Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'll Take 'Conservative Spies' for $500, Alex

Question: Sunday's winner of the Conservative Weasel of the Day award

Answer (in the form of a question a la Jeopardy™): Who is "the Conservative member" who secretly taped Jack Layton's caucus call?

According to the audio tape, Layton appears to take credit for the possibility of a coalition.

"Let's just say we have strategies. This whole thing would not have happened if the moves hadn't been made with the Bloc a long time ago and locked them in early," Layton says. "Because, you couldn't put three people together in one or three hours. The first part was done a long time ago."

He then goes on to say that the NDP "spotted and prepared for the opportunity and had taken the steps that were required, so that when the opportunity arose, which was when Mr. Harper made his disastrous strategic error by not providing stimulus to the economy and instead playing political games, we were able to move and things began to move very quickly."

Layton also says about the Bloc: "Nothing could be better for our country than to have 50 members who have been elected to separate Quebec...actually helping to make Canada a better place."

The standard denial was issued, of course, and legal action against the person who recorded the conversation is being looked into.

Who knew this fall session would be so much fun?

In related news, Daddy Deficit has now bumped up budget day to January 27 and John "Pit Bull" Baird announced that the Cons are backing down from taking away strike privileges. That's Baird once again acting as Steve's spokespuppet - the Transport minister. What's wrong with this picture?

How do you spell scramble? These days it's spelled C-o-n-s-e-r-v-a-t-i-v-e.

And how do you spell subpoena? Stay tuned.


Details of proposed Liberal-NDP coalition emerge

A Liberal-NDP coalition agreement that would replace the minority Conservative government was being fleshed out Sunday night, the CBC has learned.

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion has shown the outline of an agreement between his party and the New Democratic Party to Liberal leadership candidates Michael Ignatieff, Dominic LeBlanc and Bob Rae, the CBC's Keith Boag reported, citing sources.

"They're discussing this tonight in Toronto," he said from Ottawa.

The NDP would hold 25 per cent of cabinet positions, Boag said, adding that the finance minister and the deputy prime minister would be Liberals.

The Bloc Québécois would not officially be a part of the coalition, but the new government's survival would depend on their support, he said.

The Harper government could prorogue Parliament to block the coalition efforts, but "that'd be a very, very dramatic step given the government has taken the position there'll be a budget early in January," Boag said.

"The real obstacle to this deal going through is still within the Liberal party," Boag said, adding the deal is being negotiated by Dion, who believes he has the right to be prime minister.

But it's unclear whether the party wants him to continue, and the leadership candidates were meeting Sunday evening to discuss the matter, Boag said.

Canwest reports:

The National Post reported that Michael Ignatieff is to become prime minister in a Liberal-led coalition if the opposition parties do bring down the Conservatives in a no-confidence vote next week. It went on to say that outgoing Liberal Leader Stephane Dion would step aside and that leadership Bob Rae would receive a senior cabinet post. The Post reports that the plan will be presented to the Liberal caucus Monday afternoon.

But a spokesman for Bob Rae categorically denied Sunday night that Rae has agreed to step aside to make room for Ignatieff and said that Dion was not even at the meeting where the purported deal was said to have been hatched.

Also Sunday night, there were media reports which said that the Liberals and NDP had agreed on sharing cabinet seats, although there were conflicting reports on the number of portfolios each party would get.

Whatever's going on, the Liberals had better get their ducks in a row quickly by getting these leadership egos out of the way if what they're up to is truly for the good of the country. We've had enough politicking this year, thank you very much.

And, here's more of who might have recorded the NDP caucus call:

Harper's spokesman Kory Teneycke said the PMO was inadvertently given the co-ordinates to the teleconference call between Layton and his caucus. Teneycke said he would "leave it to others" to decide if it were ethical to tape the conversation and to distribute it.

There you go. It was the PMO's office. Busted. They wouldn't know the definition of "ethical" if it slapped them in the face. No wonder they have no shame about what they've done.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Conservative Talking Points Brought to you by the G&M

The Globe and Mail has published an e-mail, from Guy Giorno, Steve's chief of staff, to Con sockpuppets who need help selling the so-called economic update to the media and the public.

At least it's not 200 plus pages like the manual about how to destroy parliamentary committees. That's an improvement.

As I stated in a previous post, I listened to right-wing talk radio for a few hours on Saturday and there's no doubt that the message from on high was received.

Here are the talking points:

Mr. Giorno's message included very detailed scripts MPs are expected to follow while delivering radio interviews that include the following lines:

* We're not even two months removed from the last election, and a group of backroom politicians are going to pick who the Prime Minister is. Canadians didn't vote for this person. We don't even know who this person will be.
* Not a single voter voted for a Liberal-NDP coalition. Certainly not a single voter voted for the Liberals to form a coalition with the separatists in the Bloc.
* This is what bothers me the most. The Conservatives won the election. The Opposition keeps saying that the Conservatives have to respect the will of the voters that this is a minority and so on.
* …how about Liberals, NDP and Bloc respecting the will of the voters when they said "YOU LOSE".
* And what's this going to do to the economy. I'm sorry, I don't care how desperate the Liberals are — giving socialists (Jack Layton) and separatists (Gilles Duceppe) a veto over every decision in government — that is a recipe for total economic disaster.
* But how more phony could these guys be?
* I mean, I follow the news, virtually every single day you have Harper or Flaherty out there telegraphing exactly what they plan to do with the economy. And not once did you hear the Liberals, NDP or separatists talking about toppling the government in response.
* No — do you know what set this off. When Flaherty said he was going to take taxpayer-funded subsidies away from the opposition. Now there is a reason to try and overturn an election— because the Conservatives the audacity to say "Hey, it's a recession, maybe you should take your nose out of the trough."
* And I wish the media would be more clear on this point — the opposition aren't being singled out by this fact the Conservatives stand to lose the most money of all. The only difference is that Canadians are voluntarily giving money the Conservatives, so they don't need taxpayer handouts. The only reason the opposition would be hurt more is because nobody wants to donate to them. They should be putting their efforts towards fixing that problem.
* I don't want another election. But what I want even less is a surprise backroom Prime Minister whom I never even had the opportunity to vote for or against. What an insult to democracy.

I love the smell of desperation in the morning.

I wonder what those MPs will do now that their Dear Leader has backed off cutting the public financing of political parties. Quick! Someone needs to issue new talking points to the brainless ones pronto!

Memo to Cons: Blame Steve

The (self) righteous indignation of Conservative party supporters is palpable. Heads are exploding all over western Canada. Beware grey matter splatter. Dress appropriately.

Fueled by right-wing radio talk show hosts on stations like Corus Entertainment's QR77 in Calgary, the angry mobs on the airwaves have their virtual torches and pitchforks ready to go while they rail against what they characterize as an attempted "coup d'etat" by the federal opposition parties who've threatened to form a coalition government to bring down the Harper regime.

The funny thing is that radio hosts blowhards like Charles Adler and Roy Green (I'll get to him later) both admit that Steve's decision to gut federal financing of political parties was a mistake - a "weapon", as Adler put it, simply handed to the opposition at a very bad time. Steve seems to have received that message since he announced on Saturday that he's running away from that decision. Typical bully - taunt and taunt and when someone calls you on it, run as fast as you can in the other direction.

As for Green, I'm not a regular listener (thankfully) but I sure let him know that I was listening to his show today after he was absolutely rude, petulant, and childish in the way he treated MP Libby Davies, whom he had invited onto his show as a guest. He battered her with his non-stop anger and refused to give her a chance to answer. When she did manage to get a few words in though, she stayed calm and chided him for his ridiculously emotional behaviour and then went on to try to explain the NDP's viewpoint. Kudos to her.

Green was nowhere as rude to Bob Rae or John Baird (who came onto the show 2 hours late - yes, I listened to his show for 2 hours - the horror). Green was appalled - appalled I tell ya! - at the idea that the Liberals and NDP would get support from the Bloc to bring this coalition to fruition. He continually denied the fact that the Conservative party has repeatedly used the Bloc's support while it's attempted to lead a minority government because it had to. Rae was quick to point that out (as was I in an e-mail to Green). Hypocrisy might be entertaining but it's no substitute for the truth.

So much misdirected anger. Conservative supporters need to take a good, long look at the fact that their party failed to step up to the plate at a moment in time when the economic situation needs immediate action and active solutions. "Wait until Flaherty announces his new budget next year" is not acceptable. If your house was burning down, would you appreciate being put on hold by a 911 operator? No, I didn't think so. And if that 911 operator didn't effectively deal with your situation, wouldn't you want him or her fired? No doubt. Well, guess what? Canada's economy is on fire. And not in a good way. We're dialing 911 and being put on hold.

We know what "taking responsibility" looks like after watching years of Harper in office. It's simple: blame the Liberals. Blame anyone else you can. That's why there's so much right-wing anger out there today. It's so much easier to spew misplaced, red-faced rage than it is to look at your own role in your impending demise. So, be angry. The rest of us will be responsible and rational. Somebody has to be. Maybe we'll even save your house while we're at it.


G-G would have little choice but to accept coalition, experts say
Harper scrambles to retain power
Flaherty's instinct to cut out of step with world

Friday, November 28, 2008

How to be a Boneheaded Conservative

(Yes, I realize that phrase includes a built-in redundancy.)

Now then...let's review the past couple of days to provide Conservatives and their supporters a lesson in how real boneheadedness operates in Ottawa.

1. Announce an "economic update" in the midst of a global financial crisis.
2. Provide absolutely no stimulus to Canada's economy even though we're headed for a "technical" recession with a "structural" deficit while continually reminding people that you did stuff last year.
3. Take advantage of the national stage to strip rights away from women (no pay equity for you! Does that include Con cabinet ministers?) and workers (don't even think about striking! An old Ralph Klein idea). And throw a few dollars at seniors temporarily hoping they'll be dead in a year and won't notice that they'll still be shafted down the line anyway if they actually do survive that long.
4. And for the final coup de grace (there had to be something bilingual in there somewhere), end public financing of political parties (knowing that your party mainly benefits from private donors while leaving the opposition parties basically bankrupt, ).
5. Stand back, give yourself a big pat on the back and say you really did something today to help the average Canadian who's melting down in financial turmoil.

But wait! That's not all.

When you get wind of the fact that the Liberals aren't going to play nice this time by rubber stamping your..."creativity", shall we call it?...and that there are rumblings afoot about the formation of a coalition government ready and willing to vote your Conservative butts out of office on Monday, simply cancel any and all votes scheduled for that day and whine about how the Liberals and NDP really can't take that coalition ball and run with it, knowing full well that it's a legal possibility.



Call your mom.

Call Karl Rove.

Use that old cartoon line, "Curses! Foiled again."

And wait.

Because you know this time, they mean business.

(Are you having fun yet? I know I sure am!)

Stay tuned next week for more Conservative boneheadedness. You know they just can't help themselves.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


If there was a prize for the blogger who moves the most often, I'd win it. I'm moving on east of Calgary this Saturday - out of the city again (finally!) and into a weird little bedroom community. That should be interesting. It's all part of my master plan to eventually buy a car again (I gave mine up a few years ago) and move back out into the real country some day where I'll settle down and finally write that Giller prize-worthy novel (right).

I was a bit worried that I might not have easy access to big city shopping facilities (ie. malls) if I moved out there but who am I kidding? Like I actually shop all that often anyway (or go out, even? Not with this back and not with my current state of finances). They do have some stores out there and, luckily enough, my newest roomie/landlady will let me use her vehicle if I need to. How nice is that??

I can't wait to shake off the city (and current roomie situation) noise. Cape Bretoners can be quite...ummm..."lively" and I am...not.

So, I won't be posting all that often in the next while.

I did watch the Remembrance Day ceremony from Parliament Hill this morning and what struck me as terribly sad was listening to the voices of the children singing - children taught about peace and all that means - who then grow up to learn the ugly reality that war powers lay in the hands of men (mostly) who send people off to die for resources, power and money. And when I saw a clip of Bush's speech, I once again felt that extreme contempt that comes with watching someone who should be tried for war crimes spouting off as if he did something exaltingly moral by invading Iraq and horribly ignoring the plight of the Afghans whose lives he's ruined as well. And don't even get me started on the so-called Middle East peace process. What process?

Once again, RIP to the veterans and civilians who've perished and may the walking wounded receive the best care possible.

In the words of John Lennon:

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

We sing it but do we really mean it?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Nite USA

I'm not excited. Not like the massive throngs of people waiting on the edges of their seats to find out who will lead The Empire into its next chapter of "change" (however you want to define that).

My moment of relief will come when Bush leaves DC as the past president and Cheney disappears into Wyoming's ether - never to be heard from again unless it's from the defendant's chair in his war crimes trial.

Obama will most likely win. To not would be a nearly inexplicable defeat. But I've watched and listened and read him too much to believe or hope that "Yes We Can" is anything more than a very effective marketing slogan. What people think he can do and what he actually will do has yet to be seen. And I'll be watching.


11 pm ET - It's all over: OBAMA has won.


Monday, November 03, 2008

Thousands Disappear in DR Congo

Stunning news:

The first UN aid convoy to reach the heart of rebel-held territory in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo arrived yesterday to find refugee camps that had housed tens of thousands of people last week now standing empty.

Stunned aid workers described the camps around Rutshuru that had been sheltering as many as 50,000 people displaced by the relentless fighting, as levelled with all signs of building materials and people gone.

"All the camps are empty. They have all left," said Francis Nakwafio Kasai, a field officer with the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). "All the shelters have been destroyed ... nothing remains."

The BBC adds:

Aid workers found refugee camps that had held tens of thousands were virtually empty. Many people are believed to have fled into the forests around the camps fearing further violence.

While as many as 50,000 displaced people reached Goma, many others have tried to return to their homes on foot without safe shelter, food or water.

The recent rebel offensive was exacerbated by a wave of killing, looting and raping by retreating Congolese soldiers.

On Sunday afternoon, I was surprised to hear CNN anchor Don Lemon actually say at the top of the hour that they'd go straight to their election coverage because there was no other news. Well, guess what Don? There's a helluva more going on in the world than your election and whoever wins will have this growing humanitarian crisis to deal with and AFRICOM is (rightly) off to a very rocky start. Having been refused a permanent headquarters on the continent so far, it will remain based in Germany - and with good reason.

So, just how much attention will be paid to regional conflicts horrors like those in DR Congo and Darfur by a new American administration? And exactly how will that attention be given? African leaders are justified in their concern that the permanent presence of American military personnel on their land will only serve to bring up fears of western colonialism once again. They've been down that road before.

Meanwhile, as the power struggle continues, what will be done about these disappearing and dying refugees?

Congo's riches fuel its war

Flaherty Meets Reality

Flaherty - March 1, 2008:

"If you're going to make a new business investment in Canada, and you're concerned about taxes, the last place you will go is the province of Ontario."

Flaherty - today:

MISSISSAUGA — Ontario will for the first time collect from a federal program designed to shift wealth to Canada's poorest regions next year, an unpleasant reminder of the grim economic prospects facing the country's most populous province.

Premier Dalton McGuinty's government will receive $347-million in the fiscal year starting in March, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced at a meeting Monday with his provincial and territorial counterparts.

“It's sort of an odd feeling to see Ontario in such difficult straits,” Mr. Flaherty, a finance minister under former Ontario Premier Mike Harris, told reporters. “Regrettably, I expect Ontario will be in the equalization program for some time to come.”

Maybe if he'd actually listened to all of the opposition parties pounding on him day after day the last couple of years about the sorry state of the manufacturing sector in Canada, he wouldn't be experiencing whatever this "odd feeling" is today. (I suspect that feeling is actually indigestion from having to eat crow.)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Sunday Food for Thought: How about a non-campaign?

Here's something to think about: considering how close Obama and McCain poll numbers are in the homestretch, would it have made any difference if they hadn't wasted hundreds of millions of dollars campaigning?

The elections since 2000 have shown that Americans are still almost evenly divided when it comes to sticking to their partisanship guns. I'd hypothesize that even if both of these candidates had just stayed home since they were both chosen as their party's picks for president, those poll numbers would be eerily similar, regardless.

Perhaps the most stunning aspect of the American public's behaviour these past 8 years is the fact that even though Bush's campaign of slashing and burning anything resembling democracy, the rule of law and decency, and the fundamentals of his own party have made him one of the most unpopular presidents ever, once again half of the voters see some redeeming quality in choosing a Republican representative who has overwhelmingly supported those policies as a logical and rational choice.

On the Democratic side, considering the embarrassingly low approval numbers of the Democratically-led congress and the failures and capitulation of Harry Reid and Nancy 'impeachment is off the table' Pelosi added to the centrist mantra Obama has been pushing while so many of his supporters think he's some kind of liberal in the true sense of the word, the cognitive dissonance is equally as palpable.

Overall then, would it have made any difference at all if this whole charade involved candidates who literally were a dog and a pony? I don't think so.

You have a Republican who's clumsily tried to convince people that he's not a Bush sockpuppet and a Democrat who really should have been able to muster an incredible amount of support - enough to have a huge lead in the polls at this point - after Dubya destroyed the country. Neither candidate has managed to deliver on their promise to bridge the partisan divide during this campaign and they have both run races that have mirrored the nastiness and shrillness of every other one before them. Why should we think that either of their presidencies will change that mood in the years to come?

America likes to consider itself as being on the cutting edge so, next time, why not take that to the limit - saving enormous amounts of money and the frazzled nerves of election watchers, journalists, pundits and bloggers (not to mention all of those train, bus, car and plane fumes) - and just have a non-campaign campaign? I'm sure the rest of us could find something else to do with our time (and sanity) until election day.