ashes To Ashes

The surprise here is not that Keith Richards would try anything. The surprise is that he actually managed to outlive his father:

It may be the strangest chemical ever to alter Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richard's state of mind — a mix of cocaine and his father's ashes.

"The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father — I snorted my father," Richards said in an interview with British music magazine NME.

Richards' father, Bert, died in 2002 at age 84, but apparently was a sanguine sort of fellow.

"He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn't have cared," Richards said. "… It went down pretty well, and I'm still alive."

Stranger still is the possibility that Keith Richards' copyright may expire before he does. The man must have sold his soul for indestructibility.

Fear Factory

I don't care that David McGuinty came up with the phrase. It's at least an original epithet, unlike "war room":

The expansive and battle-ready Conservative campaign headquarters was opened to journalists for a one-time-only viewing yesterday even as two cabinet ministers denied the party has any desire to go to the polls.

Reporters were permitted to stroll through the 17,000-square-foot war room before being ushered into the adjoining television studio to view the latest attack ad against Stéphane Dion, which will begin airing today.

"We've taken the big and costly step of opening this facility because [Liberal Leader] Stéphane Dion has put the country on notice," Environment Minister John Baird said at a heavily scripted news conference. "He's told Canadians he wants to go back to power as soon as possible."

Mr. Baird would not discuss the cost of renting the roomy space on the second floor of a non-descript building in a southeast Ottawa industrial park. But he said the Conservatives will keep it fully equipped and ready for action until voting day, even if that means paying the bills until 2009.

"Fear factory." Take the sting out of the phrase by making it one's own. Manufacturing fear in the hearts of Liberals everywhere.

Source: Globe and Mail